68 thoughts on “Armed & Dangerous has offspring, sort of

  1. He’s Israeli. If he’s done his mandatory military service he probably has some combat training.

  2. @Jeff: despite being Israeli (and a Jew) I am exempt from service due to psychomedical reasons. I’ve studied Judo for one year in, and a long time afterwards studied Contact Fight for a year (both when I was younger), but I barely remember with it. Furthermore, most Israeli soldiers, including most males, are not fighters, and don’t even have a rifle. I originally hoped to work as a programmer or a translator from Arabic/etc. (in the Intelligence force, etc.), but was not accepted, and for better or for worse, got exempted from the IDF.

    If you think most Israelis carry guns or are experts in Israeli Contact Fight or some other martial arts very well, you have been misled. I am not a good physical fighter (though don’t rule out that I ever learn martial arts), but what I meant in my blog’s title was that I still can influence people or even disrupt the power-structure of many especially malevolent entities. I’m not sure if the pen is mightier is than the sword, but since I’m not a swordman, a pen is my best weapon and it can be very effective sometimes. The Jewish wise men said “He who saved one soul, has saved the world entire.”, so I can be happy if I inspired just one person.

    All that put aside, I still support the right to bear arms and form militias as put forth in the second amendment of the American Constitution. I just decided not to practise it, due to various personal and environmental reasons.

  3. Shlomi,

    No, I don’t think of you all as Zohan. :) Regardless, my idea of Israelis is that you are overall made of pretty stern stuff, like Swiss (and, regrettably, unlike many Americans) — in part due to the military service required of (most of) your adult citizenry.

    And for my part I agree with you: having the ability to fight and having the opportunity to fight are two different things: the former respectable and desirable, the latter not.

  4. Chuckles obediently… but he does have a point about pens and swords. (Much as I love swords, a pen can do a LOT more damage in the long run.)

  5. Well, there’s two ways of looking at it.
    1) The pen is only mighty to the extent that it is supported by the sword (either the drawing and wielding of the sword, or the sheathing of the sword.)
    2) The sword is only mighty to the extent that it is guided by the pen.

  6. Much as I love swords, a pen can do a LOT more damage in the long run.

    Although the pen is mightier than the sword, actions speak louder than words. Don’t you just love aphorisms?

  7. Note the full quote from Edward Bulwer-Lytton:

    “Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword.”

    Discuss.

  8. Eh. When it all comes down to it, one needs both on call to survive. But one can say a computer and its various peripherals is mightier than both because it can take the form of either.

    What is a cruise missile but a very specialized computer built into very specialized peripherals running a built in program? And what was Stuxnet but a very discrete, very precise long range destructive device? What is an office suite but a development of the pen? How much money has been saved by using emails instead of paper mail or memos?

  9. And what about the fact that you can also stab someone real good with a pen if you need to?

  10. > What is a cruise missile but a very specialized computer built into very specialized peripherals running a built in program?

    What is the difference between an electrical engineer and a civil engineer?

    The electrical engineer builds weapons systems, and the civil engineer builds targets.

  11. “Beneath the rule of men entirely great, the pen is mightier than the sword.”

    The reason is obvious. To be powerful you need to organize people. The pen is what organizes people.

    You might have a million swords, a single pen can convince them to stop fighting for you. It has happened, many times. And even after death, a single pen can destroy the name and heritage of the mightiest.

    That is why even the most powerful of dictators mainly use their swords to destroy writers.

  12. @Jeff: thanks for your comment. I think Israelis may be tougher because we constantly live under political uncertainty – not as much because most of us serve in the military. I also think Israel has handled the “threat” of terrorism better than the United States and some other countries, who have lost their mind. For example, in Israel, a politician won’t be able to keep a copyright or “counterfeiting” bill such as ACTA and other similar law processes not publicly exposed under the guise of national security. I believe all the law-passing in Israel is fully exposed and open and the Open Knesset site (where Knesset is what we call our parliament) concentrates the information and allows for some APIs.

    Naturally, Israel is not perfect as far as handling security is concerned, and there is a lot of room for improvement in this and other legal, constitutional and implementation respects, but I think .us can learn a few things about doing things rationally from Israel.

    One thing I do support is the abolition of Israeli constitutional democracy, which I think is a major cause of a lot of our political problems, and I see Israel as the nation of the Israelis – not of the Jews. I also lean towards thinking that a military service should be voluntary and we may follow the German model of giving a choice between a shorter military service, or a longer social service (though instead of Germany, for both males and females.), with the high ideal of voluntarism put aside.

    At the moment, the IDF is incredibly mismanaged, and keeps assigning people at doing things they don’t like or want arbitrarily, and it is even prefers to populate Mamram, the main IDF computers unit, and other units out of the communication arm, only out of people with a low physical profile and/or those who studied in a technical school. Moreover, one of my best friends failed his final technical exam and did not get his “Practical engineer” diploma, spent 3 years in the army doing dish washing, and was told he did not have to do reserve service. Then he got into the Technion (see my opinion piece about it which to sum up claims that the level of the material there is both very high, and yet studying there requires a lot of work, and is often demotivating), it is both very hard and to study Electrical Engineering (restarting his degree) and after some years graduated from it, cum laude (with a more Electronics-oriented specialisation than my more CSish degree) .

    The US Military may be very bloated (not that the IDF isn’t relatively to Israel’s size), but at least it knows that people should do what they want. I’ve talked with a few U.S. Army fighters on the Internet who had good programming skills, but joined it in order to become fighters and that’s what they became (even though the US Military would have probably preferred them to serve as software engineers.). That’s one of the problems with a draft, which makes the military more mismanaged, and arbitrary, because it assumes that it does not have to compete with other opportunities that the people who serve there have for growth, self-fulfillment, just plain fun, etc.

  13. Jeff,

    “my idea of Israelis is that you are overall made of pretty stern stuff, like Swiss (and, regrettably, unlike many Americans)”

    Aren’t you in a bit of a cognitive dissonance here? The stern stuff the Swiss are made of is basically that kind of rifles-and-bibles protestant-conservative-individualist tradition that you tend to dislike the American versions of, don’t you?

  14. Shlomi,

    About consitutional discrimination: neat and very enlightened idea, but you should also take this set of problems into consideration: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asabiyyah

    I would also like to ask a question. I think the debates raging in the Europe & America about Israel are fueled by one misunderstanding: Israel is seen as Western country, therefore, the right supports it as being “ours”, and the left criticises it becase they demand that it should behave as a Western country (don’t violate human rights, obey UN resolutions, don’t discriminate etc.).

