Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Our dumb-as-rocks New Feudal Lords… steering us to Helvetia

Back from schmoozing with his fellow oligarchs at Davos, the U.S. President is about to proclaim his agenda at the State of the Union, presenting a picture of both nation and world that will be scrupulously tidy and scrubbed free of facts. But one core point of today's back-from-the-dead confederacy is likely to be left out, for now -- slandering the “deep state” – civil servants, intelligence agencies, the FBI and military officer corps. 

In fact, Donald Trump is likely to point at a few military heroes in the balcony, but don't be fooled. They were the last fact-centered professions to be attacked; but now it’s their turn.

For years I inveighed, we need a tsunami of retired officers running for office in every ‘red’ district in America – folks who are perhaps conservative by personality and demeanor, but modern and scientific, and hence willing to pragmatically negotiate for progress. And free of puppet strings leading to the busy, meddling fingers of oligarchs. It’s happening! 

Bless ‘em. Read about three women - graduates of Annapolis - running for Congress in reddish districts. One of them just scared off her Republican opponent, Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, who announced his retirement, rather than face her in November. The article cites some GOP candidates who are also former officers, which is fine by me! Let members of this fact-using, pragmatic, “deep state” community run as both dems and repubs! (I’ve linked to Col. McGrath before.) 

And so, before diving in to a range of political topics, here’s another example of why sincere professionals – traditionally deeply apolitical – feel they must step up. In an open letter to Congress on Thursday, a group of 17 former nuclear launch officers argued that President Trump “poses a clear and present danger to the country and the world” and warned that “there are no reliable safeguards” to prevent Trump from deciding to launch a nuclear missile on his own.

In fact, I have offered up the most logical way to protect the world from a presidential “spasm.” It’s very simple, though it would take some courage from at least fifty GOP lawmakers. Only look at it if you plan to seriously read and understand. It’s not for skimming. 

The alternative that people are bandying about – impeachmentis a trap! We are being deliberately led to it and this is not a recommended route out of our dilemma. In fact, there are worse things than a manic clown car. Far worse things. 
        
== A gathering of gnomes ==

After delivering on his one actual campaign promise, to the billionaire caste (“I just made you a whole lot richer”), Donald Trump seems to taunt the working class whites who called upon him to 'drain the swamp.'  Breitbart is a wholly-owned propaganda arm of the Mercer family, when Fox and InfoWars and Cato are all owned by other Davos elites. One gambling lord launders money from a foreign government through his Macao casinos straight into the Republican Party. Another just resigned as GOP finance chair, fleeing sex-abuse charges, but safely continues funneling favors to Trump, a fellow casino mogul.  

It's no surprise that one side of the ongoing civil war turns a blind eye to rising plutocracy. The confederacy was always a tool of feudal aristocracy, at every phase. In the 1770s, when southern tories were big supporters of the King, and the 1850s and 1860s Civil War phases, defending the property rights of slave-owning plantation lords.

== The one question that would expose every hypocrisy ==

The central question that not a single Democrat has ever publicly asked is “When do you MAGA folks envision that America ‘Great’"? 

Under the 'Greatest Generation' that overcame depression, crushed Hitler, contained communism, took us into space, cured polio and built a mighty middle class?

Fine, only dig it, those GGs knew the feudal enemy and they adored Franklin Roosevelt, voting in high tax rates that (surprise!) accompanied the highest growth and best-flat-fair capitalism in U.S. history. Sure, we’ll concede that our parents in the Greatest Generation accomplished a lot – like beginning the long struggle to cleanse our national heart of racism, sexism and other absurd wastes of talent. Led by FDR, their defeat of aristocracy and confederatism produced our ‘greatest’ era! And dismantling that modern American Contract has been the sole GOP-plutocrat aim since 1981.

Alas, when they met in Davos, theoe zillionaires did not do what I portray some of the rich doing in EXISTENCE - soberly discussing how to rule better. At least, better than feudalism's dismal record of 6000 years. No, these masters-of-the-world will hear the mob sharpening scythes, pitchforks and torches... and they'll do what lords always do: order sycophants to sing their praises louder.

Or, as Ken Fitzer  put it: Feudalism: When it's your Count that votes.”

Then there’s the story about the rich guy noticing anger simmering in the faces of the poor, so he tells the poor white guy that the poor black guy wants to steal his cookie. Same as it ever was.

== Are we “hacked”? ==

An important article by Roger McNamee - an early Facebook investor-insider - explores how the algorithm-led strategies of Google and Facebook made them inherently vulnerable to foreign hack-meddling aimed at wrecking our civilization:

“It reads like the plot of a sci-fi novel: a technology celebrated for bringing people together is exploited by a hostile power to drive people apart, undermine democracy, and create misery. This is precisely what happened in the United States during the 2016 election. We had constructed a modern Maginot Line—half the world’s defense spending and cyber-hardened financial centers, all built to ward off attacks from abroad—never imagining that an enemy could infect the minds of our citizens through inventions of our own making, at minimal cost. Not only was the attack an overwhelming success, but it was also a persistent one, as the political party that benefited refuses to acknowledge reality. The attacks continue every day, posing an existential threat to our democratic processes and independence.”

The author, once a friend and mentor to the CEOs of these brash companies, now has burned his bridges in calling for a national response based on veritable survival.  Let me add that the core problem of insularity and echo-chambers (‘Nuremberg Rallies’) that can be manipulated by cynical savanarolas is one that I predicted, long ago, in my novel EARTH (1989)

Remember: whether or not the Mueller investigation proves “knowing collusion” isn’t the point!  What matters is that hostile foreign powers wanted a U.S. political outcome, strove to achieve it, and got what they wanted. And they are still at it.

Though we must always calibrate! Jim Wright – whose Stonekettle blog is always lively and fascinating – inveighs that the word “hack” has very specific meanings that should not be muddied as we (rightfully) complain about and act against foreign and domestic meddling.  

“Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other platforms were manipulated to shift outcomes in Brexit and the U.S. presidential election, and unless major changes are made, they will be manipulated again.”

I consulted at Facebook, some months ago. One top piece of advice? “Get out of the news business.” Now, it seems they are taking steps.

== Action Items! ==

You should ask your congress-critters to support the Secure Elections Act.  “The bill reads like a computer security expert’s wish list.”  Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) are key co-sponsors of the bill. Which makes me curious about this young Lankford feller. I mean, really? A republican senator supporting a reform that would eliminate a major GOP cheat? Of course it won’t pass this year. Murdoch and his shills know they’ll need every cheat to suppress to coming Wave. But could this fellow be part of the revival of sane-not-treasonous conservatism?

Truth is as vital a part of the civic, social and intellectual culture as justice and liberty. Our civilization is premised on the conviction that such a thing as truth exists, that it is knowable, that it is verifiable, that it exists independently of authority or popularity and that at some point — and preferably sooner rather than later — it will prevail.”  This LA Times editorial: Why Trump Lies dissects the problem when a U.S. president appears completely incapable of recognizing his own lies and taking even marginal pains to keep them consistent, or to not paint us - or even himself - into lethal corners.

The top confederate article of faith - rigorously conveyed on Fox - is: “repeating an assertion makes it so!” Hence the open war against all fact-using professions.

Alas, instead of bemoaning this, leaders and thinkers in Sane America need to think tactically and strategically. “What can be done to make the issue of “facts” a decisive weapon, instead of one more thing to whine about — *rewarding* the enemies of fact, as they giggle victoriously over our complaints?  Don’t any of you liberals and moderates and nerds remember the modus of Junior High School bullies? Who answered our appeals to reason with guffaws of mockery?

I laid down a way to do this. Alas, not one moderate or sane US politician or pundit has come anywhere near doing what has a real chance of working. But here it is:

The Times finishes wisely: Investigate. Read. Write. Listen. Speak. Think. Be wary of those who disparage the investigators, the readers, the writers, the listeners, the speakers and the thinkers. Be suspicious of those who confuse reality with reality TV, and those who repeat falsehoods while insisting, against all evidence, that they are true. To defend freedom, demand fact.”

And thus they prove they are fools. You are asking that the folks in Sane America be what they already are, and implicitly demanding we continue to wrestle with the confederacy using Sumo, grunting and shoving by inches. Instead of shifting to Judo.


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75 comments:

Viking said...

Facebook is not the problem, the fact that people put up with Facebook is the problem. I tried Facebook for a couple of years, but some time around 2010, I noticed that the update stream skipped some of my contacts, and by watching their walls and noticing that facebook was trying to engineer my experience, it was clear that this was not what I signed up for, so I nuked my account, which was a two step 14 day process.

An individualistic people should have individual decentralized websites, like this one, which could equally well be hosted somewhere else than blogger (=google).

Treebeard said...

This looks like a good read to balance out the usual Pinkerian triumphalism and manichean "Good guy Yankee liberals vs. Evil Confederate feudalists" stories you favor:

Why Liberalism Failed

The author is a highly credentialed Ivy Leaguer, not some Infowars deplorable, so maybe some of his criticisms will be read and taken seriously by the people who most need to hear it. But I'm not holding my breath. It's so much easier to blame the whole thing on a conspiracy of evil oligarchs and Russians than to admit that something may be rotten at the root of your philosophy.

David S said...

Treebeard, can you post a link to an essay/article/youtube of the author's ideas. I'm not purchasing a book. thanks.

TCB said...

Lots of highly credentialed Ivy League fools out there, though... George W. Bush somehow matricliatized from Yale.

Credentials are there to get one's foot in the door, figuratively speaking; once in, it is still necessary to make sense. The blurb on the linked Amazon page says, “Has liberalism failed because it has succeeded? Of the three dominant ideologies of the twentieth century—fascism, communism, and liberalism—only the last remains.”

Dear me, already we have an objectively false assertion: fascism is BACK, baby! Anyway, I suspect that what that author means by 'liberalism' is not what I think that word does or ought to mean, which leads right back to my perennial lament that terminology in politics does more harm than good, and we'll never have a truly productive colloquium on politics until the day when all agree on what all designated terms really do and do not mean, with no obfuscation for purpose of advantage.

In short, never.

LarryHart said...

Norman Goldman is (correctly) ranting that, with the impending reckless release of classified information (remember when Hillary was accused of that?), the entire Republican Party has gone over into outright treason (he used that word).

He also described what Democrats should do at the SOTU, even though I doubt Dems will actually have the balls to do so:

Take a knee. And mimic former-congressman Joe Walsh by shouting "You lie!" every time Trump does lie.

#ThereAreNoGoodRepulbicans

#BenedictDonald

TCB said...

@LarryHart, I heard a bit of Norman Goldman's show this am on the Asheville Revolution 880 station (incidentally, he says the only reason he's not on a buttload of stations around Unistat is that two right-wing congloms own most of the stations.) A caller suggested that a Dem should invite Stormy Daniels to the SOTU address and put her right up front.

Yes, please.

LarryHart said...

TCB:

incidentally, he [Norman Goldman] says the only reason he's not on a buttload of stations around Unistat is that two right-wing congloms own most of the stations.)


That's true. He's talking about Clear Channel and Cumulus. He did a whole fascinating series about the radio business back in early 2014.

A caller suggested that a Dem should invite Stormy Daniels to the SOTU address and put her right up front.


Hey, I'd watch. :)

David Brin said...

