Hal and Dave chat about politics.

Why Hal, welcome to my conservatory. Please… make yourself comfortable.

Obama ran on simple messages of idealism and “hope” and “change”, and on personal charisma.

You’re making a semantic argument about what constitutes an idea. For one, Hope is an idea. Change is an idea. They’re admittedly vague, but, beyond that, Obama ran on several concrete ideas. They were ideas in many cases you may have felt were simple or disagreed with or found stupid, but that doesn’t make them Not Ideas. Regardless, “I will close Gitmo” and all that implies is an idea. “I will end the war in Iraq.” Idea! “DADT will be undone.” Concrete idea. “I will enact universal healthcare, fuckos.” Totes idea.

With something like car insurance, you’re required to do a thing only if you do another thing. You said most people “need” a car, but a) no you don’t, you can choose to live without a car, and that will be extremely inconvenient in some areas, but that’s still a choice you can make, not to mention there are probably people who just bum rides or live off the grid or whatever, and b) if we’re talking about legal reasoning and constitutional authority, we’re talking about the letter of the law. The government has said before that you have to do X if you do Y, but it’s never said that you have to do X period. That makes the mandate a new and unique thing, for better or for worse.

A) Tell most people in the country to try to live without a car. See how far into the conversation you get before the word “impossible” is thrown around.

2) The government has said, “You have to do X”. Selective service leaps to mind. Social security cards. Laws are not merely inhibitive. I disagree with some prescriptive laws, but not this one, and I don’t disagree philosophically with the idea of prescriptive law. I don’t understand why there’s a difference in your mind that makes this so objectionable. Yes, the government is telling you to do something. It tells you not to do things all the time. Sometimes, in telling you not to do something, it is as much telling you to do the only other thing possible. There’s not a big difference in my mind if the reason is For Good. Which this is.

I’m a relativist, Hal. I don’t think we get very far by saying “in all cases we will do X” governmentally, because then we run into cases where the government can’t do Y, and the fucking economy collapses and people die because they can’t get health insurance at an affordable rate.

Challenge to you, Hal. Solve the problem, which I assume you agree is a problem, without everyone being forced to buy health insurance, given the limitations of the Congress we have currently, the economy we have currently, and the health care industry we have currently. I’m in no way saying that this is a perfect solution, but it is the only one I can fathom that would work. Got another idea?

I am uncomfortable with your argument about the government doing something like this to prevent an economic collapse due to nobody living in a vacuum, because that sounds like you’re saying the government should have unlimited authority to do whatever it wants in everybody’s perceived best interest. That’s kind of… totalitarian.

The government is here to act in our best interest Hal! The whole point of having an enlightened representative democracy: we vote in good people to do the right thing! That’s not totalitarian, that’s democracy. And the government already has a perfectly cromulent series of checks and balances that are designed to keep authority from being wielded evilly. Does it work? Not always, because it’s a system designed by people, for people, who are all imperfect, selfish, weird, sick, sad, whatever.

Regardless, the government does have authority, not unlimited -I never used the word unlimited- to act decisively in our interests, especially if there’s an emergent reason to do so. The crisis developing around health care fit that bill just fine for me.

I think your outlook is that the government should be able to do whatever it wants, and that that’s fine as long as we elect good people who will do good things.

I think if that was my outlook, I would have said it, Hal. Why don’t you waste our time by addressing what I actually put to page, rather than waste it by recasting what I wrote as an easy strawman?

Here: I think your outlook is that human beings should be able to do whatever they want, with no government oversight, especially murder each other because you think everyone is going to be good so no one will ever murder once there’s no government telling them not to do so, so we don’t need to do anything about murder.

I think that’s dangerous.

I think your pro-murder platform is more dangerous. Stop telling everyone to murder!

I think it’s inevitable that there will sometimes be awful presidents and awful Congresses, and I think it’s important to limit the government’s authority for our own protection. If Obama is the world’s greatest president and his goals would bring about utopia on earth, I still don’t think he should be a dictator; he should have limited powers.

Yeah! I think he should be a dictator! The fact that you don’t means you love murder! Why do you love murder so much?

(You are addressing an argument I didn’t make, Hal.)

If the government has the authority to make people buy things from private companies, that means the next time horrible people run the government, it is acceptable for them to use that power in ways we don’t like, until such time as we vote them out. I don’t want that.

