Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A worrisome state of the State

A lesser political missive, this time... but still filled with important matters.

Amid all the wretched traits of last month’s State of the Union speech - the outright lies and refusal to mention the climate change* that might end civilization - one sentence went 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.

“Tonight,” he said, “I call on the congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers—and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.”...  

In other words, Trump is calling for an end to any semblance of independence for the IRS, the FBI, the Department of Justice, or any other federal agency.

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.

This is part of an overall putsch against all "elites" who might resist feudalism's return. 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.


== Tensions with Iran ==

Um... Brin linking to... Breitbart? Well, it shows that I don't insulate myself in a closed Nuremberg rally (like they do.) But also it's important to note when evidence partly contradicts a theory of mine! Apparently, after surging for nine months, under Trump, naval tensions with Iran in the Persian Gulf have eased recently, at least briefly counter to my expectation that both the GOP and the Iranian mullahs sough a "Tonkin Gulf" or "Gleiwitz" pretext for war.

Now, taking anything from Breitbart's lie-fest as at-best provisional, I will certainly watch carefully for signs that I am wrong, in my huge pile of reasons to believe that all the world's tyrants want a nifty little Tomahawk War in the Gulf... followed quickly by a northern neighbor stepping in and collecting every marble. The logic still holds. But boy do I want to be wrong!

Oh, but liars gonna lie: Breitbart turns out to be giving half the story. A more reputable link shows that Iranians are replacing easily detected boats with smaller, quieter drones. 

Here's the crux, though. Why do we keep naval units in the Gulf... at all? It's no longer very strategic. Under Obama, the U.S. achieved virtual energy independence! Even Europe is less dependent, making it less and less defensible to keep a carrier task force hemmed in a vulnerable corner where chaos reigns.

Yes, every Republican president rushes to war, so watch out for Reichstag Fires. Still, this is so flimsy, I bet the American people won't buy it.

== Manchurian Candidate ==

Speaking of justified paranoia. Some of you have seen links to this 1980s thriller novel about a naively arrogant businessman who astonishingly wins the Republican presidential nomination, then the election – with help from the Soviet KGB. The Twentieth Day of January, written by British spy author Ted Allbeury in 1980 and just reissued in the U.S., has stunning relevance, especially when combined with The Manchurian Candidate.  

The new president, according to his campaign manager–cum-sleeper agent Andrew Dempsey, enjoys the trappings of office “like a kid in a toy shop” but is somewhat fuzzier on policy beyond promising “to slash taxes, cut unemployment, and achieve peace on earth.”’

== Issues we must face ==

Snippets that say so much: (1) The planet just had its hottest 4 years in recorded history, while confederates fiddle in denial, Earth burns.

(2) And then more treason: Mulvaney requests zero funding for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Meanwhile K Street lobbying firms have tripled profits. Swamp. Um, drained?

(3) Ah, leadership, inspiration and morale. In Trump's first year in office, 34 percent of top aides have either resigned,been fired or moved to different positions. That level of turmoil is off the charts compared with recent presidencies. This tabulation of indictments and convictions of senior administrationofficials since 1968 shows a simply stunning disparity between Republicans and Democrats. Note that this compilation was made before Donald Trump took office, and hence the GOP figures would by now be staggeringly worse.

Name an era when "America was great." No matter what decade you pick, public service wasn't like this. Nor was there a war on science and every other fact profession.

== Bias in an adversarial process ==

Does anyone in politics or punditry have three neurons to scrape together? Trump supporters scream “bias!” because some at the FBI, or Fusion GPS, or or Robert Mueller’s team may have - despite Mueller’s scrupulous efforts - displayed distaste against Trump or even Republicans. “Bias!” 

Alas, Trump opponents should have a trivial answer - one that no Democrat or journalist or independent public figure has spoken, to my knowledge. That answer is… “So?” I mean prosecutorial bias? Horrors! … Um, *not!*

Dig it, our justice system - like markets, democracy, science etc. - is designed to be adversarial

There is no need for investigators or prosecutors to be completely disinterested or impartial, so long as they follow well-known standards of conduct and subject their behavior to defense discovery and scrutiny. Eagerness to “get that guy” is their job!

Take Ken Starr, whose relentless pursuit of Bill Clinton cost the taxpayers upwards of a hundred million dollars, put the nation through hell, and finally came up with just one thing: a husband desperately fibbing about some consensual-adult 3rd-base infidelity in a hallway. That… was… it. 

Sure, the whole Starr Chamber witch hunt was disgusting political theater, but among all the decrepit lunacies of that affair, the least noxious one was “these investigators blatantly dislike the guy they’re investigating.” 

Starr and his pack committed innumerable lies, torts and even criminal offenses. But enthusiasm for their goal was not one of them. So long as a skilled defense team has full access to every action and datum… and so long as the courts are fair and unbiased… then prosecutors should certainly want to succeed at prosecuting.

All of the current, desperate confederate whining against Mueller et. al. is far beyond hypocritical. It isn’t remotely logical! And it is a sign of the microcephalic stupidity of liberals, that they are unable to pause, perceive this counter-meme - and a myriad others - and actually respond with knife-like logic. Caught between evil-treason on one side and stupidity on the other… what can we do?

Well, start by subscribing to CONTRARY BRIN!

 == The Authoritarians ==

Highly recommended by many: The Authoritarians by Prof. Bob Altemeyer. One of you summarized “Altemeyer reported the nucleus of the authoritarian mindset was the belief that "It's a dangerous world." From this, all else follows. The idea that the Strong Man at the top must be obeyed and believed, because he will protect us from that Dangerous World. The gut emotional response that any evidence that contradicts the Authority must be Fake News. The eager embrace of violence, the consistent hypocrisy, all of it from fear of the Dangerous World Out There.” 

Indeed, this jibes with the findings of neural scientists that Republicans tend to have much stronger fight-flight-fear reactions and also easily triggered disgust.

Finally, the Morality Police not only gave Two Scoops a mulligan on using a prostitute while his wife was nursing their child... and all the other openly avowed P-Grabbing crap... but now the GOP finance chair resigns for sex scandals... and it happens to be one of the world's top Gambling Lords. Another casino mogul funnels laundered "profits" through his Macau clubs to the GOP from a foreign government. Um... our parents' version of conservatism disliked gambling, prostitution, slumlords, divorce, lying and bullying. Oh, and treason.

-->

100 comments:

Tim H. said...

Ironic, how an apparent conservative victory has resulted in a coarsening of society.

Jacob said...

I thought that one line was the most dangerous thing said as well. I don't have much faith in our current leadership so I'm worried about giving them new tools. It's unfortunate.

sociotard said...

Re: Tabulations of criminal activity
So . . . Three interpretations
1) Democrats are less likely to appoint crooks
2) Democrats are less likely to appoint stupid crooks
3) "Deep State" bias confirmed.

Which of these do you think my Crazy Uncle will pick up? (I can see it now, "There weren't any indictments for the IRS targeting Tea Partiers! The game is rigged!")

sociotard said...

A good problem to have:
Electricity demand is flat; it is not rising with GDP or Population. So the Forecasts utility companies make to plan for growth and maintenance are not working out.

To be clear, while this is a better problem than brownouts for energy shortages or further increased CO2 emissions, it is still a problem that needs solved.

occam's comic said...

It certainly feels like the arctic is moving towards a new state. The autumn and winter in the arctic are much warmer than they used to be, exactly the effect expected from the greenhouse effect. And it looks like this movement is self- amplifying.

And on another couple of notes:
Current measured global increase in temperature 1.2 - 1.4C (depending on how far back you put the baseline.)

Sulfate particles reflecting sunlight (mostly from China's coal burning) are reducing the global temperature by ~0.7 c (0.5-1.0 C range)

Time lags between the release of CO2 and the full climate effect will give us 0.2 - 0.5 C increase.

If you put it together we already have enough CO2 and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere to move us well past a 2 degree C increase.

And in the best case scenario we will still emit huge amounts of CO2 for 20 more years.

I think we need to really think hard about how we can collectively adapt to the changing climate, because that change is coming not mater what we do.

(although we could potentially make climate change worse than it already will be if we don't stop burning fossil fuels.)

Twominds said...

Hmmm, I'm quite sure I read this post before. I can't find it just now, but I'm sure of it.

No reason not to repost it, it's an important topic, but I would like a heads-up on it.

