Saturday, October 18, 2014

How Far Conservatism Has Changed

All right, it is an important U.S. political season.  As a registered Republican and a frequent speaker at libertarian gatherings, I remain hopeful that this will be the year that several million temperamentally conservative-but-calmly-rational Americans will wake up to the way their movement and the GOP have been hijacked. And that only a shattering drubbing at the polls will send the American right back to the drawing boards -- learning to do politics again. Including negotiation about real problems. 

Oh, but it will be so hard! 
The oligarchs who have done the hijacking have ordered up so many narratives, from "birther" paranoia to climate denialism, from preaching "oligarchy is gooood for you" to utter lies about U.S. history. I will explicate the best and most hilariously most damning example below -- the George Soros Effect.  
thats-not-austinBut first -- In That's Not What They Meant!: Reclaiming the Founding Fathers from America's Right WingProfessor Michael Austin examines dozens of books, articles, speeches, and radio broadcasts by such figures as Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Sean Hannity, Larry Schweikart, and David Barton to expose the deep historical flaws in their use of America's founding history. In contrast to their misleading method of citing proof texts to serve a narrow agenda, Austin allows the Founding Fathers to speak for themselves, situating all quotations in the proper historical context. 
What emerges is a true historical picture of men who often disagreed with one another on such crucial issues as federal power, judicial review, and the separation of church and state. 


As Austin -- whom I met last week, at Newman University, in Kansas -- shows, the real legacy of the Founding Fathers to us is a political process: a system of disagreement, debate, and compromise that has kept democracy vibrant in America for more than two hundred years, but that regularly comes under attack. How extreme has been the veer off any path of sane conservatism?  

== A Look Back to 1956 ==
A commenter on the New York Magazine site said: Nothing underscores the change in the Republican Party more than to read Dwight Eisenhower's 1956 Republican Platform:
government-head-heartPHILOSOPHY: "Our great President Eisenhower has counseled us further: "In all those things which deal with people, be liberal, be human. Government must have a heart as well as a head. "
LABOR: "Workers have benefited by the progress which has been made in carrying out the programs and principles set forth in the 1952 Republican platform. All workers have gained and unions have grown in strength and responsibility, and have increased their membership by 2 millions. "
EDUCATION: "Republican action created the Department of Health, Education and Welfare as the first new Federal department in 40 years, to raise the continuing consideration of these problems for the first time to the highest council of Government, the President's Cabinet."
FOREIGN POLICY: "We shall continue vigorously to support the United Nations."
SAFETY NET: The Federal minimum wage has been raised for more than 2 million workers. Social Security has been extended to an additional 10 million workers and the benefits raised for 6 1/2 million. The protection of unemployment insurance has been brought to 4 million additional workers.
ENVIRONMENT: "We recognize the need for maintaining isolated wilderness areas to provide opportunity for future generations to experience some of the wilderness living through which the traditional American spirit of hardihood was developed. Added more than 400,000 acres to our National Park system, and 90,000 acres to wildlife refuges."  
How did that Republican Party mutate into today's openly treasonous and insane New Confederacy? Openly and repeatedly declaring -- under the "Hastert Rule" -- that negotiating with their opponents, in any way and over anything, is absolutely forbidden?

Propaganda. Aimed at destroying politics as an American problem solving tool. And here's an example to show just how blatant it has become.

== On George Soros == soros-globalization
All right. let's illustrate the mad-right's narrative machine, and how sadly incurious millions of our neighbors have become, nodding and swallowing anything that gets fed to them on Fox. 

Use this!  Ask your crazy uncle what he thinks of a man named... George Soros. 

Oh, any Fox-watcher will tell you about Soros! How he is a criminal mastermind with a huge media empire that has suckered millions of Blue Americans into raving socialist-communist frenzy. 

Never mind that Soros's wealth and media "empire" are minuscule compared to the triumvirate of Rupert Mudoch, the Koch boys and the Saudi royal family, all co-owners of Fox. Folks following the narrative call George Soros a "super-leftist" master-demon.
A special moment: they nod in terror when Glen Beck howls "Soros toppled EIGHT foreign governments!" 

In fact, that's true! For once, Beck ain't lying at all. George Soros did help to topple eight foreign governments! He is, indeed, a formidable fellow. Alas, in a sign of how far GOP intellect has plummeted since days of Goldwater and Buckley, not one audience member of the Beck or Limbaugh or Fox riefenstahl-rallies ever lifts his head to ask ... 

"Um... Glen? Rush? Sean? WHICH eight foreign governments do you credit Soros - the super leftist with toppling?"

 In ten years of daring these guys, none of the Fox-ites I've  confronted has ever been able to name even one of those toppled foreign governments. It just never occurred to them, to ask.
Are you ready to ask? Ready for the list? Here are those eight foreign governments Beck/Limbaugh/Fox credit George Soros with toppling.
The communist dictatorship of Hungary.
The communist dictatorship of Poland
The communist dictatorship of Czechoslovakia
The communist dictatorship of Romania
The communist dictatorship of Bulgaria
The communist dictatorship of Estonia
The communist dictatorship of Latvia
The communist dictatorship of Lithuania
And mind you it isn't just uber-conservatives Beck and Limbaugh who credit Soros with this terrifying feat! The Heritage Foundation and AEI and most rightist pundit-castes have repeated it! Along with many GOP candidates. (Though sometimes the figure is nine since it rightfully should include East Germany.) Indeed, Soros's relentless efforts to undermine the USSR and communism made up his core life's work and even many sane political observers credit him substantially.
soros-EULet’s make this explicit. Glen Beck and all those other right wing mavens officially credit terrifying leftist George Soros with the toppling of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Warsaw Pact, the liberation of hundreds of millions and the victorious end of the Cold War. 

Huh. I thought it was that other liberal (compared to today’s GOP) Ronald Reagan. In fact, they both share equal credit with Michail Gorbachev and with the architect of our grand 1945-2000 plan -- George Marshall. (With Jimmy Carter deserving more of an assist cred than you’d believe.)
Look, the crux here is not who actually tore down the wall. Hey, let's credit the people of those nations, above all. 

No, the core point is this: why are the viewers of Fox and Beck/Limbaugh so cosmically stupid that they never — any of them — ask enough questions to notice the tsunami of ironies and contradictions and outright lies at their Nuremberg Rally? 

So... um... where does this ghastly example of looniness, incuriosity and knee jerk obedience to declared dogma leave the credibility of today's monster that has hijacked the once intellectually solid American conservative movement?
Oh, pity Barry Goldwater. spinning 6000 RPM in his grave.
== Make that 10,000 RPM... ==
I have long believed we should be dealing with crises with a multi-pronged approach. The far-left, in opposing even experiments in (say) ocean fertilization, is almost 10% as crazy as today’s entire US right. (Yes, that crazy!) 

Both sides poison pragmatism, which is portrayed on this page about ways to ameliorate the incredible harm that carbonate-driven acidification is doing to our oceansphforecastBut yes, there’s no doubt it is the Denialist Cult doing the worst harm.
Ocean acidification is the silver bullet, boys and girls. It is undeniable. It cannot be armwaved away with Fox-nuremberg-style sieg-incantations. It is pure fact, and caused by human generated CO2. And it threatens our children. 

Furthermore, those who would sneer us into doing nothing - refusing even to negotiate moderate improvements in energy efficiency that would save consumers billions - are complicit with murdering the future.
TWODA-new-brinDo not let them get away with the tactic of yelling “Squirrel!” and pointing elsewhere to change the subject. Repeat it. The oceans are going acid. The oceans are going acid. The oceans are going acid. The oceans are going acid. The oceans are going acid. The oceans are going acid. The oceans are going acid. The oceans are going acid…. ".

..And if YOU guys keep this up, and the seas die, we will remember you. Yes you. Personally. By name.”

92 comments:

Tim H. said...

Many conservatives are so far around the bend, they've lost sight of it. Not all, spoke to a co-worker, Republican, who thought a work program would make sense for the unemployed. Shades of the New Deal and they knew it. For the "Round the benders", NASA might have an Alcubierre drive that would initiate warp with a golf cart battery before they'd touch any concept with the taint of FDR.

Shebardigan said...

I am a lifelong conservative Republican. In elementary school, I had "I Like Ike" buttons on my shirt, twice.

There seem to be few of us left, and most appear to be voting for Democrats (I voted for that Irishman, O'Bama, twice).

Sad times, but not hopeless.

Laurent Weppe said...

"Here are those eight foreign governments Beck/Limbaugh/Fox credit George Soros with toppling."

Given the way contemporary right-wingers often praise the current chinese and russian despotates, it's not that surprising: after all, leninist-flavored oriental despotism is a close relative of the feudal regimes they wish to set up.

David Brin said...

Foxite praise of Putin and the Chinese leadership is, indeed, a telling litmus.

Shebardigan, there are tepid efforts to raise a counter-movement at THE AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE. But they are very very tepid.

I have found one more counter point that works. Lead a sane-but-in-denial conservative out on a limb by asking what he thinks of our parents in the "greatest generation." And the world they built after WWII in the 1950s.

They will respond with gushing praise for the GG's nobility and wisdom.

