Tuesday, June 07, 2016

A new Mussolini? A libertarian alternative? Plus international worries and learning to stay calm.

Back to politics. The Libertarian Party 2016 National Convention, held May 26-30 in Florida, nominated two former Republican governors, Gary Johnson of New Mexico and William Weld of Massachusetts, partly in hope of becoming the go-to lifeboat for sane or quasi-sane republicans fleeing the sinking ship of the GOP.

(To be clear, Donald Trump was not the first to hijack that vessel, only the latest.  Rupert Murdoch did the truly major piracy decades ago, commencing to lobotomize most of the passengers and crew, transforming the once-intellectual movement of Barry Goldwater into a full-blown crusade against scientists, teachers, doctors, journalists, economists and every other profession that uses three syllable words.)

Anyway, if the Kochs and their fellow Trump-hating peers are going to make a third-party move, it will likely be via the Libertarian Party -- (which once had me speak at one of their conventions, and I have spoken at Freedom Fest and on Liberty TV, always urging a libertarianism of Adam Smith, not their current, childish fad of Randian solipsism, so I know these guys.) With time short to get on the November ballot, the LP is uniquely suited - qualifying already in nearly all states - to carry forward half of the Never Trump faction of the GOP. Not just by providing an alternative that's not Hillary... 

...but also aiming to draw not-Trump Republican voters to the polls and thus save many GOP legislators.  

That last bit is why the gambling lords (Adelson and Wynn) and carbon lords (the Kochs and Saudis) and media lords (Murdoch and Forbes and Clear Channel) are desperately pouring support into non-Trump conservative PACs.  Still, libertarians offer especially Koch a second way to turn a lemon into lemonade.  It would, of course, cement the Kochs'  and Steve Forbes's longstanding putsch to control the libertarian movement.

None of this will please the other major non-Trump GOP faction - Religious Zealots -- a fervor not much liked by libertarians. So, will the RZs go off their own way?  Or will hypocrisy rule, as they adapt to supporting a many times divorced, admitted philandering-adultering gambling lord with underworld ties who doesn't care what bathroom Caitlin Jenner uses?  I'll put wagers on the latter.

Can Koch money help Gary Johnson poll above 15%, so he can get in on the debates in Sept-Oct? Even if it helps Hillary Clinton win the White House, it could draw more no-Trump republicans to vote and thus save down-ticket goppers.

Keep your eye also on Freedom Fest, a big libertarian event during the GOP convention in Cleveland and a perfect time/place to spring LP surprises! 


That's where I met arch-conservative comedian and author P.J. O'Rourke, who recently said on NPR's Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me, "I'm voting for Hillary. I am endorsing Hillary," though going on to denounce most of her political positions. Which, he avows, are at least in the normal-sane range.

== Is the world going crazy? ==

A while back, someone wrote to me asking that question. I suggested they take a big perspective: Going crazy "compared to what?" Compared to 6000 years of feudal oppression, grinding filth and ignorance? Compared to a million years of fear and pain before that? Compared to when we wasted the talent of ALL women and all non-whites and poor whites because of prejudice, instead of wasting just a steadily decreasing part of that vast pool of talent, which we do today?

Or are you comparing us to what we could become? Compared to Star Trek - for example - and a much better world? If you're making the latter comparison then fine, sure, we're crazy-crude cavemen! Get angrily militant and determined to make us better, nicer, smarter and more sane! Sure, we fall way-short by the standard of those ambitions for a better, wider humanity. 

But keep in mind the other comparison.

Indeed today's top dogmatism is cynical gloom, shared by both left and right, without a scintilla of historical perspective. 

Our dreams for a better world are used against us! Because we don't live up (yet) to those rising standards, the narrative is that we can't! 
To which I can only reply: Snap out of it!! 

The media does not control you and you do not have to drink Gloom-flavored Koolaid. Easily as many good things are happening as bad, especially given how far we've come. And those good things are making us stronger, so we can take on the bad.

== A wide chasm ==

See how the satirical site The Onion utterly nailed the Trump steamroller way back in July!


More seriously... Alan Abramowitz on the Washington Post talks about America’s ‘two nations’ screaming at each other across an increasingly wide chasm in which policy disagreements have converted into hate. 

Abramowize raises neither “C-word”... which I deem to be “cancer” and “confederacy” to describe the etiology of the ailment. But he does lay down the blatant demographic advantages of the Union, this time round of our Civil War
.


At the same site, Daniel Drezner frets that President Barack Obama – faced with an intransigently lazy and uncooperative Congress – has been setting precedents for presidential/executive powers and actions that could be spectacularly abused in – shall we say – more flamboyantly irresponsible hands.  


== Fascism and history ==

This article by historian Fedja Buric appraises just which aspects of Mussolini’s original version of “fascism” can be compared to today’s rising mania in the US. He avows that America is in vastly better shape than 1920s Italy, with stronger institutions and traditions and civil service.

Where parallels get stronger are in the fervent anti-intellectualism of today’s right - with the War on Science now biliously expanded to include every center of knowledge in American life, from journalism and medicine to teaching to economics and law.


And politics… the art of negotiation and consensus building that allows a pragmatic-sensible people to incrementally fine-tune their shared processes and get things done. The Fox-Limbaugh campaign of 30 years has whipped up a froth of hatred of government and politics in principle, that our parents in the Greatest Generation would have instantly recognized as fascistic.


“Fascism promised people deliverance from politics. Fascism was not just a different type of politics, but anti-politics. On the post-WWI ruins of the Enlightenment beliefs in progress and essential human goodness, Fascism embraced emotion over reason, action over politics.  Violence was not just a means to an end, but the end in itself because it brought man closer to his true inner nature.” 


“Trump did not invent this anti-politics mood, but he tamed it in accordance with his own needs.  Ever since the election of Barack Obama the Republicans have refused to co-govern.  Senator Mitch McConnell’s vow that his main purpose would be to deny the president a second term was only the first of many actions by which the Republicans have retreated from politics.”


Where Buric fails is in relating his narrow historical view of fascism to other, older romantic movements, such as the recurring American fever called the Confederacy.  What this reveals is that a corner of the populace does not need hard economic times, to be whipped into hydrophobic fury. There is a thread in the American psyche that does not need desperation, in order to rush eagerly into desperate madness.


Meanwhile.. the hacktivist group Anonymous declares war on Donald Trump. Yeah, okay. Whatever.  For the rest of us out here, let's put Mr. Trump's victorious march in perspective, as the Washington Post does in an epic editorial:


"For all his unpredicted success, the number of Americans who have voted for him so far amounts to only 4.7 percent of eligible voters, according to a calculation by the organization FairVote." 


In other words, while the most vigorous confederates have spoken -- and there was very very little doctrinal difference between them and Cruz supporters... both wings of fanatical fury amounted to no more than 10% of eligible voters.

All that's needed is for the rest of us to wake up.


== International worries ==


Nigeria and Switzerland have agreed a deal for the latter to return more than $300 million of funds confiscated from former Nigerian military ruler Sani Abacha.  Abacha - who led Nigeria between 1993 and his death 1998 - is suspected to have looted up to $5 billion of public funds during his reign. This is the tip of the iceberg and the solution must be found by developing nations, themselves. 


On the other hand... "In a move that could simultaneously ease the debt of Ecuador and deliver a huge blow to rainforest conservation efforts, Ecuador is set to auction off one third of their pristine rainforest, 3 million hectares of their 8.1 million, to Chinese oil companies."  Oy.  


