Thursday, October 12, 2017

Foxes and chickens: caught in the act

Always passionate and well-spoken, Jim Wright (Stonekettle Station) is well worth visiting online. He is a living lesson in what we need, to survive this phase of civil war and go on to make starships. It's not political litmus tests, but something else that is far more important... an American penchant for pragmatic, grownup, tolerant willingness to talk things out.  Only also, to fight evil when we have no other choice.  See also his greatest hits

And for comparison?  An example of that pure evil. A genuine monster: Listen to Paula White on Jim Bakker's show.

At the opposite extreme is Betsy Rader, a congressional candidate who grew up in “hillbilly” poverty and knows what combination of grit, hard work, values, determination… and help from a decent civilization… assisted her single mom to raise 5 kids on $6000/year... with great results. 

== Caught in the act – but counting on us to do nothing ==

The same voter analytics and persuasion company that coordinated Russian, Murdochian and alt-right efforts to swing the U.S. election has been raking it in, selling their services elsewhere. Have a look. The Kenya Supreme Court nullifies presidential election - over concerns of electoral hackingNote that the data firm Cambridge Analytica, was hired by the Kenyatta campaign to do polling and data analytics.  More on this: Cambridge working in Kenya.
                           
Meanwhile, at home… Hackers prove how trivial it is to break into modern voting machines and change results, using methods already exploited by most Republican Secretaries of State, to order up any result they want… in those red states without paper receipts that can be audited.

This has led to what should be a harbinger… Virginia scrapping its touchscreen machines! Read more on this decision

The Steele Report, Revisited: How much of the infamous document ended up being corroborated elsewhere? A whole lot, it seems. No, not the "pee tape." That part is still unsubstantiated. But monthly these reports gain more verifications or credibility. This detailed and highly informative article, by a 30 year CIA veteran, reveals a lot about the current cold war that neo-czarist Russia is waging against us, far more aggressively than the old Soviet Union ever did.

Those present day confederates who now make excuses for Trump and Putin, in the face of overwhelming evidence of combined war-attacks and treason, have proved their hypocrisy. Thank God for the professionals.

== Foxes and chickens ==

Confederate apologists for Donald “Drain the Swamp” Trump explain away his appointing so many Wall Streeters to his cabinet and sub-cabinet (seven from Goldman-Sachs, alone). The excuse is: “It takes a fox to guard a henhouse.”

Sure. And billionaires have so much money, how could they ever want more? Or to do anything but serve?  

And so, we’ll start a series: “foxes and chickens”, listing how many such examples these selfless servants of the public present to us. First:

Trump has appointed as the head of Dept. of Education's anti-fraud unit, the former head of a for-profit college that had to settle a large anti-fraud case with the Department of Education.

Second, the Oklahoma Republican congressman President Trump tapped late Friday as NASA’s next administrator is one of the Denialists that the GOP have packed onto the U.S. House “Science Committee.”  Jim Bridenstone doesn’t have a formal science background. His last job before being elected to represent Oklahoma’s 1st District in 2012 was as executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium.  Ah. No wonder they are canceling almost every Earth observing satellite that might help nail down the facts.

In a provocative and persuasive essay, Brink Lindsey ponders “Why libertarians and conservatives should stop opposing the welfare state.” Instead of trying to roll back the entire welfare apparatus, he argues, libertarians and small-government conservatives should consider leaving useful benefits and sequence in longer-term reforms.

In other words use government for what we know it’s good at, recognizing a problem and acting upon it now, with cumbersome diligence. But then viewing “governmental solutions” to problems as lumbering temporary measures that should – over time – wither away, as other forces, like markets and philanthropy, deal with the root causes more organically and efficiently. This alternate version of libertarianism is closer to its founding traditions – before Rand and Rothbard and oligarchs pushed for the movement to have just one mantra: “Hate only ‘government,’ always and all the time.”

But let’s hear from Lindsey:

“Over fifty years ago, Richard Cornuelle issued a challenge to small-government supporters in his book Reclaiming the American Dream: roll back the welfare state, not by complaining about it, but by outcompeting it. Cornuelle urged libertarians and conservatives to turn their energies to what he called the “independent sector,” building new institutions and organizations in civil society to meet the public needs currently addressed by government: The independent sector will grow strong again when its leaders realize that its unique indispensable natural role in America is to compete with government,’ he argued. ‘It must be as eager as government to take on new public problems.’

“A half-century after Cornuelle wrote those words, the gap between public needs and the capacity of civil society has grown. I have concluded that this fact discloses a failure of libertarian ideas: I don’t believe it is possible for the nonprofit sector to outperform government in protecting people from certain downside risks of life in a complex, highly urbanized, individualistic society. At the very least, though, it reveals a failure of effort. I would be happy for opponents of the welfare state to prove me wrong. But first they have to try.”

Lindsey’s case can be made even stronger, and even more ironic.  Stronger by pointing out that libertarians could use one simple metric, when deciding whether to hate any government program a lot, or merely seek to compete with it: “Does this program increase the overall number of market participants who are healthy, skilled, confident, empowered and ready to compete?” 

Isn’t that what both Adam Smith and the right’s economic doyen – Friedrich Hayek – called fundamental?  The virtues of competition – e.g. consumption or investment allocation – become more wise, far-seeing and error-resistant, the larger the number of sagacious and vigorous participants!

Wisdom fails when allocation “of winners and losers” is done by ever smaller, self-referential groups. And if this is true about half a million diverse, well-trained, scrutinized and dedicated civil servants (‘bureaucrats’), then how much more so regarding a narrow, self-serving and secretive cabal of 5000 golf buddies in a largely inherited CEO caste, who appoint each other onto boards to vote themselves largesse from our corporations?

 Neither of these groups are ideal allocators. But markets can be, if well-regulated and filled with tens or hundreds of millions of persnickety and skilled competitors. At least… so sayeth Smith and Hayek.

Lots of government programs pass the "increase competition" sniff test, by raising the overall number of market participants who are healthy, skilled, confident, empowered and ready to compete.  Public health and education – for all their faults – inarguably altered the fraction of Americans capable of participating. So have most investments in infrastructure. And regulation is not always an enemy of entrepreneurship, as seen in times past when anti-trust laws were enforced. 

If an intervention increases the number of vigorous participants… or equalizes opportunity… then it is far easier for a libertarian to swallow than other, well-meaning liberal efforts to equalize outcomes.

Cornuelle’s version of libertarianism would resist  the outcomes-levelers but greet opportunity–leveling programs differently: “we will set things up so that soon, your clumsy/needed approach to solving this problem will wither away.” 

This approach would urge innovators to come up with processes to compete government’s lumbering interventions out of existence.  Barry Goldwater is said to have wanted this, long ago, proposing changes in the insurance industry that would spur companies to make their clients live longer! By rewarding clients who live safely and well. Ideally, our insurance companies could replace the paternalistic protections of the FDA, FTC, OSHA and so on. There have been recent (timid) moves in this direction, after decades of industry resistance.  

And yes, the Charter Schools movement could be viewed this way. “Yes, we needed public schools to bluntly end illiteracy and create a road upward that all could use. But everyone can see that schools could be much better. Let us try alternatives, now!” Alas, though there are shining lights, most of the charter movement (like most of libertarianism) has been wholly captured by forces of oligarchy, fundamentalism and right wing’ism. It will only achieve its potential when it shrugs off those influences.

The irony I spoke of is one that embarrasses libertarians, though it shouldn’t.  It is in that deliberately-chosen phrase “wither away.” Yes, it is a Marxist term, and it points out one of many overlaps, including the final, end-state goal of both Marxists and Libertarians… a future without coercive elites or power centers or ‘government,’ per se. An era when any individual will feel free and empowered to make alliances and pursue any project, combining talents as she or he sees fit.

This dream is a hell, in the eyes of those who cling to notions of feudal hierarchy – the beast that oppressed all of humanity for 6000+ years. The thing that would-be inheritance-oligarch-lords fear most is that liberty lovers will recognize them as the Olde Enemy. The kings, lords and owners and priests who cheated to prevent the rise of a myriad market participants who are healthy, skilled, confident, empowered and ready to compete.

Government is inherently dangerous and even when it is well-meaning, it can cloy or stifle initiative.  I am enough a libertarian to avow that!  But it is insane to screech “Hate only ‘government,’ always and all the time,” when bureaucrats did very little to crush freedom and opportunity, across 60 centuries.

