Thursday, November 10, 2016

Shining light on cyber-secrets

Okay. All right.  I've posted my thoughts about moving forward after this election. And yes, with confidence in a future-oriented civilization that may, yet, save the planet and take us to the stars.

Meanwhile - a topic I know a thing or two about... our increasingly (and now it had better be) transparent world.

First off: Here is the video of my recent popular talk on the future of AI at IBM's World of Watson congress in Las Vegas, last month. The place was packed! A punchy tour of big perspectives on Intelligence and - both artificial and human augmentation.

== Are we about to be slammed? ==

Okay then, here's a worrisome note: 

Someone is preparing a BIG attack on the Internet: “Over the past year or two, someone has been probing the defenses of the companies that run critical pieces of the Internet,” according to a blog post by security expert Bruce Schneier:

“These probes take the form of precisely calibrated attacks designed to determine exactly how well these companies can defend themselves, and what would be required to take them down. It feels like a nation’s military cyber-command trying to calibrate its weaponry in the case of cyberwar.”  Who might do this? “The size and scale of these probes — and especially their persistence — point to state actors. … China or Russia would be my first guesses.”

Among my list of Proposals for the new administration, that I'll issue in January, is to tell all citizens that their computers and printers etc may serve as botnet hosts, and that every person will share in tort liability for any major Net Disaster, unless they have at least tried, twice a year, to download a reputable anti-malware program.


This could get critical. One of the largest Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks happened recently and almost nobody noticed, because it was a complete takedown of the internet in Liberia. “...Why attack Liberia? Nobody is quite sure. One security researcher we spoke to, who didn't want to be named for fear of reprisals, said that attacking a little-known about country might be the "best place" to test cyberweapons, like the Mirai botnet, for larger attacks. Beaumont also thinks that the attacks "appear to be [of] a test nature"....”


No, clearly something awful is in the offing.  And we don't need, in the White House, a pal of the guys doing this. Put those two thoughts together and one's darkest thoughts turn to Manchuria...  but more on that, anon.

== Spies everywhere! ==

Salon has been running an interesting series called “Espionage Insiders.” “The biggest benefit of what Edward Snowden did is that it motivated the U.S. Government to set better protocols and to actually follow them,” says Morey Haber, VP of Technology at BeyondTrust.

Like me, Haber is willing for our watchdogs to see, but we believe they need better supervision.  In this interview, Haber interprets that to mean better supervision of employees, so that further leakers like Snowden can be prevented.  My meaning is different. I mean better supervision in that our watch-dogs need always to remember whom they work for.  There are ways to do that without impeding on them doing their jobs.

Where we agree is in this… Snowden’s revelations made us stronger. That is what happens in free societies.  Light tends to be bracing. Often irritating, but almost never truly damaging. In sharp contrast, all our truly deadly enemies — from terrorists and criminals to totalitarian regimes — find light to be dangerously destabilizing and past a certain point, lethal.

That point, in the preceding paragraph, is one I hammer home every time I speak to various agencies “back east.” It is the salient, long-term strategic fact and points to our civilization’s victory condition. A world mostly filled with light may irritate us, especially our leaders, from time to time. 

But enemies of freedom and the enlightenment would find such conditions fatal.  We win. It is the only condition in which - over the long haul - we have any chance of winning at all. (And I don't get tired of winning.)


== The same old intellectual trap ==

In contrast, Amy Webb,  founder of The Future Today Institute, discusses how latter-day seers use lots and lots of data to try penetrating (prediction) future trends and events.  She found Snowden’s revelations unsurprising. Being watched is simply the modern condition.

“For so many people, things like iris scans [for authentication] seem technologically forward and scary,” says Webb. “For me, iris scanning is old hat. I am looking at neuro scanning, and verification based on the way that your body interacts with a WiFi signal.”  She does worry about the accuracy of certain methods of surveillance, such as facial recognition technology.

And yet, her recommendation is the same as Haber’s: to “change your passwords often.” 

How, I keep asking, can smart, forward thinking people simply not get it?  And I mean not get it at the most fundamental levels?

The series also interviews probably the most over-rated “security expert” on the planet, Bruce Schneier, who draws conclusions that are generally either obvious or diametrically wrongheaded. While whingeing about loss of privacy, he never, ever offers a practical suggestion on what to do about the Moore’s Law of Cameras — with the eyes getting smaller, faster, cheaper, better and more mobile at an accelerating pace and into ever-more hands. Or the flood of different biometrics that will render any organic human identifiable, at range, in dozens of ways.

That trend in proliferation of cameras is not necessarily bad — it has empowered the whole Black Lives Matter movement and enabled good cops to do their jobs better, while making life way-harder for the bad ones.  That one example shows a path forward and it is not — as Schneier reliably recommends — to moan about such trends and keep trying to hide.

== And those who rise above the trap ==


Smarter is Dan Patterson, a tech journalist who specializes in matters of cybersecurity, politics, and government, whose Espionage Insiders interview shines a little light upon the so-called Dark Web — “a virtual dark alley filled with bogeymen and unseemly characters ready to trade private information to the highest bidder.”

Patterson agrees with Haber that Snowden’s biggest contribution was to expose weaknesses in government agency procedures. “By failing to follow basic safeguards that would keep our information out of the hands of criminals, he explains, the government made us more vulnerable—in the name of national security.”

In the interview Patterson quasi justifies the Dark Web because it offers the privacy that is essential for whistleblowers. “We need people who live under oppressive regimes to be able to communicate with the outside world.” (Via encryption and anonymity.)  

Yet again, there is an inability to see the forest for the trees. Because must we accept the zero sum thinking here? That in order to gain those benefits, we must put up with parasitical and predatory criminality?

It seems to occur to none of these brainy “experts” that we have a modern civilization that can adapt to changing times with intelligently negotiated law. 

Oh, it’s not entirely their fault, since it has not happened except on rare occasions in this century, because of a concerted campaign to destroy politics in the U.S., as a problem solving tool. But other generations did it.

In fact, that is the reason why we have whistleblower laws and laws on civil disobedience and safe harbor for the revelation of felonies. These could be the basis for new methods and institutions that would systematically give folks like Snowden safe places to go with their complaints. Such systems might encourage henchmen around the world to step up, casting light upon every horridly oppressive conspiracy.  I have long proposed ways that some billionaire could get the ball rolling.  Or some vividly far-seeing president…

But we have to start with our best and brightest and sharpest seers and experts. They must start talking about these problems in something more than the same hoary cliches, over and over again.

The Espionage Insiders series aims to accomplish that, and some of the interviewees have been smarter than others, offering tepidly interesting insights.  But I am deeply hopeful that these aren’t truly representative.

We need much sharper tools than these, in our workshop.

== Transparency news == 

I'm quoted in The Atlantic's latest issue: Even Bugs Will Be Bugged: Exploring the next frontiers in surveillance: A Big Brother society results not from being watched, but from one-way observation. 

Almost any ambient radio system – like WiFi – will be able to eavesdrop and track your movements and much more. “By measuring subtle changes in breathing and heart rhythms, EQ-Radio is 87 percent accurate at detecting if a person is excited, happy, angry or sad — and can do so without on-body sensors… Using wireless signals reflected off people’s bodies, the device measures heartbeats as accurately as an ECG monitor, with a margin of error of approximately 0.3 percent.”

This does not have to mean an end to privacy or freedom. It does mean that the earnest, well-meaning prescriptions offered by most civil liberties paladins – to yell “stop, looking at us, Big Brother!” – are pathetically futile. I have to wonder when they (any of them) will wake up to the fact that cowering and hiding simply will not and cannot work. It never ever has. 

One thing has worked.  It is responsible for what freedom we do have! And it is being played out, right now, on our streets. It is the one and only thing that can work tomorrow.  And it is the one thing that all the privacy mavens, liberty activists and security “experts” absolutely refuse to allow into their minds.

It is happening despite them. The solution is unfolding, as it had to, and as I predicted, 20 years ago in The Transparent Society. The street is making use of technology to look back at power. Bravely, assertively insisting on transparency for those with power.  

Alas, the “leaders” among the anti-orwellians will – apparently – be the last to realize any of this -- that you do not fight Big Brother by hiding from him.  

You stop him from oppressing you by getting in his face.



== I said let's go back to ... ==

...being a real civilization heading for the stars.  Tonight we'll watch the new Star Trek flick.

Hope springs eternal...

115 comments:

donzelion said...

Jeff B.: "we're not going to get at the Electoral College, not in the immediate future...First stop the bleeding, then take care of the headache."

The Electoral College has to go first, and it must go immediately. The 'bleeding' isn't just electoral fraud and manipulation; it's federal funds being siphoned by well-placed local (Republican) elites - who run the crony capitalism financed in part by out-of-state taxpayers and who will defend the piggy bank that they've built up.

"First we stop the bleeding" requires ending the electoral college today. So long as the Republican governors and their Republican cousins run the Republican contractors spending federal money to advance Republican agendas - all efforts at local reform are going to be stymied: they can field thousands of paid workers against dozens of volunteers calling for reason and fairness.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: I am still curious about your take on Prop 54, the only 'transparency' matter I know of - which passed. From your comments, I read this -

"The solution is unfolding, as it had to, and as I predicted, 20 years ago in The Transparent Society. The street is making use of technology to look back at power. Bravely, assertively insisting on transparency for those with power."

-as an oblique and hesitant pledge of support for the proposition. It seems to me that putting cameras on the politicians as the speak is absolutely necessary.

It also seems to me that other than AI, there's not going to be much way to actually make use of this system to find what those politicians said and what it means. Watson could parse a million words of public speech, but I sure couldn't, nor could anyone who failed to watch it full time. Is it possible that the first important use of AI will be to help us hold our leaders accountable? This isn't a use of AI that I've heard anyone discussing.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: People who voted for Trump because (inexplicably) they were poking at Wall St would have loved Warren.

You live in a bubble my friend. Some of my moderate GOP friends respond vigorously negative to her speaking on camera.

Don Raymond said...

Something I've been wanting to mention about sousveillance - I work in a financial institution, where part of my job involves running our Title 31 anti-money laundering program. The Big Thing that the IRS and FinCEN have been pushing this year is "know your customer" - we are strongly encouraged, and will soon be required, to run detailed background checks on our top clients in an attempt to determine the source of their incomes. These background checks includes any public court records, social media posts, credit histories, and even, when all else fails, befriending them solely to earn their trust and learn about their business dealings.
As an old 4th Amendment freak, this pushed some of my hot buttons. When I asked, the auditors response was "you're not the government, you don't have to obey privacy laws."
I've also read reports of private, for-profit prisons recording client-attorney conversations and submitting them to law enforcement.
What I'm seeing is a trend of governments avoiding accountability by pushing the monitoring requirements off on private industry. The advantage of this setup for the government is that they don't have to have any written (and therefore accountable) documents beyond, "we want you to know your customer," but, through threat of fines and closure, require industry to bend all sorts of privacy laws.

Tom Crowl said...

We're all still stuck on re-considering the election.

In that context I noted a comment from Joe Trippi on Facebook:

"If I could ban one thing it would not be money in politics - it would be polling..."

