Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Propaganda, dirty-tricks cheaters and "prodigal" Boehners

The  Honest Ads Act, introduced last week by Democratic senators Mark Warner of Virginia and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, would require online platforms with at least 50 million monthly users -- think Facebook, Google and Twitter -- to make a public record of advertisers who spend at least $500 on political ads regarding campaigns or significant legislative issues. The record would include information regarding the ad's content, its target audience and its cumulative views, as well as its cost. It would also list any candidate referred to in the ad and contact information for the entity that purchased it. 

“This is a cause that transcends both commercial and partisan concerns -- the bill has the support of Republican Senator John McCain. Congress should pass the Honest Ads Act. Then build on it.” Indeed, it is only a start on the needed reforms.

Yeah, there are two chances of this happening…”fat” and “slim.” In other words, zero under this Congress, whose GOP leaders are absolutely counting upon a tsunami of cheating to stay in power, in 2018.  

Note that they already dismantled the earlier measures we had in place, to help keep a calm and informed and balanced voting public -- e.g. the Fairness Doctrine and rebuttal rules in mass media, requiring that major outlets allow on-air replies to any stretch of biased opinion.  The "lamestream media" were fine with this, encouraging give and take and rebuttals, even sometimes retractions! It was Rupert Murdoch, Fox and Clear Channel ravers who fought like hell to get rebuttal requirements ended. Why? Because any five minutes of rebuttal on Fox, by someone using facts well, would leave that lie festival a smoldering ruin.

The use of billionaire bucks to consolidate mass media into biased houses was also constrained by old media dispersal of ownership rules.  Now the Koch Brothers own Time.  Stay tuned. We may have to up the boycott.

Ronald Reagan famously said:

 "I didn't leave the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party left me.” 

Whatever you think of Ronnie’s rationalization, he expressed perfectly what any sane or grownup Republican should be paraphrasing right now about the party that’s utterly betrayed them and their country and even honorable conservatism – along with science and every other fact-using profession. Alas, show me one of today's Republicans who has Reagan's cojones! One. Even Senators Flake, Corker and McCain, who found guts to denounce the Symptom-in-Chief (Trump) are too weak kneed to take on the diseas. Rupert Murdoch. And his overseas pals.

Ah, here’s a link to how you can boycott – even just a little – the confederate propaganda machines.

 == Gerrymandering & healthcare ==

Cheaters. They cannot win except by cheats that range from treasonous-foul gerrymandering to "losing" thousands of voter registrations, always a week or two before an election, to rigged voting machines, to voter suppression... and now this: "A computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was quietly wiped clean by its custodians just after the suit was filed, The Associated Press has learned. The server’s data was destroyed July 7 by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system."

Hey cheaters, be proud... but where do you think this will all lead, when we finally get fed up?

The recent election in Virginia showed popular revulsion by reducing GOP seats in the House of Delegates from 2/3 to 50%, But gerrymandering means that a 10% lead in votes nets 50% of the seats in Virginia. In other words, to get their statehouse back, Virginia voters have to reject the cheaters by super-majorities. Is there any way out of this cheat?

Based on the simple way that children divide a cake, the "I-cut-you-choose" solution to gerrymandering seems workable and plausible and avoids the inherent problems of independent commissions. It does entrench the two-party system and does not preserve state sovereignty and legislative privilege as well as my "Minimal Overlap" approach. Both should be presented to the Court, allowing Justice Kennedy no more waffling room. There are solutions that satisfy his every objection. Our descendants will look back at our inability to end this blatantly treasonous and criminal cheat and ask: "what kind of people were they?"


== An ineffective Congress ==

Why the GOP tries and fails to do a thing in Congress. “The most surprising thing about last summer’s many attempts to repeal ObamaCare wasn’t that they failed. It was the peculiar way that the legislation proceeded in both houses of Congress: without meaningful committee hearings, with minimal debate on the floor of either the House or Senate, sometimes without analysis from the CBO, and often without a even draft of a bill until the last possible moment. Again and again, Republicans were urged to vote Yes, not because the plan in front of them was good for American healthcare, but to “keep the process moving”. 

LATE ADDENDUM: As of December 2, it seems that the GOP, which has owned every branch of government and lever of power, since January, will at last have an "accomplishment" in a Tax Bill that they admit will add a $trillion to the national debt, while spending not one red cent on infrastructure, which would have generated high Money Velocity and growth. 

Instead, the magical incantations of Supply Side - which have never once come true, ever, proclaim that this time the oligarchs will spend the windfall on R&D and productive capacity... unlike every single other time, when they spent it on passive asset bubbles that limit money velocity to levels down near zero... as Adam Smith predicted, back in 1776.

But pause and let's congratulate the victors. The same folks who howled that the dems passed the ACA in "just a year," holding open, public hearings in just five committees, are now passing the biggest tax bill in history with ZERO days of hearings, forging this trillion dollar raid for billionaires in top secret and passing it in the dead of night, amid a festival of lies.

== The real reason for the tax cut - an oligarch exit strategy ==

Those who piled their earlier tax largesse into asset bubbles know the great times always end.  They always plan an exit strategy, for when the bubble bursts.

Their dream used to be "privatize social security!"  Fill the equity markets with Greater Fools to sop up bloated assets. That scam was stopped, thank God, just before the last collapse.  

So what's the plan now?

Flood already profitable companies with tax cuts so they can accelerate their already absurdly massive stock buy-backs!  In-effect, break the US budget subsidizing companies to squander their futures giving money to current stockholders... buying up stock that the moguls know will soon plummet in value.

This time, they will get their way. Only they are counting on us never noticing. That could be a mistake.

== Too little, too late John ==

Oh, my. Says retired GOP Speaker John Boehner about Hannity and Limbaugh diving into the Dark Side: “I had a conversation with Hannity, probably about the beginning of 2015. I called him and said, ‘Listen, you’re nuts.’ We had this really blunt conversation. Things were better for a few months, and then it got back to being the same-old, same-old. Because I wasn’t going to be a right-wing idiot.”

Oh, oh, the cognitive dissonance! As Speaker of the House, John Boehner was a horrible villain who damaged our republic and our civilization, by helping to enforce the Hastert Rule against negotiation in the US Congress, effectively destroying the adult art of pragmatic politics that underlies so much of our success as a nation. The U.S. Congress - once the greatest deliberative body for agile, responsible, balanced and innovative governance in the history of our species - became, under Boehner, the most lazy, useless, corrupt and dogmatic in over a century, passing laws to benefit plutocrats and almost nothing else, holding fewer days in session, hearings etc but vastly more in “fund-raising.”

They were good at two things, passing legislation benefiting the party’s individual oligarch owners… and symbolism.  Example, see where I appraise their obsession with naming ships! Especially aircraft carriers.

There many sane-conservative wishes never seriously pursued. One example: there had been a deal to reform entitlements, negotiated in good faith between several Democratic and Republican Senators. It would have secured Social Security and cured inefficiencies, reduced deficits... and Boehner trashed it. Oh, and he knows that "Obamacare" is almost identical to the GOP Health Care Plan the he had pushed for! But will he say so?

Sure, this killer-of-American-politics was not as awful a human being as his predecessor leading the GOP -- Dennis “friend-to-boys” Hastert -- or the chain of perverts and multiple divorc├ęs and gambling-subsidized shills who “moral” Republicans keep nominating and electing. Heck, I will even cheer if Boehner joins Flake, Corker, McCain, Collins, Romney and the lot, forming a Party of Sane Adult American Conservatives and calling quits with Rupert Traitor Murdoch. 

There is precedent for such a bold move!  See "The Miracle of 1947."

But while we may receive the repentant sinner back at the table as a prodigal son, if he later fights for righteousness and the Union he betrayed, we are not obliged to forget the role he played into guiding us into phase 8 of the American Civil War.

 == Looking to China ==

The Globalist’s Nathan Gardels warns: “While the West — including a Europe riven by populist and separatist movements — stalls in internal acrimony, China is boldly striding ahead. It has proactively set its sights on conquering the latest artificial intelligence technology, reviving the ancient Silk Road as “the next phase of globalization,” taking the lead on climate change and shaping the next world order in its image. If the West does not hear this wake-up call loud and clear, it is destined to somnambulate into second-class status on the world stage. Waiting for China to stumble is a foolish fallback.

“That is not to suggest, of course, that open societies ought to turn toward authoritarianism to unify the body politic. But it is to say that unless democracies look beyond the short-term horizon of the next election cycle and find a way to reach a governing consensus, they will be left in the dust by the oncoming future. If democracy has come to mean sanctifying the splintering of society into a plethora of special interests, partisan tribes and endless acronymic identities instead of seeking common ground, there is little hope of successfully competing with a unified juggernaut like China.”

A number of interesting articles follow up on this introduction, and they are cogent as far as they go… 

...but alas, the grand conclusion of the whole issue is dead wrong. It is based upon the fallacious assumption that the China Miracle of development was a Chinese accomplishment, alone.

Yes, a billion hardworking Chinese people did the hard work of building new cities and industries and power. But history will show that the capitalization of this revolution-miracle was funded by one thing and one thing above all else — vast flows of funds from the West and especially the U.S., via a counter-mercantilist system that was created deliberately by George Marshall, Dean Acheson, Truman and Eisenhower and others at the end of the Second World War, with one goal — the development of the world.  

No other “empire” ever did this, at their apex. Moreover, no endeavor in the history of humanity has ever worked so well.

Chinese leaders nurse the same illusion touted by the earlier Japanese — that they invented a new and cleverly predatory form of economics that sucked vitality from a decadent west without our awareness or sapient consent. But they did not invent predatory mercantilism. Every previous empire or rising nation practiced it, as did the Ming and Manchu, and all suffered from its ills, over the long run. Yes, in the short run, predatory mercantilism has led to fantastically rapid development, but let me ask: “who is sapient here?”

The “empire” of this era - the U.S. - could have shut down counter-mercantilist subsidy of the developing world at any time in the last 70 years. We can do it now, at any time. And in the event of a sudden trade war, who do you think will suffer more? WalMart customers, suddenly unable to buy cheap underwear anymore, and having to relearn how to darn socks? Or those whose utter livelihoods depend on making and selling hose and skivvies to Americans?

Asian mercantilists have always flattered themselves that we are helpless before our consumer appetites. And so it never occurs to them that the last 70 years were the result of deliberate design. Our design, not theirs.

Today, prodigiously, the U.S. economy is lifting both China’s and India’s, at the same time. Future historians will deem this to be the greatest American accomplishment of all. Those historians’ AI assisted models will not be biased by self-loathing or self-flattery, but clear and revelatory facts.  They will know what we did, and why.

Is it essential for the U.S. to snap out of its current funk? Its current “phase 8 of the American Civil War?” Sure. And many powers are investing heavily - both funds and manipulation - to keep us at each others’ throats. They rightfully dread how dynamic we will be, if we recover our national skill at fair-argumentation, negotiation and fact-based pragmatic politics. And yes, that can happen under the aegis of a democratic and diverse - not ‘disciplined’ - society.

== And finally ==

Here's something most of you saw, so hilarious you wind up sobbing: At Halloween The U.S. president’s son tweeted a picture of his three-year-old daughter with her Halloween candy haul, threatening “I’m going to take half of Chloe’s candy tonight & give it to some kid who sat at home. It’s never to early to teach her about socialism.”  

While mis-spelling “too,” he raised a storm of satire and derision, some reactions very clever. For a silver-spoon spoiled-heir to talk about anyone “earning” their candy is rich. 

Note: Ayn Rand, for all her faults, portrays her own scion characters taking ‘The Dare,’ dropping out, changing their names and starting over in a farm or factory, spending a decade earning a fresh fortune of their very own, before accepting a penny of inheritance. She was a loony, but capable of more honesty than most of these petty lordlings.  (OTOH, she disapproved of procreation and never once showed or implied any of her characters doing it; at least Don Jr. has a sweet face to love (and alas, exploit). Happy Thanksgiving, Trumps. I mean that! But then let’s all have a Merry Christmas and great 2018.

====

Addendum: I have many times called for a "year of the colonels." Not in the old sense of latin caudillos grabbing power by force, but retired U.S. officers stepping up to confront confederate treason at every level. Now that the mad right's war on all fact-using professions includes everyone from science, medicine and journalism to the "deep state" FBI and intel and military officer corps -- these are the only folks who can grab our neighbors by the lapel and insist: "this is not about sane-conservatism, anymore. It is about insanity."

We need such men and women running not only for Congress but in every single red state assembly district, in both the Republican primaries and as moderate or even slightly conservative Democrats, in the General. 


Now we have such a fellow stepping up in Alabama. "A retired Marine colonel and former top aide to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly -- Lee Busby -- has launched a write-in campaign in next month's Alabama Senate race, seeing an opening after multiple women accused Republican Roy Moore of sexual misconduct."  


And yes, if he wins, I'll be happy enough with a 'pro-life' moderate representing the deeply conservative folks down there, so long as he's a sane, pragmatic fact-user who can sniff the stink of betrayal from the current, Kremlin-run GOP and who's willing to sit down, negotiating like an adult.

138 comments:

Smurphs said...

Dr. Brin, you have mentioned your admiration for George Marshall numerous times. I recently finished David McCullough biography Truman. Do you have a recommendation for a biography of Marshall?

David Brin said...

Smurphs, here is my essay about Marshall, published on the GC Marshall site:
http://marshallfoundation.org/marshall/essays-interviews/quiet-adult-candidate-man-century/

Here's their bibliography page:
http://marshallfoundation.org/marshall/bibliography/

Note that the foundation has been somewhat taken over by a conservative crowd.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Is it essential for the U.S. to snap out of its current funk? Its current “phase 8 of the American Civil War?”


Seeing the latest tax bill that threatens to pass the Senate and the right-wing judges being appointed to the federal bench, I'm becoming resigned to the fact that if our democracy survives, we'll have to rebuild the country in much the way Germany and Japan were rebuilt after 1945. The damage will have been that severe.

The optimist in me says that at least we know such a rebuilding is possible. The pessimist says I only have a few decades left to live, and the country may suck the entire time.

locumranch said...


There still may be a way to prevent the Koch Brothers from acquiring Time Magazine by invoking Anti-Trust Legislation on the grounds that the Kochs already dominate the toilet paper market. There, I said it. Time Magazine is toilet paper, only with less integrity & more media bias.

Print News media is dead & dying with the Broadcast media platform in close second: TV viewership (all types) declined by 50% from 2002 to 2013; MSNBC 'going to prison' for the weekend gets better ratings than its actual news broadcasts; CNN is slowly but surely becoming Chicken Little meets Anthony Bourdain; and even the pre-Kaepernick NFL (a historical ratings powerhouse) is in terminal decline.

There are many reasons for this generalised decline, including increasing social alienation & increased monetisation by service providers, but my faves are (1) the growing conviction that news content providers everywhere have BECOME advertisers intent on selling the viewer a particular narrative or worldview (much in the same way that the major religions used to sell indulgences & heavenly preference) and (2) Viewer Habituation to non-stop social alarmism of tremendous volume.

