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Sunday, April 16, 2017

OTP 17 April 2017: Baseball, giant American flags, and patriotism

Craig Calcaterra on a ginormous pre-ballgame flag in Atlanta:

While patriotism is a laudable trait — and while I consider myself to be a patriotic American — to suggest that flag-waving is exclusively done by those with noble and pure intent is simply laughable.

Do I think the Braves were making a political point with their giant flag on Friday night? No, not particularly. At least not anything beyond the efforts made by every baseball team which wishes to make its fans feel like going to the ballpark is not merely a commercial experience but a uniquely American one. Especially on Opening Day. And, well, especially when they just made those fans hand over their tax dollars for a new ballpark the team didn’t really need, so hey, let’s make sure we create the impression that this is about more than the Braves’ bottom line.

But let us not pretend for one second that displays of conspicuous patriotism haven’t spiked dramatically in our country over the past 16 years.

(As always, views expressed in the article lede and comments are the views of the individual commenters and the submitter of the article and do not represent the views of Baseball Think Factory or its owner.)

 

BDC Posted: April 16, 2017 at 08:23 PM | 1402 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, politics

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   1001. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 20, 2017 at 08:14 PM (#5439340)
The looming government shutdown deadline, explained

While a government shutdown remains a possibility, it is looking unlikely. Appropriators and congressional staffers have been working through recess to reach a deal before lawmakers come back to Washington. At the minimum, it looks like Congress will buy some more time by passing a stopgap funding bill, effectively extending the shutdown deadline.
   1002. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: April 20, 2017 at 08:15 PM (#5439341)
As Mr. Cub said, "Let's display two!"
   1003. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: April 20, 2017 at 08:16 PM (#5439342)
Longtime rightwing news aggregator site Real Clear Politics offers its GA-6 special election takeaways:
This isn’t a win, and it isn’t a loss. It is a “to be continued.” ...To the extent victory or defeat is crucial to your analysis – and it probably shouldn’t be here – we can’t really game this one out yet.

...This is not a great result for Republicans. Moral victories are a myth, but they can tell us things about other, similarly situated contests. It’s the reason the NCAA selection committee takes strength of schedule into account when seeding postseason tournaments... This district is, at its core, a Republican one, which a Republican should have won easily. ...This outcome was closer to panic than “meh.”

It is true that Donald Trump did not run well here – the presidential race was very close. But that is part of the point. Republicans were hoping that the 2016 results were race-specific, and that without Trump on the ballot, this district would revert to Republican form. The reason is that there is a host of historically Republican suburban districts such as Texas 7, California 45, Texas 32, Illinois 6, and Virginia 10 where Trump ran well behind the traditional GOP baseline. If those numbers stick, there will be a lot of races that we haven’t seen as competitive in the past pop up on our radar screen. Additionally, this will help recruiting, as a bevy of Democratic officeholders will be thinking, “If a novice can do this, just think what I can do!”

Perhaps most importantly, there’s a larger storyline out there. ...Democrats running in special elections were consistently running about four points behind President Obama’s 2012 vote results... In fact, that’s about where their popular vote share in 2014 wound up... The results in 2017 House special elections, as well as in special elections for state houses and state senates to date, suggest that these trends have reversed.

Also, while there are different ways to measure these things, a president with a 42 percent approval rating running in a decent economy would expect to lose somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 to 30 House seats. So, the recent election results are roughly consistent with what we’re seeing in the national environment.

Overall, Ossoff ran about 1.5 points ahead of Hillary Clinton. If Democrats ran, on average, 1.5 points ahead of Clinton, they’d pick up 19 House seats, and be within sniffing distance of the majority.

...Rather than badly split Republican fields, the midterms will feature Republican incumbents. These incumbents all will have won at least one election in their districts, most will have won in unfavorable Republican environments like 2012, and many will have won in awful Republican environments like 2008. They also won’t involve a Democrat who has raised $8.3 million (although money does have diminishing returns). These things aren’t necessarily dispositive, but they are important. A Democrat with $1 million running against an established incumbent here probably winds up closer to 40 percent than 50 percent.
   1004. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 20, 2017 at 08:16 PM (#5439343)
More on Zombie TrumpCare The GOP’s health care talks are stuck in a vicious cycle

The only silver lining for the GOP with respect to the AHCA falling apart is that they avoided forcing House members from casting a vote for a plan that they'd have difficulty defending in 2018.

The only thing that forcing a vote next week will accomplish is put moderates (as well as some not-so-moderates who will be facing competitive 2018 races) in a difficult bind. Based on what's been reported about the new plan, there is absolutely no chance that it could be passed in the Senate via reconciliation. So unless the GOP is prepared to scrap the legislative filibuster, it's not going to pass the Senate (and even without the filibuster, this plan might lose more than 3 GOP Senators without a likely chance of picking up any Democrats).

I don't know. Unless maybe the GOP is calculating that they've already essentially lost most of House seats where it would likely make a difference anyway and that passing something in the House that fails in the Senate gives the GOP Senate challengers something to campaign on in November 2018. I could sort of wrap my head around that logic, maybe. Basically sacrifice a few House seats to increase the Senate majority to improve the chances of holding the Senate in 2020... I don't know, seems like a bad trade off given that the costs are sooner and more certain than the potential long-term benefits.

Seems more likely to me that Trump is living in fantasy land and no one around him has the courage to tell the emperor that he's not wearing any clothes.
   1005. He who brought the butter dish to Balshazar (CoB) Posted: April 20, 2017 at 08:32 PM (#5439358)
Seems more likely to me that Trump is living in fantasy land and no one around him has the courage to tell the emperor that he's not wearing any clothes.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and say you're onto something here ...


Say what you will about the House GOP, but they’re cognizant by now of their own shortcomings as a cohesive governing body. You will not find them spreading much optimism or building up expectations about this latest proposal. Here, for example, is the response I got from a senior GOP aide to the question of whether it was fair to use the word deal to describe this amendment: “The question is whether it can get 216 votes in the House and the answer isn't clear at this time,” the aide said. “There is no legislative text and therefore no agreement to do a whip count on.” Another Republican aide involved in the talks, when asked how many moderates this could bring on board, said only that “discussions are still ongoing with moderates.”

The optimism and unnecessarily built-up expectations are coming from the White House, and our president, who does not in any way understand Capitol Hill. What he does understand is that panel after idiotic cable news panel keeps saying that Trump’s first 100 days are nearly up, and he doesn’t have any significant legislative “wins.” Because he knows nothing about governing, he appears to have bought into the myths that a) the “first 100 days” is a useful measuring stick of success that anyone actually cares about and b) enactment of the AHCA would be a “win” because it would put “points on the board.” And so he’s demanding that his staff find a way to get this done before the culmination of his first 100 days, to solve an impossible problem the same week the House’s attention needs to be focused on keeping the government open. When asked if he had to choose which of these he would prefer get done next week at Thursday’s news conference, Trump said he wanted “both.”

Sounds like they’ve got it all figured out.





Link
   1006. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 20, 2017 at 08:42 PM (#5439364)
However, it does seem a little strange that kid apparently left the school to be home-schooled immediately after the kicking incident. Maybe that wasn't ducking the warrant, but I don't see how one can say for sure.
Well, I can say for sure that staying at home is not "ducking a warrant." Other than meandering in to a police station and saying, "Please arrest me," it's about as opposite from ducking a warrant as one can get.
   1007. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 20, 2017 at 08:44 PM (#5439367)
That was wrong and it's not unreasonable to involve the criminal justice system in the matter rather than leaving it for the school district to figure out.

For a 10-year-old? I'm not seeing it.

It wouldn't necessarily be how I would want it handled, but many school districts have established blanket policies when it comes to reporting violence, particularly when it is directed against staff (sometimes this is required by their insurance companies or union contracts).

