Beto O’ Rourke Demonstrates a Statistical Concept

Many moons ago in statistics courses as a young, skinny, eager to learn graduate student, we discussed the statistical concept of regression to the mean. I will just put it in layman’s terms, which is that if in statistics you happen across an outlier and subsequent measurements have it closer to the mean, it is known as regression to the mean. Again, I am paraphrasing and not getting into linear regression or any of the more complicated things- you statisticians and math whizzes can clarify anything I have argle-bargled in the comments. At any rate, regression to the mean has a number of colloquial names, one of which is reversion to mediocrity.

Beto O’Rourke really looked like an outlier in his Senate campaign in 2016- people were whispering Barack 2 and there was a huge buzz about him running for President, and blah blah blah you remember the campaign. As time has shown us, running against the most hated man in the Senate who was potentially not only the Zodiac Killer but the son of the man who killed JFK really helped out Beto. Since then it has been a steep decline into a shitty brand of travelogue videos and unforced errors and, well, this:

Which gets me to the point of this post, which is Beto’s announcement today:

Non-military households would pay a “war tax” to help cover the health care of veterans of newly-authorized wars under a plan Beto O’Rourke’s campaign unveiled Monday.

The former Texas congressman and 2020 Democratic presidential contender’s proposal is part of a series of health and economic measures aimed at improving care for veterans.

O’Rourke is in Tampa on Monday for a veterans’ roundtable, where he is expected to discuss his plan for the first time. It comes before the Democratic field holds its first debate Wednesday and Thursday nights in Miami.

O’Rourke is also calling for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with half the money currently being spent there redirected to programs for veterans of those wars.

Money collected through the “war tax” — which he is proposing for future wars — would go into a new trust fund for veterans established at the outset of each war.

I will fully admit that I have not kept up with everything that has oozed out of Seth Moulton’s piehole or followed Tulsi Gabbard’s grift in detail, so I can not say this with 100% certainty, but this is the dumbest fucking thing that I have observed any Democratic candidate propose this election cycle. It’s so stupid I’m sure I can’t cover all the ways it is bad.

First and foremost, we already have a crisis with our military- it’s been volunteer for so long that we now have generations of professional soldiers with children who are now professional soldiers, and it has become the family business. On top of our already jingoistic authoritarianism that is so prevalent (fucking every sporting event is brought to you by the military/industrial complex, military discounts, sappy commercialism, fucking spots at Lowe’s reserved for veterans, and all the other bullshit), we’ve gotten to the point that a number of soldiers and veterans ALREADY think they are better than the rest of the country. That’s bad.

Second, non-military families already pay a war tax, and it is called THE FEDERAL INCOME TAX.

Third, we already set aside money for special things. Perhaps you have heard of social security. That money is safe and secure, right?

And on and on and on. Maybe Beto thinks this will slow down future calls for war. He’s wrong. Only one thing, and one thing only, will do that- bring back the draft.

What he is proposing is a bad idea. Only someone not qualified for President would look at this and say “sure, that makes sense.” Only someone manifestly unfit to be President would then PRESENT THE IDEA AS HIS OWN. Just stop sending fucking people off to pointless wars and stop electing Republicans who want to cut VA funding and privatize it. The End.

***

So Beto O’Rourke, as it turns out, is very fucking average. And I don’t say that as an insult. I consider myself a very average person. I remember a conversation I had last year with my doctor when he was talking about blood pressure medicine and rare possible side effects, and I just stopped him and told him- “I’ve discovered over the years that I am a very average person. What I mean by that is if a drug, or exercise regimen, or rehab plan, or basically anything works for 95/100 people if they follow it, it will work for me. I’m never one of the 5/100 who has complications.” Everything about me is rather unremarkable- even my blood type is O+, the most common blood type there is. I have very average goals in life, I have very average interests. My intellect may be a little above your average bear, but I have made up for that with decades of booze and a degree in street pharmacology, with a little laziness and by being easily distracted by pretty things and animals.

And I am perfectly ok with that! I know I sound angry a great deal, but it’s because I am usually ranting when you read me, but for the most part I am very happy and content and ok with my lot in life. I like blending in, I like not being the center of attention. I lived with some overachievers in undergraduate- guys who were in student government and fancied themselves leaders and wanted to be the best at everything and you know the type. Went off to be lawyers, work on Wall Street, try to conquer the world and the like. They all are 50-51, just quit their jobs because they are burnt out and miserable, and are really struggling trying to figure things out- what do I want to do, where do I want to live, how do I find meaning, all that kind of shit. I try to tell them to get some dogs and a garden and some birdfeeders and to live more in the moment and stop worrying about what other people think, and if they really want to be humbled and gain some perspective on their place in the universe, get a cat. But they don’t listen and are talking about STARTING A NONPROFIT or GOING TO CULINARY SCHOOL or GIVING BACK.

So average and mediocre aren’t insults- it’s the norm. And it is ok.

Unfortunately for Beto, though, we don’t need an average President. So maybe just pencil in some time for skateboarding or haircuts in 2020. I also hear there is a Senate seat in Texas you could run for.






207 replies
  1. 1
    rikyrah says:

    Say it with your chest, Cole.
    Tell it.

  2. 2
    Tom Levenson says:

    Righteous. And spot on.

  3. 3
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    This is one your best pieces of writing, John.

  4. 4
    Cervantes says:

    Pedantry alert: FYI regression to the mean has nothing really to do with regression analysis, they just both contain the word regression, but it’s used in a different sense.

    Regression to the mean is the explanation for a large part of the placebo effect.

  5. 5
    Miss Bianca says:

    My intellect may be a little above your average bear, but I have made up for that with decades of booze and a degree in street pharmacology, with a little laziness and by being easily distracted by pretty things and animals.

    Ha ha, with a bit of modification on the alcohol/street pharma side, this could be me you’re talking about!

  6. 6
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    Worth the time it takes to read it just for this: “…and if they really want to be humbled and gain some perspective on their place in the universe, get a cat.”

  7. 7
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    Kind of a twisted-up way to apply “regression to the mean,” but hey, you’re trying, so part credit for that. /former stat instructor

    Yeah, I couldn’t figure out WTF Beto was thinking with that war-tax thingie. Especially the nitwit notion that only households with no one in the services would pay it.

    How ’bout we just commit ourselves (as Democrats) to (1) think really long & hard about going to war before actually doing it, and (2) fully fund the next one (if there’s a next one) from the gitgo, including veterans’ needs, instead of putting it on our grandkids’ generation’s credit card (which might just encourage a lot more of (1) beforehand)?

  8. 8
    Betty Cracker says:

    I agree this war tax is a horrible idea, mainly because it reinforces the warrior class ethos already rampant in our society. That is undeniably a terrible thing, and O’Rourke should have realized it would be an unintended side effect of such a proposal.

    That said, I don’t completely write the guy off for that one mistake. He’s not in my top five, and I think he’s running mostly because he enjoyed running for the senate, but I do hope he has a future in the Democratic Party. He has great ideas on many issues, including immigration and gay rights.

    He’s also charismatic — a quality I wish was not as important as it is, but here we are. And he has a knack for explaining obvious things about civil rights to dumb white people, a rare talent that we cannot afford to squander as a nation populated by tens of millions of dumb white people.

  9. 9
    Baud says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    Right. Every candidate is going to have at least one bad idea.

  10. 10
    Baud says:

    Maybe Beto thinks this will slow down future calls for war. He’s wrong. Only one thing, and one thing only, will do that- bring back the draft.

    I really doubt this. Compared to wars in the past, our current wars put far fewer people in harm’s way. But it’s not going to happen so there’ll be no way to test the experiment.

    ETA: maybe a war tax on autocorrect mistakes.

  11. 11
    TenguPhule says:

    and if they really want to be humbled and gain some perspective on their place in the universe, get a cat.”

    But then some fool looks at the cat and tries to imitate it and bam, there’s another Republican.

  12. 12
    TenguPhule says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    And he has a knack for explaining obvious things about civil rights to dumb white people, a rare talent that we cannot afford to squander as a nation populated by tens of millions of dumb white people.

    So a potential AG appointee then?

  13. 13
    AnotherBruce says:

    At least you’re on the good side of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  14. 14
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Betty Cracker: I agree with this. This particular idea is a bad one, but some of his other plans are pretty damn good. He also has be good on immigration and asylum since before he announced.

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @TenguPhule: No. For a reason that should be obvious.

  16. 16
    Fair Economist says:

    I’m for just about anything that will make declaring war more difficult, so I think this would be a great law. I’d prefer a blanket income tax increase, but this will do.

  17. 17
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Cervantes: Actually linear regression and regression to the mean are connected!! The connection is historical. I didn’t learn that until recently.

