Friday, February 10, 2017

Can cheating be combatted?

As I mentioned, earlier, liberals should start practicing judo. Start by accepting Trump’s demand for a commission to investigate electoral fraud. A call that is now echoed in this article from Salon. Watch, as they scurry to back away from the demand.

Indeed. Former Attorney General Eric Holder has signed on to lead the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, a newly formed political group aimed at untangling the creatively drawn districts that have helped cement the Republican Party in power, both in Washington and many state capitals. Mind you, Gerrymandering is a crime against the American people by the entire political caste and for years both parties practiced the foul art, as I dissected here. Along with ways that you personally and all by yourself can defeat it, here. And yes I mean you, all by yourself.

Recent years have seen citizen uprisings in many blue states, where ballot measures instituted nonpartisan commissions to draw the districts for Congress and state legislatures. This as happened only in blues like California, Washington, Oregon and so on, leading to much hand-rubbing glee, at first, among republicans, who saw this as “political suicide” by democratic voters. 

(Libertarians note: these are the same states that are decriminalizing marijuana and doing other things top get oppression off your back. They are also thriving vastly better than red states.)

Only lo and behold, a funny thing happened. With more neutral districting, Democrats did better at the polls. It seemed that voters trusted those legislators more, not less, when they had to work hard, each election, rather than taking their constituents for granted. 

Which led to my call for Democrats to abandon gerrymandering altogether, especially in DP dominated states that still use it, like Illinois and Maryland. All those exceptions have accomplished, overall, was to let Republicans cry “See? Everybody does it!”

I doubt that Holder or Obama actually listened to me. Still, it seems my advice is being carried out. Obama and Holder will jawbone Illinois, Maryland and others to abandon gerrymandering, so that it will become strictly a Republican crime. Instead of just mostly a Republican crime.

At which point we might see whether Justice Roberts and Justice Alito -- and Justice Gorsuch -- are still able to stomach the utterly intolerable. Or whether those three can rouse themselves to be citizens first, before and above being partisan hacks. (We will see a number of occasions, over the next few years, when those three might hold the fate of our Great Experiment in their hands.)

== The simplest solution to a cheat ==

As it happens, Roberts and Alito earlier held back from meddling in gerrymandering, because they saw no clear way to prescribe a redistricting process. Only here’s the thing: you don’t even have to demand impartial redistricting commissions! I have long reponded with a three sentence solution:

(1) Set some upper limit to all districts’ perimeter-to-area ratio. (You can be generous; just forbid the absurdly contorted.)

(2) The legislature – or some commission -- may establish the boundaries, but…

(3) There must be minimal overlap between the boundaries of districts for state assembly, state senate and Congress. They must be as different from each other as practically possible. Hence, if they gerry one house to benefit their own party, fine! They’ll mess themselves up in the other two. 

There you go.  No need for formulas or “commissions.” Problem solved. Do it. Just do it.

There is, of course, a way for we citizens, ourselves, to defeat gerrymandering cheats, at least a bit, even if the crooks manage to cling to their criminal practice. If politicians have contrived things so that only one party can ever win in your district, then register as a member of that party! That way, you can vote in the only election that matters in your district, the primary. 

Seriously, you betray nothing by registering as a Republican, if that’s the party that owns your district. You can then help moderates to win the local nominations and to withstand Tea Party/Breitbart bullying challenges. (And note, you conservatives who live in Santa Monica or some other liberal enclave, this can work both ways!) Think about it.

This proved unnecessary after California's brilliant reforms, with non-partisan primaries and top-two runoffs in the fall. It has led to amazing outcomes, with moderates winning in both parties and the minorities in each district gaining clout!

 == Our side: Reduced to essentials ==

Exaggerating a bit to make a powerful point, this essay by Yonatan Zunger asserts provocatively that Tolerance is a Peace Treaty, not a moral precept. A powerfully important treaty, yes, that allows us to create far more complex, effective, productive and happy societies. But ultimately one based on pragmatism, which is vastly stronger than any "value system." 

When tolerance, diversity and all those nice things are called moral-axiom absolutes, that weakens them! Because someone else can simply shrug and cancel your hifalutin Core Value by saying "I have different core values. Different axioms." (Like holy writ telling me that your kind are filth.)

Our tolerant, diverse, positive-sum society needs no such axiomatic crutches! Amid our complexity, we've prospered and achieved more, in a few generations, than all others combined, across all continents and 6000+ years. There are zero positive metrics - from art to fun to prosperity to happiness, to soulful contemplation - in which this approach has not been rewarded multiplicatively, not arithmetically. When it comes to science and knowledge - gathering the tools and powers of creation - we've been rewarded exponentially. That is one heap of validation for free speech, tolerance, flat class structures and the rule of law.

There are powers who see where this is going. If the Enlightenment thrives for just one more generation, we'll reach a critical mass of bright youths and citizens committed to their own blatant self interest, in this positive sum miracle. Those aiming to reinstate traditional humangovernance styles of oligarchy and feudal-inherited privilege know that they have just a narrow window of time in which to bring the experiment crashing down.

Their chief tool - fomenting frantic, anti-future populism among a fact-averse lumpenproletariat - worked somewhat in 1930s Europe. It took grit and courage - yes, militancy - to face down that last major oligarchic putsch. Indeed, our Great Experiment will only be rescued by determined will and goodwill, as it was from evil empires in the 1860s, the 1940s and across the Cold War.

It requires that we view Tolerance and Freedom of Speech and class-flatness not only as our core tenets but also as the greatest tools ever discovered for achieving positive sum outcomes. Tolerance is our oxygen, our practical need, not a catechism that can be used against us.

Read this piece. Then recall how I have been poking at audiences for decades with a deliberately aggressive call to arms, rousing appreciative, if nervous laughter: 

"We must go forth and crush every worldview that does not accept diversity and tolerance!"

If that does not wring from you a tense, ironic smile -- maybe a chuckle that is both nervous and determined -- then you just don't get it. How dissonant, contradictory, yet necessarily militant we are obliged to be, to save the fecund, wondrous peace our predecessors won. See my essay: The Dogma of Otherness (from my collection Otherness).

Oh but alas. Here’s your openness and transparency.  Paul Ryan Proposes Ban on Live-Streaming From House Floor.

== Let the comparisons begin! ==

I’ve recommended that the fact-centered half of our civil war use wagers!  I'll offer a major missive about that, soon. Meanwhile though, note that the maneuver can only work if you parse the bets so clearly that there’s no wriggle room and the facts are overwhelmingly clear. Like defying  your favorite confederate cultist to name fact-based professions that are not warred upon by Fox.

Or to name a major metric of U.S. national health that does not do vastly better, across the span of democratic presidencies.  

Case in point: U.S. consumer confidence has boomed to its highest level since 2001 -- yes, higher than at the peak of the housing boom.  Reinforcing the almost perfect correlation that every single large and attributable metric of U.S. national health does better across the span of democratic administrations than across their republican predecessors.  Usually “oppositely” better. (In other words, most such metrics plummeted across both Bush Administrations.)

More comparisons here.

Let’s gather these.  If the pattern persists, it will help us to pry some intelligent “ostrich” conservatives’ head out of holes-of-denial.  And all it will take is a few… million… of them to make the difference that saves us.

And it begins.


======

Addendum.  One of you in comments pointed out: "It's not only blue states that have created redistricting commissions: Arizona has one, too. But it took a citizens' initiative to create it and years in court to defend it from the GOP legislature and state-wide officers who wanted it dead, dead, dead." Yes, well, okay. Blue in spirit, somewhat.  Look, Arizona has a huge, independent, libertarian streak. And they draw half their electricity from coils arrayed around the spinning in Barry Goldwater's grave.

89 comments:

Kalon said...

Looks like New Hampshire is listening to your call for judo:

https://twitter.com/EllenLWeintraub/status/830184891887259649

Michael Bryan said...

It's not only blue states that have created redistricting commissions: Arizona has one, too. But it took a citizens' initiative to create it and years in court to defend it from the GOP legislature and state-wide officers who wanted it dead, dead, dead.

David Brin said...

Fergus Cullen, New Hampshire's former GOP chair, on Friday hit President Donald Trump over false voter fraud claims he said were the reason New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte lost her seat in November. "I will pay $1000 to 1st person proving even 1 outofstate person took bus from MA 2 any NH polling place last ElectionDay #mapoli #nhpolitics," Cullen tweeted. Okay then. Here is:

1- A perfect example of the one and only method that can crush the alt-facts movement. Wagers!

2- The leader of the New Republican Party. Seriously, Susan Collins, Rob Portman, John McCain, and Lisa Murkowski know they are going to bolt at some point, and form the nucleus of a new conservative movement based on facts and sanity. Their slogan is ready: "I didn't leave the Republican Party, the Republican Party left me." Only they are biding their time... and hence letting us down. *Fergus Cullen for head of the new movement!*

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/319058-ex-nh-gop-chair-calls-trumps-vote-fraud-bluff-with-1000-bet

SandyM said...

The other thing about Arizona, at least until I moved two years ago, is that if you are registered Independent, you can vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary, as you choose. The only exception to this is the presidential primary. Until that was put in place, I would register with the party (usually Republican) where my vote would actually have an impact.

pjz said...

My first idea to combat gerrymandering was even simpler: 1) All districts must be convex polygons. (definition of a convex polygon is also simple: all internal angles must be <= 180 degrees)

CP said...

Twenty four states have relatively unrestricted initiative processes:

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming.

based on the list at https://ballotpedia.org/States_with_initiative_or_referendum

Many of them are red states. So, a few million in "seed money" for signature collection, etc could force mandates for both California/Washington style primaries (open/top two forward) and independent redistricting commissions onto their ballots despite party preferences.

