Sunday assorted links

1. Very good Matina Stevis-Gridneff piece on the militarization of the Horn of Africa (WSJ).  Excellent visuals, too.

2. Will they find Frida Kahlo’s famous missing painting?

3. The polity that is California.

4. “These days, I find myself thinking more and more about issues of morality and character. In particular, I think that trying to emphasize social opinions rather than personal character does not work well.” That is Arnold Kling.

Comments

3. I saw this! Good on whoever picked it up, and you for posting it. It encapsulates a discussion we have had previously in these pages.

If you want California to address inequality and homelessness, you demand of California more socialism.

It follows.

You get more of whatever you pay for. So the insane Californian government has thrown money at the homeless. They have got more homeless. So naturally the solution is to throw even more money at the problem, right? Because it has been working so well up to now.

If you pay for a reduction in something, then the positive relationship between what is purchased and the having of what is purchased will have an outcome of a reduction (which was purchased).

If payments for unemployment insurance are higher, then unemployment could be higher on average because workers will spend longer looking for higher quality work, instead of taking the first crappy thing that comes along. This can be good for the economy because there is better matching of demand and supply of labour.

The fact that higher unemployment payouts can result in a higher number of workers being unemployed at any given point (with potential positive impacts due to better matching) does not imply that payments to address homelessness will cause an increase in that.

This is interesting but I would like to know what evidence there is for it. In fact I would like to know why I should ignore all the evidence to the contrary. People on welfare aren't looking for better jobs. They are living in their parents' basement waiting for the big break that will never come. They are trying to be poets or rock musicians or novelists. We are better off without these people wasting everyone's time. They are doing or have done useless degrees like Masters in Puppetry. Or Grievance Studies. We are better off if they never start. We can actually measure the damage that people who do useless Humanities degrees do themselves. So why encourage and subsidize it?

The fact is a bad job, a minimum wage job, a year spent at Burger King, is good for people - especially young people. A year spent waiting for their book of beat poetry to win the Booker Prize is not good for people.

If someone wants to look for a better job, it is best that they work for 40 hours a week and use some of the other 128 hours of their own time to search.

Welfare has long since ceased to be a positive in Western society.

That is one analysis. Another could be that if people are homeless that this is the result of not enough homes. The impact of land use regulations and the development approval process are well documented and have probably been discussed here at nauseum. Another alternative is for the city and state to just build housing. A lot of money is spent and never addressing the basic problem. I am at the point where I think we should bring back warzone commieblocks. So, just increasing the supply of cheap, shitty housing would go a long way.

If you want more toilet paper in Venezuela, you demand more socialism.

"If you want California to address inequality and homelessness, you demand of California more socialism.

It follows."

Maybe you can explain how you cite #3 in support of exactly the opposite proposition that #3 stands for??

Here is Shellenberger's bio.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Shellenberger

Based on that I see his comments not an attack on redistribution, but from his perspective an obligation.

To combine items 3 and 4 above, do you want to address homelessness, or are you signalling?

That's this guy's game. He's a notorious troll in the comment section.

4. This is fine, and ties to my hobby horse that people cry "virtue signalling" too often, inappropriately, and counter-productively.

isn't it the opposite point? Virtue Signalling is where people are emphasising their right-on opinions in order to win social kudos. Rather than winning kudos through demonstrating their character (which probably can't be done in a tweet or an online comment, sadly).

Virtue signaling is a particular kind of lie isn't it?

A lie is when you say something which you believe in your internal state to be false. Virtue signalling is when you say something which you don't really commit to as a virtue. To be empty signaling it must be hypocrisy, as opposed to simply describing one's moral beliefs.

Related, on the biology of it all:

Emotion plays an important role in constraining dishonesty. If we feel bad when we lie, we are less likely to do so. But if this uncomfortable feeling were to magically disappear, research suggests we would in turn lie more. In one study, students who were given a pill called a beta-blocker, which reduces emotional arousal, were more likely to cheat on an exam than students who were given a placebo. In other words, without that uncomfortable physiological feeling that accompanies dishonest behavior, people were more likely to cheat.

