Friday, August 14, 2015

Lessig for President? Let's struggle free of cheating, dogmatism and bought elections.

First, I am proud to know Harvard Law professor Larry Lessig, who has been the most successful opponent of big money in politics, gaining a following and some real traction in his campaign to raise public awareness.  Now Lessig  says that if he can crowdsource $1 million by Labor Day, he'll leave Harvard and enter the Democratic primaries. "He'd be a single-issue candidate, campaigning for a legislative package that would undo restrictive voting laws, make Election Day a national holiday, bar the gerrymandering of congressional districts, and finance elections through public matching funds or vouchers for small donors." 

Lessig's running mate would in-effect be the Real Candidate, because Larry intends to resign office the day after signing such a bill into law. A law that would then free up the political process to deal with all our other major issues, on a basis of negotiation on their merits, and not who has purchased the most politicians.  Secretly, many Senators and Congressfolk want this too, as it would eliminate the endless tedium of fundraising that now takes more of their time than legislating.


(Note: I just signed up for one of Larry's crowdfunding donations. I hope some of you will, as well. You only pay if he reaches his million dollar threshold.  Say I sent you!) See his book: Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress -- and a Plan to Stop It.

Yes!  This is exactly the sort of role I envision also for two other admirables who don't really want to serve -- Jerry Brown and Jon Stewart. Dive in guys! And show us what an idea fest the demo-party debates could be, as opposed to the 16 dwarves and Trump on the other side, mostly parroting whatever Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes tell them to... or else making Fox the issue, without shedding any real light.


== Trumpapalooza ==

The staying power of Donald Trump will not last, but it remains transfixing, the way you cannot tear your eyes away from a catastrophe.  This Salon article -- Donald Trump is the last whimper of the angry white man: What's really behind his stubborn lead -- plumbs some fascinating explanations:  "Two facts about all this deserve special notice. The first is that the tenor of Trump’s rhetoric has been directly related to the trend in his poll numbers — the wilder and harsher the former, the higher he has climbed in the latter. The second is the desperate (and largely futile) struggle of our political media to make some sense of the first fact."

Some attribute the pyrotechnic rage of lower-middle-class white males to an inchoate sense that the nation's demographics are removing their sense of entitled paramountcy. Others ascribe it blatantly to Rupert Murdoch's relentless -- Saudi funded -- assault on trust in any and all American institutions or loci of expertise (hence the "War on Science" actually includes all Smartypants Elites, from teachers and civil servants to economists and law professionals).  Or is it exactly and precisely the same syndrome that plantation lords used, to get a million poor whites to fight and die for them in one of the earlier phases of our ongoing civil war?

Can this demographic really forget that their fathers -- the soldiers and workers of the Greatest Generation -- adored one living human above all others -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt? (Whom Rupert's shills portray as Satan Incarnate)? Maybe, at a deep level, they remember this, and perhaps the favorite thing Trump is doing is spurning all the GOP's bribing fat cats (he can afford to) and finally casting doubt on the Cult of Fox?

There you have my advice for Donald Trump. Make Rupert Murdoch a core issue! Divert from the Fox pretty faces. Congratulate Megyn Kelly for her well-earned bonus. But Rupert has no loyal following. He has painted himself into a corner.  He and Roger Ailes are sitting ducks for a hunter who does not need their network or their money.


(Late word... now a few pundits are reversing themselves and wondering -- Might Donald Trump be the new Reagan? Yipe!)

== How ideology shapes our views ==

“One of the key trends in public opinion over the past few decades has been a growing divide among Republicans and Democrats into ideologically uniform “silos.” A larger share of the American public expresses issue positions that are either consistently liberal or conservative today than did so two decades ago, and there is more alignment between ideological orientation and party leanings.” -- Americans, Politics, and Science Issues, from the Pew Research Center.

When it comes to science, the results are mixed:  “Americans’ political leanings are a strong factor in their views about issues such as climate change and energy policy and whether government should finance research, but much less of a factor when it comes to issues such as food safety, space travel and biomedicine. At the same time, there are factors other than political party and ideology that shape the public’s often-complex views on science matters. For instance there are notable issues on which racial and generational differences are pronounced, separate and apart from politics.”

Again and again, I point out that we are navigating between a political Scylla and polemical Charybdis. And while the current version of (hijacked) American conservatism has gone flat-out loco… there are also some loonies on the other extreme who do less harm, but only quantitatively. Qualitatively – crazy is still crazy.

This invariably leads to mail, decrying that my attempts at “balance” break up what must be a uniform dogma, to oppose the right’s current madness. That breaking ranks hurts the good “side.” How ironic!  Since I do believe there is a level where war is a correct metaphor. And in this phase of the recurring American Civil War, it is imperative that the re-igniting Confederacy not prevail.

And yet, I have seen the wretched effects of left-wing insipidities. If it were only by serving as examples of PC-police bullying, for Beck and Hannity to point at while rallying their troops, that would be plenty.  But that isn’t the worst crime that leftists regularly commit.  The most harmful one is preaching endless gloom and despair.

I urge you all to read this eloquent and heartfelt and passionately intelligent essay - A letter to my dismal allies on the U.S. left - by one of the finest journalists in the world, Rebecca Solnit, who is definitely to the left of me. And yet, who shares my belief that our lefty allies regularly seek the sanctimony high of righteous gloom, and thus help demolish the very pragmatic, incremental reforms that can save and improve the world.  That have done so much to make life better for millions and billions, across the last several generations.  

“O rancid sector of the far left, please stop your grousing! Compared to you, Eeyore sounds like a Teletubby. If I gave you a pony, you would not only be furious that not everyone has a pony, but you would pick on the pony for not being radical enough until it wept big, sad, hot pony tears. Because what we're talking about here is not an analysis, a strategy, or a cosmology, but an attitude, and one that is poisoning us. Not just me, but you, us, and our possibilities.”

She goes on: “An undocumented immigrant writes me: "The Democratic party is not our friend: it is the only party we can negotiate with." Or as a Nevada activist friend put it: "Oh my God, go be sanctimonious in California and don't vote or whatever, but those bitching radicals are basically suppressing the vote in states where it matters."  And:  “People who told me back in 2000 that there was no difference between Bush and Gore never got back to me afterward.”

Do read this essay!  Pass the link around and keep it in your pocket to read aloud to these flakes, in fall of 2016. 

Nevertheless, I have a way to say it all more fiercely and penetratingly, with just five words:  

“It’s the Supreme Court, stupid.”

Our entire civilization teeters around getting those reforms of Larry Lessig passed, and especially getting Citizens United reversed, so that we do not descend into some kind of cyberpunk version of feudalism.  One party wants that to happen.  The other does not. And you prima donnas out there who think there is any justification for “they’re all the same”?  You are stupid-crazy people.

== What would a sincere conservatism try to do? ==

Back when conservatism still contained some cogent-sane elements, Barry Goldwater asked a significant question.  (Paraphrasing.)

“Let’s assume that the liberals see some genuine problems – poverty, tainted food, bad drugs, false advertising, unsafe factories, inadequate access to education and health care – but we on the right disdain paternalistic “solutions” that come via government’s alphabet soup.  Welfare, the FDA, FTC, OSHA, Medicare, and so on.

“Instead of denying problems exist… or vaguely arm-waving faith that blind markets will solve all things… shall we examine HOW markets  actually solve some problems?  And look at ways to enhance that process?”

It struck Barry G like a blow. Insurance. For those who can afford it, insurance creates a betting market that causes people to seriously re-assess their risk factors. Making it marginally less necessary for paternalistic government to do the same thing for you.  

Goldwater looked around and found one area wherein insurance companies were truly doing their jobs, actively working with clients to reduce risk exposure, and thus eliminating much government oversight. Industrial fire prevention. Through a number of very involved institutes, like Underwiters’ Labs… and by requiring meddlesome company inspections… the insurance industry had reduced bureaucratic supervision from Washington. The theory actually worked! 

So why hadn’t the same effect happened in other realms of insurance?  Why didn’t companies demand to see their clients’ refrigerators and medicine cabinets?  Might that cause the FDA to “wither away,” the way OSHA stopped bothering much with industrial fire prevention?  It sounded good, in theory!  Goldwater proposed to fund studies of how the insurance biz might be encouraged to move in this direction…

… and he got no support at all.  Not from democrats, who like their alphabet soup solutions… and none at all from republican colleagues, who got money from insurance executives who like things just as they are, with civil servants doing all the hard, regulatory work. Most surprisingly, Barry got no backing from libertarians!  Why, after all, try to tweak capitalism’s rules so that markets solve problems, when the far more satisfying incantation is to just screech at evil government, 24-7, and never admit that there are bona fide problems that need solving, one way or another.

Goldwater gave up.  And late in life he denounced the hijacking of his beloved conservatism by genuine monsters.

But let’s get back to insurance.  Have a look at this item “Rarely does a document prepared by an insurance group read like an apocalyptic screenplay. But it does happen. In this case, Lloyds, a storied insurance market put out a report outlining the potential global meltdown that could occur if parts of the food supply chain failed.

“So why do insurance companies care? Because they're the ones that are betting against disaster. If something goes wrong, they're the ones that have to pay out claims.”

93 comments:

sociotard said...

Citizen action and NASA, two things Brin loves!

Help Calibrate SMAP

Nasa just launched a satellite to judge soil moisture. To calibrate it, Nasa needs lots of soil samples. So, they're inviting people to find out when the satellite is flying over their area, then collect a sample, weigh it, dry it, weigh it again, and report it.

sociotard said...

Citizen action and NASA, two things Brin loves!

Help Calibrate SMAP

Nasa just launched a satellite to judge soil moisture. To calibrate it, Nasa needs lots of soil samples. So, they're inviting people to find out when the satellite is flying over their area, then collect a sample, weigh it, dry it, weigh it again, and report it.

David Burns said...