What the student did was criminal assault (specifically, he was charged with a 3rd degree felony), so it's defensible for the district to refer the matter to a juvenile court to figure out where to go from there, rather than a principal's office or closed school board meeting (a future IEP meeting can determine how to best proceed educationally). Obviously his autism should be taken into account and is a significant mitigating factor (as well as his age, of course), but exactly what punishment (if any) is fair is best left in the hands of a juvenile court.

But there's a way to get the child to the juvenile court that that doesn't traumatize a child, particularly one with special needs. And handcuffing the kid, physically separating him from his mother, and having him spend a night in jail (he probably had no idea what was going on) is just plain cruel and not in anyone's best interests.
   1008. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 20, 2017 at 08:56 PM (#5439384)
Doesn't seem to be based on any specific information, but Grassley Expects Another Supreme Court Vacancy This Summer:
Sen. Chuck Grassley is predicting that President Trump will get to nominate a second justice to the Supreme Court as early as this summer. The Iowa Republican, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said there is a "rumored" upcoming retirement but declined to say which justice he expects to step down.

"I would expect a resignation this summer," Grassley said during a Q&A with the Muscatine Journal in Iowa.

I continue to believe it's a bit more likely that Justice Kennedy retires after the 2017-18 term, rather than this year. Staying beyond 2018 would be a bigger surprise.
   1009. Lassus Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:07 PM (#5439398)
I don't necessarily have a problem with the incident of kicking a teacher being referred to the police. That was wrong and it's not unreasonable to involve the criminal justice system in the matter rather than leaving it for the school district to figure out.

I'm sorry, but not having a problem with the criminal justice system being involved when a 10-year-old kicks a teacher is insane and disgusting.
   1010. Count Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:08 PM (#5439401)
If he retired next year it'd be in the calendar year of an election! No way he'd take that chance.
   1011. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:15 PM (#5439418)
I'm sorry, but not having a problem with the criminal justice system being involved when a 10-year-old kicks a teacher is insane and disgusting.

You might want to investigate what's on the books at your local school district when it comes to student-on-teacher violence. A lot of districts (especially larger ones) have adopted these sorts of policies over the past 10-20 years. And if you don't like what you find out, get involved.
   1012. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:15 PM (#5439419)
If he retired next year it'd be in the calendar year of an election! No way he'd take that chance.

Geez, we went over this so many times. Only presidential election years count. But perhaps Justice Kennedy doesn't lurk here?
   1013. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:18 PM (#5439420)
But perhaps Justice Kennedy doesn't lurk here?


Considering Justice Kennedy was sworn onto the Supreme Court in 1988 - i.e., the year President George H. W. Bush was elected, I could understand if he was confused by your arbitrary rules for when it's okay for a Supreme Court Justice to retire.
   1014. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:26 PM (#5439431)
Considering Justice Kennedy was sworn onto the Supreme Court in 1988 - i.e., the year President George H. W. Bush was elected, I could understand if he was confused by your arbitrary rules for when it's okay for a Supreme Court Justice to retire.

Well, thanks for the credit, but they really aren't my rules. It's often called the Biden Rule, so perhaps Joe should take full credit. And, of course, neither the vacancy nor nomination of Justice Kennedy occurred during an election year.
   1015. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:30 PM (#5439434)
Considering Justice Kennedy was sworn onto the Supreme Court in 1988 - i.e., the year President George H. W. Bush was elected, I could understand if he was confused by your arbitrary rules for when it's okay for a Supreme Court Justice to retire.

Never thought about it until just now, but had the Democrats not set us on a course to make SCOTUS nominations so damn partisan, not only might we not be where we are today, but Obama would have gotten to make a nomination in 2013 (Bork died in December 2012).

Although according to some of the (hyperbolic) charges getting lobbed against Bork in 1987, had he been allowed to serve on the Court then someone like Obama might never would have been allowed to run for president. So who knows where we'd be.
   1016. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:31 PM (#5439435)
Well, thanks for the credit, but they really aren't my rules. It's often called the Biden Rule, so perhaps Joe should take full credit. And, of course, neither the vacancy nor nomination of Justice Kennedy occurred during an election year.

His confirmation hearing also occurred in 1987.
   1017. Lassus Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:33 PM (#5439437)
A lot of districts (especially larger ones) have adopted these sorts of policies over the past 10-20 years.

Which is pathetic, but I don't have children, so perhaps I'm out of the loop. An elementary search of the various elementary schools nearby (Utica area) and their policies yields no results regarding calling the police on 4th graders, but I just may not be able to dig it out of the PDFs I'm looking through.
   1018. Count Posted: April 20, 2017 at 09:53 PM (#5439458)
Bork would have been a terrible justice and they were right to reject him. They could have gone one further and not let Reagan pick anybody, I guess, but that would be nuts.
   1019. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:17 PM (#5439483)
Bork would have been a terrible justice and they were right to reject him. They could have gone one further and not let Reagan pick anybody, I guess, but that would be nuts.

I vehemently disagree with his views, but there is no doubt that he was highly qualified. Which is what these things used to be about. And in 1982 he was confirmed to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals by a unanimous voice vote within two months of his nomination. Most of the things that he had wrote that civil and women's rights groups took issue with long preceded his tenure on the DC Circuit.

The best argument against him was his involvement in the Saturday Night Massacre, where he ultimately fired Cox for Nixon. It was widely speculated that he did so in exchange for a promise from Nixon to appoint him to the SCOTUS. As it terms out, according to Bork's own posthumous memoirs that quid pro quo was in fact agreed to, but that wasn't known for a fact in 1987 (Nixon resigned before he could make another appointment). That sort of thing is an ethical breach that would have been disqualifying, had it been known for a fact in 1987.
   1020. Jay Z Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:35 PM (#5439495)
Geez, we went over this so many times. Only presidential election years count. But perhaps Justice Kennedy doesn't lurk here?


No, only presidential CAMPAIGN years count. Trump has already started campaigning for 2020. The door is closed.
   1021. SteveF Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:45 PM (#5439505)
Impulse control is a problem in some autistic children. It's also a problem that can respond well to intervention. On the other hand, it sure as hell is not going to be improved by handcuffing and isolating children.

Understood. I'm well beyond the police involvement. It goes without saying calling the cops and cuffing any 10-year-old, even one who isn't autistic, isn't likely to be the right approach.

The issue I'm looking at is the child has been at home for the past 6 months (if I read that correctly, presumably not in school). That's not a good situation, either. Further, you have the mother's contention that the school lacks trained staff with the knowledge of how to deal with an autistic child with impulse control. They likely have teaching assistants making $9 an hour because money is tight and nobody wants to pay what it would take to hire someone with that training.

I have sympathy for the mother and child, and my sympathy also extends to the assistant making barely above minimum wage having to deal with violence from an autistic child with impulse control with limited, if any, training. The assistant was wronged, too.
   1022. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:50 PM (#5439510)
The best argument against him was his involvement in the Saturday Night Massacre, where he ultimately fired Cox for Nixon. It was widely speculated that he did so in exchange for a promise from Nixon to appoint him to the SCOTUS. As it terms out, according to Bork's own posthumous memoirs that quid pro quo was in fact agreed to, but that wasn't known for a fact in 1987 (Nixon resigned before he could make another appointment). That sort of thing is an ethical breach that would have been disqualifying, had it been known for a fact in 1987.
That's almost 100% wrong. Bork's memoirs said nothing of the kind. There was (according to the memoirs) no quid pro quo, no agreement of any sort. What Bork said was that after he had fired Cox, Nixon told him that he would be the next nominee. (Bork notes in his memoirs that he didn't know whether Nixon actually mistakenly believed he had the clout to nominate someone to SCOTUS, or whether Nixon was just cynically trying to buy Bork's loyalty.) Now, I can't say whether there actually was a quid pro quo or not, but I can say definitively that Bork did not admit there had been. So, no ethical breach.

