Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A Time For Colonels, Part Two: Working with - not fighting - human nature

In Part One of this series, I laid out how the Trumpite collapse of the Republican Brand might lead to GOP losses in 2018… and yet, that "victory" - narrowly winning back the House and Senate - would leave the Democrats and the nation catastrophically impotent and gridlocked. And gridlock - not governing - has been the central GOP aim for 24 years.

Only a far, far bigger “wave” can possibly help America break out of debilitating culture war that is now teetering on civil war.

I wholly applaud the fervor of Bernites and other liberal activists to non-violently contest every swing district where Trumpist shenanigans are turning moderate-wavering voters away from the alt-right madness!  But can we agree that’s nowhere near enough? 

There are 220 “safe” Republican congressional districts — and several thousand red-safe state Assembly and state Senate seats. Moreover, even if we smash the dastardly and purely-evil treason of gerrymandering, those numbers won’t decline by more than a fifth.  

If you want to end this insanity — helping the people of suffering Kansas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and so on shake off the monsters in their statehouses — then we’ve got to offer them alternatives that average voters in 'personality-conservative' regions will find palatable.

Yes, that means men and women who are conservative by style and temperament — and yes, some opinions — but who are also sane, intelligent, science-loving, rights-respecting, fact-using and eager to solve problems for a better America.

There are many places to seek such candidates, and I send money to orgs who are recruiting women and scientists etc. to run for office! But last time I told you the best and richest ore to mine…

… so let’s get back to why.

==  Use human nature, instead of denouncing it ==

George Lakoff, one of the smartest social psychologists around, tried to warn the Clinton campaign that they were doing it all wrong. They thought that Trump’s endless series of outrageous statements and behaviors would undermine support when, in fact, his success at infuriating blue smartypants types was a feature to Red Americans, not a bug.  

Even many Latinos voted for Trump. Why? Because “strict father” morality is big in Latino culture.  As opposed to the “nurturing parent” mode of leadership that Lakoff ascribes to liberals.

Lakoff correctly pointed out that this needn’t be either-or! Sure Republican politicians trick voters into conflating “strength” with “mean-minded and nasty.” But why cede them that ground? If the voting majority in a particular district or constituency thinks and feels in Lakoff’s Strong Father mode, then why not provide a candidate who offers a mien of quiet strength, combined with intellect, moderation, compassion and rectitude? Such people exist. Our country overflows with them! They don’t have to be colonels… but it’s a good place to start.

Last time, I described how Rob Quist recently came closer to to ousting the GOP from Montana’s single congressional district than any time in 30 years. He wasn’t a retired officer, but his combination of political moderation-intelligence with good-old-boy styles brought him close, despite being outspent five to one. Likewise, I spoke of how, in my own district, retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate was similarly outspent by the richest man in Congress, and gave infamous Darrell Issa the scare of his political career.

Consider that running such candidates makes sense even in districts that seem truly and utterly hopeless! Just forcing Republicans to spend at these levels… five to one… in their supposedly safe seats is a spectacularly effective thing to do! Besides, we don’t know yet how badly damaged the GOP brand will be, by November 2018. So how about being ready to pounce, with candidates even in Deep Crimson territory?

Two asides: 

*  Recruiting candidates demands a lengthy vetting process and it’s already getting late for 2018! Residency must be established and all that. One advantage of retired officers is that their lives were already spent under scrutiny, with very clear paper trails. Vetting can happen quickly, with some high likelihood there are no hidden skeletons.

Another advantage — they spent their service years moving around, and hence cannot easily be called “carpetbagging outsiders.”

* And sure, also recruit from other sources! Last time I referred to the many groups recruiting women and minorities, plus the amazing 314.org campaign to get active scientists running for office. Here’s another great idea: when Donald Trump fired all 48 Obama-appointed US Attorneys, he inadvertently supplied another clade of potential candidates with “strength” in their resumes.

== Refusing a free gift ==

Remember fundamentals. If Trump-exhaustion gives the Democrats an edge in 2018, should they aim to slice off maybe thirty House seats and five in the Senate, and thus win a razor thin Congressional control? Let me reiterate: that happened in 1992 and in 2008, and each victory was ephemeral, even futile, as gridlock soon set in. And gridlock serves the GOP masters just fine.

Or should the aim be crushing victory? A demolition of the Murdochian treason, so overwhelming that this phase of civil war ends and rational politics can resume in America?

To achieve the second result, you’ll need more than “swing voters.” As I said, you must peel away ten million or so remnant-sapient conservatives, overcoming their obstinate loyalty to a party that long-ago left them — (use that Reagan line!) — and that left behind all decency, in slavish devotion to oligarchy. Fox hollers “Democrats are worse!” But we’ve seen that there are fact-centered men and women of moderation, logic and compassion who can pierce that delusion. 

Put a Democratic colonel or captain before a red voter. That voter will listen to a Democrat. Perhaps for the first time, ever.

Oh, but will liberals embrace such allies, knowing there will be some irritating clashes down the road, over this or that cultural meme, symbol, or specific doctrine? Will the reaction be: “Okay, we’ll have some minor differences. But you are sane and decent and fact-loving and will help end the madness. So welcome!”
Or will these recruits be reflexively snubbed, driven back into the arms of the Murdochians? 

Fox and pals are absolutely counting on the latter reaction. Already we’ve seen internecine fights over whether to support  candidates who — while vastly better than a gopper incumbent — failed to pass some liberal or leftist litmus test. Norman Goldman derisively calls the "Progressive Purity Police” those who would repeat every tactic of the so-called Tea Party, that helped turn the Republican Party into the most-disciplined partisan force in U.S. history, and one of the craziest. Oh, by all means, imitate that. 

Sophia McClellon on Salon points out the many problems of the Democratic Party, whose brand rates as not much of a draw for those repelled by GOP madness.

Asking “Why won’t Democrats let anti-abortion progressives under their tent?” Washington Post commentator Christine Emba  complains: “This is a mistake — and not only because it limits Democrats’ ability to keep or expand their voter base. It also reduces the core values of the progressive movement to a single symbol and constrains the debate on how to best achieve broader goals of social and economic equality. The associated contempt for antiabortion activists often relies on outdated assumptions about their aims and origins and fails to take into account the complexity of most Americans’ views on abortion.”  

Is there a win-win compromise? The sensible thing for Bernites and other left-liberals to demand would be: “Leave the most vulnerable swing districts to us. But go ahead and send your blue-dog candidates invading red territory. If all those ex-colonels and such win — kicking out Tea Party maniacs — we expect to argue with our new, blue-dog colleagues, now and then, in the halls of Congress, while agreeing 75% of the time on matters the country desperately needs. If they have some “sane conservative” traits, we can live with that, if it helps to kick out the insane ones.”

