Thursday, May 04, 2017

The Short Straw Gambit: facing down madness with cleverness

I've suggested this before. Donald Trump is about personality disorders, not ideology! Indeed, the "worst American" George F. Will has reached the same conclusion about the man occupying the Oval Office.  This overlap of diagnosis does not persuade me to cozy up to Will the Traitor. 

Still, by all means read the man's dissection.

Viewing the problem as psychological, instead of fundamentally ideological, opens up an interesting possibility. For example, last month Trump declared war on the GOP's Freedom Caucus -- the 30+ Republican Tea Party radicals who torched Paul Ryan's "Obamacare replacement" bill, though in fact, he was aggrieved personally not politically. His "dealmaking" for the next version (which just passed the House) was entirely about loyalty. He shows no sign of having read or understood the changes.

Hence, this impudent thought: Trump's short attention span and egomania suggest an action by "Short straw Democrats."

== The principle is simple: flattery works! ==

 Donald Trump responds ferociously to those who dislike him and warmly to those who say nice things. Period. Full stop. There is nothing more. There is nothing less. Nothing left or right. Or anything else. So let me repeat it.


And hence, Democrats should hold a caucus to draw straws. Those with short straws must say nice things about Donald Trump.

This does not demand betraying principles! Your stances and votes can all remain the same! But you'll simply and deliberately end any statement about the president with a compliment. 

Example: "While I respectfully disagree with the President on this and a myriad other issues, I will admit that he is among the best-looking leaders this nation ever had."

Will the pandering be obvious? Sure! Will there be nods and winks? Uh-Huh. Will Hannity & Co. scream denunciations of an obvious ploy? Yep! And Trump's inner circle will rail at him to ignore the blatant manipulativeness of the other side's "short straw" volunteers.

But it won't matter! The compliment will stick in Trump's head, where facts and policy positions do not. He will invite the complimenters to dinner, to golf. He'll listen. He'll sway. I'll put money on it.

(Al Franken could pull this off. So could Chuck Schumer. Nancy Pelosi shouldn't try, but Elizabeth Warren?)

Surely there are a few Democrats with the intelligence and strength of character and stomach to do what clearly must be done?

Well.  No.  I guess we've seen the answer to that one.

== The Siberian Candidate – follow the connections ==

Here’s a fascinating timeline, for those who want to study hypocrisy.  If even one or two of these “coincidences” had been done by Obama or Clinton, it would have raised screams of conspiracy! 

What do you do when the “coincidences” pile up and beggar Goldfinger’s Law?

== Sinking their fangs deeper ==

Marissa Mayer Set to Receive $186 Million for Failing...Because... This Is How Corporate America Works.  In addition to $200M in other "compensation."   How is this justified? Our companies are vampired of value in order to "get top talent into management."  Instead of spending to develop new products, members of the CEO-oligarch caste heap on debt to do stock buy-backs that boost their golden parachutes.

Think.  In any other field, high pay would draw in talent from other fields to compete with these 5000 golf buddy CEOs. That flood of competitors should then pull CEO pay down. It's called supply & demand capitalism -- the thing these folks claim to favor!  But it hasn't happened for 40 years.  Instead, this closed cabal appoints each other onto boards that then hire "indispensable" pals at rates that would fund many world nations.

And now they are so rich that wealth disparities have reached levels of 1789 France, affecting politics so that correction is impossible, short of revolution.

See where I decrypt how we came to this. How "business" leaders became the conniving enemies of Adam Smith:

There are still sectors of the U.S. economy that do capitalism and competitive enterprise.  Autos are vibrant and deliver better products, every year. Elon is forcing competition into spaceflight. Silicon Valley is still filled with folks who emphasize product innovation. I do not want the revolution that the Wall Street and CEO caste seem determined to provoke!

We need to remember how FDR and the Greatest Generation staved off Marxism.  With reform.

== Economic and personal freedom: Victims  of government? ==

Libertarians! Does Size of Government (SoG) negatively affect freedom? Is Big Government the enemy of both Personal Freedom (PF) and Economic Freedom (EF)?  The Cato Institute - supposedly the center of libertarian intellect - collected data to study EF and PF and well-being across 160 nations. Some conclusions were expected - EF and PF tend to rise and fall together.

But a simple analysis at Evonomics - using Cato's own data - shows that economic and personal freedom both correlate positively - strongly - with size of government.   That is strongly... positive. Countries with more government tend to have higher PF and EF.  Blatantly so.

Should you be surprised?  As proved during the Greatest Generation - (who adored FDR) - shared investments in infrastructure, schools, health etc. all result in vastly raising the fraction and number of children who can then confidently participate as competitors in vigorous markets, or do the science that stimulates all growth. 

Yes, government bureaucracies can stifle!  But history shows that danger to be far smaller than the threat of re-established cheater-oligarchy.

Finally, it's time to banish the mythos that "democrats favor personal freedom and republicans favor economic freedom."  It is an outright lie.  If 'economic freedom' stands for healthy entrepreneurship, small business startups, competitiveness, innovation, level-competitive playing fields and strong economy-metrics, then democrats score vastly better in that freedom, too.

Republicans only serve the concentration of economic power in an ever-narrowing aristocratic class. 

Name one exception, a vigorously enacted GOP policy that did not pursue that one and only, central Republican goal.

One. Name one.

== Weaponized satire ==

Borowitz is brilliant. "Appearing at his first public event since leaving office, Obama fired off a punishing fusillade of grammatically correct sentences, the likes of which the American people have not heard from the White House since he departed... in what was widely seen as a brutal attack on his successor, without ever once referring to or mentioning Donald Trump." -- writes Andy Borowitz in The New Yorker.

“About five or six sentences in, I noticed that all of his sentences had both nouns and verbs in them,” Carol Foyler said. “I couldn’t believe he was going after Trump like that.” "Obama’s blistering deployment of complete sentences clearly got under the skin of their intended target, who, moments after the event, responded with an angry tweet: “Obama bad (or sick) guy. Failing. Sad!”


125 comments:

Berial said...

"Republicans only serve the concentration of economic power in an ever-narrowing aristocratic class. Name one exception, a vigorously enacted GOP policy that did not pursue that one and only, central Republican goal.

One. Name one."

Their stance on abortion? Seems like it's totally pandering for votes to me(so they can do that concentration of power thing), but it's not directly helping the aristocratic class.



The thing I find MOST wrong with our politics, is when one side of a political divide is TOTALLY for something, and the other side is TOTALLY against it. At that point it's just a numbers game, of who can win votes because compromise can't and won't happen.

If there were pro and anti-abortion Republicans AND Democrats then we'd see the 'issue' mostly go away after a compromise position happened as an example. But once you can turn your brain off and just go totally partisan ALL THINGS become 'us vs them' and 'us' are always correct even when they are provably NOT and 'them' is always wrong even when they obviously aren't.

Laurent Weppe said...

* "Their stance on abortion? Seems like it's totally pandering for votes to me(so they can do that concentration of power thing), but it's not directly helping the aristocratic class."

It cripples plebeian women and therefore weaken the proles as a whole.

Zepp Jamieson said...

That Trump may be so easy to manipulate is possibly the most terrifying thing about him. But I can't see the Democrats engaging in such obvious flattery of the king without antagonizing their supporters and the general public.
In the battle over health care reform (Trumpcare, Repeal and Replace, whatever) NOT ONE Democrat has defected. Not one. On every occasion. And yet I see complaints in the conversation pits around the web about how "the Dems are caving again." Granted, some of that is from stalking-horses, but some of them are coming from people who seems legitimately Democratic supporters.I'm not sure the Dems could pull that off without taking enormous political damage.
The Republicans can do it because expectations of them are so low. Several House members from that side are openly saying that they hate Trumpcare 3.0, but are counting on Senate Dems to kill it. It's a sleazy and reprehensible stance, and they are considered the "good" Republicans, the ones with conscience.
However, appeals to Trumps grandiosity could work. "Give America single payer, and they will be building gold statues of you a thousand years from now!" And if Trump scowls and looks petulent, not caring about people a thousand years from now, add "And they will worship you next year and you'll get the biggest inauguration crowd in history!"
That might work.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Oh, and the first episode of "American Gods" is stunning.

Jumper said...

What is "Goldfinger's Law?"

Every online discussion about Trump eventually turns into recalling this:
James Bond: You expect me to talk?
Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!!

Well, this discussion did, anyway.

Berial said...

I thought GoldFinger's Law would be his quote from the movie:

'Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action'.”

LarryHart said...

Berial:

'Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. The third time it's enemy action'.”


Brexit was Happenstance. Trump could be coincidence. LePen will be enemy action.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

In the battle over health care reform (Trumpcare, Repeal and Replace, whatever) NOT ONE Democrat has defected. Not one. On every occasion. And yet I see complaints in the conversation pits around the web about how "the Dems are caving again." Granted, some of that is from stalking-horses, but some of them are coming from people who seems legitimately Democratic supporters.I'm not sure the Dems could pull that off without taking enormous political damage.


I wonder if they're confusing the moderate Republicans who caved with Democrats.

The Democrats are in danger of missing an opportunity here. In theory, they should be able to run successfully against Republicans who voted for Trumpcare. But that's not going to work if the national party refuses to support a Democratic challenger in (say) Nebraska or Utah if that Democrat doesn't advocate for abortion or against gun rights. One might counter-argue that "there is no difference" between an anti-choice Democrat or an anti-choice Republican, and I would push back with "The Democrat wouldn't have voted to destroy health care in America (and incidentally to de-fund Planned Parenthood)".

We've got to be big-tent while the Republicans denounce each other as RINOs. But big-tent necessarily means that some of your fellows will not align with you on all issues. If we take the attitude that we only support perfect candidates and anything less is "just as bad as a Republican", then it's going to be Republicans all the way down.

Jumper said...

Berial, that was excellent and better than mine.

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6D1nK7q2i8I

When I was young this song was so awesome they played it on pop radio. It gave Shirley Bassey a #8 on the charts.

Dwight Williams said...

We're forgetting to investigate Orbán and Erdoğan. What if they're earlier parts of the pattern?

Jumper said...

More to the point,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAf71o8f27E

LarryHart said...

In my state, every Republican house member from Illinois voted for the repeal, while every Democrat voted against it. Just for those who think there are no difference between the parties.

In other news...

President Snow:

"We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied, or silenced any more."


Translation: Religious people will be allowed to be the bullies.

He obviously is unaware that muslims are people of faith.

Y'know, at this point, California notwithstanding, America deserves to fail. It's not even a matter of dark times coming if that happens--we are bringing the dark times.

Alan Moore wrote this in the 1988 introduction to "V For Vendetta". He was speaking of Britain, but the bolded part sums up my feelings about America at the moment, and this from someone who just enjoyed the heck out of "Hamilton" :


It’s 1988 now. Margaret Thatcher is entering her third term of office and talking confidently of an unbroken Conservative leadership well into the next century. My youngest daughter is seven and the tabloid press are circulating the idea of concentration camps for persons with AIDS. The new riot police wear black visors, as do their horses, and their vans have rotating video cameras mounted on top. The government has expressed a desire to eradicate homosexuality, even as an abstract concept, and one can only speculate as to which minority will be the next legislated against. I’m thinking of taking my family and getting out of this country soon, sometime over the next couple of years. It’s cold and it’s mean-spirited and I don’t like it here anymore.


David Brin said...

Berial please read more carefully. I said: “"Republicans only serve the concentration of economic power in an ever-narrowing aristocratic class. Name one exception, a vigorously enacted GOP policy that did not pursue that one and only, central Republican goal.’

Did you skim? Or cannot you picture the meaning of “vigorously enacted”? Republican pols scream and yell about abortion and accomplish almost nothing. That is by design. They know their ground troops only care about symbolism - about feeling righteous. They don’t care to hols the GOP pols accountable for actually accomplishing any confederate goals.