Both parties typically fight such initiatives. But, if the debate was nationalized in the context of the current political climate, I suspect many of them would pass. And, maybe a few additional blue states that lack initiative processes would join in through legislation (given a bit of pressure...). If that happened (and with both already upheld by the courts), a large proportion, perhaps even a majority, of congressmen and senators would have to live with them regardless of their personal preferences. And, that could do a lot of good...

So, this might be a good time for a major push to get such initiatives on as many ballots as possible. Perhaps, a centralized organization could be set up to promote/organize the drives (based on small donations)? And, maybe a few "anti-Trump" billionaires could also be persuaded to get on-board...?

Best wishes,

CP

sociotard said...

The proposal to switch to non-partisan committees setting districts to end gerrymandering is nice, but it's treating a minor wound while the patient hemorrhages.

Gerrymandering in the old sense isn't the reason Hillary won the general vote but lost the Electoral College. The problem is people are self-Gerrymandering. To some degree this is because people want to live with politically similar folks. To some degree its because liberal young people move to cities while conservative old people move to the cheap, distant suburbs. At the end of the day, a geographic political sorting has occurred.

The non-partisan committees are a step, but only a step. To really fix things, we must be more radical.

The constitution only says that the number of representatives be apportioned to the states based on population. It does not say one representative per district, each seat based on first past the post elections. That comes from a federal law.

So, there would be nothing unconstitutional about switching to a semi-proportional system like Germany and New Zealand. Introducing proportional fixes will fix the self gerrymandering issue. It'd also kill the two party system. (which is why this won't be done)

CP said...

If I recall correctly, Sam Wang (http://election.princeton.edu/) concluded that about half of the net Republican majority in the house was due to gerrymandering and about half to self-segregation...

CP

Matthew Bailey said...

0D4N2 4BB4D J8340

TCB said...

From the main pos:

"When tolerance, diversity and all those nice things are called moral-axiom absolutes, that weakens them!"

Or, just as bad: allows the cheaters to pervert their meaning. If Free Speech is a moral-axiom absolute, you get Citizens United and McCutcheon because Money is a form of Speech and it is Wrong to limit Free Speech in any way.

Also, it is Wrong to limit the Free Speech of Nazis and Breitwashers in any way.

If Freedom of Religion is absolute, the churches must not be limited in any way. They need not pay taxes; they can tell their flock how to vote; they can discriminate against sinful sodomites and atheists and infidels of other creeds.

If Right to Life is absolute, fetuses can have more legal rights than the women carrying them (the Church said so, and Freedom of Religion...)

If Property Rights are absolute, the ultra-wealthy can pollute where they want, take what they want from the rest of society, charge what they want for patented medicines, own every inch of land, cut every tree, count the vote on privately owned machines, and so on and so on...

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

If the pattern persists, it will help us to pry some intelligent “ostrich” conservatives’ head out of holes-of-denial. And all it will take is a few… million… of them to make the difference that saves us.

And it begins.


Maybe it's just my pessimism barging in, but I see the argument with ostrich conservatives starting to end rather than begin. They've gone from "my side is insane, but Democrats would be worse" over to "Y'know, they are passing a conservative agenda, so maybe it's working out after all. And the fact that the liberal media and unelected judges and uppity minority groups are upset is icing on the cake!" The worst Trumpian insanities are being quickly normalized, and Republicans are falling in line as if all that is at stake is how business-friendly our rules are.

Tacitus2 said...

David

Dude, you know I stand with you on many issues that are not really Red v. Blue. I concur for instance regards gerrymandering....and suspect that "honest" districts would still show an over arching conservative/moderate bent to the US population. There are likely more areas on which we agree than on which we disagree.

But your continued tossing of the "metrics" gantlet...

Do you really want to quote consumer confidence as a measure of how swell the US economy does under D administration? This is an evanescent, a mayfly stat that is polled month by month. For what little it is worth, consider this graph:

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/united-states/consumer-confidence

In October of 16 when it appeared likely we would have a Continuation Presidency CC stood, or stooped, at 87.2%. It probably took a few weeks for the November election results to sink in and to be polled. December '16 CC...98.2%. This is lazy work on your behalf, and when you could do a much more convincing job of it.

We have been around the block a number of times on the "metrics" issue. As I have said before, I don't think you play fair. Any stats that are put forward that look better in an R admin than a preceeding or following D one are ruled inadmissable. By you. Once or twice I have suggested that we let a pool of long term commenters rule on this. They are smart and largely inclined towards your thinking. But Nopes.

At various points you have 'fessed up to this being more of a rhetorical cudgel than a completely honest argument. There too, we agree.

Tacitus
who for the ongoing record neither likes nor voted for the current President.

Tacitus2 said...

And yes, I did look at the long term trend line on CC also. Wars, recessions, Carter and Reagan.

Tacitus

Carl M. said...

A different redistricting proposal for those who like things traditional: minimize the number of partial counties. (For states like Virginia, incorporated cities would count as counties.)

This would tend to stabilize districts as well as coalesce districts by TV/radio market (which is admittedly less an issue these days).

This proposal would produce some extremism, since core city dwellers would have their own districts, not diluted by the suburbs, and there would be some rural districts made up of unbroken rural counties.

But you would also get some mixes.

Abominations like the I-85 district in NC would go away.

LarryHart said...

@Carl M,

I'm not intimately familiar with what you mean by "partial counties". I'm assuming you're describing the district lines which ignore county lines.

I am familiar with Virginia, and the way that the City of Richmond (for example) is not in any county and is its own de-facto county. That's not how it works in Illinois, though. Cook County is not just Chicago, but also an awfully large number of suburbs, many of which were traditionally Republican (though that is changing). Then, there are the surrounding "collar counties" which are part suburban, part exurban, and part rural, and also traditionally Republican (though that too is changing). Even if districts were confined to Cook County, they could still be carved up into very interesting shapes.

I'm not arguing against you. More like one part asking for clarification and one part adding to the discussion.

Anonymous said...

I'd agree that Democrats need to do something--anything--given how the Republicans are wiping the floor with them. Maybe they could work for the workers for a change, instead of just a few saltwater elites?

David Brin said...

Tacitus, don’t wag your finger at me. You posed a couple of highly dubious “exceptions” and proclaimed “Voila! David can’t use the 'most things go better across DP administrations' challenge!”

True, the examples you raised were just (barely) within the penumbra of doubt to be acceptable quibbles, over which we might tussle, some time. And TRUE, the business of attributing all metrics of health to the arbitrary procrustean bed of 8 or 4 year administrations is (at one level) silly. I have admitted both.

What YOU never admit is the LARGE lesson of my challenge! That even if you quibble one or two exceptions around the edges, my challenge does its job! It shows that things GENERALLY are well managed by democratic presidents, who preside over an improving lot for nation and middle class.

And NEARLY all such metrics decline - sharply - across GOP administrative spans, placing a burden of proof on any of you who call for a return to such mal-governance!

You know very well you cannot meet that burden of proof. ALL republicans know it. Otherwise, would they have only MENTIONED two major republican leaders, between Eisenhower and Ryan? Two, just two, even mentioned, so filled with shame they are, over the record.

LOOK at what you do. You quibble around the edges of ONE of my 6 challenges, the weakest one, and cry aha!

Sorry. All you’ve done is show that one of them cannot stand as proved by absence-of-counter-example. Fine. Good job.

It still stands as the LEADING CORRELATION. Good outcomes CORRELATE with Democratic Administrations. That is blatant. A thus, you bear burden of proof that the GOP should ever again be trusted with a burnt match.

Oh, but now they have matches and gasoline and napalm. And nukes. And you know they have gone insane, yet you quibble.

David Brin said...

Anon, good suggestion. Except workers did better with unions. And they did better under Obama than Bush. And they do better with health care and minimum wages. And education. And the confederacy rapes them. Except for all that.

LarryHart said...

Anonymous:

I'd agree that Democrats need to do something--anything--given how the Republicans are wiping the floor with them. Maybe they could work for the workers for a change, instead of just a few saltwater elites


In one sense, you are right, almost self-evidently so. What Democrats are doing obviously doesn't work.

In another sense, though, it's hard to argue that "working for just a few saltwater elites" isn't a winning strategy when it works so well for Republicans.

LarryHart said...

@Dr Brin,

Anonymous is correct in a sense, beacuase all that stuff about workers doing better under Democratic rule doesn't seem to matter to the voters. At least not to the voters in the states that matter. They voted for Trump as a protest against Wall Street for gosh sakes. And even after he appoints a Wall Street cabinet, they're still ok with him.

There's no cure for willful stupidity.

David Brin said...

The Evonomics folks are fighting for Adam Smith and for the mixed and successful system the Greatest Generation built, now being smashed by oligarchy & confederatism. You conservatives may disagree with much. But the weight of their points belongs on your scales.

http://evonomics.com/science-flow-says-extreme-inequality-causes-economic-collapse/

and
http://evonomics.com/joseph-stiglitz-inequality-unearned-income/

David Brin said...

I disagree with anon, top to bottom. Cranky white males at the low IQ end are angry about getting old and resentful of all the nerds who they beat up in school and who are now doing well. There are some Red Resentments that have underlying validity. But they are more about the trauma of losing their brightest kids to the big city, every year. 2/3 to 3/4 of Trump voters are doing fine, economically. There is a core of economic pain, but dems would help them more.

No, this is culture war... plus the dems are too stupid to realize basic electoral facts. Not just gerrymandering and cheating, but the need to go after every single "safe" gop seat with CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRATS. It is time to resurrect the Blue Dogs! But liberal twits think that will be INSTEAD of liberalism. Bull. Run liberals in liberal districts and conservatives in conservative ones DUH?

Only the democratic conservatives would accept science, reject religious influence in politics, respect knowledge professions and facts, declare willingness to negotiate and pound flat all signs of cheating. Let's make THAT sufficient to be a "democrat" and send those colonels into every red state assembly district in the nation. THAT... and only that... will win for -- not democrats -- but America.

