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Sat Nov 01, 2014 at 11:25 AM PDT

One story of Voter ID

by DetroitSkeptic

Despite my screen-name, I live in Ohio. It's a nice place, but the Voter ID Law is a huge pain in the ass. In particular it's impossible to vote with a passport because your ID has to have your address on it. I did a lot of research to find this out back in May, and put the resulting saga on Youtube:
Note that you'll have to fullscreen the video to read any of the websites I cited. Turns out that Youtube videos are way smaller then my laptop's screen. I will have to find a more creative way to screw up my next Youtube video.

I use a passport as my ID. You can't use a passport as voter id in Ohio. This was virtually impossible to figure out until very recently, because the only info the state put out was that valid, government-issued id, was fine. And then you read the statute and it defines "valid" to mean "shows the name and current address of the elector." Passports do not have an address on them.

So the upshot is that to vote in Ohio, if a passport is your ID you have to bring a utility bill, or similar document with your address on it. And I never would have figured this out from any official communication from the state. The County (Cuyahoga) has a decent video on the problem, but the state does not.


Liberals suck at tactics. Conservatives suck at strategy.

Let's be honest here. It was no shock that a Conservative Evangelical Christian thinks gay people are Evil Sinners Going to Hell, and that their private sexual activities are the start of the Slippery Slope to Damnation for Us All. That's a big part of the definition of Conservative Evangelical Christian. If you attack a Conservative Evangelical for doing shit like comparing homosexuality to bestiality you will end up fighting the entire international Conservative Evangelical movement.

On the other hand in America in 2013 KKK propaganda is condemned by all right-thinking people, including people like Bobby Jindall. During the 60s the core of KKK propaganda was that all the black people who actually lived in the South liked Jim Crow. It was Yankee and Communist agitators that were causing the Civil Rights movement. Robertson is racist. And not just in the sense that racial equality advocates say everyone is racist. He's racist in the sense that he has just said, flat-out, that blacks were better off when when it was illegal for them to go to the same schools as whites. There is no large international movement to protect people like that.

Which means that if you actually want to get the homophobe off the air the tactic that will work is to emphasize that both sets of comments are equally horrible. Anyone whose headline includes the phrase "Homophobic," or "gay," but not the word racist should be getting a very nasty letter of complaint from your organization.

Strategy musings below the fold.

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Thu Dec 05, 2013 at 05:48 PM PST

Rand Paul's Ideas for Detroit

by DetroitSkeptic

They won't work, but it's nice somebody is taking the problem seriously. Everyone's attitude is basically "Isn't it horrible that we can't do anything," when in fact it would be fairly trivial for any level of government above Detroit (including the County) to solve. They just don't want to spend money. Paul's idea would spend a large amount of money, by basically abolishing taxes in poor areas like Detroit, but it's nice that he's trying.

Granted he's trying to get Obama to sign a huge tax cut for free, but at least he's doing Detroit the courtesy of using us for political cover for his pre-existing anti-tax position. Everyone else is treating the City like it's got zombie-plague.

An explanation of why previous attempts to implement Empowerment Zones below the fold, plus the reason Paul's Zones may succeed in the extremely unlikely event he gets it passed:

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It's a great piece of writing, but most people miss a big part of the speech:  a lot of the speech is a defense of the idea that you can have a country that isn't a monarchy. At the time the political elite in most of the world (aka: Europe, nobody white/important cared about silly little non-white countries in incredibly racist 1863) was strongly convinced that if you didn't have a person with a hereditary claim to the top job in the land that person wouldn't be respected, which would mean that the inevitable factions that arise in any country would split it apart.

Their evidence was (at the time) pretty good. No European Republic save the Swiss and Dutch had managed to thrive on a long-term basis since the Middle Ages. The Dutch had gone over to a monarchy, and the Swiss were a) tiny, and b) had just experienced their own Civil War in 1847.

In terms of Non-European white countries, most of the Americas were Republics. But even here Republicanism was losing ground. The Brazilians were an Empire dominated by the Braganza dynasty. The Dominican Republic granted itself back to the Spanish Crown in March of 1861. The Mexicans had invited a Habsburg Archduke to become their Emperor in 1864. The new colony of Santo Domingo was gone by the time Lincoln the confederacy fell, but the Restoration War started in August of 1863; the Mexicans didn't shoot their Emperor until '67 and the Brazilians were a monarchy until Pedro II freed the slaves in 1888.