America’s year without a winter: The 2015-2016 season was the warmest on record. The Lower 48 states had its warmest winter in 121 years of record-keeping, NOAA announced this morning.


And don’t give us “yearly variation.” The oceans are acidifying more, every single year. Dig this well.  The climate denialist cult is an enemy of civilization and our nation and world.  They are lunatics who each day are directly harming your children.  They need to be told this directly, eye to eye… that they are fetishistically wrong about this as with nearly every other koolaid belief that they suckled as their “side’s” dogmatic incantation. They should not be allowed power over the human future.

Oh, BTW... in the arguments over bailing our Puerto Rico, let's not forget that Texas petitioned to join the Union because it was bankrupt and people were starving.....


== … and finally … ==

Emails?  Really? After 20 years proclaiming the Clintons to be “criminals,” all you’ve got is using the wrong email server? Here’s the hypocrisy. In 2007, Congress asked the Bush administration for emails regarding the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

Over 5 million White House emails sought in connection with this Congressional investigation could not be produced -- because they were on a non-government server. Two years later, it was revealed that as many as 22 million emails had been deleted -- in violation of the Presidential Records Act.

Yet this event received astronomically less coverage than today’s ‘controversy’ over the minuscule problems from the archiving of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

69 comments:

Deuxglass said...

Dr. Brin,

You said in in your last thread; “the vast trove of Science Fiction novels and short fiction represents a library of thought experiments”. I have been thinking about that and much of this library consists of new technical solutions and the resulting situations and/or an innovative tactic or strategy but there are some novels that put forward a new method of thinking to solve the problem. Larry Niven and Edward Lerner in their science fiction novel, Juggler of Worlds, came up with an interesting way to detect deeply hidden conspiracies. The book’s principal character is Sigmund Ausfaller who is a genius but also a full-blown manic paranoid. When his superiors want to see if there is a danger somewhere, they take him off his meds and point him in a direction and off he goes. Uncovering a subtle plot becomes his obsession.

Larry Niven as you know has worked for the government like you have and in a similar capacity so maybe in reality the government might have a team of manic paranoids doing something like that. After all, they spent a lot of money and years of effort to see if ESP actually exists so there is no reason why they wouldn’t have looked into this method also to give them signs of nefarious conspiracies against the United States. Perhaps there is a secret facility in the hills north of Los Angles hidden in plain sight as a Psychiatric hospital where schizophrenics, bipolars, aspergers and others are working hard to protect our country but then again, maybe I am just being paranoid.

locumranch said...



If "doing the same things over & over while expecting a different outcome" is insanity by definition, then those who vote to maintain the current political establishment (while expecting a different outcome) are insane by definition.

Change is either All (cataclysmic) or None: Those who argue otherwise are confusing active change with the pre-contemplative or contemplative.

Like (Bill) Clinton's 1996 'Mental Health Parity Act' which promised to phase in Mental Health Insurance payment parity incrementally over an extendable 50 year time period, Carbon Offsets & temporally deferred International CO2 treaties are bad (pre-contemplative; ineffectual) jokes.

As evidenced by the rampant emotionalism & anti-intellectualism contained in Naomi Klein's 'This Changes Everything' (Thanks, Jumper), modern Liberal Fascism has embraced emotion over reason & feel-good politics over definitive action, claiming the AGW-dependent drop in Coal Use (due to the hottest year on record, n'est pas?) as a 'Great Victory' against (yes, you guessed it) AGW.

Also known an Entrenched Establishment of sophistic, oligarchic & inactive 'Do Nothings', a Hillary Clinton presidency (and/or a preserved EU) promises the cultural insanity of 'more of the same' fiddling as Rome burns, clearing the way for cataclysmic (All-or-None) reactionary change & action.


Best
_____
Despite our best efforts to elect moral paragons to world government, we have elected a slew of do-nothing hypocrites, liars, deviants & opportunists, so perhaps the time has come for us to do the opposite & elect a "many times divorced, admitted philandering adultering" gambler. How could we do worse?? Sure, we fall way-short by the standard of those ambitions for a better, wider humanity, but keep in mind the other comparison wherein almost ANY change would be a vast improvement over the insanity of 'more of the same'.

donzelion said...

"Or will hypocrisy rule, as they adapt to supporting a many times divorced, admitted philandering-adultering gambling lord...I'll put wagers on the latter.

The issue isn't whether hypocrisy will rule, but precisely how to measure it.

How many Christian zealots screamed at Janet Jackson's breasts? Will they similarly scream at strip clubs on Trump properties? For 5 minutes or for 30 minutes? Will it be 5 minutes if they see it from Source X, but 15 minutes if they hear it from Pundit Y?

Determining the "programmability" of Christian Zealots is extremely valuable financial information. In 2005, "Terri Schiavo & the Culture Wars" smoke screened their financial plays as they tried to reverse or insulate against real estate positions.

Similarly, "Mexican judge" statements by Trump are a test run to see how easily they can deflect questions about 'for profit' universities (with 2-3 trillion in debt, that's serious money). Do the Christian Zealots buy that?

That sort of data goes to the pockets of only the best connected oligarchs - hmmm...can we privatize social security and pocket the benefits for ourselves? Can we continue exploiting medicine, and blame others for death panels that we built? Can we continue exploiting real estate markets, and blame others for their high rents?

donzelion said...

@Locum - "Change is either All (cataclysmic) or None"

Evolution tends to suggest otherwise. Small tweaks in the DNA, occasionally resulting in environmental advantages, often not, with a higher probability of the advantageous traits being passed on - slight, gradual, incremental (but appearing dramatic once seen from a different temporal lens).

"a Hillary Clinton presidency...promises ... 'more of the same' fiddling as Rome burns."
Rome is burning? I somehow missed it.

The metaphor is an intriguing one though - it fits with efforts to cast Hillary as a neo-Nero. As soon as she fails to don a proper Christian hairdo, they will interpret that as the signal to start with gun confiscations and then all true Christians who only visited Trump's strip clubs to pray for his guidance will find themselves tossed among the lions (or forced to move to Detroit, not sure which is worse).

Robert said...

Dr. Brin... given attempts to compare Trump and the current Republican movement to Fascism opens up a rather interesting door. Given that this is just another page from the Confederacy... does that mean the Confederacy was in fact the first example of a Fascist government seizing control? ;)

Rob H.

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - climate deniers are not about 'controlling' the human future, but delaying action in the present. Any action of any sort will shift certain costs - and those well positioned are trying to shift those costs in turn onto others.

E.g., Kochs moved from owning oil operations to offering oil services to the operator/owners. If anyone moves to erect any sort of carbon tax on production, the Kochs pulled themselves out of the cross hairs for that tax. However, they still need to do business with the owner/operators (who are mere millionaires - more henchman than oligarch on the national stage, but very powerful on the local one). Adopting a position as 'defender' of that group unifies all those voices - and encourages them to enter business ties with the Kochs.

This is actually one of the great distinctions between the Saudis and the Kochs. The Saudis have to pay for water and air conditioning for 30 million people. The Kingdom vies with Death Valley for heat records much of the year. They put their own family at the top of any important ministry, then hire technocrats to advise - technocrats typically educated at Western institutions who are quite familiar with science. None of them have any ties to the American oil owner/operator network that the Kochs do. They have no clear way to profit from the 'paragon' effect typified by the Kochs, no evidence shows they've tried to enter that network, and strong climactic incentives to play ball with the climate realists. (They draw scorn for efforts to avoid paying the bill, but unlike the Kochs, they have no one to shift that to without relinquishing power.)

