Thursday, July 18, 2019

Marching Season and Remembering the Past

Here's a report on Marching Day in Northern Ireland.

The Protestant Orange Order is able to muster a lot of people, including a 6-mile long parade, ostensibly to celebrate a battle 330+ years ago.  I write "ostensibly" because it's really an assertion of community identity, at least incidentally in opposition to their Catholic neighbors.

Compare that to the remembrance ceremonies of the white South, celebrating the Confederacy of 158 years ago.  I'm sure there are some scattered around, but they aren't significant enough to warrant much attention. Why the difference?

You suggest one is celebrating a victory, the other an ultimate defeat?

That might logically make a difference, but where are the big parades celebrating the Union victory?  The closest we can come is the Juneteenth observances of recent years. And, more importantly, there's no organization dedicated to the celebration, as well as agitating for the cause now.  We had one such organization, the Grand Army of the Republic, but the GAR ended with the last vet, in 1956.

So why do Americans forget the past more easily than those in Northern Ireland? 

I suspect part of the answer is immigration: we've added millions of people who've no live interest in the fight for the union or the abolition of slavery.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

How Do Small Farms Survive?

Here's the piece from which I stole the heading:
The answer: renting out a minihouse through Airbnb

Another piece in the media suggesting comfort animals, as in those with big brown eyes, aka "cows", is the answer.

The real answers, of course, are:

  1. off-farm income, as has been the case for decades.
  2. drawing down capital (i.e., the value of land and buildings)   (My mother used to fuss about farmers who would be better off selling out and investing the proceeds in bonds.)

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Farming: the Definition

I follow Cam Houle on twitter and was struck by his T-shirt in this tweet.

Turns out the t-shirt is available on Amazon.

It seems even in Canada with its supply management setup, dairying is a losing proposition.

Monday, July 15, 2019

President Carter and the Courts

Slate has an interesting piece on President Carter's approach to filling judicial vacancies: Some points:

  • he was able to persuade Sen. Eastland to support a judicial commission to pick appeals court judges.
  • the result was diversity:
When Carter took office, just eight women had ever been appointed to one of the 500 federal judgeships in the country. (For the purposes of this article, I’m referring to the district courts, appellate courts, and the Supreme Court.) Carter appointed 40 women, including eight women of color. Similarly, before Carter, just 31 people of color had been confirmed to federal courts, often over Eastland’s strenuous disapproval. The peanut farmer from Plains appointed 57 minorities to the judiciary. (He also had more robes to fill: A 1978 bill expanded the federal judiciary by 33 percent, or 152 seats.)
Justices Breyer and Ginsburg were Carter nominees for appeals courts.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

FL Olmsted: Bureaucrat

Reading a biography of Frederick Law Olmsted: "Genius of Place"

He's known as the creator of NYC's Central Park, his first big project just before the Civil War,.   But judging by his career through 1863 when he resigned from the United States Sanitary Commission, which he had serrved as executive secretary through its creation to Gettysburg, his true calling was as a bureaucrat.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Amish Vacations

"Amish vacations" seems like an oxymoron; dairy farmers don't get vacations. 

But the Amish have been moving into other occupations, and they still have big families, meaning someone can be in line to do the day-to-day work even of dairy farms.

So it seems that the Amish do take vacations, as shown by this Kottke post., linking to some photos and older articles.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Farewell to Cokesbury

My sister was a devoted patron of the Cokesbury book store in Syracuse.  It closed in 2012 as part of the closure of its 57 physical stores, shifting to online only.

I suspect the closure reflects both the decline of mainline Protestantism and the impact of Amazon on bookstores. 

Slate has a long piece on the decline of the religious bookstore here, and John Fea links it to evangelical religion.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

On the Filibuster and Policy Flip-Flops

Just replied to an Ezra Klein tweet about ending the filibuster.

If the Democrats can win the presidency, and if they can win control of the Senate, they've not won too much, at least not when compared to the stack of policy proposals the candidates, especially Warren, are coming up with.  The fact that the Senate majority will likely be composed of Sens. Manchin, Rosen, Jones, Kelly (AZ), Gideion (ME) and whoever, all centrists whose seats aren't the most secure, means the most liberal proposals won't get considered in the Senate, regardless of the filibuster.

The filibuster means even somewhat bipartisan measures (say 51 Dems plus 7 Reps) won't pass.