Boy I type fast! Critique this, guys! I'll post it as a blog:

Note how I always reward polite cogency, even from one of our local (mis-labeled) “trolls.” Hence Treebeard’s assertive link to a book “Why Liberalism Failed,” reminded me that I’ve already looked at this tome - in articles. I dove no deeper because even in extracts, it seems articulate-but-absurd.
https://www.amazon.com/Why-Liberalism-Failed-Politics-Culture/dp/0300223447/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517353560&sr=8-1&keywords=why+liberalism+failed

Take the descriptive paragraph on Amazon: “Of the three dominant ideologies of the twentieth century—fascism, communism, and liberalism—only the last remains. This has created a peculiar situation in which liberalism’s proponents tend to forget that it is an ideology and not the natural end-state of human political evolution. As Patrick Deneen argues in this provocative book, liberalism is built on a foundation of contradictions: it trumpets equal rights while fostering incomparable material inequality; its legitimacy rests on consent, yet it discourages civic commitments in favor of privatism; and in its pursuit of individual autonomy, it has given rise to the most far-reaching, comprehensive state system in human history. Here, Deneen offers an astringent warning that the centripetal forces now at work on our political culture are not superficial flaws but inherent features of a system whose success is generating its own failure.”

Sentence by sentence, alas, this diatribe is utter bullshit. Either Deneen deliberately excludes the elephant in the room - feudalism. In its various forms, which dominated almost all societies for 6000 years, inheritance owner-lordship oligarchy never went away, and indeed is roaring back. Its omission from the “dominant ideologies of the twentieth century” is glaring, or else it needs to be folded into “fascism.” Either way, the first sentence of this summarizing paragraph is an outright lie.

But pray continue: “liberalism’s proponents tend to forget that it is an ideology and not the natural end-state of human political evolution.”

While some do presume this, very few serious thinkers do. Most know that liberalism is an exception to historical patterns. Indeed, Liberalism has two major branches. First is the minority who know that it is about *competition.* Preventing the cheating that leads to feudal cancer by opening markets, democracy and all our other arenas to maqximum participation. These liberals - in the older sense of the word - push for rights and science and compassionate uplift of the poor in order to maximize competition’s pragmatic benefits

A much larger population of liberals views those things — rights and compassion etc. — as absolute moral virtues needing no practical justification. Those in this second category are more numerous, as you’d expect in any movement, and sure, their simplistically passionate dedication to compassionate-individualistic absolute values might be dismissed as just another religion. Certainly forces of feudalism/fascism - like Professor Deneen - try desperately to argue this point.

David Brin said...

continuing...

But the first category of liberals cannot be so easily dismissed. Rights and compassionate uplift and science have had effects of profound, even spectacular consequence, leading to a society that has out-performed all others - *combined* - by every conceivable metric of success. Only liberal society created a literature of error-prevention and opportunity targeting, called science fiction. Only this society managed to maximize opportunity reification to a degree that we may soon become an interstellar species.

Liberal virtues achieved this in part by opening the flow of criticism and reciprocal accountability that comes from free speech by educated and competitive masses. It also reduced the waste of human talent by orders of magnitude, by eliminating so many stupidly unjustifiable prejudices. Liberals such as Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek (yes “liberals” in the classic sense of opposing market cheating) emphasized that entrepreneurial competition and market wisdom cannot occur until the number of skilled, competent participants is maximized, something that feudal regimes try desperately to prevent! Something that cannot happen without rights and compassionate uplift and science.

The following snippets from the Deneen book writeup are equally dizzying in their silliness. Deneen denounces liberalism because: “it trumpets equal rights while fostering incomparable material inequality; its legitimacy rests on consent, yet it discourages civic commitments in favor of privatism…” Stunning malarkey! Every single feudal society was more unequal in terms that matter most, the ability to raise comfortable, healthy and educated children who might plausibly compete with even the children of elites. Almost never was this allowed in earlier aristocracies and it will not be, if they are allowed to control things, again.

Moreover, it was liberal policies enacted by the Greatest Generation - whose most-adored figure was FDR - that reduced inequality to its lowest levels, and it was GOP tools of resurgent feudalism who dismantled most of those reforms, leading - directly and causally - to skyrocketing inequality.

This is very old stuff. Many of the same “contradictions of liberalism” were hollered by the marxists for 150 years and by Oswald Spengler - then the Nazis - a century ago. And yet, this unusual experiment perseveres, dazzling future historians, who will call this an age above all others.

After all of that, is the author wrong to say liberalism faces danger of failure? His reasons and reasonings may be calamitously stupid. But in fact the decks have always been stacked against this bold and rare departure from the feudalist attractor state. Many powerful forces are trying desperately to stave off and prevent the Star Trek future that will lock in liberal civilization — the way that Francis Fukayama thought it was already locked in, when he wrote about “the end of history.”

That attractor state, embedded and driven by male reproductive urges, pulled in 99% of our ancestors, crushing all hope and and chance of advancement. The same forces that suppressed Periclean Athens and the Florentine Republic have tried to wreck this renaissance every single generation, across the last 240 years. They are verging on success right now. And Professor Deneen is what he appears to be. Their shill and lackey propagandist.

LarryHart said...

I second the endorsement of Jim Wright's latest on the Devin Nunes memo. Way too much to post here, but below is a taste. The whole post is worth the read:

http://www.stonekettle.com/


...
You're going to want to think about that, while bearing in mind the very government in question has recently taken to attacking itself, accusing various agencies of being part of some "Deep State.” Agencies such as the FBI. And suggesting that it be either dissolved or completely reorganized. Think about that in the context of this same government attacking the press, suggesting that it be shut down or even jailed for not saying what the President wants it to say.

This, this right here, is how agencies such as the Gestapo or the KGB are born and how information can be turned into a weapon to be used against a nation’s own citizens.

Which leads us to the final question, why isn’t the press asking these questions?

Why isn’t the press demanding answers to these questions?

There’s not much point in being the watchdog of freedom, if you’re going to sleep while burglars ransack liberty.
...

LarryHart said...

Oh, earlier this morning, someone on Stephanie Miller's show suggested that Mueller should execute warrants on congressmen during the SOTU tonight. After all, we all know where they will be.

BTW, Melania just arrived...alone.

LarryHart said...