The Ship of State may actually be sinking this time but it doesn't matter any longer because the attention-seeking news providers have been screaming 'Man the Lifeboats' for so damn long that most of the passengers just want the ship to SINK ALREADY so the Fourth Estate will just 'Shut Up'. We call this 'Alarm Fatigue' in medical circles.

I, for one, will welcome the briny deep, if only for the silence, sleep & peace.


Best
____

'The Honest Ads Act'? Is this really the best the US Democrats can do? Why not call it 'The Trust Me Act'. How about 'Trust You' instead? Trust You very much and very hard, no lubricant.

David Brin said...

Eep! Notice he long ago stopped asserting that his "side" has any merit.

Now it's all assertions (backed by no facts, 'cause facts are icky) that "the folks I hate are just as horrible as the insane-lying traitors who run 'my side.' So let's all die!"

The top priority of the enemies of the West has been to demoralize. Think of Saruman, inveigled into giving up by Sauron, then using his own powers to demoralize Theoden.

locumranch is like Theoden, addicted to Wormtongue and thus utterly hostile to "Stormcrow Gandalf" Even when they admit the Enemy is vile, and that standing up might give the West a chance, they can't. Because that would mean admitting that some fact-people are right, at least some of the time. And that admission is unbearable.

Paul SB said...

Sorry to harken back to the previous thread. I wanted to reply to Staven but got interrupted for a couple hours, and when I came back the "onward!" had been sounded.

Steven,

You are thinking like an archaeologist. All those issues you raised in the last thread regarding the 14-year old dead person are exactly the kinds of questions every archaeologist would be addressing while constructing the culture history of the site.

One thing I would point out is the relationship between the general and the particular. What I was saying earlier about infant mortality is a generality common to all pre-modern (and many modern) agricultural societies. But individual cultures do not reduce to universal or quasi-universal trends. I talk a lot about brains here, and often understanding how they work in general can tell you a lot about what is going on with any particular brain. But one of the most important aspects of the human brain is its plasticity. It is set up not to follow a program as to adapt to the environment in which is is raised. Likewise culture is subject to limitations set by both environment and the nature of the cultural animal. So different societies will develop different cultural responses to the same phenomena. I wrote that many agricultural societies do not name their children until they make it to 3, but not all do this. Generalities set up boundaries within which variation happens, a bit like chaos dynamics.

I was going to mention the Tend and Befriend Stress Response model formulated by Dr. Shelley Taylor in 2000. When we talk about how people respond to threats, we usually use the expression “fight or flight” - later “freeze” was added to the ors. Fight, flight or freeze are typical responses in male hominids, but if you pay attention to how female hominids react to threats, they tend to get together with others, form alliances, help one another, etc. Thus the phrase “tend and befriend.” Now it should be obvious enough that both sexes follow both patterns under different circumstances - these are just average tendencies. Male hominids often form alliances and coalitions and help their allies, and female hominids often lash out in anger or withdraw from threatening situations.


Paul SB said...

Steven con.t,

The reason I brought this up has to do with the cartoon about the Vikings. What that cartoon describes is very much in keeping with the tend and befriend strategy. I have pasted in the link to the Wikipedia article. If you read the bit about cooperative breeding you will see what I mean. But hey, weren’t Vikings known to be fierce warriors? Yes, and this points to a problem with assuming a generality, in this case stereotypes about male hominid behavior.

I’m not all that familiar with Scandinavian history/protohistory. To really get an idea of what was going on with them, I would want to know something about their kinship terminology and nominal system. The reason this matters is that it can give you a hint as to what was going on. If they used an Iroquoian kinship system it would suggest that this behavior developed during the centuries when the cultures were “going Viking” - meaning that their makes were spending very long periods of time on their raiding/trading expeditions, which almost necessitates relegating a lot of leadership to their females, who were left home with the kids and could not wait two months for the males to get back home. No “Wait Til Your Father Gets Home” for them. The attitude toward the “legitimacy” of children would then be a cultural survival from pre-Christian times. This strikes me as the most likely origin (more likely than a Marxian explanation) but it is not the only possibility.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tend_and_befriend

There's quite a bit more out there on this response besides Wikipedia, and Sapolsky's new book brings it up.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@LarryHart: Yes, we might have to make some updates to our Constitution and laws to fix the flaws so exposed, and to enforce a fair paradigm on those who would rather cheat to keep what they gained so duplicitously. One might even call it a.... “Reconstruction”?

This comes back to our collective answer to Bannon’s ridiculous notion that he can be Hari Seldon and guide the Fourth Turning to his desired nationalist-fascist conclusion. When in fact the conflagration is one he himself helped light (“We Didn’t Start the Fire”, anyone?) and the upcoming “great struggle” will be over the soul of the Republic.

People keep fretting about how we will ever regain our good name, our honor, or our respect after this hash falls apart (as things built on moonbeams inevitably must). That is how. When the world sees that we were hit by a concerted subversion effort plus all the confederate sabotage of civil society... and we survived and built our government better than before... what couldn’t such a society so?

Alfred Differ said...

Regarding cold weather amateur astronomy...

1. Don't breathe on the optics.
2. Don't take the instrument inside where it is warm if you can help it. Let it stay chilled if it is safe. Humidity is a pain.
3. Don't rely on battery power as your only option for tracking drives.
4. Stick to simpler designs that are open to the air if purchases are to be made.
5. Really. Don't breathe on the optics. 8)

[I stuck with simple Newtonian designs and no drives, but that was during the Stone Age.]

6. Bring little red flashlights for the OTHER people who don't understand.
7. Bring a real star map if you haven't got them memorized yet. The sky looks different that far north where practically everything is circumpolar or never seen at all. 8)

David Brin said...

Alfred, we're thinking of a fair sized Celestron with all the bells and auto-finding features. (a tour group is paying for it.) 70 degrees latitude in March! Brrrr! We'll have wired power. But may need to bring the scopes outside only half an hour before viewing.

Duncan Cairncross said...

I bought a small reflector telescope when I lived in Indiana
That was when I discovered how horrible and murky the sky was - and we lived miles from any big town
Much much worse than the UK - which was much worse than NZ

I hope the sky is nice and clear for your trip

Marino said...

Sorry to disagree with you, dr. Brin:

Because any five minutes of rebuttal on Fox, by someone using facts well, would leave that lie festival a smoldering ruin.

It doesn't work that way. This guy, Walter Quattrociocchi
https://scholar.google.it/citations?user=_OCIc6UAAAAJ&hl=en

is an Italian data scientist who works on disininformation and debunking it, and his work has sadly proved that debunking only reinforces the beliefs held at the receiving end:
https://arxiv.org/abs/1510.04267 : "Debunking in a World of Tribes"

(see also https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/10/30/what-was-fake-on-the-internet-this-week-why-do-we-even-bother-honestly/?utm_term=.3f77b63ddcfd)

Our common faith in facts and reason seems useless...

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin,

Unfortunately, your hope that Lee Busby will be a moderating force in the senate seems to be forlorn. This is from Time Magazine:

But Busby, who is a former aide to President Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly — he has not yet spoken with Kelly about his campaign — was candid about the fact that he typically votes Republican. He supported Trump in the 2016 presidential election, and thinks the President is doing “a good job.” Should he win, he said his votes will likely align with a Republican agenda, although he stopped short of saying he would caucus with the Republicans.

I fear you may be over estimating our retired officer corps.

Here is a link to the article referred to above:

http://time.com/5038367/roy-moore-lee-busby-alabama-senate-race-doug-jones/

I enjoy your writing immensely. Please keep it up.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

I, for one, will welcome the briny deep, if only for the silence, sleep & peace.


Sometimes, you can get what you want and still not be very happy.



'The Honest Ads Act'? Is this really the best the US Democrats can do?


Democrats aren't in a position to "do" anything at the moment. The most important issues aren't even subject to filibuster, let alone passage by the minority party.


Darrell E said...

Regarding cold weather astronomical viewing, I'd add to Alfred's list setting the scope up early enough to allow it to settle to ambient temperature before viewing. A dew shield may help with that process as well.

When I'd set my scope up on a cold night I'd set it up 1 to 2 hours before I planned on using it.

One thing you definitely don't want to do is move the scope into a warmer environment after it has cooled down, then move it back outside. For example if there were a problem you might think it easier to move it inside to sort the problem out, where it is warmer and you have better lighting. Don't do it.

Also, when you're done viewing don't take the scope inside and then pack it away. Take it inside and let it sit until you wake up the next morning, then pack it away.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

@LarryHart: Yes, we might have to make some updates to our Constitution and laws to fix the flaws so exposed, and to enforce a fair paradigm on those who would rather cheat to keep what they gained so duplicitously. One might even call it a.... “Reconstruction”?


The drum-beats I'm hearing in the news media seem to indicate that the Senate tax bill is going to pass, ridiculously enough on the grounds that Republicans will lose support next year if they don't deliver "tax cuts" when for most voters, taxes will go up. I have a theory that the news media have realized which side their bread is buttered on in the event that unhappy megadonors shut off the money spigot. Campaign donations don't benefit the recipients directly--they go toward huge ad buys in the media. If the money dries up, it's bad for business for CNN and MSNBC as well as FOX.

Your point above is one I've been wary of, because recent calls to amend the Constitution or to call a new Constitutional Convention seem aimed at instituting right-wing policy rather than on remediating it. But that might change after the effects of the "Cut Cut Cut" bill become obvious. At that point, the Democrats (or whatever replaces them) might gain enough support to be back in power, at which point they should take a lesson from the Repugni-cons as to how to steamroll a minority party.

Recall that in 2009, the Democrats had won the presidency and huge majorities in both houses of Congress. The only lever of power the Republicans had was the ability of 41 Senators to just barely hold together to filibuster everything. From that position, the Republicans were able to claw their way back to owning the entire government in less than a decade. The Democrats remind me of George Carlin's bit about the American Indians ("Indian Sergeants") :

Just because they started off in Manhattan and wound up defending Santa Monica doesn't mean they were bad.


Point being, when the American people come to understand that they've been had and vote Republicans out of power, we need to take a lesson from the opposition as to how to steamroll a minority party.


People keep fretting about how we will ever regain our good name, our honor, or our respect after this hash falls apart (as things built on moonbeams inevitably must). That is how. When the world sees that we were hit by a concerted subversion effort plus all the confederate sabotage of civil society... and we survived and built our government better than before... what couldn’t such a society so?


Wow! I'm obviously one of those "people" despairing of our future, and you do a good job of talking me off the ledge.

Every so often, I have to be reminded of the soliloquy from the March 1975 issue of Captain America in which a disillusioned Cap finds himself after the Watergate era:


Oh, Lord, if I wasn't prepared for any and ALL threats to the American dream, then what
was I DOING as Captain America?

I'm not the poor abused hero I've been TELLING myself I was.

I'm not even a fool.

I'm a failure.

I thought I knew who the GOOD GUYS and the BAD GUYS were. I thought, as usual, that things weren't as COMPLEX as they are...

...and I couldn't UNDERSTAND how the GOOD GUYS could put their FAITH in a man so BAD!

But my naivete is MY problem, not AMERICA'S. The COUNTRY didn't let ME down--

--I let HER down by not being all I COULD be!

I guess what I'm saying is...There has to be SOMEone who will fight for the dream against any foe.

LarryHart said...

Anonymous:

Unfortunately, your hope that Lee Busby will be a moderating force in the senate seems to be forlorn. This is from Time Magazine:

But Busby, who is a former aide to President Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly — he has not yet spoken with Kelly about his campaign — was candid about the fact that he typically votes Republican. He supported Trump in the 2016 presidential election, and thinks the President is doing “a good job.” Should he win, he said his votes will likely align with a Republican agenda, although he stopped short of saying he would caucus with the Republicans.

I fear you may be over estimating our retired officer corps.


But the thing is, Busby isn't likely to win. What he's likely to do is be "Jill Stein" to Roy Moore's "Hillary", giving disgusted Republican voters an option other than actually voting for a Democrat, but allowing Jones to win.

I suppose the question is whether he's doing that intentionally or not.

Zepp Jamieson said...

A couple of interesting additions of incidents that have occurred in the short time since Dr. Brin posted this essay:
The government prosecutors seeking to imprison people caged by police during the Trump administration and charged with the non-existent law of "felony rioting" we caught using video created by Project Veritas, James O'Keefes deeply discredited smear machine. It happened the day after one of his operatives tried to entrap the Washington Post with false testimony that she was a rape victim of Roy Moore and was forced to get an abortion at age 15. O'Keefe hoped the Post would fall for this fantasy and discredit themselves.
And President Trash posted three anti-Moslem videos in his latest twittergasm, produced by the neo-nazi group, "Britain First". The group were caught this morning trying frantically to scrub tons of pro-Putin propaganda on their board lest anyone get the right idea about the links between "conservatives" and Russia's fascist dictator.

Berial said...

Serious question (I really don't know this answer.) When did 'Nazis' become okay with actual commies? That's one hell of a propaganda coup.

TCB said...

Nazis became okay with actual commies when the commies turned into Nazis. Seriously, look at China. Their regime still calls itself Communist but it's all about the cashmonay, it's cool to be a billionaire, in many ways Communist China is now a laissez-faire capitalist playground... just don't speak against the ruling party.

Russia, same thing. Martin A. Lee nailed this situation almost twenty years ago with his prophetic bookThe Beast Reawakens: Fascism's Resurgence from Hitler's Spymasters to Today's Neo-Nazi Groups and Right-Wing Extremists.

In a nutshell: fascists and Nazis escaped after World War 2, to South America and other places, or simply laid low, spoke in whispers, made money, and called themselves 'patriots' and 'conservatives'. Lee follows the threads from Otto Skorzeny and his friends, all the way to later right-fringe politics in Russia, the United States, Europe, the Arab world... and when the Soviet bloc fell and American conservatives gained more and more power, the far right slowly emerged from the shadows. Twenty years after Lee's book, they are back in the driver's seat, not bothering to hide their true face.

LarryHart said...

Berial:

When did 'Nazis' become okay with actual commies?


1939, actually.

What goes around comes around.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Berial: sorry, what?

@Larry:
1) All the polling indicators suggest that the tax plan is a disaster that will turn off independents and middle-class voters and further boost Democratic turnout next year. The GOP donors are betting heavily that the 2018 elections will be sufficiently rigged in their favor to maintain control of Congress. (It's not a question anymore of whether there will be more Democratic votes; it's merely a question of whether the gerrymandering is sufficient to overcome the disapproval of 60% of the population.)

2) But even if they properly win the midterms -- even if Trump is re-elected fairly, and despite his poor polling that's still possible -- the long term is still a terrible situation for the GOP as currently configured. Take a look sometime at demographic projections. Even with a reduction in immigration, the population is predicted to be 25% Hispanic and 25% biracial/other minorities by 2045. There are now enough Hispanic citizens that even a zero-immigration Festung Amerika can't stop this; it's baked into things like preferred family size.

Tilts like the Electoral College and gerrymandering only get you so far. Assuming that a large percentage of white Americans remain liberals, there is no way any kind of fair election can be won by a white-nationalist party under such circumstances. Somewhere between now and then, matters must break; and given the fundamental fragility of the current GOP mandate, it will be sooner unless extreme measures are taken to incite a rush to Trumpism.

