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Yeah, this sounds right to me. I'd go so far as to say “Racist policies not related to immigration” is a bit of an “eargreyish”-style convenient-coinage.

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I'd agree with this if my impression of the discourse at the time was that people anticipated that Trump would be unable to enact racist policies unrelated to immigration. If the people around you spoke and thought as though we could count on the Constitution to restrain Trump from doing anything else bad-and-race-related, that's plausibly a crux- an aspect of your experience which, if I shared it, would cause me to agree with you.

However, it's a very poor description of *my* experience. I saw quite a lot of people expressing really a lot of race-related anxiety about Trump, quite apart from immigration concerns. That means I can't really believe Scott created the category he was responding to, and it's hard for me to believe he exaggerated its prominence in the discourse.

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Yeah, to be honest, from what I remembered, all the talk I heard of the possibility of Trump-sanctioned racist policies would have been immigration-based (albeit potentially so wide-ranging as to affect people who by any sane metric haven't counted as "immigrants" in two generations).

There was worry that garden-variety, non-lawful racist abuse would skyrocket as a result of Trump-supporting police *turning a blind eye* to it, and things like that, but I don't think that should be expressed as "non-immigration based Trump policies".

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The context though is that immigration in the West is so far to the left compared to the rest of the world. One insightful comment a few years ago was that when people were freaking out about Le Pen, the actual most restrictive leader immigration-wise was elected in South Korea's Moon. In Asia, Japan and South Korea are extremely restrictive immigration wise and Singapore very explicitly has ethnic quotas in order to keep demographic balance. In the West, we've decided as a culture, that even if the population is to electorally choose to restrict immigration, every facet of society should fight tooth and nail to preven that from happening.

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That is because the major part of progressive discourse is that only whites can be racist, so bringing up Korea or Japan is counterproductive. They don't even call Chinese racists, despite believing that they perpetrate a literal genocide.

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China has refined racism to the point where they practice racism against other people whom the rest of the world calls "Chinese." That they discriminate mostly based on language, though naturally skin color plays into it as well. Did you know all white men are billionaires, want Chinese mistresses, and are enormously well-hung? My coworkers in Shanghai thought nothing of telling me these things "everyone knows" about white people. Never mind what they said about Africans.

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Yeah - if they'd gone from 61% to 30% under Obama, then it would have been literally impossible to do worse by this metric, which seems pretty questionable. "Factor of change in the favorable/unfavorable ratio" seems like a natural choice; by that metric, 2008/2017/2020 ratios are 1.56 / 0.85 / 0.56, for which Obama shrinks by a factor of 1.83 and Trump by a factor of 1.51. (So the conclusion is the same in the end.)

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One thing I’ve gotta mention on institutions: you gave yourself a D for guessing Trump’s impact on them, but from what people like Michael Lewis have written, Trump totally ignored/purposely tore down a lot of governmental institutions, and our terrible early response to COVID was, in large part, due to decisions Trump made in early 2017 upon taking office. So I’d give yourself a higher grade there.

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author

Can you link me to more information on how institutional screwups by Trump were related to the bad coronavirus response?

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Also, pulling CDC people out of China, something Biden criticized all the way back in October 2019. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-china-cdc-exclusiv-idUSKBN21C3N5

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The thing about this line of argumentation is that the US Covid performance, in terms of things like deaths per capita, seems to be somewhere towards the middle of the pack among Western countries, including ones that didn't have a Trump-like "institution-wrecking" figure.

Maybe the US could have been a top-tier country on Covid without Trump, maybe not, but to me, "institution-wrecking" sounds like, I don't know, canceling the CDC. There wouldn't have been a Fauci if the alarmist vision of Trump came true.

While Trump certainly didn't help matters, my sense is that a lot of the complaints about Trump on Covid are failing to account for the degree to which the President's power is limited and America's failures are mostly civilizational.

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Autocrats don't announce their intentions. Instead, the hollow out institutions from within. It's not like Hitler called a press conference to announce the Final Solution, or that Putin announced plans to run phony elections.

And BTW those western countries also rely on the CDC's early warning system in China, just like they did with Ebola and Zika. That's part of the reason the CDC was the most respected in the world.

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Hitler didn't call a press conference to announce the Final Solution, but the Nazi party official platform in 1920 included the sentence: "No Jew, therefore, may be a member of the nation," and the Nuremburg laws of 1935 criminialized sex or marriage with Jews and stripped them of their citizenship (after a series of run-ups to this level of prohibition from 1932-35). Not in any kind of veiled or coded way: "Marriages between Jews and citizens of German or related blood are forbidden," is the (translated) text of the law.

One particularly terrible part of liberals being desperate to equate Trump with Nazis over the last 5 or so years has been, amazingly, them downplaying all the horrible shit that the Nazis did.

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America had a number of advantages over European countries—we got cases and community spread later and we’re richer—so applying a high standard is appropriate.

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America is also much more obese than most of those countries, which carries high susceptibility to COVID

This also mostly ignores the development of and purchasing decisions related to the vaccine, which the US and UK have embarrassed the rest of the West regarding, and requires updating some priors on Brexit.

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https://www.statista.com/statistics/1104709/coronavirus-deaths-worldwide-per-million-inhabitants/ lists the USA as 14th out of 153 nations in terms of covid deaths per capita, which is a long way from the middle of the pack.

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You really really can't compare the US with most of those nations who don't have the ability to create good statistics at all. Russia for example has far greater excess mortality than their listed Covid deaths would indicate.

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I don't know, Canada had (until recently) about 3x fewer Covid deaths and 3.75x fewer cases than the U.S., even though the virus survives better in cold weather / indoors / less sunlight. And the U.S. had an anomalous period from July to September 2020 when it was affected much worse than other developed countries:

https://ourworldindata.org/explorers/coronavirus-data-explorer?zoomToSelection=true&time=2020-03-01..latest&pickerSort=asc&pickerMetric=location&Metric=Confirmed+cases&Interval=Cumulative&Relative+to+Population=true&Align+outbreaks=false&country=USA~GBR~CAN~DEU~ITA~FRA~SWE~NOR~NLD~CHE~ESP

It has been argued that European countries have higher risk because their cities are packed more tightly with people, which also helps explain the severity of Covid in NYC. If this is true then Canada seems like a good point of comparison due to having similar city designs with similar suburban sprawl.

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This is such a jaw-dropping question (I know you had a busy 2020, but still) that I imagine it must be setting up a very boutique interpretation of "institutional screw-ups." Like if one makes the obvious point about the disbanding of the dedicated NSC pandemic team in 2018, would it fall asunder because Trump probably would've just ignored them like he did the various fragmented agencies the authority fell to?

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My main criticisms for Trump's pandemic response had been his terrible optics (ie tweeting that he didn't think masks mattered), his failure to close borders early, his failure to release stockpiles of things that states needed, and his failure to pressure the FDA to approve tests faster. Honorable mention for terrible patchwork shelter-in-place policies although I don't know if that's something he could have fixed or if states rights let them ignore the president on these kinds of things anyway. None of these seemed like the result of destroyed institutions. DJ's answers and your answer are helpful, though I'm surprised you're surprised I needed reminding about this - I don't think Michael Caputo is a household name or Trump's disbanding of the NSC pandemic team was especially covered (although in retrospect I think I had heard about it earlier).

In general I would prefer you not make fun of me for admitting ignorance and asking for information, because that disincentivizes me to to try to learn more about things I might be behind the curve on.

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The stockpiles were certainly an institutional failure. Here's a Washington Post article from 2018 about Trump's decision to move it out from under CDC authority: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/04/24/inside-the-secret-u-s-stockpile-meant-to-save-us-all-in-a-bioterror-attack/

Multiple quotes from experts and Congress concerned that the CDC made the most sense and that the new administrative structure would politicize it, a consequence that Jared Kushner did his damnedest to explicitly realize when he claimed in a cringey press conference that it wasn't meant for the states and then had website's description altered to conform with his assessment.

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I'm definitely not trying to shame you, but I gotta say I'm surprised you spoke so confidently about institutions and now plead ignorance. Michael Caputo is one of dozens of Trump operatives who sabotaged institutions throughout the government.

Some other examples:

* Trump firing FIVE inspectors general after the impeachment (the previous record for a president is one, by Obama, and the guy he fired was very old and acting bizarrely, as if he had dementia). The IG regime was created specifically in response to Nixon's abuses of power.

* EPA director Scott Pruitt being under 15(!) investigations before he finally resigned

* By the end of his term, something like five of of Trump's senior defense & intelligence appointees were "acting," meaning they were not confirmed by the Senate. One of them appears to have been involved in delaying the National Guard on January 6. Another was fired after he told the truth that the elections were not stolen. William Barr resigned for a similar reason.

* After the first impeachment, every senior official who did their Constitutional duty and testified before Congress was fired or, in the case of Vindman, denied military promotion.

