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[GUEST POST] The International Refugee Assistance Project

[This is a guest post by Elizabeth Van Nostrand of Aceso Under Glass.]

How do you judge the effectiveness of preparing for something that might never happen? Consider emergency room capacity; if you have enough space and staff to deal with a diphtheria epidemic, it will seem wasted during the 99% of the time there isn’t one. But this is false economy; during a crisis the extra reserve may be the difference between disruption and disaster.

Whatever the staff of the ACLU was doing on Friday morning, it wasn’t as important as what they did Friday afternoon, after Trump banned legal immigrants from reentering the country, even if they were in flight.  If you just evaluated the effectiveness of their Friday morning work, you’d miss that they were also holding the capacity to respond to Trump’s order as quickly as they did.  That speed mattered – not just to residents being badgered into giving up their green cards, but because it demonstrated to Trump and America that the consequences of violating the Constitution are severe and immediate. Once the crisis hit, it became easy to see how everything that went into preparing for it was high leverage – which was why people donated $20,000,000 over the weekend.

But the ACLU didn’t act alone. One partner was the International Refugee Assistance Project, founded by Becca Heller.  While in Jordan on an internship, Heller talked to Iraqi refugees there whose applications to emigrate to the US had been denied; they had given up because there was no way to appeal Homeland Security decisions. But rejected applicants can effectively appeal by asking that DHS “reconsider” their application. Using case law from asylum decisions, Becca filed requests to reconsider on behalf of these Iraqi refugees. Back home, she began recruiting other Yale law students, then students at other law schools. As her organization grew in scope,  it effected some at-the-margins policy work as well. A notable win here was using FOIA to force the DHS to release their refugee decision manual.  Last year IRAP received a grant from the Open Philanthropy Project to increase the extent of their policy work.

The majority of IRAP’s day to day work involves processing appeals for individual refugees whose requests to resettle in the U.S. were denied.  Their staff manages a team of volunteer law students and lawyers who pour hours into interviewing clients, investigating cases, collecting documents to prove refugee status, and writing appeals. This aspect of their work isn’t glamorous. It’s not arguing before the Supreme Court to establish rights people didn’t have a week before. It’s tracking down proof that someone is from the country they say they are, when 95% of record-keeping institutions in the country have been blown up and the procedure for getting a passport is to find Mr. Big Beard’s stall in the market and give him some money. It’s very ground-level work that makes an enormous difference in the lives of individual immigrants. But each person helped in this way represents the investment of many, many hours from lawyers and law students; if you were analyzing their effectiveness, they’d probably score poorly relative to AMF (especially if you included the value of in kind donations of time from skilled individuals). Where they did advocacy work, it was relatively quiet and uncontroversial.

And then Trump issued executive order “PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES”

Under American law, an arbitrary person can’t challenge a government policy or decision in court.  You have to have standing, meaning you personally are hurt by the action.  And to be represented by a lawyer, you have to say “I am represented by this lawyer,” which normally isn’t a problem, unless you’re being held incommunicado and no one knows where you are.  There are ways around this, but they’re time consuming.

IRAP’s ground level work meant that when Trump’s order went out, it took them approximately four seconds to create a list of extremely sympathetic/photogenic immigrants who would be caught at airports that day, for some of whom they were already the legal representative of record. It took another six seconds to find even more photogenic supporters of those immigrants who were willing to loudly support them in media interviews. Veterans are Not Fucking Around when it comes to their translators.

IRAP doesn’t have a long history of challenging the federal government the way the ACLU does.  But by partnering with the ACLU (with its very strong history of challenging the federal government), the National Immigration Law Center (extensive knowledge of immigration policy) and Yale Law School (I don’t know, cheap labor from students? Money?), they were able to launch the strongest possible campaign to force Trump to keep promises we made as a country.

Also, for someone whose organization spends most of its time on individual cases, Becca Heller sure is good at publicly nailing the government to the wall.  I want her on this team just so she can keep going on TV and talking over congresspeople who she deems insufficiently proactive.

Ultimately I think the part where Trump flat out ignored the judicial branch is more important than changes to immigration (although I would like to see us expand immigration), and the ACLU is best positioned to fight constitutional battles.  But the ACLU will need similar assistance from ground-level organizations for the next fight too, and they just got twenty million dollars. Yale Law School needs your money even less. IRAP, by contrast, has an annual budget of $2 million. I exhausted my charity budget at the beginning of the year on my personal cause area, Third World poverty, but my ability to continue giving is dependent on the United States having a functional government and economy. I am genuinely afraid Trump will destroy both of those. I’m donating $100 to IRAP to support the upcoming legal fight, and as a retroactive bonus for building this capacity before most of us knew how much it was needed.

I encourage others to donate to IRAP, or to find similar small charities doing ground level work.

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626 Responses to [GUEST POST] The International Refugee Assistance Project

  1. brugiere says:

    Apropos of nothing … I came across this blog a few months ago. I’m a Rabbi by trade, grew up liberal and have become conservative over the last 10 years.

    I disagree with most of the blogger’s politics yet am in awe of his integrity and devotion to the truth. I recommend this blog to all of my conservative friends as a place to come and learn. I greatly admire your courage and your independence of mind, sir —- please keep it up!

    • eyeballfrog says:

      That’s why we conservatives keep coming back. Scott’s a liberal, but he’s an honest liberal, and that’s hard thing to find around the Internet these days.

      • I think “left libertarian” is closer than “liberal” in the modern sense of the term. But I agree about the quality of Scott’s writing.

        And although the commentariat doesn’t average up to his level, it’s well above what I am used to seeing online.

        • Evan Þ says:

          “the commentariat doesn’t yet average up to his level”

          Remember, growth mindset! Shut up and do the impossible!

        • wysinwygymmv says:

          My impression is that Scott’s values are liberal, but he is unusually skeptical of liberal dogma because he also values intellectual honesty way above the median.

          Like he seems to generally be pretty on-board with federalism and capitalism, whereas left libertarians tend not to be as much.

          You may be mistaking left libertarianism for “bleeding heart” libertarianism or similar, which is a nice marketing ploy for right libertarianism. Left libertarianism is more heterodox, older, and tends to favor alternative theories of economics and not be terribly enthusiastic about capitalism:

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-libertarianism

          • “Left libertarian,” in my experience, means at least three different things, a subject I discussed in a blog post some years ago. You are, I think, using the oldest of the three. I am using the most recent.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            Nice write-up. I would actually lump Henry George in with the “first” meaning of “left libertarian”, so in my view you only discuss two different meanings.

            And I maintain my position that the “first” meaning is the more proper meaning of “left libertarianism” and that “BHL” is really a marketing job on “right libertarianism”. BHL doesn’t seem distinct from right libertarianism…as you argue yourself in the linked post:

            My conclusion so far is that Bleeding Heart Libertarianism is simply a version of libertarianism whose presentation and contents are designed, so far as possible, to appeal to people on the left, especially academics on the left.

            Edit:

            It amuses me to note how relevant this is to some of the discussion downthread. Some might argue that BHL is “dishonest” because it emphasizes only specific aspects of libertarianism for the sake of appealing to a particular audience. Personally, I don’t think this is dishonest — I think it’s making the best case possible for a worldview while taking your audience’s values into account.

          • ChetC3 says:

            My impression is that Scott’s values are liberal, but he is unusually skeptical of liberal dogma because he also values intellectual honesty way above the median.

            He’s skeptical of the parts of liberal “dogma” that he personally dislikes either due to negative experiences in his personal life, or social conformity with his internet peer group of Bay Area libertarians. The line between charity and flattery is treacherously thin.

        • deciusbrutus says:

          There’s a number of things in the Liberal portfolio that are adopted by anyone who critically examines their political beliefs. There’s also a number of things in the Conservative portfolio in that category.

      • Anatoly says:

        The irony of the SSC right-wing commentariat is that of sincerely admiring Scott’s even-handed epistemic charity, and just as sincerely refusing to apply it in their own comments.

        “Wow, this blogger is on the left, yet will criticize the left for its intellectual dishonestly and won’t pretend that all of the right is a bunch of crazy homophobic fascists! Amazing! Such a breath of fresh air! I’d better go down there and tell everyone how all of the left is a bunch of crazy violent SJWs.”

        • Jliw says:

          I’m sure no one thinks all of the Left is like that…

          Doesn’t the fact that they’re here mean that these hypothetical Rightists are willing to listen to reasonable ideological opponents?

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            Possibly, but it could also mean that they feel gratified seeing someone on the left who is also critical of the left: “See, I was right! Even this guy who mostly agrees with you says so!”

            Presumably that’s the reason Ann Coulter linked here.

            Honestly, my impression is that more right wing people here are not so terribly curious or interested in learning about left wing views as they are in finding ammunition to shoot them down. But I may be a little biased myself.

            (See the post below that objected to the OP because it’s “standard left wing advocacy” or similar. To me, that doesn’t seem like openness to considering different views.

          • Space Viking says:

            @wysinwygymmv:

            You’re assuming a bit too much. Since I’ve been reading this blog for three years, I would say that yes, I am open to considering different views, and that I know the difference between typical left-wing advocacy and Scott’s carefully rational arguments. The guest post above is the former, not the latter.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            Since I’ve been reading this blog for three years, I would say that yes, I am open to considering different views, and that I know the difference between typical left-wing advocacy and Scott’s carefully rational arguments.

            Can you point out any instances where Scott has challenged your existing beliefs with a carefully rational argument for a left-wing view and where your views changed as a result?

            In my view, there is almost nothing posted to SSC that actually advocates for a left-wing view. I think that has a lot to do with why so many people are objecting so strongly to the OP! Scott mostly posts about professional interests and stuff without strong left/right valence. Almost anything political he posts is tagged with “things I will regret posting”, and almost all of that are critiques of the left!

            I stand by my observation that righy-type people here pat themselves on the back a little too hard for their open-mindedness when they are really pretty much as subject to motivated reasoning as anyone else.

          • Space Viking says:

            @wysinwygymmv:

            No one has moved me more in the direction of libertarianism than Scott. Ultimately I prefer the alt-right, but I am a libertarian-influenced alt-rightist.

            I agree that Scott doesn’t make too many left-wing arguments, but I would still read him if he did, as long as they are well-argued. My primary objection to this guest post is the lack of strong argument, not that it is left-wing. If I am wrong, I want my mind to be changed.

            I won’t get in an argument with you about which people of which politics here are more biased than the others, except to say that anyone who is not a left-libertarian, Scott’s professed view, demonstrates a degree of being unbiased, and that that does not mean that the left-libertarians here are automatically biased.

          • TenMinute says:

            He’s changed my opinions on psychiatry, not-throwing-people-out-of-helicopters, the (in)effectiveness of right wing tribalism, etc. etc.

            What about you?

          • masteringtheclassics says:

            @wysinwygymmv

            To shove my oar in here, I would hold up Scott’s post on content warnings as an example of a carefully rational argument for a left-wing view that changed my mind about something, and I award it bonus points for being in defense of an SJ position that a lot of more rationalistic leftists would have thrown under the bus.

          • Jiro says:

            Can you point out any instances where Scott has challenged your existing beliefs with a carefully rational argument for a left-wing view and where your views changed as a result?

            “I recognize this is a rational argument” doesn’t imply that your beliefs will change as a result, if the rational argument begins from different premises than you accept.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            @Space Viking:

            anyone who is not a left-libertarian, Scott’s professed view, demonstrates a degree of being unbiased

            1. I think Scott is a liberal with some libertarian views. He does not seem sympathetic to left-libertarianism. (Look it up on wikipedia. It’s not the same thing as bleeding heart libertarianism.)
            2. This is begging the question. I argue that right-wing people here are not necessarily looking to seriously consider left wing views (which would make them less biased), but that there are other more likely reasons, such as enjoying the frequent and forceful critiques of the left or looking for ammunition to justify rejecting left-wing views (the opposite of seriously considering those views). The mere fact that they read SSC does not give evidence as to what their reason is for doing so.

            but what I asked was if you could name a single left-wing view Scott has convinced you to seriously consider through rational argument — since you didn’t include one in your response I’ll assume the answer is “no”. (“He doesn’t actually make left wing arguments but I’d consider them if he did!” is not an affirmative answer to this question.)

            @Ten Minute:

            What about you?

            Well, none of those seem especially “left wing” to me, so it kind of seems like the answer to the question I actually asked is “no”.

            I’ll answer your question anyway. SSC probably wasn’t the singular cause of any of these, but both the posts and comments have contributed to pretty much all of them.
            -Rejecting left wing tribalism
            -Rejecting “I fucking love science” atheist worldview
            -More awareness of the distinction between facts and values in my worldview. People often refuse to accept facts because accepting them would imply their values are in some sense incorrect. I’m much better now at accepting facts that are inconvenient to my worldview and to judge how my opinions should change given my values and my new understanding of the relevant facts.
            -More flexible less rationalistic worldview more generally. Willingness to consider more heterodox ideas.
            -Appreciation for the ethics of civility and charity, and especially for seriously considering arguments I disagree with.
            -Less idealism, more pragmatism.
            -Recognition of and rejection of a lot of tribal signaling behavior.

            As far as specifically “right wing” views, I’ve changed my mind on gun control (completely against it), but SSC didn’t have anything to do with that besides the general mind opening stuff I mentioned above. I’m more sympathetic to HBD arguments in some respects than I was before. My version of “feminism” has stopped being “men and women should be equal” to “men and women should have complementary roles in society, those roles should be equally respected, and individuals should be allowed to reject those roles without being persecuted for it if they so choose” — again, not specifically because of SSC but in part because of the mind opening.

            One right-wing thing I did definitely get out of SSC was an appreciation for markets. However, I am still fairly anti-capitalist. You probably think that makes no sense, but it’s an ostensibly right-wing position I moved towards by reading SSC so it fits the bill.

            @Jiro:

            “I recognize this is a rational argument” doesn’t imply that your beliefs will change as a result, if the rational argument begins from different premises than you accept.

            That goes without saying. Unfortunately, such instances don’t provide good evidence for open-mindedness, so it is irrelevant to the discussion we’re having.

          • Space Viking says:

            @wysinwygymmv:

            Search SSC for “left-libertarian”. Scott did a post on it.

            Again, I’m not getting into a bias Olympics argument with you. And beware of Bulverism: you don’t know why anyone but yourself reads SSC.

            And how could Scott have changed my mind on something left-wing if we agree that he doesn’t try to? You’re having a logic problem there.

            Scott has certainly caused me to seriously consider some left-libertarian views, like guaranteed basic income, and I seriously considered mass immigration before I wholeheartedly rejected it.

        • Zombielicious says:

          Pro-tip: It helps a lot to get SSC block and just block the shit out of anyone who is in the least bit offensive, annoying, or just straight up dumb to you. Since it’s clearly getting on your nerves too. Don’t hesitate, don’t think twice, just hide them forever. I found the reading experience became a lot more tolerable after I did this.

          Other helpful advice: “Only accept criticism from those you respect.”

          • FeepingCreature says:

            To steelman what I see at first glance as a way to shut up inconvenient disagreement:

            “You are only going to accept criticism from those you respect anyways, so there’s no need to expose yourself to opinions you can’t learn from and which make you angry.”

          • Zombielicious says:

            Yes, thanks, exactly what I meant. Particularly the “can’t learn from/make you angry” part. Even if you lose a little value in what you occasionally miss, the tradeoff in saving your sanity is probably worth it.

            I doubt many of the people here complaining about this really have a problem with not wanting to hear new and differing opinions – they just get annoyed by serial offenders of YouTube-quality comments who are lent undeserved legitimacy by the high quality stuff coming from the better discussion members. Eventually it all gets mixed together and you end up blaming the entire community rather than the serial offenders. If you can read e.g. Jacobin or Cato Institute for hours without having a problem, but someone on here aggravates the heck out of you, it’s probably them. Don’t settle for it.

          • keranih says:

            I agree on the “don’t keep consuming things that make you sick at heart” strategy; but I hold that blocks of any sort have their downsides – most significantly, you can’t see when a person is growing more rational & persuasive, and you can’t reward/encourage that growth.

            Imagine if one had to live all ones’ life with everyone treating one as though one was always as knuckleheaded as one was as a yute.

            However, I’m not about to tell other people how much misery they can personally stand.

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ keranih
            I hold that blocks of any sort have their downsides – most significantly, you can’t see when a person is growing more rational & persuasive, and you can’t reward/encourage that growth.

            Actually, you can. When I do a ‘Block all posts from this user’, their comment’s box still shows up at its right place in the conversation, avatar and all. There’s a Show button at the bottom of that box which unblocks its text without affecting the rest of zis posts.

            So just reading along, I see who the blockee was talking to and what they were talking about. Replies to the blocked comment give more information, and some of them include direct quotes from it.

            If I do choose to click on the comment itself, I can Reply with encouragement or discouragement.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @houseboatonstyx – oh snap! your comment just took me from frowning in mild disapproval to being enthusiastically in favor. Everyone on this site should be using that. It would probably reduce the sniping and frustration by an enormous amount on all sides!

          • houseboatonstyxb says:

            @ Zombielicious
            Don’t hesitate, don’t think twice, just hide them forever.

            It’s not forever, it’s till further notice. To ‘block’ or ‘unblock’ a user, you click on their avatar and a box comes up for doing that.

            @ FacelessCraven

            I expect that by combining various things that SSC block can do, you could set up custom self-renewing bubbles, to visit for different purposes.

        • YehoshuaK says:

          A lot of leftists are like that. A lot of rightists, too, I’m sure–it comes from human failings. When that’s what you’re used to seeing again and again and again, it becomes very easy to go mentally from “a lot of leftists are crazy violent SJWs” to “all leftists are crazy violent SJWs.” An error, to be sure.

        • The Nybbler says:

          I’d better go down there and tell everyone how all of the left is a bunch of crazy violent SJWs.

          We try to control our impulse to do such things, then some poster tells us it’s OK to violently abuse us because America is the worst, and our base natures take over. Sorry about that.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            Don’t forget how much you guys hate guilt by association.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Yeah, I know what you mean, because I feel the same way when I read a nice blog post by an innocuous do-gooder who helped mitigate a shitshow that even most Trump supporters aren’t defending beyond saying “that’s not what he meant to do” and a significant proportion of the comments amount to “but how does this secure the existence of our people and a future for white children?!?”

          • TenMinute says:

            Oh boy, that didn’t take long.
            Is there anything someone could disagree with you about that you wouldn’t call them a fascist neo-nazi white supremacist bigot for?

          • Iain says:

            Ahem.

            Canada, the EU and the USA are predominantly white Christian (at least by culture) countries. There is a movement of left-wing elites who want to change that, and essentially destroy both the white race and European/Christian culture. The entire rest of the world does not have some kind of fundamental right to come destroy us, therefore I reject the frame that there is some kind of equivalence between Brevik-style violence and Islamic Jihadis coming to Europe to kill and rape us. Brevik & the Quebec shooter were acting in defence of their culture.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            @Iain:

            To be fair, though, that’s not a “significant proportion” and it’s not representative of most of the comments “against”.

            I was being flip about “guilt by association”, but it really is a bad thing and you probably shouldn’t do it.

          • herbert herberson says:

            Is there anything someone could disagree with you about that you wouldn’t call them a fascist neo-nazi white supremacist bigot for?

            Plenty of things! Just not categorical opposition to refugee programs based on “Muslim/Arab migration [being] probably the most irreversibly self-destructive thing a country can do” or for insufficient consideration of genetics. If that makes you uncomfortable, then please don’t pick a fight via misleading subtweets, thanks in advance.

          • Iain says:

            @wysinwygymmv:

            Sure. I mean, to be scrupulously fair, the comment I linked hadn’t even been written when herbert herbertson made the original remark (although it was fairly clear where that thread was going from the beginning).

            I just thought it was funny that TenMinute jumped all over herbert herbertson for seeing imaginary white nationalists around every corner when there’s one, like, right there.

          • The Nybbler says:

            @herbert herberson

            I’m way ahead of you, my phone number used to end in 1488.

          • TenMinute says:

            Iain, what it taught me is that you consider “hey, look over there!” to be proof about someone else.
            You know what calling Nybbler a white supremacist gets you? One less ally against the real ones.

          • herbert herberson says:

            I didn’t call Nybbler a white supremacist. He said “I’m trying to be good, but there are radical left wing arguments floating around that make me so mad!” and I pointed out that there are at-least-as-radical right wing arguments that make me comparably mad (while applying a comparable slant to my restatement of the argument).

            I was a sarcastic asshole about it because I perceived the comment as a subtweet and I loathe that kind of shit, but I actually do feel a little bit of genuine commiseration/sympathy on the topic.

            (Also, if I could upvote that last comment I would, because it’s a good joke.)

        • Error says:

          I don’t think those are the same people. At least, not often.

        • ChetC3 says:

          What irony? They like Scott because he tells them what they want to hear. The stuff about admiring his even-handedness is just a more…diplomatic way of saying that.

        • EarthSeaSky says:

          It honestly kind of reminds me of Christopher Hitchens’ post mortem lionization by the right, and to a lesser extent, Sargon of Akkad’s gradual affiliation with the Alt-right.

          Christopher Hitchens, after he died, was celebrated primarily by the ‘New Atheist’ crowd, but also by the neo-conservative warhawks, many of whom trumpeted him as an example of “an honest liberal”, in almost the exact terms that brugiere above does (I’ll try to find an example). This, after he’s primarily known for being a vocal supporter for US intervention overseas.

          This continues 5 years after death. You can find a video of him on Youtube title ‘Hitchens vs. SJW’ where he is arguing in favor of reparations for slavery. I know that the alt-right is resistant to any attempt to actually hold them accountable for the terms they use, but I know of no definition of SJW that includes “being against slavery reparations”. There are comments on the video that say things along the lines of “I dare say that after his death, it allowed them to grow bolder with their bullshit…” Yes. Quite.

          Far sadder to me is the sorry tale of Sargon of Akkad, a man who just wanted the feminists to stop ruining his video games. A noble cause, I’m sure we can all agree. Listening him talk to anyone that’s part of the alt-right is equal parts hilarious and pathetic, because even though he disagrees with almost everything coming out of their mouth, he feels obligated to be on their side because he hates the SocJus wing of the left.

      • Scott says:

        Do you have any blog recommendations of someone you might consider a conservative equivalent? I’ve been searching for something higher quality to read on the right side of the aisle than The National Review commentaries, which is my current go-to.

    • heterodox.jedi says:

      Is there a way I can contact you, or would you be willing to contact me?I’m heterodox_jedi on reddit. Thank you.

  2. Thecommexokid says:

    Do you have any advice on how I could have identified the IRAP as supremely worthy of my charity dollars 2 weeks ago? (And thus, likewise, how to identify the “charities doing ground level work” that will prove themselves vital in the weeks to come?)

    • Aceso Under Glass says:

      I tried to answer this but it endedup too long, I’m going to fold it a post I’m already working on about how I discovered Tostan, which will go up on my blog.

      • Evan Þ says:

        Thanks. I’m sure a lot of people here don’t follow your blog, so would you mind commenting in an Open Thread here or something when it’s finished?

  3. Daniel Frank says:

    “but because it demonstrated to Trump and America that the consequences of violating the Constitution are severe and immediate.”

    Can you enumerate what these consequences are? It seems like you’re just describing political football.

    One month from now (and/or one year from now), what is the net marginal product of the work IRAP is doing?

    • Proofs and Refutations says:

      Given that the administration has been completely ignoring the court orders blocking the immigration executive order I’m deeply skeptical that any good has been achieved at all.

      • TenMinute says:

        There are a number of recent posts and comments on Aceso that you might want to read before saying that.

      • stillnotking says:

        The first ruling that actually blocked the EO was Judge Robarts’ yesterday in WA, and the admin has complied with it.

        It looks very unlikely that the EO will actually be struck down by the courts — even left-leaning law blogs seem skeptical. The judiciary traditionally has given broad discretion to the president and Congress when it comes to immigration restrictions, even facially discriminatory ones. I won’t be completely surprised if the Ninth Circuit rules against Trump; I will be very surprised if the SC does.

        It’s possible that the admin will have to clean up the language a little, but anyone hoping for a ruling that grants broad protection to prospective immigrants on the basis of religion or national origin is likely to be disappointed.

        • Ilya Shpitser says:

          Ah, yes the “so-called judge” in Mr. Trump’s immortal words.

        • Bryant says:

          Lawfare is not inherently left-leaning; contributors come from all over the spectrum. I recommend looking at the actual writer’s politics before making a call. In this case, Peter Spiro is fairly middle of the road: he clerked for Justice Souter but served on President Clinton’s NSC. He is certainly not a Trump fan, though, so it’s possible to make your point without worrying about tribes.

    • tscharf says:

      The executive order was poorly written and had some major implementation problems, but that should not be confused with the fact that the President has broad discretion on limiting immigration. The details of this order will eventually get cleaned up, but the worst case of the courts striking it down will only result in a cleaner executive order being reissued very shortly after that occurs.

      • Eli says:

        Now, I’m against Muslim bans and travel bans in general, but I think that a “cleaned-up” order which no longer attempts to retroactively invalidate existing policy would be, well, normal partisan football.

  4. suntzuanime says:

    So on the meta-level, this is an argument for, what? Institution-building being more important than decentralized money flows? Setting up communities with personal connections to help people being more important than distributing anonymous benefits? Arguing about politics on TV actually being an effective form of altruism?

    • wysinwygymmv says:

      Do you think it’s impossible to write a descriptive blog post? Like, not an argument but just a brief explanation or description of a situation?

      • AnonEEmous says:

        I think it’s impossible to write a descriptive reply comment 🙂

        but seriously, the post starts with

        “How do you judge the effectiveness of preparing for something that might never happen?”

        So there’s obviously an element of argument. In fact, if the writer says that there isn’t, then the writer probably thinks that they conclusively answered this question and they are just informing everyone about it. But in actuality people might disagree.

        • wysinwygymmv says:

          So there’s obviously an element of argument.

          To the extent that this piece is making an argument, I think the argument is: “Choosing charitable causes based on quantifiable metrics (i.e. effective altruism) does not necessarily yield optimal results because those metrics will systematically downplay the effects of rare events or preventing those rare events.”

          However, instead of making a rigorously logical evidence-based case for that premise as one would in a debate, the piece attempts to create a narrative that describes a situation in which a charitable cause that would look like a stinker in terms of quantifiable metrics of “efficacy” turns out to be really important and vital work when a rare event comes around and the worst outcomes are able to be avoided.

          So the form of the “argument” here is descriptive rather than persuasive. There’s no controversial fact claims being made that are backed with evidence, nor are there any attempts to refute commonly held beliefs using evidence or logic. The author presents you with a plausible description of a situation (it’s tacitly assumed that the audience will accept the author’s description as reasonably representative of reality) that the author seems to be assuming is not something the audience would usually have thought about or considered or known about. To the extent that it attempts to change anyone’s mind, it does so by simply informing. They’re not really disputing any facts.

          • AnonEEmous says:

            “To the extent that this piece is making an argument, I think the argument is: “Choosing charitable causes based on quantifiable metrics (i.e. effective altruism) does not necessarily yield optimal results because those metrics will systematically downplay the effects of rare events or preventing those rare events.”

            So there’s explicitly an argument here.

            “So the form of the “argument” here is descriptive rather than persuasive.”

            All right? I don’t think that makes it any less of an argument though. Either way, looks like we identified what the argument was, so I’m happy to concede either way.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            So there’s explicitly an argument here.

            Er, no…the argument is implicit. Literally (literally) implicit.

            All right? I don’t think that makes it any less of an argument though.

            Either “being an argument” is binary valued, in which case whether or not this is an argument would depend on a precise definition of “argument”. (Relevant definition: “a reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong.” I would say this qualifies.)

            Or “being an argument” is a cloud in thing-space and a particular statement can be more or less of an argument depending how close it is to the centroid.

            I favor the latter characterization, and would subjectively place the OP towards the edge of the cloud.

            Thanks for pointing out that there’s an element of argument, I got some really useful stuff out of this back-and-forth.

      • suntzuanime says:

        You could but that would be boring. Imagine seeing life as just a series of things that happen, without making generalizations and drawing meta-level conclusions! This is supposed to be an insight blog, not a political news blog, so I’m searching for insight.

        • stillnotking says:

          Imagine seeing life as just a series of things that happen

          Nothing could be easier; one merely has to extrapolate from the existing majority of things that do not conform to their ideology.

  5. Michael Watts says:

    Once the crisis hit, it became easy to see how everything that went into preparing for it was high leverage – which was why people donated $20,000,000 over the weekend.

    I suspect a large part of that amount came more from the impulse “I’d really like to express my opinion of Donald Trump” than the impulse “wow, I hadn’t realized how effective the ACLU really was”.

  6. Leonard says:

    my ability to continue giving is dependent on the United States having a functional government and economy. I am genuinely afraid Trump will destroy both of those.

    Really? Genuine fear? This seems wildly overblown to me. Can you explain how and why Trump would do either thing? What odds do you give them? My odds on either thing are practically zero. If you can define them, I might be happy to make a bet on either or both propositions.

    It’s kind of unclear what you are arguing, but to the extent that your argument depends on “Trump will destroy everything”, I don’t think a lot of people are going to buy it.

    • greghb says:

      It’s short of “destroy everything,” but what odds would you give that the S&P 500 goes below 1500 at some point during Trump’s presidency? That’s concrete, and would mean the economy was in pretty bad shape. 1 in 1000 odds? I’d put $10 at that price…

      • ThirteenthLetter says:

        That would be a similar slide to the one between 2000 and 2003. I obviously wouldn’t want that to happen and it wouldn’t say good things about the President (to the extent that such things are the responsibility of the President) but it’s hardly even on the same continent as “destroy everything.”

        Also, considering drops of that magnitude have happened twice in the past twenty years I’d give way more than thousand-to-one odds on it no matter who was President.

      • tscharf says:

        Stock market lost half its value in 2008, and has gained it all back and then some.
        https://www.5yearcharts.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/snp500-vs-cpi-10y.png

        Stuff happens. Stuff will continue to happen.

        Dow futures were down almost 800 points on election night and the usual suspects all pointed to it and claimed it was signs of the Trumpocalypse (the market doesn’t like uncertainty). It recovered within 24 hours. These same usual suspects predictably had nothing to say about that or the approx. 10% rise in the market since then.

        I personally don’t think the economy/markets and Presidential policy are well correlated.

      • YehoshuaK says:

        S&P 500 at 1500 (I don’t know how much below you meant, so I’m going to assume you meant “right below”) would be a drop of about 35% from where it is now. Such a drop might mean the economy is in bad trouble, or it might mean that the stock-buying public is caught up in an irrational pessimism. It could also mean that the current price is a bubble and that 1500 is about right, or just a little below right. There are multiple interpretations of that possible future.

      • Leonard says:

        It is woefully short of “destroy the economy”. I’m not sure how I’d characterize that, but certainly I think there are examples out there of “destroy the economy”, i.e., what happened to Zimbabwe or Venezuela. Inflation might be a decent bellwether. Want to bet on 200% inflation?

        As for the SP500: the SP500 is at 2280. 1500 means dropping by 1/3 of its value. This has happened, by eyeball, twice in the last 30 years. (Dotcom bust, and housing bubble bust; in fact both times it dropped by about 50% from high to low.) Have our rulers identified and fixed the fundamental cause of bubbles/busts? No. So, just doing a stupid estimate of “it happens once per 15 years”, the odds of a major correction happening again in the next 4 years are around 24%. In fact I’d say the odds are somewhat higher, because I have a working theory about bubbles, and my theory tells me it takes time to build up malinvestments and for this to become known, and a shock of some kind to set a panic in motion. (It’s been 8 years since the last bust.) I’d go as high as 30%.

        In any case, this sort of thing happens not infrequently, and it is no sense “destroy the economy”.

        • greghb says:

          Is the bet on inflation itself inflation-adjusted? 🙂 My main problem with inflation is that it can take a while to become really damaging and out-of-control. This administration’s policies could start a process that plays out over the next decade or two.

          But fine, year-over-year CPI inflation hasn’t been above 20% since record-keeping began in 1913. What odds would you give for year-over-year CPI inflation being above 20% within the next 5 years?

          I totally agree that it will be very hard to disentangle Trump policies from regular economic fluctuations. But that doesn’t stop us from making probabilistic assessments and betting on them. My view is that (1) known macroeconomic policy can avoid some of the bigger catastrophes (I think US management of the 2008 crisis is an example), (2) it takes prudence to understand and enact such policies, and (3) Trump is impulsive and imprudent. So my odds of the tail risk of economic catastrophe is up. But as for attributing the causes in hindsight? No one will know.

          Anyway, as you argue, S&P 500 at 1500 probably isn’t far enough out on the tail. So, is 20% inflation better?

          One last point: I guess a deflationary depression seems about as likely as an inflationary one, so maybe we need to set some real GDP terms as well, to balance that out. But we can do one bet at a time.

    • JulieK says:

      It’s kind of unclear what you are arguing, but to the extent that your argument depends on “Trump will destroy everything”, I don’t think a lot of people are going to buy it.

      Plenty of people already believe that. Maybe not a lot of people reading this blog will buy it, but we’re a contrarian bunch.

    • MattW says:

      There’s a recession in the US every 10 years regardless of who’s in congress or the white house. I think it’s a setup to blame Trump for the normal business cycle.

      • gudamor says:

        To the extent that a recession can be ‘attributed’ at all, a recession that occurred shortly after the beginning of the Trump presidency could better be blamed on the previous administration.

        My concern is rather how the fallout would be handled. More bank bailouts? Raising tariffs? Something else?

  7. TenMinute says:

    Harm mitigation is good. But I don’t consider “fighting the enemy” a charitable cause (because it’s been made abundantly clear that means us), and I have no wish for my money to be spent on fringe “world without borders” advocacy.

    If anyone can suggest an organization that limits itself to the former, without its directors being tied into all kinds of other causes, I would be happy to donate.

  8. tscharf says:

    …it took them approximately four seconds to create a list of extremely sympathetic/photogenic immigrants who would be caught at airports that day, for some of whom they were already the legal representative of record. It took another six seconds to find even more photogenic supporters of those immigrants who were willing to loudly support them in media interviews.

    This sounds intentionally misleading and an unethical manipulation of the media. This is not something to be proud of in my opinion. If this is a legitimate problem, you should not need to fake it, nor should you.

    • suntzuanime says:

      Given that the immigrants were actually real, it probably on average reduced the misleadingness of the media.

    • Proofs and Refutations says:

      What exactly are you accusing of being “fake” here? All I see in your quote is providing the media with access to real facts about real people.

      • tscharf says:

        “extremely sympathetic / photogenic”. The intent is obvious to garner media attention for their cause. Why is there a photogenic requirement? Why is there a sympathetic requirement? It’s a political PR exercise.

        It’s anything but clear from the writing that these sympathetic / photogenic people had any business at the airport except to be photographed and interviewed by the media. Not sure how one instantly knew a list of sympathetic / photogenic people who had preplanned travel and were coincidentally traveling through airports at that moment to be “caught” and miraculously already had lawyers.

        Sounds pretty fishy. The author can feel free to clear this up.

        • suntzuanime says:

          Uh, because they were a refugee aid organization actively engaged in aiding refugees, they knew about refugees. The refugees had lawyers because the refugee aid organization provided them lawyers because refugees often have use for lawyers. Reading comprehension! It’s important.

          • tscharf says:

            Is extremely sympathetic and photogenic part of the refugee form?

          • Evan Þ says:

            @tscharf, considering the refugee program was (by OP’s admission) urging people to alter their travel plans, perhaps they made a point of getting some of the more-photogenic refugees in then.

            (Not that I’m saying it’s an evil thing! As the Sequences explain in one of their better parts, we live in a world where the Dark Arts are, purely and simply, practical.)

          • Chrysophylax says:

            @Evan:

            As the Sequences explain in one of their better parts, we live in a world where the Dark Arts are, purely and simply, practical.

            Practical for what purpose? Manipulating people into believing things without good reason is often locally instrumentally useful, but it tends to be a very bad way to achieve terminal goals.

            Being intellectually dishonest is like moving fast in an unfamiliar forest: it feels like you’re making lots of progress, right up until you realise that you’ve been going the wrong way and have no idea how to get back to the path. It’s much more sensible to slow down, check your map, and try to figure out where you really are and which direction you should really go in.

            Quoting Eliezer:

            But why not become an expert liar, if that’s what maximizes expected utility? Why take the constrained path of truth, when things so much more important are at stake?

            Because, when I look over my history, I find that my ethics have, above all, protected me from myself. They weren’t inconveniences. They were safety rails on cliffs I didn’t see.

            I made fundamental mistakes, and my ethics didn’t halt that, but they played a critical role in my recovery. When I was stopped by unknown unknowns that I just wasn’t expecting, it was my ethical constraints, and not any conscious planning, that had put me in a recoverable position.

            You can’t duplicate this protective effect by trying to be clever and calculate the course of “highest utility”. The expected utility just takes into account the things you know to expect. It really is amazing, looking over my history, the extent to which my ethics put me in a recoverable position from my unanticipated, fundamental mistakes, the things completely outside my plans and beliefs.

            We don’t live in a righteous universe. And so, when I look over my history, the role that my ethics have played is so important that I’ve had to take a step back and ask, “Why is this happening?” The universe isn’t set up to reward virtue—so why did my ethics help so much? Am I only imagining the phenomenon? That’s one possibility. But after some thought, I’ve concluded that, to the extent you believe that my ethics did help me, these are the plausible reasons in order of importance:

            1) The honest Way often has a kind of simplicity that trangressions lack. If you tell lies, you have to keep track of different stories you’ve told different groups, and worry about which facts might encounter the wrong people, and then invent new lies to explain any unexpected policy shifts you have to execute on account of your mistake. This simplicity is powerful enough to explain a great deal of the positive influence that I attribute to my ethics, in a universe that doesn’t reward virtue per se.

            2) I was stricter with myself, and held myself to a higher standard, when I was doing various things that I considered myself ethically obligated to do. Thus my recovery from various failures often seems to have begun with an ethical thought of some type—e.g. the whole development where “Friendly AI” led into the concept of AI as a precise art. That might just be a quirk of my own personality; but it seems to help account for the huge role my ethics played in leading me to important thoughts, which I cannot just explain by saying that the universe rewards virtue.

            3) The constraints that the wisdom of history suggests, to avoid hurting other people, may also stop you from hurting yourself. When you have some brilliant idea that benefits the tribe, we don’t want you to run off and do X, Y, and Z, even if you say “the end justifies the means!” Evolutionarily speaking, one suspects that the “means” have more often benefited the person who executes them, than the tribe. But this is not the ancestral environment. In the more complicated modern world, following the ethical constraints can prevent you from making huge networked mistakes that would catch you in their collapse. Robespierre led a shorter life than Washington.

