Tuesday’s Forum

FILED UNDER: Open Forum
Steven L. Taylor
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). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Kurtz says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    As the other resident whipping boy libertarian-leaning commentor, I’m curious why you think this is a libertarian-specific quality. I would argue that progressives are looking at an awful lot of spherical cows, too. (Republicans are grilling steaks) Primary among them would be “Assume there are no market forces”.

    I was taking a break from shit I need to do procrastinating. While loafing, I caught up on Monday’s open thread. I port here, because I am curious how the braintrust will respond and that thread is dead.

    I’m unsure of where the “assume there are no market forces” quote comes from. I googled and found nothing. But at any rate, there are a couple answers to Mu’s point:

    1. It is no different from some of the fundamental assumptions of Economics in general.

    More specifically, it is arguably less fanciful than many of the assumptions made by American Libertarians about human nature, taxation, what constitutes the State, and the status of property rights vis a vis (other) natural rights. After all, historically, and seemingly among contemporary uncontacted peoples, market forces don’t really exist in the sense that the modern West understands them.

    2. It assumes that market forces exist external to human society. No human society can change the parameters of the weak nuclear force, but it can change the parameters of markets.

    Part of the issue in American discourse is the absorption in the political consciousness of a false distinction borne from the Cold War:

    The Left=state control; The Right=free markets

    Shit, Rothbard (!!!) highlighted that this is false, so it’s not some weirdo 2021 Lefty revisionism. IIRC his quote about the Bolsheviks was, “they are trying to achieve leftwing ends through rightwing means.” In his understanding Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism were all theories of liberation, firmly on the left.

    In some ways, American Libertarians are much closer to the Bolsheviks than Progressives are. They are trying to achieve leftwing ends via rightwing means.

    Think about the basis of feudalism–social stratification as the result of a natural order. The logic of that system was circular. The logic embedded within Libertarian is equally circular. The only difference is the method of evaluation–divine vs. unfettered markets. Both are mystical.

    ReplyReply
    9
  2. JohnMcC says:

    @Kurtz: Followed the “speak your mind” prompts this morning with a different intent but have to take a minute and say that is the sort of comment that keeps me dropping in here. Thank you.

    Several commenters here obviously look through a ancient historical lens; there were quite a lot of classical references that occurred to me from the 1/6 insurrection. Ran across a website (following a link at LGM, thanks you-all) that gives that some expert guidance. Footnotes! Thucydides! Called ‘A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry’. Which is worth the price of admission. For short: ACOUP.

    “No ancient Greek would have had any trouble in understanding what happened on the 6th…”

    https://acoup.blog/2021/01/15/miscellanea-insurrections-ancient-and-modern-and-also-meet-the-academicats/

    ReplyReply
    3
  3. MarkedMan says:

    @Kurtz: I’ve given up trying to understand political movements according to some self proclaimed set of principles. Groups talk about such things all the time but rarely make any attempt to apply them in a consistent fashion. Here’s what I’ve come up with based on what the people who declare themselves in particular groups:

    The hardcore ‘isms: Communism, Maoism, Fascism, etc. These are ridiculous but unfortunately very attractive to sociopaths who want to have maximum negative control over peoples lives and deaths, eventually just killing every more of their fellow citizens. Adherents that are not sociopaths themselves are sociopath adjacent.

    Anarchists: Unorganized versions of the above, incapable of doing anything more than riot and blow stuff up. As far as a philosophy goes it is incoherent but passionately felt. Think of Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP clientele but violent, poor and with an equal obsession with fashion but on the opposite end of the color spectrum.

    Libertarians: People who never mentally grow up past adolescence. They can yammer on for hours but it boils down to “No one tells me what to do!”

    Conservatives: Above all, these are people who are heavily invested in maintaining the existing social order and hierarchy. Like libertarians, they can natter on for hours about “Conservative Values” but it’s all nonsense. In reality it mostly manifests as humiliating and punishing those they deem lower class.

    Liberals: Exactly like conservatives except they want to pull down the existing order and hierarchy and invert it, putting the poor and underprivileged into power and humiliating and punishing those they deem privileged.

    Progressivism: This is different from all the others in that progressives rarely talk about a political philosophy but rather desired outcomes. Like all the other groups except for fascists and conservatives, they want change but they view political principles more as a tool bag, reaching into it and grabbing whatever is available and will do the job.

    ReplyReply
    4
  4. Teve says:

    moron gives $2.5 million to True the Vote, now wants money back

    I hope they spend it on speedboats and hookers.

    ReplyReply
    6
  5. Sleeping Dog says:

    Comrades repeatedly told the Army that Capt. Paris Davis, one of the first Black officers in the Special Forces, deserved the Medal of Honor. The Army kept losing the paperwork.

    Capt. Paris Davis was in the thick of a pre-dawn raid on an enemy camp in Vietnam when a grenade blasted out several of his teeth and, more troubling, tore off part of his trigger finger. Then enemy fire started pelting the Special Forces team he commanded. His most experienced sergeant was shot down. Then the demolitions specialist. Then the only medic.

    It was June 18, 1965, and according to after-action reports, 26-year-old Captain Davis was suddenly the last American standing with a ragtag company of 90 South Vietnamese volunteers, pinned down by hundreds of enemy troops.

    Certain that he was as good as dead, he began fighting without fear of consequence, pulling his M-16 trigger with his pinkie, sprinting repeatedly into open ground to rescue teammates, and refusing to leave the fight, even after being shot several times.

    He made it out alive, and was immediately nominated for the military’s highest award, the Medal of Honor. But the Army somehow lost the nomination. His frustrated commander resubmitted it, and inexplicably the nomination disappeared again.

    Maybe something good will come out of the Trump Admin.

    After 55 years of trying, the group got a sign of hope in January. Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher C. Miller personally ordered an expedited review of the lost nomination, to be completed by March. The resulting report will then go up the chain to the Secretary of the Army, the Secretary of Defense and finally President Biden. If they all sign off, Mr. Davis, now 81, may finally be recognized.

