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OT65: The Early Thread Gets The Worm

This is the bi-weekly visible open thread. There are hidden threads every few days here. Post about anything you want, ask random questions, whatever. Also:

1. New ad on the sidebar: 80,000 Hours, an effective altruist group that tries to help people find the highest-impact and best-fit altruistic careers. In particular, check out their book on the same question, which is FREE for TODAY ONLY for SSC readers.

2. Comments of the week: this thread where people explain and evaluate the conflicting claims that global warming is worse than vs. not as bad as IPCC predictions; TheContinentalOp on the Electoral College, Alex Zavoluk on the role of selection in the altitude/obesity link.

3. There will be a meetup at the lobby of the Conrad New York Hotel, 102 N End Ave, New York, New York 10282, at 12 noon on Sunday 12/18. Please watch this space and the Facebook page in case any of this changes.

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1,310 Responses to OT65: The Early Thread Gets The Worm

  1. HeelBearCub says:

    There has been a great deal of talk around here about the word “racist” lately.

    Much like porn, I have a feeling that it becomes hard to define in an exacting way, as much depends on context and intent. But it is possible to “know it when you see it”. Therefore, I am curious, how many people view the following statements by Carl Paladino as being racist? And I am putting this here in OT65 because I would like as many people on the right to comment as would like. I may repeat it in 65.25.

    Q. What would you most like to happen in 2017?
    A. Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford. He dies before his trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to Valerie Jarret, who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady cell mate mistook her for being a nice person and decapitated her.

    Q. What would you like to see go away in 2017?
    A. Michelle Obama. I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.

    • Montfort says:

      The first one not so much, it just seems generally in poor taste, unless there are old racial stereotypes about cow relations I’m unaware of.
      The second one sure, because it trips the “gorilla/ape/monkey” alarm. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think the gorilla/ape/monkey thing is well-known enough that people who don’t want to sound racist should know better than to mention one in the same sentence as a black person.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Pretty similar to what Montfort said, the first part just came across as vulgar personal invective without any particular racial component. And not even particularly clever or well-done vulgarity.

      I would add that “outback of Zimbabwe” bit also trips similar bells to the gorilla talk, and seems a bit surreal. I mean, why Zimbabwe? Did Michelle make some comments defending their craptastic history of governance? If it’s some sort of “Go back where you came from” slur, why to her and not Obama going back to Kenya or somesuch?

      That said, without context, I can’t really tell if this was intended as a racist attack, or was motivated by racial prejudice at all, or whether this is a case of an asshole grabbing for the most high-impact and emotionally-loaded imagery he can lay hands on to vent an entirely personal animus. In which case he’s still an asshole and shows poor judgement, but is probably not any more racist than a lot of the people calling each other faggots on Xbox Live.

      EDIT: I suppose I should concede that there are many who think that the use of fag and homo in such venues are indicative of deepseated and widespread homophobia and casual heteronormative bias, but I’ve never agreed with that view. Again, high emotional energy, high-impact.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        this was intended as a racist attack

        I don’t think the intent to be racist is necessary, merely the intent, in the case of an attack, to be offensive.

        Otherwise, it would be praxrically impossible to say something was a racist attack unless the person said “I intend to be racist”.

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          To my mind, unambiguously, clearly racist statements are ones like “I don’t like black people, they smell and I don’t trust them, I don’t want them around me” and so on.

          I don’t have much of a problem with that because in my experience actual racists are pretty happy to say things exactly that blatant openly given half a chance. Including on the job, and then acting surprised when HR cans their ass a few weeks later.

    • Machina ex Deus says:

      1: Vile, but not racist. You can easily imagine someone saying the same about Bush and Cheney.

      2: Racist, in itself. There’s a fence around associating black people with non-humans (because doing so is typical of unambiguous racists throughout history), and when you cross that fence, you’re strongly signaling racism.

      Paladino’s responses were apparently written, in response to a survey by a local (Buffalo) alternative weekly. So this goes beyond poor impulse control, to doubling-down on a bad decision. Unless he developed a brain tumor after being named Trump’s New York State campaign co-chairman, it indicates either a lack of vetting on the campaign’s part, or a desire to lose.

      • BBA says:

        Similar comments from Paladino came out during his run for governor in 2010. But that was back when the old rules of political campaigning applied – i.e., saying extremely vile things hurt your chances of winning – and it moved Paladino from a long shot to a no-hoper. These days, it’s just the new new normal.

    • The Nybbler says:

      The second one is making use of racist ideas of black people being akin to gorillas, so that one’s racist. Might also be making use of racist and sexist ideas about black women being unfeminine.

      The first one is vile but isn’t racist towards Obama or black people; at least, I’m unaware of any stereotype about black people having relations with cows, so it seems to just be a personal insult. It’s possible Paladino has some idea that black people are generally traitors, but you can’t tell from the statement; I’d take his feelings about Jarret to be more likely to refer to her birth in Iran.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      As a follow up, note the following:

      Paladino verified to The Buffalo News that he did make the comments, while at the same time slamming News editors for inquiring.

      “Of course I did,” he said Friday morning. “Tell them all to go f—- themselves.”

      “Tell that Rod Watson I made that comment just for him,” he continued, referencing one of the News’ black editors who is also a columnist.

      And yet, when making at least some statements that are explicitly racist amidst others that are “merely” grossly insulting, and then singling out an editor who “happen” to be back, he denies the racism.

      • hlynkacg says:

        I’m not defending Paladino, but perhaps there should be corollary to Hanlon’s razor that goes “do not attribute to racism that which is adequately explained by stupidity/malice”.

        • hyperboloid says:

          do not attribute to racism that which is adequately explained by stupidity/malice

          In my experience stupidity and malice are highly correlated with racism. Unintelligent hateful people are much more likely to resort to making demeaning generalizations about other ethnic groups.

          • hlynkacg says:

            It’s also highly correlated with water being wet and dogs barking.

            Saying that a particular insult was particularly insulting doesn’t actually tell us anything about any of the parties involved. As such the only proper answer to HBC’s question is that there is insufficient data for a meaningful answer.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @hlynkacg:

            I’ll ask the same question I asked before to others. Are you saying that a statement can only be classified as racist if you know the person in question thought it was racist when they said it and intended it to be racist?

          • hlynkacg says:

            It depends on how broadly you want to define “racism” (see Lysenko’s comment below) but I’m personally inclined to say no. If you want to argue that you want to certain person is bigoted and abusive on the basis of “race”, go ahead and argue that. But the claim that there is a difference between “what you said is racist” and “you are racist” is fucking horseshit. Words aren’t racist, people are racist.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          If #2 ain’t racist, what is?

          Do we ever get to look at what people are saying and call it racist, or is it always just stupid? As I said above, does the person how to come out and say “I am explicitly intending to be racist?

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            That depends, HBC. Does racist in this context mean “using terminology and imagery historically associated with beliefs about racial inferiority and bias”? If so, yes.

            Or does it mean “communicating the speaker’s beliefs about racial inferiority and bias”? If so, no, more evidence required. It nudges prior probability up a bit, but only a bit.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            There is a difference between “what you said is racist” and “you are racist”.

            See this rather well known video by II’ll Docttrine.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Yes, there is, which is why I said “If the first definition, yes”.

            If I seem pedantic, it’s because while I have never found you to argue in bad faith here, I have also literally NEVER had or even seen a conversation about racism online that was not either begun in bad faith and the intent to weaponize the issue and use it as a club against a given target, or did not degenerate to that level over time.

            Therefore, I approach any such conversation by laying out my terms as clearly as possible, in the anticipation that before too long, someone will come along and start attempting to deploy a bit of tactical ambiguity.

        • hyperboloid says:

          If Paladino wanted to attack the Obamas for being liberals, or Socialists, or something else unrelated to race, why bring up Zimbabwe? The only possible connection to Michele Obama is that she’s black.

          In Paladino’s lurid screed Barack Obama is guilty of bestiality, and Michele is a Zimbabwean transsexual; it implies that he thinks those things are equivalently objectionable. If I say “hlynkacg, your mother is a whore”, it’s likely that we can infer that I have a low opinion of sex workers.

          We have a social norm against demeaning people based on their ethnic origins, if you reject that norm just come out and say it. When right wingers defend comments like Paladino’s I don’t think their objecting to categorizing any particular statement as offensive, so much as rejecting the entire concept of racism as such. It’s very clear to me that many commenters here would refuse to classify any comment by any right wing politician as racist, on the grounds that such prejudices are entirely justified.

    • Crude and rude, but I don’t think it has much to do with race. I can imagine a similar set of comments targeting Bill and Hillary Clinton.

      Indeed the first part would work better for Bill, since his image is, and Barack’s is not, associated with aggressive sexuality. On the second part, the implication of masculinity would probably work better for Hillary, the link to Africa and gorillas less well.

      But all of it looks like crude insults by someone deliberately trying to be offensive.

      • On the meta question of what counts as racist.

        To me, a racist is someone who dislikes or despises people of some race because of their race. I can see no evidence in the quotes that Paladino’s dislike for the Obamas has anything to do with their race.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          1) If someone is trying to be extremely offensive, and they employ something that has clear racist implications, what are the odds that their specific choice of words only meant to give offense in the less offensive manner?

          2) Are you making the argument that a statement can only be determined to be racist if we know the persons thoughts at the specific time they spoke them?

        • BBA says:

          Well, he could have named any administration staffer, but he named Valerie Jarrett. And then he could have named any Buffalo News columnist, but he named Rod Watson.

          At some point the distinction “he’s not provably racist, he’s just going out of his way to insult particular black people” ceases to have any value except for the most pedantic of pedants.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Well, he could have named any administration staffer, but he named Valerie Jarrett. And then he could have named any Buffalo News columnist, but he named Rod Watson.

            This is the (IMO invalid) “racism of the gaps”; if he attacks a black person it must be because that person is black unless proven otherwise. And for Watson, it seems likely it just has to do with his ongoing feud with Watson.

          • rlms says:

            @The Nybbler
            Attacking a black person seemingly arbitrarily is some degree of evidence in favour of racism. Doing so repeatedly is increasingly strong evidence.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Especially, when answering the meta-question, you go out of your way to specify another black person.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It’s _tiny_ evidence. Arbitrarily close to zero in the case of Watson, with whom he has prior history. As an argument for a person’s racism, it’s just a “gotcha”. “You attacked a black person, you must be racist, you racist!”

          • rlms says:

            The key part is “seemingly arbitrarily”. Attacking Obama is not intrinsically racist, even though he’s black. Saying “I hate those greedy bankers, like…” and then naming twenty bankers who all just happen to be black is distinctly suspicious. I’m sure you would instantly recognise this pattern in other situations. If someone claimed “I really care about human rights abuses. For instance…” and then named twenty accounts of human rights abuse committed by the US, would you assume that they just happened to pick the US rather than Russia, China, Saudi Arabia etc.? Or would you suspect that they might have some problem with the US specifically?

          • The Nybbler says:

            @rlms:

            He didn’t name 20 arbitrary people. He named two, one of whom he has a history with and one of whom is apparently some kind of bete noir (no pun intended) for some conservatives. This is incredibly weak evidence.

      • hyperboloid says:

        Paladino joked about Barack Obama being caught in an act of bestiality, and Michele being a Zimbabwean transsexual. If I said that 2017 will see David Friedman deported to Israel ,where he belongs, after he is caught sodomizing a twelve year old girl, would you not see an antisemitic implication?

  2. Machina ex Deus says:

    Well, since I can’t argue with lefties for a while,* I might as well pick an argument with a libertarian.

    Hey, @DavidFriedman: I’m a fairly mainstream, National Review-flavor conservative. What libertarian position can you persuade me to adopt? (Sorry, too late on pot.)

    (* I was so insulted at being left off the right-wing blacklist that I’m boycotting the next few threads. Ob OOTS.)

    • I don’t know what positions you currently reject. Possible candidates:

      1. Free trade.

      2. Recreational Drug legalization.

      3. Medical drug legalization. The FDA can certify drugs, but doctors and patients are free to use uncertified drugs if they want to.

      4. Competing privately issued monies.

      5. Abolish professional licensing, including doctors. Again, government agencies (or anyone else) can certify professionals, customers are free to use uncertified professionals if they want.

      6. Non-interventionist foreign policy.

      Surely you disagree with at least one of those.

      • Machina ex Deus says:

        Free trade would not be an interesting argument; I’d like to see us gradually head in that direction. Similarly medical drug legalization. Competing privately-issued monies are obviously impossible, plus they’re are already here, and don’t seem to be causing any problems. Legally requiring a license to practice is usually a scam.

        And I’m not the only conservative who’d respond that way. Congratulations, libertarians are apparently convincing conservatives on some points.

        (I kind of expected you to name more culture-war topics.)

        So we’re left with recreational drug legalization (and I already think pot, LSD, MDMA, and most psychedelics should be legal, so we’d just be arguing heroin/crack/meth) and non-interventionist foreign policy.

        I’ll take Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy for $100, Alex.

        Let’s start with a policy target, and ignore how to get there for now.

        We share a vision of the U.S. trading with the rest of the world, with some flow of people (and a whole lot more flow of people in your vision). I just don’t see how we keep that going without a military force that sometimes does things outside the country.

        I do think many foreign interventions are mistakes (Libya, Canada). But some I think were necessary (Afghanistan) and others were at least defensible (Iraq 2003, though I didn’t think so in 2003). If Iran were on the verge of having nuclear weapons, and a military action could stop them, I’d be in favor of it.

        What level of non-intervention would you like to see? How would that policy be better than the current level of foreign intervention? Would it be better than a perfect interventionist policy?

        • What level of non-intervention would you like to see? How would that policy be better than the current level of foreign intervention? Would it be better than a perfect interventionist policy?

          The U.S. military limits itself to protecting the U.S. against attacks. That policy would be better because an interventionist foreign policy is one of those things that it is worse to do badly than not to do, and the U.S. government is likely to do it badly. I wrote a chapter in defense of that argument quite a long time ago–Chapter 45, “Is There a Libertarian Foreign Policy,” of the second edition of my first book, conveniently webbed.

          A perfect interventionist policy is by definition better, since when intervention is worse than non-intervention a perfect interventionist doesn’t intervene.

          Why do you regard competing privately issued monies as obviously impossible?

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            The U.S. military limits itself to protecting the U.S. against attacks.

            This is not specific enough: One classic way to protect against attack is to preemptively invade. Another way to protect against attack is to conquer everything you can, creating a deep buffer (e.g. the Roman Empire, the Soviet Empire). Another is to keep an enemy’s country unstable with small military interventions (e.g. the contras in Nicaragua). I assume you are against all of those ways.

            So would the U.S. military simply stand by until we absorb the first punch? How do you extend this to nuclear warfare?

            What should we do if we see a large coalition coming together against us? Wouldn’t it be prudent to attack them before they’re ready?

            That policy would be better because an interventionist foreign policy is one of those things that it is worse to do badly than not to do, and the U.S. government is likely to do it badly.

            Do you think the U.S. government will be competent at a non-interventionist foreign policy? If so, why? If not, then do you think the costs are somehow guaranteed to be lower than incompetence at interventionist foreign policy?

            I wrote a chapter in defense of that argument quite a long time ago–Chapter 45, “Is There a Libertarian Foreign Policy,” of the second edition of my first book, conveniently webbed.

            Yeah, this is why I don’t argue much with people who’ve written books on the subject at hand: I’m writing first drafts from scratch, they can just toss off a link to something polished. Grumble, grumble… if you really wanted me to read it, you wouldn’t have put 44 chapters ahead of it.

            A perfect interventionist policy is by definition better, since when intervention is worse than non-intervention a perfect interventionist doesn’t intervene.

            I don’t think that’s true, and even if it is, it isn’t obviously true. The situations are not independent. In fact, some opportunities to intervene will only occur because of past interventions, and other opportunities to intervene will only occur because of past non-interventions.

            Feel free to pick which points to reply to; in my opinion, the last one is the most interesting, followed by what an incompetent non-interventionist policy would look like.

            (Oh, and the full sentence about currencies was: “Competing privately-issued monies are obviously impossible, plus they’re already here, and don’t seem to be causing any problems.”)

        • I kind of expected you to name more culture-war topics.

          Culture war topics either involve policies that violate freedom of association, which I am opposed to whether or not I agree with the cause it is being done for, or topics about how people should choose to live their lives. On the latter I’m pretty conservative. I’m in a conventional, monogamous, closed marriage, do not use any illegal drugs. I did try marijuana a few times forty some years ago but I didn’t like the effect.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            Culture war topics are also the main thing separating (non-populist) conservatives from libertarians (at least in the American examples I’ve seen). But if you’re not interested in convincing me that same-sex couples should be able to legally marry, I can’t really force you.

      • Jaskologist says:

        If agree with 4 of these and don’t care about the remaining 2, might I already be a libertarian?

      • Protagoras says:

        I think this list is kind of cheaty. Do you consider someone who thinks we should have border guards to stop illegal immigrants, terrorists, and terrorist weapons to be anti-free trade? Because obviously there are lots of people who would say they love free trade who would favor guarding the borders against those things, and once it’s accepted that delaying trade at the border to check for contraband could be OK, the debate has become how much and in which ways to interfere with trade, not whether to interfere with trade. And a whole lot of views on that call themselves “free trade,” and there is of course no official standard as to what counts as genuine free trade, so people may have extensive disagreements with you that won’t be revealed as long as you use the two word description of your position.

        And I think a lot of rationalists who are not outright libertarians are nonetheless more likely than the average person to agree with you on many of these issues; if I were a cynical sort, I’d think you were trying to give one of those lists that try to convince people that they’re really libertarians after all, by leaving out the issues where libertarians have the most unpopular positions. Of course, perhaps it’s because you made a list for a right-winger that you didn’t manage to come up with anything a leftist like me particularly strongly opposes, but then the rightist says the same thing, making me think it really is just a greatest hits of inoffensive libertarianism list.

        • Do you consider someone who thinks we should have border guards to stop illegal immigrants, terrorists, and terrorist weapons to be anti-free trade?

          No, although I’m not sure doing that is very useful. The U.S. hosts almost seventy million foreign tourists a year. Unless one is willing to radically reduce that, preventing illegal immigrants or terrorists from getting in doesn’t look like a viable strategy.

        • Machina ex Deus says:

          leaving out the issues where libertarians have the most unpopular positions

          So? Suggest some.

  3. Deiseach says:

    Boy, this voluntary exile thing is hard. I am going to stick to my pledge not to comment in the next three Open Threads (starting with the current one, 65.25) but leave it to the left-inclined.

    It’s tough, though. Already there are two or three points I want to put my tuppence worth in.

    Gotta remember: it’s a charge to my honour to keep my word! 🙂

    • hlynkacg says:

      I know the feeling. Stay strong sister!

    • Tekhno says:

      Just think about it this way: now OT65 is the right wing solidarity thread. It’s kind of appropriate to conservatism to hunker down in a traditional thread.

      • Deiseach says:

        It’s kind of appropriate to conservatism to hunker down in a traditional thread.

        Yes! Good sturdy old-fashioned threads like they used to make in our grandparents’ day, not these fancy modern threads that change with every fad and you don’t even know what material they’re made out of anymore.

        Threads with lumps in that you have to strain out with a sieve, that’s what we stand for!

    • keranih says:

      *snort*

      I remain unnamed chopped liver, and so I shan’t refrain from gifting the universe w/ my pov.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      As a point, there seem to be plenty of right wingers in 65.25.

      Subjective, I’m sure.

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      Eh, not -just- subjective, HBC.

      For my part, I agreed with the idea as something to be considered for an official rule, but didn’t go so far as Deiseach and unilaterally volunteer to implement it on myself.

      I think most of the others who agreed to abide by it if Scott lays it down and said it had merit (like myself) are still posting in the meantime.

  4. SSC is one of the higher quality discussion forums available online. Obviously the Open Threads are a big part of this and have some really awesome comments. But because of the huge volume of posts, it’s often hard to wade through the gigantic mass of comments to find what you really want to talk about. The OT is also often so massive there’s serious delays loading the thing on some devices (plus the reload every-time you post etc).

    It would be quite nice if the was more organization to the comments, particularly the OT, so it was more manageable to read. This would also mean it might be potentially possible to look back over the history of discussion on a topic, to have some idea where the same stuff is repeated or if honestly new ideas are coming up. The sub seems slightly better at this, but doesn’t quite have the right structure, and doesn’t attract the numbers of people.

    I wonder if having themed OTs might be a step in the right direction. So if the OTs are consistently getting a lot of discussion about the US election, or politics generally, or futurist topics, or rationalism, or health topics, or whatever, then Scott you could post a themed thread, eg. “Politics Open Thread”. If you’re really into politics this week, go there. If you’re not, go to the regular OT and read a more concise variety of other topics, because in there politics comments are politely removed and posters instructed to head over to the Politics OT. If you want to read over discussions involving say economics for the past year, now you have much less text to search. Basically, greatly reduced comment sprawl, but still freedom to discuss whatever you like!

  5. On the subject of people on the left feeling beat upon …

    Is there a solution that involves different people choosing to see different subsets of the comment thread? If you are on the left and you think my comments are almost always dismissive and uninteresting, the obvious solution is to configure the software so you don’t see my comments. I don’t think that can be done at present, but is there a reason why it couldn’t be?

    • hlynkacg says:

      I actually think that “shadow bans” of the sort you’re describing are even more corrosive to community norms and good epistemology than conventional bans/censorship.

      I would honestly rather see everyone on Tekhno’s list (including myself and you) perma-banned than see such a “solution” implemented.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I believe this actually already possible, as their is a client-side tool that will autohide all comments from a certain nickname.

      I do not believe that is a good solution. The obvious failure mode is easy to see. The regulars shadow-ban people and new-users haven’t, so the new user experience is increasingly dominated by those who have been shadow banned.

      Plus, my goal is to influence the norms and shape of the community, not have my own personal best experience.

      • hlynkacg says:

        The obvious failure mode is easy to see. The regulars shadow-ban people and new-users haven’t, so the new user experience is increasingly dominated by those who have been shadow banned.

        This in conjunction with the deliberate cultivation of an “out of touch elite” who have no idea of what’s happening in their own community is why I believe that this is even more corrosive than conventional banning.

        • Machina ex Deus says:

          Why does every single conversation on this site keep coming back to the failures of the Clinton campaign?

          • hlynkacg says:

            huh?

          • AnonEEmous says:

            honestly that’s how I read it too first off

            now that the election is over, gotta calm down. Wish Clinton would just go away for a couple of months, let everyone recuperate from the election. (Trump obviously won so that’s not an option, as such.)

        • keranih says:

          Mostly in agreement. These sorts of “hide these people so I don’t have to look upon them” tools are in wide use on Tumblr – and twitter, for that matter.

          (I don’t think it’s without any virtue – Tumblr (also) uses it for hiding spoilers, and it can be used there to block images/post tags, rather than *just* people.)

          I think that a self-initiated block on some people (so that one chooses to not listen to them ones-ownself) is far less bad than outright banning or blocking people (so that no one in the community can hear them). To me, the first seems more like freedom of association, and the second most like censorship.

          (I think that blocking people so that one doesn’t have to hear them is…a rather sophomoric move. But there are days when all of us are twelve.)

          • (I think that blocking people so that one doesn’t have to hear them is…a rather sophomoric move. But there are days when all of us are twelve.)

            We are all selective in what sources of information we go to, what people we listen to. If one had infinite time it might make sense to read everything and everyone, but we don’t.

            This whole discussion comes out of some people feeling that the active presence of too many people who disagree with them makes them uncomfortable. If that’s the problem, arranging for those who feel that way to see only a subset of those who disagree with them looks like the least damaging solution.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:

            This whole discussion comes out of some people feeling that the active presence of too many people who disagree with them makes them uncomfortable.

            What a horribly dismissive and insulting statement. Also, prove it (or refrain from making the accusation).

          • @HBC:

            How else would you describe the argument that having too many right wing people in the group drives left wing people out?

          • skef says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Suppose every third poster who engaged with you here put three parentheses around your name. a) Would you feel less comfortable and b) Would your characterization capture that situation accurately?

          • I don’t think I would feel uncomfortable. It would strike me as rather weird. I might try to see if I could figure out what the view of the world was that led to that practice, see if I could talk one of them out of it.

            A very long time ago, I was invited to a conference in Paris. A little before it happened, I was told that a number of other participants had withdrawn in protest against the inclusion of someone they viewed as a fascist–I believe someone who was part of Le Pen’s movement (Pere).

            My reaction was that if he really was a fascist I would be very interested in meeting him, since it was obviously a point of view that had convinced a lot of people and I had never heard a competent defense of it.

            As it turned out, he also withdrew in counter protest, but I managed to arrange to have dinner with him. He wasn’t a fascist, was interesting in an odd way, but that’s another story.

          • @Skef:

            Another response:

            I spend some time arguing climate issues on FB. It’s less fun than arguing with people here because the quality of the argument is much lower, which is why I spend much more time here.

            Many of those arguing what I would describe as the Alarmist position on that issue routinely refer to those who disagree with them as “deniers,” routinely imply that anyone who disagrees with them is scientifically ignorant and probably a Christian fundamentalist.

            That’s annoying because it gets in the way of the arguments I want to have, but I wouldn’t say it makes me uncomfortable. I know that my scientific background is much better than that of most people on either side of that particular argument, so why should I be made uncomfortable by other people believing things about me that are obviously false?

            Similarly, if you are a left winger who supports (say) market socialism, it might be annoying if people imply that you are a Stalinist who believes in the superiority of central planning, but I don’t see why it would make you uncomfortable. Similarly if you are a left wing pacifist being blamed for Stalin’s invasion of Poland.

          • skef says:

            Can you be explicit about b? Take it as given that you’re very cosmopolitan about this sort of thing. I don’t see that attitude as doing the work of making “I disagree, and think the primary effect of raising the minimum wage would be fewer jobs for low-skilled workers” and “you’re disgusting” equivalent. And if they are different, the shades in between likely are too.

            The original expressed concerns had to do with differences in interpretive charity, possibly tracing to “tribal” affiliations. Your characterization just washes that concern away.

          • I don’t see that attitude as doing the work of making “I disagree, and think the primary effect of raising the minimum wage would be fewer jobs for low-skilled workers” and “you’re disgusting” equivalent.

            They aren’t equivalent. I mentioned the FB climate discussions, where there is a fair amount of hostility and contempt, most of it tribal.

            That makes for a less interesting conversation, but more for the lack of people actually arguing the issues, of whom there are a few there but not many, than for the presence of those not doing so.

            Taking it to SSC, I can understand people saying that the conversation would be better if less of it consisted of expressions of hostility and more of argument. But the main solution being discussed involved taking people out of the discussion, which would result in less argument as well as less negative comment. Perhaps my impression of the problem was distorted by the solution being mostly, but not exclusively, discussed. Also, of course, expressions of hostility are probably more salient to those they are targeted at.

            Going back to the idea of individuals arranging not to see posts by other individuals, if the problem is people being made uncomfortable by expressions of hostility rather than disagreement, selectively removing from the part of the conversation you see the people who are acting that way would seem an obvious solution.

            It might have the further advantage of discouraging the behavior, since it’s no fun insulting someone if he can’t hear you and if he never responds you may eventually realize he isn’t listening.

            Do I now correctly understand what you view the problem as being?

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            What a horribly dismissive and insulting statement. Also, prove it (or refrain from making the accusation).

            Can you explain a little about why you consider it dismissive and insulting? An alternative, more-accurate/fair/charitable/non-insulting summary would probably be helpful.

          • Iain says:

            I can’t speak for HBC, but I agree that the phrasing is not maximally charitable. Most of the left-wing people who have commented on the issue have emphasized that they value the ability to engage with diverse opinions on this site. Most of them (us?) have also pointed to specific behaviours (dogpiling, gratuitous smears) that they find aggravating. It’s not, as David Friedman implies, discomfort with the mere presence of right-wing ideas, and it’s a bit snide to imply that is is.

            Bear in mind that this experiment was not proposed by a left-wing poster. My impression is that it has also received more support from non-left posters.

          • It’s not, as David Friedman implies, discomfort with the mere presence of right-wing ideas,

            What I said was “the active presence of too many people who disagree with them.”

            Not the “mere presence” but the active presence in large numbers.

            As best I could tell that was what was being complained about. What is dogpiling other than lots of people responding to a post to disagree with it? It’s a bit pointless if they are all saying the same thing, but that’s a natural enough result of a medium where people often respond without checking to see what other responses have been made.

            Perhaps we should all make an effort to avoid doing so, or to delete responses when we notice that our point has already been made? I try to, but I don’t expect I always succeed.

          • Montfort says:

            David Friedman:

            What I said was “the active presence of too many people who disagree with them.”…
            As best I could tell that was what was being complained about.

            Are you sure? You opened this comment thread proposing the hypothetical problem:

            If you are on the left and you think my comments are almost always dismissive and uninteresting

            Which doesn’t sound like the number of voices are the issue.

            If you mean in Tekhno’s thread, perhaps you also noticed that most of the posts by actual self-identified left-leaning posters disagreed that dogpiling was the issue and complained of other perceived misconduct by (some) right-leaning posters. (Even citizensearth also complains about politicization of unpolitical topics).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:
            You like to get your subtle digs in, an then nitpick about the precise language, don’t you?

            Why you don’t you steelman what Iain and I are saying and come up with your best argument why what you said was not constructive and likely to engender ill will?

          • Iain says:

            @David Friedman:

            To be explicit: the dismissive reading of your statement is “there are a bunch of left-wingers who just can’t handle intellectual opposition, and they complained about having to interact with right-wing ideas”. If you were actually just talking about dogpiling, as you claim, then the next sentence is pretty strange. What do you mean, there are no better solutions? You have provided suggestions for dealing with dogpiling yourself! This reading also fits much better with the flow of the conversation at that point: “blocking people so that one doesn’t have to hear them is a rather sophomoric move”, and so on.

            Stop playing dumb. You wrote a deliberately snide remark and worded it just ambiguously enough that you could defend it if challenged. I do not expect you to admit it in this thread, but I hope that you are at least honest enough to admit it to yourself.

            To be clear: I love some good snark, and I am sure that I have occasionally taken it too far. I am keeping this thread alive not because of the comment itself, but because you seem to be doubling down on your denial that you were being snarky in the first place.

          • @Montfort:

            I was describing the basis for the comment of mine that HBC reacted very negatively to. You are now quoting a later comment of mine based on a somewhat different interpretation of the problem due to comments responding to my earlier comment.

            To expand (editing):

            Original theory–problem is too many active posters disagreeing. One solution is for people facing that problem to reduce the number of such posters they read.

            Various people strongly object to that interpretation.

            Revised theory: Problem is too many people disagreeing in an unproductive way, hostile and dismissive.

            If that is the problem, the same solution works, indeed works even better, since people facing that problem can selectively eliminate from what they read those people behaving in that way.

            I hope that makes it clearer.

          • “To be explicit: the dismissive reading of your statement is “there are a bunch of left-wingers who just can’t handle intellectual opposition, and they complained about having to interact with right-wing ideas”.”

            Only if, in reading it, you leave out what I just quoted from the post of mine you are objecting to:

            “the active presence of too many people who disagree with them.”

            The clear implication of both that and the suggestion was that a moderate number of people disagreeing would not be a problem. Which is inconsistent with your dismissive reading.

          • Montfort says:

            No, I’m afraid I didn’t quite follow. The “if you find [someone]… dismissive and uninteresting” comment was made (by you) Dec. 22; the “too many active voices” comment that HBC took offense at was made (by you) Dec. 23 (and your explanation of it that I quoted was on the 24th). To me, this makes it look like your initial understanding of the problem was perceived poster misconduct, and that you later commented as if the problem were number of disagreeing posts. Your last comment to me claims the reverse order, so maybe you’re using some other time frame?

            This might be a bit hard to untangle in text, already I think this post will be at least as confusing to you as yours was to me.

            Obviously you know your own mind better than I do, but I thought I would point out something that contributed to the perceived snark (for me, at least).

            As for your later comment (not addressed to me), the dismissive reading of the comment takes “too many” to imply a number that is perhaps “one” or otherwise very small. I would be surprised if you had not come across this kind of statement before. To give an example:
            “Stalinists tend to complain if there are too many active, vocal robber barons in a community” – I think it’s clear that here “too many” is just “one or more.”

            Continuing with the dismissive reading, the suggestion would then be taken as “such people can block all posters they perceive as too right-wing, leaving just token opposition.”

            I think part of the problem here is that in SSC culture (as I see it), one of the highest-valued virtues is the ability to charitably engage with everyone and not close themselves off from ideas. In other words, sincere words to the effect of your comment can sound to some sort of like an accusation of cowardice in the Old South.

      • houseboatonstyxb says:

        @ HeelBearCub
        I believe this actually already possible, as their is a client-side tool that will autohide all comments from a certain nickname.

        Yes. If you click on an avatar, a box comes up offering to hide all future posts by that person. Hide them from you, I mean. It doesn’t affect other people seeing them, so I think the term ‘ban’ is confusing here. How about “Plonk”?

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @houseboatonstyxb:
          You mean plonk as in from usenet days?

          I confess I was unfamiliar with the term, but yes it is more appropriate.

          Shadow ban is more familiar to me, and this is adjacent to that.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ HBC
            You mean plonk as in from usenet days?

            Yep. It’s probably too obscure, though. And it’s not as severe as plonk/killfile was iirc, because it’s easy to unhide. Anyway the crew here probably gave it some good name which I don’t remember.

            I confess I was unfamiliar with the term, but yes it is more appropriate. … Shadow ban is more familiar to me, and this is adjacent to that.

            This is nowhere near as severe as anything called a ‘ban’, sfaik. To make it resemble a ban, you’d have to get all or most of the commentariot to agree to hide this particular user, then each one apply it at her own account.

          • At a slight tangent, I liked the Usenet interface more than this one. It was easier to see what threads were there, select which ones interested you.

          • rmtodd says:

            At a slight tangent, I liked the Usenet interface more than this one.

            I feel compelled to chime in here. There is no such thing as the Usenet interface. One of the great strengths of Usenet is that it used a client/server protocol such that you could use any client that spoke the protocol and use it to read and post to Usenet. Hence the user interface was much more under the control of the user, and allowed much more functionality without requiring any changes on the server end.

            Although I’d have to agree that pretty much any of the once widely-used Unix-based Usenet clients (nn, rn, trn, tin, GNUS) in terms of functionality blew away pretty much any web forum or blog comment section I’ve ever seen.

        • Is there a way of undoing it?

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            Death

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ DavidFriedman
            Is there a way of undoing it?

            Of un-hiding with SSC’s ‘hide user’? Yes. The hide-ee posts’ texts don’t come up, but their avatar and nickname do. Clicking on the avatar brings up the same little box saying “Do you want to unhide this user?”

            All this happens in the same thread, so you see the avatar or text at its place in the discussion.

            I think there’s also a ‘Show’ option to toggle/hide show a particular post without un-hiding the rest.

          • @Houseboat:

            Thanks. So what I was suggesting is already possible without any changes to the interface.

  6. rlms says:

    Anyone else associate Christmas with Nazis?

    • Tekhno says:

      This comment made me burst out laughing, but then I thought about it a bit, and I guess you could analogize the idea of Christmas being this thin veneer of Christianity with Paganism underneath to the Nazis in some way. I can think of other things. Santa comes down the chimney and leaves presents, undesirables go up the chimney and leave presents (their property and assets).

      I’m not sure what you are going for though. Please elaborate.

      • rlms says:

        I just have a mental link between Christmas and Nazis for some reason, not based on actual connection. I imagine it comes from the fact that many films with Nazis are set in winter.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I don’ think Hans Gruber was a Nazi. Just a sociopathic, charismatic, criminal bent on using the levers of power to bring glory and riches to his band of blond-haired, blue-eyed supporters under the guise of bringing about a better world.

          Hey ….

          • hyperboloid says:

            I think Hans Gruber was supposed to be a leftist turned ordinary criminal. From what I understand, in the novel (yes Die Hard was based on a novel) there is a very clear Baader-Meinhof parallel.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            Googling, I found a Die Hard wiki which stated that, in-movie, he was kicked out of a movement called “volksfrei”, so I googled that and found:

            https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110608221843AA16flO

            To sum up: volksfrei = “free people’s movement”, and google translate informs me that volk = people and frei = free, so I trust that part of it. Sounds pretty Left to me, honestly. I guess if we’re talking about National Socialists that makes sense, though ?

          • Aapje says:

            In the book that was the basis for the movie (Nothing Lasts Forever) it was the RAF/Baader-Meinhof, which was a left-wing terrorist group.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @AnonEEmous

            I have very little knowledge of the German language, so any teutonic SSCers can feel free to correct me, but I’m pretty sure “volksfrei”, is gibberish. In German adjectives always come before nouns and are inflected depending on the gender of the noun. “Volksfrei” is just “people free”, it’s completely ungrammatical.

            Unlike the romance languages, German has three grammatical genders, masculine, feminine, and neuter.
            Volk is neuter, so I think, free peoples movement would be
            “Freie Volksbewegung”, but I’m not entirely sure.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            Yeah, the language might be off, but I think that’s a problem the film-makers had more than anything. (And I’m not saying you’d disagree with this either, or anything – just getting it out there.)

            I decided to get my facts 100% solid, and found this very nice 3-second clip

            https://getyarn.io/yarn-clip/c14f2744-e726-43ec-a102-b7e98d0a761b

            of a news anchor saying “a member of the radical West German volksfrei movement” with a picture of a young Hans Gruber displayed.

            So, looks like the film-makers did exactly what I did and basically used Google Translate. Heh. Good times.

          • Tibor says:

            @hyperboloid: Also, it would be volkfrei if anything. People-free does not seem like gibberish to me, it just means that some place is free of people. Also, das Volk is rather something like “the People” as in sort of like a nation rather than any group of people (that would be “die Leute”), I don’t think there is a good distinction between these two words in English.

          • hyperboloid says:

            @Tibor
            Yeah, “people free” should be “people’s free” there, because the basic problem with Volksfrei is that it’s treating feri as a noun. Volkfrei, with no S, sounds to my unenlightened ears like a valid German construction (perhaps the inverse of Judenfrei), but it would be a strange name for leftist terrorist group. I think the screen writer just looked up two German words a stuck them together, judging correctly that American audiences wouldn’t care.

          • Winter Shaker says:

            Hyperboloid:

            Unlike the romance languages, German has three grammatical genders, masculine, feminine, and neuter.

            Point of pedantry: unlike most of the Romance Languages. Romanian is the only Romance language (as far as I know) to have retained all three grammatical genders … though in a weird kind of cheaty way, where neuter words look like masculine in the singular and feminine in the plural.