Then ask them... "Which human being did they admire, above all others, by huge margins?

Midboss said...

I have to admit that the whole idolization of Putin by the crazy right has always amused me.
I mean, the guys are continuously accusing Obama of being some evil communist sleeper agent and anyone left of the extreme right gets the same accusation.
Now that we have a genuine ex KGB member who is actively undermining democracy and they admire him.

Tacitus2 said...

And of course to be fair, the 1956 Democratic Party Platform sounds pretty solid as well:

"In the brief space of three and one-half years, the people of the United States have come to realize, with tragic consequences, that our National Government cannot be trusted to the hands of political amateurs, dominated by representatives of special privilege."

The current administration, in the eyes of people responding to recent polling, appears to be a bunch of political amateurs.

Tacitus

Adriana11 said...

In Argentina the current government is sweet on Putin, for a couple of reasons. Sympathy for a fellow victim of economic advice that led to a disaster - they see Putin as straightening the mess those advisers left behind, as they see Kirchner straightening the mess after the 2001 collapse. Then there is the economic incentive to make business with Russia.

On the other hand they are quite sour on the US and they just CANNOT BELIEVE it when it talks about its principles. It was dark comedy when Obama tried to talk Latin American leaders to condemn Venezuela's human rights abuses. The listeners were Dilma Roussef, from Brazil, who had been tortured by a US backed dictatorship, Michele Bachelet of Chile, whose father was tortured to death by a US backed and imposed dictatorship, Jose Mugica of Uruguay, who had been kept at the bottom of a well for years by a US backed dictatorship, and Cristina Fernandez of Argentina whose Secretary of State is the son of a man tortured by a US backed dictatorship (under the infamous Kirkpatrick theory that "authoritarian is better than totalitarian, so we should be nicen to authoritarians") I bet that it took them a lot of effort not to burst into laughter when Obama talked about human rights.

lsessions said...

I have long been disgusted by those who have so thoroughly distorted and polarized the political process, and especially those who twist the words of others into the completely opposite meaning. This is a great article that I hope is read by many.

I know that there are reasonable Conservatives and Liberals out there, but they let themselves be trampled on, manipulated and marginalized by extremists and outright loons.

We need to take back power and resume a well reasoned and sustainable journey down the middle road.

LarryHart said...

Caveat emptor: I have only read a few lines of the main post, so I don't know what you might have already covered.

Just wanted to chime in that one of the first things that needs doing is to separate the terms "conservative" from "right wing". When I was growing up in the 1960s, my dad used to impress upon me that America is the best country in the world, and one of the characteristics he felt made that so was our tendency to navigate a careful middle course between the Scylla and Charibdis pitfalls of the right (Hitler, Louis XVI, George III) and the left (The Soviet Union). It wasn't until some time during the Reagan years that I remember American conservatives proudly self-identifying as "right wing" as if authoritarianism was the same thing as pro-Americanism.

If the conservatives of my late father's type are to be awakened enough to notice what has happened to the Republican party, they first must be divested of that notion which has since become common usage: that because America's enemies are "leftist", therefore America herself is "right wing", and the further to the right one is, the more American he is.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

The current administration, in the eyes of people responding to recent polling, appears to be a bunch of political amateurs.


In all fairness, don't you think the current adminstration got to be the current administration because the Previous Administration seemed like a bunch of incompetents ("amateurs" not being a strong enough word)?

I somewhat agree with you that despite the unsung accomplishments this administration actually performed, in sheer political and messaging terms, they've been ridiculously unprofessional to say the least. But don't at all understand how the brilliant political strategists of Obama's 2008 campaign became the political Keystone Kops after inauguration day. I'm starting to buy into Dr Brin's "blackmail" scenario as the most plausible.

LarryHart said...

midboss:

I have to admit that the whole idolization of Putin by the crazy right has always amused me.


Aw, geez, now you're going to conjure up "Hi-IQ Nazi Ubermench" again. *Sigh*


I mean, the guys are continuously accusing Obama of being some evil communist sleeper agent and anyone left of the extreme right gets the same accusation.
Now that we have a genuine ex KGB member who is actively undermining democracy and they admire him.


The likes of Limbaugh and Beck love bullies like Ted Cruz and Chris Christie, but they can only wet-dream about being as successful a bully as Vladimir Putin.

See, they don't admire him for being a communist. They admire him for being an authoritarian who answers to no one, especially not the population of his own country.



LarryHart said...

Adriana11:

under the infamous Kirkpatrick theory that "authoritarian is better than totalitarian, so we should be nicen to authoritarians


I was specifically thinking of Jeanne Kirkpatrick when I mentioned the Reagan-era shift from "America as threading the needle" to "America as right-wing". Her doctrine was certainly a part of that.

daddyoyo said...

David, did Michael Austin, when you met him, tell you about being freeped? The people at Free Republic started a campaign to down rate his book when it first came out, temporarily driving it down to one star. There is much to be concerned about in recent trends on the right that you have covered so well. The worst, though, is their increasing adoption of anti-democratic methods such as the above example, as well as voter suppression, not to mention the Machiavellian propaganda techniques revealed, for example, in Lee Atwater's death bed confession.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

I would be interested in knowing if anyone has ever developed computer software for distinguishing "left" from "right" political issues. I am very curious about this because I can distinguish 'left" from "right" only by memorizing a large number of political positions, and placing them in a particular category according to what others have said about whether they are "left" or "right" political positions.

Whenever a novel political issue arises, I have only a 50 percent chance of correctly guessing whether a particular stance on the issue is "left" or "right."

This leads me to believe that political beliefs are largely a matter of brain structure, (although the brain does continue to have substantial plasticity).

I have noticed that many people on the far left (later in life) flip to the far right, and vice versa.

Very few political moderates, though, ever flip to either the far left or the far right.

People who are libertarian from childhood, like me, tend to have their own mental quirks related to brain structure, but never jump on to the left-right political axis at any point. People who begin to identify themselves as libertarian in adulthood usually do understand the left-right axis and are prone to jump on or off of that axis sometime during their lives.

Libertarians from childhood tend to move only between dogmatic libertarianism and practical libertarianism. For myself, I tended to be a dogmatic libertarian during my college years, but changed to a pragmatic (Heinlein/Gary Johnson) type of libertarianism when I was in my mid-20s (influenced strongly by Jacob Bronowski's "Knowledge or Certainty" argument).

Tacitus2 said...

LarryHart

I think the current administration is finding out that the challenges they face are not so dissimilar to those faced by their several predecessors. And that the tools they have to address them are also not so different.

I do happen to agree that our traditional media does not do a very good job. And that quiet successes get ignored. Sometimes because people are lazy. Other times (our policies on North Korea perhaps) because they have been asked to keep quiet.

Blackmail vs incompetence. Mmmm. The latter is far more common. And it is a very, very hard job. As we look to choose our next President perhaps a bit more vetting and emphasis on experience would be in order. It turns out that writing autobiographies and running, or being associated with, a whizbang political campaign does not guarantee performance in Office.

Tacitus

LarryHart said...

@Jerry Emanuelson

Dr Brin has done several postings and articles about the ambiguity of the terms "left" and "right". And the propagandists seem to make particular use of conflating the different meanings.

Dr Brin himself has a graph that shows two aspects of the continua on separate orthoganal axes. One axis how much you favor a regulated economy (left) vs a regulation-free economy (right). The other axis is how much you favor individual freedom in non-conformist behavior (left) vs social conformity (right). Those two continua are often presented as the same thing, but the one really has nothing to do with the other.

Add to that, the confusion over whether authoritarian Russia and China are "left" or "right", or whether the left (who tends to support brown people over white oppressors) or the right (who tend toward religion-inspired male supremacy) are more closely alligned with Arab Muslims.

All that by way of saying, yes you are correct that the terms are confusing. To me, it's one of those "I know it when I see it" things. Compassion, thoughtfulness, and a desire to "First, do no harm" all feel to me like liberal qualities, but conservatives would all insist that their policies are aimed at those things and that mine are misguided.

So yeah. :)

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

It turns out that writing autobiographies and running, or being associated with, a whizbang political campaign does not guarantee performance in Office.


But the Obama campaign was so brilliant in 2008 that I have a hard time understanding how they've become so politically inept since then. Not how they may or may not have trouble actually governing, but how they've become so incompetent at messaging.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

As we look to choose our next President perhaps a bit more vetting and emphasis on experience would be in order


I'd say the more important task is how we chose our next congresspeople. And I'd replace the word "experience" with "statesmanship".

Americans tend to think of political eras in terms of presidencies, but forget to look at that congress behind the curtain.

Neoreactionary said...

One problem is that America’s political terminology is confused and inaccurate. Most “conservatives” don’t seem to want to conserve anything and most “liberals” don’t seem that keen on liberating anyone.

Also, the “right wing” can refer to a number of distinct currents, such as: 1) libertarianism/capitalism uber-alles 2) feudalism/aristocracy 3) racialism/tribalism 4) religious fundamentalism 5) masculism/machoism.

