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Showing posts from June, 2017

Special elections lack predictive power.

Between the regular elections in 2008 and 2010, Democrats won 7 of 10 special elections for positions in the US Congress. You may recall the 2010 midterms, in which Republicans won 63 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate, showed that those earlier special elections did not set any sort of trend.

There is a special election in Georgia today for a single seat in the US House of Representatives. It is being hailed (by, for example, the BBC) as "important" and potentially "a major blow to Donald Trump's presidency". I don't want to downplay the impact congresspersons can have on their constituents. Every election to a position of power and visibility is important. But this doesn't have major national implications outside of messaging and mood--and those are outsized and largely irrational.

If Jon Ossoff wins, it won't tip the balance of power in Congress. If he loses, Republicans won't be more powerful than they already are. And in less than two …

What does 'neoliberalism' mean?

I've been confused over the last year or two at the liberal use of 'neoliberal' and 'neoliberalism' amongst liberals. Admittedly, definitions can shift, and meanings can be added to established words, so I get that usage here is changing. Still.

As I understand the terms, they denote belief in pure, free-market, market-driven, and laissez faire economics and economic political policies; and support for privitization, deregulation, and free trade. But then there are people who seem to think 'neoliberal' means "establishment", "internationalist", "centrist", "Keynesian", or simply "not as far to the left as me". Some use it as a handy cudgel, a term of clout without semantic content, removing the possibility of meaningful conversation.

I understand these are words with a convoluted history involving multiple schools of shifting thought, so some confusion (and conflation) is understandable. I admit some confus…

An adventure in bibliophilia and parenting

So I picked up a new, unfinished pine bookcase today for free. Looking forward to filling it later tonight.

It wasn't deep, but it was about 6' long, so it barely fit in my car. I had to have my son ride in the passenger seat. I hit my neck on the thing getting in.

Driving home, I sort of turned to Nathan, whose arm I could just see, and asked, "So, what's it like riding up front?"

"Not normal," he replied, a bit perturbed.

"Not normal?"


"Well," I mused, "Just think of it like getting to be an adult or a really big kid. Anyway, we'll be home soon."

"Ok. Can you set up my seat after that?"

Dealing with lies and liars

The best defense against known lies, empty rhetoric, and pure nonsense is to refuse to report it unless and until it is actually newsworthy. This president and his people  are maliciously taking advantage of media bias towards reporting tweets, statements from those in orbit of a POTUS, and 'both sides'.

I would suggest not acting as a megaphone for known BS is more important than these traditions. We all should pass BS artists by without remark, or dismiss them openly as blathering dastards whose words are not worth repeating.

Vox has just published a piece covering DJ Trump's tendency to use BS to "crowd out" the truth with multiple 'alternative' stories. I think they are right. But at this point, something more than reporting and analysing the BS needs to be done to address it.

Most journalists have an admirable penchant for refusing to report unconfirmed stories or things they know to be false. They should apply it to the Donald John Trump administra…

Or maybe I'm wrong.

I'm not always right. I don't think I'm always right. I am a fallibilist. Anyone could be wrong about anything. These things happen, after all.

Specifically, though, I may be wrong about Jeremy Corbyn and the (polling) direction he's taking Labour in. Though they still favor the Conservatives, the polls are tightening. No one knows which way it might go.

Nate Silver has written a fascinating piece about trying to guess what the numbers mean.

I could live with a Labour victory, slim as the chance may be.