    I am not so sure about Israel being truly “Western”. It has a culture that’s very different from the assimilated-Jewish culture in Europe & America, it is much more Eastern, “mizrahi”, I mean, for example, this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlIJOAZ1pak reminds much more of some kind of “Arabian Nights” than the culture of Einstein, Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand or Ludwig von Mises.

    I think Israel, alongside with Lebanon and Turkey, should be rather considered as “bridge” cultures between West and East, perhaps we could call these countries “Levantean cultures” or something like that. European businessmen often have very similar experiences in all three countries (feeling roughly at home but there are strange differences, such as the necessity of offering bribes, for example).

    In short, Israel is not nearly as “yekke” as people in Europe or America think it is.

    What do you think about it?

  15. Aren’t you in a bit of a cognitive dissonance here? The stern stuff the Swiss are made of is basically that kind of rifles-and-bibles protestant-conservative-individualist tradition that you tend to dislike the American versions of, don’t you?

    I think I would have a lot more respect for the American protestant-conservative-individualists if they weren’t as a group so actively engaged in puritanism, racism, and science denial. Near as I can tell this sort of nastiness doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world except for Islamist-influenced areas (although I think Australia has a growing contingent of fundamentalists and other wackos). It’s telling that the only industrialized nation where a smaller proportion of people believe in evolution than in the United States is Turkey.

  16. Near as I can tell this sort of nastiness doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world except for Islamist-influenced areas

    s/doesn’t exist/is nowhere near as prevalent/g

    Religious wackos exist in isolated pockets everywhere. Religious wackos with strong political influence are pretty rare in First World society.

  17. >I think I would have a lot more respect for the American protestant-conservative-individualists if they weren’t as a group so actively engaged in puritanism, racism, and science denial.

    It’s really not just to accuse cultural conservatives as a group of racism any more. I admit I used to slam them that way myself, and I’ll still kick them in the slats over the creationism and puritanism and all their ugly religious fixations. But the last thirty years have made a difference; you can watch red-meat sites like Free Republic and WorldNet Daily for weeks at a time and not see even coded race-baiting of the kind I remember quite clearly from decades past.

    Accusing them of racism no longer helps left-liberals either. The use of “racism!” as a rhetorical club has become too reflexive and too obvious even as the actual phenomenon has declined. One reason I wish lefties would stop doing it is that the falseness of the accusation actually gives cultural conservatives an advantage, a righteous claim on the moral high ground, that I would prefer they not have. I don’t think they’ll use that advantage in any way that either you or I would enjoy.

  18. > I’ll still kick them in the slats over … all their ugly religious fixations.

    These are signifiers that allow them to distinguish insiders from outsiders. These may or not mask underlying racism and/or sexism, but at the end of the day, it really shouldn’t matter.

    I don’t think most cultural liberals actually use “racism” to describe things that clearly aren’t racist, but as you point out, it would be extremely beneficial to stop using the word to describe things that aren’t clearly racist.

    Unfortunately, this is quite difficult, because we don’t appear to have other words that sting as much. To the extent that the “racist” or “sexist” labels are overused, it is because they derive significant power from being the only “-ist” labels that nobody wants used to describe themselves, while in some quarters, it’s still actually quite fashionable to be homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, etc.

    So, in one sense, you can see this as a past triumph of cultural liberalism to make people actually care about being tarred with these labels. But now, we have to move on and somehow make people care about engaging in these other destructive behaviors.

    Unfortunately, there is work to be done across the political spectrum on this. We need to convince some religious fundamentalists that it’s OK for two guys to be in love, convince some overlapping subset of religious fundamentalists that it’s OK for others to have a different religion, and convince a hell of a lot of liberals that no, all cultures are not equally deserving of admiration.

    Sometimes it seems that too many on the right are too intolerant of tolerance, and too many on the left are too tolerant of intolerance (at least as long as that intolerance is from a different culture than the one they grew up in).

  19. As someone who hadn’t seriously been following politics until around 2006 or so, I have never really noticed that conservatives are overtly racist. There may be some within the conservative movement who have their own private struggle with racism, but if so, they have done a good job of confronting the issue and controlling it, and I think they deserve more positive feedback for their efforts than perhaps they have received. There may be a few racist conservatives, but these people do not represent the “face” of conservative thought as I see it.

    On the other hand, I have roughly the same remarks about accusations of racism from liberals– it’s just a few loonies who no one takes seriously anyway. Then again, my own liberal leanings may be coloring my view somewhat.

  20. It’s not that conservatives are racists and liberals fight racism. Most Americans are centrists and resist both extremes, but the nation as a whole has changed over the years. As I lived my life (I’m 64), I’ve watched it change. You can always find someone with the old attitudes to confirm your own predjudices, but, on the whole, it just ain’t true. Mainstream Americans just don’t believe the old stories they used to tell about blacks, and generally don’t tell them any more.

  21. Jeff,

    Science denial is orthogonal to politics. Every political persuasion denies science, they just pick different parts to deny.

    Puritanism also is orthogonal to politics. Political correctness, practiced by liberals, is an attempt to be pure – puritanism. Similarly, environmentalism is particularly puritan. But the most puritan contemporary American practice is anti-smoking fervor. It’s quite rabid. Why must I greet half a dozen smokers forced out into the hot, cold, windy and wet every time I enter or leave the office? It’s part of American health puritanism, which stigmatizes smokers, drinkers, the over-weight and the out of shape.

    And racism? Well, it’s been replaced with all kinds of acceptable bigotry. The most common is political bigotry. Sometimes it is focused on individuals leading to Reagan / Clinton / Bush / Palin / Obama Derangement Syndrome.

    These habits of humanity are every bit as common among liberals, leftists, progressives, social conservatives, fiscal conservatives, libertarians and anarcho-capitialists, to pick some labels, not quite at random. Welcome to the club.

    Yours,
    Tom

  22. > It’s not that conservatives are racists and liberals fight racism.

    No, I’ve seen plenty of liberal racists, and plenty of unracist conservatives.

    But there’s a good case to be made that, at least in the south, LBJ’s championing of civil rights helped to turn a lot of democrats into republicans.