Victoria Silverwolf said...

There was a really bizarre "Mallard Fillmore" cartoon today. I don't know if this link will work, but let's give it a try.

http://comicskingdom.com/mallard-fillmore/2017-02-11

If it doesn't work, the artist's point is that when the GOP gets in power, they compromise too much!

With that much of a difference in the worldview of the hardcore conservative and, well, everybody else, it makes me wonder -- what would satisfy you?

LarryHart said...

@Victoria Silverwood,

I always thought Mallard Filmore went too far in caricaturing the left. It seems to fancy itself a "conservative Doonesbury", but Doonesbury made fun of Presidents Carter and Clinton, whereas right-wing cartoonists only see the humor in punching down.


With that much of a difference in the worldview of the hardcore conservative and, well, everybody else, it makes me wonder -- what would satisfy you?


Possibly being crowned legitimate emperor of the world. I think that's the only case that hasn't been tested yet. Usually, when they win, it just makes them madder.

donzelion said...

Continuing from yesterday's discussion...

Dr. Brin: re Wahhabis & the Caliphate

"It's easy enough to look around find a cousin -- say from the Wahhabb Clan -- who is plausibly not an ibn Saud prince, make him the guy and then marry in a daughter."
First, there's not really a "Wahhabi" clan (there may be some descendants of the cleric, Ibn Wahhab, but they're not entitled to anything as a result of their descent. Wahhabism, to the extent it's even an accurate term (those most likely to be described as such would bristle the most at the label being applied to them), is antithetical toward tribalism in Islam. Except on the point about the caliphate, for which the rules are strict.

Consider: Judaism has had a few more centuries to address literalism, which is now only adopted among a tiny fringe (e.g., the Temple Mount Faithful, who hold that the only way 'true' Judaism can be practiced is to rebuild the temple and eliminate the Dome of the Rock/Al Aqsa Mosque). That extreme fringe in Judaism also refuses to accept as "Cohens" or Levites anyone whose claim is based on marriage or conversion: either one traces the genalogical line to Aaron through accepted steps, or one does not. Maimonides, and many other Jewish scholars reject that interpretation; the 'mainstream' finds that absolutist stance silly. But then again, Judaism incorporates a history of oppression quite unlike Islam, and the responses of rabbis over the thousands of years has altered the strict codes entirely (no more stoning for adultery, none of that polygamy that David practiced, etc.).

In Islam, the 'literalism' is far more intense, and it applies in particular to claims of legitimacy for the Caliphate (which, ultimately, is the source of the Sunni/Shi'a schism - this is central to Muslim identity and allegiance). Tribes can and do intermarry all the time, but simply doing so will not result in acquiring the tribal identity. One cannot marry a descendant of the Prophet's tribe and thereby acquire a 'claim' upon the Caliphate. One is either a lineal descendant from a specific branch of the same tribe of the Prophet, or one isn't.

Ottoman Turks, of course, were fully aware of the possibility of incurring a claim as legitimate caliphs through marriage. The Saudis rejected that claim, and based their entire assertion of power on the fact that those claiming such a path were illegitimate rulers, who failed to protect the pilgrimage and were thus ineligible to be caliphs. When factions arose against them, they were primarily from two lines - those who accused the Saudis of secretly intending the claim the caliphate for themselves, and those who accused the Saudis of opposing the formation of a new caliphate. The Saudis coopted the first faction by renouncing any such claim or intention. We're still fighting the ideological descendants second faction decades later.

While it is certainly a logical, plausible theory that the Saudis intend to become caliphs, in science, one does not accept a theory simply because it is logical: there must be evidence. So too here. The evidence rebuts your claimed theory that they intend to be caliphs, forcing a reinterpretation of what is occurring when they speak about the caliphate. You can ignore the evidence, but that's simply not your manner.

David Brin said...

donzel, in theory you can have a second wife, if 100 rabbis sign a paper. I heard there was a guy trying that.

As for the info-dump, thanks! Very informative. I concede being pushed back by some degree. Though it will take a lot more to convince me that the R'oil House has not been waging a determined war against us, for 70 years.

locumranch said...


It makes a kind of perverse sense:

David encourages his progressive followers to vote as spoilers in the rival political party's primary elections because 'democracy', yet leaked progressive party emails prove the opposite & show that the DNC had pre-selected one primary candidate over another in defiance of due democratic process, by declaring HRC the 'Heir Apparent' prior to the US Democratic Party primary election.

Both in the US & the EU, it is duplicitous pretence like this that proves that western democracy is dead or dying.

(1) Professing themselves 'democratic', these posturing bureaucrats position themselves as the best-to-rule unquestionable Intellectual Elite & dismiss the populist voting populace as 'know-nothing' morons incapable of self-rule;

(2) Claiming to be pro-Labour & pro-Union, they allow unrestricted immigration, invalidate legal borders and import at least 11 to 12 million union-busting scabs who steal their follower's jobs & depress their follower's wages; and

(3) Pretending to be pro-Law & pro-Justice, they violate due process, openly agitate for the overthrow of the legitimately elected federal government, and encourage their followers to don masks & break windows..


The foundation of the United States
Rests on the sweat of my people
Every enemy of the USA
Has had to face my people on the front lines

We, the People, the Know-Nothings,
Rise up, freeing ourselves from parasitism,
All manner of users, free riders & dependent sycophants,
The oligarchs, the blowhards, the intelligentsia.



Best

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: continuing on Wahhabism

"In any event, both Al Qaeda and Daesh members all were raised by Wahhabb madrassas."

Yes and no. In Syria under Hafez Al-Assad (and his son Bashar), as well as under Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Wahhabi madrassas were exceptionally rare. Both were Baathists (a semi-secular political posture), both were extremely suspicious of Saudi meddling, both used the harshest measures imaginable to curtail that influence (torture, mass killings, and more). There's some correlation between Wahhabi madrassas and leadership cadres of IS, but not as much as you assert within the ranks.

Some useful analysis is offered by Karen Armstrong. She gets most of the history right, and has spent considerable time learning the religious nuances underpinning the fight.

A simplistic 'headline only' read would suggest the Saudis are responsible for the current mess. Actually reading her article, however, presents this obvious truth:

"...IS represents a rebellion against the official Wahhabism of modern Saudi Arabia."

Armstrong, unfortunately, is sometimes accused of being an apologist. For our intelligence community, the proper way to destroy groups that are actual threats is to first understand them, then assess who is and is not behind them and why. For others who seek to erect foreign bogeymen to solidify their claims of power (Putin, Trump, many other American politicians), actually understanding the threat interferes with the goal of obtaining power locally. That set sees her as an apologist: understanding reality does not aid them in the slightest.

Which is why I'm commenting here on this subject so extensively. You're a fact-based, militant moderate seeking to defend important principles by invoking facts. If you and people like you who argue in good faith for realistic approaches can be misled on matters in this region, what is left to stop the miserable anti-knowledge crowd seeking power here? The way is left open for the irresponsible power-seekers, the sort who will manufacture threats in order to secure their own power (ie Netanyahu)?

Trump, today, is praying that a Muslim from one of the seven countries he's banned will attack America. If that happens, then he appears prescient, obtains much greater legitimacy, and democratic institutions will be hurt. Worse yet, there are many such Muslims who grasp this entirely, and who will happily play along to take power within their own communities (the more Trump & Co. attack them, the weaker their own 'legitimate' leaders will appear).

We must eliminate and isolate the Bin Ladens and their ideological progeny - while also fighting off those who want to exploit the Bin Ladens to achieve political and economic ends. It's not enough to eliminate "evil figures" (Saddam Hussein & friends) - it must be done in a certain, careful manner that is not actually a pretext to benefit other power centers at home (e.g., removing Saddam in a way calculated to benefit U.S. oil interests).

I have no intention of suggesting you like the Saudis (an impossibility), but only that you recognize the 'official' v. 'rebellion' status at work with IS (and Wahhabism generally). Doing so, one can sometimes make friends of the 'official' side to isolate the 'rebellion' side: in the fight against IS, we CAN make use of a broader cluster of allies, but only if we actually want to destroy them. If one really just wants local power, then destroying them isn't even a useful goal.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: I'm laughing at my terrible walls of text, knowing it's utterly inapproriate, but I hope you see my intention with this. YOU are important, and intellectuals like you are a bulwark against the irresponsible.

Netanyahu's longevity in Israel illustrates exactly how easily a corrupt, reactionary monster can take and hold power by exploiting fears. Trump, Putin, and many Republicans want to follow suit. They need us to mistake who is an enemy and what sort of enemy, because that enables and empowers their domestic ambitions. They want and need terrorists. They want and need people to link any convenient enemy to another convenient enemy (e.g., Saddam = Bin Laden).

They do not want anyone to really understand what is at work; they have billions of dollars to make and enduring political dynasties to establish by exploiting ignorance and fear.

"in theory you can have a second wife, if 100 rabbis sign a paper. I heard there was a guy trying that."

LOL...hadn't known, and wonder how far he'll get? But such pursuits are a fringe within Judaism. Within Islam, not quite so...

"Though it will take a lot more to convince me that the R'oil House has not been waging a determined war against us, for 70 years."
Well...the royal house has close links with a number of American oligarchs - you'll find their money attached to EVERY U.S. billionaire, one way or another. In that sense, perhaps you're right. But there's a lot more of their money in the Facebook/Google/Warren Buffett/Elon Musk side than is common knowledge - the money that went to Murdoch is well-known, but unremarkable compared to the full picture.

The situation is more like the relationship between British and French aristocrats - trading and lending money to one another in one instance, declaring war in another. Those are not enduring loyalties, merely trades. None of which are intended to serve of goal of establishing a diamond-shaped, enduring liberal democracy - but any one of which might inadvertently support precisely that outcome (e.g., French feudal aristocrats did help one fledgling democracy get its start - which could never have happened if the revolutionaries had asserted their hostility to feudalism per se as a unifying cause).