Don't Lessig's reforms seem rather insufficient, unconstitutional and half-hearted? Isn't he worried he may end up playing the role of Nader 2000?
Okay back to screeching at evil government, 24-7.

David Brin said...

DB nope, sorry. It is in the primaries that we get to try on ideas. I want MORE zealous idea pushers in the primaries! But in the general election, anyone who forget's the Supreme Court is the real issue is a fool. Vote for the dem even if it is a yellow dog.

Laurent Weppe said...

From the previous comment section:

* "There are two historic centers of empire in the region. There are the old Ottoman and Persian cores"

There are Three historic centers of empire in the region: the oldest one being smack in Iraq's middle.

*

* "That was a French and Italian thing and they both have delivered an impressively embarrassing performance"

France and Italy went in Libya dragging their feet: Neither Sarkozy nor Berlusconi wanted to oust Gaddafi (especially Sarko, who owed Gaddafi money): the french and italian government eventually turned against the lybian regime for two reasons: first, their obvious complacency toward the blatantly decadent middle-east kleptocracies was starting to seriously piss off their public opinion, and second, Gaddafi ordering his troops to slaughter the population of Benghazi freaked out european diplomats who told their elected bosses that if the libyan regime crushed this uprising by slaughtering the population of a major urban center, it would guarantee that the next libyan uprising would make genociding Gaddafi's western power base its top priority, if not its raison d'être. These two factors convinced the governments at the time to assist the rebellion, but they did so reluctantly and by committing as little forces and resources as possible.

Alfred Differ said...

@Laurent Weppe: The third core is essentially indefensible in modern times. I would count it like you suggest, but then I'd have to consider Greece a viable core for empire. History has left both in the dust because defensive technologies are expensive and that means the core group has to generate excess wealth enough to pay for it all.

(In this sense, the US heartland is the Mississippi river basin. It is easily defended nowadays and generates a huge fraction of our excess wealth.)


The embarrassment in Libya isn't a moral one. It's a functional one. Once committed to conflict, it was a poor performance. Obviously, few in the EU remember how to wage war (at a distance) effectively. I'm not complaining, though. I'd rather that was the case.

Regarding genocides, I think it is time we let some borders become fluid. We don't want genocides, so it is time to tolerate the break-up of some states... maybe even encourage it.

Alfred Differ said...

I don't think I'm going to support a candidate who plans to resign. Sorry. I'd rather he ran for a state-level office and drove his points home locally. Gerrymandering is a lot of local problems with local solutions. I get his point about money in the primaries, but I think the solution lies in local offices and not at the federal level.

Paul451 said...

Aftermath of the Tianjin explosion, video of the transport terminal from a nearby elevated freeway: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJHxi3p1Vm4

David Brin said...

AD: the purpose of early primaries should be to discuss ideas. Lessig's aim is to get the meme rolling.
As for Libya, I do not understand why Europe is not sub rosa bribing Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia to roll in.

Laurent Weppe said...

"I would count it like you suggest, but then I'd have to consider Greece a viable core for empire."

But you do, since you consider the Sea of Marmara a viable core.

Alfred Differ said...

The Sea of Marmara makes sense because it is defensible without the expense the Greeks would face with their islands. It is an empire core because of it's proximity to the lower Danube. The core is just a core without a nearby region that is worth taking and is populated by people who would acquiesce if given an opportunity to join the empire as citizens instead of slaves. The Greeks have nowhere to go like that. The peoples of Mesopotamia ARE the people to be included in either a Persian expansion or an Ottoman expansion, but the Persian version makes more sense in terms of geopolitics.

The old Greek core makes sense as tribal strongholds that could have a long reach in the absence of stronger cores. Even the old Egyptian core can't match the Sea of Marmara as evidenced by how long that arm of the Roman empire survived.

Mesopotamia is a region to be taken much like the Danube.

Alfred Differ said...

@David: I sincerely hope Lessig's ideas get discussed then. I would hope the Libertarians would help a bit since there is some overlap, but I don't think they'll understand. They demand too much purity. 8)

I'll go see about pledging some money.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Talking about the US elections
As you know I am well to the "left" of most of the USA and even those in this forum.
I listened to the Republican debate
Damn me if the only one of those clowns that I could ever see myself voting for wasn't the Donald

In the case of the Donald he does make sense about health and taxation
(bit inarticulate but sensible)
He is appalling about immigrants

The rest of them are appalling about EVERYTHING

Anonymous said...

Gloom and despair motivate me to vote for democrats; while I hold little hope that they will make things better, I'm damned sure the republicans will make things worse.

Paul SB said...

"Qualitatively – crazy is still crazy."

Would we rather be led by sociopaths or people who have manic disorder? The specific form that insanity takes matters.

locumranch said...


I always chuckle when someone nominates the putative 'honest man' for president. especially when it's a given (if we are to believe the great white socialist hope, Bernie Sanders) that the US Congress is bought & paid for by billionaires, oligarchs & corporate interests, mostly because no one (including the socialists) trust the honest man to act in the selfish (best) interests of themselves, their owners & their masters, as any large government invariably takes the form of Hobbes Levithan, devoid of summum bonum, wherein good and evil are nothing more than terms used to denote an individual's appetites and desires, wherein the righteously stalwart man (with his idealised moral compass) tends toward either (Jimmy_Carter-ish) incapacity and/or (GW_Bush-like) tyranny, being incapable of contractual compromise, much in the same way that our host justifies the tyrannical "imposition of imperial will" (in order to deliver) "a murdered and oppressed people from a vicious tyrant that they uniformly hate" into the arms of yet another tyrant who they will surely greet as liberators.

Meet the New Boss (David B), same as the Old Boss (George W), because we WILL get fooled again -- yes. yes -- by looking to the Leviathan of Big Government to 'liberate us' through the JUSTIFIED (??) imposition of the Imperial Will (aka 'Big Government') in an eternal cycle of political insanity.


Best

locumranch said...



Whether we are led by sociopaths, the manic disordered, the sane or the honest, it makes no difference because it is "The specific form that insanity takes (that) matters", that 'form' being the Hobbesian Leviathan.

David Brin said...

The chief difference is pragmatic. Democratic politicians include (as opposed to consist entirely of) some corrupt folks of varied types. But most of them share a hatred of having to spend half their waking hours fundraising. The true difference is not classic "left-right" but manic-depressive. The dems nearly all are manic and desperately want to hold hearings, negotiate, and legislate. Since we are almost crippled by decades of stymied political process, their side of this ailment is what's desperately needed, even if some well-meant endeavors are later found to be flawed and needing course correction.

The depressive party... the GOP... has had its way, locking our political processes in rigor mortis, dogmatic rigidity, and endless cycles of fund-raising, for far too long.The sclerotic death of politics, as a problem-addressing method, is tantamount to treason. But it has served the purposes of the party's owners. Oligarchs who were the ONLY beneficiaries of the 6 years when the GOP controlled every lever of American life and could pass any measure it wished... but only passed (1) Cheney-Iran benefiting wars and (2) gifts to the rich.

Not one item on the wish list of the middle-class Republican ground troops was given more than lip service. Any reason they are flocking to Trump?

If a dem -- any dem -- wins in 2016, the subsequent supreme court appointees will vote to restore politics as a functioning tool of our civilization, reversing Citizens United, gerry mandering and super pacs. If a dem congress gets in, there will be laws limiting money flow to politicians. Even if they lose in 2018, then, it will be a different playing field. One in which people have some say. And THAT is why they are not "the same."

Jumper said...

A flawed analogy is such a ramshackle, ugly thing. Once again, we have some sort of apparent hint that locumranch considers modern government to have some similarity with Hobbe's Leviathan, and yet no elucidation on the rather obvious differences. Not only that, Hobbes' call for absolute rulers rings more in harmony with Treebeard and locumranch's own past attempts at cerebration. So it's all muddled, incoherent, foggy and unclear. What a waste.

David Brin said...

Given that negotiated course correction is absolutely forbidden by the GOP, I remain astounded by how well-crafted the ACA-Obamacare seems to be. It truly seems to have been set up with inbuilt correction mechanisms that have made it generally functional under a very wide range of conditions, having kept its promises to insure more people while slowing the cost-rise rocket. Would Politics likely improve it? Sure. But for that to happen, the GOP would have to do a swivel dance and finally admit... no AVOW -- that --

"Hey, It was always OUR own damn plan, all along!"

locumranch said...


The 'Leviathan' is an excellent government analogy for the following reasons: First, there is 'Leviathan' by Hobbes, perhaps the most representative treatise on the western social contract; second, there is the biblical 'Leviathan', a monstrosity controllable only by God; and, third there is the 'American Leviathan: The Republic of the Machine Age' (circa 1930). It is important to note that "the utility function of the agents is not identical with that of the ruler”, meaning that bureaucratic form is more determinative of governance than its titular head.

To put it more simply: It's the SYSTEM, stupid, so elect whomever you want knowing that NOTHING WILL CHANGE as long as the system remains intact

David knows this, of course, otherwise he wouldn't have made a minor bureaucratic functionary (a glorified FAKE delivery boy) the savior of humanity in The Postman.

CHANGE, my posterior. In everything except the so-called 'Affordable Care Act', we may as well have elected George W Bush (the giver of Medicare part D) for a third & fourth term, the only cause for HOPE being system failure followed by democratic reboot.


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Susan Watson said...

The ACA establishes a systems of "weight and measures" so that merchant's products may be compared directly, then steps back and lets the market do its magic thing. This is classic good government... Of course it worked!

First the ACA established scales of standardized services in the medical insurance realm through a process of negotiation with providers, then it defined standardized transactions using these newly transparent costs and benefits.

Now consumers have verified information that can be used to compare products and make choices. The final piece, a web-based delivery platform for that information, was the least important but most visible part of the system. The ACA works because they got the scopes of transactions right not because of the publishing mechanism.

Susan Watson said...

Re next election: How about Dem candidate Kirsten Gillibrand with campaign manager Jon Stewart?