And, as I've pointed out repeatedly wrt Bork's involvement in the SNM; Bork spoke with Ruckelshaus and Richardson before firing Cox and they agreed that Bork should stay on rather than taking their route and resigning.
   1023. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:53 PM (#5439513)
There is an upcoming special election in Montana, too, for the state's lone House seat, caused by Ryan Zinke becoming Interior Secretary, and the candidates are shooting a lot of TV ads. No, they aren't making a lot of ads, they're shooting up screens running videos on gun issues. The Democratic candidate has an ad of him taking a rifle to a TV running a RCC ad criticizing his support for a gun registry; and the GOP candidate has an ad of him destroying a hypothetical computerized gun registry with a shotgun. I'd give the edge to the GOP ad, bigger boom and he shot up a computer screen, not an old non-flat screen, non-HD TV. But there's still plenty of time for the Democratic candidate to up his game - maybe a fully automatic attack on a high-grade Sony? Ads are at link.
   1024. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:53 PM (#5439515)
That's almost 100% wrong. Bork's memoirs said nothing of the kind. There was (according to the memoirs) no quid pro quo, no agreement of any sort. What Bork said was that after he had fired Cox, Nixon told him that he would be the next nominee. (Bork notes in his memoirs that he didn't know whether Nixon actually mistakenly believed he had the clout to nominate someone to SCOTUS, or whether Nixon was just cynically trying to buy Bork's loyalty.)

I stand corrected. I didn't read Bork's memoirs personally, just relied upon a media account (from a couple years ago) that left me with the impression that it was a quid pro quo.
   1025. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:59 PM (#5439519)
“Yes, a strong Europe is very, very important to me as president of the United States and it is also in my opinion, in my very strong opinion, important for the United States. We want to see it. We will help it be strong, and it is very much to everybody’s advantage. I look very much forward to meeting the Pope.”


-- Take a wild guess who said it.

My first three guesses would be Dick, Jane, and Spot.

   1026. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 20, 2017 at 10:59 PM (#5439520)
Seems more likely to me that Trump is living in fantasy land and no one around him has the courage to tell the emperor that he's not wearing any clothes.

Can you really blame them? Why spoil their fun?
   1027. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 20, 2017 at 11:12 PM (#5439525)
There is an upcoming special election in Montana, too, for the state's lone House seat, caused by Ryan Zinke becoming Interior Secretary

MT-AL is a relatively competitive district (+11R)--much more so than KS-4 or GA-6 (IMHO). But Trump actually outperformed Zinke in 2016 (20% margin versus 16%), so political dynamics will be quite a bit different than what we saw in GA-6 with respect to how Trump factors into things.

It will be interesting to see how close the race is. If we're truly in a >+10D national mood, then Democrat should certainly be competitive.
   1028. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: April 20, 2017 at 11:28 PM (#5439531)
All nine Justices, including Anthony Kennedy, have hired their full complement of four law clerks for the next Supreme Court term. Justices on the verge of retirement, or still weighing a decision, typically hire just one clerk.

So Kennedy won't be retiring until at least 2018, the second anniversary of the Biden Rule coming into existence.
   1029. BDC Posted: April 20, 2017 at 11:44 PM (#5439532)
   1030. Count Posted: April 20, 2017 at 11:47 PM (#5439533)
SCOTUS is inherently political. I don't think it makes sense to confirm everyone who is "qualified."* There are surely thousands of people who are conventionally qualified to be on SCOTUS. Reagan still got to an appoint a conservative justice.

*as we've discussed before I would have been happier with Harriet Miers than Alito; she is closer to the line of what would constitute being minimally qualified.

edit: and as important as the DC Circuit is it's still very different from SCOTUS.
   1031. Count Posted: April 20, 2017 at 11:51 PM (#5439534)
i forgot that Douglas Ginsburg was also nominated in October of 1987 (thankfully just missing the calendar year cutoff!) and was rejected because he smoked pot. I wasn't around then but man that's nuts; would have been nice to have a known pot smoker on the court.
   1032. Count Posted: April 20, 2017 at 11:57 PM (#5439536)
Also interesting that six republican senators voted against Bork. Not the sort of thing that's likely to happen today if a judge is shot down for ideological reasons (as opposed to perceived personal problems; though with the watergate issue maybe it was both for Bork).
   1033. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 21, 2017 at 12:02 AM (#5439538)
i forgot that Douglas Ginsburg was also nominated in October of 1987 (thankfully just missing the calendar year cutoff!) and was rejected because he smoked pot.

Douglas Ginsburg withdrew from consideration, there wasn't a hearing or vote, but it wasn't looking that good.
   1034. Kiko Sakata Posted: April 21, 2017 at 12:09 AM (#5439542)
Not the sort of thing that's likely to happen today if a judge is shot down for ideological reasons (as opposed to perceived personal problems; though with the watergate issue maybe it was both for Bork).


These were the days when the most liberal Republicans (mostly New Englanders) were more liberal than your more conservative Democrats (mostly Southerners). The six Republicans who voted against Bork were Chafee, Packwood, Specter, Stafford, Warner, and Weicker. Half of them ended their political careers as something other than Republicans (Chafee, Specter, Weicker)
   1035. bigglou115 Posted: April 21, 2017 at 01:28 AM (#5439556)
You know, for the first time in my 30 years, I'm legitimately ashamed of my state. Pro or anti death penalty, 8 men in 11 days is insane, and tonight a man was walked to the death chamber at 7 and was finally executed at 11:56. That can't be the best way to do this thing.
   1036. Ishmael Posted: April 21, 2017 at 05:38 AM (#5439562)
You know, for the first time in my 30 years, I'm legitimately ashamed of my state. Pro or anti death penalty, 8 men in 11 days is insane, and tonight a man was walked to the death chamber at 7 and was finally executed at 11:56. That can't be the best way to do this thing.

OTP poll on the death penalty:

YES, we should have capital punishment.

or

NO, capital punishment should not be allowed.

Feel free to expound on application, extension, whether it should be a state issue, whether it should go hand in hand with other reforms of the justice system, moral/legal/practical considerations etc. But please vote yes or no.

I'll get the ball rolling.

NO.
   1037. Lassus Posted: April 21, 2017 at 06:12 AM (#5439563)
I believe that there are people who commit bad enough crimes and who are irredeemable enough that death is a legitimate punishment. I subjectively do not buy the "no advanced societies" and "what about the murderer who injects the serum?" arguments.

The only argument I DO buy is that human beings are not qualified to execute (see what I did there?) the death penalty with either the sufficient lack of bias or required level of objective intelligence to make it a viable option. Not now, and probably not ever.

I am rather firmly YES philosophically and in theory; but a definite NO in actual practice, because we're such incompetent assholes.
   1038. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 07:39 AM (#5439567)
NO, capital punishment should not be allowed.


For a million reasons, philosophical and practical, no.
   1039. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 07:46 AM (#5439569)
“What they’ve done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace. We can’t let Canada or anybody else take advantage and do what they did to our workers and to our farmers.”

-- GOPe President Trump


Don't worry Canada, most of us still love you.
   1040. BDC Posted: April 21, 2017 at 07:56 AM (#5439570)
What they’ve done to our dairy farm workers is a disgrace

Is this another of those "milk sold in bags" issues?
   1041. Lassus Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:00 AM (#5439571)
I have some Canadians in my Facebook feed who recommend telling the US to have fun with no oil. (Everyone realizes this is not quite possible, but they are a bit annoyed with the WrestleMania Rodeo Clown.)
   1042. BDC Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:02 AM (#5439572)
Capital punishment: NO. I am still convinced by one of Camus' arguments: that the guillotine establishes a sort of price for crime. If you are willing to pay it, your crime is equivalent in the balance to your life, and you and society become even. Popular rhetoric of retribution and "closure," and the very phrase "paying the price," confirm this. But you aren't and shouldn't be even, and murder shouldn't be dignified by being redeemable at that price.

