Friday’s Forum

A place for some end of the week jibber-jabber.

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. An Interested Party says:

    I don’t feel kind of sad for Lara Trump…she’s as trashy as the rest of the family she married into…

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  2. sam says:

    ‘Frankenstein’ material can self-heal, reproduce

    “Honey, it’s your turn to feed the house.”

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  3. Teve says:

    @An Interested Party: two different browsers won’t let me open that Huffpo link. Something about stuttering?

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  4. Teve says:

    Seen on Twitter: “Devin Nunes is guilty of more crimes than Janine Pirro’s plastic surgeon.”

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  5. Kurtz says:

    Okay. Here it is. A couple notes are in order.

    I started on here, and then ported it to Google Docs. As such, some of the formatting–italics mostly–is missing. So if something like that is missing, save your grammar criticism for another post. Feel free to bitch about my refusal to use the Oxford Comma. Looking at you, Neil Huddleson.

    It ended up just under 6000 words. I recognize that it is a bit self indulgent. But i figures it’s a forum, so why not.

    I am hoping for legit criticism. If you agree, fine. But if you don’t, i would really like to hear how and why.

    Lastly, if you need a citation, ask. I’m more than happy to post it. I’m just tired and headed to work, and I wanted to get this posted.

    Hopefully, the wait hasn’t resulted in higher expectations than I can deliver.

    Enjoy.

    “Makin’ somethin’ outta nothing
    Because everybody 50 cents from a quarter yo
    Where I come from”
    –Black Thought and Peedi Peedi, The Roots, “Long Time”

    “And you folks think Hov’ just wrote stuff to rhyme
    Nah, I’m a poster for what happened seein’ your moms
    Doin’ five dollars worth of work just to get a dime
    So pardon my disposition
    Why should I listen to a system that never listened to me?
    Picture me workin’ MacDonald’s
    I’d rather pull a MAC on you
    Sorry, Ms. Jackson, but I’m packin'”
    –Jay-Z, “Get By” (Remix)

    “We are living in a world in which nobody is free, in which hardly anybody is secure, in which it is almost impossible to be honest and to remain alive.”
    –George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

    I have been thinking about land for quite a bit of time. More so lately, because I plan on buying a house at some point in the next few years. I can honestly say that how the economy treats land is nonsensical.

    In a discussion with a friend (call him Joe) close to ten years ago, I made the comment that it seems that part of the problem in America is the amount of income that goes to basic needs.

    Several years later, Joe told me the comment stuck with him. In some ways, this was one of my proudest moments as a human. (I know that’s kind of sad.) I don’t think Joe was extremely right wing, but he was somewhere right-of-center.

    Recently, a mutual friend described Joe as “a communist.” I think he really meant socialist. Pretty common mistake.

    I tell this story because at what percentage of income going to basic needs do we begin describing the relationship many have with the economy as serfdom or indentured servitude or a non-chattel form of slavery? The first two of those categories received some form of compensation: protection and land to subsist, passage or forgiveness of debt, respectively. Chattel slaves did receive meager compensation in the form of (not enough) basic necessities. Only the second category made any kind of agreement. All three relationships were coercive. All three lacked freedom.

    The situation, at birth, of a significant chunk of the US population pretty much resembles indentured servitude. Consider:

    Most people have to take out loans to have meaningful participation in the economy in the form of post-secondary education.

    Blue collar workers do not just sell their labor, they sell their safety and long-term health. The most extreme example here is logging. In 2016, loggers had a fatal injury rate of ~0.136% and a non-fatal injury rate of ~2.45%. For those high rates, the median compensation in 2018 was ~40k. (I don’t think either number has changed meaningfully between those two years.)

    The educational system mandates debt. The healthcare system mandates debt for many as well, including in some cases, the insured. (for a delightful example of the uninsured incurring onerous medical bills, go here.) Anywhere outside of large metros practically mandate car ownership. Even some big cities have such poor public transportation that it is hardly a reasonable alternative to a personal vehicle (looking at you, DC.)

    From 2000-2018, the rent index (73%) outpaced overall inflation (46%).

    If you are fortunate enough to save enough money and transition from a rental to an owned house, the financial system again mandates debt. Save (or lucky enough to get a windfall) enough to pay cash? The system encourages debt when mortgage interest rates are low–get a mortgage and put the remaining money into the market at a return higher than your APR. Pay the mortgage off enough? Get a home equity line of credit and treat to something you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford.

    Revolving debt is encouraged to build credit. Of course the credit line given increases as the borrower pays bills on time. The firm that issues the credit has an interest in increasing that line. The more credit given, the more likely the borrower will reach a line

    All of this funnels money to a sector that nominally produces something–money–but not anything tangible that is transferred to the consumer. This paper argues that consumer finance, particularly the mortgage, is what Smith and others considered unproductive credit. It, along with this article, highlights how land is largely excluded in current macroeconomics analysis. We will return to economics in a moment.

    For now, let’s talk about land. As Tony Soprano told his son, after hearing someone else say it, “Buy land, cuz God ain’t making any more of it.”

    One of the first things kids learn in school is the difference between wants and needs. Needs are typically defined as food/water, clothing and shelter.

    Food production (another dangerous profession) is heavily subsidized. Water is heavily regulated and in some places (not just in Flint) has dangerous levels of toxic chemicals.

    Clothing is fairly expensive, but there are relatively cheaper options. Of course, getting a decent job usually requires at least set of decent clothes that fit well and are in good condition. If you were to try to get a long-term homeless person a job, grooming and the purchase of clothing would be required. And it ain’t cheap and it isn’t subsidized.

    Housing is only subsidized for a relatively small number of people. It is a huge drag on renters, reducing their ability to raise a down payment for a home purchase and their prospects of some kind of economic mobility–the larger the share of your income that goes to necessities, the lower your chances of improving your living standard. Benefits offered by jobs, particularly health insurance, but also accrued sick time and personal time off can be incentives to stay in an unfulfilling job.

    I rewatched Wall Street the other day. There is that moment when Gecko explains to Fox that half of the wealth in the US is held by the top 1%, and half of that is a result of real estate and financial speculation and the other half generational wealth. He describes the latter as “interest accumulating on interest going to widows and idiot sons.” I immediately thought of Donald Jr. and Eric. Then I realized that Donald Sr. is the idiot son. I don’t even know what you call his progeny, because I don’t think idiot really covers the depth of cognitive shortfalls in those two.

    One of the points made in the two economics links above is that the originators of modern economics, Mill, Ricardo and Smith, recognized that land was different from other forms of capital. Henry George also recognized this late in the 19th century. The other thing those four had in common is that they were political economists–they did not consider themselves to be interrogating the laws of motion.

    That distinction–the tying of economics to politics–has largely been lost to time. Most modern economists seem to deny that they are practicing a social science. Economists seem to consider themselves alongside physicists, chemists and biologists in studying a natural science.

    During one of the gerrymandering cases in front of the Supreme Court, one of the attorneys was trying to explain a method of drawing fair districts. Chief Justice Roberts interrupted, “that’s sociological gobbledygook.” In a recent speech, Ben Shapiro argued that the Left claims to follow science, but that they are really obsessed with political science. I doubt either would talk about Economics the same way.

    Economists are on a quixotic quest to discover the laws of a natural (objective) market. In physics, there is an objective world against which to check your work. If you can measure a variable with precision and accuracy, you can use the feedback from the natural world to check hypotheses.

    In economics, measurements are comparatively poor. Measurements of large data are revised after release. Complete information does not exist in the economy.

    Markets are inherently subjective. They aren’t fixtures in the natural world, they are systems of relationships between people. To even study economics, one must make fundamental assumptions that are, at best, dubious. Homo economicus, no arbitrage, etc.

    Compounding this, currency–an abstract entity that represents value–is recursive. Defining that value with precious metals doesn’t solve the subjectivity problem. It also doesn’t avoid the recursion because metals don’t have inherent value other than within the system–it’s still an endless loop:

    “How do we know the value of a dollar?”
    “It can be exchanged for an ounce of gold.”
    “How do we know the value of an ounce of gold?”
    “It’s value is one dollar.”

    Sure, tomorrow, that gold may be worth more or less at some point in the future, but no matter how you look at it, there is no objective value. At most, you get an agreed upon measure, but that exposes what is supposed to be an objective measure to unpredictable volatility sourced from things that are not related to an intrinsic property of the anchor.

    There is more on currency to say. I think it’s better to think of currency as an approximation of value. Indeed, the marginal utility of one dollar is entirely dependent on other factors. I imagine that it’s a curve that drops close to zero on the extreme ends of the scale.

    Donald Trump depositing a $0.16 check from Spy Magazine in the 80s, if we assume he really was ultra-wealthy, had zero impact on his life or worth or anything else. It just gave us a good laugh for years to come. Give a person who owes $4000 in back rent a dollar and it does very little (really, nothing) to keep them in a home.

    To return to the ultra wealthy, what amount of additional wealth would actually change the life of Bezos or Gates or Buffett? Adding a $100k to their worth has zero meaningful impact. Of course, giving a poor person the same amount would have a pretty big effect on their short term lifestyle, but it wouldn’t suddenly increase their future outlook unless they invested it wisely–perhaps in education or something that helps in the long term. Even if they, say, went back to school, that is still no guarantee, depending on their interests and skills, that it will add all that much. In the short term, they are likely to have to continue, they are likely to continue to work their spiritually draining, dead-end job.

    In short, the base unit for marginal utility increases for both ends of the income distribution as inflation accumulates. This effect is asymmetric in how it impacts the extreme ends of the curve to the point that they are not counterparts or analogs. The disparate political voice ends up playing both sides against the middle.

    I think a lot of people look at applied economics, specifically finance, and say, well if all of this were true, how can people consistently make money in the market? I would have two replies.

    First, as Buffett’s million dollar bet with a colleague bore out–an investor cannot consistently beat the market in the long term.

    Second, a card-counter in Blackjack doesn’t win by knowing that the next card will give him a 21 or that the next card will cause the dealer to bust. A card-counter uses the information gleaned to alter the one thing in their control–bet sizing. When the counting reveals that the remaining portion of the deck(s) are in their favor, they increase the bet.

    One of the bizarre things I’ve found about Right Wing Libertarians is their belief in Economics as a rosetta stone for human behavior. This is even if you ignore that economic incentives are a modern version of applied power, and thus not a solution to arbitrary, illegitimate abuse. They claim the mantle of reason in making their arguments against government intervention.

    In this view, those who are successful deserve everything they get, because they have used their faculties to glean the truth that the markets tell them. Really, their faith in Economics resembles the most persistent form of irrationality, Western religion.

    The market is never completely knowable, unless you study it and hear what it is telling you. Those who hear it and follow its edicts deserve a privileged place above the masses. If the masses would just discipline themselves to what the masters of the universe tell them, they too could be a success. This is the same argument made by every member of the clergy in Western history. The ever mysterious, never completely knowable God (the market) must be interpreted by the privileged clergy (financial gurus and business leaders) and passed on to the congregation (the poor) so that the masses can live the right way.