David Brin said...

First, taken in the perspective of what's preferable or logical, I utterly despise the ACA. It is simply what was possible. It incrementally made a horrid system much less horrid.

How unsurprising we have a Hobbes fan. As simplistic and lobotomizing in one excess direction as Rousseau was, in the other. Locke has been proved over and over and over again. But there's a problem. Those who can understand Locke... and all the spectacular successes that followed, have to start by grasping the concept of positive sums. If those neurons are missing, I suppose your only option is one form or another of black-white romanticism. Guys, this is an occasion for empathy and pity, not rebuke.

Tacitus2 said...

I have been more productively occupied during the last few discussions, but can spare a few minutes tonight.

First, regards ACA, Dude, you seem overly optimistic. The full price tag is yet to be determined. Of course you can reduce the rates of the uninsured. But at what cost. Cost in dollars, cost in other things those dollars could have bought. Time will tell but it will be years.

More immediately, a few thoughts on the Political Season, specifically the Primaries. I think I will break this into three parts for clarity.

Trump

Anything is possible in America. Even the possibility of Donald Trump being a serious candidate and eventually being elected President. Under 1% odds, sure, but to be complete I will list that. But more likely:

Trump as a shill. Conservative writers make much of phone calls between Trump and Bill Clinton shortly before the former tossed his toupee into the ring. As a way to harm Republican prospects this has something to recommend it. I personally think that the actual support Trump has among Republicans is near zero, but you can make a Potempkin High Rise out of this. Hire some actors to appear at your launch event ( other rallies too?), game the polls a little, maybe some party crossing Primary Voters....
This is all entirely legal, if not very nice. Media types who favor the Donkey brand are certainly not going to throw him any indigestible questions.

Trump as Egomaniac. Narcissistic Personality Disorder is pretty common among Pols, Reality TV stars and high level business people. He might just be on a major ego trip. Shame he is making a mess of our electoral system in the short term, but Narcissists don't care about anybody else.

Trump as Delusional Nutter. He might actually think he has a shot at election.

What grudging approval I see from conservatives for The Donald is mostly that he is not afraid to speak plainly. Hell, why not? In all of the above scenarios he would not see anything wrong with saying anything that gets him more of what he craves like an addict late for his fix....attention.

Tacitus

Tacitus2 said...

The Democratic Field

These are just my opinions, and I get one vote like all of you (at least US commentators).
Hillary Clinton has too much baggage. I asked in an earlier thread if any of you would tolerate a Republican candidate for President who had - apparently - used an off the books email system and then pretty much said the dog ate her homework as SecState. Also, there are too many links between Clinton Foundation and political favors. Also, I have a lingering suspicion, clinically, that her prior neurologic event did a little more that she is fessing up to. When fatigued she seems a bit sluggish and appears to still have a little diplopia. We do take risks putting older folks in charge of the nuclear codes, a reality that y'all mentioned more than once when John McCain was the candidate. Those of the D fellowship of course may select the person of their choice. But I think H will have some serious headwinds in the General Election.

Joe Biden. I actually respect him a lot. He has had more tragedy in his life than a man should endure. I also think he is a man of principles, less beholden to the rich and powerful than for instance, Hillary. He certainly has the experience. But again, he is an older fellow and I also wonder about his past issues (ruptured brain aneurysm and surgery). Does his lack of verbal inhibition stem from it? Just speaking clinically again, minor deficits unmask with age. Actually a stronger candidate than Hillary in my opinion, but General Election issues.

Regards Lessig, sure, time for fresh ideas. I would like to see Webb or O'Malley rise to the fore. I think Eliz Warren represents a valid set of ideas. But a one term Senator with limited national appeal....might not fly.

Tacitus

David Brin said...

Sorry Tacitus that all sounds like denial. How about this theory... that one part of Trump's VERY large polling among white males is that he seems completely unafraid. And another part comes from the same sense that a lot of Confederate soldiers were realizing, by 1864. That the plantation lords (or Rupert Murdoch) were and remain anything but their actual friends.

Conspiracy? Feh! (1) it is Trumps WORDS that have drawn him support! Even if he were just mouthing them, the words are connected to the millions who support him. He touches what they believe.

(2) For folks who glue themselves to a network that pours deliberate lies financed by Saudi Arabia to talk to us about conspiracies is truly rich.

Tacitus2 said...

Republican field

Trump does serve to make other candidates look more sane, there is that to say for him. Currently rising on the "market" Kasisch and Fiona. I like both although the latter is more glitz (and X chromosome to counter Hillary) than accomplishment. Walker seems too boring and in fact, probably is too boring. Bush might outlast the field but it is hard to see him being elected. Rubio perhaps as VP. Say what you like about the packed field, the first debate did draw a very large audience. People are paying attention.

My dream match up? Kasisch and Suzanna Martinez versus Webb and either of the Castro brothers.

You get your own dreams, and your own vote.

Tacitus

David Brin said...

Hillary's baggage? I somewhat agree, but not over the "issues" slung at her, which are mostly tempests in teapots. Benghazi? Compared to ANY SINGLE MONTH under either Bush? Emailgate? Are you so so kidding us?

Hey, she'd probably be a fine president and have zero learning curve (Obama only came into his own recently.)

But yes. There is no way ANYONE on the right will ever negotiate with here about anything, ever. If she says it is day they will stab their own eyes to make it night. I'd rather judo around that, if possible.

Jerry knows judo. Jerry IS judo.

Tacitus2 said...

David

As I said, just my opinions, you are entitled to your own. But I have yet to meet one single, solitary person who says they would under any circumstances vote for Donald Trump. I think he is a creation of the media Silly Season with a bit of political skulduggery and a big dollop of his own blowhard ego. Lets wait and see.

But don't claim him as being representative of Conservatism. In that I say, you are wrong. Trump says this and that for reasons that make sense only to him. imho

Tacitus

Tacitus2 said...

So David. Raise your right hand into a boy scout gesture and swear to me that if a Republican kept all their official government communications on a private server, then tried to tell you that they sorted out the yoga routines and wedding plans and gave you what was left....that you would take their word for it? Seriously?
Of course she scrubbed it. In her view anything light grey would be attacked by the VRWC (vast right wing conspiracy). That might even be true. But, hand raised now remember, would you stomach this from a Republican high level cabinet member?
I also think her foreign policy chops are mediocre but that is another matter.
Patiently awaiting. Making sure not to have a mouth full of beverage when I read your reply...

Tacitus
ps, did you miss me a little?

Paul451 said...

Tacitus2,
The reason no-one takes your if-a-Republican-did-it "challenge" seriously is because the rest of us remember what the Republicans actually did.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

I asked in an earlier thread if any of you would tolerate a Republican candidate for President who had - apparently - used an off the books email system and then pretty much said the dog ate her homework as SecState.


Excuse me, but didn't we have a vice president and a presidential chief of staff who did just that very thing when W was president? The Republican outrage over Hillary's e-mail server sounds to me a little too much like the outrage over President Obama's use of executive orders from those who applauded W's signing statements.

I may have an atypical view on this issue from either party, but I don't see why all e-mails within a department should be public in the first place? A case could be made for finalized memos which dictate policy being part of the public record. But all the sort of back-and-forth conversation that goes on ahead of time? Why should anyone consider it their right to eavesdrop on such things? And why is it such a crime for people to find ways of communicating with each other outside the jurisdiction of eavesdroppers?

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

But I have yet to meet one single, solitary person who says they would under any circumstances vote for Donald Trump. I think he is a creation of the media Silly Season with a bit of political skulduggery and a big dollop of his own blowhard ego. Lets wait and see.


I'd be more amused by Trump's run for president if I didn't remember similar scoffing about the possibility of Ronald Reagan actually being elected? I don't really think it will happen, but if enough people get drunk on election night and vote for Trump as a practical joke, we might wake up with one heck of a hangover.

It actually did occur to me that Trump is more sympathetic to liberals than he lets on, and that his candidacy is intended to hurt the Republican Party. But if so, I don't think it was engineered by the Democrats. I think Trump himself is calling the shots.

Do you actaully disbelieve the polls that show him ahead of any other Republicans in the primary races? I'm sure the media love all the hoopla, but are they actually conspiring to make up his numbers?


ps, did you miss me a little?


More than a little.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Those of the D fellowship of course may select the person of their choice. But I think H will have some serious headwinds in the General Election.


I thought so too in 2008. She's changed my mind since then. I'm more sympathetic to Bernie Sanders as a candidate, but if Hillary is the eventual Democratic nominee, I don't see how anything will stop her from winning in the general.

To use a sports metaphor, "She wants it more." And while I don't consider that to be a good way to elect a head of state, it seems to be the world we live in. Ironic as all hell if "Citizens United" ends up giving us President Hillary.

In any case, the specific shortcomings of a Democratic nominee are almost trivial to me. There's no way I'm going to vote for a Republican for president or congress. That was not always the case, but has been since the Gingrich revolution and the Clinton impeachment. W, Cheney, and Karl Rove only cemented my opposition further.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Currently rising on the "market" Kasisch and Fiona. I like both although the latter is more glitz (and X chromosome to counter Hillary) than accomplishment.

I don't see Carly Fiorina as the nominee for the same reason I couldn't see Herman Cain as such last time around. The only thing the Republicans had going to get the base out was fear and loathing of the Black Guy. Running a different black guy against him wouldn't have helped. Same with running another woman against Hillary.

Kasich, I have to admit is surprising me with some pragmatic (rather than dogmatic) policy positions. I'll go so far as to say that, of all the Republican candidates on stage, I'd be least concerned if he was actually elected. Not a great endorsement, but that's the best a Republican gets from me these days.

Walker seems too boring and in fact, probably is too boring.


