Bob Menendez Facing Tougher Than Expected Re-Election Fight

New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez continues to lead in the polls, but his lead is far from secure.

A new poll out of New Jersey suggests that the Senate race in New Jersey could end up being more of a contest than one might ordinarily expect in a strongly blue state thanks to the fact that Bob Menendez, the incumbent Democratic Senator, is running for a third term under a significant ethical cloud:

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) is facing a tightening race as he seeks to hold on to his Senate seat in the November midterm elections, according to a new poll.

Menendez leads his Republican challenger, Bob Hugin, by just 6 points, 43 to 37 percent, in a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday.

Mendendez previously held a 17-point lead, 49 to 32 percent, in a March survey conducted by Quinnipiac University.

The latest poll shows a racial gap between the candidates’ supporters. Hugin leads among white voters at 47 percent to Menendez’s 38 percent. Meanwhile, Menendez is supported by 51 percent of nonwhite voters, while Hugin holds 18 percent.

Republicans back Hugin more heavily than Democrats support Menendez. Eighty-five percent of Republicans said they would vote for Hugin, while 74 percent of Democrats said they backed Menendez.

Independents are split almost evenly between the two, with 37 percent supporting Hugin and 33 percent backing Menendez.

Menendez was cleared of federal corruption charges in January, but the poll shows that the probe still hangs over him in voters’ minds.

Forty-nine percent of New Jersey voters said Menendez was involved in serious wrongdoing, while 16 percent said that is not the case. Among Democrats, 38 percent said he was involved in serious wrongdoing, while 25 percent said he did not.

Overall, more voters than not disapprove of the two-term New Jersey Democrat, with 47 percent of those polled disapproving of the incumbent and 40 percent approving.

Hugin is less well-known in the state, with a majority of respondents, 54 percent, saying they had not heard enough about the Republican. Of those who expressed an opinion, 24 percent viewed him favorably and 20 percent viewed him unfavorably.

Twenty-five percent of voters said that ethics in government was the most important issue in their decision of who to elect as senator in November, followed by 22 percent who cited taxes, 19 percent health care, 14 percent immigration and 14 percent the economy.

So far, polling in the Garden State has been sparse, most likely because most pollsters, like the analysts at The Cook Report and other sites, still consider the state to be relatively safely in the Democratic camp. Looking at the recent polls, though, there does appear to be at least somewhat of an opening for Republican nominee Bob Hugin, a pharmaceutical company CEO who has cast himself as a fairly moderate Republican who supports same-sex marriage and abortion rights and who has not embraced the party’s rightward drift under President Trump. Over at RealClearPolitics, for example, the poll average shows Menendez (41.8%) leading Hugin (33.5%) by an average of +8.3 points. However, this average includes a poll that was taken way back in April by Monmouth University that gave Menendez an 11 point lead. If we take that poll out of the equation and include just the three most recent polls that RealClearPolitics is relying on, then Menendez stands at an average of 38% and Hugin gets an average of 34%, giving Menendez a four-point advantage. If you include only the two polls taken since the June primary in the state, then Menendez stands at an average of 43% while Hugin stands at 39%, giving Menendez a four-point advantage. It goes without saying that these are not exactly ideal numbers for a Democrat running in New Jersey at this stage of the election cycle.

In an ordinary year, of course, there would be no question that Menendez should be considered as a safe bet for being re-election. He’s a Democrat running in a state that has gone for the Democratic nominee for President in every election for the past 26 years — including in 2016 Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by nearly 550,000 votes — and which has generally been considered to be solidly blue notwithstanding the fact that voters have elected three Republican Governors to two terms in office over the past thirty-seven years. Additionally, the state has not elected a Republican Senator since Clifford Case ran for re-election in 1972. Since then, the only Republicans to serve in the Senate from the Garden State have been Nicholas Brady and Jeffrey Chiesa, both of whom were appointed by Republican Governors to fill in after the death or resignation of a Democratic Senator.

As I’ve noted before, though, this is no ordinary election year in the Garden State and Bob Menendez is, well, Bob Menendez with all the baggage that brings with it. Three years ago, the Senator was indicted on a host of corruption charges related to his personal and business relationship with a longtime friend who gave him access to private planes and other luxuries throughout his time in the Senate and enjoyed unusually close access to the Senator. After more than a year and a half of pretrial proceedings during which Menendez sought, mostly unsuccessfully, to get the charges dismissed before trial, the Senator went on trial for most of the original charges only to see his case end in a mistrial. While the Justice Department ultimately decided not to proceed with a second trial, Menendez was still admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee earlier this year. All of that led many to wonder if the Senator would face trouble winning his party’s nomination. While Menendez walked away victorious, the fact that a candidate who operated a shoe-string campaign ended up getting one-third of the vote in a primary that Menendez should have won in a walk away as he did in 2006 and in 2012 is seemingly a sign that even his fellow Democrats aren’t entirely comfortable with the idea of Menendez at the top of their ticket in 2018.

One of the main reasons that the polls between Menendez and Hugin have apparently closed in the way that they have appears to be related to the fact that Hugin has spent much of the summer going after Menendez over the criminal and ethical cloud hanging over him. Virtually from the time that he won the nomination in June, Hugin, who is apparently spending at least some of his own fortune on the campaign, has been all over the airwaves in the Garden State hitting Menendez with a withering series of attack ads that have emphasized the criminal charges against him. The Menendez campaign, meanwhile, has only recently begun its own counterattack against Hugin, which concentrates largely on his record as a pharmaceutical company CEO, a strategy that may or may not work in a state where pharamceuticals form a large portion of the business and employment community. This is likely to continue into the fall. Whether it works or not is something only time will tell.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, Congress, Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Kylopod says:

    As I’ve said, it was an act of political malpractice for Dems to nominate Menendez again after the corruption trial. Practically anyone else would have sailed to victory. Even if he ends up winning by a large margin, this is a race that Dems absolutely should not be sweating about, and it may cause them to divert funds and resources that they desperately need elsewhere, just to maintain what should be one of the safest seats imaginable, during a year where they have considerable advantages.