Democrats in the audience wearing black.

Melania looks as if she's been drugged.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

The central question that not a single Democrat has ever publicly asked is “When do you MAGA folks envision that America ‘Great’"?


Maybe not Democratic congresspeople, but Paul Krugman mentions that fairly often, as do the radio hosts on WCPT (Chicago's Progressive Talk). The Paul Ryans might want to go back to 1953, but Roy Moore et al would prefer 1853.



David Brin said...

Jim Wright is an important voice and you need to frequent his site. Seriously, he is more passionate than I am, but says things that need saying. And he'll rile you up. In this case, I would add that we must pound in one added point, right now:

It is OKAY for investigators and prosecutors to be a bit "biased" against the person their are investigating! So long as they follow all procedures and everything they do is visible to defense counsel, you *want* them to *want* to "get that guy!" As Ken Starr and his team desperately and volcanically hated Bill Clinton. (Funny how Republicans didn't mind that bias.) The courts and judges etc have to be un-biased! And in the 24 years of Clinton witch hunts, they and the public thereupon ruled the Starr mob to be a pack of baying idiots. But Starr's eagerness was not his worst crime, by far.

Likewise, the right's screeching snowflake howls that some FBI guys didn't like Trump are complete bull. On a fundamental level of being stupid and illogical.

Seriously, are there ANY democrats with a scintilla of logic or ability to craft strong talking points?

LarryHart said...

Why does Trump have to explain his own applause lines?

"These tax cuts alone increase the average American's income by four thousand dollars--a lot of money!"

Did he have to add the "a lot of money" so the sycophants get that that's an accomplishment? Because otherwise, they might think, "Four k? That's all? I light my cigars with four-thousand dollar bills."

It's the same way he always describes people as "The great Neil Gorsuch" and such. Because Heaven forfend that you, the listener, make value judgments of your own. You need to hear from der Fuherer how you're supposed to feel about...well, everything.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Likewise, the right's screeching snowflake howls that some FBI guys didn't like Trump are complete bull. On a fundamental level of being stupid and illogical.


You would expect law enforcement agencies to be biased against traitors. Is it an outrage that Seal Team 6 was "biased" against Osama Bin Laden?


Seriously, are there ANY democrats with a scintilla of logic or ability to craft strong talking points?


Democratic congressmen? Apparently not.

* * *

BTW, Trump just bragged about appointing judges who will "interpret the Constitution literally."

Clapping for his own applause lines.

Paul Ryan and his smug face that really needs to be punched.

Seriously? "We have ended the war on American energy, and we have ended the war on beautiful, clean coal!"

LarryHart said...

Heh.

Smug Paul Ryan had to clap for a 12-year path to citizenship for Dreamers. I hope he's choking on it.

Heh again.

"That means building a Great Wall on our southern border." Emphasis and capitalization mine.

LarryHart said...

Ask and you will receive...sort of, anyway:

http://www.stltoday.com/news/stormy-daniels-highlights-the-state-of-the-union-aftershow/article_7d75cf51-6a73-573d-b97b-e17a5dd07233.html


ABC's Jimmy Kimmel is bringing adult film star Stormy Daniels to his show tonight after State of the Union speech.

TCB said...

Prosecutors with a zeal for pursuing their quarry are no new thing; it is simply part and parcel of the role. Inspector Javert, when he pursues Jean Valjean, is not really wrong to do so: it's simply that he cannot conceive that Valjean is truly rehabilitated, and so has no sense of proportion. At the end, seeing his error, he drowns himself in the Seine, since he now applies that same lack of proportion to himself. More recently the character of Rorschach in Watchmen is precisely a Javert without portfolio, so to speak, without legal backing. But he has the same psychology.

These men, however, differ from Ken Starr and other modern GOP 'Heinrich Kramers' (see: Malleus Maleficarum). The current breed of right-wing political secutor follows the playbooks of other totalitarians: find the defendant, then choose a crime. When Donald Trump and others said (of Hillary Clinton) 'Lock Her Up!' this was no idle threat.

Just ask Don Siegelman, former Democratic governor of Alabama, who was railroaded to prison by minions of Karl Rove, on the bullshittest of flimsy-ass bullshit bribery charges you ever heard of, which, if applied across the board, would land at least half the GOP governors, congress members, and White House staff behind bars as well as many, many Dems in similar positions.

Why Barack Obama didn't pardon HIM, I will never know...

... though I once wrote a poem about how easily Barack Obama folded before the Republicans.

Herewith, reprinted!

Barack Origami

The right-wingers reap his amends;
for them, how he folds! How he bends!
That flexible swami,
Barack Origami!
He gives paper cuts to his friends.

It’s easy to see where it ends;
The billionaires’ club, he defends.
That flaccid salami,
Barack Origami!
He only stands up to his friends.

On wars but not people, he spends;
This paper-doll man who pretends
To love us like mommy:
Barack Origami!
He only says no to his friends.

Progressives he gladly offends;
The Right, why, he courts their back ends!
It’s that one-man army
Barack Origami!
He only shoots straight at his friends.

Some say that he overextends
The olive branch he always sends
To those who’ve gone balmy,
Barack Origami!
And then takes a cane to his friends.

Security’s end, it portends
Is surrender the move he intends?
He sure ain’t no commie,
Barack Origami!
But he’ll take the farm from his friends.

The right-wingers reap his amends;
for them, how he folds! How he bends!
That flexible swami,
Barack Origami!
He gives paper cuts to his friends.

David Brin said...

TCB geez. Some perspective. Americans would not have elected a black man, if he had one angry bone in his body. I liked the fact that he liked everybody and wanted to believe 'folks' could be reasoned with. But yes, it was also frustrating and even infuriating.

TCB said...

