Political sentences to ponder what is really going on in the world and in Texas

Veterans’ issues — something that almost never make the national conversation unless the Veteran’s Administration has a juicy scandal for us to gape at — loomed much larger in the questioning than health-care reform, which has obsessed the national media for the past nine months. That shouldn’t really be surprising. The number of veterans in the country is roughly equal to the widely touted figure of 20 million people who gained insurance because of Obamacare.


Veterans’ issues were the most notable way that the local conversation differed from the national one, but far from the only one. I heard more about school policy than climate change, and a great deal about very local issues indeed — problems with asbestos in the water table, a local community college that someone said was doing a poor job of preparing kids for work. In the El Paso leg of the trip, which I didn’t cover, Hurd says that the conversation was dominated by flooding, as heavy rains had recently filled normally dry arroyos, damaging property and displacing families.

That is from Megan McArdle, who is touring the politics of Texas, national level politics I might add, a House race.


In Texas there is no climate change. Every year is floods, drought, fire, tornadoes, winds, but Texans are too stupid or stubborn to get the message: do not try to live in Texas because bad stuff happens every year just like has for millions of years.

So those fleeing California, moving to Texas in droves, should be comfortable. +1 to mulp for realizing the climate has been changing for more than 100 years though.

Mulp is the reason we have Trump. If you love Trump, thank him.

Texan here. Have to agree on the terrible weather in Texas. I sometimes wonder if inhospitable places in the U.S. are more market friendly because they don't have natural conditions to attract residents. Don't get my started on Texas weather, especially in Houston.

Houston's weather is great for diverse living things . Southern CA is a desert that virtually nothing lives in without geoengineering. That certain weak humans can't cope with a high diverse environment just shows that they're Californicators. The riffraff the weather was designed to keep out.

I'm looking for the next article in this series - a Democrat in a district that went for Trump. I am sure that we will read how this Democrat bucks his party in condemning the Antifa thugs.

Some news on the shame front.


Too bad you don't have any Twitter followers.

My follows exactly match my followers, which I think shows a certain balance, if not influence.

People understand what's concrete but often not the abstract: for those living in coastal communities, flooding at high tide makes global warming and rising sea levels a concrete issue that must be addressed, while for those living inland, it's just an abstract issue without much relevance. For my friends living in Charlottesville who were loyal supporters of President Trump, the mayhem in Charlottesville and Trumps' reaction to it converted the abstract issue of Trump's judgment into a concrete issue that must be addressed. Underfunding of public works is an abstract issue until one's house is on fire. Zoning is an abstract issue until the neighbor's house is converted into a hotel. It's not that people are stupid and can't understand abstract ideas, but the evolutionary human condition to fear what's an immediate threat rather waste time an energy on what's an abstract threat. Hurricane, what hurricane?

Hurricanes? Of course are abstract. Sometimes takes more than a generation for a storm to beat the same city. Memories are not transmitted to children :/

America is a large and diverse country, so what's a concrete issue in one place may be an abstract issue in another. In my part of the country, Mexicans aren't considered a threat but an asset, as they are highly motivated laborers willing to work seven days a week building houses, washing dishes, landscaping yards. That's the view of my white neighbors. For blacks, Mexicans are considered a threat because they have taken the jobs historically taken by blacks. In the southwest, where there aren't nearly as many blacks, Mexicans are considered a threat because they have taken the jobs historically taken by less educated whites. In the mid-west, where manufacturing jobs historically taken by less educated whites have been shifted to China and other places, the Chinese and other Asians are considered a threat by the white working class. Donald Trump may not be an intellectual, but he understands that what's considered a concrete threat in the South is different from what's considered a concrete threat in the Southwest and what's considered a threat in the mid-west, and he is an expert in exploiting the different fears that arise in different places. Thus, a speech given in the South exploits white racial resentment against black people, while a speech given in the Southwest exploits racial resentment against brown people, while a speech given in the mid-west exploits racial resentment against yellow people. It's all in the difference between what's concrete and what's abstract; and when it comes to racial resentment, it's the concrete that matters.

