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November 04, 2014


Look at it this way. City people and country people are different, and have different interests and priorities. So, in fairness, country people as a group should have as much influence on national policy as city people as a group. Otherwise, their rights are being trampled upon.

See. Once you accept the premise, it's clear that city people are seriously "overrepresented" in Congress. (And in the state legislatures, for that matter.) You just have to understand where the argument is coming from.

Thanks for demonstrating that it is always possible to invent a stupid position to attribute to the opposition, in place of their actual views. We were all already aware of that, but I suppose a reminder can't hurt.

Brett, if you have an alternate way in which cities are "over-represented," by all means feel free to share.

Of course people get more conservative as they age.

There must be something wrong with me, then.

I was a (less-than-zealous) Youth Delegate to the Iowa State Republican Statutory Convention in 1970. My political convictions have trended slowly and steadily left since then.

The main thing I've learned is that the people with wealth and power invariably have extremely good intentions as they go about the process of savagely oppressing everyone else (unless stopped by some countervailing power). After all, the remarkable Mr. Kurtz was an emissary of progress and light.

The second thing I've learned is that it's nearly impossible for the privileged to understand how privilege pervades their lives, and what life would be like without it.

Another lesson that I accepted after long resisting: intelligent, thoughtful, decent people will placidly cooperate in acts of utter barbarism, even with manifest evil, if people they look up to have endorsed the crime. (Hanna Arendt got there first; I didn't want to believe her. Milgram helped me understand; the manner in which otherwise-decent Americans lined up behind Cheney to defend interrogation under physical torture provided ample confirmation.)

The US population is about 80% urban, 20% rural.

The representation of the population in government is, by design, set up to provide a greater share of representation for low-population states. In general, low-population states are rural.

If rural folks receive less representation at the national level, it is basically because *there are less of them* to represent. And, to the degree that it's so, it's so in spite of the fact that specific measures have been taken to mitigate that.

We could just devolve all public policy to the county level, but I suspect that will create as many problems as it solves.

Don't you?

At a certain point, things just are the way they are. C'est la vie. And by "c'est la vie" I don't mean "screw you, farmboy", I mean, literally, that's life.

That's life.

It's worth noting that, for something like the last 40 years, voter turnout in Presidential election years has been between 50-60%. In off-years, I don't think it ever reaches 50%.

If rural folks are that ill-used, and that motivated to better their lot, there's a huge opportunity there, waiting to be grasped.

All they have to do is get off the couch and go vote.

I think my last comment must have gone into moderation.

Hey joel, nothing in there, unless the 9:53 was retrieved by someone else

"Brett, if you have an alternate way in which cities are "over-represented," by all means feel free to share."

I can't think of any sense in which cities are over-represented. Except maybe that illegal immigrants get counted in redistricting, and tend to cluster in cities, so that the actual legitimate members of our society get a few more votes in the legislature than they should.

I take issue with the idea that rural areas should have as much influence on national policy as urban areas. That's not my position. Rather, I think that fewer issues should be matters of national policy. I don't want the rural areas lording it over the cities, I don't want the cities lording it over the rural areas.

I want less lording it over.

I think that fewer issues should be matters of national policy.

I'd probably say "could" rather than "should", but I generally agree with this.

The devil is in the details.

Would you be interested in expanding this to discuss what things do or don't belong at the national level?

To start, if we're going to have the rule of law, every issue that the Constitution doesn't allocate to the federal government should be off the table, barring a constitutional amendment.

Building codes. The weather varies radically from one place to another, natural hazards do, too. Minnesota doesn't get hurricanes. There aren't water shortages in the states bordering on the Great Lakes. Extreme cold is not a concern in Florida. So, policies that are a response to weather are an obvious case where the federal government should butt out.

Speed limits on state roads.

Really, though, the proper question is not, what issues shouldn't be a matter of federal policy. Per the 10th amendment, state jurisdiction is the default, federal the exception.

Brett: I think that fewer issues should be matters of national policy.

A noble sentiment, but a nebulous one.

For one thing, even if you and I agreed on "fewer", we'd still need a way to decide on which.

And even if we agreed on "which", we'd still have to settle each "issue" -- and either you or I would end up unhappy with the resolution.

Still, I can see the strategic allure of this devolution ploy. If I don't like how an "issue" gets settled at the national level, I can always argue it should be left to my own state. And if my state settles it wrong, I can always argue that it should have been left up to my own town. Or my own neighborhood. Or ... to me!