    The hidden lie is highlighted in the scene with Gecko and Fox referenced earlier, “wealth is neither created, nor destroyed, it is transferred.” We know this isn’t true, because wealth did disappear (economists’ words, not mine) in the 2008 financial crisis. But applying the arguments above to that assertion, maybe Gecko is correct. Currency, as a store of value, was destroyed. It just disappeared into the aether.

    But the underlying things to which currency is supposed to assign a value–capital–still exist. Land didn’t disappear. Neither did the minerals to mine. Nor did the people who do the manual labor to produce goods and services from those resources. What disappeared is the proxy used to assign a value to something. In science, use of a poor proxy inevitably leads to poor science. Science can only be successful if there is sufficient stability in a system. If the foundation of a system is unstable, then the priors must be changed.

    The people who claim to revere Adam Smith, as Chomsky has pointed out before, selectively read from his work to justify the political ideas they likely formed well before they learned what a demand curve is. The economic focused portion of the Far Right (not necessarily the silly cultural idiots that became prominent during 2016) see themselves as continuing an historical trend of breaking free from the shackles of government to promote individual agency. I’ve made the argument in this comment section before, that if you showed some passages from On the Wealth of Nations to some of these charlatans, they would swear it came from Marx.

    Many of these same people lament the moral hazard and poor incentive structure that government assistance creates. They are silent on the moral hazard created when one generation passes their wealth on to the next generation who only get it by the providence of being born to those parents. They are likewise silent on the notion that incentive structures are a less overt form of social engineering.

    I’ve heard many Right Wing Libertarians argue that people ignore the role of charity. There are two problems with this.

    First, if the rich were so generous, why would they politically engineer tax breaks for themselves if their giving was aimed at being generous? In fact, the tax breaks themselves make their relationship to beneficiaries transactional rather than giving our of goodness.

    Second, arguing that charity preserves liberty and encourages self-reliance is patently absurd. Relying on the whims of others for survival and a decent living standard isn’t freedom in any real sense. In contrast, it creates a hierarchy in which the freedom of the wealthy is more important than the freedom of the poor.

    (Warning: tangential aside imminent. This is similar to the problem with the Citizens United decision. The problem is two-fold.

    First, equating political donations as speech ties what common law considers to be a natural right to financial status. Unless economic outcomes are equal for all, the right is no longer conferred by birth, it is conferred upon those wealthy enough to give. That is in direct opposition to the notion of a natural right. Speech is no longer free.

    Second, it relies on previous decisions that conferred legal personhood to a group of people as an entity-in-itself. This is absurd, because the simplest logical test of the personhood of an entity is whether that entity can be physically harmed or confined. It need not be the only test, but logically anything that fails that test cannot in any real sense be a person.

    Though the connection to the charity argument is tangential, the steps used to get to the conclusion share an error: they violate parsimony. The advocates eschew simpler, more direct logic to preserve a worldview rather than take the shortest route to a solution. In the former example, they ignore the obvious: that reliance on a capricious upper class to give from excess is literally the opposite of freedom. Also, for the Christian set, giving only from excess is criticized directly by Jesus.)

    Compare Economics to one of the branches of natural science. There are Universities that require students and faculty to sign a statement of faith, including belief in six day creation. They also have Biology departments. How much trust could you possibly give to a Biologist who thinks evolution is a lie formulated by Satan? Given that evolution is one of the pillars of Biology, not much.

    There are many economics departments funded, at least in part, by Koch foundation grants. One of them, from Guarneri’s neck of the woods used to require a class called the Moral Foundations of Capitalism. One of the main texts used in the course was Atlas Shrugged, provided free of charge of course by a grant from BB&T. I don’t know if they still require the class, or if they do, whether the reading selection is the same.

    Interestingly, a friend of mine told me he had e-mailed the professor who taught that class, outlining his objections to using Rand in an Economics class. The professor responded by threatening to report the student for academic bullying. I should say that my friend, an English major, had a way of using language that can be aggressive and cutting. So maybe his tone offended the professor. But regardless, it is pretty telling that the response wasn’t a defense, but a threat.

    The scientific method is designed to limit the influence of the scientist’s bias, including ideology. Put another way, human moral values can be informed and bolstered by scientific study; science that aims to justify prior moral values ain’t science.

    These are just general objections to the dominant paradigm in Macroeconomics and, indeed, the rotten foundations of the dismal science. One of the reasons I think I’m on the right track is when I have raised these objections, intelligent and accomplished people have responded with, “well, we have to study it. What should we do just throw up our hands and forget it?” This particular straw argument is galling, not only because it comes from people who should know better, but because it is they who are giving up.

    To be clear, my criticism of economic theory is not so much that it is bad science, it’s that it is not even wrong.

    As such, I have my doubts that merely reintroducing the idea that land is a singular form of capital would do all that much to alleviate those ills. But short of a wholesale revolution in economics, it may at least provide a better way forward.

    So let’s return to the point of this essay, land. The prevailing dogma current in economics would imply that the homeless are lacking in moral character and intellectual skills. That if they are homeless, it is their own fault. Not only is the former silly, the latter is just wrong. I remember reading a homeless advocate discussing this assumption. It requires learning so many things to be able to survive without a home. You have to learn how long it takes to travel to a location on foot, where it is safe to sleep, where you can panhandle, where you can acquire decent food or a blanket, where you will not be harassed by law enforcement. Solving problems in that situation requires a logic that a stupid person would not be able to manage. Similar things are true for those addicted to drugs.

    Homelessness and widespread drug addiction are a functions of a systemic failure in political economy, not a result of an individual’s lack of moral character or intellectual abilities.

    Land, and to some extent, water, is unlike clothing and food in that it cannot be produced by reallocating financial resources. Tony Soprano, the guy who “[understood] Freud” because he “had a semester and a half of college,” knew this. Treating it like it’s a factory that somebody designed and built solely from the owner’s mind is not only ignorant of significant differences between the two, it is the height of arrogance. It is placing human industry above the laws of nature. This thought process is no different from the philosophies of old that placed the Earth at the center of the Universe.

    Until our political system recognizes what Soprano, Smith and George (what a grouping) knew to be true, land will be subject to the whims of the market–just one more thing that the economically fortunate and politically dominant class use to enrich themselves at the expense of the rest. Reducing government intervention doesn’t make power go away. It just changes how authority is exercised.

    Regarding food, the market has been able to reach a scale that benefits most. It’s not necessarily true that healthful food is affordably available to all. Malnutrition is still a problem for some of the poorest Americans. But with the following caveats, it has been largely successful.

    Farming success isn’t exactly a free market, as acknowledged above, it is heavily subsidized. Also, those subsidies often benefit large conglomerates rather than small farms.

    There are significant ethical problems associated with industrial farming, particularly the treatment of sentient animals. Additionally, the use of chemicals has resulted in the contamination of water supplies.

    The environmental externalities associated with farming contribute to global warming and put long term farming at risk, not to mention a significant systemic risk to the global community as a whole. The effects of climate change are likely largely unpredictable but will certainly impact the putative subject of this essay, land.

    As for clothing, excess is the hallmark of the fashion industry. But even some parts of a wardrobe, particularly those designed cold environments are still quite expensive for the economically unfortunate. The fact is, in a consumption-oriented culture, fashion and appearance have some impact on psychological well-being. As superficial as that seems, people being content with dressing like Trotsky isn’t going to happen any time soon.

    Land, or the need that is not human-producible, is a completely different situation. Post World War II America saw economic innovation in the construction of houses. But the underlying capital–land, because of its unique properties–is the true value in real estate. It is not uncommon for the wealthy to purchase an opulent home on highly desirable land just to tear it down to build a new one.

    Florida may mostly be claimed by the ocean due to rising sea levels. Other low-lying cities, Manhattan comes to mind, are at risk of more frequent, severe flooding now, and complete submersion later.

    The need for shelter has been either ignored or addressed with poorly planned policy choices. Too often, community redevelopment projects are funded to replace politically and economically neglected neighborhoods only to be developed for the upper-middle class and the wealthy.

    Large scale public housing in urban areas failed, because other systemic economic imbalances went unaddressed. Chicago’s attempt to reverse this, by more widely distributing families in public housing to different areas seems to have increased violence via disruption of gang-related networks of crime fighting over turf in a new geographic landscape.

    A similar dynamic to the Chicago policy is portrayed after the destruction of a public housing high-rise in the third season of The Wire. Interestingly, former Baltimore Sun crime reporter, and show creator, chooses an unlikely character to voice his criticism of patchwork government reforms. The caucasion show-runner had a wide-range of choices to deliver his critique: drug lords, soldiers in those organizations, union leaders, dock workers, teachers, administrators, politicians, street cops, thoughtful detectives, journalists, social workers, high-ranking police officers all could credibly deliver a scathing retort to political efforts to solve housing issues related to poverty. He even could have realistically had a highly intelligent, gay stick-up boy who has a strict moral code formulate his particular claim.

    Instead, he chooses a person even more alien to mainstream Americans: a New Yorker named Brother Mouzone comes to town with his dim-witted bodyguard Lamar to seek vengeance upon a high-ranking leader of a drug organization who issued a contract on his life. Mouzone, a hitman/enforcer dressed in Nation of Islam black suit complete with bowtie, delivers the line that is the central theme of the entire series.

    Lamar asks, “what happened to them towers?”

    The reply, “slow train comin’.”

    “Huh?”

    “Reform, Lamar, Reform.”

    One of the other main storylines in that season is the attempt by the second-in-command of the drug organization introduced in the first season to create a legitimate revenue stream through luxury property development. In order to win approval for construction permits, he has to bribe a Maryland State Senator.

    Later in the show, another kingpin discusses with a colleague the profit he realized from buying property and “waiting for White people to show up to buy it.”

    The Sopranos portrays a scam involving HUD grants. Tony and one of his Capos allies with a corrupt assemblyman and an African-American community leader who runs a non-profit purchase vacant houses through charitable organization and take the money government grant for themselves. After the project never comes to fruition, the non-profit folds and the Federal money has been pocketed by the politician, the mobster and the community leader.

    The punchline comes when the Assemblyman and the community leader reminisce about their idealistic younger days. They were going to be leaders of a revolution. The African-American guy responds, “the revolution was sold. Did you hear The Beatles for H&R Block?”

    Yet another television show, The Riches, interrogates economic class through the eyes of a family of Irish Travellers, the Malloys, who split their time between an RV and a commune of other clans of Travellers. The patriarch of the Malloys, Wayne, is a charming, brilliant conman.

    After an accident leads to the death of a couple, Doug and Sherene Rich, the Malloys assume the deceased couple’s identities, and move into the Rich’s newly purchased home in an exclusive gated community.

    Eventually, Wayne finds work as an attorney for the development company that built their new neighborhood despite being a con artist with no legal education or experience. Eventually, signing an agreement to become a partner.

    The developer, Hugh Panetta, bears more than a passing resemblance, in manner and appearance, to a chicken-fried Donald Trump. Unlike Trump, Hugh is a self-made man, but like Trump, he is not respected by the patrician residents of the community he built.