Lucky for the Democrats they only have one message then! All your problems are the fault of white Christian males! Especially those clear and present dangers presented by statuary, currency and artwork.

The modern right is so darn screwed up. All you and Rich above can do is complain about the feels.

The Republicans control the government. It is way beyond time for them to come up with a plan.

"Look, a liberal" was old last year, but by now it is dead and stinking.

Man up.

I can't speak for Tarrou, but I like to point out the obvious. That seems to offend some of the relentless commenters here.

It is hilarious. More comments like "mulp is why we have Trump," but continued abdication of government.

Don't ask for whom Trump trumps, he trumps for thee.

"a speech given in the South exploits white racial resentment against black people"

Lol. It's 2017.

And as noted in this article, it looks like Texas may again lose control of its ability to exclude black voters using all the means it legislature can imagine - 'The decision also leaves open the potential of Texas becoming the first state dragged back under federal oversight since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 gutted the federal Voting Rights Act, which had required states with troubled racial histories to submit election changes for approval. Gonzales Ramos left that question open for consideration later.

Texas has spent years fighting to preserve both the voter ID law — which was among the strictest in the U.S. — and its voting maps. Earlier this month, a separate federal court found racial gerrymandering in Texas’ congressional maps and ordered voting districts to be partially redrawn before the 2018 elections.' https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/federal-judge-again-throws-out-texas-voter-id-law/2017/08/23/edcfb028-884d-11e7-96a7-d178cf3524eb_story.html

Yep, 2017. Though the year may not support the point the way you wish - we are not talking about history, we are talking about Texas needing to redraw racially gerrymandered districts before the 2018 election.

When Texas does it, it's racism. When Mexico, South Africa, and every other nation on the planet does it, it's just common sense election security.

These two things don't necessarily represent a contradiction. It's possible that in those countries there is a valid concern re: election security and that is the true motivation for strict voter id requirements, whereas in Texas the true motivation is the disenfranchisement of minority party voters.

btw, re: gerrymandering, one anecdote: the residents of liberal Austin are split between *six* different congressional districts.

Check out the maps for TX-2, TX-14, TX-18, TX-29, TX-33, and TX-35. Absolutely ridiculous.

I've long maintained that, rather than setting specific district boundaries, legislators should have to choose an *algorithm* and then let that algorithm draw the boundaries. And the algorithm can't just be a hard-coded set of district boundaries. It can have no knowledge of voter preferences when drawing boundaries. The set of folks who vote on the algorithm should be 50/50 bipartisan regardless of which way a state leans.

'When Mexico, South Africa, and every other nation on the planet does it'

It is disgusting, and shows that such a nation has a demonstrably lessened claim to be considered a fully functional democracy.

This really isn't all that hard - see how easy it is to condemn people attempting to ensure they continue in power by doing their utmost to keep democracy from functioning?

Try it - it isn't hard. Why don't you look at the public record concerning North Carolina, and get back to us with your own clear statement of how disgusting it is to attempt to disenfranchise citizens in the U.S. You can start by reading this - http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/161468.P.pdf

Don't skip page 11 - 'In response to claims that intentional racial discrimination animated its action, the State offered only meager justifications. Although the new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision, they constitute inapt remedies for the problems assertedly justifying them and, in fact, impose cures for problems that did not exist. Thus the asserted justifications cannot and do not conceal the State’s true motivation.'

Possibly also relevant that (I think) many of the countries with strict voter id requirements also have some sort of mandatory national id card. So it's reasonable to ask people to "show their papers" as it were. Tarrou: would you be up for that in the U.S.? It's been proposed before, and typically the same folks who advocate for strict voter id requirements recoil in horror at the idea of a national ID card.

It could also be done at the state level. Texas could mandate that every citizen have a Texas ID card, the provide them free of charge to every citizen. This card could replace drivers licenses; those licensed to drive would just have a special notation on their ID card.