Oh, actual argument that addresses something I actually said, sorta. Refreshing. I think we might disagree on the reading of the decision, but my understanding is that by reading it linked to the tax code, it’s been firmly established as part of previous authority the government had, and therefore does not establish new powers. That everything the government ‘forces’ you to buy from now on, if anything, will have to go through the process of being linked to taxation, and that is a major limiting factor.

Does your read disagree with that?

You like unaccountable dictatorships, you weird royalist!

Hey, did you notice that you took a thing I said, and recast it to say something idiotic I didn’t say without asking yourself, “Hey, my buddy Dave is not an idiot. Would he make an idiotic argument? Could it be that I don’t understand? Might I be the problem here? Or maybe he’s the problem, in that he didn’t clarify his position clearly. Or maybe the medium’s the problem, since it’s uninflected? Should I ask for clarification? Or should I just act like my pal’s an idiot?” Now, clearly you did this because you don’t believe in the processes that this country has used to become one of the finest Democracies the world’s ever seen. You think that because the system is imperfect, because people are imperfect, we should toss out 5000 years of Democratic ideals dating back to the Greeks that we have consistently improved and redefined, ending slavery, enacting Civil Protections, taking steps backwards, but generally moving forwards- all of that’s not good enough for you. In your world we should all be constantly murdering each other. Well, I think that’s dangerous, Hal.

Look, I put actual questions into the last post, ones I was interested in your answers to. You didn’t answer them, you knocked down a bunch of arguments I didn’t make. Really dumb ones. Do you want to address the arguments I made?

Sup Dave!

I strongly disagree that “Obama ran on ideas”. Obama ran on simple messages of idealism and “hope” and “change”, and on personal charisma. His candidacy felt more like a popular movement than an idea-driven platform.

The difference between the individual mandate and something like car insurance is that the mandate regulates inactivity.

With something like car insurance, you’re required to do a thing only if you do another thing. You said most people “need” a car, but a) no you don’t, you can choose to live without a car, and that will be extremely inconvenient in some areas, but that’s still a choice you can make, not to mention there are probably people who just bum rides or live off the grid or whatever, and b) if we’re talking about legal reasoning and constitutional authority, we’re talking about the letter of the law. The government has said before that you have to do X if you do Y, but it’s never said that you have to do X period. That makes the mandate a new and unique thing, for better or for worse.

Anything the government makes you do right now can be avoided, albeit only through extreme and unconventional lifestyles. It’s possible to not have to pay an income tax because you don’t have income. The individual mandate is the first law requiring people to go do something with no provocation.

I am uncomfortable with your argument about the government doing something like this to prevent an economic collapse due to nobody living in a vacuum, because that sounds like you’re saying the government should have unlimited authority to do whatever it wants in everybody’s perceived best interest. That’s kind of… totalitarian.

I think your outlook is that the government should be able to do whatever it wants, and that that’s fine as long as we elect good people who will do good things. I think that’s dangerous. I think it’s inevitable that there will sometimes be awful presidents and awful Congresses, and I think it’s important to limit the government’s authority for our own protection. If Obama is the world’s greatest president and his goals would bring about utopia on earth, I still don’t think he should be a dictator; he should have limited powers. If the government has the authority to make people buy things from private companies, that means the next time horrible people run the government, it is acceptable for them to use that power in ways we don’t like, until such time as we vote them out. I don’t want that.

I’m not sure why you think it’s acceptable for the Supreme Court to overturn undesireable laws. That is explicitly not their job, to such a degree that it could be grounds for impeachment. And that’s saying that the question of what’s “desireable” should be up to people with lifetime appointments that we can’t replace, instead of up to voters (via elected officials). You like unaccountable dictatorships, you weird royalist!

thephillipswarthdebates:

Hal to the max!

I don’t know that I agree with you that the two party system is to blame for a boring cycle this time around. Obama ran on ideas, and it was exciting and interesting, and there was a real debate buried in there somewhere, because McCain is also kinda a thinking man’s psychotic.

Hal to the max!

I don’t know that I agree with you that the two party system is to blame for a boring cycle this time around. Obama ran on ideas, and it was exciting and interesting, and there was a real debate buried in there somewhere, because McCain is also kinda a thinking man’s psychotic.

This time around, there’s no there there in Obama’s opponent, and I feel that Obama’s vulnerable to someone who had some there there. He’d still beat McCain, but I think if you put him up against a Reagan, he’d lose. And there are Reagans out there. People remember him fondly, but he was hardly exceptional, just good with words.