And that's where we circle back to the national government: my state, my town, my neighbors, might all decide to impose on me in some way, and I might want the federal government to step in on my behalf. Tough cookies for me if I have already drowned it in the bathtub, eh?


Throw this into the mix:


And then blow it the f&ck up.

Google clean water shortages in the Great Lakes region.

Let me get you started:


"Extreme cold is not an issue in Florida."

An orange is an orange is an orange by any other lemon.

Plus, as the seas rise, regardless of what or who is to blame, it rises in Florida and Maine, or do you think if you sail the Atlantic Coast you'll be sailing uphill one way or the other.

"Minnesota doesn't get hurricanes."

Duluth, 1913.

It is all so simple, those imaginary borders between states, and counties, and townships, and property lines.

I'll give you speed limits on state roads.

I would favor, however, a Federal statute disallowing random asset forfeiture by corrupt local constabulary during routine traffic stops, which abound.

National Weather Service.

I have my own private weather.

What about you?

No Ebola in Colorado.

Why is Texas so special to get all of the good diseases and the benefit of Federal scientific expertise?

When I have Ebola, I'll take it under consideration whether my Federal tax dollars should be spent to come up with a vaccine that prevents me from giving it y'all.

My Ebola is a local problem.

Building codes.



I'm not a big fan of devolution.

We have a history that demonstrates that localization of issues tends to produce some pretty bad outcomes. Like Civil Wars.

We also live in a national economy. We have a national currency. People, goods, ideas, pollution, etc. flow readily from state to state. Having individual sate rules about lots of things is a recipe for disaster.

We do not live in Jefferson's America.

As to Brett's denial that he doesn't "want the rural areas lording it over the cities, I don't believe it. He's a big fan of the Senate, for example which pretty much is designed to do exactly that.

And there are federal issues - defense, foreign policy, taxation, whatever - that are in fact being decided by a massively misallocated Congress. That's the part of federalism that the federalists, the devolvers with revolvers, ignore, or hand-wave about.

Building codes.

Brett probably means something along these lines:


Some municipalities may want to avoid building ramps for the wheelchair-bound, because they have different values than municipalities which would include ramps in their building codes.

I'm not sure what the different values are precisely; maybe there are places in Mississippi and Wyoming that find it side-splitting to watch the legless crawl up stairs and then try to negotiate the automatic revolving doors that can be randomly and thus comically sped up remotely by the producers of Candid Camera.

Maybe there are local governments who want to permit the construction of office towers out of toothpicks made of asbestos and sliced salami which hasn't been inspected by the FDA.

Maybe there are bank/brokerage houses who tell people about the Chinese Walls they constructed in their businesses and nosy SEC building inspectors shouldn't have a say about whether those should come with egg rolls or not.

"I would favor, however, a Federal statute disallowing random asset forfeiture by corrupt local constabulary during routine traffic stops, which abound."

Per the 4th and 5th amendments, as extended to the states by the 14th, that ought to be a no-brainer.

Per the 10th amendment, state jurisdiction is the default, federal the exception.

1. The clause "or to he people" is, it would appear, deliberately left out of your interpretation.
2. Your interpretation lost when the Founders debated the wording of this Amendment.
3. Your interpretation has repeatedly not been upheld by the US Supreme Court.

"Tentherism", as a commonly uttered belief, is a willful distortion of the meaning and intent of the Constitution of The United States.

So when a municipality wants to ban fracking within its borders, and the state government is all "oh no you can't! we override your preferences!", Brett will side with the municipality?

Because that's a hot issue in TX, PA, NY and probably a few other places.

What say you, Brett?

Really, though, the proper question is not, what issues shouldn't be a matter of federal policy. Per the 10th amendment, state jurisdiction is the default, federal the exception.

That's a very crisp line, which is useful.

I have two basic questions about it.

First, the powers that actually are specifically assigned to the feds are fairly broad, and are fairly broadly stated. Along with the "necessary and proper" business at the end of Article I section 8, it makes it IMO less than crystal clear what specific actions do and don't belong to the feds.

If you look at the Statutes at Large for the first few Congresses, you will see them authorizing, regulating, and legislating stuff that is, at best, tangentially related to the black letter of Article I section 8.

So, for instance, giving away federal land, or building aids to navigation, or establishing a national bank.

Secondly - how do we deal with stuff that is national in scope, but which is outside the specific list of things in Article I section 8?

National Weather service is a reasonable example.

