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@Herbert80 And an Australian made Braveheart. So? Do Americans shun, let alone "whitewash" the subject? Slavery probably deserves more movies, but there are certainly a lot, e.g. the old and acclaimed TV series Roots, and the recent movie Django Unchained. There are tons of movies about the Civil War. There is a Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian. I am part black and Chickasaw Indian--if there is any whitewashing, it is of the fact that American Indians owned black slaves like my ancestors. It's simply dumb to say that Americans ignore the dark past of slavery, when nearly every one of the 13% of Americans of African descent is descended from a slave and thus a reminder. Unlike American Indians, we're pretty visible, and Americans don't whitewash it. They do say that it is in the distant past.
I should qualify this, as I am falling into Herbert80's fallacy: There are different kinds of "Americans". It was Southerners who owned slaves, and one does occasionally hear Southerners say that slaves were valuable and taken care of well, not cruelly. And there were settlers who killed Indians, and Indians who killed settlers, and American and Indian soldiers who killed each other in war (same as European nations fought each other). But this was well over 100 years ago. I am a Californian, as are my parents. The US is a nation of immigrants--40% of the population of Los Angeles is foreign born--so the descendants of 18th-century criminals are few. If you want to dredge up the deep, dark past of the USA, well, let's do the same for Europe, and not limit ourselves to WWII or even WWI. We'll have to go back to the Napoleonic wars, and look at the behavior of Europeans not only within Europe, but in their colonies.
1 year, 1 month ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116459/generation-war-german-series-about-ww-ii-turns-it-entertainment
A couple of friends and I call whataboutism "Сам дурак". False equivalence is Russians' most common reaction nowadays to criticism. When I said they need an intervention, I didn't mean an invasion, but maybe this Crimean fiasco will force them to look at themselves in the mirror.
1 year, 1 month ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/116816/whataboutism-russia-protests-against-war-ukraine
@BlueMoose Indeed, just as anyone who believes a typically stupid Internet forum post is typical of Obama's opposition ought to just hang it up. What does "many" mean? In our appalling two-party system and polarized nation, the president's approval ratings average around 50% (according to the Wikipedia article on the subject). Given that I myself am half black (and passing), and usually work with Republicans, and rarely notice racism, I suggest that active racism is not playing a significant role. However, "otherness" does reduce sympathy, so whites are on average less likely to cut Obama slack if he screws up, which he has.
1 year, 5 months ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115576/obamacares-web-site-exchange-woes-trace-catos-michael-cannon
@BlueMoose @cvwretired11 Such a primitively racist comment is more likely to be a false flag attack, trying to discredit Obama's opponents as racist and stupid. However, there certainly is a racist element. Funny thing is, if Hillary had won, she would have done pretty much the same thing; as I recall, she tried to do more in 1993.
@BlueMoose Why is that? I am a libertarian, and I think I have generally avoided insults altogether. I suspect that use of insults correlates with traits other than political ideology.
Here I must make my requisite recommendation that everyone read Jonathan Haidt's book The Righteous Mind, or at least watch his TED talk or Colbert Report appearance.
@GarrettEnsign The headlines and scale of the ongoing controversy (from campaign issue to legislative debate to Supreme Court decision) belie that, but let's assume that you are correct. The question still remains: why *not* roll it out geographically, with some intermediate steps between MA and the entire USA? Even if the scope, schedule, and transition risks were as low as you suggest, the political risk was known to be high. Maybe I shouldn't complain--this fiasco is going to cost the Democrats big--but, being black myself, I am not interested in seeing the first black president go down in history as mediocre, let alone a failure. While I may gloat politically, as an IT project manager I empathize. The IT, BA, and PM communities will be using this exchange as a case study for years to come.