* Relatedly, before the first impeachment Trump refused to allow *anyone* in his administration to submit to Congressional oversight, something no president has ever done.

* He was only the second president ever to fire an FBI director. The first was Bill Clinton firing William Sessions, and that only came after clear and convincing evidence that Sessions was using government aircraft for personal errands.

I could name at least a dozen more, but just remember: the first rule of institutional sabotage is you don't talk about institutional sabotage.

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It seems to me that any good-faith attempt to fix the US's institutions (which I hope we can all agree need some serious work) would look like an attempt to "sabotage" them to anyone who doesn't want that to happen.

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Not at all. In the seventies after Nixon there were massive overhauls to the FBI, the CIA, the IRS etc. The Church Committee in particular. Among other things the Congressional intelligence oversight committees were created. Before that Congress had almost zero visibility. Inspectors General were created during that period and expanded multiple times over the next 25 years.

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Any further info on the Inspector General dementia thing? Sounds interesting but can't find anything about it online.

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Trump closed borders much earlier than Canada. At the time, Canadians were dumbstruck that could even be in consideration. Now in hindsight, closing them earlier was obviously the correct move, and I wish my country had not been so quick to judge it as xenophobic.

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Trump didn't close borders with all countries until months in. Travel with Europe was open long after it spread there. US citizens returning were not quarantined on arrival.

Ultimately the buck stops on the Resolute desk!

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I don't recall US boarders ever being closed in any meaningful sense. There were additional restrictions in place for travel from various places at various times, but "closed"? Never.

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What is your country? The US certainly did not judge it as xenophobic.

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His optics were terrible, and his bully-pulpit leadership disastrous, but I think the other things he either did OK on, no worse or better than anyone else, or did OK. Borders were closed in the US pretty promptly, about the same time as they were in Italy (which had more warning), and much earlier than most other European countries -- indeed, Trump got shit for that from Democrats at the time because they thought he was trying to whip up fear and loathing of China.

There's zip he could have done about the state-level responses, as federalism gives the Feds very little control in this area (which always surprises everyone every time FEMA proves *not* to be The Avengers on steroids when natural disaster strikes). Disaster response is a state and local thing, and they hold onto that right and power quite jealously. There's *no* governor, red or blue, who would've stood for Trump, or the CDC, or any gol-darned Washington chair-polisher telling them what to do. He certainly could have organized and cheerled from DC better, and his treatment of the Federal publich health team was a disgrace, a four-alarm clusterfuck. But there's nothing at all he could have done to make Kristi Noem or Ron DeSantis lock their states down, or change Gavin Newsom's plans.

Quite honestly, I think it would have taken an *extraordinary* leader of men to get the American response much better than it was. You have only to look at all the other Western nations -- pretty much none of them did noticeably better, except those few in very unusual circumstances (e.g. Australia and New Zealand), to which contributed unique geographic situations *and* a cultural and political homogeneity that was far out of reach for any American politician. I cannot see Hillary Clinton doing any better job at the nuts and bolts, although she would certainly have presided over less of a clown-car circus at the Federal level.

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The borders weren't closed, they were closed for non-citizens, which is very different.

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Why is it *very* different? It's certainly no different than what every other country did. And would you seriously propose simply marooning every overseas American, with no warning, no recourse, for the following year? This would have been completely untenable politically. No politician at all could propose that and get the enabling legislation. For that matter, enforcement would be profoundly difficult anyway -- you have perhaps heard of our difficulties sealing the US-Mexico border, despite several hundred miles of tall fence, spotlights, barbed wire, trained guards...?

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I'm pretty sure if Trump tried to close borders to citizens, we'd have another impeachment on the record. He was called racist for preventing those that have zero right to come in from coming in. I can't imagine what he'd be called if he had tried to block those that have the full legal right.

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"Trump got shit for that from Democrats at the time because they thought he was trying to whip up fear and loathing of China."

Cite?

"There's zip he could have done about the state-level responses"

Well, if you define "state-level responses" as "responses that the federal government can't influence", that's true by definition. But there's absolutely more he could have done.

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> his failure to close borders early

Seriously? While all the press has been calling him racist for having covid-based travel restrictions, and all the leftist politicians called for going to celebrate to Chinatown and hugging everybody around to show we're not like the racist Trump - it's Trump's fault alone for not doing enough to close the borders?

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"While all the press has been calling him racist for having covid-based travel restrictions"

Cite?

"and all the leftist politicians called for going to celebrate to Chinatown and hugging everybody around"

All?

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Who was making "fun" of you here?

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I think his greatest failure by far was his failure to provide leadership to the states. States cannot close their borders. Accordingly, having piecemeal shutdowns on a per-state basis is akin to having families quarantine alphabetically and in sequence for 5 weeks each.

Pointless.

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States could at least do basic things like stop putting sick people into nursing homes and develop robust medical protocols to guard the most vulnerable instead. Not only they did not - the people who thoroughly bungled that are praised by the media and actually awarded prizes for their "leadership". And yet, it's somehow Trump's fault of leadership. There was no leadership possible with all Dem leadership hating Trump guts and doing everything possible to obstruct his every move, no matter what. He could close the borders (which he was called a racist by Dems when he tried) earlier, but he couldn't force the state govs to do anything, and if he tried, they'd probably do the opposite just to spite him.

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"Not only they did not - the people who thoroughly bungled that are praised by the media and actually awarded prizes for their "leadership"."

Cite?

"There was no leadership possible with all Dem leadership hating Trump guts and doing everything possible to obstruct his every move, no matter what."

That's a bunch of paranoid victim complex bullshit. Dems didn't oppose Trump for the sake of opposing Trump, they opposed him because he had bad idea after bad idea, and pretending otherwise is bad faith propaganda used to excuse Trump's incompetence.

"He could close the borders (which he was called a racist by Dems when he tried) earlier"

No, he wasn't.

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Actually, I would guess they probably can. There's not a lot a state can't do on an emergency basis, when it's plausibly justified by public health concerns. Few state constitutions contain anything equivalent to the Tenth Amendment, so in principle their police power is unlimited.

I doubt the assorted supreme courts would put up with it indefinitely of course -- but then, quite a lot of the pandemic measures fall into this category. Having the governor close businesses by fiat or order people not to venture from home without a shred of enabling legislation is no less an infringement on state and Federal civil liberties than preventing Arizonans from freely crossing into California.

But I agree hardly any state *would* without the encouragement and assistance of the Federal government. If nothing else, it's impractical, they don't have border guards. But the Feds *could* have, for example, shut down nonessential passenger and airline and rail travel, and deployed Federal resources to help control highways.

Whether that would have had an impact is a very interesting question. The Chinese experience strongly suggests it might have been the single most effective thing to do, but that's a big extrapolation from murky data, so who knows?

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I think calling whatever comes out of CCP "data" is giving it way too much credit. Statistics has always been a form of non-scientific fiction in communist dictatorships, and I don't see why CCP would make an exception in this particular case.

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This was my major frustration throughout last spring and summer. (By Fall, I was resigned.) The plan for basically everything was, "leave it to the states", but states can't effectively squash an outbreak because they can't regulate interstate commerce! They're not good at coordinating on things like this. (This is why we have a Federal government...)

So from everything to data collection and reporting standards to testing protocols to "opening" and "closing" plans, you had a confusing mishmash of regulations and information. Coordination and leadership were utterly lacking.

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I'd suggest the NSC reorganization was linked to the bad response:

>In 2018, Trump fired Tom Bossert, whose job as homeland security adviser on the NSC included coordinating the response to global pandemics. Bossert was not replaced. Last year, Rear Adm. Tim Ziemer, the NSC's senior director for global health security and biodefense, left the council and was not replaced. Dr. Luciana Borio, the NSC's director for medical and biodefense preparedness, left in May 2018 and was also not replaced.

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/trump-cuts-national-security-staff-may-hurt-coronavirus-response-say-n1143656

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Oh come on. What exactly would an intact NSC have done to make a damn bit of difference? We're a a full 14 months into the pandemic *now*, with enormously greater information about it, a raft of powerful vaccines, better treatment ideas, much better scientific info about how it spreads -- and what is the NSC doing that is any bit of good? Cases have been soaring in Michigan -- what has been done about that by the NSC? If they would've been effective 14 months ago, why, they should be twice as effective now, with what we've learned. I'm not seeing it.

So far as I can tell, the *only* clearly and seriously effective response to COVID was developing a vaccine extremely rapidly. (Maybe some of the public health hokey pokey -- lockdowns, mask mandates, et cetera -- was useful, and maybe it was marginal, and it will take years of research to know which it is.) That was largely a private effort, except insofar as (1) we should give credit to the NIH and friends for funding the basic research 25 years ago that made the technology available when it was needed, and (2) it probably helped that the Federal Government was willing to guarantee a huge pot of revenue to Pfizer, Moderna, J&J et cetera if they invested in the vaccine. One can give the Trump Administration some credit for that, but on the other hand it was kind of a no-brainer and enjoyed bipartisan support I imagine.