    Basically the inventor of linear regression was trying to correlate stats about children with the same stats for their parents, trying to figure out how correlated they were. Generally you’d get a line with a slope less than 1, indicating that there was some inheritance there but some “just lucky I guess” for the outlier parents. So regression to the mean was exactly what he was studying.

  18. 18
    rikyrah says:

    A New Toni Morrison Documentary Gives the World’s Greatest Living Writer Her Flowers, and Plants New Seeds

    Anne Branigin
    Friday 2:30pm

    Toni Morrison had to figure out a way to talk to Muhammad Ali. It was the mid-’70s and at the time, she was his editor, tasked with bringing his autobiography to the world. But Ali wouldn’t speak to her—deferring instead to whatever man was in the room.

    Her longtime friend, author and activist Angela Davis, recalls seeing that dynamic play out—and witnessing Morrison come up with a solution. At the time, Morrison had already published The Bluest Eye and Sula, but it wasn’t her literary heft that she threw at the heavyweight champion. Knowing how much Ali held mother figures in reverence, Morrison, the mother of two boys, spoke to Ali in ways “that reminded him of his mother,” Davis recalls, eventually using this to forge a deep connection to the boxer.

    It’s a story Davis recalls while on the phone with me, and that Morrison tells herself in a new documentary, The Pieces I Am, in theaters this Friday.

    In Davis’ words, the documentary is a “living memorial” to Morrison’s life and work. Directed by Morrison’s friend and photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, what makes The Pieces I Am particularly gratifying is its mosaic quality. Taken from a famous line from her 1987 novel, Beloved, the film acts as a sort of gathering place: You can find archival footage of Morrison talking about her work or responding to critics, close friends like Davis, poet Sonia Sanchez and Oprah recounting treasured anecdotes, and critics like the New Yorker’s Hilton Als contextualizing her work. But most importantly, you can find Morrison herself, gazing directly at the camera, talking to you.

    ………………………..

    Morrison retells one such story about her grandmother, who alongside her grandfather, used to work as a sharecropper in Mobile, Ala. One day, Morrison says, her grandmother informed her husband that she and the children would be on a northbound train.

    “White boys are circling, and we have to leave,” Morrison’s grandmother told her husband through a hand-delivered note. “If you want to see us again, be on that train.”

    “The girls were growing up and white boys would come look at them from a distance, but she knew what they had in mind,” Morrison explains to the viewer. The family ended up in Lorain, where Morrison was born, and which would become the setting of her first novel, The Bluest Eye.

  19. 19
    Doug R says:

    Maybe drafting EVERYONE for a year or so like Israel or Austria. Have a Peace Corp option and/or an infrastructure rebuilding corp.
    I would happily serve my year right after Dick Cheney and Cadet Bone Spurs and the Walrus that walks like a man.

  20. 20
    Leto says:

    I’d love to hear people’s proposal for how do you get a smart, competent, motivated military force (what we currently have) via the draft. Ask anyone in the military, who’s been in longer than 5 minutes, how they feel about the draft. The answer is unanimous: they fucking hate it with the burning passion of a thousand suns. And for good reason (see first sentence). And if you think bringing back the draft will impose some type restraint on presidents/Congress sending men/women off to dumb wars, JFC I’d like to introduce you to the years 1958-1973. Or President Bonespurs. The college deferments, the Guard, or any other way to buy your kid out of it.

    The tax might be stupid but we need a way to 1) disentangle ourselves from so much shit overseas and 2) maybe share the fucking collective load wrt military service. Less than 1% of the population serve, and the majority of that from six states. Our foreign policy needs reform, as well as our military. We want the best and brightest in each, but only one of them we’re asking for the dumbest of dumb serving in it (Freedumb Caucus notwithstanding).

  21. 21
    dr. luba says:

    At this point, average would be a huge improvement.

    Still, I want a president who is smarter than me. And I’m no dummy.

  22. 22
    ranchandsyrup says:

    Mayo pete is out beto-ing beto.

  23. 23
    Martin says:

    The problem that needs to be addressed is what Ike warned us about. The feds hire defense contractors, defense contractors benefit when their product gets blown up, defense contractor lobbies and gives campaign contributions to candidates, candidates support sending more money to defense contractors. This whole process gets even simpler when Congress just nopes the fuck out of all decision making around military action.

    The friction to this cycle was the draft – everyday voters worried their 17 year high school senior would soon get drafted and killed. The professional military isn’t enough of a voting bloc, so this entire cycle goes out of mind for regular americans. The reason why taxing works is that we know that consumers approach spending differently depending on how it’s labeled. A $100 flight is cheap, but a $50 flight with a $50 charge for a bag is outrageous, that kind of thing. Saying that ‘all of this is part of income taxes’ is a license for Americans to ignore it.

    Now, I think the idea is dumb because increasing taxes on labor is dumb. Tax non-labor. Tax capital gains. Tax stock transactions. Let’s be honest here – none of this is being done to save American lives. I am not personally at risk from anything that Iran does, nor is anyone else on this site. Exxon is at risk, though. Raytheon is at risk. They should be the ones paying since it’s their businesses being protected, not our lives.

  24. 24

    @Cervantes:

    Regression to the mean is the explanation for a large part of the placebo effect.

    No, it isn’t. Regression to the mean is a result of people focusing on outliers. An example is the Sports Illustrated curse, where players who got on the cover of SI were supposed to perform worse afterward. The reason isn’t that there’s a curse, but that players are most likely to get that kind of recognition if they’ve been playing over their heads. When they go back to their normal playing level (i.e. revert to the mean) it looks as if the publicity hurt them.

    The placebo effect is a result of people believing they do better because they’re getting attention. If you give someone a headache a pill and tell them it will make their headache better, the headache will get better even if the pill is actually inert because the people believe it will. You can get something that looks like a placebo effect from reversion to the mean (people only go to the doctor when they’re really sick, so they’ll start feeling better after going to the doctor even if nothing he does helps) but the proper placebo effect is usually psychological*.

    *Not necessarily, though. Sometimes you can get a lot of benefit from non-medical intervention, and a well designed study has to include that non-medical intervention for both the drug and placebo groups. For example, it turns out to be difficult to prove the effectiveness of athlete’s foot medicines because just taking proper care of your feet will usually prevent it. Similarly, I was following an investigational vaccine against cat allergies that failed its Phase III trial because the trial included everyone using better home cleaning to reduce cat-related allergens, and the effect of that swamped the effect of the vaccine.

  25. 25
    FelonyGovt says:

    I agree this tax is a stupid idea, but @Betty Cracker: is right- he has good ideas in other areas, particularly immigration, and he is charismatic and a good politician. I don’t get the point of live-streaming his haircuts and nonsense like that, but I’m 65 years old. I’m not ready to write him off just yet.

  26. 26

    I agree with you about the policy of the taxing of non-military families but one the plus side Beto has a serious plan for immigration and he has been speaking about T’s concentration camps on the border long before they were on the MSM radar.

  27. 27
    The Moar You Know says:

    I also hear there is a Senate seat in Texas you could run for.

    There is, and he probably should, but he’s not going to beat Cornyn.

    He could probably take Cruz out in a round 2, but that’s six years off. Long time to be sitting in Congress cooling your heels.

  28. 28

    @ranchandsyrup: Who knew that all it took to impress Beltway Bois is saying Good morning in several languages.

  29. 29
    Gin & Tonic says:

    28 comments so far in this den of oldsters and nobody has mentioned G. Harold Carswell and Sen. Roman Hruska.

  30. 30
    NotMax says:

    Mind bogglingly boneheaded, not to mention discriminatory, policy.

  31. 31
    Another Scott says:

    @Martin:

    The friction to this cycle was the draft – everyday voters worried their 17 year high school senior would soon get drafted and killed.

    I don’t think this is true.

    The friction was a seemingly never-ending meat grinder that made people subject to it (not their parents) try to figure out ways out. Running to Canada, staying in college as long as possible, finding a complaint doctor, etc., etc.

    It’s (mostly) people that would be subject to a draft that would fight hardest against it. And since, IIRC, that generation is now the largest cohort in the US population, well, it seems very likely that (assuming we don’t have a worldwide existential war like WWII anytime soon) a draft is not going to happen.

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  32. 32

    @Gin & Tonic: Who? Den of oldsters? If Goku is real then everyone is an oldster.

  33. 33
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Doug R: You won’t get a skilled military force out of single year draftees.

  34. 34
    The Moar You Know says:

    Mayo pete is out beto-ing beto.

    @ranchandsyrup: Beto didn’t get his ass served to him raw by his own constituents last night. Mayo Pete (I love the new unintentional name) did. Not a good look, taking notes and mumbling while your black citizens are justifiably pissed over your handpicked police force shooting them for fun.

  35. 35
    Martin says:

    @Leto:

    I’d love to hear people’s proposal for how do you get a smart, competent, motivated military force (what we currently have) via the draft.

