"But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?"
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I really don’t have much to say, but this is just a miserable state of affairs that claws at me.
The whole issue of “deservedness and worthiness” is particularly salient. It’s as if the human tendency to want to prevent freeloading—the agressive egalitarianism whereby those who hoard without contributing are rooted out—is misfiring. I imagine it’s why Reagan’s welfare queen took such a hold on the popular imagination.
When discussing how strictly elections constrain legislators, whose default seems to be shirking public preference, Bryan Caplan argues that the degree of shirking is inversely proportional to the importance of the issue to the public:
- Politicians’ wiggle room creates opportunities for special interest groups—private and public, lobbyists and bureaucrats—to get their way. On my account, though, interest groups are unlikely to directly “subvert” the democratic process. Politicians rarely stick their necks out for unpopular policies because an interest group begs them—or pays them—to do so. Their careers are on the line; it is not worth the risk. Instead, interest groups push along the margins of public indifference. If the public has no strong feelings about how to reduce dependence on foreign oil, ethanol producers might finagle a tax credit for themselves. No matter how hard they lobbied, though, they would fail to ban gasoline.
I'm not sure if that dovetails with your observed equilibrium of democracy, but I was reminded of it.
As for my apathy: I'm apathetic online. It's in person where I have more conviction. I don't think there's a person who knows me well that doesn't also know the extent of my contempt and low regard for this administration and the enabling Republican congressional delegation.
They have more than a fair share of home runs. That AUMF episode was excellent. So was their story on the photojournalist embedded with the medevac team in Afghanistan. Actually this list of 11 episodes is on point for me. But their recent stuff really turned me off, and with so many other good options I couldn't justify returning. As often happens with all my favorite series, I will probably rotate back after some time.
So if GOP heel-dragging is what's gumming up the investigation, what do you see happening if Democrats take over the House in November? (I'm not sure how likely the Senate takeover is. A lot can happen in eleven months but taking the House should be sufficient, no?)
I love the medium. I tend towards informative and longer form. Just a few from the many I rotate through.
FiveThirtyEight's The Gerrymandering Project. The link takes you to the pitch for the series I made on hubski. A deep dive on gerrymandering and six US states' attempts to deal with the issue.
Slate's Amicus. Supreme Court podcast that dives into cases on whatever current cases are on the docket. The guests are almost always decades long SCOTUS correspondents, the top academics of the relevant field of law, expert lawyers, or even parties to the cases themselves. I found out about Rick Hasen, nationally recognized expert in election law and campaign finance regulation, through a recent episode about gerrymandering.
Slate's Slow Burn. A podcast about Watergate. Loads of details about the famous yearslong scandal and its players.
NYTimes' The Daily. 20-30 minute episodes, delivered early every business day, each a deeper dive into a frontpage-worthy story of recent news. This is an excellent podcast. The host has access to the world's foremost journalists from the Times, bringing them in to discuss their coverage of anything and everything. I wind up listening to about 75% of their episodes.
Waking Up with Sam Harris. If you like the host, who has proven to be controversial to some, then you're in good hands. Sam is a neuroscientist, philosopher, and best-selling author who I find to be reasoned, ethical, and fair. Topics range from consciousness, meditation, and current events to AI, political science and economics, and theoretical physics.
Same as you and OB! My god. I dropped Radiolab after repeatedly, uncontrollably groaning out loud at some recent episodes, including their SCOTUS series. Just totally dumbed down, emotional, overwrought pap, with cheesy music to boot. What happened?
I feel an apathetic slumber accompany even the scantest attention to the deluge of scandal, rank idiocy, and bigotry that comes daily out of our nation's capital. Thank you for addressing his recent statements with some care.
Excellent point you make with regards to Norway: why is the president praising a country so politically unlike our own in comparison to Haiti? Only a few days he seems to have forgotten his and his party's position on immigration:
- At one point in the meeting, Trump seemed so amenable to Democratic demands that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) had to jump in and remind Trump of the Republican position on DACA: that any agreement needs to come with substantial border security.
He's a freewheeling boor operating on instinct. Of these instincts, not a few are pure stereotype, racism, and gut-feeling of what the room wants to hear.
When I consider how overt the criminal wrongdoing was in the Watergate breakin, how undeniable the cover-up operation by the administration was--all of it documented by incontrovertible secret tapes--a lot had to "go right" for the House to draw up articles of impeachment. It took over two years from the date of the breakin before Nixon's resignation and it was, by impression, far from inevitable.
It makes me wonder if there are stronger headwinds for Mueller's investigation. Supposing that these two episodes in history are analogous, there are probably no audio recordings of Trump et al admitting plainfully their coordination with Russians or illegal profiteering. Then again, Trump strikes me as incomparably more stupid and sloppy than Nixon, and maybe digital bank records and emails are all the "secret tapes" Mueller needs.
And after Simpson's testimony, Grassley and Lindsey Graham refer Steele to the FBI for criminal charges. Headspinning. Why is Grassley so obsequious to Trump?
That's a good one and I agree. I get exasperated and uneasy at even slight misunderstandings of what I say. Wholesale and repeated fabrication and willful misrepresentation... that's gotta be discouraging.
I would also ask a methods-based question. Something like how does he practice his delivery? Is it the podcasts, talks, and public conversations themselves that represent his practice? He's incredibly articulate and yet doesn't sacrifice the range or quality of argument. Does he stand on the beach and practice with pebbles in his mouth? #Demosthenes
I'll write up my thoughts. I was going to see about meeting wasoxygen before the event, like the last time I was in DC for a lecture/talk, but I'll be with my mom and, even though she's a cool lady, I'm not sure wasO wants to meet her. (Miss Nancy: ... so, you two met on the... Internet?)
The event seems like it could turn into an anti-Trump bonanza. David Frum and Andrew Sullivan are some of the sharpest, most vocal anti-Trumpers I know. But I seem to recall Sam saying he might try to diversify the evening's subject material. Who knows.
Any questions you think I should ask?