Thursday, April 13, 2017

Dark Times in American Politics

Oy!  Now the news suggests he is being eased out, to make way for Jared.  I had better talk about Steve Bannon while I can. Unless... he's still the Dark Lord and I had better say it, while there's still free speech... and electricity.

Before he got to the White House, Steve Bannon was first a Goldman-Sachs mogul, then a filmmaker. His polemical movies say a lot about what’s on his mind, and how he plans to use the power of the US presidency.  You need to watch this video summarizing the forceful and very clear meaning of Bannon's worldview. He not only believes we are diving into an existential crisis, he has openly stated his intention to provoke one and make it happen.

The scariest part? Bannon passionately believes in "cycles" of history" -- the book he frequently cites is The Fourth Turning.  No historian credits that solidly disproved nonsense. It's a meme-worm that takes over weak-silly minds, susceptible to 3rd-grade-level pattern-seeking and sends them charging, braying, toward catastrophe.

Bannon's firm belief that we must follow an 80 year "cycle" into hell is made extra-ironic by the fact that it is based upon hatred for the "self-indulgent" Boomer Generation (of which Bannon is a member and among the most self-righteous) along with idolization of the previous "Greatest Generation" which overcame Hitler and all that... while Bannon's cult seeks to reverse every single social contract and innovation put in place by the FDR-loving GGs!

Oh and the purported next hero generation? The Millennials?  They voted almost uniformly against everything Bannon stands for.

Oh, but while Steve Bannon stirs his alt-right mob with Straussian ravings (for Strauss & Howe, the Fourth Turning authors), he forgets the ungrateful way that earlier Straussians -- followers of Leo Strauss, like Wolfowitz, Perle, Nitze, Adelman etc - were all tossed aside once their manic cries no longer suited the Bushites' pragmatic, feudalist agenda. Cast out like used tissue. Because the real Masters don't want a "crisis," man.  They know that if one comes, the Millennials will bring tumbrels to collect the plantation lords.

No no, Steve.  You were useful to them.  But you are playing out of your league.

== The long knives ==

But meanwhile...

The purge commences.  Steve Bannon openly stated he plans to purge all dissent – or accountability to law, or even question-asking -- from within the most powerful government in the history of the world. “Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions asked Friday for the resignations of dozens of politically appointed U.S. attorneys held over from the Obama administration, the Justice Department said.   Sessions wanted "to ensure a uniform transition" to the Trump administration,” reports the Los Angeles Times

I've already reported on the extreme peril we're in from the War on Science, which is now wiping out the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and threatens to impose upon us a "science Advisor" of spectacularly weird credentials and beliefs. See my posting, "In defense of enlightenment: "science adviser" David Gelernter and the rise of anti-science intellectualism." 

Michael Hayden asks: “What role will facts and fact-bearers play in the Trump administration? Which of the president-elect’s existing instincts and judgments are open to revision as more data is revealed?”

Hayden was director of the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005 and the Central Intelligence Agency from 2006 to 2009, And he specifically frets: “Trump is already antagonizing the intelligence community, and that’s a problem.” Read this. Then know things have gone from bad to worse, in the last month. 

But oh, there is a (possible) silver lining.  The last of the fact-reality-centered professions have now been forced to confront an existential threat to the Republic.  The Intel community and the US military officer corps are being treated as "deep state" enemies, just like the rest of us. 

== Discounting Expertise ==

Newt has gone hysterical. 

I hate to say it, since Gingrich has always been at least 30% “interesting” amid the overall insanity. Indeed, he’s written sci fi! And when he was Speaker, a brief miracle happened (in 1995) when the GOP actually negotiated with a Democratic President to get real things done. Moreover note this: at the recent Republican National Convention, only one major GOP leader, between Reagan and Ryan, was even mentioned!  So ashamed are they of their horrific record of governance.  That one: guess who? 

Oh, but now: Gingrich seeks to abolish the Congressional Budget Office... after a negative report about the Republican Health Care legislation to replace Obamacare.

Now, to be clear, the CBO makes mistakes in its estimates, sometimes big ones. Economics is hardly science. But there are three responses. Alas, the Democrats will only offer one of them:

1) The professional accountants and economists and statisticians got their jobs at CBO during a span when Republicans controlled the levers of power in Congress across 20 of the last 22 years, and 30 of the last 34 years. So how plausible is it that they are just a pack of liberal shills? Or “deep state” conspirators?

2) If they are “biased” against a Republican Party bill, after owing all their jobs to the GOP for almost two generations, then that “bias” is the same one that has made Fox & pals compile onto an enemies list scientists and every other knowledge profession  — including the intelligence communities and the US military Officer Corps. Yes, there is a bias. It is the bias known as “fact.” 

3) The GOP and Gingrich have a long tradition of banishing news they don’t want to hear. In 1995, Newt led the charge in demolishing the Office of Technology Assessment or OTA, the science and tech advisors who had been hired by earlier (mostly Republican) Congresses to render neutral advice on what’s pragmatic under physical and natural law. This advice proved irksome to dogmatists, who proclaimed OTA “biased.” Instead of correcting the “bias” by simply adding some conservative techies to OTA, for balance, they burned out the whole bureau, allowing GOP senators and representatives to declare anything they liked to be “true” without quibbles from mere boffins.

(Something similar is apparently in the offing at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) which had been dramatically boosted under Obama. Stay tuned for word on this.)

Proving yet again their myopia, Democrats will speak glancingly to #2 (above) and never mention #1 or #3, nor the grand pattern that now includes every single knowledge profession in American life— including the intelligence communities and the U.S. Military Officer Corps.  Proving that, if Republicans have gone malevolently insane, then Democrats are dumber than a bag full of rocks.

== Misce depressings ==

Masha Gessen on where Trump and Putin converge and diverge, and what it means for America.  

What? You think that the Syria events mean "Trump-Putin" is an obsolete meme? There is a word for this theater. "Potemkin." A Russian word for a completely faked sham. The entire "Syrian" thing is a put-on, staged to save Putin's biggest asset - D.Trump - from the growing consensus that he's under Moscow-KGB control. Come on! What other interpretation even remotely fits the facts? (See the asterisked "crackpot scenario" below... one which fits the facts better than the official story! *)

== Dystopic Visions ==

Which leads us to this article on Reader Supported News, by John Feffer and Tom Dispatch, Preventing the Triumph of Trump's Will, which illustrates in so many ways what is on-target and what is chillingly wrong with liberal media, as it flounders for some way to help us rise against this new outbreak of the American Civil War.  Do read the piece, as Feffer and Dispatch make cogent comparisons between the alt-right frenzy of illogical incantations and the creepily similar era of Leni Riefenstahl’s “Triumph of the Will.”  (Today it could be “Trump of the Will?”)

Alas, the two writers also reveal a stunning myopia that could be the death of all our hopes – by denigrating and lumping together with the mad confederacy all of the dedicated public servants in the U.S. intelligence community and the military officer corps.  They buy into the inane "Deep State" metaphor now spread by the right.

They actually – in profound, almost dizzying stupidity – fall into the trap of assuming those groups are inherent foes, rather than inherent friends of the Republic.  For decades, the manipulators of the Right could not believe their luck, that liberals would give in to an insipid reflex to spurn military and intel men and women because of superficialities like haircuts and rural hobbies, rather than recognize potential allies who share one crucial trait –

-- a belief in the overwhelming importance of fact. Of science and objective reality. The value of outcome appraisal, by which measure, any sane citizen would deem the GOP to be cosmically bad at rational governance.  The U.S. military has been at the forefront of civil rights, since Harry Truman desegregated it in the forties. It has pushed for sustainable tech and confronted climate change harder than any other part of government. And when – in a testosterone-drenched community – they find sexual transgression, the senior generals and admirals have come down harder than anywhere else in the nation. 

Is Trump proposing a hike in military spending?  Sure. As cover to let the Bannonite White House commence with a purge that could make Turkish President Erdogan look mild, by comparison. The stupidest thing we can do is fall for this. The military and Intel officer corps are in pain and will face much worse. If they find friends under our Big Tent, then western enlightenment civilization can be saved by a union of all fact-users.

If we spurn them, then kiss your enlightenment goodbye.

====

March for science and fact-centered maturity and for your children on April 22!


====

*  Asterisked "crackpot"but all-too plausible theory: Conspiracy theory time. But first a cavil: cautioning that I give this a 90 in plausibility but a mere 10 in likelihood that I would bet upon. So here it is.

Putin orders Assad to chemical-attack civilians, an atrocity that gives Trump an excuse to bomb some non-essential and Putin-selected Syrian targets, so that Trump can then yell "See? I'm no Russian puppet! I attacked Russian ally! So back off looking for puppet strings, leading from me to Moscow!”

Second benefit, it used up sixty (sixty!) Tomahawk cruise missiles. Jiminy. And gave the Russian military an excellent opportunity to pre-place intelligence gear to study (and practice messing with) our Tomahawks. Geez did anyone else notice that half of them performed …weirdly?


Hey I am paid to do scenarios. As plausible as this one is - and it is - it also suits my prejudices too closely to be trusted. But  hope there are people looking very closely…



75 comments:

Anonymous said...

Trump is slowly, but surely, losing his ability to distract. If the Russia scandal gets too big for even Congressional Confederates to ignore or his general level of incompetency drags his approval below 30%, what will he do to change the conversation? A war against North Korea? Maybe a friendly non-nuclear tussle over Estonia? Czar Putin is clearly a master at the False Flag, but Trump and Crew are dolts all the way down. That is my only solace these days.
-AtomicZeppelinMan

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | (from last thread) I say sometimes because many traditions are really maladaptive…

Maybe now, but probably not when they got started. By definition, a maladaptive behavior should be suppressed by social forces and never become tradition. A malevolent one might not, but out dislike isn’t what counts. Even evil behaviors might result in more children and more copies of the behavior, thus traditions that managed to get started can’t be maladaptive at first. Later? Sure. By then, conditions may have changed. Counter-reactions may have set in. In this way, we can get conditions that create civilizations and destroy them later in what later seems to be predictable cycles.

…but now it has created its own aristocracy, and they are sucking the world dry no less than the old nobility.