----oh, and thanks for bringing this up -

"In 2007, Congress asked the Bush administration for emails regarding the firing of eight U.S. attorneys...Two years later, it was revealed that as many as 22 million emails had been deleted -- in violation of the Presidential Records Act."

'Bout time.

ElitistB said...

"claiming the AGW-dependent drop in Coal Use (due to the hottest year on record, n'est pas?) as a 'Great Victory' against (yes, you guessed it) AGW."

The sentence structure here is confusing me, can someone clear it up? It appears on my first and second reading that locum somehow thinks that warmer temperatures mean that people would burn less coal for electricity.

If that reading is correct, then the statement is silly. More electricity is used in summer months and higher heat conditions due to air conditioning. Houses in general are constructed such that is easier to retain heat than to remove excess. I know for my house my total energy costs (electricity plus natural gas) is much higher in warmer months.

Maybe I'm misreading its statement, though?

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch:

Change is either All (cataclysmic) or None: Those who argue otherwise are confusing active change with the pre-contemplative or contemplative.


Nah. You are missing the obvious. Many of us see some changes as caused by others. At the level of detail, the small stuff is either all or nothing. At the macro level, the big stuff is a summation of the small stuff, thus it is treated like a time series.

Regarding Utopia minux X, note it's publication date. The economic historians learned a great deal about their field once they began to behave like professionals after WWII. One of the things they figured out is that they didn't have a good definition for 'capitalism'. They also figured out that their explanations for the industrial revolution relied upon their unprofessional historical facts. They are still sorting out the consequences of this long duration mess, but one thing they've learned in the last couple decades is that capitalism is mostly about ideas immersed in an ethics framework. The only way to make it rigid is to kill it.

Alfred Differ said...

I'm looking forward to how the religious zealots cope with our pot-loving wing of the LP.

I got to confuse a poll worker today when I voted. The ballot I was to be given depended on my stated party and she couldn't quite grasp my 'No' response to Democrat and Republican options. L-I-B-E-R-T-A-R-I-A-N. Heh. The young lady near her got it and reached for a pile of ballots on a back table. We all chuckled after when I admitted she probably wouldn't need any of the others in that pile.

If the Kochs try to do a take-over, I'll report what I see. I don't think there would be much value in the attempt, though. Our Randians love to argue more than they love to win. Imagine a booth at a fair where you know people are going to gripe at you if you approach them. It's hard to sell anything from that booth.

Jumper said...

Garbage in, garbage out.

I went and voted again today. There was a primary for NC Supreme Court and also for the newly configured 12th Congressional district. I saw practically no one there. This one required the ID. (Turnout is not low because of that. It's popular disinterest.)
I got into a good discussion with a volunteer there about that; we agreed it was BS compared to how elections are really stolen, via absentees. In NC they ended Sunday voting because a lot of churches bused people to the polls who have no cars. Didn't want people without cars voting.

David Brin said...

Alfred I voted LP in one category. But as a republican facing my presidential choices I threw up in my mouth and then wrote in a relative.

The San Diego Union endorsed HC on the dem side and on the GOP side endorsed (I kid you not) Ronald Reagan.
====

Fascinated doesn’t even cut it. How DOES he do it? “If "doing the same things over & over while expecting a different outcome" is insanity by definition, then those who vote to maintain the current political establishment (while expecting a different outcome) are insane by definition.”

Except… that it has worked better than not just ANY other but better than ALL others combined across the history of our species. (Unless you parse very finely and consider Norway and Denmark to be truly different.) Better by every conceivable metric of well-being, productivity, freedom, science, entrepreneurship, health… and yes moral living. And in being a place where snarking cynics can grumble in perfect safety.

Okay so we fall short… but compared to what, son? Did you even bother reading my blog, this time? Our present system is infuriating and corrupt and oppressive… only by comparison to what it Oughta-Be. Not compared to any other society yet known.

Doubt it? Next time you are stopped by a cop for a ticket, offer him a bribe and see what happens.

For a confederate to diss liberals for emotionalism would be a fair cop, if compared to a truly adult society.

But compared to confederates themselves???? HAr…!! Har de HAR har!


RobH… indeed I have in many places pointed to fascism-confederacy parallels. The biggest being romanticism, obsession with symbolism, hatred of practicality, compromise, negotiation history or logic. And bitter resentment toward science. But above all a romantic need to pledge fealty! Utter devotion to a sanctified leader caste.

David Burns said...

@Alfred
Koch picked the presidential and vice presidential candidates of the LP. Fait accomplis.

Donald Gisselbeck said...

I am thoroughly tired of the "we're going to hell in a hand basket" meme. In some corners of this world (western Montana for certain) things are looking good. We mere mechanics are healthy, working 1800 or so hours a year and spending the rest of the time skiing, biking, enjoying music, hanging out in brew houses, and of course, skiing. I recognize that some (I hope no one on this blog) find this letting untermenschen live the good life so outrageous that they would destroy civilization to stop it.

David Brin said...

Mr. Gisselbeck I know almost no such folks, who begrudge a good life. The very few who want all OUTCOMES equalized are monsters. Fortunately they are very rare. Most liberals want more equality of OPPORTUNITY which is very very different and any sincere capitalist (like Adam Smith) wants that since you get access to maximum human talent.

There is one thing though. Charter airlines and corporate jets. Must... be... taxed to near oblivion. We need to use torches and mobs to chase the rich back onto First Class, where they belong! Once they start suffering our indignities, the TSA etc WILL be reformed.

locumranch said...


@Donzelion:

Scientists are notoriously bad at grammar, and this is reflected by the current misleading definition of Evolution. I've tried to explain this to others on this site, but very few besides David comprehend language. "Evolution is simply a change in frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of a population" is the current popular definition, but this is incorrect with the consideration of cause, effect & grammatical colloquialism in which the term "is" is a synonym for "equals". Instead, ask yourself if Evolution represents cause, consequence, process or merely allelic frequency. The above definition is (1) nonsensical if Evolution is defined as allelic frequency or cause because genetics do not constitute evolution in toto, (2) acceptable if genetic change is defined as an evolutionary consequence, (3) mostly in accord with the Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium when Evolution is defined as A PROCESS THAT RESULTS IN "a change in frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of a population" and (4) entirely valid assuming that the population in question has been subjected to non-random selection, genetic drift, mutation, a limited breeding pool & geographic isolation (all of which are evolutionary prerequisites).

@ElitestB: An appropriate moniker for an elitist who assumes that the US Amerifat preference for Air-Conditioning represents a global necessity.

@Alfred: Change is Qualitative; the summation of multiple small changes is Quantitative; and the quantity summation of multiple haystacks produces but a single qualitative haystack. Plus, the West still doesn't know how to define Capitalism when it insists on defining this melange of Socialism, Elitism & Oligarchy that we live under as 'Capitalism'.

@David: You sound like the Establishment Defender David Brooks on Charlie Rose (1) admitting that the Establishment has "Big Problems" (is broken), (2) professing his eternal LOVE for the same, while (3) voicing his magical belief that a broken Establishment can be repaired by LOVE alone, conjuring images of Tinkerbell-driven Hand Clapping. That, and his opinion that US has transitioned from a guilt to a SHAME culture.
https://charlierose.com/videos/26788

@DonaldG: Montana has a great record of defending Individual & State Rights. Didn't the Sovereign Citizen movement start there?


