How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

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Shem
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Shem » 30 Dec 2018, 14:32

Hugh Akston wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 13:50
Shem wrote:
29 Dec 2018, 23:01
Hugh Akston wrote:
29 Dec 2018, 14:34
Shem wrote:
28 Dec 2018, 22:31
Hugh Akston wrote:
28 Dec 2018, 22:24
thoreau wrote:
28 Dec 2018, 18:57
It may very well be that the Mueller investigation will fail to find anything that merits impeachment. And it is certainly true that Mueller will fail to find anything that is persuasive to the core MAGA crowd. But I simply cannot equate the Mueller investigation with Obama's birth certificate. The Birthers had absolutely zilch going for them. It was insane from the start and every subsequent investigation bore that out.
For people outside the web of thumbtacks and red string, they are both attempts to invalidate a presidency through eyerolly legal technicalities. They both distract from the actual harms caused by the actual policies implemented during the administrations. They both become focal points for the loudest people on either side because they don't want to grapple with the lack of intellectual foundation for their policy positions.
What would have to come to light to move this beyond "eyerolly legal technicalities" for you?
A crime that deserves the name. Something where there is a victim who has been harmed. Campaign reporting laws don't strike me as a jailable or impeachment-worthy offense, and obstruction of justice is just the rich man's version of resisting arrest.
So, if the new reports pan out, and Cohen really did go to Prague to hire Romanian hackers, where does that fall on the "actual crime" scale?
I think it would definitely disqualify Michael Cohen from being president.
Would ordering Michael Cohen to do it be disqualifying?
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Mo
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Mo » 30 Dec 2018, 14:50

Shem wrote:
Hugh Akston wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 13:50
Shem wrote:
29 Dec 2018, 23:01
Hugh Akston wrote:
29 Dec 2018, 14:34
Shem wrote:
28 Dec 2018, 22:31
Hugh Akston wrote:
28 Dec 2018, 22:24
For people outside the web of thumbtacks and red string, they are both attempts to invalidate a presidency through eyerolly legal technicalities. They both distract from the actual harms caused by the actual policies implemented during the administrations. They both become focal points for the loudest people on either side because they don't want to grapple with the lack of intellectual foundation for their policy positions.
What would have to come to light to move this beyond "eyerolly legal technicalities" for you?
A crime that deserves the name. Something where there is a victim who has been harmed. Campaign reporting laws don't strike me as a jailable or impeachment-worthy offense, and obstruction of justice is just the rich man's version of resisting arrest.
So, if the new reports pan out, and Cohen really did go to Prague to hire Romanian hackers, where does that fall on the "actual crime" scale?
I think it would definitely disqualify Michael Cohen from being president.
Would ordering Michael Cohen to do it be disqualifying?
Or knowing about Cohen doing it and covering it up?
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Warren » 30 Dec 2018, 15:23

Mo wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 14:50
Shem wrote:
Hugh Akston wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 13:50
Shem wrote:
29 Dec 2018, 23:01
Hugh Akston wrote:
29 Dec 2018, 14:34
Shem wrote:
28 Dec 2018, 22:31

What would have to come to light to move this beyond "eyerolly legal technicalities" for you?
A crime that deserves the name. Something where there is a victim who has been harmed. Campaign reporting laws don't strike me as a jailable or impeachment-worthy offense, and obstruction of justice is just the rich man's version of resisting arrest.
So, if the new reports pan out, and Cohen really did go to Prague to hire Romanian hackers, where does that fall on the "actual crime" scale?
I think it would definitely disqualify Michael Cohen from being president.
Would ordering Michael Cohen to do it be disqualifying?
Or knowing about Cohen doing it and covering it up?
What are the alleged actions involved in the coverup?
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Hugh Akston » 30 Dec 2018, 16:14

Mo wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 14:50
Shem wrote:
Hugh Akston wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 13:50
Shem wrote:
29 Dec 2018, 23:01
Hugh Akston wrote:
29 Dec 2018, 14:34
Shem wrote:
28 Dec 2018, 22:31

