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SSC Endorses Clinton, Johnson, Or Stein

I.

If you are American, SSC endorses voting in this presidential election.

Andrew Gelman, Nate Silver, and Aaron Edlin calculate the chance that a single vote will determine the election (ie break a tie in a state that breaks an Electoral College tie). It ranges from about one in ten million (if you live in a swing state) to one in a billion (if you live in a very safe state). The average American has a one in sixty million chance of determining the election results. The paper was from the 2008 election, which was a pro-Obama landslide; since this election is closer the chance of determining it may be even higher.

The size of the US budget is about $4 trillion, but Presidents can only affect a tiny bit of that – most of the money funds the same programs no matter who’s in charge. But Presidents do shift budgetary priorities a lot. GW Bush started a war in Iraq which probably cost $2 trillion; the CBO estimates Obamacare may cost about $1.2 trillion. Neither of these are pure costs – Obamacare buys us more health care, and military presence in Iraq buys us [mumble] – but if you think these are less (or more) efficient ways to spend money than other possible uses, then they represent ways that having one President might be better than another. If we suppose a good president would use these trillions of dollars at least 33% more efficiently than a bad president, then this is still $300 billion in value.

So order of magnitude, having a good President rather than a bad one can be worth $300 billion. A 1/60 million chance to create $300 billion in value is worth $5,000; even the 1/1 billion chance afforded someone in a safe state is worth $300.

We don’t know for sure that we’re right about politics. In order to add signal rather than noise to the election results, we have to be better than the average voter. The Inside View is useless here; probably every voter thinks they’re better than average. I recommend the Outside View – looking for measurable indicators correlated with ability to make good choices. Education’s probably a good one. IQ might be another. But overall, my suggestion is that if you’re seriously uncertain about whether or not you think more clearly than the average voter, by that fact alone you almost certainly do.

Suppose you live in a swing state. If you think (in a well-calibrated way) that it’s 10% more likely that your candidate will use $1 trillion well than that the other candidate will, your vote is worth $500. If you live in a safe state, it’s more like $30. If you value the amount of time it takes to vote at less than that, voting is conceivably a good use of your time.

II.

SSC endorses voting for Hillary Clinton if you live in a swing state. If you live in a safe state, I endorse voting for Clinton, Johnson, or (if you insist) Stein. If you want, you can use a vote-swapping site to make this easier or more impactful.

You might notice who’s missing from this endorsement. I think Donald Trump would be a bad president.

Partly this is because of his policies, insofar as he has them. I’m not going to talk much about these because I don’t think I can change anyone’s mind here – either you agree with me (and disagree with Trump) on things like abortion, global warming, free trade, et cetera, or you don’t. A two sentence argument in a blog post won’t change your mind either way.

In fact, I’m not sure any of this ever changes anyone’s mind, and I didn’t really want to write this post. But the latest news says:

This is going to be close. And since the lesson of Brexit is that polls underestimate support for politically incorrect choices, this is going to be really close.

And I don’t know if I’d go so far as Scott Aaronson, who worries that he will one day live in a nuclear hellscape where his children ask him “Daddy, why didn’t you blog about Trump?”. But if some of my blogging on conservative issues has given me any political capital with potential Trump voters, then I this is where I want to spend it.

So here are some reasons why I would be afraid to have Trump as president even if I agreed with him about the issues.

Many conservatives make the argument against utopianism. The millenarian longing for a world where all systems are destroyed, all problems are solved, and everything is permissible – that’s dangerous whether it comes from Puritans or Communists. These same conservatives have traced this longing through leftist history from Lenin through social justice.

Which of the candidates in this election are millennarian? If Sanders were still in, I’d say fine, he qualifies. If Stein were in, same, no contest. But Hillary? The left and right both critique Hillary the same way. She’s too in bed with the system. Corporations love her. Politicians love her. All she wants to do is make little tweaks – a better tax policy here, a new foreign policy doctrine there. The critiques are right. Hillary represents complete safety from millennialism.

Trump’s policy ideas are mostly silly, but no one cares, because he’s not really running on policy. He’s running on making America great again, fighting the special interests, and defying the mainstream media. Nobody cares what policies he’ll implement after he does this, because his campaign is more an expression of rage at these things than anything else.

In my review of Singer on Marx, I wrote that:

I’d always heard that Marx was long on condemnations of capitalism and short on blueprints for communism, and the couple of Marx’s works I read in college confirmed he really didn’t talk about that very much. It seemed like a pretty big gap. I figured…he’d probably made a few vague plans, like “Oh, decisions will be made by a committee of workers,” and “Property will be held in common and consensus democracy will choose who gets what,” and felt like the rest was just details. That’s the sort of error I could at least sympathize with, despite its horrendous consequences.

But in fact Marx was philosophically opposed, as a matter of principle, to any planning about the structure of communist governments or economies. He would come out and say “It is irresponsible to talk about how communist governments and economies will work.” He believed it was a scientific law, analogous to the laws of physics, that once capitalism was removed, a perfect communist government would form of its own accord. There might be some very light planning, a couple of discussions, but these would just be epiphenomena of the governing historical laws working themselves out. Just as, a dam having been removed, a river will eventually reach the sea somehow, so capitalism having been removed society will eventually reach a perfect state of freedom and cooperation.

Singer blames Hegel. Hegel viewed all human history as the World-Spirit trying to recognize and incarnate itself. As it overcomes its various confusions and false dichotomies, it advances into forms that more completely incarnate the World-Spirit and then moves onto the next problem. Finally, it ends with the World-Spirit completely incarnated – possibly in the form of early 19th century Prussia – and everything is great forever.

Marx famously exports Hegel’s mysticism into a materialistic version where the World-Spirit operates upon class relations rather than the interconnectedness of all things, and where you don’t come out and call it the World-Spirit – but he basically keeps the system intact. So once the World-Spirit resolves the dichotomy between Capitalist and Proletariat, then it can more completely incarnate itself and move on to the next problem. Except that this is the final problem (the proof of this is trivial and is left as exercise for the reader) so the World-Spirit becomes fully incarnate and everything is great forever. And you want to plan for how that should happen? Are you saying you know better than the World-Spirit, Comrade?

I am starting to think I was previously a little too charitable toward Marx. My objections were of the sort “You didn’t really consider the idea of welfare capitalism with a social safety net” or “communist society is very difficult to implement in principle,” whereas they should have looked more like “You are basically just telling us to destroy all of the institutions that sustain human civilization and trust that what is baaaasically a giant planet-sized ghost will make sure everything works out.”

And since then, one of the central principles behind my philosophy has been “Don’t destroy all existing systems and hope a planet-sized ghost makes everything work out”. Systems are hard. Institutions are hard. If your goal is to replace the current systems with better ones, then destroying the current system is 1% of the work, and building the better ones is 99% of it. Throughout history, dozens of movements have doomed entire civilizations by focusing on the “destroying the current system” step and expecting the “build a better one” step to happen on its own. That never works. The best parts of conservativism are the ones that guard this insight and shout it at a world too prone to taking shortcuts.

Donald Trump does not represent those best parts of conservativism. To transform his movement into Marxism, just replace “the bourgeoisie” with “the coastal elites” and “false consciousness” with “PC speech”. Just replace the assumption that everything will work itself out once power is in the hands of the workers, with the assumption that everything will work itself out once power is in the hands of “real Americans”. Just replace the hand-waving lack of plans with what to do after the Revolution with a hand-waving lack of plans what to do after the election. In both cases, the sheer virtue of the movement, and the apocalyptic purification of the rich people keeping everyone else down, is supposed to mean everything will just turn out okay on its own. That never works.

A commenter on here the other day quoted an Atlantic article complaining that “The press takes [Trump] literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally”. Well, count me in that second group. I don’t think he’s literal. I think when he talks about building a wall and keeping out Muslims, he’s metaphorically saying “I’m going to fight for you, the real Americans”. When he talks about tariffs and trade deals, he’s metaphorically saying “I’m going to fight for you, the real Americans”. Fine. But neither of those two things are a plan. The problem with getting every American a job isn’t that nobody has been fighting for them, the problem with getting every American a job is that getting 100% employment in a modern economy is a really hard problem.

Donald Trump not only has no solution to that problem, he doesn’t even understand the question. He lives in a world where there is no such thing as intelligence, only loyalty. If we haven’t solved all of our problems yet, it’s because the Department of Problem-Solving was insufficiently loyal, and didn’t try hard enough. His only promise is to fill that department with loyal people who really want the problem solved.

I’ve never been fully comfortable with the Left because I feel like they often make the same error – the only reason there’s still poverty is because the corporate-run government is full of traitors who refuse to make the completely great, no-downsides policy of raising the minimum wage. One of the right’s great redeeming feature has been an awareness of these kinds of tradeoffs. But this election, it’s Hillary who sounds restrained and realistic, and Trump who wants the moon on a silver platter (“It will be the best moon you’ve ever seen. And the silver platter is going to be yuuuuuge!”)

III.

But I guess you’ve got to balance someone’s ability to pursue goals effectively with whether you like the goals they’ll be pursuing. I can imagine someone admitting that Clinton will probably be better at governing than Trump, but preferring Trump’s position on the issues so much that it still gives him an edge. In that case, I beg you to consider not only the mean but the variance.

I think even people who expect Trump to be a better President on average will admit he’s a high-variance choice. Hillary is an overwhelmingly known quantity at this point. A Hillary presidency will probably be a lot like Obama’s presidency. There might be a Libya-style military action; probably not an Iraq-style one. If something terrible happens like China tries to invade Taiwan, she will probably make some sort of vaguely reasonable decision after consulting her advisors. She might do a bad job, but it’s hard to imagine a course where a Hillary presidency leads directly to the apocalypse, the fall of American democracy, et cetera.

Trump isn’t a known quantity. Maybe he’ll kind of dodder around and be kind of funny while not changing much. Or maybe there will be some crisis and Trump will take what could have been a quickly-defused diplomatic incident and turn it into World War III. Remember also that it’s more likely the House and Senate both stay Republican than that they both switch to being Democrat. So if Hillary is elected, she’ll probably spend four years smashing her head against Congress; if Trump is elected, he will probably get a lot of what he wants.

Some people like high variance. I don’t. The world has seen history’s greatest alleviation of poverty over the past few decades, and this shows every sign of continuing as long as we don’t do something incredibly stupid that blows up the current world order. I’m less sanguine about the state of America in particular but I think that its generally First World problems probably can’t be solved by politics. They will probably require either genetic engineering or artificial intelligence; the job of our generation is keep the world functional enough to do the research that will create those technologies, and to alleviate as much suffering as we can in the meantime. I don’t see a Clinton presidency as making the world non-functional, whatever that means. I don’t know what I see a Trump presidency doing because, Trump is inherently unpredictable, but some major blow to world functionality is definitely on the list of possibilities.

The one place where Clinton is higher-variance than Trump is immigration. Clinton does not explicitly support open borders, but given her election on a pro-immigration platform and the massive anti-Trump immigration backlash that seems to be materializing, it’s easy to see her moving in that direction. If you believe that immigrants can import the less-effective institutions of their home countries, lower the intelligence of the national hive mind, or cause ethnic fractionalization that replaces sustainable democratic politics with ethnic coalition-building (unlike the totally-not-ethnic-coalition-based politics of today, apparently?), that could potentially make the world less functional and prevent useful technologies from being deployed.

I consider this one of the strongest pro-Trump arguments, but I think it exaggerates the scale of the problem. Hillary will have a Republican Congress to contend with; she probably won’t be able to increase immigration very much. Immigration rates are currently too low to cause massive demographic change before the point at which useful technologies can be deployed, and most immigrants are Asian and come from countries with pretty good institutions themselves. More important, Trump’s anti-immigration policies would prevent foreign researchers from attending top American universities, and probably slow the deployment of future technologies directly, far more than any indirect effect from Hillary would.

There’s another argument here – how exactly are we visualizing a world where immigrants damage American institutions? I envision it as America becoming more like Third World countries – constant ethnic tension, government by strongmen, rampant corruption, lack of respect for checks and balances, and overregulation of industry. But Trump is promising us all of that already, without even admitting any immigrants! If we’re going to become a Third World country, let’s at least help some people while we’re doing it!

IV.

US conservatism is in crisis, and I think that crisis might end better if Trump loses than if he wins.

Since a country with thriving conservative and liberal parties is lower-variance than one with lots of liberals but no effective conservatism, I would like conservatism to get out of crisis as soon as possible and reach the point where it could form an effective opposition. It would also be neat if whatever form conservatism ended out taking had some slight contact with reality and what would help the country (this is not meant as a dig at conservatives – I’m not sure the Democrats have much contact with reality or helps the country either; I’m wishing for the moon and stars here).

Nobody expects Republicans to win blacks and Hispanics. The interesting thing about this election is that college-educated whites are also moving into the Democratic column. If the latest polls are to be believed, the demographic – which favored Romney by 14 points last election – favors Clinton by 8 points now. The nightmare scenario is that Trump wins, his style of anti-intellectual populism is cemented as Official New Republican Ideology, and every educated person switches to the Democrats.

I’m not 100% this would be bad – maybe educated people who are temperamentally conservative would pull the Democratic Party a little to the right, turning them into a broad moderate coalition which has no problem winning elections and combines the smartest elements of liberal and conservative thought. But more likely, there’s a vicious cycle where the lack of intelligent conservatives guts the system of think tanks that produce the sort of studies and analyses which convince smart people to become conservative, which in turn makes there even fewer intelligent conservatives, and so on. In the end, intellectuals won’t just vote Democrat; they’ll shift their personal views further to the left to fit in. We already have a problem with a glut of leftist researchers and journalists producing evidence why leftists are right about everything, and a shortage of conservative researchers and journalists to fact-check them and present the opposite case. As intelligent people desert the Republican Party, this situation gets worse and we lose access to any knowledge that Vox doesn’t want to write an explainer on. In the worst case scenario, everybody develops a hard-coded association between “conservative” and “stupid people”, even more than they have already, the academies purge the hell out of everyone even slightly to the right of the loudest activist, and the only alternative is The Donald Trump Institute Of Research That Is Going To Be Absolutely Yuuuuuuge, which busies itself putting out white papers to a coalition of illiterates.

If Trump fails, then the situation is – much the same, really, but conservatives can at least get started right now picking up the pieces instead of having to wait four years. There’s a fundamental problem, which is that about 30% of the US population is religious poor southern whites who are generally not very educated, mostly not involved in US intellectual life, but form the biggest and most solid voting bloc in the country. If you try to form two parties with 50% of the vote each, then whichever party gets the religious poor southern whites is going to be dominated by them and end up vulnerable to populism. Since the religious poor southern whites are conservative, that’s always going to be the conservative party’s cross to bear and conservatism is always going to be less intellectual than liberalism in this country. I don’t know how to solve this. But there have been previous incarnations of American conservatism that have been better at dealing with the problem than this one, and maybe if Trumpism gets decisively defeated it will encourage people to work on the problem.

V.

I said I wouldn’t try to convince people about the big hot-button issues, but I’ve been told now thatthe guardrails of democracy have been broken lying is okay. So let’s talk about global warming.

Most hot-button issues are less President-influenced than most people think. No Supreme Court is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade at this point, so the president’s impact on abortion is limited to whatever edge cases come before the justices they appoint. I have no idea whether there was more or less capital punishment during Obama’s administration than Bush’s, but I doubt that the president’s opinion of the issue had much impact one way or the other. But it looks like the Obama administration made really impressive progress on global warming; needless to say Donald Trump feels differently.

I don’t want to argue climate science here. I want to say that, as usual, I support the low-variance position that’s not going to make the world vastly less functional before we can invent genetic engineering or AI. Even if you doubt modern climate science, are you so sure it’s wrong that it’s worth the risk? What chance of global warming being a real problem would it take before you agreed that we should probably reduce CO2 emissions just in case? How could that chance possibly be lower than the chance of something that 90-something percent of the relevant scientists believe to be true is true? Yes, we know here that science is not always as authoritative as it would like to be, but it’s not completely anticorrelated with truth either!

(also, if the research about high CO2 levels decreasing cognitive ability is true – and my guess is no, but I’m far from sure – that could be even more disastrous than the traditional global warming effects – remember that even tiny IQ decreases have horrible consequences on a society-wide scale.)

VI.

Okay, but what about the real reason Trump is so popular?

When I talk to Trump supporters, it’s not usually about doubting climate change, or thinking Trump will take the conservative movement in the right direction, or even immigration. It’s about the feeling that a group of arrogant, intolerant, sanctimonious elites have seized control of a lot of national culture and are using it mostly to spread falsehood and belittle anybody different than them. And Trump is both uniquely separate from these elites and uniquely repugnant to them – which makes him look pretty good to everyone else.

This is definitely true. Please vote Hillary anyway.

Aside from the fact that getting back at annoying people isn’t worth eroding the foundations of civil society – do you really think a Trump election is going to hurt these people at all? Make them question anything? “Oh, 51% of the American people disagree with me, I guess that means I’ve got a lot of self-reflecting to do.” Of course not. A Trump election would just confirm for them exactly what they already believe – that the average American is a stupid racist who needs to be kept as far away from public life as possible. If Trump gets elected, sure, the editorial pages will be full of howls of despair the next day, but underneath the howls will be quiet satisfaction that the world is exactly the way they believed it to be.

The right sometimes argues that modern leftism is analogous to early millenarian Christianity. They argue this, and then they say “You know what would stop these people in their tracks? A strong imperial figure who persecutes them. That’s definitely going to make them fade away quietly. There is no way this can possibly go wrong.”

Leftism has never been about controlling the government, and really the government is one of the areas it controls least effectively – even now both houses of Congress, most state legislatures, most governors, etc, are Republican. When people say that the Left is in control, they’re talking about academia, the media, the arts, and national culture writ large. But all of these things have a tendency to define themselves in opposition to the government. When the left controls the government, this is awkward and tends to involve a lot of infighting. When the right controls the government, it gets easy. If Trump controls the government, it gets ridiculously easy.

This has real-world effects. Millennials are more conservative than previous generations. Andrew Gelman, who is usually right about everything, says:

If you look at the cohort of young voters who came of age during George W. Bush’s presidency, they’re mostly Democrats, which makes sense as Bush was a highly unpopular Republican. The young voters who came of age during Obama’s presidency are more split, which makes sense because Obama is neither popular nor unpopular; he has an approval of about 50%

I would prefer the next generation end up leaning more to the right, because that will cancel out younger people’s natural tendency to lean left and make them pretty moderate and so low-variance. I definitely don’t want an unpopular far-right presidency, because then they’re going to lean left, which will combined with the natural leftiness of the young and make them super left. And this is the sort of thing that affects the culture!

VII.

One more warning for conservatives who still aren’t convinced. If the next generation is radicalized by Trump being a bad president, they’re not just going to lean left. They’re going to lean regressive, totalitarian, super-social-justice left.

Everyone has already constructed the narrative: Trump is the anti-PC, anti-social-justice candidate. If he wins, he’s going to be the anti-PC, anti-social-justice President. And he will fail. First of all, because he doesn’t really show much sign of knowing what he’s doing. Second of all, because all presidents fail in a sense – 80% of Americans consistently believe the country is headed the wrong direction and the president is the natural fall guy for this trend. And third of all, because even if by some miracle Trump avoids the first two failure modes, the media will say he failed and people will believe them. And when the anti-PC, anti-social-justice President fails, the reaction will be a giant “we told you so” from the social justice movement, and a giant shift of all the disillusioned young people right into their fold.

Trump is all set to be the biggest gift to the social justice movement in history. They thrive on claims of persecution, claims that they’re the ones fighting a stupid hateful regressive culture that controls everything. And people think that bringing their straw man to life and putting him in the Oval Office is going to help?

If you’re a Jew fighting anti-Semitism, the absolute minimum you can do is not actually kill Christian children and use their blood to make matzah. Likewise, if you are a principled classical liberal fighting the social justice movement’s attempt to smear anyone who disagrees with them as an overprivileged clueless hateful Neanderthal, the absolute minimum you can do is not actually be an overprivileged clueless hateful Neanderthal. Opinions on Trump range all the way from “he is definitely an overprivileged clueless hateful Neanderthal” to “he is remarkably and uniquely bad at not appearing to be an overprivileged clueless hateful Neanderthal”. In any case, having him as the public face of anti-social-justice for the next four years would be a godsend for them and a disaster for everyone else.

VIII.

There’s one more thought I wanted to mention which is vaguely in this space.

The enemy isn’t leftism or social justice. The enemy is epistemic vice.

When the Left errs, it’s through using shouting and shaming to cut through the long and painful process of having to justify its beliefs. It’s through confusing disagreement with evil, a dissenter who needs convincing with a thought-criminal who needs neutralizing.

Sometimes it might be strategically necessary to whack particular ideologies to make examples of them. But in the longer-term, replacing left with right just puts a new group of people in position to shame their opponents and silence dissent. The long range plan has to combine a short-term need to neutralize immediate would-be tyrants with a long-term need to slowly encourage epistemic virtue so that we don’t have to keep putting out fires.

Now, watch this video:

Trump’s not in that crowd. But does anyone think he disagrees with it? Can anyone honestly say that Trump or his movement promote epistemic virtue? That in the long-term, we’ll be glad that we encouraged this sort of thing, that we gave it power and attention and all the nutrients it needed to grow? That the road to whatever vision of a just and rational society we imagine, something quiet and austere with a lot of old-growth trees and Greek-looking columns, runs through LOCK HER UP?

I don’t like having to vote for the lesser of two evils. But at least I feel like I know who it is.

RELATED: Eliezer, The Unit Of Caring, Scott Aaronson

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2,317 Responses to SSC Endorses Clinton, Johnson, Or Stein

  1. House of Cards says:

    > If you look at the cohort of young voters who came of age during George W. Bush’s presidency, they’re mostly Democrats, which makes sense as Bush was a highly unpopular Republican. The young voters who came of age during Obama’s presidency are more split, which makes sense because Obama is neither popular nor unpopular; he has an approval of about 50%
    > because all presidents fail in a sense – 80% of Americans consistently believe the country is headed the wrong direction and the president is the natural fall guy for this trend.

    THIS. This never occurred to me until I read this article, but in this election this is the single overriding concern. Whoever gets elected this time will be hugely unpopular among the new generation of voters.
    The Clinton name brands Hillary indelibly as a political insider, a dynastic heir. And Hillary has exactly none of the folksy charm that let Bill Clinton get away with anything. She’s the Democratic Dick Cheney: she reminds people of the school principal they just *hated*.

    Whoever gets elected won’t be in office forever. If you care at all what happens to this country eight years from now, hold your nose and vote for Clinton.
    Of course the corollary to this is: hold your nose and vote for the Republican senator and congresswoman, even if they’re not the sharpest tacks in the drawer, unless you live in a state where a non-Republican has a realistic chance of beating the Democrat. Because Clinton *is* an insider, and she knows how to entrench her loyalists so they’ll be practically impossible for the next President to dislodge. The only way to stop that is to stuff Congress with people who will fight her over every last line-item of the budget and every last judge.

    > I’m not sure any of this ever changes anyone’s mind

    I couldn’t swear 100% that you changed my mind. But on Sunday, I hadn’t decided who to vote for. (For basically the “high-variance” reason you mentioned — with Hillary, I know exactly what I’d get and I don’t want it; with Trump…who really knows?)
    On Sunday, I read this article. It stuck with me. Monday night, it kept rolling around in my head.
    Today, Tuesday, I marked and mailed my ballot — for Hillary.

    Of course I also made sure to vote the Republicans into Congress, so, uh…I’m not really sure if you’ll be pleased with your accomplishment or not.

    I do think your argument for *voting* is wrong. In the real world, the chance of a single vote deciding the election is zero because if the election is anywhere near that close, the election will be decided by the Supreme Court.
    But there’s a much better argument for voting: I want to live in a world where the class of people *similar enough to me to make the same decision for roughly the same reasons* chose to vote.

    I should also mention that if Clinton really does go to war with Russia, I pre-emptively give everyone here my blessing to call me an idiot.

  2. Adam Pierce says:

    Only one person can be the deciding vote (if there is one), so you are asking millions of people to vote in order to produce a total of $5,000 in value.

  3. backpacker says:

    If you are American, SSC endorses voting in this presidential election.

    Having a good President rather than a bad one can be worth $300 billion. A 1/60 million chance to create $300 billion in value is worth $5,000; even the 1/1 billion chance afforded someone in a safe state is worth $300.

    In the end it all comes back to the argument from variance. […] I think [Hillary] remains the low-variance choice for president.

    Scott: This combination of views does not reflect rational risk preferences.

    If you are a low variance voter, you discount small chances of large payouts. But for exactly that reason, you should massively discount a 1/60 million chance at $300 billion.

    Put another way: Maybe your risk aversion gives you reason to prefer Hillary, but then you can’t rationally vote. It’s too risky. If you can rationally vote, then have basically no risk aversion, so the low variance of her administration is irrelevant.

    Ironically, voters with the most reason to vote are risk-seaking voters, those who value low chances of big payouts more than expected utility tells them to. But those voters for the same reason have the most reason to vote for Trump, the high variance candidate.

  4. wolfgang says:

    I am not sure your argument why one should actually vote really works.
    Let’s accept your calculation that the expected value of a vote is $5000.
    But for one person this has to be divided by the number of taxpayers,
    so the expected value *for me* would be something like 5000$/50Mio
    and therefore pretty close to zero.
    Even assuming I belong to the 1% , the expected value for me would
    not exceed a few cents – I would have to be Warren Buffet that this
    would be worth a few hundred dollars (but then even 1000$ would be
    quite small compared to my net worth).

    In other words staying home and not vote seems to make the most sense 😎

  5. Moshe says:

    You’re right that number 6 is what it’s all about.

    Now in the long term we’re all dead.

    In the short-term causing emotional, and hopefully financial, pain to our ruling elite would be would be Teh Awesome.

    The question then is about the middle term: How much can we guess about comparative outcomes? And, in truth, how much do we care about the middle term anyway?

    Those be the relevant questions yo.

    If the middle era will be like modern-day Syria and we are 100% certain that it will happen under Trump and will not happen under Hillary then sure, Hillary away.

    But if I have very little idea as to whether my middle term epoch will be better under Hillary or Trump and I doubt that either way it will be a hellscape. That being the case, the situation of the world 10 years hence (which you may not even live to see) oughtn’t concern me too much.

    Which leaves me a string supporter of fragging the system. I would have preferred to do it through Sanders, but Trump is just as good and (hopefully!) better.

    Of course this all depends on precisely where you sit and what you stand to lose. Well I’ve got news for you, a solid 40% of white males stand to lose very little but stand to gain what they might call vindication but which is actually the more common and potent human pleasure of seeing vengeance.

    Even if it economically bites them in the ass.

    But nuclear attacks on Washington DC followed by Mad Max and cannibalism!

    Yeah, but on the plus side maybe Trump will conquer Canada and Mexico?

    Tail ends if the variance curve don’t count for much

  6. FacelessCraven says:

    In retrospect, the obvious theme song of this thread, and this year’s election generally.

    (Warning: NSFW Audio)

  7. Carol Anne says:

    Just out of curiosity ,what was wrong with chanting “Lock her up”? She violated several federal laws, mishandled classified information, and destroyed evidence. Comey admitted as much. Why shouldn’t we want her held accountable?

  8. Jill says:

    Here’s the reason Dems “cried wolf” and said that Romney/Ryan would be horrible in the White House. They would have been horrible– although Trump would be beyond horrible.

    Since the U.S. is immersed in Right Wing propaganda, Ryan always seems to everyone here and everywhere else, as if he is not a fraud. But the truth of the matter is that he is a fraud. His federal budget numbers he offered never even came close to adding up.

    The King of False Equivalence
    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/10/04/the-king-of-false-equivalence/?module=BlogPost-Title&version=Blog%20Main&contentCollection=Opinion&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs&region=Body&_r=0

  9. May I offer a counterpoint?

    There’s a distinct possibility that a bad Trump presidency may not radicalise the worst elements of the left, and that we may not end up with a bunch of hard-line regressive SJWs determining politics from 2020-2028/2024-2032, although it seems somewhat likely.

    However, there’s also a very distinct possibility that a bad Hillary presidency may end up simply increasing the anger of Trump’s base, leading to the totalitarian impulse that his campaign awakened being magnified and practically incarnated in the form of an über-Trump who would press the nuclear button without hesitation if some other country merely suggested that America was bad.

    Remember that, very often, the Congress decides what happens, but the President takes the blame if it ends up failing miserably. Look at what’s happened with Obama during the majority-Republican Congress. A lot of what got passed had nothing to do with him except his signature on the bill, and he’s blamed for it. A lot of what didn’t pass had an equal amount to do with him, and the failure of that to pass is blamed on him as well. Granted, he’s done plenty of bad things, but also a decent number of good things, but he still gets a decent amount of blame from the right-wing.

    Hard-line conservatives hate Hillary even more than Obama. They’ll take a dig at her whenever the chance presents itself. If a Clinton presidency fails, then the backlash becomes truly immense.

    The Republican platform is not at all a normal conservative platform. It’s now a right-wing nationalist platform all the way through. It has the phrase ‘America First’ repeated throughout and contains a key point of building a border wall. I’m not sure the Republican Party can really recover from this platform.

    I don’t see how a Trump presidency can ever be really ‘good’. But a moderately-okay Trump presidency with plenty of problems might actually provoke the country to rethink everything about the culture and the system that permitted it.

    • Jill says:

      Good points, all. If we do end up suffering through a Trump presidency, at least if it provokes the country “to rethink everything about the culture and the system that permitted it”, that would be one positive aspect. If any of us are still around after Nuclear WWIII AKA The War of the Small Hands. This should never have happened.

      • What some of us are hoping is that if there is a Trump presidency it will finally convince lots of people, especially but not only left of center, of the dangers of too much executive authority. He, after all, will also have a pen and a phone.

        • Doctor Mist says:

          Whoo, my eyes are glazing over. I thought you said “a pen and a throne”.

          Time for some fresh air.

  10. Deiseach says:

    Still fightin’ the war but here we go: Hillary’s latest gloopy appeal to young voters (“Here’s what Millenials have taught me”? Teaching grandma to suck eggs, are we?) I would stomp all over it but then again I can’t blame her for sticking to the game plan of “Give the young’uns a reason to vote for Grandma” and telling them she’ll hand them the moon on a stick if they vote for her. Every politician does it to every section of their constituency.

    What I would like opinions on is this: given that a fair few of the commenters on here think a minimum wage is a bad economic idea, what do you think of Hillary’s “cross my heart and hope to die” promise here?:

    Let me tell you about a few things I want to work with you to change as your president.

    …Second, everyone should be able to get a job that pays the bills and can support a family. And not only that, you should be able to do work you love and find meaningful. So we’ll create more good-paying jobs, raise the minimum wage and guarantee equal pay. This will help a lot of Americans, especially young people struggling to find footing in a difficult economy.

    …Of course, to do any of these things, we can’t have secret unaccountable money poisoning our politics. So I’ll appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Citizens United and even propose a constitutional amendment to do the same. And by doing that, we’ll make sure that no special interests can get in the way of protecting and expanding civil rights, LGBT rights and all human rights.

    Personally, I think this is more of the “and you’ll have room for a pony” campaign promises and she no more intends to keep them (except maybe the one about appointing Supreme Court justices who will overturn Citizens United, because Hillary holds grudges and waits to get payback) than I intend to climb Mount Everest.

    But the rest of you, especially those who are thinking of voting for her – do you think (a) she said she’d do it and she’s honest and true and loves us all so it will happen, it will! (b) yeah, this is political messaging, she’s not going to be that reckless in power with the national finances (c) she may possibly be dumb – or cynical – enough to pay her good little footsoldiers off by letting them have a few dollars more in their barista jobs once they’ve graduated from college (forget the meaningful, enjoyable, well-paying jobs unless you’re all going to go into STEM high-tech entrepreneurship).

    If Trump is a demagogue appealing to the Rust Belt with the illusory promise of jobs that have long gone, service industries are where employment is at now, and globalisation means you’re not going to outcompete Chinese workers on wages and productivity, what about Hillary promising all the potential college grads that (a) I’ll make it affordable for you to go to college (b) when you graduate you will get the kind of well-paying, high-status jobs you expect from a college degree, never mind that those days are over now, it’s not the post-war boom economy anymore or even the 80s?

  11. A. says:

    There’s a third “third-party” candidate, conservative ex-CIA operative Evan McMullin — at least, in 34 states (so far).

    According to a post-debate poll by MSNBC, McMullin is now outpolling Stein at 2% to her 1%.

    Here’s an interesting article titled, “Even If He Wins States, Evan McMullin Won’t Make Hillary Win” about… just what it says on the tin.

    Here’s a link to his positions on political issues as reported by his website, EvanMcMullin.com.

    • Soy Lecithin says:

      For people of a certain political bent, McMullin seems like the “obvious” choice. He’s certainly popular among my relatives. I don’t think word of his candidacy has traveled far outside of a few small circles, however.

  12. One problem with the claim that we can’t get rid of X without planning for the aftermath is that we have done so successfully a number of times. For example, we decontrolled oil prices in the early 1980s without much of a plan. We eliminated World War II price controls and did not replace them with New Deal economic planning. Over the past generation, we loosened gun controls in most states and the predicted bloodbath did not show up. We cut back on “stop and frisk” in New York City and the crime rate did not spiral out of control.

    Maybe a planet-wide ghost is looking after guns and prices.

  13. Daniel Holland says:

    This guy did a long and not altogether poor reply. He thinks you’re taking a lot for granted

    https://twitter.com/Pale_Primate/status/782253233553027072

    • Anonymous says:

      Why in the world would you do a long reply like that on twitter? I can’t think of any good use of twitter, actually, but if there is one that certainly isn’t it.

  14. B says:

    Not that many people will read this, but gonna engage in a bit of eschatology of the ‘conservative crisis’ situation. Ideally to my taste, the Republican party will get more and more irrelevant, leading to comfortable margin of victories for Democrats. This in turn will make the Democrats feel like the can afford a split between the centrist moderate liberals and the left-wing social-democrats, leading to a political system consisting of:

    – A conservative party
    – A liberal party, possibly merged with the conservative party
    – An openly social-democratic party

    This party system would bring an Overton window much more in line with other developed countries, and is in fact closer to what one has in many states that rank above the US in economic and/or social freedom (e.g. Australia, Switzerland, Canada, and Germany – and for any nay-sayers, I am using indices from the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, which are not exactly left-leaning institutions).

    • herbert herbertson says:

      Sounds great to me, but it would require some serious structural reforms. You can’t have more than two parties unless you implement proportional representation, a parliamentmentary system, or end first-past-the-post voting.

    • E. Harding says:

      Bernie Sanders doesn’t understand the Nordic system; why would he emulate something he doesn’t understand?

  15. g says:

    “Scott”,
    First time reader. I like your methodology.
    Re: low/high variance. In rating Trump’s variance factor what I haven’t seen, except for some implicit assumptions from a PBS show, is an attempt to find some factors in Trump’s business dealings. Since Trump has been open about his use of hyperbole as a negotiation tactic why is there no one looking at the relation between his business hyperbole and the final outcome in the negotiations? Addressing that would more than likely smooth the variance curve.

    They [world outcomes] will probably require either genetic engineering or artificial intelligence; the job of our generation is keep the world functional enough to do the research that will create those technologies, and to alleviate as much suffering as we can in the meantime.

    Since your bias is toward scienctism do you have any articles in apologetics toward that position? What is your position on early 20th century scienctism and it’s affects?

  16. neonwattagelimit says:

    I’m just going to leave this here for our conservative friends.

    It is a more pointed, and more right-aligned, version of some of what I was trying to get at in this comment.

    EDIT: Quote from the first link.

    Many in the Republican Party or on the right correctly perceive Clinton as a political enemy. But the esoteric case for Trump is only possible because Trump is so obviously a buffoon, a bluffer, a kind of living cartoon. The only way people with a certain kind of dignity or intelligence can convince themselves that he would make a worthy president is through an elaborate form of self-delusion.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      “The second commonality is a kind of historical despair that is extravagant. The causes one holds dear are about to be lost, and lost irrevocably. Everything is proceeding along a grim, downward path, and only a dramatic interruption can arrest it.”

      Dougherty fails to meaningfully address this point, and that failure undermines everything else in the piece. As I’ve discussed with you elsewhere, the despair does not seem extravagant to me. We really might already be past the tipping points where the various problems he points to become irreversible. Voting Trump is fundamentally an act of desperation, and like most acts of desperation, it entails significant risk. It’s possible that desperation isn’t warranted, but Dougherty fails to even attempt to make his case.

    • E. Harding says:

      “And after Trump’s permanently damaging rhetoric, they are increasingly convinced that any enforced legal limits on immigration, and any form of deportation of illegal immigrants, is a concession to white supremacy and a betrayal of their commitments to egalitarianism.”

      -If Bernie supporters were perceptive, they’d call for the return of White primaries.

  17. MawBTS says:

    I remember hearing about communists who voted for Bush in 2000 and 2000 because they thought it would aggravate class tensions/immanentize the eschaton. It seems like certain members of the [banned word] community would vote for Trump along similar lines.

    No doubt the “edgy, ironic protest vote” demographic is utterly tiny and wouldn’t even show up as a rounding error, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump attracts more such votes than any candidate in history.

  18. Sniffnoy says:

    You know, you mentioned the Borderers voting for Trump in the initial version of this post, but I was rereading your Albion’s Seed post just now, and I realized: Going by Trump’s behavior, it seems he would fit in substantially better among the Cavaliers than the Borderers.

    • E. Harding says:

      How so?

      And if so, no wonder he won all the coastal southern primaries East of Texas. Even Maryland and Delaware.

  19. E. Harding says:

    Guys, this is a pretty important question that must be asked, but so far hasn’t been: what would it take for you (including our good host) to change their minds about whom to vote for? For me, it would be Trump advocating something more evil than what Obama has actually done. So, something more evil than “let ISIS take out Assad” (Trump meant it both ways, then said “let Russia take out ISIS” in the course of the same interview a year ago). If the dangerous Christie has gotten to him (so far, he hasn’t, though the less dangerous Pence clearly has), it’s time to consider a vote for Clinton. I do not expect Clinton to change Her mind on the Supreme Court, the NSA, e-mail practices, https://twitter.com/mcurryfelidae07/status/776101739300786176 , and Russia-baiting, but if she does, and Trump does not change his positions, to me, they’d be more comparable candidates than they presently are.

    How ’bout you?

  20. jay says:

    Somewhat amazing that any analysis could not have likely foreign relations/ trade scenarios as outcomes. Thought experiment, would Americans and brand America be better off throughout the world under a Trump presidency (we still sell a hell of a lot of planes, phones and Fords around the world, and oh, that culture thing too)? If a mercantilist trade posture is interpreted to be neo-colonialist by most of the developing world, everything becomes a hot-spot. Does an American trade thaw with China embolden China to form regional trading blocks with Viet-Nam and other Pacific Rim countries with bigger populations and higher growth levels over the next 10 to 20 years. An aging demographically challenged market disliked in most non-white countries throughout the world doesn’t seem like a better positional outcome than our current status. It’s objectively not.

    • Alex says:

      Why is “the developing world” a coherent group? Is Russia “neo-colonialist”? Has that caused most developing countries to turn against them?

  21. Jill says:

    Those of you who would like to see the world burn, are any of you fundamentalist Christians who think and hope that Nuclear WWIII– AKA the Nuclear War of the Small Hands– will bring about the Apocalypse and the Second Coming of Christ? Supposedly some of GW Bush’s supporters believed something like that about the Second Coming, and that was why it was okay with them for W to get in wars in the Middle East.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      here’s one for no. I am in fact a Fundamentalist Christian, but not a pre-millinialist. I believe that the “Left Behind” interpretation of the book of Revelations is garbage. I do not think human action can facilitate the Second Coming. Opposing wars in the middle east is one of the reasons I’m so anti-Clinton, in fact.

      • Corey says:

        I read a really interesting series a while back from a Christian criticizing the Left Behind book series for dodgy theology. Both in the concept of the Rapture (which is, according to them, pretty non-mainstream; I’m not theologically literate enough to know), and in side plots. Also some totally secular crimes against storytelling 🙂

        • FacelessCraven says:

          They really are appallingly bad in the theological department. Unfortunately, they’re also pretty damn popular, especially with the sort of Christian who doesn’t actually study the Bible but watches a ton of tele-evangelists. To see this sort of twaddle actually have an impact on geopolitics is unbelievably maddening.

          • keranih says:

            I never got into the Left Behind books – they just were not the type/quality of writing I was interested in.

            But I thought This Present Darkness was much better. Do you have any recommendations for ‘Christian Fiction’ that you thought were worth the read?

            (I am an uneven but easy mark for religious themed works – I really liked both Stigmata and The End of the Spear, as well as dang near every Joan of Arc movie ever made.)

          • keranih says:

            I also think that the role of Rapture theology in conservative support for Middle East intervention is largely overstated. I think that they are mean dictators and we should Do Something About That is a far more likely influence.

            (I also think that Israel is a very…interesting…factor in US politics. Post WWII, during the flight of Jews from Europe and the Mideast, there were not a huge number of choices for people to. A lot of people went to Israel. Of those who chose to not go to Israel, most of them went to America. Those in Israel tend to think well of the US staying involved in the Mideast (on their side.) Those who went to the US, NSM.)

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Keranih – my general opinion of Christian Fiction matches Hank Hill’s opinion of Christian Rock. That being said, Silence by Shusaku Endo is one of the best books I’ve read in the last decade. …It is possibly not the most exiting book, and I understand there’s a fair amount of controversy among Japanese Catholics about it. I think it’s a very good one, though.

          • pku says:

            @keranih – a lot of them tried to go to america. America wasn’t too happy to let them in, most of the time – the main waves of Jewish immigration to america happened a bit earlier, when they were fleeing good ole christian persecution.

          • Deiseach says:

            Recommendations for “Christian fiction” – as a historically interesting novel, which is very heavily Roman Catholic (being written by an English convert, one of the Benson brothers who all were writers as well as their day jobs, in 1908) is Lord of the World which is also SF as much as Christian fiction; the Anti-Christ is the American President of the time, who becomes World President 🙂

            You can read it online at Project Gutenberg. It tends a lot to the mystical, which may or may not be your cup of tea. I do like the description of the volors, the airship transport of the time:

            Once again before he moved there came a long cry from overhead, startlingly beautiful and piercing, and, as he lifted his eyes from the glimpse of the steady river which alone had refused to be transformed, he saw high above him against the heavy illuminated clouds, a long slender object, glowing with soft light, slide northwards and vanish on outstretched wings. That musical cry, he told himself, was the voice of one of the European line of volors announcing its arrival in the capital of Great Britain.

            I also like James Blish’s “A Case of Conscience”, which is perhaps a little dated now (70s SF) but in the start, at least, has fairly good theology and the ending is “Was this really a diabolic deception or a naturally explainable accident?”

