Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Time for Colonels and Captains: Part Three

In Parts One and Two of this series, I offered an impudent but reasonable suggestion — that 2018 should be a Year of the Colonels. 

Not in the sense of nasty-tropical-clichéd caudillos! Rather, it's a benignly pragmatic proposal for the Democratic Party -- and or reformers in Republican primaries -- to call up real warriors for this political struggle to determine life-or-death for the great American Experiment. To sift among many thousands of retired Army and Marine Colonels (and Navy Captains, and other former officers and noncoms of spotless record), then recruit scads of them to run in every single 'safe' Republican Congressional and state assembly district, in 2018. 

And yes, this broad front approach will mean leaving the juiciest and ripest swing districts to be contested by Bernites, fine! This is in addition to the vigorous activists, at their left-end of the Big Tent. Civilization needs need every ally we can get.

Last time, we discussed deep, psychological reasons why this is how to reach those aging, bitter, non-college white boomers who were suckered into Trumpism, and thus supporting the very destroyers of the middle class in America. Many — enough — of those pivotal voters can be weaned out of the mad GOP coalition, not by emulating Foxite pandering, but instead by sending them adults! Candidates whose background and demeanor they will respect enough to listen-to.

Indeed, the problem is taken seriously. Former President Barack Obama announced he will be working with Eric Holder, his former Attorney General, on the National Democratic Redistricting Committee to help Democrats reverse their losses in the states. This is urgent, if Democrats hope to have any say in how congressional and legislative district lines are drawn by governors and state legislatures after the next census in 2020.

== Gloomy forecasts ==

Oh, but it won’t be easy. Even if Donald Trump continues his slow motion car crash, so many red-cheats (like gerrymandering and rigged voting machines) and demographic distribution problems hamper the Democrats that even a narrow win might be hard to achieve in 2018. Mara Liasson on NPR said:

While Republicans are able to turn out their voters every two years, Democrats seem only able to turn out their voters every four. That needs to change. Democrats need to restock their pipeline with candidates for city council, mayor, state legislature and governor — and they need to do it all across the country. It's true that Democratic voters are inefficiently distributed geographically for the purposes of electing members of Congress or the Electoral College.”

Christopher Browning, author of Nazi Policy, Jewish Workers, German Killers comments

We already have a Congress that is so gerrymandered that it would take a Democratic landslide of 56 or 57 percent to simply get a change in the majority. And we certainly know that the voter repression laws that are likely to creep in between now and 2020 are going to make things worse.”

Aaron Blake in the Washington Post put it bluntly: 

Can Democrats get used to all the losing that lies ahead? "Despite Trump's historically bad image for a new president, the 2018 electoral map is a daunting one for Democrats, with very few good opportunities to win the three Senate seats they need and plenty of tough seats to defend. The GOP also retains its beg advantage on the House map, which would require a huge Democratic wave to sweep Republicans out of power."  


To some, the prospect is so daunting that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the much-heralded political mind behind Democrats' successful campaign to win the House majority a decade ago, says the idea of retaking majorities in 2018 is pie in the sky.

And if you find this gloom unacceptable, so do I. Wealth disparities and parasitism are approaching the levels of 1789 France and recent political cheating resembles the final days of the Roman Republic. We need a calm, but major electoral reset, or our next worries will be about revolution.

== Inescapable logic ==

In Part One, I compared two strategies the Democrats could take. Traditional politics would have them bracket in on some issues and selected districts, hoping for an anti-Trump revulsion among “swing voters” in order to pick up maybe thirty House seats and a few senators, enough to officially control both chambers. A “victory” like that will be catastrophic, since the inevitable resulting gridlock is exactly what the Republican masters most adore. Having nothing get done, but evading any blame for it!

The alternative is simple — go for broke. March with fortitude into enemy territory. Challenge every red constituency, from Senator and Governor down to state assembly. Send candidates who are simultaneously sane-compassionate and fact-using, while also simpatico with the by-personality conservative voters in those districts, because they, too, are conservative-by-personality. They’re just too smart and sane to be Republicans.

Send to these voting constituencies women and men who — as genius social psychologist George Lakoff urged Hillary Clinton to do — appeal to the “strong father” reflex of red Americans. But a version of strength that is calm, reasonable, tolerant and amenable to science. A version that can be represented by some of our "tough mama" retired officers!

Take advantage of the way an illogical, frothing, anti-fact, Fox’d and drooling-insane rightwing media has spent 25 years screeching hatred at all fact-centered professions. And now this cult is also hating on the most fact-focused profession of all -- the United States Military Officer Corps. 

(Sure, some such retired officers could run in Republican primaries, instead of as Democrats… I have nothing against that ultimate answer to the Tea Party, which might spark the gradual resurrection of a sane American Conservatism. A 21st Century, grownup GOP is not impossible to imagine -- just very, very hard.)

One of you noted: "Apparently, the Republican strategy for defeating conservative Democrats in conservative districts is to smear them as liberal. Which is not a difficult charge to make stick, honesty."  Well, sure.  But it's harder to make it stick on a retired officer, as Doug Applegate showed, in California's 49th. And this year we've seen that it is a hard, ground game... push just another few percentage points and the madness might collapse.

In part one, we looked at the fly in this ointment — that Democratic activists — in their own state of righteous fury — might reject these new allies, instead of embracing them. Steve Bannon and Alex Jones and that whole pack of shills count on a reflexive hostility by liberals toward military folks. If the left is stupid enough to refuse this spectacular gift, then we are truly screwed.

== Not just colonels! ==

Oh, sure, I am oversimplifying! We need all sorts. In Part One I linked to She Should Run — a national organization that works to encourage women and girls of all backgrounds to aspire to public leadership and run for office next to men…   

…and to 314 Action, helping those with backgrounds in science to contend in the political arenas, defending the integrity of science and promote the responsible use of data driven fact based approaches in public policy.  See also the older group, ScienceDebate.org.

Want a really aggressive approach?  A regular commenter on this blog proposed: “Adopt an Elephant.” In this gambit. Each democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives would be randomly assigned the constituents of one of their Republican colleagues. Each foster parent gives these constituents the same love and attention as they would their own. Mail. Phone calls. Commercials. Advocacy. And lots of face time visits to their adopted territory. Just act like you're the real congressman and be a better parent to your foster children than their real “parents.” What’s nice about this is that it isn’t necessarily a joke. The power of empathy forces compromise, even as dogmatism crushes empathy. 