You dream that both sides would stop being intransigent and simplistic. Sorry, that is malarkey. Democrats come in many flavors and most of them are willing and eager to negotiate. The Post Reagan GOP has been the most disciplined political machine in American history.

David Brin said...

Zepp. I believe that Al Franken could pull off flattering DT with a wink and a smile and every single person on Earth OTHER than Trump will know he’s messin’ with us… and it won’t matter. DT will feel an endorphin rush from the praise and that’s it.

As for health care… WHAT “Obama Care repeal? As far as I can tell, the GOP House bill leaves nearly all of the ACA in place while tweaking away (1) some of its funding sources and requirements that all states fund medicare and help with pre-existing conditions. I have heard nothing about repealing the Individual Mandate to buy insurance.

Or other core ACA aspects.

Paul SB said...

Hey, when was the last time we heard from Laurent? Dude, I thought you would be giving us the blow-by-blow of humanity vs. LePen weeks ago! Glad to see you here again!

As far as the abortion stance goes, I'm a little surprised that this hasn't come up before. It's like a flat tax, it always hurts the poorest the most and the richest the least. And it is always easy to get fools who think in categories instead of complexities behind it because of how it sounds. In that sense it is just like supply side economics, Social Darwinism or genetic determinism. To people who are inclined to think very little but get angry very easily, these things seem like Gospel Truth. It's unfortunate how many people like this there are in the world.

I once read a book called "Thinking Class" about growing up in a poor, mostly Catholic neighborhood. It had some pretty harrowing descriptions of poor girls disappearing from school because they had gotten pregnant after being prostituted by their parents to wealthier members of the congregation (including their priest). Clearly rich males don't have to worry about needing abortion services, but poor females sure do. And yet, even very poor people still vote for these right-wing parasites.

https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Class-Sketches-Cultural-Worker/dp/0896085473/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1493951867&sr=1-1&keywords=thinking+class

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

As for health care… WHAT “Obama Care repeal? As far as I can tell, the GOP House bill leaves nearly all of the ACA in place while tweaking away (1) some of its funding sources and requirements that all states fund medicare and help with pre-existing conditions. I have heard nothing about repealing the Individual Mandate to buy insurance.

Or other core ACA aspects


I'm not sure you saw the details of this new repeal bill which were tweaked so as to bring the #SoCalledFreedom Caucus on board. The individual mandate is definitely gone. Insurance companies are allowed to charge extra for pre-existing conditions. That's exactly the problem that the ACA was meant to address--job lock and dependence on an employer-provided plan.

And states are allowed to petition for waivers to ACA rules, so they can allow plans which exclude such things as maternity care, or even emergency room care. People can buy cheap junk insurance plans and only find out too late that they're not covered for anything useful.

It also de-funds Planned Parenthood and cuts back on assistance for disabled children. Just, y'know, to be a dick.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Hey, when was the last time we heard from Laurent?


Or Alfred Differ, for that matter?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Doctor Brin wrote: "WHAT “Obama Care repeal? As far as I can tell, the GOP House bill leaves nearly all of the ACA in place while tweaking away (1) some of its funding sources and requirements that all states fund medicare and help with pre-existing conditions. I have heard nothing about repealing the Individual Mandate to buy insurance."

I think you may need to reread the bill. This is Trumpcare 3.0, and is identical to the prior versions (eliminating the individual mandate, eliminating subsidies, and leaving pre-existing conditions up to the states. The only significant difference, tailored to appeal to the teabaggers, was to also let states run high-risk insurance.

As I recall, you're 66. Your premiums would quintuple, and worse than that if you have a pre-existing condition (and most guys our age do).

Perhaps you're mixing this up with the Budget CR, which passed the House earlier in the week. It did pretty much what you describe.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "Donald Trump responds ferociously to those who dislike him and warmly to those who say nice things. Period. Full stop."

Sorry, no. Trump postures warmly to those who say nice things - and then flips on them. Hence, Obama "said nice things" but he hesitated less than a minute before tweeting accusations of illegal wiretaps.

When dealing with a celebrity with a flagrantly mercurial temperament and a vast stock of power, the strongest tend to ignore him and placate him while pursuing a personal agenda, gradually sidelining an incompetent child while growing their estates (or getting hunted down and destroyed). So it went throughout the feudal era, and this is the game Republicans want played, as they line their (and their inner circle's) pockets and let a wrecking ball unleash.

No, one does not use judo in a swordfight, or a knife in a gunfight. Far more useful marching, and making friends with responsible people who possess common sense and shared concerns. For example...last week, Donald Trump's pick as a lawyer argued to the US Supreme Court that anyone who lied on a citizenship application about exceeding a speed limit by 5 mph could be denaturalized even 20 years later for that lie alone. (see Maslenjak v. US, in case you missed it - most did, but this was the Supreme Court after all...)

America is full of conservatives (including Justice Roberts) who find such a claim obscene. But there are many who quietly nod, and calculate just whom they might screw out of a house, where to extort, abuse, or exploit... Others will stand up for what is clearly a violation of dearest principles. Telling Trump 'he has a big heart' will get him a photo op - while his shadowbrokers continue their own get-rich schemes.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: As for this - "Marissa Mayer Set to Receive $186 Million for Failing...How is this justified?"

I've answered that question a few times here, and have yet to see a better account. For 30 years or so, executive pay has been a matter of extortion, not merit. Less sexy "where is the body buried" extortion, more money extortion: a CEO, with a handful of rich friends can raid and destroy a company, stripping shareholders of the full value. Stock option plans were supposed to realign the incentives, but they have had a reverse effect.

At the outset of taking a job, the person offering the position has all the leverage, and can play supply and demand. At the ending of a job, the person leaving may have obtained considerable leverage - and offering $200m to someone who 'failed' may save the company billions. I cannot think what sort of reform will change this...whistleblower strategies don't even come close (and in some ways, make it worse), as the incentives will almost always favor the person who really knows something of value to keep their mouth shut about the part that was valuable, while touting distractions.

"this closed cabal appoints each other onto boards that then hire "indispensable" pals at rates that would fund many world nations."
Keep your friends close, and your enemies...fat and lazy.

LarryHart said...

From today's www.electoral-vote.com ...

An evil Republican lays bare the Republican attitude:

[VA Rep Thomas] Garrett also doubled down; when asked about the people whose lives were saved by Obamacare, and who were protesting the new bill, he said he was unconcerned because "none of those people did vote for me." In case the Democrats needed ironclad evidence of the GOP's thought process, now they have it.


A not-so-evil Republican says what we all know:

Perhaps the most damaging words, however, came from a Republican who was never on board with the new bill in the first place, Pat Meehan of Pennsylvania. Appearing on a Philadelphia radio show to explain his "no" vote, he said:

We're doing some of the very things that we criticized the Democrats for doing with Obamacare. Here we have a bill that is going to touch one-fifth of the US economy and as you said the health and welfare of a lot of people, particularly our sickest people and we don't even have a score for it. We don't even know what the CBO is gonna say it actually costs or will do of the form of who's gonna get covered and who's not covered.

LarryHart said...

Again from www.electoral-vote.com , on Sunday's French elections:

The race isn't just over chronologically; the outcome is so little in doubt that French pundits are calling the vote a "non-event." Since the runoff election on April 23, polls have consistently given center-left candidate Emmanuel Macron a 20-point lead. This week, he's pushed it to nearly 25 points—after he, ironically enough, denounced the voters who support the far-right Marine Le Pen as "deplorables." So, she is headed for a defeat of Biblical proportions.


I'd breathe much more of a sigh of relief over conventional wisdom if I weren't getting such a sense of (pardon my French) deja vu here.

I'll be ecstatic if the above analysis is correct, but this year has been full of too many unexpected and unprecedented outcomes to put any faith in conventional wisdom.

I do not want to wake up Monday to the "Hamilton" line:

France is following us to revolution;
There is no more status quo.


Marino said...

Larry,

France has direct popular nationwide vote, no electoral college where 77,000 votes in the right counties may sway a massively popular vote for Hillary, let's praise my atheist's God for that.
Brexit vote at the polls was in the confidence margin (c. 3-4%). But Macron has a lead in the 20-25% range, Ms. le Pen may win if and only if a major landslide of votes comes to her both from the hard Left and the moderate Right.
btw, reading the Brexiters on the Guardian is darkly amusing, as they're all rooting for Le Pen and heaping insult on frau Merkel, one of the few decent, humane and principled politicians on this planet (and I vote for the other party for the EP)

LarryHart said...

just heard on the Stephanie Miller show:

I call this the Caesar Bill, because it will die on the floor of the Senate."


:)

Paul SB said...

Larry,

We haven't heard from Paul 451 recently, either, and a few others I recall being regulars. A few years ago we had two Kiwis, one down in Dunedin, the other up near 90 Mile Beach, but i only remember Duncan. Deuxglass made a recent appearance, and it had been awhile for him. There were some British folks here some time ago - I remember one who used the word /bloke/ and some American thought it was really funny.

Probably every election for the foreseeable future will be a pins-and-needles affair, given the stunning stupidity of the Grope election. Garrett's admission to only caring about those who voted for him is just a matter of being more open under the Grope Administration, where before Republicans (and Democrats, though more of them genuinely believe) would at least pretend that they stood for the American people. It's so easy for them to define "The People" as only the people who think like they do, go to the same churches they do, steal from the same people they do, and to bottom-line it, vote like they do. They claim to have the Mandate from Heaven every time they win by the squeakiest margin, or by political chicanery like getting an EC victory while losing the popular vote. They can make this claim the way all demagogues have always done - by claiming that only their people matter - the rest of us aren't even people.

And that goes for all those who go out and march. We haven't had a Kent State yet, but you know there are millions of Trumpers out there who would just love to see those triggers pulled and watch the blood flow from all those non-people who dare to defy the will of their chosen dictator. But like the original Kent State, the end result is likely to be turning the tide of public opinion against the Party of Thieves, at least for awhile. But those shadow brokers that Donzelion mentioned - they will always be there, financial and ideological vampires sucking the nation dry (and other nations - it's not just about this country when money can be stolen from anywhere. They will always lurk in the shadows when cool heads prevail on Capitol Hill and its equivalents elsewhere, more openly when kleptocrats convince enough people of their worthiness - until someone starts taking what they learn from every version of the Panama Papers and starts killing them like the cockroaches they are. Prosecution won't work. They can pay for more get out of jail cards than there will ever be cases against them. Even if you manage to get one behind bars, they will still call hits from their luxury cells like gang leaders do.

LarryHart said...

Marino:

btw, reading the Brexiters on the Guardian is darkly amusing, as they're all rooting for Le Pen and heaping insult on frau Merkel, one of the few decent, humane and principled politicians on this planet


The Alan Moore bit I quoted above would seem prophetic.

BTW, speaking of Angela Merkel, I'm reminded of that ridiculous image when Trump refused to shake her hand. Maybe only cat owners would see this, but the look on his face went beyond the fact that he didn't like her and didn't want to be civil with her. He was trying to ignore her and pretend that she was not even right there next to him. Cats do this when they encounter each other outside and don't want to fight but know that they are required to if they acknowledge each other's presence. They pointedly look in different directions, and you can almost read a cartoon thought balloon over their heads going, "What other cat? I don't see any other cat? There's no other cat here." Trump was doing that in the video with Merkel.

I used to call my 16-year-old grouch of a pet "Trumpy Cat", but after he was nominated, I gave that up. It was too insulting to the cat.

Darrell E said...

LarryHart,

Despite your final sentence, I am severely disappointed (possibly even triggered) by your comparison of Trump to cats. Although I have to admit that Trump's hair sort of reminds me of Bill The Cat's butt.

LarryHart said...

@Darrel E,

It was just the particular cat. She had a perpetual "Grumpy Cat" expression and hair that kinda/sorta resembled Trump's.

And I already apologized to the cat for the comparison.

Darrell E said...

Paul SB said...

