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February 07, 2009 04:19 PM UTC

Weekend Open Thread

  • by: Colorado Pols

“Negotiation in the classic diplomatic sense assumes parties more anxious to agree than to disagree.”

–Dean Acheson


35 thoughts on “Weekend Open Thread

  1. some element of rationality (even if overshadowed by irrationality), and identifiable goals to which it is directed which are not in all ways mutually exclusive to the goals of other parties to the negotiation.

    Throughout most of the Cold War, for instance, both the United States and the Soviet Union were locked into a highly antagonistic relationship. Rarely was either party more anxious to agree than to disagree. But at the height of this relationship, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a type of negotiation took place, securing the removal of Russian missiles from Cuba in return for the removal of American missiles from Turkey at a slightly later date (because both parties had an interest in not appearing to have negotiated). This was coupled with another, more stark (and dangerous) form of negotiation: The mutual threat of nuclear war.

    Most relationships include some compatable goals: Heavily or comparably armed enemies generally have a mutual interest in not going to war. That does not guarantee that negotiations will be successful: While Israel and at least two of its neighbors (Jordan and Egypt) have broken out of their cycle of violence, Israel and the Palestinians have not, to their mutual detriment. But the success in escaping from such cycles of violence is not dependent on one factor alone (that the parties be more anxious to agree than to disagree), but rather on a net-balance of factors, which includes degree of intransigence.

    Of course, the Acheson quote above could be interpreted to be a tautology: The proof of being more anxious to agree is coming to an agreement, while the proof of being more anxious to disagree is failing to come to an agreement. But then it would simply mean that successful negotiation depends on the negotiation being successful, which is a pointless thing to say. If, however, you define “anxiousness to agree” as something other than “willingness to negotiate,” then it is only one factor among many, and, though a weighty one, not decisive in and of itself.

    Relatedly, I’m working on a model I call “political market solutions,” which examines how multiple parties to a negotiation, dealing with multiple issues, can come to collectively preferable outcomes without any bilateral exchanges taking place. The idea is to simulate a marketplace for political outcomes, so that each party can “sell” concessions to another party in order to “buy” other unrelated concessions from a third party. Success in such negotiations only depends on parties rationally pursuing their prefered outcomes, and that the costs of bargaining, monitoring, and enforcing compliance is less to each party than the benefits of the exchange.

    Just as completely disagreeable and belligerent people go to the marketplace of goods and services to buy what they want, there is no reason to assume that completely disagreeable and belligerent parties to a political negotiations can never be persuaded to go to the political marketplace to “buy” what they want.

    Despite the obstacles, it’s worth the effort.

  2. from the Honolulu Advertiser

    The state House Judiciary Committee last night approved a bill allowing same-sex partners to enter into civil unions, sending the bill to the full House in what some activists see as a historic step toward equality.

    For many activists, however, the dynamics in the Senate are for another day. Last night, the audience that packed the third-floor hearing room at the state Capitol erupted in cheers and many gave lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee a standing ovation after the vote.

    My mom was one of those voting for it!!!! (And she will get primaried for doing so.)

  3. Awesome…

    Everyone agrees that some kind of fiscal stimulus might help the economy, and that running budget deficits is appropriate in a recession. The stage was thus set for the popular President to forge a bipartisan consensus that combined ideas from both parties. A major cut in the corporate tax favored by Republicans could have been added to Democratic public works spending for a quick political triumph that might have done at least some economic good.

    Instead, Mr. Obama chose to let House Democrats write the bill, and they did what comes naturally: They cleaned out their intellectual cupboards and wrote a bill that is 90% social policy, and 10% economic policy. (See here for a case study.) It is designed to support incomes with transfer payments, rather than grow incomes through job creation.

    1. That’s the gist of the WSJ argument, that corporate tax cuts puts money into the economy because banks can lend and money circulates.

      We just dumped billions into the banks, and they aren’t lending.

      WSJ has a point about transfer payments but that money does surely get spent.

      1. Normally people try to hide their blatant abuse of any sort of mathematical facts.  Good to see they are willing to come right and declare that they are willing to live in a fantasy world where the data fits their point.

    2. Republicans want socalist protection for stockholders while Democrats are asking to let the market have it’s effect on stock price. From HuffPo

      As Niall Ferguson writes on HuffPost: “Existing shareholders will have to face that they have lost their money. Too bad; they should have kept a more vigilant eye on the people running their banks… Financial history is, after all, an evolutionary process. When old banks die, new banks swiftly take their place.”

      That’s called capitalism, Mark. I missed the chapter in Adam Smith — or Ayn Rand for that matter — where it says that equity holders in insolvent banks need to be paid taxpayer-funded dividends. Did you say “clueless”?