Best

David Brin said...

Except that everything that follows the "2David" just above is drooling, jibbering hallucination... other than that...

Funny how the ones most critical of air conditioning and most in favor of a somewhat stoical-puritan-manly acceptance of minor discomfort are... um... progressives

donzelion said...

@Locum - I'm repeating my last 'course' on DNA (taught by the amazing David Sadava, care of 'The Teaching Company' - I find taking a 12-18 hour 'course' to be more useful than reading 10-minute blog posts to actually learning and recalling something). I don't suggest he offers a novel definition, only that he uses the accepted ones as scientists use them.

I understand his view as trying to focus on mechanics: a TGAC sequence shifts to a GTAC sequence. Big change? Little change? It depends. Could be cataclysmic. Might not show any impact whatsoever. The iterative process (a small handful of changes), repeated billions of times, is dramatic.

Thus, in response to this statement of yours -

"Change is either All (cataclysmic) or None: Those who argue otherwise are confusing active change with the pre-contemplative or contemplative."

- I would say that the concepts of 'cataclysm' or 'irrelevance' are our own meanings attached to what we see, and do not themselves arise from the phenomena.

So too in politics: you see "fiddling as Rome burns" - I see slightly better numbers on employment, 5-10% more people with health insurance, and numerous other slight improvements by the federal government operationally, all with a substantially lower body count from foreign entanglements. It is slightly harder for a health insurer to dump an 'unprofitable customer' once some illness is discovered, and slightly better environmental policies. All those increments add up to a bit of a turn in a vast 'ship of state.' In my mind, a turn for the better.

Many of those who attribute meanings to the contrary do so by ignoring those measurements or belittling them - even if they endorsed them as the 'only thing that matters' a decade ago. To some, "too little" = "nothing." To others, "too much" = "oppression." To me, +5-10% = +5-10% (and that's probably a good thing - how much will it cost to make it 10-15%?).

David Brin said...

Especially since those accomplishments were made alongside quieter ones... like a competent and almost entirely scandal free civil service in which meticulously scrutinized appointees have done their jobs skillfully and well. And the end of trillion dollar wars simmering down to tens of billions. Reversal of net immigration back top Mexico and an end to gopper betrayal of our borders...

... and all the other outcomes comparisons I provide here:
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html

All done with 6 years of the worst Congress in the last century, the laziest, most corrupt and worthless legislature in living memory.

LarryHart said...

Maybe slightly off topic, but I have a question about the latest Donald Trump comment about the Mexican judge. Democrats are calling it racist, and Republicans are carefully avoiding condemning him for the comments while still acknowledging that they are racist.

I'm of the opinion that this particular comment was not racist, although it is actually something worse.

Trump is not saying that Mexicans (or later, Muslims) are incapable of performing the job of judge, which would have been racist if he did say that. No, what he's asserting is that he (Trump) has insulted Mexicans (and Muslims), so that any member of those groups attempting to judge Trump has a conflict of interest because they have reason to hate him for reasons other than the matter before them.

The implication is that he should be judged by a supporter of his because all others are disqualified. Me personally, I would think that the logic of that would exempt supporters as prejudiced just as opponents are. But what he's clearly aiming for is something along the lines that angry old white men (his base) are the only ones who are not biased against him, and therefore the only ones qualified to judge him.

If allowed to stand, I think that argument is more dangerous as legal precedent than it is as a mere racist comment.

A.F. Rey said...

OK, this article is too amusing not to mention, if only for the vague Sci Fi reference. (The only thing I can think of is the old "I, Mudd" episode of Star Trek, TOS.)

"Trump Virus Threatens to Crash Republicans Operating System."

http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/6/8/1535994/-Trump-virus-threats-to-crash-Republicans-operating-system

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - "All done with 6 years of the worst Congress in the last century, the laziest, most corrupt and worthless legislature in living memory."

Indeed. Curious how you feel about the Senate & House? Kamala Harris has taken an interesting line on ExxonMobil re climate change (paying deniers to deny, even as they incorporated climate change models into engineering projects). I love how certain parties have depicted a possible 'investigation' as though it were a fascist plot - uh, no: that's the attorney general's job, to find criminals big or small (esp. the big ones who would otherwise go unprosecuted). Don't know much about Sanchez.

Too many eyes on Trump, when all he does is roil the stomach. Harris is much more interesting to look at on a number of different levels. And it's fascinating that no Republican made the November race for the first time ever.

Alfred Differ said...

@David Burns: That is a bit of a stretch. Gary Johnson was our nominee from last time and many of us still like him. If one of the Koch brothers joined in, that wouldn’t be a surprise to any of us.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch: Change is both qualitative and quantitative if you are a good agent of change. Knowing what you’ve changed might require measurement of a proxy.

For example, in Britain between 1760 and 1848, their gross national income doubled. Something seriously changed, yet no economists alive among them at the time knew it was happening. Since then, many have searched for material causes and found none or terribly weak ones that are insufficient to explain the doubling. Today, that doubling has turned into a factor of 16 if measured VERY conservatively and possibly a factor of 100 if measured in a more reasonable way that accounts for quality improvements. Much like the Michelson-Morely physics experiment demonstrating the failure of our aether assumption, economists are failing to find a material cause of the industrial revolution. Obviously, though, something changed and we can measure it via proxies.

What could it be that changed? Was it all or nothing? If you measure the proxies carefully, there is strong evidence that it was NOT all or nothing. Whatever it was started among the Dutch and then spread to England before industrialization.

I actually HAVE seen a decent definition for Capitalism, but I don’t know that economists have reached a consensus on it yet. Capitalism is really about establishing an environment (we call them markets) for Innovation to live. Actual innovations face evolutionary tests and sexual mating opportunities in an analogous sense. From this perspective, the Industrial Revolution was the opening of the Age of Innovation. What did it though? What changed? As best I understand it, WE did by altering what we meant by a couple of our virtues. Bourgeoisie virtues came to be.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: I still count that as racism. What Trump is doing translates roughly as saying that only old white men can be his social peers. Imagine his reaction to a real jury composed by fair rules. It would probably be similar if the jury was inclined to decide against him.

Obviously it is also misogyny when only old white men can be his peers, but I think we already know that about him. 8)

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

If "doing the same things over & over while expecting a different outcome" is insanity by definition, then those who vote to maintain the current political establishment (while expecting a different outcome) are insane by definition.


While I doubt you meant "Those who blame Blue-State Progressives for the problems that Republicans keep causing, and therefore keep voting for Republicans as the answer to those problems are insane by definition", but if you had meant that, you'd have been correct.

raito said...

It's nice to know I'm not insane. I don't expect a much different outcome. The US system seems designed to grind the wheels slowly, and that's feature, not a bug.

One thing in the article not mentioned about having a, say %15 vote for any third party is that it opens up a LOT of political doors. I have little direct knowledge of this, unfortunately. But I seem to recall that getting something like %5 in some places magically lets the party in question be part of any recount effort, have their monitors in the polls, etc. Surely one of you smart people reading this know better.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

@LarryHart: I still count that as racism. What Trump is doing translates roughly as saying that only old white men can be his social peers


But he's not saying the others are incapable of judging him because of their innate racial (or gender) characteristics. He's saying they're incapable of impartially judging him because he himself has already poisoned the well by insulting them.

The bad thing isn't that he insulted someone for that person's race. No, the bad thing is (if he gets away with it) is that it is a road map for painting his passionate supporters as (ironically) the only ones who are not biased against him, and therefore the only ones fit to judge.