          • Chrysophylax says:

            @tscharf: No. Some refugees happen to be photogenic. Being a refugee is strongly correlated with being sympathetic.

            You are trying to explain something with a wicked conspiracy. This is usually a bad idea, but it’s especially misguided when there is nothing to explain.

            @Evan: tscharf’s orginal quote rules that out. You can’t arrange for someone to fly to the USA in four seconds. The people in question were travelling that day for perfectly legitimate reasons, without a hint of conspiracy.

      • TenMinute says:

        Here’s a tweet from their policy director.
        Fake? That’s probably the wrong word. It’s openly emotionally manipulative in a way that should make you instantly put your guard up.
        It has too much in common with the TV ads showing poor, starving African children with mournful background music, and for only $10 a day you can ensure they’ll have all the bibles they can read!!

        It’s the exact opposite of how we’re supposed to be thinking, problem-solving, and giving money.
        The more you care, the more images like that tug at your heart-strings, the more effort you need to make to ignore emotional manipulation designed to make you irrational and easily suckered.
        Regardless of the intent, and how much you sympathize with the person trying to manipulate you.

        • tscharf says:

          OK, fake is the wrong word. Agreed. Maybe “overtly stage it for media consumption”.

        • Cypren says:

          (Disclaimer: way longer than I originally intended. If you want the bits that are applicable only to the IRAP article, skip to point 5.)

          I would like to propose that there are really only four valid dismissals (that is, arguments which can terminate debate rather than engaging with the morality and consequences of the specifics) of political advocacy:

          1.) It is maliciously untrue. It contains clear, unambiguous statements contradicted by well-established facts and relies entirely on the listener not being aware of those facts. Examples:

          * The guy who claimed his mother had died waiting for surgery because of Trump’s ban; she had died 5 days before.

          * Trump’s statement that 81% of white homicide victims were killed by a black perpetrator. Official crime stats from a wide variety of sources do not indicate anything even remotely close to this number.

          2.) It is deliberately misrepresentative. It omits information that is necessary to evaluating its claims in context, and is entirely reliant on the missing context to advance its argument. Examples:

          * “When Mexico sends its people … They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” Also literally true: some illegal immigrants are drug dealers, criminals and rapists, and some are good people. But the argument is wildly misrepresenting the balance of those categories.

          * “Women still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns.” Literally true, but reliant on deliberately ignoring nearly every confounder used to compare pay scales.

          3.) It is unverifiable conjecture. The advocacy does not provide any sources to back up its claims and relies entirely on argument from authority or claims of secret information. Note that this is the only category where “the person arguing has no credibility/is a proven liar” and similar ad hominem attacks are actually valid rebuttals; if they do not provide verifiable information and argue from their own personal authority, it’s totally acceptable to try to undermine that authority. Examples:

          * “3 million votes in presidential election cast by illegal aliens“. There have been few attempts to study whether widespread voter fraud occurs, and none without significant methodological criticism. The source of these particular numbers has not provided any independently-verified data.

          * Harry Reid’s claim that Mitt Romney “didn’t pay taxes for 10 years”. This was later shown to be a lie, but at the time the claim was advanced, it was an unsourced conjecture and yet one repeated more or less as truth among Romney’s opponents.

          4.) It is irrelevant. The argument is about an unrelated situation and does not apply to the topic at issue. Examples: basically any strawman argument.

          The last thing I would add is kind of a “half point” category that doesn’t necessarily argue for immediate dismissal, but should cast aspersions on the credibility and sincerity of the person making the argument. This is, I think, what the disagreement about the IRAP piece is really about:

          5.) The argument uses the Dark Arts. The argument exploits cognitive biases to have a much greater mental impact on recipients than its factual evidence can support.

          What I’m going to suggest is that the Dark Arts are the nuclear weapons of the debating world. They rely on either bilateral disarmament or mutual assured destruction. If your opponent is not using the Dark Arts, use of them should immediately make your motives and credibility suspect, because unilaterally using the Dark Arts suggests that your case isn’t strong enough to win without them.

          But if your opponent pulls them out, you will probably have to deploy them as well in order to return to a level playing field. It’s futile to try to persuade an audience with cold logic when your opponent has engaged their lizard-brains, shutting down everything you say before it gets anywhere near their higher thought processes.

          To my mind, IRAP as presented in this essay is clearly using the Dark Arts to manipulate public opinion. But that’s not a battle they started; is there anyone here who would like to make the argument that Trump’s immigration policies are based on an emotionless appeal to cold logic, rather than fear?

          To my mind, IRAP is fighting a duel with the weapons Trump chose. People who don’t like that choice should be looking at how the battle started, not how it’s being waged.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            Wow, this is a great list of bad ways to use political arguments, totally apart from your use of #5 to attack this particular argument. I copied this to my own directory for future reference.

            Although I am not sure if #5 really is a bad political argument (and I realize that you are here agreeing with it because it is defensive). If you are going to have a political advertisement, shouldn’t you try to have sympathetic, photogenic, and emotional arguments in your favor? I agree with the other 4 arguments being dissemination of untruths and an evil, but I don’t see the problem with putting one’s best face on the ad if you are sincere about the argument.

          • Jiro says:

            One could argue that Trump was himself responding to decades of left-wing propaganda which portrayed a lopsided view of immigration, rather than starting it himself.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Jiro, I enthusiastically agree.

            But then, those leftists would probably say they in turn are responding to right-wing propaganda dating back at least to the Know-Nothings. I don’t know about anti-Know-Nothing (Know-Something?) propaganda aside from Lincoln’s famous quip, but I’d guess it also made heavy use of the Dark Arts. Which battle on this terrain hasn’t? And, in each case, I’m sure each side would point to the other as starting it.

            Reciprocal communitarianism won’t really work here absent secession, because we need to work through this as one nation instead of just dealing with those who’ll agree to disarm along with us. So, as Scott said earlier, the only other solution – aside from giving into the Dark Arts – is going to be divine grace.

          • P. George Stewart says:

            Just a slight correction:-

            “Trump’s statement that 81% of white homicide victims were killed by a black perpetrator. Official crime stats from a wide variety of sources do not indicate anything even remotely close to this number.”

            It wasn’t a statement, it was a retweet of an infographic with no comment. So it was either an honest mistake by a busy man (if you’re for him – though ofc whether it’s seemly for a presidential candidate to put himself in a position to make such a public mistake is, to say the least, a valid question) or a “dog whistle” (if you’re agin’ him).

            Curiously, it looks like the actual infographic has roughly the right numbers, but switches the “whites killed by whites” with “whites killed by blacks” numbers. So again, honest error retweeted by various people, or Dark Arts?

            The former is possible in view of the fact that the point of the infographic (judging by the highlighted “blacks killed by cops” and climactically-bolded “blacks killed by blacks”) seems to have been simply to put the “blacks killed by cops” number into perspective in the context of the climactic “blacks killed by blacks” (which is roughly correct, although slightly exaggerated).

            Again, wrt Trump, you could go “boo” or “hooray” with that too – the hooray version being that Trump didn’t particularly notice the erroneous part of the infographic and was simply focussed on the main point of the infographic, which does seem to be a direct counter the BLM idea that cops killing blacks is a big problem wrt black lives.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Happy to lie or has no desire to learn the truth. I’m not really seeing a difference there.

          • Happy to lie or has no desire to learn the truth. I’m not really seeing a difference there.

            Both might well be true of Trump, and a good many others.

            But in this case, it sounds as though he simply passed on someone else’s graphic which contained a mistake that was not crucial to the point it was making, which isn’t much evidence of either.

            When you use a graphic found online making a point you agree with, do you usually check other sources to make sure everything on it is correct? I don’t.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @David Friedman:
            If this were an isolated incidence, and the mistake when pointed out was acknowledged? Sure.

            We are so far away from an isolated incident of grossly mistaken fact that I feel completely comfortable pattern matching the misinformation that emanates from him and his coterie to intentional behavior, one way or the other.

    • BBA says:

      The leaders of the Montgomery Bus Boycott deliberately chose to make Rosa Parks their figurehead even though Claudette Colvin had been arrested for refusing to give up her seat months earlier, because Parks was a respectable married woman and Colvin was a pregnant teenager. Manipulative? Maybe, but there was nothing false about the Rosa Parks story we all learned in school. It just wasn’t the whole story.

      Everything works like this.

      • Chris Hibbert says:

        Maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Institute for Justice (a libertarian pro bono law firm) explicitly looks for sympathetic plaintiffs. They brag to their donors about how well they do this. They do it because it’s part of being effective. I’m not going to blame anyone pursuing other goals for doing the same thing.

        • TenMinute says:

          Shelly Parker, was a neighborhood activist who lived in a high-crime area in the heart of the city (and was threatened by drug dealers)… Dick Heller, was a special police officer who carried a handgun every day to provide security for a federal office building, the Thurgood Marshall Judicial Center. But when he applied for permission to possess that handgun within his home, to defend his own household, the D.C. government turned him down… Among the other plaintiffs was a gay man assaulted in California on account of his sexual
          orientation.

          And they are very good at it.

    • JulieK says:

      This sounds intentionally misleading and an unethical manipulation of the media.

      I would call it savvy marketing, and no worse than the typical contents of the media. It’s certainly not as bad as the types of manipulation chronicled in this classic article.

      • tscharf says:

        But it’s all become so transparent it might as well be Hollywood making commercials. I’m not so sure it really works any more. I don’t think drinking the right beer makes me attractive to beautiful women, and I don’t think media photos of Muslim girls hugging their sad grandma in a wheelchair at the airport enlightens the issue one bit for me, it only signals me I’m about to read propaganda. I’m pretty jaded about this stuff now.

        Something that actually works is for example the recent picture of the Syria boy covered in dust sitting in back of ambulance after the bombing.

        This one is one of the saddest. Iraqi girl after her parents were mistakenly killed approaching a US checkpoint. Words aren’t needed.
        http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/48809000/jpg/_48809129_52018179.jpg

        • reasoned argumentation says:

          Something that actually works is for example the recent picture of the Syria boy covered in dust sitting in back of ambulance after the bombing.

          You’ve been had there too.

          There’s a video of the setup and posing of that shot which includes things like the boy scratching the open wound and having no pain reaction.

        • JulieK says:

          I don’t think media photos of Muslim girls hugging their sad grandma in a wheelchair at the airport enlightens the issue one bit for me, it only signals me I’m about to read propaganda. I’m pretty jaded about this stuff now.

          Not everyone is as jaded as you.

    • keranih says:

      This sounds intentionally misleading and an unethical manipulation of the media.

      Agreed. But failing a common agreement on morals, which we don’t have (see all Jon Haidt’s work) the best we can do is politely call out manipulation, and avoid it in our own work.

      You see what they’re doing. They know what they’re doing. And God knows what they’re doing. It is enough.

      • Randy M says:

        Agreed. But failing a common agreement on morals, which we don’t have (see all Jon Haidt’s work) the best we can do is politely call out manipulation, and avoid it in our own work.

        Ha! I thought you were going to say “failing a common agreement on morals, the best we can do is attempt to appeal to each other’s emotions.”

    • wysinwygymmv says:

      It’s not manipulative.

      No human mind is large enough to contain all the facts about any particular issue. Part of advocacy for any particular issue is putting forward the best case possible. Also, advocates tend to sincerely believe in their causes.

      This means that:
      1. It’s necessary for advocates of a particular cause to only highlight a subset of facts about that cause.
      2. They will always pick facts to make the best case possible.

      Edit: Compare to “bleeding heart” libertarianism. It’s not the whole truth about libertarian ideas — it’s putting the best face on those ideas. I don’t think that’s wrong or manipulative, it’s just advocacy for ideas I don’t agree with. End edit.

      I don’t understand what your preference would be. Should they have photographed ugly immigrants too just for the sake of generating a “representative sample” of the immigrant population? What should they have done differently to be “honest”? Or would the only honest thing be not to advocate for their cause at all?

      Are you also against lawyers for the defense in criminal cases because they make the best case possible for the innocence of potentially guilty people?

      • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

        It’s not manipulative.

        It’s literally manipulative.

        It might not be illegal, it might even be moral (it is to me at least), but it’s also certainly manipulative.

        • wysinwygymmv says:

          It seems a little like you’re begging the question when you flatly contradict my claim without making a case against my claim. In the comment to which you’re replying, I claimed that it wasn’t manipulative and then made an argument for that position.

          Obviously, whether or not the claim “this situation was manipulative” is true or false is determined entirely by what we mean by the word “manipulative”. google provides the following definition for “manipulative”:

          characterized by unscrupulous control of a situation or person.

          (Second definition was not relevant in this context.)

          Do you think this was unscrupulous? If so, why? What specific scruples were violated?

          If not, what makes you want to characterize the situation as “manipulative”?

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            It seems a little like you’re begging the question when you flatly contradict my claim without making a case against my claim. In the comment to which you’re replying, I claimed that it wasn’t manipulative and then made an argument for that position.

            Your argument isn’t really for it not being manipulative, but rather for manipulative(ness?) not being that bad.

            Going by the dictionary definition you provide, yes, it would not be scrupulous to present a non-representative sample of the affected in order to strengthen the case. It’s trying to manipulate the emotions and unconscious reactions of people by presenting them with sob stories and cute children and whatever.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            Your argument isn’t really for it not being manipulative, but rather for manipulative(ness?) not being that bad.

            My intention was to argue for it not being manipulative. If your perception is that I was not arguing for it not being manipulative, I think that comes down to a disagreement about what “manipulative” means.

            I have privileged knowledge about what I’m arguing for, so it doesn’t make much sense to try to tell me what I’m really arguing for. Perhaps it would be better to phrase as: “This is what I perceive you as arguing for”, or even “this is what I perceive you as arguing for given my understanding of the word “manipulative”.

            It’s trying to manipulate the emotions and unconscious reactions of people by presenting them with sob stories and cute children and whatever.

            You’re begging the question again by using the term “manipulate” in your argument for why this behavior should count as “manipulative”. I mean, “it’s manipulative because it’s unscrupulous. It’s unscrupulous because it’s manipulative.” It’s literally a circular argument. Why is this behavior unscrupulous?

            Why do you think it’s manipulative to present people with true sob stories and real cute children? There are too many immigrants to show all their stories to the audience, so the author must pick and choose. Given that the author must pick and choose, why is it unscrupulous that they should pick and choose the cases that make for the best presentation? If it is unscrupulous, how could they perform this same function in a scrupulous manner? What metric should they use to pick and choose cases besides “makes the most effective presentation of my position”?

            Is advertising or presenting a case in court necessarily unscrupulous in this same sense?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            it would not be scrupulous to present a non-representative sample of the affected in order to strengthen the case.

            It’s not scrupulous to say “every single refugee is like this”.

            It’s perfectly scrupulous to say “the people harmed by this includes these examples”.

            I mean if 10% of people who use a certain OTC herbal product die, you don’t have to make your argument about the harm it does based on the fact that 70% of the people who use it feel slightly nauseated for 10 minutes. You are allowed to make your case using the 10% of people whose case is most sympathetic.

          • I mean if 10% of people who use a certain OTC herbal product die, you don’t have to make your argument about the harm it does based on the fact that 70% of the people who use it feel slightly nauseated for 10 minutes. You are allowed to make your case using the 10% of people whose case is most sympathetic.

            Clearly legitimate if you make it clear in your presentation that these are the small fraction who had the worst reaction. Illegitimate if you present the information in a way designed to make it look as though this is the normal result.

            The point is more obvious if we imagine a medicine that has a very bad effect on 10% of those who take it, a very good effect on 20%, and you only present (true) information on the former group.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            I have privileged knowledge about what I’m arguing for, so it doesn’t make much sense to try to tell me what I’m really arguing for. Perhaps it would be better to phrase as: “This is what I perceive you as arguing for”, or even “this is what I perceive you as arguing for given my understanding of the word “manipulative”.

            This is indeed a better phrasing, and I apologize if you were offended.

            It’s literally a circular argument. Why is this behavior unscrupulous?

            Because it lacks scrupulousness (apparently scrupulosity is a mental illness), it is an incomplete presentation of the information that is intentionally misleading. If you were investingating some phenomena, and threw out all the negative data points, would that not be considered manipulation?

            Is advertising or presenting a case in court necessarily unscrupulous in this same sense?

            Very much so. Very clearly in advertising, but for the “presenting a case”, instead of considering an attorney trying to save their client, consider a prosecutor trying to get a conviction at all costs, it’s basically the same thing, would you not consider such behavior unscrupulous?

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            This is indeed a better phrasing, and I apologize if you were offended.

            Certainly not offended! In adversarial discussions straw man arguments are very common. I just wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt that you were not straw manning me.

            Because it lacks scrupulousness (apparently scrupulosity is a mental illness), it is an incomplete presentation of the information that is intentionally misleading. If you were investingating some phenomena, and threw out all the negative data points, would that not be considered manipulation?

            It depends on the context. If I was doing a scientific study, then implicit in the context is that negative results are just as important as positive results and need to be taken into account.

            Let me provide an example context where this is not the case, though. Suppose I run an e-commerce site, so my customers are stores and my users are shoppers. And suppose each store has its server stack. I have to prioritize who to roll the change out to. Would it be “manipulative” to prioritize based on which customer had the highest number of affected users? I certainly don’t think so — I think that’s just straight-up sensible!

            So there’s question of which comparison is more relevant in this instance. I say the second. Why? Because presumably the people who put the campaign together thought all the possible subjects were worthy of consideration and help (because the subjects were chosen from lists of people who were already clients of the organization). They couldn’t possibly put out materials involving all the possible subjects for simple logistical reasons. So they prioritized the subjects that would help them make the best case, knowing that making the best case possible would help all their possible subjects, i.e. the people they are trying to help.

            I’ve asked a few people, and no one has any satisfying answers: how should this have been done to make it more “honest”? Do you really think it would have been more honest to choose potential subjects at random instead of prioritizing more sympathetic cases? how could anyone determine whether they had actually been chosen randomly?

            Very much so. Very clearly in advertising, but for the “presenting a case”, instead of considering an attorney trying to save their client, consider a prosecutor trying to get a conviction at all costs, it’s basically the same thing, would you not consider such behavior unscrupulous?

            1. I don’t think it’s clear in the case of advertising. Some ads (on the radio, mainly) simply say: “this is the product, this is what it’s for, buy it if you want”. You can argue that ads with a visual element are necessarily manipulative, but then by the very same arguments all visual media are necessarily and inherently manipulative and it’s not reasonable to discriminate against specific examples on that basis.
            2. It depends. Is the prosecutor breaking the law? If not — if the prosecutor is just doing his best to emphasize the facts that are best for his case — then I would describe that as the prosecutor doing his job. The prosecutor is cast in an adversarial role relative to counsel, and the decisions are made by a third party. I actually advocate for this as the model for public decision making in another comment, and I think this campaign should be likened to an attorney making the best possible case for his client. It’s up to the jury (the audience) to be sufficiently skeptical to make a good decision.

            This is for purely pragmatic reasons. There’s no way to legislate bias, and there’s a laaaarge scope for good-faith disagreements leading to accusations of manipulativeness (and therefore dishonesty).

            I’m certainly willing to entertain suggests about how advocates could make their cases more honestly. Concrete examples of how these guys might have done so would be helpful, I think. So far, though, no one’s had any good suggestions on how to force people to overcome their own biases in the course of advocating for their positions.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            Sorry, double comment kind of.

          • Whatever Happened To Anonymous says:

            I’m certainly willing to entertain suggests about how advocates could make their cases more honestly. Concrete examples of how these guys might have done so would be helpful, I think. So far, though, no one’s had any good suggestions on how to force people to overcome their own biases in the course of advocating for their positions.

            Well, I feel no need to, since I don’t think it’s necessary, possibly not even desirable!

            I think part of the disagreement here is that “manipulative” has an inherent negative connotation for you, but doesn’t for me, at least not inherently so.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            I think part of the disagreement here is that “manipulative” has an inherent negative connotation for you, but doesn’t for me, at least not inherently so.

            OK, I think I got confused because when I introduced a definition that used the word “unscrupulous”, you agreed that the behavior is indeed “unscrupulous”. I assumed you were criticizing it because I don’t see how “unscrupulous” can avoid having negative connotations.

          • Spookykou says:

            This is mostly tangential, but

            visual element are necessarily manipulative and it’s not reasonable to discriminate against specific examples on that basis.

            Even if this was the case, could it not also be true that any given add could be more or less manipulative?

            I guess I am imagining manipulativeness as a spectrum? This ad shows me something pretty close to reality, but not unfiltered reality, so technically it is manipulative, but only slightly. This other add shows me something very far from reality, so it is very manipulative. So much so that I might go out of my way to critique it for being manipulative, when I would not do so for the first ad.

            On the one hand, manipulative seems like a binary distinction, but I can’t shake the feeling I described above either.

            In particular I am imagining food advertisements, and how closely the food in the ad resembles the food you get at the restaurant, if that clears anything up.

      • tscharf says:

        I’m not buying advocacy for advocacy. This is just a rationalization for intentional misrepresentation. I don’t need organizations doing me favors because they don’t think my mind is large enough.

        Ferguson shooting
        UVA rape case
        Duke Lacrosse rape case
        Tawana Brawley rape allegations
        Trump hate crime hoaxes

        It’s very easy for activists to get lazy and just make up the evil they want the world to see as a shortcut from doing hard work. When they get caught it sets back not just their organization, but their entire cause. Short term wins can be counterproductive in the long term.

        What I expect is honest organizations to have integrity. Those that survive over the long term typically do and this facilitates trust from donors and the public. I expect the media to cover both sides of an issue and avoid manipulation by activists and attempt to stay agenda free.

        • wysinwygymmv says:

          I guess I just don’t understand why the onus is on the advocate to try to include information that makes their case weaker rather than the onus being on the audience to be sufficiently skeptical.

          My reasons for this are mostly pragmatic. I don’t understand how you could ever trust an advocate to make what you would perceive as an “honest” case for their position. They are obviously biased towards their own position!

          My model of decision making here is more like that in a courtroom: two people in adversarial roles make the best case they can and then the jury/audience weighs the case made by each side and makes a decision.

          Since there’s no good way to ensure that an advocate makes an “honest” case, nor no good way to measure the “honesty” of the case any particular advocate makes, this seems to me the only sensible way to model public decision making.

          I’d be very pleased to hear any pragmatic ideas you have concerning how to help advocates make more honest cases for their positions, keeping in mind that the position that no one should advocate for anything at all is obviously ridiculous.

          What I expect is honest organizations to have integrity.

          What specifically should have been done differently in the instance described to maintain “integrity”? I already asked a few specific questions that you ignored. Should they have photographed ugly immigrants? Would that have given their campaign more “integrity”?

          Bear in mind that catering to your specific view of “honesty” means contradicting other people’s view of “honesty” if you have different views about the actual facts of the matter. I don’t think people should get “dinged” on integrity for having a good faith disagreement about what’s true.

          Note that this is similar in a lot of ways to (usually libertarian) defenses of advertising and marketing. Advertising is necessarily biased, but is it necessarily manipulative? Can it in some cases be biased and informative but not manipulative?

          Edit:

          It’s important to note that the expectation that an advocate include information in their arguments that makes their case weaker in order to be considered “honest” or to “have integrity” is supremely game-able. If there’s a set of damning facts about an issue, an advocate can cherry pick the least damning facts to include in her arguments to give the appearance of honesty while still making a fairly dishonest case. This is just another reason to let people make the strongest case they can either way and then let the marketplace of ideas take care of the rest.

          Also, people will have different ideas about what’s important. So someone could leave out of their case a point that you consider an important strike against the position, but it can still be a good-faith disagreement rather than intentional dishonesty.

          • Randy M says:

            Not every biased argument is manipulative, but it seems that one that seeks to persuade due to flaws in the recipients thinking (as in, putting more weight on helping photogenic victims) is obviously so.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            Not every biased argument is manipulative, but it seems that one that seeks to persuade due to flaws in the recipients thinking (as in, putting more weight on helping photogenic victims) is obviously so.

            So you think it would have been more honest if they had photographed ugly immigrants? I’m asking what specifically could they have done to make this campaign more “honest” in your view. It doesn’t seem to me like choosing more photogenic subjects over less photogenic subjects really affects the merits of the case either way.

            This seems like a good point to ask is that your true rejection? It seems unlikely to me that everyone who has a problem with this campaign would suddenly be on board if they made sure the physical appearance of the photographic subjects was appropriately representative.

            While we’re at it, how would one even do that? Isn’t attractiveness fairly subjective? How could a third party fact-check whether or not an organization selectively photographed more photogenic subjects and was therefore being “manipulative”?

            I understand the moral argument you guys are making, I just don’t see how it could ever be of any pragmatic use in the real world.

            Edit: Since the status of subjects as “photogenic” or “not photogenic” is not falsifiable, the claim that the organization favored photogenic subjects is not falsifiable — it is a matter of subjective opinion. Therefore, you are justifying a rejection of verifiable facts (the plights of the detainees) based on your subjective impression of a largely ancillary factor in the debate. Does putting it this way give you any pause or suggest that there might be some motivated reasoning in play?

          • Randy M says:

            I don’t have a lot invested in this argument, I just note that it seems odd to object on a rationalist blog that appeals to emotion via carefully selected optics is not manipulative.

            I mean, sure, if you want to make a persuasive case then it is rational for you to do so in the most compelling way, but that doesn’t mean that A) you are making a rational argument, or B) you won’t turn off some people who prefer to be convinced by reason.

            Isn’t attractiveness fairly subjective?

            Eh, sort of. You can’t derive it from the fundamental forces of physics, but that doesn’t mean it is hard to predict what certain audiences will respond to. After all, the author’s organization was able to do so in four seconds.

            If your goal is “persuade people to donate to protect refugees” then emphasizing how well you can identify photogenic refugees makes sense. If it is to engage in rational discussion, it is at best a non-sequitor.

          • tscharf says:

            So you think it would have been more honest if they had photographed ugly immigrants? I’m asking what specifically could they have done to make this campaign more “honest” in your view. It doesn’t seem to me like choosing more photogenic subjects over less photogenic subjects really affects the merits of the case either way.

            Thank you for answering your own question.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            I just note that it seems odd to object on a rationalist blog that appeals to emotion via carefully selected optics is not manipulative.

            Shouldn’t rationalists be interested in the limits of rationality and therefore be happy to have people presenting a case against rationalist dogmas on a rationalist blog? Isn’t the whole idea of rationalism to test one’s convictions against solid arguments to the contrary? I don’t understand why it would be odd to argue against a rationalistic position on a rationalist blog. In fact, it seems like exactly what you’d start a rationalist blog to do, assuming you understand that the best way to confirm an idea is by trying to falsify it (as any good rationalist should).

            For myself, I’d probably be best described as “post-rationalist” in this context. I recognize limits to rationality, and my thinking and arguments reflect that.

            I can go into more detail why appeals to emotion are not bad or immoral just because “rationalists” often have a chip on their shoulder about them if you want. Just let me know!

            you won’t turn off some people who prefer to be convinced by reason.

            Someone can prefer to be convinced by reason without being offended by appeals to emotion. I tend to think that anyone turned off by something like this is overly critical of appeals to emotion. I actually like emotions. I think they’re pretty cool.

            You ignored the most important part of my comment: how could this campaign have been conducted more honestly in your view? I think anyone trying to make the case that there’s something dishonest about it should be able to answer that question.

            Edit:

            If your goal is “persuade people to donate to protect refugees” then emphasizing how well you can identify photogenic refugees makes sense. If it is to engage in rational discussion, it is at best a non-sequitor.

            But you guys aren’t calling it a non-sequitir, you’re calling it manipulative and using it as a justification to determine that the organization is dishonest. Can you justify that position instead of the “non-sequitir” position by pointing out how the same advocacy could have been performed honestly?

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            @tscharf:

            Thank you for answering your own question.

            Hey, now, I was asking your opinion! I already know my own!

            Seriously, dude, if you think this campaign was dishonest, I think you should be able to formulate your own answer to the question: “how could they have done it more honestly?” Just a few specific points. Without suggestions for how it could have been done better, I don’t think you’ve really made an argument for the position “this is dishonest”.

            Unless you’re arguing that advocacy is necessarily dishonest, but I don’t think that’s what you’re doing.

            If you really just think they should have taken deliberately unattractive photos, I think that’s pretty weak sauce. It’s pretty much an argument against photography in general, since pretty much every photograph involves the photographer deciding what elements of a scene to include, exclude, and emphasize.

            So maybe that’s a good follow-up question too: is photography inherently dishonest and manipulative? And does this mean that any argument or advocacy that uses photographs is likewise transitively dishonest and manipulative?

          • Randy M says:

            I don’t understand why it would be odd to argue against a rationalistic position on a rationalist blog.

            Shrug. I don’t want to speak from them, maybe my impression is wrong. I thought the Less Wrong goal was to “increase the sanity waterline” but “find out the optimal way to hack people” is a certainly a possible goal.

            You ignored the most important part of my comment: how could this campaign have been conducted more honestly in your view?

            don’t do this:

            create a list of extremely sympathetic/photogenic immigrants

            or this:

            find even more photogenic supporters of those immigrants

            But I get you, all of journalism and advocacy is basically manipulative.

            edit:

            It’s pretty much an argument against photography in general, since pretty much every photograph involves the photographer deciding what elements of a scene to include, exclude, and emphasize.

            Yes, the visual element is very often misleading at best. A picture is worth a thousand words, and even better, all of them come with plausible deniability.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            I thought the Less Wrong goal was to “increase the sanity waterline” but “find out the optimal way to hack people” is a certainly a possible goal.

            Oh no, I’m not advocating for the dark arts. I’m actually arguing that “increasing the sanity waterline” isn’t necessarily achieved by relentlessly advocating for “rationality” as conceived of by many rationalists.

            The short version is that emotions are important! You can’t make purely rational decisions, because pure rationality leaves out any motivation to make the decision in the first place. Acknowledging that people have motivations for what they do and that they can’t therefore be completely disinterested evidence-chugging decision makers is, in my view, an important part of “raising the sanity waterline”.

            But I get you, all of journalism and advocacy is basically manipulative.

            Yes, the visual element is very often misleading at best. A picture is worth a thousand words, and even better, all of them come with plausible deniability.

            Right, so I think we basically agree on all this. The difference is that I think that describing advocacy like what’s described in the OP as “manipulative” is done with an eye to dismissing the message on the basis that it was made dishonestly.

            But what I’m arguing — and what you seem to agree with — is that there’s no practical way to avoid these practices in making a case for anything. Even if you try to do your best to write a completely factual report, you won’t be able to interview everyone involved and you won’t have the column inches to include all the interviews you actually do. Even if you do a good job with all that, the photographer will necessarily ruin everything by taking a picture that emphasizes certain visual elements over others and therefore makes an “arational” impression on the reader and colors their view of the contents of the article.

            Therefore, I think it’s invalid to reject such arguments as “manipulative” on grounds that it is immoral to be manipulative. There’s no practical way to avoid being manipulative when making a case for something, nor is their a practical way to measure how manipulative something is. The interpretation of whether it’s manipulative or dishonest is necessarily a subjective impression, and therefore can’t help a rationalist who is trying to overcome his or her biases. It is more likely to make them more susceptible to their biases as they will reject sources they disagree with and accept sources they agree with!

            don’t do this:

            If you want to be fair, I asked what they should do, not what they shouldn’t do.

            Would it have scored them “honesty” points if they picked people at random instead of choosing what they considered to be more sympathetic cases? How could anyone tell if they were truly chosen at random?

          • Randy M says:

            How could anyone tell if they were truly chosen at random?

            If she avoided including a paragraph about how efficient her organization was at selecting photogenic examples, it would be an open question as to whether they were deliberately playing on people’s emotions, or making a rational case. As she did include such, it’s fairly clear.
            It’s a fairly small thing in all. I won’t tell you to avoid giving money to them because of it; just don’t come here and say it isn’t engaged in playing on people’s instinctive response to want to protect cute things.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            If she avoided including a paragraph about how efficient her organization was at selecting photogenic examples, it would be an open question as to whether they were deliberately playing on people’s emotions, or making a rational case.

            So you’re saying it would be more honest if she didn’t disclose the nature of the decision-making process? That seems completely backwards to me!

            I won’t tell you to avoid giving money to them because of it; just don’t come here and say it isn’t engaged in playing on people’s instinctive response to want to protect cute things.

            I never argued that it isn’t playing on people’s emotions. I disagreed that it should be rejected because it is “manipulative”. The argument hinges on the meaning of the word “manipulative”. To me, it seems obvious that this term was used to smuggle in moral judgments about the reliability of information received through this channel.

            So my counterargument consisted of showing that any channel for information is subject to the same distortions or manipulations. Therefore, the emphasis on the dishonesty of this particular case is quite probably motivated reasoning since the same arguments apply to sources for which they would likely not make similar arguments.

            You can even look on the argument I’m rebutting as self-refuting. Why are people cherry-picking the manipulative elements of this campaign as opposed to campaigns they agree with? Isn’t that exactly the same kind of “manipulative” cherry-picking that’s being criticized?

            This is why I bring up the notion of “true rejection”. I don’t think anyone’s actually rejecting these ideas because of the “dishonesty” involved in choosing more sympathetic subjects. I think that’s a post-hoc rationalization for why people disagree.

            And I think it’s really telling that the people who have a problem with the “dishonesty” or “manipulativeness” of this campaign are unable to specify a way the same campaign could be made more honestly. (Again, an emphasis on the positive actions that could be taken. Saying what they should not do does not tell me what they should do.)

            Edit: I also made a lot of arguments along the line that there’s no practical way to systematize judgments about how “manipulative” or dishonest advocacy like this is, and that therefore there’s no practical use for such judgments beyond rejecting arguments and sources you don’t like. (Which from a rationalist point of view should not be considered practical at all.)

          • Jiro says:

            This seems like a good point to ask is that your true rejection?

            This seems like a good point to complain about LessWrong’s idea of a true rejection. Most people have multiple reasons for things, no one of which is their true rejection.

            The proper answer here would be the same as the proper answer to “if I were to convince you that killing the firstborn in Egypt was good, would you worship God? No? Well, that isn’t your true rejection.” Namely, the answer is “that wouldn’t convince me, but it would be a start; if you were to convince me of many things over which I had objections, at some point the cumulative weight of all of them would get me to become a believer, even though no single one is definitive.”

          • Randy M says:

            So you’re saying it would be more honest if she didn’t disclose the nature of the decision-making process? That seems completely backwards to me!

            She is being perfectly honest in this post, making a pitch about how her organization deserves your support because they are good at manipulating public opinion. It’s not too complicated.

            I disagreed that it should be rejected because it is “manipulative”

            I thought you were objecting to it being manipulative at all, as you stated above.

            Therefore, the emphasis on the dishonesty of this particular case is quite probably motivated reasoning since the same arguments apply to sources for which they would likely not make similar arguments.

            The emphasis is on this case in this thread because these are the comments about her pitch for your support in her public relations and legal campaign. Feel free to raise other examples if you want to narrow down what other people think of the word meaning.

            Why are people cherry-picking the manipulative elements of this campaign as opposed to campaigns they agree with? Isn’t that exactly the same kind of “manipulative” cherry-picking that’s being criticized?

            What was the last such campaign brought up for discussion?

            (Again, an emphasis on the positive actions that could be taken. Saying what they should not do does not tell me what they should do.)

            I don’t think it is necessary to plan out an alternative case in order to point out that her description of her behavior sounds manipulative. Not manipulative of facts, but of people, of trying to alter their behavior without changing their mind through up-swells of feels. It is probably one small part of that strategy. To be less manipulative, do the same things without the focus on generating good-will based on the appearance of the immigrants and their supporters.

            The argument hinges on the meaning of the word “manipulative”

            You might notice a higher than average concentration of babbling pedants around here. Don’t start arguments about labels.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            She is being perfectly honest in this post, making a pitch about how her organization deserves your support because they are good at manipulating public opinion.

            So you’re arguing that the org should have disclosed “these cases were not chosen at random, they were selected according to subjective impressions of who was most sympathetic and photogenic” as a disclaimer in their materials?

            It’s not too complicated.

            Substance-free “i’m smarter than you” posturing. Surely you can do better than this.

            I thought you were objecting to it being manipulative at all, as you stated above.

            As I said explicitly, this comes down to the precise meaning of the word “manipulative”.

            I was using a definition of “manipulative” that included the notion of “unscrupulousness” or “dishonesty”. I still maintain that under such a definition, no these actions are not “manipulative”. I don’t find them any more (or less) unscrupulous or dishonest than pretty much any other form of advocacy for pretty much any other position out there.

            Perhaps I should say it’s not too complicated.

            The emphasis is on this case in this thread because these are the comments about her pitch for your support in her public relations and legal campaign.

            Obviously people are talking about the case because that’s what the thread is about. But talking about the case does not entail emphasizing the alleged dishonesty of the case. I’m offering my opinion on why people are doing the latter. The reason you give for why they would do the former is already pretty obvious.

            Almost forgot: it’s not too complicated.

            What was the last such campaign brought up for discussion?

            I’m not making an object-level comparison of comparable posts on SSC. I’m making a meta-level observation that very probably people are dismissing this source on the basis of observations that apply equally well to sources that they’d tend to accept.

            I don’t think it is necessary to plan out an alternative case in order to point out that her description of her behavior sounds manipulative. Not manipulative of facts, but of people, of trying to alter their behavior without changing their mind through up-swells of feels. It is probably one small part of that strategy. To be less manipulative, do the same things without the focus on generating good-will based on the appearance of the immigrants and their supporters.

            I’m arguing that you cannot make a principled argument that this is manipulative without showing how the same thing could be done in a less-manipulative manner. Otherwise, there’s no reason to believe that this is any more manipulative than any equivalent form of advocacy for any positions at all. (in which case, calling out the dishonesty would be a form of special pleading.)

            You seem to be saying that the only way to honestly advocate for this cause is to exclude all biographical details and photography from promotional materials. Is that a reasonable characterization of your view?

            You might notice a higher than average concentration of babbling pedants around here. Don’t start arguments about labels.

            If we’re trying to evaluate whether my statement: “it is not manipulative” is true or false, then obviously we’re going to have to talk about the meaning of the word “manipulative.” This is not an argument about the label, this is an argument about the referent.