    You don’t. And that’s not the point. The point is who has skin in the game, and who doesn’t, and how does that affect decision making. I don’t think we should have a draft for military service, but since dollars are fungible, how about a draft for domestic tasks? We’re taking money off the table to pay for bombs, so we draft people to pave roads, provide domestic healthcare, etc. to make sure those things still get done.

    There has to be a cost to the citizenry of war. If we’re invaded, the cost is obvious. If we’re doing some global hawk shit by proxy, then the cost needs to be artificial. But there needs to be a cost.

  36. 36

    OT question: How would you celebrate the 4th with guests who are visiting from India? I am taking them to see the fireworks at night. Any suggestions of what to do during the day?

  37. 37
    jonas says:

    One minor quibble: our military is not being supported directly by our tax dollars, it’s mostly being supported by debt spending. Which, of course, our tax dollars have to pay back, but let’s be realistic. I would rather ask people to pay a supplemental tax so that people in their state can attend a decent public university (nearly) tuition-free, like they could until fairly recently.

  38. 38

    @The Moar You Know: I missed this. What happened?

  39. 39
    MomSense says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    He might not beat Corbyn but he’d force Republicans to spend some real money on that race – which gives them less to spend in more competitive races. Same would apply to Buttigieg.

  40. 40
    Mike in NC says:

    The draft should have been brought back after 9/11 since we’ve been bogged down in endless military action since then. No politician would ever support it, so instead volunteers get deployed over and over again until they’re mentally and/or physically exhausted.

  41. 41
    germy says:

    @Martin: Excellent comment.

  42. 42
    tobie says:

    The idea of the so-called “war tax” is an increase in the federal income tax, should Congress declare war. The proposal includes among other things a plan to end the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and to reverse the practice of calling foreign escapades conflicts to avoid having to go to Congress to get a declaration of war. We didn’t pay for the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. Both conflicts were/are financed by our debt, so I’m surprised at the outage that we’ve supposedly paid tons and tons of our hard-earned income in taxes on these wars, when we’ve basically put them on the nation’s credit card. Yes, a draft makes it harder to declare war but so too does a war tax.

    Finally, geez Louise, if you’re bringing up a one time skateboard in a parking lot as disqualifying. That is so, so much worse that doing nothing for 8 years to tackle racism in the South Bend police department, or pretending to pay for everything with a wealth tax when few serious economists thinks you’ll get a fraction of what you’re predicting, or calling bravely to end the importing of assault weapons when 80% of the assault weapons sold in the US are domestically produced. I could go on. The hive mind on BJ has gotten out of control.

  43. 43
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    sitting in Congress cooling your heels

    I thought being a US Representative was an actual job, with more or less a full-time schedule.

  44. 44
    Martin says:

    @Another Scott:

    I don’t think this is true.

    The friction was a seemingly never-ending meat grinder that made people subject to it (not their parents) try to figure out ways out. Running to Canada, staying in college as long as possible, finding a complaint doctor, etc., etc.

    It’s (mostly) people that would be subject to a draft that would fight hardest against it. And since, IIRC, that generation is now the largest cohort in the US population, well, it seems very likely that (assuming we don’t have a worldwide existential war like WWII anytime soon) a draft is not going to happen.

    But that’s why the draft ended. The government wanted to continue to wage war, and the citizenry said ‘nope’. In WWII the citizenry volunteered. In Vietnam the public said ‘this isn’t worth it, Vancouver sounds nice’. That compact between the voters and the government broke, and it’s only gotten worse.

    The problem to be solved isn’t how to raise the revenue to kill people – we simply won’t. The problem to be solved is how to convince politicians that there’s a price to be paid and before they start killing people, they better be sure that price is worth it. That’s why the ‘put the nuclear codes into a persons chest’ idea was a good one. Are you committed enough to this idea to directly kill a person?

    This is a process loop with no feedback. There’s no consequence to US leadership. That’s the problem.

  45. 45
    scuffletuffle says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Take them up to Skinner House and cruise around for veggie stands. Or a walk at the Mt. Tom park in Holyoke would be nice.

  46. 46
    Mohagan says:

    What a great post, JC. Thanks. I loved the way you described the wisdom you have found about living life more in the moment.

  47. 47
    takebakawashi says:

    I’ve discovered over the years that I am a very average person. What I mean by that is if a drug, or exercise regimen, or rehab plan, or basically anything works for 95/100 people if they follow it, it will work for me. I’m never one of the 5/100 who has complications.

    Due to a thing called “concentration of measure” this would make you an extremely rare sort of individual.

  48. 48
    rikyrah says:

    This is a good question to ask right now: how do four dead bodies– two babies, a toddler, one 20 year old– end up in the same place to be “found” by CBP?

    I have questions. They are not pleasant ones. https://t.co/rfsVy2jmeQ

    — Elizabeth C. McLaughlin (@ECMcLaughlin) June 24, 2019

  49. 49
    germy says:

    Looks like Mayor Pete is doing well with Black voter engagement pic.twitter.com/uw8AoOwcck— Danie Darko (@daniecal) June 22, 2019

  50. 50
    Ella in New Mexico says:

    So Beto O’Rourke, as it turns out, is very fucking average.

    I don’t disagree with 99.9% of this post but I have a different take on THIS statement.

    Beto is actually an above average and inspired young man who came THIS CLOSE to shoving Ted Cruz off a short pier and that took something very special. He has–still has, even after this detour into silliness–great potential.

    The problem is, he got way out over his skis because of all the “hoo-rah” during the Senate campaign. The damn videos, the Vanity Fair-puff pieces, the cheering crowds who, yes, want someone in leadership who believes and thinks like he does. Him thinking it was his time to run for President, before he’d done 1/10th the life homework he needs in the trenches, learn from those experiences, mature from them was both an act of courage and an act of vanity. And its the vanity that’s bringing him down.

    He needs to be humbled by this silly, silly campaign. Go take time with his community and his state and his family and his marriage, lick his wounds and GROW.

    Then come back and talk bigger things than ridiculous pandering impossibles..

  51. 51
    rikyrah says:

    Stop trying to salvage the GOP/Trump voters.

    Please. It’s beyond ridiculous at this point.

    They support the racism, the xenophobia, the deviant behavior, all of it.

    They are not just complicit.

    They approve of all of this.

    — Wakandan War Dog (@Kennymack1971) June 24, 2019

  52. 52
    waspuppet says:

    On top of our already jingoistic authoritarianism that is so prevalent (fucking every sporting event is brought to you by the military/industrial complex, military discounts, sappy commercialism, fucking spots at Lowe’s reserved for veterans, and all the other bullshit) …

    The two things I’ve long noticed during my trips to Australia are 1) there are no flags anywhere (I’ve been three times and I only sorta remember what it looks like) and 2) there are very few churches. This reminds me of a third one I just realized a couple days ago: I have never seen, in Australia, England or Italy (the three foreign countries I’ve been to since 9/11/2001), commercials enticing people to join the military. When I stop to think about it, WTF.

  53. 53
    germy says:

    Apparently Tulsi Gabbard was among the people who got vetted for a cabinet position (possibly at VA?). https://t.co/p2p3zMJZrk— emptywheel (@emptywheel) June 24, 2019

  54. 54
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Martin: I tend to think that, if we are going to have a military, we probably should try to have one that is competent.

  55. 55
    Martin says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    There is, and he probably should, but he’s not going to beat Cornyn.

    He’s going to lose to Warren by a lot more than he’d lose to Cornyn.

  56. 56
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Ella in New Mexico: I read in DougJ’s thread downstairs that MJ Hegar has decided to run against Cornyn. No excuse for Beto not to run against him as well.

  57. 57
    MomSense says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Swim in a lake? Picnic? Cookout?

  58. 58
    Baud says:

    @Martin:

    In WWII the citizenry volunteered

    There was a WWII draft.

  59. 59
    SFAW says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Go to NH, buy some (“illegal”) fireworks (ash cans, M-80s), bring them back, tell them there’s a prize — maybe call it the “Cletus Spuckler Trophy” — for whomever blows off the most digits, let the fun begin!

    If THAT is not an American tradition, then I don’t know what is.

  60. 60
    waratah says:

    I have to admit this tax surprised me unless he is wanting to draw attention to this plan.
    His plans are based on what the voters tell him and are also changed and added on when he thinks the majority want it changed.
    He is very intelligent I would say on a level with the best running right now.
    He has a reason for including this tax because he did know that it would get the attention it has. First time I have seen him front paged on Balloon Juice my favorite place.

  61. 61
    Martin says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I’m not suggesting changing that. I’m saying that there needs to be a consequence to lawmakers. There are lots of (probably bad) ways to do it:

    + Tax the citizenry enough that it hurts their chances of re-election
    + Draft the citizenry to do tasks that they are qualified for, even if that means paving roads and cleaning up parks.
    etc.

