Sunday assorted links

1. The economics and behavioral economics of pimping and recruiting prostitutes.

2. “This glass fits around your nose so you can smell wine as you drink it.”  NB: the link serves up some noise to you.

3. “The state’s manual for execution procedures, which was revised last month, says attorneys of death row inmates, or others acting on their behalf, can obtain pentobarbital or sodium Pentothal and give them to the state to ensure a smooth execution.”  Link here, that is Arizona.

4. Here is my old interview with Atlantic on my news diet.  A few of you requested an update.  These days it is more Twitter, fewer blogs, more Bloomberg View, and less reliance on news magazines (though some remain excellent).  Inexplicably, on the first go-round I forgot to mention TLS and London Review of Books, I get Book Forum too  Most of all, I rely more on what people email me and tell me about.  Very recently, Twitter is more dramatic and sometimes more entertaining but also less useful for anything practical; my time allocation methods have yet to adjust but they will.

5. “It is possible to travel coast to coast—from, say, Coos Bay, Oregon, to Wilmington, North Carolina—without passing through a single county that Hillary Clinton won. Indeed there are several such routes.”  That is from Christopher Caldwell.  And new and long profile of Peter Navarro.

6. Workman’s cafe in France accidentally awarded a Michelin star.  And Hong Kong food trucks show that economy really isn’t as free as you might think (NYT).


3. We strive to make execution look humane for ourselves, so much more than we strive to make it actually humane for the prisoner. Madame Guillotine was much more humane, actually, than botched lethal injection.

I oppose the death penalty, but if we do it, it should probably be a bullet to the back of the head.

No, pure nitrogen gas would be the most humane. You don't feel any discomfort before you black out. You don't feel suffucation because that feeling is caused by accumulation of carbon dioxide, which does not happen if you're freely breathing pure nitrogen. There was a famous incident at NASA during the Space Shuttle program when several people were killed when they walked into a shuttle that had been purged with nitrogen. They weren't aware of any problem before blacking out. Nitrogen is cheap and readily available. Accidental release of small amounts is not dangerous, because nitrogen is 77% of Earth's atmosphere. You can purge the gas chamber with air and vent the nitrogen to the atmosphere without any treatment of the waste gas.

That sounds fine then.

Decompression (Vacuum) chambers work even better than nitrogen ... and have been used by veterinarian to painlessly euthanize cats/dogs/etc for over half a century. Very simple and reliable.

The lethal-drug method is incredibly complex, unreliable, expensive, often traumatic, and stupid -- just what you expect from the government.

As someone noted here, it seems the government does not want the general public to know how easy/painless death can be... so that suicide does not become a more attractive option generally.

I don't see how that would be better. Your ears would pop and you wouldn't be able to inhale. With nitrogen, there's no trauma and you can inhale freely. Also, the chamber wouldn't need to be built to withstand a large pressure difference. It could just be a room with good weather stripping around the door jambs.

Even better is we offer all-you-can-drink vodka for 12 hours to anyone who volunteers for the accelerated capital punishment program, and we gas 'em during the subsequent period of unconsciousness. That would be about as humane as you could get. I bet there'd be lots of volunteers currently on death row for that. Heck, you'd probably have some lifers volunteering.

Sorry, you were sentenced to life imprisonment. You're not eligible for the program.

"Your ears would pop and you wouldn’t be able to inhale..."

No, you just get light-headed and pass out peacefully.

(the ear stuff is like flying a commercial jet airliner, unless you have a head cold or something)

Well supervised Decompression-Chambers are routinely used to train pilots & aircrews in how to recognize hypoxia symptoms when flying at higher altitudes... and encountering faulty aircraft oxygen systems or loss of aircraft pressurization. Unconsciousness is certainly not part of that formal training, but it happens sometimes-- if no one was around to put a functional oxygen mask back on you-- you would expire peacefully in a short time.

Cost wise, there already many of these Decompression-Chambers around and they only cost a few cents of electricity to run the vacuum pump.

Clearly, you've looked into this. What about gradually increasing the percentage of nitrous oxide until the end? It could be offered to death row perps on a trial basis maybe once or twice max(to keep abuse down). I predict there would be many tokers, oops takers.

For myself, I would want my lawyer to insist on a full one hour transition, as opposed to your harsh six second edict.

That's no good. You'd be able to feel the effect of the gas before you die, which could be alarming and panic-inducing. You can't feel nitrogen before you black out.

Lubricate the journey with vodka, and the soon-to-be-deceased will be able to reacquaint with an old friend before saying goodbye.

The method of painless death is well known to conservatives. They have spent a lot of time trying to prosecute those who provide instruction and assistance to those who want to die painlessly.

The problem is painless death is the last thing death penalty advocates want. The last thing pro-death advocates want is easy death.

The last thing conservatives want is killing without blood, violence, piercing the body.

The cost of a bottle of nitrogen is $30 and the bottle costs $100 and the regulator about $100, and with that plus some tubing and plastic film for an enclosure you can kill hundreds of people or even thousands of people of you put them all in the same enclosure. And refilling the bottle of nitrogen costs just $30.

Seriously dude, this is a cry for help.

Ah, is there anything more beautiful and more predictable than the liberal who rushes to his keyboard to anonymously exclaim to strangers on the internet that he is ABSOLUTELY AGAINST the death penalty; so primal is his urge to virtue signal that he would even risk spilling his herbal tea; so strong are His Feelings that the fact that he is a laughably trained puppet will ever seep through to Him.

Carry on, Brave Warrior.

Shrug. You probably cannot imagine the degree to which this comment does not .. sorry dozed off there .. excite me.

I oppose the death penalty for a simple reason. Human systems, including governments, are fallible. Once you execute a convicted killer, there is no do-over. Even if something like genetic testing is invented. Oops, sorry we killed you there.

Perhaps it is odd that so many who strongly distrust government, and lately even courts and judges still support the death penalty?

