Saturday, November 07, 2015

The political circus

The true issue dividing Donald Trump from the rest of the Republican Pack? He has realized something that strikes terror into the hearts of the Kochs and Murdochs and Saudis who have grown accustomed to treating the Republican Party as their private legislature.  That the angry white men who make up the GOP's core-base are ready for some populism to mix with their gruel of guns and confederate values. 

Hence, Trump has called -- then pulled back -- but will certainly call again for tax increases on the uber-rich, while Jeb Bush and the rest reiterate their wish for ever-lower rates for the skyrocketing oligarchy, long after Supply Side (Voodoo) "Economics" has been proved never to have made one successful outcome prediction. 

Ever. Even once at all. Ever.

Heck, Trump has also spoken for campaign finance reform (if a bit hypocritically, given he's a self-funding billionaire).


Sure, he's repulsively crazy in many of his own (entertaining) ways. But if Donald Trump is leveraging the disappointment of millions of angry white males, perhaps we should cheer a bit that at least he is pointing out: “hey, the foxes and goppers have been lying to you, like mad, too.”

But what's his secret?

== Trump - Comic or Genius? ==

Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has a blog - Clown Genius - that decrypts the salesmanship methods of Donald Trump.  The essay is revealing and fascinating: 

“As far as I can tell, Trump’s “crazy talk” is always in the correct direction for a skilled persuader. When Trump sets an “anchor” in your mind, it is never random. And it seems to work every time. Now that Trump owns FOX, and I see how well his anchor trick works with the public, I’m going to predict he will be our next president. I think he will move to the center on social issues (already happening) and win against Clinton in a tight election.”

Um… did I also mention that Scott is also – though a genius – a bona fide crackpot much of the time? “Trump owns Fox,” my patoot.  The Donald’s truce with Roger Ailes is based on mutual self- interest that shifts from day to day.  And the notion that Trump might actually become president is based upon comparisons to 1980’s Ronald Reagan that are not pertinent.  

Reagan was likeable, for one thing, and would have lost anyway, but for two things: the Iran hostage crisis and Jimmy Carter’s patriotic willingness to let Paul Volcker cure inflation, even in an election year. (Something no other politician would have done for the country – Carter was our only grownup president.) 

How deep can the madness go? As we see the very-right-wing John Boehner canned from House Speaker for not being right-wing enough, we should consider where this could all lead.  Here is a very thoughtful essay that plumbs the 1950s roots of "Movement Conservatism" that is based upon fundamental "values" that cannot be argued-with through evidence or cause and effect.  (To be clear, there is a wing of the Left that is also exactly like this, only smaller and (presently) less dangerous.)

What this writer's analysis fails to do is:


1) Apply the word "confederacy" and thus show that this has a context, a clash of cultures that goes back to 1775 as we reach a frenzy of phase 8 of the American Civil War.


2) Reveal the danger that this movement poses to its cynical instigators. As we've noted, Donald Trump is getting huge response from white males with not only his anti immigrant etc slogans, but also sniping at Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox News is used to utterly controlling the right's narrative.  Including the "do everything for the rich" policies that are the sun that the GOP revolves around.  Ironically it is Trump, the rogue billionaire, who now rails against that centerpiece, drawing millions of former sheep to look up, blinking amid an awakening populism that the Koch-Saudi-Murdoch cabal ought rightfully to fear.

Watch as Mike Huckabee or one or two others take moves in that direction, as they see their options wane. Seeing a chance for a Hail Mary gambit, they may start lacing in some anti-oligarch populism, hoping to strike a chord with those angry white males.


Hence, like all the talk show comedians, I am rooting for Donald to last a good while.  He’s mixing things up and shaking people out of ruts, and drawing white males to at long last question their confederate loyalty to Marse Rupert. By questioning the GOP reflex -- that tax cuts for the rich are the core and central sacredness -- he is laying seeds for a different sort of middle-class right-wing.  One that - while still raving crazy - finally glances at self-interest.

 Now… please… Jerry Brown and Jon Stewart… do the same thing!  Get in and have some fun.

== The banal insatiability of evil ==

The thing about evil is that it is insatiable*.  Republicans already control every lever of power in Alabama. Yet they bend heaven and earth to stymie voting by their minority citizens. Now, after passing a strict voter ID law, they are closing nearly all of the DMV offices in counties where most black citizens reside, making it much harder to get ID. 

I have oft pointed out that sincere Voter ID advocates would push also for compliance assistance to help poor citizens, married-or-divorced women, and young people to comply with an onerous new burden applied by the state.

Not one red state has done this, even a cent! Proving them utter hypocrites. (GOP legislators often appropriate Compliance Assistance funds for big business, when new regulations come down. Alabama did it this year, in amounts that could have kept those offices open.)

Read this.  There is no clearer illustration of the depth to which the red-gray side of our re-ignited Civil War has sunk. 

Oh… and the rationalization of “budget balancing”?  When a state is so poorly run and its economy so wretched that it cannot keep open its DMVs? The most basic service citizens need, in order to have freedom of movement and ID necessary for so many modern tasks? Nothing better illustrates a party's utter incompetence at the craft of government.


Oh, but this is the tip of the iceberg...

== Electoral Dishonesty ==

And now comes evidence that the Confederate cabal is willing to take cheating much farther. "Days after tea party republican Matt Bevin shocked the state of Kentucky by winning the election for governor in a landslide despite having been notably behind in every poll, political experts are still trying to figure out what happened. Initially the blame was directed at registered democratics, who appeared to have turned out to vote in historically small numbers. But now numerical evidence is pointing to the possibility that the election may have simply been rigged in favor Bevin."

Is this more "loser whining?" Or does fact after fact indicate that we should get ready...

... for the most cheating in a U.S. federal election in modern times.  This will happen for two reasons. 

First: "legal cheating" such as gerrymandering and voter suppression laws have reached their effectiveness limits and they can no longer compensate for  increasing demographic disadvantages facing the Republican Party, as well as the hemorrhage of intelligent conservatives (e.g. scientists, law professionals and military officers) who can no longer rationalize any continued relationship with the GOP’s plummet into lunacy. 