Not yet, but I’m happy many people think the danger is ever present. You are describing the haute bourgeoisie and calling them the new aristocracy. The old aristocracy would laugh and call them ‘nouveau riche’… and did for decades. The haute bourgeoisie are wanna-bee’s, but for the rest of us they are close enough to trigger our social immune response. I’m okay with that up to a point. Crush the wanna-bee’s if they take that step too far, but please avoid crushing the folks David calls good billionaires. Some of them get it and don’t want to un-level our society in a formal way. Their money might give their children a number of advantages over ours, but if those advantages aren’t enshrined into law, we can cope without rolling out the tumbrels.

I’m not so sure the science is solid regarding past civilization failures. We have lots of good explanations, but when we act on what we learn and use it all as self-preventing prophecy, they aren’t science anymore. They aren’t useful in making forward predictions. Instead, they are useful as forward facing immune concerns. For example, we probably won’t go the way the Romans did. Are you drinking wine from a goblet that leaches lead? Are we really rat-like or was it the lead? Hopefully, we will never know. In Roman times, the world was taxed with roughly 200 million people living mostly at subsistence levels. In terms of modern dollars, that is $3/day with the average Roman managing to wield about $6/day. Today there are over 7,000 million of us and the average soul is living near $30/day or higher. We won’t have barbarians at our gates. We’ve made them too rich and we are continuing to do so. Soul crushing poverty is dying in both percentages and absolute numbers. So… something really big is happening.

…accept all traditions or reject all traditions - but this is sadly what most people end up doing.

I’ll challenge you on this, but in a friendly way. Consider your use of the word ‘most’. Are you sure? How do you know? How would you demonstrate it quantitatively if someone put a million dollars on the table for you if you could do it? My suspicion is all of us except a few zealots work the middle. We accept some traditions blindly and reject others quietly. Every one of us who chooses not to raise our children exactly as our parents raised us rejects part of a tradition, I suspect. I know a woman who chose not to marry. Her family is Chinese. This was a BIG deal to them and they expected certain follow on behaviors as a result. She didn’t do any of that either. Her parents are immigrants. She grew up in California, thus she is a cultural hybrid. Some tradition she kept, though, just don’t point them out to her. The sparks will fly.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | (Last thread regarding endless growth)

Yah. Well… the people who think stability is the historical norm aren’t paying attention either. History suggests we’ve been growing very, very slowly for thousands of years. The spurt in the last few centuries is an anomaly. Maybe we will revert. It is hard to imagine that we won’t. However, it would have been impossibly hard for someone born before the spurt to imagine it would have happened at all. Back then, they had every reason to believe our economic activity was part of a vast zero-sum game. In modern times, many still stick to this belief arguing that the zero-ing out will occur in the future, thus our spurt is part of a bubble. Nonsense, I say, but time will tell.

If you believe Piketty, he appears to argue that growth will shrink back toward the norm and we won’t die out. What is likely (he argues) is that the rate of growth on capital will exceed growth enough to make our current motivations for storing the tumbrels obsolete. Old money doesn’t matter much in fast growth environments. Innovation does instead. Not so in slow growth environments. Maybe he is right. We will see.

I doubt it, though. This isn’t a spurt. This is a phase change. It is a kind of singularity without the mysticism. Maybe we should just call it a discontinuity which would make the singularity in the first derivative. We aren’t the humans we once were. Genetically we still are, but not socially. Even our virtues changed.

dominictemple said...

David, for all that you say Gingrich worked with Democrats during Clinton's presidency, he is the responsible for the reactionary republican problem the US has today. His GOPAC political committee industrialised current right wing hate speech. He taught an entire generation of freshmen politicians that whenever you mention Democrats you you call them names and refer to them as the deepest and darkest evil. H

He, more than Rush Limbaugh and Fox News is responsible for poisoning the Republican mindset because he gave them a language of hate, and decryed all opposing voices as RINO's (Republicans In Name Only). He deserves only scorn, disgust and distrust.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | …if one perceives voter suppression to be a breaking of rules

I do, but we have a long history of vote suppression and manipulation, so I’m not sure I want to start shooting people just yet. As things get better, we have a way of getting more upset at the remaining things that haven’t gotten better yet. Our lack of willingness to appreciate progress makes enemies of those who are willing to meet us part way in this generation and leave the rest to their children.

So, before anyone gets shot, are we making progress? Who should get a friendly pat on the back and a thank-you even if they haven’t converted to our cause? Anyone? If they exist, we have a path forward that doesn’t force the active duty guys to decide which side they are on. Everyone loses something if they have to make decisions like that.

…wait patiently for you…

You think I’ll come around to the belief that he broke rules instead of traditions? Well… I suspect he did, so you don’t have to wait. I strongly suspect he is guilty of money laundering. I strongly suspect he lost his shirt too many times, became less than a billionaire, and then to make up for those losses he hopped into bed with the Russians without spending much time thinking about the immorality of what he was doing. I suspect he is guilty as sin of a number of terrible things. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of them include directly breaking election rules. I would appreciate it if someone proved me wrong though. I’d cheer. I don’t want him as my President. I suffer him.

Alfred Differ said...

@Rob H. | I will admit I was one of those fools who believed the Republican Party would fall apart and become a regional party.

Heh. It still might. How long did it take the Whig party to die in the US? It came apart at the seams when it couldn’t come together over issues like slavery. Is there anything afoot now which might divide the modern GOP? Part of me hopes there is. Part of me hopes there isn’t and reminds me that the Civil War followed quickly after the Whigs collapsed and the Republicans made it clear by winning the White House.

My suspicion is they believe when they die, they will go to a better world and be able to lord it over everyone else because they were "good Christians" even though they long ago abandoned anything Christ held dear.

Not so funny story from the other day. My family has a weekend tradition of visiting a particular nearby coffee shop on Saturdays and Sundays. We are so regular at it, we make jokes of it when we plan out what we intend to do on weekends. Last Saturday, my wife was studying, I was sipping my tea and watching my son and things were going as normal. Even the bible study group was there at the next table over. What were they discussing, though? Revelations. ARGH! I broke a social rule and listened in without signaling that I was. I watched my wife for signs of annoyance too. I couldn’t stand it for long, though. Insanity. Death wishing. One was mentally preparing and said so. Another was pointing out that she was misreading it, but his interpretation didn’t give me warm, fuzzy feelings. At best, his version argued that preparing was pointless and probably not something she should be doing for other reasons. Quotes followed.

I left with the distinct feeling that some people feel they are losing a long running battle and they are getting desperate. Okay. They ARE losing, so that’s fair. I think I’ll bring a fire extinguisher next week, though, in case she decides to burn the place down.

Robert said...

Locu has proven himself to be part of the insanity of the Right. And he is marching in step with the old stereotypical statement that insane people don't realize they are insane.

Of course, locu also forgets one other important point. I am not a liberal. I am a libertarian. And in this day and age of interconnectivity and widespread social media, I can see how markets can start using corporate image to self-regulate with criminal attacks against consumers as enacted by United Airlines bites the corporation in the ass and everyone but the asslickers and bigots turning against that corporation. While it might be nice to pass laws that disallow corporations to pull paying customers who have a contract out of their seats because of small print in the contract, let's face it. Having a widespread boycott of United Airlines will do far more to destroy the destructive practices than any law which will be resisted because of a corporate resistance to change.

There is an object lesson here. It is something we need to start using against Trump. And that is using widespread social media and Brinian Transparency to reveal and constantly talk about Donald Trump's abuses of power and turn it on his corporate interests. Encourage boycotts of companies that do business with Trump. Turn people against his bottom line. And sure, there are those in the Republican Party who will do business with Trump because everyone else has turned against him... but the wheel will turn and it will turn against Trump because there are far more of us than them. And we are realizing we have power.

I feel bad for the poor doctor who was beaten and abused by United Airlines. But the reaction? oh, the reaction has reminded we the people that there are means of power available to us that cannot be taken from us. And that can be turned against Republicans.

So. Locu may claim I'm insane because he equates civil liberties with progressive views. But that is his own insanity speaking. His own resistance to change. His own fear.

yes, locu. Fear. You are so very very afraid. I'm coming to realize that. This is what drives you. You fear change. You fear the direction of this country and the fact that you cannot see your views as having control.

Fuck. You. And your views.

Fuck your insanity. Fuck the insanity of all those who backed Trump. We the American People are waking up. And we will take back our country from you hacks and you pessimists and you little twats who dare think that allowing people to smoke marijuana or marrying someone of the same sex or having an abortion or believing in personal liberties or wanting to vote is a bad thing.

We the people will prevail despite you.

Rob H.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | I’ll have to look up the history around the widows and orphans fund. I’m aware of the connection between the textile industry and computers (punch cards for complex looms), but I thought the need for computation power was pretty wide spread. For example, all sorts of astronomy research didn’t happen because the calculations were too big. Insurance people would want to make money, though, so they’d fund things science never could.

Heh. I never really understood the cynics. I wasn’t the happiest boy on Earth when I grew up, but a hindsight comparison with other my age suggests I had it pretty good. I didn’t go hungry. I didn’t go homeless. My father was an enlisted man in the USAF, so I had medical coverage, access to a decent education, and all those other perks. I even lucked out and had parents who appreciated what a good education was worth, so I was indoctrinated young to get through college. Pretty gosh darn good. So… cynicism strikes me as ungrateful which I am not. I can’t figure out why anyone would be for long, but they are. Obviously someone pee’d in their Wheaties, but not mine.

I’ve tried to learn a thing or two about existentialism too. I’ve had to avoid certain authors who are big in their field. I grasp some of the logic of what they say, but I want to reach through the pages and shake them to pieces and ask what the heck is wrong with them. Taking off the rosy glasses and shedding the theistic ‘purpose of life’ doesn’t imply the dour and gloom some of them have. Ugh.

Some of the intellectuals who suffered where the feudal lords regained power lost their confidence so badly, they though socialism was a good idea. I don’t get how liberals can become socialists either. Ugh^2.

Alfred Differ said...

@Rob H.

I've missed a few meetings with my local libertarians lately. I once told them I'm more of a classical liberal than a libertarian and they looked at me back like I was confused and making unnecessary distinctions.

Your 'tude brings a smile to my face. You would fit in well with them. 8)

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

@LarryHart | …if one perceives voter suppression to be a breaking of rules

I do, but we have a long history of vote suppression and manipulation, so I’m not sure I want to start shooting people just yet.


