Saturday, May 05, 2018

The Fact Act - Restoring Science Integrity


- I'm asked to get specific. 

"All right, Brin, you're convincing that there's an all-out war against facts and all fact-using professions, from science, journalism and teaching to the FBI and Officer Corps. But what can we do about it?"

I've spoken on this at Google and Facebook, at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and many other places where there's rising concern over what seems to be a concerted campaign not only against those professions -- (see Shawn Otto's The War on Science and Tom Nichols's book The Death of Expertise) -- but against even the notion that there's such a thing as Objective Reality! That anything is testable or provable.

Mind you, this stab at the heart of enlightenment civilization won't be blunted by corporate or government action, alone. One-by-one, we must sway our fellow citizens to forego the drug high of incantations and assertions, returning instead to the adult art of pragmatic negotiation.

But law and politics can play a role!  And so -- suppose we get a Congress that's willing to push back against idiocracy. What item should be number one on its 'contract' or to-do list? How about ending the War on Facts?

I wrote the following at the request of the Internet Caucus of the recent convention in San Diego, of the California Democratic Party. It is posted in full on my website here.

== Ending the tyranny of lies and liars... without a "Ministry of Truth" ==

The "Fact Act" will help restore access to useful and confirmable information for public officials, politicians and citizens. Rather than establishing some suspect "Ministry of Truth,"1 this legislation will encourage systems that use diversity, competition and grownup adversarial methods, helping leaders and the public to parse lies and distractions from assertions that are supported by strong evidence.2
Under the Fact Act, Congress will:
ONE: Restore the nonpartisan Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), shut down in the Gingrich era.3 Protect the Congressional Budget Office and Government Accountability Office. Take measures to ensure that scientific processes in government agencies will be both subject to critical accountability and liberated from partisan political pressures.
TWO: Restore full funding and staffing to the executive Office of Science and Technology Policy (OTSP). This bill further requires that the President must fill, by law, the position of White House Science Adviser from a diverse and bipartisan slate of qualified candidates offered by the Academy of Science, and the Academy will choose one, if the president does not. The Science Adviser shall have uninterrupted access to the President for at least two one-hour sessions per month.4
THREE: Each member of Congress shall be summoned to choose, from his or her home district, two advisers: one a scientist and one a statistician, funded to counsel the member on matters of verifiable fact, and to take press or public questions referred to them by the member. They will not opine on political issues, only upon the degree to which assertions are supported by factual evidence.


Likely effects? (a) Congress-members will no longer be able to shrug off fact/scientific questions with "I’m not a scientist." (b) Any member's refusal to appoint these advisers will be an implicit insult to the member's home district, implying she or he could find no one qualified.


FOUR: These congressional advisers — scientists and statisticians — shall gather a shadow "Fact Congress" (FC) twice a year to supervise the restored OTA and OSTP and ensure nonpartisan professionalism. Eclectic diversity and potent minority input will ensure there is no "Ministry of Truth."
Without usurping Congressional authority over policy and confirmations, the FC will question top scientific appointees regarding grasp of important concepts in their field, e.g., ability to clearly describe factual disputes and forecast potential policy outcomes and tradeoffs, including levels of uncertainty.
If more than one quarter of Senators or Representatives submit a question to the Fact Congress, the FC will respond with advice according to best available models. Congress-members may bring their FC advisers to House or Senate committee hearings and may charge them to form ad-hoc shadow committees, to assist with explications of fact.

FIVE: The Fact Act must restore the media Rebuttal Rule, prying open "echo chamber" propaganda mills. Any channel or station using airwaves or accepting advertising will be required to offer five minutes per day during prime time and ten minutes at other times to reputable adversaries chosen by Competitive Argument Societies (CAS) that are approved by one quarter of the members of the Fact Congress.5
Example: If the 25% most-conservative members of the FC approve the 'Herbert Hoover Competitive Argument Society,' then HHCAS may send a rebuttal spokesmen to MSNBC, tackling Rachel Maddow. A CAS chosen by the most liberal 1/4 of the Fact Congress will get rebuttal time on Fox.
Rebuttals shall feature under-banners offering links for more details... plus links to refutation of the rebuttal, or else to fact-debates offered by pairs of competing CAS.6
Any channel or station not using the airwaves or accepting advertising that nevertheless engages in avid political polemic, with the intent to influence electoral outcomes, will be required to offer — at intervals &md a small link, in one corner, that the viewer can use (or not) to access counter-arguments, or else to track the sources of both the channel’s assertions and funding.
SIX: Under auspices of the Fact Congress, Competitive Argument Societies (CAS) and other entities will be offered infrastructure and encouragement to engage in public debates over policy or else disputations over fact. Fact disputations will argue matters of verifiable or falsifiable evidence, aiming to narrow — but never eliminate — uncertainties and to target specific questions meriting further study. Amateur or non-credentialed participation will be encouraged.
SEVEN: Whistleblower protections will be upgraded to encourage early/discreet problem solving within institutions, and later (if necessary) protection of whistleblowers who feel they are unfairly repressed by their own institution. By offering a scaled sequence of safe and secure steps, the Fact Act will encourage first self-reform, but ultimately the adversarial discovery of cleansing truth.
EIGHT: To encourage the establishment of a wide variety of competing, credible fact-checking services, Congress will appoint a commission of sages from all parties, starting with the former presidents and retirees from the Supreme Court and top federal appeals courts, along with other eminent Americans with unimpeachable reputations. Among the duties of this panel will be to issue findings when a fact-checking service is accused of "partisanship."
NINE: Under the 13th and 14th Amendments, this act requires that states mandating Voter ID requirements must offer substantial and effective compliance assistance, helping affected citizens to acquire their entitled legal ID and register to vote. Any state that fails to provide such assistance, substantially reducing the fraction of eligible citizens turned away at the polls, shall be assumed in violation of equal protection and engaged in illegal voter suppression.