Mark Twain foresaw free-market weather over a century ago:

I reverently believe that the Maker who made us all makes everything in New England but the weather. I don't know who makes that, but I think it must be raw apprentices in the weather-clerk's factory who experiment and learn how, in New England, for board and clothes, and then are promoted to make weather for countries that require a good article, and will take their custom elsewhere if they don't get it.
- "The Weather" speech, 1876
Clearly, weather forecasting ought to be left to the states.


We do not live in Jefferson's America.

Jefferson didn't even live in Jefferson's America.

The Jeffersons didn't even live in Jefferson's America.

Comin' on up was not in the Constitution.

Some sober post election analysis from the wild eyed political left.

Movin on up, to the East Side.
A deluxe apartment in the sky.

I think it is in the Constitution, the original intent of pursuit of happiness.

As well as loadin up the truck and movin to Beverly, Hills that is.

I'm waiting


I'm waiting

For the encore? Do it the old fashioned American Way....marry the boss's daughter.

Best Regards,

the original intent of pursuit of happiness.

A chacun son gout.


swimming pools

movie stars



I reckon I'd be a fool to give all of this up:


In the other hand, Granny, since the Slartibartfast clan and their confounded billy goat moved in, mebbe we ought to pull up stakes and move down the road a fer piece:


You'd think Ellie Mae could whup that goat.

Because that's a hot issue in TX, PA, NY and probably a few other places.

NC now, too.

i'm a little shocked that the Dem party here didn't paper the state with signs reading "like fracking? thank a Republican!"

Now, Jed, you know that Ellie Mae loves her animals, the only thing around here that's getting a whuppin is Jethro.

"i'm a little shocked that the Dem party here didn't paper the state with signs reading "like fracking? thank a Republican!""

They were rightly afraid that would help the Republicans.

actually, no. it's fairly unpopular everywhere in the state, and especially in the districts that are expected to be affected. and the state GOP rammed it down our throats.

They were rightly afraid that would help the Republicans.

I want subsidiarity so that I can take a bazooka to any fracking facility built in my county. Or, in the Quabbin reservoir watershed, for that matter.

Clampett thesea days, circa now:

Ellie, someone done stole the oil clear out from under us. We been fracked by skunks.

That outatown jasper feller wearing the fancy britches who was outchere last Spring said if I didn't sign that piece of paper, why, his, what did he call them, "clients" from Texas, varmints more like, would just get under us anyhow all horizontal-like and siphon that oil away and they is nothin we can do about it.

Granny says the spring water tastes like sommin dropped the dead body of a filthy, rotting pig filth republican in the aquifer.

Tell Jethro to bring the truck 'round front. We're going down to the county seat to fill some peckerwood possums with buckshot. Bring yer bullwhip, and tell Granny to load both barrels.

Wish I had one of them automatic weapons that NRA feller been trying to sell me. Here tell you can shoot off a burst a bullets into the underbrush kill evry skunk in the county.

I guess I shoulda signed that doggone piece a paper.

Mebbe, we'd be livin it up in Beverly Hills where I hear tell there's a banker name a Mista Drysdale who would put our oil proceeds in sumpin called (screws up his face and scratches his head) ... credit default swaps on securitized mortgages.

On t'other hand, mebbe we're better off mucking pig filth out of the sty then doin business with pig filth vermin.

Fracking is here to stay.

Money, don't ya know. All else is nothing.

Unless the price of oil drops somewheres under $50 a barrel.

Then you'll see those patriotic drillers act just like OPEC and limit their production because all them fancy words bout helping the American consumer with low fuel prices will go by the wayside. Cartel-like, I'd say.

I was up in Williston, North Dakota couple of months just to get a gander of what an oil-boom town with more money then they spend looks like. Every single road torn up with construction.

Hope they get it put back together before the drilling cut back and the money dries up.

The oil money is good while you have it, but when the drillers pack up and leave town in a hurry, they don't take the prostitutes with them.

Fracking is here to stay.

Not where I live.

I did not know where to put this comment, so I picked a political post. At perhaps the most important time for the ACA, the Gruber tapes calling the American public stupid appears. Duh, there is nothing new there, we all knew that was the administrations belief. It is interesting to hear someone say it, multiple times.

More important, is the end of this article from the Christian Science Monitor:

Plus, there’s a new Supreme Court case that threatens the ACA structure. The nation’s high court has agreed to consider whether the bill’s wording limits insurance subsidies to states that have established their own health exchanges.