"They claim to have the Mandate from Heaven every time they win by the squeakiest margin, or by political chicanery like getting an EC victory while losing the popular vote. They can make this claim the way all demagogues have always done - by claiming that only their people matter - the rest of us aren't even people."

This brings to mind something I came across yesterday from that icon of ethical purity Conrad Black.

"Because there was so much misunderstanding and overwrought, misplaced hysteria from some readers, I will wind this up by restating key points with mind-numbing simplicity. We have no idea how the universe, or any version of the life and context we know, originated. We have no idea of the infinite, of what was before the beginning or is beyond any spatial limits we can imagine, even with the great exploratory progress of science. Miracles sometime occur and people do sometimes have completely inexplicable insights that are generally described as spiritual. No sane and somewhat experienced person disputes any of this. But there is a cyber-vigilante squad of atheist banshees that swarm like bats over such comments and are hyperactive philistines better responded to with pest control measures than logical argument." [http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/conrad-black-i-put-this-as-simply-as-possible-many-atheists-are-excellent-but-atheism-itself-is-hurting-the-west]

Though not precisely analogous to the issue you were commenting on this is a perfect example of the same general behavior. Othering people because they aren't members of your tribe. Targeted ideological propaganda for the purpose of gaining power and authority over others. And yes, this is hardly unique to the USA.

That article is worth a read. It's a nasty piece of work. I'd recommend turning off all irony meters though.

Paul451 said...

PaulSB,
"We haven't heard from Paul 451 recently"

Meh. No loss from that guy.

--

From the main article: ""Republicans only serve the concentration of economic power in an ever-narrowing aristocratic class. Name one exception..."
Berial: "Their stance on abortion?"

Expanding on David's reply, he's saying look at their actions not their words. The Republican party holds all three branches of government, as they did for years under GWBush, but what have they done to ban abortion?

Likewise, they hold many state governments, state courts, as well as that majority in US Supreme Court for a couple of decades. How many Republican controlled states have tried to outright ban abortions in order to trigger a USSC challenge to Roe/Wade?

Lots of words, a few token nasty anti-women measures and defunding PP, but in spite of "pro-life" being a supposed core principle of every Republican candidate, what have they actually done that comes close to matching the scale of their words?

--

David,
"Name one exception..."

Voter suppression.

--

LarryHart,
Re: France.
"but this year has been full of too many unexpected and unprecedented outcomes to put any faith in conventional wisdom."

Except, while a grey-banker, Macron is still largely seen as a political outsider, untarnished by the establishment parties. (Although French political "parties" are more of a soup than what we see in the Anglosphere.)

Fillon was the Hillary Clinton candidate, and performed accordingly. Macron's more of an Obama figure.

(I guess that makes Melenchon the Bernie Sanders?)

David Brin said...

Yeah, Obamacare is gone. The media was concentrating so hard on pre-existing conditions that they said nothing about the rest.

Berial said...

David, Paul
I agree that abortion isn't nearly the focus that empowering the powerful is, and I agree that they often just throw it lip service, but they DO try to do something from time to time in this sphere, and it's an example of the flip side of the equation: Empowering the Powerful, Immiserating the miserable(poor). Chipping away at abortion rights, and de-funding Planned Parenthood isn't enriching the rich, but it DOES punish the poor. (It's a really good example of 'What would a dick do'.)

It's not anywhere near their top priority, but it is in their list. Especially at the state level, where they toss some legislation to their state legal section to go to federal court over (and over and over again). Saying it is symbolic is true, but it STILL takes up some of their time.

As for voter suppression, wouldn't that just be empowering the powerful by shrinking the poor's voice?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Darryl E wrote: "Although I have to admit that Trump's hair sort of reminds me of Bill The Cat's butt. "

It's not just coincidence. In Breathed's "Outland" series, Donald J. Trump spent a couple of years with his brain transplanted into Bill the Cat's body. I sometimes wonder if Trump finally hit him with a cease-and-desist order.

Darrell E said...

Zepp Jamieson,

That's funny as hell! I never knew that.

Midboss57 said...

Trump does remind me of a certain cat: fat, orange, greedy and selfish... now what was his name again ?

Darrell E said...

LarryHart said...
@Darrel E,

"And I already apologized to the cat for the comparison."

I'm guessing she grumpily ignored you?

And from earlier . . .

"It also de-funds Planned Parenthood and cuts back on assistance for disabled children. Just, y'know, to be a dick."

A straightforward implementation of a common attitude among anti-abortion proponents. Save the embryos (the gametes even) but the born are on their own. That second part in particular fits perfectly with typical Republican Party attitudes.

matthew said...

Note that Melenchon is not the French Bernie Sanders - he's the French Jill Stein. Both got substantial help from Russia. They are both Anti-Enlightenment.

Jill was at the same meeting with the Russians that torpedoed Mike Flynn. Not a coincidence. Remember I warned about her and her support from RT *before* the election and before her meetings with the Russians were public knowledge.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/18/jean-luc-melenchon-germany-putin-french-presidential-race

http://www.palmerreport.com/opinion/jill-stein-putin-russia-paid/1647/

A.F. Rey said...

Trump does remind me of a certain cat: fat, orange, greedy and selfish... now what was his name again ?

He already served as President years ago. ;)

donzelion said...

Paul SB: "But those shadow brokers...will always be there"
I have no doubt of it. The thing is, political affairs are a different process - reducing the 'political' to personal manipulation will always result in a cascade of self-service and petty posturing.

In feudalism, there is nothing more - and any attempt to create anything more is likely to result in being crushed. In democracy, there CAN be something more - but again, new tools and processes have been created to destroy democracy just as others are used to shore it up.

I do not see them as 'cockroaches' - just folks pulling strings that few even recognize exist. The Panama Papers will be primarily of interest to lawyers chasing the work of other lawyers hiding their assets - a few headlines, a few thousand billable hours to bury the treasure elsewhere. As a strategy, prosecution can't work, nor flattery. As tactics? One does what one must with what one has. But what really is worth hoping for is hope itself - those shared, inspiring things worth defending zealously, along with those pursuing/inventing/discovering/creating them.

donzelion said...

Paul451: "The Republican party holds all three branches of government, as they did for years under GWBush, but what have they done to ban abortion?"

Mostly, chip away at it: Planned Parenthood is the last of the major facilities that made a practice of doing abortions openly and fighting to destigmatize women who underwent the procedure, as well as making it an available option. Republicans have done a great deal to increase the cost of abortion, requiring useless medical procedures (adding $500 here, $1000 there), overnight stays to review and contemplate (adding $200 here, $400 there), etc.

An outright ban would result in too many of their mistresses, daughters, and wives going to jail. Hypocrites never enjoy getting caught.

"How many Republican controlled states have tried to outright ban abortions in order to trigger a USSC challenge to Roe/Wade?"
Many, but the laws get blocked by the courts and never take effect - indeed, it's always purely for show since they know the laws will never survive. So long as they join the anti-abortion bandwagon, Evangelicals give them a pass as they raid the taxpayer funds and re-route them to benefit their cronies. It is easy to be a Republican legislator: appease the ones who matter, shrug at all the rest. No need to compromise, cooperate, or do much of anything so long as all due appearances are maintained for the ones that matter.

Paul SB said...

Darrell,

Coming from a fellow like Conrad Black, I think I'll take a pass. I need to spend my time doing things that will benefit my mental health. But I'm okay with your somewhat tangential connection. Scapegoating and "othering" is such a consistent tactic used by humans the world over you can never give too many warnings about it. Even my comment to Donzelion about cockroaches smacks of it, though I stand by my opinion that these people are malicious and opposed to the human species, not merely self-serving opportunists (for the most part - I'm sure most of them genuinely believe the Social Darwinian nonsense that the rich have used to rationalize their excesses in the face of so much human suffering, but that hardly excuses them).

Paul 451 said,
"Meh. No loss from that guy."
- Actually, I like that guy, even when I disagree with him. That might just be a measure of how desperate I am for friends - few teachers who are trying for their students have time to have friends, and it's pretty dehumanizing. In this case I mostly agree with him on Republican tokenism on abortion. It is much like how they scream and scream about welfare, but it was a Democrat who actually did something about it. But Berial is also right that even the token efforts they make do a lot to screw the common people. If my wife hadn't tied the tubes long ago I would be thanking the Spaghetti Monster we don't live in Texas right now. Then again, living in the US is a hazard, just looking at how the Grope is trying to dismantle healthcare. Anyone who isn't rich is pretty well screwed. I just heard an interview with a correspondent fro Australia comparing their healthcare system to ours, and it was not a pretty picture. I was always told by my right-wing compatriots growing up that the US has the best healthcare in the world, but it is increasingly clear that what we have is the best healthcare huge amounts of money can buy. The problem isn't the healthcare system, its the economic system.

"Empowering the powerful" - it's what Republicans do.

Donzelion,

Yes, in feudalism there is nothing more, whereas in democracy there can be something more. But when you think about it, democracy (the modern incarnation, anyway) began under feudal regimes. Democracy was a movement to end the kind of personal aggrandizement at the expense of the people that feudalism (or more properly, aristocracy) represents (feudalism at least began as an appropriate response to defend the people against intermittent raiding from Vikings, Magyars and Saracens). Thus while it is possible for democracy to become just like aristocracy, that is a corruption of its purpose. What we are seeing today is an evolution of the system, aptly caught by this quote:

"It is always sound business to take any obtainable net gain, at any cost and at any risk to the rest of the community."
- Thorstein Veblen

We in the US have traded the old aristocracy of Europe for the new aristocracy of business, naively assuming it would be better because competition would magically reduce all the big cheaters the same level as decent and honest people. Maybe it is better, or maybe it was better 50 years ago but business has matured into full aristocracy since then, complete with religious tenets to justify itself.

I do like what you said about hope itself. If we can keep memes of improvement and betterment going and not let law-of-the-jungle excrement go unchallenged, we have a prayer (and I would still be open to a yogurt date, but you never responded to my decloaking).


locumranch said...


Paul_SB's extreme Pro-Abortion boosterism is good for a laugh, ignorant as he is of the law of inadvertent consequence, for (while once credited as a moderate means of lifting cash-poor but child-rich Catholic ethnics out of poverty) it has since been redefined as an attempt at ethnic cleansing by the likes of 'BlackGenocide.org', in a manner eerily reminiscent of both the self-castrating Cybeleans & sterility cult promoted by David in the novel 'Earth'.

What a math-based Devil's Bargain!!

For a *Limited Time Only*, you too can climb out of economic poverty at the mere price of personal & ethnic reproductive extinction, much in the same way that our very own Luis accepts eventual Portuguese Extinction in a mere 6 generations (due to a below-replacement birth rate of 1.21 children per female) as 'fair dinkum' in exchange for immediate EU economic prosperity and membership.

Pure & Simple, Abortion is merely another means to population control & ethnic cleansing, even though it has been quite successfully marketed as a 'Woman's Right to CHOOSE', the rough moral equivalent of population thinning through either classical warfare or Zyklon B.

As mentioned above: Once is happenstance; Twice is coincidence; the Third time is Causality; and the West is merely waking up to (and rejecting) our current cultural Death Path.


Best

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Yeah, Obamacare is gone.


If it passes the Senate, yes. That's still in question. Especially since "States can opt out of coverage standards" probably doesn't count as a budgetary measure which can be passed via reconciliation.

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

David,
"Name one exception..."

Voter suppression


I see that as a means to their other ends. They don't suppress Democratic votes for its sake. Rather, voter suppression gets Republicans into power. From that power, they enact their agenda.

LarryHart said...

A.F. Rey:

"Trump does remind me of a certain cat: fat, orange, greedy and selfish... now what was his name again ?"

He already served as President years ago. ;)


Maybe this presidency will end the same way.

What? Too soon?

