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Open Thread 132.25

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1,116 Responses to Open Thread 132.25

  1. Edward Scizorhands says:

    A small essay on Scott’s topic of “can something be both popular and silenced?” written by Kevin Williamson.

    https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/silenced/

    (Purposefully posted on the slightly older OT because of CW-ness of topic.)

    • Aapje says:

      He is right. Certain people are insulated from ill treatment way more than others. Jordan Peterson has tenure and has the kind of charisma that allows him to make very good money outside of academia or by working for a boss. That he can speak out without major repercussions* doesn’t mean that everyone else can.

      What I find interesting is that the belief that certain people are silenced, excluded, face disproportionate harms, etc seems quite central to SJ, yet there doesn’t seem much recognition that this can also be done by SJ advocates to people with different beliefs.

      * And even this is questionable. He seems to regularly be denied speaking engagements at colleges, which someone with more politically correct views presumably wouldn’t face.

  2. A Definite Beta Guy says:

    Why does San Francisco water taste so incredibly bad?

    • Deiseach says:

      I was going to swipe Pratchett’s description of water from the Ankh-Morpork river (“anything that has been filtered through so many sets of kidneys must be pure”) but it would seem that the culprit is chloramine (warning: this site is bigging up its filters and thus wanting to throw a scare into potential customers about how lethal SF tap water is, so take what it says with a shovelful of salt):

      While most municipalities use chlorine as the primary disinfectant, San Francisco’s water is disinfected with chloramine (produced by mixing chlorine and ammonia). Chloramine is primarily responsible for what many customers report as the “bad taste” of tap water, and unlike chlorine does not dissipate if a container of water is left in the refrigerator overnight. Most one-size-fits-all water filters use filtration media that doesn’t do a great job removing chloramine, but the filters that we design and build at Hydroviv for San Francisco uses special filtration media that is purposefully designed to remove chloramine as well.

      So I imagine it’s a combination of the disinfectant used plus whatever water you are used to drinking; SF water supply is mountain runoff (mainly) and thus soft water. If you’re used to drinking hard water, soft water tastes odd until you get used to it (and vice versa).

      Plumber would be the one to tell us more about the piping etc. of the system and if it’s simply that the water supply provision is under strain and is an old, creaking, crappy system! 🙂

      EDIT: The Wikipedia article on chloramine is really cheerful and reassuring:

      [Chloramine] is commonly used in low concentrations as a secondary disinfectant in municipal water distribution systems as an alternative to chlorination. This application is increasing. Chlorine (referred to in water treatment as free chlorine) is being displaced by chloramine — to be specific monochloramine — which is much more stable and does not dissipate as rapidly as free chlorine. NH2Cl also has a much lower, but still active, tendency than free chlorine to convert organic materials into chlorocarbons such as chloroform and carbon tetrachloride. Such compounds have been identified as carcinogens and in 1979 the United States Environmental Protection Agency began regulating their levels in U.S. drinking water.

      Some of the unregulated byproducts may possibly pose greater health risks than the regulated chemicals.

      Adding chloramine to the water supply may increase exposure to lead in drinking water, especially in areas with older housing; this exposure can result in increased lead levels in the bloodstream, which may pose a significant health risk.

      Stick to drinking bottled water!

      • Plumber says:

        @Deiseach

        “…Plumber would be the one to tell us more about the piping etc. of the system and if it’s simply that the water supply provision is under strain and is an old, creaking, crappy system! 🙂…”

        I just noticed this. Sorry!

        There’s usually more iron in the water in San Francisco because we have old steel pipes instead of newer developments that have (big) concrete and (little) plastic piping.

        It tends to give it a brown hue especially if the water has been shutoff for a while and wasn’t flowing.

        Sometimes someone freaks out about it after a holiday weekend, I usually bring a cup drink the water and say “It tastes fine”, and then run it till it’s clear.

        My old boss used to have me go to the jury assembly room bathroom and run the water a bunch at the start of every week to prevent complaints, but with the drought that stopped.

    • Plumber says:

      @A Definite Beta Guy,
      It’s a matter of taste I suppose, but to me it’s San Jose water that tastes foul.

      Going up north from San Jose the water tastes progressively better the closer I get to the fog, and San Francisco water tastes the way water should unlike that foul South Bay stuff, which is for orchards not humans.

      • Gray Ice says:

        I’ve had the opposite experience: I visited a famous spring and was warned that the water had a high mineral content (but was believed to cure various ills in a homeopathic manner). It tasted almost exactly like the well water at my grandparents farm.

        • Nornagest says:

          Probably because the well water at your grandparents’ farm had a high mineral content. The well water at my grandparents’ farm certainly did — when I stayed there as a kid, one of my chores was to go around and chip the calcium deposits off the faucets.

      • Nornagest says:

        That’s odd; the Hetch Hetchey Reservoir is the main source for everything from SF as far south as Mountain View, and many parts of San Jose as well. It’s literally the same water. Maybe you’re tasting something in the distribution system?

        • Plumber says:

          @Nornagest,
          Could be, the San Jose area has a dizzying number of “water purveyors” both government and private industry, and just like the school districts down there they don’t confirm to city limits, and IIRC the water in one part of Santa Clara tasted different than in other parts, which was true of Mountain View as well.

          That, plus street names continually changing despite continuing straight made the place very confusing to this Oakland born guy.

          I really didn’t like it down there, and when my wife visited her allergies hit her hard, perhaps that one of the locations of Robin’s The Gates of Hell sculptures is having an effect?

          In any case why it remained relatively unsettled when cities were already built in the central bay area seems obvious, what puzzles me is that even relatively recently there were still farms down there that I personally saw being paper over in the awful decade that I was a construction worker down there, with less farmland but more people, where is the extra food coming from?

        • nkurz says:

          @Nornagest:

          While Mountain View and Cupertino are outliers that use mostly Hetch Hetchy water, some areas north of them don’t. San Jose water is mostly coming from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. I think this is still an accurate map: https://www.kqed.org/science/14623/bay-area-do-you-know-where-your-water-comes-from

          Also worth mentioning is that the East Bay (where Plumber is from and lives) is Mokolumne water rather than Hetch Hetchy. He should be OK with the water as far south as San Leandro. Interestingly, Hayward is also Hetch Hetchy, then Union City is the start of water from the Delta.

          • LesHapablap says:

            San Ramon had awesome water from memory. Mokolumne apparently based on that map.

    • nameless1 says:

      Does it matter? Water without bubbles in it is weird to drink anyway. My tap water comes from pure glacier melt in the Alps but drinking it feels like weird for someone who grew up on carbonated mineral water… i.e. basically soda minus the sugar. Well, it is often called soda water.

  3. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Should Hollywood make a comedy about a woman who has so many boyfriends, they can bridge chasms by grabbing each other’s ankles?
    It would feature Beau Bridges.

  4. marthinwurer says:

    I am visiting San Francisco this weekend on my road trip of self-discovery. If anyone wants to meet up, feel free to DM me on Reddit (same username).

  5. BBA says:

    In the name of not grouching up this thread further, here are some penguins, dood.

  6. Uribe says:

    I know climate change has been discussed here plenty, and I’m not looking to reopen a debate. However, does someone have a link to a good argument that humans are not the main cause of global warming?

    • The closest I can offer is to a link showing that the particular study that claims to show that almost everyone in the field believes humans are the main cause does not show that, and that the later claim that it does, by its lead author, was fraudulent.

      But the fact that that study doesn’t show that 97% of the relevant experts believe humans are the main cause doesn’t imply that they are not, and I know of no evidence that they are not. I think the closest I have seen is the argument that our understanding of climate is poor enough that we cannot be confident in attributing amount of causation to different factors. I’m pretty sure I have seen that from Judith Curry, so you could google for some of her writing.

    • sentientbeings says:

      Here is a link to a study that might be of interest. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s a recent publication and my understanding is that the researchers claim that current models fail to properly account for the impact of cloud cover, and that a proper model with cloud cover reduces the estimated anthropogenic componentby orders of magnitude. It’s just a few pages long.

  7. HeelBearCub says:

    I agree with words Trump is currently saying.

    That’s a very, very sacred thing in our country, debt ceiling. We can never play with it.

    Yes, we should just eliminate the debt ceiling. No more bullshit grandstanding. No more actually trying to take the country hostage. Fight about the budget, not the debt ceiling.

    • Clutzy says:

      It seems to me that proposal would be unconstitutional. Spending and issuing debt are two separate and discrete powers in Article I. The debt ceiling itself may be unconstitutional because it seems that each issuance of bonds needed to be authorized under common practice at the time.

      • brad says:

        I don’t know of any doctrine of separate powers that would make such a law unconstitutional. Nor what what common practice at the time has to do with constitutionality.

        • Clutzy says:

          Section 8 States

          The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

          To borrow Money on the credit of the United States; …

          These are two separate powers of Congress. There is a canon of construction for statutes and constitutions against “surplusage”. This means, essentially, we should not assume people were redundant. If there was no need for both statements (i.e. Congress could simply implicitly delegate borrowing choices to the Executive branch via its spending choices), this canon says that the 2nd phrase would have been eliminated.

          Thus, eliminating the debt ceiling is an unconstitutional delegation (to the executive) of spending.

          The debt ceiling falls under a similar rationale, however the rationale is less strong, because Congress still nominally maintains control of the debt, and it is simply an executive implementation of Congressional intent to borrow a certain amount of money, and the fact that the executive takes his time executing that order is less of an affront to the separation of powers. As for the “common practice” point. No Congress used a debt ceiling as opposed to a regular issuance until 1917. That is a second strike against it, although probably not fatal. Another strike is that the debt ceiling may allow the executive to issue bonds at rates Congress never had contemplated. This is, IMO, a very strong legal argument if it ever came to fruition.

          Now, this whole situation arises because there are 3 different powers that Congress (or any government) has: Taxation, Spending, Debt Issuance. They all rely on each other. However, in reality, Congress only actually controls spending. Tax revenue can fall to $0 at any time. Bond issuances can fail at any time. Thus, the input can, at any time, be $0. All spending bills must, by way of complying with reality, implicitly read “Spend this, if you have the money.”

          • brad says:

            The canons of construction are used to resolve ambiguity that cannot under any circumstances vitiate a clear legislative commend. Further, the non-delegation doctrine is effectively in abeyance for almost 100 years, having only been in existence in the first place for about 100 years.

            Also:

            As for the “common practice” point. No Congress used a debt ceiling as opposed to a regular issuance until 1917. That is a second strike against it, although probably not fatal.

            this is not part of any legal doctrine I’m aware of. Congress may quarter soldiers in time of war, notwithstanding that no Congress has ever decided to do so.

            In general, one ought to carefully delineate actual legal practice and one’s own pet theories about how the Constitution ought to be interpreted.

          • Clutzy says:

            Its an unresolved constitutional question that entire symposiums have been held on recently. The first half is at least a 30% theory in such events, with that 30% representing a much larger share in the judiciary, as symposiums lean towards professors.

      • edmundgennings says:

        Then it seems one could make the debt ceiling arbitrarily large by act of congress and get the same general effect without the constitutionality concerns.

    • dick says:

      That would be heartening, if he had actually said that. Here‘s what he actually said:

      Hopefully we’re in good shape on the debt ceiling. I can’t imagine anybody ever even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge. When I first came in to office… [irrelevant rambling] …I said to Senator Schumer and to Nancy Pelosi, ‘Would anyone ever use that to negotiate with?’ and they said, ‘Absolutely not, that’s a sacred element of our country.’ They can’t use the debt ceiling to negotiate.

      Seems to me that’s not a statement of principle, but one of tactics – he’s explaining why he thinks the Democrats won’t do it.

      Whether or not he is aware that he enthusiastically supported using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge six years ago is up for debate. I don’t know which is worse.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        He literally started the answer to the question with a statement about his feelings “I can’t imagine anyone even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge.” He adds the verbiage you mentioned, and then says the words I quoted previously.

        You can listen for yourself.

        I agree that 2 seconds from now he may very well claim he never said this and take some other position altogether, but for the moment I am in agreement with the words that issued forth from him.

        • dick says:

          I did listen myself, and transcribed it. Did I make a mistake? He was quite clear that it was Schumer and Pelosi who said they wouldn’t use the debt ceiling to negotiate, not him. The first bit, “I can’t imagine anybody ever even thinking of using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge,” might be an unconvincing lie or it might be evidence of cognitive decline, but it is not actually a promise not to do it.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Sure, it’s typical Trump. He is clearly referencing something they said, when he mentions it a second time, but he seems to be agreeing with the sentiment as he says it. He ends by saying he doesn’t “think anybody would [use the debt ceiling as leverage]”

            Again, I don’t think is an actual statement of principle from him, and what he says doesn’t bind future Republicans so it’s largely meaningless for the next time this is likely to be a live issue.

            But I still think we should eliminate it.

  8. Laukhi says:

    If there’s anyone has some spare time and doesn’t mind helping me out for a project, please fill out this survey: https://forms.gle/9fp9LoqaNNmQGfCX8 (I’m not sure how to add hyperlinks). The survey is about instances where you’ve changed your mind on some ethical belief and instances where this resulted in a future change in behavior.

    Sorry that it’s using Google; if anyone is willing to and prefers it they can email me their answers. Survey questions and my email address can be found here: https://laukhi.neocities.org/survey.txt (I know that email is also insecure and can probably be easily spied upon, but I’m not sure if it’s worse than Google).

    Thank you all very much.

  9. J Mann says:

    I’d be interested in an adversarial collaboration partner for:

    1) The US and British case for the Libyan military intervention was exaggerated, bordering on false. (Current belief – probably true).

    2) Ilan Omar engaged in a sham marriage to a man who appears likely to have been her brother. (Current belief – probably true.)

    • dick says:

      What do you know about Ilhan Omar’s ex-husband that snopes and wikipedia don’t?

      • nkurz says:

        I don’t know if any of them are trustworthy, but there are a number of investigative reporters who for several years have been pursuing the theory that Omar’s marriages are not what they seem. Here’s an example: https://pjmedia.com/homeland-security/state-rep-ilhan-omar-d-mn-swore-to-apparent-falsehoods-in-court-while-divorcing-her-alleged-brother/. Part of the evidence is that a man who appears to share the same name and birthdate as Omar’s “lost” husband proclaimed on social media that Omar’s newborn daughter was his niece. Click on the author’s name at the top of the article for more in his series, or follow the links in the “Catch Up” section of the article for other takes.

        Presumably, the point of an “adversarial collaboration” would be to try to decide which sources are more trustworthy: the (likely biased) investigative reporters who have been concentrating on this issue for years, or (likely biased) media aggregator sources such as Wikipedia and Snopes. I don’t know enough about this particular case to have an opinion, but I would suggest strongly against assuming that Snopes is an impartial unbiased source. At the very least, don’t assume that citing Snopes will be persuasive to anyone who begins by believing that Omar married her brother.

        • dick says:

          “Snopes is biased” is the last refuge of scoundrels. Nobody trusts Snopes to be impartial or unbiased, all they do is link to primary sources and summarize them. If they summarized wrong, show us where. If there is evidence they didn’t include, link to it.

          Any non-clickbait sources? My heuristic for suspicious right-wing conspiracy theories is: if it’s bad for the left, and not complete bullshit, Fox News will flog it. From what I see, Fox News is not flogging this. QED…

        • Deiseach says:

          Part of the evidence is that a man who appears to share the same name and birthdate as Omar’s “lost” husband proclaimed on social media that Omar’s newborn daughter was his niece.

          Doesn’t of itself indicate anything one way or the other; her family – if it’s anything like traditional families in other countries, including my own – probably has a set of ‘family names’ that get used (e.g. “John” is one of the male names in my family, which gives you three generations of “Uncle Johnny and his son John and John’s son Jack”). This guy could be a cousin, brother, half-brother by another mother, other family member or even a complete stranger with the same name (I’d hate to have to track down how many guys named “Patrick Power” there are around here). Think of Obama’s family and how surprised I was to find that he had half-siblings both on his father and mother’s side of the family that got little to no publicity and never seemed to be mentioned as coming to visit or being involved as family with him.

          With divorces and second marriages it seems to be common that there are completely separate families where “oh yeah, that’s my sibling by my dad with his first/third wife, we never met and have nothing to do with each other”.

          EDIT: Same birthdate is more circumstantial, but again – perfectly possible for cousins to be born on the same day. I have the same birthday (day, month, year) as the child of a friend of my mother’s, and we’re not related at all. That’s if we even believe this guy is genuinely related and not a spoofer or hoaxer.

          • Murphy says:

            Ya, I’m not too shocked either.

            Multiple places I worked had people with the same first and last name as me. (including receiving other peoples payslips… but not their pay unfortunately as they were making far more than me)

            Names are far from random.

            My family tree lists strings of people marrying people with names matching a parent or grandparent… because in small towns lots of people have the same surname and first names are picked from a fairly small pool.

        • The original Mr. X says:

          The Star Tribune has an article on the story, although since it’s behind a paywall I can’t verify its accuracy myself. There have also been claims that she lied about her second husband’s/alleged brother’s movements, which if substantiated would dent her credibility, although not in themselves prove that they really are related.

      • metacelsus says:

        My mom worked for Ilhan Omar’s campaign for Minnesota State House, but has since grown disillusioned with her. She explained that part of the reason for this is the marriages issue. She believes most of the allegations are true, although she was unwilling to provide me with any evidence. So I guess I just have this anecdote to contribute.

      • J Mann says:

        That’s what the adversarial collaboration is for! Want to do it?

        Here’s the evidence, as I understand it.

        A) Issue 1: Was Omar’s second marriage a fraud?

        A1) Basics: Omar held herself out as married to Husband 1, then married Husband 2. At some point, she began representing Husband 1 as her spouse again, then several years later, she filed for divorce from Husband 2, represented that she had no way of contacting him, and civilly married Husband 1. She had a child with Husband 1 while married to Husband 2.

        A2) Omar’s story: Omar says she was religiously married to Husband 1 in an undocumented ceremony, religiously divorced from Husband 1 (same), civiliy married to Husband 2, religiously divorced from Husband 2 (undocumented), religiously remarried to Husband 1 (same), then civilly divorced from Husband 2 and civilly married to Husband 2. Assuming that she was separated from Husband 2 when she conceived her child with Husband 1, the timing for this would be very tight. Omar’s defenders also argue that there would be no motive for marital fraud, since Husband 2 had residency status in Britain.

        A3) Evidence against Omar’s story: According to the local press, Husband 1 represented Omar’s home as his residence on official documents for the several year period where she was nominally married to Husband 2. Social media posts* (now scrubbed from Husband 2’s and Omar’s accounts) indicate that Omar’s statement that she couldn’t locate Husband 2 was false, because at that time, she occasionally visited him overseas and they frequently liked each other’s posts. There’s something about tax forms that has the local press interested, but I’m not up to speed on it. As to motive, I don’t think we know enough – there could be some benefit to US residency, insurance benefits, etc.

        B) Is Husband 2 Omar’s Brother

        B1) Evidence For: According to the local press, Husband 2 did his senior year of high school in the US, during which time he referred to Omar’s father as his father. He has a number of social media posts* referring to Omar’s daughters as his nieces. One of those posts is the day after the day Omar bore H1’s daughter during the period when H2 and Omar were nominally married – H2 posted a picture of himself holding a newborn girl and referring to her as his “niece, fresh out of the v—–” Omar has a post referring to H2 as her kids’ uncle. Both Omar and H2 refer to the same woman as their sister.

        And as weak evidence, neither Omar nor H2 has ever cleared this up. Omar has addressed the marriage issue (above), but all of the defenses on this one are hypotheticals thought up by her defenders.

        B2) Omar’s defenders’ story: Generally, Omar’s defenders argue that H2 referring to Omar’s father as his father, to her daughters as his nieces, and to her sister as his sister, and Omar referring to him as her daughters’ uncle isn’t intended literally, but just to indicate that they’re close, and that this is particularly common in Somali culture.

        My take – assuming that the social media posts are real,* I tend to lean towards Occam’s explanation. It sure *looks* like she continued to be common law married to H1, while marrying H2 for some kind of non-romantic reason. It’s *possible* that all of the references in their social media that indicate they’re related are meant figuratively, but it doesn’t strike me as the most logical explanation, particularly since both of them have apparently scrubbed their social media and refuse to comment on the issue. It’s definitely possible that they are not related, but that’s not the way I would bet.

        * Note on the social media posts: Most of them were provided to the local press anonymously. The source is allegedly a member of the Somali-American community who screencapped the social media posts. They look fairly plausible to me, and I haven’t seen an argument that they’re faked, but obviously, if the source is faking social media posts, the evidence collapses.

        That’s my understanding so far – I’d love to know more, so I think an adversarial collaboration would be a good idea.

        • Evan Þ says:

          Is there any chance that H2 might be referring to Omar’s relatives as his relatives because of his marriage to Omar? I know people who refer to their in-laws as “Mom” and “Dad”. But then, I wouldn’t know how plausible that’d be in Somali culture.

          • J Mann says:

            I think that’s definitely a possibility – that either because they had a friendly split (or that because she helped him out with some marriage fraud!) he views her family as his informal family.

            Again, that’s not the way I would bet if I had to, but it’s definitely a substantial possibility, and one of the reasons I think an adversarial collaboration might be informative.

          • For what it’s worth, by what I understand of Somali kinship, a woman is to some degree a member of her husband’s tribe, a man not at all of his wife’s tribe. The system of coalitions on which the legal systems is built is primarily based on agnatic (male line) kinship, although there is some role for female line kinship and explicit contract joining unrelated parties.

        • dick says:

          There are maybe half a dozen different kids who call me “Uncle” because I’m good friends with their parents. How that would translate to a different community and people who aren’t native speakers of English is anyone’s guess. None of this seems like evidence to me, more like gossip. It’s not something I would participate in (or even read) an AC about.

          More generally, it is the nature of conspiracy theories that they are the most persuasive when zeroing in on a detail, and least persuasive when looking at the big picture. In this case, the way to get me to think there’s anything here would not be a deep dive on how Somalis use the word “niece”, it would be a coherent narrative. The narrative in this case seems to be that Ilhan has a younger brother whose existence was kept secret for some reason, who was separated from her family at a young age, found his way to London and acquired British citizenship at a time when the rest of the family was applying for asylum in the US, and then years later, some bizarre set of circumstances led to the two of them finding each other and discovering that they were siblings, without producing any records or making their relationship common knowledge, and then they spent a period of time discussing that relationship openly among their friends and family on Facebook, but subsequently decided to delete those references so that they could enter into a felonious attempt to defraud the US immigration system, and everyone who knew about it kept their silence for years afterward, except one person who decided to reveal their secret to the media, but who conveniently insists on doing so anonymously. That is not floating my boat, as they say.

    • Deiseach says:

      2) Ilan Omar engaged in a sham marriage to a man who appears likely to have been her brother. (Current belief – probably true.)

      This seems so much like a tin-foil hat conspiracy theory that I fervently hope it is. If it’s true in any way, then I don’t know how she can continue to be a Congresswoman – helping make laws when she’s happily broken laws for personal advantage. I don’t want it to be true because there’s such a trailing tail of nasty stereotypes that can get trotted out – for the same reason I’m sick of seeing left-inclined blogs and reddits making jokes-not-jokes about the rednecks in flyover states all marrying/fucking their cousins (and nearer degrees of incest) as a way of demonstrating “why should we take these inbred retards seriously about anything/consider them as fellow-citizens and take their interests and wishes into account/well of course the inbred incestuous retards passed that law we don’t like”.

      • The Nybbler says:

        If it’s true in any way, then I don’t know how she can continue to be a Congresswoman – helping make laws when she’s happily broken laws for personal advantage.

        Oh come on, that’s more a requirement for high level political positions than a bar to them.

        • Deiseach says:

          For a start, it completely blows out of the water anything she might opine on immigration laws, the same way I’d dismiss out of hand anything on gambling legislation by a public representative proven to have gotten advantages from/via a gaming business.

          But more widely, how can you trust her honesty? How can you ever be sure she hasn’t been bribed, or is truly representing her constituents, or isn’t in somebody’s pocket? This is not “came across the border as a kid with my family even though we hadn’t papers”, this is “deliberately lied and flouted laws as an American citizen and grown-ass adult for my family’s benefit and fuck the rest of the citizenry”. She was plenty willing IF these allegations are true*, and I really hope these are not, to knowingly and willingly break laws on immigration, why should I think she would not be as willing to break laws about funding, bribes, or other matters?

          Even if these are not true, there are allegations that she lied under oath on her divorce application and that’s not great either. There does seem to be the slightest whiff of cosy corruption in her family dealings, akin to what we see in Irish politics about hiring on family members and friends:

          Omar visited Nairobi in December 2016, days after winning election to the Minnesota state legislature and not long before the divorce papers were sworn, PJ Media reported. From Nairobi, she flew to Somalia. Omar praised the newly formed Somalian government in a speech in March 2017. Two days later, Noor’s husband, Mohamed Keynan [Omar’s brother-in-law], got a top political job working for Somalia’s prime minister, PJ Media reported.

          *There are possible innocent explanations about, for instance, “how come all three of them had the same address, how come she married this guy after breaking up with her husband?” because it could well be she and her husband/partner/whatever he was to her house-shared with another Somalian person whom they either knew personally or simply because he was a fellow-Somali for the same reasons anybody else house-shares for rent and living expenses reasons; that their relationship was rocky, that she got to know this guy well, and after the relationship with Bloke Number One broke up she and her current husband ended up together – propinquity is a great enabler.

          That he is alleged to be in photos with her and calling her baby his niece doesn’t make him her brother – it’s not uncommon for family friends to be considered honorary uncles and aunts, especially if he’s ex-husband/boyfriend/whatever and they were on good terms, and if she was lying about breaking off all contact while she was still in touch with the guy, that just indicates she was lying about breaking off all contact, not that he is her brother.

          • Eponymous says:

            I haven’t looked into the claims closely, but tentative conclusion after taking a very brief look is that the marriage history sure looks fishy, but the evidence for the “her brother” part is very weak.

          • Protagoras says:

            The most credible thing in this conspiracy story is that she lied in her divorce papers. But it looks like that was intended to get the divorce without needing her ex-husband to be involved in the proceedings, and so even if she really did lie about that, it kind of seems to me that if her ex-husband doesn’t care, nobody else really has any reason to.

      • If it’s a sham marriage, there would presumably be no sex involved. I haven’t seen the details, but my guess from what was said here is that what is being claimed has to do with citizenship, that one of the two was a citizen and the purported sham marriage was to get the other permission to come and eventual citizenship.

        • dick says:

          I don’t think there are many details. She was married to a British citizen from 2009-2011, someone on a message board said he was her brother, and some right-wing blog picked it up and ran with it. AFAICT there are no records to support this theory, no first-hand accounts, and no explanation for how her hypothetical younger brother found his way to London or acquired a British passport.

          It does appear that she’s had kind of a messy romantic life. It’s possible that whoever made up the incest story did her a bit of a favor, by giving her a solid reason to refuse to answer any question about her relationships that gets too uncomfortable.

          • acymetric says:

            I’m confused. These people seem to think sharing a birthday is significant, even though he’s her younger brother (as opposed to twins where that might actually matter)?

        • J Mann says:

          Yes – the argument in the local press isn’t that she had an incestuous relationship with her brother, it’s that she (very likely) had a sham marriage with her second husband, and (somewhat less likely) that the second husband may have been her brother.

  10. Le Maistre Chat says:

    Why do vineyard tractors look like evil robots?

    • Gobbobobble says:

      Because druglords are evil?

    • Randy M says:

      Can you actually ride that bad boy like a mech?

      • metacelsus says:

        Fun song! But there’s a lot of dissonance between the lyrics (about “protecting” humanity) and the actual purpose of the machine . . .

    • bullseye says:

      Sometimes evil is necessary for the Lord’s plan.

      “We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana, as of a miracle. But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes. Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards, and which incorporates itself with the grapes to be changed into wine; a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy!” – Benjamin Franklin

    • Gray Ice says:

      @Le Maistre Chat
      There are other pieces of Ag equipment that look like the picture you’ve linked, specifically equipment made to remove tassels from seed corn. The basic shape is designed to be above multiple rows from crop (either corn or vines) and allow a systematic operation to be preformed on each row.

  11. smocc says:

    Does anyone know of an RPG with good gameplay mechanics for sailing / exploring at sea? I’ve been reading books about the medieval Indian Ocean world and it’s got my imagination going on some sort of ocean-crossing mystery / adventure. And I would want the ocean-crossing to be a non-trivial part of the gameplay beyond simple rolls for “you get there” vs “you sink.”

  12. Watchman says:

    There has been several mentions downthread of red-tribe Democrats, which leads to a classic outsider’s question: are their blue-tribe Republicans? If not, why not?

    • sentientbeings says:

      Sure. Bill Weld comes to mind. Or did you mean identifiable subgroups rather than individuals?

    • Randy M says:

      “Red Tribe” affectations are the ones the culture generally is moving away from. Even if we put aside the “cthulu swims left” rhetoric, the trend is away from the rural towards the urban, and that is probably the single biggest divide.

      Personally, I’m not a particularly dark shade of red.

    • Enkidum says:

      I think until about 2000, the majority of big players in the party were essentially Blue Tribe pretending to be Red (all the Bushes, Reagan, Romney, etc). Their power has been significantly curtailed, as a predictable consequence of deliberate choices leading all the way back to the Southern Strategy. But they’re still important in terms of what actually gets done.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Was Bush the Elder even pretending? He seemed pretty Northeast Blue to me.
        I know Bush the Younger assimilated to Texas and had a Variety of Religious Experience that overcame his alcoholism.

        • Enkidum says:

          Both are fair points.

          FWIW I don’t think Trump fits neatly into either tribe.

          • Matt M says:

            Trump himself doesn’t seem to be red tribe in any meaningful sense.

            BUT – the red tribe itself has utterly embraced him as a defining symbol of their general movement

            In other words, Trump himself is not red tribe, but “liking Trump” is about the most red tribe thing a person can possibly do…

          • Enkidum says:

            But he’s not very Blue Tribe either. He’s just too vulgar – Blue Tribers are not going to have gold-plated toilets.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Matt M: I am not in a Red bubble (quite the opposite until I move), but I’m getting the feeling that Republican voters see Trump as Abdiel from Paradise Lost – billionaires are Pure Evil, and this one took his money to finance a presidential campaign that defeated the Republican donors and then Hillary who loves real billionaires.
            It’s like a WWE script, actually.

          • Matt M says:

            Dude, you don’t have to tell me you’re not in a red tribe bubble if the next statement out of your mouth is a specific reference to Paradise Lost… the fact that you weren’t able to actually make a WWE reference speaks volumes.

            Basically, Trump is like when Vince McMahon had to rely on Stone Cold Steve Austin to save Stephanie from being sacrificed by the Ministry of Darkness.

          • AG says:

            “Not following WWE” is more of a Grey Tribe thing, though. Lots of Blue Tribers steeped in the entertainment industry follow WWE. See especially Max Landis’s famous video on Triple H.
            And lots of the most famous alum are unapologetically Blue Tribe. (The Rock, David Bautistia, Cena)

          • Phigment says:

            Trump is a Blue Tribe defector.

            He’s culturally Blue Tribe; has the background, has the connections, has the mannerisms. However, he’s publicly embraced Red Tribe markers.

            And he’s oddly sincere about it; his actual statements and actions are incoherent, but they’re actually pretty consistently in the direction of Red Tribe Rocks! Blue Tribe Sucks!

            This distinguishes him from most Blue Tribe Republicans, who, when pressed, tend to signal Blue Tribe Rocks! Red Tribe Is Fine!, and Blue Tribe Democrats, who signal Blue Tribe Rocks! Red Tribe Sucks!

            A lot of Trump’s popularity, in my opinion comes from that. People make fun of him because a lot of his specific messages are dumb, self-contradicting, or both, but on a meta-message level, he’s always pushing one, very consistent direction.

            In the culture war, Trump is a machine-gun dumping suppressive fire on the other side’s position. Sure, almost every single bullet he fires misses, but you’re still glad to have him there forcing the other guys to keep their heads down.

          • Enkidum says:

            He’s culturally Blue Tribe; has the background, has the connections, has the mannerisms. However, he’s publicly embraced Red Tribe markers.

            Nah. No Blue Triber has gold plated toilets. The dude is gauche in the extreme. He likes his steak well done. Not Blue Tribe, not by a long shot.

          • Matt says:

            Nah. No Blue Triber has gold plated toilets. The dude is gauche in the extreme. He likes his steak well done. Not Blue Tribe, not by a long shot.

            Blue Tribers can’t be gauche? What an odd claim.

          • acymetric says:

            @Matt

            As much as I’d love to claim that were true, it is definitely false.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Insomuch as Red Tribe and Blue Tribe mean very much at all, Red Tribe is gauche definitionally, in the sense of “unsophisticated” (rather than social awkward). NASCAR, Budweiser, Folgers, pickup trucks, etc. are not refined.

            Whether ultimate frisbee, micro-brewed IPAs, single source Arabica beans and Priuses are actually any more refined is, of course, plenty debatable. Just ask a hipster.

          • Matt says:

            TIL wearing pussy hats or chaps & thongs in the local Pride Parade is classic Red Tribe.

            This looks pretty Blue Tribe to me.

            I guess what I’m saying is that my very red tribe coworkers would scoff at your suggestions that anything they do is gauche. ‘Gauche’ is more about class than tribe, and gauche actions by the wealthy aren’t really connected to tribe. Versace makes a gold-plated AK. Is that Red Tribe or Blue? Is Trump more likely to buy it than some rapper?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt:
            Do you understand the original conception of the Blue/Red tribes as described by Scott?

            Now, I’ve said frequently I don’t think they capture anything different than the “town and country mouse” story. Honestly, I don’t think are ALL that useful.

            But rappers with AKs, gold plated or otherwise, are most definitely NOT “Blue Tribe” unless they are employed in some sort of ironic art house statement.

          • Matt says:

            Yes, I do.

            I didn’t say gold-plated AKs were Blue Tribe. I hoped you would agree with me that gold-plated AK’s don’t belong to either Tribe.

            … just like gold-plated toilets.

          • bullseye says:

            My take is that Trump’s people (the very rich) aren’t really blue or red. But Trump is rebelling against them; gold toilets and crassness in general say “new money” which Trump is not.

            My understanding is influenced by Michael Church’s Three Ladders: The Labor ladder is roughly Red Tribe, the Gentry Ladder is roughly Blue Tribe, the Elite Ladder isn’t really either tribe, and neither is the Underclass.
            http://sasamat.xen.prgmr.com/michaelochurch/wp/2012/09/10/the-3-ladder-system-of-social-class-in-the-u-s/

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Matt:

            I was responding to your comment that was questioning whether Blue Tribers could be gauche, and pointing that they basically can’t under the original concept.

            Gold plated toilets aren’t Red Tribe, but Red Tribe as Scott defined does contain a fair amount of class markers. Gold toilets are a stereotypical (which, we all know how much those are worth) lower class conception of what it means to be wealthy. This isn’t very different than old money sniffing at new money for ostentation.

            So, Trump, isn’t a particularly good fit for Blue Tribe.

            Again, I don’t think the Tribes conception is a map that resembles the territory all that well.

          • The Nybbler says:

            Trump is definitely New Money. He inherited it, sure, but only from his father and grandmother. Old Money goes back way further than that.

          • John Schilling says:

            Blue Tribers can’t be gauche? What an odd claim.

            I think it is reasonable to say that Blue Tribe doesn’t aspire to gauche. One could reasonably add a question along the lines of “what would you do if you won a hundred million dollars in the lottery?” to Scott’s original list of tribal identifiers, and I think many of the answers would fall solidly along tribal lines.

            Gold-plating everything you own so everyone will know you are rich, is a very Red Tribe answer.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Everyone here

            Trump is Red Tribe. He’s the Red-Tribe-est President we’ve had since the tribes have begun to separate.

            It confuses people a bit because he’s not terribly religious, which is literally the only strong Red Tribe signifier he doesn’t have.

            Queens is the Red Tribe area of New York, and Trump is the Queen-est guy from Queens. His sons are big-game hunter gun guys, he married young, divorced, remarried, divorced, remarried.

            If you look at Scott’s list of Red Tribe markers, the only ones Trump is missing are religious. Go check, I did before making this post. Maybe country music?

            One of the problems that comes up is that because the Blue Tribe are “elite” we connect that to wealth. But there are plenty of wealthy Red Tribers and they spend their wealth in Red Tribe ways. Trump is the epitome of that.

          • brad says:

            The Queens of Trump’s childhood is dead and gone. Good riddance.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @brad

            Less of this, please. “Red Tribe place is gone” is just needless gloating.

          • Matt says:

            conservative political beliefs – Yes
            strong evangelical religious beliefs – No
            creationism – No
            opposing gay marriage – Probably not, but politically smart enough to fake opposition… until he stopped.
            eating steak – Yes
            drinking Coca-Cola – Does Diet Coke Count? Then Yes.
            driving SUVs – I think he likes sports cars
            watching lots of TV – He denies, probably falsely but who really knows?
            enjoying American football – Yes
            getting conspicuously upset about terrorists – Yes
            and commies – Yes
            marrying early – Donald Trump’s first marriage was in 1977 when he was 30-31, depending on his wedding date so… No. Average age of first marriage in the USA at that time was 23-24
            divorcing early – Couldn’t find stats on average length of marriage for divorced couples by decade. Current average length of marriage for marriages that end in divorce is 7 years. He’s been married 3 times – 15 years, 6 years, and 14 years so far with Melania
            shouting “USA IS NUMBER ONE!!!” – Yes
            listening to country music. – Based on reporting… No

            I get roughly half ‘yes’, here.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Donald Trump doesn’t drink AND isn’t religious.

            On the Venn diagram of tribal properties the sliver of those two and Red Tribe is small indeed.

          • albatross11 says:

            People can be symbols or leaders of a social movement they’re not central members of, and indeed I think this happens pretty often. Trump is seen by a lot of red-tribers as a champion of their tribe, even though I don’t think he’s actually much like them. Similarly, Barack Obama was seen by a lot of American blacks as a champion of their tribe, even though he’s also not much like the median American black.

          • Mark Atwood says:

            Donald Trump doesn’t drink AND isn’t religious. On the Venn diagram of tribal properties the sliver of those two and Red Tribe is small indeed.

            It’s not that small.

            I personally know at least 4, possibly more, and know of more than that.

            A big chunk of that demographic is because of how dangerous alcohol is for Native Americans and Alaskan Natives.

            All of them don’t drink for the same reason that DJT doesn’t.