Tony Fisk said...

Speaking of the Reichstag Fire, which happened 85 years ago today...

Whether he caused it or not, Hitler didn't waste the opportunity.

David Brin said...

I just posted this on FB: We need a new slogan. How about "Any given day!" Seriously. On any given day of the Two Scoops Administration, stuff happens that -- if it occurred under Obama or Clinton -- would have triggered shrieks of apoplexy on the right-o-sphere. Jimminy! Just squint and imagine either of them - or Crooked Hillary - kept in the White House, with Top Secret access, a relative whose links to hostile nations and innumerable money laundering racketeers were one percent as blatant as this?

Please. We are begging you residually sane American conservatives. DAILY squint at the latest scandal and envision honestly what your reaction would have been. Is your partisanship so powerful that you can shrug off the tsunami of resignations, firings, indictments, subpoenas, slander-tweets and plea bargains? Can you see how it makes you look, to suddenly denounce as "deep state" all the FBI agents, intel agencies and military officers who are only doing their jobs, protecting us all from this clown car of stunning treason?

Are you truly able to rationalize this all-out war on every single profession that deals with the endangered species called "facts"?

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/jared-kushners-security-clearance-downgraded-sources/story?id=53397218

Alfred Differ said...

@Tony Fisk | Regarding Chinese instability...

I'm inclined to disagree with Tim Bray on that. The Chinese are simply drifting back toward rule-by-emperor. Since they are the oldest living civilization on the planet and spent most of that time firmly stuck to this attractor, I don't see it as instability. What they ARE is meta-stable with two states. One has power centralized and a weak national economy where the coastal provinces are 'taxed' to support inner provinces and that central government. The other has power distributed, a weak national economy and rich coastal provinces that are inclined to associate with foreign interests more than interests with inner provinces. They've been doing this for countless centuries. Well... maybe not countless but for so many that we really should start from the assumption that they can keep doing it long after our civilization is lost to history.

Our globalized economy is NOT something new to them. What is new is that they aren't at the center of it and probably won't be for at least a century... maybe two or three.

It is a mistake when we think short term when they are involved.

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul SB | I've suspect for some time that the nature/nurture 'debate' is strongest in communities that believe strongly in Social Darwinism. Anyone who can say 'Duh... it's both of course' isn't one of those believers as I think anyone who picks one is picking a socially darwinian extreme.

@TCB | I'm going to ponder 'sculpture' a bit. It sounds too close to 'nurture' for me when someone else can sculpt a tool, but makes some sense as self-sculpting. Hmm...

Tim H. said...

Alfred,the Chinese may return to the center sooner rather than later, given the fascination of the .001% with "Creative destruction" and their mastery of the latter.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Please. We are begging you residually sane American conservatives. DAILY squint at the latest scandal and envision honestly what your reaction would have been. Is your partisanship so powerful that you can shrug off the tsunami of resignations, firings, indictments, subpoenas, slander-tweets and plea bargains? Can you see how it makes you look, to suddenly denounce as "deep state" all the FBI agents, intel agencies and military officers who are only doing their jobs, protecting us all from this clown car of stunning treason?

Are you truly able to rationalize this all-out war on every single profession that deals with the endangered species called "facts"?


Sadly, the non-response to this indicates the truth of the assertion...

#ThereAreNoGoodRepublicans

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

I'm going to ponder 'sculpture' a bit. It sounds too close to 'nurture' for me when someone else can sculpt a tool, but makes some sense as self-sculpting. Hmm...


What I like about the term "sculpting" is that it suggests a role for both nature and nurture. You have freedom to sculpt from a blank slate (to mix metaphors), but you don't have absolute freedom. You are bound by the nature of the medium you are sculpting, the size of the original block, and such. But within those parameters, you have plenty of leeway.

Paul SB said...

Alfred,

You nailed it pretty well with this one:

"I've suspect for some time that the nature/nurture 'debate' is strongest in communities that believe strongly in Social Darwinism. Anyone who can say 'Duh... it's both of course' isn't one of those believers as I think anyone who picks one is picking a socially darwinian extreme."

For some reason the US seems to prefer extreme voices on either side. Is that a result of a couple centuries with only two flavors of leaders to choose from, or is that cart before the horse? Civilizations are such complex systems it borders on the Sisyphean to tease out a sufficiently complete diagnosis to guide reasonable treatment. This points to the need to not take glib, simple responses at all seriously.

Regarding "sculpture" I can't think of a word that means to mould oneself specifically, leaving out the possibility of someone else doing the shaping. Perhaps in the context of nature and nurture the word "discretion" or some synonym would get the message across that it is a matter of the individual's choices rather than the choices of others, which belongs in the nurture category. But discretion fails to rhyme, making it much less catchy. Maybe if we give up on clinging to the words "nature" and "nurture" a better trio could be found. "Nurture" is a bit misleading, anyway. It's partly about nurturing, but if there is lead in the water causing permanent brain damage that isn't exactly nurturing, it's a part of the environment that might not have anything to do with anyone's choices (though clearly not in the case of Flint, though the choices there were more like indifference and gross negligence than nurturing. Maybe it would be more useful to think in terms of structure, superstructure and infrastructure on an individual scale, equating structure to the biological aspects of a body itself, which would include genetics, superstructure would be beliefs and infrastructure would be everything physically external to the body, be that contaminants in the water, negligent parents, a government that deliberately fails its citizens, etc.

One of the problems with the idea that it's a dangerous world out there is that it doesn't automatically equate to the SofA so characteristic of the right wing. If it's a dangerous world out there, wouldn't it make sense to want better police protection and a more fair justice system? Liberals recognize that the world is a dangerous place, but unlike conservatives they don't have their heads in the sand about the dangers represented by the for-profiteering business community. Some do have their head din the sand about the dangers of the government institutions they want to protect us from those profiteers, though.

occam's comic said...

Just to stir the pot.

NATURE - NUTURE - FREE WILL

LarryHart said...

Nature = iron ore
Nurture = refined iron
Sculpture = a sword, a magnet, a car...

* * *

BTW, In case I don't get back "here" today, welcome everyone to the end of the six consecutive months whose (English) names have seven or more letters and the start of the six consecutive months whose names fewer than seven letters. It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Twominds said...

@ Occam's comic

I like the term sculpture better than the term free will here. Sculpture acknowledges that while you have options, how many depending on the situation, they're not unlimited. Free will doesn't imply that one way or the other, so is too wide a term here.

greg byshenk said...

Just a comment: it's not clear to me that 'sculpture' is a separate category. What falls under it is really just 'self'-nurture, which is itself a result of nature and nurture.

occam's comic said...

I dislike using the word sculpture in this discussion because
1) It already has a well understood meaning (that has nothing to do with what is under discussion.)
2) As others have pointed out it is a poor metaphor.

You may dislike the concept of Free Wil because of its philosophical baggage, but it is the concept under discussion.

Maybe the more traditional metaphor of a charioteer would make it more clear.

The charioteer is you, the individual, with conciseness, and the ability to make choices.
You are being pulled by two powerful horses each with their own will.
The first horse is your biological needs and desires.
The second horse your social upbringing.
Getting the horses to take you were you want to go is a fairly difficult skill that takes time and effort to achieve. Most people spend much of their life with the horses directing their path and the charioteer taken along for the ride.

David S said...

Occam,

I'm more inclined to say that everyone is taken for a ride and then justify the "choice" of path after the fact.

occam's comic said...

David S

"I'm more inclined to say that everyone is taken for a ride and then justify the "choice" of path after the fact."

I would agree that at times everyone does that. And that most people behave that way most of the time. But with time and effort you can develop the skill necessary to sometimes direct that chariot to go were you want to go.

Twominds said...

On gerrymandering: could Cut and Freeze work to redistrict fairly for both parties?

sociotard said...

Far easier way to fix Gerrymandering: Switch to a proportional system. Perhaps the mixed proportional system used by Germany and New Zealand.

There isn't anything in the Constitution to prevent this. All it says is that states get representatives by population. A federal law says that we get one Representative to one geographic area. Changing that kind of law is far easier than amending the constitution; just change it to say the states reps get their reps divided by proportion. Bam! now there is no gerrymandering. And Republicans in New York City and Democrats in rural Alabama won't feel like their votes are wasted. We could even see third parties start to win more seats.