      Capitalism comes with great rewards — and commensurate risks.

  4. Steele’s Slush Fund is under federal scrutiny:

    Michael S. Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, arranged for his 2006 Senate campaign to pay a defunct company run by his sister for services that were never performed, his finance chairman from that campaign has told federal prosecutors.[snip]

    The recent allegations outlined four specific transactions. In addition to the payment to Steele’s sister, Fabian said that the candidate used money from his state campaign improperly; that Steele paid $75,000 from the state campaign to a law firm for work that was never performed; and that he or an aide transferred more than $500,000 in campaign cash from one bank to another without authorization.

    And he wants to lecture Democrats on fiscal responsibility? Play on player.

        1. It actually has some positive aspects, and lists a bunch of things on the Obama agenda (free health care, bailouts for banks). The main problem is that it’s annoying as hell, makes no sense, says nothing, and has nothing to do with cars.

          1. Usually car dealers tend to be pro-Republican, in my experience. And, I read the comments on the following URL, where someone writes that the ad allegedly calls the President “Obambomber” and someone else writes, “The new ‘Obomer’ commerical [sic] is tastless [sic]”:


            Thanks for answering my question. Regardless, it sounds like a bizarre ad.  

            1. Not with great success but compared with some dealer ads (Dealin’ Doug in his cheesy superman get up, for instance) The Rocky’s ads aren’t the worst.  

        2. To maximize profits. I saw the Rocky’s ad, and sort of had to do a double-take. But I don’t think it was intentionally political: Just a bad attempt at humor that was open to a political interpretation. I might be wrong.

          One exception I noticed recently was the owner of American Furniture Warehouse (from whom I bought most of the furniture in my house) pontificating on the virtues of Amendment 47 (prohibition on mandatory payment of union dues). I’ll give him this: He was willing to alienate a significant portion of his potential clientelle in order to speak his mind on the subject.

  5. My apologies if someone already posted this.

    I think the biggest secret about the Republican Party right now – or not secret, but the biggest hope for the future – is that group of legislators. I mean, I look at Josh Penry, Cory Gardner and Mike Copp and Amy Stephens, Ellen Roberts

    Roberts?!?  Good lord, what if he’s learning?

    I’m also a little alarmed to see him throwing around Stephens’ name.  She reminds me of Palin, only somehow artful.  When she walks around for some reason I always think she’s a Democrat, then she opens her mouth.

    1. watching CSpan late into the night.

      Don’t you think Bennet had to take that job, lat at night, because of lack of seniority and someone had to do it?

  6. That’s a commonly used catch phrase by Republicans to decry any governtment spending, since hard working Americans are “tightening their belts” right now.

    Except of course for the people who got into this mess in the first place: New York Bankers

    “As hard as it is to believe, bankers who are living on the Upper East Side making $2 or $3 million a year have set up a life for themselves in which they are also at zero at the end of the year with credit cards and mortgage bills that are inescapable,” said Holly Peterson, the author of an Upper East Side novel of manners, “The Manny,” and the daughter of Peter G. Peterson, a founder of the equity firm the Blackstone Group. “Five hundred thousand dollars means taking their kids out of private school and selling their home in a fire sale.”

    Sure, the solution may seem simple: move to Brooklyn or Hoboken, put the children in public schools and buy a MetroCard. But more than a few of the New York-based financial executives who would have their pay limited are men (and they are almost invariably men) whose identities are entwined with living a certain way in a certain neighborhood west of Third Avenue: a life of private schools, summer houses and charity galas that only a seven-figure income can stretch to cover.

    It’s good to see they’re really stretching their seven-figure income while the rest of use suffer their faults.

      1. Remember, 36 of the Senate Republicans voted for a DeMint proposal to strip ALL SPENDING out of the stimulus and just throw massive tax cuts at the economy. That, plus McCain and others who criticize, “This isn’t a stimulus bill, it’s a spending bill!”

        Grover Norquist has been slipping hallucinogens into the punch for decades and now they simply can’t distinguish reality from their campaign-trail ravings.  

  7. I understand conservatives need ideological affirmative action to get jobs, but does SNL really need Republican writers?

    The joke on the opening sketch was that the Senate vote was bipartisan, “if by bipartisan you mean three Republicans!” Uh, yeah, that happened. Simply mentioning it doesn’t make it particularly funny.

    It’s obviously the exact same writer who wrote last year’s bailout sketch, with the same sort of C-SPAN format with no particular imagination. “As a Republican, I am somewhat offended by Democrats. If I get people to dress up like Democrats and say what Democrats say, that’s parody, right?”

    It feels like watching “Date Movie,” in the sense that it’s all reference to something you might recognize, and that’s the joke. Unwatchable.

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