        • Deiseach says:

          The concept of the Rapture is definitely not mainstream; it’s (ironically enough) a theology – Dispensationalism – developed by an Anglo-Irish Protestant clergyman which never really developed widespread appeal over here, but due to a combination of factors in America (apparently chiefly one particular Bible translation which included study notes heavily based on Rapture theology, which was very popular and so influenced a lot of non-denominational/small denominations Christians in their beliefs) it got a lot more traction.

          I’d never even heard of the concept until (a) I saw a movie called, logically enough, The Rapture which I mistook for a horror movie when going to see it in the cinema, that’s how little I knew (b) I started interacting with American (post-)Evangelicals online.

          I had to look up what Catholics Officially Believe on the topic (we’re amillennialist) to answer questions as to the position of the Catholic Church, that’s how non-mainstream it is 🙂

  22. onyomi says:

    US politics, 2016: doing our best to figure out who won’t start WWIII before the robots save us from ourselves.

  23. blacktrance says:

    I agree with the anti-Trump conclusion, but I’m less sure about the argument about the status quo. There have indeed been many improvements in the past few decades, and things are likely to continue to get better for now if we don’t blow up the system. But that Clinton wants to maintain the status quo is only mostly true – no doubt she’ll support more regulation, more of a surveillance state, probably more military interventions, and so on, like another term of Obama (or probably worse). If Trump would kill the golden goose outright, Clinton-types would poke and prod it until it’d eventually die, unless there are some great agorist innovations or the formation of new industries that aren’t yet subject to mature bureaucracy.

    Hence, Gary Johnson.

  24. Alex S says:

    > but given her election on a pro-immigration platform and the massive anti-Trump immigration backlash

    What backlash is that? That’s not intuitive. I think it’s simpler. If you elect a nationalist, politics is likely to get more nationalist. Lately, I’m feeling nationalist.

    The question for me is more-what is Trump’s ratio of nationalism to incompetence? I’m nationalist, but I don’t think that’s worth electing someone who, say, is more likely than not to institute crackpot economic policies that cause a second Great Depression. Is Trump *that* bad? Further questions: Are we likely to see a better but comparably nationalist option soon? A nationalist with lower variance? I don’t know. I tend to think not, but because of the first question, I’m still an undecided voter.

    • Corey says:

      Given Trump’s usual salesman-style proclivities to adopt whatever position he heard last, I think as soon as he talks to a goldbug (which is a lot more likely in Republican circles) we get Fed Chair RON PAUL – kaboom.

  25. Cord Shirt says:

    Very first reaction:

    For quite a while now, conservatives been unthinkingly assuming that *of course* socialism is completely and thoroughly wrong, so therefore, showing how a proposed policy fits that term–or kinda fits that term, or fits it in a way, or fits it from one point of view, or partly fits it–well, that just *automatically* proves it wrong. “That’s socialism!” = “Of course we all agree it’s wrong.”

    This essay is making the same mistake, only with the term “populism.”

    More general reaction:

    My habitual way of deciding who to vote for is the following.

    1. Make a list of the political positions I support and how important I weigh each as.

    2. Rely on disinterested outside parties to tot up politicians’ official positions (as reflected in position papers and past votes, not speeches or off-the-cuff remarks, which mean nothing).

    3. Pick the one who agrees with me the most on the issues I consider the most important. Well, except weigh that against major party vs. third party.

    4. Ignore all speeches and off-the-cuff remarks, which are needless distractions from the substance of the matter; try to ignore most politician-related news stories as well.

    I’ve done that so far this cycle as well.

    This essay didn’t really persuade me to stop doing that. (I’m still weighing up third party vs. major party, so still undecided.)

    (I mean, it certainly is odd and amusing that the major party candidate with IMO the slightly better platform turns out to be someone who *for 30 years* has been a pop-culture avatar of both “greedy rich guy” and “gauche nouveau-riche.” But strange things do happen in life.)

    Part of the reason the essay didn’t persuade me was that I came into it with a very different view of the current state of the USA and the world. The worldview apparently informing this essay has such great inferential distance from my own that I started skimming partway through with the idea that the author “is out of touch with reality.”

    I’d explain further, but I see that Orphan Wilde has already made the point:

    This is an intellectual appeal to well-off intellectuals, and both you and they, by and large, aren’t feeling any of the discomforts your argument is ultimately demanding other people continue to put up with.

    Clinton -is- a vote for a status quo that has gone on since the first Bush administration. Entirely. And since your life is comfortable, this looks like a good thing to you.

    Thing is, though, the longer this goes on, the angrier the people you’re ignoring are getting. They’re angry enough to want Trump this election. What kind of candidate would four more years of anger get you?

    And:

    you can already see the lines forming for the next battle, which looks like it will be on class lines; I’m expecting the alt-right to join forces with the far-left, while the conservative right joins forces with the establishment left.

    Historically, the Republicans have been the Status Quo party, and the Democrats have been the Reform party; these roles have switched, and everybody is racing to catch up.

    (Oh and also of course there’s the constant sniping-at-rather-than-addressing my preferred policy positions but :shrug:)

    …OK, reread, exerting more effort not to be put off:

    Donald Trump does not represent those best parts of conservativism.

    Right, he’s a typical New York liberal.

    To transform his movement into Marxism, just replace “the bourgeoisie” with “the coastal elites” and “false consciousness” with “PC speech”. Just replace the assumption that everything will work itself out once power is in the hands of the workers, with the assumption that everything will work itself out once power is in the hands of “real Americans”.

    Well, exactly–we’ve all always known (haven’t we?) that “the bourgeoisie” and “the coastal elites” are one and the same.

    So all that’s left, then, is to realize that “real Americans” *does* just mean “the workers,” and is actually *not* some kind of racist, “actually we only mean white Christians and we hate everyone else” boogeyman. (Though…TBH I’ve never actually heard Trump say that phrase. Then again, as I said, I avoid sensationalized reporting and rely on position papers instead.)

    Really now my man, everyone already *agrees* that the workers are downtrodden relative to the rentier class, do we not? And everyone already *agrees* that one supports and helps the downtrodden–do we not? 😉 😉

    So from my POV, what you’re saying translates to: “Sure, Trump supports the workers–but he doesn’t have any actual policy proposals.”

    But–I initially chose which candidates to consider supporting based solely on actual policy proposals. (Admittedly, as communicated to me by possibly-untrustworthy third parties.) So…

    Did…you actually *research* whether Trump had any actual policy proposals? Or did you just…watch the news and *assume* he didn’t and never seriously consider him because you’re like blue tribe and stuff and then you wrote this?

    Because…I kind of have the latter impression.

    Not complaining–I hardly did much research myself; I relied on third parties to collate the data for me, after all. But…it doesn’t make your essay convincing to me.

    …oh hey, Orphan Wilde hits another home run in the open thread:

    Clinton is center-Right. More, although it infuriates the Left to admit this, Trump is center-Left. He’s a leftist populist of the old Republican stripe.

    This election is kind of… Clinton is the Democratic Party before its supposed “realignment” in the 70’s, in which it supported all the same policies but for new, less racist reasons. Trump is the Republican Party of that era, back before they became the party of Christian Capitalists.

    Exactly.

    So, Scott, I guess I do see why you think you can persuade center-right types to vote Hillary: *She* is.

    I had no particular expectation as to what your politics were, other than “tending libertarian”–is this post your announcement that *you* are center-right as well?

    • Jill says:

      Interesting. So you would vote for someone with severe Alzheimer’s, or someone who was a total psychopath who has screwed over or defrauded everyone he’s ever come into contact with, just because you like the policy positions stated on his web site? Or someone who is a compulsive liar, as Trump is?

      Interesting. It takes all kinds to make a world.

      • Cord Shirt says:

        Hey Jill, do I remember right that you too are a (former) Sanders supporter? :fist bump:

        Democracy is meant to support my strategy–a politician who goes back on too many promises will (or, at least, is expected to) get voted out.

        So a politician with Alzheimer’s would get managed by aides so as to keep their promises. (Well, if the aides were loyal. …OK, with Reagan, that did give him a convenient excuse for Iran-Contra, didn’t it… :/ Do you think it happened because he wasn’t on the ball enough to stop it, though? Do you think No-Alzheimer’s!Reagan wouldn’t have agreed to it?) And a psychopath would theoretically see the instrumental need to keep their promises just as well as any other politician would. I suppose someone with an actual diagnosable compulsion to lie might have issues…and then be voted out.

        …in 2000, I had a lot of Nader-supporting friends who were convinced that Bush and Gore were hardly any different from one another. After having looked up policy positions, I noticed that:

        * Gore was constantly downplaying his positions to the media, making himself seem more centrist than he was (I paid more attention to media coverage back then); and

        * Bush *was creepily refusing to even release any positions*. Seriously, I had to exert a lot more effort to try to find his actual positions than I ever have before or since, only to *still* fail–he just…was running *entirely* on charisma.

        I concluded that actually, they were much more different from one another than they seemed. So I voted for Gore.

        :shrug:

        Some people don’t vote at all, because they don’t think it’s worth *any* effort. Many of them are on this site–surely you’ve seen their comments? 😉 Politics can take over your life and make you miserable if you let it. Focusing solely on policy positions is my way of limiting the amount of energy I waste on politics.

  26. SDE says:

    I don’t care. The social crusaders have set the terms of the stage. You must act like an impertinent, outrageous buffoon to be acknowledged and accepted in the terms of discourse. You are not allowed a seat at the debate unless you flog yourself in such a ridiculous fashion that your performance must be noticed, as otherwise you are not downtrodden enough to care.

    The Republican party is a failure because they believed they were above this. Their cretinous, ossified husk of a movement deserved to die anyway. It offered little to its constituency outside of pandery lip service once in a blue moon.

    What Trump represents is a rejection of the dominant powers on their own terms. What better way to hand them a meal of their own making than to place at their feet the most impertinent, outrageous buffoon you can find? Not only that, but one that was created and fostered by them. The 1%, celebrity, media (both print and TV), entertainment…Trump’s in bed with all of them. They’re all complicit.

    You view our institutions as is both working and worth preserving. That’s why you don’t think it’s worth the risk to change them. The issue as I see it is they are already corrupted and the trend line is heading worse, at rapid pace. When the forest is fine, you don’t start fires. When it’s already on fire, you need a controlled burn to stop it.

    Is four years of Trump a controlled burn? Maybe not. But when you have nothing else you scream out in the most desperate manner possible. That’s what we’ve been told to do by those in charge. So here it is.

    The thesis of your article is mostly correct. It’s much harder to build than it is to burn. However, knowingly or not, you did grant one very important point. Step one is always the burning.

  27. Maware says:

    Conservatism won’t change if Trump loses, it will just harden into the worse factions that are emerging because of the destruction of the religious right. We’d get the amoral libertarians and the blood and soil euro-style “conservatives,” both with some nasty ideas about eugenics and race. They won’t attract a lot of people, but that means more or less a leftist government that occasionally spars with radical leftist factions, until people get fed up and the nuts who write for places like Taki mag get in power enough to do some brief damage.

    Global warming wont matter, you’d need a massively authoritarian government banning private cars, limiting power consumption and goods, and forcing everyone to live in cities and having one child only to make a dent in it. Most liberals are naive about what actually changing it requires.

    To be honest though, I’m worried what happens when Trump loses. You’re right about it being a purely idealistic protest vote, but what happens when that is crushed? I know that for myself, I’d be a lot more nihilistic and less involved in America as an entity. I’d be an immigrant in my own land, really, and not a citizen.

    • Deiseach says:

      Global warming wont matter, you’d need a massively authoritarian government banning private cars, limiting power consumption and goods, and forcing everyone to live in cities and having one child only to make a dent in it. Most liberals are naive about what actually changing it requires.

      Yeah. I saw some of Hillary’s policy positions are to reduce by one-third American fossil fuel consumption. Easiest way to do that is raise prices at the petrol pump to levels such as are paid in Europe. However, since America needs cheap fuel since the car is by far the most important means of transportation and since people routinely drive long distances to work, that would backfire tremendously. Everyone would be up in arms as you can see when American petrol prices rise a few cents per gallon.

      So that’s one way she definitely won’t be going, and how she’s going to have that “guaranteed by the end of my term” reduction she’s promising I have no idea (I don’t believe it’s a serious proposal and there’s plenty of wiggle room for ‘well the ungrateful and unco-operative public just wouldn’t switch to green energy and smaller cars and turn off their heating and air conditioning of their own accord, what could I do?’ if anyone does call her on “so what happened to your one-third reduction?”).

    • John Schilling says:

      Global warming wont matter, you’d need a massively authoritarian government banning private cars, limiting power consumption and goods, and forcing everyone to live in cities and having one child only to make a dent in it.

      You forgot the phrase, “…in China and India”. Why people imagine this is the US President’s decision to make is beyond me.

      Well, no, it really isn’t. Global Warming has been entirely coopted by the tribal debate in the United States. It is an excuse for Prius-driving, code-writing Blue Tribe to attack the pickup-driving, coal-mining culture of Red Tribe, and the particular measures chosen to address CAGW will be chosen specifically for their tribal impact. Because globalism is part of Blue Tribe’s culture, that will include treaties where other countries promise to reduce carbon emissions, but because it is a fluffy non-confrontational globalism, there will be no enforcement mechanisms – the point is just to make the rest of the world into symbolic allies in the fight against Red Tribe.

      Hillary had four years to show us how committed she is to the issue of CAGW, in the highest US office short of POTUS for the parts of that fight that actually matter. Anyone here want to defend her record?

      • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

        In particular, the measures will not in any way impair the ability of the Blue Tribe to jet over to Europe any time they feel the need to go apologize in person for the existence of the Red Tribe.

      • Iain says:

        One minute with Google turns this up (pdf). From her term as Secretary of State:

        – Clinton made climate change a top priority at the State Department, including appointing the first Special Envoy for Climate Change, Todd Stern, who serves as the Administration’s point person for climate negotiations, including the recent, historic bilateral climate
        agreement with China.
        – In Copenhagen in 2009, Clinton made a breakthrough announcement committing the U.S. to help jointly mobilize $100 billion by 2020 to help communities across the world deal with the ravages of climate change. This commitment helped reinvigorate stalled negotiations and led to an agreement in Copenhagen.
        – Clinton helped reach a bilateral agreement with Brazil to improve coordination on climate change and entered into 11 EcoPartnership agreements with China.
        – Clinton also formed the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, to reduce short-lived climate pollutants, with a group of 37 countries that are working to reduce black carbon, HFCs and methane emissions.

        That actually seems reasonably accomplished, given that the Secretary of State is by definition going to focus on foreign policy. Are you able to point to a Secretary of State with a better record on climate change?

        • keranih says:

          That actually seems reasonably accomplished, given that the Secretary of State is by definition going to focus on foreign policy.

          It’s only accomplished if you’re measuring activity, not end results. I can see that money got spent and agreements were signed, but what impact has this had on global warming?

          • Iain says:

            Again: can you name a person who has done more? Global warming agreements aren’t the sort of thing that bear obvious fruit right away.

            Sometimes the answer to “why hasn’t Hillary Clinton fixed all these problems yet?” is “because they’re actually kind of hard problems”.

          • keranih says:

            Global warming agreements aren’t the sort of thing that bear obvious fruit right away.

            Possibly, but they are the sort of thing that can cost a metric ton of money immediately, and if there is no visible room between “will have a positive effect eventually” and “will have no effect” – not to mention “will have a negative effect eventually” you’ll forgive me for failing to give her credit for “positive effects”.

          • cassander says:

            @Iain says:

            If you don’t want to deal with people saying hillary hasn’t solved these problems, then don’t claim solving them as one of her accomplishments.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @cassander @kerinah:
            Between you and schilling there is a massive field of goal post shifting.

            The position was put forth by Schilling that Hillary had not shown commitment to working on global warming during her tenure as SoS. Ian put forward evidence that her record in the issue during her tenure does show commitment.

          • keranih says:

            @ HBC

            And again, I go back to John Schilling’s point that actually doing something about climate change would require massive concrete changes in energy production and use, most significantly in China and India, and that for all of the meetings and speeches, this change has not occurred.

            And Hillary’s not going to do this either, even if she gets elected.

          • Iain says:

            It’s a good thing, then, that we are actually seeing massive concrete changes in Chinese energy production – specifically, a significant reduction in coal use. This is being done as part of the commitment they made in last year’s Paris Accords.

            Can Hillary Clinton take direct credit for the Paris Accords? Probably not. Is it reasonable to give her credit for laying some of the groundwork? I think that’s a plausible claim, although I’m not interested in trying to demonstrate causality for people who have clearly already made up their minds.

          • keranih says:

            Okay, the first line of that article ends in according to official documents released by the Chinese government. It goes on to say that they can’t get reliable confirmation from other sources.

            That article also went on to say that the Chinese economy is “restructuring” and it is this contraction which contributes most to the decline, and also points to US and Japan as examples of countries whose emissions patterns shift with their economy.

            So, no, I’m not willing to give Hillary credit for dodgy Chinese government stats and crashing the Chinese economy.

          • Iain says:

            That is a disingenuous summary of the article. I can’t tell it if you are doing it on purpose, or just reading through ideological blinders. Either way, this is my last post in this thread.

            The article does cite Chinese government statistics, along with assessments from other international observers. (One example (pdf).) I don’t know which part of the article “they can’t get reliable confirmation from other sources” is about. Are you’re talking about this?

            Recent revisions to China’s fuel consumption and pollution are testament to how notoriously difficult this undertaking can be.

            If so, you should really go and check out the reference. It’s about how we had previously been significantly over-estimating China’s overall emissions.

            You have repeatedly shifted the goalposts in this conversation. I challenge you to consider whether you are actually seeking truth, or just aiming to score cheap rhetorical points.

        • John Schilling says:

          Are you able to point to a Secretary of State with a better record on climate change?

          No, nor a worse one, and neither can you. In a dozen years, that will still be the case. Open the field to other cabinet officers and even Presidents, and the situation is scarcely better.

          The choice is, and will continue to be, between the candidate whose policies might shift the global thermostat a tenth of a degree over a generation while raising the hue and cry against the Evil Republicans and Big Oil Companies who are Raping Mother Earth, and the candidate whose policies might shift the global thermostat a tenth of a degree over a generation while raising the alarm about the Global Warming Hoax by which the Communist Democrats will Sell Out Our Country to the Chinese.

          If you think it is imperative that we chose one of these over the other, I have my suspicions where your real priorities lie. If you actually think that decisive action against CAGW is a vital priority, you really need to be voting for Jill Stein and hoping that 2021 isn’t too late.

          • Cord Shirt says:

            What if you actually think that decisive action against CAGW was a vital priority 40 years ago, and now it’s too late?

            When I got the DNC’s latest SUG “survey,” pretty much its first question was “What is your highest priority?” and it had a list of things to choose from and GW *wasn’t even on the list*. (To be fair, later in the survey there was an opportunity to say it was *one* of the issues you cared about.)

            The Paris Agreement was a wonderful political achievement. However, for the purpose of “actually physically helping with GW,” it fell pathetically short.

            I agree with your first point above: GW got turned into a political football. For this reason, nowhere near enough progress to matter was ever made on it.

            The time to take action on global warming was 40 years ago, and we did not; now it’s too late. (Don’t get me started on that one, I’ll give myself an aneurysm.)

            Sometimes I run into baby boomers who are still reciting talking points they thought of 40 years ago. I don’t mean that as an insult–I understand how an activist especially could get very used to doing that. But…40 years have slipped by. The situation has changed. “We can avoid $BadGWOutcome if we just pull together and do $SmallThing” is just no longer true. That ship has sailed.

            Damn it.

            These days, what actually *is* a high priority to me is *preparing for* GW.

            Not that anyone seems to be basing their platform on *that*.

  28. Jill says:

    I see that an economic blogger already penned a response to Scott’s post, here, just basically disagreeing with the characterization of a lot of Trump’s supporters as poor.

    http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=31975

    A previous column by this fellow shows that it’s not just poor people who are voting against their own best interests for Trump, but also middle class people. Propaganda works. And Trump’s ways are totally consistent with the direction that Right Wing propaganda has been heading for many years now– lots of lies that get people all angry at Democrats, and successfully get the poor and the middle class to vote against their own economic best interests.

    Trump would raise taxes on struggling middle class families, so that billionaire real estate developers could get a massive tax cut.
    http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=31962

    • Theo Jones says:

      Yah. The idea that Trump’s base is economically distressed working class people is a myth that Scott and too many people in the rationalist sphere have swallowed with gusto. Sure, white working class people tend to vote GOP, and thus Trump has inherited them in the general election along with the rest of the GOP base.

      But in the primaries the poor/working class overwhelmingly voted for establishment candidates.

      In the Republican primary they voted for Kasich, Jeb, Cruz and Rubio.

      In the Dem primary poor minorities and bluedogs in the south/southwest voted Clinton and were decisive in serving Bernie’s ass on a platter.

      The populist wave in this election is largely due to xenophobic middle class whites.

      • E. Harding says:

        IIRC, Cruz had the most disproportionate support among poor Republican primary voters. He wasn’t an establishment candidate, though he sort of acted like one by the Wisconsin primary. Rubio and Kasich’s support was skewed toward richer Republican primary voters. Just look at the counties they won.

        As a rule, poorer Republican primary voters tended to vote for Trump and Cruz.

        “In the Dem primary poor minorities and bluedogs in the south/southwest voted Clinton and were decisive in serving Bernie’s ass on a platter.”

        -True!

        Trump won the primaries because he was seen by over 60% of Republican primary voters to be the best candidate on the economy and the deficit.
        http://www.gallup.com/poll/189731/economic-issues-trump-strong-suit-among-republicans.aspx

        • Jill says:

          “Trump won the primaries because he was seen by over 60% of Republican primary voters to be the best candidate on the economy and the deficit.”

          I think there is some truth to this. Trump was bs’ing about this, but the fact that he claimed to be people’s protector on the economy got them on his side. Music to their ears. Trump does know how to say what people want to hear. And he knows he can get away with one lie after another, because it’s been done before, just not as extremely as he does it.

      • Halvor says:

        This is wrong. Primary voters have above average incomes, but of this subgroup it was Kasich and Rubio who were the GOP candidates of the wealthy.

        http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-mythology-of-trumps-working-class-support/

        Trump’s support among working class whites is totally unprecedented, not something he inherited from Romney and Bush. He’s beating Clinton 76-17 among white men without college degrees.

        The variables which mostly strong predict level of Trump support in a county are:

        1. White, no high school diploma
        2. Percent reporting ancestry as “American” on the census
        3. Percent living in a mobile home
        4. “Old economy” jobs like agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and trade

        Working class whites, especially those who work with their hands, adore Trump. These are the pitifully weak, voiceless people who are now battling for control of the country against a unified front of journalists and billionaires.

      • Corey says:

        The idea gets fair mockery in the mainstream; e.g. Matt Yglesias retweets most of the “get in the oven” tweets he gets with the comment “Economic anxiety!”

    • E. Harding says:

      Are the billionauhs (like Meg Whitman, Warren Buffett, and Mark Cuban) really voting against their best interests, Jill? I wonder…

  29. Jill says:

    I guess people who think that Trump is an anti-establishment vote must not be aware of this here:

    Trump would raise taxes on struggling middle class families, so that billionaire real estate developers could get a massive tax cut.
    http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=31962

    • AnonBosch says:

      Josh Barro on Twitter noted that v2.0 of Trump’s tax plan will also represent a significant hike on affluent singles (who I suspect may be overrepresented in the SSC commentariat.) Currently the 33% bracket kicks in at $190k for a single filer. Trump’s plan knocks that threshold down to $112.5k.

      Not that I didn’t already oppose Trump for a myriad of reasons before he revised his tax plan, but this is just one more turd in the punchbowl.

      • E. Harding says:

        This is honestly great. If Trump manages to realize that the way to create more Republican voters is create incentives for marriage, those tax rates on affluent singles should shoot up like a rocket. This is awesome. The only problem is that his tax plan increases tax rates for married people with multiple children, so this seems more like an accident than deliberate policy.

  30. Matt says:

    One interesting point about tearing down the system: In one of the links at the end of the post, I think the first one, it was remarked that the American revolution avoided anarchy and turmoil by relying upon the already established colonial governments to keep order while a new government was established. Well those governments are still there, so does that lessen the impact of a Trump, Destroyer of Worlds scenario?

    • AnonBosch says:

      Well those governments are still there, so does that lessen the impact of a Trump, Destroyer of Worlds scenario?

      Most state governments are flat fucking broke (and don’t have the ability to print money to cover this). Shuffling more unfunded mandates onto them won’t end well.

    • John Schilling says:

      The US’s state governments have been nerfed to the point where they can no longer have the sort of impact they did in 1786, or 1861. Too much of their funding comes from DC, their bureaucracies are too tightly intertwined with the federal, and too much of the critical machinery of government has been centralized and monopolized at the federal level.

      At the margin, transferring power from the Federal to the State governments may be an effective strategy. Pursued diligently over the course of a generation or two, it might transform the meaning of the phrase, “United States of America”, and I think it would be a net positive. But expecting the States to pick up the pieces if Trump wrecks the Federal government in 2017, that would be way too much to ask.

  31. Derannimer says:

    “I’m less sanguine about the state of America in particular but I think that its generally First World problems probably can’t be solved by politics. They will probably require either genetic engineering or artificial intelligence; the job of our generation is keep the world functional enough to do the research that will create those technologies.”

    What if you think a future with genetic engineering and AI sounds like a dystopian, inhuman hellscape? If I thought there were any chance Trump might avert such a fate, I might consider voting for him.

  32. Hepp says:

    “Throughout history, dozens of movements have doomed entire civilizations by focusing on the “destroying the current system” step and expecting the “build a better one” step to happen on its own. That never works. ”

    People in Eastern Europe wanted to tear down the communist system, and it was replaced by something better. So it sometimes works.

    • AnonBosch says:

      People in Eastern Europe wanted to tear down the communist system, and it was replaced by something better.

      The Marx analogy is about people wanting to tear down the system and not make concrete plans about what to replace it with. Eastern Europe had a clear model for what they wanted their new system to look like: Western Europe.

      Trump is not big on specifics and there is no readily apparent Trumpian country to use as a blueprint. You might take him at his word and use “America circa 19XX” as a blueprint, but seeing as Trump has already promised not to touch entitlements, and won’t be raising taxes to 19XX levels, and massive automation of manual and low-level intellectual labor is a thing now, it’s pretty reasonable to have heavy doubts about this.

      • Hepp says:

        If you destroyed the federal government, somehow eliminated completely, you would probably revert to state governments, many of which have hundreds of years of experience in self-government. Everyone would be happier, as we can sort ourselves out and have most things determined by people that think more like us. This country has become too big and diverse for it to be governed effectively.

        Will Trump shrink the federal government and give more space to the states? It’s certainly reasonable to think he would relative to Clinton, who just wants to keep things going like they are.

  33. The Voracious Observer says:

    Something about Scott’s plea sticks in my craw. On a deep gut level, my mind moves to reject such pleas, distrusting them on the same intellectual level that one distrusts a Risk player involved in an attempt to persuade you to an overly complicated alliance. It fails the smell test. I struggle to really believe Scott is on my side, cares about my terminal values the way I care about them. The statements here feel like carrots and sticks to encourage accepting some lesser outcome, and I suppose they feel that way because that is what they really are, carrots and sticks. However, when you are starving, no amount of carrots is enticing. When you’re beaten, no extra bruise will bring you down.

    I haven’t seen the sentiment strongly expressed anywhere in the comments yet, so I suppose I’ll be the first to strongly express the following sentiment…

    I don’t really care who wins the election. (And I am an American).

    Most elections feel this way, but this election in particular seems to be an election where America votes on a new ship captain of the Titanic. Previous elections gave a token effort towards policy debate, serious discussion of America’s future. Now, the thin-veneer has rubbed off, to show the harsh, dirty identity politics underneath. Perhaps this election will later be studied like The Jungle, an exposé of how American politics really works.

    Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which captain is standing at the prow of the ship, the iceberg was miles back and we’ve been taking on waters for years now. Neither candidate seems to be aware of the scale of the problem, nor that you can’t bail yourself out; the ocean is deep and wide and endless, and the buckets are limited. It is hard to imagine an Earth one or two centuries out, where nothing major has gone wrong, and quality of life has improved; it’s hard because it is like trying to imagine a triangle with 3 right angles. It only exists in optical illusions. I see people like Musk and Hawking pushing for multi-planetary species, and the unspoken narrative is that we need to start building liferafts, because it’s a lot easier while we’re still aboard the Titanic, rather than swimming in the ocean.

    I suppose I’ve given up hope for the future. I just want to make sure I have a ticket onto one of those liferafts.

    • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

      Considered year-by-year and election-by-election, progress indeed can seem discouragingly slow and/or uncertain. Yet viewed generation-by-generation, plenty of prominent optimists appreciate that the ship’s coming in! 🙂

    • raj says:

      What? It’s not like he’s asking you to invest in some risky VC venture. He’s just asking you to vote according to he perceptions of what is probably desirable for you, a most likely educated and middle class american.

      I don’t necessarily agree with his arguments, and I’m not going to vote (too lazy), but there’s no reason to be skeptical.

      Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which captain is standing at the prow of the ship, the iceberg was miles back and we’ve been taking on waters for years now.

      Hardly. Barring nuclear war, the global economy will proceed.

      and the unspoken narrative is that we need to start building liferafts

      Sure, but it will realistically take us hundreds of years. If we need the liferafts in decades, we’re already screwed. We need to start building them yesterday, not because of the forseeable future, but for the unforseeable deep future.

    • Bugmaster says:

      I think you might be right, about the post if nothing else. Unlike Scott’s other essays, this post doesn’t read as though he’s saying, “I’ve been considering the election; after doing some research, here’s my conclusion, and here are the facts that led me there”. Instead, it reads as thougn Scott said to himself, “given that I need to persuade as many people as possible to vote against Trump, I have come up with specific rhetorical moves that I believe to be maximally effective in achieving this goal”.

      • Jill says:

        What kind of research would you like Scott to do on Trump? His supporters do not care that he lies constantly. Or that his Trump University took people’s money and gave them nothing useful in return. Or that he bribed a FL official not to investigate Trump University. Etc. etc. Actually no facts or rational reasons seem to impact Trump supporters at all.

      • Seth says:

        Exactly. I thought that was clear in the article. Scott wrote a long post a while back on rhetorical strategy to be convincing, especially if you’re not talking to one’s ingroup. And I’m wondering: Does it work? Laudably, I believe he’s tried to apply his own theory to a concrete case. The evidence, as I’m seeing it, is against the proposition that it works. Of course, I can just see the comments, and that’s known to be extremely biased, selective, and so forth. Still, is there any positive evidence anywhere? Is it a case of known flawed evidence on one side (post has no effect on Trump supporters), versus no evidence whatsoever on the other side (post convinces some Trump supporters that voting for Trump is a bad idea)?

        Beautiful theory slain by ugly fact?

        • Jill says:

          The best working theory of changing people’s minds politically, works very little. So I don’t know how to test that out.

          Politics is like fundamentalist religion nowadays– based on emotion and tribal identification, not facts. So how is a distrusted Out Group member going to change your emotions or tribal identification? They’re not going to.

          How a person reacts to arguments made by a distrusted Out Group member is determined by Mockem’s Razor. See my comment on that previously. (Type Control F and search for it.)

      • E. Harding says:

        Excellent comment in every way, Bugmaster. I would have loved to see Scott’s thought process that led him to oppose Trump and support Clinton -in the manner of “I’ve been considering the election; after doing some research, here’s my conclusion, and here are the facts that led me there”. That would have been interesting to see, if Scott came to oppose Trump due to serious reasoning- not the nonsense that was actually posted. I posted about my thought process on how I came to support Trump’s primary candidacy here:
        https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/09/28/ssc-endorses-clinton-johnson-or-stein/#comment-415349

        • Bugmaster says:

          Personally, I’m not even convinced that the outcome of this election is going to matter a great deal. Oh sure, it will matter a little, but not enough to convince me that voting for one candidate over the other would usher in 1,000 years of darkness or whatever.

          Scott handwaved his way through part of an explanation in his opening paragraph, but the rest of his article is mostly assertions and appeals to emotion. I too support “epistemic virtue”, and this is why I find Scott’s article rather unimpressive.

          What I would have liked to see is some evidence for at least the following propositions, regarding both candidates:

          1). The candidate has made concrete campaign proposals that can be implemented into policy (as opposed to just posturing)
          2). The candidate actually intends to implement these proposals into policy (as opposed to what most politicians end up doing)
          3). The candidate’s proposals have a non-trivial probability of being implemented into policy, given the office of the President and the current political climate.
          4). Even if the candidate fails to implement his campaign promises, the very fact of his/her election has a high probability of changing our social norms for the worse (somehow).

          Scott pretty much asserted all of these points with little to no evidence; and by the way, it would take a lot of evidence to satisfy point (4).

          • E. Harding says:

            http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/clinton-and-trump-are-both-promising-an-extreme-supreme-court/

            50 years of darkness is most of my lifetime.

            I believe this election matters a lot more than the Obama-Romney election, in which I opposed Mitt, as I knew he wouldn’t change anything.

            “I’m not even convinced that the outcome of this election is going to matter a great deal.”

            -I am, for the U.S., for the Middle East, and for the rest of the world.

            “I too support “epistemic virtue”, and this is why I find Scott’s article rather unimpressive.”

            -Agreed. Points 1-3 are fairly easy to prove for both candidates, but Point 4 would be hard to prove for both.

          • Bugmaster says:

            Points 1-3 are fairly easy to prove for both candidates…

            Ok, so out of curiosity, can you provide an outline of your proof ?

            Your (and fivethirtyeight’s) point about the Supreme Court is well-made, but a). given our recent experience with delaying tactics, I don’t expect any Supreme Court nominations to occur quickly, b). SC justices are notoriously prone to acting unpredictably once in office, and c). AFAICT a SC justice’s power is quite limited, and insufficient to usher in 1,000 (or even 50) years of darkness (either by itself, or even in conjunction with the President’s own power).

  34. E. Harding says:

    All in all, I have not throughout this thread seen a single good reason for why Trump was not the best candidate during the primaries from either side of the aisle, nor have I seen a single good reason for why Clinton is preferable over Trump. The status quo sucks. Trump is a reformer, not, like Ron Paul or even Ted Cruz, a revolutionary. The establishment has failed. Trump was With Clinton until he at last realized she sucks in 2011. He is the anti-Bush and the anti-Clinton. It’s time to change course. It’s time to Make America Great Again.

    • herbert herbertson says:

      The status quo is underrated, and no one who has the time and ability to spend as much time as you have arguing on this blog (and me, for that matter–both of us, as Mr. Lewbowski would note, doing so on a pair of weekdays) has any right to say otherwise.

      • E. Harding says:

        “The status quo is underrated,”

        -McCain in 2008 could have made (and probably did make) the exact same argument. And even if he was right (he wasn’t), that wasn’t actually a good argument against Obama in 2008.

        • herbert herbertson says:

          It would have been had Obama been promising a categorical religious ban, mass deportations, and had constantly and gleefully violated every polite civil-society norm he could get his hands on, all while having zero experience in politics and an extremely checkered past.

          Or, for that matter, putting out tweets at 2:30 am about an old grudge he had with a beauty pageant contestant.

          • E. Harding says:

            “had Obama been promising a categorical religious ban,”

            -Huzzah! Someone sensible!

            “mass deportations,”

            -Beautiful.

            “and had constantly and gleefully violated every polite civil-society norm he could get his hands on,”

            -Awesome.

            “all while having zero experience in politics”

            -The real-life Obama had about as much experience in politics as Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz. I.e., not much. And I think America needs a genuine outsider, not someone bought by the establishment.

            “an extremely checkered past.”

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremiah_Wright_controversy

          • herbert herbertson says:

            See, now you’re back to stating that the status quo is terrible, when it isn’t. My point stands–Obama was conventional-enough politician who talked about implementing radical changes in only the most glittering of generalities, and therefore was immune to the argument you propose, while Trump is extremely unconventional and promises radical changes with frightening specificity.

            (and lol that Jerimiah Wright is the best comparison you have to a sham university, direct bribery via a personal foundation he didn’t even have the grace to donate to, years of promoting a conspiracy theory to delegitimize a president without reason, several bankruptcies, two divorces, raping one of his wives, bragging about his daughter’s bangability, taking out a full-page ad in the NYT using charges against people later found to be innocent as a basis for abrogating civil liberties, destroying architectural treasures out of avarice after promising not to, discriminating against black tenants, and shaving off poor Vince McMahon’s beautiful tresses)

      • gbdub says:

        The statement “the status quo is underrated” is sadly underrated. As is the version Ann Althouse likes, “better than nothing is a high standard”.

        Trump is a lousy candidate. He’s good for firing up his base, but his debate performance sucked. Really seemed to shift away from his strengths, seemed to miss an opportunity to press on the emails, and he got out-smugged by Hillary, which should just never happen. He waited way too long to build a real campaign and run ads. That he’s doing as well as he is in spite of this is a testament to the appeal of not being a slick politician, and how weak a candidate Hillary is.

        The Republicans waited way too long to unite behind somebody, and when they did they were basically stuck with Cruz, who also sucks. Rubio should have been good, but came out looking not ready for prime time. They failed to take Trump, and the feelings that inspired his supporters, seriously until it was far too late. His nomination was made possible by remarkable strategic errors on the GOP’s part.

        • E. Harding says:

          Were the votes for the establishment candidates all bunched together into votes for a single candidate, that single establishment candidate would have won Iowa (narrowly), New Hampshire, South Carolina, Vermont, and Virginia. Thankfully, for the future of the country, all the establishment candidates were ineffective, that didn’t happen and the GOP got a great campaigner and an original thinker to run as their nominee.

          Here’s my ranking of primary candidates:
          https://whistlinginthewind.org/2016/09/13/is-jill-stein-worth-voting-for/#comment-16128

          Rubio, Kasich, Bush, Walker, etc. and especially Christie were terrible on foreign policy. Trump was the best, showing his rejection of Bushian dogma.

    • keranih says:

      a single good reason for why Trump was not the best candidate during the primaries from either side of the aisle

      Oh, dude, I would *completely* love to help you out there.

      Walker was a better candidate because Walker had been through an adverse election process before, twice.

      Ben Carson was better because Carson was more measured and professional.

      Jeb! was better because Jeb! had been a fairly popular governor in a swing state, and had the family name connections to draw in a support staff of sufficient expertise to do the job.

      Rubio was a better candidate because of his youth, enthusiasm, and because he had worked politics at the national level before.

      Jim Webb was a better candidate because of his experience as governor, his military service, and his ability to appeal to centralists on both sides of the divide.

      …and that’s just the ones I’d have been okay voting for.

      Now, these qualities might not be enough to make an individual person prefer each candidate to Trump, but they are all “good reasons why Trump was not the best candidate from either side of the aisle.”

      (As opposed to Bad Reasons, among which I count “Trump is a Republican, Trump is not a Real Republican, Trump is white, Trump is male, Trump used to have a TV show, Trump has crazy hair, Trump is orange, Trump is a business man.” All of those I consider bad reasons to prefer a different candidate.)

      Also, Scott gave several reasons that I consider good – but insufficient – to prefer Clinton. Preferring Clinton is wrong, imo, but there are good reasons for a rational person – or even an irrational one of good heart – to choose wrongly in this case.

      • gbdub says:

        I was really disappointed by Walker’s muddling performance and early drop out (which seemed premature despite the muddling) – I would have thought he’d do at least as well as Kasich eventually did, and frankly I never got the support for Cruz. Pre-primary, Walker would have been my pick.

        • herbert herbertson says:

          Walker was my (literal) bet for the primary winner… although I comfort myself in being wrong for the right reasons. I knew this would be the election of resentment, and thought that Walker’s humiliation of the Wisconsin public service unions would take him very far. Unfortunately, I underestimated just how MUCH this election would be about resentment.

        • John Schilling says:

          Walker, if I recall correctly, claimed early on to have understood that he would have done at least as well as Kasich eventually did (not in those words, obviously), and that the one thing that was going to doom the GOP to years of ridicule and obscurity was dividing the not-Trump primary vote among multiple candidates of roughly Kasichian levels of popularity and success.

          If Kasich himself had possessed such wisdom, we wouldn’t be here. Whether we would be discussing Clinton v. Rubio or Clinton v. Cruz is an interesting question.

      • Corey says:

        Ben Carson was better because Carson was more measured and professional.

        Not disagreeing, just wanted to point out that Carson’s campaign was a grift rather than an attempt to win. Scholars disagree about whether Carson himself was the grifter or a mark, though.

        • gbdub says:

          “Carson’s campaign was a grift rather than an attempt to win”

          Can you explain that? To be honest I always found Carson a little off somehow so I really didn’t pay much attention.

          • Corey says:

            There are some tells. Basically he had no GOTV operation nor advertising, his campaign expenses were all for more fundraising, and went almost exclusively to companies related to his campaign management.

            He could have been being conned by his staff, or possibly was running mostly as a brand-building exercise, as happens from time to time. Another possibility, though remote, was an intent to win but really bad strategy/execution.

            Honestly, I suspect Trump initially ran as a similar brand-building exercise, then accidentally won the primary, and here we are.

    • SilasLock says:

      All in all, I have not throughout this thread seen a single good reason… for why Clinton is preferable over Trump.

      Challenge accepted. =P

      I’m not sure I’ll be able to convince you of anything given our very different political views, but nevertheless I point you toward Scott Aaronson’s post “Daddy, why didn’t you blog about Trump?” I can’t post a link, but it lays out most of the best reasons for why he’s a very bad choice for president.

      But nonetheless, I’m obligated to at least try to explain the issue myself.

      You refer to Trump as a reformer, but I don’t think that label applies to him. Reformers are typically characterized by their dislike of certain aspects of the status quo and their desire to modify aspects of society; they’re future-oriented and think that, while the present system isn’t completely horrible, it has serious defects that we could improve upon. Donald Trump seems more a reactionary* than a reformer.

      Reactionaries are different from reformers in that, while reformers see society as a living organism/machine/(insert preferred metaphor here) that is within their control to change, reactionaries see society as something slipping through their fingertips. “We’re on a bad path, and it’s pulling us somewhere we don’t want to go”, a reactionary says. “We need to change direction.” A reformer says: “here we are at a crossroads. We aren’t moving until we decide to move. I think that one of these roads is better than the others, so we should fight to walk in that direction.”

      Typically, the society that reactionaries feel is slipping away is doing so because of the actions of reformers, so to classify Donald Trump as the very thing he is opposed to seems less than accurate. He and his supporters dislike the status quo because it moved on without their consent, not because it could be improved upon.

      Having established that Donald Trump is a reactionary, we need to decide what he is a reaction to. On that front, everyone has a different opinion. You label him the “anti-Bush” and “anti-Clinton,” but others have called him the “anti-establishment,” the “anti-coastal elite,” the “anti-Obama,” etc. In truth, he’s none of those things; he can’t be the literal categorical antithesis of multiple different people and political forces at once. Donald Trump is definable without reference to the things his supporters believe he opposes.