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  2. mattbernius says:

    @Kylopod:
    100%. The lack of distance between the two candidates — especially during this year — says a LOT about Menendez’s weakness as a candidate.

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  3. al Ameda says:

    Menendez should step aside, but that is not going to happen.

    The New Jersey Democratic Party must be weak if the bench does not include some one who can take Menendez down.

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  4. HarvardLaw92 says:

    OT: Allan Weisselberg, Trump’s CFO, has been granted immunity by the SDNY. He’s flipping.

    The hits just keep on coming 😀

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  5. Kathy says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Ah, so Trumpers can understand: Doubleplusungood.

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  6. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kathy:

    Weisselberg flipping is honestly as bad as it can get for Trump. He knows everything.

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  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    I’ll say it again: Pardon, Resign, Flee the country. Trump won’t just be lucky to stagger to the end of his term, he’ll be lucky not to be openly bankrupt and dodging marshals and subpoenas. He’ll be visiting Don Jr. and daughter-wife Ivanka in prison.

    And this isn’t even the main line of attack! He’s in danger of being wiped out by something that was in effect a diversion.

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  8. James Pearce says:

    Thumbs up to the first 3 comments. Accountability, not excuses. The stakes are too high.

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  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    There was accountability. He was charged and he was cleared.

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  10. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Farming Cohen out to the SDNY was a masterstroke on Bob’s part. In one fell swoop, he has ensured that no matter what Trump does, he can’t avoid this adventure following through to its inevitable conclusion.

    Whether or not Trump succeeds in shutting Bob down is now immaterial. The best, most damning pieces of this soap opera are now being handled by the district which is best situated & equipped to nail Trump to a cross. Immunizing Allan puts everything – every shady tidbit of Trump’s finances (including all those Russians and Ukrainians), every instance of malfeasance, every laundered greenback & ruble – within SDNY’s reach.

    SDNY is also the district best equipped to coordinate prosecution with Albany – a contingent of investigators & attorneys from the NYAG’s office has been resident at Pearl Street for months now. They know everything SDNY knows.

    More to the point – so does Mueller. Information has been flowing back to Mueller’s team from day one of SDNY’s handling of the Cohen matter. And now they’ve just been handed the keys to the safe.

    Bob created a hydra here. No matter how many heads Trump tries to cut off, he’ll still get killed. Tick. Tock.

    And I may overdose on popcorn 😀

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  11. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    He was charged and he was cleared.

    You gonna say the same thing about Trump if he skates?

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  12. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    Sure 🙂

    (but he won’t …)

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  13. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Wasn’t Weisselberg the individual who only found out he was listed as the treasurer of the Trump Foundation when someone from the Manhattan D.A.’s office mentioned it?

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  14. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Pardon, Resign, Flee the country.

    A xenophobe of his caliber? Besides, who’d have him?

    Trump won’t just be lucky to stagger to the end of his term, he’ll be lucky not to be openly bankrupt and dodging marshals and subpoenas.

    You say that as though it were a bad thing.

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  15. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    Mmhmm. That having been said, he’s been neck deep in Trump finances – he worked for Fred before he worked for Donald – for close to 50 years.

    He’s also – along with Trump – the only other trustee of the current “blind” trust into which Trump ostensibly placed all of his assets in order to create the perception of distance between them and the presidency. The guy literally knows everything there is to know.

    If the Trump crime family can be said to have a consigliere, Allan is it. From Trump’s perspective, it doesn’t (and arguably can’t) get any worse than this.

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  16. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I’m no lawyer, but I do worry about jury nullification when it comes to prosecuting Trump. I continue to think that Trump is primarily a political problem, best dealt with by beating him in an election.

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  17. Stormy Dragon says:

    It will be ironic if the dems pick up 2 senate seats elsewhere, but the repubs end up holding a 50-50 senate because Menendez loses in NJ.

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  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:
    If a jury finds him innocent, sure. It’s how we do things in this country.

    But Trump won’t get to a jury, and if he did, he’d go to prison.

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  19. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    He wasn’t cleared, there was a hung jury.

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  20. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    You’ve obviously never spent any time in New York.

    To help you understand – the jury pool for the SDNY is drawn proportionally from the registered voters of New York, Bronx, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange, Dutchess, and Sullivan counties.

    All but one of those counties, Putnam, is majority Democrat, and Putnam as a whole only constitutes 1.93% of the potential jury pool.

    Collectively, New York, Bronx, and Westchester – all heavily Democratic majority – comprise 77.40% of the potential jury pool.

    Simple version – a hypothetical juror in an SDNY pool has about an 88% chance of being a Democrat.

    The biggest worry with respect to any jury seated in the SDNY to consider Trump criminality will be getting them to agree to leave the courtroom for a few minutes in order to make it look like they deliberated.

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  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kathy:
    I’ve been thinking the Philippines: Trump has property there, Duterte’s a nasty, corrupt little fascist so Trump will have a buddy, and the weather’s not far off Mar a Lago.

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  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    And the State did not re-file, which means as of right now, Menendez faces no charges, and is considered innocent.

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  23. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Right now Trump faces no charges. That doesn’t mean he’s been cleared.

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  24. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    There is no active investigation of Menendez at present, slimy as I agree that he is.

    Trump can’t say the same …

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  25. Kathy says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I’ve been thinking the Philippines

    And you don’t think Duterte will mind the competition?