  23. @Tom DeGisi:

    Sorry, but the negative externalities associated with smoking are large enough, and enough smokers were discourteous enough, that I find keeping the smoke out of offices well worth any pseudo-libertarian contempt. Trust me, if there were true anarchy as some here sometimes advocate, I would have left a long trail of dead smokers in my wake by now.

  24. > Sorry, but the negative externalities associated with smoking are large enough, and enough smokers were discourteous enough, that I find keeping the smoke out of offices well worth any pseudo-libertarian contempt.

    No they aren’t.

    > Trust me, if there were true anarchy as some here sometimes advocate, I would have left a long trail of dead smokers in my wake by now.

    Not in front of me. :)

    Yours,
    Tom

  25. >I find keeping the smoke out of offices well worth any pseudo-libertarian contempt

    I loathe second-hand smoke myself and benefit directly from these laws. But I oppose them anyway. The real issue isn’t the merits of smoking, it’s interference with the property-owner’s freedom to choose whether to ban smoking or not.

  26. > the negative externalities associated with smoking are large enough, and enough smokers were discourteous enough

    The negative externalities associated with driving are larger, and American drivers (like all others) are plenty discourteous. But most of us don’t therefore decide to be bigoted against people who drive cars. Well, excepting some environmentalists. I suppose this could be because the positive externalities associated with driving are much larger than the positive externalities associated with smoking.

    I also, as an asthmatic, benefit directly from these laws, but I still regard them as bigotry.

    Yours,
    Tom

  27. @Tom:

    Trust me, if there were true anarchy as some here sometimes advocate, I would have left a long trail of dead smokers in my wake by now.

    Not in front of me. :)

    You’d be surprised. I was forced to ride in a car with a pipe-smoking dad who wouldn’t let me roll the windows down. There is a lot of barely suppressed rage there.

    The negative externalities associated with driving are larger…

    I think the best studies on second hand smoke put the attributable deaths at approximately 10x the deaths due to car accidents.

    I also, as an asthmatic, benefit directly from these laws, but I still regard them as bigotry.

    Well, that’s bullshit. They may be nanny-state, but they’re certainly not bigoted.

    @esr:

    I loathe second-hand smoke myself and benefit directly from these laws. But I oppose them anyway. The real issue isn’t the merits of smoking, it’s interference with the property-owner’s freedom to choose whether to ban smoking or not.

    Sure, from a pure libertarian perspective the laws are wrong, but are actually much less wrong than other employment regulations. The tobacco cartel is quite powerful. It amazes me that OSHA regulates every other noxious substance, but never managed to directly regulate cigarette smoke.

    It would be interesting to remove smoking laws from where they have been in place, and see where the equilibrium resets to. I’m actually a fan of truth-in-labeling laws, so I’d be happy to see a law that if a business wants to allow smoking, it needs to have a big red sign out front saying that the premises are not smoke-free, and I’d like to see continued real enforcement (not a nudge and a wink) of anybody who smokes inside where there isn’t a sign.

  28. > There is a lot of barely suppressed rage there.

    My preferred methods of harnessing violence don’t require rage. Would you be surprised?

    > I think the best studies on second hand smoke put the attributable deaths at approximately 10x the deaths due to car accidents.

    I don’t. I think second hand smoke studies are about as reliable as global warming studies.

    > Well, that’s bullshit. They may be nanny-state, but they’re certainly not bigoted.

    You’re dead wrong. Smokers are demonized far beyond the evil they do.

    Yours,
    Tom

  29. > I don’t. I think second hand smoke studies are about as reliable as global warming studies.

    I think they’re considerably better. In any case, to the extent that bad, politicized science is happening on tobacco, the tobacco companies have only themselves to blame.

  30. > It would be interesting to remove smoking laws from where they have been in place, and see where the equilibrium resets to. I’m actually a fan of truth-in-labeling laws, so I’d be happy to see a law that if a business wants to allow smoking, it needs to have a big red sign out front saying that the premises are not smoke-free, and I’d like to see continued real enforcement (not a nudge and a wink) of anybody who smokes inside where there isn’t a sign.

    This is much better than what we have now in Kansas.

    Yours,
    Tom

  31. >I’d be happy to see a law that if a business wants to allow smoking, it needs to have a big red sign out front saying that the premises are not smoke-free, and I’d like to see continued real enforcement (not a nudge and a wink) of anybody who smokes inside where there isn’t a sign.

    I could live with that.

  32. > You’re dead wrong. Smokers are demonized far beyond the evil they do.

    I suppose it’s like Muslims, a small subset of whom are terrorists.

    With smokers, I suppose if I agree, for the sake of argument, that it’s a small subset who start grass fires, leave butts on my lawn, and blow smoke in my face (watch smokers very carefully — they always instinctively hold the cigarette so that no smoke gets in their eyes…), then the only real difference between smoker terrorists and Muslim terrorists is that I’m not really all that likely to encounter a Muslim terrorist.

    In any case, I will agree, e.g. that I am bigoted against smokers, even though, as they say, “some of my best friends are smokers.” Having said that, I think the laws which regulate the behavior of smoking are no more bigoted than any other of a myriad number of behavior regulating laws that you probably wouldn’t apply that particular label to.

  33. I think the current laws about this are justified by drawing parallels between smoking and public intoxication. Public intoxication is illegal (in most states) because it puts others at risk of injury from your own unpredictable behavior. Public smoking puts others at risk for health problems due to the second-hand smoke. I personally don’t think this analogy is very good, but that’s where it comes from.

    Interestingly (I did not know this until just now,) the Constitution prohibits the federal government from regulating public drunkenness, reserving that power to the states. If the analogy between public smoking and public intoxication is really strong enough to support legislation, then the resulting legislation is unconstitutional by analogy. Or something.

    My opinion: smoking is very, very bad manners. While it isn’t criminal, it is grounds for being politely asked to leave.

  34. Well, the anti-smoking juggernaut will not be appeased. The trustees of the village where I live (pop. 3500) have passed an ordinance prohibiting smoking OUTDOORS, on the main business street…and I thought that *I* had delusions of grandeur….

  35. I am about as rabid an anti-smoker as you will find. Even smoking outside can be a problem, because in some situations you just can’t escape the smoker.

    The situation that makes me the most angry: at workplaces that won’t let employees smoke inside, they often congregate *just* outside the entrance, where you can’t escape walking when you need to enter or exit the building.

    A little politeness (smoking 20-30 feet off to the side) would go a long way, but it’s rarely found. Is there something about smoking that kills empathy, or are people with little empathy more likely to smoke?