The Obama administration argues that it’s obvious the legislation intended to provide such subsidies to all states, whether it’s the state or federal government that’s running their insurance exchange marketplace. However, one of the ACA’s designers has actually argued the opposite in public, saying at a 2012 conference that “if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.”

Ten points for Gryffindor if you guessed that Jonathan Gruber was the person in question. Given the high stakes in the latest legal challenge to Obamacare, the White House might wish that he spends the next few months avoiding academic conferences and video cameras of all kinds.

Duh, there is nothing new there, we all knew that was the administrations belief.

Gruber was never part of the administration. he was an outside adviser.

he did not write the law. his statements do not affect the law. his comments are utterly irrelevant to anything except the GOP's latest manufactured outrage.

tofc, I often agree with the concept of a manufactured outrage, on both sides. This however, is a manufactured outrage akin to the Romney tape being a manufactured outrage. Gruber was paid 400k by the administration to help write the law that was passed. That makes him a key part of the administration on exactly the topic at hand.


he did not write the law. his statements do not affect the law. his comments are utterly irrelevant to anything except the GOP's latest manufactured outrage.

is all spin. and a prayer.

I don't understand why you have a problem with stupid people having affordable access to healthcare?

"Duh, there is nothing new there, we all knew that was the administrations belief."

Hmmm, kemosabe. You purchased the product despite "all" of you "knowing" such a thing.

I don't believe stupidity should be counted against you as a pre-existing condition for medical insurance purchases.

Conservatives hold it as a central tenet that collective decision-making is by it's very nature conducive to mass stupidity.

Why are American voters, in their collective action, exempt from this, even the ones dumb enough to vote against Obamacare and yet intelligent enough to make use of its services, inadequate as they may be from a cost basis (high deductibles and such) which, by the way, said inadequacies were included into the law as a compromise with stupid people at the Heritage Foundation and in Governor Romney's office when he was in Massachusetts, who believe that if you charge people enough upfront, they will be incentivized to delay seeing about that lump under their arm and that will limit utilization of the healthcare infrastructure (how many times were we told by dumbass conservatives through the years that stupid Americans over-utilize healthcare because their insurance benefits are too generous?) which they "all" "know" is what is driving up costs for the rest of us.

Patient: It hurts right here when I'm being stupid.

Doctor: Then stop doing that.

Tonto, run into that burning building and let me know if there is a manufactured outrage in there, don't worry, you have plenty of health care coverage, just make sure its 10k worth of damage or, of course, it wont pay.

My guess is that the SCOTUS are going to gut the ACA when they rule on Halbig or King or whatever the name of the case is.

IMO Gruber is correct that the law was deliberately crafted to not present the mandate as a tax.

I don't know if there was a cynical reliance on the stupidity of the American people to not figure that out, or not. IMO a simple pragmatic political calculation that if you call it a tax, it fails, is sufficient to explain it.

Gruber may consider the American people at large to be stupid, but that would not be all that unusual for an MIT prof.

My basic opinion about all of this is that the ACA is going to be neutered, one way of the other, because a really huge number of people really, really, really don't want it.

They don't care if it's to their benefit, they don't care if it will help them or people they know, they don't care if it will improve their lives.

They just don't want it. Because big government.

This is where I find myself persuaded by Brett's calls for subsidiarity.

Why should we spend all of this time, and money, and effort, to try to make something useful happen for people *when they don't want it*?

I live in MA, we had the equivalent of O-Care already, it was very useful, we like it.

If you live somewhere else, and you don't want it, screw it. Have it your way.

I'm not saying this because I don't wish folks all over the rest of the country well. I'm saying it because, basically, it just seems like an exercise in leading a horse to water.

To me, anyway.

At some point, if we head down the path to devolving stuff like this to local governments, we'll end up in a place where it no longer makes sense to be one country.

If that's where we end up, so be it. I'm tired of arguing about stuff like this.

This is usually where somebody chimes in to say that the result of all of that is that the quality of life in someplace or other that is not MA is going to be materially worse.

I have no idea what to say about that. I do not have the capacity to change people's minds about things like this. It appears to be something that goes a hell of a lot deeper than my personal pay grade equips me to deal with.

In many ways, I absolutely share Gruber's opinion that the American population is, by and large, dumber than a box of rocks.

Isn't the evidence ample, on that count?

As above, it's beyond my power to make even the tiniest dent in that problem.