The notion resonates with another suggestion from George Lakoff:  

“If the Dems are going to recover, I think they need to put permanent teams in the areas whether they have reps or not. This is not for campaigning, though they should contest more places. But parties (all of them) need people, agents listening (and helping where it is with the philosophy or plank of the party). What the Dems lost may be due to no one was paying attention because no Democratic Congress person felt need to keep contact. in an area that was not represented by a Dem.”

Of course running against the tumor-like murdochians is one thing, but it is the ideas or memes that make this warped version of American conservativism truly toxic.

== The USMOC Strikes Back ==

I spoke last time about struggles within military culture. And while many, many officers care more about facts and logic and love of a dynamic, scientific nation, there are others, a large minority, who are like Michael Flynn, steeped in fanaticism, proto-feudalism and religious fundamentalism.   

Illustrating this internecine culture war, the new commandant of the U.S. Air Force Academy can expect a rough reception from the surrounding hotbed of radical Christian fundamentalism – Colorado Springs. Indeed, it has long been known, even openly avowed, that such groups try to inveigle and suborn the service’s tradition of non-sectarian and adult secularity. But if any officer can ease the USAFA out of this trap, it will be its new commandant, Brig. Gen. Kristin Goodwin, former B-2 pilot and former commander of the Second Bomber Wing, who arrives soon with her two children and her wife. And yes, I put great faith in the stature, maturity and enlightenment-loyalty of our officer corps. 

In fact, the reds are doing some of our recruitment work for us. Articles like this one – "denouncing the “Deep State” – are trial balloons that test possible justifications. They set the stage for actions against all the knowledge castes, but especially security professionals.

== Final words ==

The brilliant thing about the “colonels gambit” is that there are plenty of these retired officers to seek out, vett, and armtwist into running for office.  Moreover, when a colonel knocks on a red door, the folks within cannot slam it in his or her face.  they will listen, with respect.

Moreover, these folks can run in wide variety.  From crewcut-liberal to Eisenhower conservative, and (yes) even Reagan conservative!  So long as they are willing to sign a very general statement of not-crazy principles, they can be Big Tent Democrats and run in districts that are currently GOP-safe.  Indeed, such districts should be represented by conservative-minded people!  Though ones who are sane.

Those basic principles might be:

Running as a Democrat, I accept and avow that:

- Facts matter. We should find ways to refute lies, from all sides, and let evidence change our minds.

- Science is real. Public policy should pay attention to – even if it doesn’t always follow – the advice of folks who know facts.

- Our children deserve a healthy planet to live in. We can invest in both a clean environment and energy independence, while maintaining a strong economy. Only losers believe in zero-sum games.

- No child should have his or her future harshly limited by race, gender, poverty or class. 

- Schools should be held accountable to high standards of performance, and have the resources to give us an educated generation.

- It’s okay for there to be “winners” in the economy or politics, but not by cheating.

- It is time to sensibly ease our way out of the insanely self-defeating "War on Drugs."

- “Supply Side” experiments in huge tax breaks for the rich have universally failed, leading only to parasites draining the middle class. We will not let them bring back feudalism.

- Government must be open and accountable. Elections must be clear, verifiable and in fair districts.

- Our military must be strong, capable and used responsibly, in carefully considered and adult ways.

Further suggestions are welcome for this list. 
But you know I’m not done.  
Because if you are sending these folks into districts that are conservative by personality, then be prepared to hear some items from the older-saner side of American conservatism. 

For example:

Running as a Democrat, I feel free to differ with other Democrats, and to express my own position on:

- Gun rights. While I do feel there are reasonable ways to reduce gun access by irresponsible people, I fully support gun ownership by American citizens.

- Abortion: people of conscience can disagree over when life begins. But we can all strive to find ways to empower and help women avoid ever facing that decision. Though the decision must be theirs.

- Nuclear power: many “tech-liberals” are parting company with the standard position against this relatively clean and helpful power source.

- Globalization: we need careful analysis how to keep the benefits of world trade, while ensuring that our innovations benefit us and that good jobs stay in America.

If some of these positions make me “conservative” in the older sense of Eisenhower and Reagan, then so be it. I am still running as a Democrat! Because, to paraphrase President Reagan… “I did not leave the Republican Party… the Republican Party long ago left me. 

"And then it went, stark, jibbering loco.”


Here is the core question: If a thousand candidates took on crazies in a thousand deep-red districts, would such a pledge make you ready and willing to help? Or are you a litmus-purity fanatic, just like the enemies of freedom?

This is not about "left" vs. "right" (can you even define those lobotomizing clichés?)  It is about decency and ability to recognize that facts actually are things. To couch it in liturgical terms: God made objective reality for us to live in and a planet that feeds us. And hence, who gave hypnotists like Sean Hannity the power to croon: "ignore what's true!"


The crux of it all. With some exceptions, our officers - the heirs of George Marshall - are too practical to ignore facts, and thus, most of them simply cannot be mad elephants. Yes, some of them have crewcuts and erect posture and may even sound like the dad in Leave it to Beaver, or Andy Griffith, so?  If lots of them enter Congress and statehouses they'll negotiate with us again, restoring something called grownup democracy. 


So, let's call up bunches of them and ask their help winning back a nation and civilization of sane, logical, compassionate, forward-looking, mature and fact-using citizens.

All our other problems will be tractable then. Because there's nothing we cannot negotiate -- or accomplish -- together.


== Return to Part 1 of this series.


49 comments:

TheMadLibrarian said...

The other trick is making sure that if we choose sane representatives of conservative philosophy, they don't catch the nutty Republican plague and get coopted into doing the same old lockstep as their predecessors. Any person we elect with the notion that they will act in a more mature fashion than the no science, no logic, screw-you-I-got-mine-Jack crop currently infesting the Republican party needs to be supported so that they are not hamstrung by whatever remains of their greedy compatriots.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I'll just note that Tom Cotton, one of the maddest of elephants, has a military background.

David Brin said...