You're not wrong, Dr. Brin. But yeah, that's how frustrated I was.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | effete intellectual snob

Heh. That's not what I was going for, but I agree that it is something to be avoided. What I was expressing is an understanding that I like a good intellectual fight now and then and that IS about proving I'm right, you are wrong, so suck it up. Know doubt that is the D in me, hmm? Around here, though, I really DO prefer to learn without a fight. When I say 'taxation is theft', it is to provoke responses that might teach me something. I'm not really trying to convince anyone that I'm at least partially correct about it even though I am convinced I am.

I HAVE been accused of being the snob you described, but not here. I used to hang out at a community site that used to respect the 'fight' approach to working out the truth of things. Once the site owner began to make a bit of money through advertising, though, that respect dwindled until he started driving away the people who generated most of his content. he couldn't distinguish between me telling him he didn't understand my point and me telling him he was too stupid to understand my point. Sigh. I was his #2 writer second only to him. I left when he drove off #5. Intellectual sparring matches can be fun, but things can also get out of hand necessitating a cool-off corner for the combatants. Banishment isn't cooling off. 8)

Now on to the SOTU. I've been dreading it. I can't stand watching him speak, so I'll do it with a re-run that I can pause or fast-forward.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Congressmen chanting "USA! USA! USA!"

It sounded better in the original German.

Alfred Differ said...

@treebeard | Have you read Deenan's book yet? It came out this month.

Treebeard said...

No Alfred, I just thought it looked interesting based on excerpts and reviews. I almost never read recently-published books, especially political and popular ones, because they tend to be trendy garbage. But this one looks better than most. At this point there's enough free books published before 1923 that I never need to buy another book. Maybe you can read it and tell me how it is (heh).

Pappenheimer said...

Dr. Brin,
Regarding Republican ex-officers running for office, don't be too welcoming:
During my 20 in the USAF I ran into several such officers who, with meteorological degrees, were vociferous deniers of anthropogenic climate change. At least 2 tried to tell me that evolution could not be true because the laws of thermodynamics forbade it (one was my CO at the time.) Another CO, without knowing its origins, had reproduced the Omphalos Hypothesis (the world was created only a few thousand years ago, but old.) Most were fundamentalist Christians looking forwards to the End Times. These were not the people you want making science policy.

Hard technical knowledge can be amazing compartmentalized.

Lloyd Flack said...

Pappenheimer,
The USAF has a reputation as a nest for fundamentalists. I have not heard the same about the Army and the Navy.

Marino said...


Dr. Brin, (contraddictions of liberalism)
"This is very old stuff. Many of the same “contradictions of liberalism” were hollered by the marxists for 150 years "

those contraddictions are real, but they're also what fuels progress and change.
Any system lacking contraddictions will be something static, basically dead.

Tim H. said...

Saw an interesting link in a comment at Charlie's Diary:
http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/10126-how-a-brutal-strain-of-american-aristocrats-have-come-to-rule-america
I had thought for years that many conservatives had entirely too much bullwhip and mint julep for their own good.
BTW, what may become a valuable talking point, "You like toll roads?", in reply to positive remarks about "Herr Drumph!"s" infrastructure plans.

Tim H. said...

Lunar eclipse nearing totality in Western Missouri now, weather permitting, those of you on the west coast should have a better view.

LarryHart said...

A Post-pourri:

Dr Brin:

TCB geez. Some perspective. Americans would not have elected a black man, if he had one angry bone in his body. I liked the fact that he liked everybody and wanted to believe 'folks' could be reasoned with. But yes, it was also frustrating and even infuriating.

TCB:

You're not wrong, Dr. Brin. But yeah, that's how frustrated I was.


Agreed on both points. President Obama couldn't come off as an angry black man, but he should have pardoned Don Siegleman. Anyone who thinks that partisan politicization of the Justice Department began with Jefferson Beauregard Sessions should read up on that sorry case.

Democrats have held off on anything that could be portrayed as abuse of authority on the grounds that "Republicans could do that too". Now that Republicans have demonstrated conclusively that they'll "do that" anyway, I hope Democrats find their spine when hey're back in office next year.

Alfred Differ:

Now on to the SOTU. I've been dreading it. I can't stand watching him speak, so I'll do it with a re-run that I can pause or fast-forward.


I watched the first 40 minutes or so, mainly to be educated on what the pundits would be discussing this morning, but after awhile, my attention waned. It wasn't an arousing or impressive speech, irrespective of political stance. A lot of pablum. My main takeaways were that he had to clap for his own applause lines and explicitly tell us how to feel about everything he said.

Zepp Jamieson:

Congressmen chanting "USA! USA! USA!"

It sounded better in the original German.


I forgot to mention that last night, so I'm glad you did. I think that was when I finally walked away entirely.

LarryHart said...

Marino:

those contraddictions are real, but they're also what fuels progress and change.
Any system lacking contraddictions will be something static, basically dead.


I haven't quoted "Hamilton" so much lately, but apropos that:


BURR:
"The Constitution's a mess."

HAMILTON:
"So, it needs amendments."

BURR:
"It's full of contradictions."

HAMILTON:
"So is independence."

...

LarryHart said...

Pappenheimer:

During my 20 in the USAF I ran into several such officers who, with meteorological degrees, were vociferous deniers of anthropogenic climate change.


Dr Brin has often mentioned how the Air Force Academy is a hotbed of extreme Christian fundamentalists. I think he'd rather see Navy officers in office.

At least 2 tried to tell me that evolution could not be true because the laws of thermodynamics forbade it


That seems to be a talking point of theirs. The quad preachers on my university campus (1980s) used the same argument. Basically, they're saying that laws of entropy mean that nothing can increase in complexity. Point out that energy is coming into the system, and they'll think they have you with "But what if you include the sun in the system??? What then, smart guy?" As if increasing entropy of the entire system (including the sun) means that every single part of the system has to increase in entropy.

I'm nowhere near as scientifically schooled as many on this list, but even I can take that one apart.

LarryHart said...

Tim H:

Lunar eclipse nearing totality in Western Missouri now, weather permitting, those of you on the west coast should have a better view.


