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March 11, 2019


Close, but not perfect.

Republican donors want that. Republican politicians want that (whether from personal belief or self-service -- that is, because their donors want it).

But actual Republicans outside that group? A whole different set of priorities. And that's true of both us old school conservatives and of the reactionary trash which has largely taken over.

I don't disagree as regards old school non professional conservatives. I disagree as regards the reactionaries,

I think the "budget" is a distraction from some ugly news that we're going to hear this week. Also, Trump wants to shut the government down so that the United States ceases functioning again. Ruining the country is his number one priority. Thanks, Vlad!

A very interesting article (long read) on immigration by Frum:

Hard to argue with Warren:

Political speech on social media ought not to be at the discretion of a single company - and that is to a great extent the current situation.

Hard to argue with Warren

FB isn't a monopoly. Google isn't a monopoly. Amazon isn't a monopoly.

without her premise, how does her conclusion fare ?

FB isn't a monopoly. Google isn't a monopoly. Amazon isn't a monopoly.

The definition of monopoly has changed somewhat over time. The Atlantic article links to a Yale Law Journal piece that describes some current thinking.

I'm by no means an expert, but was in law school at the beginning of the Reagan administration, and my antitrust class was taught by an old school lawyer who began his practice experience under New Deal antitrust philosophy. Corporations were beginning to get away with things that had not been allowed in the past. It was interesting what the rationale was, and this conversation will continue to be interesting.

I have mixed feelings about what I'd want the outcome to be. I'm wondering whether breaking up the companies is the best remedy for some of the pernicious things that happen.

FB isn't a monopoly. Google isn't a monopoly. Amazon isn't a monopoly.

Ultra-strictly speaking, you aren't a monopoly unless there is nobody else as an alternative. But more common usage tends to be, you're a monopoly if you have an overwhelming share of the market. What percentage constitutes "overwhelming" being subject to debate. But certainly if your company name has become a verb ("I'm going to google that"), you qualify. You may not qualify forever, see xerox. But for the moment, you qualify.

So yeah, Google and Facebook qualify. Probably Twitter as well. Amazon may not be there yet . . . but "yet" may turn out to be the operative word. Microsoft may miss the cut, but together with Apple there's an oligopoly. (Yes, your phone or tablet may run android. But your laptop? Overwhelmingly one of the big two.)

I have mixed feelings about Google and Amazon, in spite of their tech dominance.

Facebook and Twitter? Nuke them from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

Under US law, being a monopoly (in case law, typically holding more than about 80% of a market) isn't illegal. Once a business is deemed to hold a monopoly, though, certain behaviors are illegal. They can't bundle their monopoly product with other products. There's a whole range of predatory practices they can't employ.

It is possible that Warren et al may be planning to create new definitions and make it illegal to simply get too big. This is dangerous -- and potentially harmful to consumers -- in situations like Facebook, where there's a network effect: the service is more valuable the more people are available through it. I've known any number of people who announce, "I'm leaving FB and will be at <competing social network>." A couple of months later they're back on FB, because too few of their friends/family were willing to give up the FB network benefit.

OTOH, if Warren simply means that her administration will prosecute them, well, the first step is to define the market accurately enough to proceed. Back in the 1990s, only a few people (including myself) thought that the government could convince a court that "desktop computer operating systems" was a market. They did, and Microsoft should have been dead meat (watching from the outside, it certainly appeared that MS's entire defense plan was to convince the court it wasn't a market). And likely would have been eventually split into a monopoly OS company and an entirely separate application company, absent GWB winning the 2000 election and the Justice Dept reversing course in the case. I doubt Warren or anyone else can define "social media" in a limited enough fashion to make FB vulnerable.

"Facebook" isn't a verb.

and, FB and Twitter are competitors. they're places where people hang out and communicate with each other, and each would really love it if the other didn't exist.

Kids use Instagram. Facebook is for old heads.

Youtube, too. Youtube for me is one way to listen to music. My kids use it as social media.

It is possible that Warren et al may be planning to create new definitions and make it illegal to simply get too big.

In general, I think Senator Warren's proposals are conceived as shots across the bow. Stakes in the ground. Great big shoves to the Overton Window.

I'm sure she is aware of the practical and political obstacles to making them law.

As far as tech companies go, my own thought is that they should be liable to the same regulations on anti-competitive practice as any other industry. Whatever those are. Or, you know, are at this point, the ground has shifted over the last 50 years or so.

Who remembers Robinson-Patman? Can you imagine a law against giving preferential pricing to larger buyers? How could such a law and Walmart, or Home Depot, or Staples, exist in the same legal universe? Nonetheless I think it's still on the books, just apparently toothless.

IMO the focus on the efficiencies to be gained by market consolidation at the scale we're talking about here - Google, Facebook, Amazon - are only one side of the coin. It's possible that, for instance, buying whatever it is you buy from Amazon would actually cost somewhat more if there were seventeen Amazons instead of one.

But there would be options available that aren't available on Amazon. And the wealth concentrated in Amazon would be spread across seventeen Amazons.

These are basic social choices. We apparently value cheap stuff fast more than we value other things.

A brief note to apologise for crashing russell’s thread - I was posting early in the morning, and though I was doing so on the old open thread.


Dude! No worries.

All threads are open threads here at Obwi.

"Facebook" IS TOO a verb!

Just like "faceplant", but with a book.


Who remembers Robinson-Patman?

Actually, no need to rely on memory. The Yale Law Journal note (cited in the Atlantic article mentioned earlier) takes one through the history of antitrust law, and recounts the abandonment of pre-1970's antitrust theory by the Chicago law and economics school, which gained prominence prior to and mostly during the Reagan administration. The article is an analysis of Amazon, which has different market power issues than Facebook, Google, or other tech giants, but perhaps some of the issues are similar.

