Thursday, September 15, 2016

Stolen elections and gerrymandering

I am beyond angry at Hillary Clinton for not displaying focused fury over charges by Donald Trump that the election will be 'rigged.' 

This is a poison pill aimed at de-legitimizing her presidency, from the start. And our entire republic. It must be answered, right away, with a challenge. With a dare. 

With a wager.


This is so important that I will say it in several postings:

Hillary Clinton needs to declare this as a crisis! She should demand that Donald Trump put up or shut up, on electoral fraud. 

Insist that he appoint 6 friends who are “sages beyond reproach” to join six she would appoint, plus six chose by retired US Supreme Court Justice and GOP appointee Sandra Day O’Conner. And have that commission investigate electoral rigging charges right now!  

No delays. No excuses. And they should look at everything from voting machines to voter suppression to gerrymandering. And no time for sage perfection. Report back in two weeks!

It would be an aggressive, assertive action and she’d look decisive, presidential. And it is utterly necessary, lest her presidency begin less valuable than a bucket of tepid spit.

== Might voting machines be rigged? ==

We'll get back to that. But it is part of a bigger context. Because Donald Trump is already concocting face-saving excuses

Betrayal by his own party’s establishment? Check. Debates scheduled opposite football? His falling poll numbers are a plot and the election is rigged? Check. So how might he rationalize at the very last moment dropping out of the race, in order to evade being the Biggest Loser?

I know someone who suggested one plausible scenario…

“I have been threatened with something so terrible – it really is huge – so huge, so amazing that I can’t tell you about it! Believe me, I'm a fighter, but I’ll take this one in the gut, for the sake of my country!”

Sound plausible? Sure, but let’s get back to the old standby. The real fallback position that’s already being prepared. Which is “the other side cheated!”

Asserting that there is already “widespread voter fraud,” Donald Trump confidant Roger Stone said Trump should declare that “if there’s voter fraud, this election will be illegitimate ... we will have a constitutional crisis, widespread civil disobedience, and the government will no longer be the government…. and when I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath.”  And yes, that is a Trump confidant.

(In contrast look at a case where the election was genuinely stolen, much to our subsequent, injury, pain and loss. Sixteen years ago, after the contentious 2000 recount, Al Gore gave a gracious concession speech that invoked Stephen Douglas’s words to Abraham Lincoln: “Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism. I’m with you, Mr. President, and God bless you.”)

Let’s put aside the blatant calls to treason, that will be heard and obeyed by parts of the revived confederacy, just as such calls were heeded when the slave states went volcanically crazy in wrath over losing the White House for the first time in 30 years, in 1860.  Oh, Trump’s defeat could unleash a wave of Timothy McVeighs. But no… let’s put off (for now) such dark nightmares. Instead take the question at face value and ask:

Can that happen? Can the vote be warped or manipulated? 

Of course it can! Though the biggest cheats – like gerrymandering and voter suppression -- are all perfected and done-most by Red States, where Donald Trump has most of his strength. Likewise, most of the companies making voting machines used to be owned (I have not checked lately) by Republican Party factotums and major donors.

But zero in on the machines. After the year 2000 punch card fiascos, those systems were largely replaced with electronic voting systems. “The intentions were pure. The consequences were a technological train wreck.”

This article from Wired relates some scary stories. “Verified Voting also has a handy map of who votes using what equipment, which lets you drill down both to specific counties and machine brands, so you can see what’s in use at your polling station.” 

Good news: More than half of the states conduct post-election auditing, by checking vote totals against paper records, to ensure that the votes are accurate.  Citizen volunteers can take part in these hand audits.

Even better news, Florida and Ohio – two of the three main decider battleground states – have auditing. Pennsylvania, not so much.

But this article ignores a crucial point. That cheating via voting machines would not be aimed at the closely monitored presidential race. Rather, the most effective and vital cheating will happen where the real political power and money are at stake… down ticket races for state offices and Assembly. Because if statehouses change hands, then the voting systems (and cheats) may be reformed. 

If you can cheat, then that is where you decidedly will

Presidents come and go.  But any state that ends gerrymandering never goes back.  And when enough do, well, then a day will come when the courts will have the guts to stop it, at long last. 

No, the cheaters are frantic.

And that is why it should be put right on the front burner.

== Why your party-affiliation should be pragmatic, geographic, and tactical ==

Reiterating that last point; In many ways, the down-ticket elections are more important, this year, than ever.  That is because we’ve had an executive and judicial branch for 8 years, trying to do their jobs, but the laziest, most worthless Congress in the history of the republic. 

I have long urged, for example, that Bernie-or-Bust characters should prove they aren’t useless-dreamy purists by doing the grittiest and most practically urgent kind of political activism… choosing some down ticket race for Congress or Assembly where a bit of extra effort by just one person might make a real difference!

Like in North San Diego County, where that piece-of-work Darrell Issa finally faces a real challenger – a retired Marine Colonel -- who might plausibly eject one of the worst representatives in U.S. history. And we are helping as we can.

Oh?  You say that local and down ticket elections are futile, where you live?  A lonely democrat in a gerrymandered Republican district?  Or vice versa?

Well, a district like yours is the ideal place to try the tactic that I recommend here.

Democrats who live in a hopelessly (and likely gerrymandered) Republican district... and yes Republicans in a hopelessly Democratic one should re-register with the whatever party "owns" the district. For example, in a heavily conservative district, your rep will be republican. Live with that fact. 

But local liberals can help protect a local moderate gopper rep from being savaged by tea partiers if he or she dares to actually negotiate with democrats. In other words, re-register in order to vote in the only election that matters, in your gerried district: the Primary.

It's been tested in California, where all voters can now vote in a shared, open primary. Often  the fall general election winds up between two demmies or two goppers, with an amazing side effect! 

The republican voters in a 2-demo race have gained influence, because they can no longer be ignored. They are listened-to, more than before.  The two dems running against each other seek out the local Republican clubs, and listen to moderate conservatives!  And vice versa. The chief casualty has been rabid partisanship, which has been largely killed, dead.

The California method required a citizen uprising. But YOU can emulate it, wherever you live, by convincing your pals to re-register tactically. Strategically.

I wish I had some way to make this a national movement. It is so simple and logical.  And it could rob cynical gerrymandering of HALF its power to harm practical and civil politics in America.  

== Fact-checking ==

Both sides in our current, fervid and fevered political frenzy accuse each other of being liars.  One party denounces all fact-checking services as “biased.” The other has all the scientists but still can be pretty fast and loose with too-easy generalizations.

Here are some “corrections” or comments on the acceptance speeches by Donald Trump


Oh, and Trump jokes he'll blame Pence if he loses the election. 

== The 4th Branch of Government ==

Finally, one more factor for you to consider. Perhaps the most important one.

Every party has a shadow cabinet -- hundreds of factotums who line up for jobs in a new administration.  Despite frenetic GOP efforts to find vaunted "corruption" among Clinton and Obama appointees, those two are the only 8 year administrations in U.S. history never to see even a single high official - or even intermediate - convicted or even indicted for malfeasance of office. And not for lack of trumped-up, lame-o hearing after hearing and 24 years of relentless "investigations." 

Please read that paragraph again.  Not one allegation of malfeasance in office proved or even indictable against even one clintonite or obamite official, across 16 years, despite  upwards of $500million in witch hunts. The first time it’s ever happened. Facts are a bitch.

In contrast, the GOP brain trust consists - to a frightening degree - of Koch shills, child molesters and a conga line of orange prison jumpsuits.

You are actually gonna tell me that Trump will enter office and not go to to Washington GOP pols for advice on appointments? Or that those pols won't have thick folios of 'the usual suspects"? Factotums tanned and rested and ready from both Bush Administrations.


Dig it, this is why Ryan and McConnell et. al. are playing nice with DT!

Admit it, you never even thought about this fourth branch of government.  It matters.

79 comments:

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Duncan, (from the last thread) the United States Food and Drug Administration makes a distinction between patents and exclusivity. See:

http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/ucm079031.htm

Also, until recently "reverse payment patent settlements" or "pay-for-delay" payments were not uncommon. Under this system, the original patent-holder of a particular pharmaceutical would make a large payment to a potential generic manufacturer for an agreement to not produce the generic version of the drug for a period of time. There are many other ways to essentially extend the period of exclusivity for many years.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_payment_patent_settlement

Treebeard said...

What falling poll numbers? Trump just closed to even with (h)Illary in one week. Why would he think about dropping out or any of this other trickery?

The GOP establishment is largely opposed to Trump; this is not your Bushite brand of Republicanism. Trump's victory spells the end for the old GOP more than anything. The fact that Trump is so competitive, despite being opposed by almost the entire mainstream media, the DNC and the GOPe, massively outspent and having no party apparatus behind him should tell you something about the level of dissatisfaction with the status quo. This is amazing stuff; a real insurgency, which the opinion-maker class can't seem to come to grips with. It's almost as if they actually believe the fairy tales they tell themselves about America in their media. LOL.

David Brin said...

Surprisingly, a whiff of legitimacy has made Treebeard sufficiently cogent and less sputum-spewing that I refer to him by his 'name.'

Oh, but the confederacy seemed ahead at many points in the 1860s, when it never stood a chance (thank God.)

Trump is 'even' now because large numbers who will vote for Hillary know they'll be wincing when they do... and are punishing her now - in advance - by refusing to commit for polls.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Hillary Clinton needs to declare this as a crisis! She should demand that Donald Trump put up or shut up, on electoral fraud.

Insist that he appoint 6 friends who are “sages beyond reproach” to join six she would appoint, plus six chose by retired US Supreme Court Justice and GOP appointee Sandra Day O’Conner. And have that commission investigate electoral rigging charges right now!

No delays. No excuses. And they should look at everything from voting machines to voter suppression to gerrymandering. And no time for sage perfection. Report back in two weeks!