Your governor shares a trait with Chris Christie in my eyes, which is that of appealing to his supporters by virtue of how combative he can be toward a subgroup which his supporters also dislike, but who really should be considered constitutents rather than enemies. I understand what he meant by saying that his taking on of unions demonstrates his ability to take on terrorists, but I find it wrong and offensive to treat fellow citizens of his state the same way he'd treat enemy combatants in a real war.

Thankfully (from my pov), I think you are right. He comes across as deadly dull. Not likely to inspire on the national level.


Say what you like about the packed field, the first debate did draw a very large audience. People are paying attention.


You don't think the large audience was because of Trump?

Jumper said...

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/colin-powell-personal-email-secretary-of-state-115707.html
Colin Powell's secretive "lost" emails. Actually, it was normal and no one cares.

David Brin said...

Tacitus you are right this topic is relatively fact free, when it comes to handicapping elections. (I got tons of facts when it comes to assessing that your party is detached from reality on every issue, that Fox is treason and that OUTCOMES are universally better under dems… but those are different topics.)

“But don't claim him as being representative of Conservatism.” Heck man, I claim that NONE of the current republican politicians are representative of sane-patriotic conservatism. But I never made that claim for Trump. Only that his polling numbers show that white lowe-middle class males tend to like the cut of his jib and the rants of his mouth.

I have no problems with opponents yelling that Hillary should not have kept state emails on a private server. But tell me this… WHAT the f are you implying? Deliberate treason? The upshot is that it was a dumb mistake in process. And Yes! That should count against her. To about the same degree as W making unwanted physical contact with a woman foreign leader. A ding...worth remembering and tallying! But a third level ding.

Now show me the foreign policy disasters that compare with the CENTERPIECES of both previous Bush Administrations, which became stunning strategic losses and stupendously costly reamings of our nation.

“The reason no-one takes your if-a-Republican-did-it "challenge" seriously is because the rest of us remember what the Republicans actually did”

Whaaaa? What does that mean? I never made such a challenge. I focus on challenges that matter. Like actual outcomes.

Oh… Fiorina? A talentless blowhard without an accomplishment to her name. We know her well in CA.

Kasich?
Trying very hard in the primaries to HINT that “I might be the one sane fellow here onstage.” But only hint. Because if he said openly “Hey look at me, I am actually sane,” he would die on the vine. That’s not what you proclaim in a mental asylum.

David Brin said...

"Kasich, I have to admit is surprising me with some pragmatic (rather than dogmatic) policy positions. I'll go so far as to say that, of all the Republican candidates on stage, I'd be least concerned if he was actually elected. Not a great endorsement, but that's the best a Republican gets from me these days."

I'd rather have Trump, for one reason. Sure, Trump is awful! But he'd not bring into office with him the entire panoply of Bushite factotums, who immediately surrounded McCain and Romney, the instant they were nominated. So much for being "mavericks."

Let us be clear. You aren't just electing a president but an administration. And the Bushites are the most horrid gang of nation-rapists we have seen since the 1920s and probably the 1870s. They were DIRECTLY involved in "advising" Boris Yeltsin in his transition to capitalism, that led within ONE year to every Russian being robbed of their shares in state companies and the whole schmeer being owned by 100 oligarchs and their secret western backers. These are the geniuses who either lied about Iraqi WMDs or else (far worse) actually BELIEVED their fairy tales.

Just you watch in one year's time. Whoever the GOP nominates will be instantly surrounded by that clade, not one of which is morally or intellectually qualified to run a dog pound. JD Powers independently studies administrations. They found Bill Clinton's to have been the cleanest and best managed since records were adequate... and both Bushes to be near the very bottom.

Are there republicans who are simultaneously honest, sane and competent? Yes! We have some in California, where Guv Ahnold wept out the Foxites and nurtured a large coterie of moderate conservatives. And our new electoral laws have so encouraged moderation that the Republicans in the Assembly now have MORE influence than before, despite the dems having 2/3. Negotiation goes on, day and night and screaming is almost nonexistent. And sane conservatives like Tacitus SHOULD WANT THAT! In order to save their movement and bring it back from zombie-hood.

Yes, many of the worst Bushites are aging out. But their younger replacements are if anything more radical than ever. They do not even remember a time when negotiation happened as a norm.

Brown vs. Schwarznegger in 2016!

Paul SB said...

I'm pretty sure we've discussed Hobbes, Rousseau & Locke here before. They make for an interesting trio, though more in terms of what they reveal about their adherents. Hobbes, of course, was quite the thinker for the 17th Century, but that isn't saying a whole lot. He was entirely limited by his times, making the same assumptions that were common in his day. The idea that we are all "naturally" evil should be obvious propaganda to us today. This idea of "original sin" was designed to support tyrannical government, originally theocratic government, which is what nearly all government was until the revolutions of the 18th Century. People are naturally evil, so they need a higher authority (god-kings or priest kings through most of history) to control them and force them to be civil. So a Hobbesian approach is really a vote for the Divine Right of Kings. You couldn't get much more conservative than that without going back to prehistory.

Rousseau was a reactionary, and like most reactionaries his view was diametrically opposite Hobbes'. He traded the false conception of Hobbes (really of all civilization up to that point) with a false dichotomy. In a way it was a necessary evil, as it probably needed such diametric thinking to start to break down a hegemony that went all the way back to Ur. I don't know if Claude Lévi-Strauss ever discussed these two, but I can imagine his ghost must be nodding his head in whatever afterlife is accorded social scientists.

Locke is more interesting in that he did not do the expected thing, which would be to find some middle ground between the two extremes. Instead he took a 90˚ turn, focusing on what a neuroscientist today would call plasticity. Locke's view was that people are not "naturally" good or evil, they are tabula rasa, blank slates upon which society can write anything they wish. If society teaches them to be evil, they will become evil, and if society teaches them to be good, they will become good.

Paul SB said...

So which is right? As far as the science is concerned, there is some right and some wrong in all of them. Locke may be the closest to correct, given how myelination proceeds in normal human brains (and several of our closest kin). Humans are quite flexible by nature. However, they also have many instincts which limit that flexibility, and which you could choose to label "good" or "evil" however your culture dictates. Science cannot make value judgements, but many scientists chose to see pro-social instincts as "good" and anti-social instincts as "evil." I've discussed my issue with this approach before, but if we go with it, there are a couple conclusions that seem fairly clear. For one, humans do both pro- and anti-social things. Since we have yet to exactly identify genes for specific behaviors, the only reasonable conclusion is that humans have both. Those who see human nature as all good miss how easily people resort to dishonesty and violence, while those who think the other way miss the obvious, too. When you see little kids playing, most adults will smile at them (unless the kids are being especially loud). They are not smiling because they are imagining cooking the kids up, they are smiling because they have a natural instinct to like offspring of their own species (and often others, too). The Hobbesians are trapped by their own negativity bias into focusing on the bad and ignoring the good.

In terms of how these philosophies translate into politics, obviously Hobbes goes for dictatorship, Rousseau for a republic ruled by the intelligentsia (who can guide society away from the evils it has traditionally forced upon people), and Locke, well, he said he was for full democracy, but I don't see that it necessarily follows. However, people who consider themselves Lockian tend to be supporters of democracy, and I am okay with that. It would be tempting to characterize Liberals as Rousseauian (Manic disorder), Conservatives as Hobbesian (Sociopaths) and Libertarians as more directly Lockian.

However, the science does not support either of these positions fully, not even the Lockian. I personally found that the more science I learned, the harder it became to embrace anyone's political agenda, because it became clear that all of them were playing fast and loose with the facts, assuming they even knew the facts, which is a huge assumption with politicians. It's like those old bumper stickers that used to say "My Karma ran over my Dogma" except that it was more that paying attention to the facts ran over my dogma.

David Brin said...

I wish libertarians were still Lockean. Alas, they are largely Randian.

But Paul, I think you misread Locke a bit. He admitted wee have our inherent Hobbesean devils. But pointed out that the accountability that keeps them in check is more generally reciprocal than top-down. And that the devils ABOVE us absolutely need accountability to be reciprocal. And when this happens, we have opportunities to cooperate and be nice.

Tacitus2 said...

No, I am most certainly not suggesting treason. I use that word seldom if ever.
Hillary is in a.....complicated situation. I think she was very sloppy and that there are connections between things she did as Sec State, things she did as part of the Clinton Foundations, things she did as undeclared Candidate. This is not surprising or even wrong, although sometimes decisions as SecState appear to correlate with donations to the Foundation. I can believe corruption, but perhaps of the sort that is considered business as usual in DC. Or Little Rock.
Hillary as a politician, ie the positions she held as Senator, is reasonably palatable.
But I do think she Deep Sixed official correspondence for her own political advantage. And I think if you were being dead honest, you would scorch a Republican candidate down to the bedrock she stood on for doing the same thing. And I do worry about Clinton and Biden's neurological fitness. We have had a few Presidents who have been off a bit, Reagan late in his second term, of course Woodrow Wilson. I would prefer younger ideas, new blood.

Perhaps we differ here. I hold that a behaviour is wrong no matter which party label you wear. If the Nixon admin weaponizes the IRS it is wrong. No matter what I think about Citizens United, Lois Lerner and cronies were just as wrong. Hillary is Rosemary Woods for the modern era.

You later seem to be confusing something Paul SB said with my earlier posts.

And to partially answer another point, Libya is a fetid, stinking mess right now. So is Iraq, but I won't count that against the current admin. The reset with Russia is not going well.

Well, its late for non ER denizens. Signing off.

Tacitus

Tacitus2 said...

Oh, I understand Hillary looked pretty good in Iowa yesterday. I will be down that way later in the week. Perhaps I can be the Contrary Brin field reporter....

"Yep, them fields of corn are lookin' good".

Tacitus

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

Perhaps we differ here. I hold that a behaviour is wrong no matter which party label you wear. If the Nixon admin weaponizes the IRS it is wrong. No matter what I think about Citizens United, Lois Lerner and cronies were just as wrong. Hillary is Rosemary Woods for the modern era.