    At one point, Panetta confides to Wayne that he needs new investors to keep going. When Wayne reminds him of his net worth, the response is, “on paper!”

    A fun side note here: Panetta, in another departure from Trump, loves guns. He uses portraits of various people for target practice in his backyard. The one he saves the most bullets for is Alan Dershowitz, yelling out, “ah, Dershowitz, you liberal scum!” Things change.

    Panetta hatches a plan to develop another community. In order to secure government funding, he agrees to allocate a portion of the new community for low income housing. Panetta indicates that this would be the third phase of the development. Naturally, he never plans to get to that point, because he knows that no one would be interested in a community of expensive McMansions if they would sharing space with low income people.

    On the surface, these three examples imply that government programs are exploited by politicians, criminals and shady businesses to enrich themselves. And that is true–it happens. This is one of the examples a Right Wing critic may cite to argue against government assistance–that the return on investment of such programs is too low to justify the cost, because a significant portion of the spending ends up in the pockets of private citizens who least need it.

    But really, it’s an argument for better administration of public programs. For one thing, it seems implausible that the only reason criminals, real estate developers and local politicians exploit people is because of the government. It is more believable to assume that individuals willing to exploit the government for financial gain will find other avenues to cheat their way to riches. After all, Trump made a living using high priced lawyers to either win lawsuits filed after he refused to pay subcontractors for their work or to deter others from pursuing civil cases against him.

    Another reason that the Libertarian view is overly simplistic: the housing market is skewed toward less affordable housing, because construction costs are massive.

    Hidden in the example from The Riches is yet another reason. NIMBYs will often fight any kind of affordable housing being constructed around them. Part of it is financial. They fear that it will negatively impact the value of their home. Part of it is paranoia–they fear affordable housing will bring crime to their area. Some of it is classism or in some cases, racism.

    It may seem odd to use three examples from fictional television shows to discuss a real world problem. But the examples above provide a better window into the economic problems facing America. Maybe you will find incisive critiques of housing policy and private developers in The Nation or Jacobin. You may even find a limp call for more government assistance in mainstream, “left-leaning” publications like The Atlantic or the New York Times.

    But the former two magazines are specifically aimed at the Left–Jacobin is explicitly Democratic Socialist. The latter two are callow in their criticism of American Capitalism. There are two main reasons for this: the reflexive charge from the Right that any criticism of the free market is a call for a socialist revolution, and the organization itself benefits from the current structure of the market. These are the reasons the Times employs Ross Douthat, the Washington Post publishes George Will and Newsweek publishes neutered, smarmy op-eds from Shapiro. It does not pay enough to rock the boat.

    The fictional scenarios described above can be much more pointed in their criticisms, because they are wrapped in engrossing stories. Of course, not every viewer will dig deep enough to see the themes. But the kernels of truth can sink into the subconscious of the viewer, and with enough real world pain, make a difference in someone’s willingness to consider alternatives to the status quo.

    The housing crisis will only deepen as climate change worsens and rising inequality begins to turn aspiration into defeatism. The largest expense for individuals and families over the course of their lifetimes is shelter.

    Now, I suppose it is time to float a few ideas to fix housing. As I have implied in the past, I am more Bernie than Warren in my political and economic views. Their policy proposals are quite similar. But it seems to me that the former sees his platform as a starting point for sweeping changes, while the latter seems to see her policies as protective of the current system. But I hold no illusions that systemic change is possible without a serious collapse.

    One idea I had was to enact punitively high taxes for any home beyond a primary residence, and any revenue generated from those taxes could be used to redevelop blighted neighborhoods.

    Along similar lines, significant tax breaks and subsidies for developers who build affordable housing and large tax penalties for developers of gated and other luxury communities and buildings may be able to change the current incentive structure

    Some metros that have large swaths of vacant housing require anyone purchasing homes to buy whole blocks. If they wanted to ensure that whole blocks are redeveloped simultaneously, subsidizing a co-op structure may help revitalize ghost communities and encourage residents to form real neighborhoods.

    Policies aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change are inevitable. We can start now by banning or at least heavily taxing newly constructed single family homes.

    If California’s new zoning regulations pass, and help alleviate the spiraling cost of housing, hopefully other states will follow its lead.

    Cities should set up areas for the homeless to build tents. Local ordinances aimed at the homeless punish them rather than helping them. They have a right to exist. As it stands now, the homeless are treated as subhuman by those who don’t think they have no place.

    The Federal Government should pull the resources used toward enforcing drug laws and incarcerating offenders and use it to focus on treatment.

    Many may disagree with my assessment that our economy and broader society closely resembles indentured servitude. I understand it seems hyperbolic or merely rhetorical. Many, if not, most people in this country have little choice but to take on massive debt to live with a reasonably high living standard.

    In the end, the only answer may be a robust UBI. But I am a little unclear on how it would impact the larger economy, particularly inflation. Perhaps the Federal Government should provide cities and states with grants to launch pilot programs.

    All I know is that if current trends hold, there is going to be a serious reckoning. It ain’t gonna be pretty.

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  6. An Interested Party says:

    @Teve: Try this link

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  7. Kurtz says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Yeah, it’s one thing to feel bad for Barron. It’s a wholly different thing to feel bad for someone who willingly chose to marry into that family.

    Say whatever about Melania, but she does seem to really care for her child. But I do hope she leaves once Trump is out of office.

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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Missouri could jail librarians for lending ‘age-inappropriate’ books

    A Missouri bill intended to bar libraries in the US state from stocking “age-inappropriate sexual material” for children has been described by critics as “a shockingly transparent attempt to legalise book banning” that could land librarians who refuse to comply with it in jail.

    Under the parental oversight of public libraries bill, which has been proposed by Missouri Republican Ben Baker, panels of parents would be elected to evaluate whether books are appropriate for children. Public hearings would then be held by the boards to ask for suggestions of potentially inappropriate books, with public libraries that allow minors access to such titles to have their funding stripped. Librarians who refuse to comply could be fined and imprisoned for up to one year.

    “The main thing is, I want to be able to take my kids to a library and make sure they’re in a safe environment, and that they’re not gonna be exposed to something that is objectionable material,” Baker told a local news station. “Unfortunately, there are some libraries in the state of Missouri that have done this. And that’s a problem.”

    Titles including Sherman Alexie’s award-winning The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, a young adult novel about the rape of a teenager, have all come under fire in Missouri over the last decade.

    My sons grew up reading books. Where ever we went, they brought books. Even now, when we talk it is inevitable that our latest books will come up.

    I never worried about what books they were reading when they were growing up. I figured if they were literate enough to read it, they were capable of understanding it. (an offshoot of my mother’s “If they’re old enough to ask the question, they’re old enough to get the answer.”) Not everybody feels that way. OK, fine. If you want to raise intellectually stunted children, I guess you have that right.

    But now this asshole wants to send librarians to prison for not doing the job he is too lazy to do for himself.

    More letters to write.

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  9. Kurtz says:
  10. Sleeping Dog says:
  11. Sleeping Dog says:

    One of the small mysteries of life is why armored car robberies seldom happen anymore. They do make for great stories.

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/01/16/metro/great-brinks-robbery-70-year-old-question-what-happened-money/

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  12. Joe says:

    While I find his revelations quite troubling, I am taken with the thought that Lev Parnas might be the Michael Avvenotti of 2020.

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  13. Kathy says:

    Hey, El Cheeto succeeded in getting Ukraine to announce an investigation.

    The Ukrainian government has opened an investigation into the possible illegal surveillance of Marie Yovanovitch when she was the US ambassador to Kyiv, following the publication of messages about her between two associates of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer.

    Not the one he wanted, and not a phony investigation, but a lot better than nothing, right? Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

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  14. Joe says:

    I remember being a little taken aback, OzarkHillbilly, when my mid-teen son took up an interest in Kurt Vonnegut and the topics that came along with that, till I took a breath and recalled that that was about the time in my life I did exactly the same thing and, in fact, he had heard about Vonnegut from me.

    I agree with you these are valid parental choices, but it is up to the parents, not the state, to make and enforce them.

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  15. Joe says:

    @Kathy: Thanks Ozymandias (or Shelley). This certainly disproves the concept that Ukraine is incapable of announcing investigations. I can’t wait for the Republicans to go digging for the call that forced Zelensky to do this.

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  16. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Doesn’t the Bible have lots of very “age inappropriate” violent and sexually charged passages?

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  17. Paul L. says:

    From Progressive Feminist thought leader Amanda Marcotte.
    https://www.salon.com/2020/01/16/state-of-emergency-high-tension-in-virginia-as-right-wing-gun-fanatics-descend-on-richmond/
    Far right pro-gun group are Neo-Nazi terrorist groups.

    Why did Virginia’s governor declare a state of emergency in Richmond. In short, to prevent another Charlottesville

    Pass No Fly No Buy. No one on the No Fly list should possess a gun. .
    Ban anyone on the Terrorist Watch list from possessing a gun.
    Add all members of the Extremist right Domestic Terrorist group the NRA to the Terrorist Watch list.
    Make them support the Rule of Law.

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  18. Teve says:

    Lara Trump is another Piece of Shit.

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  19. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Apparently Trump’s legal team for Impeachment will be: Cippilone, Sekulow, Ken Starr (kicked out of Baylor for letting football players off on sexual assault) , Robert Ray (worked with Ken Starr on the Clinton witch hunt), and (credibly accused pedophile) Alan Dershowitz.

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  20. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:

    Make them support the Rule of Law.

    A member of Cult#45 talking about the Rule of Law.
    I’m ROTFLMAO

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  21. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: if Missouri wants to fine and jail people for letting kids access inappropriate books, fine. I can think of one book in particular that has rape, incest, genocide, animal sacrifices, polygamy, shit, all manner of inappropriate things and so anyone who pushes it on kids goes to the hoosegow.

    ETA dangit Kathy beat me.

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  22. Mike in Arlington says:

    Did anybody see the excerpt published today from “A Very Stable Genius” in the WaPo?

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/youre-a-bunch-of-dopes-and-babies-inside-trumps-stunning-tirade-against-generals/2020/01/16/d6dbb8a6-387e-11ea-bb7b-265f4554af6d_story.html

    It’s chilling and sickening.

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  23. Paul L. says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    Support the Rule of Law by surrendering your firearms and reporting to the nearest large City Police department to be sent to camps/gulags.
    For GOPe ” Rule of Law” == Cops and Order.
    No defense of Amanda Marcotte or the secret US Government lists No Fly No Buy/Terrorist Watch?

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  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Joe: There’s one small difference between Parnas and Avenetti.

    Avenetti is screaming “I’M INNOCENT! TOTALLY INNOCENT!”
    Parnas is calmly stating, “I’m guilty. Yes, I did these things.”

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  25. gVOR08 says:

    @Mike in Arlington: I did see that WAPO srory. I commented to the effect that Mattis, Tillerson, Cohn, et al did nothing about it and are doing nothing about it. So they really are dopes and babies.

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  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Yeah, but they don’t let them read those books either.