It is embedded in a Trump article, I'm afraid:

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/amp/ncna876486

I'd be more embarrassed that it's embedded in an nbcnews article.

That seems about correct.

Perhaps he is responding to the negativity exuded by those who most often bring up the concept of "virtue signalling" with the intent to attack the character and/or reasoning of those who would express anything which even the naysayers would identify as "virtue".

However, there are also those who have a good point, criticizing those who will make all sorts of empty platitudes, but in fact would do little or nothing to follow up on such "virtuous" declarations even if it would not be too cumbersome (excluding consideration of witch hunting and personalized targeting which may be associated with some types of "virtuous" acts) to do so.

Darn, forgot that the bear is back!

4. What does Kling mean by "social opinions"? And what does he mean by "personal character"? By "social opinions" he likely is referring to society, whereas by "personal character" he is likely referring to the individual. I suppose the social gospel that arose during the gilded age contrasted (conflicted?) with the personal corruption of the leaders of business and finance in the age. What's considered "social" then and now is subject to many interpretations, but so is "character". Trump certainly is "social" in the sense of having charisma, and his "personal character" no doubted contributed to his business success. But one could also conclude that Trump is anti-social and has no character.

I think Kling quoted the wrong part of Brooks column. He should have quoted this:

"Those dimwitted, stuck up blue bloods in the old establishment had something we meritocrats lack — a civic consciousness, a sense that we live life embedded in community and nation, that we owe a debt to community and nation and that the essence of the admirable life is community before self."

If he had quoted that it would have been clear that he agreed with Brooks. Character and community first.

"Social opinions" are those values you shout out to the world.

"Personal character" is the value you actually hold.

Humans always play status games, so if I can elevate myself over you by proclaiming to be pro-foo, it doesn't matter if I'm actually pro-foo at all.

like Venezuela, the bizarre socialist/elitist escapades of California's progressive rulers are a wonderfully amusing object lesson (except if you live there).

The painful collapse of both governments is inevitable. If only the Nancy Pelosi Democrats & RINO's could 'progress' the Federal Government to the starry heights of leftist fantasies ... for even better amusement?

California has some unwise policies in place, most clearly those limiting building more housing. But the government is doing fine and is running a budget surplus. The economy has been growing well in the last few years compared to many others. Comparing California to Venezuela is beyond absurd, it is so silly.

True it's silly to compare California to Venezuela full stop, but the question is why California looks more like Venezuela than it should given how wealthy it is. I was in LA recently and the Tent City there is shocking. Compared with the brown Hills covered in litter it's pretty bad driving and gives off a feeling of existential crisis of both environmental and economic sort.

forgive the bad writing there, writing from phone

California is a beautiful place. I have lived there in the past, I would love to live there. But I simply can't afford the high taxes. There are three choices to live in California"
1. be on welfare exempt from taxes and taken care of by the rest of the voters.
2. Be reasonably wealthy either by inheritance or high paying job such that after the oppressive taxes you can still live well.
3. Have lived their for many years as middle class and already own your home so you don't need $700K to buy one, already have prop 13 frozen taxes and have only one car and few other taxed consumer goods.

If you are middle class and choose to move to California you can't afford a house and your monthly rent will be the equivalent of a decent monthly salary in the other 49 states. If you have two cars and a boat you will pay thousands in taxes for these "luxuries". California has become unaffordable for the middle class.

End property zoning.

Funny how libertarians speak oceans about global free-trade, but go mute on the need to wipe out property zoning.

Because they know that "build the big farm next to someone's house" is a losing proposition, and if you are trying to get them to say that then you are trying to trap them and should be ignored.

A. http://www.politifact.com/california/statements/2017/jan/20/chad-mayes/true-california-has-nations-highest-poverty-rate-w/

B. “In a nationwide assessment of fourth grade reading,” the report continues, “California’s Latino students ranked fourth from the bottom; in eighth grade, they slid to next-to-last place.”

https://calmatters.org/articles/commentary-californias-school-war-flares-three-fronts/

But the government is doing fine and is running a budget surplus.

Yeah, that's important, that the government be doing "fine". If it indeed has some sort of a surplus, probably based on creative accounting techniques and unlikely forecasts, that means taxes are too high. No one can predict the future but if there are more guys like this one, and there is, there's a pretty good chance that there won't be any budget surplus in the years ahead.