The good news: there are signs that this approach — attacking the madness across a broad front — is taking hold. See some of the new candidates who are stepping up, already.  A Bronze Star paratrooper platoon leader. A woman engineer and Air Force captain. Another bonze star major who is a medical doctor. A former Navy Seal and entrepreneur.  

And — crucially — other moves are taking place at the state level. As in Virginia, where Democrats plan to challenge 45 GOP incumbents — as opposed to just 21 candidates, last round — in the deep-red House of Delegates this November, including 17 lawmakers whose districts voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton.  

An improvement - but also pathetic! Since there are 100 seats in the Virginia House of Burgesses. Every one of them should be contested.  

Especially districts that have a strong military presence! An analysis of Gallup polling data during the first 100 days of Trump's presidency shows that Trump's job approval plummeted especially in military counties — from an average 51 percent approval and 41 percent disapproval in the first 100 days to 43 percent approval and 52 percent disapproval for May -- and that was a month ago. Here and there, Democratic and moderate political groups have been targeting veterans as candidates for midterm races and there may be some reason to think military voters could be good targets for the party. 

== It’s never simple ==

Okay, before I get screams… yes, there are elements in the military who embrace the dark side. Michael Flynn guzzled koolaid and joined almost every member of the Trump administration beating a drum for war (of some kind) with Tehran, a lunacy supported, fortunately, by almost none of his peers in the senior officer corps. 

Elsewhere, I compare the different ways that democratic and republican presidents wage war and why this distinction matters to serving warriors.

Yes, there have long been struggles within the military over religious fundamentalism, for example. I’ll talk a bit more about this in Part III. 
On the other hand, nothing better displays the good sense of this plan better than the panicky fury it elicits, in mad corners of the alt-right. Screechers like Kurt Schlichter proclaim:

“The Democrats are out there recruiting military vets – there’s one jerky liberal everyone finds annoying in every big unit, and that’s who they pick. They’ll preen and pose and get elected and then salute General Pelosi….”

(If you doubt the venomous fury of this Fox-propelled movement, here is the fellow’s alarum to any Republican politician who even thinks about breaking the “never-ever-negotiate” Hastert Rule: "

You see, you're there to represent Republicans. Some goofs and wusscons have the idea that you're there to represent all voters, but that's nonsense…. You are there to represent the people who voted for you, not the liberal whiners and welfare cheats who didn't and who hate you and us..... We're going to hurt Democrats."

Let's put the shoe on the other foot, and watch how quickly these fellow whimper "be fair!"  Of course... we will.

== History validates: The officer corps is on our side ==

In Part Three of this series, I’ll appraise many other reasons why democrats should find plenty of volunteers, from among recently retired officers, including their revulsion toward a “Deep State” meme, that the mad right now uses to justify attacking those who serve.  

But for now, let’s just remember what finally brought down the equivalent of Steve Bannon, back in during the Greatest Generation of the 1950s. What event finally toppled the horrific firebrand Joe McCarthy? What was “Tailgunner Joe’s” fatal error? 

It was attacking the U.S. Military Officer Corps. 

Alas, weaned on stereotypes, movie clich├ęs and pop-paranoid philosophers, I doubt that most of the Murdochians have a clue who they are leveling their lance against. The best-educated, most-pragmatically grownup and loyal clade of men and women in American life.

They spent their careers willing to lay down their lives for us. In retirement, they can be called up to step up, once again, and rescue the Union from a recurring, potentially-lethal madness.

Let’s not wait for the Democratic Party leadership to wise up. Heck, I don’t mind if retired, sane colonels run in Republican primaries!  Go ahead, begin the process of resurrecting a decent American conservatism, that way.

But no. It’s up to us. If you know a retired officer — a colonel or major or Navy captain or any other background worthy of respect — talk to him or her about this. 

Plant a germ of the idea. Send them to talk to Doug Applegate. Offer to help them, even if it means finding and moving to an amenable red district! Get them discussing it with their ex-comrades. Link them here.

This can start with you.

== Continue to Part III or return to Part I. 

67 comments:

Tim H. said...

Some retired officers in GOP elective office would go a long way to helping that party recover some of it's progressive mojo, might even bring the "Pick handle" wing of the party to heel. Would be a better long term strategy for the party than subverting democracy.

Paul SB said...

Subverting democracy seems to be a winning strategy for the GOP. They are unlikely to change their tactics as long as there are strong memes they can use to prey upon voters. Just yesterday they were interviewing some poverty-stricken woman who depends on Medi Care for health but voted for Trump because she thought he was a tough guy who would drain the swamp and fix the system. She's in for a surprise, but people who are so lacking in critical thinking skills can be counted on to reliably vote Republican every time. They will blame their pain on the Dems no matter how obvious which gang of thieves is stealing the nation out from under them. 40 years of mostly Republican control and the greatest level of economic inequality since the age of the Robber Barons is what they have brought us, but millions of Americans will vote for their oppressors every time, because they are pro-life and say "God" a lot in public.

Later they interviewed an author who has bipolar disorder and PTSD. He commented about how many people he met over the years in treatment for PTSD who were traumatized by being raised in Fundamentalist Christian families and communities. Misery perpetuates misery through the generations.

http://www.npr.org/2017/06/20/533653471/sherman-alexie-says-hes-been-indian-du-jour-for-a-very-long-day

They didn't include that bit in the transcript, so you have to listen to the interview itself.

Paul SB said...

The relevant material starts 6 1/2 minutes in. There is also this older article from the Guardian that has much the same to say.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/apr/05/religion-evangelical-christian-apocalypse-josiah-hesse

Bob Neinast said...

So, now Handel has beaten Ossoff by 4 points, after the polls showed them neck-and-neck. While I tend to hate conspiracy theories (how do they all keep the secret while manipulating the votes?) suppose you are right about the Diebold (and other voting) machines.

How do we find out for sure? When the Republicans control so much of the voting apparatus, how do we find out in a fashion that doesn't look like we're nuts, and then how do we change things?

Jumper said...

"No paper trail: Georgia’s antiquated voting system prevents an audit for hacks"

The headline says it all.

https://www.rawstory.com/2017/06/no-paper-trial-georgias-antiquated-voting-system-prevents-an-audit-for-hacks/

Darrell E said...

Bob Neinast,

Nuts conspiracy theories or not the mere fact that voting machines operate in such a way that they do not produce a paper trail, or some equivalent record, of results that can be readily back checked is enough all by itself to warrant a call to get rid of them. It is so stupid to create voting machines with that kind of flaw that suspicion of bad intent on the part of the people responsible for making, selling, buying and using the machines is only reasonable. It could just be stupidity and inertia but it would be irresponsible not to consider foul play.