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  27. gVOR08 says:

    @Paul L.: Who TF is Amanda Marcotte and why has she displaced the Duke Lacrosse guys?

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  28. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Paul L.:
    You need to learn to use the English Language properly.
    Nothing you type makes sense.
    On the odd occasion it makes sense, it is wrong.

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  29. Teve says:

    @rauchway

    ‘“I wouldn’t go to war with you people,” Trump told the assembled brass.
    Addressing the room, the commander in chief barked, “You’re a bunch of dopes and babies.”’

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  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Paul L.:

    Make them support the Rule of Law.

    If a law banning the sale and possession of AR-15s, AK-47s and other weapons of that ilk is passed and duly signed into law by the governor/president you are going to support it? Glad to hear it! Welcome aboard the sanity train!

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  31. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: Amanda Marcotte is a liberal blogger who has written pieces for places like Slate. In 2007 she criticized the Duke douchebags in the Lacrosse case.

    Duke Lacrosse is Paul’s obsessive rumination.

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  32. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Joe:

    While I find his revelations quite troubling, I am taken with the thought that Lev Parnas might be the Michael Avvenotti of 2020.

    I think that is likely. So what?
    Avenati helped to put Cohen in jail, and make Trump an un-indicted co-conspirator in election fraud. He also got Stormy out of her NDA so we could all hear about Trumps little mushroom weenie, and his less than average prowess in the bedroom.
    All this other shit Avenati got into is unrelated.

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  33. Paul L. says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    The McCain-Feingold law was passed and duly signed into law by the governor/president.

    Citizens United, a conservative 501(c)(4) nonprofit that has funded a dozen political documentaries over the years, produced a critical documentary about Hillary Clinton in 2008 entitled “Hillary: The Movie.” By a decision of the federal government, which was enforcing the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (known more broadly as McCain-Feingold), this piece of political speech was banned from television.

    Let’s boil it down to the essential words: Political documentary, banned, government.

    Let’s boil it down to the essential words of Progressive defense: DARK MONEY!

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  34. Kurtz says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Yeah, Paul L. Reminds me of what Foucault said about Derrida.

    With Derrida, you can hardly misread him, because he’s so obscure. Every time you say, “He says so and so,” he always says, “You misunderstood me.” But if you try to figure out the correct interpretation, then that’s not so easy. I once said this to Michel Foucault, who was more hostile to Derrida even than I am, and Foucault said that Derrida practiced the method of obscurantisme terroriste (terrorism of obscurantism). We were speaking French. And I said, “What the hell do you mean by that?” And he said, “He writes so obscurely you can’t tell what he’s saying, that’s the obscurantism part, and then when you criticize him, he can always say, ‘You didn’t understand me; you’re an idiot.’ That’s the terrorism part.” And I like that. So I wrote an article about Derrida. I asked Michel if it was OK if I quoted that passage, and he said yes.

    http://www.critical-theory.com/foucault-obscurantism-they-it/

    Of course, Paul rarely sticks around to defend what he writes, so there is a difference. But imagine that’s what he thinks when people ask what he meant.

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  35. gVOR08 says:

    @Teve: Damn, I was hoping L had a new obsession. This one is getting old.

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  36. Paul L. says:

    @Teve:

    L had a new obsession.

    I have a objection with subjects that progressive declared faux pas, insulting, toxic and hurtful to handwave away.
    See UVA/Rolling Stone, Covington, FISA Abuse, IRS targeting Tea Party groups, Fast and Furious Gunwalking, Secret Government list that remove Rights, Qualified, Prosecutorial immunity and Judicial Immunity.

    “I had to listen to how the poor, dear [white privileged males] are being persecuted just because they held someone down and f**ked her against her will – not rape, of course, because the charges have been thrown out. Can’t a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it? So unfair.”

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  37. Neil Hudelson says:

    I don’t know who Amanda Marcotte is, and why her write up of a widely published newsworthy event is problematic, but I am glad Paul brought up The Base. I’m skeptical whenever the FBI announces a domestic terrorism arrest, because they have a strong (and recent) history of giving people bombs and guns to heighten the charges, but this case is newsworthy on its own.

    From the Daily Beast:

    The three suspects—Brian Mark Lemley, William Garfield Bilbrough, and Canadian fugitive Patrik Mathews—face a variety of gun charges. Lemley and Bilbrough are also accused of illegally harboring Mathews, a former Canadian military reservist who fled his home country after being accused of being a recruiter for The Base. The trio is expected to face a federal judge in Maryland on Thursday afternoon.

    The Base, which is derived from the English translation of the name of radical Islamic terrorist group al Qaeda, is a white supremacist paramilitary group committed to race war.

    Lemley and Mathews had allegedly built an assault rifle and amassed hundreds of rounds of ammunition before their arrest, according to the FBI. On a recording, Lemley said he had made the gun into an illegal machine gun and made plans to hide it from federal agents, according to the FBI.

    “Oh oops, it looks like I accidentally made a machine gun,” Lemley, a former cavalry scout in the U.S. Army, said, according to the affidavit.

    “I’m going to stow it here until next week, just in case the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms] shows up tomorrow,” he told Mathews.

    “Um, if they show up here, we got other problems,” Mathews replied.

    So when Paul cries crocodile tears, realize that he fully understands these are White Supremacist Terrorists. He’s not mad at the label being applied, he’s just mad they were caught.

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  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Paul L.: Let’s get back on topic and boil it down to the essential words of the 2nd Amendment:

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    You know, well regulated? Necessary to the security of a free state? Funny how you 2nd Amendment absolutists all think it begins with the right and ends with “not be infringed”. Not even Scalia believed that horseshit.

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  39. Paul L. says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    You know what a subordinate clause is?
    the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

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  40. Joe says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    You misunderstand my comparison of Parnas to Avenatti as some condemnation of them both. Please accept a little more subtlety into the conversation. Each of Parnas and Avenatti (along with Michael Cohen – gee, Trump seems to attract a lot of these) bring potentially critical and damning information to bear on the world that is Trumpistan, but each is an inherently weak witness, easily dismissed by critics. (It’s no different than having a criminal informant as a prosecution witness at his co-conspirator’s trial.) These are self-made Casandras and those of us who find them credible as corroborating witnesses must still remind ourselves not to rely too heavily, get too close or cheer too loudly. They might be useful, but they are not heros.

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  41. Paul L. says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    Another of my Obsessions. FBI and DOJ misconduct.
    See Cliven Bundy and Ted Stevens.

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  42. DrDaveT says:

    @Joe:

    They might be useful, but they are not heros.

    Indeed. Part of what is so damning about their testimony is what it says indirectly about the caliber of people Trump habitually employs or associates with.

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  43. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Joe:

    They might be useful, but they are not heros.

    You are absolutely right.
    Everything they say has to be taken with a grain of salt, and collaborated.
    Much of what Parnas has said is already collaborated by witnesses under oath.
    But again…you are absolutely right. And the same applies to Trump…a mendacious mother-fuqer if ever there was one.

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  44. Kathy says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    I don’t know who Amanda Marcotte is,

    I believe she’s a blogger or journalist. Her biggest claim to popularity, as far as I can tell, is that many wingnuts love to beat up on her for some reason, and think she’s like the Darling of the Liberal Left(TM). So naturally any criticism of someone you’ve barely heard about should drive you into a frenzy of something or other.

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  45. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kurtz:
    We have reached peak internet…Paul L. is being compared to Derrida…whom Paul L. would have to search on Google.
    LMAO
    Thanks for that…

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  46. Teve says:

    @Paul L.: you’re quoting someone else’s words and attributing them to me. You should be down at hobby lobby buying more pushpins and red string, you loon.

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  47. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Paul L.: PEOPLE. Say it again: PEOPLE.

    Definition: human beings in general or considered collectively

    As written, it is a collective right. (not to belabor the point but in your case I feel it is necessary) Take note of the phrase “a well regulated militia”. There is no such thing as a militia of one. And remember who does the regulating. It’s NOT themselves. Also it is about “the security of a free state”. Nobody is secure when any yahoo with an itchy trigger finger and a long list of grudges is allowed to run around anywhere they want any time they want with any firearm they want.

    For the record, I have firearms. I actually use my firearms from time to time, not just during deer season or target practice. I live in a place where the closest law enforcement is 20 mins away and NOT going to come, and the ones who will come are at least 30 mins away and just as likely an hour away. But I do not have and feel no need to own an assault weapon.

    I also do not carry one of my handguns every where I go just because I might “need” it. A buddy of mine from STL owns some hunting property nearby. In a conversation he mentioned that when he is on his property he always carries his .45 in case of bears. I said, “D? I live out there and I don’t carry a gun.” When I go for a visit to his place during deer season they are ALL walking around strapped to the gills. I want to scream at them, “IT”S FUCKING TOOL NOT A DAWGDMNED FASHION STATEMENT.”

    When I go into the local hardware store there is always somebody carrying. They look every bit as ridiculous as I would wearing my carpenters belt fully loaded. I have to resist the urge to walk up to them and say, “Thank you for your service. I feel so much safer. One never knows when the 2x4s are going to attack.”

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  48. OzarkHillbilly says:

    You know you’ve reached peak wingnut when serial trespasser Cliven Bundy is somebody’s choice of martyr.

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  49. Gustopher says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I never worried about what books they were reading when they were growing up. I figured if they were literate enough to read it, they were capable of understanding it.

    If they were reading Mein Kampf you might change your tune.

    I don’t think it’s the library’s job to choose appropriate books for your kids, or the states job to force the library to do this, but I think it would be fine for libraries to offer parents a few options to limit things.

    We have computers, we could attach a list of blocked topics to the kid’s library account, chosen but the parents. You might be fine with strong sexual content, but opposed to Jordan Peterson… If your kid checks out Atlas Shrugged you might want to know so you can sit them down and have a long talk about personal responsibility.

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  50. Gustopher says:

    @Paul L.:

    the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    You might want to learn about collective nouns. “The people” is a group — this says nothing about individuals.

    We restrict individuals rights to bear arms all the time. An individual cannot possess weapons of mass destruction.

    To put it into wing-nut-ese: “even if you sexually identify as an Apache Attack Helicopter, you cannot have an Apache Attack Helicopter, only the national guard can.”

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  51. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: if i were living in bear country I wouldn’t walk around without some completely absurd gun like a Colt Python or something.

    That’s why I don’t live in bear country. If you’re lucky the bear kills you then eats you. If you’re not, it just holds you down while it eats you.

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  52. Kit says:

    @Kurtz: That was interesting, thanks. I don’t really have the time for a thoughtful reply, but I didn’t want your effort to pass by unacknowledged, especially now that we are getting daily open threads! I’m sure that we would all profit from trying to organize our thoughts and put them on paper. Some day, some day…

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  53. Paul L. says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    PEOPLE. Say it again: PEOPLE.

    Definition: human beings in general or considered collectively

    As written, it is a collective right.

