Why Republicans win…

The plan is to lose a few battles but possibly win the war: let the bill be struck down in district and circuit courts as unconstitutional but give the Supreme Court the final word, and hope five justices are interested in taking an opportunity to overturn Roe v Wade.

Iowa passes one of the harshest abortion bills in America

… they are smart, they are focussed, they are patient.

They plan their moves and execute them with patience over years, if not decades. While their opponents, specially the twitterati sort, react to what’s happening. Reactivity isn’t always bad. But it does usually mean that you aren’t setting the terms, or the direction. You’re just responding to the other’s terms, in/against their direction. And, over time, you are losing.

Continue reading Why Republicans win…

Culture of Relativism

Mandela was prepared to break ranks with his fellow African leaders and condemn oppression. He did not indulge the ruinous culture of relativism and solidarity that had led to so many abuses in Africa passing unrebuked.

—Alec Russell, in ‘After Mandela


I love the term ‘Culture of relativism’. It’s a much better name for what’s come to be known as ‘whataboutery’ in the social media age.

Culture of relativism is also something that’s made a strong comeback in the era of social media empowered populism across the globe.

The drawback of left-right “grand coalitions”

Grand coalitions play into the hands of populists, he suggests, because they signal to voters that political contests are redundant.

… “civilised conflict” helps keep politics, and parties, alive.

The Economist: Social democracy is floundering everywhere in Europe, except Portugal

Political correctness of the other kind

The farmers know something is happening to the weather, but the words “climate change” have become politically charged in a place where, like much of rural America, conservative politics dominate.

Climate change threatens Montana’s barley farmers – and possibly your beer – Food and Environment Reporting Network

In the field, looking at his withering crop, Somerfeld was unequivocal about the cause of his damaged crop – “climate change.” But back at the bar, with his friends, his language changed. He dropped those taboo words in favour of “erratic weather” and “drier, hotter summers” – a not-uncommon conversational tactic in farm country these days.

Decisions in uncertainty…

I can’t predict it. I’ve given up predicting politics. I used to be really good at it, and then I was not so good at it, and now I think it’s probably inherently unpredictable. So where do you camp in those circumstances? You camp on the ground you believe in.

Tony Blair: ‘The whole country has been pulled into this Tory psychodrama over Europe’

Economic policies, like leaders – we get what we deserve

“We get the economic policies we deserve,” he writes. “And as long as a lack of economic understanding prevails among the general public, making good policy choices will take a lot of political courage.”

A Nobel winner explains why we get the bad economic policies we deserve

Britain’s politics for the old, strangling its young

One in three of Britain’s houses has two or more spare bedrooms. Yet overcrowding (as measured by the number of people relative to the number of bedrooms) is rising. With grandparents hogging the bigger, better properties, their children struggle to move up the housing ladder.

The way council tax is levied also gives elderly folk less incentive to downsize. It was last updated in 1993 and the priciest homes are taxed lightly.

A little-noticed change in Britain’s housing market spells trouble for everybody, August 8, 2017 at 09:50AM

Tobacco industry’s 4 step plan to eliminate inconvenient facts

First, the industry appeared to engage, promising high-quality research into the issue. The public were assured that the best people were on the case.

The second stage was to complicate the question and sow doubt: lung cancer might have any number of causes, after all. And wasn’t lung cancer, not cigarettes, what really mattered?

Stage three was to undermine serious research and expertise. Autopsy reports would be dismissed as anecdotal, epidemiological work as merely statistical, and animal studies as irrelevant.

Finally came normalisation: the industry would point out that the tobacco-cancer story was stale news. Couldn’t journalists find something new and interesting to say?

The Problem With Facts, April 24, 2017, at 10:13 AM

Product-market strategy & politics

“Dockless bike shares have found a niche where they don’t have powerful enemies,”

Uber for bikes: how ‘dockless’ cycles flooded China – and are heading overseas, April 24, 2017 at 10:13AM

The only people who seem to be upset by the new share bikes, however, are illegal motorbike taxi drivers – who are missing out on business from metro stations late at night – and security guards, who don’t like mess on the pavement outside their buildings. There is friction, but the groups that are upset aren’t powerful enough. So the government doesn’t care.