Whatever the case may be there is no valid argument for not replacing such machines with ones that do create a "paper trail."

Bob Neinast said...

Darrell E: The "valid argument" (for the Republicans) is that it lets them keep "winning" elections.

Maybe you meant a "fairness argument" or "integrity argument" instead.

When the GOP has shown again and again that they are not interested in either fairness or integrity (e.g., Garland/Gorsuch, AHCA) and have used that to capture the political process, we get back to my original question: how do you get away from that? Just saying "that's not valid" or even "you're cheating" will have zero impact.

Back to Georgia: when the Republicans control the whole voting process, while we can agree about how voting machines ought to work, I don't see any way to force them on the state when it is in the GOP's best interests (lacking fairness or integrity) doesn't want the change. I sure don't see a way; maybe somebody else does.

matthew said...

I see the investigation into Russian meddling in the last election as our best chance to force a paper trail on ballots nationwide. It is a Federal issue as the sovereignty of the entire nation is at stake.

Or just do as sensible Oregon has done and switch to 100% vote by mail using paper ballots.

matthew said...

Donzelion - how much can you comment on the change in heir in Saudi Arabia? https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/21/saudi-king-upends-tradition-by-naming-son-as-first-in-line-to-throne

I'd be very interested to get your take on the rather dramatic changes taking place in the Kingdom.

David Brin said...

Bob N significantly, Handel's former GA Secretary of State, a position that in most red states is now dedicated to one purpose, corruption in the electoral process.

Matthew the change in Saudi was long seen coming. They see him as the genius savior.

Darrell E said...

Bob,

I apparently misinterpreted you a bit. Your "how do we find out in a fashion that doesn't look like we're nuts" comment threw me off. It sounded like you were looking for justifications.

Regarding your response I can only venture, "no shit."

I doubt there is a way to oppose the current systems like GA's without being perceived as being nuts or worse by a significant percentage of the people that continue to empower the Republican Party against their own best interests. Perhaps generational turn-over will eventually help.

Treebeard said...

I think we're beyond colonels and electoral politics at this point; our crisis is more fundamental than that. John Michael Greer was in rare form in his latest interview and talks about this at length. Listen from 25:00 for a little (anti-)sermon that deserves to be heard by the whole nation.

https://youtu.be/ezK97JYzafQ?t=1508

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Norman Goldman derisively calls the "Progressive Purity Police” those who would repeat every tactic of the so-called Tea Party,...


I was hoping that some day you would pay attention to Norman Goldman, or the other way around. Your political ideas really do overlap quite a bit. He's even close by you in Los Angeles.

LarryHart said...

Darrel E:

Whatever the case may be there is no valid argument for not replacing such machines with ones that do create a "paper trail."


From the mindset of the authoritarians which the Republican Party (politicians and voters alike) has become, voting machines without a paper trail make perfect sense. Remember from 1984 that the aim of the Party is for you to accept that "Two plus two equals whatever the Party says it does." Likewise the vote tally.

LarryHart said...

Bob Neinast:

When the GOP has shown again and again that they are not interested in either fairness or integrity (e.g., Garland/Gorsuch, AHCA) and have used that to capture the political process, we get back to my original question: how do you get away from that?


When, in the course of human events,...

LarryHart said...

matthew:

Or just do as sensible Oregon has done and switch to 100% vote by mail using paper ballots.


And that isn't ripe for subversion? Who's to say what happens twixt the mail and the counting? And even if the pipeline is foolproof, anyone with enough coercive power over large numbers of people (employers, for example, or landlords of large buildings) could "require" people to hand over their signed blank ballot and envelope in exchange for some essential service.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

"You see, you're there to represent Republicans. Some goofs and wusscons have the idea that you're there to represent all voters, but that's nonsense…. You are there to represent the people who voted for you, not the liberal whiners and welfare cheats who didn't and who hate you and us..... We're going to hurt Democrats."

Let's put the shoe on the other foot, and watch how quickly these fellow whimper "be fair!" Of course... we will.


Of course, I agree with your sentiment. But unfortunately, this country does not view Republicans and Democrats as equal parties. Even if a Senator was a Democrat, that guy would still insist that that Senator is there to represent Republicans. Because people like that (and they are legion) view "Republicans" as shorthand for "real Americans" and "Democrats" as shorthand for "Traitors and terrorists."

Making the substitution turns his rant into:
"You see, you're there to represent real Americans. Some goofs and wusscons have the idea that you're there to represent all voters including traitors and terrorists, but that's nonsense…"

It's then obvious that they're not going to respond the way you want to the rejoinder, "Wait until the traitors and terrorists are in power and see how you like it!"

matthew said...

And yet, this is not occurring in Oregon. The difficulty (and chance of malfeasance) in handling mail ballots is no different than handling ballots cast in precincts.

Your employer demanding to see your ballot is unlawful. Why act unlawfully when you can fire at will. My previous employer's lawyer to me to go into our company parking lot and come up with a reason to fire anyone with an Obama bumpersticker on their car. That was a legal request, made in a deep blue state. No need to see the ballot when you already have the power to fire anyone that you suspect of voting in ways you dislike.

matthew said...

Should read "lawyer told me to go..."

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Let’s not wait for the Democratic Party leadership to wise up. Heck, I don’t mind if retired, sane colonels run in Republican primaries! Go ahead, begin the process of resurrecting a decent American conservatism, that way.


Exactly! That's the judo move you've been talking about. If most regions of the country reflexively vote Republican, then turn the Republican Party back to the Party of Lincoln.

What I'd really like to see is the election of new Republicans who then (like independent Bernie Sanders) caucus with the Democrats. Although as the punchline of a Reagan-era joke had it, "This, you only do once." Still, it would be great.

LarryHart said...

The joke referenced above. I'm going from memory, and I think it was Yakov Smirnof, or at least someone riffing on his "candid Russian" schtick. Important is that this was in the year or so when Yuri Andropov was the head of the Soviet Union.

"In America, you are free. You can say 'I hate Ronald Reagan,' if you wish.

In Russia, you can also say 'I hate Ronald Reagan.' [pause for laugh]

In Russia, you can also say 'I hate Yuri Andropov', but this, you only do once."


LarryHart said...

matthew:

And yet, this is not occurring in Oregon. The difficulty (and chance of malfeasance) in handling mail ballots is no different than handling ballots cast in precincts.


That's good. I'm just pointing out that not-in-person voting has its own pitfalls, which are not even addressed by voter-id laws ostensibly designed to prevent voter fraud.


Your employer demanding to see your ballot is unlawful. Why act unlawfully when you can fire at will. My previous employer's lawyer to me to go into our company parking lot and come up with a reason to fire anyone with an Obama bumpersticker on their car. That was a legal request, made in a deep blue state. No need to see the ballot when you already have the power to fire anyone that you suspect of voting in ways you dislike.