   1043. SBB, Live from the Alt-Center Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:05 AM (#5439574)
David Brooks, spot-on, in today's NYT:

Between 1935 and 1975, Will and Ariel Durant published a series of volumes that together were known as “The Story of Civilization.” They basically told human history (mostly Western history) as an accumulation of great ideas and innovations, from the Egyptians, through Athens, Magna Carta, the Age of Faith, the Renaissance and the Declaration of the Rights of Man. The series was phenomenally successful, selling over two million copies.

That series encapsulated the Western civilization narrative that people, at least in Europe and North America, used for most of the past few centuries to explain their place in the world and in time. This narrative was confidently progressive. There were certain great figures, like Socrates, Erasmus, Montesquieu and Rousseau, who helped fitfully propel the nations to higher reaches of the humanistic ideal.

This Western civ narrative came with certain values — about the importance of reasoned discourse, the importance of property rights, the need for a public square that was religiously informed but not theocratically dominated. It set a standard for what great statesmanship looked like. It gave diverse people a sense of shared mission and a common vocabulary, set a framework within which political argument could happen and most important provided a set of common goals.

Starting decades ago, many people, especially in the universities, lost faith in the Western civilization narrative. They stopped teaching it, and the great cultural transmission belt broke. Now many students, if they encounter it, are taught that Western civilization is a history of oppression.

It’s amazing what far-reaching effects this has had. It is as if a prevailing wind, which powered all the ships at sea, had suddenly ceased to blow. Now various scattered enemies of those Western values have emerged, and there is apparently nobody to defend them.

...

Finally, there has been the collapse of liberal values at home. On American campuses, fragile thugs who call themselves students shout down and abuse speakers on a weekly basis. To read Heather MacDonald’s account of being pilloried at Claremont McKenna College is to enter a world of chilling intolerance.

In America, the basic fabric of civic self-government seems to be eroding following the loss of faith in democratic ideals. According to a study published in The Journal of Democracy, the share of young Americans who say it is absolutely important to live in a democratic country has dropped from 91 percent in the 1930s to 57 percent today.

While running for office, Donald Trump violated every norm of statesmanship built up over these many centuries, and it turned out many people didn’t notice or didn’t care.

The faith in the West collapsed from within. It’s amazing how slow people have been to rise to defend it.


There have been a few lonely voices. Andrew Michta laments the loss of Western confidence in an essay in The American Interest. Edward Luce offers a response in his forthcoming book “The Retreat of Western Liberalism.” But liberalism has been docile in defense of itself.

These days, the whole idea of Western civ is assumed to be reactionary and oppressive. All I can say is, if you think that was reactionary and oppressive, wait until you get a load of the world that comes after it.


Yes, this is very much what Decline looks like.
   1044. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:07 AM (#5439575)
YES, we should have capital punishment.

or

NO, capital punishment should not be allowed.

No, but it's not an issue that I really care about. My opposition is mostly because it's not very cost-effective (costs of incarceration on death row plus legal fees >> life imprisonment with general population) and practically speaking very few people sentenced to death are actually executed. But there are far more pressing issues with respect to criminal justice reform, IMHO.

   1045. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:08 AM (#5439577)
Democrats Have Big Enthusiasm Edge for 2018

Democrats lead the generic Congressional ballot 47-41. But what's more notable is the enthusiasm imbalance. 63% of Democrats say they're 'very excited' about voting in the 2018 election, compared to only 52% of Republicans who express that sentiment. When you look at the 2018 House picture just among the voters most excited about turning out next year, the lead for Democrats grows to 19 points at 57-38. Republican leaning voters are comparatively disengaged, with the GOP holding advantages only among voters who are 'somewhat excited' (48-40) and 'not that excited' (46-31).

One reason for the comparative lack of Republican excitement may be the continued unpopularity of Donald Trump. Only 43% of voters approve of the job he's doing to 50% who disapprove. The core promise of Trump's campaign was to 'Make America Great Again,' but only 35% of voters actually think he's accomplished that goal to 55% who think he hasn't.


More at the link, of course. I still think the GOP can contain their losses so long as the economy stays strong, if that plunges, even a bit, and things could get ugly for them in a giant hurry.
   1046. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:10 AM (#5439578)
Yes, this is very much what Decline looks like.


Cheer up man your post is not THAT bad. I mean the buttons are on the wrong side, but other than that it was fine.
   1047. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:13 AM (#5439579)
In theory I don't have anything against capital punishment, but considering the way it's been carried out in this country ever since it began, we'd be much better off just doing away with it altogether. To put it bluntly, when it comes to issues of life and death, I don't trust anyone associated with law enforcement, neither prosecutors nor juries, for reasons history makes all too clear.
   1048. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:14 AM (#5439580)
David Brooks, spot-on, in today's NYT:

It was a very good read and he is absolutely correct. Link.
   1049. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:16 AM (#5439582)
More on the upcoming budgetary crisis, and let me tell you it is a real shocker! White House demands disrupt shutdown negotiations

Congressional leaders' efforts to hatch a massive spending deal have been thrown off course by the Trump administration's 11th-hour intervention, leaving the bipartisan bill teetering on the brink of collapse just a week before a government shutdown deadline.

The hard line taken by White House officials, particularly Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, has strained an emerging deal between House and Senate leaders that would skirt hot-button issues that could shut down the government. In particular, administration officials’ hopes of giving President Donald Trump a win during his first 100 days, such as border wall funding or a crackdown on sanctuary cities, have complicated what had been a relatively smooth, bicameral, bipartisan negotiation, according to staffers in both parties.


Serious question, is there any dimension in which the GOPe Trump Administration has shown itself to be competent? Am I forgetting some burst of activity where they accomplished a goal harder than "Draft some EOs, watch as many are shot down by the courts" or "Pick a conservative jurist from a list, let the GOP in the Senate do the hard work"?

If you wanted to convince people Trump was being successful, what on Earth would you point to? His tough talk maybe? This administration really is the near exact flip side of the Obama Administration.
   1050. Lassus Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:26 AM (#5439584)
While running for office, Donald Trump violated every norm of statesmanship built up over these many centuries, and it turned out many people didn’t notice or didn’t care.

Or cheered and promoted it, like SBB, TGF, Clapper, etc.
   1051. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:27 AM (#5439585)
SCOTUS is inherently political.

Not really and this view is contrary to Federalist No. 78.

I don't think it makes sense to confirm everyone who is "qualified."* There are surely thousands of people who are conventionally qualified to be on SCOTUS.

In 1987, there were not thousands of people as qualified as Bork.

   1052. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:28 AM (#5439586)
It was a very good read and he is absolutely correct. Link.


Meh. For example ...

Over the past few years especially, we have entered the age of strong men. We are leaving the age of Obama, Cameron and Merkel and entering the age of Putin, Erdogan, el-Sisi, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump.


... is silly. The "Age of Obama" is ending and now we have the "Age of Trump"? Seriously? Can we not take every election, every event and blow it completely out of proportion, pretending of course the latest election results clearly show THE TREND OF HISTORY or other such nonsense?

The most recent election is not the only one that matters. I mean yes many recent elections across the globe have been in large part a backlash against globalism. However, so what? Of course globalism will suffer ebbs and flows, get victories and retreats, everything does. A few election losses to anti-globalists does not mean all of Western civilization is tumbling down.