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  26. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Doubtful. Menendez is polling about 9 points ahead of Hugin, and to be frank, the size of the gap has much more to do with Hugin essentially being a Democrat on the issues than it does with Menendez being a crook. New Jersey voters are used to crooks. Menendez is nothing new.

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  27. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy: @Michael Reynolds: I’m surprised neither of you brought up Russia. They’d welcome him there, wouldn’t they? And it would be sufficiently white for his tastes.

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  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Stormy Dragon:
    Has Trump been charged? Has he gone to trial? Has a jury been unable/unwilling to convict him?

    No. The two situations are not analogous.

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  29. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    It’s how we do things in this country.

    What, defend the crooks on your side? Yeah, we do that… Well, some of us anyway.

    @HarvardLaw92:

    The biggest worry with respect to any jury seated in the SDNY

    I think it’s sad that I have to rely on the SDNY to take down Trump. You know why? Because the SDNY isn’t going to take down Trump.

    And seriously, I have to ask….Why the reluctance to make Trump a political issue? Why the insistence on fighting him with reporters and lawyers instead of voters?

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  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Pearce:

    Why the reluctance to make Trump a political issue? Why the insistence on fighting him with reporters and lawyers instead of voters?

    1) Pretty sure we can do both, dude. Or did someone call for suspending the election?
    2) Because we have two different systems here: a Criminal Justice System and an Electoral System.
    3) Duh.
    4) So we should be prosecuting Menendez for his alleged crimes but not any of the Trump Crime Family? Because?

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  31. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    Why the reluctance to make Trump a political issue? Why the insistence on fighting him with reporters and lawyers instead of voters?

    Because I don’t just want him removed from office. I want him removed from office, bankrupted, imprisoned, and disgraced. If there is a option for public whipping, sign me up for that one as well.

    You can’t really understand how much New Yorkers hate Trump unless you had to live in NY and deal with non-stop press coverage of the multi-decade avalanche of trashy that has been his life.

    It’s not enough to remove him from office. We need him removed in such a way that guts the legitimacy of his wing of the party. In short, Trump voters are an infection and we are in need of bleach.

    Lots of bleach …

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  32. Gustopher says:

    Menendez should not have run again, and I am disappointed that he wasn’t primaried out.

    I was glad he didn’t resign because of his ethical problems, since Chris Christie was governor and would have replaced him with a Republican, and I would support him in an election over a Republican, but he shouldn’t be there.

    Al Franklin is out of the Senate for his behavior, and Menendez should be out for his. He is scum.

    But, he is scum that will caucus with the Democrats, and vote the right way on the issues, so he is our scum. Now that there is a Democrat as governor in NJ, I hope the government retries Menendez right after the election.

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  33. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Hugin has been running ads nonstop for months. I haven’t seen anything out of Menendez. Maybe he might want to step up his campaigning a bit…

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  34. Gustopher says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I’m still hoping for him to have a stroke while he’s on the toilet eating a bowl of ice cream.

    I fear that putting him in prison will make a martyr out of him. But if he goes out in some embarrassingly disgusting way, it would be easier to clean house, and have public hearings on the crimes, without the need for Republicans to reflexively defend him. I think that would be better for the country.

    Alas, we cannot control his health issues, or get him to eat ice cream while on the toilet, so prosecuting his fat orange ass is the next best thing.

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  35. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    He’s letting the PACs slam Hugin for now and keeping his powder dry. John Arnold has deeper pockets than Hugin ever will.

    I would look for Menendez to go on the direct attack sometime around late September.

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  36. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    However he leaves the White House – in a limousine, in a prison transport van, or in a hearse – is just fine with me. I’ll drink a toast to any of them.

    I’d just prefer he leave in a way that guts the GOP – a la Nixon – as well.

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  37. An Interested Party says:

    Why the insistence on fighting him with reporters and lawyers instead of voters?

    Umm, perhaps because he’s committed crimes…

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  38. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    We must ask: what value would he have for Putin after he’s out of office?

    He could trade El Cheeto back to the US in exchange for reduced sanctions. I fail to see anything else. Trump may not be dumb enough to move to Moscow, even if Putin is one of a few people who can flatter him with a straight face.

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  39. Gustopher says:

    @HarvardLaw92: The fall of Nixon didn’t gut the GOP — they were back after a single term out of the White House, and so many of the Nixon hanger ons filled the GOP for the next generation.

    Impeaching Trump, or getting him to resign, would put a nice bow on things, and stop the urgency of the investigations. Too many people would get away.

    Not sure Trump in a box would actually result in an open, bipartisan investigation into 2016 that wouldn’t just get bogged down with attempts to defend his corpse, but I’m eternally hopeful.

    Lots of Republicans are eagerly awaiting the death of an 85 year old woman who works out every day, I eagerly await the death of an overweight 72 year old man who never exercises and eats like crap.

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  40. James Pearce says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Pretty sure we can do both, dude

    Pretty sure you can’t. Trump’s got his own agenda-driven media operation to counter the one arrayed against him, and his supporters don’t seem to care too much about law and order, which reduces the viability of any strategy relying on it.

    Because we have two different systems here

    Yes, and we should be very careful about using the criminal justice system to cover up the failures of the electoral system. Don’t think about this president. Think about the next Democratic one.

    So we should be prosecuting Menendez for his alleged crimes but not any of the Trump Crime Family?

    Who said that? I said the stakes are too high to leave any dangling liabilities, you know, like a possibly corrupt Senator.

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I want him removed from office, bankrupted, imprisoned, and disgraced.

    I can appreciate that, but that’s not what happens to former US presidents, is it? Even the “bad” ones.

    In short, Trump voters are an infection

    I can appreciate this too, but I resist it. Because Trump voters are not an infection. They’re your neighbors.