Because I wasn't envisioning the point of the exercise to be firing people, but rather the gaining access to thousands of (signed by unmarked) ballots which could then be used to vote often.

LarryHart said...

Aaargh! "...signed BUT unmarked..."

Paul SB said...

Matthew,

"My previous employer's lawyer to me to go into our company parking lot and come up with a reason to fire anyone with an Obama bumpersticker on their car."
- Ah, reminds me of home! I left long before Obama came to power, but the idea was the same. It was open-season on anyone who wasn't sufficiently Christian Conservative.

Darrell,

Generational turn-over will always make a difference. The salience of different issues changes from one generation to the next, and the 'golden age" that is projected to be the model for current and future action is changed with it. But it can take time. You don't hear much about child labor laws anymore, for the same reason that no one is getting stoned for eating pepperoni pizza or shrimp. What doesn't change is that there are always business people trying to corrupt the system, and the most successful of them get away with it by convincing people that what they are doing is natural and even honorable. That's why we have "culture wars."

Lawrence said...

"The associated contempt for antiabortion activists often relies on outdated assumptions about their aims and origins"
The piece you link to is lacking an explanation for how or why I am mistaken in my take on the christian sex police and their filthy dominionist project. You might want to consult with Fred Clark and Libby Ann over at Patheos. Both are ex members of the evangelical antiabortion movement.
Your overall plan here is sound. But you can't resist the opportunity to take a piss on anybody to your left. Krugman does it too. It's quite fashionable. Could you take equal time to talk about how all the New Democrat bullshit got us here? Maybe consider that the words "We're not Denmark" aren't a winning play. Why, Madame Secretary, aren't we Denmark? Why couldn't we be? Yes, all the racism is part of it. But isn't another part of it that you and all your friends from Davos want it that way? We know that strong unions and industrial policy create the middle class. But job training and market magic are cheaper, for the people who actually matter. And if we clap loud enough it just might, someday, work. Since someone will ask, yes I did vote for Mrs. Clinton. I gave her campaign money twice. I have never donated to a political campaign before. And yes, I vote in the midterms.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

"My previous employer's lawyer to me to go into our company parking lot and come up with a reason to fire anyone with an Obama bumpersticker on their car."
- Ah, reminds me of home! I left long before Obama came to power, but the idea was the same. It was open-season on anyone who wasn't sufficiently Christian Conservative.


Wow. Living in blue Illinois, I never realized how pervasive such attempts at firing political opponents is in parts of the country. I realize the Democrats of the elder Mayor Daley's time were probably just as bad, but you and matthew are talking about private sector efforts directed against politically-incorrect employees. That's a bit scary.

However, the scenario I described was not meant as a way for employers to suss out and punish "bad" employees. Rather, I was suggesting that the employer might demand signed ballots that had not been otherwise filled out, which he could then mark as he wished and mail in at his leisure.

To misparaphrase matthew above, why punish employees for voting the wrong way when you can do their voting for them?

LarryHart said...

Lawrence:

Since someone will ask, yes I did vote for Mrs. Clinton. I gave her campaign money twice. I have never donated to a political campaign before. And yes, I vote in the midterms.


What state do you vote in?

LarryHart said...


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/21/opinion/where-did-we-the-people-go.html

The whole article is worth the read, but here's the money shot:


...
“What we’re experiencing is an assault on the very foundations of our society and democracy — the twin pillars of truth and trust,” Seidman responded. “What makes us Americans is that we signed up to have a relationship with ideals that are greater than us and with truths that we agreed were so self-evident they would be the foundation of our shared journey toward a more perfect union — and of respectful disagreement along the way. We also agreed that the source of legitimate authority to govern would come from ‘We the people.’”

But when there is no “we” anymore, because “we” no longer share basic truths, Seidman argued, “then there is no legitimate authority and no unifying basis for our continued association.”
...

donzelion said...

In terms of colonels, California's Paul Cook of the 8th District offers an interesting point of contrast: a colonel, he votes with Trump 100% of the time. Yes, he is regarded as being somewhat more moderate than some in the high desert....but no, he hasn't exactly revitalized conservativism.

Perhaps Applegate would be a better colonel. Either way, I respect colonels and hope to see a few more of them as representatives.



donzelion said...

Matthew: "how much can you comment on the change in heir in Saudi Arabia?"

Hmmm...I knew his older brother better, who was both the 'astronaut prince' and the head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage (SCTH). Indeed, I played a role during sessions assisting in drafting their first law and certain executive regulations; and he would pop in every now and then. He was perfectly respectable and pleasant to deal with, and ran things loosely (at least when I was around). He had excellent ties with the U.S. Embassy (although that project was being led by a former shadow minister of tourism from Australia, who signed on with my law firm because (a) we were small, and (b) we did odd favors for Aussie nationals that a big commercial firm couldn't do).

At the time, Prince Naif (Mohammed bin Naif's father) was minister of interior, and a complex story for America. Prince Naif erected far-reaching bank reforms that would make privacy advocates SCREECH in America - but which we demanded for other countries so they could clamp down on money laundering to support terrorist financing. They did more to stop it than we have ever done to regulate our own banks. And more...

The new crown prince had a low profile when I was there; he was known primarily for his horsemanship (the Salman's farm is one of the elite Arabian stables in the world). Since then...well, I know of a few lawyers who've shrugged it all off, and a few salivating over the proposed floating of a stake in Aramco (although since the Saudis can apply an 85% income tax to it, that doesn't necessarily mean what people think it does).

Still, think about the family taking on an 'antiquities' portfolio: in a country where destroying ancient mosques is regarded by a few as a sacred duty (to prevent idolatry), they've cautiously drawn a few lines, while trying to coopt others. The Salman family had (probably has) massive holdings in the U.S. - and I believe a fair bit of their holdings included stakes in the venture capital firms that own and create much of Silicon Valley. Those deals are rather murky; the lawyers working them are not allowed to talk to the lawyers working the other side, and the sources of funds are deliberately obscured. When they become public (e.g., Prince Waleed's holdings in News Corp and Citibank), it tends to be because something goes dramatically wrong. You'll never hear our host talk about Elon Musk joining up with the Saudis, but...it's a safe bet that they own as much or more of his enterprises as they do of Murdoch's (usually indirectly).

The Iranian take on this change including in the Guardian's post is hilarious. 'Soft coup'? Come on.

matthew said...

Thanks for the insight. I really appreciate hearing from someone with your perspective.

I made a few good forecasts about Saudi politics when I was doing the competitive forecasting trial that I've mentioned here a few times (actually got into the program about 5 years ago now when David mentioned it in a blog). I mostly guessed right based on nothing more than Googling, though. I would have loved to have known you then.

Lawrence said...