Of course, for that to work, we'd need to make the parties themselves stronger. We were so afraid of the "smoke filled back rooms" that we forgot the benefits of the party system. Donald Trump never would have won the nomination with strong parties.

Twominds said...

I don't even dare mention a proportional system! The US seems so wedded to the district system. The proportional system has drawbacks too of course, but at this moment, I have the idea they would be less than those of a dysfunctional district system.

Anonymous said...

My computer suffered another attack. I was checking my email when I found a suspicious email in Spanish. As a precaution, I did not open the attached document, but I copied the name of the alleged sender to look up that person's data on the web, but accidentally copied the name with a Hashtag that, when I started searching, activated a virus that deactivated my antivirus in seconds and changed the my modem parameters, leaving me without internet access.
It is rare that starting data search from an email can trigger a virus. ¿Or the problem would be that starting a text search that included the Hashtag activates a virus?
Anyway ... Take an hour and a half to regain control of the computer, repair the antivirus and fix the modem.
¡ Haaaaaa! Those damn fascists of the elite in Mexico ...
So. Beware of unknown Hashtag!

Winter7

David S said...

I like the fair representation act solution. It merges districts into larger districts and then runs ranked choice multi winner elections that result is more representative results. Since it gets rid of winner take all, it reduces the effects of gerrymandering.

http://www.fairvote.org/fair_rep_in_congress#why_rcv_for_congress

This is what California would look like:
https://fairvote.app.box.com/v/FairRepCalifornia

Anonymous said...

With regard to the problem of global warming. It just occurred to me that probably other civilizations in our galaxy have already had the same problem. And perhaps they, after hundreds of thousands of years, managed to find high-tech solutions. If we could access that knowledge.
If it is certainly not convenient to send an email to the Borg (the Republicans look like the Borg) or the Klingons, if it would be convenient to listen to all the information that the aliens are transmitting. (without falling into traps) It is possible that the intergalactic "Jehovah Witnesses" are transmitting to all their faith, mixed with valuable information of great value, granted by extraterrestrials who seek to be congruent with the mercy and love of their own god. (by helping third world worlds that do not enjoy the presence of "God") (the extraterrestrial god).
¿Had someone mentioned this idea before?

¡Time to make repairs!.
Winter7

locumranch said...


Trump does the horrifically unthinkable!

He endorses Meritocracy by calling on Congress "to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers—and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people".

Standing in his way, of course, are the omnipresent Public Services Unions who safeguard the sinecures of the professionally incompetent government employee, while simultaneously demanding the right to extort agency 'fair-share' service fees from its non-union members in order to finance union expenditures.

Aside from this ongoing argument (Does it violate a public employee’s First Amendment rights to be forced to pay an “agency fee” for services that unions provide on his involuntary behalf?) that is presently before the US Supreme Court, there is a much greater & more presenting issue regarding the autonomous self-replicating bureaucracies of the Deep State:

'Does a slavish US Polity serve a tyrannical Deep State, or does a slavish Deep State serve a democratically-empowered US polity?'

We live in a world where the US polity has less & less influence over its increasingly non-representative Deep State agencies that exert influence, enact regulation, assume extralegal authority, withhold information, employ the lethal use of military force against its own citizens & even declare WAR on foreign agencies without the express democratic approval of the polity.

This is, perhaps, the KEY ISSUE of our current era:

Who is in charge here? 'We the People' or faceless government sinecure?


Best
______
On a lighter note, Monica Lewinsky says #metoo, vindicates Ken Starr, accuses Bill Clinton of sexual assault, harassment & the misuse of authority by a person in a position of trust, and revokes her sexual consent 30 years after the fact, proving that our ex-president is a criminal rapist pervert on par with Harvey Weinstein. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

¿How old was Monica Lewinsky when Clinton stumbled on top of her?

Winter7

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Winter
Monica was 22
A lot younger than Clinton - BUT still an adult

If you start restricting what an adult can do with his/her body then you are on a very sticky wicket

The power difference is more important than the age difference - and a CEO - or even a manager using the power difference would be unacceptable (IMHO)

BUT a president has more and LESS power in that situation - AND from Monica's own description of what happened she basically leapt upon HIM

Unless of course you think that his "Presidential Power" was such a strong aphrodisiac that she could not help herself!

And then you are right back into the rights of an adult

Anonymous said...


Duncan Cairncross:
22 years ... Then she was an adult. If she had had 17, then it would be a serious matter. But no.
She states that she could not refuse to give in to the wishes of the most powerful man in the United States. Maybe she felt it was her patriotic obligation to give in to Clinton's wishes? Maybe she was convinced that she could not refuse the request for sex if the request came from someone very powerful? In that case. Should we believe that there was an abuse of power? Is it wrong for a president to request an oral cleaning of the scholarship holders? . In that case; I think they should create laws that prohibit it, to prevent that from happening. If it's wrong. Measures must be taken to prevent it from happening again.
If this happened with Clinton; ¡Imagine the horror that all the girls in the white house are going through!
Winter7

Gregory Byshenk said...

occam's comic said...
Quoting David S

"I'm more inclined to say that everyone is taken for a ride and then justify the "choice" of path after the fact."

I would agree that at times everyone does that. And that most people behave that way most of the time. But with time and effort you can develop the skill necessary to sometimes direct that chariot to go were you want to go.


I suspect that David is making a point similar to mine earlier. That is, any choices we make, including the choice to "develop the skill" to make better choices, or even the choice of "where you want to go" is itself the result of nature/nurture.

David Brin said...

re the civil service... here's my earlier riff about how we could restore some transparency and accountability to our institutions, bu empowering and unleashing the Inspectors General.

http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/inspectorgeneral.html

Robert said...

There is an easy way to destroy the current gerrymandering system. It is currently in the system in fact but needs 27 states to approve it. It's the Congressional Apportionment Amendment. It would require one Representative for every 30,000 people. Given advances in telecommunications technology, we could easily have this work effectively, and as we would have probably over a thousand Representatives, it would completely destroy existing systems of gerrymandering.

And we could even ensure it doesn't cost much more by splitting existing salaries among the thousand Representatives. Congress are already part-time workers, so they could work a regular job and do this as a side gig - in fact, there is a group of people who would be well suited for this seeing they already have seasonal work. Teachers. So Congress is in session during the summer, and during the fall and winter they teach classes.

Rob H.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Robert

Rather than cut the pay of politicians I would rather substantially increase it - and continue to pay them for at least 5 years after they leave office

BUT with a provision - as a "Servant of the People" - you can have NO OTHER MASTERS
Which means NO OTHER INCOME - none at all!

Any other income MUST go to the general exchequer AND the politician MUST have the same wealth at the end of his service as at the start

Anonymous said...

Alan Wood.

Then the Russians have Donald Trump trapped.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/02/27/in-thai-jail-after-sex-training-a-model-who-rattled-russian-elite-asks-u-s-for-help/?utm_term=.a0cb3f92ff74

Tim Wolter said...

Greetings all.

I never know, but rather suspect, that "residually sane conservatives" might be written with me in mind. And in that context I should check in lest LarryHarts "Sadly, the non-response to this indicates the truth of the assertion..." stand as the final word.

Its good to take a break from internet politics from time to time, it clears your head. I've been deep into coaching a high school FIRST robotics team, and also gearing up (pun intended) for a middle school program that has become our "farm club". We'll be off to competition next week where our low budget, almost post apoc looking machine will be up against highly funded Marvels 'o Technology. We'll win some, lose some and learn a lot. I like to think this has been a more worthy effort in service to society than regular ConBrin postings.

Also in the category of perspective adjustment, my annual archaeology trip this year will be not Roman but....WWI. Two weeks in Flanders doing a salvage dig ahead of development. Never been on a dig with its own bomb disposal team before...

I have consistently been more more concerned than most about abuses by our more powerful governmental agencies. IRS, FBI, DOJ....when they act without constraints they can do a lot. I continue to suspect that procedures were not followed regards FISA courts etc. These people are/were reasonably smart and the risk/benefit ratio looked acceptable. They never expected a Trump presidency but then very few did.

I am content to wait a bit, to see what the Inspector General system - which should have many fans in this community - has to say.

Misgivings about the leadership of our "elite" organizations has reasonable grounding and should not be mistaken for a global disdain for the rank and file.

Later

T.Wolter

Paul SB said...