California has a "budget surplus" only if the unrecorded liabilities...e.g., public employee retirement benefits...are ignored.

#3 it seems people doesn't vote with their feet after all. Immigrants arrived looking from something better. Perhaps is time for the people that went to California to look for a better place..... they even have a US passport now.

I like California, and have seen many immigrants succeed, but we should be aware of how this reported inequality is related to fairly arbitrarily lines on a map. If the first 100 miles from the coast were a state it would "have less inequality" than a state stretching 200 miles (close to actual).

So, when you're asking wealthier people to take care of people 100 miles away, to what degree is that a true state problem, and to what degree is it example of a broader national problem?

I think if you believe in transfers at all, and don't consider bad outcomes as just desserts, you have to treat transfers as a national problem, and even out the rich and poor states.

That is, if you believe in transfers, and not that rural/desert people don't work as hard.

Laughable misdirection. Those aren't just "people 100 miles away." They're California citizens, subject to the same taxation and policy regime, and the state government is perfectly capable of carrying out the transfer policies you describe in order to improve the situation of its poorest citizens, yet somehow it has failed to do so.

Certainly, though, "there's much less inequality if you only look at the rich areas" is a comment for the ages.

That is not what I thought I said. I thought I asked you two questions:

1) do you support taxing the rich to pay for thranfers to the poor?

2) if you do, why would you think "only within a state?"

Now, if you want to oppose tranfers *and* say they are some else's responsibility .. what else is new. The costant there is no transfers *from you*.

(One could make some kind of "concentric circles" argument that aid should start close to home and fade .. with a power law or something. But remember that San Francisco is further from me than crossing 3 states back east.)

You read: "California has terrible policies that crush the poor"

You respond: "Let's let them keep those policies and just bail them out by mailing them checks from people who live in other states with better policies"

Ah. There is the rub. If all you need is a successful market economy to help the poor, California has that.

It's not necessary to go 100 miles inland...just cross the freeway from Palo Alto to East Palo Alto.

There is a good map here which illustrates where the statewide inequality numbers are coming from:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/07/california-6-states_n_4890982.html

Compared to the places the immigrants are coming from California even in its current state is an improvement. This justifies or at least mutes complaints about its downward trajectory if you're a progressive or bleeding heart libertarian.

"Trump loves to hate on California, but @Matthew_Winkler says the proof is in the profits: Its economy vastly outpaces the rest of the nation https://t.co/j9ZnxiUwIK via @bopinion https://t.co/Qu8Flbvgay"

Sure but California climate and natural beauty is among the best in the world, but the current residents' NIMBYism has kept more US citizens from moving there, and made the standard of living there much lower than it should be.

@Dain: so it's probable that a fraction of California's population with lower aspirations is fine with the current situation.

On the other side, Mr. Shellenberger may be doing the same mistake of "the progressive residents of Elysium": assuming his personal concerns are the concerns of the poor immigrants.

PS. twitt #36 is quite interesting: complains about electricity price and carbon emissions going up. what better incentive to reduce electricity consumption/carbon emissions that high electricity rates?

4. Well put.

"Social opinions" have an outward orientation, where you point out things where the larger "society" is at fault. Oh - "Blacks are not treated well", "Oh...whites still harbor racist feelings in some recess of their hearts", "Oh. Dalits are up against it and their climb is impossibly hard", "Oh...women can never compete with men in the marketplace without govt regulations".

There is a common thread in all these "social opinions -

a) The emphasis is on thinking in terms of collectives.
b) Personal morality takes a backseat and "material growth and its equitable distribution" is the yardstick used to assess progress.

This is the bane of our times. And it is a cultural consequence of Marxism. David Hume did not worry about quarterly growth rates in UK. Nor did Adam Smith. They did not think as hard about income inequality either. Even the most materialist, empiricist thinkers of 18th century like Smith and Hume were not preoccupied with "materialism" on a daily basis. Smith even found time to write a book on moral philosophy.