  Not compared to oligarchs. Not by orders of magnitude.  And that is the one bald fact they are spending billions to ensure you’ll forget.

 == Economics & politics ==

 The Evonomics site is one of the best online. They have taken over my own formerly-quixotic quest to re-study Adam Smith. If he were alive today, Smith would not just be a Democrat, he'd be urging revolution, the way he did in 1776.  See how this economist-historian explains the "rentier" phenomenon and why Supply Side tax cuts for the rich have never, ever had the effect of stimulating investment in productive innovations or factories. 

Let me reiterate. "supply side" has never delivered on a promise. Even once. Ever.

Former GOP Senator Bob Graham about how the supervising Intelligence Committees in both the House and Senate have been allowed to slump into torpor, since he chaired investigation of the 9/11 attacks. The salient trait of this Congress - even more than hyper-reactionary partisanship - is its stunning laziness.

According to some estimates there will be 20 million people moving to Texas by 2050. And many from California will be conservatives upset by not only how Democratic the Golden State has become, but also – face it – by how successful, well-governed and delusion free California is doing.   Many of these grumpy, disappointed conservatives will be making the move across with the help of a company called Conservative Move whose tag line is "Helping families move Right."

But that brings up an interesting point. Ever since W.E.B. DuBois, there has been talk of drumming up a movement for African Americans to move to Mississippi or South Carolina where, IIRC, it might take only a couple of hundred thousand to stage a voter-uprising and transform one or both states!  Someone do the research and report back here, under comments?

Steve Bannon may be slightly less powerful now.  But meet Vladimir Putin’s chief ideologist, Alexander Dugin,  Bannon’s Kremlin counterpart, extolling love of Donald Trump as gushingly as Bannon kvells on Putin.

Meanwhile, the U.S. does nothing while Putin rebuilds the Soviet Union.

All these guys are heavily vested in “cyclical history” and the need for Traditionalism… which of course translates as restoration of Feudalism, with Bannon’s and Dugin’s lords creating dynasties.  Read about how explicitly and fiercely they intend to end the Western Enlightenment.

== The romantic fixation on (nonexistent) "cycles" ==

Aw heck, in hope that this topic will go away at last, more on Bannon: In his favorite book: "The Fourth Turning: What Cycles of History Tell Us About America's Next Rendezvous with Destiny," William Strauss and Neil Howe theorize that the history of a people moves in 80-to-100 year cycles called "saecula." The idea goes back to the ancient Greeks, who believed that at a given saeculum's end, there would come "ekpyrosis," a cataclysmic event that destroys the old order and brings in a new one in a trial of fire.

“Bannon's obsession with this book should cause concern. He believes that, for the new world order to rise, there must be a massive reckoning. That we will soon reach our climax conflict. In the White House, he has shown that he is willing to advise Trump to enact policies that will disrupt our current order to bring about what he perceives as a necessary new one. He encourages breaking down political and economic alliances and turning away from traditional American principles to cause chaos.”

Finally. Rick Ellrod offers an interesting rumination on what a number of science fiction authors have said about the basis of civilization. Ellrod reminds me that the following has been the coda on my main web page for longer than I can remember. Almost as long as there has been a World Wide Web:

Ironies abound. The left is suspicious of "competition" and the right hates the word "regulation."  Yet it is by calm, reasonable Regulated Competition that this civilization has given us so much.  A flattened, diamond shaped social order so much fairer and more productive than all the old pyramids of privilege of the past, when cheaters always, always wrecked the fecundity of competitive creativity. 

Cooperation is not the opposite of competition!  We must cooperate - form just and open governments - in order to prevent cheating and spread opportunity... and then fantastically creative competition can ensue.

100 comments:

Antonym said...

How much money would be necessary to help fund the wholesale migration of African-American communities from Alabama into Mississippi? From South Carolina into Georgia? Such a migration would electorally overwhelm MS and GA, turning them into Blue States with Minority Majorities.
AtomicZeppelinMan

Zepp Jamieson said...

"The Russian Thing" is being largely ignored by the mainstream media, either for ideological reasons, or because it involves lots of different people with multi-syllablic names accused of crimes that are sometimes hard to explain, and that doesn't sell luxury cars and adult diapers.
Fortunately, Rachel Maddow is pursuing the story--which is likely to take down Trump, Pence, and a fair number of other ranking Republicans. It is THE most important political story of our era.
If you don't get MSNBC, her show is available at msnbc.com. I recommend it.

LarryHart said...

reposted from beyond last post's "onward"

donzelion:

But you're quite right about American barbarity toward our own Native Americans, barbarism equalled only by our treatment of African-Americans. We have dirty hands. We clean them, sometimes with great difficulty, and try to do better.


That's what's so insidious about the whole Trump phenomenon. He's empowering those who want to say "What dirty hands? We've never had dirty hands!!! Nothing to clean here!"


"The British Empire was nearly as bad - but not as self righteous"
I am not so sure. 'The white man's burden'? Yet perhaps we're all obtuse toward our own hypocrisies.


The "White Man's Burden" thing, while arrogant and dated in its racism, at least was a call to use one's powers for good rather than evil. It's certainly not what Hitler would have admonished.

It's similar to the present day admonition to those who enjoy white privilege to at least use it to good purpose.

Berial said...

Another website that has a lot of interesting economic talk is NakedCapitalism.com.

FREX: How Economists Turned Corporations into Predators talks about how the whole idea that 'Businesses exist to enrich shareholders' is ruining business and maybe even capitalism itself. I find the comments section there to be as good as the the original posts too, which, lets face it, is rare these days on the internet.

Paul451 said...

Berial,
" 'How Economists Turned Corporations into Predators' talks about how the whole idea that 'Businesses exist to enrich shareholders' is ruining business and maybe even capitalism itself. "

It wasn't "economists". And certainly not "Since the 1980s" as stated in the article.

It goes back to the Dodge v. Ford decision, which ruled that Henry Ford had to run Ford in the interests of his shareholders (in this case the Dodge brothers) and not the customers or employees.

The Dodge bros wanted Ford to reduce wages and raise prices, and pay them a larger dividend. Ford believed (correctly) that they wanted to undermine FMC while at the same creating a rival business. He refused. They sued. He lost.

[The decision isn't often upheld legally, but it served to create the modern corporate culture of shareholder primacy.]

David Brin said...

Atomic ZepMan. An alternative would be to create retirement communities in Alabama that are attractive to black seniors.

I agree that Maddow is the most thorough journalist in America. Indeed, a dozen of her shows I've seen are so thorough, you can pay your uncle to watch one and bet whether it will change him. You'd get your money back in winnings.

Antonym said...

@Zepp Jamieson

My current theory is that dirty Russian money is more than enough to explain Trump's Putin-love, but does not fully explain the general weakness of the GOP to the Russkies. I think it is Gay Sex. Lots and lots of GOP on Russian controlled male prostitute sexy times. The Republican Party is riddled with self-hating closeted homosexuals ripe for blackmail. Especially Miss Mitch McConnell.

-AtomicZeppelinMan

David Brin said...

AZM is completely on target. The so-called "pee tape" is (excuse me) the tip of the iceberg. I will bet you that blackmail is extensive and huge and a driver of much that we see.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I think the true aphrodaisiac for Republican congressionals is power. They are more than willing to take any risk and sacrifice the name of power.
The moral and ethical corruption just follows, rabid rats after a Lied Leper.

Tim H. said...

Heard a Russian ex-pat on the radio suggesting Putin's interest in meddling with U.S. elections was to destroy their value as a good example to contrast with those in the Russian Federation.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Anonymous Tim H. said...

Heard a Russian ex-pat on the radio suggesting Putin's interest in meddling with U.S. elections was to destroy their value as a good example to contrast with those in the Russian Federation.

I certainly wouldn't rule that out. The 2016 did land a blow to the credibility of the American election system. But Putin could have saved a lot of time and effort by having his propaganda machine, which is about all Russians ever hear, tell them the US election was chaotic, confused, and with results that were completely untrustworthy.

No, that game wasn't played for the benefit of the Russian people. It was designed to get the American people to vote in large numbers for Putin's pet monster. Trump will do far more damage to America than Putin could dream of.

However, even Putin is beginning to realize his monster is out of control.

The chaos, confusion, and divisiveness of the election is just lagniappe, of course.

Alfred Differ said...