(I assume it's because its been so inaccurate)

He's a nice guy but this is nonsense. Being a bit one-tracked I made this response:

"RE Polling: The internet micropayment is inevitable whether people pay attention or not. This will be found to be the most accurate system for polling opinion ever developed once ubiquity is attained (which is also inevitable in time). This is NOT the same as direct democracy.. but rather one of the needed tools for informing a political class in just what is going on with their population... especially in a large and diverse civilization."

This is my opinion. I always welcome critique. Clearly I haven't convinced the world of this... but I think if it was in place and ubiquitous these Parties would know they had some problems... and this election would have been much different.

And, btw, it can to greater extent than many realize address money in politics and prompt reform as well... even w/o waiting for an overturn of Citizens United (which would be gamed anyway).

Tom Crowl said...

Btw, since I believe while most people aren't experts on economic ideologies (including myself)... YET most also believe that innovation and hard work should be rewarded along with a fair legal system, good schools and a level playing field.

Hence... its very possible... perhaps even likely... that an 'empowered' polling system (the micropayment) would be a protector of the ideals of Adam Smith and anti-toxin for the poison of cronyism.

I suspect many believe the opposite which is why there seems to actually be some serious fear of this capability existing.

(I confess I avoid the word Capitalism... because it many circles the word has become confused with its perversions... like financialization and cronyism which are very different.)

Robert said...

Jim Wright did a blog writeup of the election.

There was one very important thing he stated, and it's true.

Democrats will continue to lose to Republicans if they fail to reach out to rural America. They need to find a way to touch base there, to let rural America know it is not forgotten, it is not abandoned. That their way of life is as important as the urban way of life is.

He stated Sanders would likewise have lost because of this. I'm not sure, as I believe a lot of what drove Trump's victory was hatred of Clinton. But Wright is correct that in order to heal this divide, Democrats are going to have to pull out the Blue Dogs and start building roads to rural America once more.

The only other thing to do is divide America into sections. Urban and Rural. And let them go their own ways.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

@Tom Crowl,

Perhaps it's not the idea of polling that has become so annoying, but the methods. Actual, professional polling seems to have lost its mojo as to how to interpret accurate results. Insta-polls on the internet, which aren't much more than video games, are reported as meaningful. Day to day swings are considered to be significant. As far as I know, none of the polls take likely voter-suppression into account.

I think people are sick of hearing polling results because they don't reflect the actual chances of the candidates in the real election.

LarryHart said...

@Robert,

Do the disaffected rust-belt workers in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Michigan count as "rural"?

I get what you are saying (what Jim Wright is saying), but maybe the words "urban" and "rural" don't convey the true divide. Small towns seem to fit in the "rural" team, as do some suburbs and even residents of the not-so-rich areas of older cities.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion: I suspect Robin Hanson's type of ems would be enough to monitor the leaders. A full AI wouldn't be necessary. If they are upclocked enough, they might not get too bored. Checking in periodically would be enough.

David Brin said...

Today I was interviewed on NPR's "Here and Now" show on how technology and being on-camera all the time is affecting American politics. The actual audio is better than the short transcription .

http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2016/11/10/reality-tv-presidency

Paul SB said...

On the topic of the post...

As a general rule I am in favor of transparency, and agree with Dr. Brin on his "the more the merrier" approach. But I do have a few reservations.

"Light tends to be bracing. Often irritating, but almost never truly damaging."

If we are going for analogies here, we could consider melanoma, which is more often fatal than not. In the U.S. it is pretty plainly obvious that we live in a very divided, polarized society, and considering Brexit it seems like this is not limited to just one country. Where you have mutually hostile camps, there is a certain level of secrecy that ordinary citizens need to protect themselves from a majority of dichotomous thinkers.

I could bring up Parnell again, who came close to brining peace to Ireland in the 19th C., but was discredited as a leader because he was caught having an extra-marital affair - as if that disqualified him from negotiating peace. But unreasonable people (and the world is replete with these) have unreasonable expectations, and good people can be derailed easily by irrelevancies that tarnish their reputation. If it were known in my very Christian home town that I married a Buddhist, I would not have been able to get a job there ever again. I know of a teacher who was seen masturbating through the window of his home who resigned rather than going through the public humiliation of being a subject of angry protests, letters to the editor and ultimately having his professional license revoked.

The technology keeps advancing. At some point the right technology will be able to figure out what we are thinking even before we think it. But we cling to antiquated and unrealistic notions about human nature, and have expectations that simply don't mesh with reality. At some point the culture itself is going to have to change, or the technology will create a hell on earth for us. Take videos of police confronting people - they are public servants and should be in our public eye. Plant hidden cameras in every corporate board room and listen in on every behind-closed-doors government contract negotiation, like the ones that made Halliburton rich off the Iraq War. But do we need to have people filming us taking a dump, or making love, or picking our noses? I don't want to find my unwanted sex tapes on the internet where my neighbors can rate my performance. If someone can point a machine at you and show that you had a physiological response in the presence of some member of the opposite sex (or the same), it becomes a rumor-mill tool, and a way for ignorant people to take down ordinary people. Maybe you had a little too much to drink one night and let slips words you would never say otherwise, only to find your video going viral and your employer letting you go so you aren't an embarrassment to the company. You know that is what huge numbers of people will do to each other.

You can count on human decency from some people, but not from all, especially when people think in terms of "whose side are you on?" Looking at recent times and recent events, I'm not sure even half of people qualify as decent.

Mel Baker said...

I hope you'll address the rage addiction. I've been drawn into it on Facebook as I and my friends freak out about the nightmare of President Trump. You should repackage the blog post you did on the issue and pitch it to a couple of your favorite clients. Very timely.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I've been listening to response to the demonstrations (and I'm very proud that my old high school sent several hundred students out onto the main street to protest yesterday) and of course Republicans and Trumpsters are outraged. What's really sad is the liberals and Democrats who are twittering that its unseemly.
To me, the message is clear as a bell: Mess with our rights, and you'll have riots and possibly even a revolution on your hands.

LarryHart said...

@Zepp Jamieson,

If Trumpsters are outraged at hypocrisy--"You'd have been condemning us for rioting if Trump had lost!"--then they have a point.

I suspect, however, that the irony of what they're outraged about is lost on them.

Anonymous said...

What makes you think the tests aren't being run by the NSA?

Tom Crowl said...

If Trump tries to start pulling families apart in California for deportation I think its reasonable to assume that there's going to be significant and even likely violent disruption... and it won't be only the affected population participating.

This is a prediction... not a suggestion.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: this just in. A buddy of mine posted this on FB; he wants me to join the board for his new nonprofit, and it's something you might help with immensely.

"This afternoon I met with the chiefs of Azusa and Covina Police Departments. They, along with three other police departments in East San Gabriel Valley, have received a grant for body-worn cameras and want the community's input on policies and procedures regarding the cameras. They have reached out to the Social Justice Advocacy Project, Inc. to help facilitate this discussion. They also committed to other programs that are anticipated to create meaningful contact between law enforcement and the communities they serve.
As a member of the community, I am glad the police are reaching out for community input on this important matter, but as the head of the Social Justice Advocacy Project, Inc., I am elated that our organization has gained the credibility to be invited to facilitate such an important discussion.
We have created a form for community input located at: http://www.advocacyproject.org/body-worn-cameras.html
Look forward to exciting updates on this soon! #FindYourAdvocacy #Trumpwho?


The lawyer leading this has never done community organizing before, but has been vigorously meeting police chiefs and trying to get momentum on this topic. Who has really crafted these sorts of policies and procedures? Who wants to help?

Paul SB: this is our community. Let's do that yogurt or coffee and make it happen this time.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry Hart:

Yeah, well, by and large they aren't much on self-awareness. Most have totally forgotten the pre-election babble about riots and insurrection if Hillary was elected.
The demonstrations will peter out in a few days. They are just meant to send a message: "Don't blow us off. You don't have a mandate to absolute rule."
Far more disturbing are the spike in racist and/or sexist attacks, particularly in schools. The alt.right crowd seem to have interpreted the election as a licence to start pogroms.

Paul SB said...

Donzelion,

11:00 Saturday at Berries? Let me know.

Zepp,

No matter who wins the election or by how slim a margin, the victor always claims to have the Mandate From Heaven. The difference between the right and the left is that when the left wins, they institute social programs. When the right wins, they form lynch mobs. I did suggest that this was coming, though I suspect it would be bloodier if he had lost.

David Brin said...

PaulSB re universal transparency… it comes in phases. Universal transparency would prevent top-down cruelty e.g. Big Brother. And fewer cops, not more. But it could lead to oppression by the 51% conformist majority of “little brothers.” The fear you express.

That calls for a second layer. For public attitudes and the law to equilibrate that excessive nosiness and gossipy bullying are, in themselves, crimes or at least create accountable discomfort in the nosy bullies. That eccentricity that does no harm is appreciated and valued. If that is the general zeitgeist then light can flow in relatively benign ways that let YOU catch the peeping Toms and tell them MYOB. (Mind your own business!)

And your neighbors will agree.

I am not saying this WILL happen. It does appear to be the only way.


The demonstrations. I am tempted to wag my fingers and say they are unseemly and we should take the high road. Still, one person watching these scenes might be chastened. You know whom.

MillenniumCrow said...

First, thank you all for your welcome and encouragement in the previous thread. I was finally able to get some sleep and I'm feeling much better.

Paul,

I agree that there has to be some way to carve out some amount of personal privacy. In addition, I recall reading somewhere (can't find the source right now but if I do I'll supply it) that diplomacy between nations benefits from a degree of secrecy. For example, it's hard to use "back-channel" diplomacy if one or more participants have reason to fear that their dealings might be discovered by means like the State Department e-mail hacks and then publicized on Wikileaks.

All,

In keeping with the theme of the post, here's something I read at War on the Rocks shortly before the election. I knew some of what's contained in this story, but even I was surprised by the scale, scope, and duration of the information war that the Russians have been waging against us.

http://warontherocks.com/2016/11/trolling-for-trump-how-russia-is-trying-to-destroy-our-democracy/

Note that the author of this piece didn't believe the Russians actually wanted Trump to win. Neither did several of the other sources I've been reading. But I'm sure they're not terribly disappointed in the outcome.

What stood out to me was not the technical sophistication of the Russian operation, but how expertly they've integrated their cyber, political, and information warfare operations. It's not just them attacking our technology directly that we have to worry about, but them attacking our political system and indeed the very ideas we live by through our technology. They have a strategic vision, they're adhering to it, and we'd better wake up and start doing something to defeat, if not them, at least their strategy.

This is also both a reason that I'm angry with Trump (for being a Russian agent, witting or unwitting) and his followers, and at the same time a reason that I'm working hard to get over it. It might be too soon for some people, but it's a national security imperative that we come together as a nation.

It occurs to me also that given the outcome of the election, if I were a Russian looking to further divide America and render its government ineffective, I'd apply the counter-stroke to the whipsaw: release some information harmful to Trump and the Republicans and get it into the hands of left-leaning media outlets. I'll try to be alert for signs of this and let you all know if I find any, and I encourage all of you to do the same. CITOKATE, dammit.

The Black Cat said...

Far more disturbing are the spike in racist and/or sexist attacks, particularly in schools. The alt.right crowd seem to have interpreted the election as a licence to start pogroms.

Why would this come as a suprise?