The second reason for panic on the right is simpler – if a Democrat enters office in 2016, the courts will eventually rule that corporations are not “people.” They will rule that it is okay to limit the buying of elections. The courts will also (winds are blowing) finally end the travesty of gerrymandering.

Fortunately for Rupert Murdoch, the Kochs and their Saudi partners, there is an ace up their sleeve. Through shells, they own every company that makes voting machines in the U.S. Machines that have proved to be easily hackable.  In blue states, this does not much matter, since most of them require that voters be provided with a paper receipt that then goes into a box, the old-fashioned way. Back-door hackers and machine company owners do not dare attempt major exploits, wherever random precinct audits could nail them.  

But voters in red states like Kentucky don't get such paper audit trails.  They seem blithely trusting of electronics – so long as it’s mostly white males who own the chips and levers.

Is Kentucky an isolated case? Then try these smoking guns. 

1) Virginia’s voting machines were built with a literal back dook… a locked USB port whose physical key was the same for every WinVote machine ever made.  Read this scandalous story.... Virginia Ditches 'America's Worst Voting Machines.'

2) Without paper audit trails, the cheaters in pyrotechnically-corrupt Kansas thought they were safe, till mathematicians arrived!  Analyzing election returns at a precinct level, Wichita State mathematician Beth Clarkson found that candidate support was correlated, to a statistically significant degree, with the size of the precinct. In Republican primaries, the bias has been toward the establishment candidates over tea partiers. In general elections, it has favored Republican candidates over Democrats, even when the demographics of the precincts in question suggested that the opposite should have been true.” 

Hence, shouldn’t Tea Partiers be just as angry at the Murdoch Machine as democrats are?  Shouldn’t they make common cause over just this one issue?  

“According to their analysis, Mitt Romney could have received over a million extra votes in the 2012 Republican primary, mostly coming at the expense of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. President Obama also ceded significant votes to John McCain due to this irregularity, as well.”

Could this underlie some of the support for Donald Trump – the only GOP candidate with the guts to tell off Murdoch and his machine? Read this article and see how Clarkson has been blocked at every level with a consistency that shows complete, Orwell-level contempt for even figleaf accountability.

====

* I just spent 3 weeks as Distinguished Visiting Scholar in Residence at the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College, in New York.  Arendt famously commented on how insipidly mundane and inferior one often finds evil men to be, seldom mad-genius types. Far more often one sees -- as she put it -- the "banality of evil."  Banal, yet nearly always insatiable.

59 comments:

Paul SB said...

Sorry to make the first comment here a carry-over from the last thread. I just wanted to say to our fisherman (Catfish & Cod) that I am glad others are connecting the dots. I know it sounds really cliché, but better education helps, especially scientific literacy. Most people feel like they are moral, which is part of why they have such a hard time dealing with people who come to different conclusions than they do. If people were getting a better scientific education, some of these problems would lose a lot of their hold over society, because they would be basing their moral choices on good information instead of bad old stereotypes.

BTW - if your aquatic handle reflects your tastes at the dinner table, I have a pretty tasty French recipe for a red wine sauce that is delicious with catfish, though it is a time-consuming one, why I haven't made it since I became a teacher.

Zen Cosmos said...

Would enjoy seeing a Sanders/Brown ticket with Stewart as perhaps a inner circle advisor. For me the GOP field is too bought and crazy. And the same goes for Ms. Clinton- hard to understand why the independent (as opposed to corporate) media haven't dredged up the Dixiecrat angle of her husband, etc. Never vote for her either. I would vote for a moderate Republican who could get us all back to higher progressive taxes on truly rich, while at same time only pay-as-you-go- budgets which we had temporarily under Clinton. Much as I agree with the one issue professor you recently touted, one issue candidates never win in a general so he might make a great Treasury or Labor Sec'y as would Reich.

David Brin said...

Sorry Zen Cosmos, but that's just silly. Even if Hillary is partly suborned by money, she is unquestionably in the normal, old fashioned and satiable range. We can deal with that. The drooling insatiable corruption of the Murdochians cannot be slaked or negotiated with. Its efforts to destroy science and all other knowledge castes can only have one end... feudalism.

At her worst, Hillary would maintain an executive branch in which men and women sincerely do their jobs. Across BOTH the Clinton and Obama administrations, no high official has been indicted for malfeasance of office, despite desperate Murdochian efforts to find smoking guns. That has meaning!

Above all. if the coming supreme court appointments are sane moderates, then gerrymandering will end and we'll get our democracy back.

Anonymous said...

"Above all. if the coming supreme court appointments are sane moderates, then gerrymandering will end and we'll get our democracy back."

On the other hand if Republicans get the white house and fill all the empty and upcoming appointments you may never get Republicans out of power again. They have been refusing Obama's appointments for this very reason, so they can fill them with their own idealouges. And instead of having the occasional supreme court ruling appear to be sane, it will give one right wing decision after another for decades to come.

Treebeard said...

I sometimes wonder if cynical plutocrats aren't pushing identity politics to distract people from class issues and play the old “divide and conquer” game. And yet, here you are playing the same game, haranguing “angry white males” in the fashionable leftist manner (personally, I wasn't angry until I took notice of all the nastiness directed at me). Remember though, identity politics is the oldest form of right wing politics, which taps directly into the lizard brain. I'm not sure why you would want to encourage that; is it another symptom of the slide into a post-liberal dark age? Remember too that my kind can play the identity politics game too, and as we do (mostly defensively against the constant attacks directed at us), our nations will be shaken to their foundations, and it's doubtful that Amerika will survive the earthquake in anything like its present form.

Treebeard said...

Imagine trying to sell this narrative: “hey white men, good job building the most prosperous, free and powerful civilization in history. Now step aside, admit your evil, open your borders, let the world's (oppressed, non-white) peoples take over, stand back and watch yourself gradually be erased from your culture. You disagree with this agenda? Racist!” Surprisingly, a lot of people are buying this story, including, no doubt, many readers of this blog.