@magboy47 @Kapitalizt Kapitalizt's understanding of socialism is certainly no worse than yours of capitalism. Most definitions of socialism include government distribution, not just production; that latter has been largely discredited (except in the US for public schools). In the modern world, we often use socialism as a shortcut to mean social democracy; the popular meaning has changed, as has that of "liberal" in the US (only a pedant still tries to fight that one). Your "pure capitalism" doesn't jibe with the definition that self-describing capitalists would give it, e.g. laissez-faire free market. Healthcare is one of the most regulated sectors of the economy. I can't even get a fish pedicure in the US--have to go to Thailand for it.
@BlueMoose I'm half black myself, originally from California, and heavily involved in the libertarian movement for over a decade (e.g. one of the original organizers of the Free State Project, and a recent delegate to the Libertarian Party National Convention). I find your claims entirely without basis. #3 is also illogical--what the nebulous Tea Party claims is irrelevant; what matters is what libertarians claim. Lots of people say they are libertarian (e.g. Bill Maher) but they are unclear on the concept. Mischaracterizing other political camps is sadly common.
@GarrettEnsign I don't know much about Medicare, let alone to what degree the analogy is appropriate, but anyway the thing about risk is that sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don't. If Romneycare was indeed a success, the next reasonable step would have been to expand it from MA to some larger area, but not across the entire USA, unless there was a significant reason why it had to be all or nothing. This holds true for any major change, even those that I support, even those that involve increasing rights (say legalizing marijuana) rather than restricting them, unless the case is overwhelming (say ending slavery).
@BlueMoose I became a libertarian long before I ever heard of Ron Paul--while I like him, he does not define the philosophy. Funny, just an hour ago I was sent the Nazi party's 25-point program to a friend making opposite but equally silly claims (that the Nazis were not racist, go figure). BTW, I live in Berlin, and the many local libertarians understand that libertarianism does not equal corporatism. But believe whatever you want to believe.
@BlueMoose I understand that fascism is hard to define, but is "unfettered corporate power" even in the ballpark? And is that not a slight mischaracterization of libertarianism, whose fundamental principle is non-aggression? "Power" means the ability to unilaterally change people's rights; a libertarian society would certainly fetter power: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wesley_Newcomb_Hohfeld#Hohfeldian_analysis
@magboy47 Yes, anyone who disagrees with you is sick. I'm sick. I need help.
@BlueMoose Strange assertion...the allegedly liberal media cite Cato quite frequently: http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/think-tank-spectrum-revisited/
If libertarian Cato is "extremist right wing", what does that make the conservative think thanks--"super-duper extremist right wing"?
"...a law that was duly passed by one branch of government, signed by a second, and upheld by a third..." Yes, like marijuana prohibition. There are different kinds of laws, requiring different levels of buy-in. The astounding arrogance of ACA was in expanding the small Romneycare pilot not to just the rest of New England, or a bigger state like NY or CA, but imposing it on the world's third-most populous country. That's no way to conduct a rollout. It is reminiscent of the Soviet experiment, and it will likely end up in the same dustbin of history.
@ssupak, Oi, yeah, your other post with the facts was great. This one returns to the tribalism that I am so sick of. I hear similar mischaracterizations from my libertarian comrades. My recommendation to you, as it is to them, is that you read Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind. Google for it, and you'll find his TED talks and appearance on the Colbert Report. Give it a shot--it's certainly more interesting than beating our usual tribal drums. Signing out.
1 year, 5 months ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115334/marijuana-americas-next-great-political-wedge-issue
@ssupak Ah, I took the term slightly more literally. Conservatives love the "gateway drug" argument. Agree about the racism (being half-black, this is actually my primary concern), but disagree with your focus. The conviction rates could be the result of other factors, e.g. economic specialization based on ethnicity (same as Koreans run dry cleaners and Ethiopians run parking garages, at least in DC) or the urban environments where most blacks are conducting transactions. What is clear, measurable, and indisputable is that half of US murders have both black perps and black victims, mostly young urban males involved in drug gangs. The racism manifests in our ignoring the carnage. In the 1930s, similar gang warfare among whites led to repeal of Prohibition; today we just roll our eyes, sigh, and say what can you do. Google on my name + national+conversation and you'll find my longer opinion column on this topic.