What would have to come to light to move this beyond "eyerolly legal technicalities" for you?
A crime that deserves the name. Something where there is a victim who has been harmed. Campaign reporting laws don't strike me as a jailable or impeachment-worthy offense, and obstruction of justice is just the rich man's version of resisting arrest.
So, if the new reports pan out, and Cohen really did go to Prague to hire Romanian hackers, where does that fall on the "actual crime" scale?
I think it would definitely disqualify Michael Cohen from being president.
Would ordering Michael Cohen to do it be disqualifying?
Or knowing about Cohen doing it and covering it up?
Is there evidence of either of those?
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Jadagul
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Jadagul » 30 Dec 2018, 17:29

The thing about Trump is that he's spending down institutional capital.

And the problem is that spending down capital makes you look richer while you're doing it.

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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Mo » 30 Dec 2018, 17:31

At this point, there is no public evidence. But until Cohen pleaded with Mueller, there was no evidence that Trump new about Stormy Daniels. Hard to believe that his personal lawyer/fixer would be doing stuff without his knowledge.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by thoreau » 30 Dec 2018, 17:39

Jadagul wrote:The thing about Trump is that he's spending down institutional capital.

And the problem is that spending down capital makes you look richer while you're doing it.
He's spending the capital of the legislative branch, mostly. When this thing comes to its inevitable bad ending the executive will be stronger, not weaker. By not removing him Congress makes itself weak.

I could live with a situation where he is impeached and convicted, removed from office, but then pardoned so that he can't be convicted in a criminal court. That way we avoid the outcome of a banana republic, while sending a signal against his conduct and asserting the strength of Congress relative to the presidency.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Jadagul » 30 Dec 2018, 17:51

thoreau wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 17:39
Jadagul wrote:The thing about Trump is that he's spending down institutional capital.

And the problem is that spending down capital makes you look richer while you're doing it.
He's spending the capital of the legislative branch, mostly. When this thing comes to its inevitable bad ending the executive will be stronger, not weaker. By not removing him Congress makes itself weak.

I could live with a situation where he is impeached and convicted, removed from office, but then pardoned so that he can't be convicted in a criminal court. That way we avoid the outcome of a banana republic, while sending a signal against his conduct and asserting the strength of Congress relative to the presidency.
He's not spending his personal political capital. He's spending the country's institutional capital, which is just another way of saying "he's violating important norms."

But this is my answer to the argument about why we're more upset about him than Bush despite Iraq etc. Bush definitely caused more direct deaths (though, to be fair, Iraq hadn't started yet in this point in Bush's term, and there's still time). So why do I act like Trump is much more damaging?

And my answer is that Trump is doing damage that takes a while to manifest. He's spending institutional capital. It took a long time to build a society where politicians mostly weren't very corrupt, and our leadership is basically honest, and there's a basic agreement about facts on the ground, and the president doesn't interfere with Justice department investigations of his political allies and enemies, and all the things we call a high-trust society. And Trump is breaking that down.

And the thing about that, the thing about any spending of capital, is that it makes you look rich in the short run. If you take out a huge mortgage on your house and spend the money on a vacation to Europe, it makes you look rich next year. Because you're taking a fancy vacation to Europe. But in reality it makes you poorer, in a way that will eventually make itself known.

Trump is doing a ton of damage. But it's all quiet capital damage, not obvious current-cash-flow damage. And that makes him look better in the short term, while he's actually worse.

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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Aresen » 30 Dec 2018, 18:27

Agree with Jadagul. Trump is also squandering the US' diplomatic capital. Even if his successor decides to play nice again, a lot of countries are going to say 'Why the Hell should we trust America? How do we know they won't elect another Trump?'
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Kolohe » 30 Dec 2018, 18:27

Team Jagadul
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Mo » 30 Dec 2018, 18:31

thoreau wrote:
Jadagul wrote:The thing about Trump is that he's spending down institutional capital.