As for the electoral college, that would college, that would require a constitutional ammendmant. In other words, 2/3s of the states. Less than zero chance of that happening.

Tim W said...

The emboldening of the extreme right, measured by spikes in hate crimes, is the most frustrating and depressing aspect of this - it has been the same here in the UK since Brexit. It's frightening to realise how much of it is still out there, bubbling away under the surface, particularly from inside the soothing comfort of the (reality biased) liberal bubble. We as a species still have a long way to go, and it's time to stand up and face the hatred down. It cannot be allowed to define us, and free speech is no excuse. Or to put that another way, a bigoted asshole has the right to say what he likes, and it is our right - no, duty - to call him an asshole for doing it.

The impact this result will have on tackling climate change is also worrying. Clearly the legislature is unlikely to help now, so we have to hope that economics will do the job instead. If renewables and storage can continue to become cheaper and cheaper (as they seem be doing), sooner or later they will undercut fossil fuels completely. After all, who is going to pay for energy by the kilowatt-hour if they can skim off what they need from Mother Nature's unwanted offcuts? However.... is that basic competition now going to be facing increasing subsidies given to the non-renewables side? (I'm sorry to say it, but if China and the US don't tackle their CO2 emissions soon, the rest of us on the planet could be as green as cabbages and it wouldn't matter a jot).



Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Guys
What happens if Trump is found guilty at his fraud or rape trial?

Can he be jailed?
Can he continue to be President from his cell?

I think I understand that as President he would need to be impeached before he could be tried but does that count for a prosecution that was ongoing before he became President?

Deuxglass said...

Look at the reason the Constitution set up the Electoral College system before deciding to abolish it just because your favorite candidate lost the election. If it had gone the other way these same people would be praising the Electoral College for having saved the country by permitting the election of Hillary Clinton. Their wish to abolish the Electoral College smacks of sour grapes to me and they have not asked themselves the question why the Founding Fathers set up the institution in the first place. They spent a lot of time discussing and researching why governments in the past starting with Greeks and Romans inevitably ended in tyranny and they wanted to avoid the United States from falling into the same trap. They didn’t do it on a whim and were very well versed in history and the theories of good government. They set it up to prevent a tyranny of the majority over the minority, to keep the populous states from enacting policies that benefit only them to the detriment of the less populous ones. It was to broaden political power over a wider base and to keep it from becoming too concentrated. It was designed to be a part of the checks and balances system and it has worked remarkably well over the centuries. To remove it would be a big mistake. Using your logic then we would have to apportion senators by population as well and do you think that would be a good idea?

donzelion said...

Deuxglass: "Their wish to abolish the Electoral College smacks of sour grapes to me"
A Wyoming voter's vote is weighted the same as 4 New York voters. Suggesting this is a problem does not strike me as 'sour grapes.'

The EC was created (1) to prevent a situation where the people might elect an imminently unqualified candidate, some person who had never served the public or the country and whom 'wise elders' would KNOW to be unsuitable - a purpose which will be proven to be a failure in a few week's time, and
(2) to defend slavery.

Yes, the Founders studied history. More importantly, they studied their present day - and how to defend their own interests (esp. the slaveholders). Recall that they also tried to limit voters to property owners, to prevent direct elections to the Senate, and a number of other items that made sense to them at the time - but have either been changed or proved catastrophic failures for their intended purpose. The country survived by abandoning what never worked and replacing it with what does work.

In 2000, I was inclined to retain the electoral college - and even argued on television that we should do so. In 2016, those arguments no longer apply. It doesn't matter how I would argue "if the situation was reversed" - this situation will never be reversed (at least, it will not change until we enter an era in which wealth does not influence governance, and governance does not create wealth - for a few insiders).

"Using your logic then we would have to apportion senators by population as well and do you think that would be a good idea?"
Why not? Printing presses and typewriters also served us well for decades, centuries even, but you're typing on the web. Obviously there's no inherent advantage to something because it is 'old.'

And in politics, the Constitution itself was a replacement of something that worked "well" (if you were a Southerner who feared the possibility of slavery being terminated). In the UK, the House of Lords and the oligarchy/aristocracy worked "well" - if one was an oligarch.

donzelion said...

Duncan: "What happens if Trump is found guilty at his fraud or rape trial?"
These are both civil charges, not criminal charges. He could lose both claims and be ordered to pay damages, but won't go to jail. It is theoretically possible that the Electoral College might review these charges and determine that Trump is manifestly unqualified to hold the office of president: but that possibility is rather remote.

(Which is another reason to abolish the Electoral College. It serve no function save to empower Wyoming v. California.)

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

The Electoral College has to go first, and it must go immediately.


I feel your pain, but do you understand that, administratively, the Electoral College can't go immediately. It's woven into the fabric of the Constitution. Amending the Constitution takes 2/3 of the Senate and 3/4 of the states, both of which would require the very states whose influence depends on the Electoral College to help remove it.

There is another solution in the works which doesn't involve messing with the Constitution, but in the current political climate, I don't see its chances as all that much better. Some states--California is one and I think Illinois is in there--are trying to build a legally-binding pact among states to all change their state rules so that they allocate their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. If such a pact could include enough states to produce 270 EVs, then the deed would be done. However, while this doesn't require 3/4 of the states, it does require a winning coalition of states, for example, the states Clinton thought were her path to victory. Well, even if we discount this current election as an outlier and assume that the former "blue wall" would have voted Democratic, many of those state governments are controlled by Republicans. Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina--if those states are not on board, you'd probably need all the rest to go along, including the solidly-Republican south and west. A constitutional amendment might actually be easier.

So while there are paths to the popular election of presidents, none of them are quick or easy. It's not a matter of what needs to happen, but of what can be done. President Obama can't just change this by decree.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Far more disturbing are the spike in racist and/or sexist attacks, particularly in schools. The alt.right crowd seem to have interpreted the election as a licence to start pogroms.


It is very hard to watch 1933 Germany playing out before our eyes while at the same time being told how "politically incorrect" (not in those words, but if the shoe fits...) it is to mention 1930s Germany.

LarryHart said...

The Black Cat:

"Far more disturbing are the spike in racist and/or sexist attacks, particularly in schools. The alt.right crowd seem to have interpreted the election as a licence to start pogroms.

Why would this come as a suprise?


Not surprise so much as disappointment. With that caveat, the answer to your question is "Because this is America."

LarryHart said...

@Deuxglass and @donzelion

You both have good points about the Electoral College.

Yes, it was set up as a compromise between states. But I believe the primary motivator there was that the slave states in the south would have defected if they felt dominated by the more urbanized north. The idea that states, rather than individuals, had interests which needed balancing was more the case then than it is now. In the current climate, if the EC is to be kept around, it would make more sense for electors to be apportioned appropriately to groups like "white working class males" and "suburban married women", etc., than to states per se.

I agree with donzelion to the extent that I don't see "sour grapes" so much as a sense of unfairness. Even as a kid, the first time I heard about the Electoral College, and that the popular vote winner could lose, I felt that that was unfair, and only took comfort in the fact that it hardly ever happened that way.

Remember, up until 2000, I'm pretty sure we only had one instance of the Electoral Vote overruling the popular vote--Grover Cleveland's loss in 1888. In practice, the EC tended to reinforce the popular vote rather than override it*. Before Bush v Gore, I don't think most voters were all that aware of the fact that the popular vote winner wouldn't be president, even if in the back of their minds was awareness of the EC. That's changed since 2000 with both W (2000) and now Trump winning despite the popular vote.

Note that no Democrat ever has been the winner in that way. In the current political climate, I almost guarantee that the rule will somehow be changed after the first time that happens.

* These 51% contests are what are hurting democracy. Our system is designed with the built in assumption that majorities will recognize the best way of handling administration and that the pragmatic majority will overcome the smaller votes of special interests. Ideally, you'd see 60-some % or even higher giving a clear mandate to one side or the other of an election (I'm not just talking presidential elections--all elections). In other words, a clear consensus, where the "losers" could gracefully come on board and know that the majority has spoken and it's time to make it work instead of endlessly infighting.

That's not what we've been seeing recently. We're seeing competing special interests campaigning furiously on tribalism for just enough votes to get their way instead of the other side getting its way, and no one really looking at what's best for the country (state, city, etc) as a whole. That's not democracy. Not really. It's something else in democratic trappings.

Tacitus2 said...

I am going to defer commenting in detail until the Political Lamp is once again lit. No doubt our Estimable Host is busily installing a 500 million candlepower bulb and getting ready to throw a huge Von Frankenstein switch while wearing darkly tinted Steampunk style goggles. (sorry David, but my image of you doing this has you wearing a Doc Brown wig)

But as people have an interest in the Electoral College...

It is a quirky thing and it is natural to be grumpy when a close election splits the Pop vote and the EC vote this way. The structure of our current body politic probably makes things tip towards the R side when this happens. The D majority in large pop states like CA and NY is simply massive.

But to claim it is inherently unfair when an election ends this way is superficial. If we elected our President by popular vote it would be a fundamental change. Everything else about our elections would also change in response. You can theorize ways this might alter the outcome, but you can't know.

It is fair to assume that you would have far fewer Candidates turning up at the Iowa State Fair. In fact campaigns would become "coastal" if one includes a few other large pop states like Texas. I might be spared some annoying robocalls and landfill clogging campaign literature here in Wisconsin.

The GOTV efforts would be enormously increased. This would be good and maybe not always good. How many Texas Democrats and California Republicans now stay home because their EV input has been predetermined? How would they trend, centrist or would they head to both the polls and the poles? I know that voter fraud discussions here should probably come with a "trigger warning" but the scope of concern would be wider. No longer would those seeking to commit or to sniff out election day hijinks be limited to those few states where a few thousand votes could matter greatly. A thousand votes in Wyoming or Brooklyn all count the same. Whether this would in fact create more cheating depends on your view of human nature. Whether it would create an entire universe of legal challenge opportunities is self evident.

And of course abolishing the EC would have exactly the effect that the Framers of the Constitution wanted to avoid. The concerns of fly over land (man, could they have even understood that concept?) would be of little account. Not to get ahead of myself, or to wade too deeply into the very matter I said I would hold fire on, but in some ways the 2016 election is a very loud message from the people who grow the wheat, pump the oil, man (and woman) the shop floors where American manufacturing is being reborn. They are not happy with the financiers and pundits of LA and NYC. Not happy at all.

Tacitus

LarryHart said...

One more thought on constitutionalism and the "founders knew what they were doing" concept...

The constitution, amendments and all, does not give the Supreme Court the power to nullify laws passed by the legislature. It was not envisioned in 1789 that a very slim margin would decide which partisan vision of America would be cemented into permanency for generations.

Were that not the case, this election would not have nearly the importance that it has taken on. It would be just one more presidential election whose effects could be undone the next time if warranted.

Is the Supreme Court truly the elephant in the room?

@Tacitus, the "political lamp" thing isn't relevant right at the moment. This blog is a community, at least a pseudo-community, and we need to talk about this stuff right now. The old "Cerebus" list I was on became a political thread around presidential elections, just as it became a "Star Wars" thread when a movie was released. Because where else are we going to talk amongst ourselves about this stuff other than here?

Anonymous said...

Well when the scientist issues a ritual invocation of transparency that contains no new information while the pagan archdruid with beard most impressive offers better predictive analysis of the state of America...

