Monday, December 12, 2016

“Spoils” and Trump's worst sin, spitting on the defeated.

Amid this Twilight Zone episode we’re living through, what’s my personal grievance? I had hoped by now to swing my attention fully back to writing science fiction, rather than living it.

Oh, there were chillingly accurate SF’nal forecasts. Not Orwell (not yet.) But I’ve mentioned Robert Heinlein’s prophesy of America enduring “crazy years” and a fundamentalist tyrant “Nehemiah Scudder.” Even more depressingly apropos is Ray Bradbury’s “The Sound of Thunder.” Watch a short film version here.

Some have sent emails commenting on how my “Holnists” in The Postman resonate with the burgeoning alt-right. Others ask: is this the end of Pax Americana, when a foreign power controls one - and possibly all three branches - of U.S. government?  Further - some ask – what about my conjecture that centuries only start exhibiting their main ‘theme’ a decade and a half in? Oh, please, let 2016 not represent this century’s theme.  

But my “classic” getting the most attention - “Honoring the Losing Majority” - asked a simple question: 
     
When a competitor or candidate wins on a technicality. Does he owe any consideration to the majority who voted against him? 

== What gracious (and smart) winners do. ==

That 2004 essay reads bizarrely apropos for today, including ruminations on the Electoral College. Swap a few words - “Trump” and “Bannon” for “Rove” and “Bush” - and the syndrome looks chillingly familiar.

But let’s start by reprising what I suggested that a mature and honorable person might do, if he or she won office, over the objections of a majority – or even a large minority. Imagine such a President Elect making the following pledge:

"I promise to ask my honorable opponent to pick a panel of Americans who will have control over my appointment calendar one afternoon per month. And I expect my opponent to serve on that panel. On that afternoon, I shall meet with -- and listen to -- any individuals or delegations that panel may choose. Millions of Americans will then know that I do not live in a tower of ideological isolation. I will answer questions and hear dissenting points of view."
Such a pledge should hold, even if you win by a landslide! It would cost a candidate or president little to give this much to the losing 40%. (Or today’s nearly 60%) There’s no obligation to act on what the delegations say, only to be accessible, listening occasionally to more than one ideology. More than one brain trust of cloned advisors.
Indeed, the legitimacy of any administration will be enhanced if we see the president receive articulate, passionate emissaries, representing diverse opinions and walks of life. So. If that is clearly what a mature and honorable leader would do, what are the prospects of this coming true?
== Pretty much zero ==

Clearly, Donald Trump’s answer is a loud and angry “no!” To the victor go the spoils of conquest: spolia opima — an ancient doctrine of ruthlessly finishing off your opponents, seizing all their goods and treating them as enemies to be crushed, lest they ever rise again.

The so-called Spoils System outraged Americans in the post Civil War era, till at last reformers instituted a protected Civil Service, safe from wild swings in the political caste. Then followed a century of consensus — that domestic peace and simple fairness call for the losing side to see its interests at least mentioned in the halls of power. Even if you won in a landslide, as Lyndon Johnson did, in 1964, and Ronald Reagan in 1984, you’re not supposed to rub the noses of 40% of American voters in their loss.

Hence, under Roosevelt, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Clinton and Obama, the Secretaries of Commerce were businessmen and women. Entrepreneurial programs were staffed with entrepreneurial people and the Small Business Administration by small businessfolk. Agriculture Department heads have generally spent a lifetime helping farmers. The Council of Economic Advisers had samplings of all doctrines. Under Eisenhower and (yes) Nixon, the Labor Secretary was a union member — even if accused by the left of being a tepid compromiser. The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (founded by Nixon) was someone who cared about the environment, and science agencies were headed by reputable scientists.

This reversed a bit under Reagan, especially re: the EPA. But it was both Bushes who began savaging the principle, for example appointing to run the IRS and SEC folks specifically charged with undermining the auditing of banks, Wall Street firms and the rich. Saudi influence was masked by State Department and intelligence officials, and so on. This would have been bad enough, if George W. Bush, hadn’t won office, in 2000, under questionable circumstances, clearly opposed by a majority of those who voted.  I wrote “Honoring the Losing Majority” at that point, in protest to immature and dishonorable behavior.

Still, Bush at least spoke a few words about consensus and accommodation, appointing cabinet officials who gave some appearance of professionalism, before proceeding to violate the principle. His enemies-lists were discreet and he did not dare to threaten (as DT has) the Civil Service, universities and the Officer Corps. (Eventualities that have stunned even the Drudge Report.) While he lied incessantly, for the most part, W did not screech and howl.

== The cult of personal pique ==

That principle - of showing at least some respect for the losing minority - should be part of any decent society. And not just in the Executive Branch.  Among the many “reform suggestions” I’ve proposed – fruitlessly - over the years, was for the majority in Congress to give the minority party a fair number of their own, discretionary subpoenas and the ability to call some days of hearings. (You in today's majority will want this power someday, when you drop into the minority again.) But one thing at a time.

How urgent is the principle today, when technicalities (like the distribution of electoral votes, foreign meddling and a high likelihood of “rigging”) have just disenfranchised not a minority, or a small majority, as in Gore-Bush 2000, but a very large majority of voters? Would not an adult - even a partisan one - want to offer olive branches, like my once-a-month meeting agenda, or possibly even granting the loser some say in cabinet picks? 

Not, apparently, Donald Trump, whose thin-skinned vengeance fetishism has combined with almost slavish currying of favor by the ruling axis of power on the right. From the Koch/Murdoch/Adelson/Goldman oligarchy to the Russo-Saudi oilocracy, Trump’s cabinet choices show none of the populist autonomy that his braggadocio seemed to portend. Except for appointing the former head of World Wrestling — something that was pure, refreshing and his old self. The Kochs and Putin had no role in that one, I betcha. Nor did they command the most delicious of last week's theatricals -- the utter public humiliation, over frogs legs, of Mitt Romney. 

If Democrats understood judo, they’d go limp, right now, and let Trump’s opposition come from the Bushite faction. The man is volcanically reactive! So long as the loudest enmity comes from his left, he will reflexively scuttle right.

But we aren’t here today to dissect this fellow’s personal or psychological motives.  The topic is “Honoring the Losing Majority.” And it is a sad commentary on our times that few have even raised the subject.  

Go give the original essay a look. Swap a few names and words.  Then ask yourself: “Are liberals so much better?" Sure, they have on their side all the scientists and folks who actually know stuff.  And soon - if Trump proceeds on-trajectory - nearly all members of the intelligence and law communities, as well as most of the United States military Officer Corps.  Yet, have you seen any fresh ideas from the Democratic establishment?

The dullard-insipidly unimaginative campaign run by Hillary Clinton’s people - along with the generally clueless reactions by most liberal pundits - reveals just how desperately the Union needs to rediscover agility, just as it had to do in the 1860s, when faced by an all-too similar confederacy, aiming to re-institute feudalism.

As happened in 1861 and 1862 -- and in 1941 -- expect disasters before, as past Americans did, we figure this out. And stand up.

=====

=

=

Lagniappe:

“You know, comrades," says Stalin, "that I think in regard to this: I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this — who will count the votes, and how."

(Note: while there is no proof Stalin said this, it is entirely consistent with his tenure - under Lenin - as Communist Party First Secretary.)

144 comments:

Robert said...

Interestingly enough, some members of the Electoral College are requesting security clearance so they can see the evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to get Trump elected. This is actually an excellent idea and should be done - and in fact might be something allowed in the future - seeing the entire purpose of the Electoral College is to ensure someone like Trump is not elected.

All Electors should be required to sign a Security Clearance agreement and then an intelligence agent be on hand to observe and assist with going over the information on hand. This would serve to create a database showing who actually did their job as an Elector so that when Trump gets into office and things go south, if we can reclaim control over this nation we can then try those Electors who failed to do their duty by reading this Classified Information can be tried for Treason.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Yipe, Rob H do you have links for this???

Birrell Walsh said...

Dr Brin -

Your attention is respectfully drawn to Hamilton's comments about the purposes of the Electoral College. One - he mentioned it! - was to keep foreign powers from capturing the presidency. It is in Federalist Papers #68, about paragraph 5. (http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed68.asp)

Thanks for your work.

Birrell Walsh

Tom Crowl said...

Forgive repeating this citation I put near the end of the previous post... but its worth repeating for any interested.

From Evonomics:

How Economists Duped Us into Attacking Capitalism Instead of Parasitic Rent-Seeking
http://evonomics.com/economists-duped-attacking-capitalism/

I don't believe he fully develops the concept but the seeds are there (in my opinion).

(In a sense central banks and their links to governments could be thought of as to some extent substituting for the concept of "land" in his piece... which requires more justification than I"m putting here but I'll be thinking about it)

David S said...

Clinton Campaign Wants Intel Briefings for Electoral College Members
source NBC News: http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/clinton-campaign-wants-intel-briefings-electoral-college-members-n695006

Here is their request:
https://extranewsfeed.com/bipartisan-electors-ask-james-clapper-release-facts-on-outside-interference-in-u-s-election-c1a3d11d5b7b#.qyo6eseur

LarryHart said...

Gallows humor yes, but...

@Birell Walsh,

We can only hope that enough electors are fans of "Hamilton".

Robert said...

And here's a link from Politico on the Electoral College request.

http://www.politico.com/story/2016/12/electors-intelligence-briefing-trump-russia-232498

Rob H.

Unknown said...

“Are liberals so much better?" Most certainly not. That snide spolia opima, sore-winner treatment is exactly what Bernie supporters received at the hands of Clintonites. If the Democrats had extended a hand to us after the primaries the outcome may have been very different.

Birrell Walsh said...

@LarryHart -

Well, I'd give a Pence or two to know.

Birrell

Robert said...

@Unknown - you mean watching all your dreams and rights get pulled into oblivion from a Far Right Zealot who claims widespread voter fraud to try and legitimize his fraudulent victory? Was your protest by not voting for Clinton truly worth it? Will you be able to sleep comfortably at night knowing that at least you showed that trumped up Hillary that she didn't get away with it?

The only reason I wouldn't vote for Hillary was my state was so safe there was zero chance of it going to Trump. And it didn't.

Rob H.

Smurphs said...

Greetings from Pennsyltucky!

Rob H. said:
The only reason I wouldn't vote for Hillary was my state was so safe there was zero chance of it going to Trump. And it didn't.

You might want to be more careful next time. There was "zero chance" of my state going for Trump. Yet it did.

LarryHart said...

@Birell Walsh,

Heh. Do you refer to:

Local merchants deny us equipment, assistance,
They only take British money, so Sing a Song of Sixpence.


George Washington's lines which follow are instructive as well:

Alex, listen. There’s only one way for us to win this.
Provoke outrage, outright.
Don’t engage, strike by night.
Remain relentless ‘til their troops take flight

(Hamilton: ) Make it impossible to justify the cost of the fight.

Outrun, outlast.
Hit ‘em quick. Get out fast.
Stay alive until this horror show is past.
We’re gonna fly a lot of flags half-mast.

Tom Crowl said...

Excellent analysis here:

The Roots Of The Democratic Debacle
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-roots-of-the-democratic-debacle_us_584ec983e4b04c8e2bb0a779

Russell Osterlund said...

The Office of President of the United States has always had a tradition of respect granted to it by foreign governments, elected officials and the American voting public (even following bitter contests). After Richard Nixon's disgraceful actions and exit brought the office to new lows, Gerald Ford earned his place in history by restoring the honor and dignity of the office to its rightful place. With Trump's unbalanced desire to become the "anti-President", I think it would be proper to withdraw all status symbols accorded the Office of the President and treat him in kind with the respect he earns. No more "Hail to the Chief" overtures, no rising to one's feet with an introduction, no special treatment for family members, nothing that says this is the leader of our country - hit where it hurts a spot-light loving narcissist. We can always hope for a "Gerry Ford" of the future to polish a shiny, new image after he departs.

Ilithi Dragon said...

The things I want to say, but can't...
} : = 8 /

On a subject I can talk about, is anyone here familiar with the Portsmouth, NH area? I need to do something to get out of this hotel room I'm stuck in, but I don't really have any idea what there is to do around here (and I'm terrible at spontaneously going out and finding things to do, especially when it's cold and possibly snowing). I'll also be looking for an apartment in this area sometime within the next six months, if anyone has any suggestions or advice there.


And a point to ponder... Every time I've flipped on the TV, I'm reminded why I never bother paying for TV myself anymore. SyFy was nothing but B-grade monster or horror movies (with the occasional, years-old blockbuster monster or horror movie), and other, main-stream TV shows were full of sci-fi flicks and constantly advertising their major, sci-fi/fantasy hit series while I was flipping through channels.

Lessons learned:
1. Cable TV sucks. Most programming is generic, regurgitated crap, and anything worth watching can be streamed online for equal or less money a month.

2. SyFy has become a mockery of what it was, and basically isn't much more than a bad parody of what Ye Olde mainstream culture thought of Sci-Fi culture and fans, where as major mainstream outlets are now providing mid- to high-quality sci-fi and fantasy flicks as a matter of course.

3. 98% of the time I'm looking for something to watch, there still isn't anything worth watching on.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Tom Crow: I love your distinction between capitalism and parasitic rent-taking behaviour. I've used a circuitous route, explaining that I'm a Keynesian who wants a mixed economy with regulated capitalism, but the description you furnished is both shorter and more clear.
I'm glad to see the Clinton campaign signing on to intel briefings for Electors. They've been remarkably docile in the aftermath of this election, offering only tepid support for the audit of votes that Stein fought so hard for (and lost in Republican courts). Even Mitch McConnell was more strident about demanding an investigation into our Putnik, Trump.
Former Rep Joe Walsh is a maniac and usually a moron,but even the blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut. He said today that Trumps was playing with treason.
Faux News is not carrying the story about the CIA report on Putin. There are vague stories about how Trump is deflecting spoil-sport efforts to overturn the election. Pravda, anyone?

LarryHart said...

@Ilithi Dragon:

Can't help with Portsmouth, but you're right about cable tv. My in-laws have like 800 channels, and there's still usually nothing on. And wasn't the whole point of renaming Sci-Fi to "SyFy" to distance itself from science?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Ilithi Dragon:

Yeah. Cable is blasted wasteland, and SyFy has long been an empty shell.
I wonder if Al Gore could be persuaded to back a REAL SF network if, say we promised that 20% of the programming would be CliFi?

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

I'm glad to see the Clinton campaign signing on to intel briefings for Electors. They've been remarkably docile in the aftermath of this election, offering only tepid support for the audit of votes that Stein fought so hard for (and lost in Republican courts).