    So the 1st and 4th are collective rights as well?
    AMENDMENT I
    … the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    AMENDMENT IV
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…

    Only Government officials can assemble and petition the Government, it is illegal for private individuals to do so.
    Warrants only needed to search Police and Government spaces.
    I am sure after Progressive Justices rule the 2nd is not a individual right. They will do the same for the 1st and 4th.

    Good to know you approve of the Government misconduct in the Cliven Bundy case.

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  54. Teve says:

    Hot new libtard idea: Universal Dental Care. Muuuuuch cheaper than total health, will win over Great Big Piles of Trumpers.

    Then we do Univeral Diabeetus Care…

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  55. KM says:

    @Gustopher :
    Nope. The difference between filters on the internet and in a library all come down to effort. Filters on the internet serve a practical purpose but in RL they’re laziness demanded by the parent.

    I doubt the library contains hardcore snuff film porn that’s ridiculously easy to access that same way the internet is. Millions of sites that a single person can’t legit watch for access on their own even as a full-time job. Libraries require effort – you need to get there, find what you need, actually obtain it, sign it out or stake out a spot to read it. In other words, this sort of thing means parents are going to be involved more then a solitary person on their phone looking up whatever. If you can’t be bothered to keep track of your child reading what you believe to be “offensive”, that means you missed half a dozen opportunities to monitor them and failed. If you care so much, why are you slacking? It also means the *parent* needs to have read said material to know it’s “offensive” and they usually haven’t; since most of these folks wouldn’t know a book if beaten senseless with one, it also places the onus of determining offensiveness by their standards on another. Most of these books from a think tank list and get parroted by parents who’ve never touched said book in their lives. Their lack of literacy is not the child’s fault nor problem.

    I think if a parent wants to prevent their child from reading a specific book, they must read it in full in front of a librarian witness before signing an affidavit stating they fully understand the material and information they are denying a future citizen before being allowed to place the block. The block must be renewed yearly so guess what? Your reading list might take days. You don’t want your kid reading Harry Potter or A Raisin in the Sun or The Little Red Book or My Body and Me? Sit your ass down, pick up the book and prove you understand *why*.

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  56. An Interested Party says:

    @Kurtz: Actually that was a play on words on my part…in the linked article, she talked about how she feels kind of sad for Biden…sure she does…

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  57. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Gustopher:

    If they were reading Mein Kampf you might change your tune.

    Nope. I read parts* of it when I was in HS and I felt like it gave me a better idea of the mindset necessary for Nazism. Take note, that was 45 years ago and all I remember of it is what I stated above, what I felt.

    * parts, because who could ever read the whole of that drivel?

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  58. KM says:

    @Paul L.

    AMENDMENT IV
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated…

    Since 2 words later it says “persons”, this is clearly an individual right. 2A contains no words specifically indicating a singular being the way “person” does. Try again.

    AMENDMENT I
    … the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Ah, ah – there you go leaving out parts of the sentence again. Funny how you’re quoting the last part and leaving out religion and free speech. It’s almost like you know there’s wording in that sentence that supports singular and group rights and cherry-picked to try and make a pointless argument. Weird!

    The simple truth is 2A has been considered a collective right for most of America’s existence, including the times y’all think were glorious haydays we need to return to. If y’all got dragged back to the 50’s they’d be locking your gun nuts asses up for being crazy… and since Willowbrook wasn’t until 20+ years later, that means the old institutions. It’s really become a fetish instead of defense of a right to the point people from past decades wouldn’t understand and would think you were obsessed loons. They used to lock up people for walking around armed to the teeth and raving about things – they never would have tolerated the kind of open-carry to get coffee, body-armor in Walmart BS because it’s *clearly* a symptom of paranoia

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  59. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve:

    If you’re lucky the bear kills you then eats you. If you’re not, it just holds you down while it eats you.

    Actually, 99% of the time the bear runs away. The 1% of the time they don’t is when one is between their cubs and them. And if one has dogs they run or climb a tree 100% of the time.

    I have seen our local bear only one time but I always know when she has been around because the dogs go nuts after they catch her scent.

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  60. Gustopher says:

    @Kurtz:

    In the end, the only answer may be a robust UBI. But I am a little unclear on how it would impact the larger economy, particularly inflation.

    I suspect the introduction of UBI would lead to arguments such as “well, now people can afford to pay to send their kids to public schools” — a destruction of the services that governments currently provide and an effort to recapture that money that will just lead the poor to be poorer, and the middle class to be poor.

    I envision for-profit homeless shelters warehousing the drug-addled dregs of society (now that everyone has an income, we can criminalize sleeping outside even more, because now it is a choice), and doling our the UBI to their residents (minus a hefty fee for the facility), run with all the compassion of for-profit prisons.

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  61. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Paul L.:

    be secure in their persons

    See how the founders noted the difference?

    Good to know you approve of the Government misconduct in the Cliven Bundy case.

    This is rich coming from someone who defends trump’s… misconduct just doesn’t quite cover his blatant crimes…. all the time. And he heads the govt.

    Cliven Bundy was and I fully suspect still is breaking the law, but it’s OK because the govt wasn’t quite perfect. Yeah, we see how much you support “law and order.”

    ETA: you can respond if you like but it will be as substantive as geese farts in the wind and I’m not bothering with you anymore today. I actually have things to do.

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  62. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Oh I know they mostly run away. Mostly. But I’ve also heard bear people say that a mama with her cubs will fake charge you, a male bear will charge you and NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM NOM…

    Brown bears I wouldn’t be too scared of, but if I was in grizzly country I‘d want a bazooka.

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  63. Gustopher says:

    @KM, @OzarkHillbilly: Parents have the dubious right and opportunity to raise their weird little larva however they see fit until it becomes child abuse.

    I would want my hypothetical offspring to have full access to whatever, but I recognize my views are a bit out of mainstream.

    The worst part of these book bans isn’t that some Cleetus doesn’t want his kid reading Slaughterhouse Five, it’s that Cleetus doesn’t want anyone’s kids reading Slaughterhouse Five.

    Give people the tools to raise their kids as they want to, in a way that doesn’t impact other people’s decisions. It’s like not bothering people who want to practice their religion so long as they don’t try to impose it on me.

    (And, if I did have kids, I’d want a quiet notification if they started checking Jordan Peterson books out of the library…)

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  64. KM says:

    @Teve @OzarkHillbilly:
    I’ve got coyotes near me, a whole colony it seems. And let me tell you, they are *not* shy – I’ve seen them out when walking the dogs and they can get *real* close even if you’re not in the woods. I’ve heard from relatives out on the island that they howl all night long and come right up to the glass doors to peer in. Now they’re saying we might have coywolves moving in. First time I saw one from a distance I thought it was a funny-looking whatchamcdoodle type breed that was lost. I’m still not convinced it was a true hybrid but I guess they’re gaining ground rapidly across the US – cities like Chicago, Toronto and NYC have populations in public pars a few feet from regularly populated areas!

    I’ve never considered being armed going out because they back off. They determine if we’re friend or foe, food or threat and when we prove uninteresting, they move on. It’s possible the dog scent might help with that – maybe they’re worried the flattie will jump them or maybe it’s because I clearly belong to a pack or some kind but I’ve never felt threatened. For the most part, Nature isn’t interested in eating you since people are a lot of work. There’s better meals with less risk and effort – people get mauled for doing stupid things or running across an animal that’s rabid or really, really, REALLY desperate. They’re far more likely to go through your trash then take off your face.

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  65. Paul L. says:

    @KM:

    The simple truth is 2A has been considered a collective right for most of America’s existence

    https://twitter.com/charlescwcooke/status/942455457800769536
    You are quoting Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture by prestigious Bancroft Prize winning historian Michael A. Bellesiles who told NRA President Charlton Heston to “earn a Ph.D. before criticizing the work of scholars”.

    Michael Zuckerman, a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania saying “Michael Bellesiles is the NRA’s worst nightmare.” when he destroyed Charlton Heston over Arming America.

    Michael A. Bellesiles is another obsession of mine who progressives are still trying to excuse and defend for his “minor oversights” “and wasn’t quite perfect”.

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  66. Kurtz says:

    @Paul L.: @OzarkHillbilly:

    As much as I hate to say it, Paul is correct about “the people” in this case. Of course, being pedantic about subordinate clauses, but then ignoring plural/singular inversions is kind of weird. Really, the big take away is that we probably should not be trying to use strict grammar constructions when interpreting this particular document.

    He is wrong about everything else of course. It is pretty well documented that during the debate over the second amendment that the disagreement was over the existence of a federal standing army. They were concerned the federal government would violate states rights. Some of the Framers wanted only state militias for defense. So in that sense, the 2A represents a compromise.

    To me, one of my only moderate positions is gun rights. I think the only way to honor the compromise between the various factions of the Framers is to be sensible about it.

    However, he is absolutely wrong about “progressive judges.” In fact, it was the Heller decision that was the first affirmation of an individual right to bear arms by the Supreme Court. Before that, majority decisions held that it was a collective right. If anybody is overturning precedent in an activist manner regarding the 2A, it is the FedSoc judges.

    He also wrong about the NRA, their extremist position is a recent phenomenon. They used to be a reasonable organization. Not anymore.

    Paul is still a barely literate moron, at least based on his posts here.

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  67. KM says:

    @Gustopher :

    Parents have the dubious right and opportunity to raise their weird little larva however they see fit until it becomes child abuse.

    I’m actually not disagreeing – they would have still the right to ban whatever their wizened hearts desire to protect the children’s sensibilities. I’m merely putting in a filter to prevent abuse of the system, the kids in question and make sure this is what they truly want. Who knows, perhaps reading the book may make them see the list they got online from that conservative FB group wasn’t so bad after all. I’ve always believed what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. If this book is truly offensive or not what they want their kids to see, fine. That’s their right as a parent. However, parenting requires work and lately it seems they’re farming it all to groups like One Million Moms that then get weird about swearing in burger commercials. They’re not banning something because it’s offensive to them, they’re doing it because they are being told it’s offensive. How can you make an informed decision if you’ve never read it yourself?

    We let parents get away with *a lot* under the mantel of parental rights. Especially as we are becoming an information-driven yet strangely fact-free society, the right to restrict your child’s access to information is quickly becoming important and thus the definition of “abuse” is going to change. I wouldn’t be surprised in the next decade to see lawsuits of behalf of teenagers denied access by parents classifying it as isolation as abuse and succeed. Having said access be arbitrarily-determined (“I don’t like it!”) instead of reason-based (“I’ve personally read it and this is why it’s unacceptable”) won’t help.

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  68. Paul L. says:

    @Kurtz:

    He also wrong about the NRA, their extremist position is a recent phenomenon. They used to be a reasonable organization. Not anymore.

    When did I say that?
    Before Russian agent Wayne LaPierre took over the NRA and turned it into a extremist Domestic terrorist organization, The NRA supported gun control laws like National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act of 1968 which should be repealed.

