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Andreas Schou

Andreas Schou 

Occupation: Snake Parliament

Location: Mountain View, California

Followers: 8,747

Following: 229

Views: 40,071,666

Cream of the Crop: 12/07/2012

Added to CircleCount.com: 12/24/2011That's the date, where Andreas Schou has been indexed by CircleCount.com.
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33
comments per post
6
reshares per post
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+1's per post

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Top posts in the last 50 posts

Most comments: 102

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2016-07-29 20:45:49 (102 comments; 16 reshares; 119 +1s; )Open 

"When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak... as being spit on by the rest of the world."

-- Donald Trump, on Tienanmen Square

Most reshares: 29

2016-08-04 01:38:12 (15 comments; 29 reshares; 75 +1s; )Open 

This is a baller move.

Missouri, being Dixie's furthest northern outpost, has historically underfunded its indigent defense system. (Because indigent defense might, horror of horrors, actually help a black person.) This has been pointed out in a series of media reports and adverse federal court decisions, but nothing's been done.

Fortunately, state law gives the public defender's office the right to deputize any active attorney to handle cases that can't be picked up by staff attorneys. The governor is an active attorney. So the public defender's office is deputizing him to serve as counsel in an indigent defense case, and will continue to do so until they're told not to.

Most plusones: 119

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2016-07-29 20:45:49 (102 comments; 16 reshares; 119 +1s; )Open 

"When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak... as being spit on by the rest of the world."

-- Donald Trump, on Tienanmen Square

Latest 50 posts

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2016-09-28 05:24:29 (4 comments; 11 reshares; 48 +1s; )Open 

The guards at an Alabama prison have gone on strike in solidarity with the striking prisoners at the same facility.

I have no words.

The guards at an Alabama prison have gone on strike in solidarity with the striking prisoners at the same facility.

I have no words.___

2016-09-27 21:23:03 (54 comments; 9 reshares; 76 +1s; )Open 

I used to think that fact checks of Trump's lying would have some effect. People care, in general, about whether their candidate is honest.

It didn't strike me how Big Lie tactics actually worked, though: it's not that the lies are believed to be true. It's that they're believed to be directed at someone else, such that everyone believes that they are in on the con, and someone else (but certainly not them) is the marks. But as it happens, everyone is the mark, not any individual person.

Once you've crossed the event horizon into knowing and obvious mendacity, and you've done so without losing your core supporters, you can continue to lie with impunity; those smart enough to understand that you're lying believe that you're lying to someone else, and those dumb enough to take your lies at face value support you anyway. 

I used to think that fact checks of Trump's lying would have some effect. People care, in general, about whether their candidate is honest.

It didn't strike me how Big Lie tactics actually worked, though: it's not that the lies are believed to be true. It's that they're believed to be directed at someone else, such that everyone believes that they are in on the con, and someone else (but certainly not them) is the marks. But as it happens, everyone is the mark, not any individual person.

Once you've crossed the event horizon into knowing and obvious mendacity, and you've done so without losing your core supporters, you can continue to lie with impunity; those smart enough to understand that you're lying believe that you're lying to someone else, and those dumb enough to take your lies at face value support you anyway. ___

2016-09-25 16:55:39 (12 comments; 4 reshares; 63 +1s; )Open 

in the timeline we all live in, a virtual reality billionaire is paying neo-Nazis to threaten Jewish reporters with cartoon frogs

in the timeline we all live in, a virtual reality billionaire is paying neo-Nazis to threaten Jewish reporters with cartoon frogs___

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2016-09-25 06:57:54 (12 comments; 1 reshares; 34 +1s; )Open 

Sara: If you could be a fly on the wall for any event in history, what would it be?

Andy: Declaration of Independence.

Andy: Wait. No. The pitch meeting where the directors explained to Lil Jon what they wanted to have happen in the video for Turn Down For What.

Sara: If you could be a fly on the wall for any event in history, what would it be?

Andy: Declaration of Independence.

Andy: Wait. No. The pitch meeting where the directors explained to Lil Jon what they wanted to have happen in the video for Turn Down For What.___

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2016-09-23 21:39:40 (52 comments; 5 reshares; 39 +1s; )Open 

"Trump is going to win," says political scientist who uses thirteen variables to model nine data points.

Overfit.

It's a thing.


"Trump is going to win," says political scientist who uses thirteen variables to model nine data points.

Overfit.

It's a thing.
___

2016-09-23 20:56:49 (94 comments; 14 reshares; 76 +1s; )Open 

This is genuinely alarming. To be very clear about the timeline: Donald Trump's chief foreign policy advisor was in Moscow, meeting with a former security service official from Fancy Bear, two weeks before Fancy Bear released emails stolen from the DNC.

This is genuinely alarming. To be very clear about the timeline: Donald Trump's chief foreign policy advisor was in Moscow, meeting with a former security service official from Fancy Bear, two weeks before Fancy Bear released emails stolen from the DNC.___

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2016-09-23 06:32:13 (12 comments; 5 reshares; 45 +1s; )Open 

The Trump campaign is about ethics in gaming journalism.

Welp.___The Trump campaign is about ethics in gaming journalism.

2016-09-21 19:52:40 (19 comments; 1 reshares; 26 +1s; )Open 

Quantitative Conspiracy Theorizing

So, I've had to pull this link out of the drawer once again. But, really, there's a simpler threshold question: how many suspicious deaths should we see before we start to be worried?

It turns out that it's much more than I thought.

The average person can recognize 50,000 people whom they interact with on a day-to-day basis, and knows the names of somewhere around 3,000 acquaintances. If we assume that (a) a president is likely to know about that number (it is likely to be much larger), that (b) a disproportionate number of those people would be recognizable to the average American, and that (c) the average age of those people is somewhat older than the American median -- I'll put it at age 50 -- then we can expect that around 250 people whom Bill Clinton is acquainted with would have died in every year of his... more »

Quantitative Conspiracy Theorizing

So, I've had to pull this link out of the drawer once again. But, really, there's a simpler threshold question: how many suspicious deaths should we see before we start to be worried?

It turns out that it's much more than I thought.

The average person can recognize 50,000 people whom they interact with on a day-to-day basis, and knows the names of somewhere around 3,000 acquaintances. If we assume that (a) a president is likely to know about that number (it is likely to be much larger), that (b) a disproportionate number of those people would be recognizable to the average American, and that (c) the average age of those people is somewhat older than the American median -- I'll put it at age 50 -- then we can expect that around 250 people whom Bill Clinton is acquainted with would have died in every year of his presidency.

This number becomes vastly larger once you expand the definition to include, as the "body-bag" lists do, people who were not meaningfully connected to Clinton. As in: people who worked, at one point, for governmental organizations which Clinton was the head of. But we'll disregard that fact, and similarly disregard the 34 Commerce Department officials who died on Ron Brown's plane in Croatia.

So the question really becomes: of people acquainted with Clinton, how many could be expected to die under suspicious circumstances? If we include "suicide and murder" as being canonically suspicious deaths, we can expect 6.5 suicide deaths per year associated with Clinton and around 3 murder deaths per year. If the distribution were utterly random, we'd expect a total of 76 suspicious deaths associated with Clinton over the term of his presidency.

The largest number I've seen associated with this conspiracy theory is 90, 34 of which were on that single plane in Croatia that ran into a mountainside. On no other evidence (and there is no evidence), I wouldn't be worried.___

2016-09-20 23:17:45 (14 comments; 0 reshares; 33 +1s; )Open 

One thing that's been interesting this election cycle is the widening of fissures in American conservatism which were undetectable from the left prior to this year.