@LifeBdo, The marijuana legalization subject is difficult and contentious enough--do you really want to muddy it by bringing up welfare and the minimum wage? Do you really want to inflame it by suggesting that seattleeng's opinion is based on chain emails? He could respond with a similarly dismissive comment about your obvious lack of economic education, instead of making the argument about the negative impact of minimum wages on employment. In fact, you are arguing his point that legalizing pot would negatively impact taxpayers. "I don't understand conservatives"... Indeed, your post was a classic example of the study that Jonathan Haidt reported about progressives understanding conservatives measurably worse than vice versa (not that conservatives understand progressives well). Google up Haidt's TED talk, and I highly recommend his book The Righteous Mind. It's like the Men Are From Mars guide for political camps. If progressives, conservatives, and libertarians understood where the others are coming from, they might be able to at least communicate.
One comment about your off-topic suggestion: university costs are already mostly government-subsidized, at least in California. Tuitions at the UC and CSU universities are far less than costs. Education is about 1/3 the state+local budgets of many if not most states. On one thing we can all agree: we'd certainly have a lot more money for education if we spent less on incarceration.
@seattleeng, careful with your terminology. Marijuana is habituating, but so are Oreo cookies, according to a recent study. So is my daily cup of coffee. There's no way it is addicting like tobacco, let alone alcohol--the latter is the only drug that can kill an addict quitting cold turkey.
Many things in life are risky--ski long enough and you will lower your IQ by crashing your head into a tree or another skier. Firearms are risky--there are occasion accidents, and people use them to commit crimes. But these negatives do not outweigh the benefits.
I agree about Big Tobacco, but in some places one does see people rolling their own. Someday there will be a backlash against starbuxification.
@seattleeng "Treat marijuana like wine", and it will rarely fall into the hands of teenagers. Rich people also self-medicate: how much are we spending now on prescription tranquilizers and anti-depressants, not to mention alcohol? Last year my wealthy, middle-class uncle died of alcoholism--that doesn't happen from marijuana. I am not FOR leaving poor people to wallow, but I am certainly AGAINST any government role in it. We used to have stronger social institutions, until we nationalized them. I understand your concerns, but they do not justify violating the US Constitution--two violations don't cancel each other out. I would much rather that we live consistently according to our simple principles instead of making a hash of things.
Let's say for the sake of argument that legalizing drugs does increase usage amongst the poor. Would that negative effect be worse than the current black market, leading to a murder rate much higher than our peer nations, costing the US moral authority and justifying calls for gun control?
@seattleeng I agree with you about excessive government welfare, but that is completely irrelevant. If you want to bring up financial issues, we have spent a trillion dollars on the Drug War, with nothing to show for it but the world's highest incarceration rate (vey expensive, both in direct and opportunity costs) and a relatively high murder rate that fuels the gun-grabbers.
We have had great success in reducing tobacco smoking by treating it as a public-health issue. There is no logical reason to treat marijuana any differently from tobacco or alcohol. Unlike them, it is not addictive, and it is certainly less harmful.
@ssupak The Republicans I know are not hippy-punchers, but they are concerned about children and gateway drugs, despite the absurdity of demonizing marijuana while promoting alcohol. As for Obama, I grant that there is an ongoing "only Nixon could go to China" paradox, so it may only be a GOP president who could end the Drug War without appearing "soft on crime". Nonetheless, Obama has been "tougher on crime" than he needed to be, and recent noises about respecting state decisions are too little too late.
@ssupak, I'll certainly agree that the way to sell decriminalization to Republicans is not via "freedom" and "limited government". In that area their brains amazingly tolerant of cognitive dissonance; one must speak to them in terms of their values. Some LEOs are indeed as you describe, but it is often police chiefs who testified against various forms of decrim. I lack the data to say which is more common, but certainly only a tiny minority belong to Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). Like Obama I am half black, and I am not at all happy with his administration's Drug War behavior, e.g. in California. His party controls the Senate; clearly they do not share my priorities.