On Thom Hartmann's show today, the subject was brought up that the Russians had likely hacked the RNC as well as the DNC, and that the reason the Republican e-mails haven't been leaked yet might be because they provide blackmail material. Given the way certain Republicans talk when they think they're in private, I find that plausible.

I also have to wonder whether some sort of blackmail isn't behind the Democrats quick acquiescence every time an election result is questionable.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

I wonder if Al Gore could be persuaded to back a REAL SF network...


Maybe if Al-Jaziera was going to buy it.

Zepp Jamieson said...

LarryHart:
I think blackmail is entirely possible, on both sides. Politics ain't beanbag at the best of times, and we're near the Dickensian opposite of that now.

Alfred Differ said...

@Catfish N. Cod: After assisting with the growth of a beautiful tree, the chief ants turn around and declare that they were the ones who gave up leaves to find the acorn in the first place. Since they found the acorn, they are 'acorn-holders', and the tree belongs solely to them

What’s to ponder? Just behead those ‘chief’ ants and water the tree of liberty. 8)

The trick to all this is to ensure your ants are motivated to transact with each other if you want an analogy with how humans do these things. Not all of us want shares in the tree up front because we might believe the acorn to be a dud. Take the money now, we say. Lottery players do something similar because they could up and die before the payout is complete and a host of other ‘reasons.’

Humans making individual choices can do amazing things collectively if we let them.

They are even more amazing when we plan for this freedom by educating them and keeping others off their backs. Rand’s error was to think human individuals were atomic in the social sense. We aren’t, but neither are we a collection of ant colonies.

David Brin said...

Hey Unknown... your nit-pickery over minutia excuses to hate HC was not accepted by Bernie or Elizabeth. Were they to meet you privately, Bernie would punch you in the face and Warren would kick you ion your nethers.

Moreover, you know this to be so, you effete poseur.

Alfred Differ said...

@TCB: I’m not as spooked by IP. I’ve witnessed how difficult it is to enclose as both the person creating it and the person trying to pry it loose. I’m with you in opposing such fences when owners intend to deprive us of its benefits, but I don’t mind someone getting rich off of it IF they are serving us in the manner of the market. Even without a copyright/patent time limit, bright people reverse engineer what they witness and then the riches leak away to the competition.

Rather than ants stealing trees, I encourage you to think of innovation as a three act play. If the first act, the innovators might get rich if their story appeals to an audience, but the knock-off writers are also attending so they can write something similar. In the second act, the audience might grow if all the writers make for interesting variations, but they won’t pay as much as the novelty fades. In the third act, the former audience members write and fantasize about their own variations and the original writer gets nothing from this fan fiction and looks like a cad if he tries. The original entertainment benefit is now distributed as wide as it will go and what innovation it brought is shared.

1) Three act plays can be still-born if they are lame. They fail an evolutionary test in the market.
2) They can die at the end of the first act if someone imposes anti-competition rules. Do that and few plays will be written because we will all be accusing each other of sampling.
3) They can die at the end of act two as well if the competitors collude. There are lots of tried and true ways to make this work as history shows.

The Bourgeois Deal requires of those who agree to it to let a play be staged and to let it play out with minimal interference from governing bodies and busy bodies. Do this and we get what McCloskey argues is the primary cause of the Great Enrichment that started among the Dutch, spread to the English and Scots, fanned back into Northern Europe, and then exploded in America.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Hey Unknown... your nit-pickery over minutia excuses to hate HC was not accepted by Bernie or Elizabeth.


No kidding! I was about to ask Un if he was happy with the way the election turned out--if punishing Hillary by electing a fascist thug was worth it. But Robert beat me to it. Robert who hates the Clintons more than anyone I've ever met, and he's calling out Bernie supporters who contributed to the election of Mr. I-have-a-good-brain. Because he gets it.

Alfred Differ said...

@TCB: As for too many people, I think you are mistaken.

Our most pressing problems largely stem from these needs:

The problem is factorable. Please examine it closely. The problem isn’t just that we need more food, water, houses, and fuel. The problem includes our processes for producing all these. Industrial efficiency and the turning of sinks into sources change the carrying capacity of the Earth. We’ve only just begun to consider the range of what is possible with efficiency and re-use. A few billion motivated minds could stupidly poison the planet, but they could also find ways to do better. We have a decent track record of improving things even while under pressure.

Further, most people alive today are not doing fusion research nor developing space elevators.

You are woefully mistaken if you think seven billion people exposed to the Bourgeois Deal won’t consider innovating AND marketing their ideas. Innovation happens anyway as a fundamental aspect of what we are. Marketing what we learn is the harder part, but it can be coaxed out of people of we grant them the dignity then deserve for trying. It is a combination of freedom to act and bourgeois dignity that caused our current wealth, so we should be trying to share that knowledge as widely as possible.

We need to get our numbers down. Look, I'm not suggesting rough goons should seize and sterilize all the undesirables. Nothing crazy like that. I just think there should be free condoms in all the church pews.

You are wasting your breath. A vast number of women on this planet already limit their family sizes. Condoms are useful in many other ways so go ahead and share them, but what did the trick was lowering the child mortality rate. Interesting things happen in a woman’s head when she begins to believe her babies will survive to have babies of their own.


Finally, I'll join you in stomping on Rand's sparks. When I was young, I thought it a little odd that it was guys who seemed to like her stuff the most. Now I know why. Some days I'm embarrassed to be a guy. 8)

Tony Fisk said...

Remember Keith Olbermann?

He seldom minced words, and certainly isn't doing so now!

Alfred Differ said...

Smurphs: If my zero chance state went for Trump, y'all would have much bigger problems than electing him. Perspective helps. 8)

What our Unknown poster is neglecting to mention is that many Democrats don't think of Sanders as a Democrat since he runs as an independent. Party identity matters to many. For them, Sanders was an invader.

Tacitus2 said...

Final Wisconsin recount report. Drum roll, please. The totals stayed about the same. Actally Donald Trump gained 131 votes. There does not seem to be any evidence of tampering.

Regards the Electors who wanted intel briefings. It is a group of ten. Sometimes described as bipartisan but in fact 9 democrats, led by Nancy Pelosi's daughter. And one republican who has already said he won't vote for Trump, following his own reasoning and/or concience.

I have been a bit undewhelmed by the "Russian hacking" meme. It seems to be trying to conflate two different things. I have no doubt that the Russians and many other players are constantly trying to get information. But if "hacking" is being used to imply that voting machines are being altered, there is to date zero evidence of this.

In fact ('scuse me, I have to get on my High Horse now) it looks to me as if the term "hacking" is in part being used in the way that old people who click on the wrong link use it. Podesta actually fell for a phishing scam and handed over his email account. And perhaps the Presidency at the same time. This is just......stupid. And I know it is not considered couth here in Contrary Brin to suggest that Hillary Clinton's private server was a security risk waiting to be hacked. But it was.

Now, the current line of reasoning that Putin wanted Trump to win runs something like this:

Lots of Democratic dirt was exposed.
Tools used to unearth some of it were of Eastern European make.
No Republican dirt to speak of was released.

That's pretty much it AFAIK.

The Democrats were clearly careless, criminally so in my opinion, with their cyber security.

The software tools used in the DNC hack, which did look to be a more professional job, had some Russian fingerprints on them, but as I understand it ALL the best hacking tools come from the Eastern Block. Serious hackers anywhere on earth would use them just as guerillas world wide favor the AK47 and woodworkers everywhere like Italian made tools.

It is not plausible that there is no RNC email that would be a saucy read. It is possible that the republicans took cyber security more seriously. More seriously than Podesta giving away his password? Oh, that is setting the bar so low an ant could not see under it.

Tacitus

Jumper said...

I see. Pizzagate is crazy but Clinton's supposed security violations are the god's honest truth with no slime or false narratives attached. Because honesty and concern.

Tom Crowl said...

I feel I must give poor Mr. Un a bit of a defense.

YES!!!!!! Clinton is better than Trump... much better.

And for what its worth I voted for neither (with the cowardly rationalization that as a Californian I was very, very confident it would make no difference to the electoral college result.)

My hope has been to pressure the Dems to move away from their current orientation... and that seemed the best strategy available for my particular situation

I have not been shy about my lack of enthusiasm for either candidate.

But if you see Trump as like taking Cyanide.... and Clinton as like being forced to take a spoonful of gasoline every day its hard to either one.

Now to many that may seem a false choice... is a Clinton presidency likely to be really fatal?

Bluntly I believe that unless the Dems becomes a force truly pulling wealth/power towards the bottom of that diamond distribution to counteract the forces pulling towards the top...

we're never going to get that diamond distribution.

In fact this failure to allow or maintain heat-from-the-bottom is a very old problem in civilizations.

The Democrats do not and have not pulled towards the bottom for a very long time... except in rhetoric.

P.S. This is not about Left/Right for me at least... its a simple belief that w/o better balance between economic classes we're going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg.

Tacitus2 said...

Jumper

Not sure if that is addressed to me. But Pizzagate is crazy. And Hillary Clinton did engage in "careless" handling of information. I think she was motivated by a desire to avoid FOI prying. And so she was "hoist by her own petard" as the Bard would put it.

Tacitus

MillenniumCrow said...

Tacitus,

I'm not a cyber expert, but I do a bit of reading on what's going on in that domain. I consider it professionally important to stay informed on new developments, and I also find it highly interesting despite my lack of a serious technical background. I posted a link several topics back, but I'll post it here again (please note, this was written before the election):

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

I can't speak to whether the Republicans have followed better security procedures. Certainly the Democrats appear to have been very sloppy. However, if I were a Russian decision maker looking to inflict the maximum possible amount of chaos on the American political system, I'd have targeted the Democrats before the election simply because Hillary seemed the most likely to win at the time. I'd have collected information on the Republicans as well, but I'd probably wait for a better opportunity to release it. As the authors put it:

"There are many possible scenarios for the future direction of Russian active measures. Additional damaging information may have been withheld from documented hacks of U.S. political actors, and as-yet undisclosed information — perhaps from a hack of Republican Party emails already suggested by some media reports— may emerge after the election regardless of who wins. Should Russia conduct such data dumps through Wikileaks, for instance, it would create an appearance of balance while also damaging the Republican Party, which almost certainly has at least as much embarrassing material as the DNC. Regardless of who wins, Russian operators might save particularly damaging information for release after the inauguration, when talk of impeachment could further diminish his or her influence in Washington and abroad."

I definitely think it's worth a read. It deals less with how Russian operatives obtain their information than about how they legitimize and distribute it. Regardless of whether or not any voting machines were directly hacked and regardless of if the result of the election is upheld, I believe that any evidence of Russian interference in our political or information systems needs to be widely publicized. Furthermore, if it's as widespread and damaging as the authors of this piece seem to believe it is, I think Russia needs to face some type of consequences (although I'm sure you can agree that what those might be and how they might be implemented are problematic to say the least).

Robert said...

Tacitus, the CIA itself has stated the Russian Government is involved. And they were pointing out that the Russian Government was hacking into American politics while trying to avoid which side before the election day. So this isn't brand new news... except for the fact that the CIA is stating "they got the RNC as well and they were trying to influence the election toward Trump."

Republican Senators want to investigate this. That does not sound like something that is inconsequential. And if Russia HAS meddled in our election to get Trump elected, is it not the duty of the Electoral College as dictated in the Federalist Papers to deny Russia that opportunity?

All you need is one Electoral College voter to toss in McCain or some other Republican and the rest to refuse Trump OR Clinton... and now you have the House of Representatives voting for President. As per the Constitution. And I half-suspect Trump is TRYING for this result. He is doing everything in his power to disqualify himself so he can remain his old self and capitalize on the outrage of all those people who voted for him... by having them buy his goods.

It's either that or a wig-wearing Adolf Hitler Wannabe is within inches of the White House. I would rather think Trump is trying hard to disqualify himself.

Rob H.

Rob H.

Tacitus2 said...

Robert
Meddling is certainly a better word than hacking. The CIA sources in the NYT article all seem to be off the record and vague. The FBI seems to disagree on the matter.
Remember, I am no Trump fan. In fact....I wrote in John McCain and Joe Lieberman.
But, reality check. The electorate has spoken. Unwisely but legitimately.
Tacitus

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

And I know it is not considered couth here in Contrary Brin to suggest that Hillary Clinton's private server was a security risk waiting to be hacked. But it was.


It was what? Hacked? Or "waiting to be hacked?" Because my understanding is that the DNC and government servers were obvious targets, and were hacked, but there's no evidence that Hillary's private server was. The famous e-mails were hacked off of cell-phones, right?

Podesta giving his password away would be a problem no matter what server it was on.

Now, the current line of reasoning that Putin wanted Trump to win runs something like this:

Lots of Democratic dirt was exposed.
Tools used to unearth some of it were of Eastern European make.
No Republican dirt to speak of was released.

That's pretty much it AFAIK.


Well, that and Trump's financial ties to Russia.

And 17 intelligence agencies' determinations.


It is not plausible that there is no RNC email that would be a saucy read.


And yet, the fact is that none have been released. I'm not saying this is conclusive, but you don't see that as evidence that Russia's motives are partisan in nature?


It is possible that the republicans took cyber security more seriously. More seriously than Podesta giving away his password?


More seriously than all of the financial and retail institutions which are routinely hacked? Again, I'm not claiming you're proven wrong, but we're talking about plausibility here. I find it more plausible that hackers were able to hack both parties if they wanted to, but chose to act in a way to harm Democrats specifically. You think it's more plausible that they tried equally to hack both parties, but just couldn't penetrate the GOP?

Tacitus2 said...

LarryH
I really don't know.
I do find it odd that the dished dirt was mostly D.
I am not convinced that there is some Putin-Trump bromance going on.
I do think that trying to overturn an election on this flimsly gauze would lead to a constitutional crisis. The electorate chose. Badly in my opinion. But you can't thow the result into some metaphorical dustbin of history. If the voters were in fact misled, it would hardly be the first time.
Tacitus

LarryHart said...

Tom Crowl:

But if you see Trump as like taking Cyanide.... and Clinton as like being forced to take a spoonful of gasoline every day its hard to either one.

Now to many that may seem a false choice... is a Clinton presidency likely to be really fatal?

Bluntly I believe that unless the Dems becomes a force truly pulling wealth/power towards the bottom of that diamond distribution to counteract the forces pulling towards the top...

we're never going to get that diamond distribution.

In fact this failure to allow or maintain heat-from-the-bottom is a very old problem in civilizations.

The Democrats do not and have not pulled towards the bottom for a very long time... except in rhetoric


Radio host Norman Goldman talks about taking the long view. The primary season showed that about 45% of the Democratic Party supported Bernie, while 55% or so supported Hillary. The left wing of the Democratic Party is not yet in charge, but it is growing. In time, your dream will come true--the Democrats will be Rooseveltian again.