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Can't see any mention of this, so I'll throw in a link: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2020/09/18/usps-covid-19-coronavirus-plan-to-send-every-household-face-masks-how-the-white-house-stopped-it/?sh=7096c1c16b2a

The Forbes article summarizes some WaPo reporting. The gist is: the USPS had a plan in April to mail every American household multiple reusable masks. The White House spiked it, supposedly to prevent panic. (In April!) This was back when the Surgeon General was demonstrating how to make masks out of t-shirts.

How big a difference would this have made to pandemic trajectories? I have no idea. But I think there was a lot of stuff like this.

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Is this in reference to getting rid of the "pandemic prevention team" of the CDC? That's the main thing I remember people talking about along these lines.

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Also putting incompetent political sycophants into leadership positions there.

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founding

Robert Redfield was an incompetent political sycophant? Everything I've read suggests that he was a talented and generally respected scientist and administrator, highly regarded for his previous work on HIV/AIDS. And the failings of the CDC under his tenure look like the typical failings of otherwise-competent bureaucrats subject to the Iron Law, not incompetent political sycophancy.

The pre-COVID CDC was too low profile and too far from Trump's core interests to attract Trump's attention, or to be a valuable prize for his sycophants. It looks like he may have appointed one "sycophant" when filling out the offices in 2017, Brenda Fitzgerald, but then mostly lost interest when Fitzgerald went down in a scandal a few months later.

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Michael Caputo is the obvious name here.

Politico: "But since Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background, was installed in April as the Health and Human Services department's new spokesperson, there have been substantial efforts to align the reports with Trump's statements, including the president's claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or stop the reports altogether."

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founding

If Trump was appointing competent technocrats to actually *lead* the CDC, etc, and Trumpist sycophants to brag about it, then that's much less damning than the original claim that Trump was appointing the sycophants to the leadership positions.

And in any event, the media seems to have had no trouble routing around the Trumpists and going to e.g. Anthony Fauci for their messaging. Fauci having served in the same position under every president from Ronald Reagan on down, I think it's unlikely that he's anybody's sycophant (except maybe his own).

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Possibly, but it's not about bragging - it's about deliberately sabotaging the CDC:s work in the interest of better PR for the president.

I think that's pretty damning?

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In that case, not CDC exactly, but definitely using sycophants to water down the truth to support the president.

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I'm no fan of Trump but Scott and others specifically pan his pandemic response. It's not clear to me what the counterfactual would be? What would a Clinton administration have done differently that would have made a material difference in the course of the pandemic? It's hard to believe that the FDA under Clinton would have been less risk-averse allowing a vaccine to be administered earlier, and it seems Macron can be seen as an ideological stand-in for Clinton, but France's experience with the pandemic hasn't been noticeably better than the US. Not to say that Trump made good decisions here, but just that it's not clear that Clinton would have made better ones.

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She wouldn't have tweeted things like LIBERATE MICHIGAN!

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The winning move was to close borders earlier and lock down for the six weeks or whatever that was necessary, at the start of the pandemic, to eliminate the virus. Clinton wouldn't have closed the borders earlier, so what was needed was a Super Trump of some kind.

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She would've closed them sooner because she would've had better information. She would've had better information because she wouldn't have cut two thirds of the CDC observation staff in China, something Biden criticized all the way back in 2019.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-china-cdc-exclusiv-idUSKBN21C3N5

The only reason the travel bans happened at all is because Trump's assistant national security advisor had backchannel contacts in China from his days as a reporter covering SARS.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/transcript-matt-pottinger-on-face-the-nation-february-21-2021/

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She might have wanted to close the borders, but the howls of outrage from the right would have overwhelmed any such attempt.

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I think the border thing is super hard to say. I could argue either she would have delayed even longer closing the border, since a bit part of the 2016 election was about how border control is racist. Or could have been a Nixon to China moment and the national press would have been more accepting of the "good guys" doing something like that.

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A hard border-closing response would've led to a different pandemic in the US, but I'm not real convinced that it would've led to a substantially better one by the numbers. We aren't New Zealand. We weren't going to keep Coronavirus out of here forever. Canada and Mexico were both hit hard, and even if they hadn't been, you can't actually shut down the borders all that hard for all that long -- you're inevitably going to have a lot of exceptions to the rule for a variety of reasons (like citizens coming home), and something is going to break through.

Where the peaks in the graphs were would've looked different, but does pushing the first peak back a couple of months actually lead to a different result? The vulnerable people would've still been there to get infected and die.

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That would do precisely nothing. US borders - especially the southern border - is hugely porous, and hoping it can be airtight closed for six weeks (why six? who knows) is pure magic fairy tale. Probably not even for six minutes. Moreover, by the time US politicians realized what is happening, enough people carrying the virus were in to make "eliminating the virus" absolutely impossible.

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Thailand had less than 100 deaths, despite the porous border with Burma. China had less than 10K, despite the porous border with Russia and Burma.

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China stats are so thoroughly fake that discussing any numbers from there as actual numerical data makes no sense.

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There is something strange and as yet inexplicable going on with COVID in East Asia. There are even papers being written about it:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7403102/

Similar weirdness is going on Africa: the entire *continent* is reporting a mere 4.4 million cases and 120,000 deaths (and if we leave out South Africa it's 2.9 million cases and 65,000 deaths). Nigeria (population 200 million) is reporting a mere 2,000 deaths to date, which is approximately what the US has reported for the state of Idaho (population 1.7 million).

Of course, it could be utterly hopeless reporting, or...something else. This disease has a lot of seriously weird results.

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With COVID, especially in poorer countries, if something seems weird the first place to look is testing/data collection and reporting.

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Africa heavily skews young and older people die more of COVID. Also, it's poor enough that people with preexisting conditions are probably dead of something else.

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That was not the winning move and lockdowns have had no effect. The data on this is quite clear.

I have to admit I'm disappointed that a long post all about rationality and data based decision making has a comments section filled with people who believe lockdowns and masks work when you can simply look at the case curves for different countries and see that there is no correlation. Or you can read studies that do that analysis more rigorously of course, but it's not really necessary.

Trump's COVID response was actually pretty good and I have often found myself wishing we had a Trump-like politician where me and my family live in Europe. He correctly ascertained that Fauci was full of it and brought in someone a lot more rational and with better integrity, not that voters rewarded him for it. He correctly realised that it wasn't as dangerous as was being made out. He correctly understood that lockdowns have terribly severe costs. His big mistakes were when he tried to follow the advice being given by his advisors, prior to realising that they weren't actually experts in what they claimed to be. Most of the world hasn't got anywhere close to that point yet!

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"you can simply look at the case curves for different countries and see that there is no correlation. Or you can read studies that do that analysis more rigorously of course, but it's not really necessary."

CIte?

"Trump's COVID response was actually pretty good"

Refusing to let a ship dock because you don't want to "increase the numbers" is pretty good? Holding superspreader event after superspreader event is pretty good? Claiming that 85% of people who wear masks get COVID is pretty good?

"He correctly ascertained that Fauci was full of it"

How so?

"and brought in someone a lot more rational and with better integrity"

Who?

"He correctly realised that it wasn't as dangerous as was being made out."

He was correct in claiming that it was no worse than the flu? Just how dangerous was it being made out and by whom?

"He correctly understood that lockdowns have terribly severe costs."

Everyone realized that.

"His big mistakes were when he tried to follow the advice being given by his advisors, prior to realising that they weren't actually experts in what they claimed to be."

Can you be more explicit?

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For example https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2020.100464 and obviously “the case curves” cite themselves.

Re: Trump. By “pretty good” I should probably have written better. I mean it in some very specific ways better than other countries. This does not mean good in an absolute sense. His response looks good only relative to the disastrous responses by other leaders who by and large failed to get to grips with the very poor quality of expert advice they were being given. In my eyes,Trump replacing Fauci with Atlas was a big success, one big enough to offset many other mistakes. Blaming politicians for listening to bad advice is fine, but it’s not fair to criticise them for that right at the start. No leader can be expected to understand which obscure advisors are reliable at the start of a crisis. Not understanding it after a year though, is much harder to forgive. Trump is one of very few world leaders who successfully saw through their state epidemiologist and he does deserve credit for that. Perhaps you aren’t aware that Fauci has admitted to lying to the public (for the greater good as he sees it) TWICE now - this is a pattern for him. I think any advisor who routinely admits lying in order to manipulate the public is by any definition “full of it”. And that’s just the ones he admitted. Look at his response to Texas not diverging from lockdown states - he has started to claim that in the states still in lockdown everyone is ignoring the law. That’s delusional.

WRT the specific decisions you mention, I am very skeptical about “superspreader” events because so many of them happened and again, case curves did not inflect. Most obviously the US election. That wasn’t a huge surprise because as already mentioned, in fact the data doesn’t seem to reliably support any strong connection to how much contact people have. There’s just no correlation. It’s as if what we do has no impact at all (except maybe vaccines).