    It’s too easy to do this, especially now that Congress has abdicated all responsibility.

  62. 62
    Martin says:

    @Baud: But a lot also volunteered. My point is that the citizenry broadly supported WWII. They didn’t broadly support Vietnam. That should matter.

  63. 63
    Kent says:

    Yes, this war tax idea is sheer utter dumfuckery.

    Think about it for a moment. The only way you could actually administer such a thing would be to add a tax-deduction to the Federal Income Tax for families who have members in the Armed Forces. But seriously. Are you going to give grandma a tax deduction because she had a grandson in the service? Or are you simply only going to give a tax break to actual service members? They already get a tax break on income earned in combat zones. And honestly military pay is so low that most lower ranking service members barely owe any income tax as it is (if any).

    You could get the same exact effect by simply raising military salaries. And you’d do more good with that approach than fucking around with the tax system in ways that generally always benefit the most wealthy of the cohort you are trying to help.

  64. 64

    @schrodingers_cat:
    My family’s tradition for the 4th was to invite a bunch of friends over for a cookout, where the big event was making a big batch of home made ice cream in an old-fashioned hand cranked ice cream maker. The hand cranked ice cream maker was a lot of effort and made 5 quarts of ice cream, so it made sense to do it at a big event where there were other hands and mouths to help out.

  65. 65
    Martin says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Barbecue and day drink like the rest of us. You have a parade in your area in the morning? That’s a staple here. Good day to go to a baseball game.

  66. 66
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Martin: If he loses two senate races in a row (which he would if he ran against Cornyn), he would be done as a political candidate. Running for president raises his nation profile and could lead to a VP spot or a cabinet position. Either of which would help keep him viable as a candidate.

  67. 67

    @SFAW: I am not trying to kill them before sending them off to Boston.@MomSense: I have been thinking of a cookout but one of them is a vegetarian, so I have to get creative. I will grill some corn.

  68. 68
    Another Scott says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Plus, the military is trying desperately to minimize the number of people needed to do the jobs. Drones are just the start. People are expensive when they’re serving and when they’re in the VA. People limit capabilities of fighting machines (g-limits in fighters, packing limits in tanks, endurance, etc., etc.). Captured prisoners can make “unconditional surrender” difficult. Etc. Instead of millions of people in fighting roles in the military, there will probably come a time when that number is in the tens of thousands. How will a draft work then??

    There are lots of reasons why we probably won’t see a draft again, short a war for national survival.

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  69. 69
    tobie says:

    @Ella in New Mexico: I don’t have an Instagram, Snap Chat or Facebook account, so broadcasting anything about my personal life is foreign to me. But that’s also a generational thing. My understanding is that the O’Rourke campaign live streams just about everything in the interest of transparency, and this includes fundraisers to ensure that large donors don’t get special access or treatment.

    I didn’t watch the haircut video until it became the butt of so many jokes and the first thing I realized when I did watch it was that the point of the video was to highlight the barber as one of countless immigrants who came to the US and started his own small business.

    Beto’s proposals tend to be very long and in my opinion thorough. Pace John Cole, these are not random ideas thrown on paper. Beto served for 6 years on the House Veteran’s Affairs committee and has followed the cost of war. What seems to have gotten lost in the brouhaha over the war tax is the plan to bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

  70. 70
    Baud says:

    @Martin:

    But a lot of the things we call wars now aren’t like WWII or Vietnam or even Iraq. They are things like drone bombings and air strikes and whatever “assistance” we’re providing in Afghanistan and and Chad. They’re the modern equivalent of the Indian wars that the U.S. engaged in as part of manifest destiny. Those things were always done at less than national attention.

  71. 71
    Raven says:

    @Leto: 8 guard units were sent to Vietnam, I spent half my tour in one of them.

  72. 72
    waratah says:

    @Gin & Tonic: he has answered this he thinks he can do more as president. He says she will make a very good senator and will win.
    The Republicans started out the call for him to run for Senator, lately he has been trolled heavy. I do not have any facts but some on his Twitter said that Biden had a pack thing pushing this.
    I want to know why the same amount of pressure was not put on the Castros?

  73. 73
    Hoodie says:

    Have to disagree to some extent. Beto is an above average guy, he’s just not ready for prime time. Watching some of his campaign appearances, he’s got a lot of raw talent, but he’s like a top minor league prospect that hasn’t seen a lot of cagey major league pitching and, therefore, can look pretty awkward in his first at bats in the bigs. He knows he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance of winning the nomination or even lasting past the first few primaries. With the big field, he can hang around for a while and build his skill set, maybe establish an outside chance of a VP nom, and keep his name out there when another Texas seat he can win (he can’t beat Cornyn) comes up.

  74. 74

    @Martin: Will check for parades. Baseball will be boring because they won’t know the rules.

  75. 75
    chopper says:

    @ranchandsyrup:

    Mayo Pete

    perfect.

  76. 76
    Martin says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Vegetarian is easier and easier to do. Impossible burgers, mushrooms/veggies. We make pizza on the grill. Explore a bit – it’s not too difficult.

  77. 77
    rikyrah says:

    Evangelicals go all in for Trump reelection
    BY JONATHAN EASLEY – 06/21/19 06:00 AM EDT

    Faith leaders and anti-abortion groups are ramping up their efforts to reelect President Trump, rewarding a president who has become an unlikely hero of the Christian right because of his commitment to socially conservative causes.

    The Faith and Freedom Coalition will spend tens of millions of dollars on a voter mobilization effort that aims to register 1 million Christians in key battleground states and reach 30 million people nationwide.

    The group, which is led by conservative activist Ralph Reed, will pump literature into more than 100,000 churches across 18 states, primarily focusing on the presidential battlegrounds but also with an eye on contested House and Senate races.

  78. 78
    raven says:

    @waspuppet: I like my Lowe’s parking space!

  79. 79

    @schrodingers_cat:
    I think at least half of the reason for vegetarian burger and hotdog replacements is so that vegetarians don’t miss out at cookouts.

  80. 80
    Martin says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Half the people there don’t know the rules. It’s an experience. Baseball is chill. You eat a hot dog, drink a beer, sit in the sun and some stuff happens on the field. People occasionally cheer. A t-shirt launcher comes out. My grandpa took me to games all the time, and half the time he took a nap in the middle of the game.

  81. 81

    @Roger Moore: Sounds like a lot of fun. Can I come? I luvs me some hand cranked ice-cream.
    BTW guys did I tell you, that I made mango kulfi and it was pretty good.

  82. 82
    trollhattan says:

    @ranchandsyrup:
    Hey stranger, how goes it?

  83. 83
    raven says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Are they big into cricket? There’s enough similarity that it might be interesting.

    All the Similarities and Differences Between Baseball and Cricket

  84. 84
    rikyrah says:

    Ari Berman (@AriBerman) Tweeted:
    Two big pieces of census news:

    -federal court suggests citizenship question added by Trump to discriminate against Latinos based on new smoking gun evidence

    -Census Bureau’s research says q could undercount 9 MILLION people, larger than population of NJ

    https://t.co/5Z2ok2WEJE https://twitter.com/AriBerman/status/1143184184929849344?s=17

  85. 85
    trollhattan says:

    @rikyrah:
    Boners for Jeebuz.

  86. 86
    Kent says:

    @Martin: Exactly. The only somewhat difficult part of following a vegan or vegetarian diet is dining out in less than urban areas where it can be hard to find appetizing meat-free dishes on the menus that aren’t salads or sides.

  87. 87
    trollhattan says:

    @raven:
    “Where’s the wicket?”
    “Under the catcher’s cup.”

    ETA we took the German exchange students to a baseball game but it was too much of a stretch. Our girl was particularly disappointed there were no cheerleaders and after thinking about it for awhile I agreed.

  88. 88
    Chetan Murthy says:

    John,

    I tried to send mail to badads and sitefixer yesterday (from my gmail acct), as well as use the “contact a frontpager” link: they all failed (first two bounced, last one didn’t give me a form to fill out — just the right-hand-side boilerplate and a blank page on the left.

    I was trying to send in a report of a JS fetch during page view, that took 15sec. I verified this in both logged-in and incognito mode. Here’s the link:

    https://b2a3m9g8.stackpathcdn.com/wp-includes/js/mediaelement/mediaelement-migrate.min.js?ver=4.9.8

    Don’t really know another way to report, since all the email addresses didn’t work.

    I wondered if this was worth reporting, since IIRC you’re close to switching to the new site, but hey, I figured you would make the call on whether to file-13 this.

  89. 89

    @raven: I would guess so. Its my husband’s cousin and his wife. The World Cup for cricket is going on right now and July4th has a match between Afghanistan and West Indies.

