Saturday, February 03, 2018

The end of the 'American Century'?

== Shifting Power Structures ==

I've long noticed that each of the last three or more centuries only began to show their "theme" or nature about a decade and a half into them. Culminating in 1918, World War One ended what had been an ebullient century of Optimistic Industrial Europe, that began with the Treaty of Vienna in 1815, which ended the French Century, and so on. Back in December 2013, Bloomberg ran a piece of mine and they insisted I be specific about 2014. But in fact, the pattern seems approximate... but chilling.

Shall we fear that the 2016 election of Donald Trump presages the collapse of the American Century? Certainly, every single action that he takes... and the Republican Party... seems aimed at demolishing the web of alliances built by Marshall, Truman, Eisenhower and so on, while devastating the scientific and entrepreneurial excellence that dazzled the planet. Our reputation as reliable partners, as logical problem solvers and as pragmatic negotiators lies shattered, just as other powers rise up, proclaiming "It's our turn, now."

To be clear, I am no believer in mystical crap like "cyclical history" or romantic pattern-seeking twaddle like "Fourth Turning" generational "theory." But It's all right to experience a "frisson" of worry, as the Concave (or American) Century sure seems to be giving way to something else. We still have time to win this phase of our Civil War and regain our formidable strengths, I believe. But we need to get cracking.

Here is the Bloomberg article, reprinted on my own site.


== Facts are inconvenient ==

Diametrically opposite to his claims, Donald Trump has signed less legislation at one year than any other president since Hoover.  If your dogma is hate-all-government, then why does DT brag so, about a legislative “record” (that isn’t remotely true)?

Where Trump has surpassed most modern presidents is the number of pages of legislation, most of it in the new tax bill that passed with zero hearings, crafted in secret by only two dozen top Republicans and their lobbyists.  Congrats on that.

Dig this. The GOP has run Congress for 20 of the last 22 years, and across that time they were the laziest in U.S. history, holding the fewest (non-Clinton-lynching) hearings, introducing or passing the fewest bills and holding the fewest days in session… but breaking records in days spent fundraising or closeted with lobbyists. Look at the stock value of K Street lobbying firms and tell us about “draining the swamp.”

Now, your values may rank higher some of Trump’s actual accomplishments, such as driving a mass exodus of skilled civil servants, e.g. from the State Department, eviscerating the IRS so that the number of audits has collapsed, and cancelling consumer financial protections. (For example, a hated Obama-era rule that your financial advisor must tell you, when he is guiding you into investments that serve him, and not you.)

If that's you, then you probably believe it actually matters what symbol foreign  agents wear on their lapels. The very same fellows you used to rave about when they wore hammers and sickles, as villainous enemies of everything American, are now great pals -- the very same men -- since they switched to wearing crosses. Dang, got to hand it to them. (The last five minutes of Blast From the Past were prophetic!)

== The (Potemkin) Korean Candidate  ==

Have you wondered how North Korea developed sophisticated H Bombs and ICBMs so swiftly? Those warmongering for a U.S.-Iran fight claim it’s Tehran that’s been helping. This article shows otherwise - that NK lured in rocket and nuclear scientists  who lost their jobs at the end of the Cold War. But it implies the help came one worker at a time. But what if a neighbor of NK had a geopolitical reason to want this present situation?  Consider the benefits of having a puppet regime that can strike at America… while you have utter deniability.  Anyone who thinks the Kim regime has been anything but a wholly-owned subsidiary, since 1950, is na├»ve.

Berit Anderson, CEO and co-founder of Scout.ai, is a global expert on this subject. Scout broke what may have been the earliest story on how what she calls "computational propaganda" was used by a foreign power's info-war teams in a torrent of well-orchestrated and smartly planned efforts to affect outcomes in both state and national elections inside U.S. boundaries. Today, experts are reasonably certain that the same teams and techniques were used against Britain to affect the Brexit vote, in Spain during the Catalan rebellion, in France, in Germany, and elsewhere.

Worse yet, there appears so far to be no real solution, and politicos are assuming, in public, that all upcoming elections in the world's democracies will again fall under info-attack by the same powers.

As a result of all the above, Berit has been speaking around the world on the issues relating to this direct threat to free speech and democracy, from New York to Lithuania to Brussels, Amsterdam, Estonia - the list gets longer daily.
At our recent FiRe conference, Berit was interviewed by the BBC's Ed Butler. Video is available here

== Conservatives: rebuild cred by being “right” more often! ==

In New York, crime has fallen in each of the major felony categories, with just 285 homicides in the city, the lowest since reliable records have been kept. The numbers portray a city growing safer even as the police use less deadly force, make fewer arrests and scale back controversial practices like stop-and-frisk. And what to do with that fact? Point and scream at Chicago! Though the New York trend is by far more typical across the nation.

This article demands “Affirmative Action for conservatives on college faculty." Now I actually like good debates! I want there to be fact-loving and cogently collegial conservative voices on campus! The problem is that they are rare, compared to the prevalence of fact-hating, dogmatic fanatics. 

And yes, there are dogmatic leftists - a problem that is rife, at the 5%+ level - at almost any university; anecdotally a clade of drivel-spinners and even bullies. PC screechers did their own cause vast harm in the 1980s, by driving off campus conservatives like Paul Wolfowitz and his neocon pals, who sought shelter in faux-academe "institutes" like Heritage, where their madness went unchecked by collegial interaction or feedback. Campus sanctimony junkies thus share some blame for the lunatic excesses, when neoconservatives got their chance at policy-making. 

Still, lefty university loons are much more rare than media imply… and that problem certainly won't be helped by adding other crazies “for balance”!

Matthew Reed Bailey offers an explanation “why Liberals are demographically more represented in Academia than are "Conservatives." This has to do with "roughly 80% of Conservative Policies being discovered to be "just wrong" over the last 50 years.” Bailey avows “only in the areas of Free-Trade and Globalization do they "Get it right."  

I would add a few more narrow islands of cogency on the right. They were okay to resist the left’s worst crime/mania of the last generation — the insipidly insane notion of desegregation by Forced School Bussing, which permanently alienated 30 million American voters and led directly to the revival of today's Confederate Coalition. That sanctimonious-drooling madness has never been admitted by a single leftist, for the self-destructive and criminally stupid mistake that it was.

And coming up to contemporary matters, let me prove my contrariness by stepping up and avowing that today’s right is on-target criticizing a democratic policy to emphasize family reunions in legal immigration. Sure it sounds nice, but when you think about it — beyond parent and child — it is flat-out evil. And I mean that word. With the best of intentions, perhaps, it is truly an evil policy! Dems should offer it up as a bargaining chip.

In fact, I invite you to look back at Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America" of 1994, a spectacularly brilliant piece of political theater that helped sweep the GOP into power over Congress for 20 of the last 24 years. If you actually read the "Contract" carefully, about half of the proposals are -- well -- somewhat reasonable. Of course, they are the promises that later gopper leaders -- worse than Newt -- went on to betray. Still, democrats, study the "Contract" method! It worked. Consider how. And these other suggestions.

== Alas, a sane conservatism should be right more often than that! ==

Beyond that, it’s sad that conservatives - many of whom I like - can never tabulate how often their “side” has been flat-out wrong, and learn from this that they need to revise — not their best-core values, but their reflexes and methodologies and especially who they accept as allies.

Climate denialism is blatantly a political-dogmatic cult whose ranting rationalizations are funded by coal barons, petro boyars and oil sheiks, using the same ad agencies that promoted "tobacco is harmless" and “cars don't cause smog,” and "it doesn't matter that our bays and streams kill fish and catch on fire!"... all while waging all out war against science and every other caste of knowledge in American life, sabotaging the research we need in order to find out whether humanity and america and our children might be in danger.

The U.S. military is made up of people who tend largely toward a crewcut-conservative personality. Yet, the US military officer corps is also fact-centered. They were the first American institution to realize that racism, and later sexism, boiled down to crippling presumptions that simply wasted tons of talent that warriors could not afford to forego. Likewise, officers know that climate change is a real threat to the republic, just as they know that foreigners meddling in our elections pose real danger, possibly at the level of war.

Alas, sane-adult American conservative civilians can afford the refuge of incantations. Deep-down, they know this is untenable — e.g. that most of the sexual perverts in politics and nearly all the child molesters are republicans. So they have just one recourse: to chant incantations issued by Fox that anecdotal far-lefties are representative of all liberals.  

It is a lie. Anecdotes about lefty-flakery have zero bearing on the vast majority of moderate-pragmatic, science and fact loving Democrats.

There can be another America-led Century. And if so, the next stop is Star Trek. If not, then feudalism, the natural human social order, will clamp on forever.  It all teeters on whether we can overcome this tipping point crisis. And that won't happen till our recurring national fever - the Confederacy - is quelled, yet again, and conservative Americans rejoin the actual conversation about our future.

== Listen to fact-people ==

Captain Mark Kelly (US Navy, retired) is a combat veteran and former NASA astronaut and brother to the American who stayed in space for a year. He writes: “This year has been an unequivocal disaster for the future of the planet.” He is very clear about what’s happening. Tell your mad uncle to look him up.  

154 comments:

Treebeard said...

Nothing like the old Wellsian “it's the Universe, or nothing”, “utopia or Apocalypse” extreme binary to get people's juices flowing and push an agenda. But of course, the future will be neither, and never was. If the American Century was about this kind of grandiose, immature, end-of-history delusional thinking, then yes, that looks to be winding down.

TCB said...

I read a good phrase elsewhere the other day: Fascism exploits rot. In other words, the fascists/reactionaries/confederates/charlatans will criticize real problems. Example: Drain the swamp! Yes, the system in Washington and elsewhere has been corrupted by influence peddling. Donald Trump got good political mileage from calling out this obvious problem. But when given the power to do something about it, he doesn't actually want to drain the swamp! He merely wants to make sure it's stocked only with his own gators.

Similarly with criticism of FISA wiretapping, and Oh! Isn't the FBI abusing Carter Page's civil rights? But Republicans were perfectly fine with law enforcement agencies spying on Occupy protesters or Black Rock protesters. And: for every liberal critic of expanded post-9-11 surveillance, there was another centrist Democrat who voted for it.

And so: just because the extremists are criticizing something doesn't mean it's good and should be defended as a knee-jerk response. That puts you in the absurd position of defending something you'd surely object to otherwise, and becoming foolishly entangled with it, while the fascists get to look like the 'real reformers' long enough to seize power. Fascism exploits rot. But very often it was middle-of-the-road milquetoast centrists and careerists who aided and abetted the rot long before it got bad enough for the fascists to exploit it.

David Brin said...

Treebeard (note the use of full name) at least makes an assertion that can be argued. Certain aspects are even - cough - in the prim sense of criticizing self-important, chest-thumping jingoism - um, er... true.

Of course his overall intent is still anti-progress in the extreme. And the notion that these last 70 years haven't been the very best in all of human history is, well, spectacularly monomaniacal and dumb.

Lloyd Flack said...

I think that as they get older people move towards the center or a bit right of center rather than the right. They become more willing to accept complexity and nuance.

Viking said...

Hi Guys, I was scanning io9, and the comments of an article about Waterworld and Costner turned into a Brin lovefest, especially many comments about how the Postman book was better than the movie. Way to go!

https://io9.gizmodo.com/waterworld-is-both-more-impressive-and-problematic-than-1822599551

The author of the article puzzled me. Saying the movie has a problem because the protagonist is a misogynist??? Does every hero have to be perfect?

Regarding this blog article, hinting that China might be behind the development of North Korea's capabilities: When I asked a Chinese friend in the defense industry why they support an embarrassing neighbor like North Korea, the answer was: "With land border to 14 countries, it is nice to have at least one that is friendly."

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the previous main post:

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.


Hey, Katniss's sister Primrose did almost exactly that in one of the last Hunger Games films. She was almost stuck outside the blast doors during an air raid on District 13 because she went back for the cat.

LarryHart said...

Viking:

The author of the article puzzled me. Saying the movie has a problem because the protagonist is a misogynist??? Does every hero have to be perfect?


I think his point was that the difference between the hero and the villain is blurred when both are obvious misogynists.

I like the comments that note the difficulty of making such films prior to the advent of CGI. It boggles the mind to think of what Lucas had to work with making the original "Star Wars" almost 20 years before "Waterworld".

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | I accept it because no one on the other side seems to be denying it.

Which is good enough for you, but not enough for someone sworn to uphold the Rule of Law and the Constitution. Do you see the problem? It isn’t enough yet to get us to a position where their oaths require action of them against a President who won an election.

WE can argue about what is right or wrong, but the people we need are bound by oaths that keep them out of such debates. Note that our active duty participants here do not discuss that angle much. (I’m bound by an oath too, but not the stricter one they adopt.) Those of us who adopt such things agree to self imposed constraints.

What I want is for people to refuse to acknowledge Trump's authority--to stop executing his orders.

…and this is where you run into roadblocks with us. He won that authority by a vote of The People. Until we can properly accept that he did so illegitimately, we are bound. IF people start going around the agreed upon mechanisms (e.g. arbitrary claims that his authority is illegitimate) then our oaths may actually require us to oppose people with whom we might otherwise find common cause.

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 get it, but I’d put to you that the mechanisms haven’t been properly tested yet. Seriously. These mechanisms take time exactly as the Framers intended. You want to act fast in a nation intentionally designed to work slowly because we pit various groups against each other.

I'd go further and say that rulings by Trump-appointed judges, including Gorsuch, should be ignored…

I would strongly oppose you here. Open that door and the Rule of Law will get trampled in a stampede of arbitrariness.

 Unintended consequences and all that.

The opponent is harming us.

Yes. He is also harming his future in such a way as to bring it to an end faster than anything you can accomplish without his help. If you want this to end quickly, let him be stupidly tyrannical and block his actions in court as best we can.