    Those who were in the field with Davis that day are the best to judge his heroism. It is also entirely believable that racism has been the cause for ‘misplacing’ the documents.

    ReplyReply
    4
  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Rough Old-Time Mountain Folk Make The Best Music Take a drive with Bascom Lundsford and Cousin Ray to the home of Jesse “Lost John” Ray.

    ReplyReply
    1
  7. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    And it should be pointed out that this is an example of systemic racism.

    ReplyReply
    5
  8. Sleeping Dog says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Came across that a few months ago and there is other segments up to about an hour long floating around YouTube. One great segment is a parlor dance where the furniture is pushed back, the stringband tuned up and the cloggers take over.

    ReplyReply
  9. Teve says:

    LOL

    Lindsey Graham is the guy in the spy thriller or heist movie “who double-crosses everyone to save his own skin.” — @BarackObama in his memoir.

    ReplyReply
    7
  10. DrDaveT says:

    @Kurtz:

    2. [Libertarianism] assumes that market forces exist external to human society. No human society can change the parameters of the weak nuclear force, but it can change the parameters of markets.

    I would say this differently. The mistake libertarians make about free markets is to believe that they somehow pre-exist governments, so that any effect a government has on markets is a corruption of that freedom. The truth, of course, is that free markets do not exist in Hobbes’s State of Nature — they collapse pretty quickly into monopoly and cartels and guilds and such. Government “interference” in markets is the only way they can be even mostly free.

    That said, I think libertarianism is a tangent to yesterday’s discussion. The central question was really more about whether we’re all better off when X is handled locally, or at the state level, or at the national level, for various values of X. Andy and Mu Yixiao seem to reflexively trust the local and mistrust the federal government, with the state somewhere in between. I’m the other way around, on what I think are pretty firm empirical grounds — though I recognize that the relative advantage of the federal government is at low ebb, thanks to the deliberate efforts of the GOP, who want people to mistrust the federal government.

    ReplyReply
    8
  11. DrDaveT says:

    @MarkedMan:

    Conservatives: Above all, these are people who are heavily invested in maintaining the existing social order and hierarchy.

    Exactly. That’s why they love local government/control and hate federal interference — it’s much easier to maintain the current power structure (and control the curriculum in the schools) at the local level.

    Liberals: Exactly like conservatives except they want to pull down the existing order and hierarchy and invert it, putting the poor and underprivileged into power and humiliating and punishing those they deem privileged.

    Nah, that’s the Woke. (And the anarchists.) Liberals want to pull the poor and oppressed up to a level juuuust below ours, even if requires pulling down some of those above us. 🙂

    ReplyReply
    10
  12. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @DrDaveT: Any time someone reflexively trusts local government at the cost of a trust in the federal government, I immediately know that they are not a member of a racial, sexual/gender, or religious minority that grew up in / currently lives in the South.

    ReplyReply
    10
  13. Teve says:
  14. Kylopod says:

    @DrDaveT:

    The mistake libertarians make about free markets is to believe that they somehow pre-exist governments, so that any effect a government has on markets is a corruption of that freedom. The truth, of course, is that free markets do not exist in Hobbes’s State of Nature — they collapse pretty quickly into monopoly and cartels and guilds and such. Government “interference” in markets is the only way they can be even mostly free.

    That’s why “anarchism” is traditionally associated with the left. In fact libertarians in this country basically stole their own moniker from the left. It was also originally a term for leftists (and still is in some circles).

    ReplyReply
    4
  15. senyordave says:

    @Teve: I hope they spend it on speedboats and hookers.

    Acceptable, but being more of a traditionalist, I’m hoping for hookers and blow.

    ReplyReply
    1
  16. CSK says:

    @Teve:
    Happily, this seems unlikely to pass.

    ReplyReply
    1
  17. Teve says:

    @thehyyype

    trying to figure out who has the better healthcare system: europe or the u.s.? is it preferred to wait 4 weeks to see a doctor and get a bill for $100 or wait 3 and a half weeks and get a bill for $350,000? i am so confused

    ReplyReply
    9
  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Yep, I’ve fallen down a Bascom rabbit hole this morn.

    ReplyReply
  19. Kylopod says:

    @MarkedMan:

    I’ve given up trying to understand political movements according to some self proclaimed set of principles. Groups talk about such things all the time but rarely make any attempt to apply them in a consistent fashion.

    I’ve had the same feelings. It’s why I get impatient when people talk about political philosophy when so much of the “debate” over policy in this country gets far simpler once you refute the mountain of lies coming from Republicans. That’s not to say policy is simple–far from it. It’s just that, with rare exceptions, the only serious discussion over it occurs entirely within the confines of the Democratic Party–whether it be health care, the environment, the federal budget, or anything else.

    As a liberal I do of course have basic principles and beliefs which guide me, but I tend not to find statements of the form “I’m a liberal because I believe X” or “I’m a conservative because I believe Y” to be especially useful, and I frequently find that these “manifestos” of principles end up proclaiming very general, vague strawmen that few would dispute.

    I think that at the core of conservatism–and especially libertarianism–is a belief system that’s wildly contrary to conventional morality and which the vast majority of the public would reject if laid bare. That’s why much of the GOP’s strategy over the past half-century has been to lie about what they’re proposing, lie about what Dems are proposing, and attempting to distract the public through digressions, of which “cancel culture” is the latest example.

    ReplyReply
    4
  20. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: Tennessee: The American Afghanistan.

    ReplyReply
  21. Sleeping Dog says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Here, you’ll enjoy these guys. https://youtu.be/uwZNB3xGNx4

    I’ve known them both for better than 40 years. Bob and his late wife Gail, played at our wedding reception.

    ReplyReply
  22. OzarkHillbilly says:
  23. DrDaveT says:

    @Kylopod:

    That’s not to say policy is simple–far from it. It’s just that, with rare exceptions, the only serious discussion over it occurs entirely within the confines of the Democratic Party–whether it be health care, the environment, the federal budget, or anything else.