I make very clear that I know there are loony-right military folk. But except in the Air Force, they remain a minority compared to fact-using modernists.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Sorry. I must have missed that.
Still I'm not convinced military would necessarily improve the quality of office seekers or holders.
I look at Presidents, and some military background ones have been great, some horrible. As with civilians. And there isn't a material difference in the distribution curve. Not even when it comes to starting or avoiding wars (I expected military types to be less likely to get into wars, truth be told.)
They do have an aura of authority and maturity, but in 21st century America, I'm not sure how much that counts with voters.

David Brin said...

Jiminy, Zeppp. I am asking for the democrats to run ex officer who... are... democrats. Who at least declare that allegiance now, after being fed up with right wing insanity, and say to.

Crickey, have you ever commanded a squadron of billion dollar jets or a three billion dollar destroyer? There ARE bad officers but the sifter is pretty damn strong in favor of folks who pay close attention to facts and who do not like jibbering insanity.

"And there isn't a material difference in the distribution curve."

Sorry, you do not have a clue what you are talking about.

"They do have an aura of authority and maturity, but in 21st century America, I'm not sure how much that counts with voters."

Cripes did you bother to read my words about this... at all? Even skim?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin

I'm not at all sure that your Colonels strategy will not come over like New Labour - as Republican Light

I believe that even in the USA you are more likely to win big by going "left" - the GOP is going to say that anybody standing against them is a "Pinko Liberal" - and they will do that to your Colonels
The bay to react is to accept the terms - make them your strengths
You will not win as "Business as usual but more sensible"
You need to run hard to the left

Glory in the "Bernie" - push and move that Overton window then maybe (like Corbyn) you will get the young to get out and vote

greg byshenk said...

Just a note of some intersecting commentary on markets and equality from Chris Dillow.

http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2017/06/free-markets-need-equality.html

Tim Wolter said...

I have my doubts as to whether some of the positions you lay out for prospective candidates would be considered acceptable to the Democratic Party. I'm not one of those folks for instance who is dug in and entrenched on the Abortion question but there are plenty of such folks out there.

So a suggestion. It works in both directions on the Abortion issue and probably for some other hot button topics.

"I expect in January to be taking the oath of office as your new Congress(man/woman).In it I will swear solemnly to uphold the laws of the United States of America. I take this vow seriously. You and I may not care for certain laws, Roe v. Wade comes to mind, but we are a Nation of laws and I will not selectively ignore some and adhere to others. That way lies the path of no laws at all. Now, if there is sufficient unanimity of opinion on abortion that an Amendment to the Constitution is proposed I look forward to an intense debate on the matter and will support the consensus of my constituents. Until that day the law is the law. Thank you."

T.

LarryHart said...

https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/pure-class-warfare-with-extra-contempt/

Paul Krugman today is spot on. I have to agree with his closing sentence, unfortunate as it is:


...
So, is this bill good for you? Yes, if you meet the following criteria:

1.Your income is more than $200,000 a year
2.You have a job that comes with good health insurance
3.You can’t imagine any circumstances under which you lose that job or income
4.You don’t have any family members or friends who don’t meet those criteria
5.You have zero empathy for anyone else

The set of people who can check all these boxes is not a winning political coalition. But Republican leaders believe that their voters are tribal enough, sufficiently walled off from information, that they’ll ignore the attack on their lives and keep voting R – indeed, that as they lose health care, get hit with crushing out-of-pocket bills, see their friends and neighbors face ruin, they’ll blame it on Democrats.

I wish I were sure that this belief was false.

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter,

I like the sentiment of your "I don't like abortion, but I recognize its legality" candidacy. I'm not sure how I'd take a real candidate singling out the one law that he hopes to rule Unconstitutional being one that Democrats favor. True, there are many voters who might vote for Democrats if they weren't so intransigent on abortion. Is that the only such issue, though?

If you also threw something in about legitimately investigating any attempts--foreign and domestic--to undermine American democracy and to take appropriate action wherever such investigation leads, I would definitely vote for you!

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Crickey, have you ever commanded a squadron of billion dollar jets or a three billion dollar destroyer?"

Nope, but then I'm not running for office. I don't dispute that many officers would make fine Congressionals; I'm pointing out that generals who have commanded entire armies have made perfectly miserable presidents, and military experience is not a good predictor of how effective a politician any individual may be.

""And there isn't a material difference in the distribution curve."

Sorry, you do not have a clue what you are talking about."

I've had this discussion with others in the past, and gone over the data. It's fairly easy to find. Find various lists of effectiveness of all presidents, run two plots, one for military background, one for not. The resultant bell-shaped curves rest comfortably atop one another.
If you have information to the contrary, present it. Don't just gainsay me. That convinces nobody.

"Cripes did you bother to read my words about this... at all? Even skim?"

I did. You had an opinion. I also had an opinion, one that differed in some respects, and I expressed such. Doctor, your opinions are not holy writ, and if you expect me to treat them as such, you will have to learn to live with disappointment.

You believe that voters will respond positively to the aura of authority colonels would bring to campaigns. I'm not convinced. Ever heard of Tammy Duckworth? Lost both legs and severely damaged an arm when the helicopter she was piloting in Iraq was hit by a missile. War hero, purple heart, articulate, deeply committed to her country. Ran for Congress in 2006 in Illinois.

Republicans spread a story that she wasn't shot down, but simply crashed her chopper out of incompetence, and her "claims" of being a war hero were fraudulent.

She lost the election. It's not the only time Republicans have attacked a war hero and pulled it off. Remember John Kerry and those disgraceful "Purple Heart bandaids" Republicans gleefully wore at their convention?

In a sane society, your idea would have considerable merit. But this is not a sane society. You're taking umbrage, but it's not your idea that is at fault; it's society that is at fault.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Crickey, have you ever commanded a squadron of billion dollar jets or a three billion dollar destroyer?"

Hmmm. I don't know if I would vote for the Captain of the destroyer that last week failed to notice a football-field sized cargo ship bearing down on it.

I imagine some would argue that that would make him an ideal Congressman based on that one incident. Perfectly suited for the Republican approach to Climate Change.

Tim Wolter said...

Zepp
Ms. Duckworth lost her first election. Whether stories of the sort you name were a factor I could not say, I never heard such talk but then I am next door in Wisconsin. You also neglect to mention that she is now the Junior Senator from Illinois. Second times the charm? Even in politics there is a learning curve.