          • Tibor says:

            @hyperboloid: Not entirely weird. The radical left (well, the Green Party Youth, so not the most radical left, although not that far from it) has protested recently against people waving German flags at football matches (in the European championship) because in their view patriotism=nationalism=racism and they reject the idea of nationhood entirely. I can imagine them calling themselves Volkfrei, especially since the word das Volk has some associations with national socialism, at least in Germany (and in any case it sounds kind of melodramatic and perhaps even a little archaic the way “the people” does not sound in English).

    • John Schilling says:

      Anyone else associate Christmas with Nazis?

      Only the ones played by Katherine Heigl.

    • Deiseach says:

      All that’s coming to mind is “The Sound of Music”, and I wonder if that is as much to do with how it’s one of those movies that gets shown on TV every Christmas as it is with the “fleeing from the Nazis during winter” ending.

  7. Deiseach says:

    Happy Shortest Day of the Year, everybody!

    Okay, on to the news. I was reading an article about the woes(?) of Apple and, as someone who has never been infected with the cult virus, merely nodding along going “Uh-huh, I see, yes that would explain it” until I reached this part (bolding mine):

    In 2013, Apple launched a redesigned Mac Pro, a black cylinder with bright white LED lights. It was a powerful desktop machine created partly to cast a halo over the entire Macintosh lineup. The Mac Pro was also the first Apple computer in years to be assembled in the US. Under pressure from politicians to create manufacturing jobs at home, Apple was looking to score political points. The decision caused production headaches though.

    The Mac Pro’s glossy exterior and chrome beveled edges meant Apple had to make its own manufacturing tools and then train people to run those machines in an assembly plant. This slowed production and constrained Apple’s ability to make enough computers to meet demand.

    Three years on, the Mac Pro is ripe for an upgrade with its chips and connector ports lagging rival products. Because of the earlier challenges, some Apple engineers have raised the possibility of moving production back to Asia, where it’s cheaper and manufacturers have the required skills for ambitious products, according to a person familiar with those internal discussions.

    That seems disturbing to me, at least in what it means for the USA. You may be innovative and creative, but you apparently are losing your technical and engineering skills. Part of that presumably is from moving production overseas and allowing companies there to catch up fast so they could service American manufacturing needs, this naturally meant home-based companies lost business and so probably shut up shop, at the least lost out in developing manufacturing skills in tandem with the advances in technology.

    But as I said, this disturbs me: if you don’t have the skills to back up what you’re inventing, where is your advantage? I think it would be reasonable for Asian technological and creative industries to consider that they don’t need to buy in American designs or work for American companies as they could create their own designs and innovations and link up with their own country’s engineering facilities to put them into production.

    Apple found it so expensive and difficult to re-tool (and I’m not surprised by that, they had to rebuild everything they had shed, after all) that they want to move production back overseas. Is this a good idea – setting aside protectionism and creating American jobs and all that – in the long run? Is it good for American industry/business if high-level skills are being/have been lost because they’ve been outsourced? If you can’t build what you have designed, will you hold on to a global market advantage in the long run?

    • cassander says:

      the us succeeds on the basis of the having, by far, the best middle management in the world. That sounds like damning with faint praise, but it’s really significant. If you just want to crank out product, other countries are cheaper or have better labor policy or what have you. but if you want to do something new and difficult, something that requires people up and down the chain of command to try hard to do their best and not either half ass it or take advantage, that’s work you want to do in the US.

      • Deiseach says:

        something that requires people up and down the chain of command to try hard to do their best and not either half ass it or take advantage

        But my point is that if you lose the skills and capacity to do this, then all the best will in the world will not achieve your aims. You can have an entire team working their best to land a man on the Moon, but if they are working with rubber bands and bailing string, they are not going to get very far.

        As I said, I don’t see why the overseas businesses that a company has encouraged to improve and upskill and become better than that at home would or should remain content to be under the lead or control of that company, rather than finding or developing their own leadership to compete with and overtake the American company.

        I think the US is very important as a market, and as a global cultural leader, but I am wondering about falling behind in some respects. If company A designs better widgets that need high-precision engineering and they outsource this to China not alone because “China is cheaper” but “America can’t do this kind of work anymore”, that seems to me to be a warning bell. Heavy industry got mauled by precisely this: Indian and Chinese steel and ship-building took over. If your high-tech, high-value industries are going the same way… then maybe it’ll be “yeah, we’ll outsource this to America because they’ll work for relative peanuts and they’re the best middle managers in the world” for high-performing Chinese or Indian businesses.

        (Or maybe not. Japan did not end up ruling the world despite all the 80s novels, movies and pop culture notions of glitzy high-tech and buying up properties overseas).

        • Tibor says:

          Japan also has less than a tenth of the population of China or India and was militarily paralyzed after WW2 (still partially is).

          Other than that, I think that some Chinese tech companies already produce better stuff than American ones. My phone is a Lenovo. It is much cheaper than any comparable American product and its best models are better (and much cheaper) than anything Apple makes (or the Japanese Sony for that matter).

          I am a bit ambivalent about the US being a “cultural leader”. On one hand, if there has to be such a thing, I guess the US is a lot better than Russia or China. On the other hand a lot of nonsense seems to be leaking from the US to Europe – the recent US outrage about fake news, which mostly had to do with the US election seems to have become a topic in European media shortly after. I don’t see any reason other than simply copycating US trends. Nonsense like “yes means yes” has not reached Europe (well, continental Europe anyway) yet (outside of very fringe radical leftwingers) and I would very much prefer that it stay that way. I also tend to be mildly annoyed when Europeans (continental), when speaking in English use the word soccer for football – and most seem to do that even though it is always called something like football in European languages. That is of course completely unimportant but it illustrates the cultural influence of the US, especially in the media. The European media also often flat-out take over the media narrative of the US (unless it turns out for example that the CIA spies on European politicians) and they write about the US politics more than seems necessary (OK, the US are an important country, but not THAT important and Trump is not going to be the president of the world). This last bit is especially true of the BBC, which seems to write almost entirely about the US at times. Were it not for the English spelling, you’d think they are an American newspaper. If that influence gets diluted a bit, it might be a good thing.

          On the other hand, the influence of the US has perhaps shifted economic policies of European countries towards being a little more pro free market. It is not clear whether European politics would become (even) more socialist and more protectionist if the US cultural influence faded or whether that was mainly an issue during the Cold War (for the parts of Europe which were not Russian satellite states or even parts of the Soviet Union anyway). Currently, the most pro free-trade country in Europe is Switzerland (more than the US actually) which seems to be quite unconcerned politically with anything outside of its own borders (maintaining the armed neutrality and all) and which has a free market tradition probably independent of the US, but for example Germany would have been probably very different without the US influence (even if we assume them losing the war and not being fully occupied by the Russians afterwards)….I have a feeling I’ve gone completely off topic, so I will stop here 🙂

          • Nornagest says:

            the BBC […] Were it not for the English spelling, you’d think they are an American newspaper.

            From an American perspective, they look very British when they’re reporting on American news. There’s this faint tone of incredulity that brings to mind an elderly vicar adjusting his spectacles, especially when the topic is guns, healthcare, or anything to do with the American electoral system.

            Still, they’re one of the less clickbaity online sources, so I can’t badmouth them too much.

          • Tibor says:

            @Nornagest: I was not talking about what they are saying about the US but rather that they seem to be writing about the US more than about Britain.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            I’m one of those bastards who has an adblocker on almost all the time (I turn it off here), but does the BBC website monetize itself at all, or does it manage to be entirely government-funded?

            If there’s any aspect of profit/selling, or even internal incentives to maximize views, then demographic pressure for an english language news source is probably going to skew things American on the internet unless the editorial staff work very hard to stop it.

          • Deiseach says:

            does the BBC website monetize itself at all

            The BBC seems to have no idea how to do marketing, or rather, it concentrates on a few properties that are profitable, once it has been hammered into their skull that they are profitable (Dr Who is the ur-example here, since for years it was regarded as an embarrassment – a kid’s tacky SF show – but overseas markets ate it up and there was a steady stream of income from it). The whole Top Gear débacle, and the loss of The Great British Bake-Off, are more examples.

            There is a recent BBC show that has just ended, and I and many other fans would be delighted to throw our money at them if they provided the usual tie-in products, but they have done bugger-all when it comes to providing rubbish for us to spend our cash on, simply because the powers that be got tired of the show in its second season, only grudgingly gave it a third season to finish up, and have been treating it like a red-haired step-child in comparison to another show that got tabloid attention in the UK.

            They seem to concentrate on a few adaptations or series that they think will sell to a global market, but they often misjudge that – who here knows about or has watched the recent, much abridged, and sexed-up version of “War and Peace”? Even though they cast an American actor as Pierre?

            Ahem. That was probably a digression from the intent of the original?

            The BBC has often been criticised for leaning left-wing, and because it is publically funded by the licence fee and has a public service broadcast remit, often government ministers and Tory-leaning media make harrumphing noises about giving Tory politicans hard-hitting interviews (some of this is because the privately owned commercial media regard the BBC’s predominance with envious eyes and would like it broken up so they can grab its share of the market).

          • Aapje says:

            who here knows about or has watched the recent, much abridged, and sexed-up version of “War and Peace”? Even though they cast an American actor as Pierre?

            I have, but because I read the book recently (which is exactly 1 million times better).

            PS. I think that Lily James was a greater draw than Paul Dano, who doesn’t seem to have a lot of ‘star power’

          • Mark says:

            Merlin was better.

          • Deiseach says:

            I really don’t know how they thought they could cram everything into a six-episode adaptation; one problem with that was that Lily James’ Natasha never really got the opportunity to change from “giddy, impressionable, romantic teenager to mature young woman” because she looked the same in all six episodes, and I have to admit I had very little interest in the love affairs of the pallid young blond(e)s that were the main stars (I was watching it mainly for Tom Burke as Dolokhov, who was a very naughty little Fedya indeed, though I found this version’s Denisov charming and a lovely bloke as well).

            I was vastly amused that there seemed to be only one (1) competent general in the entire Russian army, and quite frankly I was cheering on Napoleon from the first moment he appeared because his early victories were so unequal 🙂

          • The original Mr. X says:

            I was vastly amused that there seemed to be only one (1) competent general in the entire Russian army,

            So you say, but as the series presented it, the Battle of Borodino was a pretty unambiguous Russian victory (we saw Napoleon giving the order to retreat), but Kutuzov decided to abandon Moscow anyway, just ’cause.

          • Deiseach says:

            I grant you the Battle of Borodino, but up to that Napoleon was totally kicking ass and taking names (almost single-handedly too, given all the “silhouette of L’Empereur on horseback” shots we got) 🙂

            Here, have a stirring cavalry charge

          • Aapje says:

            @Deiseach & Mr X

            The book paints the outcome of war as mostly determined by low-level decisions and ‘mass delusions’ that guide armies, where generals have very limited agency to steer the outcomes (especially as the authority that generals have over armies generally derives from them catering to the mass delusions). Accounts of war tend to be post-facto rationalizations where it is argued that decisions of the generals led to the outcome, but this is mostly fiction. Tolstoy argues that Kutuzov was the least irrational general who understood some of the forces at work and as a general mostly sought to use his limited agency to minimize the casualties (but not at Borodino).

            For instance, Tolstoy argues that the French had a mass delusion that conquering Moscow would bring them victory, glory and wealth. Once Kutuzov let them take Moscow and the Russians unexpectedly did not surrender, the French lost their aim. There was no longer an obvious path to victory. Much of the Russian wealth remained at Moscow. As a result, the soldiers could not bear to depart without dragging large quantities of riches with them, making them ineffective as a fighting force. The end result was that they could not act differently than how they did, seeking the shortest route back to France (over razed terrain that could not feed their army), carrying along their plunder which just slowed them down so they died in greater numbers.

            At that point, the French army was destroying itself autonomously and any offensive action by the Russians would just cause unnecessary casualties. Tolstoy argues that Kutuzov tried to hold back his forces then, but the mass delusion of the Russian army (that they needed to kick the French out of their country) caused them to disregard this and suffer large losses.

            But to be clear, Tolstoy explicitly argues that Kutuzov made irrational choices as well.

            @The original Mr. X

            I don’t remember that bit, but in the actual Battle at Borodino, the Russians withdrew. However, their positions were not overrun and they withdrew orderly, unlike in previous battles. Even though the Russians suffered more losses, they presented it as a victory, but the Russian army also lost enough men to no longer being able to defend further, requiring them to rebuild their army beyond Moscow. This allows the French to easily take Moscow, which led to their undoing, as Tolstoy argued.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            Here, have a stirring cavalry charge

            Thanks; have one of your own.

          • keranih says:

            D, Mr X –

            Dunno if either of you have seen it yet, but you might be interested in Myn Bala: Warriors of the Steppe.

            It’s not an excellent movie (the actual battle at the end is a mess) and some of the acting choices are subar, but it did have striking scenery and a few nice cav charges.

    • The Nybbler says:

      One of the things Apple has said is great about Chinese manufacturing is they can call up the factory to make a change and have the employees rousted from their dormitories and up on the factory floor in no time at all. I don’t think there’s any way we’ll be able to compete with that in the US in the forseeable future.

      This article goes into it:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/22/business/apple-america-and-a-squeezed-middle-class.html

      As for Asia making their own designs… they’ve been trying. But with mixed success. Samsung and LG (Korean) and HTC (Taiwan… err… “Republic of China”) have done well in smartphones, but the mainland Chinese companies haven’t managed to really do so well in the Western market. And all these phones are based on software from two American companies.

      • Deiseach says:

        And all these phones are based on software from two American companies.

        Indeed, but the point of Apple wanting to move production back to China was the lack of skills in America. Leaving aside “able to make your workers work any hour, all hours”, it seems to be that the ability or production facilities are lacking or lagging behind in the USA.

        Apple is not providing instruction to its manufacturers about how to make the changes, since they already have the knowledge, facilities, and workers to do that. It tells them “move this, drop that, insert the other”.

        There is no reason why, eventually, the clever and industrious local companies cannot come up with their own designs and software. I mean, if you look at it from another angle, you could just as well say that the Chinese companies have outsourced the software design to the US, since the Americans are happy to work crazy hours on drugs to help them focus in order to come up with the latest must-have gadget 🙂

        • The Nybbler says:

          What’s missing isn’t really skills — we have that in the US, or Apple wouldn’t be able to do the manufacturing itself. When Apple tells Foxconn “do this”, Foxconn provides instructions to its workers and does whatever engineering is required to build the tools to “do this”, just like Apple did for the Mac Pro. But Apple doesn’t see it.

          What’s missing is this enormous infrastructure (or “ecosystem” to use the usual buzzword) where manufacturing engineers are needed and available all the time to “do this” for the kind of high-volume consumer products that Apple builds, and the same for factories, tooling companies, parts suppliers, skilled workers, etc. And the reason we don’t have that is lack of demand. Since, even if we had that infrastructure, it would cost enormously more to do it in the US, therefore no one does, and so we don’t have the infrastructure.

          I mean, if you look at it from another angle, you could just as well say that the Chinese companies have outsourced the software design to the US, since the Americans are happy to work crazy hours on drugs to help them focus in order to come up with the latest must-have gadget ?

          Well, that’s comparative advantage for you.

          • Deiseach says:

            I do understand that, but I also do worry that if one doesn’t have the infrastructure, eventually one is going to run into problems. Because it’s fine being able to model these advanced pieces of equipment but if in order to build the working prototype one needs one’s Chinese factory to run one up a couple, and the Chinese factory has decided that actually, its new partner doing the trendy phone designs is the company it wants to work with so it’s not going to make one’s products anymore, one is kind of stuck because, as you say, one can’t just magic “factories, tooling companies, parts suppliers, skilled workers, etc” out of thin air.

            Right now it suits Foxconn and is very much in their interest to work as a sub-contractor for Apple, but what happens if/when it no longer suits them? Will Apple be able to find another sub-contractor eager to work with them, or will they have to play catch-up by bringing the new company up to speed? Which means they fall behind when whatever company Foxconn is now working for gets its products onto the market faster and cheaper and, most importantly, first.

          • bean says:

            Because it’s fine being able to model these advanced pieces of equipment but if in order to build the working prototype one needs one’s Chinese factory to run one up a couple

            I think you’re misunderstanding the process. For everything but a very few very heavy industrial processes, one of anything can be made in the US. If Apple’s doing the design of a new device and needs physical prototypes, they probably get built in Apple’s in-house prototype shop. The problem comes when you go from making a few prototypes to putting the thing into mass production. The processes involved are different, and the US does not have the infrastructure to support mass production of quite a few things that we can build one-offs of.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Oh, prototyping is different. The United States and other Western countries do have facilities that are good at that, and I imagine Apple has in-house prototyping facilities. High-volume production engineering is a different ball game.

            The other problem applies whether you’re outsourcing to an Asian or an American manufacturer; either way you’ve got problems if they find another partner. But if Foxconn were to abandon Apple there’s a ton of other mainland Chinese companies who could be brought up to speed.

            If China didn’t work out there’s other countries with that kind of infrastructure; Vietnam comes immediately to mind.

            If we imagine that somehow the worst happened and none of the existing electronics manufacturing powerhouses were willing to deal with them, there’d probably be enough warning that things were going this way for Apple (and other Western companies who outsource to China) to hedge their bets by building up the infrastructure somewhere else — Mexico, Central America, India. But not the US or western Europe, it’s just going to be too expensive. (and not Russia for other reasons)

  8. Tekhno says:

    So, I’ve been thinking some more about the right wing bias of the comment section. It doesn’t seem to exist because of a lack of left wing users, but because right wing users seem to comment more. I keep getting frustrated when left wing users complain about being “dogpiled”, and I encourage the existing left wing users to jump in, but they are either busy or unwilling for whatever reason. Perhaps the psychological stress of being on edge and having to defend your position all the time from partisan attacks leads to left wing commenters posting less frequently. This seems to be the common form of the complaint.

    One of the problems is that there aren’t any surefire ways to solve this that aren’t totally unfair to right wing commenters. As Scott says on his tumblr:

    I would like to do something but I don’t have many ideas besides banning polite right-wing people who aren’t doing anything wrong, which seems bad, or writing more left-wing posts, which is hard because the muse for that doesn’t strike me very often.

    Instead of just banning everyone right wing, I would like to propose a different solution. Since there is already an existing contingent of left wing posters, the issue is probably confidence and coordination. A temporary ban on right wing comments might be a good compromise. It’s only a little unfair, and normal operation will resume afterwards.

    I think there needs to be a few Open Threads tailored to bringing out the confidence of left wing posters (Not trying to be condescending! Nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a real issue. Confidence stems from the perception of our environment, and the right have already had so many boosts here.) and making a friendly environment before normal operation is resumed. This would mean that the left wing posters get to coordinate and build up a common consensus they can use to defend themselves against the right wing common consensus when normal threads resume. I’m proposing a kind of “Solidarity!” Open Thread, or more properly, a series of them.

    My proposal to Scott is that in the next three Open Threads, he places a notice at the top saying “no right wing comments allowed”. In the resulting OT, Scott will then delete any right wing comments which are made. After the team building exercise is over, and we’ve cycled through three confidence building Open Threads, normal operation will return, and right wing comments will be allowed again.

    Obviously, this depends on Scott’s subjective perception of what counts as a right wing comment, but he can be guided in this exercise by the left wing commentariat.

    A slightly harsher version of the proposal would be to temp ban right wing users for the duration of the threads, which would make it easier for Scott to enforce without spending exorbitant amounts of time trying to police the Open Threads themselves. I still don’t think this would be too harsh, because it’s not like a permanent ban, just a temporary ban so that left wing posters are to engage in confidence boosting and comment without partisan attacks. Again, normal operation would return after the experiment is over.

    The most obvious targets for temporary bans would be commenters who have identified themselves as right wing, which removes the subjective judgments Scott would have to make. I have taken the liberty of compiling this list, based on this reply train:

    SSC commenters identifying as right wingers/affirmatively right leaning libertarians:
    The Nybbler
    FacelessCraven
    Sandy
    Dr Dealgood
    hlynkacg
    James Miller
    Deiseach
    Steve Sailer
    Trofim_Lysenko
    Whatever Happened to Anonymous
    albertborrow
    AnonEEmous

    Others who questioned whether libertarianism is “right wing” (but are too dissonant with the left anyway):
    David Friedman
    sflicht
    Chevalier Mal Fet

    As an act of good faith, and to show that I’m not trolling, even though I don’t identify as any winger, I will also include myself among those who should be temp banned for the duration of the confidence building OTs (which I guess would actually be LTs).

    If you’re right wing and outraged by this proposal – come on, try it, it’ll be fun! It’s only either a temporary ban on right comments or users. Temporary.

    There is a problem. Posters have been complaining about this for a long time, and Scott even agrees it’s a problem, he just thinks that banning polite right wing posters would be too much. Let’s step back a notch to a compromise position and temp ban, or even further back and ban right wing comments.

    Giving the left wing posters some breathing room might be a nice gesture, and an act of martyrdom is an act of good faith.

    At the very least, what this does is help give Scott an idea of what the comment section would look like if he did remove all right wing users. Temporary harsh measures allow Scott to glean some feedback from the comment base. Right now, we’re stumbling in the dark.

    Come on! Are you with me? It’ll be fun! Don’t say it isn’t an exciting idea? I’m someone who normally sides with the right wing in arguments here, but I think it’s time to nobly step aside for just a moment and allow for some space that allows the left to build confidence. If the right users have already built up their confidence from Scott’s links to REDACTED IDEOLOGY, then surely it’s time for a HARD but TEMPORARY push in the other direction?

    • Deiseach says:

      *lip wobbling*

      But… but… but you’re asking me not to shoot my mouth off on anything and everything that flitters across the vast empty spaces inside my skull?

      WAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

      Okay, after this one, I’m willing to give it a go: three Open Threads with nobody on the right of centre saying boo to a goose, not even “Nice weather we’re having for the time of year”, is that right? I’m in. It will kill me to shut my yap but I will nobly sacrifice myself for the common good 🙂

    • Trofim_Lysenko says:

      I think it’s an interesting proposal, and maybe worth trying, though I personally expect the result to be a shift left, then an immediate shift back to the complained-about status quo ante once the temp bans are lifted.

      Do you have any thoughts on a plan B if this doesn’t work?

      • Tekhno says:

        Do you have any thoughts on a plan B if this doesn’t work?

        Laugh hard.

        • Deiseach says:

          I really, genuinely would like Moon/Jill to come back, and maybe this would coax her out of hiding? I would not like her to be hurt or offended, and if she got a chance to express herself without needing to be defensive (those trigger warning sarcasm posts weren’t the best idea in how the expression of her points was worked out), it might help the atmosphere.

          I do like Moon, even if sometimes she is away with the fairies, and I’d hate for her to feel she’s been forced off by the vast and awful right-wing conspiracy on here.

          So the idea/agreement is that from OT 65.25 onwards for three threads, nothing but left of centre (from very mildly just one step left to “cuddles their poster of Stalin in their arms every night before going to sleep” and beyond) comments get published? Okay, done!

          • Aapje says:

            I’d rather see two threads be made simultaneously, then right-wing people can still debate stuff in a ‘fresh’ thread.

            There is no need to kick them out to provide left-wingers with a ‘safe space,’ is there?

          • Jaskologist says:

            She’s still banned for another week.

          • CatCube says:

            She’s been temporarily banned.

          • Thursday says:

            Having left-wing-only threads from time to time seems like a fair thing to do.

            I have to disagree about Jill/Moon though. You couldn’t ask for a more idiotic parody of brain dead liberalism. The world doesn’t need more repetition of inane talking points.

            I think the problem with lefty participation in a general forum is that lefty culture tends to put an extremely high premium on niceness. (The main trait that predicts left wing economic positions is agreeableness.) So, I would hypothesize that anywhere where there is robust debate, however polite, will tend to stress your average lefty out.

        • Tekhno says:

          I want Scott to formalize this, of course, but I will also be absent for the next three Open Threads, starting from 65.25.

          • If I get included in this I might actually get something done in the next week. Assuming I don’t end up spending my time on WoW instead.

          • Jiro says:

            I want this idea to be razed to the ground and covered with salt so that nothing like it will ever grow again. It’s an invitation for people from side X to post falsehoods and bad faith about side Y, knowing that side Y cannot respond. (Typically it is done recklessly and not deliberately, but the effect is the same.)

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Ehh, I have more faith in the vast majority of left-leaning posters here than that, Jiro.

            And again, given the expiration date, I think it would be fairly transparent who was acting in bad faith. I’d rather give the rope.

    • Mark says:

      The problem with dog-piling isn’t that the person being piled might be a soft sensitive flower, it’s that the pilers are going to go into full social-proof mode, and stop listening to reason.

      I don’t really get the sense that that happens here – the arguments tend to remain reasonably good quality(compared to any other internet forum), and where people embarrass themselves with a real stinker of a comment, they tend to have the good grace to remain silent thereafter.

      Personal attacks are heavily moderated.

      I’ve experienced *bad* dog piling before, and I found it invigorating. I think a SSC dog pile would be really enjoyable.
      So… um… a left wing comment…
      Russians are bad?

    • cassander says:

      I don’t expect that it will work, but the cost is so low it seems worth trying.

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        It’s easy for you to say, you’re not in the banlist!

        • cassander says:

          the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about…..

          I’d refrain, out of solidarity with my fellow right wing knuckle draggers.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      This, IMHO, does not address at all the root of the problem, nor will it solve it.

      The issue is that there is a lack of charity and clarity on the part of many of the right wing commenters. I can have a conversation with onyomi or Faceless Craven, for example. With many others it is always a knock down argument.

      If a post is made that is of the form “here is a thing that is a problem on the right”, it gets dogpiled with uncharitable counter arguments, demands for extreme precision in language, etc.

      This is further exacerbated because the specific outgroup of the blog is “SJW” further shortened to SJ. So even many left wing commenters spend time bashing on the left.

      Having a momentary, boring, left-wing echo chamber won’t do much to address that, I don’t think.

      Having an open thread where we only discussed failings or problems on the right, and couldn’t say “but SJ is sooooo bad, you must agree”? Maybe? Dunno.

      • Tekhno says:

        @HBC

        conversation

        Vs

        knock down argument

        Is kind of hard to define at times.

        uncharitable counter arguments, demands for extreme precision in language, etc.

        That’s better, but it’s hard to focus on that as a guide to moderation. It requires Scott to be constantly making all these judgment calls about what counts and what doesn’t in the context of trying to make the tribe bias of the comment section more even.

        The reason I think temporary shock measures might be better than permanent increases in the amount of scrutiny Scott uses with comments is that I think pruning is generally superior to bureaucracy, and it gives users a direction to organize themselves in over the long term without having ridiculous amounts of rules that can be lawyered, or having Scott burn himself trying to balance how charitable each tribe is being, in every comment thread, forever. Basically, shock measures means using authority to promote obedience to the spirit of the law, rather than excruciatingly laying down the letter of the law. Every now and then things should be shook up to decrystallize harmful behavior patterns.

        Having a momentary, boring, left-wing echo chamber won’t do much to address that, I don’t think.

        My proposal is just a crazy dart at the wall, but if you can come up with better kinds of shock measures to shake people out of behavior patterns, then I’m very interested.

        Having an open thread where we only discussed failings or problems on the right, and couldn’t say “but SJ is sooooo bad, you must agree”? Maybe? Dunno.

        That’s not a bad idea, you know.

        This is further exacerbated because the specific outgroup of the blog is “SJW” further shortened to SJ. So even many left wing commenters spend time bashing on the left.

        The thing is, I think some people define SJ too loosely in a way that’s not really distinct from the ideas of the liberal left. I prefer to just bash illiberals, since that packages a radical section of the right with a section of the left separate from the parts of the left and right that couch their preferred slant on issues in the liberal ideals of freedom of speech and exchange, individual rights, rule of law, equality before the law, separation of church and state, etc. The vast majority of rationalists are some kind of liberal in that broad sense.

        I think a lot of left wing commenters here bash SJ because they are left-liberals, and SJ ideas like “intersectionality”, “racism is privilege + power”, and “progressive stack” are fundamentally anti-liberal, and anti-equality, since they imply the formation of a caste society. Furthermore, there are game theoretic reasons why such ideas just create a rod for your own back.

        Not bashing these ideas isn’t really a solution, because people would either have to shut up, or forcefully change their minds to suddenly think that these ideas were great.

        What I do think is that we do need a break from only focusing on left wing permutations of this phenomena, because it easily bleeds over into attacking left wing notions over all, and then all the people who want to promote things like worker’s rights, unions, and anti-racism get put off and leave making a right wing echo chamber.

        Having a few OTs where you are not allowed to make anti-left wing comments might be a good shock to the system, and allow for more discussion on illiberal right wing ideologies to go unsidetracked. We need more negative discussion on movements like the alt-right.

        • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

          then all the people who want to promote things like worker’s rights, unions, and anti-racism get put off and leave making a right wing echo chamber.

          Having a few OTs where you are not allowed to make anti-left wing comments might be a good shock to the system, and allow for more discussion on illiberal right wing ideologies to go unsidetracked. We need more negative discussion on movements like the alt-right.

          Agreed, HBC.

          These are the type of discussions I miss – I don’t really have strong opinions on unions/worker’s rights (besides being vaguely right-to-work), and I would love to see in depth arguments about them here. Similarly, talking about combatting racism outside the context of radical SJ’s “all are guilty” I think could be quite productive here.

          And as for criticizing the alt-right, I’m all for that. Of course, remember when arguments about He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and the Death Eaters dominated every thread, ever? It got so bad that Scott had to ban the term in the hopes that people would be more precise about what they meant – but instead it seems like people gradually stopped discussing it altogether (although the bans of several of the more vocal Death Eater posters may have played into that somewhat).

          Either way, I wish we could fight about things other than “So is Hillary just the worst, or not quite as bad as those awful Social Justice types?” like we used to.

          • Aapje says:

            I don’t really have strong opinions on unions/worker’s rights (besides being vaguely right-to-work), and I would love to see in depth arguments about them here. Similarly, talking about combatting racism outside the context of radical SJ’s “all are guilty” I think could be quite productive here.

            Why don’t you make top-level comments in 65.25 about this?

            It seems more productive to ask yourself than to wait for someone else to do so. Because if everyone does that…

      • Deiseach says:

        Having an open thread where we only discussed failings or problems on the right, and couldn’t say “but SJ is sooooo bad, you must agree”?

        Well, why not? If someone wants to bring it up and enough people want to discuss it, you have three threads to go extravagant and say what you like, it’s Liberty Hall!

        I solemnly promise I won’t be hiding under the bed waiting until the three threads are up to leap out and bash you over the head for anything that might have been said 🙂

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I solemnly promise I won’t be hiding under the bed waiting until the three threads are up to leap out and bash you over the head for anything that might have been said

          Serious question.

          Who is this comment aimed at and what reaction is it supposed to engender?

          • Deiseach says:

            Who is this comment aimed at and what reaction is it supposed to engender?

            Those who might otherwise be afraid to comment on the grounds that the right-wingers will all return en masse after voluntary exile/temp banning and start dogpiling on them, attacking them, and misrepresenting them for things they may have said in the three left-only open threads.

            Sheesh, I’m trying to be nice here and give evidence of my bona fides, and it’s taken as some kind of sneak attack on, or pointed comment aimed at, someone or other in particular. Do I really need to start using “This is intended for the general you, not a particular anyone”? This really is evidence that the atmosphere needs airing out, and if three open threads restricted to one set of commenters will do that, I’m all for it.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Deiseach:
            I asked because, on a second thought, my take was that you were being genuine.

            My first thought was that this was Deiseach snark aimed at pusillanimous liberals.

            On third thought, I wasn’t sure either way.

            Given your posting style, and general leanings, I’m not sure you can convey to liberals the message you wanted to by posting in this style. But maybe that is just me.

      • Aapje says:

        @HBC

        The issue is that there is a lack of charity and clarity on the part of many of the right wing commenters.

        This goes both ways, I also see a lack of charity and clarity in the other direction, where people are not asked to explain themselves better or hedge more, but the response is a knock down argument like: ‘you are being unfair to us!’ A response like that is usually the end of the debate.

        This is further exacerbated because the specific outgroup of the blog is “SJW” further shortened to SJ. So even many left wing commenters spend time bashing on the left.

        These are different groups. One can criticize both or either.

        There are also nationalists and white nationalists. Some criticisms apply to both groups, some to only the latter group. One can legitimately feel that both groups are thoroughly mistaken, without claiming that the former group has the same beliefs as the latter group.

        I often have the feeling that some of this perceived bashing is projection of beliefs on commenters.

        • Brad says:

          This goes both ways, I also see a lack of charity and clarity in the other direction, where people are not asked to explain themselves better or hedge more, but the response is a knock down argument like: ‘you are being unfair to us!’

          I’ve asked for exactly that and been told that I am making isolated demands for rigor.

          Just a little higher up than this comment on the new comments widget is a post where you make fairly broad generalizations about “mainstream SJ”. That’s not unusual, you’ve arrogated to yourself status as an expert on the ideas, inner thoughts, and motivations of at various times, large sections of academia, feminists, and of course “SJ”. Why should anyone accept your claims about these ill defined but potentially large groups of people at face value?

          • Aapje says:

            Why should anyone accept your claims about these ill defined but potentially large groups of people at face value?

            When did I ask anyone to take it at face value?

            I believe that I’ve done fairly extensive research and am making reasonable claims. For example, I base my opinion of what is mainstream SJ as what is advocated by NOW, BLM, the UN, my newspaper, major online newspapers, etc and to a lesser extent academic feminism (as that is not automatically mainstream).

            But I am of course very much in favor of people coming to their own conclusions. My arguments about this are not and cannot be backed by hard science, so one cannot expect that level of evidence.

            However, that doesn’t mean that generalizations/abstract reasoning is not useful. Or do you think that we should not talk about the ideas/beliefs/motivations of any group? There has also been quite a bit of speculation here of why people voted for Trump, yet I don’t remember you getting upset over that.

          • Brad says:

            First, there’s a huge amount of ground between “evidence for the Higgs boson” and confidently asserted sweeping statements backed up by nothing more than an implicit appeal to your own authority. Claiming that “hard science” isn’t possible here is setting up a false dichotomy.

            Second, charitable evidence-free armchair sociology may be just as worthless as anti-charitable evidence-free armchair sociology, but it is less annoying.

            The Trump voters get the former, “SJ” gets the latter.

          • Aapje says:

            I would argue that I’m not being uncharitable in my portrayal and that people tend to consider fairly accurate, but critical comments about their ingroup uncharitable far sooner than about the outgroup.

            I’ll grant you that I am not steelmanning the SJ position to the max, but that is because I want to address the actual mainstream beliefs, not one that is merely theoretical.

          • Brad says:

            The group of people that tend to consider them fairly accurate don’t include any of the people whose opinions are being summarized and are overwhelmingly made up of people that share your strong dislike for that group. I don’t think that their approval is much of a signal that you are being accurate.

            I personally would much rather have these semi-mythical SJ people around talking about what they believe than your posts making all kinds of claims as to what they believe. That would be far more informative. The “lack of charity and clarity” makes that much less likely to happen as it comes across as very hostile.

            I’m asking you to hedge more, exactly what you claimed no one asked you to do. Make narrower statements, preferably ones you can and do support rather than grand sweeping ones you can’t or don’t feel like supporting.

          • Aapje says:

            I’d like you to give a better characterization then or pointing out specific mistakes in mine, rather than merely poo pooing, what is what you’ve been mostly doing.

            Your objections come across as:

            ‘Your model of reality is wrong, but I have no examples of why, nor can I give a model that I think is better.’

            PS. I also hedge quite a bit, but you appear to find my hedging offensive (like ‘mainstream,’ which recognizes diversity beyond majority SJ culture).

          • Brad says:

            “I don’t know” is perfectly great answer. It certainly shouldn’t be denigrated as “poo pooing”.

            If you claimed that GR and QM are unified by 11 dimensional branes, I said that I wanted some evidence of that or even just a discussion of the properties of these branes, would it be “poo pooing” because I don’t have my own model that unifies GR and QM?

            “Mainstream SJ” is just as vague and meaningless as “SJ” to begin with. If you want to talk about someone’s ideas what don’t you name a concrete person and point to his or her writings? Why must you constantly post about what a strawman of your own creation believes? You might as well be posting about what superman, as depicted in your personal fanfic, believes.

          • Aapje says:

            The debate in the thread in which I talked about mainstream SJ was about how some SJ teachings can lead to self-hatred. It is not about how the beliefs of a specific person lead to that, because it is not about 1 person.

            There were also people who debated that religion could lead to self-hatred and AFAIK no one demanded that specific religious people be named.

            Whether these beliefs are mainstream or not wasn’t even the core part of my argument. It is just what you latch onto because you have a narrative and are no longer open to a good faith discussion.

            I don’t see why you can’t just argue that the depicting is incorrect or that it isn’t self-hatred or whatever, rather than keep seeking evidence for how you are oppressed here.

            It’s not just you who feels hostility here, you know. I feel that I have to talk on eggshells with a few people here.

      • Iain says:

        I agree with HBC. This doesn’t seem helpful.

        The SSC commentariat is what it is. I think it is good to acknowledge the biases and outgroups of this community. That’s why I made my observation about the relative pushback on self-hating Christians and self-hating leftists. But I don’t see any value in taking a right-leaning community and temporarily turning it into a sparsely populated left-wing echo chamber.

        My reasons for posting here basically boil down to A) preaching to the heathens / somebody is wrong on the internet, and B) I like arguing. (Let’s be honest; it’s mostly B.) There are certainly times when I decide not to comment because I do not have the time or energy to follow it up, but that doesn’t mean I would post more if there were fewer people around with whom I disagreed. (For example: Tekhno, one of these days I will have enough time to argue with you about intersectionality and “privilege plus power”. Today, however, is not that day.)

        Two things that I think actually might help:

        1. Self-policing on the right. It’s a lot easier to tell somebody to tone it down a bit when you are ideologically aligned, because it doesn’t look like a partisan tactic. I have seen a number of right-ish people doing this, which I respect quite a bit: I don’t want to name names, because I would almost certainly miss people, but you know who you are.

        2. It is tiring to try to respond to broad-based smears, because it’s often not quite clear where they are aimed, and the motte-and-bailey gets pretty tedious. As I’ve pointed out multiple times before, “SJW” can mean anything here from “thinks racism is worse than murder” to “thinks Keith Ellison could be a good DNC chairman, even though he is Muslim”. Instead of banning all right wing posts, I would be more than satisfied if, when making a broad generalization about a group, it was necessary to mention just one representative of that group by name.

        • Randy M says:

          if, when making a broad generalization about a group, it was necessary to mention just one representative of that group by name.

          I’m am all for a norm of supporting generalizations with examples, both for evidence and explanation’s sake. (Feel free to point out if I fail this)

          Self-policing on the right

          I’m probably not one of the people doing this; I think I prefer to look the other way when someone is embarrassing themselves, although certainly sometimes it is because I agree with them and don’t realize it is poor argumentation. On reflection I doubt I am so charitable in reverse; it’s more fun to be the one to point out the flaw that arrives at a conclusion I already disagreed with than demolish the shoddy foundations of beliefs I hold. I can intend to change this, but I think it is safer to simply have different factions keep each other accountable for shoddy argumentation and simply try to stay honest and open to criticism.