It's a long article, but definitely worth reading, or at least skimming.

Antitrust law is based on economic theory, and has changed with time according to the economic philosophy of judges. For example, Judge Bork's legacy as an antitrust theorist is still with us.

sapient's Yale Law Journal link.

Thank you sapient, I will look at this. And yes, Bork was a notable proponent of the idea that monopolies were OK if they resulted in efficiencies that created a better result (aka cheaper stuff) for consumers.

Always good to something in print reinforcing what I've argued here:

There really are still some sane Republican politicians out there. An endangered species, perhaps, but not extinct.


Since rats and pigs ate the last Dodo bird 400 or so years ago, there are occasional sightings of the goofy-looking fowl from time to time by squinting wishful thinkers.

Alas, the rats and pigs in the republican/conservative sociopathic catastrophe fall upon any endangered sane species for target practice and kill it.

What do (R)'s want:


I'll be wading into that comment thread, against my better judgement, now impaired by Achilles-like rage, to remind the overpaid elitist Koch-financed filth who puked up that article that the death of government he pines for will suit my intentions just fine as there will be nothing protecting him from me.

In other laughable bloviations, Victor David Hanson, the Moe-slapped Larry Fine of what passes for classical scholarship in this ridiculous civilization, extrudes great holding ponds of liquid human waste comparing our ape p to Achilles, with I suppose Stormy Daniels in the role of Helen, the racist Tucker Carlson as Paris, and Ann Coulter now temporarily spurned as p's consigliere Athena, but hovering nearby in anticipation of landing near his tin ear in the near future for further civilization-ending counsel.

I see p as Hector dragged behind my horse up and down the length of Washington D.C. Mall, his eyes gouged out and his pudenda missing.

Con man or Crook? One of the less interesting questions as we approach a savage end.

Mussolini, florist or man-eating flowering bouquet?

If a passenger pigeon, or a gay individual, or a black kid, or an immigrant, or a liberal Jew, or one of Tucker Carlson's cunts, or any old poor person of indeterminate otherness and identity identified as such by conservative republican vermin landed on 5th Avenue, our subhuman, murderous President would have his thug driver swerve, run them over, and then stop and back over them just to make sure.

His cackling hordes would chant that this is the way it is from now on because otherwise Hillary Clinton might be President, and we can't have that.

Those last two paragraphs belong farther up in the text, but arrange however you like.

Achilles? Hector? Nah. Ozymandias.

Alternatively, Admiral Baby.


The guy at TAC has a very odd understanding of history.

The guy at TAC has a very odd understanding of history.

Nah, he's just a libertarian indulging in a very Trumpian bit of "accuse your enemies of doing what you are really the one doing." Libertarianism is far, far likelier to lead to anarchy than conservatism.

"folkways" always seems to carry a lot of water.

Republicans want to force strangers to pay them. Just like Democrats want to force strangers to pay them. Both sides are the same.

Both sides are the same.

Nah, what you get for your money is pretty different.

Meanwhile, I found this fairy remarkable.

House vote 420-0. Unanimous. I can't remember that ever happening before.

Imagine, if you will, two people standing on each side of a line in the sand. They spend hours debating important issues, occasionally reaching across the line to note an agreement. Then on to another subject.

Then, at some random time, one of them becomes angry and raises their voice. The other person is clearly taken aback and takes a step back from the line. The moment passes, and they go on discussing the next issue, only to revisit the sensitive issue later. A few more agreements with a half step, lean forward to shake hands.

Then the issue comes up again and this time both people raise their voice and instinctively take a step backward. Still in talking distance they try, really try, to go back to a measured discussion. But now, there are a few issues they simply can’t get past without a bit of acrimony, finally in an attempt to be understood one of them raises their voice and both step back. Now it is lots of steps to get to the handshake, even if they agree. So fewer deals are completed

Soon they are far enough apart that they can’t talk without talking loudly. The difficulty is in determining how much is just required to be heard and how much is acrimony. But an occasional strident moment creates another step back, and now there are no handshakes. It is just too far to get to the line. Maybe a mutual nod, a potential concurrence but nothing that resembles a deal.

And now, just to be heard by the other side each must yell, loudly, in hopes the other person can even hear what they say. And, discounting the kibitzers and others that all this yelling has attracted, they simply never get to the line, never grasp when the other person is trying to accommodate. It is just too many steps to even trust that a handshake will be there.

So, they turn around and start talking to the people around them that can hear them. Those people tell them that, of course, they are correct and that person yelling over there is the problem.

And we have reached today. No hope, because we can’t talk. Only yell.

both sides are trying to decide where to go for dinner. One side suggests "chinese? or italian?" the other holds out for "tire rims and anthrax".

Yeah, it's because they're shouting.

Marty, I think that story makes sense if applied to ordinary people arguing about politics. More listening, less screaming.

In DC occasionally people do reach across the aisle. On my pet topic of Yemen, a few Republicans have always been against the war. There are some anti interventionists on the conservative side and lefty anti interventionists should work with them. And in fact they have.

On most issues from where most of us here stand Republican politicians act in bad faith. Obama wanted to cooperate in his first term ( going a lot further than lefties wanted) but he got no takers,

Fascist thug.

On most issues from where I stand Democratic politicians act in bad faith. Obama pretended to cooperate in his first term (going a lot further than lefties wanted) but he then pulled out the elections have consequences chestnut while chastising Congress and even the Supremes in his SOTU and other national speeches destroying any hope of cooperation.