LarryHart
If things get dire enough in IL come on over!
I mentioned abortion as an example as this is perceived as something of a litmus test and therefor an impediment to our host's otherwise fine ideas for improving our governing class.
As a Republican running in a safe D Congressional district (hypothetically of course) I could take such a stand. No doubt the Party would grumble but I could rightly point out that in 2016 they didn't even field a candidate. I could get more votes than that! But could a candidate on the Democratic ticket in a safe R district do the same? Up to and including the last part about how (unlikely as it would be) he or she would view an Constitutional amendment on the matter? I have doubts.

Regards Russkis under the bed. I see that there has been a shift in the Approved Language. Now it is "meddling" not "hacking". OK. Before you ask me to address this in my "stump speech" please define your terms. What is "foreign", "undermine", etc. Near as I can tell there may have been some Russian mischief in the form of a little too much transparency regards actual DNC communications, but there are no allegations that they made up the Podesta stuff. I have seen zero evidence that vote tallies were altered, and I believe even Politifact called this nonsense. It looks as if some Russians talked with some Americans...a practice that I rather suspect happens every time there is a new Administration. But I can put together an answer for you...if you tell me what is actually under discussion, not just a matter of innudendo and anonymous leaks.

T.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Tim Wolfer wrote: Ms. Duckworth lost her first election. Whether stories of the sort you name were a factor I could not say, I never heard such talk but then I am next door in Wisconsin. You also neglect to mention that she is now the Junior Senator from Illinois. Second times the charm? Even in politics there is a learning curve."

The stories got a fair bit of notoriety, getting repeated by such noted American war Heroes* as Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Rush Limbaugh, men who, you'll recall, saved America from ignomus defeat in Vietnam. (* insert note of angry irony here).

She did win the following election, and now has a successful and effective political careen. She's even been mooted as a possible presidential candidate.

Does her subsequent success indicate a learning curve? I may hope you're right, but in the age of Trump, there's precious little to indicate intellectual or emotional growth in the voting public at large.

matthew said...

David, this "Colonels" approach would work but only if the Democratic establishment were willing to cede their personal power to the newcomers. As we have seen from the Russian-hacked internal memos, the Democratic establishment only cares about their own, diminished by minority status, power. What you are proposing would upend those power-brokers' own power. Not gonna happen.

Duncan is correct - sweeping change will require a hard move to the left.

The current power brokers in charge of allocating national funds for elections in the Democratic Party would need to be swept out in order for any "contest-all-districts" strategy to take hold. Those power brokers have too much invested in the mistakes of the past. They cannot admit they were wrong without a loss of face that would (will?) destroy their careers within the party. Better to have personal power in a diminished party than give up their own mojo.

The only thing that could remove the Democratic leadership is a wave from the left. A wave from the center will always be seen as "more of the same."

We live in a time where dissatisfaction with the current politics is the one thing 80% of Americans agree upon. Trump won by promising to destroy the current politics. The only way to win post-Trump is to promise the same thing.

Alfred talks about "creative destruction" as a most useful tool in markets. The American body politic are hungering for "creative destruction" in the political market. They will vote for whoever promises the most change. This change will come from the left. Or from the far right with the ending of democracy.

Your choice - a fascist big brother state or a socialist one. There is no middle to be defended. Entrenched power structures have seen to this.


LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:

LarryHart
If things get dire enough in IL come on over!


I was going to extend the equal-and-opposite offer to you. :)

I know you hear about the imminent demise of Illinois government. It may interest you to know that from down here, it sounds as if your Governor Walker has lost his lutster too, and that Wisconsin is hardly the economic miracle he promised. So we'll see. Meanwhile, I think my state is less likely than yours to vote to strip me of affordable health care.


Regards Russkis under the bed. I see that there has been a shift in the Approved Language. Now it is "meddling" not "hacking". OK. Before you ask me to address this in my "stump speech" please define your terms.


My terms are as I said them--investigate wherever the trail leads and act accordingly. No "We won't even go there, because it might embarrass the president." I think we'll eventually discover that there was more actual "hacking" involved than just releasing DNC e-mails, and that if vote totals weren't actually altered, voting eligibility lists were tampered with. I can't prove that yet, but that's what investigations are for. Separately, I believe much more than you do that fake news stories which influenced the voting public had origins in Russia.

By "foreign and domestic", I'm really more interested in the domestic side. Because as I posted yesterday, I'm afraid the Republican Party which runs most states is much more self-interested in suppressing democracy than in promoting it. That's why I said--or at least intended to say--that I'd vote for you if you credibly promised to do what's right for America instead of what consolidates Republican power.

LarryHart said...

matthew:

We live in a time where dissatisfaction with the current politics is the one thing 80% of Americans agree upon. Trump won by promising to destroy the current politics. The only way to win post-Trump is to promise the same thing.


Or Trump might have ruined the "destroy the current politics" thing by demonstrating what that looks like. As the Nazis made anti-Semitism unfashionable, so Trump might do for political outsidership.

And that might be the plan all along.

locumranch said...



The answer to the oft-asked question of 'Why can't we just all get along?' is that we just don't want to. It is really just that simple and there is no great mystery here.

David errs as I once erred: He assumes that humans are driven by fact, reason, logic & empathy, as we were all taught that this is how they 'should' and 'ought to' be in the 'Best of All Possible Worlds', when they are not in actuality.

The 'Best of All Possible Worlds' is wishful fiction. The reasoning man accepts this as truth, just as he accepts unpleasant & undesired fact; he reasons from unpleasant & undesired fact by the application of logic; and he accepts the destination, no matter how unpleasant & undesired, to which such facts & logic lead.

As the son of a poet, a devotee to the physics of 'pie-in-the-sky' & a weaver of word-worlds, a reasoning David would know this because it is wants, desires & ambitions that motivate him (and all of us) to accomplish great things.

Not fact; not reason; not logic: E-motion is the motive force.

By experiencing the horror of WW2, the Greatest Generation really 'wanted to get along', and they got along because they wanted to avoid further horror & unpleasantness. This is called Creative Destruction. This also why is Roddenberry's 'Star Trek' assumes WW3 as a prerequisite, insomuch as the Star Trek Future equals a Heavenly Rapture with space ships, pajamas & green animal women as proxy 'stand ins' for halos, harps & the virgins of paradise. Fancy that & Hallelujah !!