Paul451 said...

Treebeard,
"Remember too that my kind can play the identity politics game too"

Dude, that's all "your kind" does.

Paul451 said...

PaulSB,
Re: Genetic determinism, "crypto-racism", from the last thread.

Oligarchs always promote this idea, it allows them to justify cheating for their offspring. Promote the idea of "the right breeding" and you can arbitrarily exclude more talented competitors from power.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Republicans already control every lever of power in Alabama. Yet they bend heaven and earth to stymie voting by their minority citizens. Now, after passing a strict voter ID law, they are closing nearly all of the DMV offices in counties where most black citizens reside, making it much harder to get ID.


I watched the "forum" on Friday evening where Rachel Maddow interviewed the three Democratic candidates for the presidency. The only part that made me literally stand up and cheer was when Bernie Sanders asserted that voter suppression is un-American and treasonous. I've been singing that song for years. I understand why, politically, Democrats prefer it to be easier to vote, and Republicans prefer it to be harder, but in a country that prides itself on democracy, the two sides simply do not have an equal right to their wishes in that regard. If one party simply cannot win in a fair election, then that says something about the party. It doesn't give them the right to cheat.

David Brin said...

Fortunately, I can glean meaning by skimming such crap. Our "ent" isn't even sapient enough to grasp what the blog was saying about angry white males.

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

And yet, here you are playing the same game, haranguing “angry white males” in the fashionable leftist manner (personally, I wasn't angry until I took notice of all the nastiness directed at me).


Aren't you the one who comes around here touting feudalism and going on about how great Putin and ISIS are because they aren't feminized like the rest of us are? And you think the response you get is because you are white?

I'm not sure you're taking it personally enough. :)

Paul SB said...

Paul 451,
It's funny that you bring this up just after Treebeard mentioned the oligarchs' ancient divide and conquer strategy, yet the little sapling can't see that "race" itself is part of that very strategy. But this is one of those places where both sides share some of the blame. There was an article I read back in grad school when we were looking at (complete lack of) biological evidence for the existence of race which noted a difference between overt racists and what the author called "nice racialists." Those nice racialists are people who believe that race as it is conceived today is a biologically real thing but don't buy the inferiority claims of the overt racists (mean racialists, in his terms - though the term "racialism" goes back to W.E.B. du Bois at the turn of the century). The problem is that by accepting the existence of a social fiction - that the human race can be divided into other races based on superficial climatological adaptations - they leave the door open for the "mean racialists" to make the kind of over-generalizing and usually misconstrued assertions they make. Liberals, in their compassion for the oppressed, perpetuate the myth of race. Where the "mean racialists" see a genetically determined inferiority, science sees the stunting effects on developing brains of poor nutrition, low stimulation, high stress and ptsd.

If anyone is interested in the reference, I might have the book that article was in on my shelves somewhere, but it's late right now and I'm going to hit the hay.

Jonathan Sills said...

What bothers me about the Republican race this year (well, okay, one of the things that bothers me) is that the lead in the polls seems to go to the most violently insane personality available.

Currently, that lead is held by Ben Carson, as he defends himself against charges that he didn't try to stab a childhood friend (or possibly a relative, the story changes sometime) to death. And maintains that he was offered a "full-ride scholarship" to West Point. Oh, yes, and maintains publicly his belief that the Pyramids were constructed by the Biblical Joseph for grain storage, and that they are not in fact tombs. (No idea how he reconciles all the corpses and funerary arrangements and inscriptions and such...)

He went crazier than Trump. And it's paying off. This frightens me more than Nehemiah Scudder, I think.

Tony Fisk said...

It's paying off in the votes left at the bottom of the Republican crucible, I think.

What bothers me about it is that it means that the US is fast becoming a de facto one party state.

Oh well, I suppose there's still the choice between Clinton and Sanders

Jumper said...

One aspect of the "good old days" trap is that much of it is explained by a simple fact: people get older. The world they want to return to is the world of a 10-year-old. Back when people were happier and freer! No worries, and less obscenity, and more faith!

Douglas Fenton said...

Dr. Brin,

You talk a lot about Trump but what about the man who looks to have pulled ahead of him in the race, Ben Carson. I find him hard to figure out. He is very intelligent, hardworking and focused. I think we can agree on that but at the same time he is a Seventh Day Adventist who believes the Earth was made in six days and all that blather. Nevertheless his whole profession is built on science and he has used scientific enquiry and its principles throughout his working life to great success. How can he reconcile these two opposing beliefs? If he becomes president then what would his attitude be towards scientific research in general?

LarryHart said...

Tony Fisk:

What bothers me about it is that it means that the US is fast becoming a de facto one party state.


The Republican Party, you mean?

Sure, the president is a demmy-crat (as Grampa Simpson once whined), but look at the Senate, the House, the Supreme Court, the preponderance of governorships and state legislatures.

There's a long way to go before the threat of a Democratic hegemony is an issue.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

The problem is that by accepting the existence of a social fiction - that the human race can be divided into other races based on superficial climatological adaptations - they leave the door open for the "mean racialists" to make the kind of over-generalizing and usually misconstrued assertions they make. Liberals, in their compassion for the oppressed, perpetuate the myth of race.


I'm sorry, but you seem to be promoting an opposing fallacy--the kind that lets right-wingers assert that "since we've transcended racism and are a color-blind society now, there is no need for redress of past injustices."

Even if it is the case that "race" is purely a social construct, there are still real-world consequences of being generally perceived to belong to one category or another. And it only helps the right-wing narrative to insist upon Orwellian language tactics which make it impossible to converse about such things.

Jumper said...

Paul is correct to speak out on the unscientific nature of "race" whenever it occurs. Larry is at least wise enough to know not to obfuscate more urgent points in the process. I do wonder which bigots have ever tried to turn the anthropological argument that it's a social construct into a "See? No more racism" argument. Are there any examples?

LarryHart said...

@Jumper,

I don't know that there's a cause and effect relationship, but haven't we heard "The president is black! What more do they want?" often enough?