@Tim H | Yah. I've heard that from a few directions now. I suspect he got more than he thought he'd get, though. In the end, I think it is going to cost him pretty big. If so, those costs will begin to land after about 2020. The Russians are better off with our attention diverted AWAY from them.

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp | And so the obvious thing happened...

Yah. Losers learn from the pain. Don't think we haven't learned how to fight back against asymmetric war, though. Vietnam was very painful for us. The drones are just the tip of the spear.

Over paid, over sexed, and over here.

Heh. I've got a funny story to match yours. My mother was born in late '39 and raised in London. She was rather feral while she was young and couldn't imagine marrying any of the guys around her when she got to that age. Instead, she latched onto an American airman and married him. I'm her first born. There certainly were a number of her peers who found the swagger very crass. Of course it was. It was also attractive to many of the young women. I can't imagine that felt good to the local male egos.

Barbarians can be kinda sexy. Especially so when they win. Doubly so when they aren't lost in an emotional funk. Her stories made it sound like the guys around her was all thinking like losers... except the Americans who couldn't seem to wrap their minds around that idea.


As for our Pax, no one is asking you to like it or us. It just is what it is. I'm willing to give the British a lot more credit for it than David might, but mostly as the cousin from which we learned and we still need around to help us keep our barbarian nature in check. I was watching some BBC thing on TV after 9/11 happened. They had a local 'Expert on Americans' on a show and were asking him what we'd do next. He explained we were about to go batsh*t crazy, do some potentially stupid and hostile things, and that we'd need them at our side to pull us back from the brink occasionally. Yah. That sounded about right even as the blood was pounding him my head at the time.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred: Short of universal mind control, no military power is going to win asymmetrical wars. Yes, the American military arsenal is innovative and flexible, but there's the old saying: Build a better lock, and they build a better locksmith.
Did your Mom continue to live with her husband in London for a while after they married, or did they go stateside straightaway? And yes, she put her finger on one cause od friction between Brits and the visiting Yanks--possibly the main cause.
If I believed in the American Pax, I would approve of it very strongly. I've mentioned the Marshall Plan and other moments of American greatness before.
I remember the day after 9/11, I was walking the dog downtown to get a newspaper, and a pickup came racing past on the highway, flying a flag that had to be twelve feet long. That's when I felt my first sense of foreboding. It was reinforced when I took the bus to work. I was chatting with the driver, and he wanted to drop a nuke on Baghdad in retaliation. When I suggested we should wait to see who was behind the attacks, he called me a coward.

Berial said...

I remember when I no longer wanted to listen to Paul Harvey's "the rest of the story" was when he started interjecting bits about using "the lifesaver bomb". I still get the heebie-jeebies when I remember that man asking us to kill whole cities of people, "to save lives".

LarryHart said...

@Berial,

I think Paul Harvey was going senile there toward the end. His rant about how it wasn't so bad to give smallpox to the Indians did it for me, but even so, I couldn't help but notice that he seemed to forget there was an audience listening.

LarryHart said...

From today's www.electoral-vote.com (emphasis mine) :


And there is the rub. Trump feels no sense of duty to these Americans as their president. And because they can offer him nothing—no votes, and there isn't going to be a Trump Tower San Jose, or a Trump Golf Course de Bayamón—he has no use for them either. He doesn't even particularly care that everyone knows it. The difference between the President's response to Puerto Rico, and his responses to Texas, Louisiana, and Florida—places that have many Trump voters—make clear under what circumstances he is roused to action, and what circumstances he is not. The people of Illinois, who have also mismanaged their finances, and who gave their electoral votes to Hillary Clinton, better hope they don't have a disaster in the next three years.


That was exactly what I was afraid of from a possible Chris Christie administration. Instead, we got something worse.

Tim H. said...

Berial, I missed that particular one, but read about that brutal math in Churchill's WW2 history, the expected butcher's bill for the invasion of Japan was 100,000 allied casualties and 4,000,000 Japanese. Better yet if the leadership hadn't wished to fight to the last civilian, but the pentagon went nearly forty years without needing to order new Purple Heart medals.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Dr. Brin (from previous thread): As usual, Alfred is sharp, but it’s Catfish who sees through layers and layers. I’d like to meet you someday, fellah.

As would I. JoCo 2018 is departing San Diego on February 18th, returning on the 25th. Even if you're unable to take a weeklong excursion, I'll be in town those weekends.

And to everyone, messages to catfishncod@yahoo.com will find their way to me.

------------
I feel more and more that Bannon's "Fourth Turning" bit is a ruse. I mean, he likes the specific prediction he has, but if he really believed the entire theory, he would trying like hell to engage and unify the Millennial generation. The theory also predicts that these bright Civically-minded, cooperative-engaged young adults would be the mass energy, drive, muscle and spirit of both a new revolution in American society and the implementing force and construction gang of the next American order. According to the theory, the movement that combines an old, venerated Gray Champion preaching the ideals of the next order with a strong youth movement that captures the imagination of a generation will be the definers of the American spirit for the next several decades.

Now, does that sound like Steve Bannon, with his neo-Nazis in suits and ties, encouraging fire and division and the destruction of the old order? Or more like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, talking up the structures of an America that delivers on the promises being violated so flagrantly across the nation?

The Civics identified by the theory were the youths who were taught to march by von Steuben, who built the new governments under Washington and Jefferson, who went out to "tame the wilderness" (not to mention Native Americans) and found new states; the Union boys who fought the Civil War and then built the West and the industrial cities; and the GIs that built the New Deal structures, fought the Nazis, and built the modern America. If Bannon really believed, he would not be blathering past-weighted visions of the America the elders think they remember; he would be describing the new America the youth of America have a reason to build.

Instead he is acting like the Southern senators did in 1860 (and most elders in most societies do): talking up why parts of the old order should burn in favor of an order even more to the elders' liking, and why youth should suffer to make the elders' vision (and benefits) even better.

He may want his Fourth Turning, but the theory also predicts a First Turning, where the kids are empowered and in charge and can order society as they like. He seems not to care that the grand majority of the kids don't want what he's selling. This is Baby Boomers flat-out attempting tyranny over their own children and grandchildren, and we increasingly know it.

David Brin said...

As usual, Zepp based his horror at American jingoism on an anecdote. While he and I agree on many overall political positions, I think it's vital to note how he uses mental processes almost identical to our friends on the far right.

raito said...

Dr. Brin,

The last report on charter schools in Milwaukee showed that there was no improvement at all in the test scores of those students. After, of course, being promised how taking money away from public schools via vouchers would make better students. I'm not surprised.

It's also an example of how the rich (at least here) don't much mind if a few of 'those people' get some advantage (but not too much) as long as they get theirs. As long as the rich can send their offspring to private school and not have to pay for public school, they're willing to have a few poor people do the same.

While I'm not opposed to charter schools and private schools per-se, I certainly don't like the current incarnations.

Alfred Differ,

At some point, I read that the average age of the US GI in WWII was 26. So they had, on average, been old enough during the Great Depression to understand what was going on. And so they'd already had to do a lot of rough living. Hard to 'jerry-rig' a piece of equipment if you haven't been having to do that your whole life.

David Brin said...

raito I agree that charters are a great example of a decently plausible libertarian notion being hijacked for the purposes of people with bad motives.

matthew said...

I was involved with an attempt to start a local charter school about 10 years ago. We wanted a Spanish-Immersion charter in my local jurisdiction. We did not get the school, but the local school board added two more public Spanish-Immersion elementary schools to the district, so I take it as a win.

One of my daughters attended 3 years of Spanish preschool, six years of Spanish elementary school, and now studies Japanese at our local International Baccalaureate High School. She also did a year of Mandarin, but decided that Japanese was more fun (anime figuring into her calculation, I think).

Anyway, Charter schools can be a force for good, sometimes. A lever with which to budge a bureaucracy.

They can also be used to destroy the local public schools and enrich those that control the charter, it is clear.

As with many things, your results may vary.

occam's comic said...

the scam in charter schools is to have a for profit real estate holding company that owns the school. The non profit charter school pays the teachers as low as possible to fill the position (qualifications are negotiable), minimal supplies for the kids but an excessive amount for renting the building from the property holding company.

donzelion said...

"Ideally, our insurance companies could replace the paternalistic protections of the FDA, FTC, OSHA and so on."