In our times, the emphasis on virtue has totally subsided. With all attention on "material growth" - conservatives call it "growth", liberals call it "progress" - but it's the same thing. There is little difference across the political spectrum here.

Virtue is now secondary - as the "rule of law" is supposed to regulate the behavior of individuals. Anything goes, as long as you don't break the law. In other words, "virtuous behavior" is not stemming from the internal religious constitution in each man but merely from fear of law!

That's terrible. Because what that means is that if the "law" were to break down, we would behave like beasts. Whatever happened to the "internal religious constitution"?

The way I judge the moral fibre of any society is not to look at the crime rates. No. The metric of "moral superiority" has to be Crime rates / # law enforcement officers. Can you keep crime rate low even in the absence of law enforcement? That's the sign of a moral society!

India scores very high on this metric.

Marx is not the cause of people thinking that progress should not have too-high inequality, in consideration of the overall costs and benefits. Regarding Adam Smith, it was only after firmly establishing (according to his view/logic) that some natural basis of sympathizing with/for others in combination with an early view on trickle down economics would hopefully be sufficient to correct for unfairness of markets, that he proceeded with much else that he had to say.

In fact, equality-enhancing policies in many cases can also contribute significantly to growth and prosperity, by enabling people to have opportunities which profit both them and the economy as a whole.

Among other reasons, due to positive externalities of investment in human capital, optimality insists that the government will spend some positive sum of money on various equality-enhancing expenditures (in addition to some others which may not be equality-enhancing), as it is the only entity able to recover an economywide investment in human capital, via future taxation.

As for the notion that without laws we would behave like beasts, perhaps this reflects a general breakdown of community due to several generations of highly individualist ideology (not an ideology that I have a problem with, but recognizing a shortcoming can help to address the shortcoming) where bystanders take photos and/or generally do not intervene, or at most leave intervention to police under state authority. But, the more present point could be that this view, of humans as being perhaps more beastly in the absence of laws than might actually be the case, would tend to support some belief in a need for far more than necessary policing, surveillance and other intrusions into 'natural freedom'. Such policing (etc.) is certainly warranted to a degree, but not to excesses which could be incorrectly deemed legitimate if taking an excessively pessimist view of what people would be like without a Big Brother entity that makes a mockery of numerous intentions of the Founding Fathers as represented in the constitution.

Marx is not the cause of people thinking that progress should not have too-high inequality, in consideration of the overall costs and benefits.

Pretty much he is actually. Inequality can only come about in two ways. The Brazilian route where a corrupt kleptocracy keeps the benefits of the economy for itself. Or the Californian route where young men can start innovative new companies producing new products people want and in return they become very rich. America is not the former, and it is still pretty much the latter. Europe is mostly neither. We should welcome the fact that people like Steve Jobs could become obscenely rich because he improved everyone's life.

In fact, equality-enhancing policies in many cases can also contribute significantly to growth and prosperity, by enabling people to have opportunities which profit both them and the economy as a whole.

That is not a fact, it is not even a particularly interesting opinion. We have done this experiment. It does not work. The more that anyone spends on "equality" the worse the rate of economic growth. Take Europe for example. Where are Europe's Microsofts? Apples? Amazons? They have managed to prevent anyone starting a new business or at least growing to a reasonable size.

Among other reasons, due to positive externalities of investment in human capital

We have long passed the point this might be true. Much "investment" in human capital is probably human capital destroying. A university degree outside STEM for instance.

As for the notion that without laws we would behave like beasts, perhaps this reflects a general breakdown of community due to several generations of highly individualist ideology

Not to mention immigration. If you introduce millions of people who have been raised in low trust societies to hate you, it is not a surprise if they rape your girls.

Leveling, i.e. concern for inequality, is found it all kinds of animal species, so no it did not begin with marx. Its origin is biological in basis.

A small correction -

The metric I had in mind is - Crime rates X # law enforcement officers. Not a division.

Lower the better ofcourse.

3. Man, that's some slavish devotion to Twitter

California is a wonderful place. One day, "they" will resolve its main problem: Californians.

Speaking as a native Calfornian, the problem is clearly too many Californians. For example, high housing prices aren't only a function of insufficient housing, they're also a function of too many people chasing the supply.