At that point, only a few options present themselves:

(A) Deracialize. Accept the 2008/2012 conclusions and try to draw black and Hispanic conservatives into the GOP. Can't happen until Trumpism is discredited and most of its base have returned from it.

(B) Surrender. Find an accommodation for a white minority in a new multiracial paradigm of American identity.

Yeah, neither of those sound likely anytime soon...

(C) Autocratize. Abandon any attempt at a fair democratic system and re-institute official schemes of cheating to suppress, falsify, or otherwise distort the election results. Use social, economic, and government powers to fragment opposition and maintain control of a divided and unjust regime. An actual dictatorship would probably not be necessary: the tactics of Jim Crow married to the electoral practices of the old Mexican PRI would be sufficient.

(D) Balkanize. Do as the Confederates did: give up on the Union and the Republic, secede, and set up a whitebread-topia in more limited borders wherein their ethnic/cultural majority is retained and they have the scope to enact their Fallout-style fantasy of the Boomer childhoods of rural and suburban mid-20th century America.

(E) Paramilitize. Cede official power, but do as Nathan Bedford Forrest did and raise a guerilla force to harass the carpetbaggin' so-and-sos who dare tell red-blood white Americans what to do. Wolverines!

...but all of these are superior to what the most extreme elements desire...

(F) Cleanse. Impose martial law. Set up internal movement controls, require ID and passes, establish checkpoints throughout the country in strategic transportation channels. Conduct no-knock raids on massive scales. Remove any undesirable elements, whether to deportation, to 'camps', to prisons with labor-gang facilities, or... no, it's still too unspeakable to contemplate, even now.

I lost my Greatest Generation grandfather this year. If that cohort were still alive this could not be happening. It is only with their passing that the need for Nazi-fighters has arrived again. But they were out in numbers back in the 1930's. It should not have been a surprise that they still lurked, waiting for a moment when a bigot again controlled the levers of power, safeguarding their 'right' to advocate for the demolition of man and the fall of the Republic.

Anonymous said...


If the Commies are now Nazis, then Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer must be Nazis, too.

sociotard said...

I saw that Colonel running for office and immediately wondered if Dr. Brin had found a Genie Lamp.

I still say that the way to fix gerrymandering is to
1) Increase the size of the House
2) Switch to Semi-proportional representation, the way Germany and New Zealand do.
We keep the perks of having districts in the fist place (being able to say 'this specific representative is mine'), but suddenly gerrymandering is pointless. If you try, the other party will just get more list seats. It could also help get particular skillsets in Congress that don't include running for office (accountants, economists, ethicists, etc) or maybe improve demographic representation (Our list ensures 50% female representation! Our list has sexual and ethnic minorities!)

sociotard said...

oop, forgot to specify that the allocation would still have to be on a strict by-state basis, per the constitution.

Berial said...

@Catfish
In Zepp's post he talked about a neo-nazi group, "Britain First" scrubbing links of pro-Putin propaganda from their site. I was wondering when/how Nazi's (Britian First in this case, but Nazis in general) came to be okay with commies (IE: Putin). Is it just authoritarianism all the way down?

Katy Williams said...

I don't think liberals can win anymore. "Our side" the Democratic party, is just as corrupt, bought & sold, and indifferent to the needs of the 99.9% as the conservatives. There simply isn't anyone out there who can do anything useful. If there is, he/she will find themselves at the center of some type of sex scandal, be it "inappropriate" touching of a co-worker, or child porn, they'd find themselves ostracized and financially ruined if they're lucky. In prison if less lucky. Dead of suicide or a "small plane crash" if they're really "unlucky". Its over, Russia has destroyed the USA and now China is going to sweep in and grab everything. The .01% will continue their reign.

TCB said...

@ Berial, I addressed your question about 7 comments back. But LarryHart makes a good point, too. In 1939 Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Mutual Non-Aggression Pact, and then each took half of Poland. So yes, authoritarians can work together even if their economic models differ. Within two years, however, Hitler's need for oil from beyond the Caucasus Mountains led him to the June 1941 invasion of Mother Russia and her satellite brood.

No honor among thieves, you know...

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

Take a look sometime at demographic projections. Even with a reduction in immigration, the population is predicted to be 25% Hispanic and 25% biracial/other minorities by 2045.


That's great for the long term. In 2045, I'll be five years older than my dad was when he passed away after several infirm years in a nursing home. I want my country back earlier than that.

Selfish, I know. And in truth, if I knew my daughter and her kids would eventually be all right, that would be enough. But in the meantime, it galls.


Tilts like the Electoral College and gerrymandering only get you so far. Assuming that a large percentage of white Americans remain liberals, there is no way any kind of fair election can be won by a white-nationalist party under such circumstances. Somewhere between now and then, matters must break; and given the fundamental fragility of the current GOP mandate, it will be sooner unless extreme measures are taken to incite a rush to Trumpism.


I wish I could put faith in that. The Republican Party was supposed to have been reduced to "a regional power" as early as 2006, and after their 2012 autopsy, they've pretty much done a different thing, in fact the opposite thing from their own conclusions. And yet, here we are.


Autocratize. Abandon any attempt at a fair democratic system and re-institute official schemes of cheating to suppress, falsify, or otherwise distort the election results. Use social, economic, and government powers to fragment opposition and maintain control of a divided and unjust regime. An actual dictatorship would probably not be necessary: the tactics of Jim Crow married to the electoral practices of the old Mexican PRI would be sufficient.


This seems to be their tactic of the day, coupled with one you did not mention. Cement everything they can possibly get away with into stone before they are voted out. Federal judges (including but not limited to the Supreme Court) in their 30s with lifetime appointments. Pass with 50.001% tax rules that will require 60% to repeal. Give away federal land. And if they can get it--a new Constitutional Convention whose preamble will certainly include "stand your ground" defense (for whites), freedom from government interference (for corporations) and freedom of religion (for Christians).


Balkanize. Do as the Confederates did: give up on the Union and the Republic, secede, and set up a whitebread-topia in more limited borders wherein their ethnic/cultural majority is retained and they have the scope to enact their Fallout-style fantasy of the Boomer childhoods of rural and suburban mid-20th century America.


Have you looked at a map lately? We might be the ones forced to balkanize and resist federal intrusion for as long as possible. I've been trying to figure out how to connect Illinois to the West Coast, or at least to acquire safe passage or a "Berlin airlift" between the two.

LarryHart said...

Berial:

I was wondering when/how Nazi's (Britian First in this case, but Nazis in general) came to be okay with commies (IE: Putin).


They don't see the current incarnation of Putin as a commie. More of an autocratic oligarch, and a white nationalist one at that. He's everything they want to be when they grow up.

LarryHart said...

Katy Williams:

I don't think liberals can win anymore. "Our side" the Democratic party, is just as corrupt, bought & sold, and indifferent to the needs of the 99.9% as the conservatives.
...
Its over, Russia has destroyed the USA and now China is going to sweep in and grab everything. The .01% will continue their reign.


I hear locumranch is single. You two might hit it off.

The remedy, of course, is to party like it's 1789.

Berial said...

@TCB
Please don't think I didn't see your answer. I did and I appreciate it, thank you.

I just wanted Catfish N. Cod to understand what prompted my question in the first place.

I've always seen the relationship in Nazi Germany and Communist Russia as "we'll kill you last". I didn't expect the mutual respect and admiration club that seems to have popped up between the two modern day groups. I guess as long as a feudal society gets established, the 'lords' are perfectly okay with other 'lords'. I just don't understand why future serfs are okay with all of this. Do they really think they'll be anything other than used by their 'betters'?

Paul SB said...

Larry,

Before we party like it's 1789, we might need to party like its the Ides of March, 44 BC.

Alfred Differ said...

@David | Today, prodigiously, the U.S. economy is lifting both China’s and India’s, at the same time. Future historians will deem this to be the greatest American accomplishment of all. Those historians’ AI assisted models will not be biased by self-loathing or self-flattery, but clear and revelatory facts. They will know what we did, and why.

I think this is close to what the AI’s will conclude, but I’d like to offer you a refinement I think is much more likely. The end result is still the same that we helped, but exactly how we did it is subtlety different.

For successful prize contests, many more people compete than can win. It is quite possible that more money gets spent pursuing the prize than the prize itself is worth. Even the winner might have a net loss if the prize is the only reward considered. China’s relationship with the US as an exporter to us is similar to a prize contestant with many individual players in Chinese companies and the Chinese State itself playing. The prize usually goes unspoken, but it involves becoming filthy rich and dominating the world or some combination of them.

Our capitalization flows will be seen in the historical sense as a pittance compared to what the Chinese are spending themselves on themselves in pursuit of the prize. They had little to start, so seed capital was necessary. Once moving, though, they had enormously more than we could provide because they have 3x as many people. Every productive hour they generate potentially generates net wealth which can be redirected toward the prize.

What we’ve done is dangled a prize in front of them and offered seed capital in a way that only the US could have done. Sure. Produce lots of goods and compete with our own industries. Go ahead and try to beat them. We will provide political cover for you for decades. To a mercantilist (which they were/are… for now) who believes in a zero-sum world, this sounds like lunacy that should be exploited. Rev up the predatory companies and take everything not nailed down! We aren’t mercantilists, though, so we know better than to believe this would be a zero-sum game. We benefit from them trying to take the prize.

What future AI historians will point out is that most of the individuals striving for the prize failed at that goal, but along the way they risked trading with each other and THAT changed everything. They invested what wealth they had because they BELIEVED it was prudent. Our seed capital will be a pittance, but our seed concept delivered with it will shatter Chinese cyclic history.

Yah. India too and not just because of the US. We’ve nurtured and adapted a seed from our European ancestors. After the end of the Cold War, much of Europe re-joined the game, but not as prize contestants. They mostly know better than that. After all, they’ve been in this game much longer.

Alfred Differ said...

@David | If your tour group plans to show off the usual simple things to a neophyte group, a big telescope is flashy, but overkill. If your folks are amateur astronomers themselves, they’ll expect a bit more than looking at the Moon, planets, and occasional fuzz ball. IF you are going for deep sky stuff, it helps a lot to have the optics properly chilled. Someone like me with my ‘mostly’ correctable vision issues won’t be able to notice, but the kids with good eyesight will be much more impressed by sharp focused images.

When showing off stuff, it is always useful to remember that fast optics results in brighter images. My 13” Coulter from the early 80’s is just a Newtonian, but with an f-ratio of 4.5, I used to be able to see the first couple of dust bands in M31. I could also see a green tinge because I was getting just enough light to trigger color reception on retinas biased toward green. Fast optics has the added benefit of keeping the telescopes short, but with a Schmidt-Cassegrain that doesn’t matter too much.

If you can’t risk it going outside all set up without supervision, consider keeping it in a garage or storage shed or something that isn’t heated. Celestron’s are delivered in a nice little trunk last I checked. Make it look non-descript and keep it packed outside until close to show time if possible. They are closed on both ends, so they need a bit of time to equilibrate.

If you all don’t plan to go for deep sky stuff, though, don’t worry about any of this. The experts will notice, but they’ll understand.

Zepp Jamieson said...

" (Britian First in this case, but Nazis in general) came to be okay with commies (IE: Putin). Is it just authoritarianism all the way down?"
Putin is a totalitarian authority, and ideological allegiance is a purely pragmatic matter. When he needed to advance in the KGB, he was a devout communist. When he needed support from western corporations in order to consolidate power in post-Yelzyn Russia, he became a fascist.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"When did 'Nazis' become okay with actual commies?


1939, actually."

Hmm, yes. Von Ribbentrop/Molotov.

Well spotted.

Tim Wolter said...

The political lamp is well and truly lit today. Some of the things on my mind will rile people up. Lets postpone that a little. How 'bout I lead with some things most here will agree with.

There is no reason I can see to expect the tax legislation currently nearing completion will prove a success. It is the old magical belief that Growth will solve all problems. When you are already spending to excess you can't slash the revenues...you need to address both. Even if the economy does continue to get rosier, it will be years before most citizens see any benefit. Meanwhile debt piles up. When interest rates can't be kept down there will be a major recession.

I'm old, my needs are few. It won't hit me too hard. Others won't be so lucky.

I am also fine with the Ad Transparency proposal, although it seems likely that evading it would be quite easy. Amy Klobuchar would make a superb Pres or VP candidate next time around. She did a walk through at one of our recent FIRST Robotics tournaments. I approve of her. But I doubt the Democratic Party is anywhere near smart enough to go this route. Next time I'll have a few more things to say about them.

TW/Tacitus

Anonymous said...

Accept the 2008/2012 conclusions and try to draw black and Hispanic conservatives into the GOP. Can't happen until Trumpism is discredited and most of its base have returned from it.

Last week I finished Everybody Lies by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, which is an interesting read about Big Data.

In it he mentions that the best predictor of how many Trump voters a county had (based on actual votes rather than public support, polls, etc) was the number of Google searches for "nigger jokes"*. I suspect that the rise in racist incidents we are seeing now is just people who have always been racist feeling free to do so publicly again.

Looks like the 'post-racial' society was more a matter of self-censorship than actual attitude change.




*And maybe other phrases with "nigger" in them — I can check when I get the book back, but I passed it on to a colleague so that may be a while.

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:

There is no reason I can see to expect the tax legislation currently nearing completion will prove a success. It is the old magical belief that Growth will solve all problems.


True, but irrelevant. The arguments that this tax bill will help regular Americans in any way is meant to fool voters into supporting it. Those behind the bill don't believe that to be true, nor do they care. This is "return on investment" for their megadonors. It's the quid pro quo for legal (or quasi-legal) bribery.

And We The People are somewhat responsible for that state of affairs by allowing ourselves to be swayed by media ads to the point that Senators and Representatives are required to solicit huge campaign donations in order to win elections. I say "We" collectively, even though there's no amount of money the Koch brothers could spend that would persuade me to vote for any Republican at this point.

LarryHart said...

Anonymous:

I suspect that the rise in racist incidents we are seeing now is just people who have always been racist feeling free to do so publicly again.


That was obvious even during the election. Trump appeals to his base by giving them permission to be assholes.


Looks like the 'post-racial' society was more a matter of self-censorship than actual attitude change.


It seems to me that most people asserting we are "post-racial" are right-wingers trying to pretend that we've reached a point where everyone is treated fairly. It's an excuse for not addressing the issue of white privilege. The ones who actually want to live in a post-racial society are not the ones who claim it's been achieved.

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:

But I doubt the Democratic Party is anywhere near smart enough to go this route. Next time I'll have a few more things to say about them.


Just because I see the Democrats as our only hope right now doesn't mean I'm in love with them. I expect I agree with you more than you expect here. It's also irrelevant, though. The other party is too much a clear and present danger to worry about the lapses of the Democrats.

Alfred Differ said...

The US economy would have to grow into fantasy land levels for us to generate enough revenue to beat the debt without spending cuts. I doubt our central bank will let us try that for which I will be thankful.

GDP growth at 3%/year is a doubling rate of 24 years. It's a damn good rate, but it will make the FED nervous. 4% is lunacy if it goes past a quarter or two. The world won't be able to keep up with us and we will do our boom/bust routine. Painful.