@LarryHart

I vote in Arizona. I have lived in Phoenix most of my life. Since 1979.

donzelion said...

LarryHart/Matthew: In terms of voting, the biggest problem with the Oregon system is not employers asking for ballots or other forms of coercion. It might happen, but no more likely than anywhere else.

The real problem is a universal one: voting records are not updated. I tried to notify the Secretary of State a couple times that I was no longer an Oregon resident (and I registered years ago in California) - but they never purged me from the list there, and I'm still getting official ballots.

This is a tricky system to operate. While everyone worries about computer systems cheating on the count, it's stacking the decks through the rolls that matters (and the computer systems used for that are far more opaque - credit card records, tax records, expenditures - folks will check to see which stores you shop at while profiling how you'll vote, then fight like crazy to keep - or drop - you from the rolls).

On most of those rubrics, I'm viewed as 99% probability of being an "angry white male" (church records and others exist) - one side fights to keep me on the rolls, the other does not waste time trying to remove me. NYC had similar challenges (and removing a few 'Mickey Mouse' and 'Jacques T. Rippers' when they got challenged was a thorny issue every year - how much do you spend on the Electoral Board's non-seasonal budget to send police investigators around to ask, "Hey, is Mickey home?" "Mickey who?" "Mickey Mouse, a voter registered here?" "Nah, he comes by later.").

In that battle, the Republicans know precisely how much budget is allocated to enforcement in every district, and how to ensure it's routed to removing 'Mickey Mice' but not their own preferred voters. Oddly enough, Mickey Mouse and Satan just don't show up in court to challenge their removal from the rolls - but a wealthy developer can stay on the rolls in dozens of locations, as can his alternates, with a few tweaks to his name...and the side spending money to spot and remove those cheaters is not interested in removing their "friends" (that is, people who shop at a certain place who are thus 90% likely to vote as predicted).

donzelion said...

Matthew: You're welcome. I can say a lot more, and can speak more freely now than I could.
One of the benefits of no longer living there, and not wishing to return.

Full disclosure: I despise feudalism. I once hoped to use corporate systems to unseat and destabilize, and eventually replace it. I am no fan of the Saudi royal family, and though I'm sometimes regarded as an apologist for it, I'm usually trying to disturb shallow, inaccurate critiques. CITOKATE applies only when criticism is accurate; if based on faulty premises, criticism is as likely to induce even greater error as it is to serve as an antidote.

"I made a few good forecasts about Saudi politics when I was doing the competitive forecasting trial that I've mentioned here a few times (actually got into the program about 5 years ago now when David mentioned it in a blog)."
LOL, 5 years ago, I probably couldn't have told you anything that would have helped you. The more you know, the less you can say. ;-)

David Brin said...

Aw, poor Treebeard. He says something true at last. The crisis is deep. True. Fanatical and stupid ingrates - who got every possible gift from the most decent, knowing, gentle and generous and scientific civilization ever known - yowl like spoiled brats at it because, deep down, they know they’ll suffer no serious consequences.

If these twits win, and feudalism returns, all but a couple of us in this community will be killed. If we win, then that gentle, ever-advancing and tolerant- maturing civilization will treat even whiney traitors like the ent with kindness and full citizenship, the way Lincoln shocked the confed traitors by welcoming them back into the Union.

Like a screeching 14 year old brat howling “I hate you!” at parents who will absolutely and assuredly forgive and provide, the neofeudalists don’t really want feudalism. They know, deep down, they will be kibble. No, they just want to piss in the adults’ faces and get away with it..

They know they are crazy, bitchy ingrate fools. But it makes the nerds and parent types wince, and The sighs we emit make it all worthwhile.

Shane Mallatt said...

I don't know why but for some reason I always hesitate to challenge Dr. Brin, but seeing as how his blog is called ContraryBrin and not Agreable Brin, what the heck. I think that you conflate the Bernie supporters as being the further left wing of the Democratic party. In fact on two of the issues you mentioned are things that Bernie has been attacked by corporate Dems for already doing. In the primary one of the main attacks on him was his less than perfect record on gun control. Then recently he was attacked by corporate Dems for supporting a Democratic mayoral candidate in Nebraska that was pro choice. Most Bernie supporters are behind him for his strong stances on single payer, wealth inequality, money in politics, and foreign policy. I may be wrong, but I am pretty sure the Bernie people are already pursuing some of the tactics you recommend.

Shane Mallatt said...

Oops I mean to say the mayoral candidate was pro choice.

David Brin said...

Shane, Bernie is a smart politician who actually wants to do politics. Many of his followers are not political and have no interest in negotiation with moderates or building broad coalitions. You know that I am right about this. One percent of Bernites are 1% as crazy as nearly 100% of Republican/confederates. Yes, that many and that crazy.

locumranch said...


The narcissism of these posts is only exceeded by their lack of empathy as most of you are so quick to plan, effect & celebrate the demise of all those anti-progressive luddites who stand in the way of your urbanised utopia.

Alfred summarised this agenda quite well at the end of the last thread:

"The obvious solution is to replace the human farmers, miners, and what not with robots. A less obvious solution is to centralize the humans involved and enable teleoperation. Human workers DO need human communities, but human workers in any particular niche can receive these services in a number of ways. Traditionally, farmers were served by small farming communities (but) This tradition need not be so in a world of essentially zero cost communications. It is not a market failure when a service that was once essential evaporates when it later becomes unnecessary. This applies to our jobs, social institutions, AND cities. Your fellow coffee drinkers are being stubborn in the face of a decision most of their neighbors made long ago. All things live and die. Sometimes stubbornness is noble. Sometimes it is just stupid."

Being human, of course, all of those 'stupid' Red State farmers, miners, resource providers & traditionalists think otherwise: They will resist these progressive efficiencies; they will not support the socioeconomic mechanism that intends their elimination; and they will NOT go quietly into their good redundancy. They will FAIL, most likely, as progress waits for no man, but they also note that it is City that has out-lived its usefulness (with its social inefficiencies, unnecessary centralisation & antique 19th Century infrastructure), and it is much easier to automate the paper-pushing city dweller than it is the dirt-grubbing rural resource provider.

What purpose does the City Dweller serve, anyway, beyond self-interested gob-stuffing?

I cannot think of one as the 'Internet of Things' has eliminated their entire 'raison d'etre'. We no longer require them as laborers since manufacturing has been automated and/or 'out-sourced'; we no longer require them as 'Shop Keepers' because inventory has been decentralised; we no longer require them as journalists & writers because the News-Writing Bots have already become quite adept at manufacturing 'word wooze'; and we no longer require them as educators, librarians, entertainers, museum attendants, postal carriers, diagnosticians, bureaucrats & solicitors because 'Artificial Intelligence' & Internet. The City Dweller has become an unnecessary anachronism, much like the dying department stores, universities & theatres that they once inhabited.