Since the 1990s, American conservatism has been run in a fundamentally top-down way. Talking points were produced by politicians, disseminated to a relatively small number of top-tier outlets, spread through a larger number of disciplined pundits, and believed by half the country. At the top, politicians were motivated by self-interest; outlets like Fox News were motivated by money and proximity to power; voters were motivated by believing the things which they had been told by this closed, airless media ecosystem.

The pundits in the middle, from the relatively highbrow chamber-music conservatives at National Review to the hawkish neocons at the Weekly Standard to individual blogs and talk radio shows, seemed to be an... more »

One thing that's been interesting this election cycle is the widening of fissures in American conservatism which were undetectable from the left prior to this year.

Since the 1990s, American conservatism has been run in a fundamentally top-down way. Talking points were produced by politicians, disseminated to a relatively small number of top-tier outlets, spread through a larger number of disciplined pundits, and believed by half the country. At the top, politicians were motivated by self-interest; outlets like Fox News were motivated by money and proximity to power; voters were motivated by believing the things which they had been told by this closed, airless media ecosystem.

The pundits in the middle, from the relatively highbrow chamber-music conservatives at National Review to the hawkish neocons at the Weekly Standard to individual blogs and talk radio shows, seemed to be an army which walked in lockstep, diverging to support their individual candidates but eventually reuniting to press the single message dictated at the top. Insofar as their varieties of conservatism differed -- theocon, reformicon, econocon -- they seemed to represent an origin story rather than something which was still an active part of their ideological underpinnings. And this was because conservative media, unlike mainstream media, doesn't actually engage with itself much: if you look at the points of conflict, even between individual pundits on Twitter, they were producing a sort of punditry, but they were not consuming it exclusively. They were consuming the mainstream media, then imposing a sort of conservative lens on it.

When Trump became inevitable, the conservative middlemen suddenly had to contend with each other. No one outside the conservative ghetto could understand why Trump had suddenly risen to national prominence. The answer was inside the conservative media, not outside of it.

It's a tarnished silver lining, but suddenly the ideological underpinnings of conservatism (or, rather, the different varieties of conservatism) have become much more clear, and their arguments much less vapid. Maybe I can finally start reading conservatives outside The American Conservative again. ___

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2016-09-16 18:26:45 (51 comments; 3 reshares; 36 +1s; )Open 

Home.

Home.___

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2016-09-14 19:51:00 (20 comments; 6 reshares; 50 +1s; )Open 

Blurgh, this is an awful, awful article. A few points:

(1) This is somehow derived from a single 1996 paper in the Lancet, which found that several genes which cause intellectual disability are on the X chromosome. Those do, in fact, have huge effects on intelligence -- Fragile X syndrome occurs only in boys. So there's something to it.

(2) More recent research has determined that there are two large clusters of genes -- M1 and M3 -- involved in intelligence, and that those genes are spread across both the autosomes and the X chromosome. M3 has about 150 genes in it; M1 has fewer.

(3) For each of those genes, there are significant numbers of single-nucleotide polymorphisms that produce viable results. Those are equally likely (well, except for those on the X chromosome) to be inherited from mothers or fathers.

(4) If it were the case that many more genes were... more »

Blurgh, this is an awful, awful article. A few points:

(1) This is somehow derived from a single 1996 paper in the Lancet, which found that several genes which cause intellectual disability are on the X chromosome. Those do, in fact, have huge effects on intelligence -- Fragile X syndrome occurs only in boys. So there's something to it.

(2) More recent research has determined that there are two large clusters of genes -- M1 and M3 -- involved in intelligence, and that those genes are spread across both the autosomes and the X chromosome. M3 has about 150 genes in it; M1 has fewer.

(3) For each of those genes, there are significant numbers of single-nucleotide polymorphisms that produce viable results. Those are equally likely (well, except for those on the X chromosome) to be inherited from mothers or fathers.

(4) If it were the case that many more genes were inherited from the mother than the father, you'd end up with two facts which don't yet seem to be in evidence: (a) that men have more variable intelligence than women, and (b) that women are, on the average, more intelligent than men.

The first is because men would be more likely than women to inherit a full, functional set of positive alleles; the second is because women are more likely to inherit a variable set of alleles, and that rare alleles are more likely to cause intellectual deficits than common ones.
___

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2016-09-14 19:36:28 (49 comments; 0 reshares; 23 +1s; )Open 

Peter Kirsanow is, of course, wrong on every point. He's even decided that secularism is about sexual freedom, which indicates that he's either woefully hyperbolic or has fully incorporated his rhetoric as premises.

More shockingly, he's wrong about non-discrimination. As it happens, we went nearly a century without racial non-discrimination being part of 13-15A because the court decided it wouldn't be. Lochnerism, famously, had little help for blacks under Jim Crow but found that 14A protected an expansive "freedom of contract".

What I find revealing in each round of religious freedom debate is how wrong, just on basic facts like the procession of cases, its elite defenders are. It's little wonder that deeply devout people find themselves constantly on the defensive: they're sold a false bill of goods by people who are, willfully or not, ignorant of... more »

Peter Kirsanow is, of course, wrong on every point. He's even decided that secularism is about sexual freedom, which indicates that he's either woefully hyperbolic or has fully incorporated his rhetoric as premises.

More shockingly, he's wrong about non-discrimination. As it happens, we went nearly a century without racial non-discrimination being part of 13-15A because the court decided it wouldn't be. Lochnerism, famously, had little help for blacks under Jim Crow but found that 14A protected an expansive "freedom of contract".

What I find revealing in each round of religious freedom debate is how wrong, just on basic facts like the procession of cases, its elite defenders are. It's little wonder that deeply devout people find themselves constantly on the defensive: they're sold a false bill of goods by people who are, willfully or not, ignorant of how the law is actually constructed.___

2016-09-12 20:18:58 (35 comments; 18 reshares; 104 +1s; )Open 

There are, and always have been, a subset of voters who want genuinely awful things.

During the Bush administration, Guantanamo consistently polled as being more popular than almost all government policies except Medicare. Torture was, and is, consistently more popular than the ACA. Go back to the 1970s, and you'll find substantial numbers of Americans in favor of massacring antiwar protesters; ten years earlier, and you'll find large numbers of people supporting the deaths of outside agitators in the South; ten years before that, and you'll find key reforms which are conditioned on the prevention of anti-lynching legislation.

In order to maintain a democracy, there has to be an official myth that there was a George Wallace, but no George Wallace voters; that there was a Confederacy, but no Confederates; that Bull Connor and Theodore Bilbo were somehow elected without any... more »

There are, and always have been, a subset of voters who want genuinely awful things.

During the Bush administration, Guantanamo consistently polled as being more popular than almost all government policies except Medicare. Torture was, and is, consistently more popular than the ACA. Go back to the 1970s, and you'll find substantial numbers of Americans in favor of massacring antiwar protesters; ten years earlier, and you'll find large numbers of people supporting the deaths of outside agitators in the South; ten years before that, and you'll find key reforms which are conditioned on the prevention of anti-lynching legislation.

In order to maintain a democracy, there has to be an official myth that there was a George Wallace, but no George Wallace voters; that there was a Confederacy, but no Confederates; that Bull Connor and Theodore Bilbo were somehow elected without any particular person electing them. But they were elected, and they were elected because many of the worst things that this country does are not directed, top-down, by our corrupt elites: they were demanded, bottom-up, by the worst sort of populist voter.

This is what we're seeing in the bad-faith attempts to claim that Trump is a monster, but that none of that monstrousness is in his supporters. This is nonsense. Trump is not somehow introducing racism and misogyny and corruption to the American public.