LarryHart said...

@Tim Wolter,

In case you missed it above, I was the one who posted this:

The Democrats remind me of George Carlin's bit about the American Indians ("Indian Sergeants") :

Just because they started off in Manhattan and wound up defending Santa Monica doesn't mean they were bad.

Alfred Differ said...

@Darrel E | Yah. What you said. 8)

Back in the day when I took my (what used to be a) behemoth out, I would set up shortly after sunset and let it cool with the evening. My brief stint with a professional taught me to do that. They'd open the dome after sunset and then the mirror shade to let the IR radiate away a bit faster. Patience was a must. 8)

Anyone who wears glasses (me since I was 4 yrs old) knows what happens when you step inside a warm room after being out in sub-freezing temperatures. Stepping back outside just freezes the stuff on your lenses. Annoying, but it teaches just how cold the outer surface of your lenses get just an inch away from your eyes. Interesting physics lesson in heat diffusion.

David Brin said...

Marino you miss the point. All we need to do is tear maybe 10 million residually sapient American conservatives away from Fox etc and their very fragile coalition will lose power. What it will take is more than just “facts” but an aggressive narrative like mine, based on dares, challenges and wagers. These folks understand wagers. A bet is a manhood challenge. If you were flapping your gums and refuse a bet, it is a real blow. It needs to be hammered.

Anonymous I said nothing is praise of Lee Busby except that as a former senior officer he is probably dismayed by the war on fact users. If we get just THAT from Alabama, it’d be great.

Did locum really say: “I, for one, will welcome the briny deep” without noting that THIS SITE is the Brin-y deep?

“Katy Williams” is likely a Kremlin troll. That is the source of most messages of despair and indolent-lazy cynicism. “She” conveys the last ditch incantation that the neo-feudalists spread among the educated: false equivalence. Notice that she does it with the right’s stock in trade, un supported assertions.

In sharp contrast, Alfred’s missive about China’s rise via frenetic “prize” mentality was interesting. And Tim/Tac is always welcome here.

Tim Wolter said...

I do try to stay on topic when I wander through. And since David has opted to make the sex lives of Pols a topic of discussion I just have to ask....what the heck is going on?

Some weeks back when I mentioned Harvey Weinstein I got shouted down emphatically. He's an unsavory outlier. He is not relevant. It's an anecdote. Etc.

But we seem to have some kind of wave going now. Today Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor, the head of NPR all crashed. And Congressman Conyers reportedly is going to depart in January. Who will it be tomorrow?

The worlds of entertainment, journalism and politics (esp. of the D variety) seem so intertwined. It was surreal a few years back, watching Jon Stewart defend Anthony Weiner by saying "We used to be housemates. Trust me, he's not that big". Al Franken, a former SNL joke writer. The aformentioned Mr. Weinstein, a substantial D fundraiser.

So I ask again, what the heck is going on?

A Conservative view point would be that these "open secrets" have been protected for so long because of their political affiliation. The corollary to this would be that one unexpected benefit of H. Clinton's loss is that this kind of stuff is more likely to see the light of day.

Yes, some R politicians have also been brought down of late. But they seem to be fewer in number, and also seem to be tossed out with more dispatch. I would be willing to wager that when details of the settlement payments made by Congress in recent years are finally aired out that there will be far more D than R names on the list. The legacy of Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton.

But I could be wrong. Is this instead a concerted smear campaign by the Trump admin? Is there a file on everyone of note somewhere waiting to be dropped?

Sure makes Mike Pence - who took crap for refusing to be alone with any woman not Mrs. Pence - seem like the smartest guy in the room.

The Unforgivable Sin in American politics is hypocrisy. Plenty of karma coming around on that......plenty more ahead.

TW/Tacitus

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Tim
"I would be willing to wager that when details of the settlement payments made by Congress in recent years are finally aired out that there will be far more D than R names on the list."

I'll take that wager - what terms are you offering?

locumranch said...


It seems that Alfred drank the financial Kool-Aid, believing that the US Economy 'grew' up to 3% per year while neglecting a remarkable USD currency inflation rate of 3% per year. What a startling coincidence! Why does that 3% figure sound so familiar, I wonder?

Larry_H attempts to offer me 'true love' (with apologies to Katy_W) in an attempt at pacification. Sorry, no. Our wounds are just too deep, as I & at least 60 Million other divorced US males are quite familiar with that tired old bait & switch, so much so that 'pie in the sky' promises no longer cut it.

We see 24/7 how the West keeps its promises to successful males like Kevin Spacey, John Conyers, Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor & Geraldo Rivera. We also know the destruction of less famous 'privileged' males is so routine & commonplace that it never makes the news.

Only the offer of genuine 'privilege' -- yes, there's that objectionable word again -- will get most of us back to the table. Your promises to love, honour & respect are worthless to males, especially to military veterans, all of who commit suicide at a horrifying rate. Currency doesn't cut it, especially when any such payments are immediately subject to confiscatory taxation or outright theft in family court.

Think of that number, 60 Million, and realise that it represents almost 40% of the adult male US population total, and now look at Libya & Syria and realise that these countries ceased to exist when less than 10% of the male population took up arms.

So shame us some more with how good we've had it because race & gender. Now, give us the 'manhood challenge' & call us 'toxic rapists'. That'll bring us back to negotiating table at a lope. Not hardly.

It's now up to David & his neutered progressives to prove their salt.


Best

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Sure makes Mike Pence - who took crap for refusing to be alone with any woman not Mrs. Pence - seem like the smartest guy in the room."

I'm always deeply suspicious of any politician who makes that big a deal of his personal piety and probity. Some are sincere, but the smart money says they're phonies, and the exact opposite of what they're purporting to be.

David S said...

Gerrymandering is only a problem because it produces results that aren't representative of the population. So you could try to fix gerrymandering OR you could fix the system to produce representative results independent of drawn boarders. Sociotard's solution to greatly increase the size of the house certainly helps. Semi-proportional representation also helps. I'm drawn to combining existing districts into larger districts and then do multi-seat ranked choice voting.

Zepp Jamieson said...

One point on the GOP tax scam: they managed to pass a bill requiring the CBO to use "dynamic scoring" to assess the effects of the bill. Dynamic scoring is magical thinking: the CBO has to pretend that GOP assertions on how much the economy will grow are valid, and factor that into their projections. It's a bit like projecting the results of a sports events by determining what percentage of the crowd support each of the respective teams.
So when they say a $1.4 trillion deficit, that's based on 3% real growth, something that just ain't gonna happen.

David Brin said...

I hate it when I have to call a friend whom I like an outright liar. But Tim spewed a howler:

“Some weeks back when I mentioned Harvey Weinstein I got shouted down emphatically. He's an unsavory outlier. He is not relevant. It's an anecdote. Etc.”

Bull! What stunning malarkey and utter rationalized insipidity.

There ARE differences between rightwing and liberal sex scandals. (1) a markedly high proportion of the pedophile predators on children seem to have been republican. But far more significantly: (2) the liberals own up to it!

When the scandals hit a liberal, there appear to be immediate consequences. Franken and Conyers haven’t resigned, but the one has lost all committee power and the other is groveling for forgiveness. In sharp contrast, the right-wing pervs react with howling attacks upon their accusers, then dig in and refuse to admit a thing.

“Yes, some R politicians have also been brought down of late. But they seem to be fewer in number, and also seem to be tossed out with more dispatch.”

Stunning, absolutely stunning. TABULATE THIS ASSERTION, fellah. “Seem” is the operative word here.

Roger Ailes, Dennis “friend to boys” Hastert, Bill O’Reilly, Donald Trump, Roy Moore…. show us one who displayed the conscience of an adult. One.

But yes, I have used the "anecdote" accusation about other matters... when the right spews a generality about all liberals, then proves it with examples. This... is... not... one of those cases. The only generality here is that males need to be raised better. Oh, yes, and Republicans don't go after their own, when the icons betray them. Instead they circle the wagons.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Back around 1997 I wrote a piece suggesting that the HoR be expanded by 250 seats: keep the existing 435 as they were, but the new seats would be at-large, the top 250 vote getters nationally getting those seats.

Went nowhere, of course, but I'm glad to see the general concept being resurrected here.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | Inflation hasn't been around 3% for a while. February was close and 2011 was consistently over. Most of Obama's 2nd term was below 2% with 2015 being essentially 0%. Inflation didn't pick up into the 2%+ range until the 2016 election was over. I don't blame any politicians for that, though. The markets took off. Our willingness to spend did too. We are averaging near 2.1% this year.

You're not one of those guys who thinks a GDP growth of 2% and an inflation rate of 2% cancel, are you? Get thee to a classroom if you are. GDP growth rate IS connected to our fertility rate if you want something to ponder. When I was born, US mothers were producing us by the truck load. I think that growth rate alone was near 2%. That would be insane today.

Only the offer of genuine 'privilege' -- yes, there's that objectionable word again -- will get most of us back to the table.

Well... I was going to be tolerant of your pain. With a comment like that, though, I'm more inclined to tell you to go F yourself. However, I'm in a good mood, so I'll limit it to get over yourself. You aren't that important. No one is. You won't be part of a loving relationship until you find a way to love yourself. If you can't do that, the only women who will get near you are the desperate ones.

Alfred Differ said...

@Tim | A Conservative view point would be that these "open secrets" have been protected for so long because of their political affiliation.

I doubt it. That viewpoint might be partially correct, but it wouldn't really cover the protection certain Catholic priests got or any number of mundane bosses in the workforce.

I suspect the truth is rather simple. Many women didn't believe their actions would help them. Many believed, instead, that telling the truth as they saw it would harm them. That's why the Weinstein thing is such a big deal. Beliefs among many women changed. Once a few did it, an avalanche occurred. At least half the women I know have put up with a guy doing something that would make my blood boil enough to get violent with those guys had I been close enough to act. Most of the other half have dealt with the more mundane form of verbal aggression. That doesn't get me as upset, but it does tempt me to offer each woman a big wooden spoon with a suggestion to spank the child next time. Yah. I know that wouldn't work.

While I'd love to help knock a few heads together, I'd much rather try to convince the guys around me to knock it off. Life is much more pleasant when the women like us. 8)

Everything seems to be about politics this year, but I think this particular subject has been waiting to explode since the 70's. Some of the promises of the time failed to materialize and reactionaries reversed some of the progress made. Well... pendulums swing in both directions, but this one feels more like a double pendulum. Loads of fun to predict and you don't want to be near the bottom one as it goes by sometimes. Thwack!

Tim Wolter said...

Duncan
I think the only viable currency here is bragging rights. As the Congressional settlements are for assorted matters, not all salacious, and go back over twenty years they are probably a mixed bag. I doubt we will get any full accounting.

David
You are being testy. I forgive you, these are difficult times to be Progressive.

My final point on hypocrisy could be expanded upon.

Claiming to be fiscally responsible then blowing up the budget for the next decade is hypocrisy on a very high level. It is going to have consequences far beyond these sordid daily news items. But claiming to be Progressive, a friend of feminist causes, and then being an abuser.....it gets attention and rightly so. At least some good to society will perhaps come of it.

My question remains. Is this a purely organic phenomena? Is it orchestrated by forces opposed to the Democrats or to the Clinton faction therein? Is it a failing of deflector shields no longer able to function in the information age?

This is our society, or at least part of it. Our elites seem to be earning some of the scorn that has been dogging them.

TW/Tacitus

Tim H. said...

I'd say that we've reached a critical mass of women who've had enough of men who use positions of authority to gain access to women who otherwise wouldn't give them a second look. Clinton bashing has been a popular GOP sport for decades, but it's practitioners neglect to check their own eyes for motes, splinters beams and modest deciduous forests, my expectations there's a lot festering unseen and the GOP has been reluctant to lance the boil.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Larry_H attempts to offer me 'true love' (with apologies to Katy_W)


Heh. Would I do something like that?

More accurate would be to say that I offered her a chance at the company that misery loves so much.

Even more accurately, I was trying to suggest that she sounds too much like you, and that maybe she doesn't intend or want to.

Paul SB said...

Tim,

When you ask if this issue is "organic" in nature, I assume you are not making a middle-school level pun and are seriously asking if there is something inherent in human nature about powerful men harassing powerless women and/or children. Human nature is something that most people assume they understand, but generally the assumptions they make don't even adequately explain themselves, much less other people. And more often than not, they mostly use it to excuse bad behavior. But before I go into an explanation of instinct and culture, let's think about this hypocrisy thing again. Democrats mostly claim to support equal rights, so when they use their power to victimize others (women or otherwise, sexually or otherwise) the hypocrisy is despicable (I prefer the Daffy Duck word over the Hillary Clinton word). But when Republicans do it, being conservative, and conservative values being effectively throwbacks to the past, when society ran off of inequality, they justify it any way they can. Is this any better than the hypocrisy of people who say the right thing then do the wrong? Both are equally dishonest. I'm not sure you can say they are not usually despicable.

Tim Wolter said...

Paul SB

I would never stoop to middle school level puns.

But, mea culpa, "testy" was indeed a pun. You caught me.

The word btw has nothing to do with testes, although there is a certain resonance here. It wanders back to our mosaic floor analogy of last week.

Tesserae were the little bits of broken pottery used to make mosaics. Apparently by extention a pot, especially a cracked one, became a testa. Since heads and Roman pots looked a bit alike the term slipped sideways linguistically. Even today one phrase for headache in Italian is "mal de testa".*

Saying David was being testy does not mean I consider him a crackpot (that's a later invention anyway but must have some etymologic connection). Testy comes from the French "testu" and means, more or less stubborn and headstrong. I suspect he would take that as a compliment.

So.....at least High School level pun. Given the state of modern education, probably Grad school level.

TW/Tacitus

*Mario, feel free to correct me. I know it is only one such phrase...Italians seem to have a hypochondriac streak!

Tim H. said...

tor.com discusses the handiwork of OGH:
https://www.tor.com/2017/11/30/dolphins-and-chimps-and-aliens-oh-my-startide-rising-by-david-brin/

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter/Tacitus2 (long response coming, probably in many parts) :

And since David has opted to make the sex lives of Pols a topic of discussion...


I believe the topic has risen to that level by itself. From Captain America #177 (September 1974), "It's not a question of 'letting', Mister!"


Some weeks back when I mentioned Harvey Weinstein I got shouted down emphatically. He's an unsavory outlier. He is not relevant. It's an anecdote. Etc.


Caveat emptor, I don't remember the exact conversation, and this blog doesn't make content-based searches easy. My sense is that what was shouted down was that a Hollywood producer reflects upon the Democratic Party as much (or as you seem to assert, even moreso) as the actual elected policymakers reflect on the Republican Party.


But we seem to have some kind of wave going now. Today Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillor, the head of NPR all crashed. And Congressman Conyers reportedly is going to depart in January. Who will it be tomorrow?

The worlds of entertainment, journalism and politics (esp. of the D variety) seem so intertwined.


See, I think this is why you get pushback that you perceive as shouting down. No mention of Roy Moore? Bill O'Reilly? Roger Ailes? Donald Trump? If Poppy Bush wasn't so harmless and infirm, he'd be getting more s### about "David Cop-a-feel".