Now, does it really not matter that Republicans will have a chance to destroy Social Security and Medicare, appoint Supreme Court justices, and possibly get us recklessly into wars before the Dems have a chance to conform to your wishes? Hillary would have done all those same things too, so there's no difference?

I hope you enjoy the next four years enough to make up for my misery, so it will at least be a cosmic balance.

shabaghk said...

Good evening folks,
Everyone seems to be needing something a bit more tangible concerning proof of Russia hacking the DNC and also hacking GOP talking heads (operatives?) take a look at an interview done by Wolfe Blitzer this evening. I'll try and post the link if it does not show it is up on CNN web page now. I guess what part of we watched them do it live would salt the crow best for D. Trump eh?

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2016/12/12/dmitri-alperovitch-intv-donald-trump-russia-hack-sot-tsr.cnn
Just wanted to say hi and I'll try and keep in touch
Shabaghk

Robert said...

Tacitus, consider this.

There is classified information that American intelligence agencies have on the Russian incidents that have not been released. Members of the Electoral College have requested that the Electoral College be given access to this information, and I think that is a good idea so that the College can work as it was intended to - so the best candidate is elected. Not the one who gamed the system best.

We, American citizens on the outside, are not privy to this information. It is classified. So we do not have sufficient information to base our opinions on as to the extent that Russia meddled in our election. We just have what few non-classified elements have been released.

So. How can we state that we shouldn't give the Electoral College access to classified information that we ourselves do not have access to? You are saying "don't bother because there's nothing there" but if it's classified... how would we know what's there or not?

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

I do find it odd that the dished dirt was mostly D.
I am not convinced that there is some Putin-Trump bromance going on.

I don't see how you can say that. You can argue that Trump's expressed admiration for Putin doesn't mean what opponents say it means for policy, but I don't see how you can deny that said admiration has in fact been expressed.

And Trump supporters right here on this list are also Putinophiles.


I do think that trying to overturn an election on this flimsly gauze would lead to a constitutional crisis.


Your sites are set too low. We're already in a constitutional crisis. And we would have been in a different one had Hillary won. In either case, approximately half of the electorate is not willing to accept the election results as legitimate. And in some sense, the fact that Candidate X didn't win is/would have been the proof that the election was rigged.


The electorate chose. Badly in my opinion. But you can't thow the result into some metaphorical dustbin of history.


By 3 million votes, the electorate only "chose" by a technicality. And if we're talking about "them's the rules", then them's also the rules that the Electoral College can just as easily decide to elect Hillary Clinton, Paul Ryan, Michael Moore, or you for the presidency.

It would be unprecedented, certainly. But in this election cycle, what has not been unprecedented.


If the voters were in fact misled, it would hardly be the first time.


If democracy dies to thunderous applause, it won't be the first time either.

Kal Kallevig said...

I have been and remain very upset about Trump, and his selections for cabinet have made that worse. But a couple of contrary points to most of what I see here about Russians.

1) The Russians have from their POV many valid reasons for opposing Hillary and the neocons that she was supporting.

emptywheel always has interesting and usually contrarian national security analysis:
Why Is CIA Avoiding the Conclusion that Putin Hacked Hillary to Retaliate for Its Covert Actions?

2) Not everything Trump is doing is crazy, although there are real risks.

Ian Welsh writes things I don't see most places and is worth a look.

The Trump China Showdown Aligns With Reality

dennisd said...

Let us not forget the FBI's unprecedented meddling in the election.

David Brin said...

Tacitus thanks. Though questions remain: were the recounts by hand, or just fed into the same machines? Why did the RNC roll over and allow the WI recounts while fighting like frantic dogs to prevent them in MI and PA?

Still, unlike a republican, I am willing to admit when I must reduce one of my narratives. Note this… I have always said that it is not in places where audits with paper ballots CAN happen that smart cheater WILL do it. The big cheats happen in places where there will never be such an audit. Where there are no paper ballots and especially in deep red distracts, where the GOP vote total can be pumped without anyone asking a single question.

As for your excuses for Russian interference? Yeesh. You prove what we all know, that republicans swiftly normalize the intolerable.

WHat you accomplish, by diving into minutia, is to ignore the forest. That the American right has dived into a mania of strongman-tyrant worship, with Putin at the top of the hunk-of-the-decade pinup list. And that he has very good reasons for preferring republicans, in general and Trump especially. And those reasons do not serve our interests, even remotely.

As do not the interests of the Kochs and Saudis, Adelson etc. And you know it. As you know that your president is a dizzyingly unstable, 5th grade bully, with a high feral canniness and the focused intelligence of a ferret.

In contrast, after 24 years of investigations and half a billion dollars, all you got is HC’s darned email server, which imitated a far more badly-handled tradition followed by Colin Powell, Dick Cheney and others? Without one culpable smoking gun? And you cannot bring yourself - even now, as she slinks away, never to be seen again - to admit that those utterly failed 24 years of investigations and half a billion dollars MEAN SOMETHING?

That the entire mjestic Focite pile of obsessions has always been donkey doo?

==
Kal Kallevig… one thing I shrugged over… DT talking to the President of Taiwan. If this “unstable and unpredictable” fellow wants to rattle the established protocols, fine. This is not something I’ll complain about. Moreover, for publicly humiliating Mitt Romney? I will forgive DT for that day’s hysterics. I got a grin outta that.

Slim Moldie said...

Rob

RE "He is doing everything in his power to disqualify himself so he can remain his old self and capitalize on the outrage of all those people who voted for him..."

This line of reasoning gives hope. But I don’t think he’d do it unless there’s big money in the end game. Here’s a bad joke along those lines. What do you think DT’s ransom would be? To return America? If every Clinton voter was willing to make a one-time payment of $100 they could settle for $6,239,133,500. Enough? If not what would be his number?

I was listening to NPR about the conundrum of the fake news stories and later this evening searching the bookshelf for fun stuff to read to my 7-year-old and made the connection to the adolescent sci-fi Tripods series by Sam Youd, aka John Christopher. When I read the books as a kid, I always thought the most far-fetched part (aside from the curious lack of women in the white mountains resistance) was how the invading aliens used the television to hypnotize the first wave of humans in their initial invasion, into becoming capped slaved incapable of thinking about science of wonder. (Sound familiar to anyone you know Dr. Brin?) Sadly, I’m afraid J. Christopher understood an exploitable truth about human nature. Not difficult to make parallels between a brain-washing alien invasion and social media featuring fantasy sold as news. Christopher’s capped are even described like some describe their Trumpkin relatives, nice childish folk who are perfectly fine living simply, free from the burden of questioning what’s going on at the adult table. Nobody has a cap welded to their skull yet...but I’m afraid logical arguments and facts alone aren’t going to move the dial in the way they think.

David Brin said...

Liberals are diametrically misunderstanding DT's picking a bunch of generals. They think it means he is pro-military and the military supports him. It actually will give him cover to go on a firing spree/

Tony Fisk said...

Trump's appointments to date appear intended to cause maximum damage to the departments. Both he and Bannon are on record as wanting to tear the system down and rebuilding. Quite the interregnumists.

@Slim. "The Coming of the Tripods" gives Christopher's full description of the invasion (in response to Brian Aldiss dissing the tripods as being ineffectual against modern, ie '60s, military capability).

It has a thin thread of plausibility which has had me muttering about red "caps"* and "hailing the Trumpod" ever since.

*the circuitry from the TV series would fit neatly inside a baseball cap as a brand sigil.

TCB said...

In six days the electors vote.

Directelection.org has a full list of their mailing addresses.

The site has printable labels and a form letter, if you want that.

We have six days to write a few electors a personal letter, or a bunch of them.

Paul SB said...

"Liberals are diametrically misunderstanding DT's picking a bunch of generals. They think it means he is pro-military and the military supports him. It actually will give him cover to go on a firing spree/"
- And we have all seen just how much he loves to say, "You're fired!"

Slim Moldie,
I doubt he would take a buy-out. He runs most of his businesses by branding and collecting royalties, but could he do that with a country? I don't think we'll become The United States of Trump, though an infrastructure bill might include a proviso that every new highway be named Trump Highway, every new bridge Trump Bridge, and all the tolls go to him, personally. But President of the United States is the biggest con ever, and he will sit on that one as long as he can, purely for the dopamine ego high it gives him.

raito said...

Dr. Brin,

The last radio report I heard said that in 58 out of 72 counties the recounts were completely by hand. One county that was using the machines to assist was Milwaukee, which went for Clinton. Hence Rep. Duffy's (probably lying) accusation of dragging feet).

As for fighting the recounts, lawsuits/injunctions/restraining orders were filed. The judge rejected the request. There was a hearing last Friday, and the judge refused to stop it. And it would be extremely difficult to stop, given WI's state law that says if it's paid for, it happens. I think that differences in state law are probably part of the reason for the different outcomes.

Robert K Blechman said...

Unknown said...

“Are liberals so much better?" Most certainly not. That snide spolia opima, sore-winner treatment is exactly what Bernie supporters received at the hands of Clintonites. If the Democrats had extended a hand to us after the primaries the outcome may have been very different."

I seem to remember Democrats allowing Bernie Sanders to run as a Democrat, of helping him get registered in some states where his own staff was too incompetent to file the proper paperwork on time, and in the end adopting most of his policies into the Democratic Platform. I think the hand was extended, and to his credit, after his defeat by nearly 3 million votes in the primaries, Bernie supported and campaigned vigorously for Hillary. Let's not rewrite history.

Robert said...

It is easier to blame Hillary than themselves.

Mind you, Hillary was a fool and engaged in behaviors after leaving the White House with her husband that I find... problematic. Many of her actions seemed to leave the impression of "I can do what I want because I'm Hillary Clinton" and I'm not talking criminal actions but the sheer stupidity of what the Clintons did with their Foundation, her speeches, and on down the line.

If I had been in Clinton's shoes and wanted to get elected as President, I would have been extremely cautious not to do anything that would raise flags. It would force the Republicans to make up bullshit (and they did anyway), but the bullshit Republicans raised only riled up their own base. By engaging in marginally ethical behavior, Hillary provided an impression among more ordinary voters of an elite who was out of touch with people and who thought herself above the law.

For instance, let's look at her servers. If she was truly worried about her e-mails being gone over, she should have not used e-mail or only used it to set up meetings. She could have used snail-mail letters (even using priority mail) with a bare-bones outline of more sensitive materials and then done everything verbally if she truly was concerned with secrecy.

Republicans could gripe all they want. They would have nothing that even marginally looks like proof. They would look like tinfoil-cap-conspiracy-theorists.

Instead, Hillary behaved in a manner that reinforced the Republican story against her. As such, Republicans were able to turn enough Independent voters against her so to ensure her loss in the general election.

That said? Hillary did adopt most of Sanders' policies. Sanders did advocate for her. And any Sanders supporter who voted for Trump instead either never intended on voting for Sanders... or is a blind fool who also holds responsibility for the shitstorm that is going to hit this nation and leave a trail of dead protesters and "domestic terrorists" who end up in a refilled Guantanamo Bay for daring to speak out against Trump.

Rob H.

Tom Crowl said...

LarryHart:

I appreciate your view and I well understand that you may be right.

I'd only like to correct what I believe may be a misconception.

RE: "I hope you enjoy the next four years enough to make up for my misery, so it will at least be a cosmic balance."

I don't take offense at this but it seems to suggest that I'm somehow insulated from the effects. I don't think so. W/o going into a lot of details...

I live on Social Security and a very small pension which totals $917/month. Since the loss of my home (and the granny unit which I built and in which I lived) which I will suggest was lost not because of good business but because the banks were protected by the govt and had no motive to avoid it where it could be avoided. (long story but not now)...

I get $50 a month in food stamps and am now dependent of H.U.D. supported housing. I am extremely vulnerable to even the slightest reduction of the nation's safety net.

I have every reason to be disgusted with how little was done by the political establishment to address that.... on a very personal level. It's also likely that under Clinton I might be somewhat more personally secure.

My focus is different. Whether you think agree or not... and I may well be wrong... believe there are and always have been very fundamental problems in currency and credit creation which extends beyond this nation, these Parties... and this time period.

Again, I hope you are correct... but I don't think its simply about going farther "left"(whatever that means)... but rather about addressing chronic imbalances in the forces acting within and between the classes within a civilization.

Tom Crowl said...

As for this election specifically...

Hillary Clinton blew the most winnable election in modern American history. And it's her own fault.
http://theweek.com/articles/664828/hillary-clinton-blew-most-winnable-election-modern-american-history-fault

MillenniumCrow said...

"Liberals are diametrically misunderstanding DT's picking a bunch of generals. They think it means he is pro-military and the military supports him. It actually will give him cover to go on a firing spree/"

Personally, I thought it was more about him 1) leaning on the public's respect for the military as an institution to prop up his administration and make him look more serious/respectable and 2) the fact that his national security Rolodex is rather small given that so many establishment Republicans working in that sector were #NeverTrump. That said, I can also see him doing what you describe. Even if he doesn't, he's already done much to damage civil-military relations.

I will say that I'm somewhat relieved by his pick of Gen Mattis for SECDEF. I don't think he was going to find anyone better among his inner circle (surely not Flynn) and picking an establishment Republican would have been problematic. I don't think he's an ideal candidate (Gen Mattis is known for being a combat commander, not a staff officer), but I trust his intelligence and integrity. We'll see whether or not Trump listens to him. I'll be watching him closely, if he should resign for cause we'll know that something's up.

LarryHart said...

@Tom Crowl:

When I said "I hope you enjoy the next four years enough to make up for my misery, so it will at least be a cosmic balance," I was mixing my snideness with magnanimity. Like, "I really hope the outcome seems worthwhile for you, because it doesn't for me."

That you understand you personally suffer under Trump, but feel his election to be the lesser of evils is...maybe somewhat noble. And I grant you that if you're going to upset the apple cart, the action has to be taken some time, so it might as well be now. My contention and my fear is that at this particular moment, with the Supreme Court in the balance, our country is particularly vulnerable to the kind of destruction that Republicans in general and Trump in particular will bring on. By the time the Democratic Party reforms itself, there might not be much Constitutional Democracy left for them to function in.

This is not directly about you now, but it still mystifies me why an electorate apparently hungry for change and skeptical of moneyed interests gave more power to the Republican congress. I understand that the president has been a Democrat for eight years, but the economic issues they seem to care about have been exacerbated by the obstructionist Republicans themselves. How it fixes anything to give near-absolute power to those same Republicans eludes me.

Deuxglass said...