Is that what we're arguing about? I'm not ready to shoot anyone either. I'm practicing peaceful, non-violent resistance in simply refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of this presidency. If it comes down to standing off federal marshals who try to make me obey an illegitimate law, then we'll talk about how far to take it.


You think I’ll come around to the belief that he broke rules instead of traditions? Well… I suspect he did, so you don’t have to wait. I strongly suspect he is guilty of money laundering. I strongly suspect he lost his shirt too many times, became less than a billionaire, and then to make up for those losses he hopped into bed with the Russians without spending much time thinking about the immorality of what he was doing. I suspect he is guilty as sin of a number of terrible things. Unfortunately, I don’t think any of them include directly breaking election rules.


A few somewhat-unrelated things:

I think the Republican Party violated the constitution by not processing Merrick Garland (note, if they had voted against him, as was done to Bork, I wouldn't have that argument to make. But they didn't. The Constitution requires the Senate to advise and consent. "Advise" leaves room for turning the nominee down, but not for simply refusing to act until there's a new president.

I think the Republican Party also violated rules by voter suppression. Your point is taken that there's a hallowed tradition of such things back to Adams and Jefferson and Aaron Burr. But having the Supreme Court set the table with decisions that violate logic, such as the gutting of the Voting Rights Act come off as cheating to me. This is probably the weakest of my arguments to you.

I don't think Donald Trump the man violated election law, but he's going to turn out to be provably an un-registered agent of a foreign power, which is worse. This administration will come to be understood as a coup. I hope that gives the pro-American jingoists reason to have buyers' remorse.


Dwight Williams said...

If we want - need? - Bannon truly kicked out of the White House and making trouble for his own side rather than for all of the rest of the human race (as we fear he still intends if left in place), what to do?

LarryHart said...

@Dwight Williams,

Could you rephrase the question please?

:)

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Fuck your insanity. Fuck the insanity of all those who backed Trump. We the American People are waking up. And we will take back our country from you hacks and you pessimists and you little twats who dare think that allowing people to smoke marijuana or marrying someone of the same sex or having an abortion or believing in personal liberties or wanting to vote is a bad thing.

We the people will prevail despite you.


Clapping until my hands are raw!

Duncan Cairncross said...

Robert
The United Airlines stouch - If market forces are to fix that you need alternatives - I think airline consolidation has gone too far for that to happen

Saying that there is a simple free market solution to the overbooking problem
They offered "sweeteners" to get people to give up their seats - but they simply stopped too soon
All they needed to do was to increase the sweeteners until enough people accepted - a LOT cheaper than forcing people off the plane

Who is willing for $50 - OK
Then $150
Then $200
Sorry sir you can't accept it now we have everybody we need

The last seat may cost $200 - or a lot more but it's the last seat!

I like going to auctions - they are entertaining - this should have been a small piece of real life entertainment for the rest of the passengers


Alfred
Re-Garland
Somebody said that Supreme court Judges are almost never appointed in the last year - I thought NONSENSE - so I checked - he was right!

You have to go back to 1940!
36 Judges replaced since and none in the last year of a term

Given that it is "for life" - what do they drink during that last year?
Has somebody made a "No Die" elixir which is only available to Supreme Court Judges in election years


Paul Revile said...

"What? You think that the Syria events mean "Trump-Putin" is an obsolete meme? There is a word for this theater. "Potemkin." A Russian word for a completely faked sham. The entire "Syrian" thing is a put-on, staged to save Putin's biggest asset - D.Trump - from the growing consensus that he's under Moscow-KGB control. Come on! What other interpretation even remotely fits the facts?"

Theatre, yes. There are a few other words. Money. Doctrine. Military Industry. Cold War 2 spending bonanza. Oil, Golan Heights. Domino theory, Iran. Strategic partnership, Saudi Arabia, Israel.

Almost the exact same scenario already happened in 2013 and very similar scenarios in 2011 and 2002 amongst many others. How far back would you like to go?

2013

Seymour Hersh: Whose Sarin? https://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n24/seymour-m-hersh/whose-sarin

Seymour Hersh: The Red Line and the Rat Line https://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line

Alex Newman: MIT Report: Obama Used Bogus Intelligence to Push Syria Warhttps://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/foreign-policy/item/17443-mit-report-obama-used-bogus-intelligence-to-push-syria-war

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Science, Technology, and Global Security Working Group: (United Nations weapons inspector Richard Lloyd and MIT Science, Technology, and National Security Policy Professor Theodore Postol) Possible Implications of Faulty US Technical Intelligence in the Damascus Nerve Agent Attack of August 21, 2013 https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1006045-possible-implications-of-bad-intelligence.html#storylink=relast

2011

Maximilian Forte: (Professor of anthropology, University Department of Sociology and Anthropology Montreal) The Top Ten Myths in the War Against Libya http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/08/31/the-top-ten-myths-in-the-war-against-libya/

Andrew Gavin Marshall Lies, War, and Empire: NATO’s “Humanitarian Imperialism” in Libya https://andrewgavinmarshall.com/2011/08/26/lies-war-and-empire-nato%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Chumanitarian-imperialism%E2%80%9D-in-libya/

Alex Newman: Establishment’s Libya War Lies Unravelling https://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/foreign-policy/item/20057-establishment-s-libya-war-lies-unravelling

Kelly Riddell and Jeffrey Scott Shapiro: Hillary Clinton’s ‘WMD’ moment: U.S. intelligence saw false narrative in Libya http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jan/29/hillary-clinton-libya-war-genocide-narrative-rejec/

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya: Cynthia McKinney: The Truth on Libya–Another War of Lies http://phibetaiota.net/2011/09/cynthia-mckinney-the-truth-on-libya-another-war-of-lies/

2002/2003

General Wesley Clarke: (summary) The decision to invade and destroy Iraq was already policy on or around 20th September 2001. By the beginning of November 2001 the decision to invade and destroy Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran was also policy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7NsXFnzJGw

David Whyte (Oxford University)paper: The Crimes of Neo-Liberal Rule in Occupied Iraq https://academic.oup.com/bjc/article/47/2/177/519163/The-Crimes-of-Neo-Liberal-Rule-in-Occupied-Iraq

Mark Curtis (Historian: The Iraq propaganda campaign http://markcurtis.info/2017/03/20/the-iraq-propaganda-campaign/

Jonathan Stein and Tim Dickinson: Lie by Lie: A Timeline of How We Got Into Iraq http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/12/leadup-iraq-war-timeline

Paul Revile said...

And most important word of the day: groupthink.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

Alfred
Re-Garland
Somebody said that Supreme court Judges are almost never appointed in the last year - I thought NONSENSE - so I checked - he was right!

You have to go back to 1940!
36 Judges replaced since and none in the last year of a term

Given that it is "for life" - what do they drink during that last year?
Has somebody made a "No Die" elixir which is only available to Supreme Court Judges in election years


I guarantee you that if one or two Supreme Court justices die in Trump's (or Pence's) last year, Mitch McConnell will have no issue with a Republican appointing replacements. The "rule" he invokes against Democrats appointing justices in their last year doesn't apply to the rightful overlords of the country.

LarryHart said...

...plus what if 2017 turns out to be Trump's last year in office. Does that invalidate the Gorsuch nomination retroactively?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Larry
I agree - but I was surprised at the 36 judges BEFORE one died during an election year
1 year in 4 is an election year
What happened to the other 9 judges who should have died then?
Was it "No Die" - or is there somebody very skilled at Mechatronics?

LarryHart said...

Paul Revile:

And most important word of the day: groupthink.


You misspelled "reality".

Catfish N. Cod said...

Bannon. How he sickens me.... even as I see parallels between him and many other bright and isolated geeks. How tempting it is to think, I have the One True Secret of History! But life is not a one-player game.

I was a big "4T" fan, once upon a time, but not so much anymore. Strauss and Howe noticed a pattern in American history. Nothing more. As description, it's fair-to-middlin' at best! (Their 'clockwork' theory hiccups on the Civil War; the veterans of that conflict didn't act in the way their pretty pictures predicted. Never mind, whitewash over the inconvenient facts....) Patterns can be used to theorize predictions, like any hypothesis in science, and they did so. It's not crazy to think that, with the Greatest Generation (and their strong emphasis on institution maintenance) disappearing, that the young Millennials might feel the need to take up that cause. I still think that much of the theory is true.

But declaring that to be an 'inevitable' pattern, much as Spengler and many another arrogant philosopher did, is errant nonsense, anti-scientific mumbo jumbo. Any theory can be falsified. And even true theories can cease to be predictive if their bounds are exceeded; woe betide she who tries to use a GPS with a Galilean mindset, or pilot an interstellar starship by Newton's laws alone. Since Strauss and Howe don't really understand why their pattern exists, they can't predict the conditions under which their theory could fail. Which means that even if they are right, the theory could fail at any time, for any of a hundred factors -- extended lifespan, technological revolution, climate change, alien invasion, what have you. There is no such thing as historical determinism and there never has been.

If Strauss-Howe theory is not even well demonstrated as a predictive engine, how much more folly is it to try and force the cycle! To arrogantly presume that you, lucky sucker, get to play Hari Seldon and guide the Foundation to its proper goal in spite of those tedious and ignorant masses. And furthermore, that you can predict in advance all the social policies they will have no choice but to adopt.... and that, goodness me, they just happen to conform to your own prejudices and cherished beliefs. How convenient. What a wonderful excuse for an attempt to ram policy down a nation's throat.... for its own good, of course.

If "big government liberal technocracy" is such a scourge on a free society, how much more so is Bannon's ontological determinism and authoritarian central social planning? Or for his call to, Heaven help us, take up the offer made by bin Laden and al-Baghdadi, raise the banner of the Militant Cross, and lead hapless souls off on an explicit Crusade against Evil (a.k.a. an oh-so-handy Muslim Other to frighten the faithful... at least until oceans of blood cleanse the deserts.)

Nowhere does it seem to occur to the poor sucker that there's another, much closer and more threatening enemy, one that challenges the soul of America in a way that Muslims and Mexicans and Menaces Abroad never could. One that challenges the very meaning of the West itself.

Bannon hasn't prepared America for the menace of his Crisis. He is among the prime instigators of it. He and his ilk ARE the Crisis.

Save your American greenbacks, boys. The Union will rise again.

Anonymous said...