Obamaish, in some ways (though for healthcare alone, Obama’s great in my book. Also, Obama admits AIDS exists and is better at fighting his secret wars).

Speaking of health care! I’m completely fine with AHA’s individual mandate (or, more correctly, it’s the best I’ll get. I would prefer things like the single payer model, in the same way I’d prefer unicorns as a mode of transit). Here’s why:

The American government found itself in an untenable position a couple years ago. Health care costs were rising, at the same time insurers were jacking their costs, and behaving generally unacceptably with regards to kicking people off when they’ve spent ‘too much’ on staying alive, or if they have reasonably vaguely defined pre-existing conditions. It is also, due to cost, very difficult for people who want insurance but who are not part of a large buy group, to get insurance. The self-employed, unemployed and small business owner/operators/employees are living lives where they can’t get sick.

So we agree this is bad, right? People are dying because they can’t afford care, or going bankrupt, or just rolling the dice. And the costs to the government, and by extension all of us, are extraordinary. Untenable, as stated above. And there are very few uninsured people who wish to be uninsured. I assume we agree on that as well.

I also assume we agree on this: If you are alive, you will at one point use health care. To relate this to your rebuttal to my car insurance example: if you want a car, you need insurance. But in many areas of the country you’re forced to by car insurance because you NEED a car. Likewise, you NEED health care. On a long enough timeline you WILL use it. We will pay for it if you do not. On a reasonably short timeline, for basic health, you SHOULD use it. If there was a rational chance that people wouldn’t need to use health care, well, that’d be one thing.

So, a small blow to freedom for a group whose freedom I don’t particularly care about. If you’re stupid enough to actually make the choice to have no insurance (as opposed to having that thrust upon you by circumstance, like the vast majority of people who are uninsured) you’ve kinda illustrated why we can’t have nice things. In certain cases I don’t feel that restricting certain rights diminishes all rights. This is one of those cases. By doing this, the government has extended the freedom to not have yet another massive economic collapse to all of us. No one exists within a vacuum in a country like this one, and no one gets to make a choice that potentially costs the rest of us literally millions of dollars simply because they want to exercise their right to be as stupid as humanly possible.

Soooo, I’d be fine with establishing the precedent that forces people to buy things that prevent them from bankrupting the democracy they live within. But, I kinda feel like Roberts did some less-graceful-than-I’d-like footwork to place this within established precedent. You’re forced to buy F-18s and salaries for IRS employees and all kinds of other things that taxes go to. The penalty for not buying is another thing that goes in that pile, if you don’t buy and you’re wealthy enough to afford it, which are two major important caveats. For you, Hal, at your current job, they’ll have to get you insurance if they meet the minimum requirements, which are, basically, have 50 employees. If not, and if you don’t make enough money to buy insurance, you are not penalized under AHA for not buying insurance! You are given insurance at a virtually free rate. See here:

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2010/March/22/consumers-guide-health-reform.aspx

Also, this has a lot of great info:

http://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/vb8vs/eli5_what_exactly_is_obamacare_and_what_did_it/c530lfx

Why force people to buy at all? Because people are dicks. You can’t make this law optional, and force insurers to allow people to buy with pre-exisiting conditions. People will wait until their chronic problems become super chronic, game the system, buy only when they need, rather than spend money on something they’re not using. Costs go up, we’re back to square one.

I don’t think Bush would use this power or be able to use this power to force me to buy much of anything. I can’t imagine anything that’s not this that fits the bill for this kind of force. What are you concerned that you’ll be forced by the government to buy, if this precedent is used?

There are good parallels to the student loan debt crisis, here. And the mortgage crisis. Deregulated markets went apeshit on the consumer for long enough that the government was forced to act. Unfortunately, we’ll never get ‘good’ action from the government, just ‘good enough’. I agree with Tony Weenis that this addresses industry. But that’s because there weren’t the votes for single payer, which would kinda make all of this less a problem.

For the record, I have no problem with the Supreme Court overturning undesirable law.

Regardless, if there’s a solution to the government’s problem that is passable within the time crunch before a complete debt default on health care costs, I’m all ears. I’m all for increasing freedom and lack of legislation, but, as I said: nice things, we may not be able to have them.

Hi Dave!