George Carty said...

But they are more about the trauma of losing their brightest kids to the big city, every year.

How much of that resentment is down to the question of "if my children move away to the city, who will care for me in my old age?" This would be a real tangible fear for the mainly older voters who voted for Trump (and for Brexit in the UK, which was supported most strongly by older residents of provincial England).

donzelion said...

Back to the current post...

Michael Bryan and SandyM are correct: Arizona is one of the maverick red-states that has enacted citizen commissions. Since doing so, their congressional representatives have better reflected the actual demographics of the state - 5 Reps, 4 Dems in 2016. Republicans elsewhere see this as horrifying for obvious reasons: far better to have 7 Reps and 2 Dems. That requires denouncing Republican moderates (e.g., Charles Munger Jr., an ardent Republican moderate and mastermind/bankroller of the California redistricting effort).

We can and should respect Republicans who are committed to science, knowledge, and the national interest, even if we disagree with most of their policies. Alas, many of them will ultimately follow George Will: acquiescing and ultimately supporting the brutes to retain their place and livelihood, even while occasionally criticizing them. The brutes may hate 'knowledge castes' per se - but are always willing to exploit them to maintain their power.

donzelion said...

George Carty: ...But they are more about the trauma of losing their brightest kids to the big city, every year. - a fair comment this:

How much of that resentment is down to the question of "if my children move away to the city, who will care for me in my old age?" This would be a real tangible fear for the mainly older voters who voted for Trump (and for Brexit in the UK, which was supported most strongly by older residents of provincial England).

You'll see the same apprehensions in America: Latinos, Asians (esp. Filipinos and Vietnamese), and other minority immigrants figure prominently in the caring professions here, especially the set that will provide primary care and nurturing for those who need it.

Even the Scots I know who opposed Brexit vehemently still experience considerable ambivalence and anxiety about Poles, Slovaks, and other European immigrants who have come to dominate the care-giving positions, and feel a certain resentment at their best and brightest moving elsewhere (e.g., London, Edinburgh, etc.). I can only imagine how much more extensive that ambivalence would be in England's provinces (the polls suggest that ambivalence became anger - but I am not sufficiently well-versed in the affairs of England's provinces to know how much further it goes).

George Carty said...

You'll see the same apprehensions in America: Latinos, Asians (esp. Filipinos and Vietnamese), and other minority immigrants figure prominently in the caring professions here, especially the set that will provide primary care and nurturing for those who need it.

I was thinking that they expected (and hoped) for unpaid care delivered by their own family members, not paid-for care delivered by professionals (of whatever ethnic origin).

donzelion said...

Locum: "Both in the US & the EU, it is duplicitous pretence like this that proves that western democracy is dead or dying."

Democracy is neither dead nor dying. It is certainly under attack. It is also exceptionally robust.

The threat is not from those who in good faith seek to achieve the best outcomes for themselves and their country by whatever strategy, but from those who in bad faith shrug at broader goals, using whatever tactics of fear and ignorance best help them. Bad faith actors always fixate obsessively upon 'enemies' - making use of the faction they most abhor to expand their own power. The reactionaries are masters of judo; the responsible players had best learn how to do it.

That Israel, a profoundly well-educated country full of enlightened and quite impressive people, could be co-opted by Netanyahu - who runs as an 'enemy' of Hamas and terror generally, but who has utterly, laughably failed to defeat that enemy - illustrates the problem. Where Barak, Peres, and other Israelis were determined to defeat their enemies, Netanyahu understands how to use them to retain power. Hamas, meanwhile, knows how to use Netanyahu to defeat other Palestinian contenders. Two reactionary, monstrous strands interacting with each other - holding responsible, realistic, civic-minded populaces hostage. It can happen if ignorance and fear are used as tools, rather than challenged.

"Pretending to be pro-Law & pro-Justice, they...encourage their followers to don masks & break windows.."

That's nonsense. Responsible protest is encouraged; rioting is not. The rioters are more often mercenary outsiders seeking to destroy the protest itself, than believers in any cause.

RFYork said...

I am not so sure that your third point about minimum overlap is a good thing. Since Federal elections are generally better attended, perhaps overlapping local, state and Federal voting districts might be a good idea. Particularly, if we schedule all such elections on the same day.

I know neither your proposal or mine are perfect, but I think mine should be discussed. And, I think the political powers that be everywhere will like mine far less than your.

Richard York

donzelion said...

George Carly: "I was thinking that they expected (and hoped) for unpaid care delivered by their own family members, not paid-for care delivered by professionals (of whatever ethnic origin)."

I suspect you're right. But I also think visible evidence of an "outsider" caring for a family member 'colors' the narrative, so to speak. There is significant fear that someone outside one's own family may ultimately be called to change an elder's diaper. That fear expands the more obvious the 'outsider' becomes (e.g., Indians/Pakistanis in Britain, Poles and Slovaks more recently).

Death itself is the object of fear, along with physical degradation and guilt at failing to tend and nurture our own as best we can. But fear has a way of latching onto every other observable factor, intensifying when 'foreigners' do the nurturing for our elders that we ourselves fail to do. Add in competition for limited services ("why should THOSE PEOPLE get health care? My Mum and Dad have to wait weeks for it - I don't want them getting in line and taking there spot...") - add in bad faith populists (e.g., FoxNews / Trump) - and there you have it.

Roosevelt's quote - "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" - is often taken at half value. Yes, 'fear' is the only thing we should fear - and fear itself isn't necessarily that intimidating - we need only stand up, acknowledge it, resist it. BUT we do need to respect how powerful it is. We really should be afraid of fear; that focuses our efforts to oppose it.

David Brin said...

donzelion I am enjoying your perceptive and informative missives. They do affect my image of the situation! Which is what should happen in the worldview of any sane person. Yet, time and again I find you drawing excessive conclusions. e.g from the fact that ISIS and Al Qaeda were rebellions against the R’oil House.

Yes to that. But rebellions occur in contexts, fundamental presumptions. And while ISIS and AQ rebelled against a specific family and perhaps officially from Wahhabbism, the fundamental contexts and assumptions of both groups have been utterly Wahhabbist. The textbooks in ISIS schools were ORDERED during the war from S.A. and imported into Syria and Iraq and passed to teachers and students with a few changes to a few pages.

Netanyahu's longevity in Israel illustrates another fruit of the R’oil House. For forty years, the Labor Party idealists in Israel offered peace on generous terms, even after winning an empire. The Saudis had only to relent and (1) allow Palestinian families to resettle with generous aid, wherever they liked in the Arab World and (2) use some oil wealth to entice all sides to build a prosperous region. (3) Admit it is permissible for there to be a Jewish state.

Instead, they allowed very few Palestinians to leave festering camps, so that they could serve as pitiable victims of Israeli cruelty. Even though EQUAL numbers of Jews were kicked out of Arab lands and their homes could have been given to palestinians. Imperfect solution? Sure, tragic and partial only. Like the exchange of muslims and hindus when India broke up. But decades later, it worked. But it was the “r’oils who forbade any such attempt…

…till something happened. The Harredim were out-breeding the secular, European Jews who first established Israeil. And under pressure of relentless threats of utter death (e.g. in every Wahabbist textbook) Israelis gradually became just another, angry, middle easter nation. And compromise drifted away. And yet, you blame Israelis, when Netanyahu is actually more moderate than ANY Arab leader. Double standards. (BTW I don't like him.)

No, sir. There are many ways in which YOU need your horizons and fact-trove broadened. Just sayin.

David Brin said...

George Carty I have elsewhere talked about how every June, the high schools in Red America - the heart of the town - sees its best and brightest scurry away as fast as possible to bright lights. I deem that likely to be the BIGGEST trauma and source of hate. We steal their children.

RFYoks, today in most areas state Senate and Assembly districts are deliberaetly made to overlap as much as possible. I deem that crazy! Even without my suggestion which would eliminate gerrymandering in two houses, with three sentences and no commissions… the state senate districts SHOULD combine you with different neighbors than you share for assembly!


On this occasion, locum deserves no answer other than to say his screech is like the bottom of a coal mine calling a scuffed shoe “black.”

So some senior dems liked one local candidate better than another EEEEEEEEEK! To compare that to the satanic and volcanic levels of GOP cheating is the sign of a truly loony person.

Tim H. said...

Somewhat off-topic, have you noticed the resemblance of Trump's "style" of governance with a young person's first time on a bicycle? If he's capable of learning, life may become more interesting (FFCIH!), possibly for the Rs. Look for impeachment sooner if The Donald shows signs of learning the job.

David Brin said...

Tim H ... or if he ruins the brand. Which should be worthless already. Except for loyalty similar to that shown by customers of Strychnine n'Razorblades Brand Apples.

Marshall Boice said...

"We must go forth and crush every worldview that does not accept diversity and tolerance!"

60's hippies responded to intolerance in a similar fasion;

"DEATH TO ALL FANATICS!" Lol

Robert said...

One of the oddities I've noticed with one of my Trumpter friends (I have so few friends that I am not about to cast out friends who supported Trump. If I did that, I would only ever have online friends, and would likely go even more insane and then kill myself at some point because solitude sucks) is that they so dislike the thought of majority government telling them how to live their lives. But they have no problem with minority government (ie, politicians from rural regions) telling urban dwellers how to live THEIR lives.

This is perhaps my greatest failing as a social libertarian. I cannot comprehend how people have a right to tell other people how to live their lives. But I also cannot comprehend how people have the right to through their actions hurt others - thus while the trueborn Libertarians see property rights as supreme and feel a business owner can discriminate if they so choose because people can just choose to go elsewhere... I point out how that won't work.