The Syrian thing and even the possibility of an attack on N Korea are diversions. Trump will do anything to keep that story from ruining him. I've spent some time investigating, and the truth is even worse than the rumors.
http://amzn.to/2onv9iH

Catfish N. Cod said...

Oh, and y'all want to see some real irony? Go out to the theater this weekend to watch Going in Style. A remake of an old George Burns flick, this time the old gents (Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Adam Arkin) want to rob a bank.... to get back at the banksters who stole their pension fund by clever restructuring. The moral of the story is told not five minutes in: It is the duty of a culture to provide for its elders. And, without spoiling, the whole story is an indictment of how our budding neo-aristocrats have deliberately betrayed that duty.

But wait for the best laugh of the (quite funny!) movie until the end. Watch for the credit of Executive Producer. (Or cheat, google for the list, and look for an unusual name that did not enter politics until this year.) And laugh and laugh at the bitter irony....

locumranch said...


Like our our whinging friend Robert who self-identifies as a 'libertarian' but demands government intervention on his behalf, some people just can't acknowledge the inherent contradictions that lurk within their belief systems.

This is particularly true of David who conflates the possession of fact with a moral imperative, even though knowledge confers neither a 'duty to act' nor moral authority. This is where "the fact-reality-centered professions" have gone astray:

They have forsaken & mistaken factual knowledge for moral authority.

Analogous to 'Might makes Right', the "existential threat to the Republic" is the belief that superior knowledge trumps the will of the electorate & confers authority over others by Divine Right.

Knowledge (yours, mine, ours, theirs) doesn't confer shit as far as representational government is concerned. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical academic ceremony (wherein) some watery tart threw a diploma at you.

You progressives have no idea how screwed you are. NOT right-wing, racist, republican or conservative, I'm a mad-as-hell disillusioned Democrat who has been 'sold down the river' by the elite expert class. Cough cough. I may have to sit this particular crisis out cause the 'blue flu' is extremely contagious.


Best
____
Inevitable, the United Airline incidence was when the police are often called to enforce discipline within the US primary school system. All in all you're just another brick in the wall.

Robert said...

And once more the insanity and inanity of loco shows as he substitutes reality with delusion. He pretends I call for government intervention when I talk about United Airlines and how market forces (ie, not government policy) can penalize a corporation for bad behavior.

Loco is showing a Trumpian method of remaking history. In loco's eyes, free market is government control, libertarian is liberal, democrat is communist, and Trump is his lord and master though he will pretend otherwise when it suits him.

Continue to quake, little loco. We know the truth now. You fear change, because you realize you will be on the wrong side of history. And the bill will come due far sooner than you ever expected.

Rob H.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Okay. If neither of us is ready to shoot anyone, that's a good thing. After that, it just boils down to determining what 'legitimacy' means. For me, it suggests the players in the games did not break official rules. The only ones that count are the ones written down in legislation. On that level, I don't think Trump broke any and neither did the GOP. I'd love to be proved wrong. For the unwritten, social rules, he broke a bunch of them. Unfortunately, that isn't enough to destroy the legitimacy of the election. We have a long history of elections where people break unwritten rules. Part of the game is to figure out how far one can push it before the voters will object. USUALLY, that is way short of what is actually illegal. Not this time, though. As long as the voters don't object, we are, in a very literal sense, the agents that make an election legitimate. Officially, it is the electors, but by custom it is us. There would have been Hell to Pay if the elector had opposed us as anyone fluent in our culture could have said. 8)

Regarding your somewhat unrelated points...

1. The Constitution is pretty clear as is tradition. The Senate can neglect to act and there isn't anything anyone can do about it except us during the next election. It is a power granted them by the Constitution and not reviewable. At worst, it was a dirty trick that they didn't consider Garland. I wasn't terribly surprised, though. Some senators had a powerful hate for Obama.

2. That the GOP violated our unspoken, social rules regarding voter suppression is a given. The collapse of the Voting Rights Act was a disaster, but that Act was also unconstitutional in my opinion. It doesn't pass the sniff test when it comes to separation of powers. It was just a matter of time before a Court would object to the vulnerability baked into it. David points out a vulnerability in Amendment #2 that could undermine gun 'freedoms' some day. It is just a matter of time, right? Maybe a generation from now? Two? The VRA was similarly vulnerable because it needed a very liberal interpretation to not smell like a violation. What is actually needed is an amendment. Yah. I know how likely that is in my lifetime.

3. Probably true. I kinda hope so.

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. Looks like locumranch is confusing all libertarians with peace-loving anarchists. Some are. Some aren't. Since Rob H appears to be willing to get medieval on him... personally... I'm guessing he's half-and-half. 8)

@locumranch | If you want a chance to understand libertarians, you'd best show up and meet them face to face. Look them in the eye when they say something like Rob H did. Listen to their tone of voice. It is usually quite clear what they mean. It's personal for them.

Oh.... and many of them love their guns. They are far worse about those things than the Republicans are. They might not say it, but you can see it in their eyes.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

The statement by Catfish N. Cod that "There is no such thing as historical determinism and there never has been" is in good agreement with the original Strauss-Howe theory.

The first Strauss and Howe book put forward their "Generations" theory as a statement of generational tendencies. Even in their very first book, they didn't gloss over the fact that the U.S. Civil War came 20 years too soon for their generational ideas, causing them to lose an entire generation in an entire nation in their generational descriptions. The tables in that book showed the Civil War generation as an obvious gaping hole. This is hardly a theory of historical determinism.

Many excessively eager followers of Strauss and Howe have tried to make their ideas into a theory of historical determinism. Eager followers of many books have taken otherwise good ideas and carried them to ridiculous extremes.

Sometimes authors of books also let their fans' enthusiasm carry them a bit too far toward those extremes. That may have happened with Strauss and Howe in the early part of the 21st century. Strauss and Howe did have many accurate predictions in their Generations book, especially about the Millennial generation and the types of events that were likely in the first decade of the 21st century. That may have caused the authors to eventually to become too enthusiastic about their own ideas themselves.


LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

I was a big "4T" fan, once upon a time, but not so much anymore. Strauss and Howe noticed a pattern in American history. Nothing more.


Patterns hold until they don't. Remember how every president elected in a year ending with "0" since 1840 died in office? Until Ronald Reagan didn't, even after being shot in his first term. Suddenly, it wasn't a thing any more. W is still alive and kicking too (as is Al Gore, in case "elected" is the mitigating factor).

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

Which means that even if they are right, the theory could fail at any time, for any of a hundred factors -- extended lifespan, technological revolution, climate change, alien invasion, what have you.


The Mule might come to power in the White House. Of course, that could never really happen.

:)

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

But wait for the best laugh of the (quite funny!) movie until the end. Watch for the credit of Executive Producer. (Or cheat, google for the list, and look for an unusual name that did not enter politics until this year.) And laugh and laugh at the bitter irony....


I checked IMDB, but it doesn't seem to have whatever you're hinting at:

Produced by
Bruce Berman ... executive producer
Tony Bill ... executive producer
Samuel J. Brown ... executive producer
Donald De Line ... producer
Michael Disco ... executive producer
Toby Emmerich ... executive producer
Andrew Haas ... executive producer
Jonathan McCoy ... executive producer

LarryHart said...

Two more days and I can suffer fools gladly again!

locumranch:

some people just can't acknowledge the inherent contradictions that lurk within their belief systems.


Tell me you see the irony in this statement of yours. Pleeeeeeeeeease.

This is particularly true of David who conflates the possession of fact with a moral imperative, even though knowledge confers neither a 'duty to act' nor moral authority.


With you, everything has to be about some moral imperative? When you buy an appliance that needs assembly, do you check the instruction manual, or do you argue that just because someone already knows how the thing works doesn't mean you have to follow their instructions?


This is where "the fact-reality-centered professions" have gone astray:

They have forsaken & mistaken factual knowledge for moral authority.


No, that's the mistake you are making, not them.

Analogous to 'Might makes Right', the "existential threat to the Republic" is the belief that superior knowledge trumps the will of the electorate & confers authority over others by Divine Right.

Knowledge (yours, mine, ours, theirs) doesn't confer shit as far as representational government is concerned. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical academic ceremony (wherein) some watery tart threw a diploma at you.


However the squatter at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue got ahold of the keys, it was neither a "mandate from the masses" nor the "will of the electorate". Not unless winning by negative three million votes counts as either.

You progressives have no idea how screwed you are.


If your wish-dreams play out, we are screwed only to the extent that we care about the human misery you will cause. It's your own side who will suffer the most. And I'll let you in on a secret--you've worn out our sympathy. Why don't you threaten to torture yourself slowly to death while we look on helpless to stop you? See how far that threat gets you.


NOT right-wing, racist, republican or conservative, I'm a mad-as-hell disillusioned Democrat who has been 'sold down the river' by the elite expert class. Cough cough. I may have to sit this particular crisis out cause the 'blue flu' is extremely contagious.


Is that a threat or a promise?


Inevitable, the United Airline incidence was when the police are often called to enforce discipline within the US primary school system. All in all you're just another brick in the wall.


Again, what makes you think anyone here is in favor of arresting six-year-olds? Your side is the one who likes police brutality. Remember, Blue Lives Matter. Come to think of that, it's not a bad slogan (on a sign displaying a Union kepi).

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

After that, it just boils down to determining what 'legitimacy' means. For me, it suggests the players in the games did not break official rules. The only ones that count are the ones written down in legislation.


I put it to you that the only rules that count are the ones that the Supreme Court says count. If they vote 5-4 that "two plus two equals five", then that's the law of the land with no appeal, not even to the logical corollary that the losing side then also had "five" votes.

(Congress has already demonstrated the principle that math can be legislated. The Senate just confirmed Neil Gorsuch by taking a vote that 52 Republican votes were the required 3/5 of 100 required to break a filibuster.)

So my question to you is, at what point (if at all) is resistance justified against "the rules that count" but which are in opposition to reality? Otherwise, aren't we at the culmination of the 1984 society in which literally "Two plus two equals whatever the Party says it is"?

What is the proper response when insisting that two plus two equals four is literally against the law?

Robert said...

Remember how I said 100 days?

Consider this: what is the overriding factor that will determine the Republican Party's support of Trump?

Republicans retaining political power.

