Monday’s Open Forum
Space for an MLK Day chinwag.
Steven L. Taylor
Monday, January 20, 2020
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. 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).
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I took a WaPo quiz that tells you which candidates are closest to you based on policy positions. Here were my results:
I find it a little interesting that Steyer came out so high on my list. I haven’t paid him much attention so far. I’m aware he’s more of a liberal/progressive than fellow billionaire Bloomberg. The problem is that, just like Bloomberg his very presence in the race cuts against what I believe is one of the most important issues in politics today, the influence of money on elections (which this quiz didn’t address at all). I’ve also noticed from the debates that he’s got the charisma of a wet dishcloth.
I was not sure how to answer some of these questions, because I found it hard to express a distinction between what I favor in principle and what I believe is politically smart or doable. For example, I agree with Sanders that prisoners should be allowed to vote. But I have a feeling pursuing it would be a political loser. I have similar thoughts on banning private health insurance. However, for the purposes of this quiz I put in support for prisoners voting, but not for banning insurance.
I also noticed there were basically no questions about foreign policy, apart from trade.
Bloomberg is ranked higher than Biden on this list, though in my personal rankings he’d be lower than anyone except Gabbard, almost purely because of stop-and-frisk. But the quiz didn’t address that issue, and in any case it bases its rankings on the candidates’ current official positions, and Bloomberg has recently renounced stop-and-frisk (which is sort of like Dubya renouncing the Iraq War). Similarly, it lists all the candidates, including Biden, as favoring federal funding of abortion, even though Biden came by that position very recently in response to public pressure.
@Kylopod: NYT came out with their endorsement for the Dem primaries. They seem to have done a process similar to what you did with WAPO and came up with Warren. But Warren wants a wealth tax!! OMG, what to do, what to do? So they ended up endorsing Warren AND Klobuchar. Gutless spitweasels.
@gVOR08: Warren’s been my favorite candidate for a while, so I wasn’t surprised that she came out on top, and Biden and Gabbard at the bottom.
@Kylopod: This country needs a good dose of “socialism”. I did the WAPO quiz and came up Warren, followed by Sanders. I can’t see Sanders as an effective executive, so yeah, me too, Warren.
Having said that, I could end up voting for Biden in the primary on the grounds a vanilla old white guy (with Black support) is more electable. Always with the footnote that who the heck knows what electable means anymore.
My top three were Buttigieg (14), Yang (13), and Warren (12). Bottom three were Biden (8), Sanders (7), and Gabbard (6). I’ve always been impressed by Mayor Pete but have some electability concerns.
The Pence op-ed about Edmund Ross, the Senator who cast the decisive vote in the Johnson impeachment trial, gets the history wrong. It was not a vote of conscience, as Pence portrayed. Strong evidence suggests that Ross was bribed.
@Kylopod: Prisoners voting? Perhaps in Federal elections, but surely not local ones? A prison with a population of 5000, all of whom have way too much time on their hands, in a town of 3000? Could make for quite the chaos. I’m reminded of a case a few decades ago where a college town kept making life harder and harder for the students (or so they believed) and so they ran someone for mayor whose sole platform was to build a town hall one foot (one inch?) on each side and a mile high. And he won.
Warren and Sanders were tied at the top with 13. Yang at 11. Followed by Steyer and Buttagieg at 10 and 9, respectively.
I didn’t know much about Steyer, but what I had heard I found agreeable. So, pretty much what I expected. The rest were in the low single digits.
Yeah, Federal and State (ETA) elections for me as well. Or they could vote where they last lived, though that would be weird for a lifer who hasn’t been in a place for decades.
The Navy Has Built Too Many Aircraft Carriers For Its Own Good
The article is dated 1/18, but several references within indicate it was written in 2015-16. None the less interesting.
Molly Jong-Fast is becoming one of my favorite commentators for pithy lines like this.
The quote is from this:
Let’s Blame Piers Morgan for Megxit
The way to manage that would be count them in the census as residents of the communities where they last lived before conviction, rather than as residents of the town where the prison is located. Of course that will make conducting the vote a logistical nightmare.
I didn’t know this until I listened to last week’s On the Media, but Biden’s ’88 Presidential bid was sunk by a plagiarism scandal. I don’t recall anything coming up in ’08 about it.
@Kurtz: “It was not a vote of conscience, as Pence portrayed. Strong evidence suggests that Ross was bribed.”
To a 21st century Republican, “conscience” means that once someone buys you, you stay bought.