      So, now that we’ve gotten those incorrect descriptions of Donald Trump out of the way, let’s talk about his policies.

      Trade

      Any economist will tell you that jobs are a means to an end, not the end in and of themselves. We employ people in order to produce things of value, and pay them as a way to encourage the correct kind of production. Joblessness as a result of market inefficiency–such as sticky wages coupled with massive deflation–is bad because it fails to use our limited number of laborers optimally. Joblessness as result of foreign competition is good because it represents those same market forces rearranging limited resources in a more efficient way. There’s a reason why unemployment tends toward low and constant values in the long run.

      Politicians typically think about unemployment in a silly manner. The federal reserve is responsible for providing “full” employment via monetary routes, so it is impossible for a politician to create or destroy jobs without causing a misallocation of resources (I’m ignoring the elephant in the room of liquidity traps). Rather than discuss how to increase real GDP growth and distribute national income equitably, they focus on how many jobs they are going to create, on how they can employ more of a single factor of production.

      Hillary Clinton talks this talk, but I’m willing to bet she doesn’t believe it. She’s pandering to a stupid electorate. But Donald Trump is a businessman, and his understanding of unemployment is naturally skewed to reflect this. When he says that China is stealing American jobs, he means it.

      Climate Policy

      Hillary Clinton is pursuing a non-optimal climate policy involving copious amounts of public investment. This is certainly not ideal, but it is better than doing nothing.

      Compared to Donald Trump, however, she is a saint. He believes that global warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese to make US manufacturing uncompetitive. Not only does this display a complete ignorance of how industries “compete” (any good carbon pricing policy, if supply side, will be neutral toward international trade by use of subsidies and taxes in the appropriate areas; if demand side, this shouldn’t matter at all. These steps are completely acceptable to the WTO and utilizable if the US so desired.), but it is also incorrect in regards to climate science.

      If you’re a skeptic in the typical-Republican-congressman sense, then I can’t convince you of anything. But if you’re a skeptic in the intelligent-David-Friedman sense (as I suspect you might be), then you should see Donald Trump’s position on climate change as downright silly. Just because one thinks that climate change is less of a problem than the left makes it out to be doesn’t mean that nothing should be done. It means that you simply believe in a lower price on carbon than other members of the voting public. Furthermore, you should support leaders who say “anthropogenic climate change is real, but I don’t want to do anything about it” rather than those who are ignorant of the subject.

      Tax Policy

      This goes without saying. As a passionate advocate for tax reform, Donald Trump’s tax plan depresses me and should depress most people who read it. It’s better than his first draft, but still laughably (and cry-ably?) bad. It fails in regards to both equity and efficiency grounds. Donald Trump’s attempts to justify it involved equivocating between ordinary income higher bracket rate reductions and corporate profit taxation reductions, and it is clear that he doesn’t have an inkling as to what he’s talking about.

      Politicizing the Federal Reserve

      In his time running from office, Donald Trump has switched from advocating low interest rates, to goldbuggism, to high interest rates, to accusing Janet Yellen of helping Obama by keeping rates low, to claiming that she needs to raise interest rates, to claiming that raising interest rates would collapse the economy. Normally, this is par for the course; most presidential candidates are very ignorant about monetary policy, and flip-flop accordingly. But Donald Trump has claimed that he would replace Janet Yellen because she is “not a Republican.”

      That is a sacred line to cross, and one that Donald Trump could walk over if he were president. Normalizing a political restaffing of the fed would be the end of competent central banking as we know it. Given his inconsistent views of monetary policy, it is a massive risk to allow him to appoint her replacement.

      Clinton is very vanilla in this arena. I’m not afraid of her continuing our longstanding tradition of doing exactly what every president has done with regard to the federal reserve.

      I want to end here, because it is very late and I’m losing my train of thought. But those are the first couple of policy arenas I could think of where Clinton has Trump outmatched.

      *I’m using this term in a non-derogatory sense.

      • AnonBosch says:

        But if you’re a skeptic in the intelligent-David-Friedman sense (as I suspect you might be),

        You can read the “citations” he provided in the first comment on Scott’s post and judge for yourself.

      • Anonymous says:

        Just because one thinks that climate change is less of a problem than the left makes it out to be doesn’t mean that nothing should be done. It means that you simply believe in a lower price on carbon than other members of the voting public.

        …and what if that price is negligible in magnitude or even negative?

      • Anonymous says:

        Hillary Clinton talks this talk [on trade], but I’m willing to bet she doesn’t believe it.

        I think economic foreign policy is one of the most important aspects where the president actually has power. There are so many cooks in the kitchen for national security foreign policy that it’s more difficult to draw direct lines, and Congress reigns supreme in most domestic arenas. I’m also very much on board with the consensus of economists, so this is an out-sized issue for me. I was quite depressed to see both candidates run away from trade deals in the debate. Like you, I keep trying to tell myself that I think she’s lying… but I’ve started to think, “Man, my biggest hope is that she’s lying.” That’s kind of sad.

        Donald Trump has claimed that he would replace Janet Yellen because she is “not a Republican.”

        On the other hand, this is the kind of bluster that I think he’s totally lying about. Like you say, he seems rather scattershot on monetary policy, and statements like this just seem like one-offs to try to get a soundbite in that appeals to the known population of fed-insane Paul-types.

        Really, what I think I find more concerning than random positions here and there are consistent promises that politicians feel they can’t wiggle out of. Obama probably didn’t even seriously consider renegotiating the Iraq SOFA or even think about whether it would actually be a good thing, because he had just promised too much there. The only reason Gitmo is still open is because the problem was legitimately too hard. Because of this, I’m more concerned about Hillary on trade. When she went anti-TPP in the primary, I thought she was lying. “This is just to put down the BernieBros, and then she’ll pivot.” Then Trump happened, and she’s doubled down. I want to think she’s lying, but more and more, I’m concerned that she’s going to get pressed into a corner.

        With Trump, the concern is the opposite – he seems to actually believe the trade stuff… but since he has no shame, he can’t be pressed into a corner. The only question is whether, after being elected, his executive branch handlers can have a sufficient “Oh shit” conversation with him to make him realize he’s wrong… and I don’t want to bet on Trump realizing he’s wrong, either. This sucks.

      • E. Harding says:

        “he can’t be the literal categorical antithesis of multiple different people and political forces at once.”

        -Sure he can be.

        “Hillary Clinton talks this talk, but I’m willing to bet she doesn’t believe it. She’s pandering to a stupid electorate.”

        -She might not believe it, but she’s captive to a protectionist base on this issue. And, in any case, she is apparently ignorant enough about international economics to be incapable of crushing Trump on this issue. Look at how she was totally unable to respond to Trump on trade during the debate. If she was actually knowledgeable on trade, she should have crushed him, thus leading to Clinton actually gaining support in the LAT tracker (the current Clinton poll surge is due solely to non-response bias, which is not an issue with the LAT tracker).

        Clinton also apparently believes the nutty (and disproven) claim that higher mandates on businesses for employing will lead to more jobs:
        http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=31877
        Meanwhile, Trump correctly stated last year that wages are too high. Who has the better understanding of economics on jobs?

        Trump is simply parroting 1860s-1930s Republican orthodoxy (and 1980s Democratic orthodoxy) on the trade issue. If you think Lincoln, McKinley, and Harding’s protective tariffs+”reciprocity arrangements” (compare Trump’s “great trade deals”) policy caused a greater deal of institutional damage to America than the appointment of Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court, I don’t know what to tell you.

        “As a passionate advocate for tax reform, Donald Trump’s tax plan depresses me and should depress most people who read it. It’s better than his first draft, but still laughably (and cry-ably?) bad.”

        -What are the big changes you’d make to it, and is it better than the current system and the changes Clinton would attempt to make to it? Even Ross Douthat, a NeverTrumper, agreed Trump’s tax plan was superior to Romney’s.

        “Not only does this display a complete ignorance of how industries “compete””

        -Trump’s reasoning is that the U.S. only has power to control carbon dioxide emissions standards in the U.S. If the U.S. government increases the cost of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S., then, naturally, American productive activity involving extensive carbon dioxide emissions will move to other countries, including China. What am I missing here?

        “Furthermore, you should support leaders who say “anthropogenic climate change is real, but I don’t want to do anything about it” rather than those who are ignorant of the subject.”

        -It doesn’t really matter whether Trump uses falsehoods or truths to arrive at a correct conclusion, so long as he does arrive at a correct conclusion. In any case, Clinton is notorious for not changing Her mind about any big foreign intervention she helped the U.S. government take part in for at least a decade. Presidents don’t have a decade to fix their mistakes.

        The emissions reductions necessary to achieve substantial prevention of future global warming are massive. As AnonBosch says, see the references I provided in my first comment. Curbing emissions a bit for no substantial prevention of future global warming is, as far as I can see, worse than useless. Clinton is more likely to do such non-worthwhile interventions regarding carbon dioxide emissions than Trump. The only reason to support a Clinton presidency in matters of carbon dioxide emissions reductions would be if Clinton (but not Trump) manages to reach some kind of massive binding international agreement with leading carbon-dioxide-emitting countries. I just don’t see that on the horizon.

        “Normalizing a political restaffing of the fed would be the end of competent central banking as we know it.”

        -No; it would be the beginning of great central banking, similar to how Reagan and Nixon pressured the Fed to keep money easy during their re-election years, leading America to be so great in those years, both won in 49-state landslides.

        “I’m not afraid of her continuing our longstanding tradition of doing exactly what every president has done with regard to the federal reserve.”

        -If Bush II politicized the Federal Reserve, the great recession might never have happened. I’d take that chance.

        “I point you toward Scott Aaronson’s post “Daddy, why didn’t you blog about Trump?””

        -See the second comment on this post (the first one not by me). It sucks. It’s pure argument from fictional evidence:
        http://lesswrong.com/lw/k9/the_logical_fallacy_of_generalization_from/

        At least you attempted an argument based on the issues, and for that, I give you at least a hint of a thumbs-up. Better than what Scott did in his post, in any case. But each time you try to give a policy-based reason in favor of Clinton and against Trump, you seem to provide either weakly backed claims or nothing more than more reasons to vote for Trump.

        • SilasLock says:

          At least you attempted an argument based on the issues, and for that, I give you at least a hint of a thumbs-up.

          Thanks for the kind words? =P
          In all seriousness, though, I was hyper sleep deprived when I wrote this and, rereading it, I probably could have backed up my statements a little better. So on that front, I owe you an apology. Nevertheless, I stand by my claims.

          Let’s run through the list of things about which we disagree:

          “he can’t be the literal categorical antithesis of multiple different people and political forces at once.”

          -Sure he can be.

          Can he? When I think of opposites, I think of stuff like “black and white”, “infinity vs an infinitesimal”, “yes and no”–two things that, in their respective arena, are at the opposite ends of some kind of spectrum. The concept is a little fuzzy, of course. One could argue the opposite of infinity is -infinity rather than an infinitesimal. But we have to decide that the opposite of infinity is one or the other. It can’t be both without disregarding the definition of “opposite.”

          Clinton and Bush are certainly different kinds of politicians, and the supporters of one often despise the supporters of the other with a passion. It’s a long stretch to say that they’re similar enough to be Donald Trump’s collective opposite.

          I will grant you that Trump is pretty far from both of Clinton and Bush on the political spectrum, though. He’s a lot closer to Bush, IMO.

          “Hillary Clinton talks this talk, but I’m willing to bet she doesn’t believe it. She’s pandering to a stupid electorate.”

          -She might not believe it, but she’s captive to a protectionist base on this issue. And, in any case, she is apparently ignorant enough about international economics to be incapable of crushing Trump on this issue. Look at how she was totally unable to respond to Trump on trade during the debate.

          Actually, this is something we can agree on! I’d like to think that Clinton will make a lot of silly trade-related campaign promises, then totally switch positions once she gets into office, but that’s a claim which Trump supporters often make about Donald Trump that I often disparage. I’d be hypocritical if I were to make the same mistake toward Clinton (sorry if this comes across as an underhanded jab, I don’t mean it that way). You’re also right that international econ is not her strong point.

          Clinton also apparently believes the nutty (and disproven) claim that higher mandates on businesses for employing will lead to more jobs.

          Meanwhile, Trump correctly stated last year that wages are too high. Who has the better understanding of economics on jobs?

          It’s true that Clinton is using a bad argument for minimum wage hikes. Given an independent monetary authority targeting the output gap, the effects she’s talking about are non-existent. But there are other reasons to favor an increased minimum wage, and like you said earlier:

          -It doesn’t really matter whether Trump Clinton uses falsehoods or truths to arrive at a correct conclusion, so long as [s]he does arrive at a correct conclusion.

          I’m not sure I like this argument; I’d prefer for my politicians to understand their own policies. But hey, whatever floats your boat. =P

          Plus, while Trump did say that wages are too high (never mind that wages and the minimum wage are rather different things), he also favors hikes in the minimum wage. And cuts in them. It depends on which time period you view him in.

          “As a passionate advocate for tax reform, Donald Trump’s tax plan depresses me and should depress most people who read it. It’s better than his first draft, but still laughably (and cry-ably?) bad.”

          -What are the big changes you’d make to it, and is it better than the current system and the changes Clinton would attempt to make to it? Even Ross Douthat, a NeverTrumper, agreed Trump’s tax plan was superior to Romney’s.

          Doing a technical breakdown would take ages, but if I were to do so I think we’d disagree mostly over the non-technical aspects. I’m a fan of renewable energy deductions, for instance, which Donald Trump wants to remove. Since that’s mostly a political position, not an “I want to optimize the tax code” one, I’m kind of afraid to dive down this rabbit hole. =(

          The only reason to support a Clinton presidency in matters of carbon dioxide emissions reductions would be if Clinton (but not Trump) manages to reach some kind of massive binding international agreement with leading carbon-dioxide-emitting countries. I just don’t see that on the horizon.

          I do, though. Having a Democrat in office is far more likely to lead to such an agreement, and it has to happen. Otherwise my pet political cause is basically screwed.

          “Normalizing a political restaffing of the fed would be the end of competent central banking as we know it.”

          -No; it would be the beginning of great central banking, similar to how Reagan and Nixon pressured the Fed to keep money easy during their re-election years, leading America to be so great in those years, both won in 49-state landslides. If Bush II politicized the Federal Reserve, the great recession might never have happened. I’d take that chance.

          It’s really not a good thing for presidents to pressure the federal reserve into keeping money easy. For one, they’d have to consistently know better than the federal reserve management, which they often don’t. The reason why we maintain an independent monetary authority is to avoid political interference with macroeconomic policy, as the incentives for a president are very different from a chair of the fed.

          If keeping money easy is a good thing, why don’t we do it all the time? The answer is that federal reserve policy, if done correctly, is time invariant. Since agents make decisions in an intertemporal framework, what they do today is dependent on what they think will occur tomorrow. The federal reserve specifies state-contingent policy responses to certain macroeconomic variables, which allows them to make a series of promises about future monetary policy in an initial time period, which presents agents with a set of information that incentivizes them to make utility-maximizing decisions in the present.

          But now consider a second time period. The federal reserve recalculates what information about future policy it should send to agents to ensure a utility-maximizing set of decisions. But that ideal information might not be the same information they used in the initial time period. If they could wipe agents’ memories and start again, they should use the ideal set of future policy signals. But since they cannot, each set of optimally-selected future policy promises must be the same regardless of the time period from which they are viewed. Otherwise, the information sent to agents in the initial time period won’t have the desired effect.

          A federal reserve, staffed by technocrats, can make these calculations and credibly promise to hold to their chosen time-invariant policy rule. But a president has no such incentive to make good on their previously-sent monetary policy signals. If Nixon and Reagan were able to change monetary policy while also making it seem that their interference was a one-time fluke after the fact, AND make their proposed monetary policy changes a move from a time-invariant policy equal to the ideal utility-maximizing one, then such political interference can be beneficial. But since multiple presidents have done this, their actions do not meet criterion #1. And since they’re not good technocrats, I have a strong hunch they didn’t meet criterion #2.

          As such, I’m very doubtful about your claim that Bush 2.0 could have avoided the great recession. Bernanke did all that he possibly could, but if he were to have performed better the help would not have come from outside the federal reserve or academia (there’s a long-standing joke that the fed does whatever the top 100 macroeconomists in the country think it should do).

          -Trump’s reasoning is that the U.S. only has power to control carbon dioxide emissions standards in the U.S. If the U.S. government increases the cost of carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S., then, naturally, American productive activity involving extensive carbon dioxide emissions will move to other countries, including China. What am I missing here?

          Let’s say that the entire US population becomes environmentalists. They all make their personal utility a negative function of how much carbon they personally emit.

          If we were all such altruists, a carbon tax would be superfluous; everyone already takes into account the effect of their emissions on society’s well-being, so why bother? But the key thing to note here is that these altruistic personal preferences wouldn’t help or hurt US manufacturing. There is no reason for firms to move overseas, they’re just less likely to sell to American consumers because they’re less likely to buy products made by emitting firms. The global market for manufactured goods would shrink slightly, then move sales primarily toward other countries.

          The goal of an ideal carbon policy is to simulate US citizens having these altruistic preferences. For instance, we can estimate how much carbon is emitted from consuming a gallon of gasoline, then apply a tax at the point of a sale (gas stations) proportional to the amount emitted. It doesn’t matter where the gas comes from, only that the US wants less of it.

          Apply this principle to the rest of the US economy. In some cases, it might be more difficult to estimate the amount of carbon emitted in the production of a single final good, especially as the supply chain becomes more complex. For industries like these, we can instead tax the emission of carbon during the production of the good, then apply a subsidy for exports of the good equal to the increased emission fees, which simulates a proper demand-side tax. Most good carbon policy proposals include something like this in them.

          Donald Trump thinks that this last example would lead to uncompetitive manufacturing, and it would if we didn’t apply the subsidy to exports. But that’s like a left-winger claiming that a shift to a consumption tax would hurt the poor, and as Scott Sumner (whom you’ve linked to before, so I assume you’re a fan) says, that’s not true. You just change the tax rates until they’re sufficiently progressive; the structure of the tax is irrelevant. You have to take the policy change as a collective package, not piece by piece.

          Furthermore, a lot of carbon emissions in the US come not from manufacturing or car use, but from coal-fired power plants. These public utilities can’t move overseas, and so carbon pricing policies become even simpler.

          That’s all I’ve got. I hope some of this has been convincing.

          • E. Harding says:

            Not much to argue with here on a lot of this, but I must disagree here:

            “Bernanke did all that he possibly could, but if he were to have performed better the help would not have come from outside the federal reserve or academia”

            -I see no evidence for this. I think Bernanke could have performed a lot better.

            And it does seem Trump knew better than Bernanke on the specific matter of what to do in 2008.

            https://economicsophisms.com/2016/06/17/trump-on-the-economy-bernanke/

            “Otherwise my pet political cause is basically screwed.”

            -My suspicion is, it is either way. The Senate will probably refuse to ratify any climate-change-related treaty (ask Joe Manchin).

            Good comment. Very thorough.

  35. Anonymous says:

    People who have a hard time understanding and empathizing with those who “wish to see the world burn” in one way or another, or having problems reconciling this with moral philosophy and rational strategy, please consider this:

    Autothysis. Ultimatum Game (Are they making an ultimatum or rejecting one?) and Dead Hand (Nuclear War)

  36. Derelict says:

    replaces sustainable democratic politics with ethnic coalition-building (unlike the totally-not-ethnic-coalition-based politics of today, apparently?)

    I don’t think anyone actually believes that today’s politics don’t have ethnic coalitions — the people who would vote for Trump purely based on immigration already see the ethnic coalitions formed in modern American politics and don’t want that particular problem getting worse.

  37. Xavier says:

    Nice post, thanks. My 2 cts.

    About the Marx analogy, it’s weird you would use it against Trump, IMHO it would more aptly describe libertarians. Trump seems less radical than Johnson in terms of starting off with a clean slate, at least on the institutional level. He’s ruthless about obliterating the left media’s influence but it’s more of a cultural thing.

    About the preference for the low variance, I’m not that convinced it’s the best way when the trend is clearly negative. I’m French and Chirac’s presidency has basically been a looooong and boooooring downward slide. After 12 years, we were still in the same shit but deeper, and our options had worsened.

    About the apocalypse risk. Hard to say. This would require a head-on clash with a major power and the most likely would be Russia which seems to be Trump’s buddy (not that this couldn’t change). Still, it’s no longer the 60’s, the risk seems pretty remote and Americans have never decided their vote on foreign policy anyway.

    About the borderers and the reconstruction of the GOP, I don’t think it’ll go as you say. First, having poor, uneducated voters doesn’t prevent from having a high-level elite. Second, i think the left is inherently unstable (rich whites + poor blacks) A possibility over the next couple decades is a complete shift : white trash and poor blacks realizing that they have far more in common than they previously thought (and that the NYT, HuffPo, Slate, Vox crowd despise them equally already).

    About the SJW getting even more radicalized by a Trump presidency. First your argument is basically appeasement : don’t fight the loonies lest they become even more insane. Second, it can be reversed : what will become of the anti-PC crowd if Clinton is elected? At the end of the day, it amounts to which scare you more, SJW or trumkins?

    Interesting ideas, thanks again.

    • Gazeboist says:

      white trash and poor blacks realizing that they have far more in common than they previously thought

      For three hundred years they have not done so; I’d be surprised if they did it now. (Also, after the Great Migration, they have some genuinely different concerns)

    • Second, i think the left is inherently unstable (rich whites + poor blacks)

      Uh, no. Most of the African-American electorate is middle-class. Over half have at least some college education.

      • keranih says:

        @ Larry –

        Do you have a cite for that information?

        This page gives (for 2013) ‘Middle class’ as $40K-65K.

        This page gives (for 2014) a total of 49% of AA households as making less than $35K.

        For the ‘half have some college’ I found this – where in 2015 53% had “some college or more”. Of course, this also gives the HS graduation rate at 87% – how to compare this with the number who are functionally illiterate (20% by this page) I am not sure.

        Given the issue with the state of CA finding that a nontrivial number of college freshmen are not actually prepared for college course work, I am not sure what to make of that “some college” figure.

        • Deiseach says:

          Of course, this also gives the HS graduation rate at 87% – how to compare this with the number who are functionally illiterate (20% by this page) I am not sure.

          Having worked as clerical support for an adult literacy programme, I’m not at all surprised by those numbers. It is perfectly possible to get through secondary school and graduate at the end with poor literacy; a combination of problems not being addressed at an early stage when intervention would have helped leading to further and further falling behind, assumptions that the pupil is just stupid and that’s why they’re doing so badly, and not being a trouble-maker or otherwise sticking out to attract attention so the pupil is permitted to move from class to class as long as they just sit there quietly in class and let the teacher get on with things.

          My former place of employment ran workplace literacy programmes; it’s possible to be an adult, in a job, married with a family, functional and active in your society, and have poor literacy skills. And to have quietly shuffled through school in the manner described, and developed various coping strategies to get around poor literacy. Having poor literacy skills does not necessarily mean stupid or low IQ, which is something that gets overlooked; sometimes, yes, it does mean that, but equally often it does not.

          • Gazeboist says:

            Agreed. Barely-passing grades are the biggest predictor of future failures, not because the student is necessarily at their limit, but because they obviously didn’t learn the material and nobody is going to correct that before they try to build on it.

  38. gbdub says:

    To the extent this essay does argue for Hillary, it does so in a way that isn’t going to sway anyone motivated to vote Trump.

    Basically, you argue that Hillary will be competent and reasonably predictable. But what if she’s going to competently enact stuff people don’t want? E.g. a broad amnesty for illegal immigrants is legitimately unpopular among a lot of people. To the extent Hillary would competently make that happen, most Trump voters (and a lot of people who don’t like Trump) would consider that a negative.

    This has turned into a mostly issue-free campaign. Blame for this goes to both sides, with Trump trying to apparently avoid any solid proposals and Hillary mostly just saying that Trump is a nasty person. But I think part of Hillary’s motivation is that there really is a lot of sympathy for the sentiment of Trump – maybe they believe we can’t literally build a wall and make Mexico pay for it, but Trump trying to do so and failing, or at least approaching the immigration issue with that as the opening proposal, would be preferable to Hillary’s position. Or maybe they think we can’t say “no new Muslims allowed!” but someone who is willing to at least consider (and name) radical Islamism as a serious threat is preferable to someone who downplays it.

    • E. Harding says:

      “Basically, you argue that Hillary will be competent and reasonably predictable.”

      -I think she will be reasonably predictable. I see no reason to believe she will be even remotely competent.

      • gbdub says:

        I wasn’t arguing against you, I was giving Scott’s argument the benefit of the doubt.

        Anyway Hillary’s been around politics long enough to successfully do whatever it is she wants to do, and is willing to get dirty and wheel ‘n’ deal to make it happen (her real blunders are mostly “occasionally gets caught”). Whether those things are good ideas is another matter, and that’s what I was trying to convey.

  39. benwave says:

    Well that was quite a mountain to read through! Some interesting food for thought in there but there’s still something I’ve not seen addressed. Hope people can still be bothered to scroll all the way down…

    I’m less sanguine about the state of America in particular but I think that its generally First World problems probably can’t be solved by politics. They will probably require either genetic engineering or artificial intelligence

    Scott, I’m a little puzzled by this. It’s been my view for some time now that the kind of first-world problems we are looking at are pretty much the exact same problems that need to be solved in order for AI safety to be a thing – how does one act in a world containing many entities of roughly equivalent power and significantly varying utility functions; and what would we want a much more powerful entity to do? Whether that entity would be a government apparatus or a powerful AI, the question still has to be solved first doesn’t it? And since we collectively have chances at the moment to influence either the forms of governments or the forms of AIs that will be developed it’s not a moot point I would think

    • Slicer says:

      We’re not going straight from zero to all-consuming computronium optimizer. The first AIs will be built to do things we can’t accomplish at present, harmless things that everyone can agree on. Cleave glucosepane from collagen. Cure every type of cancer. Rid the human body of amyloids. Exterminate mosquitoes, ticks, and tapeworms. Genetically engineer all of humanity for intelligence and disease resistance.

  40. Slicer says:

    It’s funny how we agree on the critical factor and yet come to entirely different conclusions.

    Genetic engineering, artificial intelligence, and probably several other future technologies will be required to solve the world’s problems.

    Who develops those technologies? In what environment are they best developed? A regulatorily stifling environment, or a pro-business, pro-experimentation one? Regulatory weight isn’t just something Republicans make up. If businesses need to go through layers of government to get anything done, nothing gets done.

    Therefore, Trump, with all his bluster and braggadocio, is the right candidate to actually get the future here more quickly.

  41. Mace says:

    There’s another argument here – how exactly are we visualizing a world where immigrants damage American institutions? I envision it as America becoming more like Third World countries – constant ethnic tension, government by strongmen, rampant corruption, lack of respect for checks and balances, and overregulation of industry. But Trump is promising us all of that already, without even admitting any immigrants! If we’re going to become a Third World country, let’s at least help some people while we’re doing it!

    This is a dumb argument. The fact is, there has been a deliberate “Brazilification” of our nation over the last 50 years. It’s nearly unbelievable how much our demographics have changed in that time, and the consequences have been utterly ruinous to our nation. It’s no laughing matter. Trump is literally the only hope of stopping this short of civil war.

    And have no illusions we’re “helping” anyone. Go check out how blacks do in Brazil. If you think they have it bad here, you’ll see they still have much room to sink further. You won’t be raising the immigrants up so much as pulling the natives down. It has to stop.

    • AnonBosch says:

      The fact is, there has been a deliberate “Brazilification” of our nation over the last 50 years. It’s nearly unbelievable how much our demographics have changed in that time, and the consequences have been utterly ruinous to our nation.

      Is it your contention that “constant ethnic tension, government by strongmen, rampant corruption, lack of respect for checks and balances, and overregulation of industry,” can all be chalked up to demographics?

      • Stating the Obvious says:

        Yes.

      • Mace says:

        More than that, actually: I’m saying it’s an inevitability. For all the talk about love of diversity, it’s plain that that’s not how humans actually operate. Rather, they form ethnic blocs. Even on a local level, people tend to segregate by ethnicity. Putnam showed that diversity destroys social trust, and reduces quality of life.

        The managerial class won’t care about any of this, of course. They’re happy to see wages going down and don’t care if suicide rates among the plebs are going up. But unless you’re a billionaire, you should be opposing mass immigration out of self-interest, even if you don’t care about your nation or your descendants.

    • Alex S says:

      > Trump is literally the only hope of stopping this short of civil war.

      What about 2020? 2024?

      What if Trump causes a depression? I can see more of a case that foreign policy experts disagree about values or are somehow bought, but with economic experts, sane people at least agree that more prosperity is good. Trump’s support from economists seems to be about zero right now.

  42. Simon says:

    Scott, I’m on board with all of your criticisms of Trump, but you don’t do justice to the criticisms of Clinton. She is one of the most corrupt politicians on the US national stage, ever, yet you didn’t mention any of that. Electing her president would be rewarding that behavior, and it’s why progressive-thinking people like myself can’t get behind her.

    Edit: She belongs in jail (or at least a fair trial). The DNC should be punished by voters for selecting such a damaged candidate when they had better options. If you want to blame someone for Trump’s high chances for taking the presidency, blame them. Literally anyone else the DNC could have picked would smoke Trump.

  43. baroqueSpiral says:

    I wonder if “political correctness” is really the defining bias affecting Brexit polls. It seems unlikely; all the proposed mechanisms for this bias are vague (compared to other known polling biases), and the analysis seems to stem from looking at the most obvious (to a Blue Tribe-adjacent media analyst) feature of Brexit at first glance, not any of the deeper underlying structural ones. Poll biases tend to come down to concrete demographic factors, and there were definitely lots of those in relation to Brexit, but I haven’t seen any analysis of them in relation to those results.

    In those terms, there are also lots of potential biases the other direction in Clinton/Trump polling, notably that polls are often bad at adequately representing the Latino vote.

  44. Deiseach says:

    That the road to whatever vision of a just and rational society we imagine, something quiet and austere with a lot of old-growth trees and Greek-looking columns, runs through LOCK HER UP?

    Abso-goddamn-lutely, if what we are otherwise contemplating is “You can’t lock me up because I’m too well-connected and too much of an insider for that”.

    NOBODY is above the law, or the regulations for the job. If Grade III junior civil servant in her department would have been booted out of their career for storing confidential work emails on their private home computer, then what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If it’s only the juniors who get thrown to the wolves to appease the howling mob, and the big cheeses know they can waltz out of the position and waltz into another one just as high or even higher, then I say burn the whole thing down and start over again.

    • hlynkacg says:

      I get the feeling that a lot of people, having spent most of their lives in a comfortable bourgeoisie environment, simply don’t appreciate the difference between living in a “high trust” society and “low trust” one. This leads them to regard the social norms designed to promote such trust as superfluous at best and obstacles to be removed at worst.

      They look around, don’t see any lynch mobs, and conclude that norms against joining lynch-mobs are a useless hold-over from a bygone era. This generation is clearly too smart, too moral, and too good-looking to engage in such behavior.

  45. Landru says:

    Hmm; is this the highest sustained rate of comments/time seen on an SSC thread? Having read everything yesterday when the needle was at ~400, and most of the ~1000 updates since then, I have only two things worth noting:

    (1) I’m quite surprised to see just how much of the SSC commentariat — judging by number count, column inches, and passionate intensity — are lodged so deeply in the right-wing fever swamps. From Benghazi Tourette to ritual denigration of scientists, the “paranoid style” Top 40 are here in spontaneous full display*, and with remarkably little or weak push-back from anyone else.

    Readers of a certain age may recall being posed the question, “What Sort Of Man Reads Playboy?” The publishers wanted you to have one idea — see here http://www.rsvlts.com/2015/03/13/playboy-ads/ (warning, 1970’s fashions). But the truth of who actually opened the pages of the magazine was, I think, better revealed by looking at the magazine’s advertisements for things like potency vitamins, hair restorer, and commando-surplus hunting knives.

    In the modern age, who a blog’s dedicated readers are might, you would think, be implied by the original content; but the truth is probably better revealed by the comments. Really, Scott, I didn’t think these were your people, so it’s been an interesting revelation.

    [* Apologies to people who are actually, seriously concerned with Tourette syndrome, for my making a cheap joke; no aspersion implied.]

    (2) I’m charmed but at the same time saddened by Scott’s touching faith in the existence of something called “conservatism” or “conservative thought” or “conservative ideas” in the US, as having any real connection to practical politics.

    I believe it was Lewis Lapham who wrote, many years ago when he was being recruited by the right-wing revolution of the 1980’s, that the core tenet of movement was the belief that (paraphrasing from memory) “putting more money into the hands of rich people is good for both them and for society, while putting more money into the hands of poor people is bad for both them and society”.

    No matter how many intellectuals danced on the heads of pins, while George Will quoted G.K. Chesterton in between citing Burke, the _reality_ of the right-wing movement over the last ~40 years in the U.S. has been a relentless push for exactly one thing: steering more money toward rich people. The idea that there was any sort of actual conservative philosophy, beyond simple plutocracy, functionally at work in right-wing circles was an _illusion_, and one I’m surprised to see that Scott was taken in by.

    Thomas Frank made his bones by pointing out how low-brow voters with a conservative gut feeling for social issues — most prominently abortion rights, but also many others — were thoroughly hoodwinked by a Republican establishment that symbolically sympathized, but whose true priority was always, and always will be, upper-class tax cuts. Now it seems to me that there’s an opening for a new book to tell the story, more in sadness than reproach, of the whole generation of “conservative intellectuals” who thought they were a vital, restorative force but were in reality just so much window dressing, lending respectability to otherwise bare naked avarice.

    • herbert herbertson says:

      Corey Robin (and, ironically, some of the more thoughtful Death Eaters I’ve been reading recently) has it best. The fundamental dispute isn’t over change, or the size of government, or any of that. It’s support of vs. opposition to hierarchies.

    • hlynkacg says:

      Out of curiosity what sort of environment did you grow up in?

      • AnonBosch says:

        Why don’t you guess instead of asking the question? I imagine any response will be met with thoughtful “yes-I-thought-so” chin-rubbing and a retrofit rationale of determination.

    • Corey says:

      I’m quite surprised to see just how much of the SSC commentariat — judging by number count, column inches, and passionate intensity — are lodged so deeply in the right-wing fever swamps. From Benghazi Tourette to ritual denigration of scientists, the “paranoid style” Top 40 are here in spontaneous full display*, and with remarkably little or weak push-back from anyone else.

      I jumped into open threads a while back, having been away from the diaspora for a few years, and it surprised me too. But I quickly learned that pushback was pointless, which makes sense; residents of a reality bubble think it’s obvious that you’re just wrong (evidence: facts from the bubble) and yelling those facts at you will change your mind.

      The only way to usefully participate is to carefully avoid any claims that any one tribal reality is closer to extant reality than any other. With the occasional exception of participating in subthreads like this one, I actually now try to argue there is no extant reality, only tribal reality (this might actually already be approximately true on issues of political import, which as reality bubbles grow apart and get further internally-entangled will eventually include all issues).

      • Jill says:

        “The only way to usefully participate is to carefully avoid any claims that any one tribal reality is closer to extant reality than any other/”

        Not so. Most liberals are wimps. That’s why Right Wingers control both Houses of Congress, most governorships, most state legislatures, and SCOTUS until Scalia died. Acting wimpy isn’t the only way to participate. Push back once in a while, for Gawd’s sake.

        Of course Right Wingers are not convinced by you pushing back. But are they convinced by your wimping out?

        If they are not annoyed by you, you are probably wimping out and mincing words.

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        I’m quite surprised to see just how much of the SSC commentariat — judging by number count, column inches, and passionate intensity — are lodged so deeply in the right-wing fever swamps.

        Not long ago, some nice mathematical people kindly did some counting and found:

        1. On the membership list, about equal numbers claimed to be Left or Right.

        2. Both sides posted about the same number of posts.

        However, my impression is that of political posts, there are more supporting Right opinions than Left. That is, us Lefties tend to keep our heads down and post on non-political subjects.

        The fever swamp people are mostly visitors I think, alighting on these current threads for obvious reasons.

    • gbdub says:

      And I am sadly unsurprised to find the liberal minority of commenters preening about how much better they are than those nasty “low brow” conservatives. Of course, all their disagreements must come from a “fever swamp”. Their stated philosophy is an “illusion” covering up an obvious greedy plutocratic core that Scott was “taken in by”. They are in a “reality bubble” – no way they could disagree with you otherwise! Clearly, worrying about something so trivial as Benghazi means they are “paranoid” and probably have a mental illness. I bet they live in their mom’s basement and take dick pills and peruse knife catalogs!

      Well, if you’re surprised/dismayed there’s no pushback, then push back! But you’re not pushing back, you’re just spewing uncharitable insults. This sort of thing is why electing Trump as a giant middle finger to condescending liberals is so damn tempting to so many.

      • LPSP says:

        Here here. It’s a microcosm of the greater whole in action. Most of the people whining about this aren’t even bad people – I’ve come to recgonise and respect many of them among the SSC commentariat. But sitting back, saying nothing, and then popping up and going “Well wasn’t that unbecoming?” fifteen minutes later accomplishes no good.

      • E. Harding says:

        Bingo. I also suggest TheWorst be banned for his apparent imperviousness to reason and his constant substance-free preening. He might be even worse than Jill. Same for Landru if he keeps this nonsense up.

        • Ed says:

          The irony of E. Harding calling for a website ban. For lack of substance no less! SMDH

        • gbdub says:

          Eh. Sometimes you and The Worst deserve each other, though I’ll admit to reporting one of their uh, Worser comments.

        • Jill says:

          Wow. It’s so flattering to be insulted by Right Wingers on threads that I haven’t even yet participated in, LOL.

        • TheWorst says:

          It’s hilarious that you call for banning someone for imperviousness to reason and constant substance-free preening.

          Perhaps you’re posting comments of substance under another name, and this is your troll-ID? This comments page here seems to consist of almost nothing but you shitting on reality.

      • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

        Hey, what about me? … don’t forget me … oh why are the mean alt*folks always smearing Jill and TheWorst and Landru and Nancy, but not me?!?! 🙂

        • gbdub says:

          I’m not alt-anything, I’m annoyed by Jill (who I respond to) and TheWorst (who I mostly ignore) but haven’t “smeared” them (which implies an unsupported ad hominem), I’m responding to a specific low-blow by Landru here, and I think Nancy is an excellent commenter. HeelBearCub too, despite my frequent disagreement on substance. I have to say I’m not familiar with you.

      • Seth says:

        Well, if you’re surprised/dismayed there’s no pushback, then push back!

        There is a saying:

        “The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.”

        Consider the time and effort necessary to do high-quality rebuttals, all the while maintaining some civility and charity (and risking getting banned if otherwise). Wouldn’t it be easier to bail out the ocean with a slotted spoon?

        I’ve said this before: Before any sort of rationalism even contemplates reforming society, build a great blog comments section which scales and accommodates major disputes, as proof-of-concept.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          @Seth – “I’ve said this before: Before any sort of rationalism even contemplates reforming society, build a great blog comments section which scales and accommodates major disputes, as proof-of-concept.”

          Welp, I’m depressed.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          FC: Please don’t be depressed. Some of this thread aside, I think SSC is the closest we’ve ever gotten. Moreover, it even has competition, even if you don’t count LW; I see spots like Volokh and HeterodoxAcademy as older and newer players in the game. And even Reddit and Quora have their moments.

          Seth’s point about scaling is sound, I agree. The voting feature has limits that I think people are becoming increasingly aware of – the attention span problem, the tendency to cluster into bubbles, etc.

          I tend to see the scaling problem as one of quickly expressing arguments in terms of claims, and sorting those claims into true, false, unknown, as well as which claims logically infer from which, which are refuted, which are sustained by which source, etc. A formal model of claims. The idea is to shorten the time necessary for people commenting in good faith to look up the refutation to a given claim, the holes in a given argument, and so on.

    • Jill says:

      Thanks much, Landru, for telling it like it is and not mincing words. And not bending over backwards to treat Right Wingers 100X better than they treat you, which is the losing strategy employed by the majority of the Left of Center people here, on the few occasions on which they dare comment.

      • TheWorst says:

        Yes. It’s interesting that the right-wingers here are demonstrating just how very sensitive they are about being treated merely 100x better than they treat anyone sane. Scott did everything possible to be generous to them short of lying about reality, but that was apparently still too insufficiently-biased to keep the whole comments page from being swamped in their frothy rage at not being flattered as much as they’re used to.

        Who knew they cared so much about microaggressions? These are the people who are offended at the very thought of calling someone who looks like a man “Ms.,” but get hilariously aggrieved when anyone points out that a notorious liar is a liar.

    • Jill says:

      And yes, great idea for a book there, Landru. Perhaps I’ll write on myself.

    • Theo Jones says:

      I’m quite surprised to see just how much of the SSC commentariat — judging by number count, column inches, and passionate intensity — are lodged so deeply in the right-wing fever swamps.

      On tumblr Scott implied that the post got linked to on certain places on Reddit and other websites, and a lot of people who aren’t regulars commented. Which explains a lot (like the alt-right posters who unironically used the echo and the influx of low-effort shitposters).

      • Jill says:

        I’ve been on these boards a fair amount lately. And they always seem to be about 90 percent Right Wing. And any Left of Center person who makes a peep is likely to get heavily bashed unless they act super subservient at all times.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @Jill:
          Yes, the commentariat leans right, but not to the extent you contend.

          You are a psychologist, yes?

          What happens when one yells nasty things at one’s spouse? Do you bring out the best or the worst in them?

          Apply some basic psychological reasoning and you understand why you are met with extreme hostility.

          • Seth says:

            @HeelBearCub – “about 90 percent Right Wing”, well, one could argue that percentage. It’s a bit like what Hillary Clinton said with her remark, which was in full:

            “To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? Racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic, you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that and he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people, now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric.”

            Is “half” accurate? Perhaps not. People jumped on that, as it was arguably an overestimate due to overcounting the noise-makers. And I grasp it, the Trump supporters thought they were being smeared with a broad brush.

            But, there’s a true underly point. Trump DOES do “tweets and retweets offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric.”. There’s very nasty parts of his coalition, and he plays to those parts rather than simply ignoring it (much less denouncing it).

            For SSC, in threads above, at least three people have voiced their support of relegalizing business segregation, going back pre-1964 on that aspect of civil rights law. Oh, they’ll say, it’ll all work out, they don’t have any particular ill-will on race, gender, orientation, etc. They aren’t the part of the right-wing that enjoys slurs. But government is interfering in business, and that’s a horror to their definition of freedom. That’s right-wing. Is it 90%? By volume? That number feels high to me, but let’s not have the perfect (percentage) be the enemy of the good (point).