It was there all along. He simply gave the worst people in our country a voice. ___

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2016-09-09 16:56:13 (25 comments; 7 reshares; 46 +1s; )Open 

Interesting.

Interesting.___

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2016-09-07 21:46:06 (40 comments; 1 reshares; 12 +1s; )Open 

TIL: Luke Cage's best friend is named D.W. Griffith. As in, Birth of a Nation D.W. Griffith. And at some point, a human being of some sort signed off on that decision.

Jesus.

TIL: Luke Cage's best friend is named D.W. Griffith. As in, Birth of a Nation D.W. Griffith. And at some point, a human being of some sort signed off on that decision.

Jesus.___

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2016-09-06 20:52:08 (55 comments; 15 reshares; 62 +1s; )Open 

This is precisely the article that I've been waiting for. A couple of notes:

(1) Letting people know before exposing them to something a reasonable person would find disturbing or upsetting is polite. There's some reasonable quibbling around the edges -- basically, about how sensitive you have to be to context when doing so -- but the arguments against this very basic social rule are essentially bad-faith. If you are going to give a graphic account of a sexual assault, or will be doing a surprise autopsy in front of a class, you should probably warn people that that's what you're going to do.

(2) This doesn't completely absolve the people who are the most avid advocates of trigger warnings. The argument from that corner is that failing to provide trauma triggers creates real, long-term medical harm for people who have PTSD, and that what will trigger... more »

This is precisely the article that I've been waiting for. A couple of notes:

(1) Letting people know before exposing them to something a reasonable person would find disturbing or upsetting is polite. There's some reasonable quibbling around the edges -- basically, about how sensitive you have to be to context when doing so -- but the arguments against this very basic social rule are essentially bad-faith. If you are going to give a graphic account of a sexual assault, or will be doing a surprise autopsy in front of a class, you should probably warn people that that's what you're going to do.

(2) This doesn't completely absolve the people who are the most avid advocates of trigger warnings. The argument from that corner is that failing to provide trauma triggers creates real, long-term medical harm for people who have PTSD, and that what will trigger breakthrough panic attacks in PTSD is predictable.

In short, no. Most people who suffer substantial trauma will not suffer a trauma disorder; most people who do have those disorders will spontaneously remit; the only thing strongly correlated with failure of trauma disorders to remit is avoidant coping strategies. In other words, telling people that trauma is always (or often) a permanent psychic injury will often result in there being a permanent psychic injury.

(3) One question which I frequently got, working as a DV/SA social worker, was "Will it be like this forever?"

No, maybe. Yes, maybe. What do I know?

The answer I always gave was, "This is the worst thing which has ever happened to you. It is only the worst thing which has ever happened to you. Everyone recovers at their own pace. Some people never recover. Some people need help to recover. Most people eventually do."

What I would frequently hear -- not from coworkers, but from other people in activist spaces, was "Rape destroys the soul." I heard that phrase over and over and over again, and while it captures something about rapists, it tells victims that everything is hopeless, nothing can help them recover, and that they have suffered an irreparable psychic injury which will follow them their entire lives.

There is a very narrow rapid between denying trauma and accepting trauma as an overarching identity; one which instantly overwrites all other possibilities. Supporting the self-efficacy of people in the aftermath of trauma without making rigid demands for healing is critical to the process, and ducking behind victims of trauma in order to smother them with accommodations they (as a group) didn't ask for is ... problematic at best. ___

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2016-09-02 21:20:54 (14 comments; 9 reshares; 46 +1s; )Open 

It's also worth noting that this is the precise contribution which appears to have ended Pam Bondi's fraud investigation of Trump University.

For some time now, the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold has been looking into the neglected subject of Donald Trump’s charitable giving.

And most recently he’s found out that Trump’s charitable foundation made an illegal campaign contribution to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (this reporting is based, in turn, in part on work done by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington). Then when they found out they had broken the law, they kinda sorta corrected the error but didn’t actually follow their legal obligation to get the money back.___It's also worth noting that this is the precise contribution which appears to have ended Pam Bondi's fraud investigation of Trump University.

2016-08-31 19:31:50 (26 comments; 1 reshares; 39 +1s; )Open 

Trivium: The Anthony Weiner sexting scandal has now gone on for longer than the American Civil War.

Trivium: The Anthony Weiner sexting scandal has now gone on for longer than the American Civil War.___

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2016-08-24 19:45:22 (28 comments; 7 reshares; 39 +1s; )Open 

Dammit, Bernie. I had hopes for this.

But Jeff Weaver is the reason that the last part of the Sanders campaign was such an utter damp squib: he, like Sanders, had a vision of a completely colorblind Democratic party which (by not-really-coincidence) is run entirely by elderly white men. He could not understand why he was losing despite winning the white part of the Democrats.

That coalition is dead, and will never occur again.

In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, up until the first Jim Crow laws were established in the 1880s, black voters were solid Republicans. But it was always a weird fit: the Republicans were a sectional, mercantile party, while the Democrats were the party of basically farmers, immigrants, slavery, the poor, and the South. So, where black people could vote (the North, some Southern counties), they started voting for Democrats.

By the... more »

Dammit, Bernie. I had hopes for this.

But Jeff Weaver is the reason that the last part of the Sanders campaign was such an utter damp squib: he, like Sanders, had a vision of a completely colorblind Democratic party which (by not-really-coincidence) is run entirely by elderly white men. He could not understand why he was losing despite winning the white part of the Democrats.

That coalition is dead, and will never occur again.

In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, up until the first Jim Crow laws were established in the 1880s, black voters were solid Republicans. But it was always a weird fit: the Republicans were a sectional, mercantile party, while the Democrats were the party of basically farmers, immigrants, slavery, the poor, and the South. So, where black people could vote (the North, some Southern counties), they started voting for Democrats.

By the 1920s, the majority of the black vote, even in the South, was Democratic. It's easy to caricature this as being "voting against their own interests," but it really wasn't; their interests were very similar to those of the immigrant parts of the party as a whole. The rest of the party was what you might call "white working class," although white identity had not yet encompassed people like (for instance) the Irish and Italians.

This would have been completely stable except for the issue of civil rights. Which white voters in the South, and many in the north, were deeply, fundamentally opposed to. Everywhere but the South, elites were for it, rank-and-file voters were against it. And so in order to avoid breaking the party, the Democrats systematically blocked everything which might benefit black voters, all while pushing the most economically-left social policies in American history.

In 1968, when civil rights finally passed (with an extremely bipartisan vote) the party started rapidly shedding the white Southern voters which formed the core of its support. In 1964, Goldwater had explicitly made a play for racist Southerners. He didn't get them then, though. From that point forward, the Democrats began to lose the core of their support in the South.

The economic policy of the latter half of the 20th century is a direct result of poor white voters abandoning the Democratic Party because of civil rights. This came to a head much later than you might imagine: though the South started to switch to Republican control in 1968 (in terms of presidential elections), its House seats didn't fully switch over until 1994.

Minority voters have basically two choices given the present alignment of American boting vlocs: become an indispensible part of a majority-minority coalition with a relatively small number of college-educated white voters, or become a disposable part of a white-working-class populist coalition which might turn on them at any moment, and which historically has. Frequently.

This is not an enviable position to be in, but note that a white-working-class-based Democratic coalition would be as likely or more to elect a candidate like Trump than a candidate like Sanders. This is not a long-term recipe for tolerable policies.
___

2016-08-23 19:58:11 (22 comments; 0 reshares; 34 +1s; )Open 

Ghostbusters: "We need to keep operating this unlicensed homemade nuclear reactor so we can store ghosts."