Re: flu. There are IFR meta-studies that place IFR in range of a strong seasonal flu, and of course for the under 70s it’s far below, it’s not even comparable. Flu kills children and young people at rates that are statistically meaningful, COVID basically doesn’t.

Re: lockdown costs. It’s not obvious everyone does realize that. Go read the literature and try to find any discussion of costs vs benefits from epidemiologists. When I did this exercise I couldn’t find any. Even a paper that claimed to be a cost/benefit analysis declined, in the end, to actually do such a thing because the value of a life would have been controversial.

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"For example https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2020.100464 and obviously “the case curves” cite themselves."

The first result I got when I google “lockdown effect on covid” was https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7293850/ “The lockdown, one of the social isolation restrictions, has been observed to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic”. So reading the studies on lockdowns does not, in fact, lead to the clear conclusion that they were ineffective. And you didn't give any support for your claim that simply looking at case curves proves your position.

“I mean it in some very specific ways better than other countries.”

If you just mean that you can cherry-pick some bad policies of other countries, that's not saying much.

“His response looks good only relative to the disastrous responses by other leaders”

But the US is one of the worst countries in the world, so no, Trump's response does not look good compared to other countries.

“In my eyes,Trump replacing Fauci with Atlas was a big success,”

How so? The death rate at the end of Atlas' tenure was more than twice what it was at the beginning. He advocated “rising up” against the government in response to COVID restrictions and claimed that masks don't work.

“Perhaps you aren’t aware that Fauci has admitted to lying to the public”

Cite? Also, Trump admitted to deliberately misrepresenting COVID to “stop panic”.

“I think any advisor who routinely admits lying in order to manipulate the public is by any definition “full of it”.”

Twice isn't “routinely”, as opposed to Trump, who DOES routinely lie.

“WRT the specific decisions you mention, I am very skeptical about “superspreader” events because so many of them happened and again, case curves did not inflect.”

Trump causing a few hundred people to get COVID isn't going to be a large effect on the overall numbers, but it's still a horrible example to set.

“in fact the data doesn’t seem to reliably support any strong connection to how much contact people have.”

That's just false.

“There are IFR meta-studies that place IFR in range of a strong seasonal flu”

Yet another claim that needs a cite. Unless you're including the 1918 pandemic in the category of “strong seasonal flu”, in which case this is wildly misleading. Also, COVID is more infectious than the flu. COVID has killed around half a million Americans in a year. That quite simply is not “basically the flu”. Period. There is no justification for claiming otherwise.

“Go read the literature and try to find any discussion of costs vs benefits from epidemiologists.”

Cost versus benefits of lockdowns is more of an economic issue than an epidemiological one. I was able to very easily find cost-benefit articles, for instance http://www.sfu.ca/~allen/LockdownReport.pdf . A cost/benefit analysis is indeed difficult to do. That just supports the idea that quantitative cost/benefit analyses not being more common is not indicative of lack of concern.

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I think partly this is optics (Trump conspicuously serving as an anti-role model by denying the importance of the pandemic and of shelter-in-place measures), part of this is various little things like refusing to release federal stockpiles that should have been released, and part of this is things that yes, a Clinton administration would have gotten wrong too, but which I'm still angry about.

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Trump did the one thing right that really matters, get plenty of vaccines to jab in people's arms.

The best counterfactual is probably to look at the EU, which has Clintonesque leaders, who messed up big time.

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US deaths per million is about 1750. Good enough for 15th globally and that's if you count some silly micronations like Montenegro and Gibraltar.

It's a similar to Spain and Portugal but just shy of double Germany (962).

If the US had it's shit together enough to result in a similar response to the EU average there would have been 150-250k fewer deaths. Crazy!

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By the end of it, European rates will climb up higher. Barring a huge, huge disaster, not enough to get Germany to U.S. levels, but still will be closer.

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I think that culture and state choices accounts for most of the differences. Your comment has zero actual policy proposals for what Trump could have copied from other nations with better results, which would have made a major impact.

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Though he doesn’t seem to have developed a plan for doing the jabbing.

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That's a state-level responsibility and having a plan without the vaccines is useless, while it is fairly trivial to 'plan' if you have plenty of vaccines.

As a EU resident, I'd gladly offer a trade where we get your huge supply of vaccines and you get our 'wonderful' plans.

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I didn't say anything about Europe having a better plan. But, like, Biden announced yesterday that everyone 16 and up is vaccine-eligible now. How could he have done that if it's a state level responsibility?

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Trump didn't get vaccines, scientists did. And the EU has lower deaths than the US, so how did they "mess up big time"?

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Can you point me to the huge production facilities at universities that produce the vaccines for free and give them to the states?

Excess mortality differs greatly inside the US and is way higher in the north-east, so you can't blame that on the federal government. The US is similar to the EU, in that states decide on lock down measures and such. I also think that culture and luck has a huge impact.

But ultimately, without large-scale vaccinations, the vaccine will just stay around for a very long time, regardless of the lock down measures. Vaccinations are the only way out.

The federal US and EU government have both taken control of vaccine procurement (including funding production facilities, signing contracts and choosing to allow/ban exports). The US is clearly doing much better both before and after Trump left office, suggesting that it wasn't Biden who fixed things. The incompetent EU decided to sign huge contracts with the very inexperienced Astra-Zeneca, who offered extremely cheap vaccines, but who happen to not be very good at scaling up. And they exported a lot of their production out of the EU, despite the EU funding these facilities. In the entire US, 16+ are now eligible. In The Netherlands, we are still vaccinating only the elderly and at-risk groups.

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"Can you point me to the huge production facilities at universities that produce the vaccines for free and give them to the states?"

That rather looks like a straw man.

"Excess mortality differs greatly inside the US and is way higher in the north-east, so you can't blame that on the federal government."

That's a non sequitur, both in that it doesn't address what I said, and that the second part of the sentence doesn't follow from the first..

"The US is clearly doing much better both before and after Trump left office, suggesting that it wasn't Biden who fixed things."

If Biden isn't responsible, it's an odd coincidence that the turn around happened right around when he took office. And Trump didn't have any hesitation about taking credit for the low unemployment that happened to occur during his presidency. He can't have it both ways.

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There's the institutional issues baked into the US that predate Trump, but downplaying the threat of covid (at the time when his leadership was the most necessary--early February-March) was something that Clinton very significantly wouldn't have done.

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Why do you think that ? Emmanuel Macron is probably the closest thing to the Democrats Europe has to offer, and he was downplaying the threat as late as March 7. (Sadly I can't find a link in English, but he went to see a play on March 7. with the explicit intention of "Encouraging people to go out despite the crisis".

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"early February-March) was something that Clinton very significantly wouldn't have done."

Of course she would have done it (though maybe not as insistently as Trump).

https://www.today.com/video/dr-fauci-on-coronavirus-fears-no-need-to-change-lifestyle-yet-79684677616

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None of the things you said are true. Trump was an excellent role model. You claim he resisted social distancing and shelter-in-place measures, but here is a quote from March 11th:

"In particular, we are strongly advising that nursing homes for the elderly suspend all medically unnecessary visits. In general, older Americans should also avoid nonessential travel in crowded areas. My administration is coordinating directly with communities with the largest outbreaks, and we have issued guidance on school closures, social distancing and reducing large gatherings. Smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow."

And you claim he denied its importance, but if that's true, why would he declare a state of emergency on March 13th:

"To unleash the full power of the federal government in this effort today, I’m officially declaring a national emergency. The action I am taking will open up access to up to $50 billion of, very importantly — very important and a large amount of money for states and territories and localities in our shared fight against this disease. And in furtherance of the order, I’m urging every state to set up emergency operation centers effectively immediately. You’re going to be hearing from some of the largest companies and greatest retailers and medical companies in the world. I’m also asking every hospital in this country to activate its emergency preparedness plan so that they can meet the needs of Americans everywhere."

He was also pro-mask. Here is two direct quotes from July 21st:

"And we’re asking everybody that when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask. Get a mask. Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. They’ll have an effect and we need everything we can get."

"I carry the mask. I went into Walter Reed Hospital the other day. I have the mask right here and I carry it, and I will use it gladly, no problem with it. And I’ve said that. And I say, if you can use the mask, when you can, use the mask, if you’re close to each other, if you’re in a group. I would put it on when I’m in a group. If I’m in an elevator and there were other people with me, including like security people, it’s not their fault. They have to be in the elevator. I want to protect them also. I put on a mask. I have no problem with the masks. I view it this way. Anything that potentially can help and that certainly can potentially help is a good thing. I have no problem. I carry it. I wear it. You saw me wearing it a number of times and I’ll continue."

...