David Brin said...

Tony: "What bothers me about it is that it means that the US is fast becoming a de facto one party state."

Fret not. Democrats are cats. Right now they are the only political party in America -- the Union -- but when the confederacy is defeated yet again, the dems will split into a moderate-sane-conservative new party and a more activist-progressive party. with a lefty fringe. They'll yell and scream and sane republicans will shake off their Murdoch-induced stupor and join the Blue Dogs, and the yelling will include negotiation and we'll have politics again.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

"Even if it is the case that "race" is purely a social construct, there are still real-world consequences of being generally perceived to belong to one category or another. And it only helps the right-wing narrative to insist upon Orwellian language tactics which make it impossible to converse about such things"

You are absolutely correct on this one. The biological fiction says nothing about the social construct, and does nothing to deny the social injustices perpetuated by the right wing. I have known some on the left who truly believe that because race is not "real" and they themselves are not personally racist, that the era of racism is over. On the other hand, those who think that race is real but oppose racism leave open the logical door for those mean racialists. By demonstrating that race is a social fiction, it helps to close the door on those overtly racist arguments used to justify social injustice. It will not solve our social problems all by itself, but it's a step in the right direction.

Fools who think that denying the existence of race denies the injustices of racism are fools who will jump on anything to excuse themselves (and perhaps their ancestors). This, too, is worth pointing out when dealing with people who are unfamiliar with these matters. A very good professor I had at UC Denver made the point that most people are persuaded by anything that sounds scientific because they are not scientifically literate enough to tell the difference between good science and scientistic chicanery. The other part of that is, as Locutus of Borg pointed out, our arcane cultures are authority driven. I had a psychology professor who once had a grad student dress in a lab coat with a stethoscope and walk between the rows of the lecture hall. He was hand a cup to random students and tell them "eat bugs" and in spite of their knee-jerk reaction to go "Eeeeewww!!" most of them reached for the cup.

This shows us something about why in some quarters religion is seen as more reliable than science. We know that there are good scientists and there are charlatans out there, and if we are taught science well we are taught to be skeptical, even of the scientists who are teaching us. Religion, on the other hand, teaches us to obey without question and to never doubt, a meme-set that plays naturally into that tendency of humans to obey authorities, pounded into us by 6000 years of kings and dictators.

I still prefer the uncertainties of science to the pat answers of religion. It simply comes across as more believable. However, I'm happy to ally with any religious institution that preaches against racism. I would be much happier of they accepted the science that shows that race is not biologically real in any meaningful sense.

locumranch said...



Sophistry has real-world consequences, and it is the global prevalence of this type of circular 'double-bind' thinking that will most likely bring about the 'end of days' in short order, as evidenced by oligarch elitists who stand on equalism, privileged persecutors who self-identify as victims, race apologists who categorically deny the validity of race, and pro-diversity apparatchiks who demand the most stifling type of universal conformity.

That said, you should think thrice about dismissing Treebeard's 'angry white male' as an irrelevant relic, especially when those angry males of ISIL who (1) represent, by generous estimate, less than 1% of the total local population, (2) have instigated a massive emigration that threatens to swamp a floundering frontierless EU and (3) now control most of Iraqi, Syrian & Libyan territory.

The time will come, my children, when that growing cohort of angry, depressed & actively suicidal white males will stop turning that lifetime worth of anger inward on themselves, shed that self-loathing veneer of properly socialized western guilt and share their inner pain with a wider world, with devastating consequences, both in the US and EU, and it is the Israeli role-model which will lead us.


Best
________

As a resident of California, David can tell you about the Bakke Decision, banning the use of racial quotas, & its implications to a post-racial, trans-gendered & Title 9-based society, especially as it applies to the illegitimate pro-female gender imbalance in academia.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

The time will come, my children, when that growing cohort of angry, depressed & actively suicidal white males will stop turning that lifetime worth of anger inward on themselves, shed that self-loathing veneer of properly socialized western guilt and share their inner pain with a wider world, with devastating consequences...


Repeating what has already been asked above: How is this not already being done? Or to quote the guy from "Life of Brian", "Make it worse? How could it be any worse? Jehovah! Jehovah!" The time has to come when you realize that when you smack a guy in the face every time you encounter him, you can't then demand that he does what you want or you'll smack him in the face. Especially when "what you want" is to stop considering him to be a bully.

I mean, what exactly are you suggesting that we do to stave off this Ayn-Randian revolution of white men? Give them everything they cry for in the vain hope that such demands for privilege would ever cease? Arm ourselves to defend against them, the very suggestion of which would set them off in exactly the way you and Treebeard assert?

Douglas Fenton said...

My father who is 93 years old and fortunately still have his mental faculties (he is still active in the smallish company he built) surprised me a while ago when he told me that he would vote for Carson. He is a dyed-in-the wool republican since forever and he has the racism that you would expect considering where he grew up and such and his age but nevertheless he likes Carson (and hates Obama). When I told him that Carson is an Adventist he was very surprised but that did not change his opinion. He sees Trump as interesting but not a serious candidate. That got me wondering why Carson can pull in people like my father and cause them to look beyond race and look at the man. If I were in the leadership of the Democrats I would be worrying not about Trump but Carson. He is in the realm of a true wild card. As an aside, Trump and Carson know each other well. They both spend much of their time in West Palm Beach and live close to each other. Carson and Trump golf together and they and their wives have invited each other to dinner many times to their homes. If Carson can appeal to both die-hard Republicans as well as the moderate ones then we will have him as the next president. That is why I ask the question what he would be like as a president and especially considering investment in the sciences both fundamental and applied.

Douglas Fenton said...

My God locumranch. Can't you just come out with what you want to say instead of enrobing it creepy-touchy-feeling shit?

LarryHart said...

On "race"...

When my brother was in India, he related a story of a woman who was kept waiting interminably for some service at the Embassy while other applicants kept getting called ahead of her. The woman's surname was Patel, which is as common as our "Smith" in India, but she was caucasian. When the staff realized that she was white, they apologized profusely and became deferential. They weren't embarrassed at having treated someone that badly--they were embarrassed at having treated a white woman as if she were a wog.

