Thursday, June 20, 2019

Free Speech Grifters

I will use my free speech to yell at them on twitter more, before they mute or block me and deprive me of it!

It’s not just the IDW itself: Some of its key popularizers also get Koch funding. Bari Weiss and The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf—who has been one of the most visible defenders of Peterson in the mainstream media—have both received cash prizes from the Koch-funded Reason Foundation, where David Koch himself sits on the board of trustees. And remember “The Coddling of the American Mind”? Well, one of its co-authors, Greg Lukianoff, is the head of that campus free-speech watchdog, FIRE. That organization is funded, of course, by the Koch brothers (for good measure, the Charles Koch Institute also did a laudatory write-up of the piece).

The Atlantic is perhaps the worst offender. Last year it launched “The Speech Wars,” a reporting project that seeks “to understand where free speech is in danger and where it has been abused.” Even though the magazine had just been bought by billionaire Laurene Powell Jobs and was seeing all-time high circulation and web traffic, The Atlantic solicited funding for the project from none other than the Charles Koch Foundation (the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and the Fetzer Institute are also underwriters).

When I asked The Atlantic for comment, a spokesperson replied that “editorial control for this series—as with every piece of journalism we create—rests solely with The Atlantic.” But the magazine refused to deny that reporters and editors with “The Speech Wars” are ever in contact with the Koch Foundation. Editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg did not respond to my request for comment, and The Atlantic has not disclosed how much money it has received from the Koch Foundation.

...sorry, link fixed.

Afternoon Thread

Inolved with some joys of homeownership related program activities.

Chang chang changitty chang sha-bop

But such mediagenic theatrics concealed a far more momentous question: Had Trump and the Democratic leadership really been at war? Democrats first outsourced their attempts to fight Donald Trump to the office of Robert Mueller. Then, given a House majority with which to investigate the administration, they found themselves totally stymied by Trump’s stonewalling. How should they deal with an administration that refuses to answer subpoenas, whose White House counsel argues Congress has no constitutional right at all to investigate a president or his administration? Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been answering that question pretty consistently: Wait for the Trump administration to go away on its own. 

Morning Thread

Thursday already! The week is flying by.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

But Houston!

Whenever the subject comes up generally somebody comes along and says "but Houston has no zoning, and..." Well, sort of, but not really. Houston has a set of land use regulations that are pretty much identical to everywhere else. Not that all places (or neighborhoods in those places) are identical, but identical in the sense that they tend to mandate all the same things which limit development (again, not everywhere) to single family homes, and certainly lead to lower residential density (and the automobile-centric neighborhoods that result). Zoning is often shorthand for zoningandlanduse so in the case of Houston "no zoning" means "no laws telling you that you can't put a doctor's office in this spot." But they'll still tell you how much off street parking you need to have for your doctor's office.

So they have same land use laws as everywhere else - large lot zoning, setback requirements, minimum parking etc. And they even have many of the same zoning features in that while the guvmint doesn't tell you that you can't operate most businesses out of your home, your HOA does. Potato, Potahto.

Suburbs Of Nowhere

This NYT bit about zoning was, of course, catnip to me. The big point is that even in cities, the amount of land zoned explicitly or effectively for nothing other than single family detached housing is immense. "Downzoning" has long been a thing, meaning even currently dense areas contain a lot of noncomforming properties. You can knock down a multifamily unit to build a single family home, but you can't do the reverse.

And the inner ring suburbs are generally even worse (Obviously this is a big country and not all cities are the same so generalizations are necessary. "Inner ring suburbs" are more of an older city thing, as those cities stopped annexing their streetcar suburbs.) They tend to be a bit denser, too, but with as much or more of a tendency towards downzoning. Not a lot of new housing of any type being built. Then you get the actual suburbs which tend to be locked in amber, at least residentially, once they are somewhat built out.

That leaves building on the fringes, which happened during the glorious aughts, but the fringes (exurbs) are suburbs of suburbs, and detached from things like cultural institutions, employment centers, and civilization generally. They can be close to nature, which is an amenity, but they're not exactly rural or small towny, just big box stores and strip malls and a very long way from the baseball stadium.

So where do we put the people? Often people want to say "declining rust belt cities" or similar. And, ok, sure, but declining places have declining housing stocks and no jobs. That's why they're declining. And the same policies (or worse) than the more booming places.

America's Worst Democratic Presidential Candidates

Joe Biden.

Aside from being part of the regular "but the Democrats were the real racists!" taunt (yes, guys, we know), there's rarely a reckoning with just how amazingly racist these people were. I don't care what party they were of (at the national level many of them eventually became Republicans, some became somewhat repentant and improved Democrats, and local and state politics is always a bit more complicated), but we spent years just yelling "but states' rights" instead of acknowledging their words (let alone deeds).