Tim,

"Global disdain for the rank and file" is kind of how poly-ticks has always operated. Leaders have always slandered the followers of those who oppose them, whether it be "those Godless Commies" or the "whores of Babylon." This is one of those dirty 6000 year-old habits I hope we can break out of.

Keep that ODM team close! I once surveyed a Marine Corps bombing range, and years before that an Air Force targeting range outside of Denver. It can get nerve-wracking sinking your Marshalltown into the soil. Recommendation: go over the entire site with Ground-Penetrating Radar before you do anything else. I hear the cost has been coming down in GPR, and it's no doubt less expensive than replacing limbs with prosthetics.

Tim Wolter said...

Paul

I'm not sure how much use GPR would be in Flanders. The sheer number of nasties in the ground is just too large. This site was an observation post south of Ypres and was the site of continuous shelling for FOUR YEARS. Photos of the area in 1918 make pix from the Mars Rover look like a fun vacation slide show.

I guess the real concerning stuff is the poison gas shells, they are still, er, problematic. When you find one you call a special unit of the Belgian army and they take it away to a storage depot for later deactivation. I'm told they have collected enough of them that there is a little backlog in their work.

THIRTY YEARS of backlog.

T.Wolter/Tacitus

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:

I never know, but rather suspect, that "residually sane conservatives" might be written with me in mind. And in that context I should check in lest LarryHarts "Sadly, the non-response to this indicates the truth of the assertion..." stand as the final word.


Sometimes on this list, it does seem as if Dr Brin has you in mind as the avatar. But in this particular case, I was thinking more generally, not of you personally. The silence in the Republican ranks concerning any break with Trumpism is deafening.

It's not all on you.

occam's comic said...

Gregory Byshenk
the problem with saying everything is nature and nurture is that it robs individuals of all agency, it implies that individuals have no capacity for self control and that individuals should not bare any responsibility for their actions.

And although I fully appreciate that both my biological nature and my social nurture both enable and constrain my actions there is still space for me to make choices within those limits. And those choices can have profound consequences for what I do.

Tim H. said...

Tim W. Have a care around the unexploded ordinance. I presume you've availed yourself of "greatwar.nl", scrolling down to "Death Waits Patiently On A Belgian Beach" should answer questions on chemical munitions, which will be deadly until they are made into something else. Radioactive contamination is by it's nature continuously becoming something else, if can wait an absurdly long time, it will become innocuous.

Tim H. said...

Tim W., also "Poison Gas: The Abomination Of Houthulst" on the same page. If we're lucky that's out of date and the gas is being destroyed.

Darrell E said...

Obligatory . . .

"In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields."


That poem really moved me when I first read it as a young teen. Still does whenever I read it. And as a bonus it figures prominently in a pretty decent science fiction novel.

Darrell E said...

occam's comic said...

"Gregory Byshenk
the problem with saying everything is nature and nurture is that it robs individuals of all agency, it implies that individuals have no capacity for self control and that individuals should not bare any responsibility for their actions.


I know that is a common view, with some on all sides of this debate, but I don't think it is so. Two things, 1) when considering things at the level of human behavior, rather than, say, cosmology, concepts such as self control and responsibility seem perfectly valid and useful regardless of the underlying physics. 2) If the way reality actually is means that concepts like self control and responsibility need to be revised to comport with reality, or even if they are revealed to be invalid, then so be it. If that's the way reality really works then I don't think that deceiving ourselves is of any benefit and I don't think that the knowledge would result in pandemic nihilism.

"And although I fully appreciate that both my biological nature and my social nurture both enable and constrain my actions there is still space for me to make choices within those limits. And those choices can have profound consequences for what I do."

I am unsure of what you are suggesting. If your genes, development and environmental history, and perhaps a dash of random chance, do not fully account for what you are including the choices that you make, what additional property or ability are you proposing that would enable a person to make a choice that is not a result of those things? Granted we do not yet have cognition figured out but we do have extremely strong evidence that puts constraints on what the mental processes of the human brain could be capable of. Operating free of the bounds of causality is extremely unlikely given what we already know about reality.

For example, the Standard Model and local determinism. QFT & QM don't seem to offer any likely possibilities that would change things either. There is not even consensus on whether or not QM is deterministic or not, but even if it isn't what does that get you? A certain amount of randomness? How would that result in more control?

occam's comic said...

Darrel E
"I am unsure of what you are suggesting. If your genes, development and environmental history, and perhaps a dash of random chance, do not fully account for what you are including the choices that you make, what additional property or ability are you proposing that would enable a person to make a choice that is not a result of those things?"

That I am a conscious being with free will.

Darrell E said...

Define what you mean by free will. Only if you like of course.

For example do you hold to any of the following common conceptions of free will?

Contracausal Free Will?
Libertarian Free Will?
Compatibilist Free Will?

occam's comic said...

Darrel E
I already said what I mean by the statement that I am a conscious being with free will.

"And although I fully appreciate that both my biological nature and my social nurture both enable and constrain my actions there is still space for me to make choices within those limits. And those choices can have profound consequences for what I do."

Darrell E said...

Okay, fine. I thought by your comments you were inviting discussion.

sociotard said...

Worth pointing out, Free Will isn't necessarily required for a society to enforce laws and social norms. There's a Scott Adams bit where he imagines a Robot World, where every actor had code that could be opened and reviewed. If a robot began damaging other robots, it would be stopped, because most of the robots would have code instructing them to stop it. They might reprogram it or even recycle it, depending on what made it break the rules and the code the enforcing robots operated under. In this scenario, 'free will' and 'fault' were irrelevant, because these robots have pure consequentialist code.

occam's comic said...

Darrel
I would like to have the discussion in plain English rather than philosophical argot. And I thought I was very clear. I am a conscious, self aware being that can and does make premeditated, purposeful decisions and choices that effect the course of my life.


When you said " If your genes, development and environmental history, and perhaps a dash of random chance, do not fully account for what you are "

I think you are failing to realize that your development and environmental history are profoundly effected by the choices you make. And your dash of random chance is a giant cop out and admission that model is incomplete.

locumranch said...


The non-participant, rule-breaker or potential rogue; the disobedient worker, soldier or student; the consumer unmotivated by employment, debt & external controls: and the creative who refuses socially-approved obligations & options:

Self-Determinism is perhaps the greatest threat to effective Collective Conformity

This is the inherent limitation built into human social complexity, the source of the Cyclic History Model & the turd in the PC punchbowl. Society destroys itself by increasing conformity pressures, so much so the proliferation of law & regulatory legalisms is the surest sign of social collapse.

The British Empire began collapsing in 1700s when 222 crimes were punishable by death, then it experienced a brief reprieve in 1823 when 100 crimes were exempted from its death penalty, until it collapsed completely under the weight of the laws it kept a mere 80 years later.

In the USA alone, there are about 20,000 laws just governing the use and ownership of guns, and no one knows how many laws, rules & regulations currently restrict the actions of the average law-abiding US citizen on a daily basis. Is it 100 thousand? A 1000 thousand? A billion? NO ONE KNOWS!!

And, this explosive increase in restrictive legalisms which equates the activities of daily living with the commission of 3 felony crimes per day is accompanied by a growing CONTEMPT for all things legal and (by extension) all things collective.

Your laws make me hate you all, especially myself.


Best
_____
https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748704471504574438900830760842

Anonymous said...

Alan Wood.
My apologies. The link to the Russian pimp who has information about Donald Trump's depravations was wrong. I cut the link and now it seems to work fine. This is very important.
I also found another link, which I added first:

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/02/28/asia/russia-model-thai-prison-trump-claims-intl/index.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2018/02/27/in-thai-jail-after-sex-training-a-model-who-rattled

Darrell E said...

occam's comic said...

"I would like to have the discussion in plain English rather than philosophical argot."

Okay. That was more physical sciences argot than philosophical, but okay. So you want to talk about it but consideration of any physical evidence is out. Understood.

"And I thought I was very clear. I am a conscious, self aware being that can and does make premeditated, purposeful decisions and choices that effect the course of my life."

Yes, you made that clear. How is that any different from a computer and how can you be sure? The terms you are using, "conscious," "choices," you don't seem to realize or care that they are fuzzy terms. Meaning that among both laymen and experts alike there is no firm consensus about what those things are or how they work.

You come across as offended that anyone would question the assertion that you have made very clearly. Sorry, really, I certainly meant no offense.