BTW, because I purchased the alternative that was made available doesn't preclude me from thinking that the ACA sucks. This whole argument that somehow Republicans/conservatives/whoever are somehow inconsistent because w ebuy healthcare, sign up for Medicare, sign up for SS is stupid and tiresome. For Gods sake, ya'll make me pay for it out of every paycheck, give me the 300k+ I've put in SS over my career and I wont sign up for it, I'll never get that much out of it, so shut up about us using the solutions that have been forced on us.

give me the 300k+ I've put in SS over my career

You're probably not gonna see that, Marty.

You and I are of approximately the same age, which means that we've both been paying into SS at a rate higher than the operating cost of the program for about 30 years.

The reason we did that is to build up a surplus to fund the boomer retirement bulge.

Most of that surplus was lent to the feds to fund current operations. You know, sovereign debt of the US, one of the very first things we ever decided, as a nation, to maintain as an inviolable priority.

The idea being that, when the boomers started to retire and current receipts were no longer enough to fund SS outflow, our fellow citizens would pay us back.

So we wouldn't have to live on cat food and sleep under a bridge somewhere.

Only problem is, now folks don't want to pay it back.

So enjoy yourself today, while you can, because if you manage to live long enough for it to matter whether we all get paid back or not, you're probably gonna be SOL.

Gruber may consider the American people at large to be stupid, but that would not be all that unusual for an MIT prof.

or a Senior Lecturer at the Chicago School of Law

Mmmm, I agree, kemodobe, deductibles are way too high in most of the low premium Obamacare plans, not to mention elsewhere.

It was going to go that way anyhoo, believe me.

You try unsuccessfully to trick me into entering a burning building on your behalf, as usual, but even though my deductibles are relatively low, the cost in burned flesh seems painful to this cautious red man.

Before we welcomed, to our great regret, your people to our land, life was easier. Our elders were more than happy to accept the Medicare of our Great Ancestors in the Sky, which consisted of a platform made of branches set upon a hillside where they might recline to observe the vultures wheeling overhead who would feast upon their tasty bits as an inexpensive darkness fell.

Now, with your ways brought from a land I do not recognize, you keep us alive interminably so that the vultures might pick us clean before we go to frolic in the meadows of our ancestors, my friend.

I am heartened to learn that you believe Obamacare too stingy for we may find agreement there before the eagle flies into the sun.

is all spin. and a prayer.

Gruber is absolutely irrelevant.

that you've fallen for the GOP noise machine's gambit to turn him into the next Ward Churchill is kindof sad, but also irrelevant. your opinion of Gruber has as much bearing on reality as does Gruber's opinion of the ACA.

and, i don't pray.

"I am heartened to learn that you believe Obamacare too stingy for we may find agreement there before the eagle flies into the sun."

I wonder if anyone remembers my views on this at the time.....

It's interesting to speculate on what the impact will be if the Court rules against the government on this case.

All the (mostly blue) states which have set up their own exchanges will see no impact. But all the (mostly red) states which did not will suddenly have a bunch of people who had health insurance this year, but are losing it (or at least losing the subsidy) once the ruling comes down.

Maybe, they will somehow turn this into outrage against the Democrats. But it seems at least as likely that those who lose insurance will be pounding on state capitol doors, demanding to know why their benefits have been taken away.

If the GOP has managed to repeal the ACA successfully, it will be a moot point. But if they have not, they could be looking at a significant amount of voter backlash. Not to mention the backlash from the health insurance and hospital industries. But I suppose that is a small price to pay for ideological purity.

Now I go to seek the buffalo in my sacred lands, or did you ruin that for everyone too, chemosabe?

There are some great Buffalo ranches you can get to by car where you can take pictures.

if they rule against the PPACA, it will confirm beyond question that the "conservative" members of the court are simply unelected Republicans. there's no way they can accept the plaintiffs' argument without contradicting themselves from the last time they looked at the PPACA.

I don't even remember my views on this for they change as the seasons turn.

Come to my wigwam, my friend, and refresh my memory of yours at the time.

My many wives shall swab the Ebola from your brow and not charge you an arm and a leg, because then you would need to hop into town and seek expensive rehabilitative care from among the small print of the white devils.

Yes, my liberal blood brother, Ted Turner, has replenished the herd somewhat, only to be set upon by the Texas Rangers who savage his former wives and place their muddy boots upon the damask of his restaurants while they feast on the antelope haunch cutlets in hypocrisy sauce with a side of gnudi.

It was foretold by a witch doctor in the 1400's who looked into the eyes of the Great Father Columbus and saw little but the flash of gold coins like a slot machine hitting the jackpot.

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