I think option 3 doesn’t happen in general-election presidential campaigns in the two-party system. To rise to that level, you have to be bland and focus-grouped and soundbitey and give the people what they want— which some do better than others, but basically, you’re not gonna get there by sounding all substantial. Unfortunately, I think any potential “excitement” would come from personalities and storylines, not issue-based debate.

Obamacare: I don’t like the mandate, but you had asked how I feel about the Supreme Court ruling, which is a TOTALLY different question. That’s not a matter of whether it’s good or bad, just whether it’s constitutional or unconstitutional (and in fact, John Roberts made it clear that he thinks it’s a bad law despite being constitutional).

The government’s never forced us to buy things; it’s forced us to buy things IF we do other things. You don’t have to buy car insurance if you don’t buy a car. This is the first time in history that the government has outright required people to buy something with no provocation, which is very different from anything else that’s happened before— which made the ruling the kind of thing that could go either way, because there’s really no precedent. The Constitution doesn’t really say they can do that, but doesn’t really say they can’t.

The Supreme Court is supposed to overturn bad laws if “bad” means “invalid”, but not if it means “undesireable”. All they’re supposed to decide is what laws we’re allowed to make. And Roberts seems to feel they should err on the side of upholding the will of the voters (as expressed through Congress) when possible, which seems to be why he upheld the mandate as a tax despite disagreeing with Obama’s own rationale for it. (I do think it can be considered a tax; that comes down to semantics. It’s “bad faith” in that it’s not what Obama wanted, but good faith in that, when Roberts felt Obama’s argument was invalid, he looked for an alternate way to achieve the same end.)

As for the mandate itself: I do not think the government should forcibly require people to buy things, even if they’re good things that people should want to buy. I think that, now that that’s happened for the first time ever and it’s been upheld, the government has a scary new power that will be used for all sorts of things by all sorts of people (imagine what Bush would’ve forced us to buy if he could’ve). And I am against corporate welfare, and I count a government program that forces people to become customers of private insurance companies as corporate welfare. Even Anthony Weiner, an outspoken liberal supporter of Obamacare, said right here that it’s all about preserving an industry. I do not have health insurance at my current job and I don’t make enough to even pay my bills; if I had to spend money on insurance or a penalty/”tax”, I don’t know what I’d do.

thephillipswarthdebates:

Deeper. Hal-er.

I dunno, re: boring. I think there’s a third option aside from 1) boring race because government’s boring, 2) overly excited and breathless narrative coverage that’s bullshit entertainment, as opposed to a dialogue on the issues.

I think there’s 3) two (or more) reasonably…

Deeper. Hal-er.

I dunno, re: boring. I think there’s a third option aside from 1) boring race because government’s boring, 2) overly excited and breathless narrative coverage that’s bullshit entertainment, as opposed to a dialogue on the issues.

I think there’s 3) two (or more) reasonably interesting, well spoken candidates, who believe in their platforms, articulate them well, and generate interest based off of that.

Of course, with Romney involved, 3 is certainly not an option.

Re: Obamacare. I am totally fine with the mandate. I think the government tells us what to buy all the time, either directly (car insurance) or indirectly (there’s no law that says you have to buy pants but there are several that deal with the legal implications of pantslessness). The mandate’s an imperfect solution to an imperfect problem, and wouldn’t be a thing, I think, if Single Payer had been possible. It may even veer into weirdly Orwellian territory, but I tend to view issues like that on a less than slippery slope. I doubt anyone will stand up in front of the Court and say “The AHA established that the government can make you buy things. Like this barcode tattoo we’re making everyone get on their face.”

In part, that’s due to the way the Court examined the law and decided it was a tax. I find that a little problematic, in that it seems a bad-faith reading. The law’s not a tax. But I think that was Roberts knowing that there was no Constitutional barrier to the law, while still hating the law enough that he felt he had to pass it, establishing as little precedent as humanly possible.

Regardless, I’m fine with the Supreme Court overturning bad law. That would practically be how I’d define their job.

Romney pissed off a lot of British people. The Bain Capital thing has gone quiet for the time being, which is Obama strategy to extend the problem, I’m sure. Same with the taxes. Why Romney won’t release is… mysterious to me.

thephillipswarthdebates:

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/25/july-24-the-incredibly-steady-presidential-race/

This race is exceptionally boring.

Hi Dave! I forgot this was here again!