Why is libertarian capitalism considered right wing at all, when it is as disruptive, untraditional and radical as anything promoted on the left? A libertarian might be socially liberal and tolerate open borders, which puts him in direct conflict with tribalists and fundamentalists. And I know economic liberals/semi-socialists who vote democrat but are tribalists, religious conservatives or masculists -- are they of the right or the left?

And to Larry Hart’s claim that right wingers like Putin because he is an authoritarian who doesn’t have to answer to his own population, that’s incorrect. The right is up in arms today because they feel their country has been hijacked by various hostile minorities who don’t share their values and want to take their power; Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, embodies the values and aspirations of the majority of his people, which is why is so popular. That’s the kind of leader most right wingers are looking for: someone strong, decisive, and of *our kind*. Obama, in almost every way, is simply *not one of us*. It’s basic primate politics, but it’s what matters most.

Liberal intellectuals tend to make things more complicated than they are. Look around the world: how many leaders do you see who seem so alien compared to their population as Obama? That’s why America is such an aberration, and why so many rightists are in an uproar -- because, by any traditional standard, this place is rather insane. It’s been pushed so far left socially so quickly that people are shell-shocked, and are desperate to either find someone who can stop it, or find an exit from the asylum.

Duncan Cairncross said...

"It’s been pushed so far left socially so quickly that people are shell-shocked, and are desperate to either find someone who can stop it,"

America has moved "left socially" recently
But It does not look as it it was "pushed"
In fact the democratic politicians seem to be lagging
The popular movement is ahead of the politicians

David Brin said...

Tacitus, I agree with yoiur characterization of “appears to be.” (look back at your comment that BHO appears incompetent.) Yes, that hypnotism has been accomplished on half the population. Despite rapid rises in every conceivable metric of national health and well-being.

Good description Jerry. Very interesting.

Tacitus, sorry, but you are WAY off-base with the following “I think the current administration is finding out that the challenges they face are not so dissimilar to those faced by their several predecessors. And that the tools they have to address them are also not so different.”

This is diametrically opposite to fact. Please ponder how I nailed it with this piece: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2012/10/how-democrats-and-republicans-wage-war.html

Again, your carp about “performance in office” only applies in that BHO managed to get very little legislated. Whose fault is that? Administratively? Things are running smoothly at almost Clinton levels. ANd Outcomes? No comparison.

LarryHart my actual axes are slightly different. See http://www.tinyurl.com/polimodels
But your 2-D version conveys the gist. My chosen third dimension is interesting, though: “To what do you attribute differences among humans: nature or nurture?” It turns out to divide things interestingly!

Tacitus again: “As we look to choose our next President perhaps a bit more vetting and emphasis on experience would be in order”

It turns out the BIGGEST determinant of who will be a presidential candidate is having once been chosen as running mate by an earlier candidate. And here again we get diametric difference! Nearly all democratic candidates choose running mates who are qualified to be president, centrist, experienced and sane.

Only ONCE in our lifetime has a GOP presidential candidate done that. When Reagan chose Bush Senior. Although I loathe GHW Bush with a deep hatred that exceeds my disdain for his son, I will concede that GHWB was on paper a qualified, experienced, centrist. His resume was fantastic. ALL other GOP VP choices were utterly horrific, expressing contempt for the people and the republic. And I include a GOP president I admire, Eisenhower, who stuck us with Nixon.

This difference is HUGE! and reflective.

Tacitus2 said...

David

A fairly large number of your fellow citizens see the world differently. And would be...bemused by your theories on why they vote the way that they do.

An entirely serious question....does this frustrate you?

Tacitus

Adriana11 said...

@Jerry Emanuelson

I think that ultra-left and ultra-right switch positions so easily because they belong to the lazy part of the political spectrum. They want changes quickly, yesterday if possible, are not willing to settle for half-measures and are not willing to dig in for the duration. They like thinking in slogans, not reflecting, and they just switch from a set of slogans to another. They same dynamic that makes people go from one cult to another - it does not matter what each cult believes, only that if offers pre-packaged answers, and the Jehovah's witnesses are just as good as the Hare Krishnas...

David Brin said...

Tacitus, what frustrates me is not that millions of fellow citizens disagree with me. No one has striven as hard as me, to spread a culture of reciprocal accountability, debate, negotiation and pragmatic problem solving.

No, it is the coalescence of a cult whose central and crystal clear objective is to undermine every aspect of reciprocal accountability, debate, negotiation and pragmatic problem solving.

I am not frustrated by your rhythmic efforts to find rationalizations to maintain loyalty to a "side" that has betrayed you.

I am frustrated by your inability to perceive that this is no longer about "sides" of a "left-right spectrum." It is about absolutely objective metrics of OUTCOMES that indicate that a cult has taken power in America that regularly does vast harm -- without being able to point to a single example of having done good.

I am frustrated that you actually perceive this as normal disagreement, instead of blatant and systematic treason.

Adriana11 said...

One conservative I have a lot of respect for is John Lukacs. He says that the greens are conservatives who do not know it, since a Conservative CONSERVES.

Been reading up his history of the US. The last President for whom he has respect is Truman. After that, with Eisenhower, according to him, the puerilization of America began. But then he has a bone to pick with Eisenhower because Lukacs is born in Hungary, and remembers how Eisenhower encouraged the Hungarians to revolt, with promises of help, only to abandon them to their fate.

(It would be interesting to determine how many political positions begin as grudges)

Adriana11 said...

When it comes to experience in a President, there is only one President who got in office with LESS experience that Obama.

Abraham Lincoln

Laurent Weppe said...

"Also, the “right wing” can refer to a number of distinct currents, such as: 1) libertarianism/capitalism uber-alles 2) feudalism/aristocracy 3) racialism/tribalism 4) religious fundamentalism 5) masculism/machoism"

Oh but you can mix all these: take people who want to entrench dynastic transmission of wealth and power (2) who parrot ├╝ber-capitalist soundbites to appear like sincere principled men adhering to an ideology (1) and who intend to use ethnic & religious tribalism as well as male supremacy as tools for social control (3, 4 and 5), and voila: you have the profile of the GOP (and increasingly of european right-wing parties) leadership.

Mitchell J. Freedman said...

Anthony Watts, of the climate change self-proclaimed "skeptic" (commenters are mostly outright denialist and Watts himself strikes me as more denialist than skeptic) has been flogging against the ocean acidification argument for at least two years. Here's a recent argument put forth by another supporter of Watts at Watts' website:

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/04/27/ocean-acidification-expansion/

I have found over the years that the denialist/deep skeptic has gone from "It's not warming" to "CO2 is not the cause." They did this because while the hockey stick did not occur, it has stayed warmer since the 1998 high point. Then, they lost their argument about solar winds getting the planet naturally cooler when the planet did not cool down. For the past few years, it's been a drumbeat of "CO2 does not cause global warming," thereby going at the heart of the first lab studies and computer models from UCI and elsewhere in the 1980s, and attacking something most climate scientists had thought was settled.

It's worse than we think with these folks...

Jumper said...

I've viewed Obama as a Hawaiian from the start and am a bit bemused that this has never really been part of the "official narrative."

I would expect much of what he's got to fall on any Hawaiian president.

LarryHart said...

Neoreactionary:

And to Larry Hart’s claim that right wingers like Putin because he is an authoritarian who doesn’t have to answer to his own population, that’s incorrect. The right is up in arms today because they feel their country has been hijacked by various hostile minorities who don’t share their values and want to take their power; Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, embodies the values and aspirations of the majority of his people, which is why is so popular. That’s the kind of leader most right wingers are looking for: someone strong, decisive, and of *our kind*.


I'll actually buy that. Ok, substitute this for what I said above: "They admire him for being an authoritarian who answers to no one, especially not advocates for the less-powerful."

LarryHart said...

Neoreactionary:

Look around the world: how many leaders do you see who seem so alien compared to their population as Obama?


Depends what you mean by "their population." Sadaam Husein, for example, may have been an Arab ruling an Arab country, but he was a Sunni dictator of a majority-Shi'ite nation. Isn't that often the case in a dictatorship, that a minority rules over a different majority by force of arms?


That’s why America is such an aberration, and why so many rightists are in an uproar -- because, by any traditional standard, this place is rather insane. It’s been pushed so far left socially so quickly that people are shell-shocked,


Now, this, I cannot agree with. Maybe you could believe that in the 1960s. Since Reagan, this country has gone so far to the right that even today's Democratic Party is way to the right of mid-century Republicans.

Exactly what previous non-insane state are you pining for? When cops could simply crack a few hippie or homosexual heads because they felt like it? When black people and Jews knew their place? When women were property? It sounds as if you consider the overturning of those sorts of things to be intolerable.


and are desperate to either find someone who can stop it, or find an exit from the asylum.


Go with God. Please.

David Brin said...

Libertarianism has been cozened into abandoning Adam Smith and what should be the central premise of the movement... that flat-open-fair competition is the greatest creative force in the universe. They have abandoned it in favor of a heavily propagandized campaign to identify "freedom" with utterly unlimited propertarianism and defense of oligarchic-monopolistic power, simply because it is "private."