This presupposes that dead people as a result of private initiative are somehow preferable to dead people as the result of government effort. It is an unusual position for the Left to take - or the Right for that matter - but all you are arguing is that more deaths are better as long as the government is not involved somehow.

We know that convicted criminals go on to kill again. Criminals very rarely start out with murder unless they kill their wife. They learn and they escalate. Putting them in prison makes it harder for them to kill again but it does not make it impossible. They kill guards. They kill each other. They rape weaker prisoners and spread HIV. All of this is preferable to killing them?

The famous Emory study showed that each execution deterred between 8 and 28 murders. With a mean of 18. So unless about one in twenty people executed by the state are actually innocent, executions save more innocent lives than they take. There is no reason to oppose them at all.

Unless you really believe in the superiority of the private sector over the government.

(I also note that this is not an attitude of people with actual responsibility. People who complain about the death penalty invariably do it from a position lacking in any real power. When people are put in power they usually find the death penalty is necessary. The Hard Left usually abolishes the death penalty when it comes to power only to restore it in weeks. Since politicians start ignoring Christians they have become opposed to it. When they were in power or had significant influence, they were fine with it. So it is like the carping of eunuchs in a hareem. They are fascinated, disgusted but they have neither the ability nor the responsibility. They should be ignored.)

That was an interesting enough claim that I searched it. I mean, I am a "first, do no harm" guy, but could this cruel math be true?


I see your point, but we also can't undo long prison sentences and wrecked lives from sticking the wrong guy in prison for twenty years. I'd prefer to do away with the death penalty, but I'm a lot more interested in seeing our justice system get the right answer as often as possible. And if we are going to execute people, we should find some basically foolproof and painless way to do it, but not worry a bit about making it look sanitary.

What a useless comment.

There is an old Monty Python bit where a condemned man chooses to be chased off a cliff by a platoon of topless women. No arguing tastes, I suppose, but without hesitation I can tell you that I would choose a 10-gauge shotgun to the back of the head, super-magnum double-aught buckshot. I'd never know what hit me. But that's not pleasant to the witnesses, or maybe even to the executioners. For a century and more, we've wanted a "clean" death for the condemned--not necessarily a humane one.

3. I'm not big on "signs of our decline" memes, but this development of states who can't manage to kill their death row inmates is bizarre. I don't know how it could be a sign of anything else. I mean, if there is anything states have a demonstrated skill set in, it is killing. The state could be defined as a "monopoly on violence". A large function of the government is to maintain the means and tactics for killing invaders, extreme criminal risks, etc. In the meantime, private citizens manage to humanely kill terminally ill pets every day. The state generally makes it illegal to do this for people. Yet, every day, across the country, forced to do this illicitly, people manage to hasten the peaceful death of loved ones when they determine that it is the most humane thing to do.

And, the state, faced with this task on occasion, suddenly becomes tweedle dum. The state that is now asked to perform a thousand jobs can't even meet the "you had one job" standard.

The state gets lots of things done well, both simple and complicated. Was there ever a clearer sign that this simply should not be done? When something so easy is obstructed and bungled, it means that the will to do it isn't actually there.

Good point.

#5 is worth noting and remembering.

As is this observation:

There is no law of physics, biology, or even political economy, that requires any particular person be treated well or have a good result in society. In human affairs, eventual death is the only thing naturally assured.

6a. I think I might prefer the lasagna.

Eventually they'll move to nitrogen for executions. Nitrogen makes up 78% of the air we breathe and is probably responsible for more deaths than any other industrial gas because it is colorless, odorless and non toxic. Nitrogen kills via hypoxia, which is painless and actually mildly euphoric. You simply fit a breathing mask (no doctor required, anyone with a little training can do it) to the condemned and turn on the tank,. There's no danger if some of the gas is accidentally released in a well ventilated room. It's very widely available for industrial use, so its supply can't be restricted by death penalty opponents.

The continued use of problematic execution methods when such a safe and humane method is available is another example of government failure.

Using gas to kill those deemed worthy of being killed by the state for its own goals -sounds oddly familiar.

The Nazis had government-built roads, too. How do you feel about the interstate highway system?

Can't allow a anyone to know how to kill one's self easily and painlessly and undetectable.

Conservatives spend a lot of effort prosecuting those explaining how to easily kill yourself, fighting the first amendment.

Just imagine what would happen if nitrogen were used to execute people.

Nitrogen gas would need to be declared a controlled substance and every liter accounted for to the DEA.

This is a perfect illustration of how leftism at its core is just freedom for aggression. Mulp craves a society in which mentally warped people can prey on anxieties and apply ever ratcheting up pressure on people to commit self-slaughter.

Suicide is not illegal in this country. The fact that mulp won't rest until people are allowed to unleash high pressure suicide advocacy on the world is a chilling reminder of how leftist autonomy is endlessly expansive and insatiable. It's also a reminder of how people who think overdraft fees are some kind of conspiracy against the poor think doctors should be converted into instruments of industrial scale killing.

I'm starting to understand how some people thought it would be better to write off some deep enders as mentally ill.

Can you please join us in a little bit more reality-based dicussion? I don't think you're going to convince anywhere with your nonsensical propaganda here. Except, maybe, for yourself.

To my knowledge, self-puppeting is not among the best behaviours for individual freedom, cognitive liberty or mental health.

Nathan the day something I write seems convincing to your bitterness and loneliness addled mind is the day I stop posting. You are basically everything I find contemptible in human beings. Weak, officious, wordy, unoriginal, ugly, bitter, and whiny.

FYI, maybe mixing up a bit "Sam the Sham" and "Sam Hayson". The second of you is much less deserving of some of the verbal lashings administered.

If you check some of what he said, it may not be too difficult to see how I could misread your intent and meaning in view of what else would be connected with it ...

I take back what I just said. The most recent bit only.

6a Le Bouch a Oreille. My french is quebecois, and I've never heard this expression. Word of mouth?