But we shouldn't pretend that people were standing at the line when he got elected. The shouting from long distance was well underway.

I'm not sure when it was when we were all standing one foot away from each other, speaking respectfully at a moderate conversational volume.

Maybe it was it when Tip and Ronnie got together for martinis?

A fat lotta good that did.

You begin with a kind of wistful remembrance of some time in the past when all was civility, and follow with "from where I stand Democratic politicians act in bad faith".

So, whatever.

Democratic politicians advocate for stuff you don't like. Republic politicians advocate for stuff I don't like. Sometimes one side dominates, and they win the day for a while. Sometimes neither side can dominate, so nothing gets done.

And, we have reached today.

What makes the situation really FUBAR is that one side is able to bring things to a grinding halt without actually representing a majority of the people who live here. Sadly, those are the political institutions we inherited and are obliged to live with.

What were you hoping he would cooperate on, Marty?

Somebody's yelling pretty loud.

Who voted for that guy? Not me. I'm just obliged to listen.

I'm sure it seems like I'm just giving you a load of crap, but really I'm not. I actually appreciate that you're willing to hang out here on what has become an overwhelmingly liberal blog.

And I actually appreciate what I take to be your interest in lowering the volume of the conversation and returning to a place where things could be sorted out amicably.

But unfortunately I see two obstacles to that:

1. I don't know when that time was. It seems like nostalgia for a past that never really existed. When I was a kid people were getting shot and cities were on fire, so maybe my point of view is skewed. Then I look at the history of civil rights, and labor rights, and all of the stuff that was involved in making any expansion of basic civil liberties happen, and I think that maybe my point of view is kind of accurate.

2. We have a POTUS at the moment who opened his campaign with a laundry list of slanderous claims, who ran on a promise to incarcerate his opponent, whose general MO was to mock and insult anyone opposed to him, and who continues all of that to this day. There will be no - absolutely no - moderate and mutually respectful conversation while he is in office and setting the tone for his party. Because he is incapable of moderate and mutually respectful conversation.

It is simply not going to happen. It's not on offer.

Can't do anything about (1), but (2) is certainly a solvable problem. But not by me, I didn't vote for the guy.

Merrick Garland would like a quiet word:


p's and mcconell's now private military, police, and biker gangs will be slaughtered and butchered in the smoke-filled hallways, elevator shafts, and on the grounds of Mar-a-Lago as they defend tyranny and fascism.

"A line in the sand" is an interesting metaphor.

Imagine if you will a gang that draws a line right in front of itself, and yells to the gang many yards away on the other side: "Hey, youse guys, come over here so we can politely shake hands. What? You want us to come over there and shake hands across your line? Screw you! We have the military, the cops, and the bikers on our side!!"

Americans of Marty's ilk may have to pick a side in a gang war one of these days, however piously they proclaim they only favor He, Trump's "(Republican) policies" and not the gang boss Himself, or however devoted they may be to the notion of an objectively fair "line in the sand".


destroying any hope of cooperation.


"One of my proudest moments was when I told Obama, 'You will not fill this Supreme Court vacancy,'"
-Mitch McConnell.

“We're going to do everything — and I mean everything we can do — to kill it, stop it, slow it down, whatever we can.”
-John Boehner

"The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president"
-Mitch McConnell.

for fuck's sake, don't you even pay a lick of attention to what your fucking party leaders are up to?

ok... lowering the volume, yadayadayada. but seriously. the fact that the congressional GOP publicaly declared, before Obama took office, that it was dead-set against any cooperation with him blows a giant hole in the idea that Obama is to blame for the lack of cooperation.

they said those things.


Obama didn't make them say it. for two of them, he wasn't even in office yet.

we were all there. we heard it. we know what happened.

for fuck's sake, don't you even pay a lick of attention to what your fucking party leaders are up to?

Ummm, yes. Is Marty being disingenuous? Yes.

Right. I'm supposed to pretend that Marty is a good-faith actor who disagrees on some policies.

we were all there. we heard it. we know what happened.

Just like we also know that, however nasty partisanship had gotten (thanks, Newt!), the critical driver was Obama's permanent suntan. Sad, but not really arguable by anyone with two brain cells to rub together.

You can argue about whether that was truly the belief of the individual Republicans in Congress, or just pandering to their constituents -- I'd guess some of both, depending on the individual. But it made the difference.

Yes wj, because they would have liked Hilary or anyone else any better. You add this to every thread about Obama, or Republiczns for that matter. Its bullshit as a generalization.

As far as McConnell making Obama a one term President, people completely ignore the campaign, and the two years before that, of Dems beating the crap out of McCain. Fior better or worse, they were yelling to lock up Bush, just not as loud.

Now you get your but but torture. FFS yall act like Dems never yelled ever.. and I get to say but 9/11 and......

The stock markets up 40% just go find the starting point where that's true.

The stock markets up 40% just go find the starting point where that's true.

Not sure what language you are attempting.

Obama's economy has steamed forward, but seems to be failing lately, despite the economic stimulus of the giant deficit 50% increasing tax cut. Trade deficit looks kind of sickly as well. Sad, Marty. Not sure who's feeding you what puree you eat, but it's making you sick.

Yes wj, because they would have liked Hilary or anyone else any better.

Yes, Marty, they absolutely would have. They might not have liked them much; partisanship is pretty toxic these days. But they would have like anyone else better, and been far more willing to work with them occasionally. Even Hilary (or any other woman). I can't even see that there's any room for doubt.