I don't believe any of this, of course. I pieced it together with Google to be a contrarian smart-ass. Any reasonable person who followed Trump can see past the self-contradiction and occasional willingness to read Presidential-sounding scripts (usually while sniffling a lot and pivoting between a left and right teleprompter) and accurately assess what he really believes and demonstrated to his followers in his off-the-cuff remarks at rallies (their new hoax!) and tweets (LIBERATE MICHIGAN). You don't have to be a super-allist to suss the difference between Rally Trump and Podium Trump; it's usually pretty clear to both his followers and his detractors. And like you said, the optics do matter.

The relevance of this example to your racial apologia is left as an exercise for the reader.

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I agree, I felt Scott relied too heavily on official quotes and not enough on subtext for some of these conclusions. An example is the capitol riot. Yes, Trump did eventually tweet for his supporters to stand down. However, that was several hours after they first breached the capitol.

Trump's silence during that time is significant; his supporters had illegally broken into a government building with the 'goal' (although that word implies too much forethought) of contesting the results of an election that he lost, and he was willing to wait several hours before saying anything to stop it. This is the behavior of someone who, if not actively hoping for an insurrection, is at least open to the idea of it. I understand that Scott is looking for objectivity, but only looking at official statements misses a big part of the picture.

Perhaps I'm being uncharitable, it just seems odd to give himself a B on his coup prediction. A legitimate coup attempt would require Trump to fully commit to it and open himself up to immediate legal punishment if it failed.

Also I think the race section should have mentioned the George Floyd protests and subsequent police responses. Don't know how Scott would grade Trump's response, but at the very least it seems like one of the most important race-related events to occur during Trump's presidency.

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"Any person with sufficiently biased priors can see past the obvious evidence negating them to continue believing in their priors, it's obvious, read the -- subtext". This is ridiculous, frankly you remind me of string theorists constantly trying to defend their untenable positions.

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shambibble clearly said " Any reasonable person who followed Trump". That is clearly a reference to EVIDENCE, not priors, and you are being dishonest in pretending otherwise. And if Trump made pro-mask statements sometime and anti-mask statements other times, it is legitimate to characterize him as standing in the way of masks. If someone is accused of being racist, compiling a list of times where they were not actively engaged in racist activity doesn't counter the charge.

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“My priors are trump is racist so anytime he makes a statement that can vaguely be interpreted as racist, it is obviously his racism and anytime he makes a statement EXPLICITLY CONDEMNING RACISM, his reasonable supporters will discard it as false propaganda, so I shall too.” Can you see the ridiculousness of your logic? If you want examples of Trump explicitly condemning racism, Scott has linked to many examples and yet examples of Trump being racist is what? “ Fine people on both sides” - He condemned white supremacy just a sentence before, so he genuinely believed that there were people who were simply protesting taking down of statues. “they are rapists, thieves and some I assume are good people” - He genuinely believes immigrants cause crime. “Shithole countries” —He believes those countries are actually bad, nothing to do with race. Can you see why your priors are so clearly binding you? I’m not going to continue this conversation if you’re just gonna argue that I’m wrong without considering any charitable explanations of Trump.

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I think it's plausible that Clinton would have generally driven a more coordinated federal response. Contact tracing was never seriously attempted in the US; perhaps federal leadership here could have ringfenced infections.

Likewise, Trump actively advocated for doing less testing, because he thought that the case numbers were only going up because we were doing more testing. It seems very likely that Clinton would have pushed federal funding for more tests, and more testing would have potentially allowed us to respond quicker to the successive waves of infection.

Many other countries that locked down hard also gave generous economic stimulus; for example paying partial salaries for furloughed workers. It seems at least directionally likely that the US would have experienced less lockdown fatigue (and therefore potentially had a lower R) if at the margin fewer people were forced to work in unsafe jobs.

The US has managed to politicize mask-wearing in a way that is quite exceptional for developed countries. Unclear to what extent this would have happened without Trump, but at least directionally, he was pushing the public away from evidence-based medicine in a way that was harmful.

As you say I think it's likely that "Project Warp Speed" would have gone down differently. I can see a world where the Very Serious People oppose handing a huge check to pharma companies, and so we got fewer doses by this time -- as happened in the EU. However there is a huge difference between the Democratic establishment (i.e. Clinton's wing of the Democratic party, not AOC's) and the European left in terms of the degree of basic faith in capitalism; it doesn't seem implausible that the Democrats would be OK with a "vaccine new deal" to hire furloughed employees as contact tracers and set up a speculative fund for vaccine development. I could easily imagine the Democrats spending more on their version of "Warp Speed".

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> Contact tracing was never seriously attempted in the US; perhaps federal leadership here could have ringfenced infections

The Australian experience was that contact tracing plus limited lockdowns can work if there's low (single digit) cases per day, and that contact tracing can scale to dozens of cases a day in conjunction with serious lockdown.

It's not that great beyond that point though. Contact tracing teams take time to build and scale out, and they only catch some fraction of potential infectees.

As part of a serious plan for eradication it works great, but throwing "more contact tracing" into the US coronavirus situation wouldn't make much difference.

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"As part of a serious plan for eradication it works great, but throwing "more contact tracing" into the US coronavirus situation wouldn't make much difference."

Denmark, Norway, Finland, and South Korea suggest otherwise.

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Worth pointing out that Pfizer was not part of Operation Warp Speed. They were EU funded.

Other vaccines may have been delayed but, regardless of US involvement, the Pfizer timeline would remain unchanged.

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By almost every metric, the U.S. delivered more aid and stimulus to its citizens than did any other country. The "European countries gave out much more money" meme is a progressive lie (surprise!)

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A couple of things:

1. I'm not sure that "France's experience with the pandemic hasn't been noticeably better than the US" is supported by data. Here's excess mortality for both countries: https://www.dropbox.com/s/pfwflov8vnjczbi/2021-04%20France-vs-US-excess-mortality.png?dl=0

(from https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/excess-mortality-p-scores)

2. Of course it's impossible to know if a Clinton White House would have implemented any positive actions that would have improved things, and I think it's fair to argue that perhaps it wouldn't have. But it seems clear that a Clinton White House would have resulted in far fewer negative actions that exacerbated the pandemic in the US (nearly all of which come down to Tweeting, honestly).

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Clinton's pandemic response would have been to send the VP to the Wuhan wet market to eat bat soup as a show of anti-racism and solidarity with the AAPI community.

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Not necessarily. The current condition of the woke media landscape is in part a reaction to Trumpism, which indeed is one of the reasons Trumpism is bad, and the early dismissals of COVID by liberal media outlets were partly a reaction to Trump's anti-China rhetoric/policies. If Clinton had been elected in 2016, Vox in early 2020 would have looked somewhat different - exactly how different, it's hard to say.

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Isn't the arrow of causality reversed there, in which Trumpism arose in reaction to a media landscape that was becoming increasingly woke?

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One reinforced the other. I would model it as a feedback loop (admittedly one that got started long before Trump), not an arrow.

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"and the early dismissals of COVID by liberal media outlets were partly a reaction to Trump's anti-China rhetoric/policies"

No; epidemiologists were just as worthless in 2014.

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"France's experience with the pandemic hasn't been noticeably better than the US"

France has had 1,573 deaths per million. The US has had 1,762. That's 12% higher. 62k extra deaths. Sure seems noticeable to me.

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"our terrible early response to COVID was, in large part, due to decisions Trump made in early 2017 upon taking office. So I’d give yourself a higher grade there."

Did state governments do much better than Trump?

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I'm having a hard time reconciling "When the Capitol riots happened, with basically no links to white supremacy" with the number of subsequent arrests of people in explicitly white supremacist organisations, wearing "six million was not enough" shirts, etc.

If ten percent of a room is wearing explicitly Nazi ideology on their shirts, I am not mollified by the other 90%. Ten percent nazis is a lot.

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20 Nazis attempting to seize power by overthrowing an election is a shit fuck ton.

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founding

Why? Do you think Nazis are superhuman?

I think 20 Nazis – and Nazis today – are shit, not a "shit fuck ton".

(Modern) Nazis, and similar extremists of all persuasions and linear directionalities, are almost entirely edgy LARP-ing; not significant threats to basically anyone.

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Why do you think nazis are not dangerous?

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20 human bodies are certainly scary. But even 20 physically peak humans are not really a match for the power of the American state, or the sub-governments beneath it. I think the person you are responding to does not really see Nazis as dangerous because the state has a high interest in ensuring no one uses violence except itself, even if it's slow to react.

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A single human body in the right place at the right time is more than sufficient. Given the stated, explicit goals of Nazis, any proximity to the levers of power is unacceptable.

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Meh – I just don't see much of any evidence that Nazis – today, in 2021 – are even as dangerous as eco-terrorists or street gangs.

I don't even consider Nazi ideology to be particularly dangerous – in part because of 'memetic allergies', but also because there are LOTS of ideologies that seem at least as dangerous.

I think it's much more likely that millions would be murdered by a 'communist' (or socialist) revolution than a Nazi 'coup'.