Dr. Brin,

Clearly Trump is putting his people in to shake things up in the military. He has already said that many times. I would judge that he will attack the procurement process first because he can announce something quick that would please the voters such as putting in a five year wait period before an official that negotiated contracts could go to work for a contractor. Of course remaking the process is much more involved, lengthy and difficult than that but it fits nicely in a tweet. His F-35 tweet puzzled me at first because the development costs are behind us and it has turned out to be a damn fine airplane but it does fit into reforming the acquisition process narrative and offers lots of future tweetable material.

What worries me is the changes he would want to make to the war-making ability of the military and in that you really have to know what you are doing and I hope he is smart enough to know that in this area he should appoint good people and follow their advice and that's what I think he will do. As the canary in the coal mine, I look to the training budgets. If they are cut too much then things go to Hell down the road. That is what really scares military people more that if a particular weapon system is deployed late or not.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Democrats allowing Bernie Sanders to run as a Democrat"

Um, no. Democrats don't -allow- people to run. Anyone who is registered as a Democrat can run as such, and Bernie did so in March of last year prior to announcing. (Unfortunately, it also means Dems have some real reptiles crawling around under the party name, especially in the South.)
What made it all so strange was Bernie came closer to reflecting the values of the Democratic Party prior to the DLC takeover than Hillary or any of the other candidates did. You had a mob of centrists who had effectively neutered the party, which was reduced to this: people muttered about how awful it was that they allowed a real Democrat to run.

Deuxglass said...

Robert,

She did engage in marginally ethical behavior but I don’t think it was her intent. In my work I had to often ask our lawyers whether what we wanted to do was legal or not. Once they signed off and said it was legal I would feel absolved of responsibility because, well, it was legal. Whether it was ethical rarely came up. Clinton has a lawyer’s mind and I think that because what she did was legal it was necessarily ethical as well and she really didn’t see what the big deal was. She honestly thought that the answers given to her by her lawyers would settle the matter in the minds of the electorate but what they saw was that she was using “lawyers’ tricks” and thus was seen as untrustworthy. Basically she was pretty much clueless and had surrounded herself with the equally clueless and managed to lose an election that just about any other Democrat would have won. Wrong casting. What worries me is that it looks like she wants to make another run in four years. When will the DNC learn?

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Bernie came closer to reflecting the values of the Democratic Party prior to the DLC takeover than Hillary or any of the other candidates did. You had a mob of centrists who had effectively neutered the party,


Conditions changed, and the Democratic Party establishment seemed unable to cope. In that, they were more like conservatives, doing "what has always worked", at least for the past two decades. After three terms of Reagan (Bush I's election was essentially Reagan's third term), the Democratic Party seemed neutered until centrists like Bill Clinton triangulated to the right. The attitude seemed to be that the American people didn't like liberals, but wanted their center-right politicians to be nicer (kinder, gentler) than Republicans were. That attitude was probably more right than not at least until the wave elections of 2006 and 2008. This is exemplified in Hillary (and almost every other Democrat in congress) casting a vote for the Iraq War, feeling that the American public was on board with the war, and that a "nay" vote would be political suicide.

Bernie Sanders was visionary enough to see, even then, that there was room in American politics for progressivism. That room has increased over the intervening decade, and he was very close to prevailing this time around. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party was stuck in the old way of thinking. They were likely afraid (as I was) that Bernie was doomed in the general election because of the "socialist" label. They were also probably hell-bent on "the first woman president", which had been in the works for 16 years. It's hard to change horses so close to the finish line. And it probably didn't help that, because of physical age, neither Hillary nor Bernie (nor Biden) could afford to wait until next time.

Me, I'm most personally disappointed in Hillary's candidacy for the mediocre fight she was able to put up against Republican attacks. A reason I was happy with her as the nominee (despite voting for Bernie) was that I thought she was the best prepared candidate to resist attacks and to give it back. We saw that side of Hillary as recently as the 11-hour Benghazi session. What happened to that Hillary Clinton?

David Brin said...

Bah. Bernites had very little to complain about HC, in actual policy, and even less, after she ramped up to Bernie matching re minimum wage etc. They forget that she fought for a much more liberal health plan than Obamacare and would again, if she got a congress. Lacking a Congress, she'd have been as stymied as obama was and limited simply to administering well. Which Bill & Barack did.

Her deficiencies in campaigning weren't policy, but a failure to go to the heart of culture war. To confront the confederate reflexes that underlie Trumpism - including a boiling resentment against the knowledge professions and people who deal in facts. Turning redder against "elites" who know stuff has been the central Fox-Koch goal, to distract from the other elites who are raping America.

Tom Crowl, sorry to hear about your troubles. But the safety net you rely on is threatened by goppers, not demmies. Instead of replacing Clinton with a maniac, how about replacing the laziest and most vicious Congress in living memory with one that might listen to your pain?

In fact, history plays a mournful tune for 3rd terms of a party. There were many ways Clinton's mission wasn't so easily "winnable."

Zepp Jamieson said...

"They would have nothing that even marginally looks like proof. They would look like tinfoil-cap-conspiracy-theorists."
They had nothing that even marginally looked like proof. Hillary's servers were not hacked. And in fact, at least two of her predecessors, Powell and Condolleeza Rice, also had mail on private servers. As did the Bush II White House. (That last one was, in fact, illegal, particularly since they destroyed the servers after the 2008 election). However, we do know that both the RNC and DNC servers were hacked.
It's nearly impossible for a Republican to be accused of being a conspiracy theorist. They can tell the most blatant and egregious lies, It wasn't until very late in the campaign that the American media started identifying Trumps most obvious falsehoods as such.
I don't mind anyone demanding honesty and care for the Democrats, but shouldn't Republicans be held to the same standards? Especially in light of our present disgraceful Constitutional crisis?

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Bernites had very little to complain about HC, in actual policy, and even less, after she ramped up to Bernie matching re minimum wage etc."
I think most Bernie supporters were quite aware of the agreement she and Bernie made after the California primary; certainly Bernie broadcast it far and wide. But having a ringing endorsement from him didn't make her convincing. She barely mentioned the planks in the agreement after the first couple of days, and of the five candidates for vice president, picked the most right-centrist of the bunch.
Yes, she fought hard and fought well for Hillarycare. But that was 25 years ago. Few were convinced she would fight for it again.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry Hart wrote: " ...the Democratic Party seemed neutered until centrists like Bill Clinton triangulated to the right."
Part of the problem wasn't just that they abandoned liberals; they abandoned the left. While they still made liberal noises, they totally abandoned most issues important to labor and working people. That Hillary was a vast improvement over Trump is beyond dispute; but she did very little to enthuse the groups she needed the most, and Trump saw the political vacuum that caused and exploited it. He ran as something Hillary couldn't: a working-class hero.
Historians are going to puzzle over that for many years.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Viewing your presidential election as an outsider

The Democrats didn't have a chance - to most of your electorate it was the other guy's turn
Despite that Hillary won the popular vote

I know the Brits are famous for waiting in lines - but when it comes to politics you guys have it all over us - we do have the concept of "it was his/her turn" but it only very rarely happens.
Blair/Brown being about the only time I can remember - and that did NOT pass the electorate

This article sums up why the US electorate is pissed off
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/08/opinion/the-american-dream-quantified-at-last.html?ref=opinion&_r=2

Deuxglass said...

Tom Crowl,

What I think what would make you feel better is Justice. You lost your house in the Great Recession and you see those who made it happen not only not sanctioned but coming out even richer than before. After the Savings and Loan Crisis 600 Presidents, CEO's, CFO's and accountants went to jail. Justice was done. After 2009 nobody went to jail. In fact they were hired to "manage" the problem. Obama could have been an FDR. The opportunity was there but the will wasn't.

Clinton's conversion to some of Sander's positions didn't convince anybody. The cultural war emphasis wouldn't have made a dent. After the worst recovery in post-war history, the issue was still the economy and that should have been evident to her and she had no vision, no answer and no clue.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

I don't mind anyone demanding honesty and care for the Democrats, but shouldn't Republicans be held to the same standards?


I always had a disquieting sense of something that I am coming to realize is more of an unwritten law in American national politics: Standards exist to keep Democrats from acquiring too much power. Republicans having power and using it at will is considered natural. Any constraints on their power, constitutional or otherwise, is considered something like "sour grapes" or class warfare by the losers. However, when Democrats have power, they are uppity, and have to be constrained by any means available, constitutional or otherwise.

How else does one explain:

When a Republican president appoints Supreme Court justices, "All we ask is an up-or-down vote." When a Democratic president appoints Supreme Court justices, they don't even hold the requisite hearings (do their job).

When a Republican president starts a quagmire of a war, it is suddenly unpatriotic not to support the president in wartime. When a Democratic president uses the military, criticism becomes the patriotic duty of the supposedly-loyal opposition.

When Republicans are in charge, "Reagan taught us that deficits don't matter." The day a Democratic president is sworn in, oh my God, there is a national debt! And we have to do something about that right now, even during the worst recession since 1932. Tea Party!

Point being, Americans as an aggregate seem to think that law, custom, separation of powers, the Constitution itself, etc. were designed by the Founding Fathers for the purpose of keeping Democrats (in particular) from using too much power. The rules don't apply to Republicans because they aren't meant for Republicans, any more than Jim Crow laws or "stand your ground" laws or North Carolina's voting schedule are meant to constrain white people.

Deuxglass said...

Looking at the almost clean sweep of the Republicans through the Congress, governorships and state legislatures I would say that they are in very good shape. The party that is in the bilge water is the Democrats. That should be telling us something but I do not see a healthy self-reflection on what went wrong. In my opinion a couple of layers on managers should be fired. The people there now don't want to win, they are just playing at being "movers and shakers" but this time Trump and the Republicans played them like a fiddle. When you have incompetents running the organization then don't expect success.

LarryHart said...

@Deuxglass,

Over 20 years ago, "The Simpsons" did a show where the people of Springfield were convinced that Mayor Quimby was weak on crime because "He even let Sideshow Bob out of prison early." They were so incensed at the Democratic Mayor for this affront that they elected his Republican opponent--Sideshow Bob.

That was a spot-on characterization in 1994, and I don't see that much has changed. That certainly parallels the thought process by which Hillary is too close to Wall Street, so we elect Donald Trump instead.


Tony Fisk said...

I've never been a huge fan of the Simpsons (or South Park) because it celebrates the 'we so DU-HM' America. (To be fair, Australian comedy can be even worse!)

I guess if you give a dog a bad name for long enough...

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Dr. Brin: Trump is pro-pleasure. He doesn't love the military; he loves *bravado*. The appearance of the tough military man. The part of the military that feeds his ego and the image he is creating on the reality show, "The Commander-in-Chief".

As soon as they start crossing him, he's going to take it poorly unless people like Mattis talk fast. I am not going to contest Mattis because I fear who he might try next. At least he can listen.

Talking to GOP friends, they are all convinced that nothing will change very fast, the Cabinet will be in charge, and they're all reasonable people. I point out the outrageous maneuvers in foreign policy and they're convinced it's all for razzle-dazzle for some great and well-thought-out plan; you know, the kind reasonable people would make. I point out Flynn and Bannon and they change the subject. I point out that they told me the same thing sixteen years ago and they have no answer. I ask if they are ready to impeach if necessary and they don't want to think about it.

Failure of imagination. They just don't believe in the danger.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Heh. Yeah, I agree with that. I often have said that ethics and morals are things Republicans use to inflict on other people.

Jumper said...

Soon after Trump is accused of sex with a minor, pizza-gate happens. Funny how that works.

Tacitus, could you come up with a scenario whereby something Clinton wrote in an email damages the U.S.? Anything will do. Just make it believable.

TCB said...

@ Alfred Differ:

Sorry, can't let this go, not yet. I simply do not share your optimism about the Earth's carrying capacity for human creatures, even given greater resource-use efficiencies which alas do not yet exist. As a refresher, look at this table. It took until Napoleon's day to reach 1 billion souls. I was born shortly before we reached 3 billion, and this doubled by the time I was a bit past forty.

Table 1. World population milestones. Source: United Nations Secretariat, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, The World At Six Billion (1999), p. 8.

World population reached: Year Time to add 1 billion
1 billion 1804
2 billion 1927 123 years
3 billion 1960 33 years
4 billion 1974 14 years
5 billion 1987 13 years
6 billion 1999 12 years

Now over 7 billion and not yet level, though growth rates have leveled off some time ago.

Suppose, VERY hypothetically, that the total population had magically stuck at half what it is now, about 3.5 billion, circa 1967. What would the climate situation look like?

Answer: we'd be looking, in 2016, at another half a century or more of relative climate stability. The rain forest would not get cut down as fast; the fish would not be caught as fast; the Great Barrier Reef would still be in good shape... we would have time to make the transition to no more fossil fuels, time to move into space, time to learn, time to plan.

I think we will weep for these years, for even a few more, to prevent the unknowable catastrophe which seems all but certain now.

TCB said...

Incidentally, it seems to me that, in Unistat, people say "X could cause a constitutional crisis" even after it already has! Because admitting it already happened would mean admitting that you failed to prevent it.

I'd argue that the 2000 election and its aftermath were a constitutional crisis... and the 'good guys' blinked.

The post-9/11 abandonment of civil rights was a constitutional crisis. In its aftermath we lost habeas corpus and got waterboarding and universal surveillance. The 'good guys' blinked.

The Citizens United decision, opening the Pandora's box of unlimited money in politics: crisis, blinked. In fact, the 1975 Supreme Court decision in Buckley v. Valeo, which held that 'money is speech' and set us on the path to Citizens United... crisis, blinked.

I can probably come up with more: there are little crises as well as big ones, after all. One often seems to create the conditions for the next. But these others have set us up for 2016, a real-ass big kahuna of a constitutional crisis.

Blink?

Tacitus2 said...

Jumper

You serve up what looks like a fat pitch right over the plate. But I suspect a knuckleball!

Ah well.

I am at this point just engaging in what I think is plausible theorizing.

As Secretery of State Mrs.Clinton's email should contain information on what we are doing diplomatically, with whom, and for what reasons. It would presumably contain information not in general circulation and from a variety of sources. I could imagine intelligence operatives or just people who are privately friendly with the US being named or simply their information put forward in a way that would focus attention on them. Official spies could get declared p. non grata and expelled. Covert ones could disappear. A chilling effect on the willingness of foreign nationals generally to be friendly or even on speaking terms with the US would be a logical consequence of "private" conversations being made available to parties unknown.

Some have also speculated that there is a good dollop of Clintonian "pay to play" in the missing emails, opening her to potential blackmail as POTUS, but I give that scant credence. The dame has brass, we all give her that. I don't think she would have been easy to blackmail.