            The fact that you’re trying to “stick” me on the “it is not manipulative” point without taking into account what I meant by such a statement makes it seem to me like you are playing more of a “gotcha” game than honestly engaging with my position.

            And, frankly, that makes you look like more of a babbling pedant than anyone else I’ve interacted with so far.

            This seems like a good point to complain about LessWrong’s idea of a true rejection. Most people have multiple reasons for things, no one of which is their true rejection.

            You’re mistaking a useful heuristic for a rigorous argument.

          • Randy M says:

            And, frankly, that makes you look like more of a babbling pedant than anyone else I’ve interacted with so far.

            Who did you think I was talking about? 😉
            I’m only trying to defend my original point, which I don’t think I’ve really improved on since:

            Not every biased argument is manipulative, but it seems that one that seeks to persuade due to flaws in the recipients thinking (as in, putting more weight on helping photogenic victims) is obviously so.

            It comes down to: What information does their being photogenic add to her pitch above? That they are good at selecting convincing case studies. Not convincing based on the particulars of the case, but based on *how they look to the camera*.
            What on earth does that have to do with any of the facts or our response? Nothing! Then Why should it be so emphasized?

            I’m arguing that you cannot make a principled argument that this is manipulative without showing how the same thing could be done in a less-manipulative manner.

            I feel I’ve disproved this already. If you disagree, feel free to continue to assert it, and any readers left can decide for themselves.

            But talking about the case does not entail emphasizing the alleged dishonesty of the case.

            It’s notable here because she herself uses it as a selling point. Most such cases are not so blunt and so have to rely on inference of motives.

            You seem to be saying that the only way to honestly advocate for this cause is to exclude all biographical details and photography from promotional materials. Is that a reasonable characterization of your view?

            I am saying a good rule of thumb as to know when someone is being manipulative is when they brag about their focus on irrelevant details that are prone to mislead.

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            What on earth does that have to do with any of the facts or our response? Nothing! Then Why should it be so emphasized?

            OK, well I had not seen any aspect of this campaign before reading this post, so it had no impact on my decision-making with respect to the immigration ban.

            What did? The fact that I personally know people who are part of the affected population — coworkers and friends.

            Is it dishonest of me to take into account these specific biographical details? Should I actively try to discount my personal experiences in evaluating the immigrant ban if my friends and coworkers are especially photogenic?

            If I was trying to make the case that the immigrant ban is bad to someone else, would it be dishonest or manipulative to give the sob story of someone I know personally who was affected? Or is this just a normal way of thinking about, describing, and discussing things in general?

            The kicker: how is this actually any different from what IRAP did?

            I feel I’ve disproved this already. If you disagree, feel free to continue to assert it, and any readers left can decide for themselves.

            Fair enough. It seems obvious to me that to make a principled distinction between case A and case B that you have to be able to actually show how A and B are different, but I think we already settled that things aren’t always as obvious to others as they seem to ourselves.

            It’s notable here because she herself uses it as a selling point. Most such cases are not so blunt and so have to rely on inference of motives…I am saying a good rule of thumb as to know when someone is being manipulative is when they brag about their focus on irrelevant details that are prone to mislead.

            I think she said it because she regarded it as unremarkable — this is obviously just how advocacy works. It’s the only practical way to do it.

            As I’ve already argued, there’s no way to legislate or measure honesty. You haven’t been able to give me any especially satisfying ways for advocates to keep themselves honest (you don’t even seem to think it’s relevant, though I don’t see how it couldn’t be). So I stick by the position that advocates should make the best cases they know how without actually lying, and the onus is on the audience to sort through competing claims.

            Would you regard your own characterization of the statement as “bragging” as a form of dishonesty? I think it is irrelevant to the argument you’re trying to make and colors people’s emotional reactions, and therefore by your own criteria, it would be “manipulative” and “dishonest”. Do you agree that you are being manipulative and dishonest by calling it “bragging”?

            This is exactly what I meant by “special pleading”. You’re using the exact same tactic to try to advocate against the tactic itself. I don’t think you did this intentionally — I think this is just how humans hume.

            But that’s also exactly why I think these accusations of manipulation and dishonesty amounts to a lot of special pleading.

          • Randy M says:

            The fact that I personally know people who are part of the affected population — coworkers and friends.

            Is it dishonest of me to take into account these specific biographical details?

            Of course not. You want to help those you know. Photogenic, though, is not a synonym for “personally known to the viewer” it is a synonym for “looks good in pictures”. If you helped because the people you know are very attractive, but told yourself that you did it out of a some other conviction, that might be dishonest, I guess. But since you are free to use any criteria you want to manipulate your own self, it doesn’t seem relevant.

            If I was trying to make the case that the immigrant ban is bad to someone else, would it be dishonest or manipulative to give the sob story of someone I know personally who was affected?

            Probably not, though if I find you had told a third party “Joe really has a soft spot for left handers, so I used the pictures of the immigrant throwing left-handed” it would come off wrong.

            The kicker: how is this actually any different from what IRAP did?

            What does photogenic have to do with anything?

            Would you regard your own characterization of the statement as “bragging” as a form of dishonesty? I think it is irrelevant to the argument you’re trying to make and colors people’s emotional reactions, and therefore by your own criteria, it would be “manipulative” and “dishonest”. Do you agree that you are being manipulative and dishonest by calling it “bragging”?

            Perhaps, although I disagree that is is irrelevant–the sentence that forms the core of the argument that she was purposefully manipulative is a hyperbolic account of her organizations capabilities (see “four seconds”). Thus I feel it is fair and relevant because it shows it to be purposeful, rather than accidental.

            Now, if I come around later and say “Look, the second the post went up I had a score of words ready to paint her with negative affect” then I certainly look sketchy. But that was not how it came about.

            I don’t think you did this intentionally

            This seems to be relevant

            Look, and I’m sorry to just say this now, but it is only now occurring to me, and it would be dishonest not to give her the benefit of the doubt: it may very well be that she thinks all the immigrants are photogenic, or could be made that way. The way it is phrased, I read as that she was selecting for this characteristic, which makes me feel both that she thinks I (or rather her target audience) am shallow and am easily influenced on a subconscious level. I think preying on people’s fallacies is unethical, but that may simple be her retrospective description of the people in question, so I have probably said way too much.

            (In case you are wondering, no, I’m not fond with how saturated our culture is in advertising, including of the misleading political advocacy sort)

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            Perhaps, although I disagree that is is irrelevant–the sentence that forms the core of the argument that she was purposefully manipulative is a hyperbolic account of her organizations capabilities (see “four seconds”). Thus I feel it is fair and relevant because it shows it to be purposeful, rather than accidental.

            You could have said “purposeful”, which doesn’t have a negative/positive valence. You in fact said “bragging” which has a clear negative valence.

            I don’t see much difference between choosing a word with negative connotations to color your arguments against a proposition and choosing more attractive photographs to color your arguments for a proposition. Sorry.

            The fact that it was unintentional doesn’t make your arguments more trustworthy than those who knowingly use such tactics. Arguably, that could make you less trustworthy.

          • Randy M says:

            A trap well laid! I shall accept the charge for the sake of ending the argument on a paradox. After all, one should never listen to manipulative people.

          • Deiseach says:

            You in fact said “bragging” which has a clear negative valence.

            For what it’s worth, I took it as bragging. “We’re so on top of things, and Trump’s action is so dumb, we got our attractively-sympathy rousing people and their stories all lined up in four seconds!” One instance might be hyperbole, but couple it with the immediately succeeding sentence about doing something in six seconds and yep, bragging.

            Bragging in a good cause – we are efficient, well-prepared and your donations will not be used wastefully – but still bragging.

        • BBA says:

          But those stories were false. These are true.

          You can argue for some ideal of full disclosure and abstract pure reasoning, but people just don’t work that way. If you have multiple equally valid cases to choose from, why not go with the one that’s strongest on an emotional level?

    • Viliam says:

      > This sounds intentionally misleading and an unethical manipulation of the media.

      Nope, that’s just counter to people’s usual biases. Imagine that people have a bias that e.g. all blue-eyed people deserve to die, and only green-eyed people deserve to live. And you have Trump randomly torturing 10 people, and 5 of them have green eyes, and 5 of them have blue eyes. And your photographer makes sure that the person on the photograph has green eyes. That’s the level of “manipulation” we are discussing here.

      • Jiro says:

        The proper thing to do would be to show a representative sample of people, not to show all green-eyed ones. By deciding “their reaction to green-eyed people is the unbiased one and their reaction to blue-eyed people is the biased one, so showing all green-eyed people just removes the bias” you are conveniently assuming that the bias is in the direction which helps your case. Assuming that the bias just happens to be in the direction which helps your case is itself a form of bias.

        And I don’t believe for a moment that when people react strongly to photogenic victims that that strong reaction is the unbiased one. Suppose instead of victims of refugee problems you were showing victims of rapists in order to convince someone to get tough on crime. Would it be fair to show them a black rapist and a white victim because they have more sympathy for white victims of black rapists, and the most sympathetic reaction is the unbiased one?

        For that matter, suppose you were trying to convince someone to choose between some cause which helps some identifiable people, and some cause which helps many more people, who are not identifiable. By your reasoning, the fact that the cause with the identifiable people gets more support is not bias at all. Yes, it is; a bias of identifiable victims over statistical victims is a particularly pernicious form of bias. (One could even argue that immigration restrictions work this way: if you think that restricting immigrants is good for the general American populace, you are comparing harm to identifiable immigrants to harm distributed through the population. People who are harmed in a distributed, statistical, manner are hard to show in a glossy ad, so this makes immigration look better than it should.)

        • wysinwygymmv says:

          The proper thing to do would be to show a representative sample of people, not to show all green-eyed ones.

          How could this principle be implemented practically in the real world?

          It seems unreasonable to expect people advocating for a particular position should police their own honesty. Their biases will inevitably lead them to fail at this, at which point anyone who disagrees with them will shout “liar!” and anyone who agrees will say “You’re nitpicking!”

          Moreover, this principle seems inherently game-able to me. Suppose your metric for honesty is based on how much information is included in an argument that actually weakens that argument. It seems obvious to me that advocates would always disclose only cherry-picked information that undercuts their arguments as little as possible while withholding the most damning information.

          This is why I think the onus is and should be on the audience to be sufficiently skeptical to sort through the competing claims rather than putting the onus on advocates who are obviously biased towards their own positions to be scrupulously honest in their presentations of those positions (they will pretty much inevitably have a different idea of what “scrupulously honest” means in context).

          So for completely practical reasons, I think the “representative sample” position is unworkable in the real world. Moreover, I think the suggestion that advocates should be held accountable for this sort of thing is essentially a tactic for rejecting inconvenient arguments on the basis of subjective impressions of the honesty of the arguer.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            It seems unreasonable to expect people advocating for a particular position should police their own honesty

            Why on earth would you think that. We expect people to police their own morality as a matter of day-to-day civil society. This is the same. I consider the ability to police your own honesty and engage honestly with critiques of your stances to be a basic prerequisite for participation in public discourse in much the same way I consider the ability to not try to walk out of a store with merchandise you haven’t paid for to be a basic prerequisite for participation in public retail.

            Their biases will inevitably lead them to fail at this

            Really? You can’t think of any time someone has said “Further research has revealed that my initial claim was inaccurate. I withdraw the claim”? Or “based on new information and arguments I am changing my position on this issue from X to Y”?

            “It seems obvious to me that advocates would always disclose only cherry-picked information that undercuts their arguments as little as possible while withholding the most damning information.”

            Which is why one of the tactics for rigorous rational debate among rationalists is “Steelmanning”. That is, engage arguments where they are strongest and –best- supported by evidence. If you are engaging weak arguments, ask how they could be made stronger, present the strongest and most supported version of that argument you can, and then defeat THAT version.

            It’s something that the commentariat here, as a whole, needs to do more often when we argue with one another, and I include myself in that. But it’s not some arcane, inhuman contortion of the mind that requires studying on a mountain for twenty years. It’s not something that is beyond someone of average intelligence.

            You said you like emotions. I like them too. I also like saturated fat, sugar, and lovely starchy carbs. They’re –delicious-, they’re great high-density energy sources…and over-indulging in them is harmful.

            Now, all of that being said, I am sufficiently interested in IRAP to look further into them as a potential charity worth supporting, though that glassdoor result merits further investigation as well (could be a disgruntled former employee, could be something more). As for the umbrella organization, right now there are absolutely no circumstances under which I will donate funds to the ACLU or support them in any fashion.

  9. 75th says:

    I was planning on posting in an open thread asking for recommendations for refugee-focused charities. Thank you (OP and Scott both) for obviating that!

  10. Unsledgehammer says:

    So, is donating to ACLU more effective form of altruism than anti-malaria or deworming etc. charities, or even a reasonable candidate for Give Well recommendation? This post seems off from the metalevel/multifaceted/EA/etc spirit of the blog and I’m curious why it was posted. Was it just genuinely interesting/useful, a part of an overall anti-Trump effort on everything, or shaking off Trump supporter leftovers from his Trump-is-not-KKK post?

    • JulieK says:

      Perhaps the idea is, “If you want to do something to hep refugees/oppose Trump, this particular avenue is most effective.”

    • promotoriustitiae says:

      Every dollar spent helping potential immigrants is equivalent to killing kids with malaria, am I right?

      I’m not even sure they were claiming to be the most effective of the options. Surely that would be simply bribing/lobbying the right people to change policy, if you’re only interested in outcomes.

      • Chrysophylax says:

        I’m not even sure they were claiming to be the most effective of the options. Surely that would be simply bribing/lobbying the right people to change policy, if you’re only interested in outcomes.

        When the problem is a government that ignores court orders and flagrantly denies consitutional rights, bribing officials is probably not the right answer. (The breach in question being denying people legal representation, against an explicit court order.)

    • Chrysophylax says:

      I think the EA steelman would be, roughly speaking, that beggars don’t give to charity and that you can’t play the game if you break the board. The developed world is the economic engine pulling the developing world out of poverty, and the total effect of things like US immigration and imports is enormous. The USA is also the biggest player in global politics, giving Trump a lot of room to do something foolish and start a war / make a future war much more likely. If Trump adds 1 percentage point to the risk of nuclear war, replacing him with Pence would be very effective.

      If you can make a strong case that punishing the executive branch for breaching the Constitution and ignoring the judiciary is important for maintaining global stability and the economic engine, the ACLU might be doing something highly effective.

      This mostly depends on how much they hurt Trump over and above what other people would manage and on how much the damage they inflict here carries over to things that affect large numbers of people, such as tariffs, China policy and general trust in the rule of law. If they play a large role in causing Trump to become unpopular enough with Republicans to get impeached, I think you could make a case that they were a highly effective charity while they were working on it.

      You also have to worry about making things worse. Is Trump more or less impulsive when he’s in a weak position? Does he get angry about people resisting? Does he back off or double down? Does he fire his advisers when they’re associated with a PR disaster or tell him not to do something that blows up in his face? Is the ACLU making the political impact weaker by taking a leading role; could it do better by quietly helping out an explicitly right-wing civil liberties group?

      You also need to figure out how much capacity you need to build up and how much it costs. Mosquito nets work all the time, but America doesn’t usually have Trump in charge. What’s the average cost of their work?

      There’s also the problem of negative results. An electric fence is very noticeable and obviously valuable when it’s holding back an angry bull, but it’s hard to tell how much more often the bull would push against a normal fence. The ACLU rarely has a fight on this scale, but it’s hard to tell how much good they’re doing merely because prosecutors, police and suchlike know that the ACLU will fight them if given cause.

      I think that it’s probably pretty difficult to tell whether a political move is effective or not. (OpenPhil and Givewell probably have lots of papers about it that you should probably read if you’re interested in this.) Effective political moves are probably disproportionately pulling the rope sideways, or at least pulling ropes that are mostly ignored. (For example, lobbying to move some government function to an independent body that should abuse it less, or trying to get libertarians appointed as FDA Commissioner.) This gives better odds of moving the rope and better odds of pulling in the right direction.

      Personally, I donate to existential risk charities, because they seem like the longest levers, I know which direction is good and they seem under-resourced relative to their expected efficacy.

    • 75th says:

      So, is donating to ACLU more effective form of altruism than anti-malaria or deworming etc. charities

      Sometimes you need to buy a few hedons with your utils

  11. Space Viking says:

    Scott, please don’t replace your distinctively valuable blog with typical left-wing advocacy, not even written by you, like the above. We don’t need another Vox. I know it’s only one example, but I want to register my strong distaste for it before it becomes a trend.

    • bottlerocket says:

      As someone who can’t stand Trump, I wholeheartedly agree. The only “SSC-like” nugget I can salvage out of this post is a brief nod to the existence of effective altruism and the idea that positive, unique externalities can come unexpectedly from what would otherwise appear to be not-so-effective altruism.

      Notably lacking was much discussion into exactly how positive and unique this particular externality was. Consider the counterfactual where the IRAP wasn’t around. How much longer would have a response have taken? How much would the additional delay have impacted the effectiveness of the response? There’s other things people have mentioned, like the generous characterization of all 20 million of the ACLU’s donations as being out of appreciation for the ACLU as a rapid response team rather than the latest “fuck you, Trump” hype train. Overall, the effect is a pretty run-of-the-mill left wing post that really sticks out in a bad way compared to the SSC norm.

    • Zombielicious says:

      I’ll counter that and say thanks for the post. I’ve been looking for more charities and orgs to donate to, to mitigate the damage done by the current… situation. Had already started monthly donations to the ACLU and a few others, but wasn’t aware of the network of advocacy groups they (ACLU) relied on. Will definitely add IRAP to the list. Along with others (NILC, etc) – we already have a statewide local immigration group working on it where I live, since there’s a large immigrant community here.

      An ongoing effective altruism type analysis for those who think Trump is scary-dangerous and want to use their time and dollars most effectively would be pretty useful, too. Immigration is the first big target, but I expect it will be competing with many other issues before long. And as with having already given all your donations at the beginning of the year, there’s a risk of altruism-fatigue – e.g. after 9/11 everyone donated so much blood immediately that they had record shortages later that year, since blood can’t be stored indefinitely and people felt they had already done their duty at the time of the attack.

      Also, for those who think I’m brainwashed and Trump is just fine – just a reminder, you don’t have to reply.

      • Space Viking says:

        Arguing in good faith here: more important than “an ongoing effective altruism type analysis for those who think Trump is scary-dangerous and want to use their time and dollars most effectively” would be an ongoing effective altruism type analysis of whether Trump truly is scary-dangerous. That’s what I would expect to see on this blog, rather than typical left-wing advocacy. Beware of writing the bottom line first: see the old Less Wrong post “The Bottom Line” on that topic.

        I am a Trump supporter, but if I’m wrong about him, then I’d sincerely love to know about it. But I will only be convinced by strong rational arguments, and I hope that the same is true for you as well, instead of writing the bottom line first.

        And on a meta-level, there is too much time spent in EA on how to effectively execute pet causes, rather than which causes are actually best. This anti-Trump EA talk is just an object-level example of that.

        • Chrysophylax says:

          The Bottom Line is here. Here is a really good example of someone using the concept and everyone getting smarter.

          (PSA: the links were made using the Link button at the bottom of the comment window.)

          I agree with you about EA time. I think it’s important that EA be utterly scrupulous about intellectual honesty, partly for fear of getting things wrong and partly because it’s important to the long-term health and effectiveness of the movement. EA will make mistakes and needs to be able to recover. Your ethics protect you from yourself.

          I disagree with you about Trump, but I heartily endorse your position on what should determine your opinions. Most arguments against Trump are about him being unpleasant, not about him being dangerous, and being a nasty person is not in itself disastrous.

          I think the strongest arguments against Trump aren’t about his goals (which I’m not keen on) or his gaffes, but about his methods: he damages the structures that let society work, both in America and internationally.

          For the domestic part, reread this and all the rest of Scott’s similar posts, then add in the academic literature on intergroup cooperation and the paramount importance of institutions to economic growth, the legal arguments for strict rule of law (try Scalia, Popehat or the Heritage Foundation), and maybe Eliezer on the importance of not breaking the rules that keep you safe from your mistakes.

          For the international part, you should read about nuclear conflict and the game theory behind it. The key insight is that starting a nuclear war is a really bad idea, something that no sensible person would ever do voluntarily, so most political moves have very low risk here. Nukes are useful because they let you defend red lines – and it’s very important to draw them round things that you really will fight over, and not draw them around things the other guy will fight over.

          The scary things are those that cross a red line (under previous Presidents, invading a NATO member state counted, but maybe not any more) and those that look like the other guy might nuke you first. Note that the USA and USSR have had proxy wars without using nukes, whereas there have been multiple nuclear standoffs over increases in nuclear capacity (e.g. the Cuban Missile Crisis) and multiple occasions when the world nearly ended due to technical problems in early-warning systems. The best strategy for keeping us all alive is to never cross a red line, never strike first, always retaliate with a second strike and make sure everyone truly believes you follow this strategy.

          Here is a good summary of why Trump is dangerous in a way that other Presidents and candidates weren’t. In short, he’s a bit more likely to strike first, he’s more likely to cross a red line, and he’s a complete nightmare for letting everyone predict how everyone else will behave.

          • Space Viking says:

            I strongly agree with Trump’s goals, to the point where I agree his methods are not ideal, but believe his goals are important enough that they justify his methods. For example, I believe that mass immigration is an existential threat to the United States, which I can explain further if there is interest.

            I am wrong about Trump either if I’m wrong about his goals, or if his methods get out of control and start causing massive damage. Either of these are possible, but I’m not seeing the empirical evidence that would convince me. I need more than theoretical arguments.

            Regarding nuclear war, that’s the primary reason I voted for Donald Trump. I agree that he’s more dangerous than Obama on this all-important issue, but the choice was not between Trump and Obama, it was between Trump and Clinton, who was more dangerous than Trump, which again I can explain if desired.

            If you can find me a candidate in 2020 with a real shot of winning who will clearly reduce catastrophic and existential risks more than Trump, I will support that person.

            But until I’m convinced otherwise, anti-Trump stuff is clearly not effective altruism. It diverts scarce EA resources to causes that harm, not help, and on top of that risks politicizing the EA movement itself.

          • Chrysophylax says:

            I strongly agree with Trump’s goals, to the point where I agree his methods are not ideal, but believe his goals are important enough that they justify his methods.

            What goals do you agree with and why do you think they are good? How did you come to know this? That is, what is the chain of cause and effect that leads you to have justified high confidence in these beliefs?

            For example, I believe that mass immigration is an existential threat to the United States, which I can explain further if there is interest.

            I’m not sure how this can be so, unless by self-inflicted wounds. Maybe you mean something different by “existential threat”. What bad thing do you expect to happen and how did you come to know it?

            I agree that he’s more dangerous than Obama on this all-important issue, but the choice was not between Trump and Obama, it was between Trump and Clinton, who was more dangerous than Trump, which again I can explain if desired.

            Please do explain this. The theory of nuclear and the history of nuclear conflict both strongly contradict this. The history of pre-nuclear warfare also shows that ambiguity is bad: for example, both World Wars were directly caused by secret treaties. As I argued above, predictable hostility is not very dangerous, but unpredictable hostility is very dangerous. The Republican national security specialists disagreed so strongly that they said their own Presidential candidate was unfit to hold office, which is totally unprecedented. I would very much like to know how you came to know better than the expert consensus.

            But until I’m convinced otherwise, anti-Trump stuff is clearly not effective altruism. It diverts scarce EA resources to causes that harm, not help, and on top of that risks politicizing the EA movement itself.

            I have a comment about the effectiveness of political activism. I’m generally against it. I agree that politicising EA is bad.

            But I think there’s a distinction between anti-Trump and pro-law. Protesting when Trump does something you disagree with is different from protesting when Trump openly violates the Constitution and ignores court orders. Bad policy is (in most areas) not nearly as bad as damaging the thing that lets us decide policy with words instead of force. Even so, I’m not yet convinced that this is effective; and even if it is, it may not be effective on the margin, after all the non-EAs have donated to their favoured charities.

          • Space Viking says:

            Ending mass immigration alone would be enough to justify bending a few laws.

            There are the usual reasons why mass immigration is bad, which you can look up if you wish, but honestly the true reason underlying most of the others is national IQ. If you replace the American or European population with almost any foreign population, you drastically reduce the national IQ of the USA and European countries. You can read Garett Jones on why this is disastrous, and Greg Cochran on the reasons why this is even worse that Jones skips over for PC reasons.

            I acknowledge that Trump is not ideal on foreign policy, but the crux of the issue is that the only plausible nuclear war the US would be involved with is the only one with a doubtful outcome: war with the Russians. Clinton’s foreign policy stance was very anti-Russia, Trump’s foreign policy stance is very pro-Russia in comparison. See the 1964 election for why this is important.

            Trump is not ambiguous in his stance toward Russia, it is clear that he wants detente, unlike Clinton, who was talking about instituting a no-fly zone in Syria and sending offensive weapons to Ukraine and even threatening a military response to supposed cyberattacks.

            Clinton also had a proven record of warmongering; in Iraq, in Libya, and in Syria, and more recently with Russia itself, the one country where this is most dangerous. Trump has no record, but his isolationist stance makes warmongering less likely than with Clinton’s muscular interventionist stance.

            National security specialists are anti-Trump for political reasons. Full stop. I know better than the expert consensus because I’m not a partisan hack whose job depends on upholding the status quo.

            Trump has not violated the Constitution or disobeyed court orders, but if he does to prevent mass immigration I’ll forgive him for it, because it would be worth it.

            Peter Thiel has shown the way on what EAs should do about Trump: influence him, don’t oppose him. He is open to it on many issues. Thiel right now is quietly accomplishing more effective altruism than the rest of the EA movement combined. If you help Trump, he helps you. If you fight Trump, he fights you.

          • suntzuanime says:

            If you replace the American or European population with almost any foreign population, you drastically reduce the national IQ of the USA and European countries.

            There’s quite a bit of population in East Asia with IQ that’s nothing to scoff at. There’s also the option of an immigration policy that skims the cream off of other populations, so that your immigrants are higher IQ than the population you’re drawing from. Scott Aaronson was motioning towards that second point when he was complaining about his Iranian grad students being turned away. If you bring in CS graduate students, their IQ is unlikely to be much lower than the American average, no matter their country of origin.

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            I’m skeptical. Isn’t strategic ambiguity is an important tool in the arsenal of strategic planners. It practically defines our entire position on Taiwan, since Taiwan is one of the “bright red lines” for China that you mentioned.

            There are also novel positions that we cannot reasonably anticipate ahead of time. The Georgia war was one such case: were we going to do anything to help save Georgia? In retrospect, no, but that was an open question in 2008 (it hadn’t been tested) and Dubya was presented with a strike option against Russia.
            Or new cyber warfare attacks. Apparently Russia crossed a red-line we didn’t even realize existed a year ago, with its influence on the US election. The electronic attacks on one of the Baltic States were reprimanded, but what if Russia shuts down an electric grid like it did in Ukraine? What if it’s only PART of an electric grid? For 15 minutes?

            If “little green men” cross into Lithuania, are we ACTUALLY going to respond by attacking St. Petersburg? Probably not, there will be some proportionate response elsewhere.

            There’s also plenty of ways to signal defensive commitments despite strategic ambiguity. We fly bombers through the “Chinese air defense zone” but apparently we won’t fly commercial air liners: clearly we don’t take it very seriously but are hesitant to do anything to provoke a crisis. We sail ships through the SCS: yep, we’ll defend freedom of the seas, but we obviously aren’t going to do anything to stop China from fortifying the whole area.

            Great Britian’s entire nuclear strategy is strategic ambiguity, though they are admittedly a minor player.

            Clearly defined red-lines make it hard to drive harder bargains within the ZOPA. The downsides are obvious when we’re talking about global nuclear war, but a case like Iran is also obvious where Iran can create vast quantities of highly enriched uranium and essentially blackmail the world because we already have a red-line that we’re not going to attack unless they literally have a bomb (and that’s if you actually do trust that red-line). Or Syria can essentially commit mass genocide because it’s obvious the US will not do anything unless chems start firing.

            EDIT: I should probably clarify my thoughts. The above doesn’t reflect them well.
            1. Strategic ambiguity has uses.
            2. The specific case of strategic ambiguity over the Baltics was very bad.
            3. I don’t think #2 is a legitimate disqualifier of Trump.
            4. I think #3 because the majority of the cited cases were probably caused by more than strategic ambiguity.
            5. I think #4 because of cases like the Taiwan Strait or currently existing strategic ambiguity elsewhere.
            6. I don’t think strategic ambiguity is even a necessary condition for wars. Was Hitler really doubtful that the Soviets were going to fight back?
            7. To the extent strategic ambiguity exists, our intentions can (and are) signaled by displays of military strength.

          • If you replace the American or European population with almost any foreign population, you drastically reduce the national IQ of the USA and European countries.

            The usual figures on average IQ by ethnic origin show East Asian IQ somewhat above the U.S. average. Given your argument, are you in favor of unrestricted immigration from China, Vietnam, and other parts of East Asia?

            I have never seen any figures for the IQ of people from the Middle East, although you seem confident on the subject. What is your source? The only population for which I have seen serious claims that the average IQ is below the U.S. average is sub-Saharan African, and that isn’t the population for which immigration is currently a major issue.

            All of this is aside from the fact that voluntary immigration filters for relatively able and enterprising people, so might be expected to produce above average results.

            Here is a simple policy proposal: Open borders with zero welfare services for new immigrants for some extended period of time. Putting aside the question of political feasibility, would you be in favor of it? If not, why?

          • Space Viking says:

            @suntzuanime

            While that is true about East Asia, that sort of mass immigration would still mean the end of America and Europe and of Western civilization. It would be the beginning of New China and an expansion of Chinese civilization. So, not the end of the world, but the end of my world.

            As for population skimming, sure, I support that with some caveats: the numbers must be low, the IQ must be high, there must be careful screening not only for crime but for disloyalty (e.g. loyalty to the CCP is a disqualifier), and sorry, but no Muslims allowed. I don’t care if they’re screened for terrorism, it’s the second and third generations I’m more concerned about. So no Iranians unless they’re Zoroastrians.

            @DavidFriedman

            See my response to suntzuanime, plus: West Hunter, which is in Scott’s SSC blogroll, is my go-to blog on HBD; see for example the posts “Our Dumb World” and “Hive Mind”. I recommend reading the archives when you have the time, it’s a unique intellectual experience.

            My response to your claim on able and enterprising people is: see the migration crisis in Europe for a massive counterexample.

            I used to hold your view on open borders, but the IQ argument convinced me against it. I oppose your policy proposal for all the many, many problems caused by low individual IQ, which you’re well-read enough to be familiar with I’m sure, as well as the even worse problems caused by low national IQ, read Garrett Jones if you’re unfamiliar with that area, plus the additional problems with immigrants that may or may not be related to intelligence like terrorism, clannishness, and the propensity to vote for socialism. I’m continually amazed to see libertarians push a policy, mass immigration, that risks destroying libertarianism forever.

            If you’re concerned with the morality of ending mass immigration, consider that Western civilization leads the world in innovation by far. What happens to not only the West but the rest of the world if the West falls?

          • My response to your claim on able and enterprising people is: see the migration crisis in Europe for a massive counterexample.

            Which occurred into generous welfare states. My point was aimed, as the rest of the post should have made clear, at immigrants who come under the circumstances in which most past immigrants came to the U.S.–to work, produce, support themselves.

            I used to hold your view on open borders, but the IQ argument convinced me against it.

            So now that I have pointed out that the IQ argument cuts the other way–a large fraction of the would-be immigrants are from places with higher average IQ than the U.S., and if we don’t offer free money the immigrants who come will be above their population average–you should again be for open borders. With the no welfare proviso.

            So far as your worries about East Asian immigration meaning “the end of America and Europe and of Western civilization,” that doesn’t seem to fit evidence of the past. There was large scale immigration, mostly Chinese and Japanese, in the past, and the areas the immigration went into don’t seem any less civilized than the areas they did not go into. I’m in long walking range of a Chinese supermarket, a Japanese supermarket, and several restaurants of each ethnicity, and Silicon Valley seems to be making a sizable contribution to the progress of civilization.

          • Space Viking says:

            @DavidFriedman:

            No, I am only for limited immigration selective for high IQ and a few other characteristics, as I explained above to suntzuanime.

            Your open borders with no welfare would still attract hordes of low IQ immigrants looking for jobs and/or for private charity, thus it fails to address any of my concerns even aside from the characteristics of good immigrants beyond IQ. It would attract slightly above the population average of other nations, which in the vast majority of cases is still below the average of the United States. Also, immigrants to the US pre-1965 came not only overwhelmingly from high IQ nations, but overwhelmingly from Europe, from which they were better able and willing to assimilate into the United States.

            And East Asian immigration in the American past does not compare to open borders. Asians are less than 5% of the US population, and the conservative option is to keep it that way. If I wanted to live in China, I would move to China, if they allowed it, where Chinese culture and politics are dominant.

            I don’t want Chinese culture and politics dominant here. This is all the more dangerous now that the American left and much of the right are explicitly anti-assimilation and Chinese culture and politics are more confident today than they have been in centuries. Your East Asian immigrants will not magically become libertarians as they migrate here in masses of their fellow countrymen, welfare or no. See the Roman Empire for what open borders will bring you, or for a more modern example, Tibet.

          • Your open borders with no welfare would still attract hordes of low IQ immigrants looking for jobs and/or for private charity, thus it fails to address any of my concerns even aside from the characteristics of good immigrants beyond IQ. It would attract slightly above the population average of other nations, which in the vast majority of cases is still below the average of the United States.

            Can you offer support for your claims? As I already pointed out, East Asians are on average higher IQ, not lower, than Americans. What is the evidence that most of the world is lower IQ than the U.S.? Enough lower so that immigrants, self selected for being willing to try to start a new life in a foreign land, would not have IQ’s at least as high as present residents?

            You keep asserting it, but so far with no evidence.

            And East Asian immigration in the American past does not compare to open borders. Asians are less than 5% of the US population, and the conservative option is to keep it that way.

            Less than 5% of the total U.S. population, but not uniformly distributed. Asian origin is about 15% of the population of California, and almost 40% Hispanic. I haven’t observed any obvious collapse of civilization due to so many people whose ancestors came from places that future immigrants are likely to come from.

            See the Roman Empire for what open borders will bring you,

            ???

            The eventual collapse was due to armed invasion, not immigration.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Uh, I’m not sure “there’s been no obvious collapse of civilization in California” is the strongest premise to base your arguments on TBQH.

          • Space Viking says:

            @DavidFriedman:

            I have already pointed to where I get my data, which you are ignoring.

            Definitely enough lower, yes.

            California is only a small part of the United States, and you know as well as I do the state of federalism in this country. Just wait until Calexit. If you want to see another collapse of civilization in progress caused by immigration of the wrong sort, see South Africa.

            You also know as well as I do that that was only part of why the Roman Empire collapsed.

            I also notice that you have not addressed Tibet.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            David Friedman:

            Here is a simple policy proposal: Open borders with zero welfare services for new immigrants for some extended period of time. Putting aside the question of political feasibility, would you be in favor of it? If not, why?

            A lovely intuition pump. There was a time when I would have favored this (neglecting feasibility, as you said). Nowadays I would have to grit my teeth, squinch my eyes shut, and plaintively croak, “…Well…okay…but it scares the crap out of me.”

            The difference between us, I think, is that you believe, deep within your soul, that liberty is “objectively correct” and will therefore inevitably triumph over alternative narratives. My own attitude is that it is a frail and precious flower that happened to blossom in a culture resulting from a chain of many happy accidents, and that flower must be tended carefully or it will wither.

            This is one of the very few circumstances in which I find the Precautionary Principle to be applicable. Global warming? Sure, the worst scenarios might be exactly right, but if they turn out to be, then damn it, fixing it is just a (possibly huge) engineering problem. Killing the flower of liberty is different, because we have so little understanding of why it happened at all, and because once it is dead no one alive has any incentive to wish its return.

            Let me try an opposite intuition pump. Suppose over the next ten years everywhere outside the U.S. gradually became unable to support life. By your argument, all 6.5 billion people would have the moral right to move to the U.S. Suppose furthermore that we have access to a magical cornucopia so that there is no problem providing for all these refugees. There no doubt in my mind that this country would quickly cease to have much resemblance to the America we know — 6.5 billion people who have not grown up in our culture is just too big a lump to absorb.

            I presume part of the assumption behind your question is that your proposal would be self-limiting (we would not get 6.5 billion refugees) and self-filtering (a willingness to come here in the absence of a safety net is close enough to traditional American values that most of those immigrants would mostly assimilate). And that’s probably at least sort of true.

            But is it all right if I say I’d be really, really worried about it, and wonder on alternate Tuesdays if it’s really worth the risk?

          • I have already pointed to where I get my data, which you are ignoring.

            Perhaps I missed it–post the link again. You mentioned some general sources of information, in particular Garrett Jones’s work on the effect of national IQ, but I don’t think you specified a source of information on how IQ varies from country to country.

            If you want to see another collapse of civilization in progress caused by immigration of the wrong sort, see South Africa.

            Which immigration? The Zulu conquest? The Dutch settlement? The later English immigration?

            You also know as well as I do that that was only part of why the Roman Empire collapsed.

            Unlike you, I don’t know why the Roman Empire collapsed, only that what finally brought it down was foreign invasion. What is your theory and what is your reason for believing it?

            I also notice that you have not addressed Tibet.

            True. Tibet is a society that was traditionally a theocracy currently ruled over by China. I don’t know how much of the Han immigration to China reflects voluntary movement analogous to immigrants coming to the U.S., how much is government policy to maintain control–do you?

            The fact that it is controlled by a foreign power has surely changed Tibet, but that wasn’t due to immigration.

          • Space Viking says:

            @DavidFriedman:

            Here you go. For quick reference, here’s Lynn and Vanhanen’s famous map.

            South African IQ increased dramatically in the 17th century when Dutch settlers replaced the native Bushmen, but has gradually declined since the 18th century with Bantu migration, including the Zulu. English immigration slowed the decline, but did not reverse it. The end of apartheid has suddenly manifested the results of that decline, as now the population’s low IQ majority controls South African culture and politics unchecked, with predictable results in crime rate, corruption, economic decline, institutional decline, financial strain, life expectancy, a buildup to genocide, etc.

            I agree that what finally defeated the Romans was foreign invasion, but mass immigration played a pivotal role in reaching that point, and obviously there were other contributing causes. A representative example of what happened when the Romans willingly invited barbarians into their empire was the Gothic War of the 4th century.