        • hlynkacg says:

          when making a broad generalization about a group, it was necessary to mention just one representative of that group by name.

          I think this is a good idea and would codify it as… for the purposes of clarity any generalization should include at least one concrete example of the thing being generalized.

          In place of the generalization “Birds fly” we say “birds such as sparrows and gulls fly”. While I see how this could lead to a certain amount of “No True Scotsmanning” (are ostriches not birds then?) I think having the goal-posts planted a bit more firmly would be worth it.

          • John Schilling says:

            I think this is a good idea and would codify it as… for the purposes of clarity any generalization should include at least one concrete example of the thing being generalized.

            Clarity, perhaps, but liable to result in the generalization being rejected on the grounds that you’ve only provided the one obviously atypical data point. OK, two or three data points but they are clearly cherry-picked. Hey, can’t you be clear and concise and not gish-gallop us with fifty links every time we have a simple discussion?

          • hlynkacg says:

            Like I said, it’s a trade off.

          • Iain says:

            If I make a controversial claim about a general group right now (“Christianity promotes self-hatred”, say), then presumably I have certain Christians in mind. People who reply to me are likely to be thinking of a different set of Christians. In the ensuing discussion, we will both be defending our sides based on our imagined representatives of Christianity. A significant chunk of the recent argument, I think, never made it past this point: the two sides were thinking of different sets of people and talking past each other.

            That kind of debate implicitly boils down to a question of who is a central example. If people are explicit about their examples, then at least it is clear when that happens.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Iain

            My thoughts exactly.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          I feel I might be an irascible coot for saying this, but I’ve long been considering group generalizations to be approaching zero utility in political debates. Long gone are the days when one could say all liberals were against gun rights, and I suspect those days were never really around. It’s virtually impossible for me to point out a single liberal, for instance, who says or believes inconsistent things (except for Arthur Chu and one of my ex-GFs). Same with conservatives. Holding the individual responsible for the group is likewise a dead-end proposition. I can’t even police all rationalists, let alone 60 million voters.

          So I think I’d be satisfied with pointing out examples only, and if you want to put that on groups, cite statistics, weather the debate that will come after that (maybe we’ll all learn more about statistical reasoning), and then see if you can Bayes your way to something.

        • Deiseach says:

          thinks Keith Ellison could be a good DNC chairman, even though he is Muslim

          Tanjdammit, now I want to have an argument about that, because I do think it is fascinating why the DNC picked him as an example of a Muslim in the context of Trump’s remarks and the brouhaha over Islamophobia, for instance it being part of Hillary’s “basket of deplorables”, but this is probably the equivalent of dousing dynamite in rocket fuel and setting fire to it with a flamethrower right now, I imagine.

          I mean, I’d love to have an argument about that without coming across to people as “You hate Hillary” or “You hate the Democrat party” or “You love Trump”, all of which I don’t. But I suppose I do come across as very much carping about that, primarily as a very disgruntled reaction to the weeping and wailing in the media which is not being an objective source of news (the relatively recent American model of journalism as contrasted with partisan European journalism model; I know if I read newspaper A from my country or the UK which political party its proprietor is trying to get a knighthood from, so I can discount their bias, but I have no corresponding read with the American media, apart from in general it seems to like to think of itself as sophisticated and more virtuous and that means Blue Tribe, which is very irritating to someone who comes from Red Tribe culture of her own country).

          I’m not even talking political bias; I hate the tendency in straight news stories to give a human interest twist to what should be reportage by writing what sound like drafts of their first novel: “Blonde, pretty, petite forty-year old Susan Whosis never imagined, as she set out on her morning jog, that a mere ten yards down the leafy suburban street where she and her husband Randy (42, hair starting to thin, boyishly-smiling investment banker), her 15 year old daughter Apricot whose bangs hide her shy face and braces, and their adorable labradoodle Pinkie have lived in a desirable four bed residence for the past six years…” For the love of God, just tell me the facts. If I want heartstring tugging, I’ll look up a Hallmark movie on Youtube!

      • AnonEEmous says:

        But the counter-issue is that it’s you guys who end up dogpiling, counter-arguing, and asking for extreme precision for left-wing issues. So it’s kind of like…there’s already a group of people who does those things for left-wing attack posts, while arguing that the problem is that no one else is doing it. Maybe so, probably so, but at the end of the day you guys are still holding down that end just fine.

        Then again, this probably qualifies as a knock-down argument. So I’ll leave it there, for the moment.

    • rlms says:

      I think this is probably stupid, but it would be entertaining to discuss the intricacies of Marxist thought for an open thread. I doubt it would be entertaining for three threads though.

    • Chevalier Mal Fet says:

      I mean, I hardly post anyway – perhaps once or twice per open thread – so it’s no skin off my nose. Sure, why not?

      I agree, the comments in the last three years have shifted much more rightwards – but I think it’s a more specifically anti-SJ shift. Republicans don’t come under much fire here, apart from Earthly Knight and Moon’s valiant efforts, but I think that’s more an artifact of the fact that the Democratic party and the American left in general are those mostly in sway to that ideology. Now, it’s not all of them – I don’t even particularly think it’s a majority, given the way the Democratic primary shook out this year. But, most of our posters view the ctrl-Left as their outgroup, and gleefully lump everyone who even admits to some sympathy with them into the same group.

      That is what folks like HBC (et al.) are complaining about, and I think they have a fair point. We demand carefully quantified posts full of caveats and cautions not to generalize when talking about Christians, or Trump voters, or the Red Tribe. But at the same time we make little distinction between Stein voters and Sanders supporters and Clintonistas – and I admit, I do get a sense of visceral pleasure watching commenters here affirm my own deeply-held suspicions that the Left does indeed eat babies, and I should probably speak up more to stop that sort of thing, since I’m pretty sure Iain hasn’t eaten even one baby in his life.

      However, the fact that most of the comments’ ire is directed at the Left does not evince any particular support for the right here – at least the right inasmuch as it represents mainstream American conservatism. While people are willing to defend the legitimacy of opposition to gay marriage, I don’t think many people here actually oppose it, for example, or think that the Iraq war was on balance the right move (I still do, but I’m aware of my vanishingly small minority status). Instead, like I said above, it’s mostly that SJ is the outgroup, and their excesses draw our attention, and it’s fun to bash them. Most people were probably drawn here by Scott’s anti-SJ posts, hence the apparent majority in the comments section willing to gleefully eviscerate them.

      I know I came and stuck around because here was a liberal who was willing to grant me that I probably wasn’t a horrible human being, merely mistaken on lots of things. Right-wingers don’t get that very often on the Internet, and when we do it’s usually places like Breitbart where the comments section is cancer. But SSC was something special – intelligent leftists and intelligent rightists treating each other civilly and actually hurling argument, logic, and evidence back and forth. We don’t really have that anymore – too much invective and tu quoque, not enough “here let’s look at the statistics and studies about gun control and try to figure out what actually works.”

      Hopefully with the election over that tide will ebb, and we can all rally ’round bashing Trump’s follies together (without having to agree that Hillary would have been the better choice).

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        since I’m pretty sure Iain hasn’t eaten even one baby in his life.

        {citation needed}

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        Sorry, couldn’t resist.

        Seriously, I don’t think Tekhno’s proposal will work, but I had a very positive gut reaction to it and all the replies, because addressing the problem is the main thing IMO, regardless of what we ultimately do about it. And, I have faith (ahem) that there’s enough latent regard for reason around here that nearly everyone’s likely to self-police.

        I think we forget how much energy rational discussion can take. It’s not about “1 part left wing, 1 part right wing”; if, say, the right wing really doesn’t have a leg to stand on on some issue, then we’re going to end up with a table with only left legs that would then lean, um, to the right. (Wow, this analogy sucks.)

        Whatever. I think about this issue a lot (re: decades), and have a lot of opinions about it, so I’ll try to be brief in the spirit of the original proposal and make a counter:

        When it turns into left-right debates, every so often, give the other side what I think it wants in the near term: a recognition of its steelman. Alternately, every so often, deliver your best shot at an objective survey of what the current disagreement is.

        • Randy M says:

          addressing the problem is the main thing IMO, regardless of what we ultimately do about it

          I’m going to assume you aren’t a libertarian.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            I’m going to assume you’re getting at something that went over my head here. What was it?

            To lay more information on the table: I’m much more libertarian than I am American liberal or conservative, if you go by sites like PoliticalCompass or ISideWith.

            In this thread, I’m willing to recognize the bald fact that there exist people on the left here who feel they’re being dogpiled on this site, and that there exist people on the right here who feel they’re being dogpiled pretty much everywhere else. And that libertarians identify with the latter, so they’re probably siding with the right here more often than with the left.

            Furthermore, I suspect that one of the easiest ways to relieve that sense of dogpiling is to hear their current opponents steelman them from time to time.

          • Randy M says:

            One of the frequent complaints of Libertarians is of the “Don’t just stand there, do something!” mindset among legislators that inclines those in power to attempt to solve a problem without considering whether the solution is worse than the problem. (Thomas Sowel explains this well in his books).
            An action that addresses a problem without being a net long term improvement makes it worse. In government it is at least job security.

            I am not criticizing your solution, but making a nit-picky point about your justification for one.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Randmy M:
            Note that Paul’s next sentence thinks we are likely to be able to self-police, that isn’t really a call for some outsider to force us into compliance. I don’t see a call for examination and discussion of a purported issue to be particularly anti-libertarian.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            @Randy M:
            Ohh, I get you. Heh. Does it help if the solution I propose is primarily along the lines of policing ourselves? Elsewhere in this OT, I said:

            If we’re relying on Scott to warn and ban us, we’re Doing It Wrong.

            I consider this a libertarian tenet. Things to enforce, are best when self-enforced.

            And so, my proposal: all of us, on our own, every so often, lays out the steelman of the other side, or their best objective take on the disagreement as it stands. I think this would be fair to all sides, as it would be required of all sides. This also means it avoids the question of who’s on what side. It has the benefit of precedent here and on LW. Everyone understands it, and may even have come here because of that understanding. And I think it will provide the catharsis the other side needs in any heated debate: that the other side at least understands you, even if they disagree with you.

            There’s no plan B here. There doesn’t have to be. If any one of us doesn’t do it, it’s because we don’t want that style of discussion badly enough to hold up our own end. It would mean that we don’t want to avoid dogpiling as much as we want to win a tribal war on an internet forum. Either way, we’re getting what we want – assuming people agree with what I wrote.

          • Randy M says:

            I’m not saying Paul’s calling for intervention from on high, just that the opening paragraph of “I don’t think this will work, but it’s important to do something, doesn’t matter what” is very dangerous thinking applied to any context that matters.

            How you solve a problem *is* the main thing, not whether you try. And I’m not even the utilitarian here!

            Does it help if the solution I propose is primarily along the lines of policing ourselves?

            Well, sure, but I was commenting on your apparent reasoning moreso than the issue.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            That reasoning you impute to me wasn’t as firm as I’d inadvertently made it. This is getting well off into the “he said, she said” weeds, but it was more intended as “you claim something must be done, and yes, I suppose I can make something of a case here, so let’s figure out what needs to be done contingent on that”.

            I could very well be projecting, but I remain certain that the people on Tekhno’s “right” list don’t consider running off all the leftists and liberals to be a victory.

          • Randy M says:

            That reasoning you impute to me wasn’t as firm as I’d inadvertently made it.

            I assumed it was probably careless, which is why I made just a quick over-vague remark. Should I have included an emoticon? I really should use winking emoticons more, they just strike me as so juvenile. My image as a mature adult who takes six paragraphs to properly convey his tone would be imperiled.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I could very well be projecting, but I remain certain that the people on Tekhno’s “right” list don’t consider running off all the leftists and liberals to be a victory.

            There is at least one.

            Edit for clarity:
            As someone on the list I would not consider “running all the leftist out” to be a victory.

            Thanks bean.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            Is that so? I’m surprised they wouldn’t get banned for expressing such a view. Certainly it’s just.. Sad, to see that as a good thing. If that’s the way some people see things, it’s no wonder dogpiling is a thing.

          • bean says:

            Is that so? I’m surprised they wouldn’t get banned for expressing such a view. Certainly it’s just.. Sad, to see that as a good thing. If that’s the way some people see things, it’s no wonder dogpiling is a thing.

            You read him backwards. He was saying that, as a person on the list, he would be sad if all the leftists were driven off. (I didn’t make the list, but I’ll agree with that.)

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            Oh, my bad then. I’ll leave my prior comment up so this doesn’t turn out to be a mess.

          • hlynkacg says:

            No problem, I should have been less ambiguous.

      • Tekhno says:

        @Paul Brinkley

        Seriously, I don’t think Tekhno’s proposal will work, but I had a very positive gut reaction to it and all the replies, because addressing the problem is the main thing IMO, regardless of what we ultimately do about it. And, I have faith (ahem) that there’s enough latent regard for reason around here that nearly everyone’s likely to self-police.

        I’m really pleased by the reaction, even if my idea is esoteric scattershot craziness. If the result is that someone creating a crazy solution brings more psychic finality to the problem, and promotes people to self-police, then that’s good.

        I expected a lot of outraged right wingers, but the reaction has been positive even if in disagreement. Positive disagreement is a thing I feel, and it’s something we need to promote.

        • Paul Brinkley says:

          I think that even if your idea is scattershot craziness, it was shaking up the table in a way that I suspect nearly everyone feels was needed. I think even the people here who lean right aren’t simply happy with “Righties on the March!”. Everyone would, I’m betting, prefer more understanding of what the disagreements are.

      • Deiseach says:

        since I’m pretty sure Iain hasn’t eaten even one baby in his life

        Growth mindset, Chevalier Mal Fet!

    • bean says:

      Perhaps the psychological stress of being on edge and having to defend your position all the time from partisan attacks leads to left wing commenters posting less frequently. This seems to be the common form of the complaint.

      This struck me as a really interesting point. I can understand said stress, having experienced it myself, both here and other places. I suspect most right-wing commentators would say the same. So why should such stress only affect left-wing commentators posting?
      The first theory that springs to mind is that they’re not used to it, and we generally are. Yes, getting into a serious debate where you’re facing down a lot of people and don’t have others helping is stressful. But if you normally inhabit parts of the internet that are majority left-wing and you’re used to being one of the dogpilers, not the dogpilee, this stress is unexpected and might drive you away.
      No, this doesn’t really suggest a solution, beyond “get used to it”. I’m not sure that one is even possible if we continue to allow a large number of right-wing commentators to operate here. And if I’m right, then temporarily declaring left-wing-only open threads will not help at all.
      Edit:
      Just to be clear, I’m not trying to score points over our left-wing members by something like “we’re tougher than you”. Being on the minority side of a debate is stressful, and I don’t blame them for not liking it all that much. But I don’t think there’s a good solution that would make anyone particularly happy.

      • Tekhno says:

        @bean

        So why should such stress only affect left-wing commentators posting?

        I’m not suggesting that it’s a general difference between lefties and righties, only that it might be the case here, because of the history of Scott’s articles against “social justice warriors” and associations with REDACTED IDEOLOGY that allowed right wing users to feel more confident in this environment, even when more left leaning people slowly started to move into the comments. The perception that the comment section is right wing creates a feedback loop that raises right wing morale and lowers left wing morale, resulting in one side confidently dogpiling on, and the other side retreating because it perceives that it is outnumbered, regardless as to whether it is or not in reality.

        Allowing the left wing side temporary free reign allows them to get a feel for how much left wing support there really is in the comment section, without the same 5 right wingers constantly attacking them, and it promotes discussion that is pre-selected for left wingness, that is, discussion that is internal to left wing principles. This gets left wingers used to responding to left wingers, and these same users can back each other up in the regular comment threads. If the right wing comments are introducing stress, then they might enjoy talking with fellow left wingers so much that they continue to move in a pack when they return, and their enjoyment of each other and their comradely behavior overcomes the stress of partisan attack, allowing them to persevere. That’s why I call it team building. Right now, regardless as to who outnumbers who, the right wing posters are subconsciously acting as a team, whereas the left wing posters are not. The solution then should be to create solidarity in the left wing userbase of SSC.

        This is, of course, just a theory (straight out my ass).

        EDIT:

        Just to be clear, I’m not trying to score points over our left-wing members by something like “we’re tougher than you”.

        From a left wing perspective, does this even score points? I thought one of the ideals of the left was getting away from being so egotistical about strength, and engaging in zero sum competition spirals, and that it’s okay to be honest about weakness, and to have humility, and that to accept deficiencies is a good thing, and that whatever deficiencies you may have, you are a human being and you deserve decency, respect, and human rights. Care and love is good, and a modern and civilized society can afford it, and so on.

        • bean says:

          That’s an interesting idea. I give it low odds, but it does seem worth trying. I would recommend initially restricting it to one OT, not three, though.
          Edit:

          From a left wing perspective, does this even score points?

          Probably not. I added that because I realized that my comment may have come across as bashing the left-wingers, which was not my intent.

      • Aapje says:

        @Bean

        My experience on the Internet is that social-justice leaning people tend to have a far smaller Overton Window and to consider unrestricted debate to be hostile. The anti-SJ people in turn tend to consider censoring to be really hostile.

        IMHO, this difference in (subjective) discourse norms is a major reason why these groups have such a hard time talking to each other. Any choice in moderating is going to piss off one group or both.

      • DrBeat says:

        The first theory that springs to mind is that they’re not used to it, and we generally are. Yes, getting into a serious debate where you’re facing down a lot of people and don’t have others helping is stressful. But if you normally inhabit parts of the internet that are majority left-wing and you’re used to being one of the dogpilers, not the dogpilee, this stress is unexpected and might drive you away.

        This is why, I believe, any space for feminists to debate MRAs will end up being dominated by MRAs. The more ascendant and powerful and unquestioned your ideology is in the world at large, the more abhorrent and intolerable attacks on it seem, because you’re moved further toward an unstated assumption that “fair debate means everyone accepts my ideology is right”, so challenges must therefore be unfair and not worth tolerating. So they leave.

        I don’t think this actually has anything to do with who is really correct, just who has more power in society and thus ability to assume fairness means agreeing with them. I imagine that if someone wanted to make some debate forum for Actual Literal Nazis to debate people who aren’t Nazis, the Actual Literal Nazis would completely dominate despite being wrong about every single thing, because almost everyone outside their group expects “a fair debate space” to mean “a space where Nazis are not allowed to talk” and would thus experience it as being unfair and leave. The only people who’d be able to stay would be the ones who had managed to convince themselves that Actual Literal Nazis are ascendant and powerful and popular.

        This means there is no solution and never will be.

        • AnonEEmous says:

          I would argue that again, my principle of victory comes out.

          Feminists had solid points, once; then they won and implemented them all. Now MRAs have solid points, and they are starting to gradually win and implement them; very slightly thus far, mind. So what do you expect? MRAs have the rock-solid points and they will use them mercilessly; either feminists attempt to appropriate them and (usually) fail, or they crash against the rocks.

          And finally, I would argue that any ideology which has made significant strides towards this unstated assumption is generally aberrant and warrants destroying, or at least its adherents should be taken down several pegs. That’s the solution. Oh, and to avoid ideologies like that from coming up to begin with.

          • Aapje says:

            Oh, and to avoid ideologies like that from coming up to begin with.

            I don’t think it works that way. Advocacy movements tend to be dominated by the aggrieved, who generally use stereotyping and ingroup/outgroup dynamics to argue their case and form a coalition. MRAs tend to target another ideology, rather than a gender, which is the best case scenario, IMO.

            I think that (successful) advocacy movements commonly have this life cycle:
            1. Only the extreme support the movement, due to the consequences of supporting things that are outside of the Overton Window
            2. The mainstream starts recognizing some issues as valid and the Overton Window grows.
            3. Less extreme/aggrieved people start supporting the movement openly.
            4. Laws & policies get made that cater to the movement & people start behaving differently due to changing social norms.
            5. The moderates leave the advocacy movement because their concerns have sufficiently been catered to.
            6. The movement becomes smaller and increasingly extreme and irrational.
            7. Backlash/marginalization

            If MRAs manage to get their demands catered to, I fully expect them to become horrible at some point and require marginalization. However, they are probably around step 2 now.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            Your thoughts mirror mine on the issue, but I don’t think this negates the point; feminism has the issue of inability to argue because no one really argues with it. I think that even as MRA philosophy comes up, it can still be argued with and dissected to the point that it doesn’t become as incapable of dealing with disagreement. Toxic and aggrieved, probably, yes.

    • dndnrsn says:

      I agree with what HeelBearCub wrote, and I had a variation on this above. People here tend to be sloppier when talking about stuff on the left than stuff on the right, and less charitable, than is the norm around here for either sloppiness or charity.

      I think tabooing some words might help. But something needs to be done to change the community norms.

    • Stefan Drinic says:

      As some others, I also don’t think this will work. I’m further to the left than most here, but my sparse posting habits aren’t because I’m allergic to being dogpiled on. I make three sorts of comments here; those on subjects like history, gaming, cooking or whatever else; vaguely left-wing comments in political threads; and comments where I tell the phenomenon we’re talking about to get lost.

      Regardless, I don’t think I even want for your preferred situation to happen. If the issue here is that you can’t have a leftist point of view without being dogpiled, that means some people on the right are defecting. This is very annoying, but short of a flood of bans you can’t really stop that from happening. Do we really want to go to the situation where both sides defect though? I don’t mind becoming that guy who yells at people he disagrees with over here just because I’m so damn angry, but I don’t think that’s going to turn out well for anyone.

      Aside from that, I don’t think the problem is coordination, having no consensus, whatever, but rather the (imo true) observation that people on the right feel more threatened. Scott has written about this, even if some will take offence, but I do think this is true even so: lashing out at the other side is much more a threatened person’s reflex than that of someone who feels secure. We even see this in popular media; on tv, the right’s pundits spend their time tearing into and ranting about left wing figures. The left, on the other hand, has pundits who spend their time laughing at the other side. This seems part of human nature afaict, and I don’t think banning right wing comments for some time is going to change that.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        If the issue here is that you can’t have a leftist point of view without being dogpiled, that means some people on the right are defecting.

        This.

        I frequently have this thought, “Do you really want me to just start dragging in this or that example of horrible Republican behavior?”

        And I find that thought immediately exhausting. I have no real interest in it, but it seems that might be the only option. Post a list over and over and defend it against all of the digressions and demands for selective rigor and demands for ever more precision in language.

        Even in the “do Christians believe in hell” thread, which was a different split (atheist/not), getting anyone on the non-atheist side to simply acknowledge that their is a rump that signals fundamentalist Christian beliefs was … not happening. Yet ~40% of Americans consistently answer that they believe in a YEC view of history. That should be enough. Do I really have to drag in every example of Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell, document every Dominionist in public power (which is relevant because it shows significant numbers of the relevant population will vote for this), etc?

        I don’t want re-debate that. All I am saying is that this is an example of needing to be ever more excruciatingly precise, when the opposite side won’t be charitable in the discussion.

        V cerqvpg n tbbq punapr fbzrbar jvyy gnxr zr gb gnfx sbe fnlvat gung gur nethzrag jnf nobhg jurgure Puevfgvnaf oryvrir va Uryy.

        • bean says:

          Even in the “do Christians believe in hell” thread, which was a different split (atheist/not), getting anyone on the non-atheist side to simply acknowledge that their is a rump that signals fundamentalist Christian beliefs was … not happening. Yet ~40% of Americans consistently answer that they believe in a YEC view of history. That should be enough.

          Really? I seem to recall explicitly granting that there is a culture where YEC is taught. (I would link to the comment, but I can’t figure out how to do so.) In fact, I admitted to having grown up in it. I defended it on the grounds that we’re not all evil monsters out to do whatever bad thing you expect YECs to do. (What bad thing that was, you wouldn’t tell me.)

          • Randy M says:

            Right click the date under the poster’s name.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Granting that it exists is the motte. Saying it’s prevalence is so small as to be inconsequential is the bailey. The word “rump” was doing significant work in my statement.

            I don’t want to get into debating about that issue in this sub-thread though. If you want to keep discussing it, I or you can create a new thread in 65.25?

          • bean says:

            I’m up for continued discussion, although my position is more or less “so what?”. Why is YEC so bad? Even if we take that 40% number at face value, which may or may not be a good idea, why is this more than an interesting sociological curiosity?

            Edit:
            Next OT is up, and I posted there.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            this post was more eloquent the first time but got swallowed, so exercise principle of charity plz

            basically, look, HBC, your argument is that people are submitting unreasonable disagreements on right-wing issues but not left-wing issues, especially as the latter attack posts are more egregious. but this is fundamentally an issue of whether or not those disagreements are unreasonable, you know? so it’s sort of hard to make a conclusive argument because the underpinning of your argument isn’t so much number of posts (not that it should be) or something else objective, but rather subjectivity.

            as such…we’ll see lol, it will come down to who is convinced versus who isn’t, since it is subjective; i’m just here to lay out the structure

          • Deiseach says:

            Arguing about religion is always going to end up with scorched tail feathers on both sides. I really do try not to do it, but sometimes the representation of Catholic belief (to restrict it to my own denomination) by supposedly sophisticated thinkers is on a par with a Chick tract and I then jump in with my size nines* to stomp over the territory.

            I note the new Open Thread has started and, as agreed, I am going to refrain from commenting there. I’ll be reading with interest, though (because I am genuinely interested to see what an intra-left/liberal discussion series will be like). Good luck to you all, each man to his corner, and come out swinging! 🙂

            *Kidding, I’m UK size seven!

          • Protagoras says:

            In a rationalist community, it is necessary to provide an explanation of why the presumption is that a culture teaching YEC is a bad thing?

          • Nornagest says:

            Speaking only for myself, Eliezer’s cheap shots at religion were one of the things I liked less about the early rationalist community. And I’m an atheist.

            But I’ve always been more into the instrumental side of things.

          • Controls Freak says:

            In a rationalist community, it is necessary to provide an explanation of why the presumption is that a culture teaching YEC is a bad thing?

            In a community devoted to rigor, I imagine that this chart captures a relevant thought.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Holy shit, that Wargames re-cut!

        • John Schilling says:

          Even in the “do Christians believe in hell” thread, which was a different split (atheist/not), getting anyone on the non-atheist side to simply acknowledge that their is a rump that signals fundamentalist Christian beliefs was … not happening.

          Pretty sure I not only acknowledged the existence of that rump, but tried to put hard numbers on its size.

          Yet ~40% of Americans consistently answer that they believe in a YEC view of history.

          That, is one of the major points of contention in the whole wretched discussion. There are people, including myself, who disagree with you about that quantitative point. People who can bring actual data to the table, and explanations as to why your one data might be misleading. Yet here you are, trying to characterize the debate by asserting that number as an unquestioned fact that the other side was somehow not acknowledging.

          I don’t want re-debate that. All I am saying is that this is an example of needing to be ever more excruciatingly precise, when the opposite side won’t be charitable in the discussion.

          Charity, is not accusing you of being a damned liar for claiming that I refused to acknowledge the existence of fundamentalists. I have been charitable. You have not. And I am about done with it.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            the fundamental issue of this entire argument is a sort of endogeneity problem, namely

            do people disagree with you because you’re wrong or not

            part of your argument seems to be that people are having unreasonable disagreements with you on one issue but not on others outside of the ideological spectrum

            but “unreasonable” is 100% contextual. if you’re wrong about it, you have no argument remaining.

            i don’t really have a good thing to say here, as such, but you see my point.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Charity, is not accusing you of being a damned liar for claiming that I refused to acknowledge the existence of fundamentalists.

            In philosophy and rhetoric, the principle of charity requires interpreting a speaker’s statements to be rational and, in the case of any argument, considering its best, strongest possible interpretation.

            II’ll submit that this an instance of the absence of, rather than presence of, charity.

            Especially as I explicitly did say that people acknowledged the existence of fundamentalists.

    • AnonEEmous says:

      Sure

      But I still hold that, for the moment, all sensible left-wing issues have been accepted as the norm, and as the Left has pushed further and further left as a result, they have lost the high ground ideologically

      The same thing will happen to the right when (if?) they take power, of course, it’s hardly an ideological thing. I might switch back at that point.

      I’m game, I guess. Though I also think it’s quite interesting that you have a group of people that replies to posts they disagree with complaining that no one else but them has replied; of course not, they are the people who are going to reply. Does that really warrant a sense of persecution, as such?

    • AnonEEmous says:

      Well, my posts got filtered by this site for whatever reason once again, but here I am test posting and agreeing.

      I’d still argue, though, that the primary issue is that the left achieved their goals, and so thoroughly that many on the right just treat those goals as common sense. Because of this, they’ve had to stray further and further afield, which may damage some of their core goals and also loses them legitimacy, especially as the Right now has core goals that are common sense, and will probably follow the same arc. So, for now, the right wing has an inherent ideological advantage, having culled their bad ideas and moved on to better ones; that’s a problem that only time will fix.

      • Rob K says:

        the right wing has an inherent ideological advantage, having culled their bad ideas and moved on to better ones;

        Larry Kudlow, a man whose near every prediction has been immediately been falsified by events, is being appointed CEA chair.

        If (as I suspect) you see yourself as part of the meta-contrarian intelligent right that isn’t responsible for defending twits like that, very well; I’d only ask that the left not be held responsible for defending overenthused facebook posters calling for electoral college shenanigans, or extreme cases of social justice people gone all the way off the rails.

        A comments section consisting of poster dunks on weakmen of various stripes is boring. So, for that matter, is a section consisting of lengthy tussles over whether or not a given position is a weakman. Serious ideologically mixed discussion ain’t easy to create, and it requires everyone to hold themselves to high standards regarding their own approach to argumentation.

        • AnonEEmous says:

          I actually have no idea about Kudlow’s ideas, as such; as dndnrsn seems to have hit on, it’s more about social ideas than it is economic ones.

          Tell me what his falsehoods are and I’d be perfectly fine to be held responsible for them, but generally we here and people in general focus more on culture than on economics, especially as they affect the way we interact with each other. Here, it seems that the left has accomplished its goals and is now tilting at windmills. If you’re on the left and you don’t agree, lay out the current social issues and we’ll discuss.

          edit: Well, looks like he’s not any good at all. A shame.

      • dndnrsn says:

        There’s plenty of bad right-wing ideas that haven’t been culled.

        Also what is this “the left” that has achieved its goals? The economic left certainly hasn’t, not in the US.

        • AnonEEmous says:

          I’d argue that there aren’t nearly as many, and the ones that haven’t been are no longer mainstream. Because the really bad ones have been destroyed in public, whereas the left’s really bad ideas -gender is a social construct- are considered sacred in many circumstances and thus untouchable.

        • Aapje says:

          @dndnrsn

          I’d argue that much of the left has abandoned their traditional welfare-based economic model, in favor of a ‘neoliberal’ free trade + cheap labor model. They seem to have achieved their goals, for the most part.

          Sanders was part of that old school, while Clinton was the neoliberal. She stood for staying the course, he stood for change.

    • Wrong Species says:

      I still don’t see why it’s so important that people on the left feel “properly represented”. People don’t generally go to left-leaning places on the internet and demand they properly represent conservatives. It suspiciously seems like it only matters when a smart place on the internet isn’t sufficiently leftist. Why is that? Is it because of our relative high status compared to places like Breitbart? If it was simply about intellectual diversity than we could do one of these threads for every ideology. Communist, Fascist, Libertarian, Anarchist threads would be very interesting.

      Instead of trying to use this place as an experiment, what about a new website that was explicitly dedicated to this kind of experience? That would be fairly interesting.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        What do you think the purpose of Scott’s walled-garden is?

        • Wrong Species says:

          Civility, not forced diversity. Let me ask you: when was the last time you went to a majority liberal website and said there weren’t enough conservatives?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I would argue that he wants more than just civility, but the ability to present ideas, all ideas, and discuss them without descending into signalling wars based on perceived tribalism.

            If this space is perceived as the realm of one particular tribe, that becomes very hard.

          • Stefan Drinic says:

            Holding SSC to a higher standard than the rest of the internet seems fine. Not every website needs to be equally terrible.

          • bean says:

            Let me ask you: when was the last time you went to a majority liberal website and said there weren’t enough conservatives?

            If we had signatures, I’d be using that for mine.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Seconding both Stephan and HBC.

          • Wrong Species says:

            HBC, in theory I agree with you. Signaling, rather than honest conversation is bad, and perceived hostility is too. I just don’t think using the mighty ban hammer is the way to do it. Forcibly pushing away people because of their views in favor of diversity goes against the spirit of free discussion. After all, many people in the US are creationists but I certainly don’t feel we have an obligation to make sure they are represented.

            Essentially, my concern comes down to one question: why should liberals get special treatment from Scott when no one else does?

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Am I the only one suddenly struck by the structural/meta-level parallels between this argument on corrective measures and…I don’t want to say left-right, but call it interventionist vs. conservative (in the general, not political) approach to problem solving?

            “Equality of Posting Opportunity is what matters! If that means more conservatives are posting and scaring off liberals, that’s just the natural consequence of differences!”

            “But the Inequality of Outcomes is damaging our viewpoint Diversity! This is a classic example of Market(place of ideas) Failure, when intervention is necessary!”

            To be clear, not trying to snark at -either- side here. More that I suddenly see this disagreement on means as reflecting underlying philosophical/ problem-solving approach differences of various posters.

            File me under the group that would be sad if there weren’t people around championing left wing/progressive ideology here, although I will be scrupulously honest and admit that there are some liberals -and- some conservatives I wouldn’t mind seeing less of. None of the really libertarian-ish posters come to mind, which probably illustrates my own in-group/out-group biases nicely.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            i’d like to interject with the argument: they believe there is an inequality of opportunity.

            There are two types of equality of opportunity; soft, in that you’re literally allowed to do X, and hard, in that you’re literally allowed to do X and also nobody will treat you badly for having done so.

            I will not cosign that SSC has only soft equality of opportunity for political postings on the left. But, a demarcation between those two types exists, you know? And looking at HBC’s comment, it looks like a descriptor of Scott’s desire for a hard equality of opportunity, which A) may be true, B) is good, and C) may reflect some of his own feelings; I think the left brigade here is asking for a cultural shift towards a hard equality of opportunity, which is not what you said.

          • Brad says:

            @Trofim_Lysenko
            There is an interesting parallel to affirmative action in college admissions here. Schools claim, and I’ve defended, the view that affirmative action really is about building out a class. That treating college admissions at a particular school as a prize that a student deserves for this or that reason is the wrong way to look at what’s going on. Needless to say I’ve gotten a lot of push back on that.

            Similarly here. If you look at this through the lens of fairness — who has the opportunity to say what and is that fair — you are going to come to a different conclusion than if you look at it as HBC does above — what’s the best tending and pruning strategy to get the best garden.

            Does anyone ever ask if it is fair to roses that they aren’t allowed to take up the whole garden even if the 50th percentile rose is prettier than the 90th percentile posy?

          • bean says:

            There are two types of equality of opportunity; soft, in that you’re literally allowed to do X, and hard, in that you’re literally allowed to do X and also nobody will treat you badly for having done so.

            By this metric, SSC is a lot ‘harder’ than the real world. Brendan Eich would say so, at least.
            OK, that may have been a cheap shot. But speech in a debate will have consequences. If it doesn’t, then you’re not having a debate.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Eh, this ain’t a democracy, it’s Scott’s House, and Scott’s Rules, and I can respect that. His garden, he can prune and weed and shape how he sees fit and if I can’t take it I can GTFO.

            I have problems with that approach in more public spaces (which brings up an interesting thought for AA vs. non-AA at private vs. public universities. Maybe something for the next OT? Although honestly I’ve never cared much about AA. I’m more worried about K-12 reform).

            Anyway, back on-topic, I think the self-policing is good and will try to do it more myself, though I feel that I’m too new and lack the Thread Cred to make those sorts of comments with any authority.

          • Wrong Species says:

            I feel like the fact that no one is talking about equality of opportunity for creationists, fascists and other “undesirables” is further justifying my skepticism about the importance of this meta-principle.

            @Trofim_Lysenko

            I actually agree with you. Scott can do whatever he wants with his website. That’s what freedom of association is all about. I just don’t want him trying to justify it under the banner of “equality of opportunity” for the poor, beleaguered left. If you want to promote intellectual diversity, do it for everyone. I think we should really try harder at being aware of when our meta principles are just excuses to justify our object beliefs.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        I come here to read and post because I want to see interaction between left and right. Without the interaction between disparate viewpoints, the conversation is largely worthless.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        It’s because SSC is known for being a place where rationalists hang out, not a place where right-wingers hang out. If one sees mostly right-wingers there, it may say something disconcerting about the relation between right-wing and reason.

        “reality has a liberal bias”

        Or maybe it says something about the observer. Anyway.

        I believe it’s not so much proper representation as proper recognition. I’ve been sorta pressing the point above. Each side wants to know they’re being understood by the other. If A thinks that B doesn’t understand A, then A may infer that A isn’t getting enough representation. But it might be that B understands A fine, and just hasn’t been indicating it.

        • hyperboloid says:

          If one sees mostly right-wingers there, it may say something disconcerting about the relation between right-wing and reason.

          I think you will find that proposition falsified by looking at almost every other on line right wing hangout.

      • Tekhno says:

        @Paul Brinkley
        re: reality bias, relationship between ideologies and reason.

        One problem is that much of ideology isn’t based off reality in the sense of being dependent on objective facts. Much of ideology is based off preferences, and you can’t debate preferences.

        “My favorite movie is The Godfather.”

        “Excuuuuuuse me, but no it isn’t! If you’ll look at this chart for a second… ”

        There are two orders to ideology, a lower and a higher. The lower order or base is the emotional content, innate preferences, or first order/intrinsic values. The higher order revolves around trying to realize those values in the world, which requires a dependence on fact, and from this emerges second order, or instrumental values.

        In many debates the intrinsic values are completely hidden under a mountain of instrumental values. These instrumental values are up for debate, and therefore at least as far as the higher order of ideology goes, subject to the methods of rationality.

        In other debates, it’s much easier to pull back the curtain and see the wizard. In these cases the intrinsic values are nearer to hand. Take abortion, for example.
        You can argue using rationality and empiricism when you debate things like when the first heartbeat tends to happen in a fetus, or when it would first develop the ability to feel pain, as these questions have objective answers. However, you quickly reach the bottom of what rationality can dredge up. At the end of the day, you either arbitrarily define a thing as mattering or you don’t, and two different sets of people influenced by emotional association are going to have completely different intrinsic values. There can be no objective conclusion gleaned from debating that on that the grounds of reason and evidence.

        “I think killing fetuses is/isn’t murder!”