They were *really really really racist*. Racism was central to the whole political project. It wasn't hidden behind bullshit legal philosophy or minor policy differences, it was right out there in the front. I imagine some of it would shock even our new alt-right friends.

It's one thing to say a few kind words about Strom Thurmond at his funeral. I get that sort of thing. But there's no reason to exhume these monsters to highlight what a getalong guy you are. Or maybe there is?

Don't Kill Me Bro

There's too much talk of individual behavior when it comes to vehicle and pedestrian safety issues. Of course individual behavior matters, but it tends to lead to mostly pointless arguments about whether cyclists, pedestrians, or drivers are "the worst." We know how to design streets that emphasize safety over traffic throughput, and that street design is probably a lot more important than yelling at bad drivers or even traffic enforcement. Design a highway and drivers will treat it like a highway. Institute various traffic calming measures and they'll slow down. Have separated bike lanes and cyclists are safer. Time lights for pedestrian crossings appropriately and pedestrians will be safer. There are lots of things.

And, yes, as it says in the link, a big problem is that SUVs kill people because of the way they are designed.

What'd I Miss?

Could sleep last night, so I slept in.

Morning Thread

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Who Put This Thing Together

That's a lot of drugs.

Federal authorities Tuesday seized more than 16 tons of cocaine from a cargo ship docked at the Port of Philadelphia — a massive haul they estimated was worth more than $1 billion and described as one of the largest busts in the nation’s history.


Amazing that anyone, even really elderly Tory party members, can look at Trump and think, "how can we copy that?" They aren't precisely the same, of course, but they do have their similarities. Cousins, not twins.
How will Britain’s political system cope with a leader whose words bear so little relation, not just to his actions, but to the words he will say tomorrow? We don’t have to imagine. Donald Trump is in the White House.

In some ways, this weaponisation of bad behaviour has proved an excellent political strategy. In his presidency, as in his campaign, Trump has been graded on a very flattering curve. Silvio Berlusconi was Italy’s most durable prime minister in decades. And Johnson himself has repeatedly survived things that would have destroyed anyone else in British public life.


They don't even try.
In the months that he has served as President Trump’s acting secretary of defense, Patrick Shanahan has worked to keep domestic violence incidents within his family private. His wife was arrested after punching him in the face, and his son was arrested after a separate incident in which he hit his mother with a baseball bat. Public disclosure of the nearly decade-old episodes would re-traumatize his young adult children, Shanahan said.

Also Nobody Watches Your Speeches On CSPAN

I really don't get how clueless they are.
In recent weeks, Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.), chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has briefed fellow House leaders in private meetings about focus groups the committee commissioned in three key political battlegrounds. The upshot, according to four Democrats familiar with the findings, is that the public’s impression of the new House majority is bound up in its battles with Trump, not in its policy agenda.
You don't have to pass bills to tell voters what you'd like to do. There's only one way to grab the mic and that's doing serious oversight hearings.


My president.
The good news, we're rebuilding it here. We're building America. Everything's made in the U.S.A., and it's great. But I-- you know, it's one of those things. I have to rebuild the military. Otherwise, I mean, what's more important-- than our military? Especially in these days where you have such problems. And I think the stronger we are, the less likely it is that we use the military. We're close to being very, very strong. We're close to being stronger by far than ever before. But I took over a totally depleted military. And you know that. The planes were old. They talk about the grandchildren of pilots were flying the same plane as they were flying many years ago. We have beautiful new F-35s and F-18s and new-- rifles, new uniforms. In the case of the Army, we have the new uniforms that everybody's wanted for years. They're an expensive-- job. You know, you-- it doesn't sound it, but it is. And-- we have-- we have spent a tremendous amount of money on our military. And we did the right thing because we had to rebuild our military.

Morning Thread

Monday, June 17, 2019

Monday Night


Near Boston

The focus on elite (super-elite) colleges by the people who run our discourse who all have dick measuring contests late into their lives based on which elite colleges they attended is always annoying. But higher education, in general, does matter, and lost in all of these conversations is that running a residential campus is harder than running the comments section here, but it is similar. Of course all of these institutions get these things wrong sometimes but the issues are more complex than outside observers usually recognize. What if the racist guy is put into a dorm room with an African-America person?

There are a lot of issues here, and not just the one I raised, but "what happens at Harvard" is the dumbest thing we talk about usually and I apologize for contributing.

Afternoon Thread

Busy with some things.

Don't Believe Everything You Read On The Internet

I think email forwards have been forgotten. Before "social media" and really the internet generally there was dumb shit that people forwarded over email.

It wasn't so different.

Morning Thread

Monday. Bah!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Sunday Night

I don't even hate Bon Jovi (local boy, sorta) but this video suddenly made me mad.

One free subscription to whoever figures out why!