Okay, so, in what possible world does the EPA guy respond, "Oh, yeah, that sounds reasonable; let me just write you a permit so you can continue to store your ghosts in that reactor?" Like, why is he the bad guy in this scenario?

Ghostbusters: "We need to keep operating this unlicensed homemade nuclear reactor so we can store ghosts."

Okay, so, in what possible world does the EPA guy respond, "Oh, yeah, that sounds reasonable; let me just write you a permit so you can continue to store your ghosts in that reactor?" Like, why is he the bad guy in this scenario?___

2016-08-22 21:08:47 (12 comments; 17 reshares; 54 +1s; )Open 

As it turns out, we now have the answer to where Trump's campaign donations are going. And it wasn't to his campaign: after admin and fundraising costs, the Trump campaign's largest expenditure was hats. From a financial perspective, his campaign seems weirdly like a hat website which advertises by running a guy for president.

But that's only 1.8m. Where did the rest of it go? As it turns out, he isn't repaying his loans. He's just being dishonest about how many donations he's gotten.

Partisan political campaigns in the United States can set up what's called a JFC: a joint fundraising campaign. These are almost always split down the middle. But Trump's are unusual, and I suspect the reason was to make his campaign look more healthy than it actually is. That money is being split 80/20 between the RNC and the Trump campaign, but because the JFC funds... more »

As it turns out, we now have the answer to where Trump's campaign donations are going. And it wasn't to his campaign: after admin and fundraising costs, the Trump campaign's largest expenditure was hats. From a financial perspective, his campaign seems weirdly like a hat website which advertises by running a guy for president.

But that's only 1.8m. Where did the rest of it go? As it turns out, he isn't repaying his loans. He's just being dishonest about how many donations he's gotten.

Partisan political campaigns in the United States can set up what's called a JFC: a joint fundraising campaign. These are almost always split down the middle. But Trump's are unusual, and I suspect the reason was to make his campaign look more healthy than it actually is. That money is being split 80/20 between the RNC and the Trump campaign, but because the JFC funds are attributed to the presidential campaign until they're disbursed to the party, 100% of those funds were attributed to Trump on last month's fundraising reports.

Of the 20% which Trump keeps, the vast majority is being spent on more fundraising. Bizarrely, his main fundraising contractor is a web design firm which has previously done work for the Trump Organization, and they appear to be taking an almost 30% (!?!?!?!) commission on all fundraising done for the campaign.

So, TL;DR: Trump wasn't lying about how he's spending the money. He was lying about having it to begin with.

___

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2016-08-19 00:28:18 (17 comments; 10 reshares; 42 +1s; )Open 

Q: So, Andy. Why are you so concerned with a Cayman Islands lawsuit between Paul Manafort and a Ukrainian joint venture incorporated there?

A: This article, basically.

Q: So, Andy. Why are you so concerned with a Cayman Islands lawsuit between Paul Manafort and a Ukrainian joint venture incorporated there?

A: This article, basically.___

2016-08-17 18:02:22 (64 comments; 1 reshares; 23 +1s; )Open 

So, I got in a little tiff the other day about whether Democrats could have done substantially better, over the past six years, by paying attention to George Lakoff's political theories. The short answer: no. The longer answer: also no, but more emphatically. Lakoff is essentially a fraud.

For those of you who are familiar with Lakoff, here's the basic framework he proposes: that metaphors are the basis of human cognition, and that political success is essentially a function of deploying the right metaphors. In order to succeed in electoral politics, you only need the right metaphors, not the right policies: once politicians adopt the correct metaphorical frame, everyone will come around to their view.

This is nonsense. But it's not nonsense simply because it contradicts some deeply-held empirical results in political science (particularly, the median voter theorem).... more »

So, I got in a little tiff the other day about whether Democrats could have done substantially better, over the past six years, by paying attention to George Lakoff's political theories. The short answer: no. The longer answer: also no, but more emphatically. Lakoff is essentially a fraud.

For those of you who are familiar with Lakoff, here's the basic framework he proposes: that metaphors are the basis of human cognition, and that political success is essentially a function of deploying the right metaphors. In order to succeed in electoral politics, you only need the right metaphors, not the right policies: once politicians adopt the correct metaphorical frame, everyone will come around to their view.

This is nonsense. But it's not nonsense simply because it contradicts some deeply-held empirical results in political science (particularly, the median voter theorem). It's nonsense even on its own terms.

(1) In Lakoff's CMT, metaphorical frameworks are found intuitively and unsystematically; there is no methodological regularity in how metaphors are found, nor is there methodological regularity in determining which metaphors are primary. They are arrived at on an ad hoc basis and determined to be causal on an ad hoc basis.

(2) CMT presumes metaphors to be foundational: that is, the mapping of physical objects to abstract concepts is the basis of cognition.

There is one major problem with this, of course: the existence of multiple disjoint sets of metaphors for particular abstractions. Lakoff handwaves away this problem by saying that the brain encodes one (and no more than one) object-to-abstraction metaphor at any one time; the remainder, he claims, are mere results of the cultural imposition of nonbiological frames onto an underlying neurological framework.

This implies that it is literally impossible to simultaneously believe in Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam; even more weirdly, it implies that Lady Liberty or Uncle Sam are the actual underlying representations of national character, rather than a mere synecdoche for a set of characteristics for the underlying abstraction.

(It bears noting that the neuroscience does not support Lakoff's position on this: cognition about abstract concepts occurs in parts of the brain which appear to be fairly well-segregated from the parts of the brain that reason about concrete objects.)

(3) CMT makes very loose guarantees about the schematicity of metaphorical frames, meaning that it can retroactively explain metaphors, but never proactively predict them.

For instance: arguments have foundations and other characteristics of objects; therefore, in CMT, arguments are buildings. In a strictly schematic implementation of CMT, that would imply that arguments, like buildings, also have windows. That they have doors. That some arguments have people inside them.

Not even Lakoff would claim that this is true, however. By allowing schematic elasticity, he can claim that arguments are buildings, but that arguments nonetheless do not have most of the relevant characteristics of buildings. No windows, no doors, no people inside them. Could we have predicted this ahead of time using CMT? No. The extent to which the metaphorical schema applies is a purely post-hoc determination.

If we assume that metaphors are not a first-order characteristic of human cognition, though, we have a relatively simple explanation for the idea that arguments have foundations: that the relation between an argument's evidence and its conclusion is similar to the relation between a building's foundation and the structure. That is: if a foundation fails, then the structure it supports also fails.

In this case, a completely atheoretical approach which assumes that abstractions are first-order concepts in human cognition -- the idea that we can conceive of an argument without first conceiving of buildings -- is clearly superior to a CMT approach with schematic elasticity, which predicts nothing and is capable of concluding anything.

(4) CMT also proposes that metaphors require embodiment: that is, that there is some physical correlate of every abstraction, and that that physical correlate is used as a token representing an abstraction in abstract cognition.

This is key to the entire theory, which is grounded -- at least in part -- in the theory that human abstract cognition results from the evolutionary generalization of cognitive modules designed for motor and sensory behavior. But there are two major problems with this.

First, the problem of generalization. The concepts involved in metaphorical frames are already abstractions: there are no general "mothers" and no general "fathers," just the mothers and fathers which exist in the world. If abstract thought is not a first-order capacity of the human mind, then how do we generalize all mothers together into a single personality and then attribute those mothers to an abstraction?