  36. > Is there something about smoking that kills empathy, or are people with little empathy more likely to smoke?
    Maybe both. Certainly, it’s fair to say that smoking can be associated with an inability to think through the consequences of one’s actions, followed by an ability to ignore the exhortations of just about every medical expert there is.

    So maybe they are just demonstrating the same traits: they haven’t anticipated how much of a nuisance they are making of themselves because they haven’t thought things through, and then they ignore the exhortations of just about every olfactory expert within range.

    The addiction’s ability to interfere with sound judgment probably has something to do with it too.

    To be fair, there are a lot of smokers who do have good manners about it. You never see (or smell) them, by definition.

  37. @Max E
    “smoking is very, very bad manners. While it isn’t criminal, it is grounds for being politely asked to leave.”

    I normally compare smoking in company with peeing a the common swimming pool. Except that smoking is worse for your health.

  38. @Tom DeGisi
    “You’re dead wrong. Smokers are demonized far beyond the evil they do.”

    As are all recreational drug users. Or anyone else having fun for that matter, eg, gamblers.

    But I hate smoke. If someone smokes in my neighborhood, my clothes stink and it pollutes my air.

    And with regards to numbers on second hand smoke. If you inhale carcinogens, and ALL smoke from burning organic substances contains carcinogens, it harms your health. We can haggle about the practical consequences (exactly how much carcinogens are “consumed”), but it is unhealthy to inhale tobacco smoke, any tobacco smoke. But that is relatively easy to test. Just measure metabolites in urine or tobacco.

  39. Having said that, I think the laws which regulate the behavior of smoking are no more bigoted than any other of a myriad number of behavior regulating laws that you probably wouldn’t apply that particular label to.

    One thing that might help the discussion is to remember that smoking laws are particular to each state, and different states have different laws regarding smoking. In Michigan, they still allow smoking in restaurants and bars; in Florida, all smoking in restaurants or even bars where food is sold is totally banned, and they’ve banned smoking on hospital grounds.

    As far as the laws being bigotted, well, one thing to consider is that most smokers are either low-income individuals or people who were formerly low-income individuals. In the places where I work now and have worked in the past, for example, there is a far higher of incidence of smoking among the factory workers than among the office personnel and office personnel who were former factory workers are more likely to be smokers than those who had always been office workers. Draw what conclusions you’d like from that, but independent studies correlate with my admittedly semi-scientific observances.

  40. Shenpen,

    I am not so sure about Israel being truly “Western”. It has a culture that’s very different from the assimilated-Jewish culture in Europe & America, it is much more Eastern, “mizrahi”, I mean, for example, this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlIJOAZ1pak reminds much more of some kind of “Arabian Nights” than the culture of Einstein, Woody Allen, Barbra Streisand or Ludwig von Mises.

    From my impression, it seems that Israel has a mixture of many cultures, and embodies many elements. In Israel, Jews that originated from various Jewries or are born of children thereof, are often proud of their heritage, or are even encouraged to research their heritage, And there’s a lot of both western, mid-eastern and to a much lesser extent Latin American, far eastern, sub-Saharan African, etc. influences.

    Nevertheless, Israel aims at being a “democratic” country – more like a liberal one and to respect individual rights and freedoms and (to a lesser extent, unfortunately) also freedom of economy and commerce. As such, while it may not be a 100% western country, then similar to non-Western liberal countries, such as Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, South Africa (.za), India, Brazil, etc. it should play by the rules of liberalism (John Locke, American Revolutionaries, etc.) and Capitalism.

    I should note that I’ve noticed a lot of variation even within “western” culture in my visits to Europe or North America and my interactions with westerners on the Internet, even within the same country. For example, the people in Charlotte in Carolina were much more friendly and hospitable than those in Maryland (and my mother told me that the people in Dallas, where my family had lived for a while when I had been very young, had been much nicer). I also think that societies, like people, can change and often for the better. For example, Frenchmen used to avoid answering tourists who only knew English, due to elitism, and now many of them (possibly not all) would gladly answer in English. I was told Germans still often won’t even if they have good or very good English.

    East, West, Middle – we’re all people after all, and the individual is the most important cause, not their collective. Hopefully, we can all learn to work along, learn to cope with one another’s faults, appreciate other people’s strengths, and learn to like and possibly love one another. To quote Monty Python from “Life of Brian”, “we must be united against our common enemy”, and human kind’s common enemy is what “Neo-Tech” calls “Mysticism”, which it identifies as the cause of most evil. And we should all strive to fight it from within and without.

    Sorry for the long response.

  41. Oh, I mentioned “Neo-Tech” there and I should note that while reading one of their books has heavily inspired me and given me a lot of food for thought, I have some reservations about their presentation and many of their conclusions or “labelings”. While I consider myself an Objectivist/Libertarian as a whole, I still disagree with many things Ayn Rand and even Neo-Tech said, and I now think that Objectivism is not the end-all and be-all in philosophy, but rather a stepping stone in the road to future enlightenment, just like Stoicism or the works of Artistotle, or various religious or ethnic teachings or whatever proved to evolve into newer philosophies.

    So I think we can agree that there’s a certain set of epistemological errors that cause death, destruction of property, or other suffering, which we can call “mysticism” (or maybe “roots-of-evil”) and follow that.

  42. “I should note that I’ve noticed a lot of variation even within ‘western’ culture in my visits to Europe or North America and my interactions with westerners on the Internet, even within the same country.”

    Part of the power of Western culture comes from its syncretism. It has been most successful where it has taken the best of other cultures and incorporated them. When you start with a solid base of 19th century liberalism (not to be confused with what came to be called liberalism in the 20th century) and democratic ideals, you are able to extend and grow.

    Classic example: The Jesuits were highly successful at introducing Catholicism to China by incorporating ideas of ancestor veneration. When the Vatican ordered them to stop, the religion lost most of the gains that had been made. Western culture is at its worst when it takes a narrow-minded my-way-or-the-highway position; fortunately, groups that do that tend to be weeded out by cultural natural selection over time.

  43. > LBJ’s championing of civil rights helped to turn a lot of democrats into republicans.

    Not at all.

    LBJ left office in 68. The Dem’s lock on elective office in the south didn’t start to crack until the late 70s and early 80s.

    With one exception, all of the segregationist Dems retired as Dems in good standing. They weren’t defeated in primaries or by Repubs.