Of course bad behavior is wrong no matter which side does it. That should be as unnecessary to state as it is pointless. The issue is whether the specifics each side are accused of actually carry the same weight.

For several years now, I've noticed that Republicans accuse Democrats of doing what Republicans themselves actually do, or would do in the same situation. Thus, Obama must have used the IRS to crack down specifically on the Tea Party because that's exactly what a Republican would have done in the same situation. That particular issue seems to be a personal bete noire with you, Tac, so I doubt it will affect your opinion if I point out once again that Darryl Issa skewed the evidence--that the IRS looked for evidence of any overt political affiliation in tax-exempt groups, but Issa compiled a list of only the cases involving the Tea Party, and then used that evidence to "prove" that the IRS singled out the Tea Party. I'm not defending the Democrats by claiming it's ok when they do wrong. I'm saying I take accusations by the Breitbart Party with many grains of salt.

Hillary as Rosemary Wood is an interesting comparison. Nixon erased tapes that he himself recorded on his own. Would it have been a crime to not make those tapes in the first place? That's why I don't really care about any -gate scandal involving hiding of internal communications. Something resembling "lawyer-client priviilege" or "doctor-client privilege" should exist for communications among fellow staff members. The deliberate erasing looks like one is covering up, and an observer can't help but view that with suspicion. I'm with Dr Brin on this one--it's a low level ding. Having her own e-mail server for a measure of privacy is no different from what Cheney and Rove actually did do. And I smirked at them for it, but (for once) wasn't all riled up about it. It's a big "meh" to me.

Tacitus2 said...

Yes, we differ somewhat here. I am quite concerned about politcal "weaponization" of the Justice Dept and IRS. I may be overly concerned but I am sure you concur that it is at least a plausible danger.

I will have to look into the Cheney parallel. Can't get to that today though.

Tacitus

Jumper said...

Don't forget the accompanying meme: anyone defending the IRS, or defending Clinton, must be doing it for partisan reasons, and can therefore be ignored.
I think both of those, and Benghazi too, are bullshit, and I have a record of defending some of the darnedest people when I know they are being shafted, including Gov. Palin, whom I despise but recognize when the unfair charge gets thrown. ("What is your opinion of the Bush Doctrine?" "Um..." really was a "gotcha." Bush spending time in Crawford likely meant nothing in itself. John McCain really was a hero. Romney really is a crook - oops, that last is not a positive.)

Robert said...

What I find curious is that there is a blanket dismissal of Sanders, the candidate who is polling second behind Clinton, has a record that shows he votes for his beliefs unlike far too many other politicians, and is drawing larger crowds this early in the game.

Look at Trump. At this point people are starting to go "wait... what if Trump ends up winning?" And yet he was dismissed for quite a while as an ego-tripping idiot, and whose one saving grace is he speaks his mind.

Sanders believes in what he says. There is excitement in what he says... and he is drawing more and more people, this early in the game. And yet Dr. Brin considers some guy who is kickstarting his possible inclusion in the Democratic Primary rather than talking about a serious candidate who is now polling first in New Hampshire and is building momentum in Iowa... who may very well catch the very same winds that propelled a young black Senator from Illinois into the Presidency.

And yet Dr. Brin dismisses him as unworthy of mentioning, while commenting on Trump.

Curious.

Rob H.

P.S. - Tacitus, it is good to see you back. Still, I am curious as to you talking about Biden, who hasn't tossed his hat into the ring, and yet never even mention Sanders in passing.

P.P.S. - In all likelihood I'll be voting for the proper Libertarian Party candidate as my vote doesn't matter in Mass. - but for the Primary, I'll vote Sanders. Because of all the candidates... he seems the most sane, and the one person to believe, truly believe, what he says. Also, I suspect that Republicans will be willing to work with an old white-haired socialist more than a Clinton.

Tacitus2 said...

quick thoughts between things.

Bernie is a man who has sincere beliefs. He is an asset to our system in that he can say things others would not dare to say. He is said to have terrible arthritis and be in continuos pain. He would have a hard time serving four years in the most draining, life destroying job on earth. But I salute him. I also doubt America is ready for a real socialist.

Regards Biden, talk of him flows naturally from discussion of Hillary's issues. I worry about his ability to serve ably but I respect him and what he has gone through. Now, there is talk of his making a one term pledge and picking one of the "almost ready" folks might be the Dem path out of this mess. Biden-Warren, Biden-Klobuchar, etc. Could work well..

Tacitus

David Brin said...

I got nothing against Bernie Sanders. I am inherently skeptical of the True Left, which is only somewhat tainted with dogmatic lunacy - maybe 1% as much as today's Entire Right. Still, forgive me Rob, for sniffing and wrinkling my nose. A little.

In fact, Sanders's actual policy wish list is not bad. I am skeptical of ANY one with zero real executive office experience being qualified for president... but that would include Barack Obama in 2008 and give a pass to both Bushes and Reagan. So it ain't a major litmus test. Bernie is OLD... but I've been touting Jerry Brown.

I wish Jim Webb didn't LOOK so strange.

Anyway, as I said. I'd vote for a yellow dog over any of the frothing monsters offered up by the GOP.

David Brin said...

Tacitus, you reflect the current conservative obsession with symbolism over substance. I tend to weight political events by their actual OUTCOMES. And hence your accusation that I am a hypocrite... that I'd not forgive a Republican who used the wrong email server to store state messages... is ludicrous hogwash.

I defended Ronald Reagan when he stumbled over foreign names and his "evil empire" remark was absolutely spot on. I told folks to ignore "Poppy" Bush senior's similar gaffes and I spent years urging patience to see if his "experts" would actually help Yeltsin make a successful transition. I shrugged off Bush Jr groping foreign leaders. You are dead wrong.

There are no known or even theoretical OUTCOMES to fret over the email thing. It is simply grabbing at straws.Like the notion that anything could have been done about Benghazi, when the local ambassador made a brave-foolish decision to visit the consulate with stunningly ill conceived security. Yes? And compare that OUTCOME to a dozen far worse mistakes under Bush?

The IRS-gate thing is drivel. Sure, catch the political stupidity of choosing more right wing PACs for IRS scrutiny than left wing ones -- a 2:1 ratio -- yep that was wrong. Fire people. Only dig it, there were zero negative OUTCOMES for those groups. They were chosen for an added, cursory eyeballing that had zero actual effects. Sure catch and fire the low level, overzealous twits who did that. But Really? THAT is your smoking gun?

You'd compare that to the fact that GW Bush... the moment he entered office, transferred dozens of agents from anti-terror duties to looking (futilely) for any Clintonite felonies to prosecute... during the 8 months leading to 9/11?

Um... Outcomes?

Paul SB said...

Dr.Brin, I'll (gladly) take your word on John Locke. I haven't sat down and read him since I was an undergrad history student, somewhere in the neighborhood of 25 years ago. I stick to my contention, though, that science rarely supports any political platform, because reality is complex but people naturally seek simple answers from their leaders (and by extension, candidates). Besides, I enjoy looking at people's unquestioned assumptions and teasing out the implications they usually don't see.

Tacitus, I hope I'm not muddling things for you and Larry. If you could explain what Larry said that you think is a confusion of your position, I'll see if I can do something to clear the waters a bit. However, I will be back to combat in a pair of Mondays and with teaching classes I haven't taught before, I will soon have little time for this forum.

Later!

Tacitus2 said...

I am not sure there is any disagreement. Larry and I have slightly different concerns but I respect his.

I also am at work and can't parse out what David is saying. He seems upset about something.

Tacitus

David Brin said...

Oh no you don't, Tacitus! I am chuckling and having fun. And way too busy to be upset. Iuse all-caps sometimes because it brings out the important thing. Have a great sunday.

Jumper said...

I do agree with Tacitus on the danger of electing the very elderly to the Presidency. One reason I supported Obama and still do: he has the stamina. Which is why I so much want Sen. Franken to run. He has the intellect and the values I support, he's a bridge-builder between the parties as much as he can, and he's young enough to take the strain of the demanding job.

Jumper said...

Trump popular among 12-year-olds and Russian sock puppets. (My interpretation.) Or if you prefer Forbes' headline: "Study: Less Than 40% Of Donald Trump's Twitter Following Is Eligible To Vote"
http://www.forbes.com/sites/abigailtracy/2015/08/14/study-less-than-40-of-donald-trumps-social-audience-is-eligible-to-vote/

Tacitus2 said...

David
Glad you are having a fun Sunday. Me, not so much. Special of the day is anaphylaxis from bee stings. Four this afternoon. My ability to chat from work is very limited, one old laptop with a sticky U key. 'Fraid I spilled coffee on its predecessor so kind of my fault.
I will try to do your comments justice when I am rested.
Tacitus

David Brin said...

I just went up the hill to feed my bee hive a jar of sugar water. Sweet fellows. But some can be nasty. Blessings on the healers.

Robert said...

The problem with sniffing your nose at Sanders is that it continues a long line of dismissal of Sanders by the mainstream media. Just as they dismissed Trump for the longest time.

However, unlike Trump, Sanders is not only building positive excitement with his candidacy, he has shown respect and decency with his comments toward Hillary, his policy suggestions are as you yourself admitted fairly good, and he learns quickly from his mistakes and is not only working into the #blacklivesmatter movement, he actually recruited one of them to work directly for him.

Sanders has considerable benefits... and when you compare him to Hillary and compare how Republicans respond to him compared to Hillary, he becomes the better candidate. If he is able to capitalize on the grassroots element and build a network of supporters in all 50 states... then you could very well see him do to Hillary what Obama did.

Tacitus does have a valid point about his health though... in all likelihood a Sanders presidency would run for one term. And that leads me to wonder: who would be a good Vice Presidential pick for him? I could almost see Warren as his VP, seeing she also has a groundswell of support and being VP for four years could help build her foreign affairs credentials. But that might be too far to the Left for some voters, and hurt his chances of winning.