What seemed to be going on was that conservatives didn't trust a President to protect them from radical reformers, and mid-19th century radicals could be really crazy, until the US managed to hold itself together for a few decades. Once those famous four-score and seven years resulted in the country splitting many decided they needed a monarch. When Lincoln won they changed their minds.

Below the fold is the text of the address, with the pro-Republican points bolded and explained a bit.

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Here they are:

An Israeli government official says Israel has issued a complaint to the U.S. about Palestinian officials leaking classified details about ongoing peace negotiations.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators had pledged to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry they would not speak publicly about the content of their talks. But a Palestinian official who spoke to The Associated Press offered the first detailed peek at the renewed peace negotiations.

The anonymous Palestinian official said Israel proposes leaving dozens of settlements and military bases in the West Bank and seeks a Palestinian state in provisional borders.

The Israeli official said Sunday some of the information the Palestinians have leaked is incorrect or distorted. He refused to elaborate. The official spoke on condition of anonymity as both sides said they wouldn't brief the media.

Benjamin Netanyahu is doing these peace negotiations as a favor to his strongest ally and international protector. He just ran on, and won, a term as Prime Minister mostly on the basis that the status quo with the Palestinians was fine and the peace process was not a major priority for Israel.

He doesn't have to keep doing these negotiations if he doesn't want to. And since these negotiations cover very delicate areas he's got a reason to walk away from them at pretty much any time he wants.

For reason I laid out in my last diary, the Israelis have no real choice but to bomb Assad. They are doing Obama (and by extension all Americans) a huge favor by letting us delay the bombing. And it will cost Obama (and thus everyone) by making the peace talks tricky.

BTW, peaceniks who think Assad-not-being-bombed could actually happen, what do you base this on? Israel has an Air Force. They don't think the evidence against Assad is ambiguous because they supplied it. They know Hezbollah is a threat, that Hezbollah is moving closer to Assad with every battle, and that Assad has no scruple against gassing hundreds of innocent people. They are not known for taking the "let's not sweat it," view on threats to Jewish life. In what universe do they not conclude that Hezbollah is like 10 minutes from gassing hundreds of little Jewish children, and decide to use their Air Force to vaporize Damascus? Hell, as someone who frequently thinks they over-react I have to say vaporizing Damascus is not unreasonable.

Originally posted on my blog.


Sat Aug 31, 2013 at 10:26 AM PDT

Nobody Seems to get Syria

by DetroitSkeptic

I love Matty Yglesias and William Saletan over at Slate. I love anti-war Democrats. But it's very clear they don't think about foreign policy on a regular basis. Syria is a very small country. It's 20 million people are roughly half the population of the average UN country (it does get up to 2/3 if you include territories). It's land area is comparable to Washington state. It has basically no energy resources. If you talk about Syria solely in terms of things that are within Syria's borders you can only conclude that Syria is less important then Mozambique, Zimbabwe, or Argentina.

And that's pretty much what all these people are doing. They are looking at the Syria problem purely in terms of it being a SYRIA problem, and coming to the entirely logical conclusion that President should just ignore Assad like he's ignoring Mugabe. This is stupid.

Syria isn't a significant country. Unfortunately for us it borders many significant countries. The Turks are in NATO, the Israelis and Jordanians are "Major Non-NATO US Allies," and all three share a border with Syria. They all deserve to know we will spend a few Billion$ to protect them. That is what Ally means. Syria also shares a border with Iraq and Lebanon, two of the only countries where hundreds of US Troops have died within my lifetime. So from a simple geographical perspective Syria is probably the most important country in the world that is not a) a permanent member of the UN security council, or b) formally a US Ally.

Now lets consider the nature of the problem in Syria. It's clear somebody is using chemical weapons there because every few months thousands of people show up at the hospital with nerve gas damage. This is not something an exile with a fertile imagination can fake. If the CIA could fake it they would have done so in Iraq. Chemical weapons attacks are happening in Syria. Period. End of story. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

The questions then become:

1) Who is doing it?

2) What can we do about it?

3) What impact does this have on our allies?