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart,

I haven't vanished. I got sick for a week+ and I'm finishing moving my family from one house to another. Those two overlapped and made it even more of a joy. 8)

Swollen tonsils and general weakness. Nothing catastrophic. I'll be back in a couple of days.

-al

Zepp Jamieson said...

locumranch wrote: "Paul_SB's extreme Pro-Abortion boosterism is good for a laugh, ignorant as he is of the law of inadvertent consequence"

Steven D. Levitt, author of Freakanomics, postulated that the reason the violent crime rate dropped in the 90s and has remained relatively low is because abortion was legalised in the 70s. The result was millions of foetuses who would have been unwanted children born to women unable to care for them didn't happen, with a vast drop in unloved and alienated children. There is a bias in who gets abortions, but it's based on income, not race. Poor whites have as high an abortion rate as poor blacks, and for identical reasons.
You can't have the inhumane dogfight of a society libertarians want and at the same time demand that people accede to your squeamish pseudo-moralistic demands.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Zepp
The lead in petrol hypothesis matches the worldwide data for the rise and fall in violent crime much better than the Abortion hypothesis

locumranch said...



28%.

28% of all US police shootings target the black male minority, even though only 13% of the total US population identifies as 'black', and this statistical doubling to 28% is considered 'proof positive' of endemic & institutional US racism by the progressive left.

36%.

36% of all US abortions target the black female minority, even only 13% of the total US population identifies as 'black', and this near statistical tripling to 36% is celebrated as race indifferent 'freedom of choice' by the progressive left.

These so-called progressive arguments are internally inconsistent & irreconcilable:

One may as well either condemn the West's liberal abortion policy that selectively targets the US black female minority as 'proof positive' of endemic & institutional US racism (as does Black Genocide.org) or CELEBRATE the disproportionate police shootings of the US black male minority as progressive race indifferent 'freedom of choice'.

After all, who are YOU to deny the US black male minority the 'Their Body, Their Choice' liberty to be shot by police????


Best
______

Wait! Maybe Police Shootings & Abortion percentages correlate best with POVERTY rather than race or 'mah choice', but only a HATER would use such White Supremacist Logic. Logic is RACIST, don't ya know?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Duncan Cairncross wrote: "The lead in petrol hypothesis matches the worldwide data for the rise and fall in violent crime much better than the Abortion hypothesis"
That's a much more complicated correlation, given the fact that not all nations stopped using leaded gas at the same time, statistics on crime rates vary enormously on reliability (and even countries that have reliable records, such as the UK, have different interpretations of what "violent crime" is). And of course laws on abortion vary enormously, too. So I don't see how it's possible to draw a correlation.

Zepp Jamieson said...

locumranch: "36% of all US abortions target the black female minority, even only 13% of the total US population identifies as 'black'"

"Target is a bloody silly word to use in this context. It's not like people are dragging them, kicking and screaming, into clinics and forcing them to abort.

The poor are the ones who are coerced into abortions. The abortion rate amongst poor whites is just as high. And exceeds the size of the demographic by a similar amount.

There is a solution: the higher the life security of the population, the lower the birth rate. And, counterintuitively, the lower the abortion rate. People with easy access to birth control and no need to have a half-dozen kids to take care of them in their old age use the birth control and don't have kids.

Paul SB said...

This definitely wasn't his best, was it? I could already see where he was going in his first comment before reading his second one. Like so many of his rants, it's an old rhetorical trick used by a lot of churches, at least in Plains region where I grew up. They commonly try to shoot down their Darwinian boogeymen by claiming that they contradict themselves, but they can only generate apparent contradictions by fabricating very faulty chains of logic. In locum's case, he asserts that supporting abortion rights and supporting minority rights is contradictory, because abortion is far more common among poor minorities than among the wealthiest members of the majority. The flaw in this logic - equating reproductive rights with genocide - is the assumption that fecundity equals survival. This assumption is easy to pass off to uneducated people who have never heard of R- verses K-strategies, though even some poorly educated people are smart enough to see the gapping hole in this one. Since at least the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, overproduction has generally meant multi-generational poverty. The Demographic Transition is all about lowering birth rates because child labor is worse than useless in an industrial economy - the opposite of an agricultural economy, where child labor is productive. Convincing the poor, minority or otherwise, that they must breed in huge numbers to survive is dooming them to poverty. Supporting both minorities and reproductive rights are completely consistent, if you have at least a high school education - and paid attention in biology class.

Of course there are other bits of asinine behavior here. Notice how he singled out just one of four people who commented on abortion rights (and not even the one who first broached the subject), and ASSumed that he knows that person's stance on that subject (the assumption being that everyone who he classifies as more liberal than himself must have all the same opinions about everything. Then he had to malign our host, presumably because he has had a grudge against him for far longer. Either way, it's just another example of his usual sophomoric ravings. The second post was even more lunatic.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

There is a solution: the higher the life security of the population, the lower the birth rate. And, counterintuitively, the lower the abortion rate. People with easy access to birth control and no need to have a half-dozen kids to take care of them in their old age use the birth control and don't have kids.


Loc would see what you propose as a lose-lose situation. To him, high life security is a bad thing, as is a lower birth rate. Apparently God wants us to be miserable, and that that misery should be spread as widely as possible.

LarryHart said...

Three times is enemy action!

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-election-macron-leaks-idUSKBN1812AZ


Macron's French presidential campaign emails leaked online

Leading French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron's campaign said on Friday it had been the target of a "massive" computer hack that dumped its campaign emails online 1-1/2 days before voters choose between the centrist and his far-right rival Marine Le Pen.

Macron, who extended his lead in the polls over Le Pen on Friday, is seen as the frontrunner in an election billed as the most important in France in decades.

Some nine gigabytes of data were posted by a user called EMLEAKS to Pastebin, a document-sharing site that allows anonymous posting. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for posting the data or if any of it was genuine.

In a statement, Macron's political movement En Marche! (Onwards!) confirmed that it had been hacked.
...
On Friday night as the #Macronleaks hashtag buzzed around social media, Florian Philippot, deputy leader of the National Front, asked on Twitter; "Will Macronleaks teach us something that investigative journalism has deliberately killed?"

Macron spokesman Sylvain Fort, in a response on Twitter, called Philippot's tweet "vile".


Duncan Cairncross said...

"Of course the Australians have better healthcare than we do --everybody does"

Guess who just said (tweeted) that!!

locumranch said...


First, Zepp claims that "It's not like people are dragging them, kicking and screaming, into clinics and forcing them to abort" and (second) he claims that "The poor are the ones who are coerced into abortions". Anyone care to define what 'coerced' means?

Then, there was that Stupid Racist who dared to claim that "All Lives Matter" only to be pilloried in the press for daring to 'expand on' & therefore diminish the mattering of "Black Lives".

Likewise, the "Poor Lives Matter" argument is unacceptably 'classist' ...

Plus it would run contrary to incessant abuse heaped on the Impoverished Rural Red Hillbilly (who is believed to DESERVE his poverty, being deprived of his children every June) by the much more enlightened & wealthy Urban Blues, much in the same way history's greatest villains have always justified the political impoverishment & enslavement of any other similarly 'inferior' minority.


Best
____
Did PaulSB not read 'Earth' wherein that bimbo-ish flower child tries to 'coerce' the (minor) male teenage protagonist into sterilisation with the promise of immediate sex? Sha la la la la la live for today and don't worry 'bout tomorrow, hey.

On an individual basis, 'high life security' is an IMPOSSIBLE thing rather than a 'bad thing'. Children are Our Future, Larry_H, not wealth. Wealth is the real chimera. It is a will-o'-the-wisp that you will kiss goodbye in family court.

We can only hope that Le Pen can free the rural French from urban Parisian oppression, like Brexit freed the rural British from London's urban tyranny.

David Brin said...

Alfred! Good luck with the move! Hope it is a reason to celebrate.

Paul SB “New aristocracy of business”… please separate it out and don’t drive a wedge with “business.” When kept flat and competitive, business is productive. Try “cheating aristocrats of inheritance and parasitical finance.”

locum argued well, this last time! (about how birth control will depoppulate the world. A dumb point, but cogently expressed. In fact, empowering women to have just 2 kids has saved the world. It’s enabled them to raise two without poverty and with health/education so those two may then make sovereign choices of their own. Including whether to have more kids. Dig it. They will then make that choice based on logic and self interest, and locum is free to talk them into choosing to have more kids.

But no, he distrusts them. They must be FORCED by poverty and repression of women to have more kids, — born into starvation in a world that’s in a death spiral, yippee!

Hey guy. Let’s get all the kids healthy and with empowered brains, then make your arguments about “extinction by depopulation” to them, logically. Those who listen to you will populate the globe!

Forcing them to breed as impoverished peons? That is cruel, stupid, feudal and evil.

Oh, but that wasn’t his latest, there’s this hilarity: “28% of all US police shootings target the black male minority, even though only 13% of the total US population identifies as 'black', and this statistical doubling to 28% is considered 'proof positive' of endemic & institutional US racism by the progressive left.”

Whaaaaaaaa? Count up the black republicans! DT does it at every rally: “Ooooh there’s one!”

What? they are fools for supporting liberals? Unable to parse their self-interest. Racist-patronizing Mofo.

Oh, but like a stopped clock, he was right about: “Then, there was that Stupid Racist who dared to claim that "All Lives Matter" only to be pilloried in the press for daring to 'expand on' & therefore diminish the mattering of "Black Lives”.”

I never claimed the left as without its own hypocrisies.

David Brin said...

"Did PaulSB not read 'Earth' wherein that bimbo-ish flower child tries to 'coerce' the (minor) male teenage protagonist into sterilisation with the promise of immediate sex?"

So? I am CONTRARY Brin! I aim barbs at lefty nonsense too! The wide moderate-liberal-progressive coalition CONTAINS some howler loonies who provide fox with anecdotes to point to, shrieking: "See? ALL liberals and moderates are like that!!!!!"

Outright evil liars.

What IS true is that ALL people on the right are now functionally insane. Those of decent soul and average or better intelligence who still make "see-no-evil" ostrich -denial moans and rationalizations are the worst. The US right today - the confederacy - CONSISTS of hysterics, down the line. There is a difference between CONTAINS and CONSISTS.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Oh, but like a stopped clock, he was right about: “Then, there was that Stupid Racist who dared to claim that "All Lives Matter" only to be pilloried in the press for daring to 'expand on' & therefore diminish the mattering of "Black Lives”.”

I never claimed the left as without its own hypocrisies.


Locum uses words and "logic" in ways the rest of us don't, so without knowing the incident in question, I wouldn't take that interpretation at face value.

I did cringe back (when the earth was still cooling) during the Democratic primary debates when a moderator asked "Is it 'Black Lives Matter', or 'All Lives Matter'?" That's the right-wing spin which insinuates that 'Black Lives Matter' asserts special rights for blacks and implies that All (other than Black) Lives Do Not Matter. The correct interpretation (and I'm not going to say "I may be wrong" this time, because I'm not wrong) is that Black Lives Matter because All Lives Matter, So Let's Stop Treating Black Lives As If They Don't Matter. That won't fit on a bumper sticker, so BLM is an appropriate shorthand.

If someone wants to then claim that it makes just as much sense to say, "All Lives Matter because All Lives Matter, So Let's Stop Treating All Lives As If They Don't Matter," hey knock yourself out. It will only emphasize the flaw in your argument.

Dr Brin quotes locumranch:

"Did PaulSB not read 'Earth' wherein that bimbo-ish flower child tries to 'coerce' the (minor) male teenage protagonist into sterilisation with the promise of immediate sex?"


And did locumranch read the same passage in which that coercion didn't work? 'Cause I apparently missed the next part where the Feminist Government forcibly sterilized the guys for their own good. She tried persuasion and it didn't work, and all of the characters seemed completely plausible to me as human beings, not as symbols for particular political points of view.