At least it was not GOP office holders that publicly discussed whether Obama or Hillary are the Antichrist and came to the conclusion that neither could be because even He Satan would not go so low as showing up as a n-word or c-word. Just parts of their base.

The stock markets up 40%

That's great if you have stock.

FWIW, Trump inherited a Dow of about 20,000, now it's bumping around between 25 and 26.

So I'm not seeing 40%.

If you want to measure success by how the Dow did, Obama wins. The bar was lower for him, of course, due to what he started with. Which he, of course, inherited from the last (R) financial genius.

It's nice that the market is doing well. About half of Americans don't own equities. Of those that do, most do so via something like a 401k, which below the top 10% or so generally don't amount to much. Median across all ages is about $25k.

A strong Dow is great news if you already got money.

The stock markets up 40%

Anything sensible a president can do has little short-term effect on the economy. It's easier to move the stock market, for example by tax changes which make shares more or less valuable.

Stupid things, starting pointless trade wars for example, can have a fairly rapid effect.

The financial crisis was an exception. Bush's negligence was disastrous. Obama did a fair job, and would have done better with a more co-operative congress.

It's understandable but unfortunate that the electorate gives politicians the wrong incentives in their management of the economy. The best things a president can do for the economy - improving educational standards, improving labour mobility - will have long-term effects which their successors take the credit for.

The best things a president can do for the economy

Not to dispute your point - which I do not - but your comment makes assumptions about what makes an economy good and healthy. I most likely share your assumptions, but not everyone does.

Over the last 40 or so years our theoretical, social, legal, and institutional understanding of the purpose of productive enterprise has changed. We now consider the highest goal to be maximizing return to investors. We did not always embrace that as the primary purpose, now we do.

If that's your main goal, "the stock markets up 40%" equals success. The rest - education, mobility - is peripheral.

The point of the 40% was that you can make lots of claims if you get to decide where the starting point is, it was an unclear analogy to pretending all political yelling started the day Obsma got elected.

And, wj, it isnt true simply because you assert it, ad nauseam. And I can assure you I have more than two brain cells.

pretending all political yelling started the day Obsma got elected.

Yelling goes way way back.

But, lots of yelling when Obama got elected.

I'm sure the yelling will continue. We don't want the same things, so there are arguments.

Not saying it wouldn't be nice if folks could be pleasant about everything, but also not avoiding the real differences. They can be consequential, so strong feelings ensue.

"In general, the most politically intolerant Americans, according to the analysis, tend to be whiter, more highly educated, older, more urban, and more partisan themselves. This finding aligns in some ways with previous research by the University of Pennsylvania professor Diana Mutz, who has found that white, highly educated people are relatively isolated from political diversity. They don’t routinely talk with people who disagree with them; this isolation makes it easier for them to caricature their ideological opponents. (In fact, people who went to graduate school have the least amount of political disagreement in their lives, as Mutz describes in her book Hearing the Other Side.) By contrast, many nonwhite Americans routinely encounter political disagreement. They have more diverse social networks, politically speaking, and therefore tend to have more complicated views of the other side, whatever side that may be."
The Geography of Partisan Prejudice: A guide to the most—and least—politically open-minded counties in America

House vote 420-0. Unanimous. I can't remember that ever happening before.

It's surprising only because the topic was potentially contentious. The House routinely passes non-controversial stuff by unanimous vote. Eg, last year the Music Modernization Act that provides increased royalty payments for digital reproductions passed 415-0. It's common enough that there's a special mechanism set up for it -- the unanimous consent calendar. (Spending three years on a legislative staff was enormously educational.)

Perhaps not even surprising. Every single member of the House wants to read the report, or at least have their staff read it.

whiter, more highly educated, older, more urban

you are talking about, basically, my personal cohort. I do not dispute the findings of the report.

The only exception I might take to it is the divide between upper middle class white urban-ish folks who are reflexively liberal, and upper middle class white urban-ish folks are are mostly reflexively liberal except when they think about their investment portfolio.

The reflexive liberality tends to diminish as you ascend the wealth and income scale.

There's a similar phenomenon, but with a different political valence, among upper middle class white non-urban folks.

People are often creatures of their milieu.

The House routinely passes non-controversial stuff by unanimous vote.

Cool! I didn't know all of that. Thank you Michael.

Being politically intolerant covers a lot of territory, some of which is more dangerous than the rest. Some people dismiss others' ideas without giving it much thought. Other people do stuff like this (of which everyone has probably already heard):


Here's what one open-minded non-shouter who talks soberly across the line in the sand had to say:

Fox analyst and former Trump middle east advisor Whalid Phares calls what the gunman in New Zealand did “very understandable … on a political level, obviously it’s horrific and it should be condemned completely on the action level.” In other words, reasonable goals but he went about it the wrong way.
Now there's a shining example of how to respect Both Sides and avoid being "caricatured" by isolated, in-bred coastal elite libruls.


Understandable, understandable
Yes it's perfectly understandable
Comprehensible, Comprehensible
Not a bit reprehensible
It's so defensible

We're way beyond mutual yelling:


Only worldwide Civil War to wipe the entire so called conservative edifice off the face of the Earth will suffice.

I read today in the Wall Street that world leaders are now completely bypassing the entire U.S. diplomatic apparatus and talking only to p. His own staff are clueless as to what he is promising, on his fucking personal phone, or not promising, nor are they clear whether even he can remember what passes for conversation among he and his despotic vermin buddies.

There will be no record of what has gone down. There will be no transition from this dogshit of an administration, a single beclowned piece of shit, to the next administration, just as Obama's, who just a fucking nigger to the Republican Party cuck base and to p, detailed transition was totally ignored and slapped down by republican filth.