            Also, the Roman-Jewish Wars, while mostly the result of conquest, not migration, and not a cause of the fall of the Roman Empire, are another example of conflict with an unassimilated internal population that resulted in massive death and destruction. A saying we have on the alt-right is diversity + proximity = war, because it’s a pattern that appears again and again throughout history.

            Post-1965 immigration to the United States is government policy to maintain control. Democrats and Establishment Republicans have been importing new voters to force democracy to go their way. See the recent history of American election results for proof of this. Much more of this mass immigration will give Democrats permanent control of the federal government, with native whites and the assimilated segments of minorities unable to stop their replacement and barred from self-rule, a situation analogous to Tibetans unable to stop their replacement by and the control of Han Chinese. This is a key point: to Trump supporters, the US government is becoming a foreign power, or was at least until a few weeks ago.

          • Chrysophylax says:

            @ADefiniteBetaGuy: I don’t have time to reply in full right now, sorry. My main responses are:

            1. I didn’t say that uncertainty is useless. I said it’s extremely dangerous. I maintain that the policy that minimises existential risk involves being very clear about when you will and will not use nukes.

            2. I also didn’t say that nobody uses uncertainty as a tool. This is partly about different priorities than minimising x-risk, partly about irrational behaviour (from politicians or from people they answer to) and partly about most game theory being built on causal decision theory (which can’t handle problems where A can tell things about B’s decision algorithm in ways B can’t directly control – i.e. all the interesting ones, including anything involving humans).

            3. I think you need to taboo the term “strategic ambiguity”. The relevant factor is not what you say, it’s what other people believe about how you’ll behave. If you say you’ll do A, but everyone correctly believes you’ll do B (and you know they know, and they know you know they know, and…), there’s no problem. The trouble starts when people make high-stakes decisions using faulty models of the consequences.

          • Iain says:

            South African IQ increased dramatically in the 17th century when Dutch settlers replaced the native Bushmen, but has gradually declined since the 18th century with Bantu migration, including the Zulu.

            I am impressed by your confidence here, given that the IQ test was invented in 1912.

          • @Space Viking:

            Thanks. Interesting.

            The map at your link is from the 2002 book, but the 2012 book is webbed and has a list of countries with estimated average IQ. If we ignore the argument that observed IQ is in part a result of poverty via malnutrition and other causes and take their figures as pure genetic IQ, and if we further assume that voluntary immigrants will be a little above average, your argument implies that we should have free migration from at least:

            Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Canada*, China**, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia*, Finland*, France, Germany, Hong Kong**, Hungary, Iceland, Japan**, Korea (N and S)**, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macao, Mongolia*, Netherlands*, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Singapore**, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland*, Taiwan **, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Vietnam.

            The asterisks mark countries we should especially encourage because their average IQ is noticeably higher than ours, and the double asterisks more so.

            Is that your view?

            A representative example of what happened when the Romans willingly invited barbarians into their empire was the Gothic War of the 4th century.

            That’s not an argument against inviting barbarians in, it’s an argument against inviting barbarians in, starving them to the point they were selling their children into slavery for food, and so forcing them into revolt. For the rest of that ugly story, see the account at your link.

            A saying we have on the alt-right is diversity + proximity = war, because it’s a pattern that appears again and again throughout history.

            You also get a lot of wars throughout history between groups not particularly diverse. France and England, for example, fought on and off for six hundred years or so. The Romans fought lots of wars with each other, from Sulla vs Marius through the repeated civil wars of the Empire. The English fought each other repeatedly during the same period.

            The Roman-Jewish wars were the result of Rome conquering and ruling the Jewish population of Israel. Before and after there was extensive Jewish immigration to other parts of the Empire, and it didn’t result in any wars. That’s an argument against imperialism, not immigration.

          • Space Viking says:

            @Iain:

            The IQ test was invented in 1912, yes, but intelligence was not. I am judging based on the measured IQ of those populations today, which has not changed much in a few hundred years, because intelligence does not change much in a few hundred years.

            @DavidFriedman:

            For the record, I acknowledge that part of the IQ gap is explained by environmental factors, but not most of it, and the higher, and thus more desirable, the IQ, the more genetics is causal.

            Not free migration, no, but limited immigration selective for high IQ and a few other characteristics, for the reasons I explained above, for example I don’t want to be swamped by Chinese and Russians and Vietnamese, with their different languages and cultures and politics, with the additional reason that many of those countries have minorities of undesirables like Muslims that I would wish to keep out entirely.

            I also notice that you have not addressed my non-IQ concerns, including crime, disloyalty, clannishness, propensity for socialism, and propensity to vote for stripping away any restrictions against open borders with sub-Saharan Africa, that is, for the Democrats. There is also the problem that most of the people in the nations you’ve listed have too-low IQ, which, as you know, follows a bell curve. I say most because I don’t believe that letting in hordes of IQ 105 foreigners outweighs the many disadvantages of open borders. IQ 120+ is a different story, though I still wouldn’t let in hordes because I don’t want to import a new ruling elite. Some of the problems of the low IQ mostly go away for the very-high IQ, crime; for example, but other problems are magnified, as very-high IQ people, foreign in this case, possess disproportionate cultural and political influence, cause much, much more damage when they are disloyal to the United States or are terrorists, etc.

            And I’m surprised I haven’t even mentioned the effect open borders would have on native wages! There’s also the serious domestic political consequences of mass immigration, which we already begin to see with Donald Trump, that risk civil war in America, unless immigration is drastically reduced. The same is true for Europe, but even more so.

            I also haven’t mentioned how the problems of open borders are magnified over time by higher immigrant birth rates, nor have I mentioned the cultural and political toxicity of Islam aside from terrorism, nor have I mentioned how the diversity created by mass immigration leads to yet more problems like support for affirmative action, declining social trust and social cohesion, decreased innovation, decreased out-group altruism, and increased corruption. David Friedman, I have not yet begun to fight.

            On the Goths: oh, so we shouldn’t starve our open borders migrants? Should we give them welfare, then?

            Logically, wars between the not-very-diverse do not invalidate diversity + proximity = war. And I am not conceding that French vs. English and English vs. English were not wars between diverse groups. Have you read Albion’s Seed, for example?

            Jewish migration within the Roman Empire extended the scope and destruction of the Roman-Jewish Wars; they were very much not confined to Israel.

            As for imperialism, that’s exactly what open borders does to a native population. But aside from that, in the case of the Roman-Jewish Wars, that is an argument against both imperialism and open borders if the imperialism is what caused the open borders.

            You’re fun to argue with, by the way.

          • Iain says:

            The IQ test was invented in 1912, yes, but intelligence was not. I am judging based on the measured IQ of those populations today, which has not changed much in a few hundred years, because intelligence does not change much in a few hundred years.

            The existence of the Flynn effect should give you pause, here. We don’t know what causes it yet, but most of the explanations — better education systems, better nutrition, smaller families — are highly correlated with development/industrialization. You would therefore expect a strong correlation between GDP and IQ, even if there was no genetic difference whatsoever. To pull out any additional signal from the noise, you would need an extremely careful analysis with robust data. This is not, to put it mildly, what you will get from Lynn and Vanhanen.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I’m definitely not one of those “IQ isn’t real” people, but statements about the flux of IQs in the past need to come at the end of a long line of reasoning, not at the start of it and then challenging someone to disprove them.

          • vV_Vv says:

            Which occurred into generous welfare states. My point was aimed, as the rest of the post should have made clear, at immigrants who come under the circumstances in which most past immigrants came to the U.S.–to work, produce, support themselves.

            Once you let in people with nothing to lose and they fail to find a job, they don’t tend to politely leave or starve to death. They tend to riot and/or engage in criminal activity unless you give them enough welfare to satisfy them. This isn’t just a theoretical argument, you can google immigrant riots and criminality in Europe, even in these generous welfare states.

            In principle you could let everybody in and then deport the troublemakers, but it would be terribly inefficient and expensive compared to screening people on entry.

          • Not free migration, no, but limited immigration selective for high IQ and a few other characteristics,

            Selecting on national origin along the lines I suggested gives you a flow of immigrants that raises the national average IQ, so why do you need to select on IQ beyond that?

            for the reasons I explained above, for example I don’t want to be swamped by Chinese and Russians and Vietnamese, with their different languages and cultures and politics

            We ran the experiment for about a hundred and fifty years, and the results were encouraging. I doubt that English was the birth language of any of my grandparents.

            , with the additional reason that many of those countries have minorities of undesirables like Muslims that I would wish to keep out entirely.

            Why? Since the Muslims in (I think) all of the countries I listed are a relatively small minority, you wouldn’t be getting very many. What makes you think Muslim immigrants are any more toxic than other immigrants not coming from modern developed countries, hence not sharing the somewhat unusual views typical here?

            You might want to read Sowell’s Ethnic America to get a feel for how closely the arguments you are offering parallel the arguments offered against past immigration of Irish, Italians, and Jews.

            I also notice that you have not addressed my non-IQ concerns, including crime, disloyalty, clannishness, propensity for socialism, and propensity to vote for stripping away any restrictions against open borders with sub-Saharan Africa, that is, for the Democrats.

            You think Chinese and Vietnamese and Koreans are particularly inclined to encourage immigration from sub-Saharan Africa? Or, for that matter, particularly inclined to crime? People who have lived under socialism are rather less likely to approve of it than people who haven’t–consider the voting pattern of Cuban immigrants. Or, for that matter, the background of Ayn Rand, whom you would presumably have wanted to keep out.

            There is also the problem that most of the people in the nations you’ve listed have too-low IQ, which, as you know, follows a bell curve.

            I don’t think I understand this. If it follows a bell curve, half the population is below the mean, half above. Also true for the U.S. If you let in people from a country with about the same average IQ as the U.S. you don’t change the distribution. If you let in people from countries with IQ average well above ours, two of which are on the list of countries you were objecting to above, the proportion of low IQ people in the U.S. goes down, not up.

            I say most because I don’t believe that letting in hordes of IQ 105 foreigners outweighs the many disadvantages of open borders. IQ 120+ is a different story, though I still wouldn’t let in hordes because I don’t want to import a new ruling elite.

            You don’t want stupid people, you don’t want smart people, and you don’t want very smart people–and yet you claim to base your opposition to immigration largely on IQ issues. Do you see any problem with that?

            Some of the problems of the low IQ mostly go away for the very-high IQ, crime; for example, but other problems are magnified, as very-high IQ people, foreign in this case, possess disproportionate cultural and political influence, cause much, much more damage when they are disloyal to the United States or are terrorists, etc.

            And much more good when they are loyal to the United States, or more supportive of the principles our system is built on than the average of smart people already here.

            Consider, for a short list, Eugene Volokh, Ayn Rand, Friederich Hayek.

            Reread your post and see if it doesn’t come down to “I already know my conclusion, now what arguments can I find for it”?

            And I’m surprised I haven’t even mentioned the effect open borders would have on native wages!

            Some wages would go up and some down, depending on the mix of immigrants. The usual arguments for free trade imply a net benefit for those currently here, but don’t tell you how that benefit will be distributed.

            There’s also the serious domestic political consequences of mass immigration, which we already begin to see with Donald Trump, that risk civil war in America, unless immigration is drastically reduced.

            The domestic political consequences are consequences of people making the arguments you are making, mostly with less concern than you have to whether they are true. Current immigration, relative to population, is about a third of what it was in the years before and after WWI.

            I also haven’t mentioned how the problems of open borders are magnified over time by higher immigrant birth rates,

            Are you sure you don’t mean “the additional benefit from immigrants pushing the national birth rate above replacement, and so avoiding the problems of a shrinking population”?

            nor have I mentioned the cultural and political toxicity of Islam aside from terrorism, nor have I mentioned how the diversity created by mass immigration leads to yet more problems like support for affirmative action, declining social trust and social cohesion, decreased innovation, decreased out-group altruism, and increased corruption.

            Nor have you mentioned the fact that freer immigration makes income redistribution less popular, both because people are more willing to vote redistribution to people like them and because generous welfare payments cost taxpayers more if expected to lure poor immigrants. That’s why people on the left want welfare to be federal rather than state–they worry about a “race to the bottom” as states try to discourage immigration of welfare recipients.

            I have no idea why you expect immigration to reduce innovation. Looking around me in Silicon Valley an awful lot of the innovation seems to be coming from immigrants and children of immigrants.

            On the Goths: oh, so we shouldn’t starve our open borders migrants? Should we give them welfare, then?

            We shouldn’t invite them in with a promise that we will feed them and then break that promise. In America as it now is, nobody willing to work is likely to starve, although various legal restrictions, such as licensing laws and minimum wage laws, make things harder for those near the bottom.

            Logically, wars between the not-very-diverse do not invalidate diversity + proximity = war.

            If you observe that an effect is equally common with and without a purported cause, that is a reason to doubt the claimed causation. Do you disagree?

            And I am not conceding that French vs. English and English vs. English were not wars between diverse groups. Have you read Albion’s Seed, for example?

            No, but I’ve read a good deal of medieval history. During the early parts of the French/English wars the kings of England were native speakers of Norman French, and both they and many of their nobles held land in France. English vs English wars were largely over disputed claims to the throne. Precisely what was the ethnic division between the supporters of Stephen and the supporters of Matilda, and did each of them change ethnicity every time he switched sides?

            Jewish migration within the Roman Empire extended the scope and destruction of the Roman-Jewish Wars; they were very much not confined to Israel.

            ???
            Would you like to support that?

            Where outside of the Kingdom of Israel were Jews fighting the Romans?

          • Space Viking says:

            @DavidFriedman:

            I select on IQ beyond that because IQ isn’t everything. See my above reply on why.

            It’s likely that all your grandparents were high IQ and from Europe.

            And American borders were not open for 150 years. During the briefer time the borders were open, the vast majority of immigrants were from Europe.

            Here’s a taste of why I don’t want any more Muslim immigration.

            Irish, Italians, and Ashkenazi Jews are all from Europe. That being said, the United States would be a better place today if we had selected more for high IQ and other important characteristics in the past, though technological limits would have made that difficult. Those technological limits are now gone: today the difficulty is political.

            Asian immigrants overwhelmingly vote Democrat, yes. And no, I did not say that Asians are highly inclined to crime.

            The voting patterns of Asian and Hispanic immigrants do not match your speculation. They vote overwhelmingly for the Democrats. Cuban immigrants actually support my side of this argument, since Cuban immigration is much more limited than open borders.

            Ayn Rand was a high IQ European.

            Why allow low IQ immigrants in at all?

            I want limited numbers of high IQ people, also selected on other characteristics, as I have said again and again. The “limited” is at least as important as the “high IQ”, and the other characteristics are important, too.

            Your list is all European again. Do you not realize that different civilizations have different cultures, politics, and values? Good luck finding lots of Chinese libertarians, for example, especially Chinese libertarians who are not also Chinese nationalists. And that Westerners are more likely to assimilate to Western countries than non-Westerners, especially when immigration comes all at once in huge numbers, and that large numbers of unassimilated foreigners mean that our Western institutions are themselves threatened? There is no backup copy for Western civilization.

            Oh, because I’m unconvinced by your weak counterarguments, I must be writing the bottom line first. Clearly. Try upping your game instead. For example, I have been listing reason after reason why open borders are bad, do you have any reasons why open borders are good? I strongly suspect that the bad effects outweigh the good effects, but I’m willing to be convinced otherwise. Before accusing me of irrationality, try arguing for your position instead of only arguing against mine, and then accusing me of bias when I don’t accept your flawed counterarguments.

            The net effect for native citizens would be lower wages, as it is for free trade.

            Have you considered that our arguments might be correct?

            Your claim on current immigration relative to population is false. The percentage today is nearly as high as it’s ever been, and climbing.

            Replacement with an inferior population is not a solution to a shrinking native population. Nor is replacement with a superior population, or would you support colonizing sub-Saharan Africa with Europeans and Asians? Not that I concede that a higher IQ population is necessarily a superior population: there is also culture, politics, values, clannishness, etc.

            Freer immigration makes income redistribution more popular, because most immigrants vote for the left.

            Ah, you’re making my argument for me again, this time on innovation. Yes, Silicon Valley is indeed a good argument for limited, high IQ immigration, which I support.

            Open borders immigrants will expect that we feed them whether we promise it or not. Keep in mind that this entire argument is based on the highly unrealistic assumption of open borders with no welfare. Even if we’re keeping that silly assumption, are we also assuming open borders with no welfare, with no possibility of immigrants quickly demanding welfare and getting it, through voting, protests, riots, crime sprees, and other techniques?

            I disagree that you naming a few examples of not-very-diverse war outweighs the much more numerous examples of diversity + proximity = war.

            Re-read the link to the Roman-Jewish Wars I provided above. Cyprus and Cyrenaica are not in Israel.

          • This is getting too long, but I can resist anything but temptation.

            And American borders were not open for 150 years. During the briefer time the borders were open, the vast majority of immigrants were from Europe.

            Overall immigration was not restricted until the 1920’s, so about 150 years. Starting in the late 19th century there were some restrictions on Chinese immigration, none on immigration from Mexico or Latin America or the Middle East.

            That being said, the United States would be a better place today if we had selected more for high IQ and other important characteristics in the past,

            Maybe. It would have been a much smaller population, and the characteristics would have been whatever appealed to the people making the rules at the time–at various points against Catholics, Irish, Italians and Jews given the actual history of anti-immigration sentiment.

            Your argument is that the country is better off with a higher average IQ, which might be true. But it was also better off with more people. And even if (say) per capita income is higher with higher average IQ, that doesn’t mean anyone is better off–there is a fallacy of composition there. In our current society, IQ surely correlates with income. So if you eliminated the bottom half of the IQ distribution and nobody’s income changed, the average per capita would go up.

            The voting patterns of Asian and Hispanic immigrants do not match your speculation. They vote overwhelmingly for the Democrats.

            The question is why. For the Hispanics, the obvious reason is that the Republicans have been more hostile to Hispanic immigration than the Democrats. The exception was Bush, and he did fairly well on the Hispanic vote, although still not a majority.

            Cuban immigrants actually support my side of this argument, since Cuban immigration is much more limited than open borders.

            It’s limited on the Cuban end. I may be mistaken, but my impression is that it is closer to open borders on the American end than immigration from anywhere else, although I gather Obama recently changed that policy.

            Ayn Rand was a high IQ European

            .

            From one of the countries with low average IQ. Eugene Volokh too.

            Why allow low IQ immigrants in at all?

            Because as long as you don’t have a welfare state, what people consume is what they produce. Someone producing half as much as I do and consuming half as much is not making me worse off.

            Your list is all European again. Do you not realize that different civilizations have different cultures, politics, and values? Good luck finding lots of Chinese libertarians, for example,

            A few years back I gave talks to audiences in Seoul, Shanghai and Hong Kong. I don’t know about “lots” but the audiences were friendly to what I was saying.

            Chinese and Japanese immigrants in the past have been hard working, entrepreneurial, an asset to the country. Why do you expect things to be different this time?

            I have been listing reason after reason why open borders are bad, do you have any reasons why open borders are good?

            Because people benefit by voluntary exchange. Gains from trade. There are lots of people in the world who would be happy to work here doing things the present residents would like done but are not willing to pay U.S. wages for. There are lots of people in the world who would be happy to start businesses from which the rest of us could benefit.

            Your claim on current immigration relative to population is false. The percentage today is nearly as high as it’s ever been, and climbing.

            Peak immigration was about a million a year into a population of about a hundred million. The equivalent today would be about three million a year. The figure for 2014 is 1.3 million, so less than half.

            Replacement with an inferior population is not a solution to a shrinking native population. Nor is replacement with a superior population, or would you support colonizing sub-Saharan Africa with Europeans and Asians? Not that I concede that a higher IQ population is necessarily a superior population: there is also culture, politics, values, clannishness, etc.

            And what makes you assume that the current population of the U.S. is superior to potential immigrants? Anyone willing to leave his homeland and come here, assuming we do not offer welfare support, is demonstrating a higher level of enterprise than the U.S. average. I’ve offered a list of countries with higher average IQ.

            You seem to be going on the conservative assumption that change is automatically bad.

            There is a feature of your argument that I find puzzling. As I understand your view, the current U.S. government is mostly moving in the wrong direction, with Trump a rare exception. Isn’t that evidence against your high opinion of the average quality of its population?

            Freer immigration makes income redistribution more popular, because most immigrants vote for the left.

            Whether immigrants vote for the left depends on what policies the parties follow and who the immigrants are. My point is that, from the standpoint of people currently here, freer immigration makes redistribution more costly.

            I am happy to provide that new immigrants don’t get to vote for a decade or two, by which time, if we don’t offer welfare, most of them will be in a position where redistribution is from not to.

            Open borders immigrants will expect that we feed them whether we promise it or not.

            Why? Nobody is feeding them in the places most of them come from. They can feed themselves generously by their standards by working.

            Keep in mind that this entire argument is based on the highly unrealistic assumption of open borders with no welfare.

            I am happy to agree that open borders are a problem if we offer all immigrants generous welfare payments, as some of the European countries have been doing.

            Even if we’re keeping that silly assumption, are we also assuming open borders with no welfare, with no possibility of immigrants quickly demanding welfare and getting it, through voting, protests, riots, crime sprees, and other techniques?

            I am assuming that new immigrants can’t vote, and I don’t expect them to be well enough coordinated to demand things via mob action. Especially if they come from a variety of different countries.

            I disagree that you naming a few examples of not-very-diverse war outweighs the much more numerous examples of diversity + proximity = war.

            That they are more numerous is your assertion, for which no evidence has been offered. Your original claim was that they were numerous, to which the response that so are wars without diversity is an adequate rebuttal.

            Re-read the link to the Roman-Jewish Wars I provided above. Cyprus and Cyrenaica are not in Israel.

            The link says at the beginning that some use Roman-Jewish wars to describe the two wars that occurred in Israel, others include the Kitos war, of which I was not aware. I agree that that one was a consequence of immigration. The other two were consequences of imperialism.

          • @Space Viking:

            A meta point on our argument.

            There are two different issues. One is whether a policy of restrictive immigration is desirable. The other is whether the particular policy of restrictive immigration that you propose is desirable.

            When I make an argument about how immigration would have been restricted in the past on the evidence of the sentiments of past opponents of immigration, it is relevant to the first but not the second.

            You make an analogous distinction when you point out that my argument depends on the absence of welfare, and that that is unlikely.

          • Space Viking says:

            @DavidFriedman:

            Agreed that this is getting too long. This is my final response in this thread, but I’m sure the issue will come up on Slate Star Codex again. It is the issue of our time.

            Agreed that a higher IQ population would be smaller. I have not yet mentioned that I treat high IQ fertility as a massive positive externality, to be treated by government policy as such.

            Agreed that it’s best that the mid-19th century nativist movement was not successful, but we have learned from the mistakes of the past.

            There are many, many benefits to both high individual and national IQ beyond income. Both are fascinating topics, I recommend looking into them. Learn more HBD as well, that’s an up-and-coming area.

            But when you poll Hispanic voters, immigration, while being an issue of concern to them, is not one of their top issues.

            Chinese immigrants being conscientious does not console me. Americans immigrating to Mexican Texas before 1835 were hard working, too!

            And one concern I have not brought up: what do you do with all these open-borders-with-no-welfare immigrants as automation eliminates their jobs?

            I see different data on the peak immigration question.

            Agreed that I’m going on the conservative assumption that change is automatically bad. It usually is. I’m not conceding this, but for the sake of argument let’s say that open borders would probably not destroy Western civilization, but still presents a plausible risk of it. Then I’m still against it, because it’s not worth the risk. Again, there is no backup copy for Western civilization. If your risk tolerance is different, I understand. I won’t attack you for that, but I won’t agree with you either. If, by the way, you can convince China to open their borders instead, more power to you.

            The quality of the US population has significantly declined since the 1965 Hart-Cellar Act, which has dramatically changed the demographics of the United States, lowering the national IQ and changing the culture and politics of the country for the worse.

            I would actually be willing to accept your open borders with no welfare scheme if it were also true that immigrants and their descendants are never allowed to vote unless they meet strict standards. But such a scheme would be wildly politically improbable to be instituted in the first place, and it would never last. You’re not the first libertarian I’ve heard suggest this idea, and it still surprises me that any libertarian could ever have so much faith in government as to believe that open borders with no welfare and no voting would be a stable policy over time. See the history of any democratic country to see how voting rights and welfare tend to expand, not contract or remain the same, over time. I understand and appreciate the idealism of libertarians, but I am a pragmatist.

            You might respond that my immigration scheme is improbable too, and it is, though not nearly as improbable as yours. My response is that the closer I can get to it, the better. On the other hand, my scheme is actually moderate for the alt-right, and we are gaining in power every day, so we’ll see.

            OK, then I agree that our disagreement on the Roman-Jewish Wars was over a misunderstanding.

            And that wraps it up. I’m sure we can agree that we look forward to Scott’s inevitable immigration post, something he’s indicated that he’s been working on. Thank you, David Friedman, for the stimulating debate. God bless.

          • @Space Viking:

            I see different data on the peak immigration question.

            That graph is on what percentage of the population is foreign born. My claim was about number of immigrants coming in each year relative to the total population.

            Life expectancy is longer than it was in 1912, so the current foreign born number represents the cumulative effect of more years of immigration.

            If your assumption is that someone born elsewhere is a permanent problem, then your statistic is relevant. If you believe, as I think the past evidence suggests, that people acculturate substantially although not completely in the first generation, then it’s recent immigrants that are the problem and my statistic is more relevant.

            Persuading people to accept open borders is harder than persuading them that immigrants should not get the vote for a substantial period of time, since the latter is already law–five years as a permanent resident. Increasing that shouldn’t be all that hard.

            Getting rid of the welfare state or drastically reducing it would be difficult. I’m not sure if getting people to agree on greatly reduced welfare for non-citizens would be all that hard. In my preferred version, the non-citizens also pay reduced taxes since they are not eligible for some of what taxes pay for.

            Incidentally, essentially all of this was in a chapter of a book I wrote more than forty years ago.

            I expect my views on the general issue of immigrants are affected by personal experience as well as theory. I knew four immigrants, two from Eastern Europe (one my thesis sponsor, one my uncle), one from Russia and one from Japan who ended up as professors at the University of Chicago.

            One of our friends is a second generation Chinese immigrant married to a second generation eastern European immigrant. She is almost entirely acculturated, although she does speak a village dialect of Cantonese as well as (native speaker) English. Her children are entirely acculturated.

            In this area, it’s common to see someone who is East Asian by appearance, a normal American by speech and observed behavior.

            So many of your worries strike me as fantasies.

          • @Doctor Mist:

            In this case, as in the global warming case, one problem with “doing this might have terrible effects” is that not doing it also might have terrible effects.

            We do not know what the conditions are that create or destroy our present free society and there is no obvious reason to assume that if we try to maintain stasis it will be stable, some reason to think it will not. Our present society, after all, grew out of an environment with continued large immigration. It’s possible that more immigration will destabilize it, but also possible that not having continued immigration will destabilize it.

        • Zombielicious says:

          @Space Viking:

          I actually got into a debate on EA and veganism here a long time ago, where one of the recurring responses was that EA is only about how to be effective towards promoting your values, and is agnostic about what values you should support. I disagree with this, as it seems you do too, but worth keeping in mind that the debate would end with a lot of people as soon as you asked the question “what are the best causes for EA to support?”

          As for the rest, a full account of all the evidence I’ve seen that the Trump admin is “scary-dangerous” would be insanely long, to the point where I’d be far better off just writing it is a separate article or blog post somewhere else, not an SSC comment – it would have more permanence that way. Judging from what I read of your conversation with Chrysophylax, a lot of my arguments would be irrelevant to you anyway, since it looks like we fundamentally disagree about multiculturalism and related issues. I still think I could make the case that, even if you assume multiculturalism, or mass-immigration, is an existential threat to the U.S., Trump is still scary-dangerous due to the sheer incompetence and poor strategy he’s employed. (Fwiw I’ve been following the whole situation pretty damn closely since he was inaugurated.)

          One specific thing I’d challenge you on though: that Trump is in some way anti-war, or less so than Clinton would have been. So far, based on appointments and diplomacy and other things, it seems like the administration is heavily intent on war with Iran. I don’t know if they’ll be able to achieve that – declaring war is Congress’ job, after all – but it looks like that’s shaping up to be the primary foreign policy objective right now (can provide evidence and sources if necessary, but I’d rather save that effort for if I do ever write the full comprehensive “Trump is scary-dangerous” argument). Not that I know for sure what they’ll decide to do, and maybe it’s all just sabre rattling that will blow over, but unless that’s part of your desired vision it seems like something to be seriously worried about. It’s even more concerning considering the degree to which Trump seems determined to keep literally all his campaign promises, no matter how stupid or irrational or ill-advised (e.g. categorically banning people, no exceptions even for green card holders or Iraqi generals or the former prime minister of Norway…), and his campaign rhetoric about “why do we have nuclear weapons if we can’t use them?” You would hope that was one of the “take him seriously, but not literally” things, but look at how well that has worked out so far. Everything else we were told was “not meant literally” was, in fact, meant literally.

          I guess I’m saying it’s shaping up to be the most pro-war administration since at least Richard Nixon, and regardless of your views on other things, not wanting more stupid wars seems like at least one thing we can agree on.

          • Space Viking says:

            War with Iran is my greatest plausible fear with a Trump administration, so yes, I do agree with you there.

            That being said, Clinton was still clearly the pro-war candidate overall, and most importantly toward Russia. I prefer Trump on war and peace and nuclear risk to Hillary.

            Looking on the bright side, Trump stays in touch with his base, and his base is clear about no more foreign wars (except for ISIS, which is fine). He knows that another quagmire in the Middle East will ruin his 2020.

          • Machina ex Deus says:

            categorically banning people, no exceptions even for … the former prime minister of Norway…

            Whereas I say it’s about effing time we stood up to those Snow Iranians. And when we invade Norway, we’re definitely taking the oil.

    • stillnotking says:

      If legal advocacy for refugees is considered on par with Vox’s “here’s why right-wingers are mentally ill” style of “journalism”, we’re pretty far down the rabbit hole. IRAP does valuable work for real people. The fact that that work has become a political football isn’t their fault, nor would I expect their spokespeople to maintain a studious neutrality.

      I dunno. Perhaps it’s personal bias, but I think I’d feel the same if the charity were for persecuted Christians in Nigeria or something. I’m quite confident that any organization Scott has vetted is legitimate and deserving.

      • Jiro says:

        I don’t know about the organization itself, but the guest poster promoting it just claimed that she was genuinely afraid that Trump would destroy the US’s functional government and economy. That’s far past not maintaining a studious neutrality. That’s utter nonsense and in the same ballpark as claiming that right-wingers are mentally ill.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          We right-wingers have been worried about the left destroying the US’s functional government and economy for ages. We had a thread a few back about how leftism was going to lock humanity into an endless stagnated hellscape. I’m in a couple discussions about the left normalizing political violence right now. It’s a contentious world out there.

          • Jiro says:

            We had a thread a few back about how leftism was going to lock humanity into an endless stagnated hellscape.

            That covers an indefinite timeframe, and is about the left in general, not a specific individual.

            If someone in the discussion had said in 2012 that Obama would turn the world into an endless stagnated hellscape during his term in office (and insisted that he genuinely meant exactly that), that would be equally nonsensical.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Jiro – “That covers an indefinite timeframe, and is about the left in general, not a specific individual.”

            I recognize the distinction, and find that it is not meaningful to me.

            You’ve been on a kick lately about pointing out ways that Scott is biased, or uncharitable, or whatever. Probably you are going to continue on that kick, but for what it’s worth, I’m at least nominally on your side and I think it’s silly.

          • carvenvisage says:

            @facelesscraven

            If* someone is on an irrational kick lately, I would expect using dismissive diminutives like ‘silly’ to characterise them would tend to exacerbate rather than ameliorate such a tendency.

            *note that this is a conditional.

        • tscharf says:

          genuinely afraid that Trump would destroy the US’s functional government

          Things like not even showing up for committee votes for example, or rejecting candidates before you even know who they are, or having riots when someone has views different than theirs that they can’t bear to have others hear, or…

          Wait, I think I’m getting confused.

          It’s pretty clear that the definition of democracy to some starts and ends with “my side winning”.

          • deciusbrutus says:

            Pointing out that the visible signs of breakdown were happening before doesn’t make the breakdown not happen.

      • Ilya Shpitser says:

        Let’s even leave aside that Trump/Bannon actually _are_ unique threats to the Republic, and if left unchecked, will create a fire so large that our minor differences of opinion will matter not one iota.

        Scott/guest are not even doing political advocacy. They are just saying: “conditional on you agreeing with first sentence, here is an argument for donating here specifically.” It’s the difference between arguing for “p(X) is high” and arguing “p(Y | X) is high.”

        • Jiro says:

          Implicature would lead one to conclude that the speaker considers the condition to be true. People don’t normally say “if you believe (conclusion thought by the speaker to be false), you should X” unless they are doing it to refute the false conclusion or some similar specific reason.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            Of course he thinks it’s true — that’s his prerogative. But the way implications work, if you think the precondition is false, he isn’t talking to you. Nor is he advocating explicitly for the precondition being true, which would be “political slant.”

          • Michael Watts says:

            I find that I consider assuming that a political position is true to be more politically slanted than arguing that the same position is true.

    • wysinwygymmv says:

      I don’t understand how this detracts from SSC at all. Presumably, since it was a guest post, it isn’t actually preempting any SSC content, so you can’t be complaining about that. And if it’s an honest argument made in good faith, then it doesn’t seem to contradict the general ethics of SSC.

      Is it just because you don’t like to see SSC advocating for positions you don’t agree with? I don’t understand what’s “distasteful” about Scott using his blog to express his views or to allow guest posts he agrees with.

      • AnonEEmous says:

        dude

        just read the post he wrote carefully

        • wysinwygymmv says:

          I did, and I don’t understand it, so I asked for a clarification. What do you think I’m missing that would obviously answer my question?

          • AnonEEmous says:

            Oh, sorry. I don’t like this replies system, but user bottlerocket kind of laid it out:

            “As someone who can’t stand Trump, I wholeheartedly agree. The only “SSC-like” nugget I can salvage out of this post is a brief nod to the existence of effective altruism and the idea that positive, unique externalities can come unexpectedly from what would otherwise appear to be not-so-effective altruism.”

            It’s nothing to do with pre-empting SSC content, but rather, it’s just not like current SSC content. And though I actually didn’t mind this piece at all, it’s definitely not link current SSC content. In that regard, if this blog were to become host to only or mostly this type of content, that would be a loss, not only to a lot of other people but also to me (because I like SSC content)

      • Space Viking says:

        Bottlerocket’s reply explained my reasoning admirably.

    • AlphaCeph says:

      Maybe Scott intends to invite someone who isn’t a fan of effectively helping Migrants coming to the west? I think that would be a valuable perspective. Only if it is well written, though

      • Many of the best reasons are those mentioned on secular right blogs, which Scott appears to be minimizing his serious talk of in order to deal with his increased social media presence and online popularity.

    • Error says:

      I don’t see Scott arguing against Trump as any more partisan than his arguing against the social justice movement. Then again, I agree with him on both issues. Others probably see it differently.

      (I’d have preferred an actual written-by-Scott post, but eh, it wouldn’t be the first time he’s run guests)

      I’m occasionally reminded that, for every feminist blowhard complaining about the patriarchy online, there are far more doing useful ground-level stuff, like running battered-women’s shelters and abortion clinics or whatever; and I shouldn’t judge the movement by its noisiest members.

      I found this post of value in the same way. It’s a reminder that, while twitter rage-mobs may be the most visible face of the social justice movement these days, that’s mostly GIFT in action. There are real people doing real work on the ground. I find that easy to forget.

      Edit: This isn’t so much an endorsement of the goals involved as noting differences in the way they’re approached. I have a much easier time respecting someone who works for a goal I disagree with than someone whose contribution to a cause mostly involves “look how evil Team Bad is being today!”. This is almost orthogonal to the cause itself.

    • leoboiko says:

      To express my support for this kind of post, I’ve just pledged a $10 monthly donation to the IRAP (screenshot).

      N.B. I am already donating to a refugee-friendly human rights NGO in my country, and I was planning to donate more and volunteering regardless. This post isn’t the cause of me wanting to help immigrants; it just pointed me towards an organization deserving donations, which was exactly the information I needed.

    • Andrew says:

      It’s virtually guaranteed that the biggest impact this blog has had on the world is via the tiny number of posts he does on charity, which has moved a number of people, including myself, to become effective altruists.

      He used to do more charity posts (which was still very very few), and was beginning to wonder if he felt he’d already said everything interesting there was to say. I don’t think this will affect my allocation, but I’m happy for the perspective, and if Scott can convince me I can do better with my money, I want him to do so.

    • I think Scott’s goal is to make this place friendly to liberals, since that has been a big complaint (and even perhaps something that holds his blog back from wider appeal?). He has also openly spoken about how he is unhappy to have received Coulter reblogs, and was also reblogged by Scott Adams (in favor of Trump).

      Enough posts like this could be a sort of ‘poison pill’ preventing his blog from every being accepted by more alt-right factions of the internet.

      Just my wild guess.

      • Space Viking says:

        I really hope this is not the case. I’m on the alt-right, and I support Trump, and I’m a rationalist, a transhumanist, and a long-time fan of this blog. I see no tension between these positions, but am I nevertheless no longer welcome here because of my politics?

        • Spookykou says:

          Based on the last post he actually wrote I don’t think he wants ‘you’ to leave.

          • Space Viking says:

            Could you explain that further, please?

          • Spookykou says:

            I thank G-d for the annoying obstructionists, for the nitpickers, for the devil’s advocates, for the people who hear something that’s obviously true and strain to come up with an absurd thought experiment where it might not be, for the reflexive contrarians, for the people who always vote third party, for the people who urge you to sign petitions on whitehouse.gov because “then the President has to respond”, for the people who have two hundred guns in their basement “just in case”, for the people who say “well, actually…” all the time, for the mayors of sanctuary cities and the clerks who refuse to perform gay weddings, for the people who think being banned on Twitter is a violation of their human rights, and for the people who swear eternal hostility to other people on the same side who agree with them on 99% of everything. On the spectrum from “totally ungovernable” to “vulnerable to Nazism”, I think that we’ve erred in the right direction.

            The last paragraph of the last post by Scott. I could be reading too much into it, but if I did disagree with Scott about anything, I would see this as reassurance that he wanted me to stick around anyways.

          • Space Viking says:

            Yeah, that’s a sensible interpretation. Thanks.

        • On his tumblr he has said he views the alt-right as irredeemable and basically horrible. But I can’t speak to what he wants.