It’s good that it’s boring. Government should be the most boring thing in the world, and I don’t like that people try to turn it into entertainment.

Still leaning heavily toward voting for Gary Johnson (although Jill Stein is nice too).

There’s an open Democratic primary for my local Assembly seat, and the two candidates are Walter Mosley and Olanike Alabi. I emailed them to ask where they stand on instant runoff voting; Alabi said she supports it, and Mosley hasn’t written back. If he doesn’t, I’ll vote for Alabi.

You asked what I think of the Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling. I’m iffy. I do NOT support the individual mandate; I think it’s horrible and dangerous for the government to have the power to require people to buy things from private corporations. But this was an unusual case in that it deals with something completely unprecedented, giving the Supreme Court a lot of leeway to interpret it however they want. John Roberts supposedly wanted to err on the side of upholding statutes when possible rather than aiming for “judicial activism”, and I think that’s the right thing to do; I think it’s more appropriate to overturn a bad law democratically than by the Supreme Court swooping in. So I lean toward thinking the decision was a good one, in that it leaves the Court out of it and gives us the option of voting for anti-Obamacare legislators if we so choose. Fun!

I haven’t decided who to vote for for U.S. Senator. Kristen Gillibrand is running for reelection against Wendy Long, Colia Clark, and Chris Edes; I’m torn between Clark and Edes. (Gillibrand will win in a landslide, I’m sure.)

Hi Hal.

To answer your question about student loan forgiveness, I think that most people who are in trouble now are in trouble because they made a calculation based on the information given to them by loaners and schools. The calculation was, roughly, “I will go x dollars into debt to go to school, I can expect to make y dollars/year above what I’d make if I didn’t go to school, therefore I can pay off this loan in z time.”

And that wasn’t true, and that’s not the fault of the lendee. It’s the fault of the lender and schools who had a massive conflict of interest and who knew what they were saying to lendees to be untrue.

This lie is all now rather clear, and in terms of whether or not we wind up in the same position, people know to look for the lie now. It may still be marginally advantageous to go to school, or it may be something you want to do and figure out the budget for in ways that pay off the loans, or don’t take much in the way of loans, but no one now believes lenders and schools when they say ‘you’ll make a bajillionty dollars once you have this piece of paper.’ It’s hard for me to believe that we’d wind up in the same position now, since the lie’s been spotted.

It’s like if someone said to a bunch of children: “You need a monkey.” And everyone believed them. And then people looked at their wallets and said, “Crap, I don’t have 37,000 dollars, which is what a monkey costs.” And then the same people telling them they needed this said, “No problem. Here’s a low interest loan that will get a monkey. Which you need. The monkey pays for itself after 3 years, because you get a job from having a monkey. So don’t even worry about the fact that the rate goes to 26% after 3 years, because you’ll already have a job by then.”

Now everyone’s got a monkey and debt and monkeys don’t get you a job. So, the government steps in, says, “Hey, you can’t lie to people like that. We’re invalidating the debt.”

People aren’t going to believe people trying to sell them a monkey after that. They may still want a monkey, or find value in monkey ownership, but they’ll budget around the fact that A) the monkey is a low return item, and 2) the monkey lenders are mostly out of business anyway.

I agree with much of your thoughts on the recent primaries. Didn’t really follow much. Any thoughts on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act?

Hi Dave! I forgot this was here!

Why do you think that after student loan forgiveness, people would be so much smarter after having been burned that the problem wouldn’t recreate itself? Wouldn’t we still be in a position where, even if a college degree isn’t much of a guarantee, it still leaves you in a better position than not having one, prompting everybody to go get one and hope they can pay it back later? Wouldn’t we end up right back where we are now, except maybe SLIGHTLY smaller?

Any thoughts on the recent primaries? Slightly surprised Wendy Long beat Bob Turner. Slightly surprised Charlie Rangel beat Adriano Espaillat. Surprised all the media were like “Charles Barron is surging!” when of course he wasn’t. Nothing really big. Nothing important. Bunch of dicks beat a bunch of similar dicks.

thephillipswarthdebates:

Hi Hal,
I tend to favor some form of forgiveness for a couple reasons.
There’s something like a trillion dollars in student loan debt currently in the system. That shit needs to get cut off in a hurry; it’s getting more untenable every day. Making it clear to the loaners…
Hi Hal,
I tend to favor some form of forgiveness for a couple reasons.
There’s something like a trillion dollars in student loan debt currently in the system. That shit needs to get cut off in a hurry; it’s getting more untenable every day. Making it clear to the loaners (which are either the government (capable of absorbing the hit) or private enterprise (a good number of whom are predators)) that they’re not going to see profit off of this now, as opposed to ten years from now is preferable, I think. Predatory lenders aren’t interested in seeing loans repaid, anyway. They’re interested in selling debt, as with the subprime crisis.
So, in terms of being back where we started, this could easily be the next 2008 crash, and I think forgiveness (of some sort. More on that in a moment) would head that off at the pass.
I get what you’re saying about the problem threatening to recreate itself, but I find that somewhat uncompelling reasoning. A) we can rebuild the loan system to be fairer to both lender and lendee. B) Lendees are theoretically smarter, now that they’ve been burned. Our generation and the one after were told to go to college for jobs. This was clearly bad intel. I doubt we’ll be telling our kids the same thing. They may still go to college; I thought college was a very valuable experience, but it won’t be for jobs, and the budgeting to get college paid for will be with that in mind. C) Philosophically I bristle at the idea that there could ever be ‘too many’ educated poors.
So. What kind of forgiveness do I favor?
Government programs are pretty fairly run. The loans have a reasonable rate, and can be repaid over a very long timespan. I’d leave them alone, with the caveat that student loan debt must be returned to bankruptcy protection.
Private enterprise debt must be examined on a by case basis, but I’d have the DOJ give a hard look at the actions of predatory lenders. I’d guess a statistically significant amount of loan debt goes away if those guys are put out of business. Beyond that, bringing them into line with the rules that govern government lending. For those who cannot afford to operate that way, government buys the debt off of them, runs it at a reasonable rate.

Right now there aren’t enough jobs for people who want to enter the workforce. There’s a few reasons for that, I think. 1) It’s cheaper to hire overseas in many cases. That needs to end. Companies that do that should be punished financially. 2) For economic reasons companies are having their existing workforces take on duties that would be otherwise given to new hires. Incentivising hiring needs to happen. Tax breaks for every new employee you hire. 3) The government has been slashing size, firing government workers. This is fucking retarded. Build some fucking damns and some goddamn solar plants in the desert. Put some fucking highways down. Fucking shit. I get really angry at the talking points that get thrown out that the government can’t stimulate job growth by hiring. For every job the government creates, that’s one less person vying for a private sector job.
Regardless, addressing all of that would go a long way towards addressing the student debt crisis. Kids coming out of school are at somewhere between 25% and 50% unemployment. They’re getting used by ‘internships’, living at home, draining the economy and it’s not because they got educations, it’s because there’s nowhere for them to go. This would be a problem whether or not they went to college. There are no jobs. The compounding problem is that these kids are in major debt that legally can’t be negotiated in bankruptcy, and they have no income. The untenability of that is obvious, and should have been obvious to the lenders making the deals. It almost certainly was, which is bad faith on their part, making the loan null.

student loans

Hi Dave! Here is a question out of nowhere:

The student loan crisis: people have floated all sorts of ideas, like forgiving student loan debt or whatever. But it seems like if you did that, the problem would recreate itself: people would get student loans and go to college, their degrees wouldn’t help them get jobs because there’d be too many people out there with degrees, and we’d be right back here.

What would you propose?

Bye Dave!

HEEEEEEEEEEEEY DAAAAAAAAAAAVE

I don’t understand why you think legislators holding things up in exchange for getting what they want is necessarily “whorish” or bad. Isn’t that what they’re supposed to do? Negotiate, compromise, etc.? Use their clout in order to accomplish good things? I think that’s a good thing! That’s why I like the idea of an independent as the tiebreaker, instead of a predetermined majority voting in lockstep.

I remember when Paul Wellstone died in 2002, Jesse Ventura appointed an independent, Dean Barkley, as his replacement for the lame-duck session, and Barkley had the tie-breaking vote. I think they needed his vote to pass something important, and he said he’d do it in exchange for a Paul Wellstone memorial and funding for a local community center or something, and they agreed, and everybody was happy.

Walker: Seems like the concerns about collective bargaining, which led to the recall election, are an entirely separate issue from the election itself. I mean… it’s normal to think that certain elected officials are horrible and want to do horrible things, and to feel bad about unfavorable election results. Nothing about this seems exceptional in that regard.