    ETA: I love cricket, I find baseball interminably boring, but less boring than football. I guess its what one grows up with.

  90. 90
    smintheus says:

    An ad hoc tax to pay for a specific war may be a good way to pressure politicians to bring that war to a conclusion. A permanent tax is not ad hoc and brings with it no particular pressure upon anyone. If anything, its existence could shield politicians from pressure to make tough cost/benefit analyses.

  91. 91

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Sounds like a lot of fun. Can I come?

    As soon as you can travel back to the 1980s.

  92. 92
    rikyrah says:

    The cruelty is the point.

    The words of Christine Minton, the Florida corrections officer from SW SW Florida, still lurk in the back of my head:

    “He’s not hurting the people who need to be hurt.”

    They *want* these brown babies to die, as a deterrent against brown immigration.

    — Arya’s Needle (@Needle_of_Arya) June 24, 2019

  93. 93

    @raven:
    My impression is that baseball and cricket are in that weird range of similarity where knowing a lot about one will actually make you more confused when watching the other.

  94. 94
    trollhattan says:

    Canada playing well but each team has only one shot in the first 30.

  95. 95

    @Roger Moore: I thought your folks still did it. Sounds like a great idea for a Balloon Juice party under JGC’s newly built pergola.

  96. 96
    raven says:

    @trollhattan: I’ve taken an Aussie and a Brit to baseball and they both enjoyed it. What was striking for them was listening to the post-game on the ride home. It’s such a specific language and if you don’t know it it’s baffling!

  97. 97
    tobie says:

    @Hoodie: Beto recently hired four new communications directors and one new policy advisor (all Obama alums), so I don’t think he’s wrapping up shop. Maybe you should listen to the new Pod Save America conversation with him to get a better sense of his candidacy.

  98. 98
    raven says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Yea, if you are somewhere where there is Triple A ball where it won’t cost too much if might be fun just to go for a while.

  99. 99
    SFAW says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    I am not trying to kill them before sending them off to Boston.

    Oh, sure, NOW you bring in all sorts of prerequisites and conditions.

  100. 100
    tarragon says:

    @Martin:
    Agreed on the mushrooms. One of our go to vegetarian grill items is:
    Grill Portabella Caps marinated in balsamic and olive oil and some quartered red peppers. As the portabella are finishing up turn them upside down and put some (not to heavy) crumbled feta in the cap.
    Serve on a soft roll, one cap with feta and a couple pieces of the red pepper.

  101. 101
  102. 102

    @rikyrah: Another story that has not made headlines is the force feeding of Sikh immigrant detainees, who were on a hunger strike. Its heart-rending.

  103. 103
    Scott says:

    This particular “war tax” may be an undercooked idea; however, since we’ve been financing wars on borrowed money for decades now, I support an automatic income tax increase (or surcharge) on all wars or military actions. Actually making the American people hurt financially may make everyone think twice about making war.

  104. 104

    @raven: Thanks, I will check.

  105. 105
    Hungry Joe says:

    @waspuppet: We were in Iceland for a week in ’17 and we saw no military at all. No police, either, though we passed a couple of small-town police stations with a marked car or two sitting out front. The only Icelandic flags were at the port of entry, on a boat that took us to Heimaey island, and on mugs in a touristy gift shop.

  106. 106
    Kent says:

    @rikyrah:

    Ari Berman (@AriBerman) Tweeted:
    Two big pieces of census news:

    -federal court suggests citizenship question added by Trump to discriminate against Latinos based on new smoking gun evidence

    -Census Bureau’s research says q could undercount 9 MILLION people, larger than population of NJ

    https://t.co/5Z2ok2WEJE https://twitter.com/AriBerman/status/1143184184929849344?s=17

    So what would happen if in 2021 a Dem president simply announced that the 2020 census was irrepairably flawed due to deliberate sabotage by the Trump Administration and that they were taking the following steps:

    1. Adjusting all census data using statistical methods to add back in the numbers in places that were undercounted. If statistical tools tell us that we missed 500,000 Hispanics in Texas then we add them back in.

    2. Deleting from Federal agencies all the flawed data so that it cannot be used. And ESPECIALLY deleting all the citizenship data as fruit of a poisoned tree. So that GOP state agencies can’t use it for nefarious purposes. Announce that it is too flawed to be usable so that any GOP state governments that might retrieve copies would have to defend their use in court against a determination by the Federal government that the data was too flawed to be usable.

    3. Calling for a new Census in 2021 to replace the flawed data collected in 2020.

    The GOP and SCOTUS might scream like stuck pigs but the answer would simply be that “you created this mess and we are simply trying to fix it. If you don’t like statistical-based census data then simply join us in authorizing a 2021 or 2022 census done properly.

    In any event, as someone who has worked in government for decades I have to suspect that this whole citizenship question might be something of a deliberate distraction to focus attention away from the dozens or hundreds of other ways that the Trump Administration can fuck with the census through budgets, staffing, foot dragging, running out the clock, and other bureaucratic games. They can simply underfund and understaff census efforts in the areas they want to undercount and overstaff and overfund efforts in the areas that they want to overcount. Just like they do with voting precincts in poor black and rich white neighborhoods. There are literally endless ways that bad actors operating in bad faith can fuck with the census. The citizenship question is just one of many.

  107. 107
    Betty Cracker says:

    @tobie: You are right about the Instagramming, etc., being a generational thing. AOC gets slammed for that too, but being savvy on social media is one reason I can refer to her by her monogram and everyone knows who I’m talking about. I personally found Beto’s skateboarding video charming as hell. I like Beto and am sure his heart is in the right place on this war tax proposal, even though I disagree with it as proposed for reasons outlined above.

  108. 108
    Ryan says:

    Average is good. Regression to the mean implies the Trump children should be a bit brighter than the father, no?

  109. 109
    Kent says:

    @Scott:

    This particular “war tax” may be an undercooked idea; however, since we’ve been financing wars on borrowed money for decades now, I support an automatic income tax increase (or surcharge) on all wars or military actions. Actually making the American people hurt financially may make everyone think twice about making war.

    Yes, PAYGO for military actions. Very simple.

    Of course not so simple in practice as they would just play appropriations games and fold the costs of military actions into the existing budgets.

  110. 110
    Hungry Joe says:

    @raven: Every now and then I read a story about cricket in the Guardian simply to experience what it’s like to read perfectly good English sentences, aimed at a general audience, without understanding anything at all. It falls somewhere between academic writing and gibberish, and if you’re in the right mood it’s funny as hell.

  111. 111
    raven says:

    @Betty Cracker: Mine is cool!

  112. 112
    Kent says:

    @trollhattan:

    ETA we took the German exchange students to a baseball game but it was too much of a stretch. Our girl was particularly disappointed there were no cheerleaders and after thinking about it for awhile I agreed.

    We had a German exchange student when we lived in Texas. The three biggest eye-openers were (1) the utter pagentry that is Texas HS football in all its glory with the cheerleaders, marching bands, dancing girls, smoke and fireworks, etc., (2) Homecoming Mums (it’s a bizarre Texas thing), and (3) Rodeo. We took her to a big time rural rodeo in Vernon TX. The combination of right-wing evangelical culture and testosterone-fueled macho cowboy posing in small-town Texas was eye-opening and a little frightening.

  113. 113
    raven says:

    @Hungry Joe: Trys, tests and fixtures. . . you’re killin me over here!

  114. 114
    raven says:

    @Kent: My idiot half-brother was team trainer for the Mesa College (AZ) rodeo team and he said those dude were really nuts.

  115. 115
    NotMax says:

    @schrodingers_cat

    Veggie kabobs. Grilled asparagus (can do essentially the same thing with green beans). Naan grilled cheese.

  116. 116
    gvg says:

    This is not all that stupid. I think you are over reacting this time. We do need to make the public more against all these wars and then they can make the politicians more against them. It’s hard to do. We don’t need the kind of military that has lots of bodies anymore. We mostly live too far away to actually see the real costs to our own wallets via the economy and too our countries real power due to losing influence.
    Since Vietnam we haven’t actually declared wars, so I suspect this idea isn’t quite enforceable, but we should actually be increasing taxes.
    I do think the veteran’s discounts and special parking is out of hand, but in a lot of ways it’s just a variation on coupons that retailers find work sometimes.

  117. 117
    raven says:

    @gvg: Since WW2 we haven’t declared wars.

  118. 118

    @Hungry Joe: My feelings exactly when I read about football.
    @raven:

    Trys and fixtures

    Those are not cricketing terms. Test matches are the 5 day tournaments.

  119. 119
    Ocotillo says:

    I just stumbled across this and it already has over 100 comments and I did not take the time to read them but I get the gist of it is not a good idea to have a separate tax for non-military folks. You also say the only way to stop all the military mis-adventures is to bring back the draft. I don’t see that happening.