And then I have those same Libertarians claim "but it won't be that way. You're just doing what-if scenarios!" as if they are not doing the same. Because the problem is people with money are people with power. And they can buy off police and postal services and the like to hurt minorities and force the minorities to not be able to shop around and end up being screwed over by the rich person's businesses that treat them as crap... because they will get away with it. Because they are rich. Because this is human nature. Because there are just enough people out there who are fucking bastards who willingly piss on others because they can.

Trump is the culmination of my pessimism. He is my proof that the worse shit that I suspect people would do if they can get away with would in fact come about. Trump and people like him are why Libertarianism is a Utopian ideal that never will work. Ever.

I wish I was wrong.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Off-topic, but I just had the pleasure of seeing "Hidden Figures" with my teenage daughter and her best friend, both of whom are every bit as math-nerdy as I am. Their rapt excitement gave an added dimension to the enjoyment of the film. It was amusing that my daughter's friend kept asking my wife "Does he get back safe?" about John Glenn, apparently not knowing that he ran for president 20 years later or just died recently in his eighties. But, I was ruefully glad that the girls had no concept of what the crisis was when the black woman drank coffee poured from the same pot that the white people were drinking from.


There comes a time in every father's life, when he looks at his little girl, and realizes...he must change the world for her.



LarryHart said...

Robert:

I wish I was wrong.


You will be in 78 days.

I wish I was wrong

David Brin said...

LH: 78 days? Now you've got me nervous.

RobH: "Trump and people like him are why Libertarianism is a Utopian ideal that never will work. Ever."

Depends on the words and nomenclature. If we must come up with another word for Adam Smith and for promoting freedom as both a good and THE pragmatic tool for positive sum arenas, then we must.

I have ministered to libertarians and they listen and sometimes nod in understanding, when I point out that:

- property can be as toxic as too much of any other good thing, oxygen, water, food...
- The major enemy of freedom has always been inheritance obsessed lords.
- Those would be lords spend plenty to promote hatred of "government" when Smith knew civil servants can counterbalance oligarchy.

- Government CAN sour! or get thick and cloying! And e need libertarian skepticism to always push for the less burdensome solution to any problem. But the right's solution is to deny the existence of problems.

- There is a simple first order rule of thumb. Does this intervention increase the overall number of capable, skilled, vigorous, confident and eager COMPETITORS in wildly varied markets? What Smith and even Hayek demanded? Does it amplify opportunity? Does it keep helping failed competitors to try something else and try again? Then libertarians should be for it - schools, health, boost all kids...

Does it try to equalized outcomes and cancel our competitive natures? Then something in our libertarian spirit should growl.


Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin

"Does it try to equalized outcomes and cancel our competitive natures? Then something in our libertarian spirit should growl."

"equalized outcomes?? - yes I would be against that

"Less unequal" or "more equal" - those HELP the competitive nature by stopping an early lucky break from finishing "the game"

Imagine playing Monopoly when everybody starts off with $400 but the first "Chance Card" says everybody gives $10,000 to the holder of this card

That would NOT be a very good game! -

Or the Harry Potter Quidditch game where the Golden Snitch is worth so many points (150) that the rest of the game simply does not matter

Life is more important than a game (or is the best game ever) and the same applies - having one player win too much REDUCES the competitiveness

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: I am glad you're enjoying these ugly walls of text.

"But rebellions occur in contexts, fundamental presumptions. And while ISIS and AQ rebelled against a specific family and perhaps officially from Wahhabbism, the fundamental contexts and assumptions of both groups have been utterly Wahhabbist."

IS is ultimately a Wahhabist strand. AQ is a bit more heterodox; originally, Zawahiri came from a totally distinctive militant tradition, but lacked OBL's charisma (and money). Today, there's precious little in common theologically among the different AQ factions (in the Arabian Peninsula, in West Africa, and what remains in Syria that hasn't been coopted by IS).

"Netanyahu's longevity in Israel illustrates another fruit of the R’oil House. For forty years, the Labor Party idealists in Israel offered peace on generous terms, even after winning an empire."
Land-for-peace is hardly generous, but it was realistic. Sadat paid in blood for taking the deal.

But ethnic cleansing simply cannot be an acceptable resolution. It was unacceptable when the Spanish offered Jews a choice to remain Spanish - but not Jewish - or to leave in exile (or to confront even less appropriate forms of compulsion). It is unacceptable when the same choice is put to any other people. Israel has not done so with the 20% of its population that is Israeli Arab (Palestinian) citizens. But the terms of the bargain remain nuanced and in flux, and the vast majority of Palestinians have never been parties to that deal.

We'll have to see whether Israel becomes a binational state, an apartheid state, or a state that perpetrates and legitimizes ethnic cleansing. Certainly, the crazy American Christians favor the last point (it was a Biblical tradition after all), but I am hoping Israelis are more civilized than that. Netanyahu challenges that hope.

"Admit it is permissible for there to be a Jewish state."
They have admitted that, albeit too little, too late.

"Even though EQUAL numbers of Jews were kicked out of Arab lands and their homes could have been given to palestinians."
The brutes who did the kicking out so often became the folks who took power, and alas, once one learns how useful brutality can be to amass power, one often remains a brute. Labor and Likud both had quite a few brutes of their own who rose to prominence (Labor at least tried to rein them in).

But not always. Rabin (known to Palestinians as 'the bonebreaker') - and Barak ('I killed Arabs with my own two hands') - were significantly more capable of making peace than Netanyahu's ilk.

I love Israelis, I love Palestinians - and I am consistently exasperated by the folks that both of them set up in power. Same goes for America. Bush Jr. was bad enough, but Trump?

Yet I also know how broad the 'nuke 'em all and let God sort 'em out' segment of America is - not just crazy Armageddonists, but also hicks and ignorant/fearful sort who see Syrian toddlers only as possible time bombs. And speaking of nukes -

"Like the exchange of muslims and hindus when India broke up. But decades later, it worked."
Not exactly the happiest border. This is an experiment that is still underway.

"There are many ways in which YOU need your horizons and fact-trove broadened. Just sayin."
And this is why I keep coming back here. ;-)

And indeed, am considering a move to Orange County. Know any Democrats that might be looking for a competent lawyer to lend a hand to their efforts there?

TCB said...

On Netanyahu: not many remember this, but his brother Yonatan led the raid on Entebbe, Uganda which freed over 250 hostages of a hijacking, who were being held there by Palestinian separatists and Idi Amin's troops. Yonatan Netanyahu was the only Israeli commando killed in the raid, and is a national hero. So, anyway, I assume some of that star dust rubs off on Bibi Netanyahu, in the eyes of his supporters. Say what you will about him (I don't like him either!) but even his political foes know for a fact that Netanyahu is serious about protecting Israel (however misguided and authoritarian his approach may be).

TCB said...

Re: "how every June, the high schools in Red America - the heart of the town - sees its best and brightest scurry away as fast as possible to bright lights. I deem that likely to be the BIGGEST trauma and source of hate. We steal their children."

I read a BRILLIANT comment on Reddit a few weeks ago on this very topic. It expands on what Dr. Brin says. Link here, but I'll quote the whole thing anyway.

Everything that follows is from a redditor called AttackPug:

"Po' folk rely on people the way rich folk rely on money. Since money is never a solution, the only thing to rely on is social connections, preferably local ones. For example, poor mom's car breaks down. Calling the tow truck is a no go. I think my last tow cost nearly $100. Paying for something like AAA is a rich people solution, so no go. Instead she calls Uncle Jim, who can at least come get her and the baby from the side of the road, if nothing else.

Likewise if she's about to get evicted, but has $0 in the bank, she calls Aunt Judy, or Mom, or somebody, hoping for a place to stay, at least for a little while, just to stay off the street.

Nobody likes to be called up only when you want something from them. So these social ties have to be constantly tended and strengthened, indefinitely, just in case of a someday problem. You never know when you need to beg $100 off someone, so you need to be on good terms long before that ever happens. Most poor people will not be doing this in some scheming way, they only know that you need to stay tight with your friends and family. That's just how life is lived.

These social networks are the number one survival method the poor rely on, since money is forever a problem. So they put a lot of time into maintaining them.
Wealthier folk can rely on their financial resources to get them out of binds, and can afford to be less attached to a local social circle. This is why the poor resent it so much when one of their own does well but then moves away. You've become somebody they can rely on, except then you took that from them, leaving them no better off. Whatever of their own resources went into helping you in childhood have been a waste. At the least your success reflected well on them, but then you made sure to keep your distance from "those people". They don't even gain a bit of social status from you. You used them and threw them away. But I digress.

Reddit's unspoken attitude here is that the po' be yappin', like it's some ignorant, self-defeating behavior that wastes time, and accomplishes nothing. Great minds discuss ideas, the stupid poors discuss people. As if the poor were just trying to create some fruitless Kardashian-esque existence for themselves. They are not. They are building, maintaining, and tapping into the one reliable resource they have, essentially crowdsourcing their survival prospects. They are resource pooling. This is also the fundamental utility of the church, and explains its true meaning in the lives of the poor.

So the divide between rich teens and poor teens. Constant chatting is how you maintain social bonds. A 16 year old may not grasp this. But then again, she may grasp it quite well. If you've got no people, you've got nothing. She was the toddler in that car when mom called Uncle Jim, after all. It's not rocket science.
I'm hearing a lot of Redditors kind of talk around this, but none of them land on it. The poor are using the internet for the main thing it appears to be good for, which is strengthening the social networks that allow them to get by. There's a lot more to it than games."

dennisd said...

@TCB
The Reddit commenter, AttackPug, is describing 'social capital' which requires reciprocal maintenance to retain (or grow) its value. Smart phones and the Internet make it easier than ever before to help out family and friends. This is especially true for the 'formerly poor' who have moved onward and upward to the more prosperous (liberal, progressive, blue) big cities. Many of the formerly poor remain coonected to their 'red state' networks. They post bail when needed, help pay a friend's rent, or make sure a utility bill is paid.