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  41. Kylopod says:

    @Gustopher:

    The fall of Nixon didn’t gut the GOP — they were back after a single term out of the White House, and so many of the Nixon hanger ons filled the GOP for the next generation.

    Yup. And Nixon was the one who gave us the Southern Strategy, which the GOP have continued to follow all the way to the present day. They did somewhat abandon his policy legacy–but that’s only because by today’s standards he governed as a moderate, perhaps even a liberal. (He’s been called the “last liberal president” by various commentators ever since. An exaggeration, sure–but he did push many policies that would have no place in today’s GOP: he created the EPA and OSHA, pushed a universal health-care plan far more comprehensive than Obamacare, instituted affirmative action, and more.) The basic direction of the GOP over the past half-century is that it just keeps moving more and more to the right. Nixon’s defeat did nothing to halt or reverse that trend; quite the contrary.

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  42. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gustopher:

    The fall of Nixon didn’t gut the GOP — they were back after a single term out of the White House, and so many of the Nixon hanger ons filled the GOP for the next generation.

    Congress. Nixon and Watergate resulted in the GOP Congressional caucus being gutted in 1974, and Democrats subsequently maintaining control of the House for 20 years.

    I want Trump to hand us another 94th Congress, and I want the GOP wandering in the wilderness while it figures out its PWT problem.

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  43. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    Because Trump voters are not an infection. They’re your neighbors.

    I live in Paris. Have we met?

    Before that I lived in Westchester, and I can assure you that none of my neighbors were Trumpkins there either.

    No, they are an infection. I’d go so far as to call them a plague. The worst sort of infection; one that is fatal to democracy if left unchecked. They can’t be reasoned with. They can only be destroyed for the good of the whole.

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  44. Stormy Dragon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Doubtful.

    I agree it’s doubtful. I didn’t say it was likely, I just said it would be ironic if it did happen.

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  45. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    I can appreciate that, but that’s not what happens to former US presidents, is it? Even the “bad” ones.

    Nixon certainly enjoyed a lifetime of (well deserved) opprobrium once he’d been shoved out the door, and he never had to go to court (thanks to Ford …)

    Nobody will be standing in line to pardon Donald Trump …

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  46. Stormy Dragon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    No, they are an infection. I’d go so far as to call them a plague. The worst sort of infection; one that is fatal to democracy if left unchecked. They can’t be reasoned with. They can only be destroyed for the good of the whole.

    Between the rural trump voters you want get rid of and all the urban minorities you want to get rid of, there’s not going to be many people left in HavardLawtopia, is there?

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  47. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I live in Paris.

    Oh, I forgot. An expat and an expert.

    (And I assure you, Trump supporters live in Westchester too. And no, they don’t need to be “destroyed,” whatever that means.)

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  48. KM says:

    @James Pearce:

    Because Trump voters are not an infection. They’re your neighbors.

    A pity a great deal of them don’t share your sentiment. They call us libturds and declare liberalism a mental illness. They deride “elites”, “coastals”, “urban” anything and have the nerve to call themselves “real” Americans while idolizing traitorous states that killed US soldiers. They are mad that they are being called “racist”, “sexist” or “bigot”, not because those imply terrible actions or beliefs but because they don’t want the social stigma when they engage in those beliefs. They absolutely consider most liberal thoughts and beliefs to be an infection of the US – that’s what MAGA means, taking America back from its supposed corrupted state.

    I’m fully aware Trumpkins are my neighbors. I am also fully aware of what they think and say about me and mine. It’s not nice. Why should I be nice in return? Abusers require the people around them to adhere to norms of politeness and silence so they can violate them with impunity without the system crashing down. That’s why they’re demanding libs be “civil” while they run around trolling and “owning” them – kinda hard to bully the kid who punches you right back, isn’t it?

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  49. Kylopod says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Congress. Nixon and Watergate resulted in the GOP Congressional caucus being gutted in 1974, and Democrats subsequently maintaining control of the House for 20 years.

    The Dems had already held Congress continuously for 20 years before that. The GOP did lose 49 House seats in the 1974 midterms, but they would go on to gain them all back by 1980 while also winning a majority in the Senate for the first time in decades. So whatever negative consequences Watergate had for the GOP were very short-term. Just six years later they were as powerful as ever.

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  50. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Between the rural trump voters you want get rid of and all the urban minorities you want to get rid of, there’s not going to be many people left in HavardLawtopia, is there?

    You just put words into my mouth. I have no problem with urban minorities. I’d go so far as to say I like them. They vote Democrat.

    Between old age and heroin, rural Trump voters are probably solving the problem they create of their own volition. When I said months ago that I no longer cared about their plight, I was deadly serious. The best way for them to contribute to society at this point is to remove themselves from it, which they are indeed doing.

    Interesting piece from Williamson says it all:

    Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster. There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign occupation. Even the economic changes of the past few decades do very little to explain the dysfunction and negligence—and the incomprehensible malice—of poor white America. So the gypsum business in Garbutt ain’t what it used to be. There is more to life in the 21st century than wallboard and cheap sentimentality about how the Man closed the factories down.

    The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs … The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin.

    They can’t be fixed and they can’t be redeemed. They can only be nullified.

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  51. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kylopod:

    And you know why they gained them back. You also know where they gained them back 🙂

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  52. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Interesting piece from Williamson says it all

    Kevin Williamson?

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  53. Stormy Dragon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    You just put words into my mouth. I have no problem with urban minorities. I’d go so far as to say I like them. They vote Democrat.

    I direct the audience toward HavardLaw92’s responses in this comment thread:
    Baltimore Under Siege

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  54. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    No, Irma Williamson, of idyllic Grovers Corners, Iowa … 🙄

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  55. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Allow me to direct you towards my ass, which you should feel free to kiss.