Corporations demand compliance assistance when government imposes new regulations. So, why can’t poor folks get help to comply with voter ID laws? If a state does this, then its demand for Voter ID might be sincere. Alas, not one red state allocates a cent to help poor citizens, elderly, the young, or divorced women comply with onerous new restrictions on franchisement. Most have moved to close DMV offices in counties where many Democrats live! (Why do no Democrats make this point? Opposing voter ID leaves Democrats open to accusations of excusing cheaters, but denouncing the GOP's corporate-citizen "compliance assistance hypocrisy" is a clear win.)


TEN: Congressional committees and procedures will be reformed so that members will be free to negotiate as individuals, with less power vested in the majority leaders to control legislation. Each member — whether in the majority or minority — will have authority to issue one subpoena per year, compelling adversarial testimony before a congressional committee of his or her choosing for as long as five hours, so that the minority will always be able to question the party in power. These member subpoenas will have priority over those issued by committee chairs.
ELEVEN: The seventy-three Inspectors General of federal departments and agencies shall be brought under an independent office of the Inspector General of the United States (IGUS), whose appointment must be ratified by the council of sages (see SEVEN) as well as the Senate. IGUS officers shall be commissioned, uniformed, trained and held to quasi-military standards of discretion, honesty and meticulous devotion to law.
TWELVE: This act directs the administration to negotiate treaties extending transparency, accountability and truth worldwide.



endnotes

1. The "Ministry of Truth" Orwellian accusation will surely be trotted-out , it must be prepared-for.
2. This principle underlies our competitive, fact-using arenas: markets, democracy, science and justice courts. We know how to do this.
3. Even Republican appointees on OTA kept demurring from GOP dogma, saying "That's just not true," so it was eliminated.
4. Donald Trump is the first President since Truman not to fill this post. Evidently, even far-right candidates like David Gelernter made the mistake of saying to him: "I'll tell you, when something is clearly false." That was, apparently, unacceptable.
5. This "one quarter" provision ensures there can be no accusation of majority bullying or "voting on facts."
6. Again, emphasizing the competitive nature of these measures will stymie accusations of a "Ministry of Truth" or "free speech repression."

194 comments:

donzelion said...

Sheesh, I'd settle for having a science office restored so someone can point out that the 'theory of evolution' is as fundamental as the theory of gravity, and about as reliable. That would tweak the majority of the Republicans in Congress on record as deniers.

That's sort of my litmus test. Until we have a majority that is willing to respect science, where facts are scrupulously tested, we will never have much hope for other facts on less solid ground.

donzelion said...

That's also my complaint about the rebuttal rule: crackpot deniers shouldn't get a platform.

Paul451 said...

It's not the crackpot deniers who lack a platform.

Anonymous said...

As for the issue of the war on science, the most important point is the fact that the evil oligarchs have enough resources to saturate with lies all the majority of the mass media, be it the classical media or the means of information of the social sites of the internet. Consequently, those of us who try to transmit the truth to the 7,620,090,500 inhabitants of the world, we are at a clear disadvantage that it must be balanced in some way if we are to succeed in changing the situation.
But. How to overcome the ability to generate publicity that the evil oligarchs possess?

Winter7

reformed tourist said...

So David, you know where I am on this.

...singing the song of enlightenment: Empiricism Works! Objective Reality Is!

reformed tourist said...

Also, support from others in the Scientific/Futurist community ---

http://www.jalahq.com/blog/

David Brin said...

"we are at a clear disadvantage that it must be balanced in some way"

That is why I emphasize competitive processes, rather than any "ministry of Truth." And why I believe ultimately we should corner the reality haters with... wagers.

Sane modernists who are exposed to crackpot stuff seldom convert. Crackpottery followers who get strong doses of reality sometimes snap out of it.

tcguru said...

Having been involved in the gestation of the Office of Technology Assessment and the Office of Technology Policy in my rocket scientist period I heartily endorse their rebirth and repopulation. Also we need to establish the means suggested by David for keeping them honest. It is now time for us to keep nagging our Congress people to get off the dime and do something really constructive.

locumranch said...


With the "Fact Act", David proposes nothing less than the total destruction of US Democracy, the establishment of an above-the-law elite Aristocracy of Fact-Users & the virtual elimination of the First Amendment Right to Free Speech.

ONE: He proposes the creation of a nonpartisan Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA), one unresponsive to a politically-elected representative government which he describes as "liberated from partisan political pressures".

TWO: It places the US President under the direct authority of the "executive Office of Science and Technology Policy (OTSP)" and "requires that the President must fill, by law, the position of White House Science Adviser (who shall have) uninterrupted access to the President".

THREE: It places scientific fact-using advisors in control of each & every duly-elected member of Congress.

FOUR: It creates a shadow "Fact Congress" (to) ensure nonpartisan professionalism, (empowered to) form ad-hoc shadow committees.

FIVE: It will empower the Shadow Fact Congress to create a CAS arm to rebut, control, police & silence the MSM if it judges their claims 'non-factual'.

SIX: The CAS will also be empowered to "control public debates over policy", regulate "disputations over fact" and be the sole arbiter about what constitutes fact & truth.

SEVEN: It will silence whistleblowers by encouraging "early/discreet problem solving within institutions".

EIGHT: It will create & authorise an "unimpeachable" commission of sages from all parties for fact-checking purposes.

NINE: It places the Shadow Government in charge of any & all Voter ID laws

TEN: It will strip members of Congress of much of their representational authority "with less power vested in the majority leaders to control legislation".

ELEVEN: It will create a new paramilitary branch of seventy-three Inspector Generals "whose appointment must be ratified by the council of sages (see SEVEN) as well as the Senate.