Their numbers are also quite unsustainable and, most assuredly, their Culling will follow ours.


Best
_____

Alfred says 'All things live and die' & I second that emotion.

Shane Mallatt said...

Dr. Brin you are right that a good number of Bernie supporters are not political in the traditional sense. You are also correct in saying that 1% of his supporters are as crazy as the confederates.(I actually think you are being generous I would put the number of regressive anti science lefties and the scrap capitalism 'Bernie is the new Che Guevara' types among his supporters as at least 5%.). A lot of the non political types you refer to are either from the young new to politics variety, or the bitter working poor service class(stolen from on evonomics article). I admire Bernie a lot and have since listening to a whole lot of "brunches with Bernie" on Thom Hartman's program during the Bush years, but I do share your concerns that too many of his supporters may not respect the difficult and slow process that is good government that Bernie kind of personifies.

David Brin said...

Assertion, assertions and more raving assertions. Has locum ever tried to prove any of them with verifiable facts? Ever. Magicul cult thinking: declaring something makes it true!

Kal Kallevig said...

Alfred,
From the prior: I suggest encouraging them to get rich as quickly as possible. They are playing an economic catch up game.

This in response to a graphic that shows the result of a 1.5 meter sea level rise on Bangladesh, one of the poorest and most densely populated places on earth. The rise will cover approximately 1/3 of the country. Just how will "getting rich" make up for the loss of that rice growing and living area?

Until and unless Dr Brin's asteroid mining operations become reality, the Earth remains a finite resource. Some parts are replaceable, others are not. It is true there might be space for these displaced persons in Kansas or maybe Texas, but there is no obvious mechanism that would allow them to get there.

Alfred Differ said...

Kal,

1.5 meter sea level rise that takes 200 years to arrive is very different than the same level showing up in 20 years. It's a huge, huge difference. The Dutch pushed back the North Sea mostly AFTER they got rich enough to do it. It took a while.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | I usually resist the urge to call people stupid and have continued that here. There ideas, however, are fair game. Your neighbors aren’t stupid, but they ARE human and being stupidly stubborn.

When I was in my 20’s, I got to do a short visit to a working farm. I’d visited before, but standing on a dirt plot leaves too much to imagination. I got to see a tomato harvest up close. This was the 80’s in central California near Sacramento, so the fields were thick with work to be done and the highways where slick with tomatoes that got loose. Machines carried people around the fields everywhere. Between the machines and the people, they split the work and got the fruit to market. I didn’t have a term to use for this kind of coalition, but nowadays in Chess world, they call them Centaurs. Combine a person and a machine (especially one capable of computation) and you get a different animal. On the tomato fields, it was obvious humans alone could not compete. In modern chess tournaments, humans alone can be trounced by decent computers. Centaurs, however, absolutely crush the competition. You know what works even better, though? Several people and several machines working together as a team. Devastatingly competitive.

I’ve worked for the last 20 years at trying to automate the work of city dwellers. It’s easy to do and pays well, but I don’t think I’ve ever succeeded at getting anyone laid off. They shift and change the nature of the centaur to which they belong. Sometimes they even thank me for what I do, but I expect a gritted-teeth smile most of the time. Their bosses keep paying me, though, and keep paying them too. Sometimes I even get to automate work I do, yet they keep paying me. Why? They aren’t stupid or even engaging in stupid behavior. The net result if I do it right creates productivity improvements and that stuff is worth serious cash.

From what I’ve seen over a 30 year span, though, I’d argue that your dirt grubbers are easier to automate in a way that leads to lay-offs and bankruptcies. I got to visit that tomato farm because my girlfriend at the time had a father who had been a farmer nearby. As the story went, he father’s partner did something under-handed and cut him out of the business. He wound up rebuilding a niche farm elsewhere while his former partner thought he’d won. He didn’t, though. All that turf is now owned by much bigger fish than he was. He couldn’t compete and did his former partner an unintentional benefit by knocking him out early enough to build again using new ideas.

The cities aren’t going to die en masse. Some will. Some won’t. It will depend on how nimble their centaurs are. Your friends are guilty of wishful thinking at best or sour grapes at worst. Still… they are welcome to be the humans they are even in their stubbornness. They won’t win, though, and their kids and grandchildren already know it.

Duncan Cairncross said...

I've just seen an article saying that Trump wants a solar farm as his wall

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/donald-trump-mexico-border-wall-solar-panels-pays-itself-green-energy-sustainable-power-a7802106.html

Was that written here first?

Paul SB said...

Larry said:

"Wow. Living in blue Illinois, I never realized how pervasive such attempts at firing political opponents is in parts of the country. I realize the Democrats of the elder Mayor Daley's time were probably just as bad, but you and matthew are talking about private sector efforts directed against politically-incorrect employees. That's a bit scary.

However, the scenario I described was not meant as a way for employers to suss out and punish "bad" employees. Rather, I was suggesting that the employer might demand signed ballots that had not been otherwise filled out, which he could then mark as he wished and mail in at his leisure."

Those kinds of scams did happen back in the 19th C., but I haven't seen or heard of anything like that more recently. But what does happen, especially in smaller cities, is that anything that makes a person stand out as different from the rest makes them a target for harassment. Even in Denver, a city of a million people, I saw this happening, and even in prestigious and powerful corporations. I knew an old programmer from China who worked for HP for a couple decades, until some new hires found out he was a Buddhist and insisted that if he wasn't let go immediately their church would boycott and smear the name of HP all across the country. So the guy was out on his ass looking for work at an age where not a lot of people are willing to hire (in his mid-fifties) but far too young to be able to retire.

locumranch said...



Assertions & sour grapes maybe, my point being that Utilitarianism is something of a logic trap when one assumes utility as a precondition which applies only to those 'other' than oneself.

David does this in spades when he argues for the ELIMINATION of feudalists, segregationists, religionists, tradcons & hicks who no longer serve his interest & purpose in 'Progress', his error being the elevation of his interests 'urbane' above the interests of all others.

Over & over, David makes these hubristic ASSERTIONS about progressive primacy, believing them to be 'verifiable facts' rather than subjective opinion, even though 'others' make similar (antithetical) assumptions about the idiosyncratic primacy of THEIR self-interests & conclude that progressive urbanity no longer serves rural self-interest.

It's called 'Reciprocity'; it's the basis of Civilisation; and Progressivism has repudiated it.

Take off your Union Kepis for a moment & try to convince us -- the Rural Reds, Tradcoms & Undesirables -- how 'self-elimination' serves OUR self-interests rather than just your own, and we will return the favour by suggesting your self-immolation as the cure for Climate Change.


Best

Treebeard said...