    I have a huge problem with people who burn down buildings and try to kill firefighters. Where they happen to live, or what shade they happen to be, has no bearing on that sense of contempt. The commentary in that thread makes that abundantly clear. Rioters bad, not minorities bad. You should note that the vast majority of those urban minorities in Baltimore were NOT doing either. They’re fine by me.

    But nice attempt at ad hominem. You’ll have to do better than that.

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  56. Kylopod says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    And you know why they gained them back. You also know where they gained them back

    I must be really dense, but what exactly are you getting at with this response?

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  57. Stormy Dragon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Yeah yeah, and Trump only means MS-13 when he keeps calling immigrants “animals”.

    To quote your own words:

    He’s about fed up and ready to just let it burn, and on some level I can’t say that I blame him.

    Obviously this is some sort of magic fire that’s only going to burn down buildings rioters own, right? You couldn’t possibly have been advocating collective punishment for the entire community based on the acts of a small minority, right?

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  58. Stormy Dragon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I’d also like to note the similarity of your “They can’t be fixed and they can’t be redeemed. They can only be nullified” response toward Trump voters as compared to your “We’ve spent trillions since the ’60s ‘fighting poverty’, and what’d we get? More poverty” response toward the poor in Baltimore.

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  59. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I have no problem with urban minorities. I’d go so far as to say I like them. They vote Democrat.

    Ah, there it is. The mask slips…

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  60. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Not at all. I simply said that I understand his sense of frustration at trying to extinguish fires disproportionately set by certain residents of the communities being burned. I sympathized (and sympathize) with his sense of the futility of it all.

    You’ll note that, at no point, did I say that buildings burning was desirable. I expressed a sense of understanding at why he might feel that way.

    I do this for a living, doll. By all means, though, please continue attacking the messenger instead of the message.

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  61. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    What mask? By all means, do elaborate.

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  62. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I’d also like to note the similarity of your “They can’t be fixed and they can’t be redeemed. They can only be nullified” response toward Trump voters as compared to your “We’ve spent trillions since the ’60s ‘fighting poverty’, and what’d we get? More poverty” response toward the poor in Baltimore.

    Um, no. That was a commentary on the failure of the program, not its recipients.

    Do you disagree that war on poverty programs have largely been an unmitigated failure?

    If so, then you need to take a drive through Baltimore. Remind me where you live again?

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  63. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kylopod:

    I must be really dense, but what exactly are you getting at with this response?

    Republican gains between 1974 and 1995 came disproportionately – indeed almost entirely – from the South (racist backlash against civil rights) and rural areas (backlash against the loss of white economic hegemony and manufacturing employment).

    Trump didn’t happen overnight. His constituency has been building up to this fit of pique for a long time …

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  64. Stormy Dragon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    That was a commentary on the failure of the program, not its recipients.

    Again in your own words:

    Not buying it. I grew up in Baltimore. Poverty is endemic in a lot of places, and while it might not be the PC thing to say, I still spend a decent amount of time in Baltimore, and many of their problems are at least to some extent of their own making.

    No amount of money, by itself, is going to instill the drive and ambition required to lift these people out of their situation. They can’t do it on their own, obviously, but they DO have to participate in the process. As far as I can tell, they instead choose to adopt the attitude that they’re owed something. Unfortunately, they haven’t figured out that first and foremost they owe themselves something, so the cycle perpetuates itself.

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  65. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Yup, and I will stand behind that. Handing out checks in paternalistic fashion has accomplished exactly nothing in eradicating poverty. I’d argue that it has achieved exactly the opposite – it has created a culture of dependency and hopelessness, indeed a sense of resentful entitlement, that all but ensures that these people will continue – generation after generation – to lead broken lives. It has exacerbated and perpetuated poverty.

    Now, are you prepared to argue that these people are incapable of contributing to their own resurgence, indeed that if they are to rise out of poverty they have no choice but to do so?

    It sounds to me like I want programs which teach them how to fish, and you’d prefer to keep handing out fish once a week. I think they can, and you think they have to be coddled because they can’t.

    Which one of us truly has any concern about their long-term well being? LOL, and you’re busily trying to paint ME as the racist here … 🙄

    If you weren’t so busy trying to disparage someone you dislike, you might stop tripping over your own feet.

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  66. Kylopod says:

    @HarvardLaw92: I don’t disagree with any of that, but what I and Gustopher were responding to was your earlier statement, “I’d just prefer he leave in a way that guts the GOP – a la Nixon – as well.” We pointed out that Watergate did not gut the GOP–at least not for very long. They took a beating in Congress, and lost the White House soon after–but just six years later held more power than they had before the Watergate fiasco.

    That’s how it always happens. Dubya gets us into the most unnecessary war in American history and destroys the economy, enabling the Democratic takeover of Congress and then the White House–then two years later the GOP are back in the House and eight years later they’re in control of the entire government.

    I’m constantly hearing you and others here talk with complete confidence about how the GOP’s goose is cooked. The Dems will inevitably have their blue wave this fall, and they’ll inevitably win in 2020 with or without Trump on the ticket, which he probably won’t be.

    I have my doubts that any of those things will come to fruition. But let’s say they do. I’ll bet you a kajillion rubles the GOP will be fully back in power less than a decade later. No matter how awful they get, no matter how much they keep screwing up the country, no matter how they’ve given us literally the most unfit president in history, it never seems to break the normal political cycles, where every few years or so the party out of power regains power. Indeed, if Dems do especially well this year, it will cause them to be overexposed making them harder to retain many of those seats later on, when the tide turns against them, as it always eventually does. And if the trend of the past 50 years continues, the GOP won’t react by becoming more moderate–they’ll just come back more extreme than ever next time.