In fact, if competition were still the central theme, libertarians would recall that oligarchic cheating was deemed the worst ENEMY of flat-open-fair enterprise competition (fofec) across 6000 years, and that "bureaucrats are at-worst a nuisance to fofec.

Indeed, there are certain kinds of socialism that should please libertarians! Those elements that INCREASE THE OVERALL NUMBER OF SKILLED, READY AND CREATIVE COMPETITORS. Friedrich Hayek himself declared this goal central Hence, while welfare for adults may be questioned, there are almost no measures for kids that cannot be justified in libertarian terms, including free health care, food and education... and a protected environment.

This drift of libertarianism is not accident. It is the result of relentless and deliberate propaganda financed by... oligarchs who want to be feudal lords.

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2011/09/libertarians-and-conservatives-must.html

The Burwoodian said...

As I've been sitting here at my desk reading both the blog post itself and the comments following, I've been listening in the background to an interview with Robert Kennedy, Jr. on Al Jazeera which is highly germane to the discussion here, so I went and found the url for the transcript (possibly the video is there, too, I didn't check), which I strongly suggest everyone take the time to read/watch as much of what he says strengthens much of what you've said here, David. When I've finished watching the rest of the interview and, following that, the rest of "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington," which is recording on another channel but will fill my DVR completely if I don't watch and delete it now, I'll chime in with something of my own to contribute that isn't Robert Kennedy, Jr.'s, because this is a genuinely important discussion of a very important set of issues which, over the past few months, have been on my mind more and more as I see what I fear to be the persistent unraveling of the fundamental principles that establish a just and rewarding civilization here in America.

locumranch said...


David is exactly right about the US Republican party. It has changed in dramatic fashion. It has abandoned it's liberal emphasis (in the sense that 'liberal' once meant 'free of restriction'); it has become increasingly 'reactionary'; and it has chosen to become 'anti-progressive'.

Unfortunately, David neglects to mention that the US Democratic Party has undergone a similar transformation. It has also abandoned the liberal emphasis; it has become increasingly unrealistic & 'progressive'; and it has chosen to become 'anti-conservative'.

'Change' was Obama's Democratic Party election mantra and this 'Change', being synonymous with 'progress' toward some arbitrary social ideal, has redefined principles once identified with the Socialist Left as 'liberal' and, in a contrapositive fashion, has redefined the Fascist Right as 'conservative' (in the reactionary sense of being against change), the sad truth being that both US political parties have rejected what was once defined as 'liberal' and/or 'liberalism'.

They both wish to restrict personal liberties of the polity; they both try to force their personal moral code and/or sociopolitical agenda on the population at large; they both favour 'big government' as the means to inflict their morality on others; and they both require that their adherents drink the dichotomous Koolaid as the price of membership.

Rather than 'switching places' (as David argues), the two main US political parties have actually become more & more identical, each favouring their particular brand of social cohesion at the expense of individual liberty, and things have gotten so bad in this regard that the system can no longer be reformed, meaning that we must necessarily 'break it to fix it'.

----

So, remember, when the CC cultists chatter on about 'ocean acidification', remind them the ocean is still basic, that an ocean becoming 'less basic' does not mean the same thing as 'ocean acidification' because 'acidification' cannot occur until (if & when) the ocean's pH becomes less than 7.


Best

David Brin said...

"So, remember, when the CC cultists chatter on about 'ocean acidification', remind them the ocean is still basic, that an ocean becoming 'less basic' does not mean the same thing as 'ocean acidification'..."

There are times, Locum, when I think you are just toying with us. We have seen real IQ from you. Flaming imbecillically-stupid statements like this one are probably just your deliberate attempt to goad a reaction.

I won't bite. Can't fool us. We know you are smart. Zero-sum misguided, but smart.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Guys

I have been doing some reading
State Constitutions
(Wisconsin, Texas)

The ones I have read so far are very specific
Certain people can not vote
(under 18, felons...)

The constitutions go on to say
EVERY PERSON - (except those earlier)(US citizen, resident of state)
- shall be deemed a qualified voter

This seems to me to be very specific
It sounds as if the constitutions are specifically BANNING all other qualifications

How can you require voter ID when your constitution has banned all other requirements???

Neoreactionary said...

Duncan, I agree that society isn't being pushed leftward first by politicians, but then the question becomes, who is doing the pushing? As far as I can tell, progressivism isn't a grassroots phenomenon so much as an elite one. And Bernays figured out a long time ago that public values and tastes need to be engineered in a democracy, since most people aren't terribly bright or interested in politics. So democracy becomes a game of mass manipulation and propaganda, managed by social engineers and cultural wizards. Our friend Dr. Brin here is unapologetically in this class. And it appears that liberals are better at this game than conservatives, for whatever reason. So this is the power struggle that matters in our society: the battles of wizards and occult orders, who pay lip service to democracy but are operating in a de facto magocracy. Problems arise when the ruling wizards get too far out of touch with the values of the masses, and you get peasant revolts. Right now, I'd say we're in the midst of an intense occult war between the dominant orders, and more than one peasant revolt is already underway.

Duncan Cairncross said...

"Duncan, I agree that society isn't being pushed leftward first by politicians, but then the question becomes, who is doing the pushing? As far as I can tell, progressivism isn't a grassroots phenomenon so much as an elite one."

Disagree
As far as I can see its the kids that are driving this
The teenagers/20's/early 30's
We would appear to be getting back on the track to a "low violence" society
We were pushed off this path by lead poisoning
With the removal of leaded petrol the generations born since the late 70's are much less prone to violence and seem to want a more open society

Laurent Weppe said...

"Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, embodies the values and aspirations of the majority of his people"

If he actually did embody the will of the majority, he wouldn't need to rig the elections in order to stay in charge

***

"Exactly what previous non-insane state are you pining for? When cops could simply crack a few hippie or homosexual heads because they felt like it? When black people and Jews knew their place? When women were property?"

He's pinning for the state where he'd be an aristocrat who can eat and drink and play and party and fuck the housemaids as much as he wants without having to consent any effort or suffer any repercussion and where everyone else is reduced to the role of cattle and fucktoys whose existance is solely and entirely dedicated to sustain his self-indulgences.

Jumper said...

I don't remember where I gott this. David, I suspect you will be amused.
https://soundcloud.com/the-story-collider/john-rennie-crazy-mail

"As an editor at Scientific American John Rennie delighted in the weird correspondence they received, but then one letter crossed a line."

Thomas P said...

David, the argument "it can't be acidification as the pH is still above 7" is quite common among denialists. It works too, because lots of people will figure based on (non-relevant) personal experience that if the ocean isn't acid it can't be a problem. Explaining the biological consequences of the reduction in pH takes more work, and the better trained of the denialists know about the Idsos and their web page where they have collected a bunch of cherry picked articles suggesting it isn't a problem (at least not to *all* species in the ocean).

Besides, we are killing the oceans much quicker by overfishing, bottom trawling etc so by the time acidification becomes a problem there won't be much left to destroy.

Adriana11 said...

@locumranch

Whatever problems you might have with the Democratic party, remember their basic difference with the Republicans: They do not let the inmates run the asylum.

Sanity trumps any other concerns, in my book

Adriana11 said...

I just want to comment about Argentina, my country of origin, which a couple of days ago (a significant holiday for Peronistas there), put their first satellite in orbit, to the celebration of the population, who were again reminded of the local scientific achievements (a source of national pride).

You may critizice the current government, but it has done a lot of things right

(Included is an article that lists the development of alternative energy sources

http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2012/01/renewable-energy-recap-argentina

And there are always inaugurating a new wind farm or solar collector...)

The government has also given away Notebooks to children, so that they can play with them and teach themselves, has expanded the number of Universities, with the President proudly announcing that 75% of those inscbrided in one of those new Univeristies were the first in their families to go to college. It has crated a lot of technical schools whose students are of such quality that they keep being cited for their inventions - some of which can even be marketed - and who respond to the challenge of outdated equipment using their computer skils to upgrade them.

This is one of those days when I am proud to come from Argentina

Tacitus2 said...

Duncan

Don't want to relight that fire just now, but the WI constitution spells out US Citizen, 18 or older who is a resident of an election district in this state.

Hence proving you are a citizen and where you live.

All on hold now as courts sift through this. I am not a lawyer but the current discussion is on to what extent some voters would be unfairly disenfranchised by the burden of proving these particulars.

Tacitus

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Unfortunately, David neglects to mention that the US Democratic Party has undergone a similar transformation. It has also abandoned the liberal emphasis; it has become increasingly unrealistic & 'progressive'; and it has chosen to become 'anti-conservative'


In which alternate universe is this happening? Because if you'd send me the coordiantes, I would love to go there.

In the universe I'm stuck in, the Democratic Party tries as hard as it can to show that they believe in the same values the Republican party does (cutting social programs, favoring businesses over humans, foreign adventurism, security over liberty) and will only be slightly less overtly mean to people while implementing those policies.

You are correct that the parties are becoming more identical, but the motion is not equal in both directions. If the political spectrum were a football field, and each party started out on its own 20 yard line in the 1960s, then by now, both parties would be having a party together in the grandstands beyond the end zone on the far right side. Only in this sense are the two parties becoming indistinguishable from each other.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

How can you require voter ID when your constitution has banned all other requirements???