    I would say Beto is on to something but it needs a tweak. Anytime, we are going to use the military in foreign adventures, taxes go up, period, full stop. If we are going to fight for something, everyone has to pitch in in some way. You start making these corporations and right wingers have to pay for all of these off budget adventures and that will have a slowing effect as well.

    During WWII, the last declared war, everyone had to pitch in in some way. The modern version of that is the yellow ribbon magnet and “thanks for your service” crowd needs to be compelled to put their money where their mouth is.

  120. 120
    raven says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Well there ya go!

  121. 121
    EthylEster says:

    @gvg wrote:

    We do need to make the public more against all these wars

    A draft will do that nicely.
    Or maybe not so nicely.

  122. 122
    Sab says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Baseball lately IS boring. They have done weird things to it with the stats they focus on. So it’s all strikeouts, walks and homeruns. Hardly any base-stealing. The exciting single, double and triple plays of my youth are gone. Now it’s just sitting around in the hot sun watching guys swing at balls.

  123. 123
    tobie says:

    @Betty Cracker: Thanks for allowing that you can have differences of opinion with a candidate without mocking them. This post, IMO, is in poor form. I’ve seen several candidates this cycle mess up on policy questions but no front pager has gone out of their way to deride them.

    @smintheus: The proposal is not for a permanent tax. It’s a tax that would be levied if the US declared war. FWIW it’s meant to serve as a disincentive for war.

  124. 124
    johnnybuck says:

    I’m with Betty on this, it’s kind of a wacky idea, but the guy has been really good on some other things. I think he’s more above average than not, and he really is good at retail politics. I too wonder why everybody expects him to run against Cornyn, yet that’s never a critique against Castro. Doesn’t really matter to me, I’m a Harris man myself, but I could see Beto as a quality VP candidate. Truth is, we got at least 8 quality candidates running and he’s one of them. I enjoy hearing about and perusing their plans, the kind of thing no republican does ever.

  125. 125
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Another general note: I would hazard a guess that the majority of people at this blog have been insulated from average people for most of their lives.

  126. 126
    trollhattan says:

    @raven: @Hungry Joe:
    Back when shortwave was a thing I occasionally listened to cricket on BBC and radios Australia and New Zealand. It amused the hell out of me for the sheer inexplicability.

  127. 127
    Sean says:

    @waspuppet: I see ads here in Germany (more print though) but the German Army is undersubscribed at the moment so that’s probably what’s driving the advertising.

  128. 128
    Sab says:

    @Kent: Thanks for your Census comment. I hope we can move forward in that way.

  129. 129
    raven says:

    The Yanks and Boston from London Saturday!

  130. 130
    trollhattan says:

    @Kent:
    Sounds like a ball, in all. HS football is big here, but not Texas big if you get my drift. But since German schools do not have sports the idea of fullblown campus stadiums is something they have a hard time grasping.

    I also unsuccessfully tried explaining a backyard gas firepit to one of the German adults. “So, it’s a fire you look at?”

  131. 131
    Aleta says:

    Uninformed raw thoughts about the idea. (Not about Beto’s plan, which I haven’t read.) Gut-wise, “Non-military households would pay a war tax” seems like a duality that carries all that history of who served, who didn’t. Which simplistically sounds like a choice — military service or your family pays a tax. A reward for service families, a punishment for non-military families. If the household = the parents: Give up an offspring to a war or you must pay a tax. If you have no offspring, or your child isn’t ‘fit to serve,’ you must pay a tax.

    If the unmarried serviceperson has parents in two separate households, are both households exempt? Would the parents’ exemption end when the kid gets married? If the serviceperson divorces and remarries but continues to support the first family, both families would have to be exempt. B/c otherwise the serviceperson pays the tax for one household. Would every household in which a service person had a dependent be exempt?

    Would the tax be so high that it could become another pressure on a young person to enlist or to reup, just because they aren’t wealthy? Would the tax keep rising in proportion to the number of troops committed somewhere, or to rising medical costs or to a high number of injuries? Would it go down if the US withdraws from overseas? If the War Powers Resolution was violated (messy, I know) would that be taxation without representation?

    In that way it comes off like a Republican plan to charge people for wars they didn’t want and pressure poorer households to give up their children. Or to reenlist spouses/parents of young children, because the war machine needs cannon fodder.

    When will someone propose that public school teachers be covered by the insurance plans Congress and the Pres/VP get, with 100% coverage for school children and employees injured in school-related violence? Makers of military-style weapons could pay out of their profits, or pay a % of their lobbying expenditures.

  132. 132
    EmbraceYourInnerCrone says:

    @schrodingers_cat – Old Sturbridge village? On July 4th they are having the citizen naturalization ceremony on the Village Common. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will present candidates to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, and they will pledge their Oath of Allegiance to the United States for the very first time. The Old Sturbridge Village Singers will perform patriotic songs during the ceremony. Could be interesting/fun.

  133. 133
    NotMax says:

    @NotMax

    While on the subject of outdoor grilling, this chicken looks decadently delish.

  134. 134
    Michael Allen says:

    @Martin: Again, it is frustrating that this comment system doesn’t have a thumbs up sort of function. Excellent comment.

  135. 135
    trollhattan says:

    Brilliant ball from Sinc that bent around the wall and nearly went in. Still goose-eggs.

    And Sweden nets one. Could be the game-winner.

  136. 136
    The Moar You Know says:

    Another general note: I would hazard a guess that the majority of people at this blog have been insulated from average people for most of their lives.

    @Omnes Omnibus: My family was all from the Deep South and by the time I was six years old I knew I wanted nothing to do with those “average people”.

    Still don’t, TBH.

  137. 137
    Kent says:

    @raven:

    @Kent: My idiot half-brother was team trainer for the Mesa College (AZ) rodeo team and he said those dude were really nuts.

    And they are all poor as hell and usually broke because aside from a few superstars, there’s barely any money in rodeo to get you above poverty level. Pawn shops in TX are full of saddles and gear from rodeo guys who had to pawn their stuff to get by.

  138. 138
  139. 139
    Just One More Canuck says:

    @Martin: @schrodingers_cat: if there’s a minor league team anywhere near you (you’re in Massachusetts?), that’s a far better experience than most major league ballparks. Like Martin says, the game is almost secondary

  140. 140

    @EmbraceYourInnerCrone: I became a citizen two years ago at the Old Sturbridge Village. It was a wonderful experience.

  141. 141
    Kent says:

    @NotMax: If you want to do roast chicken, try SAmin Nosrat’s buttermilk chicken recipe from her Salt Fat Acid Heat cookbook and Netflix series. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-pq7MA2ko4 and you can google up the written recipe and find lots of other people who have made videos about making it.

  142. 142

    @Just One More Canuck: I have watched a couple MLB matches in DC with EthnicSlur Team and the visiting team at the RFK stadium. Was fun, but not as fun as test cricket.

  143. 143
    EthylEster says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    He’s also charismatic

    You’ve said something like this before.
    But IIRC in less ambiguous terms, i.e, that he is physically attractive.

    I do not find him charismatic.
    I do not find him attractive.
    I do not find his “ideas” attractive.
    I’ll be glad when he drops out of the primary race.

  144. 144

    @Omnes Omnibus: What do you mean? We are above average or below?

  145. 145
    tobie says:

    @Aleta: The idea that people would sell their children into war to avoid paying the so-called war tax strikes me as a bit far fetched. But I do think that a nation that had to pay for the wars it wages would think twice before engaging in endless military adventurism.

    When will someone propose that public school teachers be covered by the insurance plans Congress and the Pres/VP get?

    This is a nice idea but will only happen if/when teachers become federal employees. I hate that public schools are funded locally through property taxes. It allows for gross inequities.

  146. 146
    Another Scott says:

    Non-military households would pay a “war tax” to help cover the health care of veterans of newly-authorized wars under a plan Beto O’Rourke’s campaign unveiled Monday.

    Why just for health care??

    He probably explains this, but the soundbite raises all sorts of questions.

    Ultimately, what’s going to save us isn’t a tax that people will object to paying, or a draft that they don’t want to serve in, or some other policy prescription. No, what’s going to save us is electing sensible people to represent us. If we don’t have that, no norms or laws or regulations will save us.

    As we’re finding out every day with Donnie and his minions.

    What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

    What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income — to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

    Still applies.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  147. 147

    @EthylEster: Who is your candidate of choice?

  148. 148
    divF says:

    @schrodingers_cat: You might see if there are any old-fashioned July 4th events in your area. Examples of what I mean that take place where I live are a couple of small-town parades, and a band concert at the Oakland Lakeshore gazebo.