This ia analogous to a humorous bit I just read in today's Chicago Tribune, which may or may not be apocryphal. It tells that in the Jim Crow era, states like Mississippi gave ridiculously-difficult entrance exams to black applicants at their law schools in order to keep the blacks out. President Eisenhower apparently liked to tell of one (white) father who was so distraught at his son flunking the entrance exam twice that he demanded to see the exam. The punch line has him saying something like "You fools. You gave him the negro exam!"

Both stories exemplify the notion that racism not only exists, but is institutional. When discovered, it is not embarrassing to be caught discriminating by race. It is embarrassing to be incorrectly discriminating by race.

The moral of the story is in no way mitigated by the (true) observation that, in both stories, the person suffering the discrimination was white, and so the events of the stories harmed no actual blacks. Likewise, the fact that "white" and "black" are meaningless social constructs with no basis in science, while true, is also irrelevant.

Just sayin'

Laurent Weppe said...

"Both stories exemplify the notion that racism not only exists, but is institutional. When discovered, it is not embarrassing to be caught discriminating by race. It is embarrassing to be incorrectly discriminating by race."

The second story goes farther: it implies that not only were the test rigged, but the people who benefited from these were willing to acknowledge behind closed doors that they were pretty much cheating to stop people smarter than them from taking their place.

As much as I am convinced that most people are too smart to sincerely believe in ethic and cultural determinism and hierarchies, and I did witness some nasty discourses by wealthy upperclassmen behind closed doors, I've yet to witness such blunt candor.

locumranch said...


Larry_H's question about staving off "this Ayn-Randian revolution of white men" betrays his optimism because, most likely, there will be very few polite Ayn-Randian intellectualisms a-coming in response to what David & Tony correctly identify as 'One Party Statism' (aka 'Federalism') wherein political parties have become indistinguishable in their unifying & overarching desire to become the central national authority.

Of course, some of us will choose to 'Go Galt' and withdraw politely from impolite society (which has always been my intent), but most will not and many will go down swinging, screaming "Jehovah! Jehovah!" at the top of their (Life of Brian) lungs, in a bloody bacchanal of balkanisation, unless this is defused in advance by the voluntary (extremely unlikely) relinquishment of central oligarchic authority.

Watch what's happening in Europe for goshsakes: The PM of Romania was overthrown for the ridiculous reason of failing to prevent a fire at a rock concert; other EU politicians will dangle soon from light poles ( 'il duce' like) as the migrant crisis degenerates; and, the trigger in the US will most likely be just as emotional, spontaneous & intellectually insignificant.


Best
____
With his 'moist robot theory', Scott Adams is in complete agreement with BF Skinner & Behavioral Determinism: Free Will is an illusion; and, most of human behaviour is predetermined by a host of cultural, social & genetic factors.

David Brin said...

Yipe. I love it when he switches from babbling strawman-hallucinatory incoherence to cogently-parsed and wrong-headed but well-spoken gloom. Yeay meds!

Catfish N. Cod said...

Tony Fisk: "What bothers me about it is that it means that the US is fast becoming a de facto one party state."

A majority of the states are under Republican legislatures and Republican governors (not total overlap, but frequent). But mayors of major cities are overwhelmingly Democrats! This leads to major tussles nationwide as a "one-party" Democratic city struggles with a "one-party" REPUBLICAN state, and both struggle with the divided Federal government.

Laurent: It's interesting what the racial prejudices did and did not ascribe. Greater strength was always conceded to the black man (who got more exercise). Poorer intelligence was a concept constructed and then enforced to permit control. Almost never mentioned was the actual phenotype that drove slavery in the first place... better resistance to disease. Black slaves were desirable because, unlike Native Americans or even indentured Caucasian servants, they were less likely to die in epidemics. But even by 1800 this reality was subsumed by social constructs.

locum: Your scenario of the angry white man rising up to export his pain happens every few weeks in this country. That's where, almost exclusively, our pool of multiple-victim shooters arises. There's a real point to Treebeard's rhetoric: not that his description of "oppression" is accurate... but that it is the bill of goods delivered fraudulently by the charlatans generally known as the conservative media. And people act as if it were true.

Paul: "Religion, on the other hand, teaches us to obey without question and to never doubt, a meme-set that plays naturally into that tendency of humans to obey authorities, pounded into us by 6000 years of kings and dictators."

Insufficient! The 6000 year history of statism isn't enough time to pound such a strong reflex into us so deeply. Especially since barbarians have existed nearly all that time! Reservoirs of bandits, thieves, pirates, rovers, shepherds, hunters, hermits, and other anarchists who did as they damn well pleased. Yet these same people have that reflex in lesser amounts.

Why? Because it really comes from a hundred thousand years of learning to jump when someone yells "Lion! RUN!!" Our distant ancestors on the Edenic forest-savannah lived in a world where emergencies were frequent and lethal, when obeying instantly was life-or-death far more often than even Sumerians could imagine. Everyone from Sargon to Saddam exploited that reflex for their own gain, but they didn't invent it. It was already there.

P.S. I do indeed enjoy pescetarian dining! And thanks for the kind sentiment. Is the recipe online?

LarryHart said...

Laurent Weppe:

The second story goes farther: it implies that not only were the test rigged, but the people who benefited from these were willing to acknowledge behind closed doors that they were pretty much cheating to stop people smarter than them from taking their place.


Well, I'm not sure the perpetrators actually thought that many logical steps ahead. I don't think their first thought was to keep better-qualified blacks out so that less-qualified whites had a spot. More like they really "knew" deep down that blacks as a whole were unqualified, so the system was designed not even to dignify their applications as serious. Kind of the way you might expect an ivy league university to treat an application from a toddler.

I'm not arguing that their actions are justified, but that I don't believe they are consciously practicing doublethink, knowingly accepting the implication that the blacks they are keeping out are true competition for their own kind.

Paul SB said...