Second, the problem that, if all metaphors are embodied, are we really building hierarchical chains of embodiment in order to create metaphors for complex abstractions? For instance: war is a common metaphor, and a common frame used in politics. But war is, itself, an abstraction, and an apparently first-order abstraction: we do not make a lot of metaphors for war (certainly, no embodied metaphors), but we use war as a metaphor for other abstractions as well. ("War on drugs," "war on poverty.")

Worse for Lakoff's theory, we use war as a metaphor for embodied acts! So, for instance, I might describe a series of fistfights as a war between myself and someone else, thereby using an apparently high-order abstraction for a concrete, embodied acts. Strictly construed, in CMT, this would seem entirely impossible.___

2016-08-16 22:44:42 (20 comments; 1 reshares; 15 +1s; )Open 

Because National Journal is so heavily locked down -- you literally have to fill out an application in order to get a subscription -- this 2014 article about Bernie didn't really make the rounds during the election. But I think this is a really good overview of the things which made his candidacy what it was -- both the things which I loved about him as a candidate and the things which I was deeply suspicious about.

+Ahmed Amer, +John Wehrle, +Irreverent Monk

Because National Journal is so heavily locked down -- you literally have to fill out an application in order to get a subscription -- this 2014 article about Bernie didn't really make the rounds during the election. But I think this is a really good overview of the things which made his candidacy what it was -- both the things which I loved about him as a candidate and the things which I was deeply suspicious about.

+Ahmed Amer, +John Wehrle, +Irreverent Monk___

2016-08-15 23:30:17 (29 comments; 0 reshares; 35 +1s; )Open 

So, Paul Manafort needed that 12 mil in RUS cash. He's working for Trump pro bono.

Sorry, cui bono. I get those two confused sometimes.

So, Paul Manafort needed that 12 mil in RUS cash. He's working for Trump pro bono.

Sorry, cui bono. I get those two confused sometimes.___

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2016-08-15 03:37:06 (21 comments; 0 reshares; 38 +1s; )Open 

BONUS: Right now, Ivanka Trump is literally vacationing with Putin's new girlfriend, Wendi Deng.

http://www.people.com/article/ivanka-trump-wendi-deng-murdoch-croatia

Popcorn time begins!

The NYT has a story today revealing how a ledger, seized when Ukraine's "pro-Russia" President Yanukovich was removed in a 2014 revolution, includes $12.7M in cash for one of Yanukovich's trusted advisers, Paul Manafort. It goes into the rather fascinatingly twisty web of shell companies, Russian oligarchs, mafiosi, and fairly overtly corrupt and criminal deals which Manafort appears to have specialized in facilitating.

Not that this is a huge surprise; before Yanukovich, Manafort did much the same for Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines. He's essentially a career specialist in assisting corrupt regimes – not corrupt in the "does campaign finance law create a conflict of interest?" sort of way, but corrupt in the "get this suitcase full of cash on the next plane to the Cayman Islands and no questions" way.

Manafort's closest business partner in his Yanukovich-era operations appears to have been Oleg Deripaska, a noted Russian oligarch and close ally of Putin's.

But the popcorn time is likely to really step up this week. Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump's former campaign manager – until he was dismissed, moved over to CNN to become a talking head, but seems to have still kept at least some amount of role as a Trump advisor – was one of the first to retweet this NYT article. Which is interesting, as Manafort was his replacement and is currently Trump's top "aide."

Adam Weinstein, senior editor at Fusion, responded to the NYT article with something even more interesting: "Speaking as someone who has a story coming this week: This is just the beginning for Manafort. It gets worse."

Several people have speculated that the really interesting story is going to involve Deripaska, and just how felonious all of these activities really are.

And while some have speculated that this may cost Manafort his job either with Trump or with the SVR, I think both are unlikely, at least in the near term. On the one side, Trump probably knows Manafort pretty well, having no small number of Russian deals (which Manafort likely brokered) in his own past; I can't imagine any of this surprising him. On the other side, Manafort is presumably a stringer rather than an actual officer of the SVR – both because his work tends towards the very "unofficial," and because I can't imagine any intelligence professional wanting to run Trump as an agent. He may be very useful to Putin, but he's not the sort of person that you could run in a traditional way; he's far too unpredictable, and frankly stupid, to be any good at that.

Instead, you would want an experienced grey-ops handler, run in turn by someone close to you, that you can trust, and who knows both grey and black ops well, but entirely off the books of a large bureaucracy that you can only partially trust. Know anyone like that?

(Ah, how standards have fallen! Back in the day the First Directorate would never have let an operation run like this; his handler would have been an experienced officer with no particularly interesting-sounding background, and nobody would have noticed him. "This agent is an idiot and dangerous to the cause" would have been recognized and overruled; his value clearly outweighs the danger.)

Anyway. The short version is that it looks like Trump's lead Russian handler may have just gotten blown in a rather embarrassing fashion, and there are a bunch of more interesting news stories to follow.

Get out the popcorn, folks! This one promises to be interesting.___BONUS: Right now, Ivanka Trump is literally vacationing with Putin's new girlfriend, Wendi Deng.

http://www.people.com/article/ivanka-trump-wendi-deng-murdoch-croatia

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2016-08-15 01:18:40 (23 comments; 4 reshares; 43 +1s; )Open 

That is, I think, one of the top five most inexplicable media things I have ever seen.

That is, I think, one of the top five most inexplicable media things I have ever seen.___

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2016-08-14 20:57:35 (2 comments; 0 reshares; 27 +1s; )Open 

Somehow, this post didn't make it into a collection when I posted it. I think it still stands up, so I'm putting it in this one.

Here, a post by the excellent +Xavier Marquez, concerning Aztecs: an Interpretation:

[Sacrificial] rituals should not, I think, be understood as promoting an “ideology” of submission – in the sense of stories told by ruling classes to preserve their privileges. No “private” privileges could compare to the intensity of these manufactured collective experiences, for one thing; and, as Clendinnen notes, the rituals at Tenochtitlan did not help to compel acceptance of Aztec supremacy among subject peoples either. Though it is true that in their thoroughgoing embrace of submission to and dependence on the god, Mexica rituals did dramatize the microcosmic hierarchy as an instance of the macrocosmic one, that hierarchy is not presented as just, or fair, or otherwise as "justified" in any sense we could recognize; the power of such practices was in their sacralization of social life through extraordinary emotion, not in their "justificatory" content. At the end of the day, their deep “message” could hardly serve to legitimize anything in the sense of persuading the subjects of the ruling elite’s “right to rule.”

This is an ingenious description of the inward-facing purpose of sacrificial ritual in the Aztec state: to demonstrate the power or of the forces to which the Mexica people were enslaved, and to both demand and allow public participation in those forces. But if the outward-facing purpose of that ritual did not demonstrate the Mexica right to rule, what purpose did it serve with respect to the outside world?

The answer, I think, hinges on the source of Aztec sacrificial victims.

Throughout much of the ancient Western world, among chiefdoms, and among states bordered by chiefdoms, the concept of total war is basically unfamiliar. No individual warring party can afford to lose a significant portion of its population to its neighbors, there are few types of rare goods, and the institutions of the state are not so firm that they can be seized without evaporating. Warfare, insofar as it exists, tends to be highly formal, ritualized, and rulebound. For further examples, consider the practice of counting coup in North America, or Maori war dancing.

Beginning at 1450 at the latest (and probably before), Aztec warfare was similar. Structured warfare between the Triple Alliance and its subject states and chiefdoms served as both a replacement for taxation and a source of slaves and sacrifice: the Aztecs would have a right to take tribute from the loser, and both sides would fulfill their need for sacrifice.