It was still about a quarter light when it neared the horizon here in Chicago, but my daughter and I did get to see it for a bit.

LarryHart said...

Glad I wasn't the only one who noticed...

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Jan31.html#item-1


Some of the most enthusiastic applause came from Trump himself, who often was so pleased with what he'd just said that he stepped back from the podium to join in the ovation.

Bob Neinast said...

Yeah. What Pappenheimer said.

My Representative is Steve Stivers, currently has a rank of Brigadier General in the Ohio Army National Guard. Served in Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, and Djibouti. Has a Bronze Star.

What good are GOP former officers as candidates if all they do is vote lock-step (or is that goose-step?) with the rest of the party?

Robert said...

A Great Wall story.

The First Emperor, Chin Shi Huang Ti, unifier of China, was an extremely harsh tyrant (admired by Mao, no surprise there). The Great Wall was largely built by prisoners, both political and criminal. Here's what led to his death.

Two of the Wall laborers were late to work:
"What's the penalty for being late?" "Death".
"What's the penalty for killing the Emperor?" "Death."
"Let's kill the Emperor!"

Bob Pfeiffer

PS - Most of Oregon was overcast through the entire lunar eclipse.

Darrell E said...

Perhaps Trump could show off his artsy deal making skills and make a deal with the Chinese to build his wall. After all, they've got experience and would probably be cheaper than any domestic contractor.

Oh shit, I forgot. He's going to make the Mexican government pay for it so it doesn't matter how much it costs.

occam's comic said...

Bob,
It is my understanding that the first Emperor of China died of mercury poisoning in an attempt to gain immortality. The attempts to kill him did not go well for the people who tried (and failed).

LarryHart said...

@Darrell E,

I'm sure he never specified "The Mexican government". His promises are much more vague than that, and so much easier to claim that they came true. I think he was planning to have illegal aliens fined on their way out, similar to how you have to pay $20* at the Toronto or Vancouver airports in order to leave Canada.

* Caveat emptor, this is a true statement, but I'm speaking from 20 year old experience, and before 9/11. It might be different now. Also, I don't remember if it was $20 apiece or $20 for the two of us.

Marino said...

It's not (yet) Trinary, maybe not even Primal but...
https://youtu.be/mh_hSkw9n_Y

Orca imitates human speech

john fremont said...

@Pappenheimer

Hard technical knowledge can be amazing compartmentalized

I can vouch for that. I remember when I was in the Marine Corps getting into discussions with evangelicals I served with . We were all electronics techs trained in radio wave propagation, electronic troubleshooting, radar principles, electronic warfare countermeasures etc. Yet the evangelicals thought that the red shift in the spectrum from distant stars and galaxies was an optical illusion and therefore the universe was not that old. Remember, these were techs that graduated radar and electronic warfare training.

Alfred Differ said...

treebeard,

If you stick to political books that are that old, you'll be left with the mistaken impression that the intelligentsia still thinks socialism works. The economics books of that era are full of historical crap too. Physics and mathematics are timeless, though. 8)

My first impression of Deenan's book is he as a political motivation to use the American meaning for 'liberal' which translates to 'progressive' for people of the world everywhere else but here. Progressives can wear the label for 'modern liberal', but a lot of liberals don't like it when they do that.

Liberalism goes a long way back to the Enlightenment era. If you look at what American Conservatives are conserving, much of it is classical liberalism ideology. Some of us liberals find common cause with conservatives there.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | I watched the first 40 minutes or so

I gave up earlier. I was grinding my teeth enough to result in a large co-pay for my next dental visit.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@Larry Hart re the "USA!" chant

There was a brilliant satire on CBC back in the 90s called "The Newsroom" (not to be confused with the Sorkin HBO series) which made fun of a ...CBC newsroom. The manager was a vicious, backstabbing and dimwitted moron, not unlike a certain American president, but he often had lunch with his neighbor, an elderly Jew who had survived the camps.
They were discussing Progressive Conservative calls for more patriotism in Parliament, and the old fellow uttered a line I'll never forget: "When politicians begin waving flags, fascism has arrived."

Robert said...

Occam:

I'm in inclined to agree with you about the First Emperor's death. He patronized Low Taoist quacks peddling immortality pills, with the inevitable result. The Chinese Emperor, by Jean Levi, is a good piece of historical fiction about him.

My story is mainly a fine old Tyrant Joke, probably closest to Suetonius' account of Caligula's assassination.

The gap between popular and serious Taoism seems to a yawning chasm, dwarfing the one between the Jesus of the parables and the Sermon on the Mount, and Christian Fundamentalism. For a look at the real thing, and as a way to honor her life and her death, I recommend reading (or, in my case, rereading) Ursula K. le Guin's version of the Tao Te Ching.


Bob Pfeiffer

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

There was a brilliant satire on CBC back in the 90s called "The Newsroom" (not to be confused with the Sorkin HBO series) which made fun of a ...CBC newsroom. The manager was a vicious, backstabbing and dimwitted moron, not unlike a certain American president,


I think I might have seen a few episodes of that show in syndication, way back in the late 90s.

I don't remember much about the show besides the general tone. One line I do kinda remember was a manager--probably the one you describe--talking about how all of the solicitations he's getting for charitable contributions are giving him "donor fatigue". A woman then points out that for that to be the case, he should have actually given to some of them already.

raito said...

We have a Marine Captain (as close as I could figure out) running for GOP candidate for senate. I can barely listen to his radio ads. They're more jingoistic than a WWI John Wayne movie. He also claims to be an outsider. yeah, and outsider who's been in politics since college, at least.

About the only thing I do agree with him on is that there's been a bunch of politicians who switched from D to R (as he has).