In 2012, New Hampshire's then overwhelmingly Republican legislature overwhelmingly passed SB409 on medical marijuana, only to see the Democratic governor John Lynch veto it. In 2013, with the NH legislature now in Democratic hands, they passed a watered-down medical-marijuana bill with difficulty, and the new Democratic governor Maggie Hassan signed it without enthusiasm. New Hampshire may be unlike other states, with a GOP more libertarian than conservative, but it seems to me that there are other factors involved, like the political interests of law enforcement organizations.
@StephenKahn, I lived in Russia for 10 years, including Soviet times, and I would make the same comment. For backup, read Timothy Snyder's Bloodlands. You probably feel more familiar with Nazi Germany than Stalin's Russia because of the former's heavy treatment in literature and film; the latter is conspicuously ignored. If you lay out the 20th-century murderous dictators (including Mao, Pol Pot, and Kim Il-Sung) and compare them side by side, you will find interesting similarities in their democides. To me, the most significant difference between Hitler and Stalin is that the latter got away with it, and the symbols of his ideology remain visible today. In Berlin there are as many monuments against Nazism as in Moscow there are celebrating communism.
1 year, 6 months ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114804/whats-behind-vladimir-putins-syria-policy
@beihai When I visited China in 1986, Shanghai had no skyscrapers. If people don't like people, why the massive urbanization? I wish that those concerned about overpopulation could produce some objective indicators besides the level of their own stress hormones.
1 year, 6 months ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114969/too-many-people-case-population-control
@beihai Such a disturbing attitude, "what we do with those workers" and "we don't need to increase them". You a plantation owner, breeding slaves and draft animals according to your needs? Anyway, while I myself am a fan of The Singularity, I think it is reasonable for planning purposes to extrapolate from the past to at least some extent, and there @seattleeng is correct: around the world (but not in Chile), retirement is funded by current workers in underfunded pay-as-you-go pyramid schemes. My quarterly Social Security statement warns me that the system is currently underfunded, so that I will only get 74% of what I am entitled to. A better answer to @seattleeng would be that we should privatize the retirement systems, decoupling them from the population issue.
I find it ironic that progressives, who tend to gravitate to dense urban areas and support pay-as-you-go retirement systems, are afraid of population growth, while conservatives are just the opposite. I guess they fear different things. I wish they would both outgrow their fears, and realize that human heads have not just mouths but brains, the world's most valuable resource. To see how this topic arises every few years, do a web search on the Julian Simon-Paul Ehrlich Wager.
@TNR106646, I think that's a reasonable way to put it. You want an example? Read the reviews of Chuzhie (Strangers) at IMDB.com.
@TNR106646 @PedroZozaya Oh no, this person is not being paid, and there are lots more like him. My personal theory is that Russians have heard enough criticism--one can only drink so much vinegar--and they now want to be proud of their country again. Unfortunately, they have not yet fully faced their past, and sooner or later they will have to.
@PedroZozaya Of course Putin *speaks* about a multi-polar world rather than the bipolar world that he *sees*, that's the point: he is obsessed with the US, and does everything he can to reduce its prestige. Just look at the home page of Russia Today, the Kremlin's foreign propaganda machine. I haven't looked at it in a couple of weeks, but I guarantee that right now half of it is devoted to negative US news.
The author said "KGB" because she was referring to the Soviet-era organization where Putin worked, not the renamed organization of the Russian Federation. And in American English the word is "diapers"--"Pampers" is a brand name of the American company Procter & Gamble, which Russians use to mean disposable diapers.
@noahlibe Yes, but if the vain, expensive campaign in Iraq hasn't stopped the US from blundering on to other Middle Eastern countries, Putin is right to be concerned. Just because a campaign has negative results for the US doesn't mean it will have positive results for Putin.
I found Ioffe's analysis to be quite plausible. Russia today suffers from a sort of national Borderline Personality Disorder--lacking a strong sense of self and purpose, Russia obsesses over its relationships with others, especially the US, cycling through cheerfulness, rage, and sullen silence. I wish Russians would forget about the US and model themselves after Switzerland.