Why do some social networks stay intact and others don't? I don't have an answer for you.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

LH: 78 days? Now you've got me nervous.



A reference to Robert's assertions that His Illegitimacy will be impeached in his first 100 days.

I have to give Robert (and matthew) a certain amount of prediction credibility, as they predicted Trump's win when I thought Hillary would get 400 electoral votes and bring along the Senate and House. So I'm reluctant to dismiss him outright, especially as I would love to see him be correct. However, the leaps of faith to even more dire conclusions than I entertain (and I'm quite the pessimist myself) lead me to call "Whoa, let's see if the 100 days thing happens before jumping to all sorts of other conclusions." And I see no evidence that the Republican controlled congress has any interest in dumping Trump before May.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

Life is more important than a game (or is the best game ever) and the same applies - having one player win too much REDUCES the competitiveness


Life differs from a game in that life has to go on. There's no point at which the game is over and no longer matters.

If you want to be very cynical, you can argue that life is rough and everyone eventually dies, so losing the game is just the way things work. However, in a game, there is a winner (or winners) who get to feel good about the ending. In life, the winners have to keep on living too. It never ends.

If real life was like Monopoly, and the Koch Brothers actually did end up owning all of the money, what would happen next?

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

I love Israelis, I love Palestinians - and I am consistently exasperated by the folks that both of them set up in power. Same goes for America. Bush Jr. was bad enough, but Trump?


I suspect that many of the cheating mechanisms by which Bush and Trump came to power have analogues in Israel and Palestine as well.

TCB said...

@ dennisd, yep, AttackPug's point was indeed that social capital is what you depend on when you have no other capital; AttackPug's post was in respons to a comment on the difference between how the poor use telephones (and internet) compared to the more wealthy. Poor people make lots of phone calls in a small and local social circle; the well-off make fewer calls and fewer of those are to their immediate circle. Likewise, to the poor, Facebook serves as an adjunct to this social-glue methodology; even the Farmville game crap ties in to it, it seems.

You say: "Many of the formerly poor remain connected to their 'red state' networks."

Yep, a special breed of saint. My son-in-law is one of these; from a terrible childhood, he became a crackerjack computer-security wonk and put his brothers through college.

LarryHart said...

TCB:

You say: "Many of the formerly poor remain connected to their 'red state' networks."

Yep, a special breed of saint.


Donald Trump represents the diametric opposite of this characteristic. He shows a veneer of loyalty to those who can be of use to him, but drops them like a hot potato the moment they no longer have immediate tangible value to him. In fact, he's so anxious to drop them that he can't help visibly showing that he's "moved on" even before that moment comes. He can't even fake the sincerity that a truly professional con man requires.




LarryHart said...

An especially poignant line from Robert Harris's novel "Conspirata", second of his ancient Rome trilogy. The narrator is describing the ending of the year 64 BC, but might just as well be talking about this past New Years Eve 2016. Janus, of course, is the two-headed Roman god whose name is borne by the month of January.


The last night of the year is often a melancholy time. Janus looks backward as well as forward and sometimes each prospect seems equally unappealing. But that evening I felt especially sorry for myself.

David Brin said...

donzelion yet again you proffer the double standard. Israel’s neighbors (even Jordan) practice cruel discriminations that would elicit screeches and howls, if Israelis did 1% as much. Those Arabs still in Israel, who had the guts to ignore the imprecations of the Grand Mufti, in 1948 and stay in their homes, have done better than average folk in any neighboring Arab state. Yes, Israeli Arabs suffer some (illegal) discrimination. But they are full citizens and courts back them up.

The great Arab powers who failed to crush Israel militarily time and again (and who ignore the blatant theological implications) hoped that they could rouse the whole world against Israel by spending heaps of oil money on propaganda and keeping Palestinian refugees in sweltering camps, instead of just giving them the homes of Jews who left Arab lands under pressure. It’s been a partial success, as European youths hold Jews to moral standards never expected of Muslims.

(That is, in itself, a terribly racist insult to Muslims.)

To be clear, I oppose Netanyahu and so do the Israelis who want a secularly relaxed state. Or who can look beyond the nose on their face. But siege conditions have allowed a siege mentality to dominate - in the face of relentless howls for Jewish blood that CURRENTLY pour across Arab airwaves and can be seen in Arab textbooks. I will believe Saudi denials when their textbooks cease to be classed as state secrets. Netanyahu is a product and a construct of those shortsighted policies.

Look up the Hashemite Prince Feisal, (played by Alec Guiness in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA.) The Hashemites wanted to welcome the Jews of Europe home! Set up universities all over the middle east, in exchange for handing them Turkish crown lands, which were so vast, they would have sufficed. Oh, didn’t know about any of that? The Saudis etc crushed the Hashemites.

The fundamental question is “Why didn’t you just welcome us home? Fellow children of Abraham and semites, crushed and brutalized by those European-fascist Sons of Japhet. You could have simply welcomed us home.”

As for the Armageddonists, American Fundies are amazed when Israelis and Jews treat them warily. Many Israelis bless the Al Aqsa Mosque and want it preserved so that no one will rebuild the Damnd Temple and go back to sacrificing goats. The fundies, of course, want that, since soon thereafter the world will end!

— Oh… Orange County is vast and varied. What part?

George Carty said...

David Brin:

I have elsewhere talked about how every June, the high schools in Red America - the heart of the town - sees its best and brightest scurry away as fast as possible to bright lights. I deem that likely to be the BIGGEST trauma and source of hate. We steal their children.

TCB (or rather AttackPug) seems to have understood my question in a way that donzelion seems not to have. Many poor parents no doubt regard their children as investments of a sort, and are terrified that they will move way and not be in the locality to care for them when they need it in their old age.

I'm guessing that in the United States, black and Hispanic parents are less impacted by this fear than white ones, as they tend to live in urban areas where it is easier to build social networks that aren't family-centric.

David Brin said...

TCB thanks for sharing that insightful reddit riff on life as a poor rural person. What he doesn’t allude to is the dark side, where you form social bonds in part based on whom you exclude. Including excluding nerds or the unpopular or other races… and that was murderously done for a very long time.

LarryHart said...

George Carty:

TCB (or rather AttackPug) seems to have understood my question in a way that donzelion seems not to have. Many poor parents no doubt regard their children as investments of a sort, and are terrified that they will move way and not be in the locality to care for them when they need it in their old age.


Then it is ironic that these people vote so overwhelmingly Republican, as those Republicans in office serve the agenda of corporations who have contributed so much to the meme that individuals should move (or be moved) to where the jobs are at the moment, with no thought to family or community ties.

Tony Fisk said...

Doubly ironic, since 'these people' are clearly used to thinking in terms of social systems. Perhaps not large enough a system? For all that they are actually a substantial part of the online population, I suspect many of the older generation don't really get online social media.

For triple irony, it was Thatcher who claimed there was no such thing as society.

Hmm. I wonder if reliance on a social net comes to be viewed as a poverty marker, and a stigma?

LarryHart said...

@Tony Fisk,

Dr Brin has indeed noted that there is a tendency for successful people to insist, and perhaps to really believe, that they earned their success completely on their own. Recall the whole "We built it" meme of the 2012 Republican convention. Shunning a social network might be a way of asserting that one does not need anyone else, and therefore has no need to make himself useful to anyone else.

I remember reading a while back that many unpaid student loans, amounts as low as $2000, were owed by people who had become successful doctors and lawyers. It wasn't that they couldn't afford the money--the issue seemed to be that paying back such small sums was somehow beneath their dignity. To the extent that that is the case, I wonder if there is also some psychological need not to admit having to borrow money to get where they are.

The "no such thing as society" didn't originate with Reagan or Thatcher, although it doesn't surprise me that they tapped into it. Ayn Rand, for one, was saying that very thing at least 20 years prior to Maggie.


donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: Oh… Orange County is vast and varied. What part?
Possibly Anaheim/Anaheim Hills, but perhaps further south as well. Not certain yet.

re Israel: really hadn't meant to segue into a discussion of whose to blame for what, or which standards to apply where. I blame the bullies, Arab and Jewish, as I find them. Netanyahu is one of them, part of the problem, rather than the solution. Bullies can prevail even in liberal democracies by exploiting fears of minorities. (Though I'll gladly chat with you a bit about the descendants of Sheriff Hussayn of Mecca offline some day; there are a lot of nuances one should bear in mind.)

"The fundamental question is “Why didn’t you just welcome us home? Fellow children of Abraham and semites, crushed and brutalized by those European-fascist Sons of Japhet. You could have simply welcomed us home.”"
Up until Balfour, they did welcome Jews home far more often than they complained about it. Just as they welcomed Armenian refugees fleeing Ottoman (and far worse Kemalist) persecution. But it's one thing to welcome your cousins home - and something else entirely to accept him taking over your home for his own.

But strategically, the great threat to the region isn't IS, nor is it Wahhabism. It's well-meaning, poorly educated, easily misled Americans 'seeking to fix the root of the problem.' For them, when they hear "IS is evil - IS is Wahhabi - Wahhabism comes from Saudi - Saudis created IS" - they follow the same logic that made it possible for a number of U.S. oil interests (and land owners in a handful of red states) to justify invading Iraq "to protect us from the imminent threat."

The folks who stand to make trillions of dollars from removing the Saudis salivate at the discussion, have done the math, and are working on selling it. Iran is their first target, which if they can keep offline, oil could creep back up to $100/barrel (and their leveraged assets tied to their land holdings will recover to closer to where they were in 2007). If they can get Saudi offline too - then that goes to $500/barrel (and they make many trillions of dollars).