      • cassander says:

        >Their power has been significantly curtailed,

        Since when, exactly? Relative to 1960, maybe, but they still dominate the party.

        as a predictable consequence of deliberate choices leading all the way back to the Southern Strategy

        There’s no such thing.

        • Enkidum says:

          Since when, exactly? Relative to 1960, maybe, but they still dominate the party.

          Since 1990. Since 2000. Since 2010. It’s been a steady decline. I agree that they still do dominate the actual legislature, though (part of the problem is that the Red Tribe seems very bad at actual political organization).

          There’s no such thing.

          Gonna let that one slide…

          • cassander says:

            Since 1990. Since 2000. Since 2010. It’s been a steady decline. I agree that they still do dominate the actual legislature, though

            Other than trump himself, who certainly isn’t red tribe, I don’t think there’s been much of a shift since 2000.

            (part of the problem is that the Red Tribe seems very bad at actual political organization).

            Red america was mostly voting for democrats until the 90s, so it’s not suprising that they didn’t make many inroads before then.

            >Gonna let that one slide

            I won’t. Misquoting lee atwater does not a decades long strategy make, especially when it’s not backed up by the voting data.

          • Enkidum says:

            The Tea Party et al were simply the most overt manifestation of trends that started with the Southern strategy (seriously, ain’t gonna go there) and continued with further cynical moves like Gingrich’s Contract for America, etc. By the 2010s this movement had become powerful enough that it started being able to primary mainstream republican legislators, and destroy the careers of people like Boehner. This is a real change in Republican politics, and led directly to things like Trump’s election.

          • Eponymous says:

            @Enkidum:

            What trends specifically are you referring to? And how did Contract with America and the Tea Party accelerate or reflect them?

            You refer to the growing “red tribe” nature of the Republican party — but that’s an inherently vague claim. Combined with your reference to the Southern strategy, I assume you mean increased appeal to white, Southern, rural, lower class (by education/income) voters, perhaps also with a specifically racialized message. Is that what you mean? And if so, how do you see Gingrich and the Tea Party playing into this?

          • cassander says:

            The Tea Party et al were simply the most overt manifestation of trends that started with the Southern strategy (seriously, ain’t gonna go there)

            If you aren’t willing to defend you assertions, you should stop making them. Trends are not a conscious strategy, and certainly not a strategy of deliberate appeal to segregationists. The tea party, especially, wasn’t a strategy. It was genuinely grass roots and largely opposed by the party proper.

            and continued with further cynical moves like Gingrich’s Contract for America,

            I fail to see any argument here besides “red team bad.” What exactly was more cynical about the Contract with America than the rest of politics?

            By the 2010s this movement had become powerful enough that it started being able to primary mainstream republican legislators, and destroy the careers of people like Boehner.

            The tea partiers didn’t make his job any easier, but they didn’t destroy his career. He dealt them several defeats, got frustrated with a trying job, and very unexpectedly quit, still very firmly in control.

            This is a real change in Republican politics

            ,

            Boehner was replaced by paul ryan, another pretty blue tribe republican, and not someone the tea party faction wanted.

          • Enkidum says:

            Starting from the late 60’s, the Republicans made a very conscious effort to appeal to the southern white voters who began to turn away from the Democrats after the successes of the civil rights movement. This southern strategy was largely successful (though it took quite some time to complete itself), and has ended up providing one of the most important bases for the modern Republican Party. It involved several legislators and important activists actively switching parties, but in terms of the legislature was more a matter of waiting for people to die or retire.

            This was bound up with other attempts to fire up a political base focussed on one side of explicitly CW-ish topics, including things like abortion, Christian dominance, worrying about immigrants, and fervent nationalism. This really came to be central with Reagan, but Gingrich et al took it to the next level, and by 2000 the groups motivated by these factors became arguably the most important voting bloc in the party. By the time the tea party arrived, they began to wield real power in specific elections..

            Obviously I have a lot of disagreement with these people, I think their stated goals range from meaningless to evil. But that’s neither here nor there – my claim here is simply that they have becoming a more powerful part of the Republican base for the past 40 years, and now wield significant, if highly variable, control within the party itself. Which seems undeniable.

          • Eponymous says:

            @Enkidum:

            I don’t deny the realignment that took place in American politics between the late 60s and the early 00s.

            I still find your claims vague — I don’t really know what trends you’re referring to.

            I don’t think of Reagan, Gingrich, or the Tea Party as particularly connected to cultural wedge issues. In my mind they’re most closely associated with fiscal conservatism — small government, low taxes.

            Trump won by expanding the Republican vote in the rust belt (in the North) by appealing to economic anxiety and nativist sentiment among working class whites in these areas. He’s not very red tribe on many traditional cultural issues — for example, he can’t even do a marginally passable impression of a serious Christian. He’s a New York billionaire playboy. He’s not a fiscal conservative to any significant degree either.

          • albatross11 says:

            I think the tea party had a lot going on that wasn’t related to the southern strategy. My sense was that it was largely a rebellion of the conservative rank-and-file against conservative elites who’d just voted to bail out a bunch of huge financial companies, and whose previous few years in power had mainly been about waging (mostly unsuccessful and increasingly unpopular) wars overseas while not really doing much that was conservative at home. Approximately parallel to the Occupy movement.

            Gingrich and his crop of Republicans were IMO pretty strong true believers in a very ideological conservativism that wasn’t all that close to the Southern social conservatives, and that was heavily based around cutting government programs.

            As best I can tell, neither of these were especially driven by racial issues, at least not early on. Later on, the some of the Tea Party types along with a big part of the right wing media / think-tank world kind-of went nuts w.r.t. Obama in ways that seemed pretty clearly about race, and that also presaged a lot of the mainstream media line on Trump–calling him all kinds of names, implying he was not a legitimate president, etc.

            My sense was always that the original Tea Party was largely hijacked by conservative media who served as their internal communications–how they learned about their own movement. And that largely pushed them away from certain messages (anti-big-bank, skeptical of big business, anti-establishment, anti-war) and toward more acceptable-to-the-media-owners messages (anti-Obama, anti-immigration, anti-gun-control). And then there was this virus named Donald J Trump who was perfectly adapted to the receptors on that movement’s surface and could take it over for his own purposes.

          • cassander says:

            @Enkidum says:

            Starting from the late 60’s, the Republicans made a very conscious effort to appeal to the southern white voters who began to turn away from the Democrats after the successes of the civil rights movement.

            No, they didn’t. The south remained solidly democratic in its congressional voting until the 90s. Republican presidents did well in the south because they did well everywhere, winning an average of more than 40 states per election between 1968 and 88. that’s not a southern strategy, that’s a whole country strategy, and it’s one that usually did worse in the south than elsewhere prior to 84 or 88.

            It involved several legislators and important activists actively switching parties, but in terms of the legislature was more a matter of waiting for people to die or retire.

            Waiting for people to die is not a strategy for winning votes, and republicans did not spend 30 years pitching to people who were voting in the 60s hoping that their kids would eventually vote republican in the 90s. The number of people who switched parties was very small. most of the dixiecrats (voters and elected officials) stayed democrats through the 70s, became reagan democrats in the 80s, and then died as their kids to become republicans in the 90s.

            This was bound up with other attempts to fire up a political base focussed on one side of explicitly CW-ish topics, including things like abortion, Christian dominance, worrying about immigrants, and fervent nationalism.

            As opposed to the democrats, who would never dare campaign on such issues?

            This really came to be central with Reagan,

            Reagan’s emphasis was on tax cuts, de-regulation and sticking it to the commies, not culture war.

            but Gingrich et al took it to the next level

            The contract with america was 10 proposed laws, at most one of which (welfare reform) could be called culture war. Gingrich specifically avoided such issues in his campaign, because he wanted to run on stuff that polled overwhelming support. It was literally the opposite of what you are suggesting

            But that’s neither here nor there – my claim here is simply that they have becoming a more powerful part of the Republican base for the past 40 years, and now wield significant, if highly variable, control within the party itself. Which seems undeniable.

            And my point is that republican party is about as southern/red tribe today as it was in 2000. The voters are a lot that, the elected officials, particularly the senior ones, much less so, but there hasn’t been a dramatic change in recent years.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            I can’t be arsed to do this all over again.

            The historical perspective – Kevin M. Kruse

            Republican Presidential Performance – South vs. Others
            Democratic President Performance – South vs. Others

            *”Black Belt” here means the states containing the so called “Black Belt” which was associated with high agricultural production and contained the highest concentration of slaves.

            This is precisely the data Cassander asked for when I pointed to the clear and unambiguous shift in EC results in the South.

            No adversarial collaboration is possible because I don’t believe any amount of data will move Cassander from his position.

          • cassander says:

            @ Healbearcub

            This is precisely the data Cassander asked for when I pointed to the clear and unambiguous shift in EC results in the South.

            And it shows the republican shift either happening nearly 2 decades after you claim (if by shift you mean the south voting consistently republican), or over a decade before (if by shift you mean the end of dramatic democratic advantage in the south). In no way does it show 60s republicans moving the needle in the south their way on a consistent basis.

            No adversarial collaboration is possible because I don’t believe any amount of data will move Cassander from his position.

            For the last time HBC, I don’t dispute your data. I dispute you mis-representing it. No collaboration is possible because you ignore your own evidence when it doesn’t suit.

          • Nornagest says:

            Those graphs don’t show the Southern Strategy very clearly, I gotta say.

            1968 is usually cited as the first year of the Southern Strategy, but it’s not an overperforming year for the GOP (though that probably has something to do with George Wallace — both major parties underperformed in the South by similar margins), and it doesn’t mark a clear change in the graph either. From the graphs, the Democrats have clearly lost their dominance in the South by 1960 (Nixon, first try) or 1964 (Goldwater) — you could even argue for ’48 or ’52 — but Republicans don’t gain a stable advantage until 1980, and margins stay narrow after that until 1992. Things look pretty similar on the Democratic side.

            None of this disproves the existence of a strategy, of course; we’re looking at results here, not goals. But this ain’t the slam dunk that HBC is presenting it as.

          • J Mann says:

            No adversarial collaboration is possible because I don’t believe any amount of data will move Cassander from his position.

            IMHO, neither you nor cassander needs to change your position for the project to be successful. If you can come to agreement on what the evidence and arguments are and summarize them in a helpful way, then your readers can make up their minds.

            (It would be good if you were both open to changing your position, but if you’re both fully educated on the facts and just draw different conclusions from them, then maybe the best you can do is isolate where you disagree and why).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Nornagest:

            The whole data set is relevant and shows that the Democrats lost their overperformance in the south as a result of the Democratic party increasingly supporting civil rights at the national level. 1948 is the start of the trend point. Note the Republican performance pre 1948 to after.

            However the salient data points are 1964 through 1980.
            -1964, with Goldwater supporting the state right to segregate, Republicans overperform.
            – 1968 – With Wallace as the outright segregation candidate, the Republican does not get the segregation vote.
            – 1972 the Republican MASSIVELY overperforms. How clear a signal do you need that the South was willing to transfer their support to the Republican party over the issue of segregation?
            – 1976 – The last hurrah for Democrats with a Carter as Southern Governor at the head of the ticket.
            1980 – With Reagan consciously nodding to segregationist with where he kicks off his campaign, and what issue he chooses to highlight in his speach, Reagan performs as well in the South as anywhere else.
            After 1980 – The Republicans overperform in the South.

            So from 1964 forward, the only time the Republican underperforms in the South is when the outright segregationist is running as an independent, and 1976, with a hobbled Ford at the top of the ticket post Watergate scandal.

            I’m not sure how big a signal you are asking for…

          • Nornagest says:

            Okay, after consideration I think the graph might show good evidence for a Southern Strategy in the narrow sense of something that Richard Nixon dreamed up for his 1968 and ’72 campaigns. That’s consistent with the extreme overperformance in ’72, and even consistent with the results in ’68 given that Wallace probably drew most of the racist vote.

            But I still don’t think you can take that and the graphs you’ve presented, without your narrative and its handy canned justifications for every other point, and act like those are in themselves sufficient to prove a Southern Strategy in the broader sense of an epochal shift over the single issue of civil rights. Electoral results from circa ’60 to ’80 are very noisy but the overall trendline is basically flat. That doesn’t look to me like Southern racists slowly defecting as they get disillusioned with the southern Dems; it looks like a Reagan-era realignment following a couple decades of chaos. If some racist dogwhistling is enough to get Nixon 11 extra points in the South in 1972, how come we don’t see margins like that again until 2008? If Southern governor Jimmy Carter can draw the South, why don’t we see that for Southern governor Bill Clinton?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The “couple decades of chaos” is also about segregation. You can’t just ignore everything before 1948.

            And as Trump is fond of saying, Presidential elections aren’t won by popular vote. If you look at Electoral College performance the results are quite a bit more stark.

          • Nornagest says:

            You don’t need to be a political scientist to know that civil rights was deeply involved with the political crises of the ’60s and ’70s, but those crises don’t lead to GOP overperformance (except perhaps in 1972). That’s my whole point!

          • cassander says:

            @Normangast

            Okay, after consideration I think the graph might show good evidence for a Southern Strategy in the narrow sense of something that Richard Nixon dreamed up for his 1968 and ’72 campaigns. That’s consistent with the extreme overperformance in ’72, and even consistent with the results in ’68 given that Wallace probably drew most of the racist vote.

            the argument here isn’t over the question of did republicans camapign in the south. Of course they did. “the southern strategy” is a claim that Nixon and others dreamed up things specifically to win the racist vote. how is a different candidate winning the racist vote in 68 evidence for that? And what exactly do you think nixon dreamed up in 1972 that won their votes then, because it certainly wasn’t a return to segregation. the republican party position on civil rights is consistently supportive constant throughout this era except for 64, where doing the opposite is a disastrous failure. How is keeping the same position that alienated segregationists in 1948 courting them in 68 or 72?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Nornagest:
            Look at Republican performance in the South prior to 1948 (the year of the first Southern civil rights crisis). Look at the gap between their performance elsewhere in the country and in the South.

            In 1944 they underperfrom in the South by -17 points. This isn’t unique to FDR, it’s essentially the post Reconstruction norm.

            In 1948 they underperformm by less than -8 points. Even with an outright segragationist running as a third party candidate. Republicans gained support in the South in 1948 by a huge margin.

            In 1964 they overperform for the first time ever by +10 points.

            In 1968 the underperform by the -9 points

            They overperform in 1972 by + 11 points.

            In 1976 they only underperform by -4.5 points.

            In 1980 it’s basically even.

            The trend lines are clear.

          • Nornagest says:

            I don’t think you understand what I’m pointing to. Yes, if you graphed the GOP’s margin in the South relative to the rest of the country and ran a linear regression on it, you’ll get a positive slope. That’s obvious. And yes, I’m sure you have a lot of stories you can tell me about the individual elections there. I’m not interested in those. I’m interested in where stable gains for the GOP and/or losses for the Dems show up, ones that don’t go away one or two election cycles later. As best I can tell, those show up most clearly in two regions: 1948-1964, plus or minus an election or so, and 1980 onward.

            Even discarding correlation/causation issues and pretending that civil rights is the only thing distinguishing the South from the rest of the country, that’s still not consistent with the conventional narrative of the South turning to the GOP during the Nixon years and following the lead of a Nixonian electoral strategy, notwithstanding the evident success of that strategy in the short term. It might be consistent with some set of civil rights motives, but you’d need to actually point to those motives and explain why nothing that happened civil rights-wise in the Sixties and Seventies led to lasting change in the electoral margin, which is something that the conventional narrative really doesn’t do.

            Though it must be said that the data here is low-quality and we’re both reading tea leaves to some extent. Maybe a bigger dataset, like one including Senate elections, might give us some more clarity.

          • Clutzy says:

            I don’t think you understand what I’m pointing to. Yes, if you graphed the GOP’s margin in the South relative to the rest of the country and ran a linear regression on it, you’ll get a positive slope.

            But the “slope” part of that is just as consistent with the idea of people dying off, so its not helpful.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Nornagest:
            How much do you know about the politics of the time?

            Are you already familiar with the information in this thread?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Clutzy:
            A permanent 9 point swing toward the Republican Party in one election cycle is not consistent with people “dying off”.

          • Clutzy says:

            @Clutzy:
            A permanent 9 point swing toward the Republican Party in one election cycle is not consistent with people “dying off”.

            That would be good evidence. Which 2 year period are your referring to?

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The swing that happened in 1948.

          • Plumber says:

            @HeelBearCub >

            “…1948 is the start of the trend point…”

            On the other side of the aisle 1948 (the year Truman ordered the Army desegregated) is also the first year that more African-Americans were registered Democrats than registered Republicans, though they didn’t become overwhelmingly so until the 1964 election (the year of the passage of the Civil Rights Act).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Plumber:
            Yes, although the movement of Blacks away from the Republicans starts earlier, with FDR.

          • Clutzy says:

            HBC, the thread you linked doesn’t show any permanent 9 point swing towards Republicans in 1948, so IDK where you get that.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Clutzy:
            I am referring to this chart of popular vote totals for the Republican Presidential candidate in the South vs. the rest of the nation.

            Prior to 1948, Republicans underperformed in the South by 17 points or so (there is one notable exception, 1928, when the Democratic candidate was Catholic, a religion well hated in the South at the time.)

            From 1948 forward, that gap falls to only 8 points (and continues to fall from there).

          • sharper13 says:

            The flaws in the the Myth of the Southern Strategy which I’ve seen cited are that:
            1. At the time it supposedly went into effect, the National GOP was still the party of anti-racism more than their opponents. This can be seen in the vote percentages by party for the Civil Rights Act, among other things. (It’s also largely a North vs. South thing, but it shows that at that time, the Southern racists were solidly Democratic Partisans). Why would Southern racists start switching parties in droves to the one at the national level which opposed their views?

            2. According to Johnston and Shafer’s detailed look at Southern States voting and registration shifts, the move over time from Democratic Party dominance to GOP dominance began with the least racist southern states first (and the most racist states last) and was accomplished by GOP people moving in from non-southern States and wealthier suburbanites who were less racist and voted GOP more starting to outnumber working-class (and more racist) Democratic voters. If the theory is that the GOP took over the south via adopting racism to convince previously Democratic Party racists to switch, they failed miserably in that effort, because the south became GOP in the opposite manner, with the GOP less-racist portion of the population slowly outnumbering the remaining Democratic racists over time.

            If you have data which proves that (1) the GOP was more racist than the Democratic Party at that time, or (2) southern racists were more likely to switch to the GOP than southern non-racists during the time period you posit the Southern Strategy to have been effective, please present it, otherwise I’ll stick with the academic analysis on this one.

          • Clutzy says:

            @HBC

            That chart is extremely under-convincing. The 1948-52 jump predates most important actions, and there are no similar jumps later. Also it is a double jump, just a slightly weaker jump in the North. This mostly indicates that there is something in the Republican platform that precludes precludes Republicans from ever getting over 60% of the vote in the North. Based on the chart shown, that “factor” is probably Catholic immigrants (who overwhelmingly settled in northern cities).

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Clutzy:

            That chart is extremely under-convincing. The 1948-52 jump predates most important actions

            Storm Thurmond and the Dixiecrat party would disagree with you.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I wish Cassander would stop repeating the lie, over and over, that the Southern Strategy didn’t exist and had no effect.

          • cassander says:

            and I wish you would stop repeating the lie that it did, especially when it’s contradicted by the evidence you like to quote on this subject.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Snort.

            Seriously, you have been debunked over and over. Denying the Southern Strategy existed is laughable. Denying it had effects is debatable, but I’ve provide you the data you asked for and you either won’t acknowledge it, change your assertions, or otherwise simply refuse charity.

          • cassander says:

            Seriously, you have been debunked over and over.

            I keep telling you that, and you keep not listening.

            > but I’ve provide you the data you asked for and you either won’t acknowledge it

            Won’t acknowledge it? I’ve pointed out, repeatedly, how you misrepresent it.

            >change your assertions, or otherwise simply refuse charity.

            Pot, this is kettle. You’re black.

          • souleater says:

            This sounds like it would be an interesting adversarial collaboration.

          • J Mann says:

            Seconded for adversarial collaboration, although if HBC keeps accusing cassander of lieing, it’s possible that a different pair would get along better.

            (I’m not saying the accusation is necessarily illegitimate. I doubt cassander is being intentionally deceptive, but I read HBC as effectively saying “the evidence is so strong on this point that I’m confident saying the statement is a lie.”)

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            Are we for or against Lie inflation?

          • J Mann says:

            I’m for mostly accurate lie pricing, and OK with a little squishiness when it serves a valuable rhetorical purpose.

            Of course, if you’re concerned about inflation, you mostly need to worry about whether the supply of the word “lie” shifts relative to changes in the National Lie Production. 😉

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            While an Adversarial Collaboration would be interesting, I’ve seen this fight happen so many times I doubt there is the good will for it to happen.

          • cassander says:

            @J Mann

            (I’m not saying the accusation is necessarily illegitimate. I doubt cassander is being intentionally deceptive, but I read HBC as effectively saying “the evidence is so strong on this point that I’m confident saying the statement is a lie.”)

            And that’s what I’m saying about his position. The voting presidential vote totals presented by HBC make it very clear that the south does not become more republican than the rest of the country until the late 80s at the earliest. He tries to argue his way out of this by declaring as “outliers” any elections that run contrary to his theory, but the congressional voting, which he usually ignores as much as possible, points even later, to the mid 90s. The idea of republicans in the 60s “successfully” implementing a plan to appeal to voters that wouldn’t pay off until the 90s when those voters were dying off ought to be self refuting, unless you’re ideologically driven to label your political opponents as witches racists no matter the context.

          • Matt M says:

            While an Adversarial Collaboration would be interesting, I’ve seen this fight happen so many times

            +1

            We need fewer debates about this, not more!

          • dick says:

            It seems likely that you guys are talking past each other, and the “it didn’t exist” / “yes it did” is just obscuring the actual point of dissent? Which might be entirely semantic?

            One useful way forward might be for both sides to tell us what, if anything, you disagree with from the wikipedia article on it.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            The voting presidential vote totals presented by HBC make it very clear that the south does not become more republican than the rest of the country until the late 80s

            See, this is what I mean.

            There are four elections before 1980. Republicans overperform in the South in two of them…

          • quanta413 says:

            See, this is what I mean.

            There are four elections before 1980. Republicans overperform in the South in two of them…

            Half the datapoints (out of 4 datapoints) support my pet theory by correlation but half don’t is an embarrassingly bad argument.

            You do realize that right? You could be correct, but your arguments so far on this have been crap. They weren’t overwhelmingly better last time although I remember them being somewhat better at least one time. cassander has the much easier side of this because he’s defending the null.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @quanta413:
            Sigh. How about your argument is crap doesn’t address my point at all?

            Cassander made a claim that the it was “very clear” that the South didn’t become more Republican than elsewhere before the late 80s. That’s simply not true. It isn’t very clear.

            1964 is the first time ever that Republicans overperform in the South. They massively overperform. They massively overperform in 1972. They underperform by much less than normal in 1976. The are even in 80. They overperform in 84.

            The South moves heavily towards Republicans starting in 1948, and they start overperforming in 1964. From 1964 forward to the present day there are only two elections where Republicans underperform in the South, something that had never occurred before that election.

            How on earth does that makes it “very clear” that the Southern Strategy didn’t work or that the South didn’t move to Republicans until 1988?

            By 1988 the gains had become permanent. That’s an entirely different claim.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @quanta413:
            And while we are at, I think you need to reexamine and justify your contention that Cassander is simply defending the null hypothesis. He is making plenty of positive claims. He isn’t claiming that we don’t know that the Southern Strategy had an effect, he is claiming that that it did not have an effect (and that “There’s no such thing.” as effects of the Southern Strategy).

            It’s one thing to say that we can reject my claim that Russel’s teapot is in orbit as lacking evidence. It’s quite another to say that we know Russel’s teapot doesn’t exist. Most especially when we know that Russell built a rocket, put a tea pot on it, and successfully launched it.

          • quanta413 says:

            How on earth does that makes it “very clear” that the Southern Strategy didn’t work or that the South didn’t move to Republicans until 1988?

            You’re mixing multiple claims. The “Southern Strategy” doesn’t refer to Republicans eventually gaining vote share in the South over time (although noisily) so that evidence isn’t persuasive. That fact is not in dispute as far as I can tell.

            I’m pretty sure your claim is that Republicans had a prolonged conscious strategy to woo the South by engaging in racism against blacks, and that this is a significant part of why the South moved to the Republicans. If your claim is just correlation, correct me.

            But as far as I can tell, the case is strong for Nixon trying but not anyone else. It’s less clear if it actually was key for Nixon.

            It’s one thing to say that we can reject my claim that Russel’s teapot is in orbit as lacking evidence. It’s quite another to say that we know Russel’s teapot doesn’t exist. Most especially when we know that Russell built a rocket, put a tea pot on it, and successfully launched it.

            Your claim is causal; the democrats retreat from segregation is a good explanation for their slippage in the South on its own absent the Republicans doing anything at all. So the correlations you have (based upon a single digit number of data points since you seem to be ignoring midterms, not all of which these datapoint even go the way you would need) don’t mean much.

            The datapoint correlates in the right direction in ’64, but Goldwater seems principled in his opposition to the civil rights act of ’64 rather than pursuing a racist strategy (he voted for previous civil rights acts which would be a terrible choice). For different reasons, his politics happened to align with Southerner’s at the time, but he had a bunch of other positions that Southerners hated. Like selling the TVA. And a lot of the Republican party didn’t like Goldwater because he was too conservative which seems like a strike against the idea the Republicans were pursuing a Southern strategy at that point.

            The term Southern strategy is only useful in as much as it is causal and you can show it was pursued. So on Nixon I think the case is strong, but it doesn’t actually imply much about anyone but Nixon. It doesn’t matter that the correlation goes the way your theory predicts eventually, because the result would plausibly have been the same since the democrats nationally abandonded segregationist policies. That’s why I say Cassander is basically defending the null.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @quanta413:

            The term Southern strategy is only useful in as much as it is causal and you can show it was pursued.

            Have you actually looked at the link I provided that shows evidence that it was pursued by both Republicans and segregationist Democrats, not just Nixon? Do you know know the significance of Reagan’s speech at the Neshoba County Fair, to which I have already referred?

            There is plenty of evidence that the Southern Strategy wasn’t limited to Nixon. The existence of the strategy is well documented.

            Your contention that “The term Southern strategy is only useful in as much as it is causal ” makes no sense to me. The fact that Republicans attempted the strategy doesn’t disappear if it wasn’t successful, and it certainly doesn’t disappear if we cannot prove to a scientific certainty that the move occurred because of the strategy.

            And yet we still have good evidence that the South was hungry to vote for whomever seemed most supportive of segregation.

            So what would you expect to see as evidence that the South moved to the Republican corner over the Democratic parties non-support for segregation? And given that the Republican party did did have a strategy to encourage them to move, and movement happened, how is Cassander’s contention that it is “very clear” that the strategy didn’t exist and had no effect a null claim?

          • sharper13 says:

            As the threading is difficult at this level, please see my comment above regarding the southern strategy and how it doesn’t match the data available on how the south turned Republican. Short version: The racists stayed Democratic and non-racist GOP members moved in/began to be a higher percentage of the population over time.

          • quanta413 says:

            Have you actually looked at the link I provided that shows evidence that it was pursued by both Republicans and segregationist Democrats, not just Nixon? Do you know know the significance of Reagan’s speech at the Neshoba County Fair, to which I have already referred?

            The Neshoba County Fair link is obvious tea-reading. If I didn’t think Goldwater was attempting the strategy (and he was obviously more pro state rights than Reagan) but was instead basically a proto-libertarian, why would you think I’d find the Nishoba County Fair speech even slightly convincing? The entire South was full of places civil rights workers were murdered or blacks were lynched. There probably aren’t many places you could go that you couldn’t concoct some story for.

            I generally ignore twitter links, but I did you a favor and read it. It’s not great or bad. Just ok, doesn’t really move me much. For example, he claims that Alsop calling it the Southern strategy is some sort of sign it must have existed because he implies Alsop was a Republican… but Alsop was a journalist/pundit and New Deal Liberal even if supposedly Republican (yet supported JFK… what?). Obviously he hated Goldwater, so why would I care what Alsop said? I don’t care what David French or Paul Krugman write in opinion pieces and no one else should either so why does it what this guy said? Then he goes on to cherry pick some congressional races and particular datapoints. But what makes me think I shouldn’t take this cherry picking seriously is he basically says “AH-HA Nixon swept the South in 1972 which is evidence the Southern strategy is real!”… but his own map shows Nixon swept the entire country except Massachusetts and DC in 1972. Statements like that show either dishonesty or a poor understanding of how to even interpret the most trivial of correlations.

            Your contention that “The term Southern strategy is only useful in as much as it is causal ” makes no sense to me. The fact that Republicans attempted the strategy doesn’t disappear if it wasn’t successful, and it certainly doesn’t disappear if we cannot prove to a scientific certainty that the move occurred because of the strategy.

            No it matters because the opposite causal direction could also explain the data. If you had some words from Republicans who controlled Republican campaigns at the national level saying they’re going to use a particular strategy (or it was implied in a fairly clear manner; none of this reading tea leaves nonsense), I’d find that pretty convincing. What you have instead is their opponents labeling a rather diverse set of facts skipping years that they don’t like a strategy and then citing correlation as proof this strategy existed and was successful. The Southern Strategy implies a top down strategy from party to voters. The other explanation that fits the data is that after Democrats broke against segregation, Southerners were more inclined to vote Republican for other reasons (that much of the rest of country also supported) and thus the party changed.

            To be fair to what you said, I think there’s some fraction of racist appeal going on, I just don’t think it was a deep strategic choice determined by cunning calculation. I find it about as convincing as when I’ve seen people to the left of the Clintons claim Bill Clinton was engaging in racist dog-whistling to gain voters in some speech at some prison (I’m not going to look up exactly what it was because I think the claim was either wrong or irrelevant).

            The Republican party could have made a national policy of not running segregationist candidates in the South (at the same time the Democrats were running segregationist candidates), but I don’t find “being the same as the the only other significant party” significant evidence of a top down strategy.

            Or to put it another way, I find the Southern Strategy theory about as plausible as the theory that the Democrats have a top-down strategy to import more Democratic voters by failing to enforce border control (since the children of any illegal immigrants will be able to vote down the road or for the real tin-hat conspiracy theorists, Democrats bus illegals around to cast votes illegally). There’s lots of correlation, and Democrats really have been liking border control less and less over the years on average (with lots of noise). Democrats also say things you can read tea leaves about. But I think their voters caused the change more than they changed their voters.

          • acymetric says:

            @HeelBearCub

            You’re fighting the good fight, but this conversation stopped being about statistics or reason before it ever started. This OT and the two previous have easily been the most aggravating I’ve seen since I started hanging out here a little over a year ago.

            For your sanity, I encourage you to let it go.

          • I wish Cassander would stop repeating the lie

            I don’t know which of you is right, but I wish you would not describe as a lie an argued disagreement.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @acymetric:
            As you wish.

            Edited:
            On third thought, I’ll reword this again. I don’t think SSC tolerates views that are conventionally slightly left of center, and are also consensus, well at all, and this is just another example. That you think I’m the one who needs to stop talking, so that you can stop being aggravated, is just another example.

          • AliceToBob says:

            For your sanity, I encourage you to let it go.

            – acymetric

            On third thought, I’ll reword this again. I don’t think SSC tolerates views that are conventionally slightly left of center, and are also consensus, well at all, and this is just another example. That you think I’m the one who needs to stop talking, so that you can stop being aggravated, is just another example.

            — HBC

            It sounds like acymetric is concerned about your level of aggravation, not his/hers. I don’t feel like you should stop arguing your points, if that’s what you wish.

            I do think you come across badly by labeling cassander as a liar (and I think similarly of him for taking the bait and responding in kind), and then judging the SSC as intolerant of “slightly left of center” views. It paints a pretty clear picture of why an adversarial collaboration isn’t possible.

          • acymetric says:

            @HBC

            You misunderstood me. I’m not aggravated by your posts or your point, I was saying I share your frustration about the way this topic is received but that you are unlikely to get anyone engaged in this conversation to agree with you.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @acymetric:

            Ah, you are correct that I misunderstood you.

            As for your frustration, I would say the last two weeks are pretty typical of what happens when certain views get challenged from the left. Largely because of where Scott spends most of his intellectual energy when it comes to politics.

          • Plumber says:

            @HeelBearCub,
            For what little it’s worth I remember the “Boll weevil” Democrats of the 1980’s who generaly voted along with Republicans and that back then “conservative Democrat” didn’t just mean “more conservative than the median Democrat” it meant “conservative”, and “liberal Republicans” still existed back then as well.

            What you’ve been articulating has been the standard narrative for decades, and I don’t see any reason to disagree with it or to argue with those who do, so yes I agree with you, but they’re new battles to fight.

          • quanta413 says:

            I don’t think SSC tolerates views that are conventionally slightly left of center, and are also consensus, well at all, and this is just another example.

            Disagree is not the same thing as not tolerate. I tolerate your views perfectly fine. In this case, I just think it’s less accurate than the bottom up view. Mostly though, I just like arguing with you.

            Have you noticed that other left of center people don’t get as much pushback as you get? You behave in a way that guarantees you are fun to argue with.

          • Paul Brinkley says:

            I don’t think SSC tolerates views that are conventionally slightly left of center, and are also consensus, well at all, and this is just another example.

            I can’t help but be reminded of Colbert’s famous staged complaint about reality having a liberal bias. I took it as implying that conservatives were wrong to insist on equal respect for their views, since the very fabric of reality made such respect impossible.

            Now there’s this complaint about SSC being intolerant of even slightly left views. The difference being that this complaint isn’t staged. But what if such views aren’t presented in good faith (“I wish cassander would stop repeating the lie”)? What if the fabric of SSC is coincident with the fabric of rationality, and makes it impossible to respect views presented irrationally?

            Claiming that there is no such thing as a Southern strategy looks like presenting an opinion as fact, if done without evidence or to newcomers. OTOH, calling that opinion a lie looks no better.

    • Matt says:

      I voted Libertarian for president in 2016 because I was convinced that Trump was a blue-tribe Republican.

      That’s a pretty good description of pre-2015 Trump, IMO. I mean, in the periods of his life when he wasn’t a blue-tribe Democrat, that is.

    • EchoChaos says:

      are their blue-tribe Republicans?

      Absolutely. Massive numbers of them, making up the easy majority of the Republican representatives. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, Lindsay Graham, etc.

      One of the chief complaints of the Republican base, which is heavily Red, is how Blue their representatives are.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Neocons. Editors of National Review. Bill Kristol. Jeb Bush. They like low taxes, dislike regulations, like foreign wars, lowkey like illegal immigration, strongly dislike Trump. Culturally though they like their arugula salads and disdain NASCAR.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        Can admit that I like arugula salads and do not like NASCAR. Although Bristol was pretty sweet until they redid the track. Super-speedways are incredibly boring.

    • Matt M says:

      “Left-libertarians” are basically “blue-tribe Republicans” in the sense that they identify primarily with blue tribe cultural/social values, but may lean Republican due to economic issues.

      • LadyJane says:

        I don’t think you’re using the term “left-libertarian” properly.

        Traditionally, “left-libertarian” has been used to refer to actual anti-capitalists (e.g. syndicalists, socialists, communists) who supported civil libertarianism or anarchism, and opposed the authoritarianism of state socialism/communism. But nowadays, I see a lot of people incorrectly using it to mean one of the following:

        1. A capitalist libertarian whose economic views are center-right rather than far-right, i.e. people who aren’t completely against taxes, regulations, and welfare as a matter of principle. Basically, anyone who’s not a minarchist or anarcho-capitalist. A better term for these people would be “moderate libertarian,” since they’re not really leftists at all, just centrists or moderate right-wingers.

        2. A capitalist libertarian who takes liberal stances on social and cultural issues like racial equality, gender equality, LGBT rights, sex work, drug use, police brutality, and war. A better term for these people would simply be “libertarian,” since libertarians in general are “fiscally conservative and socially liberal.” Someone who’s fiscally conservative and socially conservative would be better described as “conservative.” And if some paleo-conservative Tea Party types consider themselves “libertarian” just because they have anti-establishment leanings and oppose the current federal government, that just means they don’t know what “libertarian” means. Fascists, communists, and religious fundamentalists all oppose the current federal government too, but that doesn’t mean they’re pro-liberty.

        So really, it would be more accurate to just say that “libertarians are basically blue-tribe Republicans.” After all, Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate Bill Weld was quite literally a Blue Tribe Republican before he joined the Libertarian Party!

        • Traditionally, “left-libertarian” has been used to refer to actual anti-capitalists

          In my experience, it is used to refer to several quite different groups:

          1. Anarcho-communists, syndicalists, and the like–your “anti-capitalists.” That’s an older meaning for “libertarian,” although not as old as the “believer in the doctrine of free will” meaning.

          2. Georgists and similar groups, libertarians who come up with libertarian arguments for what most other libertarians consider anti-libertarian policies, such as some level of income redistribution. There are two books by Vallentyne and Steiner that use the term that way in their titles.

          3. Libertarians who identify in various ways with the left. They tend to dislike the term “capitalist,” use left sounding rhetoric, but don’t have as clear a break with other libertarians as the previous group. The Center for a Stateless Society would be an example.

          One might also include the Bleeding Heart Libertarian group. I don’t think they self-identify as left-libertarians, but I’m not sure they don’t.

  13. souleater says:

    I find the whole “kids in cages” meme a little irritating.

    I assume that most people agree we need to enforce some sort of border.
    If people come here illegally, we need to detain them while we sort out their asylum request
    If people come with children, we still need to detain the adults, while keeping the children separate from the adult population, safe, and unable to slip away into the general society (not a problem for 4 year olds, but I imagine it is a concern for a 17 year old)

    Is the issue just that cages are what we use for animals? If the children were stored in a “kid friendly room with toys and books etc.” would that solve the issue? That’s just a funding question, and I think most republicans would be happy to agree to more funding to improve conditions.

    What would the left feel like is a satisfactory alternative to “kids in cages”?

    • Randy M says:

      What would the left feel like is a satisfactory alternative to “kids in cages”?

      There is protest of the company that was providing bedding. I suspect there would be similar complaint of the company providing crayons and stuffys, at least among a vocal minority.
      And frankly, there is a point there. The salient point for the child is not the cold iron ambiance, but the separation from the parents.

      • souleater says:

        The salient point for the child is not the cold iron ambiance, but the separation from the parents.

        I didn’t want to create a strawman, but that is my sense of the situation. But I don’t think anyone want the children to be detained with the parents.