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I would posit that 20 Nazis are not *dangerous enough that we should freak out about it* if: they represent a tiny minority of the population that has no widespread public support and no conceivable means of leveraging their way to institutional power (the Capitol riots do not count as such because, even if a non-zero fraction of them were Nazis, as far as I can tell, they were an undisciplined rabble who bumbled into the legistative building and caused some chaos, but had no hope of actually swinging the outcome of the election in the real world).

Doesn't mean you shouldn't personally avoid them if you are of one of the demographics that Nazis get het up about, but it does mean that a Nazi takeover shouldn't be anywhere near the top of your list of potential threats to the USA that you ought to expend mental energy worrying about.

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Yes, there's an armed gunman in your house. Yes, he's explicitly there with the intent to do harm. Yes he's a Nazi and your roommate is Jewish.

But he tripped on the stairs and his gun jammed so why are you freaking out?

I prefer to freak out *before* the maximally bad outcome occurs, thank you very much.

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Nazis – in 2021 – are not objectively dangerous.

_Maybe_ they're slightly more dangerous than median people (or men). But they definitely seem much less dangerous than nation-state militaries, government police, private security, { revolutionaries / freedom fighters / terrorists }, drug cartels, organized crime members, etc..

I'm not even sure Nazis – again, today – are even as dangerous as neighborhood street gangs.

Why DO you think Nazis are dangerous – again, today?

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Your second paragraph is a list of groups that have never stormed the capitol to interrupt the peaceful transition of power. (Ok the British did burn the white house down, but I think that's the exception that proves the rule in this case).

My list, of Nazis, is one very visible subgroup of the group that did, stay with me here, storm the capitol to interrupt the peaceful transition of power.

That is why I think nazis are dangerous. Because they have demonstrated means, motive, and ability to storm the capitol to interrupt the peaceful transition of power. In a way that no other group in human history has outside of wartime.

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That # is just wrong. There are 400 people who have actually been charged and probably somewhat more who were involved. Additionally most Nazi's know that showing up in their full regalia doesn't win any political battles.

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800 people entered the capitol.

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My mistake, that shirt was from a different protest in DC by the same group just on a different day. I was actually thinking of "Camp Auschwitz" which was definitely there on the 7th.

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There were also some very prominent confederate flags. I know there are plenty of people who are going to say that a confederate flag isn't a symbol of white supremacy, but it pretty literally is a symbol of white supremacy.

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Only in the same way that the United States flag is a symbol of white supremacy.

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If you took a random sample of people displaying US flags, and a random sample of people displaying Confederate flags, I have 99% confidence than the Confederate-flag-displaying sample would contain at least 2x the proportion of white supremacists.

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I think that's true, but also not really what I'm getting at. The proportions could be exactly the same, and the Confederate flag would still be the banner adopted by a group of states who were literally fighting to preserve thee institution of slavery.

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Sure, but correlation is a terrible condition to use here. If you take a random sample of people displaying US flags, and a random sample of people displaying Tennessee flags, I have 99% confidence that the Tennessee-flag-displaying sample would contain at least 2x the proportion of white supremacists.

This isn't because the Tennessee flag is a hate symbol. It's because there are more white supremacists per capita in Tennessee than in the US. Similarly, the Confederate flag correlation could be adequately explained by their being more white supremacists in the former Confederacy. Which... is almost certainly true, though I was unable to find solid evidence.

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The US flag wasn't adopted by a set of breakaway states who declared war specifically to defend the right of white people to own black people as property.

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Also the right of black people to own black people as property, don't forget, e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Ellison

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Wait, uh..... wasn't it, though? I mean, one could argue that the British were not interfering with the colonists' slave arrangements, and so the war wasn't over that. But it is worth noting at the US flag was adopted by a set of breakaway states who not only owned black people as property, and not only immediately encoded this state of affairs into law post-breakaway, but encoded in their *founding Constitution*

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The confederate battle flag was not especially popular until the fifties, when states like my home state of Georgia started incorporating it into their state flags as an f-you to civil rights protests.

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Do you think this was the context in which it was used when the Dukes of Hazzard (1979) put it on the roof of their car?

Do you think this was the context in which it was used when Johnny Cash performed on The Muppet Show in front of both the US and Confederate flags?

The answer is: no, it went through a period of being an innocuous symbol of regional pride for a region.

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I've edited this to say "organized white supremacy", but I think my point is basically correct, and something like - if white supremacy had suddenly stopped existing in 2016, the Capitol riots probably would have happened the exactly the same way they did in our world, plus or minus a t-shirt slogan.

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What evidence would separate "organized white supremacy" from "white supremacy" for you?

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I would take a step back and say "What exactly is the definition of white supremacy?" These words keep getting thrown around and I'm not even sure exactly what they mean. And I know they keep getting confused with "White Nationalism" which is a different concept.

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What distinctions would you like that definition to draw that are meaningful in context?

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I don't know, I haven't even heard a specific definition for what it means at all. It seems to be a term that's awfully slippery in its definition.

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In particular, we have the distinction that 'supremacy' could mean someone thinks that white people are, as a factual matter, the best sort of people, or it could mean that someone thinks that white people ought, as a normative matter, to have special legal privileges that other people don't get.

I don't know how much overlap there is between the two groups. I suppose "White people are the best, and will tend to come out on top in any fair competition, so therefore they don't need any special privileges, just equal opportunities" is a coherent position that one could take, which, although such a person might disagree with a traditional liberal on the factual question, would mean that they would still support the same policy proposals as the traditional liberals. It's the ethnonarcissists of the "we want special privileges for our race" type that I'd be more worried about - especially since the current zeitgeist is heavily boosting various non-white ethnonarcissists, which I can only imagine will make recruiting much easier for the white ethnonarcissists.

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I thought the "6 million not enough" reports turned out to be a hoax.

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Actual shirt worn by an actual Proud Boy at an actual protest in DC.

Different day.

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I also have to weigh in on institutions. If you consider "faith in the accuracy and fairness of the election system" as an institution (which I do), Trump has done a *lot* of damage to that institution and may have irreparably harmed it (40%), to the point that sometime in the next 12 years, there will be another violent election-fairness protest similar in scope to January 6th, 2021.

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We had 4 straight years of "Russia stole the elections. Trump is a manchurian candidate puppet president. Stacey Abrams is the real governor of Georgia. Asking to see an ID is Jim Crow." All thanks to the Resistance crowd.

The elections were a joke and will only continue to become moreso with the passage of time until the whole house of cards collapses.

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Just to steel-man one particular arrow in your opponents' quiver, there, the argument is not that asking for ID (i.e., confirming the identity of voters) is a kind of voter suppression. It's that, for example, refusing to let someone vote at all, or throwing out a vote rather than making it provisional, in a situation where someone doesn't have ID, is a kind of suppression. It's a nuance that doesn't make for great soundbites, but if you're going to die on that hill you should at least be aware of the actual problem people have with these kinds of laws. Progressives don't want voter fraud to be easier, I promise.

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On that last note: I don't know that I know of a single progressive who thinks voter fraud is even possible in a real sense. The response I see nearly 100% of the time to accusations of voter fraud is that we've looked for it in the past, didn't find it, and that any accusations of voter fraud are thus just super-silly.

I'm not really all that sure if it's wrong or right, but if you don't believe voter fraud ever happens in any kind of significant way, I'm not sure "wants fraud to be easier/harder" even parses - of course you don't want any kind of requirements to vote that might be effective; since voter fraud is fake and any restriction that might catch it would have collateral damage in non-fake voters not being able to vote, it's a cost without a benefit.

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I suspect the causality might be the other way around here. It's not that they think voter fraud doesn't happen so they don't want voter ID, it's that they don't want voter ID to they think voter fraud doesn't happen. Motivated reasoning.

To my way of thinking, if the opportunity and motivation for fraud exist, then fraud will happen.

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How many cases of voter fraud would have been prevented by voter ID laws?

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What would be a good Fermi estimate?

The main source of voter fraud is presumably people voting in the name of people that they know won't be voting for themselves. The least egregious (but still very illegal) version would be casting a vote in the name of an elderly relative who is too decrepit to vote on their own; the most egregious would be to somehow obtain a list of too-decrepit-to-vote people and send a mob of party operatives to vote for them.

Typical turnout is about 50%, so there's another 50% of voters whose identities are up for grabs. What fraction of these people will have a vote cast in their name? I'd guesstimate somewhere on the order of one in a thousand, which means 150,000 votes.

Somewhat relatedly, this recent study https://scholar.harvard.edu/files/morse/files/1p1v.pdf attempted to estimate the prevalence of double-voting and came out with an estimate of one in four thousand. This is a head-scratcher though; if one in four thousand people double-votes, then why aren't one in four thousand people getting convicted of double voting once the state tallies up the lists of all the people who have voted?

Also found near the top of this rabbit hole was this claim of a thousand double-votes in Georgia in June and August 2020 https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/08/us/politics/georgia-double-voting.html ; I haven't been able to find any follow-up articles about any of these people being prosecuted.

