Reading George Fox

Of Filibusters & Magical Thinking

After listening to Dahlia Lithwick on 2038 today, I had to write her a note. It’s hard to believe someone so smart and incisive can be so blind to political reality. Dahlia, I was just listening to you on the new 2038 podcast. Your support of the Democrats reinstating the judicial filibuster is simply magical thinking ignoring the current reality of the Republican Party. The Democrats simply cannot shame them into re-establishing norms. They already tried to do it once. The Republicans got rid of Blue Slips during the Bush years; Democrats brought them back during Obama’s term; and the Republicans immediately dropped them after Trump was elected. The only thing the Blue Slips did was help McConnell keep spots empty for Trump to appoint more judges. I have no doubt if the filibuster is brought back, the Republicans will get rid of it again when they control the White House and the Senate. Their behavior over the past two decades has not given any reason to believe otherwise. The Democrats are stuck in a prisoner’s dilemma and continually compromising doesn’t work when the Republicans refuse to reciprocate. It’s tantamount to conceding defeat. The correct strategy for the current situation…

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Life Affirming Politics

This is a continuation of a response to @marmanold on Micro.blog. While being pro choice, Democratic priorities would do a lot to reduce the number of abortions: Better and ideally free access to healthcare, especially prenatal and postnatal. Whatever our options are on the status of fetuses, we can all agree that taking care of mother’s during pregnancy and their children after birth is life affirming. A more equal distribution of wealth, free daycare, etc. A significant number of women who get abortions already have children and cite financial reasons about not being able to afford to raise more. Regulation of industries and pollution controls. Environmental factors have clearly been shown to affect the health of children both pre and post birth. One of the most effective methods of reducing abortions is comprehensive sex end and free widely available contraception. Pro-life groups almost always oppose these as well. Abstinence education only delays sexual activity by about 6 months, but when the teens do have sex, they are much more likely to not use contraception. Here’s a really great post from a woman who was strongly pro-life in her teens and was disillusioned with the movement when she learned more in…

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Initial Thoughts About “religious myths recycled as ersatz social science”

@ayjay wrote a strong piece challenging tensions within contemporary liberalism. I need to spend more time digesting it and the piece by John Gray that he links to. Here are some initial reactions though: Gray claims that liberal elites have run the West for the past 30 years. Yet, from the 80s onwards the US has been on a rightward march from the economic liberalism of the New Deal through the Great Society. Conservative thinkers and Republicans seem to have been setting the terms of the debate. The austerity in response to Great Recession had much more to do with conservative Austrian Economics than liberal Keynesian solutions. How much have the resulting economic shocks fueled the extreme left and right? Also, the Chicago School’s 90s shock therapy for Russia may have quite a bit to do with their illiberal turn. I guess the upshot of the above is a question about the relationship between economic beliefs and social beliefs. Has the move back towards conservative economics and greater income inequality affected the place of liberalism within society? Are conservative social beliefs connected to the conservative economic approach? And, if so, how does that relationship affect the liberal response to the…

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A Rigorous Response to A Sophomoric Argument

Berny Belvedere responds to Patrick S. Tomlinson’s Fertility Clinic Hypothetical: (1) The standard liberal position crucially involves the view that every individual has equal value. (2) In a scenario roughly comparable to Tomlinson’s, where a standard liberal had to choose between saving 100 random people, or their own spouse or child, someone who believed that every individual has equal value would easily and unproblematically choose to save the hundred random individuals. (3) But if a standard liberal were actually put in such a scenario, he would choose to save the family member. (4) Thus, standard liberals don’t really believe every individual has equal value. (5) The liberal position is a sham. This argument is unserious because Tomlinson is not arguing about what people would do, but what people believe they should do. The “standard liberal” (or at least a rigorous utilitarian) would admit saving family over strangers was the morally wrong choice and, if they had the courage of their convictions, they’d save the 100 people. We see this scenario played out in movies all the time. It happens three times in Infinity War: Quill and the Scarlet Witch make the choice to kill their romantic partner to stop Thanos.…

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A Response To Dave Winer’s Claim of Small Justification

Today Dave Winer linked to his earlier post claiming there was a small justification for the internment camps at the border. I’m going to leave aside the argument that there can be a moral justification for imprisoning these children. If a law is fundamentally unjust and immoral, the duty of the law-abiding is civil disobedience, not acquiescence. So, for sake of argument, it is moral1 to imprison refugee children, either by separating them from their parents or with their parents for an indefinite length of time. To justify such a law, for legal asylum seekers who have committed a misdemeanor2, the policy would have to be both by far the most effective and least punitive. Oddly enough, Winer himself has linked to the evidence that interning asylum seekers and their children does not meet these standards. ICE used to have two less punitive and restrictive methods: the Intensive Supervision Alternative Program (ISAP) and the Family Case Management Program (FCMP). In the former, electronic ankle bracelets were used to track asylum seekers and 99.6% showed up for their court dates.3 Regular phone check-ins and unannounced visits were also part of the program. This is hardly “catch-and-release”. In the FCMP, social workers…

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Don’t Let Those Bastards Own the Flag

Calling the atrocities un-American is important. We have dismally fail to live up to our ideals again and again. Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner and a rapist. But his words in the Declaration of Independence are America too. We have done terrible things. We have made a mockery of our rhetoric again and again. We have killed and tortured and raped and slaughtered. We must not let that happen again. We must rise to the challenge of our claim that all men people are created equal. Those who are torturing children do not own the flag. The true patriots are those protesting at the gates. Update 10-13-2018: Was looking back through the blog and noticed the gendered quotation.

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They Cannot Wait

This isn’t the preeminent crisis at the moment, but I wrote a response on the urgency of carceral state reform and thought it worthy to post directly on my blog. The full conversation is here. You are right that we need to work on getting buy in from the rank and file. But even if you’re correct and the system only fails 20% of the time, that’s thousands of innocent people suffering. They shouldn’t have to wait for justice because it’s hard to get the rank and file on board. Also, there will be times when it is simply not possible to convince them. If we reduce the incarceration rate to triple the European average, the majority of prison guards will lose their jobs. They are going to fight hard as hell to keep their livelihood. Or an example from Pennsylvania: if a former prosecutor turned Republican State Senator, multiple rigorous studies, and participating in a five year commission couldn’t convince the DAs to accept reform, the hill is a pretty steep climb. How many people suffered unjustly while we were trying to persuade them? So, at the same time we work within the system, we must also, as Dr.…

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Another Broken System with Good People

@dynamitemoth My unconscious came up with a perhaps less controversial parallel overnight. The American healthcare system is full of hard working, caring people who are truly doing their best. Yet we still spend twice as much as other rich countries while covering less people. The system is structured that often the best option is the emergency room, which is also the most expensive option. Insurance is so complex that patients need to make sure that the doctors treating them are on their plan even when the hospital is.1 A personal example: I was in the psychiatric ward of a well respected and good hospital. However, a private company had recently bought it and was cutting the budget to increase profitably. One weekend there were simply not enough staff. Those who were there were incredibly compassionate and good at their jobs, but there weren’t enough of them and patients ended up taking care of other patients. Which of course triggered us creating a shit show cascade of trauma. There were no evil or incompetent people, yet the situation was terrible. At one of the best hospitals specializing in a specific area of mental health. When the system is broken, the intentions…

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