        I feel like the only logical solution to the kids in cages issue, is to not detain anyone who crosses the border with children. That would create a perverse incentive, with the only real “solution” is to stop detaining illegal immigrants at all.

        • acymetric says:

          But I don’t think anyone want the children to be detained with the parents.

          Are you sure about this? I’m almost certain “allow families with children to stay together” is a reasonably common request from those who aren’t happy with the way things are being handled (I can’t go digging for articles supporting this while I’m at work, maybe someone else will do the dirty work for me or I can do it this evening).

          I mean, yes there will be people who say “that isn’t good enough, no detention period” and maybe that’s what you were trying to get at but I think for the majority the stance is “given we are detaining these people with children, at least let the children remain with the parents/mother/what have you so that it is marginally less trauamatic”.

          • souleater says:

            “that isn’t good enough, no detention period” and maybe that’s what you were trying to get at

            To be honest, I sometimes get the sense that thats what immigration advocates really want. That being said, I don’t feel like there is any opportunity for productive discourse if I assume bad faith.

            I’m trying to convey is the sense the “kids in cages” is, while not the ideal, a reasonable response to the immigration situation we find ourselves in, and not based on malice, hatred, or racism.

            I’m almost certain “allow families with children to stay together” is a reasonably common request

            This doesn’t strike me as a feasible solution. Keeping large numbers of strangers sleeping eating and bathing around children seems like a recipe for child abuse. I feel like while the children are in our care we have a responsibility to keep them safe, which to me means separate from strangers. One solution could be separate accommodations for each family unit, but I don’t think ICE has the resources to do that. If it assuages the concerns from illegal immigration advocates I would be comfortable allocating additional funding to ICE in order to allow every family unit their own separate space, but I feel like that would be more money than many people are willing to spend.
            I get the sense from your post that your big concern is the separation from the parents, if that’s the case, would the solution I described be agreeable to you?

            edit: I actually see in a later comment that detaining a child with their parent would actually be illegal, in the interest of bipartisanship, I would be willing to support legislation altering this if that is the preference of illegal immigration advocates

          • I feel like while the children are in our care we have a responsibility to keep them safe, which to me means separate from strangers.

            1. The guards are strangers. The only non-strangers available are the parents.

            2. The ordinary state of society, on both sides of the border, does not keep children separate from strangers, it relies on the children’s parents to protect them from strangers. Separating the children from their parents makes them more vulnerable, not less.

        • The logical solution is to kick out any of these illegal immigrants for their “asylum” claims, because they go through two or three other countries to get to the US. It’s like how all the Syrian refugees mysteriously didn’t feel safe until they crossed through Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Austria when they reached the only safe country of Germany, which wouldn’t you know, has better economic opportunities.

        • cassander says:

          I didn’t want to create a strawman, but that is my sense of the situation. But I don’t think anyone want the children to be detained with the parents.

          This is absolutely not the case. I know people who made that exact argument to me personally, and with some heat.

          • souleater says:

            My concern with leaving children with their parents in detention centers is the risk of physical harm to the child. I think the US government has a responsibility to keep the children safe, and that means separating them from the general population.

            Do my concerns seem reasonable to you, or maybe there is an alternative solution I haven’t thought of?

          • Do my concerns seem reasonable to you

            No. I think you have it exactly backwards. The only adults who children have a reasonable expectation of being protected by are their own parents.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      If people come here illegally, we need to detain them while we sort out their asylum request

      Here is something for you to do to check your pre-conceptions: Do you know what the policy has been in this regard?

      • souleater says:

        I’m not going to double check to avoid biasing myself, but my understanding (and I may be wrong!) if that the old policy was to issue a “court summons” or something similar with the expectation the illegal immigrants show up to their hearing.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          If this is your understanding, why do you think detention is in some way mandatory?

          • souleater says:

            Because I don’t see any other way to guarantee they show up for their hearing otherwise. Given that they were coming here with the expectation of having to hide from the government, I consider them a major flight risk.

            illegal immigration is a crime*, and I think it should be handled the way any other crime is handled. We set a reasonable bail if possible and bail may be denied to a defendant who is likely to flee the jurisdiction before the case concludes

            *I understand there are many who request asylum, which is not a crime, but under many circumstances If the asylum application is rejected as meritless or unsupported, the person can be prosecuted

          • HeelBearCub says:

            We can’t “guarantee” that people who receive speeding tickets show up in court either.

            You are expressing that separating children from parents is “mandatory” for no other reason than your personal policy preference. There are other options, such as electronic monitoring. We could actually dedicate the resources to the immigration courts that are necessary to process claims in an expeditious manner.

            If we look at solely asylum cases from 2013 to 2017, “applicants received deportation orders “in absentia” in 6 percent to 11 percent of cases per year”.

            Even for ALL migrant cases (not just asylum) the no show rate is only 44%.

          • JonathanD says:

            @souleater,

            The Obama administration started a pilot program for families in 2016. It ran two years, into the Trump administration. You did an initial interview to qualify for the program, you got matched with a case worker and released until your court date. The program cost $36 per day and had 100% court date compliance. It was cancelled for being too expensive.

            Detention isn’t necessary. It isn’t cost effective. Which should raise the question: “Why are we doing it then?”

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            The program cost $36 per day and had 100% court date compliance.

            100% court compliance?

            I Want To Know More.

          • JonathanD says:

            @Edward Scizorhands,

            https://www.oig.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/assets/2017-12/OIG-18-22-Nov17.pdf

            Page seven, near the bottom, program costs and performance metrics.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            As of March 30, 2017, ICE reported that it expended $17.5 million in program costs to enroll 781 active participants in FCMP across all five locations. According to ICE, overall program compliance for all five regions is an average of 99 percent for ICE check-ins and appointments, as well as 100 percent attendance at court hearings. Since the inception of FCMP, 23 out of 954 participants (2 percent) were reported as absconders.

            This significantly harms the conservative position that they won’t show up. At least for families.

            I don’t see $36, but the first sentence makes it sound like it cost $22K per family. That is a lot, but I guess that is split over . . . 622 days? That gets us $36. That is a lot of days. Are people held that long at the detention centers?

          • souleater says:

            @Jonathan D
            If you can provide a source, or the name of the program, I will be happy to take the time to educate myself on it. If I could be convinced illegal immigrants/asylum seekers will show up for their court dates, I would change my opinion on detention.

            -EDIT I see you already provided a source, thank you

            @HeelBearCub
            I think that a person who gets a speeding ticket is facing, at worst, a $500 fine. Most Americans have a stable address, a place of employment, and enough ties to the community that they are unlikely to disappear. I think when people face deportation they are more likely to not show up to their court date. Does my position seem unreasonable to you?
            I’m not sure what electronic monitoring would entail. In my experience, there are very few electronic measures that can’t be defeated with a few hours of privacy and nothing to lose.

            Even for ALL migrant cases (not just asylum) the no show rate is only 44%.

            This seems really, really high to me.

            “applicants received deportation orders “in absentia” in 6 percent to 11 percent of cases per year”.

            I feel like its unfair to use statistics referring to asylum applicants generally. I’m referring specifically to illegal immigrants trying to cross into the US, and then being caught and requesting asylum.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Edward Scizorhands:
            Well, if you want to hold them until their case resolves, they will be held that long…

          • JonathanD says:

            @Edward Scizorhands,

            https://www.aclu.org/blog/immigrants-rights/immigrants-rights-and-detention/tried-and-true-alternatives-detaining

            I figured linking the Trump administration’s report on the program would be more convincing to the commentariat here, and didn’t check that report for the $36 number. It’s in this article. (And a couple of others.) Not sure exactly where it comes from, tbh.

          • hls2003 says:

            @Edward:

            This significantly harms the conservative position that they won’t show up. At least for families.

            It’s suggestive, but I’d be wary of scaling effects. 781 is not a very large percentage of cases. If the system had the resources to focus a lot of attention on every claimant, then presumably it would also be likely to have the resources to prevent the recent overloading. I mean, say hypothetically that if you assign an individual case manager to each of these 781, you get very good compliance. If you scale it up, you’re going to need more case managers than there are ICE employees. (I know this was a contracted vendor, but just to illustrate the point). There could also be issues with how they selected the case studies; it’s not impossible that a pilot program would start with the most promising to try to get to the next stage.

            I agree that if it scaled, it would probably be worth the substantial cost.

          • Eponymous says:

            A further question: what is the mechanism for removing those whose asylum cases are rejected? If no such mechanism exists, then the prevailing policy is open borders in effect, if not in word. Yet the current Democratic policy seems to be to oppose targeted ICE deportation operations.

          • souleater says:

            A few more questions,
            What is their immigration status while they are going through this program?
            Are they really living here for over 2 years while this gets sorted out? I don’t want anyone’s due process rights to be violated, but I would expect most of these cases are very straight forward. I don’t understand how it could take a judge 2 years to decide if someone has a case for asylum.

            If they are living here for 2 years, are they allowed to work? get married? I would be concerned that this turns into a de facto work visa. illegal immigrants show up, they get their case worker, then work for 2 years before being deported.

          • J Mann says:

            A few additional data points.

            1) “Compliance with removal orders” may be lower than court appearances. For example, this report about alternatives to immigrant detention states that:

            Data from Contract Year 2013 from BI, Inc., the private contractor who operates some of the government’s ATD programming, showed a 99.6% appearance rate at immigration court hearings for those enrolled in its “Full Service” program and a 79.4% compliance rates with removal orders for the same population.

            2) The FCMP in particular is a little hard to evaluate. It’s true that most people showed up for their hearings, but almost no cases were cleared during its short life, so it’s hard to say how many people would have complied with a removal order if the program had continued for more than eighteen months. Here is a recent Congressional Research Service report on alternatives to immigration. According to the report, during the 18 months the program was in effect, only 65 of the 952 families in the program left the program. Of those,

            – 7 were removed from the United States by ICE
            – 8 left the country on their own,
            – 9 were granted some form of immigration relief, and
            – 41 absconded

            3) When the Trump administration cut the FCMP program, they said they were doing it in favor of the Intensive Supervision Appearance Program, which is much cheaper and involves ankle bracelets and other electronic monitoring.

            Theoretically, ISAP’s lower cost could free up funds to release more people or to improve detention centers, but I haven’t seen stats on how many people have been released under either program over time.

          • albatross11 says:

            One Machiavellian but non-crazy reason to have widely-reported harsh conditions and terrible treatment of asylum seekers is to try to dissuade people from coming and applying for asylum. I assume this is at least one motivation for Trump et al.

            My best guess, though, is that Trump believes that he looks *better* to his core voters when there are lots of news stories about how harshly we’re treating illegal immigrants, asylum seekers, etc., because it proves he’s taking a hard line on immigration. This works in the same way that stories about how we’re locking criminals up in ever-harsher conditions often works to signal voters that elected officials are tough on crime. And in both cases, this can lead to incentives to be (or appear) extra harsh, not because it’s effective at meeting any actual valuable goals, but because it looks tougher for the voters.

            Media and flacks and partisans on his side and opposed to him both have an incentive to inflate the harshness of the treatment of migrants–it fires up their voters in both cases.

          • Matt M says:

            One Machiavellian but non-crazy reason to have widely-reported harsh conditions and terrible treatment of asylum seekers is to try to dissuade people from coming and applying for asylum. I assume this is at least one motivation for Trump et al.

            But the people most interested in reporting and highlighting these conditions don’t seem to be Trump and Trump allies. They seem to be the very people who hate Trump most. The people who want immigrants to come and want to encourage people to seek asylum.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            @hls2003

            I agree that if it scaled, it would probably be worth the substantial cost.

            What cost are you talking about? $36/day is almost ten times cheaper than a detention centre.

          • We can’t “guarantee” that people who receive speeding tickets show up in court either.

            Now you are being silly. The ordinary person with a speeding ticket has good reasons not to abandon his home, job, and all identifying links and plunge into the population of illegal immigrants. The would-be immigrant who is reasonably sure that his asylum application will be rejected does.

            Separating children from their parents doesn’t, I think, make much sense, but your proposal only makes sense if the objective is to make illegal immigration easy.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            I’m not sure the $36 number applies, but one of the news stories in this thread is that releasing them with GPS bracelets is an even cheaper and still has good appearance rates.

          • hls2003 says:

            I’m not sure if $36 is the right number, but assuming it is – taking it from the $17M number – then simply linearly scaling that up from 781 cases to the current backlog of over 300,000 cases would cost more than the current annual budget of ICE. Which is sort of my point about scaling.

            I’m not saying it would be costlier or cheaper than detention centers; I don’t know those numbers for comparison. If it’s effective and cheaper, I’m probably OK with it – but only if it can be feasibly done on a large scale, which can’t just be assumed about a pilot program.

      • J Mann says:

        Do you know what the policy has been in this regard?

        My understanding is that the Obama administration used to detain illegal immigrant asylum applicants pending determination, including children, but that after the Flores decision, Obama’s people believed that they were unable to hold children for “excessive” times and began a policy where they continued detaining most illegal immigrant asylees, but released parents who arrived with children after a brief period, with an order that the parents present themselves for asylum hearings.

        Did I get that mostly right? As I said elsewhere, there’s so much rhetoric, even in the standard news stories and fact check columns, that it’s hard for me to try to construct a factual account.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          The Flores Settlement was reached in 1997 and basically said we can’t hold children for very long and have to hold them in the least restrictive way appropriate. So Obama didn’t change anything “after” Flores.

          • J Mann says:

            Jaskologist clears it up down below. Reno v Flores was the original settlement, but as late as 2015, the Obama administration was taking the position that Reno v Flores only applied to unaccompanied children and did not prevent the administration from detaining accompanied children together with their parents.

            In Flores v. Lynch, the district court originally held that the Reno v Flores settlement required Obama to release accompanied children as well, and to make an individualized determination if it was feasible to release their parents. On appeal the 9th Circuit upheld as to children but reversed as to parents. The 9th Circuit Opinion lays out the history in quite a bit of detail.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          I believe this is sort of correct.

          There was a period of time where the administration was detaining some immigrant families together. Flores rendered judgement that this was illegal for minors. Thus they went back to the previous policy, which was to release with a court order. (Edit: Conrad is right that the Flores court judgement was simply confirmed to apply to actions by the administration).

          It’s my understanding that we mostly did not detain asylum seekers, even those without accompanying minors, but rather released the vast majority. We don’t have the facilities. Electronic monitoring, however, was greatly increased (and I think that started in the Bush administration, mostly do to technology availability).

          There is a secondary issue related to “kids in cages” which is when are kids detained without their parents or guardian. The Obama administration had an issue related to a large spike in unaccompanied minors from central America. Children, even very young children, were making the journey alone. That presents a host of logistical and legal problems.

          But the previous administrations didn’t separate the children from their parents as a matter of policy, which this administration has done. The only time this was done is if a father crossed with a child and was arrested on non-immigration charges (drug trafficking mostly). You aren’t releasing the drug trafficker, and you can’t detain the child with a male prison population.

          • J Mann says:

            My very imperfect understanding is that any Trump policy of separating children from their parents was fairly short-lived, and that the current controversy involves:

            a) kids who are separated from people who are not their parents (or whom border officials believe are in danger from their parents) and/or

            b) kids who are not separated from their parents but are detained with them.

          • souleater says:

            @J Mann

            That is not my (also very imperfect) understanding, I was under the impression the Trump administration continues to separate children from their parents.

            Hopefully someone can correct me if I’m mistaken.

          • J Mann says:

            @Souleater – take a look at this article.

            It sounds like the current policy (as a result of court order) is to only separate when the people with a child are not the child’s parents or when the parents are perceived to be a danger to the child. The current argument is more about whether ICE is too quick to make those determinations and that some factors, like criminal history, don’t demonstrate an actual danger.

        • Jaskologist says:

          Reno v Flores was the original settlement, Flores vs Lynch was the one during Obama’s term.

    • Matt M says:

      What would the left feel like is a satisfactory alternative to “kids in cages”?

      As far as I can tell, the only acceptable outcome is “Everyone who shows up with children is immediately released into the general American population with a note politely asking them to show up for a future hearing on their status.”

    • Zephalinda says:

      Sometimes when I’m bored I like to play a mental game I call “Outrage Journalist.” To play, pick a policy question and try to envision a solution that couldn’t be convincingly narrated as outrageously evil by a freelance journalist on a tight deadline.

      Works great for issues all across the political spectrum, but “kids in cages” is a good starter prompt. Let’s see what could be done about this:

      Detain kids along with their parents in multi-family groups? Human interest story about the outrage when this one detainee harmed this unrelated kid. Also, seeing parents cooped up is traumatizing to the kids.

      Detain in individual family groups? Isolation, loneliness, totalitarian government disrupts community solidarity.

      Detain kids in comfy facilities with toys and books? This book is ideologically unpalatable, and this toy was a choking/ BPA hazard, also, how very smug to think we’ve fixed things by giving the kids some crappy toys when their PARENTS are in CAGES.

      Release families into the general population? Look at this adorable set of toddlers that had to live in the grubby, dangerous shelter when the parents couldn’t find work– it’s disgusting that there’s not more social support for struggling families in this country.

      I’m darned if I can imagine a solution that could defeat the Outrage Journalist in this case. It’s a challenging game.

      • albatross11 says:

        Also:

        Release the family inside the US to wait for a trial: Catch and release! You’re just letting ’em into the country.

        For most real problems, there’s no way to address them that can’t be attacked by someone looking for a way to stir up outrage against the other side. Most real-world problems are hard enough to solve that the actual solutions we can come up with are messy, partial solutions with a lot of ugly bits. That almost guarantees that someone looking for a justification for outrage can find it.

        • broblawsky says:

          Untrue. As previously stated by @JonathanD, the majority of asylum seekers released from detention for later court appearance made their court date. Contrary to the conservative spin on this issue, most asylum seekers are law-abiding people.

          • albatross11 says:

            It’s worth remembering that they’re explicitly hoping to get allowed to stay in the US indefinitely, and they know that screwing up by missing their hearing date is a good way to ruin their chances. They actually have a pretty strong incentive to show up for their hearing.

          • Eponymous says:

            You’re assuming they’re making their asylum application in good faith. But this is precisely what many conservatives are disputing.

          • Matt M says:

            Right. Presumably, they have to compare two main risk factors:

            The risk that their application will get rejected.

            and

            The risk that some sort of blanket amnesty will eventually be provided.

            If they think the odds of their application being rejected are higher than the odds that they can simply evade deportation long enough to be amnestied through some means or another, failing to show up makes a lot of sense.

          • J Mann says:

            As previously stated by @JonathanD, the majority of asylum seekers released from detention for later court appearance made their court date. Contrary to the conservative spin on this issue, most asylum seekers are law-abiding people.

            1) As I posted elsewhere, it looks like “appeared in court” and “complied with removal order” are two separate things, and that compliance with removal orders is lower than appearance at the asylum hearings.

            2) On the gripping hand, it should not take years to get an asylum hearing. It’s unfair to legimate asylees to ask them to spend all that time in detention, but if you let someone work here for 1-3 years while their asylum hearing drags on, you’re encouraging economic migrants to show up and ask for asylum.

          • Clutzy says:

            Making your first, or first several court dates is not all that important, the last court date might be, but we would have to know whether if you appear at the last date and lose they get cuffed and put on a bus, or maybe they are given a ticket and told to “please leave”.

            There are really only 2 important percentages.

            % Claims of asylum denied
            % Of asylum seekers with denied claims that leave the US voluntarily

          • JonathanD says:

            So, the argument, as I understood it, was that we had to detain these people in order to get them to show up to their court dates. I think it’s clear that’s not so. If we need better policies for enforcing removal orders then sure, we can talk about that, but it still doesn’t have to do with why we *have* to keep asylum seeker in detention leading up to their court dates. And, to be honest, it looks a lot like moving the goalposts to me.

          • Theodoric says:

            @J Mann
            Maybe one solution would be for electronic monitoring while the asylum hearing is proceeding, and, if the judge decides against granting asylum, the person is immediately taken into custody. No discretion, no stay of being taken into custody (as opposed to stay of removal) pending appeal, doesn’t matter what sob story they tell.

          • Clutzy says:

            So, the argument, as I understood it, was that we had to detain these people in order to get them to show up to their court dates.

            That seems like an extreme misconception, or at least an idea of someone who doesn’t know how court systems work. Your first appearance is usually perfunctory. Its useful to have a person show up to that, but not all that much. Then there will be subsequent statuses, etc, and the potential asylee & attorneys will get a picture of the likelihood of the success of the case. As they perceive the case to be going poorly, the chance (it is argued) of the person going on the lam increases.

            And its not clear if there is a routine method of immediately deporting people whos claims are denied, or if there is not enough manpower to enforce it, so we are again relying on good faith by these applicants.

          • J Mann says:

            @Theodoric

            Maybe one solution would be for electronic monitoring while the asylum hearing is proceeding, and, if the judge decides against granting asylum, the person is immediately taken into custody. No discretion, no stay of being taken into custody (as opposed to stay of removal) pending appeal, doesn’t matter what sob story they tell.

            1) I’m not an immigration expert, but I infer that judges may not be deciding immigration hearings from the bench. It may be more like a civil hearing – you present your documentary and testimonial evidence, and the judge and her clerks think about it for a while, then you get a written order.

            2) Also, I hypothesize that “you are deported immediately if your court appearance goes badly” would lower court appearance rates among the group of people who don’t intend to comply with a removal order.

    • The left so thoroughly controls the narrative through the media I don’t know how anyone who isn’t on board for de-facto open borders can have any optimism. (To anyone who still thinks this is just a conservative conspiracy theory, even those on the left are noticing that Democrats are moving to de-facto open borders.) The President is the most important individual on border policy. Let’s look at the possibilities after 2020:

      Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris become President and stop enforcing border security.

      Biden gets elected and is cowered in to not supporting border security.

      Trump gets re-elected and the left goes even further in to open borders hysteria. The next time Democrats get the presidency, they explicitly have “open borders” on their platform.

      If Republicans want to stop illegal immigrants, they have to get the President, Congress and the lower courts to go along with them. All Democrats have to do in not stopping illegal immigration is get the Presidency. At best, those of us who don’t want open borders are stalling.

    • J Mann says:

      Does someone have a fairly neutral analysis of what our current policy even is? There’s so much rhetoric that it’s hard to find a factual explainer.

      My rough understanding is:

      1) Generally, if you are caught attempting to enter the country illegally with your child and then claim asylum status, you and the child will be detained together while your asylum application is considered.

      Question: is there a maximum time the child can be detained with the parent?

      2) If the child isn’t yours, or if you are considered to be a danger to the child, you will be separated. Critics claim that the ICE bureaucracy is too quick to separate, and that, e.g., children are separated from their grandchildren, uncles, etc., or that children are separated from their children based on factors such as drug possession or HIV status that the critics argue don’t present a danger.

      Question: I’m not sure how many of these boundary cases there are, or if some of the boundary rules have been liberalized.

      Complicating matters is that most critics don’t want incremental reform – they’re not looking for a more liberal policy that lets kids remain with their grandparents or with HIV positive parents, but want illegal immigrant asylum seekers released into the country if they arrive with children.

      Do I have that mostly right? Am I missing anything? Thanks!

      • J Mann says:

        I forgot to add

        3) My understanding is that defenders of immigration enforcement argue that (a) an unprecedented increase in the numbers of people crossing the border with children and (b) Democratic party resistance to increasing funding to improve detention conditions or asylumn determination wait times have contributed to this problem, but I’m not sure how much evidence there is for that contention.

      • Edward Scizorhands says:

        Brandon Darby (that name on Twitter) has been a critic of America’s border policy for a long time, and I’ve learned a few things wrong with both the left- and right-wing narratives reading him.

    • JonathanD says:

      What would the left feel like is a satisfactory alternative to “kids in cages”?

      What we were doing before. Which was, as I understand it, if you showed up and asked for asylum, we gave you a court date, set you at liberty, and then, when you had your day in court, you either got to stay or you didn’t.

      My preferences are: let’s do that again > keep families together in custody > what we’re doing now.

      There are all sorts of links with all sorts of stats about what rate people show for their asylum hearings. The highest I found says that 96% of families with kids make their hearings. The worst one I found says about half.

      Anyway, I’m very open to various ways to get that rate up. Maybe those ankle monitors like for parolees? Maybe a daily call or a weekly appointment with a social worker? (There was a Vox article suggesting that when people don’t show it’s mainly because the system is hard to comply with.) How about we pilot a program where social service organizations (churches, mostly, I’m thinking) can agree to take some set number of families for a third or a quarter or the daily cost of housing them in the camps, and have their program overseen by ICE. Drop below a certain level of asylum seekers making your hearing and you lose accreditation.

      • Deiseach says:

        Maybe those ankle monitors like for parolees?

        See Zephalinda’s Outrage Journalist for that one: we are treating these people as if they are CRIMINALS, when their only “crime” was to flee for their lives from a dangerous, unstable country with their INNOCENT CHILDREN to seek a safe place to live.

        Now we SHACKLE THEM LIKE ANIMALS and this means they can’t work, can’t even participate in the community, and people see the ankle monitors and assume they are VICIOUS CRIMINALS when this is patently untrue! Stop this inhumane racist torture now!

        How about we pilot a program where social service organizations (churches, mostly, I’m thinking) can agree to take some set number of families for a third or a quarter or the daily cost of housing them in the camps, and have their program overseen by ICE

        (1) Churches are not “social service organisations” or social workers or police, they’re religious bodies. Their function is the salvation of your soul, not to be deputies for ICE.

        (2) What about the separation of church and state? You’re outsourcing state responsibilities to churches, and paying them taxpayer money to do so. How can you be sure they’re being scrupulously secular and not sneaking in proselytisation with their illiberal values and beliefs to these vulnerable, dependent people? (Somebody will definitely make that argument).

        • broblawsky says:

          Please don’t put words into your opponent’s mouths: there was never any public outrage regarding electronic monitoring, either before or after the Trump administration. If you believe otherwise, please cite sources.

          • Deiseach says:

            there was never any public outrage regarding electronic monitoring

            When used for criminals. The entire point is that if used for alleged asylum seekers/undocumented immigrants (because calling them “illegal” is all kinds of bad wrong), then there will be protests about treating people “fleeing oppression” as though they are wrongdoers.

            Oh look, seems like there are a few articles here and there about precisely this: it’s mean to detainees and it’s all for the benefit of fat-cat companies which are making a fortune since Trump’s administration came to power, and it’s just like jail. Well, I guess I’m just imagining this piece, aren’t I, considering “there was never any outrage either before or after”, correct?

            This site gives a summation of the pros and cons in a neutral manner, and even they mention the stigma (which is what I said would be quoted):

            Electronic monitoring is tied to significant social stigma. Individuals wearing ankle monitors have expressed feelings of being imprisoned, and recent immigrants from Central American countries refer to the monitors as “grilletes,” which means “shackles” in Spanish. One woman describes the shame she experienced while wearing the monitor: “When you go out into the street, the whole world stops to look at your feet. . . . My son asked me why they put this on me, he said that they only do this to thieves. I explained to him that I am not a thief.”

            Show me where I’m wrong when saying using electronic monitoring would be categorised as treating people as criminals, etc.

          • dick says:

            Show me where I’m wrong when saying using electronic monitoring would be categorised as treating people as criminals, etc.

            The putting words in your opponents’ mouth part. It’s the difference between “I think it’s contradictory for pro-lifers to be against contraceptives,” and “Hurrr durrr look at me I’m a dumb Catholic and I don’t know how condoms work because my sex ed teacher was a virgin.”

        • acymetric says:

          This needed to be said.

          My hunch is that it will need to be repeated.

        • Deiseach says:

          DeWitt (and acymetric) if you are speaking to me, where did I say that the people who are going to be Professionally Outraged are anyone on here?

          I’m talking about the publicity hounds who stage photo-ops weeping and wailing in front of empty parking lots, not anyone who comments on here.

          I’m glad to know that there won’t be any kind of protests or disagreement at all about using electronic tagging for illegal immigrants, how kind of you both to reassure me that the topic is not at all radioactive in the current atmosphere, neither in the US nor in Europe or elsewhere.

          The people you rag on aren’t here, they haven’t been here for years

          And yet here you pop up, addressing me. Curious, that.

        • ECD says:

          Deiseach,

          I have to say, those links don’t appear to be showing what you say they’re showing. They’re rather focused on Canada, or questions of use of electronic monitoring as part of parole. The ones referencing immigration are focused on their use on applicants for asylum, as opposed to people crossing the border in violation of the law. The fact that we choose to underfund our asylum program to the point where we can’t review applications in a timely fashion does not actually render those applicants criminals.

          And though I don’t have to say it, I will, playing a game of ‘let me put words in my opponent’s mouth and then laugh at them’ is fun, but is one of many reasons why I rarely comment here.

          None of the above is legal advice.

        • AliceToBob says:

          @ DeWitt and acymetric

          If you believe otherwise, please cite sources.

          She did. They seem on target to me.

          You saw someone to the left of you write something dumb, threw up your hands, threw a toddler’s fit, and said ‘fine! Guess we can’t do it anyway!’

          Very, very wrong.

          I’m not familiar with one of the citations, but the other is Wired, which I think is fairly well-known. So, Deiseach was asked for sources, provided one that at least seems reasonable, and then is accused of having a toddler’s fit.

          She seems to be making three claims by my (fast) reading. I don’t know if they’re correct, but they seem like valid topics of debate. First, ankle bracelets will intensify the outrage on the left regarding the treatment of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers. Second, churches are unlikely to cooperate at the level that some other posters have suggested because the request is outside their scope, so to speak. Third, whatever aid churches are willing to provide will be subject to a messy debate about exactly what services are being provided to these illegal immigrants/asylum seekers.

          Would you shut up with talking to absolutely nobody for once? …Spare me the idiotic fucking sarcasm…You’re boneheaded enough about it even that someone to get sick of your habits must be someone with ridiculous beliefs…You do not add to the discourse, you do not present anything helpful, you yell at people you hate and yell some more when others find it distasteful. You’ve been banned for it before, I think you should be banned for it again, and why it hasn’t been reinstated yet is entirely beyond me.

          You probably don’t want to hear it, but you should go listen to some of your favorite music, or take a walk, or do anything else other than this. It’s not worth it.

        • brad says:

          So, Deiseach was asked for sources, provided one that at least seems reasonable, and then is accused of having a toddler’s fit.

          She seems to be making three claims by my (fast) reading. First, ankle bracelets will intensify the outrage on the left regarding the treatment of illegal immigrants and asylum seekers.

          See Zephalinda’s Outrage Journalist for that one: we are treating these people as if they are CRIMINALS, when their only “crime” was to flee for their lives from a dangerous, unstable country with their INNOCENT CHILDREN to seek a safe place to live.

          Now we SHACKLE THEM LIKE ANIMALS and this means they can’t work, can’t even participate in the community, and people see the ankle monitors and assume they are VICIOUS CRIMINALS when this is patently untrue! Stop this inhumane racist torture now!

          AliceToBob, your defense is disingenuously avoiding the meat of the complaint. No one is claiming a toddler fit over a simple prediction about ankle bracelets.

        • AliceToBob says:

          @ brad

          AliceToBob, your defense is disingenuously avoiding the meat of the complaint. No one is claiming a toddler fit over a simple prediction about ankle bracelets.

          Those comments reference Zephalinda’s game of Outrage Journalist, which Deiseach seems to be playing, and boils down to “this will stir more media outrage”. Maybe this truism is silly, but not offensive. She then presents issues to discuss.

          Dewitt and others may dislike her characterization of the media, but the link to a WIRED article does seem on target. The title “Ankle Monitors aren’t Humane. They’re Another Kind of Jail” discusses (among other things) the use of ankle monitors on immigrants and how that is equivalent to literal incarceration.

          Being “disingenuous”, further debate with me may be fruitless. Mainly, I’m aiming to push back on the idea that Deiseach deserves a ban for her comments. I don’t think Dewitt’s level of outrage should be mistaken for justification.

      • Aapje says:

        My preferences are: let’s do that again > keep families together in custody > what we’re doing now.

        The issue is that the courts said that the intermediate option was not allowed, forcing politicians to pick an extreme option.

        Mumble, mumble, activist courts.

    • Well... says:

      Hah, you basically rewrote my blog post.

    • Mark V Anderson says:

      In general, SSC is a good place for rational discussion of hot political topics that go toxic almost immediately in other forums. Unfortunately, US borders controls is an exception to that rule. Looking at the discussion here, it is composed of about 90% heat and 10% light (which is probably 10% more light than other forums, but still). I would say we should avoid this topic for awhile (maybe until Trump is gone), and stop wasting everyone’s time.

      • LesHapablap says:

        90%? not great, not terrible

        • Paul Zrimsek says:

          You didn’t see mindkilled hyperpartisan talking points. You DIDN’T! Because they’re NOT THERE!

      • brad says:

        In general, SSC is a good place for rational discussion of hot political topics that go toxic almost immediately in other forums. Unfortunately, US borders controls is an exception to that rule.

        I’m not sure I agree, but taking this as true do you have any theories as to why?

        Is it because it is one the rare policy issue where a non-trivial percentage of libertarians will vocally disagree with their conservative allies? If so, would we expect a similarly poor light to heat ratio on tariffs?

        • LadyJane says:

          Is it because it is one the rare policy issue where a non-trivial percentage of libertarians will vocally disagree with their conservative allies?

          I think that’s a big part of it. I frequent a lot of libertarian groups, and immigration has driven an enormous wedge between libertarians and conservatives. A lot of libertarians were inclined to side with conservatives during the Obama years, but that alliance rapidly began falling apart as soon as Trump came into office, and the immigration debate was the cinder block that broke the camel’s back.

          Of course, the libertarian-conservative alliance itself was largely a response to Obama. During the Bush years, libertarians were much more likely to align themselves with left-liberals, so in some ways, this is really just a return to the old status quo. In general, libertarians may simply be inclined to more strongly oppose whichever side currently holds Executive power.

          If so, would we expect a similarly poor light to heat ratio on tariffs?

          That’s another point of disagreement between libertarians and conservatives, but it’s also a very dry and technical issue that doesn’t really lend itself to impassioned emotional arguments. Whereas with immigration, it’s a lot easier for people on both sides to get heated over it.

          • Clutzy says:

            I think immigration has become such a hotbutton issue in libertarian spaces because most of the “contributors” have become stridently open borders, when I think most the readership has always been “Milton Friedman-ish” on immigration, aka, it doesn’t work with a welfare state, so that has to be eliminated first. But then with Trump being who he is, the contributors publicly shifted and were much more aggressive about it.

          • LadyJane says:

            I think most the readership has always been “Milton Friedman-ish” on immigration, aka, it doesn’t work with a welfare state, so that has to be eliminated first.

            That’s a misrepresentation of Friedman’s position. Yes, he said that open borders were incompatible with a welfare state, but he meant that as an argument against expanding the welfare state, not as an argument against open borders. People misinterpet his statement as meaning “until welfare is gone, we need to have closed borders,” but he didn’t mean anything of the sort. He actually thought illegal immigration was a good thing, largely because illegal immigrants don’t receive as many welfare benefits as citizens.

            https://theweek.com/articles/785238/weaponization-milton-friedman

            [Friedman] was always clearly in favor of immigration. In a 1984 survey of America’s top 75 economists on immigration, Friedman reportedly unambiguously stated: “Legal and illegal immigration has a very positive impact on the U.S. economy.”

            […]

            But then he went on to say: “It is one thing to have free immigration to jobs, it is another thing to have free immigration to welfare. … [I]f you come under circumstances where each person is entitled to a prorated share of a pot … then the effect of that situation is that free immigration would mean a reduction for everybody.”

            Now, if he had stopped at that, it would have been one thing. But he did not. He went on to declare that despite the welfare state, Mexican immigration was a “good thing” for America, particularly when it was of the illegal variety. Why? “Because as long as it’s illegal the people who come in do not qualify for welfare, they don’t qualify for Social Security, they don’t qualify for all the other myriads of benefits,” he pointed out. “They take jobs that most residents of this country are unwilling to take, they provide employers with workers of a kind they cannot get.”

            In other words, as far as Friedman was concerned, free illegal immigration was perfectly compatible with the welfare state and slamming the door on it would be utter stupidity.

          • brad says:

            An interesting part of this to me is that not only are there starting to be some cracks in the lib-con alliance, though not as many as a liberal might hope, a significant fraction of long self identified libertarians are not siding with the libertarians.

          • Clutzy says:

            LadyJane, while that is true about Friedman himself, the “order of operations” libertarian has always, IMO, been a significant faction in the movement, and even if they mis-cite Milton Friedman, the sentiment is what is expressed. The libertarian forums, comments, etc have had this as a plurality/majority position way predating Trump, with open borders being seen as a pie in the sky goal for a future, “libertopia”.

            An interesting part of this to me is that not only are there starting to be some cracks in the lib-con alliance, though not as many as a liberal might hope, a significant fraction of long self identified libertarians are not siding with the libertarians.

            I think its just opened a new schism, of which there always have been many in the movement (abortion remains a common one). There appear to be a lot of people who are “professional libertarians” that have open borders as a #1 priority, and that, I think, has traditionally been pretty low on the order for most of the readers/voters/etc.

          • LadyJane says:

            @brad: I feel like it’s less about people changing their views and more about people changing their alliances.

            Broadly speaking, you can divide capitalist libertarians into four categories: hardline libertarians (the staunch minarchists and ancaps, moral deontologists, “the NAP is the only thing that matters” types, etc.), mainstream libertarians (Bill Weld types, “socially liberal but fiscally conservative”), conservative-leaning libertarians (Rand Paul types, either socially conservative themselves or unconcerned with social issues, but still anti-establishment), and liberal-leaning libertarians (Mike Gravel types, very liberal on social issues, either moderate on fiscal policy or just more concerned about civil and cultural issues).

            The hardline libertarians are generally unwilling to compromise or make alliances with anyone; the conservatarians almost always ally themselves with the political right; the liberal-tarians almost always ally themselves with the political left. It’s the mainstream libertarians who tend to be the “swing voters” in the liberty movement; during the Bush years, they allied themselves primarily with the liberal-tarians and with left-wingers, but during the Obama years, they allied themselves primarily with the conservatarians and with right-wingers. What we’re seeing now is a shift back to the Bush-era coalitions.

            The disputes over immigration and tariffs are largely responsible for this re-alignment, as is the fact that conservative Republicans are the group currently in power (and thus the “outgroup” to a lot of libertarians). It also doesn’t help that social conservatives are increasingly abandoning fiscal conservatism (for instance, Tucker Carlson outright condemning capitalism), and “socially conservative, fiscally liberal” types are becoming increasingly prominent among the American right (a lot of the Rust Belt Democrat voters who switched over to Trump fall into that category).