Sounds like a great place to get lunch. Tyler, you must tell us about it when you next go to France.

Surprising that it doesn't exist in Quebecois. Yes, "word of mouth". A quite frequently used expression in French, in sentences like: "this movie received no advertisement, but after two weeks of *bouche-à-oreilles*, everyone wanted to see it".

#4 - "Most of all, I rely more on what people email me and tell me about." - this is bad TC, bad. It means you're relying more on what your reader Ray Lopez is sending you, and that is not representative of mainstream America.

5. Of course, the advantage of having a political base of ignoramuses is that, being ignoramuses, they are clueless and will believe just about anything. Several of Cowen's recent blog posts have alluded to Jeffersonianism, which stresses an agrarian economy and rural society along with minimal government. Minimal government? Can you say Louisiana Purchase, Barbary War, and generational sovereignty. Well, it's true that Madison's better judgment prevailed on Jefferson not to mention generational sovereignty in the company of anyone other than ignoramuses, fearing that Jefferson might be considered one of them (an ignoramus). I haven't yet received my copy of Cowen's new book, but in trying to figure out how Cowen went from an optimistic globalist to inward looking pessimist (destroy the village to save it, whic is a variation of generational sovereignty), yesterday I read the transcript of his conversation with Peter Thiel. I recommend it. Don't watch the video, as I did back in 2015. Read the words. There's the book in those words. I think Thiel is a very interesting guy, but he desperately needs his own Madison. What is a patriot?

Which one is the political base of ignoramuses?

"It is possible to travel coast to coast—from, say, Coos Bay, Oregon, to Wilmington, North Carolina—without passing through a single county that Hillary Clinton won."

But can one do that and go back to the starting point without passing through the same more than once? If one can, what would be the shortest route to do so? Another question: Is it possible for all liberals go to Canada without passing even once throught a county Clinton list?

First question: obviously you can, just look at the map

Second question: I'm not a salesman.

Last question: if you live in New York, New York (a.k.a. Manhattan) you can't.

There is a chokepoint around North Carolina's shore. It is the perfect point for concentrating forces for a massive attack. Winning there, Democrats would be able to block Republicans indefinitely. They also need to keep the heat on Northeastern Maine. I think taking as few as twenty counties in 2020 would be enough to prevent people from going from one coast to the other and returning without passing through a county Clinton and without passing through a count more than once. If East Pennsylvania falls, New Jersey Republicans would be cut off reinforcements. A coordinated attack can take care of that. How much of Clinton's campaign money is left?

It's also possible to travel from Texas to Canada by road without ever passing through any city with high income.

If they really wanted to get to Canada, probably their time is worth too much to bother with such games, and will just catch a driect flight from one urban economic powerhouse centre to another. However, some others might very much appreciate the opportunity to take the indirect route at leisure, and meet some of the lovely folks they share the nation with. (Maybe drop some $$$$ along the way!)

There is also the homor issue. Maybe Americans understand its importance. When our former colonial masters, the Portuguese royal family were fleeing the invading Napoleonic troops, says the legend, the Mad Queen Mary said to her coachman: "Go slower or they will think we are fleeing". A famous Brazilian Portuguese, Pinheiro Machado, the power behind the president in the 1910s, had a similar remark to his driver when they were surrounded by a furious rabble: "Neither so fast they think we are fleeing nor so slow they think we are mocking them". Liberals' retreat must be calm and dignified. No panic, no helicopters leaving the roof of the NYT or the Whole Food in a hasty. Like Mr. MacArthur and the Terminator, they will be back.

* honor
*in a hurry

Whatever. Elections occur periodically.

Most of the shift these days seems to be a rejection of all the things that orthodoxy says caused great wealth and power.

Like, the autarky vs. trade examples deviously planted into introductory economics.

The question of whether people want to be free? Such views receive almost mockery from some quarters these days, and try to wave the US flag in the same moment as doing so. How do you call something right wing when it's basically asking "please bring a job to my front door and also do my thinking for me".

This practically epitomizes the most legitimate criticisms of the generally irrational expectations held by the least worldly on the left. And, dovetails almost perfectly into any plan towards increased ease of shifting into aggressive militancy with reduced interruption.

Said a guy when Hitler became Chancellor. Or when Palpatine got extraordinary powers to fight the Separatists.

"How do you call something right wing when it’s basically asking 'please bring a job to my front door and also do my thinking for me'."

It can be Huey Long and it be can "Pat" Buchanan.

But here's the thing you personally don't make much money at all so how do you take in pleasure in this? For instance it's probally very frequent for you to spend holidays surrounded by no family members and friends. Does the fact that Harry Reid is surrounded by relatives only one of whom has kick the sh@t out of him in the past two years make you feel less lonely?

I guess what I'm saying is I get the best of both worlds a political coalition entering a period of decades long dominance and a lot more money than you.

Who has to worry about lonely holidays if there are random people online to remind about lonely holidays?

Sam, your preference and proclivity towards insulting strangers demonstrates that in fact you are very very low inside. I hope you can find a way to recitfy this situation while still being able to hold your head half high in the meantime.

It's a little late to complain about insults now Nathan- you try to insult me too you just suck at it and I'm a lot thicker skinned than you.

I'm extremely upfront about the fact that I find you contemptible-don't read my comments honestly if you can't take being insulted.

Considering that you started your comment with some diminishign claim with regard to what is commonly regarded as the first or second main source of male pride (one being money and the other being possession of a cock that can elicit orgasms in females) ... I think it's fair to say that you kinda started it.

But go on, your faux victimhood is very becoming.

The Caldwell article is everything great punditry should be... simultaneously insightful and facile. And the last sentence is the kicker...

Insightful how? Maybe I'm too far in my coastal liberal bubble, but I didn't see anything I haven't read a hundred times since the election.

"The Caldwell article is everything great punditry should be… simultaneously insightful and facile. "

Agreed, it was pretty good. Though I found the last sentence to be too melodramatic and not as good as the rest of the essay.