          • suntzuanime says:

            There’s a lot of definitional gerrymandering going on over the term “alt-right”. I’m assuming he was using the term in a narrow sense, to refer to the irony-nazi cuck-shouters. If he was using it in the broad sense, to refer to the Trump wing of the right, that would be very unusually uncharitable for him.

        • carvenvisage says:

          Ignoring that this is just speculation, that’s not what the post you’re replying to says. Using liberal posts to prevent his blog getting wide/general traction in the alt right, wouldn’t mean individual members of the alt right aren’t welcome.

          To put it another way, group level political repositioning wouldn’t mean that individual members of groups being distanced from are suddenly barred.

      • TenMinute says:

        I can’t imagine it working.
        We’re sometimes forced to sit through entire episodes of late night television while faking enjoyment. Scott would have to reduce his blog to that before it wouldn’t be worth reading.

    • deconstructionapplied says:

      To register my support for Scott’s post I’m donating $25 to the organisation. Maybe you should think of a better way to register your distaste than complaining in a comment.

  12. jhertzlinger says:

    The good news: According to The Nation, it will soon be legal for a church to shelter an illegal alien (Exodus 22:21).

    • albertborrow says:

      I’ll hold off on my judgment of that decision until it actually becomes a decision and ceases to be posturing, like anything else Trump has said.

      • deciusbrutus says:

        I for one welcome the idea that I would be free to do anything that I held a sincerely held belief about at the time.

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      That’s fantastic. Odds are that if a church and not the State shelters a Muslim immigrant, they’ll evangelize them. Of course Episcopalians may take advantage of such a rule too, but we can’t have everything.

      • Deiseach says:

        Churches are already involved in resettling refugees; I saw a figure that 70% are resettled by voluntary bodies which are mainly run by church ministries:

        For resettlement in the U.S., the International Organization for Migration and U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement work with voluntary agencies like the International Rescue Committee or Church World Service to resettle refugees. These voluntary agencies have offices across the country, dispersing refugees across many states. For example, Church World Service has resettlement programs in 21 states, while the International Rescue Committee has resettlement programs in 15 states. Once resettled, local nonprofits such as ethnic associations and church-based groups help refugees to learn English and job skills. After 90 to 180 days, financial assistance from federal agencies stops and refugees are expected to become self-sufficient.

        Five of the nine voluntary agencies the US Office of Refugee Resettlement partners with are religiously affiliated:

        Church World Service (CWS)
        Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM)
        Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
        Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (LIRS)
        United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)
        World Relief Corporation (WR)
        Ethiopian Community Development Council (ECDC)
        International Rescue Committee (IRC)
        US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI)

  13. Jiro says:

    Keeping promises we made as a country? How exactly is it possible to even make promises as a country?

    • suntzuanime says:

      How is it possible to even make promises as a person, lol

    • JulieK says:

      Isn’t that what treaties are?

      • Jiro says:

        I’m pretty sure this blogpost isn’t talking about treaties.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          Would you agree that Law should not be capricious?

        • HeelBearCub says:

          @Jiro:
          As much as you nitpick people for exactness, I would think you would appreciate that “How exactly is it possible to even make promises as a country?” is a statement that can be easily challenged.

    • beleester says:

      You could quite fairly describe a green card as a promise our government made to grant certain rights to a person. And you could quite fairly call an order removing those rights without warning a violation of that promise.

      • Evan Þ says:

        True.

        Legally, it’s not a promise; we reserve the right to deny the green card holder admission for any reason or even none at all.

        Practically, it is a promise – people treat it as such and build their lives around it. Suddenly denying the practical promise will disrupt lives, with countless emotional and economic consequences that will reverberate through the years as people will need to guard against the possibility of this maybe happening again.

        • Jliw says:

          I have a lot of sympathy for that situation. I’m not a big “world without borders” fan or anything, to borrow another commenter’s turn of phrase, but my wife and I have absolutely built our lives around the assumption that she will obtain and hold a green card provided we follow the rules and are honest and harmless. That’s the implicit promise, I think, and if we (US) were to yank South American cards suddenly, we (us) would be extremely bitter about it forever after — not to mention financially destroyed (more than usual) and generally bewildered.

        • deciusbrutus says:

          No, we don’t.

          We reserve quite a few rights about revoking Visa status based on law. We don’t reserve any rights based on fiat.

          Go ahead-look at the law and see if there’s any provision for revoking any status for no reason at all.

        • deconstructionapplied says:

          “Legally, it’s not a promise; we reserve the right to deny the green card holder admission for any reason or even none at all.”

          [Citation needed]

        • carvenvisage says:

          Practically, it is a promise – people treat it as such and build their lives around it

          The former may be the case but what follows after the dash seems to be a poor argument for it. Lots of people will pretend or misrember others as having promised things which they actually only said they might be able to do, often with the intention/calculation of it being too much hassle for the non-promiser to establish that they didn’t promise such a thing per se.

    • YehoshuaK says:

      That’ not nice. You’re not supposed to think the rhetoric through.

  14. jasongreenlowe says:

    Thanks for the briefing! I donated $50, and I’m glad to have the chance to help efficiently.

  15. Tibor says:

    While I know that the US president has a lot of power, it surprises me how much power he actually has. Also, if that account is true, I am very surprised that the administration ignores a court ruling. On the other hand, I should not be THAT surprised, this happens in Europe as well, most notably the Polish government seems to have done that recently. And of course the EU rules (which is not quite the same as court orders, but anyway) are broken by anybody (particularly Germany and France) whenever it suits them and whenever they have enough political capital to afford that (this is by far my biggest issue with the EU as it functions today). Essentially, this means that if the French and German governments can agree on something, any EU rules can be broken ad libitum.

    I think the biggest problem in the US is that both the Republicans and the Democrats are all about limiting the presidential power…as long as they are in the opposition. The moment they manage to get their horse to the Oval office they throw all these petty libertarian concerns out of the window. It would be nice to compare the amount of power Thomas Jefferson had in the office to that of Obama or Trump. Perhaps there are some articles online that do just that?

    I would like to think that the left (and parts of the right) will find Trump so unbearable that they will remember it as a lesson of why the president (and by extension the government) should have very limited powers only. But it seems for most of them the problem is that “the other guys are horrible and ideally should not be even allowed to get the power” rather than the amount of power the government wields in the first place.

    • YehoshuaK says:

      People are hypocrites. You’re surprised? Also, I’m sure that the left will push presidential power as far they can whenever they have it, and so I feel my side must do the same when we have it, or we will simply be trampled. I imagine that lefties feel the same in the other direction.

      • Tibor says:

        I wonder if, hypothetically, the Libertarian party managed to get their candidate elected, whether they would show a similar pattern. I think it is at least less likely, because the opposition to government power is the core of Libertarian (and libertarian) platform, whereas it is either a minor or a non-existing concern for the Reps. and Dems.

        • YehoshuaK says:

          “I wonder if, hypothetically, the Libertarian party managed to get their candidate elected, whether they would show a similar pattern.”

          Considering that the most recent Libertarian nominee for President said during the party debates that he would favor forcing a Jewish baker to provide a Nazi-themed cake if that were requested, because discrimination, and said later that he was uncomfortable with religious freedom–I believe the term he used was “black hole”–yes, they would. Don’t confuse the Libertarian party with serious libertarians.

          • I thought that position by Gary Johnson was unfortunate, don’t know if it was his real view or an attempt to avoid turning off potential voters. The general pattern of the campaign this year seemed to be “this is our chance to get a substantial number of votes, don’t blow it by taking positions unpopular with the target audience.” Not what I would have advised, but understandable.

            On the other hand, Gary Johnson was a governor for two terms, so you could presumably look at his record and see whether he in fact increased or decreased state power at the state level.

          • YehoshuaK says:

            On the other hand, Gary Johnson was a governor for two terms, so you could presumably look at his record and see whether he in fact increased or decreased state power at the state level.

            Yeah, you could, but I wasn’t so much criticizing Gary Johnson the politician, as the Libertarian party that heard him express these very un-libertarian views and then nominated him for President.

          • YehoshuaK says:

            @DavidFriedman

            I wrote a lengthy response to you elsewhere on this page explaining why I do think that the left specifically want to hurt me (and religious people generally), but that entire chain seems to have disappeared. I suspect my filter.

            If you are able to see it and choose to respond, I would greatly appreciate your posting your response here, in hopes that I might be able to see it, or better yet, emailing it to me directly at yehoshua.kahan.personal@gmail.com

          • @YehoshuaK:

            Your post appeared farther down the page.

            Your basic argument is that you think the Obama administration, and perhaps the Democratic party and the left in general, are hostile to religion. The evidence is the attempt to force Catholic nuns to provide health insurance that covered abortions and the fact that your religion considers sodomy a capital offense, which is inconsistent with left of center (and most other current) views, and is suspicious of government.

            The first seems to me evidence that those responsible wanted the broadest application they could get of a law they approved of, not that they cared about the particular people it applied to. It is evidence that they didn’t mind forcing religious people to do something those people claimed was inconsistent with their religion, but that only requires them not to take other people’s religious beliefs seriously, which is well short of having their destruction as the highest priority.

            The second might be a reason to want to destroy your religion if there was any significant chance that it would be in a position to put those particular rules into practice. That is an argument used by the right, not the left, against immigration of Muslims. But orthodox Jews–orthodox enough to want to impose a rule from the Talmud that is wildly inconsistent with current popular views–are not a significant voting block in modern day America, so destroying them is unlikely to be a high priority.

            At a slight tangent … . As you surely know, the law is in accordance with the latest authorities. The fact that something is in Torah does not imply that current Halakhic authorities will back it. I refer you to Maimonides’ detailed explanation of why the requirements to stone a disobedient son will never be satisfied, which I believe echoes a similar claim somewhere in the Talmud.

          • Iain says:

            As an aside: in Little Sisters of the Poor, the Obama administration was not trying to force nuns to buy contraceptives. It was merely asking that they fill in a form indicating that they had an objection to pay for contraceptives, which would in turn trigger separate government-funded coverage for any of their employees who wanted access to contraceptives. (You may ask: why would nuns need contraceptives? I would reply: if none of their employees ever wanted contraceptives, what were the Little Sisters of the Poor even worried about?)

      • wysinwygymmv says:

        I am one lefty who disagrees and wants to see executive powers curtailed regardless of who is in the white house.

        • Tibor says:

          I should have said by and large (I’m not trying to be dismissive, if you think that that is not true on average, I’d like to be convinced of it 🙂 )

          • wysinwygymmv says:

            I don’t think it is true on average, but I would rather try to build consensus around good principles than play the bullshit red tribe/blue tribe game. So I’m announcing my existence hoping that encourages other people to rally around the same principle.

          • cuke says:

            Data point #2. I am another lefty who wants to see executive power curtailed regardless of who is in the white house. I almost never comment here because of the general tone, but thought I would add my data point to this.

          • xq says:

            I’m a lefty who wants to see executive power expanded regardless of who is in the white house. It’s important that the government is responsive to voters. If the voters want Trumpism, they should get it (though the electoral college is not the best way of measuring that), and then decide in four years whether that’s really what they want based on the results. The feedback function of democracy breaks if you block the president from carrying out their agenda.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @xq, why can’t they elect a Trumpist Congress in that case?

          • xq says:

            @Evan, they can. My side can’t elect a congress friendly to our views, however, due to gerrymandering. The bias in the electoral college is bad, but nowhere near as large as the bias in the house. There are other reasons I think presidential elections are more democratically legitimate: far more people vote than in off-year elections, the electorate is more representative, and both the media and the voters pay much more attention.

            Moreover, if congress and the president belong to opposite parties, it’s hard for voters to assess who is responsible for outcomes. If voters don’t like the direction the country is going in, it’s not obvious whether it’s the fault of the president’s agenda or of congress for blocking it. Voter clarity requires that the president be given the power to govern with minimal restriction.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @xq, I can see your point, but I still think giving more power to the President is a bad idea because of all the possible risks that might happen with a single person who might change his mind, go subtly mentally unstable, be hiding something from the electorate, or who knows what else.

            What would you think of a parliamentary system chosen by proportional representation on the state level, or in some other way that wouldn’t be subject to gerrymandering? It seems like it’d have the advantages you point out without the risks of what’d effectively be a four-year dictatorship.

          • xq says:

            Parliamentary system with PR would be ideal, yes. I don’t see how to get there, though. The barrier to changing the constitution is very high and, at any given time, one party will benefit more from the status quo and have strong incentive to block reform.

          • Cypren says:

            Part of the problem is that, absent a clear, documented history of having advocated for reduced executive power, it’s impossible for anyone opposed to Trump to claim “I want to reduce executive power out of principle, not partisanship” right now. It’s only a credible claim if you’re on record as making it when someone you strongly support is currently wielding the power you want to curtail. Otherwise it will just be taken by the opposition as pure posturing.

        • YehoshuaK says:

          “I am one lefty who disagrees and wants to see executive powers curtailed regardless of who is in the white house.”

          But you’re not the base of the Democratic party nor a politician that has a greater than 1% chance of ever being president. Those are the people that control what D presidents will do, and I am confident that, whenever possible, they will use presidential power to hurt me as badly as possible.

          • and I am confident that, whenever possible, they will use presidential power to hurt me as badly as possible.

            That’s unlikely. Democratic (or Republican) politicians have a range of objectives, but there is no reason to expect that hurting you is high on the list. Some of their policies may have that effect, but that’s not the objective so not what they are trying to maximize.

          • YehoshuaK says:

            That’s unlikely. Democratic (or Republican) politicians have a range of objectives, but there is no reason to expect that hurting you is high on the list.

            Let me tell you why I disagree, Dr. Friedman. (Wikipedia told me last night about your Ph.D.)

            First, consider the fact that the Obama administration attempted to force Catholic nuns to buy birth control.

            This was not because the text of the Affordable Care Act compelled them to do so; it gave great discretion to the Secretary of Health, which discretion was used to impose the birth control mandate, and could have been used to waive the mandate.

            It was not because of good policy considerations–women who have sworn not to engage in the behavior that makes babies obviously do not need chemical contraceptives, even if we accept the leftist view that the government’s proper role is to tell adults what to do.

            The only interpretation that I can see was sheer viciousness; they wanted to cause the nuns to suffer, individually and/or institutionally.

            Second, consider the infamous Life of Julia slideshow that then-President Obama ran during the ’12 campaign. Unfortunately, I cannot presently find a link to the show itself (but plenty to discussions of it), but as I recall, it depicted a totally secular and totally atomized young woman, a woman whose only relationship in life was to Holy Government as embodied in the GodPresident.

            I submit that people with the program of creating a secularized and atomized nation united in reverence to their One True President cannot tolerate the existence of religious communities, and that this is not incidental, but central to their program.

            That goes double for a religion such as Judaism, which has among its teachings (Pirkei Avot 2:3) “Be cautious with the government, for they only befriend a man for their own purposes; they seem like friends when it is to their advantage, but they do not stand by him in his time of need,” and (Pirkei Avot 3:2) “Rabbi Chanina, deputy of the priests, said ‘Pray for the welfare of government, for if not for the fear of it, men would devour each other alive.'”

            Taking these two teachings together, we see a religion that regards government very cautiously indeed, but marginally preferable to the law of the jungle. Hardly acceptable to the hard left!

            Third, I will point to a comment that Scott has made elsewhere. If you read through that, he says that opposition to gay marriage was “abhorrent,” and appears to regard that as axiomatic. Fine, he’s entitled to his views.

            Now, what will someone like Scott think of Leviticus 18:22, “You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman, it is an abomination?” Well, logically, he must regard that as being at least as abhorrent.

            How about the fact that the Talmud (Sanhedrin 7:4) lists homosexual activity as a capital crime, and that this ruling is affirmed in all subsequent legal codes without exception? Logically, must be “abhorrent.” (Scott, if I’m misinterpreting you, please correct me.)

            Fine, Scott is a relatively tolerant guy, and probably wouldn’t try to plow the Jewish religion under should he be president–but we all know that the Democratic base and Democratic politicians are not Scott. I am very confident that they find me and my religion abhorrent, and very confident that they will use every political power they can to destroy that which they find abhorrent.

        • Doctor Mist says:

          I’ve been trying to push the idea that Republicans should take Trump as a God-given opportunity to do bipartisan things that rein in the President and undo some of the stupid triumphalist things the Democrats did when they thought they had a permanent lock on the government.

          Rather than invoke the Reid option and get rid of filibuster altogether, reinstate it, but do it by Constitutional amendment so it’s not subject to majority whim.

          Similarly institutionalize more thorough oversight of the administrative state by Congress. Regulations should be more like statutes, requiring explicit consent in order to take effect, and meaning what they say rather than what the bureaucracy decides they mean from day-to-day with “letters of guidance”.

          Executive orders should cite exactly what legislation they are executing.

          But all this should be put in place with amendments so it can’t be easily undone. To the extent that Republicans are truly in favor of Constitutionally-limited government, they should be okay with this, and to the extent that Democrats (and some Republicans?) are scared of Trump or the Republican majority running roughshod over them, they should be okay with this.

          More likely, of course, is that Republicans will be short-sighted and take advantage of their position to shove their own agenda into place as unipartisanly as the Democrats did when they were on top, despite the fact that every pendulum swings both ways.

          • YehoshuaK says:

            Do you really think that the Constitution limits government? I don’t. I think it’s as dead as Washington.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @YehoshuaK, I don’t see how you and Doctor Mist are essentially in disagreement: he’s saying it’s effectively dead, but might be resurrected if the congressional Republicans get serious about it now.

            (And I agree with him.)

          • Cypren says:

            Megan McArdle has written some good pieces on this. The thing she keeps saying (that I wholeheartedly agree with) is that both sides agree “we need to stop the tit for tat game”, but neither is willing to stop it unless they got the last licks in. Right now, the Republican base would be furious with their politicians if they were to, for example, reinstate the filibuster for appointees and then placidly accept Democrats filibustering for the next four years straight. Likewise, the Democratic base will be furious with their politicians if they don’t use every available procedural hack at their disposal to stonewall, delay and thwart Trump’s agenda as revenge for the Republicans doing the same to Obama.

            Neither side can disarm because their base is hungry for blood. All they can do is escalate in a very classic Schelling dilemma.

            I’m in agreement that the only way to fix this is via Constitutional amendment. There’s not enough trust left between the tribes to support any rules that can be changed by majority vote; I’m not even sure a supermajority is enough. I would be more in favor of an amendment requiring unanimous consent to change the rules of the House or the Senate in order to stop this kind of naked hackery. If a situation is truly urgent and threatens the nation, you can convince the whole chamber to agree to a change. If not, there’s a near-certainty that you only want to make the change for partisan advantage.

            The problem, of course, is finding a set of rules that both sides agree are fair, because they’re likely to pay too much attention to how those rules will affect the current balance of power and not consider the future balance. (Classic hyperbolic discounting!) For example, right now, Democrats are not likely to agree to anything which makes it easier (or even feasible) for Trump to enact his agenda. Nor would Republicans have agreed to those same rules in 2009 when the positions were reversed, despite the fact that clearly it would have benefitted both sides to have an agreed-upon compromise precisely because their positions could be and were reversed.

          • Evan Þ says:

            @Cypren, to make the situation worse, I don’t think you could even get either side to agree that a compromise starting with them behind would come out to their advantage in the end. Right now, you’ve got part of the Left acting fully convinced that any deal giving Trump his way would mean the end of free elections and entrenched Republican dominance for a generation. Even the saner people are convinced he’d repeal Obamacare, rip up our foreign relations, appoint life-term justices who’d abolish abortion and reinstitute *Lochner*, and basically condemn thousands of people to unacceptable misery. They will not tolerate this; they see this as an apocalyptic fight where giving in the smallest tidbit would yield unrecoverable disaster.

            And back in 2009, a lot of the Right was saying the same thing (with policies reversed, of course) about Obama. It didn’t come to pass – but look at all the liberals who’re blaming Republican obstruction for why Obama didn’t get to do those exact things. Obstructionism is seen as the only thing that prevents such apocalyptic predictions from coming true. Neither side would give it up even without hyperbolic discounting.

    • The Nybbler says:

      I think we’ll find that while customs officers and other immigration officials have been ignoring court orders, that the Trump administration (that is, political appointees) did not order such a thing, even with a wink and a nod. Customs officials acting arbitrarily and capriciously is a problem but not a new problem and not specifically a Trump problem. (It’s _now_ his problem as US President. Unfortunately I don’t really expect him to do anything about it)

      • Tibor says:

        That might be the part of it – the officers (quite reasonably) expect him not to do anything about it.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        that the Trump administration (that is, political appointees) did not order such a thing

        a) Even if they did not, they have failed to order their subordinates to comply with the ruling. That really does not fly as a defense.

        b) The administration actually is behind this because, pursuant to the executive order, the revoked all visas from the affected countries. The have not undone this action and are claiming this means that they are in compliance with the court orders because the rulings take about valid visas.

      • deciusbrutus says:

        If they don’t arrest and prosecute the violators, they will have given a form of wink and nod.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Any prosecution would be for contempt of court, which is actually a judicial function as I understand it.

          • John Colanduoni says:

            Hmm… I think there must be more to it somehow. As far as I know, the judicial branch has no arm capable of finding the offenders. I guess someone with standing would have to sue?

            The argument could be made not reprimanding/firing the violators if they receive formal complaints from those affected is a from of wink and nod.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The plaintiffs who got the injunction could present to the court evidence of the injunction being ignored, and the court could then call them to answer for contempt… the court could send the US Marshalls (part of the judicial branch, not executive) to bring them in if they didn’t answer a summons.

            As for the President himself, I believe there is no judicial remedy for him disobeying a court order; it would have to be impeachment.

    • Viliam says:

      > While I know that the US president has a lot of power, it surprises me how much power he actually has.

      Stupid liberals assuming it is okay as long as the president is black. Didn’t expect another election coudl change that.

      #commetingWhileDrunk

  16. keranih says:

    Count me as one who neither shares the author’s politics nor particularly wants their goals achieved, but who found value in this.

    Specifically, level grinding is how the world works. Society is run by them what shows up, day in, day out, and who keep on coming back to the same boring meetings, taking the same damn measurements and writing them down, filling out yet another set of forms, digging another stretch of ditch. Interviewing another applicant, going to another interview. Milking another goat. Taking another set of vital signs from another perfectly healthy old person. Measuring out another cup of sanitizer. Peeling another bucket of potatoes, plucking another chicken. Writing another ticket for illegal parking. All of these “meaningless” things that combined together into a mountain of community effort.

    Most of ones days will not be spent in excitement, glamour and glory. That doesn’t make it not worthwhile, and, in aggregate, vital what one does.

    • stillnotking says:

      level grinding is how the world works.

      I had a WoW friend who put his experience as a guild leader on his resume, until I gently pointed out to him that employers might not see things quite the same way.

      • alwhite says:

        There is a rumor running about of a guy who got a job because of his guild leader experience. He talked about his organization skills and getting people to work together.

        • Deiseach says:

          Yeah, that’s the way to spin it on a CV. Under “hobbies and interests” talk about how you organised and led a group of people who successfully achieved their goals while being suitably vague about what exactly everyone was engaged in doing 🙂

          • HeelBearCub says:

            It only depends on the audience.

            If they are dismissive of gamer culture, you should not mention it.

            If they are not, you are fine.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Just don’t talk about how you were one of the leaders of a consumer movement to ensure ethical behavior by members of a certain journalistic niche.

        • P. George Stewart says:

          I once temp-PA-ed for a London barrister who was in a London-barristers’ WoW guild.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I wonder – is there some organization that does the exact opposite of what the ACLU does?

    • FacelessCraven says:

      …The Federal Government?

    • AlphaCeph says:

      The ACLU do some good work, I would be opposed to them per se.

      • FacelessCraven says:

        I think you accidentally a word there.

      • Anonymous says:

        The ACLU do some good work, I would be opposed to them per se.

        Like what?

        • John Colanduoni says:

          Assuming you’re coming at this from the right side of the aisle:

          List of ACLU cases in defense of religious practice and expression (yes, including Christians)

          Defending right to fly confederate flag (there are more cases of this if you google)

          Plenty of things up this avenue if you care to look.

          • Anonymous says:

            List of ACLU cases in defense of religious practice and expression (yes, including Christians)

            Good as far as they are defending Christianity. Bad as far as they are defending infidel practices.

            Defending right to fly confederate flag (there are more cases of this if you google)

            I’ve never quite understood why openly declaring your allegiance to a rebel cause isn’t counted as treason.

          • The Nybbler says:

            The Confederacy is not currently in rebellion, so displaying its flag (or one of its battle flags, more likely) cannot be treason. Same logic applies to displaying a Nazi flag or an English one.

          • dalemannes says:

            I would never display a Confederate Flag because I don’t want to get attacked in public. But the US Confederacy had the moral high ground. They had the moral right to secede and legally there was no clear law either way. The North burning entire cities and even an entire state to the ground and massacring US civilians gives them the low road.

            So, that would be one bonus point for the ACLU

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @John Colanduoni – The ACLU is no longer interested in defending religious freedom.

            Confederate-flag-display is a terrible reason for right-wingers support them; why not just throw the nazi flag in there too? Then again, judging by the replies your getting, apparently you know right-wingers better than I do.

            The ACLU is a moderately decent organization, but partisanship and polarization have badly eroded their principles. I’m glad they still exist, but I wouldn’t particularly trust them.

          • Iain says:

            The ACLU is no longer interested in defending religious freedom.

            That’s an uncharitable summary. The ACLU is still interested in defending religious freedom — just not at the expense of the other freedoms it values. This is not a change of policy: as your link states, they also rejected “religious liberty” arguments against integration during the civil rights era.

            You may disagree with the ACLU, but you can’t reasonably call them inconsistent.

          • webnaut says:

            @Iain

            I don’t see the ACLU speaking out in defense of Milo Yiannopoulos after his lecture was shut down by force.

            The silence is deafening.

          • stillnotking says:

            The ACLU’s primary concern is state suppression of speech, not suppression by private actors. If it was a heckler’s veto situation, they would likely get involved.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            From Wikipedia, quoting some notable source:

            In First Amendment law, a heckler’s veto is the suppression of speech by the government, because of [the possibility of] a violent reaction by hecklers. It is the government that vetoes the speech, because of the reaction of the heckler. Under the First Amendment, this kind of heckler’s veto is unconstitutional.

            Isn’t this exactly what happened?

          • stillnotking says:

            No; a heckler’s veto is when the government puts the kibosh on speech because they think it will inspire violence. IOW, the government is the entity preventing the speech, not the actual presence of club-wielding private citizens.

            At least, that’s my understanding. IANAL.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            is when the government puts the kibosh on speech because they think it will inspire violence

            Yes, that’s what I quoted.

            And UC Berkeley, which is a public institution and subject to the same free speech restrictions as the government, canceled his speech because of concerns of violence.

          • stillnotking says:

            Right, but Berkeley didn’t cancel the talk until the violence was happening. They weren’t using the possibility as an excuse; they were literally forced to cancel. We can argue about whether they acted in good faith in some respects, e.g. forcing the College Republicans to pay almost $7k in additional security fees — ultimately refunded, but still — but every indication is that they would have allowed the talk to proceed if the hall wasn’t being besieged by a mob. No amount of fidelity to 1A can compel them to expose their staff and students to immediate harm.

            If ISIS had suddenly shown up and attacked the school, it wouldn’t be crossing anyone’s mind to fault them for canceling.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            That is a good distinction. Thank you.

          • webnaut says:

            @stillnotking

            If that is so, then there is a ‘gap in the market’ for an organization that monitors media organizations for increasing a population’s suggestibility towards violent acts.

            I don’t like the idea of the government regulating the media for obvious reasons. Still, they need to be reined in when they act as political actors in their own right, instead of merely reporting their observations.

      • AlphaCeph says:

        typo: should read “wouldn’t”

  18. Deiseach says:

    it took them approximately four seconds to create a list of extremely sympathetic/photogenic immigrants who would be caught at airports that day, for some of whom they were already the legal representative of record

    And that’s the part where, even though I acknowledge IRAP may be doing valuable and necessary work, they lose me. I don’t respond well to heartstring-tugging or attempts to emotionally manipulate me. My instinctive reaction is “If they’re pulling out the cute orphan hugging their teddy bear with a puppy frolicking at their feet, they have no actual case to build and are using ‘look, a squirrel!’ tactics to cover up that their house is built on sand”. Though I also acknowledge that sadly, these are probably the necessary tactics to get the media to pay any attention and publicise your cause.

    Apart from that, good luck to the people of good intent.

    • I don’t respond well to heartstring-tugging or attempts to emotionally manipulate me.

      Yeah, but even the Supreme Court does. Perhaps the Justices themselves are moved, but more likely they are picking cases with an eye to public and media reaction when making a big legal change.

      See, e.g., Loving v. Virginia and many similar cases with highly sympathetic parties, and Employment Division v. Smith, where absolute freedom of religion under the First Amendment was limited in a case involving an almost freakishly unsympathetic party.

      (Smith, member of an obscure Native American sect for which the hallucinogen peyote is a sacrament, was fired by a drug rehab program for violating his written commitment not to use drugs, and then applied to the state for unemployment compensation. Sure, says the Supreme Court, the state of Oregon can deny unemployment comp to such a person. Almost nobody could be outraged about Smith not getting public money under those circumstances. But of course the legal implications provoked an unprecedented long list of almost every major religious entity in the country to leap to the defense of this guy and demand a rehearing, which was denied, and then a “religious freedom restoration act” passed by Congress, which was struck down.)

      It is sound, hard-eyed legal strategy to choose cases which present the most extraordinarily favorable facts for your side.

      • herbert herberson says:

        Plus, one of the defendants in Smith wasn’t even native. Great example and post (although both RFRA and the AIFRA amendments specifically addressing peyote use are still good law)

        • Evan Þ says:

          part of the RFRA is still good law. The part which tried to apply against state laws was (correctly) struck down by the Court as infringing on federalism.  It still applies against federal laws, though, and some states have passed their own RFRA’s.

          (Some other states tried last year, but backed down under boycotts by the Left.)

      • Deiseach says:

        I could be sympathetic to Smith in that case, because he was a counsellor at the clinic and not an inpatient. He and the other defendant should probably have discussed this beforehand with their employer, though; the Catholic Church has rules in place for “what if the priest is an alcoholic, does he still have to consume the communion wine at the Eucharist?” If a reactionary backwards mediaeval organisation like my church can work something out, a modern American organisation should have been able to do something as well 🙂

        If Smith was claiming discrimination on not being permitted to practice his religion, that might well have been so. The programme could also have a point about it not being great for counsellors in a drug rehab clinic taking drugs that were (are?) illegal themselves. If Smith and Black were not showing up under the influence or getting high at work or supplying the patients with drugs, then was it misconduct? Well, that’s what the Court made its decision on!

      • YehoshuaK says:

        The federal RFRA was only struck down, I believe, to the extent that it sought to control state laws. It is certainly within the federal government’s purview to limit federal laws, and that part of the RFRA was upheld.

        Wikipedia says “RFRA was held unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court, as applied to the states in the City of Boerne v. Flores decision in 1997, which ruled that the RFRA is not a proper exercise of Congress’s enforcement power. However, it continues to be applied to the federal government—for instance, in Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficente Uniao do Vegetal and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.—because Congress has broad authority to carve out exemptions from federal laws and regulations that it itself has authorized.”

        • Right, but RFRA was an attempt to overrule Smith, and restore the earlier, more expansive view of the Free Exercise clause. In Flores, the Supreme Court upheld Smith and struck down RFRA.

          Also, there are vastly more state laws and state agencies than federal laws and federal agencies.

          • BBA says:

            As a number of tedious comments in the open thread point out, the Free Exercise clause doesn’t actually bind state governments. The 14th Amendment does bind state governments to something, and that something has been held to include the Free Exercise clause. You’d think section 5 of the 14th would therefore empower Congress to pass an RFRA that binds the states, but six justices disagreed, and they had Anthony Kennedy write the opinion to make the reasoning as opaque as possible.

            (As a side note, I’ve read that the framers of the 14th Amendment didn’t put too much time into the exact wording of the text because, recalling the then-recent Dred Scott decision, they figured a hostile court would just ignore the wording no matter what it said. This makes textualism a rather shaky proposition. I’d rather have had the Constitution rewritten to clarify just what the hell states are and aren’t allowed to do, but we’re about 150 years too late for that.)

            ((Another side note: I thought on a policy level Smith was right and RFRA was wrong, but I’m a few standard deviations more anti-clerical than the American norm.))

          • Evan Þ says:

            BBA, your reasoning doesn’t quite hold. The Fourteenth Amendment binds states to something, and Section Five allows Congress to enforce that something on them. According to the Supreme Court, that something includes the constitutional Free Exercise clause – but not the pre-Smith standard enshrined in the RFRA, because that’s been held to go beyond the Free Exercise clause. So, Congress can’t enforce that on the states.

          • BBA says:

            Hm, I suppose I can buy that. Though is there a good reason to read 14A as requiring the implied state-level bill of rights to be defined exclusively by the courts, excluding Congress? Aside from the practical matter that it’s the court who says what the Constitution means.

          • Evan Þ says:

            Well, “it is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is,” so when the Constitution says “privileges and immunities of a citizen of the United States” and “due process of law” – wouldn’t it be the courts’ role to say what falls into those buckets?

          • YehoshuaK says:

            “In Flores, the Supreme Court upheld Smith and struck down RFRA.”

            So it’s your understand that right now RFRA is dead as regards federal law? Do you have a specific link I could look at? (I hope that you’re wrong.)

          • @ YehoshuaK

            So it’s your understand that right now RFRA is dead as regards federal law?

            No, I meant that it was sharply limited, applying just to federal law, instead of to all 50 states and territories and local governments, as was originally intended.

          • @ BBA

            I thought on a policy level Smith was right and RFRA was wrong

            That’s been my view from the beginning, even back when all my friends were hand-wringing about Smith. And Flores was the proper and inevitable response to Congress’s attempt to directly usurp the judiciary’s authority over Constitutional interpretation.

            I’d rather have had the Constitution rewritten to clarify just what the hell states are and aren’t allowed to do, but we’re about 150 years too late for that.

            The Constitution survived the Civil War thanks to its ambiguities. Instead of being thrown out and redone, it was merely reinterpreted, and three brief amendments added.

    • BBA says:

      See my previous comment on Rosa Parks. Choosing one story to highlight over another on emotional grounds may be manipulative, but as long as the story is true I don’t see it as invalid.

      • Deiseach says:

        See, the thing is, it trips the switch in my mind that goes “What don’t they want me to know?” It does tend to make me think they’ve got something to hide or at the least are not telling the whole truth.

        If they’re pushing for the effect where an upsurge of emotion – and this can include righteous anger – will over-ride any critical thinking and people will act on bellyfeel, I distrust that reliance on the gush of feeling to blank out any “Now wait a moment, what is actually going on?” that your mind may contribute, and that you will react by instinct rather than act after reflection.

        The fact that people may need to use such methods doesn’t make me any happier. We should not donate to a cause because we like the photos of big-eyed orphans clutching cute puppies that it used better than the photos another cause used. Isn’t that the whole point of something like GiveWell that evaluates charities on cost-effectiveness and “most bang for your buck”?

        We’ve had minor scandals about charities here in Ireland where exactly that modus operandi was used – how dare you question me about where the money is going, look at this tearful Littlest Cancer Patient, how can you possibly have any qualms about a Good Cause like that? [warning: link to TVTropes]

        So yes, I do distrust even well-intentioned and truthful emotional manipulation because it is a tool that is so easily abused.

        • tscharf says:

          That’s kind of my feeling.

          Too pretty packaging sets off my BS detector that something is being packaged and sold, not that it just has pretty wrapping.

        • The Nybbler says:

          Sure, some of us when we see the big-eyed child with the artful dirt smear on the cheek and the tears in the eyes immediately become cynical and suspicious and become extra wary that someone’s trying to put one over on us. But most people aren’t hard-hearted rationalists like ourselves, and they eat that stuff up. Heck, a lot of people “donate” to obvious scamming panhandlers with a sob story. There’s one born every minute.

          • Deiseach says:

            Mainly because every time I have over-ridden my initial gut reaction and told myself “Don’t be silly, you’re being paranoid/overly-suspicious/too cynical and unkind” in any situation and taken the “trusting niceness” option, it then turns out I should have gone with my gut.

            So yeah, I’m very burned out on “photogenic sob-story, call this number now to donate”.

            Especially when I have had direct experience via work of exactly that kind of media emotional manipulation – single mother and her kids being cruelly refused housing by cold-hearted red-tape bureaucrats. Thank God it wasn’t me dealing with this case, but being in the same office as the unfortunate who had to handle it, I was in full possession of the facts of the matter to do with it. Local media ate it up with a spoon, including front-page photo of mommy and kidlets walking in local park artfully shot from behind (the sunlight haloing their figures, the little hands clutching onto Mommy’s hands, the works) to go with the sob-story write-up. Including quotes from local representatives all eager to associate themselves with fighting the good fight against governmental inertia and bureaucracy for the good people of their constituencies.

            Need I say this was all total bollocks and the true story was a completely different kettle of fish? Because as a public service organisation we are bound by confidentiality, we couldn’t reveal the real facts of the case in a response to the paper. Yet I’m sure the readers of the paper were left, as a result of this tactic, with the view “This is shocking, something should be done, how can those jobsworths look themselves in the face for this kind of petty meanness?”

            Guest poster may be very sincere and well-meaning. The scamming mommy in our case also had hoodwinked her well-meaning and sincere social worker into uncritical, unquestioning acceptance of her story* and full-blown support and backing of her no matter the opposition. So I have had direct personal experience of emotional manipulation via cute photogenic subjects at work, (and an even nastier case of the same), and I say to heck with it.

            *Including accusations of domestic violence against her partner, who was the one actually taking care of the kids, so she could make herself look even more deserving and in need of help to be re-housed in her preferred location in a better house.

    • StataTheLeft says:

      I think there’s a difference between trying to manipulate potential donors and trying to affect the framing in policymakers’ and the public’s minds when they’re addressing a fast moving political issue. This was an example of the latter. If you think policy advocacy is valuable at all, you ought to want advocates who are able to do this.

      Right now, plenty of people are pushing a narrative that makes “terrorists” the most resonant case of Muslims trying to enter the U.S. from the set of seven countries affected by Trump’s executive order. I don’t think it’s emotionally manipulative for an organization opposing the executive order to try to change that narrative by publicly putting forward the example of an interpreter who risked his life for the U.S. military and was affected by the ban.