David & the Dominionists seem to want the very same future after all !!


Best

Jumper said...

What is "the Podesta stuff?" Can anyone share? I'm not seeing much except a moderate not wanting to anger the pipeline wackos, etc.

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter (reprise) :

Near as I can tell there may have been some Russian mischief in the form of a little too much transparency regards actual DNC communications, but there are no allegations that they made up the Podesta stuff. I have seen zero evidence that vote tallies were altered, and I believe even Politifact called this nonsense.


I personally think that an honest investigation will uncover wrongdoing, and that if 'twere not so, the Republicans would be welcoming that investigation rather than impeding it.

But if that's too politically charged for you, let me give you an alternative, analoguous situation. I'd vote for you if, in addition to your own stump speech, you added that you would stop preventing NASA satellites from looking at and reporting on conditions on earth; that you'd stop preventing the federal government from gathering statistics on gun violence; that you'd stop preventing predictions of future flood conditions that deviate from historical norms. In short, that your administration would respect the reality we have, not the reality we wish we had.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Not fact; not reason; not logic: E-motion is the motive force.


That may be the first argument you've ever made that does not sound like Dave Sim. In fact, it's the opposite of him. He believes women are inferior beings because they are emotion-driven.


This also why is Roddenberry's 'Star Trek' assumes WW3 as a prerequisite,


Do you even remember the 1960s? A vision of the far future at that time had to include WW3, not because it was a necessary condition for its particular characteristics, but just because everybody "knew" it was only a matter of time before that nuclear war took place. The idea that we would have gone centuries into the future without WW3 in our past would have rendered any story implausible.

David Brin said...

Duncan sorry, but your assumption that “going left” will some how win over the fox-watching conservatives out there is a perfect example of what confederates do: “declaring the opposite to the obvious makes me look clever!”

Um… not. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and weill assume that you simply did not read my “colonels” missives. You certainly do not address or refute any of the notions contained therein, such as the value, in all human competitions, of winning allies and taking on the enemy across a broad front.

Note that I am not dissing Bernies or denying the left their portion of the front. YOU are the one demanding narrowmindedness and rigidity, just like the TEa Party… only (thank heavens) liberals are really bad at that kind of crap.

Tim/Tacitus, that is exactly what Doug Applegate said and I am fine with replacing 100 GOP monsters with 100 personality-conservative but modernist-fact-using-rights-respecting Dem (and some GOP) blue dogs. Duncan and the Bernites will snarl at them, now and then… between long stretches of sincere and grownup negotiation. While the oligarchs howl.

Zepp, I asked if you had skimmed because several of your points were already addressed - in detail - in the body of the essay.

matthew, while I would love to see Pelosi replaced, I am deeply unimpressed with the purported “crimes” of the DNC. They were and remain molehills. The GOP’s biggest hope is that Dems will act like a big sack full of cats.

I skimmed locum. His latest strawman bears no overlap with me. In most details they are opposites. Hence there is nothing to answer. You are not a well person.

occam's comic said...

Sorry but by this time next year we will either be in a new war or preparing to for a new war. And sense the majority of Americans love going to war, Trump will hold onto the Senate and probably the house too. He will start selling war in September or so and over the winter we will preposition troops and equipment and in the spring we will likely go to war (best guess Iran). Your Captains will be in the position were they will support the troops and piss off all the anti war democrats and loose to the republican war monger.

A new war and all the money that goes with it will buy off enough of the national security state and give them something else to do besides investigating Trump.

David Brin said...

Occam's scenario is the simple and reassuring paranoid one. It assumes the "deep state" is already thoroughly inveigled and bought off and in bed with the Republicans. It asserts that the coming Tonkin Gulf incident or Reichstag Fire will occur with complicit cooperation of the intel community, the FBI and law professionals and the Officer Corps.

I will not deny that that has happened many times in the past. I may be naive, but I don't see our civil servants and officer castes being anything like that. My reading is that a majority... and the best of them... are both sincere and deeply offended by the fact-hating cult and their oligarch masters.

Sure, the White House and the GOP are packed with nut jobs who want a tasty Iran war...and so is Putin, who would then get Iran as a protectorate-satrapy, and the mullahs who would then arrest every Iranian moderate. A win-win-win...

...but not (I assert) for any of those American "deep state" castes including the officer corps. Those heirs of George Marshall will resist and will protect us. I believe it. Though I will admit.... I have to believe it.

If Occam is right, then give up. We're done here.

Smurphs said...

I want to agree with you about our civil servants, but I look, for example, at how ICE is acting theses day and I can't share you optimism. Along with a lot of good work (I am the last one to disparage them), daily news reports nationwide tell of agents collecting kids from proms, mothers from hospitals, etc.

Just doing their job... with a touch of comic book villainy that would embarrass Snidely Whiplash.

tim H. said...

Dr. Brin, I read Duncan's statement more as it will take left/progressive candidates to energize young voters. Folks our age who've drunk the "Conservative" kool aid are largely not reachable until they're desperate, and our generation is beginning to shuffle off stage anyway. Any thoughts on how the overreach of contemporary conservatism will shape whatever political philosophy that takes that name fifty years from now?

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | David errs as I once erred

Ah. I understand now.

Both my parents raised me in a manner that pretty much ensured I avoided acquiring an education in matters of faith. It wasn’t easy as I was a curious boy, but after getting uninvited from a Sunday school and noting my mother couldn’t care less, it got easier for them. So that makes me an atheist by upbringing.

I know a number of people who were educated, though, and have since lost their way. Their atheism is often much more combative. It seems standard for them to feel they were the victims of a fraud, so anytime a conversation steers into one of their former beliefs, the response is vigorous and possibly out of proportion. Sometimes they trigger for no apparent reason, but their explanation for doing so demonstrates a kind of memetic proximity.

I’m over-simplifying a lot. I’m even guilty of stereotyping. However, stereo-types are useful structures to keep in mind as short-cuts to understanding people one has only recently met. As long as one doesn’t take the stereotypes too seriously and build biases that cannot be challenged, they can be valuable. For example, ex-smokers are often the most vocal complainers when smokers violate their air space. That is another stereotype with a potential hazard, but it is correct often enough to be useful.