    Oh, and LBJ’s civil rights legislation passed because of Repubs, not Dems. Look at the vote totals in the House and Senate. The vast majority of the opposition was Dem. (Yes, Goldwater voted against one of the civil rights acts.)

  44. > think the best studies on second hand smoke put the attributable deaths at approximately 10x the deaths due to car accidents.

    Even if true, that’s not all that relevant.

    People die. They aren’t obligated to live as long as possible.

    In fact, smoking and obesity are both public health benefits.

    From http://medicine.plosjournals.org/archive/1549-1676/5/2/pdf/10.1371_journal.pmed.0050029-L.pdf .

    “With a simulation model, lifetime health-care costs were estimated for a cohort of obese
    people aged 20 y at baseline. To assess the impact of obesity, comparisons were made with
    similar cohorts of smokers and ‘‘healthy-living’’ persons (defined as nonsmokers with a body
    mass index between 18.5 and 25). Except for relative risk values, all input parameters of the
    simulation model were based on data from The Netherlands. In sensitivity analyses the effects
    of epidemiologic parameters and cost definitions were assessed. Until age 56 y, annual health
    expenditure was highest for obese people. At older ages, smokers incurred higher costs.
    Because of differences in life expectancy, however, lifetime health expenditure was highest
    among healthy-living people and lowest for smokers. Obese individuals held an intermediate
    position. Alternative values of epidemiologic parameters and cost definitions did not alter these
    conclusions.”

  45. >(Yes, Goldwater voted against one of the civil rights acts.)

    Important note: It was because he opposed Federal overreach into state and local matters. Goldwater was no bigot, and it is clear from his remarks to friends and allies that opposition was not an easy decision for him.

  46. > LBJ left office in 68. The Dem’s lock on elective office in the south didn’t start to crack until the late 70s and early 80s.

    A lot of the south voted for Kennedy/LBJ. Then, in 64, when the entire rest of the country thought LBJ was fine, a lot of the south voted against him, coincidentally right after the civil rights act was passed. In 68, a lot of the south voted for independent Wallace, a segregationist almost-democrat, and by 72, the entire country was voting republican for president. Of course, Nixon managed to reverse that, but Carter didn’t recover that fumble very well.

    In a lot of states in the south, the electorate went republican in national elections well before it did local elections, and republican for the president well before it did for the congress, perhaps because (as you point out) it remembered that the republican congress helped the democrat president in this. But a lot of southern politicians know how to signal their intentions at least a bit more subtly than David Duke, so the republican congress got forgiven a lot sooner than the democrat president.

    I know for a fact that in a lot of places in the south “Civil Rights Act” is synonymous with “LBJ”, and congress doesn’t enter into it in people’s recollections.

    Politics make strange bedfellows. I think in some states in the south, it may be that candidates from both parties are equally racist, but the party in power is the one that can signal it the best, and the republican party has a little bit of a leg up, because their president didn’t sign the Civil Rights Act.

  47. @Andy Freeman:

    think the best studies on second hand smoke put the attributable deaths at approximately 10x the deaths due to car accidents.

    Even if true, that’s not all that relevant.

    People die. They aren’t obligated to live as long as possible.

    Yes, but what if they want to? We’re not talking about the smokers — we’re discussing the involuntary second hand smokers.

    In fact, smoking and obesity are both public health benefits.

    So all of a sudden you’re a liberal now? What happened, did you get appointed to one of the “death panels”?

    Sorry, I would like to live a long and healthy life, and that goal is enhanced by a reduction in the amount of second hand smoke I breathe. Maybe we should make smokers wear diver’s helmets, so they get all the smoke. That should drop their life expectancy even more, saving even more money.

  48. @Morgan:

    As far as the laws being bigoted, well, one thing to consider is that most smokers are either low-income individuals or people who were formerly low-income individuals. In the places where I work now and have worked in the past, for example, there is a far higher of incidence of smoking among the factory workers than among the office personnel and office personnel who were former factory workers are more likely to be smokers than those who had always been office workers. Draw what conclusions you’d like from that, but independent studies correlate with my admittedly semi-scientific observances.

    As others have pointed out, smoking is usually a bad decision, and, statistically, individuals who make bad decisions tend to make other bad decisions, such as decisions of the kind which would relegate them to lower paying jobs. But the workforce is quite mobile, and there are a lot of factory workers who don’t really have any other good options, so the conclusion I draw is that laws which regulate smoking actually help lower-paid non-smokers a lot more than they help higher-paid non-smokers.

  49. >I know for a fact that in a lot of places in the south “Civil Rights Act” is synonymous with “LBJ”, and congress doesn’t enter
    >into it in people’s recollections.

    Are we talking about the same LBJ?

    “…LBJ biographer Robert Caro notes that prior to 1957, Johnson “had never supported civil rights legislation—any civil rights legislation,” including anti-lynching legislation. His private behavior toward blacks was appalling. Robert Parker, LBJ’s longtime black employee and limousine chauffeur, claims that Johsnon blasted him daily with a blizzard of bigoted slurs. And even as LBJ was being praised by liberals for his appointment of Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court, behind closed doors LBJ’s cynical brand of “identity politics” became clear. As presidential historian Robert Dallek recounts, LBJ explained his decision to a staff member by saying, “”Son, when I appoint a nigger to the court, I want everyone to know he’s a nigger.”

    “I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.” — Lyndon B. Johnson to two governors on Air Force One Ronald Kessler’s “Inside The White House”

    “These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.” — LBJ

    THAT LBJ? Just because belief in a lie is widespread, doesn’t make it the truth.

  50. I know for a fact that in a lot of places in the south “Civil Rights Act” is synonymous with “LBJ”, and congress doesn’t enter
    >into it in people’s recollections.

    THAT LBJ? Just because belief in a lie is widespread, doesn’t make it the truth.

    So, are you trying to claim that LBJ didn’t work hard to help push the Civil Rights Act through Congress? Because that assertion would be, you know, a lie.

  51. Hey that’s the guy you said was a champion of civil rights. Just presenting some under-reported contradicting facts.

    Yeah there’s a difference between championing civil rights, and pushing through a Civil Rights Act. One is exactly the sort of thing a cynical, racist, statist bastard might do. You can figure out which. (And as an aside, IIRC said Act was filibustered TWICE, both times by vilely racist but never-repudiated, lifelong, champion-of-the-party Democrats- Thurmond and Byrd.)