    Paul is still a barely literate moron

    It only seems that way because I quote, steal , twist and pervert progressives talking points.
    “This subject is hurtful, insulting and toxic.”
    “WhatAboutism”
    “Sign the following gun safety/reform/control bills. H.R. 8, H.R .112, H.R. 1296, H.R. 1236, H.R. 1186 and H.R. 2708. amended to only apply to registered Democrats.”
    “Love is love unless the persons are minor, related or already married:”
    “I identify as a…’

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  69. Gustopher says:

    @Kurtz:

    Really, the big take away is that we probably should not be trying to use strict grammar constructions when interpreting this particular document.

    Fun Fact: The Second Amendment was never properly ratified. Different states ratified different text, and it was deemed “close enough” despite there being no provision for doing so.

    It differed by a comma, but if we want to have Rule Of Law, we have strayed.

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  70. Kurtz says:

    @Paul L.:

    Okay, Paul. Point to a single Supreme Court decision prior to Heller when the majority upheld the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right.

    I’ll wait…

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  71. Tyrell says:

    2020 has an active start:

    1- January 6 electric charge hits Norway, causing unusual auroras and other anomalies. (Electro Verse)

    2- Peru volcano erupts (Relief Web)

    3- January 10 Huge volcano blows in Phillipines (CNN)

    4- January 16 Russia hit by major quake (Earth Science)

    5- January 16 Puerto Rico hit by successive quakes. (NPR)

    This could be the result of stronger gravitational waves from space (NYT) I am thinking the unusual electrical strike and disturbances are the key. Perhaps it could be from the fluctuations in the magnetosphere. But what is causing that?

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  72. Paul L. says:

    @Kurtz:
    United States v. Miller

    Gun rights advocates claim this case as a victory because they interpret it to state that ownership of weapons for efficiency or preservation of a well-regulated militia unit of the present day is specifically protected.

    Can you tell me the single Supreme Court decision when the majority upheld the 1st Amendment/Free Speech is an individual right?
    What other Constitution Amendments are Group/Collective rights?

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  73. Teve says:

    Trump’s new lawyer is Alan Dershowitz, who coincidentally also defended Trump-buddy Jeffrey Epstein.

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  74. Gustopher says:

    @Paul L.:

    It only seems that way because I quote, steal , twist and pervert progressives talking points.

    You don’t do it well.

    Also, while sarcasm can be an effective tool for ridiculing a position, it’s not an effective tool for advancing an alternative position. Your comments are frequently unintelligible to anyone who doesn’t speak wingnuttese.

    For instance, look at the bafflement caused by your reference to Amanda Marcotte. In common parlance she’s a random minor blogger most people haven’t heard of, while in Wingnuttese she is apparently the embodiment of all left-wing thought.

    You’re trying to craft zingers in a foreign language, and maybe Guanoberries is laughing and saying “heh, good one, El Paulo” but everyone else thinks it’s gibberish.

    You’re performing for an audience that isn’t there.

    Also, too, Buick LaCrosse.

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  75. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Tyrell:

    Neither global volcanic or global tectonic activity is above average.

    This could be the result of stronger gravitational waves from space (NYT)

    The NYT articles I’ve read on gravitational waves make absolutely no claims that it is driving largescale tectonic or volcanic activity. It’s been theorized that “micro earthquakes” could result from such waves, and it’s been put forth that measuring minute tectonic activity could help identify gravitational waves. I stress that “minute” is the operative word here.

    But what is causing that?

    Earthquakes result from movement of tectonic plates against each other, generally from either subductive or lateral movements. (That is, one plate slipping under the other, or one plate sliding next to the other.)

    Volcanic activity can also result from tectonic activity, when one plate pulls away from the other. This can result in a new volcano. Many currently-existing volcanos have regular or irregular cycles of activity. As an example, Vesuvius will probably erupt again sometime in the next millennia. When it does, it will not be because of the anger of the gods, outerspace gravitational waves, pyramids, or any other such nonsense.

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  76. Gustopher says:

    @Paul L.: The civil war amendments incorporated a lot of the Bill of Rights to apply to the state governments, as well as the federal government.

    Before that, it was settled law that the states could violate most of them, and that they were collective rights (with the group being the state).

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  77. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Teve:
    It’s better than just that.
    Dersh is a credibly accused pedophile, who, as you said, defended Epstein.
    Starr let Baylor FB players off on charges of sexual assault…and was shown the door for it.
    And of course, their client is an admitted sexual offender.

    And as an unrelated side-bar…one of Trumps biggest defenders, Matt Gaetz, is now accused of starting a game where points are awarded for “sleeping with aides, interns, lobbyists, and married legislators.”

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  78. Kurtz says:

    @Paul L.:

    Exactly my point before I engaged your post directly:

    obscurantisme terroriste

    The subversion tactic is only appropriate in narrow circumstances and when it is done well enough that the point is clear. Pick your battles and execute properly if that is your goal.

    Secondly, this isn’t a board full of progressives in the sense that you mean. We have many regular posters here who are from center-right to center-left. Some of us are economic progressives. There are even a few of us who would identify with some form of socialism.

    But most of us are concerned about certain aspects of the social progressives. If you’re interested, I can go into detail about the root of the problem in that part of the Left. Just ask, rather than assuming.

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  79. gVOR08 says:

    @Paul L.: Boy howdy “ Gun rights advocates claim” carries an awful lot of weight there.

    (I followed the link to the WIKI article. Worth reading for entertainment. The case was a bank robber trying to get out of a secondary firearms charge for his sawed off shotgun.)

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  80. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: That Ken Starr is allowed in polite society is a considerable indictment of our supposed elites.

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  81. Kathy says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    Does anyone remember The Jupiter Effect?

    It was slightly less preposterous than the end of the Universe according to the misinterpretation of the Mayan calendar, or the current desire by some wingnuts to bring about the End Times(TM).

    I’d put money on heat-death. Except I wouldn’t, because that’s waaaaaaaay to far off to collect.

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  82. Kathy says:

    @Teve:

    Sorry to say this, but that’s irrelevant.

    Under a system with presumption of innocence, or any other fair legal system, all people facing charges deserve a zealous defense, and therefore a zealous defender. What a lawyer thinks of their client is not relevant to said defense. Nor is the gravity or kind of offense by the client a reflection on the lawyer.

    What Daryl and his brother Darryl brings up is relevant. So we do have a case of unethical lawyers defending a guilty man. But merely defending a very bad person is not relevant, or shouldn’t be.

    I don’t know what gets me to defend lawyers, besides that the most prolific blogger in this site is a lawyer.

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  83. Gustopher says:

    @Paul L.: Also, when you get banned — and at your current rate, I would assume that will happen soon — it won’t be because you’re speaking truths that people here can’t deal with, it will be because you’re deliberately spouting unintelligible gibberish and you have zero respect for the community.

    Most people here would love an intelligent conservative voice, even if we find it frustrating (the whole “Andy is a troll” thing a week ago pissed me off, btw). And I think literally everyone would love to see someone knock Michael Reynolds down a couple of pegs (I think Michael Reynolds would love that too).

    But you don’t even make the effort. You’re just shitposting.

    I understand the joy of shitposting. Probably 10% of my comments are just shitposting. All of Sir Guanoberries comments are shitposting. But there’s an upper limit in terms of absolute quantity.

    I’d encourage you to shitpost less. Whether that means commenting less, or whether that means adding more comments that are intelligible… either would be fine by me. Not that I’m the judge of these things.

    Or, if you derive some pleasure out of it, go for annoying Dr. Taylor enough that he bans you.

    In summary: you go be you, but be mindful of what you are doing.

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  84. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    And as an unrelated side-bar…one of Trumps biggest defenders, Matt Gaetz, is now accused of starting a game where points are awarded for “sleeping with aides, interns, lobbyists, and married legislators.”

    Is there evidence of this, or is it just one of those things that is so in character that everyone assumes it is true? I mean, I assume it is true… and if it wasn’t when the rumor started, you just kind of know that his first thought was “what a great idea”.

    It’s like the child molestation accusations that have followed Woody Allen around. I have no idea if they are true, but he did marry his step-daughter, and he did make Manhattan, so…

    (That did give us one of the best tweets ever, by Ronan Farrow, who tweeted “Happy father’s day — or as they call it in my family, happy brother-in-law’s day”)

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  85. Kurtz says:

    @Paul L.:

    for efficiency or preservation of a well-regulated militia unit of the present day is specifically protected.

    Your own quote implies it as a collective right. Care to cite any other cases.

    This is evidence that my assessment of you as “barely literate” is accurate. This is also why I gave you the advice to only attempt subversion when you can execute it properly. Stick to learning how to read and write simple statements before you try to use a rhetorical device that requires finesse.

    And just to make my point about that. I can make your own argument better than you can. The 2nd Amendment implies individual owenrship of arms, because the expectation was that state militias would be composed of citizen-soldiers and they would maintain their own weaponry. This is the compromise I alluded to before.

    Also, you don’t quote the interpretation in the previous paragraph that gun control advocates make.

    It also helps to throughly read the article you are citing.

    This is from Miller, pulled from the wiki you linked to.

    The Militia which the States were expected to maintain and train is set in contrast with Troops which they were forbidden to keep without the consent of Congress. The sentiment of the time strongly disfavored standing armies; the common view was that adequate defense of country and laws could be secured through the Militia – civilians primarily, soldiers on occasion.

    This is from the majority opinion in Heller onMiller:

    “Miller stands only for the proposition that the Second Amendment right, whatever its nature, extends only to certain types of weapons. It is particularly wrongheaded to read Miller for more than what it said, because the case did not even purport to be a thorough examination of the Second Amendment…We therefore read Miller to say only that the Second Amendment does not protect those weapons not typically possessed by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, such as short-barreled shotguns.”

    Re: the NRA. When you twist the progressive argument to imply they are absurd, by implication, you are supporting the current stances of the NRA.

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  86. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Gustopher:

    Is there evidence of this

    No…which is why I was careful to say “accused”.
    https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/fl-ne-gaetz-latvala-twitter-20200114-hrbeklwtxnbvfnbwvu57nlxvpy-story.html

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  87. Bill says:

    Right at this moment I am upgrading my 10+ year old desktop to Windows 10 from Windows 7. The update is free. Will it work? I felt more confident representing myself through Chapter 7 bankruptcy (All my cancer related medical bills and lack of income because of my inability to work put me in that situation) which I did successfully after Attorneys wanted $4000 to do the same. Say a prayer for me and my PC.

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  88. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kathy:

    What Daryl and his brother Darryl brings up is relevant. So we do have a case of unethical lawyers defending a guilty man.

    It’s like a Fox News panel discussion!!!

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  89. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kathy:
    It could only get better if Trump added Rudy to his team.

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  90. wr says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: “You know you’ve reached peak wingnut when serial trespasser Cliven Bundy is somebody’s choice of martyr.”

    This is Paul L. My guess is he’s working his way up through Cliven Bundy and Ted Stevens to get to his real hero, a man who knew how women want to be treated, Ted Bundy.

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  91. Bill says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    It’s like a Fox News panel discussion!!!

    You know something? I don’t mind listening to talking heads even if I disagree with them. I subscribed to both The New Republic and National Review for over 20 years and I still visit their websites.