Larry, the biological ridiculousness of race is not irrelevant to racism, as racism proceeds from the assumption that race is biologically real. Dyed-in-the-wool racists won't be convinced by any evidence. Like our little loci, it is just a matter of faith to them. But if the biological reality of race is called into question it could change the minds of those whose neurons are not yet set in concrete. Of course racism is real, but when people realize that race itself is a fiction, then racism appears utterly delusional.

Laurent, have you read Gould's "The Mismeasure of Man?" When I read it back in my grad school days I was struck by the fact that one of the architects of the misuse of IQ tests in the US was a man named Goddard. I have no idea if he was related in any way to the much more famous rocket scientist, though I thought it could make for an interesting story if they were brothers. One was trying to help people fly while the other was trying to chain people down.

Catfish, I agree with a majority of your analysis here. However, 6000 years is a couple hundred generations, which is plenty of time to make substantial changes to gene frequencies (not create something new out of whole cloth, as it were, but increase or decrease the proportion of a gene within the population). Look at how much was done in that Russian silver fox experiment in just a couple generations of consistent selection. of course, as you point out, while civilization is 6000 years old, it is not that old in all places, so various sub-populations of the human race will have different selection histories.

As to the recipe, I have no idea if it is on line anywhere, but it is on my hard drive. I'll just paste it in. Maybe Laurent would be able to assess its authenticity, though anyone here who wishes can make it and assess its tastiness for themselves.

Paul SB said...

Catfish Á la Mâconnaise
(Catfish in Red Wine Sauce)

Ingredients:

4 large catfish fillets
2 cups red wine
20 pearl onions, or thereabouts
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
salt to taste
butter
1 pinch brown sugar
2 Tablespoons flour

This one takes some time, but makes a wonderful main dish for Friday night. The sauce can be used with several kinds of fish, I just happened to have catfish on hand when I tried it the first time, but trout, salmon, flounder, snapper and others can be well complimented by this sauce. Start by poaching your chosen fish in the wine, then remove the fish and cover, reserving the wine. While the fish is poaching, start peeling the onions - this is the really time-consumming part. Once the onions are peeled, melt 1/4 cup butter on medium heat, stir in the onions, salt, and sugar, then cover with water and simmer until the liquid evaporates. While this is happening, sauté the mushrooms. (You end up with almost all your burners going at once!) Boil the reserved wine until it is reduced by half, add 1/4 cup butter, then lower the temperature. When the wine has cooled a bit, sift in the flour, being sure to mix it thoroughly (don't be afraid to use the whisk). Once it is smooth, add the onions and mushrooms and bring to a boil. Remove from heat immediately, and pour over the fish.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Racism

We have a relatively minor racism problem here
(Anybody trying to treat the Maori the way your Negros were treated would have ended up in the cook-pot)
But we do have a period when the white settlers were able to steal from the locals leading to the Maori now owning much less of the country than they should.

It's too late to fix it - the winners and losers are all dead

Attempting to "fix it" by positive action in favor of the Maori hits a speed bump
Any positive discrimination just goes to feed the prejudice of the badly off "Pakeha"

IMHO the best way to fix this is to feed money and resources to ALL of the poor - be totally color blind but spend the amount of money that is required to redress the historic wrong
If slavery earned the early USA $20Trillion in 2015 money then that much money should be spent on all of the US poor

Before you do that you do need to fix your justice system so everybody is treated roughly equal now


Douglas Fenton said...

locumranch,

You said:

“Of course, some of us will choose to 'Go Galt' and withdraw politely from impolite society (which has always been my intent),”


So you want to “Go Gault”. You think you can be Gault by talking like him, dressing like him, walking like him and so forth thereby becoming him, the truly superior being above all the rest. What you want to be is a character in a book who never existed in reality. Ayn Rand made Gault up and gave him the qualities she wanted, put him into situations she wanted and wrote in the ending she wanted him to have. He is artificial from A to Z. This is unreal. If you want to emulate someone why don’t you choose somebody who really existed and who had to contend with the actual world with all its trials, contradictions, compromises, failures and successes? There are so many to choose from but I guess that would be too hard for you to do even although it would be much more valuable to you as a person to model yourself after a real individual. You are precisely like those people who dress up as Jedi Knights secretly hoping that by mimicking one in every detail that they will become one with all the Jedi powers. You are a wannabe of an imaginary character who never existed! Why not go for Batman or Indian Jones since we are at it? It’s the same thing. Pathetic!

Douglas Fenton said...

I think most people here would like to eliminate gerrymandering but what do we replace it with? Is there some type of automatic system that can be set up that takes into account changes in population and that would also guarantee fairness? I don’t see one on the horizon and an automatic system that can’t be changed can also over time creates its own distortions. If we change this system then we have to be very careful about what we change it into. I will not try to develop this idea because someone else has already done in it in a much better way than I could.

In 1929 J. K. Chesterton wrote on the paradox of reform:

“In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, "I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away." To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: "If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."

This paradox rests on the most elementary common sense. The gate or fence did not grow there. It was not set up by somnambulists who built it in their sleep. It is highly improbable that it was put there by escaped lunatics who were for some reason loose in the street. Some person had some reason for thinking it would be a good thing for somebody. And until we know what the reason was, we really cannot judge whether the reason was reasonable. It is extremely probable that we have overlooked some whole aspect of the question, if something set up by human beings like ourselves seems to be entirely meaningless and mysterious. There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease. But the truth is that nobody has any business to destroy a social institution until he has really seen it as an historical institution. If he knows how it arose, and what purposes it was supposed to serve, he may really be able to say that they were bad purposes, that they have since become bad purposes, or that they are purposes which are no longer served. But if he simply stares at the thing as a senseless monstrosity that has somehow sprung up in his path, it is he and not the traditionalist who is suffering from an illusion.”

Think about this a moment and come up with the reasons why the Founders set up this system which takes into account changes in population and its consequences on representation and then maybe we can discuss reforming it.

Laurent Weppe said...

"I don't believe they are consciously practicing doublethink, knowingly accepting the implication that the blacks they are keeping out are true competition for their own kind."