"When you said " If your genes, development and environmental history, and perhaps a dash of random chance, do not fully account for what you are "

I think you are failing to realize that your development and environmental history are profoundly effected by the choices you make. And your dash of random chance is a giant cop out and admission that model is incomplete."


No, on all of that. Since you ask, I don't fail to realize that. But I also realize that every choice that affects my development and environmental history, profoundly or not, is a result of my "genes, development and environmental history," right up to the instant that the choice is made, "and perhaps a dash of random chance." Do you disagree? Why?

And random dash of chance is a giant cop out? I'm really puzzled by that. Since you ask, all I meant by that is that even if QM were a factor in human behavior, which would introduce chance, it doesn't seem to change anything. Or did you understand that and are you claiming that random chance could give you more control? How would that work?

And "that the model (is) incomplete?" Hell yes! I think it safe to say that anyone who says they have a complete model of human cognition is very much mistaken.

occam's comic said...

Darrel,
I just find it annoying when people argue that people have no agency, no ability to make decisions and choices, no ability for self control, or self creation, the we are just mindless robots. That is what it seems to me that you are saying, am I understanding you?

Because that notion really does contradict my lived experience.

Jerry A. said...

I wonder how much the *thump chest* Self-Made Men(tm) overlook just how much impact one's environment has on one's choices (a.k.a. free will) and ability to reach one's full potential? Place a dozen impoverished geniuses with talents for higher mathematics or medicine in a school with few textbooks, no guidance counselors, and in a state with no scholarships. How many do you think will be able to change the world rather than being amazing... cashiers?
Place a dozen mediocre minds with trust funds and family connections in a private school with tutors. How many will grow up to be bank VPs and CEOs?
These scenarios are "nurture", and they are very real in the USA and other countries with huge economic disparities. (Look up GINI index.) We are squandering our human potential; that means wasting our youth and our country, all in the guise of the myth of being self-made.

Secondly, the same people the current GOP calls "elites" they used to call by other labels. Doctors. Lawyers. Engineers. Professors. Scientists. People who used to be appreciated, even by the GOP, and known for making American progress the envy of other nations. These professions comprise a significant proportion of "government bureaucrats". Many of the rest of "government bureaucrats" support those professionals or provide services to citizens, protect the country, and enforce the laws passed by Congress. The GOP used to support all of these things. Now they are just trying to tear it _all_ down. Why? Just look at who is financially supporting the GOP and who benefits from them.
The GOP's one so-called success last year was a tax cut whose benefit will predominately go to the already rich. "Trickle down" is a lie. See the 2012 Congressional Research Service report showing the effect of ~65 years worth of tax cuts. No economic benefit to the nation. No increased tax revenue. No increase in 80% of household wealth or income after inflation. The money went to the top 10% with the majority of that going to the top 0.1%. These are the current owners of the GOP.
So, even just for these reasons alone, the current GOP needs to go the way of the Whigs and the Know-Nothing Party that it most resembles.

David Brin said...

TimW./Tacitus2… I like “Timtac!” … you are always welcome here. Our eldest was a founding member of his school’s FIRST Robotics team and I spent many hours doing what you’re doing. Dean Kamen is a genius only one rung down from Elon in utility for a great civilization.

I honor your work as a killed healer and also in this fine endeavor.

You know that I have long believed that we both depend upon our civil servants and must never take our eyes off them… My most recent blog is about the open warfare being waged vs the Civil Service. …. but also harken back to years ago, when I offered a suggestion about how we could restore some transparency and accountability to our institutions, by empowering and unleashing the Inspectors General.: http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/inspectorgeneral.html

Do I dismiss all talk of “deep state” machinations, out of hand? Of course not! We were all raised on hollywood flicks preaching suspicion of any conceivable power center, and “civil servants” are very often depicted betraying the trust we give them. It could happen. It HAS happened, on small scales, now and then.

But seriously, is there any evidence for this “deep state” conspiracy, at all? And I mean whatsoever? I mean any? Even a scintilla?

All we’ve seen is a few minor excesses of zeal to shine light on potential law violations. The minuscule “IRS persecution” of conservative advocacy groups was, when examined, virtually nothing at all. And investigators and prosecutors wanting to look closely at Russian meddling? Seriously? Zeal wasn’t “deep state” when Ken Starr did vastly more, vivisecting the Clintons.

You mention the rank and file… squint and look at any org chart and tell me how likely a “deep state” will be able to pull off any dark conspiracy, before some factotum blows the whistle? Seriously? With Rupert Murdoch and the Kochs and Adelson/Wynn and all of them ready to leap to protect and reward?

I know a lot of these guys. Sure, my instinct is to establish varied methods of accountability on them, e.g. liberated IGs. But the ones I've met would have to be spectacular actors to convince me, if they weren't sincere.''

Remember who you're talking to. I want many avenues for accountability! The state MIGHT turn on us! Many states have. STill, there's that 6000 years. Power and wealth are flowing into the gaping maws of exactly the oligarchy of cheaters who ruined all the lives of all our ancestors. Jeez, man. Prioritize the paranoia.


Oh, how much simpler/better things were - locum - under 99% of societies where kings & lords had total power to exert “justic” (death) upon you at-whim. Fewer laws! MAGA!

Tim Wolter said...

David

Scintilla is a pretty minimal standard.

I am concerned that two pretty top level, decision making folks had what would sure looks like conflicts of interest.

McCabe (wife running for office, biggest contributor a Clinton associated PAC), and Ohr (wife was one of only a dozen or so actual FusionGPS employees, and may well have helped write the Steele Dossier)....they should have recused themselves pronto.

I am very curious as to what kind of FISA warrant was actually obtained on this Page chap. One variety allows a very extensive look at all communications on all matters and going back as far back and as far forward as the FBI deemed necessary. This would make him a "keyhole" into all sorts of places. And then, who was responsible for the remarkable number of unmaskings of US citizens who were - forgive the pun, I am weak - "Hoovered Up" in this process.

I think this is more than a few stray photons. But as I said, I am a patient man and await the IG report with interest.

Regards robotics I have been running a middle school program for 17 years and now FIRST for three. This makes me the grand old man of robotics in these parts.

Tim/Tacitus

locumranch said...


How typical: To ascribe to 'conspiracy' that which results from simple human selfishness.

Most of us find a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles hellish, NOT because of a vast international conspiracy perpetuated by the illuminati, but because of petty-minded bureaucrats who enjoy the collective self-aggrandizement associated with the targeted exercise of power, leaving us with 'public servants' who act as if they are large & in-charge (our masters) & vast non-representative governmental organisations that dare to dictate terms to voting polity.

Well, screw them -- they work for US -- NOT vice versa.

The same is true for our laws & customs -- they are designed to reflect our preferences, traditions & customs -- NOT to over-rule who & what we are, NOT to dismiss & belittle our preferences, NOT to dictate terms to us.

Pass all the unenforceable laws you want. We won't obey them, much in the same way that California now refuses to comply with current federal law.


Best

David Brin said...

A wonderfully cogent essay in today's LATimes compares today's Sanctuary Cities movement to northern resistance against the Fugitive Slave Act (FSA), starting in 1852. To be frank, sanctuary cities aren't my biggest concern, right now. But the parallels truly are interesting to read, including the hypocrisy of "states rights" confederates who, whenever they control the federal government, run riot imposing their will on blue states. In fact, elsewhere I discussed how, in the 8 years following the FSA, platoons of southern irregular cavalry rampaged across northern states so brutally - with aid from southern courts and presidents - that the victim states radicalized, enough to finally elect Lincoln.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-meyerson-immigration-fugitive-slave-20180301-story.html

See where I show how it was the Union that fought against horrific federal tyranny...

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2013/02/past-keeping-faith-with-future-and-day.html

...and watch as we wake from a torpor of excessive reasonableness, realizing at last that the confederacy has no intention to negotiate. Their open war against every single fact-using profession is just the beginning.

David Brin said...

Tim. As you might guess, I disagree about your demand for recusal. (1) the Steele Dossier was first recruited by mainstream Republicans! Yes, I know amnesia is a GOP job requirement… like where Obamacare came from. And how convenient to forget how “partisan” Ken Starr’s people were.

2) Investigators needn’t be impartial! What they must do is follow all proper procedures. And give defense attorneys eventual access to all information so the lawyers can yell if any procedures were violated. The COURTS must be impartial!