Caldwell might be insightful if you couldn't change his piece to be about Gore v. Bush and make completely identical points.

Stopped reading when he said Democrats invented trans people though so maybe I missed something.

The mechanisms of mixed gender in fetal development are relatively well understood, so people with both male AND female parts, that's one thing.

But XX girls who think they should have male genitals and XY boys who think God intended them to have female genitals (males in female bodies and females in male bodies)... I dunno, something funky about that.

I don't see any value in calling it dysfunction though. If a girl thinks she would feel more natural would a small appendage hanging from her XX midsection .... will that make her a less good citizen, worker, mother/father, etc? Probably only if you've got a bunch of people gong around telling Mr XX that he's a mental case and an evolutionary F-up.

It would really be much better if this were a "who the hell cares" sort of issue. Maybe later ...

You're an idiot.

Na, just took some biology courses at one of the top research universities in the world.

Considering you advanced age Im positive whatever mid-tier commuter school you attended taught you nothing about gender dysphoria so how is that relevant.

P.S. People that go to good schools name then. Kind of like how only Cornell people claim to have gone to an "Ivy League school." Otherwise you say Penn or Princeton or Harvard or Brown etc.

Troll me February 19, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Na, just took some biology courses at one of the top research universities in the world.

And you now correct Chinese people's English. An appeal to authority is a poor argument. An appeal to a long-ago proximity to authority is worse still.

There are also those whose sense of self worth is achieved by defining others as mentally ill.

Sam, you're just brainwashed, not a mental case.

Considering you advanced age [...]

I could have sworn Nathan W. was a teenager.

Nope 65+ lonely English tutor in China. You know a real rise of the creative class type. A pretty good approximation of what the id of the left looks and sounds like.

Do we have a 'good understanding' of how gender is expressed in brain development? Do we know which leads, biology outside the brain or inside? In other words, does the brain just follow 'the parts down south' in becoming male or female or does the brain itself carry a gender imprint that 99% of the time aligns with all the other parts but doesn't always?

But the points aren't identical. Maybe you missed the parts about the (possibly, tentative) revolt against traditional Republican values, which Bush represented only to the extent that his "compassionate conservatism" was exactly what Caldwell points out was rejected. This, I think, was the "won't get fooled again election," but as, Caldwell points out, all that means is that the middle of the country won't get fooled *in the same way* again. Whatever else you can say about trump, he hasn't simply acquiesced to traditional Republican tropes. The policies may turn out to be the same, or not. That's the last sentence, which there is no conceivable way one could have written about Bush.

I don't think anyone has convincingly pinned down the "why" part of people voting for Trump.

The position seems to start from the assumption that Trump's rejection of supports like social security, etc., is the causal reason for people to have voted Trump. However, isn't support for these same programs very nearly as high among Republicans as Democrats?

I think a desire for massive change + knowing Clinton was a status quo option, plus maybe some racist fervour manifested with build a wall chants, is probably the main story. The problem is that the specific reasons for "desire for massive change" plus "Clinton's status quo so why bother..." ...well, are we any more free to talk about why that might be relevant with Trump at the helm than Clinton? Too early to tell ...

Individuals have reasons for their actions, but collective actions like elections don't necessarily have any coherent reasoning. They have causes, not intentions. My guess it that Trump winning has a lot to do with the way media has changed over the last decade, and even more with social media. His high-offense, high-outrage style of interacting with media is a perfect fit for their need for an outrage of the moment.

Thanks. The Rousseaian concept of "the general will" or some such thing is often pervasive, and argumentation like you just made is important to keep in mind.

Some of the analysis thorugh the Monkey Cage is pretty consistent with being attentive to such source of poor analysis, but it seems that everyone's trying to find some simple explanation of one or two reasons why one identifiable group all did the same thing (vote Trump).

Never hurts to be reminded that nothing is monolithic.

Indeed, something to consider many red counties may in fact be blue counties simply by blue people deciding to just vote. How much of the election might have been simple comfort with the status quo. An assumption that while Congressional politics was dominated by yahoos the white house was protected by a magical shield and it would be ok if you just sit this election out? That coupled with misunderstanding Nate Silver's claim that Trump 'only' had a 30% or so chance of winning.

"This, I think, was the “won’t get fooled again election"

I think it would be instructive to count how many times they were fooled the same way bynthe Republicans (you can also count for the Democrats, but they are separate problem). Because it reminds me the joke about the lady who was being touched in a wrong way by a guy in a bus, and she said, "gentleman, unless you take your hands from my buttocks in the next fifty minutes, I will warn the driver." I am not one to blame the victim, but if you won't be fooled for the 300th time maybe you are part of the problem.

Portuguese has more words for groped on public transportation than Eskimos have for snow. But no word for punctuality. It's why Brazil is a great place to occasionally see a picture of but not live in or visit.

Well, at least you give a shit about women when it gives you the opportunity to raise yourself by insulting entire nations.

No, it doesn't. And if it did, it would be the Portugueses' fault. Brazilian soldiers don't rape Japanese schoolgirls. But I guess it is better than being nuked again so they can't complain.

Troll me gives a ton of shit about women through his infra-red binoculars.

#1, on pimping, is superficial, weak, and not worth a read.
One of the most popular and influential African-American books (in terms of sales), authored by an African-American writer Robert Beck, is "Pimp: The Story of My Life." If you want to learn about the economics and psychology of pimping there it is; a relatively short, well-told, intrepid story of duplicity and mind-fuckery; horrific and clever and interesting. Those of you white-bread readers on these blog have probably never heard of that book. At the least, those of you who like hip-hop have undoubtedly heard of Iceberg Slim. Rather than serving up these kind of weak, superficial interviews of convicted criminals, offering up coaxed contrition and "don't do it" cliches, Cowen should offer up something up something of substance on this important and disgusting topic.