Geez, the same book made the point over and over again that you can't expect people to care about environmentalism until their food and clothing and shelter are adequate. The difficulty is in finding balance between competing interests, not to choose between food and a planet to live on. Likewise, a certain subset of humanity does care enough about reproducing that they're not going to willingly forego it for negative population growth. A balanced measure there is to have one or two kids, which I suspect Remi would have been more than satisfied with.

LarryHart said...

Any news from our Europeans following the French elections?

Has LePen suddenly and mysteriously come within a hairsbreadth of Macron in late polling?

Interpol opening an investigation of Macron's e-mails?

As Aaron Burr said to Hamilton in "Hamilton", "I'm getting nervous."

LarryHart said...

Speaking of the musical "Hamilton"...

My daughter's friend told us a story that was supposedly about a cousin of hers, although I wonder if it is apocryphal. Even so, it's funny just as a story. After seeing "Hamilton", the youngster in question wondered why people thought Barack Obama had been the first black president. "What about Washington and Jefferson and Madison"?

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Then, there was that Stupid Racist who dared to claim that "All Lives Matter" only to be pilloried in the press for daring to 'expand on' & therefore diminish the mattering of "Black Lives".


I expounded on this above, but you are being disingenuous, sir! In theory, there's nothing wrong with the assertion that "All Lives Matter", just as there is nothing wrong with advocating, as the Founders did, for "religious liberty". In practice, both phrases have become code words for something other than what the words mean. When someone in politics talks about "religious liberty", they mean the freedom of the religious institutions to exercise the coercion of others that their religion demands--a different thing, in fact the opposite thing of the original intent. You'd be proud. In like manner, anyone who asserts "All Lives Matter" as a slogan is trying to say "Black Lives Don't Actually Matter". They're denying that the problem being addressed is black lives being treated as if they don't matter.


On an individual basis, 'high life security' is an IMPOSSIBLE thing rather than a 'bad thing'. Children are Our Future, Larry_H, not wealth. Wealth is the real chimera.


So is "Outliving the end of the universe". In the end, all our drives and aspirations are short-term, aren't they? Quality of life is as important as quantity.

I'm not against children. I have one of my own. I just don't subscribe to the "more is better" philosophy that you promote. Cell growth in ones own body is a good thing too, but you'd be an idiot to assert as a positive thing, "Cancer is My Future".

Ahhh, but now we come to...

It [wealth] is a will-o'-the-wisp that you will kiss goodbye in family court.


That explains so much.


We can only hope that Le Pen can free the rural French from urban Parisian oppression, like Brexit freed the rural British from London's urban tyranny.


The way Putin frees rural Russians from Moscow's tyranny? That works out well, huh?

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

Sorry about the poor wording here:

Paul SB “New aristocracy of business”… please separate it out and don’t drive a wedge with “business.” When kept flat and competitive, business is productive. Try “cheating aristocrats of inheritance and parasitical finance.”

No, I don't think that business is a bad thing. We are for the most part on the same page here. It is big business that almost always becomes cancerous to the human race. Not all of these corporate executives are inherited aristocrats, some began as middle-class business majors who clawed, back-stabbed and brown-nosed their way to the top, which is essentially the American Dream in today's terms. Small business has little power to damage and even less power to corrupt. It is at that level where the laws of supply and demand work. Once businesses get too big, their own inertia, and their ability to corrupt governments, diminishes the impact of economic laws. They become inherited polities of their own, analogous to how chiefdoms evolve into states.

If you have the time, pick up Paul Zak's "The Trust Factor." It's a very positive book full of explanations for how businesses can be managed in humane ways that don't crush their employees, and gobs of examples of very successful companies that follow those management principles and thrive because of it. I never thought I would ever read a book on business management, and never imagined one could be so interesting. Of course, what makes it interesting is that most Americans have dealt with employers who operate on the opposite management principles - the ones laid down by Ebenezer Scrooge and illustrated so truthfully by Dilbert. Those are the management principles that produce our epidemic of mental disorders, and epidemic not much of anyone wants to talk about because of the stigma of admitting that anyone you know or might be related to is "crazy." I was saying 20 years ago that the way American-style capitalism works will create a crisis of mental health, and now the statistics bear my prediction out. Humans don't just need food on the table and the money to buy it.

One of the central ironies of dealing with locum is that the party he insists will save the nation is exactly the one that invariably works for the interests of exactly those oppressive, corrupting big businesses that are responsible for so much misery and preventable death. Perhaps he supports the Republican Party so vigorously because he is a doctor, and more human misery means more business for him. The whole rural red/urban blue thing is just a canard. What he is really after is maximizing pain, fear and stress in American life, so it increases the number of people who are crippled by American business practices, increasing the number of people who become dependent on the medical system, meaning him and his golf buddies.

Promoting excessive fecundity and the misery that results in fits the pattern, too. More people means more misery, which means more heart disease, more cancer, more renal failure, respiratory disease, more stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's and accidents (all stress-related). In short, more business for doctors like him.

And yes, I have read "Earth," or rather I listened to it on CD in my car.

Tim H. said...

From my un-exalted perspective, it seems that creating a supportive environment for young people would be a more effective means of reducing abortions, which I'll admit to believing should continue to be available. The problem with that is such a world would seem socialist (Read the book of Acts and get over it already.). Time to own up to the noisome origins of contemporary conservatism, have a close look at your fellow travelers, you don't have to associate with EVERYONE who claims conservatism. You don't have to blindly follow people who are clearly thralls.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I suspect that if abortion really was 'racial genocide' a lot of conservatives in this country would mute their opposition to it.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

Everything you wrote about the Black Lives Matter/All Lives Matter thing is right. I would just add that weasel speak, like racism, is a sword that cuts both ways. I have known more than a few African American people (and Latino/Latina people as well) who think that "Black Lives Matter" means that non-black lives don't matter. And it's not just against Caucasians. The local radio has been making a big deal about the 25th anniversary of the Rodney King Riots, and a whole lot of Korean people and businesses were targeted by the rioters. Granted most of what I hear is from school-age kids, but these are kids who are just a year or two from adulthood, and I sometimes get the same thing from their parents. Obviously not all of them, not even a majority, but as long as we keep thinking in racial terms racism isn't going to go away, it will only fester.

W.E.B duBois was right about one very important thing - it ultimately boils down to power and money. M.L.K.'s fight for the vote and civil liberties was a great thing, as was Booker Washington's fight for equal education. But as long as race can be used as a substitute for class, and poverty is treated as if it were a racial characteristic, the problems of racially motivated crime, extra-judicial killing (a.k.a. racially-motivated police shootings), racial gangs and a host of other issues (look at racial disparities in life expectancies and health outcomes, for instance) will not go away.

So yes, black lives matter, white lives matter, brown, yellow, red lives - however people want to categorize themselves - they all matter. The 99% matters. The 1% matters too, but in a different way, since so many of those 1% (but not all - I have to throw out a lot of qualifiers) act as parasites on the human race. Even locum's life matters, if only as an example of how not to live life. I still wouldn't kill him if I met him in a dark alley. He's still just a petty, small-minded grinch who has little real power to hurt people. Only fools are persuaded by his "logic" - which is not to say we don't need to keep tearing it down, as many people see silence as assent. Ultimately racism will fade into the history books only once we have solved the problems and stopped the horrors of SES. Tackling racism by itself is necessary but insufficient. If we ever really achieve the flat-open-fair that Dr. Brin goes on about, then society will have no more stomach for racism. Ditto sexism, though I'm not so sure about religion and nationalism.

"Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky."
- Rabindranath Tagore

Replace "my life" with "our world."

Paul SB said...

Tim, you just made my point (and I suspect that Zepp mad one of Larry's points, too). Apologies to people who think of themselves as conservatives but don't embrace their more typical hatreds, but you need to look more closely at your strange bedfellows, and make choices based on more than one issue.

Zepp Jamieson said...

locumranch wrote: "First, Zepp claims that "It's not like people are dragging them, kicking and screaming, into clinics and forcing them to abort" and (second) he claims that "The poor are the ones who are coerced into abortions". Anyone care to define what 'coerced' means?"

The type of coercion that no libertarian ever likes to admit even exists: economic coercion. The leading cause of abortion is that the mother decides she can't bear the economic burden of a child.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry Hart asked: "Has LePen suddenly and mysteriously come within a hairsbreadth of Macron in late polling?"

I'm happy to report with 16 hours before voting begins, Macron still has a 25 point lead. I think this might actually backfire on the Russians--unlike most Americans, the French were paying close attention to what happened here last October.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

The type of coercion that no libertarian ever likes to admit even exists: economic coercion. The leading cause of abortion is that the mother decides she can't bear the economic burden of a child.


According to ex-congressman Joe Walsh, she should have had a better job, and if she doesn't, it's not fair to take his money to shore up her deficiency.

The conservative answer to children in poverty is to not have sex. Let's take that at their word. How is insisting that poor black women be chaste any less genocidal than is letting them abort their pregnancies?


Macron still has a 25 point lead. I think this might actually backfire on the Russians--unlike most Americans, the French were paying close attention to what happened here last October.


I'm guessing that the American debacle stands as an object lesson--that if the tactic had been tried first in France, it might have worked there, and we'd have been more wary. People really do seem to understand that "The third time is enemy action."

Anyway, from your lips to God's ear.

locumranch said...



Zepp makes note of an unpleasant reality that most of you 'Marching Maroons' prefer to ignore: Morality is DEAD; the Enlightened West killed it in the 1970s; and it's been Economics 'uber alles' ever since.

From Abortion to Space Travel to Climate Change to Cheating, once-was certain issues were thought calculations 'Moral', being concerned (as they were) with the judgment of right or wrong of human action, character & divinity. That age is past, however.

Now, it's all cost-benefit analysis performed by self-serving identity groups immersed in an Eternal Present during a time period that Fukuyama refers to as 'The End of History'.

We have reached our unidirectional apex, we tell ourselves, believing that any change of course can only lead to discomfort, chaos & death, causing the likes of Zepp & PaulSB to conclude that our very posterity of future generations is either an "economic burden" or "more misery", implying that it is so much better to go extinct than invest in an uncertain & frighteningly mortal future.

May Trump & Wilders & Le Pen serve as your wake-up call & 'memento mori':

Your comfortable present has little or no lasting value.


Best

Treebeard said...

If zoo animals could talk, would they call their inability to breed in captivity a "demographic transition", or a slow genocide? Would they call all the new pathologies they've developed in their cages "progress"? Would they prefer such a life to their wild existence, hunting and struggling and living according to their nature? Not the first generation, but after a few generations of education, their domesticated descendents would learn that their ancestors lived in "a million years of darkness" before the advent of the Zoo Enlightenment—a barbaric world of unbridled Darwinism, speciesism and no "animal rights".

Nietzsche called liberalism the "herd-animalization" of humanity; progressivism must be the "zoo-animalization". Wild animals are nasty and illiberal compared to pets, and so are conservative humans. For our kind, being called nasty and mean and "dicks" by the likes of zoo animals like Bill Maher and Larry Hart is a compliment, like the pet poodle calling the wolf a "barbarian".

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

For our kind, being called nasty and mean and "dicks" by the likes of zoo animals like Bill Maher and Larry Hart is a compliment


Ok, then. You're a dick.

LarryHart said...

Duh! Every organism including insects and bacteria try as hard as possible to be themselves. That doesn't mean that we--human society--welcome them. I don't care if it hurts smallpox's feelings to eradicate it from the face of the earth. Likewise, Holnism for much the same reason. It's you or us. I vote for us. You can be as proud of your dick-hood as you want, but it won't make you less deplorable in the eyes of the rest of human society.

Treebeard said...

Is that the bleating of a sheep I hear? "Baaa! Baaa! Go away nasty wolves! You can be proud of your dickhood but like the Zookeeper says, you're deplorable! It's you or us! I vote for us! Baaaa!"