3) Jiminy! It takes a special kind of blinkered desperation for 30% of the population to zero in on minutiae, when their Dear Leader OPENLY and publicly declared: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you find…”

That is openly declared treason, like his openly declared record of confessing rape to Billy Bush. Like his hiring Manafort, a notorious international money launderer and factotum-whore of tyrants, to run the GOP’s entire electoral campaign.

How in the world can you justify niggling over patently microscopic sequence-ordering in FISA warrants, when acts of war by a foreign power and treason within the US are blatantly… extremely blatantly… in active progress?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Tim

I thought that the whole idea of US Justice was the adversarial system

The idea that you have two champions who compete in court

That would mean that Mueller should NOT have been in charge of the Trump investigations because he was a Republican - instead that job should have gone to a strongly partisan Democrat

That certainly seems to be the way that everybody thought when they were investigating the Clintons

So Mueller should have recused himself and been replaced with McCabe or somebody with even stronger Democrat ties

Instead we have the situation where Democrats are investigated by partisan Republicans and Republicans are also investigated by partisan Republicans

Do you see the problem?

Tim Wolter said...

David

I am most certainly not demanding anybody recuse themselves. You asked for a "scintilla" of evidence that the FBI/DOJ investigation had problems.

I put forward two very specific instances where the decision makers had strong reasons to either be in favor of a Clinton victory or in the case of Ohr, to add extra weight to the Steele Dossier. That these issues were not made clear at the time is evidenced by the fact that both McCabe and Ohr have, in the one case taken early retirement and the other being demoted.

And I do not consider it minutia to inquire just what "watching brief" was permitted and on the basis of what evidence. If it was a blank check then the charges that this was a fishing expedition ring true.

But we can agree to disagree at this point. There will be more information forthcoming.

I have not commented on Mueller, who seems to be a decent guy in a very difficult situation.

Duncan I wonder if you could round up enough "partisan republicans" in the current DOJ/FBI leadership to play bridge much less do any investigating.

I only ask for the same standards to be applied across the board.

T

David Brin said...

" That these issues were not made clear at the time is evidenced by the fact that both McCabe and Ohr have, in the one case taken early retirement and the other being demoted."

What?? The one doesn't mean the other. It implies (implies!) only that civil servants are trying strenuously to remove even optics that can and would be used to delegitimize due process.

" I wonder if you could round up enough "partisan republicans" in the current DOJ/FBI leadership to play bridge much less do any investigating."

Tim were you around in 2016, when the New York FBI office seniors armtwisted Comey into re-opening the emails investigation, over almost-nothing, threatening to go public (over almost-nothing) if he didn't? That episode bruised HClinton badly at just the right moment. A couple of weeks later, when Comey rescinded the almost-nothing, it was too late.

Is that enough for your bridge game?

Jiminy! When did always-crewcut FBI guys become presumed liberals? When they diverted agents from anti-terror duties prior to 9/11, in order to sift for smoking guns about the Clintons? And found absolutely... abso-lutely... nothing?

"I only ask for the same standards to be applied across the board."

Rationalization! Apply the same standards and you'll spend half a BILLION dollars and relentlessly never stop for 25 years, the way was done to the Clintons. Only make it 50 Billion, to account for the fact that Republicans are being caught as spies, money-launderers, foreign agents, pederast-molesters and traitors is stunning droves.

Same standards? Let's start with the tax returns?

Tim Wolter said...

David

I agree that the Comey on and off investigation into the emails is very, very peculiar. It is one of the many things I would like to see explained.

As to the rest, well, you have asked me - and I have complied - to consider Conspiracy Theories that have far less substance to them.

Shall we wait a bit and see?

T

LarryHart said...

@Tim Wolter,

Ok, I wasn't talking about you personally before, but now I have to say I find it disappointing how much Republican malfeasance you are willing to overlook in the name of a holding action against Democratic boogeymen. Even that is not about just you--all Republicans are currently doing the same thing. It's just that I once expected different from you, and now I don't any longer. Life is too short to keep banging my head against the same wall.

If it makes you feel any better, I'm just as disappointed that Alfred won't acknowledge the illegitimacy of President Snow, no matter what he does or doesn't do while engaging the sit-down strike in the White House.

Some day, I'm confident you'll both admit that I wasn't as dumb as I looked after all, but I'm not sure that will happen in my lifetime. That's ok. As a good liberal, I have to admit that "I may be wrong...", but on this one, I'm pretty sure I'm not.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

Instead we have the situation where Democrats are investigated by partisan Republicans and Republicans are also investigated by partisan Republicans.


Exactly. That inherent bias has existed for at least as long as I've been old enough to notice politics. A judge that Trump insulted is "biased" against him--the only judges fit to render a "fair" or "impartial" verdict on Trump are supporters of his. Any facts that Trump doesn't like are "fake news". "Real news" is the stuff he makes up. The words make no sense until/unless one realizes that conservatives are presumed to be the legitimate authorities and arbiters of right and wrong, and so "bias" is something that liberals do, just as "terrorism" is something Muslims do, never white Christian men with guns.

I dare to hope this is finally changing with the outspoken teenagers after the Parkland massacre. The NRA is looking like the bad guys, and it is painfully obvious that Republicans are a wholly owned subsidiary. I'm starting to believe this country might wake up and notice for once. There's a dumb joke about what the Deadheads said when the drugs wore off ("Hey, this band sucks!"). I hope America reacts the same way upon awakening to the party of fascism, kleptocracy, and treason.

Robert said...

It is quite interesting how the Parkland teenagers are not being cowed by the doxers and the conspiracy theorists and the like... because Sandy Hook led nowhere. Las Vegas led nowhere. We had several dozen dead, a couple hundred wounded, mostly adults, and people were calling it a huge hoax and threatening people who had been hurt and calling them con artists and the like. And the people were cowed.

These young adults? Because they aren't kids. They aren't even teenagers anymore, not after what they went through. They aren't backing down. They know what is coming for them. They are prepared and armed and striking back. And it is to the point that Trump is offering to eliminate constitutional protections for gun seizures (which worries me because that to me is the final move that the Republicans would make before permanently seizing control of the country) and there isn't that much of an uproar against insisting on gun control at this point.

Well, the Libertarians still grouse. But Trump talked about arming teachers and what happens Tuesday I think? A teacher fires off his gun several times in school, causing a lockdown. Right then and there a teacher proved that you can't trust teachers to be armed protectors and educators of our youth.

But back to those young adults, Generation Z. They have seen Gen X and Millennials defanged through the use of college loan debt and credit card debt and unable to act. They know what is arrayed against them. Their eyes are open. And they are saying "No." When they march in my area? I'm going to go out and march with them. I will support them. And they aren't going to stop for just gun control. No. They are going to insist on quite a few things that will have Republicans screaming bloody murder and except for depressed white male teenagers who are groomed by the White Supremacists these young adults and teenagers are going to remember that Republicans spurned them and dismissed them. They are going to march through their social justice changes and by the time Republicans can rebuild (if they ever can), it will be too late. Conservatism will now be the force that enforces the social changes and gay marriage, universal healthcare, a living wage, hell, maybe even a guaranteed basic income will be the norm.

I hope to live long enough to see that all. In one form or another.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Tim asked if my "residually sane" remark was aimed at him.

I have to say, that it is vexing seeing each new travesty becoming the New Normal to our ostrich friends. Every day, the latest calamity or treason or outrage provokes thoughts of: "Gosh, that's terrible! It's almost enough to make me yank my head out of this hole! One more might do it!"

Only the next day, yesterday's outrage is now today's regrettable normal background... and the NEW one provokes thoughts of: "Gosh, that's terrible! It's almost enough to make me yank my head out of this hole! One more might do it!"

I'd ask "what will it take?" But seriously, the litany of child molesters and wife-beaters should have been enough. The open mike calls to "Russia are you listening?" and "P-grabbing" should have been enough. The reversal on deficits and trillions of our childrens' debt given straight to a skyrocketing oligarchy should have been enough...

The war on science. The Spectacular lunacy of climate denialism. The PERFECT record of better governance outcomes across DP administrations. The day-by-day deliberate destruction of all of our hard-built alliances. The evisceration of R&D. ...

"what will it take?" The old cliche is "Photos with a dead girl or a live boy." Or the Pee tape. But all that would do is give us a disciplined Pence White House with a silver haired fanatic soothing guys like Tim back into their holes. While the dominionists prepare for armageddon.