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  67. Stormy Dragon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I don’t think your racist. I think it’s more a class thing.

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  68. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Kylopod:

    I’m constantly hearing you and others here talk with complete confidence about how the GOP’s goose is cooked. The Dems will inevitably have their blue wave this fall, and they’ll inevitably win in 2020 with or without Trump on the ticket, which he probably won’t be.

    I’ve said neither of those. I expect us to retake the House while Republicans retain control of the Senate. 2020 will be 2020. I’m focused on 2018 at the moment.

    The GOP’s goose is cooked long-term, because it has promised something to these people – economic resurgence in West Bumfk, Ohio – that it can never deliver. It has staked its continued political existence on a combination of dying old people and angry rural whites. You’re more than bright enough to realize that these people will do one of two things:

    1) They’ll double down on their fit of pique, driving away moderates and country club republicans, or;

    2) They’ll turn on the GOP.

    There is, of course, a hypothetical third option: that they get tired of waiting to die and watching their communities overdose to death, and see the light, but let’s be realistic about the likelihood of that ever happening …

    Meanwhile, they had a tantrum and elected the worst self-imposed damage to the country since the secession of the South, so I politely say “f**k them …”

    Either way, combined with changing demographics, we eventually do win the war (and it is a war …) The challenge is to limit the damage in the meantime.

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  69. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    No, Irma Williamson, of idyllic Grovers Corners, Iowa …

    The important question, of course, is what does Irma think of abortion? Because that’s the most important thing about a writer: their views on abortion.

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  70. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I can’t help but notice that you didn’t address the actual point. To be frank, I’m essentially offended at the paternalistic manner in which we have tried to address poverty in the US, precisely because I’ve seen the results – the abject failure – and I don’t care for them.

    I actually fund scholarships, anonymously, for inner city kids in Baltimore. I’ve given to a host of private sector programs aimed at giving these kids an option, a way out if you will, which are run by the African-American community there. I plan to give a great deal more.

    Know why? Because they work. They work a hell of a lot better than handouts ever have.

    If you wish to characterize a sense of contempt for destructiveness – be that rioters burning down buildings or incensed rural white voters electing a destructive moron – as a “class thing”, then have at it.

    I’ll tell you one thing, though: I’ve tried to help both communities, and only one of them has ever showed an interest in doing something positive with it.

    Hint: it’s not the angry white folks in Hooterville …

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  71. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @James Pearce:

    The important question, of course, is what does Irma think of abortion? Because that’s the most important thing about a writer: their views on abortion.

    Right, because disagreeing with someone about one thing must unavoidably mean disagreeing with that person about everything.

    Purity police much?

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  72. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    I have my doubts that any of those things will come to fruition. But let’s say they do. I’ll bet you a kajillion rubles the GOP will be fully back in power less than a decade later.

    To be fair, Republicans entertain such fantasies about the Democratic Party from time to time. When Bush the younger won reelection in 04, much was made about the demise of the Democrats, especially after Howard Dean went on to head the DNC.

    It’s ironic, to a point, that in the world’s preeminent democracy, both main parties dream about a future of one-party rule (their party, of course).

    America desperately needs a major third party. America is not going to get one, alas, unless a lots of things change.

    Given the demographic changes underway, though, if the GOP keeps on being exclusively the party of white people, they’ll eventually die. Or rather, change.

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  73. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92: That was sarcasm, dude. I defended Williamson when his abortion views proved too controversial for the atlantic.

    Re: The mask slipping. I’ve had this idea for a while now that white affluent liberals conspicuously and performatively “look out” for minorities not out of some belief in racial equality but because they are under the mistaken impression that they’re all Democrats.

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  74. Stormy Dragon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I can’t help but notice that you didn’t address the actual point. To be frank, I’m essentially offended at the paternalistic manner in which we have tried to address poverty in the US, precisely because I’ve seen the results – the abject failure – and I don’t care for them.

    Of course all the sociological research on the subject says that non-strings cash transfers is the most efficient form of poverty reduction, but hey, I suppose you’re a social science expert now too.

    I find the UBI concept intriguing myself, although I’d like to see a proposal that actually addresses how to pay for it realistically.

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  75. Grewgills says:

    @HarvardLaw92:
    All of us that were here then saw you go off the rails during the rioting in Baltimore. Your law and order above all side and your frustration (at least partly because of family members in the line of fire) ended up with you saying some things that made you look pretty racist and by your own admission then an entitled ass.
    @Stormy Dragon:
    While he did say some $hitty things during that episode he did end up apologizing at the end of it and eventually issuing a mini mea culpa. Given his contrition at the end of an emotional episode and also given the fact that we haven’t seen that kind of behavior from him since, it doesn’t seem fair to rub his nose in it.

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  76. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Of course all the sociological research on the subject says that non-strings cash transfers is the most efficient form of poverty reduction, but hey, I suppose you’re a social science expert now too.

    Trillions of dollars worth of non-strings cash transfers over decades. Persisting rampant and endemic poverty.

    Newsflash – it’s not working. Your sociologists might want to recheck their data, assuming they’re capable of considering the possibility that they’re wrong. In my experience, they usually aren’t.

    Meanwhile, I have three kids from Sandtown attending college full-ride on my dime and excelling, and many more ready to follow them there. One of them even wants to to go to law school.

    I’ll pay for that too.

    I guess if you’re inclined, you could pay for more sociologists. That should help them immensely.

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  77. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: Absolutely. There was a tag line from a legal drama a number of years ago that still applies:

    If you’ve got the right lawyer, we have the best justice system in the world.

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  78. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “He’s letting the PACs slam Hugin for now and keeping his powder dry.”