Hmmm...perhaps if insurance companies didn't tend to get owned in turn by corners of the parties they would ostensibly regulate...

The problem of insurance has long been 'bad faith.' The actuarial processes of a properly functioning insurance company are steady, reliable, mathematical; however, the same actuarial processes can be used to honor contracts or to identify targets for strategically breaching contracts - the ideal targets of 'bad faith.' The free market rewards profits; the precise mechanism for realizing profits is often unknown.

In the free market, 'imperfect knowledge' is the norm: the only way to shrug aside the risk of 'bad faith' is to pretend 'rational actors with perfect knowledge' will refuse to buy policies from 'known bad actors' with severe reputation flaws. In reality, reputations are malleable. Firms change names and identities, get bought and sold, reputations stick only when made to stick, brands are recast and repurposed.

American libertarians would do well to ask why they no longer push to privatize the military and replace it with mercenaries. In certain fields, we have a strong imperative to remove profit incentives from calculating how those fields operate - they render services that are not about profits - and the purposes are served best by a professional core, a group devoted to the purposes of the entity they represent, rather than any set of private purposes.

That said, OSHA, FTC, etc. often work best through influence over insurers, rather than actually being insurers. There has always been a close link (no accident that the insurers often hire regulators); there is no reason to pretend it's existence away, but only to measure it and understand why.

S Jensen said...

If Atomic Zepplin Man and Dr. Brin are correct about blackmail, wouldn't it be intersting to run the pictures of our glorius leaders through that new facial recognitian program developed at Stanford that claims to be able to predict a person's sexual preference

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "That's what's so insidious about the whole Trump phenomenon. He's empowering those who want to say "What dirty hands? We've never had dirty hands!!! Nothing to clean here!"

Concur. Hillary's emails are a scam worth hammering on for years; Jared's are not. If it's only a scam when the other side does it, then something worse than scams is occurring.

"The "White Man's Burden" thing, while arrogant and dated in its racism, at least was a call to use one's powers for good rather than evil. It's certainly not what Hitler would have admonished."
I'm skeptical that it can work that way. For all the barbarity in the American treatment of natives, the 'good intentions' of some well-meaning souls can be even more fatal. Consider the well-meaning missionaries who concentrated native populations to minister to their needs (esp. Catholic missions in California) - more benevolent than the armed rancheros who merely sought serfs/slaves - but so many of them died as a result.

The 'White Man's Burden' justified use of power 'for the good of the governed' - subjecting them to occasional famine, etc. as was needed to 'uplift' them (but really, most often, to realize profits from them). What is always needed is for the governed to erect professional cadres to look after their own good.

Treebeard said...

The price of progress is killing off millions of regressive barbarians, eradicating their tribes, erasing their old identities and absorbing them into the Empire of Good. We can't have any evil "Traditionalists" around threatening our upward march toward the stars, now can we? Do you think your comfortable liberal existence could have come into being without mass bloodshed and destruction? Do you think the Federation will be built without the Atomic Horror? Ordo ab Chao, Novus Ordo Seclorum and Hail America, the Great Satan, dudes.

matthew said...

I'm enough of a barbarian to say "Fuck off you fucking fascist asshole, Ent!"

Treebeard said...

That's nice, but who are the fascists, the Federationists with an ideology mandating perpetual war against all regressive elements, or Traditionalist tribes who just want to be left alone?

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Traditionalist tribes who just want to be left alone? "

Would that be the plutocrats who want to leave us alone by dragging us back to the 1920s, or the "Christian" disgraces who want to impose their version of Sharia Law?

Anonymous said...

Well treebeard, I think you know
You never count the dead when god is on your side.
Especially if you atheist who worships the god of progress.

matthew said...

No, you don't get to try and redefine terms here. You're the one glorifying bloodshed and destruction. You are the one embracing pure evil, you fucking piece of shit. You're the one calling for gassing gays and driving out the non-Aryans. Evil.

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

who are the fascists, the Federationists with an ideology mandating perpetual war against all regressive elements, or Traditionalist tribes who just want to be left alone?


When "just want to be left alone" means "The commons which belongs to all Americans is really my tribe's private property, so all the rest of you get off or we'll kill you and not in at all nice ways," then those are the fascists.

A clue is that the fascists drool over Hitler and Putin. Who does that remind you of?

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp | Short of universal mind control

Nah. You are neglecting the old stand-bys. Genocide and cultural annihilation. I’m not advocating for them, of course, but asymmetric war CAN be won if one is willing to be barbaric enough. The English were well along that path with the Welsh. There are countless other examples, so no one gets off the moral hook. There isn’t much a new ‘locksmith’ is going to do when the children don’t speak the old language or know their history. Barbarians understand this tactic even if they don’t use it very often. Our version is a kinder-gentler version called ‘assimilation.’

My mother left immediately. I was born nine months after the wedding out in the Arizona desert. When David talks about the best and brightest leaving US rural towns for our big cities, educations, and jobs, I think of my mother doing something similar. She had it all planned out. If my father had not chosen to marry her, she would have emigrated anyway. He made it a whole lot easier for her to do it and she liked him too. Bonus.

If I believed in the American Pax

What is there to ‘believe’? Ditch any of our claims to be doing it from high minded ideals. We do it for a number of reasons including brute prudence. Ditch the understandable annoyance at our crass behavior in singing our own praises. Understand that we are still barbarians and are likely to be so through this entire century. Look at the evidence and understand that being barbarians isn’t all negative. Barbarians build as well as rape and pillage and burn. Often, we do all of the above at the same time, but we aren’t as bad as our predecessors. Really. Look at the numbers. We’ve helped crush the forces that would have taken us all back to the old attractor, stolen their women, and built monuments to our courage and genius on top of their corpses.

he called me a coward

Yah. I remember people doing that. It was mostly displaced aggression. We wanted to hit someone and couldn’t find a ready target. Paul SB will know the correct name for the behavior when a male baboon is stressed and takes it out on his inferior. A lot of human males do it too. I suspect some of our women do it too, but I try not to think about that too much.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

I remember the day after 9/11, I was walking the dog downtown to get a newspaper, and a pickup came racing past on the highway, flying a flag that had to be twelve feet long. That's when I felt my first sense of foreboding. It was reinforced when I took the bus to work. I was chatting with the driver, and he wanted to drop a nuke on Baghdad in retaliation. When I suggested we should wait to see who was behind the attacks, he called me a coward.


Alfred Differ:

Yah. I remember people doing that. It was mostly displaced aggression. We wanted to hit someone and couldn’t find a ready target.


This is similar to the reaction many have to heinous domestic crimes. To me, the more serious the crime, the more important it is to condemn the actual perpetrator. But to a significant portion of the population, the more heinous the crime, the more important it is not to let the niceties of due process stand in the way of punishing a suspect, whether he actually committed the crime or not.

Once again, Donald Trump encourages that second way of "thinking".

donzelion said...

Paul451: "It goes back to the Dodge v. Ford decision, which ruled that Henry Ford had to run Ford in the interests of his shareholders (in this case the Dodge brothers) and not the customers or employees."

We've discussed Dodge v. Ford; it's a 'loss/win' for Ford. Yes, they had to pay dividends to the Dodge brothers (Ford lost). But the court reiterated 'the old rule' that decisions on dividends remain for the Board alone - so long as those decisions are an exercise of 'business judgment' - rather than 'some other judgment' (Ford 'won,' and this is the much more important point).

I'd recommend looking over the case in detail - here's one link, there are many others - https://h2o.law.harvard.edu/cases/3965

The view that Ford compels directors to strictly seek profits misreads this text:

"The difference between an incidental humanitarian expenditure of corporate funds for the benefit of the employees, like the building of a hospital for their use and the employment of agencies for the betterment of their condition, and a general purpose and plan to benefit mankind at the expense of others, is obvious...A business corporation is organized and carried on primarily for the profit of the stockholders. The powers of the directors are to be employed for that end. " [emph. added]

Context in the decision and surrounding it clarifies the actual meaning. Ford Co. amassed immense cash, and paid it out in various forms (sometimes as 'wages' - actually 'bonuses' - sometimes as rebates/price cuts). Ford lacked any clear 'business justification' for how it did so and could not actually claim that these ends were a 'business' plan or policy, since Ford's actual purpose had always been to deprive the Dodge Bros of dividends (an illegal act) (or, in the case of 'bonuses,' to prevent unionization and cheat employees - also illegal).