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To be fair, you're not talking about conversations about voter fraud as a concept, you're talking about conversations about widespread anti-Trump voter fraud in the 2020 election, which is a very specific thing.

Ask your progressive friends if they think voter fraud is possible in the abstract and they will, I would wager, largely say "of course". Many of them will point to the handful of people who have been identified who *did* commit voter fraud in 2020 by attempting to vote twice, all of whom (to my knowledge) allocated those double votes to Mr. Trump.

But more importantly, people who have thought seriously about voters' rights issues are well-aware of the history of voter fraud in this and other countries, and I haven't talked to any who are as blind as you're implying.

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I'm sure they would answer in the abstract that voter fraud is potentially an abstract thing that could potentially happen. But it's meaningless in a practical sense (and applying, of course, to the people I've talked to) for a couple reasons, in ascending order of what I think is importance:

1. They never encounter voter fraud or potential voter fraud they will acknowledge. This is pretty convoluted, of course: is it just the particular cases being particularly weak, as you say? Is it on party lines? Is it everything? This is the weak question.

2. I think the strongest evidence for them not believing in potential voter fraud is the implication of what I talked about above - there's no level of fraud-prevention I've ever seen them be OK with. This sounds like an exaggeration but I've never seen any proposed preventative measure they didn't portray as a racist plot to disempower PoC.

Bear in mind my usual personal stance is that I don't necessarily think there's a ton of voter fraud, or at least not that I could credibly point to/prove. So I'm at a similar balance point to them, or at least more similar than you'd think; I don't think we should do tons and tons of restrictive things.

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Just to engage with point number two for a minute, are you saying that all progressives that you're aware of are *for* eliminating all fraud prevention measures in the voting system, such as confirming residency, preventing double-votes being counted, and paper ballot backups?

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The Republicans are doing it to suppress the urban vote. Urban voters are mostly the people who don't have photo ID.

The Republicans get upset when people start pushing for everyone to have ID. If they cared about fraud, they'd be in favor of it. They are instead opposed.

Indeed, they were opposed to securing the election before the 2020 election. Mitch McConnell stopped the voting security bill in Congress. Mitch has been opposed to bills that do things like force electronic voting machines to leave paper trails.

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Collusion was confirmed. Biden just sanctioned Russia for it.

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Well, that proves something, I guess.

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The Mueller report document scads of evidence of collusion, and the Senate Intel report documented even more. What the Mueller report did not prove was conspiracy. However the Mueller report also says that their investigation was severely hampered by potential witnesses like Manafort and Papadopoulos lying and deleting evidence, such as text messages.

In Papadopoulos' case, his lies prevented them from being able to question Joseph Mifsud, the guy who told him Russia had Hillary's emails. Mifsud disappeared not long after Papadopoulos was arrested.

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https://taibbi.substack.com/p/russiagate-is-wmd-times-a-million

Let me know when they find those pesky Iraqi WMDs.

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You cited an article that was written nearly a month *before* the Mueller report was even released. Great source.

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Yeah, this whataboutism is really just not true at all. I'm sure you want it to be true, but these aren't mainstream opinions. I'm a progressive. All my friends are progressive. No one I know believe any of these things as you've stated them. Here a some things that many progressives do actually believe:

1. There was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mueller found the same thing, so this is hardly the stuff of conspiracy.

2. The purpose of voter ID laws is to make it more difficult for Democratic-leaning voter blocs to vote. There are many, many examples of Republicans explicitly admitting this, so again, not exactly a conspiracy conspiracy. Plus if you know anything about the actual history of voting in the United States, you kind of have to be trying hard to not understand what is going on with these laws.

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"There was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. "

No.

"Mueller found the same thing, so this is hardly the stuff of conspiracy."

No.

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OK. But on the other hand...maybe yes?

Tell ya what. How about you go read the Mueller report's extensive documentation of ties between Trump campaign officials, surrogates, and family members and Russia and let us know what you find. And since you'll find absolutely nothing to be concerned about, spend a few minutes reflecting on how you would feel if, say, Barack Obama had done the same things. And then after concluding that there's no validity to that comparison at all, come back here and post some more insightful one-word rejoinders.

Ready? Go!

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"How about you go read the Mueller report's extensive documentation of ties between Trump campaign officials, surrogates, and family members and Russia"

"Ties" are not "collusion". I'm Russian myself; I did not collude with anything.

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Attention: the above poster is a BlueAnon turd. Do not engage logically or its head will explode.

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I actually had to google blueanon. Wow, you could not be more wildly off-base on that one. I'm temperamentally pretty much the exact opposite of a conspiracy theorist. I'm also pretty good with logic, so if I see any in your posts, I will happily consider it.

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Well, the purpose of things like moter-voter laws and laws that permit "farming" of ballots (where 3rd parties collect ballots en mass to deliver them) is to make it easier for Democratic-leaning voter blocs to achieve higher turnout. Not asking for IDs in a place with a massive illegal population -- e.g. California, Texas -- certainly does at least make it easier for certain kinds of fraud, too, and the direction it goes isn't hard to guess.

Both sides angle for rules that gerrymander the election to favor their voters. Duh. They have for centuries. This is nothing new, and anyone who clutches pearls at *either* side trying to skate right up to the line of illegality and/or political suicide is either dreadfully naive or a tool. That's the way politics has worked, has always worked, will always work.

The best we can do is try to set some crude and easily enforceable ground rules that hold the hanky-panky to a dull roar. Sure, in close elections some skulduggery might bump it one way or the other -- but it's a *close* election, which means the electorate is kind of divided on which way it goes anyway, so maybe it doesn't matter too much -- any amount of chance events could've tipped it, too. What we *don't* want is for *non-close* elections to be able to be pushed into bullshit outcomes, the kind of East Germany thing where 80% of the people hate the State but mirabile dictu the ruling party always gets 99% of the vote.

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Well, if you don't see an ethical difference between making it easier for people to vote and making it harder for them to vote, I'm not totally sure what to say. I guess I might point out that the practical barriers and disincentives to voting fall much harder on certain demographics. I might also point out America's grotesque and ongoing history of disenfranchisement, which again is not exactly randomly distributed. (I myself only recently learned of the existence of white primaries, to take only the most egregious example.)

Also your claim about "both sides" isn't really as true as you think. Democrats are much more likely when in power in state legislatures to push for good governance approaches such as non-partisan districting boards. I am not claiming that Democrats are angels -- angels have a hard time getting elected -- but your handwaving that "everyone does it" is just a form of "dreadful naïveté" passing as insight.

(And yes, the partisan valence of much of this vote suppression flipped in the middle of the last century, but it has always been the same people getting screwed.)

Finally, the types of voter fraud you are alleging, such as non-citizens voting, has never been found at any sort of meaningful scale, despite the incredibly strong incentives that Republicans have to unearth it. It is, as they say, fake news. We are not East Germany. You might want to put down those pearls.

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Alas, it's not a question in *either* case of making it easier or harder for "people" to vote -- because "people" aren't all identical. Indeed, that's the reason the Democrats favor one and the Republican favor the other. Requiring voter ID makes it harder for Democrat constituencies to vote (or so they say), but doesn't affect Republican constituencies (or so they say). Ballot farming makes it easier for Democrats to accumulate votes, while not affecting Republican voter turnout much. And so forth.

Surely you must know this. (Which makes your opening paragraph appear to me either naive or disingenuous.) There wouldn't *be* partisan rancor over the issue if it affected all "people" identically. It's precisely because it doesn't that the parties are at odds over it.

That's leaving aside the fact that, no, I do *not* in fact think making it easier for people to vote is a priori always a good thing. We could let criminals and children under 15, vote, too, or those who are mentally incompetent, or the imaginary friends of children to vote. We could let people vote as many times as they like. This would all increase the vote totals, but would not be an improvement. Votes are not of equal quality, so to speak. That's why we restrict voters to those over 18, those not serving time for felonies, et cetera. If we could further restrict the vote to people willing to spend more time and effort studying the issues and candidates, I think that would be a good thing. So, no, the proposition that "anything that makes it easier to vote is good" does not strike me as logical or healthy for the Republic, more along the lines of a mindless slogan that mistakenly identifies wider participation with more meaningful participation, which is as silly and dangerous as thinking that if two ounces of rum per person makes the party go, why then two fifths each should be even better.

Democrats are more likely to push for good governance? On what do you base that? They're just inherently better people? Something in the water they drink at conventions, is it? I'm sorry, as an unsupported assertion this doesn't even pass the laugh test with me, and you have adduced zero empirical evidence.

That there has *never* been large-scale voting fraud is an assertion that is quite ahistorical. Perhaps you want to read up on so-called "machine politics?" Ask yourself how Harry Truman got to be Senator? Look into the suspicions of what the Daley machine did for JFK in Chicago in 1960?