    It is certain hosts that will drive me up the wall. Glenn Beck was one. After he made fun of the victims of this- https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/ending_the_widow_penalty/, I turned him off. Such sheer ignorance. The guy on at 5 pm EST weekdays is little better. He comes off as an idiot to me. My Filipina wife has a saying- An empty can is noisy. That certainly applies to him.

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  92. Kurtz says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    Hahaha. Do you think he googled Derrida and thought, “oh this guy is an idiot, he can’t even spell grammar.” ?

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  93. Gustopher says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: A state Representative, willing to go on the record publicly, who hasn’t walked it back as a “joke”… that’s evidence.

    It’s not definitive, absolute evidence, but it’s evidence.

    It’s not a single anonymous source repeating rumors from around Capitol Hill.

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  94. Kathy says:

    @Bill:

    While the Windows 8 war still raged, I installed a preview build of Win10 on a laptop running Windows Vista. It worked well enough.

    I also upgraded a Win7 desktop machine to Win10 just when the upgrade became available (for free). It’s still my home PC and runs well enough. It has given me no problems through the various updates since then.

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  95. MarkedMan says:

    I can think of several reasons why a rando male could be obsessively fixated with a 10 year old case of false rape accusations. None of them reflect well on him. And most of them are very bad indeed.

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  96. Gustopher says:

    @Bill: Please post a sign of life periodically using your phone, if your PC goes down the rabbit hole. And back up your work-in-progress books.

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  97. Bill says:

    @Gustopher:

    Please post a sign of life periodically using your phone, if your PC goes down the rabbit hole. And back up your work-in-progress books.

    Don’t worry, I have two laptops at home. My story about a 100+ year old cow is still safe. (A misfit’s theory about the great Chicago fire. Is Mrs. O’Leary’s no good BIL stuck as a dairy cow for all eternity? Talk about hell on earth even if the guy was a self-confessed murderer….

    I rolled the dice with the desktop but in a month’s time I am going to come into very low five digits thanks to me selling the rights to one of my books. Then I could buy a whole new desktop. Which is my plan. If my desktop don’t crash, I will give it to a friend who’s in need of a PC.

    Computer rebooted in Windows 10. It is 18% working on updates.

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  98. Gustopher says:

    @MarkedMan: it’s about ethics in lacrosse journalism.

    Or it’s simply the highest profile case where rape allegations were made up — since so few allegations are made up you have to reach back quite some time to get one.

    A lot of men fear that they will be victim to a false allegation of sexual harassment (“the b.tch can’t take a joke,” “I didn’t creep on her, I’m just naturally creepy!”) and that the #metoo movement and the shift towards believing women will mean that they can be railroaded out of a job over nothing. It’s a cultural shift where not only do terrible men doing terrible things get punished, but decent men who are just making boorish comments no longer can do so with impunity. And the line between acceptable and unacceptable is changing very rapidly.

    Duke Lacrosse serves as the ultimate reminded that women cannot (always?) be trusted.

    (Personally, I’m willing to trade a few men getting wrongly accused for ending a culture where every single woman is sexually harassed… Even if I turn out to be the guy wrongly accused, I’ll bounce back — I’m a white man, after all.)

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  99. Teve says:

    @Gustopher: it’s about academic traitor Libtards combining forces with lying black bitches to ruin the lives of bright young innocent white men.

    If you wrote this in a work of fiction it would end up on the slush pile.

    I’m just amazed that all the white incels aren’t obsessed with the case.

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  100. Kurtz says:

    @wr:

    If someone discovered Ted Bundy had an unpublished manuscript on being a pick up artist, it would be a bestseller for ten years. I can see the Cernovich quote:

    Say what you must about serial killing. But before I read this book, when things were not going well with a woman, I would just whip it out. Now, I’m suave enough that I only have to unzip a little and she goes right for it!

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  101. Jax says:

    @Kurtz: That was an excellent piece. I have some thoughts, but it’ll take me a bit to get them in order.

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  102. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Kurtz:
    The best Paul L. could do is assume Grammatology is Dr. Bruce Banner must have been studying, when he accidentally exposed himself to gramma rays, and turned himself into the Hulk.

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  103. Joe says:

    Hey Daryl etc., I am going to have to agree with Gustopher here. I think Gaetz is as big of a douche as the next guy, but let’s not start “Matt Gaetz, is now accused of . . .” without some citation of source. This is the same old “people say” that dear leader regularly gets called out on.

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  104. EddieInCA says:

    @wr:

    wr says:
    Friday, January 17, 2020 at 15:50

    @OzarkHillbilly: “You know you’ve reached peak wingnut when serial trespasser Cliven Bundy is somebody’s choice of martyr.”

    This is Paul L. My guess is he’s working his way up through Cliven Bundy and Ted Stevens to get to his real hero, a man who knew how women want to be treated, Ted Bundy.

    Damn you and Reynolds! Damn you to hell!!! That sentence above is why you’ve made such a good life for yourself as a professional writer. Good stuff, man.

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  105. Mister Bluster says:

    Go Giants!
    SF rounds out coaching staff with historic hire
    Assistant coach Alyssa Nakken becomes first woman with role at Major League level

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  106. Teve says:

    Neo-Nazis Arrested Ahead Of Gun Rally Thought They Were Gonna Start A Race War

    Governor Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency in Richmond, Virginia, ahead of a gun rally taking place there on Monday. Police are gearing up and weapons have been temporarily banned from the state Capitol.

    It’s not just any gun rally. It’s not just a bunch of NRA twerps who want to deck themselves out like Rambo and scream “FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS” a whole bunch. It’s a gun rally that will be attended by a bunch of right-wing militias and white supremacists — and in light of everything that’s been going on for the last few years, the city is bracing for a potential armed conflict.

    If anyone ever wanted an advertisement for restrictions on gun purchases, I’m going to say that a cavalcade of neo-Nazis screaming about a “race war” at the state Capitol of Virginia is a good one.

    Just yesterday morning, three members of the white supremacist paramilitary group The Base were arrested by the FBI, which had reason to believe that they had been planning to show up to the rally with weapons and commit an act of violence. One of the men arrested, Patrik J. Mathews, 27 — an explosives expert and former Canadian army reservist — is in the United States illegally. He was charged with possession of a firearm while being in the country illegally.

    White supremacist paramilitary group The Base. Huh. I wonder how you say “the base” in arabic.

    (Story from Wonkette)

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  107. Mike in Arlington says:

    @Teve: There was another story that there were 3 more arrests of members in the same group plotting to assassinate 2 members of antifa.
    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/three-neo-nazis-arrested-over-plot-to-murder-antifa-couple

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  108. Kathy says:

    @Mike in Arlington:

    For some reason, reading about this made me remember Lionel Tribbey.

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  109. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kurtz:

    As much as I hate to say it, Paul is correct about “the people” in this case.

    In fact, it was the Heller decision that was the first affirmation of an individual right to bear arms by the Supreme Court. Before that, majority decisions held that it was a collective right.

    I disagree. According to you, 221 years of US constitutional jurisprudence says I am correct. I’ll settle for that.

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  110. MarkedMan says:

    @Gustopher: I think you give him way too much benefit if the doubt. My operating theory is that he is heavily invested in spreading the idea that women who accuse men of rape are all liars, and that’s because he as every reason to worry that one or more women will accuse him of rape.

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  111. MarkedMan says:

    @Kurtz: God help you man, you are arguing with a Trumper. Why? You are using words and reason as they were intended to be used, but deploying them against someone who’s only goal in using words is to get you to reply so he can sit in front of his computer, smugly thinking, “Hah! I sure got a rise out of him!”

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  112. Paul L. says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    I am too ignorance to understand the realms of true elite Thinkers like String Physics/Theory
    BTW Feminist Blogger Amanda Marcotte was knowledgeable journalistic commentator on MSNBC.
    This is more in keeping with my low level knowledge of philosophy.

    Vroomfondel is a philosopher. He appears in chapter 25 of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, along with his collegue Majikthise, as a representative of the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Sages, Luminaries and Other Thinking Persons The Union is protesting about Deep Thought, the computer which is being asked to determine the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything.

    Vroomfondel and Majikthise maintain that the search for ultimate truth is ‘the inalienable prerogative of your working thinkers’ (Majikthise), demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty (Vroomfondel), and consequently insist that Deep Thought be shut down. At one point Vroomfondel (in an agitated state) even demands that his name is Vroomfondel. However, Deep Thought persuades the philosophers that they can ‘keep themselves on the gravy train for life’ by arguing in public about what answer the computer will eventually give.

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  113. Stormy Dragon says:

    A place for some end of the week jibber-jabber.

    May we also pity the fool, or do we have to save that for a different post?

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  114. Kurtz says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I think you misunderstand what I meant by that. I was arguing that collective rights theory doesn’t rely on “the people,” but on the militia language.

    This article is helpful in understanding my argument.

    Court decisions have long rested on the interpretation of “the people” as referring to a class of people who have standing to assert their individual rights.

    The law review article above concerns tension between the opinions reached in Heller and Verdugo-Urquidez. There are several passages quoting parts of the issued opinions in Hellerthat illustate my point. Emphasis mine.

    The Court first determined that “the right of the peo-
    ple” refers to individuals, not to the militia; proceeding intratextually,
    the Court commented on the meaning of “the people” in other parts of
    the Constitution, noting that the phrase appears seven times.52 And
    “in all six other provisions of the Constitution that mention ‘the peo-
    ple,’ the term unambiguously refers to all members of the political
    community, not an unspecified subset.
    ”53 The Court approvingly
    quoted Verdugo-Urquidez, and approached the rest of its analysis “with
    a strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised
    individually and belongs to all Americans.”54 Next, the Court decided
    that to “keep and bear arms” referred to the purpose of possessing
    arms for self-defense.55 It then noted that longstanding prohibitions
    were still presumptively constitutional, and held that Second Amend-
    ment rights inure at least to “law-abiding, responsible citizens.”56
    In dissent, Justice Stevens said that the “centerpiece” of the Court’s
    argument was its claim “that the words ‘the people’ . . . in the Second
    Amendment must have the same meaning, and protect the same class
    of individuals, as . . . in the First and Fourth Amendments.”57 But he
    criticized the Court for in fact limiting “the people” of the Second
    Amendment to a “significantly narrower” group — law-abiding citi-
    zens — than those entitled to First and Fourth Amendment rights
    .

    I think the majority opinion in Heller by Scalia is unpersuasive as a whole, inconsistent with his claimed judicial philosophy, and most importantly contrary to the principle of stare decisis.

    When I stated I am a moderate on guns to honor a compromise that helped get the Consitution ratified, I was being truthful. But it’s a weak justification for a policy position that has serious real world consequences.

    But the salient reason is that I am pragmatic. I think we can reduce the risk of gun violence through other policy changes, especially an effective healthcare system that can alleviate some of the mental health issues we have in the US. I think a more equitable economic system would also reduce gun violence.