My guess is Tyler's only interest in #1 was the going price - useful for his travel budgeting as well as negotiations.

While perhaps amusing to some, there is no need for such ad hominem barbing on Mr. Cowen. There are some worthwhile posts from time to time here (e.g. on the movie Ixcanul, which I may have missed otherwise). However, all to often there are numerous posts that betray a paucity of thought. Moreover, that fact that Mr. Cowen, and Lawrence Summers re-introduced stagnation as a concept into political-economy would be somewhat laudable were it not for the fact that both give no credit to earlier scholar's rich discuss of this topic, namely, as I've mentioned in other unheeded comments:

Dr. Josef Steindl's pioneering work, Maturity and Stagnation in American Capitalism, appeared in 1952. Thereafter, stagnation was written about by Harvard economist Paul Sweezy, starting with his magnum opus in 1966, Monopoly Capital. Even then Sweezy linked stagnation in the real economy to a host of factors, one of which would be the ascendence of finance ('fictious capital' in the Marxian vernacular). Later, in 1985 Sweezy would write, Stagnation and the Financial Explosion. 

5a/b. I was a Reagan Republican, but even in Reagan's time I was not all in. I wanted a re-centering on things that worked. My memory may be faulty, but I think I trusted Republicans to be more pragmatic, less ideological, than Democrats until .. perhaps late Contract With America. For me, they slipped ties to pragmatic governance. I became one of those waves of RINOs, then defectors, not to join the Democrats but to be an independent. Since then I have basically listened to pragmatic wonks and opposed ideological (non)solutions.

The problem today might be that pragmatists are thin on the ground. Democrats had wonks, even if they also had social justice warriors. Now that those writers of Whitehouse whitepapers are gone, is it just ideologue vs ideologue?

Of course, if you de-wonk government it does become pure culture war. 5a seems to be about that possible future. Is 5b wonkish? Or is it ideological? I worry, since the anti-China arguments are so emotional, they are not very analytical. Particularly when Whitehouse insiders reportedly seek conflict with China.

I'm not opposed to pragmatism, I just don't see it as any different than being a relatively loyal Democratic voter today. Trump's victory and the Republican response only confirms what I've believed to be true about the Republican parts since about 2005 - any institutional commitment to quality governance is completely gone.

The Democratic party is no exemplar of course and the dependence on identity politics and the growing influence of leftist thought is not a favorable trend. But I still maintain a strong preference for them over Republicans. Actually, a Democratic Pres/Senate and Republican house is not too bad of a compromise (get rid of the debt ceiling would be nice). Post-WJC Democrats just cannot help spending too much money. And I wish they would tack back to the center instead of drifting further left, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen. I think the problem is that Dems center of political mass is now CA. Breeds the wrong type of thinking. Probably things keep getting worse until Texas swings blue. I think that is the first step towards things getting better, in both parties.

I hear that Democrats also frequently and openly muse about things that they disagree with the president about, in cases when there is a Democrat president. For example, quite a lot of outlets that reported critically on drone assassinations, it's pretty safe to bet that the non-libertarian ones were almost exclusively Democrat, and that did not stop them.

So, following on the theme of "I was big Reagan supporter, but reserved the right to independent thought on diverse issues", well, I'm just suggesting that Republicans whose preference is highly tribalist thinking ... y'know, they could at least privately disagree with the president, within the freedom of their own minds, even if they don't want to gang up on him when he does something stupid of particular note.

So basically a super super tiertiary issue. Aren't you even the least bit embarrassed that that is what you came up with?

Willingness of Republicans to call Trump a liar or dumb in specific instances where he lies or does something dumb very possibly numbers among the top few most important things on the planet right now.

The reason that there are no Republican wonks is because being Republican is completely anathema to the bureaucratic class. 95%+ of the Federal Civil Service is Democrat. Similar number for career academics, journalists and think tank workers. Try having a DC career and publicly expressing any opinion held by the conservative tercile of Americans. Something like gay marriage should be banned, young-earth creationism, or that blacks are poorer because they don't work as hard as whites. Heck, try getting invited to cocktail parties after you've made it known that you voted for the current president.

These may sound like abhorrent beliefs to you, but they're held by at least 100 million Americans. Yet the political intelligentsia treats those beliefs roughly the same way that the medieval church treated catharism. Don't be surprised when the commanding heights of government don't in any way reflect the broader American electorate.

Here's an exercise try to think of an equivalent left-wing heresy that would get you blackballed from the Bombay Club. Maybe outright Stalinism or denial of the Cambodian genocide. Maybe, but even Noam Chomsky is more "edgy" than haram. Now what percent of Americans hold that belief. I guarantee you for anything plausible, you're talking about at least the 98th percentile of left-wing opinions.


If Republicans held all 5o state legislatures AND the national senate AND the house of representatives AND the president's office ...

What sort of manipulations would be used to claim being the underdog from the ruling roost under such a situation?
I mean, Republican DO control the vast majority of state legislatures AND the senate AND the house of respresentatitives AND the president's office ... and here you are stlil trying to pain this picture of the underdog.

To what lengths of logical absurdity can you go before you stop believing yourself? Might you personally claim yourself the victim from the president's chair, much like the thin-skinned man presently at the helm?

Republicans have controlled the Supreme Court, Congress and most state legislatures for years, as well as the Commanding Heights of the Economy. The bizarre social envy Republicans, including most obviously our President, seem to feel towards Democratic elites in Hollywood, journalism and academia is nothing short of bizarre.

When 95 percent of the media universities and pop culture of this country is to the right of the Republican Party then I would admit that conservatism was the dominant ideology of this country regardless of electoral success. The fact that you can't acknowledge the overwhelming support for hard leftism among most of the influential levers of society speaks to the dullness of your mind.

Well, when 100% of the statistics I pull out of may ass are 99% bullshit, I guess whatever I say just rules, eh?