So when they follow our debate, what they're looking for is evidence as to whether or not anyone becomes a stickler over certain points, and how to brush those folks aside. In 2003, there were some of us who protested that the evidence of WMD was weak and contradictory, the evidence of a Saddam=bin Laden link was laughable (much weaker than bin Laden's U.S. ties) - and that fact that so many millions of Americans believed both was a product of fears about the region being exploited by unsavory bullies. Trump is significantly less savory than that collection of punks.

David Brin said...

donzel there are some science fiction clubs in the LA/Orange area. The biggest is LASFS.

Till recently they owned a house in LA, just sold it. See: http://www.lasfs.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=9&Itemid=357

I recommend being near a university and getting on the mailing list of all the department seminars and clubs. Good luck.

"For them, when they hear "IS is evil - IS is Wahhabi - Wahhabism comes from Saudi - Saudis created IS" - they follow the same logic that made it possible for a number of U.S. oil interests (and land owners in a handful of red states) to justify invading Iraq "to protect us from the imminent threat."

Sorry, that's a huge leap. The Bushes took us to war to protect their masters from Saddam. We were basically rented mercenaries in 91. Then Junior got it into his head to go after Saddam... and yes, Bush-Cheney companies were the biggest winners from all that. But no one (except me) expected the #2 winner to be Iran. Least of all the Saudis, who W thought he was helping, by toppling Saddam.

Sorry, I do not see anyone doing your scenario. Take Iran offline? Sure, the present gang around DT are all mullah-baiters. See my next blog! But Although the Kremlin is now the main puppet master, replacing the Saudis, the latter still have hugely powerful friends in the GOP.

donzelion said...

George: "Many poor parents no doubt regard their children as investments of a sort, and are terrified that they will move way and not be in the locality to care for them when they need it in their old age."

I took your point, and was trying to link an answer to a different question - if most rural people experience cities as 'the place they lose their kids to' - why should they be attracted to racially loaded language? What other fears are at work, and how do they link together?

I reject a premise that rural Americans are more or less racist than urban Americans (at least, without some stronger evidence than I've seen). Seems more likely that there are fear pathways that are already activated - consciousness of mortality - which are easily turned towards various sorts of fears...add in a media outlet that profits from manufacturing fear, and they'll find targets to direct it at...suddenly, murderers and rapists are flooding America, we must build a wall to keep them out.

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

Agh, just wrote a response to you Dr. Brin, realized it was much too long, and deleted it. Nutshell version:

(1) Bankers trade with their enemies as well as their friends, and the wise do well not to read too much into whom they deal with (at least not until they can read the terms of the deals). So to in intelligence circles. That typifies the Bush/Saudi relationship far more than 'master/slave' - whether in the 70s, 80s, '91, or '03.

(2) The Saudis shared your fear of Iran benefiting from the Iraq '03 War. Then again, they've been afraid of Iran since the 7th century.

(3) "the Saudis...still have hugely powerful friends in the GOP."
The 9/11 Victims Bill suggests that the friendships aren't particularly strong, even if the friends themselves may be.

George Carty said...

donzelion:

I took your point, and was trying to link an answer to a different question - if most rural people experience cities as 'the place they lose their kids to' - why should they be attracted to racially loaded language? What other fears are at work, and how do they link together?

Three possible reasons come to mind:

1) Because a lot of them believe that support will most reliably come from blood relatives, and the difference between "put your own family first" and racism is really only a difference of scale.
2) Because non-whites live overwhelmingly in cities, and anti-metropolitan prejudice can easily mutate into prejudice against the people who live in cities.
3) Because their car-dominated way of life increases their exposure to right-wing propaganda media – talk radio in the US, or tabloid newspapers (whose headlines are often prominently displayed at gas stations) in the UK – while leaving them with fewer counterexamples to such propaganda.

Tacitus2 said...

City Mouse/Country Mouse

Guess I have gone the other direction. I was young (can't really say I ever "grew up") in what passes in the Midwest as a major urban area. I left after Med School and have been living and working in smaller communities ever since. My three kids have all gone to school in mid sized towns and are now living in places even smaller than I do.

Yesterday I drove up to my old stompin' grounds. There are always a few things worth doing there although this was an obligatory family visit. But I look around and get zero sense I would want to live there.

Its a matter of choice. The inner portions are dingy, bleak places. Grifters - apparently organized - stand on strategic street corners with hand made cardboard signs. When did we get to the point where organized begging began in America? But I still prefer that to monotonous, bland, repetitive suburbia.

Small town life. I literally know the Butcher, the Baker and if we had a Candlestick maker I'd know her too. As I turned the corner onto my street one of the local disabled guys strolled by. He does not beg, although he does pester everyone to give him odd jobs with lawn work and such. I know him, his interests, his mom's health status.

This has little if anything to do with pigment or with talk radio. I have my preferences, sure. But I think the concept of people having a natural "circle" size has much merit. Your estimable qualities aside virtual pals don't sub for that. Maybe in some parallel life I could be comfortable with my street of brownstones or my cul de sac.

Tacitus

Carl M. said...

@LarryHart.

If a county is part of two districts, then you have two partial counties. If it is completely within one district, then you have one. If the districts lines are all county boundaries, then the number of partial counties equals the number of counties.

That ideal would be rare due to differences in population, of course. But a Libertarian activist came rather close designing districts for NC a few years ago that fit one man one vote limits. David would have approved of the result.

Robert said...

More proof that so-called Republican conservatives are adverse to facts and reality.

Republicans suppressed a nonpartisan report that found tax breaks for the rich does not stimulate the economy. Of course, people will say "oh, we can't trust that" but consider. This was published in Forbes. Not some left-wing journal.

Rob H.

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David S said...

One thing that has been missing from the gerrymandering discussions is minority representation within parties. If a region has five districts and the population is 80% democrat and 20% republican, then one should expect 4 democrats and one republican. All of the current discussion have been about how to achieve this.

But this hasn't been the entirety of the redistricting discussion. If the region is 50% white, 25% Latino and 25% black and the four democrats are consistently white, there have been calls to redistrict to fix this.


Smurphs said...

Just commenting on a few threads back about Orson Scott Card.

It's been years since I read Ender's Game, but I never thought the government was a democratic one. Everything devoted to the war effort, inducting children at the age of 6. Seems pretty autocratic and militaristic to me.

A few years later I just stooped reading OSC, not because of his view (i was reading for entertainment, not education), but because he stopped editing himself. The stories got bogged down in what I call keyboard diarehha. Thank Gog our host does not have the same affliction!

I did read Empire a few years ago, someone gave it to me. I remember thinking while reading... hmm, this makes no sense... hmm, that was silly... hmmm, that logic doesn't follow.

Eventually, when he got to the whiz-bang mechs, I realized what was going on. He was trying to sell a movie script. It was all about the fighting. Logic didn't matter.

Smurphs said...

Sorry about all the typos above. I'm my own worst editor. ;)

LarryHart said...

@David S,

In my opinion, democracy works best when the alignments are fluid on different issues. When I may vote against my Republican neighbor on issues like abortion, but vote with him on issues like fiscal responsibility. So I'd probably vote with the majority on some issues and with the minority on others.

Democracy becomes more dysfunctional the more rigid the party lines become. When the same voters break along lines of black/white, poor/rich, sexual freedom/sexual constraint, etc, then you end up with one group of citizens who gets its way on everything and another which never does, and they battle fiercely for the few marginal votes necessary to make their side the "winner".

If (say) the Jewish vote roughly approximates the general electorate on most issues, then I don't feel any need to have a Jewish representative to feel that my interests are served. But if it's a case that Jews, as a class, will either be a winner or a loser, then you're darned right I want my congressman to be one. And every other identity group does as well. And in the long run, that doesn't work.

raito said...

It'll be interesting to see what happens with the gerrymandering issue in WI. Will it get heard become SCOTUS before an appointment (something the GOP doesn't want, banking on the court's makeup when it's nine again). If the decision is upheld (WI is gerrymandered) who does the redistricting?

As far as election fraud, apparently the Pres thinks there's 3 million federal criminals out there. Shouldn't he be doing something about that? I still want to know the outcome of the uncounted votes.

Carl M.,

Media markets do still matter in some places. Such as western WI, which is served by Twin Cities media, which has little interest in affairs across the border. Those are some of the same places in the state with lousy internet. I suspect there's other places with the same problem.

Dr. Brin,

As an aside, where I grew up, the nerds were always king. There was plenty of bullying, times being what they were, but never because of being smart. But then, most of the local University's professor's had their children in my schools. I can't count on my hands and feet the number I *know* have advanced degrees of one sort or another. College was just the natural expectation, and the graduation rate was something like 95% (it's lower now). And even then, the most successful have left. I was the weird guy on both the football team and math team.


TCB,

It is unquestionable that the best thing about the internet is that it allows people to come together.

Tony Fisk,

Might it not also be that at the top of the economy, the social net also becomes more important than raw financial power? If all your friends also have more money than they need, why would they help you in your endeavors if not for the personal ties you ahve with them? Many of those endeavors are either too big or too risky for even the elites.

And there are lots of old people who do understand social media, but to them it's just like the old town used to be. You knew everyone, and all the gossip was known. Just the circle is larger.

donzelion,

And some of us predicted that Iraq had a hundred groups just waiting to explode if the lid came off in the form of removing Hussein and the Baathists. And that those groups weren't interested in western Democracy. But no one was listening.

David S said...

Smurfs, OSC's Empire was written to be a tie-in to a video game.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_(Card_novel)


David Brin said...

donzel to deny close Bush-Saudi ties is hysterically funny. W said :”Prince Bandy helped to raise me!” He partied on princely yachts, back in his drunken days and surely there are embarrassing photos, adding another layer. Blackmail. That last bit isn’t proved, but the close ties are fact.

The Saudi Victims’ Bill is an example of the attackers’ eliciting an immune response, at last, from the victim.