It would be nice if such an investigation were actually done. Not only would it prove the election isn't rigged against Republicans, but how Republicans are rigging elections themselves.

Which is why no bi-partisan commission will ever investigate such a thing.

Cynthia Beal said...

You may be right about the voters-in-waiting, but I'm not ready to commit, especially after her silence during a suspicious primary contest where minions and zealots broke the rules, cheated against the other democratic candidates, and HRC said nothing in defense of fair play, but was silent throughout the whole controversy, and continues to act as if nothing has happened.

That said, I WILL vote - but the question is still out as to for whom, with zero support for the current selection - and through it all, I maintain a stubborn hope that the rumors of her diminished health (or her records improprieties, her choice) eventually reinstate my preferred candidate - Bernie Sanders - as the best Democratic nominee in 2016. Unicorn toddy time, I know. But I could use a couple of unicorns right about now. 🖖🌈

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

What falling poll numbers? Trump just closed to even with (h)Illary in one week.
...
The fact that Trump is so competitive, despite being opposed by almost the entire mainstream media


Don't you see the discord between those two assertions? Who puts out most of those polls showing Trump catching up or ahead? The mainstream media. CNN or CBS or FOX or Time Magazine or the Washington Post or the New York Times.

The media may be flabbergasted by Trump and a bit scared of him, but he's also great for their ratings. They may not endorse his deplorable (!) views, but they want him in the race, and on screen as much as possible.

Ed Baptist said...

The state government in NC tried to rig elections from day 1 by putting up all sorts of obstacles for voters who didn't look like them. They have been losing in court recently. Perhaps Mitch McConnell has been well and truly hoist by his own petard in his concocting fake history to block action on any SCOTUS nominee.

LarryHart said...

Cynthia Beal:

I WILL vote - but the question is still out as to for whom, with zero support for the current selection


I'm with radio host Norman Goldman on this issue--if I have to live with President Trump, I'll be blaming you.


I maintain a stubborn hope that the rumors of her diminished health (or her records improprieties, her choice) eventually reinstate my preferred candidate - Bernie Sanders - as the best Democratic nominee in 2016


Bernie is still a Senator, and he'll be able to do much more good with President Hillary signing the legislation he supports than with President Trump vetoing it.

Everything Bernie fights for depends on taking back congress and the Supreme Court from the Republicans. But you're willing to throw that away with a friggin' protest vote? I hope you can live with yourself.

Jumper said...

The random audits newly mandated in NC are still a bit shadowy to me. I hope to get the League of Women Voters to witness - so I don't have to.
I hope you get up to speed on this, Ed. We need the audits done honestly with real random numbers, not massaged selections.

David Brin said...

The stunning... and conceivably sexist... disproportionality of standards that is applied to Clinton is appalling. If Absolutely and I mean absolutely every accusation against her -- (that is made by anyone outside the "she killed Vince Foster tinfoil hat crowd) -- were proved 100% true, not one bit of it would amount to even slightly indictable. Nor compare to one % of crimes committed regularly by every single member of the GOP establishment.

Cynthia can point to nothing other than some DNC factotums being caught murmuring in her favor. She ignores that Bernie had a huge hearing, was HEARD! And got 3 million fewer votes than she did. Votes that were not stolen or miscounted or cheated away from him. She... got... more... votes.

What a stunning load of malarkey. If the Dems get a Congress then Bernie will dicker and push for bills that she will sign. She may compromise slightly more than you or Bernie like, but the Justices she appoints will end gerrymandering and Citizens United. The EPA and NSF heads she appoints will protect the environment. A fully funded IRS will go back to auditing zillionaires - their job. And the SEC will get funding to do THEIR jobs.

Portraying HC as some kind of right wing fascist is romantic claptrap.

If you still don't like her... and prefer my dad -- I mean Bernie (my dad's clone) ... then go down ticket and help get a Congress that will hold her feet to the fire! All the rest is preening romanticism.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Portraying HC as some kind of right wing fascist is romantic claptrap.


If it were true, then all of the NeverTrump Republicans would be salivating over her rather than staying home or finding reasons to vote for Gary Johnson.

This election is not a game show where you don't vote for Hillary because you want to deny her the prize. Either Hillary or Trump is going to be the next president of the United States, and will act on legislation and nominate USSC justices. Which one you can live with is the only choice to be made.

As Hamilton might put it:

I have never agreed with Hillary once.
We have fought on like seventy-five different fronts.
But when all is said and all is done,
Hillary has beliefs. Trump has none.

locumranch said...


The cognitive dissonance is strong in this thread:

David begins by comparing Hillary_C's potential presidency to "a bucket of tepid spit"; and, then, he demands that HC declare this logic-trap suggestion of electoral fraud "as a crisis", proving once & for all that HC possesses all the moxie of a bucket of tepid spit.

Trump is arguing 'past the sale', but HC & the political establishment don't understand Trump's tactics, so they are playing right into his hands. HC denies all of Trump's accusations & validates them by the act of denial. "I am NOT sick", "I am NOT a crook", "I have NOT fixed the election" and "I am NOT a tyrannical C-word", she cries like a powerless school yard waif, whereas Trump just 'Agrees & Amplifies" and grows stronger (not despite but) because of the allegations thrown at him.

If you call Trump a narcissist, a bully, a sexist, a racist or a cheater, then what does he do? He smiles as if to declare that he's just so damn GOOD (successful) at being all of those things.

And, if you call him "Hitler" (perhaps the worst accusation in the modern lexicon), he responds with a suggestive smirk, implying that the accuser should be very very afraid (submissive even) if they believe the truth of such allegations.

These Trump tactics work because human beings are hard-wired to love a winner, whereas HC & her supporters are backwards-thinking progressives who put the cart before the horse ...

They think they'll win if they can make people love them first !! Not so !!

The aphorism goes 'Everyone LOVES a winner", not 'Every loved one wins'.


Best

David Brin said...

Dems honoring Bernie:
http://observer.com/2016/09/dems-who-backed-hillary-clinton-in-primary-now-say-bernie-sanders-changed-america/

As they should. But Bernites who do not find some down party race and fight down there in the trenches - for Congress or state assemly etc -- as our family is fighting against a local Limbaugh-clone monster... are being hypocritical.

David Brin said...

Beyond the first paragraph, in which locum was a dismal lying twerp, deliberately misinterpreting my extremely clear words... beyond that, he makes an interesting case. That DT got where he is by masterfully controlling the subliminals. This is what the Dilbert cartoonist and would-be philosopher Scott Adams was saying, maybe 8 months ago and I will admit some truth to it.

Which is why I do not call DT a horrid disease. He is a SYMPTOM of a much bigger ailment that our local confederate eagerly and delightedly displayed, above. A cackling rage against logic, reason, courtesy, facts and every other trait emblematic of the hated smartypants clades.

Even knowing that it will lead to horrid governance, general decay and impoverishment and possibly extinction, they want to be Samson, pulling the temple down around them, so long as it spites the smartaleck castes!

And if we - the union and the enlightenment - save the world and civilization and nation for our confederate-loony neighbors? A better world ahead, as this one is vastly better than if the confeds ever won?

Fortunately, we don't need gratitude. Cause we will never ever ever get any.

Jumper said...

True enough. Deny a crime often enough and someone will accuse you of protesting too much.

TCB said...

Been having a thought about Trump and Putin. Goes like this:

Known fact: hacks and leaks of emails/other data keep appearing which hurt Hillary Clinton and the DNC in some way.

Known fact: US intelligence finger Russian state intelligence for at least some of the hacks and leaks.

Known fact: Russian state entities wouldn't do this without Vladimir Putin's approval.

Known fact: Donald Trump speaks well of Vladimir Putin. Putin seems to reciprocate.

Known fact: at least some of Trump's associates have almost certainly had improper dealings involving Russia.

From this, conjecture: Vladimir Putin WANTS a President Trump. Confidence (for me) 90%.

WHY? Possibility 1: Putin and Trump are birds of a feather, have an actual affinity. Putin would like to see another authoritarian de facto dictator here.

Possibility 2: Putin saw how much a bad President Bush weakened the US and expects a President Trump to do likewise.

Possibility 3: Putin has blackmail material on Trump.

I don't know what that might be; it's hard to blackmail a man who can already get away with almost anything. But suppose it's true. Vladimir Putin could hardly ask for more.

Recommendation: if President Obama is half as smart as he thinks he is, he should have CIA/NSA/FBI assets digging hard for whether there is anything in Trump's dealings which could make Trump vulnerable to manipulation by the Russian dictator, and if found, the public needs to know, no later than mid-October.

Paul SB said...

Donald Dunk ois a salesman, and as a salesman his entire life has revolved around BSing people into buying what he has for sale. If he hadn't been born with a $300 million trust fund, he would be just another sleazy used car salesman instead of a candidate for public office.

I like the Sandra Day O'Connor idea, though I'm not sure O'Connor will like being dragged out of retirement to wade onto a mined beach. While many people will see her as a figure of honesty and integrity, the fact that she often defended the people against predatory corporations gets her labelled a "waffle" by the right. But worse still, that would be having 6 out of 9 investigators chosen by women, and while racism makes the news, sexism is much older and runs much deeper and more cryptically in society. Women will not support Clinton as a block because in conservative quarters women are just as bigoted as the men they are married to. Even among the young, who are breaking down old barriers with respect to race and sexual orientation, assumptions about women still seem pretty prevalent.

If Clinton spends too much of her campaign calling out Trump's bigotry, she only feeds the stereotype of the whining bleeding heart. If there is going to be a fraud investigation, it would be best led by a man, I'm sorry to say. Too many people here just aren't there yet.

Duncan Cairncross said...

I like the idea of an investigation into "Election Rigging"

Which is only possible because the Donald is bleating about it

But why are you looking at Lawyers and Politicians to lead it?

Surely this is a job for a science/maths guy?