The Bush administration used similar tactics to brand complacent press members as "impartial" and those digging for actual facts as "biased against", but Trump is even more in-your-face about the tactic.

donzelion said...

@Alfred - "In Britain between 1760 and 1848, their gross national income doubled. Something seriously changed, yet no economists alive among them at the time knew it was happening."

I'd say they knew a lot of what was happening, and struggled to identify terms of reference to account for it. Population growth? Territory under crown control growth? Trade volume? New buildings popping up? Tools to measure "GDP" (and GNP) were still being evaluated and debated, but the underlying concept was clear to both Ricardo (pro-free trade) and List (protect infant industries). The debate was less about "what is happening" (growth) so much as "what to do about it." As it is now.

Discussion about economic growth is absolutely a useful critique of Locum's "cataclysm or nothing" view. Granted, there were economists who also took a 'cataclysmic' line:
Malthus - 'all this growth just means more people will starve when the bust hits'
Marx - "all this 'growth' is a joke - who owns the mode of production matters, not the color of the boot that tramples upon the worker, nor the number of boots the owners can hire"

Those thinkers are fringe players these days. Both Malthus and Marx started with a depressing grandiosity in their vision, where List and Ricardo contribute meaningfully even to today's free trade discussions.

David Brin said...

LarryHart excellent point!

donzel - the goppers will scream that Sanchez and Harris (2 dems) will runoff in November and they’ll try to switch back to the old partisan method, even though - dig it - the result will be conservative voters having real power since both KH and Sanch will fight to win them over.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: He’s saying they are unqualified to judge him. It is the attitude of an aristocrat. How he arrives at that position doesn’t really matter. He is cheating through his attempt to skew who can be his peer.

If you want to argue there are worse things than racism and he is guilty of them, I’m inclined to agree. With this particular judge, though, I think he is using racism to accomplish those things. He is trying to self-elevate from haute bourgeois to aristocrat. It is the very thing many people complain about among the so-called 1% that really applies only to the 0.001% or so. He’s cheating the way an aristocrat might try by skewing the judicial institution to favor him.

The Bush folks who played word games against members of the press weren’t doing anything as bad, but only because the Press isn’t part of government. The Press can’t write legislation. Undermining their role in transparency is a terribly bad thing, but there are worse things like what Trump is trying.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

If you want to argue there are worse things than racism and he is guilty of them, I’m inclined to agree.


Yeah, that's pretty much my point. Making the argument about whether his comments are racist (and whether that racism does or does not warrant loss of support from his own side) is a red herring that trivializes what Trump is actually playing at.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion: I’m not making this stuff up. Read McCloskey’s recent tomes. The second one refers to the causes proposed for the industrial revolution specifically. She methodically dismantles all the proposed material causes AND points to her fellow economists of the period to show they missed what was happening up until around 1860. There were a number of people who DID see it, but they weren’t the economists. Schumpeter from 1940 or so was rather scornful of Malthus and Ricardo regarding their blindness, so this isn’t an isolated academic belief.

It’s not the details they missed. Cotton cloth dropping in price by a factor of 15 from 1780 to 1850 got noticed. Buildings going up got noticed. Canals being dug got noticed. Population expansion to 27 million got noticed since before the Black Plague and during Elizabethan times, they faced Malthusian constraints in the form of farm land. (Paul SB might note that I get that here.) What they missed was the change in the rate of growth of national income from a fraction of a percent to a full percent. Doubling times went from many centuries to three generations and then got faster. I think Malthus, Ricardo, and Smith have an excuse. They lived before the boom seriously showed itself, though it is a stretch for Ricardo. Marx doesn’t have an excuse. The future he described left little room for productivity growth over the long haul. His vision had an end state for capital investment. Hmpf. Marx is best read as a social scientist, but his history sucks and that makes his vision irrelevant.

From where I sit, it looks like Locumranch has bought into old economic theories that he isn’t aware underpin his social model. I half expect him to say “Do or do not. There is no try.” Convince a man of this nonsense and we make of him an anti-incrementalist. It makes me wonder where he gets his literalist views on word definitions like ‘summation’, ‘quantitative’, and ‘qualitative’. Each haystack can be multiple things. Word definitions from dictionaries are the tips of icebergs. Language is loose and indeterminate by intention. That’s why we have mathematicians and lawyers. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: Okay. We are being invited to focus on the tree and not notice the forest I suppose.

I just can't help replaying chapters from Hayek's Road to Serfdom book in my head when I hear Trump speak. Trust me to fix things says the Strong Man. I know how to make a Plan work says the Strong Man. His supporters want to fit us with skis near Hayek's slippery slope. His allies think they can control the Strong Man. Hmpf.

donzelion said...

@Alfred - If by 'blindness' you mean they failed to measure with the same precision we use today, then no disagreement. But if your meaning is "they were ignorant" - well, I'm a bit more circumspect.

"From where I sit, it looks like Locumranch has bought into old economic theories that he isn’t aware underpin his social model."

I see his wording as less argumentative than ecclesiastical ("Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!"), which is to say, not exactly reasoning at all, but rather, a kind of poetics. I hope he's not fighting despondence.

Yoda mirrors ecclesiastical 'wisdom' as well - but his poetic 'profundities' may express his author's alienation/isolation, rather than any guidance others might seek - and such guidance by others who so often feel alienated themselves can be comforting - as ecclesiastic wisdom so often is - even when there's nothing rational to it. Tell someone at a funeral that "to every thing there is a season" is irrational and anti-scientific, and you're likely to at least draw a frown.

"Word definitions from dictionaries are the tips of icebergs. Language is loose and indeterminate by intention."
Nay! "Words must be given their correct meaning!" (a quote, as I recall, from a Soviet apparatchik manual) ;-)

donzelion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jumper said...

I was not aware of the 1780 to 1850 boom. I wish one of you guys would explicate. I suppose the cotton gin was a part, but before coal / steam power took off, were there other factors?

Jumper said...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wilkinson_%28industrialist%29

Paul SB said...

Jumper,

I haven't read Hayek, but the first thought that came to mind was the 1870s energy crisis, which was a crisis in the harvesting and transportation of fire wood. That sounds pretty trivial to anyone who lived through the OPEC Oil Embargo, but it's all a matter of scale. I don't remember just how that crisis was solved, it's been so long since I had an American history class, but I would suspect the expansion of the railroad must have been a major piece of it, as well as new financial institutions to back them (S & Ls were a new institution, if I recall). I'm sure someone could do better than my scattered recollection, but once the railroad infrastructure was in place, commerce would expand dramatically (true on both sides of the Pond - which makes me think of Terry Pratchett's "Raising Steam").

Larry,

Your thoughts on Trumpolini's gambit are worth spreading. Working with young people on a daily basis, the idea that Trump is a racist is hugely motivating (ironically the sexism doesn't seem to bother younger people much at all, at least where I am). But the problem of playing the race card is that there are huge numbers of Caucasians who see the accusations of racism as a dishonest tactic. Many Caucasians seem to believe that since they, personally, are not overtly racist, that racism no longer really exists. This is especially true of the better sorts of conservatives, who insist as an article of faith that "there is so much opportunity in this country" (a line I was spat at just yesterday by one of our math teachers) that racism is nothing but an excuse used by minorities for not trying. If more people were aware of the 'deep structure' of Trumpler's ploy, they might be a little more clear-headed and not get stuck in this polarizing narrative.