Removing the filibuster means a Dem majority can change policy (if they can agree, which is a big "IF").  My reservations here can be seen in the Mexico City policy on abortion--see my discussion below.

Two considerations might make me change my mind:

  1. suppose ACA is deemed unconstitutional by the Supremes next fall.  Obviously the Dems will want to pass some new healthcare legislation, but what can be passed that will not also be invalidated by the Supremes? I'd like to see some discussion of this.  Is it possible to change ACA enough to get past the 5 conservatives on the Court?  If so, we might need to kill the filibuster to get it done.  Pass it, and hope 8 years of a Dem administration gets it solidly entrenched enough to withstand Rep control of Congress and the Presidentcy.
  2. the other issue is the Congressional Review Act, which has been used extensively by the Reps to kill Obama's regulations.  The Act includes this provision:
(2)rule that does not take effect (or does not continue) under paragraph (1) may not be reissued in substantially the same form, and a new rule that is substantially the same as such a rule may not be issued, unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of the joint resolution disapproving the original rule.
That provision hasn't been tested in the courts, but what it could mean is there's no way for a victorious Dem party to reinstate Obama's regulations.  That's my interpretation, though one should never underestimate the ingenuity of lawyers.  If that's its meaning then we may need to kill the filibuster to permit bare majorities to pass the new laws needed to reauthorize the regulations.

 As Wikipedia describes:
First implemented in 1984 by the Reagan Administration, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has enforced the policy during all subsequent Republican Administrations, and rescinded the policy at the direction of all Democratic Administrations.[3] After its initial enactment by President Reagan in 1984,[4] it was rescinded by Democratic President Bill Clinton in January 1993,[5] then re-instituted in January 2001 as Republican President George W. Bush took office,[6] rescinded in January 2009, as Democratic President Barack Obama took office[7][8] and reinstated in January 2017, as Republican President Donald Trump took office.

That's no way to run a railroad, much less a country, if applied to all major policies.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Big Sort and Actblue

Gave money to Ms. McGrath via Actblue yesterday in the vain hope she'll be able to beat Sen. McConnell.

Something this morning ( likely reading about the Republicans struggle to come up with their own version of Actblue) triggered this thought: over time our politics have become more partisan, our parties more unified, our legislative bodies more cleanly divided; has Actblue been a cause?

Back in my childhood parties were local--you had Tammany Hall dominating NYC politics, various state houses and state bosses controlling how state delegations voted in the national conventions.  National lobbies were groups like Farm Bureau and the Grange, National Association of Manufacturers and Chamber of Commerce, AFL and CIO,  American Bar Association and American Medical Association.  Dollars for national ads weren't important (Ike did the first TV ad in 1952 I believe.

Anyhow, these days individuals can easily give to campaigns across the country, and candidates can fly to New York or LA to raise money from the rich based on their policy positions, not their ability or commitment to do their best for their constituency (a la Sen. Robert Byrd).

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

My Political Thinking on 2020

A couple of Never Trumpers-Megan McArdle and Jennifer someone (forgot her last name) have argued on twitter that Democrats expect too much of them. If I understand they feel Dems want them to vote for any Democrat we nominate, in spite of a leftish platform which violates all conservative principles.

I tweeted replies a couple times to McArdle.but let me be more considered:

  • if you're a Never Trumper, then logically you need to NOT vote for Trump.  Vote libertarian or don't vote, but don't vote for Trump. Yes, that means you're saying Trump's personal and presidential deficiencies, the damage he's doing to our institutions and our world standing, outweigh policy considerations, especially the chance to add two more conservative justices to the Supremes.  If that's your judgment, okay.
  • Consider this, however. Suppose Warren is the candidate and you like only one of her 1,000 plans. If she's elected with your vote, the odds are that she is at best governing with the support of a Democratic House, where the "majority makers" of 2018 are still worrying about their jobs in 2022, and a nominally Democratic Senate, where the balance of power is held by Joe McManchin, Kristen Sinema, Jackie Rosen, Doug Jones, and the winning candidates in ME, CO, AZ, and ?.  In other words, in neither House will there be majority support for the Warren plans which most deeply offend conservative sensibilities.   
In light of the above, my suggestion for Never Trumpers is to vote strategically--if it's close for the presidency, vote for the Dem, knowing we're likely to have split government for the next four years. If it looks good for the Dem, vote libertarian.  If it looks good for Trump, pray.