The way I see this is
Donald has been bleating,
Hillary adds her "fuck me he may be right about something"
Obama says - with both of the candidates asking for this we need to check right NOW

Obama then puts it to one of the big universities - please do this now!
Or - is there anything the equivalent of The Royal Society in the USA?

Tacitus2 said...

It appears the Political Light is lit. Lemme just tip down the visor of my welding helmet. Ah, thats better.

Shame on the Democratic Party for foisting this crappy candidate on us. Oh, I can't vote for Trump but lets review recent events.

Calling Trump's supporters "deplorable" is one thing. But to go on and use the term "irredeemable". That's too far. She is perhaps unintentionally using religious phrasing and using it offensively. Christians believe that Redemption is always possible. HRC who has spent at least 15 years trying to become President writes off a significant percentage of the people who would actually be her employers. What a pronouncement of a Partisan administration!

A few posts back I offered some thoughts on HRC's health. I won't repeat them in detail but she falls down a lot. She has had three different blot clot occurrences. And is on life long anticoagulation. You've seen the video. Those Secret Service agents who grabbed her just in time probably saved her a face plant and a head bleed. Whatever medals we pin on guys and gals who stop a bullet for the President lets hand out a few - second class version - to HRC's security detail.

And ya know who else has seen the video? Well the whole world. I bet down in the lower recesses of the Kremlin a few old apparatchiks are strolling down Memory Lane with tales of propping up assorted late USSR Premiers for May Day parades...airbrushing the photos to remove IV poles and ghastly hue. Back then there must have been quiet but effective back channel communication with the West. "Da, da, the old krockodil is barely moving these days. But remember, we who really run things are in the best of health, thank you. It would be most unfortunate if you assumed that Russian leadership was a frail as its figurehead!".

Is there now some quiet back channel going the other way? When the leader of the free world has to be dragged into her limo - and this does not to me seem like a one off event - is a nervous world being told reassuringly that ___________ will really be in charge? And who would that be?

Polls? Meh. Another interesting facet of a train wreck electoral cycle. I have no idea if there is a serious Bradley Effect and people in the face of not inconsiderable pressures are keeping quiet about Trump support. Or is there an anti-Bradley effect? Either as speculated that voters are trying to make Hillary sweat a bit before breaking her way...or more likely pollsters trying to create a fake horse race to keep viewers engaged.

Damn, I wish Hillary had, to use a boxing term, stayed on the canvas. Drop out for health reasons. Kaine seems a perfectly reasonable President. Slot in Amy Klobuchar for VP or if you must, Elizabeth Warren. Conservatives don't like the latter much but Veep has "be disliked" as part of the job description.

The country would be better off.

Tacitus
bracing for impact.

Flypusher said...

I'm a center left Indy living in TX22, so I have taking your voting advice many times. Back in 2012 a friend from Beigium suggested that I should vote for Santorum as an act of sabotage. I said no, I couldn't do that. Even if I'm sure that nut job can't possibly win, I'm not taking that chance. I always vote for the best candidate (or the least awful one). And here we are in 2016, where the worst possible candidate did win. I wonder how many of those sabotage voters who voted Trump are feeling some fear now.

Another thing to avoid in the gerrymandered districts- voting straight party tickets. In my neck of the woods, many of the local races have no Dem at all. If there's a challenger to the R, it's an L. Not voting straight ticket D gives me the option to pick a reasonably sane L over a tea party RWNJ R.

You disgruntled Bernie voters, please wake up! The very BEST case scenario in event of the GOP winning the White House is that Trump is content to be a figurehead and bask in the adoration of his cult, while Pence handles the domestic and foreign policy stuff. Have you checked out what Pence stands for? You should, and I don't think you'd like it at all.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

These Trump tactics work because human beings are hard-wired to love a winner,


I take your point, but I think this is one of those "There are two kinds of people" thing. I'm sure there were plenty of people who didn't love Hitler, even when he was only a candidate for office, and who feared, rather than loved, him when he won.

"Everyone loves a winner" is a truism about celebrity culture. Everyone loves cheering on a winner, vicariously basking in the winner's glory, identifying with a winner.

When you interpret this as "Everybody wants a winner to rule them," you are talking specifically about authoritarians, many of whom skew Republican, which is why Trump did so well in the Republican primaries. I'll grant you that "A good proportion of the electorate loves a winner" is true, but whether that is enough to win is an open question for the next two months. It is not a given.


whereas HC & her supporters are backwards-thinking progressives who put the cart before the horse ...

They think they'll win if they can make people love them first !! Not so !!

The aphorism goes 'Everyone LOVES a winner"


Or as Toby Zeigler put it in The West Wing, "They'll love us when we win." But are you sure you're not mistaking cart for horse now? Winning gives you the opportunity, by deeds in office, to show people that they love you. Beyond a certain initial honeymoon period, love doesn't derive from the winning alone. If it did, then George W Bush would be one of the more beloved presidents in history.

The electoral dynamic between Trump and Hillary is best described by this exchange between Hamilton and Aaron Burr, (Burr/Trump in bold):



No one knows who you are or what you do

They don’t need to know me.
They don’t like you.


Excuse me? Oh, Wall Street thinks you’re great
You’ll always be adored by the things you create
But upstate—
Wait-—people think you’re crooked
Schuyler's seat was up for grabs so I took it

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Which is why I do not call DT a horrid disease. He is a SYMPTOM of a much bigger ailment that our local confederate eagerly and delightedly displayed,


Trump fits in the analogy as a predator who sees a miserable disease, and instead of working to ameliorate it, decides "Hey, this could be good for me." Like an undertaker actively lobbying against medicine, because he knows that a good plague will be great for his business.

Jumper said...

I prefer a younger more vigorous candidate I want to hire as president. Trump ain't it either. Clinton may be the lesser prone to Dunning-Kruger. I hope so.

Tacitus, a very long list of Republicans have already said what Clinton said, and worse, about Trump. I trust you can come up with that list easily.

Tacitus2 said...

Jumper

Deplorable, yes. Hell, I call Trump deplorable and would agree that some of his supporters are too.

I took exception to irredeemable. I am not finding any easy to access reference to Republicans using that term about Trump or his supporters.

Because I respect your opinions.....I even looked at a Vox article!

The things I do for my fellow Contrarians.

Tacitus

Creigh Gordon said...

Article: "we've had an exec and judicial branch trying to do their jobs, but the laziest, most worthless Congress" and also the last topic, 4th branch of Government. Include the Fed in that 4th branch, which tried every trick in the book and invented some new ones to try getting the economy going, because they realized Congress would do nothing.

raito said...

RE: voter fraud? election rigging? or just another tool to muddy the waters?

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/ ... 1cc8c.html

Partial quote:

Hours after polls closed in the closely contested 2011 state Supreme Court election, Republican consultants and lobbyists traded emails about launching a potential public campaign to allege “widespread” voter fraud, newly released emails show.

Critics say the emails are another sign of political motives behind Republican claims that voter fraud is a serious problem in Wisconsin.

...

Steve Baas, a lobbyist for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and former Republican legislative staffer, floated an idea on the email thread:

“Do we need to start messaging ‘widespread reports of election fraud’ so we are positively set up for the recount regardless of the final number? I obviously think we should.”

Scott Jensen — the former GOP Assembly Speaker turned lobbyist for American Federation for Children, a private school voucher advocacy group — quickly responded:

“Yes. Anything fishy should be highlighted. Stories should be solicited by talk radio hosts.”

In another email, Jensen writes that Prosser “needs to be on talk radio in the morning saying he is confident he won and talk radio needs to scream the Dems are trying to steal the race.”

...

LarryHart said...

@Tacitus2,

re: irredeemable.

I'm not going to argue, but I will opine a bit.

I suspect the word doesn't have the same ooomph to everyone as it does to you. The same way some people throw the word "m---erf---er" around almost innocuously, while others take the insult literally and drive themselves nuts over it. Implication and inference are not always coincident.

What I'm getting at is, I don't think Hillary's campaign meant to up the level of invective. I think she simply wanted to avoid repeating "deplorable".

Which many (if not exactly half) of his supporters are. You don't have to think Trump himself is like Hitler to observe that Trump's rallies resemble Hitler's rallies.

As to your earlier comment about Hillary being a terrible candidate, I find this ironic because that's what I thought in 2008, which made me glad that Obama won the nomination until it sunk in: "We just nominated a black guy to run against the Republican candidate! There's a good chance that's a bridge too far." Not sure where exactly I'm going with this except to say that who is winning and who is losing goes back and forth all across the spectrum at this time in the campaign. I thought Hillary would be a better attack dog, and hope she'll step up in that role soon. Joe Biden seems like he might have been a safer Democratic candidate, but during most of the Obama years, Biden seemed like a punchline waiting to happen, and he was the one who could have conceivably lost to a Republican. Bernie is loved intensely by those who love him, and might give Trump more a run for the blue-collar white vote, but doesn't have Hillary's support in the "everybody else" category. And that "socialist" thing was just waiting to be exploited too.

When you wish for better candidates from both parties, what I think that would require is a system which does not reward ambition with the office. We would need a system where people select good candidates rather than where they merely choose between those who self-select for personal reasons. I don't know what that system would look like, but the way things are currently, what we get is candidates who lust for power rather than good managers.

I'm not as sure as you are that Hillary's health problems are long-term. My wife has a cold or flu this morning and "feels like crap", and she hasn't been on the campaign trail for solid months at a time. I'm not too worried about her having more than a few bad days of needed rest. If Hillary has something like the still-unidentified disease my wife had a year or two back, she'd be unable to do the job. If she just has a flu, she'll get over it. I think we'll see whether Hillary is up to the job when the first debate occurs.

Your personal objection to Hillary seems to speak more to her ability as a candidate than as a president. I'm curious what people who so intensely hate her (not you in particular) really expect she would do as president that lives up to the level of hatred directed her way. In business and industry, hiring managers look for someone who needs no on-the-job training, who can "hit the ground running" as it were. I see no one available for the office more qualified than Hillary in that regard.