Now, a third of the country seems to accept or believe in the Divine Right of Trump, ordained by God and all.

Nah. That’s just the rationalization they are using to avoid facing the truth of their error. When they see it (tipping point), that rationalization will evaporate and they will forget that they ever believed such a thing. We are going to let them forget that too, aren’t we. Note that isn’t a question. We ARE going to let them forget it, but we won’t and our children won’t.




Do you mean that even Republicans will do the right thing?

Yes, though not for any reason that you’ll like. They will do so to preserve what little power remains to them after being routed. They will pretend to forget as well which will help them with their voters who want to forget too. We are going to let them for the good of the nation. We are going to let the historians record this era so our children do NOT forget.

If you want to be morally correct, you already have what you need.
If you want to win, you need more people on your side. You need certain kinds of people on your side.

Alfred Differ said...

I'll add to David's prediction that Trump supporters will try to redefine 'money laundering' as 'good business deals.'
Why leave money on the table, after all?

Alfred Differ said...

@David | emphasize family reunions in legal immigration

You've said this is evil a few times and I don't see it. In fact, I strongly disagree. No doubt you've written this up before and can offer a link here, right? I really AM curious why you think it is evil.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

@LarryHart | I accept it because no one on the other side seems to be denying it.

Which is good enough for you, but not enough for someone sworn to uphold the Rule of Law and the Constitution. Do you see the problem? It isn’t enough yet to get us to a position where their oaths require action of them against a President who won an election.


For benefit of listeners, "it" is the notion that Trump tried to have his lawyer fire Mueller back in June, but the lawyer refused to carry out the order. And I'm not sure what is in dispute here--that the event happened or that it crosses the line from political hardball to abuse of power. Because I'm not aware that the former is in dispute at all. The best Sean Hannity could do when faced with it was to cut to a high speed car chase (seriously).


"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 get it, but I’d put to you that the mechanisms haven’t been properly tested yet. Seriously. These mechanisms take time exactly as the Framers intended. You want to act fast in a nation intentionally designed to work slowly because we pit various groups against each other.


I acknowledge irony here. Trump's support also comes from Americans who are impatient to impose change. I am concerned that while people like me are cautioned to wait for the slow, steady progress toward resolution, Trumpists get a pass for their "understandable" frustration with the system and their extreme measures to overcome that frustration.

I have no choice but to take your word and that of those you speak of (Hi, Ilithi) that there is a tipping point somewhere after which resistance is warranted. My concern is that if that tipping point exists at all, it necessarily involves his putting insurmountable obstacles in the way. To exaggerate a bit, if you're only willing to oppose Trump once he's launched a nuclear strike, but not willing to try to prevent such an action, then I can't afford to wait for you to act. More realistically, if you require criminal indictment before we may resist, and he's able to prevent indictment by firing the prosecutor, then our keeping to the rules will be a Pyrrhic victory. We won't have broken the law, but the law will become meaningless in the larger sense.

We don't have completely incompatible views here. I see you (with justification) saying, "What good is winning if you destroy the framework to do it?" (Or as I would quote Captain America in WWII, "We still want to be the good guys when we win."). Whereas I'm asking, "What good is maintaining the framework when the winner will blow it up even more?" I think we each have a point.

continued...

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ: (...continuing)


"Now, a third of the country seems to accept or believe in the Divine Right of Trump, ordained by God and all."

Nah. That’s just the rationalization they are using to avoid facing the truth of their error. When they see it (tipping point), that rationalization will evaporate and they will forget that they ever believed such a thing.


From your lips to God's ear. I will be happy as a pig in shit if you are correct about this, but I see no sign of it happening. His supporters have doubled, tripled, and quadrupled down on their support, and inside their bubble, Mueller and the FBI are conducting partisan witch hunts, any conclusions of which they (the Trumpists) will dismiss out of hand. I'm not clear on what will ever change their minds.

Separate but related to this conversation, while I support democracy and the rule of law, it occurs to me now to question whether the electoral college system is antithetical to those concepts. I know we can't just change the rules because we don't like the outcome, but I'm mentally questioning things I used to take for granted, such that our system is one of democracy and rule of law. The fact that Trump won by negative-3 million votes says something. So does the fact that no president inaugurated in the entire 20th century ever lost the popular vote, while we've now already had two who did so in this young century, both of them Republicans.

This line of thought doesn't change the outcome of the game, but it does speak to legitimacy.

Anonymous said...

“…and this is where you run into roadblocks with us. He won that authority by a vote of The People. Until we can properly accept that he did so illegitimately, we are bound. IF people start going around the agreed upon mechanisms (e.g. arbitrary claims that his authority is illegitimate) then our oaths may actually require us to oppose people with whom we might otherwise find common cause.”
I had already heard that you said something about legitimacy. But I thought the translator was failing.
So, ¿ I must understand that you do understand that it is evident that Donald Trump cheated ?, and, therefore; Donald Trump is not the president. And understanding that, do you suggest that we should accept him as president and see if it is possible to work together with the republicans in pursuit of a better nation? ¿I suppose, if the town overthrows Donald, then the fascists will put another worse in the presidential chair. True? But, if the republican party is found guilty of fraud; ¿Is it not right that the congress give the presidency to Hillary Clinton?
I understand that your point of view is realistic; sensible and very diplomatic. That way is fine. But I suppose that I am too influenced in my decisions by Robin Hood style films, so it would be very difficult for me to feed the Republican crocodiles, with the hope that they will eat me until the last.
But what you say is right. Yes.
Winter 7

David Brin said...

Passed along by Russ Daggatt: "Thanks to Trump, Democrats now have a more favorable view of the FBI than Republicans do. In the last month, Republicans have gone from 65% favorable to 38% favorable. Trump has already caused a radical shift in Republican opinion on Putin and Russia (more positive) and the NFL (more negative)."
https://www.axios.com/gop-turns-on-fbi-survey-78c4f486-8755-4c9e-be99-a1567bd3a625.html

Fascinating. The very same poli- tburo plotters who the US right despised and feared, became best-buds with a change of symbolism. From communist lapel pins to oligarch/orthodox pins. The same guys (wearing better suits), pursuing similar methods with the same aim - bringing Pax Americana and American world leadership to an end - are suddenly great pals of the US right... because Rupert Murdoch says so. And the FBI that has always opposed those agents - many of them the very same people - are now villains.

The... Confederacy... is... treason. Always was. Always will be.

Treebeard said...

You are wrong about Russia having the same aims as the Soviet Union. Does Russia push a revolutionary, subversive, global, atheistic, history-ending ideology today? No. That sort of thing is much more popular in the West now among people like you, which has everything to do with the Right's change of opinion vis-a-vis Russia. Could it be that Russia's opposition to Pax Americana has something to do with the expansionist Pax acting relentlessly hostile to them, even after they jettisoned Communism? You could say that the roles reversed: the USA became the expansionist, subversive, history-ending globalist Empire, and Russia returned to being a nation, while trying to contain the Empire's aggressive "Ordo ab Chao" program on its periphery. I think Oceania's expansionist days are over though, with Eurasia/Eastasia's growing power and shared interest in pushing Oceania out of their territory.

David Brin said...

Alfred has the right of this... sorry, LarryHart. But the disadvantages of the West, the Union, the Enlightenment have always included seeming to be patsies, because we stand for the rule of law, even when it delays or hampers quick reaction.

Let me recommend the great 1960s film about Sir Thomas More called "A Man for all Seasons." It has flaws, and More did, too. But there's a wonderful scene in which his son in law demands that More -- (a judge) - arrest a fellow who is sure to betray him.


-That man's bad!

-There's no law against that.

-God's law!

-Then God can arrest him.

-While you talk, he's gone!

-Go he should, if he were the Devil, until he broke the law.

-Now you give the Devil benefit of law!

-Yes, what would you do? Cut a road through the law to get after the Devil?

-Yes. I'd cut down every law in England to do that.

-And when the last law was down,and the Devil turned on you...
...where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?
This country is planted with laws from coast to coast...
...Man's laws, not God's, and if you cut them down...
...and you're just the man to do it...
...do you really think you could stand upright in the wind that would blow then?
I give the Devil benefit of law for my own safety's sake.


Yes, the rule of law, above men and even our desires, is hard to live up to. The feudal way is vastly easier. And yes, it can be used against us! Indeed, if the enemy brings down the laws and leaves us with no choice, then we must use every power to fight back. (e.g. the pure fact that our side has almost all the folks who know any science or how to actually do stuff.)

But we must err on the side of assuming that day has not yet come. And it hasn't.

Sure, I call out praise to the Officer Corps, and other professionals who stand between us and a cranky toddler man pressing "the Button." Still, I pray they are discreet. Endlessly mature. Bottomlessly careful.

David Brin said...

"ou are wrong about R having the same aims as the Soviet Union. Does R push a revolutionary, subversive, global, atheistic, history-ending ideology today? No."


What stunning imbecility! Of course it does! The oldest one in the world and vastly, vastly, vastly more inimical to freedom and life and hope and (yes) enterprise flat-fair-open-competitive-creative market economics. And we are not responsible for your stupidity.

Anonymous said...

Well then. Observe all what happens; and let's not get in the way of the law process; but let's not stop monitoring the politicians.
We have to remain vigilant and loud and stay consistently engaged with our representatives and the political process every single day, on both a macro and micro level. For politicians who are not watched and criticized, never stop; neither before the law, nor in the opinion of anyone.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

Translation error:
At the end of my previous sentence, what I really wanted to say is:

Most politicians, when they do not feel watched, tend to steal and do evil. Because of that, it is necessary to watch the politicians.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

In another matter: the Russians made a spacewalk of more than eight hours to place an antenna that would communicate directly with Russia. And they put the antenna pointing into space !! Jaaaa Jaaa Jaa.Jaaaa, ja .:
https://phys.org/news/2018-02-recording-setting-spacewalk-antenna-wrong.html


Winter7

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Winter

"Most politicians, when they do not feel watched, tend to steal and do evil. Because of that, it is necessary to watch the politicians."

I disagree - MOST are honest men and women trying to help

But the rest of them need to be watched incredibly closely

Twominds said...

What do the americans here think about this piece in Slate? How the GOP Went Crazy Is it more or less accurate, or exaggerated, or only the tip of the iceberg?

I've thought again and again and again over the decades that it couldn't get any crazier in part of american politics, and always I was proved wrong. The conspirational right's mindset is literally un-understandable to me.

This article chilled me, because it makes me doubt that any effort to get them get their heads out of their arses is doomed to fail. So then only hard opposition is left, and that can leave its own trail of damage adding to what's already there.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | crosses the line from political hardball to abuse of power

It crosses that line when it is actually tried. Until then, it is a fit of pique and the abuse was prevented by his lawyer to whom we should be somewhat thankful.

Hannity should be embarrassed, but he obviously doesn’t understand that yet. He drank the kool-aide long ago.

while people like me are cautioned to wait

Not at all. I’m just cautioning you against tearing down the very thing Putin would like us to tear down. We need The Rule of Law. He would prefer we tip into Arbitrary Rule.

Trumpists get a pass

Only some people do that. Not me. Not you. Not even some of my friends who voted for him. Many of them have been qualifying their incantations with phrases like “I don’t really want to defend the guy, but…”.

…and he's able to prevent indictment by firing the prosecutor…

Do you REALLY think he can pull that off? Firing one man obviously won’t be enough. Do you really, really think the FBI is going to fold up on us? I know you FEAR they will, but do you THINK they will?

This can be phrased quantitatively as a bet. Imagine putting everything you have on the line. House, car, furnishings, bank accounts, everything. If the bet was for even money (50/50) that he WILL/WON’T get away with firing enough people to cow our institutions, which way would you go? If you win with a bet that he can win, you could use the money to try to escape the country with your family. If you lose with a bet either way, he might as well have won as you’d have lost everything. Which way do you go at 50/50? Now imagine sliding the scale a bit to the left so it is 60/40? Which way would you go. Remember that the payout changes to match the risk. If you slide it all the way to 90/10 and bet on the 10, you get 9x your money with a win and lose everything with a loss. The point of the exercise is to find the split that leaves you unable to figure out which way to place your bet. That split is what you THINK the odds are… probably… instead of what you FEAR they are.

If you think the split is such that the ratio is larger than unity, I’d be surprised. I’d also be concerned for you.

What good is maintaining the framework when the winner will blow it up even more?

I’d argue the framework is quite robust and even anti-fragile in some ways. Don’t underestimate it unless you want to do all of us a disservice.

I'm not clear on what will ever change their minds.

You don’t have to be. Let your opponent’s poor abilities harm his own interests and his reputation in their eyes. Let this work out even to the point where they try to redefine money laundering as good business. Let them try to square that in their minds after they get crushed in the next election. That is the path that will result in enough people for 'illegitimate' to be true.

but it does speak to legitimacy

NOW your talkin’. Amending the Constitution on the EC will be quite a challenge, but after this debacle, you’ll probably have the best chance ever. Do it that way and we preserve the very thing Putin wants us to rip up.

Alfred Differ said...

@Winter7 | it is evident that Donald Trump cheated ?

That is what the investigation is about. It is pretty clear that Russia tried to tip our election toward their preference(s). Some people in Trump's campaign appear to be 'assets' in the intelligence sense. That means they appear to have been working for Russian Intelligence. Some more people in the campaign appear to have been stupid/naive enough (at best) to think they could work with foreign operatives without becoming one of their tools.

What isn't clear is whether Trump was directly involved. His effort at a cover-up (which now seems very obvious) could be to protect himself or his family or both. It could be about evading money laundering charges aimed at him or his family or both. It could be about both possible charges, I suppose.

work together with the republicans in pursuit of a better nation?

I'm no longer inclined to do this until after the next election. I suspect many of the Republicans currently defending Trump are covering up something too. Maybe their NRA money is tainted? Heh. Screw 'em. That's what elections are for.

Alfred Differ said...

@treebeard | You are wrong about Russia having the same aims as the Soviet Union

You are SUCH an idealist it hurts. Russian power historically reverts to centralized control in a ‘czarist’ style. The Soviets did so without calling it that. Putin does so without calling it that. Strong man in the middle, secret police providing the tools to instill fear when the central power runs out of money and needs to enforce its wishes on its neighbors, and the Russian People who have an impressive tolerance of depredations born out of an understandable fear arising from an indefensible position.

The Soviets collapsed and the Russians gave up communism because they couldn’t make it work. They did NOT give up a czarist approach to governance no matter how much those of us in the West wished it were so.

And our Pax didn’t encroach. We were invited in by former Soviet states who damn well wanted to prevent a reoccurrence of their occupation. Russia ALWAYS sees a shallow defensive perimeter as encroachment, but it isn’t from the perspective of their neighbors who call it freedom. The Russian perspective is understandable given their history, but if they persist it will spell the end of Russia with their next collapse when they lose access to the Caspian.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Alfred has the right of this... sorry, LarryHart. But the disadvantages of the West, the Union, the Enlightenment have always included seeming to be patsies, because we stand for the rule of law, even when it delays or hampers quick reaction.


I have more respect for Alfred here than I may be showing. And I have the luxury of wishing for things that can't possibly come to pass because I'm in no position to have my will be done. My point in stressing over-the-top responses to the situation is to emphasize "This. Is. Not. Normal." We mustn't intentionally blind ourselves by pretending that it is.


Let me recommend the great 1960s film about Sir Thomas More called "A Man for all Seasons."


That was my late father's favorite film. No need to elucidate the point.

I don't wish to tear down "every law in America" to get at Trump. I do occasionally want to point out that Trump (and the complicit Republicans) are cutting the trees down themselves, both literally and figuratively. They're the ones who, rather than "give the Devil benefit of the law for [their] own safety's sake"], simply insist that the law doesn't constrain them personally. I hope you recognize the irony in the fact that if people of my political persuasion are starting to imagine extra-legal solutions, it's not because we're naturally inclined to do so (as the Republicans are), but because we've been metaphorically tortured into changing our minds.


Indeed, if the enemy brings down the laws and leaves us with no choice, then we must use every power to fight back. (e.g. the pure fact that our side has almost all the folks who know any science or how to actually do stuff.)

But we must err on the side of assuming that day has not yet come. And it hasn't.


Hmmmmm. I agree with the sentiment, but question whether it's a case of "erring" any longer. It's like, "I gave you the benefit of the doubt, but there's no longer any doubt." I hope to God that you are right about "that day has not yet come," which is also what Alfred has been arguing.

What concerns me is that "That day has not yet come," not become a mantra to be repeated no matter what is happening. I'm seeing us very close to the dividing line between "erring on the side of caution" and "wishful thinking."

All this to say I don't fundamentally disagree with Alfred (or you) on this. I'm simply afraid that his (and your) position might be that of Edith Keeler. "She was right, but at the wrong time."

LarryHart said...

@Alfred Differ:

@LarryHart | crosses the line from political hardball to abuse of power

It crosses that line when it is actually tried.


Aha! Do you see my concern now. It was tried back in June. Unless you dispute that fact (and I'm not clear if you are or not), then you've already moved the goal posts to "It crosses the line when damage is successfully accomplished." And then, we're on the slippery slope to "It crosses the line when I'm already too neutralized to do anything about it."

Let me lighten it up a bit. An analogous situation involves the argument over whether Greedo shot first in "Star Wars". Lucas seemed to think the scene needed changing because Han would be a cold-blooded murderer if he was the first to shoot. I've always been on the side that says Han was acting in self-defense, and is justified in killing first when the opponent already had the drop on him and was clearly intending to kill him given the chance. Metaphorically, you seem to be taking Lucas's stance, saying "Wait until Greedo shoots, and then we can stop him." And I'm concerned that the next iteration not be "Wait until Greedo hits us with the shot, and then we can stop him."

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

I had already heard that you said something about legitimacy. But I thought the translator was failing.
So, ¿ I must understand that you do understand that it is evident that Donald Trump cheated ?, and, therefore; Donald Trump is not the president. And understanding that, do you suggest that we should accept him as president and see if it is possible to work together with the republicans in pursuit of a better nation?


Ok, here I have to backtrack and seem to take the opposite position to my usual one.

I think the Republicans cheated, but in ways that don't meet a legal standard which would officially invalidate an election (besides the fact that the US Constitution has no mechanism or provision for invalidating an election--none).

They cheat by drawing districts that favor them no matter what the voters want. They cheat by finding ways to purge the voter rolls of those likely to vote against them. They cheat by monopolizing the airwaves, so that their message overwhelms anyone else's. And I believe they cheat with the proprietary software that runs many voting machines, but the very nature of those machines precludes proof.

So when I say Trump is illegitimate, I am expressing a personal position, not one that I can see any way of being politically implemented. In fact, as Dr Brin and Alfred repeatedly point out, if such an action were to be taken, I would probably be disappointed with the inevitable consequences. "Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of [our lives]."

Knowing that I'm being confusing enough in my native English, I hope you can understand what I'm trying to say here.

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

But I suppose that I am too influenced in my decisions by Robin Hood style films


Since the 2016 election, I've been watching many old films in that vein and feeling them more poignantly than ever before.

The 1930s "Adventures of Robin Hood" is one of those. Others are "Casablanca", "Soylent Green", "The Great Escape", and the entire "Hunger Games" series. My daughter's school will be doing "Les Miserables" as their spring musical in a few months, and I greatly look forward to seeing that.

TCB said...

Twominds said, quoted in full:

"What do the americans here think about this piece in Slate? How the GOP Went Crazy Is it more or less accurate, or exaggerated, or only the tip of the iceberg?

"I've thought again and again and again over the decades that it couldn't get any crazier in part of american politics, and always I was proved wrong. The conspirational right's mindset is literally un-understandable to me.

"This article chilled me, because it makes me doubt that any effort to get them get their heads out of their arses is doomed to fail. So then only hard opposition is left, and that can leave its own trail of damage adding to what's already there."

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

I keep telling people, read This pdf of The Authoritarians by Prof. Bob Altemeyer.

Read it read it readitreaditreadit please read it READ it. IF I were you I'd listen to me telling you to, and I quote myself verbatim, "Read it."

The Authoritarians is the best and simplest dissection I have read of what it is that makes authoritarians think as they do, and why you can't talk them out of it.

Read it.

The most unexpected datum, for me, was that 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.

You cannot talk them out of it! You cannot charm them out of it! You cannot bribe them out of it! In the end you must either obey or oppose the authoritarian impulse. There is no third option because they will never let you have one. And they will try to destroy you for picking the second one.

In Altemeyer's book he recounts a World Simulation they did in a gymnasium, with a big world map on the floor. They ran the game with a cohort of people who scored low on authoritarian attitudes, and a separate one with the cohort who scored high (almost nobody is either all one or all the other, it's a continuum). The low-authoritarian cohort ran their virtual nations with a degree of honesty and worked together to solve problems like global warming and world hunger. Progress got made.

The high-authoritarian cohort ran their countries corruptly. The Russian leader started a nuclear war with the US and killed everybody in the world. The facilitators turned off the gym lights, as they do in that case, and reset the clock back a few years. The Russian president had learned his lesson: he attacked China instead and only killed a couple billion people.

READ THAT PDF! I recommend it fully.

matthew said...

There will be 30% Trumpinistas in America until the demographic dies out. Remember how Nixon was treated by the Republican party after his resignation in disgrace? Remember how many die-hard supporters refused to admit Nixon was crooked? We will be stuck with these fascists (the word is accurate in description of what Trump-worshippers want) for the next 25 years, even if our national institutions work to reveal and drive out the shenanigans that have brought them to power.

How we deal with the Nazis among us will have generational repercussions.

I'm in favor of the Captain America solution - you always punch the Nazi. Fascists represent a system that has no compunctions in using violence and every desire to end the concept of "one person, one vote." Compromise with fascists has always been unworkable. Name a counter-example to this point.

So, what do you do when 30% of your population are inflicted with a sociopathic hatred of the other 70% and get Goebbels-style propaganda every day from Fox?

You wait out the generational shift. You win small battles. You use symbolism. Most, of all, you are persistent.

The American narrative deep down is a story of widening horizons of inclusion and the positive results of wide and deep competition. The 70% of Americans that see the last sentence as true will out-perform, out-think, and out-work (immigrants, we get the job done!) the rotten bunch.

The trick is prevent a shooting civil war in the meantime. I'm not so sure that can be done. I do believe that the 70% would eventually prevail in such a conflict. It's hard to win a war, long time, when all the scientists are on the other side. Once again, name a counter-example.

LarryHart said...

Twominds:

This [Slate] article chilled me, because it makes me doubt that any effort to get them get their heads out of their arses is doomed to fail. So then only hard opposition is left, and that can leave its own trail of damage adding to what's already there.


That's the fear that I've been trying (and apparently failing) to express as well.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

"…and he's able to prevent indictment by firing the prosecutor…"

Do you REALLY think he can pull that off? Firing one man obviously won’t be enough.


The more likely scenario, which the Nunes memo seems to set the table for, is that he fires Rosenstein and then installs someone over Mueller who obstructs the investigation from above. Ordering Mueller not to look into Trump's business, for example. Or simply slashing Mueller's budget.


Do you really, really think the FBI is going to fold up on us? I know you FEAR they will, but do you THINK they will?


I don't think they'll fold, but they might themselves have to go extralegal in order to circumvent obstruction from their own chain of command. The FOX (heh) is legally in charge of protecting the henhouse here.

The ultimate check and balance in a case like this always rests with the American people--that if Republicans blatantly obstruct justice, they'll be killed in the next election. That's why I'm particularly concerned about Trump's firm 30% supporters who just won't peel off. That alone isn't enough to save him, but that along with the FOX bubble, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and Facebook? Perhaps. *

* From "Batman" addressing Roger C. Carmel (Harry Mudd) as Colonel Gumm:

B: You Satanic, mad stamp man!

GC: Satanic? Who knows. But mad stamp man? Perhaps!"

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

I suspect many of the Republicans currently defending Trump are covering up something too.


Yes, many of them sound as if they're in a hostage video.

I tend to credit the point several radio hosts on WCPT (Chicago's Progressive Talk) keep reminding us--that the Russians hacked the RNC as well as the DNC. The DNC e-mails were immediately released, but they're holding the RNC information close to the vest. One has to wonder what kompromat they've got, and on whom.

TCB said...

Matthew said: There will be 30% Trumpinistas in America until the demographic dies out.

Doesn't work that way. I thought it would happen with the Nixon generation. Plot spoiler: it didn't. They just inculcate new College Republicans and so forth.

Anonymous said...

The Republicans altered the software of the vote counting machines. That is a total and absolute attack against the electoral system. In my universe. But if ... Rays! ¿Did I jump to another dimension? ¿A dimension where electoral fraud is valid for the rich? What a strange universe. I will have to build a machine that allows me to return to my universe. I hope not to jump by mistake to the universe Yapluood, universe where women are beautiful cannibals. (Maybe I stayed a couple of years in that Yapluood universe, ¡there's no electoral fraud!)
But it is your country. (in this dimension) So, they have the right to put the Pennywise clown or Beetlejuice in the presidential chair. (Hooo, ¡Beetlejuice would be fun!.) And since we're in it, I think you have to say three times: ¡Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice! ....... ¡It did not appear! Houuu.
I better go to breakfast ...
Winter7

LarryHart said...

@matthew and @TCB,

Yes, as a teenager in the 70s, I fully expected that our generation (remember when Boomers were both young and idealistic?) would simply crowd out the racists and other supporters of social injustices. I was dismayed in college to discover that "Young Republicans" was not an oxymoron.

In the interim, my generation is now emblematic of crotchety old white-supremacist Trump supporters. I hope to God that millennials don't follow suit.

Cari D. Burstein said...

Duncan wrote:

"Most politicians, when they do not feel watched, tend to steal and do evil. Because of that, it is necessary to watch the politicians."

I disagree - MOST are honest men and women trying to help


I think this disconnect is actually partly based in where you live. The ratio of honest politicians to crooked ones is somewhat reflective of both the culture of your society and how well ethics are enforced in government. The reason for this is that in societies where ethical behavior is not enforced or expected in government, the most crooked people are drawn into it in greater numbers. In societies where unethical behavior is frowned upon and rules against it are enforced, some crooked people will always try it anyhow, but most will gravitate towards professions where they can more easily get away with their antics.

This is why corrupt government is so hard to climb out of, because the more it goes on, the more it becomes normal and the more crooks and abusers get drawn to it. This is also why I fear greatly that the current state of things will lead to a downward spiral of our government in the US if we don't effectively squash it. The norms are being broken left and right. Our government is not free of corruption, but the level of it is far lower than in many countries and I'd like to keep it that way.

I'd also argue that it's harder for the honest types to climb in government. So at the lower levels of government you see folks who really just got in to do the right thing. But you need so much more money and influence to climb to the higher levels, and people who are willing to compromise themselves to get there are far more likely to climb. So it's not necessarily that power corrupts or that power attracts the corruptible alone, but the combination of those two factors that lead to the rot when there's so much money in politics.

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

The Republicans altered the software of the vote counting machines.


I assume that was a question.

It's more subtle than that. Many of the private corporations who produce and manage voting machines ties to Republican politics. And they own the software. Furthermore, the software is proprietary, so there can be no outside auditing. We're apparently supposed to take their word for it that the result is accurate.

TCB said...

What's almost amusing is that some of the same companies (Diebold in particular) make bank ATM's and those had better be honest and auditable and reasonably secure, or else. They know how to do it, but for voting machines they choose not to. Simple as that. And what about the gambling machines at casinos? Those have to be honest, auditable, and secure or the gaming commission will fall on the manufacturer and operator like a load of bricks.

But elections are so much less important than video poker and money dispensers. /s

Anonymous said...

LarryHart
Vote counting machines ...¿ No possibility of audit? ... You must be kidding ...¡ The Americans continue buying snake oil that heal everything! ¡Rays! ¿ Who decided that? ¿Where is that guy who managed to trick an entire nation ?. Hooo. I must definitely be in another dimension.
Well ... Do not worry ... ¡Everything will be fine! ... I will try to find a solution. I have already read the novel "The Puppet Masters" by Robert A. Heinlein. (Hooo! ¿What would I do without all those manuals that tell us how to survive in dystopian worlds?)
For mexico it's already too late, but maybe we can save ... California.
Winter7

Anonymous said...

¿Do those who manufacture the vote counting machines make the machines in the casinos? ¡Haaaa! ¡That smells like the casino mafia is involved in the whole thing!.
Winter 7

TCB said...

To my knowledge, no gambling machine is made by the same manufacturer as a voting machine, but the point is, the standard is so different.

Las Vegas Slots vs Electronic Voting Machines

Anonymous said...

TCB:
For the flamed underpants of Quetzalcoatl! ¿Are you trying to tell me that 95% of Americans are innocent sheep, that they do not know how to recognize wolves? ¡Americans must be very nice people! Like that chapter in which the crew of the USS Enterprise arrives in a world where everyone is innocent and ... ¡Rays! ¡I am in trouble! ¡The situation is worse than I thought!......
Maybe with massive electroshock therapies? ...
Winter7

Orval said...

I second Alfred Differ above-- why is family reunification "evil"? That's a very strong word indeed!

Now I admit that discussions of immigration in the US are somewhat distorted by the fact that the US is struggling with two different kinds of immigration-- immigration-by-hispanics-from-south-of-the-border, and immigration-by-everybody-else. But at least in the latter case, I really can't see how having some community attachment and social capital in place on arrival could be considered a bad thing, let alone an evil one.

Unless you believe government technocrats working under rules made up by congress and administered by the president have a godlike ability to separate white sheep potential entrepreneurs/inventors/community builders from black sheep welfare queens & rapist/murderer gangsters.

Twominds said...

LarryHart 9:26 AM said...

Alfred Differ:

I suspect many of the Republicans currently defending Trump are covering up something too.


Yes, many of them sound as if they're in a hostage video.

I tend to credit the point several radio hosts on WCPT (Chicago's Progressive Talk) keep reminding us--that the Russians hacked the RNC as well as the DNC. The DNC e-mails were immediately released, but they're holding the RNC information close to the vest. One has to wonder what kompromat they've got, and on whom.


One thing to do then is hack the place the Russians keep the 'kompromat' or, probably easier, the RNC itself. When the compromising info is out in the open, either these Republicans will need to abdicate, or they will be at least freed from the leash, and diminished in status and power.

Alfred Differ said...

@Twominds | One thing to do then is hack the place the Russians keep the 'kompromat' or, probably easier, the RNC itself.

What makes you think this hasn't already been done?

Remember that intelligence agencies like to act on their information WITHOUT revealing how they acquired it... for good reason.

Twominds said...

Alfred,

The fact that we don't see any effect on the Republicans. I have no idea what the various intelligence agencies did in this regard of course. But if they only sit on the info, what use is it?

America should take a leaf out of Russia's book and engage private hackers. Gives some deniability too.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Regarding the moving of goal posts, I think it is useful to remember that wanting to fire Mueller isn't illegal. Actually firing him is another matter.

Regarding comparison to Han Solo, I think it is useful to remember that Han would have died if he made an error. The firing of Mueller would not kill us anymore than firing Cox did. So... I'm not moved enough by the comparison to think I'm moving goal posts.

We rarely make it illegal to want to do something illegal.
We occasionally make it illegal to try to do something illegal.
By definition, doing an illegal thing is illegal... if you can convince a jury.

I'm not convinced that wanting to fire Mueller is illegal and I want our tyrant nailed by a valid indictment. I don't think that is too much to ask and I don't think we will have to wait much longer. This year I suspect we will see it. If not, the election will proceed anyway with a VERY angry electorate.

1968 was 50 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Orval:
All right. You are from Canada. Ho the eternal snow! A great place (If one does not mind to die trapped by snow on the long, very long roads) And you have that beauty called Avril Lavigne! You say you practice chamber music. Then you're probably very smart; Well, a good brain is required for classical music.
Canada has been allowing the entry of foreigners by many; many years. It seems that your country has a severe lack of cheap labor.
I remember that sad case of immigrants of color who escaped the deportation raids crossing the border into Canada, and lost their hands. How sad. They were looking to improve a little and they lost everything. I guess we can attribute that tragedy directly to Donald Trump. I suppose, if Donald read the news, that probably made him laugh with joy, since it is well known that the psychopaths lack empathy.
I suppose that Americans have the right to place a huge wall. But I've seen the final design of the wall, and frankly I could skip it in a few minutes (with some commonly used artifacts) But, of course, I'm not interested in traveling at this time to the United States. ¿Had the Jews in England wanted to travel to Germany in 1942? Well, the same thing seems to be happening now; other people, but it's the same problem. Of course, there are millions of Latin Americans who are willing to take risks, to save their families from hunger. ¿Are you going to deliver the immigrants to the police, Orval?

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@Twominds | America should take a leaf out of Russia's book and engage private hackers. Gives some deniability too.

Consider the possibility that we've already got information from surveillance of our opponents without having to hack our own people. Our outward facing intelligence agencies are not supposed to spy on us, but they might pick up incidental information when others talk about us. They might pick up more when other allied foreign intelligence agencies DO listen to our people and then share what they learn. Our allies DO some of the things our own agencies are forbidden to do by law, so OUR folks might not want to ruffle too many American feathers by talking about that a lot.

(We know they listen in because some of the information we have we already know comes from the Australians and the Dutch.)

But if they only sit on the info, what use is it?

Many died in WWII battles when the intelligence people had information that could have saved them. Decisions were made that the methods were more valuable than the lives. In hindsight, they were probably mostly correct. One doesn't have to go that far back in history to find other examples of this. Our US submarine folks know this lesson well.

Alfred Differ said...

@TCB | First of all, I am going to read the PDF. I’ll do it not just because you are pushing for it. I’ll do it because…

When I was a junior in high school, my US history class was team-taught by two teachers who pulled down the room divider between them and mixed their two classes. With a larger number of students, we were able to role-play certain events. One of them was the lead up to the Civil War. There is nothing quite like arguing a Southerner’s position to understand what they were trying to do. Another was the era after that with corruption ruling the day. The section on Yellow Journalism was eye-opening. Near the end, though, we role-played the Korean conflict and it sounds like my history teachers used something like a world simulation. I got to be the leader of North Korea. THAT was interesting. In the end, though, we would up with a nuclear war and everyone died. My teachers made it clear my country was now populated by radioactive glass beads. Hmmm… said a 17 year old kid. 8)

My teachers only did the Korean conflict scenario every other year, so my brother coming up one year behind me didn’t get to do it. I would have prepped him, but our teachers expected that, thus the gap. Instead, I prepped him for the Civil War debates and he managed to convince one of the African-American students to give the Southerner’s argument. Hilarity ensued when they twisted it a bit and argued for owning white people. That’s my brother, though. 8)

So… I’ll read the PDF.

Twominds said...

Alfred,

So you're saying I'm too impatient, and if America followed my ideas they would endanger their intelligence community?

That's quite possible, and I'm probably just as fortunate as frustrated that I'm in no position of influence.
Yes, I lose patience, and heart, and I start recommending dodgy methods, because I see less and less ways to fight honorably against the alt-right tide, especially when they have entities like Cambridge Analytica at their side.

LarryHart said...

Orval:

I second Alfred Differ above-- why is family reunification "evil"? That's a very strong word indeed!
...
Unless you believe government technocrats working under rules made up by congress and administered by the president have a godlike ability to separate white sheep potential entrepreneurs/inventors/community builders from black sheep welfare queens & rapist/murderer gangsters.


I suspect that, without understanding the fact, people are instinctively arguing over the difference between a colonial economy and a climactic economy. The nativists presume that immigrants acquire rights to pieces of the pie that rightly belong to those of us already here.* Advocates of open borders (I think) see American values as a kind of ideal that others aspire to, and which should be available to all who aspire to them. The nativist view is a kind of recognition of a zero-sum game now that the frontier is closed.

There are realities that both of these views tend to ignore (potential for immigrants to produce value on the one hand; the need to vet for security and living space on the other). But to me, that's the essential difference between the two sides.

* Somewhat ironically, while the nativists insist that immigrants take value away that should belong to American citizens, they also deny that American citizens have any rights to the pie in the first place, the entire thing already being the private property of individuals.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Six months ago I couldn't even spell authoritarian, and now I are one."

Looks like an entertaining read.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Regarding the moving of goal posts, I think it is useful to remember that wanting to fire Mueller isn't illegal. Actually firing him is another matter.


First of all, I hope I've made clear that I'm not denying the validity of your position, and while I don't entirely share it, I'm not in opposition to it either.

Am I splitting hairs here to suggest that what Trump did goes beyond "wanting to fire Mueller"? He gave the order. That the order wasn't carried out is fortunate, but does not reflect on Trump himself. It's the moral equivalent of him pointing a gun at someone on Fifth Avenue and pulling the trigger, but the gun jammed. In such a case, he's not guilty of murder per se, but we have laws against attempted murder for a reason. It would be an abdication of civilization to claim we can't take action against such an assault until the murder is actually successful.

I have trouble believing that you don't see this, and therefore that you are willfully conflating "attempting" with "wanting". I do find that bit troubling.

LarryHart said...

Twominds responding to Alfred:

"What makes you think this [FBI knowing what's in the RNC hack] hasn't already been done?

Remember that intelligence agencies like to act on their information WITHOUT revealing how they acquired it... for good reason."

The fact that we don't see any effect on the Republicans. I have no idea what the various intelligence agencies did in this regard of course. But if they only sit on the info, what use is it?


Here, I'll agree with Alfred. It's inconceivable that Mueller doesn't already have some of this information. That he hasn't used it yet means little, and the theory may explain some otherwise-inexplicable facts, such as Trump not having yet fired Mueller or pardoned Flynn and Kushner and himself.

David Brin said...

Okay you asked. So here's a draft:

Today’s right is on-target criticizing a Democratic policy to emphasize family reunions in legal immigration.

“In the U.S., about two-thirds of permanent residents are admitted to reunite with family members,” May writes. “Less than 20 percent are admitted because of their professional skills. In Canada, by contrast, it’s almost the opposite: more than 60 percent of permanent residents are admitted via the economy class, and only a quarter are admitted because of family reunification.” In fact, one study has traced 200 immigrants to one Pakistani man, all via a system that Donald Trump (offensively) calls “chain migration.”

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-immigration-canada_us_58f7bcf2e4b05b9d613fc639?bed&section=us_world


Sure, the family reunification system, set up by both parties back in the 1960s, sounds nice, but when you think about it — beyond parent and child — it is flat-out evil. And yes, I mean literally evil.

Okay, I support reuniting parents and children and young siblings. But beyond that, it is actually deeply horrid. And to see why, you must squint and look at things from the perspective of folks back in the “home country.” Let’s say Somalia.

A very small fraction of people in that wretchedly-suffering nation have relatives living legally in the U.S. Those particular Somalians are already way luckier than their neighbors! They have American cousins who send money remittances, who sometimes come visit with piles of gifts. Who hire lawyers in the States to help with visas – even temporary ones – assistance that no one else in the neighborhood can anything but envy. Those adult siblings or cousins are already luckier than anyone else they know in Somalia! They are upper crust. Almost in the local “one-percent.” So, we should pile more largesse upon those who are already lucky?

Tell you what, let’s put it to a vote among Somalians whether they think automatic passes for adult siblings and cousins of U.S. residents is fair! The only ones voting “yes” would be… adult siblings and cousins of U.S. residents! A vast majority would express deep loathing for this way of making sure that the luck just get luckier. That the rich get richer.

Are you squinting and perceiving the point, yet? Do you see how the family reunion preference –Trump’s “chain migration” -- is an example of Goody-Two-Shoes, simplistic, easy-quick “morality” that turns out to be pretty vile, if you dig down? Why shouldn’t preference go instead to a kid who worked her butt off at Mogadishu School for Orphan Girls, who studied hard and who every teacher wants to send over here, to become a doctor or some other gift to the world?

Brain drain? Why should America not do well by doing good? Why not let in folks who can adapt to US society swiftly and productively, giving us a win-win? When immigrants are talented and hard-working, they prove the case for generosity. Think beyond just this year.

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

Orval:
All right. You are from Canada.
...
¿Are you going to deliver the immigrants to the police, Orval?


What did I miss that indicates Orval's being from Canada or an inclination to be mean to immigrants?

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

A vast majority would express deep loathing for this way of making sure that the luck just get luckier. That the rich get richer.


I see the point you're making, but I have two responses.

It's ironic then that Republicans are against chain migration when they are for unfettered inheritance of money and property. You'd think the arguments for or against both things would be morally equivalent.

Also, I don't think anyone here is advocating chain migration instead of letting in valuable contributors. Both could (and IMHO should) give someone points.

Your doubling and tripling down on the epithet "evil" seems to indicate a kind of visceral revulsion going on that some of us are having trouble understanding or relating to. I suspect that's what we're finding troubling.


Why shouldn’t preference go instead to a kid who worked her butt off at Mogadishu School for Orphan Girls, who studied hard and who every teacher wants to send over here, to become a doctor or some other gift to the world?


It should. No one here is denying that.

But why shouldn't the hard-working, productive immigrant who fears for his relatives' safety over in the old country be given the peace of mind of having the family reunited in his own neighborhood? Again, not one instead of the other, but consideration for both cases.


Brain drain? Why should America not do well by doing good? Why not let in folks who can adapt to US society swiftly and productively, giving us a win-win? When immigrants are talented and hard-working, they prove the case for generosity.


Agreed, but don't you think plenty of productive immigrants who benefited our country would have failed such a test on first arrival? Frankly, I find it more "evil" to limit entrance to those who can already prove success, excluding those hoping to work their way up, than it is to prefer relatives of those already here. If only those who do well in the old country are allowed in, why would they want to come here in the first place? It's not like there's a long line of Norwegians lining up to fulfill Trump's quotas.

TCB said...

@Alfred Differ: You are my hero of the day. Name something and I will read that, or bust a blood vessel trying.

@Winter7, whose actual name I forgot (I am bad with names!): It puts a smile on my face every time you invoke Quetzalcoatl. You probably already knew this, but the largest known pterosaur species is named after him.

LarryHart said...

Ok, what just happened.

In the Super Bowl, the Eagles made a fantastic play from the one yard line in which the QB gave the ball to someone else behind the line who then threw a touchdown pass to him (the Quarterback) in the end zone.

The announcers were talking about some particular reason why the QB was an eligible receiver on that play, but I couldn't make out what they were talking about.

Anyone know?

David Brin said...

LH:”Agreed, but don't you think plenty of productive immigrants who benefited our country would have failed such a test on first arrival?”

Yes, many. Some of them my ancestors. But we have to set some kind of criteria and there will be some strong correlation between those who work hard to educate and learn and prepare and earn, and those who do well here, paying taxes and boosting the reputation of their nation of origin.

You assume we can open floodgates and let in all comers. We can’t. Europe tried that just a couple years ago and the resulting reactionary surge has destroyed European politics. We have to remain a nation admitting lots of immigrants, and yes the “poor teeming refuse!” But arguing over what level is “digestible” is a perfectly legitimate discussion liberals and sane conservatives could have.

Liberals must accept that the “left” is not helpful or sane, when they say to throw open all borders.

“Frankly, I find it more "evil" to limit entrance to those who can already prove success, excluding those hoping to work their way up, than it is to prefer relatives of those already here. If only those who do well in the old country are allowed in, why would they want to come here in the first place? It's not like there's a long line of Norwegians lining up to fulfill Trump's quotas.”

I believe you need to re-read what I wrote. The relatives are already lucky! They get “foreign aid” in remittances and gifts that uplift them and make them lords, at home. With all of that, if they cannot leverage in some skill and talent and accomplishment, then yes, it is evil to prefer them over those who do more, with less.

LarryHart said...

@Dr Brin,

Wanting to let families stay together is not the same thing as "open floodgates and let in all comers".


But arguing over what level is “digestible” is a perfectly legitimate discussion liberals and sane conservatives could have.


I'm not disagreeing with you on this. My position is that I think we've got room to accommodate both high value producers and family members of citizens. I guess one thing that bothers me is treating immigrants who become citizens as somehow permanently inferior in that they alone would be forbidden from sponsoring family.


if they cannot leverage in some skill and talent and accomplishment, then yes, it is evil to prefer them over those who do more, with less.


You've already said that liberals are misguided, trying to do something nice for people and not understanding the negative consequences. To me, "evil" is a quality that meets much more of a standard of intended harm.

LarryHart said...

Another Super Bowl question...

I had heard that the Koch Brothers would have a commercial. I realize the game isn't over yet, but I'd expect they'd have wanted an earlier slot than fourth quarter. So I'm assuming I missed it.

Does anyone know what that commercial is/was about?

TCB said...

I find I do not fully agree or disagree with Dr. Brin's position on immigration favoring family members.

I have heard variants of this story a hundred times or more: "X emigrated from Country Y, and brought over family members Z as soon as he could." Could have been fleeing the Nazis, the Soviets, the bad economy in Whatzitstan... all I'm saying is, nobody was beefing very loudly about this practice my whole livelong life until the last year or so.

Suddenly it is a Problem. I find that Suspicious. More concretely, I suspect that it's only a Problem Now because some strategists and pundits would rather burn airtime and ink on this topic than some other one.

Remittances are, actually, an interesting subject. Dr. Brin notes that families in the old country who get remittances are privileged by that advantage, and maybe so. But if his statement that "we Americans have lifted billions from poverty by buying their crap" is his expression that it's a good thing (and I do read it that way), then are remittances less a good thing? After all: some Chinese profit much more from exports to the US than other Chinese do, obviously. But it's wrong for remittances to work that way?

*President Trump landed a body blow to the Salvadoran economy by removing 'temporarily protected status' (TPS) from 200,000 immigrants. Their remittances back home amount to
two percent of El Salvador's gross domestic product.

Right? Wrong? Neither? Both?

It is useful, though, to look at the matter as biology; if the United States were a giant living cell, its survival would naturally depend on letting in substances (sometimes genetic material) which it found useful, while keeping out those substances which it could not use or actually damaged its functioning. In the case of immigrants, we can't always tell ahead of time if they will help or harm our superorganism. I am, however, sure of one thing.

I would take 200 Pakistanis, hell, I would take 10,000 Pakistanis, before I would let in a single Australian named Rupert Murdoch.

LarryHart said...

Thank you Philadelphia Eagles for demonstrating that even Tom Brady can't win in a Democratic wave year!

David Brin said...

TCB: “Suddenly it is a Problem.”

White lower class Americans see the color and nature of the population changing. For a long time they vented rage at ILLEGAL immigration which in fact was never a major part of it.Anyway, Republicans were the ones fostering illegal flows and dems actually, sincerely tried to maintain a regulated border. The Dems did open the floodgates- to LEGAL immigration so it’s natural for GOPpers to aim ire that way, sooner or later.

“After all: some Chinese profit much more from exports to the US than other Chinese do, obviously. But it's wrong for remittances to work that way?”

I never opposed remittances. I just said the recipients are already very lucky, more than others in the homeland. And some other criterion would be more fair.

Twominds said...

LarryHart said... 3:53 PM


Here, I'll agree with Alfred. It's inconceivable that Mueller doesn't already have some of this information. That he hasn't used it yet means little, and the theory may explain some otherwise-inexplicable facts, such as Trump not having yet fired Mueller or pardoned Flynn and Kushner and himself.

I hope you're right.

Twominds said...

@ Larry Hart

Thinking about it a bit more. Remember I look at this with little knowledge. I'm not so sure Mueller can put pressure on Trump directly, wouldn't that endanger his position as unpartisan investigator? Let alone that Trump is probably very hard to pressure. Even indirect pressure on staffers who could influence Trump couldn't come from Mueller, I guess.

But yes, it seems that some kind of influence on Trump or his staffers is there to keep him from doing what you wrote.

I only hope that the undermining campaign, itself a sign how desperate the Republicans are, is not going to be so successful that the results of the investigation will be dead letters.

John Sears said...

Dr. Brin, I read these comments faithfully, and yet seldom comment. The discussions often cover controversies in the news, often trailing a nudge from your parent post. I find that these threads add needed color and dimension to what is sadly a black or white presentation in the mass media.

I consider your ardent commenters here, whether pro or con for this or that, to be usually respectful of alternative views, and yet challenge those with whom they disagree with courtesy.

Thanks to you, and to all of the regulars here.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:
(revisiting)

@LarryHart | Regarding the moving of goal posts, I think it is useful to remember that wanting to fire Mueller isn't illegal. Actually firing him is another matter.

... I'm not moved enough by the comparison to think I'm moving goal posts.

We rarely make it illegal to want to do something illegal.
We occasionally make it illegal to try to do something illegal.


"Want" is a red herring. No one is claiming mere desire or fantasizing as crossing a line.

"Try" in this case is watered down word. "Attempt" is closer to what Trump actually did. He gave the order to fire Mueller. The order wasn't carried out. That second point is due to the lawyer's intervention. Trump himself took all of the steps that would have resulted in a successful firing had someone else not interfered. Very much like pointing a gun and shooting at someone, only to have the gun jam.

We do arrest men and ruin their lives for the crime of making illicit contact with an underage girl, even if there was no actual "underage girl" to make contact with (only a 36 year old male FBI agent pretending to be one). I actually have misgivings about that, and come down on the side you might not expect a father of a teenage girl to be on. But if the consequences can be that great for a "crime" against an imaginary victim, surely the bar is lower for an act against an actual prosecutor which only failed because of the inaction of a third party.

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

I haven't had time to read all of the comments yet, but I did read that article about affirmative action for conservative academics. Your commentary on it suggested that the author showed that 80% of what conservatives believe is outright wrong, which is a rather bold statement. This article, however, did not put a number on it, only saying that most of what conservatives believe is based on very flawed ideas of "common sense" rather than actually proven fact. Was it a different article that the 80% figure came from? And if so, could you link to it? Also, does it give an estimate of how often liberal ideas are flat out wrong to compare?

Thanks, it helps to have links you can send to people so you don't look like you are making stuff up.

TCB said...

I agree, Dr. Brin probably pulled that quoter from a different but thematically similar article. In the linked Matthew Reed Bailey article, he's basically talking about Jonathan Haidt's assertion that conservatives are discriminated against in academia because of their different (and superior) innate cognitive style. Since the difference is asserted to be congenital or nearly so, just like skin color, it's truly discriminatory according to Haidt and therefore deserves affirmative action for conservatives.

Bailey counters that conservatives approach more topics from an emotional and not rational/logical basis (though he mentions a very few areas where it is the conservative view that is more rational/logical). It's only reasonable that there would be fewer professors who are fundamentally anti-intellectual in their views.

You don't see a lot of chefs who hate food, nor a lot of mechanics who hate cars...

Darrell E said...

Regarding my "I guess that answers my question" comment from the previous thread, my apologies for checking out and leaving things hanging.

Thank you Paul451 for picking up my slack.

Thank you Alfred for answering. I appreciate the distinctions you make, and to be clear I've always taken it for granted that we are firmly on the same side of this issue. I must confess that I am fuzzy about one distinction that you make. If you characterize Trump as a tyrant I don't quite see why you would not also consider him illegitimate. Surely the POTUS behaving like a tyrant is illegitimate if anything is given that tyranny has been antithetical to the US since its founding.

Perhaps you are considering primarily the process by which Trump became POTUS? That the election process was legitimate with respect to US law and precedent? That I can understand, wanting to wait until proper processes have reached a verdict. But, what information has dribbled out to the public over the past year adds up to a pretty damning picture. When you add how Trump and his cronies have been behaving it seems very probable that Russia fucked with our election in favor of Trump. Getting an official verdict is going to be as much, or more, of a political fight as a process of finding out what the facts are. And the Trump administration has been steadily making progress and is now very close to having enough control of justice and the FBI to stifle or spin the Mueller investigation. Our last chance may be the 2018 elections and hoping that the Republicans lose big enough to lose control of both houses. That seems to me a very dangerous place to be because it means that all the other checks and balances that are supposed to prevent Trump as POTUS kinds of things from happening and or continuing didn't work or have been suborned.

What really irks me about this issue is that aside from what past crimes the Mueller investigation may be considering and may have gathered convincing evidence of, in the course of the past year as the world has watched this investigation play out Trump and his minions have taken actions that were visible to the public, matters of public record, that look exactly like Obstruction Of Justice. And yet there is little that justice or the FBI or Congress has or could have done. The only thing giving the Trump administration pause is their uncertainty about how much they can get away with. They've been testing the waters aggressively. And the feedback they've gotten so far from the party that controls both Houses is, virtually anything. As long as they get their cut from the Great Coffer Raid. And from justice and the FBI, so far? Not putting up much of a fight when it comes to getting rid of Mueller's seniors. And officially lying and misleading about events relevant to the investigation. Not merely having a different view or opinion of facts but misleading with intent to deceive and straight up lying about facts. Not just in sound bites to the press but in official circumstances and documents.

TCB said...

Adding to LarryHart, we also arrest men who meet with undercover FBI agents to buy fake bomb making materials for terrorist attacks. The fact that the bomb was never going to actually work does nothing for the defendant's case.

A.F. Rey said...

avowing that today’s right is on-target criticizing a democratic policy to emphasize family reunions in legal immigration. Sure it sounds nice, but when you think about it — beyond parent and child — it is flat-out evil. And I mean that word. With the best of intentions, perhaps, it is truly an evil policy!

I was looking for a good time to bring up a recent post by Orson Scott Card where he actually takes a more liberal view of the issues of the day, but then you have to go and throw out that line.

Because, of course, OSC takes the somewhat opposite stance. (Quoted in its entirety, since I think he makes some good points.)

By the way, for a few minutes this week, the anti-immigrant Know-nothing lobby has begun to insist that they want "merit-based" immigration rather than immigration based on country of origin.

But what do they mean by "merit"? Why, higher education and a high income level -- immigrants who will "immediately contribute to our economy."

What, garbagemen and Seven-Eleven clerks don't contribute? The arrogance and stupidity of this definition of "merit" makes my skin crawl. First, the people who already have a good income and advanced education in their home country are the least likely to have any great urge to come to the United States. Why should they? They can afford to come visit as much as they want.

America was created by immigrants who were not already winners in their home country. In fact, most of them were in situations where they had no hope of obtaining an education or a profession. They came here to get those things, if not for themselves, then for their children -- and they succeeded, to the benefit of all of us.

If you measure "merit" by the level of achievement in the home country, then sure, we'll skim a bit of the cream from China or Pakistan or a few European countries. But in a lot of countries -- maybe most countries outside the First World -- powerful elites already control education and jobs to such a degree that the only way to achieve "merit" is by being complicit in a system of corruption and oppression.

Who do you think these "meritorious" immigrants are? Osama bin Laden, he had exactly the kind of "merit" that would meet that standard of eligibility for immigration. Educated, coddled by a wealthy Saudi Arabian family, he was exactly the guy that these Know-Nothings think they want.

A.F. Rey said...

You know who I want? The people who have no chance in their home country, the people whose children are hungry and have to get low-paying jobs instead of higher education because there's no way the parents can ever pay for college.

I want the people who are so ambitious for their families that they'll do whatever it takes to get them a better income and better opportunities -- even if it means taking them out of their home country and bringing them to the nation that promises an equal chance to everybody willing to subscribe to the ideals of the greatest republic in human history.

And here's the biggest irony. You know what happens to a "meritorious" immigrant like, say, a doctor back in the home country? When he gets here, his medical training and experience are treated as if he had been cutting meat in a butcher shop. He has to go back to medical school to get another degree.

In other words, we humiliate him as if his life's work was garbage. Yeah, that's an incentive to come join us in America!

But if he's willing to put up with such disrespect in order to get better opportunities for his children (whether they want them or not!), then yeah, that's merit. Not the medical degree, but the willingness to do whatever it takes to come here and become one of us.

Every now and then, when you look at that cab or Uber driver with a foreign accent, think about this: Maybe back in the home country he was a college professor or a lawyer or an outspoken guy who offended the wrong thug, and now he's here, doing what it takes to survive in the land of the free.

If they long for freedom enough to sacrifice for it, then that's merit, in my opinion, and we'd be crazy to turn them away.

(Emphasis from the original.)

http://www.hatrack.com/osc/reviews/everything/2018-01-18.shtml

I think his strongest point is that many of these immigrants come, not just to make life better for themselves, but for their entire family, too. Limiting it to only their children--and only to their under-age children, as Trump is proposing--is being unnecessarily cruel to those immigrants. Family is more than just kids.

*Sigh* It looks like you and OSC will never see eye-to-eye on anything anymore...

Jacob said...

Re: Dr. Brin
"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?"

I understand your frustration and objection to me potentially calling for another Investigation. The goal of my suggested follow up was to reduce inappropriate investigations rather than increase them. If we are wasting time and money, lets work on doing less of that.

Berial said...

Okay I just gotta ask:

If busing is/was such an evil and stupid idea, what WAS the correct answer to 'separate AND unequal' education?

TCB said...

The correct answer to 'separate AND unequal' education was to have all public schools fully and equally funded by the federal government ONLY. No inequality from one county to another, rich suburbs to poor city, or state to state.

I always thought there was something fishy about school quality being based so heavily on property taxes. Couldn't grown people see this? Yes, yes they could see it if they chose. And they generally approved, as long as their own schools were on the winning end of that inequality. Because that system is a product of Jim Crow.

David Brin said...

AFR thanks for quoting OS Card. I do dip into his world from time to time, wondering how such a gifted writer sank into becoming such a relentless propagandist against the Enlightenment Experiment and promoter of demigod-obsession and feudalism. At first sight, the passage you quoted appears to be passionately compassionate! He is standing up for the little guys, overseas, right? The huddled masses and refuse of their teeming shore, right?

But that is Card’s trick. In almost all of his writings, the demigod, uber-lord protagonist expresses tons and tons of noblesse oblige compassion! Ender is so soulful that he takes upon himself the guilt of humanity’s crime against the Buggers, drawing the reader into crying out:

“Oh, don’t beat yourself up, Ender! It’s not your fault! It’s the fault of humanity and all human institutions, which can never be trusted. We’re all guilty and could never rule ourselves wisely, so please, please take over, oh pure and noble-souled demigod!”

It is propaganda of a the finest order. My awed respect is boundless, as is my loathing of the feudalist, anti-democratic and anti-enlightenment themes that infest nearly all of his works — which are smart (very smart) missiles aimed at our confidence as strong, progressive and grownup citizens, capable of arguing openly, competing fairly and achieving positive sum outcomes.

Alas, the passage you quoted appears to be a paean to compassionate generosity toward the underclasses. And yes, he opposes some of the same forces I oppose! But I smell a rat. It’s there in Card’s assumption: “But in a lot of countries -- maybe most countries outside the First World -- powerful elites already control education and jobs to such a degree that the only way to achieve "merit" is by being complicit in a system of corruption and oppression.”

Simplistic crap. There are many ways to define merit. And some fall in between, even in places like Rwanda, where the simplest one would be to ask the faculty of every high school to name their most promising poor graduates. The possibility of a positive-sum outcome is core to the enlightenment-American experiment. And you will never see it mentioned in anything written by Mr. Card.

David Brin said...

Berial, geographic segregation was (and remains) a substantial obstacle to the integration of American society, even after segregation in services, rights and housing was made illegal. I don't deny that. But trying to counter an infrastructural injustice with a "solution" that is cosmically stupid, horrendously expensive, cruelly abusive to children and self-destructive of the liberal American consensus is not the way to go.

What? You think those bussed in, terrified white kids transformed the world with their instant-bonding to terrified bussed in black classmates?

There were zero aspects to forced school bussing that made sense or weren't examples of volcanic-level insanity. The same funding - used to actually upgrade all poor schools - would have done a hundred times as much good. Or a rule PAIRING rich and poor schools, so that Beverly Hills High only gets a new computer when Watts High gets one. When the rich parents raise funds for the band, they know half of the instruments go to the poor school. Stuff like that would have been resented, but done far less damage to our political consensus and done vastly more good.

Geographic segregation was always going to take decades to resolve. It is fading now, as middle class minorities move out and some ghettos gentrify, but it takes time. And impatient 1980s liberals only gave us Reagan and then all the rest.

locumranch said...


You haven't been hearing from me as much because I have a new (and ridiculously overpaid) job, but what I see everywhere is Market Failure. What is Market Failure? It's what happens when the Supply of a product is so disproportional to the Demand of a product that said product's value defaults to an effective zero.

There's IV Thiamine, a dirt cheap vitamin supplement, that's an integral part of the Unresponsive Patient protocol, and it's nationally non-existent until maybe March 2018. What this means is thousands of unconscious alcoholics everywhere will suffer permanent, irreversible & preventable brain damage. No big deal, I can hear some of you say, but this is only one of many nonsensical shortages that are adversely impacting the US Healthcare system as of now.

Then, there's 'All the Single Ladies' (Beyonce reference) that will remain forever single -- no matter how AMAZING & decent they appear to be -- because their independent careers, university degrees, immense educational debts, orthodontically perfect teeth & jazzercised behinds (along with unrealistic marital 'Shades of Grey' expectations) have effectively priced themselves out of the marriage market, making their marriageable value an effective zero, since the only thing that 80% of the available male population can now offer them in return for marriage is just common decency.

Which brings us back to 'common decency', a product expectation that our progressive & politically correct faction has attempted to make so common-place (through legislation) that it has also become effectively valueless, resulting in & because of our brave new cultural expectation that decency equals 'non-reciprocity' (in the sense that it no longer has to be EARNED), meaning that both the decent (males, in particular) have NOTHING of value to offer women in return for their reciprocal commitment AND the indecent (males & females) now believe they have a legal RIGHT to decent treatment even when they treat others very poorly.

Sociopolitically, this type of Market Failure exists everywhere, trans-globally, as Non-Westerners have taken 'Western Decency' for granted for so long that they now feel ENTITLED to run roughshod over EU & US interests (social; legal; economic; political) as it has become 'inconceivable' to them that the West will RECIPROCATE disdain for disdain, hate for hate & indecency for indecency.

To which end I quote Tricky Dick who said 'Just think how much you're going to be missing (when) you don't have Nixon to kick around anymore', so much so that the Purge (when it comes) will be amazingly repressive, shockingly brutal & eminently INCONCEIVABLE.


Best
____
Good job, Treebeard, keep lobbing truth bombs at the progressive bubble until their critical thinking faculties reassert themselves

David Brin said...

Oy, his assertions aren't loony-drooling hallucinatory strawmen, this time. And so, I am honored bound to actually read them... urgh....

David Brin said...

Huge. It indicates that we maybe be on our way, in a month or two, to bigger things. Now, demand it be fixed before the mid-terms!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/supreme-court-refuses-to-block-pa-ruling-invalidating-congressional-mapdecision-means-2018-elections-in-the-state-will-probably-be-held-in-districts-far-more-favorable-to-democrats/2018/02/05/2d758f90-0aa3-11e8-8890-372e2047c935_story.html

Berial said...

The thing is, I'm not sure that geographic segregation IS fading.

The issue I have with some of the suggestions I've seen (like your pairing idea) for ideas other than busing, is that I'm almost certain that they would have been overturned by lawsuits and we'd be back to 'separate AND unequal'. Hell, here where I live, the politicians are so far into the pocket of the charter school corporations/backers that they are now trying to set it up so that public funds go to private schools AND those private schools have NO state oversight! It would be funny if it weren't so sad (AND BLATANT).

TCB's idea about educational funding being conducted at the federal level is interesting, but it would end up being a HUGE agency, much larger than it is now, and a constant source of 'small government' harassment. It's attacked now by that same group at the state level.

I don't know what the best path is, and I might not even recognize it if it's already been tried, but I know it feels like we are on the wrong one right now. (My father and sister are/were both principals, so I hear their troubles at family meetups. )

Alfred Differ said...

@David | Okay. I've read your draft, but I'm unmoved. I think your 'evil detection' radar is pointing in the wrong direction. Sure. The relatives of someone who managed to get here can be made even luckier if their relative here pulls them over. That will result in some resentment from those who do not benefit that way. Their lack of luck does NOT make us evil in the act of permitting it.

If during a famine a mother has just enough food to keep one child alive but has two to feed, is it evil for her to choose which lives? This question is a gross exaggeration of our immigration situation, but it points to the underlying problem. The social atom is not the individual. The social atom is not the nuclear family, but we are getting closer. The social atom is the extended family with those outside the nuclear family loosely bound. When we make decisions regarding who gets to share in our meager resources in a dire situation, we pay attention to the inner bonds of our family. In better situations and ones involving possible opportunities for great improvements, we look outward toward the peripheral bonds. Cousins are potential business partners. A mother-in-law is a potential babysitter. An uncle is a potential mentor. The extended family is a big part of why we get married and suffer the related traditions in the first place.

We have special rules regarding immigrants who face starvation, political retribution, and many other dire circumstances, so I’m not trying to compare apples to oranges. What I’m pointing out is that people who manage to get here are in positions of opportunity and would, given a chance, lift their extended families. They should do EXACTLY that if they are moral human beings by our standards. Which relatives receive the benefit is no business of ours, though, as it depends on the strengths of the bonds the immigrant experiences. It is NOT our place to meddle with those bonds. [Yes. I know some game that generosity. See below.]

You assume we can open floodgates and let in all comers. We can’t. Europe tried that just a couple years ago and the resulting reactionary surge has destroyed European politics.

And here we have it. The ‘evil’ you see is coming from those who would prevent people from being human. It is those who would impose a cap who are meddling. Perhaps they think a flood of immigrants would impoverish us so much that they and their families would suffer, thus they are acting as humans should in defending their own? It is possible I suppose, but I think it more likely they don’t understand how incredibly wealthy they are and how much wealthier their masters would remain if those masters could instill fear within them as a means of control.

I’m not inclined to argue that people fearfully defending their families from a perceived risk are evil, but I might assign it to their masters who feed their fear.

I could propose an immigration program solution to go along with this, but that isn’t the point here. I’m more interested in the moral argument because you have such a strong reaction. However, if you feel people are gaming the rules (no doubt some do), consider making sponsors financially responsible for their relatives. The social atom could be treated as a general partnership instead of a limited liability corp. History would support this assignment of liability.

TCB said...

Nice thing about immigration debate is that it is such a two-edged sword that reasonable people actually can disagree about it. Immigration can be good for a country, or really bad for it (see China deliberately filling Tibet with ethnic Chinese until Tibetans are a minority there. Or see the Indian nations of the Americas. It's old history now, but if you're a 16th Century Aztec, immigration is the catastrophe of all time.)

Most controversies, alas, seem to be more like arguing with Holocaust/global warming/Russia treason deniers. There's a side any sensible sane person can see is correct, and then there's the other side, who should just flake off and blow away, but who do not.

Alfred Differ said...

@Twominds | Impatient? Maybe. I’d be more inclined to ask you how much you trust the social institutions of which you ARE a part. By its very definition, The Rule of Law is slow and the institutions that defend it are too. Its complement can be found in Arbitrary Rule which we occasionally adopt in dire situations like war where speed and large-scale coherence of behaviors is required. We aren’t at war. In fact, we are barely in any danger at all. [If it weren’t for the fools who argue we are, I’d say we aren’t in ANY danger we can’t handle.] So I’d focus on whether you trust institutions during a time when we are not at war to defend what you want defended. Should we go to a ‘war’ footing? Is what is happening now enough to justify that for you? If not, take a deep breath and let yourself become aware of your level of trust in YOUR institutions. Work with them. Work through them.

However, you are not in a position of ‘no influence.’ Consider what you are doing here. It might not seem like much, but our host is the central node of a considerably sized social network. Expressions made here are likely to be read by a number of people who are strongly inclined to help refine your work and possibly amplify it. Connections in a social network follow a power law curve and you are connected to one of the more connected ones.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Am I splitting hairs here

I can see it. It’s just that in not sure “attempted obstruction of justice” is illegal. If it is, put the evidence down and indict the fool with it. Attempted murder and robbery are on the books as illegal, right? Not all ‘attempts’ at a criminal action are the same.

Obviously, from his perspective, he gave the order to the wrong person or with the wrong person in the room. That is attempt failed makes him look weak and his administration a little stronger. I’m okay with that. As long as he is sitting in the WH, I’d rather believe his people had enough brain cells and courage to prevent his most egregious acts.

It seems to me he has deeply angered a lot of people and I am quite willing to let the consequences play out.

For the record, I DO understand that we aren’t arguing over whether our positions are valid. We are quibbling over whether an attempted crime is a crime in itself. I suspect it won’t matter in the long run, because I believe David has the gist of it. Money laundering will be the cross to which Two Scoops is nailed (while I add that) his supporters will try to define that cross as a good thing to save themselves from the moral implications of their error.

Alfred Differ said...

@TCB | Heh. I don’t know what book to suggest that would make it fair. My first impulse is McCloskey’s first of her recent three volume set, but it is about 700 pages and the one you put forward is about a third of that. Also, I don’t know if you are in need of convincing of the argument she presses in that book. It’s the one that tries to convince the reader that bourgeois traders are actually following an ethical system Thomas Aquinas would have recognized… mostly. It’s the one that addresses how The West has redefined each of the Virtues slightly and foreshadows the huge consequences that resulted.

I got started yesterday. I’ve taken the little personality survey that shows up in the first 20 pages or so and scored a 33. Not surprising really. What I found enlightening was re-reading the questions where I had a mild response and then pondering why. All the other questions were obviously designed for strong responses. For example, the one about the nudists got a middling number from me. I don’t want to spoil things for others who might read the book, though, so I’ll stop there with a teaser instead. 8)

Zepp Jamieson said...

The lower court ruling mandates that Pennsylvania reconfigure its districts in time for the midterms.

Market fell 1,175 today (over 1,600 at one point). Chaos in the bond markets, and a lot of margin trading is hitting margins. Too early to call it an economic crash, but you can sense it lurking in the wings.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred Differ wrote, "It’s just that in not sure “attempted obstruction of justice” is illegal."

It is, Intent is everything with this particular charge, and even a failed effort to obstruct justice is punishable as long as the intent to obstruct can be shown in court.

Mueller is extremely methodical, and is not going to sabotage what could be the greatest criminal case in American history with undue haste or recklessness. Which is exactly as it should be.

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp Jamieson | Okay. Let the consequences roll.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re - School Segregation

NOT - "Equal Funding" for all schools
Here (NZ) we give ADDITIONAL funding for schools in poor areas to try and balance the advantage that schools in rich areas have
Each school area is measured and put into a "Decile Rating" - and that determines the funding

The result is that while we still have too much spread of achievement inside the School the School to School spread is very low

Illegitimate Presidents
The Orange One was elected and this was certified by your Electoral College
So he is legitimate
In order to make him illegitimate the only mechanism you have is impeachment - so until he is impeached no matter what he does he is your legitimate President

Which means that you need to obey any legitimate orders - but can ignore illegal orders

L said...

Zepp Jamieson:

The lower court ruling mandates that Pennsylvania reconfigure its districts in time for the midterms.

Market fell 1,175 today (over 1,600 at one point).


Were you implying cause and effect? Or am I just inferring it? :)


Too early to call it an economic crash, but you can sense it lurking in the wings.


The best part (if you can call it that) was the Dow falling 666 points on Friday.

Maybe Republicans won't be able to run on the economy after all?

I saw a column in the Chicago Tribune today written by a fired Carrier employee who is bitter about being betrayed by Trump. My uncharitable thought was "There are none so blind as those who will not see." The Trump voters who claim he's doing exactly what they voted for him to do--those are just unpleasant facts of life. It's the ones who are now surprised and disappointed in their guy who I want to scream at for saddling us with him. Nothing Trump does is a surprise. "He told you what he was a thousand times, and you expected...?"


Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | obey any legitimate orders

Yah but... He works for us and not the other way around.

You have a point about the military, but I think we all agree on it.


LarryHart said...

That post above by "L" is me.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Yah but... He works for us and not the other way around.


So what happens when he doesn't (work for us)?

In either sense of those words. :)

Zepp Jamieson said...

No causal link intended. I was just veering from one subject to the next.

Republicans are the only people who didn't see that the market was in a bubble. I said it was overdue for a correction in the comments section of the Guardian last week and was told I was being unpatriotic. I asked the other poster what exactly I wasn't showing proper patriotism to, but he forgot to get back to me on that.

David Brin said...

“Okay. I've read your draft, but I'm unmoved. I think your 'evil detection' radar is pointing in the wrong direction. Sure. The relatives of someone who managed to get here can be made even luckier if their relative here pulls them over. That will result in some resentment from those who do not benefit that way. Their lack of luck does NOT make us evil in the act of permitting it.”

Yipe! I said the POLICY was evil, for preferentially robbing luck from the deserving and hard-working and piling it on the already-lucky. Where the heck do you impute that I called the beneficiaries of the policy “evil”?

There is one justification for the chain migration approach: that the newcomers have a pad to crash in while they learn the ropes. It is pragmatic, but does nothing to mitigate the injustice.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

I said it was overdue for a correction in the comments section of the Guardian last week and was told I was being unpatriotic.


Unpatriotic toward Britain?


No causal link intended. I was just veering from one subject to the next.


That sort of veering sometimes leads to unintended insights.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

There is one justification for the chain migration approach: that the newcomers have a pad to crash in while they learn the ropes. It is pragmatic, but does nothing to mitigate the injustice.


But that's part of the point. New arrivals with a pad to crash already aren't inconveniencing the general public. We could admit the other people that deserve preference and these relatives at no additional societal cost.

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH: "Unpatriotic toward Britain?"

I think that would require a drop in the FTSE. Which, of course, we're seeing.

The British may not have noticed, because Trump explained to them how much they hate National Health, and as a man, they stopped and said, "Oi. We do, don't we?" Tonight, London is in flames...

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin wrote:

But we have to set some kind of criteria and there will be some strong correlation between those who work hard to educate and learn and prepare and earn, and those who do well here, paying taxes and boosting the reputation of their nation of origin.

I assume that you're also in favour of eliminating the "investor's visa" (or whatever it's called in the US)? The program where you promise to invest and they give you a visa (or a whole bunch of points for the merit calculation)…

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/refugees-pay-more-income-tax-than-millionaire-investor-immigrants-1.2984982

In Canada, at least, refugees have proved to be a better bet.

Anonymous said...

the market was in a bubble. I said it was overdue for a correction in the comments section of the Guardian last week and was told I was being unpatriotic.

As an outsider, it seems to me that "unpatriotic" in an accusation that (mostly) right-wing Americans throw to shut down debate.

"Un-American" gets used the same way but is less common, possibly because Tail Gunner Joe is still in bad odour with many people.

LarryHart said...

Anonymous:

As an outsider, it seems to me that "unpatriotic" in an accusation that (mostly) right-wing Americans throw to shut down debate.


Republicans are allowed to complain about America not being right-wing enough, but Democrats and liberals are not allowed to complain about American without being accused of "hating" the country.

On 9/11, both Susan Sontag and Jerry Falwell essentially said that the terrorist attack happened as a result of some failing of our country. It was considered unpatriotic of Ms Sontag to suggest that our Middle East policies might have invited retribution, but it was not considered unpatriotic of Mr Falwell to suggest that our tolerance of gays and feminists might have invited God's displeasure.

Alfred Differ said...

@David | Yipe! I said the POLICY was evil…

Okay. That helps eliminate part of my misunderstanding. I tend not to use ‘evil’ for anything besides moral agents. Policy doesn’t count for me, but I’ll stretch for a moment and consider your way. 8)

Let’s look at the ‘robbing of luck’ angle then. That makes no sense to me as a moral issue unless I accept the moral validity of an immigration cap that limits families pulling themselves together again. No one is robbing anyone except the people at the start who impose the caps IF they are not judged to be in a similar situation as the mother with starving children. If instead they are reasonably well off and argue for immigration caps, I am inclined to judge them as greedy and (in your way) their policy as evil.

Okay. Greedy might be too strong a term for Protectionists. I can see the shades of gray here. As long as we are reasonably well off, though, I don’t see a new immigrant as robbing anyone unless WE support a policy that ensures his/her desire to pull a family together competes with the interests of other immigrants who want to come over here too.

I don’t think it is the family reunion policy that should draw our ire.
I think it is the protectionist one that should.

They won’t all come flooding over here even with a crash pad. Many will and that will scare the people here who are already scared, so there will be political consequences. They will vote like Protectionists do.

Economists know better. One of the few things the various camps tend to agree upon is that free trade helps everyone on average. Since labor is one of the things traded, it counts no matter how often we try to exclude it. While I don’t think for a moment my preferred non-protectionist policy will be enacted, it is at the root of why I’m a libertarian. We are screwing ourselves by not opening ourselves to free-er movement of labor. Our xenophobia is killing some people and causing unnecessary suffering for many others. We are human, though, so this requires that we nibble away at the cause.

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp | a lot of margin trading is hitting margins

Heh. Some people like to skinny dip in the ocean forgetting the tide can go out quickly at times.

I'll be awake at 0600 getting my trades ready to exploit them. Bwa-ha-ha!

David Brin said...

The Europeans reached their limit of ability to accept immigrants and refugees at a much, much lower threshhold than Americans' They have a crappy record, except in Scandinavia, of helping those communities to melt in. We're very good at it.

That said, if we doubled the ingress rate, it would be counter productive, producing social strife and economic hardship that net-reduced our generosity and ability to help the world.

Where to draw that line is arguable. But the fact that we already absorb half the world's immigrants... and social strife over it is already warping our politics... I think it is fair to put burden of proof on liberals and leftists who shout "throw open the gates!"

There's a generous middle ground. I think we found it. The lefty and righty positions are wrong. But we can absorb the present rate of influx a bit better if we alter some policies.

locumranch said...


There's a generous middle ground, and then there's the libertarian perspective.

People like Berial lack the intellectual capacity to tell the difference between the legal FICTION of treating individuals AS IF they were equal in order to facilitate jurisprudence & the assumption of actual honest-to-goodness equality which repudiates the very concept of individual merit, creativity, excellence & achievement, predisposing western culture to a most malignant form of totalitarianism that unilaterally determines 'deservingness', favours the lowest common denominator, punishes the most capable & transforms those who can (as opposed to those who can't) into a permanent servant class.

Gonna be a twister to blow everything down
That ain't got the faith to stand its ground
Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away the dreams that break your heart
Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted


Best

Alfred Differ said...

The proof comes from the economists both ancient and modern. If you want a libertarian view, you can see it in Don Boudreaux’s blog on many different posts, but this one points to absorbing immigrants and should do the job. One can also see in Piketty’s big book another angle that addresses the fact that population growth undermines the value of old money in an economy in exchange for improving the welfare of the people nearer the bottom of the income scale. Piketty’s argument covers many pages in the first section of the book, so I won’t link it here.

I won’t advocate for throwing open the gates. Boudreaux would, but I’ll back away from his extreme and point out that turning one gate into two would likely be enough. Let immigrants pull their families over through one of them and use the other gate for merit admissions. DON’T sum them into a cap. Let the family reunion one be capped at 1% of the US population per year and you’ll probably never hit it, but I’d rather there was no cap on it using instead an assignment of liability to family sponsors to limit that gate.

I agree that the lefty and righty policies are wrong, but I won’t call them evil simply because that is a moral judgment I reserve for people. I think it is better to call them ‘dumb’. If I have to choose between them, I will obviously lean left, but that choice isn’t necessary here.

As for social strife, our absorption of immigrants has always altered our politics. I think this is the fundamental difference between us as a member of The West and all our European allies. It is also what made Pax Americana possible and relatively humane. When a significant segment of your population prefers you not go to war with their relatives, it alters what The Empire does. It isn’t perfect, but it matters and I’d like more of it.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | which repudiates the very concept of individual merit

Oops. You still haven't read that essay by Hayek. Detention for you. 8)

Zepp Jamieson said...

"'Un-American' gets used the same way but is less common, possibly because Tail Gunner Joe is still in bad odour with many people."

Right wingers are working hard to try to resurrect the reputation of McCarthy and McCarthyism, arguing that he was the innocent victim of a librul press dominated by communists. Some of the nastier ones blame 'dem joos'.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred: Fun times or Fundy times? (The Maine/Nova Scotia one, not the religious affliction).

Lloyd Flack said...

A criticism of of family reunion is do you want to bring in extended families? America is a country where nuclear families are predominant. Family structure affects social values. One can make a case against the extended family for excessive control over its members.

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. I was thinking more like 'tsunami.' Whoosh then Crash!

Ah well. My 401K and IRA's are bleeding red, but I pulled money a couple weeks ago to pay down card balances and all that. I can wait and put my cash reserves in after the hilarity calms a bit.

Alfred Differ said...

Yes. I want to bring in extended families. I've seen (anecdotal of course) what happens to them under pressure to assimilate. The peripheral bonds get a touch weaker and we get fission in the next generation.

Extended families are the norm elsewhere and we should make use of them AS the social safety net where we would prefer not to tax ourselves to provide for it. Fresh immigrants who do not come in the merit gate should be prepared to rely on family more than those of us who have been here longer. We can step in for some limited situations, but we should use the very mechanism humans evolved for this. It is dumb not to do it.

This here libertarian is WILLING to be taxed if it helps convince some of you to free up our trade in labor. I'll help PAY for it!

Duncan Cairncross said...

The Europeans reached their limit of ability to accept immigrants and refugees at a much, much lower threshhold than Americans

Really?

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

Country - Percentage Born Abroad -
USA --- -- - 14.3%
Germany - -- 14.9%
Spain - - -- 14%
UK -- -- --- 13.2%
Switzerland - 28%
Australia - - 27.7%
Canada - - - 21.9%
NZ - - - - - 25%
France - -- - 11.1%

I just don't see the USA as an outlier with higher immigrant population
Bit less than Germany - Bit more than Spain or the UK
A LOT less than Canada, NZ or Australia - or Switzerland!! -That one surprised me!

Sweden -- -- 14.3%
Norway -- --13.8%

Scandinavian countries much the same as the rest of Europe

The USA used to be better at this than Europe used to be - I'm not sure that is true anymore

sociotard said...

I thought the perk of "chain migration" was that it ensures immigrants have a support structure when they get here.

David Brin said...

Alas, locum’s short rant is enough of a cogent assertion that it merits refutation, and hence my time.

Paraphrasing, he (surprisingly!) accepts “the legal FICTION of treating individuals AS IF they were equal in order to facilitate jurisprudence…” But calls insane any claim of ACTUAL equality. And… choke… cough… sputter… of course he is… right. (taste of bile in my mouth.)

The very liberal Kurt Vonnegut wrote the greatest libertarian work of all, the short story “Harrison Bergeron” which ALL should read! It extrapolates if the worst “leveller” leftists ever had their way. Which locum sees on the immediate horizon. Except…

…except that it never happened. Ever. The closest was the Maoist Red Guards and it was horrid! Though in fact, once you get a levelling storm, something funny happens. As in Orwell’s Animal Farm, the situation rapidly zooms toward the stable attractor state of feudalism (though with socialist religious cant.)

Despite Rand’s ANTHEM (read em all!) Levelling is not stable. Feudalism is. And the “fiction” pushed by feudalists is INHERENT inequality by type and position and race and gender. And THAT evil system has happened, all right, over and over a zillion times. 99.999% of the time.

My answer is that the “fiction” of equality of potential and dignity and rights is not just good jurisprudence. It is pragmatically superior, ending horrid wastes of talent, resulting in our spectacular success. It is a fiction that helps us to overcome filthy, filthy, stupid, stupid, horrible habits. The trick is no not let it get in the way of genuine competitive discovery of talent. And THAT has been achieved by liberalism. Unlike leftism, liberalism likes competition.

While locum’s cult hates it.

===

Duncan — cherrypicking!

Many “Born abroads” in Europe are from neighboring European nations.

locumranch said...



Just as Libertarian Alfred is free to support chain migration & pay taxes to support what he prefers, and Libertarian David is free to maintain that the "fiction of equality" is "pragmatically superior" to icky reality, still other Libertarians are free to speak their mind, associate as they choose, build walls to separate themselves from others & bear arms to support their very own idiosyncratic preferences, which is part of the reason that there will never be a centrally cohesive Libertarian Party platform, because Libertarians herd like cats while most Establishmentarians (right or left) run in pack like dogs.

It sounds ruff but anything & everything is permitted if Dog does not exist.


Best

Duncan Cairncross said...

Many “Born abroads” in Europe are from neighboring European nations.

Could I not say exactly the same for the USA?

Are the majority of the "born abroads" not from your southern neighbour?

If you mean from countries that are a lot less well off and have a different culture - then I would still say that Europe has similar levels

Southern Europe was at Mexican levels of poorness only three decades ago - and a lot of the more recent immigrants are from countries that are not only poorer but have a different religion!

If you look at rate of immigration - rather than "born abroad" you get a similar picture - the USA is not an outlier

The USA does take in more people than anywhere else - but compared to all of the other developed nations the USA is Huge

This is one of the areas where the USA used to lead the world - but the USA has gone backwards a bit when the rest of us have gone forwards

David Brin said...

Bah Duncan. "Foreign" in France includes Danes and Germans. What would US stats be like if "foreign born" included New Yorkers in California? The worst cherry picking I have seen in weeks and I include the "memo".

Duncan Cairncross said...

Foreign is foreign - different language - different culture

Danes and Germans in France are foreign - they speak a different language, eat different things have different cultures -

New Yorkers have the same language and most of the same culture as Californians - they are NOT Foreign

How else would you distinguish?

Even if you were talking "race" there is at least as much difference racially between Spaniards and Germans as between Mexicans and the USA

There is no shared "Europeanism" that makes them all the same - any more than there is a shared "Americanism" that makes all North Americans the same (USA, Canada, Mexico)

Compare Canadians and "Americans" - same language - same "race" - but definitely "Foreign" to each other

In another hundred years then maybe the EU will be like the USA - the same language and culture and at that time talking of Germans in France will be like New Yorkers in California - but not yet

Anonymous said...

“Chain Migration”
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/26/us/politics/the-facts-behind-the-weaponized-phrase-chain-migration.html

KnoiseOfKnowing

Twominds said...

@Duncan Cairncross:

Switzerland - 28%

Switzerland has a different immigration structure from most of the rest of us. They have relatively few refugees and more labor migrants on a temporary basis. When they have reached the end of their contract or lose their job they have to go again. A bit similar to Saudi Arabia, but I expect much less abusive. What I do know is that labor immigrants in Switzerland can't really expect to integrate into Swiss society, they're kept at arms length.

Laurence said...

I'd say the 19th century "began" in 1789, not 1814. By the same token, the 21st century "started" in 1989. The 200 year period between could be described as the era of the "national empire". In previous eras, empires were effectively the property of one family (the Ottomans and Incas were honest enough to admit this) nationalism emerged out of the French revolution to challenge this dominance. In place of the old Feudal empires, new national empires - which saw smaller, weaker nations become the collective property of larger ones - sprang up. First Napoleon built a French empire in Europe, the the colonial empires carve up around two thirds of the world between them, finally toppling the last three traditional empires - Imperial China, Ottoman Turkey, Tsarist Russia and Austro-Hungary at the start of the twentieth century. Decolonization saw the beginning of the end for the national empire, with the disintegration of the Soviet Union leaving China the last remaining example of this model. In its place has emerged a paradox, nationalism is stronger than ever, but trans-national bodies are assuming greater and greater power, leaving the nation-state increasingly redundant.

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

"My answer is that the “fiction” of equality of potential and dignity and rights is not just good jurisprudence. It is pragmatically superior, ending horrid wastes of talent, resulting in our spectacular success. It is a fiction that helps us to overcome filthy, filthy, stupid, stupid, horrible habits. The trick is no not let it get in the way of genuine competitive discovery of talent..."

If we are talking about talent and equality, it would help to cut down to the chief mistake made by most people, but one that acts as a sort of catechism for the ignorant Right. That article I mentioned earlier makes the point that the right wing tends to rely on what it sees as "common sense" as a guide, rather than doing the hard work of finding out what the truth really is - the purview of science. And of course Einstein's definition of common sense applies here perfectly. The key mistake is genetic determinism. The right wing shares the "common sense" assumption that people are born with certain talents and potentials, and it is the genetic differences between people that makes equality impossible. But both genetics and neuroscience has proven that to be at least 80% incorrect (and anyone reading one of my favorites of yours who does not understand this would find it to be overly deterministic, I'm afraid). Or to quote some of the experts:

The regulation of genes is often more interesting than the genes themselves, and it's the environment that regulates genes.
Robert M. Sapolsky

Almost always, genes are about potentials and vulnerabilities rather than about determinism.
Robert M. Sapolsky

While weight loss is important, what's more important is the quality of food you put in your body - food is information that quickly changes your metabolism and genes.
- Mark Hyman

That human behavior is more influenced by things outside of us than inside. The 'situation' is the external environment. The inner environment is genes, moral history, religious training.
- Philip Zimbardo

The more that I looked at DNA, the more I realized it was nature and nurture. It's how genes and your environment work together to produce the person you are.
- Sam Kean

A long healthy life is no accident. It begins with good genes, but it also depends on good habits.
- Dan Buettner

A person's health isn't generally a reflection of genes, but how their environment is influencing them. Genes are the direct cause of less than 1pc of diseases: 99pc is how we respond to the world.
- Bruce Lipton √

The implication is that this basic idea we have that we are controlled by our genes is false. It's an idea that turns us into victims. I'm saying we are the creators of our situation. The genes are merely the blueprints. We are the contractors, and we can adjust those blueprints. And we can even rewrite them.
- Bruce Lipton √

Many people assume the diseases that kill us are pre-programmed into our genes. High blood pressure by 55, heart attacks at 60, maybe cancer at 70, and so on... But for most of the leading causes of death, our genes usually account for only 10-20 per cent of risk.
- Michael Greger

Natural selection is not gene centrist and nor is biology all about genes; our comprehending minds are a result of our fast evolving culture.
- Daniel Dennett

Those who stringently believe in the inequality of all miss the actual fact that even our DNA is more flexible than their attitudes, and the majority of those differences are created by the social environments we have created. The much lower lifespans of African Americans has little to do with the genes they are born with and a whole lot to do with the poverty and stress they are raised in.

TheMadLibrarian said...

SpaceX launch -- an hour to go. Fingers crossed!

Zepp Jamieson said...

Update on that Falcon big rocket: "The first test flight of Falcon Heavy is now targeted for Tuesday, Feb. 6th at 3:05 PM ET from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Teams are watching upper level wind shear and will continue to update as information becomes available."

Zepp Jamieson said...

3:45 ET now. wind sheer aloft.

John Sears said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Sears said...

Elon Musk tweet @ 1:52 PM ET. "Launch auto-sequence initiated (aka the holy mouse-click) for 3:45 liftoff"

A 40 minute change seems rather curious to me. Does it show higher confidence when the wind shear will lessen to safe levels? I understand that, if they cannot launch by 4:00 PM, the next launch window is Wednesday, also between 1:30 and 4:00 p.m

occam's comic said...

I found it interesting that Dave said this:
". But the fact that we already absorb half the world's immigrants... and social strife over it is already warping our politics... I think it is fair to put burden of proof on liberals and leftists who shout "throw open the gates!""

But free movement of labor is one of the three pillars of free trade theory, free movement of goods and free movement of capital being the other two. But of course the folks who advocate for "free trade" they only really want the free movement of goods and capital not labor. Because in that situation the gains from "free trade" go to the owners of capital.

And hey wow, when we look at how globalization has occurred that is exactly what happened.

Zepp Jamieson said...

T-minus 10. If you want to watch this at spacex.com, now is the time to log on.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Oh, man, that was a thing of beauty. Test flight went flawlessly.

John Sears said...

The video of the two boosters landing in unison back at the Cape gave me chills. The future is coming so fast.

Thank you, Elon Musk.

Alfred Differ said...

Yah. Impressive. 8)

That cheering was the sound of the boundary between near and far frontier moving outward.

Darrell E said...

Brought a tear to my eye.

Itching to hear what the status of the 3rd core landing attempt is. I don't want to be pessimistic but usually when it takes this long for word to be released it isn't good news. Wouldn't matter at all though. Still a very impressive first flight.

RFYork said...

I think that the American Century ended with the war in Vietnam. Our military failures since then have been a direct result of absurd imperialist adventures which have consistently reflected ignorance of history, culture and social mores. These military failures have reflected the fundamental failure of our financial, economic and political infrastructures.

The toxicity of contemporary capitalism which started with Goldwater and has reached the beginning of its end stage with the 2016 election has been a major cause of financial and cultural dissolution.

Capitalism is the most successful form of economics in history. It has contributed to the overall prosperity of humanity. The problem is that, with the financialization of securities markets and the destruction of rational regulation, modern American style capitalism has become one of the most destructive forces in human history.

There is a vicious cycle going on here. Having entered into this end stage of capitalism, no one has come up with a viable alternative for the future. Thus, more people are being damaged, and they have fewer paths for correction and recourse. I had hoped the Great Recession might awaken a majority to the problems with our economy, and for a while they did. But, the anti-Obama backlash in 2010, put paid to that hope.

Fighting off despair has been very difficult.

TCB said...

I just wanna know if the keys are still in Elon's car. Finders keepers!

Alfred Differ said...

(The American Century is this one that just started according to Stratfor. Friedman argued a few years ago that only we have the power to stop ourselves.)


After watching the Falcon Heavy test flight, I think I'll be able to watch the politicians on the news tonight and dismiss their drama from my mind without any stress. Pfft! Look at what we can do now!


My napkin took the stress for me. It's all wadded up and damp from a salt water purge. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

I think someone should post to a challenge to one of the other companies to go get it.

Poor little thing. Won't be that pretty color of red for long. 8)

In the mean time, I've got my snap of it with the Earth in the background as my wallpaper.

TCB said...

Having entered into this end stage of capitalism, no one has come up with a viable alternative for the future.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Ah, no big deal. It's only the seventh electric vehicle launched into space...
Seriously, I'm still thrilled. I felt that way with the Mercury launches, too.

David Brin said...

Watch both videos - you are a member of a civilization that does stuff like this! Seriously watch the launch. Then the simultaneous double-landing's even better. But the view of Elon's roadster in space... yeow! Seriously, this guy's our hero.*

https://www.space.com/39607-spacex-falcon-heavy-first-test-flight-launch.html

*And his artist sense of drama doesn't hurt!

===

AFYork, Vietnam did slam the brakes on America's 2nd derivative (acceleration) of world influence. That didn't end it though. Even Trump will have a hard time achieving that. Though that's the goal.

But you badly, badly need to read Pinker & Diamandis books. Seriously man. Why do you think the oligarchs are pushing so hard right now? Because they know the enlightenment is on the verge of permanent success.

Darrell E said...

Elon Musk has confirmed that the center core failed to land. Only 1 of the 3 engines used for landing restarted and the single engine was not enough to slow it to a landing.

Doesn't dampen my enthusiasm a bit though.

The live feed from the roadster with the Earth in the background is spectacular. It also reminds me of a certain scene from the movie Heavy Metal. Only this is much better. It's real and it's in HD.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Alfred Differ said...

ah well. If the center core had landed, we would probably have to defend against idiots saying this was all faked. 8)

While it is fun getting Starman with the Earth in the background, I'm loving watching Earth reflections off the paint and windshield.

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