Every set back is not a trend, just like every victory is not a trend. One reason most serious historians refuse to try to judge the efficacy of a President until well after their term is over, is because you need time to see things play out. It is a long season, and the chicken little article is declaring DOOM! based on losing a series or two.

Try to have a tiny bit of perspective and let the trends play out a little bit, before you start shoveling dirt for the grave. Sky fall much?

   1053. PreservedFish Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:29 AM (#5439587)
David Brooks, spot-on, in today's NYT:


Sounds like a rehash of The Closing of the American Mind, brought to you a Leo Strauss acolyte. Remind me how it worked out when the White House was stuffed full of Straussians? Did we, convinced of our moral superiority as liberators, start a war for no apparent reason that continues to reverberate in horrific ways even today?
   1054. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:37 AM (#5439589)
Serious question, is there any dimension in which the GOPe Trump Administration has shown itself to be competent? Am I forgetting some burst of activity where they accomplished a goal harder than "Draft some EOs, watch as many are shot down by the courts" or "Pick a conservative jurist from a list, let the GOP in the Senate do the hard work"?

The first thing that comes to mind is that the Gorsuch nomination wasn't screwed up and went smoothly with regards to the administration's involvement. But as you mention, that's more a reflection of them picking a name from a list prepared externally, holding a press conference, and then not getting in the way of the Senate.

But Trump didn't really respond when Gorsuch called the POTUS' attacks on federal judges as "disheartening," which demonstrates some sort of restraint for which maybe he deserves "credit." So under the standards of the very low expectations that we have for Trump, Trump did well with Gorsuch because he didn't start blasting his own nominee on Twitter in response to something that could have been perceived as criticism of the president.

The other thing is that his speech before the joint session of Congress was fairly well received (much more so than his inaugural address). Of course he didn't really provide any substance (most state of the unions don't), but he stuck the teleprompter and gave what was in the ballpark of what we expect from presidents. So again, aided in part by the very low expectations he's set for himself, the "state of the union" speech was something of a success that demonstrated a basic level of competence.
   1055. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:46 AM (#5439591)
Did we, convinced of our moral superiority as liberators, start a war for no apparent reason that continues to reverberate in horrific ways even today?


Getting a badass photo-op on an aircraft carrier wasn't enough for you hippies?
   1056. BrianBrianson Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:48 AM (#5439592)
Unless the 10-year old is an athletic prodigy I can't imagine why you would need to call the cops for being kicked. So gross.


I could've beaten most adult women in a fight when I was ten. I'm not terribly athletic - as I recall, I represented my school at the city championships in shotput and came something like one hundredth place. A one-off kick, maybe nothing, but if that's downplaying it, I could imagine something thinking they needed to call police if only for the muscle.
   1057. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:51 AM (#5439593)
So last night I was talking to the family during dinner and the "some judge on an island" comment came up and my eldest boy immediately responded "Hawaii is an archipelago, it is not just an island". I was so proud.
   1058. Lassus Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:51 AM (#5439594)
Donald Trump as a strong man? That invalidates the entire article.
   1059. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 21, 2017 at 08:52 AM (#5439595)
The "Age of Obama" is ending and now we have the "Age of Trump"?

I agree that part was rather silly. I don't know how you can define/talk about the "Age of Obama" without considering/discussing the rise of the Tea Party, which begot the "Age of Trump."

But overall, I think that Brooks is on the something. I was fortunate enough to attend a liberal arts college and participated in a two year seminar series centered on the "Western Cannon" (taught by philosophy and theology faculty). It's certainly possible to teach the foundational ideas of Western Civilization in a way that celebrates its contributions while still teaching students that it's not the beginning and ending of all wisdom.

Based on what I've seen, I don't know that Brooks is entirely off base when he claims that many faculty teach that "Western civilization is a history of oppression." There should be a place for Howard Zinn on every college student's book shelf, but it should be surrounded by the works of great Western philosophers.

The finding that only 57% of young Americans think that it's absolutely important to live in a democratic country is highly alarming.
   1060. Covfefe Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:00 AM (#5439601)
OTP poll on the death penalty:

YES, we should have capital punishment.

or

NO, capital punishment should not be allowed.


Very strong NO.

   1061. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:03 AM (#5439602)
So last night I was talking to the family during dinner and the "some judge on an island" comment came up and my eldest boy immediately responded "Hawaii is an archipelago, it is not just an island". I was so proud.
The judge is only on one of the islands, isn't he?
   1062. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:07 AM (#5439606)
The finding that only 57% of young Americans think that it's absolutely important to live in a democratic country is highly alarming.


Meh. I mean sure it sounds all scary, but surveys ALWAYS end up with "alarming" results like that, and while it is fine fodder for "Kids these days" rants I am not convinced it means much.

Western civilization existed and was fine before the EU showed up on the scene, so I am skeptical that we should freak out about the fate of Western Civilization based on the ebb and flow of the politics around the EU.

I think what people forget is that Western Civilization is suffering a bit of a crisis right now because it essentially won, and now is trying to figure out its new identity as the hegemonic philosophy across the world. The last few hundred years, from one perspective, showcased the struggle of a variety of political-economic theories. over that time the basic tenants of western political-economic thought have essentially won, not 100% everywhere, but they have a dominant and growing position across the globe.

Compare the current political-economic state of the world now versus 50 or 100 years ago. Perhaps the greatest rival was communism, and it has been essentially vanquished. It is very different being in a struggle for world dominion against communism that it is from having won. And to be clear communism as a political-economic theory lost, clearly and unambiguously. The West's economic model has taken over the world and our basic political model covers far more of the Earth and many more people than it did 50 or 100 years ago (or even since 1979).

Without a serious rival for world wide dominion the West has a bit of an identity crisis on its hands. It has to decide what exactly it is, without having a rival to define what it is not (if you get my meaning). Russia is of course hardly a friend to NATO or the EU, but it is also in many ways Western in political-economy and as such doesn't present the same sort of systemic threat to Western Civilization that the USSR posed.

Now I do agree the greatest threat to Western civilization is internal, as Western civilization struggles to figure out how to handle its success. It could fall prey to many different forces, but I think it is way too early to suggest it is already doing so.
   1063. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:11 AM (#5439607)
The judge is only on one of the islands, isn't he?


And the judge is only in one city at a time, but so what? Is the best way to describe a judge from a state of he union as being a judge from a city? The judge's domain is over more than a city or a single island, obviously. A judge holding court on Key West wouldn't be a judge on an island in the Caribbean, they would be a judge from the state of Florida.
   1064. Swoboda is freedom Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:13 AM (#5439609)
Longtime rightwing news aggregator site Real Clear Politics

It is not a rightwing aggregator, but an aggregator. Today the have article from The Washington Post, Eleanor Clift among others.
   1065. Swoboda is freedom Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:17 AM (#5439611)
I would keep the death penalty, but only for the second murder. First murder gets you jail, if you commit a murder in jail, or upon release, you can get the death penalty. I think the death penalty is too expensive to use regularly and there is too much bias in how it is used.
   1066. Ishmael Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:17 AM (#5439612)
Early Polling News from the OTP death penalty referendum:

Bleeding-Heart, Terrorist-Sympathizing, Soft-on-Crime Beta-Cucks (NO) - 7
Ishmael
Lassus
Mouse
BDC
6 - 4 – 3
ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick
zonk

Blood-thirsty, Medieval, Authoritarian, Fascist Pigs (YES) – 1
Swoboda is freedom

Come on people, I shouldn’t have to tell you the punishment for not voting!
   1067. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:20 AM (#5439613)
These were the days when the most liberal Republicans (mostly New Englanders) were more liberal than your more conservative Democrats (mostly Southerners). The six Republicans who voted against Bork were Chafee, Packwood, Specter, Stafford, Warner, and Weicker. Half of them ended their political careers as something other than Republicans (Chafee, Specter, Weicker)
Actually, John Chafer, the one to whom you refer, was a lifelong Republican. It was his son Lincoln who eventually switched parties; he had been a Republican in the first place, for as long as that lasted, only to honor his father.
   1068. PreservedFish Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:21 AM (#5439614)
The finding that only 57% of young Americans think that it's absolutely important to live in a democratic country is highly alarming.