    I concluded a while back that the fundamental divide is between people who primarily care about outcomes and people who primarily care about… let’s call it “mechanisms”. If you care about outcomes — “establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare”, etc. — then you can go on to have a fact-based debate about which policies and processes and laws are best able to achieve those things. But if you care about mechanisms — e.g. your goal is to minimize taxes, minimize restrictions on business, minimize restrictions on exercising personal choice, minimize the role of government in everything except policing and national defense, minimize availability of abortion services — then there is no debate to be had. When the policy is the end in itself, rather than a means to an end, arguing that there are better ways to achieve the end has no force.

    ReplyReply
    4
  24. OzarkHillbilly says:
  25. Kathy says:

    Interesting factoid:

    The Galileo probe had to take a circuitous route to reach Jupiter*, which involved gravitational assists from Venus and twice from Earth. On the latter, NASA scientists used the probe’s instruments to view Earth as it might appear to aliens approaching it for the first time.

    You can get a sense of what they saw and could deduce, assuming total ignorance of Earth, in Sagan’s book “Pale Blue Dot.” Though I’m sure Sagan inferred a different dominant life form on the planet.

    *The longer, scenic route was fallout from the Challenger disaster. Galileo was designed to be launched from the Shuttle, using a liquid fuel booster. After Challenger, one change NASA implemented was to ban liquid fuel boosters from the Shuttle’s payload bay. Instead they had to use a less powerful solid fuel booster, which required more gravitational assists to match speeds with Jupiter.

    ReplyReply
    3
  26. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: Interesting indeed.

    ReplyReply
    1
  27. Pete S says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:
    I saw that. The comments included a shot at Toomey voting his conscience.

    Today’s Republican Party, where having a conscience and doing the right thing are not just quaint or weird, they are disqualifying.

    And Republican voters are not offended by the Party leaders talking this way. If an organization I supported presented this as a public stance I would taking a hard look in the mirror, not shouting “hell ya” .

    ReplyReply
    2
  28. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I had an Arkansas state fiddle champ play at our wedding. We had the ceremony in a small cave with a large room and I have to say Alan’s play was enhanced by the acoustics, it took on a certain solemnity. Of course, that might have been just my state of mind.

    ReplyReply
  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Pete S: I would taking a hard look in the mirror,

    Yep. If you aren’t there to do the right thing, WTF are you there for?

    “We did not send him there to vote his conscience. We did not send him there to do the right thing or whatever he said he was doing,” a GOP chair in Washington County, Dave Ball, told local CBS affiliate KDKA in an interview Monday. “We sent him there to represent us.”

    Oh. I think I see the problem now.

    ReplyReply
    4
  30. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT: I concluded a while back that the fundamental divide is between people who primarily care about outcomes and people who primarily care about… let’s call it “mechanisms”. Teleology v deontology using Lakoff’s framing. Ethics based on outcomes v ethics based on rules. IIRC someone here years ago, possibly Doug, asserted that teleology, consequentialism, couldn’t be valid because it didn’t provide rules for how to behave. I didn’t, but should have replied, “Where is it written that the universe provides clear rules?”.

    I tend to think liberalism isn’t really an ideology, it’s just dealing with the world, solving problems the best way we can see our way to. While conservatism is the ideology of “but” with some rule, or” mechanism” applied. We must solve problems, BUT with free market solutions. We want to extend health care to the poor, BUT with work rules. (OK, in some parts of the left there’s ideology.)

    On the right they can’t even see consequentialism. If we want universal background checks it has to be because we want to take away guns, it couldn’t flow logically from wanting fewer people shot. I saw (perhaps at OTB somewhere?) a tweet this morning from some idiot predicting schools will be closed forever because that’s obviously the goal of liberals, COVID is just an excuse to do what they always wanted to do anyway.

    Russel Kirk’s The Conservative Mind, supposedly one of the foundational books of modern conservatism, is really a long exercise in not quite daring to say everybody must be faithfully religious.

    ReplyReply
    1
  31. KM says:

    Unpopular opinion alert!

    There’s an awful lot of people in my feeds this morning complaining that people aren’t being empathetic enough with the South dealing with freezing weather. I’ve seen a billion variations of “it’s not their fault they can’t drive in rare weather conditions”, “we don’t have salt trucks!!” and “we’re not built for this!!”. Thing is…. that’s on you. Every driver course *ever* has said if in unsafe or unfamiliar driving conditions, go *SLOW* and careful or ideally don’t drive at all. Slow doesn’t mean “do 50 instead of my usual 90” – it means 15 at best if you have no clue and no control. Drive at a crawl and accept it’s going to take x3 as long or more to get anywhere. I’ve gotten into several arguments over that last few days about people who swear they were being careful only to learn they were only going 20 or so miles under their usual speed on the highway. I have zero idea how to drive in high winds from a hurricane but I’m guess it isn’t “go a touch below my usual speed demon self”.

    As for salt trucks and infrastructure, not having it is no longer going to be an option for warmer states. Global warming is seeing to that. Colder weather is drifting down more often and for longer; it’s not a once a decade thing but now couple of times a year thing. In fact, the length of time a state gets hit by a hurricane can by measured in days – same as a freeze. All that prep work and money spent on an incident that will likely happen but may not is the same logic that can be applied to cold weather prep. Is your city gonna get smacked with a storm? Probably – plan for it! Is your city gonna get hit with a cold snap? Likelier and likelier as the years go on – best to start budgeting for it! Southern states are willing to spend millions on a dangerous, temporary weather condition that can mess up the state when it’s a hurricane because they are used to it happening. Now that freezes are becoming a thing, the mentality that salt trucks are only for the North needs to change PDQ.

    ReplyReply
    2
  32. Kathy says:

    Not to derail the vaccination thread, I’m posting this here.