Perhaps what you meant to say is that you don't think it exists in the 21st century, at least on a wide scale. Maybe. But how would we know? The powerful incentives of which you speak are not by themselves sufficient to guarantee discovery. You would need money, a lot of it, and you would need to figure out some way to gain information from a segment of the population (illegal voters) that by definition are very reluctant to talk to strangers. You might as well assert that the extent of child pornography ought to be very well known, since normal people have a very strong motivation to discover any of it that might exist.

I don't myself think there *is* enough illegal voting to swing elections, personally, as it happens. (And I think Republicans are more interested in demagoguing the issue than finding out.) But I'm aware that's just a wild guess, and that in truth nobody really knows.

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It's not an unsupported assertion. You just don't care. It's not hard to learn about the modern history of gerrymandering, which changed in nature in the last few decades with the advent of much more granular voter data. This enabled much more targeted strategies of vote dilution, and yes, it was a lopsided partisan effort. It's not really a secret at all that these efforts have primarily been driven by Republicans. Can you really not be aware of this?

If you don't like the idea that this is because one party is better than the other, then feel free to chalk it up to electoral incentives. Republicans face shrinking demographics and Democrats growing demographics, so one party naturally favors disenfranchisement.

Also, personally, the notion that some political parties are worse than others doesn't strike me as so strange. It's a (simplified) commonplace that more liberal politicians are motivated by the notion that government should help people, and conservative ones are motivated by the notion that government can't or shouldn't help people. This draws different types of people into politics with different types of motivations.

Or to take an example closer to home: I believe that people are in fact more or less identical with regard to their right to access to vote. You, I now understand, are one of these democracy skeptics who believe that only "high-quality" votes should count. I take this as strong evidence that my principles and motivations are better than yours. It's not simply that we differ on marginal tax rates or foreign policy or something where we can all politely disagree. You hold odious opinions.

(For the record, I think a strong case exists for allowing people younger than 18 to vote, and there is no good case at all for denying the vote to felons. Also, this "in truth no one really knows" bullshit is just total cowardice on your part. This topic has been investigated endlessly. The child pornography analogy is so egregiously stupid that I'm pretty sure your own vote couldn't possibly pass your test for quality.)

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Your second point feels like saying “Some highways were built to screw over urban blacks, so we can conclude all highways are bad.”

Obviously some voter laws are going to be aimed at suppressing democratic voters, and we have evidence of it sometimes happening in the past, but that’s pretty different than a general conclusion about them.

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Except Russia did interfere in the 2016 elections. Without said interference, given how close the election was, there's a good chance Trump would have lost.

It's simply objective fact that the Russians have been attacking the US via propaganda. The far left and the far right have both been influenced.

Bernie Sanders was also boosted by the Russians. So was BLM. So were antivaxxers.

Russia has been making our problems worse.

It's not a made-up issue; we have caught them doing it, and the US intel agencies all agreed this happened.

Trump's campaign even reached out to Russia for help, and Trump asked Russia for help on national TV. "Russia, if you're listening".

You seem to have a short memory.

The idea that Trump was a Russian asset was investigated by US intelligence and the FBI.

And the ID thing is complicated. I don't have an issue with people presenting ID to vote. The problem is that the Republicans are opposed to any sort of national ID card, which is necessary for such. Right now, we just use drivers' licenses, but if you don't drive, you don't have one of those, and most people don't travel internationally so don't have passports.

If the Republicans were like "We want to issue national ID cards and make it a requirement for in-person voting and registering to vote" I'd be 100% on board with that. But if you start bringing up national ID cards, they get upset.

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Same thing would have happened had Trump won re-election.

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> that sometime in the next 12 years, there will be another violent election-fairness protest similar in scope to January 6th, 2021

Yes, just as there was in 2016, although the media narrative around that one was different. https://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/19/politics/trump-inauguration-protests-womens-march/index.html

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Perhaps, and this is very very speculative, but perhaps the media narrative was different because the womens march didn't violently break into the capitol during a joint session whilst chanting "hang Mike Pence".

Perhaps.

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How many cops died as a result of the Women's March?

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You may want to adjust your metric: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56810371

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"Due to privacy laws, Dr Diaz is unable to say whether the officer had any pre-existing medical conditions. However, he did acknowledge the policeman's role in the events, telling the Washington Post: 'All that transpired played a role in his condition.'"

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Apologies, should have phrased my comment better: you might conside using a broader metric such as "injured" to avoid having your argument dismissed/complicated by the counterpush against the "beaten to death" narrative inaccuracy.

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I didn't say anyone was beaten to death; I stand by my comment.

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2017 was not the highest, 2019 was. Total of 7,314 incidents, good for 125.03% of 2015:

https://ucr.fbi.gov/hate-crime/2019/topic-pages/tables/table-1.xls

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Thanks! I'm not sure how I got this wrong - I wrote most of this piece in 2020 and it's possible that 2019 wasn't out yet? I'll double check this and if it proves true I'll edit that section.

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Edit: Looks like I was looking at only single-bias incidents and when you add multiple-bias incidents you're right.

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I'm also unsure how you're scoring your sixth "Wolf" prediction. You seem to be counting 2017 as part of both the Trump and Obama years; there simply isn't a data point for it as far as I can tell. Given the point you were trying to make, I would think 2008-2016 and 2016-2020 makes the most sense as a measure, which would mean positive black views of race relations declined 12 points under obama (61-49) and and 13 points under Trump (49-36).

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Intuitively it feels odd to me to compare eight years of Obama to 4 years of Trump. For example, if we think there's a general trend of declining race relations, then we would almost always end up thinking the four-year candidate was better for race relations than the eight-year one. I think it'd be interesting to compare the first four years of Obama to the first four years of Trump.

But perhaps I misunderstand how best to do it. It's not an area that I have any expertise in.

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I had extensive problems with Scott's predictions and let him know about it in the comments but those have been deleted. Basically he set himself up to "successfully" disprove the argument "Trump is an outright racist" by making predictions more geared to disprove "Trump will successfully pursue ethnic cleansing."

But the predictions are what they are. I'm now more irritated that he's giving himself 9/10 when from my view it's more like 7/10, with all of his sub-90% predictions whiffing. This speaks to a mis-calibration.

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+1 to all points, including prior comments that were deleted.

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Clarification: I also had comments to that effect deleted (but not for no reason tbf, there's an argument for topic relevance). I can't speak to any details of shambibble's specific deleted posts.

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"Basically he set himself up to "successfully" disprove the argument "Trump is an outright racist" by making predictions more geared to disprove "Trump will successfully pursue ethnic cleansing.""

According to this post, his position was not that Trump was not racist, but that he wasn't in league with the KKK and openly encouraging racist attacks, etc. etc.?

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I am talking about his "Wolf" post, not this one. As I said in the comments at the time, it basically reduced to a semantic dispute about how "open" (not "outright," I misremembered) one's racism has to be before using the term "openly racist" was justified as a descriptor.

To the extent Trump contradicted himself a lot and occasionally managed to read saccharine Presidential-sounding stuff off a teleprompter, he is uniquely suited to the sort of cherry-flavored charity pie being baked here. It's the same thing that permits Scott to gamely claim Trump was against the riots because of his belated "go home" tweet several hours after the fact, once it became apparent Pence and Congress had successfully evacuated and they wouldn't accomplish anything but make people mad.

But ultimately this boils down to questions of media bias which aren't really an interesting debate to me and haven't gotten more interesting since. What I didn't like about the bets was only two of them really went to the question of "open" racism: the cabinet bet (which would go to his personal prejudices as the cabinet-picker) and the bet about no subordinates endorsing "the KKK, Stormfront, etc" (the biggest gimme of the lot).

The bets about public attitudes are meaningless because the President is not a dictator of public opinion. Even if the race relations number *was* unambiguous I could easily spin a story where it wasn't Trump's fault, it was the gosh-darned media's reaction to him! The bets about demographics and registries are similarly meaningless because the President is not a dictator; Woodrow Wilson was "openly racist" by any reasonable definition and yet the non-white population did not go down during his Presidency. The bets on gay marriage, registries, and internment were essentially bets on the Supreme Court, not Trump.

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I tried to follow the grading scheme from the original post, which was comparing 2008-2016 to 2017-2021. There was no data point for 2017, so I took a number halfway between the 2016 and 2018 value, which was 44.5.

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It didn't occur to you that taking a number halfway between the 2016 and 2018 value is assuming your conclusion?

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I mean, it sucks that I have to do it, but do you have a better idea for how to interpolate that?

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Well it seems the very least you could do is weight your interpolation because the 2016 data point was in Jun-Jul of that year, five months before the election, while the 2018 data point was in Nov-Dec of that year, 24 months after it.

Or you could just call it no-bet, like you would if the FBI had changed its methodology in prediction 1. It's pretty suspect to be awarding yourself the W based on assuming a constant slope when the bet is essentially about whether the slope will change at a given point, particularly when you already loaded the terms for yourself by comparing four years to eight.

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