Tacitus2 said...

Larry

As usual we have little to disagree about. I don't think that makes us just such marvelous chaps. But it probably does speak to our having years of on and off conversation. We don't often discern hidden maleficient dog whistle meanings in each other. Cheers.

HRC is reasonably centrist in her public views over the course of her career. If she were President and was able to act upon these views she would be OK. Concerns about her health and about the degree to which she is beholden' to others are the crux of her perceieved issues with honesty. She is a poor candidate for office.

Your wife - may she live long, prosper and look upon you with enthusiasm often - is not likely to have a job as demanding as Commander in Chief. She is presumably not 70 years old. I doubt she has to calculate which misogynistic, piss ant, backwater dictatorship is going to interpret her stamina as a red or green light for mischief. (ok, I might be wrong on that last one).

And as I said posts previous, I don't want Edith Wilson running the country.

Has Hillary made more promises to Goldman Sachs, or to any of the other and assorted vigorous interest groups on the public scene? I don't know and neither do you. Almost nothing she says at fundraisers has been made public. And there were those thousands of BleachBitten emails....

I just wish we had choices that did not both intuitively feel like lousy ones.

Tacitus

Anonymous said...

Careful now! All that spittle might further cloud the bubble you live in. But, if ignorance of Bernie votes denied by the establishment ("oh, you've registered too soon, so therefore your vote does not count") rocks your boat, then well-earned your epiteth, blinkered. Or have you gotten out of your bubble and walked, yet? The honourable U.S. Senator Chris Murphy recently tried it, and was "honked at and nearly struck several times."

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

I like the idea of an investigation into "Election Rigging"

Which is only possible because the Donald is bleating about it


Both major parties seem notoriously unwilling to investigate election fraud (as opposed to "voter fraud"), which suggests that they do engage in it. It would be ironic if Republican rigging was brought to light only because of Trump making it an issue.

LarryHart said...

At the risk of inducing "Hamilton fatigue", I have to say that the parallels between Hamilton/Burr and Hillary/Trump are piling up.

This one, from today's www.electoral-vote.com , doesn't even reflect something from "Hamilton" the play, but something I subsequently learned was speculated about the real-life Aaron Burr, and may even have been the cassus-belli of his duel with Hamilton:


The editors of "The Dr. Oz Show," whose episode with Donald Trump aired yesterday, edited out a interesting remark that Trump made. He said he kisses his 34-year-old daughter, Ivanka, as often as he can. Earlier this year, he said that if Ivanka were not his daughter, he would like to date her.

Jumper said...

Rather than get into a theological discussion about redemption, I'll pass but note it is an un-Christian phraseology, yes.

I'm an ordinary schmoe, so I can openly react with fear and loathing to some of the people who haunt the internet expressing political views that contain obscene levels of misanthropy. Clinton doesn't get credit for saying what I think. Funny how that works.

donzelion said...

LarryHart - "Both major parties seem notoriously unwilling to investigate election fraud (as opposed to "voter fraud"), which suggests that they do engage in it."

Having worked a stint for the New York City Board of Elections, I'd say on the contrary: both parties routinely, vigorously, and dramatically investigate election fraud - every year (even off years). In some states at least, there's a fairly large field of law that practices nothing but elections challenges, going through every last ballot to verify and test the votes, the system. They dispute every election (mostly down ballot elections you haven't heard of, often fixated on the primary ballots), in excruciating microscopic detail.

At the county level, in rural communities, much more mischief is possible, as those sorts of mechanisms may not exist. But even then, the parties send in their enforcers as soon as they catch wind of any wrongdoing, and every single trick you can think of is countered (at substantial cost) - in a review that eludes electoral coverage but rehashes the 2000 elections. Every year.

If peer-review mechanisms makes modern science reliable, I assure you the depth of review in this game is even more robust. That said, journalists simply do not cover these fights (if anything is ever written, it'll be page 32 blurbs) - largely because nobody ever heard of the down ballot candidates (and newspapers have to sell to a larger public than the 300-400 people who voted them into office).

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB: I’ve read your Pharma story now. Without trying to start the Pity Fest you don’t want, you have my sympathies. I’ve heard other stories like it, though, including one from my mother involving ibuprofen and kidney damage. She spent the last few years of her life doing dialysis and had a dim view of certain drugs, doctors, hospitals, and companies. On top of that, though, she trusted her life to certain others. It wasn’t a choice she liked, of course, but it was still a kind of trust.

A patient with a list of choices she doesn’t trust chooses none of them because the implied one labeled ‘none of the above’ is always on the list in voluntary transactions. Ask yourself if you’ve chosen against all of Pharma’s options, because if you haven’t, you trust them at some level while also voicing your annoyance at not having better options elsewhere.

My Pharma stories aren’t as good as yours, but still scary enough to me. Discovering allergies that cause swellings when using antibiotics isn’t news easily handled when your body temp is high and IQ is low. Hearing a doctor apologize for wanting to prescribe something (prednisone in my case) makes one wonder why. Being told the drug will kill your liver but at a rate that is slower than the thing have will kill you makes one wonder if all the drugs they consider are poisonous. After a bit more research, one discovers that is basically true. After even more research, one discovers that is exactly what a human immune system does to live invaders. Some of your cells sidle up alongside the invader and then explode themselves dumping their poisons. The neat picture I learned of big cells gobbling invaders is just one type and it usually bats cleanup.

I’m willing to admit there are problems with how the Pharma industry operates, but I’m also willing to admit that a big part of it is our own ignorance of what they can and cannot do. I’m inclined to trust them, but not blindly. After I got my own scary diagnosis 3 years ago that (in hindsight) predicted my death by 12/2013 (median survival time of 5 months) if not for pharma innovations, I’m willing to forgive their ignorance if not their cheating and trust them and us to find the cheaters. Since I have a sister waiting for an innovation to address her auto-immune issue, I don’t have a lot of choice except to hope and watch. (She and I are among the 'poor' who cannot buy what we want. We need the Innovation Play to work its way through act three.)

David Brin said...

Tacitus I am deeply disturbed that our system is so primitive that the party’s candidate appoints his or her running mate replacement. This has been near-calamitous in the past, with all but one GOP presidential candidate choosing partners who were spectacularly unqualified. The exception was Reagan, who appointed a VERY well-qualified running mate - on paper — who turned into the worst president of the 20th century.

Dem nominees tend to choose solid people, if a bit boring. Given Kaine’s record and what I can see, he is very likely in the terrific 0.001% of likely folks who’d be “solid.” and I will sleep generally well. STill it is a shameful system.

What we might see is Kaine becoming president before 2020. A scenario, all right. I am not sweating that one. Hillary’s bench is very deep and very solid. Heck, even in her bedroom. And whatever ails her is not affecting her mind.

Other: ”Everyone loves a winner”? Bah. We also love underdogs.

Alfred Differ said...

@Donzelion: "I was describing a stage act formula, not a piece of historical determinism."
Well, you did say it's the only formula for mass enrichment, implying a fair bit of determinism there. ;-)


Fair enough. I did mangle that. I was looking to connect the script to a way David approaches the role criticism works in managing errors. I’ll have to restate that in looser terms now if I want it to work. 8)

I imagine the three act play as a bit of a fantasy. Many of us who think of ourselves as innovators imagine we can get rich doing it. Almost no one does, of course. Succeeding that way is probably tougher than making it into major league baseball, let alone being exceptional at that level of play. The fantasy still motivates a lot of us, though, and comes true often enough to work. In practice, if I’m a wanna-be innovator, I have to survive the test of trade in two important ways. The first is to draw voluntary customers. The second is to break in against those who have an interest opposing mine. Innovations that cause creative destruction are certain to annoy someone, after all. The minimum protection I need is a ‘fair’ market, but what qualifies as ‘fair’ can be difficult to define. If a competitor figures out what I’m doing and alters what they do, is that unfair? I think not. If that competitor must change a market rule to block me, is that unfair? Possibly. It depends on who enforces the rule. Is it protective regulation? Is it safety regulation? Did the voters understand the difference? I’ll probably need a jury to decide on a case-by-case basis as I doubt there is a universal rule.

If I need defenders to deal with what I think is an unfair market, then I’m going to need more than the minimum protection no matter how much that annoys my libertarian friends. Some of you might argue that I’ll need government at that point with taxation, regulations, and all the usual things that comes with that choice. Maybe. I argue that what I really need is a large fraction of all of you. You all are the ones who would sit no a jury, right? Without you, my government would have to be really good at foreseeing the future and really good at being incorruptible. Since government is staffed by people like all of you, I just don’t see how that would work better. The possible jury has to be predisposed toward me first, not later after I’ve made my case against well-financed competitors.

How do I get all of you to consider my attempt to become filthy rich with my innovation to be worth defending earlier than later? If I can, the court cases I need to break in might never happen, right? I have to make my fantasy appear to be in your best interest. That’s where I agree to a Deal with all of you. Let me pursue my innovation and make myself rich if I can in act one and I promise to let the play work its way out to act three where everyone else is enriched. This is the Bourgeois Deal many of us make with each other without actually speaking it out loud.
Yes… it is still a fantasy. Most kids who want to get into professional sports pursue a similar fantasy and we have an unspoken deal with them too, don’t we? That’s enough to keep our professional leagues overflowing with talent and keep us entertained. I think we can manage something similar for a lower probability fantasy that enriches the world instead of entertains us. 8)

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

The logical flaw with your argument
"Many of us who think of ourselves as innovators imagine we can get rich doing it."

Many??? - less than 5% I suspect

95+% of innovators innovate because they want to and in a lot of instances because it is part of their job or function

NOT because of some "make it rich" idea
Engineers, Scientists, Hobbyists, - all busy innovating their balls off

I wonder if the idea of "making it rich" with all of it's inherent push to keeping things secret actually REDUCES the amount of innovation?