Not sure how you read all that into my post. Did you listen to the interview? Seems like you suffer from severe binary thinking: that our only choice is between feudalism and Star Trek – it's a Manichean struggle between good and evil, light and darkness, and the stakes are the universe or nothing (as Wells put it). And if one isn't on your side of the binary, they're an ingrate evil-doer.

This is why Greer's perspective is so fresh, but also so disturbing to many: because he calls BS on this binary, and, as a kind of priest himself, understands the essentially religious nature of the ideology and psychology behind it. Do you?

Catfish N. Cod said...

Because I seem to be a sin-eater at times around here, I listened to about ten minutes' of the linked Greer material, as well as some sympathetically-written synopses of some of his works.

In preparation for accusations of bias, I should also mention my adjacency and occassional involvement in a number of neopagan circles, both social and ritual. At one point (as a favor to some of those friends) I was treasurer of the local campus neopagan student group.

My verdict? This is outdated mush. Greer is obsessed with the idea that "progress" is incapable of integrating sustainability as a virtue; he primarily ties this idea to peak oil and preaches a collapse of industrial society in favor of subsistence farming. He has good insights in psychology and cognition -- for instance, mythology and the centrality of narrative rather than logic in the human means of thinking -- contra Aristotle, man is not a rational but a rationalizing animal.

Not only is Greer's conviction of imminent collapse (which our resident ent shares) predicated on the false premise that sustainability is forever alienated from progress. Not only is Greer's fresh perspective guilty of collapsing together those who "get" the need for sustainability from those still wedded to the rightly condemned notion of "man the conqueror of nature" who has no need to notice these pesky sustainability issues.

No, Greer's worst sin is either ignoring or welcoming the holocaust he preaches. Subsistence agriculture is incapable of maintaining the current population of the planet, and the numbers aren't even close and getting worse. For his vision to come true, the vast majority of the population of the Earth must die. He is predicting and in fact welcoming the greatest holocaust in history, a crash of the Earth's population through starvation, pestilence, and war, a scenario in which the living envy the dead.

And I have absolutely no qualms in calling utter damnation -- in the religious as well as political and secular senses -- on anyone who advocates that.


Do I want sustainability, an ultimate 'ecotechnic' society of the kind Greer preaches, as a desirable endstate? Heck yes, though I want my space travel as well. I do not believe we were meant to stay confined to this Earth as a cog of the ecosystem. In fact, I suspect that we are a bloom, a flowering body, a means by which the Earth intends to replicate as living things always do. Organisms will often consume ferocious amounts of their own resources in such an effort, and sometimes take permanent damage, if it means descendants.

But neither replicating the Earth's biosphere nor a sustainable ecotechnic future are worth gigadeaths. I read S.M. Stirling's "Emberverse" series for fun, a world in which outside forces impose law-of-physics changes that lead to something along the lines Greer preaches. That world is literally as well as symbolically haunted by the slaughter of the masses, and many characters express outrage at the inhumanly powerful forces that shoved such a Change down humanity's throat. Even knowing the ecological and societal benefits, they'd cheerfully strangle the gods' throats for such a genocidal crime.

And Greer advocates for such? I'll be over here with the 'degenerate' technists, thank you.

Catfish N. Cod said...

donzelion, thanks for your perspective on the Saudis and also for your insight on how deeply people are already trying to game voter registration.

Voter registration is effectively the same thing as proof of citizenship. Yet most jurisdictions treat it as either a trivial matter or else the thumbscrew by which to rule the populace -- a habit sadly inculcated by means as various as machine politics and poll taxes, ward-heeling and literacy tests. This should be the new war-cry of Democrats and all who stand for our way of life:

Count every legal vote of every legal voter -- and not a single illegal ballot!

You want a more secure ballot system? Sure! I'm all for it. Just as soon as you make sure no citizen is deprived of their voice thereby. I'm ready for a grand bargain. Voter ID, bring it on; crosschecks, registrations, all that. The minute you are willing to spend whatever it takes, go to every length, to make sure every citizen is covered, and no citizen discouraged from voting. Give me not just free voter IDs, but a well-funded team devoted solely to helping citizens obtain and present their documentation. Give me early voting, no-fault absentee voting, Election Day as a holiday. You want your high specificity, you have to give me high sensitivity. I'll trade you high ballot-box integrity for high voter participation, greater difficulty in verifying the vote for less difficulty in exercising the vote, factors that benefit Republicans for factors that benefit Democrats.

It's a rewarding, win-win deal. We get more participation, and thus more allegiance to the system. We get confidence in integrity of voting, and greater security from shadowy threats both within and without. We get new concentration on, and celebration of, the precious right to vote as a mark of citizenship. We get civic spirit -- why not have Election Day picnics and parties again, as we once did in the 19th century?

---

Oh, and by the way, locum? If you argue that the economy is ready to cull out both rural populations and urban masses as 'irrelevant' to the productive capacity of society... you do realize you're making the case for Dr. Brin's preferred Star Trek / libertarian socialism future?

LarryHart said...

A philosophical question...

Now that the Republicans have removed the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees and are about to decide that the un-filibusterable "budget reconciliation" can be used for things not having to do with the budget, what was the reason for Democrats not to do this back in 2009?

Because the usual answer is "If you do that sort of thing, then the other side will do it to you when they're in power." Well, they're doing it to us anyway. So why didn't we do it to them when we had the chance?

Doug S. said...

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.

http://www.businessinsider.com/nancy-pelosi-jon-ossoff-georgia-special-election-2017-6

There's really not much point in running a conservative when you can't convince people you're a conservative.

David S said...

LarryHart,

Why didn't the democrats do away with it when they had the chance? Because in the current phase of the civil war (to use Brin's term), the democrats don't want to be the side that shoots first. Moreover, this application of 'might makes right' just doesn't fit progressive nurturer parent morality (to use Lakoff's term).

Jumper said...

Here you are, Duncan:
http://jumpersbloghouse.blogspot.com/2009/03/solar-border.html

Of course, I wrote that some eight years ago tongue-in-cheek. The real point is to counter those who claim solar power pollutes the visual and ecological landscape. Look for places where that has already happened, and there will be no loss to happen, at least.

But like I said, if they are going to do it anyway, why not?

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

I read S.M. Stirling's "Emberverse" series for fun, a world in which outside forces impose law-of-physics changes that lead to something along the lines Greer preaches. That world is literally as well as symbolically haunted by the slaughter of the masses, and many characters express outrage at the inhumanly powerful forces that shoved such a Change down humanity's throat.


We call those inhumanly powerful forces "Republicans"

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

It's a rewarding, win-win deal. We get more participation, and thus more allegiance to the system. We get confidence in integrity of voting, and greater security from shadowy threats both within and without. We get new concentration on, and celebration of, the precious right to vote as a mark of citizenship. We get civic spirit -- why not have Election Day picnics and parties again, as we once did in the 19th century?