            When the SJW’s talk about “it’s not my job to educate you” and “demands for emotional labor”, they may use it as a way of avoiding all criticism, but they also have a point. The tedium of “Explain the past hundred years of American history to me, in little bite-sized chunks, being kind and charitable, while I snark at you, and play logic games like fallacy-of-the-heap and reductio-ad-absurdem, and semantic parsing, – oh, you got annoyed at it all? Well, that just proves I’m rational, and that you’re irrational! It’s your fault for not being willing to debate properly” – this is a real effect.

            I have no idea what to do about this. I’ve probably gone above more than I should. But overall, the problem seems very much in evidence here.

          • Cord Shirt says:

            When the SJW’s talk about “it’s not my job to educate you” and “demands for emotional labor”, they may use it as a way of avoiding all criticism, but they also have a point. The tedium of “Explain the past hundred years of American history to me, in little bite-sized chunks…” – this is a real effect.

            It is, but the problem is… http://xkcd.com/1053/

            …as tedious as it is, there are always gonna be new people who really *haven’t* ever heard your argument before. Ultimately, either you make the argument or you lose them. Making the argument is a duty and a burden, and one distributed unfairly, but…that’s just the way it is.

            [/Freddie de Boer]

            (but he’s right)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Seth:
            All of those are god and relevant points, worthy of discussion.

            But the thrust of Jill’s comments go well wide of that mark. She is conflating two different things. The amount of commentary aimed at her which is right wing is not the same as th overall commentariat. She views the commentariat as a monolith, at believable that the commenters and comments she sees the most of are representative of the overall site.

            She keep saying claiming to want conversation and an exchange of view points, but she never seems to actually make a post which seems aimed at this goal.

          • “For SSC, in threads above, at least three people have voiced their support of relegalizing business segregation, going back pre-1964 on that aspect of civil rights law.”

            Only three people believe in freedom of association? That’s sad.

            I don’t know if you can legitimately count anarchists as right wing, but that’s up to your definitions.

          • BBA says:

            @David Friedman: Of those three people, I’d wager that approximately two of them thought the fall of Gawker was just, and therefore don’t believe in freedom of expression. Also sad. (See also Scott’s posts on the non-central fallacy, which in this case may not be a fallacy.)

            I thought it was acknowledged that there is a left-right spectrum among anarchists. Do you not consider Noam Chomsky to be to your left, or do you not consider him an anarchist? (And do you know what if anything he thinks of you?)

          • Anonymous says:

            @Seth just wanted to take issue with one tiny you said: the heap problem is not just a “logic game”. It’s a simple yet incredibly powerful observation that lets you take a shortcut right to the most powerful observations of modern philosophy (I’m mainly thinking of Derrida and Wittgenstein here). What’s the dividing line between science and non-science? Are things like species, races, and genders actually real? What about nations and institutions? It all disappears with a simple heap argument. Even physical objects, food, medicine, your computer, your body – all gone. All dividing lines and categories (except for maybe the objects of fundamental physics) are ultimately arbitrary.

            Once you realize that the vast majority of what everyone says on a daily basis is, taken literally, false, political discourse makes a lot more sense, and you understand why political disagreements are so intractable. The political ends to which you put this knowledge, of course, are up to you.

          • @BBA:

            I don’t know what Chomsky thinks of me. He considers himself an anarchist, I have my doubts, given his willingness to write apologetics for the most murderous state of the past century. But I am not an expert on his views in general.

            My instinct is to be opposed to defamation law on freedom of speech grounds. I don’t think libertarians in general hold that position. My impression is that, given the existing law, what happened to Gawker was consistent with it.

            Part of what I was objecting to was your viewing a perfectly standard classical liberal/libertarian view as outrageously right wing, part the lumping together with the term right wing of a wide range of different views.

            Suppose we had been discussing immigration. I’ve been arguing for open borders, in print, for something over forty years. Presumably that would have gotten me classified as a left winger.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Seth
            one could argue that percentage. It’s a bit like what Hillary Clinton said with her remark, which was in full:

            “To just be grossly generalistic, you can put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.

            Actually that was only about half of what she said; she went on to talk about the other basket, which was full of nice people with legitimate issues.

            As for “half of”, that’s an idiom for, well, ‘about half of’. I’d have guessed it was US Southern, but I seem to recall CS Lewis writing something like, ‘If you make a thing voluntary, half the people don’t do it.’

          • HeelBearCub says:

            As for “half of”, that’s an idiom for, well, ‘about half of’.

            I’d say the idiom there is more a synonym for “a significant number of” where the actual percentage could be significantly less than 50%.

            “Can you boil some potatoes?”

            “Half these potatoes are bad!”

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ HBC
            I’d say the idiom there is more a synonym for “a significant number of” where the actual percentage could be significantly less than 50%.

            Yeah, you’re right.

            half of those potatoes are bad

            Yes, it’s not the literal count of potatoes; it’s more like, ‘The mixture in this bin is too problematic for us to bother getting an exact count. [But you non-deplorables know who you are, and I’m listening to your problems now, so please come over to my side, I’ll make you some cookies.]’

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Cord Shirt
            …as tedious as it is, there are always gonna be new people who really *haven’t* ever heard your argument before.

            Less tediously, you might offer a link to some site that explains it well, inviting the person back for more discussion after they read it.

            Hm, if the site allows comments, the person can ask some of zis questions there, of posters who are interested in discussion at entry level.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Seth – “But government is interfering in business, and that’s a horror to their definition of freedom.”

            …As one of the people you’re objecting to, you do not seem to grasp my position. The basic problem isn’t government interfering with business, it’s government convincing one section of the population that they cannot meaningfully live under it.

            Regarding the 1964 civil rights movement specifically, it seems to me that the left has framed its position as an endless loop of that period ever since. The problem is that the issues are not the same, the situation is not the same, and that the Civil Rights movement won by trading social cohesion for justice and we are now out of social cohesion.

            See the thread starting here, and particularly the first two replies. Diversity requires tolerance, and tolerance means allowing things that really do seem repugnant to you.

        • Corey says:

          It’s a safe space for ideological diversity, and any such space is going to attract cranks (non-cranks have other places to go).

    • No matter how many intellectuals danced on the heads of pins, while George Will quoted G.K. Chesterton in between citing Burke, the _reality_ of the right-wing movement over the last ~40 years in the U.S. has been a relentless push for exactly one thing: steering more money toward rich people.

      Yeah this is the sort of nonsense that totally destroys thoughtful discussion. I must agree that the comments to Scott’s post have been pretty disappointing. This is the best example.

      • Jill says:

        Yes, that is indeed the best comment on Scott’s post. Very frank and honest, and realistic about what is going on.

        If we are not immersed in Right Wing propaganda, then how is it that almost everyone everywhere on Internet comment boards, here and elsewhere, all believe Right Wing beliefs? Is everyone just so wise that they believe these wonderful Right Wing beliefs, despite the media supposedly being so liberal? Everyone is just so independent and wise. Even the lowest IQ people in the country are all so wise as to be Right Wing, despite the supposed Left Wing influence of the media.

        It must be incredibly disappointing when 1 out of every 500 comments here is critical of the Right Wing rather than the Left. It’s such a rare occurrence here that it must be traumatic for the 99% of commenters here who are Right of Center.

        • Artificirius says:

          What Right Wing beliefs, exactly and explicitly, are you referencing here?

        • Anonymous says:

          >If we are not immersed in Right Wing propaganda, then how is it that almost everyone everywhere on Internet comment boards, here and elsewhere, all believe Right Wing beliefs?

          We always feel like our own ideology is on the defensive.

          There are many, many leftists and leftist communities online. Here’s a bunch of leftist subreddits off the top of my head: /r/shitredditsays, /r/gamerghazi, /r/socialism, /r/communism, /r/anarchism, and many others with a slightly leftist bent. There are many leftist blogs/tumblrs, just google “feminism blog” or “social justice blog” to find blogs with a leftist commentariat.

          I’m not aware of my right wing beliefs coming from “propaganda”; what are the sources of this propaganda? My right wing beliefs come from personal interactions I’ve had with socialists, feminists, and SJWs, and realizing that I did not like them or their views. When I see leftists acting smug about pulling the fire alarm a right wing university talk, or tearing down a pro-Trump sign, my gut emotional reaction lets me know that we’re in different tribes. No propaganda needed.

      • TheWorst says:

        Yeah this is the sort of nonsense that totally destroys thoughtful discussion.

        I know, right? It’s also true. If you can’t have a thoughtful discussion based on the truth, maybe the problem isn’t the people who aren’t willing to tell you flattering lies?

  46. I keep thinking I should read all the comments before I say anything substantive….. but there’s one thing I want to get in.

    I’ve been getting the impression that a lot of people here think that BLM is about nothing of importance and should just be ignored.

    Actually, there’s a lot wrong with the US justice system, and I’m including the police, the courts, the laws, and the prisons.

    I recommend reading Radley Balko— a journalist who’s spent decades on US justice system atrocities. (He also does an occasional piece praising good behavior from the justice system.) He’s the most notable public rationalist (in the sense of excellent epistemic hygiene– not part of the rationalist community so far as I know) that I can think of.

    There’s false accusations, forced confessions, plea bargaining that gets innocent people imprisoned, bad forensics, killing harmless dogs, resistance to improving forensics, ignored evidence, laws against victimless crimes, theft of property, innocent people killed or injured in SWAT raids…. I’ve probably forgotten something.

    A lot of this does come down harder on black people, and it’s entirely reasonable to talk about racism, even though racism is hardly the only thing that’s going on.

    • AnonBosch says:

      One of the downsides of BLM is that it’s essentially a woolly, decentralized movement that consists of anyone who has ever unironically used a hashtag. Thus it includes a full spectrum of reason and unreason, with very valid gripes at policing, people with extremely sensible reform plans, people who think it should lead to Full Communism Now, and people who take shots at cops.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @AnonBosch – “One of the downsides of BLM is that it’s essentially a woolly, decentralized movement that consists of anyone who has ever unironically used a hashtag. ”

        Yeah, I hear those are a real pain.

    • sourcreamus says:

      Agreed that there is alot wrong with the justice system but BLM’s emphasis on race makes these issues harder to talk about not easier.
      For example the reason Eric Garner died in NYC was because he was laid on his stomach while handcuffed. Because of his weight and poor health this is what killed him, and would have been prevented had the officers just allowed him to sit up. He is not the first person to needlessly die because of this. It would have had a very salutary effect had the proper way to treat an overweight arrested person been the focus of attention instead of his race.
      Also by focusing on obviously correct shootings like the one in Ferguson and the one in Charlotte it allows fair minded people to ignore what should be a serious issue.

    • Odoacer says:

      Don’t forget civil asset forfeiture.

      Some of the cases involving it seem like straight up robbery by the state.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      My argument would be that leaning on the highly questionable racism narrative turned what should have been a broad-based, bipartisan populist movement into another dead-end tribal knife fight. That doesn’t seem like a winning strategy to me.

    • Dr Dealgood says:

      Most Americans could agree in principle that police overreach is a problem. Contra stereotype, I don’t think most right wing types actually want to live in a police state* and find things like civil asset forfiture and no-knock raids abhorrent.

      The problem is that BLM, and prior movements like it, is the best argument for police militarization one could hope to make.

      Trading n thugs in blue uniforms in for 10n thugs in hoodies is not a deal anyone with any sense will take. Every riot and terrorist attack by BLM supporters is another reminder to white middle class people why their communities implemented stricter policing in the first place. This is a recapitulation of the 60s and 70s crime waves and will likely lead to a repeat of the crackdowns which followed that era.

      *I’m an exception because of the NYPD. They do a good enough job I’m pretty much fine with letting them do whatever they feel like.

    • gbdub says:

      it’s entirely reasonable to talk about racism, even though racism is hardly the only thing that’s going on

      I was a fan of Radley Balko before it was cool, but I think you’re mistaken on this last bit. It is essentially impossible to have a “reasonable” “talk” about racism, because it inevitably devolves into accusations and you-don’t-get-an-opinion-because-your-skin-color-means-you-don’t-understand. Then in turns into “pro cop” and “pro innocent little boy” because we’re arguing only about the legitimately controversial things like the Ferguson shooting. Pure toxoplasma.

      There is a lot of common ground and real issues to focus on, but BLM’s not the group to do it, because to the extent they have a platform it’s to assume policing is inherently racist and yell about that, in other words focusing exactly on the most controversial and mind-killing part of the problem.

    • John Schilling says:

      A lot of this does come down harder on black people, and it’s entirely reasonable to talk about racism, even though racism is hardly the only thing that’s going on.

      But if the hashtag is “Black Lives Matter”, racism is the only thing that will be talked about.

      I think you know that I’ve been with you on the broader issue for about twenty years before the concept of a hashtag was invented, and I second the Balko recommendation. I think the only way we get a productive discussion of the broader issues is to wait until #BLM is done and forgotten. Too many white people won’t participate if the discussion is so obviously stacked against their concerns, and too many useful solutions will be deprecated because they don’t align with the its-about-race-stupid angle.

    • Sandy says:

      Nobody wants to “talk” about racism. That “conversation about race” Eric Holder challenged America to have is really just a lecture, and people realize that. When someone says “We want you to listen to our lived experiences”, they don’t literally mean that, they mean “We want you to accept everything we say as the gospel truth”.

    • Today’s Balko article, or how utterly shameless the police have become.

      This is why even though the SJWs have made it harder, it’s important to push back against the government’s mistreatment of the public.

      Also, it would have been nice if there’d been sensible broad-based movement to get the justice system under control, but there wasn’t, and I think this left an opportunity open for people to set it up as a racial issue.

      • keranih says:

        Emmm. I don’t know if I would use that word, “shameless”, particularly in the context. But arguing about it would mean getting into how “wolves, sheep, and sheepdogs”, while limited in its usefulness, is not a false analogy. (*)

        it would have been nice if there’d been sensible broad-based movement to get the justice system under control, but there wasn’t

        I disagree. There have been long standing justice reform movements, particularly under the auspices of the Catholic Church. However, the realities of violence in American mean that African American men commit murders, rapes, and robberies at a higher rate than Caucasian men, and this is particularly apparent in places with high populations of African Americans. Such as the American South. Where earnest young northern progressives traveled, in order to bring the Good Word enlightened attitudes and bring about the Second Coming the Civil Rights Act.

        So secular progressive reformers have always been “racial” in their intent, in their actions, and in their recruiting. Not that this made it impossible for them to do good. (Bigotry and bias in one area doesn’t mean a person is without merit in others.) There have been some quality investigations and some praiseworthy reversals of unjust judgements. But it would be a mistake to think that the efforts of groups like Project Innocence were ever more about justice than race.

        (*) I don’t hold with the sheepdog analogy. But I’m not trying to mold young men into a productive force for modern society, rather than a destructive one, and I can see why the people in that profession like it.

  47. josh says:

    Not that anybody cares what I have to say, but, are we sure that World War Three is not the actual intention of the Antlanticist deep state? Clearly we are trying to weaken Russia and China by making their neighbors hostlie, making them go through Western dominated companies and regimes for access to important resources and foreign markets. Clearly, the deep state, at least as an institutional structure, doesn’t care about the morality of manipulating cultures, funding and promoting violent movements, or flat out killing innocent people in the name of “geopolitics”. Are we sure the “sane” “status quo” folks behind Hilary Clinton aren’t intentionally pushing the world into a disastre for their own purposes? It has happened before.

    • herbert herbertson says:

      They didn’t consider it to be worth their while when the Soviet Union was a genuine challenger to the global hegemony of the Anglosphere, don’t see any reason why they would change their tune now that it can barely challenge said hegemony over the nations directly adjacent to it.

  48. Anon says:

    Throughout history, dozens of movements have doomed entire civilizations by focusing on the “destroying the current system” step and expecting the “build a better one” step to happen on its own.

    Except this did work for France, it just took 100 years.

    Whereas other civilizations doomed themselves by focusing on the “maintain the current system” even though it’s showing itself unsustainable. (I wrote a report on the Moche civilization)

    Capitalism seems to have come naturally enough as an overlay of earlier systems. Did Marx believe that “once capitalism was removed” communism would naturally occur and work, or did he believe in a more gradual progression? What little I’ve read seems to indicate the latter.

    There’s another argument here – how exactly are we visualizing a world where immigrants damage American institutions?

    I’m anti-Trump and have significant pro-immigration sentiments (a desire for freedom of movement for people). But I see some immigrants, especially the more powerful ones, negatively influencing American culture and institutions through their home-culture entitlement mentalities. The US has a nominal boot-strap and equality culture. Many other nations have class or caste based cultures, and we haven’t done enough as a nation of re-indoctrinating immigrants against the more un-American aspects of their home cultures. (Here’s looking at you, Andrew Liveris, and your entirely British Empire familial aristocratic expectations. His wife wasn’t an employee or principal of Dow, but he thought it appropriate to act as if Dow was his own Downton Abbey.)

    Aside from the fact that getting back at annoying people isn’t worth eroding the foundations of civil society – do you really think a Trump election is going to hurt these people at all? Make them question anything? “Oh, 51% of the American people disagree with me, I guess that means I’ve got a lot of self-reflecting to do.” Of course not. A Trump election would just confirm for them exactly what they already believe – that the average American is a stupid racist who needs to be kept as far away from public life as possible. If Trump gets elected, sure, the editorial pages will be full of howls of despair the next day, but underneath the howls will be quiet satisfaction that the world is exactly the way they believed it to be.

    Okay…. You think this would be about hurting them? Do you not understand that certain humans, including those of types most desirous to be in the public eye, and to influence public culture, will be influenced by the vicissitudes of public will? See the aftermath of Brexit for a recent example. Or see the Sanders influence on the Democratic party for another.

  49. Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

    In breaking news, the Donald is focusing America’s political debate onto the erotic tapes (or not) of Alicia Machado … which is yet another “Cluster B flying monkey,” isn’t it?

    Meanwhile, in an open letter appearing in The New York Review of Books, Ed Witten and 83 well-respected colleagues are advancing concrete two-state solutions to the Middle East conflicts.

    The Donald’s priorities are mysterious, aren’t they?

    • Alex S says:

      Intellect doesn’t convince me they are in the right. It could be that they’re using their intellects to climb into the clouds. I would not be surprised if Donald is the best candidate to represent the values of the US population, even if the US population cannot bear to hear a frank, logical statement of those values.

    • pku says:

      I have to give Hillary major politics points for steering him on to that issue like that. It’s enough to make me think that maybe she’s the manipulative genius some people believe Trump is.

      • Jill says:

        Are you kidding? No one needs to steer him anywhere. Trump goes off on irrelevant tangents constantly, whether anyone suggests them to him or not.

        But by all means, find a way to bash a liberal politician. Bashing liberal candidates and their supporters is what Right Wingers live for, isn’t it?

        • hlynkacg says:

          If you think pku is right wing, I don’t think you’ve been paying attention.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          I think a great deal of the reason you come off so poorly here, Jill, is that you bash the right, and then get sniffy when you get criticized. In other words, you refuse to live by the rules you impose on other people. This is commonly considered to be unfair.

        • pku says:

          Hell, I like Hillary. And if this was part of her plan, I just consider it evidence that she’s as competent as her stronger supporters say.
          (And if this was a trap, it’s definitely fair play – it wouldn’t work to expose his weaknesses if they weren’t there in the first place).

  50. Patjab says:

    Could someone please help me by clarifying precisely -what it is- that Clinton has done which makes her criminal / corrupt / terrible? I have this vague impression of her as this untrustworthy corrupt politician but I realize I can’t actually pin down any specific and credible allegations that have been substantiated against her. Whereas with Trump I can easily think of a clear list of terrible things he’s done (Trump University defrauding people, housing discrimination against minorities, failing to pay contractors, using Trump Foundation to pay for his personal lifestyle and bribing Attorney General etc). With Clinton all I seem to hear is along the lines of “*mumble* Benghazi *mumble* something *mumble* emails *mumble*”, but apart from a couple of (for a politician) fairly minor everyday lies she’s definitely been shown to have told, I can’t seem to think of any -specific evidence- of major wrongdoing.

    I’m starting to worry that I’m just trusting a media narrative without evidence so I’d appreciate it if people could outline the list of the worst concrete Clinton wrongdoings with some links to (relatively) objective outside evidence that substantiates them, to help me assess her properly.

    • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

      Lol … your request is like asking Southern Baptists for evidence against evolution; it’s a sure bet that they’ll be happy to oblige! 🙂

    • I think there are at least three different grounds on which some regard Hillary Clinton as corrupt and/or criminal:

      1. The cattle trading case. It looks very much as though she was the middleman for a large bribe to her husband the governor disguised as a wildly unlikely series of gains in a speculative market in which she had no expertise.

      2. Large donations to the Clinton Foundation by foreign actors who wanted, and got, access to the Secretary of State. Related to this, I’ve seem the claim–whether true I don’t know–that the Foundation spends only a small fraction of its income on the charitable activities it supposedly exists to promote. The implication is that it’s mostly a piggy bank that the Clintons can use to provide employment and other benefits to supporters.

      3. The whole email case. It seems clear that Hillary made false statements about what she had done through her private server. It seems reasonably clear that the private server existed to shield what went through it from Freedom of Information Act claims. It is known that Hilary’s people deleted large amounts of material from the server before turning it over, with the claim that it was all private correspondence. It is claimed that some of the deleted information was recovered and was not private correspondence.

      It is argued that using an insecure private server risked classified information getting out. I don’t think there is any evidence that classified information in fact got leaked as a result. People here with experience of the treatment of classified data argue that the same level of carelessness by an ordinary government employee would have led to severe sanctions, possibly including prison.

      I think those are the three clearest cases, although I gather there are lots of other accusations.

      • Patjab says:

        Hm, thanks. With regard to 2. this sounds like a fairly standard case of “cash-for-access” which is a bad-but-not-unusual sort of low scale scandal that we have a lot of here in the UK and I get the impression isn’t that uncommon in the US either given the sheer amount of money flowing around in politics. If the slush fund type allegation stands up that is a lot more serious, but I’ve seen more substantive evidence of this being true for the Trump Foundation than the Clinton Foundation (kind of ironic really that they are both facing these parallel accusations for their personal charitable foundations).

        With regard to 3. what I’ve read about the email case and the FBI’s findings suggested more a case of incompetence and excessive defensiveness than actual malicious intent or corrupt / illegal activity but I take it some people think there’s more to the story that just wasn’t uncovered. Not sure how credible I consider that kind of speculation though.

        I was not aware of 1. until now and that does sound potentially quite serious so I’ll take a look into that in more detail. Thanks.

        • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

          For 3:
          I’ve read the FBI’s released document on the case; Clinton has claimed that she did not receive the yearly training for classified data, and that she did not recognize the ‘C’ adorning classified documents as indicating that they were classified. This indicates either lying or extreme incompetence. In either case, it’s sufficient to convict Clinton, as other users have indicated upthread; she escaped only because she was well connected. From the NY Times:

          But on a day of political high drama in Washington, Mr. Comey rebuked Mrs. Clinton as being “extremely careless” in using a private email address and server. He raised questions about her judgment, contradicted statements she has made about her email practices, said it was possible that hostile foreign governments had gained access to her account, and declared that a person still employed by the government — Mrs. Clinton left the State Department in 2013 — could have faced disciplinary action for doing what she did.

          To warrant a criminal charge, Mr. Comey said, there had to be evidence that Mrs. Clinton intentionally transmitted or willfully mishandled classified information. The F.B.I. found neither, and as a result, he said, “our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

          The FBI argued that she didn’t mean to, therefore they couldn’t convict her. gbdub covers this better than I could upthread. The relevant takeaway is that the law says that it’s a felony to distribute classified information related to national defense, regardless of whether it’s done intentionally or through ‘gross negligence’.

          Recently, it came to light that one of her IT employees, Paul Combetta, who goes by the online username ‘stonetear’ posted to reddit asking for help in deleting a particular email address from an email archive, and added that it was for a ‘very VIP person’. It seems clear that the intent was to strip out Clinton’s email address from the archive, so that she could claim that she ‘hadn’t seen’ the classified materials. The information had recently been requested by the state department. Combetta received immunity from the FBI in exchange for his testimony prior to this evidence coming to light; currently, the House Oversight Committe is investigating this.

          The picture I see painted here is that Clinton used a private server in order to avoid FOIA requests, then attempted to destroy the evidence of misbehavior when she was investigated. Regardless of this, the FBI produced enough evidence to convict on the grounds of extreme negligence at least, but let her off because she said she hadn’t meant to. Other, less well-connected government employees have gone to jail for similar behavior.

          • gbdub says:

            The (C) actually means “Confidential”, which is classified, but would be less damaging if released than “Secret” or “Top Secret” information.

            @David Friedman
            “It is argued that using an insecure private server risked classified information getting out. I don’t think there is any evidence that classified information in fact got leaked as a result.”

            Whether it was actually leaked or not is irrelevant, because the storage was improper on its own. Obviously, it’s less bad if it didn’t leak, but improperly possessing classified information is still criminal even if it isn’t done maliciously.

            @Patjab
            “suggested more a case of incompetence and excessive defensiveness than actual malicious intent or corrupt / illegal activity but I take it some people think there’s more to the story that just wasn’t uncovered.”

            If the email server contained any classified information at all (which it did), that’s illegal regardless of the intent. That’s something I don’t think Hillary’s defenders seem to grasp. Yes, it’s worse if she was covering up something shady, but even if the deleted emails were just yoga schedules, the server was still against State Department policy, illegal for not following federal archiving laws, and illegal for containing classified information. No conspiracy theorizing about the lost email is necessary to reach this conclusion; the server, its contents, and the manner in which it was used were all illegal, full stop. The only question is whether Hillary Clinton should be tried and held criminally liable for her role in creating, maintaining, and using the server.

          • Corey says:

            The only question is whether Hillary Clinton should be tried and held criminally liable for her role in creating, maintaining, and using the server.

            Excellent! While that may be Bad and Illegal, or even Evil, there’s much precedent (usually not with one’s own servers, but with gmail or whatever; Palin’s emails got leaked when people figured out her Yahoo account’s secret questions).

            It’s laudable to want to hold top-level government officials to account, but there are lots better cases to *start* this string of prosecutions with than a current front-running Presidential candidate.

          • Corey says:

            Recently, it came to light that one of her IT employees, Paul Combetta, who goes by the online username ‘stonetear’ posted to reddit asking for help in deleting a particular email address from an email archive, and added that it was for a ‘very VIP person’. It seems clear that the intent was to strip out Clinton’s email address from the archive, so that she could claim that she ‘hadn’t seen’ the classified materials.

            How does that make sense? All of the email was for her! It makes more sense that it was a personal correspondent’s email address.

          • Anonymous says:

            I think some of you guys in the national security world don’t quite realize how far your stock has fallen. We don’t believe you when you say that keeping all these things secret is important. Too much has come out that looks like it never should have been classified in the first place.

            Sure you can say it is still illegal, but so is smoking pot and plenty of us have done that. We aren’t convinced there’s any malum prohibitum there.

            On Benghazi where there’s dead bodies and so that’s not an issue, you haven’t linked Clinton into being responsible. It always goes off into something about how she claimed for about two minutes that it was because some guy burned a Koran in Florida. No one cares about this supposed cover up. You want to make it stick you need Clinton responsible for the deaths.

          • herbert herbertson says:

            @Anonymous

            Well put. When Bernie gave his “sick of the e-mails” line, it wasn’t just an expression of partisan solidarity, it was a yelp of common Blue Tribe sense. We support Manning and (more or less) Snowden, we regard the manipulation of confidentiality as a significant cause of what we see as the worst foreign policy disaster of the 21st century, and we generally are skeptical of the military establishment and culture. I like rule of law as much as the next guy, but I don’t really give a shit about the particularities of confidentiality law.

          • Anonymous says:

            I think some of you guys in the national security world don’t quite realize how far your stock has fallen. We don’t believe you when you say that keeping all these things secret is important. Too much has come out that looks like it never should have been classified in the first place.

            Funny. Most of the nat sec people I know are very candid about the problem of overclassification. Of course, that’s usually like a single level. Lots of things are marked secret that probably don’t need to be secret. Many things that are top secret could easily slide down a level. There’s also always a time-domain component. Things come out, and some events become public knowledge while they’re still classified.

            That being said, you’re making a common error – massively overcorrecting to imagine that nothing is worth being classified. The fact that this is folly is trivial. Another fact is that Clinton’s email turned up SAP stuff – classified from birth, will not be released even given the current public interest, and almost certainly not classified for no reason. I’ve said elsewhere on this page that I’m on Team No Indictment, that a prosecution would have been a 50/50 endeavor, and that the FBI’s report was as much or more a condemnation on general State Department security practices (“sure it’s classified, but you can’t do business like that”; “we talk around it”), but your position just isn’t plausible for any serious people.

          • Anonymous says:

            a yelp of common Blue Tribe sense. We support Manning and (more or less) Snowden

            There is a plausible case for commuting Manning’s sentence, which was likely excessive. There is not at all for Snowden, and to quote the Anonymous above, you have no idea how far the stock of common Blue Tribe sense will fall if you insist on it.

            we regard the manipulation of confidentiality as a significant cause of what we see as the worst foreign policy disaster of the 21st century

            This is just utterly implausible in a causal sense.

            I like rule of law as much as the next guy, but I don’t really give a shit about the particularities of confidentiality law.

            Unless you’re one of us legal nerds (join usssss….), you probably don’t really give a shit about the particularities of any law… unless it can be used to gore the other guy’s ox. (I trust that if you think for even a minute, you’ll be able to come up with some random area of law that you realize you know wayyy too much about, because you just had to have a great argument against Bad Guy X.)

          • gbdub says:

            @Corey
            “How does that make sense? All of the email was for her! It makes more sense that it was a personal correspondent’s email address.”
            Was Clinton the only “to” address on the server? I thought @clintonmail.com contained multiple addresses.

            In any case, stripping her address from certain emails could e.g. make it appear as if she had not forwarded or sent the emails. Either way though, you have to think that looks bad?

            As far as “well, that shouldn’t be classified anyway”, I’ll endorse what Anonymous said. That there is some overclassification is undeniable – that nothing should be classified is folly. Clinton certainly had access to the latter type of information, and apparently the FBI believes at least some of the server information was too sensitive to release in any form.

            I’ll actually quibble with Anonymous a bit that overclassification is the major issue – there’s actually a strong motivation to not classify when you can get away with it, because it’s expensive and annoying to handle classified information properly. Heck, the criticism Anon makes of the State Department proves this – “talking around” issues is all to common, because the convenience motivation is a strong one.

            Also classification is really complicated. What seems harmless to you could be a crucial detail when aggregated with other information. Sometimes the information itself seems harmless, but the fact that we know it might reveal how we got it, which would expose intelligence gathering operations. So no, you’re not the best judge of whether it should or shouldn’t be.

            Note that you may agree with Snowden’s leak, but it is still official US policy that he is a criminal, and that he would be prosecuted were he to return to the US. And I agree that MJ ought to be legal – but given that it’s not, I’d have a huge problem if say Joe Biden was selling weed and wasn’t prosecuted.

            At the end of the day, Clinton was a high ranking US official whose job description includes protecting sensitive information and implementing US law and policy. She failed at this badly, and is now asking the people for a promotion. “I only follow the rules I like” is not an attitude I want in an elected leader (and obviously that applies to Trump as well, and is part of why I dislike him).

          • Anonymous says:

            I think you are missing the point other anonymous. We just don’t believe you. Sure we know that there’s some things that need to be classified, but top secret doesn’t impress us, SAP doesn’t impress us, darkly hinting about being able to piece together sources doesn’t impress us.

            You guys are now like the DMV or post office. When you say I can’t mail a package over 2.3 ounces to a state that starts with the letter I unless I fill out form 34-bq, well I believe that’s an official post office rule. But that holds very little weight with me.

          • herbert herbertson says:

            Unless you’re one of us legal nerds (join usssss….), you probably don’t really give a shit about the particularities of any law… unless it can be used to gore the other guy’s ox. (I trust that if you think for even a minute, you’ll be able to come up with some random area of law that you realize you know wayyy too much about, because you just had to have a great argument against Bad Guy X.)

            I am definitely a legal nerd. But I’m not talking about an absence of nerdery so a lack of concern with the function of the laws in question. The efficiency and security of the American intelligence system is simply not the priority for me that it is for you (or the people I know IRL who are involved in it professionally).

          • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

            One common view in this subthread seems to be that classified information frequently doesn’t need to be. I think gbdub covered that well; I’m not going to recap it.

            One of the major, glaring things that jumps out at me is that while under investigation, a major presidential candidate had one of her people destroy federal data, then lie about it. It’s interesting that Snowden was brought up; I think that Clinton is the clearest recent case of a major politician trying to game the system to hide information from the public. This is the opposite of the transparency I’d like to see in our government; it’s an individual politician ignoring what policy we already have in place to provide transparency, and deleting the information when called on it.

          • Anonymous says:

            @gbdub

            there’s actually a strong motivation to not classify when you can get away with it, because it’s expensive and annoying to handle classified information properly

            I agree that this is a countering force… but I think that pendulum is still on the side of overclassification at the moment.

            @Anonymous

            Sure we know that there’s some things that need to be classified…

            …You guys are now like the DMV or post office. When you say I can’t mail a package over 2.3 ounces to a state that starts with the letter I unless I fill out form 34-bq, well I believe that’s an official post office rule. But that holds very little weight with me.

            You probably shouldn’t contradict yourself so immediately. When you come up with a coherent position on classification, come back to the table.

            @herbert

            The efficiency and security of the American intelligence system is simply not the priority for me that it is for you

            The question is how much daylight is between “not the priority” and “don’t really give a shit” and how much of that is personal preference. For example (staying in the legal regime), I can’t stand habeus law. It’s complicated; it’s boring; I think a good number of the cases are pointless. Nevertheless, I know that it’s an important thing to have, and we should have people invested in making it good.

            Similarly, I can understand someone saying, “I understand that intelligence is necessary, and that comes with some classification and classification law. I hope people are invested in making that work. Nevertheless, I don’t want to think about it.” And in that vein, I think it’s totally plausible to not penalize Hillary too much for this. As I had said, the State Department as a whole is pretty guilty of violating security norms.

            That being said, we’d be opening the door pretty wide to the Trump supporter who is a little bit isolationist to say that they just don’t care all that much about hoity-toity “norms of foreign relations” and accompanying hysterics concerning “temperament”.

          • Anonymous says:

            I’m not contradicting myself. We should have a working national security apparatus. Unfortunately we don’t. If we did then their rules would hold weight with me. Since we don’t, they don’t.

            Again, we simply don’t trust you guys.

            Put it this way, even if I agree in the abstract that some people need to be bombed, that fact doesn’t change at all that when they pick targets I’m not updating at all in the direction that those people needed to be bombed.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            “It’s laudable to want to hold top-level government officials to account, but there are lots better cases to *start* this string of prosecutions with than a current front-running Presidential candidate.”

            Compare, please:

            “It’s laudable to want to hold top-level financiers to account, but there are lots better cases to *start* this string of prosecutions with than a CEO of one of the world’s largest banks.”

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            I no longer remember where I read it, but someone told a story about how his father was asked about Snowden, and opined that if he were left in a room with him for ten minutes, he’d strangle the $@#~!%.

            Something about the father’s tone gave the son the impression that the father personally knew someone innocent who’d been “disappeared” as a direct result of something Snowden had leaked.

            I’ve heard variations on this theme before. They are entirely plausible, given the way espionage works. The irony is that intelligence specialists can’t talk about it; if they did, it would confirm even more information, leading to even more people getting hurt.

            Imagine these specialists living with this every day. If their lifestyle is anything like Snowden’s was, they’re not Bond-style agents, traveling the world, getting a girl to make up for the one the villain shot. They’re sitting in cubicles, trying to make sense of stuff, maybe with help from someone in another country, trying to catch or at least keep an eye on very bad people who WILL kill them if they found out. Every day. Year after year. They’ll never be done; they’ll only retire, if they’re lucky. And if they foil the worst terrorist plot the world would ever have seen, no one will know, unless they’re willing to give up how they found it, and let the next terrorist plan around them.

            If intelligence specialist stock is dropping, then I’m compelled to wonder if the nation is shorting it out of ignorance.

          • Anonymous says:

            We should have a working national security apparatus. Unfortunately we don’t.

            On what basis are you making that determination?

          • Jill says:

            Yeah, everybody who hates Snowden has untraceable suspicions that maybe, just maybe, Snowden’s info got someone killed. But it’s equally likely that maybe, just maybe, corrupt government officials who want to snoop on every Americans in order to support a move toward more and more authoritarianism in government– Dick Cheney types– are angry because someone exposed things the government was lying about.

            How could anyone know the difference if the supposed evidence– that may not exist at all– has to be kept secret? If he did get someone killed, maybe they really can’t say who. But if they are Dick Cheney types who want us to get into expensive bloody wars like Iraq just to enrich the military industrial complex, they will lie easily and often about the effects of Snowden’s revelations– just to make sure Snowden is looked down upon and to keep anyone else from exposing their evil schemes in the future.

          • Anonymous says:

            If intelligence specialist stock is dropping, then I’m compelled to wonder if the nation is shorting it out of ignorance.

            Jill chimed in right on cue with a good subset of the ignorance-producing propaganda, so this seems like a pretty good prediction.

          • herbert herbertson says:

            That being said, we’d be opening the door pretty wide to the Trump supporter who is a little bit isolationist to say that they just don’t care all that much about hoity-toity “norms of foreign relations” and accompanying hysterics concerning “temperament”.

            That door is not only open, but shows the evidence of a very large group of horses having already ran through it.

            And that’s fine, or at least I’m going to call it fine, because I recognize what a pointless, sisyphean task it would to convince them to find all those point-headed foreign service types anything besides a little bit self important and a little bit pointless. I know this, because I feel exactly the same way about all of the overly-loud and overly-proud Colonel Jessups of the world.

          • Anonymous says:

            I recognize what a pointless, sisyphean task it would to convince them

            I was driving more at personal consistency… but just acknowledging that you should give up is probably alright.

            find all those point-headed foreign service types anything besides a little bit self important and a little bit pointless. I know this, because I feel exactly the same way about all of the overly-loud and overly-proud Colonel Jessups of the world.

            The important thing is that you’re able to feel smugly superior to people you don’t know.

        • Jill says:

          Anonymous, you stated “Jill chimed in right on cue with a good subset of the ignorance-producing propaganda, so this seems like a pretty good prediction.”

          Good use of Mockem’s Razor, Anonymous. There is exactly as much evidence for what I stated is possible (I did not even state that I believed it, or that it is true, which certainly ought to be necessary for an accusation that it is “propaganda” as there is for the original theory under discussion– the theory that Snowden got someone killed.

          But you call me stupid, and have not insults for the people who suggested the original– and widely believed– Right Wing theory. Great application of Mockem’s Razor by you. You never miss an opportunity to call a member of the Out Group stupid, do you? Even thought the Out Group person’s theory has no less evidence than your Right Wing In Group’s theory.

          You just have to bash liberals constantly, don’t you, Anonymous? No wonder you are Anonymous. Of course, no one would want anyone to find out that they were personally as obnoxious as you are here.

          • Anonymous says:

            Not even close. You’re not even wrong, and your original comment isn’t even worth responding to.

            Let’s put it this way – if your going theory is that since we have no declassified evidence that Snowden’s revelations killed anyone… we can just state any bloody thing, because, hey, that has just as much evidence, then we’re gonna have a fun time.

            Hey everybody! Did you know that there is just as much evidence that Aaron Rodgers is a lizard person as we do that [copy/paste Jill ranting about Dick Cheney]! Just as much! Just as much!

            You’re not even wrong. You haven’t read a single statute governing intelligence. You haven’t read a single public oversight document about the programs. You haven’t read a single piece of hard information concerning any of these things. And yes, greater rationalist community, I am willing to bet cash money at 10:1 odds (but only $100, because I’m poor) that these things are true, because you haven’t demonstrated a single iota of knowledge beyond the absolute trashiest of propaganda.

            Note: A response about how we don’t have declassified evidence that Snowden’s revelations killed anyone does you absolutely no good. I agree 100% on that point. It’s the rest of your inanity that I vehemently object to.

          • Jill says:

            So your argument is that your no-evidence statement of possibility is better than my no-evidence statement of possibility. Well, I think the reverse.

            And I can claim to have read hundreds of pages of documents about this, as easily as you can claim it.

            And since you admit that there is not a single piece of hard evidence for your positions, then what gives you the right to rant to me about how I “haven’t read a single piece of hard information concerning any of these things.” I haven’t read the non-existent hard information about this? And neither has anyone, of course.

            So I will let you have the last word, as usual, because I have complete confidence in your ability to manufacture reasons to call someone stupid when you disagree with them. I guess insulting others makes you feel superior. So go right ahead with your game.

          • Anonymous says:

            your argument is that your no-evidence statement of possibility is better than my no-evidence statement of possibility.

            No. I think that we shouldn’t believe either are true. Nevertheless, one is actually within the realm of possibility in the real world. The other is a crazed rant with the same rhetorical content as, “DAE remember when Jon Stewart called Dick Cheney Darth Vader?!”

            I can claim to have read hundreds of pages of documents about this, as easily as you can claim it.

            Awesome! Test time! What criteria does NSA have to satisfy before targeting an individual under Section 702 authority? What is the legal standard of evidence for each criterion?

            Let’s make sure we’re both living in the same universe, so that we can determine whether any future discussion on the matter is even possible.

          • TheWorst says:

            Either Snowden got someone killed and the people who know about it, and hate Snowden, and seem to have fairly minimal regard for the law somehow never brought it up, or Cheney-types just don’t like having their immoral actions brought to light.

            We know the second possibility is true. The first seems at least moderately unlikely, and probably extremely unlikely (if Snowden had gotten someone killed, it seems extremely likely that we’d hear his/her name multiple times per day). People who look at this and decide that the first one must be true are not thinking.

            They could both be true, but the second possibility–being obviously true–is far, far more likely, given that one of these is trivially true and the other both sounds highly implausible and has no evidence supporting it whatsoever.

            “No evidence+sounds implausible” isn’t a good proxy for truth. “Is in fact true, and has become common knowledge” is a pretty good one.

          • Anonymous says:

            if Snowden had gotten someone killed, it seems extremely likely that we’d hear his/her name multiple times per day

            This is false, so most of the rest of your inferences are false. Your musing on “We know the second possibility is true” just further demonstrates how mired in the propaganda you are.

            Same question to you to determine whether you’re even living in the same universe as the rest of us: What criteria does NSA have to satisfy before targeting an individual under Section 702 authority? What is the legal standard of evidence for each criterion?

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            I agree that the second possibility isn’t necessarily true (or is vacuously true, depending on whether Cheney’s known actions agree with one’s morals), but explaining it away as propaganda isn’t helpful any more than when Jill does it.