        “Excuuuuuse me, but that’s wrong! If you’ll look at this chart for a second…”

        All debates have at their bottom, no matter how many layers down, pure preference, dependent not on fact, but on both acculturation and genetics. The reason such preferences end up so cloaked when they underlie political positions is because they decide who gets – figuratively speaking – clubbed on the head, and so we have to come up with a million and one strategies to try and show that our instrumental values will serve the intrinsic values of the person we are trying to convince and not just our own. Of course, eventually the instrumental values can become intrinsic values through a process of emotional osmosis, so we get to such a stage where we become emotionally outraged when abstract concepts like “human/property/worker’s/women’s/men’s rights” get violated.

        tl;dr
        “Nice spooks, nerd!” ~ t.Max Stirner

        • Wrong Species says:

          First things first, I want to unequivocally stress that I don’t think this should be an explicitly conservative site, so please don’t interpret me as saying that. If the place ends up leaning left, so be it. That being said…

          This is exactly the kind of thing I’m getting at. Intellectual diversity can be good, but not always. When people share a common framework, then they can have rational discussions inside that framework instead of talking over each other. At some deeper level, politics isn’t about policy and you can’t have a rational conversation about it. You can’t change someones political preferences in a conversation but you can change their views on the margins. In the end, too much diversity ends up leading to nothing as both sides spend more time warring rather than speaking rationally. But again, sharing a common framework can be a disadvantage because people will make faulty assumptions without even understanding how someone could view things differently.

          People keep wondering why SSC became more conservative. I think the simple answer is that people from more conservative website(Econlog, Money Illusion) kept linking here and brought their viewers. But I think the other part of it is that we chose this. Scott started doing more and more open threads and we decided to talk about what we wanted to talk about: politics. Conservatives wanted a chance to speak up because they don’t often get a chance to speak their minds. No liberal could ever lose their job for saying these things in public. But many conservatives could, which is why we are more likely to speak up than the numerous liberal commenters. When people here say talk about how liberals need to be “more represented”, I see that as a threat. Right now, it’s about “intellectual diversity”, but there is no affirmative action for conservatives. You may disagree with my concerns but I don’t think they’re ridiculous.

        • “All debates have at their bottom, no matter how many layers down, pure preference, dependent not on fact, but on both acculturation and genetics. ”

          I do not believe that is correct.

          Consider the minimum wage debate. If, as many opponents of raising the minimum wage believe, the main effect of the minimum wage is to price low skilled workers out of the market, then most of those who currently support raising it would not. Do you disagree with that? But that’s entirely an issue of fact, not preference.

          To make the argument one of preference, I think you have to claim a factual situation where any such effect, if it exists, is relatively small, so the main effect is to give low skilled workers higher wages. You then might get some disagreement based on preferences.

          The same is true of other issues. If, as Peltzman concluded, the effect of adding efficacy to the requirements for FDA approval was to cut the rate of introduction of new drugs in half without improving their average quality, it’s hard to see why anyone would be in favor of it. If, on the other hand, the effect was to eliminate only drugs that didn’t work, few people would oppose it.

          • John Schilling says:

            Consider the minimum wage debate. If, as many opponents of raising the minimum wage believe, the main effect of the minimum wage is to price low skilled workers out of the market, then most of those who currently support raising it would not. Do you disagree with that?

            I kind of disagree with that myself, actually. I believe that supporters of the minimum wage sincerely believe that allowing people to live on sub-minimum wages is an absolutely intolerable condition to be rectified by any means necessary. If the main effect of the minimum wage were to price low-skill workers out of the market, then what they would have us sacrifice is not the minimum wage but the (free) market.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            @JS, that’s pretty accurate. Doing hard tedious labor for the current minimum wage is considered inhumane. As someone who works minimum wage doing tedious physical labor I quite agree. Of course given the proper stimulus or lucky break I could have better options available, but many people will not ever have better options.

            Perhaps the major issue is the relative nature of poverty. If there is a large underclass, regardless of their objective wealth, many people would be unhappy. Part of the issue is that the goods of the lower classes rise in cost based on the wealth of all classes. There could be a situation where there is no realistic way for a minimum wage worker, even with 3 jobs, to have a decent place to live, even applying current rather than future standards of decent. This is sort of an issue in California, especially since NIMBY’s refuse to allow the construction of cheap housing because thanks to the free market it could lower the value of adjacent property, their property specifically. They still want a convenient Starbucks location with rock bottom prices though.

          • Aapje says:

            @DavidFriedman

            If, as many opponents of raising the minimum wage believe, the main effect of the minimum wage is to price low skilled workers out of the market, then most of those who currently support raising it would not.

            I think that the financially literate advocates of raising the minimum wage see this as a logical and desired outcome (although they don’t necessarily believe that it is the ‘main’ effect; I would argue that there are two main effects: driving wages for some jobs up and eliminating some other jobs).

            I don’t know if the financially illiterate advocates would change their view, they probably care more about income effects for the poor, which would be positive, if welfare is sufficient (which is questionable in the US context). In general, the ‘virtue of work’ seems to be much more of a right wing ideal than on the left (and being priced out of the job market doesn’t even mean that people won’t work, they just won’t do ‘paid jobs’).

            Note that one can make a similar argument about opponents of raising the minimum wage. How many (poorer right wing people) don’t realize that their wages would increase and merely support it due to ‘more jobs is good’ reasoning, ignoring how they might benefit?

          • “I think that the financially literate advocates of raising the minimum wage see this as a logical and desired outcome”

            Are you saying that they believe that pushing low skill workers out of a low paying job and into welfare is a net plus? I can imagine some people holding that position, but I don’t think I have seen anyone publicly arguing for it.

          • Aapje says:

            Yes. This is exactly what the UBI would do as well (assuming that you are willing to call it welfare). Many on the left also support the UBI for the reason that it moves those people from ‘having to work’ into ‘wants to do’ (where the latter can be things that the job market is unwilling to pay one for). It was the main argument that I heard last time it was proposed in my country.

            There are people on the left who support subsidized jobs, which are a form of welfare. The jobs they want to subsidize are usually specific ones, not those that the businesses create, but rather, those that they feel should exist to improve society.

            Both of these are basically ‘soft’ anti-capitalist positions (in the sense that they don’t want to scrap capitalism, but to reduce its scope).

            Note that my knowledge of this mainly comes from politics in my country, not American sources, so the American left may be different in this regard. Of course, one could argue that it is not very left for the most part.

      • Nornagest says:

        Communist, Fascist, Libertarian, Anarchist threads would be very interesting.

        I think I’d really enjoy that.

    • herbert herberson says:

      Speaking only for myself, and offering only a datapoint rather than any proposals, this would do nothing for me. My problem with SSC commentary isn’t dogpiling–if I’m making a point that’s able to be dogpiled, I want to know it, not be protected from it. My problem is that whenever I start to truly nail down one of the more right-leaning commentators with a good left-leaning argument (not saying I manage to do this all the time, but sometimes!), they pretty much always abandon ship. This is indicative of a commentariat that is sophisticated when it comes to those things, because declining to engage an argument that you’re losing is a smart move, but from my perspective it kind of makes the whole exercise a loss either way.

      • Iain says:

        I mean, that’s what victory looks like in internet arguments. Your interlocutor runs out of responses, slinks away, and — if you are lucky — changes their mind a little bit for next time.

        • herbert herberson says:

          Yeah, but out in the wild it’s usually really obvious. Here, people are smart enough with their disengagement that even I’m not sure what happened, let alone any third-party observers

          • keranih says:

            My problem is that whenever I start to truly nail down one of the more right-leaning commentators with a good left-leaning argument (not saying I manage to do this all the time, but sometimes!), they pretty much always abandon ship.

            Don’t reject the possibility that people have other lives/jobs/pursuits/interests than just “beating the opposition in an internet argument.” Particularly if it has gotten heated/retreading old ground without shared givens.

          • axiomsofdominion says:

            Which is why he specifies that it happens right when he has managed to catch one in a trap. They have all the time in the world till you’ve got them pinned is the implication.

          • The fact that one side in a debate believes he has caught the other in a trap doesn’t necessarily mean that the other side believes it.

          • Deiseach says:

            Sometimes it happens when the other person thinks “this is going nowhere, we’re just arguing in circles now” or thinks “I’m getting unreasonably angry, I should step away and cool down” and either way, they don’t bother continuing the exchange anymore and walk away.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Yeah, I wouldn’t want to deny that any of the things y’all mention can be in play. Plus, they’re in no way mutually exclusive…. just giving my two cents on the “problem.”

    • Deiseach says:

      Tekhno, by the way, is that list also doubling as “And the following will be first up against the wall come the glorious day of revolution?”

      😀

      • Tekhno says:

        Shhhh. If I can lead the leftist revolution myself then I can undermine it from the inside. Inverse-Leninism.

    • Tibor says:

      This all sounds a bit complicated, what about a simpler solution – we could agree to let each threat have only a certain number of posts (till you get to the lowest indentation level plus 5 more or something like that). Then, the thread may continue in the next OT. That sure prevents “dogpiling” (usually people are not online at the exact same time) has an additional advantage that people have to wait before they type in a response which may result in more thoughtful comments.

      One problem might be that someone who argues for A, who is “outnumbered” by others who argue for B, might end up writing one post, only to be swarmed by the limiting number of replies. I’m not sure how common that is (my impression is that you tend to have a dialogue of something like at most A BB or A BBB which seems still fine). If it is indeed a problem then a simple rule (including the maximum length above) could be that if you argue for B, you have to follow an A (or wait till the next OT).

      All of this would make discussions significantly slower, but I think that might actually be a good thing sometimes.

      • Tekhno says:

        Or maybe Scott could just manually decide which threads count as dogpiling threads? It would be hard for him to moderate on that level of precision full time, but it would make it easier for him if someone wrote a program that targeted all threads with 7 or more posts in them or whatever, allowing quick access to controversial topics.

        Or hell, maybe we could just have another button in combination with the report comment function, called the “report dogpile” button.

        (All these proposals may be highly abusable).

        • Tibor says:

          I think that any solution that depends on Scott doing more than he is is wrong. This is something some commenters here have a problem with and since other commenters want to talk to them (at least some of them) house rules can be established and people follow them. There is a simpler solution than banning those who break those rules or deleting their post – you can always ignore them.

          This would not work well if you had a large group of people talking here, but the complain seems to be that there is a very vocal minority with right-leaning views outshouting the vocal minority with left-leaning views. Well, since this is about people who all keep interacting with each other repeatedly, you can set up self-enforcing rules like that.

          Personally, I find this whole thing a bit funny though. When I post something here, I am generally more interested in what people who disagree with me have to say. I am happy if there are more of them (as long as they say something interesting) and I don’t feel obliged to respond to all of what they say. The point is not to “win the debate” but to engage with the most interesting responses, the rest I can simply ignore. If all of them are interesting, then all the better. If most of them are partisan rants without much substance I ignore the comments And if they are name calling and stupid sneering, then I tend to mark that down and tend to avoid interacting with that commenter in the future.

    • Well... says:

      Whew! It pays to keep your head down.

      Seriously though, inasmuch as there’s any kind of political or rhetorical imbalance here that needs correcting (I haven’t been following that particular controversy closely), maybe the solution isn’t just to put a thumb on the scale, but to nudge the culture a bit. One of the things I appreciate most about this blog’s “commenter community” (slight grimace for using that term) aside from the incredible level of civility and intelligence on display, is the high average level of epistemological realism and self-awareness.

      This gives me an idea for an experimental rule Scott could try out on one or two OTs:

      Any time someone makes an opinionated statement or a statement of controversial fact, he or she must also provide an epistemic certainty quotient (ECQ) from 0-100%. If no ECQ is provided, others should demand it. Alternatively, one might add a description of one’s “epistemic status” about a topic, the way Scott does to many of his posts.

      – People will not add an ECQ to non-controversial statements like “the sky is blue” and nobody will demand one. This self-regulating loophole is a feature.
      – Even those who agree with a statement might still demand an ECQ for validation or because they are curious to compare with their own level of certainty.
      – Forcing yourself to think about and explicitly state your own level of epistemological certainty will, I expect, have a cooling effect on the emotionally charged rhetoric that some commenters feel put off by.
      – Forcing yourself to think about and explicitly state your own level of epistemological certainty will, I expect, have a cooling effect on tribal impulses, and this will hopefully radiate out to other interactions outside this blog.

      • Trofim_Lysenko says:

        Seconded as a good suggestion or experiment.

        • hlynkacg says:

          Thirded

          • AnonEEmous says:

            countered

            this is aids dude, it’s just a weird shout-out to the group dynamic, enforced as a rule / group norm. If you feel some type of way about people making statements they’re unsure about, you can surely enforce that in other ways. Besides, does anyone really have a good way to calculate their percentage?

      • skef says:

        Seems like a recipe for arguments over terminology.

        • Well... says:

          Those happen already, anyway.

          Besides, what’s your reason for saying so? Typing a number between 0 and 100 is a lot easier than arguing semantics. If I say something and you challenge the way I said it, I can compromise with you by simply lowering my ECQ. If anything, this would reduce the number of arguments over terminology.

          • skef says:

            Because “opinionated” or “controversial” statements have a value element, and by attaching an explicit credence to them one suggests such value elements have factual support. An argument about what is or isn’t normal isn’t likely to be productive.

            Besides, it seems unlikely to be something people will take seriously.

          • Well... says:

            The problem you describe seems like it would actually help to make the value elements of a statement more visible to both the person making the statement and those reading it. This visibility would be an effective form of feedback on the ECQ. Or else at least it would make it easier for people to say “OK, I see that’s just what your value priorities/first principles are. Let’s agree to disagree.”

            Your first link is to a post on my own personal blog from a year and a half ago, so that seems irrelevant. Your second link (to a comment I made last month) calls me out pretty well. I don’t claim to be perfect, but I think I’ve cleaned up my act a lot in the past few weeks.

          • skef says:

            It was something I remembered your having written that had a relevant quality.

            The point is that whatever the merits of the underlying ideas, it’s tedious and often unenlightened to debate those ideas through the proxy of terminology. Attaching explicit credences to specific phrasings will invite scrutiny about why that phrase was used and what support it has. That problem is one (of many) reasons why jargon takes hold in specialist subgroups. In the abstract going through the exercise of very careful choice of terminology might be beneficial, but practically it would either not work or leave the comments here even more opaque to newcomers.

          • Well... says:

            I still am not sure I understand. Why would my suggestion necessarily result in more arguments over terminology than people already engage in?

          • Deiseach says:

            If I say something and you challenge the way I said it, I can compromise with you by simply lowering my ECQ

            Lowering it from, let us say, 70% to 55% won’t cut much ice when I want you to admit it’s completely wrong and mistaken and I want you to lower it all the way to as close to 0% as you’re prepared to go.

            If you’re not willing to do that, because you’re certain you have correct facts, correct interpretation, or a reasonable opinion, I am still going to think you are tarring my side with the wrong brush and you are still going to think you are being unfairly pressured to change your mind about something you have good reason to think.

          • skef says:

            Here’s a different way of putting the point: Say you believe a certain state of affairs has probability p of being true of the world. It’s tempting to simply come up with some way of phrasing that state of affairs and asserting that that has probability p. But that second step is very fraught, because any given phrasing is likely to include concepts that have their own probability considerations, and by attaching p to those concepts in combination you wind up taking a position on more than just the original state of affairs.

            To use an example from philosophy of language, suppose you point to a person at a party and say “It’s 80% likely that the man drinking the martini will be the chair of the philosophy department next year.” Now, you may have just been using “the man drinking the martini” to pick out a person to refer to, but now in your statement you’ve taken a position on how likely it is that someone in the room is drinking a martini, and who that person is. What if it’s just a water in a martini glass? What evidence do you really have that it’s a martini?

      • tscharf says:

        I’m 100% certain I am right about everything, except for the things I am wrong about.

        • Deiseach says:

          I may not be 100% certain about the facts/thing that I am fighting over, but I am 100% certain I want to fight over them/it.

      • Tekhno says:

        If the percentages aren’t based off real data and just represent confidence, then what’s the difference between using a number and just using various English expressions to express confidence? I guess it’s quicker?

        • Well... says:

          Quicker, easier to generate, easier to find and compare.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            But compare to what, though? Given that these are basically randomly generated probabilities, it seems as subject to people’s personal judgment as words are. I don’t think enough people here intrinsically know what “70%” is, to the point that they’d all agree. I mean, cognitively they do, but then again the dictionary agrees on the meaning of most words, so cognitively most people can come to agreement on that too. But in terms of actually calculating some type of probability, of something that’s not an actual coin-flip type probability…I don’t think people can make any type of reasonable comparison from that. Personally, I think the end-game is that there will be a probability which stands in for “pretty sure”, one which stands in for “kinda sure”, and one that stands in for “unsure”, and you will just have to learn them from the regulars if you want to comment.

      • Jiro says:

        And what if I am much better at implicitly making epistemiological estimates than at explicitly making them?

        This is, in fact, a flaw of many such proposals: often people implicitly know how to do something, but not how to explicitly formalize it. Forcing them to formalize their argument may just mean that they are bad at formalizing rather than bad at arguing.

        It’s like saying “we won’t permit you to have a driver’s license unless you can write down the exact sequence of muscle movements you need to make in order to perform a U-turn”. You can know how to exercise that sequence without being able to write it down.

    • Machina ex Deus says:

      So you’ve compiled a list of those who will temporarily be denied full membership in the community and the opportunity to speak, but only for the duration of the current state of emergency?

      As a conservative, I see no way that could possibly go wrong.

      • This is a great comment. Speaking from the centre/centre-left, I agree denying speech in this way is a bad way to tackle the problem. And this is despite the fact that I’ve often felt dogpiled by right wing posters here whenever they saw anything they could turn political in a discussion. There has to be more constructive ways to address that.

      • AnonEEmous says:

        if your being nonserious then good 1

        if your being serious then you take an L for that 1

    • My two cents is that I have multiple times felt dogpiled or had subthread hijacked like you describe. It has been particularly annoying when people turn a non-political topic into a political one. And I think I’m close to the centre or maybe centre-left, so I can understand the lefties on here being a bit concerned. However, I still think silencing people in this way doesn’t seem very constructive or fair. I also think solutions should try to address the problem at meta level rather than object level.

      Maybe rather than than establishing some process that is left-wing-this or ring-wing-that, you could establish some kind of rule or norm that higher standards of niceness/politeness apply to any opinions that are outnumbering a minority *opinion* (rather than person). This would only apply within that particular subthread, Then again this might tilt things in favour of more contrarian views, which may or may not be a good thing. At least it would be somewhat fairer.

      Another option would be to put some sort of limit on the *quantity* of comments each person (regardless of views) could make, like giving everyone their fair share of the microphone, so to speak, but I imagine that might be difficult to implement.

      In any case freedom of speech (with sensible caveats) is kind of a theme on SSC, so imho it would be pretty bad to see that undermined. 🙁

    • ChetC3 says:

      I appreciate the effort, but this is a terrible idea that can only make things worse. The problem is this subculture’s standards of rationality when it comes to political topics, which are an over-the-top parody of affirmative action.

  9. Elias says:

    Scott, I’d love it if you could go ahead and share an in depth review of your reasoning behind opposing fully open borders in a post in the future.

    I’m thinking about what you were hinting at in a footnote in Three great articles on poverty, and why I disagree with all of them:

    And then there’s the whole open borders idea, which probably isn’t very compatible with basic income at all. Right now I think – I’ll explain at more length later – fully open borders is a bad idea, because the risk of it destabilizing the country and ruining the economic motor that lifts Third World countries out of poverty is too high.

  10. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    http://www.bradford-delong.com/2016/12/is-the-problem-one-of-insufficient-market-wages-inadequate-social-insurance-polanyian-disruption-of-patterns-of-life-.html

    I’m not sure this is correct, but I’m pretty sure that people don’t have an innate desire to earn what they get– most people don’t feel bad about inherited money even if it’s so much they’ll never have to work.

    • Mark says:

      Yeah… I think that the need to be paid for the work you have done, and for that work to be valuable, is a cultural rather than innate tendency. There are areas in our culture where you get a pass for not having contributed, and it’s all pretty inconsistent.
      I’d say that in general, what he is saying is true, though.

      We like to give. We like to receive. We like neither to feel like cheaters nor to feel cheated. We like, instead, to feel embedded in networks of mutual reciprocal obligation.

      That’s true – but it doesn’t have to involve money or goods. I like to think that there are people out there who have my back, and I have theirs. It’s pretty complicated, but none of my most important relationships are related to mutual exchange of goods or money.
      In terms of broader society, as a simple man, I want to feel that I’m fitting into society and not upsetting anyone – the actual economics of “blahdy blah marginal utility etc.” I can really take or leave. It’s not something that I think about or that motivates me.

      Thus we need to do this via clever redistribution rather than via explicit wage supplements or basic incomes or social insurance that robs people of the illusion that what they receive is what they have earned and what they are worth through their work.

      I’m not sure that this paragraph fits in with the rest of the piece – personally I’d take the second option – expose the llusion and establish a more realistic understanding.

      • Deiseach says:

        For anything approaching a Universal Basic Income to work (apart from all the problems in implementing it, funding it, etc.) it will have to be very strongly presented as a right, not a handout or charity: “you are receiving this income because you are a citizen”, not “we’re giving you this handout because you are such a loser you need to leech off society”.

        • Mark says:

          Yeah, maybe – the UK has essentially had a citizens basic income for the past decade for people with children, and the way they managed to implement it was by not really talking about it.
          (Same as most major changes made by Labour)

          For me, for the past couple of years, about half of my income has been in the form of government benefits, and I don’t really care what the government says it is for, as long as I receive it. (Though, to be honest, I wouldn’t be all that bothered if I didn’t receive it.)

          For most people it’s just about how the system works – they’ll get worked up about particularly egregious scroungers, if it’s presented in the right way, but normal people claiming child benefit, or whatever, are generally ok as long as no-one really thinks about it.

          • Deiseach says:

            Yes, but Mark, both in the UK and in Ireland there are periodic flaps about “dole spongers” and “scroungers”, generally when the government is trying to introduce welfare/public spending cuts or some other unpopular measure, and it offers a scapegoat for public anger.

            The irony in the last coalition government here was the Labour minister in charge of the Department of Social Protection following the line of the majority partner right-wing party when it came to cuts and austerity, after Labour got into (shared) power on a campaign of looking out for the interests of the less well off and vulnerable, and opposing public spending cuts.

            They even introduced a measure where police officers were sitting in on interviews with people applying to claim social welfare – this was all for the optics, the idea was trumpeted as cracking down on fraud and over-payment, to make it seem as if all the rise in claims was down to deliberate fraud and criminality.

            Never mind that in actuality, deliberate fraud and crime accounts for only a small proportion of welfare over-payments, in line with international levels, and that often the cases are genuine mistakes or the fault of the officials, not the claimants.

            So it would be all too easy to tar the recipients of UBI with the brush of “lazy, scroungers, lifestyle choice not to work, leeches”, especially in the early days when it was being implemented.

          • Mark says:

            That’s absolutely true.

            But, I think if I was trying to sell it to the nation, I wouldn’t emphasise it being a “right”, at least not until a majority already thought that way.
            It’s a bit like immigration – everyone agrees that uncontrolled immigration is bad, but nobody really minds any individual immigrants.
            I think that’s where we’re at with benefits – as long as the system sounds fairly sane, few will object.

            You’ve got to try and present it in the least confrontational way possible – if you’re saying “these people have this right” where many citizens aren’t particularly well disposed to “those people” (largely invented) it’s just going to p- them off and provoke a reaction.

            I think they’d be better off just saying “blah blah automation… this is the best way of managing things.. pah ha ha… those silly ludites… this is how the system works” and just not really talking about the moral objections.

          • John Schilling says:

            So it would be all too easy to tar the recipients of UBI with the brush of “lazy, scroungers, lifestyle choice not to work, leeches”, especially in the early days when it was being implemented.

            Well, except for that pesky ‘U’ in ‘UBI’, which means that anyone playing that game would be tarring their own allies, constituents, etc, with the same labels.

            This is one of the key reasons why a Universal Basic Income might avoid the pitfalls of so may other social welfare schemes. But only if we stick to the principle of universality – and universality in practice, not just in theory. If we set up a UBI and then apply social pressure to the still-gainfully-employed upper classes to not collect theirs so they can feel smugly superior to the unemployed, that way also lies disaster.

          • Randy M says:

            In Alaska residents get an annual check from the oil extraction. A UBI could be sold as the “dividends” of a successful modern economy.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            What about the “Negative Income Tax” structure? I get that the US tax code is a dumpster fire. I don’t know anything about other countries beyond the basic theory of VAT and the name inland revenue.

            But at least here in the US the EITC and various other forms of incentives and tax credits are pretty well accepted by both liberals and conservatives, even as they gripe and grumble about who gets which and how much.

            As long as we’re committing to a very politically ambitious and sweeping change like UBI -anyway-, we might as well go ahead and see about dumping some water on that dumpster fire while we’re at it and replacing as much of that clustfuck as possible with a straightforward deduction-driven NIT.

            I -do- worry about the massive COLI differences, though. I mean, people talk about the difference between New York City or Los Angeles and Saint Louis. I’m talking about the difference between NYC and LA and Cape Girardeau, Missouri (where I live right now), and I’m sure there are smaller, cheaper towns.

      • Brad says:

        Thus we need to do this via clever redistribution rather than via explicit wage supplements or basic incomes or social insurance that robs people of the illusion that what they receive is what they have earned and what they are worth through their work.

        Any redistribution system no matter how clever is going to run into the problem that everyone wants to be (at least) middle class, but in order for there to be a middle class there needs to be a lower class. People not only want to feel like what they receive is what they have earned but that it be more than what other people receive.

        • Mark says:

          It’s more about consumption than income.

          I think England has the best class system, because everyone feels superior to everyone else. Working class people aren’t jealous of middle class everyday consumption – they think it’s ridiculous. Middle class people *do* look down on working class consumption, and they think the upper classes are idiots.
          Who knows what the upper class think – probably something very similar.

          • Brad says:

            I’ll take your word that it works in England but I don’t think it would in the US. If Harlan Whitaker goes down the job everyday to dig and refill holes in the ground he isn’t going to be happy if Shatiqua Jones gets the same check for braiding people’s hair. He’s a hard working, self supporting, American man who only gets what he deserves and she’s a lazy welfare queen in a make work job. It simply isn’t right that he be no better off.

    • The Nybbler says:

      Yes, I think he’s engaging in some serious typical-mind fallacy. There’s a lot of people who are perfectly happy to be cheaters provided they win. And even more that aren’t upset by an unearned (but honestly come-by) windfall.

      I object to his central claims. His third claim discounts human agency and says everything we earn is due to luck. This is a great way to justify redistribution but if everything is due to luck, why don’t I sit on my butt and collect those “dividends from our societal capital”? If “none of us is worth what we are paid” (the implication is that we’re all overvalued, not merely misvalued), then all of us can do that and live a comfortable life without having to lift a finger in work. This seems unlikely. (well, it is what I’m doing now, but I’m living off principal and not dividends…)

  11. Deiseach says:

    This is possibly heartless of me, but honestly, the phrase “couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery” with regard to Hillary’s campaign and the increasingly forlorn supporters springs irresistably to mind.

    I’ve read the reports of the results for the Electoral College votes, and I see that all the beseeching and appealing and targeting of electors to be faithless and not vote in accordance with the vote of their state worked – to turn five Democrats against Hillary! Even better, originally eight Democrats wanted to vote against her, three were over-ruled by their state rules! (So how are all those calls for state rules about voting for the state winner not to be binding on electors looking now, Hillary supporters?)

    Agreed, two Republicans broke ranks and voted for alternates – one for Kasich, one for Ron Paul, both of these in Texas.

    But eight of the electors in Hillary-won states wanted to vote against her. Quite a triumph, everyone! All that touted experience in the job seems to have done is soured her own people on her.

    Frankly, I’m rolling on the floor here, lads 🙂 Now I’m going to sit back and wait for the shrieking harpy vituperation explanations put forward by the opinion columnists and thought leaders as to why this might have been so. YOU HAVE DISAPPOINTED AND LET DOWN LENA DUNHAM AND SAMANTHA BEE, HOW COULD YOU? HOW COULD YOU???? DOES THE HUFFINGTON POST MEAN NOTHING, NOTHING AT ALL, TO YOU?

    • Sivaas says:

      Surely you could also explain it as the Hillary electors knowing there’s really nothing on the line, and thus the perfect opportunity for making whatever statement they want to make?

      • Deiseach says:

        Yes, but the big hoo-haa was all about (1) She won the popular vote! by staggering numbers! (even though the margin only works out to about 2% more which does not stagger me, but the actual number is not what is important here) (2) We must stop Trump at any cost because of the terrible danger he poses to the nation and the world! (3) Help us, faithless electors, you are our only hope! (4) Hillary is our Last Best Hope but if you can’t vote for her, vote for anyone other than He Who Must Not Be Named!

        And the sum total of their pleading was that they convinced people on their side to vote against their candidate. I don’t think the faithless electors in the Democrat-won states would have been emboldened to protest-vote/make a statement vote had it not been for all the noise about “you don’t have to vote according to what the state election says”. There’s making a statement, there’s shooting yourself in the foot, and then there’s this, which I don’t even know how to classify but yes, I am laughing about it.

        This surely has to put in its grave once and for all “Hillary – the People’s Choice, the one we are all crying out for to save us”, but I don’t really expect it will. Hillary won the popular vote by a very slight margin by reason of the way the large urban population centres shook out; her campaign made a pig’s ear of strategising to win the electoral votes, and there weren’t any huge numbers of rebellious electors ready to jump aboard the Anyone But Trump train, even if Martin Sheen (whom I quite like but for the love of God, Martin, cool it with the politics, you are not actually in reality Jeb Bartlett) and Michael Moore and Joss Whedon made special videos for them. In short, she lost, she got beaten, she did not run a winning campaign, and it is not all the fault of misogyny/sexism/white racism/white supremacy/Pepe the Frog/the Russians, the Democrat side has to take some of the responsibility for it. They couldn’t get enough people to like, trust or want her as the next president.

        • tscharf says:

          This entire post-election exercise with recounts and such seems to show that many on the left feel they are entitled to the election (being on the side of the truth and good), and they shouldn’t have to earn it. I was kind of cheering the effort all the way as it is just embarrassing sour grapes.

          Results:
          Recount = Trump gains votes
          Electoral = Trump gains votes

          A few of the media outlets came out against the electoral effort.

          USA Today: “Fundamentally, America is not a place where you change the rules after the game is over.”
          http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/12/15/electoral-college-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-editorials-debates/95447368/

          But most happily reported on it continuously and printed only opinions to overturn the election through legal chicanery (I am looking at you NYT) which I find a bit distasteful. Not that the NYT editorial board isn’t caught taking hypocritical positions every 3 days.

          By the way, has anyone heard HRC won the popular vote? It’s true! It appears that any article on the election is legally required to state this within the first 3 lines.

          • John Schilling says:

            By the way, has anyone heard HRC won the popular vote? It’s true! It appears that any article on the election is legally required to state this within the first 3 lines.

            And, of course, it’s not actually true. Hillary merely lost the popular vote by a smaller margin than anyone else, 48-46-3-1-1-noise.

            Nobody won a majority of the popular vote, and mere pluralities alone seem less popular even than watery tarts throwing swords as a means of legitimizing supreme executive power. Real democracies generally require a runoff election or a ranked-preference ballot or coalition-building in the legislature, rather than simply handing over power to someone most of the electorate voted against.

            In the United States, we first run this past the (now mostly Republican, thanks to the voters) Electors, and if that’s still a tie, the (ditto) House of Representatives. Every democratic path I can see with this electorate, leads to the same end, President Donald J. Trump. But we can at least damage his legitimacy, can’t we?

          • Earthly Knight says:

            This entire post-election exercise with recounts and such seems to show that many on the left feel they are entitled to the election (being on the side of the truth and good), and they shouldn’t have to earn it.

            Have you considered that it’s instead a perfectly reasonable reaction to the election of the worst major-party presidential candidate in history? Trump is a known sexual predator, a compulsive liar, and on track to set all-time records for corruption. I don’t know if there are any circumstances under which the electoral college should fail to rubber stamp the election’s apparent winner, but if there are, yesterday would have been the time.

            But we can at least damage his legitimacy, can’t we?

            If Trump’s victory ever had any legitimacy at all, that all drained away the day we found out that he owes his presidency to espionage carried out by a hostile and illiberal foreign power.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Earthly Knight

            The worst presidential candidate in history? Worse than George “Bring Back Segregation” Wallace or Strom “Don’t End It In The First Place” Thurmond? Or, going back a bit further, worse than Aaron Burr, who while Vice President killed Alexander Hamilton, then ran off to foment revolution in Mexico?

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Fortunately, I edited my comment to include the qualifier “major-party” before “presidential candidate” in advance of your response. Note also that Aaron Burr was never a presidential candidate and that both the duel with Hamilton and the treason took place after he had left office.

            I suppose you could say that Jefferson’s owning slaves and raping them made him a worse candidate than Trump, at least if we are evaluating Jefferson by contemporary standards.

          • massivefocusedinaction says:

            In those days, electors had two votes and the President was the guy with the most votes and the Vice President was the guy with the second most votes. The D-R party goofed their plan to have one of their electors not vote for Burr, so they tied and the house state delegations picked Jefferson over Burr (after 35 ballots), so while he ran on Jefferson’s ticket, he was eligible to become president in the house voting (and got 6 states on the first 35 House ballots).

          • tscharf says:

            @Earthly Knight

            Thanks, I haven’t heard anything like this during the election, I don’t know how I could have missed it. It must be particularly difficult to understand how anyone could vote for Trump. Let me go ahead and answer that. They are racists, xenophobes, uneducated, sexists, and Islamophobes. At least that is what I read at those very same sources. Believing this, it is of course 100% ethical and honorable to throw out a fairly elected candidate based on the fact they fail an arbitrary purity test.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Let me go ahead and answer that. They are racists, xenophobes, uneducated, sexists, and Islamophobes.

            You said it, not me.

            Do you think there are any circumstances under which the electoral college should fail to certify the election’s apparent winner? If so, why not Trump?

          • Brad says:

            For myself, I think Andrew Jackson needs to be in the discussion, and while I might be able to spin some hypothetical situation where the electoral college should refuse to ratify the results of an election, strongly disagreeing with the voters choice is not one of them. It would have to involve something new occurring or coming out after the election.

          • tscharf says:

            Pretty much never, never ever by someone in the opposing party, and certainly never ever based on routine petty politics.

            The examples cited were known by the voters so re-litigating those in the Electoral College would be clearly irresponsible. It is also likely Washington would rightly burn to the ground if HRC was installed in this manner. People are kidding themselves if they think this would somehow magically work out.

            Of course one can imagine many things such as the president-elect being severely disabled medically, or was a secret alien agent from the planet ZzzXxx and so forth.

          • bean says:

            Do you think there are any circumstances under which the electoral college should fail to certify the election’s apparent winner? If so, why not Trump?

            Yes, but it’s only stuff which would cause the president to be removed anyway. If it’s something that would get him impeached, declared incompetent, or dead, then the electoral college will certify someone else. The most likely choice is the VP-elect. Nothing Trump has done yet remotely approaches those thresholds.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ tscharf

            The examples cited were known by the voters so re-litigating those in the Electoral College would be clearly irresponsible.

            The depth of corruption Trump plans to bring to the presidency is, I won’t say a revelation, but something we are only now seeing with our own eyes. Similarly for the fact that Russia interfered in the election with the aim of helping Trump, and the fact that he never had any intention of keeping several of his central campaign promises. I agree, though, that the things we knew about before the election– his contempt for the constitution, his admiration for autocrats, his long history of sexually assaulting women, his misappropriation of funds from his charity, his habitual lying– are the worst of it. So what? Should the electoral college never revoke the will of the voters, no matter how obviously unqualified, deranged, and criminal their selection?

            If you had asked me two years ago under what circumstances it would be acceptable for the electoral college to fail to certify the apparent winner of a presidential election, I don’t know exactly what I would have said, but it would have been something close to: “Maybe if a corrupt, incompetent demagogue with a long history of criminal behavior wins the election by stirring up racism and xenophobia and promoting wild conspiracy theories.” But the possibility would have seemed so remote as to be laughable at the time. McCain and Romney, at least, were decent and competent men.

            @ bean

            If it’s something that would get him impeached, declared incompetent, or dead, then the electoral college will certify someone else. The most likely choice is the VP-elect. Nothing Trump has done yet remotely approaches those thresholds.

            Really? Is serial sexual assault not an impeachable offense in your book?

          • bean says:

            Really? Is serial sexual assault not an impeachable offense in your book?

            I was expecting something like that. I’ll be frank. I find Trump’s behavior towards women boorish and crude in the extreme. I don’t approve of it. But AFAIK, what he’s done isn’t criminal anywhere other than a college campus, and it’s certainly not worse than, say, Bill Clinton’s. Which, I should point out, didn’t actually get him removed from office. (Or Hillary’s handling of classified information, come to think of it.) But all of that said, the level of motivated reasoning from your side on this is rather breathtaking. If Trump was a liberal, and very competent, then I strongly suspect he’d get a pass on the whole ‘sexual assault’ thing. (See Bill Clinton.)
            Also, there were no new revelations on that between the election and the electoral college. If Watergate had broken between election day and the electoral college, that would be the sort of thing I was referring to. Not “he’s a bad guy, so you shouldn’t select him”. It would have to be gamechanging, to the point where if there was a re-vote at the time of the electoral college’s decision, the result would certainly be different. If Trump was in a coma or in jail for murder or rape, then they would be, IMO, justified in changing their votes to Pence. None of the electors had a specific mandate to change their votes based on what their ‘constituents’ would say now as opposed to what they said a month ago.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            But AFAIK, what he’s done isn’t criminal anywhere other than a college campus,

            Uh, several of the alleged victims claim that he tried to shove his hands up their skirts while they forcibly resisted. (Did you not read the article I linked to? Read it.) Is there anywhere in the developed world where this is not considered a crime?

          • bean says:

            Uh, several of the alleged victims claim that he tried to shove his hands up their skirts while they forcibly resisted. (Did you not read the article I linked to? Read it.) Is there anywhere in the developed world where this is not considered a crime?

            You didn’t link to an article. I’m also going to point out that we work on an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ basis. Between motivation to smear Trump and the simple ambiguity of such cases, I don’t think that we’re anywhere near the level you’d need to claim that Trump should actually be in jail.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Here, again, is the article I linked to above. Please do not respond to my comment without reading it this time, I’m not interested in participating in a weird farce where you profess Trump’s innocence without even knowing what he’s accused of.

            I’m also going to point out that we work on an ‘innocent until proven guilty’ basis.

            Yes, one in which the testimony of a dozen witnesses and an apparent confession from the defendant is generally sufficient to secure a conviction.