SpaceX did test the crew capsule escape system, and it was amazing. here’s a link.
I thought they’d just test it on the launchpad on top of either an empty or a dummy rocket. Oh, no. They launched a Falcon 9 way up, cut the first stage engines, and then performed the test.
I wonder how much that cost.
@gVOR08: This country already has a “big dose of socialism”, far more than we need. I realize that this includes Medicare and Social Security. Both of those need to offer more flexibility to the people. I would gladly drop MC and find a good private plan if it was allowable. The Medicare supplement plans are good and they are from private companies.
So if your house catches fire you will be turning away the Fire Department?
You have no interest in driving on public roads?
Republicans are not smart.
@Tyrell: I’m no expert on this, but don’t you have to voluntarily sign up for Medicare? I don’t think there’s anything stopping you from finding “a good private plan”, but I suspect you will be highly disappointed at the cost, just like the rest of us who do not qualify for Medicare yet.
@Tyrell: One of the reasons Medicare exists was because at the time of its enactment, insurance policies for people over the age of 60 were becoming increasingly expensive and being priced out of the market (at the time, only around 56% of people over 65 had insurance policies, but they were the population most in need of them). So you say that you’d drop medicare if you could find a good private plan, but the truth of the matter is that you wouldn’t be able to find a good plan unless you were very wealthy.
Well to make that claim, you would need to look at GDP per Capita, and adjust for distortion with tax havens.
Then within groups of similar productivity rates, compare how much they spend on social services.
As for your second claim, if it is true, then we wouldn’t have the problems that we have, specifically: economic stratification, health care spending way beyond the levels of other countries but worse outcomes, drug abuse, homelessness, massive student debt.
You have pretty much no evidence on your side.
One more example, a study last year found that the suicide rate (a statistic correlated with economic conditons and mental healthcare availability) is going up in the US, but goimg down in the rest of the world.
Biden plagiarized a speech of Neil Kinnock, a British Labor Party figure, and also lifted material from Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey. It was a pretty big scandal at the time.
@Jax: Tyrell is a 21st Century
FoxAmerican conservative. I don’t think he meant he shouldn’t get the government money.
Edmund Ross was one of John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage.
High school Democratic clubs multiply as young people worry about their future
It is a net good that young people are paying attention and becoming politically active and selfishly it is good that they have more interest in being Democrats. But it should be troubling to all that such a diverse group see only one political party that is recognizing and addressing their concerns.
In 08, you didn’t hear about the plagiarism scandal, because Biden’s candidacy sunk so quickly.
@Kathy: Musk won’t miss the money.
I agree. Let’s not get overly sentimental about prisoners. I’ve been in jail – real jail, not Jane Fonda gets arrested at a protest, jail.
The first jail there were way too many people for me to comment on each, but the guy I hung out with at first had a Nazi tattoo from nipple to nipple. (Didn’t know this at first. Surprise!) In my second jail I was with twins busted for drunken assault, some guy who claimed to have been in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, a ‘pro’ like me, and a guy who had murdered a woman and cut her fingers off to get her rings.
Not sure which of those guys I think needs to vote. Resolve the cases, guilty or not guilty, let them do the time if any, then vote.
This statement displays your ignorance about Medicare. Don’t feel bad, most people have no idea how medicare works until they get on it. I didn’t.
Example #1: I am on Medicare. I belong to an HMO. The cost of being a member of that HMO is what I pay for Medicare. Not in addition to what I pay for Medicare, but what I pay for Medicare.
I am only slightly less ignorant than you are about it. Since I finalized this arrangement for this year, my neighbor has given me the name of an insurance agent she trusts to help me get the best possible option next year. And believe me, everybody needs help with the bewildering array of available options. It is headspinning. I ended up where I am by basically pinning the tail on a donkey. I’m better off now than I was last year, but that’s not saying much.
@Michael Reynolds: I’ve spent a little time in jail. My most memorable cell mates were a guy who beat up his grandmother for I’m not sure I ever found out why, and a donut thief. They were quite the chatty pair.
The NRA is a domestic terrorist organization.
There will not be any violence in the Virginia rally today because the left does not outnumber them like in Charlottesville.
I’m close to the end of “The Big Short” by Michael Lewis, about the sub-prime mortgage bond disaster.
My take is that while lots of people buying mortgage-based securities(*) weren’t aware of the problem, those selling them knew quite well what was going on, right to the point when they knew things would collapse.
Parts of the story sound familiar, as they are the story of a bubble about to burst. We’ve seen plenty of those, and more can be found in history (I wonder what heuristic drives these). and this got me thinking whether the Trump era is a bubble of sorts, within the Conservative “movement”.