Some people keep their ideas secret because they hope to make it big - most of those ideas just die
Maybe if they weren't keeping things secret those ideas would take life?

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB: But when the scale gets big enough, the rules change. It’s like what happens to gravity at relativistic speeds. Newton’s Theory is perfect for the ordinary conditions we are used to encountering, but once you start accelerating near light speed you kiss Newton goodbye and say hello to Einstein.

Heh. Well… the rules don’t really change at high speed. It’s just that we noticed that Newton’s rules didn’t work well at high speeds. Both rule sets work at low speed with such tiny prediction difference it wouldn’t seem to matter. Except it does. Mercury’s orbit precesses too much for Newton’s rules and Mercury isn’t going all that fast. Some people argue we have to use general relativity to get the orbit right, but a different correction to Newton would fix it just as well.

I’m not trying to teach you physics, though. I’m pointing out that different rules can predict essentially the same things and one need not be gullible to prefer one over another. If the predictions are nearly identical, the choice doesn’t matter. If one is slightly better in a particular case, though, then it does matter. I’m arguing that a dose of social honor given to the merchants (especially the innovators) and a default assumption of liberty in the markets IS better because it is the change our ancestors in NW Europe made that uncorked the enrichment we’ve experienced since then. A general distrust of large businesses isn’t as smart as a heightened sense of concern to look for cheaters among them because the general rule dishonors innovators in big businesses. The brush is too broad. One can safely use the broad brush if one doesn’t want more of the growth that comes from creative destruction, but I think it is better to focus on people instead of large companies and whole industries. Mercury’s orbital precession is small, but so is the enrichment caused by any single innovation. These things add up.

As for the scaling of forager social mechanisms, keep an eye on the costs associated with using what comes naturally to us in a world with ubiquitous cameras and microphones. I understand your point about those mechanisms not scaling to agricultural and industrial societies, but some of that has to do with the costs associated with scaling. Cheap technology changes that part of the constraint. David’s transparency book was written almost 20 years ago. In some ways, the world he described is already here. I don’t know how much you see it as a teacher, but I’m a software engineer and the way we do business has changed in profound ways. The younger people on my team ASSUME they can find videos explaining how to do technically complex things. That speaks to the number of cameras and microphones, but says even more about what people are choosing to do with them and the costs involved.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan: If you want to be a stickler about percentages, I’ll expand on that line. 8)

From my own experience, the percentage is higher than 5%, but I’m willing to flex. What I’ve seen far more are guys who try to innovate as a way to signal to possible mates. By ‘rich’ I’m actually including a wide set of rewards. Life isn’t just about money.

In Smithian terms, what we want is to be loved by being lovable. That translates roughly as being highly regarded in each of the virtues that seem to matter to people. These are social measures. Prudence is one of those virtues and the associated measure can be quantified as money, but there are at least six others that count as much. Courage, Faith, Hope, Love, Justice, Temperance, and Prudence make the set if you are Christian or grew up in a mostly Christian culture. They all count in the rewards received by an innovator, though most are hard to quantify.

I’m willing to honor innovators who survive trade tests along any of those value axes, but in a market for goods and services, the reward I give that doesn’t require personal attention allocation involves cash. I think we should respect that because doing so makes our unthinking, daily purchase work a bit like David’s Proxy Activism argument. We are the Invisible Hand.

Duncan Cairncross said...

hi Alfred

You say "I’m willing to honor innovators who survive trade tests along any of those value axes,"

And then you swing to - money counts - only money counts!

What we have here is a worship of money that is actually SLOWING innovation,

Even when I have made something - because I wanted to - I find myself defending my actions with "I saved $xxx"

Although now with the

"The younger people on my team ASSUME they can find videos explaining how to do technically complex things. That speaks to the number of cameras and microphones, but says even more about what people are choosing to do with them and the costs involved.

We are starting to see a counter innovation culture - which innovates just for the joy of it

The video thing is amazing!
I'm re-using a Chevy Volt battery pack in The Device - the Chevy pack was a big scary T shaped unit that I knew had lethal voltages inside it
But there were videos of people taking them to pieces on the internet!!
Made it much less scary


Alfred Differ said...

But the executives that make the big decisions, like how much to charge for a new HIV treatment or an Epi-pen, are people we will never see, never meet, and never have any influence over whatsoever. Without an apparatus that can address Cheating at that level – and actively does so, as opposed to the slap-on-the-wrist tokenism we have seen with the too big to fail – not only becomes possible, it is selected for.

Granted. The way I’d say it goes as follows. The less a person experiences social forces, the more insane they can become. We aren’t just individuals who choose to cooperate. We are also social elements in groups, so harming our groups is a way of harming ourselves. Insanity.

If you make a product for consumption, most governments require some sort of test for safety. But those tests take time, cost money, and delay getting a product to market…

…and much, much more which few people understand. A real test for safety involves risk to real people. The Salk vaccine was tested on kids in the Pittsburgh school system if I remember correctly. Sabin’s vaccine gave people polio when it wasn’t manufactured exactly right. The problem with asking for safety tests (which we should do of course) is one can’t actually prove something is safe. One can only detect unsafe stuff after someone or something is harmed. Getting good negative results can take a long time too and that is a barrier to entry.

There are always advantages to cheaters… by definition. Wanting to eliminate them is always a good moral stance to take. The problem, though, is that one of the ways Pharma can cheat involves us asking for the government to impose safety tests. Innovations can be blocked before Act One even starts or the test of trade can be distorted to eliminate potentially useful variety among goods and services.

Your reference to Mary Helms where you show a preference for valuing innovators shows you have the basic idea, though, so we are only in disagreement about the people who look down their long noses at us. I’ll side with you in not honoring them when they do that, but I might still want to leave them free to act short of them doing actual criminal behavior we can prove to a jury. Social honor is a powerful thing. Rather than regulate, I’d rather pressure those who honor the snooty jerks and convince them to stop. Cut off the social reward before cutting them with uses of coercive power.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan: And then you swing to - money counts - only money counts!

No I don’t. I’m saying it is easier. Much like proxy activism is easier than getting out there and donating time to all the causes one thinks are worthy of being done.

Even when I have made something - because I wanted to - I find myself defending my actions with "I saved $xxx"

Then don’t. Just don’t. Say you made the world a better place because you’ve enabled competitors to wrestle with each other a little longer and reduce their prices to the poorest who can’t afford the thing. That’s what your savings do anyway, see? You can also just stop short and say you made the world a better place. You have, haven’t you? (I don’t doubt it.)

We are starting to see a counter innovation culture - which innovates just for the joy of it

That’s still innovation.

They get a different reward. I’m very familiar with it. I saw it when I did Science and when I did open source software. Not everything is about cash. What we actually want (in Smithian terms) is to be lovable. We want to be loved and will adapt ourselves to make it happen. Cash is one way and we should not sneer at it, but there are six other value axes too.

Jumper said...

A commenter on the internet asked "How many tons of medicine did the Clinton Foundation purchase and ship- where-when?'
"How many tons of food has the Clinton Foundation bought and shipped to starving people-where-when ?"
"How man tons of building supplies has the Clinton Foundation bought and shipped for shelters and schools?"

I am a Clinton supporter so far, but I too think the questions should have documented answers, and I can't find them.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

You say that you are familiar with the non financial reward part -
My problem is that the current financial reward model is stifling the other actually more productive non financial model

The current market based system rewards "big swinging dicks" not innovators and actually REDUCES innovation

The massive innovation we have seen has been despite the market system not because of it

Arresi said...

I live in one of those hopelessly one-party districts mentioned and I am a member of that party. Unfortunately, the local races are consistently non-competitive. Some are fine - others, predictably, are an insult to the idea of government. Any advice? I'm already signing petitions in favor of a non-partisan redistricting committee in our state and scouring the ballots for tolerable opposition candidates in me and my friends' districts.

donzelion said...

@Dr. Brin - I still don't understand the "George HW Bush was the worst president of the 20th century" line, a discussion we'd left off several months ago. I despise his son's presidency, certainly, but cannot comprehend the rage.

Did Bush Sr. abandon the shi'a in Iraq when he could have "intervened and saved them"? Perhaps. But it's equally probable that he guessed there were limits to the benefit to the U.S. from pursuing matters further. After all, the same soldiers who argued that further efforts (just one more hill!) would protect the Shia ALSO advised that similar efforts would stop warlords in Somalia...much good that did. Would Iraq be a shiny happy country now had he pressed the advantage? Maybe. Maybe things would be worse. Hindsight...

Yet how is that decision worse than
(1) Harding - the very definition of a presidency with an inner circle as corrupt as it gets
(2) Nixon - the only president to be forced to resign, ultimately for covering up corruption
(3) Hoover - not exactly a positive influence during the early onset of the Great Depression, when many of its worst harms might have been ameliorated
(4) Truman - the arguments you make against Bush Sr. could also be made against Truman for failing to finish the job in Korea - a failure that culminated in an ugly regime AND had clear geopolitical threats - but even more so in China, where Truman COULD have intervened and backed the nationalists v. Mao, breaking the Bamboo Curtain (alas, war weariness)
(5) Johsnon - escalating Vietnam. Nuff said.
(6) Carter abandoned the Cambodians, the Afghans, and the Indonesians - and in each instance, more than a million people died. Compare that to Bush, who only abandoned the Shia & Kurds (and about 100,000 died in the aftermath). Each was preventable.
(7) Reagan - whose inept interventions into Latin America escalated several conflicts that claimed well over a million lives
(8) Kennedy - who flubbed the Bay of Pigs and permitted Castro...

I could go on. Many great presidents made many decisions that we can see as "catastrophically stupid" blunders - in hindsight. Why the specific rancor against Bush Sr. - what makes him worse than that set?

David Brin said...