Robert said...

And the beginning of the end of the Republican Party may have begun with elected politicians leaving the party. It will be interesting to see if other Republican politicians listen to their conscience and pull their heads out of the sand to leave this sinking ship.

Rob H.

locumranch said...


@Alfred:

The British Economic Boom that occurred from 1760 and 1848 -- which doubled British gross national income & halved the cost of British fabric -- started & ended with the Opium-fueled Colonial Exploitation of Chinese Resources in association with British Industialisation [http://blogs.bu.edu/guidedhistory/moderneurope/tao-he/], followed by the Colonial British Exploitation of India & the Post-Colonial Collapse of the colony-dependent British Economic Miracle.

1720 British Parliament bans Asian textile Imports to increase domestic production
1720-1839 Chinese Tea as one of the primary Commodities in the British market
1729 The Chinese government prohibits the distribution of Opium in China (a failure).
1760 British began to use Opium as a Cash Crop for both Chinese commodities and silver
1773 1000 Chests of Opium imported into China.
1813 Increased Opium addicts in the Chinese bureaucracy causes concern in the Qing Courts
1815 End of the Napoleonic Wars, Britain consolidates imperial power in Asia and Africa
1832 20,000 Chests of Opium Imported into China
1836 Qing Court formally prohibits all imports of Opium and attempts to close the ports of Canton and Shanghai
1839 Commissioner Lin Zexu openly burned 1.2 million kilograms of confiscated opium
1839-1842 First Opium War: Qing Empire Vs. Britain and its allies in France, United States, and Russia


@Larry_H & others:

Trump's so-called Racism is indistinguishable from established Progressive Party Identity Politics wherein multiple minorities accuse the white establishment of inherent Racial, Gender & Orientation Bias in order to demand redress & special protections, and Trump has only done the same by accusing a minority establishment figure of equivalent inherent bias. As in Europe, the progressives have stepped in it big time by setting the identity Politic precedent, setting the stage for a projected White Minority (circa 2030 by some estimates) to demand redress from Inherent Racial Bias & form their own versions of 'La Raza'.

US Progressives have become increasingly clueless: They are their own worst enemy; they have over-played the Racist Card (which once served to shame & silence); and, by labelling what's popular (Trump) "racist", they are now guilty of making what's racist "popular".

There's a face you know
Staring back from the shop window
The condition you're in
Now you just can't get out of this skin

Ah ah ah
Ah ah ah
Ah ah ah
Hooo...

Your own worst enemy has come to town
Your own worst enemy's come
Everything is falling down
Your own worst enemy has come to town
Your own worst enemy has come
Everything is falling down


Best

Jumper said...

Evolving music (pointed out to me by Clff Pickover)
http://boingboing.net/2016/01/22/listen-to-darwintunes-random.html

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Word definitions from dictionaries are the tips of icebergs. Language is loose and indeterminate by intention. That’s why we have mathematicians and lawyers


I've mentioned this before, but it bears repeating in this context. I vividly remember the first time I saw the Star Trek TNG episode entitled "Darmok", in which Captain Picard is forced to learn to communicate with a race who speaks almost entiely in metaphors and cultural allusions. It made me realize that that is pretty much what we do as well.

The climactic scene is beautiful as you, the viewer, realize that you can understand the conversation they are having.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

But the problem of playing the race card is that there are huge numbers of Caucasians who see the accusations of racism as a dishonest tactic. Many Caucasians seem to believe that since they, personally, are not overtly racist, that racism no longer really exists.


More than that, I think a non-insignificant group of Americans thinks that racial tribalism is just the way things are, and that "political correctness" tries but fails to mitigate that fact.

For them, the idea isn't to avoid judging the races, but to make sure that their own race maintains its position as top dog. They see attempts to quash racism against minorities as dishonest precisely because "racism against white men" seems (to them) to be the only kind of racism that is encouraged.

This is exactly the sort of voter who Trump appeals to.

LarryHart said...

Posting again, just to see if it disappears again...


In today's New York Times, Thomas Friedman calls for a New Republican Party to become the healthy center-right party in America.

If he wasn't so blinded by ideology, he'd realize that the party he's calling for already exists. It's the Democratic Party.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/08/opinion/dump-the-gop-for-a-grand-new-party.html?ribbon-ad-idx=4&src=trending&module=Ribbon&version=origin&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Trending&pgtype=article

(Excerpt:)

This party needs to just shut itself down and start over — now. Seriously, someone please start a New Republican Party!

America needs a healthy two-party system. America needs a healthy center-right party to ensure that the Democrats remain a healthy center-left party. America needs a center-right party ready to offer market-based solutions to issues like climate change. America needs a center-right party that will support common-sense gun laws. America needs a center-right party that will support common-sense fiscal policy. America needs a center-right party to support both free trade and aid to workers impacted by it. America needs a center-right party that appreciates how much more complicated foreign policy is today, when you have to manage weak and collapsing nations, not just muscle strong ones.

Jumper said...

I'm not so sure about the existence of the supposed vast number who don't believe racism exists. I see examples of it all the time, and although I try not to be prejudiced, it's clear what's going on when I see it play out elsewhere. A bigot will deny he sees it even right in front of him. That's what makes me think the blindness is deliberate, not from mere bubble existence. A bigot will deny he's ever seen a bigoted act, not just deny he's ever done one.

To Larry and Alfred, I got a copy of Surfaces and Essences: Analogy as the Fuel and Fire of Thinking, co-authored with Emmanuel Sander (ISBN 0465018475) (first published in French as L’Analogie. Cœur de la pensée; published in English in the US in April 2013) and am slowly working through it, as each couple of pages is enough to give me something to think on for a day or so. The theme is the contribution analogy and metaphor make to thought and consciousness, with subtext being hints towards what will be needed for AI development which matches the human mind. He and his co-author are noting some very curious things: that almost all thought IS shot through with analogy and metaphor, and perhaps is pointing to a conclusion that intelligence can literally not exist without it.

Jumper said...

If you erase everything past the .html part of a link, it will still function and be shorter. It won't tell the owner where you got it, either. That's a pretty low-risk form of snooping, but since I automatically demur, and since it shortens the link, why not?
In other words,
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/08/opinion/dump-the-gop-for-a-grand-new-party.html
will take you to the same page as
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/08/opinion/dump-the-gop-for-a-grand-new-party.html?ribbon-ad-idx=4&src=trending&module=Ribbon&version=origin&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=Trending&pgtype=article

I'm a little slow on the uptake with computers so I thought someone else might appreciate this factoid.

donzelion said...

@Locum - re opium wars - Certainly an important factor and one that merits very careful thought, but not the cause of the expansion of Britain, so much as a symptom of it. Consider:

(1) Before 1768, Spain, the Ottomans, and the Portuguese were the primary European powers trading with China. For all three, the overwhelming bulk of the surplus they received through trade flowed to their own oligarchs (and ultimately, the Crown, as the first and most powerful oligarch in each territory). The oligarchs in turn 'invested' their profits into acquiring land holdings (either directly or indirectly).

(2) However, by 1768, the Spanish, Portuguese, and Ottomans were all in decline relative to other European powers (esp. France, Britain, the Netherlands, and later Prussia) which embraced novel structures for legal and economic organization largely because they lacked the commodity wealth that their predecessors had secured (by destroying 'ancient' state structures, like the Aztecs/Incas/South Asian/African kingdoms). The novel structures they experimented with required a larger middle class than had ever existed before: that middle class needed to be literate to inform themselves of trade opportunities, follow scientific developments, apply mathematics, etc.