It is sometimes impressive how Americans question and challenge tradition, but sometimes rather pathetic (in the English sense of the word). Culture takes just a few forms, and for tens of thousands of years we all took part in music, singing, dancing, cooking, fighting, and making. Now division of labor has made wealthier, but like ants, specialized, performing our functions. A race of wealthy ants. Few English-speakers learn foreign languages now, because it is not necessary. We exercise less, because it is not necessary. Conservatives recognize that in tradition, even the relatively young 3000-year-old Jewish tradition, there is embedded wisdom, and though one should not accept it blindly, neither should one discard it casually.
1 year, 7 months ago on Conversation @ http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114733/stop-forcing-your-kids-learn-musical-instrument
@JoyceMelton @GeneRalno All true, but the writer is still more informed and engaged than 90% of the US population (just google "public ignorance"), and you might have cut him more slack if he had shared your viewpoint. Some of the rights in the Bill of Rights get more love than the others; in his tome "Shouting Fire", Alan Dershowitz focused on the freedoms of speech and movement, but completely ignored self-defense. I would suggest that a reasonable level of self-defense would be for the typical citizen to have access to the same armaments as the typical soldier, whether spears, muskets, or AR-15s. BTW, you might appreciate Dershowitz's essay on "shouting fire", as his interpretation is somewhat different:
2 years, 3 months ago on Conversation @ http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/12/19/america_s_exceptional_gun_culture
@JoyceMelton @GeneRalno Assuming that Gene meant "right" instead of "need", are there any rights that you consider near absolute? Those that are spelled out in the Bill of Rights are pretty firm.
@Sam the man @bobfrommosinee German Jews were only a small part of the Holocaust. Most of them got out; it was the Polish and other Central European Jews who died in massive numbers. The KKK et al tried to prevent blacks from owning guns; it is my understanding that blacks indeed needed guns, because they could not depend on the police. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/09/the-secret-history-of-guns/308608/
@Guest Again @bobfrommosinee Your link seems to refute your point: the 1938 law restricted ownership of firearms to "...persons whose trustworthiness is not in question and who can show a need for a (gun) permit," and the November followup regulation "effectively deprived all Jews of the right to possess firearms or other weapons."
@GeneRalno Here in New Hampshire, home of the Free State Project, we now have a modest education tax-credit program of $2500/pupil/year. I believe this guy played a role:
@GeneRalno, good comment, but don't you think that we are making some questionable assumptions? First, these mass shootings are sensational but rare, like shark attacks or plane crashes, and it is not necessarily the case that "something must be done." Second, if something is to be done in the case of schools, it is not our place to decide. Privatize the schools and hold them responsible for safety (as any business is); how the schools do it will between them, their customers, and their insurers. I full agree with you about the dysfunctional state of US schools, and I think you might find this essay insightful:
Though I was a valedictorian in my high school, I related to Paul Graham's description 100%.
I will add that gun-control advocates are jumping to conclusions when they assume that the only question here is whether or not to ban the Sandy Hook murderer's weapon of choice. Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people without a gun.
The Drug War is not a factor in the US? What an astounding statement. Go look at the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports for homicide *circumstances*, not just weapon of choice. Those "guns and child mortality rates" include 17-year-olds in drug gangs. Though the US murder rate has fallen by more than 50% since 1980, I expect that an old statistic remains true: if you exclude drug-gang-related murders from the statistics, the US has a murder rate near the European average, the same as Switzerland. For the increased media commentary about guns in America, one would expect a bit more depth, but it remains superficial and primitive, even in the better publications.
2 years, 4 months ago on Conversation @ http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/12/19/america_s_exceptional_gun_culture
Hey Michael! Have you noticed that the Constitution mentions trial by jury in 4 separate places? In New Hampshire we have a brand new law enshrining Jury Nullification, and it just got used, just in time for Constitution Day:
Yup, in New Hampshire every day is Constitution Day!
2 years, 7 months ago on Constitution Day is Every Day.