Nathan if you actually had stats up your butt how would the gerbil fit? Those aren't facts you are old and in need of prune juice. And gerbil bait.

But how influential are they, really?

"The fact that you can’t acknowledge the overwhelming support for hard leftism among most of the influential levers of society"

How they are the most influential levers of scoiety if their prefered candidates loose all the main elections?

"When 95 percent of the media universities and pop culture of this country is to the right of the Republican Party then I would admit that conservatism was the dominant ideology of this country regardless of electoral success."

TRANSLATION: Only when Lindsey Lohan is willing to sleep with me will I admit the world is unbiased towards right wing Republicans!

Martyr Complex. The same thing goes for right-wing academics in Economics (the queen of the social sciences which is dominated by right-wing thought) who have an extensive following and name recognition, author books which are widely read and whose reviews are circulated across popular media, pen widely read columns on popular sites, such as Bloomberg, and yet maintain pro-capitalist libertarian-leaning views are denied the platforms of legitimate discourse in Academia. Many REAL LEFT Economists would love to be censored in this way.

"Many REAL LEFT Economists would love to be censored in this way."

It took me a minute to get it. Indeed, many would give up just about anything to receive such censorship as the right wing suffers at the hands of the media elite.

Well excluding the Post Office, the Federal Civil Service constitutes 2 million people. Political appointees constitute 4,000 people. So the president has the awesome power of changing 0.2% of the workforce. The other 99.8% have total job protection and are nearly all hate the president's guts. Imagine if during the post-WWII occupation of Germany the Allied Forces deposed of Himmler, Heydrich and a few other top officers, but maintained 99.8% of the SS rank-and-file in place without any change.

Eisenhower would every now and then half-heartedly say "hey guys, cut it out", and a few rabbis were appointed to some largely ceremonial high-ranking positions. But they don't have any ability to actually fire any tenured SS officer, except on a case-by-case basis involving an extremely drawn out and expensive hearing. The SS just keeps on doing it's day-to-day, such that it's actually impossible to tell that the leadership changed besides for Hitler's portrait got taken down. Eisenhower tries to shut down Auschwitz, but the Prussian Appeals Court keeps blocking his orders. The SS' twitter account even defiantly continues to post passages from Mein Kampf. Eisenhower just mentions the possibility of deleting the roster of known Jews, and SS officers smuggle out that data onto Github. Despite being illegal, no prosecutions or disciplinary action takes place. Would you say the Nazi regime has been thoroughly replaced?

The only difference between the above scenario and today is that the SS are bad guys, and the "resist" people are good guys. But democracy is just defined as "rule by the people", not "rule by the non-bigoted, well-informed, cosmopolitan sub-cultures of the people". The fact is current US federal policy is highly skewed relative to the actual opinion of the electorate. At least half of Americans with an opinion support the travel ban, want to repeal the ACA, support a wall with Mexico, support a reduction in the total number of federal regulations, want federal laws prohibiting state bans on handguns, and want a higher incarceration rate. After the greatest conservative electoral victory in a generation, what do you want to bet that even half of those things get done in the next four years?

I'm an an-cap, I don't have a dog in this fight. Natural law trumps the whims of the mob. But I'm almost positive you're a (small-d) democrat. So why is it morally acceptable that we have this feature in our government that consistently undermines the democratic will of the entire right half of the electorate?

The fact that Trump cannot fire 99.8% of people working in public service does not constitute an argument that they are therefore rabid Marxists or some such thing.

Slightly related observation: When a politican or political states a specific group to be in his crosshairs, the people in those crosshairs do not tend to give that politician a lot of applause.

I never said that they were rabid Marxists. Only that they're significantly skewed relative to the broader electorate. Such that there's no way any unbiased observer could conclude that we have a "government of the people, by the people, for the people".

"According to The Hill, 95 percent of federal employees who donated money to presidential campaigns spent it on the Clinton campaign through the end of September." [Let that sink in, only 1 in 20 Federal workers support the national winner of the presidential election...]

Democracy simply means that the electorate is in control of the government. A simple corollary of that is that one party winning a "historical electoral victory" should imply that the government should quickly shift to resembling that party. (Any bets on whether 95% of federal employees in 2020 will be donating to Trump?) If that's not the case, then it cannot be said that the electorate has ultimate control over the federal government. Would you say in my above hypothetical that the Allies are in control of Germany? If the Taliban is openly operating in half of the provinces, is the US military in control of Afghanistan? If my two-year old keeps throwing spaghettis on the wall despite me repeatedly commanding her to stop, am I in control of my toddler? No, no and no.

So how can you possibly conclude that the electorate, or for that matter the elected officials, are in control of the US federal government? Who knows what the party makeup of Congress will be in 12 years? But I can pretty much guarantee you what the party makeup of the Federal Civil Service will be. There's clearly some anti-democratic X factor at work, and presumably you're okay with it because otherwise a whole lot more of DC would start looking like Columbia, Mississippi.

There is missing data in that - the percentage of workers who gave anything. I found 2012 numbers. "In total, 13% of all adults have made a contribution to one of the presidential candidates in this year’s election." Assuming something similar, you can figure that 12-13% of government workers gave to Clinton.

Are there more direct polls of the civil service? Of course!

In a recent survey conducted by Government Business Council, the research arm of Government Executive Media Group, 44 percent of respondents identified as Democrats or Democratic-leaning independents, while 40 percent identified as Republicans or Republican-leaning independents. The remaining respondents were undecided or did not identify with either party, though a plurality of them said they were “conservatives.”

Imagine if during the post-WWII occupation of Germany the Allied Forces deposed of Himmler, Heydrich and a few other top officers, but maintained 99.8% of the SS rank-and-file in place without any change.

Don't need to imagine it. That is pretty much in fact what happened.

OK, yes, I think that is a reasonable position.

There is a skew within the public service towards political preferences which are more supportive of the public service. Consider that an individual who thinks there is value in the public services (duh, not a volunteer position, they will make money too), is quite likely to a) decide to seek a job in the public service and then b) also support the party that is more supportive of the public service.