Homer Simpson once said of his gambling with Lisa's guidance, "And it's a victimless crime. The only victim is Moe." Likewise, your scenario is a win-win, except it is a "lose" for the Republican Party. You have only to listen to the audio clip Thom Hartmann often plays of Paul Weyrich telling a Republican audience:

"Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome — good government. They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."


This is why, while your suggestions make perfect sense, they will never happen short of a new American revolution of some sort. As long as Republicans control mechanisms of government, the goal will be to disenfranchise as many as they can get away with rather than the other way around.

LarryHart said...

David S:

Why didn't the democrats do away with it when they had the chance? Because in the current phase of the civil war (to use Brin's term), the democrats don't want to be the side that shoots first.


In hindsight, though, the choice was "shoot or be shot." And the theory that the American public would punish whichever party shot first turns out to be so much wishful thinking. The American public will reward Republicans and punish Democrats no matter who does what.

So in "Hamilton" terms, we should not have thrown away our shot.

LarryHart said...

By the way, last night on television, I heard Trump say something very close to this:

We could have the best healthcare policy in the world, and the Democrats wouldn't vote for it!"


which is wrong in so many ways. First and foremost, the equal-and-opposite is really closer to the truth. To wit:


We could have the worst healthcare policy in the world, and the Republicans will all vote for it!"


matthew said...

A great article on what is very clear to me - that Libertarians have no interest in the masses actually having any sort of power, be it political, economic, or social.

http://www.slate.com/articles/life/history/2017/06/james_mcgill_buchanan_s_terrifying_vision_of_society_is_the_intellectual.html

From an interview with Nancy MacLean, author of "Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America."

The article clearly lines out the history of Libertarian thought and shows how it has been co-opted by the far right in America. Read carefully and you'll see the seeds of my hostility toward the ideas that our resident libertarians (small "l") here. In it, she lays out the philosophical basis for why libertarians are in favor of bringing back feudalism.

Entirely germane to a bunch of the discussion here.

sociotard said...

One of my recent goals is to read the National Review a bit more for a point of view that is contrary to my own. I thought this article about the hypocrisy of the liberal calls for more diversity, especially as it applies to schools. My favorite phrase is "privilege laundering".
http://www.nationalreview.com/article/448850/liberal-elite-privilege-noblesse-oblige

David Brin said...

“David does this in spades when he argues for the ELIMINATION of feudalists, segregationists, religionists, tradcons & hicks…”

Um… what “David” are you talking about, you strawmanning liar?

You accuse us of your own traits because you haven’t a clue how positive-sum minds work. Yes, I believe YOU think that way… we do not. And it frightens you.

Likewise, Treebeard illustrates the same mental deficit! He assumes, because he thinks in zero-sum, binary terms, that we must be like what he sees in the mirror. Utter nonsense. If feudalists win, they will erase all sign of enlightenment or positive sun thinking. We have proof of this in the last 4000 years of history and in the crushing of every renaissance.

That… is… not… how… we… think. Do you honestly believe that an alliance of all the smartypants fact-users who actually know stuff and can do stuff – including now the maligned “deep state” military officers, intel and FBI professionals -- could not have long ago crushed you romantic whiners, if that had been our aim?

THE THOUGHT NEVER OCCURRED TO US! In fact, we are incapable of thinking it. And whimpering, nasty little ingrate ankle-biters know this. They absolutely count on this. Dig it fellah, you are mentally deficient and ill. You cannot comprehend how your opponents think, except that you know we are slow to anger and that (so far) you have got away with helping screech “death!” at us and all our works.

Catfish gets it. If Voter ID laws are accompanied by vigorous compliance assistance, then they are not hypocritical or immoral. Not one such law has been. Hence the creators of such laws are deeply immoral hypocrites.

Duncan Cairncross said...

RE - Voter "ID" - The well funded system ensuring that voter registration is up to date is not that far fetched - we have that here (NZ) and a lot of European countries are also well up with this

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | I don’t think anyone here is arguing for utilitarianism, but if you are super-sensitive to the subject I could understand. It is an interesting model for social interaction, but fails miserably in the experimental sense. Humans aren’t utilitarian no matter how much economists argue for it. If we were, prudence would be all that really mattered with all other concerns reducing to it. We don’t work that way, though, and no one here suggests we should. It isn’t the case that anyone is arguing it applies to others and not themselves. They aren’t even arguing that it applies.

As for the elimination of feudalists, though, I suspect at least a few of us ARE arguing to eliminate them. David is generous at times and wants them around to help remind the rest of us what can happen if we become complacent, but I don’t think they are an endangered species yet. The construction of useful criticisms for correcting errors is best served by variety, so we probably shouldn’t try too hard to wipe them out, but I’m of the opinion that the attractor is partially built into us now as a result of our turn toward agriculture several thousand years ago. There is no danger of that going away anytime soon, so I’ll cheerfully stomp feudalists into the dirt if I can.

I seriously doubt your friends are feudalists, though. American conservatives tend to ‘conserve’ what was historically a liberal position that has become tradition. If you were to take a moment to reflect upon what you believe should be, you’d find much of it comes from old-school liberalism. Set aside gender roles and some social expectations you might hold and the correlation is probably pretty good. Old-school liberal ideas have been around so long they have formed the core of many American traditions. We don’t know our own history, though, and then some of us conflate them with traditions from old faith structures and we get a mess.

My blue kepi stays on for the foreseeable future, but I will pause a moment to point out that the elimination I want doesn’t involve the people for which you care. It’s their stupid ideas I oppose. They can survive well intended criticism, though I’m sure they won’t enjoy the experience.

David Brin said...

Alfred you are WAY too generous. Yes, there are millions of conservatives who are "paleo-liberal" and just don't like to be nagged to go the next level, but actually have reduced their racism, sexism and all that.... Those millions need to be persuaded and that's the purpose of my Colonels Gambit.

But I'm afraid the feudalists truly are rising. They hate and deeply dripping acid hate more all the nerds they used to bully in Jr. High and who are doing best today. They yearn for the stratification that would give them lords to lickspittle obey and gooks to spit upon and lord-over, in turn. And women to bash into their place.

If they win, the Earth and our kids are screwed. This is less a "war" than a triage of the mentally ill. But they will make it very like a war.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Alfred Differ said...

I wonder if I can rent some of the esoteric books I've got yet. 8)

http://www.learnliberty.org/blog/why-we-cant-break-up-with-our-stuff-yet/

David Brin said...

Anyone read the GOP "health bill"? The most amazing thing? Obamacare isn't repealed! It's just tweaked a lot and every tweak is evil.


Onward

onward