  149. 149
    Kent says:

    @Sab: It would take Dems with actual cojones to stare down the GOP and SCOTUS and say: “This is what we are going to do, what are you fucking going to do about it” in a very Trump-like way that they aren’t used to doing. I think candidates like Warren and Harris have those kind of cojones. I doubt get-along, go-along workship the old days of TipandRonnie Joe Biden would have the inclination to take that kind of hard-ass raw power approach to governance.

  150. 150
  151. 151
    NotMax says:

    @schrodingers_cat

    ¿Por qué no los dos?

    :)

  152. 152
    trollhattan says:

    Interesting Canada substitution, Leon for Prince, who had been playing well. Leon is a load in every sense. Swear she could start at linebacker. Score now or go home.

  153. 153
    raven says:

    Best Fourth of July Celebrations in New England
    Looking for a new spot to celebrate Independence Day this year? Here are some of our picks for the Best Fourth of July celebrations in New England.

  154. 154
    trollhattan says:

    @trollhattan:
    Ooh, Sweden handball in the box. Aaaand, great save by the keeper for 1-0

  155. 155
    Kent says:

    @trollhattan:

    @Kent:
    Sounds like a ball, in all. HS football is big here, but not Texas big if you get my drift. But since German schools do not have sports the idea of fullblown campus stadiums is something they have a hard time grasping.

    I also unsuccessfully tried explaining a backyard gas firepit to one of the German adults. “So, it’s a fire you look at?”

    Yep, we had football games against major crosstown rivals that were too big and important to fit into the local 10,000 seat HS football palace so they would rent Baylor’s stadium to hold the crowd. This is for regular season rivalry games, not playoffs. Here in the Pacific Northwest you are often lucky to get more than a few hundred parents to show up for games, especially road games.

    I think weather is a part of it. Nothing more glorious than mid-October evening games in Texas watching the sun set with the temps in the 70s or low 80s. Not so much the same in the rainy Pacific Northwest.

  156. 156
    dr. luba says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: How would you define “average people”? My neighbors are retired factory workers and school teachers. Does that count?

  157. 157
    EthylEster says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    your candidate of choice?

    Warren, right now.
    But it’s a long time until the dem convention.

  158. 158
    ranchandsyrup says:

    @trollhattan: hey there trolly! doin p. good. how about you? staying out of trouble?

  159. 159
    BC in Illinois says:

    @rikyrah:

    The Faith and Freedom Coalition . . . which is led by conservative activist Ralph Reed . . .

    Ralph Reed? Still around? The churchly wing of the Jack Abramoff Scandal?
    THAT Ralph Reed?

    With Reed and the Falwells around, there’s no way of blaming Trump for bringing out the utter money-grubbing spinelessness of American “evangelical” church leadership. Trump simply exposed — and profits from — the corruption that was already there.

  160. 160
    Baud says:

    Most Democrats know that the process has only just begun and are willing to consider any number of these candidates as they learn more about them.

  161. 161
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @dr. luba:
    My family and their friends are average Nazis and Good Germans. Does that count?

  162. 162
    Betty Cracker says:

    @EthylEster: Some people find Benedryl Pumpkinpatch physically attractive, while others believe he looks like a creature raised on sour milk and snails in a land of eternal darkness. Shruggies!

  163. 163
    trollhattan says:

    @ranchandsyrup:
    Mostly trouble-free and with a teen at home there’s no need for me to add to the total. The water thing seems good this year, too (for once).

    How’s your little one?

  164. 164
    J R in WV says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    OT question: How would you celebrate the 4th with guests who are visiting from India? I am taking them to see the fireworks at night. Any suggestions of what to do during the day?

    BBQ picnic, potato salad, cole slaw, deviled eggs, grilled chicken or vegetables for vegans. Play the blues, also. Or bluegrass, which is nearly as twangy and complex as Indian music.

    Neighbor won his second Blue Ribbon for best banjo player last weekend at a festival upstate. He’s pretty high on a second one already and summer just started!

  165. 165
    raven says:

    @J R in WV: Ever been to the Augusta Heritage Center at Elkins?

  166. 166
    Steeplejack says:

    @tobie:

    The proposal is not for a permanent tax. It’s a tax that would be levied if the US declared war. FWIW it’s meant to serve as a disincentive for war.

    We don’t declare war now, so when would this be triggered? We just launch seemingly ill-considered neo-imperial adventures. It would merely be a disincentive to declare war. The current system is working fine for that.

  167. 167
    germy says:

    For the “Stopped Clock” file:

    Slavery reparations is a far-left favorite because it does a number of things.
    It reinforces the radical belief that the United States was founded by racist white men who installed a system whereby white guys would run everything and blacks, women and others would be exploited.— Bill O'Reilly (@BillOReilly) June 24, 2019

    It also suggests that personal responsibility does not count when the legacy of slavery dropped a curtain of oppression on the black race and there is no recovering from that. The radical left says our society remains unjust to this day, forget personal responsibility.— Bill O'Reilly (@BillOReilly) June 24, 2019

  168. 168
    ranchandsyrup says:

    @trollhattan: i have two of ’em and they’re 8 and 5 now. time flies!

    i keep hearing that the feds are gonna make an announcement here soon wrt salmon and habitat that will keep us all busy.

  169. 169
    Yutsano says:

    @rikyrah: TAX THEIR ASSES!!! If the churches want to stick their toes into politics, they can get knocked off their tax free perches. I’m sick of this shit.

  170. 170
    stinger says:

    This is a really great post, John Cole. I’m so happy for you that you are good with where you are in life. I’m sort of getting there myself — had expectations for myself that I’m starting to let go, and am happy with my house and rural property, gardening (summer), reading (winter), 3 dogs and a cat, etc.

    And yes, hate the notion of a “war tax” for all the reasons you give. I attended a Mother’s Day barbershop concert, and who was asked to stand for a round of applause — mothers? No, veterans. I attended a high school graduation ceremony, and who was asked to stand for a round of applause — teachers? Parents? No, veterans. I’M A VETERAN, and I say it’s overkill. I hate this warrior worship.

  171. 171
    Sister Machine Gun of Quiet Harmony says:

    My condolences to Canadian soccer fans.

  172. 172
    Betty Cracker says:

    @germy: Maybe if someone explained it to him using an analogy about a corporation paying off people oppressed by a sexual harasser boss… 🤔

  173. 173
    tobie says:

    @Steeplejack: If you would take the time to read the proposal, you would learn that it says at the very top that the deployment of troops should not occur without express authorization of Congress:

    Eighteen years into the war in Afghanistan, and nearly three decades after our first engagement in Iraq, the time has come to cancel the blank check for endless war and to ensure that any future engagements are the result of a national conversation about our security interests and duly authorized by Congress.

    Has anyone on this site even read the proposal? Cole clearly has not. Again, it’s long, it’s detailed, it’s thorough, it’s based on Beto’s 6 years of experience on the Veteran Affairs committee and countless conversations with veterans groups. I wish every candidate would issue such granular proposals.

  174. 174
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Martin:

    Given the disconnect between Congress and the rest of the country right now, it might make more sense to say that a representative or senator needs to have a family member in active service before they can vote on any use of force. Not past service, but currently active.

  175. 175
    Zinsky says:

    Totally disagree with Cole. A war tax and re-instating the draft are the best way to slam the brakes on the runaway military machine that is bankrupting this country. I’m sick to death of people ignoring where the vast majority of their tax dollars are being squandered and getting all misty and reverential about an organization that can’t even pass a freaking financial audit! And this notion that every veteran is a “warrior” who we should get down and revere and lick their boots, makes me want to vomit. Most of the veterans I know are lazier than the average citizen and spent their time stateside getting drunk and/or high and screwing highly questionable women. Those that did go overseas and did get wounded, well, if you are a mercenary, you should have known the risk when you signed on the dotted line. Tough luck, Chuck. I’ll add one more recommendation that will piss off Cole – rename the Department of Defense to be called the Department of Human Slaughter, because that it’s primary mission. Hell, we couldn’t scramble one fighter jet in time to down the hijacked airliners on September 11th, 2001. Defense, my ass!

  176. 176
    trollhattan says:

    @ranchandsyrup:
    Two. Maybe I knew that but congrats regardless!

    Those salmon are known bastards so anything the feds can do to protect us from them…. A friend at Reclamation was put on the Shasta Dam raise fast-track team. Funny how there’s unlimited money when they REALLY want something. It would seem there’s a common thread here, somewhere.

  177. 177
    Sab says:

    @Yutsano: YES! African American churches are very skittish about crossing the IRS re politics. Those are supposed to be the rules.

    Falwells ilk haven’t had rules for at least a generation.

    Lois Lerner tried timidly, and was handed her head (early forced retirement.)

    If we don’t enforce rules and laws then there are no rules and laws.

  178. 178
    ranchandsyrup says:

    @trollhattan: yeah it’s real weird like that.
    how is it having the teen at home?