Lacking any true 'business purpose,' Ford cited generalized 'humanitarian purposes' their policies served - like price cuts, wage hikes, and investments in new plants. However, Ford couldn't show any 'business' purpose for these expenditures of that cash - largely because they'd never bothered to justify what they did when they sought to deprive the Dodge's of dividends (or more often, to deprive employees of wages despite the so-called wage hikes).

"The decision isn't often upheld legally, but it served to create the modern corporate culture of shareholder primacy."
It's not that it isn't 'upheld'; it's just hard to prove a company failed to apply 'business judgment.' Ford hadn't realized the need to justify their decisions and hadn't bothered; others have (Apple generally deprived its shareholders of dividends until 2012, as do most tech firms - it's not hard to do). Normally these days you need to show that company directors pursued deliberate fraud (or some fraud-like conduct) before courts will question the 'business judgment' of a corporation (not easy, but it does happen).

That's probably how things should be - businesses are best left to make their own choices, so long as their choices are not intended to harm others.

Zepp Jamieson said...

There are still people who believe Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, and even the ones who believe it was Osama bin Ladin use it to justify the occupation of Afghanistan. (Of the 19 who conducted the attacks, 15 were from Saudi Arabia, and four were from Egypt. Neither Hussein nor the Taliban played any role whatever in the attacks.

And with the driver, I did recognize it for what it was. I didn't make a beef of it.

Trump was reciting a list of crimes Iran supposedly committed today. None of them have solid supporting evidence, and some of the claims are false on the face of it.

donzelion said...

Paul451: Ugh, that was too long a post! Sorry, but I haven't found a simple way of clarifying the misuse of Ford by certain critics of corporations. There are reasons why law takes a long time to study...

Alfred: If I believed in the American Pax

"What is there to ‘believe’? ... Really. Look at the numbers. We’ve helped crush the forces that would have taken us all back to the old attractor, stolen their women, and built monuments to our courage and genius on top of their corpses."

Well said.

LarryHart said...

donzelion quoting the Dodge vs Ford case:

...and a general purpose and plan to benefit mankind at the expense of others,...


I'm curious as to who the "others" would be. :)

occam's comic said...

With all the Harvey Weinstein stories out this week, I would like to point out whole lot of men added and abided his harassment, assault, and rape of women in the work place over the last 30 years. If even a few men would have come forward and called him out publicly many of his crimes could have been stopped.

If you are a man and a decent human being don't be silent. If someone starts talking about how awesome it would be harass women in the workplace, even in a joking manor call him out as the asshole he is. Make it known that shit isn't funny and its not acceptable.

LarryHart said...

occam's comic:

Make it known that shit isn't funny and its not acceptable.


And for God's sake, don't vote it into the White House.

LarryHart said...

occam's comic:

If you are a man and a decent human being don't be silent. If someone starts talking about how awesome it would be harass women in the workplace, even in a joking manor call him out as the asshole he is.


Hey, I like to admire beautiful women in the workplace (or any place), and I'm deathly afraid that my fellow liberals therefore consider me to be the equivalent of Weinstein or Bill Cosby, and no better than Donald Trump.

The thing is, when a woman notices me giving her an admiring glance, the response I hope for is that she's feels pleasantly complimented. I have absolutely no desire for her to feel threatened or creeped out. Which saves me in my own estimation, but others? I might actually be some sort of supervillain.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "...and a general purpose and plan to benefit mankind at the expense of others,..."

LOL, indeed, we know the 'others' referred to were the minority shareholders; the court wasn't very interested in anyone else (after all, they weren't bringing a claim before it). Paul451's reading of Ford is hardly baseless; it's just a misapplication of one sentence to mean more than it says in context.

The misreading of Ford as standing for the proposition "corporations must maximize profits to the exclusion of all other considerations" (and thereby, may screw their employees or the general public) is akin to those who misread 'survival of the fittest' as meaning 'the physically fit must beat up weaklings and stop them from breeding.' The view has plenty of evidence to support it, there's actually many who believe it - but those who do have fallen into error.

Correcting these errors takes time and effort...how many decades will it take to convince most Christians that the theory of evolution describes factual processes (and does so with impressive robustness) - and is not merely a pretext for the strong to abuse the 'weak and powerless'? We moralize what we do not understand...particularly when we choose to judge/despise rather than understand.

Rob said...

"...businesses are best left to make their own choices, so long as their choices are not intended to harm others."

Man, that's a loophole a mile wide. "Yeah, we dumped hazardous waste into the Ohio River, but we did it to save money on disposal; we didn't intend to hurt anyone."

David Brin said...

Without intending to, Treebeard illustrates the desperate corner that the nostalgio-fascist romantics find themselves in. Parse his recent, blissfully brief screech. It consists of howling: “You liberals want to do to us all the repressive, suppressive murderous things that are central to MY side’s themes and actions. I know that it would hurt you to accuse you of actions that are crimes by liberal standards. So I will scream such accusations, without a scintilla of substance.”

yeep.

Occam, we must pounce on the Cosbys and Weinsteins and crush them. But in way-deep background, we can remember that top lords always exercised those “rights” across 99% of human existence and inheriting such temptations is to be expected, even if acting on them can, must and will be savagely exorcized. We are not slaves to our genetic history. It is the hand we’re dealt but we can and must draw better cards and stop playing evil games. Indeed, rising above them... and holding other males to higher standards, and helping our sisters to stand proudly... these are among the many tests of whether we are real men.

locumranch said...


An excellent example of double-think, to condemn "The White Man's Burden thing (as) arrogant and dated in its racism" (a social privilege to be despised & eradicated) while validating it in terms of UPLIFT, "a call to use one's powers for good rather than evil", and a social responsibility to be encouraged & celebrated.

That said, let's talk about so-called 'burdens' of other identity groups, as in the case of the Western Female, the Minority Male. the Progressive & the Conservative:

(1) Being 'liberated', the Western Female has neither 'burden' nor responsibility to others, accepting only those that said female chooses for herself, as it would be both sexually oppressive & misogynist for any other identity group to enforce its own arbitrary expectations upon the liberated female, even though said liberated female feels free expect, demand AND receive provisioning, protection & security for all other identity groups;

(2) The Minority Male, while burdened by the unilateral & rather arbitrary expectations of the Western Female (listed above), has no such burden or responsibility to the historically oppressive White Man, so much so that it would be both arrogant & racist for the White Male to expect even a modicum of gratitude, common civility or forgiveness for accepting his historical burden's "call to use one's powers for good rather than evil";

(3) The Progressive, in an act of supreme moral arrogance verging on 'whiteness', whose burden is the enforcement of its own arbitrary expectations upon All-of-Humanity for "its own good", but not upon certain protected gender & minority groups because that would be unacceptably oppressive, sexist & racist; and

(4) The Conservative whose burden, as defined by three preceding female, minority & progressive identity groups, is to live up to the arbitrary expectations of the female, minority & progressive identity groups and to become a gracious loser who accepts demographic replacement in the interests of his self-identified betters.

It is to laugh.

It makes me wonder if David's UPLIFTED dolphin & animal descendants would welcome him as a 'liberator' (as Bush & Cheney expected in Iraq) or would condemn him as the most despicable human racist & specist in the history of the Universe, only to demand his demographic replacement in the interests of those identity groups that it was his burden to improve.


Best
______
Proving Postulate (1), poor Occam & LarryH are burdened fools who expect to be 'greeted as liberators' because they are so brave as to defend women (correction, 'LIBERATED women') from past prime predators like Harvey Weinstein, even though the Hollywood casting couch has always been & will always be there, being a feature rather than a bug.

Put down those burdens, White Males: "You have nothing to lose but your chains!”

Paul451 said...

Donzelion,
No need to apologise for your post, it was actually a pretty good length, even when I'm in a short-attention-span mood, which I am at the moment.

My point, however, wasn't to emphasise the legality of the case (that was what I meant by my last line), but the cultural impact on business.

--

Occam,
" If someone starts talking about how awesome it would be harass women in the workplace, even in a joking manor call him out as the asshole he is. Make it known that shit isn't funny and its not acceptable."

The problem is that the worst offenders are the ones who set the culture, within their social group, of who is known to be "cool". Not in the '50s sense, but in the sense of being trustworthy if you "act yourself". (Eg, the defence of Trump's "locker room talk".) Fail to laugh at their jokes and you become known as a humourless drone. It only takes a couple of ostracisations before even guys who are uncomfortable with the loud creeps go along with it, laugh along with it, in order to stay inside the group.