      In practice, there’s some evidence that this was quite successful. Yesterday the Trump Administration announced that the executive order would no longer apply to people holding Special Immigrant Visas – the visa designed for Iraqis who are no longer safe in Iraq because they worked for the U.S. military.

      As I see it, IRAP’s contribution was already having a relationship with SIV holders who could humanize the issue quickly while it was receiving media attention.

    • Jaskologist says:

      People who want to grasp the current mindset on the right would be well-served to add Ace of Spades to their readers. They had a recent post on precisely this phenomenon of Weaponized Empathy:

      Every single day, multitudes of horrors and injustices play out across the globe. No one can address them all. No one can save all the victims. Human nature is fixed and there will always be suffering.

      What the Progressives do, as do we all, is a pick a few to focus on and put their energy to. The difference is, they try to force the rest of us into their choices, screaming at us that we are their moral inferiors if we don’t share their priorities.

    • John Colanduoni says:

      I see that choice as presenting more of an existence proof, as opposed to claiming everybody is like their examples. I suspect many people in favor of the immigration ban did not at any point consider that people like translators that worked for the US military in combat zones for years (a) are a thing (b) would be affected. In fact I doubt the Trump administration did, otherwise they would’ve put in that exception and saved themselves a lot of trouble.

    • dalemannes says:

      Almost everyone has good intent. Donald Trump, his staff, and his voters have good intent.

      Japan and Israel have outrageously strict immigration restrictions with good intent.

  19. Erebus says:

    Let me get this straight: So this charity takes Somalis, Pakistanis, and Turks (?!), and works to re-settle them in France, Germany, the UK, and the USA? Why on Earth would anybody with a modicum of foresight want to support this? Allowing mass Muslim/Arab migration is probably the most irreversibly self-destructive thing a country can do — and the voters, who support Trump’s refugee ban by an overwhelming margin, know it.

    …Want Fascism? This is how you get it.

    • FacelessCraven says:

      I am pretty sure there is a difference between “mass immigration” and “no immigration at all”.

      • Erebus says:

        What Europe has experienced over the past two years is already far, far too much. Too much by at least a couple orders of magnitude.

        And, quite plainly, the American voter wants none of it.

        What this charity is trying to do strikes me as neither good nor socially desirable. Why not work to help people affected by conflict and war in their countries of origin? Why must they move to Germany and France, for instance, which are already under severe strain? Why the hell do they seem to be re-settling Turks and Pakistanis? This is sheer madness, all of it.

        …If you want fascism to rise again, and more violence in the streets of Europe, you’ll work to re-settle Arabs and Muslims in the West. If you truly value liberalism and enlightenment values, especially if you’re a consequentialist, you’ll steer well clear of what seems to be a very dangerously misguided “charity” effort.

        • FacelessCraven says:

          And again, the organization in question is not building a land-bridge to Syria. This is not a binary choice between Mass immigration and no immigration. Even if you think this organization favors mass immigration, implementing that desire is not within their power. Helping a handful of individuals navigate our immigration bureaucracy is not going to bring in the jackboots.

          • Erebus says:

            At this point, “helping a handful of individuals navigate our immigration bureaucracy” is neither a good nor a desirable thing. Those people should be helped in their countries of origin, if at all.

            To speak plainly, I don’t think that this charity deserves our money. They work towards dangerous and foolish ends. (And, seriously, Pakistan and Turkey? That’s just indefensible.)

          • dalemannes says:

            It’s more than reasonable to press pause on immigration to Europe and the US. Many immigrants are very sympathetic to the complaint of host people, and any that have been invited shouldn’t be kicked out for no reason. But pushing pause seems like a very sane option at this point. ACLU seems to be doing the wrong thing by using more legal pressure and lawfare to fight any efforts to pause ethnic immigration.

        • Machine Interface says:

          @ Erebus

          Europe has taken a few hundred thousands refugees. This is a region where more than half a billion people live. The strain you are talking about doesn’t exist at this scale (it exists at lower scales because some cities/countries are doing all the work whereas other renegate on their obligations [taking in refugees is part of the responsibilities of the EU]).

          The rest of your post is just nonsensical. None of the things you predict are even close to happening, and describing things as “Allowing mass Muslim/Arab migration is probably the most irreversibly self-destructive thing a country can do” denotes a severe cognitive impairement in judging scales and perspectives. Really, allowing mass refugees is worse than say, starting to fire salted nuclear missiles randomly in every direction?

          • Erebus says:

            >”Europe has taken a few hundred thousands refugees”

            A few hundred thousands?

            Germany alone has taken in over one million in 2015, and several hundred thousand in 2016.

            First, get your facts straight.

            Then, understand that when I say “[a]llowing mass Muslim/Arab migration is probably the most irreversibly self-destructive thing a country can do”, what I mean is “allowing mass Muslim/Arab migration is probably the most irreversibly self-destructive thing a country can reasonably be expected to do.” Nobody expects countries to start launching nukes in random directions. (That such a notion is absurd should go without saying.) But countries are accepting brutish refugees and migrants in downright dangerous numbers, from societies dangerously different from our own, and it’s not going to end well. This is irreversibly self-destructive, unless major corrective action is taken… and soon.

          • Machine Interface says:

            Those are the numbers of *applicants*, more than half of which got rejected. Get *your* facts right.

            Frankly all this childish nonsense is annoying. This is a rationalist blog, not a shrine of worship for modern pagan gods like “civilization” or “nation” or “race”. “My country is in peril”, oh, it’s *your* country? You own the place? You wrote your name on it? You contributed significantly to its development, culture and expension? Give me a break.

          • Urstoff says:

            https://www.amazon.com/Three-Languages-Politics-Arnold-Kling-ebook/dp/B00CCGF81Q

            A lot of people here seem to speak using langauge from the civilization/barbarism axis.

          • Erebus says:

            @Machine Interface

            Is English your first language? You seem to have a rather shaky grasp of it.

            Germany alone has “taken” (your coinage) roughly a million and a half “refugees” over just the past two years. These people are presently in Europe — they’re not waiting in Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen for their paperwork. Some of them may go through the formal registration process in Germany and be accepted or denied. Still others will simply reside in Germany illegally, or move on to a different country. (Easy enough, in continental Europe. And note how many attempted to illegally immigrate to the UK.) Some of these migrants may later get deported. Will Germany deport 750,000 of them? Heh… Forgive me if I have my doubts. How many have they deported already?

            Any suggestion that all of Europe has only taken in a “few” hundred thousand refugees is either willful ignorance or an intentional deception.

            As for the rest… What values do you hold? May I assume that you believe yourself to be, presumably, a rationalist? As such, you probably hold a set of beliefs — let’s call them “enlightenment values.” Do you think that these migrants share your beliefs? Do you think that they can be induced to share your beliefs? Put the shoe on the other foot: If you had to move to Pakistan, would you abandon rationalism in favor of Islamic values? Would you adopt local customs?

            …Of course not. These people are not a blank slate; they’re bringing their alien beliefs along with them. And they are hostile to you and the values you hold dear, make no mistake. Social services aside, they don’t value your system of government, nor your traditions and customs, nor your art and literature. They certainly don’t value rationalism. They just want an easy life, which they couldn’t have in their countries of origin, for a number of reasons they’re importing into Europe right now.

            If we accept Pakistanis and Somalis en masse, we simply can’t be surprised when our cities contain growing enclaves that look like Somalia and Pakistan. This is, again, very dangerous. As dangerous as a metastatic tumor is to a body. Give some thought to what a country’s “immune system” might be.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        There is. Who do I support to say “let’s pick some number and then actually enforce it”?

        • Evan Þ says:

          If you’re fine with “let’s get ready to enforce our decisions and then pick a number,” there’s always Trump.

    • Zombielicious says:

      Not that it’s really what I’d base a counterargument on, but recent Gallup polls show 55% disapprove of the Muslim ban, only 42% approve. Nowhere near “an overwhelming margin.”

      The number who support the Muslim ban is nearly the same as the number who support impeachment (40%).

      • Erebus says:

        I’ve seen several polls say just the opposite, for e.g. this from Reuters. Could be methodological differences.

        One third of the country supported Obama’s impeachment back in 2014. And, apparently, similar numbers supported the impeachment of Bush and Clinton before him. It’s just partisan politics, and as old as the hills…

        • Evan Þ says:

          Alternatively, it’s a correct recognition that all of them did in fact commit impeachable offenses.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Yeah, I’m pretty sure you know that it’s not the same people, therefore it’s not any standing on principle.

        • Zombielicious says:

          Even that one’s only 49% support to 41% oppose. Also, judging from the massive protests and ACLU donations, a lot of us that support refugee immigration feel pretty strongly about it. Wish there was a way to accurately measure intensity of the support and opposition. Again though, not what I’d base a pro-refugee or pro-immigration argument on.

          Polls are kind of bs anyway though, imo.

      • tscharf says:

        A “Muslim ban” is bad, but an 8 year “War on Muslims” is even worse. Obama’s administration has killed 30,000 of them, sat by while 450,000 of them killed each other in Syria, and just finished dropping 26,000 bombs on 7 Muslim nations last year, not to mention the formation of the cosmopolitan paradise loving organization known as ISIS. Yeah humanity! We need a good government in charge so all will be butterflies and rainbows for the Muslims.

        Seriously, a little perspective is necessary here. There are lots of rocks flying around in this glass house. This just in, the Middle East continues to be a big clusterf*** and the expectation that this will change has low confidence.

        • Randy M says:

          Obama’s administration has killed 30,000 of them, sat by while 450,000 of them killed each other in Syria

          Objection. One can either use military to interfere in a civil war, in the course of which killing many on at least one side and getting some due blame for the aftermath, perform generally useless but still damaging measures like sanctions, or stand by and while they kill each other.

          Objecting to both intervention and a lack of it isn’t really fair.

          • tscharf says:

            Noted. I thought about this. The defense is they didn’t start the fight back until Syria was already out of control. I don’t think they dropped the first bomb in Syria until the death count was well over 100,000. They also only entered Syria after it has so profanely spilled over its borders into Europe, Iraq, and elsewhere that it demanded action.

            Anyway the point was just hyperbolic to point out that the protesting in the streets has almost everything to do with who is president than with how Muslims are being treated by the US. For those who protested both, they have legitimacy that most fair weather protesters do not.

          • dalemannes says:

            I completely agree. There has been open civil war across the middle east and much of US intervention was to try and establish peace by, killing the main belligerents. Obama chose limited intervention in Libya and then mostly hands off afterwards and limited intervention in Syria. That violence is not the fault of the US or the west, although much of the world is quite determined for push that conclusion.

          • suntzuanime says:

            The US shouldn’t have started the civil war to begin with.

          • dalemannes says:

            suntzuanime, Really? The US started all the various civil wars throughout the middle east? I did say much of the world is determined to pin blame on the US, but it’s not reasonable.

            Obama was a US leader who advocated using less force. He was mostly hands off in Syria. He was clear that the civil war in Libya started before US involvement. Obama cautioned against the intervention that the US did and the US pulled out rather quickly. I don’t see any reasonable way you can blame all of these scenarios on the US.

    • Deiseach says:

      If the Turks are Turkish Kurds, there’s a legitimate reason to help them. Hell, with the way Erdogan is carrying on, if they’re Turkish Turks, there’s probably a good reason (it’s not a great time to be considered a Gulanist in Turkey. Or a teacher. Or a journalist. Or anyone he doesn’t like and thinks is against him.)

      • Erebus says:

        Erdogan, for all his faults, was democratically elected… and re-elected… and re-elected again. I’d be surprised if he weren’t the most successful popular politician in Turkish history, at least since the days of Ataturk.

        What lessons can we draw from this? Hmmm? Perhaps, among very many others, that Islam is not entirely compatible with secular democracy?

        Besides, If I wanted to support the Kurds, I’d find a way to help the brave ones fight for their right to self-determination. I hold that helping the cowards self-deport to Germany is contemptible. It’s not good for the Kurds, and it’s not good for Germany. It’s small and ignoble.

        • Evan Þ says:

          If you’re blaming Erdogan on Islam, what’d you say about the same situation in so many Latin American and East Asian countries? And, you could almost say, Finland under Kekkonen and even the US under FDR?

          • Erebus says:

            Hmmm… let’s not go there. For, among other reasons, it would be too long a digression. Besides, do you see refugees from East Asia and S.America on that charity’s list? It’s fairly Middle East-specific.

            My point is that this charity is misguided at best, actively dangerous at worst. Why help Pakistanis navigate the complexities of German immigration paperwork, when you can help people much nearer to you, in much more meaningful ways? Your fellow countrymen, for instance, could use the help, and there are many deserving charities like the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which gives real support to war widows and severely injured veterans. These people have proven themselves worthy of your aid.

            Or volunteer in a soup kitchen, at your local church, or at a homeless shelter. Do something, if you must. But, before you give anybody your money, think carefully about what they are trying to achieve, and what the long-term consequences might be. The charity of the OP — if not actively harmful, if not working to bring about evil ends (and both of which are arguable) — is certainly not worth any of your money.

          • dalemannes says:

            @Erebus, bravo!!

        • Deiseach says:

          I’m not at all sure how much of an Islamist Erdogan is, versus someone using it as a convenient way of identifying himself as Man Of The Nation (the same way I’m not at all sure about Putin’s Orthodoxy versus it’s useful to identify himself as pro-Orthodox, and the several examples of American politicians on all sides who talk about their church background while clutching their Bibles while totally coincidentally, have you considered maybe voting for them?)

          But I also think Turkish secularism has been on shaky ground (that the army, of all entities, was up to now the guarantor that it would continue is not the most confidence-inspiring thing). So I wouldn’t blame Erdogan on Islam anymore than I’d blame any strong-man politician using a convenient national badge of identity, but I also wouldn’t be very confident he wouldn’t use Islamist ideology in his consolidation of power.

    • “When liberals insist that only fascists will defend borders, then voters will hire fascists to do the job liberals won’t do.”

    • Winfried says:

      If the people are more important than the land, what’s the real difference between colonialism and importation? That’s assuming the importation stays under control and doesn’t turn into invasion/colonization in the other direction.

    • deciusbrutus says:

      Are you basing your claim of self-destruction on the belief that any change in culture is literally destruction of the country that used to exist before, or on the belief that there will be policy changes that destroy any countries who admit too many people from the cultures in question because of some feature unique to those cultures, or for some reason that doesn’t boil down to a belief that the Other Culture under discussion is objectively bad?

      • gin-and-whiskey says:

        Why does it need to be objectively bad (which is probably impossible anyway, since there’s no objective culture standard)? Why can’t it be subjectively bad?

  20. AlphaCeph says:

    > THE INTERNATIONAL REFUGEE ASSISTANCE PROJECT

    Meanwhile, in Paris…

    Maybe we shouldn’t be assisting “refugees”? Just a thought!

    And in anticipation of people complaining that we don’t know whether this person was a refugee, migrant, asylum seeker, second generation immigrant, etc – I don’t think it matters. These administrative distinctions are irrelevant labels that we stick to people but they don’t by themselves alter the causality that is at play. Much more relevant factors are “what is this person’s culture, religion and genetics?”.

    • leoboiko says:

      A Muslim with a machete tries to suicide by cop, gets shot, and you want to refuse assistance to war refugees. And you list genetics among your criteria to segregate them.

      A week ago, a right-wing Canadian militant killed six innocent Muslims at their mosque. Would you like to deny social welfare to all right-wing Christian whites?

      • Urstoff says:

        No, because right-wing Christian whites have Enlightenment values, whatever those are (what they are not, apparently, is freedom of association, property rights, or an acknowledgment of universal human rights; the Enlightenment was kind of a bummer, I guess).

      • AlphaCeph says:

        > A week ago, a right-wing Canadian militant killed six innocent Muslims at their mosque. Would you like to deny social welfare to all right-wing Christian whites?

        Of course I condemn violence by that Canadian guy. Violence is highly unethical in these circumstances, as well as dumb and counterproductive. If I could travel back in time and put a bullet in his head before he did it, I would.

        But I feel like I disagree with the implied equivalence here; Canada, the EU and the USA are predominantly white Christian (at least by culture) countries. There is a movement of left-wing elites who want to change that, and essentially destroy both the white race and European/Christian culture. The entire rest of the world does not have some kind of fundamental right to come destroy us, therefore I reject the frame that there is some kind of equivalence between Brevik-style violence and Islamic Jihadis coming to Europe to kill and rape us. Brevik & the Quebec shooter were acting in defence of their culture. That is not to excuse them for turning to violence, and in both cases I would gladly have put a stop to them with lethal force.

        • Machine Interface says:

          No True Scotland called, they want their citizens back.

        • deciusbrutus says:

          Do you believe that cultures have some kind of intrinsic right to protect their interests?

          I don’t believe that cultures are agents of any kind; they have no right to self-defense, even. Because they are not real and cannot take actions.

          If you as a private person are afraid that you will not be able to remain around people like you, you have no additional rights thereby and no other person loses any right that they had.

          • AlphaCeph says:

            > Do you believe that cultures have some kind of intrinsic right to protect their interests?

            Well, with the caveat that a “right” is simply a convention for how to behave, yes.

            > I don’t believe that cultures are agents of any kind; they have no right to self-defense, even. Because they are not real and cannot take actions.

            Cultures/societies are not agenty, cannot take actions and not real? Doesn’t that kind of anti-predict most of human history, e.g. for example the founding of modern Israel?

            If they’re not real why are we talking about them?

            I think we have some fairly fundamental ontological differences here.

          • Gazeboist says:

            Cultures (and nations and corporations and clubs and so on and so forth) are often useful abstractions for individuals acting towards aligned desires. That said, there are times when they are not. In the specific case of cultures, the modern habit is to overuse the abstraction in the political context. This is a bad habit.

      • I did a basic calculation in america, which has relatively little firearms control(which absolutely does reduce firearms-related mass murders, , as to per capita mass murder rate and terrorism rates.

        And for about the past 15 years, those of Islamic origin have been represented at over 30x per capita compared to the general population.

        Sam harris on differences in islam and christianity And another one

        • TenMinute says:

          That seems incredible. Are you using the standard 4-or-more definition? I thought those were still dominated by gang-related homicides.

          • I used a deadlier definition, setting the number at 10. I do believe that at the 4 threshold, gang violence probably dominates. I believe the 10 threshold is good for “Clearly, this person intended to cause Mass Death for whatever reason”

            Here you go. People who have caused mass gun death post year 2000.

            Islamic
            Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan
            Married couple Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik
            Omar Saddiqui Mateen

            Non-Islamic

            Michael McLendon
            James Holmes
            Aaron Alexis
            Jiverly Wong
            Adam Lanza
            Seung-Hui Cho

            Those of islamic origin are about 1% of the U.S. population.

            That gives 1% of the US population committing the largest gun-related atrocities at 33x the typical rate.

            This looks like the trend happens worldwide. Once the death-count is high enough to clearly distinguish itself from “Robbery gone bad” or “Gang violence”..or even territory, seems like lists like these become dominated by Islam and then some strange collection of people.

          • This 33x ratio looks like it plays out in france, where the islamic population is about 7% of the population.

            And it utterly dominates terrorism related events in france to the point where its hard to find non-islamic terrorism…and every deathcount post 3 is islamic.

            If the islamic population of the U.S. increased from 1 to 3%, there would be a clear majority of mass deaths and terrorist events from islamic sources.

            Sure, a very rational thing the US could do to save lives by the numbers without reallly reducing peoples quality of life is reducing the speed limit to 40 mph or something and enforcing it harshly, but its idiotic to pretend these events don’t totally change the nations primal psyche.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Spending more time in transit would definitely degrade my quality of life.

    • I like this comment. I wonder what the probabilities of actionable idiotic violent interpretations of religion is likely +2 standard deviations above the norm.

      The academic world is protesting the ban on all immigration/movement of peoples from some countries, but what are the alternatives? How likely is the US to institute a “very highly intellectually skilled immigrants” only policy?

      It certainly appears that there needs to be more restrictions on islamic immigration then what are already the typical restrictions. Perhaps a limiting to those only in preference category 1? Or restricting immigration in general to category 1?

  21. Garrett says:

    I used to have respect for the ACLU. And then I approached them with a great case to challenge the TSAs new gropy/pornoscan policies. I’d personally been refused access to a return flight home because I would not accept the pornoscanner or being groped (though was alright being wanded, chemical trace, and my luggage hand-searched). I had to take the bus home. My ticket was purchased before the changes were announced, though the flight was afterwards.

    I sent a letter to the ACLU about this and received a response declining interest, with the an explanation that they focus on core civil rights issues and those issues which impact a large number of people.

    If having tens of millions on people be irradiated/seen naked/groped as a condition of modern travel in this country isn’t a large-scale civil rights issue, I don’t know what is. Rosa Parks only needed to stand up, and that’s considered to be one of the biggest civil rights victories of the past century. (Granted, that was racially-discriminatory, but the impact was far less degrading).

    • StataTheLeft says:

      For what it’s worth, the ACLU has done some work on TSA pat downs so I think they agree that this is a large-scale civil liberties issue. https://aclum.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/resources-kyr-airport.pdf

      I think the letter was just the form letter they use whenever they turn down a case for any reason. They have to turn down a lot of cases where people have legitimate complaints.

      • benquo says:

        If the form letter gives a false impression, then they could just … write a less misleading form letter.

    • Eli says:

      I sent a letter to the ACLU about this and received a response declining interest, with the an explanation that they focus on core civil rights issues and those issues which impact a large number of people.

      I’ve volunteered with a state ACLU before. What you got was a form-letter they sent because they didn’t have the resources to take your case.

      Try volunteering for your local ACLU sometime. You’ll see how many refugees and prisoners are sending in genuine, sympathetic, legally meritorious civil-rights problems by snail-mail every day.

      Disclaimer: I’m a monthly donor to ACLU.

  22. dwietzsche says:

    *picture of drowned Syrian kid posted online* Conservatives: “This is liberal propaganda.” I don’t even know how to talk to people who think they can simply dismiss actual widespread atrocities they know for sure are occurring because photographers engage in photography. Count me out of this absurd movement that insists anything that might actually effect you emotionally is utter garbage to be tossed out the window. That’s before we get into how we dovetail from that into totally batshit fearmongering assessments of the risks of accepting refugees. “We have to use a more data driven approach to policy,” the anti-immigration exponent says, then asserts without plausible justification “If we let these people in, America as we know it will be destroyed.”

    • Machine Interface says:

      The oft repeated motive about civilization being destroyed amuses me. Civilization changes and evolves all the time, and immigrants/refugees/invaders have always been a main driving force behind that — “England” (and thus the US) is the product of at least five successive waves of invaders, and that’s *just the ones we know of historically*.

      The civilizations that are eternal and never change are only found in fantasy novels.

      Yes, change can be distressing. But unless you live the life of a feodal farmer in a remote backwater and are lucky enough not to be caught in a war or a plague, it’s unavoidable, it’s part of life.

      Frankly, if a civilization is “destroyed” (is a civilization ever destroyed? The language, religion and legal institutions of the Roman Empire survived the Empire itself and continue to this day in modified forms; and did you know minutes have 60 seconds, hours 60 minutes, and circles 360 degrees because we inherited this system from the Sumerians, who counted in base 60?), then that means it was not adapted to its environment, and was outcompeted by more adapted ones.

      • if a civilization is “destroyed” … then that means it was not adapted to its environment, and was outcompeted by more adapted ones.

        The people who claim that something threatens to destroy their civilization are proposing changes in that civilization, in this case less willingness to accept Muslim immigrants, in order to prevent that destruction. The point of their argument is the attempt to adapt the civilization to features of the environment they think it is poorly adapted to.

        So your point is not really a rebuttal of their position.

        • Machine Interface says:

          But then that means *they* are “destroying” (changing) it. If our civilization is founded on compassion toward strangers, then removing that is destroying an “essential” part of that civilization.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Um, perhaps there is a subtle difference between “changing” and “destroying”?

            Also, who told you our civilization is founded on compassion toward strangers? Granting that this principle is a Good Thing, I don’t find it high on the list of principles espoused in the Constitution or even most Enlightenment writers. None of them would expressly disavow it, I suppose, but it’s hard to see how one could characterize it as the foundation of our civilization.

          • Gazeboist says:

            It was pretty fundamental to the Greeks, though, and the Greeks were an important inspiration to those Enlightenment writers.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Gazeboist:

            It was pretty fundamental to the Greeks

            I know too little about ancient Greek culture to rebut this, or even seriously question it, but when I think about the ancient Greeks this is still not a big part of what comes to my mind. Citation please? And I mean that in a completely non-snarky way; I’m truly interested.

            That said, and accepting for the sake of argument your claim that the Greeks were a big influence on Enlightenment writers, I don’t think Greek ethics are what people are worried about losing. I recommend Daniel Hannan’s Inventing Freedom for a good exposition of how what is special to us arose.

          • Gazeboist says:

            Here’s the gist of it, which I’ve occasionally run into on miscellaneous wikiwalks. It’s clearly a matter of personal hospitality to the Greeks, but it’s easy to extend the concept to a societal level – if someone *wants* to join your society, you let them, and win out over the societies that don’t. If some other country is throwing its own people away, you take those people, get them on your side, and outperform the other idiots.

            — ed —
            For example, we win when we give visas to Chinese grad students looking to study in the US. It’s a perfect opportunity to advertise to them, to show how much better life is here, vs back in PRC-controlled lands. Same with people seeking work visas: they want to come here and participate in our economy and pay our taxes, and not work wherever they’re from or pay those taxes. Awesome! Get them in here.

            Refugees are of course the other side of the coin – we take them because they have reason to hate those who made them refugees. They are our allies, so we ought to treat them well.
            — end ed —

            (There are of course obligations on the guests as well, which we can extrapolate to an obligation to participate in the society they have joined, rather than isolating themselves and abandoning their hosts)

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Gazeboist:

            That was interesting; thanks.

            I’m not sure I’m convinced, but maybe we’re just quibbling over the meaning of “fundamental”.

            I’m fascinated that abducting your host’s wife is wrong mainly on the grounds that it violates the rules of hospitality. If I take that claim seriously, it would be fair to call hospitality fundamental in a way that it is not in our culture.

            The examples you added in editing are unobjectionable from a pragmatic standpoint, but I don’t think they stem from any foundational property of our culture (unless you count pragmatism).

          • It’s clearly a matter of personal hospitality to the Greeks, but it’s easy to extend the concept to a societal level – if someone *wants* to join your society, you let them, and win out over the societies that don’t.

            In ancient Athens, the best known and probably best recorded of the Greek city states, there were three major classes–citizens, slaves, and metics. Metics were foreigners resident in Athens, sometimes for many generations. For a metic to become a citizen was almost impossible–it required some striking service to Athens, and the reward even then might be only some of the privileges of citizenship.

            Metics were not permitted to own land in Attica, to marry an Athenian citizen, to vote or participate in the political process.

            Is that the institutional pattern that you are arguing we should copy from the Greeks?

        • dwietzsche says:

          How in the hell is a rebuttal necessary? Surely we are not actually obliged to confront arguments that we know have been ginned up by people whose idea of what constitutes American culture excludes vast existing portions of it. And that’s before we get into how much a person would have to know to exclude a refugee on this basis in the first place. Do Syrians believe things that are substantially in conflict with general American beliefs and political commitments? Which ones? Are the Christians and Alawites okay, but the Muslims not okay for some specific, identifiable reasons? Do people who think another 10k Syrian immigrants will be the straw that breaks the constitution’s back know anything whatsoever about Syrian culture and identity? No, right? We’re supposed to engage with a bullshit argument made in bad faith by people we know are xenophobes because something something reason? Give me a break.

          • birdboy2000 says:

            If we’re not willing to engage with their arguments, I wonder how the hell we’re ever supposed to defeat the people making them.

          • suntzuanime says:

            IIRC you strike them repeatedly with blunt objects, is the plan.

          • birdboy2000 says:

            I’m opposed to this strategy at this phase on the grounds that they also have blunt objects. Propaganda of the deed, although valuable in certain instances (when carefully targeted) can not in and of itself take the place of a robust case for revolution.

      • webnaut says:

        If you’re into a reading suggestion:

        The collapse of complex societies by Joesph Tainter

        I keep it next to my Lovecraft collection.

  23. Deiseach says:

    *picture of drowned Syrian kid posted online* Conservatives: “This is liberal propaganda.”

    And what was the result of the picture of the drowned child? A rush of guilt and a lot of activism which didn’t really result in much. The Germans softened their stance, but then all the sympathy was dissipated by the New Year’s Eve events and right now I think public opinion throughout Europe has definitely hardened towards refugees/asylum seekers/migrants.

    Count me out of this absurd movement that insists anything that might actually effect you emotionally is utter garbage to be tossed out the window.

    I didn’t like the Irish Navy being involved in the so-called “rescue missions” because that was emotional manipulation as well; the idea being that migrants on overcrowded and unsafe vessels were at risk and the various national governments were involved in a humanitarian operation to save them. I would have preferred my government being honest about what was going on: Italy wasn’t able to pay for migrant rescue services on its own anymore, the rest of Europe was being forced to live up to its responsibilities, and Operation Triton was about border controls as much, or even more, than search and rescue missions. The main impetus was to intercept migrants before they could reach Italy and make their way north into the rest of Europe. Those ‘rescued’ (and yes, often the vessels were on the point of sinking, so it wasn’t wholly false) are more or less dumped in Italy, which is resentful that the rest of Europe is not taking its share.

    So yes, don’t rely on emotional affect – it’ll get immediate but fleeting results and end up with people overstretched and resentful and much less likely to respond positively to the next emotional appeal where you try to make them feel guilty about being overstretched and resentful. People don’t like feeling guilty and this is as likely to result in them refusing to engage at all with what you are trying to do, as it is to result in them weeping copiously and throwing the contents of their wallet at your fundraising efforts.

    • webnaut says:

      Deiseach is right. Emotional manipulation is emotional manipulation. It doesn’t matter whether it succeeds in achieving some short term gain for the good, it is an intrinsically untrustworthy tactic that comes back and bites you in the ass the next time there’s an ‘event’.

      Having good governance is what matters here. Good governance is humane because it scales. Ad-hoc interventions end in tears because the side affects are more troubling than the initial issue.

      Don’t people remember the “temper of the times” with the WMDs in Iraq? The horrendous situation with hospital killings in Libya? And yet the only time interventionism appears to work (and it doesn’t always) is when it is totalizing, like the deNaziification program after World War II or the colonies. Systemic problems require systemic solutions.

      I note for instance, the attacks on the worshipers of the Peacock God occurred, went on in a drawn out process, and yet nobody did anything to help so far as I am aware.

      Then later on we decide to help people merely because they turn up on our shores?

      In what world does that lead to better outcomes for refugees?

      It’s good governance that would have saved those people. The DO SOMETHING crowd run out of steam as soon as the headlines disappear.

      • wysinwygymmv says:

        Deiseach is right. Emotional manipulation is emotional manipulation. It doesn’t matter whether it succeeds in achieving some short term gain for the good, it is an intrinsically untrustworthy tactic that comes back and bites you in the ass the next time there’s an ‘event’.

        Counterpoint: what’s being described as “emotional manipulation” is a fundamental aspect of how human beings communicate with each other. Those who decry “emotional manipulation” and insist they do not engage in it are fooling you and quite probably themselves.

        Having good governance is what matters here. Good governance is humane because it scales. Ad-hoc interventions end in tears because the side affects are more troubling than the initial issue.

        Yes, but you need a means to get good governance. In a democracy, that means getting popular support for good governance. Since no one can support every possible cause, this means you have to turn people’s attention and interest to the causes you think are most important. Attention and interest are predicated on actually caring about the issues, and actually caring entails having emotions regarding the issue.

        So appealing to people’s emotions is necessary for the sake of achieving the goal of implementing good governance. Does this have any impact on your opposition to making emotional appeals?

        Then later on we decide to help people merely because they turn up on our shores?

        From my perspective, since our “bad governance” (wars of choice) is the primary cause of their plight, we have made ourselves responsible for doing what we can to improve their lives. That’s debatable on a number of axes, but it’s also not obviously wrong or ridiculous.

        But I agree with you on interventionism, anyway.

        • webnaut says:

          > Those who decry “emotional manipulation” and insist they do not engage in it are fooling you and quite probably themselves.

          I realize our emotions exist for reasons and they are connected to our executive decision making function. We are not Vulcans.

          I’m talking about how the European media threw an image of a dead child into the faces of their readers/viewers. That is something you’d do to short circuit somebody’s brain. Every parent teared up seeing the little shoes on the beach. “That could be my child”.

          That’s an emotional clobbering.

          > Yes, but you need a means to get good governance. In a democracy, that means getting popular support for good governance. Since no one can support every possible cause, this means you have to turn people’s attention and interest to the causes you think are most important

          I agree that is the state of affairs, that’s what it is.

          Major flaws immediately jump out at me of course, but it’s OT.

          > So appealing to people’s emotions is necessary for the sake of achieving the goal of implementing good governance. Does this have any impact on your opposition to making emotional appeals?

          Yes and No.

          No in the sense that I would think it is a profoundly ad-hoc and dangerous mechanism to play with. It’s pass the parcel with a timebomb.

          Yes in the sense that if you have to get something done today you’ll have to play the game.

          It’s a case of whether your manipulations manage to surpass those of competitors. Who can shout the loudest? I doubt those who need help the most have the strongest voices.

          > From my perspective, since our “bad governance” (wars of choice) is the primary cause of their plight, we have made ourselves responsible for doing what we can to improve their lives.

          I have a very broad idea of what ‘bad governance’ means for MENA, so we might see eye to eye. That Egypt has a population of almost 100 million people is insane, nobody talks about it.

        • Deiseach says:

          wysinwygymmv, why do you think it is the good guys who alone will be able to pull off emotional manipulation? Why do you think people criticise Leni Riefenstahl?

          And as a side note, I am jaundiced because of things like the Hyde Park bombing where the great British public were more exercised by oh no, the horsies got hurted! To the point where they kept doing news reports for years afterwards on the horse that survived. Not so much about the dead humans.

          That’s the easy, unthinking sentimentality that doesn’t even engage the brain that your emotional manipulation relies upon and thrives upon. Hurted horsie – bad! Horsie better now – yay!

          And nobody need have a brain cell firing to think about a damn thing at all. What happens when you don’t have a handy photogenic subject nearby but you still have an injustice to mend? Who will support the dull grind of plain work without the emotional payoff of the zing! of cheap emotion?

          But I suppose Noel Coward was right: “Extraordinary how potent cheap music is” – and cheap sentiment.

          • silver and ivory says:

            I wonder if part of the disagreement here is that wysin (and I) have lower emotional arousal in response to emotional manipulation or more mechanisms for avoiding emotions; and so we end up expecting everyone else to have similar reactions and restraint.

            I know that I’ve written some posts regarding e.g. fear over Trump’s election and they’ve mostly focused on yelling at people to Stop Being So Afraid and Panicky, not on the media itself. And wysin seems to be assuming emotional manipulation as somewhat unalterable- a thing that everyone does and that you have to do to in order to keep up with the Joneses.

            But people like Deseach (etc.) seem to place more agency in the hands of the media- to report honestly, to improve their actions, and to avoid making emotional appeals.

            What does not seem fair to me is placing the onus on this refugee assistance program charity thing. It’s a classic coordination problem- if everyone stopped using emotional appeals, then everyone would be more rational and better-informed. But since everyone uses emotional appeals, to avoid using them puts you behind. The pressure, then, is on the readers to change how they consume media and what they demand from media, not a top-down piecemeal approach. If everyone has nuclear weapons, you can’t just disarm one side and expect flowers and roses.

  24. sconzey says:

    It’s always important to do due diligence on your charitable giving. Here’s an excerpt from a (representative) glassdoor review of the Urban Justice Center, the parent organisation of IRAP, with which it shares an office:

    Management for most projects is seriously problematic. Because there are no real checks and balances and no oversight by the head of Urban Justice, project directors basically mail it in. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. They never show up at the office, are abusive, punitive and retaliatory to staff, and are all commanding large salaries compared to their staffs, […]

  25. TomA says:

    Clearly, some low-risk people traveling to the US have been seriously harmed by the immediate effects of the new immigration EO, and they are deserving of aid and support to help them to overcome this adversity. Whenever practicable, helping at the personal level is mutually beneficial and actually aids both the humanitarian and security goals of the government’s involvement is immigration. In other words, complaining is not a solution, helping is.

  26. webnaut says:

    To Scott: You have done something un-sensible here. Quite guilty. Hypothesis: the general hysteria has gotten its tentacles into you.

    This is un-polite and an unwelcome sentiment I’m sure but I don’t see how equivocating helps.

    Let us use the oldest intellectual trick in the book and turn the position of the guest post upside down.

    “Today SSC has a guest post from NPI endorsing peaceful ethnic repatriation back to countries of origin, the readers of this blog could supply funding for this just cause”.

    I would be highly surprised to see such a post on SSC. So too I am a little disturbed to see its reversal. See it is not only a political stance, but also a political activity because of the request for funding.

    Naturally you don’t need to be neutral but I assume from my reading of this blog that you believe your beliefs need to pay rent, that they must be backed by a coherent rationale instead of intuition solo. If an argument for helping large numbers of Muslims migrate to Europe has been made on this blog I have not yet witnessed it. If arguments are assumed…

    The mood in America is becoming increasingly politically polarized and nasty. Feelings of all sorts are elevated now. It is surely not a coincidence you chose to review a book on the Holocaust, esp. concerning the plight of Jewish refugees before allowing this particular guest post also concerning modern day refugees. My view is this intimation is a *massive* conflation. The circumstances are not parallel.

    You’re affected by what I see to be a highly organized media campaign with its side affects on general mood affiliation, affects on friends just like most people are, in fact the more observant of the information flows in the Net and Media you are, the more likely you are to lose objectivity, it’s like standing in a river after heavy rainfall. That is why you’re clearly feeling pressure asking you: “Take a Side”. That pressure doesn’t exist for a positive reason. I believe it to be orchestrated. You could always choose your own side instead.

    Try a ‘Media Holiday’. 7 days of rest. See how it goes. My sense is that my American friends of late are losing their minds left and right.

    • TenMinute says:

      Try a ‘Media Holiday’. 7 days of rest. See how it goes.

      I can definitely second this. Better yet, let’s see if we can get a hundred people to do this as a control group, and see who sounds more sane next week.

      The best way to handle mental malware infection is the same way you handle it happening to your computer: Backup & Reset!

      • webnaut says:

        I can commit to a week without television/net access. What say the rest of you? Let’s make a plan for it. Surely the world won’t end in the meantime, it seems rather unlikely.