            @Clutzy: Yes, the “order of operations” libertarians are among the conservative-leaning libertarians I mentioned. I’m doubtful that they actually comprise a majority of libertarians, but they’re certainly a vocal minority, and their conflict with mainstream and liberal-leaning libertarians is largely responsible for the libertarian civil war we’re seeing. For instance, Reason.com is largely run by mainstream libertarians, and lately they’ve been making an effort to appeal to the liberal-tarian crowd, but their comments section is almost entirely filled with conservatarians, which is why the commentariat is becoming increasingly hostile toward the staff.

          • brad says:

            In my observation starting at some point in the Bush administration there were increasing numbers of people that called themselves libertarians on the back of liking guns and hating taxes and little more. For a while this was a win-win, the libertarians had always wanted to break out of the low single digits and the new folk liked the intellectual veneer that calling themselves libertarian gave to their basically bog standard secular Republican positions. The old guard obliged the new members by not spending as much time talking about legalizing drugs and prostitution and the new members obliged the old guard by talking vaguely about free trade before going back to guns and taxes.

            The problem is that when Trump became the nominee this suddenly became untenable. It turns out a lot of the bog standard secular Republicans didn’t care that much about libertarian principles after all. They certainly weren’t going to take never-Trump social exile over them. Especially because Trump is fine on guns and taxes.

            The gratifying part to me is that the real libertarians aren’t all pathetically chasing after the leavers.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Can someone point me to some evidence that libertarians are departing their alliance with Republicans over Trump?

            I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are plenty of individual examples, but is there evidence at some sort of larger level?

          • Clutzy says:

            @ladyjane

            es, the “order of operations” libertarians are among the conservative-leaning libertarians I mentioned. I’m doubtful that they actually comprise a majority of libertarians, but they’re certainly a vocal minority, and their conflict with mainstream and liberal-leaning libertarians is largely responsible for the libertarian civil war we’re seeing. For instance, Reason.com is largely run by mainstream libertarians, and lately they’ve been making an effort to appeal to the liberal-tarian crowd, but their comments section is almost entirely filled with conservatarians, which is why the commentariat is becoming increasingly hostile toward the staff.

            I think your evaluation of the evolution is mostly correct, aside from your evaluation of “order of operations”. I’ve been fairly involved since 2004, and my values predate that by several years, it just took time for them to be expressed politically. Very few people actually have open borders as a priority. Not just libertarians, but from what I’ve seen, all movements. The only people who rank immigration as a high priority (historically) have been anti-immigration advocates and a minority of 1st geners.

            Immigration has, generally, been a policy where most people thought “everything is fine”, because its one of those things that (again generally) happens super slowly, thus most people rank it super low on priority lists.

            The only times immigration rises to a top concern is when it disturbs enough people for there to be an anti-immigration movement. This happened in California with Wilson, and probably will happen in America with Trump. Without a backlash (as has happened often), political change by immigration is mostly invisible to the average voter (but much more visible than the “southern strategy”).

          • albatross11 says:

            One individual example is Justin Amash, but I don’t know of statistics either way.

        • 10240 says:

          I’m not sure I agree, but taking this as true do you have any theories as to why?

          My theory: because it has a moderation policy with little restriction on ideas/viewpoints, but an expectation of civility and rational discussion. On the latter count, I’d say it’s relatively strict: while Scott doesn’t look at all comments or even necessarily at all reports (?), when he does, he bans people, rather than delete the offending comment.

          Is it because it is one the rare policy issue where a non-trivial percentage of libertarians will vocally disagree with their conservative allies? If so, would we expect a similarly poor light to heat ratio on tariffs?

          I’ve only seen Conrad Honcho clearly endorse tariffs on SSC. And I only know David Friedman to consider himself a libertarian and clearly oppose border controls; there may be others, though.

        • Mark V Anderson says:

          Is it because it is one the rare policy issue where a non-trivial percentage of libertarians will vocally disagree with their conservative allies?

          Not at all. I see on here two main sides: 1) the folks that allign pretty closely with the Dems, in thinking that Trump has been pretty terrible in this area and that we treat illegal immigrants in immoral ways, and 2) those who believe that the US isn’t even trying to keep illegals out, and this is causing lots of problems in this country and that enforcement was just as bad before Trump was around.

          I get very frustrated with the discussion because it the facts are so much in dispute. I haven’t decided myself how I feel on these issues because it is unclear to me how much behavior of Border Control has changed since Trump (has it changed at all?), are there more illegals trying to get across in the last couple of years, what are current policies, and what were Obama’s policies?

          And getting the facts is greatly complicated by the two sides being so far apart. Should we have more legal immigrants? Should the immigrant’s country of origin or ethnicity or education matter on who we let in? How well are we morally obligated to treat illegals who aren’t allowed here but come anyway? What is the moral responsibility of the US for kids brought here by illegals? These aren’t my questions, they are questions where the answer is all over the place by the various commenters on SSC.

          Maybe one reason SSC works is because most of us aren’t that far apart on various issues. Maybe in the wide world we might seem far apart as opposite sides of the Red/Blue divide, but most issues come down to just one thing the two sides disagree on. Here there are a multitude of differences.

      • actualitems says:

        Oh, man, I hope avoiding this topic here doesn’t become the consensus.

        I have trouble understanding the facts of the immigration situation (and how I feel about it) in the US, and I always look forward to discussions on topic here, as it always leads me in other places to research.

        I mean, I (sort of) know my stance, I’m (sort of) OK with open borders. But I’m a (based on a different sub-thread in this Open Thread) Blue Tribe Republican. But I want to get an fair understanding of those who would prefer to restrict immigration and how they would prefer to enforce those restrictions. And I don’t think I can get a fair understanding of those opinions in the media.

        So, sure, if discussions here are 90% heat, 10% light, that’s probably the best on the internet, right? And that’s valuable, right? And not having them here might mean they don’t happen anywhere…

        • brad says:

          I have trouble understanding the facts of the immigration situation

          I don’t find commenters here, or anywhere, to be at all knowledgeable about the immigration situation. I’m not an expert but I did work in the area and have family that still works in the area, so I know enough to notice flagrantly ignorant statements. And boy are there lots of them on all sides.

          In one sense that’s fine, it’s a complicated area and it isn’t most people’s job. But on the other hand how do so many people have such strong opinions on things they know so little about?!? You won’t ever see my going on long impassioned rants about global warming because I know fuck-all about climate science.

          I don’t want to overstate the point, if you are in favor of open borders or closed borders then there isn’t any need to understand all the nuances of the status quo. But if you want to tweak the status quo then it is absolutely required.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            I’m not an expert but I did work in the area and have family that still works in the area, so I know enough to notice flagrantly ignorant statements.

            By all means, if you know stuff about this, please let us know. The biggest problem in this discussion is lack of facts. Of course in setting us straight, please do included how you know what you know. Folks are very skeptical about “facts” that seem to be all in favor of one ideological side or the other, and rightly so.

    • brad says:

      I find the whole “kids in cages” meme a little irritating.

      That must be tough. I’m sorry.

      If people come here illegally, we need to detain them while we sort out their asylum request

      If they have an asylum request in many cases they have not “come here illegally”. The law contemplates a would be asylee presenting himself at the border. Are you limiting your discussion to only those that entered without inspection and asked for asylum once apprehended?

      If people come with children, we still need to detain the adults, while keeping the children separate from the adult population, safe, and unable to slip away into the general society (not a problem for 4 year olds, but I imagine it is a concern for a 17 year old)

      Is the issue just that cages are what we use for animals? If the children were stored in a “kid friendly room with toys and books etc.” would that solve the issue? That’s just a funding question, and I think most republicans would be happy to agree to more funding to improve conditions.

      What would the left feel like is a satisfactory alternative to “kids in cages”?

      What do we do with children whose custodial parent or parents are jailed for ordinary crimes? Why can’t we do the same thing here?

      • SamChevre says:

        What do we do with children whose custodial parent or parents are jailed for ordinary crimes?
        That’s a brutal mess.

        I have friends who do emergency foster care, which tends to be exactly this kind of situation–taking care of children whose (horribly dysfunctional) single mom got arrested for {child endangerment, drug distribution, prostitution}. It’s really hard-emotionally wearing for the foster parents, terrifying for the children, and not nearly enough homes for the number of children who need placement.

        The more I read, the more convinced I am that getting rid of Flores so families whose only crime is immigration-related can be detained together is desparately important.

        • LesHapablap says:

          I saw it written upthread that most people agree that the children need to be separated from the parents in these immigration cases. What’s the rationale behind that? Why can’t they keep the families together?

          • brad says:

            Well we could:

            1) not hold the relevant people in any kind of custody (“catch and release”)

            2) hold families together in custody

            3) separate children from parents

            Both 2&3 are considered inhumane by various large groups of people and 1 is considered ineffectual in terms of reducing the net inflow of unauthorized residents by a partially non-overlapping large group of people.

            Do you have some other idea?

          • acymetric says:

            Option two is at least marginally humane (and the bare minimum).

            The primary argument against it is that we have to protect the children and can’t put them in rooms with all the other random people, implying that we’d be putting the family with kids essentially in gen pop (which I don’t think anyone is suggesting) as opposed to holding families together (separate from other prisoners detainees asylum seekers). The only argument against this appears to be $$$ which would seem to be the problem of the people who insist on holding people this way, which is what everyone who has a damn problem with it is trying to say.

          • LesHapablap says:

            I’m not trying to be coy here, I really don’t know why they would separate the children from the families. The post you quoted earlier:

            If people come with children, we still need to detain the adults, while keeping the children separate from the adult population, safe, and unable to slip away into the general society (not a problem for 4 year olds, but I imagine it is a concern for a 17 year old)

            Why is it important to keep the adults separate from the kids? Wouldn’t it be way easier to keep the families together?

          • acymetric says:

            @LesHapablap

            They’re assuming that “keeping the families together” means keeping 5 families and 30 other random (possibly dangerous) people in a room together with no vetting.

            Obviously this is not what people who argue for “keeping families together” are asking for (which makes it sound awfully close to a strawman). Those people are asking that families be kept together (but separate from other families and people).

            Of course, the people who support mass detention of immigrants/asylum seekers would never support spending the money to support this barely humane approach.

          • LesHapablap says:

            I obviously don’t know the logistics of how they are doing it now and what kind of shelters they are using, etc. But it really doesn’t seem to be that it would be more expensive to put the all the families together and leave the random adults somewhere else. They are already storing the kids some place separate, why not just put the parents with them? Seems a lot cheaper to let the parents take care of the kids instead of having to deal with them directly.

            Even your strawman of 5 families and 30 random adults all in dorm seems a hell of a lot safer and more humane than taking the kids away and storing them some place else. This isn’t a prison with hardened criminals so I doubt the 30 randoms are all going to be all that dangerous, and I’m sure the families are used to protecting their kids on the somewhat dangerous trek they took to the US anyway. If there’s a problem with one of the random adults being violent, can’t they just deport them?

            And how safe would you feel as an 8 year old kid, separated from your parents and surrounded by a bunch of random kids of all ages? Kids are pretty dangerous to each other especially without much supervision.

          • quanta413 says:

            Like LesHapablap, I also don’t see why there’s a terrible danger to holding families together in general detention. If someone is caught illegally crossing the border by the border control but has no other violations, they shouldn’t be placed in a prison that’s also for people convicted of some other crime. Why would people detained for fence hopping be any more violent on average than the average of the country they are from? Especially if you’re detaining families in one group and single adults in another.

            There are dangerous adults in any population anywhere, but they’re a very small minority outside of a jail or prison. Most children have lots of contact with unrelated adults with no kids of their own; I don’t think all school teachers have kids or are specially trained to not stab other people’s children or something. Parents or family in detention with kids have less to do than most adults, so it’s not like there is any issue with supervision either.

            @Brad
            I think foster care (what we do for kids whose parents are citizens in jail) might be riskier than leaving kids with parents in a general population of people apprehended illegally crossing the border.

          • brad says:

            I guess then we are back to the question of “cages”. If it is really the case that “most republicans would be happy to agree to more funding to improve conditions” some sort of high end refugee camp is probably the least bad solution here. Along with faster processing of claims.

          • John Schilling says:

            I saw it written upthread that most people agree that the children need to be separated from the parents in these immigration cases. What’s the rationale behind that? Why can’t they keep the families together?

            Some subset of the adults need to be kept in “cages” because they will otherwise predictably disappear into the nearest barrio as soon as nobody is looking and they are the type of people we don’t want running loose in our barrios. Some of these adults come with children. Now what?

            If the adults are in cages, and you don’t separate the adults from the children, then “kids in cages!” and you’re Literally Worse than Hitler. If you don’t put the kids in the cages with their parents, you have separated them from their parents and you’re Literally Worse than Hitler. Now what?

            And if cases like this were 0.01% of the total, that’s still a hundred teary-eyed telegenic moppets either locked in cages or being torn from their parents’ arms every year, right there on CNN and your Facebook feed.

            Maybe as a pragmatic measure we have most of the other 99.99% of adults living under something like house arrest at a Motel 6 in the middle of nowhere, with their families. That would be my preferred solution. OK, but the kids can’t just decamp from that Motel 6 and wander alone about the country, so they are “being detained”. Refer, technically correctly, to tens of thousands of “detained” kids, and repeatedly show pictures of the same hundred in the literal cages, and oops, Literally Worse Than Hitler.

            Or maybe sometimes the parents have to be locked up but there’s an uncle or a cousin who can take the kids – also a good solution. Now it’s technically correct to refer to tens of thousands of children “separated from their parents”, and show pictures of the hundred who were literally pried screaming from parents arms and turned over to dour bureaucrats because there wasn’t a handy uncle, and you’re Worse Than Hitler again.

            There are good 99+% solutions available, but that won’t matter as long as ugly pictures of the <1% make for good politics. And it's particularly ugly when both sides think those pictures make for good politics. Obama at least didn’t think it was a good idea to brag about the literally caged kids pour encourager les autres, and the media let him keep that part quiet. Trump and the media feeding off each other over this, makes it much harder to implement the 99%-good solutions.

          • @John

            That’s why we shouldn’t even bother keeping the families in the US. We should just kick them out and tell them that we’ll consider their asylum application then. At the end of the day, no foreigners has the right to be in the US and if they are going to abuse our system and get the media to post manipulative pictures to go along with them, then they don’t get the privilege of waiting in the US while we process their claims. The whole asylum thing has gone far beyond the scope of what it was originally about anyways. There’s no Holocaust in Honduras.

          • John Schilling says:

            At the end of the day, no foreigners has the right to be in the US

            According to both US and international treaties signed and ratified by the US, refugees with legitimate asylum claims do in fact have the right to be in the US, and in particular to not be sent back to the place from which they are fleeing oppression, which means that anyone making a vaguely-plausible asylum claim has the right to be in the US until we can apply due process of law. You may believe foreigners shouldn’t have that right, but at least a hundred million Americans would probably disagree with you on that and they’ve got the law solidly on your side. Do you have any solutions that are consistent with this reality?

            There’s no Holocaust in Honduras.

            There are actual death squads in Nicaragua. And when someone gets a picture of one of them grabbing a family of asylum seekers right as they debark the plane from San Diego, that puts you solidly in “Worse Than Hitler” territory.

          • LesHapablap says:

            John,

            Not locking people up at all seems like it would effectively be open borders, right? And a large majority of the US population is against open borders, so I’m skeptical that locking up families together would be politically impossible. Most of the complaints I have seen are about how inhumane it is that children are separated from their parents.

            I think it would be a good move politically actually: to the moderates, Trump gets to look briefly humane without opening up the borders. If the fraction of open-borders people still protest about it, they will further alienate centrist democrats. Trump supporters gonna support Trump anyway.

            Or, since it would politically be a good move for Trump, would that make itself make it politically impossible? Or is that being too cynical?

          • John Schilling says:

            If you lock up families together, then you literally have kids in cages. You’ve noticed that the phrase “kids in cages” has enormous political valence in the United States, right? And it’s just “kids in cages” that does this, it isn’t necessary to add “…without their families” to get the Worse Than Hitler effect. If you take kids, and you put them in cages, then you will be denounced as Worse Than Hitler, period.

            If you take kids, away from their parents, you will also be denounced as Worse Than Hitler. By the same people, even though your reason for taking kids away from their parents was to avoid putting them in the cages their parents are in. There’s no nuance to “Worse Than Hitler”, no “locking up children is evil unless you’re doing it to keep families together because separating them would be the greater evil.

            Not locking people up at all seems like it would effectively be open borders, right?

            That is correct, and what an interesting coincidence it is that all the alternatives to open borders make one Worse Than Hitler. And all of the alternatives to open borders do involve unpleasant things, including at least one of “kids in cages” or “kids taken from their parents” that sure look like Hitlerian evil if someone reduces it to a single sentence and deploys a weaponized photo of a suffering telegenic child to short-circuit any further thought.

          • Let’s not kid ourselves here. Nicaraguan are not going directly to America. They are passing three countries and hundreds of miles. South Mexico is very safe and these people go to America for economic reasons. Isn’t the asylum rules supposed to be the first safe country is obligated to take them? Either way I don’t really care about international treaties and since anyone on the right is already being called Hitler, I don’t care about that either.

            I don’t know what to do politically when millions of Americans think foreigners are more important than Americans, and those people have a stranglehold on the media and the judges who overrule Trump. Maybe we can do what Australia does and stick them on an island somewhere. It seems to work for them.

          • brad says:

            Let’s not kid ourselves here. Nicaraguan are not going to America. They are passing three countries and hundreds of miles. South Mexico is very safe and these people go to America for economic reasons. Isn’t the asylum rules supposed to be the first safe country is obligated to take them?

            Yup.

            Either way I don’t really care about international treaties and since anyone in the right is already being called Hitler, I don’t care about that either.

            Okaay.

            I don’t know what to do politically when millions of Americans think foreigners are more important than Americans, and those people have a stranglehold on the media and the judges who overrule Trump. Maybe we can do what Australia does and stick them on an island somewhere. It seems to work for them.

            What makes you think that millions of Americans think foreigners are more important than Americans? Much less that “they” have a stranglehold on the media and the judges that overrule Trump (but presumably not on the ones that don’t overrule Trump?)

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @John Schilling:

            they are the type of people we don’t want running loose in our barrios.

            I think you’ve hidden the meat of the disagreement here.

            Given that it is not illegal to apply for asylum, merely showing up and applying doesn’t make them “they type of people you don’t want loose” (in my opinion). Arresting someone with a legitimate charge of drug trafficking merits locking up, but even there I believe the only separation occurring prior to Trump was of fathers from their children, not mothers. But I don’t believe you get much pushback on that.

            After that, it’s a question of how do you deal humanely and fairly and effectively with a refugee flow.

          • Doctor Mist says:

            Given that it is not illegal to apply for asylum, merely showing up and applying doesn’t make them “they type of people you don’t want loose” (in my opinion).

            My understanding is that “showing up and applying” is not a good description of the majority of cases currently, but rather “crossing the border surreptitiously and applying for asylum when caught”. This would make it a lot harder to distinguish them from the small subset of undesirables that John refers to.

            But I might be mistaken about that, and would welcome data.

          • quanta413 says:

            I guess then we are back to the question of “cages”. If it is really the case that “most republicans would be happy to agree to more funding to improve conditions” some sort of high end refugee camp is probably the least bad solution here. Along with faster processing of claims.

            I don’t know exactly how much space and stuff provided is ideal, but I don’t see why not to spend at least as much as would be spent to hold a U.S. citizen in prison but spending some of the money that would normally be required for security/riot control/whatever to making the detention facility less unpleasant. Since the security should be cheaper for people whose crime is limited to trying to sneak across a border.

            Is there any reason claims have to be processed in a fully individualized manner? I bet the U.S. often can’t tell if someone without or with few documents is telling the truth or not, but it knows if that country shares a border and usually knows if there is mass persecution going on in a country. I’d think in some ways a quota by country or by something like “persecuted or endangered group membership” (Yazidi in Iraq, pretty much anyone from Syria at the moment, atheist from Bangladesh, almost anyone from Venezuela or North Korea at this point, etc.) would be more fair than trying to randomly guess whether or not someone is telling the truth or not through a translator. If a country or part of it collapses so badly its entire populace is plausibly refugee and won’t be accepted (say Britain is sinking under the waves as Atlantis rises again), a lottery in some ways seems superior to trying to guess who is more qualified to be accepted.

          • Edward Scizorhands says:

            The problem with applying for asylum while staying in my home country is it makes my asylum claim look weak.

            Let us say I am a Latin American living in conditions that genuinely warrant me fleeing to the US under asylum status. My neighbor, too. But I am a giving person, and I do not want to put the United States, the land I wish to become my home, to have to pay to house me, so I stick it out for 18 months. My neighbor just goes straight for the border and waits in detention.

            Our asylum cases come up. My neighbor says “I have been living in a detention center because my home country is so bad!” He gets in. My asylum hearing comes up. Judge says “if your home country is so bad, how come you could live there for 18 months?”

            Please note that I’m not saying this is what would happen. But it is exactly what I would game-theory in my head. I’m a giving person, not naive, and I’ve dealt with horrible bureaucracies all my life. Taking one for the team is often not rewarded; instead, it signals that you should keep on taking on for the team.

            As for improving the situation, a lot of it is Copenhagen ethics. Any civil servant that gets involved and improves the situation for everyone will be blamed for all the evils that remain in the system. This is not how you get good people to work for you. I think we should “spend [more money to make] the detention facility less unpleasant” even if it means raising my taxes, but look at what happened to the company trying to supply beds. Their product was making people better, but because Copenhagen ethics, they were monsters.

          • Clutzy says:

            @ Edward Scizorhands

            I think that idea is somewhat true, but it depends from claim to claim.

            There are a lot of possible asylum claims that one would say the US should set up a tent encampment in New Mexico and house these people fleeing ethnic cleansing or the like. But also those claims aren’t very hard to process, at least regarding the credible threat determination.

            The problem with the modern claims is the credible threat determination is not very easy, because the “threat” is hard to distinguish from generalized crime and violence. And I think if a uniform standard was implemented, most seem to be all pretty easy to deny. The issue is, I think, these asylees are hoping for a bit of a lottery ticket. Every judge is different so if the “standard” is a threat level of 9, a decent amount of 7s and 8s will still get admitted, and some 10s will get denied (but they will probably appeal and win, whereas the government is unlikely to appeal except in egregious cases).

            And, in reality, the system is kinda unfair in all sorts of ways because we aren’t admitting all the Uyghurs, when they certainly have better claims than most if not all the South American applicants.

          • brad says:

            I argue elsewhere in this thread that asylees are in some sense “cutting the line” in front of refugees which I take to by the gist of several of the proceeding comments. If we are going to take so many humanitarian admissions in a year, I’d rather they went the worst off than those with the resources and geographic advantages to enter the US or present themselves at the border.

            Not sure exactly how you go about implementing a repeal of asylum though. You need to do something with people physically present in the US. The seen and unseen is a tough sell when some of the people you’ve sent back end up murdered, even if they aren’t being murdered on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.

  14. EchoChaos says:

    So I’ve definitely been more culture-warry than I want in this thread, so here is a more fun subthread.

    I picked up Slay the Spire recently, and it’s a fun way to spend half an hour to an hour per run. It’s a deck-building roguelike, which turns out to work a lot better as a concept than I expected.

    What recent game acquisitions have you guys enjoyed?

    • Enkidum says:

      Ditto. Thanks for the alternative.

      I have a bit of a problem with buying bundles, full of one or two games I would love to play if I had the time, and four or five other games. And of the games I love to play I probably end up playing about 10% of them, because I don’t have the time. This, uh, may have led to me owning over 1,000 Steam games. Of which I’ve probably played about 100 at all, and about 40 or 50 for more than an hour.

      That being said, my current jam is Metal Gear Solid V, which was the main game in one of the recent Humble Monthly Bundles (highly recommended, if you haven’t subscribed). I’ve never played any of the series before, but I’ve read a bunch about it, and it’s pretty much as expected. Ridiculous cutscenes (the opening sequence has you crawling through a hospital following a man wearing a surgical gown, so a lot of ass, and at the end a flaming sperm whale eats a helicopter), lots of sneaking around Afghanistan kidnapping Russian soldiers by balloon, pretty scenery. It’s… odd. But a lot of fun. I’m terrible at it, haven’t gotten above a C rating on a mission since the opening one.

      I just bought Prey (the new one) yesterday, since it is 80% off. Never played it or any of its predecessors, but given what I’ve read about it, I know it’s up my alley. I will never have time to play it, though. Sigh…

      • EchoChaos says:

        This, uh, may have led to me owning over 1,000 Steam games. Of which I’ve probably played about 100 at all, and about 40 or 50 for more than an hour.

        It me!

        My biggest gaming time sink, according to Steam, is EU4, which means that my thousand games really never get played.

        That being said, my current jam is Metal Gear Solid V, which was the main game in one of the recent Humble Monthly Bundles (highly recommended, if you haven’t subscribed).

        I played a lot of MGS IV, but it really wasn’t ever my style of game.

        • Enkidum says:

          Apparently V is quite different in many ways from its predecessors (much more open world-y, in particular). But it’s a very different style from anything I’m used to, other than I guess Deus Ex (only played HR, and I played as a sneaky fucker, so much the same).

          I played almost 100 hours of Crusader Kings II about five years ago, and realized I just had to stop. I own EU4 (one of those bundles) but haven’t opened it yet – am somewhat terrified to do so.

        • JPNunez says:

          MGSV is a great but incomplete game.

          You can sink many hours wandering around the two maps, doing random missions, improving your base, etc. But the plot kind of ends midways and then rushes to a lame conclusion.

          Probably the best gameplay in a Metal Gear game so far. Far above 4 and that was a great improvement over the PS1/2 games already.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            But the plot of MGSV is horrible. Why would you want even more of it?

            I love that game and I still play it, but sitting in a jeep awkwardly staring at Skull Face while he picks his nose to the tune of ‘Sins of the Fathers’ was teeth-grindingly frustrating. Honestly I would rather just pick up a cassette tape of his stupid monologue so that I can have it on in the background while shooting my rocket-propelled prosthetic arm at bears.

          • JPNunez says:

            The game shows Big Boss preparing to go to the fight with Solid Snake. Give me that fight! Make it unwinnable if you must.

            There’s also the part where the final mission is exactly the same as the starting mission which is baffling.

            Dunno, it’s bad but could have been better.

          • Nabil ad Dajjal says:

            This is pure speculation, but I think that if Kojima hadn’t been let go the next Metal Gear game would be a remake of the original 1987 Metal Gear. Having that fight in MGSV would kill that possibility stone dead.

            It seems plausible because he’s already essentially remade the first game three or four times. Metal Gear 2, Metal Gear Solid and it’s remake Twin Snakes, and Metal Gear Solid 2 all follow the same formula (while MGS2 was more self-aware about it, it still counts).

            Plus, from a story perspective, the events of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 are weird because they’re essential to understanding the story of the games but almost nobody has played them. Just think of all the crap that happens during these games that we only ever hear about secondhand in any of the non-MSX games: Venom Snake dies; Big Boss is put into a coma for fifteen years; Grey Fox meets, betrays, and is killed by Solid Snake; Solid Snake joins and then quits FOXHOUND. Plus a ton of things that never happened in those games but were clumsily retconned in later, like Solid Snake learning that Big Boss was his father.

            Making a new game where you play as Solid Snake and/or Venom Snake & Big Boss during the Outer Heaven and Zanzibar Land incidents would have tied up all the loose ends with the plot and put a capstone on the series.

      • Atlas says:

        I have a bit of a problem with buying bundles, full of one or two games I would love to play if I had the time, and four or five other games. And of the games I love to play I probably end up playing about 10% of them, because I don’t have the time. This, uh, may have led to me owning over 1,000 Steam games. Of which I’ve probably played about 100 at all, and about 40 or 50 for more than an hour.

        Same (to a somewhat lesser extent) here, but I see this as a feature rather than a bug. Given how cheap Steam games on sale are and how long it takes to exhaust all the content/fun in a video game, I assume that I’ll never get around to playing many, maybe most, of the games I purchase. But the ones I do get around to playing are so much fun that I don’t regret “casting a wide net,” if that makes sense.

        • Enkidum says:

          Yup. I’m interested in games from a somewhat academic perspective just as much as I’m interested in playing them, and I’m also a collector by nature, so I don’t mind the fact that I blow a couple of hundred bucks a year on getting another 100 or so of them, especially if it means I have access to all-time classics.

      • souleater says:

        If you liked MGSV maybe check out Ghost Recon: Wildlands I like Wildlands gameplay a bit better personally.

    • Randy M says:

      I just got Dragon Quest Builders II to play with my kids on the strength of the demos & reviews. Slay the Spire is on my wish list, though.

      We talked about MtG Arena the other day; I’m playing that a bit too. I had a match the other day where the ending life totals were 100-0, thanks to wildgrowth walker and Bolas Citadel. That’s a fun one.

      • Enkidum says:

        How old are your kids? I play a lot of local multiplayer with mine (teens) and we’re into Crawl, Rayman Legends (or Origins, both are spectacular), Towerfall: Ascension, Ultimate Chicken Horse, and a few others. Crawl has one of the neatest forms of asymmetric gameplay I’ve ever seen.

        • Nick says:

          I used to play Rayman 2 back on the Dreamcast when I was really little. What a great game.

          • Enkidum says:

            Legends and Origins are just delightful. To give my favourite example, in Legends there are a lot of levels that are essentially rhythm games, where you have to time your moves to the beats of the music, and one of these includes a mariachi version of Eye of the Tiger with an extended kazoo solo. It’s just so wonderfully weird and silly and you play the whole time with a stupid grin on your face. A youngish kid could, with assistance, get through most of the levels, but to get anywhere close to 100% you need serious dedication and some skills, so it’s very good at targeting a wide audience that way.

          • Randy M says:

            Man, rhythm games. Nintendo just came out with a rhythm based Zelda game.
            Look at my picture. I’m not touching that.

          • Enkidum says:

            Fair, for what it’s worth it’s not all rhythm games, and you can actually get through those levels with little or no rhythm, you just won’t be perfect. My daughter (14) and I have finished all the levels, and are currently going back and trying to 100% them all, which is a serious challenge. Gives us something cool to do together, though.

          • smocc says:

            I have never played Rayman except for once I played a demo of the level Castle Rock from Rayman Legends in game store in a mall and it was one of the most memorable gaming experiences of my life.

          • Enkidum says:

            @smocc – yup. It’s just so well designed – every level is a work of love for the form.

        • helloo says:

          Do you mean Dungeon Crawl? It’s one of my favorite roguelikes, but not sure what you mean by asymmetric gameplay.

          • Enkidum says:

            Nope, just Crawl.

            It’s a dungeon crawler, but one player is alive, doing the crawling, and the rest are ghosts. The living player wanders around and finds items, etc that make them stronger.

            The ghosts can inhabit traps that allow them to attack the player. Also, they collect ectoplasm and once they get enough can spawn these slimes that either attack the living player on their own, or can be inhabited and controlled by any ghost.

            But the real mechanic is that every few rooms there are these pentagrams on the floor, which the ghosts can activate to turn into monsters that fight the player. If they kill the living player (or if their traps or slimes kill the player at any other time) they become alive and the living player becomes a ghost. And at the end of each level, the monsters are levelled up based on how much they have been killed by the living players. So as the player gets stronger, so do the monsters.

            Once the living players reach a certain level, they have the option of triggering a boss fight, where they fight these giant monsters with multiple different segments, each of which can be controlled by a ghost. If the monsters win, the game continues, if the living player wins, the game is over. It’s a pretty cool way of ensuring that everyone has something to do at all times, but what you’re doing changes drastically from moment to moment.

          • EchoChaos says:

            That sounds interesting. Is it local multiplayer or distributed?

          • Enkidum says:

            Local only, I think. You can also play against bots.

        • Randy M says:

          6, 9, & 11. I actually haven’t heard of most of those before.
          (edit: Those titles you mention, I mean. I’ve had occasional use of those numbers)

          • Enkidum says:

            Chicken Horse is probably the one that your younger kids would be most into. The others require a bit too much actual skill. Rayman they’d probably like some of the levels, and they wouldn’t care too much about 100%ing it or anything so they’d like the silliness of the characters, and probably the Kung Foot mini game (kind of a stupid combination of volleyball and soccer).

      • EchoChaos says:

        How is that for playing with kids? I’m always looking for good multiplayer games because I have two boys who are avid gamers to play with.

        • Enkidum says:

          See my suggestions. Towerfall is like indie Smash Bros but everyone has only like 4 moves (and they’re the same). Rayman Legends/Origins are two of the best platformers I’ve ever tried. I’ve never owned a Nintendo product, for some weird reason, but obviously they have a number of really, really good candidates for local multiplayer.

          Also: all three of the Sonic racing games (Mario Kart for Sega, essentially), are superb.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          If you like couch co-op platformer type stuff we had a lot of fun with Unruly Heroes, Guns Gore and Cannoli 1&2 (2 is better but 1 is pretty good) and Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime.

        • Randy M says:

          It’s not really multiplayer, actually. But they like watching building the town and we pass the controller around. They also like Stardew Valley.

          • EchoChaos says:

            Ah, cool. My kids love Stardew Valley and play a lot of Minecraft and Stonehearth as well.

            Building games like that are great, so that sounds right up their alley.

      • Enkidum says:

        Ooooh, also, Overcooked 2 is really, really worth playing, and very kid friendly. Coop cooking game in the most insane kitchens ever divised, like you’re flipping burgers on a hot-air balloon but then the balloon pops and you crash through the roof of a sushi bar and have to start preparing sushi instead. You’d definitely want to turn the difficulty down, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

        • Randy M says:

          I bought a boardgame like that for my wife for Christmas, Kitchen Rush. It’s a co-op worker placement, where your workers are sand-timers and you have to gather ingredients and cook dishes to fulfill as many orders as possible within a four minute round. It’s a lot of fun.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Slay the Spire is on my wishlist on the Nintendo eShop but I’m waiting for a sale. My gaming PC is out of commission for another few months (in the process of moving) and I prefer to buy things on Switch for portability (and sharing with my kid who has his own Switch with access to my account) if I can.

      Tuesday the final DLC chapter for Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey came out and I took the day off work to play it. Man it was great. The first three installments were okay, but the last three were great, each one with a whole new zone to explore (Elysium, Hades, Atlantis). I think Ubisoft did the best job of post-launch support of any game I’ve ever played in my life. The base game was great, with very few bugs, and then they just kept rolling out patch after patch with new features. A transmog system, and progression beyond the level cap, and raising the level cap, and New Game+, and new abilities, new missions, and loadouts, and new quests, and a story creator and on and on. But I think this is about the end. It’s sad. I wish they’d do a second season. Announce another 6 episodes for $30 and shut up and take my money.

      Last week the free DLC for The Messenger came out, and that was a lot of fun. Great to revisit that and the phenomenal soundtrack.

      Before that was Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night on Xbox One.. 10/10, highly, highly recommend if you like Castlevania. It’s basically Symphony of the Night But Better Graphics. Caveat, do not buy it on the Switch. On PC, on Xbox or PS4, fine. But the issue is that the Switch has a lot of problems with Unreal 4. Requires much optimization and many compromises. You look at RoTN and think “oh, it’s a 2D sidescroller, that should be great on the Switch.” No. Everything you’re looking at is 3D models rendered in the Unreal engine. It’s a 3D game with a fixed camera. The game is phenomenal, but I don’t think it’ll ever be good on the Switch and should not have been released for it.

      My Friend Pedro was a lot of fun. Great concept, action, controls, visuals, amazing soundtrack. It’s a little short though and doesn’t have much replay value. Wait for a sale.

      I picked up Into the Breach on sale. It’s all right. It’s a turn based tactics roguelite where you control giant mechs fighting bugs from the makers of FTL.

      A month ago I got The Way: Remastered on sale for $1. I would call it a cross between Another World (or Out of This World) and The Dig. So puzzles, action, alien mystery stories. I beat it in an afternoon, but for a dollar, you can’t beat it.

      Just looking at what else is on my Switch right now…I’m not sure if I ever plugged Salt & Sanctuary on here. If you like 2D games and you like Dark Souls, you must play this game. Probably one of my favorite games I’ve played this year. It’s creepy, engrossing, the controls are flawless, the talent tree and character building options are limitless. 10/10 game, must play.

      Besides that I’m waiting for Fire Emblem: Three Houses with comes out in a week and then Astral Chain next month.

      • Enkidum says:

        I highly recommend spending more time on Into the Breach – once you realize that it’s actually a puzzle game, you get a lot more out of it. It’s a great game for achievement hunting, because trying to get them makes you realize all the different approaches you could be taking to a different situation.

    • Joseph Greenwood says:

      I also enjoyed Slay the Spire quite a bit! More recently, I have been quite pleased with Stellaris, although I have yet to stick with an empire past the midgame.

      • Randy M says:

        I have that problem with 4X games generally. It’s a well known design challenge to retain the magic when the exploration is gone, the maintenance is tedious, the research is not granting anything particularly new, and combat becomes a slog of countless units.

        • Enkidum says:

          I’m terrible at 4x – even Civ, in any iteration, I don’t think I’ve ever won, despite probably having put >100 hours in. Just can’t be bothered to learn what the game actually is.

          • acymetric says:

            Maybe I just need to up my difficulty or something, but I always blow Civ games out of the water (I would probably struggle more against human players, but I always play against the relatively stupid AI).

            Generally I make it a “challenge” by using extremely large maps and artificially restricting myself on how soon I can start taking out my neighbors. Eventually I have military superiority and set out to conquer each other continent simultaneously.

          • Randy M says:

            That reminds me of a debate about the ai strength when Civ4: BtS was released and incorporated a better ai mod by a fan. The creator ascribed to the philosophy that an ai should function as another player, and so if you are playing with 7 ais on the appropriate difficulty, you’ll only win 1 in 8 times.

            The opposing viewpoint is that in a single player game, that’s a somewhat depressing win rate, especially for a game that can take five hours before a clear winner is established.

            The difference was manifest in that suddenly the ai players were bringing huge stacks of mixed units ( at least on hard difficulty levels), often without a real legitimate causus belli–a strategy employed by any competitive player but quite imposing when you face it. (Less so when you have Pillar of Fire, of course)

            The other problem is that the player has to take out or surpass every ai, but the ai only has to take out the player. It’s not that they will preferentially attack you, but if they go all in on an early rush (because that fits their historical theme), even if such a thing would be crippling economically for the attacker as well, it can put the player into a situation where they really can’t win, compared to some ai in a defensible pocket going all science.

            I think some of that was influential on the decision to implement a (largely absurd by the scope of the game) 1 unit per tile rule in recent editions.