          • “Jefferson’s owning slaves and raping them”

            There is good reason to believe that Sally Hemmings was Jefferson’s mistress although not, I think, conclusive proof. Is it your view that the fact that she was his slave made sex with her automatically rape? Is there any evidence that she was unwilling?

            Or were you thinking of something else?

          • bean says:

            Here, again, is the article I linked to above. Please do not respond to my comment without reading it this time, I’m not interested in participating in a weird farce where you profess Trump’s innocence without even knowing what he’s accused of.

            I didn’t scroll up far enough. My apologies.

            Going through the list, several of the incidents are not illegal, just crude. The comments to the young girls and Alicia Machado fall into this category, and it’s hard to take the list seriously when it mixes categories like this.
            Several of the others are also stretching the definition of sexual assault much, much too far. Requesting that only attractive women be hired for his resorts seems like fairly normal practice, and while it is sexist, sexism isn’t totally illegal. Likewise the employee harassment thing. Do you have any clue as to what the base rate of sexual harassment claims is? I don’t have time to run it down now, but 0.5% of lawsuits seems like it’s not unreasonable.
            Several others have fairly plausible more-or-less innocent explanations. Have you never walked in on someone you didn’t mean to (Miss Teen USA 1997) or bumped into someone and been embarrassed (Mindy McGillivray)?
            So we’re left with a small core of cases ranging from the disturbing to the flat-out illegal. Most of them happened 10+ years ago, and were not reported until Trump became famous, with two exceptions. Both seemed to be settled, to the point that the women in question were friendly with Trump a decade later. That seems unusual for rape victims. And the rest? Well, people’s memories are terrible (see Brian Williams) and people sometimes lie about these kind of things. Nowhere near the legal standard of proof.

            Yes, one in which the testimony of a dozen witnesses and an apparent confession from the defendant is generally sufficient to secure a conviction.

            No, each witness has separate testimony on a separate incident, and Trump has testimony, too. Good luck getting a conviction on “he said, she said”.

            Just to be clear, I don’t like Trump. I wish the GOP had picked almost anyone else from the primary. But he is the president, and wishful thinking about throwing him in jail for sexual assault isn’t going to get you anywhere good.

          • Randy M says:

            Is it your view that the fact that she was his slave made sex with her automatically rape?

            I’m not EK, but I think that’s an interesting question. Stockholm syndrome is a thing, and I think the left contention that huge power differentials make consent categorically different has some merit.
            I’d have to say it depends on how Jefferson and his household treated slaves, but if it was typical [my conception of] of the times, where compliance was strictly enforced via immediate punishment, it should be the assumption. Something different with the same name, like the Hellenic world perhaps, maybe not.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ bean

            The idea was for you to focus on the dozen women accusing Trump of non-consensual kissing and groping.* Here is an article which includes mostly those incidents, if that makes it easier for you to evaluate the evidence. Note that:

            –6 of the incidents occurred since 2005.
            –Trump has a consistent modus operandi throughout many of the accusations, which jibes with his own boasts from the Access Hollywood tape: he walks up to women he barely knows, just starts kissing them– he doesn’t even wait– or grabs them by their buttocks, breasts, or genitals.
            –Many of the women have some degree of corroborating evidence for their claims, typically, friends and family members who attest that the alleged victim informed them about the incident at the time that it occurred.

            *Setting aside the accusation of marital rape, which emerged in a divorce proceeding and was subsequently recanted, and the accusation of child rape, which has not, to my mind, been adequately substantiated.

            No, each witness has separate testimony on a separate incident,

            Okay? I’m not sure it matters much that there are a dozen witnesses to a dozen cases of Trump forcing himself on women rather than a dozen witnesses to a single case. For comparison, if a dozen homeowners accused the same man of breaking and entering each of their houses, wouldn’t we consider that fairly damning evidence that he’s guilty of most or all of the crimes?

            @ David Friedman

            Is it your view that the fact that she was his slave made sex with her automatically rape?

            Yes, and this seems rather obvious to me. No valid consent can be give where the consenter could legally be beaten or killed for saying “no”.

          • bean says:

            The idea was for you to focus on the dozen women accusing Trump of non-consensual kissing and groping.*

            You picked the link, not me.

            –6 of the incidents occurred since 2005

            Here’s the full breakdown:
            2 in 2005
            2 in 2006
            1 in 2007
            1 in 2013
            I would place all except the last far enough back that I’m really suspicious of people’s memories. And the last was mostly an allegation that he treats pageant contestants ‘like cattle’, which, while shameful, isn’t exactly groundbreaking or illegal.

            –Trump has a consistent modus operandi throughout many of the accusations, which jibes with his own boasts from the Access Hollywood tape: he walks up to women he barely knows, just starts kissing them– he doesn’t even wait– or grabs them by their buttocks, breasts, or genitals.

            I still suspect that some of these are very strongly exaggerated, but I’ll grant you that. But the last story with any serious details (beyond ‘objectifies women’, which we knew anyway) is from 2007. Is it possible that he’s stopped doing it, and just doesn’t want to admit that he used to for obvious reasons?

            –Many of the women have some degree of corroborating evidence for their claims, typically, friends and family members who attest that the alleged victim informed them about the incident at the time that it occurred.

            The article you just linked to didn’t say that. In the only case which mentioned friends, it specifically said that she waited until recently to tell them.

            *Setting aside the accusation of marital rape, which emerged in a divorce proceeding and was subsequently recanted, and the accusation of child rape, which has not, to my mind, been adequately substantiated.

            This, at least, we agree on.

            Okay? I’m not sure it matters much that there are a dozen witnesses to a dozen cases of Trump forcing himself on women rather than a dozen witnesses to a single case. For comparison, if a dozen homeowners accused the same man of breaking and entering each of their houses, wouldn’t we consider that fairly damning evidence that he’s guilty of most or all of the crimes?

            If the homeowners made the accusations independently and without political motive (and without waiting 9+ years to do it) I’d agree. (I’d also point out that burglary is a less ambiguous crime than inappropriate kisses/touching.) As it is, the whole thing has the vague reek of the Clinton Death List (although significantly less stupid). Throwing out enough crimes and then saying “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” even if each one, when looked at closely, falls completely to pieces.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            I still suspect that some of these are very strongly exaggerated, but I’ll grant you that. But the last story with any serious details (beyond ‘objectifies women’, which we knew anyway) is from 2007. Is it possible that he’s stopped doing it, and just doesn’t want to admit that he used to for obvious reasons?

            The 2013 allegation includes the claim that “[Trump] continually grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room.” It’s possible, I suppose, that Trump’s lechery has tapered off in recent years– he’s a septuagenarian now, after all– but I don’t see why that should matter. This is a man who has spent a lifetime molesting women, treating their bodies as his private property.

            The article you just linked to didn’t say that. In the only case which mentioned friends, it specifically said that she waited until recently to tell them.

            Stoynoff, McGillivray, and Harth all informed friends and relatives at the time of the incidents (you may need to follow up on some of the links in the People article to verify this). The incident involving Heller had one or two direct eyewitnesses.

            As it is, the whole thing has the vague reek of the Clinton Death List (although significantly less stupid).

            Are there a dozen witnesses who claim to have observed Bill or Hillary personally killing someone?

          • bean says:

            The 2013 allegation includes the claim that “[Trump] continually grabbed my ass and invited me to his hotel room.”

            That was not the main thrust of her FB post, it was a comment to said post. I’m not sure what to make of it, but I can’t see any reason she wouldn’t have lead with that. If you’re against someone, you lead with your strongest argument. I haven’t seen a screengrab of the comment about groping, and I suspect sarcasm or something of that nature.

            It’s possible, I suppose, that Trump lechery has tapered off in recent years– he’s a septuagenarian now, after all– but I don’t see why that should matter. This is a man who has spent a lifetime molesting women, treating their bodies as his private property.

            Well, there are two reasons for the change. Either decreased libido or a change of heart.

            Stoynoff, McGillivray, and Harth all informed friends and relatives at the time of the incidents (you may need to follow up on some of the links in the article to verify this). The incident involving Heller had one or two direct eyewitnesses.

            I’ll grant you Heller. I’m really suspicious of Harth, as she appeared to be on good terms with Trump as recently as a year ago. McGillivray seems like it could easily be a case where Trump accidentally bumped into her. Stoynoff is troubling, but something seems off. Why wouldn’t People have run a story about Trump raping/trying to have an affair? That seems contrary to their normal incentives.

            Are there a dozen witnesses who claim to have observed Bill or Hillary personally killing someone?

            Obviously not. I explicitly said that this was less stupid that the Death List. This feels a lot like Scott’s argument with the Atlantean at the end of Still Crying Wolf.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            I’m sure you can find fairly ad hoc reasons to be skeptical about any of the individual claims, but taken together, they amount to powerful evidence that Trump has a long history of forcing himself on women, exactly as the Access Hollywood tape suggested. The worst of the allegations clearly qualify as sexual assault, and you appear to agree that sexual assault is an impeachable offense; hence, Trump meets your original requirement that the electoral college should only refuse to certify a candidate for offenses which would also be grounds for impeachment.

          • bean says:

            The worst of the allegations clearly qualify as sexual assault, and you agree that sexual assault is an impeachable offense; hence, even if you think that the electoral college should only refuse to certify a candidate for impeachable offenses, Trump meets that condition.

            While really do I appreciate you bringing this back to where it started, you’re still not quite getting my point. The electoral college should not select the normal winner if and only if there’s a reason that a supermajority of the country would agree is a good one. Trump got 46% of the popular vote, and there hasn’t been a massive revelation since election day to change that, so that’s right out.
            Good reasons for electing someone else:
            1. President-elect is dead.
            2. President-elect is unable to carry out duties of office for medical reasons.
            3. President-elect is in jail, or very obviously headed there very soon.
            In all cases, the VP candidate should probably be selected instead, and I think that you’d get the supermajority in each case. We’re not even remotely close to that point with Trump.

          • tscharf says:

            It is not up to the Electoral College to attempt to resolve assertions of unseemly behavior, many of them politically motivated by their timing. There is a separate criminal justice system to resolve these issues. Every election the loser’s party could make assertions before the electoral vote and ask people totally unqualified to adjudicate them. How could that system go wrong?

            We have an existing system that allows people to prioritize what they feel is important and vote accordingly. Many people feel very strongly on subjects such as abortion, illegal immigration, the size of government, farm subsidies, the economy, the social safety net, foreign policy, race relations, etc. What candidate X did in his personal life may not be very important to many because they have bigger fish to fry.

            The allegations on Trump were reported far and wide. They were taken into consideration and deemed to not disqualify him in many people’s minds. Feeling extra super duper strongly on something means exactly nothing. Everyone gets one vote. If one’s specific cause ends up on the losing side of the ledger that represents a failure on their part to communicate effectively and convince others. Full stop.

            HRC made this election a referendum on Trump’s character. That sells to many people, but not enough in this case. Her election strategy could be summarized as “I’m the one not named Donald Trump”. It almost worked. But.it.didn’t. Time to move on.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ bean

            That’s not what you said originally, which was:

            If it’s something that would get him impeached, declared incompetent, or dead, then the electoral college will certify someone else. The most likely choice is the VP-elect. Nothing Trump has done yet remotely approaches those thresholds.

            But we have seen that there is compelling evidence that Trump has committed impeachable offenses, one of the “thresholds” you set for the electoral college failing to certify.

            The electoral college should not select the normal winner if and only if there’s a reason that a supermajority of the country would agree is a good one.

            I’m inclined to think that both directions of this biconditional are false. What matters most is whether there is actually a good reason for the electoral college not to certify the election’s apparent winner, not whether most people think there is one. A convicted murderer or traitor probably should not be made president, no matter how beloved she might be, while a competent, qualified, and morally upright candidate should not be rejected by the electoral college, no matter how widely she’s despised.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ tscharf

            Every election the loser’s party could make assertions before the electoral vote and ask people totally unqualified to adjudicate them.

            No one is suggesting that the electoral college should have failed to certify Trump on the basis of mere “assertions” made by the “loser’s party.” The claim is that they should not have done so because of the compelling evidence that he’s a sexual predator.

            The allegations on Trump were reported far and wide. They were taken into consideration and deemed to not disqualify him in many people’s minds.

            This assumes that Trump’s supporters were familiar with the details of the allegations against him and evaluated them rationally. This seems highly dubious in light of the fact that only 13% of Trump supporters can identify President Obama’s religion and 23% his country of birth. If the voters fail to recognize that their favored candidate is a criminal because their minds are festering sewers of delusion, this seems like as good a time for the electoral college to step in as any.

          • bean says:

            But we have seen that there is compelling evidence that Trump has committed impeachable offenses, one of the “thresholds” you set for the electoral college failing to certify.

            No, Trump’s level of sexual assault is not an impeachable offense. Bill Clinton is proof of this. We have a criminal justice system for a reason, and while a few of the things Trump is accused of doing do reach the threshold where charges might be brought, they haven’t been proved to nearly the level you’d need to impeach. So far we have one side saying ‘he did’ and another saying ‘he didn’t’. Once we start to get facts on the legal record (which has much higher standards than the one where you merely have to be able to mount a libel defense), we can talk again about what he did or didn’t do.

            I’m inclined to think that both directions of this biconditional are false. What matters most is whether there is actually a good reason for the electoral college not to certify the election’s apparent winner, not whether most people think there is one.

            Disagree. The integrity of our electoral system is vital.
            (In retrospect, I may retract the ‘if and only if’ and replace with ‘only if’.)

            A convicted murderer or traitor, no matter how beloved, probably should not be made president

            Trump hasn’t been convicted of anything, and I’d like to see a beloved murderer or traitor.

            while a competent, qualified, and morally upright candidate, no matter how despised, should not be rejected by the electoral college.

            How does he get from winning the presidency to despised by a supermajority in a month, while the Electoral College is still smart enough to see him as being upright?
            You’re throwing out silly hypotheticals. I’ll grant that if either of them were somehow to come true, you might have a point. But they’re incredibly unlikely, and the damage that picking someone besides the original winner in a case that I didn’t outline would do to trust in our electoral system is massive.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            No, Trump’s level of sexual assault is no t an impeachable offense. Bill Clinton is proof of this.

            I don’t know why you keep bringing Bill Clinton up. The most credible accusation against him, Juanita Broaddrick’s, didn’t emerge until the end of his second term, after he’d already been impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice. It also concerned an incident that took place in 1978. I suppose congress could have impeached him again for a crime that occurred twenty years prior, but there were many good reasons for them not to, none of which in any way implies that rape is not grounds for impeachment.

            But they’re incredibly unlikely, and the damage that picking someone besides the original winner in a case that I didn’t outline would do to trust in our electoral system is massive.

            I agree that there would have been serious repercussions had the electoral college failed to certify Trump, although it’s not so clear to me that this wouldn’t still be a better option than a Trump presidency. But, in principle, this seems like just the sort of situation where the electoral college should get involved, when the voters select a lying, corrupt, and criminal demagogue.

          • bean says:

            I don’t know why you keep bringing Bill Clinton up.

            Because he’s also a serial sexual predator. If you really want, I’ll dig up a list of accusations against him, and we can compare his with Trump’s.
            (I note you ignored my point about why the criminal justice system is important in cases like this.)

            I agree that there would have been serious repercussions had the electoral college failed to certify Trump, although it’s not so clear to me that this wouldn’t still be a better option than a Trump presidency.

            But how much uncertainty is on either side of that? If you’re not sure it wouldn’t be a better option, why are you proposing it? If Trump is a high-variance candidate, you’re proposing an ultrahigh-variance alternative.

            But, in principle, this seems like just the sort of situation where the electoral college should get involved, when the voters select a lying, corrupt, and criminal demagogue.

            In principle, I agree with you, and if I was designing a system of government there would be a mechanism in place to do that. In practice, the electoral college is not that body, and trying to turn it into that body after the election just makes you look like something between a sore loser and a direct threat to democracy.

          • tscharf says:

            @Earthly Knight

            Dumb people have rights.
            Uninformed people have rights.
            Racists have rights.
            Republicans have rights.
            Democrats have rights.
            BLM activists have rights.

            These rights are identical to the rights you have. One of these rights is voting. If a dumb, uninformed, racist really cares about abortion (for the record I am pro choice) more than anything, the line of argument you seem to think is the only one that matters, actually doesn’t matter at all.

            If a dumb, uninformed, racist really cares about how women are treated, he votes differently.

            You may have tunnel vision on a single issue, others do not share this. If you think the rules need to be changed for presidential eligibility based on (fill in your personal moral absolute) then work on changing the Constitution.

            You don’t seem to get that people didn’t vote for Trump because he groped women, they voted for him in spite of it. They had perfectly valid reasons to overlook this.

          • @Randy M:

            On the Sally Hemmings question … . She was apparently with Jefferson and his daughter first in London and then in Paris for about two years. That was after the French revolution, so I’m not sure if slavery would have been enforced. If not, she could have left Jefferson at that point if she wanted to.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ tscharf

            If you think the rules need to be changed for presidential eligibility based on (fill in your personal moral absolute) then work on changing the Constitution.

            The constitution decrees that the president is to be chosen by the electoral college, one of whose purposes is to prevent the election of popular but dangerous demagogues. If the electoral college had chosen not to certify Trump, it would have been well within its constitutional mandate.

            You don’t seem to get that people didn’t vote for Trump because he groped women, they voted for him in spite of it.

            I don’t think either of these things is true– given how out of touch with reality virtually all Trump supporters are, I suspect that most of them don’t believe that he gropes women, and would not no matter how overwhelming the evidence to that effect. I agree that there would be a stronger reason for the electoral college not to override the vote for Trump if the public had made an informed choice to elect a sexual predator, but I see no reason to think this is actually what happened.

          • bean says:

            The constitution decrees that the president is to be chosen by the electoral college, one of whose purposes is to prevent the election of popular but dangerous demagogues. If the electoral college had chosen not to certify Trump, it would have been well within its constitutional mandate.

            There’s both a written and an unwritten constitution. The unwritten constitution is explicit (or as explicit as it can be) that the electoral college is there to vote for the people who they are supposed to vote for. The fact that liberals have suddenly rediscovered the point of the electoral college (after spending the better part of two decades damning it) looks like confirming every bad sterotype the right has about them as not caring about the process, only about it getting the right results. This is not helpful to anything, particularly as it was never actually going to change anything.

          • Randy M says:

            I think… probably the liberals are being consistent here. They want the electoral college to certify the candidate with the plurality, and they want the electoral college to go away because with all or nothing votes from states the candidate with the plurality doesn’t always get elected.

            Those who now want it to vote against Trump because he’s deplorable, rather than the popular vote loser, yes, are being inconsistent.

          • bean says:

            I think… probably the liberals are being consistent here. They want the electoral college to certify the candidate with the plurality, and they want the electoral college to go away because with all or nothing votes from states the candidate with the plurality doesn’t always get elected.

            But that’s not the argument that Earthly Knight has been making in this thread. He’s been arguing for not picking Trump because Trump is uniquely terrible, and it’s the ECs job to pick candidates which are not terrible, which seems fundamentally at odds with the argument that the EC is undemocratic and thus terrible. I don’t think many of the appeals to Republican electors were based on the popular vote totals, because that would have been stupid and futile.

          • Brad says:

            FWIW I agree with bean. I think the “appeal to the electors” movement was both unprincipled and a strategic mistake.

            Unprincipled because as soon as it became convenient to do so, so many people flocked to originalism and the federalist papers.

            It is has been the position of the political and ideological left that our system of government is a living, evolving thing for longer than anyone has been alive. That evolving system turned the electoral college into a rubber stamp two centuries ago.

            On top of that, it’s a good thing it did so according to our principles. We should support more democracy (i.e. by abolishing the EC) not less (i.e. by empowering it as an independent body).

            To all of a sudden channel Antonin Scalia because it would benefit our candidate is to act in just as an unprincipled fashion as he did in his Bush v Gore concurrence.

            Secondly, on the strategic front, exposing this internal hypocrisy and eroding a good and important norm, accomplished exactly nothing. And it was entirely predictable that it would accomplish exactly nothing.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ Brad,

            Fair points.

          • tscharf says:

            The constitution decrees that the president is to be chosen by the electoral college, one of whose purposes is to prevent the election of popular but dangerous demagogues. If the electoral college had chosen not to certify Trump, it would have been well within its constitutional mandate.

            And they did exactly that. Trump won. Again.
            Do you have a problem with the process or the result?

            For the record, exactly what do you think the end result should have justifiably been? Pence, HRC, Romney, Kaisch? You are going to have to tie yourself into a 4 dimensional logic pretzel to justify putting HRC in there.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Your original claim was that the attempt to prevent Trump from winning in the electoral college demonstrated that “many on the left feel they are entitled to the election.” I have shown that, to the contrary, it was entirely reasonable to request that the electoral college not certify Trump as the winner, given both the purposes of the institution and how uniquely odious, unqualified, and incompetent Trump has proven himself to be.

          • tscharf says:

            If the request was reasonable, they would have done it. Since the electors voted nearly unanimously for Trump the request was clearly not reasonable in their view.

            And yes I find “Trump is odious therefore the left should win anyway even though we lost the election” to be a sign of entitlement. If you want to argue to put Pence in that is slightly less insane.

          • Protagoras says:

            @DavidFriedman, If Sally Hemmings was with Jefferson in London in post-revolutionary times, there is no need to be so coy. Slavery was not enforced in England at that time.[1] What her prospects would have been if she had run away from Jefferson in London is a complicated question, but one threat she would not have faced is the threat that authorities in England would capture her and return her to slavery.

            1: The Somerset decision of 1772 seems to be regarded as conclusive on this point, though to the credit of the English, their courts had been finding excuses to not enforce slavery for centuries before that.

          • Jiro says:

            The idea was for you to focus on the dozen women accusing Trump of non-consensual kissing and groping.

            The “idea” seems to have been a Gish gallop.

            It is not reasonable to produce a long list of accusations against Trump and then claim that your list has substance because someone hasn’t debunked every single one.

          • Controls Freak says:

            As the resident federalist and Scalia apologist, I’m going to jump in here.

            so many people flocked to originalism

            I think this is entirely orthogonal to originalism. This is because most people forget that originalism is merely an addendum to textualism. The primary thing is the text – what does the Constitution say? Now, there can still be ambiguities in what it says. If there are, we move to originalism. That is, we try to understand the words in the text according to the context in which they were adopted (to Scalia, this is original public meaning, but there are other varieties).

            With this in mind, originalism says jack about the present question, and flocking to/from it just doesn’t make any sense. Instead, originalism says that the Constitution gives the States the ability to select a number of electors equal to the sum of their senators and representatives. That’s it. It doesn’t say anything about whether they should vote their individual conscience or just rubber stamp the state’s popular vote – those are state laws. The fact that those state laws change over time, producing a living, evolving political system has precisely nothing to do with whether originalism is an appropriate method of Constitutional analysis.

            and the federalist papers

            This is more difficult. The federalist papers assumed that states would engage in selecting electors in a way such that “the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications.” I think that both the left and the Not Trump right can say, “Something about the way states are going about this has failed,” (maybe even “something about the way states have evolved on this has failed”) while not embracing the federalist papers. That is to say that they can simply reject the premise of that portion of the federalist papers, and in doing so, reject the conclusions therein rather than embracing them.

            The most difficult question is, “…and what are we going to do about it?” I would contend that your proposal probably wouldn’t work. Trump got 46% of the popular vote, only 2% behind Clinton. If someone who you think is not “in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications” could get that close (when it’s not the measure that matters), do you really have confidence that going to NPV would prevent the success of future such candidates?!

          • Brad says:

            Now in the correct place.

            I concede that technically what the “appeal to the electors” are doing isn’t originalism in the strict sense. But I do contend that all the articles trumpeting the “true purpose of the EC” based on federalist 68 constitutes a sort of parallel lay originalism. One that is contrary to the gestalt of the New Deal and post New Deal theory of American government on the left.

            I’m not sure what you are getting at with your last paragraph, I don’t think I mooted any solutions. Trump won the election, and he should and will become President. Both before and after the election I thought we should go to NPV for reasons not having specifically to do with Trump or a Trump like candidate.

            Finally if you want to be a self declared AS apologist then I’d love to see a defense of the B v G concurrence which inasmuch as it would interfere with a state court decision on a state law issue was contrary to the entire rest of his jurisprudence. Indeed I seem to recall that he had to reach back to a Warren Court precedent from the massive resistance era to find a cite to rest on.

          • Controls Freak says:

            parallel lay originalism. One that is contrary to the gestalt of the New Deal and post New Deal theory of American government on the left.

            I agree that this is inconsistent. I disagree that it has anything to do with Scalia or originalism. Not even “technically”; like, at all. Just pick another word, and don’t mention Scalia, because that would be very very wrong. Honestly, I’m not even sure it makes sense in any overarching gestalt – it’s pure immediate reward politics.

            I don’t think I mooted any solutions. … Both before and after the election I thought we should go to NPV for reasons not having specifically to do with Trump or a Trump like candidate.

            Fair enough. However, even if I think they’re currently acting out of expediency, I think it’s worthwhile (for my political goals) to point out to them that moving to NPV won’t solve their problem. Instead, I’ll invite them to the dark side of federalism, and encourage them to pay their federalism insurance premium.

            I’d love to see a defense of the B v G concurrence

            I’m Jew-ish, but I’ve been told I’m not allowed to work on (observed) Christmas, so perhaps I’ll have some time this weekend to dust it off. I haven’t gone through it in a while (actually, I’m not sure I’ve ever really formed an opinion on it; it happened before I really became interested in law, and I’ve always kind of brushed it off in the category of “most EPC law is made up”… but perhaps I really need to engage with it). Fair warning, while I say that I’m a Scalia apologist, I don’t always agree with him – I just think most of the criticism he gets wildly misrepresents his views. Bush v. Gore may be in the same category as Hollingsworth v. Perry – I think Kennedy wrote a fantastic opinion (…that hurts a little to say) that embraces a form of “judicial federalism” that I really think should be taken more seriously… and I think Scalia was on the wrong side of it. Anyway, I’ll try to top-level Bush/Gore this weekend.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @EK:

            The problem with bringing up those accusations is that no one believes them. Not literally “no one”, but almost nobody. Nearly all Trump supporters automatically discounted them as politically-motivated mudslinging, and I’d wager a majority of Hillary supporters did the same even if they used them. They certainly had a rather short half-life in the media spotlight, which to me implies they just didn’t get traction.

            This disbelief certainly applies to the electoral college, and that is why there was no chance the sexual assault allegations could have affected the vote.

            This wasn’t a case of a bunch of rubes electing a President despite them knowing he was the next best thing to a rapist, something perhaps Hamilton would say the Electoral College should correct. This was a case of voters disregarding what looked like mudslinging to vote for their favored candidate.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ tscharf

            If the request was reasonable, they would have done it.

            So, in your view, not only will the electoral college respond to any reasonable request, the electors are also (in aggregate) infallible judges about which requests are reasonable and which not?

            @ Jiro

            It is not reasonable to produce a long list of accusations against Trump and then claim that your list has substance because someone hasn’t debunked every single one.

            I don’t really see where this is coming from. Are you not on board with the principle that the probability that x is guilty of a crime increases with the number of eyewitnesses who attest that x committed a crime in their presence?

            @ The Nybbler

            The problem with bringing up those accusations is that no one believes them. Not literally “no one”, but almost nobody. Nearly all Trump supporters automatically discounted them as politically-motivated mudslinging, and I’d wager a majority of Hillary supporters did the same even if they used them.

            Here’s a poll suggesting that a third of republicans and the vast majority of democrats believed the accusations were true.

          • Aapje says:

            @EK

            The problem with your focus on his sexual ‘adventures’ is that it is something that doesn’t affect 99.9999% of Americans, while they are affected by such issues as the healthcare changes that he makes.

            I think that politics operates somewhat similar to the Maslow hierarchy, where people tend to vote based on their most basic need that they feel is not addressed sufficiently (with the caveat that I think that Maslow’s hierarchy is too black/white and that people move left to right within the pyramid rather than from the bottom to the top, so after getting some love, they want more safety, etc).

            I would argue that a major mismatch that we saw in this election was between the people who are high up in the hierarchy vs the people who are low. The former often cannot understand why the thing that they concerned about (like Trump’s sexual behavior) is not disqualifying for the latter group, while the latter group cannot understand why an in their eyes relatively trivial issue is considered so important by the former.

            So I would argue that your position is probably heavily influenced by your personal well-being in the current system. It matters naught if a politician is a criminal, if the electorate believe that the overall package is still better than the opposition.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            It matters naught if a politician is a criminal, if the electorate believe that the overall package is still better than the opposition.

            It’s amusing that you say this, given how much energy Trump and his surrogates devoted to accusing Hillary of criminal behavior during the campaign (remember the “lock her up” chants?). Voters evidently do care that their political leaders abide by the law, it’s just that Trump supporters were badly deluded about which candidate was actually the criminal in this election.

          • Aapje says:

            @EK

            That accusation was part of the narrative that Trump spun: Clinton doesn’t care about this nation’s (= your) interests, evident by how careless she was with classified information.

            Clinton came up with her own narrative: Trump is a racist/sexist/etc who will make laws to harm black people/women/etc, evident by how he treats women near him.

            Neither narratives were particularly rational, as the evidence didn’t provide very strong evidence for the conclusion in either case.

            IMHO, you are stuck inside the Clinton narrative. This post and my earlier one is an attempt to pull you out, by explaining that your point of view is subjective and explaining how another point of view can lead to a different conclusion (I’m not asking you to agree with this conclusion, but merely to understand how people come to it).

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Neither narratives were particularly rational, as the evidence didn’t provide very strong evidence for the conclusion in either case.

            As we’ve seen, though, the evidence that Trump has sexually assaulted women in the past is, in fact, quite strong. You seem to want there to be parity between the two parties on this, but there is not– the republican rank-and-file has become uniquely deranged. This is how we ended up with a birther as president.

          • Brad says:

            @CF

            I agree that this is inconsistent. I disagree that it has anything to do with Scalia or originalism. Not even “technically”; like, at all. Just pick another word, and don’t mention Scalia, because that would be very very wrong.

            I like your posts and I look forward to reading your analysis of the B v G concurrence, but this rubs me the wrong way. I know what originalism is — original intent, original public meaning, original expected application, and both Amar and Balkin’s versions.

            I’ve read all of Scalia’s books and many many of his decisions, I’ve seen him speak twice and have a book autographed by him. I’ve also read two of Bork’s books. I’ve was following the Volokh Conspiracy back when Juan Non-Volokh was posting there.

            Disagreement is fine, that’s what we are all here for, but please don’t patronize me.

          • Jiro says:

            Are you not on board with the principle that the probability that x is guilty of a crime increases with the number of eyewitnesses who attest that x committed a crime in their presence?

            This is more like having lots of eyewitnesses each testifying, at the same trial, that someone committed a separate crime. No sensible court would allow that. Furthermore, bringing lots of accusations against someone in a court would take a certain amount of effort, which discourages the tactic of bringing so many accusations that your opponent can’t refute them all simply because of how unwieldy it is to handle that many.

            Gish gallops, on the other hand, are easy.

          • Aapje says:

            @EK

            Sigh. You keep completely missing my point and I don’t know how to say it in a way that you might understand.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ Jiro

            This is more like having lots of eyewitnesses each testifying, at the same trial, that someone committed a separate crime. No sensible court would allow that.

            http://crimejustice.law.nyu.edu/wp-content/uploads/Admissibility-of-the-Defendant%E2%80%99s-Criminal-Records-at-Trial.pdf

            In 1994, Congress approved amendments to the Federal Rules of Evidence specifically applicable to the admissibility of prior sex crime convictions and bad acts (Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994). FRE 413 provides that “[i] n a criminal case in which a defendant is accused of a sexual assault, the court may admit evidence that the defendant committed any other sexual assault. The evidence may be considered on any matter to which it is relevant” (Fed. R. Evid. 413).

            (“bad acts” means criminal conduct which did not lead to a conviction.)

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Yes, I think we’d all agree that prior criminal convictions would constitute evidence…

            …which is what that link actually says. So how is it relevant to Jiro’s point?

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Read more carefully. The article explicitly states that prior bad acts– which, again, means criminal conduct which did not lead to a conviction– can also be admissible in sexual assault cases. It gives the following example:

            In US v. Johnson, for example, the defendant was accused of sexually assaulting one passenger and two flight attendants on board an airplane. At trial, the judge permitted the prosecutor to introduce evidence of other instances where Johnson was accused of, although not prosecuted for, sexual assault (United States v. Johnson, 458 F. App’ x 727 (10th Cir. 2012)).

          • Controls Freak says:

            @Brad

            I apologize. I didn’t intend to patronize you, and I likewise enjoy your posts. You’re probably my favorite of the left-of-center commenters here.

            While you didn’t quote it, I think part of what might have turned you off was my statement that I think much of the criticism of Scalia wildly misrepresents his views. If so, I assure you that I did not intend for that statement to apply to you. I was speaking more generally about why I find myself defending Scalia, and why it’s not that I think he’s always right. Surely you’ve seen criticism after criticism in the general atmosphere that simply doesn’t understand the point of his jurisprudence, right?

            That being said, I’ve laid down my case for why I think Scalia’s originalism is completely orthogonal to the question of faithless electors. Because of that, I’d personally prefer that you use a different word, because I think it muddies the water in a way that is all too familiar in the general atmosphere. If you think my case is wrong and that they are related, I’d like to hear your counter. Or if you agree there and just don’t want to use a different word, could you explain why you think there are enough benefits to using that word to overcome such definitional mud?

          • Jiro says:

            In 1994, Congress approved amendments to the Federal Rules of Evidence specifically applicable to the admissibility of prior sex crime convictions and bad acts

            I said that no sensible court would do that, Sex crimes are a magnet for unreasonable laws that dispense with justice instead of dispensing justice. These laws are not sensible, and I don’t think you can seriously claim that they are, so they can’t be used to justify doing the same for Trump.

            It’s like saying that it’s okay to be prejudiced against someone based on his ethnic background because, hey, the court system did it to the Japanese-Americans, so it must be okay.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            You will need to articulate the rationale for why no sensible court would allow such a thing, and show why it should apply to laymen’s judgments of criminal accusations, too. From what I understand, the main reason why evidence pertaining to prior bad acts or convictions is usually inadmissible at a trial for a subsequent crime is the worry that it will prejudice the jury too much against the defendant, making them too eager to convict even if the evidence connecting him directly to the crime for which he is presently being tried is flimsy. If a criminal already has a long rap sheet, informing the jury of his prior bad acts would virtually guarantee his conviction on any subsequent charge and lead thereby to frequent miscarriages of justice. This is a reasonable worry in the criminal justice system where the goal is to determine whether the defendant is guilty of a specific crime, but we are not trying to establish whether Trump committed one particular sexual assault, we wish to know whether he committed at least one of the assaults of which he has been accused. And I see no reason why we should not take the testimony of all of the purported eyewitnesses into account when making this assessment. So it remains highly likely, given that a dozen women have publicly testified that they witnessed Trump committing a crime against them, that he is indeed guilty of one or more of the allegations.

          • The Nybbler says:

            If a dozen women independently testify that Trump committed sexual assault, and the probability of each accusation being true is merely 6%, it’s more likely than not that Trump committed one or more of those sexual assaults.

            But… that depends on somehow being able to precisely evaluate the actual probability of each accusation. And it depends on them being independent. Neither of which is true here.

            As for your poll, it asks whether or not Trump committed some unspecified sexual assault at some unspecified time in the past, not whether any of those particular allegations were credible.

          • Jiro says:

            The main reason why we shouldn’t allow evidence of prior crimes at trials when there is no conviction for those prior crimes is that it violates what we would consider as justice. The suspect is being punished by the legal system for a crime, but he has almost none of the protections one would normally have when accused by the legal system of a crime.

          • Suppose ten women accuse Trump of sexual assault long after the assault is claimed to have happened, during a time when Trump is a high profile and very controversial figure. To calculate the probability that it is true of at least one of them it isn’t enough to look at those ten women. You have to consider the much larger number of women who could have invented such charges–women who had some contact with Trump at some time in the past in which an assault could have occurred–and the probability that each would have invented the charge under these circumstances.

            If there were a thousand such women, as there easily might be, and each had only a 1% chance of inventing such a charge, then about ten accusers is what you would get if Trump was innocent.

            The logic of that case parallels one in a different context that I have thought and written about. Suppose we have a complete DNA database of the U.S. population. The jury is told that the defendant in a particular crime has a DNA match with the evidence that has only one chance in ten million of occurring by accident. That sounds very impressive–until we discover that he was found by looking through the data base and charging the first man they found who matched.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ The Nybbler

            But… that depends on somehow being able to precisely evaluate the actual probability of each accusation.

            It is unreasonable to expect that every piece of evidence should come with a precise credence attached and a principled rationale for assigning it that credence and no other. This would paralyze us, make it impossible for us to get around in the world at all. We must make do with an intuitive and holistic assessment of the strength of the total evidence, bearing in mind the various types of bias and error that have the potential to infect our judgment.

            And it depends on them being independent.

            It looks to me as if four of the accusations are basically independent (five if we count Ivana Trump’s since-recanted claim of marital rape). We have Jill Harth, who sued Trump for attempted rape in 1997; Cassandra Searles, who accused Trump on facebook this past June, but whose allegations were not widely reported at the time; and Jessica Leeds and Rachel Crooks, the two women whose stories were first picked up by the Times. Even if we ignore all of the other allegations, ignore the Access Hollywood tape, and set aside more circumstantial evidence of Trump’s lechery, like his habit of bursting into women’s dressing rooms unannounced, I suspect that these four accusations alone will make it more likely than not that Trump is guilty of at least one of the charges.

            You’re making life difficult for yourself here, though, because “more likely than not” is not really enough justification to go around accusing people of serious crimes. Still, if we drop the arbitrary restrictions and instead take the total evidence into account, it seems clear to me that our estimate of the probability that Trump committed sexual assault at least once in his life should be in the .90-.97 range.

            @ Jiro

            The suspect is being punished by the legal system for a crime, but he has almost none of the protections one would normally have when accused by the legal system of a crime.

            I agree that testimony becomes stronger evidence if the witness is sworn in under penalty of perjury and cross-examined by hostile counsel. I do not see why we should give eyewitness testimony zero weight if these conditions are not met, however.

            @ David Friedman

            If there were a thousand such women, as there easily might be, and each had only a 1% chance of inventing such a charge, then about ten accusers is what you would get if Trump was innocent.

            This line of reasoning ends up not working because of the scarcity of accusations of sexual assault lodged against other major political figures. If your probability estimates were reasonable, we should expect there to be comparable numbers of women accusing Obama of sexual assault, accusing Romney of sexual assault, accusing McCain, Kerry, Bush, and so on. AFAIK Bill Clinton is the only presidential candidate to face similar charges (Gore was also accused of molesting a couple of masseuses, but this was long after his political career had ended).