    I may have mentioned it before. What if we could make a vaccine that could “infect” other people. That is to say, it could transfer the immunity-causing mechanism from one person to another. Kind of an anti-infection.

    That would be the ultimate weapon in a pandemic, wouldn’t it? You’d need to directly vaccinate fewer people.

    The first concern is : is it even possible?

    Well, yes, but the way I see it, it would also be very dangerous. Take the common virus vector vaccine, like AstraZeneca’s. It uses a non-replicating adenovirus to deliver spike protein instruction to your cells, which then activate the adaptive immune system response. Because it’s non-replicating, it won’t cause a disease of its own, nor much reaction from the innate immune system.

    Now, change it to a replicating virus, and then it can be transmitted to other people.

    But it’s not that simple. the reason the vaccine virus doesn’t replicate is that it lacks the genetic material that hijacks the cell machinery to make more virus particles. If it did, it might not also instruct the cell’s ribosomes to make spike proteins, which is the whole point of the exercise. But even if it did, and I suppose that could be arranged, it would cause its own disease and rile up the innate immune system. It may also complicate the adaptive immune system’s response, plus it might render that strain of virus useless for future vaccines.

    In short, it’s not really possible with our current understanding of biology and our current level of technology.

    But I’ve other ideas I might expound on later. It would help if I were a biologist or a physician.

    ReplyReply
    1
  33. @KM: I suspect if this kind of event (or, ice in general) does become more regular, investments will have to be made.

    But you have to admit that what we are seeing in Texas, in particular, is truly extraordinary. To the point that it is really difficult to make any kinds of policy assertions.

    If all of a sudden a category 2 hurricane hit Southern California, they wouldn’t be ready, either (or if a 5.0 earthquake hit Chicago). Or, for that matter, the west would lose it if they had one of our normal spate of severe thunderstorms and the commensurate tornadoes.

    ReplyReply
    2
  34. gVOR08 says:

    @KM: I have a theory that everybody accepts about the same level of problems with snow. If you have more snow, you invest in more equipment. Many years ago I visited my brother in Duluth in winter. Happened to see an article that noted how many snow plows they had. I had also recently seen that my home at the time, Cincinnati, had almost the same number, for four times the population. (And both are quite hilly.) Dallas has to shut down for a day or two every now and again, and so does Duluth.

    Many years ago I lived in suburban Dallas. They got a dusting of snow and pretty much shut down. I was out, driving cautiously, on nearly empty streets. Had no problems except one long uphill. The county had dumped I swear half an inch of sand on it. That wet sand was slipperier than snot.

    ReplyReply
  35. Sleeping Dog says:

    Billionaires See VR as a Way to Avoid Radical Social Change
    Tech oligarchs are encouraging the creation of virtual worlds as a cheap way to avoid problems in the real one.

    Carmack was explicit about the importance of tech companies pushing virtual reality. “Not everyone can have a mansion. Not everyone can have a home theater. These are things we can simulate, to some degree, in virtual reality. Now, the simulation is not as good as the real thing. If you are rich and you have your own home theater or mansion and private island, good for you … you’re probably not the people that are going to benefit the most,” he said. “Most of the people in the world live in cramped quarters that are not what they would choose to be if they had unlimited resources.”

    Orwell’s term for this was The Feelies, as I recall.

    ReplyReply
    3
  36. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: I hope he’s the kind of character that ends up getting whacked for it, too. Is that too much to hope for?

    ReplyReply
    1
  37. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @DrDaveT: ” Liberals want to pull the poor and oppressed up to a level juuuust below ours, even if requires pulling down some of those above us.” Yeah. I wish that evaluation wasn’t so spot on. 🙁

    ReplyReply
    2
  38. Northerner says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I thought the GOP philosophy was they were a republic rather than a democracy. Isn’t the distinction that in a democracy you elect someone to represent you, while in republic you elect someone to make decisions on your behalf? If so, then its entertaining that they’re complaining because he acted like it’s a republic rather than a democracy.

    ReplyReply
    3
  39. EddieInCA says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    But you have to admit that what we are seeing in Texas, in particular, is truly extraordinary. To the point that it is really difficult to make any kinds of policy assertions.

    Will all due respect, Dr. Talor, I call bullshit. Al Gore warned us about this 40 years ago.Every single year since, temps have gotten warmer in warm climates, and colder in cold climates. Additionally, typical weather patterns have changed, and are changing, for the worse.

    California has historical wildfires? “Screw em, says alot of people from the south.” Ted Cruz mocked California’s wildfires.

    New Jersey gets a historical hurricane? “Screw em, say alot of people from the south”. More than 20 Texas House and Senate members voted against Hurricane Sandy relief.

    The south gets snow? “Help us. We don’t know what to do!”

    Screw the lot of them.

    ReplyReply
    9
  40. MarkedMan says:

    @KM:

    people aren’t being empathetic enough with the South dealing with freezing weather

    When Hurricane Sandy hit the Northeast, Texas and the rest of the Confederacy did everything they could to block aid, despite the fact that their misbegotten pits of squalor regular blow down and need to be rebuilt with federal money on a regular basis. So yeah, F*ck Texas and the rest of the Trump states.

    ReplyReply
    5
  41. EddieInCA says:

    @EddieInCA:

    Put another way….

    How many years of extra and harder hurricanes must we endure before we stop calling them “historical” and realize it’s the new normal?

    How many years of more and stronger wildfires must we endure before we stop calling them “historical” and realize it’s the new normal?

    How many years of breaking weather records for heat (Phoenix, Albuquerque) must we endure before we stop calling them “historical” and realize it’s the new normal?

    How many years of much colder and extreme winter storms must we endure before we stop calling them “historical” and realize it’s the new normal?

    We’ve been warned repeatedly by science that this is going to happen. We can’t act surprised when it does. But, as the pandemic has proven, American’s SUCK at taking scientific advice. Italy, Spain, and China forewarned what we were up against. Yet we, as Americans, chose to believe we were special and the virus wouldn’t affect us. We, and most of the world, is doing the same with climate science. We’ve been warned.