BUT, I have a solution to the problem which I will institute when I am king of California. Pay people to leave. Here's $10 grand - leave California and never come back. So many people lament that "Californians are leaving in droves" or some other such nonsense, when the problem is that not enough people are leaving. So my proposal should accelerate the process.

So, fewer people, less traffic. Fewer people, lower housing prices. Less demand for services, schools, welfare, Medi Cal, and so forth.

It's so obvious, I'm amazed I'm the only person promoting it!

If you send any more Californicators here, I'll track you down and drown you in a vat of cheap Chardonnay.

I, of course, are not sending them anywhere. They can go wherever they want. I'm merely allowing them to exercise their free will to leave California like they all say they want to.

California's population has tripled in my lifetime. Now it's time to export our biggest crop - people!

Shipping out the natives and replacing them with illegals has worked out great so far, if you accelerate that you can expect much more good things. Step 1: Bring in the illegals, pay them $10k to move to another state, rinse and repeat. Step 2: ?? Step 3: Profit.

Keep in mind. as the future king of California, I've given this a lot of thought already. The solution to your problem is easy. The recipients would have to prove they live here legally.

If somebody comes forward to claim the money and he's not a US citizen, we'd just call the President and have him deported - easy peasy. This will eliminate your issue.

Next?

Oh, and to say "shipping out natives" is totally incorrect. The population of California is still growing. We added a Cincinnati last year in terms of growth.

As I said in my previous post, this whole "people are leaving in droves" meme is incorrect.

This might be more frustration than commitment, but it's a start:

"Nearly half of Bay Area residents say they want to leave"

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/06/03/nearly-half-of-bay-area-residents-say-they-want-to-leave/

Every state that wanted a Silicon Whatever speak up!

I believe they have. Just look at the contest for Amazon’s new headquarters. Some states have even copied California’s law on not enforcing non-compete agreements.

I applaud "second headquarters" moves outside California. I also applaud narrow non-compete.

Both are the wedge end for redistribution of high tech jobs, even if not the full accomplishment.

4. Brooks ignores the main factor, which is the failure of the elites to live up to their supposed virtues. They talk the talk about "celebrating diversity" but at the end of the day, the white male CEO isn't going to give up his own job so an AA applicant can have it. He'll stick her in a low-level management position. She isn't happy, seeing that the corporate board is still almost wholly white male,(or (((white male))) ) and being told the only possible explanation for such a patter is "white male privilege." Nor is the white man who was passed over in her favor happy, the CEO's "but goyim, I mean, fellow white male, I'm making lots of money" fails to sway him.

Brooks, of course, cannot state any of this openly. Like Tyler, he can only signal it between the lines, though unlike Tyler his ultimate loyalties are with the tribe. This is all hinted at in the concluding sentence:

"The meritocracy is here to stay, thank goodness, but we probably need a new ethos to reconfigure it — to redefine how people are seen, how applicants are selected, how social roles are understood and how we narrate a common national purpose."

A literal interpretation of this would be that this new social contract will be a return to stability. The between-the-lines prediction is that the coming decade will feature great instability, as the white and (((white))) elite is subject to increasing pressure by the forces of Diversity. #MeToo, which was simply the application to the elite males of the rules cubicle workers were long subject to, is an example of this.

I disagree that Brooks was placing tribe above nation in that column. Brooks all but says that opening up the leadership of the country to Jews (and other minorities) has utterly debased the leadership of the country. I cannot see how doing that in one of the nation’s most influential newspapers is showing more loyalty to your ethnic group than to your country. The last line of the column was an absolute throw away line, as the whole point of the column was that meritocracy sucks and doesn’t work because you need collectivist values to maintain well functioning institutions (as East Asian cultures well understand). The last line was a transparent throw away line to reassure readers that he surely wasn’t making an anti-Semitic, anti-feminist, anti-diversity argument, though he clearly was. It was transparently “Straussian” so much so that it makes one wonder if there aren’t some alt-right sympathizers at the NYT, which would be quite interesting if true.

"Brooks all but says that opening up the leadership of the country to Jews (and other minorities) has utterly debased the leadership of the country. "

That's an insane reading of Brooks.