Yes and no.
As I said, I've heard some nasty shit from upperclassmen (like declaration that lack of firepower was the only thing stopping the underclass from genociding the upper-class), and the existence of parasitic individuals is readily acknowledged: the big taboo, the one thing that's virtually never admitted is that that excessive concentration of wealth and privileges along dynastic lines will produce systemic parasitism.

I'd say the phenomenon is more akin to groupthink than doublethink (yea for obtuse jargon!): that is: virtually everyone realize on an individual level what's happening, but nobody wants to be the first to point out the obvious from fear of having everyone else ganging up on them. The problem with mob mentality is not that people become stupid in groups: it's that more often than not they end up doing stupid things despite knowing better because they dread the consequences of rocking the boat.

Jumper said...

That's great, Douglas, thanks! Especially " There are reformers who get over this difficulty by assuming that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease." Made me laugh.
It's in line with what I note often as "wheel re-invention." For example "stand your ground" laws. Common law used to say if you are the only one with a gun, you say there was a fight, you are left alive to tell the story and the other man is dead from your bullet, unable to tell his side, and no other witnesses, you will be indicted. Wheel re-inventers think their short time pondering this enables them to come up with a better plan. Because all their fathers were fools.

Douglas Fenton said...

Jumper,

He often used humor to help make his point. G.K. Chesterton was a master at paradox questions. I think you would like his essay "The Twelve Men".

You can find it here:

http://www.chesterton.org/twelve-men/

Catfish N. Cod said...

Duncan:
"Anybody trying to treat the Maori the way your Negros were treated would have ended up in the cook-pot" -- But the parallel to the Maori are not African-Americans, they're Native Americans. And honestly I have long admired your (not perfect but much better) relations in that respect, ever since our gracious host brought the Maori to my attention in EARTH.

"If slavery earned the early USA $20Trillion in 2015 money then that much money should be spent on all of the US poor" -- There just isn't the will to sustain that much of a transfer for that reason; it feels like a violation of equality of opportunity, no matter whether it is or not. Attempts in the 1870s, 1930s, and 1970s to do that sort of thing all fell flat.

"Before you do that you do need to fix your justice system so everybody is treated roughly equal now" -- Conversely, there IS the will to fix the justice system -- for fiscal reasons (keeping this much of the population incarcerated is expensive), social justice reasons (the unfairness of racial profiling), and safety reasons (no one wants out-of-control cops).

Douglas: The problem with your Chesterton argument is that the Founders did not actually HAVE experience to draw upon when determining good boundaries. NO ONE had attempted electoral districts on this scale before in the whole history of the world! It was one of the reasons many observers inside and outside America were skeptical that the Federal Republic would work at all.

American state legislatures had operated by apportioning by county, town, or city boundaries, a method that used land productivity and the speed of a horse to roughly ensure reasonable boundaries. It was trusted that representatives governing themselves and routinely redistricting would avoid the apportionment problem they knew -- that of "rotten boroughs", where failing to reapportion for centuries led to ludicrous districts where seven people in a dead township could elect two representatives but thousands in a new industrial city elected just one. The manipulation possible when districts are freely mutable over populations of hundreds of thousands were not imagined; for the Founders, that space would encompass entire states!

Since they knew they were ignorant, they left the decision on districting to state legislatures, hoping experimentation would lead to new insights. And that is why your Chestertonian argument fails; the fence was built in this manner because they did not know how to build a proper fence. In such a case, rebuilding the fence is virtually mandatory.

Paul: Thanks! I'll try it this week.

Douglas Fenton said...

Catfish and Cod,

Good points! The Founders did not know how to make the right fence but they knew a fence was necessary, that it was something good, so we need to mend the fence and not tear it down before having a good idea on what would replace it.

reason said...

Duncan Cairncross
"IMHO the best way to fix this is to feed money and resources to ALL of the poor - be totally colour blind but spend the amount of money that is required to redress the historic wrong
If slavery earned the early USA $20Trillion in 2015 money then that much money should be spent on all of the US poor"

YES!!!! Somebody who gets it. Make the system redistributive and let the system work it out. Pass go and collect $200.

Douglas Fenton
Re The Chesterton argument - to be honest I think other countries DO have pretty good answers to the redistribution question. I take it you are American. Americans often seem to have a "not invented here" problem. Smaller countries are used to looking at how other countries solve the same problem. For instance in Australia there is an independent electoral commission that redraws the boundaries based on fairly strict guidelines: http://www.aec.gov.au/electorates/Redistributions/steps.htm

Nothing is fail safe, but good process can sure make a difference, and giving up before you start is a good way to ensure failure.

reason said...

oops
For Douglas Fenton, do be clear I meant Electoral Redistribution (Australian term, or if you like redistricting).

Douglas Fenton said...

reason,

I looked it over and it seems to be a good system. Whether it can be imported into the US is a different matter. From the document I see that the commission is made up by high civil servants that are appointed. Who appoints them and for how long and do they come under political pressure? Something like this could be introduced by one of the smaller, more homogenous states and see how it works. If it does then referendums to do the same thing in other states could be the way to overcome resistance from entrenched political parties.

reason said...

Douglas Fenton
I see Canada uses a similar system. It has good acceptance in Australia and generally works well (but it has the advantage of building on historically reasonable boundaries). I could not find out how the appointment decision is made, but it is announced by a government minister, but the appointments are meant to be non-partisan. I haven't ever heard of anybody trying to make the electoral commission partisan but it is a good question as to what is to stop them (it may of course be subject to legal challenge). I suspect the appointment is generally made on the basis of government recommendation subject to leader of the opposition veto.

Anonymous said...

How do you explain me? I started questioning my atheism based on my reading of scientific article. My first question hit me like a baseball bat. I read that scientists were claiming that there are more stars in the Universe than grains of sand on the earth. I have visited several places with tons of sand, river banks, beaches, deserts and dunes, which caused me to realize how insignificant I really am. Can I state with any authority that there is NO GOD? I read a paper describing the human body and all of its complex functions and made me question my belief in evolution. How could a handful of pond scum have evolved to a human body? There are many more readings but I feel too inferior to say there is or isn't a God.