This did not, in a Weberian sense, serve as a source of legitimacy for the Aztec state. The treaties which governed xochiyaoyatl were generally the result of a decades-long cycle of conquest and revolt, and steady attrition from the vassal states meant that the Mexica could field a young and healthy army of elites, whereas partners could field only those remaining after the previous cycles of xochiyaoyatl. In addition, Aztec demands were erratic and escalating.

It is possible to view xochiyaoyatl as a purely political phenomenon, designed to subjugate and suppress rebellion. But it was intricately bound into the system of ritual and sacrifice which existed at the center of the Aztec state: captives from the Aztecs' eternal war against their subjects were the primary focus of national attention, and the driving force behind the expansion of the state.

To the outside world, Aztec sacrificial ritual (and the warfare which fed it) consisted of rituals of subjugation: symbolic acts which both entail oppression and demonstrate that the fates of the oppressed were entirely subject to the whims of a capricious outside power.

Among the Aztecs, it occurs in stark contrast. But they were not uniquely barbarous. There are clear analogies elsewhere. In Sparta, the krypteia: a coming-of-age ritual  wherein young warriors were given permission to kill any serfs they came across. In Assyria, the practice of constructing public artwork declaring and demonstrating kings' brutality.

In the American South and elsewhere, lynching for offenses which would not rise to the level of a crime in any other society on Earth.___Somehow, this post didn't make it into a collection when I posted it. I think it still stands up, so I'm putting it in this one.

2016-08-14 01:52:23 (28 comments; 0 reshares; 24 +1s; )Open 

Capsule Review, No Man's Sky: Minecraft and Elite: Dangerous, as filtered through Borges' The Library of Babel.

I have already named a planet Axaxaxas Mlö.

Capsule Review, No Man's Sky: Minecraft and Elite: Dangerous, as filtered through Borges' The Library of Babel.

I have already named a planet Axaxaxas Mlö.___

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2016-08-13 00:50:51 (63 comments; 10 reshares; 73 +1s; )Open 

Trump has literally zero ads in the air. His staff is a tenth the size of Clinton's. He doesn't have field offices in key Republican counties in key swing states. He doesn't have outreach directors for key Republican constituencies.

He raised $80m last month.

The most likely conclusion is that Trump is using Republican donations not to run for President, but to line his own pockets and those of his closest advisors -- and this is not unique. The entire conservative movement is affinity fraud which, as a side effect, runs candidates for public office. You know how I know? Because one of Trump's top advisors is Barry Bennett -- the guy whom Carson accused of stealing the vast majority of his donations.

This is a regular feature of Republican electoral politics. Ben Carson's advisors stole all of his donations, forcing him to drop out. Mitt Romney's... more »

Trump has literally zero ads in the air. His staff is a tenth the size of Clinton's. He doesn't have field offices in key Republican counties in key swing states. He doesn't have outreach directors for key Republican constituencies.

He raised $80m last month.

The most likely conclusion is that Trump is using Republican donations not to run for President, but to line his own pockets and those of his closest advisors -- and this is not unique. The entire conservative movement is affinity fraud which, as a side effect, runs candidates for public office. You know how I know? Because one of Trump's top advisors is Barry Bennett -- the guy whom Carson accused of stealing the vast majority of his donations.

This is a regular feature of Republican electoral politics. Ben Carson's advisors stole all of his donations, forcing him to drop out. Mitt Romney's media buys cost four to five times what Obama's did because his ad buyers were trying to make a buck. Karl Rove has made a fortune on ad-buy kickbacks from credulous superPACs. And all the way down to local races, fly-by-night direct mail organizations "fundraise" by scaring elderly voters into turning over huge chunks of fixed incomes, pocket the money, and leave the candidates themselves out in the cold.

When you build your movement around lying to the gullible, you'll find that your movement attracts those who want to lie to the gullible to make a buck rather than the (notional) people who want to lie to the gullible in order to make the world a better place.___

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2016-08-10 21:01:27 (10 comments; 14 reshares; 59 +1s; )Open 

This result is... unexpected.

This result is... unexpected.___

2016-08-10 02:46:14 (29 comments; 2 reshares; 45 +1s; )Open 

I'm on vacation. So whatever the dümpsterführer said that made my notifications explode can wait.

I'm on vacation. So whatever the dümpsterführer said that made my notifications explode can wait.___

2016-08-05 20:10:28 (59 comments; 1 reshares; 12 +1s; )Open 

Imagine that you have two possible legislatures:

(a) A 60% majority of legislators favoring 75% of your policy preferences, but where each legislator will defect to the minority on the 25% of issues (randomly distributed) on which they oppose your preference if not bought off by a concession on an unrelated issue.

(b) A 55% majority of legislators favoring 90% of your policy preferences, but where each legislator will unconditionally oppose your policy preferences on the 10% of issues (randomly distributed) on which they oppose your preference. These principled legislators may not be bought off by concessions on unrelated issues.

Which do you choose? Why?

Imagine that you have two possible legislatures:

(a) A 60% majority of legislators favoring 75% of your policy preferences, but where each legislator will defect to the minority on the 25% of issues (randomly distributed) on which they oppose your preference if not bought off by a concession on an unrelated issue.

(b) A 55% majority of legislators favoring 90% of your policy preferences, but where each legislator will unconditionally oppose your policy preferences on the 10% of issues (randomly distributed) on which they oppose your preference. These principled legislators may not be bought off by concessions on unrelated issues.

Which do you choose? Why?___

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2016-08-05 17:30:35 (11 comments; 3 reshares; 43 +1s; )Open 

Oh my god, what? Matt Braynard was Trump's data director?

To give you some background: I know this guy via a friend who used to work in right-wing politics. He's a weird, angry monotone sloganeer who's apparently lived a marginal existence on the fringes of Republican politics since I last heard from him: a couple jobs with doomed campaigns, but nothing that I would call a "successful career" before Trump. If it's not clear, I ... uh ... don't like the guy.

But here's the best thing: back in 2012 and 2013, when I was last in peripheral and very unpleasant contact with him, he was furiously unskewing Republican polls to prove Democratic voter fraud. This unhinged campaign strategy is another page out of the same book: he's a guy whom you hire to provide comforting numbers on demand, not a guy whom you hire to tell you what the numbers actually say.... more »

Oh my god, what? Matt Braynard was Trump's data director?

To give you some background: I know this guy via a friend who used to work in right-wing politics. He's a weird, angry monotone sloganeer who's apparently lived a marginal existence on the fringes of Republican politics since I last heard from him: a couple jobs with doomed campaigns, but nothing that I would call a "successful career" before Trump. If it's not clear, I ... uh ... don't like the guy.

But here's the best thing: back in 2012 and 2013, when I was last in peripheral and very unpleasant contact with him, he was furiously unskewing Republican polls to prove Democratic voter fraud. This unhinged campaign strategy is another page out of the same book: he's a guy whom you hire to provide comforting numbers on demand, not a guy whom you hire to tell you what the numbers actually say. I can't imagine anyone else whom I'd rather have running the Trump data operation, and am sad that he was fired in April.___

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2016-08-05 15:57:19 (19 comments; 8 reshares; 42 +1s; )Open 

From a Trump-related press release:

"Donald Trump lives, works, eats and employs people of all races and religions."

Um.

From a Trump-related press release:

"Donald Trump lives, works, eats and employs people of all races and religions."

Um.___

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2016-08-04 21:19:07 (26 comments; 2 reshares; 20 +1s; )Open 

The analysis here is good and a bit surprising. The conservative movement has been exiling people who talk this way, so I'm a bit shocked anyone would take the risk.