I don't see that we have reached a constitutional crisis at this point. And I don't think we will.

Tacitus

Catfish N. Cod said...

@TCB: I don't know what you think could have been done, other than withholding even more health care from the Third World or else mass genocide. I suppose the climate would be doing well if we had had a nuclear war, but somehow that does not seem like a good plan to me.

We became aware of the problem right at the exact moment it became unfixable. And I am not going to weep about Trump, because over two thirds of the economy is under the control of Democratic cities that are going to keep doing the right thing no matter, and because nothing short of the anathema of direct market intervention is going to keep natural gas and wind and solar from continuing to displace coal in the US.

@LarryHart: the norms are in place to constrain those who speak for the lower classes. Those happen at the moment to be Democrats, but they have been the Republicans, and the Progressives, and the Democratic-Republicans, and the Anti-Federalists, all in their turn.

@Deuxglass: Obama was too conciliatory by half. No prosecution of war crimes. Little prosecution of economic malfeasance. Far too little prosecution of antitrust. For the sake of amity he gave an inch and they took a mile.

Won't be fooled again.

donzelion said...

Illithi: Nothing to be done about broadcast television except to turn it off - for me, it was $80/month expense that I've never missed. Amazon/Netflix cover all I need, and when they don't, I can order a series on Amazon and watch it sans commercials.

For me, my great discoveries this year have been

(1) 'Black Mirror' - astonishingly excellent. A MUCH smarter version of the 'Twilight Zone.' As hard as that is to imagine. The biggest 'stinkers' in Black Mirror - e.g., "The Waldo Effect" - is also the most accurate and shockingly prophetic to account for our political climate. The next biggest stinker, 'National Anthem' - had a similar prophetic effect in a debate in the UK. Several other episodes feature ideas our host has developed into stories of his own in very different ways.

(2) Dr. Who. On Amazon Prime. Often silly, always better than most of the rot on cable.

(3) Stranger Things, Netflix. More fantasy than sci fi, and a simple 'aliens meet the goonies' setup, but well done.

(4) Death Note, Netflix (at least the first 2/3rds) (oldie but goodie, and new to me). The occasional anime keeps one global.

Anyone else have suggestions? There's quite a wealth of good stuff out there.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TCB said...

@ Catfish: You're not wrong, a humane way of limiting population is hard to come by (other than letting women have full and equal rights, which is the only thing actually shown to reduce population growth; affluence without equality, as is seen in Saudi and places like that, does not reduce birth rate!)

But jesus h. christ, I wish more people would at least admit sheer numbers are a problem.

What I see is: A tiny number of people actually worried about population pressure (like me). A much bigger number of 'pro-life' fanatics who don't want abortion OR contraception (what they actually want is social control through maintaining the religio-sexual taboo). And the largest remaining cohort, people who care about "It's crunch time in fantasy football. Trying to win your playoff game this week? Here's info on Bilal Powell, Alshon Jeffery and plenty more players who could determine your fate."

I just googled that bit because I could not fucking care less who those people are. Pretty sure they are only determining my fate in the most pejorative sense possible.

donzelion said...

Deuxglass (butting in to the comment to Tom Crowl): "What I think what would make you feel better is Justice. You lost your house in the Great Recession and you see those who made it happen not only not sanctioned but coming out even richer than before."

Three thoughts:

(1) Joseph Kennedy Sr. (JFK's dad) was one of those 'insider traders' tapped in the New Deal to rein in insider trading at the SEC. Stephen Mather was one of those 'dastardly polluters' who helped build the National Park Service (and did immense good in the long run). Obama followed a similar approach for some of his appointments in the financial sector. He also tried to appoint 'outsider' champions (like Elizabeth Warren) - only to see them blocked.

(2) The sorts of fraud for which convictions were achieved in the S&L scandal are relatively simple affairs, involving localized corruption, bribery, failure to report, and sales of illusory securities: old-fashioned, simple schemes that percolated throughout much of the country.

The financial tricks used in 2000-2008 are far more sophisticated, far larger, and designed to make it far harder to impose criminal liability upon any participants. Billions of dollars was spent to erect those sorts of derivative structures (many of which persist) in a manner that cannot easily result in convictions beyond a reasonable doubt. Preet Bharara is one of the best prosecutors in the country, but he's stumbled in many high profile cases.

Take the recent Wells Fargo debacle: you can remove a CEO, but can anyone convict him? Of what crime? "Encouraging and inciting employees to break the law" is not the sort of thing you can get a criminal conviction for.

(3) Obama's goal was to reset certain laws: he made some progress in that, but needed a Congress to get any further. FDR had Congress. Obama did not. As is, the story after the Financial Crisis has seemingly been, "We need LESS regulation! It's the bad regulations that made this bad stuff happen!" At least for the majority of legislators elected in America. Among that set, "insurance was fine until Obama started meddling with it!" (so long as they never actually needed it - at which point, they learned what 'bad faith' means).

TCB said...

Tacitus said:

" could imagine intelligence operatives or just people who are privately friendly with the US being named or simply their information put forward in a way that would focus attention on them. Official spies could get declared p. non grata and expelled. Covert ones could disappear. A chilling effect on the willingness of foreign nationals generally to be friendly or even on speaking terms with the US would be a logical consequence of "private" conversations being made available to parties unknown."

That is exactly what happened when the Bush White House outed Valeria Plame as an active CIA intelligence agent. She was working on nuclear non-proliferation when she and the CIA over company Brewster Jennings and Assoc. were 'burned' by leaks to Robert Novak from Scooter Libby, and most likely Vice President Cheney and Karl Rove, for political retaliation.

It is not known how many of Plame's contacts were killed afterward.

BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT IT'S OKAY WHEN A REPUBLICAN DOES IT

Jumper said...

Good, Tacitus. You are playing with a full deck. Now do you think Clinton had full confidence that the internet is secure? Or was the head diplomat mostly discreet as a matter of habit? Do you think telephone conversations are similar, insofar as they can be tapped?

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "Liberals are diametrically misunderstanding DT's picking a bunch of generals. They think it means he is pro-military and the military supports him. It actually will give him cover to go on a firing spree/"

More of a "spoils reallocation" than a firing spree. When Trump critiques Boeing, the Chicago-based, Washington-focused manufacturer: the argument is 'simple' - why haven't you shifted those jobs to Mississippi, Indiana, and Kentucky?

Bush made similar arguments, a little less obviously, and actually shifted tens of billions from aerospace/defense from California/New England to Texas, Kansas, and Missouri. To 'save money' (haha, the budget says otherwise).

The key benefit of generals, in a military-industrial context, is that they haven't already achieved vested interests: they won't profit from billions of dollars in real estate trades based on reshuffling 'priorities' because they haven't spent decades putting those in place.

Trump's people can. And will.

Tacitus2 said...

Ah, Jumper. I was looking for that knuckleball!

I simply can't know what Mrs. Clinton was thinking. There are a few known data points and the rest is speculation (which is all I was asked to do).

-There was an enormous volume of email.
-There was mixing of private and work email (and does one always apply the rigorous standards of the first to the second?)
-There were multiple devices involved.
-Uniquely, she and her staff coked up the system, thereby eliminating the excuse of a government supplied system having insufficient security. Your circus, your monkeys.

Regards phone calls I think it is assumed that all calls to anyone important are being recorded at the receiving end. Probably the originating end too. I doubt anything of importance is said in that format other than on special secure lines.

What I "think" is that Clinton did not fully understand the implications of computer security. She is not a young person. She has a circle of confidants who were demonstrably sloppy with this sort of thing.

I hope that suffices as an answer because the only one who could fully answer has been rather oblique in her responses.

Tacitus

Tacitus2 said...

Obviously I meant "cooked up the system". I suppose some staffers "coking" it up would be a viable alternate explanation.

Tacitus

Paul SB said...

I haven't had time to read over everything that has passed this blog today. Too busy, but I did some skimming.

Illithi,

You seem like too much of a people person to want to spend all your leave time watching TV, but I know how a good blizzard can limit you there. Do you have any creative hobbies that take up little space? My daughter's best friend from high school enlisted in the army (because her rich parents were too cheap-ass to pay for med school for a girl, though they will for her brother). She plays flute and draws a lot. My daughter sent her some small sketch pads she can fit in a coat pocket, and she writes back that it is one of the few things that keeps her sane. There are a lot of websites that will teach you to draw, so you just need pencil and paper. If this just isn't the kind of thing you do, keep thinking. I grew up in blizzard country and learned that you have to have a variety of Sanity Maintenance Activities for those times you just get stuck.

TCB,

I've tried to get Alfred to admit that population is a problem for a long, long time. I love his optimism, but I am too much a student of history to share it. Yes, humans are capable of raising K by doing all sorts of clever, innovative things. But there have been numerous times in human history in which they simply failed to do any such thing, and civilization collapsed into epic chaos. We could bet of human ingenuity to repair all the damage our massive overconsumption has wrought, but the smart money is on birth control. People who have cars and guzzle thousands of gallons of water a year aren't going to give that up, and people who don't desperately want to, to "keep up with the First Worlders." The smarter money just might be on disaster. Some humans are smart enough to see it coming and work furiously to prevent it, but most blithely go about doing the same thing "everyone else" does without a second thought. Sorry to rain a little gloom down here. Alfred is going to have to show us some huge positive-sum innovations that offset human consumption levels and environmental degradation before I will no longer be able to limbo under his optimism level. A bit envious, though.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

@LarryHart: the norms are in place to constrain those who speak for the lower classes. Those happen at the moment to be Democrats, but they have been the Republicans, and the Progressives, and the Democratic-Republicans, and the Anti-Federalists, all in their turn.


Sure. I'm not here to argue about the name of the party. It's the Democrats today, but "It wasn't meant to be taken lit'rally. It refers to any party who advocates for the lower classes." But "lower classes" does not just mean the very poor. In this sense, the term extends to the 99%.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

(3) Stranger Things, Netflix. More fantasy than sci fi, and a simple 'aliens meet the goonies' setup, but well done.
...
Anyone else have suggestions? There's quite a wealth of good stuff out there.


My daughter, the one who introduced me to "Hamilton", is a fan of Stranger Things. Another Netflix favorite of hers which I also like is "Sherlock", with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role. There have been three "seasons" so far, but that's misleading because each season is only 3 or 4 shows.

Tom Crowl said...

I find this data significant

California:

Hillary Clinton
(Party: DEM) 8,753,788
62.2%
Donald J. Trump
(Party: REP, AI) 4,483,810
31.8%

New York

D H. Clinton 58.8% 4,143,874
R D. Trump 37.5% 2,640,570
Like · Reply · 3 mins

I'm sure you're aware of it... and she DID win the popular vote by a considerable margin... but if you take out California and New York... Trump won the popular vote everywhere else! As you know I'm no Trump supporter... but shouldn't someone over at the DNC be paying attention that they've got a serious.. I mean serious... geographical problem?

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

Among that set, "insurance was fine until Obama started meddling with it!"


That's because among that set, insurance is not for providing protection against catastrophic costs of injury and illness. Rather insurance is a vehicle for acquiring billions of dollars for CEOs and executives. And in that sense, it was fine until Obama started meddling with it.

Randall Winn said...

Since it really doesn't matter anymore, I feel free to point out that the entire fake scandal around Hillary's email server is diametrically opposed to the American myth of the iconoclastic private sector hero breaking the rules to get the job done - a legend that Dr. Brin has written about once or twicet.

You all know --- if you've been paying attention --- that Hillary tried to get a secure Blackberry through official channels, and was turned down. The frumpy ol' gummint just didn't have one of those - lady, would you like this nice brick to carry around, it's got the same letters on its keyboard so what's the difference? Clinton had learned the value of better technology in the private sector and --- at most --- broke a few rules to get the job done ... a job which was just a little bit more important than keeping the tech nerds happy.

Regard less of what anyone says, snail mail is just not as good. In fact, if Clinton had *not* used her private sector expertise to upgrade the Secretary of State's capabilities, she would have been derelict in her duty.

If this had been an action film starring Bruce Willis, we'd all be cheering at the awkwardly mumbling gummit types getting in-yo-faced by the tough young buck --- but since it was an elderly woman and the target of 20+ years of propaganda, suddenly breakin' all the rulez is unforgivable. Even if she did get results.

I hope, Dr. Brin,

LarryHart said...

TCB:

BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT IT'S OKAY WHEN A REPUBLICAN DOES IT


More accurately, it's bad when either side does it. But it's only "bad when either side does it" when Democrats are in power.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

As Secretery of State Mrs.Clinton's email should contain information on what we are doing diplomatically, with whom, and for what reasons. It would presumably contain information not in general circulation and from a variety of sources. I could imagine intelligence operatives or just people who are privately friendly with the US being named or simply their information put forward in a way that would focus attention on them. Official spies could get declared p. non grata and expelled. Covert ones could disappear. A chilling effect on the willingness of foreign nationals generally to be friendly or even on speaking terms with the US would be a logical consequence of "private" conversations being made available to parties unknown.


Tac, I'm not sure what question you are answering here. If I had to guess, I'd say that you're asserting how much damage is possible if the Secretary of State's e-mails are hacked. That's never what the e-mail scandal was about, and in fact, it appears that every official channel was hacked except Hillary's private e-mail server.

The reason it is considered bad form for government officials to use non-government e-mail is because they use non-government e-mail to circumvent the documentation requirements that have been legislated for government e-mail. So all of the correspondence on the official server would be retrievable in some manner at a later time, especially if subpoenaed. But Hillary is free to delete inconvenient e-mails sent from her private server. The implication is that there are missing e-mails that might have been used as evidence against her.

It's awfully hypocritical for Republicans to call her on that last bit, as Karl Rove practically invented the practice of using private servers and deleting incriminating evidence. That aside, Hillary being able to delete inconvenient personal e-mail is almost the diametric opposite of the danger you propose. Dare I say: "That's a different thing. In fact, the opposite thing."?

Tom Crowl said...

And yes, I know the Dems are better for the safety net. I'm not about the safety net except as a peripheral aspect of a larger issue.

What does my situation matter when matched against the inequality of law as it's applied to the minority population and the drug war... or the neocon's foreign policy dreams.

There's a bit more to my story which is not typical. Frankly I don't mind being poor right now. I've been rich* and it certainly has advantages. But for me it was never about money... it was more about having freedom to do what I wanted with my time.

*let's call it "vicariously rich"... my ex-wife comes from very, very old money... and since I might as well lay it out... I was very spoiled for a reasonable number of years (essentially the 80's)... until maybe realizing that I was never going to do a thing with my life just sitting there... Fridays at Trader Vic's... Sundays at Lakeside Country Club... the full partner at O'Melveny and Myers coming to the house for minor legal crap... the Earnst and Young partner to the house for tax stuff... and the house up near the top of Mulholland just up the street from Harlan Ellison's with all the Star Wars heads on the eaves!