  179. 179
    Ocotillo says:

    Nevermind socialism, the GOP is using reparations as the next base motivational tool. I think they are keeping their powder dry until a clear nominee is determined and then Fox is going full time reparations.

    It’s an issue that requires tremendous explanation and if you’re explaining, you’re losing.

  180. 180
    trollhattan says:

    @ranchandsyrup:
    Life with a teen is a little like having an annual performance review, daily.

    She’s great, even if the moods seem to be binary rather than a sliding scale. Killing the schoolwork and college shopping. And soccer. So very much soccer. She’d be training right now if she weren’t off in Germany with her exchange family.

  181. 181
    Steeplejack says:

    @tobie:

    I have not read the proposal. I was responding to your apparently inaccurate, or incomplete, representation of it.

  182. 182
    ranchandsyrup says:

    @trollhattan: lol i’m taking notes for when my girls become teens.

  183. 183
    Steeplejack says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    You’re conflating football and baseball. The Nationals play baseball at Nationals Park.

  184. 184
    evodevo says:

    @Fair Economist: Yes. We had a 6% income tax surcharge to pay for Veetnam – I remember THAT very clearly – didn’t stop the war, but we didn’t go broke over it. W, on the other hand, GOPer that he was, kept the wars off the books so the deficit didn’t look so bad, and here we are….

  185. 185
    J R in WV says:

    @Martin:

    In WWII the citizenry volunteered.

    Some did, but there was a very real very harsh draft from the beginning of the war. My grandfather’s business was really hobbled by lack of manpower, to the point that after my dad was 4-F medically disqualified, instead of returning to the U to finish his degree, he stayed home to work in the business. All the employees were away in the war!

    ETA: Actually, my Dad and both of his brothers volunteered, and my Mom’s older brother as well. Only my Dad remained home after failing his induction physical. One uncle drove ambulances with the Free French, one was a Chief on a heavy cruiser in the So Pacific, and Mom’s brother was a turret gunner on a heavy bomber over the South Pacific – he may have seen the worst combat of all three. He was certainly the one with PTSD nightmares the rest of his life.

  186. 186
    TenguPhule says:

    @Sab:

    If we don’t enforce rules and laws then there are no rules and laws.

    We are already there.

  187. 187
    Aleta says:

    @tobie: idea that people would sell their children into war to avoid paying the so-called war tax

    Wasn’t thinking that parents would sell them off; rather about the pressures to serve (from family or from lack of $) that too many kids experienced during Vietnam, during Bush/Cheney and since then. The pressure on some was extreme, especially during Vietnam, from fathers who’d been in the military and believed that not serving is unpatriotic. Before and after 2001, I knew a number of local kids in their early 20s who enlisted because they had no other way to go to college or to get more than minimum wage. Some of their new wages went straight to help out their origin families. Then, when the big enlistment bonuses started, some kids enlisted for that money.

    I know that’s not the same as the ‘didn’t serve’ tax, but financial pressure and parental pressure isn’t the same as free will either. The tax, as a distinction between ‘you served’ vs ‘you didn’t’ makes me wonder if it could become an internal pressure in some families. The influence of money on one’s thinking varies by individual and if your family is in need, you may feel responsible to help out however you can. (I used to send my college scholarship to my mother each semester, instead working 3 jobs and doing w/o books and cafeteria, because they needed it. I didn’t think they were ‘selling’/using me — it just seemed like the right thing to do after they had hospitalizations, a layoff, etc.)

  188. 188
    trollhattan says:

    @ranchandsyrup:
    Good idea. Do your homework!

    Am sure you’ve been told having two is “easier” like getting a second dog to entertain the first is always a great idea. I have observed sisters who get along, so it’s at least possible. Fingers crossed for ya!

  189. 189
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @EthylEster: Other people’s opinions clearly differ.

    @schrodingers_cat: I would guess that a lot of people here got tracked into the college prep courses at their schools and the process started there. Others who weren’t on the academic track found themselves learning skilled trades which requires similar mental horsepower. Others have talked about being skilled athletes – for example, Ruckus, IIRC, raced motorcycles. That requires abilities well above the average. A lot of these people will, as Cole did, see themselves as average but they are often noticing that are in the middle of the pack in a group that is above average.

  190. 190
    NotMax says:

    @Aleta

    it’s also adding a new tax levied on those who cannot have children and those who are conscientious objectors.

  191. 191
    J R in WV says:

    @waratah:

    he has answered this he thinks he can do more as president. He says she [M J Hagar, wounded former rescue helicopter pilot] will make a very good senator and will win.

    I think so too, and made my second donation of this election cycle to M J, after one to Senator Harris last month or so. She has a great tattoo over her scars from being shot down.

  192. 192
    ranchandsyrup says:

    @trollhattan: it is NOT easier. they’ve got me on the run already.

  193. 193
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Zinsky: If it makes you feel any better, a lot of us spent our time overseas getting drunk and trying to screw questionable women.

  194. 194
    tobie says:

    @Steeplejack: You mean like when I wrote this?
    “The proposal includes among other things a plan to end the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and to reverse the practice of calling foreign escapades conflicts to avoid having to go to Congress” to get authorization.
    Thanks, though, for being honest that you haven’t read the proposal.

  195. 195
    Raven says:

    @Zinsky: That’s some stupid shit right there.

  196. 196
    tobie says:

    @Aleta: I know quite a number of people who went to the military because of what they perceived as the financial perks. And it’s certainly possible that a non-permanent war tax, levied when the US wages war, would be enough of an incentive for some families living on the edge to encourage their children to enlist. My sense is that the main effect of a war tax would be different. Public support for military action would drop if the public actually had to pay for it.

    I for one would be happy if the revenue collected from a war tax were also shared with public schools. Kurt Eichenwald has an epic tweet thread on this theme tonight:

    Kurt Eichenwald
    ‏39m39 minutes ago
    More
    3…to the well off. Sure, having student debt is difficult. You know what is more difficult? Going to a high school that has no books. Going to an elementary school that has no pencils. Teachers struggling, taking two jobs. THEY are the first concern, not upper-middle-class…

  197. 197
    J R in WV says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Another story that has not made headlines is the force feeding of Sikh immigrant detainees, who were on a hunger strike. Its heart-rending.

    I can’t click on the link, but thanks for posting it anyway. I’ve seen film of British prison guards force feeding women arrested for supporting women’s right to vote, as you say, heart-rending.

  198. 198
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Yutsano: Me, too, JESUS CHRIST. Ralph Reed and all those damn churches need to get slapped down, HARD, for this shit.

  199. 199
    J R in WV says:

    @Kent:

    …this whole citizenship question might be something of a deliberate distraction to focus attention away from the dozens or hundreds of other ways that the Trump Administration can fuck with the census through budgets, staffing, foot dragging, running out the clock, and other bureaucratic games.

    Yes, they’re already laying off professionals and cutting out central offices for the census staff. So there we go!

  200. 200
    J R in WV says:

    @gvg:

    Since Vietnam we haven’t actually declared wars

    Neither Korea NOR Vietnam were declared wars. Not at all !! Last one was WW II — really!

  201. 201
    J R in WV says:

    @raven:

    Ever been to the Augusta Heritage center at Elkins?

    Sure. Neighbor teaches banjo there.

  202. 202
    raven says:

    @J R in WV: I was on a trip to the woodworking center there and just happened on one of their festivals, incredible!

  203. 203
    chopper says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    wait, are you talking about cummerbund bandersnatch? the actor?

  204. 204

    @Steeplejack: You are right, good catch.

  205. 205
    smintheus says:

    @tobie:

    I wish every candidate would issue such granular proposals.

    It was only a month or two ago when you were making excuses here for the fact that O’Rourke (or was it Buttigieg?) had no specific proposals at all to offer.

  206. 206
    artem1s says:

    this sounds like a surefire way to ensure we will always be perpetually at war. the Pentagon will find way to weasel the money into their budget and they will never give up that cash flow once it starts. Starship Troopers voter laws to follow. Only those who have served get to have civil rights. This idea sucks in so many ways it cannot be counted.

    how about instead we just grow a pair and cut the Pentagon’s budget by 50% and put 10% of that into the State Department; 80% into infrastructure at home; and 10% into foreign aid (non military) and infrastructure. Also change the way military is promoted. Give out metals and promotions for building clean energy infrastructure at home and abroad or rebuilding our national parks. Cleaning plastic out of the waterways. a modern day Works Projects Administration. We know how to do this. We just need to decide what is really important and not wasting any more time on Kabuki theater ‘defense’.

    this isn’t just a stupid idea, it’s lazy thinking all the way around. Hell if you are going to tax someone for indifference, charge a tax for being too lazy ass stupid to vote.

  207. 207
    Zinsky says:

    @Raven: The Founding Fathers didn’t worship the military and neither should we. It is a necessary evil at best and one we should be working very hard to eradicate forever.

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