Framing it as "all public employees basically want to expand their fiefdoms to the point that the entire economy is nothing but government bureaucracy" is not constructive. But framing it as an identifiable shift, a statistically identifable difference relative to the population average, can have numerous benefits for different group.

When it's not framed as "an attack on the treacherous biases within the public service", but instead more like "huh, maybe Republicans could get more votes from public service workers, or ... maybe just don't forget that a 1% rightward calculus adjustment is probably reasonable for average advice from non-seecurity-related public service" ... I dunno, maybe quite reasonable.

Finally, police, military and intelligence are not included in the sample. So ... uh, the bias is in the other direction in those cases. Very obviously so, right? The same limiting statement that you made also applies, but it is perhaps enormously more relevant than whether a school admnistrator also votes for the party that is more supportive of educatoin expenditures.

I think that the ratios in academia and public service are not quite that skewed, but also the causality might not flow as cleanly as you think.

If wonks are rejected, they might wonk for someone else.

For some reason ... those whose primary qualification is the ability to sell themselves to the highest bidder do not tend to find high standing in academics or the public service.

Is this a problem?

I recall Bill Buckley, a host of conservative intellectuals. Patrick Moynihan (even though he was a Democrat conservatives loved his analysis of the black family in the 60's). I recall Crossfire never lacked for a wonk from the Cato Institute or Heritage Foundation. If you got your pundits only from the 'liberal media' like CNN, CBS, NYT and Washington Post you would be very familiar with George Will, William Safire, Pat Buchannan, Robert Novak, and a slew of other conservatives coasting in on both brief and long term fame.

I was a two time Obama supporter committed to rational thought and moderation. Now I'm a trump supporter.

Your comment is less persuasive then what I just wrote. There isn't a single issue from which you deviate from east coast leftism. Not a single one. No one believes you reasoned yourself into that position.

You appear saner when you phrase things as a question. "What east coast leftism do you disagree with?"

Lots on say, education. No college for everyone. No forgiveness of college loans. No tenure.

Or equal pay? No, teach everyone the power of bid and ask market wages. Hardworking women should make more, not the same as go along bros.

On and on.

scoreboard baby!

So, you are wrong and you high-5 yourself? Donald, is that you?

The "I'm right, you're wrong" strategy of argumentation is always very convincing.

Sam, can you please define for us such a thing as "east coast leftism"? Considering that you are so knowledgeable of east coasters and leftists (I somewhat doubt you've ever met more than a few, and didn't even really listen to them after having pegged them as such), maybe you could do us all a favour and help us understand these "east coast leftist" things that we all need to avoid like the plague.

How about this: "Wants to make a lot of money, be comfortable, do something interesting, and make the world a better place all that the same time".

Enlighten us, please, with SPECIFICS about the ways in which this definition bothers you.

Nice to be able to read so much when so much comes TC's way either free or at a nice discount

1. Natural law is interesting. Generally speaking, non-murderers are generally less harsh on murderers than non-pimps are on pimps. True, right? Show me a middle aged pimp and I will show you a person who knows what it means to be hated - truly hated, and even hated by apparently good people who do not generally hate - and that middle-aged pimp knows what it means to live a life of misery of one's own making. (Old pimps are generally comical characters, reminiscent of the later insipid Marx Brothers Movies. People smugly laugh at them, with pity and contempt in their heart; they do not laugh with them.) The young pimps don't live too well, either. Pimping is Wrong! If I had a son or daughter who said he or she wants to grow up to be a Pimp I would be Astonished and would pray night and day to avoid that fate for my son or daughter, the future pimp, God forbid! . Pimping is Wrong! Libertarians are idiots sometimes.

The fact that sex between consenting adults is illegal, when it involves an exchange of money, is what is WRONG.

In an environment where sex was decriminalized, none of what is described in the article would have happened.

As it is, the "pimps" interviewed mostly seemed to be providing protection to young women working in a dangerous environment - the danger caused by the illegality, not by any innate danger in sex. Although the environment some of them operated in (such as murdering a boyfriend) was reprehensible, the acts of "pimping" themselves seemed voluntary by both parties.

Ed, Nothing that you said contradicts anything I said. Well, except when you CAPITALIZED. I have known, personally, about twenty pimps. Your comment, while welcome in that it adds context, is UNINFORMED. What is WRONG is that people who could actually care about other people and take care of them say to themselves fuck it and become PIMPS. Natural law is fascinating - I could not see myself pimping out any other human being, but I understand what you are saying, Ed. But remember this - we are HUMAN. Being DECENT is not that hard. Stop white-knighting, Ed. I know personally about twenty pimps. Not one of them would agree with you. They all know, in their heart of hearts, that they have screwed up. They know that the retribution they have called down upon themselves is going to be brutal (or for the old guys, is brutal and will continue to be brutal), unless they repent. This is simple stuff - this is why King Solomon failed, even after he wrote the Book of Proverbs (which he did not live to finish because he was a PIMP). That was WRONG, and that was why the wisest man who ever lived is not called Saint Solomon but is just thought of as some sad loser we read about in the Bible. Libertarians do not care about other people as much as they should, Ed - don't you agree? Hate me as much as you want, be a hater, Ed, your hate means nothing to me, but pray for pimps, that they might repent. Thanks for reading. Seriously, pray for pimps, God wants to hear such prayers. Every country has pimps and people who make life easy for the deluded pimps. God wants every country to have many people praying that pimpdom might decline and completely fall, for the good of pimps and everyone else. This is simple stuff and I do not know why I even have to spell it out. Pimping is wrong.


The central feature of the pimps in the feature were that they were insurance against the small subset of heinous and violent johns. For that service the pimps were capturing well more than the majority of the rents. Plus they were treating their business partners at a very sub-professional level. (Even Steve Jobs never resorted to slapping Wozniak or any other Apple employees.) Superior protection services could almost assuredly be provided by Blackwater at a fraction of the price, with much better professional decorum.