Maybe these are all yesterday's news, but your leaving them out of the list of offenders in order to demonstrate that the problem is Democrats--the silence is awkwardly deafening.

continued...

Paul SB said...

Tim,

I had my suspicions, but having spent so many years dealing with the more immature members of society, my suspicions trend in that direction by habit, so a bit of a mea culpa there, too. I think I once came up with a quasi-clever term for this.

Okay, now for Motivation 101, to get us out of adolescence. Let's start with the neuroscience. Whenever we get something that was better than average in some way, neurons in the Ventro-Tegmental Area in the relatively primitive midbrain start dumping dopamine into the Nucleus Accumbens, the so-called reward area of the brain. This creates a positive association with the stimulus and initiates craving for more of it. We do not have an instinct, for instance, to eat chocolate, but we do have an instinct to eat carbohydrates. When you took your very first bite of chocolate, your tongue and olfactory bulbs detected the sugar in it, sent the information to the VTA, and the VTA started dumping dopamine into the NA. Now any time you see, smell or even think about chocolate, your VTA starts dumping dopamine into the NA, causing you too crave it. This is a fundamental about how humans (and all other animals) do anything. We are programmed by instincts to seek things our bodies need, but those things can come in many different forms, so the VTA exists to identify the things that give us the most of whatever we need and drive us to seek more.

This is exactly how addiction happens. The difference between normal motivation and addiction is when you overstimulate a normal craving, causing the development of tolerance for the stimulus. This happens very commonly with drugs, but can also happen with more ordinary things like chocolate. Obesity, then, is an addictive behavior. Someone went to the all-you-can-eat buffet one time too many, somebody binged on first-person shooter games one weekend too many, somebody play the slots too often, whacked off to porn one time too many, etc. How much is too much varies from person to person. No doctor can prescribe a specific safe dose of flattery or self-righteous indignation. (Think about Dr. Brin's indignation addiction idea - the instinct that is being over indulged is the human need for attention and approval - if someone spouts angry rhetoric and other people respond positively to it, there goes the VTA.)

So let's think about these sex scandals in terms of the VTA. Addiction specialists use the term "Supernormal Stimulation" to refer to anything that stimulates the VTA way beyond what was normally available to our prehistoric ancestors who evolved these instincts in the first place. Cocaine is an SNS because of how it increases the effectiveness of dopamine, thus it is easy to get addicted to. Our ancestors had to run around and work for their calories, but today we just go through the drive-through and get more calories in one meal than our ancestors could get in a day. So junk food is a SuperNormal Stimulator. Now look at power. Our ancestors were pretty egalitarian. Social roles were fluid and no one really exercised coercive power over anyone else. Today we have classes of people who have supernormal access to coercive power, be they managers, preachers or politicians. Sex is a very powerful instinctive drive, but the power to coerce it is an SNS. People who get power very easily become addicted to it.

I'm off to work, but I'll be back ...

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:
(...continued)


It was surreal a few years back, watching Jon Stewart defend Anthony Weiner by saying "We used to be housemates. Trust me, he's not that big".


Embarrassing, yes. Remember, though, that what Weiner did (IIRC) was not rape or touching or clandestine recordings of nudity. It was inappropriate sending of pictures of his own naked self. And he's in jail. Conyers is stepping down (and likely resigning) over a failed attempt at seduction. I haven't seen details on Garrison Keillior, but it sounds as if his great sin was hugging a woman in a comforting situation (something I could easily be convicted for myself).

Democrats--I'll give you Bill Clinton, but otherwise--do suffer consequences from their own side when their failings are discovered. Republicans get celebrated and re-elected (or elected the first time) in spite of (or to some extent because of) their ability to piss off liberals and to vote for corporatist policies.

What I'm saying is, if you're trying to make this purely a "What's up with Democrats?" issue, you have to explain why the even worse examples of Republicans don't count. Leaving them off of the list isn't sufficient.

>
Al Franken, a former SNL joke writer. The aformentioned Mr. Weinstein, a substantial D fundraiser.


The rash of comedians in the same situaion: Bill Cosby and Louis CK come immediately to mind, seems to be more relevant to Al Franken than his politics does. What seems to be coming to light is that that profession was rife with misogyny and rape culture.


So I ask again, what the heck is going on?


A sea change, obviously. Misogyny and rape culture are becoming socially unacceptable, just as anti-Semitism did after Hitler.

(continued...)

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:
(...continued)


A Conservative view point would be that these "open secrets" have been protected for so long because of their political affiliation. The corollary to this would be that one unexpected benefit of H. Clinton's loss is that this kind of stuff is more likely to see the light of day.


A more plausible (to me) point would be that powerful men are accorded the privileges that powerful men typically presume for themselves. That "Boys will be boys" and "You have to go along to get along" and "That's how the game is played". It's the same attitude that says we have to give concessions to corporations and billionaires in order to have benefits trickle down to the rest of us. In other words, "a Conservative view point."

Yes, some R politicians have also been brought down of late. But they seem to be fewer in number, and also seem to be tossed out with more dispatch.


Words fail me.

Yes, O'Reilly and Ailes were fired, but it was like pulling teeth. Roy Moore is likely to be elected and is defended by the same evangelicals who support Mike Pence, saying that 14-year old girls are marrigeable as if Moore was marrying them. Donald Trump admitted to boorish behavior and stalked a woman like a gorilla on tv, and he's living in the White House and appointing federal judges.

Matt Lauer, Garrison Keillior, Keven Spacey, Harvey Weinstein et all became punchlines and pariahs and disappeared into Night and Fog. Louis CK was gone before I had ever heard of him.


I would be willing to wager that when details of the settlement payments made by Congress in recent years are finally aired out that there will be far more D than R names on the list. The legacy of Ted Kennedy and Bill Clinton.


Not to mention JFK? Maybe Democrats settle and Republicans only bully and threaten? I can't speak to "settlement payments", but I would wager that, after the fashion of those now saying "Every woman has experienced some form of sexual harrassment", that every powerful man has probably engaged in some form thereof (all exceptions duly noted in both cases).

(continued...)

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter: (...conclusion)

One issue you brush aside is, as Norman Goldman puts it, "What punishment fits the crime?" Unless there are more salacious details, Garrison Kellior seems hardly worthy of more than an admonition to "Be more careful about physical contact". Al Franken seems to be a lesson in not elevating a bawdy, offensive tv personality to public office. The ones who coerced, threatened, and forced women and boys to endure sexual intrusion upon their persons seem to be the more wealthy and powerful men.


But I could be wrong. Is this instead a concerted smear campaign by the Trump admin? Is there a file on everyone of note somewhere waiting to be dropped?


I'd think more shadowy and powerful players than the Trump administration. And I agree that there's probably a file on just about everyone.


Sure makes Mike Pence - who took crap for refusing to be alone with any woman not Mrs. Pence - seem like the smartest guy in the room.

The Unforgivable Sin in American politics is hypocrisy.


I think that is why Pence looks ridiculous. Not because he insulates himself from sexual impropriety, but because that is supposed to be more important than the un-Christ-like policies he institutes (as governor) or supports in the Trump administration. He reminds me of lapsed Catholics who are ok with divorce and abortion, but wouldn't dream of eating meat on Friday during Lent.


Plenty of karma coming around on that......plenty more ahead.


Yeah, that's pretty obviously the case.

Here's my bottom line. Where you see the accusations against Republicans and the defense of Democrats as purely political, I see the other way around. When Democrats are outed in these cases, their supporters are conflicted. "Can I support that behavior, even when not doing so harms us politically?" Republicans, OTOH, barely ask the question except to immediately answer rhetorically, "Is that a trick question? Of course I can!" It concerns me that you see the former as political and the latter as somehow different. It seems like the old bias I've been ranting about for years, that rules and decorum are meant to constrain liberals, and violation in the service of conservatism is no vice.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Back around 1997 I wrote a piece suggesting that the HoR be expanded by 250 seats: keep the existing 435 as they were, but the new seats would be at-large, the top 250 vote getters nationally getting those seats.


I'm to lazy to look it up right now, but I'm thinking that would require a Constitutional Amendment. Like most solutions of that type, it runs up against the fact that the mechanism for passage gives effective veto power to the states who benefit the most from keeping things as they are.

Tim Wolter said...

Larry

Gotta run myself....class and all.

It would be rather ghoulishly interesting to compile a list of Powerful Men who have recently been hit with this sort of allegation.
I'd stick to politically prominent folks as the issue is not whether people are often icky, but the extent to which our society is run by ickier than average leaders.
It is harder to judge which end of the political spectrum these ne'er do wells really exist..sometimes people talk one way and vote another.
Cosby has a reputation for being towards the Conservative end of things. Spacey towards the Progressive.
You'd probably have to be a little judgmental and rank the severity of known offense. I am perhaps a bit too forgiving of GHB, at present he is damn near 100 and a WWII hero to boot. But if this was de rigeuer for his younger self (Damn it all, I'm punning again) I would factor that in.
Are Ailes and Weinstein similar creatures from opposite poles? A fair assessment.
You'd also have to look at some of the Pre-emptive Mea Culpas being deployed. Some guy down in Texas is 'fessing up and victim blaming of late...but it is hard to keep track.

I'm not a Republican remember. I'm a conservative. I'll call anybody who abuses power what they are. Are some worse than others? Yes. Are some more surprising than others? Again, yes.

Running (but for damn sure not for office)

TW/Tacitus

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH "I'm to lazy to look it up right now, but I'm thinking that would require a Constitutional Amendment."

I thought so too at the time I wrote that, but I'm not so sure. I discovered that prior to 1967, some states with more than one rep did elect general at-large representatives. And the basic requirements of representation would remain in place.

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:

My final point on hypocrisy could be expanded upon.

Claiming to be fiscally responsible then blowing up the budget for the next decade is hypocrisy on a very high level. It is going to have consequences far beyond these sordid daily news items. But claiming to be Progressive, a friend of feminist causes, and then being an abuser.....it gets attention and rightly so. At least some good to society will perhaps come of it.


Ok I see what you're saying. Democrats are more hypocritical on this issue because they claim to be feminists. Republicans at least are not betraying their principles of support for the wealthy, powerful, and bullying.

I didn't mean that sarcastically. The fact that it sounds bad speaks for itself, but I wasn't trying to paint you in a bad light.

But you're leaving something out. Republicans also claim to be family-values Christians, or at least Judeo-Christians. And many of their supporters style themselves as Christians, even moreso than the politicians themselves. And so on those principles, child-molesting and disrespect of womanhood are indeed hypocrisies on the R's part.


This is our society, or at least part of it. Our elites seem to be earning some of the scorn that has been dogging them.


Yeah, and if they don't learn soon, it will be 1789 all over again. And by that, I don't mean a new Constitutional Convention.

"Ca ira!"

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

LH "I'm to lazy to look it up right now, but I'm thinking that would require a Constitutional Amendment."

I thought so too at the time I wrote that, but I'm not so sure. I discovered that prior to 1967, some states with more than one rep did elect general at-large representatives. And the basic requirements of representation would remain in place.


I might have misunderstood your suggestion. Allowing representatives to be elected at large within the state is probably doable right now. I thought you meant at-large nationally.

Anonymous said...

Small states that have 5 or fewer representatives should elect all them in a single multi-winner ranked choice election. Larger states should still be broken up into districts (so the districts still represent "local" representation) that would elect 3-5 representatives. So a state with 6 seats creates two districts, each electing three. California which has 53 representatives creates 10 five seat districts plus 1 three seat district.

Smurphs said...

Tim said:
Claiming to be fiscally responsible then blowing up the budget for the next decade is hypocrisy on a very high level. It is going to have consequences

Why? Seriously why? This has been the GOP playbook since 1980; blow up the deficit, wait 4/8 years, then blame the Democrats.

It's been going on for 38 years now, and working perfectly. Just what consequences are you expecting? Of course, this time will be different, right?

raito said...

Tim Wolter,

'The worlds of entertainment, journalism and politics (esp. of the D variety) seem so intertwined.'

Of course they are. Because success in those are based on "look-at-me!". And because of that, tend to attract people with similar personalities. You can add professional athletics to the list, too.

Darrell E said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
locumranch said...


When David becomes a little 'testy', he tends to accuse the unhappy unwashed confederate masses of INGRATITUDE after reminding them how they are so lucky to live in the greatest, richest, safest, most comfortable, most equal, most liberal, most privileged, most successful & most technologically advanced society in human history. What he fails to realise, however, is that every dodecahedron has at least two sides.

Tim_H attributes the current rash of sexual harassment claims to "women who've had enough of men who use positions of authority to gain access to women who otherwise wouldn't give them a second look". These women are UNHAPPY -- and, apparently, their female unhappiness is catastrophe that demands immediate correction & social sympathy -- even though these women (who live in the greatest, richest, safest, most comfortable, most equal, most liberal, most privileged, most successful, most technologically advanced & most female friendly society in human history) display tremendous entitlement & ingratitude.

But, if a male, a confederate, a person of assumed 'privilege, dispreferred gender or dispreferred race dare express 'unhappiness' about their desires & their current lot in life, then they are dismissed as liars & ingrates and condemned as the vilest of entitled '-ist' scum ever to exist.

Well, right back at you:

We've had enough of your entitled gynocentric Blue Urban Progressive INGRATITUDE; Ingratitude begets Ingratitude; and, payback is a bitch.


Best
____

One solution to gerrymandering would be to cut every state into equal-sized geographic squares & give each square equal say during state elections, but progressive urbanites wouldn't like that because that they all huddle together in cities that take-up less than 20% of the country, geographically speaking.

@Alfred: Insomuch as US fertility has been at or below replacement rates for decades, please explain this so-called 'connection' between fertility rate & economic growth. According to Investopedia, "An economic growth rate is a measure of economic growth from one period to another in percentage terms. This measure does not adjust for inflation; it is expressed in nominal terms. In practice, it is a measure of the rate of change that a nation's gross domestic product (GDP) goes through from one year to another, but gross national product (GNP) can also be used if a nation's economy depends heavily on foreign earnings."

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Smurphs:

Well, the consequences ultimately will be of the type known as “default”, “collapse of credit”, “economic shock”, and at the last, “failed state”. The puzzle is to stop this feedback cycle before any of that.

The solution, I am rather certain, must involve a mass appreciation of why the New Deal still matters. Remember, we now have an electorate that cannot remember America without the New Deal, and therefore takes it for granted. The entire GOP fiscal playbook is based on the assumption that this is the Immovable Object that they can chip away at forever, and that the Democrats will always play defense. This lets them retain initiative. The one exception has been Obamacare, and you’ve seen the vitriolic reaction that provoked.

Since they have, with the “Cut Cut Cut Act”, actually put on the floor the first step in the decades-planned dismantlement of the New Deal... we have to make the case anew for why it was ever built in the first place.

I think the way to do that is to use Plutarch’s Parallel Lives as a model. Make side-by-side comparisons between people with similar stories in the Great Depression and today. The only people still alive that remember those days, even as children, are now in their nineties or more.