This taught me quite a bit about how different just about EVERYTHING is for those at the top.

Finally, at divorce... with the prenuptual... I received $300,000 in cash and bought the house which was later foreclosed on (I borrowed money later to build the granny unit).

No need to feel sad about that... really... it FEEDS me. But I do think I"m onto something to the extent of recognizing that there are some problems with empires and civilization IN GENERAL which may not be solvable but must be managed and balanced.. and which our current ideologies and political structures are simply incapable of doing.

Globalization is inevitable. Human adaptability has been a great evolutionary advantage... but that same adaptability suggests that there are many possible "stable" configurations which we may end up with which could be near impossible to change.

And I have a suspicion that a vibrant (i.e. creative, curious, ambitious, skeptical) civilization is NOT easily achieved and even more difficult to maintain. I don't think we have a clue how to do it... and I don't believe that abundance will necessarily fix it.

(Check math scores in Viet Nam vs. the U.S.)

Randall Winn said...

@Tom ---//*Trump won the popular vote everywhere else*//

Nope. That is not even close to true.

Even if you accept states as the unit of analysis - arbitrary political boundaries drawn before WW2 - plenty of states voted blue this year. State level analysis matters only because the dysfunction Electoral College exists and refuses to perform its Constitutionally-appointed duty as a scum filter.

There *are* political and geographic patterns to the vote, and I'm sure they're heavily discussed elsewhere. Basically, regions that are prosperous, well-education and contribute to the economic viability of the Nation leaned Blue this year; regions that suck money out of the rest of the nation, drag down educational standards with anti-science nostrums ... leaned Red. It's almost as if a return to the feudal order were desirable to one of the political parties.

It may be worth recalling that Arab culture, once so pre-eminent in the sciences, became scientifically backward upon the ascension of violent movements opposed to free inquiry. Let's try to do better.

Alfred Differ said...

@TCB: I'd rather you didn't let it go. You obviously care about the problem and the potential suffering it will cause. You'd be abdicating your duty to humanity if you roll over.

First of all, I usually argue your side on other sites, but that is unnecessary here. The sensible people here don't really need convincing there is a problem looming on the horizon. The work to be done here is to help people who think we are already doomed to see we aren't and to help the remainder refine their economic understanding so they can distinguish the parts of their arguments that are scientifically sound from the parts that are economically weak.

Second, I'm only a few years younger than you. I was born the year above-ground nuke testing peaked. The slowly decaying isotopes locked up in my teeth will identify that birth year long after I'm dust. We both saw first hand the very real fear people had then of mass starvation and the way the Chinese appeared to be leading the way into that dark future. It didn't happen, though. Some bright, motivated people initiated the Green Revolution and now many of us have too much food. Along the way, we also exterminated small pox, avoided nuking each other, sent a few people to the Moon and back without killing them, and brought extreme poverty down to the 50% when everyone is included. While we worried about a population bomb, amazing things were being done by bright people, but they weren't all geniuses or even working on the seemingly most important problem. Feeding people is a good thing, but no one really expected that to reduce the rate at which women chose to have babies. Ending the Cold War without a nuclear hot phase is a good thing, but no one really expected that to defuse the bomb. I remember well a lot of talk regarding space travel as an ESCAPE from Earth and her troubles. No one really thought the inspiration of the race would help make the bomb fizzle. All of this happened, though. Take a peek at the statistics at gapminder.org

I'm not suggesting the climate problems aren't problems or that they are easy problems. They aren't. What I'm pointing out is that your 'alas do not yet exist' concern doesn't move me. Many reasonably bright people are looking at them seriously and working at them. Many more are working on other problems that might very well prove to matter more than the direct approach. This is where more brains helps. Obviously we have to feed, clothe, and house them in a way that doesn't smother us in our own poisons, but that is precisely what we've been learning how to do for 500 generations or so. The carrying capacity of the world for humans before the ice retreated was somewhere near or just under 10 million. Glacial retreat gave us more range in Europe and Asia, but not enough to support 1000x more people using the tools and techniques we had back then. Just before the industrial age, the carrying capacity for humans was probably around 700 million. Famines in England and Scotland occurred often enough just before industrialization that one could expect them once or twice a generation. That all stopped. Our tools and techniques change the carrying capacity and I fail to see the case some make that we can't do it again.

I have no doubt we WILL weep for what we lose as we learn, but a few generations from now, I suspect our descendants will look back on this era as the early period of another escape from disaster. Obviously I would prefer to believe that compared to doom and gloom, but I don't think my glasses have an excessively rosy tint. The evidence is already coming in if one takes a rather Austrian view of economics.

Tom Crowl said...

Winn... I don't get your argument. I"m not making a point having anything to do with the electoral college... or even districting. This is raw popular vote.

Is there something wrong with the math?

She has well over a 4 million vote advantage in CA

and over 1 and a half million in New York...

Yet in the national totals she wins by just under 3 million. Yes... she won many other states... but if you add ALL the rest of the other states together... didn't she lose THAT popular vote? (yes, an arbitrary demarcation.. but that's the point I"m making... leaving out the coast the Dems are blowing it... and they shouldn't be.)

SO... am I missing too much sleep? Too long since I took arithmetic?


And RE: "Basically, regions that are prosperous, well-education and contribute to the economic viability of the Nation leaned Blue this year; regions that suck money out of the rest of the nation, drag down educational standards with anti-science nostrums ... leaned Red."

I suspect there are many farmers (key exports) and good working people that aren't all fools. But I have a suspicion that the view you express and while certainly applying to many is not much appreciated by the thoughtful people who voted for Obama in the previous two elections and even for Clinton this time.

But you certainly express the view of Democratic elitism which I don't feel is very helpful to building consensus... or winning elections. I've been rich... and I've been poor... and I have some experience with how class affects how one is treated and listened to or not listened to.

Please watch one of the coal miners: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5P4xcVQy0n4

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB: The smarter money just might be on disaster.

If I thought I'd be around to collect on the bet instead of one of the people too soft to survive, I'd bet both ways. Knowing that and from the fact that I lived in Vegas for awhile, I'd rather be the bookie taking the bets. 8)

I still find it odd that we talk of K (even I'm doing it now) as if it is a limit when evidence shows it is malleable by a few factors of 10 when nothing changes except what is between our ears. With knowledge, it seems we become a different species able to fill new niches formerly beyond us and old niches at a much higher density. Switch from forager to farmer and BOOM we get a factor of 100x. Odd.

Civilizations have come and gone, yet that hasn't made much of a dent on us. We've usually had more than one going simultaneously in the last few millennia, so the few people enriched by them change skin color, language, and customs while innovation continues to be nursed and spread by traders. Successful governance techniques usually don't change much, but I think that points to an error when we rely too much on history to understand what we are seeing now. This civilization isn't like the others. The richest among us appear to be ridiculously wealthy compared to the average Joe not unlike the past, but our average Joe is FAR better off than any of his ancestors even if they were lucky enough to live in a prosperous region and time. That fact means we are doing something different.


Will we keep doing it? Heh. Maybe if we knew what it was we were doing different it would help, no?


1) Dignity granted to those who innovate and suffer the natural selection of markets.
2) Freedom to try to become filthy rich through innovation as long as that freedom doesn't distort fair markets.

The details matter of course, but show me any past civilization that grants dignity to creators of creative destruction and frees them to act. My optimism might diminish if you can find a decent counter-example. We do both and froth in anger when any oppose this vision of ourselves.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB: The smarter money just might be on disaster.

If I thought I'd be around to collect on the bet instead of one of the people too soft to survive, I'd bet both ways. Knowing that and from the fact that I lived in Vegas for awhile, I'd rather be the bookie taking the bets. 8)

I still find it odd that we talk of K (even I'm doing it now) as if it is a limit when evidence shows it is malleable by a few factors of 10 when nothing changes except what is between our ears. With knowledge, it seems we become a different species able to fill new niches formerly beyond us and old niches at a much higher density. Switch from forager to farmer and BOOM we get a factor of 100x. Odd.

Civilizations have come and gone, yet that hasn't made much of a dent on us. We've usually had more than one going simultaneously in the last few millennia, so the few people enriched by them change skin color, language, and customs while innovation continues to be nursed and spread by traders. Successful governance techniques usually don't change much, but I think that points to an error when we rely too much on history to understand what we are seeing now. This civilization isn't like the others. The richest among us appear to be ridiculously wealthy compared to the average Joe not unlike the past, but our average Joe is FAR better off than any of his ancestors even if they were lucky enough to live in a prosperous region and time. That fact means we are doing something different.


Will we keep doing it? Heh. Maybe if we knew what it was we were doing different it would help, no?


1) Dignity granted to those who innovate and suffer the natural selection of markets.
2) Freedom to try to become filthy rich through innovation as long as that freedom doesn't distort fair markets.

The details matter of course, but show me any past civilization that grants dignity to creators of creative destruction and frees them to act. My optimism might diminish if you can find a decent counter-example. We do both and froth in anger when any oppose this vision of ourselves.

Tom Crowl said...

Finally..

RE "It may be worth recalling that Arab culture, once so pre-eminent in the sciences, became scientifically backward upon the ascension of violent movements opposed to free inquiry. Let's try to do better."

I more than once made the point here that exactly THAT.. (the repeated devolution of advancing cultures) doesn't just occur... but has often occurred.

And searching for the reasons that that happens and how to prevent it is a core interest.

I may be wrong and I'm just stumbling around... but I'm trying to stumble in a useful direction at least. And if nothing else.. maybe my errors will be useful.

Thoughts on the Biosocial Roots of Oligarchy
http://culturalengineer.blogspot.com/2014/10/thoughts-on-biosocial-roots-of-oligarchy.html

Alfred Differ said...

@Tom Crowl: I can see your words the way you intended. I can also see how Randall could interpret them the way he did. The obvious lesson is you have to be much more verbose for us to avoid this. 8)

Seriously, though, you have a strong point. The Democrats have a problem they better fix if they want to govern at the federal level. The GOP has a different problem to solve, but the Democrats relaxed too much thinking they could deal with it easily.

The nation is changing on both of them. 8)

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

2) Freedom to try to become filthy rich through innovation as long as that freedom doesn't distort fair markets.

OK I would agree that Freedom to try to become rich through innovation is a plus point

BUT Freedom to try to become FILTHY rich through innovation - does NOT add anything to that motivation and does massively distort the fair market

And that would be if there was actually any strong linkage between "becoming filthy rich" and innovation

As far as I can see it is almost never the "innovators" who actually do become rich
And on a lot of the occasions when an innovator does become rich it is not that he/she has created something that nobody else would have just that he/she has managed to beat the crowd - a worthwhile thing but not as worthwhile as an actual creative innovation

So if we lose the "filthy" part we all gain

donzelion said...

LarryHart: Sherlock WAS the smartest thing I'd ever seen on television. Until I saw Black Mirror. ;-) (Sherlock is more fun though.)

Randall: Hillel Ofek lost my respect with the Bernard Lewis quote. I can tear apart his numbers and his story, but ask Sephardic Jews whether Europeans or Arabs were more welcoming of racial or religious minorities historically (or the dozens of minorities in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey...). "Publication" is alive and 'well' in the Arab world - but since copyright is so rampant, it pays more for writers, artists, and scientists to earn their money the old-fashioned way: producing works to praise patrons. It's not that they 'slowed' scientifically, it's that the old-fashioned way of doing things sucks compared to the modern university system. Independent scholarship, art, jurisprudence - essentially, every field of 'knowledge' benefits from a non-oligarchic structure. But oligarchies are freaking hard to build and sustain.

That said, you're even more right about the "email scandal" than meets the eye. In essence, Trump & Friends raged against Hillary for failing to abide by the government bureaucracy. In every other context, they'd deride bureaucrats, but in this one context, failure to jettison Blackberries and stick to government-approved tools is deemed a serious crime.

Tom: You're onto something about Dems/Reps, but there's a link that flows through Dr. Brin's point about Dems taking 'urban' areas, with Reps the rural ones. My guess? Dems work through a cluster of nonprofit orgs, universities, agencies, etc. - the tax exempt structures of do-gooders. Reps work through churches. Both create organizing clusters (Hillary's political machine in 2008 was exactly the machine that prevailed in 2016 against Bernie - just as it almost beat Obama). Nonprofit orgs are sponsored by individuals and successful businesses who reward 'effective community results': that encourages urban focus (most benefit for the buck). Churches tend to have 1-10 wealthy patrons who reward 'loyalty.' This structural difference explains a great deal in outcomes.

donzelion said...

Duncan: "As far as I can see it is almost never the "innovators" who actually do become rich"

Really depends upon how one defines 'innovation.' Almost every CEO describes himself as an innovator - just as they'll describe themselves as dynamic and any other positive terms that come to mind. But I know of no economist since Thorstein Veblen who has so precisely separated 'business' from 'industry' (in his terminology, 'industry' was the productive part of the enterprise and source of all discoveries, engineering achievement, and much else).

Trump certainly sees himself as an 'innovator' (he did create the brand after all, with a little help from the media he now claims to disdain). The majority of the filthy rich see themselves as 'innovative' traders, financial rearrangers, backers of impressive redistribution platforms that made them (and a select few others) wealthy.

The thing about productive innovators who actually do change the world: few of them were driven to become wealthy in the first place. They saw a possibility and made it a reality, but seeing and acting were driven by completely different motivations. Our IT innovators didn't care whether they would make $1 million or $50 billion - they cared that they did something cool. This is why they've stayed in California, when they could migrate to other states to shave 10% off their income tax (not unlike the president of another burger franchise...).

Tacitus2 said...

LarryHart

It is difficult to keep up on this thread. The question was put to me by Jumper, and read:

Tacitus, could you come up with a scenario whereby something Clinton wrote in an email damages the U.S.? Anything will do. Just make it believable.

Answered, and apparentely to the satisfaction of the asker. It was hypothetical. Whether anybody actually gained access to Secretary Clintons account is unknown. We have her devout assurance that all was well.

Tacitus

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

You know that I agree with almost everything you said here. We have been through this before. In fact, if my memory serves (caveat emptor here I know my memory has issues) I was the one who first brought up the malleability of K a few years back. Your optimism must be very comforting, but the trend over the last 4 decades makes me very worried.