This is treason most foul, replete with the planned overthrow of US Democracy, one that places the Official US government under the direction of an unelected shadow Fact Congress, a Council of Sages cabal, and an IGUS Schutzstaffel paramilitary unit of fact-using enforcers with the authority to control voter participation, censor the media & be the sole arbiter of what 'truth is', leaving nothing left to say but 'Seig Heil'.

Who the Nazi now??



Best

donzelion said...

Paul451: "It's not the crackpot deniers who lack a platform."

Indeed, but the problem is, once you require 'fair and balanced' coverage, it tends to become even more unfair and less balanced. A generalized rebuttal rule might make sense in a world in which there are only two-sides to every tale. The standard rules of journalism require asking 'the other side' when someone lobs a complaint about them - but that's simple professionalism, rather than 'rebuttal' rights.

donzelion said...

Locum: "With the "Fact Act", David proposes nothing less than the total destruction of US Democracy"

Let's see, the Office of Technology Assessment existed from 1972 to 1995; so the only presidency that lasted two full terms during its duration was that of Ronald Reagan. I did not think he was a Nazi, but if Locum thinks so...well, most conservatives would at least raise an eyebrow at that. Ditto for the Office of Science & Tech Policy (though that had both Reagan, Clinton, and Bush Jr serving two full terms...and I'm pretty sure at least 2 of them were not Nazis).

That said, I'm leery of Congressional reps getting the freedom to "choose a scientist from their home district." Imagine all the new creationism institutes that would emerge.

I propose, instead a different device - the "Necessary Consequences Rule": "No federal dollars may be spent on any Congressional representative, for purposes of health or welfare, if that representative disbelieves the scientific principles from which that treatment was developed." In effect, this means that instead of any real doctors, the evolution deniers MUST engage witch doctors, shamans, and/or leeches.

reformed tourist said...

Locum Locum Locum...(sigh)

I do not think that word, democracy, means what you think it means...(sigh).

Nor do I think that when it comes to dealing with a rigorous treatment of phenomena, natural or man-made, in a way intended to maintain consistency and accuracy, that there is anything that remotely threatens either the republic or any individual who deals with reality as it is - as opposed to how they wish it to be.

I might add that is in stark contrast to those who traffic in "alternative facts."

I seldom feed trolls as they tend to follow you home, but in my visits here, I've noted the occasional mote of interest and intellect in your posts. Pray continue to make them more common as opposed to, well, the above.

reformed tourist said...

Locum --

Just one more thing: you might look up the work kakistocracy.

Those Greeks, huh! Not so good at economics these days, but boy howdy, they got a word for everything.

donzelion said...

reformed tourist: I find Locum's persona here more clown than troll. Particularly since Trump won: I, along with our host and many others here, called that one wrong. He is frequently the target of jibes here, and keeps coming back for more, and gives like he gets. But whereas a troll loves nothing whatsoever (least of all himself - especially not himself), Locum does love SciFi and NASA, and in my book, those traits allow overlooking much.

That said, while his clownish antics can be amusing, there are many others with interesting observations that can actually be built upon who, seeing their posts or musings, I'd care to consider further - critique, concur, or offer secondary insights where I may, or just questions. When I've nothing to offer, I just nod.

Here, Dr. Brin's FACT Act definitely suffers for want of a "Necessary Consequences" provision. Were I a Congressman and my distinguished colleague proposed such an act, I'd condition my support upon his adding such a term. That said, I'd be willing to entertain some amendments to my proposal - e.g., the rule against admission of evolution denying representatives would be lifted provided they signed a written declaration, to wit, "Every time I denied evolution, I was actually just saying I think my constituents are ignorant fools who will vote for any idiot who claims to be as ignorant as they are. I don't actually believe that and would like the benefits of modern medicine, even if they come from biological sciences I've publicly expressed disdain for."

David Brin said...

Beyond the fact that locum's interpretation of my widely diverse and competitive and open proposals as coercively homgenizing is a knowing and deliberate outright opposite-lie... (his cult has a strange belief that such incantations magically make opposites true!)...

...there's the fact that he knows these twelve provisions will be deadly to his cult. Their war upon all fact-using professions (name an exception) is based on a genuine revulsion. A certain knowledge that facts don't like them.

As for the Congressmen being summoned to name advisors from their home districts, that is a cleverness I'm especially proud of. If they refuse, they can be taunted that it insults their home district, implying it contains no one qualified. But when they DO name a scientist and a statistician from the hometown college, and they start saying: "I am conservative, but these particular Fox assertions are false," it won't be Harvard elites saying it. They'll be smart people from hometown USA. And when they are attacked by Tea Party or Fox affiliate trolls, neighbors will lift their heads and say: "I took a class from him, and he's okay."

Anonymous said...

I did not realize that the text I put in the translator had one more word. I guess the AI ​​translator probably translated the text very badly.
I suppose I should correct that part of the text:

"Consequently, those of us who try to transmit the truth to the 7,620,090,500 inhabitants of the world, we are at a clear disadvantage that must be balanced in some way if we want to succeed in changing the situation" ...

Well it happens that it occurred to me that, if there are different ways of approaching the problem, then, if we can all contribute new ideas that could be useful to all. For example:
I suppose that some Democratic millionaires could create several television networks that create their own contents. They could also create new print newspapers and several digital newspapers. They could also create many radio stations. They could also create new universities that instill in students the love of honesty; the truth and justice.
¿Am I exaggerating a bit on the subject? ¿Maybe I'm a little bit pessimistic? My apologies.

Winter7

Anonymous said...

All right. ¿What is the plan to establish the twelve laws of Brin? ¿Can Democrats apply for approval of those laws now? ¿Or will it be necessary to wait for President Hillary Clinton to be elected?

Winter7

gerold said...

Obviously it would be wonderful if the US government (all governments actually) operated according to logical, ethical, and truthful standards. With full transparency. But enforcing integrity by statute seems doomed to fail. This 12-step program doesn't seem workable. at least not until the citizenry becomes more advanced in their thinking.