Leaders of Israel, Russia, Turkey, the Philippines, North Korea, the fascist right wing vermin who are taking power in European countries will present to the next President, should there ever be another honest election in conservative fucking America, bills of lading to our future leaders demanding we uphold the shit this rube has "negotiated".

No written record, no notes, all computers wiped clean, only whatever p pulled out of his despotic ass on behalf of Marty's fellow League of Sentimental Confederate Nostalgia Victims.

In a few years, the same ilk will be waxing nostalgiic over the innocent world of mutual yelling compared to the violent horror that is coming, I expect, from p's private military, his police forces, and his faggot biker gangs.

Remember when we used to just yell at each other?

Dem was the days.

This world of yelling Marty

That last is multiple choice finish this phrase kind of test.

And, wj, it isnt true simply because you assert it, ad nauseam. And I can assure you I have more than two brain cells.

Care to share any evidence for your position? I note that Clinton was a scumbag as a human being, but they worked with him even while impeaching him.

And Obamacare was originally dreamed up by conservatives, and had been demonstrated by a Republican governor. But they acted like Obama was creating a piece of socialism, while he was holding off those in his party who wanted single payer.

I will note Boehner made more than one attempt at a deal, scuttled by the extremes on both sides. The whole Republican thing about Massachusetts health care is daft. There is nothing Republican about Mass, even the Republican governors. Mass had less than 5 % unemployment and one of the highest average wages. That meant lots of people to spread the cost over that wouldnt miss the money. And it was still a nightmare for those who used it.

As examples go it was pretty limited.

And what btw does either of those examples have to do with Obama's color except your mind reading 40 or 50 million people.

In addition, important point, less than 5% of the people were uninsured.

And it was still a nightmare for those who used it.

I used it - MA health care - and it was no nightmare.

In addition, important point, less than 5% of the people were uninsured.

Ummm, y'all can't tell the truth for the life of ya.

I was referring to Marty, of course. Or maybe he was just talking about Massachusetts prior to its health care law? Here's that stat. Marty, please do better.

From this side of the Atlantic, it seemed that the USA in 2008 elected a moderate conservative president, vastly more competent than his predecessor. This president decided in the interests of unity not to pursue charges against the outgoing executive for its cruel, illegal, shameful and damaging torture policy.

And the Republican party went defcon 1. It was hard to see any explanation beyond outrage that an African-American should become president and be so obviously good at the job.

"less than 5% of the people were uninsured"

Well, you did note that there is nothing republican about Mass.

For conservative milestones, you could try Florida and Texas, 13.3% and 17.1% uninsured rates respectively, but not respectfully noted. Oklahoma be some sick shit too.

In other news, my Presidency will enact efficiency measures, for example, I will consolidate meetings with shady massage parlor magnates with my meetings with conservative religious conservatives for prayer sessions and bible signings.

They can share their human trafficking entrepreneurial pursuits as well, as conservative religious leaders spirit away immigrant kids kidnapped from their parents for their perverse delectation and as training for forced massage parlor labor.

We'll serve those Arby's shaved meat deals with the gloppy yellow cheese substance. None of that elitist McDonalds and Burger King extravagance.

I know my people's tastes.

Not so much outreach as a White House reach around.

Two happy endings for the price of one as hands busy working over time are layed on the body politic.

My staff won't know whether they are coming or going.

Marty: The whole Republican thing about Massachusetts health care is daft. There is nothing Republican about Mass, even the Republican governors.

Fair enough. But the ACA remains an approach which was designed by conservatives. And which had been thru a trial at the state level.

Pro Bono: From this side of the Atlantic, it seemed that the USA in 2008 elected a moderate conservative president, vastly more competent than his predecessor.

This is quite true, except for one thing. "Conservative", in current American usage, has nothing much to do with actual conservatism. Perhaps this false flag effort will result in a change to the language. In which case, we will be in need of a new term which means something which is neither liberal nor reactionary.

Pro Bono: It was hard to see any explanation beyond outrage that an African-American should become president ...

Now, now, Pro Bono. The Martys of the world stand ever ready to explain that there was an "explanation beyond outrage that an African-American should become president", namely outrage that he was a Democrat. By definition, Democrats are un-American socialist fascists. Jesus only approves of Republicans in the White House, as far as good Christian white folks (who are the Real Murkins) are concerned.

The US is not doomed because it has tolerated He, Trump. It is doomed because it's full to overflowing with Martys. And because we libruls are so closed-minded that we refuse to acknowledge that Martys are not educable.


No its doomed because it is overflowing with closed minded self righteous Tony's that have convinced themselves that they somehow can read minds.And that any dissent is punishable by mockery and bullying, Trumpism at its worst. Yall couldnt be more alike.

The 5% was s little low, from memory, but my sourtaste was this from wikipedia:

The 2006 Massachusetts law successfully covered approximately two-thirds of the state's then-uninsured residents, half via federal-government-paid-for Medicaid expansion (administered by MassHealth) and half via the Connector's free and subsidized network-tiered health care insurance for those not eligible for expanded Medicaid. Relatively few Massachusetts residents used the Connector to buy full-priced insurance.

After implementation of the law, 98% of Massachusetts residents had health coverage. Despite the hopes of legislators, the program did not decrease total spending on healthcare or utilization of emergency medical services for primary care issues.

So they covered 2/3 of the uninsured to achieve 98%. I didnt labor over the nath but came up with 6%.

it seemed that the USA in 2008 elected a moderate conservative president, vastly more competent than his predecessor

Obama was the Eisenhower of his generation.