You sound confused Larry; we are the same species as you, just a less domesticated breed. It's not you or us, because we're always with you. The only way you get rid of us is to get rid of everyone. You can't survive without us any more than "Good Kirk" could survive without "Bad Kirk".

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:


Is that the bleating of a sheep I hear?


No.


the Zookeeper says, you're deplorable!


Your metaphor is wrong. It's the others of your species who find you deplorable.


You can't survive without us any more than "Good Kirk" could survive without "Bad Kirk".


Actually a good point, but when Bad Kirk is trying to kill Good Kirk, a choice has to be made. I don't say you're deplorable for being virile and adventurous. It's when you turn on your fellow humans that you become a disease. Humanity can't survive without leukocytes either, but that doesn't make leukemia a good thing.

Remember also that it swings both ways. Bad Kirk couldn't function as captain on his own either.


Treebeard said...

Predation is part of nature, it's not good or bad. Some people are wolves and vampire-bats, some are sheep and cattle. Some are masters and some are slaves. Some are carnivores and some are kibble. Don't guilt-trip the lion for hunting the gazelle. It's like their Tao, dude.

LarryHart said...

Likewise, don't guilt-trip the humans for hunting down and shooting the man-eating lion.

There's a difference between society and nature. Humans can agree not to war on each other in order to free themselves up for other pursuits. Humans can't make a deal with a lion that we'll leave him alone if he leaves us alone. Humans apparently can't make such deals with Holnists either.

Paul451 said...

Ah, Treebeard the vampire-wolf, who is so virile and strong and naturally dominant and can't compete in this culture because he's being kept down by the sheep and needs a big strong man to come and save him.

Paul451 said...

Donzelion,
Re: Abortion of a Republican abortion policy.

I'm talking about scale.

During the Republican primaries in 2016, candidates referred to the hoax PP video as proof of them "selling baby parts". A hoax that led to a mass shooting, which they lined up to "not condone".

If they really believe that abortion is murder, no different than murdering a child, and if they believed that an organisation was therefore murdering children in order to cut them up for parts to sell, do their actions seems proportional to that?

I mean, what would you be willing to do to stop children being murdered and cut up for parts? What actions would you be willing to support against the murderers?

(As I said before, the insanity of the PP-shooter wasn't his actions, it was that he believed the words, his insanity was failing to see it was just part of a game.)

--

Duncan: "The lead in petrol hypothesis matches the worldwide data for the rise and fall in violent crime much better than the Abortion hypothesis"
Zepp: "That's a much more complicated correlation, given the fact that not all nations stopped using leaded gas at the same time,"

That is what allows the analysis to be done. Different nations removed lead and increased/decreased abortion access at different times.

Paul451 said...

LarryHart,
"Any news from our Europeans following the French elections?
Has LePen suddenly and mysteriously come within a hairsbreadth of Macron in late polling?
Interpol opening an investigation of Macron's e-mails?"


How about: A quarter of first round voters, primarily left-wing, expected to sit out the main election because their candidates didn't qualify.

But if it helps you sleep, its worth noting that the actual results from the first round were within a couple of points of the polling in the final week.

--

PaulSB,
"Actually, I like that guy"

Oh, you ol' honeydripper, I've never been so flatte...

"That might just be a measure of how desperate I am for friends"

... hmmm.

David Brin said...

“Morality is dead.” Crock of bull. Everyone is in a self-righteous snit, basing their outrage on sanctimonious snits. The difference is that confeds base it entirely on: (1) “my daddy would have been disgusted by that” and (2) I’ll deem immoral anything my plantation lord tells me to be mad at. (Note that any given DAY Donald Trump does or says some thing that would have sent confeds into apoplexy, had Clinton or Obama even hinted at it.)

Sure, Unionists seem all logical and “cost benefit analysis.” Because the facts almost all support their positions. But to assert their sense of purpose is not moral at an underlying level — opposing the plantation lords’ deeply evil schemes, is just rot.

David Brin said...

The notion that Treebeard, fat and lazy and accomplishment-free, wallowing on his couch in a miasma of Cheetohs dust, should call US “zoo animals,” is hilarious. Oh, what a wolf! Ah-ooooooh! Utter kibble. Har.

Oh! He later called himself a lion!!! Dang, he must have a really full Compensatory Gun Cabinet.

Of course they masturbate to fantasies of being top dog. And oh, the nerds who they bullied in school are now zillionaires or else at least fact-empowered citizens bent on bringing on a future of ever-more empowerment for all. So he whimpers “it’s a zoo!”

…at a population that does NOT consist entirely of couch potatoes like him. Millions are hiking and running and diving and inventing and engaging in hobbies that range from blacksmithing and swordmaking to vigorous amateur science to jumping out of high altitude balloons. There’s your decadence, fool.

Though yes, of course we are in a “zoo.” In that HALF of the explanations for the Fermi Paradox are versions of the Zoo Hypothesis. And Donald Trump happened because our ratings must have been flagging as we did great things that were to calm and boring to the alien audience.

Trump says so openly! With his alien skin tones and mental processes. It’s all about ratings.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Morality is DEAD; the Enlightened West killed it in the 1970s; and it's been Economics 'uber alles' ever since.


To the extent that what you say is true, it is the corporations and free-marketers who killed morality as a reason for doing anything. They are an invasive species who co-opted the Enlightenment West. Blaming this on the Enlightenment West makes as little sense as blaming the Jews for killing Christ.

That you, a professed libertarian, blame the West for the culture that Libertarians have foisted upon the West is a bit ironic. You can't vote for Mayor Quimby because he's so soft on crime he let Sideshow Bob out of prison, so you'll vote instead for Sideshow Bob.


Zepp Jamieson said...

Yeah, the other day Walsh tweeted, "Sorry Jimmy Kimmel: your sad story doesn't obligate me or anybody else to pay for somebody else's health care." The man personifies heartless bastards.
A poll from 24 hours ago shows Macron leading by a comfortable 63-37 margin. The French government is forbidding use of the documents in any public fashion between now and the end of voting, some 24 hours from now. Further undermining their effectiveness is that several have been deemed fabrications.
Your point is well-taken about how if the releases had been reversed, Americans would be the more wary. Assuming, of course, you could get most Americans to pay any attention to a French election.

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

"Any news from our Europeans following the French elections?"

How about: A quarter of first round voters, primarily left-wing, expected to sit out the main election because their candidates didn't qualify.


Yeah, that's what I am afraid of. Bernie Freres who will get what they want and not be very happy afterwards.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"That is what allows the analysis to be done. Different nations removed lead and increased/decreased abortion access at different times."

What analysis is this?

I'll note that toxic lead damage to neurological and neurophysical functionings are irreversble, and don't subside for years, if ever, after exposure to lead ceases.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

A poll from 24 hours ago shows Macron leading by a comfortable 63-37 margin.


I'd breathe easier if that poll was from 12 hours ago. Hillary was killing in the polls too before FBI Director James Comey said "No more of that."


Your point is well-taken about how if the releases had been reversed, Americans would be the more wary. Assuming, of course, you could get most Americans to pay any attention to a French election.


Yeah, in that sense, the oligarchs messed up the order. They should have saved the American election for last, because everyone else had to notice that one.

Zepp Jamieson said...

locumranch attempted to assign an opinion to me thusly: "Zepp makes note of an unpleasant reality that most of you 'Marching Maroons' prefer to ignore: Morality is DEAD;"

Well, no. People still have morals and ethics, at least at the levels we're accustomed to. And morality at the level of major corporations never existed in the first place: it's why Jefferson hated corporations so much and wanted them kept on the shortest leash possible.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Treebeard wrote: "You can't survive without us any more than "Good Kirk" could survive without "Bad Kirk"."

Hmmm. Have you been checked for termites lately?

Jumper said...

I can't figure out how "wild" locum and Treebeard want to get. Both seem to be very coy most of the time and can't seem to muster the manly virtue of direct speech, which complicates the deciphering. Is it murder they desire? Is that the lost glory they crave?

One can only guess at the coyness. Is it merely the hypocrisy of the tough-talker who never served in the military? The physical coward who erects a fake persona to compensate? Or just the mundane habits of nut-pickers who glean human channels for the daily hot cup o' anger which keeps the fear away for a while, the hate a satisfying simulacrum of moral fortitude, a simple masturbation of the ego?

Paul SB said...

"Trump says so openly! With his alien skin tones and mental processes. It’s all about ratings."
- So Dr. Brin, do you think "The Hair" could actually be a piece of some alien technology? An interstellar antenna, perhaps, or some sort of mind control device? :]

I heard this on the radio this morning:
http://www.npr.org/2017/05/06/527139988/the-case-against-maximizing-shareholder-value

which led me to the original article:
https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-05-04/toppling-the-idol-of-shareholder-value
This might have as much to do with the decline of the middle class over the last 40 years as any factors we can blame on politicians, though I'm sure they deserve a star elf the blame, too.

And from "Trust Factor: The Science of Creating High-Performance Companies":
"Alexis de Tocqueville argued in Democracy in America (1835) that an all-powerful government infantilizes its citizens. An all-powerful organizational leadership does the same thing to colleagues (employees)."

Paul 451 said:
...hmmm
- And I bet you cracked a grin...

Sadly we are back to troll-bashing, but your point about the PP shooter demonstrates why it is necessary. Fools are duped by such flimsy arguments, but a lot of fools own guns, and some are stupid enough to use them for foolish ends, like shooting up health clinics or pizzerias based on the flimsiest of evidence for wrongdoing. Morality is dead? Feh! Only what one bridge-lurker wants to call morality, because it is dead inside him, and he can't see or understand anyone who isn't himself.

Paul SB said...

Duncan and Zepp (just going alphabetical, no favoritism here),

There is such a thing as multi-causality. Many factors can lead to the same effects, in the straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back sense. In fact, multi-causality is the rule rather than the exception in the human sciences. This is what makes understanding human societies so much more complicated than the physical sciences, to say nothing of unscientific attempts to understand humanity through the overgeneralizations of politics and religion. Zepp is right about the irreversible nature of heavy metal poisoning, and likely we all carry the scars of a childhood when tetraethyl lead was vigorously defended by the multi-billion dollar oil industry. But population pressure plays a role, too. At the very least, when gas was still leaded (it is still in parts of Latin America), higher population meant more cars on the road burning gasoline. The problem wasn't as severe between the 1910s and the 1940s simply because there wasn't as high a population base to drive up gasoline consumption.

But overcrowding has other effects than driving up demand for commodities, dangerous or otherwise. Increased population makes for increased competition, which increases stress, which increases violence all by itself, with or without mental diseases caused by all that stress. Leaded gasoline is gone but stress-related disorders (both mental and physical) continue to climb.

LarryHart said...

I guess we'll know by tomorrow night, but everything I'm seeing in the New York Times and The Guardian suggests "deja vu all over again". Especially the leftists who will abstain, which is always presented as "helping LePen". And because the hack was released just before the mandated news-blackout period before the election, I don't think we have any polls that reflect its effects. Optimists tout the polls taken before which are about as useful as Hillary's poll numbers on October 27.

Democracy may be going down for the third time here (to thunderous applause from our resident troglodytes who believe life should be both plentiful and miserable).

locumranch said...


The pish-tosh that David et al describe as the New Morality is merely a cost-benefit analysis that values material comforts over societal sacrifice. Following God's eviction, all judgements of right or wrong have been suspended with the exception of mandatory social pleasantries.

We banish all that we judge tedious, unpleasant & burdensome: An unintended pregnancy? Terminate it. Tired of feeding yourself?
Have someone else do it. Suffer from illness? Demand a remedy. Displeased by bigotry? Outlaw it. Frustrated by circumstance? Legislate against it.

And this is what we call 'Tolerance', even though we tolerate nothing unpleasant.

We are an amoral society.