You are obviously a former believer of what you now perceive as a Progressive Fraud.

There are quite a few atheists I had to quit hanging out with because they were former believers and prone to see everything in those terms. They felt cheated, became very sensitive, and turned quickly to indignation at even minor whiffs of their former beliefs.

Take it from someone who isn’t much of a progressive, but is married to one. They aren’t all that bad. When moderated by liberals and conservatives, we all make a pretty good team.

David Brin said...

Alfred, I am not an atheist, though I am obedient to God's Great Sermon, which is "I'll provide no objective evidence of my existence, thereby implicitly commanding you to pretend that I'm not here and figure it all out for yourselves."

That Sermon is so huge and blatant that it is the height of arrogance to disobey.

===

Tim H I am not eager to see a return of genuine leftism. It was a genuine sickness that - in extreme forms - was as bad as confederatism or jihadism... though they did believe in human improvement... with a fiercely unforgiving, scary utopianist tinge.

Liberalism is not and never has been leftist, except that liberals believe in not wasting human talent through injustice or prejudice and liberals do believe in human improvability, gradualistically and with maximum, eclectic individual choice.

Liberals grasp the notion of positive sum and being able to keep some of the old, while embracing the new. They grasp - at some level - that reciprocal accountability demands open-fair competition, and hence are more loyal to true market enterprise than today's libertarians are.

Among the hundred horrid sins of the GOP-Fox-oligarch madness has been their apparently relentless determination to create conditions that will revive a True Left. That madness had been mostly buried. But it is re-sprouting, watered by the tears of the mad-right's victims.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

You are obviously a former believer of what you now perceive as a Progressive Fraud.


Heh. I was going to say that loc exemplifies the metaphorical "liberal who has been mugged" conservative.

Jumper said...

A lot of "the left" was in recognition of some legitimate form of labor organized enough for some negotiation. I'm not ashamed of that. We even have non-compulsory communism in the USA in the form of Hutterite communities - and we see them as very old-fashioned! I'm not embarrassed by them, either. Extremists are a different story.

Tim H. said...

Dr. Brin, I understand why you'd have reservations about the left, after all they like the nominally conservatives, have about half of a decent plan, ideally, there would be honest negotiation and compromises that wouldn't tread on too many toes. Unfortunately, we're stuck with a bunch of fudpuckers who think life can be like a football game, wonder if they're just wearing their ties too tight and restricting their carotids?

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

The answer to the oft-asked question of 'Why can't we just all get along?' is that we just don't want to. It is really just that simple and there is no great mystery here.


Some don't want to. Some may not especially care to, but agree to get along anyway in return for not being in a permanent state of war with their neighbors. If you want to refuse even that consideration, then you are essentially declaring yourself to be outside of civilization and at war with anyone unlucky enough to cross paths with you, like the bugs of "Starship Troopers"--there's no negotiating with you, so it's you or us. Don't be surprised if you lose that war.

I'm reminded of perhaps the funniest dialogue blooper from 1960s Marvel Comics. The bottom of one page has Captain America fighting with some nasty armored supervillain, and Cap says something like, "This is it! Only one of us is going to walk away from here under his own power..." Then, the next page has a large panel of Cap smashing the guy with his shield while finishing the line, "...And it won't be me!"

locumranch said...



LOL. As I accused David of mistaking ends for means, it's clear that he fails to grasp the nature of my critique.

To what ends? Our wants & desires.

Fact, reason, logic & empathy are not the ends he seeks. Instead, they represent the means to which we may achieve our ends, fact being the 'fair', reason & logic being the 'level' and empathy being the 'open' on the fair/level/open playing field of value.

Space Travel, Power, Pleasure, Immortality & Divinity: These impulses, wants & desires are inherently IRRATIONAL as they seek to overturn the factual order, achieve the fantastic and abolish natural equity.

We preserve & amplify our humanity when we make science serve our ends, but we become servile mechanisms when science becomes our purpose & end.


Best
______

Larry_H makes a good case for negotiation & compromise in the post above by postulating 'civilization' as some sort of Abilene Compromise, making me wonder how much slavery, inequality, racism, feudalism & global warming (percentage-wise) he is willing to accept as the price of civility. Would he compromise away 10, 20 or 30% of his desires in order to 'get along'? How about a modern '3/5ths compromise' in order to balance population inequalities between Blue & Red States? We await his Solomonic Wisdom with baited breath.

Jumper said...

locumranch, you're real good at putting words in other people's mouths. Try putting words in your own and speak for yourself - and no more word salad. Nor these rhetorical tricks that are so passe.

LarryHart said...

I call Tim Wolter's attention to today's (June 24) www.electoral-vote.com :

The Washington Post has published a report saying that last August, the CIA informed Barack Obama that not only was it certain the Russians were actively working to damage Hillary Clinton and help Donald Trump in the election, but they had captured Vladimir Putin's detailed instructions on how to do it. Since Putin, a former KGB agent, is extremely cautious and rarely communicates by phone or computer, the intercept probably came from a top-level mole high in the Russian government who is actually a CIA spy.

In the months following the revelation, top administration officials debated what to do. This included (potential) cyberattacks on Russian infrastructure, release of material the CIA had that could embarrass Putin, or sanctions that could crater the Russian economy. In the end, Obama approved only a minor package: expelling 35 "diplomats" and closing two compounds that were used for spying. Trying (and succeeding) to flip a presidential election has to be the crime of the century, but the response was just a slap on the wrist. Later, one Obama administration official said: "I feel like we sort of choked." President Donald Trump has shown no interest whatsoever in punishing the Russians for their actions. To the contrary, he has talked about lifting existing sanctions rather than imposing new penalties. However, Congress may impose some new sanctions on its own.

Obama's main concern, as he and a small number of top officials discussed their options in the highly secure Situation Room, was not making things even worse. One thing he ordered was offering assistance to the states to shore up their voting systems. To his amazement, Brian Kemp, the Republican secretary of state in Georgia, denounced the move as a violation of states rights. So did other state officials. Republican leaders in Congress didn't believe the CIA's evidence. So, Obama wasn't able to do much to stop or punish the Russians.