Tacitus2 said...

Anonymous

I doubt you are referring to me in the above. But if you are, in the interests of transparancy I should say that I am neither a pagan or an archdruid. The magnificence of my beard of course can't be denied.

Larry, people are free to discuss anything of interest. My policy of politics in political threads is self imposed and as above, often the subject of exceptions.

Tacitus

Zepp Jamieson said...

Duncan Cairncross asked: "Can he [Trump] be jailed?
Can he continue to be President from his cell?"

Thanks to Paula Jones, that settled case law. Yes, a sitting president can be made to answer for crimes and torts he may have committed prior to taking office.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@LarryHart:

It doesn't help that Trump's bedside reading (and it may have been the ONLY reading not directly related to work he ever did) was "My New World Order" by A. Hitler. The book was both a collection of his speeches, and the story of how he manipulated his way into the Chancellorship.
When the story broke, Trump was asked about it, and said it was recommended to him by a good fried, but it was OK, because the friend was Jewish. So they talked to the friend, who said that Donald was correct, except for one thing: he isn't Jewish.
So, PC or no, I don't hesitate to compare Trump to the rise of the fascist dictatorships of the 30s. I think he's more of a Mussolini than a Hitler but that's not exactly a ringing endorsement.
It also doesn't help that the penultimate step of his rise to power was achieved by failing to win the popular vote.

David S said...

Here is an approach that enables the popular voting of the president without amending the constitution.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Popular_Vote_Interstate_Compact

"The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is an agreement among several U.S. states and the District of Columbia to award all their respective electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the overall popular vote in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The compact is designed to ensure that the candidate who wins the most popular votes is elected president, and it will come into effect only when it will guarantee that outcome.[2][3]

Many[who?] political analysts have concluded that the Compact is extremely unlikely to pass nationwide.[4] As of 2016, it has been adopted by ten states and the District of Columbia, whose 165 combined electoral votes represent 30.7% of the total Electoral College vote, and 61.1% of the 270 votes needed for it to have legal force. All of them have been heavily Democratic states. Swing states will likely not join the Compact, as it would reduce their influence; Republican nominees won the 2000 and 2016 presidential elections while losing the popular vote."




Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

I get what you mean about the second layer (or should it be the Second Layer?) but I can't say I have a lot of confidence. That near 50/50 split says to me that we do, indeed, have a long, long way to go (cue Phil Collins). All the pundits got this one wrong, while my Eeyore Senses were going full tilt, worse than the Bush v. Gore days. Tim said that every asshole has the right to express his/her bigoted opinions, and we have a duty to call them out for it. The problem is, we can try to shame them all we like, but a true asshole is proud of being an asshole, and will vote for any asshole on the ticket. Assholes in office are an ego boost for every playground bully who is tired of being shamed by decent human beings for being an asshole. This is deep in our culture, and it's not going to change any time soon.

This is exactly why I argued so strenuously against Alfred's mantra to honor the merchants. When you honor a class of people for their profession, what you are honoring is group membership, not the actual quality of the individual. This is no different than the church-goers I was raised with, who could downplay and justify any sin committed by members off their congregation, while going into hysterics over the assumed sins of anyone not in their club. By honoring the businessmen as a class instead of honoring more abstract standards like honesty, decency and fairness, it becomes easy for the dishonest to justify their deplorable acts simply by membership (and especially success) in their social group (businessmen).

The pundits blew this one because they assumed that most Americans are decent human beings, with only a handful of deplorable like David Duke on the margins of society. What they don't get is that generations of worshipping money in opposition to them damn Commies has made us into a nation of deplorables - people who act on impulse instead of thinking about it, people who can justify any self-indulgence, any indecency, any injustice if it makes them feel good about themselves and whatever tribe they claim membership in. I've heard women say that Bill Clinton's philandering with a willing (if ugly) White House intern was no different from Trump committing sexual assault on unwilling victims. Logic? Justice? Human decency? Nope, not here. We can wring our hands forever, and rattle off lists of logical inconsistencies and fallacious arguments forever, but a huge chunk of our population will simply never get it, and will continue to support rapists, con-artists and criminals with their votes.

As soon as you say "Mind Your Own Business" you are presumed guilty by the conformist moralizers of the religious right, and they will come after you with or without legal recourse (or ax handles). If we pass wise laws to protect people from these snoops, then as soon as you have to resort to legal protection you are presumed guilty and get the same reaction, with the added opprobrium of "hiding behind lawyers".

But then, it could be that the Daylight Savings transition has messed with my serotonin levels and I'll be less of a pessimist in a couple weeks...

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

But then, it could be that the Daylight Savings transition has messed with my serotonin levels


There is something truly disorienting about this election happening immediately after the Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years. As the drinking song in "Hamilton" (also referenced in Gore Vidal's novel "Burr") has it:

The world turned upside down.


The most appropriate "Hamilton" line for the aftermath of this election unfortunately makes no sense without an explanation. It's what the King George character laughed himself silly about after hearing that George Washington was stepping down, and that of all people, John Adams would now be president. King George laughs himself silly at the thought of America tearing itself to pieces from then on. You have to imagine him speaking in the most cartoonishly comic and haughty sing-song voice and laughing like the Schoolhouse Rock version of King George from "No More Kings":


"President Donald Trump"???
...(pause to let that sink in)...

Good luuuuuuck.

Robert said...

Dr. Brin, in response to your comment on "unseemly behavior" with the demonstrations and riots that are currently happening?

Good.

I want the Republican Party to notice they have woken a slumbering giant. I want them to see that they and their anti-minority activities have caused a lot of people to say "I will not accept this." I want them to notice how many youth and young voters have out-and-out REJECTED them because of their views and ideology which has been laid bare.

Then Republicans and their leaders are going to have to make some cold hard cynical decisions. Do they double down? Do they pass legislation to disenfranchise the minorities and the protestors? Make it illegal for people convicted of crimes to vote? Ensure that these people have their voices silenced? Take away their guns so they cannot then become an insurgence?

Or do they walk away from the precipice? Do they say "you know, it's time for us to negotiate in good faith?"

If they go the first path? It will be war. Liberals have armed themselves. Libertarians are watching and some are concerned - and should you see Republicans start to out-and-out disenfranchise people, take away guns, take away rights, then most Libertarians will be out there defending minorities and fighting a government that will turn on them next. And we may very well end up with the armed forces turning on a legally elected President and government and say "Enough." Or they may side with the oppressors.

No doubt while this happens, China and Russia will take full advantage of the disruption caused in America. They will unleash their cyberweapons to shut down huge portions of America and seize territories close to them and hope when America opens its eyes to the outside world, it will be wearied enough and bloodied enough from its own conflicts to say "heck with it" and let the new world order stand.

But I am a cynic. I see and expect the worse. And even then I can end up surprised... nor for the better.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin,

So the "real 21st century" begins a year late, just as the Cubs won the World Series a year late (relative to "Back to the Future II")? Looks like this could be the Trump Century.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "Amending the Constitution takes 2/3 of the Senate and 3/4 of the states, both of which would require the very states whose influence depends on the Electoral College to help remove it."

Hence linking this to the 16th Amendment, and the payment of income taxes. I am fully aware that every 'red' state in the country will laugh at such a demand. They will not laugh at tax defiance (at least, not by anyone who lacks an army of lawyers to make their tax structuring 'legitimate'). If the financial flows from the fed are cut, thousands of 'local empires' - Republican 'make-work' programs benefiting Republican cronies in red states and blue - will fold.

The way a small group of volunteers can defeat an army of paid stooges: by disrupting the payments, 'stooges' revert to being patriots once more.

"many of those state governments are controlled by Republicans."
Indeed. Once they are forced to raise taxes to cover shortfalls that result from 'blue states' that refuse to subsidize them anymore, the Republican governors will fall - as will the local businesses that own them.

"President Obama can't just change this by decree."
No. This needs to be the work of hundreds, then thousands, then tens of thousands, and eventually millions. This isn't the sort of change that can materialize from the top.

LarryHart said...

Alfred, turn your eyes off if you wish for a "Dune" reference.

In that novel, Baron Harkonnen puts his vile nephew, Beast Rabban, into power over the people of Arrakis, knowing that in order to make their spice quota, Rabban will have to impose such draconian hardship on the populace that they will be pushed to the breaking point.

At which time, the other nephew, Feyd-Rautha, will be brought in as a savior, beloved by the people of Arrakis for saving them from Rabban.

Is that what is happening to us now? And if Donald Trump is Beast Rabban, who is being groomed for the Feyd-Rautha role--the Republican "savior" of women and minorities and workers and such?

Susan Watson said...

@Robert has his own heart in the 'right' place about the need for out-reach to the heartland, but I finally had to give up my own efforts in that direction after decades of involvement in Alberta Conservative politics. I had failed to reach the river and finally decided to let someone else go out there and not catch trout.

Good luck to you and all, but there are a whole lot of stubborn old men who are not going to change their minds about joining the modern world, nor have they come up with any reasons for me to agree with their philosophy of outrage over betrayed 'entitlements'. The young people may just have to wait them out. Sorry.

occam's comic said...

I am going to really miss Leonard Cohen.
His music helped the toughest time in my life.
this stanza in particular


I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

LarryHart said...

@Susan Watson,

Before I reached your last sentence, I was going to suggest that the old codgers would soon die out and good riddance. I say that even though I am one of them--the sooner we are out of your way, the better.

As a kid at the very tail end of the baby boom, I used to think boomers would change the world. I didn't realize how right that prediction would be for exactly the wrong reasons.

Good luck keeping the flame of America alive. My daughter will need fellow Americans like you long after I am gone. Listen to "Hamilton" and be inspired.:)

Susan Watson said...

After all, isn't that how evolution works? Individuals don't change, populations abandon the corpses and move on.

Susan Watson said...

Re the loss of Leonard Cohen: Back in the seventies my mother's quilting group was sitting (quilting) at our house and one of the older ladies asked if anyone else was attracted to that Tom Selleck fellow? Someone replied, oh he's ok, but that Leonard Cohen... Everyone together (about a dozen older ladies) paused their needles, 'oh yes!' and sighed with longing.

Jumper said...

Sometimes the individual changes and drags the DNA along.

Jonathan Sills said...

Well, Tacitus, I don't know how many California Republicans might be brought out by eliminating the EC - but I do know a large number of Democrats here in Washington who didn't bother to vote because they figured our electoral votes were in the bag for Clinton. (Well, except Satiacum's, but Bob Jr and his family are a special case in many regards.) That's how we almost got Bill Bryant as Governor (although judging from his ads, he was actually running for King of Seattle - he seemed to think that traffic jams in Seattle were the only and proper concern of the state's governor, and that he could simply decree better traffic would happen even though there's no more room to build freeways in that city).

If they didn't know for sure that this was a "blue" state, more Dems might actually get out and vote in our elections here.

Donzelion, the fraud charge is civil - but the rape of an underage girl is a felony. Sadly, Trump's supporters issued so many death threats against a frightened fifteen-year-old that she's gone back into hiding, meaning that the charges have been dropped again (but can still be brought in the future; we've got a while before the Statute of Limitations kicks in). Still and all, it's hard for me to imagine how a man convicted of defrauding citizens can possibly have the cred to lead anyone anywhere. (But I've been wrong before. I couldn't imagine how someone could be elected as our President while being openly backed by the KKK and the government of Russia either, but here we are.)

matthew said...