Think about your points 1 and 2. In the long run, they contradict each other. What has changed that has allowed innovation to thrive? Democracy, plain and simple. Under 8000 years of tyrants, priest-kings and aristocracies, innovation had a very checkered track record. Smart people can invent great things, but if a single aristocrat thinks an invention steps on their personally self interested toes, they squash it. A few, more enlightened dictators through history have nursed innovation, but innovation only really flourishes when it is taken out of the hands of oligarchs. Why? Because wealth and power are every bit as addicting as cocaine or heroine. Think back to Veblen. Once people start getting rich, they immediately get into Conspicuous Consumption and Competitive Emulation. This turns them insatiable Rich Bastard A has a collection of 27 collector cars, so Rich Bastard B has to have 28. Rich Bastard A has a priceless Ming vase, so Rich Bastard B has to one-up him by getting some priceless looted Shang bronze. Neurologically, it's just like any other addiction, be it meth or outrage (as our host illustrated in a recent novel), and it drives the same destructive cycles of behavior.

Think about Donald Grope's choices for cabinet, and why they are outraging people. The CEO of Exxon/Mobil, worth something like $170 million. Will that be enough for him? If someone invents a gas-powered engine that can move a commuter bus and get 100 mpg, how would that change his bottom line? Soon he will not only be filthy rich but also a powerful figure in government. what will he do to stop an invention like that coming to market? I doubt the murder taboo would stop him. What will he do to a competitor like Elon Musk, who is trying to create batteries that could make electric cars an attractive replacement for internal combustion?

Oligarchs have always tried to infiltrate their way into democratic governments, and at different times people are more or less vigilant fending them off. What happened in America after the OPEC Oil Crisis was in some ways a slow-motion version of what happened in Germany after the Treaty of Versailles. What has been happening to our diamond social structure? It's reverting to an aristocratic pyramid, with filthy rich business people at the top of the hierarchy instead of the Old Aristocracy of past centuries. We haven't had our Krystalnacht, but slowly we have been becoming a nation of the 1% growing more and more fabulously wealthy and powerful, feeding their dopamine addictions on mountains of money, while the remaining 99% become more and more desperate (desperate enough to vote for any charlatan who comes along talking about "change").

The Green Revolution made it possible to support our burgeoning population. GMOs are now picking up the slack from mechanized food production, and our population has already shot way past the elbow of the curve. But at the same time, the structure that sustains the innovations that will continue to support that burgeoning population is being undermined by oligarchy all around us. Oligarchs tend to crush innovation, combined with unprecedented numbers of mouths to feed and souls desperate for dignity, and you have failure mode on a titanic scale written all over this one.

LarryHart said...

@Tom Crowl,

Thanks for such a detailed and thoughtful response. We agree more than we disagree, especially...

Frankly I don't mind being poor right now. I've been rich* and it certainly has advantages. But for me it was never about money... it was more about having freedom to do what I wanted with my time.


I've never been wealthy in the sense that you were, but substitute "employed" for "rich" in that sentence, and I could have written it. I like the comforts money can buy, but having more money is never about having more stuff with me. It's more about having more of a cushion. That serves me well at the moment, my decades of employment subsidizing months without a paycheck, not needing to beg, steal, or be on the public dole. If I had not been so impetuous as to marry and reproduce, I'd probably just retire now. That was kinda my plan back in the 90s.

The one issue I'll quibble about. I'm not so much "about the safety net" per se as "about what kind of character our country has." The safety net as we know it is symptomatic of the characteristic of concern for our fellow citizens, which I do support. Trump in particular, with his encouragement of bullying thuggery seems to me to be a clear and present danger to our core values. If that becomes a stable configuration, it will dwarf our country's differences over economic policy and foreign policy and religion.

For reasons of that kind, I have a hard time understanding those who philosophically align with Bernie Sanders being satisfied with having beat Hillary by saddling us with Trump. To really mangle Dave Sim, "Sometimes, you can get what you didn't want and still not be very happy."



LarryHart said...

donzelion:

But I know of no economist since Thorstein Veblen who has so precisely separated 'business' from 'industry' (in his terminology, 'industry' was the productive part of the enterprise and source of all discoveries, engineering achievement, and much else).


Good point. It seems to me that before the Reagan years, it was understood that the industry was the important part, and the business was what was required to make the industry part feasible. Reaganomics flipped the two, and there we've been ever since.

If a human body is analogous to a company ("Corporations are people, my friend"), the business side would be the body's life-support functions while the industry would be the productive work that the person does with his life. The modern way of looking at economics is that the point of the productive and creative work is to allow the person to eat, breathe, and piss.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

It is difficult to keep up on this thread.


I hear ya. I was thinking in terms of a different scandal around Hillary's damn e-mails from the one you were addressing. I hadn't thought about how many separate scandals around Hillary's e-mails are out there. And they often get confused, such that people think Anthony Weiner's cell-phone was hacked by Russians.

Tacitus2 said...

I would not be surprised if Anthony Weiner's computers contain a large number of files with .ru suffixes. But ones he downloaded on purpose. Ick.

Tacitus

Darrell E said...

Tacitus2 said...

"Whether anybody actually gained access to Secretary Clintons account is unknown. We have her devout assurance that all was well."

This is analogous to the "Have You Stopped Beating Your Wife Yet?" fallacy. Precisely the same thing could be said of any and all email accounts and servers. We can't know, so its possible. So, have you stopped beating your wife yet? After all, we can't know, but wife beating is, reprehensibly, not uncommon. Therefore it is possible that you do beat your wife.

Tom Crowl said...

@Alfred Differ: Thanks! You're correct. I can see how I was unclear about the point I was trying to make. Details and qualifiers are important.

@Donzillion... yes, it is very much an urban vs. rural conflict... especially in the U.S.
If we look toward the Western world generally I think there is also truth there.

But there's another factor at work related to the rise of populism generally in the Western world.

I've sensed a lot of (shall we call it) "Establishment snobbery" as it relates to this rise... many seeing it as some unnatural force which will destroy a sane world.

Here's the deal.

Populism is a natural response to a 'sense' of being treated unfairly by the social order within which you reside.

I use the word 'sense' because it truly doesn't matter whether it appears justified by anyone other than the aggrieved...

There are two types of populism... Populism of the Right (authoritarian populism... e.g. Hitler) and Populism of the Left (democratic populism... e.g. FDR)

We are in a period of populism. I for one think there are some justifications for it... (though, again to some extent that doesn't matter)

Trump AND Bernie recognized that was a populist hunger being ignored.

Neither Party Establishment either recognized or wanted to address it.

Populism is here.

If the Left won't address it. The Right will... and has.

@LarryHart... THANKS!

And on the question of national character and how we see our fellow citizens... Following Mr. Differ's advice I better work on a longer response... because I want to explore how I believe the misuse of our ability to expand the money supply (both because of improved technology and productivity... but also because of reserve currency status) w/o inflation... has been misused for bubble blowing, BAD forms of "financial innovation", and unsustainable lending for consumption rather than e.g. infrastructre... Bluntly if you want to see at least a good part of how our national character has been blown up... see Alan Greenspan and Ayn Rand.

Tacitus2 said...

Darrell

You are of course in all particulars correct. For the record I have never beaten my wife or anybody else. But regards the specific situation at hand we have a bit of collateral information.

There have been many reports that indicate there were attempts to access these emails. Now, some of these are of the same "unnamed sources" that are currently being elevated to the level of Truth. But it would be surprising if attempts were not made. After all, as FBI Director Comey said, back when he was still the good guy who declined to recommend prosecution:

She had no full-time cybersecurity professional monitoring her system. She took her BlackBerry everywhere she went, “sending and receiving work-related emails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries.” Her use of “a personal email domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent.” (NY Times 6 July).

To use your analogy, this would be the equivalent of someone saying "I never hit my wife. I kept missing!"

As to the content of the emails and what use they might be to Unfriendlies, well, considerable effort was made to erase material. Wiping them not with a cloth but with professional software designed to scrub pretty deep.

Equivalent argument: " I know she said I hit her. But the Nanny Cam in the living room would prove I didn't. Darn my bad luck that the memory card got erased right after I got that first phone call from you guys."

In the end it matters very little whether you or I hold similar opinions on this point. This Opacity was a factor in Clinton losing to a horrid GOP candidate that she should have beaten by 100 EVs.

The Democratic Party did not see this coming and do the right thing.....nominate somebody who could win.

I am no fan of Trump and share the general concerns of most here. Sans a bit of the more lurid touches.

Tacitus

LarryHart said...

Tom Crowl:

yes, it is very much an urban vs. rural conflict... especially in the U.S.
If we look toward the Western world generally I think there is also truth there.


A year or so back, I re-read "The Grapes of Wrath", which seemed much more immediately relevant this time than it did when I read it in the 1970s.

One image I remember from my recent reading is the disruption to private life that occurred when the farm family is forced off their land and has to reside in a government camp surrounded by other such families at close quarters. What used to be private matters--the family meal, conversations, even dying in one's own bed--now necessarily take place within sight and proximity to strangers. Grandpa has to be surreptitiously buried along the roadside, because the family can't afford the $40 it would take to deal with the proper authorities. It is very difficult for the family to prepare its meager food and eat it with so many hungry others (including children) looking and smelling on right there.

I suspect that a cultural divide between rural and urban dwellers is not so much about the different kinds of work performed in those areas as it is about significant differences in the way urbanites and ruralites (is that a word?) view their relationship to the surrounding communities. To name two quick examples, fire protection and gun ownership are very different things in New York City or Chicago from what they are in rural Vermont or Michigan.

LarryHart said...

Tacitus2:

The Democratic Party did not see this coming and do the right thing.....nominate somebody who could win.


Ironically, that was how I felt about Hillary in 2008. It was "her turn", but she was the only Democrat who could lose that year. It was one reason I jumped right aboard the Obama bandwagon. In 2016, I really thought she was unstoppable. I think I did not understand what the world looks like to people who see and read right-wing media on a regular basis.

But part of the problem is that we have a flawed system for determining which candidate (from each party) is best able to appeal to the general electorate. The primary system masquerades as such, but it is incredibly flawed in that regard. Winning your own base doesn't tell you how well you are going to do in November. Winning a sometimes-proportional number of delegates doesn't tell you how well you'll do in winner-take-all contests. In 2008, I remember commentator after commentator pretending that Obama would lose to McCain all of the states he lost to Hillary, and that Hillary would have won those states against McCain. It doesn't work that way. This time around, many Bernie supporters cared only about the fact that they liked Bernie's proposals better than Hillary's, not whether or not he could withstand a Republican smear campaign.

I used to joke that the primaries are like two football leagues playing a baseball tournament to determine who advances to the Super Bowl. Ok, it's not quite that bad, but it is a lot like having the leagues play by softball rules (i.e, no lead-offs, underhand pitching, 10-run slaughter rule) in the regular season to determine which teams play by MLB rules in the World Series. The contest isn't designed to determine the best champions.

Anonymous said...

@donzelion 12:22 AM
Can you elaborate a bit on why the Bernard Lewis quote was enough to lose respect for Hillel Ofek, the author of the piece discussed? I don't know Lewis or his work, is that something to put the time and effort in to learn about?

@ Randall 8:46 PM:
I found the article interesting, but to my opinion it gave a rather rose-tinted view of how supportive european christianity was towards the developing science. I can't dissect the numbers in the article, but I wondered if arab scientists have other venues that aren't mentioned. Are there for instance Arab scientific journals that have no readership here because of the language barrier?
The last paragraphs were disappointing, I read them as a "no use trying to revive an early kind of arab science because it isn't up to the modern western standard of rationality". I don't think anyone is advocating that muslims would pick up where they left off. Worse is the argument against appealing to muslim pride of their past, like that would by definition stir a dangerous beast. I have the feeling that that fear colors Ofek's view, and the article, reading between the lines, is an expression of it in the form of: "please don't encourage muslims to be more than they are, they're dangerous enough as is".
After that the last paragraph reads like a bit of a fig leaf so people won't be left with the idea that he thinks muslims and modern science really can't go together (instead of don't so much at the present time).

Twominds

Tom Crowl said...

@LarryHart... great points!

P.S. On a lighter note... while there are many things better when you are rich... for me at least there's only one that I really miss: the FOOD at really good restaurants.

Interestingly, the other characteristic I liked was what at the most basic level might be called 'biological security'... not having to worry about 'affording to live'... and not having to work to do that.

How does this relate to social cohesion? The two most "secure" sectors (from the view of the individual within the cohort) are the very rich... and the very poor.

The middle live in perpetual INsecurity. (yes, of course, if a middle class person becomes poor they don't die in the U.S. at least... but that's how it seems to them).

This has created a good deal of a sense of unfairness about the impacts of a safety net... (i.e. "the bums will just bleed us all while contributing nothing and I'm working three jobs"...)

This is a valid concern... and suggests that maybe citizenship SHOULD come with some minimal obligations which involve real hours and real effort (Heinlein)... and even applies to the very rich. And I'd like to see that 'work' have them working together.

We have one example of that: juries (from which sadly many escape)

But I think there's a lot more that needs to be done in the area of obligation. Though that comes with problems as well.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Other SF discoveries on TV:
Class: a surprisingly good spin-off of Doctor Who.
The 3% -- Portuguese. Theme similar to "Hunger Games" only with wit and style.
Cleverman -- Australian. Futuristic look at Australian society at war with non-human aboriginals.
Dirk Gently -- After several failed attempts, somebody finally got it right.
Red Dwarf -- not exactly a "discovery" afte 11 years, but still with the same goofy, intelligent spirit that it always had.
Brain Dead -- an interesting failure. Ridiculous premise (the universe runs to the music of "The Cars", gaping plot holes, and disintegrates in the end, but features brilliant political commentary and howlingly funny scenes.
You, Me and the Apocalypse. The most engaging end-of-the-world story I've seen on television.
Noticeably lacking from this list: American fare.

Zepp Jamieson said...

US premium cable had good SF, and I'll be amazed if anyone hasn't mentioned High Castle or Westworld yet.
Best Dsystopian World SF, 2016: Fox News.

Anonymous said...

Why do you insist on distracting the stupid public from the International Pedo ring?

Norway Pedo Ring Uncovered: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GICAIwWsqsU

Tied to Hillary Clinton Foundation.

LarryHart said...

Tom Crowl:

P.S. On a lighter note... while there are many things better when you are rich... for me at least there's only one that I really miss: the FOOD at really good restaurants.


You sound more and more like my long-lost twin. :)


Interestingly, the other characteristic I liked was what at the most basic level might be called 'biological security'... not having to worry about 'affording to live'... and not having to work to do that.