The Post's reporting is based on more than three dozen interviews with former and current senior officials in the White House, as well as the State, Defense, and Homeland Security departments and the intelligence community. It goes into a great amount of detail about what happened and when. The paper also left out key information at the request of the government. (V)

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

LOL. As I accused David of mistaking ends for means, it's clear that he fails to grasp the nature of my critique.


Whose fault is that?


Larry_H makes a good case


Oh, help me, Jesus.


...for negotiation & compromise in the post above by postulating 'civilization' as some sort of Abilene Compromise,


"I won't kill you if you don't kill me" is a good start on a civilized compromise, not the full extent of a good one.


making me wonder how much slavery, inequality, racism, feudalism & global warming (percentage-wise) he is willing to accept as the price of civility.


A clever bit of sophistry equivalent to asking "How much would you be willing to kill yourself as the price of my not shooting you?" You use your powers well for evil, but I wonder why you don't use them for good instead.


Would he compromise away 10, 20 or 30% of his desires in order to 'get along'? How about a modern '3/5ths compromise' in order to balance population inequalities between Blue & Red States?


On some issues, I would gladly give up some level of what I would wish if it means that much to the other guy, and he's willing to reciprocate in the opposite direction when it means that much to me. But what you and your fellow Republicans argue is, "We don't compromise, so give us everything we want or else we're at war." And if I or liberals or Democrats don't cave unconditionally, then we're putting party before country.

Let me be clear, if one side wants peace through compromise, and the other side wants its own way on everything or else war, there can be no compromise between the two. And the fault of that is not on the side who refused to capitulate unconditionally.


We await his Solomonic Wisdom with baited breath.


I'm pretty sure the expression is not spelled that way, even in Canada.

Tim Wolter said...

LarryH

Noted. Really nothing new here. I see as mentioned earlier that the Officially Approved term "meddled" has now replaced "hacked". I can easily believe that the Russians did this. I have a harder time imagining that it decided the outcome of the election. Or that this is the first time something like this has happened.

And as with all such stories, there are an awful lot of off the record sources without names.

I remain skeptical that this was decisive. The revelations mostly were that Democrats were lazy with cyber security and were at least as venal as the public generally regards all politicians. Perhaps it also had some resonance with the related questions - now well and truly buried - as to whether Ms. Clinton's communications were also being read in Moscow.

T.

LarryHart said...

So far, Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server seems to be the only one not being read in Moscow.

And we're truly into a weird place if Trump is preferable as a candidate to Hillary because Hillary might have let something slip to Russia, whereas Trump is openly in bed with them. It is just like that oft-quoted Simpsons episode where people couldn't vote for Mayor Quimby because he's so soft on crime he let Sideshow Bob out of prison early. So instead, they vote for Sideshow Bob.

As to yesterday's conversation, I'd still have trouble voting for you as a Republican as long as you refuse to acknowledge (and counter from within) the Republican tactics of suppressing the vote and suppressing factual information which leads to politically-inconvenient conclusions.

Twominds said...

@Larry Hart, 9:22 AM

I think you're referring to this article? It's worth a read in full.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/world/national-security/obama-putin-election-hacking/?hpid=hp_rhp-banner-high_russiaobama-banner-7a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.63bb74a63a85

David Brin said...

TimW: You keep being distracted by squirrels.

1. Irrespective of GOP-Russia collusion, the fact is that Putin’s FSB etc wanted the GOP to win, not just the presidency, but across the board. That outcome is what they blatantly sought. That is a fact of profound political redolence. It should deeply bother all patriotic Americans. While it is not a court-of-law conviction, it is consistent with mountains of evidence that the Republican Party is not healthy for the U.S.

2. All right then, but did the GOP collude with Moscow toward that end? We are not (yet) in a court of law, so demanding court-of-law proof of GOP-Russia collusion is just plain wrong. The pile of circumstantial evidence is overwhelming. It is a mountain!

Manfort, Flynn, Pence, the ENTIRE circle of people surrounding Jared Kushner, secret meetings and channels! Scads of business connections and sweetheart deals with Russian oligarchs. Exxon, for H sake! “Emoluments” amounting to billions! You know I could go on and on.

Dig it. We do not need to be hamstrung or stymied by court-of-law standards when deciding that something stinks to high heaven and the security of the American state is at stake. Those who demand court-of-law standards are Fox shills. They scream "witch hunt!" while the townsfolk close in on a coven of pointy-hatted, Satan-chanting crones who have children suspended over a cauldron. These may not quite be witches, but we are perfectly right to demand answers to our questions.

3. Court-of-law hairsplitting over definitions of “obstruction” are necessary when deciding on criminal prosecutions and whether to deprive the perpetrator of either life or freedom with prison. But it is an absurd standard _politically_. These are traitors, pure and simple. That is “traitors” with a small-t… for now… until it’s proved in court. But the shoe fits.

4. The same term applies to those who drag their feet over reforming the weaknesses that the Putin-cabal tried to exploit. The issue is not whether the FSB etc were THE tipping factor in 2016. The issue is the fact that Congress is holding ZERO hearings about how to strengthen US electoral processes, investigating corruptible voting machines. The horrific influence of partisan secretaries of state. Gerrymandering. Weaponized narrative.

They are complicit. As the old saying goes: "We've settled what you are. Now we're just trying to determine the pricew you sold us out for." It is the "T-Word." We're only arguing over whether it is "t" or "T."

David Brin said...

TimH. My problem with far-lefties is about personality, not specific policy proposals. They are inherently and almost always teleological, fanatical, and zero-sum romantics who are convinced that their model of reality and prescriptions are not only correct and necessary, but also (coincidence!) would leave them justified to wield total power.

Yes, exactly the same description encompasses almost all rightists, as well. With a few differences.

1. Lefty teleology envisions an ever- upward arc (as they would define it) to human destiny, while rightist teleology goes in for “cyclical history.” Both are loony, baseless and disproved, but facts have no effect.

2. Lefty despots will kill you, but spare your children (teaching them to hate you) because they tend (mostly) to dismiss genetic or racial inheritance in favor or notions of infinite human mold-ability. Right wing or fascist or feudal despots will kill you and then slaughter your children.