Brooks is Jewish for the record.

I disagree. Brooks isn't stupid (he is Jewish after all), and working with the assumption that he isn't stupid I think you would also have to assume that he obviously knew that many people would interpret his arguments precisely in that manner (i.e. as anti-diversity essentially). Look at all of the things that he cites as the culprit as the failure of the "elite". "Exaggerated faith in intelligence" as opposed to civic virtue, but how do you get civic virtue? Brooks cites the old WASP elite as having achieved that. "Misplaced faith in autonomy," but how do you avoid autonomy when you have diversity, as opposed to commitment to the values of a particular group of people and a particular culture? Again, Brooks presents the WASPs as having overcome this problem. "Misplaced notion of the self," just a rehash of autonomy vs. commitment to a community, and again, the only example Brooks gives are the old WASP elite. "Inability to think institutionally," "Misplaced idolization of diversity." "Diversity for its own sake, without a common telos, is infinitely centrifugal, and leads to social fragmentation," but does Brooks mention one example of diverse community with a common telos? No. Not a single one. Brooks is basically arguing that diversity (i.e. allowing Jews, women, and ethnic minorities to be part of the ruling elite) lead to ruling elite that lacks "a sense that we live life embedded in community and nation, that we owe a debt to community and nation and that the essence of the admirable life is community before self." If an elite that rejects "a sense that we live life embedded in community and nation, that we owe a debt to community and nation and that the essence of the admirable life is community before self," isn't a debase elite than I don't know what is. And Brooks is very pointed about it "Those dimwitted, stuck up blue bloods in the old establishment had something we meritocrats lack" i.e. virtue or real arete as opposed to mere techne. I don't know how Brooks could be any more pointed and still get that argument published in the NYT. As I said above, it is almost as if he cribbed arguments from the more intelligent neo-Nazi's of the alt-right. As I in I have literally read the argument that Brooks made in cites are more or less neo-Nazi cites (Steve Sailer, Chateau Heartiste). If Brooks doesn't realize that he is making exactly the same arguments as Neo-Nazis than he is either impossibly naive, stupid, or maybe suffering from early dementia.

That said, I think the Brooks column is meant as a provocation. I think he does know that he is repeating reactionary, Neo-Nazi arguments, and he really truly wants the "liberals" (in Patrick Deneen's sense of the word) to wake up from their dogmatic slumber and prove the Neo-Nazi's wrong, because so far they haven't.

Shullenberger claims California is tops in both poverty and inequality. It is true that when one accounts for cost of living, most seriously affected by the high cost of housing, it may have the highest poverty rate among states, just edging Florida, although apparently that rate is declining as the economy continues to grow well.

OTOH, seven others states (including DC) have higher Gini coefficients, meaning more inequality, and those should not vary much with taking account of cost of living differences. As it is, most of those with more inequality are high income states, including NY, CT, MA, and also DC, although Louisiana is among them as well.

But surely you are not OK with an average home, that should cost maybe $100,000 to build, costing $1.6 million dollars in San Francisco. Many US citizens would like to live there and could and should but don't because of the home prices. Texas in much better governed.

Let's face it politicians are generally corrupt, California needs more politicians with souls sold to builders and developers and fewer with souls sold to landlords. The balance of power has been thrown off. What thorough it so far off?

The government is to blame for some of the problems of home prices in SF, but prices only get insane if buyers refuse to walk away. If buyers will buy even with insane prices, of course prices are going to be nuts.

No, there's marginal price differentiation. There are rich buyers who can afford and as the wealth goes down you drop to those who can't afford it. When building is heavily restricted the supply goes down and only the rich can afford it. The people who buy aren't necessarily making a mistake because as long as the supply remains constricted they'll make above average returns.

#3. California is like that restaurant that nobody goes to anymore because it is too crowded.
Or the place that has been on the brink of collapse since longer than anyone has been alive.
California's problem is that it is America, only more so. That is, of all the problems listed, none are unique to California. And none are amenable to the One Weird Trick mentality that infests political minds.

Exactly the opposite of this. California is truly unique among U.S. states in its policies, natural endowments, and residents. It's more like another country than it is other U.S. states.