    Glad to hear that. I haven’t seen any of that, but in the middle of the day Hugin’s ads pop up on a lot of the channels the TVs at the gym are tuned to, and that’s what I’ve seen…

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  79. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: I’ve seen lots of “arguing in a vacuum” in my day, but you’ve raised it to an art form. Congratulations! I guess I can stop reading your posts again, you’ve reached Nirvana and can expect to transcend to the Godhead any day now.

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  80. Kylopod says:

    @Kathy:

    It’s ironic, to a point, that in the world’s preeminent democracy, both main parties dream about a future of one-party rule (their party, of course).

    I’m not dreaming about one-party rule. I’m dreaming of a time when we have a rational center-right party like in many other countries, rather than a racist, anti-intellectual one wallowing in fake news and the worship of an authoritarian demagogue building literal concentration camps. Is that too much to ask?

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  81. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I find myself leery of UBI because I think that the owners of capital already have enough excuses for not paying workers decent wages that I don’t want want to increase their incentive to continue down that path.

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  82. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    ” a rational center-right party like in many other countries… Is that too much to ask?”

    Unfortunately, it appears to be. [Sigh]

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  83. Stormy Dragon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    1. Less than 30% of our poverty reduction efforts is currently in the form of no-strings cash transfers.
    2. The national poverty rate is down nearly 50% since 1959, so contrary to your assertion, it hasn’t resulted in endemic poverty
    3. For poor above 65, where we do have a significant no-strings cash transfer program, the poverty rate is down two thirds since 1966.

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  84. Stormy Dragon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    It’s also odd you’re accusing me of being paternalistic, when you’re the one arguing that poor people can’t be trusted to know for themselves how best to use money to help their current situation, they need someone like me to make sure they only spend money on the proper things.

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  85. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    You might want to let the folks in Sandtown know that their poverty rate is down by 50%. I’m pretty certain that they missed that message.

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  86. An Interested Party says:

    …minorities…mistaken impression that they’re all Democrats.

    If not all, than certainly most…and why wouldn’t they be Democrats, what with the constant disdain that Republicans show them…

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  87. Stormy Dragon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    You might want to let the folks in Sandrown know that their poverty rate is down by 50%

    Considering the population of that neighborhood has lost 13.3% of its population since 2000, while West Baltimore as a whole is up 3.4% over the same time period, I’d imagine that the Sandtown-Winchester residents whose poverty rates went down are no longer living in Sandtown-Winchster.

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  88. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    LOL, let me get this straight – the poverty rate magically dropped by 50%, but that only enabled 13.3% of the population to move on up to the eastside, to a dee-luxe apartment in the sky? (Newsflash: a significant chunk of them are no longer counted in the neighborhood population because they’re either in prison or dead. Sandtown is awash in drugs and overdoses …)

    Meanwhile, Sandtown has somewhere between 25% and 33% of its housing stock vacant (despite a public / private investment of some $135 million in the 90s aimed at renovating and rehabilitating housing there), more than half of the population between 16 and 64 is out of work – an unemployment rate of 52%, median income of $24,000 in a city where the otherwise median is above $44,000, and a third of families there live in poverty.

    Note that your assertion sidesteps one obvious question: If simply handing over no strings attached cash is the solution – and the people of Sandtown are overwhelmingly qualified to receive such cash – why have so few of them escaped poverty?

    You guys and your magic bullets. You look at 50 years of humiliating and debilitating dependency payments, which has failed in spectacular fashion there, and say “let’s try 50 more. We evidently didn’t hand out enough cash …” It boggles the mind.

    It’s also odd you’re accusing me of being paternalistic, when you’re the one arguing that poor people can’t be trusted to know for themselves how best to use money to help their current situation, they need someone like me to make sure they only spend money on the proper things.

    There you go again – putting words into my mouth. I didn’t say they can’t be trusted. I said that, maybe instead of handing over humiliating payments, you should consider focusing on helping them build job skills, finish their education and become more employable. These people don’t need platitudes, and they don’t need condescending cash. They need jobs.

    You want to keep them dependent by handing them cash. I want to help them never need that cash again.

    Which one of us is being paternalistic?

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  89. Stormy Dragon says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    It’s like arguing with a Trump supporter. “Don’t tell me what the facts say, my feelings are the real truth!”

    the poverty rate magically dropped by 50%, but that only enabled 13.3% of the population to move on up to the eastside, to a dee-luxe apartment in the sky?

    It’s almost like the quoted drop in the poverty rate was since 1959 and the quoted drop in the population was since 2000 and you’re comparing apples to oranges because you’re an innumerate boob.

    Meanwhile, Sandtown has somewhere between 25% and 33% of its housing stock vacant

    Which is actually further evidence that the people who did escape poverty left.

    Note that your assertion sidesteps one obvious question: If simply handing over no strings attached cash is the solution – and the people of Sandtown are overwhelmingly qualified to receive such cash – why have so few of them escaped poverty?

    Because I’m not an innumerate boob and understand the concept of survivorship bias.

    You guys and your magic bullets.

    You’re the one suggesting the “one true path to escaping poverty”. Cash isn’t a magic bullet. Nothing is. The point is that all the research says that cash payments quantitatively help people more than social engineering, because they no better what they need to get out of poverty than we do.

    You want to keep them dependent by handing them cash.

    This is a big Republican lie, and for some reason you’ve swallowed the hook. The research shows that cash transfers DON’T create dependency.

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  90. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    The research shows that cash transfers DON’T create dependency.

    With all due respect, you (and they) are out of your fk’ing minds if you believe that.

    “Here, take this check. You don’t have to do anything in return for it, and if you come back next week, we’ll give you another one” is the very definition of a recipe for dependency. Christ, you advocated above putting entire segments of the economy on government cash payments (UBI). In return for what? Nothing? You think that won’t create and encourage dependency? Your do-gooder gear is evidently stalling out your thinking gear.