I'd like to see the actual polls here to see if they're measuring something real.

I think Mouse's criticism in 1052 is very strong. Putin heralds the age of strong men? Russia has been ruled by a strong man for 1,000 years - there was just a brief quick break in the 1990s. Kim Jong Un? Please explain how he is different from his father and grandfather. El-Sisi? Well, he rose to power after Western style liberalism briefly took over the country, and then failed, as it was used as a path to power by a profoundly illiberal movement. China? Draw a line from Mao to Xi Jinping and tell me what direction it points.

Erdogan? I agree that his rise is lamentable. But please explain how it was occasioned by moral relativism on US college campuses. And remember that Turkey's secular society has always been teetering on the brink - it was never a liberal society because the secularists were always scared shitless of the specter of an Erdogan figure, hence the rules against wearing head scarves in public, the repeated military coups, etc.

Brooks' argument is basically that Western extreme leftist thought has made the world ripe for a new rise of fascism. I think that would be an exceedingly difficult argument to prove once you get into any level of detail.
   1069. bigglou115 Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:21 AM (#5439616)
Death penalty: No

I should preface by admitting that I've spent the last 5 years as a criminal defense attorney in Arkansas, I was in law school when the West Memphis 3 were released and I've defend a lot of indigent clients. Liddell Lee is a perfect example of my issues with the penalty.

He's a bad guy. He's more likely than not raped and killed, he was brought up on a second murder case that was allowed to fall apart because he was already on death row, but here are some important facts.

The biggest issue that SCOTUS faced was that Lee wanted the case DNA tests done with modern techniques. Arkansas law provides a defendant or convict is entitled only to the technology available at his trial minus a substantial likelihood of a different result. In a case were a man's life will be forfeit efficiency takes precedence over absolute surity of the conviction.

The judge who heard his initial case was having an affair with the deputy prosecutor assigned to the case, they are now married.

His attorney was likely drunk at several points in open Court, failing to call exculpatory witnesses and often replacing meaningful phrases with "blah blah blah." His next lawyer was subsequently suspended for 4 years after concerns his untreated mental health issues were negatively affecting his client. A third attorney was brought up on ethics charges for failing to respond to client communications and missing a filing deadline. When the case was turned over to the final attorneys no file had been kept despite a 24 year history.

It has been suggested by doctors Lee has a functional IQ of 79, he is diagnosed with fetal alcohol syndrome.

Arkansas was steadfast in denying these issues for the same reason it's scheduled 8 executions in 11 days, it's supply of one of the drugs expires April 30 and it likely won't be able to secure a replacement. Another of the drugs was in question, it was purchased by the state under fraudulent circumstances as the state lied to the supplier (who demanded they wouldn't sell the drugs if they were to be used for executions), in a deal conducted entirely via text and phone at the state's insistence, the content of which were subsequently and immediately destroyed. The third drug was purchased, literally, in a parking lot in a similar deal.

Of the original 8 scheduled, 4 have been stayed, 3 because they are mentally unfit, not having the requisite capacity to understand why they are dying or even that they are dying. 1 because several trial level mistakes render much of the evidence presented against him in question, and the state found a substantial likelihood further DNA testing would exonerate him. If so, be might be the first death row inmate in Arkansas history to be exonerated, as the state is so intent on maintaining that no jury has ever made a mistake in handing out the death penalty that even Damian Echols of the West Memphis 3 was only allowed to leave prison on the condition he plead no contest to the charge of murder.

I don't know how you can look at those facts and not consider the current system arbitrary. I don't know how you can look at last night, with a governor so intent on carrying out an execution that he had the department of corrections preparing the chamber and condemned before the final stay was lifted so that they could rush the drugs into his veins before the warrant expired at midnight and not think the events of the night were unnecessarily cruel. I don't know how you look at the facts of this case and not feel that this government cares less about the legalities and even truth of a matter than achieving a successful execution.

Edit to add, the state still has 3 more executions scheduled in the next week. It's some solace our idiot of an AG (y'all might remember her from her time as a babling and incompetent Trump surrogate, a post she initially tried to fill without taking leave from her position in Arkansas) is looking rather bad. She prepared the list of 8 under the impression it would be the 8 most likely to happen, and her handling of the cases has been at best poor. I've never seen someone write a more unprofessional brief to SCOTUS.
   1070. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:26 AM (#5439621)
First, Democracy!=Capitalism. Our political system and our economic system are interrelated but distinct. I'm much more concerned with the loss of appreciation for the virtues of democracy than I am with millenials being skeptical of American capitalism. Socialists are very much welcome in 21st century America, as far as I'm concerned (I may not agree with them on issues, but that's entirely different). I'm far less tolerant of people who think that eroding our democratic institutions is a worthwhile and legitimate political objective. Yes, of course the US isn't a pure democracy and the system is not perfect (both have always been true). But it's a more perfect form of government than the Chinese model, IMHO.

Second, on that subject, China is not a democracy (it's very much an authoritarian state), although it has embraced its version of capitalism (state capitalism, but capitalism nonetheless). So Western ideas haven't "won" over the world.
   1071. The Good Face Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:29 AM (#5439623)
The finding that only 57% of young Americans think that it's absolutely important to live in a democratic country is highly alarming.


Good...goooood.
   1072. Lassus Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:30 AM (#5439624)
Bleeding-Heart, Terrorist-Sympathizing, Soft-on-Crime Beta-Cucks (NO) - 7

Don't I get any credit for at least thinking we could have a death penalty if we weren't so pathetic and stupid? Or does that still mean I'm rejecting Western Civilization's awesomeness?
   1073. Ishmael Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:35 AM (#5439627)
Don't I get any credit for at least thinking we could have a death penalty if we weren't so pathetic and stupid?

I'm afraid the referendum is binary - all middle ground ignored, all nuance elided. No bespoke categories for special snowflakes.

Now you know why 57% of young Americans are abandoning democracy!
   1074. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:39 AM (#5439629)
Now you know why 57% of young Americans are abandoning democracy!

That actually only describes 43%. 57% are the ones that still believe it's absolutely important to live in a democracy.
   1075. Ishmael Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:43 AM (#5439630)
That actually only describes 43%. 57% are the ones that still believe it's absolutely important to live in a democracy.

Thanks.

I can't even get my reductionist, binary categorizations right!
   1076. BrianBrianson Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:45 AM (#5439634)
Capital punishment isn't cost effective, and a non-trivial number of innocent people get executed.

I haven't seen any data that it's more effective as a deterrent than life in prison (indeed, I suspect past "felony", longer prison sentences don't serve as effective deterrents at all). With downsides and no apparent upsides, I don't see the point.

On the other hand, someone convicted of murder might see life in prison as worse torture than a quick death. Since my only real interest is removing people from society if they remain a danger to others, opt-in capital punishment makes sense. Or, you know, exile to Devon island instead of life in prison.
   1077. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:46 AM (#5439635)
Arkansas was steadfast in denying these issues for the same reason it's scheduled 8 executions in 11 days, it's supply of one of the drugs expires April 30 and it likely won't be able to secure a replacement. Another of the drugs was in question, it was purchased by the state under fraudulent circumstances as the state lied to the supplier (who demanded they wouldn't sell the drugs if they were to be used for executions), in a deal conducted entirely via text and phone at the state's insistence, the content of which were subsequently and immediately destroyed. The third drug was purchased, literally, in a parking lot in a similar deal.