One quibble: when the author talks about "left-wing" media, he means CNN; when he talks about "right-wing" media, he means Hannity. This is a problem and part of the "reality has a strong liberal bias" joke. The equivalent of something like Hannity is probably Daily Kos or The Young Turks. Hannity is an opinion program, not a news program, whether in fact or pretense, and just not comparable to CNN or even NPR. Fox News is, but it's common to see talk radio compared to CNN or NPR.

I'd argue that this exposes a problem. For these programs to be comparable, you need to believe that CNN is basically opinion. It simply isn't; it's almost entirely reportage. The same is true of... more »

The analysis here is good and a bit surprising. The conservative movement has been exiling people who talk this way, so I'm a bit shocked anyone would take the risk.

One quibble: when the author talks about "left-wing" media, he means CNN; when he talks about "right-wing" media, he means Hannity. This is a problem and part of the "reality has a strong liberal bias" joke. The equivalent of something like Hannity is probably Daily Kos or The Young Turks. Hannity is an opinion program, not a news program, whether in fact or pretense, and just not comparable to CNN or even NPR. Fox News is, but it's common to see talk radio compared to CNN or NPR.

I'd argue that this exposes a problem. For these programs to be comparable, you need to believe that CNN is basically opinion. It simply isn't; it's almost entirely reportage. The same is true of NPR. You might argue with their reporting priorities, but they're not outlets for agitprop like Hannity or The Daily Show. The implied worldview is pretty strange.*

What's also striking is that there's no movement conservative equivalent of Jacobin. The closest example is the paleo-conservative American Conservative, which many movement types now see as vaguely left-wing and, in fairness, doesn't match up well with the conservative movement anymore.

*Though I keep thinking of John Oliver's joke that the RNCC was more about feelings than facts. Whatever its merits as analysis, it meshes well with a lifetime of reading and watching conservative media. There's a lot more time spent on feelings, especially outrage and fear, than anything else. It really looks like those emotions are more important to conservative audiences, as if the news was more what people felt about events than what happened.___

2016-08-04 01:38:12 (15 comments; 29 reshares; 75 +1s; )Open 

This is a baller move.

Missouri, being Dixie's furthest northern outpost, has historically underfunded its indigent defense system. (Because indigent defense might, horror of horrors, actually help a black person.) This has been pointed out in a series of media reports and adverse federal court decisions, but nothing's been done.

Fortunately, state law gives the public defender's office the right to deputize any active attorney to handle cases that can't be picked up by staff attorneys. The governor is an active attorney. So the public defender's office is deputizing him to serve as counsel in an indigent defense case, and will continue to do so until they're told not to.

This is a baller move.

Missouri, being Dixie's furthest northern outpost, has historically underfunded its indigent defense system. (Because indigent defense might, horror of horrors, actually help a black person.) This has been pointed out in a series of media reports and adverse federal court decisions, but nothing's been done.

Fortunately, state law gives the public defender's office the right to deputize any active attorney to handle cases that can't be picked up by staff attorneys. The governor is an active attorney. So the public defender's office is deputizing him to serve as counsel in an indigent defense case, and will continue to do so until they're told not to.___

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2016-08-02 21:03:33 (43 comments; 3 reshares; 51 +1s; )Open 

It doesn't matter that this is probably a better strategy for the Democratic party. It's also the only ethical strategy.

For the past twenty-two years, the Republican strategy for winning elections has been to utterly delegitimize the opposition. They've done this by creating a closed media ecosystem with very few points of contact with the left-to-moderate media, and by repeatedly cutting off their nose to spite their face. After twenty years of controlling the Supreme Court and the filibuster, they can afford to stand pat and delegitimize any policy proposal from the Democrats.

And if it had been just that bubble -- National Review, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh -- it might have been fine. But over the past ten years, something new has happened: a bubble has developed inside the conservative media bubble. In the outer world, among apparatchiks like Ailes and Kristol and... more »

It doesn't matter that this is probably a better strategy for the Democratic party. It's also the only ethical strategy.

For the past twenty-two years, the Republican strategy for winning elections has been to utterly delegitimize the opposition. They've done this by creating a closed media ecosystem with very few points of contact with the left-to-moderate media, and by repeatedly cutting off their nose to spite their face. After twenty years of controlling the Supreme Court and the filibuster, they can afford to stand pat and delegitimize any policy proposal from the Democrats.

And if it had been just that bubble -- National Review, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh -- it might have been fine. But over the past ten years, something new has happened: a bubble has developed inside the conservative media bubble. In the outer world, among apparatchiks like Ailes and Kristol and Gingrich, it was understood that the delegitimization of the opposition was an electoral strategy, not a fact about the outside world.

In the paranoid, hyper-orthodox inner bubble, no one understands that anymore. They were raised in the outer bubble. They believe it to be true. In the world of NewsMax and WorldNetDaily and the Free Republic, Michael Savage and Trey Gowdy and Joe Wilson, the illegitimacy of political opposition and those cucks in the outer bubble isn't a cynical electoral stance. It's a deep well of personal rage.

There are two ways the Democrats could approach this: they could attempt to tar and feather those in the outer bubble with the crazy beliefs of those in the inner, or they could do what Hillary is doing, and attempt to unite the outer bubble with those of us who live in the evidence-based world. This would create a political opposition which at least exists in the same universe as most Democrats. This is not a path to winning huge electoral majorities for the next ten years.

The alternative plan (viz., forcing the Republicans to double-down on crazy) might be more successful. It's also dangerous to democracy. If the ruling party regards any cooperation with a fundamentally illegitimate opposition as treasonable, then every election becomes a life-or-death struggle over the future of democracy. By extending a lifeline to whatever salvageable parts remain inside the conservative movement, the Democrats have a chance (however slim) to pull the opposition party away from the brink.

In the long term, this is the lower-variance strategy: there's not much chance of securing a durable single-party majority, but there's also not much chance of electing an unstable demagogue as President-for-Life.

(I suppose this is the world we live in now.)___

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2016-08-02 16:48:58 (35 comments; 1 reshares; 44 +1s; )Open 

Conversations From Last Night

A: Veterans. Grieving mothers. Firefighters. I mean, I have no idea what he could possibly do that would be that would be more politically destructive.

S: I dunno -- fight a baby? 

Conversations From Last Night

A: Veterans. Grieving mothers. Firefighters. I mean, I have no idea what he could possibly do that would be that would be more politically destructive.

S: I dunno -- fight a baby? ___

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2016-08-01 22:32:12 (65 comments; 3 reshares; 36 +1s; )Open 

Does anyone really think that Trump is going to concede if he isn't elected? By telling the electorate that the election is rigged, he's laying the groundwork for political violence which will reverberate for a years after this election is settled. 

Does anyone really think that Trump is going to concede if he isn't elected? By telling the electorate that the election is rigged, he's laying the groundwork for political violence which will reverberate for a years after this election is settled. ___

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2016-08-01 21:41:10 (46 comments; 6 reshares; 29 +1s; )Open 

Finally, the Democrats are recognizing rural poverty as a genuine issue. Which is good: some of the poorest places in America aren't inner cities, but the places which are furthest from a rich urban agglomeration. But this is deeply disingenuous for a number of reasons:

(1) In the primaries, the median yearly income of a Trump-voting household was $71k. The median yearly income of both Clinton and Sanders-voting households were $61k. And he's not drawing poorer voters to the polls: the percentage of Republican voters making under $50k/yr fell from 31% to 29% between 2012 and 2016.