    ReplyReply
    5
  42. Kylopod says:

    @Northerner:

    I thought the GOP philosophy was they were a republic rather than a democracy.

    It isn’t a philosophy, it’s an empty slogan they fall back on whenever they want to defend unrepresentative elements to our system. (Also, in fairness, not all Republicans use this slogan–it’s just an all-too-common talking point in the right-wing ecosphere.) I’m not even sure they’re talking about the standard distinction between direct and representative democracy, which is often taught in grade school as the democracy vs. republic distinction. Even this is questionable (the classical definition of a republic is simply a non-monarchy, and direct democracy is nothing more than a theoretical construct–while the term is occasionally used when talking about referenda, there has never existed a country whose entire form of government is “direct democracy”). But conservatives who invoke the republic vs. democracy distinction don’t even seem to be talking about that. It means basically whatever they want it to mean to make their point.

    ReplyReply
    2
  43. @EddieInCA: I agree that we have not been serious about climate change.

    I think that is different than saying that central Texas should have been ready for this exact event.

    I also think we need to be careful in making claims based on one event when would be better served looking at broader patterns (such as the hurricane seasons you rightly note).

    ReplyReply
    3
  44. @EddieInCA: Well, the fires are clearly the new normal. As are worse hurricane seasons. The current winter weather in Texas is an N of 1. It may be the advent of a new normal, or it may not.

    And yes, the politicians in the south who were dicks about Sandy or the wildfires ought to be called out. That doesn’t have much to do with whether Austin ought to have snowplows or whether everyone in the south ought to know how to drive in wintery weather.

    ReplyReply
    3
  45. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @KM: “Now that freezes are becoming a thing, the mentality that salt trucks are only for the North needs to change PDQ.” Agree wholeheartedly. But the fact is the reason that we should probably change our way of talking about it from “global warming” to “climate change.” It’s too hard to explain to Senator Bring-a-Snowball-into-the-Chamber and his constituents “how can the planet be getting warmer when it’s becoming so frickin cold here?” You and I get the paradox. People who don’t want to consider how ocean temperature triggers current change triggers shifts in the jet stream triggers…, maybe they don’t get the paradox as well.

    ReplyReply
    3
  46. @EddieInCA: Speaking as someone who lived in CA to another person from CA, can you imagine what kinds of wrecks there would be on SoCal freeways if all of a sudden a deep-south style wave of severe thunderstorms came through?

    My memory is that everyone freaked out and forgot how to drive with a tiny bit of rain during the “rainy season” in Dec/Jan.

    I have to admit, when I moved from TX to CA, it was hard to take that rain all that seriously, but people clearly were not used to driving in it.

    ReplyReply
    3
  47. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @EddieInCA: And, unfortunately, you have just indirectly made the argument that the world is past the tipping point on climate change already. I’m glad to see it start happening, but what we do because of it is another question altogether.

    If we can do anything at all.

    ReplyReply
  48. Scott says:

    @KM: If we got snow trucks in Texas, we would have to remove all the highway reflective markers that would get plowed up.

    ReplyReply
  49. EddieInCA says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Steven L. Taylor says:
    Tuesday, February 16, 2021 at 13:35
    @EddieInCA: Speaking as someone who lived in CA to another person from CA, can you imagine what kinds of wrecks there would be on SoCal freeways if all of a sudden a deep-south style wave of severe thunderstorms came through?

    I don’t have to imagine it. I’ve lived it in Atlanta, where two inches of snow in January, literally shut down the city in 2015, due to frozen roads. Some people were stranded in their cars for up to 10hrs.

    https://www.11alive.com/article/news/history/atlanta-snowmageddon-2014-anniversary/85-bcf15186-4d02-4a47-8025-5a2cc1f3fdac

    In Los Angeles, it would be worse, much worse, because whenever it rains, the first day of rain is a nightmare because of the oil on the roads. That first day of rain causes too many accidents to list. I know on the first day of any rain, to leave an hour early and take side streets. I avoid the freeways at all costs. BUT, due to our proximity to plenty of snow in the mountains, we’d have access to some plows, salt, and snowcats. It would be hell, but we’d be better off than people in Texas who don’t have any snowy mountains, or the equipment that goes with them. Most people don’t know that there are five ski resorts within 2 hours of Downtown Los Angeles. Not to mention the snowplows that Cal-Trans has for the snowy mountain roads to and from the ski areas.

    ReplyReply
    2
  50. gVOR08 says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    But the fact is the reason that we should probably change our way of talking about it from “global warming” to “climate change.”

    Here’s a good article on the two terms, both of which have been in use for decades. Global warming is specific to rising average temperatures. Climate change includes the changes due to warming and other causes. The two overlap heavily and have been so used.

    perhaps the only individual to actually advocate changing the term from ‘global warming’ to ‘climate change’, Republican political strategist Frank Luntz in a controversial memo advising conservative politicians on communicating about the environment:

    It’s time for us to start talking about “climate change” instead of global warming and “conservation” instead of preservation.

    “Climate change” is less frightening than “global warming”. As one focus group participant noted, climate change “sounds like you’re going from Pittsburgh to Fort Lauderdale.” While global warming has catastrophic connotations attached to it, climate change suggests a more controllable and less emotional challenge.

    So Frank Luntz advocated GOPs make the change as part of their messaging strategy. But GOPs now claim the change (which never really happened outside their messaging) is some devious plot by those evil librul scientists. Is this hypocrisy, ignorance, or lying on the part of Republicans? Yes.

    I use AGW for the compelling scientific and linguistic reason that it’s only three key strokes.

    ReplyReply
    1
  51. EddieInCA says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    My memory is that everyone freaked out and forgot how to drive with a tiny bit of rain during the “rainy season” in Dec/Jan.

    That’s a thing of the past. There is no more “rainy season”. The average for where I live is 5.04 inches of rain per year. That number is decreasing every year. Last year, 2020, we had, where I live, 0.14 inches of rain FOR THE YEAR. Portland gets that much by 8am on any random Tuesday. Florida gets that in between 3:30pm and 3:45pm any day in June.