            The claim that if a spy got someone killed, we’d hear about it is definitely not necessarily true, and likely false. Consider what I said earlier: “if they foil the worst terrorist plot the world would ever have seen, no one will know, unless they’re willing to give up how they found it”. Same goes for how they’d prove someone was killed. Prosecuting this act could very easily increase the casualty count, so their choices are then to do it anyway and take a high risk of hurting more people, or keep mum and take a much lower risk that someone will try to do it again.

            The only way I can see for us to have a definitive picture of what’s really going on there would be to all become senior intelligence executives.

      • malpollyon says:

        If those are the *clearest* cases I have to say the allegations seem extremely weak. For example – The Trump Foundation was caught red-handed breaking the law in multiple serious ways, the Clinton Foundation looks like it *might* have been involved in something shady, but no one can point to *exactly* what.

        • Chalid says:

          I find the media coverage of the Clinton foundation vs that of the Trump foundation to be decent evidence against the idea that the media is systematically pro-Clinton in this election.

          • Orphan Wilde says:

            Eh. I think the media is caught in a bind.

            Professionally, they’d prefer a Trump presidency. Personally, they’d prefer a Clinton presidency.

            So they waffle a lot. I think the overall strategy is “Try to sink Clinton while appearing to support her”.

          • Civilis says:

            What media coverage of the Clinton foundation?

            From the right, it looks like the media has been going over Trump’s foundation with a fine tooth comb looking for things to find. The media has long spent a lot more time and manpower scrutinizing candidates on the right than they do for the left.

            In 2012, the media drug out the story of Romney’s dog spending a trip in a car carrier on top of the car, and trotted it out as a ‘he hates dogs, therefore he’s evil’. Eventually someone pointed out the story in Obama’s autobiography about him eating dog meat, and the car carrier story died out. Why did no one catch this in the 2008 election? Because in 2008 all the reporters had gone to Wasilia, Alaska, to dig up dirt on Palin.

            Rumors about McCain having an affair became an October surprise in 2008. It turns out they were poorly sourced and had to be retracted. Meanwhile, 2004 Democratic VP candidate John Edwards cheated on his wife, who was dying of cancer, the media had the rumors, and it wasn’t until the National Enquirer broke the story that any of it was reported.

          • Chalid says:

            @Orphan Wilde

            There’s also the professional incentive to have a close election.

            @Civilis

            You think there’s been no coverage of the Clinton foundation? How did you think to check? Like, searching the NYT for “Clinton Foundation” brings up a whole bunch of stories, many of which can be summarized as looking at how some donor asked for a special favors, Clinton or her aides refused or blew them off, and this *raises troubling questions* and *casts a shadow on her campaign* and all the other weasel phrases that reporters use when they want to take someone down but didn’t actually find anything incriminating.

            I don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to relitigate past elections but I assure you that lefties point to examples of press unfairness to their favored candidates too.

      • roystgnr says:

        When I looked into Clinton Foundation expenditure claims, they seemed to be a simple misinterpretation: The Foundation passes on an astonishingly small amount of its incoming contributions as charitable grants, but that doesn’t prove they’re wasting money on overhead, because they’re also hiring and paying charitable workers directly. This doesn’t completely rule out the “piggy bank” hypothesis, but it explains all the “evidence” I’ve seen for that hypothesis.

        I’m fairly baffled as to why the cattle futures speculation doesn’t get discussed more.

        If you think Hillary Clinton is smart enough to make a 10,000% profit in a year of trading the market, then you ought to be screaming her genius from the rooftops (and demanding that James Blair get a cabinet post?). If you think the only possible explanation is money laundering via frontrunning or fraudulent trade reassignments, then you should be trying to make sure all the voters know that she’s been taking bribes longer than many of them have been alive. Is the whole issue just murky enough that both Clinton’s defenders and her detractors would love to bring it up but both are worried about it backfiring?

      • Deiseach says:

        It seems reasonably clear that the private server existed to shield what went through it from Freedom of Information Act claims.

        I’m not at all sure what to think about the emails. What you say there worries me, because if that means Mrs Clinton, in her position as Secretary of State, was making decisions and setting policy based on “This is what I am going to do because this is what my view of the matter is and to hell with the begrudgers, and to hell with openness, transparency and accountability, so we’ll set up a private channel of communications in order that no nosey parkers can tell us ‘whoa Nelly, stop right there, that’s not your call to make'”, then this is not at all reassuring to contemplate what she will be like when she’s not answerable to her boss, the President but is the boss herself.

        Even if, as Patjab says, it’s more incompetence and excessive defensiveness, do you want proven incompetence and relying on being too well-connected to be hauled over the coals for it in your next president? When one of the selling points for her is “she’s been in government before, we know what she’s like in the job”?

        Trump has no track record in government, we’ve been told, and that is very true. But if this is Hillary’s track record, is it any better a choice between “unknown how incompetent he’ll be” and “we know she’ll be incompetent, just not how much or in what area”?

        The alternatives (Hillary or Trump) are so poor this time round, I really wish you lot had a decent third party that could put up candidates that would mount a real challenge. At this stage, Jill Stein is looking like “least worst possible president” and I’m not exactly brimming over with confidence about that, either.

        • Iain says:

          As I’ve said elsewhere in the comments: the initial reason for Clinton’s private email server was that she wanted to keep using her Blackberry, but the NSA wouldn’t set it up for her. (Condoleezza Rice had previously received Blackberry waivers for herself and her staff, but there were getting to be too many waivers and the NSA decided to phase them out.) The choice was between giving up her Blackberry entirely, or doing an end-run around the NSA bureaucracy. I’m certainly not saying it was a good decision, but it’s an understandable one, and not obviously nefarious.

          It’s also not nearly as unprecedented as you might think based on the tenor of this comments section. Colin Powell did effectively the same thing (albeit with an AOL account, not a private server), and gave Hillary advice on how he did it. As far as I can tell, more of Clinton’s emails have been made available under FOIA than Powell’s (although if somebody has a source that shows otherwise, I would gladly accept a correction on that point). Again: this doesn’t necessarily show good judgment on Hillary’s part, but it also doesn’t really set her apart as a hardened criminal mastermind.

          • gbdub says:

            Powell, at least, denies that he gave her advice before she did it, and in any case also used his “official” account. Plus, 2001 is not 2009 in IT world. Hillary apparently used her private server almost exclusively (and ultimately had multiple devices on it).

            As for “more of hers have been made available” – is that before, or after the investigation started? Also, again, the internet (and gov’t policies associated with using it) changed a wee bit between Powell (who entered office in 2001) and Clinton (who did in 2009).

            As far as I’m aware there was never any indication of classified email on Powell’s personal account.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Both Powell and several of Condoleezza Rice’s aides sent personal emails containing information which was subsequently classified.

          • Iain says:

            @gbdub: If you follow my link, it has an actual copy of Powell’s email where he gives Clinton advice, dated Jan 23, 2009. The link also gives a brief timeline of attempts to recover Powell’s emails from his time as Secretary of State. From that summary, it does not sound like any of the emails from Powell’s private email account have been recovered. I don’t understand why the four years between 2005 (when Powell left office) and 2009 (when Clinton entered office) make such a big difference that Clinton’s emails are a major scandal and Powell’s emails are barely discussed.

            The cover-ups from the Clinton camp seem more concerning to me than anything about the initial email setup. And given the somewhat overblown attacks that have resulted, you can almost see why she tried to keep it under wraps. (Again: not saying Clinton made good decisions about her email practices; just saying that her decisions were bad in an understandable way.)

          • cassander says:

            > I don’t understand why the four years between 2005 (when Powell left office) and 2009 (when Clinton entered office) make such a big difference that Clinton’s emails are a major scandal and Powell’s emails are barely discussed.

            Powell had permission from the state department to use his email account. Clinton did not. Powell did not cover up his account, clinton did. Powell did not have his entire senior staff use his personal email exclusively, Clinton did. When powell had his account, the rules permitted him to have it, they did not when clinton had hers. Powell has never lied to the FBI about the content of his emails, never destroyed emails rather than turn them over to the FBI, and was never accused, much less proven, to have top secret information in them.

            >(Again: not saying Clinton made good decisions about her email practices; just saying that her decisions were bad in an understandable way.)

            this is manifestly not true. What she did was massively illegal. And then she lied about it. ANd then she obstructed justice to cover her ass.

      • Corey says:

        It is argued that using an insecure private server risked classified information getting out.

        state.gov is the same way, you’re not supposed to discuss classified stuff over ordinary email, whether Federally-provided or not. There are separate systems for that.

        People here with experience of the treatment of classified data argue that the same level of carelessness by an ordinary government employee would have led to severe sanctions, possibly including prison.

        Wake me up when a C-level executive gets fired from a private firm for violating IT acceptable-use policies. (I’m not saying AUPs are equivalent to espionage law, just that it’s odd for a libertarian/ancap to argue *against* “rules are for the little people”).

        • gbdub says:

          I’m not saying AUPs are equivalent to espionage law

          It kind of seems like you are? You’re certainly using the analogy to try to minimize the severity of the issue.

          You don’t think a CEO who let their competitor access a bunch of competition sensitive data would face serious censure from their board?

          it’s odd for a libertarian/ancap to argue *against* “rules are for the little people”).

          I’m certainly no ancap, and how is this anything other than a smear? Libertarians are not usually in favor of cronyism.

          • Corey says:

            You don’t think a CEO who let their competitor access a bunch of competition sensitive data would face serious censure from their board?

            Clinton’s case would analogize better to an Apple email mentioning the iPhone 7 release date, in August 2016. Some of them were links to NYT articles, for example.

            (Not that Steve Jobs wouldn’t fire people for that…)

          • hlynkacg says:

            The FBI’s investigation report paints a very different picture.

    • Matt says:

      There are only a couple of reasons to set up a hidden email server, and they aren’t good ones. They’ll never find evidence enough to convict, or even charge her with anything, but the sheer existence of the thing is evidence enough not to elect.

    • sourcreamus says:

      A couple of other scandals.
      Whitewater. This involved Bill Clinton allegedly pressuring a bank president to illegally loan $300,000 to Clinton’s business partners in order to keep their real estate company afloat. After the investigation fifteen people including the governor of Arkansas were convicted of crimes from bribery to fraud. Ken Starr’s investigation found credible evidence that Clinton had lied to investigators but they both escaped indictment. Clinton ended up pardoning several of the convicted including one of his business partners who had gone to jail rather than testify about Clinton. During the investigation several boxes of billing records went missing and could not be found by the investigators. These files were later found in the living quarters of the White House.
      TravelGate. When the Clintons first moved into the White House Hillary ordered the civil servants who handled the white house travel fired and replaced with Clinton associates. There was a memo from Vince Foster to the White House chief of staff saying that Hillary wanted this done, even though it was illegal. The trumped up charges that served as a pretext for the firings were ultimately found baseless. The investigation found that Hillary had caused the firings but was not criminally indicted because there was not enough evidence that she knew that it was illegal.

  51. Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

    David Friedman said (above) “The most obvious symptom of anger is a riot.”

    This analysis-lite is so unwoke.

    The most obvious symptom of anger is murder.

    Don’t schools teach Eudora Welty (NSFW text here) anymore?

    The marked cognitive susceptibility of angry Cluster B rationalists to hateful ideation is a discomfiting lesson of WWII, GWOT, and the Trumpocalypse, isn’t that all-too-evident even here on SSC?

    • anon says:

      I don’t know where you work (although I have a guess) but it’s weird to characterize a short story with no explicit illustrations as NSFW simply because it contains a taboo word. Setting aside all political questions, I hope we can all agree that the NSFW warning exists for the actual reason of preventing people from being fired for accidentally clicking on a link at an inopportune moment. If we ever get to the point where eagle-eyed HR reps are constantly monitoring all employees’ screens ready to fire them in case they are reading Welty, Twain, or Jay-Z at work, I’d say the SJ-pocalype is upon us.

      • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

        The danger of Welty’s text comes chiefly from those folks who read it as a how-to manual. And nowadays, all around the world, there is no shortage of those folks.

    • Gazeboist says:

      The most obvious symptom of anger is hate, followed by suffering.

  52. Seth says:

    “An open letter to Volokh Conspiracy readers who are Trump supporters” – “David Post”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2016/09/29/an-open-letter-to-volokh-conspiracy-readers-who-are-trump-supporters/

    “So my question is: Which part of that formulation do you disagree with? That he’s dangerously unstable? Or that it matters, as a dispositive criterion for choosing a president?”

    Note, for people unfamiliar, the Volokh Conspiracy is not exactly left-wing.

  53. Bugmaster says:

    Am I the only one who finds the policy of “just hang on until AI solves all our problems” to be (ironically) incredibly short-sighted ? It’s no different from saying “just hang on until the Rapture comes and Jesus takes us all to Heaven”. Sure, that might happen some day; but then again, it might not. Until then, it would be more prudent to keep advancing humanity as a whole, rather than sticking our heads in the sand and turtling up.

    We can accomplish quite a lot, even in the absence of any kind of a divine intervention (be it dispensed by Jesus, Allah, or Omega). We have already done so. Why stop now ?

  54. Bugmaster says:

    Ok, so which is it ? If Trump gets elected, is he going to get everything he wants and plunge the world into a new Dark Age ? Or, alternatively, is he going to fail and thus push the world into a new SJW Age ? It can’t be both.

    Generally speaking, I think you are vastly overestimating the power that either of the candidates has. The worst one of them could do is plunge us into yet another war; but even that would not be as bad as Iraq — because we have been effectively fighting the same war ever since the Bush era, and there’s simply not a lot more of “plunging” left to do.

    Besides that, there’s not really a lot that either candidate will be able to accomplish.

    Sure, Trump says a lot of extreme things; but all of them are either so vague as to be meaningless (“we will keep winning !”), or beyound the President’s power to achieve (“build the wall and let Mexico pay for it !”). Realistically, if Trump gets elected, he’ll spend most of the time fighting with the Republican establishment who hates his guts, and making vague statement about America, greatness, and apple pie.

    Sure, Hillary is completely in the pocket of the corporate elite; but in this, she’s no different from any other major politician. Her proposals may be less extreme than Trump’s, but she will have to fight even harder than Trump to achieve any of them (seeing as the entire Congress will be opposed to her just on principle). Barring a war, at worst she will continue the current administration’s policies of trading off individual freedom for security and increased trade — same thing that every President has done for the last 100 years.

    Whoever wins, the next administration is not going to be Mad Max; nor is it going to be Shadowrun. It’s just going to be more of the same — and that’s the real tragedy, because, given our current situation, “more of the same” means “spiraling further and further into inexorable decline”.

  55. anon says:

    Scott, I have some concerns about your post that I hope you’ll take into account – the better to persuade others – but enough of it is sound that I can’t fault your general argument. I’ll at least look into vote trading.

    most immigrants are Asian and come from countries with pretty good institutions themselves.

    I’d really appreciate a citation on this point (one which clearly includes illegals). If you had a credible one, it would set my mind more at ease. My understanding is that something like half are Hispanic, and something like half of those are Mexican. And the Mexicans are of particular concern since they’re the biggest source of illegals, whose employment undercuts the minimum wage.

    If you believe that immigrants can import the less-effective institutions of their home countries, lower the intelligence of the national hive mind,

    Given your paragraph on what Borderers’ descendants do to us, you already believe something like this, I assume…?

    how exactly are we visualizing a world where immigrants damage American institutions? I envision it as America becoming more like Third World countries – constant ethnic tension, government by strongmen, rampant corruption, lack of respect for checks and balances, and overregulation of industry. But Trump is promising us all of that already, without even admitting any immigrants!

    Well, if I recall the debate right, he promises deregulation AFAIK. This isn’t a point in his favor for me, but I think it’s important to represent the opposition’s promises accurately. So partial credit on this line, I guess.

    Leftism has never been about controlling the government, and really the government is one of the areas it controls least effectively

    I… could maybe see the latter, though I certainly wouldn’t bet anything I cared about on it. But the former? Have I missed something? Surely you can’t just assert this out of nowhere and expect everyone to agree. If you’ve already written the multi-part essay supporting this one, please at least link it and summarize the key points.

    Trump’s not in that crowd. But does anyone think he disagrees with it?

    I uh… sorry, speaking as someone firmly in favor of due process and scared of angry crowds, I don’t disagree with it either. If she isn’t locked up, it should only be because she’s out on bond. I no longer believe there’s nothing to reasonably charge her with, and I would like her to have a fair and speedy trial at this point.

  56. hlynkacg says:

    So I’m obviously late to the party, and reading your post and the replies to it I can’t help but feel a sense of vicarious consternation. That or I’m simply projecting my own sense of consternation abut this election onto you.

    I think that you’ve laid out an excellent case against trump, for the most part I agree with it. More specifically I agree that his style of anti-intellectual populism is cemented as Official New Republican Ideology is the nightmare scenario and it is one of the reasons that I find myself reluctant to hop on the Trump bandwagon.

    That said, I think you are seriously underestimating just how bad of a candidate, and how dangerous Clinton is. Others have already made this argument better than I could I will attempt to reiterate. Equality under the law / rule of law is one of the most important element of a free society. I’m with Civilis on this one, you can only select “defect” so many times in the game of civilization before your partners stop “cooperating”.

    As it stands I’m waffling between “Trump” and “Abstain”, for what it’s worth your post did give me a good push in the direction of “Abstain”.

  57. 27chaos says:

    I am far from a Trump supporter, but I notice that you don’t spend any time in this post talking about the possible issue of Hillary Clinton being corrupt, yet you criticize the right for shouting at a rally “Lock Her Up”. But surely the necessary prior question is whether or not she did deserve to be locked up? I don’t think it’s objectionable for crowds to demand that someone be locked up if that someone did do something illegal. I wish you’d discussed this issue.

    Personally, I was shocked that the decision for no indictment occurred. You are correct that Trump doesn’t promote epistemic virtue. But Hillary and her supporters also lack it. You might have a different opinion on the email scandal, or the other scandals, which is of course fine, but they should be addressed.

    My own position is that corruption is a lesser evil in the case of this election. But I still think it’s important to acknowledge that corruption is bad and will occur. Ironically enough, I think this because I value epistemic virtue so highly.

    • hlynkacg says:

      Personally, I was shocked that the decision for no indictment occurred.

      I wasn’t shocked at all, but then I was cynical enough to suspect that Bill’s “Unscheduled” pow-wow with the AG was probably set up to arrange exactly that.

    • Jordan D. says:

      I recall, in the weeks and months leading up to the FBI’s announcement, that virtually all of the legal experts consulted by various reporters and papers on the matter agreed that there was almost no chance of an indictment. Granted, there were a few commentators who disagreed- most notably Napolitano- but they were pretty soundly outnumbered. So what led to that surprise?

      • Fahundo says:

        So what led to that surprise?

        In my case, it was because I was expecting the FBI not to find any classified material, or at least none that was marked classified. Seeing Comey mention that they had at the beginning of his report made me certain he would recommend indictment.

      • 27chaos says:

        Gross negligence seemed pretty obvious. I still think the attempted distinction between that and extreme carelessness is bunk. I didn’t think about it in political terms or in terms of the incentives faced by the FBI, and should have.

    • Corey says:

      It’s not possible to have epistemic virtue on this issue. Everyone chanting “lock her up” believes in a set of facts, whether backed by evidence in extant reality or not, that she’s so obviously corrupt that no argument is necessary. Everyone else, in response to decades of that, just rolls their eyes at any suggestion of Clinton wrongdoing and mocks the accuser (“A Clinton Foundation donor emailed Huma Abedin asking for a diplomatic passport, and she told him no? Obviously Hillary should be imprisoned!”). The well is too thoroughly poisoned for anyone to do real research.

      • Orphan Wilde says:

        My position: She probably committed crimes that would ordinarily have resulted in a prison sentence, but pursuing a conviction would have caused more problems than it solved, so the FBI instead initially tried to convince the Democratic party to unite behind Sanders instead by hinting for several months, then, when they still united behind Clinton, have instead started slowly leaking information to try to sink her in the polls without obviously being responsible.

        Attempting a prosecution of a presidential candidate would likely have resulted in, if not a civil war, something very close. They chose the political option instead.

      • 27chaos says:

        I agree there are some nutty anti-Hillary arguments. I felt the following was pretty open and shut, however: http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/265367-clinton-defends-telling-aid-to-send-data-through-nonsecure-channel. At the very least it would warrant a trial, though maybe not a conviction. To me, recommending no indictment seems like saying that there is no arguable evidence she did something illegal. I think that position is unreasonable. I don’t think anyone reasonable can deny her actions were highly ambiguous at best.

        Even if you believe her explanation for that email, though potential prosecutors probably shouldn’t take accused people’s claims at face value, technically public domain information that has been marked classified needs to be treated as classified despite that it can be found elsewhere. Our classification rules are bad, but people have been punished for violating those bad rules in the past. I strongly dislike that lack of consistency, it goes against everything rule of law is supposed to mean.

        Also, I think there is an extremely strong argument that destruction of evidence by wiping the servers should qualify as spoliation.

        I support her over Trump, and also over Johnson and Stein, and would support her over any other candidates of this year except possibly Kasich and O’Malley, if you would consider that evidence against me being mind killed.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I think you didn’t link to the story you meant to.

          I am aware of two different cases, the one you linked to in which Clinton asks for something to be turned into non-paper, and another one, where Clinton asks for the contents of a public speech made by a foreign official.

          It seems like you actually mean the latter.

          If the text of a public speech can be made classified for no reason other than merely the fact of who made it, that would set a dangerous precedent allowing government censorship of information. There might be some cases where the content of the speech was already classified, imagine a foreign official reciting our nuclear launch codes (or something less bizarre and unlikely) which could be classified, but generally public speeches should not be classifiable.

          • 27chaos says:

            I meant the first, the nonpaper incident. As described in that link, Clinton’s defense was that the particular information she asked to be sent was classified but should not have been. Unless you can think of a different way to interpret the response she is quoted as giving? It’s really a vague non answer, but I think I am correctly describing the implication she intended to give.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @27chaos:

            …oftentimes there is a lot of information that isn’t at all classified, … so whatever information can be appropriately transmitted unclassified often was. That’s true for every agency in the government and everybody that does business with the government.

            I’m not sure why you are reading this as Clinton saying the overall document should not have been classified. Her claim is merely that the document contained both classified and unclassified information. That’s almost certainly true.

  58. Irenist says:

    Some people like high variance. I don’t. The world has seen history’s greatest alleviation of poverty over the past few decades, and this shows every sign of continuing as long as we don’t do something incredibly stupid that blows up the current world order. I’m less sanguine about the state of America in particular but I think that its generally First World problems probably can’t be solved by politics. They will probably require either genetic engineering or artificial intelligence; the job of our generation is keep the world functional enough to do the research that will create those technologies, and to alleviate as much suffering as we can in the meantime.

    Isn’t artificial intelligence WAY more high-variance than Trump? Like, after reading those “AI Persuasion” essays the other day, I (not seriously, but kinda) wonder if human civilization getting nuked back to the Stone Age might not be a way safer option than keeping the world functional enough to do the research that will potentially create a paperclip maximizer? I’m not going to vote for Trump (or anyone else), but this argument just seems to be in tension with the AI Persuasion stuff. I mean, honestly, anything short of the bloody Unabomber (whose tactics I am NOT endorsing!) seems to be in tension with the AI Persuasion stuff, so this is just a subset of that…..

  59. FacelessCraven says:

    @Scott Alexander – “Since a country with thriving conservative and liberal parties is lower-variance than one with lots of liberals but no effective conservatism, I would like conservatism to get out of crisis as soon as possible and reach the point where it could form an effective opposition. It would also be neat if whatever form conservatism ended out taking had some slight contact with reality and what would help the country.”

    …In your mind, what would this look like? Specifically, can you (or any of the left-wing commentariat) point out how an “effective opposition Conservative” would differ from, say, Hillary Clinton? I’m not trying to be snide; I am more or less resigned to a Hillary presidency, agree with most of your low-variance description of her likely trajectory, and note that attacks on the Clintons from the left usually take the form of accusing them of being crypto-conservatives selling out the positions of the Blue Tribe. What positions should such a candidate take that Clinton is leaving unfilled?

    Conservatism is in a crisis because its long-term vision is now bankrupt. If the continued existence of a conservative movement is desired, then someone is going to have to articulate a new vision of where we go from here that the Red Tribe can actually buy into and the Blue Tribe can tolerate. I’m not optimistic; if this could be done, I think we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

    “I definitely don’t want an unpopular far-right presidency, because then they’re going to lean left, which will combined with the natural leftiness of the young and make them super left. And this is the sort of thing that affects the culture!”

    You would rather we ran another Bush? Rubio? Cruz? How would that be better? What purpose would it serve? Blue Tribe despised all of them, and they did nothing for Red Tribe. We should fight for them not because we believe in them, but because the fight creates convinient second- or third-order effects for you?

    …I appreciate that having a viable right wing is useful to you on the object level, but that insight might have been more valuable before your tribe destroyed us. The right wing is very probably dead. It does not seem likely that Conservative Values will be upheld by the Supreme Court, no matter who wins the Presidency. You own the media, and you own the entire educational pipeline, and you’re well on the way to owning Big Business too. Your description of Trump’s likely effects on national politics seems entirely accurate to me, but it seems notable that you can’t actually articulate an alternative. What is our incentive to choose being cast howling into utter darkness now rather than in four years? Can you name a single concrete thing that voting in Trump does to actually harm the Red Tribe that wasn’t already a done deal a decade ago?

    • AnonBosch says:

      Bias disclaimer: I am a pragmatic leftish libertarian who is voting for Gary Johnson (despite his increasingly dismaying foot-in-mouth disorder when discussing world affairs). Keep this in mind when assessing the following suggestions.

      A 21st century conservatism would probably…

      … retain the following stances from “classic” conservatism:
      – Support for free trade and opposition to tariffs
      – Support for voucher and grant systems where feasible
      – Support for entitlement reform, especially SS/Medicare (biggest missed opportunity under GWB)
      – Opposition to public sector unions (but apply this skepticism to police as well)
      – Opposition to Obamacare and other socialized medicine
      – Generalized (but not dogmatic) tendency towards lower taxes and smaller government
      … modify the following stances:
      – Replace a hard-line on immigration with an explicit amnesty-for-fence deal along Gang of Eight lines
      – Replace emphasis on fossil fuels and AGW denial with push for nuclear (could sell as deregulation)
      – Adopt (or return to) a realist stance on foreign policy, e.g., Brent Scowcroft, Richard Clarke
      – Abandon “official” stances on abortion, gay marriage, pornography, and other obsolete religious-right issues (if nothing else, Trump has proven that their power is illusory; if they’ll fall in line with the most godless nominee imaginable and cheer Peter Thiel, you can afford to repackage these issues a matter of personal conscience)

      Two more broad issues: Republicans need to shift their emphasis from tax cuts to deregulation, as I think there’s more growth available there. An example would be an increased emphasis on opposition to needless licensing laws. (In my view, this includes basically anything outside of medicine or engineering.) Republicans also need to ditch the Hastert Rule, as it gives undue weight to the far-right wing of the party and dooms their coalition to an ungovernable feedback cycle of extremism.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @AnonBosch – Seems like a decent list. Do you think it would be easier to get to those positions from the Republican Party or the Democratic Party, as they currently stand?

        [EDIT] – To be a bit more on-the-nose, do you think a workable Republican coalition can be put together on those terms in the foreseeable future? Everything on that list seems eminently reasonable. Nothing on that list is actually interesting to me at all, nor does anything on that list give me any confidence that fighting for it would result in a noticeably better country. Everything you list seems like a good idea. None of it seems like a good enough idea to be worth the effort.

        [EDITEDIT] ….and to be even more on-the-nose, Democrats are openly celebrating the fact that they are guaranteed a demographic supermajority from now on thanks to immigration, and the Republican party is the party of white supremacy. Wouldn’t it be easier to just rebuild this sort of consensus within the Democratic party, using the Trumpocalypse on one hand and the excesses of SJWs on the other to coalesce support from moderate democrats and the #NeverTrump remnant of the Republicans? Let the Republican party die, and start over from scratch?

        • Corey says:

          All it takes is a few million like-minded friends voting in primaries. The Tea Party and Trump have both made some big changes in GOP direction this way.

      • Schmendrick says:

        Excellent list. However, I notice there’s nothing about where this resurgent Conservatism stands vis a vis the steelmanned SJWism that is rapidly becoming the dominant cultural position of the left. What do you think Conservatism should do about multiculturalism, anti-assimilationism, diversity pushes, the transgender issue, etc? Just resign itself to being Democrat-lite (with more managerial competence this time!) or do you see there being a viable opposition stance on those issues?

        • Gazeboist says:

          The viable opposition is probably a strong stance in favor of free association and free speech, rather than opposition to any particular issue as such. Basically, let Blue culture do what it wants, but flip a shit when it tries to enforce its norms on Red culture. This fits with a no-closed-shops union stance, but runs counter to a no-unions-at-all stance. It also requires that they oppose Red efforts to impose their norms on Blue culture.

          Though I personally think it needs some modification, (federal) RFRA is probably a good example of this kind of conservatism. I’m not sure Indiana RFRA is a good example. In general, there is probably more strength in “Liberty!” than there is in “Tradition!”

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Gazeboist – “The viable opposition is probably a strong stance in favor of free association and free speech, rather than opposition to any particular issue as such.”

            This would require overturning the civil rights paradigm that’s held firm since the 60s. As is, there is no stable position in sight; Blue Tribe has an overwhelming advantage in terms of law and custom, and Red Tribe has vast amounts of soft infrastructure left to wreck and no practical way to defend any of it. By the time it’s gone, I’m not sure there will be a Red Tribe left to speak of in a national context.

            Certainly I don’t see any way to use this as a rallying point for a political movement under the current conditions.

      • Bugmaster says:

        I’m a leftist, I guess, so I’m opposed to some of the positions on this list. That said, I would gladly vote for any politician who used it as his platform — assuming he had more than a snowball’s chance in hell of winning.

        Which brings me to the main problem with your list: I don’t think it’s realistically achievable. Over several generations, maybe, but not in a single push.

      • Deiseach says:

        And again, that’s a financial conservatism that is in practice 90% agreement with liberal values. You don’t need (or can’t build) an effective opposition out of that, you can easily incorporate that into a wing of the dominant Democrat (if they achieve and retain dominance) party in saecula saeculorum.

        Okay, so let’s dump all the “obsoleted religious-right issues” (yeah, has to be purely a matter of Bible-thumping if you care about abortion, doesn’t it? that’s already yielded the pass on ‘is it a human life’ and ‘adjudicating between competing rights’ wholesale to the Zeitgeist on this one).

        What is there on your list about patriotism/nationalism, social and cultural values that are not individualistic, what constitutes particular values and which are to be upheld if any, does the state have an interest in promoting (say) marriage and family life, etc.?

        Your conservatism is “who the hell cares what you think, say or do until and unless it involves money, precious money, the only thing of value or import in this entire world”. That’s a Tweedledum and Tweedledee version of ‘opposing’ parties, who think the same way on everything until it comes to “20% tax rate or 22% tax rate?”.

        If one of Scott’s fears is a “super-leftiness” arising that will affect the culture, what is there in your “21st century conservatism” that will oppose this? Or any mention of the dominant culture, such as it is? Or that there exists a culture separate from a creed of “No Tariffs!” that does have an influence on the people living in that state under that rule?

        • FacelessCraven says:

          The term “bloodless” does spring to mind. I suppose there are worse epithets in our modern era…

        • Aegeus says:

          Okay, so let’s dump all the “obsoleted religious-right issues” (yeah, has to be purely a matter of Bible-thumping if you care about abortion, doesn’t it? that’s already yielded the pass on ‘is it a human life’ and ‘adjudicating between competing rights’ wholesale to the Zeitgeist on this one).

          He never said that, he just said that it’s clear that the religious right will fall in line with the Republicans regardless of the candidate’s stance on moral issues. It doesn’t matter whether they’re bible-thumping or they have incredibly pure and sincere beliefs about the nature of human life, they vote the same either way. So a candidate doesn’t gain anything by campaigning on it.

          Now, if the candidate does have serious views about the nature of human life, and puts it into his campaign anyway, then good on him for sticking up for what he believes in. But it’s not a strategic value.

      • Kevin C. says:

        See my reply to j r above. Polls show that Hispanics are more strongly opposed to Republicans due to economic positions like some of the items you list than by their opposition to immigration. And, again, read “Non-Whites of Every Stripe Vote Democrat.” Basically, pretty much nothing the Republicans do is going to get them any significant increase in votes from “minority” groups. And, as Sandy said above, “Libertarianism is just a thing white people believe in.”

    • Maware says:

      Yeah, I agree with this. If you wanted to destroy or hobble the effects of religion and conservatism, you need to own up to the world that this will make, not wish that they somehow survive and keep holding back the nasty elements of the victor’s ideology.

  60. overtfungus says:

    A decent post, Scott, no better and no worse than the average post here, but that’s not really what I’m here to talk about. The comments here have been an awful showing for SSC. I’m kind of appalled at how bad they are. It’s very hard to believe that all these people have read any of your best stuff, especially Toxoplam of Rage – they’re all just spewing different versions of the same meme. There’s no real discussion of ideas here. Really disappointing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Aunque la mona se vista de seda, mona queda.

    • ThirteenthLetter says:

      Instead of theatrically sighing into the void, perhaps you should take issue with one of the comments you disagree with. We could have a discussion. Maybe learn something from each other!

      • Aegeus says:

        “Instead of complaining about all the land mines around here, how about you take a walk through the minefield? We might find a clear path through it. Maybe there won’t be any explosions!”

        Sometimes it’s worthwhile to back off and say “Is this the hill I want to die on?” before starting something.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          The original post in this subthread isn’t “starting something”?

        • Jill says:

          I can totally understand how a person could complain about all the mine fields around here, rather than stepping into them. I’ve stepped into them and have the injuries to prove it.

          You may not die on that hill, but you may get a limb exploded off of your body.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            There is no way to complain about the minefield in this increasingly lame metaphor without stepping into the minefield — indeed, without gleefully belly-flopping into it. If you genuinely don’t want to be in the minefield, you go complain somewhere else.

    • Zombielicious says:

      You clearly haven’t been following the politics discussions in the Open Threads lately. If anything I’d say this is significantly better, mainly because it has a better mix of people from all sides. It’s a dumpster fire for sure, but there’s at least some signal in the noise – you just have to dig deep to find it, and wading through 1,340 comments (and counting) probably isn’t the best use of anyone’s time.

      That aside, the only people who ever get persuaded by these kinds of internet “discussions” are random lurkers who aren’t emotionally invested in any particular back-and-forth exchange, or people who go away having only doubled-down on their prejudices, but may look back on it in a few months, years, or longer, and realize how poorly calibrated and mistaken they were, and adjust their future beliefs and confidences accordingly. It’s also become somewhat apparent that a lot of the crazier comments on SSC tend to be made by the same few people, many of whom I’d wager are prone to hyperbole and conspiratorial worldviews regardless of who or what person or issue they’ve currently attached themselves to. Not much you can do about those, except hope they do grow out of it eventually.

      • Gazeboist says:

        Someday, Jill and E Harding will become Woke, and we will all laugh. Laugh, because the alternative is to cry.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          What is Woke? I find I cannot search on this.

          • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

            Urban dictionary is usually pretty good. ‘Woke’ roughly means ‘aware’ or ‘accurately tracking reality as it is rather than as interest groups try to portray it’. It originally was related to Ferguson, with ‘Stay Woke’ meaning to remain aware of police violence against black people, despite a perceived hostile media. The phrase has been co-opted by all sides since then, though.

          • Gazeboist says:

            To be clear, I’m using it sarcastically. There was a long discussion in OT59 or so about people flipping from the paranoid left to the paranoid right (and possibly the reverse?). This is the phenomenon I am poking … fun … at.

    • Acedia says:

      I’m really looking forward to this election ending and the comments becoming better to read again. It won’t happen immediately after because whichever side loses will be vocally upset for a while, but hopefully things will quiet down within a couple months.

    • Deiseach says:

      I’m not attacking Scott here, because he has done a very valuable service in laying out the reasons for Clinton rather than Trump or Third Party.

      But I’m fed-up with the attitude or notion that “Ooops! Some of our guys are a bit crazier with their notions than I’d like them to be, so instead of our side cleaning up its own mess, I’d like you guys to get your act together and clean it up for us. You won’t get anything in exchange, but you should still do it.”

      I think conservatism is about more than attitudes to financial policy or the economy. I think if Libertarianism a la Johnson is nothing more than “a Republican who likes pot and is chill about gay marriage”, what damn good is it?

      • Fahundo says:

        if Libertarianism a la Johnson is nothing more than “a Republican who likes pot and is chill about gay marriage”, what damn good is it?

        The pot and the gay marriage are what’s good about it, obviously

        • Also a generally noninterventionist approach to foreign policy. And being more serious about shrinking government than Republican politicians are in practice, although perhaps not more than they are in rhetoric.

          What’s odd about Johnson, from a libertarian point of view, isn’t the pattern of beliefs but how watered down they are. I’m not sure if that represents his real position–he was, after all, a state governor, and his views would fit as libertarian Republican–or a tactical decision.

  61. TomA says:

    Politicians of both parties have spent so much time in Washington DC that they no longer represent the interests of their constituents (other than posturing for appearance sake) and instead have morphed into an entity all it’s own. This entity is the functional equivalent of an addict and, like most addicts, is sustained by enablers and impervious to change unless they hit bottom first. It’s true that many addicts never bounce up from the bottom, but the dominant alternative is continued addiction and descent.

    The longer we put off hitting bottom, the deeper and more severe will be the crash. If you want to argue that either Clinton or Trump is the faster path to the bottom, then I am persuadable.

    • Jill says:

      Is nuclear WWIII the bottom? Do you really want the faster path to that bottom?

      • FacelessCraven says:

        The waiting is the worst.

      • TomA says:

        Most addicts don’t OD, they wind up on the street with very poor health, and reach a point of such utter despair that change becomes the only feasible resort. For a nation, this likely means economic hardship, drastic standard-of-living decline, and willingness to work at any job available. If we wait too long to hit this “high” bottom, then violent civil unrest is a common endpoint (see Venezuela).

    • Fahundo says:

      There doesn’t need to be a race to the bottom. If people would ditch the third party stigma, the big two would either be forced to shape up or be replaced.

      • Corey says:

        Or people could vote in primaries, but let’s not get crazy here 🙂

      • SilasLock says:

        I’m with you, but

        people… ditch[ing] the third party stigma

        is a pretty big coordination problem. No individual voter can decide to stop treating the two main parties as Schelling points for their votes without a guarantee that everyone else will shift their perceptions at the same time. This requires that any plan to ditch the third party stigma needs to be common knowledge, i.e. you know that I know that you know that I know that you know that I know (etc.) that we’re all going to stop treating the two main parties as our only options. This applies to both voting in an individual year and to changing the cultural norms around which parties to vote for in the long term.

        I’m also sure that you know about the spoiler effect, so I want harp on that. =P

        Another thing I want to bring up:

        … the big two would either be forced to shape up or be replaced.

        I really hate to nitpick here, because I don’t think we disagree all that much and I’d rather not fight over details, so know in advance my criticism is as friendly as it comes. =)

        But, that being said, I think you’re confusing the mechanisms of capitalism with the mechanisms of democracy.

        Competition between firms in capitalism works for two reasons: one, it ensures that firms have an incentive to produce an optimal output of their good or service–not too much, and not too little. Second, it makes it so that firms that select inefficient production techniques are rooted out and replaced with those that use better ones.

        So, one capitalist mechanism deals with resource allocation, and another one deals with the best use of those resources after allocation. Obviously, the first mechanism isn’t analogous to any utilized by our political system; governments don’t use competition as a way to determine the optimal amount of legislation to produce. =P

        But where I disagree with you is how analogous the second mechanism is to those used in our democracy. Political parties don’t compete in the same way that firms do, with customers flocking to the one that offers the better policies and inferior parties vanishing into history. Instead, two party democracies utilize something called the “median voter theorem”.

        Under this model, parties offer a set of policy “bundles”, or sets of legislation that they promise to pass in a giant collective package. If you want carbon taxes but don’t want minimum wages, you’re out of luck; you have to vote Democrat or Republican. The median voter theorem states that if people hold political views on a one dimensional spectrum (which they sort of do, there is a general factor of politics across a left-right divide, it’s just not very strong) they will select the policy bundle closer to their preferences, which makes the winning party the one that offers a policy bundle closer to the center of the political spectrum. If this mechanism works perfectly, both parties will be indistinguishable, only ever offering identical policies that most appeal to the median voter.

        This model works in a three/four/five party system as well. Or it would, if the US hadn’t destroyed it.

        In the late 20th century a set of reforms were introduced into the two US political parties that allowed for direct selection of running candidates by party members, AKA primaries and caucuses. This throws the median voter theorem out the window, because the model I described above relies upon something called refactored agency. If the person in the Democratic or Republican party selecting which candidate to run does a bad job choosing good politicians, he or she will be replaced with someone more competent or the party will go extinct. Under the current system, the same voters stick around year after year, free to vote based on their tribal affiliations. This leads to the traditional “start out appealing to the extreme wing of your party, then veer to the center for the general election” strategy that we see in modern politics.

        The reforms were introduced largely because the Democratic party ran Lyndon Johnson, who supported the Vietnam war despite the party base’s anti-war stance. The changes were understandable given the circumstances, but they did a lot of damage to our democracy’s underlying mathematical foundations.

        If people ditched the third party stigma, as you suggest, this would still be a big obstacle toward party reform. We simply don’t have the right mechanisms in place that would lead to more centrist and more competent policies. Adding more parties (and switching to a voting system that stops third parties from acting as vote-spoilers) merely optimizes more effectively for the exact same things as the current system optimizes. We need to change what the system optimizes for, not how well it does it.

        I’ve been toying with possible solutions to this problem, but I have no concrete answers as of yet. But that’s what life is for, right? Finding answers to puzzles just like this one. =D

        If any of the SSC commentariat has ideas for electoral systems that would fix the problems I discussed and optimize for effective, pluralistic policies, I’d be super interested to hear them.

        Discuss!

        • Gazeboist says:

          MMP systems for Congress, and a single transferable vote for executives, seem like pretty good systems. Not great, but good. They’d have to come with some other restructuring though.

        • cassander says:

          Lbj ran an extremely anti war campaign. And the reaffirms you soak up were largely posed in the 70s in response to Watergate and the rise of the new left, not the 60s.

          • SilasLock says:

            Really? My bad, I’ll re-check my sources but I could’ve sworn lbj was a hawk.

          • SilasLock says:

            Okay, I did some research and it turns out we’re both wrong. Johnson tried to strike a middle ground between both hawkery and dovery, but was more center-hawk during the start of his time in office and moved toward a center-dove position near the end.

            Those famous college protests in the 60s were often about Johnson’s foreign policy; students would chant stuff like “hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”

            It got bad enough that the secret service wouldn’t allow him to travel to the 1968 Democratic National Convention because they feared for his safety. The far left had turned the entire convention into a giant anti-LBJ protest, demanding that he remove troops from Vietnam.