    That same civil rights champion was also big on “fighting poverty”. Looking at THAT cf might tell you something, as well. The net effect (and I do believe it was intentional) of the so-called “war on poverty” was to get the blacks back on the plantation (after a manner of speaking) – and NOT voting Republican. At the cost of billions (trillions, now) of dollars and much to the detriment of those reintroduced to dependency, in the name of “compassion”.

  52. @Greg:

    Hey that’s the guy you said was a champion of civil rights. Just presenting some under-reported contradicting facts.

    No you aren’t. FWIW, the rest of your post is trying to completely change the subject. There is no doubt that LBJ was an opportunistic bastard, but if you don’t understand the background of where LBJ grew up and how it influenced him, and how similar backgrounds influenced people around LBJ and the way he communicated with them, you have no business plucking random quotes from thin air. In any case, if you think that you can’t simultaneously be racist and believe in civil rights, and/or if you don’t believe people can change in that respect, you’re an idiot.

    If you research all the work that LBJ put into getting something passed as early as 1957 (and not the Glenn Beck version), you might start to realize that he was actually serious about civil rights. He actually had to be a little two-faced about it, because most of his own Texas constituents didn’t believe in any of that.

    I grew up in Texas, and my own father was using the N word well into the 70s.

  53. @Patrick: Clearly you have some personal investment in this topic. I never brought up any of the historical evidence that the Democratic party is the party of racism- North, South, 19th Century or 20th- I will not say that all Democrats are racists, but it *cannot* be coincidence that when you see a politician who is demonstrably racist, he’s a (D). Not to mention that the party platform is *built* on racism (identity/grievance politics, anyone?), and that the party promotes racism because it *needs* it to survive. Also, I was amazed at your claim that evidence of Democratic racism is somehow proof that Republicans are more racist- more than a bit like a conspiracy theorist who uses lack of evidence of a conspiracy as proof of a conspiracy. But you were there, I was not, and while anecdotes are not data there is little point in telling a person that he never saw what he, in fact, saw.

    But LBJ is fair game. While there is no disputing the fact that he exerted personal effort to pass the Civil Rights Act, mainly over the opposition of his own party (yep (R)’s are more racist), you *can* always dispute motivation. While we can never know for certain what was in the man’s heart, we can look for evidence elsewhere as to whether he was a civil rights crusader or a horrible cynical manipulator. Which is NOT changing the subject. When ever the man’s biographer, the respected Pulitzer Prize-winning Robert Caro has things like this “Johnson’s ambition was uncommon—in the degree to which it was unencumbered by even the slightest excess weight of ideology, of philosophy, of principles, of beliefs.” to say about the man, I have trouble accepting the premise that he would exert personal effort to do *anything* that didn’t increase his own power of that of his party.

    And as to calling me an idiot because I don’t accept that LBJ was a civil rights champion- what in bleeding hell do you call the Gun Control Act of 1968? Are you aware of the Jim Crow roots of gun control? Of the history of gun control in the South, and the effects it had? Johnson very well should have. And one of his last major acts was to pass MAJOR GUN CONTROL LEGISLATION? You go on believing that LBJ was serious about civil rights, everyone is entitled to an opinion.

  54. > Clearly you have some personal investment in this topic.

    “not liking distortions of what I said” != “personal investment in topic”

    > it *cannot* be coincidence that when you see a politician who is demonstrably racist, he’s a (D).

    In general, it used to be that when you saw a politician who was overtly racist, he was from the south, and that all viable politicians from the south were Democrats. Then for awhile, most viable politicians from the south were Republicans, as were most overtly racist politicians (e.g. David Duke). At this point it time, it is more difficult for a politician to be overtly racist, but racism is somewhat orthogonal to party lines. But if you had carefully read what I previously wrote, you would realize that this is just a restatement of what I already said.

    > I was amazed at your claim that evidence of Democratic racism is somehow proof that Republicans are more racist- more than a bit like a conspiracy theorist who uses lack of evidence of a conspiracy as proof of a conspiracy.

    There’s a distortion. I never claimed or even tried to intimate this. There are different categories of racists. Some of them will cynically use the Democratic party, as you point out, but some of them mentally strongly associate the civil rights act with LBJ and thus with democrats, and vote accordingly. It works both ways — there are black racists who hate whitey but who think LBJ is a good guy who will always vote Democratic. Your dismissal of my thoughts because you want to think they are solely anecdote-based speaks to an apparent need to see the world in black and white. I have never seen it that way, and never attempt to communicate as if I do.

    > you *can* always dispute motivation.

    And I never said anything about motivation. I just said he championed the civil rights act. So dispute away.

    > We can look for evidence elsewhere as to whether he was a civil rights crusader or a horrible cynical manipulator. Which is NOT changing the subject.

    Sure it is. I was talking about one particular accomplishment of LBJ and how that shapes peoples’ perceptions today. Now, if you want to alter how it shapes peoples’ perceptions, then motivation is relevant. But it’s not at all relevant when it comes to attempting to alter my personal perceptions of other peoples’ perceptions…

    > And as to calling me an idiot because I don’t accept that LBJ was a civil rights champion…

    There you go again with the distortion — I only said that you’re an idiot if you (a) think that someone can’t simultaneously be racist and believe in civil rights, or (b) if you don’t believe people can change. But if you’re claiming that I called you an idiot, then I guess I know how you stand.

    > what in bleeding hell do you call the Gun Control Act of 1968? Are you aware of the Jim Crow roots of gun control?

    There’s no question that LBJ believed in the nanny-state. But it should have been obvious to just about anybody several posts ago (in fact, judging by the responses from other commenters, was obvious to everybody except you), that I was discussing civil rights in the context of ensuring that (outside of government actors) everybody has all the same civil rights as everybody else, and not in the context of exactly how many or which civil rights the average man has.

    > You go on believing that LBJ was serious about civil rights, everyone is entitled to an opinion.

    LBJ could easily have not bothered with civil rights in either 57 or 64. Maybe it was solely opportunistic, but that doesn’t really make sense in 57, because a lot of his constituency was quite racist. (It might make some sense flexing his congressional muscle, and/or coalescing his national power, but even in that case you have to grant him a lot of forethought.) In 64, obviously, his constituency was the whole country, and passing that legislation probably helped his reelection a lot. In any case, as I already said (and I’m letting you call yourself an idiot or not, because I don’t know you) “if you think that [a person] can’t simultaneously be racist and believe in civil rights … you’re an idiot.”