Thanks buddyglass - I thought Tarrou was talking about voter suppression in places like Mexico and South Africa, not how basically everywhere places apart from the U.S. and the UK have a national ID system, so no voter needs to worry about the issue at all. Including how all citizens can then be automatically allowed to vote, without ever needing to register as a voter, as seems to be the case throughout the EU (need to ask a British citizen about whether they need to register to vote).

btw, re: gerrymandering, one anecdote: the residents of liberal Austin are split between *six* different congressional districts.

Check out the maps for TX-2, TX-14, TX-18, TX-29, TX-33, and TX-35. Absolutely ridiculous.

I don't understand what's ridiculous about it. Should they all be shoved into one district, so they have one Democratic Rep instead of four?

Those districts I listed aren't the ones for Austin. Sorry for the confusion. They're just the districts with the most ridiculous shapes.

w.r.t. how Austin metro area should be handled, if the population is low enough to fit in one district then I'd support doing that. If not, then I'd support splitting it up in the fewest possible ways, and using "blocks" that are as compact and "regularly shaped" (subject to definition) as possible.

Of the six districts that have at least some small piece of Austin, exactly 1 elected a democrat (Lloyd Doggett). Point seems to have been to dliute Austin's left-leaning voters across many different districts, so that those voters are a minority in each district and very few of the districts actually elect a Democrat.

It is sad to see Americans still refuse to outgrow racism.

McArdle yet again engages in sloppy journalism (a common feature in almost every column). She writes, "...Obamacare disproportionately benefited noncitizens, who cannot vote..." which is misleading. She does not clarify that illegal immigrants are ineligible to receive benefits under the ACA. According to the NY Times article that is hyperlinked in the column, 1.2M out of 8.7M getting ACA policies in 2014 were non-citizens but legal immigrants in the US. This works out to about 14% and one might question whether this meets the definition of "disproportionate." I guess Bloomberg needs to have a diversity of columnists on their roster and Ms. McArdle fills the sloppy journalist slot.

>illegal immigrants are ineligible to receive benefits under the ACA.

Just like they are ineligible to vote, receive welfare, or have a driver's license?

That's so reassuring! Nothing to see here then, eh? THANK YOU!!

I believe that there are some states in which unauthorized immigrants can have a valid driver's license under state law.

The same states where its illegal to use that driver's license to discriminate while hiring. (Don't check the DL which says "not for federal purposes" on it which would tell you the holder is an illegal.)

So the state effectively says they want illegals to have jobs.

What else do you think the state is wink-winking at? A lot.

Just like we have laws that immigrants can't get welfare...but then immigrants find clever ways around those rules. (Just like natives find clever ways to get around other welfare rules, too. Not saying they are "bad" people - just bad incentives.)

As an example, Chinese and Taiwanese immigrants have figured out how to bring over their elderly parents, who normally couldn't get social security, but get them declared "disabled" and magically they can get SSI and Medicare.

This is just as dumb as my ex-landlord who was "disabled" but could re-roof his rental property by himself.

"The same states where its illegal to use that driver’s license to discriminate while hiring. (Don’t check the DL which says “not for federal purposes” on it which would tell you the holder is an illegal.)"

Not really. "Not valid for federal purposes" means that the driver's license cannot be used as proof of identity or immigration status when the employer fills out the I-9 form. No state can force employers not to conduct I-9 verification when someone is hired -- that's Federalism 101.

"This works out to about 14% and one might question whether this meets the definition of “disproportionate.”"

Pretty clearly a disproportionate share of the population, but I sense you are using the word in an ideological rather than mathematical manner.

Complaints that the author was right, but didn't write it the way you wanted? You're stealing Bill's shtick.

Ineligible non-citizens could still be said to benefit from ACA if it improved the situation of their citizen children. No idea how that changes the numbers; just an observation.

"Disproportionately" in the sense that they were more likely to get insurance than native-born Americans. 14% is a pretty large number--the comparable number for veterans is probably under 1%. And that's not the only reason that Obamacare recipients are a weak affiliation group; it's just one of them.