            Anyway, all that to say, don’t get too frustrated if you don’t win as often as in other games.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            @Randy M: The 1-unit-per-tile change was immersion-breakingly absurd. I still play Civ4, and there are some things about Civ3 I think were better: you can get maps up to 362×362, which is a more fun and realistic scale than Civ4, and civil disorder is much better than angry population units that are just a resource for whipping buildings.

          • Protagoras says:

            I can’t stand the one unit per tile. On AI strength, I think it depends partly on whether you want to simulate playing a wargame with some friends, or do some kind of historical simulation; the former will be more challenging, but if you’re not playing against actual humans you may not care about the competition aspects. Or you may; different people play for different reasons.

          • Lillian says:

            What i never understood about the unit per tile thing is that everyone acted like the only two options were infinity units per tile or one unit per tile. Why not put the limit at say six units per tile? That actually lets you have a lot of options with respect to stack composition, but also spreads out military forces enough so that field manoeuvres actually matter instead of everything being doom stacks. It’s pretty bizarre.

            Also with respect to AI, i like for them to play intelligently but without knowing that they’re in a game. So no random wars without casus belli, or ganging up on the player just because they’re close to the win condition. That sort of thing.

          • Enkidum says:

            I feel like if I bothered to learn the strategies I’d be fine, but I just can’t deal with spreadsheet gaming (same as my problem with Paradox grand strategy games). After about 20 minutes of reading up on what I’m supposed to be doing I get bored and want to smash things together.

          • bean says:

            The Realism Invictus mod for Civ 4 had a good solution to that. You could stack as many units as you wanted in a given tile, but you usually didn’t, for two reasons. First, there was a penalty if you had too many units in a given tile. Second, a successful attack on a tile did splash damage to the other units there, particularly if there were too many of them. It worked well.

      • EchoChaos says:

        My best so far is the Defect, where I’m at Ascension 5. Silent doesn’t click well for me at all and was my last win and I still haven’t killed the Heart with her.

        My single favorite deck was a Defect Frost deck where I just always had near-infinite block and spammed blizzard.

    • Atlas says:

      Coincidentally, I also recently purchased Slay the Spire and have also been enjoying it quite a bit. If you like Hearthstone, you’ll probably like it. I really appreciate that its iterative/marginal nature makes it possible to have fun/make progress even if, say, you only have 20 minutes to play.

      I technically purchased it some time back, but I just started playing XCOM 2 a few weeks ago, and, man, is it a lot of fun. I like turn-based strategy games because I can listen to podcasts while playing, and XCOM 2 fills that niche perfectly for me.

      • Enkidum says:

        XCOM 2 is incredible (as is its predecessor). I haven’t played the War of the Chosen expansion yet, but it is apparently almost another game in itself. If you’re nerdy enough, the Long War mods for both games are incredibly frustrating and very fun.

        Recommended in a similar vein is Invisible Inc from Klei (who have never made a bad game). It’s a much more cartoony game, and very stealth-oriented (basically, if you get seen, chances are you’re going to die). But similar turn-based strategy, and incredibly, incredibly tense. Like XCOM, I have spent over twenty minutes on a single move, sweating buckets the entire time. Unlike XCOM, there is no probability, everything is entirely predictable. Which makes it even more wonderfully frustrating when everything goes to shit because you fucked up.

        • Atlas says:

          Recommended in a similar vein is Invisible Inc from Klei (who have never made a bad game). It’s a much more cartoony game, and very stealth-oriented (basically, if you get seen, chances are you’re going to die). But similar turn-based strategy, and incredibly, incredibly tense.

          Looks pretty cool, thanks for the recommendation.

        • sfoil says:

          I find the XCOM games frustrating because of their “enemy activation” mechanic, wherein “pods” of aliens stand around and do nothing on the (small) map until you see them. Exploiting this mechanic is critical to winning, and aside from being pretty silly it penalizes the player for spreading out and aggressively flanking.

          • Enkidum says:

            That is the big criticism. The extra frustrating part is that I believe there are some pods that do move around, but they do so in a weird way.

            FWIW Invisible Inc does not have this issue.

          • Randy M says:

            Disgaea is often like that too, although without a fog of war so you can see the enemy just standing there for 2-3 turns while you move into position.
            Of course, in Disgaea, if you allow the enemy to take a turn you’re doing it wrong.

          • Atlas says:

            I definitely found that challenging in the beginning of my play-through, and understand why it could be extremely frustrating. Switching tactics to more often making cautious half-moves to cover followed by going into overwatch made things a lot easier for me. When I started doing that, aliens triggered ambushes by walking in from out of the blue far more frequently than I would have expected initially. (Also you can get a lot of the benefits of flanking without the attendant risks of movement by liberally using explosives to destroy cover.)

            In defense of this mechanic, I think it creates a satisfying tension: on the one hand, if your concentrated squad engages a single pod of aliens, it can easily wipe them out while suffering little to no damage themselves. On the other hand, if they bite off more than they can chew, your squad can easily find itself the victim of a snowball. So you have to carefully judge when/how to engage.

            One possible conceptual criticism of at least XCOM 2, though probably the other games as well, that I have is that they market themselves as if you’re playing the guerrilla side of an asymmetric conflict. That’s accurate as far as lore/story/cosmetics go, but in terms of actual mission gameplay I felt more like I was playing the counter-insurgent side. A smaller number of better equipped troops on my side are trying to seek and destroy a larger number of less individually powerful enemies by facing them in head-on combat, often facing time pressure.

            And that’s lots of fun for me, but I would be very curious to see a game that put you more in the archetypal position of guerrillas: severely disadvantaged in a head-to-head confrontation, but more mobile and capable of hiding out in the terrain/among the civilian population. A game where you have to rely on hit-and-run tactics, be willing to accept high casualties and have more patience than your adversary. I can definitely imagine mechanics that constantly tempt you into making a game-winning Dien Bien Phu/Yorktown conventional attack, but at the risk of a Tet Offensive style disaster. I think that could be an interesting game, anyway.

    • silver_swift says:

      I bought Godhood last week as it was released for early access recently, but I found it to still be much too bare bones at the moment. so I switched back to Renowned Explorers (the previous game by the same creators) and I’m really enjoying it.

      I feel like this game isn’t nearly as well known as it should be. It’s by no means a perfect game, there is a bit too much luck involved for my tastes and the game really suffers from a lack of good online sources, but the combination of colorful silliness and crunchy combo building gameplay is really excellent and the characters (and with the expansion the emperors challenges) are all different enough that I want to keep experimenting with different teams and tactics.

      Plus, I really like the games combat system: Moves are split between friendly, devious and aggressive moves that have a rock paper scissors thing going on (friendly beats devious, aggressive beats friendly, devious beats aggressive). Each team has a mood that corresponds to one of the three move types and you switch moods by using moves that are of a different type. If your team is in a mood that beats the other teams mood you get a bonus and if both teams are in the same mood then moves that beat that mood become more powerful.

      It’s very simple, but you often get interesting puzzles where you want to end your turn in a specific mood, but the moves you want to use would put you in a different mood.

      If you like rougelike I recommend giving it a try.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      I’ve done almost everything in Hollow Knight, which I picked up in the latest sale. All I have left is the Godseeker content and (ugh) Zote fights, which are GODDAMN HARD – possibly harder than they are fun. I’m on a break.

      Definitely my favorite Metroidvania since AM2R. My one complaint is that the bosses are often harder than the distance from the save points to them merits. Actually, my other one complaint is the Dark Souls-esque remnant system, which is a pointless addition that produces ~1 moment of frustration ever and essentially never repeats the feat.

      I also decided to go ahead and bite the bullet to replace my aging, constantly overheating laptop with a fairly cheap desktop, and the parts are coming in over the next few days. Ideally I’ll be able to actually play Prey on it.

      • Enkidum says:

        I got stuck about 75% (I think) of the way through (not in terms of 100%ing it, just in terms of the main story). Some of those boss fights are insanely hard. Super beautiful game, though.

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        You make it through Path of Pain?

        • Hoopyfreud says:

          Yes, and I don’t even feel bad for using the HP regen charm for it.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            Oh yes, I used that too. Took me about two and a half hours and absolutely killed my hands.

      • JPNunez says:

        I dropped Hollow Knight when I got to the palace with all the buzzsaws and spikes.

        Good game otherwise.

    • beleester says:

      Just played through Hollow Knight and I really enjoyed it. Extremely Dark Souls-esque, both in terms of setting (ruined kingdom where most of the residents have either died or gone insane), and in mechanics (combat is based around learning a boss’s telegraphs and reacting appropriately). But I like Dark Souls a lot, so I’m digging it. The art is beautiful, too.

      And I really love how much there is to explore, even if it meant I had to reach for a walkthrough a few times to see everything. Like, you can complete the game any% and still have entire areas unexplored. Going for the true ending will take you from one end of the kingdom to the other, and I’m pretty sure if I tried to 100% the game and do all the Godmaster challenges I’d double my playtime yet again.

      (Side note: I’m thinking that “has an optional arena combat mode” is a good litmus test for gameplay depth, because it indicates the combat system has enough complexity that the developers thought mastering it would be a fun challenge all by itself. Bastion, Hollow Knight, Arkham Asylum/City… any other good examples?)

      • Conrad Honcho says:

        If you like Dark Souls and you like 2D platformer type games, I strongly encourage you to try Salt & Sanctuary. It is 2D Dark Souls. The entire character and advancement system is a complete rip-off of Dark Souls. Instead of collecting souls to level up with at shrines, you collect salt to level up with at sanctuaries. Also got the whole creepy ruined kingdom of dead and insane people and stuff. And punishing bosses where you have to learn all their moves and not get hit and such. Very, very good.

  15. johan_larson says:

    So, Netflix is developing an animated series based on Magic: The Gathering. What should this look like?

    I think it would be a mistake to focus on the wizard duel that the game itself simulates. Instead, make the show a fantasy adventure, but with prominent magic use, sort of like Harry Dresden. Some of the spells used in the show could be the same ones used in the game, and of course creatures from the game could appear as characters.

    I’m thinking we set the series in MTG’s best setting, Ravnica. And each season focuses on one of the ten guilds, with some of the others in supporting roles. We’ll start of with Boros; they’re good people so they’re easy to identify with, but they’re really violent good people so there’ll be plenty of blood on the floor to draw in the filthy casual viewers. Save Dimir and Orzhov for the edgy, sophisticated, ambiguous fourth and fifth seasons.

    • Deiseach says:

      So, Netflix is developing an animated series based on Magic: The Gathering. What should this look like?

      This is taking me back to the 80s with a vengeance 🙂

      • johan_larson says:

        The drawing room and the parlor are not the docks and the mill, dear. There are some things we do not speak of here.

        • Deiseach says:

          Yeah, yeah: I’ll still be here down among the guttersnipes swigging Mother’s Ruin when you come crawling back, a shattered man, after having your expectations not alone crushed but danced on with hobnailed boots and their tattered shreds waved in your face to taunt you.

          Who’ll have the last laugh then? 😀

    • Perico says:

      Here are my predictions on how it will play out:
      – The show will have five planeswalkers as main characters, one for each color. Jace, Liliana and Chandra are non-negotiable, and the other colors are slightly more flexible. The safe choice for white is Gideon, but since he’s recently died in continuity they might take Ajani instead – it depends on whether they want to share continuity with the card game or exist in their own space. As for green, Nissa is the obvious candidate, but they could replace her with Vivien because she’s a pretty cool character and she adds a bit of diversity to the cast (though elf representation would suffer).
      – Big emphasis on the five colors of mana. Most characters, creatures and world areas will map clearly to one or more colors, and personality traits will often be related to each color’s philosophy.
      – Multiple worlds. World-hopping is a key element of the franchise, and the protagonists are defined by their ability to travel across planes. I think showing 2-3 worlds in the first few episodes is a must in order to explain how this universe works, and after that they can settle with a main plane for each season.
      – Beginner friendly. Since there is a lot of stuff to explain, they will leave more complex concepts for later. In particular, I think multi-colored magic will need to wait until they are confident of the audience’s understanding of individual colors. This doesn’t completely rule out showing Ravnica in season 1, but I would be surprised if they focused on the Ravnica guilds early on.
      – Related to current continuity. It won’t be easy to get the timing exactly right, but they will try to make it so that one or more of the worlds shown in the series are present in sets currently on sale.

      The big question, to me, is what they will do with continuity. I think sharing a continuity with the game is desirable, but very hard – the storytelling pace in expansion sets is notoriously slow. My bet would be on a soft reboot: have the main characters meet each other, decide to form a superhero team, and fight Nicol Bolas, for a start.

      This is not how I would prefer things to go, mind you – just the most likely outcome, in my opinion.

      • EchoChaos says:

        The game has continuity now? Man, when I played back in the ancient days of Revised and Fourth Edition it barely had characters.

        • Tarpitz says:

          Dozens of novels, reams of short fiction, occasional lack of clarity about what’s canon and what’s been retconned, and, inevitably, a wiki. Modern Magic storytelling very much takes its cue from superhero properties, with perhaps a side of Doctor Who.

      • Tarpitz says:

        They’ve explicitly said it won’t share a continuity. Big points of character identity will remain (Chandra’s from Kaladesh, her father was murdered by government forces, she has passionate emotions and is good at burning things) but specifics won’t (she may or may not be romantically involved with Nissa). They’re making a superhero series with planeswalkers, and it will bear a similar relationship to the card game’s storyline to the one traditional superhero movies or TV series do to the comics.

      • johan_larson says:

        I’m not really up on the lore. How nasty is Liliana? My vague impression is that Liliana is the “good” black planeswalker and Sorin is the “bad” black planeswalker.

        • Hoopyfreud says:

          Vraska is the “good” black planeswalker and Ob Nixilis is the “evil” one.

          Liliana is so inconsistently characterized that it’s a tossup for any given piece of media. Sorin is just a jerky emo kid.

        • Tarpitz says:

          Ob Nixilis is turbo-evil, killing and torture and destroying of worlds for the sake of it.

          Liliana did a face-heel turn as a young woman after being tricked into turning her brother into a zombie, spent hundreds of years being pretty damn evil (though in a more human, rationally self-serving way than Ob Nixilis) and has recently had(/possibly is still having) a big redemption arc: she turned on Nicol Bolas to save the plane of Ravnica and dozens of other planeswalkers expecting the action to cost her her life, but was saved by Gideon, who died in her place. Probably best regarded as a good guy with a chequered past at this point. But probably still the sort of approximate good guy who would happily feed her enemies alive to zombie crocodiles, so…

          Davriel presents a front of moustache-twirling evil in an attempt to get people to leave him alone, but is in fact neutral with vague leanings towards good.

          Sorin is usually BW, but has had mono-black incarnations. He’s a selfish, egotistical arsehole of an anti-hero, but broadly on the side of the good guys.

          Ashiok (UB) is evil as hell.

          Nicol Bolas (UBR) is a recurring big bad, analogous to the Master from Doctor Who, but has just been put on ice in Magic Arkham Asylum. He’ll be back.

          Tezzeret (always U, sometimes B) is fully a villain, in the past mostly as a somewhat unreliable/treasonous Bolas henchman.

          Kaya (BW) is a broadly good ghostbuster.

          Vraska (BG) is an antihero.

          Ashiok (BR) is… probably an antihero?

          Garruk (formerly G, now BG) is… still kind of a villain at present? Probably?

          Aminatou (WBU) is an extremely dangerous but probably well-intentioned small child.

          Daretti (BR) is… I guess kind of a villain, but quite a likeable one.

          Lord Windgrace (RBG) is a long dead hero.

          Sarkhan (mostly R, but in one incarnation when he’d been driven mad by Bolas RB) is generally an approximate good guy but was an antagonist when he was black.

          • Randy M says:

            Ashiok (BR) is… probably an antihero?

            You said Ashiok already. I think you mean the minotaur?

    • metacelsus says:

      I wonder how the inevitable Abridged Series will turn out . . .

      • helloo says:

        Let us wizards of unrivaled power battle for the fate of the very worlds using the only means we know how – A CHILDREN’S CARD GAME OF LUCK AND CHANCE.

        I’m guessing they might skip the whole game aspect of it and just concentrate on the stories (Ravinica is a good bet though Urza is probably a safer standard fantasy setting).

        • silver_swift says:

          Urza is probably a safer standard fantasy setting

          There is no way they’re going for any of the pre-mending storylines. Wizards wants the people watching the show to get exited about buying new stuff, not get annoyed at how boring the gatewatch crew is compared to the old planeswalkers.

          Plus, the announcement image was this, so we’re getting Shandra at the very least.

    • cassander says:

      I’d be more confident in this if HBO were doing it. Magic is a pretty grimdark world, it really for full game of thrones style “blood and tits” treatment. And while Ravnica would make a better show, I think that Perico has the right of it on what’s most likely.

      • Matt M says:

        Hasn’t Netflix promised that its Witcher series is going to be GOT-esque in that regard? Or did I just imagine that?

        I feel like you *can’t* adapt Witcher without gore and nudity…

        • cassander says:

          I would assume so, but I have more faith in HBO’s willingness to be shameless than Netflix’s.

      • Le Maistre Chat says:

        Magic is a pretty grimdark world, it really for full game of thrones style “blood and tits” treatment.

        Tangent: I really, really don’t understand “blood and tits” fantasy. There are a huge number of pre-industrial cultures where women went bare-breasted, but in “blood and tits” fantasy they’re all covered up except during a sex scene. If tits are 50% of the reason dudes pay to see it, why don’t the creators copy such a culture?
        Is it because they need to use the fully-covered versions in advertising and merchandise to not run afoul of indecency laws?

        • cassander says:

          What I like about the style isn’t just that there are tits, but that the storytelling is self consciously adult, trying to engage in serious themes without pulling punches or self censoring. Of course, they don’t always succeed, The sexpostion in GOT got downright silly, at times, but I like the commitment to throwing away the slightest hint of appealing to kids. Plus there’s something of the Theiss Titillation Theory at work. Flesh is nice, but what’s really compelling is obscured flesh that might be revealed if you just stare at it hard enough.

          • Deiseach says:

            What I like about the style isn’t just that there are tits, but that the storytelling is self consciously adult, trying to engage in serious themes without pulling punches or self censoring.

            Yeah, I find that serious engagement works better when you don’t deliver it with a side of “Oh look, I have bazooms. Wanna ogle?” Nudity and violence should be adult and treated as such, but all too frequently it’s “what a fourteen year old imagines being a legal adult will be like, when they can stay up late and drink and watch porn and do all the cool fun stuff boring mean old parents won’t let them do” – any philosophical debate is just filler until you get to see the blood and tits parts.

          • cassander says:

            @Deiseach

            I don’t dispute that fact that they stumble into male adolescent fantasy, or that as a former adolescent male, that can have some appeal on occasion. But when they do it well, and there are plenty of times that they do, mixing in some obscenity (in the traditional sense) can give scenes an impact that they wouldn’t otherwise have, and I like the commitment to doing that.

        • Nornagest says:

          National Geographic nudity isn’t exactly unheard of — as big a film as Avatar (smurfs, not ninjas) did it. But it isn’t actually that titillating once you get used to it, which is probably why it isn’t normally used as titillation.

  16. BBA says:

    It’s late and I’m feeling dyspeptic.

    On the topic of crying wolf, I think Matt Yglesias hit the nail on the head:

    The thing that really scares me about Trump Era politics is not exactly Trump, it’s the idea that history is going to repeat but with Trump as the farce version and the next guy as the tragedy version.

    Trump himself is mostly a phony, with no knowledge of or interest in, how the government actually operates and no real bona fides in military or law enforcement work.

    But he’s established a template less ridiculous people could follow.

    What really upsets me is how goddamn normal everything is. Two and a half years in, and nothing in my life has changed at all. I go to a protest about the kids in cages, everyone is rightfully upset about it, nothing changes, eventually we lose interest…yeah Obama put kids in cages too and almost nobody cared back then… it just makes me wonder, how much worse could things get, how much eviller could we be, before it actually affects me?

    For that matter, the stakes were much higher and the harm was much greater with the Iraq war, and that didn’t affect me either.

    Gah. Everything is awful and everything is broken, and we are all personally responsible for it all. I can’t fix anything, but at least I can spend every waking moment feeling terrible about my complicity in all this. That’s something, right?

    • Radu Floricica says:

      Good. Feeling dyspeptic is not the wrong reaction. Romanian here – we have the highest rate of emigration this side of Siria – not a metaphor btw. We’re a perfectly civilized and peaceful country, and I personally work and live pretty damn comfortably. And yet I know absolutely no happy people, me including. Having been governed by basically a kleptocracy for 30 years turned out to be just bad, even for the parts of the population that are actually enjoying better relative purchasing power as a result. No man is an island, I guess.

      But feeling dyspeptic is not the cure. There was a brilliant comment here (don’t remember the author) on how democracy is working not because of the vote, but because of the power to go out there and get voted. You have an itch, you’re not forced to just watch helplessly as the wrong people get elected, year after year. You can just get up and scratch that itch directly – find the smallest place where you can get involved, and do something.

      Which I guess is a pretty damn good advice for me as well. Seeing politics from the inside is indeed a lot like a sausage factory. End result may be good, but goddamn the process is disgusting. *sigh*. Should hold my nose and dig in, I guess.

      • eigenmoon says:

        And yet I know absolutely no happy people, me including.

        Could you please elaborate on that?

        I’ve read “Times New Romanian”, “Never mind Balkans, here’s Romania” and Sam Cel Roman’s guide, but I still don’t get why Romanians are so unhappy.

        • Radu Floricica says:

          I’m probably exaggerating a bit. Let’s put it this way – in my circle of friends (middle-upper class professionals) only about 1 in 4 is not considering leaving the country. Some actually left or are about to leave, most are being kept by kids, having invested in a house or both, and only relatively few are overall ok with their situation. Ok, maybe I’m not exaggerating :))

          Bucharest for example has THE worst traffic in Europe, and pollution bad enough that I’m keeping windows closed and air purifier on non-stop (again, both are literal truth). And none of the problems are really functional – they’re deliberate choices by local/central governments to move funds from places they can do good to places they can be either stolen or given as electoral bribe.

          Anyways, the point I was making initially, in case it wasn’t very clear, is that you can’t fully isolate yourself in a bubble. The people/system doing the governing have a real effect on your life. And bitching and voting every couple of years is not enough.

          • eigenmoon says:

            Thank you for elaborating – but I can’t shake the strange feeling that the true answer is something else.

            we have the highest rate of emigration this side of Siria

            First, are you sure? I thought Bulgaria, Latvia and Lithuania have it even higher.

            Second, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s that bad in Romania. It might mean that migration within EU is much easier and Romanian is the most useful among Eastern European languages to know for someone who wants to migrate to Western Europe.

            about 1 in 4 is not considering leaving the country.

            But I like considering my options, it makes me happier. I considered moving to Romania, too.

            Of course It sucks being kept in place by kids when you’d rather be somewhere else. But when those Romanians decided to make babies in Romania instead of emigrating, was the situation in Romania better then? If they, being younger and childless, preferred to stay in Romania, what is it that has become so much worse that they say now they’d emigrate if not for the kids?

            Bucharest for example has THE worst traffic in Europe,

            Are you sure? I thought Rome, Moscow and Istanbul have it worse.

            pollution bad enough

            Yes – in Bucharest. But Romania as a whole looks quite decent and way better than Poland, Bulgaria or Northern Italy.

            The people/system doing the governing have a real effect on your life.

            Sure, and that’s unfortunate. But if you get elected, your entanglement with the system would only increase, no? Perhaps the answer is in throwing less money into the system. Romania recently lowered its tax from 16% to 10% – that’s a great start! If only Romanian government could also lower its spending…

          • Enkidum says:

            Pretty much all the former Soviet states in Eastern Europe, as well as Russia, have massive demographic problems. The people are largely miserable, everyone wants to leave, alcoholism is rampant, jobs are nonexistent, and life expectancy is falling: these are not the signs of a healthy society.

            It is that bad in Romania. And a lot of other ex-communist countries. A lot worse than the West.

            I think that it would be that bad in China and Vietnam, except thus far the economy hasn’t collapsed in the way that it has in the former Soviet areas. I think the combination of terrible economies, rampant corruption, and little or no ability to affect political decisions is what does it in Eastern Europe. China has 2/3, but Russia and most of its satellites have all 3, and that’s what kills them.

            Spain or Italy have terrible economies, but not the same level of corruption or inability to affect the government, and their countries are not nearly as depressed on a collective level.

            I think looking at taxation levels is, to say the least, barking up the wrong tree. Many of the happiest countries are among those with the highest taxation levels in the world.

          • Radu Floricica says:

            @eigenmoon

            On the phone, can’t properly google here. On the phone btw and sweating in a train in which ac just died, yet again, in stench of sweat and already late, as usual, barely one hour from departure on perfectly flat ground and fair weather. Just a data point but.. a pungent one.

            Try googling immigration and traffic, they should be easy to fi d.

            As for pollution, yes, that’s why personally I’m trying to stay as much as possible in a small town. But i’m very privileged this way – normally you can only make money in Bucharest and another 4-5 cities.

            You really should see the resignation right now when a couple of people mentioned the ac to the conductor and HIS resignation when he said “that’s what i’m trying to do”. And the total lack of novelty for everyone.

          • eigenmoon says:

            @Enkidum

            I think looking at taxation levels is, to say the least, barking up the wrong tree. Many of the happiest countries are among those with the highest taxation levels in the world.

            Let me make you an extract from the World Happiness Report Ranking 2016-2018 (smaller number means happier):

            23. Mexico
            24. France
            27. Guatemala
            30. Spain
            35. El Salvador
            36. Italy
            41. Uzbekistan
            44. Slovenia
            45. Nicaragua
            48. Romania
            58. Japan
            59. Honduras
            60. Kazakhstan
            62. Hungary
            66. Portugal
            74. Tajikistan
            75. Croatia

            Does this correspond to where you’d want to live? My guess is no. Why care then? You’re correct that the highest countries in that ranking have high taxes. So what? The ranking doesn’t correspond at all to where I’d like to be.

            It is that bad in Romania. And a lot of other ex-communist countries. A lot worse than the West.

            Where did you get the idea that political situation in Eastern Europe is as bad as in Russia? I don’t know what you think of the the FreedomHouse rating, but have a look: Latvia is a little better than US, Lithuania is a little better than France, Estonia is on par with Germany and Romania, although slightly worse than the West, is still better than Israel. To me it sounds about right.

            @Radu
            On migration I’ve got net migration and percentage of locally born people living abroad. On traffic I got https://www.tomtom.com/en_gb/traffic-index/ranking/; I was mistaken about Rome.

            Germans like to complain about their trains too. Although AC usually works. But AFAIK German trains cost a lot more than Romanian even adjusted for purchase power.

          • Radu Floricica says:

            @eingenmoon

            So what does this mean? Technically, I was wrong: we’re not first place, but 3rd, or 5th, or first un EU instead of europe. You’ll agree, I hope, that this is not great consolation. As for comparing with german railways… *sad laugh*

            Average operating speeds (including all stops in stations) according to CFR, are in 2018:

            39 km/h for Regio trains
            55 km/h for InterRegio trains[12

          • Enkidum says:

            @eigenmoon

            If I understand correctly, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are among the most Western-oriented of the ex-Soviet states, and those with among the best outcomes. So countries that either were never that truly Soviet (like the Czech Republic) or managed to truly change their culture afterwards, have done very well for themselves.

            Taking a quick glance at the World Happiness Report Ranking 2016-2018, I would happily live in any of the top 19 countries, all of which have fairly high taxes, and almost all of the top 30.I would be reluctant to live in most other countries for a long time, and none of the ones past 100. So… I think there’s a lot more right about that metric than you argue.

            At any rate, the point I was trying to make is that high taxes as the source of unhappiness or the cause of a society you don’t want to live in seems demonstrably false. Literally every country I would consider among the best in the world has high taxes. I don’t want to claim that there’s some kind of direct causal link there, but there certainly isn’t one in the other direction.

          • eigenmoon says:

            @Radu Floricica
            OK, that’s some seriously slow trains.

            @Enkidum
            It seems then that the horrible Eastern Europe that you were talking about consists only of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova. The rest has pretty much moved on.

            So… I think there’s a lot more right about that metric than you argue.

            The metric is based on the answers to the Cantril scale question, which asks where you are between your imaginary worst possible life and your imaginary best possible life. Of course people in less rich countries would imagine their best life to be in a richer country and therefore rate their present life lower. So it’s no surprise that richer countries score highly.

            high taxes as the source of unhappiness or the cause of a society you don’t want to live in seems demonstrably false.

            Let’s talk about tax wedge here (tax + social security + employer contributions) because that’s easier to compare (another often used metric is govt spending / GDP, but it’s a bit more difficult to make sense of). The tax wedge for an average worker is calculated by Institure Molinari and by OECD. Unfortunately, their data diverge considerably (example: Poland), but let’s ignore that for now.

            Now if you’re an average worker in Belgium, government takes 52.7% of your earned money; if in New Zealand – only 18.4%. I’m glad that you consider both levels to be high, because I can totally relate to that. However, those are clearly two very different countries. Why do you assume that I would be equally happy about living in them? I think I wouldn’t.

            Note that we started talking about tax thing when Radu said something to the effect that stupid government makes him unhappy and he can’t isolate himself well enough (might be difficult to do while riding in a train belonging to a state-run company). I said that less taxes make the government less intrusive. If we agree that government intrusiveness can be a source of unhappiness, then we have a clear connection between high taxes and unhappiness, since the higher the tax, the more funds the government has to be intrusive.

          • Enkidum says:

            Sorry, I’m completely lost as to what you’re trying to argue at this point.

            You originally seemed to claim that the happiness scale was meaningless, or at least unrelated to where people would like to live (if you were trying to say something else, please let me know). My response was intended to illustrate that it isn’t. Specifically, almost all the top 30 countries seem to be places I (and I think most people) would like to live, and all the places below 100 seem to be places I (and I think most people) would not like to live. You seem to have conceded that point?

            the higher the tax, the more funds the government has to be intrusive.

            And the less tax, the less funds the government has to do anything useful.

            I think you are misreading Radu (Radu, please correct me if I’m wrong). The problems he’s describing aren’t a matter of government intrusiveness (whatever that means, exactly). They’re a problem of government corruption and incompetence.

            I assume you’re trying to hint at something like the idea that all governments are inherently corrupt and incompetent, and the best thing to do is to reduce their size, period. If so, the happiness index you linked makes a very, very strong argument against your case.

          • Radu Floricica says:

            I didn’t follow all the discussion thread, but I’m guessing each of you is debating a different slice of the argument.

            For what’s worth, yes, I have no problem with taxation level in principle. If I were to guess, I’d say successful countries start with low taxation (and some degree of protectionism) which allows them to grow, and once they can afford they gradually increase it. So you’re both right, except at different times, and this also explains why _currently_ successful countries have higher taxes (although I don’t think that’s a must)

            In Romania we have a very bad fit. At this point in our development we should have very low taxes and use european funds as much as possible. Instead, due to corruption and mismanagement we have high taxes, abysmal public services, and very low absorption of european funds because they’re much more difficult to embezzle.

          • eigenmoon says:

            @Enkidum
            I’m saying that happiness rating is a poor optimization target. I imagine something like this:

            Happiness = a * Prosperity + b * Freedom + c * Spirit

            and I’m not going to define spirit but the important thing is that you don’t just get into the country’s happy spirit when you migrate to it. If you want to migrate based on prosperity and freedom, that’s totally rational, just do that. But as far as migration goes, that spirit part is pretty much noise.

            And the less tax, the less funds the government has to do anything useful.

            That’s awesome because it means the private sector will have those funds to do that useful stuff more effectively.

            all governments are inherently corrupt and incompetent, and the best thing to do is to reduce their size, period.

            Oh yes, YEESSS!

            If so, the happiness index you linked makes a very, very strong argument against your case.

            Er… what? How?

            Compare Switzerland (#6) which has tax wedge of about 1/3 for an average worker and spends about 1/3 of its GDP, and France (#24) for which both figures are slightly above 1/2. Also France has about 100% GDP of debt and about 2% GDP budget deficit. No wonder the French are constantly protesting! Why would you pay 1.5 times as much for worse services?

            I don’t know what the Finns are so happy about, but I know a guy who moved from Germany to Switzerland and a guy who moved from Switzerland to Germany. The reason for G->S move is simply taxes. The reason for S->G move is that he wanted to forbid others to do things that he disapproved of even though they harm no one and Switzerland didn’t do enough forbidding for his tastes. (He’d put it differently – something something rich people this, the rest of us that, something something community. I give my interpretation of his reasoning.)

        • Radu Floricica says:

          Also, btw, living in Romania in the countryside with a west european income or pension is a pretty sweet deal. Use private health care only, though. But basically that’s what I’m trying, with limited success – still need to be in bucharest over halt the time.

          • eigenmoon says:

            I’ve considered that but my biggest problem is unbounded 25% pension contribution. This is a pity because that 1% revenue tax on small corporations might be very useful otherwise.

          • Matt M says:

            Given the disproportionately high share of camgirls that are from Romania, I’ve always assumed it would be a good place to go if you’re a man of means looking for a trophy wife/mistress.

          • Radu Floricica says:

            @eingenmoon
            Only if you’re employed, which means basically nobody with high income ouside gov employees. It’s trivial to make a company and take the money as dividents – I think you end up with 6% total. Talk to an accountant here (mine are Finsmart, you can google them). Mind telling more on what you want to do?

            @matt m
            It’s surprisingly… non-straightforward, though. Strictly for a mistress, check out seeking arrangement in Bucharest – you find everything from high end escorts to curious innocent students. For a wife, you probably have to come here. And I think being taller and exotic will help you more than being rich. Video chat is surprisingly localized – none in my home town for example, but there is a lot of openly talked about sex work abroad.

            Also, and unfortunately for me as well, every girl over 20 in smaller towns is already married or gone to college and not coming back.

          • eigenmoon says:

            Thank you! I might talk to those guys. But you’ve said

            Instead, due to corruption and mismanagement we have high taxes,

            so I assume there’s a reason everybody isn’t already opening their companies to do the same thing they did when employed and pay 6%?

            I know what Germany does in such cases. It says “we suspect your employer forced you to do that in order to deprive you of social protections which are Very Good For You”. And then they force an employment contract even if neither party wants it.

            I see some opportunities for a software business, let’s leave it at that for now.

          • Radu Floricica says:

            @eigenmoon

            Nah, it’s not this strict here. Actually it’s more like we have too much actual tax evasion to worry about people breaking the spirit of the law. As long as you follow the letter you’re fine.

            Also it’s not quite as simple as I made it to be. First, opening a company (or registering as a one-man-company – PFA here) involves some amount of bureaucracy. Second, dividends are technically payable only at the end of the year. It’s not a very string requirement though.

            As a rule, no matter what the changes in the code tax you could always get away legally with 16%, one way or another. But talk to an accountant. You definitely won’t end up paying the pension tax for large amounts.

      • Jon S says:

        In surveys, most people in Romania (and most places) say they’re happy: https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/happiness-cantril-ladder

        In general, people vastly underestimate how happy other people in their country are: https://ourworldindata.org/uploads/2017/04/Happiness-of-others.png

        • Radu Floricica says:

          Curley effect, maybe? Probably over 1/4 of working age population is all around Europe.

          • Gray Ice says:

            @Radu Floricica
            Thank for you for providing a different perceptive to this site. I appreciate your willingness to provide detailed information regarding Romania.

          • Radu Floricica says:

            @Gray Ice

            Welcome. And since you’re interested (probably the same way as reading about a train wreck :D), try to imagine what those 1/4 working age people do with their children when they go to work. Can’t take them with you. tl;dr: it’s exactly as bad as you’d think, and on exactly the scale the 1/4 is suggesting. A generation growing up without parents.

    • quanta413 says:

      I don’t even see how there’s a new template. Populism never dies.

      Like you said, Iraq was way worse. I think Bush believed the shit he was pushing, whereas I’m not sure whether or not Trump does… but I can’t decide if that’s worse, better, or just different.

      Razib Khan has made a half-joking claim that Trump and other political declines in the U.S. are a sign a modern Sulla will eventually rise in the U.S. That would be much, much worse than any President we’ve had before, but I no longer believe it couldn’t happen (pre-2016 I thought it was hilariously unlikely). The danger is not really Trump so much that some section of the elite uses the general dissatisfaction with government (which Trump is a symptom of) to seize power and shatters what remains of American political tradition.

    • Deiseach says:

      What really upsets me is how goddamn normal everything is.

      That’s because you’ve bought into the hype and hysteria. Even the phrasing “kids in cages” – it may be literally descriptive but it’s used more for the emotive punch than anything else (nobody talks about ordinary criminals as being ‘in cages’ even though they’re held under much the same conditions). And yeah, if it’s bad now, it was bad back when Their Guy was doing it too.

      Set all that aside. What Yglesias is doing is the same old whipping-up of hysteria that I’ve heard too many times. What is he fearing, in that excerpt? “Oh sure, turns out Trump is not the jackbooted strongman bastard lovechild of Mussolini and Pol Pot we all were claiming he would be, but that’s not the point – he’s clearing the way for the next guy who will – this time for sure! – be the jackbooted etc.”

      Really, Matt? Try some valerian tea, it’ll help your nerves.

      Are you old enough to remember way back to 2008, when Obama won and Bush the Second had to leave the White House? Remember the claims by the same kind of commentary that he wouldn’t step down peacefully in accord with the rules of democracy, he would cling on to power and invoke martial law in order not to have to hand over power to not alone a Democrat but an African-American?

      This kind of “yeah but this time we mean it, the Republican guy is Literal Hitler/even worse” has a long track record.

      Why be surprised things are normal and we haven’t had the Third World War and stormtroopers running wild in the streets? Why believe all the “My friends are making plans to flee to Canada as refugees right now!” flapping? Trump is not great, he’s mediocre at best but by the same token, he is not the AntiChrist and all the Democrat and progressive handwringing over what exactly kind of a tyrant he is going to be was unfounded.

      In the midst of all the “Trump is the worst and most hated ever”, here’s a quote for you from a New York Times magazine article back in 2008 in the final days of Bush’s second term:

      Whatever the president’s virtues, they remain unappreciated in his own time. To say that Bush is unpopular only begins to capture the historic depths of his estrangement from the American public. He is arguably the most disliked president in seven decades. Sixty-nine percent of Americans disapproved of his performance in office in a Gallup poll in April, the highest negative rate ever recorded for any president since the firm began asking the question in 1938. And while Harry Truman and Richard Nixon at their worst had even fewer supporters — Truman once fell to 22 percent in his job approval rating and Nixon to 24 percent, compared with Bush’s low of 28 percent — no president has endured such a prolonged period of public rejection. Bush has not enjoyed the support of a majority of Americans since March 2005, meaning he will go through virtually his entire second term without most of the public behind him.