In all likelihood he'd choose a fairly young VP - someone who hasn't had much of a chance to flip-flop on things. And really, I see him as someone who would choose someone who could do the job of being President while at the same time being someone he would feel comfortable working with. And this might end up being someone outside of politics entirely.

The important thing of course isn't to discount anyone. As 2008 and to a lesser extent 2012 showed in the Republican Primaries, it's anything goes. If something happens to Hillary to knock her out of the running (healthwise rather than any scandals, I'd think) then you could see Sanders end up the candidate of choice, or that governor who's running as well. And to be honest, a healthy amount of choice in candidates is far better than preordained presidential runs. It allows for a more healthy political process.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

I never dissed Sanders. I do "sniff" at the left wing that is his core, because 10% of that 50% of dems are actually crazy people. But it would be unfair to tar Bernie with that brush.

Still, my priority is electability. Because the clade of demo factotums consists largely of smart civil servants ...and because of the court.

Bernie would not have Liz Warren as running mate. Jim Webb is a shoe in for that spot.

Otoh if Jerry ran (for one term) then EW (who has unfortunate initials) would be the perfect VP, gaining experience for 4 years.

Duncan Cairncross said...

American politicians

You guys seem to keep the same old faces until they die of old age,
In "The Rest of the World"
politicians seem to have just one bite of the cherry
If they make it they can hang around
If they fail - bye bye

Your guys seem to hang around until it's "their turn"

I suspect it's because they are not the "Party Leader"
So their failure is not their parties failure

But even so electing people in their 70's??
There must be some young people who should be going for it

Tacitus
"But I have yet to meet one single, solitary person who says they would under any circumstances vote for Donald Trump"
A few posts above your remark I said that I would vote for the Donald rather than any of the other clowns - does that count??

IMHO you guys start off with a huge boulder to push uphill
Your “Separation of Powers”
While keeping the Judiciary separate is a great idea separating the legislative and administrative powers is a problem

The legislature does not have to administer the laws it creates
This removes the incentive to make those laws easy to administrate and means that adding all sorts of bullshit becomes a plus (you can reward your friends) rather than a negative

This is why you have laws and codes that are orders of magnitude thicker and more complex than the rest of us

This then feeds into the public vision of government
If you need to read a 2000 page before commenting on it almost nobody will actually get off their duffs and do so

An unfortunate side effect of this is that because Hollywood provides most of our cultural background as well most anglophone nations don’t interact with politics as well as the non anglophone ones – the “assumption” is that the USA is the world and that everybody else’s legislation is as horribly complex as the USA so this reduces political interaction outside the USA

LarryHart said...

PaulSB:

Besides, I enjoy looking at people's unquestioned assumptions and teasing out the implications they usually don't see.


Dave Sim was great at that too, although his socio-political ranting kind of drowned out that particular characteristic by the end of his "Cerebus" run. Even way back toward the beginnings of the series, he had Cerebus encounter a "typical" comic book situation and react to it the way someone who had never read comic books probably would. More toward the end of the book, he had Cerebus reading the Torah without our modern cultural preconceptions and making some funny observations. For example, did you realize that Eve was not actually kicked out of the Garden of Eden when Adam was?

David Brin said...

Rev LarryHart please do tell! Sounds as cool as the rabbinical tales of spaceships during the Tower of Babel era!

Tony Fisk said...

Before dismissing Trump, I would point out that, in Australia, Abbott was considered a "clown's choice" when he first won the Liberal leadership. However, a combination of Labor in-fighting, and a relentless push by Murdoch meant he got in.

He has achieved his main purpose: dismantling of carbon regulation mechanisms. As for the rest of his policies... let us just say that the overall ineptitude displayed by the Cabinet is its greatest strength.

He is still widely regarded as a clown (of the Pennywise variety), and his prospects of re-election depend on whether or not the ALP can get their act together (ie find a replacement puppy for the drover's dog).

Anyway, I'd just like to say it's not so much a question of being careful of what you wish for as being careful of what you dismiss.

matthew said...

Both Bernie and Trump are having their moment for the same reason: they are speaking some version of truth to power. That being said, I think Trump will implode long before Bernie does. Or maybe that's just wistful thinking. I would not be surprised to see both in the ring come convention time.

Hillary and Jeb are both weak because... no one trusts either of them. They are both transparently after power for its own sake.

Other than those four, there are no viable candidates. Various media sources will try to manufacture viability, but that's all just for ratings. Two populist candidates. Two establishment ones. Keep your eyes on the ball cause this is the entire game.

PS Lessig is another ego candidate a la Nader in 00. Ignore his calls, they are crap designed to sell his books / inflate his standing as a talk show guest. Same with carson, Webb, Cruz, Huck, Malley. Bunch o con men

Laurent Weppe said...

* "Both Bernie and Trump are having their moment for the same reason: they are speaking some version of truth to power."

Trump is certainly not speaking any version of truth to power: to paraphrase Ta-Nehisi Coates: racism is at its very root a lie. A (very hypothetical) candid racist would say "I want the Powers That Be to guarantee that the great many immigrants/blacks/whatever who are smarter and/or more hardworking than Me and their issues will forever remain poorer than me and my own descendants". They never admit as much because to do so would crank up the non-sociopathic & non-cynical crowd's animosity toward them. Likewise, the politicians who pander to them will never openly tell their audience "I promise you that I will use to its full extent the power of the state to ensure that someone else ends at the bottom of the food chain": they'll rather proclaim that their goal to deliberately harm minorities is motivated by necessity (hence the conspiracies fairy tales about Jews/Muslim/Catholics trying to subvert society, take over the bureaucracy and "stealthily" enslave good'ol white boys as well as the claims that migrants are rapists/thieves/lazy freeloaders/jihadists/all of the above), not shortsighted selfishness.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Rev LarryHart please do tell! Sounds as cool as the rabbinical tales of spaceships during the Tower of Babel era!


Dave Sim is hard to describe to someone who isn't already familiar. I know that PaulSB has read "Cerebus", which is why I'll sometimes mention it in a response to him in particular. Before I found this blog, and with quite a bit of overlap as well, I used to spend much of my online time at a Yahoo! group discussing the "Cerebus" comic book.

In a nutshell, though, the writer/artist of that book is a Canadian named Dave Sim. Back in the late 1970s, Dave decided he would continue his self-published comic for 300 issues ending in March 2004, and he actually kept that up and hit the target month. That in itself is amazing.

In 1997, he read the Bible for the first time and found religion, and there is no zealot like a convert. What he had planned to do was to have his character, Cerebus, read the Bible and point out all of the absurdities that would occur to a first-time reader with no preconceptions. Instead, what happened was that Dave himself had some very unusual interpreations of the text. So instead of "making fun of", his character read the text and interpreted it the way Dave himself was doing.

This went on for about six issues, and was one of the low points for his readers who actually like some comics in their comic books. But Dave was always about writing as he wanted rather than what anyone else thought he should, and he stayed true to that vision.

Tacitus2 said...

Ahhh. Back and refreshed. I was being entirely serious when I said I had to parse out your most recent post David, as too often our exchanges go awry. I posit what I think is a yes/no situation. You answer (as I see it) obliquely. I try again and you bristle and huff. This is perception, not actual accusations of hypocrisy etc. Do I enjoy getting you a little worked up? To my discredit, yes. Is it good for you to have your assumptions challenged by someone who is not wandering in the labyrinths of Wolkenkuckkucksheim? I will let you answer that.

Lets start with where we appear to agree. I have not raised Benghazi. It was a FUBAR scenario in which the State Department hardly was responsible. I think it is a side issue. I also concur with giving a pass to all Pols for the occasional botched name/word. It happens. They are human and get tired. I am interested in the dynamics of elderly decision makers and will continue to bring this up from time to time.

Now, as to why the Clinton email situation matters. (You will NEVER catch me using the -gate suffix!)(see next post, went over character limits!)

Tacitus

Tacitus2 said...

(continued)

1. because it is in fact "mattering". Her poll numbers on trustworthiness in the swing states are headed south. Quinnipiac is one of the more honest pollsters and had her under water on this quality in FL, OH and PA. I do have a healthy skepticism of outlying polls, but in general you should be more leery of unexpected good news. Oh, and this was June, keep an eye on this. Is it fair that political pressures are making her campaign difficult? Well, she is a politician and is campaigning. You need to overcome this sort of thing in an election. None of us really want a Coronation.

2. Hat tip to LarryH. I had missed the extensive use of private email accounts in the late W.Bush Admin. Similar stuff has floated to the surface in lots of places. Scott Walker and various Obama admin officials (EPA and Justice mostly) for instance. Ms. Clinton was very critical of "lost" emails in the W. admin btw. This is usually attributed to either the prohibition against doing campaign work on government time, or an attempt to keep awkward information from being readily accessible. The former is a little problematic. In the days of Land Lines it was common for staffers to have a second office across the hall. They would walk over and do campaign work, then walk back. Now with smart phones and such, the convenience factor tempts...

So, how is Hillary any different?

3. The mixed nature of her work. Some of what she did as SecState had potential to help/harm major players. Some of same were significant donors to the Clinton Foundation and/or Bill and Hill more directly. I am always mindful of how you react to any source you view as tainted, so on the matter of one such "deal" the USB matter, I offer two.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/07/31/1407615/-Breaking-Clintons-Got-Millions-from-Swiss-Bank-Sec-Clinton-Shielded-From-IRS

http://www.wsj.com/articles/ubs-deal-shows-clintons-complicated-ties-1438223492

Sorry, the second one seems to be intermittently behind a paywall but I include it for the criticism of Hillary offered by none other than Larry Lessig!

Mrs. Clinton should know (and if she does not she is too dumb to be Pres) that her actions will be under close scrutiny in matters that look like tit for tat. Every scrap of correspondence that comes anywhere near the dealings of the Clinton Foundation has to be preserved. Otherwise...well, see trustworthy item #1.