Good advice:
http://www2.nybooks.com/daily/s3/nov/10/trump-election-autocracy-rules-for-survival.html

Susan Watson said...

or this advice
http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/11/how_to_preserve_the_ideals_of_liberal_democracy_in_the_face_of_a_trump_presidency.html?wpisrc=burger_bar

donzelion said...

Jonathan: "the fraud charge is civil - but the rape of an underage girl is a felony."

The only charge I know of is civil - it can only become a felony charge when a prosecutor brings it. Statutory rape is both a felony and a tort; when a prosecutor declines to take a case, then an individual can still bring their own civil claim.

That said, we lawyers are organizing our asses off. I'll turn back to that, though will hold out hope that Dr. Brin or someone else here either has some deep thoughts on what to do with police body cam policy, or knows someone else who does - since this is a project a friend and I will be working on by ourselves otherwise.

Jeff B. said...

Rob H.,
But Wright is correct that in order to heal this divide, Democrats are going to have to pull out the Blue Dogs and start building roads to rural America once more.

I think I've posted on here several times- this to me is one of the Democrats' biggest failings of the past decade or two. No involvement, no effort, no outreach, no sympathy the hinterlands, none, zero, zip, zilch, nada. In this light it is no wonder the in turn displayed no attraction to these same hinter-folk.

Even if their votes support a racist, you can't just dismiss the result as "they're just racists." Pardons to Paul SB, but perhaps our schools haven't taught civics and logic well enough- in their way of thinking, it's easier to excuse someone's racist, sexist comments and actions because they've become convinced that he's at least more on their side than the candidate identified with the establishment and elite that they (perhaps correctly) see as despising them.

I confess that I feel a bit of the same irritation about the "coastism" that pervades party and cultural establishments. But I hope that I can see clearly enough past that to analyze policies and actions to see which candidates are really decent, and which are not.

Jim Wright takes it a bit further, though- he posits that it might just be in our national interest for both parties to reach out to the hinters, not just the Dems, to turn the country purple. Interesting food for thought- I think possibly unreachable until we somehow burst the Republican insular alternate news reality bubble, but a goal to strive for.

Robert said...

I saw an interesting article on Facebook which basically showed that while a Trump voter might not be racist? He or she empowered it.

Impact > Intent.

Note: Second Person You at work here, not personally directed. This is a summation of what was said.

When you vote a racist into power and your vote enables racism, misogyny, and xenophobia, your actions have enabled it at the highest levels of federal government no matter WHY you voted for Trump. You have to own this. You can't escape it because you are upset people are calling you names. In voting for Trump, you have enabled racism, misogyny, and xenophobia. And there are plenty out there who have been empowered by Trump's rise to power to strike out freely at those who they believe are weaker than them and not protected by law (as Trump will gladly pardon them).

So basically? Trump voters, no matter what their reasoning? Bear a level of responsibility for the hate and fear that is happening... and for the horrible things that will come. And I fully expect the worse.

Rob H.

Jeff B. said...

Rob H.,

I want the Republican Party to notice they have woken a slumbering giant. I want them to see that they and their anti-minority activities have caused a lot of people to say "I will not accept this." I want them to notice how many youth and young voters have out-and-out REJECTED them because of their views and ideology which has been laid bare.

But the thing is, they now have such a hard-cast ideological lens (I don't think a bubble fully captures the hardness of it all) that at least some of their leadership truly, truly believe that the protesters are merely malcontents, or a rabble, or even paid agitators in hock to the media.

Likewise, I saw the same (or a similar) piece to the one you reference re: enabling racism (Scalzi?) While some of it is certainly true, many Trump voters don't see it that way. Trump was the lesser of two evils, and they've been so programmed into hating everything about Hillary and the Clintons that a racist misogynist out-of-touch billionaire truly does seem the better choice, despite the flaws. When someone's response to everything is "but Clinton's worse" then they'll never accept responsibility for enabling racism.

Deuxglass said...

donzelion,

Sorry if I am not impressed that you argued a point on television. I too have done the same but most of all I have seen and personally known too many Bozos sprouting nonsense but in a professional way on TV to take that as a proof of wisdom and knowledge.

You said “Why not? Printing presses and typewriters also served us well for decades, centuries even, but you're typing on the web. Obviously there's no inherent advantage to something because it is 'old.”

We are not talking about a piece of equipment or software here. We are talking about our political system and I do not equate it with a with this year’s new model Lexis or Facebook’s latest upgrade. This is very serious business. You ask why Wyoming weighted vote is 4 times that of New Yorkers and I reply why North Virginia receives 10 times less federal research dollars per capita than New York? Populous states have by far the advantage in technology, finance and government dollar sand you are saying that is not enough. You want even more. It looks to me that the populous states want it all now. You sound exactly like the oligarchs. You never have enough power. Can't you leave a bit for the others? The song by the Starship “We Built this City” is running through my head now.

In my opinion your answer is erroneous because you didn’t ask the right question. The problem isn’t that the EC came up with a clear electoral majority even though the popular vote was very slightly in favor of Clinton. The EC just did what it was supposed to do and that is to establish a clear outcome for the whole of the country in a very close election. The real question and I am surprised you missed it is why in 2000 and in 2016 the elections ended up being so close. It is a rare phenomenon and you prefer to shoot the messenger because you don’t like the message.

When it was announced that Trump had been elected I was of course very downcast but joy came when my oldest daughter called me up just after to tell me that I was going to be a grandparent for the first time. The paradox is that it was one of my worst days and one of my best days.

Deuxglass said...

Excuse the typo

Tacitus2 said...

Deuxglass

Congratulations!

Tacitus

J R R Hartley said...

Wikileaks is one of the few organs of information to actually try and work toward the possibility of informed consent. What do they get for their trouble? 'Sources' say they're a Russian bogey. Citation: The daily beast. Utterly, laughably false and yet uttered without irony from the high prince of transparency. I have a real problem with that level of self delusion.

What are you really about guys?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Guys

I'm not an American but it seems to me that Trump is not as bad as somebody like Jeb would have been because he would have bought completely into the GOP idiocy

But in order to take advantage of that sliver of light the Dems must now fully accept that politics have CHANGED for the next few years

Trump is NOT an "honest politician" - his history says that we will NOT "stay bought"
Because of that he can be persuaded to act in sensible non GOP ways,

He reacts well to people(men)he thinks are at the top of their trees - Obama and Bill Clinton can now talk to him as "equals" - and he will absolutely love that!
I suspect people like Elon Musk could also persuade him

What the Dems need to do NOW is to try and systematically undercut the GOP in reaching out to the basically insecure person that is now president elect

Robert said...

Why do less populous states feel they should get a greater percentage of tax dollars sent back to the state than the states where the money comes from? I don't have the URL of this, but there was an excellent map which showed in three-dimensional terms where the population was... and the money. And the primary money-making areas are areas that are liberal. This may also be because this is where all the people are.

It could thus be figured that corporate taxes and income taxes and the like are gathered from Blue States and not proportionally given back to the states that collected them. How is that fair? Why should New York State pay for infrastructure out West?

And why should Western States get to tell people in New York State how they are allowed to live when it is the money from New York State and other liberal areas that actually provide funding for so many services, subsidies, and the like?

So you say "it's not fair to disenfranchise small states by eliminating the Electoral College" then it should also not be fair to split money that way. Obviously each state should get a proportion of tax dollars back as to what they provided. If this means poor states have no money? Well, they're the ones who are saying they have an electoral right to tell everyone else how to live.

Rob H.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi J R R Hartley
"Wikileaks is one of the few organs of information to actually try and work toward the possibility of informed consent"

That is absolutely hilarious as the Wikileaks leader is holed up in an embassy because he didn't understand what consent was in his sexual life!!

Deuxglass said...

Tactitus2,

Thanks! It is a strange feeling and I wonder where did all the time go. It went by so fast.

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

I like John Robb's take on this election: a successful open source insurgency against an entrenched and out-of-touch establishment:

http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2016/11/open-source-insurgencies-and-the-future-of-the-united-states.html

His Tahrir Square scenario sounds pretty plausible too, considering the reaction we're already seeing from militant elements of the blue team. I guess some people only accept democracy when things go their way. Wouldn't it be funny if the blue enclaves try to secede from the red heartland this time? See what I mean about history having a sense of humor?

Zepp Jamieson said...

The problem with Trump isn't his policies (some of which are actually fairly benign). The problem is his temperament and character. He has a long history of fraud and deceit (the list of "Trump scandals" is easily twenty times the length of Clinton's largely imaginary ones) he doesn't mind using racism and bigotry to gain support, and when he isn't simply lying, he's contradicting himself.

matthew said...

Newt is talking about bringing back the HVAC
http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/14/politics/newt-gingrich-house-un-american-activities-committee/index.html

matthew said...

HUAC. Damn auto correct

Paul SB said...

Matthew,

I was going to say, is he complaining about the A/C in the Capitol Building? No, he's doing a little McCarthy emulation.

I don't get the whole small states vs. big states thing. It sounds like an antiquated solution to the speed of communication available back in the 18th Century. Shouldn't democracy represent the people in aggregate (with protections for the rights of minorities, a necessary compromise to prevent a tyranny of the majority)? Absolute population number, regardless of state of residence, should be the deciding factor. States, after all, are nothing but arbitrary boundaries drawn up in the distant past. Most Americans are Americans first and Virginians or Texans or Wyomites after (except in old Heinlein novels).

Jeff B. said...

Some interesting cogitations similar to mine on the need to find some way to reach the working class and the midlands:

1st, Robert Reich:

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/11/robert-reich-explains-why-the-white-working-class-abandoned-the-democratic-party/

But they’ve done nothing to change the vicious cycle of wealth and power that has rigged the economy for the benefit of those at the top, and undermined the working class. In some respects, Democrats have been complicit in it.

Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ardently pushed for free trade agreements, for example, without providing the millions of blue-collar workers who thereby lost their jobs any means of getting new ones that paid at least as well.

They also stood by as corporations hammered trade unions, the backbone of the white working class. Clinton and Obama failed to reform labor laws to impose meaningful penalties on companies that violated them, or enable workers to form unions with a simple up-or-down votes.


2nd, Glenn Greenwald:

https://theintercept.com/2016/11/09/democrats-trump-and-the-ongoing-dangerous-refusal-to-learn-the-lesson-of-brexit/

While elite circles gorged themselves on globalism, free trade, Wall Street casino gambling, and endless wars (wars that enriched the perpetrators and sent the poorest and most marginalized to bear all their burdens), they completely ignored the victims of their gluttony, except when those victims piped up a bit too much — when they caused a ruckus — and were then scornfully condemned as troglodytes who were the deserved losers in the glorious, global game of meritocracy.

That message was heard loud and clear. The institutions and elite factions that have spent years mocking, maligning, and pillaging large portions of the population — all while compiling their own long record of failure and corruption and destruction — are now shocked that their dictates and decrees go unheeded.


A lot to think about there. I don't agree with all of it- Greenwald in particular pushes the point too far- but there is much truth, too.

Jeff B. said...

Both, BTW, cited and discussed extensively by P.Z. Myers on his blog:

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2016/11/10/what-happened-2/

Jeff B. said...