            In private, he wasn’t a big fan of the war, but in public he tried to strike a “I’m tough and will do what it takes to win” persona.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            My impression of LBJ has always been torn between various accounts of him as a fairly amoral monster, and bits of evidence that he was ruined trying to deal responsibly with a war he did not choose and could not win. In particular his “I will not run” speech is incredibly moving.

          • cassander says:

            >Those famous college protests in the 60s were often about Johnson’s foreign policy; students would chant stuff like “hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”

            the american popular memory of vietnam is weird. The story seems to be that vietnam ended in 1968 with the fall of saigon after the tet offensive, and somehow it was all Nixon’s fault. This is, of course, entirely inaccurate.

            >n private, he wasn’t a big fan of the war, but in public he tried to strike a “I’m tough and will do what it takes to win” persona.

            definitely, but in his 64 campaign, which was before american ground troops were involved, he very much worked to portray goldwater as a warmonger, and made strident promises that “We are not about to send American boys 9 or 10 thousand miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves”

    • SilasLock says:

      I feel like hitting rock bottom isn’t the way to fix a country. Instead, it’s one of many possible stimuli that could conceivably lead to second order effects that will themselves fix a country. For example, the apocalypse could shock two political parties into putting aside their differences to work for our survival.

      But I object on two grounds. First, you have no guarantee that hitting rock bottom is actually going to create those second order effects. In my previous example, the apocalypse could remove dysfunctionality from a political system, but it could just as easily cause a mass panic and governmental collapse. See Scott’s chapter in Unsong about Thamiel’s broadcast for a vivid illustration. I don’t know what probabilities you want to assign to a good or a bad outcome from hitting rock bottom–60% to 40%, 70% to 30%–but the utility gained from a good outcome is so far outweighed by the disutility from a bad outcome that you’d better be really sure about the good outcome to advocate it as a panacea.

      Second, there are so many better ways to fix our political system that your “hitting rock bottom” method becomes obsolete. To use your example of an addict: you can lose your job, your money, and all your friends and family from a heroin addiction, and that can make the only feasible option finding a way to quit. Alternatively, you could go to rehab and save yourself all that suffering.

      Is rehab hard? Yes. But it exists so that we don’t have to rely upon losing everything in order to change. I’d take advantage of the option.

      In short, I agree with Jill. WWIII is far from optimal, and we should be fighting that descent as hard as we can, not running toward it. =P

      Also, you mentioned

      If we wait too long to hit this “high” bottom, then violent civil unrest is a common endpoint (see Venezuela).

      Mate, Venezuela sucks for several reasons, mostly their corrupt political system and a commitment to a form of socialism that reeks of the mid-20th century. They’re a complete and utter mess. But I’d start by advocating for a return to the rule of law and vanilla welfare capitalism before saying that they should have hit rock bottom earlier.

  62. Jill says:

    Here’s a question we could all think about. Would it be possible for someone or something to persuade me to change my vote for president? If so, what would it take? If not, why not?

    For me, I have to admit it’s not possible, as I feel certain that Trump is not qualified to be president, and that he would have a fairly high chance of leading the U.S. into some kind of nuclear war or other international disaster. And Clinton is the only other person who has a realistic chance of winning. Though she isn’t perfect for my preferences, she is definitely less bad for them than Trump.

    • pku says:

      For me, if the republicans had a candidate who believed in dealing with climate change, I’d consider it. If they had a candidate who was honest and competent, willing to compromise, wanted to pursue effective policies and whose platform focused on removing (non-environmental/banking) regulation, pro-life, moral responsibility and anti-SJ, I’d probably vote for him.

      • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:
        • pku says:

          I have to admit, I really liked Kasich, and would probably have voted for him over Sanders (over Clinton, I’d have had to look into their policies).
          Particularly this gave the impression that he was a guy who genuinly believed in moral responsibility towards voters.
          OTOH, that’s a slate article praising him, which may be enough to make him count as a non-Republican.

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            This ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑  Another dream debate would have been Kasich (or Webb)-versus-Warren (or Murray). Alas, neither party is putting their best faces forward, are they?

          • onyomi says:

            This is no comment on you and your particular reasons for liking Kasich, but I notice that the Democrats like to pick one contender for the Republican nomination with little chance of victory each go-round and say “now THAT’s the guy they’d nominate if they weren’t so crazy.” This time it was Kasich; last time it was Huntsman.

            I’m not sure if this is just because, on average, one person who is kinna close to being a Democrat tends to try for the Republican nomination, because Dems like to virtue signal that they would be open to the Republicans if only they’d be reasonable, or some combination.

            You are not the only person I’ve heard say that Kasich was their favorite of the bunch. I am frankly mystified. Everything I’ve seen of him on TV made him seem very unpleasant to me, and his policies and rhetoric sounded like Democrat lite (so yeah, d’uh, Dems like him, I guess?).

          • E. Harding says:

            “Particularly this gave the impression that he was a guy who genuinly believed in moral responsibility towards voters.”

            -All style, no substance.
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Z0oQ9rEZEA

            Kasich also favored overthrowing the Syrian gov’t (thus allowing the IS to expand), “punching Russia in the nose”, and amnesty.

          • pku says:

            Alternative view: Lots of democrats are frustrated with the democratic party, and really wish for an outside option, so they choose a republican to like. For obvious reasons, this tends to be one of the most moderate republicans, who as a result probably has little chance of winning.

            Re: Kasich, I’ll admit I’m partially influenced by this effect, but he also seemed to take morality and responsibility seriously in a way that no other candidate this election (democrat or republican) really did. So he was my favourite candidate on at least one dimension, which saves him from being liked just for being democrat-lite.

          • Sniffnoy says:

            I seriously doubt I would actually vote for him over Clinton, but Jeb Bush at least definitely won my respect with his “stuff happens” remark. Of course, that is obviously not the sort of thing that will appeal to most voters…

          • Jordan D. says:

            Jeb! became (to me) a lot more likeable as it became less likely that he was going to win the primary. I don’t claim to know why.

            For what it’s worth, as a center-leftist who was never going to vote for the GOP candidate, here were my thoughts on the GOP field-

            Jeb! > Kaisich > Trump > Christie > Rubio > Fiorina >>>>>>>>>> The Heat Death Of The Universe > Cruz

            I actually did like both McCain and Huntsman in past elections, and almost voted for one of them.

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            If you had done this (supported McCain or Huntsman in any prior primary or general election), then nowadays you would receive daily fund-raising letters from the Donald.

            Lol … please don’t ask me how I know this! 🙂

          • Cruz has to get some points for being a Princess Bride fan. Enough of a fan to be able to recite chunks of it from memory.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            Cruz’ impression of Miracle Max was indeed very surprisingly entertaining.

      • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

        I could get behind that candidate, too. At first, your response seemed to me like sidestepping Jill’s question; she asks “What could change your vote?”, and you answer “a better candidate”. Then I reflected on it, and decided that given that I believe I have an accurate picture of the candidates right now, I’d also require a different sort of candidate. Nevertheless, I’ll try to paint a picture of the “minimum modification” candidate that would get my vote.

        I’d change my vote to Trump if I were convinced he’s the master strategist his supporters believe him to be, and received some reassurance that he’d govern more stably than he campaigns.

        I’d be tempted to vote for Clinton, crimes and all, if I believed she’d govern with the country’s best interests at heart. As it stands, I expect her to do whatever benefits her and her party. I’d still disagree with her on most policy choices, but I’d vote for that over Trump.

        • Fahundo says:

          I’d change my vote to Trump if I were convinced he’s the master strategist his supporters believe him to be, and received some reassurance that he’d govern more stably than he campaigns.

          I’d be tempted to vote for Clinton, crimes and all, if I believed she’d govern with the country’s best interests at heart. As it stands, I expect her to do whatever benefits her and her party. I’d still disagree with her on most policy choices, but I’d vote for that over Trump.

          This right here.

        • cassander says:

          >I’d change my vote to Trump if I were convinced he’s the master strategist his supporters believe him to be, and received some reassurance that he’d govern more stably than he campaigns.

          He’ll have to. Campaigns are near absolute dictatorships. The state is a creature of inertia and competing interests. If he’s erratic he simply won’t get anything done.

          >As it stands, I expect her to do whatever benefits her and her party. I’d still disagree with her on most policy choices, but I’d vote for that over Trump.

          If someone believes x is good for the county and you believe y is, why is them governing for the good of the county good for you? I’d much rather have a complete sell out implement policies I want than a sincere believer who does the opposite.

          • Rebel with an Uncaused Cause says:

            I believe that her most damaging policies would be mitigated by that. The main example I had in mind was her connections to the Saudis; I’d hope that it would cut down on her foreign adventurism, as well.

            She’s still not a good candidate in my eyes, but neither is Trump. It’s not a high bar to hit.

          • cassander says:

            > believe that her most damaging policies would be mitigated by that. The main example I had in mind was her connections to the Saudis; I’d hope that it would cut down on her foreign adventurism, as well.

            Trump is, by almost any definition, LESS hawkish than Hillary. It is, in fact, almost impossible to be more hawkish than Hillary in the context of mainstream american politics. She’s the worst sort of hawk, eager to get in, but not willing to take the political risks of intervening in a big way, which is why she has a long history of of eagerly getting involved in wars and then not winning them. If that’s your issue, there’s no question you should vote Trump.

            >She’s still not a good candidate in my eyes, but neither is Trump. It’s not a high bar to hit.

            That much is indisputable.

      • SilasLock says:

        I’m with you there. Those aren’t my positions word for word and I’d prefer a different sort of politician, but if a Republican came out with a competent plan to tackle climate change I’d at least seriously consider them.

      • cassander says:

        >For me, if the republicans had a candidate who believed in dealing with climate change, I’d consider it. If they had a candidate who was honest and competent, willing to compromise, wanted to pursue effective policies and whose platform focused on removing (non-environmental/banking) regulation, pro-life, moral responsibility and anti-SJ, I’d probably vote for him.

        So you voted for Romney? Or Bush, the president who passed the two largest expansions of banking regulation since the new deal in Sarbanes Oxley and Basel II?

        • pku says:

          No, mostly on account of living in Israel for those elections. I did almost start rooting for Romney at one point, but he lost me by sticking the party line on climate change and wanting to expand military spending.

          • cassander says:

            The democrats aren’t going to do anything meaningful on climate change. They will make pious statements and blow money on solar power, but there is zero willingness to actually vote for a carbon tax our meaningful cap and trade.

          • Chalid says:

            @cassander

            Not really zero willingness. A cap and trade bill actually passed the House on Democratic votes in 2009, but it died in the Senate.

          • cassander says:

            @Chalid

            And the Ryan budget did the same thing from 2011 to 14. It’s easy to vote yes on something that you know has zero chance of becoming law. It’s very different to vote yes when it might actually pass. As much as I wish we had a republican party that was enthusiastic about serious entitlement reform, we don’t, and neither do we have a democratic party serious about cap and trade.

          • Chalid says:

            Cap and trade did have a decent chance of becoming law. There was a large Democratic majority in the senate and a Democratic president. If the world had been slightly different it would have passed.

            I’d actually say that entitlement reform (I assume that’s what you’re talking about in the Ryan budget?) had a chance too at a couple points.

          • cassander says:

            >Cap and trade did have a decent chance of becoming law.

            The people voting in the house knew that the it would die in the senate. Here’s a decent article from the time. It has a few partisan hits repeating a few inane anti-republican talking points, but it does admit that Reid couldn’t even get 51 votes for it, so republican opposition was irrelevant. It even admits how difficult it was even to pass it in the house, with the speaker’s much greater power and massive majority.

            >I’d actually say that entitlement reform (I assume that’s what you’re talking about in the Ryan budget?) had a chance too at a couple points.

            as a bipartisan project, maybe. Not as a one party initiative.

    • Interesting question.

      I am going to assume, for purposes of answering it, that I want to vote for the candidate who I think would do the best job, putting aside arguments about my vote having no effect.

      Suppose I discovered that a friend whose judgement and honesty I trusted had worked closely with Trump for years. Suppose he told me that Trump’s public persona was merely an act cleverly designed to get him elected, that he was in reality a highly intelligent man who wanted to do the best he could for the country. Suppose further he told me that Trump’s view of what was good for the country was fairly close to mine, so he would support the right policies to the degree that it was politically practical to do so. I would then consider him the better candidate.

      Now change the story just a little. My friend tells me that Trump is intelligent and able but that his view of what is good for the country is diametrically opposed to mine. He is actually center left and intends to get elected as a Republican in order to trick the Republican House and Senate into passing the sort of left wing legislation that a Democratic candidate could never get them to pass–Bush to the Nth degree. Now I favor Clinton.

      I will let you work out for yourself the corresponding stories starting with a friend who had worked for Clinton.

    • Gazeboist says:

      I thought Kasich or Rubio would have been fine. Bush too, but he was clearly going nowhere. Christie was marred by Bridgegate and a general history of prioritizing smacking his outgroup over getting things for his constituents. Cruz struck me as a weird sort of pseudo-Trump (contrarian and anti-elitist, but one of those same elites himself, in a more direct sense than Trump is). I have friends who reported incompetance on Fiorina’s part from her days at HP. Carson seemed kind of loopy. I don’t recall having any sort of opinions on the remaining candidates, but I also can’t remember who they were or if they existed.

      Mostly, I trust generic Republicans and Democrats to not really do anything of note and keep out of my way. Not everyone can trust them to do this, of course.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        @Gazeboist – “I thought Kasich or Rubio would have been fine.”

        Fine enough for you to vote for them? Fine enough that you think you would still vote for them after the Democratic party told you their best arguments for why you shouldn’t?

        Have you voted Republican in the past?

        • Gazeboist says:

          Hah! No. Fine in the sense that I could safely dismiss any story specifically about them. But not because of their policy positions; I made a deliberate choice a few years ago to not vote or attach my identity to politics, except maybe at a local level, and then not in a major city.

          I’m not voting for Clinton either, I just think she’s less likely to make an impact on my life than Trump. Also a factor, my relatives are pretty thoroughly Blue Tribe, and I’ve found constant complaints about Congress preferable to constant complaints about the President.

          EDIT:

          I’m young enough that 2012 was the only presidential election I could have voted in, and that was before I made my no-voting decision. I would have voted for Obama, mostly because I was still evolving away from the Blue Tribe environment that I grew up in. I didn’t, though, due to a mistake concerning which was the correct absentee ballot application form, some laziness on my part, and a hurricane. This, quite frankly, did me a world of good, though I probably would have stopped voting pretty soon.

          I think I’d still take Obama over Romney, but the only things pushing me in that direction are his abandonment of DOMA / DADT and the fact that Obama is the better public speaker. The former is a choice I agree with that I doubt Romney would have made, and the latter is something I consider to be an important job for the president, though it’s far from the only job. I don’t otherwise see much difference between the two. I wouldn’t particularly mind a Romney presidency, I’ve just got a mild preference for Obama. If you disagree on the Obama/Romney choice … I’d rather talk about whether Warblades are properly Tier 3, and believe me that is a dumb discussion.

          • cassander says:

            >he former is a choice I agree with that I doubt Romney would have made, and the latter is something I consider to be an important job for the president, though it’s far from the only job. I don’t otherwise see much difference between the two.

            Romney is, by most accounts, a competent public executive. Obama is demonstrably a bad one. If you think they’re the same ideologically, (a point I would disagree with) why not pick the one who’s actually decent at the job?

          • Gazeboist says:

            I disagree that Obama is not a competent executive (especially as things stood in 2012). Some of his policies are bad, but that doesn’t implicate his competence.

          • cassander says:

            >I disagree that Obama is not a competent executive (especially as things stood in 2012). Some of his policies are bad, but that doesn’t implicate his competence.

            Obama has managed to alienate almost everyone that doesn’t work for him. As a result of this, he has not accomplished much legislatively, and has had rather embarrassing reverses, like his own party abandoning him on the TPP vote. His one major legislative accomplishment, the ACA, was not just horribly botched by its rollout, he didn’t seem to have any idea that the botching was going to happen until it did. He’s had four Secretaries of Defense, all very different. The three people not currently in that job have all made the same complaints about his and his White House’s management style.

            These are major failures not of policy, but implementation, and that speaks to his competence.

    • Zombielicious says:

      It sounds more like it would be possible to get you to change your vote, it’s just not realistic given the candidate. It’s hard to imagine anything Trump could do, in the next month and a half, to convince you (or me) that he’s qualified to be President and won’t lead the country into an international disaster.

      Personally I’d vote for Clinton in a heartbeat if she seemed credibly committed to reducing the nat-sec/military-industrial complex, demilitarizing police, and ending the war on drugs (beyond just rescheduling marijuana to Schedule II). That’s the major issue that’s a dealbreaker for me. A massive funding increase for basic science research wouldn’t hurt either. For Trump, there are basically too many obstacles at this point, but he’d have to additionally show himself to be knowledgeable on policy, with an actual platform laid out, and completely reverse his position on all the anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, pro-torture, pro-censorship, birtherism stuff. Among other things. There’s basically no conceivable way he could credibly reverse all that at this point.

      • cassander says:

        >Personally I’d vote for Clinton in a heartbeat if she seemed credibly committed to reducing the nat-sec/military-industrial complex

        Hillary is a hawk’s hawk. There isn’t a single conflict of the last 25 years she hasn’t supported. She even rattled sabers over Georgia with John McCain. Why on earth would you think this was even a possibility?

        >, demilitarizing police, and ending the war on drugs (beyond just rescheduling marijuana to Schedule

        Again, when had Hillary ever given the slightest hint she would do something like this?

        • Zombielicious says:

          Uh, did I say I thought she would do any of it? I gave conditions under which I would be willing to vote for her, as I did even for Trump – not that I thought they were necessarily realistic or going to be met.

          Her claimed platform is at least somewhat more favorable regarding police than military or nat-sec. As I posted elsewhere in here, she’s at least opposed to mandatory minimums and wants to reschedule marijuana to something less severe, matching federal funds for body cameras, a few other things. I’m extremely skeptical that wouldn’t turn out the same way Obama’s plan to close Gitmo and have a public option with no mandate did, though.

          • Jill says:

            Yes, of course it goes without saying that the GOP Congress would block anything constructive that a Dem president would try to do, just like the public option and the GITMO closing.

          • Zombielicious says:

            Fair point, can’t say he didn’t legitimately try to accomplish those things to some degree, though regarding the public option and mandate, the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbies are responsible as much as the Republicans are (see the Frontline documentary Obama’s Deal). Gitmo is a little weirder since the more recent plan was to just relocate onto U.S. soil, which actually seems even worse than the situation now.

            The whole “transparency in government” thing might have been a better target, since that seems to have been a campaign promise that it was his direct choice to reverse on, not to mention the assassination and drone bombing programs, among other things. In any case, whether it’s from an obstructionist Congress or just lying during the campaign, I’m skeptical about voting for someone because of some subset of issues, and then only getting the worst aspects of their platform once they’re in office.

          • cassander says:

            @zombielicious

            >Uh, did I say I thought she would do any of it?

            you speak of it as though it were a possibility. But if I misread your tone, I apologize.

            >Her claimed platform is at least somewhat more favorable regarding police than military or nat-sec.

            Police maybe. Nat-sec, most definitely not. She does not even pretend on that front.

            @jill

            Gitmo closing was blocked by Democrats. What was that you were saying about being part of the reality based community?

            In any case, since you don’t bother to respond to my questions to you, please don’t gum up my conversations with your nonsense.

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        @ Zombielicious
        Personally I’d vote for Clinton in a heartbeat if she seemed credibly committed to reducing the nat-sec/military-industrial complex, demilitarizing police, and ending the war on drugs

        Examining the word ‘committed’ might lead in a useful direction. No one can believably ‘promise’ to accomplish something that turns out to be impossible. The believable meaning of a ‘campaign promise’ is ‘I will try very hard on this, I’ll give it high priority, and continue swimming in its direction as wind and tide permit’.

        She’s several times lately talked about police shootings and said that something on the federal level might be needed; maybe establishing something there might be a priority for her. I haven’t seen anything specificly about reducing the nat-sec/military-industrial complex or ending the war on drugs

    • houseboatonstyxb says:

      @ Jill

      The only way I might consider voting for someone other than Hillary, is if Al Gore got in the race. But I’d ask them to work out a deal with H as POTUS and G in power on environment/technical issues.

    • Doctor Mist says:

      Would it be possible for someone or something to persuade me to change my vote for president?

      I’ve been persuaded to vote for Trump rather than Johnson. Unfortunately, it was Clinton who persuaded me.

  63. Rye says:

    And since then, one of the central principles behind my philosophy has been “Don’t destroy all existing systems and hope a planet-sized ghost makes everything work out”. Systems are hard. Institutions are hard. If your goal is to replace the current systems with better ones, then destroying the current system is 1% of the work, and building the better ones is 99% of it.

    I absolutely agree, institutions are precious, and their defense should be the first goal of any conservative movement. Unfortunately, from the perspective of legacy Americans, the institutions are now a lost cause, completely dedicated to furthering the interests of foreign peoples. This is why allowing alien market-dominant minorities access to leadership positions of the national institutions is so pernicious, we are now left little choice but to burn it all down and start again. I say this as a mischling with family members whose career advancement was blocked by the Soviet government in order to prevent just such an outcome.

  64. Anon says:

    Yes, I do believe the road to a just and rational society runs directly through putting Hillary Clinton (and numerous others) in jail.

    Why? Because she committed crimes which would have landed, and have landed, numerous other less politically powerful people in jail.

    The single most important thing to avoiding an endless spiral of corruption is to ensure, at a minimum, the mechanisms which are supposed to safeguard against corruption do not become corrupt. Even the appearance of corruption is absolutely poisonous and corrosive to governmental trust, the consent of the governed, and societal cohesion.

    Handing the highest office in the land to Hillary Clinton is sending a loud and clear message to everyone in the world that the equal application of rule of law not only no longer exists in the United States, but has failed to such an extent that we will award criminals who have avoided the consequences of their crimes the highest office in the land. As far as I’m concerned, this would be the death knell of government by the people, for the people, and of the people. If the cost of preserving that is Donald Trump, so be it.

    Lock her up. Please tell me again how I lack virtue and principle for making a stand on principle and virtue, Scott.

    • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

      Does “rule of law” encompass tax laws? That would be nice! 🙂

      • Anon says:

        Can I assume that by shifting the subject away from Clinton’s numerous documented criminal acts onto Trump’s criminal acts you concede the point – namely that Clinton has performed numerous criminal activities that render her unworthy of freedom from incarceration let alone the Oval Office?

        Great! I’ll be happy to talk about how crappy a candidate Trump is once Hillary is in jail. We can do better than either of them.

        But if the choice IS between two criminals, one who has used their position and the sacred trust of civil service to illegally enrich themselves at the expense of the country as a whole, and another who has participated in tax avoidance schemes – well, that’s still an easy choice.

        Or to put it another way: Suppose you are voting for town sheriff. On the one hand, you have an existing police officer who has, under color of law, performed numerous illegal acts and has consistently used his office corruptly to enrich themselves. On the other hand, you have a thief.

        Now, a thief is not an ideal candidate for sheriff – not by a long shot. But you’d have to be insane to consider promoting someone who has already demonstrated their utter incompetence and corruption in a similar position. Particularly if that police officer has a history of successfully using any trick or tactic to resist ouster by other investigatory bodies. At least the thief you can vote out next time. The corrupt police officer? If you make him sheriff, by the time the next election rolls around he’ll have the position locked up tight and you’ll never get him, and whatever other cronies he brings in, out.

        Or to put it even another way, suppose you’re hiring for a bank. Do you hire A.) This random dude from the street whose resume is crayon on a napkin but swears up and down he’s the very best, classiest, most elegant bank manager that ever lived or B.) The person who just resigned from the position you are trying to fill, who you are 99% sure had been embezzling from the company the entire time he worked there.

        Between hiring an incompetent clown and a competent criminal, please give me the former every day of the week and twice on Tuesday.

    • Earthly Knight says:

      If you were making a stand for principle and virtue, you would not be able to support Trump, who is a habitual liar and a con artist. I mean, the man used the Trump Foundation, ostensibly a charity, as a scheme to enrich himself, breaking numerous laws along the way. If you really care so much about preserving the rule of law, start by not making it into a partisan football.

      • cassander says:

        >If you were making a stand for principle and virtue, you would not be able to support Trump, who is a habitual liar and a con artist. I mean, the man used the Trump Foundation, ostensibly a charity, as a scheme to enrich himself, breaking numerous laws along the way. If you really care so much about preserving the rule of law, start by not making it into a partisan football.

        Unfortunately for us, trump is running against a habitual liar who uses her charity as a scheme to enrich herself, breaking numerous laws along the way.

      • Anon says:

        Firstly, don’t pretend that a criminal is a criminal, and therefore MLK, a criminal, is the same as Charles Manson, a criminal. We are, after all, on the blog of someone who called that the worst argument in the world. Hillary and Donald might both be criminals. But a criminal is not just a criminal.

        Suppose you were a god and could put every single person in the country on a scale from worst to best as to how good a presidential candidate they’d be. I believe both Trump and Hillary are on the lower half of that scale. If you were to take any random person off the street, they’d probably be a better candidate than either of the ones we’ve got right now.

        But Hillary Clinton is almost as close to the bottom of that scale as you can get, considering that she has demonstrably failed to perform her duties and uphold the public trust in previous positions of civil service. Actually, in my mind, she’s fallen off the scale. She should not even be eligible. Trump may also be pretty low on the scale, but by the mere fact that he hasn’t, as of yet, completely screwed up as a government official, he is in an entirely different league than Hillary Clinton.

        We’re talking about the highest executive office in the land. It can not be given to someone who has completely betrayed the public trust. Maybe the only reason Trump hasn’t betrayed the public trust yet is because he hasn’t had the chance. Fine. So be it. Vote him in, have him do it, then impeach him and throw him in jail. But to elect someone who has demonstrably ALREADY betrayed the body public is simply not something I will ever do, sorry.

        If Trump was twice as bad as he seems to be now, I’d still take him over Hillary. Hillary is just not an option. I literally don’t think she should be able to run for the office. Trump may be a crappy candidate, but he still falls on the scale of candidates. Hillary has, by her own actions, removed herself from that scale. She is a noncandidate for me. She will never, ever, ever convince me to vote for her – short of somehow convincing me that the established facts of her past actions are false. And if Trump ever similarly disqualifies himself, I’ll vote for neither so at least I won’t have to say, “Don’t blame me, I voted for Kodos.”

        • Earthly Knight says:

          You refer above to Hillary’s “numerous documented criminal acts.” What crimes do you think she has committed?

          • anon says:

            Unauthorized retention and removal of classified information, failure to report doing so, obstruction of justice, accepting bribes, perjury (on multiple occasions), fraud (misused Haiti donations — maybe Bill’s fault more than hers).

          • Anon says:

            At the very, very least:
            Improper handling of classified material
            Improper use of a government position for personal gain
            Accepting bribes
            Perjury
            Numerous campaign law violations

            And those are just the things that are well known and established enough to get major press and have their own wikipedia articles (for an example of the sort of mischief HRC was getting up to long before now. She hasn’t changed, which is exactly why she has had similar and worse scandals IN EVERY POSITION SHE’S HELD SINCE.).

            It doesn’t even include stuff like what happened in Haiti, or Benghazi, or quite possible election fraud in the primary. It doesn’t even include all the shit that Bill did that she was almost certainly involved or complicit in.

            And it certainly doesn’t include the stuff that wasn’t illegal, but was just completely disastrous and demonstrates that Hillary as an executive is deadly dangerous to the peace of the nation and the planet (e.g. everything to do with Libya, foreign policy under her tenure).

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ grey spiky anon

            Let me ask more carefully: having looked up what a crime is, and realized that not all corrupt-seeming things are crimes, what crimes do you think Hillary has committed?

            @ blue amorphous anon

            This is now twice in fifteen minutes I’ve been referred to a Wikipedia article about Hillary’s cattle future trading. Here is what that very article says about her wrongdoing:

            After the Rodham trading matter became public, Leo Melamed, a former chairman of the Mercantile Exchange, was brought in by request of the White House to review the trading records. On April 11, 1994, he said that the whole matter was “a tempest in a teapot” and that while her brokers had not required her to provide typical margin cushions, she had not knowingly benefited.[9] On May 26, 1994, after the new records concerning the larger Blair trades came to light, he said “I have no reason to change my original assessment. Mrs. Clinton violated no rules in the course of her transactions.”[14] But as to the question of whether she had been allocated profits from larger block trades, he said of the new accounting, “It doesn’t suggest that there was allocation, and it doesn’t prove there wasn’t,”[15] an assessment of uncertainty shared by Merton Miller, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.[15]

            You say that Hillary’s numerous crimes are “well known” and “established.” It should be no trouble for you to point to just one crime she has committed which fits those descriptions, then.

          • Anon says:

            With the cattle futures trading scandal you believe either 1 of 2 things:

            1.) Hillary just happened to be at the center of a coincidence of astronomical odds at precisely a time and situation when those circumstances could have arisen because of knowing intervention by other parties who would have benefited from receiving something from Hillary Clinton that they did, in fact, receive, giving the unfortunate appearance of bribery.

            2.) Hillary Clinton accepted a bribe.

            I believe number 2. And since this is my opinion and my vote, this and other crimes, established to my satisfaction and then some, have disqualified Hillary from ever gaining my support. It is my firm belief that if the full facts of this case (and many others) had been put before a fair, competent, and impartial judiciary, Hillary would have lost the case. The fact that it didn’t is not a point in Hillary’s favor. It is exactly the type of deadly corruption that makes her absolutely a total nonoption for me.

            The fact that Hillary skated past indictment in the email scandal is not a point in her favor. It should terrify everyone who cares about equal application of law and policy. It should terrify everyone who cares about having an impartial FBI and judiciary that is not beholden to political pressure.

            Repeat the same general option-1-or-2 choice for every other scandal Hillary escaped by the skin of her teeth while colleagues and underlings variously were driven out of politics and public life forever, went to prison (some later got pardoned by Bill as he left office, how nice of him!), or committed suicide.

            If the cattle futures scandal was by itself, it would already be damning, in my eyes (which are the eyes that matter when determining my vote). But when you compound that scandal with every other scandal… either Hillary has such phenomenally bad luck with getting into extremely scandalous situations as to beggar belief, or, much more probably, she is getting into scandalous situations because of a pattern of scandalous behavior – criminal behavior.

            So I have to ask, what do you believe? Again, it beggars belief to think all of Hillary’s scandals are coincidences. So, barring that, you must think they have some common cause. Is it the vast right-wing conspiracy, or is it Hillary Clinton’s own illegal behavior?

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Earthly Knight

            I’ve got mostly a grammar quibble.

            This is now twice in fifteen minutes I’ve been referred to a Wikipedia article about Hillary’s cattle future trading. Here is what that very article says about her wrongdoing

            From what the quote says, I suppose your “her wrongdoing” was short for “her alleged wrongdoing”.

          • anon says:

            Every one of the things Anon listed is a criminal violation. Not all of them have been proved in court, but in each case there is convincing (to some) evidence that HRC committed the act in question — including the element of intent which is a necessary component of the crime for some but not all of the cases.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            “That boy and his friends have cried ‘Wolf!’ twenty times, but when we look we find no wolf.”

            “Obviously there’s a magic satanic werewolf.”

            “Er, we know the boy and his friends exist, and they have motive for the false cries.”

            “So we have a cage match between Occam and Bayes? — Say it isn’t so!”

          • hlynkacg says:

            50′ on Occam.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Hillary just happened to be at the center of a coincidence of astronomical odds

            What do you think makes the odds that she earned the money licitly “astronomical”? Why, if the odds were so low, did the investigators who reviewed the matter not find any evidence of wrongdoing?

            Again, it beggars belief to think all of Hillary’s scandals are coincidences.

            I do not think they are coincidences, I think they are mostly the product of three decades worth of rumors and smears targeting the Clintons. Are you really impressed by the raw number of allegations against Hillary? Obama, for comparison, has been accused of having been born in Kenya, having been born in Indonesia, secretly being a Muslim, secretly being an atheist, secretly being a Marxist, secretly wanting the terrorists to win, secretly being the anti-christ… Are we to conclude from the fact that so many people are willing to believe absurd lies about him sans evidence that at least some of the accusations must be true? Or should the fact that he is the target of so many wild conspiracy theories instead lead us to place very little credence in each new allegation unless compelling evidence can be adduced in its favor?

          • Jill says:

            Earthly Knight, how about it all meaning that we are immersed in Right Wing propaganda 24/7/365, which means that the Right Wing controls almost everything i.e. both Houses of Congress, most governorships, most state legislatures, and SCOTUS until Scalia died.

            America’s “most trusted news source” is Fox News, which tells one lie after another.

            And propaganda works. As Goebbels said “Say something once and it’s a lie, say it twice and it’s a lie, say it 1000X and it’s an eternal truth.” Well, how many times have Obama and Hillary been accused of preposterous things?

            Obama has been bashed for his whole 2 terms. And Hillary has been bashed for decades now. Is it any surprise that she has been bashed for unproven allegations of wrongdoing in cattle futures trading that occurred 40 years ago? Of course it’s no surprise. There is no end to this. Of course people believe awful accusations about both Obama and Hillary. These accusations have been made well over 1000X.

            That’s why millennials don’t like Hillary. She has been bashed for their entire life times. So there must be a reason, right? They have guessed that the reason is that she is really untrustworthy. When actually the reason is that we are all immersed constantly in Right Wing propaganda. So every high profile Democrat has been bashed incessantly.

          • Anon says:

            @Earthly Knight
            Read more carefully. There WERE no investigators on the cattle future trading scandal!

            As for your other point – the existence of false allegations does not bar the possibility of true ones. One thing people forget about the boy who cried wolf is how the fable ends – a real wolf eats the boy. The fact that the boy made false claims about the presence of wolves did not mean that there were no wolves.

            The fact that there are false allegations made against the Clintons – and every politician of any prominence – all the time, does not in any way diminish the established facts which strongly support the case for Hillary and Bill’s guilt in many, many cases.

            For instance, it might sound crazy to suggest that Hillary Clinton would wholesale make up being attacked by snipers. And yet, she did. That is a fact. It is an accusation made against Hillary that is 100% absolutely ironclad true. Because it really is true, it really did happen, she really did do that. There are videos of her stating she was attacked by snipers while landing in Bosnia. Then there are videos of her landing in Bosnia, where she is not attacked by sniper fire.

            She lied. Unless you have a very, very different opinion of what constitutes lying from what I do. I guess it all depends on what your definition of of “is” is, right? Or maybe you believe her additional lies about “misremembering” the event. Would you accept that excuse from anyone else? Do you really, in your heart of hearts, believe that Hillary believes that? And if you do, do you really then think it isn’t an issue for our next president to be the type of person who wholesale confabulates sniper attacks in foreign countries? That kind of mismatch between memory and reality is almost as damning as a lie would be – and it’s funny how often that happens with Hillary.

            I mean, if you really believe Hillary’s lies in her testimony to the FBI about her email servers, you’re forced to concede that she has substantial memory problems and probable long term mental impairment and degradation due to neural trauma. Is Hillary afflicted by a strange form of brain damage that only affects incriminating memories while not appearing to influence her public speaking at all, or is she just a liar? What is more likely? What is REALLY more likely? I can lead you to water, but I can’t make you drink. What kind of prior probability distribution could you possibly have to think that Hillary’s fantastic and every-growing excuses are more likely to be truth than the alternative of her simply lying? How can you even function in everyday life with such a prior. Unless, of course, you’re applying a double standard and favoring Hillary in situations where any other person would be rightly condemned.

            Similarly, it might be difficult to believe a sitting president would perjure himself before Congress over a matter that was not even illegal (or certainly less illegal than perjury), but Bill did. He did. It’s a fact. You can’t just ignore this fact because other some other accusations weren’t true. You don’t get acquitted of one crime by being found not guilty of another.

            If Bill was willing to perjure himself over something not even illegal, why should we ever trust any testimony he makes, sworn or otherwise, when the stakes are much, much higher? Same for Hillary, who has also committed perjury. (And yes, SHE HAS.)

            But to bring it back to the cattle futures scandal – unlike many other scandals, I don’t have 100% ironclad proof of Hillary’s guilt. Instead, I only have the facts of the situation which are known, which strongly suggest, but do not guarantee, her guilt. I believe she is guilty. If you do not believe the facts of the case suggest her guilt, well, I think you are engaging in extremely (extremely extremely) motivated reasoning. Unfortunately, we’ll never know for certain, because there WAS NO INVESTIGATION (And please remember that given the KNOWN facts of the case, this is in itself highly irregular).

            Fortunately, with Hillary Clinton, you have numerous other scandals that are much more damning to choose from! How about those emails? How about those interview transcripts (what ones we are allowed to see) where Hillary claims to “not remember” a very large number of basic facts? Are you really that gullible? Are you really that desperate for Trump to lose that you will believe such outrageous lies?

            Feel free to support Hillary over Trump. I understand it. I really do. I highly respect Scott irrespective of his support of Hillary. But please, for your own sake, don’t pretend she’s something she’s not. She IS a criminal, and a liar. That’s just the way things are. It may be that our choices are between two criminals and liars. If that is so, then we should admit it. But, you’re using politics to kill your own rational faculties here.

            If Hillary was a politician in another country that you didn’t live in, and you had access to the same set of facts about her behavior, would you really, truly believe that she is totally innocent of all misbehavior? How can you, when there is documented proof of lies, video proof of lies, recorded testimony of lies, and – everywhere and always – evasion and dissimulation?

            Hillary’s lies are established reality. I lived through them from when I first heard of her in the 90s to now. Hillary’s dishonesty is not some new revelation I’ve come to in this election. It’s been a known quantity for some time. Even the Washington Post publishes on it https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/hillary-clinton-who-tells-dreadful-lies/2016/09/19/cd38412e-7e6a-11e6-9070-5c4905bf40dc_story.html

            Anyway, if you are going to continue to deny obvious reality because it’s inconvenient to your political orientation, I don’t really see any point of continuing this conversation. And Hillary’s dishonesty and misconduct IS reality. I don’t know what more I can do. You ask for compelling evidence. What more compelling evidence can be had than videos of Hillary saying things that are in direct contradiction to other videos of real events? I can lay out the case – material facts, recorded testimony, means, motive, opportunity – over and over. I can show you the impossibility of some of Hillary’s defenses, and then show you recordings of her contradicting her own excuses. I can show you a hundred first hand accounts of outrageous and criminal behavior on Hillary’s behalf. But if you’re just going to point to completely different cases, and value Hillary’s own testimony and campaign statements more than any amount of hard evidence, then there’s no point. I can’t reach into your brain and make you see reality.

            I get the feeling that if even a feather’s fraction of the weight of evidence that is arrayed against Hillary was arrayed against Trump, you would think it was very compelling indeed.

            Remember when Hillary left the 9/11 memorial because she was feeling faint? Then when the video came out, we learned it was more that she actually fainted. If that video had never came out, and we only had eyewitness testimony to go on, would you label me a conspiracy theorist for believe the (true) testimony of numerous uncoordinated and unmotivated individuals over the (false) statements put out by Hillary’s campaign? In this particularly circumstance, we fortunately have video evidence which settles the matter. And it clearly showed that Hillary’s campaign lied at best or at least dissembled.

            Remember when Hillary’s poor health was a wild conspiracy theory?

            Earlier, you were stating that the existence of false accusations against Hillary Clinton should make me very cautious about accepting new ones. Counter-Question: shouldn’t the existence of verifiable TRUE accusations also make YOU much more cautious about taking Hillary at her word? Shouldn’t the numerous cases of Hillary actually lying make you more suspicious of her in the future?

            And @Jill
            If the right wing conspiracy is so powerful and vast, how did Trump beat it into the ground so easily?

            As for the media being Pro-Trump – I’ll just point to what I said To Earthly Knight about you clearly inhabiting a different reality from the rest of us. The pro-Clinton narrative selling has been relentless from the vast majority of media sources. I’ve personally seen CNN pass off Clinton campaign statements as objective fact (in headlines!), without even mentioning that they were, in fact, campaign statements.

            But I do absolutely agree that we are surrounded by propaganda. I just think it comes from both sides. Everyone has an angle. Don’t think that your side has a monopoly on virtue. There are people who lie for the left and there are people who lie for the right.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @Anon

            Read more carefully. There WERE no investigators on the cattle future trading scandal!

            There was no official investigation, presumably because the scandal came to light some fifteen years after the trades took place. But, again, the Wikipedia article says this:

            After the Rodham trading matter became public, Leo Melamed, a former chairman of the Mercantile Exchange, was brought in by request of the White House to review the trading records. On April 11, 1994, he said that the whole matter was “a tempest in a teapot” and that while her brokers had not required her to provide typical margin cushions, she had not knowingly benefited.[9] On May 26, 1994, after the new records concerning the larger Blair trades came to light, he said “I have no reason to change my original assessment. Mrs. Clinton violated no rules in the course of her transactions.”[14] But as to the question of whether she had been allocated profits from larger block trades, he said of the new accounting, “It doesn’t suggest that there was allocation, and it doesn’t prove there wasn’t,”[15] an assessment of uncertainty shared by Merton Miller, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

            Remember when Hillary’s poor health was a wild conspiracy theory?

            Yes, and it remains so.

            Other things:
            –I agree that Hillary has undoubtedly lied about things in the past. But you didn’t accuse her of being a liar, you accused her of being a criminal.
            –If you think she perjured herself in connection with the FBI email investigation you will have to provide evidence to that effect.
            –I have no idea why you’re talking about Bill Clinton.

          • Anon says:

            @Earthly Knight
            You really don’t see how Bill Clinton’s actions as president aren’t relevant to discussing Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy and character?

            Hillary Clinton, at least, disagrees with you.

            You are not arguing in good faith.

            As to the email testimony – the evidence is the testimony itself which contradicts the facts of the case and the previous statements. You are clearly not arguing in good faith. Why not also ask me to present evidence that the Monica Lewinsky scandal even happened? It’s just as big a story and an established fact as Clinton’s ridiculous answers during the FBI testimony. I literally can not believe you are unaware of it, so I’m pretty sure you are having me on.

            Please stop.

            In case you really have been living under some kind of boulder, here http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/08/16/house_oversight_committee_hillary_clinton_committed_perjury_statements_contradict_comey.html

            If you’re really going to continue to argue that Hillary Clinton did not perjure herself when there are literally sworn statements of hers that are blatantly false, in public record, for everyone to see… there is no point in having continued conversation with you. No evidence I could possibly present could sway you, because your viewpoint is not based on reality.

            You do not seem to care about the truth as much as you care about protecting your vision of Hillary Clinton. If something is true, don’t you want to believe it?

            ——

            Finally, regarding the Cattle Futures Trading Scandal coming to light long after the events – Are you really not getting that this is, again, completely in line with the hypothesis that it was bribery and that the involved players tried to keep it hidden?