(2) The Democratic Party didn't leave poor white voters. Poor white voters left the Democratic Party. More specifically, poor white voters left the party in 1994, when control of the South flipped from Democrats to Republicans, and has been consolidating ever since.

On a... more »

Finally, the Democrats are recognizing rural poverty as a genuine issue. Which is good: some of the poorest places in America aren't inner cities, but the places which are furthest from a rich urban agglomeration. But this is deeply disingenuous for a number of reasons:

(1) In the primaries, the median yearly income of a Trump-voting household was $71k. The median yearly income of both Clinton and Sanders-voting households were $61k. And he's not drawing poorer voters to the polls: the percentage of Republican voters making under $50k/yr fell from 31% to 29% between 2012 and 2016.

(2) The Democratic Party didn't leave poor white voters. Poor white voters left the Democratic Party. More specifically, poor white voters left the party in 1994, when control of the South flipped from Democrats to Republicans, and has been consolidating ever since.

On a statewide level, poor white voters have been voting for conservative politicians in larger and larger numbers. This matters: the safety net is now administered largely at the state level.

(3) ... because Republicans have been steadily moving safety net programs from direct federal administration to increasingly slush-fund-like block grants.

As it stands, only 26% of federal TANF money is spent on direct cash grants. Another 24% is spent on child care and work supports. The rest, however, goes into general conservative-priority slush funds (like promoting marriage), contractors, and administration fees. The same goes for SNP dollars.

This is, incidentally, why red states show a large and growing rate of disability: federal disability programs are the only form of cash support that's out of control of states which have made the decision not to offer meaningful support to citizens in poverty.

(4) And, yes, there's a huge delta between red and blue states in terms of social service spending: of the ten states that spend less than 10% of their TANF funding on something you might understand as "welfare," all but one are deep-red states. The only red states that spend more than 30% on actual cash grants are Tennessee and Kentucky.

(5) And this is a little petty, but the woman pictured in this story is not some proud hillbilly. She's a millionaire who's a regular guest at Mar-a-Lago. ___

2016-08-01 06:01:36 (22 comments; 3 reshares; 20 +1s; )Open 

So, in any given poll, when given a ridiculous question, a certain number of respondents will respond with the most ridiculous answer available. That's how you end up with 10% or so of people reporting that they were abducted by aliens, that they believe in fairies, that they believe the sun orbits the earth, et cetera.

So, while it's best for epistemic hygiene not to believe there's result, how do you think this plays out in this election?

So, in any given poll, when given a ridiculous question, a certain number of respondents will respond with the most ridiculous answer available. That's how you end up with 10% or so of people reporting that they were abducted by aliens, that they believe in fairies, that they believe the sun orbits the earth, et cetera.

So, while it's best for epistemic hygiene not to believe there's result, how do you think this plays out in this election?___

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2016-07-29 23:18:18 (23 comments; 1 reshares; 21 +1s; )Open 

___

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2016-07-29 20:45:49 (102 comments; 16 reshares; 119 +1s; )Open 

"When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak... as being spit on by the rest of the world."

-- Donald Trump, on Tienanmen Square

"When the students poured into Tiananmen Square, the Chinese government almost blew it. Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength. That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak... as being spit on by the rest of the world."

-- Donald Trump, on Tienanmen Square___

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2016-07-29 17:55:43 (14 comments; 8 reshares; 58 +1s; )Open 

So, the 4th Circuit has struck down North Carolina's monstrous voter-suppression law. But I think the articles on how momentous this decision is -- and it's huge -- are understating its actual effect.

Because the 4th Circuit contains every plausible Southern swing state except Florida. 

So, the 4th Circuit has struck down North Carolina's monstrous voter-suppression law. But I think the articles on how momentous this decision is -- and it's huge -- are understating its actual effect.

Because the 4th Circuit contains every plausible Southern swing state except Florida. ___

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2016-07-29 17:48:29 (17 comments; 2 reshares; 23 +1s; )Open 

“I, ryan c, man, am an idiot of the ‘Legal Society’; and; am an idiot (layman, outsider) of the ‘Bar Association’; and; i am incompetent; and; am not required by any law to be competent."

I've been saying this guy is an idiot for a long time. And there's finally a notarized court filing to back me up.

“I, ryan c, man, am an idiot of the ‘Legal Society’; and; am an idiot (layman, outsider) of the ‘Bar Association’; and; i am incompetent; and; am not required by any law to be competent."

I've been saying this guy is an idiot for a long time. And there's finally a notarized court filing to back me up.___

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2016-07-29 03:46:55 (25 comments; 0 reshares; 28 +1s; )Open 

Word. Scott Adams is 100,000 roaches in a human-suit:

Word. Scott Adams is 100,000 roaches in a human-suit:___

2016-07-28 20:22:00 (4 comments; 0 reshares; 16 +1s; )Open 

Hypocrisy is a virtue when betraying one's worst convictions.

Hypocrisy is a virtue when betraying one's worst convictions.___

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2016-07-28 19:30:25 (17 comments; 2 reshares; 49 +1s; )Open 

important because +Lala lololvulvanoodlesfork 

important because +Lala lololvulvanoodlesfork ___

2016-07-28 16:51:20 (19 comments; 0 reshares; 17 +1s; )Open 

Religious conservatives are freaking out. Trump has no use for them and the Democrats are openly hostile. I feel like they have only themselves to blame: they took a path to power that burned a lot of bridges. Their strength was the ability to push their agenda while conservatives were powerful and defend it while weak through the prospect of a rollback after the next election.

Whatever your opinion of religious liberties, you have to recognize that politics has a dice-rolling quality to it. Anyone might be ascendant at any time, holding a lot of power thanks to how a the world shook out for a week. It helps immensely to have a large number of allies and religious conservatives tried hard to push people away. Prospectively, that was an obvious outcome: the religious right, in its own outlets, admitted that they were putting all their eggs in a single basket. They were proud of it and they were... more »

Religious conservatives are freaking out. Trump has no use for them and the Democrats are openly hostile. I feel like they have only themselves to blame: they took a path to power that burned a lot of bridges. Their strength was the ability to push their agenda while conservatives were powerful and defend it while weak through the prospect of a rollback after the next election.

Whatever your opinion of religious liberties, you have to recognize that politics has a dice-rolling quality to it. Anyone might be ascendant at any time, holding a lot of power thanks to how a the world shook out for a week. It helps immensely to have a large number of allies and religious conservatives tried hard to push people away. Prospectively, that was an obvious outcome: the religious right, in its own outlets, admitted that they were putting all their eggs in a single basket. They were proud of it and they were certain that they had a permanent lock on power.

I suspect the movement is finished. What the consequences will be aren't clear.

As a coda, I think they way overstepped on gay marriage. That issue seems to have done more damage than any others. And I think the reason is pretty obvious even in theological terms. If you look at the theological justifications given, it's a metaphysical-cum-moral issue. Arguments of that form make strong cases but the premises are correspondingly hard to justify.[1] So they should have recognized that it would be hard to achieve public justification.[2] Strategically, their best outcome would have been "civil unions for all", but there was too much resistance to further secularizing the government. The result was a severe blow to their legitimacy in politics. Had they took my proposed route, you'd not be hearing about discrimination cases over weddings. The wedding would have no legal aspects and it would be easier to separate sentiment from writ.

[1] Alternatively, they struggle with specification problems and other peculiar diseases of very strong arguments. Kant, for instance, has he issue that I can will as universal law anything with enough parameters to pick out only a single event.

[2] A benefit of Rawls was always how well it captured a good chunk of how we think public discourse ought to operate anyhow, pulling norms together into an extensible framework.___

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