It seems Republican political power is now under threat as a result of hatred of the Trumpian White House and the American People waking up and realizing they are strong. An election elsewhere was far tighter in a strong Republican region without DNC support for the democratic candidate. And now this - areas where Democrats have not had any power in 100 years... and not a single Republican candidate was elected.

The warning shots were fired. You will see Trump's actions and the revelations of his ties with Russia being used to oust him from power - in a desperate hope by Republicans that by eliminating the Cheetos, they can keep their power. That the American Voter will go back to sleep.

100 days. 200 at most. And then the Republican Party will oust him in hopes they can induce the slumbering beast to sleep just a little bit longer.

Rob H.

David S said...

"Supreme Court vacancies in presidential election years
In the wake of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, questions have arisen about whether there is a standard practice of not nominating and confirming Supreme Court Justices during a presidential election year. The historical record does not reveal any instances since at least 1900 of the president failing to nominate and/or the Senate failing to confirm a nominee in a presidential election year because of the impending election. In that period, there were several nominations and confirmations of Justices during presidential election years.

The first nomination during an election year in the twentieth century came on March 13, 1912, when President William Taft (a Republican) nominated Mahlon Pitney to succeed John Marshall Harlan, who died on October 14, 1911. The Republican-controlled Senate confirmed Pitney on March 18, 1912, by a vote of fifty to twenty-six.

President Woodrow Wilson (a Democrat) made two nominations during 1916. On January 28, 1916, Wilson nominated Louis Brandeis to replace Joseph Rucker Lamar, who died on January 2, 1916; the Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed Brandeis on June 1, 1916, by a vote of forty-seven to twenty-two. Charles Evans Hughes resigned from the Court on June 10, 1916 to run (unsuccessfully) for president as a Republican. On July 14, 1916, Wilson nominated John Clarke to replace him; Clarke was confirmed unanimously ten days later.

On February 15, 1932, President Herbert Hoover (a Republican) nominated Benjamin Cardozo to succeed Oliver Wendell Holmes, who retired on January 12, 1932. A Republican-controlled Senate confirmed Cardozo by a unanimous voice vote on February 24, 1932.

On January 4, 1940, President Franklin Roosevelt (a Democrat) nominated Frank Murphy to replace Pierce Butler, who died on November 16, 1939; Murphy was confirmed by a heavily Democratic Senate on January 16, 1940, by a voice vote.

On November 30, 1987, President Ronald Reagan (a Republican) nominated Justice Anthony Kennedy to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Lewis Powell. A Democratic-controlled Senate confirmed Kennedy (who followed Robert Bork and Douglas Ginsburg as nominees for that slot) on February 3, 1988, by a vote of ninety-seven to zero.

In two instances in the twentieth century, presidents were not able to nominate and confirm a successor during an election year. But neither reflects a practice of leaving a seat open on the Supreme Court until after the election.

On September 7, 1956, Sherman Minton announced his intent to retire in a letter to President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and he served until October 15, 1956. With the Senate already adjourned, Eisenhower made a recess appointment of William J. Brennan to the Court shortly thereafter; Brennan was formally nominated to the Court and confirmed in 1957. The fact that Eisenhower put Brennan on the Court is inconsistent with any tradition of leaving a seat vacant.

And in 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Abe Fortas, who was already sitting as an Associate Justice, to succeed Chief Justice Earl Warren, but the Fortas nomination was the target of a bipartisan filibuster – principally in reaction to the Warren Court’s liberalism and ethical questions about Fortas, although objections were certainly also made that it was inappropriate to fill the seat in an election year. That filibuster prompted Homer Thornberry, whom Johnson nominated to succeed Fortas as an Associate Justice, to withdraw his name from consideration in October 1968, because there was no vacancy to fill. Moreover, the failure to confirm Fortas as the Chief Justice did not leave the Court short a Justice, because Chief Justice Earl Warren remained on the bench."

source:http://www.scotusblog.com/2016/02/supreme-court-vacancies-in-presidential-election-years/

David S said...

I'm not having any luck in finding instances of the Senate refusing to hold hearings on a supreme court nominee other than Garland's. Has this ever happened before?

Luis Salgueiro said...

From last post

LocumRanch:

Let me see if I'm interpreting your assertions correctly:

Family planing, public health, social welfare and global otherness caused the people of Portugal to be weaker and more dependent increasing the need for foreign workers and a collapse of the economy is that what you are saying?

You fail to see the difference in opportunity and the associated positive sum involved.

Ok, let me start denying those claims by a small history lesson.

Short version: by 1974 Portugal was, by most indicators, a 3rd world country. There was famine, bad healthcare, almost no industry or agriculture, very little scientific research. The only meaningful income came from the colonies that were to become independent that year and from money sent by expats back home.

In contrast today we have one of the worlds best (top 15) healthcare systems across all indicators, there is advanced research in healthcare sciences (leading centers in deep brain stimulation, pathology research, novel drug development, bioengineering etc), Portuguese public and private universities are globally recognised (there are constant campaigns from UK, Germany and France to recruit portuguese doctors, nurses and engineers), the portuguese electrical company (before being bought by the chinese) develop leading wind power technology, to the point that in a few years, if necessary we can become energy self sufficient without fossil or nuclear fuels. Portuguese children are taller, stronger and smarter than any generation previously.

All that was achieved in less than 40 years. Are there some parasites? Sure! Less than 1%, roughly the same percentage of nobles we had in the population before the end of monarchy.

next post the long version

LarryHart said...

Robert:

Remember how I said 100 days?


I simply did not believe my ears. :)


Consider this: what is the overriding factor that will determine the Republican Party's support of Trump?

Republicans retaining political power.


Yes, so far the House and Senate Republicans have not seemed anxious to remove "their" president with such a fervent base. You may be correct that this will change, but I'll believe it when I see it. The Health Care debacle was not really about Trump--it was about Paul Ryan not being able to pass his own plan. That would not change with Mike Pence in the White House.

It seems Republican political power is now under threat as a result of hatred of the Trumpian White House and the American People waking up and realizing they are strong.


The American People in the Democratic cities were already against Trump and Republicans. Is he really causing the pro-Trump areas of the country to sour on Republicans? I'd like to think so, but so far all I see is Republicans expecting to hold onto power by voter suppression and a favorable Supreme Court.

The one thing I agree you might be right about scaring Republicans is Trump's saber-rattling with North Korea. I could see the establishment Republicans finally having to sit up and take notice. That would probably be despite their rural constituents, rather than because of pressure from those constituents. In other words, ironically, the Republicans might have to lose their base in order to prevent nuclear war. I'm not sure they know what to root for in that scenario. "Warmongering" Hillary doesn't look so bad now, does she?

Aside from the war thing (which I realize is a big deal), if what you say is true that Trump is undermining support for Republicans, then the smart move for Senate Democrats would be to refuse to go along with conviction and force Trump on the American people until 2018. That's my happy fantasy, but there's probably too much danger of the Democrats then "owning" Trump in the next election. It would be bitter irony indeed if Republicans could gain seats by saying "Vote for us and we'll remove Trump for you, unlike those Democrats." The other reason not to block impeachment is, whatayacall, that whole nuclear war thing.

LarryHart said...

Luis Salgueiro:

LocumRanch:

Let me see if I'm interpreting your assertions correctly


If you're expecting logic, then probably not.

Treebeard said...

Robert, can we agree that history isn't on anyone's side? Wasn't that the view of some of the biggest mass murderers in history? The only thing we know for sure is that history is gonna bury us all and leave no trace. Entropy is on our side, not History, God or Progress. If "progressives" can admit this and stop claiming the flow of time itself, then I'd say we've made...progress.


Luis, aren't you forgetting the most vital indicator of societal health:

http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?c=po&v=25

Does it make you proud to live in such a progressive country as it dies? This is why my kind consider the package of feminism, postmodernism, LGBT, etc. to be not some cosmic indicator of progress, but symptoms of a cultural disease. Everywhere the disease spreads, cultures die. Is there some term in biology for a virus or predator that masks itself as a beneficial organism while it slowly kills you, cuz that's how this virus operates. It is a memetic virus designed to fool its host society as it spreads mass death. It's not that difficult to understand, is it?

LarryHart said...

@Treebeard,

You seem to have no problem railing against the dying of the light your own self, but when anyone else does, they're just fighting a losing battle with entropy. You might want to pick a side as to whether you're for or against entropy and mass-death. You seem to be both for and against it. If Entropy is on our side because it will bury us all, then a memetic virus that spreads mass death is a good thing, right?

"a memetic virus designed to fool its host society as it spreads mass death" sounds like a good description of fascism to me.

You're engaging in a fallacy that because we all die eventually, how we live is not important. On the contrary, how we live is all that is important.

Treebeard said...

Yeah Larry, I should've said "memetic virus designed to fool its host society as it slowly extinguishes it". Spreading mass death implies a vitality that prog societies probably lack. Fascism is a burst of vitality by cultures that are trying to beat back the prog death-virus. America is experiencing something like this right now. Neither is as good as having a stable tradition that doesn't want to kill you, but beggars can't be choosers I suppose.

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

Fascism is a burst of vitality by cultures that are trying to beat back the prog death-virus.


Fascism is a particularly virulent and resourceful disease, of course, but also one which activates the rest of the world as antibodies which must destroy it.

Or "Fascism is like a stream of bat's piss". Take your pick.


America is experiencing something like this right now.


And the antibodies are already responding.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@LarryHart:

I find it even more intriguing that the gentleman in question is not listed in IMDB. You'll find him prominently mentioned in this Washington Post review of the movie.

@Treebeard:

Fascism can only be seen as a burst of cultural vitality if you have already defined "culture" as "traditionalist reactionaries". Your argument is as circular as Spengler's: the culture is defined as dying, the changes occurring are defined as the death of the culture.

What you are really doing is exploiting the ambiguity of the word "culture" for your own rhetorical benefit. The only thing I learn is what I already knew: you don't like the direction(s) American culture is developing in.

The only thing we know for sure is that history is gonna bury us all and leave no trace.

Tell that to Achilles, or to Gilgamesh.

LarryHart said...

David S:

I'm not having any luck in finding instances of the Senate refusing to hold hearings on a supreme court nominee other than Garland's. Has this ever happened before?


I think it is "un-presidented".

But then, what isn't this year?

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

I find it even more intriguing that the gentleman in question is not listed in IMDB. You'll find him prominently mentioned in this Washington Post review of the movie.