    It rains so rarely here that it’s never even part of the equation or thought process. Even when the forecast calls for rain two weeks out, it changes so that there ends up being no rain.

    Climate change has affected California’s rainfall, which has contributed to the wildfires.

    ReplyReply
    2
  52. @EddieInCA: Well, then you understand my point, yes?

    ReplyReply
  53. Pete s says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I guess the almost jaw dropping part is the assumption that a Republican who does the right thing CAN’T be representing his constituents.

    And once again it is proven that nobody hates Republican voters more then Republican politicians.

    ReplyReply
    1
  54. There are at least three different topics here:

    1. The broad question of climate change, and how that should have been responded to, or is being responded to (to include real changes to local climates).
    2. The way politicians can be jerks about regional needs (especially some egregious examples of some southern Reps).
    3. The way in which local populations react to truly extraordinary weather events.

    #3 Could be subdivided into
    3A: How local governments prepare for (or not) for such events.
    3B: How individuals deal with these events (and how prepared they are, or are not).

    ReplyReply
    3
  55. reid says:

    @EddieInCA: And, of course, the new normal is just the current normal. In 20 years, there will be another new, unpleasant normal.

    ReplyReply
    2
  56. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: Just a reminder at what the Trump states did when the Northeast had a hurricane. These former Confederate states elect nasty, selfish and lazy people to represent them, they spit in the eye of everyone who isn’t like them, and then they are the first ones with their hands out begging for help. F*ck ’em all.

    ReplyReply
  57. EddieInCA says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Yes. I do. My larger point was the raging hypocrisy of Southern Reps and Senators.

    ReplyReply
    1
  58. @EddieInCA: That’s fair.

    ReplyReply
    2
  59. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: We have them up here too. They don’t come up near as easily as one would think.

    ReplyReply
    1
  60. Kingdaddy says:

    @Sleeping Dog: We can only hope, then, that real-world dysfunction bleeds into virtual worlds.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KFNxJVTJleE

    ReplyReply
    2
  61. DrDaveT says:

    @Kingdaddy: I used to be a casual* player of massively multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORPGs) — EverQuest, Dark Age of Camelot, City of Heroes, EVE Online, A Tale in the Desert. It was fascinating watching the mechanisms that drove the evolution of a particular game over time, and how they always ended up somewhere very different from what the designers had envisioned. The only exception was A Tale in the Desert, which had a (collective) victory condition rather than attempting some kind of steady state. Even that one, though, required radical interventions by the game designer in order to keep it playable.

    *A casual MMORPG player is one who spends less than 40 hours per week at a given game. No, that’s not a typo — and it’s also why I had to stop. If you play less than your friends, they advance faster than you do and are soon prevented from grouping with you by the game rules. If you’re antisocial like me, grouping with random strangers is unpleasant and difficult, but the games are also designed to be impossible to play solo. Again, A Tale in the Desert was better than most — but that was a once in a lifetime thing, and being solo greatly limited my options.

    ReplyReply
    1
  62. Kathy says:

    Not much of an update: I have an appointment with the surgeon tomorrow afternoon.

    Past that, there are a couple of things. One is I’ve been advised to get approval from the insurance company beforehand, even if it means delaying the surgery a couple of weeks. This way, I’m told, the insurer pays all bills minus the deductible (which I’m close to reaching already). Otherwise I have to pay out of pocket and then get reimbursed. I think that’s what will go down.

    the other thing is the hospital the surgeon operates in has a strict visitor policy: one person per interned patient per day, and said person must remain in the patient’s room at all times (there’s a bathroom in each room, I know this hospital).

    I really like that. First because it cuts down the risk of catching COVID. Second because I’ve visited relatives who are in the hospital, and it’s a beehive of activity of people coming in, going out, nurses trying to do work now and then, lots of noise, etc. I’d prefer none of that.

    ReplyReply
    1
  63. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Kingdaddy:

    My thought is that these billionaires don’t have a clue what will happen. They, somehow, believe that the virtual will distract from reality, but more likely it will cause people to be more upset with their real lives. Imagine under the hood, you are a billionaire with multiple houses, a fleet of cars and partner or partners that look like movie stars. Then you take off the hood and you’re back in your 40 yo mobile home that has never received any sprucing up since it came from the factory, the dishes are pile up in the sink, you needed to pawn your AR-15 to pay the rent… Do you think the virtual world will be satisfying enough?

    ReplyReply
    3
  64. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kathy:

    Good luck with the tests.

    I just got off the phone with the hospital to schedule my latest round of tests. I’ve had the chest x-ray (no boob cancer), I’ve pooped in a jar (no butt cancer). So… on Friday they’re going to inject me with Super Soldier Serum and bombard me with Vita-rays* to see if I have belly-button cancer. I’m hoping I come out of it looking like Steve Rogers, even though the full head of hair would be really annoying.

    I’m honestly hoping they find *something* so that *something* can be done. A little forward progress would be nice.

    * CAT scan with contrasting fluid.

    ReplyReply
    1
  65. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Contrasting fluid or radioactive gunk? Or both?

    Since it’s still fresh in my mind, if they tell you the contrast medium may feel a little warm, disregard the little and substitute for “very”. On the upside, the feeling was over rather quickly.

    ReplyReply
    1
  66. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kathy:

    Contrasting fluid or radioactive gunk? Or both?

    I don’t know. While the endocrinologist wasn’t in full “talk to me like I’m six” mode, she glossed over the details. At this point, I’m willing to tolerate that a bit. But as things go on, I’m going to need to start demanding I be talked to–and listened to–like an adult.

    Oooh! I got an edit button!