            As I noted above, a number of the women also have friends or family willing to attest that they either observed the alleged groping or were informed about it by the victim at the time. Harth’s suit, moreover, was filed in 1997, back when Trump was at best a C-list celebrity.

          • The Nybbler says:

            It is unreasonable to expect that every piece of evidence should come with a precise credence attached and a principled rationale for assigning it that credence and no other. This would paralyze us, make it impossible for us to get around in the world at all. We must make do with an intuitive and holistic assessment of the strength of the total evidence, bearing in mind the various types of bias and error that have the potential to infect our judgment.

            In which case methods which depend on such precise credence cannot be used to confidently arrive at conclusions. That includes “Look at all those accusations; even if each of them is very shaky on its own, it’s likely at least one of them is true”.

          • Jiro says:

            It looks to me as if four of the accusations are basically independent … Even if we ignore all of the other allegations, ignore the Access Hollywood tape, and set aside more circumstantial evidence of Trump’s lechery, like his habit of bursting into women’s dressing rooms unannounced, I suspect that these four accusations alone will make it more likely than not that Trump is guilty of at least one of the charges.

            When creationists produce lists of 200 reasons why we should accept creationism, it’s easy to find a bunch of plausible-sounding independent reasons there, and then to say “even ignoring the really bad reasons, surely just these couple of plausible reasons make it likely that creationism is true.”

            The trick in a Gish gallop is that rebutting accusations takes some effort and has a nonzero failure rate. If the list of accusations is long, it’s impossible to rebut everything in an airtight way, simply because of the quantity. If you try, you won’t get everything, and then the person presenting the Gish gallop can say “even if you ignore all the other accusations (which you happen to have rebutted more thoroughly), this accusation that you didn’t rebut very well proves that the whole thing is true.”

            If you’re faced with a Gish gallop, all you really can do is rebut a few of the easier ones and refuse to do them all, even if you’ve left behind a bunch of “independent” accusations that “survived examination”.

          • Brad says:

            @Control Freak
            Sorry it took me a while to respond. I’m out of town.

            I think perhaps I misread the tone of your prior post, so we can just chalk that up to tone being hard in writing.

            I’m not wed to the “lay originalism” phrase. My basic point was that there were a lot of people quoting federalist 68 at me two weeks ago that two months ago would have said that didn’t care one fig what Hamilton thought that the underlying purpose of the Electoral College was. And I think they were right two months ago.

            Separately I think there is a discussion to be had about how people without a sophisticated understanding understand how the Constitution and are system of government should work and how to label them. Probably save that one for another day.

            As for AS I agree that he gets a lot of criticism from people too ignorant to make it. Even though I rarely agreed with him, he was a great legal mind and writer that was mostly consistent to his own principles. It was that made the deviations (e.g. B v G, Gonzales v Raich) so disappointing. CT btw also comes in for some very unfair criticism.

          • Earthly Knight says:

            @ The Nybbler

            In which case methods which depend on such precise credence cannot be used to confidently arrive at conclusions.

            The only “method” here is drawing a conclusion with high confidence from many pieces of evidence which are severally weak but collectively strong. I do not think you or anyone else could possibly dispense with this “method” of reasoning.

            @ Jiro

            When creationists produce lists of 200 reasons why we should accept creationism, it’s easy to find a bunch of plausible-sounding independent reasons there, and then to say “even ignoring the really bad reasons, surely just these couple of plausible reasons make it likely that creationism is true.”

            This is a weird analogy in several respects. For one, the chief reason to think that creationism is false is the overwhelming evidence that the theory of evolution by natural selection explains the history of life on Earth. There is not, for comparison, much in the way of evidence that Trump is innocent– we have only his own word for it, and we all know how little that means. For two, the points a creationist is likely to make in a debate are going to require some inference on the reader’s part, often fairly elaborate inferences, while in the Trump case we’re talking about eyewitness testimony, which is about as direct as evidence gets.

            To be honest, I don’t think you’re going to have much success arguing that it’s in general a bad thing to have multiple, independent sources of evidence to draw on.

          • Jiro says:

            EK: Do you know what a Gish Gallop is?

          • Earthly Knight says:

            Yes, and I’m urging you to set the jargon aside and focus on the principle that if many witnesses attest that x committed a crime we have solid evidence that x committed a crime. If whatever you’ve read about gish gallops makes you think otherwise, either you are interpreting what you’ve read incorrectly, or what you’ve read is wrong.

        • Sivaas says:

          It’s a fair point: if the nation was so on board with a Clinton victory, you wouldn’t expect the thought of making any message other than I’m With Her to even enter into their minds.

        • Deiseach says:

          There are these fascinating maps that show what the United States would look like if you divided it up according to who voted for Trump and who voted for Hillary. It shows how her vote was very much concentrated in a few key areas.

          • John Schilling says:

            But to how much of an extent is that just because votes can only come from people, and people are concentrated in a few key areas?

    • Sivaas says:

      As a follow-up to this, I decided to look at the history of faithless electors, expecting faithless electors for the losing candidate to be fairly commonplace. I was wrong.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faithless_elector#2000_to_present

      It seems like even on the losing side, everyone pretty much votes for their candidate: at most one faithless elector across both sides since 1912.

    • Randy M says:

      Why does everyone say “faithless” instead of “unfaithful” on this? I don’t recall hearing that form of the word much before, but it is ubiquitous on the topic. Is this my ignorance, or some manipulation of connotations? Any other word aficionados care to clarify for me?

      • The Nybbler says:

        “Faithless elector” is a term of art; it goes back at least to 1969

        There’s a 1704 reference to the War of the Spanish Succession, about a faithless elector of the Holy Roman Empire; I don’t know if the American usage derives from that.

        • Protagoras says:

          Seems extremely unlikely. The electors of the HRE were all major political leaders in their own right, who represented themselves in voting for emperor; they weren’t representing anyone else, and voting for emperor was only a small part of why they mattered. And the elector in question, the Elector of Bavaria, actively plotted the violent overthrow of the Holy Roman Emperor; it wasn’t a matter of voting irregularities. The situations don’t appear comparable.

      • Douglas Knight says:

        Before 1920, faithless was more common in general. It is still half as common as unfaithful.

        • Rob K says:

          It also has better rhythm in this phrase, which I think actually counts for a lot in determining what becomes the standard pat line.

      • Deiseach says:

        “Faithless” is the term being used, and it seems to me to have some connotations of “breaking faith with the electorate”, whereas “unfaithful” seems to have more to do with sexual fidelity within a relationship, or to be used more in that context. A bit like adultery, which is mostly and almost exclusively used about marital unfaithfulness, even though it can also be used in speaking of the adulteration of goods.

    • Jaskologist says:

      I kind of suspect that regardless of the reality, every campaign that loses is going to be painted as complete incompetents in retrospect. My bet is that they all look like giant clusterf***s while they’re going on, since these are huge operations spun up in a relatively short time and with unalterable deadlines. If you lost, there will be plenty of tales of chaos to relate after the fact. If you win, the same tales would exist, but they get the gloss of “yeah, we worked hard and burned the midnight oil and it was crazy at times, but by golly we did it!”

      • Deiseach says:

        I kind of suspect that regardless of the reality, every campaign that loses is going to be painted as complete incompetents in retrospect.

        Well, that depends. Had Hillary’s campaign stuck to keeping quiet and accepting through gritted teeth that Trump had won (which, to be fair, seemed to be their initial reaction), probably once the dust had settled it would have been accepted as “they fought hard but lost because they just weren’t prepared for Trump and his style”.

        But with everyone including media talking heads screaming about traitors to the sisterhood and the advent of forced re-orientation gay torture camps, and the floating of the balloon about the possibility of faithless electors, and the constant harping on about “She won the popular vote, you know!”, and Jill Stein getting involved in the recount call, and then Podesta jumping on the “The CIA says the Russians hacked the election” bandwagon – all of that just focused even more of a spotlight on her campaign, so any flaws got magnified.

        And when the big push to convince the electors to change their minds and “vote their conscience” only results in your own guys voting against you – and let’s take a moment to let that sink in: they were prepared to accept on their behalf a doomed attempt by cheerleaders and supporters to get sufficient Republican electors to change their votes, but it all only resulted in Democrat electors changing their votes from their own candidate – then yes, we’re talking “complete incompetents”. By any stretch of the word “competence”, you cannot include under its aegis “we needed to convince enough of the other side to change their vote for us; however, by raising the possibility of not voting as dictated by the popular vote, we managed to convince our side to change their vote against us”.

        If they’d shut up, taken their licking, and went back to overhaul the whole damn structure root and branch so as not to be caught with their pants down again in 2020, they would have come out of this looking a lot better.

        • Jordan D. says:

          I don’t for a moment believe that’s true.

          First off, it isn’t possible. There’s no “Clinton Campaign” anymore, and to the extent that there was one, Jill Stein certainly doesn’t count as part of it. If you can lump ‘Jill Stein’s badly-organized recount efforts’ into ‘Clinton making herself look bad’, who couldn’t you add to that basket? What you’re actually saying here is “Everybody who doesn’t like Trump should accept this all gracefully”, a phenomenon I am fairly sure has never happened in the history of America.

          Second, while I agree that the electoral swaying efforts were doomed to failure and I’m most sympathetic to arguments that this made people look dumb… so what? There’s a colorable argument that the electoral system was made to resist the election of a crazy demagogue, so to the extent that these people believe Trump to be one, it makes sense to make the argument. You laugh that all they did was shift Clinton’s electors, but you know what the difference between losing by six more electoral votes is? Absolutely nothing. There was really nothing for those people to lose, here.

          Finally, I don’t get the pushback on the reminders that Trump lost the popular vote. Sure, it doesn’t make a legal difference. Sure, you can argue that it doesn’t count because ‘people would have campaigned differently then’, or ‘it’s important for Wisconsinites to be worth more than Californians at the electoral level’. Some people disagree that these are compelling arguments and think that it’s important to draw attention to this mechanism, if nothing else to push back against Trump calling his victory a landslide every time he holds a victory rally.

          (And look at it the other way- if the fact that Trump lost the popular vote is really so meaningless, why does it ruffle so many feathers to post it? Perhaps some people on both sides of the aisle find something significant there.)

          • Deiseach says:

            I know perfectly well Jill Stein is not part of the Democratic Party or the Clinton campaign, but she inserted herself into the controversy to make hay and nobody told her “go away, we don’t want you doing this”. What would have been the perfect opportunity to show her quality and exhibit strong leadership by Clinton would have been to issue a statement – or make a public appearance – accepting the result and saying she had no reason to ask for a recount, even if she could not stop any other candidate from asking for one. Instead, what we got was conspicuous silence from Hillary – Achilles sulking in his tent – and her campaign being coy:

            Clinton’s campaign said it saw no evidence of discrepancies but would help with Stein’s recount effort in order to “ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides.”

            After a defeat of this nature, you have to look at what you, your campaign, your allies, and your supporters in the broader realm did and are doing, and if what they are doing is making you look ridiculous, then stop. doing. it.

            Indeed, with Podesta leaping onto the “Russians hacked the election and robbed us!” narrative as an excuse, Clinton’s ex-campaign (who are still around as persons available to do work for whomever hires them next, and who had connections, links and ties to the Democrats) workers are making themselves part of the ongoing hysteria, which is not helpful in any way. Trump is now the president of the United States, and his administration is going to be in charge for the next four years. Howling about “not my president” is not going to change that, and some leadership from the Democrats to quell the “we’re all going to die!” circle of mutual conviction would be for the benefit of the entire country. Flailing about looking for “It was the fault of this, that and the other, not our fault!” is not going to stand them or the party well in the next election, and I really do want the Democrats to stand a strong candidate in the next election. But unless some hard lessons have been learned, they look like laying flattering unction to their wounds and making the same old mistakes once more.

            When there is a popular delusion of the extent that persuaded people Clinton could still win the election by some jiggery-pokery in the Electoral College, someone to burst that bubble would have been a public service. However, instead we had the media providing space to all kinds of punditry and columnists about how exactly this would work out, actors convinced enough of their own importance to make videos directly addressing the electors to change their votes, and the end result was yet more embarrassment for Clinton and the Democrats. Bad enough that there was never any chance of the magic sudden rebellion by sufficient electors to change the result of the election, but to have the only success be to persuade a handful of electors – and I agree it was only a few – to rebel against your own candidate? That moves from the realm of “fought a decent campaign but made a few missteps” to “making a fool of yourself before God and the public”.

            What I care about re: Trump and the popular vote is how it is being presented. Again and again I read what I can only call propaganda – she won massive amounts, she won by a staggering number, she is vastly the winner etc. and this is being uncritically accepted. There is no mention of how narrow the margin is, that it is something like 51% to 49% – a bare majority. I bet that if you ask someone “how much do you think Clinton’s lead over Trump is?” they’d come up with a higher figure, even much higher (the same way people over-estimate the percentage of LGBT in the population) due to this message being drummed into them over and over – Clinton should be the president because she won the popular vote by a whole heap!

            What is Hillary doing right now? I have no idea. Is she going to continue in politics or retire to head their Foundation? No idea. She appears to be briefly popping up here and there. Is she going to give up all that she fought for over the years? Is she going to try and run for the Senate again, or will she remain behind the scenes as a party insider? Where can she go from here?

          • Brad says:

            What is Hillary doing right now? I have no idea. Is she going to continue in politics or retire to head their Foundation? No idea. She appears to be briefly popping up here and there. Is she going to give up all that she fought for over the years? Is she going to try and run for the Senate again, or will she remain behind the scenes as a party insider? Where can she go from here?

            I’m sure whatever it is you’ll post lengthy screeds about it that put it in the worst possible light.

          • Iain says:

            I bet that if you ask someone “how much do you think Clinton’s lead over Trump is?” they’d come up with a higher figure, even much higher (the same way people over-estimate the percentage of LGBT in the population) due to this message being drummed into them over and over – Clinton should be the president because she won the popular vote by a whole heap!

            More than half of Republicans believe that Trump won the popular vote.

          • John Schilling says:

            I know perfectly well Jill Stein is not part of the Democratic Party or the Clinton campaign, but she inserted herself into the controversy to make hay and nobody told her “go away, we don’t want you doing this”.

            To be fair, the DNC’s announcement that they were going to participate in the recount events had an almost snarky undertone of “…to make sure there’s an adult in the room while this nonsense goes on”.

          • Deiseach says:

            More than half of Republicans believe that Trump won the popular vote.

            Not the question I asked, Iain, and not one on party grounds either. By how much do people think Hillary won the popular vote?

            I’m not disputing she won it. I am disputing how it’s reported. I do think that a distorted impression, that she won by a huge margin and is therefore somehow legitimately the victor, is out there and is being promulgated. If Americans want to change their system to “first past the post” winner of the popular vote, let them do so. That’s not the thing I’m arguing over; I am arguing over the impression being stoked by the media in the phrases it uses as to the margin of victory.

            51%-49% results are generally described as close-run, near things, bare majorities and the like. It’s taken as indicating that the winning position did not convince everyone/the losing position very nearly won, or at least that’s how I’m accustomed to seeing it read and interpreted. In the various referenda on divorce in my own country, such results heartened the pro-divorce campaigners to keep pushing for their aim; it was certainly never taken as “Well damn, we lost by 2%, we better give up!”

            But this time, this particular result? Yuuuuge numbers! She wuz robbed!

          • rlms says:

            @Deiseach
            Well, going by the poll that found 29% of voters thought Trump won the popular vote, 29% of voters presumably think that Clinton won by -2% or something.

          • Iain says:

            Yeah. What I think you are missing, Deiseach, is that the discussion of Hillary’s margin of victory is not happening in a vacuum. It is a corrective to claims that Trump won in a landslide with a massive mandate.

            Hillary’s margin of victory in the popular vote would not be particularly impressive if she’d won. But it is unprecedented in modern American politics for the loser of an election to be this far ahead in the popular vote. That’s worth pointing out.

          • Aapje says:

            If the corrective to a lie is another lie, you just end up with two tribes that believe in a (different) lie.

          • Iain says:

            If the corrective to a lie is another lie, you just end up with two tribes that believe in a (different) lie.

            How is this at all connected to anything I said? I’m not advocating for lying about the popular vote; I’m just defending its relevance.

          • Aapje says:

            You argued that it was a corrective. I argued that a falsehood is a bad corrective.

            I never said that you were advocating lying. I was discussing the consequences of using a falsehood as a corrective.

            This may not be what interests you or the direction in which you may want to take the discussion and if so, you are free not to reply.

          • Iain says:

            Do you think that your hypothetical situation about lying has any bearing on the situation we were discussing? If so, please elaborate. If not, why did you bring it up?

            The post you made looks an awful lot like you wanted to insinuate that people talking about Clinton’s popular vote margin were lying, while maintaining plausible deniability.

        • ” By any stretch of the word “competence”, you cannot include under its aegis “we needed to convince enough of the other side to change their vote for us; however, by raising the possibility of not voting as dictated by the popular vote, we managed to convince our side to change their vote against us”.”

          Think about it as a gamble. Suppose they believed that the probability of getting enough Trump supporters to switch to throw it into the House and then getting the House to choose whichever candidate ended up number three in electoral votes was 5%, the probability that they would lose more electoral votes than Trump 95%. Hillary losing electoral votes doesn’t change the outcome, Trump losing enough electoral votes might.

          Note also that if that was the plan, it makes sense, as part of the plan, for some of Hillary’s electors to switch to a candidate who they think the House would prefer to Trump in order to make sure that he was in the number three spot. I doubt that’s what happened but it isn’t impossible, given that some of the electoral votes were apparently switched from Hillary to Colin Powell.

          • Deiseach says:

            It was a poorly thought-out gamble, though I do agree that if I could believe there was that much strategy behind it, I would respect the attempt more.

            As you say, if it failed, they were no worse off since she had already lost. But the trouble was betting that enough Republican electors would switch to a non-Trump candidate, presumably because of the perception that Trump was so distasteful to the Republican party.

            Now, had there been an agreed third candidate that all the Republican electors could have voted for (be it Rubio or Romney or the Ghost of Christmas Past), this might even have worked, at least to get a respectable number (and in this instance, even ten Republicans switching their vote would have been a respectable result) to vote against their state.

            But in the end, there wasn’t an agreed third candidate, so from the Republican side it just looked like “we want you to switch votes so your party does not gain the presidency” – something to which I can’t see anyone being surprised that they said “Hell, no!” It really may have been not so much that they were voting for Trump as voting to keep the Republican Party victory after two terms of a Democrat president.

            Also, since there wasn’t a coordinated candidate for the faithless Democrat electors (there was a vote for Faith Spotted Eagle as well as a vote and an attempted vote for Bernie Sanders), and since the aim of getting faithless electors was not alone to prevent Trump from gaining the presidency but to drag Hillary over the line, I don’t think it was an actual strategy or gamble to get a third candidate who would appeal to the House enough to push Trump into third place. It really was more of a popular (populist?) appeal, I don’t think the party itself had any faith in it working or supported it much more than very lukewarmly. I also wonder what the reaction would have been should, for instance, Powell or Warren or Sanders get the nod instead of Clinton. Presumably some people would have been happy on the basis that “better the Devil than Trump”, but all those penning screeds about how third-party voters had betrayed the nation and how white feminists had put their whiteness over solidarity with the sisterhood by voting for Trump or Johnson or Stein instead of Hillary? I don’t think they would have liked that result, either.

            And when you end up with more of your own side voting against your candidate than the opposition side voting against their candidate, it looks unplanned, incompetent, and as if you deserved to be beaten.

            A dignified acceptance of loss can be respected even by ideological opponents. Getting into a situation where you get beaten twice in a row plus manage to shoot yourself in the foot – that looks rather more like desperation and inability to judge reality correctly.

        • lurking class nero says:

          “There’s no “Clinton Campaign” anymore”

          Deiseach doesnt want to hear that.

          The day of Trumps first disaster she’ll be here trying to bring the conversation back to the personality flaws of HRC.

          • hlynkacg says:

            Care to make a wager?

          • Deiseach says:

            When there’s a disaster, I’ll be very happy to discuss it with you all as to what happened and how it could have been avoided.

            I will not, however, change my mind on “If only Hillary had been elected, this would never have happened”, anymore than back in the first days of Hope’n’Change, I believed Obama was going to be anything more than a competent politician who would do some good things, fail to do other things, and all in all would be moderately okay.

            I don’t think Trump is going to be anything like a great president, I acknowledge he has a lot of flaws, but I also do not believe any of the hysteria about him being a real genuine Nazi or that he will instigate a nuclear war.

          • rlms says:

            @Deiseach
            What if the disaster is “Trump embezzles juge amounts of money from the government for his personal use”? Would you argue that would have been equally probable under Hillary?

          • Deiseach says:

            rlms, I don’t know. I know the Clintons have been tainted with accusations of corruption, but I don’t know how factual those are. So far as I can make out, there was nothing about him/her/them diverting public funds to their own use while in office, either as governor or president; it’s more influence peddling and good old cash-for-access like many other politicians.

            So I would not at all be prepared to say “embezzlement would be more likely under Hillary”.

            Is Trump an embezzler? Again, that’s something I have no idea. He’s supposed to have fiddled his taxes, but whether he really cheated on not paying what he legally owed, or merely took advantage of the tax avoidance loopholes in the law (like Apple) is something for the IRS to figure out. He is also supposed to have a long record of not paying his contractors. But that’s not embezzlement.

            So the question is: (a) Is Trump likely to dip sticky fingers into the till while in office? (b) Is this something equally likely/would never have happened had Hillary been elected?

            I think (a) is a very good question to argue, if anyone can produce facts (not “Trump is so bad, of course he’ll steal the pennies from the poor!”) to make a case, e.g. instances where he diverted money raised for Purpose A into his own personal bank accounts.

          • rlms says:

            @Deiseach
            The Wikipedia page for the Donald J. Trump Foundation has a long section on “legal and ethical controversies“. As I understand it, it is a private foundation not a public charity, and so doesn’t have any obligation to engage in philanthropy. But from a purely legal perspective, it seems to have got in trouble several times for “purchasing goods and services for personal or business benefit with foundation money” which sounds like what you want. There is a difference between taking money from an organisation that is supposed to be working for your benefit, and from the US government, but it is immaterial if Trump decides that the US government should be working for his benefit.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @rlms:

            Trump is highly unlikely, IMO, to embezzle money. Way too direct and completely unnecessary. Using the power of the office to cause money to go to his business interests or influence decisions so that they are favorable to his interests seems almost impossible to avoid, however.

          • Deiseach says:

            rlms, I think discussing charitable foundations is going to get us bogged down in a quagmire, since the foundation of The Name I Should Avoid candidate also had a bit of trouble about “too much of your funds are going for what look like ‘jobs for the boys’ appointments”.

            Personally, I think private foundations etc. are all a huge con-job to (at best) avoid tax in a legitimate way and (at worst) be a private piggy-bank for the board of directors. There are honourable exceptions, but I suppose I’m a bit burned by some scandals here in Ireland.

            So if Trump used his private foundation for jiggery-pokery, I have to say (1) I’m neither surprised nor shocked, though I would prefer this kind of thing didn’t happen (2) it’s not on the same level as embezzlement from the government, though I agree it could well be indicative. But ahem, Other Candidate can’t throw stones on that one, you know?

      • cassander says:

        I worry a lot about this in the context of history. there is no political campaign in the world that doesn’t make a few unorthodox decisions and have some squabbling among the senior leadership. If the campaign wins, we call those moves “brilliant realizations” and the squabbling “a team of rivals”. If they lose, it’s “boneheaded mistakes” and “wracked by infighting”. Had hillary won, we’d no doubt be hearing stories about how she bravely and wisely knew she could take resources out of traditional battlegrounds to build up a larger coalition. Instead, we hear how she wasted resources in places she was never going to win.

        Did mitt romney run a good campaign? I really feel I have no idea. Maybe he ran an amazing campaign but fundamentals matter more and 61 million votes was simply the maximum that a republican could get in 2012. Or maybe he blew it entirely and should have walked away with 70. I feel we have no way to objectively judge.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      I’m getting the feeling that Deiseach took exactly the wrong lesson from her banning and then unbanning.

      • Paul Brinkley says:

        The apparent schadenfreude is unbecoming, I admit.

      • Controls Freak says:

        I have to agree. I was a huge fan of her comments pre-ban, but I feel like they’ve taken a nosedive post-election. No offense, I think yours have too… so, uh, there’s that.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I’m sure I’m not on a completely even keel since the election.

          I think I avoided posting at all for a week specifically to not post something really regrettable.

          I find the fact that community has no particular interest in Trump’s weaknesses as a to-be-president and what they will mean for the presidency to be disturbing.

          • Aapje says:

            I can’t speak for other people, but I am quite unsure what Trump will do exactly. So I don’t know what I can write that isn’t pure speculation or hedged into nothingness.

            This is not the same as not being interested, so I think that you might be mistaken in the motives behind the lack of discussion of certain topics (which I think you exaggerate, btw, since topics like potential nuclear war, trade wars, etc have been discussed).

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            I felt that it was so obvious that Trump would be a problem, even among this greyer tribe, that his downsides weren’t worth chewing through again. I likewise felt that that was pretty consistent with the vast majority of anti-Clinton arguments here. The primary argument of interest here was apparently whether Clinton was bad enough to push her down into Trump territory, and even beyond, since there’s obvious disagreement there. So that’s where the arguments went.

            I guess I appreciate HBC taking whatever time off he felt he needed. It could have been worse; EK seems to still be ignoring Clinton’s drawbacks, and fixated on Trump’s.

          • Iain says:

            One example of what I think HBC is talking about: we spent a lot of time pre-election talking about Clinton being corrupt. Trump isn’t even president yet, and we’ve already seen conflict of interest issues at least as bad as anything Clinton ever did. Here’s another example.

            I’m sure the anti-corruption crusaders were going to get around to talking about it eventually, though.

          • John Schilling says:

            I know I’ve already called out Trump as probably the most corrupt US president since Ulysses S. Grant. I think I’ve seen others do the same, all to the same lack of response and subsequent discussion. Because, duh, everybody here understands that Donald J. Trump is corrupt; what’s to discuss?

            Point out that Hillary Clinton is also corrupt, then you get discussion. And arguably dogpiling. Maybe there are places where calling out Trump as corrupt would spark a similar argument, but his defenders here at least usually aren’t foolish enough to defend his ethics.

          • tscharf says:

            The downsides of Trump have been everywhere for 8 straight months. Talking about these is like reviewing HRC’s email habits again. Asked. Answered. Ad. Infinitum.

            We are now in the grace period between hypothetically bad to judging actual performance which is what really matters. I think people are burned out on hypothetical hysteria. Most Trumpsters are in a tenuous wait and see mode.

            Many see this grace period as the only potentially fun time because they get to spike the football before Trump starts doing actual crazy stuff that matters.

            Trump is likely a high standard deviation president with a PDF that leans toward bad. Just like Obama, everything Trump actually does will have polar opposite interpretations from partisans.

            I expect Trump to do some incredibly dumb and impulsive things, but almost all of these dumb things will be inconsequential in the grand scheme but light up the media like fireworks. I expect the right to get hammered in 2018 and 2020 for what they will do in the next 2 years and legislative balance to be restored (see Obama 2008). I prefer gridlock over an activist government any day.

            I also expect Trump to bring change to DC, and by all appearances that is going to happen. Good? Bad? I don’t know. He is going to put DC into a mixer and hit puree and see what happens which is exactly what many voters want.

            My main prediction: It isn’t going to be boring.

          • I posted my views on Trump on my blog after he won. He could be very bad, he could be pretty good, he will probably be mildly bad, not necessarily worse than Hillary would have been.

        • Randy M says:

          Is it Festivus already? 😛

          (sorry, that’s a worthless comment; the timing of the “airing of grievances” brought to mind an old Seinfeld trope).

          I agree D, you should think about the purpose of any post with “Clinton” in it for awhile.

        • Wrong Species says:

          She got banned for her comment to another person here, literally telling them she will be happy when they burn in hell. That’s quite a difference from general schadenfreude.

      • bassicallyboss says:

        True? Kind? Necessary?

        I doubt the Sufi Buddha would approve.

        This is certainly not the worst comment I’ve seen on this open thread, so I apologize for you being the one who receives the response. There’s just something that seems especially classless about replying to someone by making disparaging remarks about them to others in public.

        We’ve got a button for reporting comments, if someone has crossed the line. There is the option of silence, if they haven’t. And in either case, it can be worthwhile to comment on it to them directly. But commenting on it to third parties seems like a good way to recruit allies and pick a fight. I doubt that was what you wanted.

        Anyway, in the future, please think twice before posting. Especially when referencing another commenter’s personal qualities–that sort of thing seems especially likely to end poorly.

        • Aapje says:

          ‘You used to be better’ is not particularly disparaging. It clearly doesn’t speak to one’s personal qualities, but rather, to a state change.

          I think that we’ve all had times where we were in a bad way and ‘aren’t ourselves.’ It can be very healthy to get this pointed out, so one can examine the cause of the change and whether to consciously try to fight against it.

          Pointing this out isn’t inherently much different from pointing out that one has adopted a false belief, which compromises one’s ability to reason correctly, IMO.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I’m not sure who this comment is a reply to.

          Did I make a disparaging remark about Deiseach’s personal qualities? I don’t think I have here. I’m referring to the content of her posts, and the mindset they appear to convey.

          Deiseach was banned (roughly) for saying untoward things that she said she knew would be perceived as untoward. She appears to now be repeating that on some regular basis.

          She appears to also be on a trend line of ramping invective, although my subjective interpretation of this is obviously suspect.

          In the past I’ve pointed out that Desieach does not like people, something she herself said originally. I’ve also asked politely several times that she tone down her rhetoric. What else would you have me do?

          Scott is not paid to be a moderator here. If we do not attempt to self enforce community norms, it is unlikely that mere moderation will retain the community.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            I considered the comment to stand for this, plus the fact that both are regulars here, and therefore they presumably know what lines they can cross with the other.

            Totally acceptable to criticize a current behavior in a way that implies it’s only current, not innate.

          • bassicallyboss says:

            It seemed like a matter of phrasing to me. “This comment violates community norms” seems fine, if stern, and “This comment is the kind of thing that got you banned” also seems appropriate. They are both about the content, rather than the person. On the other hand, “It looks like X learned the wrong lesson from Y” definitely seems to be about the person.

            I’m in favor of enforcing community norms. And I appreciate you doing that. However, I also think that if its done in a way that’s easy to read as a personal attack (again, not that that’s what you were going for), or in a way that invites dogpiling it can cause more problems than it solves, mostly by polarizing commentors and/or serving to start arguments of its own. Which is apparently what happened when I tried upthread. Just forget I mentioned it; I don’t really want to have this conversation anymore.

          • Deiseach says:

            Seeing as my name is being taken in vain, I don’t object to what HeelBear Cub is saying. He is perfectly entitled to his opinion of what this persona is like from the writing, and I have to admit I do lose the volume control at times and start yelling when stepping back and shutting the feck up would be a better idea. So a reminder from time to time doesn’t hurt, even if it is an unfortunate necessity. I do have good intentions of being nice and reasonable and only posting about kittens and rainbows, but that all flies out the window when “Somebody said this? OUTRAGE!” happens.

            Thank you to those who defended my honour, but if I ever feel truly insulted by someone, I won’t be backward about coming forward. A good row that isn’t an insult is a different matter, as is being misunderstood and/or misrepresented. If I think X (not meaning any particular X, this is a general hypothetical X) is trying to say that I said something I did not say, I will first try to explain myself – because it could well be that I did not make my point clear and X is labouring under a misapprehension – and if they insist on “No, you said what I said you said, not what you said you said”, then I start yelling.

            Which leaves our end back at our beginning, does it not?

        • Jaskologist says:

          There are no private messages here. The only intermediate option between ignoring and reporting (which is a black box, invisible to the reported one) is publicly calling people out. If one wants to establish community norms, that’s pretty much the only option, and being the resident manners scold is part of HBC’s thing.

          Plus, in this case, he was right.

          • bassicallyboss says:

            Agreed on everything you say; it’s just that I was tired last night and I think the phrasing is troublesome. I think there’s an important difference between “X, you are violating community norms, stop that.” (the 2nd person approach) and “Hey everybody, looks like X is violating community norms again” (the 3rd person approach).

            Maybe I just don’t understand communicating online? But offline, the 2nd person approach, while direct, might cause an improvement if the tone is right. The 3rd person approach is good for consensus building, so long as it is done out of X’s hearing; then the community can present X with a united front regarding their behavior. But trying the 3rd person approach right in X’s face seems rude and unlikely to help. It’s hard for me to see how that changes when you take it online.

            As you say, there are no private messages here, so building a consensus in private isn’t possible. But doing it as a direct comment on the post in question seems like throwing it in the person’s face. Maybe it works better as a separate top-level comment? That seems to have its own problems. I don’t really know anymore.

            In any case, the huge argument I feared hasn’t manifested. Everyone in this subthread has been quite civil, and I don’t see any arguments here except the one I’ve managed to start. So I’ll just keep my mouth shut and my critical nose out of places that aren’t broken from now on; it’s clear that I don’t understand the social dynamic here as well as I thought I did. Apologies.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            @Jaskologist: I’m going to assume you got the threading mixed up.

            @bassicallyboss:
            No, I’m with (the original) you on this one. Deiseach wrote a comment which said literally nothing about any commenters here, and HeelBearCub replied with:

            I’m getting the feeling that Deiseach took exactly the wrong lesson from her banning and then unbanning.

            The lesson from the Deiseach ban was that you shouldn’t attack your fellow commenters, including but not limited to telling them you’ll laugh to see them in hell. The Clinton campaign’s still fair game (and the Trump campaign would be, if one could discern anything worthy of the name).

            If HBC wanted to complain about D’s over-the-top schadenfreude, he could have written something like, “Hey, watch the over-the-top schadenfreude; that’s what Tumbler is for.” The way he phrased it is…. what’s the charitable term for “like a giant dick, but not in any good sense of the word”? Oh, right: “less constructive.”

            (Deiseach’s also wrong on the substance of her comment, but that’s fodder for a separate comment.)

  12. Ventrue Capital says:

    Has Scott Alexander already commented on the article “The Myth of Self-Control” and somehow I just missed it?

  13. liskantope says:

    I’m trying to write a blog post where I want to refer to what I call the “is-versus-ought” fallacy, but I’ve tried looking it up and the technical definition is not what I was assuming it was. The “casual” definition of the fallacy which I’ve seen mentioned in comments sections is that someone misinterprets advice or suggestions in the face of the existing environment as an indication that those existing conditions are the way things ought to be. “Is-versus-ought” probably commonly refers to some similar types of misinterpretations as well. Can anyone here point me towards a source for this sense of the is/ought fallacy, or is this simply an uncommon misuse of the terminology?

    • Douglas Knight says:

      There are many is-ought fallacies. I’m not sure which one you mean. Maybe: interpreting the advice “Lock your door or you will be burgled” as failing to condemn burglars? That is too complicated to be the is-ought fallacy. Also, this is a psychological error about the implications of a statement about the mental state of the speaker, rather than a logical error, and I don’t think such things are usually called fallacies.

      • liskantope says:

        I do believe the example you give, while perhaps too specifically complex to be called “the fallacy”, does count as a fallacy. Even if it’s a misinterpretation of the mental state of the speaker, it still originates from the misconception that the “there are burglars where we live” and “there ought to be burglars where we live” are essentially equivalent. At any rate, I was thinking of a slightly more general circumstance where “the world is X” is confused with “the world ought to be X”.

        • Douglas Knight says:

          I’m not sure that’s really what’s going on in my example, but if it’s not your example, it’s not important.

          Sure, the characteristic of the is-ought fallacy is confusing is and ought. If you just want to use the phrase “an is-ought fallacy” to mean that before you explain the specific confusion in your specific example, that sounds pretty reasonable. If I had to choose a specific meaning, I would choose the naturalistic fallacy, but I’d rather not rely on it communicating a precise meaning.

          Do you think such generality is a misuse? Why? Here is the first google hit for it. Does that not cover your use? (Well, this only covers arguing ought from is, not vice versa, but that’s what you want, isn’t it?) Or do you think people use it casually in a very specific manner?

    • Earthly Knight says:

      The “is-ought fallacy”– this is jargon, and you should avoid thinking in jargon where at all possible– can be defined as any attempt to infer a prescriptive conclusion (which will typically contain “ought” or “should”) from a set of purely descriptive premises. Note that this definition is even more general than your original gloss. There are also logically valid arguments which contain this fallacy, e.g.:

      1. The moon is red and it is not the case that the moon is red.

      2. You ought to steal the Hope diamond.

    • FullMeta_Rationalist says:

      I agree with Earthly Knight that the definitive Is-Ought Divide is Hume’s Guillotine. The general idea is that ethics and physics are like oil and water.

      Hume’s Guillotine is most often mentioned when someone deduces normative conclusions from purely descriptive premises. E.g. “Abortion is murder. Therefore, abortion should be illegal.” Someone with different ethics might draw an incompatible conclusion from the same premises.

      Hume’s Guillotine is also sometimes mentioned when someone voices their desires, but refuse to engage with reality pragmatically. E.g. “Everything should be free.” So who’s gonna foot the bill? “I dunno.”

      Based on your description, you’re discussing a related idea that all extent phenomena are morally-just ipso facto. Relevant memes include the Appeal to Nature, the Appeal to Tradition, the Just World Hypothesis, etc. Or maybe none of the above fit. Also. All these terms are fuzzy and interrelated due to semantic drift. So to repeat Earthly Knight again, I’d be explicit to avoid confusion.

    • Tibor says:

      I’m not sure what you mean by the is – ought fallacy exactly, but perhaps this is related.

      Considering rape – in the ideal world, women should be able to go to any place any time without the fear of being raped. But in the real world, going alone to some sketchy neighbourhoods at 3 am is not a very good idea (not even for a man sometimes but especially for a woman). However, some women get pretty annoyed when you say that – they interpret that as something like “it’s your own fault you get raped if you go there in the middle of the night”.

      For some strange reason, this does not work with burglaries. The same neighbourhoods where (mostly) women are in an increased danger of a sexual assault are also usually places where anybody has an increased chance of getting mobbed. If you know that, you should avoid that place. That is not the same as saying hat it is your fault that you were robbed – again, morally the perpetrator is to blame. It does suggest that you deserve a bit less sympathy than someone who got robbed/raped in a place which does not have a reputation for being dangerous (to take it ad absurdum – if you go to a clearly labeled minefield and get blown up, it will be sad and the fault of those who put the mines there, but you were also really stupid and so I will have less sympathy for you than for someone who by a misfortune stumbled upon an unexploded WW2 bomb while doing some construction in his basement and it blew him up)

      Somehow, it seems (to me at least) like people accept that with burglaries (or at least some people do that even in case of murder if people go to dangerous places in dangerous countries) but not in the case of rape. I suppose that is because rape is more emotionally charged than burglary.