Back to the electoral college:it might well have outlived its usefulness, but as others have explained, we're not getting there except thru a long, hard road- it's more a goal than an immediate plan. To get there we have to have a long term strategy, effective shorter-term tactics, and effective leadership.

In a nation of 300M+ citizens, party leadership on both sides falls too often into "we have to solve this, and then spread the word to the lower ranks". It's long past due time for the lower echelons, the ward and county and state organizations, to start having significant input into strategies and tactics and leadership. We need effective leaders, who listen and communicate.

And we need plans that vary from place to place depending on local culture, on outreach and community participation. Detach from the power brokers and fundraisers and big donors, and start building a citizens' party, and you'll have a tool for meeting the Tea Party and anything the Republicans build on their own terms.

Jumper said...

Liberal programs such as rural electrification should be scrutinized by the new HUAC, then, according to the new theories.

LarryHart said...

Deuxglass:

When it was announced that Trump had been elected I was of course very downcast but joy came when my oldest daughter called me up just after to tell me that I was going to be a grandparent for the first time. The paradox is that it was one of my worst days and one of my best days.

It sounds crass to make this comparison, but I'll do it anyway--I felt that way when the Cubs won the World Series and then this disaterous election took place within one week.

Having a new child in your life is a happy experience. It also forces you to care more about the long-term damage Trump might do to the world your grandchild has to live in. In my darkest thoughts, I've wished that I hadn't married or reproduced because then I'd be hostage-immune to corporations and insurance companies. However, in the final analysis, I can't un-love the people I do care about.


Jeff B. said...

One last possible paranoid pondering re: Russian interference in this election. I think they might've slipped a bit on the latest effort. Call this the "Ronnie Soak" Theory (thank you, Terry Pratchett).

Russia benefits most (in their eyes) if their "enemy", the U.S., is in internal turmoil. A chaotic, riven U.S. will pay less close attention to Russian doings in Europe, and therefore is beneficial.

Enter the prime patsy, a gullible, naive presidential candidate, with previous business dealings in Russia, who admires Putin's strongman leadership, and actually says so before the press. What could be easier than reaching out to his campaign privately, but not quite privately enough that certain Internet geniuses would actually miss the tells.

It's documented, the press duly reports it... and then, as soon as the election is done, have a diplomat casually announce that of course Russia communicated with the Trump campaign throughout the election cycle.

In a normal campaign year, with a more typical candidate, the 1st revelation would've torpedoed the campaign, or at least caused massive outrage and tumult and chaos.

In a normal election, such admission of potentially treasonous activity by the winner would have caused massive disorder and chaos.

If this little demi-hypothesis is true, then they misjudged the chaos Trump's campaign already caused by the time the internet revelation was announced; it caused barely a stir in the background, ground-state chaos. And then they misjudged at least the timing of the 2nd diplomatic announcement- much of the nation including the major media that the news barely registered a brief headline.

Had they played it right, it could have caused much, much greater upheaval.

That's Kaos with a K, thank you.

Jeff B. said...

And yes, it's more likely that the internet thing was a fluke, some technical echo or glitch.

And the Russian diplomat might've been lying, of course. But couldn't even that be taken as a measure to sow Kaos?

But I can see that paranoia, and raise it: what if Trump's staff actually reached out first to Russia themselves, playing right into Putin's plan while compromising independence and security?

Paul SB said...

Jeff,

You know this line is going to get you a lecture, right?

"Pardons to Paul SB, but perhaps our schools haven't taught civics and logic well enough."

I could suggest you walk for a day in a teacher's shoes before being too critical of the schools' performance. Teachers are one of those rare professions that is both a knowledge and a caring profession, like nursing, but it is overworked, underpaid, blamed for nearly everything that goes wrong in society, and has nowhere near as much power as people think it has (like politics).

As a science teacher I don't teach civics, though I try to teach logic, as much as I can squeeze it in around the curriculum I am required to teach. The real problem, though, is that most people who are not trained in education assume that children learn by merely listening to their teachers tell them stuff, passively absorbing knowledge like a sponge soaks up water. Nothing could be further from the truth, and every teacher knows that you can lead a student to knowledge but you can't make them think.

I forget who it was who pointed out that people who know about confirmation bias are just as likely to fall into it as people who have never heard of it (and I should thank whoever it was, but my Dory brain isn't helping me out here). Brains are complicated things that are capable of quite convoluted acrobatics to accomplish the elevation of ego. Every teacher I have ever met sees the same things: huge numbers of bright children who won't even try to succeed in school. For many racism is their excuse. Da man won't let them get ahead, so why bother trying? They are cool just because of the color of their skin. But the Caucasian kids are just as lazy bums as the rest and they don't have that excuse. They just say that smart people are lame, nerds and not them. So the schools can try to teach anything, and by the time kids have gotten into middle school, most have developed such a negative identity complex that only a handful will come out of it with any understanding of what they were taught - and that presumes the administration actually allows teachers to use proven methods rather than micromanaging.

Ultimately the schools are just symptoms of a sick society. Children go into them weighed down by huge cultural baggage, baggage that affects the teachers, admin and parents as well. I have some ideas about how to improve things, but fixing the schools isn't going to fix society. Both have to be done together - and we just took a big step in the wrong direction. As long as the haves have so much more than the have-nots, and insist on rubbing it in their faces in it, no school reform is going to motivate the masses to try to think more logically. That takes effort, and effort is not rewarded unless you are born with as much money and influence as the people who run for office or shout profanities at each other in corporate boardrooms.

Paul SB said...

Jeff,

On a completely different topic, which came first, Ronnie Soak, or the Pink Floyd album? Not that spelling Chaos with a K was too big an imaginative stretch, I'm just wondering if there might have been some creative cross-pollination. I don't actually remember the Floyd album or if it contains any of the symbolism Pratchett used in "Thief of Time."

raito said...

Too much for one post.
Let's start today with where I agree with our host.

I agree that a big attack is coming. What I hope is that it's done by the pros, which may sound awful. But a targeted attack isn't as likely to take everything down with it as some poorly thought out attack. I don't think our enemies are quiet ready for that just yet. There's more mischief to be done by siphoning and using information that cutting it off entirely. I think it would be far more effective to make joe public mistrust the system (a system he doesn't really understand) than to kill it off.

But I think we diverge there. The DDOS of a couple weeks ago was definitely noticed by those who could actually do something about it. But I certainly agree that it wasn't well-publicized.

I think our host's Proposal will not succeed for many reasons. And not just because it is very unlikely to be implemented.

The first problem is pretty mundane: who determines 'reputable'?

The second is: download where? Sure, general purpose computers are easy enough to deal with, even if a single zero-day will take the whole concept down anyway. But there's increasingly all those smaller network-connected devices (the so-called Internet of Things) that, even if they were willing, don't have the space for anything other than what they have. And the industry has done a too-good job of attempting to take away the consumer's ability to update anything. One place might be at the router, the usual fist stop inside a consumer's demesne. But installing third-party stuff on a home router is not a pretty operation for most people. OK, let's suppose that the firmware is 'reputable', and that the router can accept new firmware. Leaving aside that any firmware download is suspect, it would be far easier to push that firmware than leave it up to the consumer. Besides, it's increasingly likely that the service agreement doesn't allow the consumer to update anything anyway.

But why would every podunk device needs to do this anyway? Filter out that junk at the ISP.

I could go on about that plan for quite a while, but you'd probably find it boring. I'll only touch on one more human aspect of it. Who verifies the twice a year? If it's the consumer, (and even assuming you could identify personally every person owning a device in a million-bot net conclusively), you would then have for every tort case of this sort a million defendants, and potentially a million documents attempting to show their good faith effort. And if there was some other body overseeing this twice a year thing? Oh, geez... And it would not stop the attacks. It would stop some, sure.

raito said...


Personally, I more prefer the route taken in the latest DARPA Cyber Grand Challenge. Autonomous detection and patching of running binaries. I've seen first-hand some of that software technology, and it's pretty impressive stuff. It still won't work on that thing that orders stuff from Amazon, but will work well on anything approaching a normal desktop or server. This making it useful to the places where traffic congregates, rather than attempting to push that protection to the ends of the network.

Putting it on the backbones does, however, raise some sticky issues of neutrality and privacy, though. There's no easy answers any more, if there ever were.

If I were to attempt something of this sort, I might try to deal with companies who willfully refuse to update their products, but even that has troubles, such as hardware too old for support. And I can't say that I'd be fond of any measure that requires junking old stuff just because. There would be some unintended economic consequences, for sure.

My preference would be to filter it out at the ISP after working out the privacy and neutrality issues. But even then, someone will likely hack an ISP.

Part of what you pay for any new technology is its misuse.

As for passwords, I think I might take Lorrie Cranor's opinion over Morey Haber and Amy Webb. Mathematically, if your password can be forced in a short amount of time, changing it doesn't make much difference. It might help if it was known, but being held in reserve. But even then, it's only a matter of timing.

TCB said...

Related to the idea of sousveillance:

New essay at Aeon: Natural Police

https://aeon.co/essays/game-theory-s-cure-for-corruption-make-us-all-cops

In a nutshell: get rid of power inequalities and give everyone some power to punish corruption, and it no longer pays to cheat.

Paul SB said...

New article from Scientific American Mind on the neuroscience of rage. I thought it was a fairly simple explanation, without any of the kind of neurological details like Dr. Brin brought up in "Existence" - but it would be good for people who don't know much about how brains work.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/trump-s-victory-and-the-neuroscience-of-rage/

Paul451 said...

Rob H,
"How is that fair? Why should New York State pay for infrastructure out West?"

Indeed. And likewise why should a rich man be expected to pay a higher tax rate to support the welfare of the poor?

Paul451 said...

Zepp Jamieson,
"Yeah, well, by and large [Trump supporters] aren't much on self-awareness."

Neither are the protesters. Burning the American flag? What kind of self-absorbed lefty fuckwit doesn't see how that looks? You've just had an election that Trump made about national identity - "real" Americans vs Them (from liberals to illegals). To respond by burning the most potent symbol of your own national identity in such a futile gesture of hurt-baby whining, does nothing more than show ordinary Americans that Trump was right. The protesters really aren't "true" Americans.

Nothing helps Trumps ascendency like that image of those pathetic losers burning the American flag.

I'm from a different country, it is quite literally #notmyflag, and yet I utterly despise these stupid stupid people.

"The demonstrations [...] are just meant to send a message: "Don't blow us off. You don't have a mandate to absolute rule." "

They don't though. They are merely a demonstration of impotent rage, reinforcing the sense of the unstoppability of Trump, like every failed protest and smear against Trump during the campaign. All they've done is entrench Trump's power.

"Not My President!" they scream.

"No he isn't," gleam the Trumpets, triumphantly, "He's ours."

Paul451 said...

Rob H,
"Democrats will continue to lose to Republicans if they fail to reach out to rural America. They need to find a way to touch base there, to let rural America know it is not forgotten, it is not abandoned. That their way of life is as important as the urban way of life is."

As Larry said, it's not "rural". But more than that, it's got nothing to do with their "way of life". To borrow a riff from David, the cultural obsession is not the disease, it is a symptom of the disease.

The disease is the decades of economic theft.