It's the thing with representative government; you get the government you deserve. Although personally I think I deserve better than a sociopathic grifter as president, he's the president of the country, not of me. We elected a Conman-in-Chief. That means we deserve to have a pathological liar leading the country.

This democracy thing is a learning experience. It's harder than it looks. The French had their revolution in 1789, just 20 years after the American Revolution. The US tried the initial Articles of Confederation (ratified 1781) but found that organization too decentralized to be effective. The present Constitution was ratified in 1789. The French had a clear model of how to make the transition from monarchy to democracy right in front of them, but couldn't make it work. Their revolutionary transition broke down, went unstable, and reverted to absolutism. It took a few tries for the French to get a working democracy. (This is the Fifth Republic.)

Even though the US has been a Republic for over 200 years, we still have a lot to learn about operating a government of, by, and for the people. A lot of our citizens don't bother to vote at all, and most of the actual voters use a very rudimentary selection process. But electing a conman has taught us an important lesson.

On his TV show, Trump played a brilliant, insightful business leader. He was decisive. He saw things no one else was aware of. Always two steps ahead. They imagined he would play president the same way. They had every chance to recognize what a fraud that was. During the Republican primaries the other candidates all told the truth about Trump. They said he was a liar, a fraud, a bully, a cheat. A swindler. But maybe he would use those tricks on behalf of the American people once he was elected?

If he rolled the world the way he rolled his business competition, then we could all have gold plated fixtures and mirrors on the ceiling. Because he was going to make america great again.

Enlightenment is even more elusive than democracy. But if we have a critical mass of enlightened citizens, then we'll have honest government too. And it's undeniable that our citizen enlightenment-index is climbing. Is it getting close to that critical mass? I think we are, and that Blue Wave coming over the horizon is a glimpse of where it's taking us.

We're going to take back the House in 2018, and the White House in 2020. Then we'll get a better idea of how our enlightenment index compares to the good government threshold. Think of the Scandinavian countries; they're already over, and they're not that different. I would estimate that our young people are more enlightened than their average citizen, so it's just a matter of time before the magic of demographics and mortality tables clear out our Deplorables.

A Ministry of Truth won't even be needed, but I think it has to happen organically.

reformed tourist said...

donzelion, locumranch, and our host -

Ah, comes the dawn - an offering to be taken as satire, then.

(picks oneself up, dusts off, tests for fractures, abrasions or worse from where the trip wire encountered ankle, shrugs sheepishly)

Thank you for the gentle remonstrance, donzelion and the context, Dr. Brin.

My apologies, locumranch, and well done, sir (or other gender identifier, as the case might be).

I come recently from sitting at a deliberative body, where I've encountered a tide of both faux-populism and lack of deep understanding of, oh so many things e.g. how we got here, where exactly here is, where we might be going, and how we might get there.

And, I'm the one who who keeps yelling about not falling prey to reflexive thought and action... (shrugs sheepishly again while trying to summon up a rueful grin).

On the other hand, I got to throw out a lesser known, but unfortunately, an oh so en pointe term (kakistocracy). It offers me some small amusement and hope - after all, if the word's origins are that old, it means that we got past that point to this one. That suggests the possibility that we shall make it psst this phase of the pageant as well.

reformed tourist said...

gerold -

Your points are valid, however, there are a few mitigating factors.

Such offices and practices (OTA, OTP) have existed and been extremely useful in the recent past. They have been specifically excluded in the current regime precisely because they threaten the ability to advance a false narrative. Re-installing them by statute is a prudent step.

The IG positions do exist, but in isolation within their respective agencies and departments. Their charge of office focuses on the integrity of how work is performed. I, too, have pause about collecting and centralizing them in a department of their own with the trappings of militarization. I understand, however, that a large part of Dr. Brin's intent is to celebrate and reinforce professionalism both internally and externally.

Regardless, given how the legislative process works, all concepts need a starting point. As Dr. Franklin reputedly said (at least as Stone & Edwards present in "1776"), "...the birth of new nation is based on 1/2 improvisation and 1/2 compromise..." and so it is with bills making their way through Congress. Frankly, I would expect the FACT ACT to be divided into at least 2 bills; separating out the IG provisions, at the least for different consideration (I speak with some experience in these matters).

The essential emphasis, however, is that we have to start somewhere and somehow. The FACT ACT offers precisely that: concept(s) and talking points to begin the discussion and process on the political and public stages. For what it is worth, I have already delivered the idea(s) to a sitting member of the House and an aspirant currently running in a contested primary, both of whom have sought my input in other areas.

If it ain't put out there, it ain't gonna go nowhere.

Tim Wolter said...

Interesting fare for a Sunday morning.

It has been pointed out that we are a Republic, not a Democracy. So in theory we elect officials who vote on our behalf, enacting laws that govern us. There are of course necessary checks and balances in the system, and if it is an imperfect set of same, well, we are only exhorted to work "towards" a more perfect Union. So, are proposals such as these, and the earlier referenced Inspector General of the United States, steps towards perfection?

Let me share a few concerns from a conservative view point. They should be bipartisan concerns really, as the hands on the official levers of power change periodically. We are talking now about the unofficial levers.

As we become a more complex nation it has gotten rather difficult to pass Big, Important Laws. So we resort to the flimsy edifice of Executive Orders, to administrative "Dear Colleague" letters, and to trotting off to a friendly judge somewhere to put a temporary stay on any government policy we find objectionable. Mind you, I am not specifically addressing the merits or demerits of any specific policy but I will note that this is a fairly common practice when it is deemed "necessary" to enact a policy that does not share widespread support, or to derail one that does.

Its easy to point fingers, and of the three coequal branches Congress appears to have gone the farthest towards indolent self interest.

Lets get practical.