4) What impact does it have on our relationship with said allies?

Originally posted here.

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Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 08:08 PM PDT

Julian Assange is Arrogant

by DetroitSkeptic

I know this is not an extremely original observation, but the recent Arstechnica piece on his Senate candidacy in Australia annoyed me so much I have to repeat it.

As you may know Assange is currently holed up in Ecuador's London Embassy. He's been accused of multiple sexual crimes in Sweden, which wants to talk to him as part of it's investigation, and the Brits are treaty-bound to turn him over. Assange's American defenders claim this is all a US Plot, but that's fairly hard to believe.

Currently now he's claiming that the US could get him out of that embassy. That if he gets elected to the Senate
the Aussies will have to force the Brits and US to back off, and let him go home to Australia.

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Thu Jul 18, 2013 at 11:30 PM PDT

The Detroit Disaster

by DetroitSkeptic

I am not happy today. Not happy at all. I was not expecting actual bankruptcy. I kinda thought the entire point of the Emergency Manager was to avoid bankruptcy, but whatever. Apparently the unions weren't willing to screw their members enough for Kevyn Orr to balance the books. On any other day I'd sympathize with them, but today. Fuck 'em.

I did a little series on the City's problems back when Orr got appointed. I made a point of not blaming the suburbs. But today fuck em.

I had a new series planned after reading Orr's massive 134-page powerpoint to creditors. I never got around to finishing it, tho, so fuck me too.

Below the fold some of the ideas I had for that series, plus probably some more unwarranted, unfair, and just plain mean insults. Also confusing grammar. If you don't like it fuck you. It's been that kind of day.

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To a non-black person, particularly a Civil Libertarian, it may seem odd that roughly zero black people seem to care about this issue. The people who care are almost entirely whites who make fairly good livings. Slate, for example, is still dominated by Snowden-related news. To those folks these various Snowden-revealed programs are very troubling, and possibly indicate our liberties are being wantonly violated.

Blacks, OTOH, who generally a) have had their liberties wantonly violated by at least one level of the government, or b) had a recent (like a grandparent) whose liberties were wantonly violated just don't seem to care that much. There are no Snowden-related headlines on the Root. Black poll numbers show less black outrage. It just doesn't seem to be a big deal to them.

The reason for this is pretty simple: Blacks have had their rights wantonly violated. And it was nothing like the NSA/PRISM/etc. stuff that's coming out.

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Everybody assumes everything is a zero-sum game. Either the suburbs must prosper, or the urban core must prosper. There is no middle ground. Joel Kotkin seems to be a pretty smart guy. But he doesn't seem to understand that very few New Urbanists want the suburbs to decline. They just want the suburbs to give up their near-monopoly on transit funds in most of the country, and for zoning laws to allow multi-unit development in areas where there's demand for it.

He also has a lot of trouble understanding that "detached, single-unit dwelling" is not synonymous with suburban. To my knowledge the entire Detroit area has maybe six Residential blocks where most of the lots are multi-unit dwellings, so by his definition everyone in the entire Metro region lives in a suburb.


Thu Apr 25, 2013 at 08:50 PM PDT

My Solution for Detroit's Ills

by DetroitSkeptic

It's quite simple. It's actually already been done in Phillie, New York, and the entire province of Ontario: Abolish as many of the local jurisdictions in the Detroit area as possible, including Detroit proper. The resulting super-municipality would look great in national city rankings. This would help the suburbs, they'd no longer be "a hi-rise bolted on to the ghetto" to paraphrase a quote frequently attributed to their dear leader. It would have a tax base, there would be one guy whose entire job was to ensure blacks and whites stopped arguing about stupid bullshit that happened in the 70s, and it would have much better numbers then every other rust belt city.

Crossposted from my blog. Part of a series.

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Fri Apr 19, 2013 at 09:10 PM PDT

Why Detroit has Problems

by DetroitSkeptic

Given all the great things I mentioned about Detroit in my last diary, you're probably wondering how Detroit got to be in such bad shape. It's a perennial winner on the worst-crime lists, it doesn't really have a per capita income, and it's bankrupt. The answer is simple: for all the advantages Detroit's heritage and geography bestow. It's not a City in the same sense that all the other cities on the worst-crime list are.

Crossposted to my own blog.

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