The Real Per-Capita US GDP is higher than at any point in US history. The US is an insanely rich country. Real Per-Capita Industrial Output is higher than at any point in US history. Even manufacturing is rapidly increasing, nearly back to the 2005, per-GFC levels, which were the highest in US history. Unlike the typical rhetoric, such as Trump's, manufacturing in the US wasn't "devastated" by NAFTA, nor by Chinese imports.

So why are people hurting? Why is the rhetoric so appealing?

Because Real Median Household Income has been stagnant for approaching 40 years. For the previous 40 years it tended to march in lockstep with the growth in the GDP. Now that connection is broken. Likewise, wages make up a smaller proportion of the US GDP than at any other time in US history. Corporate income makes up a larger share than at any point in history. Corporate taxes, OTOH, make up a record smallest share of Federal tax revenue; wages make up an increasing share. The entire recovery from the GFC has been confined to the far north-east and south-west. The economy in the entire rest of the country has not recovered in over a decade.

There is a very real disconnect between the "American Economy" and the economy of ordinary Americans.

And none of this is new to Democrats and liberals. They read it in NYT, they blog about it, they quote it too each other, they share cutesy graphs on social media. But it's just words, slogans, they do not think about the people behind those numbers, instead, in every word and deed, they just demonstrate contempt for the people left behind.

Of the two people on that stage during the election, only one of them was saying "Your pain is real, I hear you and I believe you", and this is why it happened, and these are the people responsible, and this is what I... no, what we... are going to do to change it.

And that's who won.

Paul451 said...

Rob H,
"He stated Sanders would likewise have lost because of this. I'm not sure, "

As has been pointed out by others, the "Blue Wall" states that Clinton lost, she also lost to Sanders. Sanders' message appealed to the very people who fled Clinton.

During the primary, the criticism of Sanders by too-clever Dem insiders and their media apologists was that Sanders "only wins amongst rural white men". (Or as they are now known, Republicans.) Why? Because Sanders' whole spiel was to explain the failure of the US economy for ordinary Americans. He said those words, "Your pain is real". He offered a different path forward from the populist hatred offered by Trump, but he started with those words.

The response by those Dem insiders and their media idiots since the election shows that they still don't understand why they lost.

I just saw a headline: "Why the Trump victory is the last desperate gasp of white bigotry".

Or Paul SB's "Looking at recent times and recent events, I'm not sure even half of people qualify as decent."

Or LarryHart "The old codgers would soon die out and good riddance."

Or Donzelion's war on the EC.

{sigh}

Paul451 said...

Me: "it's not "rural" "

It also wasn't just white men.

Clinton polled worse with Latinos than Obama. Not fewer voting, a smaller percentage of those who voted.

Against Trump, Clinton couldn't even maintain the Latino vote.

Clinton lost amongst non-college educated woman.

Against Trump, Clinton couldn't win amongst women.

But the too-clever media have their new buzzword: Whitelash.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Kevin Drum has an article
The Selling of America

But he misses the point

The "salesman" has no discernible loyalty to his old paymasters

So the "progressives" should grit their teeth get in there and pay HIM to do some of the things that America really needs

How much do you think it would cost to bribe our new leader to INCREASE the top tax rate? - as long as HE makes out like a bandit he doesn't care about the other rich bastards

It may not even be that expensive if Bill and Obama are asking him as an equal - as an insecure man who inherited his wealth being accepted by men like that would be beyond price

He has what he wants - why should he care what the GOP wants??

The progressives have one chance - and the window will close very soon

Paul451 said...

Me: "It's got nothing to do with their "way of life". "


- "Oh, that looks nice."
= "Mmm, yes it is, here have some."
- "No I couldn't..."
= "Go on, there's plenty. Help yourself."


A prosperous nation tends towards liberalism, progressiveness, tolerance. Gender equality, racial equality, path to citizenship, marriage equality, etc... They are not things that take-away from what white heterosexual men have... unless...

Have you ever seen a prisoner eating? You know, maximum security, hard time. They hunker down, arms around the tray, utensils held in fists, eating fast without taking their eyes off the people around them, in a constant fight-or-flight state. Mine. My food. If you touch my food, if you come near me, so help me, I will fucking kill you.

When you feel safe, in abundance, you don't hesitate to share with those around you. Hell, you want to share good things, it makes you feel good (and it seems to be an innate part of wealth-display.)

When you feel unsafe, like no-one can be trusted, like you are going backwards, you guard what little you have left with the mindless savagery of a trapped animal. Or a prisoner doing hard-time, surrounded by constant threat. There's no rationality behind the reaction, it's angry and ugly and stupid, but it's natural and inevitable, and very very real.

The bigotry is not the disease, it is a symptom of the disease. The disease is the decades of economic betrayal.

It's The Economy Stupid.

So why are those cultural issues so important to them?

Because it's all they have left.

Obama seemed to understand this, but even he talked about them, rather than to them. Hillary Clinton didn't seem to see them at all. And her apologists just treated them like shit that had gotten on their $600 shoes.

After the 1992 election, but before the Lewinsky scandal, lazy Bill Clinton impersonators had a go-to phrase, in Clinton's distinctive Southern drawl: "I feel your pain".

The promise of the Reagan era had faltered and collapsed. In spite of giving the Republicans 12 years in office, the dream seemed further away than ever.

In the midst of that, Bill Clinton went around the country and met with groups of voters and held their hands, looked them in the eye and said, "I feel your pain."

Okay, no he didn't. But that was the feeling of the campaign, captured by that one line.

And people came to listen to him, and then they voted for him. (Twice.)

It's The Economy Stupid.

Duncan Cairncross said...

I agree totally with Paul451

That was one of the main reasons I didn't stay in the USA

Back in 2001 I could see that the working man had been shafted - and I expected him to eventually realize that and then there would trouble

locumranch said...


After just one political loss, the progressive Union Kepi-wearing contingent is ready & willing to scrap the Union, the Electoral College, the 12th Amendment and the US Constitution in order to ensure their futurological dominance, using an illogical tactic known as 'destroying the village to save it'.

Backwards thinking, this is, analogous to arguing that a civilisation that desires to remain dominant & avoid irrelevancy is "future-oriented". Living in the past (and/or 'ending history'), this is, because a futurological orientation is most concerned with what-comes-after the present civilisation becomes superfluous.

These are logical fallacies:

(1) That Inequality-based Merit can coexist with Equality;
(2) That Race-based Identity Politics can eliminate Racism; and
(3) That Secrecy-based Security can survive Transparency.*


Best
______
*The working man got shafted the moment he believed this self-contradictory shite.

Treebeard said...

Yeah Locum, we've suddenly entered the timeline where the Confederacy wins, and the crazy blue rebs try to take down the Union. A non-skeptical person would say that we've witnessed an incredible act of thaumaturgy, or a divine intervention.

Rocky Persaud said...

Bill Maher tonight ended his show placing a blue hat on his head. Thought for a second it was a Union kepi.

Tony Fisk said...

There is a very real disconnect between the "American Economy" and the economy of ordinary Americans.

True. It's something that's been long overdue for a fix. Indeed, if I recall the analyses of the time correctly, it was at the root of the GFC.

... and yet, the lower wage brackets predominately voted Clinton.

Paul SB said...

Paul 451,

Pretty much everything you have written up here are points I have made in this forum over the years, though not all at once, in one coherent message (and obviously not the bit about burning the flag, since that is a recent development, and one I consider equally shameful, and yet another example of pendular motion).

In the last 40 years the rich have gotten much, much richer and the average Joe/Josephine - relative to the value of money/goods today - has gotten much more poor. When I graduated from high school, the minimum wage was $3.15/hour, and while you could not live comfortably on that, you could survive long enough to get through college so you could then get a better-paying job. If you didn't go the college route, you had a long and hard road trying to climb up from zero-skill, dime-a-dozen easily let go nobody to someone valuable enough to not be in constant terror of your job. Today you can't make it. Too many things have changed to make life much harder for the average person.

But who wrought those changes? The Reagan Administration. Who keeps reinforcing those changes, and supporting them with horseshoe propagandas? The Republicans. It has been blatantly obvious for decades now that the Republican Party is not the party of Lincoln, or even of the first Roosevelt, it is the party of the rich. Any vote for the Republicans is a vote for the rich, and a vote to screw the majority of the people.

Now Trump was never really a Republican. He is a self-serving con artist, and the number of Republican leaders who turned against him makes that clear. As a good con artist, he knows how to manipulate people. The economic issues are very similar to what they were in Germany in 1932 (much more acute, really), and he used very much the same tactics that Hitler used in 1932. Are we supposed to expect any better results than what Hitler got?

Yes, it's the Economy, Stupid. And no, I don't have a whole lot of confidence in the Democrats. I never have. But given the choice of continuing as we have been, with the economy slowly grinding us down but at least we have legal rights, or going with a strong man dictator who will take us down the path of fascism, I would much rather gamble on someone in the Dumbocratic Party figuring it out and making those reforms to the economy to get us back on track without resorting to scapegoating, pogroms, secret police raids against anyone who disagrees with Der F├╝hrer and so forth.

Paul SB said...

My endorsement of Clinton has never been more than lukewarm - the lesser evil approach. But no matter who the Democrats throw out, there are always enough Republicans in the legislature to block everything they try to do. It is obvious that the Repugnant Party is not willing to serve the nation, they put party before country, and have been doing that long before the Hastert Rule. Hastert just came out and said what the Gingrich Congress started. Blaming the Democrats for partisan gridlock and electing the party responsible for creating that gridlock isn't going to solve our financial woes. The super rich having been laughing it up to the bank since the Reagan Administration, the Democrats have mostly been fighting the wrong battles with the wrong ideas. Neither party is good for the country, but people are just too stupid to look past the propaganda, too unwilling to try anything different, too fatalistic to really go for a different party than our big two, and yes, bigotry appeals a lot more to conservatives than to liberals. Most of the people who voted Trump are not bigots, but it only takes a small minority of deplorables to dominate a majority that is unwilling to make an effort. History has shown this time and time again, whether it's Hitler scapegoating the Jews or Cromwell going after the Catholics.

The big question is, how much will Trump do to placate those bigots who elected him? Will he try to get an amendment to the Constitution to repeal the 19th? I doubt it. Will he get judges appointed to benches who always favor corporations over the rights of citizens? I have no doubt of that.

And will the Democrats learn the lesson, or will they just keep trying to pander to the same base? Will we be plunged into another world war to pump up the economy and improve Trump's approval rating? W. almost took us down that road with Iraq, and even not going full steam ahead and damn the terrorists, look at the result? How far will Trump go? The Republicans won't try to stop him. The Democrats will, and they will cry outrage. But if Trump gets the roads running, like Hitler did, the people will ignore the protests of scapegoated minorities, while gorging themselves on eels (reference to "The Tin Drum").

Zepp Jamieson said...

Here I thought Jeff wasn't doing anything more than riffing off the old Don Adams series, "Get Smart."
"Chief, he used the old 'I am too crazy to be president' ploy!"

Jumper said...

Years ago great swaths of the Appalachian mountains were dying from acid rain, found to be caused by sulfur from coal power plants. There was no other solution but to stop it. So the regulations went into effect. However, Eastern coal would be completely out of the picture and cleaner Western coal would be cheaper to deal with.