Will you accept the wisdom of an Inspector General when it is a bitter draught to quaff? We should have the Justice Department IG report shortly and it is likely to be scathing. Or will that be written off as politics as usual....if only we had a more independent, more powerful US IG who would be above it all.

I'll assume you can accept that at present certain professions/groups are heavily "leaning" towards progressive positions. Academia in particular. If it is necessary for tenure and advancement to espouse liberal policies then guess what, those who advance will be advocates of same. When the proposed science advisers that are brought forward are a cadre of full professors from Ivy's vs adjunct instructors from cow colleges, will it be an even exchange of ideas? Yes, feel free to say that the Ivy Department heads are just plain smarter, but this is my Contrary space to present alternatives and even OGH admits to a bit of nonsense in academia.

I wonder if we would not do more good by closely examining the brief of organizations like OMB, and of a revived Science advisory panel. OMB is constrained by its guidelines that in effect require it to score costs by assuming Congress will do what it says it is going to do. Congress rarely does. The next spending bill, or the one after that usually have even ups and carve outs that make the projections on big stuff like the Affordable Care Act stuff and nonsense. A cost accounting that gives best, worst and most likely outcomes with a discussion of variables would help.

We have not lurched into climate change discussions yet but any science discussion is drawn into that grav well quickly. I'd like to see projections based on whether or not India and China comply with their promises. I'd like economic analysis that weighs the costs of converting coal to nuclear/solar/natural gas.

I've run on too long and with less to show for it that I'd intended. I do support measures to restore "gravitas" to scientific and economic analysis. Both fields have been corrupted to some extent by politics and I'm skeptical that they can be easily purged of it. Both fields lack the public respect they once had, which is regrettable. Did they squander their authority or was it stolen from them?

TW/Tacitus

LarryHart said...

@donzelion,

I know you recently chided us for not picking up on your warning about the incel movement until lately. But this list seems to be at least slightly ahead of the mainstream on that one. Just this weekend, both Bill Maher's show and an editorial column in the Chicago Tribune decided the time was ripe to discuss the movement. In both cases, the speaker/writer felt the need to introduce the topic as if the audience was encountering it for the first time. I suspect it won't be too long before that won't seem any more necessary than an explanation of the term "Nazi" or "KKK".

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/page/ct-perspec-page-incel-men-sex-toronto-van-murders-0506-20180504-story.html

Jerry L said...

A proposition: The war on science is a subset of a war on integrity; a large battle in a bigger war.

Does the general population have less faith in personal integrity than in the past? Could people have lost faith in science because they've lost faith in the ability of people to speak or act out of anything other than personal interest? Do they then give themselves licence to act out of personal interest and dismiss integrity?

It is not uncommon to hear someone refer to a good man as a big boy scout in a cynical gambit to dismiss their apparent integrity. I was shocked when 83% of the people who consider themselves "evangelical christians" voted for a man who embodies the 7 deadly sins. A part of the modern celebrity cycle is the public downfall and public scandal. The Soviet, and now Putin/Trump propaganda strategy of "you're not perfect either" has taken a long-term tole on us. How can you believe in professional integrity if your faith in personal integrity is deeply shaken. A rational answer to an emotional trend may be doomed.

Perhaps, just as Reefer Madness made people cynical about all warnings against drugs, outdated or poorly conceived religious prohibitions have cost traditional institutions their credibility; e.g. sex is prohibited, but sex is cool, therefore the bad boys are cooler than the good boys.

locumranch said...


Regardless of how some of you choose to interpret my rather opaque motivations, the best of the brightest here must surely see that 'Freedom of Speech' implies the freedom to LIE, deviate from the truth, or offer up unsubstantiated opinion as truth.

After all, a man cannot persuade or entertain if he cannot embellish his speech with hyperbole, overstatement & untruth and, if he cannot entertain or persuade, he may as well remain silent. Or, if David had his way, the potential liar must be compelled to remain silent.

Once was during my days as a zealous Mondale-Ferraro campaigner, I heard a certain politician offer conflicting promises to different identity groups on consecutive days, promising businesses favourable terms one day while promising Berkeley radicals a communist uprising the next.

Politicians LIE: This is what they do because this is the only way that they can convince disparate interest groups to set aside their often petty differences & work together.

Human Beings LIE constantly with the best of intentions. We offer 'white lies' to our wives, husbands, children & loved ones to reassure; we lie to our employers, coworkers & clients to pacify; and we lie to ourselves incessantly so we have the courage to engage with another potentially shitty & futile day.

Our good host David is a professional LIAR in the sense that he produces FICTION -- these are mostly 'positive' fictions. uplifting delusions & optimistic untruths as he is quick to add -- but they are fictions, lies & untruths none-the-less.


Best
____

We LIE to ourselves constantly about our own sexual prowess, almost believing that we rut with celebrities & super models on a daily basis, even though (statistically speaking) most western adults live lonely & sexless lives, especially once married; hence our inclination to label the 'incel' (and/or 'involuntary celibate') as some inhuman monster.

reformed tourist said...

Locumranch -

Dealing with a dodgy spine at the moment leaves me a bit grumpy and looking for something to otherwise occupy my mind. At the moment, this topic is engrossing.

I believe I ken, or grok if you prefer, your use of the word LIE and its various noun and verb variants, but I'd like to be sure as I believe it is germane to the subject of this discussion.

Can you clarify whether you believe ALL that is perceived by human senses or devised by human machinations is a LIE, or is it merely when one human attempts to communicate their particular understanding of that perception/creation to another that both the attempt and the content is a LIE.

You also mention, that David's FICTION is a "mostly positive" fiction (LIE). Does this not mean that you believe there are then "negative" fictions?

If, as you say. these "positive" delusions are "uplifting" and "optimistic," even if they are, in your view, "...untruths," are they not preferable and more likely productive to those that are "depressing" and "pessimistic" which tend to be destructive?

If you agree with the premise, what is wrong with finding some means to hold "positive fictions" in higher social esteem?


On a meta scale, what developments of mankind were created that did not have motivation in optimism (a positive fiction by any standard) of one kind or another? I grant you that the NAZI's you referred to possessed an optimism for creating a world that I would and do utterly oppose - OTOH, was it not the optimism of the ALLIES that defeated them?

To me, the inevitable result of reliance on the LIE theory is a descent into Nihilism and extinction sooner rather than later after a particularly more nasty and brutal existence (perhaps thankfully foreshortened) than we currently "enjoy."

Awaiting enlightenment while appreciating that your opaque motivations are proprietary.

Anonymous said...

There are few times that really useful solutions are presented in this era of confusion. We must understand the true transcendence of Brin's 12 laws. We must understand that this is one of the few serious efforts to try to counteract the wave of political corruption that is drowning us all.
Let's support the Doctor brin. Undoubtedly, many of those who visit this website are in a position to be able to reach many this great idea. Support the idea with actions. We all know that Doctor Brin is someone with great integrity; so we should not hesitate to help you if we have the means to spread this great idea you have proposed.

Only actions change the future of a nation.

Winter7

donzelion said...

Jerry L: "A proposition: The war on science is a subset of a war on integrity; a large battle in a bigger war."

My theory on the 'war on science' isn't widely embraced here, but I see it less as 'war on science' per se, and more an effort to change why scientists do science. I see it less as "destroy all science!" and more as, "compel scientists to sing for their suppers, just like every other astrologer, priest, and clown."

I do not see Republicans denying evolution as 'anti-science': I see them as stating, "your work and research will not influence my policy; take your findings to someone who cares." The implicit meaning in that arrogant disdain is "find someone rich enough to back you, and then I'll pay very close attention." In essence, that fits with a broader effort to limit science done for the sake of 'curiosity' - to boldly go where no one has gone before - and instead, to channel it towards pursuits designed to enrich others.

donzelion said...

Jerry: "I was shocked when 83% of the people who consider themselves "evangelical christians" voted for a man who embodies the 7 deadly sins."
Me too. Indeed, I advocated that Dems confront this directly - instead of trying to use Alicia Machado to make a point (a jab that landed, which they mistook for a knock out blow) - interview the strippers in Trump-branded properties, put them front and center, ask 'crazy' questions of Evangelicals like, "OK, you say this guy is a Christian, but he's still profiting from these strippers. What size pasties does Jesus require in a Christian-owned strip club?"

Evangelicals are, be definition, favorably disposed toward a new convert - but the first task of any new convert is to repent of sins. A conversion without repentance is a fake conversion. Either they were swayed by Pence, or they credited a bona fide conversion to Trump - and nobody among them had any incentive to look further. I favor the latter: I don't think evangelicals gave Pence much more than a nod; they're not secretly hoping for Trump to die and Pence to replace him, so much as looking at Trump but not seeing what the evidence shows (largely because Dems are allergic to looking at this evidence, and applying it within the 'rules' of a religious frame of reference, a reference which is 'alien' to them).

There's a good reason Dem insiders would refrain from doing so: they'd need to poll evangelical progressives, speak to them as equals. That group is not amenable to control by Dem insiders, unlike the preferred pundits and visionaries who have been approved as loyal tools.

"therefore the bad boys are cooler than the good boys."
Perhaps, but an evangelical would more likely construe Trump as a 'prodigal son who returned to the fold' - forgiving much, if his conversion is authentic. And that's why the Stormy Daniels story is far more interesting and powerful than the Alicia Machado story: if he's still covering up the sins of the past, that implies precisely the opposite of repentance.

David Brin said...

Tim: “Yes, feel free to say that the Ivy Department heads are just plain smarter…”

Smarter, yes. Wiser? Well. Many lefty-flake perfessers demonstrate that the right does not have an utter and complete monopoly on anti-fact craziness… though they have cornered the market.

Again, the central mythos: We all know that:

"Just because someone is smart and knows a lot, that doesn't automatically make them wise."

It's true. But in the same way that Suspicion of Authority is wholesome, till it metasticizes, this true statement has been twisted into something cancerous:

"Any and all people who are smart and know a lot, are therefore automatically unwise."

The first statement is true and we all know it. The second is so insanely wrong that anyone believing it is hence a stark, jibbering loony. And yet, the latter is now a core catechism of the confederacy, because they have been allowed to leave it implicit.

Of course, blatantly, the average person who has studied earnestly and tried to understand is wiser than those who deliberately chose to remain incurious and ignorant. When cornered, even the most vehement alt-righter admits that. But cornering them takes effort and - above all - careful parsing of the meme. It is a logical corner they’ve painted themselves into! But their memes are slippery.

Hatred of universities and smart people, and people with knowledge and skill now extends from the war on science to journalism, teaching, medicine, economics, civil servants… and lately the “deep state” conspiring villains of the FBI, the intelligence agencies and the U.S. military officer corps. This is bedlam. It is insanity that serves one purpose, to discredit any “elites” who might stand in the way of a return to feudalism by the super rich, which was the pattern of 6000 years that America rebelled against.

The Confederacy has always been a tool to restore feudalism. only this time it has done what it could not do in the 1860s. Taken Washington.

===

locumranch asserts that human propensity at lying is a gooood thing. No. There are categories of lies - e.g. fantasy or what-ifs, that have some value. But all societies try to limit the nastier versions. Including your beloved feudalisms. The difference is that our method of flat-reciprocal accountability is LESS repressive and vastly more effective. And all 12 sections of the Fact Act are about enhancing that, and not feudal dominance.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "I know you recently chided us for not picking up on your warning about the incel movement until lately."
I did? I actually had to read the Chicago Tribune story you linked to after googling to confirm that 'incel' meant what I thought it did, and isn't merely another of Locum's 'not so cool' rightwing insider newspeak lingo terms. I saw others discussing it, and stayed clear from those observations, but now that you ask...