        • TenMinute says:

          I can commit to that, with the exception of a business email. But I don’t watch TV anyway, and a volunteer control group is going to have that kind of selection bias issue.

          • Skivverus says:

            On the selection bias issue – take volunteers for the experiment, not for the test group.
            (If anything, I’d volunteer for the control group, but I’m pretty sure I’d skew that as well; current news/social-media exposure is 90% SSC and links from here)

        • deciusbrutus says:

          Are we supposed to measure whether you sound more sane after the week than you do now, or whether one week away from media makes you more sane than the other group?

          • webnaut says:

            It is difficult to do this objectively, I don’t know if there exists an objective way to measure neurosis over time.

            I can tell you for a certainty though, that when I went for a 10 day
            Vipassana Meditation program, I felt like a billion bucks afterwards.

            My concentration levels shot way way up. I felt sharp and creative, *particularly concerning how I prioritized stuff*. Got a lot done the following 10 days, and consider the course a timesaver in that sense.

            I partially attribute this to not being in the loop with the Net/society.

            I expect temporarily abandoning the Net/Media will have similar but less dramatic affects.

            I suggest we keep a daily journal of how we feel about each day. One page. Something simple like that. Then we can share our experiences afterwards, see if anything changed. If not, it is no great loss.

            However I suspect letting go of the Net in particular, it is difficult for us to do, it is really more addictive than most of us are willing to admit.

          • TenMinute says:

            The former would be easier for a self-reporting survey.
            “Thinking back to how you felt last week, do you feel any kind of disconnect or emotional detachment? Do some things feel less or more important to you?”

            The latter’s going to be almost impossible to test, because half the judges would just say “He doesn’t want to riot and beat nazis now?! Bannon got to him too!

            Edit: I love the diary idea! If only it were possible to write one in a fugue state, to stop you forming a conscious link to your previous viewpoints.

            Now, if we can round up a dozen or so people, we might have something worth writing up afterwards.

          • webnaut says:

            @TenMinute

            How about from next Monday – Sunday? It’ll be slightly different depending on where we live but this is a rough experiment anyway.

            I’ll be Test Subject #1, who’ll be Test Subject #2?

            I’ll report back with 7 pages of brief observation on mood, thought patterning. I may even start up 30 min meditation sessions for further departing from the Net/Media zone.

            Thanks for the mental image of the CO Ludovico experiment, that made me laugh.

            See Ilya, the ‘enemy’ is selecting itself out of commission!

          • TenMinute says:

            That’d work for timing it with an announcement on Sunday’s 68.5 OT.
            And then we could do a wrap-up post… two wednesdays after on 69.25?

            I might not do 7 pages, but could probably be arsed to do that many paragraphs.

          • The Element of Surprise says:

            Someone could come up with a bunch of questions that the subjects need to make predictions on. E.g. probability of killing spree / terrorist attack / violent incident by [demographic of choice] within [timeframe], or probability of Trump behaving in certain ways. (The specific questions would need to be agreed on after the week is over, but without any input from the test subjects themselves.)

          • webnaut says:

            @TenMinute

            That sounds good to me.

            To clarify the dates: That is ‘Internet Outage Week’ which I handily happen to be right on GMT. So 6th Feb – 12 Feb GMT time.

            Then on Monday the 13th I’ll reintegrate into society!

            @The Element of Surprise

            I’ll have avoided any newspaper/Internet/Television or Radio. Will also tell coworkers not to talk to me about current events.

            So if you have a list of questions, you can present them to me here since I’ll come here first before venturing out onto the broader Net.

            This will be cool, like traveling through time! 🙂

          • The Element of Surprise says:

            Ideally someone who is not me should come up with questions, I am too remote from everyday American politics to know what would be interesting (not living in America and all…). I do think though that your own subjective assessment might more reflect your expectation of the effect of news abstinence than its actual effects.

          • TenMinute says:

            I am too remote from everyday American politics

            A) Congratulations
            B) Maybe that’s actually helpful for getting the questions right?

            But yeah, I agree that introspection might be the easy way. I’m really curious if I’ll get more or less worked up over stuff like this after a week away from it.

      • Ilya Shpitser says:

        I have a better idea.

        Given the speed and scope of Bannon’s executive orders, how about we _don’t_ take a seven day break while they consolidate. Or listen to people who are broadly on board with Bannon’s project, like you, trying to run interference for him.

        The way I said it on facebook is this: when it comes to coups and threats to the Republic, I am perfectly happy to increase type I errors, with associated costs, like people telling me I am overreacting, in exchange for driving type II errors down to zero.

        • Space Viking says:

          This is actually a good point. How about the classic technique of splitting time between left- and right-wing news sources?

        • TenMinute says:

          This is getting so crazy even I can’t tell if I’m a paid Russian shill any more.
          откуда эта чековая пришел?

          Making people terrified of missing a minute of toxoplasma is so much more effective than prying their eyes open with bits of metal! The Clockwork Orange guys could learn a thing or two from our media.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            I note you didn’t really contest being broadly on board with Bannon.

            Your Russian’s off.

          • suntzuanime says:

            So I guess you’ve already come up with a clever justification for ignoring everyone telling you that you’re hysterical, but seriously, dude. Not every call to chill out a little is a Soros-funded conspiracy.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            Well, look. 40% of Americans support impeachment of Trump, today.

            We are seeing protests the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Vietnam war. Koch brothers, the Hoover Institution, etc. are now saying “hmm, maybe this guy is going too far.”

            There are mass purges in the State department, the secret service, etc. The White House is turning off recording when talking to Putin.

            But you know, “everyone” by which we mean “two-three edgy commenters on slatestar” are telling me this is all an overreaction. I think you would need a very fancy theory of mass psychosis here, basically.

            You need to make peace with the fact that what you are seeing has a very simple explanation. Your views are too far out of mainstream. The mainstream disagrees with you. It’s not everyone being crazy, it’s you.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Ilya Shpitser – if it’s not too much trouble, have you got some links explaining why Bannon is so evil?

            [EDIT] – I am pretty sure Trump will serve out his term successfully, and then either be fairly re-elected or otherwise relinquish the white house peacefully.

            I am pretty sure the country will be better off at that time than it is now, and if it isn’t, my next guess would be no real change.

            You’re throwing all sorts of dark hints. What are your predictions on what things look like four years from now?

          • suntzuanime says:

            Ignore everyone [who’s] telling you you’re hysterical. Yes, you’re certainly in good company in your hysteria in the left-dominated parts of the broader world, I didn’t mean to suggest you were alone. Just that you’re more tribal and less sane than we try to be around here, and that cutting yourself off from feedback is not a good thing to do.

          • Space Viking says:

            @Ilya Shpitser:

            Did Donald Trump become president by being “too far out of the mainstream”?

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            I don’t think I am darkly hinting at all. I am openly worried about a coup (or at the very least serious damage to US checks and balances instutitions and culture), based on what I am seeing. And, when it comes to coups, I am perfectly happy to drive down type II errors to zero, at the expense of type I errors.

            From my point of view: if Bannon et al are ground to a halt in their more “ambitious” goals, or are ousted, and Trump administration becomes a regular GOP administration, and then there is a normal election and all becomes well, I would consider that success and the system working as intended.

            You can then proceed to be amused at my and others’ overreaction. I am ok with that, that’s the price of type I errors.

            Of course, type I errors for cancer screening, for example, are not something to mock as overreaction. Cancer is a serious disease, you don’t want to miss it because you are worried someone will call you a hypochondriac.

            suntzuanime: if 40% want impeachment today, that’s moving a bit past just “dailykos readers” that’s basically mainstream. And impeachment is pretty extreme — it’s not just disapproval. Also, I didn’t realize the Hoover Institution and the Kochs are left-wing. Apparently, I am not a student of the left-wing either.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            alright, my apologies for the poor word choice.

            If Bannon stays in and more or less gets to dictate policy for the next four years, what happens then?

            Claiming that you would rather overreact than underreact is great, so long as overreacting isn’t also extremely dangerous. Which, in this case, it pretty clearly is. You are minimizing the chance of a coup by driving up the chance of actual, no-shit civil war.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Overreaction and type 1 errors in cancer screening are a serious problem, actually, driving up medical costs and often causing their own medical problems due to unnecessary biopsies or treatments. It would be really, really dumb to try to drive type 2 errors down to zero, you’d be slicing up healthy organs left and right. You always need a balance, hysterics are never warranted.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            I would support pretty serious measures to oust Bannon. I think he is that dangerous.

            But actually, neither he nor Trump are popular — and it’s less than 2 weeks in. There will be no civil war, you are way overestimating popular support for your views. Or possibly you are well-aware how out-of-the-mainstream your views are, and you are just using implicit threat of violence as a bluff. I am happy to call your bluff, if so.

            One of the nicer “live hypotheses” I am maintaining is the moderate GOP establishment and democrats just lame-duck Trump in the first term (possibly the first year).

            Impeachment is also possible, given the level of sheer incompetence I am seeing, as long as enough of the GOP is on board with President Pence.

            Bad outcomes would include crazy conflicts with Iran and/or China, damaged institutions (due to executive overreach, and an established pattern of the executive branch ignoring the judicial for stupid culture war reasons). Possibly the end of the Republic itself.

            I think Bannon deserves his own post, I hope Scott writes one.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Ilya Shpitser – “I would support pretty serious measures to oust Bannon. I think he is that dangerous.”

            And if he’s not ousted? What happens then?

            I fervently believed that W was a serious threat to the nation and our way of life. I was assured by a great many voices that he was gearing up to suspend the constitution and plunge us into endless war and dictatorship. Voluminous evidence was supplied to support these claims, speeches and statements from his advisers and supporters, the whole works. I was so convinced it was going to happen, I fled the country.

            None of it happened.

            “But actually, neither he nor Trump are popular — and it’s less than 2 weeks in. There will be no civil war, you are way overestimating popular support for your views.”

            Trump won the election. Brexit happened, and has now been confirmed. Milo’s book is the #1 bestseller on amazon, for all categories. Meanwhile, red tribe is watching blue tribe cheer for literal-and-not-figurative mob violence day after day. How long do you think your side will get to beat people down on video before people start swinging back?

            [EDIT] – To be clear, I’m not asking for your hypotheses about what might happen. I’m asking, if Bannon stays in, what *will* happen? If you’re that sure he’s so evil, stake some rep on it and make a solid prediction.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            I don’t think black masked antifa are my side, dude. Nor are they the side of the ACLU, the endless peaceful protests (Women’s march, the upcoming scientists’ march, etc.), the Kochs, the 40% who want Trump gone.

            Trump did win the election (in part because Clinton was comically awful, and precisely the wrong candidate for the mood last year), and now he’s deeply unpopular two weeks in. So what’s your read on that — legitimate Vox Populi before, and mass hysteria now? I don’t think so.

            re: Bannon, as best as I can tell, he will implement the vision he talked about in the past, a radical reorg of American civic society, possibly using war as an aid to shock the system. I think he explicitly mentioned war with China before. He talks about shocking the system a lot.

            I am a simple man, I go by what people say and write. We already had one round of “don’t take Trump literally,” thank you.

          • suntzuanime says:

            In an effort to find a second example for your “endless peaceful protests”, you have to include one that hasn’t even happened yet and for all you know will turn violent. Assuming you haven’t gotten the inside scoop from Soros as to where he plans to deploy his riot squads, of course.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            The scientist march will be the next super large one. There have been DC protests every day, and larger ones every weekend. I know because I go there.

            Also at airports, in larger cities, etc.

            Why don’t you ask anyone who lives in DC when was the last time they saw something like this. I will wait.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Ilya Shpitser – “I don’t think black masked antifa are my side, dude.”

            You’re vociferously anti-trump. They’re beating trump supporters with staves. I apologize if I fail to grasp the subtle distinctions.

            “Trump did win the election (in part because Clinton was comically awful, and the precisely the wrong candidate for the mood last year)”

            Well, that’s certianly true…

            “…and now he’s deeply unpopular two weeks in. So what’s your read on that — legitimate Vox Populi before, and mass hysteria now? I don’t think so.”

            Propaganda works, same as it ever did. Everyone is screaming that Trump is the end of the world, so people start believing it. The problem is, you can’t sustain this indefinitely. Take your predictions about Bannon. Nothing Trump or Bannon have done at this point is actually illegal, and they have not yet committed massive horrors. Every day that string extends, your argument looks sillier and more hysterical. If it goes long enough, people are going to stop listening to these arguments entirely, and Trump and Bannon get to ride the backlash.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            Sounds to me like it is in your best interest to egg people on, rather than get them to stop.

            Border patrol people not obeying a judge is actually illegal. A lot of Bannon’s stuff is soon to be ruled unconstitutional.

            You fail to grasp the subtle distinction between opposing someone peacefully, using protest and argument and donations and legal challenges, and beating someone up?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Ilya Shpitser – “Sounds to me like it is in your best interest to egg people on, rather than get them to stop.”

            My prediction is that Trump and Bannon won’t commit any horrors, and in fact the backlash will happen when people burn out on the hysteria. On the other hand, I like as little blood in the streets as possible, so I would rather not see mob violence normalized in America. Does that seem like a reasonable goal to you? Certianly we’ve had people in these threads who wouldn’t agree that mob violence was worth condemning.

            “You fail to grasp the subtle distinction between opposing someone peacefully, using protest and argument and donations and legal challenges, and beating someone up?”

            “punch a nazi” was a very popular meme. People in these threads have argued for it. I’ve been chatting with one of them much of this morning. They justify such violence based on a similar apocalyptic view of Trump’s presidency. Assuming you disapprove of such violence, it’s still a problem that it is being actively normalized. If you are wrong about Trump/Bannon, it’s possible the violence gets out of hand anyway. You definately aren’t going to get your moderate, old-school GOP administration then.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            I certainly am against normalizing mob violence. But I don’t think mob violence is what’s born out by the facts. Take for instance the recent Milo thing. There was a large, peaceful protest, and then antifa showed up. These were not the same people, and the “peaceful protest” types are now thinking about ways of policing their own protests. In part because of immediate backlash, and in part because peaceful protests have been shown historically to be significantly more effective.

            Meanwhile, your good friend Mr. Trump is threatening UC Berkeley. Which is bizarrely stupid because: (a) UC Berkeley was definitely not behind the violent protests, or indeed any protests, and (b) he clearly doesn’t understand how federal university funding works (or indeed much of anything).

            During the inauguration protests in DC, the antifa type stuff caused a really awful police reaction that caught a lot of innocent people in the “peaceful protest” category, well documented online.

            More generally, I bet I have physically been present at a lot more protests than you, since Trump’s inauguration. And I am telling you, there is no violence norm, mob or otherwise, there. Where do you get your info? Wasn’t someone cautioning me earlier about media-induced hysterics?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Ilya Shpitser – “There was a large, peaceful protest, and then antifa showed up.”

            They were not protesting his message, they were protesting him being able to speak at all. Then antifa showed up and in fact prevented him from speaking, and beat people on the assumption that they might be his supporters. As I understand it, the protest continued with music and celebration, no one was arrested, and people seemed pretty keen on the whole thing right up until they started realizing how bad it looked to the rest of the country.

            “These were not the same people, and the “peaceful protest” types are now thinking about ways of policing their own protests.”

            That would be a welcome change, and I look forward to seeing it. There is zero reason to allow this sort of bullshit. No good will come of it.

            “During the inauguration protests in DC, the antifa type stuff caused a really awful police reaction that caught a lot of innocent people in the “peaceful protest” category, well documented online.”

            I’ve missed that completely, but did greatly enjoy hearing that they were being charged with felony rioting. That seems like an appropriate response to me.

            “More generally, I bet I have physically been present at a lot more protests than you, since Trump’s inauguration. And I am telling you, there is no violence norm, mob or otherwise, there.”

            If I showed up at these events wearing a Trump hat, how sure of my safety would you be?

            “Where do you get your info? Wasn’t someone cautioning me earlier about media-induced hysterics?”

            It’s one thing to read “those people over there totally want to hurt you!” It’s another thing to read “goddamn, I want to hurt you so bad, and can’t wait till I get a chance!” As you say, take people at their word.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            By the way, re: “burnout and backlash” and violence in protests:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJSehRlU34w

            (TEDx Boulder talk).

            I have not seen anyone with a red hat at DC protests, but I have seen anti-abortion people, and the worst that happened is repeated chanting of “her body — her choice” (by men) and “my body — my choice” (by women), as people passed by the (stationary) subprotest.

            Also there is a definite strand of Trump supporter that trolls to get beat up (correctly calculating that anti-Trump violence benefits Trump tremendously, and justifies repressive measures against protests later), e.g. this guy at the DC inauguration protests:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kl-PPMcrKgQ

          • Space Viking says:

            @Ilya Shpitser:

            I still haven’t heard a rational argument detailing why Trump and Bannon are bad.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            I go by what Bannon wrote, and by how he acted in his previous life. I don’t know if this meets your standard of rationality, but I don’t particularly care. I am not a member of the rationalist community, and I am not trying to convince you (or call you names), just get a read on you. And I very much appreciate Trump supporters opening up their thinking, in their own words here — I think this is a very valuable service slatestar provides.

            I am much more interested in convincing moderates than people like you.

          • Space Viking says:

            @Ilya Shpitser:

            I was genuinely curious as to whether or not to take your Chicken Little story seriously, so if you’re not going to argue for it than thank you for answering that question.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Ilya Shpitser – Yeah, the middle finger guy was a complete jackass.
            On the other hand, you’ll forgive me if I’m less than confident in the peaceful inclinations of the anti-trump movement.

            Thank you for the other link. I’ll give it a spin.

          • Deiseach says:

            I have to say, I’m now really interested in the forthcoming March for Science. If it’s boring old “science is neutral and research should get more government funding”, I’d be happy – but I’m willing to bet it won’t be.

            I’m wondering exactly how many “more funding for research” banners versus “queer differently abled trans POC intersex scientists needed!” banners are going to be on show, and who gets covered more in the news. I’m not against diversity, I am a little chary of the idea that merely mixing in some more non-standard elements will bring about a blossoming of “increasingly diverse research” and what exactly that is meant to mean?

            That there might/might not be a few black-clad brick flingers turning up for giggles just makes things even more interesting.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            Deiseach, aside from the usual global warming stuff, an enormous issue that will be protested at the scientist march is the heavy impact on recruiting talented graduate students and postdoctoral researchers that the travel ban (particularly of Iranians) had.

            The impact on “terrorism prevention” of those people not being able to come to the US is essentially zero, while the negative impact on US research competitiveness is enormous. Generally, Trump supporters don’t realize any of this, due to a combination of “not onboard with empiricism for evaluating claims” and “doesn’t understand how academia works.”

          • ThirteenthLetter says:

            @Ilya Shpitser: I note that you quietly dropped the whole thing about the gentle, peaceful protesters in Berkeley after it was pointed out that a) the gentle, peaceful protesters were there to prevent a person from speaking and b) the gentle, peaceful protesters made no attempt to stop the antifa from mixing in with them and, indeed, cheered them on as they beat people in the streets.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            People are welcome to peacefully protest whatever they want, including Milo coming to campus. That would not have stopped Milo’s coming or speaking at all.

            For example, right now people are peacefully protesting Trump’s weekend vacation. I don’t think this is stopping Trump’s vacation.

            Antifa’s violent protests certainly stopped Milo from speaking.

            Is your claim the main peaceful protest was deliberately providing cover to the antifa? Something else? There is no need to hint, just come right out and say it. Want to link some reading material on this?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Ilya Shpitser – “Is your claim the main peaceful protest was deliberately providing cover to the antifa? Something else? There is no need to hint, just come right out and say it. Want to link some reading material on this?”

            It sure looks that way to me. Antifa use the protesters for cover, the protesters get to watch and cheer while Antifa beat their opponents down. Someone in these threads mentioned that in South America, peaceful protesters respond to the violent types by sitting down on the spot, thus isolating them and making it easy for police to round them up. I’ve seen no effort toward that sort of thing. I’ve seen a few people mention the pre-protest prep manuals; is there anything in them about minimizing mob violence or assisting/cooperating with the cops in removing rioters? I see a ton of cell-phones out in all these videos; how many of the protesters volunteer that video to the police to help ID the thugs? There’s already at least one Berkeley employee who appears to have been bragging about beating people down on twitter; how many people are willing to come forward if they spot these guys admitting to their crimes, online and off?

            You’ve mentioned that you do protests with some frequency. I don’t. Maybe all the above is wildly off-base. From the outside, though, it sure as hell looks like they’re in cahoots, and the majority of the crowd was totally fine with what they were doing.

            more discussion of the same point here.

          • stillnotking says:

            In previous protests, like the Ferguson protests in ’14, peaceful protesters at least made some attempt to remonstrate with or clean up after the black blocs. It was caught on video on several occasions. Anecdotally, it seems to me that there was more rhetoric of the “these guys are screwing it up for the rest of us” variety, which I also remember from my own time spent protesting the Iraq War in ’03. We hated the black blocs almost as much as we hated Bush; prevailing opinion was that they were playing into the hands of the right, by allowing every protest to be called a “riot” by Fox if a few windows got broken.

            That’s just my impression. Could be nostalgia goggles, could be that I’m not as plugged in to the activist left as I was back then. I’m seeing a disturbing number of triumphalist comments on reddit about punching fascists, but reddit wasn’t around in ’03 either.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            “From the outside, though, it sure as hell looks like they’re in cahoots, and the majority of the crowd was totally fine with what they were doing.”

            This is why I am asking for reading material. This is a specific claim you are making. Where did it come from? I want to read about what happened (I wasn’t at Berkeley, obviously, I am on the east coast).

          • vV_Vv says:

            I don’t think black masked antifa are my side, dude. Nor are they the side of the ACLU, the endless peaceful protests (Women’s march,

            You mean the Women’s march where Madonna was on a stage talking about how much she thought of blowing up the White House?

            Yep, certainly nothing in common with the black masked antifa. /s

            Take for instance the recent Milo thing. There was a large, peaceful protest, and then antifa showed up. These were not the same people, and the “peaceful protest” types are now thinking about ways of policing their own protests.

            #NotAllProtesters. Except for the many “mainstream” left-wing media and academics praising the riot, and hardly any of them condemning it. Or for the mainstream journalists cheering Richard Spencer being punched in the face at Trump’s inauguration. Or their various overt calls for Trump’s assassination since the day after the election.

            But Trump is the threat to democracy. /s

        • when it comes to coups and threats to the Republic, I am perfectly happy to increase type I errors, with associated costs, like people telling me I am overreacting, in exchange for driving type II errors down to zero.

          Repeatedly raising the alarm and being wrong–type I error–makes it harder to prevent a type II error.

          aka “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”

          • Jaskologist says:

            When it comes to threats to the Republic, destroying the norm that the losers in an election accept the winner as legitimate is itself a type II error. This is way worse than just crying wolf.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            re: “boy who cried wolf”: Indeed. The thing is, folks on the left used to raise holy hell about Dubya, and I am sure also about Bush Sr., and Reagan. And that’s precisely the problem you point to now (many people identified it, for example Bill Maher). I certainly didn’t, but this isn’t about me, but crappy norms of discourse.

            But on balance, the sheer numbers of unhappy people, even compared to Dubya should tell you something, and I don’t think this “something” is increased number of completely mindkilled “dailykos” type leftists in America.

            By the way, I accept Trump is having legitimately won — I think the vast majority of Americans do, also. I am almost certain our good friends in the East screwed around in various ways, but it is very hard to assign specific degree of responsibility. So at worst, legitimacy is a very complicated counterfactual question. In practice, people have just accepted the election results.

            The fact that 40% of Americans also want Trump impeached is not an expression of his illegitimacy, but of the fact that he is terrible (sort of by definition — name the last president in the last 200 years that 40% of the population wanted gone 12 days in).

          • Jaskologist says:

            The fact that they want him impeached only 12 days in *is* the strong evidence of mind-killing. What has he done that’s justified this? Ordered a wall built, citing a law voted for by Obama, Clinton, Biden, Bush, etc? Nominated a mainstream conservative for the Supreme Court, a pick who could just as easily have been made by Cruz or Rubio? Botched the implementation of a temporary visa ban? These are hardly unprecedented actions, and are very in line with what he promised to his voters in the campaign (except for the botching part).

            The Woman March was all set up before Trump had even done anything; they were basically protesting the fact that they lost the election. All of this looks like a continuation of the same. The immigration protesters can at least claim to have an issue this time around, but it’s an issue that lost at the ballot box.

            Losing an election is not a valid reason to impeach. It doesn’t become more valid because the losers are being extra sore about it. If you want to talk impeachment you need a lot more than “if true” and “this thing that has been going on forever is Hitler because this time it’s affecting me.”

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            “Losing an election is not a valid reason to impeach.”

            It’s certainly not. This was just a poll question, and an expression of how people feel about how Trump is doing. I am sure there are a lot of sore losers out there, re: Trump’s win, but I notice you keep going back to that explanation, not to a long string of controversial, stupid and incompetent stuff Trump’s circle keeps doing.

            I mean I can understand if you personally think they are not being stupid or incompetent, it is your prerogative in our free country to think that. And you can certainly think everyone who disagree with you is mindkilled or a sore loser — and that’s precisely the kind of read on people like you I am here for.

          • I don’t know if you are correct about the number who want Trump impeached–it’s pretty clear which side the organization that did the poll was on, and it would be interesting to see results from other sources.

            But I think you are correct that there is much stronger opposition to Trump than is usual for a newly elected president. I think that partly reflects increasing political polarization over time, partly the fact that Trump deliberately defied the center-left orthodoxy represented by most of the media and the academy, leaving the sizable minority of the population which supports that orthodoxy furious at him.

            So the people who, in past elections, would have said “I wish the other guy won, but since he lost we will have to do make do with the guy who won” are more likely this time to want to keep fighting.

    • Randy M says:

      Sometimes Scott advocates for mitigating AI risk, sometimes he suggests ways to do so. Those posts don’t necessarily have to be the same, nor even come in that order, though that might be the most effective. Similarly here. No harm done, really.

      • webnaut says:

        I’ve lurked this blog for easily over three years, and remember no laid out explanation for a pro-migration stance. Of course I won’t know Scott’s position on everything and am sure I have forgotten much, but I do not recall arguments or advocacy on this subject before now. I think this deserves to be noticed if true.

        I was one of those people in the SSC survey who suggested that Scott post less. Not because I want less SSC, but because I think a blogger always risks exhausting ‘attention capital’ over a wide range of minor details/events and then pond skipping over the truly serious stuff. My favorite Scott posts are always when he’s dug deep into something interesting, and perhaps if he were so inclined the refugee issue could be one of those topics.

        I find myself I cannot force myself to delve deeply into something upon demand, so I understand if Scott doesn’t do so. Sometimes I am grabbed by a ‘spirit’ and hare off far into unfamiliar territory, it’s always interesting when it happens but I find I cannot compel such enthusiasm artificially.

        • Randy M says:

          I’ve lurked this blog for easily over three years, and remember no laid out explanation for a pro-migration stance

          Hence, the call to action and the argument for the action are not in the same post nor in that order. Also, though, less effective. But I don’t think he’s out of line to alert people who already agree with him on the issue of a pressing opportunity while he still works out his supporting arguments (he’s mentioned working on an immigration post a few times).

    • Ilya Shpitser says:

      Out of curiosity, what country are you from?

      • webnaut says:

        If you’re genuinely concerned paid shilling/plotting (which I’ll grant is sometimes a real thing), I’ll give Deiseach my landline phone number in Ireland, you can request that she call it, and if she agrees then Deiseach can confirm that the person on the other end claimed to be webnaut.

        That still leaves other possibilities, but not the organized nefarious sort. #NotMacedonia

        • wysinwygymmv says:

          That’s a conspicuously verbose way to say “Ireland”. On that basis, you have provided decent evidence that you’re actually Irish.

          You would have gotten bonus points by ending with: “Am I right or am I right?”

        • Ilya Shpitser says:

          I am definitely concerned about shills, but not here. Because slatestar is not important, in the greater scheme of things. It’s useful for getting a read on people with crazy views who can also string two words together.

          I was just curious about demographics of out-of-US Trump supporters.

          • webnaut says:

            Actually I don’t with agree the SSC assessment. There’s different sorts of influencing. The news cycle or political cycle hype/shilling doesn’t have lasting power. It’s political ideas and technological artifacts that have real power. That’s where you’d insert your spoke if you were a serious actor.

            I have seen on at least three occasions obscure online political philosophy associations having enormous resonance many years later. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is one but there are quite a few examples if you think about it. And all of this is just beginning to unfold, glorious!

            I keep bumping into the similar sorts of people under different alts, David Friedman is one of them for example, Yvain is another, Nick Szabo another. There really are not that many people out here on the frontier. The Internet isn’t as big as is popularly imagined, you eventually keep running into the same people in sometimes surprising but non-random ways.

            I’m a Thiel supporter, less so a Trump supporter. I support Peter Thiel’s drive for the techno-political frontier. It’s where everything interesting is happening. His sort is rarer and more important than President Trump and in many ways will be far more powerful as the decades play out. You cannot name the 21st president of the United States, but you can name the inventions of the period all around you. You sit at a desk where you hopefully Touch Type (1888), with some ballpoint pens scattered before you (also 1888). Inventors and clever businessmen put that together. At the beginning it looks like nothing, and in the end it is all that really matters.

          • It’s useful for getting a read on people with crazy views who can also string two words together.

            I agree. On the whole I find people who are crazy and coherent, left or right, more interesting than people within the usual range of views.

            There seem to be more of them lately.

          • Deiseach says:

            It’s useful for getting a read on people with crazy views who can also string two words together.

            We are ALL (everyone of us on here save Scott) terrible people and I am very proud of us 🙂

        • Deiseach says:

          I’ll give Deiseach my landline phone number in Ireland, you can request that she call it, and if she agrees then Deiseach can confirm that the person on the other end claimed to be webnaut

          Ah, but how will you know I’m me and not a Macedonian click farmer or a paid Trump shill pretending to be me?

          (If there is money going, please somebody pay me! I’m churning out all this free content and getting nothing for it, I might as well be working for the UK Huffington Post!)

          • I’m churning out all this free content and getting nothing for it, I might as well be working for the UK Huffington Post!

            I am reliably informed, practically every day on FaceBook, that the oil companies pay people to post attacks on AGW believers and George Soros pays people to post attacks on AGW skeptics. Why don’t you arrange to rent your considerable rhetorical talents to both sides?

            Serving both sides avoids any moral worries about the possibility that you may be working for a bad cause, so saves you the trouble of deciding which side you are actually on. And it doubles your market.

          • webnaut says:

            It’s quite the rabbit hole. Maybe we’re both Trump Shills and Ilya is an Agent Provocateur.

            There’s an argument by some in Silicon Valley, people like Jaron Lanier that users ought to be compensated for the data they produce which is read by machines e.g. the machine learning neural networks in most cases couldn’t operate without it. Think of every time you’ve entered a capcha. Since no basic science breakthroughs have been made in AI and the majority of innovation has to do with human data aided AI, companies will require much more data from us in the future and ought to pay us for that.

  27. Jane Doe says:

    Ultimately I think the part where Trump flat out ignored the judicial branch is more important than changes to immigration…

    This is a strong claim of a particular fact. The SSC readership strongly encourages strong claims about matters of fact to be accompanied with credible supporting evidence. Do you have evidence to back up your claim? News reports about the effects of immigration restriction and the like are acceptable pieces of secondary evidence, but primary sources (in this particular case, Court Orders, Executive Orders, substantive official press releases by Executive or Judicial Branch officials that make specific assertions that directly support the claim) are also required.

    For example, say that I made the claim “The decision made by the Trump Administration on January 28th to continue to refuse entry to international travelers who were overseas and had yet to board a plane or boat headed for the US violated court orders.”. If my sole citation is a cnn.com op-ed on the evils of immigration restriction, my claim is unsupported. If I additionally cite both Darweesh v. Trump and EO 13769, and the text of those documents supported my claim, then my claim is credible and supported by evidence. (Unfortunately for me, the text of Darweesh v. Trump doesn’t support my hypothetical claim.)

    • Ilya Shpitser says:

      There were reports from ACLU lawyers and sitting senators from the ground at Dulles and LAX about border patrol people ignoring a judicial order.

      • Space Viking says:

        Any reports from neutral observers?

        • Ilya Shpitser says:

          Who would qualify by your lights and be there?

          Are you saying the ACLU and senators are openly lying?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            They might be. ACLU is made of humans, and senators are senators.

            If they aren’t, prosecute the guys who gave the order.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            Oddly, border patrol higher ups did not show their face, and communicated by paper slips. My interpretation of which is that they

            (a) well knew what they did was illegal, and tried to hedge against later issues, and

            (b) placed victory in the culture war against the hated outgroup above the rule of law. In other words, they are traitors, and sold the Republic quite cheaply indeed. They could have waited until the judge was overruled, or the case was decided by some court. But no, they wanted to boss some immigrants around today.

            I fly internationally a lot for my job, I know the type.

            This is actually quite dangerous, but in a sense I am glad these folks “outed themselves” now.

          • Space Viking says:

            @ Ilya Shpitser:

            Your first question is a fair one. Is anyone non-partisan anymore? I’m genuinely not sure. But I’m certainly not going to believe the sources you mentioned.

            As for your second, yes I am saying that senators are openly lying. Is that surprising to you? The same for the ACLU: they have left their original mission behind and become a partisan leftist organization. Somebody needs to make the ACLU great again.

          • Space Viking says:

            @ Ilya Shpitser:

            Also, “traitor” is a strong word. Was Andrew Jackson a traitor when he, for the good of the Republic, refused to follow the rule of judges? (If that’s even what happened in this contemporary case, which I doubt).

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            Let’s revisit your claim in a few days. There is no hurry, there is a nice stay out of Seattle, also.

            By the way, if it later turns out the ACLU/senators were not lying, what would be the takeaway for you and for me? Similarly if they were lying.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Ilya Shpitser – “By the way, if it later turns out the ACLU/senators were not lying, what would be the takeaway for you and for me? Similarly if they were lying.”

            …Whatever the legal penalty is for whatever the illegal thing they did was, and the same for whoever ordered it. The law should be enforced. I’m pretty sure it’s not illegal for the ACLU to lie when not under oath, and senators lie all the time, so if they were lying, I expect nothing at all will happen to them.

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            The point is, the executive branch ignoring the judiciary branch because LOLTRUMP, if true, is a big deal.

            Law of iterated expectations: if ACLU lied, we should believe more in people overreacting. If ACLU did not lie, we should believe less in people overreacting.

            (Rationalists have another name for this, but that’s because they don’t learn standard names for things, and invent their own.)

          • FacelessCraven says:

            Ilya Shpitser – That seems reasonable, sure. Did Trump actually order them to ignore this order, though? Or did they do it on their own sayso, or did some border person order it? [EDIT] – If he ordered them to disobey a court order, then I guess hit him with whatever the penalty for that is.

            To be clear, I am saying that if someone broke the law, throw the book at them. If it’s a bureaucratic snafu that lasted an hour or two at most before being cleared up, probably the book is going to be a fairly light one. If it’s something more serious, prosecute it like it’s more serious. I don’t actually give much of a shit which it is. If you can get good evidence that Trump should be impeached, then impeach him.

            “a lot of people don’t like him” isn’t strong evidence, though. The election is a popularity contest. The actual presidency isn’t.

            [EDIT] – …It seems like every time I post a reply, the text I’m replying to has changed a bit. Am I going crazy?

          • Ilya Shpitser says:

            No you are not, I sometimes edit to clarify after posting. I am not trying to gaslight you, it’s just how I write.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Ilya – it’s cool sir. I do it too. I’ve just never had a conversation this quick with someone who edits as much as me. the danger of a recursive edit spiral is real.

      • webnaut says:

        > This is a strong claim of a particular fact. The SSC readership strongly encourages strong claims about matters of fact to be accompanied with credible supporting evidence.

        That’s the ideal. Here are my impressions.

        The headlines and discussion on Reddit said or strongly implied the enforcement end of the government was outright ignoring a judge’s orders. Mood: Shocking, worrying.

        On Voat and other more right leaning sites it was said or strongly implied that there was one or a few individual cases where a judge had given an order countering Trump’s order which may or may not have been ignored, but that the majority of cases were ‘business as usual’ and Trump’s order was being carried out legally in the clear. Mood: No trouble in Paradise.

        I haven’t verified the sources but my assumption is that both sides are taking different information, most of which is accurate about the same event e.g. a judge did countermand Trump’s order, but not for the majority of cases.

        I expect this to be a whitegold/blackblue dress situation.

        Now I’ll go check on what actually happened, and maybe it’ll be an interesting contrast to my ‘received impression’.

        – Time Passed and an Edit was Made –

        http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/01/29/512272524/of-courts-and-confusion-heres-the-reaction-to-trumps-immigration-freeze

        “That order — which temporarily bars citizens from seven largely Muslim countries, as well as all refugees, from entering the U.S. — was blocked in part by a federal judge in Brooklyn on Saturday night. Addressing a lawsuit brought by two Iraqi men detained Saturday in New York, Judge Ann Donnelly issued a stay that would temporarily prevent federal agents from deporting anyone who entered the U.S. with a valid visa.”

        I think it means people *already* in the country cannot be deported, but those who have not yet landed on American soil may be deported. That would account for the ‘partial block’.

        What this should mean is that whether or not you can be deported legally bends on whether you are technically in America. If you are in Dublin Airport with a ticket to the US, you may be prevented from flying. I am unsure of whether you’re classified as being on American soil while you’re in the airport because it may hinge on whether you’ve passed passport controls. #remembersnowdenatairport

        Later on I read: “The temporary stay issued by the federal judge in Brooklyn appears to cover as many as 200 people across the country,”.

        So this confirms what I thought, that this is specifically about those people ‘neither here nor there’, basically caught between two changes of procedure.

        What this is not about even according to NPR, is a judge actually preventing Trump’s executive order from being carried out.

        What I take from this is that for whatever reason (recklessness or political tactics) between 2 and 200 people were or are in limbo.

        However this is not a dispute in the government about the legitimacy of Trump’s executive order. It’s about the fallout from practically implementing it. Taking care of an edge case.

        Do you agree with this interpration Ilya?

        I had the impression from Reddit the upset was over the entire E.O being a violation of the law but that doesn’t appear to be so.

        This could have been handled differently to prevent the 200 possible migrants being in a legal limbo and DHS bullying/confusion (take your pick) but I have to muse on if there was a method behind the rush, maybe for optics or preventing legal challenges.