So the federal government in order to save some jobs mandated scrubbers and its continued use and the now uneconomical coal was saved. It was still uneconomical.

Eastern coal would have died years ago otherwise.

But they still hate the government.

This is an example of what stupid people don't know. We know how they voted.

Flypusher said...

I hope Dr. Brin has something good in the works for the next post, because I am not feeling very hopeful right now. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since this nightmare unfolded. Mike Pence is an anti-science no-nothing, and he is going to have a lot of power. I fear for scientific research, and I fear for the damage to this planet that will likely ramp up with the EPA functionally gutted.

As for the protests; the “Dump Trump” angle is useless. IF the Electoral College was actually functioning as the Founders intended, as a mechanism to weed out an unfit person, then they would vote for Clinton. But they won’t; it’s a rubber stamp. However, there is a better theme for protest. Trump has promised to do many things that are morally objectionable. So it’s better base your protests on:

You have promised to/said you support: 1) War crimes (torture/murder/resource theft), 2) sinking another nation’s naval vessel for the grave offensive of an obscene gesture 3) proliferation of nuclear weapons 4) Pulling out of NATO 5) Building a wall on the Southern border 6) Discrimination against people based on their religion 7) Weakening the 1st Amendment (changes in libel laws) 8) Weakening the 4th Amendment (bring back “stop & frisk”) 9) Rounding up and deporting people who have came in illegally to work, but demanding no sanction/ punishment of those who hire under the table(which is why I call racism on this one) 10) Encouraged hate groups and you have not sufficiently distanced yourself from them…..
(Plenty more for others to fill in)

These things are morally unacceptable to us. As long as you promote this agenda, we will NOT reach out to you, we will not work with you, and we will oppose you by all possible legal means.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Paul451:
" Burning the American flag?"
What percentage of demonstators are doing that? A dozen out of a million, perhaps? Are you seriously trying to depict anyone who sees Trump as a disaster as a flag-burner?
"Nothing helps Trumps ascendency like that image of those pathetic losers burning the American flag."
Yeah, apparently you are. I'm not burning any flags, and you're talking to me. Keep it honest.
"They are merely a demonstration of impotent rage, reinforcing the sense of the unstoppability of Trump, like every failed protest and smear against Trump during the campaign. All they've done is entrench Trump's power."
Republicans love to chant "Resistance is Futile" every time they win or steal and election, but you might note the demonstrations seem to be having an effect on the Trumpster: over the past 24 hours he's backed on his vow to repeal Obamacare on day one, Pence yesterday dismissed the talk of a wall as "a campaign device".

Zepp Jamieson said...

Excuse me. It wasn't Pence who called the Wall a "campaign device." It was Newt Gingrich.

LarryHart said...

@Paul451:

During the primary, the criticism of Sanders by too-clever Dem insiders and their media apologists was that Sanders "only wins amongst rural white men". (Or as they are now known, Republicans.)


I thought the criticism of Sanders was that he only wins among young voters. My own cynical view on that was that Hillary appeals to voters who actually vote, whereas Sanders appeals to those who don't vote. In a contest of the two, guess who is going to win.

Seems that Trump ended up being the one to appeal to voters who actually vote.


Me: "it's not "rural" "

It also wasn't just white men.

Clinton polled worse with Latinos than Obama. Not fewer voting, a smaller percentage of those who voted.

Against Trump, Clinton couldn't even maintain the Latino vote.

Clinton lost amongst non-college educated woman.

Against Trump, Clinton couldn't win amongst women.


I admit that I had no idea how weak a candidate Hillary would be with all of those groups. Had I known that, I would have more fervently wished Bernie had won the nomination instead of being somewhat glad that Hillary did. But as I actually voted for Bernie, nothing real would have been changed by that personal clairvoyance.

That also means I'm not too concerned about what Bernie might have done. First of all, it's purely a hypothetical exercise. But even without that--who's to say we're more accurate at predicting that scenario than the real one?

But really--Trump got more of the Latino vote than Romney did? Trump won with groups of women? I suppose this shouldn't have been as surprising as it was after Trump won his primary with evangelicals, and after his strongest Republican detractors like Ben Carson and Chris Christie fell shamelessly in line. But I'm in a kind of shock at the moment, realizing that I really don't have a clue what motivates other Americans.

The one thing I feel objectively that American voters are factually wrong about is that the notion of wanting "change" is directed solely at the presidency. The policies that they are against are exactly the kind of thing you do get when you put Republicans in charge. The Republican congress is more responsible for the plight of the working class than the president is. By giving Republicans the entirety of the federal government, those voters are rewarding the behavior that they ostensibly voted against, while also insuring that the policies they ostensibly voted against will continue. As I said previously, I don't begrudge them their right to rue the day, but I believe they will do so.

Flypusher said...

.." but you might note the demonstrations seem to be having an effect on the Trumpster: over the past 24 hours he's backed on his vow to repeal Obamacare on day one, Pence yesterday dismissed the talk of a wall as "a campaign device".

Excuse me. It wasn't Pence who called the Wall a "campaign device." It was Newt Gingrich."- Zepp Jamieson

I'm hearing Internet gossip on other forums that some of the 4chan crowd is livid. But I'm not going there to confirm it. Thing is, they can pander to the dregs of the base, or they can back off the extreme promises to placate the protestors. But they can't have both.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

The "salesman" has no discernible loyalty to his old paymasters

So the "progressives" should grit their teeth get in there and pay HIM to do some of the things that America really needs

How much do you think it would cost to bribe our new leader to INCREASE the top tax rate? - as long as HE makes out like a bandit he doesn't care about the other rich bastards

It may not even be that expensive if Bill and Obama are asking him as an equal - as an insecure man who inherited his wealth being accepted by men like that would be beyond price

He has what he wants - why should he care what the GOP wants??

The progressives have one chance - and the window will close very soon


Now, this I agree with wholeheartedly. Trump takes things personally. The Democrats opposed him because that what opposing parties do, but for the Republican who opposed him even after he was the nominee--I'd suspect he's got some payback in mind.

Before the election, I humorously suggested that Trump might put Barack Obama on the Supreme Court just to get back at Ryan and McConnell. I doubt he'd actually go that far, but I wouldn't be surprised for him to be a bull in a china shop to his own party as well as to the Democrats.

Flypusher said...

"But really--Trump got more of the Latino vote than Romney did? Trump won with groups of women? I suppose this shouldn't have been as surprising as it was after Trump won his primary with evangelicals, and after his strongest Republican detractors like Ben Carson and Chris Christie fell shamelessly in line. But I'm in a kind of shock at the moment, realizing that I really don't have a clue what motivates other Americans."- LarryHart

Chris Ladd compared it to the Milgram experiment:

"Would you be willing to torture a test subject for no reason beyond the request of an apparent authority figure? Would you be willing to hand power to a dangerous demagogue who has promised to persecute minority groups simply to maintain compliance with a party identity or tribal norm? Milgram’s work suggests we should expect only about two-thirds of Republicans to comply with partisan pressures and support an outrageously unqualified and dangerous nominee. Current polling suggests that Milgram’s results may have been too optimistic. An overwhelming majority of Republicans will press a button to unleash mayhem on racial minorities just as willingly as Milgram’s subjects turned a dial to electrocute a test subject."


http://politicalorphans.com/can-it-happen-here/

It's depressing as hell. Trump is everything an actual practicing Christian should condemn, but so many fell into line for the promise of power. I've yet to speak to the conservative/religious members of my family about this election, because I've been very carefully considering how to broach this without rancor. It's hard because I despise people like Trump so much. I am so hoping that they voted for Johnson or wrote someone else in or abstained. I will be especially disappointed if my parents voted for Trump, because every despicable thing that Trump has said/ done flies in the face of how I was raised. I do not want to have to ask them the question "If I had lied and cheated and bullied people the way Trump has, would you be proud of me?" But my conscience would torment me if they revealed that they voted Trump and I didn't say it. My one glimmer of hope is that my mother has been a Glenn Beck fan and he finally saw the light about Trump and all the vitriol he (Beck) spewed about Obama. Maybe she listened to him. How crazy is it that I'm looking to Beck for hope?

Wish me luck tomorrow.

LarryHart said...

Flypusher:

Chris Ladd compared it to the Milgram experiment:

...
"Current polling suggests that Milgram’s results may have been too optimistic. An overwhelming majority of Republicans will press a button to unleash mayhem on racial minorities just as willingly as Milgram’s subjects turned a dial to electrocute a test subject."


I've heard of that experiment, and I get all that, but what we saw in this election would more correspond to the victim in the experiment pressing the button over and over again, giving himself the shocks.

Paul SB said...

This is kind of funny, but there are some misconceptions here about the Milgram Experiment. 64 of Milgram's test subjects were willing to turn the dial over into the red zone, but they were not the majority. Most of his subjects, in fact, refused to do so and walked out of the room. But the press focused on those 64 (as did Peter Gabriel) because it was shocking that anyone would go that far.

As to the victim giving himself shocks, a couple years ago there was an experiment I read about in which people were given electric shocks and asked to rate their willingness to experience those shocks again. Most people checked the "Would pay money not to experience those shocks again." Then they were left alone in the room with nothing but a chair, the electric shock device, and nothing else. Many of these subjects began giving themselves shocks - that they had just said they would pay money not to feel again - because they were bored. Tell me how you humans are logical beings endowed with great powers of observation and wisdom... Some humans are.

You can find references to this experiment easily enough. Here's Scientific American's "60 Second Science" take on it:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/guys-prefer-electric-shocks-to-boredom/

The BBC version goes into more detail:
http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-28130690

Paul SB said...

Flypusher,

Good luck, but tread carefully. It is dangerous to open wounds so recent they haven't even begun healing. Do the deep breath thing, and avoid rolling eyes at all costs.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

As to the victim giving himself shocks, a couple years ago there was an experiment I read about in which people were given electric shocks and asked to rate their willingness to experience those shocks again. Most people checked the "Would pay money not to experience those shocks again." Then they were left alone in the room with nothing but a chair, the electric shock device, and nothing else. Many of these subjects began giving themselves shocks - that they had just said they would pay money not to feel again - because they were bored.


I can actually see myself doing that. :)

The rationale would be along these lines--I just checked the box that essentially said "I'm such a coward I would do anything to avoid that situation". Is it really that bad as all that? As I am in complete control--I can stop at any time or any intensity--let's try that again and see if I'm not actually more resilient than I thought.

David Brin said...

Okay. Okay. Here it is. For the weekend.

Enjoy?

onward

onward

Lorraine said...

"Among my list of Proposals for the new administration, that I'll issue in January, is to tell all citizens that their computers and printers etc may serve as botnet hosts, and that every person will share in tort liability for any major Net Disaster, unless they have at least tried, twice a year, to download a reputable anti-malware program."

Does GNU/Linux count as an anti-malware program?

finaly job said...

way to a bigger handle, each of which reduce overall labor time. different labour saving capabilities had been achieved by means of simplifying the upkeep and meeting of the AS series via decreasing the force required to insert and remove the tubes as much as 30% much less for insertion and up to 20% much less for removal and through setting the tube connection in a higher function. other modifications to the AS series include the creation of colour product identity, which minimises the chance of mistakes.For more ==== >>>>>> http://musclegainfast.com/max-testo-xl/