And out host is still ignorant about sumo. And I still don't have a better analogy, because all the ones I come up with require cultural referents. Maybe fistfight vs. aikido? It's amusing that Kano first started martial arts because he thought he was a wimp, and wanted to be stronger.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, David Brin, for the extensive explanation you have given us about what democracy is. It has been ... Inspiring.
I hope I can read the writings of Friedrich Hayek in depth; as soon as I have time. I already have a book by Adam Smith "The Wealth of Nations" (which I have not read). Maybe I'll find time in another life.
Now, a comment about democracy in Mexico:
I wonder to what extent, the laws of liberal economics are respected. And I wonder what are the weak points of the liberal economy. In my country, the well-known supervillains of politics have always claimed to be liberal. And I wonder what Machiavellian miseries are being used by the feudal lords of Mexico, in the economic-commercial mechanism, for they have achieved amazing riches for the oligarchies and such terrible misery for Mexico. ¿What tricks are the commercial laws of liberalism twisting in favor of the oligarchs? ¿How do they do that? Knowing it could be more important than we suppose. Very important. For it is money that moves the world, and around its power almost all bend.
All right. I managed to finish something I was building. Now we just need to reinforce the structure, which is paradoxical, because I designed the structure with the purpose of not being so resistant, for defensive reasons. (which seems paradoxical, but it is not).
Hooo. I think the stew has burned a little. This is becoming custom. I must invent something that prevents the food from burning. They say that burned food causes cancer, according to a recent scientific study. When the food burns, certain very dangerous molecules are formed (I suppose you have to prohibit all very fried foods)

Winter 7

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

Hooo. I think the stew has burned a little. This is becoming custom. I must invent something that prevents the food from burning. They say that burned food causes cancer, according to a recent scientific study. When the food burns, certain very dangerous molecules are formed (I suppose you have to prohibit all very fried foods)


At first, I thought you making a metaphor, continuing your thoughts about democracy and oligarchs. Even if that wasn't your intent, it works that way.

LarryHart said...

Some SOTU nuggets I forgot to mention last night...

"Americans are Dreamers too." In other words, "White lives matter."

Also, a call for his cabinet to fire "federal employees who “undermine the public trust or fail the American people”. I don't think he meant that the way it sounds to me. In fact, I'm sure he meant a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

Tim H. said...

LarryHart, "White lives matter" seems bizarre, if law enforcement agencies respond constructively to the concerns of "Black lives matter", it would have to consist, at least in part, of better training and rules of engagement, which would result in fewer people of any variety being shot by Police. Carrying such signs seems so aggressively stupid.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | opposite thing

Yah. I call it 'purge.'


The question is...

Who will break first?
Him and his Stooges or the FBI?

LarryHart said...

@Tim H,

"White lives matter" pretends to be equivalent to "Black Lives Matter" about a different identity group. It's an attempt to make liberals sound hypocritical because they support "special" rights for one group but not for others.

The disingenuousness of the deplorable position is obvious when one realizes that the BLM slogan really means something like, "All lives should matter equally. The problem is that black lives haven't been treated as if they matter. They should."

Plug "white" or "all" into that paragraph instead of "black" and it's obvious why "White lives matter" or "All lives matter" fail as equivalent slogans.

Anonymous said...

Recall that when Donald Trump fired the director of the FBI, the former director had to resort to the strategy of leaking data to news and newspapers. In the current situation, it seems that this is the only alternative of the FBI: to continue filtering data to newspapers. Undoubtedly, there are archives of the activities of Donald Trump and the other Republican leaders. If honest men in the FBI do not have the courage and audacity to filter the files, then everything is lost to the FBI. FBI agents swore to defend the United States. The United States is being attacked by Russia. Now more than ever, is when the FBI is the last defense against a cowardly attack by the Russians.

As for the vital issue of democracy. Since nobody wanted to include ideas to repair democracy in the "winter rain of ideas" I set out to look for a place in the world where democracy worked better. It seems that place exists. Norway. But what I did not like are the high taxes (but the salaries are high, so ...) This is the link:

https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/trumps-address-to-congress/norway-world-s-best-democracy-we-asked-its-people-why-n720151

In the NBC article, they say that Norwegian democracy is something Bernie sanders is looking for. ¿So, Bernie's ideas are fine?
Winter 7

David Brin said...

" "White lives matter" or "All lives matter" fail as equivalent slogans."

They aren't the same, of course.

"White lives matter" is blatantly a racist shout-back by white supremicists.

"All lives matter" is true and a mistake made by liberals who had to be taught that it robs a movement of its rallying cry. Even unintentionally. And I am willing to endure PC 'correction' every year, on this or that, as we move forward. I admit that I glower and murmur dislike of such policing, personally, and I look forward to the day when all such injustices fade and I can shrug off PC. But if we must err, then by all means let us err toward the arc of justice. My whingeing winces over PC correction is nothing to what people of color must suffer, daily.

David Brin said...

The monstrous stupidity of liberal pols and pundits, not to realize that the existence of fact and survival of fact based professions is THE issue that - if won - solves almost all others.

David Brin said...

I just posted on FB:

Amid all the wretched traits of last night's State of the Union speech - the outright lies and refusal to mention the climate change that might end civilization - one sentence goes almost un-noted by most media. It's when Donald Trump asked Congress to let cabinet members fire anyone they like. A few pundits did call this an attempt to cow the FBI. But in fact, it is much more - a direct assault on the very concept and American tradition of an apolitical civil service.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/how-to-work-for-a-president-who-hates-the-civil-service/2018/01/26/34dbe95c-0204-11e8-bb03-722769454f82_story.html?utm_term=.97616398b865

It goes back to 1883! The Civil Service Act, established that federal positions (below the top secretaries and political appointments) should be awarded on the basis of merit instead of political affiliation. It was a milestone of western civilization, ending the "spoils system" and for 135 years it let Americans grow accustomed to public servants who - if often nerdy or even officious - were seldom corrupt or grotesquely biased.