I hear plenty of nonsense from the right about how much better private means of pension insurance, old-age benefits, bank regulation, land management, etc. would be. The reason we do not adopt those is that they once existed — the “vision” passed down in the Republixan Party is of the regulatory era of the 1880’s-1910’s, and included most of the elements they now espouse. Sometime between 1918 and 1933, They All Failed. And we need to SAY that, loudly and clearly; and the way to do that is to personalize it and link it to the common man today. Just as Lin-Manuel Miranda showed us the era of the Founders as cognate to the world of today, we must see ourselves in our grandparents, and know that their troubles were our troubles.

From that viewpoint, THEN we can talk about modifying New Deal structures to do the job better, seeing where they failed to stop the same problems, and where they worked as intended. But first we must know that these things were not built from idealistic premises by brainless socialistic zombies or evil masterminds of bureaucratic tyranny. It was a last-ditch Hail Mary to prevent fascism or communism from claiming the last best hope of Earth — and it WORKED.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@locum: well of course if the principle of this country becomes “One Acre, One Vote” your proposal would be appropriate. While we’re at it, we can change the chamber names to “House of Lords” and “House of Commons”, because this is more in tune with the 18th-century representation scheme of Great Britain — tilted to “landed interests” of rural Gentry over commercial interests of cities — than anything the Founders intended.

I’d be happy to sing the praises of all positive things handed down to us by traditional-male-roles, monogamous heterosexual nuclear families, rural American culture (particularly the Scots-Irish line that makes up so much of characteristic ‘country’ culture), the traditions of 19th- and early 20th-century white America, the “dead white males” of European history, Western philosophy and the concept of Western civilization, the Bible and the Judaic and varied Christian traditions, and the experience of the frontier. I am dead serious. There is an unbelievable wealth in there and it is and should be a large chunk of what makes any American an American.

And I can partner with conservatives in that — the second they acknowledge me and all my fellow-traveling progressives as their a-priori equals as Thomas Jefferson (somewhat hypocritically) wrote they were. Then we can move to good-faith actions by both sides to establish that respect and trust. And from that we can get to being fellow citizens again.

But as long as people like Roy Moore can deny human rights, as long as civilians can be harassed, jailed, stolen from, spied upon, and killed at the hands of cops with little consequence; as long as we have politicians to refuse to link evidence with action and cause with effect.... how can we even talk?

If you have decided to try to make us your social and legal inferiors, rather than equal citizens in common cause, then our discussions cannot be those of fellow citizens. Instead they are diplomatic relations between the Union and the Confederacy.

Darrell E said...

Catfish N. Cod,

Regarding your comment at 8:24, you nailed it, +1, "what you said," etc..

Darrell E said...

LarryHart said...

"But you're leaving something out. Republicans also claim to be family-values Christians, or at least Judeo-Christians. And many of their supporters style themselves as Christians, even moreso than the politicians themselves. And so on those principles, child-molesting and disrespect of womanhood are indeed hypocrisies on the R's part."

I understand what you are saying and it is definitely a good point. Many Christians, particularly modern day "liberal" sects, ignore most of the Bible and their religion's history and claim that Christianity mandates ethical standards in line with more modern ethical standards when clearly, per the Bible and past history, it does not. More power to them. Such heresies are a big plus in my opinion.

But if you are really a believer, if you really think the Bible is the word (and you've read the whole thing), then you aren't being hypocritical if you treat women and children like 2nd class citizens, or less. Christianity is after all a product of the time in which it originated. And plenty of good Christian women wouldn't begrudge their male betters their privileges.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I did mean nationally, but I suspect you're probably correct, and it would have to be state-by-state.

LarryHart said...

Darrell E:

But if you are really a believer, if you really think the Bible is the word (and you've read the whole thing), then you aren't being hypocritical if you treat women and children like 2nd class citizens, or less. Christianity is after all a product of the time in which it originated. And plenty of good Christian women wouldn't begrudge their male betters their privileges.


Ok, but are you really asserting that good Christians (men and women alike) consider Donald Trump to be an appropriate role model?

When Republicans run on family values or Christian values, they generally mean that they worship at the altar of traditional two-parent families--a mother and a father, monogamous, heterosexual, Church on Sunday, that sort of thing. Tim Wolter is correct that Mike Pence is kind of their quintessential example. Pursuing under-age girls, groping women, and insulting them is a different thing, in fact the opposite thing from the values these politicians run on--the values they claim makes them superior to evil Democrats.

Now if I wanted to go there, I could argue that for all their feminism, Democrats are also the party of sexual liberty, so the fact that they practice what they preach is not as bad as "family values" Republicans being caught in the act of fornication or adultery. I'm not buying that argument, but it carries as much weight as "Republicans are at least consistent because they never claimed to respect women in the first place." Not to mention that Donald Trump actually did: "No one respects women more than I do!"

David Brin said...

“You are being testy. I forgive you, these are difficult times to be Progressive.”

Urgh, you really are a rascal, Tim, trying your very hardest to provoke! You lil devil.

“Claiming to be fiscally responsible then blowing up the budget for the next decade is hypocrisy on a very high level”

Name one issue in which conservatism has NOT gone hypocritical and insane? An exception would be welcome. One.

“My question remains. Is this a purely organic phenomena? Is it orchestrated by forces opposed to the Democrats or to the Clinton faction therein? Is it a failing of deflector shields no longer able to function in the information age?

Ah, I see. It is wishful thinking! You actually, actually imagine that the unveiling and punishing of past sexual misdeeds by some liberals has POLITICAL implications? OMG you are reaching hard, friend. From those deserving wrist-slaps - like Franken - to those deserving prison - like Weinstein - all this shows is house-cleaning. There are no policy implications and no effects politically, because among democrats house… cleaning… happens.

Show us GOP willing housecleaning,

As for the much better question about “inherency…” well, think. For 6000 years, males who attained power also got ‘privileges.” We are all descended from the harems of guys who pulled that off. If you were raised well, you learned self-control. More men will practice self-control via the other method… deterrence.

Me? A crackpot? Your delusions are psycho-ceramic!

And despite being riled (a little ) by your deliberate tweaking, I still would send money if your rascal ass ran for office!

David Brin said...



in contrast, locum:

“But, if a male, a confederate, a person of assumed 'privilege, dispreferred gender or dispreferred race dare express 'unhappiness' about their desires & their current lot in life, then they are dismissed as liars & ingrates and condemned as the vilest of entitled '-ist' scum ever to exist.”

No, sir. I call you an ingrate because you are one. I call you a liar because you lie incessantly, especially about things you strawman-declare that I “believe,” (as you just did.)

You left out “hysterical” and “delusional” and “fact-hating” and incapable of comprehending alternative perspectives… and hence incapable of negotiation.

And yet… I engage. There’s something worthwhile down in there. I sense it.

Antonym said...

The GOP ideology of Nullification, i.e. dismantling anything with Obama's name on it, will come to bite them in the tukus. A proper blue wave can enact anti-anti-democratic reforms that would become self-supporting. Then when we have the power they have now, we can act without bothering to concern ourselves with "continuity" between the next Democratic administration and this one. Conservative judges can be impeached and there is nothing in the Constitution forbids President Professor Warren from increasing the Supreme Court to 11 justices.

If we are in the midst of a new Cold Civil War, then we have to fight like we mean it.

-AtomicZeppelinMan

Darrell E said...

LarryHart said...

"Ok, but are you really asserting that good Christians (men and women alike) consider Donald Trump to be an appropriate role model?"

I'm really not sure where that came from or what you are asking. First off I'd need to know what you mean by the term "good Christians." I'm sure that a very large majority of Christians would claim to be good Christians. 2nd off, I don't know where Trump came from. But answering the question straight up? Yes, I claim that some number of self proclaimed Good Christians would consider Trump to be a good role model. Though I didn't say anything like that.

What I did say, much shorter, is that treating women & children like shit, by current standards in most wealthy Western societies is perfectly in line with what is in the Bible and was the norm in most Christian groups for nearly all of Christian history. And that modern, liberal Christians that deny that, and mean it, are thereby committing heresy. Which I think is awesome and I hope eventually they all do.

The part about how politicians in modern times spouting family values and the like aren't really being hypocritical was an attempt at sarcastic humor. But I would clarify further. From the outside it looks exactly like hypocrisy. But internally it looks more like propaganda, or maybe camouflage.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin and Tacitus:

“You are being testy. I forgive you, these are difficult times to be Progressive.”

Urgh, you really are a rascal, Tim, trying your very hardest to provoke! You lil devil.


Sigh. I'm reminded of the Simpsons episode where baseball player Steve Sax gets pulled over by the police, and every innocent little remark escalates the response.


You just don't know when to keep your mouth shut, do you Saxie-boy?"

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin to locumranch:

No, sir. I call you an ingrate because you are one. I call you a liar because you lie incessantly,


That goes without saying.


And yet… I engage. There’s something worthwhile down in there. I sense it.


That was the plot of "Return of the Jedi".

LarryHart said...

Darrell E:

What I did say, much shorter, is that treating women & children like shit, by current standards in most wealthy Western societies is perfectly in line with what is in the Bible and was the norm in most Christian groups for nearly all of Christian history.


I think I understand what you are asserting. I guess what I'm wondering is whether the particular ways that Donald Trump treats women like shit would be met with approval by those historical Christian groups or by those who follow what the Bible really says, even if they did approve of (and practice) treating women like shit in other ways.

locumranch said...


Catfish's suggestion about assuming A Priori Equality for Everyone (as Thomas Jefferson supposedly suggested) is problematic for a number of reasons, the first being that Thomas Jefferson wasn't referring to 'everyone' being equal but only to educated worldly white male landowners of European extraction who were HIS equals, the second being that such 'equality' was an acknowledged legal fiction for the purposes of jurisprudence rather than any kind of legislated reality, the third being a heavy emphasis on the the meritocratic concept of individual merit, achievement & self-actualisation, the fourth being that said potential equality applied only to the attempt (as in 'the pursuit of Happiness') but was not intended as a guarantee or an argument in favour of outcome equality, and the fifth being that said Equality applied only to US citizens (his equals as defined above) but not to non-Europeans, non-citizens, the mentally disabled & those considered incapable of ever achieving an equality of outcomes.

Among others, Thomas Jefferson would be absolutely horrified by the prevalence of our current 'Animal Farm' definition of Equality which simultaneously assumes (1) Equality divorced from Merit, (2) Equal A Priori Merit, (3) Cultural Equality, (4) the 'Superior Virtue of the Oppressed' argument, (5) Equality of Outcome and (6) Unequal Equality wherein SOME are believed 'More Equal' than Others.

Women (in general) fall into the 'More Equal' category as they possess Equal Rights while receiving extra 'empowerment', fewer responsibilities and all the protections afforded to those who lack maturity, moral agency & mental capacity: They are either 'strong independent womyn' who are 'more than equal' to any man (yet are somehow incapable of lying & other masculine failings); or they are poor wittle defenseless victims of da Evil Patriarchy who need the unlimited do-overs, indulgences, protections & entitlements that only a doting Daddy Government can provide; and, when they embrace their role as Entitled Cry-Bullies, they are often BOTH at the same time.

Of course, this manipulative behaviour is NOT unique to women -- you've seen your little brother, sister & various designated victims attempt it frequently -- it's called 'Damseling':

(1) The Aggressor provokes & then claims innocence on the basis of youth, gender, physical incapacity or institutional bias;
(2) The Aggressor emotes, tears flow & their distress is greatly exaggerated;
(3) The Aggressor and/or Victim -- these are paired roles -- appeals to Parental Authority;
(4) Parental Authority (aka 'Government') assigns blame & attempts to restore 'Equality';
(5) One or both and every party involved receives 'Correction';
(6) Appropriate correction emboldens the Victim & misplaced correction emboldens the Aggressor; and
(7) The situation escalates as long as the Appeal to Parental Authority remains effective.

It doesn't take an Astrophysicist to know that this Damseling Game is going to end badly for all concerned, as those of you with siblings and/or children doubtless know. Escalation often leads to escalating correction; the odds of catastrophic loss increase with every correction for everyone involved, including Aggressor, Victim & Parent; and the only way to win this foolish game is 'Not To Play'.


Best
____

The Damseling Game ties in nicely with David's 'Indignation Addiction'. Insert your favorite religion, ethnicity & political affiliation into whichever role (Aggressor; Victim; Parent) you prefer, and realise that's how all-of-us got to where to we are at this particular moment in political spacetime.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@locum: To your first and fifth points, I did mention Jefferson was being a hypocrite when he wrote it. Apparently you skimmed over that. The second through the fourth were what I meant by 'a priori'. You are pushing against an open door.

I gave you a whole heaping helping of willingness to assert shared values & truths, with only one condition completely compatible with Enlightenment discussion, or indeed with the more ancient Christian proposition that every soul is equally loved in the sight of Divinity regardless of its deeds or misdeeds. I offered it knowing that anyone interested in building a common society that bridges differences would take it up. You did not disappoint: you ignored everything except the one point of contention, and then constructed an elaborate argument that boils down to "questioning authority is disruptive to society, therefore it should not be done."

Which is, in essence, the fundamental argument of all reactionism. Stay quiet. Accept your place in society. Acknowledge that the current social order is the only possible social order. Genuflect before your self-declared betters and the golden calf of Mammon.

Equality of outcome should not be the goal. Equality of opportunity is the goal, yet locum and a large fraction of our (still, for the moment) fellow citizens persist in disbelief that the winners did not achieve by 'fair competition' and 'merit' when both fairness and merit are defined by the winners themselves! Any evidence to the contrary is denounced as a self-serving attempt to change the rules in their favor, and never mind that the denouncement is exactly as self-serving.

The only way any competition-- sports, courts, markets, whatever-- is fair is if all competitors agree to the rules, with sufficient transparency for all to see the fairness or unfairness in action. Fair here does not denote morality (though it can often be bound up with ethics and morals); it denotes accuracy in determining merit.

How we are to judge the fairness of a competition, or its rules, or its keepers, without looking at the results is beyond me. It's like trying to evaluate football judges without checking to make sure the rulings don't all go in favor of the same team.

But never mind testing for fairness of the rule-keepers, or even fairness of the rules. Now we reach the point of questioning rules themselves, or even the possibility of keeping score. Regularity becomes pointless as one team steals signals, runs out of bounds, kicks below the belt, and spikes the ball, all to achieve 'victory'. Any retaliation by the other team is called 'crybaby' behavior, or 'damseling', or else an excuse to break more rules because 'he started it' or 'everyone does it'.

Locum is actually right in that you can't resolve the problem with Parental Authority. Unless the parent actually catches the children in the act (infrequent), there's no real way to tell who is right and who is wrong. Each child's friends will take their side, not on the basis of any evidence, but solely for the tribal bonds of friendship.

But trying 'Not To Play' doesn't solve it either, as anyone who has ever known a bully can confess. You can try to de-escalate, to live your life apart, but the bully will not stop as long as you and he share a classroom, schoolyard, or neighborhood. Hiding won't work.

Nothing will work until you two come to an agreement or understanding. Fair agreements, of course, can only be made between equals. And the whole point of bullying is to define the victim as inferior.

So you deal with the bully the only way they can be dealt with: standing up to them and denying their power over you; and if necessary, giving them a bloody nose to get them to listen.