That their drugs are about to expire is a dumb reason for trying to force the executions through. But, as I said last week, I'm far from convinced that lethal injection is any less painful than a .45 to the back of the head would be (and certainly when it's not properly administered, it is probably the most tortuous ways of killing a person imaginable). Shooting someone in the head may be more disturbing to witness, but from the perspective of the person being executed death is virtually instantaneous.
   1078. You Know Nothing JT Snow (YR) Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:47 AM (#5439636)
Too bad we missed out on this in the opera thread

“From Venice to Florence to Verdi to Pavarotti – friend of mine. Great friend of mine,” he said.

Death notwithstanding, the claim also struck some as especially odd because Pavarotti’s family had in July 21, 2016, asked Trump to stop using Pavarotti’s famous recording of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma during his campaign events saying the singer would not have approved of the Republican. Pavarotti’s family had said, “the values of brotherhood and solidarity which Luciano Pavarotti expressed throughout the course of his artistic career are entirely incompatible with the worldview offered by the candidate Donald Trump.”


This was the famous aria from the Trump-themed opera, Turnadope.
   1079. Ishmael Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:48 AM (#5439637)
Brian - that's a hanging chad.

YES or NO?
   1080. BDC Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:48 AM (#5439638)
A judge holding court on Key West wouldn't be a judge on an island in the Caribbean, they would be a judge from the state of Florida

What Zip code would he be in?
   1081. PreservedFish Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:49 AM (#5439640)
Why should we look at Brooks' piece as anything other than "moderate conservative blames liberals for rise of radical conservative?"
   1082. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:50 AM (#5439641)
First, Democracy!=Capitalism. Our political system and our economic system are interrelated but distinct.


Well I very much think that the politics and economics of the West are tightly integrated, and "the West" is more than just "Democracy". So if we are going to speak in terms of the fall of Western Civilization I don't think it is fair at all to then ignore capitalism/consumerism and only focus on Democracy.

Don't get me wrong, I love me some Democracy, but I would argue that as powerful as Democracy is, Consumerism (as perfected by the West) is much more powerful and has been a more effective agent of change in favor of Western Civilization than Democracy has.

And Consumerism has essentially conquered the world, Western economics are supreme, even if Democracy is not. You might want to discard that as a "so what?", but it did not seem like a sure thing that would happen as recently as 30 or so years ago.

Second, on that subject, China is not a democracy (it's very much an authoritarian state), although it has embraced its version of capitalism (state capitalism, but capitalism nonetheless). So Western ideas haven't "won" over the world.


Again I don't think it fair to use the term "Western ideas" and then limit yourself to only Democracy.

Also regarding China, I posted this before, but I will again.

How the rise of a liberal, social media–savvy generation is changing Chinese society

But there is another, contrasting trend that is much more promising: While the Chinese leadership is repressive, Chinese society is becoming increasingly liberal. That is especially true of the younger and urban generation, which I have been following, befriending, and writing about since I first arrived to live in Beijing in 2008, fresh out of college.

Their lives sketch a different picture: one of a population more receptive to new ideas, while firm in the conviction that China’s interests are paramount; of a society that is steadily more progressive, as the countryside gives way to the cities; and of a generation with radically different aspirations and attitudes than those of their elders — including those who happen to be running the country.

It’s far more a desire for reform than for revolution, whether the goal is free speech or greater equality. And it has never been clearer that the system does not want to be reformed in a more liberal mold. But generational shifts, while slow, are inevitable.

Which means that while the repressive bureaucracy of China that we know today won’t be going away anytime soon, the longer-term future may look very different.


Read the article, it presents an interesting take on China and the changes their society is going through. I think the article is perhaps overly optimistic, but even so I think it is obvious from it (and many other sources) that Western ideas have very much taken hold in China, economic ideas and others, and while I don't think China is going to magically transform into Oriental Europe, I think one can assert Western ideals are making progress in China, so long as one looks beyond the top level political structure currently in place.
   1083. Howie Menckel Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:55 AM (#5439648)
"Your call is very important to us"

that's the Orwellian phrase I get repeatedly over the last 10 minutes as I wait on hold for NYC Dept of Motor Vehicles. got a bullshit ticket last month for failure to yield to pedestrians while making a right on green.

anyone who has been to midtown knows what a joke this is, especially when no pedestrians had to stop or seemed annoyed. just had an angry cop who was no doubt behind on his quota.

I'm actually one who will be ok once they ban all non-commercial traffic from the zone. and I'll never drive in that area again. but just announce it, don't rip off visitors.

$138. I tried to pay it online. but the angry cop, whose ticket was written so lazily that the ink literally is all gone by now, apparently has yet to bother to submit it. their DMV assures me that I'm #### out of luck even if he never submits, but I risk driving with a suspended license unless I can get these fockers to give me an opportunity to pay.

there is no phone number listed on the ticket, and the website offers a phone number with only recorded instructions. I googled around to find this number, which I see has an average wait time of 21 minutes (which I have now exceeded). there is no online option to seek confirmation of payment, either.

with any luck, NYC will elect a progressive Mayor who surely will look out for the little guy!
   1084. bigglou115 Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:56 AM (#5439649)

That their drugs are about to expire is a dumb reason for trying to force the executions through. But, as I said last week, I'm far from convinced that lethal injection is any less painful than a .45 to the back of the head would be (and certainly when it's not properly administered, it is probably the most tortuous ways of killing a person imaginable). Shooting someone in the head may be more disturbing to witness, but from the perspective of the person being executed death is virtually instantaneous.


One of the questions raised in all this is the silly rule that if a prisoner objects on grounds that the execution method is inhumane they have to propose an alternative in their motion and brief. Several of the 8 proposed firing squad for this very reason. Never mind that Arkansas can only legally execute with the 3 drug cocktail in question.
   1085. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 09:57 AM (#5439650)
A judge holding court on Key West wouldn't be a judge on an island in the Caribbean, they would be a judge from the state of Florida

What Zip code would he be in?


I am actually not sure if Key West is considered to be in Caribbean or the Gulf of Mexico and I was lazy to look it up, so I went with my gut, but now I am curious.

According to Wikipedia it is on the dividing line between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, but according to their tourist site they are a Caribbean island, so I am still unsure. But I don't care enough to look further.

EDIT: 33040
   1086. BrianBrianson Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:01 AM (#5439651)
I suppose that's a soft no.
   1087. Greg K Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:03 AM (#5439652)
According to Wikipedia it is on the dividing line between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, but according to their tourist site the are a Caribbean island, so I am still unsure. But I don't care enough to look further.

Yet another reason we desperately need some form of over-arching global governance. Some impartial ruling and enforcement is necessary here.
   1088. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:09 AM (#5439659)
Hard pass on death penalty, for all the reasons mentioned and maybe a few more.
   1089. BDC Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:10 AM (#5439660)
This narrative was confidently progressive. There were certain great figures, like Socrates, Erasmus, Montesquieu and Rousseau, who helped fitfully propel the nations to higher reaches of the humanistic ideal. … Starting decades ago, many people, especially in the universities, lost faith in the Western civilization narrative. They stopped teaching it, and the great cultural transmission belt broke. Now many students, if they encounter it, are taught that Western civilization is a history of oppression

As I've noted, I am just finishing the second half of an almost completely Eurocentric World Lit sequence. The syllabus included: Homer, Sophocles, Vergil, Ovid, Marie de France, Dante, Montaigne, Cervantes, Molière, Goethe, Ibsen, Rilke, Borges, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Beckett, García Márquez, and Amara Lakhous. We did at least mention Montesquieu and Rousseau. I don't really know Erasmus, and we did not do Plato (Socrates, of course, being a literary character in Plato's dialogues, not an actual writer you can study).