I’m not saying Obama should have gotten involved; I don’t care one way or the other. Just saying, his incentive to get involved would be to help Democrats. And it’s not uncommon for the president to get involved in his party’s election campaigns, especially when they’re isolated like this. I think it’s valid to say he should choose his battles and this one wasn’t worth choosing, but I think it’s also valid (for a Democrat) to say that he should’ve tried to help and that not doing so constitutes abandonment.

Drones: I hear you on not knowing what the alternative is. It’s hard to even judge things when so much is classified. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the government is acting on good information, and that all of its strikes are taking out appropriate targets and legitimately making us safer. I guess that would be good, right? My major issues with that: 1) that requires a level of trust and benefit of the doubt that I do not think is appropriate to give; 2) it still needs to be done the right way, i.e. with due process. And without doublespeak! I mean… if there are civilian casualties, I’d rather the government be honest about it than claim all civilians that were killed are counted as enemy combatants. That is NOT acceptable. The problem with things like that is, there’s a level of P.R. and bullshit.

I also feel like… maybe this is the Team America dicks/assholes/pussies theory, but I think there need to be people who oppose government violence and advocate for more transparency, even if we’re destined to always lose. It’s a tug-of-war: you may not win, but maybe you can maintain equilibrium and prevent the other side from going too far. I think that AT A MINIMUM, we should remain vigilant and press the government for openness, honesty, and a bare minimum of violence under only the strictest of standards. For instance, support this effort by Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers to get more information out of Obama.

And maybe call it war. We are attacking specific countries on a regular, ongoing basis; that’s war.

I think it is never, ever appropriate to trust the government to act with proper restraint when it comes to secret violence and treatment of prisoners. That has nothing to do with Obama and his administration; I think it’s true of governments in general.

thephillipswarthdebates:

HALPAL

The only thing I mean by King potentially being a whore in an independent situation is that the indie Congressperson who is a deciding vote can find it tempting to hold their vote in ALL cases, in exchange for lines written into legislation or favors or whatever. When the votes being held…

HALPAL

The only thing I mean by King potentially being a whore in an independent situation is that the indie Congressperson who is a deciding vote can find it tempting to hold their vote in ALL cases, in exchange for lines written into legislation or favors or whatever. When the votes being held up are specifically in the interests of the folks who voted that person into power that’s whorish.

The Walker recall. While I don’t think it’s by any means the end of Democracy; the whole effort was democratically voted, as you point out, there are a couple troubling things for democracy in play, I think. First is Citizens United and the power of cash in this particular election. Walker outspent something like 10 to 1, and much, possibly the majority, of his money came from sources outside the state. I can understand how the outsized influence of donor money, especially from donors that can’t vote in the election, whose interests will presumably now be considered by Walker while possibly less so the interests of the actual citizens of the state - I can see how that’s concerning from a democracy standpoint.

Thing two is what got us to this point in WI, the slashing of collective bargaining. Weakening labor is seen on the left as a major sign of a weakened democracy, and I can understand that, as well.

Obama didn’t get involved because it wouldn’t have helped, his guy would still have lost, and the reason is that most Obama voters in the state didn’t favor recall; most voters in the state didn’t favor recall. The recall was seen as small and somewhat petty and not over anything actually illegal. It didn’t help that Walker’s opponent was a tool.

I’m also discomforted by the drone attacks. I’m… not sure what the alternative is, aside from simply not targeting highly placed members of Al-Qaeda, and I’m not sure how that works out as a strategy.

Killing civilians is Not Good, and it’s clear that some civilians die in this effort. You don’t get killed based solely on the company you keep. Even if you are a pal of a Bad Guy, if you’re his chef, that’s not a death-worthy crime, in my book.

But, I’m further discomforted in that I don’t exactly see what IS to be done in all of this. This is a terrible path we’re on currently. What’s the better path?

Hi Dave! I have a headache and I’m poor.

I suppose King’s incentive to stay out of a caucus would be to maintain genuine independence— both for ideology’s sake and to avoid committing himself to anything upfront. The whole idea, supposedly, is that he wants to decide things individually on a case-by-case basis instead of having party leaders tell him what to do. If it were up to me, every legislator would do it that way!