      • rlms says:

        Yes. Equally, no-one says “well, it was your own fault you were murdered, you shouldn’t have gone to that sketchy neighbourhood and flashed your wallet around, what did you think was going to happen?!”.

        • Tibor says:

          This is also because it is usually fairly difficult/pointless to talk to the dead. Unless you are very good at science seance.

      • liskantope says:

        Ho boy, this turned to the topic of the rape victim-blaming debate fairly quickly. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Certainly it is an example of the fallacy I’m thinking of, although that fallacy is far more general.

        For some strange reason, this does not work with burglaries.

        To sum up a very complex situation in a nutshell, I would say this roughly comes down to two things. One: there is an anti-rape movement that has become much more prominent in American culture than any anti-burglar movement (arguably rape has been more widespread than burglary in recent decades in the first place). And two: there is a certain existing conservative attitude that anti-rape activists are trying to push back against (“even if she said no with her mouth, she shouldn’t have said yes with her eyes / dress”) that rlms alludes to below.

        • Tibor says:

          I’m not American and I have not talked about this with American women (I actually don’t know any American women personally). But I think it is sort of the similar effect as with other highly politicized things – if something sounds like it could be advocating a position you don’t like, you tend to hear it as an apology for that position. So if you’re a woman and you hear someone say “well, going to a neighbourhood with a well-known reputation for crime at night and alone is something you should not do because you are increasing the risk that you’ll get raped”, you interpret it as “if you do that, then it’s your own fault!”.

          Generally, “You should do X in order to Y” can be often understood as “You should do X”. The first statement is positive, the second is normative, but if it is something politically charged or something you care about emotionally, you might miss the distinction.

        • keranih says:

          (arguably rape has been more widespread than burglary in recent decades in the first place)

          I think this is not correct. The FBI stats report, for 2015, over 1.5 million burglaries. For rape, it was just over 90K. That’s two orders of magnitude difference.

          (This information has the great fortune of matching my personal experience – having my stuff burgled multiple times, but not ever sexually assaulted. And while there is an underreporting problem with rape, it’s not like everyone makes a police report for all theft, either. I surely haven’t.)

          As for the broader point about people blaming the victim – eh. It has been my experience that people do say things like “well, you knew it was going to be like that when you bought the house in that neighborhood” or “you left it unlocked? Seriously?”

          And Peter Moskos talks here (read the comments) about the high false reporting for burglaries.

          • Aapje says:

            I think that people think that rape happens more & that only rape victims get (significant) victim blaming is little more than confirmation bias.

            There is a narrative that people believe and they notice the things that confirm it, but not the counterexamples. If your friend gets burgled, that was just a crime. If your friend tell you he/she was raped, it is interpreted as proof of rape culture.

  14. onyomi says:

    Regarding Russian hacking and “fake news”: so far as I can tell, all the fake stuff originates within the US, and everything Wikileaks has leaked has been real. Is it really bad for our electoral process if foreign sources are telling us true information about our politicians? Donna Brazile wouldn’t have gotten in trouble without Wikileaks, for example, but does anyone think she didn’t deserve to get in trouble? If foreigners are revealing to us how our own politicians are perverting our own process, isn’t that a good thing for our electoral process?

    • Aapje says:

      There are scenario’s where you can be manipulated into making worse decisions with the truth. For example, imagine that candidate A secretly plans to start a nuclear war and candidate B secretly plans to increase your taxes. Both secret plans make a candidate lose to a blank slate candidate, although voters dislike secret plan A more than B.

      A hacker who discovered both these secret plans can choose to make A win by only telling people about the tax increase plan.

      A similar, but weaker scenario is one where the hacker only digs into candidate B, so they will never even discover the secret plans of A.

      • onyomi says:

        I mean, other than “don’t help our opponents win” what would be the position of those currently complaining about Russian hacking and/or Wikileaks?

        Foreigners shouldn’t make information relevant to US elections available to US citizens, even if it’s all true?

        It’s okay for foreigners to make information relevant to US elections available to US citizens, but only if they reveal an equal amount of flattering and unflattering stuff about both parties?

        • Rob K says:

          You’re really eliding the part where the information was stolen! I wonder why?

          • onyomi says:

            Do most media outlets abide by a standard where, if their source came by information through questionable means, they won’t release it, even if it seems important?

            Trump didn’t know he was being recorded on the Access Hollywood bus; isn’t releasing that an invasion of his privacy? I’m not saying it shouldn’t have been released, just that releasing DNC e-mails doesn’t strike me as worse than releasing that tape.

          • Brad says:

            Do all 40,000 or whatever emails “seem important” to you?

          • Rob K says:

            Many have standards in which the importance of the information is weighted against the impropriety of the means of access, yes. Here’s a decent article about it – recent enough to be engaging with the question of hacking, but before this election cycle.

            As mentioned in that article, one of the factors involved is when the leaker of illegally acquired documents appears to be acting for personal or political gain rather than in the public interest.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Brad

            Thats one half of a double-bind. If they release everything, you complain that they released unimportant stuff. If they release selectively, you complain that they’re cherry-picking to make the releases look worse than they are.

          • Cerebral Paul Z. says:

            The pages from Trump’s state tax returns which they NYT published were every bit as stolen. Perhaps we can complain about that for a while, just for a change of pace.

          • Deiseach says:

            Rob K, upthread there’s a discussion if the USA should bring about the overthrow of a sovereign government. Even if that position is held to be acting for the good of the people of that country, and granted that the material was private and was stolen, the US complaining about interference by a foreign government in its elections so as to bring about a regime change favorable to the interests of that foreign government – well, are you surprised this is met with dry “Oh, how shocking. Terrible, absolutely terrible”?

          • tscharf says:

            I object to the Access Hollywood tape unless an equally disturbing video is released about HRC.

            This tape showed up two weeks before the election, and I’m going to say something crazy here…those who released it probably had it before then and timed the release for maximum damage.

            There is nobody demanding an investigation into the source and motives of the Access Hollywood tape. I’m going to say something crazy…they probably wanted to tilt the election to HRC.

            Scandal! Congressional hearings! Nuke the Russians! Cancel the Electoral College vote!

            Or not.

          • onyomi says:

            The pages from Trump’s state tax returns which they NYT published were every bit as stolen. Perhaps we can complain about that for a while, just for a change of pace.

            Yeah, I actually don’t have a firm, principled stance on who should or should not release what information under what circumstances. I agree that people should have some expectation of privacy in their correspondences, even on the internet.

            At the same time, I think private citizens should expect a higher level of privacy than people running for public office, and I can also see an argument that, once in possession of “important” information, however they came by it, a media outlet, should be allowed or maybe even should feel obligated to make it public, if it is crucial to e. g. determining who the best candidate to vote for is (what if you, as a result of digging through his dumpster, find a letter which reveals candidate A is a Manchurian candidate baby killer who plans to get us into a war for profit… do you have a right, maybe even an obligation to reveal this fact?).*

            But I also think people have a right to privacy in what they say when they think they are having a private conversation and don’t realize they’re being recorded, and in the content of their tax returns, as well.

            My point is, simply, if Trump’s stolen tax returns or comments caught on tape when he thought he was having a private convo. are fair game, then I don’t see why e-mails intercepted by Russian intelligence aren’t. And if comments made 10 years ago about how women let me grab them because I’m a celebrity rise to the level of “public needs to know,” I don’t see how “we cheated to make sure we got the nominee we wanted” doesn’t.

            *Edit: Problem is, of course, the subjective judgment about what the public “needs” to know. I’m not sure where the line exactly should be, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t include “former wrestler and reality tv star has embarrassing sex tape.”

          • Rob K says:

            @Deiseach As it happens I’m opposed to the US government overthrowing foreign governments, and have made no reference to the “morality” of foreign intervention, focusing instead on whether things are good or bad for the US electoral process and how we ought to react.

            But…thanks for the drive-by expression of distaste?

        • Saint Fiasco says:

          There was a post on LessWrong about a similar problem about a bunch of boxes some of which contain diamonds:

          Now suppose there is a clever arguer, holding a sheet of paper, and he says to the owners of box A and box B: “Bid for my services, and whoever wins my services, I shall argue that their box contains the diamond, so that the box will receive a higher price.” So the box-owners bid, and box B’s owner bids higher, winning the services of the clever arguer.

          The clever arguer begins to organize his thoughts. First, he writes, “And therefore, box B contains the diamond!” at the bottom of his sheet of paper. Then, at the top of the paper, he writes, “Box B shows a blue stamp,” and beneath it, “Box A is shiny”, and then, “Box B is lighter than box A”, and so on through many signs and portents; yet the clever arguer neglects all those signs which might argue in favor of box A. And then the clever arguer comes to me and recites from his sheet of paper: “Box B shows a blue stamp, and box A is shiny,” and so on, until he reaches: “And therefore, box B contains the diamond.”

          But consider: At the moment when the clever arguer wrote down his conclusion, at the moment he put ink on his sheet of paper, the evidential entanglement of that physical ink with the physical boxes became fixed.

          http://lesswrong.com/lw/js/the_bottom_line/

        • Deiseach says:

          The argument really boils down to “people would have voted for us if they hadn’t read our emails and found out…what…internal… ah crap…”

          I’m not seeing anything (but it could be out there, who knows?) that says the Russian hackers invented any of the things they leaked, so that is the basic complaint: people got to see inside the sausage factory.

          • Brad says:

            Please post your username and password so all of us might read your emails.

          • Spookykou says:

            I do not keep up with the news so I am not sure about the broader talking points but personally the issues as I see them are, internal information was leaked about one campaign in a close election and it might have made enough of a difference to swing the election. A foreign government intentionally leaked this information, possible to generate this exact effect.

            The election result is unfortunate, the implications of a foreign government swinging the results of our election are troubling.

            I assume the main reason people are still talking about the emails is the Russian connection.

            The ‘it’s the truth so who cares’ response from the right is interesting, at first I was confused by it, but then I remembered the post 9/11 right to privacy political landscape, I guess privacy is more of a liberal value?

          • Jaskologist says:

            Do we even have evidence yet that Russia was the source of the leak? Real evidence, not “we have an anonymous source in the CIA who totes says it was.”

          • John Schilling says:

            I do not keep up with the news so I am not sure about the broader talking points but personally the issues as I see them are, internal information was leaked about one campaign in a close election….

            Internal information was leaked about both campaigns in a close election, and we still don’t know whose hackers or spies gave Trump’s old tax returns to the New York Times. Could be Chinese, North Korean, any of several domestic factions, plenty of interested parties. Whoever it was, they got far more media play at the time, almost certainly swung more voters, and as far as I’m concerned nobody who wasn’t complaining then has much credibility complaining now.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Brad
            Hardly equivalent, considering that Deiseach is not a public figure running for office, or someone close to a campaign.

          • Spookykou says:

            I had just assumed that the leaks Trump had were the garden variety, I happen to have this information, so I am going to leak it, kind? Was his tax returns *actually stolen?

            In any case, my primary concern is the connection to Russia, if Russia or China had been behind the Trump leak then I would consider that equally worrying, less so with NK and dramatically less so with some random hacker group. If I had to guess, I think this comes from a fear of how competent and capable the manipulating agent is, in my eyes.

            I don’t watch much news, but I do listen to NPR to and from work, and I was hearing ’19 different intelligence agencies confirmed Russian hackers’ for a long time before this apparently recent report by the CIA, I think it even came up in one of the debates?

            Honestly at this point I am a bit worried that I am missing something obvious. Was there more than one major leak from the democratic side of things this election? I assumed everything in the wiki leaks came from the DNC leak?

            *Edit: By actually stolen I mean intentionally stolen , since I am not sure if it would or would not be theft to leak a private document that you had without consent of the owner of the document. …I am not sure what I mean, maybe somebody else can understand the distinction I am trying to draw here and give me the words needed to describe it?

          • Randy M says:

            Hardly equivalent, considering that Deiseach is not a public figure running for office, or someone close to a campaign.

            Also because the real reason not to give out one’s password is because it can be used for identity theft, not fear of transparency.

          • Brad says:

            @Tekhno
            IIRC Deiseach is some sort of public servant. Why do they deserve privacy when campaign staffers don’t? Or worse still anyone that ever emailed a campaign staffer.

            Somehow I don’t think any of you thought through any principled limits on this one.

          • Controls Freak says:

            Somehow I don’t think any of you thought through any principled limits on this one.

            Pretty much no one does. Honestly, I’d be willing to bet that you don’t, either.

          • Tekhno says:

            @Brad

            IIRC Deiseach is some sort of public servant. Why do they deserve privacy when campaign staffers don’t? Or worse still anyone that ever emailed a campaign staffer.

            If you’re working in the public sector, I think that would make a good cut off point for reduced privacy rights, in proportion with how high up you are. I’ve often argued for progressive regulation for business before, and in a similar vein for progressive justice, or revocation of rights.

            I’ve proposed getting money out of politics before by having senators and so on have to completely give up any wealth and previous assets, and become legally cut off from funding outside of the state. I believe that the job should be absolutely austere, and that servants of the public should be dependent on the public.

            I’m quite cool with civil servants giving up some rights normal citizens have to become part of the machine. Obviously, civil servants are quite low down in the hierarchy, so it’s not as important as for senators or MPs, who are not as important as Presidents or Prime Ministers.

            So you can brush me off as a crazy radical with unworkable ideas, but you can’t say I haven’t put thought into it. Taking aside specific policies, there has to be some kind of hierarchy of responsibility in society, and when it comes to information, we need more access to information on those at the top who purport to rule us. I’m very much in favor of transparent administration on class interest grounds if nothing else.

            If you emailed a campaign staffer and get caught up in an absolutely necessary investigation, then that’s a shame, but I consider it worth it in light of this.

        • beleester says:

          I think “Foreigners shouldn’t deliberately help one particular party win” would be a reasonable and consistent stance. If you hack them both and only find dirt on one, that’s fine, so much the worse for the dirty guy. But if you have dirt on both and release for only one, or if you only go looking for dirt on the guy you hate, that indicates that your goal was to swing the election against that candidate, not to make US citizens better-informed.

          You’re framing this as if Russia just happened to find themselves with a lot of dirt on Clinton and nothing on Trump, and had to decide to release it or not. But the more likely scenario is that it was intentional – either they specifically targeted Clinton in their research, or they targeted both and then released what they found selectively.

          (Actually, WikiLeaks has outright stated that they received leaks about Trump, and didn’t think they were important enough to release. Why should I take their word for it?)

          • onyomi says:

            If Wikileaks did receive leaks about Trump, then that makes it sound less likely Russia was intentionally trying to influence the election one way or another. In such a case it goes back to being Wikileaks’s fault. Or else the dirt on Trump genuinely wasn’t interesting. But most of our US news agencies and media outlets have clear biases and preferences, so I don’t know why a non-US outlet shouldn’t be allowed to.

            More generally, I think “non-US citizens aren’t allowed to influence US elections, even by simply selectively distributing accurate information” is going to be an increasingly impossible and unreasonable standard to hold. The more globalization and communications technology continue to develop (and the more the US government insists on getting involved abroad), the more non-US citizens and government have strong vested interests in particular outcomes of US elections (and, as many have pointed out, it’s kind of ironic in a “shoe on the other foot” sort of way for Americans now to be complaining about foreigners influencing their elections for their own potential benefit), and the more impossible it will be to prevent Americans hearing what they have to say.

          • Incurian says:

            Is there any possible thing that could have been leaked about Trump that would have changed anyone’s mind about him?

          • The Nybbler says:

            Actually, WikiLeaks has outright stated that they received leaks about Trump, and didn’t think they were important enough to release.

            When? The closest I can find is Assange saying

            http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/2200412-julian-assange-of-wikileaks-says-russian-government-wasnt-his-source/

            Assange added that WikiLeaks got information about Donald Trump and the Republican National Committee, but “it was already public somewhere else.”

          • hlynkacg says:

            Is there any possible thing that could have been leaked about Trump that would have changed anyone’s mind about him?

            I can think of a few things. Mostly of the “serious felony” sort. A personal bankruptcy filing in the immediately before the election might have also done the trick.

          • beleester says:

            @Onyomi, are you asking what Russia should do or what they will do? Because you sounded like you were framing this in terms of moral obligation – “Isn’t it a good thing to release this information, because that makes American citizens better informed?” That’s why I gave you an argument that involved moral reasoning – “No, if you act with malicious intent, you aren’t making them better-informed.”

            If all you care about is what’s practical, then the answer’s simple – Russia does whatever the hell they want in cyberspace, because we can’t practically stop them and we won’t escalate over a little bit of spying. We do whatever the hell we want in return, for the same reason. You know, standard international politics.

            @The Nybbler:
            The best I could find is this quote from Assange: http://theweek.com/speedreads/645239/julian-assange-tells-megyn-kelly-why-wikileaks-isnt-releasing-dirt-donald-trump
            “You know, some people have asked us, ‘When will you release information on Donald Trump?'” Assange said later. “And of course we’re very interested in all countries, to reveal the truth about any candidate, so people can understand, but actually it’s really hard for us to release anything worse than what comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth every second day.”

    • Rob K says:

      Seems like this would be okay in proportion to the degree to which the actions revealed are in fact “perverting our own process”, vs the extent to which selective release of stolen private files is itself perverting the process.

      So, e.g. revealing a plan to engage in widespread voter fraud or falsification of results would be kosher, since the harm done by that action would (presumably) be greater than the harm of the theft and release of the information.

      Selectively releasing the internal deliberations of one side in order to negatively frame benign actions or search for unguarded turns of phrase in private communication, on the other hand, would seem like a case where the harm done by an outside actor using its ability to breach private data to influence the outcome of the election in accordance with its aims is by far the greater.

      With those as the extremes, there are grey areas in between, but given that I believe that (1) most organization’s internal communications could be used to make that organization look bad if released and treated as inherently newsworthy by the media and (2) giving outside entities power to influence our elections proportional to their skill at accessing private data and using it to influence our media is bad, I’m inclined to put the tipping point closer to the “revelations of major fraud schemes” side.

    • Brad says:

      Is it really bad for our electoral process if foreign sources are telling us true information about our politicians?

      This seems very similar to Denton’s defenses of Gawker. I don’t recall, what was your position on that?

      • John Schilling says:

        Hulk Hogan was a politician? I did not know that.

        • Brad says:

          Do you know what the word similar means?

          • Aapje says:

            The argument to release the information about Clinton is that it revealed how she acted in her job. The sex tape didn’t do so in any way for HH.

            Also, there is far less benefit to mankind to expose a dishonest wrestler, than to expose a dishonest politician.

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            Sure. I can even use it in a sentence. For example, “A semi-retired wrestler isn’t similar to a Presidential candidate.”

      • onyomi says:

        I didn’t pay much attention to that, but Hulk Hogan wasn’t running for office? Releasing a sex video about a private individual strikes me as very different from releasing campaign related emails from political professionals.

        • Brad says:

          Denton claims that the powerful in society, whether that power is a result of political position, wealth, or fame, should be subject to public scrutiny.

          For myself, I think private communication ought to be private absent some compelling justification. They ought not to be stolen, and if stolen ought not to be published, and if published ought not to be reported on.

          Maybe informing the public about Donna Brazile leaking questions rises to the level of compelling, though I’d tend to lean the other way, but if so just that email could have been leaked.

          Just as we saw with Manning, Wikileaks is an indiscriminate organization. Unless your moral code includes radical transparency (hence the Denton comparison) such indiscriminate publishing is immoral. That immorality extends to their sources.

          • onyomi says:

            So is the problem that they are indiscriminate, or too selective? Below, Chalid says part of the problem is that they were deceptively selective in what they chose to release.

            My understanding is that Wikileaks largely releases big “dumps” of info and leaves others to sort through. Maybe this shows a lack of respect for privacy, but it seems hard to simultaneously claim that they’re too indiscriminate in what true information they reveal and that they are also too partisan/manipulative.

            It seems a bit lose-lose: release everything you have and you’re immoral for not respecting privacy; selectively release only the “important” stuff and you’re putting your finger on the scale.

            I think the main question, though, to me is: is the fact that Wikileaks isn’t an American media outlet relevant?

          • Brad says:

            So is the problem that they are indiscriminate, or too selective? Below, Chalid says part of the problem is that they were deceptively selective in what they chose to release.

            I think that’s with respect to Russia, the putative source, not wikileaks.

            My understanding is that Wikileaks largely releases big “dumps” of info and leaves others to sort through. Maybe this shows a lack of respect for privacy, but it seems hard to simultaneously claim that they’re too indiscriminate in what true information they reveal and that they are also too partisan/manipulative.

            I don’t think I’m simultaneously claiming that. Or anyone is really. As far as I know, no one is claiming that wikileaks had RNC material and didn’t disclose it. As you say, they are about indiscriminate privacy violations — like Gawker. I think that’s immoral.

            I think the main question, though, to me is: is the fact that Wikileaks isn’t an American media outlet relevant?

            No, not with respect to wikileaks, at least in my opinion. But if Russia was the leaker I do think that’s relevant. I’m not sure why you are conflating the two throughout this post.

          • onyomi says:

            Okay, so the primary problem is Russia (assuming they are Wikileaks’s source, which I don’t think has been proven?), not Wikileaks.

            Then, same question: if Russia, by whatever means (and I assume our government is also trying to hack Russian e-mail accounts), is in possession of information relevant to a US election, are they obligated to keep it secret? To reveal it all indiscriminately? To reveal only the “important” stuff, but in a manner designed not to help or hurt either party, on net?

          • Brad says:

            I’m not sure what you mean by primary. As I’ve said, in my opinion wikileaks is an immoral organization.

            Leaving that aside. Russia is a country with its own sovereign interests. I don’t think they acted immorally in hacking the emails — the era of “gentlemen don’t read each other’s letters” is long over. I also don’t think they have an obligation to keep it secret. If they think it is in their national interest, all things considered, to publish then they should publish.

            That said, I’m not Russian and I don’t much care about the Russian national interest. I consider both the hacking and the leaking to be bad from the US perspective and I’d like to see our government, which is supposed to protect our interests, respond so as to make sure the Russian calculation was incorrect as to the Russian national interest.

          • onyomi says:

            I consider both the hacking and the leaking to be bad from the US perspective

            So it was bad for US voters to be provided with true information relevant to their election because the source was foreign?

            I’d like to see our government, which is supposed to protect our interests, respond so as to make sure the Russian calculation was incorrect as to the Russian national interest.

            That sounds very ominous.

          • Brad says:

            So it was bad for US voters to be provided with true information relevant to their election because the source was foreign?

            No, not because the source was foreign. It would have been equally bad if the source was domestic, but then the remedy would have been in the criminal law rather than international diplomacy.

            And I disagree with your framing. I don’t think the information was particularly relevant. At least not enough to outweigh the privacy interests at stake.

            That sounds very ominous.

            I’m not sure what is so ominous about it. If we don’t want countries to do things like this, then we need to make sure they don’t come out ahead.

          • onyomi says:

            “I don’t think the information was particularly relevant.”

            Knowing that the DNC conspired with news organizations to ensure that Hillary, rather than Bernie, was nominated, seems pretty relevant to our electoral process to me.

          • Rob K says:

            @onyomi

            So it was bad for US voters to be provided with true information relevant to their election because the source was foreign?

            My assumption is that even benign leaked information, if treated as newsworthy, is going to be damaging for the side that had its information leaked. As such, this means that an entity that displays the capacity to repeatedly steal information is going to gain power to swing elections if news outlets and the public treat the information as newsworthy and the fact of the leak as neutral.

            That, in turn, would incentivize our political leaders to align their policies with the interests of entities proven to be powerful enough to hack and release internal organizational communications.

            Given that I don’t want, e.g., American politics to become a proxy fight between Russian and Chinese interests, or for certain sets of national interests to become off limits, I prefer a set of public norms about this type of information that make us more suspicious of it, and make news organizations less likely to publish it, or at least to heavily caveat it with references to the unknown motives of the leakers.

          • onyomi says:

            I agree that Americans should be more suspicious of news in general, and, in the future, it is probably a good idea to be suspicious of the motives behind leaks of foreign origin. However, I’m not sure we can establish a firm or even soft “norm” about what gets leaked now that information so easily flows across borders (and that’s mostly a good thing, I think).

            However, I think we also have to evaluate based on the source, foreign or domestic. Based purely on its track record, I trust Wikileaks more than a lot of prominent US news organizations.

          • the anonymouse says:

            That, in turn, would incentivize our political leaders to align their policies with the interests of entities proven to be powerful enough to hack and release internal organizational communications.

            Perhaps. But it also incentivizes our political leaders to be honest and transparent with us, those they putatively serve, so as to avoid embarrassing public-position/private-position revelations. Call me Pollyanna, but I believe this is the more likely—and more desirable!—outcome.

            Sunlight being the best metaphorical disinfectant, and all.

          • Brad says:

            Knowing that the DNC conspired with news organizations to ensure that Hillary, rather than Bernie, was nominated, seems pretty relevant to our electoral process to me.

            That’s quite the spin. It also doesn’t address the point, I’ve made several times about discriminate versus indiscriminate publication.

          • onyomi says:

            Quite the spin?

            Though the degree of intentional media complicity may be debatable, how else do you interpret the Chairperson of the DNC conspiring to sabotage one candidate for her own party’s nomination, or vice-Chairperson of the DNC giving debate questions to one candidate in advance at the same time as she worked for a major network?

            I will say, that reading more about Donna Brazile’s career, I like her a good deal more now that I know she said:

            “Look, I’m a woman, so I like Hillary. I’m black; I like Obama. But I’m also grumpy, so I like John McCain.”

          • Deiseach says:

            Much of the embarrassment seems to stem from the fact that the emails showed campaigners (in both the presidential and the congressional elections) smiling sweetly at the candidates they were supposed to be supporting and saying “Hi, so glad to be working with you!” then behind their back going “That bitch* is such a screw-up, this is so bad for the party if they’re selected”.

            Very embarrassing for the people involved, but if your own campaign don’t think you’re fit to be in charge of a pigsty, why should the people of the state/the nation be lumbered with you simply due to lack of information which the campaign knows but which is not publicly available?

            *Intended as gender-neutral term, not to indicate any particular person; some of the people their campaigns wanted to get shot of were guys.

          • tscharf says:

            It should be noted that if the RNC was hacked and emails released, it would likely show them conspiring to prevent Trump from getting elected.

            This would surprise almost no-one, since they pretty much held this position in clear view.

          • I think it’s worth distinguishing between two questions:

            1. Ideally, what ought the rules about obtaining secret information and releasing it be?

            2. What are the rules, as revealed in what behavior is routinely accepted when done for purposes one approves of?

            Most of the discussion in the thread seems to be on question 1.

            Going to question 2 … . It appears to be generally agreed that the NSA tapped Angela Merkel’s phone. It seems to be generally agreed that the NSA, more generally, is in the business of accessing secret information abroad via the clever use of computer technology. Hence it is hypocritical for the U.S. to object to Russia successfully doing the same thing in the U.S.

            President Obama attempted, perhaps unsuccessfully, to influence the outcome of the Brexit vote in the U.K. Hence it is hypocritical for the U.S. government, in particular Obama, to object to Russia trying to influence the outcome of the presidential election here.

            All that remains is the combination of the two offenses–using information obtained by successful computer intrusion to influence the U.S. election. That seems a pretty weak basis for all the outrage, running up to arguments for reversing the electoral outcome by persuading electors to transfer their votes.

            Back in 2012 someone accessed confidential documents of the Heartland Institute, a think tank critical of global warming policies, apparently by pretending to be a board member and conning someone into sending him the documents. He not only released the information, he released some of it in an edited form to make it look worse. People on the same side as the victims were outraged, but, so far as I could tell at the time, people on his side were mostly gleeful. The leaked information was published by the NYT, Huffington, and others.

            Along similar lines in the opposite direction, the Climategate case involved someone getting at the emails of the Climatic Research Unit and publishing them in order to make the AGW side of the argument look bad. As best I can remember, it was again the case that all the outrage came from the victims’ side.

            Or in other words, it’s mostly a question of whose ox is gored.

          • rlms says:

            @DavidFriedman
            I think it is quite obvious that the sum of the offences is greater than its parts. Specifically, hacking emails in order to generally get more intelligence about a foreign government is very different to hacking them in order to influence an election, much like how stealing a car in order to take your dying husband to hospital is very different to stealing a car to use in a bank robbery. I agree that complaining about a hypothetical Russian hack of some senator’s emails would be hypocritical, as would complaining about Putin endorsing Trump in a manner similar to Obama antiendorsing Brexit (and also that being outraged to the extent of claiming the election’s result is invalid is silly). But it is not hypocritical to be moderately outraged by the allegations, since I would have expected a similar level of outrage if Obama had tried to influence Brexit by hacking Farage’s emails (probably slightly less, since Brexit is less important than the US election).

          • Brad says:

            @DavidFriedman

            Going to question 2 … . It appears to be generally agreed that the NSA tapped Angela Merkel’s phone. It seems to be generally agreed that the NSA, more generally, is in the business of accessing secret information abroad via the clever use of computer technology. Hence it is hypocritical for the U.S. to object to Russia successfully doing the same thing in the U.S.

            President Obama attempted, perhaps unsuccessfully, to influence the outcome of the Brexit vote in the U.K. Hence it is hypocritical for the U.S. government, in particular Obama, to object to Russia trying to influence the outcome of the presidential election here.

            All that remains is the combination of the two offenses–using information obtained by successful computer intrusion to influence the U.S. election. That seems a pretty weak basis for all the outrage, running up to arguments for reversing the electoral outcome by persuading electors to transfer their votes.

            You don’t see any difference between openly campaigning for a foreign candidate or referendum and using your intelligence service to covertly influence an election and then strenuously denying it?

            Or in other words, it’s mostly a question of whose ox is gored.

            Certainly you never miss a chance to gore Clinton’s ox. Wonder what’s going on there.

            @Deiseach

            Very embarrassing for the people involved, but if your own campaign don’t think you’re fit to be in charge of a pigsty, why should the people of the state/the nation be lumbered with you simply due to lack of information which the campaign knows but which is not publicly available?

            When are you publishing all your private correspondence again?

          • Controls Freak says:

            Or in other words, it’s mostly a question of whose ox is gored.

            This is totally true, and it’s really shameful to watch the masses of people go through the ritual of determining who the “good guys” and “bad guys” are before deciding whether a specific hack/leak was “a totally impermissible invasion of privacy” or, uh, not. You gave climate change examples; others gave the example of Trump’s tax return. I remember seeing the original response to the OPM hack. Perhaps I spend too much time in some anti-gov’t portions of reddit, but it started off with, “Good! The government is evil and deserves to be hurt.” Later, there was, “Actually, there are some good people who just work for the government, and they’re going to be hurt by this, too!” Of course, there’s still some amount of sneering about this whenever someone floats an idea that maybe the feds should do something in the digital domain… as if the fact that they do things in the digital domain implies that they deserved the OPM hack.

            Ashley Madison was a great one, too. I saw a lot of, “Good! Cheaters really hurt their spouses,” followed by, “But there are good reasons to use Ashley Madison! There are some good people who will be hurt by this!”

            And don’t even get me started on that weekend that the Panama Papers dropped (before taking a vacation… presumably to some quiet Central American resort). It was really fun seeing everyone try to grapple with their complete ignorance of international tax and corporate law. Some just assumed “The Wealthy”, which is obviously The Bad. Most spun in circles trying to figure out bad guys/good guys before they could pass judgment.

            Hulk Hogan is an interesting example, in that it was more that the leakers were viewed as bad guys… almost precluding any judgment of Hogan, himself (I’m not sure how much of this is at work with the difference between Russia and the unknown-Trump-tax-leaker). He still almost lost public opinion, because the presence of Notable Bad Guy Peter Thiel nearly tainted him to be worse than the other bad guys.

            I’m sure I’m missing tons of examples, but nearly every leak I’ve seen has followed some version of this pattern. The Sony hack was bad, because North Korea is bad. The Yahoo hack is comical and not bad, because nobody you know uses Yahoo and they cooperated with NSA. Pretty much everyone flips on these things.

            Honestly, one of the most amusing things out of this whole ordeal is watching all of these pro-leak folks turn on Wikileaks, now that they can be dumped into Camp Russia. The pro/anti-Wikileaks popcorn has been very buttery.

            Finally, just in case one of you enterprising folks is wrapped up enough in Camp Clinton that you’re preparing a post to defend an anti-leak position in every one of these cases, I have one word for you: Snowden. Start your super consistent anti-leak position there. And no claims of, “I think the NSA was being the bad guy.”

          • “You don’t see any difference between openly campaigning for a foreign candidate or referendum and using your intelligence service to covertly influence an election and then strenuously denying it?”

            Some difference, as I said. But my guess is that the U.S. has routinely done things along those lines for a long time, and probably other countries as well.

            Do you find governments lying about what they do surprising? Unusual? Shocking?

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            He [Hulk Hogan] still almost lost public opinion, because the presence of Notable Bad Guy Peter Thiel nearly tainted him to be worse than the other bad guys.

            Off topic, but I wonder if that’s really true.

            Indeed, the Literally Voldemort contingent in the news media attempted to tar the whole thing with Thiel. But I put it to you that a) the Literally Voldemort contingent were reasoning backwards from their conclusion (Gawker good! Therefore, Gawker’s enemies bad!) and so whoever funded Hogan’s lawsuit would have been designated a hate figure; and b) the news media in this country is widely and roundly despised and ignored, so I’m dubious about their ability to move the needle on a relatively obscure figure like Thiel. Indeed, they might end up creating a backlash in his favor, purely because they expressed their dislike so vehemently.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Controls Freak
            Finally, just in case one of you enterprising folks is wrapped up enough in Camp Clinton that you’re preparing a post to defend an anti-leak position in every one of these cases

            I’m usually pro-leak in the kind of examples you’re using. But … in all this long thread, who is the object of ‘should’? Where’s King Canute when you need him? As soon as y’all agree with each other on who should publish what leaked material and to whom … who is going to enforce this, and how? — Before the Web there was a standard of enforcement and respectable paid news sources to enforce it (at least among themselves). But now, maybe we should be building arcs or surfboards or something.

          • Deiseach says:

            When are you publishing all your private correspondence again?

            Brad, the day I present myself to run as the Third Female President of Ireland and my campaign is to present myself as a flawless saint who has never said or done anything wrong, you are quite free to quote excerpts from my comments on here to tell the public what I am really like.

            You are particularly welcome to do that in a case where those in my party or campaign know I am flawed and unsuitable for the position, but to the public are full of rah-rah enthusiasm about how I am the best possible choice.

            I’m not arguing for indiscriminate dirt-digging, but I am saying that where their own party doesn’t even want them in office, it’s perhaps in the public interest to know this. Their own party dislikes them because they really are going to crack down on corruption and horsetrading? That’s good to know, and the public might have even more confidence in the candidate. Their own party dislikes them because they are just waiting for the next scandal in a string of scandals to come along? That also is good to know.

            Re: the Gawker thing, that was pure prurience and muck-raking. It was done on the basis that sex sells. There was no service to the public in knowing how or in what way Hulk Hogan likes to have sex. Adultery is no longer a crime, and indeed the encounter seems to have been set up with the knowledge and consent of both spouses, so we can’t even say that the husband was being cheated upon. It was a nasty, tacky affair and the selling of the tape was damn close to blackmail on the part of the man. Gawker were not claiming any kind of revelation of shocking depravity or racist attitudes or abuse to his sexual partner or the likes; they put their rationale right up there in the first paragraph before transcribing the contents like they were going for a first draft of their own version of “Fifty Shades of Grey”:

            Because the internet has made it easier for all of us to be shameless voyeurs and deviants, we love to watch famous people have sex. We watch this footage because it’s something we’re not supposed to see (sometimes) but we come away satisfied that when famous people have sex it’s closer to the sex we as civilians have from time to time.

            What the public are interested in is not the same thing as the public interest, as someone surely has said. All that Gawker appealed to was: “Here’s a famous guy having sex, and we’ll write it up for you with a teaser extract of the clip, just like any of those ‘real wives’ videos on porn sites”.

            So yeah, in this case I think they deserved to be sued. They want to be a porn hub, there’s already one in operation. But if so, then be honest that you’re not peddling news, you’re peddling “wanna see giant horsecocks in hot threesome action!” like the other wank sites.

          • Brad says:

            Brad, the day I present myself to run as the Third Female President of Ireland and my campaign is to present myself as a flawless saint who has never said or done anything wrong, you are quite free to quote excerpts from my comments on here to tell the public what I am really like.

            It wasn’t HRC’s private correspondence that was stolen and published.

          • Deiseach says:

            And I never said Hillary’s or anyone else’s private correspondence should be revealed, so I don’t know what point there you originally wanted to make, Brad.

            What I did say was if you assessed your candidate for congress as a bad lot and you didn’t want him in the job and you did all you could to sabotage his campaign so a different candidate would run, and this later gets leaked, then that kind of information is in the public interest – if the public is being asked to vote for Bob and you know Bob is rotten, then if you’re more interested in keeping the party name clean, and someone else leaks that info, they are acting in the public interest and you don’t really have a leg to stand on when complaining about it.

          • Brad says:

            And I never said Hillary’s or anyone else’s private correspondence should be revealed,

            this later gets leaked, then that kind of information is in the public interest … and someone else leaks that info, they are acting in the public interest

            You contradict yourself within the space of a single post. When you say that when someone steals and publishes private correspondence they are acting in the public interest you are saying that someone’s private correspondence should be revealed.

            At least have the decency to own where your obsession with Hillary Clinton has lead you.

          • The original Mr. X says:

            You contradict yourself within the space of a single post. When you say that when someone steals and publishes private correspondence they are acting in the public interest you are saying that someone’s private correspondence should be revealed.

            If “private correspondence” = “correspondence about private matters” (like, say, who you’re having sex with) and “public correspondence” = “correspondence about public matters” (like, say, stuff relating to your candidacy for public office), then there’s no contradiction at all.

          • Brad says:

            Given that the situation under discussion resembles your hypothetical not at all — because the emails that were stolen were not from a candidate for public office and all the emails were published regardless of topicality, I’d say your reading is highly strained at best.

        • John Schilling says:

          Denton claims that the powerful in society

          Hulk Hogan is powerful in society? I did not know that.

          And yes, “similar” I do know. But Hulk Hogan/2012 and Hillary Clinton/2016 are about as different as two people can be and still qualify as newsworthy, if we stretch the definition of “newsworthy” to the limit in Hogan’s case.

      • Jaskologist says:

        I think you will find broad bipartisan support for keeping Hillary’s sex tape under wraps.

        • hlynkacg says:

          Ok that made me chuckle.