      See? Everybody has been “the most hated ever”, until the next guy comes along and suddenly “Chimpy McHitler” is the beloved and respected elder statesman who governed with gravitas and now spends his time doing good works for AIDS prevention in Africa.

      Ignore the fever-dream columnists and commentary online. If you truly think some things are evil, work against them. Relax, it is not yet the Day of Judgement and when the Second Coming is at hand, we’ll know about it for sure.

      Now, if your concerns are “things are gradually getting worse and we’re becoming desensitised and accepting of chipping away of personal liberties and rights and minor abuses of state power”, then that’s a different matter and yes, quite possibly. In which case any of us under such regimes do have the duty to oppose the bad parts. But I want to emphasise: this is not achieved by highly coloured opinionating about “no, honest, the Strong Man Dictator is just around the corner this time for sure! If not the Current Guy, then the guy after him!”, neither is “but he really is the jackbooted dictator in his heart so this is why the bad stuff” established as fact just because the writer feels deeply that Current Guy is not simply as mediocre as he appears, he must be darkly plotting or the dupe of dark plotters.

      at least I can spend every waking moment feeling terrible about my complicity in all this. That’s something, right?

      It’s certainly something, but the wrong kind of something. It’s not good for you, or the environment around you, or the nation, or the universe. This is giving in to despair and luxuriating in misery because if things are this bad, then in a weird twisted way that means things are special and we’re special and it’s nice to be special.

      No. This is the sin against the Holy Ghost. Stop it. Try to rationally evaluate how bad things really are (in fact, not in the opinions of think pieces) and make a conscious decision not to indulge in misery tourism in your own life. Look for beauty, truth and hope and don’t give in to the cynical nagging little voice that says this is all escapism and only real facing of life is honest, and rubbing your nose in the muck is real facing of life. That voice is a liar.

      • Enkidum says:

        You make a lot of good points here.

      • Enkidum says:

        To add to the above… I spent most of the 90’s actively involved in some form of left wing activism, and the rhetoric about Bush Sr. wasn’t much different from that about Trump, minus the fact that Bush wasn’t such an overtly horrible person in quite the same way. But in terms of actual effects, there’s nothing particularly new about Trump, other than that he’s extremely embarrassing in a way that no previous president has been.

        Trump has, so far as I can tell, operated a more or less normal Republican presidency, in terms of actual legislation and decisions. Which is, from my perspective, quite awful, but there’s nothing new about it.

        (A normal Democratic presidency is, from my perspective, slightly less awful, but still pretty terrible. I’ve never seen an abnormal presidency in my lifetime.)

        • quanta413 says:

          he’s extremely embarrassing in a way that no previous president has been

          Agreed. Except possibly some 19th century Presidents no one alive has experienced came as close as they could with the technology of their time. Jackson sounds pretty embarrassing by modern standards, and his opponents sure didn’t like him but I don’t really know.

          The technology things really does matter though; at least Jackson couldn’t instantly broadcast hot takes on Twitter.

          No mass drunken benders at the inauguration this time though at least. Although that happening at Jackon’s inauguration is disputed according to wikipedia.

          • Randy M says:

            Johnson was special too, but he kept off Twitter and I don’t know if the press reported on all his peculiarities at the time.

          • Aapje says:

            What about Nixon?

            “Going after all these Jews. Just find one that is a Jew, will you.”

            “It wouldn’t have been too bad [if they had pulled out of Vietnam],” Nixon guessed. “Sure, the North Vietnamese would have probably slaughtered and castrated two million South Vietnamese Catholics, but nobody would have cared.

            “These little brown people, so far away,” he continued, “we don’t know them very well, naturally you would say.”

          • quanta413 says:

            Maybe you got me with Nixon. But like Randy M says, back then it really depended on whether the press reported the crazy and/or cruel things a President said.

          • cassander says:

            @randy M

            Lyndon Johnson literally waved his dick at people in the oval office, and liked to talk to generals (maybe others as well) while he was on the toilet to humiliate them. The press didn’t report on it.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            What is (publically) embarrassing in one era is not in another. Every politician plays by the rules of their own time.

            It’s not fair to Nixon to judge him by what theoretically private tapes revealed later. Nor to judge LBJ or JFK by actions they took in private understanding they wouldn’t be revealed contemporaneously.

            Trump is embarrassing by the standard of what he does in full public view.

          • albatross11 says:

            HBC:

            +1

            Lots of people say stuff in private that’s offensive or nasty, and far more people say stuff in private that sounds bad even if they’re making a perfectly sensible point. (As with the later Nixon quote–outrage bait, but also making a probably-accurate prediction about how Americans would react to something.).

            Trump’s public comments are, well, public. That’s the point–he uses the public and media reaction as part of his political strategy, and he’s really, really good at it. But those public comments have all kinds of knock-on effects, of which coarsening public discourse is only one of the smaller ones.

            Bill Clinton had a bit of this going on too–though mostly it was behavior he meant to keep quiet that came out in public. But it also coarsened public discourse.

            OTOH, both W and Obama seem to have worked pretty hard to keep the office of the president looking respectable and polite and educated. (W did pretend to be an uneducated good old boy sometimes, but he wasn’t generally crass about it.)

          • Jaskologist says:

            Litany of political Tarski: If a politician says things that are offensive or nasty, I desire to know that the politician says things that are offensive or nasty.

            I’m not necessarily endorsing the above, but do consider the trade-off here. There’s something to be said for maintaining the dignity of the office of the presidency. But there’s also something to be said for seeing our politicians for what they actually are.

        • HeelBearCub says:

          Trump has, so far as I can tell, operated a more or less normal Republican presidency,

          This simply isn’t true.

          You only have to look at the list of cabinet level changes to understand that this isn’t true. But that is the tip of the iceberg.

          You might be able to say this applies to legislation, but that makes perfect sense as legislation isn’t passed by the Executive.

          But it doesn’t apply to policy.

          • Enkidum says:

            Can you be more specific? I mean… I look at the kind of people that Reagan or Bush Sr nominated to their cabinets, and it included plenty of lunatics.

            Let me be perfectly clear: normal is awful. I think Trump is a terrible person who makes terrible decisions that actively make the world a worse place and damage America. But I don’t think that actually makes him particularly unusual.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Im not talking about who, I’m talking about how many.

            Then we could look at all of the other turnovers in the administration.

            We are on our third press secretary and we haven’t hit 3 years yet.

            Chief of staff, non-cabinet level positions, the turnover in this administration is massive. We don’t even have a nominated SecDef right now.

          • Matt M says:

            Why does that matter?

            To what extent do we know that low turnover results in better outcomes in these types of positions?

          • Randy M says:

            Why does that matter?

            Seems like it would be less efficient, but I don’t expect HBC would prefer a more efficient Trump administration.
            It may be a sign Trump is asking for particularly horrible things from his cabinet (like Nixon); surely what these are have leaked out?

          • Enkidum says:

            Oh sure, I think he’s unusually incompetent. But that’s mostly a good thing, given how much of an awful person he is.

            I do think the damage to the standing of the presidency is real, and will have long term consequences.

            I also just think he’s a terrible person and hope he gets his, but I thought that about him in the 90’s as well.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            It “matters” when assessing whether the current administration is similar to previous administrations, i.e. “normal”.

            There are many ways in which the current administration is not normal.

            By anology, you might prefer the engine be a V8 optimized for power, and I might want a 4 banger optimized for fuel efficiency, but we used to agree that the engine oil should be at proper level and changed with the filter at regular intervals. Maybe I wanted the brake pads changed before the wear indicator and you were willing to wait for it to wear past it, but we weren’t arguing about whether the car even needs back brake pads at all.

            The machinery of the government is not getting its needed maintenance. Eventually that will cause problems.

          • Matt M says:

            There are many ways in which the current administration is not normal.

            OK, sure. I can accept “Trump’s cabinet has a higher than normal turnover” as a reasonable statement.

            The machinery of the government is not getting its needed maintenance. Eventually that will cause problems.

            But here you cross from “This is out of line with previous practice” to “This is bad.” You don’t know that low turnover among cabinet officials is better than high turnover. “We’ve always done it that way” is not an acceptable answer to why a particular practice is good/bad.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Matt M:
            This kind of precise nitpicking, where you ignore much of what is being said, and the implications, so that you can critique a very narrow part of some position is … well, it’s not conducive to any sort of exploration of a topic.

            We don’t have a confirmed SecDef right now. Our Secretary of State, National Security Advisor, and our President each espouse different views of what our current foreign policy positions are. That has implications. That is one example among many.

            If I came up with a laundry list of everything, you would pick out the weakest ones. If I picked out a few, you will find small faults with those and say it’s only a few things.

          • dick says:

            But here you cross from “This is out of line with previous practice” to “This is bad.” You don’t know that low turnover among cabinet officials is better than high turnover. “We’ve always done it that way” is not an acceptable answer to why a particular practice is good/bad.

            Hiring and managing staff is a big part of what executives do. If IBM had ten VP jobs but half of them were empty because they kept quitting and getting fired, I don’t think you’d say, “Gosh, maybe that’s good and maybe that’s bad, how can we tell,” you’d assume it’s bad without a good reason to think otherwise. Particularly if the new CEO was Joe Biden, who after a long career as a politician had decided to switch careers and try his hand at running a large corporation for a change.

        • Matt M says:

          there’s nothing particularly new about Trump, other than that he’s extremely embarrassing in a way that no previous president has been.

          Eh, they said that about Bush too. And definitely about Reagan.

          • Enkidum says:

            Yes, but here the embarrassing part is his twitter and so forth. Which is unique, but I would argue (and I think you agree) mostly epiphenomenal.

            (The other “they” also said the same kind of thing about Obama and both Clintons – I think it was about as true in those cases.)

          • JPNunez says:

            Just because Trump is more embarrassing than Reagan and Bush does not make the other governments any better. Except in relative terms I guess.

          • Matt M says:

            Just because Trump is more embarrassing than Reagan and Bush does not make the other governments any better. Except in relative terms I guess.

            Of course not. But it does grant us a legitimate reason to question whether Trump is actually more embarrassing, or whether the left is deploying a tactic of “Call every Republican President the most embarrassing ever.”

            I mean, it could be both also. Although I’m not embarrassed by Trump at all. The fact that stuffy EU bureaucrats hate him is a feature, not a bug, as far as I’m concerned.

          • albatross11 says:

            One difference between Trump and other presidents I can remember is that Trump seems to be really good at dividing America. His most effective media and PR techniques involve creating an outrage-fest that the other side jumps on too hard, leaving them looking foolish. It’s hard for me to tell how much of this is specifically Trump, though, and how much is our extremely corrosive-to-society media culture. But it sure seemed to me that Obama, Bush, and Clinton were all a hell of a lot less inclined to toss some gasoline on some smoldering CW fire to get attention or as a distraction from an ongoing story[1][2].

            [1] Note that Acosta’s resignation and the surrounding Epstein drama got largely pushed out of the headlines by Trump’s “go back where you came from” tweets.

            [2] Clinton may not have been above bombing some third world country to distract from his domestic troubles, but he didn’t seem to go out of his way to try to divide the country the way Trump does.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            [2] Clinton may not have been above bombing some third world country to distract from his domestic troubles

            Clinton bombed 3rd world countries?

            Are you talking about Serbia? This seems like a pretty tortured reading of that.

          • DeWitt says:

            The Clinton thing is about Sudan, I believe, though the NATO’s conduct in the Yugoslav wars wasn’t without its flaws either.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Wikipedia:

            Operation Infinite Reach was “the only instance … in which the CIA or U.S. military carried out an operation directly against Bin Ladin before September 11.”

            Not sure it makes sense to regard this as bombing for purposes of distraction absent other evidence. AlQ had just killed 224 people including 12 Americans.

          • Enkidum says:

            Just because Trump is more embarrassing than Reagan and Bush does not make the other governments any better. Except in relative terms I guess.

            Sorry, I genuinely don’t know what that means. Isn’t “better” a relative term, by definition?

            But I would agree that other than the embarrassment and incompetence (both of which I think do have real consequences, though perhaps less than we assume), there’s very little to distinguish Trump from any other Republican president.

          • Enkidum says:

            Not sure it makes sense to regard this as bombing for purposes of distraction absent other evidence. AlQ had just killed 224 people including 12 Americans.

            Given that what they actually did was bomb a pharmaceutical factory, it was certainly incompetent, whether or not it was a distraction (and I think there’s a very plausible argument to say that it was used as a distraction – it’s not like we bombed in response to Boko Haram or even the Khmer Rouge).

          • JPNunez says:

            The point is that just because people complained about Reagan, Bush (either) before starting to complain about Trump, does not mean the old complaints were unwarranted.

          • Enkidum says:

            Oh, agreed 100% then.

      • k10293 says:

        I don’t have the time to reply to your whole post.

        But is there any place you disagree with the New York Times article you quoted? Bush had the worst long-term stretch of approval ratings for any president since polling began with the possible exception of Truman. Everything in the NYT quote is completely accurate and is fair to write within the context of the article it came from.

        The fact that one of the most hated presidents ever was called one of the most hated presidents ever, is not surprising. It should be expected.

    • A Definite Beta Guy says:

      Probably because things CAN get a lot eviler before they affect you, but it depends on who “you” are and what the person in charge wants to target. Presumably you are a run-of-the-mill blue triber with some additional neurotic tendencies and introversion, given that you post on SSC. That’s not really the target of the current administration, but you might be the target of the local police force if crime gets out of whack.

      Also, there’s absolutely the possibility of a one-off like Kent State that might affect you, given that you attend protests, but we’ve spent a lot of time over the last few decades trying to stop stuff like that. Then again, is Kent State “eviler” than the border camps. That’s a utilitarian judgement I am not qualified to answer, but it’s a different type of authoritarian political response.

      However, nothing about political discourse seems normal to me at all. There are some really positive things: I really like seeing multiple women, including minority women, running for President with credible chances. But I really don’t like “yeah, ban all private insurance!” being polite American political talk. Those people should just be called Commies and asked to leave the stage. Then again, you might not consider that evil, even though I do!

      • HeelBearCub says:

        Most Europeans are evil incarnate? Who knew.

        • EchoChaos says:

          Is there any European country that has banned private insurance?

          • Enkidum says:

            I think most of the Western world has banned opting out of public insurance. Which is not what @Beta Guy said, but I’m pretty sure is what he meant.

          • Matt M says:

            The United States also bans opting out of social security, medicare, Medicaid, and other forms of insurance.

            The only difference is how comprehensive the respective mandatory insurance schemes are.

          • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

            No, I think he probably meant what he said. One the one hand that’s not an uncommon opinion, on the other hand it’s approximately the situation in Canada AFAIK (presumably the reason people propose it in the US) and that doesn’t seem too terrible, on a third hand as EchoChaos suggests Canada is unique in in this regard and most countries with public healthcare also have private insurance available.

            The German system is an interesting example, because while it has partly banned private insurance (it is only available to high earners and freelancers), people who are allowed to get it *can* opt out of the public system.

          • Enkidum says:

            You can get private insurance in Canada. I have it.

            EDIT: It just can’t be spent on most medical procedures – it only covers whatever is not part of the public plan. Which basically includes a large chunk of prescriptions, some elective procedures, and dentistry.

          • John Schilling says:

            EDIT: It just can’t be spent on most medical procedures

            That seems a lot like saying you can get smartphones in North Korea, they just can’t connect to most networks.

            What a hundred million Americans are going to insist on in any proposed reform of the American health care system, is not the mere existence of something that meets some pedantic definition of “private health insurance”. They are going to insist on the average middle-class family being able to readily afford(*), after paying the increased taxes that pay for the new system, a private health insurance policy that pays for almost all of their medical procedures during their working life.

            * By which I really mean, “reasonably expect to have their employer pay for and pretend it’s not costing them anything”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @John Schilling:
            But question at hand is whether having a system like Canada’s is evil (or the UK’s, or most other European countries) not whether Americans have a status quo bias for the current system.

          • brad says:

            Quick googling didn’t find any stats, but my impression is that there are fewer people thrilled with their work provided health insurance than there were 10 years ago and it’s trending downwards. We seem to be approaching a time when the only employees with good health insurance are government employees, declining numbers of private sector union members, and employees of medium plus sized companies where a substantial majority of the employees make six figures.

          • John Schilling says:

            But question at hand is whether having a system like Canada’s is evil

            If you live anywhere in the Anglosphere and your defense against a charge of evil involves using highly nonstandard definitions of relevant terminology that Americans are going to be particularly motivated to call you out on, you might want to see if you can’t find a better defense or, barring that, see if you want to own the “evil” label.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @John Schilling:

            I didn’t use the evil label. Beta Guy did. In reference to calls for Medicare For All. That’s why this conversation is occurring.

            So unless you are saying that’s a standard definition of evil, I’m a little confused.

          • Enkidum says:

            They are going to insist on the average middle-class family being able to readily afford(*), after paying the increased taxes that pay for the new system, a private health insurance policy that pays for almost all of their medical procedures during their working life.

            I… really think you’re not acknowledging how much of an outlier the US is here.

            The reason you can’t use private insurance for most procedures in Canada (and many other countries) is because you literally cannot pay for them. They’re free. By law. (Yes, someone is about to go on about how they’re not really free because taxes etc etc etc, please don’t.)

            Any procedures that actually require payment (which consist of a few elective surgeries, most drugs (depending on province) and dental work), you can get all the private insurance you want for.

        • A Definite Beta Guy says:

          Evil incarnate? No. But they do a lot of things that fall in the “evil” camp.

          However, MFA is substantially more extreme than most other systems.

          • Enkidum says:

            Is it more extreme than the norm in other Western countries? (Not trying to start an argument here, I genuinely don’t know that much about the proposal – I’m happily Canadian so I gots mine.)

          • brad says:

            Medicare for all doesn’t by it’s nature require banning private insurance, though specific proposals may have that feature (I am deliberately avoiding the Democratic nomination circus until it gets smaller).

            The UK, which is further towards the socialism side than MFA (government provisioned vs single payer), still has private insurance.

    • HeelBearCub says:

      yeah Obama put kids in cages too and almost nobody cared back then

      I swear, the regurgitation of right wing talking points here … is it Stockholm syndrome or something?

      I suppose getting rained on is the same as being in the middle of the ocean. Hey, either way you are wet.

      This is simplistic thinking, when you can’t distinguish the size of the effect, nor similar effects from different causes.

      • John Schilling says:

        This is simplistic thinking, when you can’t distinguish the size of the effect,

        How many kids has Donald Trump put in cages? How many kids did Barack Obama put in cages? I honestly don’t know, and a quick google comes up with sources I’m not inclined to trust, but you are correct that this would be useful information.

        Also, presumably there is some number of caged kids where we are to start comparing the president to a Nazi, and I’d kind of like to know where you think that line is drawn as well.

        nor similar effects from different causes.

        If it served some noble cause when it was Barack Obama putting kids in cages, this too would be worth knowing. AFIK, it was in both cases “I need people who could plausibly vote for me, to believe that I have sufficiently Done Something about border security”.

        • Matt M says:

          How many kids has Donald Trump put in cages? How many kids did Barack Obama put in cages?

          And honestly, this question doesn’t really seem relevant to me unless you assume that the President can somehow control the amount of kids showing up at the border?

          If both Presidents have a policy of “every child that shows up gets thrown in a cage” and if the only difference between Trump and Obama is that under Trump, more showed up, to assign him any moral culpability for this requires you to prove that he is somehow doing something to cause more children to show up.

          • DeWitt says:

            And honestly, this question doesn’t really seem relevant to me unless you assume that the President can somehow control the amount of kids showing up at the border?

            He has power over the funding for the particular agencies involved. He has the power to tell ICE to do this or that. He has the ability to pardon illegal immigrants as he sees fit. He has the ability to do lots of things that aren’t throwing up your hands and declaring a stream of asylum applicants a fact of nature, something immutable that he surely has no way to affect.

        • Eponymous says:

          My understanding of the facts is as follows.

          The policy question is simply this: when people (illegally) cross the border, turn themselves in to CBP agents, and claim asylum, should they be placed in custody (for crossing the border illegally) and held until their claims are processed, or should they be detained until their hearings? As I understand it, that is the substantive difference between the policy under Obama, and the current policy.

          The poor conditions are a consequence of overcrowding and lack of resources, which existed under Obama, but is much greater under Trump due to this policy, which has lead to a large increase in the number of people detained by the CBP.

          The issue itself has only really been serious since 2014, when this approach to asylum seeking became widespread. This lead to serious backlogs in courts, and a shortage of appropriate facilities for holding unaccompanied minors at the time.

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            The issue itself has only really been serious since 2014, when this approach to asylum seeking became widespread.

            So in 2014, a new way of gaming our system became widespread. So we need to either abandon the immigration control system now that it’s been gamed, or do what the Trump Administration is doing.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            should they be placed in custody (for crossing the border illegally) and held until their claims are processed, or should they be detained until their hearings?

            I am seriously trying to understand the actual facts (which is darn near impossible), so I read carefully when Epon gave his understanding of the facts.

            But then nothing was cleared up when he said the above. Is there really a difference between placing someone in custody or detaining them? Could this be explained, please?

          • Eponymous says:

            @Mark

            Oops! I meant to write “…or should they be *released* until their hearing”.

            The policy that prevailed under Obama was that asylum seekers would be released (with certain exceptions) while their asylum claim was processed, even if they had technically broken the law by entering the US illegally (which is legal grounds for detaining them). Trump changed this policy.

            There’s a lengthier discussion of some of the relevant facts elsewhere in this thread.

            If you’re interested in some good reporting about what’s going on at the border, I found this NPR segment pretty informative, at least about some of the on-the-ground realities.

      • Deiseach says:

        I suppose getting rained on is the same as being in the middle of the ocean. Hey, either way you are wet.

        I don’t know, in my simple-minded mouth-breathing peasant way, I think it kinda sorta does matter when all the heart-wrenching photos of “look, look at the evil Trump administration putting sweet innocent children in cages!!!” come from the previous administration, and we never heard any of the same protesting about it.

      • BBA says:

        I was thinking more hard left talking points – specifically, there’s a particular commentator who described ICE as a fascist organization engaged in ethnic cleansing all the way back in 2015. I thought it was hyperbole at the time, and Obama was the best we could hope for. Now I think he was right and if the best we can hope for still has these fascistic ethnic cleansers acting in our name with our tax dollars… then I don’t even have a “then.”

        (Yes, the kids in cages are CBP jurisdiction, not ICE. Not the point.)

        @all, since I don’t have the willpower to respond to everyone one by one:

        Kids in cages was just an example, the only thing that got me to go out and protest. But protests don’t work, and neither does anything else.

        Anyway, you all know what really prompted this: Trump tweeted about the Squad, the rally chant is SEND HER BACK now, and people are fretting. I know there’s no point in fretting because we all know Trump is all talk and he’s never going to send her back, just like he won’t lock her up or build the wall. So it’s just totally hunky-dory that the President is talking about revoking the citizenship of his political enemies and deporting them to countries where they haven’t lived in decades (in Omar’s case) or at all (for the others), because it’s just talk. And the next politician who talks about it – that’ll just be talk too. And when it isn’t…

        Oh, but the law says the government can’t do that. Well, the law also says that selling cigarettes without a license is punishable by a fine, not by the death penalty. If all the law means is maybe a few years down the line you’ll get a consent decree and nominal money damages, and maybe you’ll get nothing, I won’t be putting my faith in it.

        Eh, whatever. I’m rich and white and none of this will ever affect me, so why should I care? Why do I care?

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Alternative theory: things are not that bad or that evil and media hysteria is just media hysteria? Also, I know someone who knows Yglesias in real life. He does not have charitable things to say about the man’s intelligence, and nothing I’ve ever read by Yglesias contradicts that sentiment.

      • A Definite Beta Guy says:

        Is the US blowing up weddings in Pakistan hysteria or an actual issue? the US can blow up a LOT of weddings before it affects me at all.
        Sure, that’s in Pakistan, but the same logic applies to over-aggressive policing in the Bronx or holding people without trial or whatever. The US Government can do all sorts of really bad things and it won’t affect me because I’m a wealthy white guy in the suburbs, which the US Government happens not to target right now.

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          That seems like a non-sequitur. I might as well have said “satanism in Dungeons and Dragons is just media hysteria” and you respond “well was Hitler just media hysteria or an actual issue?” Media hysteria is apparently not a thing because other things were real issues and not media hysteria?

          Maybe keep it at the object level. “Kids in cages in concentration camps” is media hysteria. Children unfortunately dragged through the desert by people breaking the law to get more money are being temporarily housed and cared for by Health & Human Services professionals until their almost certainly fraudulent asylum claims can be processed and they can be returned home. These are not nazis recruited by Trump to abuse children.

          The specific people to blame for the situation are the adults who dragged the children through the desert knowing full well this is dangerous and illegal. If you’re looking for some kind of collective guilt, how about starting with the Democrats and the left media that encourage people to do this by creating “sanctuary cities,” by dangling free services like free healthcare for illegals to entice them to come in, who make excuses for paying them under the table so they can get cheap tomatoes. Or, Democratic voters can pressure their representatives in Congress to change the laws. Either make the case for open borders meaning none of this is illegal and there’s no need for detention facilities, or build a wall and discourage people from coming here so there’s nobody to put in detention facilities.

          As it is, it’s like we’ve got people on bullhorns screaming “STEAL! WALK INTO STORES AND STEAL STUFF! TAKE IT WITHOUT PAYING!” and then when not very bright individuals do this and are arrested, crying about how evil the police are for enforcing the law.

          • DeWitt says:

            Children unfortunately dragged through the desert by people breaking the law to get more money are being temporarily housed and cared for by Health & Human Services professionals until their almost certainly fraudulent asylum claims can be processed and they can be returned home.

            That’s rich. The amount of asylum cases that gets approved is high enough that you’re not just wrong, you’re immensely, easily demonstrably, incredibly wrong. This is even in the current year, where the denial rate of asylum applications has mysteriously increased.

            These are not nazis recruited by Trump to abuse children.

            There haven’t been very many Nazis to recruit from since the 1940’s, but that’s okay, the way ICE employees talk when they think nobody’s looking is plenty chilling as it is.

            The specific people to blame for the situation are the adults who dragged the children through the desert knowing full well this is dangerous and illegal.

            Staying home and getting shot tends to be more dangerous, but sure. I’m willing to agree that asylum seekers know they go into danger.

          • Jaskologist says:

            If it was “easily demonstrably wrong” why didn’t you demonstrate it by including some sort of source, instead of the bald assertion?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            That’s rich. The amount of asylum cases that gets approved is high enough that you’re not just wrong, you’re immensely, easily demonstrably, incredibly wrong. This is even in the current year, where the denial rate of asylum applications has mysteriously increased.

            Can you do that, then? Every source I can find shows extremely low acceptance rates, but they may be biased.

            Staying home and getting shot tends to be more dangerous, but sure.

            Aren’t we on track to have something like a million illegals come to the US in 2019? They’d all be shot if they didn’t come here? That seems unlikely. South America’s not the best place, but it’s not that bad.

            Consider the viral photo of the father and child who were drowned trying to cross the river a month or so ago. They were not fleeing violence or starvation. The father had a job in a pizza parlor and the mother was a restaurant cashier. El Salvador has a relatively high murder rate, but it’s down lately. And nobody was threatening that family specifically:

            But in Altavista things have been relatively quiet of late. Several people confirmed that gangsters are around, but residents largely feel free to go about their lives and business untroubled.

            José Ovidio Lara, 23, who each day parks his bike at a corner with a basket of French bread for sale, said he’s never been bothered, not even for the “protection” fees gangs commonly demand from business owners upon threat of death.

            “No, they’ve never asked me,” Ovidio said, “and nor do I have anything to give them.”

            “This place was terrible before, but today one lives at peace,” agreed Pérez, who has run her pupusa business for 15 years, opening at 5 a.m. and closing at 11 p.m. “I would be lying if I told you the gangs mess with me. No, they don’t charge me rent.”

            Even if things were calm, Martínez, 25, and his 21-year-old wife Tania Vanessa Ávalos, who had been living with his mother, apparently felt that on their salaries working at a pizza parlor and as a restaurant cashier they would never be able to own one of those modest homes.

            They weren’t in danger. They weren’t starving. They just wanted money and now they’re dead. If you’re looking for somebody to blame, don’t look at me. I didn’t tell them to come. I didn’t make excuses for the people who come. I didn’t entice them with free benefits and flattering words. People like me said “don’t come. This is dangerous and illegal. Do not come.”

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Jaskologist:
            It looks like asylum claims are approved at a rate of somewhere between 40% to 50%.

          • JPNunez says:

            For the record, Chile is receiving a bunch of Venezuelan refugees.

            The thing is that the countries on the way from Venezuela to Chile already received a ton of venezuelan refugees. Our -right wing- president is trying to lower the number of asylum claims too, which some of the left wingers oppose, but the right wing hasn’t started the rethoric of “why don’t the refugees stay in colombia, instead of coming all the way to Chile” …yet.

            I don’t think it’s rare for refugees to go across countries to find desirable conditions.

          • Randy M says:

            I don’t think it’s rare for refugees to go across countries to find desirable conditions.

            I think you found the glue statement.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I want to know the rate for people who cross the border illegally, from Latin and South America. That refugees from the Syrian war or something are being granted asylum has nothing to do with whether or not South Americans are fleeing similar conditions.

            ETA: Also if we’re only looking at grant/deny rates that doesn’t include the people who don’t show up for their hearings because they know they’ll lose.

          • DeWitt says:

            If it was “easily demonstrably wrong” why didn’t you demonstrate it by including some sort of source, instead of the bald assertion?

            Conrad first. See HeelBearCub above for what taking the effort of all thirty seconds of Googling brings you.

            @Conrad

            Firstly, before anything else, you don’t know whether Oscar Ramirez would have become a fraudulent asylum seeker, rather than one more illegal immigrant. The first is a lot more fraudulent than the latter, which is criminal in the literal sense but much less duplicitous.

            Second, I don’t know why you keep going on about guilt, as I’d addressed that already, so I’m not going to speak of it again.

            Third, HeelBearCub’s link, again, shows decently high asylum acceptance rates. I’d grant acceptance rates of 5% (p<0.05) or lower as being extremely low, but I can't find a single way of how you'd get to such a point so you remain, as I'd said earlier, immensely, easily demonstrably, incredibly wrong about this in my eyes.

            Fourth, how is South America not that bad? Can you quantify this? Can you put a number on it? A lot of people are under very real threat of violence or starvation; there is, presumably, a number of them that apply for asylum in the United States. I don't have numbers on the amount for which this is true, because nobody has the amount for which this is true, but being honest that you don’t and can’t know this is a hell of a lot more productive than waving anecdotes into someone’s face.

            Edit because you added a brief post: the percentages add up to less than 100%, which I take to mean that the lost percentages are those people who do not in fact show up.

            (Surely people who don’t show up get summarily denied, anyhow?)

          • Jaskologist says:

            Thanks, HBC. That’s useful information. I do wonder if it will end up being scissor data.

          • albatross11 says:

            The link you provided looks to me like it showed about 39% of asylum cases in 2018 allowed the asylum seekers to stay in the US. Also, the overwhelming majority of asylum seekers seem to show up for trial–probably because they’re hoping to be allowed to say permanently and don’t want to screw that up by missing a hearing date.

            What this says to me is that:

            a. A majority of asylum seekers will be told to leave the US, but it’s not a huge majority–about 2 in 5 are allowed to stay.

            b. Asylum seekers skipping out on their trial doesn’t seem to be a big problem.

            Given those two, ISTM that the most sensible and humane policy would be to allow asylum seekers into the US with electronic monitoring devices until their hearings, and spend extra money trying to expedite the hearings so you don’t have people waiting around for too long to find out if they’re going to be allowed to stay. This still requires being willing to deport people who are denied asylum.

            What am I missing? Why wouldn’t this be a workable idea?

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            DeWitt,

            Is there anyone from El Salvador who should be denied asylum in the US because they have a murder rate of 50 per 100,000, which puts them right between Detroit and Baltimore?

          • DeWitt says:

            Conrad Honcho:

            Certainly, and judging from there being plenty of people whose applications are denied, this already happens.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            b. Asylum seekers skipping out on their trial doesn’t seem to be a big problem.

            That seems like outdated or confounded data. According to acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan, 90% of the recent border arrivals are not showing up for their hearings.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Just make sure we understand the context for this.

            Right now we’re all obsessed with the spike in asylum claims at the border, and that’s a serious problem that deserves our attention. But in terms of overall numbers, it’s a drop in the bucket. When the smoke has finally cleared, it’s unlikely that the current asylum crisis will change the number on the right by more than a tenth of a percentage point. In other words, 3.3 percent of the population instead of 3.2 percent.

            And this in the context where the undocumented percentage of the population has fallen from 4.1% in 2007.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I think the percentage continues to fall because while the US population is growing, the media’s been saying “11 million illegals in the US” for 30 years.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            Look at the graph. It was rising before 2007, and the peak is just before the recession. Population growth has some effect, but the bigger effect is economic conditions.

          • Controls Freak says:

            @albatross11

            Given those two, ISTM that the most sensible and humane policy would be to allow asylum seekers into the US with electronic monitoring devices until their hearings, and spend extra money trying to expedite the hearings so you don’t have people waiting around for too long to find out if they’re going to be allowed to stay. This still requires being willing to deport people who are denied asylum.

            What am I missing? Why wouldn’t this be a workable idea?

            We discussed this… almost a year ago now. Wow. Anyway, I pointed out that there are a variety of groups who already claim that electronic monitoring violates Due Process. I asked HBC whether he would be on board with an agreement where we just ignore those advocacy groups, do this, stop putting anyone in cages, and all go home happy. He quickly retreated to, ‘I don’t know.’ This solution doesn’t play with the left.

          • J Mann says:

            The other obvious compromise is to increase funding to make detention facilities (and facilities on the Mexican side of the border) nicer, and to speed up asylum decisions.

            That gets you shorted detentions in nicer condition, which is I assume better than nothing.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            I’m not sure that chart is relevant. If you follow the Mother Jones link to the data that’s only talking about Mexican citizens living illegally in the US. The number of illegal immigrants who are Mexican peaked in 2007 but has been steadily rising from other nations. Not everyone who comes across the border with Mexico is a Mexican.

          • souleater says:

            @ HeelBearCub

            It looks like asylum claims are approved at a rate of somewhere between 40% to 50%.

            Executive office immigration review DOJ page: 29

            Your statistic surprised me, and I wanted to check your work. The number seems correct, but neglects to account for the fact that south american countries only make up around 40% of the asylum claims. the data you linked to states that only around 14%-25% of south american asylum requests are being granted.

            DOJ Statistics Yearbook

          • Le Maistre Chat says:

            the data you linked to states that only around 14%-25% of south american asylum requests are being granted.

            Why so high? Are 14-25% of SA asylum claimants from Venezuela?

          • quanta413 says:

            The link you provided looks to me like it showed about 39% of asylum cases in 2018 allowed the asylum seekers to stay in the US. Also, the overwhelming majority of asylum seekers seem to show up for trial–probably because they’re hoping to be allowed to say permanently and don’t want to screw that up by missing a hearing date.

            Yeah, but like Conrad said that’s for every country. Also some people who get to stay aren’t actually granted asylum according to the link. The judge doesn’t bother ordering their deportation (EDIT: or grants relief for some other reason). Perhaps they’re not enough of a problem, perhaps they are a child, whatever.

            For formal asylum petitions in FY2018, if you look at the table for the 4 countries south of the border, the asylum grant rate ranges from about 1 in 6 to 1 in 4.

            While that doesn’t mean the average asylum grant is almost certainly fraudulent, it’s well past the preponderance standard for rejecting any random asylum application (before you know any details) being a reject and is into “clear and convincing” territory.

            Conrad was exaggerating by less than I would have expected.

          • HeelBearCub says:

            @Conrad Honcho:
            If you add together the numbers at the peak, it’s 12.2 million. In 2017 they add to 10.4 million.

            The number fell overall, although it’s driven by the fall in immigrants from Mexico.

          • albatross11 says:

            Okay, but if we could get to the point of release inside the US with electronic monitoring for asylum applicants, what would be wrong with it? I understand some activists somewhere would fight against it, but I’m interested in whether those activists would have a point–why would this not be acceptable?

          • DeWitt says:

            Do mind also that not being accepted is not the same thing as fraudulent. If I apply for asylum and get rejected because I can’t sufficiently prove my case, because the judge is having a bad day, because I’ve waited for a year and circumstances have changed, or lord knows why else, I become part of the rejected statistic, but I don’t think my claim should now also count as a fraudulent one.

          • quanta413 says:

            @DeWitt

            That sounds like a good argument to me. I doubt most people showing up have much idea about what immigration law is, meaning that unless they lie in an incredibly blatant and foolish manner they can’t be proved to be committing fraud unless fraud doesn’t require mens rea. Which maybe it doesn’t, I’m not a lawyer but that would surprise me.

            Still a rejection rate of 3 in 4 to 5 out of 6 is super high. I don’t see why holding people in the U.S. to adjudicate people’s claims if they didn’t follow proper procedure makes any sense with those sorts of rates. I don’t believe a judge can plausibly confirm much information about any individual case (trusting the applicant’s word with no proof seems foolish) if all the relevant information is in Guatemala which kind of makes the whole procedure sound like a joke. Likely there’s something I’m missing about how the judge could know, but it sounds like reading tea leaves to me. For all I know, the rejection rate should be 1 in 10 or it should be 9 out of 10.

          • DeWitt says:

            unless they lie in an incredibly blatant and foolish manner they can’t be proved to be committing fraud unless fraud doesn’t require mens rea. Which maybe it doesn’t, I’m not a lawyer but that would surprise me.

            It doesn’t. This is why, when this blog found gender way more interesting than immigration, rape was such a contentious topic: the amount of convictions is really low, the amount of demonstrably false accusers is really low, the amount of cases going nowhere is really high.

            Which – I don’t think you can improve that situation without it leading to some really ugly breaches of justice. Still few people believe rape trials are obviously some sort of joke, though by your standard, they clearly would be. Worse, rape at least has a grey area: if you were raped but can’t prove a damn thing because it devolves into he-said she-said, you don’t suffer any further negative consequences that having to go through a rape trial already does. If you apply for asylum in all the right ways and still get rejected because as it turns out, proving some nasty people might shoot you upon your return home is difficult, you don’t have that grey area: you don’t get double deported if you apply for asylum fraudulently.