I’m sure he’ll ultimately join a caucus, because it’s sadly practical. But if nothing else, his preference not to is nice. Get one or two more people who feel the same way, and you could have a nice little breakaway independent caucus— which would be the equivalent of three “parties”. And then you have coalitions! Maybe you have 48 Democrats, 48 Republicans, and 4 independents, and both parties have to compromise with the independents in order to win their support for a majority coalition. Anything like that will help us get away from this binary thing that I really don’t like. (The New York State Senate actually has a breakaway Independent Democrat coalition of about four members.)

I don’t see how stuff like that would make him a whore; it’d just make him someone using his position to fight for what he thinks is right, like all the rest of them. I don’t think legislators have to be or should be loyal soldiers, and I don’t think they should be beholden to the national party leadership as well as their own electorate.

I don’t know a ton about the Walker recall. Nothing about it seems wrong, though. They’re allowed to have a recall, and he’s allowed to win it, and the other side is allowed to think that sucks— but it’s all democratic. I must be missing something, because I don’t get why people are calling this “the end of democracy” or whatever. Is it because Walker outspent the opposition? If it’s just that Democrats hate Walker, there’s nothing undemocratic about your own side democratically losing. I was out petitioning for a Democratic candidate the day after it happened, and Democrats kept commenting to me about how terrible this was; I just don’t get it.

As for Obama’s incentive to get involved: presumably to help his party. Or possibly to establish a stronger presence in a swing state.

I am not comfortable with the drone attacks. The kill list thing is bad— but even worse is that the Obama administration automatically considers all military-age males in a strike zone as enemy combatants, which allows them to claim low civilian casualties because there ARE no civilians. The rationale is that a random dude in a top-secret Al Qaeda base is realistically not just an unaffiliated random passer-by— but I still think they’re casting the net way too wide, and completely trashing due process. The government should NOT be killing people it’s never even heard of and declaring them enemies. The whole thing feels like Bush-era doublespeak to me, and lowers my opinion of Obama dramatically. It also reminds me of the rationale for shooting Trayvon Martin— that he seemed like he was up to no good.

Fuck Bloomberg.

thephillipswarthdebates:

Sup, Smoove Hal?

I guess I don’t see the incentive for King to remain out of the Democratic caucus when the rubber meets the road. I’d assume that the rule enforcers would approach him and be like, ‘it’s either caucus with one of the parties or be met with X at the start of every session’ where…

Sup, Smoove Hal?

I guess I don’t see the incentive for King to remain out of the Democratic caucus when the rubber meets the road. I’d assume that the rule enforcers would approach him and be like, ‘it’s either caucus with one of the parties or be met with X at the start of every session’ where X=some mild but annoying form of censure written into the rules.

That, plus being left out of the loop… I guess if he’s the potential filibuster breaker, the majority party might play ball, but A) the odds of it working out that exactly are somewhat slim, and B) that’d make him kinda a whore, wouldn’t it? I don’t see him as likely to use the threat of voting against the interests that put him in power just so he can hold that power (which is what Lieberman had to do with his advantage in order to press it, the fuck).

Not much of interest happening at the moment. Walker won, which I’m of two minds about. Mind A is mildly enraged, since Walker is The Worst Person. Mind B is like… well, recalls are typically there for people who’ve done terribly illegal things, not people you disagree with (Walker probably did play fast and loose with some law to get his collective bargaining law passed; not impeach-ably so, though). I feel like this was an overreach both in strategy and philosophy. Would it have been that much worse to leave Walker to twist in the wind for however much longer he had before the next election? There would have been no chance of his victory, he’d have been remarkably unpopular, the protests would have just gotten worse. Now, his side’s energized, momentum favors them, and the left is fatigued and sad. People ask why Obama stayed out, but what’s his incentive to involve himself in this mess?

Otherwise, the election chugs on. Doesn’t feel like much of note has happened, aside from the formality of Romney getting the number of delegates needed to officially win the nomination. Occupy seems dead.

I’ve been reading about the use of drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I’m very torn. On the one hand, horrible. Kills civilians a bunch of the time. President pulls the trigger, president won’t always be someone I like. On the other hand, brutally effective, especially lately. If we could get these guys alive, given Congress’ inability to do the right thing on Gitmo, there’s not much we could do to house them, and given Bloomberg’s petulance regarding trying these guys in NYC, there’s not much we could do to give them a trial.

It’s one of those things where I get the feeling I wouldn’t like any proposed solution, or what any president felt they had to do.

Speaking of Bloomberg, I found the whole soda thing Actually Hilarious.