Easy. The id is required to prove that you indeed meet those requirements.

LarryHart said...

Neoreactionary:

Duncan, I agree that society isn't being pushed leftward first by politicians, but then the question becomes, who is doing the pushing? As far as I can tell, progressivism isn't a grassroots phenomenon so much as an elite one. And Bernays figured out a long time ago that public values and tastes need to be engineered in a democracy, since most people aren't terribly bright or interested in politics. So democracy becomes a game of mass manipulation and propaganda, managed by social engineers and cultural wizards. Our friend Dr. Brin here is unapologetically in this class.


Oh, I see. It's the Jews' fault. How could I have missed that?


And it appears that liberals are better at this game than conservatives, for whatever reason.


I'll repeat what I said to locumranch. Please send me the coordinates of the alternate universe in which liberals are better at cultural manipulation than conservatives, and I'll gladly go there. You can trade places with me and come to this universe, where "talk radio" is synonomous with "right-wing talk radio", where a major so-called news network is a propaganda arm of the Republican Party, and the other networks want to be like that one when they grow up, where "liberal" President Obama offers to cut Social Security and Medicare and the congressional Republicans only scotch the deal because there weren't enough tax breaks for the wealthy in there.

You right-wingers are the sorest winners I've ever seen. You get things your way most of the time, and on the few occasions where things don't quite go 100% the way you would have liked, you cry like babies about the deterioration of your rights and privileges, and you spout comic-book supervillain dialogue about getting your revenge.

Your side has won. Coerporations and billionaires own everything. Women's rights and minority rights are being eroded as we speak. The environment will soon refuse to support human life. What exactly are liberals doing to you that gets you so bent out of shape? Not genuflecting hard enough at your wonderfulness?

Howard Brazee said...

I used to always vote Libertarian. No more. We've tested what happens when Big Business owns Libertarian leaning candidates. We still have war, we still have Republicans taking away individual rights - and now Big Business rules. The economy tanks when government serves the wealthy.

And the right wing is so very racist, claiming a kind of Christianity which is the opposite of what Jesus Christ taught. Libertarians are pandering to this. Filling up prisons is not Libertarian.

Being cowards is not Libertarian - shooting down unarmed black teens is cowardice. Our homeland security is taking away our rights because of cowardice. Being manipulated by ISIS is cowardice.

David Brin said...

Neoreactionary is a hoot. No one on Earth pushes the notion of lateral and reciprocal criticism harder than I do — the underlying core of mutual respect and fair argument and democracy. Yet — because it makes an idiot happy to say the words — I am a “mag-o-crat.”

Duncan, remember how I was involved in getting the lead out of gasoline and saving a generation! Well, slightly involved. http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2013/01/getting-lead-out-quirky-tale-of-saving.html

Thomas P explains: "the argument "it can't be acidification as the pH is still above 7" is common among denialists. It works too, because lots of people figure if the ocean isn't "acidic" yet it can't be a problem."

I assumed this would be self correcting. That only idiots would confuse a quantity with its rate of change. Or miss the fact that a slightly alkaline ocean is what we NEED, and that if the ocean becomes any LESS alkaline, we would be screwed. But stupidity is conserved.

Okay then, let's try again. The trend is DEBASING THE OCEAN.

The ocean is being be-based away from the alkaline state our lives and all life on Earth depends upon. Human generated CO2 is doing it.

Moreover, those who writhe and find incantation-excuses to do nothing are complicit in this murder of our childrens' future. And this debasing -- and the cult of frantically evading admitting it -- is proof that millions of our neighbors are stark, jibbering loonies.

Howard B I do keep looking for libertarian candidates to vote for. If an election is foregone or a lost cause, I often do it just to boost the numbers and hope someday the LP will provide home to refugees from the GOP. But you are right. The LP is taken-over by oligarch “insttutes” in order to prevent that ever happening.

Thomas P said...

David, I think you underestimate the layers of defense the denialists have built over the years. Not only will they claim that acidification is harmless based on a long (if selective) list of scientific publications, but they will also point out that CO2-levels have been much higher earlier in Earth's history and the oceans survived then. (Never mind that the increase in CO2-level was so slow back then that natural buffer mechanisms could protect the pH of the ocean). They have any number of plausible sounding arguments.

Only a very small part of the population have enough scientific knowledge to really evaluate these claims and counterclaims by themselves (even most scientists only master at most one of the relevant fields), so it becomes a matter of trust, and people have a wonderful ability to trust the people who say what they want to hear.

When an important member of Congress (John Shimkus) can argue that global warming can't be a problem because according to him it says so in the Bible, I think you really shouldn't put too much hope in scientific arguments.

Paul Shen-Brown said...

A lot of stuff to ruffle our feathers here. I was going to comment on the nature of gradients and the pH scale, which is confusing to people who lack a chemistry background, by Dr. Brin made the point already, while I was busy grading notebooks.

Larry Hart, what you said about Republicans being the sorest winners is absolutely typical of high t males (and, yes, females, too). If they can't get what they want by beating others into submission, they become convinced that everything on Earth is unfair and the whole world is conspiring against them. It says something about the kind of people who join the Party.

I thought Adriana 11's point about Obama being almost laughed out of South America brings up some interesting thoughts about the relationship between the US and other nations/regions. Yes, many South American leaders today were tortured by dictatorships backed by the US in the past. Let us not forget who, specifically, was sending American taxpayer money to these brutal dictators. When my mother was sworn in as a US citizen, she was damn proud to be a Reagan supporter. When she learned that Reagan was sending our money to prop up Pinochet, she did a 180 and has never voted Republican again. But many people outside the US don't seem to get that not all Americans are alike, and neither are their leaders.

The leaders aren't the entire problem. The GOP would not be peddling hate and fear if there wasn't a huge cadre of people who would buy it hook, line and sinker. I can't speak from personal experience about before WW 2, before Eisenhower or even before the Civil Rights Movement, as I wasn't around. But when I was little, even before Reagan reigned, I got more than a taste of what kind of people called themselves "conservative." There was a line they used so frequently, and with such force, that it has stuck in my mind all these years when little else from my childhood has. Some angry man (I don't recall any women saying this) would proclaim loudly that he is a "card-carrying" or "dyed-in-the-wool" Republican, which means he believes in Freedom. And Freedom means that every white man should be allowed to own a nigger.

I was confused by this as a child, as my dictionary defined the "N" word as and ignorant person, something that hardly seemed useful to own. But eventually it was explained to me. I did not just hear this line from one mouth, or in one church, one city or even in one state. My father was career Air Force, so we moved a lot back then. I heard this line so often and pretty much everywhere I assumed it must have come from a movie (if anyone knows its origin, I would be grateful if you shared).

Paul Shen-Brown said...

Now I know that not all conservatives in the US are flaming racists, and that conservative means something a little different in other countries. If they were all like this, I would have had not a single friend before moving to California, though I will say that I lost quite a few "friends" when I married someone who is not as "white" as I am. But let's examine the logic of the American brand of conservative. It is largely about freedom, basically the assumption is that the rights of individuals always trump the needs of the society at large. This belief favors the wealth and power of those who are already wealthy and powerful. For the leadership, this is just following the Veblen playbook - constantly pursuing their personal enrichment and aggrandizement, mostly to the detriment of everyone else, in true zero-sum fashion. 40 years have shown that Reagan's Trickle-Down Economics is barely a trickle, if even that.

For those who are not among the elite leadership, the idea of individual freedom has great appeal. Some of this is an understandable reaction to the dictatorship the Colonies had fought off two centuries ago, and some of this more recently inspired by the dictatorships of the Communist Bloc of half a century ago. But there's another, less noble side to this attitude. The teen-ager who stumbles home drunk as a skunk in a bunk at 4 a.m. Sunday morning and gets grounded from parties immediately starts to whine about personal freedom, just as Southern conservatives have been whining about states' rights ever since losing the right to keep slaves.

So if there are far fewer flaming racists among American conservatives of today, it is probably only because racism is becoming less and less fashionable. As long as individual rights always trump social needs, there is no hope for anyone who is not at the top of the totem pole. Conservatives will always support whatever the hate of the day happens to be, whether it is gay-bashing, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism or the oldest hate of them all, sexism. The right of the individual to discriminate against others trumps the need of the nation to guarantee freedom for all its citizens - the tyranny of the majority.

This might help to answer why one side has gone so over the top. As to why the two sides have become so polarized, there are a lot of things that can be discussed, beyond propaganda and lead-poisoning. I'm inclined to suspect a strong role for scalar stress.

If the Dems put up a really weak candidate next time, my vote might just go to Cthulu/Nyarlothotep. Why vote for the lesser evil?

Jim Satterfield said...

Since the modern Libertarian inevitably (so far as I can tell) believes that the EPA, OSHA, the FDA, the FCC, and the FTC should all be eliminated in favor of completely unregulated capitalism there is no way in Hades I could be persuaded to support them.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Jim Satterfield, you are very confused about libertarianism. However, that is mostly the fault of a few libertarians who are making the most noise right now. Identifying what libertarians believe is like herding cats. Libertarians are the most diverse group imaginable.