California's problem is that it is America, only more so.

The rest of the country isn't an extension of Mexico. So, no.

3. Was actually a pretty weird essay. (I mean besides merging the worst parts of twitter AND powerpoint).

But the thing read like it was written by a Trump republican, the way he spat out the word progressive repeatedly. And his obsession with coastal elite wealthy liberals. I kept waiting for the big reveal.

It was full of right wing almost-dog whistles, and the overall tone was from the sort of jui jitsu when the GOP tries to describe itself as the REAL party of the poor.

Along with the sort of unexamined paradoxes like complaining about high home prices, which in other contexts is supposed a positive market outcome at that scale according to conservative dogma, but some cons have a way of stepping around that when they want to play at populism.

Anyway. Weird essay.

This is the kind of hand-waving the author is getting at. Forget conservatives for a minute. They can completely disappear and progressives are still left with a golden goose that's been reduced to a scratched up bronze thrift store find on their watch. What are they going to do about it? You've got wealthy techies stepping over homeless on the sidewalk. You're complaining about conservative dog whistles while human beings are being treated like dogs.

Oh to be sure, I'm no fan of checkbook limousine liberals, or tech nerds with their hybrid blend of hipster social liberalism and hacker libertarianism.

But I am most interested in the weirdly melded essay of right wing argument structure and memes, published through a too-long series of bullet point tweets, and used to to run for as a Democrat. It's like he cut and pasted a GOP fundraising mailer about Nancy Pelosi and then changed some but not all of the keywords with the find/replace function.

There's maybe a deeper meaning in this, a data point in the winds of change, but I'm not quite sure what yet.

Yeah I found that weird as well, but telling, that the bullet points had no conclusions or suggestions, just a list of contradictory gripes.
What I have found is when people do this they have some unspoken Magic Solution lurking in their mind that they don't want to share.

Dude, no. He's running for Governor. Go to his website and he says what he would do to fix everything.

His progressive bona fides go back decades. He's just honest.

This is the point I am trying to decipher.

Trumps' appeal included an unconventional approach that was sort of a word salad of right wing memes and an almost caricature of grievances, jumbled up with populist pitches from both sides of the aisle that surfaced and disappeared from moment to moment. And amounted to a largely incoherent rolling tantrum against the elite. (And was effective in the end).

There is something about this guy's twitter campaign platform rant that invokes this, at least style-wise.

The field is crowded and you have to stand out. I'm a fan of his so this could just be motivated reasoning, but if he doesn't take some positions that will cause a stir, no one will notice him among all the other dudes running for office.

But I did notice the weirdness. Much more "anti-liberal" than he usually is.

Now I think I see what you mean about this being interesting, insofar as it isn’t merely someone on the left taking up some conservative taking points about liberal hypocrisy, but also taking up the campaign tactic of airing grievances and blaming elite liberals (like crooked Hilary) but this time from the left. I wonder if Russia took this tack during the 2016 elections? Hell, if I were a politician I might even seek out some Russian individuals as campaign consultants for above board campaign operations, because they seem to know what they are doing, perhaps more so than people in the US.

If he were conservatives he would have talked about religion or guns or abortions. He is just pointing out that California liberals suck and are hypocrites. Which is true. There are liberals out there that actually try to solve problems, not just virtue signal. That just isn’t what California Democrats are about.

I am not saying he is conservative, I am saying I kept waiting for him to do so. Because this essay was argued like a conservative. Or more precisely, argued like a conservative sounds to a liberal.

The accuracy of the underlying critique is not really relevant. But it's use by a Democratic gubernatorial candidate is worth studying.

I took the rhetorical thrust to be that California Democrats consistently fail to take positive steps towards solving the problems that they claim to care about. My assumption is that the people on the right (and I mean professional politicians, campaign operatives, etc.) roll out this rhetoric to demoralize liberal voters, basically pointing out to them the politicians on their own side are failing to deliver the goods, which seems like pretty basic (and effective) campaign operations. That someone on the left would pick up the same sort of rhetoric to challenge California Democrats from the left doesn't seem all that interesting to me. What's more interesting is that it took so long for someone to do that.