Arresi, while I think one of the two major parties is vastly, vastly worse than the other, I freely admit that the Democrats feature a full range, from scrupulously proper, through "normal" corruption which is satiable and limited, all the way to some nasty pieces of work. But gerrymandering was off-axis, a crime committed against the citizenry by the entire political caste, P & GOP.

That changed when citizen initiatives trashed the vile practice in a number of blue states. Republicans poured money into these efforts, supposing they would benefit if Dems couldn't cheat but gops still could! DP pols accused the activists of being played as saps. But the "saps" proved to be visionaries. WA, OR, CA and many others re-districted and...huh! ... the DP did not suffer a bit. Individual Dem pols had to work harder in more competitive districts...


...and if/when the GOP ever returns to sanity, they might be very competitive in un-gerried states! But for now, all elimination of gerrymandering has done is reduced RADICALISM. Pols from both parties shift their fear from the primaries to the general election, where moderation now pays, especially in California, where a 2/3 democratic majority has led to NONE of the dire predictions of communism. Just frenetic hard work, tweaking laws to fit 21st Century conditions while listening earnestly to the state's republicans, as never before!

DP officials have started to realize they were wrong. That ending gerrymandering in Blue states first may be the best tactic, after all. Get rid of it in horror cases like Illinois and Maryland... and then the crime will be exclusively identified with the Republican Party. And they'll suffer for that.

That does not solve your problem. In CA, a district like yours would have two democrats in the general, battling over which can be more reasonable! But you will likely need to make that happen in the primary.

I hope that helps.

David Brin said...

The Clinton Foundation is small potatoes. It is one of its sub-projects - the Clinton Global Initiative - that has done the huge accomplishments, by negotiating treaties among stakeholders from governments to NGOs to corporations, arm-twisting cooperative commitments that led the the purchase of billions of dollars worth of AIDS and other medicines. Yes, much of that spending would have happened anyway. But Bill Clinton's gladhanding and armtwisting and cajoling and negotiation prowess made the whole thing cohesive, efficient and focused. The Clinton FOUNDATION mostly contributed by helping organize the meetings and applying some seed money.

https://www.clintonfoundation.org/clinton-global-initiative/about-us/cgi-mission

However you look at it, you are left with the simple fact that Democratic ex-presidents and ex-VPs move on frenetic good works while GOP exes do the diametric opposite. Noting could better outline the difference in fundamental personality.

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

I feel like our discussions have some of the character of how the two sides in US politics used to be before the Reagan Era. They actually agreed on most things in principle, but differed in degree. I have no desire to see clever, creative people who work hard at good ideas be shut down (and I think your disagreements with Duncan are much the same). I’m no commissar who wants all business taken over by the State. However, I would be much more cautious, especially regarding very large businesses. It’s not about jealousy, it’s the much greater harm a large business abusing the kind of technology we have had since the Chemical Age can do. My hydrocortisone story was to illustrate just how different things are today than in the past, in part because of scale, but also in part because we are putting things on the market without really knowing what the consequences are, and large-scale businesses have built-in motivation to hide what they know if a product looks good but the consequences might be serious.

You said that social honor is a powerful manipulator, and that is true. The problem is that there are no universals that earn honor. For corporate executives, honor is usually couched in terms of financial success, and we are talking about people who easily reach the heights of hubris because they command the heights of the economy. Listen to the news and hear a litany of scandal after scandal, hear the executives backpedal when they get caught, like Wells Fargo right now, and ask yourself how many have not been caught? Will these people stop dishonest practices before getting caught, behaving like adults, or will they just keep doing slimy deals and take them to their graves if no one ever catches them?

They don’t take them to their graves, Alfred, they boast about their dishonest deeds among their own kind. They have become their own social class, our aristocracy of money, and they behave like any aristocrats do, hiding their evil deeds from public scrutiny, pointing the finger and acting shocked when one of their competitors gets caught, and rationalizing like mad when they get caught personally.

Paul SB said...

Think about the illegal antiquities trade. I have seen enough archaeological sites trashed to feed that market here, and I can only imagine what happens in parts of the world where civilization has been around for millennia. Looted artifacts from places like Syria are illegal to own almost everywhere, so why would anyone buy them? It is only the richest among us who do, and they don’t lock them away in vaults. They display them in their homes where their wealthy peers can see them. They are following exactly that pattern Veblen described in the 19th Century. To them, owning and displaying illegal things displays their greater wealth. For them, that is social honor.

Contrast that with what the average citizen was doing during the War. Young ladies were giving up all their hairpins to the scrap metal recyclers to be melted down for the war effort. People were sacrificing their material comforts for a common cause, to defeat the aggressors of the world. That, too, was social honor. Which version of social honor do you prefer? Too many memes in our culture honor the cheats and criminals. When ordinary citizens make up juries, and they can’t make up their mind if honor lies in helping your fellow human being or screwing your fellow human being out of a buck, the potential for injustice grows by leaps and bounds.

Remember Larry’s Laws of Corporatics? Those laws sound just to many people. They are the kind of thing that would curtail cheating without stifling innovation. But they aren’t very enforceable. If the board rooms of companies had an equivalent to the police car’s dash cam – one the execs can’t switch off at whim – you might start to see the honor equation changing. But as long as they can do their deals in the dark, far too many will do dark deeds. The Invisible Hand can’t swat what it can’t see, and often We the Invisible Hand can’t even see when there’s a body count. This frog is boiling in dishonest business, while the dishonest businesses shout “honor us, we are the winners!”

Paul SB said...

Now if you want to argue that my personal experience might make me too emotional to be a rational judge, I would not argue back too strenuously. I get that our Systems 1 whisper sweet lies to our Systems 2, which more often than not use their talents to rationalize their emotions rather than seek clarity. Am I rationalizing? Maybe. But when I think about it, I never blamed the doctors for testing a medicine on me, nor my mother for signing the waiver. I never blamed the military that facilitated my exposure. None of them really knew the effects of what they were giving me. My ire is at the businesses who, after discovering that a medicine had dangerous side effects, bribed someone somewhere to permit it for over-the-counter sales. Someone in the FDA got a nice, new luxury car or some such, someone else in Big Pharma got a huge bonus and probably a claw up the corporate ladder. And no one will ever know what their cash cow has done or to how many people. If I were simply rationalizing, I would direct my anger at doctors, or scientists generally, or maybe the military (or all of the above). If my System 1 were running the show, it wouldn’t be too concerned about what happens to anyone else, it would be looking for a way to sue the bastards so I can get my own luxury car, McMansion or whatever (maybe even some looted artifacts from Babylonia, the more ancient, the more the prestige).

“I’ll side with you in not honoring them when they do that, but I might still want to leave them free to act short of them doing actual criminal behavior we can prove to a jury.”

Keep smiling and honoring honest merchants. Please save the scorn for the merchants of death, not for those who call them out. We need vigilance against dishonesty. We don’t need pogroms of businesspeople generally. But the big ones are very, very hard to catch. They have the resources to cover their misdeeds. And when we do catch them, it is too often after the damage is done, the economy has collapsed, people are living in tents, tumors are growing in countless stressed underlings because stress hormones crash the immune system (cancer is still the #2 cause of death in the US and most capitalist countries, and work stress has at least as much to do with that as bad eating habits). And even when they are caught, too many get away because their foul deeds can’t be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, or because too many of the people are sympathetic to anyone who appears to be a “winner” and even honor their dastardly deeds (I could name names, here – you know it and so do they). Those six values you keep talking about aren’t the only ones at work. And those big business cheats, who evade the Invisible Hand, are a natural consequence of the free market.

David Brin said...

Looks like Romney and his pals chickened out of backing Gary Johnson, after all. It could have changed the American political landscape, giving quasi-sane republicans a refuge to rebuild some adult version of American conservatism (at the cost of proving that the LP is only a rightist version of libertarianism.

But they decided to focus on retaining GOP control in Congress, continuing the catastrophe there of the stupidest and laziest Congresses in US history.

I truly expected no less/ Cowards.

donzelion said...

Alfred - I'm afraid I'm just too familiar with the innovation story from the inside to take it on face value. Ever.

My father patented a piece of tech Intel ultimately bought for a half billion dollars in the mid-'90s. It became one of several pieces in a product they initial sold through Cisco as a "load balancer," but as I understand it, got integrated into the Core Duo system. He pitched that product for a couple years, eventually found a VC to back him (on condition that they appoint the CEO and COO, with him merely CTO), and then got frozen out (the CEO laid everyone off 90 days - which meant nobody's options vested) (if he'd had about $1-2 million in assets at the time, he could have afforded lawyers and doubtless recovered much of that money - I went to law school a few years later...). Sorkin's "The Social Network" riffs on a Silicon Valley cliche, but my Dad's was one of the earlier cases of this sort of gambit.

Having started with that sort of exposure to how the rentier system interacts with the innovation system, I'm also skeptical about what it means to draw "voluntary customers," what it means to "break in against competitors," and how "creative destruction" operates. We take on faith that "creation" is occurring - because "destruction" is evident.

In my version of your 3-act story, I offer what I think is a more realistic account, but I am not discussing "cheating." Beating my Dad, "stealing" his innovation (and his life's work and his retirement fund) - all that was done 'fair and square.' (Sort of like how many Native Americans traded away their lands through 'fair market' practices - it's 'legal' - but that doesn't make it 'right.')

My concern is really a different sort of abuse: the folks who screwed my Dad over beat him in the game my Dad willingly tried to play. What about the people who never knew about the game in the first place, who never wanted to play, but were compelled to do so in order to hold on to what they have?

It's THAT sort of person who is most hurt by parasitic rentier practices: the boss who calls an employee after hours to try to get them to work on a deadline project (of course the employee can say no, but...). The landlord who raises the rent because "the market required it (of course the tenant can say no, but...). The doctor who raises the bill because a nurse touched the file and she charges separately (of course the patient can say no, but...).