Most pragmatic libertarians believe that the government should establish the "rules of the game" or the limits and boundaries to what is a legitimate free market activity. The Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto Polar has described this very well in his writings and documentaries.

Governments establish domain boundaries and rules of contract, which must be changed very slowly, and only when it is absolutely necessary. The main problem with modern regulation is the rapid changing of the rules in the middle of the game.

This is very much as if, on a mid-summer afternoon, umpires decide that too many runs are being scored in the major league baseball games of the day, so the umpires make a mid-game conference call and decide that batters will now be allowed only two strikes instead of three.

I have personally been involved in chasing this constantly moving target of the ever-changing rules of government bureaucracies. It is an immensely costly endeavor, and is extremely counter-productive to the entire civilization.

The FDA is one case in point. I like to have such an organization inspecting food and medicines for purity. I also like their required food labeling. Nearly every year, though, I am personally adversely affected by the FDA pulling a nutritional supplement off the market because it is too effective (as they did this year with anatabine) or telling people that they can't have their DNA inexpensively tested for health risks (as they did a year ago with 23andMe).


LarryHart said...

Paul Shen-Brown;

Some angry man (I don't recall any women saying this) would proclaim loudly that he is a "card-carrying" or "dyed-in-the-wool" Republican, which means he believes in Freedom. And Freedom means that every white man should be allowed to own a nigger.


"Freedom is Slavery", huh? And without a hint of irony?

You've hit upon the fact that it is impossible to be "for freedom" full stop. Quite literally, the freedom of the slaveholder is directly opposed to the freedom of the enslaved. You have to pick a side. I've begun to put it in terms of "Are you in favor of freedom from bullies, or freedom for bullies?" Because you can't be for both simultaneously.

LarryHart said...

Jerry Emanuelson:

Most pragmatic libertarians believe that the government should establish the "rules of the game" or the limits and boundaries to what is a legitimate free market activity.


That is one legitimate function of government. Another is maintence and protection of "the commons", in which I would include clean water and air. Today's vocal libertarians seem to deny the very existence of the commons, insisting instead that everything is the property of individuals, and that those individuals can dispose of it all without regard to their fellow humans. They seem to think that if any particular thing isn't privately owned, then the entire concept of private ownership is being undercut.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Don't want to relight that fire just now, but the WI constitution spells out US Citizen, 18 or older who is a resident of an election district in this state.

Hence proving you are a citizen and where you live.


Remember that I also pointed this out...that voter ID is ostensibly intended to prove you are eligible to vote.

But to me, that's what voter the registration process is for. On election day, all you should be required to do is to demonstrate that you are indeed the same human being that has (through the registration process) been deemed to be legitimately on the voter rolls. You should not need to possess documentary evidence of all the requirements all over again.

The clear intent of voter ID laws to prevent likely-Democrats from voting is evident in the types of ID which are allowed and not allowed. In Texas, a firearms ownership card is considered valid ID, but a student ID with photo from the University of Texas is not. I've heard North Carolina's law is even worse in that regard. If Wisconsin's is not so, then I suspect it is because the spirit of Robert LaFollette is still alive enough that Walker has to at least pretend he's being fair. A wink and a nod to the good ol' boys isn't enough.

Tacitus2 said...

LarryHart
I believe we posted the same info near simultaneously. It happens.
Regards registration versus at the polls ID, we have of course had same day registration for a while, that makes the difference moot. A few archaisms such as one person being allowed to vouch for up to (iirc) 12 other voters is being properly phased out. It probably made sense back in the days of the lumber camps.

I am not one who gets all that exercised over the voter ID issue. A law gets passed. The courts rule on it.(repeat as necessary). That is how the system works. I don't see large numbers of fraudsters being stopped if we have the law. I doubt many will actually be disenfranchised if we do have it. Eventually somebody will get smart and have a mobile registration van system. It could go places that DMV offices can't or won't. The technology is there.

Ah, I said I did not want to relight that fire. Enough.

Tacitus

LarryHart said...

@Tacitus2

Stricter ID and documentation requirements for same-day registration do make sense.

But just because you have same-day registration doesn't mean everyone is doing it that way. An already-registered individual should not have to duplicate the registration process every time he votes, any more than a citizen who needs a passport to re-enter the country needs to produce that passport every day to prove he has a right to be in the country.

We're not really disagreeing here so much as keeping each other honest.

David Brin said...

Tacitus and LarryHart again and again, it is NOT offensive that Red-GOP states ask for gradual ramp-ups in ID, which theoretically could be neutral and proper. What exposes these laws as utter-hypocrisy and dastardly cheating is the complete lack of any allocation of resources to help citizens to COMPLY with such new, onerous regulations.

Compliance assistance is standard and routinely given to major corporations. Were it given to the poor/minorities/women etc, the IDs would be helpful toward their NOT being poor anymore.

It would have been simple to do this, if ANY of the red state republicans had been sincere and decent people, with citizenship in their hearts and outcomes in their minds and honesty in their souls. But they did not allocate one.. red… cent… to help poor neighbors, the elderly, divorced women etc to exercise their right as citizens…

…revealing these red state officials and legislators ABSOLUTELY to be damned liars, unambiguously rotten-souled cheaters and utter, utter traitors. There are no words for such horrible beings.

And anyone who stands by them is tainted by the association.

David Brin said...

Jerry E. Hernando se Soto should be the saint of modern Libertarianism. He was proof that “left-right” is an insane metaphor.

As for regulation, I wish libertarianism were a pragmatic movement that would sit at negotiating tables, pushing for regulations to be minimal-but-effective and for private-synergistic-market alternatives be tried, in order to keep offering society opportunities to wean themselves of obsolete regulation.

Alas, this is not today’s cult, which has been cozened into fundamentally hating the one tool that we ever had for counter-balancing the power of oligarchs.

Tacitus2 said...

David

Wisconsin specifically made the process for obtaining necessary ID FREE (rare for me use of BRINCAPS).

How much more assistance would make you happy? The problems that remain are logistic. DMV offices can't be open 24/7 everywhere. This has properly been brought up by the courts and will need to be corrected.
I sometimes think that you do not read my posts.

LarryHart, lets keep each other honest. It is good so to do.

Tacitus

Jerry Emanuelson said...

LarryHart,

Nearly all libertarians agree that it is wrong to throw your trash onto other people's property on into the public areas. There have always been some primitive libertarians who claim that it is fine to dump your trash onto other people's property as long as your trash is invisible.

It is a legitimate function of government to make laws against throwing trash into the domains of other individuals, or into the public areas, even if that trash is invisible to the unaided eye.

Nearly everything regarded as pollutants simply belongs into this realm of invisible, but nevertheless very real, trash.

Paul Shen-Brown said...

Larry Hart:
Exactly!

David Brin said...

Tacitus I well recall you made those points. I replied that (1) WI is purple and no doubt there are many honest civil servants doing their best. And (2) free or not, the legislators who are the rabid redder partisans made zero effort to offer actual outreach to help poor or confused citizens comply with a new law.

There is no way around it. They are very very bad human beings.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Tacitus

Why do you need voter ID???

The process of voting and being "ticked off" in the register gives a foolproof way of detecting fraudulent voting

Why do you need anything else??

David Brin said...

Duncan, check-off is inadequate if the fraudulent voter votes early in the day. I have nothing against voter ID... in principle. I just despise cheaters who have already gerrymandered like mad in order to keep power...

...and who are from states that are baseline gerrymandered because there should never have been TWO Dakotas and so on...

...thinking they can just cheat and cheat and cheat more and keep their souls.

Paul Shen-Brown said...

Dr. Brin, I really doubt too many of these people are concerned about their souls - it's their power, prestige, wealth and egos they care about.

I hesitate to recommend Veblen's 1899 book "The Theory of the Leisure Class" because of the pedantic Victorian prose, but just reading up on it is revealing.

Happy cogitations!

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi David

If somebody fraudulently votes early
YES - their vote is in the system BUT you know that fraud has been committed

This gives a direct and simple measure of the problem

If an election occurred and a significant percentage of fraud was detected then the correct thing to do would be to declare it null and re-do the election

You are not going to re-do an election with a 10,000 vote margin for two votes

A 200 vote margin with 100 votes - yes you should re-do the election

So there is a potential problem
(fraudulently voting)
Which is easily detectable
And has a simple (if expensive) "fix"
And has never been a problem

Using my old
Failure Modes and Effects (FMEA) methodology
Severity - low
Detectability - High
Fix if failed - Yes
Frequency - very low

That would get an incredibly low score and would be fixed after everything more important had been fixed
(The doubts about your electronic counting systems would score much much higher)

Severity - VERY HIGH
Detectability - LOW
Fix if failed - Yes
Frequency - Unknown

locumranch said...



As proven by David's response to my 'acidification' non-sequitur, he is in top form and (for a change) I am being sincere:

'DeBASEment' is an excellent description of human-mediated environmental degradation (especially CC), plus it conveys a pithy confidence that mocks, devalues & dismisses the opposing argument in a way that earnest debate (whose very seriousness validates the opposing argument) cannot do, and it's very tangentiality (obliqueness) also defies the dichotomous 'for/against' convention which (by happy coincidence) is exactly what conflict resolution theory tells us to do.