Best

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Zepp
Yes lead poisoning is irreversible
BUT - people - even damaged people - do grow up
The figures show that the 15 - 25 year old group (of males) commit most of the violent crimes
So while we don't get better we do get older
Growing up is optional - Growing old is mandatory

http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Lead-crime_hypothesis

The relationship with lead levels (after the lag) is compelling
All of the alternative ideas, abortion, guns....
Fail because the rise and fall is visible in every country (some haven't reached the fall) even those that didn't make the changes that the USA did

Zepp Jamieson said...

"The figures show that the 15 - 25 year old group (of males) commit most of the violent crimes"
Sure. Stilyagi. They had a big drop in their numbers, purely as a result of abortion. Mind you, I'm talking about the US only.
You note that crime drops precipitously with age, and that's true. It one reason I always opposed "three strikes" laws: As a matter of averages, someone facing his third strike was at or near the age where his criminal activity was likely to decrease as a matter of percentages. It made no sense to lock them up 25 to life at that point.

Tony Fisk said...

We won't know until it's over, but...
- the leakers didn't get their ducks lined up in time for the media blackout*, and
- Le Monde have stated they won't comment on the Macron leaks until Monday.
The Borg aren't the only ones who can adapt strategy.

* An old trick. David Irving used it to good effect in his libel case against Deborah Lipstadt. Just before Court rose for the day, he was able to nail an expert witness, proclaiming there was no evidence before the Court that proved there were cyanide dispensing holes in the roofs of the Auschwitz gas chambers ("No holes: no Holocaust!"). There *was* plenty of evidence, as the witness was able to provide the next day but, meanwhile, the Press had a lede... ("Denial" is a bloody good film btw)

Following God's eviction, all judgements of right or wrong have been suspended with the exception of mandatory social pleasantries.

No God. No morality!
locumranch appears straddled with the belief that morality stems from... Belief. Snarky responses aside, it is a serious dilemma that a lot of Ministers find themselves in when they admit to a personal loss of faith in God's existence. They still cling to religious doctrine as the only source of morality they know, however hollow it rings.
Well, it stands to reason that folk who claim that God and morality are separate things and that one can exist without the other have a case to prove.*
Some work has been made to establish a theory of morality in evolutionary/sociological terms, but it still has plenty of holes that need plugging. I'm not going to present it here. It's not a trivial problem: Richard Dawkins certainly doesn't think so.

* Farley's Apocamon suggests what happens when there's God but no morality, but that's just satire: a little of which goes a long way.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Following God's eviction,...


What are you talking about? You can't swing a dead cat in this country without hitting a religious person. Even corporations are allowed to be religious, and they're supposed to be amoral by law. Even the most liberal political candidates like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have to make an issue of how faith informs their policies. The most amoral candidate in recent memory is your guy Trump, and even he had to pretend that the IRS was persecuting him for being a Christian.


And this is what we call 'Tolerance', even though we tolerate nothing unpleasant.


We tolerate you.

We are an amoral society.


Are you saying that we should be otherwise? That we're not supposed to be an amoral society? In fact, what is morality other than an evaluation of what should be?

David Brin said...

“We are an amoral society.” So says someone who would savage other people - like Alan Turing, who had been gifted by God with truly miraculous genius that helped our nation and civilization to decisively destroy the worst evil ever seen - and locum would savage Turing because of visceral dislikes passed down by one set of ignorant, bronze age shepherds… but not others.

Unlike the New Atheists, we need to confront the Book of Revelation assholes with their betrayal of God IN THEIR OWN TERMS. By the very words of the Bible, they are the nasty twits violating everything that God clearly stands for.

Heck, Jesus was a bearded, beaded, sandal wearing hippie who demanded dropping all your wealth into the begging bowls of the poor. He would have deemed democrats to be too selfish and republicans to be satanic.

The whole purpose of the War on Abortion is to create ONE issue that can arbitrarily be proclaimed to be more important than all others, and declare: “Jesus would disagree with our every single policy! But he’d still be on our side, because baby-killing trumps everything else, Yippee!"

There is not a moral standard on Earth other than Hitlerism, under which the Book of Revelation - which has replaced Jesus’s words at the center of right wing christianity - is not fantastically, volcanically evil on every single page. So do not think you can preach to us about morality, you lackey of villains.

Paul451 said...

PaulSB,
"though I'm sure, they deserve a star elf"

Deep down, we all deserve a star elf.

raito said...

Dr. Brin,

While I agree that being anti-abortion does advance the GOP agenda, I greatly disagree with the following:

"Did you skim? Or cannot you picture the meaning of “vigorously enacted”? Republican pols scream and yell about abortion and accomplish almost nothing. That is by design. They know their ground troops only care about symbolism - about feeling righteous. They don’t care to hols the GOP pols accountable for actually accomplishing any confederate goals."

Accomplish almost nothing? No, not correct by half. What they've done is, realizing that they're not going to be able to overturn Row V. Wade at a federal level, they've turned it into a faux 'states rights' issue, having their state legislative pawns do the dirty work. And that's a smart game for them, going for as much as they can reasonably get, and realizing that they can't win outright. They're never going to get a blue state to play along, but they can get the rest to.

And what have they accomplished? Well, they've been very successful at pushing the date at which an abortion can be performed back as close to conception as they can. To the point where even wanted pregnancies that ought (in my opinion, I don't like bringing suffering into the world) to be aborted for medical reasons might not be able to because the testing windows may exceed the legal date.

They've also been pretty successful at requiring waiting periods, etc. Proposed laws requiring hospital admitting privileges for doctors performing abortions also exist, though at least here, the courts struck that one down. Or states in which both parent must be consulted for a minor's abortion, probably even when one of the parents has no other rights?

They're chipping away as vigorously as they can.

The only alternative I see to it being a GOP goal is that prior to Roe V. Wade, abortion was illegal in most states. So it could be states attempting to get back to their original state because that decision, as much as they can. But I wouldn't put much money on that.

Economic modelling appears to show that higher birthrates correspond to lower economies. But the current oligarchs believe that even if the economy is low, so that they cannot be challenged, they'll still be on top. And since they skim off everyone below, it's to their advantage to have teeming swarms of proles.

Paul SB said...

Paul 451,

You certainly deserve a star elf, and so does Shaun the Sherpa, but I'm not so sure I do - not until I stop missing my typos and what weird things autocorrect does to them. How "share of" turns into "star elf" I'll never know, but that's probably because I'm not a robot. I wrote a kids' story about a robot once, but if I can't imagine robot thought processes like that, it probably isn't very realistic.

Would you prefer a rock star elf, basketball star elf, or one who pilots star ships?

Paul SB said...

"Following God's eviction, all judgements of right or wrong have been suspended..."

Nailed it! He's just another run-of-the-mill religious fanatic. It's been a couple years that I have been identifying locum's lies as techniques used by churches in their efforts to win converts. My best friend in high school was a Jehovah's Witness, but he was going through a rebellious phase at the time. He didn't doubt his religion, but he was disgusted by their tactics. He explained how they were being taught to argue with people, how truth was irrelevant so long as you could bring more converts into the fold. Honesty is not important when you are saving souls. I also saw him and others of his faith take on Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians and quite a few others in their war of Scriptural words, and how their opponents were using the very same dishonest tactics.

I don't have a problem with people being religious. Your personal convictions are your personal business and I feel no need to try to persuade anyone to share mine. It is immaturity that drives people to fight for converts, exactly the same social insecurity you see in high school cliques.

Morality is a different thing entirely. Every human society, everywhere on Earth, has moral codes, regardless of the religion or religions practiced by them. This is not proof of one universal deity as the source of morality, as there are no true universals among moral principles. It is a feature of the religions of the West to insist on moral exclusivity, as locum does here, but when you examine the human species in a less superficial and blatantly biased way, it becomes clear that morality is not the exclusive domain of any one tribe. And Tony, the natural history approach to morality is more water tight than you suggest, but you can't rely on just Dawkins to see that. Dawkins is a loud mouth, but he's not a social scientist by any stretch of the imagination. He is just as blinded by his atheism as most Bible-thumpers are by their theism.

Humans simply cannot exist with moral codes. Look at their powerful jaws, their sharp claws, and all that muscle. Without the social skills and intelligence to create weapons and work together, there is no Treebeard the Barbarian who would have a prayer of survival in the wild in which our ancestors evolved. The Sapling can say all he likes about testosterone injections - his rugged individualist myth is just that - a politically-generated myth. Humans are fundamentally social animals, which is true of many other animals, but unlike the rest they are conscious, linguistic animals. Moral codes are among the most basic needs of that species, just as basic as food and oxygen. Without morality the species would have gone extinct long before they figured out how to write "Thou shalt not..."

Just another Bible-thumping lunatic...


Paul SB said...

"Economic modelling appears to show that higher birthrates correspond to lower economies. But the current oligarchs believe that even if the economy is low, so that they cannot be challenged, they'll still be on top. And since they skim off everyone below, it's to their advantage to have teeming swarms of proles."

Yes, economic modeling shows this. It also shows that those scum who rise to the top actually do much better when there are no "huddled masses" of poor people, when the average joe/josephine has enough money to buy whatever they are selling and don't have to rob people to survive.

Paul SB said...

On cost/benefit calculations, these are necessary, but they are not necessarily amoral. The problem here is that most people doing these cost/benefit calculations are looking at short-term financial concerns but failing to examine long-term moral concerns. American culture has moved way too far in the direction of economic determinism, so few people in the highest tiers of society think about much beyond the "bottom line." You have to put things into these terms because that is how American culture has come to see value since the Cold War. This is extremely short-sighted thinking and is a major source of America's woes, both for the 99% and the 1%, for minorities and the majority, for males and females alike. We are still suffering the cultural fallout from the Cold War.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

I don't have a problem with people being religious. ...

Morality is a different thing entirely. Every human society, everywhere on Earth, has moral codes, regardless of the religion or religions practiced by them. This is not proof of one universal deity as the source of morality, as there are no true universals among moral principles. It is a feature of the religions of the West to insist on moral exclusivity, as locum does here, but when you examine the human species in a less superficial and blatantly biased way, it becomes clear that morality is not the exclusive domain of any one tribe.


The authoritarians who pine for religious morality don't even get their own story straight. Sure they want us to go back to the standards by which homosexuals are stoned to death and women serve their masters. But those ancient moral codes also prohibit theft and murder. If there are any moral precepts that even approach universality across human cultures, it would be the Sixth and Eighth Commandments. And yet these guys wet themselves over "strong" oligarchic leaders who skim wealth for themselves and whose political opponents wind up dosed with polonium or thrown from fourth story windows.

So when locumranch whines about how "we" are amoral, maybe he's speaking more truthfully than even he himself realizes.

Jumper said...

On that terrible problem of daytime solar power surpluses:
http://rabett.blogspot.co.uk/

raito said...

Paul SB,

Hence my statement that they believe this, not that it's so.

But that only counts economically. And economics isn't the point once you have more than you can spend. Then it's about temporal power, which the rich certainly have more of if everyone else is poor. The smarter ones among them understand this.

They may be richer if everyone else is well off, but then everyone else has more choices. And that's not in the plan, is it?

Paul SB said...

Jumper,

That was a fun little rant. Where can I get my 100 lbs of zucchini? If I ever manage to get the money to build a house the way I want, storage will be an important part of it, and you don't need fancy PV technology with a basement full of batteries when an old-fashioned Trombe Wall will do the trick admirably. There are so many simple, smart things we could be doing that are a hell of a lot less expensive than the sexiest new tech, but architects are incentivized to show off all the bells and whistles instead of using sense.

Larry,

Locum is only more right than he realizes if you take "we" to mean our ruling classes, and those of us who are insufficiently skeptical to be immune from their propaganda. And the ruling classes does not just mean government - business and religion all are part of the system that keeps the 1% at 1%.

As far as precepts that approach universality, both the 6th and the 8th are honored more in the breach at the level of leadership. Besides, any attempt to judge universality based on today is misguided, because today is very little like a century ago, which was very little like two centuries before, which was far, far less like the vast majority of time that humans have been stomping around on this planet (and we could go further, as a large subset of our chemistry dates back to hundreds of millions of years before humans even existed). I get what you're saying, though, just adding some food for thought.