Ok, that's funny. If I saw that during the end credits of the film, I would have thought it was a joke. I'm still not sure it isn't one.

Luis Salgueiro said...

Treebeard:

You would consider Sudan for instance a healthy society?
http://www.indexmundi.com/g/g.aspx?v=25&c=su&l=en

I was going to start by refuting the global otherness argument but I'll star with family planing. This goes for Locum too.


Portugal has been for centuries one of the poorest countries in Europe, the common view has been that Portugal is a poor country devoid of natural riches, with a small territory and fragment property witch caused low agricultural output and limited industrial growth (that view is incorrect but I'm not gong in to that now).

In spite of famine and mal nutrition for centuries portuguese breeding rate has been one of the highest in the world. In 1910 families with more than 8 children were the norm and there were families with 14 and more children. None of the rich families had that many children.
In fact it is globaly accepted that a high birth rate, besides contributing to a higher birth mortality and child mortality is typical of poor nations and is inversely related to per capita income. The higher the household income the less children there are. The same happened in every modern country in the world. In Portugal the effect was concentrated in 2 generations because of several factors:

1. - Salazar's dictatorial regime: there was a need for field workers colonists and soldiers. The government actively encouraged large families regardless of any other considerations
2. - Church dictated that any kind of family planning in any circumstances was a deadly sin.
3. Ignorance - In 1910 less than 1% of the Portuguese population knew how to read or write

When the 1974 revolution toppled fascism the implementation of better health care education and a higher standard of life allowed people to start making their choices. And they chose to start a family later and have fewer children.

Now we are coming full circle. The "boffins" have started explaining to the population that we need to have more children to sustain the population. In response the birth rate has increased, and like happened in the nordic countries, I expect it to continue growing until we reach a stable population level that our geological conditions can support comfortably.

I don't understand what gave any of you the idea that having many children is a mark of "societal health" except maybe an interpretation of the Bible's go forth and multiply argument. Any population of any organism that doesn't practice family planning of some sort faces massive die-off when the resources become scarce. And I'm starting to believe that maybe that is the whole point of those sections of the world population that believe that global warming is a good thing or that universal healthcare is bad because allows the weak to survive.

Luis Salgueiro said...

Locum:

Global otherness -

There is no choice here, the fact that isolated societies become obsolete and are wiped out isn't in play here.

Portugal is an anomaly,like an american historian just pointed out in a recent book. Portugal has no geological obstacles defining the border with Spain, Portuguese are genetically celti-iberians with an addition of Germanic stock (visigoth and swebi) same as the rest of hispanic peninsula.

Trapped in the south west corner of Europe the Portuguese have always been a global people. Wherever you go in the world you will find portuguese people or traces of their passage.
Portuguese diaspora means that millions of portuguese live outside Portugal.
It is inconceivable not to be global... heck we invented global.

It is our culture that defines us not were we live, or the colour of our skin or of our eyes or even our religion.

I believe our poet Fernando Pessoa said it best: "A minha Pátria é a Língua Portuguesa" my fatherland is the portuguese language.

But I'll tell you about the people of the "planalto", Transmontanos they call themselves. Ultra religious, conservatives to the core. Used to hunt down and kill suspected communists. Hill people, tough as nails and twice as vicious. Ferociously independent, proponents of minimal state interference the only good state is no state. From the time of the romans would be conquerors found them to be un-rulable. Every household had a gun for "hunting". Sound familiar?

My father comes from a village in those mountains. He didn't knew what was cheese until he was 12 and went to live in the city. That population was one of the poorest in europe, people starved to death regularly. For many smuggling was the only way to survive. During the spanish civil war my grandfather used to smuggle potatoes and coffee. Risking death for a couple of coins to buy meat and other essentials. Their children were small, with crooked bones from rickets, suffered all kinds of preventable diseases and were afflicted with parasites.

And yet the land is filled with mineral wealth: uranium, tungsten, lithium, gold, copper, silver, coal. The fields of the veiga can produce bountiful crops of wheat, vegetables,legumes and fruit. After they started evolving, when the expats returned with knowledge gained in the US, Canada, France, Angola, Mozambique and every other corner of the world, new crops were introduced, machines replaced donkeys and manual labor, people learned to work together in cooperatives bringing in bigger more profitable crops.
Now the cherries from Fundão can be bought in Sweden at 50€ /Kg, the chestnuts are all sold to french factories at a premium and the wild mushrooms can be sampled in Michelin star restaurants the world over. By changing a bit their ultra conservative attitudes the Transmontanos are no longer beggars in other countries. Now their sons and daughters that choose to go to the US or England go there to be Doctors, or Engineers. To run Banks... or even to head the European Union.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry Hart | I put it to you that the only rules that count are the ones that the Supreme Court says count.

Pfft. I could think of a counter example in two seconds. Prohibition became enshrined in the Constitution and enforced by all the branches, yet it failed because We The People objected in enough numbers to make it untenable. The law of the land wasn’t no matter what government said. Thus, the only rules that count are the ones backed by a large consensus of The People.

I’m not nit picking when I point this out. The SCOTUS gets to decide what legislation means, but WE decide the rules. We use elections for much of what we do, but grant a kind of veto even to small minorities for an ambiguous list of rights. Even the jury power we wield demonstrates that we are the final arbiters.

The Senate didn’t say 52=60. They said ‘We choose not to apply the filibuster rule this time.’ Procedural rules are applied by custom, not by law. Congress has a heck of a time legislating in one session what a future session may do, so that’s why these customs are important to defend. The Senate chose not to defend one this time and maybe in the future too.

So my question to you is, at what point (if at all) is resistance justified…
What is the proper response when insisting that two plus two equals four is literally against the law?

It is always justified depending on what form of resistance you choose.

The proper response starts with public ridicule and failure to comply, escalates to voting the fools out, and winds up with people getting shot if earlier efforts fail.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Prohibition became enshrined in the Constitution and enforced by all the branches, yet it failed because We The People objected in enough numbers to make it untenable. The law of the land wasn’t no matter what government said. Thus, the only rules that count are the ones backed by a large consensus of The People.


You keep changing the rules on me. I was responding to your assertion that the only rules that count are the ones written in legislation. Now, you're arguing against me by disputing even what you originally said.


The Senate didn’t say 52=60. They said ‘We choose not to apply the filibuster rule this time.’ Procedural rules are applied by custom, not by law.


I don't think they could have done that without the rule change being itself filibustered. My understanding of how the "nuclear option" works is that when the Senate parliamentarian rules that 52 votes is not sufficient to bring cloture, Mitch McConnell says "I disagree. It is enough." (Which, to me, is the same thing as saying that 52 is over 3/5 of 100) Then, with a simple majority, the Senate votes that McConnell is correct and the parliamentarian is mistaken. Which is all by the rules, as long as 52 grown Senators all agree that a mathematical absurdity is true.


"So my question to you is, at what point (if at all) is resistance justified…
What is the proper response when insisting that two plus two equals four is literally against the law?"

It is always justified depending on what form of resistance you choose.

The proper response starts with public ridicule and failure to comply, escalates to voting the fools out, and winds up with people getting shot if earlier efforts fail.


Well, that's exactly what I'm doing. The ridicule is blatant. The failure to comply will come with opportunity, and may very well be a test of character. We'll see about shooting people later. I'm still not clear on why you stated that I'm a threat to the Constitution when I agree with almost everything that you say.

LarryHart said...

Apropos nothing except the general concept of science-fiction:

Is anyone else here familiar with the book "The Time Traveler's Wife"? I'm about two-thirds of the way through it, reading it for the first time. In a way, it's a total "chick flick" as was the time-travel movie "Somewhere in Time" and the less-well-handled movie "The Lake House". And yet, "The Time Traveler's Wife" (the book I mean) is probably the best executed story of time travel I have ever come across. It allows for affecting the past without altering the past, and (so far) does so seamlessly. On top of that, without spoiling anything, it keeps introducing new wrinkles which logically follow from the time-traveling--things you don't see coming, but think afterwards, "Of course that would come up eventually!"

It took me about 100 pages to get into it, but now it's a complete page-turner that I can hardly stand to put down. Just wondering what others who know the book think of it.

David Brin said...

Geez Rob… take it easy will you? We’ve established that Locumranch is not one of the masters or their theoreticians. He is a confederate who — while that cult is drenched in (you’re right) jibbering fear - as proved by PET scans(!) — nevertheless will you please note that HE IS HERE!

Why do you think I am so quick to forgive the absurd strawmanpositions he often attributes to me? Not JUST because he blatantly is a color-blind flatlander who cannot conceive of up nor down nor blue nor positive sum… no he shows us, daily, what koolaid confeds are drinking.

Moreover, dig it, I have criticized online echo-chambers since EARTH (1989) I do not want Contrary Brin to become one… even thought… yes… we are the ones who are right! ;-)

And hence, I miss Tacitus2… though I can well understand why he feels pain here. I pray he has not joined a Nuremberg Rally, in order to ease the agony of realizing his movement has been hijacked by traitors and monsters.

So, Rob, chill. Be the archetype of the Libertarian who understands, and so knows to ally himself with fellow smithians… the (phew! statist!) liberals. When the Union is saved, we can go back to yelling, as grumpy-disagreeing adults.

Alfred, I find that Adam Smith and the word “competition” make it clear to (some) libertarians that they should not buy propertarian-lord-propaganda.

Alfred Differ said...

@Luis,
….when the expats returned with knowledge gained in the US, Canada, France, Angola, Mozambique and every other corner of the world…

Thank you. You’ve just described the core driver of economic growth in a capitalist system better than most textbooks I’ve read. It’s not what the state does that really matters. It isn’t about investment capital, though that helps. It isn’t about foreign aid. It’s about knowledge sharing, the freedom to act upon it, …

By changing a bit their ultra conservative attitudes the Transmontanos are no longer beggars in other countries.

…and the dignity given to those who would risk changing things.

The enrichment that has occurred in the modern era comes from what the people choose to do themselves. Every country. Every culture. We lift ourselves up by our own bootstraps when we share, free each other to act in a fair market, and grant the innovators enough dignity to reward them for the risks they take.

I LOVE it when people offer this lesson directly. We can challenge the authority of economists and historians easily. It gets harder to challenge people who lived the experience or had family that did it.