    ETA: With the highs lately being “very much below freezing”, a little warming up might feel good. 🙂

    ReplyReply
    1
  67. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    Well, it may say so in the instructions your doctor sent to the radiologist. You’ll know if they come in with a little metal case containing a clear fluid they inject into an IV line, then tell you to wait for about an hour while it distributes in your body. The contrast medium, in my case, was injected shortly before they activated the scanner.

    ReplyReply
  68. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kathy:

    The contrast medium, in my case, was injected shortly before they activated the scanner.

    Ah. Then it’s just the contrast medium. I’m supposed to show up 40 minutes before the appointment to go through COVID screening, and then get the injection.

    So… no radioactive mutant powers for me. 🙁

    ReplyReply
  69. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    I got no screening, past the usual thermometer check*

    The only power I got was a recommendation to stay away from people for six hours, which allowed me to skip work.

    * Speaking of which, for yesterday’s appointment they had the same infrared thermometer we use at work. It’s mounted high, and you get your forehead near it. At the building I went to, it marked 37.7 C, which was really odd because I wasn’t feeling even close to feverish.

    The person at the entrance said it must be the heat**, and told me to wait a few minutes. Next test said 36.8, which is higher than the 36.2-36.5 I usually get at work, but fine.

    ** Mexico City winters are very odd. You can be at 5 C or less in the morning, which requires warm clothing and, for me, turning on the heater in the car (low). By noon to 3 pm it gets to 23-26 C, which requires AC in the car. By evening it goes back down to 10-15 C, which is mostly fine.

    This is because we don’t get much cloud cover in winter. it gets hot under direct sunlight, but there is cold air coming in steadily form the north. On cloudy days, temps don’t get up much above 10 C, sometimes no more than 8 C. If we had the rainy season in Winter rather than Summer, we’d get snow from time to time. As is, I’ve never seen snow in the city or its environs.

    I don’t do Fahrenheit scales, but to give you an idea, 32 F is exactly 0 C, or the freezing point of water at sea level. So 5 C is just above freezing.

    ReplyReply
    1
  70. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kurtz:

    I’m unsure of where the “assume there are no market forces” quote comes from.

    It comes from me. 🙂

    @ Thread

    I would love to sit and discuss my views on libertarianism, but today is not the day. I’d say this is a Saturday topic, but… I picked up a 2nd job to cover payments on my “new” car–back to the grocery store on Saturdays (at least it’ll be some social interaction).

    So… perhaps some Sunday when I’m feeling chatty.

    ReplyReply
    2
  71. Grewgills says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I definitely experienced that moving from Hilo to LA when I graduated college ages ago.
    They would get what amounted to a standard few days of afternoon showers in Hilo then it was “StormWatch XXXX!!!” and people freaking out.

    ReplyReply
    2
  72. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Kathy:

    I don’t do Fahrenheit scales, but to give you an idea, 32 F is exactly 0 C, or the freezing point of water at sea level. So 5 C is just above freezing.

    I spent 6 years in China. I’m used to Celsius.

    The only time I visited Mexico City was in the late spring*. It was very pleasant (for me) and day/night temps were fairly close, not much variation. Where I am, temps can fluctuate a lot, too, so we’re used to it. I’ve seen it go from -40C to 0C within 24 hours.


    I had a really good time in Ciudad de Mexico. We stayed in a really nice little hotel about a block from the World Trade Center. My colleague’s mother lived about half a kilometer away, so she took us to some really nice little restaurants. And the street food! OMG! While trying to find our way through a spider web of one-way streets, I had a fender-bender with a taxi (the driver was amazingly friendly–even offering money for the pay phone so we could call the rental company). Angel (my colleague) flagged down a tamale cart. SO good. Later I found a little street cart that made tacos and quesadillas. Delicious! But… “Okay. Una quesadilla. Con queso?” is something that should never be spoken. “Quesadillas sin queso” son…. tortillas. 😛

    ReplyReply
  73. Kathy says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    I learned not to eat on the street, as hygiene standards vary a great deal. I’ve relaxed a bit since, but I still don’t eat at a street stand or cart if there is another option available.

    ReplyReply
  74. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Kurtz: Any ideology that doesn’t recognize that “The Market” IS THE PEOPLE– is bound to come to the wrong conclusions in building civil systems.

    There are no market forces to speak of–there are people forces driven by the psychology and culture of the people in the system. The external ‘Market’ is a tool that humans developed to deliver goods and services to themselves in a semi-efficient manner.

    As is customary with carnal-minded people, they hyper-focus on the external and are blind to the internal and subtle things of human nature and systems.

    As DrDaveT notes, left to ‘the wind’… ‘markets’ will morph into monopolies and cartels–because this is how humans organize themselves socially. There are pack animals (monopolies) that rise to the top of the food chain and rule all the choicest hunting areas and take the best prey–even if killed by some other animal. And there are herd animals (cartels) that thrive through large numbers. Sure they are vulnerable to pack animals but its usually only the old and sick that get eaten. Mostly, they say out of each others way because they have different food sources.

    While Im being overly simplistic–this is gist: Market Forces are psychology more than anything else. Policy approaches should start with that understanding in order to get it right and keep Markets as a tool to serve mankind (o.k peoplekind for you libs) instead of the other way around.

    If Covid showed anything else, it showed that people are nothing but fodder for a giant machine–“the economy”– to be mercilessly grinded up for “freedum”. That might work for the richest 5% but its obvious most other people were like “eff that–my life matters”

    ReplyReply
    2
  75. flat earth luddite says:

    @Mu Yixiao:
    @Kathy:
    When I was doing aggressive chemo, I was doing 2 PET scans and 4 CAT scans each year of treatment. CAT scan, you drink the liquid, then they come in in scrubs, and shoot you up with the contrast media. PET scans, drink, then they come in in a led protector over scrubs, carrying a thermos-sized container they pull a sealed metal tube out of, which they carefully unscrew to pull out the pre-loaded vial they shoot you up with. My mutant super-powers never appeared. Levels of snark and ill-temper remained at pre-cancer levels. I was very disappointed.