"...without you, my government would have to be really good at foreseeing the future and really good at being incorruptible."

When confronted with obvious and regular corruption (in the form of imbalances of power), I don't need a government of angels. All I need is for the master to whom the government answers to be distinct from the master to whom oppressors answer.

"The possible jury has to be predisposed toward me first, not later after I’ve made my case against well-financed competitors."
Ideally, the jury is not predisposed towards anyone. Of course, ideally, our government is run by angels, and all players play fair (including both legally - refraining from cheating - and ethically). Yet laws and commerce operate in the face of non-ideal realities.

But all that said, the story about my Dad is intended to show the origins of my prejudices (if you'd put me on a jury, then in all fairness, I should answer fully). Of course I back innovation and science. I just see a bigger threat to both arising from the private, rather than the public sphere - as it always has, so it (likely) always will.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi donzelion

Re Bush 1
The reason I would say he was worse than Bush 2 is not his Iraqi adventure but his treatment of Russia

After the fall of the USSR we had the opportunity to "do a Marshal" and convert Russia into an ally for ever
What did Bush do?
He sent his jackals over there and they converted Russia into an enemy
Not deliberate - just incompetence - like his son

donzelion said...

Alfred - as for Duncan's point -
"95+% of innovators innovate because they want to and in a lot of instances because it is part of their job or function...NOT because of some "make it rich" idea"

Absolutely concur. How could it be otherwise? Curiosity is not closely associated with selfishness - and it is the first glimmerings of curiosity that make it possible to innovate require both an intimate familiarity with what exists now, and with what might exist.

"What we actually want (in Smithian terms) is to be lovable. We want to be loved and will adapt ourselves to make it happen."

Smithian terms would, I believe, be slightly different: "to deserve love and to deserve reward, are the great characters of virtue." In Moral Sentiments, Smith harshly critiques 'incentive' driven models for ethical conduct - we shouldn't do anything because we want love or reward as an outcome (including innovation) - rather, we step into someone else's shoes, imagine how they would respond to any specific thing, and THEN attempt to find solutions. (After J.S. Mill, utilitarians appropriated much of Smith, with economists following suit - jettisoning the reciprocity at work in the method since it didn't fit neatly on any charts and smelled like psychology.)

donzelion said...

Duncan - Dr. Brin also made the same point about Bush I's 'missed opportunity' after the fall of the USSR. The thing is, the USSR fell in late 1991; Clinton took office in early 1993. Why the opprobrium for Bush I, when Clinton had several more years to make the intervention? If Bush I 'failed' to turn Russia into an ally, and is therefore reprehensible, then it makes no sense to let Clinton off the hook seeing as how he had many more years to rectify what Bush I failed to do. And didn't.

That said,
(1) we "did a Marshall" largely because we were wary of the USSR, and wanted to protect our frontier (with Japan and W. Germany) at the least expense to ourselves (which required both of them to industrialize),
(2) we've "done a Marshall" in many other countries (the largest recipients of U.S. assistance in the '70s included Sudan, Afghanistan, and Rwanda - since '79, Egypt has been the 2nd largest recipient - most of our 'doing a Marshall" doesn't work out so well)
(3) we never "did a Marshall" with S. Korea (not really), but that worked even better for us than many of the Marshall's 'we've done.'

Makes me think that our Marshallian conduct isn't quite what we mark it up to be (actually, I can go a lot further than that - it never was, but the myth remains).

What did Bush do? He sent his jackals over there and they converted Russia into an enemy
Not deliberate - just incompetence - like his son

The largest such contracts and contacts started in late 1992-1995, especially as Clinton took office, ousting those jackals from cush government jobs they'd previously enjoyed. In a way, you can blame Clinton for their efforts just as much as you can blame Bush Sr. In another way, you can't blame either (and really, one ought to look to the Russians themselves - no Russian ever 'needed' an American pundit to tell him how to enrich himself.)

CP said...

TCB said...

Putin may have a far simpler reason to support Trump:

The Russian economy and the personal fortunes of many of his circle of oligarchs are overly dependent on fossil fuels.

A Clinton administration would pursue policies that accelerate the transition to renewables resulting in stagnant or declining fossil fuel prices.

A Trump administration would pursue policies that retard, perhaps even reverse, the transition to renewables resulting in increasing fossil fuel prices.

Putin looks at Venezuela and sees his own future if Clinton is elected.

Best wishes,

CP

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

PaulSB:

Remember Larry’s Laws of Corporatics? Those laws sound just to many people. They are the kind of thing that would curtail cheating without stifling innovation. But they aren’t very enforceable.


Those laws (basically a restating of Asimov's Laws of Robotics applied to corporations) were always a work in progress, but in my fantasy, the enforcement mechanism would be that it become law of the land that the Three Laws of Corporatics are legally presumed to be part of any corporate charter. Then, the courts, at least, would have some role in prosecuting violations.

What might be more useful is for the laws to become socially presumed as well.

LarryHart said...

Going back to tie together two recent topics.

I said that money as a store of value over time is an illusion without continual new production of goods and services backing it up, as the actual things the money can buy inevitably devalue with the passage of time. The a-ha moment for me was the realization that, when I have a choice of leftovers in the fridge, I tend to save the best for later, preferring if you will to have my "cake" rather than eat it. I also realize the fallacy in this pursuit--that there's a limit beyond which I neither have nor eat the cake because it has grown stale if not outright spoiled.

My point at the time was that policies to hasten the velocity of money are meant to keep that money from "spoiling" in some aristocrat's "fridge" where it ends up doing no one any good, not even the aristocrat.

In a separate topic, we discussed the relative greatness of Star Trek and (the original) Star Wars, and bemoaned the fact that both series have become less than their promise.

It just now occurred to me that these are the same issue. The laws of thermodynamics seem to apply to literary fiction as well as anything else. That explains why every series eventually loses its spark and begins courting the lowest common denominator, ultimately benefiting no one, not even that lowest common denominator. A long but certainly not exhaustible list of such endeavors:

Star Wars
Star Trek
Dune
Foundation
The West Wing
Cheers
Seinfeld
Spider-Man
(yes even) Cerebus

seems to indicate a universal rule, which in retrospect should have been obvious.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Looks like Romney and his pals chickened out of backing Gary Johnson, after all. It could have changed the American political landscape, giving quasi-sane republicans a refuge to rebuild some adult version of American conservatism (at the cost of proving that the LP is only a rightist version of libertarianism.


The ironic thing is that Gary Johnson was an actual Republican, whereas Trump is only as much a Republican as Bernie Sanders is a Democrat. They'd have cover for backing Johnson using "He's the only actual Republican in the race."

Paul SB said...

Larry,

If the Second Law of Thermodynamics applies to literary endeavors, then I suppose you would not recommend Dr. Brin write a third Uplift trilogy. Around here, them's fightin' words! But then, maybe the logic would support my contention that Glory Season needs a sequel - but just one, not nine or ten. :) ... (The dots emanating from the smiley face are intended to evoke drool.)

The dreadful last five volumes of Cereus spawned the phrase "Cereus Syndrome" which is exactly what you are talking about.

Your point about those Law of Corporations becoming not only legally but also socially presumed are my point exactly. As long as huge numbers of people lead the cheer for unbridled greed, enforcement of laws meant to protect those very people from enormously powerful corporate predators will remain slack.

But we don't need to go from one end of the pendulum to the other, here. While rereading Glory Season, I took a moment to think about why that title was chosen. <> Stratton society is mostly a lot of clones, people taking the safe and comfortable route, but the Summer children represent the risky route of innovation. Society needs both, but not in equal proportion.

I'm going to reiterate my suggestion that people watch that National Geographic video about stress, which you can find on youtube. It is well worth an hour of your time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYG0ZuTv5rs

Paul SB said...

Uh-oh! My Spoiler Alert sign somehow didn't translate through the to blog! Sorries!

LarryHart said...

PaulSB:

f the Second Law of Thermodynamics applies to literary endeavors, then I suppose you would not recommend Dr. Brin write a third Uplift trilogy. Around here, them's fightin' words!


The literary Second Law, like the physical one, does not assert that local degradation always occurs, just that it takes an input of energy to overcome it. Dr Brin seems to have done the required work on the Uplift Trilogies. There are doubtless other such examples as well. My point is that the exceptions don't happen by themselves or accidentally.

LarryHart said...

PaulSB:

Stratton society is mostly a lot of clones, people taking the safe and comfortable route, but the Summer children represent the risky route of innovation. Society needs both, but not in equal proportion.


I've made the same point about conservatives and liberals. It's the same reason species need for both dominant and recessive traits to survive evolution.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: Wealthy people do their best to hold assets and shift liabilities to others.

Why hold money, when you can be owed debt (and acquiring a pool of debt costs a certain amount of money)? Money doesn't pay dividends. Done right, it can be quite tax efficient, if the debt isn't repaid you have remedies that others do not (middle class/poor, on the other hand, get terrible tax treatment from holding debt - and lack effective remedies to enforce private debt). Therein lies the edge for the wealthy, and the purpose of financial markets.

Think of it as 'having a cake in the fridge - that grows larger and fresher with time.' Magic cake? Nah, just the magic of compound interest, which impressed even Einstein. Corporate debt, held as convertible securities, with a backing of stocks to control votes over the time of conversion, means best of both worlds. Only need a few million to play (but with a few billion, an entirely new set of games opens up, like insuring debts).

Re your science fiction listing, I note "Dr. Who" is not present. I believe it's the longest running scifi series (by any metric, and by a significant margin). ;-)

Paul SB said...