    I know a lot of people who are racist to one degree or another by just about anybody’s definition (no kafkatraps required), and almost all of them will quite readily admit that it would be unjust and immoral to grant one race fewer rights than another, never mind to enslave them.

  55. BTW, on political parties and perceptions, one of the reasons that the democratic party is widely perceived to be less racist is that the imposition of the nanny state, with all its prescriptive behaviors, makes it more difficult to signal whether you are or are not racist in many contexts.

    Conversely, opposition to the nanny state can then be perceived as racism. For example if you say “I have the freedom to choose who I associate with,” many will perceive that the only reason you said that is that there is some race or sex that you don’t want to associate with.

    This gets truly perverse in someplace like Chicago, when some little old lady wants to rent out one of the rooms in her house to a quiet girl, and then she winds up paying thousands to some lawyer because of the ad she placed in the paper.

  56. “There’s no question that LBJ believed in the nanny-state. But it should have been obvious to just about anybody several posts ago (in fact, judging by the responses from other commenters, was obvious to everybody except you), that I was discussing civil rights in the context of ensuring that (outside of government actors) everybody has all the same civil rights as everybody else, and not in the context of exactly how many or which civil rights the average man has.”

    Are you listening to yourself? This is the way you describe someone who cares about civil rights, and mean it as a supporting argument? If that’s the most sense you can make… (Let me drop a hint- the old joke that goes “Q: How does the ACLU count to 10? A: 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10″ *isn’t* meant as a compliment for the ACLU. It’s even worse, MUCH worse, for a Southern politician with any education at all.)

  57. >Q: How does the ACLU count to 10? A: 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

    ROFL.

    This joke is incorrect. It should leave the 10th Amendment out as well as the 2nd.

  58. Are you listening to yourself? Are you listening to yourself? This is the way you describe someone who cares about civil rights, and mean it as a supporting argument?

    Look, it really was obvious to everybody else what I was discussing. But, if you insist, I will change “LBJ’s championing of civil rights” into “LBJ’s championing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”

    I would hope that would clear things up, but it probably still won’t make you happy, because in your very first post on the subject, you quoted like this:

    I know for a fact that in a lot of places in the south “Civil Rights Act” is synonymous with “LBJ”, and congress doesn’t enter into it in people’s recollections.

    Are we talking about the same LBJ?

    And in answer to that question, yes we are talking about the same LBJ, and you seemed to indicate that long ago that you understood that “civil rights” in this particular context was related to the Civil Rights act. So you can certainly keep insulting me to assuage your ego, but I have to ask if you’re really listening to yourself or not.

    With 20/20 hindsight, no sane person could question that blacks were still being mistreated in many places in the south in 1964, with direct state government involvement or complicity. There are difficult, legitimate questions about whether legislation like the Civil Rights Act was the right way to approach it (that obviously helped to open Pandora’s box for federal interference in some ways, but where and how do you draw the line? Should states be allowed to have slavery?), and you can certainly question the motives of LBJ in passing said legislation. But the question I have for you is: Do you really, honestly, believe that it is completely impossible for somebody to want to do the right thing and completely fuck it up? Do you even know what Hanlon’s Razor is?

    You mentioned to me earlier that “Clearly you have some personal investment in this topic.” That seems to be some serious projection. I mean, your worldview seems to be that you have to prove that LBJ never ever wanted to do the right thing even once and that I’m completely stupid. Apparently, nothing I can write will dissuade you from either of those views, so I’m done.

  59. > I mean, your worldview seems to be that you have to prove that LBJ never ever wanted to do the right thing even once and that I’m completely stupid.

    Or he could just be angry, Patrick, and determined to win an argument because of that. Being angry is not a worldview.

    Yours,
    Tom

  60. > Being angry is not a worldview.

    Perhaps not. But I certainly find that whether I’m angry or happy or sad colors my worldview.

  61. It seems I have to get remedial. Either I’ve been vague, elliptical, unclear, or something… dunno.

    “And in answer to that question, yes we are talking about the same LBJ, and you seemed to indicate that long ago that you understood that “civil rights” in this particular context was related to the Civil Rights act.”

    Um, no. Precisely the one point I’ve been trying to make is that one can use all one’s influence and knowledge of procedural tricks to pass a Civil Rights Act, and not be a supporter of actual civil rights (which is precisely why I make mention of another civil right LBJ knowingly crapped on).

    @Patrick: You suggested that LBJ was linked in memory with the CRA. With the implication that he was, for that reason, remembered as a civil rights hero. Which (LBJ == civil rights hero) is the original lie I entered this thread to dispute. To that end, you might say I slandered the great man. Actually, I just posted some things that indicated he might not be such a great civil rights champion- and that him being linked in memory with the CRA might have a different interpretation to those of us who really look at the man.

    @Tom: Who’s angry? I’ve been going out of my way to be as nice as possible to Patrick from the beginning. (You’ll note I have *never* come near the obvious retort to a man who was willing to insult me over not making sufficient allowance for the good intentions of racists.) I’m a little new here, but FWIW I like him. I suspect his background may have led him to swallow a Big Lie or two without realizing it, however.

  62. @Greg:

    Um, no. Precisely the one point I’ve been trying to make is that one can use all one’s influence and knowledge of procedural tricks to pass a Civil Rights Act, and not be a supporter of actual civil rights (which is precisely why I make mention of another civil right LBJ knowingly crapped on).

    I’m sure that’s true. And it may be that everything LBJ did was completely cynical, but on the weight of the evidence, I think he believed that blacks shouldn’t be treated worse than whites, and that they were being treated worse than whites, and that somebody ought to do something about it. Lots of politicians, lacking your clarity of thought, might actually not realize that a nanny state is incompatible with maximum natural rights. This happens to this very day. If you cynically believe that there is a conspiracy against civil rights in some of those quarters where no such conspiracy exists, you will merely help to create one, and if you superciliously believe that a lack of understanding of what natural rights are among people who understand those implicitly, you will not help to win any converts.

    Most people equate “civil rights” with those sorts of things that the equal protection clause should ensure. It does no good to argue with them about the second amendment being a civil right — instead, you should argue that the second amendment is a recognition by our very constitution that the natural right of self-defense is imperative to help us keep the government from taking away our civil rights.

    Educating “liberals” certainly won’t be helped by your explanation that they hate civil rights. Yet you persist in educating even me, on things I know quite well. I can’t imagine how you’d do with a true blue New York liberal.