And the problem is that spending down capital makes you look richer while you're doing it.
He's spending the capital of the legislative branch, mostly. When this thing comes to its inevitable bad ending the executive will be stronger, not weaker. By not removing him Congress makes itself weak.

I could live with a situation where he is impeached and convicted, removed from office, but then pardoned so that he can't be convicted in a criminal court. That way we avoid the outcome of a banana republic, while sending a signal against his conduct and asserting the strength of Congress relative to the presidency.
Depends how Congress responds. A lot of limits on the exec, like the War Powers Act, came after executive overreach and misconduct. If we see more stories like this and where Congress puts limits on “emergency powers” that are facially not about emergencies, the executive could get weaker.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/12/ ... ry-1074808
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Mo » 30 Dec 2018, 18:31

Team Jadagul and RSN.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by thoreau » 30 Dec 2018, 18:31

Jadagul, I agree with a lot of what you wrote, but I think you underestimate the gulf between your stance and that of others:
It took a long time to build a society where politicians mostly weren't very corrupt
What is corruption? Outright hands in cookie jars are certainly rare. But a lot of people nonetheless notice that the system is still a lot better for some than for others, and especially for those from the social, professional, and educational circles that politicians come from. Liberals and populists could point to the lenient treatment of white collar crime and questionable corporate behavior. Conservatives and libertarians could point to the ways in which the regulatory and administrative state provide ample employment for a certain professional tier, both public sector jobs and lots of legal, corporate, and consulting jobs for professionals with the right know-how to navigate the system. Everyone could point to revolving doors between the public and private sectors for people in a certain tier of officialdom. And everyone except some libertarians could point out that there are a whole lot of perfectly legal ways for rich people to spend money electing politicians.

And even if those politicians never take a single illicit dime while in office, all of them seem to live pretty comfortably, and none of them hurt for lucrative and undemanding employment after leaving office.

You have to have a certain kind of perspective to see that as a clean system. And the more that mostly reasonable people try to deny that, the more that other people sympathize with the guy who wants to smash stuff while also grabbing a bit for his family business, and calling in some favors from foreign governments along the way.

Trump didn't start the erosion of trust. He's just rolling with it and speeding it up.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by thoreau » 30 Dec 2018, 18:36

TL;DR If corruption means "Procedures weren't followed" then our system isn't very corrupt. If corruption means "Procedures are rigged" then maybe the system isn't as clean as we want to think. I mean, I'm a reasonably comfortable public university employee, Jadagul's in a job supported in part by student loans, financial aid, and the tax advantaged status of donations to private colleges. Others here have niches that this system treats well. This is less of a "Lol libertarians driving on public roads" point and more of a "The system seems cleanest to those who never get splattered with mud" point.

Last edited by thoreau on 30 Dec 2018, 18:36, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Mo » 30 Dec 2018, 18:38

The fact that no Republicans give a shit about clear emoluments violations is pretty gross
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by thoreau » 30 Dec 2018, 18:50

Mo wrote:The fact that no Republicans give a shit about clear emoluments violations is pretty gross
This. It guarantees that we will get more of this in the future.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Jadagul » 30 Dec 2018, 19:46

thoreau wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 18:31
Jadagul, I agree with a lot of what you wrote, but I think you underestimate the gulf between your stance and that of others:
It took a long time to build a society where politicians mostly weren't very corrupt
What is corruption? Outright hands in cookie jars are certainly rare. But a lot of people nonetheless notice that the system is still a lot better for some than for others, and especially for those from the social, professional, and educational circles that politicians come from. Liberals and populists could point to the lenient treatment of white collar crime and questionable corporate behavior. Conservatives and libertarians could point to the ways in which the regulatory and administrative state provide ample employment for a certain professional tier, both public sector jobs and lots of legal, corporate, and consulting jobs for professionals with the right know-how to navigate the system. Everyone could point to revolving doors between the public and private sectors for people in a certain tier of officialdom. And everyone except some libertarians could point out that there are a whole lot of perfectly legal ways for rich people to spend money electing politicians.