Paul SB said...

Raito,

"And that's not in the plan, is it?"
- Absolutely! The issue is not absolute wealth and power, but relative wealth and power. Veblen made that point way back in 1899. It's all about comparison. Or in his own words, "The basis on which good repute in any highly organized industrial community ultimately rests is pecuniary strength; and the means of showing pecuniary strength, and so of gaining or retaining a good name, are leisure and a conspicuous consumption of goods." Epicurus made that same point when he wrote, "I would rather be first in a little Iberian village than second in Rome." Milton said the same thing about Satan. It's clear enough from Republican educational policies that their intention is to keep the poor and middle classes from having the ability to rise to their level and challenge them, or even have the ability to escape. Berlin had its wall to keep people from escaping from the East to the West, we don't need a wall at all, we just need the "right" policy and some smoke and mirrors so most people don't get what they are up to.

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locumranch said...


Amusing as I find the above ramblings, I will try to rephrase this argument about the difference between Morality, Immorality & Amorality without resorting to either sarcasm or god:

(1) Morality & Immorality represent intrinsic bias, being the product of bivalent 'either-or' logic; and
(2) Science, being an arguable 'good', is intrinsically Amoral.

Any attempt to reconcile these two distinct categories is problematic as they are irreconcilable, leading both Dostoevsky & Nietzsche to proclaim (in so many words) that 'Everything that's doable is permissible without God'.

Both argue that this 'Divine Parent' is the basis of all Religions, Political Order, Objective Ethics & Morality. Problems arise, however, when societies try to 'have their cake & eat it too' by abstracting one from the other.

This results in the absurdity of Modern Secularism, a pseudo-religious situation where (1) moral 'gods & bads' have little or no significance and (2) almost everything is simultaneously permitted & forbidden, as evidenced by Oppenheimer's nuclear weapons, abortion-on-demand & technologically-mediated climate change.

Without the potentially corrective influence of a Divine Parent, what's going to stop you, me or anyone for doing whats doable? David? The random expert? Adverse consequence that will never touch me? An imaginary Hell? It's a funny-sad absurdity.

For without the endowment of our Creator, there can be NO inalienable rights like life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

As a physician, I've been trained to terminate intractable suffering & burdensome pregnancies. Such killings are easily 'doable', even for the amateur. Does that mean that indicate a moral 'should'? What's to stop anyone's killing spree? How about a deified paternal government? Nothing could go wrong with that !!!!!


Best
_____

"Economic modelling appears to show that higher birthrates correspond to lower economies". But, what does the same modeling show about shrinking birth rates? Again, "lower economies". All 'higher' growing economies cleave to the moderate birthrate sweet spot. Or they demand surrogate births by immigrant labour.

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LarryHart said...

@locumranch,

I'll attempt to trade civility for civility. I'm on my way out the door, so can't respond in detail. Let me just say you're conflating two things--morality and an enforcement system.

When you say that all things are permitted (or maybe more accurately, nothing is constrained) without God, you imply a "therefore" that God must exist because the alternative is implausible. To me, you're just growing up and realizing that we--human society--hold the enforcement mechanisms in our own hands. I remember the moment when I was about 12 years old, watching a police drama on tv ("Adam 12", if you want to get specific) when the realization hit me that "good" did not win over evil because the universe was so constructed, but because we had police forces and armies which were designed to keep things that way.

You often argue that the universe doesn't enforce a "should" or "supposed to" on us. I would conclude from that that God does not exist, or at least does not function as Enforcer Of Morality.

Morality is inherently social. A single man on an island somewhere with no outside contact has no need or reason to follow moral codes, or at least to follow moral codes outside of his own construction (perhaps being nice to animals or preserving his own food supply would count as morality, but there's no external enforcement mechanism nor is one required). Morality only becomes a thing within a social context. And the nuts and bolts of its dictates and its enforcement are indeed up to the societies themselves. The realization that there's no imaginary parent is not a failure--it is a sign of maturity.

Otherwise, one might just as well argue that there are no Christmas presents without Santa Claus.

donzelion said...

Paul451: re the "baby parts video" - that was a test run to assess the ranks and the information feeds to them.

The real story is the scientific experiment they conducted on their ranks to verify the integrity of the misinformation system (e.g., how many Reps believed it was true after 1 month, after 3 months, after 6 months - how impervious are they to facts when FoxNews drops the story after putting a 5 second retraction to maintain an illusory integrity - after putting out 5, 10, 50 hours of foment on something they knew to be a flagrant falsehood). Same with the ACORN slurs from years before - they wanted to test if the old system still worked (and use it as an excuse to pretend they were doing something).

"the insanity of the PP-shooter wasn't his actions, it was that he believed the words, his insanity was failing to see it was just part of a game."
Secretly, they were tracking who was a 'high probability of becoming a shooter' - trying to enhance those metrics as well. Shooters are great for ratings, and so long as they only shoot 'those people' do minimal harm to the cause.

In the 1980s, they developed that misinformation system primarily with anti-UN material (black helicopters), targeting the Convention on the Rights of the Child with the suggestion that the UN would take your children away if you spanked them and other flagrant lies. Those lies were believed by an extremely useful fringe, which has grown from 1-2% of the Republican Party to 10-40% (the entire wing that believed Obama was a Muslim).

No, neither the Republican politicians nor the Republican puppetmasters believed the video. They believed the numbers that the video showed them though...

Marino said...

First and foremost: exit polls give Macron at 65%. Maybe the populist bubble begins to deflate.
And... "we'll build a yuge bigly extended middle finger and the populists will pay for it"...

on morality... before lecturing us on morality, should Locom and the ent decide for what reason are both on the same political side? Because absolute morality stemming from God (Locum) and sociopathic Nietzschean nihilism ("predation is natural" Treebeard) are polar opposites.

Anyway: "Your comfortable present has little or no lasting value." If living here is so bad, why don't you go in some places where they enforce religion-based morality? Saudi Arabia comes to mind. And why some conservatives suffer from penis envy for Daesh?

donzelion said...

Paul SB (from several days ago) - "Yes, in feudalism there is nothing more [than self-serving sycophancy], whereas in democracy there can be something more. But when you think about it, democracy (the modern incarnation, anyway) began under feudal regimes."

Agreed - and within the origins of democracy is the unifying thread that both conservatives and liberals can cling to. Conservatives always despised wasteful extravagance to aggrandize certain lords - paved roads at taxpayer expense to enrich the estate of some baron, when the public needed something better to get their wool to market. Progressives despised oppression, conservatives waste - the two united to put down the folks guilty of both offenses and form a new order.

In the 21st century, 'waste' is entirely too easy to obfuscate (e.g., the moon shot pretense, if it is even wasteful, requires folks like our host to really clarify and detail - so that folks like me who lack a basis to know that can understand why - and that's an easy one...the hard ones are tax related structures, insurance subsidies and coding shifts, etc. - things that only a tiny handful of insiders can even understand).

If Conservatives have a tendency to be either a very smart minority typically ignored by other conservatives (because they talk sense, instead of fluff) - while Progressives can be written off and ignored entirely - the two wings that made democracy viable are broken down, and the Feudalists can take hold. Neo-Feudalism is a remarkably durable creature - instead of operating from ancient regime opacity, operate from a few hours of opacity in which to place trades, and then proclaim transparency and opposition to 'oppression' (like the 'grave threat' posed by Political Correctness, or Planned Parenthood babykillers, or any other phantom menaces).

"It is always sound business to take any obtainable net gain, at any cost and at any risk to the rest of the community." - Thorstein Veblen

Not that Veblen was intensely critical of 'business' - and favorable toward 'industry' (pro engineer/scientist, anti-accountant/salesman). One of several reasons why his line of economic reasoning was sidelined by the Keynesian/Friedman program...

"business has matured into full aristocracy since then, complete with religious tenets to justify itself."
It was better 50 years ago, but a lot worse 100 years ago, and in 1877 - far worse than that. Back in 1877, starving Injuns, Irish, Germans, and any other undesirables was a viable tactic for 'business' - so long as one looked the part of a gentleman in NY or Philadelphia, nobody cared how many destitute farmers one destroyed to obtain that top hat.

"I do like what you said about hope itself."
An inversion of FDR's statement, but an accurate one, more in keeping with where we are. Things have been a lot worse - and can get a lot worse - but we have a great deal to be hopeful about. Not only do we have a prayer, we've got a freaking awesome chance - because at the end of the day, before things get too bad, even the Locums of this blog will stand by our side and draw a line (not so sure about Treebeard, and Car Sitter will surely throw a curve ball). May take em a while, but I have great hope that I know where they will stand if things really do get too bad.

re yogurt - I'm in Anaheim mostly these days, but still moving things down from Glendora until end of May - when is good for you? I must have missed your decloaking...sorry! Not online as much lately...trying to get my butt into a movement down here, and figure out which Republican I want to help overthrow - and which friends will have me on their team.

David Brin said...

Argh, while he gets a backpat for trying to be logical, Locumranh’s core dilemma keeps baring itself. Take the following:

“(1) Morality & Immorality represent intrinsic bias, being the product of bivalent 'either-or' logic; and
(2) Science, being an arguable 'good', is intrinsically Amoral.
Any attempt to reconcile these two distinct categories is problematic as they are irreconcilable”

Have you ever seen a more blatant example of zero-sum obsession? Over the years, have you ever seen a single case when he paraphrased (even in opposition!) showing even a glimmer of understanding what positive-sum means?

“Without the potentially corrective influence of a Divine Parent, what's going to stop you, me or anyone for doing whats doable?”

Yes! That is the terrifying notion presented by such folks. That they are only restrained from killing-raping rampages by abstract threats from a deity who remains silent and almost totally ambiguous. Such people cannot conceive that the rest of us feel no desire to do such things and are “restrained” far more systematically and thoroughly. And that we find these confessions - that you’d go on such rampages but for brutal heavenly threats - deeply worrisome.

None of what I just said is atheistic! But His Great Sermon… that He preaches all the time … is “Rule yourselves and figure things out for yourselves. And science is central to that. Which is why He has blessed science above all human activities except love.”

onward

onward

Paul451 said...

I find it amusing that at the same time Locumranch accuses our civilisation of lacking moral limits, Treebeard condemns it as too domesticated, too tame to handle the rule-breaking vampire-wolves like him.

One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is not quite the same.

Paul451 said...

Before moving onward...

Locumranch,
"Without the potentially corrective influence of a Divine Parent, what's going to stop you, me or anyone for doing whats doable?"

I've always found this argument bizarre, particularly when the arguer is essentially trying to claim moral superiority over non-believers. The arguer is essentially confessing that there's nothing between himself and evil acts than his belief in a supernatural panopticon and fear of its punishments.

How can someone who believes that, consider themselves a "good person"? If the non-believer commits good, it's because they probably are good. If they commit evil, it's because they are evil. But if the believer is confused at how non-believers can be good, it surely means they have no innate good in them, that they don't even understand the concept of being innately good. So even if they do good, they are still evil.

Their very argument demonstrates the moral superiority of the non-believer.

[Would you consider a child "good" (and well-raised) if they acted like angels when their parents were watching, but whenever their parent was out of sight acted with no moral boundaries. Surely that's a bad child, and a terribly raised child, who's just pretending.]

Existence reader said...

The great majority of people being shot by US police are males, but only half of the population is.

The police must have an anti male bias!

Unknown said...

Morals are illusory.

Or in Hagbard Celine's words: Never Whistle While You're Pissing

Or in mine: Funxionality - a neutral tool to reckon the Cosmos. See, kids, even you practictioners of Science, ya all have no such device.

A.F. Rey said...

I'm confused, matt. How can I fit even very small sun and planets in my house? And why would the electric company pay me for that??