Let us promote this term, by all means, and make 'debasement' the new euphemistic catch-phrase of the 21st Century so, from now on, we can talk about Oceanic Debasement instead of mere 'acidification', Political Debasement instead of the newspeak of 'political correctness' and Fishery Debasement instead the equally boring 'overfishing' (etc).

That said, I must express my support for the Jeffersonian sentiments expressed by H_Brazee & Neoreactionary as both US political parties (to answer L_Hart's query) are Hamiltonian constructs led & controlled by an Intellectual Elite who has usurped control from the individual.

What we need -- what I want -- is Jeffersonian Anarcho-Libertarian Rebelliousness where self-empowered citizens ACT instead of waiting on (and/or begging permission from) a paternalistic (?) Nanny State:

"Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny"; "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others (and) I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual"; "Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of the ends of human rights, it is the right of the people and their duty to overthrow it"; and "Don't ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you".


Best
_____

Further Info on Thomas Jefferson's opinions on Rebellion & The Two Party System available at 'The Thomas Jefferson Hour':

http://podbay.fm/show/206783908

Start at the top.

Laurent Weppe said...

"Are you in favor of freedom from bullies, or freedom for bullies?" Because you can't be for both simultaneously"

I'm quite fond of the term "bullycracy": nice, short, straight to the point, easy to get, it's a fine neologism which deserves to be more often used.

Marine Kopp said...

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David Brin said...

If Locum wants to explain his most recent swing toward cogency and intelligent discourse as having been because *I* offered a better terminology (deBASEment of the oceans), then fine. I will accept the credit.

(Though the wild degree of locum’s swings makes some of us suspect it is a bio-medication issue.)

As for “Jeffersonian Anarcho-Libertarian Rebelliousness where self-empowered citizens ACT instead of waiting on (and/or begging permission from) a paternalistic (?) Nanny State…” please tell us your own local activity?

I have long been a promoter of alternatives to reliance on nannies. See:
http://www.davidbrin.com/proxyactivism.html

ElitistB said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ElitistB said...

@Jerry Emanuelson
"Nearly every year, though, I am personally adversely affected by the FDA pulling a nutritional supplement off the market because it is too effective (as they did this year with anatabine) or telling people that they can't have their DNA inexpensively tested for health risks (as they did a year ago with 23andMe)."

Anatabine was pulled for a variety of reasons, none of which had to do with it being "too effective". It was being marketed as a drug, synthesized as a drug, and the company made claims about it as if it was a drug. The FDA is holding it to those standards. It has undergone little drug testing, and that testing showed a fairly high rate of negative side effects (36% reported dizziness even at low dosage). The fact that you referred to it as a "nutritional supplement" makes me wonder if you ever looked in to why the FDA pulled it.

23andMe ran into problems because it falls under medical services due to the claims it makes (diagnoses of potential genetic conditions). It was in talks with the FDA for proper procedures. Then it ignored the FDA for 6 months. The FDA was working with it, 23andMe's refusal to obey the regulations that all other similar services follow was the issue. It has been working out a deal with the FDA for the past half a year as to how to proceed.

So, basically your problem with the FDA is that they pulled a product with potentially dangerous side effects (dizzyness et al) and untested claims, and that they made a genetic testing company submit for approval like all other genetic testing companies.

Sounds to me like the FDA is doing exactly what it should to safeguard the public good in those two cases.

Adriana11 said...

What a curse is to be a history buff. If nothing else, it teaches you that nothing is straightforward, and that quite often you cannot tell the good guys from the bad ones just by seeing what they believe it.

Case in point, the persecution of gypsies by Charles III of Spain in the name of Enlightment principles. Those attempt were defeated by th retrograde sectors of society: the nobility and clergy. Not the supposed villains and not the supposed heroes...

But history is full of little traps like that.

I saw this because of the unthking admiration for Jefferson. True, Jefferson's words were stirring, and he said the right things.

His deed, alas, were something else...

David Brin said...

Did I claim the Enlightenment was free of blood or guilt? Napoleon stomped all over Europe, not just for his own glory but everywhere freeing serfs and distributing land to peasants and empowering bourgeoise townsmen with rights. While killing many thousands.

History is a mess of rationalizations and horrors.

But YOU Adriana, are critical. And YOU are a daughter of the Enlightenment. And without it, we would be laughing in your face instead of soberly and earnestly listening to your wise cavils.

LarryHart said...

Jerry Emanuelson:

Nearly all libertarians agree that it is wrong to throw your trash onto other people's property on into the public areas.


Nearly all libertarian funding seems to say otherwise. Granted, most of it comes from the Koch brothers.


There have always been some primitive libertarians who claim that it is fine to dump your trash onto other people's property as long as your trash is invisible.

It is a legitimate function of government to make laws against throwing trash into the domains of other individuals, or into the public areas, even if that trash is invisible to the unaided eye.


I appreciate that you describe the ideal case. In the real world (my observation anyway), self-described Libertarians tend to oppose any actual government attempts at regulating pollution. I don't doubt that if the question were put to them the way you word it, many would probably agree (in theory) that such regulation is justified and proper. But they nonetheless campaign and vote for politicians who insist that the freedom of corporations to maximize profit trumps the damage they might do to the environment and other humans in the process.


Nearly everything regarded as pollutants simply belongs into this realm of invisible, but nevertheless very real, trash.


You make it sound as if everything is all right, then--we're all on the same page. In fact, congress gives the polluters free reign, no matter what philosophy you or other libertarians claim to accept. Perhaps this is because they're not real libertarians, but simply corporatists? No matter, because libertarian voters seem to buy the rhetoric that makes them vote for corporatist Republicans.

I'm reminded again of my favorite Yogi Berra-attributed quote:
"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice, there is."

David Brin said...

Interesting discussions!


But...

...onward! --

Jerry Emanuelson said...

@ElitistB

You and I simply have hugely irreconcilable differences about the proper functions of government.

I am aware of the facts that you presented, and that doesn't change the fact that I regard the control by the FDA of medicines or nutritional supplements as a blatant violation of individual freedom. There are some substances, such as antibiotics and certain highly-addictive substances that should only be available with the authorization of a physician. This is because their misuse could cause widespread social ramifications, such as antibiotic resistant bacteria (in the case of antibiotics).

If a medicine simply has bad side effects, however, it is no business at all of the government. This is the same FDA that delayed the approval of beta blockers while thousands died of cardiovascular disease.

Metformin, one of the most widely-used and effective medicines for diabetes, was approved in the United Kingdom in 1958. It was approved by the FDA in 1995. No one has calculated the large numbers of people who suffered and died prematurely because of the 37 year time lag. In addition, metformin has been found to be one of the most potent cancer preventive agents known.

If the FDA had prohibited direct-to-consumer DNA testing a few years earlier, I would probably be quite dead by now, or at least living in a nursing home. So I don't regard the prohibition of direct-to-consumer DNA testing as even being sane or worthy of counter-argument. My DNA is my own, and I have a right to know what information is in it. Any government that tries to infringe upon that right is a totalitarian state to the extent that it takes such actions.

As I stated earlier, many functions performed by the FDA are reasonable and proper. Every government, though, has its totalitarian elements. These elements need to be rooted out and replaced with reasonable and sane alternatives.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

arryHart, I have to agree with most of what you say about the "invisible trash" problem.

Some libertarians were by no means unique, however, in being blind to the invisible trash problem. The blindness to the invisible trash problem has been a widespread problem by people of many different political convictions throughout the past century.

A large part of the problem has been that no one has ever framed the problem as being one of dumping invisible trash onto the property of others and into the public spaces. Most people are now beginning to think of most pollutants as invisible trash.

Things like carbon dioxide now present a special problem. Carbon dioxide is harmless in small quantities, but it has been known for at least 117 years in the scientific literature that large quantities of gases like carbon dioxide present a special problem for the global climate. This problem was discussed in prime time on national television in early 1958 and was shown as part of a science film in countless classrooms in the 1950s. I learned about the problem when I was nine.

The central problem with pollution and climate change issues is a lack of understanding of science. Tens of millions of people heard about the climate change problem in the 1950s, but most people like to pretend that it is a new issue because they have never adequately understood science.


Adriana11 said...


So you understand that I may come down on Jefferson without excominucating me.

It irritates me when he romantizices agricultural labor, which sounds typical of someone who does not have to do it himself. Lincoln knew what kind of hard work farming was and did not wax lyrical about it.

(Also, the policies of concentrating land under platations - which happened in his time - was disastrous for small farmers who could not compete - such as Lincoln's father who had to move to Illinois from Kentucky to avoid ruin.

David Brin said...

Adriana prrof of the brutality of tenent farming is the fact that jobs in the horrible "infernal mills" and Dickensian factories were consider plum steps upward at the time.


Now ONWARD folks.... we have a new posting.

onward

raito said...

Well, the fire got re-lit, didn't it? Some of you might remember that Wisconsin's voting debacle is local news to me.