It was a pretty good ride, all things considered.

And it was still a nightmare for those who used it.


The man just can't shut his damned trap.

Yes, statistically speaking, white supremacists are a small percent of the population. Unfortunately, they're a small percentage of the population that wants to kill everyone else.


I don't read your mind, I read your comments. And your comments are almost always in defense of He, Trump. At the very most, they are critical of He, Trump only as long as they are equally critical of Democrats too.

I admit that sometimes I don't get your "jokes" like the knee-slapper about Obama having "killed a Supreme". And sometimes I can't quite parse your grammar, as in "The stock markets up 40% just go find the starting point where that's true". (You might notice that I did NOT jump on you for that one, because without reading your mind I could not understand your string of words.)

Back during the 2016 Republican primaries, when we were discussing your preferences among the GOP candidates, you wrote (but it may have been another of your little jokes) that you could not imagine voting for any Democrat in the general election. IIRC, you wrote that before He, Trump became the clear GOP nominee. Maybe your answer would have been different afterwards, but I can't read your mind well enough to know whether it's as closed as those words of yours made it appear.


I voted for Johnson, made it clear at the time. I do occasionally defend something Trump did I never defend him as a human being or even a President.

I dont want him to be my President, but he will sign things a Democrst wouldnt.
As far as my grammar, i do apologize. I write mostly on my phone which is difficult so I do not really reread and edit much.

I've noticed that the current defense of the Republican party is "You are being haters for criticizing us." Or words to that effect.

True white supremists probably are not real common. However our problem as a nation isn't really them. Its the conservative supremists. We have a political party that, through their politicians, their donors and their propaganda network deliberately cynically and dishonestly seeks to label themselves as the only real Americans with real American values and seeks to label everyone else as a threat to the real Americans. WHite nationalists are a subset of that. But everyone who is not a conservative is a target of the demeaning, marginalizing hate messages.

Democrats support infanticide.
Democrats hate Jews.
The real pockets of America in all white rural areas
Turning Point's Candace Owens praising Hitler's nationalization policies within Germany Turning Point's role in the rightwing ecosystem is to harass university professors for not toeing their rightwing party line. They also provoke violence so they can claim victimhood
Limbaugh Tucker and others complaining that America will not be recognizable if immigrants join us
Illegals are voting!
Trans people are using bathrooms!
Illegals are using welfare!
We are being invaded!
They are trying to take your guns away!
Black lives matter are the real racists
Coastal elites!
And on and on and on.

Relentless attacks on everyone in America. Attacks based on an entirely unearned self-aggrandizing claim to be the real holders of real American values.

According to the ADL league, politically motivated violence in America is almost entirely rightwing.

There is a direct line from those politicians, spokespersons and media personalities who spout the conservative supremist hate, the people who listen and believe, and the people who act.

It isn't Trump. Its the Republicans. The whole fucking party.

And if the targets of their abuse tell them what shits they are--oh! The pity party! People are being mean to the poor widdle conservatives who are only trying to be real true Americans! How dare other people say mean things about them!

It is very disheartening to realize that neighbors who are in many aspects of their lives fine warm kind decent people, are when it comes to their political lives partners with the New Zealand killer.


I don't doubt that you voted for Johnson. Now here's an honest, straight-up question:

If the 2020 presidential election comes down to
o He, Trump (R-NY)
o Joe Biden (D-DE)
o Gary Johnson (I-NM)
would you express your distaste for He, Trump by voting for Biden in the hope of actually defeating Him, or for Johnson again in order to make like Pilate and wash your hands of re-electing Him?

How about if the (R) nominee were Steve King (R-IA)?

How about if the (R) nominee were John Kasich (R-OH)?

Please don't make like a SCOTUS nominee and say you can't answer hypotheticals. Straight-up refusing to answer would be infinitely less mockable.


I realize Tony's question wasn't addressed to me, but I'd like to offer an answer (for myself, not for Marty).

On your first option, Biden in a heartbeat. Exactly to, as you say, defeat Trump.

If King has replaced Trump, same answer. I'd say King is less disgusting than Trump, but that's a really, really low bar. I don't think he would be as insistent on total ignorance in making decisions. But still, not a President I'd want.

As for Kasich vs Biden, I would want to think on that a bit. But likely I would just be over the moon at Trump had been replaced by someone sane and competent. I know that Kasich isn't to the taste of most here. But, if you're honest, you'd all leap at the chance to upgrade from Trump to him. To the point that some of you might even (temporarily!) re-register as Republicans to vote for him, just for the chance to get rid of Trump in the primaries.

So, wj,

What I read you to say is that we Dems could secure your vote for Biden by voting in the GOP primaries for ... He, Trump :)

And we might lose your vote if we help rescue the GOP from He, Trump's clutches.

Such a deal!

In all seriousness: I do take your point that yours is not the only vote Dems need, and since the overall American electorate has a long habit of re-electing incumbent presidents we might be wise to help you oust Him in "your" primaries, even at the risk of foisting a Kasich on the country.


I would not vote for Biden, King or Trump. Ever. Nor any of the other Dem candidates.

The Democratic policies will destroy our country, the Republicans won't change it much for the better. Tough choice. Cultural change is going to happen regardless of who is elected, so it rarely sways my vote.

Maybe Kasich. Not a huge fan anymore.

The Democratic policies will destroy our country


They may change it, just like the (R) policies of the last 40 years have done.

The question is: what do we want our country to be?

The problem is your answer and mine are quite different.

Whether we yell about it or not, that problem remains.