    The thing is, there seem to be two issues that animate the Right more than anything other subject: guns and abortion. De-emphasizing gun control in the Democratic platform has a chance to allow the other messaging to get through.

    As silly as it is, there are plenty of people on the Right that fear if you take their guns away, they won’t be able to protect themselves against tyranny. They also fear that taking away what they view as a right, will just lead to the government taking more rights away. They don’t care much about legal philiosophies or political theory, they just know what they’ve been told.

    I’m not naive enough to think that the GOP won’t find another wedge issue or just do what they do best create straw arguments and lie. But it is worth a shot.

    For what it’s worth, I personally am in favor of repealing the 2A. I just think it is poor politics to emphasize it. I also think it risks serious, widespread violence and social strife when we have many other things to improve.

    ReplyReply
  115. Kurtz says:

    @Gustopher:

    That is one of my concerns with the UBI as well. The most common critique from the Left is that it appears to be

    Now, if it could be designed in a way that would allow people to effectively opt-out of the wage system and still be able to have basic necessities while they exercise freedom to paint or write or practice Naruto running, then I may be for it.

    I included it because it seems like it may have a reasonable chance of gaining traction in the future. And because I wanted to hear what some of you all thought of it.

    I soon will be doing some reading on Modern Monetary Theory, which will likely require a deep dive into chartalism. Also, I am really fun at parties.

    ReplyReply
  116. Kurtz says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I know, I know. Sometimes, I can’t help myself.

    I used to work with this guy who told me in dark tones, that the government has developed a powder that can be blown into people’s faces to turn them into zombies.

    People believe dumb shit.

    ReplyReply
  117. Kurtz says:

    @Kit:

    Thanks. Take your time. As much as I want to hear your thoughts on it, I would settle for more stories about you embarrassing your teenagers.

    ReplyReply
  118. Jax says:

    @Paul L.: Yessss. Every 14 year old I know has a copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in their backpack.

    ReplyReply
  119. @Paul L.:

    It only seems that way because I quote, steal , twist and pervert progressives talking points.

    No. You think you are being clever and skewering your opponents when, in fact, you basically are just spouting nonsense.

    You are doing that thing wherein you might sound funny and clever to people who are in utter agreement with you but when deployed to a general audience sound ridiculous.

    ReplyReply
  120. @Stormy Dragon:

    May we also pity the fool, or do we have to save that for a different post?

    Hey, man, one forum at a time!

    ReplyReply
  121. Teve says:

    @Jax: i usually ignore him, but this time I downvoted Paul for abusing great literature. H2G2 was the bees’ knees.

    “It’s unpleasantly like being drunk.”
    “What’s so unpleasant about being drunk?”
    “You ask a glass of water.”

    ReplyReply
  122. Teve says:

    We need fully operational emojis.

    ReplyReply
  123. Teve says:

    Remember 15 years ago when Fox News was pissed off that Jon Stewart was making fun of conservatives all the time and there was no good conservative comedy show, so they came up with the “half hour news hour”, and it was horrendously bad, and had megastars like Ian Ziering, Ann Coulter, and Lorenzo Lamas? And after 13 episodes it was cancelled? One of the commenters here just reminded me how awful that was.

    ReplyReply
  124. Kathy says:

    ON a lighter note, SpaceX is testing the launch escape system in the Crew Dragon capsule tomorrow at 8 am EST. You can catch the live webcast here.

    ReplyReply
  125. Kurtz says:

    @Teve:

    I only vaguely remember that show. Halfway curious about it now. Halfway curious about the poster.

    ReplyReply
  126. Teve says:

    The poster is just the numbnut who thinks he’s being clever and half the time you can’t tell what he’s trying to say.

    You can find clips of the awful fox show on YouTube, here’s a really hysterical one on gun control.

    link

    Boy how’d that ever get canceled.

    ReplyReply
  127. Kurtz says:

    @Teve:

    Ah, dare not speak his name. Understand that. That level of restraint is admirable.

    I am pleased that he is just numbnut. It seems fitting.

    ReplyReply
  128. MarkedMan says:

    @Teve: perhaps the single greatest piece of writing.

    ReplyReply
  129. Kurtz says:

    @Teve:

    Wow. That was painful.

    ReplyReply
  130. Jax says:

    So on a lighter note….
    Do you guys want to hear a funny story about taking my Dad to the clinic this morning for a knee injury?

    My Dad hasn’t been to the clinic since 1991, when his horse stepped in a hole and then fell on his head. We were hooking up the hay feeder yesterday after plowing snow with the big tractor. While connecting the PTO shaft, his foot slipped on some ice and I heard his knee pop, his face went white.

    The clinic ladies….they get a little freaked out when they don’t know someone. “What’s your birthdate, again?” And here he’s this big rancher dude that I had to park in the emergency lane and help into the clinic.

    He’s literally NEVER been there. He followed me like a little puppy dog. The nurse had to get a stool to get his height, he made her a bet on what he weighed, and she gave him a sticker for being right. (ROFLMAO emoji here)

    “So does he need to get a robe on?”
    “No, I’ve got a really sexy pair of plastic shorts he can wear!” ( I haven’t seen my Dad in shorts since 1980 when we were fishing and he sunburned his legs and feet)
    So I stay out in the chair by the nurse’s station while he changed, and the next thing I know, my Dad’s out limping around in the nurses station in his plastic shorts, chatting the nurses up, asking “what next?”.
    “Dad, you’re supposed to stay in your room so the doc can come see you.”
    “Oh, ok. Where’s my coat, you got my coat?”

    Poking, prodding, x-rays, back to his patient room. Which he won’t stay in, he’s back out there at the nurse’s station gimping around. (Again, ROFLMAO emoji)

    Doctor comes back in. “Well, the good news is, nothing is broken! However, you have terrible arthritis, and a serious amount of fluid build-up on that knee. Do you take Ibuprofen?”
    “Well, I CAN….but I don’t.” (This man has never taken a stronger pain pill than Bayer aspirin)
    “Well, I’m going to give you some Ibuprofen on steroids, but it will also help with the fluid on your knee.”
    “Can’t you just suck it out with a needle?”

    Doctor almost falls off his stool, I almost fall off my chair…..

    ReplyReply
  131. Kit says:

    @Kurtz:

    I would settle for more stories about you embarrassing your teenagers.

    I think you’ve mixed me up with one of the other commentators, probably Jax! I’m about the coolest dad a teenager could ever hope to have 😎

    In December, I was bored to tears and OTB was a ghost town. Now I’m so busy (and tired) that I’m struggling to keep up with the avalanche of posts here, and that despite the fact that Doug is on hiatus.

    While I would not know where to even start in order to do justice to your essay, you did touch on taxation. On that score, the following article rocked my little world two months back:

    The point of taxation is to reduce consumption, thereby freeing resources for public uses, like health care and education. The super-rich spend a relatively small share of their income, which means that increasing taxes by $1 billion on the super-rich creates less room for government spending than increasing taxes on middle class people by $1 billion. (This is the flip side of the argument that if we want to boost demand in the economy we should give tax cuts to the poor and middle class, rather than the rich. If you believe this argument, then you have to believe that taxing the super-rich has less impact in reducing consumption.)

    ReplyReply
  132. Kurtz says:

    @Kit:

    Oops. Sorry for the wrong tag.

    Cool dad, huh?

    ReplyReply
  133. Kit says:

    @Kurtz:

    Cool dad, huh?

    Hell yeah! My kids might not agree, but they still have a lot of growing up to do.

    ReplyReply
  134. Teve says:

    George Will said yesterday on Chris Matthews that in order to be impeached it’s got to be a federal crime.

    What is it about being a Republican that makes you a fucking bonehead?

    ReplyReply
  135. CSK says:

    According to Jazz Shaw, Doug is still okay, appreciates the concern of everyone, and hopes to be back online soon.

    ReplyReply
  136. Teve says:

    @CSK: recovering from Fight Club.

    ReplyReply
  137. Mikey says:

    @Teve:

    What is it about being a Republican that makes you a fucking bonehead?

    Not all boneheads are Republicans, but all Republicans are boneheads.

    ReplyReply
  138. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Schools, libraries, government, Boy and Girl Scout troops… the list could go on… are simply reflections of the values of the communities they serve. So, yes, people who want to have intellectually stunted children (or more likely want their neighbors to) will do this sort of stuff.

    We keep meeting the enemy. He keeps being us.

    ReplyReply
  139. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Kathy: Well I wouldn’t say “lots” relative to the overall size of the work, but certainly quite a few. There’s no shortage, certainly.

    ReplyReply
  140. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Avenetti is a lawyer whereas Parnas is a thug, SO, Parnas understands the meaning and importance of the saying about “the first one to sing” whereas Avenetti doesn’t.

    (Granted, in Avenetti’s case, there’s no one to sing to, but in that situation, the relevant proverb is “if the truth don’t make you free, you don’t got none comin’.”)

    ReplyReply
  141. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Paul L.: Do you? That was the main clause and has no subordinators in it at all.

    ReplyReply
  142. Bill says:

    My computer upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 was successful. Now for my next miracle…..

    ReplyReply
  143. Bill says:

    @Teve:

    George Will said yesterday on Chris Matthews that in order to be impeached it’s got to be a federal crime.

    So if Trump murdered Ivanka in the Lincoln bedroom a dishwasher at Mar a Lago, he can stay President? I just love talking heads…..

    ReplyReply
  144. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Ummm… because that was the only actually funny schtick they ever did and it’s not very fresh? Just blue skying here…

    ReplyReply
  145. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve:

    George Will said yesterday on Chris Matthews that in order to be impeached it’s got to be a federal crime.

    Surely that’s the same thing he said about Bill Clinton, right? Right?

    ReplyReply
  146. Teve says:

    @DrDaveT: technically, lying to a Federal judge is a crime, but that’s irrelevant here.

    ReplyReply
  147. Teve says:

    Dennis Prager is now saying the Access Hollywood tape doesn’t mean anything. Here’s his “logic”:

    : My point is not Trump. My point is not what he said. My point is this. I don’t care what people say privately nor should you. That is not an accurate indicator of a person’s character.

    I’ll reiterate what I said the other day. What is it about being a Republican that makes one a complete dumbass?

    ReplyReply
  148. Kurtz says:

    @Teve:

    Wow, that is one of the dumbest statements I have ever seen.

    My point is not Trump. My point is not what he said. My point is this. I don’t care what people say privately nor should you. That is not an accurate indicator of a person’s character.

    It brings Simulation and Simulacra to mind. The contrived persona of a public figure is more indicative of character than their actual expressions of who they are.

    “Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching.” – – C.S. Lewis

    Yeah, if Prager, Shapiro, Will, and Peterson are your intellectual leading lights, then your movement is burnt out incandescent bulb.

    To my point:

    You may have noticed that conservatives are blessed with an impressive lineup of intellectual heavyweights. Liberals have none, literally none. A few of those on the conservative side are Thomas Sowell, Victor Davis Hanson, Dennis Prager, Shelby Steele, Jordan Peterson, and Mark Levin.

    Other than Sowell, that’s pretty meager.

    ReplyReply

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