I have been hoping our national discourse is not going to reach the bloody-nose stage but I am no longer terribly hopeful about that.

David Brin said...

Dang. He actually strung words together in an argument that tracked! It's still astonishing howls of self-pity and exaggeration. But a definite improvement.

Paul SB said...

Darrell & Larry,

The two of you are arguing from a different set of assumptions. Darrell is arguing from an ideal - that people who call themselves Christian should actually behave the way their book tells them to. Larry is arguing from the more cynical but more accurate view that a majority of Christians are hypocritical regarding their supposed values and really treat religion as a superficial members-only social club. Both viewpoints have their role to play, and they are not at all incompatible with each other. The one thing I would remind you is that the ideals given in their holy book are internally inconsistent and subject to constant reinterpretation by every generation and every interested faction within each generation, which means that there really is no single set of universal rules applicable to all members of the species.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

Darrell is arguing from an ideal - that people who call themselves Christian should actually behave the way their book tells them to. Larry is arguing from the more cynical but more accurate view that a majority of Christians are hypocritical regarding their supposed values and really treat religion as a superficial members-only social club


I have done so on other occasions, but that wasn't my point this time.

This discussion began when I responded to Tim/Tacitus's statement that Democrats harrassing women were more hypocritical than Republicans because feminism is a core Democratic value. I responded back that Christian "family values" is a core Republican value, so the violation is equally hypocritical from that side.

This has nothing to do with whether those family-values Christians deserve the name Christians because it's not really in the Bible. My point wasn't about Christianity per se, but about the values that Republicans run on--whatever they're named.

I'm willing to have a separate discussion with Darrell E over whether Jesus approves of grabbing by the pussy, but that is a separate discussion.

Paul SB said...

I put my brain science post up this morning, went to work, and now I am home it seems no one commented on it. Maybe I'm just boring people, or maybe they don't see the relevance of neuroscience to a sociopolitical discussion or what it might have to do with the current string of sexual misconduct allegations. But there was a point, and a few people have made their own points which I can tie in. I'll just do one, since I tend to overdo it here most of the time.

So Raito said:
"Of course they are. Because success in those are based on "look-at-me!". And because of that, tend to attract people with similar personalities. You can add professional athletics to the list, too."

This was a good point, along the lines of that old Brin quote that it is not that power corrupts, but that power attracts the corruptible. The kind of people who are attracted to politics, business, the entertainment industry and athletics tend to be people who are either to the right of the mean on the dopamine curve or the testosterone curve. That are more likely to have what are referred to as "addictive personalities," meaning that they feel the rewards of success more strongly than most people, so they come to crave success more than most people. Now make them live in a civilization where there are huge money/power differentials, and what you have are people who have the opportunity to acquire supernormal stimulation by way of power (which makes narcissistic personality disorder) excessive wealth, supernormal access to attention (our hunter-
/gatherer ancestors could not satisfy their need for attention by getting on a stage surrounded by thousand son screaming fans and streaming media outlets). These things cause real addictions and they are as hard to overcome as the more commonly recognized chemical dependencies.

What does this suggest for society? Our arenas of power and wealth all constitute supernormal stimuli, and they attract exactly those people most likely to get hooked. And just like with any drug dependency, they eventually build tolerance to their drug of choice, which makes them insatiable. If anyone thinks that the people being exposed for harassment and assault are the exception and not the rule, you are naive in the extreme. This stuff is pervasive. We might be able to counter it in a few ways. For one, disperse power and wealth as much as possible. Anyone who has been in political office for several years should be given one of the addictive behavior tests that are used by professionals, and I am tempted to suggest that what Dr. Brin came up with and start administering dopamine antagonists to identify those who are addicts, then remove them from office. Repeal and Replace. Same for our robber barons. Anyone who has more than, say, 10 million dollars and is trying to get more is probably addicted. These people need a 12-step program for bastards. Allowing these people to have the power and wealth they have is like giving a scarf to the Boston Strangler for Christmas. And the same goes for our trolls. Arguing with them is like giving a chicken-head a hit. Break out the straws and razor blades! Their pathological behavior won't change as long as we enable them.

Paul SB said...

Larry,

Okay, sorry, misunderstood. Too many long paragraphs to read and keep in my short-term memory at once.

Steven Hammond said...

@ Paul SB,

I, for one, was very interested in your "brain-science" post and especially in the mention of supernormal stimuli which I had recently come across in reading Mary Midgley (the moral philosopher) who referenced Konrad Lorenz and his work.

I'd be interested in any recommendations you might have regarding good texts or popular science regarding the brain-science you describe. Now that I'm at least familiar with epigenetics, this is an area I'd like to learn about. Proteomics might be the next on the list...

Oh, and thanks for your response upthread regarding the skeleton of the dark-ages Swedish girl. Much appreciated!

locumranch said...



I'm afraid we understand each other too well, Catfish. You want a fair, just, sweet & loving world full of shared values & truth that 'should' be, and you care not a whit for the empiric world that is. It's called survivorship bias when the winners make the rules, yet you find that idea unacceptable as you attribute superior virtue & deservingness to the non-survivor, preferring the Disney narrative to that of the Brothers Grimm. Read some Blake, young fry, if only to grasp that 'the cut worm forgives the plow' out of necessity rather than choice, your words are the Clod's & mine are the Pebble's voice.

Best

Darrell E said...

Paul SB said...
"Darrell & Larry,

The two of you are arguing from a different set of assumptions. Darrell is arguing from an ideal - that people who call themselves Christian should actually behave the way their book tells them to."


Damn, I was really unclear. I often struggle to clearly state what I mean. But this is just about the opposite of what I meant. I definitely am not arguing from an ideal - that people who call themselves Christian should actually behave the way their book tells them to. If I am understanding Larry correctly, that is more along the lines of what he was thinking. My assumptions, or rather opinion, is that looking to the Bible for moral guidance is going to lead to some pretty bad morals by today's standards. At least if you don't ignore most of it, and most of Christian history, as modern liberal Christians tend to do. Which I approve of. No one should get their morals from the Bible.

I think Larry took my original comment to be a direct response to his claims in earlier comments. A challenge of some sort. I didn't mean it like that at all. Hence my initial confusion about why he seemed to think I had said something about Trump. My initial comment was basically a sarcastic aside. Not sarcasm directed at Larry or his claim that conservative Christian politicians that treat women unethically are hypocrites. Rather something more along the lines of "It's not really surprising that conservative religious politicians talk about Christian values yet treat women unethically, because Christian values aren't necessarily (heck in most times and places have not been) opposed to doing that." Is that clearer?

From my point of view what I was trying to say was in support of Larry's point. Like adding a charge of cravenness on top of his charge of hypocrisy. Probably because of all that I've found Larry's responses rather confusing.

LarryHart said...

Darrell E:

I think Larry took my original comment to be a direct response to his claims in earlier comments. A challenge of some sort. I didn't mean it like that at all. Hence my initial confusion about why he seemed to think I had said something about Trump.


Yeah, it wasn't that I thought you invoked Trump. I meant that family-values Republicans who support Donald Trump are hypocrites (or hypo-Christians).


My initial comment was basically a sarcastic aside. Not sarcasm directed at Larry or his claim that conservative Christian politicians that treat women unethically are hypocrites. Rather something more along the lines of "It's not really surprising that conservative religious politicians talk about Christian values yet treat women unethically, because Christian values aren't necessarily (heck in most times and places have not been) opposed to doing that."


Ok. The confusion is that I thought you were saying they weren't really hypocrites because True Christianity (as opposed to the more commonly-perceived variety) doesn't require respect for women, fidelity, or marriage vows.

And I was saying that even if that is the case, it's irrelevant to the issue of Republican hypocrisy. I wasn't really addressing Christian hypocrisy.


Is that clearer?


I think so, yes.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Mnuchin really screwed up. At least six Republican votes were contingent on the Treasury analysis, which Mnuchin swore he had hundreds of people working on.

There is no analysis. Reports are Treasury didn't even start one.

So the tax bill, which looked to be passing this afternoon, is now dead in the water.

Catfish N. Cod said...

I understand you but apparently you don’t understand me at all. I didn’t say there was more virtue or deservingness in those not preselected as likely ‘winners’. I meant that unless you take great pains to avoid self-deception, you don’t know. A genius born in the Mississippi Delta to dirt poor parents, growing up in a sparse rural area with worn-out textbooks, *might* find escape routes that lead her to success and fortune. Certainly she has a better chance than her neighbor in the same circumstances who is *not* a genius. But what is more likely: a Horatio Alger story, or one where she lives her life as a bored, frustrated wife trying to make ends meet and never having the resources to make something of her quick wit?

And to be sure she would be told that she was in her place because she wasn’t a ‘winner’.

Now are there also a bunch of poor people in that area who are hapless, skill-less, shiftless, skull-sparse, or bear any other number of factors that make for a disappointing performance in the competition fornname and fame? Most assuredly so. Equality of outcome isn’t in the cards.

But, as much as is reasonably acheiveable, that should be *for the flaws in their own actions*, and not for the circumstances of their parents’ birth.

It is natural to want to provide for one’s children. Basic instinct, old as the dinosaurs (literally). So we should not be surprised when people want to give their children a leg up on the competition. Indeed, in many former cultures, that was a necessity: knowledge and wisdom and rhetoric were expensive and difficult in the classical and Middle Ages.

But if fairness is the goal, if we want ‘winning’ to be reflective of ‘merit’, if we want to actually maximize the productivity of society.... we must recognize that tutoring and SAT prep and legacy admissions and so on are not about ‘fair’. You don’t want ‘fair’; you want your kids to WIN.

Does that make that kid from the Delta more virtuous? Nope. But it also doesn’t make the winners virtuous, except in the Darwinian sense.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Catfish
"a Horatio Alger story"

Have you read any of those?
Pure porn!
The "well favored poor boy" being instructed and "looked after" by the rich sugar daddy

Not as graphic as modern porn - but the meaning was the same as was the market

David Brin said...

Catfish n' Cod... you mentioned a JoJoCruise from San Diego including sci fi authors. Is that still running?

Twominds said...

@PaulSB:

I do find your brain science postings interesting, very much so. I don't react to them because I don't know enough about the subject to discuss.

Going back to the last thread:
I am an archeologist, and I know about child mortality in pre-industrial times. I was wondering if the Viking society had an even higher child mortality because of where they lived, rather marginally agriculturally, and adapted culturally to that.
There's a discussion on SATW below that cartoon, as at least one person with historical background does not agree and gives counterarguments to the Viking's easy attitude in the cartoon.
The paragraph on the swedish graveyard came from my university time, and it made an impression on me back then. I doubt if I still have the notes, so I had to do it from memory.
In the late roman times, climate became cooler and wetter, making agriculture with iron age tools ever harder. All skeletons from that latest period showed signs of chronic malnutrition, her condition just impressed me most.
That change in climate triggered huge migrations that swept over Europe, helping ushering in the Early Medieval times and changing the social landscape forever.

European archeology has a different focus from the American one, less antropological, more focused on the material remains and the info that excavations provide. Some dutch archeologists even helped forensic researchers with the mass graves in former Yugoslavia, using our systematic excavation methodes to make sure all info was gathered and none was overlooked or destroyed by lack of expertise.

Need to go to my work now, see you later. (After the weekend, probably.)

By the way, Dr. Brin, thank you for your renewed welcome. I hadn't said that yet.

Cari D. Burstein said...

@David Brin The JoCo cruise has been running for several years from San Diego- the next one is in February. I remember it being mentioned on one of the author blogs (can't remember if it was Patrick Rothfuss or John Scalzi) that this is the last time it'll be debarking from San Diego and next time it'll be leaving from elsewhere (Florida maybe?). It sounds like kind of an all-around geek cruise, with writers, board game designers and various names in geek entertainment. I've been tempted to go but I'm not fond of cruises or travel in general so I likely never will. The official website looks to be temporarily down, but it's at: https://jococruise.com/

Catfish N. Cod said...

Sigh, what a time for their server to crash! But the Internet Archive still has a partial capture:

https://web.archive.org/web/20171010090831/Jococruise.com/

“All-Around Geek” is a good description, Carl. The original organizers were musical performers with geek audiences (Jonathan Coulton, Paul and Storm, Molly Lewis), so music is a core emphasis, along with other types of performance (comedians are a focus.this year; last year we had a series of illusionists).

As with any cruise, the first point is to have fun. But exchange of ideas is also definitely on the menu, and the social customs of the cruise are designed to facilitate relaxed interaction. Sci-fi authors aboard already include:
* Cory Doctorow
* N. K. Jemisin
* Jon Scalzi
* Wil Wheaton

Also present are fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss; several graphic-art/comic writers, some of whom do lighter sci-fi; and three members of the McElroy family of radio voices/podcasters (mostly humorous, but other members’ medical history podcast Sawbones was a hit last year.)

Dates this year are February 18-25, with a bit of precursor conventioning downtown the weekend before as folks gather (departure is from the B Street terminal between the USS Midway and the tall-ship museum). I haven’t heard anything about moving the port next year, but it did have a Florida departure at some point in the past.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

But if fairness is the goal, if we want ‘winning’ to be reflective of ‘merit’, if we want to actually maximize the productivity of society.... we must recognize that tutoring and SAT prep and legacy admissions and so on are not about ‘fair’. You don’t want ‘fair’; you want your kids to WIN.


Well, it starts out that way. Then it becomes that you have to do all of that SAT prep and stuff just to stay even with the ones who do. In a way, it then is about fairness, but it's a more expensive fairness than the old status quo would have been.

I've noticed this in something as trivial as "fast passes" at amusement parks. Lately, it's become the norm that you can pay extra for the right to jump the line and get right onto rides instead of waiting in line with all those people. But what happens when everyone pays for a fast pass? The lines will be just as long as they ever were, but now everyone is paying extra.

That's the flaw in the right-wing meme that if everyone wants to be wealthy, then everyone should just work harder. In a colonial economy in which "work" mostly involves turning raw materials into wealth, that's a good idea. In a mature economy in which "working harder" consists largely of getting more of the existing pie for oneself, this only leads to everyone trying to grab more away from everyone else. After some threshold, you're back to the old status quo as far as the economic ladder goes, except everybody has to work harder than they used to just to stay put.

Jon S. said...

"Now are there also a bunch of poor people in that area who are hapless, skill-less, shiftless, skull-sparse, or bear any other number of factors that make for a disappointing performance in the competition fornname and fame? Most assuredly so. Equality of outcome isn’t in the cards."

Given that those descriptors can easily be applied to the younger Trumps, it certainly isn't. In the Delta, they'd be condemned to being "poor white trash" unto the fourth generation, at least.

However, the example of George Washington Carver can leave us assured that minds easily the equal of Einstein or Tesla languished in those antebellum slave fields, because as you observe, simple worth is no guarantee of success - not when the deck is not just stacked, but marked, dogeared, and dealt from the bottom.

LarryHart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/01/opinion/in-the-end-reality-will-win.html


A woman last seen scurrying into the offices of Project Veritas tried to set up The Washington Post with a phony story. The intent was to protect Roy Moore, accused of being a child molester and running for Senate in Alabama.