Robert said...

Well, Dr. Brin, I'm about to "go there." And I am sure I'm going to hear a couple of howls about this for crossing the line. But I am all out of fucks to give, as the saying goes.

Ostrich Conservatives are America's "we didn't know" Germans from World War II, the ones who were so surprised to see the Holocaust had happened. In one instance an American general I believe forced an entire German town to enter into the concentration camp miles from their community and tour the facility so they could see the utter hell that was in that place and never forget what they allowed.

The conservatives and Republicans you keep insisting we need to recruit to our cause are those Germans. They are the ones who remained quiet and didn't cause any waves. They are the ones who claimed they were not to blame. They are the ones who might not have pushed the Jews into the furnaces but they sure as hell didn't try to hide any Jews or try to stop what was going on.

I am friends, good friends, with two of them. One I think would actually resist if Trump's stormtroopers came for me, but only to protect friends and family. The other... well, I honestly don't know what would happen. I mean, I'm already going to hell in his eyes so....

But yeah. There you have it, Dr. Brin. One third of this country will gleefully try to shove a second third of the country into gas chambers and pull the levers. The last third will silently watch and then after all is said and done they will say "but we didn't know..." but let's be honest here. They will know. And they will be guilty by association.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Rob, I disagree. It's not a third. More like 20% are in this out of hate. another 20%, alas, display the most charming and endearing conservative trait... loyalty... and their horizons - because of fear -- are contracted inward so that their loyalty boundary is partisan, rather than American.

That latter group contains some who can be lured out... if we spread the tent wide enough to welcome them. And all we'd need is ten million. Just ten million. If liberals and moderates and fact-users and Americans aren't stupid enough to form a circular firing squad.

Dave Werth said...

Locum find going to the DMV a hellish experience. Maybe they're just picking up on his attitude toward them and reflecting back at him. I haven't had a bad experience at the DMV in over 20 years here in Oregon.

Lloyd Flack said...

Yes "they work for us" does not mean that they work for you as an individual. They work for the community that you are part of. Saying that they work for you is an attempt to assert superiority over them and it will backfire.

Paul SB said...

Rob H.,

That was Eisenhower, IIRC - the last Republican leader who was more loyal to his nation than to the class of CEO thieves who think they are the new master race. And I have to say that I agree with both you and our host. Probably only 20% truly fit into the despicable category, while the majority of people just go whichever way the wind blows. The first 20% pretty much just need to be shut out and shut down, because they have forfeited their humanity. As to the rest, blow harder - that's all we can do, really.

Dave & Lloyd,

There's also projection, which is entirely typical of conservatives - the ones who are afraid that everyone else is just like them, meaning selfish, dishonest and paranoid. Remember those articles Dr. Brin posted about conservatives having hyperactive fear/anger centers in their brains?

LarryHart said...

Robert:

It is quite interesting how the Parkland teenagers are not being cowed by the doxers and the conspiracy theorists and the like...


The usual right-wing tactic is to have their crazies send death threats. But these kids are fighting back against real-life death threats already. They've got nothing to lose by attracting the ire of armchair twitter bullies.

As Hamilton put it to Jefferson:

And another thing, Mr. Age of Enlightenment,
Don't lecture me about the war; you didn't fight in it!
You think I'm frightened of you? We almost died in the trench
While you were off getting high with the French.

Darrell E said...

occam's comic said...

"Darrel,
I just find it annoying when people argue that people have no agency, no ability to make decisions and choices, no ability for self control, or self creation, the we are just mindless robots. That is what it seems to me that you are saying, am I understanding you?"


No, I don't think that people have no agency, can't make decision and choices or no ability for self control, self creation or that we are just mindless robots. I also don't believe in magic. I can't be sure but it seems as if you might and that you might think that magic is necessary to account for agency, etc. That's what I was trying to figure out. I don't think magic is necessary. I also don't think that these traits are unique to humans, though we certainly appear to be at the top of the spectrum.

"Because that notion really does contradict my lived experience."

Those notions contradict pretty much everyone's lived experience. Even people that think we are just meat puppets admit to that. But individual perceptions are really not all that reliable for figuring things out.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

I have to say, that it is vexing seeing each new travesty becoming the New Normal to our ostrich friends. Every day, the latest calamity or treason or outrage provokes thoughts of: "Gosh, that's terrible! It's almost enough to make me yank my head out of this hole! One more might do it!"


And hence my resigned sigh that no Republican of any standing will oppose anything Trump does, ever. That's not aimed specifically at Tim, btw--that's all of them. They perceive they're fighting a brave holding action surrounded by athiest feminist socialists, and any enemy of their enemies is worth holding onto.

But it's not just right-wingers who are enabling treason with complacency. My "favorite" argument is the assurance that if Trump fires Mueller, he will have crossed a red line into illegitimacy--but that his thwarted attempt at firing Mueller in June doesn't count. If you shoot (at) someone on Fifth Avenue and miss, or the gun jams, does that absolve one of the act of will?

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

I'd ask "what will it take?" But seriously, the litany of child molesters and wife-beaters should have been enough. The open mike calls to "Russia are you listening?"...


I'm willing to cede that particular one as a joke, similar to Reagan's "The bombing starts in five minutes." All Trump was doing there was threatening, "We know someone's got the goods on the DNC, so they'd better quake in their boots." It wasn't meant to be taken lit'rally.

Still, don't mean to interrupt when you're on a roll.


... and "P-grabbing" should have been enough. The reversal on deficits and trillions of our childrens' debt given straight to a skyrocketing oligarchy should have been enough...

The war on science. The Spectacular lunacy of climate denialism. The PERFECT record of better governance outcomes across DP administrations. The day-by-day deliberate destruction of all of our hard-built alliances. The evisceration of R&D. ...


DAYENU!

Tim Wolter said...

Well Larry, I have maintained that the recent tax cuts are nonsense and are quite likely going to end badly. It will factor into my vote for the US Senate/congress seats next time around.

T

sociotard said...

Just woke up to see we'd started a trade war. When did Republican's stop being the party of Free Trade, again?

locumranch said...



It is quite interesting how the Parkland teenagers are not being cowed by the doxers and the conspiracy theorists and the like as they line up to strip themselves of their constitutionally-protected rights.

'Yay', these well-indoctrinated children exclaim, 'We wish to renounce our Majority Rights for 3 more years until we are 21. We demand the majority right to VOTE our rights away; we demand the right to register for Selective Service at 18 so we may be sent to die in foreign lands; and, we demand the right to be stripped of our majority rights in regard to Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Soda Pop because (1) we value immaturity & dependency and (2) other Children's Crusades have always ended so well for those involved'.

These precious children also know, as they've been told by Big Daddy government, that they are so precious that they don't need guns of their own protection because the all-powerful Protector Caste will ALWAYS be there -- cowering behind their chariots of justice with guns drawn, no doubt -- protecting the eternally young from the consequences of their deferred maturity forever & ever.

And so it is with Sociotard's 'trade war' as he knows that the US economy isn't mature enough to defend itself from predacious foreign economies, believing as he does that 'self-defense' is bad. Because why? Because the World Police marionette protector caste has our backs as they heroically cower behind THEIR metaphorical 'One World' cruisers, keeping not-US & mostly themselves safe from real world economic consequence through politically-correct inaction.


Best

Darrell E said...

Bullshit.

David S said...

Tim,

I get your pro-Hillary FBI concerns. Would you read this and give me your thoughts about pro-Trump FBI concerns. https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/968775069018329088.html

-David

Tim Wolter said...

David

I at least skimmed it. It seems to give an "origin" theory for some of the many rumors swirling around in the last days of the election. Tracking leaks is not easy but much of this sounds plausible.

In the spirit of even handed treatment I'd fire anybody who leaked info. No exceptions, no free passes.

No doubt the Comey situation was a factor in Trump's victory. Hillary's inept campaign and her highly visible near face plant at the 9/11 memorial were imho bigger factors.

T Wolter/Tacitus

matthew said...

To claim with a straight face that the FBI was pro-Clinton is utter and complete bullshit. It is a lie, plain and simple.

The NY FBI office *blackmailed* Comey into releasing his letter that lost the election for HRC. The True Pundit hoax forced Comey's hand and fraudulently elected a President.