Robert said...

Dr. Brin, the best way to dissuade new Nazis from remaining in the American Nazi movement is by confronting them and letting them know they cannot get away with bullshit without being called out on this vehemently. Not politely. Politeness gets you nowhere.

The Democratic Party has been polite. Over and over. And Republicans steamroll him and screw everyone over.

I want loco to realize that he is right to fear. His views are outdated and will be lost to the past. And for him to tell others. For this to spread out until all these damn Nazis realize they. have. lost. And then I want them to hide in their holes and drag dirt over their heads and be quiet and forgotten, their power broken.

It will happen.

Rob H.

Twominds said...

@Larry Hart about The Time Travellers Wife.

I read it a long time ago, when it was new. A friend of mine translated it and I read it in dutch (against my habit with english language books). I liked the originality of the concept, that time travel is genetically determined, and the traveller can only take his body with him, nothing else, and doesn't have complete control. IIRC there was a paragraph that I said: here the writer gets tangled up in the time paradox, that this situation can't follow from what went before, but I have no idea anymore what that was. Mostly, the writes manages to avoid paradoxes.

I'll be rereading it!

LarryHart said...

@Twominds on "The Time Traveler's Wife" :

I will also have to re-read it, though it's not the kind of book you can re-read too quickly.

The one seeming mistake I spotted (it might be resolved in the part I haven't read yet), Henry appeared to younger-Claire at age 43, and later in the book, they say that they know Henry will live until at least age 43. But Claire would have had no way of knowing how old Henry was in that scene, and present-Henry wouldn't know about it yet. So where did they get the 43 number?

Still, if that's the only possible mistake I've spotted, that's pretty darn good.

The book resonates with me for a different reason that probably doesn't apply to anyone else here. The author is obviously a native of Chicago who is familiar with not only the famous landmarks, but the geography of the neighborhood streets and nearby suburbs. In one scene, Henry drives up to Evanston to swim in the lake, and he drives east to Ridge Avenue, turns north to Dempster, and takes that street east to the lake. In doing so, he passes within a block of the Evanston house I grew up in.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart,

You keep changing the rules on me.

Heh. Not intentionally. Think about it. An election is an act of the people. We give it legitimacy. The legislated rules are what we expect government to enforce, but most of our rules aren’t in legislation. The bare minimum for an election to be legal is for the players involved to follow the legislated rules. They CAN’T follow all the unwritten, unspoken ones. They CAN follow some of them by sticking to traditions, but they aren’t legally required to do so. We as voters are the enforcers of the unwritten ones and the ultimate authority on the written ones too, though we tend to delegate that enforcement to the government.

An argument can be made easily saying that every election is inherently legitimate, but most of us will want to qualify that with a requirement that it be fair. Oops. We don’t all agree on what ‘fair’ means, so we’ll have to stick to the LCD version that garners 90%+ consensus support. Good enough for now. That consensus (for now) is that the written rules must not be violated and a few traditions should be observed. Trump pushed hardest against the traditions, but his voters seemed to like that. A very large number of us didn’t, thus the consensus broke. What we are left with (for now) is the appearance that he met the bare minimum standard and won in the Electoral College. Therefore, the election results are legitimate.

An argument can be made supporting your side too. It is one that relies very heavily on progressive positions not held by a majority of Americans because you claim his victory isn’t legitimate. If you softened it a bit and claimed his victory is disgusting, repugnant, or some other smelly thing, you’d get a ton of support.

Regarding rule changes, you are getting caught up in literal interpretations. That’s not how the Senate works. The Parliamentarian isn’t a Senator, let alone the Majority Leader. They are an ‘official advisor’. It is rare they are overruled, but they are appointed and serve at the pleasure of the Senate Majority leader. The current Parliamentarian was appointed by Reid, so that may change soon. Who knows.

David Brin said...

Robert your anger is justified and yes, dems and liberals and Smithians need some of the force that anger can provide. And yes, you have seen be say “bullshit, fool!” to Locumranch, many times.

But what we need is the same trait that makes the Union slow to rouse, but ponderously unstoppable, each time the confederacy tries this troglodytic, fear-drenched, overcompensating-for-small-penises crap. Calm determination.

Alfred Differ said...

Well, that's exactly what I'm doing. The ridicule is blatant. The failure to comply will come with opportunity, and may very well be a test of character. We'll see about shooting people later.

Cool.

I'm still not clear on why you stated that I'm a threat to the Constitution when I agree with almost everything that you say.

Your claim that Trump isn’t a legitimate President if taken up by many people will create a Constitutional Crisis. The written rules were followed (apparently), but the people reject the results. See where that goes? If the Armed Services disagree with your interpretation, their defense of the Constitution will cause you to be labelled as the threat. See? Your belief that the rules weren’t followed isn’t enough to avoid the crisis. The case has to be much more solid so the active duty folks of all stripes can understand.

We DO mostly agree. Where we ‘differ’ is over your use of ‘illegitimate’. It is unfounded at present.

locumranch said...


Robert claims to see 'fear' in my eyes, but I'm not the one whinging about the 'existential threat to the Republic' that our current Trumpocalypse is believed to represent. I'm more amused than anything else, having made my peace with entropy, knowing as I do that any progressive-friendly attempt to deny & nullify federal authority (as in the case of San Francisco's Sanctuary City lawsuit) will only bring our nation state closer to self-determinative balkanisation.

Most assuredly, Order is a GOOD thing of which I whole-heartedly approve, assuming moderation, checks & balances, even though too much Order tends to lead to totalitarian tyranny, whether or not said Order is intended to favour science, an intellectual elite, a corporate oligarchy or a progressive ideal, whereas a free society always requires a large dollop of DISorder in order to exist.

Treebeard knows this, as do all those who value freedom & autonomy, even though this rather obvious observation is all-but lost on the idealist-extremist control freak. For all concerned, he also notices how our newish World Order has become something of an involuntary devil's bargain.

At least by Luis's stated criteria, Portugal does appear to be something of an EU success story, as long as one overlooks the spectacular tragedy of its disenfranchised youth, lost national autonomy, fiscal insolvency, empty nurseries & aging population, especially when compared to its historical vitality, independence & pride of accomplishment.

As to whether or not Luis's smuggler grandfather & poor-but-proud ancestors would approve of such a trade -- this exchange of Portuguese autonomy for what amounts to surplus EU government cheese -- we can only guess. Of Family Planning & Preventative Medicine, I approve in all respects, assuming that all such choices are voluntary & all such choosers understand the losses implied by choices made.

This assumption that more Order & Planning is 'better' if some Order & Planning is beneficial, even when extremism (any type) has been proven over & over to be neither beneficial nor desirable, is problematic of the WEIRD mindset.

Order & Planning are analogous to Pills & Drugs, IMO: A little can cure you but handful will kill you.


Best
______

'The Tyranny of Order' is a classic theme in Science Fiction.

Most of you are probably familiar with Harlan Ellison's "Repent Harlequin":

http://compositionawebb.pbworks.com/f/%255C'Repent,%2BHarlequin!%255C'%2BSaid%2Bthe%2BTicktockman%2Bby%2BHarlan%2BEllison.pdf

There is yet another tale of an abandoned Clock City, a boy finds a forbidden watch & the price he pays for the crime of telling time. Can anyone recall title & author?

Finally, some sage advice for Robert: "Be careful when you fight the monsters, lest you become one. He who fights too long against dragons becomes a dragon himself; and if you gaze too long into the abyss, the abyss will gaze into you.”

Alfred Differ said...

@David,

I’ve tried ‘competition’ with some of them and they counter by pointing out that property (one form of capital) is the result of savings from income derived from competition. Obviously, not all property was won that way. Some was inherited as part of a grant from a Crown. Modern economic growth has diminished the impact that form of capital has on income inequality and even on wealth inequality, but that doesn’t make it easy to know when a Propertarian is defending earned savings and when they are defending royal acts. That distinction winds up with each of us making somewhat arbitrary decisions based on the people involved. Is that a good billionaire or a bad one?

I get your point, but I think the sounder approach is to point out that the Propertarians violate social ethics in such large ways that they can’t possibly hope to win over their neighbors. Seriously. If I defend my property from a thief by shooting them dead, it is a nontrivial effort to convince a jury of my peers that I haven’t murdered the thief. Propertarians have to reject a huge fraction of their neighbors as possible peers to avoid the implications of what they propose. Either they create social classes or the rest of us will judge them as insane or evil or something like that. Libertarians aren’t supposed to create social strata any more than we are supposed to support governmental coercion, thus the Propertarians are ethically mistaken or NOT libertarians.

Heh. I’m sure you’ve seen libertarians parsing these things before and then choosing purity tests to purge the unclean from our ranks. We get a righteous indignation fix while also protecting society from our insanity by ensuring we will never, ever be a successful political force even for dog catcher elections. I have to chuckle at the single focus factions within our libertarian community. Laughter is my drug of choice for avoiding indignation and the desire to purge them before they purge me. Fortunately for me, I live in a county containing a few libertarians who get this. Whether it is the gun fetishists, the pot fetishists, or the property fetishists doesn’t really matter. Life beyond the fixation is rather fun.

Robert reminds me of some of my neighbors. He isn’t one of the slow to rouse people, but the Union wasn’t initially defended by the slow ones, right? I don’t think he will drive locumranch off, though. We won’t be deprived of seeing what the koolaide flavor of the moment is. Instead, I suspect, he will provoke locumranch into saying more. I find it funny and I’ll be making popcorn. Afterall, libertarians love a good indignation fix.

Jumper said...

Larry, not all encounters in The Time Traveler's Wife necessarily get reported verbatim. Not a plot hole I can see.

I liked the book. The metaphors avail to wide interpretation: When you meet someone you should have met 20 years ago, or 20 years from now. Or last year, or next. Or when one is ready to talk, the other isn't. And vice versa. When one needs to grow and the other is not ready.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | I'm more amused than anything else, having made my peace with entropy, knowing as I do that any progressive-friendly attempt to deny & nullify federal authority (as in the case of San Francisco's Sanctuary City lawsuit) will only bring our nation state closer to self-determinative balkanisation.