            Finally, finally, regarding Clinton’s health:
            You really think that it is unreasonable for someone to have questions about her health after the video of her literally collapsing surfaced? It’s conspiracy theory tier reasoning to even have QUESTIONS about it? Hillary’s multiple and changing explanations are so completely, obviously, manifestly true that to even question them is evidence of delusion?

            Again, mate, please. Stop. You are arguing in bad faith. It’s insulting, to both of us.

            Anyway, if you still won’t admit the simple truth that Clinton committed perjury (and not even just one time), there is no point in our continued conversation. We inhabit different realities, and no evidence I could present could possibly sway you. It was fun, at least.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            If you’re really going to continue to argue that Hillary Clinton did not perjure herself when there are literally sworn statements of hers that are blatantly false, in public record, for everyone to see…

            You seem quite certain that Hillary committed perjury, but based on what you’ve said, I’m not confident that you even know what perjury is. Tell me, do you think that everyone who makes a “sworn statement” that is “blatantly false” commits perjury?

            Are you really not getting that this is, again, completely in line with the hypothesis that it was bribery and that the involved players tried to keep it hidden?

            The investigations noted in the wikipedia article returned no evidence of wrongdoing. I agree that this is consistent with the hypothesis that the investigators were part of some larger conspiracy, but I do not see that you’ve given any independent reason to think the conspiracy hypothesis is true.

            Hillary’s multiple and changing explanations are so completely, obviously, manifestly true that to even question them is evidence of delusion?

            What do you think that Hillary has said about the incident that’s untrue? Your comments have an extremely high ratio of wild allegations to actual evidence. Try and do it the other way around, where you produce the evidence first and only then proceed to level the accusation.

          • “The investigations noted in the wikipedia article returned no evidence of wrongdoing.”

            The quoted conclusion with regard to the particular wrongdoing she is accused of was that one could not tell if it was true or not. The clearest evidence is the very low probability that she could have been so successful by skill or chance, combined with the lack of evidence either before or after that she had any skills in playing the futures market. Also the lack of any other explanation of why she would have tried.

          • Anon says:

            @Earthly Knight
            Yes, if you knowingly submit a sworn statement that is untrue, you have committed perjury. If you knowingly give false testimony under oath, you also commit perjury. Hillary has done both these things.

            As I’ve mentioned, it’s not even up for debate whether or not she’s given false testimony under oath. She has. The fact that she has made contradictory statements under oath logically require that this be the case even if we knew absolutely nothing else about the world.

            Since I’m psychic, I know your next argument is going to be about whether she knowingly told lies, or just “misremembered” numerous facts, multiple times, in such a way that just happened to avoid admitting wrongdoing. Since I lied about being psychic (fortunately, I wasn’t under oath), I can’t say with 100% certainty that she did. Similarly, I can’t say with 100% certainty that there isn’t a flower-patterned teapot in an orbit somewhere between the Earth and Sun.

            Certainly, the considerable evidence that Hillary Clinton committed perjury is convincing to me, and, I believe, convincing to anyone looking at it with clear eyes.

            But I am now just rehashing arguments I’ve already made, that you haven’t addressed or even seemed to apprehend.

            I don’t think I can get through to you. I hope one day you decide becoming slightly less wrong in reality is more important than being slightly more right in an argument. When that day comes, we can continue our discussion. Until then, there is no further purpose to our communication.

            All I will say is that at every turn, you’ve requested evidence and expansion on points I’ve made that really shouldn’t have been controversial because they’re common knowledge, or at least easy to look up on your own. And, against my better judgement because I suspected you were baiting me, I’ve continually provided this, only for you to shift the goalposts and request yet further expansion on, again, easily researched points. And now, at last, you’ve retreated to asking me to provide definitions of words.

            You know, you never did answer my question about what the definition of “is” is.

            You’re trying to deflect the argument away from Hillary Clinton’s perjury by grasping at any possible point of ambiguity you can find. But the unambiguous truth, which will never change no matter how badly you wish it would, is that Hillary Clinton has committed perjury – by which I mean, just to clear up any confusion, she has knowingly made false statements under a legal oath where knowingly making false statements constitutes the crime of perjury.

            Anyway, I probably won’t be replying again. You have successfully convinced me of your bad faith well enough that I have concluded it is not worth the time to try and argue with you further. In some sense, this is a victory for you, because you’ll have the last word, so congratulations are in order. But you know, you would have saved us both a lot of time if you’d just come out and said that you were never willing to change your mind in the first place.

      • Pat Robertson says:

        Character matters![1]

        [1] Not applicable in all decades. Void where prohibited. We reserve the right to support an unrepentant serial philander.

        • Jill says:

          Well, you have to have priorities here, regarding character. E.g. lying about a blow job, horrible, impeachment material! Lying about weapons of mass destruction and getting the U.S. into a bloody expensive war based on those lies, for the purpose of enriching Halliburton — no problem at all there.

          • hlynkacg says:

            The irony of course is that you will make this argument and then turn around a week later and complain about “rape culture”.

          • Anon says:

            I’m not Pat Robertson, but I’ll bite.

            Yes, perjuring yourself to Congress is an impeachable offense. The fact that Bill perjured himself over something so trivial actually almost makes it worse. If Bill was willing to commit OUTRIGHT PERJURY BEFORE CONGRESS over a blowjob, how the hell can Congress or the American people ever believe anything he says in sworn testimony again? Perjury from a Commander-in-Chief is corrosive and deadly to the system of trust our government is based upon. What he committed perjury over barely even matters.

            As for the Iraq War, why are you assuming Pat Robertson doesn’t think that Bush, Cheney, and others SHOULD have been investigated, and likely impeached and charged? I certainly do. Believe it or not, there are people who dislike the establishments of both the right AND the left!

            Somebody major actually going to prison over misconduct in office is long overdue. Lock them up.

          • E. Harding says:

            “Lying about weapons of mass destruction and getting the U.S. into a bloody expensive war based on those lies, for the purpose of enriching Halliburton”

            -Hey; Jill, who was the guy (now major-party nominee) who advocated Bush be impeached for that back during the late Bush era? Not Hillary Clinton.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ blue and white Anon
            If Bill was willing to commit OUTRIGHT PERJURY BEFORE CONGRESS over a blowjob, how the hell can Congress or the American people ever believe anything he says in sworn testimony again?

            This statement starts out sounding Deontological but finishes at Consequential. However, puncturing the Deontological collapses the Consequential as well.

            Bill’s mistress, Monica Lewinsky, had sworn that they did not “have sex” — for which she was being threatened with a perjury charge. So Bill backed up her story. Following the grand old Ruritanian ethic, he risked a perjury charge himself, to protect his mistress and his wife.

            how the hell can Congress or the American people ever believe anything he says in sworn testimony again?

            Now, what percentage of the American people would that be? What about the people who share Bill’s ethic of protecting one’s mistress by taking a risk himself?

            During the Impeachment hurrah, Bill’s ‘Job Approval’ rating kept climbing, ~65% iirc. If that metric applies to perjury vs throwing Monica to the wolves Impeachers, that would leave ~35% to possibly share your opinion.

  65. RCF says:

    You claim there’s a 1/60 million chance of breaking a tie, and provide a link, but the link really doesn’t explain where that number came from. It just says “we ran a bunch of simulations”. Since the simulations presumably had the 1/60 million chance implicitly baked into them, this is just begging the question.

    I’m willing to consider the possibility that I’m missing something, but this sure looks like you’ve failed to apply basic common sense. If 130 million people vote, and they each have on average 1/60 million chance to break a tie, then that’s a total of 2.16 chances of breaking a tie. Now, there’s a lot of ambiguity as to what “average” means (arithmetic? geometric? harmonic?), which is another major flaw of the claim (in this sort of situation, you really can’t just say “average” and pretend that has any clear meaning), and arguably the chance isn’t additive, but still. The idea that the probability of a particular person breaking a tie is the same order of magnitude, let alone greater than, one divided by the number of voters, is preposterous.

    • pku says:

      Given a close election, it should actually be significantly higher than one divided by the number of voters (somewhere on the order of 1/(sigma*sqrt(n)), where n is the number of voters and sigma is the variance). The reason for that if that most of the vote distribution is concentrated towards the centre of the bell curve.
      Of course, this assumes an election in dead heat. If the election is expected to be a comfortable win, these odds are much lower (since votes determining the election are on the tail).

      For example: Assume a binomial distribution with 2n votes. Then if one side wins by one vote, about n people cast the critical vote. The odds of this happening are (2n C n)/4^n ~ 1/(sqrt(pi*n)), so the expected number of critical votes is 2n/sqrt(pi*n). Given 2n votes, for each person, the probability that their vote will be crucial is about 1/sqrt(pi*n).

    • “I’m willing to consider the possibility that I’m missing something”

      You are missing the difference between average and marginal.

      Suppose a million people vote and the election is so close that the margin is zero to ten votes one way or the other, with the probability uniformly distributed. The chance that it will be 0 or +1, in which case a -1 will change the outcome (break a tie or make one), is 2/21. Similarly for a +1 vote.

      • RCF says:

        Looking at the situation, I went between thinking it was obvious that half a million people can’t all be credited as “breaking the tie”, and thinking that it was just as obvious that it doesn’t make sense to not accept that. Strange how opposing idea can seem so clear. After going back and forth several times, it does seem like 1/n is a good order of magnitude approximation. Given the large amount of Knightian uncertainty, anything more precise may be inappropriate.

        Another situation occurred to me:

        Suppose there’s a country that has 3 states, each states has 3 counties, each county has three cities, each city has three precincts, and each precinct has three people. And suppose that in this country, each subdivision works like the electoral college does: whichever candidate wins a precinct gets all of the votes for that precinct, etc.

        Then even though there are 243 voters, each voter has up to 1/32 chance of breaking a tie. I’m still having trouble grokking this.

  66. Jaskologist says:

    I’m a conservative Evangelical, pretty much exactly the sort of person who is very uncomfortable with Trump, but strongly suspecting that the Democrats really are that much worse, so probably right in the middle of your target audience here. This post failed to reach me where my concerns actually are. Let me give you a little excerpt from Ace (himself not a Christian at all, iirc) which I think captures it well:

    As you’re no doubt aware, the Office of Civil Rights pressured colleges into instituting Rape Kangaroo Courts through a “Dear Colleague” letter that essentially threatened to cut off their federal funding if they did not strictly enforce the OCR’s new reading of Title IX.

    Increasingly, the federal government is enacting laws it could never actually enact through constitutional means by simply threatening to withdraw funds if targeted organizations do not obey the de facto law they are now illegally announcing, and then relying on the indulgence of the courts to make it all look street-legal.

    This will not only continue under Hillary Clinton — it will accelerate.

    Also note this: Every bizarre idea you see pushed by the left becomes the accepted law of the land within two to three years.

    Before the left began demanding Christians bake them bake cakes, the idea of such a thing was insane, and anyone who argued that the gay marriage law would wind up compelling people to participate in gay marriages was ridiculed as a paranoid conspiracy theorist.

    Yet two years later, those paranoid conspiracy theories became the law of the land.

    Right now we’re seeing various localities make it a crime to “misgender” people.

    You think Hillary’s government is going to stay out of that racket? Or do you think it’s likely that some more Dear Colleague letters will issue and that will become the law of the land in two or three years?

    Never forget, the left must continue picking fights with the right in order to keep its voters voting. Even if everyone on the right accepts gay marriage, but adds “But you can’t force churces to participate,” what do you think the left’s next move is?

    The left must now begin agitating to force churches to perform gay marriage. For if they don’t — if they simply leave the policy as it is — then what can they offer their supporters? How can they differentiate themselves from the right (who, in this hypothetical, accepts gay marriage except in the churches)?

    That’s the high-variance we’re worried about. We can’t get worked up about very hypothetical (and I think far-fetched) Russian attacks when your party is actively attacking us right now in our livelihoods, our churches, and even our bathrooms. We don’t worry about potentially “eroding the foundations of civil society” when we see you* going at the foundations we’re standing on with a sledgehammer. The Left is now very actively and explicitly campaigning against the notion of religious liberty (a foundation of our society, and a move at high variance from the previous Clinton position). Can you really tell me this won’t accelerate with Hillary’s election? Can you even predict what the left’s “new civil rights movement” will be four years from now that we’ll all be expected to bow before?

    *Not you specifically, of course, but your tribe.

    • Earthly Knight says:

      Right now we’re seeing various localities make it a crime to “misgender” people.

      This sounds flagrantly unconstitutional. Do you have any evidence that this is happening?

      your party is actively attacking us right now in our livelihoods, our churches, and even our bathrooms.

      The “attacks” you’re talking about are, I take it, metaphorical. I’m not sure what Russian attacks you’re contrasting these with, but I can guarantee you that the Russians do not attack with metaphors.

      the Left is now very actively and explicitly campaigning against the notion of religious liberty

      You seem to be worked up, in substantial part, about bakers being legally required to make cakes for gay couples. But it is illegal, also, to refuse to bake a cake for an interracial couple for religious reasons, and has been for many years. Does this also qualify as taking a “sledgehammer” to the very “notion of religious liberty”? If not, what, in your view, is the difference?

      • E. Harding says:

        “Does this also qualify as taking a “sledgehammer” to the very “notion of religious liberty”?”

        -Absolutely.

      • A. says:

        Re: misgendering.

        I can’t seem to find the link to the corresponding pdf anymore, and the above description is lacking specifics. The intent seems clear, though.

        I’m not ready to bet that the Supreme Court will believe this to be unconstitutional if the liberal president gets to put some more SJWs on it.

      • Earthly Knight says:

        http://www.snopes.com/transgender-pronouns-fine-nyc/

        Apparently, the law is that if a business owner goes around deliberately and repeatedly misgendering one of her employees, she can be fined for workplace discrimination, in much the same way that a business owner who persists in calling his female employees “sweetpuss” or “skank-knickers” might be fined for workplace discrimination. Amusing that hysteria has transformed this into “localities mak[ing] it a crime to “misgender” people.”

        • Where “misgender” means, apparently, referring to someone by other than that person’s chosen gender identity. So if I refer to someone who is physically male by all the usual criteria but considers himself female as “him” and keep doing it, I am in violation of the law and at risk of a fine of up to $250,000.

          Nothing in the Snopes article implies that it is limited to business owners.

          “Examples of Violations a. Intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun or title. For example, repeatedly calling a transgender woman “him” or “Mr.” after she has made clear which pronouns and title she uses.”

          Sounds pretty outrageous to me.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            The text of the legal guidance refers to “employers, landlords, businesses and professionals,” so commercial relationships only.

            Are you also outraged by laws forbidding business owners from referring to their female employees as “skank-knickers”?

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Sounds pretty outrageous to me.

            Absolutely.

            But consider the upside: it might finally rid us of the tiresome trope of coaches and top sergeants insulting their trainees by calling them “ladies”.

        • Anonymous says:

          calling his female employees “sweetpuss” or “skank-knickers”

          Frankly, prohibitions on such speech is Constitutionally problematic. I’m personally alright with them just enough to hold my nose, but there is a clear difference between that and laws on misgendering. The law on misgendering requires that you express particular gendered language, which is inextricably linked to a particular ideology. Here, the Court has been unambiguously clear:

          If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.

        • Deiseach says:

          The law covers all kinds of gender stereotyping which it is outlawing, and there is more to it than just “if Susan tells you she is Susan, you must call her ‘Susan’ and use ‘she’ and ‘her’ if she works for you”. That’s probably reasonable enough, but there does appear to be some room where confusion could arise, or at least Susan could decide to make a formal complaint over a once-off incident (see part bolded below):

          All people, including employees, tenants, customers, and participants in programs, have the right to use their preferred name regardless of whether they have identification in that name or have obtained a court-ordered name change, except in very limited circumstances where certain federal, state, or local laws require otherwise (e.g., for purposes of employment eligibility verification with the federal government). Asking someone their preferred gender pronoun and preferred name is not a violation of the NYCHRL.

          Examples of Violations

          – Intentional or repeated refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun or title. For example, repeatedly calling a transgender woman “him” or “Mr.” after she has made clear which pronouns and title she uses.

          Refusal to use an individual’s preferred name, pronoun, or title because they do not conform to gender stereotypes. For example, calling a woman “Mr.” because her appearance is aligned with traditional gender-based stereotypes of masculinity.

          – Conditioning an individual’s use of their preferred name on obtaining a court-ordered name change or providing identification in that name. For example, a covered entity may not refuse to call a transgender woman her preferred name, Jane, because her identification says that her first name is John.

          – Requiring an individual to provide information about their medical history or proof of having undergone particular medical procedures in order to use their preferred name, pronoun, or title.

          Covered entities may avoid violations of the NYCHRL by creating a policy of asking everyone what their preferred gender pronoun is so that no individual is singled out for such questions and by updating their systems to allow all individuals to self-identify their names and genders. They should not limit the options for identification to male and female only.

          If people do not need to have medically transitioned or be in the process of transitioning to have the right to be identified as their preferred gender, and if Susan still looks like John (her dead name), and if you are an employee in a hotel, a taxi driver or some other public entity that is meeting Susan for the first time and you don’t know that Susan is now Susan but are unlucky enough to say “Mr Jones?” instead of “Ms Jones?”, Susan could decide to formally complain about gender-based harassment, and does anyone think that Susan will be the one told to cop herself on and not make a mountain out of a molehill here, or that it is the non-intentionally offensive person who will be pilloried for their horrendous lack of sensitivity?

          • Iain says:

            From Earthly Knight’s link:

            For instance, an individual who simply mistakenly uses the wrong pronoun when referring to a transgender individual will not be fined under the new law. However, a person who intentionally and repeatedly refuses to use an individual’s preferred pronoun would be subject to fines.

          • Tom Crispin says:

            What happens if someone claims that his? her? it’s? xir? their? ?? preferred name is “Lord and Master?” And, further, since gender is a social construct, that preferred name is in fact gender-based?

            Follow up: I wrote the above before seeing this: “His Majesty” as a preferred pronoun:

            “LinK” button didn’t work: see reason.com/blog

          • Gazeboist says:

            @Deiseach

            “Refusal” seems to pretty clearly protect genuine mistakes; I’d be surprised to see a US court rule otherwise.

            @Tom Crispin

            Vermin Supreme doesn’t seem to get much pushback over his name, so, I’m not really seeing the problem.

          • Deiseach says:

            No, Iain, what Earthly Knight is referring to is covered in the first example of a violation: “intentional or repeated refusal”.

            What I’m talking about is the second example, where it says nothing about “intentional or repeated”, merely “refusal…because they do not conform to gender stereotypes” and the example it gives is “calling a woman “Mr” because she looks masculine”.

            I think there is the possibility there that someone who is unaware the person they just met is transgender, and who unintentionally misgenders them, could be the subject of a complaint if the person misgendered feels aggrieved enough. And I think the climate being fostered is intended to be supportive, to encourage people to come forward with complaints no matter how trivial they may seem, in order to express support. And places like taxis and hotels are included. So if Mr and Ms Jones reserve a hotel room, and it turns out the person you assumed was Mr Jones (going by appearance the first time you set eyes on them) is Ms Jones, you the employee may be the subject of a complaint if Ms Jones feels prickly enough about it – and why wouldn’t she? You’ve just violated her human right to be correctly gendered, NYC guarantees it to her!

          • Iain says:

            A “refusal” to do something necessarily implies that you were presented with the opportunity to do otherwise. If you want to ignore the actual wording of the law because running around playing Chicken Little is more fun, I won’t stand in your way.

      • Jaskologist says:

        I was thinking specifically of the vocal opposition to Religious Freedom Restoration Acts. The original federal one was passed by Clinton and the overwhelming majority of Congress back when Democrats still controlled that branch.

        Here’s Clinton’s speech on that signing:

        We all have a shared desire here to protect perhaps the most precious of all American liberties, religious freedom. Usually the signing of legislation by a President is a ministerial act, often a quiet ending to a turbulent legislative process. Today this event assumes a more majestic quality because of our ability together to affirm the historic role that people of faith have played in the history of this country and the constitutional protections those who profess and express their faith have always demanded and cherished.

        The free exercise of religion has been called the first freedom, that which originally sparked the development of the full range of the Bill of Rights. Our Founders cared a lot about religion. And one of the reasons they worked so hard to get the first amendment into the Bill of Rights at the head of the class is that they well understood what could happen to this country, how both religion and Government could be perverted if there were not some space created and some protection provided. They knew that religion helps to give our people the character without which a democracy cannot survive. They knew that there needed to be a space of freedom between Government and people of faith that otherwise Government might usurp.

  67. TomFL says:

    I voted 400 times in Florida in 2000, you can’t tell me my vote doesn’t count. Thank goodness we didn’t have voter / ID laws. That was a long day.

  68. A. says:

    Could the endorsement post actually be a follow-up to the AI persuasion experiment, or would that be too obvious?

  69. Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

    The voting choices of very many people (including me) are largely conditioned more by family preferences than by individual preferences. That is why, during the last week, my family’s voting preferences have crystallized around “anyone but Trump”.

    The reason is simple: Trump’s gone off his teleprompter. And without his teleprompter to restrain him, the Donald just can’t stop himself from offending broad swathes of my family group. E.g., right now the unscripted Trump is been busily offending my family’s women (both younger and older), hispanics, folks who struggle with weight loss, and folks whose marriages are or have been troubled.

    These Trumpish patterns of abuse create a dislike of Trump that is personal rather than political, familial rather than individual, and visceral rather than rational.

    Our family sticks together, as most families do, and a politician that offends one of us offends all of us. This is an irretrievable Trump-negative that Scott’s essay doesn’t mention.

    Turning the teleprompter back on won’t help … our family has seen too clearly what the “real” Mr. Trump is like when the teleprompter’s off. Namely, Trump’s an abuser.

    If Hillary receives the unified family votes, while Trump gets the solitary / angry / abusive / alchoholic votes, then look forward to President Hillary. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, compared with (what our family regards as) the insufferably disrespectful family-insulting predilections of Mr. Trump.

    • E. Harding says:

      If only married people were allowed to vote, Trump would win in a landsdlide.

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        @ E. Harding
        If only married people were allowed to vote, Trump would win in a landsdlide.

        Do he, Guillieani, etc get an additional vote for each wife?

    • pku says:

      And without his teleprompter to restrain him, the Donald just can’t stop himself from offending huge swathes of my family group. E.g., right now the unscripted Trump is been busily offending my family’s women both young and old, hispanics, folks who struggle with weight loss, and folks whose marriages are or have been troubled.

      Not to mention his reference to 400-pound hackers. This may seem minor, but I’m completely sick of negative nerd stereotypes and was hoping we were getting past them (neither Obama nor Bush would have said something like this). Do we really want to go back to the time when mocking nerds as overweight was socially acceptable (much more so than it is now)?

      • Anonymous says:

        his reference to 400-pound hackers

        What about it? I think most people are reading his statement entirely incorrectly. He said:

        it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?

        The structure of this statement is the direct opposite of how you interpret it. He’s clearly discussing the wide diversity of threats in the cyber realm. This is a pretty unarguable truth, and one that cybersecurity researchers have harped on for years – threats in cyberspace can be anyone, anywhere, with a variety of motivations (from protecting national interests to criminal intent to lulz), and capabilities immeasurable by visual inspection (you don’t have to have 500 tanks show up on a satellite image; a couple guys with control of a massive botnet might be sufficient).

        Instead, people want to imagine that he was talking about hackers as a class… and then imagine that he shoved them all in the final category of three exhaustive options. This is just ridiculous. He gave no indication as to the relative size of this particular category of threat (as opposed to, say, Hillary claiming that 50% of Donald’s supporters are a basket of deplorable). You just have to completely invert the statement to get it to say what you want it to say.

    • Alex S says:

      I would also find it hard to vote for someone that my family was pretty unified in being against. But they’re fairly evenly split. And did you mean more your close family, or your extended family? Do you have any Republicans among those?

      • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

        In my extended family, Trump’s abuse of younger women has turned the senior women against him; and now the sons and brothers of the senior women are following suit.

        To a often-hilarious degree, our family’s political dynamics is straight out of Chimpanzee Politics; the alpha males depend absolutely upon the endorsement and long-term support of the alpha females.

        Trump’s marriages have always entailed the isolation of younger females from older females — Trump tolerates no alpha-female matriarchs in his personal life — this is an fundamental and irretrievable (yet unspoken) reason why women both older and younger instinctively distrust Trump, and conversely, why alt*weird males are strongly attracted to Trump.

        Hillary understands, better than Donald does, the crucial role in human politics of alpha-female / alpha-male coalitions; in particular Clinton’s campaign is deftly exposing and politically exploiting Trump’s (Weiner-style) psychosocial atypicality.

        As for Republican-versus-Democrat, pretty much everyone in my family votes tactically rather than ideologically; the senior alpha females have the most influential voices; and (for obvious reasons) they are finding nothing attractive in Trump.

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          @ Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie
          votes tactically rather than ideologically

          Please unpack that a little?

          • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

            tactically == “With a pragmatic view to (1) the merits of candidates considered individually, and (2) the overall message conveyed to political parties.”

            One such message being “Don’t nominate 3:00 am loose-cannon misogynists like Trump.”

            In consequence of previous elections, we receive a stream of fund-raising mail from Trump’s campaign; in consequent of Trump’s evident misogyny, those Trump fund-appeals are perversely eliciting donations to HRC.

            Women smile while they do this … they have a keen appreciation of which candidates genuinely like women, and which don’t. 🙂

            Tactical lesson: don’t diss the women of any family.

  70. Jill says:

    As much as I would like to see the Dems take back at least one House of Congress, I don’t think they will. The Right Wing propaganda we are constantly all immersed in will probably keep the GOP in control of both Houses of Congress, most governorships, and most state legislatures. The only reason the Dems got the presidency for Obama, is that black people generally do not watch Fox News, listen to iHeart/Clear Channel Radio, or read Right Wing web sites. And the gerrymandering doesn’t affect presidential elections as much as Congressional ones.

    Unless Hillary gets all the black votes that Obama got– an impossibility anyway because suppression of the black vote by the GOP has increased so much– there is a very real chance that we see the GOP in charge of absolutely everything in the country except the SJWs at expensive colleges and in San Francisco– oh, and of course, the mostly imaginary “liberal media” which must consist of the three people who listen to NPR regularly or read Vox.

    • E. Harding says:

      Jill, you always manage to have the worst, the most blindly (in every sense of that term) partisan, and the most inane comments here. You should get some kind of prize.

      “the mostly imaginary “liberal media” which must consist of the three people who listen to NPR regularly or read Vox”

      -Name ten daily newspapers that have endorsed a candidate other than Hillary Clinton for the general.

      I suggest Jill be banned for inanity.

      • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

        E. Harding evaluates “Jill, you always manage to have the worst, the most blindly (in every sense of that term) partisan, and the most inane comments here.”

        Sigh … always the silver medal, never the gold … guess I’ll have to redouble my own modest progressive efforts … E. Harding, we prize your evaluations! 🙂

        • E. Harding says:

          TheWorst gets silver. You don’t even get bronze.

        • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

          “Now I’m feeling blue” … ! 🙂

          Seriously, appreciation and thanks are extended to Jill for numerous sincere and thoughtful comments.

        • Moloch says:

          With the three estranged seals activated in succession, my slumber has ended.

        • TheWorst says:

          It’s kind of astonishing that E. Harding, of all people, is suddenly whining about other people being blindly partisan.

          Harding: Remember in 2012, when you knew Trump was a clown? Nothing has changed for anyone who isn’t a partisan loon. And you’re a great deal more prolific than Jill, and have a far lower signal-to-noise ratio.

          I suggest E. Harding be banned for approximately ten times as long as Jill. Just look at this page, and see how much it’d be improved if it lacked Harding’s tantrum-induced incontinence.

      • Jill says:

        “Name ten daily newspapers that have endorsed a candidate other than Hillary Clinton for the general.”

        Wow, impressive. You sure cherry picked an example that makes it look like Trump is disadvantaged in newspapers, FWIW– if anyone reads those any more, LOL. You get a cherry picking gold medal yourself.

        Just because some newspapers endorsed Hillary, that doesn’t change the fact that even those newspapers constantly publish articles that bash her over minor nothing rumors. And that Trump overall gets far far more favorable coverage in the press than Hillary does– on TV especially where most just report whatever he says, without any fact checking. And the guy lies constantly, so no fact checking is a very big advantage. And it ignores the fact that the media gave Trump 2 billion dollars worth of free media time– as of March– It’s probably much more by now.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/16/upshot/measuring-donald-trumps-mammoth-advantage-in-free-media.html?_r=0

        • E. Harding says:

          I let the above comment speak for itself to showcase the worst examples of obliviousness to all logic, fact, and reason in present-day American political discourse.

          • TheWorst says:

            Thanks! I assume you’re referring to the huge mass of E. Harding posts above, and that this one was just misplaced.

      • Scott Alexander says:

        E. Harding banned for various offenses of which this is the most immediately available right now

    • “The only reason the Dems got the presidency for Obama, is that black people generally do not watch Fox News, listen to iHeart/Clear Channel Radio, or read Right Wing web sites. ”

      How large a fraction of the 2008 vote was by blacks? On your view of the world, shouldn’t that have been almost all he got?

    • Jill I usually don’t pile on to criticisms of you because it is usually pretty unfair. But this posting is really bad.

      The Right Wing propaganda we are constantly all immersed in

      I can’t believe even you really believe this. Unless you are one of those folks who consider any media which accepts the status quo of the free market and freedom of political speech as being right wing, but I don’t think you are quite that far left.

      mostly imaginary “liberal media” which must consist of the three people who listen to NPR regularly or read Vox.

      I don’t even get your point here. It seems to imply that few people use NPR or Vox, which is clearly untrue. Although “liberal media” complaints are usually about the bigger guys like New York Times, CBS, etc. As long as one defines left and right as similar to Democrat and Republican, it is clear that most media is indeed left.

      The point about gerrymandering is the only valid comment you made.

      I think this was one of those posts for which you shouldn’t have pushed the “Post Comment” button.

      • Jill says:

        “As long as one defines left and right as similar to Democrat and Republican, it is clear that most media is indeed left.”

        Just not true at all. NYT bends over backwards to include Right Winger’s articles. Does Fox do that?

        MSNBC is now openly bragging about no longer being liberal.

        http://www.mediaite.com/online/msnbc-now-openly-bragging-about-abandoning-its-liberal-brand-in-new-ad/

        There is almost NO liberal media. If Vox and NPR are the largest organizations you can come up with as examples, what can I say?

        Thanks for piling on with the others. I appreciate the confirmation that this is no place for a non-Right-Winger to comment.

        • Cord Shirt says:

          ISTM the media are globalist, socially liberal, and economically conservative. That’s why they can seem “right-wing” to us and “liberal” to others at the same time.

          • TheWorst says:

            This doesn’t get enough attention, largely because in areas of intense tribal conflict it’s too easy to forget that a thing can have more than one trait.

            The media is in favor of whoever is in power in a given context.

          • Dain says:

            +1

            This explains why the Koch brothers are loathed by the left despite being pro-gay marriage, pro-immigrant, and pro-pot legalization. They’re also anti-union and “merchants of doubt” re: climate change. It’s the latter that’s on progressives’ radar.

      • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

        Even the point about gerrymandering is bizarrely understated: the only way it could possibly affect a presidential election is if the electoral vote from one of Maine or Nebraska’s congressional districts ends up being the deciding vote, and that state’s district vote would have split differently had the state been gerrymandered differently.

  71. Wow! 1117 comments in one day!

    I certainly haven’t read all those comments, so I may be repeating what others have already said. But I want to endorse one thing in particular that you said:

    Remember also that it’s more likely the House and Senate both stay Republican than that they both switch to being Democrat. So if Hillary is elected, she’ll probably spend four years smashing her head against Congress; if Trump is elected, he will probably get a lot of what he wants.

    This is exactly why I am voting for Hillary. The most dangerous President is the one that has the same party in the House and Senate. As long as the Republicans maintain their lock on the House, Hillary is a much safer bet than Trump. If the Dems do have a chance of taking the House, I might change my mind.

    Well, I take it back that I am voting for Hillary. Since I live in a very Blue state, I’ll probably vote for Johnson. Again, not so much because of the candidate, although he’s pretty good as Libertarian candidates go, but because I want the country to move in that direction, and more votes might push us that ways a bit. But only because my state will go for Hillary regardless.

    • E. Harding says:

      As long as the Republicans don’t control the Senate, Clinton is free to do whatever she wants by executive fiat and have it rubber-stamped by the Supreme Court. Obamnesty? Check. Banning affirmative action bans? Check. Hobby Lobby? Reversed. Citizens United? Struck down. McCutcheon? Out.

      “although he’s pretty good as Libertarian candidates go”

      -Well, he’s better than Bob Barr, but that’s a low bar to clear.

    • Is there anyone here who has taken the next step in Scott’s logic–that one should vote for Hilary for President and the Republican candidates for House and Senate? Is Scott willing to take it?

      • Gazeboist says:

        Scott presumably doesn’t want to alienate people who want Clinton to have a friendly legislature (unlikely as that is). I figure he would suggest that people vote Clinton at the top and do whatever they like with the rest of the ballot.

      • Zombielicious says:

        Meh, there’s something to be said for anything that would limit the executive branch, but I’m even less fond of Republican Congresses than I am of Republican Presidents. The last six years of dysfunctional obstructionism, threatening to default on the debt, forcing government shutdowns, opposing their own bills just to try and take Obama down with them, plus other stuff and on top of the existing disagreements, make that seem every bit as bad as the prospect of Trump. Sticking it the current Congress is probably at least 60+% of what’ll get me out of bed on election day.

        • Certainly the Republicans are annoying. Repealing ACA so many times is an example of the time they spend on pure politics and little else.

          But that is a whole lot better than the environment the first two years of Obama, when he had a compliant House and Senate. They managed to get two immensely long and complicated bills passed, ACA and Dodd Frank, that are still incomprehensible six years later. If Hillary gets a compliant Congress, the current terrible ideas for destroying the poor are a $15 minimum wage, various mandatory benefits, and lots of other stuff Dems can strut out as accomplishments.

          But when Bush had his party in power in the legislature, the laws passed were just as bad, with earmarks gone amuck. And very little accountability of his foreign policy either.

          David, for the last ten years or so, I’ve had the policy of always voting for the President most likely not to have control of the legislature, and then also voting for the legislative party not in the White House. I didn’t originate the idea. I think it was originally mentioned in Reason Mag, but they seem to have since forgotten it.

          • Zombielicious says:

            @Mark V Anderson:
            So, we apparently disagree on some stuff. My view is that the ACA would have been a lot better if not for lobbying by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries, which forced them to get rid of the public option and add the individual mandate. Among probably thousands of other details of the bill I’m not aware of. As not a single Republican would support the bill, the only reason it got passed at all was because of Democrat majorities in both chambers. So if you’re mostly in the camp of “The ACA sucks, but it’s better than nothing, and hopefully they can fix it eventually,” having Republicans around to “moderate” things and obstruct any further progress by Democrats doesn’t exactly seem like a bonus. Had the government been split during Obama’s first two years, even less progress would have been made, and some ~50 million people would still be without even limited, shitty, overpriced coverage.

            You’re also taking it for granted that everyone agrees mandatory benefits or raising the minimum wage would “destroy the poor” or even be a bad thing. They don’t. I’m not sure what the optimal minimum wage would be, and I think it’s kind of dumb to have it be the same all over the country, and my personal preference would be to eliminate the minimum wage (among other things) entirely and have UBI instead, but I’m not really in the bubble of “minimum wage is an evil liberal plot to destroy the poor and make them dependent on big government.”

            If it was three branches of government controlled by Sanders-style Democrats that’d be great with me, at least for a little while until things swing back from the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama-era legacies, and maybe they could use the time to fix some of the stuff Republicans have been tearing down for the past 16+ years. My problem is more with the neoliberal, Clinton branch of the “left,” which she only barely, debateably even represents. It’s an unfortunate tradeoff to have to consider, but the bad part (for me) is Clinton-style neoliberalism, not the broader goals of the left as a whole (and ignoring the extremely skewed perception of “the left” that seems to be held by the median SSC commenter: a massive conspiracy of SJWs to destroy the world out of spite).

            Hence why a Democratic Congress sounds pretty great, too bad it means Clinton’s worst tendencies would go unchecked as well. Don’t worry though, it seems unlikely even one chamber will switch colors this round, much less both of them.

          • @Zombielicious.

            Yes we do disagree. The ACA might have been a little better if it was single payer, because presumably simpler, but it would have been even better if gone altogether. I would much prefer to totally deregulate medicine to lower prices and allow people to get the medicine they want instead of what the government wants them to have. It seems to me a lot more effective to have a medical welfare program for those who can’t afford it, instead of greatly complicating everyone else’s medical care by forcing them to have highly regulated insurance, since the only rationale of ACA is for the poor to have care. Not that we would necessarily have this medical welfare in the absence of ACA, but it would have been a much better choice. And note that since you aren’t fond of ACA, that isn’t a data point in favor of one party running things either.

            OF course not everyone is against the $15 wage and adding more benefits, but the Republicans are, and that’s why I don’t want the Dems in full charge. Such moves would greatly increase the permanent underclass that could never get a job in this country, which would make their lives much worse. I don’t know that a UBI is practical, because it would require far too much cash passing back and forth between citizens and government. But I do favor greatly simplifying our welfare system, which would make it easy to eliminate all poverty in the country. And yes, this would be much better than a minimum wage.

            But back to the benefits of two parties in charge. It usually doesn’t work very well for the legislature of the same party to hold the President in check from his/her worst impulses. Even if you agree with the Dems on the social issues, maybe you are nervous about her militaristic tendencies? I think a Republican Congress would hold her in check better than her own party.

          • Zombielicious says:

            @Mark V Anderson:
            It’s kind of interesting to claim that it would be better to have a split government moderating each of the parties, while also supporting stuff like complete deregulation of medicine. That’d seem to be a pretty extreme version of conservative policy goals, not something you’d ever actually achieve without full control of government by the right.

            The whole idea that split government is better because it moderates itself was one of the premises of Scott’s post (edit: actually he may not have said that exactly, just that healthy conservativism was needed to balance liberalism). It hadn’t occurred to me until just now, but it’s possible the opposite is true: you can either have a good, functional libertarian-style government and society with free market everything and almost no regulations, or a highly regulated, socialized Nordic-style system with high taxes and a big social safety net. But trying to mix them just screws everything up and leaves you with the worst of both worlds. One side that doesn’t think your plan can work adds their own attempted fixes and it all ends up muddled and unworkable.

            Now I don’t know if this is true, but I think the possibility has been largely glossed over in these threads – most of the discussion has been about needing “moderate” the worst tendencies of both sides, rather than framing it as split government simply making everything dysfunctional since neither side can accomplish anything that it wants to. The last 8 years seem to reflect the “split government is dysfunctional government” side, anyway. Healthcare reform was badly needed, but instead we got some half-assed bill with an individual mandate, little or no reduction of drug prices, giant increases in premiums, taxes for people who don’t buy in, etc. I don’t think this is because Obama’s plan from the beginning just sucked – most of the best parts of the ACA got killed off at some point, either due to lobbying or due to Republican opposition. Things might have worked out great if they’d taken your approach and deregulated everything with some kind of safety net for people who couldn’t pay, but I doubt you’d think it’d be great if they tried to do that and then Democrats and left-wing lobbying groups forced them into passing only the most mutated, rotten version of the bill your side could possibly stomach.

            Plus, even if it does turn out that split-government “moderates” instead of “creates dysfunction,” (the latter also seeming far more likely in times of high partisan polarization) you have to weigh the advantages of having your favored party get moderated versus which parts will be opposed and which won’t. Given their history, I’m doubting Republicans will be as concerned with preventing foreign wars as much as opposing domestic policy and social programs that I support. This is also why I don’t vote Libertarian – I generally like and am sympathetic to them, but the policies they’re most likely to push through are the ones I don’t want: stuff like eliminating the FDA and the EPA and the Dept. of Education, repealing the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, deregulating the finance industry, etc. Long before they get around to setting up proven systems to replace that stuff. So while there are conceivable advantages to seeing a Republican majority opposing a Democratic executive, overall it’s not a prospect that makes me hopeful.

          • ” or a highly regulated, socialized Nordic-style system”

            Nordic systems have lots of redistribution but they are not highly regulated relative to the U.S. I believe some of them score quite high on the economic freedom index.

          • @Zomielicious

            I really don’t think that any unified government of one party is more likely to pass my preferred legislation than a mixed government. The Republicans 2000-2006 passed nothing that I wanted , any more than the Dems 2008-2010 did. I can only think of two things that I liked a lot — NAFTA in 1990’s and the Tax Reform Act of 1986. Yes, that goes back a bit, but that’s because the Feds don’t do much that I like. Both of those happened with mixed government. So I think it is more likely to deregulate medicine with mixed government.

            And it seems the same with you, at least as regards to ACA. The ACA was passed 100% by Dems, so Repub influence had nothing to do with it. I bet it would have been a better bill if both parties had input. It does seem that it is difficult to get the two parties to agree on a bill, and yet for the years 2013-2014 they still managed to pass 296 laws. Even with mixed government they pass far more laws than I like to see, so maybe there isn’t ENOUGH gridlock.

            I also disagree that there are only two good kinds of government — highly regulated and socialized vs few regulations. As David pointed out, the Nordic countries are probably less regulated than the US; it is just that they high distribution. Maybe it is true that good governments have few regulations but may have low or high re-distribution. I could live with that. I think the Nordics have too high a re-distribution for sustainability, but on the other hand the amount of re-distribution I favor is quite a bit more than most libertarians.

            I think we are running out of time on this thread, but we’ve probably said most of what we think too. I hope we can connect on future threads — it is good to talk to smart leftists.

          • Glen Raphael says:

            @Mark V Anderson:

            Certainly the Republicans are annoying. Repealing ACA so many times is an example of the time they spend on pure politics and little else.

            How many times do you think that “so many” was? Many of the bills characterized by the left as “repealing ACA” passed and were signed by Obama and many of the ones that didn’t pass were still examples of trying to fix flaws in a broken law.

            Try this article. One relevant bit:

            eight of the times Republicans have voted to “repeal” Obamacare have been instances in which Congress passed, and President Obama signed, for example, measures to repeal the 1099 tax reporting requirement; repeal the CLASS Act; reduce funding in the Prevention and Public Health Fund, which many lawmakers viewed as excessive; and other issues.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            @Glen Raphael

            This tickled a thought in my mind. The Constitution is maddeningly vague about just what the “legislative process” is, except for specifying the conditions under which a Bill becomes a Law. I wonder if there’s anything in prior British law or the Federalist papers that considers the possibility of looser requirements for removing a law. I mean, I can see the limited-government rationale for requiring Presidential concurrence on creating a new law, but is there a rationale for making it equally hard to remove one?

            This may have been thoroughly explored. The last clause of Article II Section 7 seems to be about preventing the shortcut of legislating without calling the prototype a “Bill”, and it suggests that adjournment is the only exception to the principle that anything requiring the two houses to agree has to be susceptible to veto.