In a classic bubble the root problem is that assets are overpriced, yet eagerly bought by many. When there’s a scam or manipulation involved, then the “assets” may be fraudulent, or fraudulently presented at inflated prices.
the analogy is not exact, but the support Dennison gets is disproportionate to his actual achievements in office. It goes well beyond what could be expected for “judges and tax cuts.” While his supporters may not know, or not understand, how little he’s done, his apologists surely do. If so, then they are fraudulently propping up his support.
And if so, then the bubble has to burst at some point, unless El Cheeto manages to do something to justify his price.
though, quite frankly, I expected this to happen in 2016 before the election…
Comprehensive review of 22 studies finds that Single Payer healthcare would save us money
@Kurtz: At the time I felt the scandal itself was a nothing burger* but the fact that he collapsed so quickly into self doubt and subsequently let it drive him from the race turned me off on him for years. In fact I’m pretty sure I posted a few times on here that Biden had to prove that he was really committed to staying in come hell or high water. He seemed shaky to me for several months but he seems to have gotten past the Hamlet on the Delaware phase.
*To me the scandal was overhyped because to the journalists reporting on it plagerism is THE deadly sin. Makes sense, because they are literally paid for their writing. But it just doesn’t seem important to me that a politician borrowed from political allies in order to express what he believed in and what he would try to accomplish, but simply didn’t append footnotes as to where that language came from. He never denied he had taken sections from the speeches and to my way of thinking he should have just said, “I should have made it clear somehow, somewhere that this language was written by others but it expresses my values and my goals 100%”. Instead he collapsed and ran away.
When I was a Young lad and MLK day was signed into law but not yet a federal holiday (maybe it was recognized at the state level?), my father decided that the right response was to take us out for chocolate milk shakes — a tradition that I have continued to this day.
I would encourage one and all to embrace this vaguely racist tradition based on a pun — chocolate milk shakes are delicious, and it’s something slightly more related to MLK than just enjoying day three of a weekend.
I mean, sure volunteer work would be better, but if that’s not going to happen…
I’m sure he won’t.
But he’s working under a NASA contract. Surely they have paid money for development and testing. That’s why I was surprised they went to the expense of launching an actual rocket (though I wonder whether the second stage was also a working rocket with fuel, or a dummy).
But as @Kylopod said, I couldn’t always decide on my response.
I expect there will be another post about this shortly, but I wonder whether forcing Trump to assert his defense to impeachment in an actual legal position statement won’t illustrate its fecklessness in a way talking heads talking and tweeting about it has not. It’s one thing to say in a tweet that impeachment is an attempt to overturn an election and another – I would hope – to present that as a real argument to a body that is explicitly Constitutionally invested with the authority to try an impeachment. Likewise people asserting that impeachment requires a (federal) crime who have gone on the record in the past to say that it does not.
I don’t expect this cognitive dissonance to change many votes in the Senate, but it might make a nice albatross to hang around their necks during election season.
Biden – 15
Bloomberg – 15
Buttigieg – 14
Klobuchar – 13
Yang – 11
Gabbard – 7
Warren – 7
Sanders – 6
The only outlier was Gabbard, but my issues with her are more about personality and attitude than policy, so maybe not so surprising. The rest of it is pretty spot on.
Although, to be 100%, I’d have a hard time voting for Bloomberg, Buttegieig, Yang, or Bernie, but would do so gladly if it was any of them vs. Trump.
James Carville throws out words
Odd grouping. Two moderates. One heterodox Lefty. And Sanders. How do you personally weight policy vs. personality when you decide?
Sounds like a few posters here, including yourself. Words thrown at the wall to see what sticks. Carville is only slightly more relevant than you or Paul.
The biggest difficulty for me was nuclear power. Mainly because i worry less about accidents than I do waste disposal.
I agree sometimes plagiarism is overblown. I don’t care for it. But, meh. Memory is a fickle thing. If you hear or read something in passing and you speak in public often, it’s almost imevitable thst you will fail to attribute something.
Other than that, minor scandals have much more to do with the response than the sin itself.
Excellent analogy. I wrote a post the other day about Trump leveraging his campaign into a news network.
The second part of the post was speculation about the post-Trump GOP. Regardless if he has his own network, he needs the spotlight. The GOP will have a choice to make once he is not longer the party leader. If the the Lefty Dems make gains, it would be smarter for the GOP to get rid of the RWers and try to pick up centrist Dems.