3. Lefty despots will tightly control science. Right-wing despots tend to tear it out and destroy it, root and branch.

4. Both create religions and aristocracies to enforce order. There have been far, far fewer left wing despotisms, so the religions have generally been Marxist.

5. Both cater to romantic fanaticisms. Both fret about losing defectors to a reasonable middle.


I do not fail to understand your strawmen, locumranch. They simply have nothing to do with me. I am not behooved to answer accusations that are psychotic hallucinations, crafted by a strange mind who rails that others are just like what he sees in the mirror.

To be clear, I do argue with folks when they make accusations that at least fire in the general direction of the horizon where I stand. On occasion I have thus argued with you. But there’s no basis here. Your salvos disappear into some Twilight Zone.

Twominds said...

To add to my post above: this article in Slate gives an interesting take on Obama's reluctance to air the intelligence about Russia (as in the Wapo article) before the elections. The author states that this helped protect US democracy at a critial point.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/06/obama_s_response_to_russian_interference_he_did_his_job.html

Ricardo Montachio said...

"Yes, some of them have crewcuts and erect posture and may even sound like the dad in Leave it to Beaver, or Andy Griffith"

And that's why the Democrats won't even talk to them. You're deluding yourself if you think the ideological insanity of the Dems is in any way lesser to the Reps.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Ricardo: I am a Dem, in a deeply Dem state, but I am not so deluded as to think it's my way or the highway. One of my best HS friends went to West Point, served with honor, and is currently still working in a non active service capacity with the military. I'm pretty sure he was Republican, but by this time is probably voting independent; Steve's brain would explode from the illogic of Trump's trip through Wonderland. I'm also not sure I would ask him to put his family through the insanity of running for office, even though I'm sure he would be a credit to his training and be a wonderful, dutiful (as in: performs his duty to his constituents) politician. West Point and officer training in general tends to weed out the dunderheads, although in some it adds a flavor of hideboundness that is contrary to our need for across the aisle compromise. Why would I NOT want someone with those qualifications to contemplate a political career? IMHO, military service is no disqualification to political office, and you are nutty to think Democrats would bag a viable candidate on that reason.

Tim Wolter said...

"..the fact is that Putin’s FSB etc wanted the GOP to win.." Source please.

"..whether to deprive the perpetrator of either life or freedom with prison. But it is an absurd standard _politically_. These are traitors, pure and simple. That is “traitors” with a small-t… for now.." I do not recognize the distinction. If someone is a traitor then that is what they are and the punishment is clear. You would not distinguish Rapists from rapists would you? You are adept enough at words to use them with clarity.

"..corruptible voting machines.." Evidence of these is, shall we say, meager. More so than the voter fraud concerns that are roundly denounced here.

Look, I don't care for President Trump one little bit. But he is, and will remain President. There are more constructive ways to deal with this fact.

T.

David Brin said...

Ricardo Montachio yes, there are millions like you, basically decent people who can see that the Republican Party has gone stark, jibbering insane, utterly treasonous and vile, top to bottom... yet you cling to mantras that get you off the hook for having been their sucker, for years. The mantra that "democrats are just as bad!"

Um... no?

All you have to back that up are anecdotes. Separate incidents. No statistics. Almost all blue states - except Illinois - are better run than almost all red states - except Utah - in almost every single category. Try actually comparing outcomes, as here:
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html

Will some dem idiots reject ex-military blue dogs? Sure. I guess we'll see how many.

onward

onward

Troutwaxer said...

I believe that even in the USA you are more likely to win big by going "left" - the GOP is going to say that anybody standing against them is a "Pinko Liberal"

And the response, botched by Democrats as far back as Carter is to say, "Yes, I'm a Liberal. I believe we should have clean air to breathe, and clean water to drink. I believe we should have a society that's free from prejudice. I believe we should have a great education system. (etc.) My opponent, who is not a Liberal opposes those things.

...the Democratic establishment only cares about their own, diminished by minority status, power. What you are proposing would upend those power-brokers' own power. Not gonna happen.

I agree with you. Unfortunately, overthrowing the Democratic establishment is the first priority. They don't understand the various new realities of winning and are part of the problem; essentially the enablers of the Republican craziness. By their actions they have no idea of what the fight is really about or how to win that fight.

Dr. Brin's ideas are very good in this regard, but I suspect that most modern Democrats would fight him just because it is a "new" idea.

Anonymous said...

Thinking about this a little more, there should be a way for to pay for this. Consider the following two conversations:

Us: Mr. Colonel, we'd like to draft you to run for office.

Mr. Colonel: I'd love to serve my country that way. What's our budget like?

Us: Umm... We haven't figured that part out yet... let us get back to you...

Mr. Colonel: Don't bother.

* * * VERSUS * * *

Us: Mr. Colonel, we'd like to draft you to run for office.

Mr. Colonel: I'd love to serve my country that way. What's our budget like?

Us: We can give you $100,000 in seed money, plus $25,000/month for the duration of the campaign.

Mr. Colonel: I'm in!

My own thinking is to run a progressive thrift store on the Goodwill model, but support progressive candidates instead of job training. Unfortunately, that's as far as I've gotten, but maybe someone who has some business knowledge can take it further.

Alistair M. said...


Dear Mr Brin,

Please, just tone it down. I get very tired of the "party of science" stuff. OK; some Republicans are crazy. But let's review some of the challenging scientific realities that prevail on the left-side of the aisle.

Nuclear power (You call this one, credit to you)

GMOs

Economic opportunity cost and discount rates. Do I need to spell out Econ 101? Money spent on clean energy cannot be spent on curing cancer. Or space travel. It's not "zero sum" (yes, some of us have post grad game theory) to point out that you can reduce CO2 emmissions or fix onchocerciasis, but not both with the same $.

In fact, most microeconomics generally is pretty tough for the left.

Intelligence studies

Human genetics, and biodiversity.

Evolutionary Game Theory.

Human group psych, virtue signalling, and pathological narcissism.

Vaccines.

And incidentally, there's plenty of positions on AGW that acknowledge warming but don't think we will all die unless we spend a gazillion dollars on reductions RIGHT NOW. Please respect the strongest opposing position, not the weakest.

Overall, no party has a monopoly on magical thinking; and thinking that you're immune to it is usually the first sign that, as Feynaman might have said, we might be fooling ourselves.