            But I wonder if it’s ever come up for even one house to assert “Both houses must approve a Bill for it to become a Law. We withdraw our approval. Ergo the Bill is no longer a Law.” Obviously nobody thinks that way now, but is there precedent for the current model?

  72. cassander says:

    Scott, you speak of systems. Whatever Trumps flaws will be vehemently resisted by the system. The civil service, the media, the establishment, all of it has, and will, continue to buck trump whenever it gets the chance. Hillary, by contrast, has spent her life corrupting the system. It amplifies her worst tendencies, and excuses her worst behaviors. If you believe in the value of systems, then you should vote for trump. The system is designed to resist people like him. It will amplify everything terrible about Hillary.

  73. anonymous says:

    It’s a simple choice for Trump for me.

    Trump may be a bigot, a fraud, a liar, and a crook. He’s almost certainly to be the high variance choice. He’s almost certain to be in deep over his head. He’s probably going to crash the country.

    I understand this. But I also understand that the elites have run roughshod over people like me all my life, stopping only to sneer. They, as represented by Clinton, want to keep me down.

    I have a simple message for the elites: you might very well succeed in keeping me down, but this time you’re going down with me.

    Some men just want to watch the world burn.

    • Jill says:

      Yes, telling angry people that they will get to watch the world burn has been the chief GOP vote getting strategy for years now. The GOP has stoked people’s anger for many years now, long before Trump. But the billionaires have never suffered for one millisecond under the GOP. This time might be different though, despite the fact that so many GOP establishment types support Trump. Because Trump is quite incompetent and perhaps not very sane.

      I have to wonder what the GOP establishment types will do if Trump gets elected and starts effing everything up. Would one of them kill him so they can have Pence, their sane establishment guy? Would a party that put us in a long expensive bloody murderous war in Iraq based on lies, flinch at all, at the idea of killing a single individual?

      • “The GOP has stoked people’s anger for many years now, long before Trump.”

        The most obvious symptom of anger is a riot. I don’t have a count, but my impression is that most rioting in recent years has been by blacks and their supporters objecting to racism, in particular by police, and has been encouraged by left wing sources telling blacks that white racism is the reason for their problems.

        It might be true. The rioting might be justified. But it is a symptom of anger, and the people deliberately stoking that anger are not on the right.

        What modern, U.S., arguably right wing riots am I missing?

        • Fahundo says:

          But it is a symptom of anger, and the people deliberately stoking that anger are not on the right.

          Not all of them, sure, but there’s more than one way to stoke anger.

        • Jill says:

          News flash here. Anger doesn’t always result in a riot. What good would that do for the GOP? The GOP aims to stoke anger and have it result in votes for the GOP, as people vote against the supposedly Luciferian Democrats. The GOP has been highly successful at that, although occasionally someone like that Bundy guy takes over a wildlife refuge or something.

        • Unfailingly Inamorate Killogie says:

          David Friedman wonders “What modern, U.S., arguably right wing riots am I missing?”

          Perhaps the acelerating incidence of Stormfront murders?

          In the past five years alone, Stormfront members have murdered close to 100 people.

          Stormfront’s bias-related murder rate began to accelerate rapidly in early 2009, after Barack Obama became the nation’s first black president.

          For domestic Islamic terrorists, the breeding ground for violence is often the Al Qaeda magazine Inspire and its affiliated websites.

          For the racist, it is Stormfront.

          The SPLC’s report “White homicides worldwide” provides details. Respectfully, do you (or other SSC readers) have further questions, David Friedman?

          • Sandy says:

            That report says Stormfront members have killed 100 people in 5 years. Omar Mateen alone killed about 50 people in under an hour.

            Untermenschen they may be, but the Muslims are beating these master race fellows hollow at their own game.

          • pku says:

            Which hour is relevant; Omar Mateen hasn’t killed anyone in the last hour.

            Or to put it less snarkily, domestic terrorism hasn’t killed nearly that many people in the US (and has been treated as a serious issue). This is a poor comparison.

          • Sandy says:

            Neither has Stormfront-related white supremacist terrorism for that matter, at least not in this country. Of those 100 murders that the SPLC cites, 69 were the victims of Anders Breivik’s rampage, a killing spree that wasn’t even in America and where the victims were largely white Norwegian leftists. Subtract that from the equation and I don’t see how all the Stormfront-related murders in the US put together could add up to the death toll from just the Orlando attack.

            Domestic non-Islamic terrorism has killed a bunch of people in the US, but that’s a category that includes the killing of government employees, not necessarily Stormfront’s niche.

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          @ David Friedman
          The most obvious symptom of anger is a riot.

          By people who have no better way than physical anger to express their negative feelings. For those with more options…

          Some say the world will end in fire,
          Some say in ice.
          From what I’ve tasted of desire
          I hold with those who favor fire.
          But if it had to perish twice,
          I think I know enough of hate
          To say that for destruction ice
          Is also great
          And would suffice.

      • Deiseach says:

        Would one of them kill him so they can have Pence, their sane establishment guy?

        Jill, do you hear yourself? You sound exactly like the people forecasting that those crazy white supremacist right-wingers would assassinate Obama before he could be sworn in because they couldn’t stand an African-American president.

        Forecasting political assassinations because obviously that’s the kind of thing the Republican party leadership is comfortable with – I don’t even know what to say to this. I have a low opinion of politicians in general, and despite all my comments on here which might give an impression to the contrary I don’t particularly think the Republicans are great, but even I baulk at assuming as a matter of course that they would murder an opponent or undesirable person on their own side. We’re not quite at Putin levels yet!

      • Anonymous says:

        war in Iraq based on lies

        Just so future readers have some access to information, one of the heads of the bipartisan commission which studied this issue calls these statements “an infamous canard” and even states that “there was not one shred of evidence” of political pressure on the intelligence community on WMDs (there was on a Saddam/Al Queda connection; nevertheless, the IC rejected it hard).

        • Iain says:

          In a similar spirit of information for future readers:

          1. Silberman was the head of the first phase of the commission. That commission did indeed not find any evidence of political pressure on the intelligence community. This is hardly surprising, though, because the scope of the commission explicitly excluded the manner in which intelligence was used by policymakers. In Silberman’s own words:

          Our executive order did not direct us to deal with the use of intelligence by policymakers, and all of us were agreed that that was not part of our inquiry.

          2. Independent of whether political leaders lied, the first phase of the commission did determine that the intelligence information used to justify the Iraq war was shoddy and misleading.

          3. The lack of focus on the use of the information was justified by the plans for a second phase of the commission. Phase II spent quite some time bogged down in committee, but eventually did release a report. (I can’t find a copy of the report itself, so I’m linking to the committee’s press release. If anybody can find an actual copy, I would be grateful.) That report did conclude that there were multiple situations in which “the Administration’s public statements were NOT supported by the intelligence” (emphasis in original).

          4. The initial report was released when the Republicans had control of the Senate, and therefore held a majority of the seats on the committee. The main findings of the report were unanimously supported by the committee, although the report also included a number of “additional views” tacked on to the end where individual senators expressed disagreements. The Phase II report was released in 2008, after the Democrats had taken over the Senate. This report was supported by all 8 of the Democrats on the committee, and 2 of the 7 Republicans.

          In short: the intelligence on which the Iraq war was based was wrong. Opinions differ on exactly how much of that was the fault of the intelligence community, and how much was the fault of the policymakers using that information, but it seems safe to say that nobody covered themselves in glory here.

          • cassander says:

            >“the Administration’s public statements were NOT supported by the intelligence” (emphasis in original).

            When the same statements were made by democrats in the 90s, were they also not supported by Intelligence? The whole notion that the bush administration deliberately lied is utterly implausible in the face of the activities of the Clinton administration.

          • Iain says:

            @cassander

            See Green Anonymous’s helpful post below containing a link to the actual report. I’ve only skimmed it briefly, so if this is important to you I would suggest reading it yourself.

            I don’t think the report supports the claim that Bush deliberately and knowingly lied. (And to be fair, that’s not what the statement you quoted claimed.) I do think it is reasonable support for the claim that the members of the Bush administration saw what they wanted to see and did not pay enough attention to contrary evidence.

            The difference between George Bush and Bill Clinton making the “same” statements is that one of them started a war in Iraq and the other one didn’t.

          • cassander says:

            Iain

            >See Green Anonymous’s helpful post below containing a link to the actual report. I’ve only skimmed it briefly, so if this is important to you I would suggest reading it yourself.

            I’ve read dozens of reports and books about the Bush administration. I doubt this report will have anything new.

            >I do think it is reasonable support for the claim that the members of the Bush administration saw what they wanted to see and did not pay enough attention to contrary evidence.

            That is true of literally every human who has ever lived

            >The difference between George Bush and Bill Clinton making the “same” statements is that one of them started a war in Iraq and the other one didn’t.

            Clinton spent a decade bombing Saddam, and had Congress pass the Iraq liberation act. Clinton declared war, he just didn’t follow up.

        • Anonymous says:

          The Phase II report can be found here. As Iain said, this report was much more politically contentious (also released in the summer before the first post-Bush election), so the minority views are even more substantial. What’s worse is that the amendments, while included in the above document, are not incorporated into the conclusions cited in the press release… even though many times they undercut or strike entire sections. Diving into this thicket is much worse and requires a substantial time commitment.

    • pku says:

      …are you really that petty and insecure? Why do you care so much what people you dislike say about you?

      • Anonymous says:

        Maybe he feels like the jews felt in germany when it was beginning? “What people you dislike say about you” is a pretty good source of information regarding the probability that your kind will be driven to extinction, made obsolete through comparative disregard, straight hunted down, etc.

        I mean, “We have a biological and cultural borderer problem in this country” sounds way too similar to “We have a biological and cultural jewish problem in this country”.

        Strictly speaking, I’m not sure a jew burning the reich down out of spite would be a net gain but I wouldn’t call him petty and insecure.

        • pku says:

          I doubt the average Jew thought that voting for Hitler was the rational choice, and that his opponent would crash the country.

    • sourcreamus says:

      Could you be specific in how the elites have run roughshod over you and what they have done to keep you down?
      I totally agree with them sneering about me and people like me but the elites are simply not capable of keeping me down even if they wanted to.

    • Alex S says:

      Why don’t you just leave America if you hate it so much?

  74. Jill says:

    The most interesting thing about the phenomenon of the “anti-establishment” Trump vote is that it’s mostly being cast by people who let Right Wing establishment media– like Fox News, iHeart Radio that was formerly named Clear Channel, and Right Wing Internet sites– tell them how to vote. And Right Wing establishment media is telling them to vote for Trump. I guess the “anti-establishment” vote must be anti-Left-Wing establishment– as usual– like the vote for GW Bush was. It’s certainly not anti-Right-Wing-establishment.

    But Trump supporters probably don’t think about this. The Right Wing propaganda that we are all absolutely immersed in, has convinced people that Democrats are Satan Incarnated, and that a vote for the Republican is anti-establishment. So it’s just the same song, 20th verse or so. Propaganda works. I have to laugh at the idea of the “liberal media.” Who is that? The NYT that cheered on the Iraq War and that publishes tons of articles by Right Wingers, in addition to the ones by Left Wingers?

    Despite all Trump’s glaring huuuge flaws, Hillary gets more negative media coverage. See article below. I know. The Right Wing propaganda has worked on you so well that you never believe anything Vox says, because it’s liberal. Fox or iHeart or Right Wing web sites have convinced you that all liberal media lies. So there’s nothing any news site could say or do to convince you that liberals are not Lucifer. A liberal media outlet saying Dems are not Lucifer, just confirms that they are Lucifer, no matter how much evidence is cited.

    Study: Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, gets the most negative media coverage
    http://www.vox.com/2016/4/15/11410160/hillary-clinton-media-bernie-sanders

    I can’t do anything about this. But it’s amazing to see how successful Right Wing media propaganda is. It’s a wonder to behold. It puts Goebbels to shame. No wonder the Right Wing dominates both Houses of Congress, most governorships, most state legislatures, and SCOTUS until Scalia died. And they also block the president from doing lots of things, like even having a hearing for his SCOTUS nominee. If Trump is elected, the Right Wing will control the presidency too– everything– at least to the extent that anyone can control Trump.

    Oh, but the Right Wing doesn’t control SJWs at expensive colleges and in San Francisco. That’s true. But college is transitory, and is not the real world, so the effect of that is rather small– especially as only a tiny percentage of people attend very expensive colleges or live in San Fran.

    Trump has promised the Right Wing establishment enough to get most of them to support him. So they believe they can control him. But of course they can’t. The Right Wing establishment are the people who said the Iraqis would greet us as liberators. They are not in touch with reality themselves. They think they can control everything– make the world act as they want it to act 100% of the time. They are controlaholic nutcases who brag about not being part of the reality based community.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reality-based_community

    • cassander says:

      >The most interesting thing about the phenomenon of the “anti-establishment” Trump vote is that it’s mostly being cast by people who let Right Wing establishment media– like Fox News, iHeart Radio that was formerly named Clear Channel, and Right Wing Internet sites– tell them how to vote.

      You’ve been asked, repeatedly, not to say things like this around here Jill

      >And Right Wing establishment media is telling them to vote for Trump.

      It most certainly is not. At most, it’s telling them not to vote for Hillary.

      >The Right Wing propaganda that we are all absolutely immersed in, has convinced people that Democrats are Satan Incarnated, and that a vote for the Republican is anti-establishment.

      Sure, democrats control the civil service, the media, the academy, and the judiciary, but we’re immersed in right wing propaganda.

      >I have to laugh at the idea of the “liberal media.” Who is that? The NYT that cheered on the Iraq War and that publishes tons of articles by Right Wingers, in addition to the ones by Left Wingers?

      Um….

      >Despite all Trump’s glaring huuuge flaws, Hillary gets more negative media coverage. See article below. I know. The Right Wing propaganda has worked on you so well that you never believe anything Vox says, because it’s liberal.

      No, they’re dishonest and ill informed. Even mother jones isn’t silly enough to claim clinton gets worse coverage than trump.

      >So there’s nothing any news site could say or do to convince you that liberals are not Lucifer. A liberal media outlet saying Dems are not Lucifer, just confirms that they are Lucifer, no matter how much evidence is cited.

      And what, pray tell, could convince you of the reverse? These things have been told to you before, many times, and yet you continue to post the same, easily refutable points. Pot, this is kettle, you’re black.

      • TheWorst says:

        You’ve been asked, repeatedly, not to say things like this around here Jill

        This isn’t your safe space, buddy. If your precious fee-fees are triggered by having people fail to respect your boundaries, maybe demand trigger warnings, or go build a safe space from these terrible microaggressions?

        Your right to be wrong in public and have everyone pretend you aren’t wrong is not actually a right. I get that you’d rather have everyone help you pretend you’re right–everyone wants that–but no one is obligated to give it to you.

        • cassander says:

          You’ve wildly misread my ideological proclivities.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I think you are misreading his snark, actually.

            Less snark, I say, but his point is valid. Objecting to Jill pointing out the right-wing bias in right-wing media, and how that operates on the median right-wing voter, is weird.

          • gbdub says:

            Objecting to Jill pointing out the right-wing bias in right-wing media, and how that operates on the median right-wing voter, is weird

            If that’s all she did, I’d totally agree with you (though even then, it’s pretty uncharitable to assume that because people vote for Trump, and some parts of the right wing media agrees with them, they are being duped into supporting an “establishment” candidate).

            But then she also compared right wing media to Goebbels, posted a Wikipedia link to “Reality Based Community”, asserted that the Right Wing is out of touch with reality and proud of it, and called them controlaholics who control everything. Objecting to that is less weird.

          • cassander says:

            @ HeelBearCub

            >Less snark, I say, but his point is valid. Objecting to Jill pointing out the right-wing bias in right-wing media, and how that operates on the median right-wing voter, is weird.

            Jill is objecting to right wing bias at the New York Times, not Fox. That is a considerably more objectionable claim. She’s also repeating claims that demonstrably false, some of which have been repeatedly explained to her as such. I grow tired of her accusing others of tribalism while demonstrating an utter inability to convince of the idea that the same forces might affect her, while claiming to the be the victim of persecution.

          • Anonymous says:

            Be honest. You follow her around from thread to thread bringing up disputes you had with her in other threads and insisting she continue to reply to you.

            It’s frankly creepy.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @cassander:
            She did not mention or link to the New York Times, so if you want her to stop asserting that the New York Times has a right wing bias, you should be praising her for not doing so?

            @gbdub:
            Yes, I don’t like the Godwinning and I agree it’s a cheap debate tactic.

            As to the “reality based” contentions, I agree that it probably feels insulting for it to be brought up. It’s not a good way to foster actual conversation.

            But it also seems that, especially as regards Trump, it’s true.

            I keep seeing assertions from some of Trump’s backers, or those sympathetic to them, that one reason to support him is that he specifically doesn’t care about saying things that aren’t true, because it’s a big “fuck you” to the establishment.

            Much like the anti-vaxx community, there is a certain amount “I don’t care what the evidence says. I know what is true and I don’t care if it’s not.”

            Yes, it’s logically self-contradicting. They don’t care.

          • Whatever Happened to Anonymous says:

            Jill is one of, if not the, most prolific commenters here, it’s difficult to avoid responding to her.

          • gbdub says:

            @HeelBearCub
            “But it also seems that, especially as regards Trump, it’s true.” Jill specifically distinguished between Trump and the “right wing establishment”, and implied that it is the “establishment” (not just Trump) bragging about not being reality based (because they supported the Iraq war).

            Anyway I don’t want to overparse it. It was a low-quality Jill comment in exactly the same way her political comments have always been low quality – “right wingers control everything and they are bad people who want to give everything to the rich ” covers 95% of the content, with the rest mostly being a Vox du juor. It’s frustrating.

            The only reason I bother responding is because she makes enough good comments on non-political threads to make it seems like she’d be reachable, and another thoughtful mainstream liberal would be a welcome addition around here.

            @Anonymous
            What does “follow around” even mean? There’s usually only one or two active threads here. Jill comments on most of them, usually with very similar posts. Cassander comments on most of the threads, as do I. It’s creepy to respond to a poster frequently? If the “Jill threads” seem repetitive to you, well, I can’t argue there, but Jill needs to accept a good chunk of the blame for that.

          • gbdub says:

            Jill, you WaPo link is interesting but a non sequitur. Your original post asserted that Trump voters only do so because so-called right-wing propaganda tells them to. The article itself argues against this, saying it’s mostly “symbiosis” between FOX and existing Republicans and likely Trump voters. In any case, as cassander noted, FOX was not universally supportive of Trump (if anything they were somewhat against him on balance) during the primaries, so if people were just voting how FOX told them to, Trump wouldn’t have won.

            As for “we’re all immersed” in right wing propaganda, how do you explain all those bars that sway blue? MSNBC and Comedy Central watchers are just as Clinton biased as FOX watchers are Trump biased. And while FOX is the largest single network, it’s not larger than the others combined. In any case, Hillary is still winning so obviously FOX alone can’t command a majority vote.

          • Anonymous says:

            See for example his posts in this open thread: https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/07/31/ot55-thready-for-hillary/

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @gbdub:

            The only reason I bother responding is because she makes enough good comments on non-political threads to make it seems like she’d be reachable, and another thoughtful mainstream liberal would be a welcome addition around here.

            I will agree with the general idea.

            I’m still unsure of how willing Jill is to have an actual dialogue, though.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Whatever Happened to Anonymous

            If you click on someone’s avatar, a dialog comes up saying “Hide posts by this poster”. It works. Like the Killfile Poster in Usenet of blessed memory.

          • Jill says:

            Houseboat, I emailed you, as you requested.

          • Jill says:

            “Jill, you WaPo link is interesting but a non sequitur. Your original post asserted that Trump voters only do so because so-called right-wing propaganda tells them to. The article itself argues against this, saying it’s mostly “symbiosis” between FOX and existing Republicans and likely Trump voters. In any case, as cassander noted, FOX was not universally supportive of Trump (if anything they were somewhat against him on balance) during the primaries, so if people were just voting how FOX told them to, Trump wouldn’t have won.”

            Well, maybe it’s just a coincidence that 68 percent of Trump voters are Fox watchers, huh?

            “As for “we’re all immersed” in right wing propaganda, how do you explain all those bars that sway blue? MSNBC and Comedy Central watchers are just as Clinton biased as FOX watchers are Trump biased. And while FOX is the largest single network, it’s not larger than the others combined. In any case, Hillary is still winning so obviously FOX alone can’t command a majority vote.”

            Hillary is not still winning. The polls go back and forth.

            Fox is the most trusted news source, not MSNBC.
            https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/03/09/fox-news-is-the-most-trusted-national-news-channel-and-its-not-that-close/

            Also, MSNBC is now openly bragging about no longer being liberal.

            http://www.mediaite.com/online/msnbc-now-openly-bragging-about-abandoning-its-liberal-brand-in-new-ad/

            As for the comedy programs, yes, some comedy programs are liberal. But when you have to look under every rock, at programs that are not even news programs, to find liberal bias, then there must not be very much of it.

            We are a Right Wing country, immersed 24/7/365 in Right Wing propaganda. And the SSC commentary section is just one of the zillions of reflections of that fact.

          • cassander says:

            @anon

            I don’t follow her. I follow david friedman, because he often says interesting things. Jill is merely prolific.

            @HeelBearCub

            >She did not mention or link to the New York Times, so if you want her to stop asserting that the New York Times has a right wing bias, you should be praising her for not doing so?

            “I have to laugh at the idea of the “liberal media.” Who is that? The NYT that cheered on the Iraq War and that publishes tons of articles by Right Wingers, in addition to the ones by Left Wingers?”

            she mentioned it explicitly.

            >I keep seeing assertions from some of Trump’s backers, or those sympathetic to them, that one reason to support him is that he specifically doesn’t care about saying things that aren’t true, because it’s a big “fuck you” to the establishment.

            I heard left wingers say the same thing about, say, Hillary’s position on gay marriage in 2008, or her hawkishness or position on trade today. Candidates often say things they don’t mean, and voters often project what they believe onto candidates. this is not news, nor does it have anything to do with trump.

            >I’m still unsure of how willing Jill is to have an actual dialogue, though.

            I had hopes. They are fading.

            @JIll

            >As for the comedy programs, yes, some comedy programs are liberal. But when you have to look under every rock, at programs that are not even news programs, to find liberal bias, then there must not be very much of it.

            This is so delusional I don’t even know where to begin to respond. Again, because you obviously didn’t bother reading it the first time. And if you don’t like that particular study, I have many others that show exactly the same thing. Reality based community my ass.

          • My old view on “The Reality Based Community.”

          • Jill says:

            Yes, I’d just love to have a dialogue with the nasty stalker, and with other people who insult me repeatedly. That sounds great– NOT.

          • Jill says:

            So some other journalist, Jacob Weisberg, claims that Pulitzer prize winning journalist Suskind is not trustworthy. Okay. I don’t know why I should believe Jacob Weisberg, rather than Suskind. Especially when Weisberg wrote a rather sympathetic book about Bush, and Suskind wrote one a book not so loving toward W. So obviously they each prefer the public adopt their point of view, not the contrasting one.

    • Sandy says:

      And Right Wing establishment media is telling them to vote for Trump.

      Who exactly are you talking about? Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh are telling them to vote for Trump. I’m not sure who else is. Glenn Beck was borderline suicidal after Trump beat Cruz. Bill Kristol and his crowd literally tried to found a new political party just to oppose Trump. National Review, The Federalist, American Conservative and the rest of the “respectable conservative media” gang are all either apathetic or opposed to Trump. Megyn Kelly makes no secret of the fact that Trump repulses her, and S.E. Cupp thinks it is an act of heroism to vote against Trump. Breitbart is probably firmly in Trump’s corner, but there is no unanimity among conservative media for Trump. This idea that people are supporting Trump because the “Right Wing establishment media” is lining up behind him is delusional.

      • Jill says:

        Fox and iHeart and Right Wing web sites that told people to vote for GW Bush are telling people to vote for Trump. GOP establishment politicians Cruz, Ryan etc. Yes, there are a few GOP establishment types against him, but they are in the minority. Check out all the GOP establishment Trump supporters in this wikipedia article.

        List of Donald Trump presidential campaign endorsements, 2016
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Donald_Trump_presidential_campaign_endorsements,_2016

        • Sandy says:

          There is a grand total of one newspaper on that list, the National Enquirer, and that is the same sleazy rag that gave Trump the idea that Cruz’s father assassinated JFK. For comparison, look at the number of newspapers that endorsed John Kasich.

          You’re surprised that Republican politicians want Republican voters to choose a Republican nominee for President? Really?

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            Considering that this same person was previously surprised that Republican politicians wanted to limit a Democratic president to a single term, you may as well stop being surprised about her surprise.

          • Jill says:

            Sandy. No, but apparently some people think that Trump doesn’t have the support of much of the Right Wing establishment. But he does.

        • SM says:

          You mean right wing sites endorse the Republican nominee? Oh noes! Isn’t there anything that is too low for these people? It would be as bad as liberal sites endorsing Democratic nominee – which we know never happens, because well, there are limits! And even if one day they would all go crazy and allow themselves to be dragged to this level – well, we know there are sites that would never participate in such debauchery, like this one, right?

          • Jill says:

            Apparently some people think that Trump doesn’t have the support of much of the Right Wing establishment. But he does. That was my point. But I am sure you can find some way to distort my point into something else ridiculous now.

        • houseboatonstyxb says:

          Hi, Jill,

          I’d like to ask you about something that would be off topic for this thread. I don’t know how to do PMs. houseboatonstyx @ gmail.com might reach me.

        • Deiseach says:

          There are two candidates in the current presidential election. One of them is (perceived as) right-wing and the other one is (perceived as) left-wing.

          Right-wing sites say people should vote for the right-wing candidate.

          Well, you could knock me down with a feather! What startling news I would never have expected!

      • Homo Iracundus says:

        Shhhh, you don’t want to cause a brain hemorrhage.

    • SM says:

      How right wing internet sites – which excepting Breibart and of course Fox are mostly blogs – are “establishment”? What’s not establishment then?

      > has convinced people that Democrats are Satan Incarnated,

      Whut? Which people? Why these people aren’t participating in polls that mostly say the votes are split in the middle? Why they are not voting in elections which mostly show the same, and why they didn’t prevent election of Obama twice?

      > The NYT that cheered on the Iraq War and that publishes tons of articles by Right Wingers, in addition to the ones by Left Wingers?

      Just to be sure – are you claiming NYT is actually a right wing newspaper? Or one that does not have any political bent at all?

      > . Fox or iHeart or Right Wing web sites have convinced you that all liberal media lies

      Nope, I have witnessed them lie multiple times myself, right in fron of my eyes. And now I don’t believe any word they say. Neither should anybody who cares about the truth. Any media that brands itself “liberal media” by now joins the cause which is declared too important to limit themselves to the truth. Defeting Hitler du jour is too important to not lie a bit. So they get no trust.

      > Study: Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, gets the most negative media coverage

      On Vox. Oh come on. And done with unknown auto-detection tool to add. I won’t believe anything Vox said, but not because “right wing propaganda” convinced me so, but because I’ve read Vox. Until I couldn’t anymore, because it’s unbearable.

      > A liberal media outlet saying Dems are not Lucifer, just confirms that they are Lucifer

      No, actually it confirms liberal media is liberal. No further informational content beyond that, usually. That’s why I stopped with Vox and similar outlets – once I know they are liberal, I can get no further information from them except more confirmation they are liberal. I can’t trust any other information there, unless I verify it in other sources – in which cases I just have to read other sources and not read Vox.

      > and SCOTUS until Scalia died

      Is that the SCOTUS that upheld Obamacare on the premise it’s a tax despite direct claims of it’s architects that it’s not a tax? Or is that SCOTUS that upheld the decision to rewrite Obamacare law with regard to state exchanges because they found penubras of shadows of a smell of a whiff of exactly the opposite of what the law clearly says and what with known for it to be intended but backfired spectacularly? Or maybe it’s the SCOUTS that decided Kelo vs. New London – one of the most disastrous decisions on recent memory? Or is that some othe SCOTUS that the Vast Right Wing conspiracy was hiding from us?

      But it’s fascinating to hear complaints about being controlaholic from the left wing – where centralized control is practically the center of the whole belief system, sine qua non.

      • Fahundo says:

        Whut? Which people?

        Can’t speak for Jill’s bubble, but in mine, the “democrats are evil” narrative is quite common. I know people personally who literally, and I mean that in the most narrow definition of the word, decried Obama as the Antichrist when he was elected.

        Why they are not voting in elections which mostly show the same, and why they didn’t prevent election of Obama twice?

        They do vote, but they don’t live in swing states, silly.

        • SM says:

          So the all-powerful Right Wing Propaganda managed to convince all people except those that actually matter to elect the President? Bad, bad Right Wing Propaganda! No cookie for you!

          > I know people personally

          Oh, I totally believe. Some run around with “Bush is Hitler” slogans, some believe Obama is Antichrist. There are all kinds.

          • Fahundo says:

            So the all-powerful Right Wing Propaganda

            I’m not endorsing all of Jill’s statements, just rejecting your assertion that these people don’t exist and/or don’t vote.

        • Deiseach says:

          No, Obama can’t be the Anti-Christ because the European Union is!

    • pku says:

      I think you’re mostly right, but could you try being less snarky? It’s pretty off putting, even for me.

      • SM says:

        I will try to control it, thank you.

      • Zombielicious says:

        I kinda of have to agree with pku here, @Jill. Believe me when I say that I know how frustrating the tribalism and ideological bias rampant on this board can be, and I sympathize with the harassment you’ve received in the past, but it’s useless and counterproductive to spend your time telling people how stupid and naive they are. Even polite, well-reasoned arguments like Scott’s tend to just make people double-down on their existing prejudices, so saying stuff like “controlaholic nutcases” is basically just begging them to disagree with you even more. It feels good to vent, but there is literally zero chance anyone will be persuaded that way.

        If I may recommend a new strategy: just let people rant. Seriously, they’re not convincing anyone who isn’t already on their side, and neither are you or anyone else. It just turns the comments section into a dumpster fire, and makes the arguer’s own side look bad. People are their own worst enemy, so there’s nothing you can do or say to make conservatism, or liberalism, look worse than just letting its advocates spew vitriol themselves. The more idiotic and offensive it is, the harder it is to hold back and not argue, but the more effective it is just to stay silent and let them dig their own hole.

        My opinion, anyway. Not that I always follow it, either.

        • ThirteenthLetter says:

          and I sympathize with the harassment you’ve received in the past

          Don’t you even try to play that card.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Don’t be shitty (even if I do agree that the word “harassment” is a bit strong)

          • Zombielicious says:

            Meh, I’m not gonna crawl back through dozens of open threads to try and find examples that aren’t easily ctrl+f-able, but there were plenty of examples of people starting entire new subthreads just to attack her personally, frequent requests for her to be banned (including multiple in this thread, despite her relatively few posts here), to the point where other regulars were calling it creepy. When “lets single this person out for their differing opinions so we can collectively insult and shun them” becomes an entire, repeated topic of discussion, I’m not sure the colloquial use of the word is that inappropriate. Also I’m trying to sympathize before offering a suggestion for improvement so she doesn’t think I’m just another hater.

  75. Zombielicious says:

    So, we’re currently at 1,093 responses to Scott’s essay. Has anyone actually changed their mind about how to vote? Close to changing your mind? If so, was it Scott’s argument, reading the comments, or a combination of? Did you go from Clinton to Trump or Trump to Clinton (or Johnson, Stein, or Vermin Supreme)?

    • SM says:

      I am now about 90% convinced that holding your nose, voting Trump, and then taking a long, hot shower is a better course of action than the alternatives. Before I was about 50% on that. Though I’m not US citizen so it doesn’t matter 🙂

    • Seth says:

      I was just thinking a similar questions. Granted, people who comment aren’t representative of the readership. People who read and comment after more 1,000 comments are even less representative than that. Still, it would interesting if someone were to say anything along the lines of “Scott’s essay presents a cogent argument which has convinced me to change my mind and vote for Clinton rather than Trump. I was particularly impressed by point … and point … which set out a clear case for …”. And it’s a sad state of affairs that anyone who did do that, would be suspected of trolling.

      It all demonstrates the severe limits of rationalism in the real world.

      • Jill says:

        What is rationalism for, if not for cherry picking arguments and examples, to find the ones that confirm the opinions that you already decided on, on the basis of your emotions? This is what most humans use rationalism for, generally.

        Humans are biologically built to value survival, not truth or rationality. And most of us don’t have to worry about physical survival. So we instead we transfer our focus to survival of our personal and tribal identities. MY tribe good. YOUR tribe bad. End of story– except for the list of rational “reasons” that will be made up later to justify the story.

        • SM says:

          Scott Adams would approve this comment.

          • Jill says:

            Scott Adams is right about a few things. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.

            Adams’ blog has turned into Trump Supporter Central lately. He certainly follows the script above himself. He identifies with Trump and his tribe. Has a huuuge man crush on Trump. At the mercy of this overpowering man crush emotion, Adams bends over backwards to find rational sounding reasons that make Trump look competent, sane, like a Master Persuader etc.

            It would be far far easier to find evidence of how Trump is not sane or competent. But that wouldn’t justify Adams’ tribal identity and huuuuge man crush on Trump.

          • Is it my imagination, or has “mancrush” recently become the insult in vogue? Trump on Putin, Scott Adams on Trump.

          • Gazeboist says:

            I’ve found it vaguely insulting (or at least mocking, though that could be friendly) for a while now. Not sure how popular it was, though.

        • “Humans are biologically built to value survival, not truth or rationality. ”

          Humans are biologically built to value reproductive success. Holding true views about the world is often, although not always, a means to that end, and rationality is often a way of making your views more nearly true.

      • Seth says:

        What is rationalism for, if not for cherry picking arguments and examples, to find the ones that confirm the opinions that you already decided on, on the basis of your emotions?

        Well, while it’s true “This is what most humans use rationalism for, generally.”, the hope is that we could transcend that to some extent, to do better even if imperfectly, to at least recognize our biases and make an attempt to correct for them. It’s the difference between:

        1) This works all the time.

        2) This doesn’t work all the time, but it works many times, and there’s hope it’ll get better in the future.

        3) This doesn’t work at all, and is just ritual and placebo and self-delusion.

        Case #1 is an ideal that’s kind of a weak argument when not realized in practice.

        Case #2 is what one can realistically shoot for.

        Case #3 seems to be where were are in reality.

        • Jill says:

          I think we humans could learn to do better than this in the future.

          We’re this way for reasons. Although our physical survival used to be dependent on identifying with a tribe, it isn’t any longer. Perhaps we can get that thought through our brains somehow.

        • Gazeboist says:

          I feel like there’s a space for (2.5) “This is hard, but it’s worth trying because the results of success are very high value.”

          Which I think is where we are, mostly.

    • The Most Conservative says:

      I thought Scott’s post was pretty good, but some of the critiques were good too. So I’m roughly back where I started, assigning Clinton ~70% of the probability mass of being the better candidate and Trump ~30%. It’s getting kinda silly at this point–I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this question, I’m still uncertain, and I don’t even live in a swing state.

    • Hwold says:

      Not a US citizen, but as a general argument for “don’t vote for the anti-establishment populist even if you really really hate the establishment”, Scott’s essay convinced me.

      His first part (expected value of a vote) didn’t however. I’m still a no-voter.

    • Anon says:

      I’ve only come around to the “hold your nose and vote Trump” camp the past month or so, and I have enormous respect for Scott. I won’t say he didn’t make me squirm, but I’m holding fast to my decision.

  76. Tom Fool says:

    Scott:

    Lurked here a while – first time posting. Thanks for maintaining your garden. As an orthodox Catholic, you would probably classify me as part of your conservative audience (because of life issues, and stuff like the Little Sisters case). And let me say that you have indeed earned political capital with me. I certainly concur with both the variance arguments and that he’s not conservative by policy, life, or temperament, and I will remain open to hearing what you have to say on the topic through November.
    One thing that has been frustrating to me is the Left suddenly waking up to this possibility, and only now treating it with the proper urgency. If it were truly an “extinction level” threat as I’ve seen some on the Left call it, it strikes me that there was plenty of room for the normal political solution to that, namely coalition building. And I guess Hillary has brought on some of the power centers associated with the right, like Wall Street and the neocons. However, the more populous of us are the social folks. And at least a majority of the orthodox Catholics, not to mention the Mormons, absolutely loathe Trump and do not trust him and could have been picked off. (While a few evangelicals I like share this, I don’t know that community as well). But it seems the Left is interested in shooting for 50.1% because … Moloch. Far be it from me to tell them what to do, but that seems like taking horrible chances. Kind of the inverse of “what’s the matter with Kansas”. Catholics at least always used to be Democrats until we were kicked out. I for one am hopefully waiting for the day we’re invited back, but again … Moloch.
    I’m not sure how folks here at SSC think you can defeat Moloch, but as a Christian I’d say the only way is through the Cross, in this case, the acceptance of personal suffering in order to better love others and to avoid supporting evil. That’s a pretty tall order though, at least for non-saints like me, to accept the possible closing of Catholic institutions and loss of my business, not to mention the extension of death culture under HRC’s desired policy and judges. I’m not sure if Trump reaches this level of evil in different ways – it certainly seems close. I guess as atheists you’re not going to pray for my wisdom and courage, so I’m hoping you all have another solution for our own struggle against Moloch.

    • pku says:

      I generally agree with you, and wish the left would be more open on abortion (hell, like 40% of democrats are pro-life, and even most of the people I know who identify as pro-choice would probably be against legal abortion after 20 weeks). But then that’s easy for me to say, I’m (moderately-ish) pro life, so I’m just asking them to negotiate where I have nothing to lose.

      That said, do you genuinely think polarization is low enough that a sincere gesture towards people like you on the part of the left would get a significant number of them to reconsider? As a rule of the thumb, about 25% of democrats and 50% of republicans are thoroughly polarized, in the sense of a blanket refusal to compromise (e.g., 20%/40% wouldn’t want their daughter marrying a member of the opposite party, and 30%/60% don’t want their party to make political compromise). Going by Trump’s numbers with mormons and evangelicals I suspect the numbers for those groups are much better – what do you think it would take to make a significant number of them vote left (say, enough for the democrats to win Utah?)

      • Homo Iracundus says:

        I think their party organizers care more about having recreational abortions than you do about stopping them.
        There doesn’t seem to be much point in them offering compromise if you’re not going to do anything about it anyway.

        • pku says:

          Is she a party organizer and if so, in what capacity? From googling her it seems like she’s just some random horrible person with a twitter.

          • Anonymous says:

            To these people twitter is the entire world. That’s why they get so hysterical about the “culture war” that’s not a war at all.

            Personally, I think the solution is more vitamin D.

          • Deiseach says:

            (cw: TV Tropes link)

            I note she spells one of her names with an apostrophe.

            Hm – indication that she may not be from this planet? Use of the Punctuation Shaker as per the Law of Alien Names? 🙂

      • Tom Fool says:

        I think it’s definitely a multi-election cycle issue until numbers get significant. After the Bob Casey incidents, there was the Rahm Emanuel attempt to make amends and bring back the Stupak coalition, but that didn’t turn out well either. With high polarization, expanding a coalition will take a while without seeing immediate results, until trust is built back up. Though I think Trump provided a fairly unique opportunity as well. HRC is too committed to SJW issues to be credible — I can see her possibly selling out the Left’s peace or economy wings, but never the SJW wing. Even with his issues, at least Bernie seems honest enough I could trust him to make a deal. It’s the reverse problem for trying to bring POC to vote R, which I completely understand and takes a lot of trust.

        If Trump wins, it’ll provide another chance. There’s a fair amount of orthodox Catholic politicians and opinion folks who haven’t been shy about warning on Trump, even after the nomination and after they were reached out to by Trump folks. I’m pretty sure they will be on the enemies list if he wins.

        Regardless, you can still count on me to be an enemy of Moloch the best that I can, as I know most of the SSC crowd will be as well.

        • pku says:

          What was the Bob Casey incident?

          Re: Hillary, I think the situation may be better than you say (though not as great as you’d like). She seems relatively moderate on SJ issues (she started out as a Democrat before they were big), and I think they’re associated with her mostly because SJ types really love her as a woman in politics (Of course, that means that, to some degree, she has to embrace them back, since in politics you take what easy allies you can get).
          In terms of honesty, I’ll leave the inside view to your own judgement, but will say that from the outside view, Republicans have known for about eight years that they were probably going to run against her and have campaigned to tarnish her honesty in hopes of bringing her down – and since republicans aren’t cartoonishly incompetent, it’d be amazing if they hadn’t succeeded in biasing people (who don’t auto-hate them) against her at least a little. So to the extent that rationalism is an attempt to be aware of biases and try to make the right judgement around them, there’s a strong possibility for bias here – so consider that in making your own best judgement.

          (Also, I very much appreciate your level of charity).

          • Tom Fool says:

            Casey incident at Clinton’s first convention:
            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Robert_P._Casey&action=edit&section=9

            On the bias – fair enough. We’re not really a Fox crowd, but we have our media and blogs which I’m sure risk being an echo chamber as much as anyone else’s community. And yes, there’s a little fear-mongering there too. I’m happy to look at other sources you might suggest that would help allay those fears. Part of why I come to SSC – a place where its probable I can hear opposing views delivered with kindness and a respect for the truth.

          • pku says:

            As a pro-life democrat, that is seriously frustrating.

            Hopefully choosing Tim Kaine is a step in the right direction – he says vaguely pro-life and pro-catholic things, and even if he doesn’t legislate pro-life, it may be a sign that democrats are opening up to the idea of courting the religious vote.

            About Clinton: According to politifact, she’s about as honest as Bernie (see here and here), so if you consider him reasonably honest, you could probably say the same for her. Some people above brought up the issue that politifact may be biased towards democrats, which seems plausible, but shouldn’t affect the Clinton/Sanders comparaison much.

          • Deiseach says:

            he says vaguely pro-life and pro-catholic things

            Not enough to keep from getting 100 per cent approval from Planned Parenthood, and he’s perfectly happy to say that he thinks one day the Church will get with the times and catch up with enlightened thinking on women priests and gay rights.

            I’d agree he’s in the “Joe Biden/Nancy Pelosi” mode of Catholics The Democrat Party Likes, which is not something to pin your hopes onto if you’re hoping for any kind of centrist conservative rapprochement.

            When Tim Kaine was governor of Virginia, Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations objected to legislation he signed — including an “informed consent” abortion law and a law that okayed anti-abortion license plates. Since that time, Planned Parenthood regional organizations have worked to make sure that Senator Kaine understands the impact of these laws and that they do not result in better health or care for women.

            Senator Kaine has proven his understanding of reproductive health care, with his embrace of Planned Parenthood and his votes in the Senate, where he has been a true champion for protecting access to reproductive health care — including abortion — every chance he’s had.

            Oh, I’ll just bet th