        • Deiseach says:

          Jaskologist, I will not say “That is an image I did not need”, because my brain comes to a screeching halt at the words “Hillary” and “sex tape” in conjunction and refuses to go any further, much less provide visual interpretation.

          But this is not a concept I ever needed to contemplate this, or the other, side of the grave.

        • lurking class nero says:

          How many Hillary bashing posts is that for you, Deiseach?

          Its got to be nearing 4-500 at this point.

          I cant wait until the Trump presidency begins.
          That’s when you get to start playing defense.

          Oh, you dont support Trump, you say?

          Ha ha.

          SSCons.

      • Tekhno says:

        @Brad

        This seems very similar to Denton’s defenses of Gawker. I don’t recall, what was your position on that?

        He’s spoke for himself now, but personally, I was for press freedom. I think privacy should generally be a user side issue (on the internet it almost entirely is already; try going to the police about a hacked forum account some time), with pragmatic exceptions for stolen information that concerns finance like credit card numbers and so on. Information on people’s foibles shouldn’t be protected legally merely on the grounds that it is embarrassing or compromising.

        I will take the stance that government officials deserve less privacy than the rest of us, however, and there is a right for the public to know almost everything about the government and the people who are running for office, with pragmatic exceptions like information on troop movements and other classified info.

        • Iain says:

          How did you feel about Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns?

        • Tekhno says:

          Bad. Hasn’t pretty much every President done it? I heard it was unprecedented.

          The other issue is that Presidents are supposed to keep their business interests on freeze, but Trump is trying to get around that. I’m not sure what US law says on that explicitly, but it runs against my personal desire for leaders to be as isolated from outside finance as possible anyway.

          • The Nybbler says:

            US law specifically exempts the President and other elected officials from conflict of interest law. So he could legally continue to run his business while President, though you would think sheer exhaustion would prevent that. He’s said he will remove himself from operations, though I’m not sure he hasn’t said the opposite since.

            He’s almost certainly not going to sell off his shares of the Trump Organization, and it will be impossible as President for him to avoid doing things which affect the fortunes of that organization, so conflict is inevitable. Even if he gave up all ownership interest, he’d almost certainly give it up to his family, which would still result in a conflict of interest.

    • the anonymouse says:

      It’s a playground-level reaction. Every savvy kid knows that when you get tattled on, you don’t dispute the charge (after all, the tattler could have proof of the allegation he hasn’t disclosed), but rather you collaterally attack the tattler for violating a social norm.

      • Brad says:

        Aren’t you banned?

        • the anonymouse says:

          No, not at all. Perhaps you are thinking of someone with a similar anonymous-pun name? I have been “the anonymouse” for my entire tenure at SSC, but admittedly, I haven’t posted much in the last year.

        • Brad says:

          @NIP
          It appears you have some talent with MS Paint. Unfortunately your message is gibberish. Probably some moronic 4chan thing. Feel free to never respond to me again.

          • NIP says:

            Allow me to translate:

            “Not an argument.”

            Your reply to anonymouse was not an argument. It was, instead, your typical brand of dismissive obtuseness whenever you’re confronted with a line of thinking that makes you uncomfortable. Such low-content replies are only deserving of moronic 4chan gibberish.

            >Feel free to never respond to me again.

            Oh Brad-senpai, where I come from, that means we’re friends now.

          • hlynkacg says:

            @ NIP
            This is the post you should have written the first time around.

            It’s not that I don’t enjoy a dank meme or one liner, (I do) it just isn’t what I come to SSC for.

          • Scott Alexander says:

            Pre-ban warning for everyone involved in this conversation

          • the anonymouse says:

            Heeded. 🙂

          • hlynkacg says:

            Understood

          • NIP says:

            @Scott

            Oh, you’re no fun. But I respect the rules of your house. If you don’t want me going around making people’s monocle’s pop, then I won’t do it, no matter how tempting.

            @hlynkacg

            You’re probably right. Conversation can be catty enough around here without maymays flying fast and furious. Though I was honestly kind of curious as to whether I’d get any in response. Apparently my hopes were misplaced 🙁

      • The Nybbler says:

        The Democrats (I believe Brazile in particular) did try to dispute the veracity of the emails once or twice. Then someone discovered the DKIM signatures (which mean that altering them would have required access to some high-value private keys, including Google’s), and that was the end of that.

        • the anonymouse says:

          I claim no expertise in the verification of emails, but disputing the veracity of something you know is true–presumably, hoping it can’t be proven and you can skate–also speaks to one’s character.

      • Spookykou says:

        As a savvy kid I found denial to be a dramatically better tactic in almost all situations, children basically never have proof of anything, and I had good grades and was well liked by the teachers.

    • Chalid says:

      The problem is that the leaks are being read and interpreted uncritically.

      I think we know that if you take any large organization and selectively leak that organization’s emails with an eye to making them look bad, then you’ll able to succeed in making them look bad. There are always going to be things that people say in “private” that will look immensely embarrassing when released to a wider audience.

      So is it *news* that John Podesta might have said unflattering things about other people in private? Probably not, and it shouldn’t be breathlessly reported as such.

      So the problem is really a failure of rationality – when we read these emails we mostly think “this looks bad” and stop there. But we should be asking “does this look worse than I’d expect a selective hostile release of emails to look?” and most of us do not think about that question at all. (And even if you do think about the second question, few of us are good enough rationalists to actually override our first gut-level “this looks bad” reaction.)

      It doesn’t help that, in general, the news media encourages the first type of thinking because it is more sensational.

      • onyomi says:

        But all media outlets must be selective about what they release and the problem of voters being bad at interpreting that is also universal. Moreover, Wikileaks seems unusually unselective in what they release, releasing big “dumps” of info and leaving it to others to sort through.

        But does the fact that they are a foreign organization make a difference?

      • Deiseach says:

        So is it *news* that John Podesta might have said unflattering things about other people in private? Probably not, and it shouldn’t be breathlessly reported as such.

        Seeing as how Mr Podesta and others are presenting to the public people they say “Joe Schmoe is a sterling citizen and I’m both proud and excited that he has chosen to work for us, with Joe on the team you the great American public can be assured that the forests will flourish, there will be a chicken in every pot, and no child will be judged on the bathroom their self-identity chooses to use”, then between themselves it’s “Ugh, can you believe we got stuck with Schmoe? Of all the losers out there, why did they pick him? Whose blackmail photos does he have in his possession?”, then it is (for once) in the public interest to know these things.

        Okay, I’ll admit the breathlessly gossipy exchanges between that artist and the Podesta brothers about attending her little soirée were not politically pertinent, but they were damn amusing, and if the people can’t get to laugh at the movers and shakers forming their destinies, it’s a poor look-out 🙂

        • Chalid says:

          It’s arguably important if you’re Joe Schmoe. It’s not important otherwise. Every organization will have (and *ought to have*) some disconnect between what they say publicly and what they say internally. Acting as if that fact is news, or is scandalous, is ridiculous.

          You work on arranging government benefits for people who need them, right? Surely you’ve said unpleasant things about some of those people in private. Would it be in anyone’s interest to release that information?

          • Various people are worried that the ability of the Russians to access secret information and release it selectively gives them leverage over American politics. The obvious solution is not less intrusion but more. It isn’t as if the techniques used are restricted to the Great Powers of the world.

            Countries, individuals, factions, are all players in the game. If there are enough of them, the combined effect should be equal openness for all. That, presumably, is the Wikileaks objective.

          • Brad says:

            Countries, individuals, factions, are all players in the game. If there are enough of them, the combined effect should be equal openness for all. That, presumably, is the Wikileaks objective..

            Is there’s no such thing as privacy in the glorious anarchist future?

          • Spookykou says:

            Brad, most people in ancapistan(like most people in america) have little to worry about in terms of privacy, but if you are concerned about your privacy, I am sure Lifelock and their competitors will offer you some great deals on their various privacy protection/home security/fraud protection bundles.

          • Chalid says:

            Have you ever worked in a large organization? You need to be able to talk frankly and honestly with your colleagues. That includes occasionally saying things like “this client is a huge asshole so make sure that the people we send to meet him are prepared for being shouted at” or “these customers are pretty ignorant, so when you meet them be sure to carefully go over the basics” – the sorts of things which would be very destructive to the relationship were they to become public.

            And of course there are a whole bunch of other categories where secrecy is necessary – for example, negotiating positions or intellectual property/research results or personal employee information.

            Full transparency might solve the hacking problem but would hurt organizational performance as a whole.

          • nyccine says:

            I guarantee you if the hiring committee made a show of having public competition for a job opening, and it was revealed that they had actually conspired to promote a favored candidate, heads would roll.

            It’s like you’re not even trying to grapple with what actually happened, preferring to discuss hypotheticals that paint your side much more favorably than reality does.

          • LHN says:

            While I grew up in the era of privacy and think it’s worth effort to guard on the personal and organizational level, I increasingly suspect the long run it’s no longer a sustainable equilibrium for anyone whose affairs are of interest.

            It seems pretty clear at this point that no amount of leak-fueled scandal is going to get most people (outside a small subset of highly disciplined organizations) to adopt serious (but inconvenient) security procedures– and that this is most difficult to apply at the top.

            It at least seems as if there are only so many times they can get blindsided by information releases before it becomes clear that it’s not a question of whether but when.

            That organizations might be better off with some secure secrets may matter no more than the fact that dinosaurs would be better off without an asteroid hitting the planet. Survival may depend on ability to adapt to what is, rather than regretting what’s been lost.

            (I don’t expect to be comfortable in that world, but I wouldn’t have been comfortable living as part of an extended family in a longhouse with no internal walls either. Humans have probably lived without appreciable privacy more often than they’ve had that luxury.)

          • John Schilling says:

            Have you ever worked in a large organization? You need to be able to talk frankly and honestly with your colleagues. That includes occasionally saying things like “this client is a huge asshole so make sure that the people we send to meet him are prepared for being shouted at” or “these customers are pretty ignorant, so when you meet them be sure to carefully go over the basics”

            I work in a large organization that is perfectly comfortable saying that some conversations don’t happen unless e.g. everyone in the room has left their smartphone outside.

            I have no problem saying that anyone who finds this to be an insurmountable problem, shouldn’t be trusted with high-level political power in the 21st century.

          • Loquat says:

            Have you ever worked in a large organization? You need to be able to talk frankly and honestly with your colleagues. That includes occasionally saying things like “this client is a huge asshole…

            I work for a multinational corporation, and we have specific training telling us not to talk like that anytime we’re leaving a record. IIRC the stated reason was more to do with legal discovery than with hacking, but there was a clear message that we should never write (or say on a recorded phone line) anything that would embarrass the company if it happened to be revealed in the course of a lawsuit.

          • Controls Freak says:

            I guarantee you if the hiring committee made a show of having public competition for a job opening, and it was revealed that they had actually conspired to promote a favored candidate, heads would roll.

            This is actually exactly how the government rolls (without the heads). I had a job position created specifically with the intent to bring me on. They said, “We have to get you through the competitive process, and personnel is a black box, so we might not even get to see your CV.” Sure enough, I didn’t make it through personnel (I learned later that you should actually just lie to personnel, because they don’t even bother checking whether you tell the truth). So, they just didn’t hire anyone on the competitive announcement and went through a more arduous process to bring me on without a competitive announcement.

          • hlynkacg says:

            I have no problem saying that anyone who finds this to be an insurmountable problem, shouldn’t be trusted with high-level political power in the 21st century.

            In addition to what Loquat said, this is the thing that really gets me.

            If you can’t even follow the most basic of information security procedures like “Don’t discuss X on an open line” you aren’t qualified for the job.

          • Deiseach says:

            It’s arguably important if you’re Joe Schmoe. It’s not important otherwise.

            It may be embarrassing and hurtful for Joe Schmoe. It’s even more hurtful for the public if, six months down the line, Schmoe gets caught in bed with an underage hooker, flown in from South America on the public purse, and the incompetence, corruption and incapacity to do his job has meant that the service he was supposed to provide has not been provided, and the political insiders knew all this about him at the time they were urging him on the public as their representative.

            As you may or may not know from some of the anecdotes I’ve relayed on here, certainly there are unpleasant facts about some of our clients. We would certainly release that information to the appropriate bodies if we had (a) sufficient proof (b) our legal advisors permitted us. Sometimes there are quite shocking circumstances that we can do nothing about because it’s all second-hand information, or the informants are too afraid to agree to go to the police and support the complaint.

            There are personal and confidential facts about people’s lives and circumstances and misfortunes that we learn in the course of doing the job which are of no concern to anyone but the person involved. Other times there are things such as “This client was verbally and physically aggressive when they came in for interview, just to let you know not to go alone into the interview room with him” which we tell other members of staff here or in our city office, which of course we would not relate publicly – unless it became a public matter, e.g. if we made a formal complaint to the police over that client breaking a door or threatening a staff member.

            That is a different matter to “I know the new Head of Section is transferring money from the budget to a vanity project which will profit his brother-in-law’s construction company who got the job by the new Head fiddling with the tender process, which is why the commercial property rates have been increased in order to cover the shortfall, but as long as you and me and Bill in the office know this, the public – including the businesses paying the increased rates – don’t have any reason to be told”.

          • Chalid says:

            I work for a multinational corporation, and we have specific training telling us not to talk like that anytime we’re leaving a record. IIRC the stated reason was more to do with legal discovery than with hacking,

            I received the same training back when I was at a big corporation. And the result, at least if you look at the banking industry, the result is that a) it is in fact pretty inconvenient, and b) people write emails like that anyway. For publicly available examples, look at how the SEC always manages to dig up and publish comically terrible quotes when it brings an action against a company.

            And, at least in banking, the training mostly extends to “don’t call clients muppets on email” or “if you’re doing something that might look unethical if looked at the wrong way, use the phone.” If you look at everything which, if released by hostile hackers, would be damaging to the organization, it’s a huge part of the ordinary course of business. Negotiating positions. Employee performance and promotion. Code. Trading strategies. Private and confidential information about clients. Work on mergers that need to stay secret until they are complete. ALL of these are discussed in email.

          • John Schilling says:

            I received the same training back when I was at a big corporation. And the result, at least if you look at the banking industry, the result is that a) it is in fact pretty inconvenient, and b) people write emails like that anyway.

            Didn’t we learn about eight years ago that the banking industry is not actually run by the sort of cautious, risk-averse people we want to have wielding great power in our society?

            For publicly available examples, look at how the SEC always manages to dig up and publish comically terrible quotes when it brings an action against a company.

            There are other corporate and institutional cultures, from which we can reseed any niches left fallow by people who couldn’t tolerate necessary inconveniences. Think of it as evolution in action, though the SEC might constitute Unnatural Selection.

          • tscharf says:

            And, at least in banking, the training mostly extends to “don’t call clients muppets on email” or “if you’re doing something that might look unethical if looked at the wrong way, use the phone.”

            This can backfire. I was talking to my wife’s 401K provider and querying why index fund fees were so high when I can buy them on the open market way cheaper (off topic…I understand they have extra reporting costs but the fees were excessive).

            Anyhow the agent absolutely refused to have the conversation on email, it was obvious this was his training. I wanted to use email so I can copy/paste stuff, time shifting, etc. Now to me this puts up red flags that he is unwilling to say anything on the record and that seems suspicious.

            I imagine it is the new legal liability laws brokers are under that has made them ultra-paranoid.

          • Chalid says:

            There are other corporate and institutional cultures, from which we can reseed any niches left fallow by people who couldn’t tolerate necessary inconveniences. Think of it as evolution in action, though the SEC might constitute Unnatural Selection.

            I get that you’re very careful about national security information, and good on you for that. But I notice that you are not, in fact, telling me that you live in a company where your negotiating positions, discussions about deals with suppliers and customers, employee performance discussions, etc. all take place exclusively offline.

            Imagine you’re telling a subordinate to go buy some electronics from a vendor. You tell him that your company will be happy to pay the full list price of $30/part, because the parts are absolutely essential for the project and the competitors’ $25 versions don’t quite meet your needs. But he should try to see if he can convince your vendor to give you a discount by pointing to the competitors’ parts.

            If hostile hackers released this information you’d never get a discount from this company.

            Do you agree that this is

            a) an appropriate sort of conversation for a business to have internally?
            b) a conversation which would be damaging to the company if released?
            c) the sort of conversation that even the most careful companies would not be shy about putting in email?

        • Trofim_Lysenko says:

          On the one hand, I think it is very useful for organization to have some disconnect between what is said publically and what is said internally.

          On the other hand, I believe in systematically stripping government organizations of that ability outside of very strictly defined limits (national/operational security and negotiating advantage with other states, for example), and combining that with criminalizing (not merely making it a violation of best practice, but a go-directly-to-jail offense) using alternative communication channels for work-related communications.

          I’m perfectly fine with the idea of public servants having about the same expectation of privacy in their workplace and work-related activities vis a vis the American public as I had as an E-2 in the Barracks vis a vis my NCOs (i.e. None. They could, and did, enter unannounced at any time for any or no reason, search my belongings, toss my room, etc).

          And for much the same reason.

          I’d argue that if we had an expectation of transparency except where merited (security/diplomatic reasons, for example), and with those exceptions subject to strictly enforced timed disclosure rules, it would undermine a lot of the perceived legitimacy of various hackers. We actually DO have some laws that aspire towards this, but they don’t work particularly well and they are generally spottily enforced and/or depend on prodding and attention from outside actors to work.

          If you have a good mechanism for keeping the public informed, it strengthens your hand when you want to crack down on people trying to argue that they’re doing what you won’t vis a vis the public’s right to know.

      • tscharf says:

        This was the take before the election, nothing to see here, and it was pretty much unscandalous scandal for the primary US vote. It was important inside the DNC and took Wasserman down rightfully.

        After the vote the postmortems didn’t mention this as a factor at all, but now the DNC wants to halt the Electoral College vote because of their own unscandalous emails and security incompetence.

        Color me unimpressed with this line of thinking.

        • Chalid says:

          now the DNC wants to halt the Electoral College vote

          no it doesn’t.

        • hlynkacg says:

          now the DNC wants to halt the Electoral College vote

          Source?

        • tscharf says:

          I am referring to Podesta backing the call for intelligence briefings (which would delay the vote, security clearances, blah blah blah). The wording could have been more precise.

          http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/clinton-campaign-backs-call-for-intelligence-briefing-before-electoral-college-vote-232512

        • Deiseach says:

          I thought that SNL sketch about Hillary calling to the home of an elector was simply satirical comedy, but apparently no, they really have targeted the electors with video messages from celebs?

          About all that’s left now is grabbing onto the electors’ trouserlegs while crumpled in a sobbing heap and wailing “But she was supposed to be our first female president! We had the fireworks barge and everything ready!”

          • John Schilling says:

            We had the fireworks barge and everything ready!

            Wait, that was a thing? And it was in the public record before election day?

            OK, my respect for Trump’s alleged deal-making skills has taken (another) dive, that he wasn’t able to buy that barge for ten cents on the dollar at about 9 PM on the 8th and have it towed over to his celebration.

          • gbdub says:

            Didn’t Trump claim that he at least made that offer?

          • Jaskologist says:

            He says he did. For five cents on the dollar, not ten.

            Consider your faith in Trump as both a deal-maker and a master troll restored.

          • Randy M says:

            You are being too generous. A master deal maker has to actually close the deals.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @Randy M

            True, but you can’t really conclude much from one deal. Even a master deal-maker doesn’t make every deal. There’s probably even some ideal percentage of deals a person has to be seen to walk away from to improve their chances in the others.

          • bean says:

            I suspect the problem would be legal. You couldn’t get the permits changed on such short notice, and asking the various authorities for permission to tow a loaded barge through a heavily-traveled river is something I’d only like to see from a great distance.
            That said, the article makes me somewhat annoyed. The FD is obviously going to be asked to support a fireworks display. The fact that Clinton is the one doing the display is irrelevant.
            (I’m not sure what the exact permits she was using were. I assume there’s a special category for things like sport victories which allow you to shoot them at a variety of times.)
            Also, I should point that the display was only supposed to last two minutes, which isn’t very long at all, and implies that the shoot wasn’t very big. Having some nice stuff to do when you declare victory is par for the course. 2 minutes of pyro, unless you try to replicate this, is pretty small potatoes.

          • Deiseach says:

            I imagine Hillary was in such an incandescence of fury about her loss that she would have cut the throat of her grand-daughter on live television before she even entertained the idea of responding to Trump’s offer, so even if he made it, it would have gone nowhere.

            As bean says, the boring truth is probably that by the time the awful truth sunk in, it was too late and too much trouble to try and move the barge to the real victory party 🙂

            Anyway, forget the barge, the part I really loved was deliberately hiring the venue with the big glass ceiling for symbolic value. See, this is why bringing back the Classics is a good idea – every Greek tragedy would have taught her about hubris and what happens when you make big, splashy, symbolic gestures that tempt Fate 🙂

            Hillary Clinton’s campaign announced the location of her election night party and the symbolism has us all nodding our heads in hell-yeah nasty woman solidarity. In invitations sent to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, it was announced that Hillary, her family, and her supporters will be spending the night she presumably becomes the 45th president of the United States under, wait for it…an actual glass ceiling.

            While the event details haven’t been revealed, it is clear that she will be hosting her victory party at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. The convention center, built in 1986, is made almost entirely of glass and could not be a more perfect venue to celebrate the victory of the woman who is about to shatter the ultimate glass ceiling: becoming the first female president of the United States. Madam President! Has a nice ring to it, huh?

            Annnnd that’s when Nemesis strapped on her sandals and looked up your address on her GPS, Hillary 🙂

          • bean says:

            On farther investigation, they were apparently planning to use 10″ shells. I withdraw my earlier statement that a 2-minute display is likely to be pretty small. 10″ shells are not cheap, and using them means you’re putting on a pretty big show. (The reported $7 million budget seems way too high. That would probably put it in the top 5 displays in the country for 2016, and while it is physically possible to shoot that much in 2 minutes, it’s going to look like the Big Bay Boom, 2012.)
            Context: For legal reasons, the biggest shells in a medium-sized show are rarely over 8″. The problem is that fireworks over 8″ are classified as shipping category 1.1G instead of 1.3G. There’s only one port in the country that can take 1.1 explosives, and it’s in Louisiana. Oh, and you can’t ship 1.1 through the Panama Canal, either. So it’s basically impossible to import stuff above 8″ from China, where 95+% of the fireworks you see come from. Anything you see above 8″ is produced domestically, because it’s not actually that hard to move 1.1 within the country, but American fireworks are a lot more expensive than Chinese fireworks. Normally a show using 10″ shells is going to last a lot more than 2 minutes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the type of show Hillary was doing had that as the time limit.

          • bean says:

            Annnnd that’s when Nemesis strapped on her sandals and looked up your address on her GPS, Hillary

            She’s lucky she lost, I think. If she’d won, I suspect that the barge would have exploded (yes, it happens from time to time) and that glass ceiling would have broken for real.

          • Deiseach says:

            If she’d won, I suspect that the barge would have exploded

            bean, are you telling me…

            RUSSIANS HACKED THE VICTORY BARGE TO ASSASSINATE HILLARY BEFORE SHE COULD BE INAUGURATED???

            Come on, this is too glorious an addition to the conspiracy to let such a tantalising detail be debunked by the cold pitiless light of fact 😉

          • bean says:

            RUSSIANS HACKED THE VICTORY BARGE TO ASSASSINATE HILLARY BEFORE SHE COULD BE INAUGURATED???

            Uhh….
            Well, that would explain what happened in San Diego in 2012, which was frankly incredible according to the explanation I got.
            (They also would have had to physically sabotage the barge, or at least the racks/sandboxes on the barge.)

            Come on, this is too glorious an addition to the conspiracy to let such a tantalising detail be debunked by the cold pitiless light of fact ?

            I was just thinking that Nemesis was merciful and allowed her to lose instead of killing her in a freak fireworks accident with lots of extra irony. But your version is definitely better.

    • Randy M says:

      As an aside, I dislike the phrasing that’s going around “hacking our election”; in popular parlance hacking is seen as accessing some technological device to change it’s function, and hacking the election very strongly implies something like manipulating voting devices or the tabulated results, when the crime was more in the order of “selectively leaking information stolen from a political organization in an attempt to covertly persuade people.”

      The difference being that I think if the former were done that should immediately invalidate the results, but not if the latter were done. In no election do voters have entirely true or rational beliefs in their heads, so one can’t draw a line when some portion of those beliefs are there due to foreign sources, and thus the results should stand as they accurately reflect the will of the electorate at the time of the election.

      • hlynkacg says:

        I feel like there are two claims here that are being purposely conflated…

        A) That the Russians (or someone else with a bone to pick with Clinton and the DNC) obtained some unflattering but otherwise genuine material, including evidence of corruption, and decided to release it in a manner designed to cause maximum embarrassment to the DNC, and undermine Clinton’s electoral chances.

        B) That Putin actively colluded with the Trump campaign to “hack” the election by using Russian assets to sabotage the DNC, alter ballots, and spread pro-Trump propaganda.

        ‘A’ strikes me as being highly plausible, even probable. That said, our government routinely uses “strategic leaks” to influence current events so it’d be kind of hypocritical
        of us to treat that as Casus Belli. After all, spies goanna spy, and turn-about is fair play.

        ‘B’ if true, would be a legit reason IMO to call a mulligan on the whole election and perhaps send a harshly worded note to the Kremlin taped to a very large bomb. However, all the evidence thus far has been in the form of “A is probably true therefore B must be true” and I find that only slightly more convincing than the whole “pizzagate” thing.

        • Randy M says:

          sabotage the DNC, alter ballots, and spread pro-Trump propaganda

          Even here though I think you are conflating dissimilar acts. “Altering ballots” means the actual vote was a farce; spreading Pro-Trump propaganda means doing nothing more than what any other citizen–or, heck, non-citizen–is entitled to do. (Although with possible violation of election laws depending on the level of coordination and spending involved)

          Sabotaging the DNC covers a wide range of actions that all should be stopped but of varying severity. I am sure that having elections retain credibility means such things do not happen regularly or without punishment; I’m not sure if they can be mitigated after the fact without causing more damage. That is, would power being cut to a phone bank in FL on for a couple days before the election invalidate the entire vote in and of itself? Would it be worth an unprecidented re-vote? I doubt it, but if such things happened regularly it would of course undermine the republic.

          • John Schilling says:

            I am sure that having elections retain credibility means such things do not happen regularly or without punishment

            I do not believe that this is a realistic expectation. The sort of hacking we are talking about is too easy to do, too hard to detect, too easy to deny, and not nearly hard enough to falsely attribute to a third party. And the sort of hackers we are talking about, mostly work for foreign regimes that don’t care about our norms or our angry words and can mount a nuclear-grade defense against any material retaliation, or for criminal enterprises that care even less and cannot be pinned down in any targetable sense. They benefit simply from casting doubt on the legitimacy of our elections, and we can’t realistically punish them for it.

            We can, plausibly, demand that our country be run by people smart enough not to hand over their password to anyone who sends them an “I’m from the IT department and I’m here to help” email, and disciplined enough to leave their phones in the lockboxes outside the hall before they talk about the 47% or the deplorables or whatever.

          • tscharf says:

            I may be wrong, but I don’t think there is an ability to revote. Electoral college change, impeachment, etc may be paths. But a new vote based on new rules made up after the election? What could go wrong?

          • Randy M says:

            @ John

            I do not believe that this is a realistic expectation. The sort of hacking we are talking about is too easy to do

            Sorry, in that particular quote you responded to I was referring to the broader category of “sabotaging the DNC” and had in mind things like intimidating staffers, Watergate type stuff, etc., things I haven’t seen alleged to have happened but what comes to mind when I see the phrase hlynkacg used in B above.

            I agree with you that IT security is always going to be imperfect, but what I was trying to say was that if the public felt that one particular political party was subject to recurring intimidation or undermining, it would be a bad thing and require some sort of response, even though I don’t know the proper response to an isolated incident but think demanding the vote be seen as invalidated would be too much of one.

          • Brad says:

            If we covertly assassinated a Russian or Chinese hacker there would no doubt be some sort of serious retaliation but a nuclear bomb seems highly far-fetched.

          • John Schilling says:

            A conventional bomb or missile “accidentally” hitting one of our embassies somewhere seems rather less far-fetched, and harder for us to complain about. The nukes are to keep us from retaliating for that.

            Or they could just stick to retaliatory assassinations; that’s not a game we are likely to win against an ex-KGB colonel serving as head of state for the nation that still has all the KGB’s assassins on staff.

          • The Nybbler says:

            I would hope that if we covertly assassinated a Russian hacker we’d at least have the sense to pin it on domestic enemies or the Chinese or maybe the Israelis. What’s the point in being a sinister intelligence agency if you can’t engage in false-flagging?

            (and I don’t buy the “accidental” bombing of the Chinese embassy either)

          • sweetcandyskulls says:

            @John Ankara, your move Russia.

          • tscharf says:

            Iranian nuclear scientists were assassinated, so there is precedent for this type of action. This wouldn’t be a great loss for the Russian regime, so it may not be useful here.

          • Deiseach says:

            Or they could just stick to retaliatory assassinations; that’s not a game we are likely to win against an ex-KGB colonel serving as head of state for the nation that still has all the KGB’s assassins on staff.

            The Russian ambassador to Turkey has just been killed, so talking about political assassinations is a bit close to the bone right now.

        • onyomi says:

          My impression is that, more than those two claims, it feels to me like some are hoping to conflate the following*:

          1. Russians gave illicitly obtained info to Wikileaks, which helped swing the election for Trump.

          +

          2. Various news outlets spread “fake” news about Hillary with no basis in reality, helping to swing the election for Trump.

          =

          3. Russia swung our election in favor of Trump with fake news.

          My point being, if Russia did help Trump, they did it with real news. Whether that was a good thing, of course, is another matter, but I think this conflation works to the advantage of those looking to retaliate against Russia and/or clamp down on media here because “foreign government interfered in our election with disinformation” sounds a lot more sinister than “foreign government interfered in our election with accurate information” and/or “domestic news outlets sometimes make stuff up.”

          *(I haven’t heard anyone seriously claim Russians e. g. rigged our voting machines, though maybe some are subtly implying that)

          • gbdub says:

            Even your “1” assumes that the Russians were trying to help Trump, as opposed to simply sowing maximum discord. Supposedly they also attempted to hack the RNC, but either failed or didn’t find anything they wanted to release. If it’s the former, it could well be that they wanted to discredit both candidates but only managed to get the dirt on Hillary’s side.

            EDIT: In hlynkacg’s original post there’s actually another possibility – that Russia was intentionally helping Trump, but Trump had no knowledge of this or coordination. “Trump colluded with the Russians to steal the election” is the weakest / least supported leap (but would obviously be the most damning if true).

            “Russia wanted to help Trump via leaks of hacked emails” kind of relies on assuming that they had potentially damaging info on Trump and chose not to release it. But “failed to get damaging info despite trying” seems at least as plausible, if not more likely. Hell, at this point, how do we even know that what we have from the DNC is the worst the Russians found? Maybe they kept a juicy reserve for blackmail (of either candidate) and just released a teaser to prove they could?

          • sweetcandyskulls says:

            “Russia wanted to help Trump via leaks of hacked emails” kind of relies on assuming that they had potentially damaging info on Trump and chose not to release it.

            What?

            Also, onyomi’s “1” makes no assumptions about Russian intentions.

          • gbdub says:

            You’re right, onyomi made no explicit statement re: Russia’s intentions so I wasn’t fair to onyomi. But that does seem to be the form the argument is taking in the wild, that Russia was deliberately attempting to help Trump win.

            We apparently have evidence that Russians at least attempted to hack RNC accounts. For DNC email hacking alone to prove that Russia’s goal was to help Trump, one has to assume that these attacks on the RNC were intended to help Trump – which seems weird.

            Either they failed to penetrate the RNC, succeeded but found no juicy dirt, or they succeeded and found dirt and chose not to release it. Either of the first two leave open the possibility that they wanted to discredit Trump as well, but failed.

          • Deiseach says:

            Either they failed to penetrate the RNC, succeeded but found no juicy dirt, or they succeeded and found dirt and chose not to release it.

            If the RNC had good, solid dirt on Trump I think they would have used it, because unless we think they really, really wanted Trump as their candidate, why wouldn’t they? And unless we think they were all lying all along in an elaborate bluff by running all those other candidates and having top party members refusing to endorse Trump, it sure looked like they didn’t want him as their candidate.

            So it could be the Russians either were not able to hack the RNC or did hack them but found nothing new on Trump that wasn’t already out there re: tax, not paying his contractors, being crude and lascivious around women, etc.

          • tscharf says:

            This most shocking thing possible in a RNC email would be them secretly conspiring to support and elect Trump.

      • The original Mr. X says:

        As an aside, I dislike the phrasing that’s going around “hacking our election”; in popular parlance hacking is seen as accessing some technological device to change it’s function, and hacking the election very strongly implies something like manipulating voting devices or the tabulated results, when the crime was more in the order of “selectively leaking information stolen from a political organization in an attempt to covertly persuade people.”

        Yeah, I mean, if publishing or withholding information to influence an election counts as election-hacking, then I guess Scott’s decision not to publish “You’re Still Crying Wolf” until after November 8 means that he’s now an election-hacker.

        • sweetcandyskulls says:

          I always suspected Scott stole that essay from the Kremlin propaganda arm!

        • On the subject of hacking an election …

          I seem to remember claims that, during one of Obama’s elections, the software used by the Republicans for coordinating their election day efforts didn’t work and it was suspected that it had been deliberately sabotaged by someone on the other side.

          Does anyone remember the details and whether there was actual evidence?

          • The Nybbler says:

            There’s a Wikipedia page on the software:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ORCA_(computer_system)

            This arstechnica article references the sabotage claims

            http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2012/11/orca-was-no-fail-whale-says-romneys-digital-director/

            That points here:

            http://3dblogger.typepad.com/wired_state/2012/11/was-al-gores-dev-in-charge-of-romneys-aps.html

            Anyway, if there was anything to the claims, I expect they’d have shown up in Podesta’s emails.

          • Deiseach says:

            You know what is even worse about the whole affair? These extracts from leaked emails from 2014, where Hillary is giving speeches and talking about exactly this – cybersecurity risks given that Russia and China are targeting US government departments:

            *Clinton: “At The State Department We Were Attacked Every Hour, More Than Once An Hour By Incoming Efforts To Penetrate Everything We Had. And That Was True Across The U.S. Government.”* CLINTON: But, at the State Department we were attacked every hour, more than once an hour by incoming efforts to penetrate everything we had. And that was true across the U.S. government. And we knew it was going on when I would go to China, or I would go to Russia, we would leave all of our electronic equipment on the plane, with the batteries out, because this is a new frontier. And they’re trying to find out not just about what we do in our government. They’re trying to find out about what a lot of companies do and they were going after the personal emails of people who worked in the State Department. So it’s not like the only government in the world that is doing anything is the United States. But, the United States compared to a number of our competitors is the only government in the world with any kind of safeguards, any kind of checks and balances. They may in many respects need to be strengthened and people need to be reassured, and they need to have their protections embodied in law. But, I think turning over a lot of that material intentionally or unintentionally, because of the way it can be drained, gave all kinds of information not only to big countries, but to networks and terrorist groups, and the like. So I have a hard time thinking that somebody who is a champion of privacy and liberty has taken refuge in Russia under Putin’s authority. And then he calls into a Putin talk show and says, President Putin, do you spy on people? And President Putin says, well, from one intelligence professional to another, of course not. Oh, thank you so much. I mean, really, I don’t know. I have a hard time following it. [Clinton Speech At UConn, 4/23/14]

            And now there is outrage about oh no, who knew the Russians were doing this, how dare they? Either the DNC was remarkably cavalier about believing the reported threat (and the article on it makes it sound like a Mickey Mouse operation, where they had one part-time guy handling IT security who didn’t believe the FBI agent was a real agent), or didn’t know about it even though Hillary was telling the world on her speech-giving circuit that the Russians and the Chinese were hacking the US!

            This whole affair is like a French farce!

    • skef says:

      To add a more explicit model to the arguments already made on this thread:

      The worry is more about the combination of capacity and national interests. Imagine that the NSA started handing massive info-dumps related to one candidate over to Wikileaks. A natural conclusion would be that the NSA doesn’t want that candidate elected. Beyond generic privacy issues that affect every American, the NSA is in an unusually good position (on a technical level) to turn up “dirt”. If actual dirt has a roughly uniform distribution, and they’re only turning over dirt on one candidate, they could have a distorting effect on the election even if everything turn over is genuine.

      Russia doesn’t have the legal force in the U.S. that the NSA has, but it still has the resources of a large, technically adept nation engaged in espionage. Some people seem to have the attitude that technology is so leveling that scrappy hackers and national governments are equivalent in that arena, but finding genuinely new vulnerabilities and (keeping them for private use) is hard and, ultimately, expensive. Stuff that’s used too much gets countered and patched. So if Russia plausibly has significantly better capacities, and an interest in how our elections turn out, the sort of worries that have been raised are plausible.

      • John Schilling says:

        Russia doesn’t have the legal force in the U.S. that the NSA has, but it still has the resources of a large, technically adept nation engaged in espionage.

        So does China. So does North Korea, and France, Israel, etc. And some large subnational organizations. The idea that all of these are going to voluntarily refrain from “hacking our elections” because we say that Violates a Norm, is ludicrous. Particularly when it is the United States making that claim.

        Some people seem to have the attitude that technology is so leveling that scrappy hackers and national governments are equivalent in that arena

        I don’t think I have seen anyone make that claim. At most, it is relevant that “scrappy hackers” are capable enough that they could plausibly have gotten lucky and stumbled on to some particular piece of juicy data, and the theory that they might have done so gives plausible deniability to the government that really did so.

        Fortunately, making your critical systems secure even against a large nation-state’s espionage arms is something we know how to do, even as “make the scary foreigners stop trying to Hack Our Elections!”, isn’t.

        • tscharf says:

          Well it’s kind of funny that the subject of what Obama should do about is not even discussed. You either accept it, or do something about it. If it crosses a line, fight back. Did this cross Obama’s line? I can’t tell.

          I imagine Obama is terrified to leave Trump with an escalating situation with Russia because the new CEO always want to have an immediate impact on his organization. Trump isn’t likely to back down during week 1.

          My guess is Obama does nothing, and Putin assumed this all along.

          • John Schilling says:

            The last time someone crossed one of Obama’s explicit red lines, his response was pious speechifying until Vladimir Putin showed up and said “look, I can make this all go away for you and you won’t have to get your hands dirty”. I’m certain Vlad can cough up a promise that he’ll for sure go after those naughty rogue hackers and make sure this never happens again.

          • Deiseach says:

            I imagine Obama is terrified to leave Trump with an escalating situation with Russia

            No, I imagine Obama would be quite happy to leave Trump in the soup, but his concern would be if that affects his “legacy”. He is very concerned with his reputation, so doing nothing and letting it all go to Hell and getting th