Since I posted, the more I thought about it, the more it makes sense. The marginal gains from gerrymandering and purging voter rolls is likely mostly spent. Without those and without moving toward the center, they would risk becoming a permanent minority.
If that re-alignment happens, it is better for the GOP, and more importantly, the country.
@JKB: Other than the Bennet thing, it seems spot on.
Trumpism is a creeping fascism (authoritarian rule, under the guise of the unitary executive theory, along with a lack of oversight from congress, and a denigration of non-supporters as not Real Americans) and ethnic nationalism.
That is a threat to America — to the rule of law, and American values of equality and opportunity.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, has there been a bigger threat? Islamofascist Terrorists have killed a few people, but they haven’t been an existential threat to America itself.
ETA: Global warming is also an existential threat, and a bigger one, and if Trumpism was also combatting global warming, I would probably sell out all my values and support it.
The problem is the GOP base. They’re used to Dennison and will want that from other candidates.
Take an example: in the primary debates for the 1980 elections, George H. W. Bush referred to Reagan’s “trickle-down” notions as “voodoo economics.” When he won in 1988, he pretty much kept at it. When raising more revenue through higher taxes became necessary, he was challenged from the right wing of his own party and greatly weakened in his reelection efforts.
@Gustopher: “Other than the Bennet thing, it seems spot on.”
I just assumed he was working for Bennet… He’s certainly got enough experience in politics to know a no-hoper when he sees one… unless his paycheck depends on him not seeing it.
Not exactly. Bloomberg recognizes that s&f was wildly unpopular with the left, and so he has tried to back away from it. But he can’t really make himself renounce it — he clings to the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy that it really did reduce crime significantly, and that the only mistakes were doing it either too much or for too long (he’s not clear on which). Kind of like defending waterboarding, but admitting that the last dozen or so were probably too many…
@Kylopod: I don’t quite buy my results, which put Klobuchar and Yang (14 each) at the top, then
Biden/Bloomberg/Buttigieg/Steyer at 12,
(The last one is probably correct.)
I think there were two key problems with the questions:
1. They asked many questions of the form “Should the US consider a policy like ___?” In most cases, of course they should consider it. That’s not the same as saying yes, they should certainly do it.
2. The questions do not reflect the fact that (e.g.) “free college for everyone” is a special case of “affordable college for everyone”, not a competing alternative. Saying that the government should provide affordable undergrad for all is half a vote for Warren’s position, not a vote against.
I am happy to see the wide spread of outcomes among the regulars, though — it certainly is evidence against the groupthink accusation that is so frequently projected onto us by the Trumpists.
I seriously think the next internet quiz/test without false dichotomies and comprehensive alternatives will be the first.
1984, Orwell’s novel, has been in my mind, on and off, a great deal since the 2016 elections. it’s getting so I may have to re-read it, despite my strong desire not to (maybe I can skip the worse parts).
Anyway, one part of the plot has always gnawed at me: why does Parsons end up in the Ministry of Love (spoiler alert: the thought police torture and detention center)? He seems like an ideal Party man, enthusiastic for Big Brother and Ingsoc (aka English Socialism), who’s never been even close to any chance of having a single original thought of his own. Hell, when he finds himself arrested, detained, and beaten, he’s grateful to the Party.
We are told his son denounced him because he railed against Big Brother in his sleep. Maybe so. Maybe the boy lied for some reason. It doesn’t matter, as that merely supplies a reason for his arrest.
I thought at the time, and it was a long time ago, that Parsons was a decoy meant to unsettle Winston. But I don’t recall their meeting at Miniluv had any subsequent narrative effects. I thought of other explanations, like Orwell was showing the Party’s extreme cruelty, which do mesh with some of what O’Brien explains to Winston later on.
But this post by Michael Reynolds gave me another possibility: Parsons wasn’t angry.
He appears little in the novel, but he seems like a nice, if dull, easygoing guy. I recall him more from the movie. He appears to be criticizing his lunch at the Ministry of truth (spoiler alert: the party’s propaganda organ), but he’s happily enjoying it and giving it an enthusiastic “doubleplusgood!” (aka really very good).
So he loves Big Brother, and the Party, and Ingsoc, and the slops he eats for lunch, but he’s dangerous because he doesn’t hate Big Brother’s and the Party’s enemies. So at a flimsy, even if plausible, excuse, he’s arrested and beaten and tortured (though I suppose he might avoid execution, as he’s not a good enemy of the state in the manner of Winston or Julia).