You see Loco attempting this ostracising all the time, regurgitating the right-wing memes about the feminisation (and therefore weakening) of men. It's meant to separate out men who don't rape as somehow "not real men".

Personally, I find a self-interest version of the rant works better. Essentially, "It's pricks like this who make it more difficult for guys like me to get laid. Getting constantly, endlessly harassed makes women defensive and suspicious, and they take that out on guys like me." Partly because I can throw in plenty of self-depreciating asides that show I have a sense of humour, as well as insulting the creeper in a men-jokingly-insulting-each-other tone, that can get the group laughing along with me. If I get it right, I out-"black humour" the creeper.

Rob said...

"The thing is, when a woman notices me giving her an admiring glance, the response I hope for is that she's feels pleasantly complimented. I have absolutely no desire for her to feel threatened or creeped out."

It's not about what your desire is. It's about how she feels about it. Don't give "admiring glances." Just give "glances." Do the "admiring" some other time.

Rob said...

"...how many decades will it take to convince most Christians that the theory of evolution describes factual processes (and does so with impressive robustness) - and is not merely a pretext for the strong to abuse the 'weak and powerless'?"

For "most Christians," none. I believe "most Christians" accept the findings of scientific study and can accept the coexistence of Evolution and Christian belief, just as Darwin himself did. The problem is that vocal, powerful minority of so-called "Christians" (fully deserving of scare quotes) who deny the validity of science and insist on the campfire fantasies of Bronze Age Middle Eastern shepherds being the irrefutable truth of how the world works. For those people, no amount of rational argument is going to change their minds because they are fundamentally (hah!) irrational people most of whom are only "Christian" insofar as it works in their favor in acquisition of power and influence. All we can do is either kill them, round them up and contain them, or wait until they all die off naturally and do our best to prevent their children from being brainwashed into the same irrationality.

Sadly, I think Mother Nature will succeed at option 1 long before option 3 can be accomplished.

Rob said...

"There are still people who believe Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11"

There are still people who believe 9/11 was a "false flag" operation carried out by the Federal Government. They're all loony.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

That's probably how things should be - businesses are best left to make their own choices, so long as their choices are not intended to harm others.


I'm not sure intent is the deciding factor there. The important thing is whether they do harm others. Intent matters to some extent--the difference between murder and negligent homicide--but unintended harm is still harm. As Neil Gaiman put it in "Sandman", Intent and outcome are rarely coincident.

Rob:

There are still people who believe 9/11 was a "false flag" operation carried out by the Federal Government. They're all loony.


Yes, but they vote and we don't. That's a YUGE problem.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"...how many decades will it take to convince most Christians that the theory of evolution describes factual processes..."

A very large majority of Christians already do. Acceptance of evolution as a valid description of life is standard doctrine in the Catholic, Episcopal, and Unitarian Churches, and that right there is about 65% of Christianity world wide.

The bigoted windbags who are a political party posing as a religion (i.e. the GOP) aren't very influncial outside of the US, and mostly the south at that.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"They're all loony."

Oh, yes. I know one guy who firmly believes it was da Joos whut dun it, and clings desperately to the long discredited story that over a thousand Jewish workers failed to show up for work at the Towers that morning.

donzelion said...

Paul451: "My point, however, wasn't to emphasise the legality of the case (that was what I meant by my last line), but the cultural impact on business."

Corps had long been 'profit-obsessed,' so that isn't really a meaningful change, but two big 'cultural' changes did indeed follow - both subtle yet important.

(1) Corporate boards increasingly recognized the need to justify their decisions, not just to promote the company for new investors, but also to protect their boards from their existing minority shareholders. A marginal increase in transparency, but many small steps...
(2) Ford reincorporated in Delaware, where they took a significantly more deferential view toward 'business judgments' - as did most of corporate America in the following decades.

Michigan, New Jersey, New York, and several other states with well-meaning progressive factions (Wilsonian progressives) tinkered with restraining corporations through their charters in that era - a call one occasionally hears today. The problems they faced were real enough - child labor, horrific workplace conditions, rampant cheating and fraud, monopolistic practices, and angry anarchists blowing stuff up - but state-based solutions focusing on enforcing corporate charters to alter the purposes of corporations failed miserably.

Progressives learned quite a bit from Wilson, but his approach toward 'moral perfection' (instill proper motives and everything follows) failed; FDR's version 2.0 replaced that with 'incentive management' tactics (e.g., rather than prohibit alcohol, regulate certain aspects of how it is sold, and remove licenses from those who violate the rules). Conservatives tend to enjoy pricking a Wilsonian scarecrow - part of their general distrust of 'eggheads' - but I suppose they're still intimidated by the 'cheerful little guy in a wheelchair.'

donzelion said...

Zepp: "A very large majority of Christians already do [believe that the theory of evolution describes factual processes]."

Globally, you're surely right. My frustration very much focuses on America. One seldom sees denialists here linger long over science (at best, they've heard of some phony 'doctor' somewhere, and cite him as 'proof' they have 'scientists on their side too'). They turn instead toward morality - if evolution ever comes up, it's a dismissive "we need to respect both sides" evasion (and a vague, "stop oppressing me with your religion!" if the matter persists).

I don't think the 'bigoted windbags' of the GOP actually represent them (maybe with a few exceptions), much less create or control their belief system - more like puppeteering. But I could be wrong; I sure was in November 2016.

"I know one guy who firmly believes it was da Joos whut dun it,"
Ah, I knew quite a few who shared that belief, but mostly outside America. Alas...

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "I'm not sure intent is the deciding factor there. The important thing is whether [corporations] do harm others."

I stand corrected. Indeed, that is the important thing.

donzelion said...

Rob: "Man, that's a loophole a mile wide. "Yeah, we dumped hazardous waste into the Ohio River, but we did it to save money on disposal; we didn't intend to hurt anyone."

As per LarryHart, I acknowledge the error.

But if the problem is one of dumping, the solution is not to de-charter a corporation, liquidate it, or take it over (Wilsonian tactics that backfired) - the better solution is to force them to pay the price and disgorge the profits. If they go bankrupt (see coal/mining companies for the biggest abuse of such tactics), try to shift those costs back on the folks who benefited from the abuses when feasible, and when that can't work, to shoulder those costs as a public - begrudgingly - and take steps to stop the next dumper.

We will never control or perfect the mind that does harm, but we have many tools available to restrain harm, and then let companies do as they will. That was my ill-written point.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Gallup shows 42% of Americans believe God created Man in his image (Rodney Dangerfield, apparently) and 31% believe that God guided the evolutionary process. For a non-Moslem country, that quite high. 19% believe evolution was simply a natural process.

The bigoted windbags of the GOP don't represent a religion; they represent a political party, and a political ideology, that is posing as a religion. It was on full display this morning when famed swindler and womaniser Donald Trump addressed the Family Values crowd.

donzelion said...

Zepp, Yeah, it's pretty grim, but 19%? Ugh.

Slate, citing Pew, puts it at a 'majority' believing in 'some form of' evolution -
http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/11/polls_americans_believe_in_evolution_less_in_creationism.html -

"The number who believed in purely secular evolution (that is, not directed by any divine power) jumped from 40 percent to a majority of 51 percent." [Pew found mostly young people drive the change.]

As for Trump, bah. If Christians like him for Gorsuch right now, their vote is cheap and easily won. "We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values!" Indeed, and the war on Christmas, and the treason against Apple Pie, and they stopped the Bowling Green massacre, and the army of hobgoblins and orcs coming from Mordor...

Zepp Jamieson said...

Planet Nine from Outer Space
https://futurism.com/nasa-press-release-says-our-solar-system-has-a-9th-planet/

LarryHart said...

Sadly, and way too late, it just occurred to me how Hillary Clinton could have turned that debate around where Trump was stalking her like a gorilla and probably knocked him out of the running right there.

She should have gestured backwards towards him lurking behind her and channeled Princess Leia with "Will someone get this walking carpet out of my way?!"

Tony Fisk said...

@Larry, possibly even better (with a ref to post Civ War sensibilities)

"Will someone get this walking carpetbagger* out of my way?"

Ah, hindsight. The Sandman's library probably has a whole wing devoted to pat comebacks that weren't thought of at the time.

*No? Then what's with the 'loan' to Puerto Rico?