Though I understand the common terminology which equates "work" with "having a job with a boss who can fire you", I'd say the latter is what you are really describing being able to avoid when your financial resources are abundant enough. Everyone has to do some work, even if it is lifting the silver spoon to your own mouth. Snark aside, "not having to work" sounds like "being able to sit on a couch all day long", which is not what I think most people would want to do with their lives, especially after a week or so. But "not having to hold a job with a boss who can fire you"--that sounds like heaven on earth.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan: I figured using the word 'filthy' would get a response from you. 8)

I meant it, though. Many would be innovators are motivated to reach for the billions like Bill Gates did. Getting there is rare, but the illusion is enough for many. It's a shoot for the moon idea but land among the stars as a fall back.

Your concern that such motivations risk distorting our markets is quite fair. Bill Gates offered a good example of this according to many at various times. Others went further. An important statistic to remember, though, is that most people who try to get rich while innovating are capturing less than 2% of the value of what they create. With a guess at Gates' fortune of $60B, that suggests he helped create at least $3T in value to all us of through Microsoft. I suspect that is a tad on the small side because there are some things we can do now that simply couldn't be done 40 years ago. Obviously he isn't responsible for all of it, but that is the point of the 3-act play. The vast majority of value created occurs in the second and third act after the initial innovator loses control of the stage.

So... yes. I mean filthy. If one gets too immoral, I suspect the natural selection feature of markets will kick in and kick some behinds. Gates had a few boot prints on his if you remember. Perfect angels aren't required.

Jonathan Sills said...

" For the record I have never beaten my wife or anybody else."

Of course, we only have your own word for this... :)

There is one bit of "collateral information" that argues against Clinton's server being hacked. The party or parties who accessed the DNC server, and skimmed files from the government's official servers, don't seem to have been in the least shy about spilling forth anything that could be even potentially embarrassing to Clinton - and, as we can see in the post just before mine, unafraid to make things up if that's what it took.

Yet no such information gleaned from Clinton's own server has come forth. This would seem to indicate that either said server was never hacked, or it was maintained with sufficient care that nothing of interest to her opponents was on it. In either case, I think that speaks well of either cybersecurity or OPSEC on that server.

Jonathan Sills said...

Damn you people, you went and posted twice while I was typing! My reference, of course was to the Anonymous post that is now the third post up...

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion: The thing about productive innovators who actually do change the world: few of them were driven to become wealthy in the first place.

I've seen what you describe in IT, but I don't think 'few' is the correct way to describe them. From my experience 'few' thought they had an innovation that could elevate them into the billionaire club, so being realistic they reached for millions instead. The investors who fund them are a little different, of course. 8)

Anonymous said...

@Jonathan Sills 9:31 AM
That's why I often use the time indicator. The Blogger comment section is so primitive that I see no other way to make clear which comment I'm reacting to.

Twominds

donzelion said...

Twominds: "I don't know Lewis or his work, is that something to put the time and effort in to learn about?" Short answer: no, it's not worth the time and effort. Longer answer: Bernard Lewis belongs in the same conceptual dustbin as a number of pundits who offered initially convincing premises, which actually proved to be based on a very flawed set of assumptions. Group him with any number of 'trickle-down' economists, Fukuyama, Thomas Friedman, and especially Samuel Huntington: each 'sounds' convincing to that crowd that wants to sound smart when citing an authority to justify doing what they already wanted to do - but none offered helpful insight backed by empirical observation, and worse, the 'flawed' but sound-bite backed answers they offered distract helpful empirical work.

LarryHart: re Veblen...in terms of a physiological analogy, I believe he would have looked a the "business" side as the "fat," and the "industry" side as brain and muscle. Fat is sometimes a very helpful thing for survival (and in Veblen's day, was a signifier of success), but it is seldom as helpful as muscle and brains.

@Tom Crowl: the urban/rural conflict is well documented, so when we agree on that, we're not getting very far. That the underlying tension would manifest itself in two different sorts of tax-exempt organizations is novel - "nonprofit orgs" (e.g., government agencies, universities, and a multitude of do-gooder groups financed by do-gooder businesses) v. "churches" is somewhat novel. I raise it because your original point was that the DNC needs to figure out ways to access the rural areas: they've known they needed to do so for a long time, have tried and failed, and these sorts of structures (and how they measure 'success') may explain why.

donzelion said...

Alfred: to my - and Duncan's original premise - "The thing about productive innovators who actually do change the world: few of them were driven to become wealthy in the first place."

If I could edit and rephrase, I would replace "driven to become wealthy" with "driven to become filthy rich" (which I believe reverts to your original phrasing). The productive innovators certainly intended to 'make a killing' - but seldom measured how good their ideas were based on precisely how much of a killing they made, and none focused on the fleet of jets and other trappings at the time they contributed something meaningful.

Jumper said...

Clinton has said she didn't really "do business" at State by email as a prime method. She seems old-school, managing by meetings, dictation, paper distribution. In any case, most business-related emails that she did send while at the State Department during the day, she was on their system, which was as vulnerable as any. We don't know what sort of cautions are given to higher level Federal employees.

Have you ever been at a party where two people who work together are in a corner talking about their jobs? Is this allowed by government employees, or forbidden? Is the head of the state department required to fill out a form reporting this? (the answer is "no.")

If in an email, someone mentions that the ambassador from Kaluastan is "an asshole" this is technically dangerous. It's also dangerous if a Congressman or Senator is heard saying it. Pretty much equally dangerous. In other words, harmful, but nothing to screech about; this level of undiplomatic static is going to exist. And it's not easy to use it against our interests: for all the Kaluastanians know, someone (the evil spy who wants to mess with our relations with Kaluastan) just lied about it to rile them up. Just like it's easy to write something, claim you got it from Clinton, and who's going to know if you're telling the truth?

Do other people on both sides pretty much dribble and drabble all sorts of minor league security "violations" in their casual communications with other office gossips they socialize with? I think it ridiculous to think not, and I think it ridiculous to try to quash every single instance of it.

Now, hacking the NSA is a big freaking deal.

Berial said...

I don't think he has this completely correct, but Mark Blyth has been picking winners in the last few elections, so he may be close to what's going on globally. (Brexit, Trump, Italy) A lot of the right wing turn seems to be a reaction because the working classes are convinced (and have a damn good argument too), that the center left has abandoned them. What I still can't wrap my head around, is the desire to put the 'right wing' in charge of anything when most of our current problems seem to stem from THEIR POLICIES these last 40 years, but obviously a large percentage of the population, here and abroad, disagree. If you believe the center left is just taking the right's ideas and re-packaging them the move to the untarnished source makes a certain amount of sense. (not to me but again, obviously to a lot of others.)

I really do need to read Kalecki that predicted back in the 40s the new 'fight inflation (even if it's not there) regime'[70s-now] we live under now as a reaction to Keynes' 'Full Employment regime'[40-70s]. He explains that with full employment we get inflation and the investor class can't make money as easily, so they eventually rebel politically, and set up a new way of doing things that benefits them. Namely globalize your production so that labor (which can't easily move around) doesn't have a voice any more, while capital can move at will and dictate almost everything.

Anyway, here's a link to a YouTube video from Blyth about 'Global Trumpism'. I think it would be an interesting addition to the conversation here.

One of the biggest insights is that, a lot of the loss of respect for economic professionals is the fact that the financial experts aren't providing answers that actually work. When the professionals are stumbling around trying all sorts of things then the 'buffoons' can step in with simple answers that sound good but are just as wrong. This can work against other professions too when there is a whole set of propagandists set up to make money by trying to convince the population that the experts are clueless using simple examples that sound 'truty' but are actually intentionally deceptive.

LarryHart said...

Johnathan Sills:

My reference, of course was to the Anonymous post that is now the third post up...


Unless, of course, it isn't.

:)

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

LarryHart: re Veblen...in terms of a physiological analogy, I believe he would have looked a the "business" side as the "fat," and the "industry" side as brain and muscle. Fat is sometimes a very helpful thing for survival (and in Veblen's day, was a signifier of success), but it is seldom as helpful as muscle and brains.


No, what I was trying to illustrate was the relationship between the business and industry sides of an enterprise. For example, in the old days (pre-Reagan), the purpose of a newspaper or a tv news show was to inform the public. That was its "industry". The business side--selling ads and subscriptions and such--is what needs to be done to keep the organization viable. It needs to bring in revenue in order to finance operations. Bringing in revenue is "business". Operations are "industry".

Reagan flipped that around, so that the raison d'etre of any organization became "to make money", or maybe more accurately "to extract as much money out of the system as possible." So instead of selling ads in order to facilitate informing the public, the media now inform the public (or mislead the public, or entertain the public--it's all of a kind) in order to maximize ad revenue. To me, this is a perversion of business and industry which has been somewhat successfully sold as the correct relationship between the two.

So making an analogy to a human being, I proposed that the important work that a human being does with his life is like "industry", and the processes by which we keep ourselves alive and healthy are like "business". A person has to eat, sleep, excrete, keep warm, etc so as to go on being a human being, but it seems to me a similar perversion to perceive the purpose of human life to be eating, sleeping, excreting, and keeping warm. As in, "God created people so that there would be something which eats, etc." That's what I was getting at.

Berial said...

I said I needed to read it, so I did. I believe this is Kalecki's thoughts about full employemnt as a government goal. Political Aspects of Full Employment

This was well worth the read. Can't think of a better way to put the run up to Fascism than this:
"The fascist system starts from the overcoming of unemployment, develops into an armament economy of scarcity, and ends inevitably in war."

Jumper said...

Reagan was many things, but the originator of capitalism's self-immolation via short-term profit is likely not one of them. That's Wall Street.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion:

Now that changes everything. 8)

Most innovators I’ve known are motivated to make something better, but the reward for doing so matters. None of them have been motivated to become filthy rich, but their investors are another matter. Innovations that fail to receive investments fail the market fitness test, so I lump many investors who trawl these waters as innovators too. They have to be able to recognize the real thing just often enough to come out ahead or they too fail a fitness test.

I understand the kind of person you would argue should be disqualified. We’ve talked this through and I mostly agree. My set of deplorables doesn’t overlap yours perfectly, but it is close enough that I’d listen to you on a case by case basis if you wanted to do any finger pointing at specific people.

Alfred Differ said...

Paul SB,

You aren’t alone in your worries, but what I worry about is that a four decade time span doesn’t offer enough an historical backdrop to make sense of the history. Some of what we are doing goes back into the mists because it is related to how we displaced the other hominids. Some of it only goes back a few thousand generations because it relates to a feedback loops between us and our tools and techniques. (I have an extra copy or two of a gene useful for digesting milk fats and drinking a bit of ethanol doesn’t kill me quickly for some reason.) Some of it is more recent measured at a few centuries because it relates to how the oligarchs lost control in NW Europe of both the innovators and the social standards that governed who was awarded dignity for what they did. On the scale of history, four decades is just long enough for old farts to complain about how things were better when they were young and aggressive and just barely long enough for some of them to become grandparents.

Democracy is a wonderful invention, but I get picky when people want to award it for great things. Technically, it is a way of governance where decisions have to be made, everyone gets a voice, but the way forward involves fewer options than those voices might offer. What has really enabled information to thrive is the dignity we grant each other to be let alone to act upon our personal knowledge. Democracy isn’t strictly necessary, but if lost at some point, our dignity won’t be far behind. What has enabled past oligarchs to squash innovation isn’t just their willingness to use power, though. There was also a well-justified, long-term belief among the peasants that one person’s gain was another’s loss. We call it zero-sum thinking and that has held our minds rapt for who knows how long. Why would a peasant ever believe otherwise? When your Rich Bastard A acquires 27 collector cars, someone labored to make that possible, hmm? Turns out they were wrong, though. Value in a market is no more conserved than momentum of a physical system exposed to external forces. In our market, the forces mostly arrive from constructs in Popper’s world three. Innovations that survive a fitness test reproduce through imperfect copies.

Points 1 & 2 don’t contradict. They balance. Too much of one threatens the other, but both can be squashed together when coercive force is tolerated. Both points are needed.

Oligarchs have always tried to manage us and the social norms. They are usually successful or get displaced by each other according to history. In the mid-16th century, though, they failed big time in the Lowlands of Europe and they’ve been losing ground ever since. The loss isn’t a steady downward trend, but it is still a downward trend with no reasonable argument to be made that it has been recently reversed. On the contrary, I think many of us are hyper aware of the dangers and ready to make mischief. I expect NY and CA residence to keep the Court busy repelling actions pushed by President-Elect Textbook-Case-Of-Dunning-Kruger-Effect and his cabinet.

I understand you are worried, but I think you are being understandably myopic. The pain we feel right now is vivid and blinding us to other information. The world is a lot richer now than it was 40 years ago and participants in the Bourgeois Deal have grown to huge numbers, so it’s not just us shaping the path forward. When you count the number of Americans in the world, don’t forget to count those outside our formal border who behave enough like us to qualify. Are they free to act and awarded dignity for trying? If so, they are us too.

Kal Kallevig said...

Someone above made a comment about focused attacks on actual innovators, which is what prompted me to retrieve the following article about Elon Musk. The trolling of Elon Musk: how US conservatives are attacking green tech

Anonymous said...

Who's passing these Bills. Why do you keep losing focus??? Keep distracting these idiots, Judas Goat.

Senate Passes Anti-Freedom Act!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eajeNsEtToo

LarryHart said...

Aaron Burr in "Hamilton" :


Now, Hamilton's skill with the quill was undeniable,
But what do we have in common?
We're reliable with the
Ladies!
There are so many to deflower.
Ladies!
Looks, proximity to power...
Ladies!
They delighted and distracted him.
Martha Washington named her feral tom cat after him!


David Brin said...

Two complete fantasies:

1: Tacitus clings to spectacularly fantastic narratives that there was anything... anything at all... worth even discussing about Clinton's damned emails. A doofus procedural error that imitated what her predecessors had done? Sure.

Ranked above any of 154 other matters of actual policy or criminality or sanity-vs-insanity? Come on. There's something psychological about the desperate need to consider this mole hill worth calling a mountain.

2. This is about Populism. "populism." Freaking POPULISM? The fellow doesn't even know the meaning of the term. MArching, lumper proletariat morons vote for the very oligarchs who have raped them and that is Freaking POPULISM?

Only one motivation maps perfectly onto this election. American Suspicion of Authority reflexes were strongly triggered... but against all the expert castes. Every knowledge profession. THAT is whom the idiocrat confederate millions hate, as they have been taught to, by a generation of oligarch-subsidized propaganda.

The lumpens forgive every DT appointment of middle-class-raping oligarchs. Why? Because every single one of them is the opposite of a member of an expert class.

A secState who hates all diplomats. Interior who hates all envioro science... every billionaire DT appoints is a bonding moment! Because while these guys are FUNCTIONALLY the enemies of middle class whites, they are SYMBOLICALLY pals and allies against all the damned smartypants.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

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