Trumplandia. That was the name for the NY FBI office. Not Clintonia.

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/940037016619597829.html

It's not "being an ostrich" when someone is spreading lies that are 100% backwards from reality.

locumranch said...


In what way is anything I've just said is 'Bullshit', Darrell_E?

Fact: The legal age of majority in the USA is 18, excepting that the
(1) The US federal minimum legal drinking age is 21.
(2) The minimum legal age for purchasing tobacco is 21 in OR, WA, CA & NJ.
(3) The US federal minimum legal age for purchasing handguns from a licensed dealer is 21.
(4) The US federal minimum legal age to rent an automobile is 21.

These are FACTS!!

FACT: 18 year olds in the US have the right to vote, rot in jail, marry, sign legal contracts & die in battle BUT, according to progressive dogma, they aren't considered 'adult enough' to be allowed to smoke, drink, rent a car or buy a handgun. 18 years of age is the US Age of Majority in NAME ONLY.

Another FACT: The rest of the world doesn't give a shit about the adverse US effects of the US Trade Deficit or Foreign Trade Barriers.

Who you gonna call about all this international economic chicanery, DE? Ghostbusters ???? Hahahahaha.


Best

occam's comic said...

Darrel
It sounds like we just have misunderstanding of each other more than a genuine disagreement.

Our internal biological structures and processes are always present and both enable and constrain our actions. We exist in a variable external physical, biological and social environment that is also always present and both enables and constrains our actions. The way I see limited self creation happening is threw decisions that we make alter what parts of the external social, biological and physical environments we interact with, and can alter our internal biological structures and processes.

No magic in the Harry Potter / Dungeons and Dragons sense of the word.

But weirdly enough if you go by the older definition of magic - A change in consciousness in accordance with will - it is closely related to what I am talking about, willful acts of self creation.

matthew said...

Another reminder that nothing in the Steele Dossier has been proven to be false at this point -

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/03/a-series-of-revelations-about-jared-kushner-have-added-further-credence-to-a-key-claim-of-the-steele-dossier.html

Note that the Qatari blockade may have been brought about to pressure the Qatar government to bail out Kushner.

Oh, there is also this:

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/mar/02/carl-icahn-shares-sell-trump-steel-tariffs-announcement-timing

Nothing to see here, nothing to see. Move on.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | I'm confident you'll both admit that I wasn't as dumb as I looked after all

You aren’t dumb. You ARE using a word that is too heavy with meanings that matter a great deal to those of us working within the DoD. ‘Illegitimate’ brings with it a requirement to act on one’s Oath to defend the Constitution.

If it helps you any, Mueller’s recent indictments targeting election fraud ARE a step toward ‘illegitimate’ in the heavy sense. All that is needed now is a connection to Two Scoops. Obviously, things are trending that way, but a belief in a trend isn’t enough to activate an Oath… nor should it be.

Be careful what you wish for on this. Activation of Oaths will produce far more than the change you want. We might get a full out war from it. IF it is going to happen, we need to make sure it isn’t the civil war variety.

Alfred Differ said...

@Tim H | The Chinese have been in ‘center’ mode since Mao’s revolution. They moved away toward the other pole when we got them trading again, but they are still mostly centered. When you see them crackdown, that is a center-pull action. When you see them sabre-rattle, that is a center –pull action. When they build along the coast and trade with the world, that is de-centering action. (The era of British domination was fully de-centered.)

THEY are the masters of bureaucracy. They invented it along with lots of things we think were invented elsewhere in Europe.

WE (in the West) are the masters of creative destruction. The Chinese are learning it from us. If they ever fully adopt it, the stars are ours.

TCB said...

Started reading The Bourgeois Virtues, still in the intro bit.

Read recently that the Chinese had rolled up ALL US human intel sources in China about 8 years ago, and the US just arrested the double agent who blew them. Jerry Chun Shing Lee lived in Hong Kong and would have been safe but he thought he could go to New York and not have handcuffs waiting for him.

Unnamed sources who claim familiarity with the case tell the New York Times and NBC News that Lee is suspected of being part of a massive, years-long espionage operation by the Chinese government that led to the death or imprisonment of around 20 CIA informants.

Then again, mmmmaybe Jerry Lee is not the mole they're looking for...

LarryHart said...

@Alfred Differ,

Yes, I have to admit that what I want is essentially fantasy or Mike Doonesbury's summer daydream--I want a do-over. I don't just want Trump dragged out of the White House, but also the un-doing of everything he's inflicted on us, from Neil Gorsuch and hundreds of federal judges to the tax fiasco. I want Trump to be like Superman's enemy Mr Mxyzptlk, the magical imp from the fifth dimension--when he's sent back to his own world, all of the aftereffects of the pranks he pulled here on earth simply revert back to the way they were before.

And realistically, I know there is no mechanism for such a thing to happen. The closes approximation would be impeachment, which doesn't do nearly enough to mitigate the harm that has already been done. Impeachment is like the bad coach in the movie "The Karate Kid" who has his combatant blatantly injure the protagonist even though he himself is then ejected from competition so that another member of the bad coach's team gets to win.

I don't consider Trump to be my legitimate president, but it's not like anyone else fills the role either. That's why I've gone to the metaphor of a sit-down strike. He fails to perform the duties of the office, but he occupies the office so that no one else can be president in his place.

So no, I'm not calling on you or Ilithi or anyone actively taking orders from the executive branch of the federal government to overthrow the man. Then what is my point? It's to point out that the harm done has been irreparable--that we will never be made whole again until something which cannot happen does happen. Another obscure movie reference, "I want my father back, you sonofabitch!"

Duncan Cairncross said...

I'm not an American
Bit in this I'm with Alfred - going the "illegitimate" way will cause huge bloodshed

You need to sit tight - win the House in November and start impeachment procedures

Can you "impeach" sitting Senators?

When you do get control there should be no "let bygones be bygones" everybody who has acted in a criminal way under this admin should be charged
After Nixon's treason - the dems let it slide
After Reagan's treason - the dems let it slide
After Bush 2's crimes - the dems let it slide

Enough! already

David Brin said...

I do not want DT drummed out of office. I want him neutralized, but tweeting away. If Pence gets in, he will charm all the ostriches back into their holes while plotting the end of the world.

LarryHart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

You need to sit tight - win the House in November and start impeachment procedures


Without 67 Democrats in the Senate, impeachment is a dead end. And since only 1/3 of the Senate is up for re-election, and most of those happen to be Democrats this time, it's not mathematically possible to take the necessary supermajority in that chamber.


Can you "impeach" sitting Senators?


I think only the Senate itself can remove its members between elections.

You see the problem? It's not just Trump's treason, it's that of the entire Republican Party, including their donors and voters. If a third of the population is complicit, is it even "treason" any more?

Jon S. said...

Judging by the evidence we've seen so far, Dr. Brin, if Donnie goes down his entire administration, from his Veep to his favorite bodyguard/pimp, are all going down with him - or possibly before him. (The timing of certain incidents involving Pence is very suspicious...)

Have the Republicans stopped trying to dissuade the cleanup by threatening that it might take down some Democrats too? (As if that weren't a desirable outcome.)

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

If Pence gets in, he will charm all the ostriches back into their holes while plotting the end of the world.


That's the "Karate Kid" scenario in a nutshell. Gerrymandering, voter supporession, and Fake News didn't just give us Trump. I gave us Pence and Gorsuch and continued Republican majorities in congress. Impeachment would remove the cause, but not the symptom. :)


I've been suggesting that Trump might be playing Beast Rabban, driving the population to despair so that they'll cheer Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen when he comes along to save them. Maybe that's Pence.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | Treason is another one of those heavily weighted words here. It's hard to find crimes defined at the level of our federal constitution, but that one is.

Article III / Section 3. Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

What Nixon did was criminal, but I don't think it was treason. Same for Regan and GWB. Possibly not for Two Scoops, but we'd need two witness to an overt act most likely.

@David | Regarding charming of ostriches....

I doubt it will be enough. Pence will have quite a stink on him. He already does. I expect his career to die with this administration. Those ostriches will find someone else to whom they can submit. So... I'm still for impeachment after indictments have landed. I don't expect impeachment to work, though.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | point out that the harm done has been irreparable

I think you underestimate your nation and the social institutions of which you are a part. 8)

Remember to distinguish between fragile, robust, and anti-fragile.

David Brin said...

Onward

onward