Duncan, if it were only that simple. However, additional requirements have been around for a very long time.

Tacitus2,
There's already requirements in place to prove your residency when you register to vote.

LarryHart,
That's not at all what the ID is for. In order to register to vote, you need only prove residency. And while an ID may do that, so will a host of other documentation.

The requirement that an ID be shown at the polls is requiring more documentation to vote than is required to register to vote.

Now combine this law with the other bits where early voting is restricted, and DMV offices (where you get the ID that is required, assuming you don't have to get a birth certificate, which you get elsewhere) having their hours cut.

One of the restrictions on early voting is that each municipality is only allowed one early voting location. So Milwaukee, with its 600K or so citizens, and 100 or so square miles, is allowed the same number of early polling venues as a town of 500.

Tacitus2, even places that could afford to be open extra hours were told that they weren't allowed to under the guise of 'not being fair'. As if doing more than the minimum is somehow wrong when it comes to democracy.

Oh, and no weekend early voting, even if the venue is otherwise open.

Sure, the Grey's Law corollary of Clarke's Law applies, but it does look awfully suspicious.

The voter ID law may have little affect as SCOTUS rules, quite rightly, that messing with election laws close to an election is a no-no. They did not rule on whether the law ought to stand.

I'm going to have to agree with David. These guys are pure evil. Reasonable citizens should, in theory, want as many to vote as is possible, regardless of who they'd vote for. But that would require a genuine belief in majority rule. And has been shown time after time, those who think they might not win using the rules as they exist, seek to change the rules.

Laurent Weppe said...

"Those attempt were defeated by th retrograde sectors of society: the nobility and clergy. Not the supposed villains and not the supposed heroes..."

Neither the clergy nor hereditary aristocracies are devoid of enlightened figure.
Sure, History has shown that the bully/decent people ration is much higher in these sectors of society, but sometimes the bullies take a step back (because something else holds their interest) and don't try to stop their more honorable peers to do the right thing.

Besides, doing things "In the name of X" doesn't necessary means that X is the real, seminal motive: for instance, right now, in France, you'll hear a lot of hostile and sometimes frankly heinous rhetorics being used against Gypsies and Muslims, and disenfranchising policies being advocated against them, all of this "In the name of enlightenment", but scratch a little under the surface, and you'll see cynical plebeians wanting to oppress minorities because they believe it will increase their share of scraps of wealth dropping from the upper-class table, and demagogic patricians fanning the flames because these fuel their "Divide the plebs to better rule them" strategy: basically, all of this is nothing but old-school reactionary policies hidden behind a veneer of pretended adherence to enlightenment principles.

***

"Did I claim the Enlightenment was free of blood or guilt? Napoleon stomped all over Europe, not just for his own glory but everywhere freeing serfs and distributing land to peasants and empowering bourgeoise townsmen with rights. While killing many thousands."

If I may indulge in a little rant over my country's history: Napoleon should Never had been allowed to become France's leader: that job should have been granted to Thomas Dumas: he was a better general, a better fighter, a much more sincere revolutionary and humanist, and a man who when given the order to slaughter the vendean monarchist rebels "including the civilian population" rushed back to Paris and told the government "Fuck you, I didn't join the fight against the decadent monarchy to end up murdering children and elderly peasants".

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ElitistB said...

@Jerry Emanuelson

"If a medicine simply has bad side effects, however, it is no business at all of the government. This is the same FDA that delayed the approval of beta blockers while thousands died of cardiovascular disease."

But that's the point. We don't know what it actually does or what it might do in various circumstances. Because it hasn't gone through any real testing. And yes, negative side effects are most certainly the FDA's business. Dizziness, for example, means people shouldn't be taking it and driving or operating heavy machinery. And it needs to have the side effects labelled and explained. Your complaint boils down to "The FDA requires drug producers to back up their claims with evidence."

So you bring up another example, Metformin. I'll look into it later, as your first two examples don't inspire a whole lot of hope that it is an abuse of power. To say "The UK allows this" is not particularly relevant, they also cover (or used to) homeopathic remedies in their healthcare. Just because someone else allows it doesn't mean anything to me, it is an irrelevant appeal to authority. However you might have a valid complaint. I'm not going to say the FDA doesn't have problems. I'm saying the two cases you first brought up weren't problems.

The FDA does not prohibit direct-to-consumer DNA testing, please avoid the hyperbole. However there are procedures that the FDA requires for all medical device and testing companies. 23andMe's testing methodologies haven't been shown to be effective testing for all the claims they were making. Again, this is consumer protection. We, as in the public, don't have sufficient evidence that its claims are true. In addition 23andMe had several times suggested that it had another goal to collect a bank of this type of information and use or sell it for medical research. They did not have the proper privacy and consent protections in place for such an endeavor.

"These elements need to be rooted out and replaced with reasonable and sane alternatives."

In these two cases, and only these two presented am I making a statement on, you are misrepresenting the facts at hand in favor of a narrative you want to be presented that government is overstepping its bounds. You and I do appear to have irreconcilable differences about the functions of government. I think it should protect its people and try to keep a somewhat level playing field for capitalism. You think it should only step in after harm is discovered, I'm guessing by people already suffering the consequences. Proactive versus reactive. I think "caveat emptor" is not a phrase that should be uttered when someone suffers cyanide poisoning for consuming Laetrile.

Adriana11 said...

Laurent Weppe: The point that I was trying to make with the gypsy example was that the narrative is never as clear cut and as simple as we'd like it to be. Clear cut narratives are OK if you are trying to make rethorical points, but History is not so easy, which is what makes it fascinating. Think of it as a Agatha Christie novel. Just because you like or dislike a character has nothing to do with his or her being the murderer. Just remember other messy factors as alibis, means, and motives.

Even the Nazis turned out to be innocent of some killings (see Katyn).

Jerry Emanuelson said...

David has essentially closed this discussion, but since this discussion remains on the web forever for others to read, some concluding remarks are in order.

(1) ElitistB and I have fundamentally opposing worldviews. There have been attempts in the past to reconcile these opposing worldviews with regard to FDA functions. So far, the FDA has decided that it will have no part of even considering such reconciliation. In the eyes of the FDA, it is one agency to rule them all.

(2) The FDA operates from an excessive abundance of caution. Given its current regulatory mandate, it cannot do otherwise. Such an over-abundance of caution necessarily leaves many unapproved medicines or procedures setting on the shelf while people suffer and die who could have benefited from them.

(3) I will admit that it is difficult for me to maintain a civil discussion about this because of my own situation. Without direct-to-consumer DNA testing and my own personal research and efforts, I would be in a nursing home or dead by now instead of living a healthy and productive life. I saw my father die very slowly of the effects of severe spinal osteoporosis while was flat on his back for 14 months as his spine slowly crumbled away.

I was well on my way toward suffering the same severe spinal osteoporosis at a younger age than my father's onset of the genetic disorder. Fortunately, direct-to-consumer testing and subsequent follow-up actions that would now meet with the disapproval of the FDA have enabled me to completely reverse the condition. The direct-to-consumer DNA testing company that saved me originally was not 23andMe, although I did get confirmation from a 23andMe test very shortly after my original test. The company that did my original direct-to-consumer DNA test no longer offers this service at all because compliance with FDA regulations is too costly to make such a service feasible any longer.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Steps toward reconciliation:

Some people in the United States desire FDA protections and the super-abundance of caution that the FDA demands in medicine. Other people, like me, demand the freedom to make their own choices about what they put into their bodies or what tests they will allow to be done on their own bodies or to their own DNA and what information they will obtain.

One proposal has been to allow any medicine to be sold, but to give the FDA half of the label and to make sure that the consumer sees the FDA half of the label before using the medicine. So any kind of "snake oil" could be sold as long as the FDA severe warnings against using the medicine are prominently displayed on at least one-half of the label.

Another proposal is to allow people like me to formally opt out of FDA protection. This would allow anyone with the properly signed and notarized "official opt-out letter" to use FDA unapproved medicines or obtain FDA unapproved information (such as the health risk information from 23andMe). The letter would basically convey an understanding that the FDA considers certain medicines and certain information potentially dangerous, but the signer of the letter chooses to personally assume that risk on his own.

Although the FDA does have "compassionate use" exceptions, the regulatory nightmares are so overwhelming that most who can afford it, or can accumulate the funds from the charitable actions of others, simply choose the "medical tourism" option. Back in the days when I could afford it, I chose the medical tourism option myself for preventive purposes simply to prevent future health problems from occurring. Free people should not have to go to such lengths to avoid government meddling in their health care.

liddle-oldman said...

If the oceans die -- no, we will not remember those responsible by name, because we and all our descendants will be dead.

Anonymous said...

Why the preoccupation with left and right? Why does it have to be one way or the other. You people need to use your own mind and take the good ideas from both and not affiliate your self with labels.Move forward not backward.Devide and conquer is their montra.Be it "left" or "right". This country is going backwards in a hurry.Unions brought down the poor being demonized government being run blatantly by money.Left right give me a break.We need to get back to what is right and wrong.Not how much money I can acquire. At any cost.Human decency should be required to run for office.Every political ideology has something good in it.We need to find a middle ground.