And even if those politicians never take a single illicit dime while in office, all of them seem to live pretty comfortably, and none of them hurt for lucrative and undemanding employment after leaving office.

You have to have a certain kind of perspective to see that as a clean system. And the more that mostly reasonable people try to deny that, the more that other people sympathize with the guy who wants to smash stuff while also grabbing a bit for his family business, and calling in some favors from foreign governments along the way.

Trump didn't start the erosion of trust. He's just rolling with it and speeding it up.
There's a reason for some of the hedging there. Things could be _much better_ on these metrics (and from what I can tell, there are a few places like Sweden where they are), but it took a long time and a lot of effort to get them to be as good as they are.

And it's partly because distrust is self-reinforcing. If you believe that everyone is just out to get theirs, then you don't condemn your guy when he's caught getting his. And then there's no reason not to get yours, and we drift one more step down the slope of corruption.

You can see this really explicitly in the discourse around Trump. People don't deny that he's being somewhat corrupt. They say that everyone else is just as corrupt, and either Trump is just worse at hiding it, or people hold it against him because they independently dislike him. You can see Warren doing that in this thread, but it's also exactly what my father says.

(And with the demographics flipped, it's what a lot of African-Americans in New Orleans said about William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson when he got caught on camera taking cash bribed from the FBI. "Everyone in politics is taking bribes. They're just out to get him because he's a black man doing what all the white men do.")

Trump exploited that distrust, and also active feeds it. And that's one of the many ways he's spending down capital.

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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by thoreau » 30 Dec 2018, 20:34

I know that improving these things is easier said than done. But credibility is maintained by demonstrated effort to either improve or at least not backslide. That means vigilance about white collar crime rather than eyerolling about the mobs going after the rich. That means pruning of regulations and processes when feasible, rather than convening a committee on assessment of metrics for bureaucratic streamlining. That means more attention to the optics of revolving doors and compliance hurdles that are only feasible for big corporations. That means pushing back on narratives that castigate blue collar whites for their privilege while celebrating ornamental diversity in the professional classes.

We on this forum are in agreement on some of these things, we fight loudly over others, and are probably irrelevant to all of them. But as a critique, I think it is important to see that it isn't enough to point out how well we've done on these things; we need to show the ways that the classes benefiting from the system as it exists are trying to do even better for all. Otherwise legitimacy is lost.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by thoreau » 30 Dec 2018, 20:37

"They were basically like D&D min maxers, but instead of pissing off their DM, they destroyed the global economy. Also, instead of their DM making a level 7 paladin fight a beholder as punishment, he got a +3 sword of turning."
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by thoreau » 30 Dec 2018, 20:56

Also, Jadagul, you know better than anyone how arbitrary some things are, and how much they depend on perspective. Part of the argument that Trump is so much more corrupt hinges on the idea that adherence to existing rules makes one clean. There libertarian critiques to offer in response, and more general "I just see the differences as being much smaller than you do" critiques, and they all come down to your perspective. It's postmodernism for the right wing.

You and I and some others here have comfortable lives enabled by our ability to operate in structures of or benefiting from the administrative state. I do think that I can make my case to people who don't share in that comfort, but it is a much easier case to make if the existing system is working well for you.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Jadagul » 30 Dec 2018, 21:15

I have...not been impressed by Timothy Burke's writing over the past few years. (Which is a shame; I really liked it back in the mid 2000s).

One thing that frustrates me about these conversations is that, objectively speaking, most things have mostly been getting better for most people. (Though yes, this is subject to disputes about what qualifies as important and objective. I do get very impatient with existential angst sometimes).

But yes. The core of my case is that the system we have _works really well_, and thus is worth preserving. And the belief that the system works well is a big part of what it makes well---that's what they mean by "legitimacy". And Trump's argument that the system is broken is another form of spending down that institutional capital.