    Of course, when you’re in active chemo, apparently the norm is that your bodily fluids are toxic to others. Fortunately, we lived in a 2.5 bathroom rental house for most of that time. Don’t know how SWMBO would have coped otherwise.

    ReplyReply
    1
  76. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: Lets just call it what it is– This is an artifact of Lee Atwater and the Southern Strategy. The Federal Government wasn’t the problem–until it started lifting hundreds of thousands of Black families into the Middle Class via Civil Service employment. This includes the Post Office–another boogie man Conservatives love to hate. A lot of black people (including family members of mines) made good living and good retirements from the Post Office.

    Because Atwater and company were so esoteric in their attack vectors–their lies took a life on their own. Now its mostly been lost what the real beef with the government was about. I know though—follow the skin color and it will lead to a lot of things Conservatives hate. Why don’t they hate state and local governments? They don’t employ a lot of black people–and the ones that are employed aren’t well paid. I have relatives that work State jobs in the South and still qualified for food stamps. It was steady work you couldn’t get laid off from so people do it.

    ReplyReply
    2
  77. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: @EddieInCA: But here is where I believe the Liberal “side” of the conversation (if there is such a thing) is slightly disingenuous. If we know anything about the history of the weather in climate based on our examination of geology, seafloor, polar caps, etc–we know that the earth’s climate changes. Period. We have deserts that were once the seafloor and seafloor that were once arid and exposed. Global warming ended the ice age. We only have a couple hundred years of measurements and less that that from high sensitivity sensors and satellite sensors. .

    Frankly, that’s not a very large data sample to work with in the big scheme of things. Is something changing?–of course. But the historical record shows that the default on earth is–something is always changing. Knowing how complex systems work–I have serious doubt that the climate change problem is as simple as evil ole CO2. Could be–but not likely.

    Humans used to live as part of the environment but science and technology have allowed us since the 20th Century to live as though we were not part of it. It appears that we are learning different. It might not be such a good idea from the majority of the population to be less than 200 miles from the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic, or Pacific. Or in bone dry forests—or close to major rivers we know will flood.

    ReplyReply
  78. Gustopher says:

    @reid:

    And, of course, the new normal is just the current normal. In 20 years, there will be another new, unpleasant normal.

    That’s rather optimistic. It’s quite likely that in 20 years, the current severe weather will be considered “before things got bad.”

    ReplyReply
  79. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao, @Kathy: Good luck with your tests and your insurance carriers.

    A while back, I asked my doctor whether being on blood thinners for clotting problems made me more or less likely to have a bad outcome with covid (covid is very clotty, but does warfarin ahead of time prevent that or does it just build on the existing problems), and she said “Oh, almost certainly. No idea which though.”

    I like her way of actually explaining things and how much knowledge she has and doesn’t. It wasn’t helpful, but it was clear.

    I hope you two get clear, helpful, mostly harmless answers soon.

    ReplyReply
    2
  80. Gustopher says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Knowing how complex systems work–I have serious doubt that the climate change problem is as simple as evil ole CO2. Could be–but not likely

    We know that it is a significant component:
    – CO2 has been higher when the Earth is hotter
    – We have models and limited experiments
    – We can measure the CO2 in the air, estimate how much we are putting out, and see that we are directly affecting it.
    – As CO2 has been rising, the global temperature has been rising, leading to more extreme weather.

    It’s not the entire story — methane plays a part, and a number of other gasses, along with particulates in the air (Seattle was spared from a week of predicted 95 degree weather several times in the last few years when we got so much smoke we could barely breathe… the year the smoke was up high was actually not bad), reflection of sunlight from the polar ice caps, etc.

    And there’s a lot of carbon that is sequestered in permafrost and other temperature sensitive spots on the earth, so there are likely some fun tipping points we want to avoid.

    And that’s just what we know about. There’s lots we don’t.

    But, you’re basically right. We’re at a spot where we have to fight a very real problem with only partial information. We might even do something stupid and make it a hundred times worse.

    ReplyReply
  81. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Gustopher: Unfortunately, that conclusion doesn’t resonate well on a bumper sticker–so we get stuck with “nothing to see here” or “we’re cooked in 20 years”. Im a believer in being biased towards action–but things such as this require measured action, frequent assessment of the actions, and flexibility to switch gears when/if appropriate.

    If it turns out that it really is as simple as ‘CO2 bad’–what is the response to China/India if they don’t shitcan their economies for the greater good of Mother Earth? Now we are talking about conflict we need to be prepared to take all the way though the continuum. This would be akin to the Country up-river polluting because toxic water is your problem not theirs.

    ReplyReply
  82. Mimai says:

    Long(ish) time observer. First time commenter. I was inspired by the discussion of -isms. Seems to me that much of this failed the ideological Turing Test. I recognize the failure because I am a fellow traveler, though I’m trying to be better. As you were.

    ReplyReply
    2
  83. Gustopher says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    If it turns out that it really is as simple as ‘CO2 bad’–what is the response to China/India if they don’t shitcan their economies for the greater good of Mother Earth?

    We work like mad to make sure the technology is cheap enough that they don’t have to shitcan their economies. A lot of the world mostly skipped over wired telephone lines, and went straight to cellular. We need to help them do something similar with energy.

    At the same time, we cut our emissions to give ourselves, and them, as long a lead time as possible.

    Also, we are the major holdout that won’t deal with the climate crisis. Every few years we elect a party that doesn’t believe in it. By acting, we can hopefully change hearts and minds elsewhere.

    I don’t have a lot of hope — Fox is currently pushing “the windmills froze, that’s why Texas is failing” and people believe that shit. People won’t wear masks to help slow the spread of a pandemic. People believe tax cuts raise revenues. We’re fucking doomed unless we solve that problem.

    But, I’m 50 and don’t have kids. I just need this world to hold together for about 30 more years. I figure I was born at the exact right time — after the Cuban missile crisis and the fear of being vaporized, but early enough to avoid the worst of climate change.

    ReplyReply

Speak Your Mind

*