I have a semi-rhetorical question, but I'd be interested if anyone has an answer. Why doesn't this ever happen in the reverse direction? Why, for example, aren't women coming out with even more terrible stories about Al Franken or Garrison Kellior in an attempt to discredit their actual accusers when the inflated stories turn out to be made up? Why is that tactic always a Republican one?

Where are the Democratic women lining up to pile onto Roy Moore or Bill O'Reilly or Roger Ailes with accusations of dubious motivation?

In response to Tacitus's "What's wrong with Democrats?" take on the issue, I have to wonder why Roy Moore's accuser is a lifelong Republican who is not accusing him for political reasons, whereas Al Franken's accuser is also a Republican, who is? I'm reminded of an old Soviet era joke from Yakov Smirnov (severely dated by the names involved) which went something like:

What a country! In America, you are free to say "I don't like Ronald Reagan".

In Russia, this is also true. You are free to say "I don't like Ronald Reagan".


The punch line, which is less relevant to my point (but more funny) is:

In Russia, you can also say "I don't like Yuri Andropov", but this you only do once.



In Russia, you can also say "I don't like Yuri Andropov", but this

LarryHart said...

...sorry about the extra repeated line above. Just an editing error.

Tim Wolter said...

Twominds

Great to have another archaeologist on board. Paul SB did a bit of that many years ago and I have more recent experience on Roman sites.

There, I made it through a post without any puns. I blame OGH.....the prodigal Boehner phrase in the title clearly was at work on my subconscious!

TW/Tacitus

Darrell E said...

Watching the Rachael Maddow show last night I began wondering if this is what it looks like when the wheels start coming off. But, I don't know. I just can't tell. It seems like so many people just don't give a shit how unethical or illegal the behavior of Trump and his goons has been, is. Some combination of ideological commitment, authoritarian personality traits and Dunning Kruger compels them to ignore or rationalize away anything, no matter how bad, that comes to light about the Trump administration. Yet people are digging out the truths. Have things reached a tipping point where major change, for the better not worse, is about to happen? I can't tell. Probably not.

LarryHart said...

Darrell E:

It seems like so many people just don't give a shit how unethical or illegal the behavior of Trump and his goons has been, is. Some combination of ideological commitment, authoritarian personality traits and Dunning Kruger compels them to ignore or rationalize away anything, no matter how bad, that comes to light about the Trump administration.


There are those for whom the only thing that matters is tax cuts for the wealthy and deregulation of big business. Literally nothing else moves the needle.

Then there are those who believe the lies put out and paid for by those mentioned above.

Between them, a third or so of my fellow Americans are complicit in the attempt to have government of, by, and for the people perish from the earth.

Another Simpsons quote is sadly appropriate. Krusty the Clown in the voting booth, pulling the lever for Sideshow Bob:

Well, he did try to frame me for armed robbery...

But, I'm itching for that upper-class tax cut!


Darrell E said...

I wrote this comment on another site, figured I'd paste it here too.

This tax bill is a disaster. It is also a full disclosure that the Republican Party is indeed intent on nothing more than raiding the coffers and damn the consequences.

This tax bill, a laughable name as it is much more than a tax bill, is simply a raid. They didn’t even bother to model it. No need to because they couldn’t care less about its effects. They’ve gained access to the coffers and this bill is simply a list of all the places that they’ve found money to steal.

The tragedy is the Trump supporters, some are loved ones, that are either too stupid or too ideologically blinded to notice that this tax bill reveals, with blinding intensity, that Trump’s entire campaign shtick of Making America Great Again was a lie and that they are suckers for buying into it. Which appears to be about 35% of voters. It is amazing to me, not to mention depressing as hell, that that number stays steady no matter what negative evidence comes to light about the Trump administration.

If this bill should come to be fully enacted and remain so for a significant amount of time, a few years for example, then we will be well and truly fucked. Again. Hopefully it won’t be any worse than the economic disaster instigated by Bush Jr’s administration, but it sure could be.

David S said...


Catfish N. Cod, it appears that someone at the washington post heard your recommendation on comparing the GOP tax plan to what it was like prior to the great depression.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/11/30/im-a-depression-historian-the-gop-tax-bill-is-straight-out-of-1929

From the article:

“There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.”

That was more than three decades before the collapse of the economy in 1929. The crash followed a decade of Republican control of the federal government during which trickle-down policies, including massive tax cuts for the rich, produced the greatest concentration of income in the accounts of the richest 0.01 percent at any time between World War I and 2007 (when trickle-down economics, tax cuts for the hyper-rich, and deregulation again resulted in another economic collapse).

raito said...

Paul SB,

It's worse than you think.

The stimuli is not evenly distributed, which can be deadly to an addictive personality.

Take entertainment, specifically musicians, as an example. The successful ones, at the height of their careers, spend something like 22 hours a day doing absolutely nothing of consequence (travelling from gig to gig)(I've worked in that world and seen it firsthand). Then they hit the stage and get their high. No wonder many of them turn to other stimuli during the rest of the day.

And that applies to the rest of those professions, too. Athletes spend most of their time not playing the game (though the pros work hard every day or they don't stay pro). Politics isn't all press conferences and photo ops. Entertainers do not spend all day in front of an audience (and TV performers may never perform live).

Jon S.,

Your point is one I bring up often. I can't predict who the person who discovers the lifesaving solution to my life taking problem. So it behooves me to make sure as many people as possible get educated.

matthew said...

I'm sure everyone else has noticed, but the plea by Flynn this morning is the biggest news of the month, maybe the year.

IN case you don't get it - Flynn pleaded guilty to a lesser charge (lying to the FBI about meeting the Russian Ambassador) than the ones he was caught red-handed in (being a foreign agent for Turkey). This means he has been proffered a deal.

As Seth Abramson has pointed out this morning, you only get proffered when you have testimony to offer again someone higher up on the criminal hierarchy or a large group at your own level. At Flynn's level in the government, we basically have Jeff Sessions, so not a large group. Above, we only have the VP and President.

It's on. Mueller is telling us he has enough to prove Trump (or Pence) ordered the contacts with the Russians.

Next move will be most likely an attempt to fire Mueller. It's pretty much the only move Trump has left, other than to try and weather impeachment after Mueller goes public. Or maybe Trump thinks that his Republican Congress will not impeach even after evidence is shown that he has been a Russian pawn.

LarryHart said...

Darrell E:

They’ve gained access to the coffers and this bill is simply a list of all the places that they’ve found money to steal.


So much for the "truism" that democracy fails when the public votes themselves riches from the treasury.


If this bill should come to be fully enacted and remain so for a significant amount of time, a few years for example, then we will be well and truly fucked.


If and when we ever get power back, it has to be "No more Mr Nice Guy". Repeal and replace the tax bill. Impose "civil asset forfeiture" on any heirs who escaped the estate tax. Declare the Republican Party a terrorist organization. Ca ira! Ca ira!

LarryHart said...

David S quotes the Washington Post:

“There are two ideas of government,” William Jennings Bryan declared in his 1896 “Cross of Gold” speech. “There are those who believe that if you will only legislate to make the well-to-do prosperous their prosperity will leak through on those below. The Democratic idea, however, has been that if you legislate to make the masses prosperous their prosperity will find its way up through every class which rests upon them.”


Yes, in hindsight, it is obvious that trickle-down is the wrong metaphor. Money doesn't tend to flow down like water. It tends to rise up like heat.

It's all going to end up at the top anyway, but infusing it into the bottom, you get "work" out of the system as the money flows up. Skipping to the end of the process--infusing money at the top--only avoids the useful work step.

LarryHart said...

matthew:

Next move will be most likely an attempt to fire Mueller. It's pretty much the only move Trump has left, other than to try and weather impeachment after Mueller goes public. Or maybe Trump thinks that his Republican Congress will not impeach even after evidence is shown that he has been a Russian pawn.


He could pardon everybody.

He can keep his base believing that this is all "fake news" to cover up Hillary's uranium deal, not to mention e-mails and Benghazi.

And if he thinks that about the Republican congress, he's right. They won't. At least not if there's a possibility they'd lose Pence as well. Maybe--just maybe--we can convince them that it's better (for them) to make Paul Ryan president than to let that role fall to Nancy Pelosi. But I'm not even sure that would sway them.

And even when we wake up to find that last season was all a dream, Neil Gorsuch is still on the Supreme Court.

Sorry, I know it's a day to celebrate. I just hate to be disappointed later.

locumranch said...

But if fairness is the goal, if we want ‘winning’ to be reflective of ‘merit’, if we want to actually maximize the productivity of society.... we must recognize that tutoring and SAT prep and legacy admissions and so on are not about ‘fair’. You don’t want ‘fair’; you want your kids to WIN.

The above quote demonstrates that Catfish confuses 'Equality of Opportunity' with 'Equality of Outcome', insomuch as the 'fair-level-open-equal' playing field that he & David desire must be built & maintained -- which means that it is an outcome -- which Larry_H confirms by explaining that the maintenance of this so-called 'opportunity equality' is an endless task that requires the equalization of every aspect of a child's life to guarantee an equal outcome in future educational, employment & social opportunities.

These do-gooders desire this outcome equality out of 'fairness', they claim, even though the term 'fairness' signifies 'impartiality' and what they really propose is a system of 'Selective Partiality' that helps the so-called disadvantaged classes at the expense of those who possess 'privileges' that are judged to be undeserved & unearned.

In a nutcase, this is really what our current Sexual Harassment Hysteria is all about, the institutionalisation of Selective Partiality that will guarantee Gender Equality for a specific gender category (women) who are apparently incapable of achieving gender equality on the basis of their own merits and will require an infinite amount of socially subsidised 'empowerment' & an increasingly intrusive Parental Authority in order to enforce.

Again, the current hysteria has absolutely nothing to due with 'opportunity'. It is bald-faced attempt to disincentivise our Merit System while mandating Outcome Equality (gender, ethnic, cultural) at every level of our society, to selectively favour one identity group (the preferred one) over another dispreferred one because 'Equality' -- Merit be damned.


Best

LarryHart said...

locumranch lies:

which Larry_H confirms by explaining that the maintenance of this so-called 'opportunity equality' is an endless task that requires the equalization of every aspect of a child's life to guarantee an equal outcome in future educational, employment & social opportunities.


I triple-dog dare you to show where I claimed anything that sounds like that.


These do-gooders


which is meant as a derogatory term, so I suppose it's better to be an evil-doer like yourself...


desire this outcome equality out of 'fairness', they claim, even though the term 'fairness' signifies 'impartiality' and what they really propose is a system of 'Selective Partiality'


You are way over into 1984 linguistic territory here. Why not just say, "A fair referee has to make sure that the team that 'deserves' to win does win, whether or not the play of the game would dictate such an outcome. A call by fans for the referees to call the game without prejudice is really a way of allowing the fans' favorite team to eke out a 'win' through such underhanded methods as getting more points than the other team."


that helps the so-called disadvantaged classes at the expense of those who possess 'privileges' that are judged to be undeserved & unearned.


Say you're walking down the street and someone mugs you and steals your wallet. Let's make the guy a Muslim so I know you're not on his side. Let's say the police catch the guy and recover your wallet basically intact. "Should" they return it to you, or does the answer turn on a question of how deserving you are as a human being?

Tim H. said...

Given that donors have threatened to cut off the money if they don't get their tax cut (Which makes campaign contributions seem more like investments.) raises the welcome prospect of fewer attack ads if the legislation falters. The McConnell thinks he has the votes, but there's still reconciliation to go through...

LarryHart said...

John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins have all joined the Treason Party.

#ThereAreNoGoodRepublicans

Berial said...

@Tim H.
I really wish the Republicans (and Democrats for that matter) COULD find a way to get those mega-donors to sit a couple of election cycles out. Maybe we'd be able to get back to the VOTERS being the constituency the elected officials actually CARED about, and did most of their jobs for again.

And NO, I'm not saying the Democrats are 'as bad as the Republicans' in this, but BOTH groups are still WAY TO in the tank for those mega-donors for a healthy republic in my opinion.

matthew said...

Larry,

Trump cannot "pardon everyone." Mueller has set up his case based on state-level charges brought by Democratic AGs. Trump can only pardon the Federal crimes. This is why Trump fired Preet Bharara - Preet represented the NY district where a number of the crimes were committed. Also, this is why the AG battle in Virginia was such a big deal. Mark Herring winning there probably meant more to Mueller than to any other person in the world.

matthew said...

@Berial
The Republican mega-donors know that they cannot "sit a couple of election cycles out." If they do, their last, best chance (for now) to keep their ill-gotten gains and increase their power will be over. Tipping points and all.

Agree that the Democratic Party establishment is too far in the tank for corporatism to be healthy but in true there is little comparison between the two parties on this.

LarryHart said...

matthew:

Larry,

Trump cannot "pardon everyone." Mueller has set up his case based on state-level charges brought by Democratic AGs. Trump can only pardon the Federal crimes


I knew that was the best strategy. I didn't realize it was in progress.

Did Flynn plead guilty to state level charges?

I still claim I am right that the Republican congress won't touch impeachment. They can't afford to lose the deplorable vote any more, having given away everyone else.


Darrell E said...

Heard that an ABC reporter has said that a source has revealed that Flynn will be testifying that Trump ordered him to contact the Russians, among other things.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: No, he pled guilty to lying to the FBI, a federal crime.
Right now, they are trying to blame Flynn on Obama. Republican watchers will recognise this as the famous "Blackfeller" defence, as in, "T'warn't Roy Moore whut pestered all those young ladies: It was some blackfeller whut looked a lot like him!"

Zepp Jamieson said...

Darrell: CNN is claiming that Kushner ordered him to contact the Russians, which amounts to the same thing.

David Brin said...

Cari & Catfish n’ Cod (sounds like a great Band name!) thanks. Too bad the JoJo folks ignored San Diego authors.

Twominds and PaulSB, a problem the Vikings had was cultural rigidity. When they settled Greenland they insisted on only living off sheep and ignoring (when not killing) the “skraelings” or Inuit natives, who could have taught them how to access seals, fish and bear. When the Little Ice Age came, the sheep died and so did the settlers.

locum has been parsing actual sentences that make sense in their own context! “It is bald-faced attempt to disincentivise our Merit System while mandating Outcome Equality (gender, ethnic, cultural) at every level of our society, to selectively favour one identity group (the preferred one) over another dispreferred one because 'Equality' -- Merit be damned.”

Alas, he offers zero evidence for the assertion, since - of course - there is none. He is a confederate foot soldier in the war against all fact-using professions, the very ones in which actual outcome metrics reward “merit” instead of noble advantage. Diametrically wrong… but much better parsed!

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

I remember the rigidity thing coming up in a class a long, long time ago. The Newfoundland colony is hardly the only example of extinction resulting from stubborn ethnocentrism, though it might be a case where Raymond Firth was wrong. A similar example in this general neighborhood might be the Donner Party, who were snowed in the Sierra Nevadas and preferred going cannibal to accepting food given to them by the "heathen" natives. Diverse lives matter.

David Brin said...

onward
onward

Ahinora Kobina said...

I don't know why we not concentrate on main goal. The welth of population and grouth. Some people loose the direction. See what China is doing regarding the World Bank
Bulgarian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry