Thursday, February 01, 2018

Tech obsolescence? Universal Basic Income? And the Age of Amateurs

Thought provoking for the coming weekend: Stewart Brand’s “Long Now” reflections about which aspects of our world change rapidly... and which more slowly... and how this can help us grapple with vital issues, like education.

One from my own such list: About a century ago, John M. Keynes prophesied that rising industrial production would pour forth so much wealth with such automated efficiency that the forty hour week (just then coming into fashion) would be reduced to thirty hours, then twenty, as jobs were shared and and the working class got more leisure time. 

As it happened, there was a vast world out there that still needed to industrialize, and the West’s appetite for ever-more goods kept factories and mines etc. humming hard for all of those decades. Indeed, the developing world uplifted itself primarily out of the spending by Americans and others, of trillions of dollars on mountains of crap we never needed. A strange - and by far the most successful - kind of foreign assistance. And yet it never threatened the 40 hour week.

But there’s something on the horizon. A century forestalled, the era foreseen by Keynes seems about to dawn, with automation appearing about to render most kinds of human industrial employment wholly or partially obsolete. Indeed, many white collar jobs and even creative tasks seem prone to takeover by AI systems. Local production of goods and food may end the long chains of container ships crossing oceans, an ecological godsend, but perhaps tipping the world economy into convulsions.

Yes, there will be job losses... accompanied by vastly improved ability to produce anything humans want.

If the Keynes era dawns, then we’ll face decisions:

- Who will own the means of production and the cornucopia that pours forth? If it is a classic, feudal pyramid, then exploitation and unfairness are guaranteed, followed by revolution. But it needn’t be that way.

- Will paychecks be replaced by UBI or Universal Basic Income? Or else by giving every citizen a “share” in these urban factories and farms, so they can live off dividends?

- Either way, how will folks spend their time?  We are already in an under-appreciated era of hobbies, pastimes, avocations and amateur sagacities. There are more blacksmiths and sword makers in the U.S. today that in the Wild West or European middle ages.  In my novel Foundation’s Triumph… and separately in EARTH… I posited an Age of Amateurs, and it is already here -- almost completely ignored by pundits, economists and jeremiad-spewing pessimists.

But… will that suffice for all people?

- If all of this happens under the guidance of Artificial Intelligence, will they help us to design better ways for a better era?  And will we agree with those super-minds about what “better” means?

== Getting better all the time...==

A living human may spend a whole life earnestly improving. He or she may become among the wisest of our wise.  Then they die.

The one thing that can improve cumulatively... and after 6000 years of feudalism, we finally did start to do it... is civilization.  We are better, stronger, more perceptive and knowing and -- yes -- wise than all our ancestors. As the best of those ancestors would have wanted!  (Indeed, if they failed to make this happen, then that indicts them as unwise! The best compliment you can pay the "Greatest Generation" is to admit that they made America even greater, and then greater still.)

This rising path is not because of some leftist historical imperative. Nor is it the right's insane teleology of so called "cyclical" history. It is the result of several Enlightenment inventions like reciprocal accountability, that foster positive sum games. Those games mean that a civilization that outlives human members can grow wiser than the sum of its parts.

Fanatics hate this concept! They want the individual human soul to be the only thing that matters.  Zero sum. You get to be a lord or a peasant. You're "saved" or spend eternity in some sadistic hell. But if there are positive sums, then there is something better, greater, more important than one egotist's soul. That more important thing is... us.

I believe that. Hey, let's admit that I have an ego the size of the sun! And yet, I avow that I'm relatively unimportant. There are things worth dying for. And we are building them. Together.

One of you reminded us of a quote  quote from Joan Vinge, in her prize-winning novel "The Snow Queen."

"Indifference is the strongest force in the universe. It makes everything it touches meaningless. Love and hate don’t stand a chance against it. It lets neglect and decay and monstrous injustice go unchecked. It doesn’t act, it allows. And that’s what gives it so much power."

== Miscellaneous items of interest! ==

Your Biases: This site offers a poster of hugely important wisdom about the ways we fool ourselves. These are somewhat different than "logical fallacies."  They overlap, but are separate things. (The same folks offer a logical fallacies poster.)

Onalytica: This site specializes in tracking topics and traffic in order to trace who are the biggest "influencers" in each of several dozen fields.  Imagine my surprise when their influencer chart of Artificial Intelligence (AI) had a familiar face at the very center of the mesh.  Oh, this isn't the first group to reach a similar metric-conclusion about my place in the discussion.  I just find it rather... well... not entirely plausible!

Still, there's a need to rock any set of comfortable assumptions, especially in such an important field. And poking is what I do...  Let's all poke away! 

Poor millennials! Here's a good story on the millennials' challenges and economic changes. More than a bit whiney, but there are legitimate complaints. And yes, the ones I have met are better people than boomers! And yes, that is to the credit of boomers and X-gens! Because we were clearly great parents.

Forget doll houses! This New York exhibition offers miniature landscapes and cityscapes with moving cars and people and a variety of techniques.

The ‘500 mile problem’ is especially acute between LA and San Francisco. It will be a decade before the Super-High Speed Train is completed… or Elon’s alternatives get traction… and the airport hassle is nasty.  So a new company is offering luxury sleeper busses that deliberately slow down to keep the ride smooth and so that you’ll get a full 8 hours.  

This Goop Shaman cleanses your wardrobe of evil spirits. Some people simply have too much money. It's our duty to relieve their burden. The bigger picture? This was “wisdom” in 99% of the societies our ancestors lived in. Enemies of the enlightenment want to bring back this darkness… and not all of them are on the mad-right.  The left has its… (sigh.)

A philanthropy prize award winner Community Warehouse sells high quality, donated construction materials and staffs the operation with ex-offenders. Taking a page from Costco, the organization is members-only and offers low-prices to members, which include landlords in the neighborhood. Through its straight-forward operation, the Warehouse serves ex-offenders, the neighborhood, and repurposes materials from construction sites all while running a business near break-even.

Separated at birth? We all run into or spot humans who look a bit like us. Lots of folks used to comment on my (I think vague) resemblance to Andre Agassi. Now some say I’ve got “a total Peter Gabriel thing going on.”  PG is a hero of transparency who has funded Project Witness for decades, so that’s cool.  I wish I had a voice like his.

Proclamations of doom are perennial flowers which have sprouted in the garden of human imagination since earliest times. Oracles appeared whenever turmoil caused nations and peoples to feel uncertain about the future. From ancient Sumer, to India, to Iceland, astrological portents used to set off recurring waves of public hysteria. In honor of the coming (or not-coming) Rapture event... may I reprint an article of mine from the last century? It seems even more relevant today. Alas.

== And More miscellany of interest! ==

Here's a very tiny sampling of past apocalypse ravings. Maybe 0.0001%.  In case you missed the reason. Here's the latest silliness. There has got to be a way to corner guys like this into making a bet on it! Better yet, go to his followers and offer pet-care contracts... we'll take care of your pets after you rapture. But pay in advance!

Yipe! There actually are “after the rapture pet care” sites! They cover a whole range. This one is hosted by (they assert) rapture believing evangelists whose apparent sincerity is only exceeded by their stunning hypocrisy. They guarantee that their volunteers are unbelievers who won’t be saved… and who will nevertheless sign up to do this – without any vetting or listing of those ‘volunteers’ by location or any guarantee they actually exist. Never mind that. The trusting folks who register (for a $10 fee, kept by the organizers) can then dismiss all worries from their minds, content that some damned-but-generous atheist or Jew will slog across the apocalypse, with blood pouring from his or her eyes, to care for your cat (when there will be vastly more urgent calls for compassion, nearby), and do all that for zero compensation. Never mind that you prayed daily for Armageddon to bring this suffering to anyone not exactly like you. Rest assured that these vetted martyr-saints will handle everything for Fluffy, while dodging seven-eyed scorpions and Beasts and lion-horses…

…as stunningly depicted in this fabulous, terrifying/hilarious web comic by Patrick Farley.   

But… wait… what did I just call those volunteers? Could that mean what it seems to mean?

Possibly less of a scam are sites created BY the non-saved, who treat it as a business venture that can be enforced and supervised by the rapture-saved folks' Jewish (and presumably left-behind) lawyers.  

On a lighter note. Some of you may recall that GLORY SEASON featured – along with feminist genetic engineering and other marvels – a rustic version of Conway’s Game of Life. Here’s one more simulator to play with.

Now... rise up and believe again! Lovely. Procul Harum in 2006 doing “Whiter Shade of Pale” with a pops orchestra.

And end on a note of enjoyment. Entertaining…. Best stunts of the year.  And we’re supposedly decadent?   Age of amateurs, indeed. We are beyond amazing. We're amazingly amazing!

-->

58 comments:

David Dorais said...

needed something upbeat after all the crap recently...drumpf....arrrgh!...thank you so much, as always...

Alfred Differ said...

okay. The Game of Life stuff was interesting. It's a good demonstration in how humans do the abstraction trick and why recursion is where it is at. 8)

Bitu Kumar said...

very nice info
Gyanhelp

Ncertzone

Fullformof

Apkveda

Tim H. said...

Dr. Brin, you said " Indeed, the developing world uplifted itself primarily out of the spending by Americans and others, of trillions of dollars on mountains of crap we never needed. A strange - and by far the most successful - kind of foreign assistance. And yet it never threatened the 40 hour week."
While true, it was partially a side effect of class warfare, off-shorers didn't do it out of a generous spirit.

Anonymous said...

I have already said that the Russians could use the confusion and disarticulation caused by Donald Trump to carry out a surprise attack.
The "sleeper agents" of the Russians, who will undoubtedly count even with helicopters and heavy weapons, will manage to capture many strategic positions.
If so, it is likely that some American submarines escape the massacre. Which would result in a retaliatory attack. After which, the Russians would also have to use atomic weapons.
If the worst happens, it would be good to know ... How can civilians who roam the fields, know if they are entering a very radioactive area?
I have heard of detectors that it is possible to create using old sealed transistors (The shell must be opened) and also using battery radios.
It also seems that there are cards - dosimeters. And of course, there are geiger counters, but I refer to what can create a family that did not take the precaution of buying a device (the majority).
Winter 7

Jacob said...

My Memo summation:
- The Steel Dossier was initiated by someone with incentive to lie as they were employed by Trump's opponents.
- The FBI's trusted source should have been fired because of media contact and thus not be considered trusted.
- The FBI and DOJ were aware of and ignored bias in their source against Trump.
- There is conflicting reports on how important the Steel Dossier was to their FISA application/renewals.

Thoughts:
- There is reason to believe that there might be lies which contributed to the investigation.
- An impartial investigation is the best way to resolve things.
- If the investigation concludes there was no cause to investigate (not that they didn't have enough evidence to indict), we should start a new investigation into how bad information/sources created an unjust investigation.
- They could have gained fairness points by also including Republican Primary (The Washington Free Beacon) in addition to DNC/Clinton.
- The refusal to release the Democratic response strongly indicates that this memo shouldn't be trusted. The committee responsible for this memo is using their power to quash dissenting voices.

LarryHart said...

@Jacob,

Some alternative views of the same facts...


- The Steel Dossier was initiated by someone with incentive to lie as they were employed by Trump's opponents.


No, they had incentive to tell the truth because they were employed by Trump's opponents (Trump's supporters having the greatest incentive to lie).


- The FBI's trusted source should have been fired because of media contact and thus not be considered trusted.
- The FBI and DOJ were aware of and ignored bias in their source against Trump.


That a source has reason to want to harm a target doesn't make his information false. It may be taken with a grain of salt and require corroborating data to back it up rather than simply taking the source's word for it. However, once that corroborating data has turned up in an investigation, it is not invalidated simply because the one who put you onto the investigation had his own ulterior motives.


- There is conflicting reports on how important the Steel Dossier was to their FISA application/renewals.


Yes, there is the FBI's assertion that they already had Carter Page in their crosshairs before the Steele dossier came to their attention, and there is the laughably ridiculous attempts by Devin Nunes and FOX to pretend otherwise. I suppose "those are kinds of conflicting reports, Your Honor."


- An impartial investigation is the best way to resolve things.


It's going on right now, although a traitorous executive and a complicit Republican Party are doing their best to derail it, no matter what damage they do to America's intelligence services in the process. Just as Dick Cheney outed Valerie Plame in a fit of pique at her husband, decimating our ability to monitor Iran's nuclear progress.


- They could have gained fairness points by also including Republican Primary (The Washington Free Beacon) in addition to DNC/Clinton.


Ya think?!! Yes, the original "opponents of Trump" who commissioned the Steele dossier were his Republican rivals in the primary. Only later did the Hillary campaign pick up the tab. Somehow, that little fact has written itself out of the narrative. Happenstance? Coincidence? Or enemy action?


- The refusal to release the Democratic response strongly indicates that this memo shouldn't be trusted. The committee responsible for this memo is using their power to quash dissenting voices.


Ya think?!!

#ThereAreNoGoodRepublicans

#BenedictDonald

next door Laura said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LarryHart said...

Reposting from the last thread. This has nothing to do with current political discussions, but I thought a piece of it would interest Brin fans in particular. See my comment below as to why that is.

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.

Laurence said...

Yipe! There actually are “after the rapture pet care” sites! They cover a whole range. This one is hosted by (they assert) rapture believing evangelists whose apparent sincerity is only exceeded by their stunning hypocrisy. They guarantee that their volunteers are unbelievers who won’t be saved

As Doctor McCartney says in the superb series Green Wing 'join us again next week for another episode of "let's make no fucking sense" where I will be waxing an owl'

Matt G said...

On the topic of basic income, the province of Ontario, Canada is running a basic income pilot. Just launched last year, its future is clouded because there's an election coming up in a few months, and the ruling Liberal party that launched the program is behind in the polls.

LarryHart said...

@Tim/Tac/Laura (heh),

I typed up a vitriolic response which I will refrain from posting in the interest of cooler heads prevailing while this conversation unfolds.

Because for now, words fail me.

Tim Wolter said...

Larry

I also typed quickly and for that matter not on my own log in. Hence the deletion, something I rarely do.

Let's let things settle a bit.

Yes, I do think the actions of several DOJ/FBI highers up look very sketchy. It would be a nasty bit of irony if their attempt to tilt the scales ends up giving us a second Trump term. I do realize that this is distressing stuff.

Tim. Really this time. And Tacitus.

Cari D. Burstein said...

The irony of the memo complaining that the Steele dossier's Democratic funding was not mentioned while not mentioning anywhere in the memo that it was originally funded by Republicans was not lost on me.

LarryHart said...

@Tim,

Funny, I think the actions of Donald Trump and the complicit Republican congressmen like Devin Nunes look very sketchy. I'd say we'll see who is correct soon, but then FOX will continue their narrative no matter what the facts are, so maybe there's no point at which we will both agree on what is factual.

I remain cautiously confident that when this era of American history is all sorted out, Trump supporters will be viewed with the disdain rightly accorded to Nazi collaborators and Holnists, and that I will have been consistently on the right side all along. I am less confident that that day will come in my lifetime.

Alfred Differ said...

@Tim H | While true, it was partially a side effect of class warfare, off-shorers didn't do it out of a generous spirit.

mmm....
There is the invisible hand in action.

Where they learn to be good people is beside the point.
One doesn't have to be generous to be of help.
That means we can be the humans we ARE instead of the humans we SHOULD be and still make a positive difference.
I'll take it seeing as we have a difficult time convincing people of what they should be.

However, I think you and David are giving Americans a bit too much credit. What really worked isn't the result of us buying their stuff. It is the result of them trying to sell us stuff and along the way buying and selling their own stuff. We are a lure at best. The biggest help a nation can get comes from within when they choose to join the markets.

Alfred Differ said...

@Tim Wolter | Are you referring to the IG report?

Darrell E said...

I guess that answers my question.

occam's comic said...

Tacitus /Dave
Conceivably we could try playing this game.
Use WWARP to predict what Trump will do before he does it.
What Would A Russian Puppet do in this circumstance?

We might come up with several things a Russian puppet would do, so we might also want to think
What Wouldn’t A Russian Puppet do?

And right them all down. After he takes his actions see if it was a predictable response. If we can predict his behavior with this game does that provide evidence that he is a Russian Puppet?

Russell Osterlund said...

Got to love that the Dow was down the "number of the beast" - the religious right must be pissing their pants. Oh, wait - the Pence-crowd will see it as another sign of the "end of days".

Berial said...

I think Mark Blyth sums up WHY Keynes was wrong about that shorter work week.

Twitter Link

Jacob said...

Hey Larry.

I was trying to keep my opinion clearly separate from the content of the memo. We sometimes talk about poor paraphrasing here. Do you or anyone else think I was inaccurate or missed points in the Summary part? I wasn't presenting fact but rather the position of the memo. I realize that you disagree with the memo and that you agreed with my thoughts.

LarryHart said...

Jacob:

I wasn't presenting fact but rather the position of the memo


Ok, I did miss that entirely.

LarryHart said...

I'm listening to the first hour of Norman Goldman's Feb 2 2018 radio show. He's doing a good in-depth analysis about what the memo controversy is about.

Norman archives the first hour of every show outside the paywall. I would suggest listening to the hour once it appears on the site shortly after 4:00pm CST today.

https://www.normangoldman.com/

LarryHart said...

<-- I meant 4:00 PACIFIC time.

LarryHart said...

Darrell E:

I guess that answers my question.


Uhhh, now, I'm curious.

Could you please clarify what answers which question?

Paul451 said...

Darrell E said...
"Well, what say you now Tacitus? At least 4 people in oversight positions of the FBI's investigation into the Trump / Russia affair have been fired or otherwise gotten rid of by Trump and his lackies. The most recent being the last non Trump flunky senior FBI person overseeing the Mueller investigation.

"And how about that cute little Republican secret committee that ginned up a completely bullshit memo to try and discredit FBI personal and which is going to be released to the public even though it is based on secret information which may put sources in danger? And the Republicans haven't allowed the justice department or the FBI to review the document, not even to vet it for security issues even though that is SOP? How do you rate this compared to the Hillary E-mail bullshit?

"I'd be curious, in a morbid way, to read your rationalizations about how us non-Republicans are being irrational or hyperbolic, about how the Trump administration and Republican party behavior is just how politics is done and the other side does it too.

"And, I may have missed LarryHart and Alfred Differ talking about this recently, but, Alfred? What do you think at this point? Are you willing to categorize the Trump administration as illegitimate yet? If your answer is no I can only suggest that your standards are way too lenient. I'd also suggest adding the Republican Party leadership (at a minimum) to the illegitimate list. They are breaking all the rules and if they are given much more rope they won't hang themselves but they are damn likely to hang a bunch of us."

TCB said...

I had a thought this afternoon: GOP officials have, in various states over the last couple of decades, literally stolen elections (i.e. not merely preventing people from voting and so forth, but actually monkeying with the official tallies.) I assert this as a fact, though in most cases it's mostly inference from statistical near-impossibility; but there are ahem Suspicious Incidents where local GOP officials would make damn sure no real examination of the ballots was possible afterward.

I mentioned Don Siegelman's imprisonment as an enemy of Karl Rove earlier; he had been Governor of Alabama from 1999 and went to bed in 2002 thinking he'd won reelection. BUT

Someone working for his opponent, Republican Bob Riley, "set up a laptop computer in the Baldwin County courthouse and changed the results, sources say."

This sort of thing has happened with some regularity around the US in the last couple of decades, with fishy results always, always helping the GOP candidate. And they must talk about the what and how of it behind closed doors.

So here's what popped into my head this afternoon: I assign a 10 to 20% chance that the Mueller investigation has tapes or other evidence implicating state, local, or national GOP officials in direct election hacks or rigging (whether computer hacks or more hands-on means of falsifying official counts). I get that by assuming with 99% confidence that they have been doing such things, and a 10 to 20% confidence that the various wiretaps/testimony/documents the investigation has would include evidence of it.

If the Projector in Chief couldn't keep from accusing Hillary of rigging the election during the debates, what might that tell us about what his own minions were telling him about their own efforts?

LarryHart said...

Hey, I guess PR is important in both senses of the initials after all...

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Feb02.html#item-8


Speaking of Puerto Rico, FEMA seems to have realized that cutting the island off without warning was not a good look, particularly on the same day that Donald Trump bragged to the nation about everything his administration had done to help. So, a spokesman for the agency said on Thursday that the announcement had been "mistakenly provided," and that the food and water will continue to flow, at least for now. The deadline for registering to vote in time for the midterm elections in Florida—say, for a newly-arrived Puerto Rican—is October 10. One wonders if the supplies will just so happen to end on October 11.

David Brin said...


Jacob, so what happens when one party spends half a BILLION dollars of our money in a 24 year witch hunt vs the Clintons, and comes up with one thing… a husband fibbing about some 3rd base infidelity in a hallway? Can we get our money back?


LH: Very well expressed. That Fox asserts:
- The FBI's trusted source should have been fired because of media contact and thus not be considered trusted. 

- The FBI and DOJ were aware of and ignored bias in their source against Trump.


"That a source has reason to want to harm a target doesn't make his information false. It may be taken with a grain of salt and require corroborating data to back it up rather than simply taking the source's word for it. However, once that corroborating data has turned up in an investigation, it is not invalidated simply because the one who put you onto the investigation had his own ulterior motives."

Tim always glad to have you around.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Just checked out that After The Rapture Pet Care site - hilarious! Do these people ever realise how they look to the rest of us? No, probably not. The weird logic of asking for volunteers among people who don’t believe in this Rapture is mind boggling. “Oh, yes, I’ll look after Fluffy or Fido after the Rapture I don’t believe in.” It might make some sense if you asked for money - in advance...

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul451 | Thank you. I missed Darrell’s question.
@Darrell E | What do you think at this point? Are you willing to categorize the Trump administration as illegitimate yet? If your answer is no I can only suggest that your standards are way too lenient. I'd also suggest adding the Republican Party leadership (at a minimum) to the illegitimate list. They are breaking all the rules and if they are given much more rope they won't hang themselves but they are damn likely to hang a bunch of us.

In a nutshell, I’m angry. I have been for some time. Do I use ‘illegitimate’ yet? No, but only because I want an indictment to back that. Considering how much work ‘two scoops’ is putting into obstructing justice, I’m pretty sure you all are correct. I just can’t fathom him being SO stupid as to believe that his actions aren’t obstruction, but it seems possible. Instead of using ‘illegitimate’ I’ve taken to using ‘tyrant.’ Is that enough for you all for now? 8)

As for the GOP leadership in Congress, they strike me as the cadre that sucks up to a tyrant for the sake of their own power. They need to go and I suspect many will in this next election. If it happens that way, we will have exercised a ‘legitimate’ power of The People and that’s how I want this to work out.

After a rout in the House, I want impeachment hearings to start. Immediately. That too is the legitimate path this should take.

I sincerely hope the GOP burns for this.
Bring on the Hell Fire.

TCB said...

Incidentally Bernie Sanders mentioned the Long Now clock in a recent op-ed: Let’s wrench power back from the billionaires.

Unfortunately, he was checking it as a frivolity:

"In the United States, Jeff Bezos – founder of Amazon, and currently the world’s wealthiest person – has a net worth of more than $100bn. He owns at least four mansions, together worth many tens of millions of dollars. As if that weren’t enough, he is spending $42m on the construction of a clock inside a mountain in Texas that will supposedly run for 10,000 years. But, in Amazon warehouses across the country, his employees often work long, gruelling hours and earn wages so low they rely on Medicaid, food stamps and public housing paid for by US taxpayers."

Even Bernie can't be right all the time! All the same, fuck Bezos (Amazon is well on its way to turning the Postal Service into a sort of subcontractor... we do all sorts of special stuff for Amazon, such as Sunday deliveries, that we sure aren't doing because any other company asked; and I'm confident that they'd treat us USPS folks as badly as their own workers if they could).

Paul451 said...

I find it amusing (that's not the word) that the same Republicans who claim the Trump investigation is a sham -- because some of the evidence came from people hired by Trump's opponents, and some low level investigators made anti-Trump statements during their weird cynicism as foreplay -- the same Republicans then, often in the same breath, demand to know why the FBI isn't investigating H.Clinton.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Do I use ‘illegitimate’ yet? No, but only because I want an indictment to back that.


I respect what you're saying, but the problem I have with that is that the very mechanism by which an indictment is produced is under the control of the criminal. He could prevent an indictment by firing anyone willing to produce it. He could circumvent an indictment by pardoning himself. By accepting his legitimacy until he's officially accused, you give him the option of maintaining his position by interfering with the process.

If you maintain that firing Mueller would be the red line, how has he not already crossed that line last June? Becuase his attempt to fire Mueller was thwarted by his own attorney refusing to carry out the order?


Considering how much work ‘two scoops’ is putting into obstructing justice, I’m pretty sure you all are correct. I just can’t fathom him being SO stupid as to believe that his actions aren’t obstruction, but it seems possible.


I don't think he cares whether his actions are obstruction or not. What he seems to believe is that his position insulates him from culpability. Like Nixon, "If the president does it, then it is not illegal." Trump's legal team has already asserted that the president can't be said to obstruct justice because as the boss of the Justice Department, he (essentially) is justice.

"L'Etat? C'est moi"


Instead of using ‘illegitimate’ I’ve taken to using ‘tyrant.’ Is that enough for you all for now? 8)


I'm not going to complain about an ally in the cause having a different motivation from me. But my complaint is not "tyrant", but "misfeasance of office". He's abdicating the job of being president, the same way I wouldn't be a legitimate assembly line worker if I never show up at the factory.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

After a rout in the House, I want impeachment hearings to start. Immediately. That too is the legitimate path this should take.


Unfortunately, there's no way there will be enough Democrats to convict in the Senate, and Republicans have shown that they won't do so. Absent that, isn't an impeachment attempt the equivalent of a shot at the king that fails to kill him?

Tim Wolter said...

I try to be fair, so letting the dust settle regards the Memo, perhaps letting the Democrat response be released or leaked in the days ahead, seems ok.

I've read it. I see zero in there that would endanger any sources, nothing that would compromise national security matters unless you consider having the FBI look foolish as being something you'd not want The World to see....

The low level operatives are interesting but some of what has been attributed to them is probably the mooney pillow talk of infidelity. Geez, professional married grownups talking and acting like middle schoolers....

I'm still more concerned by the highers up and what looks to me to be serious conflicts of interest. Ohr and McCabe feature prominently in all of this and each had a wife tied closely to the Clintons or to Fusion GPS. Neither should have been involved in this stuff.

But, for the purpose of discussion, if the DOJ and FBI did get wide reaching surveillance warrants based on fraud, this is a deadly serious matter. You just can't break the law in the interest of invalidating an election.

Well, these idiots have failed in removing Trump from the scene and may well have gifted us with a second Trump term. Gee thanks. This is why law enforcement should stay the hell out of politics.

T/Tacitus

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

I find it amusing (that's not the word) that the same Republicans who claim the Trump investigation is a sham -- because some of the evidence came from people hired by Trump's opponents, and some low level investigators made anti-Trump statements during their weird cynicism as foreplay -- the same Republicans then, often in the same breath, demand to know why the FBI isn't investigating H.Clinton.


I'm sure they don't see that as a contradiction. If the FBI is out to get Trump, then of course they're in the bag for Hillary.

I think what you're getting at, though, is the attitude Trump expressed about a Mexican judge--that he'd be biased against Trump because of Trump's insults toward Mexicans. The same would apply to a black judge or a female judge or a Muslim judge. So the only people fair enough to legitimately judge Trump would be a vociferous Trump supporter. That's not a "bias". In fact, it's the only position that isn't a bias.

Cari D. Burstein said...

The bias claim in the memo is particularly interesting. I looked up the dictionary definition of bias because I wasn't actually sure if the definition required that the leaning be unwarranted or unfair. The definition said usually, but it didn't say it was required for the term. So I guess it's technically accurate that Steele was biased against Trump based on the statement: Steele said he “was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.”

However, a man who had collected some pretty damning evidence against the man might have a perfectly legitimate reason to be desperate to keep him from getting elected. The point of the memo presumably is to make us feel that his bias implies none of the data he provided was correct, but it is more likely that his bias was based on the accuracy of the data in the first place. I'm not sure what less loaded terminology could be used to describe a legitimate concern about a person based on accurate information but it'd be nice to be using that word instead.

For an example of why the word bias is misleading, here's a hypothetical- if I object to a convicted mass murderer being appointed as police chief, am I biased against him or do I have a legitimate basis for concern? Or for a more real world example- if I object to a man who lies as easily as breathing, has a history of fraudulent enterprises and non-payment of employees, has no governing experience, and has shown very little understanding of important issues facing the country being elected president, am I biased or sane?

LarryHart said...

Tim Wolter:

I've read it. I see zero in there that would endanger any sources, nothing that would compromise national security matters unless you consider having the FBI look foolish as being something you'd not want The World to see.


I think the argument is that for the FBI to explain what real information they were already in possession of that put them on to Carter Page, it would compromise sources and methods of intelligence gathering. Even the assertion that there was other evidence gives away too much, like the Israeli sources that Trump burned while bragging to Russia.


But, for the purpose of discussion, if the DOJ and FBI did get wide reaching surveillance warrants based on fraud, this is a deadly serious matter.


My dad used to tell a WWII era joke involving a suspected Nazi saboteur being confronted by a English officer, a French officer, and an American officer. The Brit and the French took the man's word as a gentleman that he had no explosives in his basement, but the American was uncouth enough to insist on a search. The outraged Nazi telling the story complains, "He went downstairs and found my dynamite!".

I say that to say this...Regardless of whether the people commissioning the Steele dossier were motivated to find stuff because they wanted to harm Trump, is anything revealed in that dossier actually untrue? That seems to be the one claim no one is making.

So what "fraud"?

You're saying that a Trump-hater isn't allowed to pursue an investigation against him, so hypothetically, who would be? Someone like Devin Nunes or Jeff Sessions who is in the bag for Trump, and therefore never would do so?

Jon S. said...

So, by the reasoning used by the GOP here, police investigations of drug dealers should all be invalidated, because the police are biased against criminals.

Even according to the so-called memo, Steele didn't start off being "desperate" to prevent Donnie's election - it was a position he reached after doing sufficient research to conclude that the entire campaign was being run as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Putin's government.

And that FISA warrant was signed off on by four different Federal judges. Are they all "against Trump"? This is beginning to sound more than a little like the paranoid fantasies my late ex-father-in-law began to spin as his senile dementia set in.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Having fun listening to Rachel Maddow right now. She's having a lot of fun.

Let's see. The FBI noticed that Carter Page was hobnobbing with Russian spies back in 2013.
The expanded their surveillance of him after he tried to drink the Australian ambassador under the table (something only a Russian could do) and blabbed that the Trump campaign was getting a bunch of dirt on Hillary from the Russians. The Ambassador thought the FBI might want to know that the Trump campaign was engaged in treasonous activities.

And all the "deep state" players alleged to be after Trump were Republican appointees--including some by Trump.

Anonymous said...

TCB:
I read Bernie Sanders' article that you recommended. I think Bernie has a clear idea of what happens. But in the article he does not mention how to achieve his goals. Bernie Sanders admits that a few powerful people buy the elections. If the powerful can use democracy as a sanitary paper, I do not see how they intend to fix the Bernie problem. But in general, I do not think Bernie is a bad person. But I know almost nothing about him.
They have already spoken here of millionaires who do many good things for the world. But, if those honest millionaires are so good. Why do not these millionaires do anything to change the situation? Maybe it is a matter of "social groups". Maybe a millionaire will never affect the interests of other millionaires; either because of fear, or because zebras do not bite zebras and rabbits do not bite rabbits. But I suspect that there, at that point, simply, the millionaires who are just, do not take time to be more creative.
Winter 7

TCB said...

Tim Wolter said:

"I try to be fair, so letting the dust settle regards the Memo, perhaps letting the Democrat response be released or leaked in the days ahead, seems ok."

DemocratIC, please. It matters. Republicans have been saying "Democrat" where "Democratic" applies for years, as a sly dig. Some of the layers include not calling an opponent by his proper name, not willingly conceding that the Democratic Party might have something to do with democracy, and subtly dropping the word 'rat' out there at the end.

If this is news to you, there's a whole wikiepidia page on the topic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democrat_Party_(epithet)

Needless to say, Newt Gingrich puts in an appearance there. One of the major architects of the modern partisan division now rending America, he hand-carried Rupert Murdoch's citizenship application through the process so that as a newly minted American citizen, billionaire Murdoch could own US media and turn them into a GOP propaganda arm; and it is Gingrich who, in 1994, distributed a document to GOP candidates across the US to help them smear and slime their Democratic opponents more efficiently. It's called ‘Language: A Key Mechanism of Control’

The words he recommended:
---------------------------------------------------
Contrasting Words

Often we search hard for words to help us define our opponents. Sometimes we are hesitant to use contrast. Remember that creating a difference helps you. These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party.

decay… failure (fail)… collapse(ing)… deeper… crisis… urgent(cy)… destructive… destroy… sick… pathetic… lie… liberal… they/them… unionized bureaucracy… “compassion” is not enough… betray… consequences… limit(s)… shallow… traitors… sensationalists…

endanger… coercion… hypocrisy… radical… threaten… devour… waste… corruption… incompetent… permissive attitudes… destructive… impose… self-serving… greed… ideological… insecure… anti-(issue): flag, family, child, jobs… pessimistic… excuses… intolerant…

stagnation… welfare… corrupt… selfish… insensitive… status quo… mandate(s)… taxes… spend(ing)… shame… disgrace… punish (poor…)… bizarre… cynicism… cheat… steal… abuse of power… machine… bosses… obsolete… criminal rights… red tape… patronage

Optimistic Positive Governing Words

Use the list below to help define your campaign and your vision of public service. These words can help give extra power to your message. In addition, these words help develop the positive side of the contrast you should create with your opponent, giving your community something to vote for!

share… change… opportunity… legacy… challenge… control… truth… moral… courage… reform… prosperity… crusade… movement… children… family… debate… compete… active(ly)… we/us/our… candid(ly)… humane… pristine… provide…

liberty… commitment… principle(d)… unique… duty… precious… premise… care(ing)… tough… listen… learn… help… lead… vision… success… empower(ment)… citizen… activist… mobilize… conflict… light… dream… freedom…

peace… rights… pioneer… proud/pride… building… preserve… pro-(issue): flag, children, environment… reform… workfare… eliminate good-time in prison… strength… choice/choose… fair… protect… confident… incentive… hard work… initiative… common sense… passionate

--------------------------------------------

Boy howdy, that first part is BAD! Who could vote for sick pathetic lie liberals? And who would vote against a tough family citizen activist crusade?

Oooops. Did somebody read this list to Donald? Sure sounds that way.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | the very mechanism by which an indictment is produced is under the control of the criminal

It has always been that way. To change it would require altering the Constitution since the branches of government are supposed to be co-equals and DoJ is squarely within the powers of the Executive. We’ve always relied upon the fourth branch and The People to deal with these things and I’m okay with that.

By accepting his legitimacy

No. That is not the same. I’m not willing to say he is illegitimate. I have retreated from using ‘legitimate’. I’m left in the middle where neither apply and you should accept that as a big deal. It IS a big deal.

If you maintain that firing Mueller would be the red line, how has he not already crossed that line last June? Because his attempt to fire Mueller was thwarted by his own attorney refusing to carry out the order?

I know this has been all over the news, but why do you accept it? I’m not saying you shouldn’t, but is your acceptance of it legally sound? I WANT an indictment. I want it bad. I despise political releases of classified information or methods. I’m not willing to use he said/she said material to thrash anyone, though. Show me the testimony. Show me the legally sound methodology. I WANT these because they make the difference to people loyal to the Rule of Law and the Constitution. Without them, the nation splits too evenly regarding what is to be done about this tyrant. With them, the split will be very uneven.

Like Nixon

Let him. We know where that goes. When your opponent is helping you, don’t stop him.

He's abdicating the job of being president

Sez you. YOU have a different sense of what a President does compared to many other people, so they would sez different. What he is doing is worse, though. He is behaving like a tyrant. Think about it. ‘If the President does it, then it is not illegal.” Swap ‘President’ for ‘King’ and say it out loud. Hear it now?

Unfortunately, there's no way there will be enough Democrats to convict in the Senate

One thing at a time. I suspect this will have a tipping point and that you are being too pessimistic.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

I’m not willing to say he is illegitimate. I have retreated from using ‘legitimate’. I’m left in the middle where neither apply and you should accept that as a big deal. It IS a big deal.


Oh, I do (accept it, I mean). More than I expected, actually.

"If you maintain that firing Mueller would be the red line, how has he not already crossed that line last June? Because his attempt to fire Mueller was thwarted by his own attorney refusing to carry out the order?"

I know this has been all over the news, but why do you accept it? I’m not saying you shouldn’t, but is your acceptance of it legally sound?


I accept it because no one on the other side seems to be denying it. The disagreement is over whether it was or wasn't wrong of him to do so. The lawyer himself seems to corroborate that story. And didn't Sean Hannity have to reverse his "Sources aren't confirming" stance and switch to a car chase (really) to avoid further humiliation?


I WANT an indictment. I want it bad.


We're allies in this fight, but we have separate goals. What I want is for people to refuse to acknowledge Trump's authority--to stop executing his orders. Now, I'll agree with you that it would be best for all if his removal from office were accomplished Constitutionally in order to avoid the kind of crisis that would occur if subordinates and private citizens simply acted on their own cognizance. In that sense, indictment and/or impeachment are means to the end that I want, and I support the pursuit of those things. But my sense of things is that, if the mechanisms for lawful removal are thwarted, the refusal to submit must happen in any case.

I'd go further and say that rulings by Trump-appointed judges, including Gorsuch, should be ignored, but I don't imagine that happening in real life.

I realize the enormity of what I'm hoping for, but to me, a Constitutional Crisis is a lesser threat compared to the damage Trump is doing to our country.


Like Nixon

Let him. We know where that goes. When your opponent is helping you, don’t stop him.


The opponent is harming us. Nixon's own party had to finally sit up and take notice. The Republican Party in power now shows no such inclination. J'Accuse Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell as much as Trump.


He is behaving like a tyrant. Think about it. ‘If the President does it, then it is not illegal.” Swap ‘President’ for ‘King’ and say it out loud. Hear it now?


With "king", the statement is true. The problem with what Nixon said was that the presidency is not the same thing as a king, but Nixon wanted the country to go along with the idea that he was above the law. It didn't work in the 1970s. Now, a third of the country seems to accept or believe in the Divine Right of Trump, ordained by God and all.


"Unfortunately, there's no way there will be enough Democrats to convict in the Senate"

One thing at a time. I suspect this will have a tipping point and that you are being too pessimistic.


Do you mean that even Republicans will do the right thing? Or that the Democratic Wave might be enough to sweep 67 Democrats into the Senate. Because the makeup of the particular seats which are (and are not) up for election this year make the latter mathematically impossible.

Robert said...

Small thought: soon Witness Protection Programs will be completely useless unless the person being protected goes into complete isolation and avoids areas with Internet or phone access. And those areas are becoming smaller and smaller as well so it will be more obvious where people are hiding.

The reason? Facial Recognition by systems like Facebook that can tag you even if you are wearing makeup and a wig or hat to conceal your identity. Possibly the only thing that could prevent recognition is to undergo cosmetic surgery to alter the cheeks, brow, nose, and chin and hope that there's enough change to confuse racial recognition systems... and also that the government doesn't keep a copy of your new face on file connected to your old identity.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Prediction. All the Russia obstruction stuff is theater for distraction. I betcha Mueller’s real efforts go to money laundering. It must be huge, with channels permeating all over the globe.

Tacitus, conservatives have long kvetched about the notion that catching a bad guy can be canceled by failure of an investigative (e.g. Miranda) procedure. In this case it isn’t even a bad procedure. It is okay to ask FISA for a warrant to follow rumors, if the rumors are supported by other evidence, which clearly was the case in warranting a look at Carter Page. Who was dirty!


So the problem is….?

TCB said...

Recent reports say that in addition to money laundering by Trump and friends, the FBI has discovered that the National Rifle Association has acted as a conduit for illicit Russian money to both Donald Trump and perhaps a lot of other Republican elected officials.

Norman Goldman, the other day, was talking about this and said the NRA deserves to be broken up for this. "If ACORN can go away, so can the NRA." Reminder: ACORN were not even doing anything wrong.

TCB said...

Edit: that NRA/Russia connection is not proved yet. It's from Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson's testimony.

He said: ""It appears the Russians, you know, infiltrated the NRA. It appears that the Russian operation was designed to infiltrate conservative organizations. And they targeted various conservative organizations, religious and otherwise, and they seem to have made a very concerted effort to get in with the NRA."

So. Unproven but I'd wager will be.

LarryHart said...

Bill Maher states the obvious:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHb4YMxnrZY


"It's like saying the exterminator is biased against the termites."

Anonymous said...

I was looking for information to repair a fault in my microwave oven and I stumbled across the web with a website that reminded me that Russians can be very Machiavellian:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thing_(listening_device)

Winter7

Anonymous said...

And remember this:

http://www.nytimes.com/1987/03/28/us/marines-say-two-guards-allowed-russians-to-roam-us-embassy-by-stephen-engelberg.html


Winter7

David Brin said...

onward

onward

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