Professionals, they do the myriad jobs that keep the most complex civilization of all time spinning along vastly, vastly better than ALL of its predecessors. Combined. The Civil Service Act protected them from zealous over-reach by FDR, fully as much as they now frustrate the Murdochian quest for feudalism. (Oh, how conservatives will scream for it, when Democrats are back in charge.)

(See how far back I've been hollering about this. http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/…/a-war-against-expertise.html )

This is part of an overall putsch against all "elites" who might resist feudalism's return. Name an exception! The War on Science extends to journalism, medicine, law, teaching, economics and now the "deep state" FBI, intelligence agencies and military officer corps. And above all civil servants.

Name an exception! You must challenge your mad uncles to name one profession of knowledge and skill, that's not under attack. He'll sputter in impotent anger and he won't change his mind, such a lackey he is, to the new plantation lords.

But his wife is quietly listening.

TCB said...

The apolitical civil service has been under subtle attack for decades. A simple example of this is my own pension: for much of the 20th Century, civil service employees had a civil service pension waiting at retirement. It wasn't a fortune but you didn't need to think about it much. Along with the still-festering fad of forcing non-government employees to become experts in managing a 401k instead of having a defined pension, we at the Postal Service (and many other agencies, I'm sure) got switched from CSRS (Civil Service Retirement System) to FERS (Federal Employees Retirement System) in 1987. I came on just two years too late for CSRS, which was a much better deal than what we have now.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

"White lives matter" is blatantly a racist shout-back by white supremicists.


But the thing is, it sounds like a slogan that should be equivalent in status to BLM. Right-wingers can convince some listeners that by supporting BLM but condemn WLM, liberals demonstrate that they are arguing special rights for some identity groups and denying them to others.

That's why I always take pains to point out why "White Lives Matter" (and the movement for Men's Liberation) are different things, in fact the opposite things of similar minority-rights movements. "Black Lives Matter" and other movements around minority rights argue that a particular group deserves the same rights and dignity accorded to mainstream citizens. White supremacists and Men's Rights advocates argue for their group's rights to continue denying rights and dignity to others.

It's a master stroke of sophistry that the right gets away with labeling calls for full citizenship as "special rights for an identity group", while simultaneously labeling their call for their own special status as a demand for their "equal rights".


"All lives matter" is true and a mistake made by liberals who had to be taught that it robs a movement of its rallying cry.


I'm not sure what you're blaming on liberals here. "All Lives Matter" is typically a right-wing counter-chant to "Black Lives Matter", as if the one precludes the other.

During the Democratic presidential debates (way back when the earth was cooling in 2016), one of the moderators actually asked Hillary and Bernie to choose between slogans, "'Black Lives Matter' or 'All Lives Matter'?" My thought was that they should clarify the point that Black Lives Matter precisely because All Lives Matter, but black lives are currently being excluded in a way that is unjust.

Robert said...

And, from the beings who are really in charge, there's #NoLivesMatter...

Cthulhu fhtagn!


Bob Pfeiffer.

Bob Neinast said...

Turns out PR matters. If the movement had been named BLM2 (Black Lives Matter Too), then the "White Lives Matter" wouldn't have worked. (Of course, they then would have found some other way to denigrate BLM2). PS: It's not too late to change the name.

LarryHart said...

@Bob Neinast,

Maybe PR (public relations) matters, but PR (Puerto Rico) obviously does not matter.

matthew said...

Here is the next shoe to drop - Fox news is now admitting that there may have been collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/12/01/why-flynn-s-guilty-plea-is-bad-news-for-team-trump.html

First time I've seen the great Fox red wall crack on this subject.

I would have bet money against this one.

Now I'm wondering - is Fox getting ready to push for President Pence? Is Trump too wounded for even Fox to defend?



Zepp Jamieson said...

Matthew, that article is two months old, and the "red wall" holds firm. Although various cracks have appeared.

matthew said...

Hm, it's back on the Fox homepage as of today.
I'll admit I didn't look at the dateline.
Thanks for the check.

Alfred Differ said...

In case anyone wants to revisit their pet paradox theory and compare to what's happening in the journals... 8)

https://phys.org/news/2018-02-hardy-paradox-stronger-conflict-quantum.html

Classically impossible events (like Trump winning the 2016 election) appear to have a non-zero probability if one is willing to surrender locality in ones theories. That means we get to blame the aliens for this political mess, right?

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Classically impossible events (like Trump winning the 2016 election) appear to have a non-zero probability if one is willing to surrender locality in ones theories.


If only we could prove that it was mathematically impossible for Trump to have won, then you'd have to acknowledge #IllegitimatePresident.


That means we get to blame the aliens for this political mess, right?


Trump already does that. Not the same kind of aliens, though.

Maybe we need to build a wall around earth, and make Mars pay for it. That might also solve global warming.

LarryHart said...

From the NYT's lips to God's ear, I hope:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/01/opinion/trump-fbi-winner-justice.html

...
The president has measured Mr. Mueller for the guillotine for months. As the bloodhounds close in on the Oval Office, he may sharpen his blade and place the prosecutor’s head on a pike. If so, he’ll have to confront the Constitution. And he’ll lose again.

LarryHart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/01/opinion/chief-justice-roberts-middle.html


The court granted a last-minute stay of execution to Vernon Madison, a 67-year-old who has spent the last 32 years on Alabama’s death row for murdering a police officer. He is now disabled by strokes and suffers from vascular dementia that has erased the memory of his crime, although he is evidently still able to understand that the state plans to put him to death for something he did. Supreme Court precedents dating to the 1980s make it unconstitutional to execute someone who lacks the mental capacity to understand the relationship between his crime and his death sentence.


Bold emphasis mine.

I post this not to argue about the death penalty itself, but to mention to Brin fans that the felon in this case seems to have gone down the glavers' "path to redemption" from the second Uplift trilogy.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

A.F. Rey said...

I'm so glad this post is done. I keep reading the title as "...steering us to Helvetica," and I keep wondering why Dr. Brin would prefer Courier. :o

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