Monday, July 1, 2013

Real Time With Bill Maher: Counterpoints (6/28/13)

Sorry for getting this out late, usually I watch the live viewing and then go from there. But I couldn't do it this weekend. Regardless, we had a decent show, good points to discuss, and some counterpoints to make. So let's get to it.

Anthony Leiserowitz 1: Keystone XL needs to stop because it just makes the problem of CO2 emissions worse.

Again, we have to deal with the reality of economics. If we're not going to transport that heavy crude via pipeline, we're going to do it by rail. And shipping it by train requires a lot more CO2 emissions than shipping by pipeline, which is the most efficient form of logistical distribution we have today.

Bill Maher 1: I think we can all admit that the Obama Administration really is waging a war against coal. But coal miners have the worst jobs in the world. Is working at Home Depot really such a downgrade?

This is essentially the reverse libertarian argument. People naturally resent authority, especially when it messes with their livelihoods. The people who are most affected by the EPA and DOE's crusade against coal are the employees of those coal companies. For other people, our electricity bills will go up about 4-5 cents per kilowatt hour, but for them, they'll lose their current job in a precarious economic climate that cannot guarantee them another.

They've already made the decision that being a coal miner is worth it. When you look at places where coal is being mined, mostly in rural Appalachia where the average person has a living standard that's worse than an inner city youth in Baltimore, you really are disrupting their lives and livelihoods. There's a difference from when market forces drives companies and employees out of business. When the government does it, that's a whole different story.

Anthony Leiserowitz 2: China and India are already doing a better job of fighting climate change than we are.

Such a statement couldn't be further from the truth. Every week, China and India are building 4 new coal plants. Industrializing economies require vast amounts of extremely cheap energy, and coal is the cheapest (besides natural gas, but that is only a very recent state of affairs). China's subsidies for energy research are geared primarily towards their fast breeder reactor program (and other nuclear programs) and a few billion for solar panel manufacturers to capture American subsidies on "green" energy.

In the US, CO2 emissions have gone down largely due to the large scale conversion from coal fired electricity to natural gas powered electricity. China's CO2 emissions continue to grow at double digit percentages per year.

 Dan Neil and Bill Maher: Justice Roberts is essentially saying racism is a non-issue by overturning Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, but voter discrimination is still a huge concern.

The real issue of preclearance is the extraordinary level of Federal control over a state issue (election laws are supposed to be determined by states, specified in the Constitution). Prior Court rulings have made note of this high level of scrutiny but the issue really comes down to how far can the Federal government curtail states' rights by using an issue that is no longer valid?

5 of the states subject to preclearance by the VRA had higher black turnout than white turnout in the most recent election. If the southern states are so irredeemably racist that they still need Federal scrutiny, obviously they aren't doing a good job of translating that racism into actionable voter suppression and perhaps other states might warrant preclearance.

On a related note, when Maher trotted out Posner's quote that John Roberts was essentially making shit up, Horace Cooper shut that down pretty hard with an exceptionally obscure legal case and it made for an awkward scene. But I'm glad that Maher admitted he had a point.

Kristen Soltis (heavy paraphrasing): Gay rights have advanced a rapid clip because the thought leaders and upper middle class live around gays and not around blacks.

Nail on the head. I've always said that I want more gay people living in my neighborhood because they're clean, don't cause crime, and they boost property values. There is a lot of intermingling between the UMC and gays, therefore it's easier to identify and relate with them. The UMC is so sheltered from most black people that it really is just socioeconomic/white guilt driving their support of "black" causes, which is why they haven't advanced nearly as quickly as gay causes.

Adrian Grenier: The war on drugs has to end.

Agreed. It's time to let the pros take over the sale of drugs instead of Mexican drug lords and teenagers on street corners.


  1. "I've always said that I want more gay people living in my neighborhood because they're clean, don't cause crime, and they boost property values."

    Now Jay, I love your blog as you know, but I have to call you on your wording here. That statement, unless it was meant as facetious,sounds racist to me, because it infers that black people are unclean, cause crime and degrade property values. With the exception of the last point about property values, I have to say that is a rather blanket statement to make. If you are saying that black neighborhoods are unclean and have high crime I would not dispute that, but if you are talking about black INDIVIDUALS i would question that as a stereotype. Just asking for clarification there.

    1. I'm not saying that black individuals, as a rule, cause crime, make things dirty, and degrade property values. But if you look at patterns of gentrification, it always starts with white yuppies and gay people. The black upper middle class, for the most part, cloisters in their own communities. Or at least they do in Atlanta.

      There's a broader point to be made here, which is that when it comes to the upper middle class and gay communities, there is substantial overlap. You don't get the same kind of overlap between the upper middle class (who are, for better or worse, are the opinion shapers of American politics) and black people.

      In any case, I didn't mean to portray (presumably white) gay people as clean, industrious, and law abiding while saying that blacks are the opposite. Even in my own neighborhood, there is a large gay black community here. I still stand by my point. Gays, compared to ANY other demographic, are better when it comes to crime, cleanliness, and property values.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Yeah, this is the way I thought you meant it, but just wanted to make you aware that it could be interpenetrated differently. As a long time reader of your blog, I know where you are coming from on most of your posts, but those less familiar with it may come away thinking differently. Thank you for your reply. Looking forward to your next post.