"The literary Second Law, like the physical one, does not assert that local degradation always occurs, just that it takes an input of energy to overcome it. Dr Brin seems to have done the required work on the Uplift Trilogies."
- You're getting my hopes up. Larry! And hope can be a dangerous thing, even fatal sometimes. ;]

"Re your science fiction listing, I note "Dr. Who" is not present. I believe it's the longest running scifi series (by any metric, and by a significant margin). ;-)"
- Donzelion, would you say that Dr. Who has managed to avoid the Cerebus Syndrome and not turn to dreck in all those years? Personally, I find the show very hit or miss, and that was even true when I was a teenanderthal. In the old, black & white days, the Daleks were cunning, but by the Tom Baker years they had turned into laughable cardboard caricatures, almost sci-fi stand-ins for Colonel Klink and Sergeant Schultz. The new Who seems to be just as hit or miss as the old stuff, with flashes of true brilliance here and there (like their first episode to revive the Daleks) and a whole lot of sub-mediocre pandering to juveniles (all the years of Matt Smith).

Jeff B. said...

Donzelion,
Makes me think that our Marshallian conduct isn't quite what we mark it up to be (actually, I can go a lot further than that - it never was, but the myth remains).

As tumultuous as post-collapse Russia was, it lacked at least two crucial ingredients that post- WWII Japan and Germany had: a top-to-bottom disruption of the social order, and an occupying power, to maintain crucial order while the disruption works through. While there was plenty of disruption, it might or might not have reached the existential levels the sheer shock the peoples of the Axis powers suffered at defeat. But the more-or-less benign occupation allowed life to quickly adjust to a new normal, while allowing the basic structures of new political orders to become established.

Perhaps the Cold War umbrella over South Korea inadvertently, eventually, provided the same sheltered safe space for the Korean economy and social and political norms to grow and eventually flourish.

Jeff B. said...

LarryHart,
That explains why every series eventually loses its spark and begins courting the lowest common denominator, ultimately benefiting no one, not even that lowest common denominator.

A possible exception: Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. The marked decline near the end (perhaps starting with Unseen Academicals?) seems to me to be more a symptom of his unfolding Alzheimer's. By Snuff the personalities and mood had changed so much as to make them almost unreadable. But I don't think the decline was due to the series losing a spark.

Paul SB said...

Jeff,

In Pratchett's case you have a single individual producing a serial, whereas with most of the other examples there were teams of writers involved (even with the long arm of Lucas), so it might be an apples to oranges comparison. I thought he had regained some of his wit in "Raising Steam" though it was not at the top of his game. I would be tempted to call "Thud!" his peak, though I am terrible at choosing favorites. With Pratchett I can't narrow it down to less than 3 (Night Watch and Monstrous Regiment rounding out my list). So yeah, I can see where it would be a case of the declining mental faculties of an elderly individual suffering from a degenerative disease.

In the case of Dave Sims, it's more that he as a person took a dramatic turn for the worse and it changed the direction and meaning of his literary work.

Star Trek, on the other hand, is produced by a very large corporation, which is in it for the money, and trying to draw a young audience. Sadly, most older people seem to think that you attract a young audience by producing juvenile work. Star Trek always had huge appeal to the kind of young people who couldn't stand their more juvenile age-mates. I'm not sure the strategy is going to work, since Star Trek has always been couple with "nerd" which is mainstream pejorative by a badge of honor among fans.

David Brin said...

That Trek lasted and remained fertile for as long as it did is a miracle.


Duncan we agree about Bush Senior blowing the after gam,e of the Cold War… but not over whether much of it was deliberate. Someday a Russian oligarch will blow the whistle on how many silent western partners were involved in the Great Ripoff.

donzelion I will ponder the degree B Clinton let himself be a slave of momentum re Russia. But Marshall’s bigger plan - running trade deficits with rising nations for 70 years - is what saved the world.

CP good point about oil.

Maybe thermo is the reason I veered away from Uplift, after tepid response to my 2nd Uplift Trilogy?
(Which is actually very good!)

David Brin said...

Great discussion!

But onward

onward

donzelion said...

Paul SB/Jeff/Duncan - And yet again, no Whovians in sight! What gives? There's a timeless series, if ever there was one (har har).

Jeff B - The Marshall Plan is highly overrated, for many reasons. Think it over: how did Truman pay down the public debt after WWII while simultaneously (1) paying for a major foreign war - out of existing tax revenues (rather than issuing new public debt), and (2) pay for new U.S. investment into housing, the GI bill, etc.?

In reality, the "Marshall Plan" was more theoretical framework, and less "American generosity." We didn't GIVE Germany and Japan much of anything: rather, we (some of us, anyway) invested, wherever investments looked profitable, and as a result, both countries rebuilt themselves. That's the formula that also worked in S. Korea and in China (and China's growth in the last 20 years dwarfs anything that preceded it).

To suggest the Marshall Plan amounted to anything, one also has to explain why the same medicine failed the Philippines, Panama (occupied for almost 100 years), and Egypt (the second largest beneficiary of foreign aid, after only Israel, since '79). Well, they lack an industrial history, unlike Germany & Japan. But South Korea also lacked an industrial history (as did Japan, until they opted to industrialize). It's always been less about skills, history, culture, or technocratic planning - and more about investment - and the fact that a small set of advantages compound quickly (as does interest).

Israel, by the way, is a great illustration of the foolishness of misplaced praise for the Marshall Plan, or outside technocrats 'helpfully' intervening, largely because Americans are comfortable acknowledging Israel's successes (ever since Friedman's 'Lexus & Olive Tree') without trying to claim credit for them (realistically, we CAN'T claim credit - Israel built themselves into a country that could defeat its neighbors militarily without any public assistance from America - but Americans give Israel the benefit of respect, unlike post-war Germany & Japan). Israel is also an illustration of how a right-wing cabal takes power, shifts land to its own cronies, embraces corruption, and makes use of 'fear of outsiders' to entrench its power (America has Mexican immigrant "rapists and murderers," Israel has Palestinian "terrorists").

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

Why hold money, when you can be owed debt (and acquiring a pool of debt costs a certain amount of money)? Money doesn't pay dividends. Done right, it can be quite tax efficient, if the debt isn't repaid you have remedies that others do not (middle class/poor, on the other hand, get terrible tax treatment from holding debt - and lack effective remedies to enforce private debt). Therein lies the edge for the wealthy, and the purpose of financial markets.


And therein probably lies what terrified Alan Greenspan in 2001 when there was a chance the national debt would go away, replaced by a national surplus. It's why he backed W's tax cuts which insured that there will always be a national debt, and a substantial one. So don't let anyone tell you that Republicans are against the deficit. They're only against it being used for Democratic projects. The idea that the national debt might be paid off was intolerable to them.




Magic cake? Nah, just the magic of compound interest, which impressed even Einstein.


Kurt Vonnegut wrote "Jailbird" as a "science fiction novel about economics", and what you said played a role in that book, as did Einstein (as a character in a story by Kilgore Trout)


Re your science fiction listing, I note "Dr. Who" is not present. I believe it's the longest running scifi series (by any metric, and by a significant margin). ;-)


I wasn't going for "science fiction listing" so much as "series which fell into mediocrity by losing sight of what made them great." Since I was never a big fan of Dr Who, I don't know if it belongs in the list or not.

Funny aside: I was a college student in the 1980s when cable tv became big, and some housemates were huge Dr Who fans. It never impressed me all that much, but I must have seen just enough episodes that I remember who Sarah Jane and Leela and Davros are. My daughter's friend, who is a big fan of the more current episodes thinks I'm some sort of 1980s Dr Who guru, even though what I just mentioned here is about the extent of my knowledge.

LarryHart said...

@PaulSB,

I wasn't aware that the "Cerebus syndrome" was a thing.

I have a different take on that particular series, that it was a failed experiment, and one that was almost (if not entirely) unique. A single writer/artist had the dedication to spend 26 years on a single "novel", intending it to be the story of a life. Dave Sim wanted his 300-issue epic to be different from (say) 300 issues of Superman because they would be the single-minded vision of a single writer.

I think what the experiment proved was that what Dave Sim set out to do is not possible. Because 2004-Dave is different enough from 1977-Dave to constitute a "different writer".

LarryHart said...

PaulSB:

Star Trek, on the other hand, is produced by a very large corporation, which is in it for the money, and trying to draw a young audience. Sadly, most older people seem to think that you attract a young audience by producing juvenile work. Star Trek always had huge appeal to the kind of young people who couldn't stand their more juvenile age-mates.


Star Trek (TOS) in its time was kind of the Bernie Sanders of shows. Its fans absolutely loved it, and couldn't understand that most of the population didn't care. That it ultimately became as popular as it did might be good news for Bernie fans.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Maybe thermo is the reason I veered away from Uplift, after tepid response to my 2nd Uplift Trilogy?
(Which is actually very good!)


It is very good. In many ways, more of a single novel than the first Trilogy was.

But I think one reason you veered away was that you kinda wrapped up most of the threads. Except maybe who the Progenitors are (I have an idea where you mean to go with that, but don't see how it would actually work).

LarryHart said...

Oh, now I see that Dr Brin has already signalled...


onward.


onward.

Interested Observer said...

@ Tacitus

You know, I really couldn't care less if doctors have given Hillary 6 months to live, but I find insult with the useless obfuscation over common pneumonia.
I was outraged over Romney's 47% stupidity, not because it's false but because I damn well expect a President to represent everyone, not just the people who voted for them. I give no quarter to Hillary for her own version of the same.
I disliked the optics of the Hillary campaign immediately hiring Shultz ( I'm having grumble spelling her full name, no insult intended) after she resigned. It smacked of her campaign doing what it wanted, regardless of what Bernie's voters thought.

Long story short, while R has become a house of gibbering lunacy, I will vote for a party that earns my vote, and right now that isn't the Democrats. The counter-argument is, "but Trump!". To paraphrase Men In Black, there is always going to a Korelian Death Ray, an Intergalactic Plaugue, or a Donald Trump. I'm tired of false choices.
To Dr. Brin, I will of course vote down- ticket races, but my same metrics apply. The Democratic candidates do not automatically make the cut.