I might have to see the movie again. I mean the one with John Hurt and Richard Burton in the roles of Winston and O’Brien.
My sense is that, apart from the resident trolls, the regulars here range from centrist to left-populist on economics, though are broadly in agreement on social-cultural issues.
@Kurtz: Hold on! We’re talking Pence here–bribe, conscience, potayto, potahto.
Bloomberg: I like his wonk cred, and his attention to detail, but he’s completely out of touch with the current Democratic Party. He rules by fiat, for the most part, and I don’t think he’d be very good at building coalitions to make government work. Also, I find his comments regarding China very problematic.
Buttegeig: Too young. Too inexperienced. That people are taking him seriously really bothers me. He’ll be a great candidate in 2040 when he will be only 57. Give him HUD, or Education and let him build his credibility with people of color.
Yang: Buttegieg without the charm. I find his candidacy problematic to say the least. Yang is going hold his own against Macron, Merkel, or Putin? Hell, I doubt he’d do well against Trudeau or Johnson. Why should anyone take Yang seriously? When did the presidency become and entry-level job. We’ve just seen what three years of someone without experience can do. Do we really want more?
Bernie: F*ck him. Join the party if you want the nomination. Go away Bernie. Just go away.
@EddieInCA: Do you have a peculiar fondness for Steyer, or did you just forget he exists?
I want someone with government experience who is in the party.
Pete Buttigieg amuses me by technically having experience, and making me question what the lower bound should be. (If small town mayor is fine, what about… school board member? Or state legislator?)
@OzarkHillbilly: I didn’t opt for that when I signed up–probably because I hadn’t belonged to an HMO as I’d been in Korea for the previous decade. In my case, my Medicare and supplement premiums combined come in at just under $250/mo. When I checked with an independent insurance agent two years ago, the best comprehensive policy he could find for me was $500/mo. over my Medicare premium. The reason? I have asthma and COPD.
The system works well for me, but I live in the Socialist Republic of Washington. Maybe Tyrell’s situation is significantly different.
@Kurtz: The nuclear waste problem is a significant problem, but there’s really not a lot of it. The big problem with nuclear that very many people don’t understand is that the average nuclear plant produces somewhere between like 600 MW and 1200 MW. Let’s say for a back of the envelope calculation, 1000 MW, or 1 GW. The total electrical energy consumption of planet earth at the moment is about 18 TW. There are currently about 450 nuclear power plants in the entire world. And to move all the electricity to nuclear, you’d have to build approximately 15,000 more. At ~10 billion a pop. Nuclear power plants have specific site requirements, and you can’t build 15,000 more, and you certainly can’t find $150 trillion laying around to do it. And they take at least a decade to build when everything goes right.
Yeah…. I ignored the Steyer. I’d prefer he spend his money on the Senate and. House races. He can spend his money as he wishes, but he’s not going to be the nominee.
@Teve: there are lots of secondary problems. Like the fact that based on our previous history, with 15,000 nuclear plants you’d have a Fukushima/Chernobyl once every six months or so.
@Teve: I don’t think we’re going to get carbon neutral with just one thing — we need a lot of things, as quickly as we can get them.
Nuclear is just part of a comprehensive energy policy to get us there.
Just like Lucky Charms is part of a complete breakfast (assuming your breakfast contains dessert)
Alright…I know I’m a broken record about this. In the other thread I already explained my doubts about Yang, including his lack of political experience.
That said…Trump isn’t proof of the problems with no experience. Not by a long shot. The problem with Trump isn’t lack of experience, but that he’s a moron. If he’d had decades of relevant political experience, I believe he’d still be a total disaster as president. He’s been on the job for 3 years and by all available evidence has learned absolutely nothing. He’s just as bad now as he was on Jan. 20, 2017–arguably more so (probably in part due to cognitive decline, as well as the gradual loss of anyone around him with a modicum of competence).
I’ve never bought the hype surrounding businessman-candidates, and I don’t think running a business in any way prepares a person for how to run the country. But Trump isn’t evidence for my position one way or the other, since on top of things he’s a lousy businessman. If, say, Bill Gates were to become president and totally muck it up, that would be a good data point. Trump doesn’t really prove anything on this front other than that infantile idiots, with or without government experience, should never be given access to the nuclear codes.
I’m not a fan and sceptical of seeing nuclear take on a larger role, but indifferent to seeing it phased out. I remain open, but suspect that for the money we could install lots of solar panels, and in far less time.
This would be a good time for utilities and governments to invest in molten salt reactors.