The problem I face at this particular moment is that the folks with whom I am obliged to have a 'civil conversation' are folks who decided the solution to all of their problems was electing Trump as POTUS. Folks for whom the fact of his belligerent rudeness is a feature, not a bug, and for whom his manifest and obvious corruption either doesn't register, or is of no concern. Folks for whom the basic truthfulness or falsity of information is irrelevant.

I fundamentally don't have the time to engage with all of that. I avoid it, because it's a bottomless pit of willful ignorance and bile. I'm sure many of these people are the salt of the earth and love their families and are kind to their pets, but they also appear to identify deeply and profoundly with their own personal sense of grievance, victimhood, and entitlement.

So I have no idea how to get into it with them, and to be honest not a lot of interest in doing so. There are just too many layers of hostility and resentment to plow through in order to get to whatever it is that they actually want, in a positive sense.

Mostly they seem to want to blame every fncking thing in the world on somebody else.

A civil conversation *is not on offer*. So I've stopped assuming that one is, and stopped looking for one. I've no desire to be uncivil, so I simply avoid the conversation. Other than hanging out here, I really do not spend much time talking politics or anything politics-ish with anybody, left right or center.

So that's my take on civil conversations. I've been pegging away at it for almost 20 years now, amazingly enough, in venues like ObWi, and I doubt that either I or my counterparties have budged as much as one inch from whatever point of view we held going into it. For me personally, if anything I've become more confirmed in my view of the world, and more surprised and amazed in a not-good way at the stuff that people who I share a nation with think, believe, and embrace.

There's a whole world of weird out there.

What looks like common sense to me, looks like "destroying the nation" to you. We're not going to agree about this stuff, because we don't want the same things. We do not think the same things are good. We don't agree on what this country is about and should be about.

The plain fact is that we really are not one nation, in any sense other than the legal and political ones. Our histories are different, our values are different. I think we continue as one nation mostly because our constitution offers no path to changing that and we don't actually want to kill each other over this stuff.

so instead we limp along, like some kind of Frankenstein monster made up of all kinds of social and historical spare parts.

It'd be great if it were otherwise, but I honestly don't think it is otherwise. what I take away from years and years and years of daily conversations with people who think like me, and people who don't, is that *we don't want the same things*.

so there is probably going to be some yelling.

"The Democratic policies will destroy our country."

I'm sorry, I can't quite hear you. Could you yell that one?

"I would not vote for Biden, King or Trump."


Me neither, unless it's Biden, or that green-looking fuzzy thing at the back of my fridge, against p.

But still, let's savor this moment of bipartisan civility.

If it's Johnson again, I'll be moving to Aleppo because then he won't be able to find me or his ass with the one hand he has free from holding a big bogarted blunt.

Though after p's Soviet demolishing of the diplomatic corps, which will serve us so very well next time the missiles fly, none of the golf caddies, cabana boys and FOX blonds remaining at the State Department will be able to help that Johnson find Aleppo or his ass.

I'm a DONALD Johnson sort of guy.

I'm also with sapient.

Mostly I'm what Russell said, with an attitude.

Kinda right in the middle of the circular firing squad blindfolded and cracking wise (Go ahead, shoot me) is where I sit.

Carry on.

what if.... the economy really isn't booming?


what if it's just fine, but not the best ever?

Annual GDP growth rates since 1930.


"Democratic policies will destroy our country" is standard Republican hate speech.

It is hate speech because there isn't any way to back it up, not even an illogical argument. Nothing the Dems are proposing would change American enough to use a word like "destroy". So it is just the nyaa hyaa nyaa name-calling that is the mainstay of Republican discourse.

The purpose of hate speech is to raise the emotional temperature. Republicans use hate speech because they want a base of voters who think that America will be destroyed if they don't vote Republican--voters brainwashed to that perspective will vote for almost any Republican no matter how awful an individual candidate might be is and they will vote Republican even though the party does not address real problems with practical solutions and will turn out to vote reliably. Atwood, Rove and others were quite open and cynical about the need to raise the temperature and promote partisanship.

But a side affect of the OH MY GOD DEMOCRATS ARE DESTROYING AMERICA hate speech is that someone out there will decide that it is not just rhetoric.

And you get pipe bombs sent to Democratic politicians. YOu get a guy planning to kill a hit list of Democrats.

Because Democrats are so evil. It must be true because Faux says so, Republican politicians says so, the whole rightwing propaganda network has been chanting variations on that slogan for decades.

OF course none of the people who believe it can say HOW or WHAT the democrats are going to do that constitutes destroying America in terms of actual policies.

Instead, the destroying America meme has two major components:

Fear that people who "don't look American" might actually get to live here. And shop. And work. And live normal lives. That's the "We are being invaded, America won't look like America!" mentality.

But mostly people who believe rightwing hate propaganda do it because they like feeling superior to everyone else. It's not a racial thing necessarily. But it is an ego thing. Labeling other people as bad makes them feel good. They like feeling membership in the team that is superior morally and patriotically and religiously etc. The real true Americans with rea true American values.

That means the rest of us are going to destroy America just by not being on their team. That's all the rest of us have to do: just exist. Vote. shop. Go to school. Participate. Exist.

So logically the way to prevent us from destroying America is to get rid of us.

Voter suppression. Gerrymandering. Courtpacking. Media consolidation under rightwing ownership.
End net neutrality. Use money to suppress research and promote pseudo science. Flood the elections with billionaire cash and corporate cash. Bully universities. In other words, dismantle the essential elements of representative government so that those evil other people can't be heard.

Democratic policies are not going to destroy America but there is the strong possibility that people who use rightwing hate speech will transform us in specific ways that have the effect of making us less small d democratic and more of a theocratic kleptocracy.