Alfred Differ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...

@Treebeard: Traditionalist tribes who just want to be left alone

Ha! If that were true, I'd be inclined to leave them be. The truth-speaker, however, notes that liberalism respects SOME traditions. The real objection is to those who demand we respect them all including the ones they make up on the fly.

Real traditions aren't hard to identify. Scholars can often point to a well documented history for some of them. The ones that aren't so well documented tend to have a lot of silent support of the kind that is called common sense. Liberals tend to respect most of them, but challenge some of the stupider ones. For example, why do marriages have to occur in churches? It used to be that the later was required for them to be considered valid in the community. Why give the local priest that much power over us? We've set that one aside for those who want it and the world hasn't come to an end.

A few months before the 2016 election, I came to the realization that I had only once voted for a man for President who had divorced his wife (2012). I'm not opposed to divorce in principle, but it dawned on me that I had a dim view of it. It made me wonder what was wrong with one or the other and go looking for the evidence. That was quietly enough to discourage me from electing them. Yah. I was a quiet supporter of an old tradition, but I'd never dream of using the force of government to enforce my view on it. Liberals are like that now and then, so even when we challenge one, we might not abandon it.

Alfred Differ said...

Calling him a carpetbagger would have backfired badly. That is what she was accused of being in NY during her Senate years.

Calling him a walking carpet would have caused me to lose a few pounds in the hilarity that ensued. 8)

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Ah, hindsight. The Sandman's library probably has a whole wing devoted to pat comebacks that weren't thought of at the time."

Lucius keeps them in the Espirit d'Escalier section.

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp | Trump was reciting a list of crimes Iran supposedly committed today. None of them have solid supporting evidence, and some of the claims are false on the face of it.


Yah. Kinda obvious, huh? Anyone with two brain cells to rub together would see through him... unless of course they didn't want to see through him.

He isn't America, though, let alone our Pax. His crap is harming both, but both will survive him.

Look at what is happening at the State Dept from the career people. Look at what is happening in the DoD too. The so-called 'deep state' isn't a conspiracy concept. It's just us acting through our institutions. These things have serious amounts of inertia and a kind of robustness that comes from being impossibly complex and convoluted. No madman at the top is strong enough to turn them if they feel threatened.


There are still people who believe...

Yah. So what? Barbarians fight among themselves at times too.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred wrote: "He isn't America, though, let alone our Pax. His crap is harming both, but both will survive him."

I devoutly hope America survives him. As for the Pax, it began eroding in the sixties and was dead by the second Bush administration. I would like to see it resurrected, but I don't think it's in the cards.

Glen Filthie said...

You have no answers, Brin. This is why we hate you, this is why we kicked Hillary to the curb, and this is why we will kill you and defeat you in a civil war if you want to get stupid about it. You are as dishonest as the people you vote for. I know you are because you are too smart to have written that claptrap.

Hillary Clinton belongs in a cage. You leftists don't self police anymore. Her husband was a rapist. Maxine Waters and Stretch Pelosi together have a collective IQ in the double digits. Your candidates didn't lose because of Russian hacking, they lost because they are stupid and dishonest... just like those that vote for them. THAT is what is tearing America apart, and if your side wants to get stupid about it, then that will be why we will kill you in a civil war and beat you there too. I'm all for it, BTW - you might want to ask yourself if you are too.

And - if you don't like Trump - just wait until you see the next guy. Scream all you want about fascists and nazis...but the difference between them and Marxist thugs is purely conversational. They need to be handled the same way.

Now would be a good time for you to shut up and fly right because we are watching now. We are remembering faces, taking names and making lists too. We see you cheating and lying... and we will settle scores too if you push us to it.

Just sayin' but what happens from here on out is on you.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Calling him a carpetbagger would have backfired badly. That is what she was accused of being in NY during her Senate years.

Calling him a walking carpet would have caused me to lose a few pounds in the hilarity that ensued. 8)


I thought so too. While those of us who already detest Trump would have found humor in the extended version, the actual "Star Wars" line would have been so appropriately insulting and dismissive that it would have stuck. "Walking Carpet" might have even become his new nickname.

If a time machine is ever a real possibility, I'm not going back in time to kill Hitler. I'm going back to counsel Hillary on how to handle the debates.

LarryHart said...

an idiot said:

You leftists don't self police anymore


Uhhhh, has your side looked in a mirror lately?

Tim H. said...

Why bother with a mirror? A movie still will do, Harvey Korman signing recruits for the destruction of Rock Ridge should do nicely.

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

Displacement aggression is the term most commonly used by primatologists, so you had it right, though sometimes they use the term "redirected aggression." I'm not sure about the relative prevalence, though, not being a primatologist.

Larry,

The Idiot did say one thing that was true:

"Scream all you want about fascists and nazis...but the difference between them and Marxist thugs is purely conversational."

But like Locum's distortions, this one makes the mistake of pretending that Marxist thugs still exist, when they have pretty much been consigned to the dustbin of 20th Century history. No, the real crime against reality is a false equivalence, pretending that a few timid liberals complaining about incivility are the same thing as fascist death squads. No white guys are being rounded up and killed for for using the "N" word, but right-wing fascists kill people on a fairly regular basis, and not usually with their cars. Dr. Brin has more than often enough pointed out that PC bullying is a bad thing, but our Idiot isn't interested in acknowledging his actual words, only in forcing him and everyone else into his stereotypes. His side looks in mirrors and sees glorious White knights, God's chosen people who are perfect in all ways and incapable of any sin, while anyone who disagrees with them in even the most trivial way is a demon who must be slain by their righteous hands

Progressive people tend to have a live-and-let-live attitude toward anyone who can live with them. It is no real contradiction to want to contain the threat of those whose arrogance lead them to threaten everyone else's existence.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Glen Foxie wrote: "You leftists don't self police anymore. Her husband was a rapist."

Hmm. Haven't looked to see who's in the White House these days, I take it?

LarryHart said...

The punch line from today's "Prickly City" comic is appropriate:


"I like it when stupid people express themselves. It lets me know who they are."

LarryHart said...

Tim H:

Why bother with a mirror? A movie still will do, Harvey Korman signing recruits for the destruction of Rock Ridge should do nicely.


"You said 'rape' twice."

Tim H. said...

"Affairs of state must take precedence over affairs of state", a movie line Das SCROTUS could stand to use ;)

LarryHart said...

a different idiot tweeted:

The wonderful people of Puerto Rico, with their unmatched spirit, know how bad things were before the H's. I will always be with them!


Is that a threat?

Tim H. said...

Just an excuse to mention a movie quote Puerto Ricans will find useful "I thought I recognized your foul stench".

LarryHart said...

From today's www.electoral-vote.com , something to think about from those who think Bernie Sanders would have been the answer:

On the flip side of the "Trump has a narrow path to victory" item above is a piece Alan Greenblatt wrote for Politico entitled "Are Democrats Headed for a McGovern Redux?" He fears that the divides in the Democratic Party, coupled with their anger at Donald Trump's far-right governance, might cause them to nominate a far-left candidate. Like, say, Bernie Sanders. This, in turn, could play right into the President's hands, as he runs a Nixon-style identity-politics campaign, and scores a landslide victory in 2020.

locumranch said...


For hyper-educated smart guys, many of you enlightened progressives sure are stupid. Yes, you've 'won' in accordance with the current morally relativistic rule book of your own creation (aka 'Humanism'), but you've pissed off & pissed on the losers in the process. You natter on about 'rule obedience' while you brag about discarding the old religious objective moral code as 'unenlightened', even though it was that very same 'unenlightened' religious morality which once kept all those so-called losers in check and, now, after replacing your morally relativistic rule book with one of their own creation, they will come for you like Filthie G while you discuss the sociopolitical etymology of thuggery (It's Hindi, btw).

The pseudo-tolerant claim that "Progressive people tend to have a live-and-let-live attitude toward anyone who can live with them" has been revealed as the circumlocutions absurdity that it is, and all those losers will now return the favour & offer the progressives the very same 'live-and-let-live' deal as long as the progressive can live in accordance with neoconservative loser rules, the catch being that loser rules are still liquid, unformed & 'in process' because the enlightened progressive threw out the old religious objective moral code as 'unenlightened', leading to a Dostoevsky crisis wherein "If God does not exist (then) everything is permitted".