    You suggested that LBJ was linked in memory with the CRA. With the implication that he was, for that reason, remembered as a civil rights hero.

    Absolutely. That was and remains my main point. Are you disputing this?

    Which (LBJ == civil rights hero) is the original lie I entered this thread to dispute.

    No, I thought not. You can’t dispute the perception, because it exists. I didn’t make what you call the original lie; I was merely reporting on it.

    The rest of it is practically window dressing. As I already said, how he is remembered is not necessarily how things were. That being said, I still haven’t seen any hard evidence that he was cynical in the passing of this particular legislation, and the fact he was working on this kind of legislation in 57 leads me to believe that he really believed in it. To that end, I explained that I firmly believe people can be racist and also believe that people should be treated identically.

    But nobody here has argued that LBJ was an angel, or that he didn’t believe in the nanny state, or even that the nanny state doesn’t, by definition, imply a loss of civil rights in general. In short, you set up a strawman on your first post, and you’ve been hitting it hard on every post since. It’s quite scattered by now.

    you might say I slandered the great man.

    I don’t think you’ve necessarily said anything that wasn’t true about LBJ. Some of it’s not falsifiable any more, him being dead and all, but I don’t have a dog in that hunt.

    I’ve been going out of my way to be as nice as possible to Patrick from the beginning. (You’ll note I have *never* come near the obvious retort to a man who was willing to insult me over not making sufficient allowance for the good intentions of racists.)

    Aw, c’mon. Neither one of us has really been terrible, but your first post was designed to wind me up, and if you think I insulted you, then seriously, either you didn’t read carefully, or at a minimum, you harbor some internal prejudices that will NOT stand you in good stead if you are arguing against someone who doesn’t share most of your beliefs.

    I suspect his background may have led him to swallow a Big Lie or two without realizing it, however.

    For instance? (I always like to know what I should reexamine.)

  63. “No, I thought not. You can’t dispute the perception, because it exists. I didn’t make what you call the original lie; I was merely reporting on it.”

    Come on now, I can’t believe after all this time you don’t get it. I’m not disputing the perception exists, I’m disputing the perception is ACCURATE. Thus my comment about how a widely believed lie is still a lie. (Um, do you think I was saying *you* were lying? That would explain your huffiness.) Make more sense now?

    “Most people equate “civil rights” with those sorts of things that the equal protection clause should ensure. It does no good to argue with them about the second amendment being a civil right — instead, you should argue that the second amendment is a recognition by our very constitution that the natural right of self-defense is imperative to help us keep the government from taking away our civil rights.”

    No. (Note, I’m not arguing with people, I’m arguing with you.) Which is why I keep harping on the fact that a Southerner (like you, like LBJ) should know better. The 2nd Amendment is a civil right of life and death importance, every day in a real sense- even more so then. When you have thugs and murderers burning churches and murdering people for no good reason, the ability to defend yourself is everything. Which was exactly why gun control was enacted in the first place, to make the world safe for cross-burners and lynchers. You should *know* this.

    “Educating “liberals” certainly won’t be helped by your explanation that they hate civil rights. Yet you persist in educating even me, on things I know quite well. I can’t imagine how you’d do with a true blue New York liberal.”

    By that argument, you’re a liberal. I’m not trying to educate the general public, just make a factual assertion and then back it up, in the comments of a blog whose readership is unusually intelligent and well-informed. As to that NY liberal thing, you just gave me my best laugh of the day so far. (Elena Kagan went to my high school. Figure it out.)

    “For instance? (I always like to know what I should reexamine.)”

    How about, that the Democrat party isn’t the party of institutionalized racism. That it fights racism, rather than embracing and spreading it.

    There are more like sins of omissions- that gun control wasn’t a deliberate effort to circumvent the 14th Amendment, and welfare programs aren’t a way to partially undo the 13th (the latter may not have been deliberate).

  64. Come on now, I can’t believe after all this time you don’t get it. I’m not disputing the perception exists, I’m disputing the perception is ACCURATE.

    Well, you’re not doing a very good job of making your point. I said “I know for a fact that in a lot of places in the south “Civil Rights Act” is synonymous with “LBJ”, and congress doesn’t enter into it in people’s recollections.” to which you replied “Are we talking about he same LBJ?” and listed a bunch of racist quotes, and ended with “THAT LBJ? Just because belief in a lie is widespread, doesn’t make it the truth.” to which I replied “So, are you trying to claim that LBJ didn’t work hard to help push the Civil Rights Act through Congress? ” and instead of replying, you kept on going. Looks like a straw man to me.

    Um, do you think I was saying *you* were lying?

    Well every time I asked a direct question about this until very recently, you kept evading it and going off on a tangent. So all I know is you kept railing, and I appeared to be the target.

    No. (Note, I’m not arguing with people, I’m arguing with you.)

    See. I still appear to be some sort of target. You simultaneously say you’re arguing with me, yet seem surprised to see that I think you’re arguing with me.

    Which is why I keep harping on the fact that a Southerner (like you, like LBJ) should know better. The 2nd Amendment is a civil right of life and death importance, every day in a real sense- even more so then.

    I believe deeply in the 2nd amendment with all my heart and have never written anything to the contrary. First you claim that you are talking about others, then you make it clear that you are addressing me, then you act like you know where I’m coming from and lecture me like I’m an idiot.

    Which was exactly why gun control was enacted in the first place, to make the world safe for cross-burners and lynchers.

    That’s… simplistic. The first court decision that claimed that the 2nd amendment protected a collective right was issued well before the Dred Scott decision, never mind the civil war.

    How about, that the Democrat party isn’t the party of institutionalized racism. That it fights racism, rather than embracing and spreading it.

    That’s a bit simplistic, too. There’s no doubt that last century the Democratic party got a huge head start on racism with Woodrow Wilson. Of course, Truman reversed some of that, and there’s a lot of lurching forward and backward. There are highly racist elements within both parties, at least around here. Remember, you have to be a Republican to get elected here, and a Democrat to get elected in New York. But if you’d been reading carefully when I said that, at least in the south, LBJ’s support of civil rights turned a lot of democrats into republicans, you could have figured that out as well. (Of course, you could also figure it out just by reading Trent Lott’s effusive praise of Strom Thurmond.) But I digress.

    I would imagine that most of the current Democratic party policies you find racist are, viewed objectively, merely classist.

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