Just in case your confidence in knowing a Truth comforts you too much, I’ll politely point out that Prohibition was denied at the local level and our nation didn’t balkanize. I applaud your effort to make an ex ante social prediction, though. Many people weasel out of making them. In this case, however, I think the odds are stacked heavily against you. Even with the ultimate social division that should have balkanized us, namely slavery, didn’t. We chose instead to shoot each other and force union. Essentially, you are betting against history.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Trump pushed hardest against the traditions, but his voters seemed to like that. A very large number of us didn’t, thus the consensus broke. What we are left with (for now) is the appearance that he met the bare minimum standard and won in the Electoral College. Therefore, the election results are legitimate.


A perhaps-small quibble. Before the year 2000, I would have said that most Americans only had a vague idea that the electoral college existed or meant anything. To some of the more-educated, it was there as an answer to a trivia question or something to win points on "Jeopardy" by knowing about. But I'd say that the consensus was that the president was elected by majority (popular) vote, and that if people thought about the electoral college at all, it was something like "The electoral vote validates the popular vote by electing the same candidate." The very-well politically educated might have in the back of their minds that it went the other way back in 1888, but that would have been the exception that proved the rule.

Of course, now we all know the electoral college very well because twice in the past 16 years, the electoral college winner was the Republican whereas the popular vote went to the Democrat. If anything, I think a popular conception is emerging that "something is not right" about this 18th Century anachronism that was established before there were political parties and when states were much more different from each other than they are now. Separately, there is a partisan divide across which Republicans like the existing system and Democrats don't. But aside from that naked partisanship, I'd say that if there is a consensus among Americans as to whether the electoral college is "fair", the consensus is that it is not.

Not that We The People can do anything about it as long as the states who gain the most from the current system would have to agree to the change. What has to happen (somehow) is for a Democrat to win while losing the popular vote. If that ever happened, the process would be changed the next day.

raito said...

Alfred Differ,

People have peed in my Wheaties. Continually. Enough so that a fortunate friend (and former) of mine, who has never had his pissed in, asked why I thought all that stuff happened to me. His kumbaya attitudes really took a beating when he saw things getting done to me by my employer that I had done nothing to deserve. There was a lot of me saying what would happen, and him disbelieving until it happened. And that's not the worst done to me by a long shot.

If the wheels haven't ground over you, you really can't understand what happens and how it changes how you think.

If anyone thinks the system should be plowed over and made anew, I'm a good candidate for it.

And yet, I don't. I don't think the systems have failed me, much, other than by allowing specific persons to screw me over without oversight.

Robert,

Some counter advice.

One friend was asked a question. "Are you a wolf or a sheep?" Having at least a little wisdom, he recognized this for the false dichotomy it was. And said, "Neither". His questioner refused to believe that there was some other answer, and finally asked, "Then what are you?" My friend answered, "Sheepdog."

I'm back from vacation, and as I predicted, my city council sold me out for $25, selling off the municipal fiber network. But then, by the time the public hears about these thing, it might as well be a done deal.

Paul SB said...

Rob H.,

There is an ancient monster of Chinese legend called a taotie that has a ferocious face of fangs and horns. It appears on bronze vessels dating all the way back to the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC). Although its appearance is fierce, it has no legs or arms, no body at all. When it tries to eat a man it only hurts itself with its own fangs (which makes me wonder if Douglas Adams was channeling this monster when Arthur Dent met up with his nemesis). It is a pitiful creature that makes a lot of noise and wakes children in the night, but is laughed at when the sun rises. Some think it is a representation of a legendary usurper named Chi You who lost his head in an attempt to unseat the king. Either way, it is a symbol of greed, anger and fear.

Hate is unresolved anger, anger is unresolved fear - the chain that leads to all who rage and shout, who try their best with noise to twist the world into a shape that assuages their own guilt and rationalizes their own poison hate. But hate only hurts the ones who hate.

We have a couple taotie in our midst, that is sure.

We have the same in our highest offices, too, but the taotie that haunts us here does not have those powers.

Paul SB said...

Raito,

We've been eating from the breakfast table, though no one I know has been through what your former friend has. But I don't see myself ever playing the role of sheepdog. St. Bernard, yes, but maybe that is because I have needed so many of those that I feel the need to reciprocate.

Some buildings are so old and rotten they are unsafe to live in. They need to be torn down and replaced, but even when you implode a building with explosives, the intent is not to harm anyone in the process. My hope is that we, the human species, will find the wisdom to tear down our most rat-infested, squalid edifices and replace them without harming the occupants. Some of them cling to the rickety architecture of the past. Some need a kick in their equanimity to get their butts out of the way while we unmake the mess that has been left to us by our ancestors. But let us see if we can do this peaceably, while not being overfond of those prisons that have held us down and blinded our freedom.

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

You are often a needed voice for caution, which I appreciate. Everyone needs some of that inner “wait a minute..." But in this case I think you are forgetting who you are talking to. It’s been way too long since I did my time and got my degree, but I haven’t forgotten what proof means in the social sciences. But if you care about anything more than just dots on a scattergram or Spearman’s r, you have to look around and see how the science reveals the world around you. It is exactly this passion - contra all the stupid pop tunes and movie memes - that drives people to become scientists in the first place. Yes, those scatter grams and statistics matter, though they can never show the mythical Perfect Truth that so may believe exists, either in their holy books or in the hallowed books of Science. Still, how many pixels do you need before a picture becomes clear enough? Curse the social engineers and cry “more data” all you want, the rest of us want solutions, and soon. Mistakes will be made, they always are whether you are using science to make those mistakes or witchdoctoring. Your point, please?

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,
I know I'm coming at this a bot late, and it's not much past the hour of the wolf, so please her with me on this. Just a little clarification on the points you make about education. You wrote:

"If our schools are so awful, how come we have 80 of the 100 best universities on ht planet, and nations all over send expeditions to investigate how our young people get so creative? And why do the Education Ministries in Beijing, Tokyo, Delhi and so on send out hundreds of minions, each year, begging teachers to teach their classes in a more “American manner”?”

I would see your point if the bar wasn’t so low in the countries you named, which are still operating on education systems imposed on them during the Colonial Era. Yes, the US does have many of the best universities in the world. I don’t doubt that. But the world altogether is operating on school systems that have not changed much since the age of Dickens, America’s main contribution being the horrors of the Harvard Efficiency movement, which simply took a bad old system and made it worse.

My wife was one of those people sent to America to learn how to do American education, and just about all she learned was American politics. There was very little in terms of actual pedagogy there, and I know because I read all of her materials and helped her understand them. It’s a bit like my 11th grade year, when my family moved into a crummy apartment complex that by some fluke of zoning ended up in the rich kids’ school district. The counselor there insisted that my Honors English class in my downtown high school was only equivalent to one of their average classes, and enrolled me in one of their average English classes, where I read the same books, same Shakespeare play and basically had a breeze of an English class (and was mad as hell about it).

Reputation and reality are not always on level. But that is a different thing from what I was laying out, which is a vision of an education system that accommodates what science has learned about human nature, rather than just nibbling around the edges of a very bad system. The system needs to be replaced from top to bottom.

Sure, we’re getting bronze in the education race, but we are running on no legs, like that taotie. Some other countries have slightly longer stumps than we do, others are quadruple amputees. To paraphrase one of our favorite Martians, we’re going to have to science the shit out of this one.

Paul SB said...

A little "bot" late? That would be when C3PO couldn't shut down the trash compactors on time, right? A little bit late! And "please her with me on this" - as George Takei would say, Oh myyy! Please bear with me... and my illiterate fingers.

Robert said...

Paul, the taotie is depicted in artwork and thus is limited as a result to what the artist can craft while putting it in specific forms. But the myths talk about it eating men. Thus what you are actually saying is that depicting a fierce monster artistically as impotent because of the venue of the art lessens its power - but this thing was still depicted over and over again, not because it was impotent but because its power compelled artists to show the Myth in their art.

Think about God for a moment. How many times do you see God depicted as an old bearded man? Does that mean then that God is an impotent old toothless man (as there was little dental care back in the time of the Bible which suggests then someone who would be missing teeth and the like)? If you tried to tell any Bible-thumper that their God was toothless and powerless, you would have them laugh in your face or attack you.

Any taoties here are not impotent and ridiculous. You just do not currently have the artistic ability to accurately depict them... or have let your views of the art blind you to what lies under the words.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Your claim that Trump isn’t a legitimate President if taken up by many people will create a Constitutional Crisis.


Have you seen the number of people who tweet with #IllegitimatePresident, #SoCalledPresident, #TheResistance, etc? They're not following me--I've jumped on the bandwagon. We'll see whether the wheels have fallen off or not, but my point is that there is nothing happening here of which I am the proximate cause.


The written rules were followed (apparently), but the people reject the results. See where that goes?


It's also the case that back when everyone (including Trump) thought Trump would lose, he was preparing the way for treating Hillary as an illegitimate president. A cloud of suspicion would be over her because of an ongoing FBI investigation. She used a private e-mail server, which even though every other Secretary of State this century did the same thing doesn't make it right. Benghazi! These were reasons enough for Republican Senators to declare ahead of time that they'd refuse to consider any of her Supreme Court nominees for the next four or even eight years.

And all that would have been ok--would not be considered a Constitutional Crisis from which the military would have to protect us--because resistance to Democratic authority is considered patriotic, whereas resistance to a Republican authority is considered treasonous.

I reject that dichotomy.

As to the rules, let's consider a hypothetical case. What if Barack Obama really had been born in Kenya? Wouldn't the American people have a right to know that information before an election? Likewise, we had a right to know of Trump's ties to Putin's Russia ahead of time. That the FBI sat on that information and justified doing so by citing rules about ongoing investigations that they were breaking at the same time concerning lesser offenses by Hillary Clinton is a problem, even if it's not problem I'm perceiving it to be.

Whether the written election rules were broken and whether a coup was pulled off might not be exactly the same question.

David Brin said...

Let me reiterate the scenario which had not appeared anywhere I've looked:

Scenario: VP orders Assad to do the gas attack that Assad wants anyway, thus giving DT cover to act all "strong against Russia" and try to staunch the Siberian Candidate evidence tsunami. DT gives "warning" and spends 59 Tomahawks to plaster a mostly empty base. And the Russians get to test all their anti-Tomahawk methods in a perfect field experiment. How else to explain why half of them went off course? Seriously, how is this not a win-win-win for Putin, who thus protects his greatest asset, in the White House.


onward

onward

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