4. Many of the things she has said on this affair have been a bit dodgy. It appears that she did have Classified information on her private server. It is not at all clear that the security on it was up to snuff. If you want "consequences" I should think making it easy for quasi-governmental hackers from overseas to get at this should count.

5. One that I am not sure of now....has any prior such incident involved a situation where the server was physically under the control of the principle at all times? I think with the earlier White House matter the answer is no. In this context having the person in question be allowed to cherry pick the material that will be available for viewing, and then - it appears - having it professionally wiped looks really, really bad.

I have no animus towards Hillary Clinton. If by some strange twist it comes down to Clinton vs Trump in the general election I will join you all in casting a D vote ( I do sometimes) in the Great Pachydammerung of 2016. But the reason the email/server issue is important is that it pulls a dark cloth over the intersection of money, power and politics that defines the Clintons. And when the magician pulls the cloth away there is nothing but a pleasant little daisy there. Hmmmmmm. Not exactly the Most Transparent Ever.

Cheers

Tacitus

Tacitus2 said...

So long as I am being long winded today, something I wrote to help my UK friends understand the 2015/16 campaign season.

http://detritusofempire.blogspot.com/2015/08/help-wanted-president-201516-edition.html

Tacitus

locumranch said...


Forgetting about the classic (unconnected) thermostat study for the 1950s that correlated the illusion of control (and/or 'ownership') with improved factory worker productivity, our credulous host continues to assume a causal relationship between socioeconomic OUTCOMES & the political process, even when no such demonstrable relationship exists.

So. get out there and fiddle those dials, display those partisan political flags, and ROOT ROOT for the Home Team (Yanks think this means one thing, while Aussies & Kiwis know it means something completely different), the important thing being that you become invested, engaged & actively complicit in your ongoing political & socioeconomic subjugation, so much so that you never wake up to discover how thoroughly ROOTED you are.

So convince yourself that that little thermostat of yours determines the foregone conclusion and ENJOY the complimentary bread & circuses, because the more you 'whip yourselves' into a partisan frenzy, the less actual whipping your duly-elected slave driver will need to apply to achieve the desired outcome:

Your enthusiastic servitude.


Best

David Brin said...

Matthew I disagree about Lessig. If he is in the debates his sole aim will be to talk about corruption of politics… issues that no one else even hints at. Any major increase in public awareness of those isses will benefit the nation spectacularly.

Tacitus I appreciate you courtesy tinged with whimsey. And I do not deny that the email thing and the Clinton Foundation donor thing are worth raising. I simply choke over the pretences that these are comparableto the staggering mountain of malfeasances on the other side. And we begin and end with OUTCOMES. In none of these cases are the outcomes even theoretically more than molehills. Compare this to the Bushite wars, which benefited only Iran and Cheney clan companies to the tune of perhaps a hundred billion dollars. Indeed, compare all clintonite “scandals” to just the one C5 cargo of $12 billion in raw cash that landed in Bagdhad and promptly disappeared? Um?

Dig it. You want more separation between money and politicians? One party wants to move in that direction. The other has dismantled all barriers. So do not lecture us about the Clinton Foundation, please. Indeed, theirs was the only 8 year admin to have zero high or medium officials indicted for malfeasance of office, despite desperate efforts to find smoking guns. (Efforts that included diverting anti-terror resources before 9/11… should that not make you steamed?)

----- Ironies abound. Our local defender of oligarchy whines that all our efforts to resist oligarchy are doomed because the oligarchs already control it all. Did I mention that the fundamental here is personality?

Jonathan S. said...

"I had missed the extensive use of private email accounts in the late W.Bush Admin...

"So, how is Hillary any different?"

You've answered your own question there. When it happened under W, there were no Congressional outcries, no headline news stories, no "-gates" being tossed about.

That, by the way, also answers your "hypothetical" regarding how we would have responded if this had happened under a Republican administration. It did. And the nation shrugged its metaphorical shoulders and went on about its business, re-electing the same people who had done it.

locumranch said...


What dichotomous BS !!

I condemn all oligarchs in equal fashion, from the wealthy GOP elitists to pseudo-populist multimillionaires like John (Heinz) Kerry & Hillary Clinton, the difference being that I don't pretend that best interests of the common citizen coincide with the fiduciary interests of the select 'Good Billionaire', the difference between 'good' billionaires and 'bad' billionaires being largely imaginary as parasites are parasitical regardless of the Political Correctness of their respective ideologies.


Best

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

I condemn all oligarchs in equal fashion, from the wealthy GOP elitists to pseudo-populist multimillionaires like John (Heinz) Kerry & Hillary Clinton, the difference being that I don't pretend that best interests of the common citizen coincide with the fiduciary interests of the select 'Good Billionaire'...


But you do claim "Red State" sensibilities to be the antidote to the oligarchs, ignoring the fact that the Red States overwhelmingly vote for the agenda of the oligarchs.


parasites are parasitical regardless of the Political Correctness of their respective ideologies.


That's a bit lazy. What you're saying is that those who use their powers for good are the same as those who use their powers for evil, because "using their powers" is bad regardless of what they are used for.

LarryHart said...

elaborating further...

In an original series episode of "Star Trek", an alien being simulates a morality play for itself by pitting forces of "good" (including Kirk, Spock, and Abraham Lincoln against forces of "evil" including Ghengis Khan and a nasty Klingon. The two teams have to fight for supremacy in order to win a prize offered by the alien.

At the end, the frustrated alien tells the victorious Kirk that he (the alien) saw no difference between the tactics employed by the two sides. He was not able to discern a difference between the good side and the evil side. As a suggested answer, Kirk asks what the alien had offered the bad guys if they had won. I don't remember the exact phrasing, but essentially, he had offered them power and conquest. To which Kirk responded, "You offered me the lives of my crew."

Your response to Dr Brin reminds me of that alien in the way that you just don't get it.

matthew said...

David, on Lessig's message in debatea etc - but Bernie Sanders got there with the corruption in politics message before Lessig, and in a better format. Bernie has been hammering the message since before Lessig was even published on the subject. When Lessig states that he, himself, is needed to spread the anti- corruption message, he is ignoring that the same message is already being spread by someone with better political bona fides than his. Ego driven to think that he has anything unique to add to the campaign.

Treebeard said...

Actually Laurent Weppe I think it’s simpler than that, and not nearly so nefarious. What is called “racism” is mostly just the normal human impulse to be more comfortable/secure/trusting around people of your own tribe/kin/kind. This is something Malcolm X acknowledged and which was never in human history considered some dire cosmic sin until very recently, thanks to the aggressive propaganda of a few fanatics. Nations normally reflect this human tendency, providing safe “homelands” where people can be among their own (see Israel). But again, thanks to some fanatics, we are creating a regime of chaos where no such safe spaces can exist (at least in the rather pathological modern West), which is probably going to be the source of a lot of conflict going forward.

I know this doesn’t fit with some people’s Federation fantasies, but it’s a deep human reality, and no amount haranguing “good old white boys” is likely to change the fact that we just want what other people want, and all the haranguing and moralizing is really just making things worse. Go harangue the Chinese or something and leave us normal folks the f*ck alone!

locumranch said...


Larry_H almost gets it; David does not:

Red Staters tend to ally themselves with conservative oligarchs because (1) conservative oligarchs offer those Red Staters increased liberty, more self-determination, less federal collectivism & more state's rights (which is analogous to the valued 'lives of the crew' that the alien offered Kirk), (2) progressive oligarchs promise more federal collectivism, more security & less self-determination (which is analogous to the power, wealth & privileges that the alien offered history's notorious villains) and (3) oligarchs are all that our current US governmental system has to offer law-abiding US citizens in recent elections (which is really no choice at all).

Of course, this is a very temporary alliance, less analogous to the original ST's 'Savage Curtain' episode (referenced above) and more analogous to the 'Who mourns for Adonais?' episode, which ends with the putative head of the Red Staters (aka the conservative oligarchs) being serviced in the same manner as the head of either Apollo or GJ Danton.

Then, only then, there will be no room left in our universe for oligarchy & gods.


Best
________

Rollerball (1975) is a much better analogy: Jonathan E = A Red State Reactionary; Ella = A Blue State Sell-Out; and Bartholomew = The Corporate Oligarchy

Jonathan E: I've been thinking, Ella. Thinking a lot... and watching. It's like people had a choice a long time ago between having all them nice things or freedom. Of course, they chose comfort.

Ella: But comfort is freedom. It always has been. The whole history of civilization is a struggle against poverty and need.

Jonathan E: No! No... that's not it. That's never been it! Them privileges just buy us off. [deep sigh]

Bartholomew: The game was created to demonstrate the futility of individual effort. You can be made to quit, you know. You can be forced.

Jonathan E: You can't make me quit.

Bartholomew: Don't tell me I can't. Don't EVER say that. I can. YOU can be stopped. [Jonathan E leaves the room, he turns up the volume of a TV set & thousands cheer his name]

matthew said...

David, on Lessig's message in debatea etc - but Bernie Sanders got there with the corruption in politics message before Lessig, and in a better format. Bernie has been hammering the message since before Lessig was even published on the subject. When Lessig states that he, himself, is needed to spread the anti- corruption message, he is ignoring that the same message is already being spread by someone with better political bona fides than his. Ego driven to think that he has anything unique to add to the campaign.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Red Staters tend to ally themselves with conservative oligarchs because (1) conservative oligarchs offer those Red Staters increased liberty, more self-determination, less federal collectivism & more state's rights (which is analogous to the valued 'lives of the crew' that the alien offered Kirk), (2) progressive oligarchs promise more federal collectivism, more security & less self-determination (which is analogous to the power, wealth & privileges that the alien offered history's notorious villains)


I have to admit that I understand your position better after this one.