Totally off topic, but any relation to McMegan?

The twitter rant also struck me as disorganized and self-contradictory, but I don’t think people realize to what extent California’s issues are not a bug but a feature. As a CA member of the 1% I love that my gardeners, house cleaners, handymen, restaurant bus boys, fruit pickers, etc all work for cash way below minimum wage and no-one I know would dream of sending their kids to public school. It’s easy to avoid the homeless (who are usually from out of state, attracted by the state’s weather) and the ‘poor’ (often attracted by the state’s generous welfare, I believe CA has 25% of the country’s Medicaid recipients).

Trump's assault on illegal immigration is far worse than his other rambling mistakes. Stopping the flow of illegal immigration will undermine the two tier nature of the Californian economy.

#3 they need more politicians with souls sold to builders and developers rand fewer with souls sold to landlords. The balance of power gas been thrown off.

Edited #3 California needs more politicians with souls sold to builders and developers and fewer with souls sold to landlords. The balance of power has been thrown off.

The fact that no one here has bothered to comment on the missing Frida Kahlo painting suggests what we all know - modern Art, and especially Art by Mexican Communist deviants, is worthless. No one cares.

It can stay missing and no one will be poorer.

number 4: the announcers in this weekend's womens' USGA golf championship asked, after about 16 hours of broadcast time, why the two finalists would clap for each other when a good putt was made by the other finalist in the playoff round...

I know why, the announcer does not, read on if you wonder why I know, stop reading if you do not care one way or the other...

the announcer said he did not get it (the clapping for the opponent's really good putt or really good chip shot), maybe it was a social media Twitter thing.

(Ariya Jutanagarn (the second r is not pronounced like a European r in the original Thai, it is more of a deep h without the whistle - (I spent years as an elite language coach, trust me) (well, Wikipedia gets the pronunciation right)) and Hyo Joo Kim were the playoff "opponents".

Understanding of others, even in civilizations that are not nearly unsalvageable, bubbles along at a fairly low rate ...

try and be better than that low flow rate: no, not Twitter, just the joy of being young and healthy and knowing that, win or lose, someone cares about you, that was why the competitors, God bless their hearts (Jutanaga(hr)n and Kim, today, it could have been Dykstra and Boyd back in the day, or name some other pair: I imagine that once, George Theodore, hardly a believable major leaguer, could have once batted against my cousin who lied for years about being a pitcher on the major league Expos)

"it is no small thing to care about a creature that nobody has ever cared about before"

some people have taken that lesson to heart

Twitter had nothing to do with it

as Karl Popper used to like to say, you really don't understand any intellectual proposition until you understand all the available arguments against it

"it is no small thing to care about a creature that nobody has every cared about before"

you think I am talking about what we owe to animals and to our fellow humans who have fallen on hard times

but here is the counter-proposition, the proposition that all we can do to increase happiness in this world is to do what we can so that somebody, somewhere knows that they are cared about

this is basic Jeeves and Wooster, Veritatis Splendor, Adam Smith on Moral Principles stuff

"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood"
Karl Popper

"It is almost impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood"
a friend of a friend of a friend of Karl Popper's

"I like words, I like lots of other things better, but I like words"

It's weird that he leads off a screed about Elysium-type poverty (workers/fat cats) in his state with talk of homeless encampments.

My city is a growing boomtown, and the homeless as a feature track almost perfectly with the growth in people and money. I am perplexed that others consider this is a sign of poverty. I have supposed it to be an indicator of wealth, and imagined that if we stop booming, it will go back to the way it used to be, when every street corner didn't have somebody resident.

In other words, the presence of ever-larger numbers of panhandlers is an urban amenity. People like those. Yet we have a city "innovation officer" whose job is to search the internet for out-of-the-box solutions to this "problem" like phone apps that let you give directly to individual transients without leaving your office; supper clubs for people to socialize with the homeless; and an airB&B-type app that lets people link up with the homeless and allow them to stay in their houses.

It's all very confusing. If, the minute this town is no longer affluent, this "problem" goes away, was it ever truly a problem? Was the status quo not, for these folks, the solution to their various problems?

Comments for this post are closed