Fun fact: Dallas County, with a population equaling Wyoming, Montana, and Alaska combined of about 2.5 million and growing fast, voted 61% for Hillary. You simply cannot look at Texas as a monolith like you cannot look at China as one (or Europe). The issue, and this is a long standing one with journalism as it applies to Texas, is they want to bucket-ize Texans and create a nice simple explanation in a column when in fact they should look at the metropolitan areas and micro-metro and cultural areas much differently. The editorial board at WAPO and NYT love to use Texas as an easy foil to the "liberal East", but unfairly. They don't have an extensive staff of journalists in Texas so they don't bother with the longer series of articles to elucidate actual local belief systems. I see this as another issue with the consolidation of news into just a few coastal publications as The Dallas Morning News and Houston Chronicle used to be world class now they are essentially localized USA Today hotel room doorstops.

Yes, exactly. But notice how your comment will fall on deaf ears. No one cares how right you are if your rightness punctures their self-protective mythologies.

Yep. Sigh... Does a moderate Democrat make a sound in a Texas wood if no one is there to listen? No one cares.

What does any of this have to do with McArdle's article, which was specifically about the one competitive district in Texas?

Granted I went on a tangent (hey... comments), but it doesn't mention a Democratic Party challenger, Gina Ortiz Jones, so there's one issue I have with the article. But you are right, let's just write Texas off to the Republicans like everyone else and assume Republican. Then let's make all of the other colorful assumptions--hold on, I need to round up my cattle.

But you are right, let’s just write Texas off to the Republicans like everyone else and assume Republican. Then let’s make all of the other colorful assumptions–hold on, I need to round up my cattle.

You just can't stop yourself from going off on bizarre, irrelevant tangents, huh?

Dallas county and Harris county, the locations of the cities of Dallas and Houston respectively, are the most cosmopolitan places in Texas (with the possible exception of Austin) and far and away the places where there are the highest numbers of residents who were not born in Texas or the surrounding states, especially Oklahoma, Arkansas, or Louisiana. These two cities are much closer in political outlook to, say, Atlanta or Los Angeles than to, say, Phoenix or Oklahoma City. But go west from Dallas along I-30 until you get to Fort Worth (about 30 miles), and the political climate is significantly different.

Nothing about Trump or race.

Can't get away from those two subject on Twitter.

At least according to McCardle. Who seems unable to actually explain what 'vertarn's issues' actually means for most veterans, particularly when attempting to make a contrast to health care issues.

Health care, yes, also pensions, disability benefits, and other ancillaries. Like I said: the VHA is how Washington cares about the VA. It is not the only way veterans do.

Everybody entitled to a federal pension cares about it - that is simply a feature of being a long term federal employee, and is not really much of a veteran's issue. Which pretty much anyone who knows both military personnel and federal employees would be pretty familiar with, broadly speaking.

However, only the military provides a complete government funded health care system to its ex-members, in contrast to what other federal employees receive.

Did anyone ask about burial in a national cemetery? That too is something that some veterans care about, and is another fairly unique federal benefit for veterans.

The San Antonio area has always had a really high veteran population -- 12% in the metro area vs 7% nationwide.

" Running along the southwestern edge of the state, the Texas 23rd has 820 miles of border,,,,"

Certainly every potential voter in that vast and thinly populated area has a good grasp of this representative's priorities and values, especially since they're only observable through the media. It's really one of the strongest points of "democracy" that voters are supposed to make an intelligent decision at the polls between candidates that they've never met and can't possibly have an informed opinion about.

Apparently what's really going on in Texas is the concerns of a small group in a rural district where they wear cowboy hats.

Also, this is what is really going on in the world. What happens in cities is all illusion.

It is a spurious observation that there are the same number of veterans as newly insured under Obamacare unless the demographics of Texas's 28th district are identical to that of the U.S. From the rest of her article, it is obvious it is not. Why is that quote worthy of featuring?

Enough Egg McMeghan... She's a shill for the Koch brothers. Here is a great quote from her anus to your mouth: "Here's the thing: humans aren't like bonobos. And do you know how I know that we are not like bonobos? Because we're not like bonobos." https://www.theatlantic.com/author/megan-mcardle/

Not to suggest that anyone should endorse the philosophy of "lookism." but she and Tyler are made for one another.

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