The thing is, to see the West as "confidently progressive," you have to include a continual Western tradition of severe self-criticism. Montaigne is a fierce critic of colonialist arrogance and Western exceptionalism. He did see Western Civ, in important respects. as linked to oppression. We value Montaigne as a "humanistic ideal" because he did so. The same can be said of many other figures in Western Civ, not least Montesquieu (who wrote his "Persian Letters" as a way of critiquing Western values by adopting a Muslim perspective … wonder how that would go over with his champions today).

So there's a bit of a double bind. We may be "better" than other civilizations, but it's because we continuously reflect on how terrible we are. Cheerleading doesn't make us good; it makes us unthinking and complacent.
   1090. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:10 AM (#5439662)
Most Say GOP Should ‘Move On’ from Health Care

A new Quinnipiac poll finds that just 36% of American voters say Republicans in Congress should try again to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act, while 60% say the Republicans should “move on.”


To which I say "Stand Tall GOP!". You campaigned and promised health care reform to the voters for multiple cycles, how dare you give up after only a few months. I am sure Health Care Nirvana is only just one more amendment away.
   1091. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:10 AM (#5439663)
According to Wikipedia it is on the dividing line between the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, but according to their tourist site the are a Caribbean island, so I am still unsure. But I don't care enough to look further.


It's in the Florida Straits.
   1092. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:12 AM (#5439666)
Well I very much think that the politics and economics of the West are tightly integrated, and "the West" is more than just "Democracy". So if we are going to speak in terms of the fall of Western Civilization I don't think it is fair at all to then ignore capitalism/consumerism and only focus on Democracy.

Sure, in a broader sense I don't disagree. But the poll statistic that I found alarming was based on a question about democracy, not capitalism. Surveys that find that millenials are not as averse to socialism as previous generations are not particularly concerning to me (except to the extent that I suspect that we're not doing a very job at teaching basic economics in K-12 or post-secondary and so these preferences are not necessarily well-informed--but that's a different issue).

Read the article, it presents an interesting take on China and the changes their society is going through. I think the article is perhaps overly optimistic, but even so I think it is obvious from it (and many other sources) that Western ideas have very much taken hold in China, economic ideas and others, and while I don't think China is going to magically transform into Oriental Europe, I think one can assert Western ideals are making progress in China, so long as one looks beyond the top level political structure currently in place.

I don't disagree that China appears to be on a trajectory toward a more democratic society (although I don't know that it's as far along as we might have expected 25 years ago, i.e. progress is slowing). But "making progress" in the direction of democracy is not the same thing as being a democratic society. The assertion that the West has "won" nearly the entire world with respect to the spread of democracy is plainly false (and China is hardly the only counterexample).
   1093. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:13 AM (#5439667)
So there's a bit of a double bind. We may be "better" than other civilizations, but it's because we continuously reflect on how terrible we are. Cheerleading doesn't make us good; it makes us unthinking and complacent.


I don't know about better, but I have no issue with healthy criticism and self examination and think it a very good quality for us to have. I also think running around in circles, with one's hair on fire and screaming about "Decline!" is perhaps not the best form of criticism(not that you are, but I like the image), but still point taken.
   1094. Mellow Mouse, Benevolent Space Tyrant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:15 AM (#5439669)
The assertion that the West has "won" nearly the entire world with respect to the spread of democracy is plainly false


But I didn't make that assertion. I mean I agree it would be plainly false, which is why I didn't say it. In any event I think we understand where we stand, so thanks.
   1095. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:15 AM (#5439670)
From Wiki:

The Caribbean Sea (Spanish: Mar Caribe; French: Mer des Caraïbes Dutch: Caraïbische Zee) is a sea of the Atlantic Ocean in the tropics of the Western Hemisphere. It is bounded by Mexico and Central America to the west and south west, to the north by the Greater Antilles starting with Cuba, to the east by the Lesser Antilles, and to the south by the north coast of South America.

Key West is neither in the tropics, nor is it south of Cuba. Regardless of what the Chamber of Commerce claims, it is most definitely not in the Caribbean.
   1096. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:17 AM (#5439671)
You campaigned and promised health care reform to the voters for multiple cycles, how dare you give up after only a few months.

IIRC, it was only 18 days between the AHCA being introduced and the floor vote being canceled. So they didn't give up after a few months; they gave up after 2.5 weeks.
   1097. SBB, Live from the Alt-Center Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:17 AM (#5439672)
"The West" is liberalism and humanism. Both are in serious, significant recession.
   1098. Howie Menckel Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:27 AM (#5439679)
per 1083:

after a scant 60 minutes of waiting, I got a human, who was polite and transferred me to another human, who picked up right away.

maybe not a coincidence, but I was told that "we just got the ticket, and it will be recorded on the website by Monday." most interesting part was that I thanked the woman for her professionalism, but noted that my experience with the officer, the website, and the 1-hour phone wait had soured me on visiting the city - making the situation a net revenue loss for the city.

I can tell they get mostly angry feedback, because she began venting to me about how bad the system is, ad nauseum. problem is that if you know someone, they take care of the ticket. if you don't know someone, you are meaningless to those in power.

for those who have lived abroad, are other major cities of the world as dsyfunctional in this respect? the whole process seems willfully aggressive about shitting on the public. the cop was just mad at the world and looking to take it out on the average joe, and non serious customer relations advocate would design their payment system this way. it seems set up to maximize revenues by getting people to unknowingly wind up with a suspended license, setting up towing and major fee opportunities.
   1099. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:29 AM (#5439682)
not least Montesquieu (who wrote his "Persian Letters" as a way of critiquing Western values by adopting a Muslim perspective … wonder how that would go over with his champions today).

I think any one who understands the development of Western thought appreciates the role that Islamic scholars played, both in terms of contributions to it as well as preserving it.

Certainly the history of economic thought was substantially influenced (and greatly improved) by the contributions from Islamic philosophers (often without proper attribution by Western philosophers who contributed to what we now call economics).
   1100. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: April 21, 2017 at 10:35 AM (#5439685)
He is the very model of a modern Trump Republican

The 67-year-old owner of Dyson Seafood is out on the water every single day. He's seen nothing out there to indicate climate change is having a disastrous impact on the region. Seven days a week, the powerful weather in the region permitting, Dotson's boats go up and down the Gulf of Mexico coast, dragging large trawls along the seafloor to scoop up shellfish.

"I work outside in the weather on a boat, and it's all pretty much been the same for me," Dotson says, standing on Jetty Pier in Cameron, gesturing toward the ocean. "The climate is exactly the same as when I was a kid. Summers hot, winters cold."

Any changes to the coast are simply "the world changing back and forth," he says.

Greenery has given way to water and with a rising sea level and sinking land, what's left is more prone to flooding.

Cameron Parish and the surrounding Chenier Plain are considered an "extremely vulnerable" coastline by Tulane University researchers.

But in this parish where fisherman and shrimpers thrive, some people feel differently.

Cameron is home to the highest percentage of people in a county who believe climate change doesn't affect plants or animals, according to a recent Yale University study. Of the 4,500-plus who live here, more than 36% share those views. The county also places in the top 10 when it comes to those who dismiss climate change overall.

Dotson doesn't believe climate change would negatively impact the fishing industry on the Louisiana coast. Not based on what he's seen.

"It doesn't concern me. What is science? Science is an educated guess," Dotson says defiantly. "What if they guess wrong? There's just as much chance as them to be wrong as there is for them to be right."

Could anything change Dotson's mind on climate change? Only a very specific scientist.

"If he was 500 years old, and he told me it's changed, I would probably believe him," Dotson says. "But in my lifetime, I didn't see any change."
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