“The Saudis shared your fear of Iran benefiting from the Iraq '03 War. Then again, they've been afraid of Iran since the 7th century.”

You’re kidding, right? The R’oils ORDERED GHWBush to stop Schwarzkopff before we could liberate Basra, in 92. Why, otherwise, would he stop, and let the Shiites of southern Iraq be slaughtered by a Saddam who was amazed he was allowed to do it? For that crime, that stain upon our honor, I despise Bush Sr even more than Junior. The seeds of catastrophe were sown that day.

Had we liberated Basra and the region, we’d have been adored as saviors and the southern Shiite Arabs would have been our pals forever, not Iranian satraps who despise us (rightfully). The R’oils ordered this because they feared a new, Shiite Arab state on their border would inspire their own Shiites. But it would have been more Arab than Shiite, and far friendlier than the radicalized Badr movement we see there today.

In other words, the R’oils were (1) manipulative, (2) callously immoral in their commands to Bush Sr., (3) Spectacularly shortsighted, (4) and utterly in charge. That is a horrid combination.

Today, they are helping push Trump toward “war” at some level with Tehran, stupidly imagining this will make Iran less dangerous, when in fact it will push Iran into Moscow’s orbit and make them more dangerous than ever.

Abilard said...

David Brin wrote:
No, this is culture war... plus the dems are too stupid to realize basic electoral facts. Not just gerrymandering and cheating, but the need to go after every single "safe" gop seat with CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRATS. It is time to resurrect the Blue Dogs! But liberal twits think that will be INSTEAD of liberalism. Bull. Run liberals in liberal districts and conservatives in conservative ones DUH?

-----

Even in rural areas the Democratic Party has shifted to the Left. Witness the ruckus at recent town meetings in flyover country. Blue Dogs would get primaried in favor of Lefties who can't win.

Also, even if a Blue Dog happened to get elected, how would they work with their more radical colleagues? I only drop in here a few times a year and every time I do you and Tacitus are having an argument just as productive as the one above; and I think you two respect each other. What about a Blue Dog of the type that Rachel Maddow could not stand? How well would that person tolerate accusations of fascism, racism, sexism, climatism (?), or whatever the dogma of the moment happened to be? How well would could he or she work with their more dogmatic colleagues?

I suppose the Democrats could woo a sufficient number of people in the flyover country with Bernie Sanders style left wing politics, but they would have to drop Identity Politics to do it IMHO. Obama's "post-racial" campaigns worked there (even if they do not reflect reality). Clinton's special interest big tent did not.

LarryHart said...

Abilard:

Even in rural areas the Democratic Party has shifted to the Left. Witness the ruckus at recent town meetings in flyover country.


Those are Republicans getting an earful from their constituents, not Democrats.

Carl M. said...

David, I gotta agree with you about George Sr. I was disgusted by him when he giggled about blowing up sewer plants. Infants dying of diarrhea isn't funny.

----

On a completely different note, an example of why refusing to panic over "settled science" can be wise:

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2017/02/secondhand_smoke_isn_t_as_bad_as_we_thought.html

Carl M. said...

(continuing)

Doing the cheap precautions is another matter entirely of course. I am in full agreement with the Things We Ought to Do Anyway philosophy.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: To believe in a possibility of blackmail, while also believing in a 'close friendship' suggests you also recognize the probability of nuance at work here.

Iraq '91 served multiple purposes for Bush Sr.:
(1) Curtailing the Cold War cuts to the military by demonstrating the utility of a powerful defense system
(2) Banishing the ghosts of Vietnam with a clear victory
(3) Preserving low oil prices for a decade or more by preventing consolidation among suppliers
(4) Potentially leveraging U.S. prestige from a clear win to expand other power projection capabilities in the region (Sr. had a tin ear for his own party's anti-internationalist component - one that cost him)

None of those purposes would be served by a protracted presence in Iraq. Looking at other occupations of Arab lands (British, French, Israeli, and Syrian), the prospects for a 'brief' presence seemed remote. The prospects for reversals, meanwhile, were quite obvious (Iran itself, but also, most of the British/French mandate authorities).

Bush was 100% certain American military could pulverize Iraqi army with minimal loss of U.S. troops. Probabilities fell on the latter part of that story if Saddam was removed and a protracted presence required to erect a new government. On the other hand, what was the probability Iraqis would bring down Saddam themselves? 50%? 75%? If they did so, U.S. lives would be saved, a costly engagement avoided. Worst case scenario (Vietnam '92 - 'nobody gets involved in a land war in Asia' and all that) avoided.

Mistake? You believe it is, as did many. I thought poorly of it in '91 and became a Democrat. I think poorly of it now. But I begrudgingly acknowledge there are other ways folks calculate the national interest than my own.

"the R’oils were (1) manipulative, (2) callously immoral in their commands to Bush Sr., (3) Spectacularly shortsighted, (4) and utterly in charge."
Manipulative? Yes. Immoral? Yes, Not lifting a finger = bad; deliberately trying to block others offering aid to the oppressed = immoral. Shortsighted? Depends what vision and probabilities one opts to believe. Britain had many of the tools of democracy at its disposal when they set up a Hashemite king in Iraq. Why would America do any better? Besides, we have a general disinclination toward colonizing countries...

For this discussion, Zoroastrian Persia was regarded as the true enemy of the Muslims from the formation of Islam. Wahhabism itself emerged largely as a backlash against expanding Persian influence in the Gulf region (esp. in Iraq, but also in Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia itself, not to mention ancient Shi'a communities in Yemen) (the Syrian shi'a community was more a product of French selecting allies who would never back the Hashemites - their Iranian orbit is of more recent vintage). They have a long-term view of the struggle, just not a very optimistic or inclusive one.

"Today, they are helping push Trump toward “war” at some level with Tehran, stupidly imagining this will make Iran less dangerous, when in fact it will push Iran into Moscow’s orbit and make them more dangerous than ever."
Indeed. It is stupid.

Voracious China remains the wild card in this puzzle. Iran cannot supply China's petrol needs, nor does China have blue water power projection, nor is geography favorable - so Iran could expect little more than a UN veto from China in 2018. But if Trump does anything more with Taiwan...this story could be different by 2020 (more likely 2024).

donzelion said...

Carl M: "David, I gotta agree with you about George Sr. I was disgusted by him when he giggled about blowing up sewer plants. Infants dying of diarrhea isn't funny."

I was an adolescent at the time, so I despised Bush Sr. for a number of reasons, including this one. But the more I've learned about him (and esp. how intelligence operates), I see his decision in terms of 'probability calculations' - and less as cowardice.

I feel quite differently about Bob Dole and that wing of the Republicans, however. Yes, flipping a communist satellite is a worthy pursuit during the Cold War. But not currying favor and selling the fruit of our land to a monster who tortures and gasses his own people. Never that. Ever. I'd be willing to give up a few hundred jobs in Kansas to take a stronger stand in '88, and perhaps that would have altered matters in '91 as well...

donzelion said...

Carl M: Oh, and on the secondhand smoking discussion - I noted the follow on research -

"Research observing similar reductions followed in places such as Pueblo, Colorado; Bowling Green, Ohio; and Monroe County, Indiana. One characteristic shared by these places was their low populations and correspondingly small sample sizes..."

Was that the Bowling Green that had a terrorist attack that the liberal media is refusing to report about? ;-)

That said, unlike Kellyanne Conway's fabrication, I do not see purported claims of massive gains from smoking bans as "bad science." Ban happens; massive drop in Helena; data obtained, new experiments needed. Larger experiments (Italy, New Zealand, Colorado) rebut the initial thesis (at least insofar as cardiac gains).

Was it 'bad science' or simply 'science'? If the author is critical of science journalism, well, that's a different story: journalism attracts eyeballs when it commands action (even the action of passing a judgment) - a 'no action needed after all' story seldom sells. Can you imagine a work of fiction in which no action takes place? I read 'Waiting for Godot' once, admired it, and will not re-read it any time soon.

David Brin said...

donzel: “To believe in a possibility of blackmail, while also believing in a 'close friendship' suggests you also recognize the probability of nuance at work here.”

Obviously you have been sheltered from power relationships, in which the ‘Over” party bullies and the “under” party is so grateful. “I will NEVER let your enemies see this tape we have of you, on my yacht, drunk and doing a goat. You can count on me, as long as our friendship lasts!”

BTW not even one of the following are even remotely true:

“Iraq '91 served multiple purposes for Bush Sr.:
(1) Curtailing the Cold War cuts to the military by demonstrating the utility of a powerful defense system
(2) Banishing the ghosts of Vietnam with a clear victory
(3) Preserving low oil prices for a decade or more by preventing consolidation among suppliers
(4) Potentially leveraging U.S. prestige from a clear win to expand other power projection capabilities in the region (Sr. had a tin ear for his own party's anti-internationalist component - one that cost him)”

Panama & Grenada were the chest thumping Vietnam reliminators, The military proceeded to make major cuts after Iraq 91. Iraqi oil was REMOVED from the market, raising prices for the Saudis.

The rest of your rationalization is malarkey. Bush had only to let Schwarzkopff go 50 miles north of Basra and most of the Shiites would have been saved and ecstatically thankful and loyal to us. Look at Kurdistan. All we did was maintain a no fly zone and they were saved and thankful. If we had done something similar in the south, Saddam could have been left stewing in the Sunni center, without oil or power, waiting for some general to put a bullet in his head.

The “quagmire’ excuses for Bush Sr. are hogwash. No need to go to Bagdhad. No need to conquer the Sunni Center. Free the Kurds and prevent a holocaust falling on the southern Shiites. The Saudis ordered him not to, we committed the murder of a million people and incurred the undying hatred to the survivors.

As for China, preventing their people from becoming westernized believers in democratic law is the top priority. Joining Putin’s anti western arc is tempting.

David Brin said...

onward


onward

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