        • Jane Doe says:

          What this should mean is that whether or not you can be deported legally bends on whether you are technically in America. If you are in Dublin Airport with a ticket to the US, you may be prevented from flying.

          That is my read on it as well.

          Edit: (Though I would note that you cannot be deported if you are not physically in the country. In the case of the traveler in Dublin Airport, she will either be prevented from boarding her plane because the US State Department refused to issue her a valid visa, or she will attempt to enter the country without a valid visa, will then not be “legally authorized to enter the United States”, will not be protected by the Darweesh v. Trump Order, and will likely be -entirely legally- deported.)

          If you find Federal Judicial Orders or Decisions or similar such documents that actually strike down parts of Executive Order 13769, I would be very interested to read them. You can read EO 13769 in its entirety on the Federal Register’s website. (If you don’t know about the Federal Register, do a bit of reading. They’re a most excellent function of the government.)

          Kudos for taking the time to learn about the facts of the situation and reporting back your findings.

      • Jane Doe says:

        There were reports from ACLU lawyers and sitting senators from the ground at Dulles and LAX about border patrol people ignoring a judicial order.

        The CIA is a part of the Executive Branch. Just like the DHS and the State Department, it can reasonably be called a part of the sitting President’s Administration.

        Let’s say that there’s currently an ongoing Congressional investigation into allegations of severe, criminal CIA misconduct. As part of the investigation, the CIA was compelled to hand over relevant evidence from its Agency to the Congressional Investigative Committee. A few months from now, (Let’s say, April 2nd) the Committee discovers that the CIA remotely (and without Congressional authorization) removed portions of that evidence from the Committee’s computers at some point between the time that the evidence was handed over to the Committee and April 2nd.

        Absent any credible supporting evidence, would it be fair to describe the situation as “Trump tampered with evidence submitted by the CIA to a Congressional Investigative Committee.”?

        If you feel that it would not be fair, then what are the critical differences between that hypothetical statement and the Guest Author’s claim that “Trump flat out ignored the judicial branch[.]”?

        • Just a note to the previous couple of threads, pointing out that Trump, faced with an unambiguous court order from a judge in Seattle, obeyed it.

          He also said unkind things about the judge on Twitter.

  28. dalemannes says:

    “The majority of IRAP’s day to day work involves processing appeals for individual refugees whose requests to resettle in the U.S. were denied”

    Foreigners don’t have some inherent right, not legal nor moral, to resettle in the US.

    Would you fund a charity to legally fight for students denied admission the the university of their choice? Even if they were seeking refuge from less prestigious universities? Could a charity fight for people locked out of other people’s houses? Even if they were seeking refuge from having a less desirable living situation?

    • stillnotking says:

      Foreigners don’t have some inherent right, not legal nor moral, to resettle in the US.

      I’ve literally never seen anyone argue that they do. I’m sure you can dig up a Tumblr blog that thinks so if you really look, but that is not a mainstream position, to say the very least. (The closest I’ve seen are activists who believe Mexicans have a right to occupy land that was stolen from Mexico. Again, not a mainstream position, and not a generalized one.)

      The case for admitting refugees rests on a combination of charity and pragmatism, i.e. that these are people whom Americans can afford to help, at little cost to ourselves, in the short term, and who will be contributing members of society in the long term. It is, of course, possible to argue against either of those presumptions, but arguing against a straw version is a waste of time.

      • YehoshuaK says:

        ” but arguing against a straw version is a waste of time.”

        It’s not a waste of time if you’re more concerned with whether you win than with how you win. That’s why fallacies exist.

        However, considering that the article at the top of this blog claims that the EO violated the Constitution, I think that Elizabeth Van Nostrand does claim that foreigners have a Constitutional right to come to the USA. Unfortunately, she didn’t flesh out her view of how the EO violates the Constitution, so I cannot be sure.

        • stillnotking says:

          I assume she meant it violated the Constitution by being discriminatory, or perhaps by overstepping the bounds of presidential authority. (Neither true IMO — I disagree with the EO, but it seems perfectly legal.)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I believe that the constitutional question is that of the establishment clause. Given that immigration is law federal law, passed by Congress, the establishment clause applies (even though the immigrants aren’t citizens).

            I believe the current rulings are that there is ample evidence of intended religious discrimination. We will see what happens as it works it’s way through the system.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Establishment clause? Where do you get an Establishment clause violation? The refugee part of the order contains religious discrimination in as much as it says that to be legally considered at risk for religious persecution you must be a member of a minority religion in your home country (whether that includes Sunnis in Shia countries or vice-versa is not clear), but that’s discriminating against a religion, not “respecting an establishment of religion”.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @The Nybbler:

            IANAL, so, grain of salt and all.

            Robart ordered the injunction because he believed that Washington and Minnesota were likely to win their case on the merits, and they are make a constitutional claim.

            In the allegations section of the complaint you can see the arguments for why it should be considered a religious test.

            Of note, the order specifically mentions religion (minority religion in the country is granted special status), and Trump subsequently specifically referenced prioritizing Christians.

            Then you have Robart asking Bennett in court “How many citizens of the seven Muslim-majority countries targeted by the ban [have] been arrested on domestic terrorism charges since 9/11?” And answering the question for himself (zero).

          • A Definite Beta Guy says:

            Caveat IANAL, but I do not find the complaint at all convincing. #45 is entirely wrong, the nations were selected from a pre-established list, and Syria in particular is singled out, for reasons that are obviously not arbitrary.

            Perhaps these complaints don’t particularly line out their cases, but there’s no legal justification whatsoever on point 43. What do they mean by “without legal justification?” Congress empowers the President widely to determine security threats.

            50 is unfounded. The narrow definition of refugee is someone who is fleeing persecution as a result of certain forms of discrimination, to my understanding. Syrians who are fleeing the civil war are not refugees per either UN or US law unless they are specifically facing targeted persecution. The EO adopts a needlessly expansive view, but more or less reaffirms water is wet.

            At that point I stopped reading because I doubt anyone has a good argument after they just gave me a bunch I already think are without merit…plus I have eggs and bacon to make and I’m not paid to read this stuff 😛

            I don’t see the merit in this case. Then again I didn’t listen to the case, so I am probably missing something. But since the Robart order says that the TRO is an extreme action, I probably wouldn’t have issued one myself.

            Regardless, even if I think this judge is wrong, the principle of judicial independence is vastly more important than any particular case, and Trump’s tweets are not helpful.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @A Definite Beta Guy:
            They can make all sorts of arguments, some of which have less merit or no merit. All that matters is that one of the arguments proves their case. Dismissing the case as unsupported because you find fault with the weakest arguments is a mistake.

            Particularly cogent are points 37, 39 and 40. These establish that the argument is specifically aimed at Muslims from the affected countries.

        • suntzuanime says:

          It says “liberals are always right” right there in the penumbra, plain as day.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Seriously, this is getting tiresome.

          • Space Viking says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            So are unsupported arguments on SSC. I’m tired of the general anti-Trump hysteria on the left bleeding over into rationalist circles.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Spade Viking:
            What does Trump hysteria have to do with whether the EO in question violates the constitution?

          • Space Viking says:

            You know I’m speaking in general, not specifically. And it’s Space Viking, not Spade Viking.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Sorry for the typo.

            As to your “two wrongs make a right” argument, this is the wrong space to be making it.

          • Space Viking says:

            @HeelBearCub:

            You don’t decide what sort of space this is.

            As for my point, which you seem to have missed, it’s that both sides on SSC ought to cool it on the culture war. I want this site to turn into a right-wing echo chamber about as much as you do. We’re not out to get you. I don’t know how much you want this site to turn into a left-wing echo chamber, but I don’t want that either. I want SSC to remain SSC.

            So you’ll see less right-wing snark if we see less left-wing hysteria, not only from you but from various others. I don’t mean that as any sort of threat, especially since I don’t control the other right-wingers on this site, just an observation of the dynamics. I’m ready to cooperate on the PD if you are.

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Space Viking – “As for my point, which you seem to have missed, it’s that both sides on SSC ought to cool it on the culture war.”

            That… doesn’t seem likely any time soon, unfortunately. And it’s not the leftists’ fault. Check the user stats posted in the open thread. The culture war is what a fair number of the most prolific commenters on this site are mainly interested in talking about, and it looks like a sizable majority of them are right-wing.

            “So you’ll see less right-wing snark if we see less left-wing hysteria, not only from you but from various others.”

            Historically, I don’t think this has been the case. We seem to have less right wing snark now than we did before the election. Nor does there seem to be any connection between the relative volume of snark on the two sides; we have less right-wing snark now because the snarks stopped or were banned, but there is more right-wing than left-wing snark at the moment.

            @HeelBearCub – Maybe try that blocker extension thing? I was a lot less approving of it, till houseboatonstyx pointed out that it doesn’t actually filter as much as you’d expect, due to reply quoting still giving you a fair idea of the thrust of peoples’ comments. It seems like a pretty good idea to me.

          • Space Viking says:

            @FacelessCraven:

            I don’t know what site you’re reading, but it’s not this one.

            And on that blocker extension thing, that would be a sad solution, but it’s something I’ll consider using myself if I see one more “Trump is a unique threat to the Republic” or “everything Trump does is unconstitutional” post. It would be a way for us to see less snark and hysteria, respectively.

            @HeelBearCub:

            I won’t be offended if you use it on me.

          • suntzuanime says:

            Looking at the stats posted, it looks like it was pretty even until two of the most obnoxious and prolific leftists ate bans, which was fairly recent. (Unless you count Deiseach on the right. She’d be a majority by herself, but she seems less a straight left-right culture warrior and more sort of her own thing.)

            I think it’s hard to talk about anything but culture war right now, there’s riots in the streets on a regular basis, shit’s popping off. It consumes a lot of attention. As Neil Young asked, how can you run when you know?

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Space Viking – To be clear, I wasn’t suggesting that HBC block you. HBC and the cartoon strategist rub each other wrong with some regularity.

            “I don’t know what site you’re reading, but it’s not this one.”

            The stats are available to check.

            “And on that blocker extension thing, that would be a sad solution, but it’s something I’ll consider using myself if I see one more “Trump is a unique threat to the Republic” or “everything Trump does is unconstitutional” post.”

            I would encourage it. I originally thought it was a terrible idea, as I thought it would filter whole conversations. All it actually does is activate the “hide” button at the bottom of selected users’ posts by default. You can unhide them easily, and you’ll still see what they said in any responses that quote them, which is likely to be most of them, so the odds of missing a constructive conversation seem likely to be low. I think it’s likely to be a net-positive for the conversations here.

            @suntzuanime – you think so? Running down through the top lists, it looked like reds heavily dominated both by post count and word volume.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I’m sure, like everything, it’s really sensitive to how you gerrymander the categories.

          • Space Viking says:

            @FacelessCraven:

            Thanks for the info on how the blocker works, that’s not as extreme as I thought. Anyone who wants to block me, please feel free!

          • Gazeboist says:

            The stats are available to check.

            Do you mean the survey results? Did I miss those somehow?

            (As to the argument about bias in the commentariate, I have no dog in this fight)

          • FacelessCraven says:

            @Gazeboist – “Do you mean the survey results? Did I miss those somehow?”

            thanks to rlms, the Slate Star Codex leaderboards can now be found here! Users are broken down by post count and word volume for the last 150 and 60 threads.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Space Viking:
            Scott has the most important say on what kind of space this, that shapes the community.

            If you think I have been making unsupported arguments, attack them and reveal their unsupported nature. However, suntzuanime’s argument here is contentless snark, and it is in response to a reasoned argument about the executive order. This is a pattern repeated frequently. The fact that some other people in different places are making unsupported arguments has no bearing on this.

            Blocking you or not blocking you changes none of that.

            And I won’t be blocking anyone. The whole point of my being in this space is attempting to engage outside of an echo chamber. If I have to start re-creating one here, then it would be pointless to hang around.

            But I will continue to point out comments and patterns that I view as deleterious to actual reasoned engagement.

      • Foreigners don’t have some inherent right, not legal nor moral, to resettle in the US.

        I’ve literally never seen anyone argue that they do.

        I don’t know of anyone who argues that foreigners have an inherent legal right to settle in the U.S.

        But quite a lot of libertarians, myself among them, would argue that immigration restrictions violate moral rights. That’s the obvious conclusion if you don’t believe the government has property rights in all the land in the U.S. I have a moral right to guest anyone in my house whom I want and who wants to come, employ anyone similarly, buy from, sell to, … . My neighbors, even a majority of my neighbors, are not entitled to a veto over my mutually voluntary transactions.

        The alternative position, as suggested by dalemannes’ comment, implicitly assumes that the government has the same sort of right to the whole country that an individual has to his property. That’s a widespread view but not a universal one.

        • stillnotking says:

          Fair enough, but that is a consequence of having a very different idea of national sovereignty, not of the “rights of foreigners” per se.

          BTW, I’m reading that Huemer book. Thanks for the rec.

          • webnaut says:

            > BTW, I’m reading that Huemer book. Thanks for the rec.

            Problem of Political Authority?

          • stillnotking says:

            Yep, that’s the one.

            So far I’m finding it a tad over-reliant on analogy, but I haven’t gotten to the meat of it yet.

        • Deiseach says:

          Equally, though, you would agree that your house is your house. You wouldn’t much like it if a stranger turned up on the doorstep, admired how nicely your house was kept, and announced he was going to move into the guest bedroom. Then, when you told him this was not on, a bunch of your neighbours picketed outside your house about how racist and unfair and discriminatory you were.

          I agree it’s a different matter if you have advertised for a lodger and arranged to rent the room to him but even there I think the principle that it’s reasonable to think “I’ve decided I’m not going to take in any more lodgers for the time being” would apply, and your neighbours insisting that since you took in that lodger last month you have to take in a new lodger this month would be none of their business?

          • My point was that the government doesn’t own the nation in the sense in which I own my house.

            I not only believe that I am entitled to not take in any more lodgers, I believe that I am entitled to reject a lodger for any or no reason–I regard current anti-discrimination law as a violation of individual rights for much the same reason that immigration restrictions are.

          • hyperboloid says:

            You wouldn’t much like it if a stranger turned up on the doorstep, admired how nicely your house was kept, and announced he was going to move into the guest bedroom.

            I keep hearing this argument being made against immigration, and it is nonsense upon stilts.

            Immigration isn’t any thing like that. The stereotypical illegal immigrant is someone from a poor country who crosses international borders to sell his labor on the free market to willing employers.

            He isn’t stealing from anybody, or otherwise using somebody’s property with out consent, he is making a completely voluntary contract with a private citizen interested in his services.

            You’re not objecting to a squatter occupying your property, you’re objecting to your neighbor renting out his guest room to the “wrong sort of people”. And all things being equal, that does sound kind of discriminatory.

          • Jiro says:

            The stereotypical illegal immigrant is someone from a poor country who crosses international borders to sell his labor on the free market to willing employers.

            If you accept the existence of government at all, the immigrant is coming onto the government’s territory, so the government gets to decide who comes in (or the people through government, in a democracy). If you say that the government’s relationship to the territory is not like ownership, I will then ask who owns it, if not the government. It’s clearly not unowned, or I could just come in and take some.

            And even if you argue that the immigrant can come in because nobody owns the country, someone certainly owns the money that is used to pay for social services for the immigrant.

            Furthermore, the illegal immigrant came in partly because their home country’s government (by mismanaging their own country) created incentives for the immigrant to do so. The process is not free market; only the final step is.

          • webnaut says:

            @hyperboloid

            There are many different issues, but the pragmatic one is that a typical migrant is more useful in the 18th and 19th centuries, not so much in the 21st.

            So the issue is long you get to “Migrants Taking Jobs” arguments you have to deal with the very real and present “Migrants on Welfare” issue. About 95% of low skill non-EU migrants from MENA countries are on welfare.

            Our economies used to require an enormous amount of human labor in Agriculture and Building. Most of this was accomplished with brute strength, sweat and blood. We needed warm bodies. Maybe you didn’t even need to speak a common language.

            In the present those same industries, the majority of volume from Agriculture and Building Construction is by much more complex, partly automated parts of the sectors. It looks more like Engineering. Lots of information being passed back and forth. Lots of ways for something to go badly wrong.

            Migrants used to complex economies like the Japanese or Americans aren’t going to experience problems finding jobs in Europe. Most of everybody else gets stuck. A bunch of people have been put into a Time Machine and expected to integrate into the economy of the future.

            https://www.ft.com/content/d5d0bb96-49a8-11e6-8d68-72e9211e86ab

            That means this:

            http://i.imgur.com/qKXGWyl.jpg

            In my opinion that is the optimistic scenario.

          • So the issue is long you get to “Migrants Taking Jobs” arguments you have to deal with the very real and present “Migrants on Welfare” issue. About 95% of low skill non-EU migrants from MENA countries are on welfare.

            Looking around me in the Bay Area, it looks like there are a lot of Hispanic immigrants who are working. They do yard work, house cleaning. Some are entrepreneurs renting out the services of teams of their compatriots. When work is done by families, sometimes the younger members, whose English is better, provide the communication.

            I think what you are observing in Europe is the combined effect of a generous welfare state and a pretty inflexible labor market, although the latter is only a guess. But there is a lot of work that can be done by people who don’t have university degrees or even high school diplomas, work that produces what, from the standpoint of people coming from poor countries, is an acceptable wage.

          • Jiro says:

            Looking around me in the Bay Area, it looks like there are a lot of Hispanic immigrants who are working.

            There are reasons why anecdotal evidence isn’t considered very good.

        • webnaut says:

          Migration restrictions might be immoral, but it does not matter in the slightest because on the streets that belief does not pay rent.

          Not all people act like individuals, some are communal automatons whose violence to “outsiders” is extremely predictable.

          https://youtu.be/hzyLoW9LSTo

        • Doctor Mist says:

          But quite a lot of libertarians, myself among them, would argue that immigration restrictions violate moral rights. That’s the obvious conclusion if you don’t believe the government has property rights in all the land in the U.S.

          I want to agree with you. But the usual argument against political authority, with which I agree wholeheartedly, is that a government has no right to take actions that an unanointed group of individuals could not legitimately take.

          But surely there are things unanointed groups of individuals do have the right to do, like choose whom they associate with, and surely some of those things must scale even to very large groups. Does that necessarily imply the state owning the country? At what point do we say a group of individuals is so big that their collective rights are smaller than the sum of their individual rights?

          (I know this has pushed the esoteric envelope — nobody’s claiming that the American populace is unanimous in wanting to control immigration.)

          • But surely there are things unanointed groups of individuals do have the right to do, like choose whom they associate with, and surely some of those things must scale even to very large groups.

            In this case, it is a matter of some members of a group deciding who other members are permitted to associate with. That might be legitimate in the case of a voluntary group, a club whose members join under a set of rules determining who can be a member. But a state is not a voluntary association–its rules are imposed on everyone in the territory.

            Some argue that by coming to a country you are agreeing to its rules. But that only works if you assume the government starts out owning the country, and so can set conditions on others coming.

            Which makes the argument circular–it assumes its conclusion.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Some argue that by coming to a country you are agreeing to its rules.

            I certainly agree that would be circular, which is why I observed that we are not unanimous on this issue.

            But I’m still interested in the more fundamental question. If ten of us have a book club, and explicitly invite an eleventh to join us, only to discover that the eleventh would rather dish the neighbors or proselytize their belief in aliens than discuss books, can we kick them out? Even if we didn’t draw up club rules in advance? What if we invite ten more people before we realize that discussing books was really the whole point of the club?

            It sort of sounds like you’re saying that we give up not just individual rights when we form a state but lots of collective rights, too. I might be okay with that approach, but I don’t think it’s part of the usual picture.

            I called myself an an-cap for many years on the strength of Machinery of Freedom, but I wonder how it would deal with this question. Surely an-cap, like popular sovereignty, works only if its citizens grant its premises? Or do you think it suffices for its founders to believe them, after which no influx of new arrivals could possibly undermine it?

          • If ten of us have a book club, and explicitly invite an eleventh to join us, only to discover that the eleventh would rather dish the neighbors or proselytize their belief in aliens than discuss books, can we kick them out?

            You can kick them out of the club, because the club’s assets consist of its members and each of you belongs to yourself. But you can’t forbid them from living in your neighborhood, even if a majority of the neighbors agree.

            It sort of sounds like you’re saying that we give up not just individual rights when we form a state but lots of collective rights, too.

            What are you counting as collective rights pre-existing the state that aren’t simply derived from individual rights?

            Surely an-cap, like popular sovereignty, works only if its citizens grant its premises? Or do you think it suffices for its founders to believe them, after which no influx of new arrivals could possibly undermine it?

            I don’t believe any system, that included, is guaranteed to be stable. But most people are conservative–take for granted the institutions they observe around them. Once an A-C system is functioning, recreating a state runs into the public good problem for those who want to do it. I expect that just as immigrants to the U.S. mostly took for granted the legal and political structure of the U.S., immigrants to an A-C equivalent of the U.S. would take for granted its institutions.

            Do you know the Vinge story “The Ungoverned”? Part of what I like about it is the way in which each side takes its institutions for granted.

          • Jiro says:

            Who owns the country, then?

            If the state doesn’t own it, why can’t I just claim a piece of it for myself, so I own the formerly unowned property, and thus gain, as owner, the right to exclude people from it? (Even if the state reserves the right to use the property for something else, surely I can claim an ownership which excludes those reserved rights.)

            And if I can’t claim the right to exclude people from it, doesn’t that mean that the state is claiming that right for itself?

            Also, if the state doesn’t have the right to exclude people from the country, how does it get any rights to do anything to the country? Right now the state can build a government building on some of the country, and then exclude people from the building. The state can declare some of the country to be a park and exclude people from it after 10 PM, or prohibit all people from taking rocks from the park. The state can prevent any group of people it wishes from building anything at all in public property. How can the state do these things yet not have the right to exclude people, period?

          • Doctor Mist says:

            David Friedman-

            What are you counting as collective rights pre-existing the state that aren’t simply derived from individual rights?

            That’s a fair question. Suppose I discover and claim the island of DoctorMistia. I subdivide it and sell it to people with the covenant that Greenlanders aren’t welcome here. Nobody buys without learning of the covenant, but eventually somebody regrets agreeing to it — some Greenlander makes a great offer, or something. Does it violate his rights, or the Greenlander’s, if the rest of the owners insist that he adhere to the covenant? Does it matter if every property has changed hands a dozen times between owners who all agreed to the covenant largely because no Greenlander had ever expressed an interest in living there so who cares?

            Maybe you would say yes, but I’m hard pressed to understand the grounds. If you agree with me that the answer is no, then what if the owners declare the Free State of DoctorMistia whose constitution is the covenant? Does it matter that they do this before or after the owner regrets the covenant?

            If the answer now is yes, what was it about forming the state that caused people to lose the ability to insist on the covenant?

            Probably a legit answer is that I’m dancing angels on pins, because discovering an unknown island is not actually where property ownership comes from, or because asserting a property right in the absence of an institution to enforce it is a sterile exercise (though that might be said about any individual right). I still can’t help feeling that there is an important issue here.

            I expect that just as immigrants to the U.S. mostly took for granted the legal and political structure of the U.S., immigrants to an A-C equivalent of the U.S. would take for granted its institutions.

            Do recent events in Europe give you any cause to question that expectation? How about the changes to our institutions that took place during the twentieth century? (I’m not blaming the latter on immigrants, but if even those immersed in the culture can undergo such a profound shift, I question your expectation of stability.)

            Do you know the Vinge story “The Ungoverned”? Part of what I like about it is the way in which each side takes its institutions for granted.

            I’ve read it and liked it a lot (like pretty much anything by Vinge). Of course, he did use the author’s prerogative to make it turn out how he wanted, and his “armadillo” subplot is cool but a major cheat.

          • Jiro says:

            Actually, the equivalent wouldn’t be a covenant to keep Greenlanders out. The equivalent would be a covenant where you agree that the neighborhood takes a vote every four years and only if the result of the vote says so do you keep Greenlanders out.

            I think there’s a strange disconnect here among libertarians between private property and the government equivalent. If someone owns a house, they get to keep people out. If twenty people own houses in a neighborhood, they can agree to keep people out, or more generally, agree to be bound by a vote, where one result of the vote can be “we keep people out”. Why doesn’t this extend to a country?

            That’s why I was asking the question about where the right to exclude went. Someone has to have it. If the government doesn’t have the right to exclude people, then who does? If nobody does, where did it go, and why can’t I claim the unowned property (and then exclude people) as long as I grant the government easements for things it did already have the right for?

          • random832 says:

            I think there’s a strange disconnect here among libertarians […] or more generally, agree to be bound by a vote,

            I think that, right or wrong, that is precisely the disconnect. Not agreeing to be bound by a vote where the result is, say, to have to pay taxes, is no different in principle from objecting to a vote where the result is a ‘collective’ decision to keep people out.

            No-one thinks it’s strange when libertarians characterize taxation as being immoral – as “men with guns forcing me to give them money” – here, immigration restrictions are “men with guns forcing me not to sell or rent my property to someone who comes from somewhere else in the world”

            If nobody does, where did it go

            Saying that you do not have the right to exclude people from my property does not imply that that right does not exist or that I do not still have it (or that you do not have it regarding your property).

            The equivalent would be a covenant where you agree that the neighborhood takes a vote every four years and only if the result of the vote says so do you keep Greenlanders out.

            In general, I think “covenants” like this (whether they’re a permanent policy or provide for a vote is irrelevant) are incompatible with any form of libertarianism, because statism is precisely what you get when the whole land area of Earth is covered with them and there’s nowhere you can reasonably move out to to escape from them.

          • Jiro says:

            Saying that you do not have the right to exclude people from my property does not imply that that right does not exist or that I do not still have it

            Yes, but my point is that someone has to have it. With your property, I don’t have it, but you do.

            The problem here is that libertarians seem to think that nobody has it. Government doesn’t have the right to exclude people from the country, because it doesn’t own the country, but nobody else gets to claim the “unowned” country and start excluding people either. Where did the right to exclude go?

          • random832 says:

            The problem here is that libertarians seem to think that nobody has it. Government doesn’t have the right to exclude people from the country, because it doesn’t own the country, but nobody else gets to claim the “unowned” country and start excluding people either. Where did the right to exclude go?

            As far as excluding from the whole country (even the parts that other people own)? The same place as your right to buy all of the property surrounding me and keep me (or my guests) in (or out) went.

            You are talking about the right to, as a property owner or group of property owners, prevent someone from reaching a property that they have the right or permission to be present on. After all, *someone* has to own the countryneighborhood, right?

            “The government owns the country” only implies “The government has the right to exclude people from the whole country” if it owns all parts of the country, and no-one else owns anything. Or perhaps holds some sort of “super-property” right that gives it the ability to take away other people’s property rights. Which, of course, is all in fact true. But to my understanding Libertarians wish it weren’t, just like they wish they didn’t have to pay taxes.

          • Jiro says:

            The idea “you have no right to exclude people from your property if it prevents passage to someplace that they do have a right to be in” itself is not libertarian, so a libertarian couldn’t answer the question that way. A leftist could, but leftist support of open borders has different problems than libertarian support of open borders and the question is not aimed at leftists.

          • random832 says:

            The idea “you have no right to exclude people from your property if it prevents passage to someplace that they do have a right to be in” itself is not libertarian, so a libertarian couldn’t answer the question that way.

            Huh? It’s fundamental to property rights. Putting aside guests or leases for now, preventing someone from entering property that they own is a violation of their property rights. If someone doesn’t believe property rights are important, they’re not libertarian – at least not the sort of libertarian I assumed we were discussing here.

            I’m honestly a bit blindsided by your argument. The idea that libertarianism allows for someone to buy up a ring of property around someone else’s property and build a wall to keep them in (or out, if they’re absent) is something I’ve thought of as a straw man argument against it, not as something that I would have the burden to establish is not an intended feature.

        • dalemannes says:

          Im very familiar with the openborders.info philosophy and you are echoing their “elevator pitch”. Those arguments are ridiculous for a number of clear reasons:

          Every law limits allowed behavior and takes away rights by definition. Tons of laws aside from immigration laws inhibit people from having any guests in their home or employing anyone.

          You can’t harbor a fugitive, legally. You aren’t legally allowed hire someone for less than minimum wage or without proper licensing or without giving bathroom breaks or without complying with a huge list of labor laws.

          When you buy land or buy a house, you are agreeing to federal and local laws. You can’t commit a wide range of illegal activity even if you do hold the legal deed to the property.

          Many libertarians don’t see immigration as a moral right for a range of reasons.

          The entire nature of the nation state and the global order for the past hundred+ years has been predicated on the right of nations to establish borders and have full discretion for who can cross.

          • You aren’t legally allowed hire someone for less than minimum wage or …

            Your argument seems to be of the form “there is one law doing X, therefor doing X must be just, so you shouldn’t object to the fact that another law does X.” Do you notice a certain circularity to the argument?

            The original question was whether anyone regarded immigration restrictions as a violation of rights. Are you assuming that nobody regards minimum wage laws as a violation of rights?

            The entire nature of the nation state and the global order for the past hundred+ years has been predicated on the right of nations to establish borders and have full discretion for who can cross.

            Which tells us nothing at all about whether they have the right to do so.

      • AlphaCeph says:

        > It is, of course, possible to argue against either of those presumptions

        There hasn’t been a good debate on this.

      • dalemannes says:

        I’ve literally never seen anyone argue that they do. I’m sure you can dig up a Tumblr blog that thinks so if you really look, but that is not a mainstream position, to say the very least.

        You are blind and I can cite several obvious examples:

        I’ve been hearing some variant of “it’s immoral to discriminate against people based on documentation status” from many US government types and university administrators. In other words, it’s immoral to acknowledge a difference between a legal citizen and an illegal immigrant or undocumented citizen.

        The rhetorical counter of “undocumented immigrant” to “illegal immigrant” is a direct challenge to the premise of laws that restrict immigration.

        Or consider the widespread propaganda label of “sanctuary city” that deliberately acts to undermine immigration restrictions and federal immigration law.

        Next consider the more obvious rhetoric of “no walls, no borders” or “open borders”. The “open borders” movement openborders.info is widely cited by this blog. Even Hillary Clinton used the term “open borders” in a speech to Brazilian bankers. Clearly, that term was intended for the Brazilian banker audience and was not intended for Americans to hear.

        The politicians have known very well immigration makes most white Americans upset, so until the past election season, both parties have tried to minimize the amount the white americans hear about it and conducted amnesty and immigration plans in private. Many mainstream commentators will admit, yes, there was a conspiracy to raise immigration levels while hiding the issue from whites.

        • Spookykou says:

          Or consider the widespread propaganda label of “sanctuary city” that deliberately acts to undermine immigration restrictions and federal immigration law.

          I thought the argument for “sanctuary cities” was very consequential, I would expect it to be more accepted by SSC brand conservatives. I thought it functioned similarly to Drug or Prostitution legalization. If illegal immigrants are afraid they will get deported they won’t work with police which creates more problems than the illegal immigrants cause. Or something like that.

          How do conservatives here feel about sanctuary cities?

          • suntzuanime says:

            It seems like it would have the opposite effect. Being a “sanctuary city” means that you don’t refer illegal immigrants to the feds when you arrest them for other reasons. So it seems like outside of sanctuary cities, illegal immigrants have a much higher incentive to avoid getting arrested.

          • Spookykou says:

            I don’t think I explained it very well.

            As I understand it the police cooperating with ICE for non-violent criminals (which as I understand it is what sanctuary cities don’t do) does not actually deport that many illegal immigrants. On the other side, if it is known that the police cooperate with ICE illegal immigrants will do anything and everything they can to avoid interacting with the police, including not going to them when they are victims. A result of a very large population who can’t turn to the police is worse crime, like in prostitution or drugs.

            Generally any policy that encourages people to live ‘off the grid’ especially with regard to legal services/law enforcement creates lots of knock on crime, which is the argument I understood for not creating laws that encourage these kinda of sub-societies.

          • suntzuanime says:

            I don’t think it’s common practice for anybody to turn illegal immigrants over to the feds when they report a crime. If they do, I agree they should stop doing that.

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Conflicted.

            On the one hand, I favor more immigration and more federalism/devolution as a general goal.

            On the other hand, I wish that they could have chosen a better topic on which to assert their independence (I am not in favor of a blanket amnesty, which is what this amounts to for immigrants in those cities), and I think that attempting to get more federalism through selective enforcement of the law sets bad precedents.

          • Spookykou says:

            I don’t think it’s common practice for anybody to turn illegal immigrants over to the feds when they report a crime.

            Yes, I don’t think this is the case, as I understand the issue is that most illegal immigrants have something between bad and no English skills, and so having the police go out in public and say “We only cooperate with ICE in very specific violent crime situations” helps to clear up the ambiguity, still, I imagine some immigrants even in sanctuary cities avoid interacting with government officials though.

            blanket amnesty

            This was not my understanding of sanctuary cities, I thought it only actually impacted a relatively small number of interactions, where in the police detain someone for a non-violent crime, and then ICE puts in a request to hold them because of their immigration status, and the police don’t cooperate with the request and release the person in question.

            I get little news and have domain knowledge of nothing, so I could just have all the facts wrong?

          • Douglas Knight says:

            “Sanctuary city” means a variety of things. I think most of them don’t have any different policies from other cities. They just they publicize these policies, which really is something, since most people don’t know. But some do provide more sanctuary. And some cities look harder for illegal immigrants; and they, too, advertise this fact.

          • stillnotking says:

            My biggest problem with sanctuary cities is that they erode the legitimacy of government. A state that doesn’t enforce its laws is going to be perceived as a state that can’t enforce them, and a state that can’t enforce them isn’t a state at all.

            There are excellent pragmatic reasons for cities to adopt sanctuary policies, much like there are excellent pragmatic reasons to pay a blackmailer.

          • Protagoras says:

            @stillnotking, If our government is going to start enforcing all the laws all the time, we really need a lot fewer laws.

          • stillnotking says:

            @Protagoras: No argument here.

            It’s different when we’re talking about something like witchcraft laws, though. No one expects those to be enforced. Unless we believe in 100% open borders, we expect immigration law to mean something.

          • Spookykou says:

            As I understand it, especially in my state, but in the US in general unenforced laws are pretty commonplace, is there a particular example you are thinking of. Is the current situation of the US that it is perceived as being unable to enforce it’s laws?

            Ultimately the existence of illegal immigrants, in such numbers, seems like it would be dramatically more deleterious to the perceived enforceability of law, than a police force, for pragmatic reasons, not complying with costly requests that they are not actually legally obligated to comply with from the federal government.

          • stillnotking says:

            Is the current situation of the US that it is perceived as being unable to enforce it’s laws?

            Not by the median American, but we could get there. There are subgroups within America who seem to have little to no confidence in it, such as Wall Street high-rollers and Chicago homicide witnesses, that exhibit some distinctive pathologies.

            What example do you have in mind of an unenforced law?

          • Spookykou says:

            Well I am from Texas, and I could be wrong about this, but I have been lead to believe that we have a large number of ‘laws on the book’ that the police don’t bother to enforce, most people don’t know about, but for reasons related to our strange state Constitution/legislation we can’t get rid of.

            A quick google search came up with lots of stuff on ‘goofy’ Texas laws, I grew up hearing things like, it’s illegal to carry wire cutters, etc.

            I also think there are lots of very specific interstate trade, fishing, hunting(transporting the meat across state lines is what I am thinking of here), and similar laws that are technically applicable to anyone but ignored for private citizens for the most part.

            More recently, bigger in scope, I thought a lot of cities basically just didn’t enforce the relevant laws against Uber/it was too difficult?

          • stillnotking says:

            Laws that people don’t even know about are different. A state can pass as many arcane or inapplicable laws as it wants, and stick them behind the proverbial “beware of the leopard” sign, without impacting its legitimacy — although it may cause other problems, like rent-seeking, selective or vindictive enforcement, and bureaucratic sinecures. Different issue.

            Everyone knows about the existence of immigration law; judging by recent political activity, a lot of them really care about it. Which isn’t surprising, given that it’s tied up with questions of national sovereignty and national identity. Conspicuous absence of enforcement seems like a perfect recipe to erode people’s faith in government, which theorists on both sides of the aisle agree is a problem. (The libertarians and anarchists may be happy, though. It’s an ill wind…)

          • and I think that attempting to get more federalism through selective enforcement of the law sets bad precedents.

            Do you have the same view of a state that legalizes marijuana choosing not to enforce federal anti-marijuana law?

          • Trofim_Lysenko says:

            Unenforced laws are corrosive on several levels:

            1) they provide convenient and easy excuses for the use of police and prosecutory powers on a whim, rather than those who are actually outlaws in the sense of having deeply violated community norms.

            One of the classic examples: Ever gotten junk mail addressed to someone who used to live where you do and moved, or that was simply mis-delivered? Did you open it or throw it away? If you answered yes to the second question, congratulations, you are a felon.

            With sufficient laws on the books, anyone can become a criminal at any time simply by dint of officialdom deciding to take a really good look at their life and looking for something to charge them with. Even lots of minor infractions can add up quickly into crippling fines and disruptive legal costs and court time.

            That sort of thing is the time-honored tactic of the corrupt and petty small town city official or county sherriff.

            2) they corrode respect for and belief in the legitimacy of rule of law in general. Every time someone breaks a law because it’s stupid, or makes no sense to them, or because “No one ever enforces that law anyway”, it weakens the underlying principle of the “Rule Of Law”. The entire point of a Rule Of Law is to supplant and supercede your own personal judgement as to what you should or shouldn’t do where it is applied.

            If you have a law that is a net negative when universally applied, then that law needs to be amended or repealed. Anything else encourages the Rule Of Men rather than the Rule Of Law.

            EDIT:

            @ David Friedman

            Yes, I do. I think that once you establish the precedent of selective enforcement for laws YOU don’t like, you rob yourself of grounds to complain when the next state over refuses to enforce the laws THEY don’t like.

            I don’t see a difference, as a procedural matter, between deciding not to enforce immigration or marijuana or gun control or marriage laws, and declining to prosecute murder cases where the victims are a socially undesirable class.

            I think that the agents responsible for -enforcing- the law must necessarily cede their right to judge the laws they enforce while acting in their official capacity rather than as citizens in the voting booth (or -possibly- the jury box. I’m iffy on nullification and it comes down to the nature of the oath).

            There are plenty of laws I think are stupid and badly thought out, and some that I think are evil. I still think they should be enforced. In fact, I tend to think that the evil ones are the ones that need to be enforced the hardest, as that is the only thing that will create sufficient public unrest to drive a repeal.