          • quanta413 says:

            It doesn’t.

            I’d like a citation. Because I can find court rulings (e.g. Shaw v United States) for other types of fraud like bank fraud that say mens rea must be shown in those cases. Similarly for passport and via fraud (which seem similar), this government document on prosecuting implies a mens rea requirement. I can’t find anything about asylum fraud specifically. As far as I can tell if they told the truth, but if the truth wasn’t sufficient for an asylum claim it would be crazy if petitioning without knowledge that the truth fulfilled the legal rules was fraud (compared to how other types of fraud are defined).

            Normally it’s only a lie if you don’t believe it. Which is why I say they’d have to say something incredibly blatant and crazy (and thus it was obvious that they were lying) to be able to prove they were lying about something occurring in another country to a typical person who’s never in the news. That or the law is crazy and will punish you for telling the truth or accidentally filling a form out wrong.

            Still few people believe rape trials are obviously some sort of joke, though by your standard, they clearly would be.

            I probably wouldn’t put it that way about a rape trial, but I didn’t mean that a trial where the judge determines whether a person is lying about an asylum petition with no evidence at hand is a funny joke. More a dark and kafkaesque one.

            I agree much the same is going to apply to any rape trial that boils down to one person says one thing and the other says the opposite. The judge and jury will be doing little better than guessing upon base rates. This is bad.

            Worse, rape at least has a grey area: if you were raped but can’t prove a damn thing because it devolves into he-said she-said, you don’t suffer any further negative consequences that having to go through a rape trial already does. If you apply for asylum in all the right ways and still get rejected because as it turns out, proving some nasty people might shoot you upon your return home is difficult, you don’t have that grey area: you don’t get double deported if you apply for asylum fraudulently

            Sure, I agree the consequences could be very bad for some people who claimed asylum if their petition fails. But it seems like an unfortunate but necessary consequence if you want to have any sort of vaguely effective immigration control. If the default outcome of any claim for asylum where the recipient can’t prove what happened to them and the U.S. government couldn’t disprove it was acceptance of the claim, then the entire immigration system could collapse. It wouldn’t take a large fraction of people lying who wanted to come to the U.S. If a few % of people who would like to immigrate were willing to lie for such an immense gain, that could be millions of people. Living standards in the U.S. are an order of magnitude higher than many other countries. Even if most people are 99% honest, that’s a hell of an incentive.

          • DeWitt says:

            I don’t know how that it doesn’t got through, and I can’t edit it out now, but yeah, you’re right. My post wouldn’t make sense if I disagreed.

            In general, I think we’re in agreement enough here: things are definitely very bad, in part because of the way western justice systems tend to work, but unless we want to directly tamper with those principles, there may not be a very good solution out there.

          • quanta413 says:

            Asylum acceptance isn’t quite the same as criminal or civil justice though so doing things in a non-individualized manner wouldn’t be as tradition breaking. In cases, where little documentation exists the U.S. could do things like set quotas by country/persecuted group and use lotteries if the quota is lower than demand for asylum. That at least could process claims faster and in a relatively unbiased manner.

            I’ve briefly thought about how one could imagine adjusting rape trials before, but haven’t thought of anything not terrible or not previously thought of and tried. Like shielding the accuser from questions about sexual conduct in previous relationships. I think that’s already true in many states. And I’ve read about a weird case where a law led to evidence about the relationship in question being withheld at trial when it seemed obviously relevant to the accused’s guilt. My vague memory is that a higher court decided the law was improperly applied or too vague, but that might not be right either.

      • Matt says:

        I’ll just leave this here.

        TLDR – Sugar is bad, so I support additional taxes on the diet soda I’m addicted to.

    • MorningGaul says:

      Warning: heavy sarcasm, because i dont know how to react to these claims otherwise.

      But he’s established a template less ridiculous people could follow.

      I cant wait for future nefarious wannabe tyrants to take after the guy that didnt made up stories of baby-impaling to invade a country, that didnt bomb civilians in Yugoslavia, that didnt made up stories of MWD to re-invade a country, and that didnt ramp up drone bombing of civilians.

      Instead they’ll take after the guy who spew bullshit on twitter and cant even muster support for a wall.

      If that’s true, Trump deserves a nobel peace prize more than Obama ever did.

    • albatross11 says:

      Yeah, this is how I felt when the torture scandal broke, and instead of high-ranking administration officials wearing orange jumpsuits and the president resigning in disgrace, it became another talking-heads debate topic for fifteen minutes and then everyone moved on to the latest celebrity scandal. Or when the revelation of massive illegal wiretapping in the New York Times (story conveniently delayed until after the election, lest the American people have a voice in the matter) led to no consequences for anyone and all the media talking heads having debates about the matter for a week or two till they lost interest.

      I worry about the same thing w.r.t. Trump–he says awful things but he’s ineffectual and mainly just wants to bluster and make a good (to him) image, but the next guy may actually know how to work the levers of power, and we’ll have normalized everything horrible done by the Trump, Obama, and Bush administrations, so he’ll have plenty of tools at his disposal.

    • cassander says:

      Trump himself is mostly a phony, with no knowledge of or interest in, how the government actually operates and no real bona fides in military or law enforcement work.

      Funny, that’s exactly how I’d describe matt Yglesias.

      it just makes me wonder, how much worse could things get, how much eviller could we be, before it actually affects me?

      You could wonder that. Or you could maybe wonder “have things really gotten worse?”, which I think would be a much more fruitful inquiry. The fact of the matter is that, particularly for government, most things don’t change that quickly, and what does change tends to be the things that were already changing, not things the president decides to change.

      • thisheavenlyconjugation says:

        I think we can all agree that Matt Yglesias is also not qualified to be president. Luckily, he isn’t.

        • cassander says:

          he also isn’t qualified to be the expert on government he positions himself as, but more to the point, I have no doubt that Yglesias, if pressed, would consider himself more qualified to be president than trump. He isn’t.

          • hyperboloid says:

            Who would you point to as a conservative commentator who is better informed than Yglesias?

            There is a difference between disagreeing with someone and thinking they’re stupid. For instance David Friedman has ideas that I and think are very silly, an opinion I suspect shared by basically everybody who isn’t an anarcho-capitalist. Nobody in their right mind would ever believe he’s stupid, just a man who’s subject to very powerful cognitive biases on certain specific issues.

            Trump on the other hand is not just wrong on questions of policy, nor is merely a man with vast moral failings, the fact is that he has obvious cognitive problems.

            Bellow are some selected quotes from his social media summit a while back that show what Trump sounds like without a teleprompter. Watch the video if you don’t believe me.

            On Dan Scavino, white house social media director:

            So right at the beginning, I said, “That’s the man.” And there was nobody better at that. And I think Hillary had 28 people, and I had Dan. Right? I had my Dan! And he works about 28 hours a day, and he works very hard. But he doesn’t work. I mean, he loves it. He loves it. And his imagination, and really working with all of you, and many of you. He’ll come up with ideas, and you’ll come up with ideas. And he’ll run into my office, he says, “You got to see this.” And a lot of times I’ll go out, and I’ll spend a lot of money on a concept. I’ll say, “Here’s a concept. Come up with this.” And we’ll hire these companies, and they want a lot of money, and they come back. Just happened the other day, right? I said, “That’s terrible. These guys have no talent.”

            The people that have the talent are the people that we deal with. And it’s true, and some of you are extraordinary. I can’t say everybody, but no, but some of you are extraordinary. The crap you think of is unbelievable. Unbelievable.

            On his apparent belief that Twitter is blocking people from following him (or at least that’s what I think he’s going on about):

            But I’ll tell you, a lot of bad things are happening. I have people come up to me: “Sir, we want to follow you. They don’t let us on.”

            And it was so different than it was even six, seven months ago. I was picking up unbelievable amounts of people. And I’m hotter now than I was then, OK? Because you know, you also cool off, right? You do. But I’m much hotter. Especially with a nice, new stock market like it is. Right?

            But no. I’m hotter now, and I go to Dan, I say, “Hey, what’s going on here?” It used to take me a short number of days to pick up 100,000 people. I’m not complaining; we’re like at 60-some-odd million. But then we have five different sites. We have another site with 25 million. We have another site with 10 or 12. Then we have Facebook. Then we have Instagram. We have a lot!

            We got a lot of people. Way, way over 100 million, but I used to pick them up… And when I say “used to,” I’m talking about a few months ago. I was picking them up, a hundred thousand people every, very short period of time. Now, it’s, I would say, ten times as long. And I notice things happening when I put out something—a good one, that people like, right? Good tweet. It goes up. It used to go up, it would say 7,000, 7,008, 7,000, 7,017, 7,024, 7,032, 7,044. Right?

            Now it goes, 7,000, 7,008, 6,998. Then they go, 7,009, 6,074. I said, “What’s going on?” Now, it never did that before. It goes up, and then they take it down. Then it goes up. I’d never had that. Does anyone know what I’m talking about with this? I never had that before. I used to watch it. It’d be like a rocket ship when I put out a beauty. Like when I said, remember I said somebody was spying on me? That thing was like a rocket. I get a call two minutes later: “Did you say that?”

            I said, “Yeah, I said that.”

            “Well, it’s exploding. It’s exploding.”

            I turned out to be right. I turned out to be right. We turned out to be right about a lot of things. But I never had it.

            On his the weather and his hair:

            We had, on the Mall just the other day, 4th of July, a tremendous success. It was pouring. The weather was just… It was beautiful in one way. They learned it was my real hair that day, because I was drenched. Well, that is the one good thing. I ran, and they learned it’s my hair.

            Because I’ve been through every windstorm, sandstorm. Let’s go over here. Let’s go. This one, that one. This desert. Let’s go to this ocean, and get out of the plane, sir. The wind is blowing at about 70 miles an hour. I said, “Boy, it’s gotta be… It’s gotta be mine.”

            But, uh, but we’ve seen it all. We’ve seen it all.

            The sad part is that Trump didn’t used to sound like this. Take for instance this 1987 interview with Larry King. Even then I wouldn’t call the man well informed, and it’s a lot of the same kind of tough guy nationalist talking points, but at least he is coherent.

            The truth is our dear leader is a rambling senile old man who barely knows what’s going on around him. On average a randomly selected person off the street would be more qualified to be president than Trump.

          • J Mann says:

            Who would you point to as a conservative commentator who is better informed than Yglesias?

            There’s a whole group of commentators like Yglasias – fairly smart journalists who don’t have a particular area of expertise and write about everything. (Or if they do have an area of actual expertise, they don’t stick to it). They’re often interesting and often wrong, especially if you disagree with them. (For example, Klein, Yglesias, McCardle, Douthat, Salam).

            There are some commentators on all sides that I would call better informed when writing within their actual field, and there are some generalists who I find better informed, but that is probably more about my biases than a reliable judgment.

          • Aapje says:

            @hyperboloid

            A lot of that seems to be because Trump is horrible at communicating, though.

            For example, that Dan Scavino quote is a fairly consistent story about how Dan is this superman who can do it all, if you compensate for the shitty phrasing. Take this bit: “And he works about 28 hours a day, and he works very hard. But he doesn’t work. I mean, he loves it. He loves it.”

            The coherent way to phrase this is: “he works very hard, but it doesn’t feel like work to him, because he loves his work”

            Trump turns this into a mess of words because he doesn’t seem to have a filter, but what he seems to want to express at that moment doesn’t seem insane or stupid.

    • Eponymous says:

      Gah. Everything is awful and everything is broken, and we are all personally responsible for it all. I can’t fix anything, but at least I can spend every waking moment feeling terrible about my complicity in all this. That’s something, right?

      I don’t think you need to feel complicit. It’s true that we live in a democracy, and thus we (in a collective sense) bear responsibility for the acts of our government. But this responsibility is shared by a great number of people, and thus reduced, particularly if you personally did not support these policies or the people who put them into effect.

      It’s true that there is a responsibility to political engagement and agitation, arising in the extreme to violent rebellion; but I think we are well short of that point, and reasonable engagement in political activity opposing these policies should fully absolve you of complicity in them.

      And on the whole, if everyday life strikes you as normal, all the better! Take that as evidence that perhaps things are not nearly as bad as you assume.

    • brad says:

      The wonk left is getting hoodwinked by the Latino wing of the Democratic Party.

      I won’t say the claims are all fraudulent because conditions in many Latin American countries aren’t very good. But if we look at the legal definition:

      a person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality or, in the case of a person having no nationality, is outside any country in which such person last habitually resided, and who is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion

      the central example is not a family from Guatemala that fled poverty and gang violence and is now at the southern border of the United States. I’m sorry but it isn’t.

      Inasmuch as we have a limited capacity to absorb migrants there’s a zero sum game. In terms of the humanitarian component of that we should prioritize the most needy rather than letting those that have the resources and/or geographic advantage to be able to make their way to the border or inside the country, steal spots from people waiting in refugee camps around the world that are far more horrific than what are histrionically being called concentration camps in the US.

      What’s true for asylees vs refugees is even more dramatically true in the case out of outright queue jumpers. Dreamers are one thing, but I’m seeing all kinds of over the top rhetoric about ICE raids targeting recently arrived families with final orders of deportation. If that’s not okay, then what is? A system that is de facto once you’re in, you’re in of course is going to produce deaths in the desert, brutal smuggling networks, corrupt border guards and so on. And meanwhile we are using up that limited capacity on cheaters rather than those we decide we want to let in based on various criteria.

      Copenhagen ethics may be a reasonable thing for an individual to do (“think globally, act locally”) but it is not at all a reasonable way to run a country of 320 million people. We can and should be more thoughtful and less driven by whatever pictures happen to show up in the news this week.

      • HeelBearCub says:

        We can and should be more thoughtful and less driven by whatever pictures happen to show up in the news this week.

        I’ll agree with the “should” part. Can we though?

        Absent some sort of sea change that allows a transformation so that the culture as a whole is resistant to and disapproving of this kind of coverage, I don’t see how it’s possible. Especially when that kind of sober, reflective process is regarded as the province of “the elite”. I’m not seeing a way forward to that kind of collective cultural model in a culture that so prizes individualism and free speech.

      • Eternaltraveler says:

        Brad says…

        +1

      • dick says:

        But if we look at the legal definition … the central example is not a family from Guatemala that fled poverty and gang violence and is now at the southern border of the United States. I’m sorry but it isn’t.

        According to that definition, no, but Andrew Sullivan recently claimed that the courts have widened the criteria significantly in the last few years:

        But somehow the courts have decided that you qualify for asylum if there is simply widespread crime or violence where you live… This so expands the idea of asylum, in my view, as to render it meaningless. Courts have also expanded asylum to include domestic violence, determining that women in abusive relationships are a “particular social group” and thereby qualify.

        Many people here talk as if the central example of an asylum-seeker is an intentional criminal, aware that their claim is bogus and fully planning on going underground at the first opportunity. That seems crazy; people just don’t do that en masse. I think the central example is someone who thinks (possibly erroneously) that they have a realistic claim, and if asked to explain why, would tell you about some experience they’ve suffered that, while it might not fit the definition you quoted, is pretty legitimately horrible and might fit the expanded definitions of the courts.

        • brad says:

          I don’t blame the asylum applicants for giving it a shot. Heck even the border jumpers, which I’ve labeled cheaters, it’s hard to have animus towards.

          What I’m angry about are knowledgeable left-leaning people willfully refusing to think at the system level. Refusing to think about trade offs, unintended consequences, and the unseen. Reveling in child-like obsession with what’s been deliberately put in front of their faces and what feels right when they ignore everything else.

        • John Schilling says:

          Many people here talk as if the central example of an asylum-seeker is an intentional criminal, aware that their claim is bogus and fully planning on going underground at the first opportunity. That seems crazy; people just don’t do that en masse.

          Why don’t they, though? If a crime is profitable, and never punished, and not considered morally wrong, why don’t people do that en masse?

          Immigrating to the United States is immensely profitable and has been for over a century, but tempered by the fact that it is a difficult and uncertain process. If word gets out that the easy way is to show up with a sob story of oppression, promise to appear in court, and then cut and run as soon as no one is looking, why wouldn’t people do that en masse? If “going underground” means living openly in a sanctuary city, with a drivers’ license and an apartment and a good job, full access to social services, US citizenship for your kids, the tolerance and protection of the local police, and media-boosted warnings of the rare ICE raid, the legal immigration process is going to look a lot less appealing for anyone on the margins.

          As a libertarian, I kind of favor the existence of communities like this, but even I can’t argue that there isn’t a huge incentive for lawbreaking here and that, if someone thinks it is at all useful to have border control laws, you’re not going to be able to sell them on this as an enforcement policy.

  17. Falacer says:

    Does anyone know of a good Android battery statistic app? My phone battery has been draining in suspicious ways and I’d like something that gives more detailed information than the inbuilt battery application. The app store is littered with junk apps and most review sites are also junk, so I was wondering if anyone had a good experience with something like that.

    • JPNunez says:

      I normally get by with the built in battery monitor. Got a Huawei P20 right now, a Motorola (don’t remember the model) and a Galaxy Note 2, so your mileage may vary with your phone.

      Most of the time the answer was…I was using too much the browser or twitter. Lowering your screen brightness may help. My P20 offers a number of power saving modes which are pretty good, including one that just turns the phone into a dumb phone that does almost nothing. The less agressive power saving mode is very good too.

  18. Eric Rall says:

    Scott has mentioned UpToDate a few times (most recently in today’s post about gabapentinoids), as a search/aggregation tool for clinical practice guidelines and new medical research.

    It sounds interesting, but I fear they may have missed out on a huge opportunity by failing to name it “UpDoc”.

  19. Levantine says:

    A week ago, someone posted a YT video expressing the common viewpoint that
    “the more women entered the workforce, the price of those jobs would go down.”
    It reminded me that a few months ago I came across an economist’s argument that that belief is completely wrong.

    I had my focus elsewhere, so I didn’t read what his argument actually said… and now it’s difficult for me to find it.
    I’d like to be pointed to intelligent arguments that the increase of womens’ participation in the workforce did not cause lowering of wages.

    Also, if you have a strong view on this matter, you’re welcome to express it.

    • J Mann says:

      More women in the workforce = more stuff produced, so it’s not obvious that the participation results in less stuff earned per hour.

      (Of course, it might mean that, if you assume declining marginal capacity to produce additional stuff as we add more workers, but if we don’t have that, then there’s no reason to assume that increased workforce participation will lead to declining real wages.)

      • quanta413 says:

        But women produced lots of stuff before officially entering the workforce. So I think it must be more complicated than that. You need to figure out how to account for the economic value of what women produced when it wasn’t measured as easily by surveying employers.

        • albatross11 says:

          Yeah, I suspect there was a lot of on-paper increase in GDP caused by women entering the workforce that was way overstated, because it didn’t account for moving some actions from unpaid to paid. The biggest entry here is childcare, but there’s also cooking, cleaning, elder care, and a whole bunch of organization of the home and the neighborhood.

          I’m sure there was still a net increase in produced wealth, but I bet it was smaller than the statistics showed for this reason.

        • J Mann says:

          The OP didn’t ask for correct arguments, only intelligent ones. 😉

          Seriously,

          (1) Given that women entering the workforce is voluntary and I understand women staying out of most jobs to be somewhat involuntary, I’m going to guess that overall, the post-liberalization activities are more productive than the earlier activities, at least from an economic standpoint. There are also likely to be efficiencies as women moved from household employment, which doesn’t allow as much specialization of labor, to the formal workforce.

          (2) To the extent the shift comes at the expense of less leisure (women and to a much lesser extent men pick up the household employment after hours or shift some of it to children), then there’s more “stuff” in terms of wages, although less leisure.

          (3) But yeah, you’re right – my guess the actual answer to “does women entering the workforce lower average wages” is “somewhat*, but not as much as you might think**”, but I’m not super confident without data or at least hearing from David Friedman. 🙂

          * Based on declining marginal productivity and the reasons you state.

          ** Based on the reasons I state.

    • Randy M says:

      (Neither an expert, nor a very strong view, answering anyway)
      You are increasing the pool of labor, so the price of labor should decrease. Supply and demand. But of course it isn’t that simple when looking at any particular job.

      If the career was gated behind a particular education, like a doctor or lawyer, and there would be a delay, or even no change in labor supply if it increased the pool of candidates but not of applicants accepted to medical school. If women are capable of being a doctor/lawyer (and certainly many are, and many men aren’t) then over time there may be a large fraction of the profession that are women, but not necessarily any sharp increase in total number.

      Manual laborers probably saw neither increase in wages nor in competition, since they were low paid but women face a significant physical disadvantage. Retail clerks making minimum wage would have seen more competition, but if they were making minimum wage, obviously pay wouldn’t decrease. But we’d expect other concessions elsewhere, like worse insurance or less flexible hours, etc. (But I’m not sure retail was ever really male dominated?)

      But if you are a factory worker, and, say, 10% of the town might be qualified and interested in your job, and then suddenly 20% is, your bargaining position is going to plummet. And unless the industry expands to require additional positions, you’ll at least not see your wages rise. Some products might see that expansion just because of the labor increase–automobiles, say, now that mom needs to drive to work too. Some won’t–you don’t need two televisions just because both spouses work, and you don’t necessarily have doubled the income, since your wages are going down over time.

      Something that might offset this is if older men started to retire earlier. I’ve seen it argued that this was the trend at the time.

    • Deiseach says:

      Mmm – early industrialisation did produce complaints along the lines of “My fiancé cannot afford to marry me because his employer has replaced him with a lady clerk, due to being able to pay her lower wages” and certainly there was the attitude that, while a man needed higher wages because he was, or would be, the breadwinner for a family, a woman would eventually get married (and so give up her job) and be supported by her husband, so why pay her the same rate?

      In modern terms this probably has disappeared, though the marriage bar/ban did hang on until the early 70s, but it does seem to be that women do work fewer hours (greater involvement in part-time work, taking time off for pregnancy and family, and so on) and that over the course of a career this does mean a difference.

      I’ve also heard the anecdotal “as soon as more women than men started studying X, the attitude changed from it being a serious science to it being more like an arts degree”, and that women in X profession get paid less and treated less seriously, but I have no idea how true that is in factual terms.

      • Aapje says:

        In modern terms this probably has disappeared

        The evidence currently quite strongly points to there still being a substantially stronger expectation on men to bring home a decent income. Interestingly, the more women earn, the less willing they are to date poor earning partners, unlike men. This suggests a strong reluctance by women to subsidize men in return for other contributions to the relationship, but not so much vice versa.

        I’ve also heard the anecdotal “as soon as more women than men started studying X, the attitude changed from it being a serious science to it being more like an arts degree”, and that women in X profession get paid less and treated less seriously, but I have no idea how true that is in factual terms.

        Well, the evidence also points to women wanting their job to be more pleasant, rather than well-paying. Women are less willing to commute, less willing to work overtime, less willing to work full time, etc, etc. The majority of the gender wage gap is provably due to choices like that.

        Furthermore, women seem to favor non-monetary compensation more than men, which means that women’s compensation seems smaller, because they tend to get less in take-home pay and compensation in other forms.

        So if women enter an occupation in large numbers, then you’d expect more part time workers and workers with career gaps & thus less experienced workers, a smaller willingness to ‘do what it takes,’ etc.

        In science, we see that female scientists tend to take the lead in research much less than men, probably because that requires a level of effort/investment that men far more often have. So if women flood a field, you might see a lot of low effort science, which is probably often shitty science, since good science is much harder than bad science.

        • Clutzy says:

          Another example is the medical field, where the problem is so bad that some have advocated a sort of reverse AA for men in medicine. Women retire early or stop working full time at rates where, in some cases you have to train 2 women for every one man to duplicate the value that each produces to the public.

          • Aapje says:

            Interestingly, my country has been moving to greatly increasing college loans, which may be a covert way to coerce women into working more, to get a better (or even just positive) ROI from their expensive education.

          • DeWitt says:

            Occam’s razor. The VVD has been pre-eminent for nearly a decade now, and they’re not shy about disliking (the wrong kind of, you guys) government spending.

          • Aapje says:

            The VVD doesn’t have a majority in parliament. The labor party (PvdA), greens (GroenLinks) and social-liberals (D66) backed the plan. The responsible secretary of state was a member of the labor party.

            You can’t just pin this on the VVD.

          • Matt says:

            Anecdote: My aunt started her medical training as a non-traditional student (began in her thirties), became a cardiac surgeon, and retired before age 50.

            She doesn’t have a family to support – her husband served in the Marines until he was able to retire with a pension, then worked for the Post Office until he was able to retire with another pension, then worked in the private sector for a while, until he retired ‘for real’.

            He’s got 1 kid but they have no kids together.

        • Deiseach says:

          The evidence currently quite strongly points to there still being a substantially stronger expectation on men to bring home a decent income.

          Ah, sorry, I didn’t make myself clear. I meant merely that nowadays, due to both social expectations and legislative interventions, an employer can no longer get awy with nakedly stating “If I employ John Smith for this job, I’ll pay him $12 an hour, if I employ Jane Smith for the same job, I’ll pay her $8 an hour”. Culturally, I agree that the expectation is that men will earn at least the same and generally more than their spouse/partner.

          Women are less willing to commute, less willing to work overtime, less willing to work full time, etc, etc. The majority of the gender wage gap is provably due to choices like that. …In science, we see that female scientists tend to take the lead in research much less than men, probably because that requires a level of effort/investment that men far more often have. So if women flood a field, you might see a lot of low effort science, which is probably often shitty science, since good science is much harder than bad science.

          Part of the “less willing to commute” and so on is, as J Mann says, due to the fact that women come home from the job and pick up the household/family responsibilities. It becomes a chicken-and-egg problem: Jane Smith is the one who is taking time off from work/working part-time because she has to bring the kids to doctor’s appointments and elderly parent(s) to hospital and other tasks, and Jane does this rather than John because John’s job is more important and higher-paying and it’s frowned upon for men to do this. But John’s job is more important and higher-paying because he can devote time to it whole-time since Jane is picking up the slack (e.g. making the doctor’s appointment for him, collecting medicine from the chemist and so on), and the reason this is frowned upon for men is the underlying assumption that “this is your wife’s responsibility”.

          I’ve seen the half-joking suggestion that what working women need, to be successful in the same way as male peers, is a wife to do all this so they can lean in and spend the same time working, travelling and advancing their careers.

          As to the shitty science, ahem. Let’s not make any assumptions about relative intelligence or ability, mmmkay?

          • Aapje says:

            It becomes a chicken-and-egg problem: Jane Smith is the one who is taking time off from work/working part-time because she has to bring the kids to doctor’s appointments and elderly parent(s) to hospital and other tasks, and Jane does this rather than John because John’s job is more important and higher-paying and it’s frowned upon for men to do this.

            Women far more often make life choices that facilitate a more caring-focused life before they have children and before their parents are retired. Your narrative papers over why John has an “important and higher-paying” job in the first place. It also doesn’t explain why women who do have an important and high-paying job are way more likely to want to work part time than men who those jobs.

            Men don’t seem to get very much credit for caring (or just being pretty) from women. The research strongly suggests that women care way more about their partner’s earnings than men do. 71% of women with income of more than $95,000 per year vs 14% of men with those incomes consider it essential for their partner to have a steady income.

            Again, not just desirable, but essential. Presumably that means that a partner without a steady income has almost chance for a relationship with them.

            A man who makes life choices that create a large risk of a shitty or uncertain income, like many women do, will risk not meeting a ‘essential’ partner demand that 62-74% of women have (it differs by income level) and will be considered lacking by most other women (who almost all have a steady income as a ‘desirable’ property in a partner).

            It seems to me that men are simply providing what women demand most strongly (just like women often do by wearing make-up and dressing in a more sexy way).

            As to the shitty science, ahem. Let’s not make any assumptions about relative intelligence or ability, mmmkay?

            ???

            I didn’t discuss intelligence or inherent ability anywhere in my comment. Just better performance coming from investing more hours and other such choices.

          • DarkTigger says:

            Part of the “less willing to commute” and so on is, as J Mann says, due to the fact that women come home from the job and pick up the household/family responsibilities. It becomes a chicken-and-egg problem: Jane Smith is the one who is taking time off from work/working part-time because she has to bring the kids to doctor’s appointments and elderly parent(s) to hospital and other tasks, and Jane does this rather than John because John’s job is more important and higher-paying and it’s frowned upon for men to do this.

            I thought so to, but it turned out that (at least here in Germany) even single childless women are 30% more likely to do part time work, than an average man.

          • DinoNerd says:

            I’ve seen the half-joking suggestion that what working women need, to be successful in the same way as male peers, is a wife to do all this so they can lean in and spend the same time working, travelling and advancing their careers.

            I wonder whether lesbians tend to have better career success than childless heterosexual women?

    • Eric Rall says:

      There’s an argument to be made that women’s increased participation in the workforce caused stagnation in men’s wages. Several years back, I looked at BLS statistics for individual income (as opposed to the household income statistics published by the Census Bureau). They have breakdowns by age, gender, and employment status (part time/seasonal, full time, or combined).

      The data series are here. Check the boxes for these three series, then click through and add graphs and expand the date range to 1979-present:
      Constant (1982-84) Median wkly earnings, Emp FT, Wage & sal wrkrs – LEU0252881600
      Constant (1982-84) Median wkly earnings, Emp FT, Wage & sal wrkrs, Men – LEU0252881900
      Constant (1982-84) Median wkly earnings, Emp FT, Wage & sal wrkrs, Women – LEU0252882800

      Based on that, inflation-adjusted median wages have trended up slightly (about 15% total over almost 30 years) since a low point in the early 1980s. But wages for men have more-or-less stagnated over the same time period, while wages for women have almost monatonically increased (by about 30% over 30 years).

      Caveats: this data appears to only report cash wages, not including benefits. And it’s inflation adjusted by CPI-U, which overstates inflation relative to more modern inflation metrics (PCE and chained CPI): the gap is small from year-to-year, but it’s large enough that inflation-adjusted wage/compensations numbers appear to tell a very different story depending on which index you use. Also, the graphs indicate correlation, but not necessarily causation.

      • Deiseach says:

        I would expect, simply from increasing the pool of available labour, that wages would remain at the same level or go down. Whether you’re admitting women or immigrants or twelve year olds to the labour force, before if there were 100 jobs and 95 potential employees, you needed to raise wages to get the applicants to apply to your company/factory rather than your competitor. Now if there are 100 jobs and 150 potential employees, you can tell the guy demanding a raise “if you don’t like it, you’re free to leave, I can easily replace you”.

        • hyperboloid says:

          I think that’s is an example of what’s often called the “lump of work” fallacy, basically the mistake of thinking that the economy contains a fixed number of jobs.

          Think about it this way, any business is basically the sum of it’s employees and capital. For instance In the example of a manufacturing concern the capital is the machines used in production, and perhaps some amount of intellectual property. Now if there was only one factory with only one set of machines then indeed adding more workers to the economy would give the factory owner leverage to drive down wages, but happily there is no reason why the amount of capital in the economy is fixed.

          The factory and everything in it was made by human labor, form the lathes and presses to the very bricks in the walls. More workers means more people to create capital goods, more capital goods means more jobs for workers creating consumer goods, and as more goods are produced the standard of living should rise. Put simply: Thomas Malthus was wrong and Adam Smith was right.

          So why have have men’s wages stagnated, despite the fact that women joined the work force,which in principle should have increased productivity?

          There are several factors in the wage stagnation we’ve seen across the developed world, many of them having to do with changing patterns of global trade and the decline in the labor movement. Nevertheless, I suspect that a large part of it is a trick of accounting.

          In a patriarchal society that believes that a woman’s place is in the home a married man does not consume his whole paycheck. Ozzie goes to work in the morning, Harriet stays home cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the kids. Since he pays for the consumption of the whole household the “wage’ for her adds up to some percentage of his income. In a society where both work he gets an invisible raise from not having to provide fer her.

          • Aapje says:

            In a society where both work he gets an invisible raise from not having to provide fer her.

            Unless the expectation to provide goes up as the household income increases.

    • RalMirrorAd says:

      I can only guess that the argument would be:
      An increase in labor demand drives increased labor participation which also corresponds with
      or
      An increase in labor supply doesn’t sufficiently drive down prices.

      I don’t know if they’re arguing that an exogenous increase in labor supply wouldn’t suppress wages or at least wage growth.

  20. EchoChaos says:

    This was mentioned by Conrad Honcho this thread and in the even OT, but since it touches a bit on the Culture War, it probably fits better here.

    Ursula von der Leyen, who has the best Bond villain name of any EC President since Jean-Claude Juncker, has seven children. This would be relatively high for America and is apparently very notable for Germany, especially for a high-achieving woman.

    Having lots of children used to be a norm throughout the developed world, but is now seen as weird and fringe. When did this change come about? Why is it prevalent on both sides of the culture war?

    Note that both sides have high fertility subpopulations, but the average number of kids between Democrats and Republicans is not notably different.

    Add-on question to rationalists here: Do most rationalists think that having your own kids is a good thing? Bad thing? Neutral?

    • Le Maistre Chat says:

      Good thing.

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      Note that both sides have high fertility subpopulations, but the average number of kids between Democrats and Republicans is not notably different.

      Red states have 41% more kids than blue states though.

      • EchoChaos says:

        Interesting. I will have to correct myself. I thought that the difference between the two was mostly noise.

        I wonder if that’s “kid having” blue couples moving to cheaper red states.

        • Plumber says:

          @EchoChaos,
          I don’t think it’s that, I think it’s that some registered Democrats just aren’t full “Blue-Tribe” for elected examples the anti-abortion Democrat Governor of Louisiana and well, just about every Democrat in West Virginia, but really it’s mostly African-Americans and Hispanics especially the one’s who live in Red-States, and once again I’ll cite:

          The Democratic Electorate on Twitter Is Not the Actual Democratic Electorate

          .If every registered Democrat was full “Blue-Tribe” the birthrate would be even lower.

          As I see it you have the mostly young adult, urban, college educated, and secular “Blue-Tribe”, who are mostly white, and mostly Democrats, and you have everyone else, which is the Red-Tribe.

          Some American (DOS) blacks are “Blue-Tribe”, but most aren’t (especially the one’s who live in the old Confederacy, including returnees), but almost all are Democrats (over nine-in-ten that vote).

          Not overwhelmingly, but still the majority of Hispanics are Democrats (that can vote), but they’re mostly big family and religious which to me is the primary “Red-Tribe” signifier.

          My guess is that because of their higher birthrates even without more immigrantion Hispanics will continue to grow as a percentage of the population, and in time more will become either Republican or “Blue-Tribe” like the Irish, Italians, Poles, and Portuguese have (a few will be both, but that’s rarer than Red-Tribe Democrats).

          As I think of it, it goes > new immigrant family (who just like a hundred years ago tend to vote for Democrats) and then > Blue-Tribe or > Republican one to four generations later (Asian immigrant families usually make the transition faster), the exception is African-Americans who’re sort of been mostly frozen into second generation immigrant status for over 150 years.

          This dichotomy is also why Democratic Party economics are (slightly) more popular but Republicans cultural/social leanings are (slightly) more popular i.e. Californians in 2008 voting both to ban gay marriage and to elect Obama.

          That’s how I make sense of it anyway.

          • EchoChaos says:

            My guess is that because of their higher birthrates even without more immigrantion Hispanics will continue to grow as a percentage of the population, and in time more will become either Republican or “Blue-Tribe” like the Irish, Italians, Poles, and Portuguese have (a few will be both, but that’s rarer than Red-Tribe Democrats).

            Almost certainly true. I’ve heard (don’t have a link on hand) that Trump actually won English-only Hispanics and was pretty close amongst the bilingual. It was Hillary’s dominance of Spanish-only Hispanics that gave her the edge.

          • Plumber says:

            @EchoChaos,
            Also (IIRC) I saw some polls that indicated that older male Hispanics were more likely to vote for Trump than other Hispanics, which is also true of non-Hispanic whites, but for some reason the “age-gap” and “gender-gap” were even stronger among Hispanics.

            It’s probably correlated with other factors, such as married fathers of daughters tending to lean Republican, and non-black frequent chuch-goers leaning Republican, or just the effect of being a young woman combined with being a Hispanic more strongly leaning Democratic.

            Predicting what the future holds is tricky though as correlations change (it wasn’t too long ago that college graduates were more likely to be Republicans), and what the parties stand for change, 40 years ago there were a lot more “pro-choice” Republicans, and “pro-life” Democrats than now when only a very few elected anti-abortion Democrats and pro-abortion Republicans are left, and just ten years ago more elected Republicans were pro-free trade than were elected Democrats.

            I really can’t tell how it will shake out.

          • EchoChaos says:

            @Plumber

            Making predictions is hard, especially about the future.

          • Mark V Anderson says:

            I’ve heard (don’t have a link on hand) that Trump actually won English-only Hispanics and was pretty close amongst the bilingual.

            Wait a minute. I thought the definition of Hispanics was that Spanish was their native language or at least equal to English growing up. To me “English-only Hispanics” is an oxymoron. Are we now defining Hispanics as those with Spanish sounding surnames, or descendants of Spanish speakers?

          • Plumber says:

            @Mark V Anderson >“…Are we now defining Hispanics as those with Spanish sounding surnames, or descendants of Spanish speakers?”

            That’s usually what the term seems to mean, IIRC I’ve even seen “Spanish surname” as a demographic category on employment application forms.

    • J Mann says:

      “Ursula von der Leyen, who has the best Bond villain name of any EC President since Jean-Claude Juncker”

      It’s a better Bond villain name, because the Teutonic roots indicate that she’ll start evil, but the pun indicates she’ll either flirt with him prior to trying to kill him (if truly evil), or reform and smash him so hard that he ignores the congratulatory call from M at the end of the movie in favor of additional smashing.

    • Nick says:

      The introduction of artificial birth control, no? I’m sorry, but isn’t that the obvious answer?

      • EchoChaos says:

        You mean specifically the pill, I assume, because artificial birth control dates to the Romans at least.

        That is definitely a big deal, but why would big families become actively weird rather than just unusual?

        My mother comes from five kids, my family has four so far, etc. It used to be a lot of people had lots of kids and those who didn’t want kids can now not have them.

        Is there a revealed preference for very few kids?

        • Nick says:

          I’ve heard a lot of different professed reasons for considering it weird. E.g.:
          1. You can’t provide for that many kids, or won’t have the time to properly raise them, so folks who have that many kids are irresponsible.
          2. Go forth and multiply is a religious thing, so folks who do must be really religious.
          3. Overpopulation fears. My impression is that this was a really big deal among technocrats intellectuals back in like the 70s, and I’m not sure it’s totally worn off.
          4. Educated and/or gainfully employed women would never choose to have so many kids. If a family has that many kids, it’s only because the mother is being mistreated. See Macron, whose comments I linked just the other day.