If I discussed it at all, it probably would have been without invoking the term and describing the marital prospects for various Muslims in Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, etc. In that context, 'incel' isn't a very useful term: it's just the fact that even in the poorest of the countries, a young Muslim man often lacks means to marry an eligible Muslim woman. If he cannot find such means through his tribal networks, he'll look elsewhere, for both sex and marriage.

In a more familiar Western context, my view on 'incel' follows an updated revision of Erich Fromm's: a narcissistic boy gets tired of porn fantasies, and naturally wants to find an object to actually have sex with - and narcissistic girls occasionally indulge the least-worst among them, but always subject to obvious risks the boys just don't confront. Hopefully, time and experience will let both slough their narcissism; more often, it develops into a narcissistic 'control' - sex can become a favor bestowed in exchange for control, and the taking or not taking of sex with an appropriately endowed woman the measure of a man's worth. Either both move past their narcissism (which is hard!) - or each temporary union fails. Women have a shorter period of reproductive time afforded to them; they better learn before they miss their chance.

But what movement is built on that sort of immaturity? Nazis, KKK, and similar groups are different: they see themselves as 'courageously' making the 'tough personal sacrifices' to stand against some 'threat.' That narrative empowers them to unite: every time one is brought down, some may regard the fallen as a martyr - but honestly, unless they can actually unite into a group, the personal bigotry of many isn't a threat. The incels in the Chicago Tribune's story are no more troubling than any other thug or brute - I am curious why a gangster killed a victim not because I think his motives matter, but because I want to stop him, and his gang. Here, there's not even a 'gang' at work: until I see evidence of that, I shrug: "Yep, just another nasty brute doing nastiness."

donzelion said...

reformed tourist: lol, it's been a while since I encountered 'kakistocracy' - the term eluded me as I raised the film 'Idiocracy' some time ago. I still haven't made up my mind whether I like that movie: there's a deeply bigoted sensibility built into it that even the most awshucks protagonist cannot mitigate, but that's just my hangups.

"That suggests the possibility that we shall make it psst this phase of the pageant as well."
We shall, provided we stick to our principles. In pageantry, the feigned presentation of principles results in skin-deep aphorisms without real conviction: they slough away, just like a bikini with a flimsy strap. Pageantry suggests much, but actual power lurks elsewhere.

The problem of 2016, as I see it, was that it was so easily reduced to a pageant - ugly v. uglier. I think the good people who disliked Trump stayed home, lulled into complacency by the thought 'uglier' couldn't possibly win. But Hillary's campaign didn't help much: the claim, "I'm much better than that other guy" can't really catch on as a battle cry that unites anyody, and a woman with actual qualifications and achievements had her record reduced to a series of emails, now almost entirely forgotten.

locumranch said...



A lie is a deceit, dissimulation, delusion, fiction, falsehood or non-fact.

The terms 'positive' and 'negative' represent value judgments and, when used as David has used them in recent posts, serve to justify the application of falsehood in the pursuit of (partisan) goals that he concludes to be value-worthy, desirable or 'positive'.

In contrast, Facts are defined as demonstrable events, actual things or truths verifiable from experience or observation. Facts 'are', existing in a non-modifiable sense, being neither 'positive' or 'negative'.

Facts are incompatible with falsehoods, regardless of the perceived positive or negative 'value' of said deceit or fact, yet David routinely argues that "positive delusions" (lies believed to have positive value) are preferable to negative, disillusioning or discouraging facts, just like almost every religious fundamentalist does.

By his own admission, then, David is a 'Liar of Convenience', no better & no worse (integrity-wise) than every other human cheater, dissembler, hypocrite or evangelical who mischaracterises the application of "positive delusions" about how reality 'ought-to-be' in terms of "fact-using".

The FACT is that people lie, especially in the pursuit of secondary gain, and to deny this fact is to deny observable reality & favour of the propositional 'Religion of Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda & Supposta', a worldview that is anathema to both the actual fact-user & the empiricist.


Best
_____

'Smart people' are just people, after all, and smartness, knowledge and skill does not necessarily imply an absence of the human propensity for deceit, falsehood or self-delusion. We are ALL liars, whether we be smart or dull and, as the dull tell the most transparent lies, one could argue that intelligence & education are prerequisites for the creation of convincing lies & fiction.

This begs a rather interesting question about the difference between a scientific theory & a fiction: Is there a quantifiable difference between the two if both conform to available fact?

Technically speaking, Newton was a liar as his First Law of Inertia assumes that an object can exist & remain at a perfect state of rest, even though this statement is false according to Einstein's relativism.

Likewise, the term 'incel' is a statement of fact as the term 'incel' refers to those who are involuntarily deprived of sexual relations, and all those positive & negative evaluations associated with the term are just expressions of personal opinion rather than fact.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: and to end my day's meditations here, I'll challenge this claim:

"Any and all people who are smart and know a lot, are therefore automatically unwise."
...[This statement]second is so insanely wrong that anyone believing it is hence a stark, jibbering loony. And yet, the latter is now a core catechism of the confederacy, because they have been allowed to leave it implicit."


The core catechism of the confederacy is not that people who know a lot are unwise, but that they're dangerous and must be controlled. Any feudalist loves 'science' when it offers him tools to better guard his fiefdom.

Confederates never developed scientific communities that could compete with non-confederates because forcing scientists to sing a song of praise and subjugation to win scraps from the table distracts from actually doing science. The rules of science, up through the Enlightenment, included an underlying rule: the scientist must compete for patronage with priests, astrologers, and clowns. After the Enlightenment, the rules shifted: scientists must compete with scientists playing the same game: let the best evidence prevail.