The economic ideals that motivated those innovations in Western Europe were turned towards horrific colonial enterprises (including the Opium Wars, among many others). It is fit and proper to bear that in mind.

(3) Still, when the Opium Wars struck, something profound had changed: for the first time, European powers could clearly dictate terms even to the mighty Chinese (an empire which was still a larger economic power than any of the Europeans until late in the Industrial era).

My takeaway is that certain Western Europeans in the late 18th century rejected (were forced to reject) an 'old way' of organization in favor of one that placed innovation, productivity growth, education, and persistent incremental improvement (through deployment of capital) center stage.

That required sidelining (or beheading) their oligarchs to some extent. Oligarchs turned their eyes towards extracting profits from foreign territories, as their own land holdings in Europe became increasingly irrelevant relative to the power of capital itself. But the power of capital was established: 'old money' (inherited, tied up in real estate and commodity trades) was a vortex consuming surpluses associated with growth, while 'new money' (created, arising from a literate middle class adapting/applying/discovering science) was a cradle driving that growth.

David Brin said...

"Trump's so-called Racism is indistinguishable from established Progressive Party Identity Politics " <== I will shock (shock!) all be avowing that many on the mad far-left are definitely "racialists"... a better term, since they deem race to be a primary fixation in conversation, dogma and philosophy.

Racialist is not quite the same as racist. The latter tries to disparage others and limit their options because of membership in a caste. It is overtly nasty and Trump caters to the worst in his constituents... for whom there is ZERO excuse.

Racialists I do not like. I do not deem them to be helpful. Their obsessions oft do more harm than good and some of them asre simply sanctimonious self-righteousness junkie bullies. Still, to deem them the same as racists... when they are fighting to overcome centuries and millennia of oppression? Bullshit.

donzelion said...

As for Trump v. Judge Curiel - I tried to argue what he's really up to yesterday, then realized my argument skipped too many steps, sacrificing clarity for brevity. I'll try again.

First, Trump's statements about Judge Curiel are racist. They are also a cynical racism deployed to use prejudice to achieve additional ends. What ends?

Trump's no fool (not a super-genius either, but not stupid). His apparent "shoot from the hip" talk reflects brawler's instincts typical of a real estate developer who is used to playing multiple games at the same time. He anticipated Democrats would seize the 'racism' card (yet again), and anticipated that it wouldn't hurt him materially.

What's he really up to? I see at least two games underway:

The Political Game: Democrats will play the race card to try to lock in Latino votes. Republicans will then play the race card to convince white voters to come out in droves come November (otherwise, the Latino voters will bury them). It might work. (Netanyahu played a variation on this game in Israel: making several extreme statements against Palestinians, who predictably united to challenge his statements, which in turn drove greater turnout to Netanyahu's side - he's the most successful Israeli Prime Minister in terms of holding onto power for a reason - oh, and he also likes walls. Lessons Trump has noted.)

The Business Game: There's over a trillion dollars in student loan debt in America today, but it's unusually illiquid debt. A portion is available for traders to profit from, but those traders must value that debt based on both the Fed (and the value of debt generally) and Executive action. Obama has made signals of cracking down on some practices in that market (e.g., Corinthian colleges) - but hasn't done much about the bigger traders (who profit from the debt pools themselves, not merely operating for-profit outlets).

There's no rational or logical link between "Trump University" and the for-profit student loan debt market, but there's an obvious 'psychological' connection (that lovely term' university'). So long as the case is ongoing, there's a risk that people will pick it up - and how many psychological steps is it from "Trump University is a scam" to "student loan debt is a scam"?

That sort of debate threatens the traders in that pool. So, Trump reframed the debate: Judge Curiel is a Mexican, I'm building a wall, he's unfair to me. Now, the traders in that pool can choose to back Trump or Hillary (who may need to make overtures to capture Democratic students who worry about that student loan debt). Guess where their allegiance flows? Even if Trump loses politically, he's defended a very quiet pool with a very large chunk of money...which is itself worth a fair bit of money.

Games within games. Complex, but par for the golf course in any long-term multi-billion dollar real estate development project where priming is essential to extracting the best terms.

LarryHart said...

@donzelion,

I'm not convinced that Trump is playing three-dimensional chess. I think it's more likely he's playing checkers.

Trump complaining about the judge being biased against him (translated as "not securely in Trump's corner) is akin to Tonya Harding complaining that her skate laces got untied. He can do no wrong. Anyone who says he is wrong about anything is biased against him. Anyone who holds power over decisions which might affect him adversely is cheating.

I have trouble believing it is anything more complex than that.

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - hmmm..."racialism"...

If by 'racialist' you're referring to the sort of misguided agent provocateur who barges into a debate about freeways and says, "You guys stop building any more roads through MY PEOPLE's neighborhoods until you repay us for slavery!" - then I'm with you. A constant stream of distraction that aborts or hijacks useful debate, intended not to contribute to debate, but to acquire power outside the debate.

"Racialist is not quite the same as racist." Indeed, and Locum speaks poorly to assert equivalence, though he does so with different terms.

As I see it, the 'racialist' wants to assert authority based on the ultimate message: "You don't understand MY people! Let me tell you what it's really like! And once they anoint me, I'll show you our power!" A 'racialist' may prove little better than a standard anti-colonial leader, esp. various African and Latin American tyrants who 'liberated' their people from foreign oppressors, only to turn around and oppress their own people as brutally. But not always.

A "racist" on the other hand asserts authority based on assumptions about knowledge: "I DO understand 'your people'! Let me tell you what those folks are like! (And what I'm gonna do to them...once I take power)"

Some racialists become vile; some actually offer useful insights, and their focus on race is helpful to understanding meaningful social and cultural distinctions that would otherwise be missed.

All racists are vile (until they eliminate racism). They might achieve some useful things (like putting in a dam, a freeway, a university, or a hospital), but their methodology will consistently oppress both the race they target overtly, and later, any members of their own race outside their circle of cronies.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

If by 'racialist' you're referring to the sort of misguided agent provocateur who barges into a debate about freeways and says, "You guys stop building any more roads through MY PEOPLE's neighborhoods until you repay us for slavery!" - then I'm with you. A constant stream of distraction that aborts or hijacks useful debate, intended not to contribute to debate, but to acquire power outside the debate.


I don't think the people Dr Brin describes are necessarily bringing their own race into the discussion. If anything, the privileged white kids who insist that everything is about downtrodden brown people are even more annoying.

donzelion said...

@Larry - "[Trump] can do no wrong [in his own mind]. Anyone who says he is wrong about anything is biased against him....I have trouble believing it is anything more complex than that."

Well, not "much" more complex than that. Every politician always has to play multiple games simultaneously, as does every other businessman (balance suppliers, employees, against customers, and self interest). It's not like Trump is doing something unprecedented.

But I see the "can do no wrong" view ("I've never repented from anything!") as a sales device, rather than merely a psychological commitment. Trump is a master salesman whose product has always been Trump - he's quite good at selling it. Standard advertising: it's less about virtues of the product, so much as who/what the buyers want to be. "How dare you suggest tobacco causes cancer? What are you, a Commie? You trying to oppress me?" It seems ridiculous to us now. It didn't 50 years ago.