I do think you have a contorted definition of "liberty". Having just re-read Vonnegut's incredibly prescient 1953 novel "Player Piano", I'm thinking of the climax where the population rebels against machines taking jobs away from humans. The leaders of the rebellion want to carefully inventory the machines in town in order to decide which should be kept operating and which should be dismantled, but the crowd is not so easily contained. "I just blew up the waste disposal plant! Give the country back to the people!"



LarryHart said...

locumranch, referring to "Rollerball":

Jonathan E: I've been thinking, Ella. Thinking a lot... and watching. It's like people had a choice a long time ago between having all them nice things or freedom. Of course, they chose comfort.

Ella: But comfort is freedom. It always has been. The whole history of civilization is a struggle against poverty and need.

Jonathan E: No! No... that's not it. That's never been it! Them privileges just buy us off. [deep sigh]


Again, I almost see your point, and then it eludes me. You portray Ella as a "sellout", but really, what is she saying that is wrong? If Johnathan means that people can pay too high a price for their comforts, sure, I agree with that. But Ella's words themselves are essentially correct. You seem to be taking the Ronald Reagan view of Medicare in 1964--that by accepting a system that prevents disease from being a bankrupting event, we would forget what is once was like to be free.

If comfort, wealth, and security are the antithesis of liberty, then what is liberty for exactly?

Johnathan "sighs" that Ella isn't getting his point, but what observation could she make at that point that would satisfy him?

Jumper said...

Treebeard needs a homeland where he can be with his kind........

Jumper said...

I was thinking lately of how sugar-coated pirates have been lately. We have the cutesy "talk like a pirate day" and Johnny Depp movies, and everyone forgets these are guys who board a ship that isn't theirs, cut throats and gut-shoot people, steal cargo, drown people, and rape any women aboard. Then kill them. I've decided I don't find pirates romantic, heroic, individualistic, admirable, or cute. I think I hate pirates.

David Brin said...

locum started out making a good basic point… that if you zero in on ONE TRAIT — having some money and some power — then by that one trait there is no difference between “good oligarchs” and bad ones. But notice how reflexively he assumes that zeroing in on ONE TRAIT makes even a scintilla of scense. It is one reason you all should be more patient with my keeping him around. I have never seen a better example of crippling zero-sum thinking.

Never mind that great wealth has had its principal deleterious effects on human societies by being *inherited*. That is when rigid classes descend to enforce the stunning waste of talent we saw in almost all past societies, but which is lessened in egalitarian, flat-open-fair competitive ones. But then, in order to try to fabulate his point, he says red oligarchs offer redtaters “more liberty.”

Hoo hah? OMG the hilarity.

Oh, certainly I adore Rollerball. Though the ironies of locum citing it abound.

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

What is called “racism” is mostly just the normal human impulse to be more comfortable/secure/trusting around people of your own tribe/kin/kind. This is something Malcolm X acknowledged and which was never in human history considered some dire cosmic sin until very recently, thanks to the aggressive propaganda of a few fanatics. Nations normally reflect this human tendency, providing safe “homelands” where people can be among their own (see Israel). But again, thanks to some fanatics, we are creating a regime of chaos where no such safe spaces can exist.


Well, those fanatics you disparage are the Founding Fathers of the United States. This country purposely became something other than the racial/ethnic homelands of the old world and became great by welcoming all comers. "Send us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free." So now, you want a homeland of your own where you can get away from those #@!!% huddled masses? Why don't you take the advice your kind would have given me in the 1970s--America, love it or leave it.

LarryHart said...

Jumper:

...
I think I hate pirates.


Do you mind if I ask what brought that on?

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

But then, in order to try to fabulate his point, he says red oligarchs offer redtaters “more liberty.”


Liberal environmentalists are often accused of preferring that mankind "shiver in the dark" in order to save the planet. Yet here we have locum essentially equating "shivering in the dark" with liberty. If we accept electricity, modern construction, sanitation, running water, medicine, police and fire departments...basically anything that might raise a human being's standard of living, we do so only by selling out our freedom.

With friends like that, who needs enemies?

Liberals are also accused of seeing racism in shadows everywhere, and for years, I have tried to avoid making that charge. But especially as the Obama presidency goes on, it becomes harder to even parse the right-wing arguments unless one recognizes that "liberty" is a code word for "freedom not to pay for anything that might benefit black people." That's the only way one might imagine that Kansas Governor Brownback is giving his people more liberty by starving his state of revenue. And this is not a new sensibility that began in 2009. The 1964 advertisment in which Ronald Reagan asserts that if Medicare is enacted, our grandchildren will wonder what it used to be like to be free? What, "free" to go bankrupt and/or die horribly from an unexpected illness? No, of course not. He meant "free" to not have to pay for insurance that covers black people.

Treebeard said...

LOL sorry LarryHart but I rather doubt the founding fathers had anything this in mind for the nation they founded. They were men of a different age, who never in their wildest nightmares could have imagined the U.S. government doing something like intentionally relocating "refugees" en masse from places like to Somalia to places like Minnesota as a de facto weapon of political & ethnic warfare against the population, and relentlessly vilifying anyone who dissents as "racists". This is a radical new form of "progress", and a radical new nation (I sometimes call it the "U.S.S.A." or "Amerika" to distinguish it from the land the founding fathers knew), which nothing in history suggests is likely to end well. As for loving or leaving it, for free men under the stars there is always a third option (call it the Khan option): fight it and make it something more to your liking!

David Brin said...

Treebeard actually makes a point... that the Leftist religion or ONLY giving loyalty to the next horizon of tolerance expansion is kind of disgusting, in that it is zero-sum. Leftists demand ONLY loyalty to inclusion expansion and abandonment of all older loyalties. It's the way they are zero sum.

But Rightists are worse. They are zero sum by ONLY clinging to the old loyalties, no matter what rot lies underneath some of them (e.g. the confederacy)... and their reflex is to hatge and despise the finger waggers who say... "let's expand horizons and be more inclusive."

The only positive summers are liberals -- who alas seem unable to grasp that they are NOT the same as their lefty allies, at all!

See: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2013/11/liberals-you-must-reclaim-adam-smith.html

Liberals want BOTH horizon expansion AND to enjoy the better of the old loyalties, too.

Alas, libertarians should be like this, too. But they have been misled into zero-sum assumption that government is always evil, instead of a tool for cautious use in overcoming past mistakes and future ones.

Note that there is no way that locum or treebeard could understand what I just wrote, above, were they to re-read it fifty times and attempt every paraphrasing. The meaning would slip away.

And with that I am shifting to the next post.

onward

onward

LarryHart said...

Apologies to Dr Brin, but this one requires a response...

Treebeard:

LOL sorry LarryHart but I rather doubt the founding fathers had anything this in mind for the nation they founded. They were men of a different age,

So? They had the right principles which maybe weren't quite so self-evident as they claimed, but became so with age. "All men are created equal" maybe didn't mean black slaves or Jews or women in 1776, but once one embraces the idea, one is forced to notice that the only logical conclusion is that it applies to all sentient beings who participate in the society. Several Confederate states, on the other hand, tried to enshrine "for white people only" and "other races are inferior" into their founding documents, just as South Africa and Rhodesia and Nazi Germany would at later dates. Which principles stand the test of time, and which get relegated to the dustbin of history?


who never in their wildest nightmares could have imagined the U.S. government doing something like intentionally relocating "refugees" en masse from places like to Somalia to places like Minnesota as a de facto weapon of political & ethnic warfare against the population,


They who-the-what now? What exactly is the U.S. government gaining from such political and ethnic warfare?


and relentlessly vilifying anyone who dissents as "racists".


Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. Likewise, just because some particular argument doesn't make you a racist doesn't mean you aren't one.


I sometimes call it the "U.S.S.A." or "Amerika" to distinguish it from the land the founding fathers knew), which nothing in history suggests is likely to end well.


Why is it that criticism of America from the right is considered patriotic, while only criticism from the left is treasonous? I mean, immediately after 9/11, both Jerry Falwell and Susan Sontag essentially suggested that the attacks might be the result of America's own failings. Sontag's implication was that if we weren't so arrogant throwing our weight around in the Middle East, Arabs might not have had the motivation to attack us. Fallwell's implication was that by being too tolerant of gays and feminists, America lost favor with God and so He let us be attacked. Both accusations blamed America's own failings for the attack, but only one was considered anti-American. Why is that?


As for loving or leaving it, for free men under the stars there is always a third option (call it the Khan option): fight it and make it something more to your liking!


What, you think you're surprising me with your "third way"? Not at all. What do you think 1970s liberals were trying to do when your ilk were telling us to "Go back to Russia". "Love it or leave it" wasn't something my side made up. You right-wingers can't even live by your own so-called "principles".

So sure, stay and fight to make America the Holnist paradise you salivate over. But a whole bunch of other Real Americans are fighting to make it a country that lives up to the ideals that made us the shining city on the hill to the world.

David Brin said...

Thanks Larry. Alas, I would refer L&T to my detailed appraisal of horizons, which shows how the American notion of rights expanded organically, over time. But there is no way on Earth that they would - organically - be able to process it even well enough to paraphrase and disagree or refute it!

But enough...

onward

onward

Aviri Char said...

I recommend for anyone who has serious doubts or burgeoning hopes or just curiosity about the Referendum Presidency "hack-the-corrupt-system" alternative that Larry Lessig is proposing, check out this in-depth unpacking and critiquing and discussing of it in Cenk Uygur's interview of the man, just posted in the last day or so: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F45J85c5vCI

The real possibility this could work, along with the other approaches going at the problem from the state route to call a Constitutional Convention to ensure the long-lastingness of reform, seems to be emerging in some hard to deny ways, once all the aspects and concerns are explored in full.

(key point: this is not an "either-or" proposition, it is a "both-and" proposition -- Sanders, or Warren, or even Clinton as a viable option--with her corporate allegiance incentive removed--would be right there in the mix, and ultimately taking over the reins with the ability to *actually* get things done, once the FIRST issue was handled first)