Blackwater would not hire me but I don't take it personally.

"Generally speaking, non-murderers are generally less harsh on murderers than non-pimps are on pimps. "

How many states have the death penalty to pimps?

How many people have the state flag flying in their front yard?

Here is Caldwell,

the democracy movement that just said “Enough!” to the politics of recent decades. In an election that Democrats lost at virtually every level, the capital city gave Hillary Clinton 93% of its votes, and Trump 4%.

The Democrats lost at virtually every level? Really? Caldwell seem to be under the impression that Trump won some sort of landslide when he in fact lost the popular vote by nearly 3 million. He talks disparagingly of a Democratic "archipelago." Too bad for him that that archipelago happens to be where a lot of people live, or is he an adherent of "acreage rights - one square mile one vote?" And it is anything but a "democracy movement." The fact is that Republicans are less popular than Democrats. The Republicans are in power as a result of gerrymandering, the irrational Electoral College and Senate apportionment rules, and, for the White House, having a Trump stooge running the FBI. A bit less triumphalism on Caldwell's part would be welcome.

Hillary Clinton won Cambridge, Massachusetts, by 89 to 6 and San Francisco by 86 to 9. Here, where the future of the country is mapped out, the “rest” of the country has become invisible, indecipherable, foreign.

And there are plenty of places where Trump won overwhelming majorities. Would Caldwell equally say that to their inhabitants the cities are "indecipherable, foreign?" and if so then why is the fault one-sided?

The archipelago of constituencies loyal to Democrats is small geographically. But it has lately set close to 100% of the agenda, and did so even in the 2016 election.

So it's small geographically. It's where people live, you imbecile. I for one am damn tired of this conservative idea that urban dwellers should somehow count less, are somehow less worthy, because they live in cities. This is worse than stupid. It has very nasty undertones, which Caldwell ought to understand, but seemingly doesn't.

What value is there in discussing popular vote unless as a lead-in to discussing reform which would improve the situation (regardless of which partisan interest might benefit in some specific instance)?

The value lies in refuting Caldwell's implication that tis was somehow a massive win for Trump and the Republicans. If he intends to analyze the results, he ought to begin by getting his basic facts correct. That he doesn't do so makes the rest sort of pointless.

"This is worse than stupid. It has very nasty undertones, which Caldwell ought to understand, but seemingly doesn’t" tell! I am eager to take offense, but have no idea what you are hinting at.

It is not only the US where there is political disagreement, even dislike, between urban and rural populations, and it is not a recent phenomenon many places.

The cities are seen as dens of iniquity, where "foreigners" (from the rural point of view), intellectuals, atheists, immigrants, and so on live. Not people "like us." Remember Ted Cruz disparaging "New York values?" (Despite his wife being a Goldman employee). Remember Sarah Palin talking about "real Americans?" The city is home to "rootless cosmopolitans," as Stalin had it, by which he meant Jews. But latent anti-Semitism is only a part of it. So is anti-intellectualism and a general dislike of "different" people.

Even if Caldwell is no kind of bigot, which I doubt he is, he is still tapping into some of those feelings, even with his title, "Sanctimony Cities." Urban dwellers are sanctimonious? You haven't seen sanctimonious until you've lived in the Bible Belt for a few years. Salt of the Earth to Caldwell, no doubt.

Well, that is terrible! Fortunately, enlightened city dwellers treat rural people with the utmost respect, even though they fuck their cousins and "cling to their guns and religion".

I think net-net city people idolize country life more than hate it. That's certainly true of outdoors folk.

I don't think you understand my point at all. Caldwell criticizes city dwellers for not understanding or appreciating rural life. But he ignores the fact that this is not a one-way street. Rural dwellers have roughly equivalent hostile views of city life and are every bit as sanctimonious as their urban cousins. To Caldwell that's OK, or unworthy of mention.

Now do you get it?

Urban dwellers as victims I love it. Trump was wrong the blubbery tears make it so that we will never win so much that I start to hate winning.

Bro, you don't even know how many -isms you are exhibiting with that comment. Take it back.

I have no idea what you are trying to say, but urban dwellers are in fact disadvantaged by our political system.

You can deny that all you want, but you'd be wrong.

"I have no idea what you are trying to say, but urban dwellers are in fact disadvantaged by our political system."

Urban dwellers get far easier access to politicians, lobbyists and the centers of government. The US political system is a Republican form of government that gives a slight advantage to location over pure population, which is an attempt to counteract the normal advantage that highly populous states have over smaller states. It's not clear where the advantage lies.

"You can deny that all you want, but you’d be wrong."

Maybe I'm wrong. I don't live in the land of ideological conviction.

The food truck scheme here in HK is widely acknowledged as a joke, a stunt with some unknown political drivers in the background. Meanwhile, the vast majority of eating establishments in the city seem to be striking the balance between free-wheeling competition and food safety.

The food trucks are almost all in tourist areas that are far enough from well-trod local pathways to make them almost completely reliant on tourist business. Too bad most of the tourists are mainland Chinese on guided tours funded by kickbacks from the shops and restaurants the guides bring the tourists to. Unless the food trucks start paying these Chinese tour companies, they'll make sure the tourists keep their wallets shut and their stomachs empty so they can eat plenty at the crappy restaurants that do pay.

#5a. "You can drive from X to Y without hitting a Clinton County..." So what? Why does this matter? Is the U.S. population uniformly distributed geographically? No. There are lots of empty places that are primarily Republican. And why do we care? I do worry about losing cross cutting cleavages if the parties are split rural-urban, but even that's deceiving. Republicans can't win nationally with the rural vote alone. They need the suburbs, too, and there's still lots of partisan mixing there, too. Would anyone care if 100,000 people in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan voted differently and Trump lost?


Indeed, so what? Why does empty space deserve political influence?

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