    Look at what you are saying. In asserting that these people (and they are good people) have no other alternative but to be supported with direct no-strings cash payments, which is exactly what you are saying, you are loudly proclaiming that they are helpless. Unable to help themselves.

    Of course direct cash payments reduce poverty in the immediate. You’re handing out fk’ing money. But at what cost? What is the cost these good people pay, in human terms, for accepting your charity? What measure of their self-respect is extinguished? How much more debilitated are they for buying into the “you’re helpless” narrative that comes with your patronizing assistance? Do they move forward, or do they stall in place, crippled by your humiliating charity?

    Because, dear, your “no-strings” cash payments do have strings attached. Human strings. Free money, and all they have to give up in return is a little piece of their dignity for each payment.

    I suppose you consider that to be an acceptable price. Me? I think it’s an unconscionable price to expect anyone to pay, and I think there is a better way. My money is going that route instead.

    And newsflash – it’s working

    Be sure to get back to me on what you – personally -are doing to address the problem. I’m willing to bet it’s exactly zero. Far easier to condescendingly criticize everybody else who questions your sacred cows while actually doing nothing, right?

    This – exactly things like this – are why the far-left annoys me easily as much as the far-right does. In a competition between anger and condescending paternalism, it’s 6 of one / half a dozen of the other.

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  91. Lava Land says:

    @Michael Reynolds: omg who is delusional/boring/drunk now.

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  92. Lava Land says:

    @HarvardLaw92: removed for what?

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  93. Lava Land says:

    @HarvardLaw92: my goodness you seem upset. Have a nice weekend, when you wake up, your hated I guess ex neighbor will still be President.

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  94. Lava Land says:

    @HarvardLaw92: yuck the more I read your comments, I feel ill. Shut up if you don’t even live here, go kick a rock or something.

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  95. Grewgills says:

    @Lava Land:
    This is a bot or an idiot doing an impression of a bot. Is there a way to make it invisible?

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  96. James Pearce says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I guess I can stop reading your posts again,

    Food for thought: What made you start up again?

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  97. teve tory says:

    Rarely, but occasionally, HL92 goes totally off the rails.

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  98. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Lava Land:

    removed for what?

    Conspiracy to violate and actual violations of federal campaign finance laws, which are felonies, among other goodies.

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  99. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @teve tory:

    Rarely, but occasionally, HL92 goes totally off the rails.

    I just don’t particularly care for smug assholes calling me a racist, not the least when I’m doing more to help these people than he/she will EVER do.

    It pissed me off.

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  100. teve tory says:

    @Grewgills: A site, IIRC Balloon Juice, used to have or still has a Pie Filter. It’s a piece of javascript code that runs in a plugin like greasemonkey. It alters the comment sections by putting a little button next to the commenters’ names and if you activate it on a person, from then on it replaces their posts with something pie related. So you’d go from seeing, like,

    James Pearce says:

    Black people are always wrong and the democrats are always at fault.

    to:

    James Pearce says:
    Blueberry pie is the best!

    and it was great. I wish they had it here.

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  101. drj says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Hey man,

    Feel free to dismiss the following, but…

    Even though I (mostly) really like your comments, sometimes – IMHO, obviously – you do appear to show utter disdain for entire categories of people. Even if some (or a significant portion) of that disdain is well-earned, it can be a bit too much, too quick, and too absolute.

    I’m doing more to help these people than he/she will EVER do.

    And sometimes you do seem a bit too full of yourself. So yeah, maybe you’re giving more money to good causes than any other commenter ever will. But that’s easy if you’re loaded.

    I’m pretty sure that for some people giving $20 is more of a sacrifice than whatever it is that you are doing.

    But a bit of empathy, or perhaps a richer set of experiences than you possess, would have already told you that – if, at least, you would have been a bit less hasty in your judgment.

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  102. James Pearce says:

    @HarvardLaw92: It’s not a contest to see whose stigmata can wash away the sins of American History, so why are you treating it like one?

    @teve tory: Why can’t you be your own pie filter? Me, I don’t need a pie filter. I have these guns. (Kisses biceps.)

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  103. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @James Pearce: You said something short that was intelligent in one of them a while back. I can’t remember what anymore.

    Additionally, when I first suggested that I saw no point in reading your posts, you had asked me not to give up on you. You should find him again; his humility would be an asset to the current persona that you play on the interwebs.

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  104. Stormy Dragon says:

    @teve tory:

    Rarely, but occasionally, HL92 goes totally off the rails.

    I’m wondering how many of the long time regulars did a spit-take when HL92 accused me of being far left.

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  105. James Pearce says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    You said something short that was intelligent in one of them a while back.

    And yet you’re absolutely certain that will never happen again, even accidentally? Agreement is nice, but optional. Dialogue is the thing…

    Re: humility. This whole project started for me upon Trump’s election, when I started asking “What if we were wrong?” I haven’t exactly been red-pilled, but I’ve been on a process similar to the one described here (minus the divorce drama and the obsessive Youtube watching).

    You can’t do that if you’re not humble.

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  106. george says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    No, they are an infection. I’d go so far as to call them a plague. The worst sort of infection; one that is fatal to democracy if left unchecked. They can’t be reasoned with. They can only be destroyed for the good of the whole.

    Shoot them, or just let them rot in concentration camps?

    Democracy survived the elections of LBJ and Bush Jr, who caused hundreds of thousands of unnecessary, completely immoral deaths. So far Trump hasn’t done anything close to that kind of evil – though I’m sure he would if given a chance.

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  107. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Stormy Dragon: I stopped reading that part of the thread before you two had deteriorated to that point. But, you’re right, it is funny.

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