And kill some of us along the way.

But of course if I point this out, that makes me a hater too, right? That's the usual comeback from people who participate in hatemongering. Because there's nothing the haters hate more than someone who stands up to them.

Marty :

I can no longer hear the words of Republicans, even you. Their actions (and votes) speak so loudly that their words no longer matter.

Be well.

Democratic policies will destroy our country

I wonder if it might be useful to look at some specific policies that the Democrats propose. Lay out how they would change the country for the worse. (Why it is worse might be useful as well.) And which of them rise to the level of "destroy". I'd even bet the some of them (albeit, perhaps merely those reversing aspects of Trump that you abhor) are even things you could support.

Personally, I consider some of the things that the various Democrats propose to be sub-optimal, and others definite improvements -- some long overdue improvements. But overall a long way from "destroy". Trump's actions (not to mention rhetoric), on numerous fronts, on the other hand....

"Democratic policies will destroy our country" is standard Republican hate speech.

I'm not sure I agree with this. It depends, I think, on the speakers intent and state of mind.

A lot of people sincerely think that (D) policies will destroy the country. Not reduce it to rubble and ashes, but change it into something other than what they believe the country should be. Saying so might be hyperbole, but not really hate speech.

I can tell you that, by the definition above, I think a lot of (R) policies will "destroy the nation". And it's not really hate speech for me to say so.

There are folks who make statements like that simply to stoke other people's anger and fear, for various instrumental purposes of their own. I'd call that hate speech, because it is intended to inflame animosity and division. It's intended to make one set of people angry with another specific set of people.

I don't see Marty in the latter category. I think he just wants different stuff from, for example, me.

I bring all of this up because it can be useful to not look for ill will where it does not actually exist. God knows there's enough around anyway.

wj: Personally, I consider some of the things that the various Democrats propose to be sub-optimal, and others definite improvements -- some long overdue improvements.

In a non-partisan spirit, I am trying to think of any Republican proposals, this millennium, which I could call "definite improvements".

Recognizing that people like Marty (who resolutely refuse to vote for any Democrat for POTUS) would call people like me (who refuse to vote for any Republican for POTUS) "closed-minded", and wanting to avoid being thought "closed-minded" by sane people, I ask in all sincerity: please help me identify any "definite improvements" the GOP has proposed in the last 20 years.


in the past few years, Republicans in NC have raised teacher pay from 47th in the nation to 29th. it took years of pressure, including a teachers' strike to get them to do it, but they did it.

so, i'll give them that.

of course, the Dems would have done it years ago, and with little fuss. but, the NC Dems have the misfortune of not being in a position to choose their own voters and so they have a hard time getting legislation passed.

Yelling is how we divide up the stuff. We have always yelled about this. So what’s the big deal?

A lot of people sincerely think that (D) policies will destroy the country. Not reduce it to rubble and ashes, but change it into something other than what they believe the country should be. Saying so might be hyperbole, but not really hate speech.

I understand that forcefully expressed opinions are not necessarily hate speech. But what change is it that is seem by so many Republicans as destroying America?

1. demographic change: more Spanish speakers
2. Participation in public life of people who are not real true Americans like they are.


It's not an exaggerated way of expression opposition to using droves and personnel rather than a wall. It is not an inflated way of expressing doubts about green technology, support of unions, the ACA, Warren's tax the rich plan, or the need for fundining for infrastructure.

Its; not an exaggerated way of opposing Wall Street regulation or draining of the lobbyist swamp.

Issue by issue when it comes to policy Republican voters aren't that different from Democratic voters.

The reason for the polarization isn't issues. Its the Republican insistence in demeaning our political discourse with namecalling initended to dived and cause partisan arguments.

So yeah the recurrent theme of DEMOCRATS ARE DESTROYING AMERICA is hate speech because it is a dog whislt to items one and two above and because it is intentionally rude and devisive.

In a non-partisan spirit, I am trying to think of any Republican proposals, this millennium, which I could call "definite improvements".

Medicare Part D? There's lots of room to argue about details, but there was a huge policy hole because contemporary medical care had moved past docs-plus-hospitals.

In my state, they have asked the conservative questions that the Dems occasionally brushed off, like "Given our peculiar tax situation, how are you going to pay for this when the next recession hits?" As recently as 15 years ago the state was overwhelmingly red (in terms of who won the elections). There's been a dramatic blue shift, largely because the Republicans managed to piss off the suburbs.


This is a DEOMCRATS ARE DESTROYING AMERICA petition that pretends to be about an issue. .But it isn't since it contains the false statements that the Green New Deal would ban livestock and air travel. So it is dishonest, deliverately divisive and designed to scare with lies--and that is hate mongering,

Medicare Part D?

Except they forgot to fund it.

It's kind of a (R) habit. They are the party of the free lunch.

First Step Act

No Child Left Behind

Props on the First Step Act. Notably, the opponents were also (R), but I am happy to recognize that as a (R) initiative.

We'll differ on the goodness of No Child Left Behind. To me, it's the "beatings will continue until morale improves" approach of education reform. But that was kind of a bi-partisan thing, so I'm not gonna lay that at the feet of the (R)'s, at least not exclusively.

As an aside, it always strikes me as odd that stuff like No Child, with its coercive and punitive approach to "making schools better", is somehow not seen as an example of the nanny state.

It's the nasty nanny state - nanny with a rule in her hand, telling you to bend over and take your punishment because it's for your own good - but nanny state nonetheless.

See also, work requirements for things like money for food. Be virtuous or starve!! How that is not nanny-statism is beyond me.

Different people think different things are good.

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