Douglas Fenton said...

Anonymous,

You are just going through an existential crisis and questioning your deep beliefs. When you get to the other side you will hopefully have a better foundation on which you build your life.

locumranch said...




Not to discount the youthful exuberance of Douglas, but the idea of 'Going Galt' (of self-separation & opting out of uncivil society) goes by many names, predates Ayn Rand by millennia, has been offered up as a solution to worldly strife by the likes of Hawthorne, Fielding, Johnson & Shakespeare and almost every paradisiacal religion, and is currently referred to in the contemporary western lexicon as 'retirement', and I highly recommend it, especially if you wish to escape the fate of Boxer from 'Animal Farm'. Either way, GK Chesterton is an old cynic who I approve of wholeheartedly.

Best
______

"You are just going through an existential crisis and questioning your deep beliefs" in Atheism?? As if Atheism represents a "deep (religious) belief". Such foolish credulism is appropriate only for children. Whereas I (and others) find the concept of God useful in the prevention of infinite regression, Anon's rejection and/or acceptance of the Church of Atheism is none of our concern, just as our beliefs are none of his.

Andy said...

Regarding the closed DMV branches in Alabama, the truth may be more complicated. The percentages of blacks in those counties might actually not be higher than in other counties.

That said, I am still very suspicious. And at a minimum it will hurt all lower income people generally.

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2015/10/closer-look-alabamas-driver-license-office-closures

raito said...

Same stuff happening in WI. Apparently, it's not 'fair' to keep DMV and other offices open later hours in communities that can afford it. Very bad, zero-sum thinking.

Douglas Fenton said...

locumranch,

I never though I would thank you for anything but life still amazes me. You accuse me of "youthful exuberance". I am a 62 year-old man and you just gave me the best compliment a man my age can receive! I certainly hope I can keep this "exuberance" to the end of my life.

As for "going Gault" I well know that it has been explored very much by many people but it still comes down to the same thing. Basing what you want to be on a fictional character just makes you a shadow of that character and since the character itself is fictional it just means you are shadow of a shadow. You are two orders removed from reality but if that is what you need to survive then I have no objections. After all it is your life.

As for what I said to Anonymous you got it all wrong as usual. Anonymous sounds
like he is going through an existential crisis and all I said is let it run through its course and hopefully in the end he will believe in something, it does not matter if he believes in God or in Atheism or even in flying saucers as long as he believes in something that helps him find meaning in existence. Surely you can understand that.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:
Paul SB:

Catfish Á la Mâconnaise
(Catfish in Red Wine Sauce)
...

Paul, as you are at least passing familiar with comic books, I can say that your posting this reciepe reminds me of the early issues of Howard Chaykin's "American Flagg!" comic in the 1980s, in which recipes for the food that Flagg was preparing appeared elsewhere in the book.

Good times.

Anonymous said...

By the end of this year I would like to see three people in prison: Bill Cosby, Matt Bevin and Chris Christie. That stooges for Bevin stole the Kentucky race (and will try the same very soon in Louisiana) is a given, but in such a visible, off-year election? That is ballsy! My theory is that Matt Bevin was probably going to squeak by with a narrow win, but his handlers panicked and decided to use some of the voting machine backdoors meant for the 2016 General Election. Either this was a fuckup by some Kentucky GOP underlings or a "test run" to see how far the Conservative Confederate Party can nudge a race without getting caught.

Regardless of which Klown wins the Konfederate Klown Kar race, the Democratic candidate will have too sharp of a lead in Electoral College to be defeated in a fair fight. Hell even the usual amount of COP cheating will only narrow their inevitable defeat at the hands of Hillary or Bernie (or even Martin O'Malley!). So the Grand WIzards of the Konservative Konfederate Party know they will have to cheat BIG if they want to roll back the progress made by President Obama.

We will have to fight tooth and nail to keep that from happening. The next Democratic president could put solar panels on every Federal building, push through an Amendment guaranteeing the right to vote for every citizen, and bestowing statehood on the residents of DC and Puerto Rico. Our glorious flag sure would look handsome with a few new stars on that field of blue!

-AtomicZeppelinMan

David Brin said...

DF I have described many ways to elim gerrymandering. But my own is way-simple. Let the legislature gerry to their hearts content, so long as:

1) the area to perimeter ratio does not fall below some generally accepted minimum, and

2) the boundaries of districts for state senate, assembly and congress must have the least possible overlap. They must be maximally different from each other.

Now have fun. Gerrymander your way into perfect job security in the Assembly. You'll not succeed in thew other two.

No onward

onward

Duncan Cairncross said...

Gerrymandering

The easiest (and fairest) way is some form of proportional representation

First Past the Post is a terrible way of selecting a government

Berial said...

There really does need to be more oversight of voting machines and I'd be fine with that oversight in all states, but especially the red ones. I live in a very VERY red state and I've been upset with our voting machines since they introduced them. We at least need some poll workers to show a count of voters that have passed through their post and compare numbers of votes because THERE IS NO WAY TO VERIFY A VOTE! NONE!

After making my selections the computer displays my selections, I hit the 'accept' button and then....am told to go away, because my vote has been recorded. NO paper trail. NOTHING except an entry in a database or spreadsheet on that voting machine. Something so simple to cheat as to be trivial. This is so simply subverted that is should be ILLEGAL!

What I REALLY don't understand is all these 'small/anti-government' people in this state hate everything about government 'corruption and 'getting in their way' and yet they completely accept this mode of voting? I guess as long as team red keeps winning they'll be satisfied.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Berial

I do not see what is wrong with simple paper ballots and hand counting

If you have more voters then you can afford more counters

Anonymous said...

I think the rise of the Donald may the event defining the 21st century. Dave I hope Trump is not the event of the fifteenth year you keep talking about. A regressive income tax, roundups of minorities, the handicapped etc are coming. Nazi Amerika here we come.
And yes I'm on the list of people who will be eliminated by several criteria.