I do have a friend with an interesting argument. Neoliberal technocracy should be performing much better than it is. (See e.g. the difficulty maintaining full employment and letting inflation tap 2.5% ever). And that's it's biggest weakness, really: that it's not living up to its own potential. So we really need to push there.

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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Hugh Akston » 30 Dec 2018, 21:16

Aresen wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 18:27
Agree with Jadagul. Trump is also squandering the US' diplomatic capital. Even if his successor decides to play nice again, a lot of countries are going to say 'Why the Hell should we trust America? How do we know they won't elect another Trump?'
This is an important lesson that other countries, NGOs, and future freedom fighters would do well to learn.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by JasonL » 30 Dec 2018, 21:51

Jadagul wrote:
thoreau wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 17:39
Jadagul wrote:The thing about Trump is that he's spending down institutional capital.

And the problem is that spending down capital makes you look richer while you're doing it.
He's spending the capital of the legislative branch, mostly. When this thing comes to its inevitable bad ending the executive will be stronger, not weaker. By not removing him Congress makes itself weak.

I could live with a situation where he is impeached and convicted, removed from office, but then pardoned so that he can't be convicted in a criminal court. That way we avoid the outcome of a banana republic, while sending a signal against his conduct and asserting the strength of Congress relative to the presidency.
He's not spending his personal political capital. He's spending the country's institutional capital, which is just another way of saying "he's violating important norms."

But this is my answer to the argument about why we're more upset about him than Bush despite Iraq etc. Bush definitely caused more direct deaths (though, to be fair, Iraq hadn't started yet in this point in Bush's term, and there's still time). So why do I act like Trump is much more damaging?

And my answer is that Trump is doing damage that takes a while to manifest. He's spending institutional capital. It took a long time to build a society where politicians mostly weren't very corrupt, and our leadership is basically honest, and there's a basic agreement about facts on the ground, and the president doesn't interfere with Justice department investigations of his political allies and enemies, and all the things we call a high-trust society. And Trump is breaking that down.

And the thing about that, the thing about any spending of capital, is that it makes you look rich in the short run. If you take out a huge mortgage on your house and spend the money on a vacation to Europe, it makes you look rich next year. Because you're taking a fancy vacation to Europe. But in reality it makes you poorer, in a way that will eventually make itself known.

Trump is doing a ton of damage. But it's all quiet capital damage, not obvious current-cash-flow damage. And that makes him look better in the short term, while he's actually worse.
Ok so - I agree with this and I think there’s a risk of taking it too seriously as a trump driven phenomenon. Capital is being burned from both ends. He is stressing norms but also they are out to get him. The media is earning their lumps. There were calls for impeachment from the moment he set foot in office. This is why I think you have to be a really careful about the terms under which you take steps to remove a guy from office.

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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by Shem » 30 Dec 2018, 22:12

Jadagul wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 17:51
Trump is doing a ton of damage. But it's all quiet capital damage, not obvious current-cash-flow damage. And that makes him look better in the short term, while he's actually worse.
I dunno that it's worse so much as it's not as likely to prompt changes in enough time to make a difference. It's more like the difference between having diabetes and having malaria. If you have malaria, everyone knows it and you're going to get treatment fairly quickly. If you have diabetes, it's just as dangerous long-term, but much easier to ignore until you go into a coma or get gangrene in your foot.
JasonL wrote:
30 Dec 2018, 21:51
There were calls for impeachment from the moment he set foot in office. This is why I think you have to be a really careful about the terms under which you take steps to remove a guy from office.
There were emoluments issues from the moment he set foot in office. He should have been offered the choice of true divestment from his business or impeachment. That he wasn't has allowed him to demonstrably enrich himself through his connection to the office. It's a good example of one of the previously mentioned "impeachable but not illegal" crimes.
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Re: How do you solve a problem like a MAGA?

Post by JasonL » 30 Dec 2018, 22:18

So in your view you don’t need literally anything from mueller, right?

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