Rules can CHANGE if "everything is permitted' -- the rules ARE changing as we speak -- then may the imaginary flying spaghetti have merciful abstraction on your non-existent progressive souls because there is no "Best" left to wish you without rules.

Sigh.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

For hyper-educated smart guys, many of you enlightened progressives sure are stupid. Yes, you've 'won' in accordance with the current morally relativistic rule book of your own creation (aka 'Humanism'), but you've pissed off & pissed on the losers in the process


You have a perverse definition of who is "winning" these days.

George Carlin's line about American Indians comes to mind as relevant to progressives. "Just because they started off in Manhattan and wound up defending Santa Monica doesn't mean they were bad."

Zepp Jamieson said...

"This, in turn, could play right into the President's hands, as he runs a Nixon-style identity-politics campaign, and scores a landslide victory in 2020."

Yes, Democrats should continue to play it safe and stand for nothing, lest Republicans make fun of them.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"you've pissed off & pissed on the losers in the process."

Oh, look, a new title for Trump's autobiography.

Will Svetlana and Natasha get a piece of the royalties?

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

the catch being that loser rules are still liquid, unformed & 'in process' because the enlightened progressive threw out the old religious objective moral code as 'unenlightened', leading to a Dostoevsky crisis wherein "If God does not exist (then) everything is permitted".


If God does not exist, then you're essentially blaming the messengers who give you the gospel (such as it is). If God does exist, then what atheists believe doesn't change that fact.

Everything is permitted, whether God exists or not. God didn't stop the Las Vegas shooting, or any of the other hundreds of mass shootings. If your point is that we were better off when people like that were afraid of God, you might want to run that opinion by the victims of ISIS or Boko Haram or al-Quaeda. 9/11 wouldn't have happened if certain Saudis had been converted to atheism.

Larry Hart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LarryHart said...

@Zepp Jamieson,

Well, after reading further, that same article on www.electoral-vote.com pretty well demolishes the initial premise. So I should have read ahead before posting.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Well, if you jumped the gun, then I jumped the gun in response.
We're playing baseball with rat traps, it seems!

locumranch said...


Progressivism peaked around 2005 at the moment Conservatism died (upon discovering that it had nothing left to protect or conserve), leaving a game-changing power vacuum that was filled by disruptors & other destroyers. The old school conservatives are dead & gone, and progressives everywhere err in their assumption that conservatives (defined as those who are "averse to change; holding to traditional values and attitudes") still exist.

A massive reversal has occurred in the EU & US: Old School Progressives like David are the New Conservatives who attempt to protect & conserve the global status quo; and, it is those on the New Right who desire disruption, change for the sake of change, and an over-turning of the established status quo.

Every progressive once supported CHANGE but no longer. Most of us here once supported the US candidate who promised CHANGE in 2008 & 2012 -- I most certainly did -- but then that candidate betrayed the US electorate by perpetuating the status quo & delivering more of the same.

Change has arrived!! It has taken the form of Trump in the USA; it is the AfP in Germany; and it is Catalonia in Spain.

Discarding the old & adopting the new is called Progress: It's what Old School Progressive piggies once demanded, and now that they've gotten what they're asked for good & hard, they may as well pretend to enjoy it.

Squeal little piggy! Squeal like an old school progressive.


Best

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Every progressive once supported CHANGE but no longer.


No one except "overturn the chessboard" nihilists support all CHANGE equally. If that were so, then progressives would be in favor of global warming, and conservatives would be environmentalists.

Here's the thing, though. You're willfully confusing conflcting definitions of "progress". Does "progress" mean moving forward down a particular path (with "conservatives" wanting to move slowly or not at all or back up), or does "progress" mean altering course from one path to another (with "conservatives" then wanting to stay on the same path, which makes them the progressives of the other definition)? You're pretending that someone who doesn't push for either of the two definitions is betraying progressivism.


Most of us here once supported the US candidate who promised CHANGE in 2008 & 2012 -- I most certainly did -- but then that candidate betrayed the US electorate by perpetuating the status quo & delivering more of the same.


So instead, you support the party whose stated strategy was obstruction of any change President Obama attempted. And even so, are you saying Obamacare and same-sex marriage and a dead Osama Bin Laden were the status quo in 2008?

Sorry, dude, but you sound like the racists who complain when black people protest violently, or when they protest peacefully, or when they're just not happy about anything at all that you'd rather not hear about. You wanted CHANGE, but you didn't like the changes that were accomplished--despite obstructionism--and so you join the obstructionists in calling for CHANGE. You don't even know what you're mad about.

Bill_in_the Middle said...

Glen Filth ranted "Now would be a good time for you to shut up and fly right because we are watching now. We are remembering faces, taking names and making lists too. We see you cheating and lying... and we will settle scores too if you push us to it."

You watch without seeing and read without comprehension. You sound like another second-rate bully spewing empty threats.

Good luck Bub, you're going to need it.

Paul SB said...

We've seen this tactic so many times the only explanation as to why he still does it simple force of habit:

"...the old religious objective moral code..."
- 2000 years of Christian history, with its bloodily-suppressed heresies, witch burnings, and all those holy wars demonstrate amply that there is nothing objective about religious moral codes. The same can be said for every other religion - they all have their schisms, because no two humans can ever agree entirely on anything, much less on how they imagine their imaginary big beard in the sky (which is pretty much what a lot of fathers look like to a two year-old) thinks.

Simply by placing two words together in a sentence does not make the supposed association between them true. He's used this juvenile tactic for as long as I've known him.

David Brin said...

This Bill fellow… was he talking about Beck? Or me? Confused

While still loony, at least Locumranch strung words together in his post-before-last, in decipherable (if crazed) assertions. Although the crimes that he asserts moderates and scientific and future oriented folks have committed are just mirror reflections of his own cult…

… I have always avowed that there’s one that we HAVE committed, over and over for 100 years. Using our universities to steal and change their brightest children. I accept that has had a psychic toll and underlies much of their inchoate, spuming, rabid confederate rage. But ABOVE the inchoate psychic level, it was all a good thing and I have no regrets for doing it.

We can recognize the pain without giving in to the pained flailings that could end all hope and end America.

Alas, his more recent posting was just a raving.

Typically showing how some on the left are as zero-sum in their thinking as poor locum, Zepp said: “Yes, Democrats should continue to play it safe and stand for nothing, lest Republicans make fun of them.”

He is incapable of pondering the positive sum outcomes that would pour forth if the dems create a vastly wide tent, an alliance of all who love science and fairness, even when they disagree over some details.

David Brin said...

Having said that....


onward

onward

Paul451 said...

David,
"Bill in the middle" was quoting and mocking the drive-by nutter, Glen Filthie. It wasn't aimed at you.

--

And speaking of...

--

Glen Filthie,
"we are watching now. We are remembering faces, taking names and making lists too."

You're right, that doesn't sound at all like Nazis.

"then that will be why we will kill you in a civil war and beat you there too."

Because that worked out so well for you last time.

Seriously, where do you normally rant such that it doesn't even occur to you to rethink invoking the Civil War? Or for that matter, where do you live/work that screeching "We're making lists!" doesn't have your colleagues/neighbours look at you like a creep. Where the hell is that normal?

[I've seen this "we're watching you, we're making lists" thing appearing all over the rightwing in the last year or so. Always specifically "lists".]

George Desmond said...

LOL

Zepp Jamieson said...

"just mirror reflections of his own cult…"

Projection. It's the right winger's best -- and only -- friend.

I'm pretty sure Bill/2 was talking about Captain Filthy.

David Brin said...

Re Filthie confederate idiot, Sam Houston said it best:

"I beseech those whose piety will permit them reverently to petition, that they will pray for this union, and ask that He who buildeth up and pulleth down nations will, the mercy preserve and unite us. For a Nation divided against itself cannot stand. I wish, if this Union must be dissolved, that its ruins may be the monument of my grave, and the graves of my family. I wish no epitaph to be written to tell that I survive the ruin of this glorious Union."

Or better:

“Some of you laugh to scorn the idea of bloodshed as the result of secession, but let me tell you what is coming….Your fathers and husbands, your sons and brothers, will be herded at the point of the bayonet….You may after the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, as a bare possibility, win Southern independence…but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of state rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction…they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South. ”

now onward

onward

Bill_in_the Middle said...

Just to be clear, I was aiming at Mr. Filthie, not you at all
I will strive for more clarity next time.
Best Regards!