Call my university a scam, do you? You're just a political actor biased against me for ____________ reason. Trump has a long list of terms he can toss in to fill in that blank (Mexican? Muslim? Californian? Weak-willed stupid person? Ugly person?) Doesn't matter that the 'fill in the blank' attacks never convince the victim of the attack, and sometimes annoy others who find such attacks distasteful - what matters is how they play more broadly, and amazingly, such tactics work for a large number of people (just as the tobacco gambits worked years ago, for a while).

donzelion said...

@Larry - "I don't think the people Dr Brin describes are necessarily bringing their own race into the discussion."

Fair enough. Comes to the same thing, agent provocateurism of a very special nature. "How can we rebuild the freeway until we've repaid the brown people for all those years of oppression" - spoken by a white person trying to curry brown people's votes - or spoken by a brown person trying to curry them for his own sake - either way, the issue is that the participant's goal is to hijack a debate and turn it away from an effort to reach a plan for fixing a problem, and move it toward an effort to take power. Yes, very annoying.

OK, back to work for me... ;-)

David Brin said...

LarryHart you are half right. Today's Democratic Party IS NOT a center right party... It CONTAINS America's center right party.

The DP is the entire spectrum of moderate politics in America. In effect, the democratic party is the House of Commons and the GOP is the House of Lords and when the Lords have a majority they have just two priorities - to perform rip-offs of the people and (2) to prevent politics from functioning at all.

If the GOP vanished tomorrow, Thomas Friedman's wish would instantly come true as the DP split in half. Into a center left and a center right party.

Robert said...

And for your amusement, Dr. Brin, an article on Cracked providing six reasons why Republican sweetheart Ronald Reagan was perhaps the worse president ever, which goes into things like corruption (and Iran-Contra), Reaganomics, his anti-labor union practices that have screwed over the middle class, ignoring the AIDS epidemic, how his policies basically turned the Middle East into the quagmire it is today, and his "mental health care reforms" which significantly increased homelessness and basically dumped all those people on the streets.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

LarryHart you are half right. Today's Democratic Party IS NOT a center right party... It CONTAINS America's center right party.


Fair enough. And maybe it's changing this year, but since the 90s, the center-right aspect of the Democratic Party has been ascendant. The more left-leaning complain about that all the time, while the Republicans still caricature the Dems as commie pinko hippies.


If the GOP vanished tomorrow, Thomas Friedman's wish would instantly come true as the DP split in half. Into a center left and a center right party


That's kind of what I meant. If you look back at his list of specifics that he wants his "Grand New Party" to work on, the Democratic Party is already there.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch: British exploitation of their empire isn’t enough to explain what actually happened. You are making one of the many mistakes people make when they don’t dig into the history AND economics. That these events happened isn’t in question. The problem the economists face is they aren’t enough to explain the doubling of incomes by 1860. Only a hand-waving argument works here because research undermines the hypothesis.

You are welcome to blame people for bad behavior all you want, but something else happened beyond your assumption. A positive sum game happened and is still underway.

Alfred Differ said...

@Jumper: “Surfaces and Essences” was written twice as one book. The French and English books are not translations of each other, since the authors were trying to get across something that might have problems in translation. Both parts are supposed to be able to stand alone, but officially speaking, the book is both parts. If I knew French, I’d read the other part too. 8)

By the time you get to the end, I think you’ll see they make a good case for ALL human thought being a matter of analogy. All. By the time I was done with it, I realized our languages are also ‘compression algorithms’ and represent a culture’s knowledge that isn’t in any single person’s mind. We do a lot more than talk to each other when we talk to each other.

Take your time with it and enjoy it. 8) It helped me deal with how my autistic son learns and also showed me a thing or two that I thought I knew but didn’t about math and physics learning. By the time I was done, I had a very different view on the role story tellers/writers play in our communities too.

Hofstadter fans should spend the time needed to comprehend it. It is worth it.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion: The novel structures they experimented with required a larger middle class than had ever existed before: that middle class needed to be literate to inform themselves of trade opportunities, follow scientific developments, apply mathematics, etc.

Heh. Spoken like a lawyer. 8)

McCloskey’s argument is the structure was already there. The various parts of the bourgeoisie chose to dignify labor and those who innovated in the field while also liberating them to act upon those innovations. The aristocrats dragged along, but couldn’t prevent the liberation since most of the bourgeois were townspeople keeping themselves down. Guilds, tariffs, and other protections had to be dismantled and much of it could be done by the bourgeois themselves.

McCloskey argues that this worked up until the failed revolutions of 1848-49 when one of bourgeois clade turned on the others. The ‘clerisy’ abandoned the liberal path and moved to socialism. They argued they could design a better society instead of freeing the one that existed and letting it innovate liberations. She argues we are still dealing with this treason.

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - "The DP is the entire spectrum of moderate politics in America. In effect, the democratic party is the House of Commons and the GOP is the House of Lords and when the Lords have a majority they have just two priorities - to perform rip-offs of the people and (2) to prevent politics from functioning at all."

I am increasingly curious why you're a registered Republican if you regard them thus. But then again, I am glad to know of at least one Republican with a thoroughgoing moderate, rational agenda (even if you have called it 'militant', your concept of militancy would make a real militant smirk).

David Brin said...

donzelion I am a registered republican for 2 reasons:

1) For years I prescribed a radical solution to gerrymandering... not to wait for courts or politicians to end that vicious crime, but for citizens to NEUTRALIZE it. If you are in a district that has been gerried to favor one party JOINT THE PARTY OF THAT DISTRICT! Then you get to vote in the only election that matters. The primary.

2) I've found it kinda cool to rock folks expectations. An immature pleasure.

Thing is, the voters in California rendered my solution moot! By instituting the best voting laws in the Country, eliminating gerrymandering and eliminating partisan primaries! So the ONLY effect of my party registration was to make me look at the Republican presidential ballot on Tuesday and throw up in my mouth... and write in the name of my son.

Yeah, I'll switch. As if it matters. But my prescription is still the way to go, in other states! And I urge all of you, if you live in a gerrymandered GOP district to JOIN the Grand old Party of Lincoln. Well... while it still exists.

David Brin said...

COntinue here if you like.

onward

onward

donzelion said...

@Alfred - re Opium Wars, 1768 - 1840s/60s Industrialization in Britain -
Heh. Spoken like a lawyer. 8)
LOL, a lousy lawyer at that. A good lawyer does a 3 hour job in 6 hours.

McCloskey’s argument is the structure was already there.
I'm not suggesting Smith + Ricardo et. al. were geniuses who transformed everything, so much as they were representatives of a number of shifts that occurred mostly among Brits/Dutch/French and not among Spanish/Portuguese/Ottomans.

But to me, no "bourgeoisie [chose] to dignify labor" - so much as they lacked the arsenal of tools to oppress them that the aristocrats maintained. Fear drives wages - fear that a 'useful' laborer will leave, or refuse to work, or sabotage the work. French, British, Dutch bourgeoisie had to handle their fears - through contractual relations (whereas aristocrats handled their laborers through property relations - esp. evictions). That sort of fear meant leaving the laborer alone to innovate, so long as they fulfilled their obligations however they pleased (and being lazy humans, they came up with ingenious means of saving themselves time).

Jumper said...

Like the Spanish Inquisition, no one expected the bourgeoisie.

Chris Heinz said...

You need to hook up with @stephenpinker . You have complementary messages ...

David Brin said...

Chris H. I often tout Pinker. As for the industrial revolution... um duh? Petroleum plus vast increases in practical knowledge.

onward.

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