          • EchoChaos says:

            Which is why it is so interesting for a clearly massively successful and capable woman to have so many, and seems like it would be celebrated as an exception rather than weird.

            Thanks for those comments, which I did not see yesterday.

          • salvorhardin says:

            Yeah, basically these cover it and are not mutually exclusive. Having >4 kids these days is either very low-class (because you’re a religious lunatic or otherwise unemancipated) or very high-class (because you’re rich enough that you can afford a whole staff of nannies to do all the hard care work for you). Angelina Jolie is one well-known example of the latter, notwithstanding the adoption thing; there are other recent examples among e.g. tech executives. Note that age as well as wealth matters; if you not only have a lot of kids but started having them before college graduation, you are automatically low-class.

      • dick says:

        That and the rise of women working full-time jobs, which seem like somewhat inextricably linked phenomena.

    • Randy M says:

      Even if overpopulation isn’t a problem right now, eventually it probably will be. I get that people are resources and can find ways of improving food production and other luxuries, but I don’t think the way of life will be very pleasant in the not too distant future if seven children were the norm.

      I’m also distrustful of efforts to control the population level via governmental action. So while I think children and families are conductive to happiness and long term joy, the dropping of the fertility level to about replacement level may be for the best.

      Provided that the reduction is roughly equal across the globe. Even discounting any dysgenic fears, having some populations surge relative to others seems quite unstable in a world of easy travel. As the adage goes, the future belongs to those who show up for it.

      • EchoChaos says:

        But for birth rate to be at replacement, given that your bell curve truncates on the left at zero, you need a bunch of substantially above average people.

        Germany especially, given that its birthrate is substantially below replacement, should be happy for successful people with seven kids to exist, rather than calling them weird.

        • Randy M says:

          Oh, sure, and if we could, we’d be among those high end, large families.

          Possibly if there is stigma against large families now, it is people being bad about thinking about statistics, and feeling that the large families are defecting, rather than making up for those with fewer.

    • Phigment says:

      I don’t have any particularly insightful science to back this up, but I kind of figure it’s a matter of increasing urbanization.

      Lots of animals tend to reproduce less if they’re in crowded conditions than if the population density is low.

      Modern society is concentrating humans into relatively dense cities, so the impulse to have big families goes down.

    • Machine Interface says:

      Having lots of children used to be a norm throughout the developed world, but is now seen as weird and fringe. When did this change come about? Why is it prevalent on both sides of the culture war?

      I’m confused, are you just now finding out about the demographic transition?

      It seems to be a fairly easy problem: people used to have lots of kids because child mortality was high and so having 7+ kids was the only way to ensure that at least one or two of them survive to adulthood. With the introduction of modern medicine and vaccines, child mortality is plumeting, and birth rates naturally follow suit with some lag — so you get a phase of demographic explosion where a lot of people are having a lot of kids who all survive to adulthood — but this is not historically normal, it only seems “traditional” because that’s where the west was until fairly recently. But since having seven *living* kids is unmanageable for most couples who want to have some money and free time left, soon the birthrate readjusts to fit the reduced mortality rate.

      Conservative or liberal ideologies are completely irrelevant here: this is happening everywhere. You can type in google “birth rate [country name]” and it will directly give you the curve for that country. You’ll see that the curves are significantly trending down virtually everywhere, in the poorest Sub-Saharan or South-Asian countries, in harsh dictatorships and islamic theocracies alike. Projections predict that the world average birth rate will be at or slightly below replacement rate by 2100.

      • EchoChaos says:

        No, not at all. I am aware of the demographic transition (although sub-Saharan Africa is going through it slower than expected).

        I am specifically curious about the comment saying it was a negative relative to a clearly skilled and professional woman.

    • Viliam says:

      Do most rationalists think that having your own kids is a good thing? Bad thing? Neutral?

      It’s a multiplayer Prisonner’s Dilemma. If smart people refuse to have kids because life without them is more convenient, they should blame themselves if no one resurrects their frozen brains in the future, because the world will go the way of Idiocracy.

      If you think your existence is a benefit to the world, then existence of people similar to you, i.e. your kids, is likely a benefit to the world, too.

      If you think that your existence makes the world worse… I consider thinking about the possibility that this is your depression speaking, not rationality.

  21. S_J says:

    This week is the 50th anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin accomplishing the first Lunar Landing in history.

    Among the things that I remember is that the New York Times–the most influential newspaper in America at that time–published a correction to a 1920s opinion piece, in light of the Apollo launches.

    In January of 1920, the Times published an editorial stating that rockets could not be used to take scientific instruments outside the Earth’s atmosphere, or to the Moon. Robert Goddard, a target of this particular editorial, had been proposing the use of rockets to send instrument-laden probes out into space.

    This appears to be the text of that editorial. The main point of reaction in the editorial was that a rocket motor needed air resistance to generate thrust. Goddard wrote several articles in response, arguing that the rocket would generate thrust even in a perfect vacuum, according to Newton’s laws of motion.

    What I find astonishing is that the Times didn’t issue its correction when the Soviet Union used a rocket to launch Sputnik, and carry it outside the atmosphere. Or when NASA used a rocket to launch the Explorer probes, or used rockets to put Mercury astronauts into orbit. Or when Apollo 8 used rockets to travel to the Moon, orbit it, and return.

    Each of those events was evidence that rockets worked in a vacuum, and evidence that Goddard had been correct.

    No, the Times waited until the Apollo 11 module had launched.

    The 1920 editorial is, in my mind, an example of popular understanding of science being very inaccurate…and of major news organs not putting much effort into figuring out whether their analysis was biased, flawed, or faulty.

    The 1969 correction is a humorous acknowledgement of that error. It may have led to an improvement in science-reporting, but I doubt that it led to a general reduction of biased analysis in news sources.

    • Eric Rall says:

      No, the Times waited until the Apollo 11 module had launched.

      At a guess, the Times staff had completely forgotten about that editorial long before Sputnik. Sputnik 1 was launched in 1957, 37 years after the editorial, and rather a lot had happened in the meantime.

      Probably either someone at NASA called up a contact at the Times to tease them about the 1920 editorial (more likely NASA would have remembered the article, give Goddard’s foundational role in America rocketry), or an NYT editor asked for an archive search for things they’d previously published about rocketry and space exploration in hopes of finding fodder for more Apollo-related articles, and that search turned up the 1920 editorial.

    • chrisminor0008 says:

      It looks more like science reporting has always been terrible and always will be.

    • Well... says:

      No, the Times waited until the Apollo 11 module had launched.

      Why, it’s…it’s almost as if the Times is just a collection of writings by people who majored in English instead of in anything relevant to rocket science!

      • acymetric says:

        How many English majors do you think were working at the NYT in 1920? Heck, even in 1969? It didn’t really become a popular major until more recently.

        • Well... says:

          A decent number might have been in 1969. In 1920 I don’t know. Clearly none of them had the relevant scientific knowledge.

    • SamChevre says:

      I think that’s a bad example of “news getting its facts wrong”; I am nearly certain that “rockets require air resistance” was the scientific consensus.

      I’m nearly certain because I remember reading that explanation in the 1929 Encyclopedia Britannica that I grew up with–and that was definitely written by experts.

  22. Plumber says:

    Something that came up in a post below is what could Sanders actually get done if President, and I want to expand this to all the leading candidates.

    Trump is President, and I expect more of the same if he’s re-elected.

    Biden I’d expect to “Hold the fort” and basically try ti keep everything October 2016 as much as possible.

    Harris I can’t even tell what she consistantly supports, I really have no idea.

    Sanders is ambitious, but other than bully pulpit stuff, I don’t see him getting much past the Senate, maybe not even the House.

    Warren I could see maybe getting a bit more done, but I could also see a giant backlash that loses the House for Democrats.

    So I ask both the hopeful and the fearful, who will get done what, how will congress be shaped?

    • Conrad Honcho says:

      I think for all of the Democratic candidates, large portions of their platforms (as much as they’ve been fleshed out at this point) rely on legislative action. Free college. Medicare for All. Free heatlhcare for illegals. Kamala Harris wants a large sum of money for minority housing. UBI for Yang.

      This was my complaint about Sanders in 2016: He was running to be King of the Legislature. His plan was to win the bully pulpit, and then yell at congress to enact legislation. But Bernie, you’re already a Senator. You can draft the legislation for free college right now, get a fellow traveler in the House to sponsor a similar bill and start screaming. No Presidency required.

      Trump was the only one who seemed to have an idea of what the Executive Branch does. His platform was “BUILD WALL. DEPORT ILLEGALS. BEAT CHINA. KILL REGULATIONS. BOMB THE SH*T OUT OF ISIS. KILL TPP. KILL PARIS ACCORD. BAN MUSLIMS.” With the exception of “build wall” all of this is stuff is already doable with powers granted to the executive branch. Tariffs and trade. Military. The regulatory state. Treaties. Enforcement of immigration laws.

      About the only thing I the Dem candidates have said they’d do I can really see them accomplishing is the decriminalization of illegal immigration by simply telling the border patrol and ICE to stop doing their jobs. Beyond that they need congress, and they need a congress willing to do rather extreme things they may not be willing to do, like Medicare for All.

      The main prediction I have for Trump’s second term, though, is he will rip the band-aid off and withdraw fully from Afghanistan. He won’t mention this during the campaign because they’re still negotiating with the Taliban, and telling them “just hold out and we’ll leave anyway” is not a good idea. And he won’t do it before the election because there will undoubtedly be sympathetic Afghans killed when we leave and CNN will put every last one of them on TV. But I think he very much wants to leave office with Americans in fewer war zones than when he entered.

      • Matt M says:

        Eh, I think that sort of nuance is overrated.

        A society that elects Bernie as President is a society that is actively stating “Give us more socialism now!” That society will either also vote for enough Bernie-sympathetic legislators that Congress will be composed of people who agree with Bernie enough to do what he wants, or the existing legislators will notice the winds shifting, and adapt their own policies to be more Bernielike, out of fear that not doing so will get them primaried/voted out next time around.

        Like, I remember having these arguments with other Ron Paul supporters in 2008/12. My position was always that it was more important to stress the ideas than RP himself, because even if I could somehow like, hack the voting machines to make it so that Ron Paul became President, he’d be President of a country that still didn’t agree with his core beliefs, and therefore unable to get much done. To me, the issue is less “We need to get Ron Paul elected President” and more “We need to provide enough convincing arguments to produce a society that wants to elect Ron Paul.”

        • Conrad Honcho says:

          Electing Trump didn’t convince congress to fund a wall, though. Because it’s against the economic interests of the corporations and wealthy individuals who fund congressional campaigns. The same is true with regards for, say, Medicare for All: good luck beating the insurance industry.

          ETA: And I’m not saying the lobbyists directly bribe legislators. I’m saying the wealthy don’t give money to candidates who don’t share their interests.

          • salvorhardin says:

            The alternative hypothesis is that funding a wall is in fact fairly unpopular on an overall national level (as Trump himself is consistently unpopular, with approval ratings basically never rising above 50%), and Congress, while a very imperfect reflection of policy popularity, is nonetheless a better reflection than the Presidency. How would you distinguish the two?

            [Bias acknowledgement: I think the Presidency should be substantially disempowered relative to the other branches of government, and yes, I felt that just as strongly under Obama, not only because of the unrepresentativeness of Presidential elections but also on the general principle that concentrating that much power in any single person is a recipe for tyrannical abuses.]

          • Thomas Jorgensen says:

            Medicare for all burns the medical insurance industry to the ground, but it would be in the interest of most of the rest of corporate america, simply on the grounds that health insurance would no longer be their problem, and managing a business is in large part about the economy of attention.

          • Medicare for all burns the medical insurance industry to the ground

            That depends on the quality of the Medicare. If there are long waiting lines, or if many of the ablest doctors are unwilling to accept Medicare rates, there will still be a market for private medical services and insurance to pay for them.

          • Conrad Honcho says:

            There might be a market for it, but Bernie’s plan outlaws private health insurance. At the debate, Kamala Harris said she also supported that, but then backtracked later, claiming to misunderstand the question.

  23. nevernot says:

    Is Facebook’s new poker AI really the best in the world?

    Facebook released a paper and blog post about a new AI called Pluribus that can beat human pros. The paper title (in Science!) calls it “superhuman”, and the popular media is using words like “unbeatable”.

    But I think this is overblown.

    If you look at the confidence intervals in the FB blog post above, you’ll see that while Pluribus was definitely better against the human pros on average, Linus Loeliger “was down 0.5 bb/100 (standard error of 1.0 bb/100).” The post also mentions that “Loeliger is considered by many to be the best player in the world at six-player no-limit Hold’em cash games.” Given that prior, and the data, I’d assign something like a 65-75% probability that Pluribus is actually better than Loeliger. That’s certainly impressive. But it’s not “superhuman”.

    I don’t know enough about poker or the AIVAT technique they used for variation reduction to get much deeper into this. How do people quantify the skill difference across the pros now?

    I’m also a bit skeptical about the compensation scheme that was adopted – if the human players were compensated for anything other than the exact inverse of the outcome metric they’re using, I’d find that shady – but the paper didn’t include those details.

    Thoughts?

    • Jon S says:

      My background: semi-professional from about 2003-2008, when online poker was to varying degrees shooting fish in a barrel. Firmly out of the loop since then.

      My gut opinion the skill difference between the top player and the 10th best player is insignificant (and the 100th best player isn’t a huge distance away). I think the sample size in the published data is large enough to conclude that Pluribus is better than this group of humans, but small enough that it’s not surprising for some of the humans to have results within a standard deviation or two of 0.

    • LesHapablap says:

      Calling it ‘unbeatable’ would be more accurate than saying it is superhuman or the best in the world. The reason being that the bot is not designed to exploit weak opponents, whereas the best player in the world (or really any top pro) is excellent at beating weak opponents.

      So it depends on how you define best in the world: makes the most money sitting at average mid or high stakes tables, or can beat the best players in the world heads up and in a group?

      The fact is though that if this bot were used online in 2012 it could easily have made $400k a year, the limiting factor being discretion more than anything else. The amount of people that could have potentially and sustainably made $400k per year in 2012 would have been something like 1 out of *200,000. So to me that means super-human. On top of that, being able to beat the best in the world at a 6-handed table would also make it super-human.

      *maybe 1/2000 smart enough, 1/20 with enough work ethic and emotional control, 1/5 lucky enough to get the right learning experience

  24. FrankistGeorgist says:

    I’m starting to get into chocolate tempering/molding and making my own chocolate assortments for gifts/meditative pleasure.

    So, de gustibus non disputandem est:

    In a box of assorted chocolates, which treats are the best, which are the worst?

    And perhaps more informative, what do you wish was covered in chocolate more often?

    The current winner is definitely chocolate covered pistachio brittle. I’m trying to develop a soft pistachio brittle (like the interior of the bougie-est butterfinger imaginable) but it’s quite a needle to thread without commercial pistachio butter.

    • b_jonas says:

      I eat the full spectrum of chocolate, anything between very dark full of cocoa to light brown milk chocolate, and even white chocolate. I like the variation in them, sometimes feel like eating dark chocolate, other times milk chocolate and white chocolate. I really like chocolate truffles, and chocolates of similar taste.

      I really dislike chocolate that involves salt or salmiak, salty crackers, coffee, liquor filling, or caramel. I find those combinations of tastes alien and hard to tolerate. I slightly dislike chocolate that involves coconuts, pistachio, almond, marzipan, cranberry, or jelly candies. They don’t clash with chocolate, but they are better to eat them separately from chocolate than to dilute the taste of pure chocolate with them. I do often eat chocolate with sweet wafers, hazelnuts, or raisins, and sometimes with lemon or orange rind, and like those combinations, but also don’t want to always eat chocolate like that, sometimes I do want pure chocolate.

      The most common such combinations are various wafer bars with chocolate cream filling such as Balaton szelet or the Keks bar, or chocolate Neapolitaner wafers such as the Ziegler one. Both of these have several alternating layers of chocolate cream and wafers, the difference is which layer is on the outside. Rarely I also eat cake slices, in which dark chocolate is a very useful ingredient. Good ingredients to combine with chocolate in cakes include sponge pastry as in the Dobos torta, walnut-based pastry, strawberry jam, apricot jam, butter, honey. With all these and the original dark chocolate Túró rudi available, I can’t name anything else that I wish was covered by chocolate more often.

      For special celebrations, my favourite sort of chocolate to eat in small quantities is Lindt milk chocolate balls with the soft chocolate filling, in the red wrapper. For everyday pure chocolate, I like Milka chocolate, specifically the alpenmilch, white chocolate, white+milk mixes, and raisin+nuts.

      • b_jonas says:

        I forgot one surprising combination. Milk chocolate with rice is quite nice. And it’s not common enough, which is why I forgot. So my answer to what I wish was covered with chocolate more often is rice.

    • Randy M says:

      Oh, great question.
      Fruit cremes are good. Toffee, molasses chips, great. Nuts can be okay. Chewy is usually terrible, and I personally don’t like coffee flavor.

    • Deiseach says:

      In a box of assorted chocolates, which treats are the best, which are the worst?

      Well, different chocolate selections have different varieties so it’s hard to say what is the best or worst, but for my own personal opinion I do not get the craze for salted caramel. It seems to be flavour of the month right now and you get Salted Caramel Everything.

      I like salt, and I like caramel, but I like them separately.

      • FrankistGeorgist says:

        I feel like salted caramel has been flavor hegemon for nigh-on a decade at this point. It’s kind of remarkable actually.

    • Hoopyfreud says:

      Orange, mint, and chili-flavored dark chocolates are by far my favorites. I dislike the combo of chocolates and nuts. I think that chocolate-coated mint leaves really should happen.

      • Nick says:

        Big fan of the mint and dark chocolate combo. I’ve had orange and dark chocolate and it’s all right.

    • Zephalinda says:

      Sorry, salt-haters upthread, but chocolate-covered ridged potato chips are delicious.

      FrankistGeorgist, can I ask what chocolate tempering method you use, and how long it took you to perfect it? I’ve made a couple half-hearted stabs at tempering chocolate over the years and it seems to never ever come out right.

      • FrankistGeorgist says:

        I got an Anova sous vide circulator last year when I was in a super tiny New York apartment as a space saver, so I use the method for sous vide chocolate tempering on serious eats. Which I would honestly call full proof.

        The Pros are you can temper a truly bafflingly large amount of chocolate, and you can temper different kinds in different bags all at once (I especially like Valrhona’s “inspiration” lines, which is white chocolate blended with freeze dried fruit for a very pure strawberry or passionfruit flavor – very fun to play with).

        The other huge benefit is that you can hold the chocolate, tempered and at temp, indefinitely. Much easier to have everything else in order when you’re not rushing before the chocolate sets. The risk is water destroys chocolate so you’ve got to tread carefully.

        Before that I’d used the seed method or the microwave and it wasn’t great but never disastrous.

        • Zephalinda says:

          Which I would honestly call full proof.

          Grr, I tried this exact thing last year and it totally didn’t work for me. First the chocolate stayed in temper, but was nowhere near runny enough to dip anything in (barely squeezed out of the pouch). Then I tried it again, with more squeezing, and it didn’t temper at all.

          I think I have a chocolate… black thumb?

      • Deiseach says:

        chocolate-covered ridged potato chips

        I’m torn between THIS IS THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION and “this is the best thing to happen to potatoes since butter!”

        It would depend on the chocolate and the crisps, I imagine: plain or salted? any other flavours? milk or dark? If the crisps were too greasy it would be terrible 🙁

    • Gossage Vardebedian says:

      In my house, the chocolates involving fruit never get eaten. We all seem to prefer nuts. Personally, I find chili powder, citrus zest, coffee, and certain herbs like coriander to be great additives, usually with medium to dark chocolate, of course – in the 50-75% range.

      Mint is great too, and while I prefer spearmint, and it seems to be used most frequently, other mints might be worth experimenting with.

    • Aapje says:

      My favorite chocolate fillings are:
      – mint
      – hard liquor + cherries
      rum + sugar
      – hard caramel/toffee
      – hazelnut

      Of course, the liquid fillings require making a mold, making a base first, filling it once it is set and then closing the container later.

    • DinoNerd says:

      I’m fond of many of the soft filling types (=? truffles), but some are boring. Cherry fillings (real fruit, not just cherry flavoured creams) are a great surprise. I like dark chocolate outside, but a box should have a mix including milk chocolate and white chocolate. I love dark chocolate coated candied ginger, but never find it in boxes of chocolates. There should be one or two mint fillings in the box. A few nuts are good to give a variety of textures – having only truffles in your box is a bit boring. Chocolate filled with chocolate is kind of meh. Coffee fillings are good though.

  25. Nancy Lebovitz says:

    Intentional Weight Loss and Longevity in Overweight Patients with Type 2 Diabetes: A Population-Based Cohort Study

    “Overall, weight loss regardless of intention was an independent risk factor for increased all-cause mortality (P<0.01). The adjusted hazard ratio for all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, and cardiovascular morbidity attributable to an intentional weight loss of 1 kg/year was 1.20 (95%CI 0.97–1.50, P = 0.10), 1.26 (0.93–1.72, P = 0.14), and 1.06 (0.79–1.42, P = 0.71), respectively. Limiting the analysis to include only those patients who survived the first 2 years after the monitoring period did not substantially change these estimates. A non-linear spline estimate indicated a V-like association between weight change and all-cause mortality, suggesting the best prognosis for those who maintained their weight."

    • DarkTigger says:

      Sorry, your link seems to be broken.

    • Zephalinda says:

      Does not look like they have adjusted for anything like enough confounders in that study. There are so many available interpretations with causality going in the opposite direction, or coming from some third variable, that I kind of wonder why they bothered.

      • metacelsus says:

        I agree. Many potentially fatal problems can cause weight loss before they kill you.

        • DarkTigger says:

          I would agrue that the fact that the “no intention to loose weight”-group having lost more weight on average, than the “intention to loose weight”-weight, both relative to baseline and in absolute numbers gives us a very good explanation for the effect: “Unintended/involuntary weight loss is an sign that something is wrong with your body.”
          Just as every other instace of the obesity paradox.

      • Nancy Lebovitz says:

        They might have been responding to the idea that weight loss is so good for people– especially fat people with type 2– that it just gets recommended without further thought.

        Also, doesn’t sorting out the people who intend to loss weight control for at least some confounders?

  26. Watchman says:

    Apropos of nothing much I was wondering what the best time to post on a open thread would be to get this best quality of responses. The current set-up of newest post first means early posts end up at the bottom of a large pile of comments, whilst the regular turnover of open threads means that conversation on late posts is likely curtailed by the next thread. Logically there must be a sweet spot between these two extremes, unless all commentators do ensure they read every post.

    And yes, I’m aware that the quality of the original post might affect the quality of responses. This is very definitely an all-else-being-equal question!

    • bean says:

      That’s a good question, and one I no longer have the answer to. When Naval Gazing was on SSC (before the switch to newest-first) I had a lot of early posts, and definitely found that the higher I was in the thread, the more engagement I got. My posting time was essentially random within the first few hours. These days, I rarely post top-level comments, so I don’t have data on newest-first beyond the anecdotal evidence that the distribution is a lot flatter.

      I’d still suspect that getting in fairly early is a good idea. Enough people read every post that you’re likely to get engagement if it’s interesting. There’s enough new posts that you’re not going to stay within a few screens of the top for too long unless you’re really late/get lucky in people above you not attracting a lot of comments, and in that case, probably better to have eyes on it for as long as you can.

      • Nick says:

        I think one of the biggest factors is not getting buried by other top-level posts. If you get the first post in but three other folks get one in the next few minutes, yours could languish at the bottom or well into the middle, especially if one of the slightly later posts encourages short, fast replies. If your post is the first top level post for two hours, meanwhile, a lot of folks will respond because it’s the first they scrolled to. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s very predictable. Like, it’s not even very common for a rush of top level posts to appear right when a new thread begins—I’ve sometimes landed on it to find it empty for 10+ minutes, or with only one or two posts.

    • Well... says:

      I don’t know how helpful this is, but here’s how I read the OTs:

      Step 1. When they’re new, I read and respond to them top to bottom (newest to oldest), immediately collapsing ones I’m not interested in. Once I reach the bottom, I’m done for that session.

      Step 2. When I come back, sometimes I’ll hit cmd+F and search upward for my handle, so that in 2 or 3 clicks it’s cycled down to the bottom (oldest) comment. If anyone has responded to my comment, and I wish to respond back, I do so. Then I search upward again until I reach the top of the page.

      Step 3. Then I’ll read back down as I did in my first session, stopping once I’ve reached an OP I recognize as having already read.

      Sometimes steps 2 and 3 are reversed.

      Step 4. Sometimes I’ll get on a “I’m gonna not be addicted to the internet anymore!” kick and quit reading SSC or anything else other than my email for one to (I think my record so far is) maybe 30 days. Obviously, during that time I don’t read anything here.

  27. James says:

    A long shot, but does anyone know of a literal translation of Petrarch’s Canzionere into English, either in prose or unrhymed verse? I couldn’t find one. Right now I’m working from Penguin’s bilingual edition with a facing-page translation, which is OK, but the translation is distorted quite a lot to get it to rhyme. This is annoying for me as I’m basically using the translation as a crib/gloss for the originals, so for my purposes the closer it is to the original the better. (Aren’t people doing this the target audience for a bilingual edition? So it seems strange to have a rhymed translation. But whatever.)

    Seems like the sort of thing that should exist be in some anthology somewhere, but I couldn’t find one.

    • Deiseach says:

      This is online, and I don’t know enough Italian (or any Italian at all, to be honest) to judge if it’s a literal translation, but the English version doesn’t seem to be forcing a rhyme so could it be what you want?

      • James says:

        Ah, that looks good, thankyou! I hadn’t thought to look online rather than in books.

        I don’t like reading at my computer but I will see if I can wrangle it onto my ereader.

      • Rebecca Friedman says:

        It’s pretty good but not perfect. In the linked poem

        “quand’era in parte altr’uom da quel ch’i’ sono,” is translated “when I was partly other than I am,” but it’s actually “when there was in part a different man than that who I am” – ie, when I was, in part, a different person, so it isn’t wrong on gist, I would just translate a bit more literally.

        And “il mio primo giovenile errore” is “my first youthful error” rather than “my first vagrant youthfulness” and that’s all I spotted in the first quatrain.* Second has bounced the last line to the beginning, and speranze (hopes) is plural in the original, “ove sia chi” is “where he is who…” rather than “in those…”

        Ma ben veggio or sí come al popol tutto
        favola fui gran tempo, onde sovente
        di me mesdesmo meco mi vergogno;

        His translation

        Yet I see clearly now I have become
        an old tale amongst all these people, so that
        it often makes me ashamed of myself;

        My hyper-literal translation

        But well I see now how to all the people
        A fable I was for a long time, such that often
        Of myself I[,] with myself[,] am ashamed

        But note mine flows much less well, since I’m being hyper literal. (And am not a professional.)

        Note that several of his nouns in the last stanza – vanities, remorse, and knowledge – are more or less verbs in the original (infinitive used as a noun). Vaneggiare is hard to translate, but being vain or dealing with/focusing on vanities is pretty good, pentersi is to repent, and conoscer chiaramente is to know clearly – I’d probably make it repenting and knowing in English, and look up a longer list of cognates/think more for vaneggiare. So “and of my [vaneggiare] shame is the fruit/and repenting, and knowing clearly/how much pleasure in the world is a brief dream.”

        (But it’s an unusual construction – compare “how was the swimming at the beach today?” – and I understand why he made the choice he did.)

        Sadly I don’t have any recommendations for something even more literal – by the time I ran across Petrarch I needed to practice my Italian, so I never looked at translations – but there’s what I can give you on exactly how precise this is. It’s good but not perfect; the above are the kind of things it tends to do that I wouldn’t, but I tend to be hyper-literal. I think you’re specifically missing some of Petrarch’s odd poet’s tricks – like “when there was in part a different man from that who I now am”, which is a poet’s tricky phrasing for what it translates it as – but I’m not sure how you would translate those without being clunky, given the language barrier. (I assure you it is not remotely clunky in the original.)

        Anyway, your call whether you’re comfortable with that level of accuracy. Feel free to poke me if you find something else you want looked at?

        *Actually, I’m also dubious about his translation of nonché, but my 1612 Italian/Italian dictionary is malfunctioning, so I’m going to let that go for now. His translation is correct in modern Italian, anyway; I’d expect it to be closer to “if not” than “and also” in Petrarch’s time, but I don’t have the dictionary to confirm it. Speaking of which, note that if you want to look up words in Italian, http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/florio/ is a great resource – Italian/English, 1611, searchable.

        • James says:

          Ah, thanks Rebecca!

          I seemed to notice some subtle rearrangements in the couple I checked, too.

          I think my preferences—for my present purposes—lean hyperliteral too, even at the cost of flowing less well as poetry. But I’ll take what I can get. In any case, as I said, I intend to follow the original carefully and only use the translation as a tool for that, so hopefully not all of his odd poet’s tricks will go over my head.

          Having said that, I don’t know any Italian, let alone renaissance Italian, so we’ll see how that goes—maybe it’s a foolhardy approach, maybe masochistic, but I did the same thing with French and Baudelaire to some profit.

  28. JulieK says:

    Thank you to everyone who answered my question about coffee in a previous thread.
    I’ve ordered a pour-over coffee maker, though it seems almost to simple to work.

  29. johan_larson says:

    In other news, I will be in Seattle this Friday. Any of the locals interested in getting together, perhaps after work?

    Let me know at this rot13ed email address:
    wbuna.t.ynefba@tznvy.pbz

  30. sentientbeings says:

    It might be of interest to some people here that the Competitive Enterprise Institute has submitted a petition to NASA

    to remove from its website the claim that 97 percent of climate scientists agree humans are responsible for global warming. The petition, filed under the Information Quality Act (IQA), points out the major flaws in the studies cited by NASA to substantiate its claim. It requests the agency remove the claim from its website and stop circulating it in agency materials.

    Aside from the fact that climate change discussions come up here fairly often, that particular claim is frequently discussed. If you want to know more about the substance of this petition, following that link or a search for other articles/resources might be in order. A very quick summary is that the petition alleges that NASA represents the study incorrectly, the study itself is flawed, and the researchers represent their own study incorrectly.

    My intention in mentioning this news item is not to discuss general climate change topics, but rather this particular claim and study and potentially the implications if NASA has to retract it. I don’t particularly like the way CEI phrased their complaint, because even though it seems correct to me, they seem to overly emphasize “flaws” in the study (which might be rationalized/excused, or, more charitably, debated) rather than unambiguous misrepresentations (although those are mentioned).

    Prediction topic 1: Will NASA retract?
    Registration: I have no idea.
    Prediction topic 2: Conditional on NASA issuing a retraction…
    (A) Will government agencies, possibly including NASA and its employees, continue to make the same claim in other contexts?
    Registration: Yes, including NASA.
    (B) Will the retraction shift discourse, popularly or (in casual reference) in academic literature?
    Registration: No.*

    *The reasoning being that it takes about ten minutes’ work to verify, with only arithmetic and no knowledge of climate science or advanced statistics, that the figure is incorrect based on the internal evidence of the paper. If that level of work is sufficiently costly, it strikes me as unlikely that a retraction will change minds.

    • Prediction topic 1: Will NASA retract?

      No.

      For anyone interested in the substance, it was the topic of a blog post of mine five years ago.

    • 10240 says:

      *The reasoning being that it takes about ten minutes’ work to verify, with only arithmetic and no knowledge of climate science or advanced statistics, that the figure is incorrect based on the internal evidence of the paper. If that level of work is sufficiently costly, it strikes me as unlikely that a retraction will change minds.

      A retraction wouldn’t immediately change minds. What might change things is that whenever someone claims the 97% figure, climate change skeptics can immediately link to the retraction, showing the other side clearly wrong. The link is to a NASA site (or to liberal-approved sites reporting the retraction), so it can’t be dismissed as conservative BS by liberals.

      This is a major difference compared to the present. Very few readers will do 10 minutes of work on the basis of an article* coming from the opposite tribe. If someone makes the 97% claim, and you link to an article by climate change skeptics explaining the misrepresentations, most people who currently agree with the position that climate change is human-caused and dangerous will just see the link is to climate change skeptics, and close it immediately. Those who make the 97% claim are exposed as wrong to very few people.

      —-
      * I haven’t done it either. The rest of this comment is conditional on that the misrepresentations claimed are real. I promise I’ll do it later today.

      • I actually have some data in support of your point.

        I put up my blog post five years ago. The evidence it relies on is not only webbed, it was webbed by the people I am criticizing.

        As best I can tell, ten minutes spent following my links is enough to demonstrate that Cook, the lead author of the article that’s the main source for the 97% figure, lied in print about that article in a later article. That doesn’t prove that the 97% article itself is wrong, only that its meaning is commonly misrepresented (the number has to do with humans as a cause, not humans as the main cause), but it should be enough to motivate a little more time figuring out what the article did or did not imply.

        I won’t swear that, in the following five years, nobody inclined to believe the 97% figure read my post and changed his mind, but I don’t see evidence of such an effect. References to my post and my argument are pretty much always by people inclined to believe it.

        The one exception I can think of is a comment by Cook on someone else’s blog in which he attacks me for an argument I did not make and entirely ignores the argument I did make. Linked to at the bottom of my post.

        • drunkfish says:

          For what it’s worth, I believed the 97% figure (or at least that it was roughly right), I continued to believe it after reading sentientbeings comment here, but then when I returned later I saw your comment/link, followed it, and now have seriously uncomfortable doubts. I wouldn’t say my mind about climate change is changed appreciably, I’m a graduate student in a department filled with actual climate scientists so I have much more accessible authorities on the subject and don’t really care much about the ‘scientific consensus’, but I certainly have no intention of ever citing the 97% number in the future and would likely share your take-down if a friend cited the number in safe company.

          The only real hesitation I have with your discussion is in your followup, when you’re addressing the “is Cook a fool or a rogue?” question. I think there’s a third option, which is that he gets *so much* criticism from so many people less competent than you, he no longer reads criticisms carefully. Given the post that he’s commenting on when he responds to you, and the fact that it does make the criticism he accuses you of making, I’m not really surprised at all by an exhausted person not responding closely. I’m definitely sad that he doesn’t respond to you properly and directly, but I don’t think it really carries much weight.

          All this said, your original criticism definitely did change my mind, at least about the 97% figure if not climate change in general. I’m firmly a blue triber, as is basically all of my social circle, for what that’s worth.

          • Watchman says:

            On Cook, it’s worth noting that at the time the paper was issued he was apparently agitating for a published paper reinforcing the 97% consensus (originally established by a masters thesis which messaged people and recorded their responses, which presumably was not the entire thesis…). As he was a fairly important player in the climate debate on blogs in the early part of the decade (and not a practicing climate scientist) on the warmist side, I was inclined to believe this and regard criticisms of the paper as legitimate if mainly equally biased.

        • 10240 says:

          OK, I’ve looked at the CEI request and your criticism. My first observation is that Cook’s paper looks at percentages of papers, not percentages of scientists. At best, that gives an estimate of the percentage of scientists with different views weighted by the number of their articles.

          The CEI request first complains that papers that do not take a position were excluded. IMO if we are trying to estimate the percentage of scientists with different positions, excluding papers that don’t take a position is reasonable. Scientists with any position are likely to write articles that don’t take a position; those articles provide little or no information about the author’s views. (C.f. if I do a drug trial, and 97% of people with a particular disease are cured, it’s not a gross misrepresentation to say “97% of people with this disease who take this drug are cured”, even if I only tested it on a sample, not on everyone in the world with that disease.) Note that authors who did take the position that AGW is uncertain were not excluded.

          Similarly they complain that only 14% of 8547 authors responded to a query about their position. (Out of them, 97.2% endorsed AGW.) That’s a decent sample, and certainly much better evidence than the five cherry-picked authors the CEI cites who said that their articles were wrongly categorized.

          One issue with the categorization of the papers is that the “implicit endorsement” category includes papers that mention AGW in the passing, or imply it e.g. in the context of mitigation efforts. It’s plausible that scientists who endorse AGW are more likely to include that view in their abstracts in such contexts than those who reject it. OTOH, if we only count articles that either explicitly endorse AGW or explicitly reject it, 97.6% endorse it.

          Another issue is that Cook seems to have considered statements that climate change needs to be mitigated as evidence of implicit endorsement of AGW. That seems to assume the viewpoint that global warming needs to be mitigated if and only if it’s anthropogenic. (That’s a common view, and I’ve argued before why I think it’s reasonable.) OTOH if scientists hold this view, and write about the importance of mitigation, that does suggest that they view humans as a major cause of warming (otherwise there would be little need to mitigate).

          The CEI request complains “But, for the same reason, it is inappropriate to take such «no-position» statements as endorsing anthropogenic global warming. But what Cook objects to is exactly what NASA has done—it takes the «no-position» statements by various scientists as endorsing a specific position.” I don’t see the NASA doing this. They cite the 97% figure, which comes papers that express a position. At most, they assume that the distribution of views among the authors of papers that don’t express a position is the same as among those that express a position.

          ——

          The criticism regarding the distinction between humans being a cause of warming, and humans being the main cause, is more legitimate. However, I suspect that the view that humans are a minor cause of warming is rare; I’ve never seen anyone express it. In that case, the distinction is not that consequential.

          To me, the bottom line is that when the central example of global warming skepticism in public discourse is ‘it’s a total, deliberate hoax”, and about half of Americans believe that humans aren’t causing warming, compared to that wrongness the details of whether we count percentages of scientists or percentages of papers that express a position, and whether 97% of scientists agree that humans cause global warming or they agree that humans are the main cause, matter relatively little. If most AGW skeptics weren’t full of it, people on the other side would be more inclined to listen to reasonable criticism.

          Would anybody now like to claim that lumping levels 1, 2, and 3 together and only reporting the sum was not a deliberate attempt to mislead?

          Yes. It’s plausible that, in his experience, very few people express the position that humans are a minor cause of warming, either among scientists or in the general public; as a result, he fails to mentally maintain the distinction between humans being a cause, and humans being the main cause. And it’s more charitable to say that his claim that “97% say humans are the main cause” is a misrepresentation of “97% claim humans are a cause”, rather than of “1.6% claim humans are the main cause”.

          This is reminiscent of journalists taking a statistic that women make x% less than men on average, and claiming that women get x% less for the same work. Many people seem to make this mistake independently. I think few of them try to deliberately mislead. Instead, many people fail to mentally maintain a distinction between “women make less on average” and “women make less for the same work”. I call these situations mental traps: mistakes the human brain seems to be prone to making in certain conditions.