Let's not kid ourselves: any developer who denies global warming publicly will privately engage the best scientists he can find to evaluate the likelihood his project will be ravaged and when/how it might happen: he will factor that into his project, either through insurance, hidden valuations, or by some other means. To the extent he can foster a broad dismissal of the science, he can exploit the disdainful, conscious ignorance of the public and convert it into lucrative profits. His task is impeded by scientists speaking freely: he wishes to shut them the hell up and let him do his scheme.

LarryHart said...

reformed tourist:

Locum Locum Locum...(sigh)

I do not think that word, democracy, means what you think it means...(sigh).


You're new here, eh? No words mean what locumranch thinks they mean. That's his schtick.

That and making perfectly valid complaints only to conclude that the blame for the problems falls exactly on the wrong people.

Keep those tenets in mind, and his posts will make sense. Or at least won't surprise you.


LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

(his cult has a strange belief that such incantations magically make opposites true!)


That's why I'm so fond of using that line from 1984 about solipsism and "collective solipsism", "...that's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing." Because it's appropriate so often in speaking with right-wingers and/or Trump supporters.

Coincidentally, my daughter had me take her to a high school play of 1984 just last night. And I realized that the whole basis for my fear and disdain of Trump is the fact that he and his supporters so readily engage in doublespeak and accept the notion that two plus two equals whatever the Party tells you it is. From the time I first read that book back in 1977, I never thought America was actually susceptible to that sort of thing on a grand scale until Trump's election which brought out the obvious-in-retrospect truth that at least a third of my fellow countrymen are willing participants.

donzelion said...

Gerold: "This 12-step program doesn't seem workable. at least not until the citizenry becomes more advanced in their thinking."

At least two of the steps - reforming committees that once existed, but were purged 'to save money' - strike me as quite workable. Others? Well...

"We elected a Conman-in-Chief. That means we deserve to have a pathological liar leading the country."
On some level, yes, perhaps we do deserve this. We assumed we're better than Italy, where they brought their own Conman-in-Chief into office repeatedly, and smarter than Britain, where their own con artists told them, "Brexit will make us all so much more prosperous with almost no cost!" We were complacent.

"On his TV show, Trump played..."
We assumed everyone knew it was an act, that the person in front of the camera is an actor, a product, packaged and sold like any tub of butter, easily controlled by the folks peddling butter. I assumed the 'adults' among the Republicans would quickly quash this. How could they not?

"We're going to take back the House in 2018"
My fear? Dems actually do ride a wave to victory in 2018, at least in the House, and in 2019, the economy tanks, and enough well-paid objects in front of cameras say, "this is the Democrats fault' - bringing a Republican wave back again in 2020, and Trump a 2nd term. So long as the damage only hits the House, it can't do much in 2 years with a Rep Senate, Executive, and Sup Court.

"I would estimate that our young people are more enlightened than their average citizen,"
of Scandinavia? I've known quite a few: their high school graduates tended to be about as enlightened as most of our college graduates, a condition I've seen in other countries as well. But then, my exposure has tended to be their bilingual elites who were always going to appear uncommonly impressive.

"A Ministry of Truth won't even be needed, but I think it has to happen organically."
I have more faith in the truth seekers fighting, competing with one another fairly and fully within the rules to get us where we're needed than any government entity designed to restore balance, largely because that sort of competition among scientists is what got us HERE in the first place.

But that said...I wish Congress grasped that science is important, and scientists should not be treated with disdain (at least, disdain that attaches until the scientists are themselves 'objects' owned and traded by feudalists).

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Regardless of how some of you choose to interpret my rather opaque motivations, the best of the brightest here must surely see that 'Freedom of Speech' implies the freedom to LIE, deviate from the truth, or offer up unsubstantiated opinion as truth.


Ok. But we retain our right not to be persuaded by the words of a self-confessed liar. And on that rare occasion that you have something useful to contribute or warn about, we also reserve the right not to waste the time and effort required to evaluate that you might actually be speaking truth that one time. It certainly never crossed my mind even to wonder on your say-so whether Dr Brin is any kind of NAZI. You might as well be talking to my cat for all the attention your words receive.

LarryHart said...

reformed tourist:

dealing with a dodgy spine at the moment leaves me a bit grumpy


I feel your pain. Literally. In 2011, my spine went so out of whack that I could barely lift my left leg. A decent chiropractor worked wonders on that. Then in 2014, a pinched nerve caused sciatica pain that I wouldn't wish even on locumranch. That took three months of physical therapy to reverse. Neither ultimately required surgery, but to quote Norman Buntz of "Hill St Blues", "that didn't make it tea with the freakin' queen."

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

"therefore the bad boys are cooler than the good boys."
Perhaps, but an evangelical would more likely construe Trump as a 'prodigal son who returned to the fold' - forgiving much, if his conversion is authentic


See, I never thought the evangelicals believed Trump embodied their values. I think they believed he would smite their enemies for them. They never saw him as a Christian, but as a soldier (or maybe "attack dog") for Christianism (a word I coined meaning someone who expects special political or socio-economic status for Christians). As long as Trump supports their causes and is mean to the people they want to be mean to, there's no personal character flaw of his which will cause them to drop their support.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

LarryHart: "I know you recently chided us for not picking up on your warning about the incel movement until lately."
I did? I actually had to read the Chicago Tribune story you linked to after googling to confirm that 'incel' meant what I thought it did, and isn't merely another of Locum's 'not so cool' rightwing insider newspeak lingo terms.


Oh. Well, it was someone here who that applied to. I just remembered the wrong someone.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

A lie is a deceit, dissimulation, delusion, fiction, falsehood or non-fact.


Why should we believe that?

See how that works?

David Brin said...

Freedom of Speech' implies the freedom to LIE..."

A lying truth it its own right. The freedom of speech has a PURPOSE, fool. It is in order to create an open and free market place of ideas and assertions so that quality will defeat shit. How conservatives have sunk. They used to say they stood for both competitive marketplaces and morality. Now absolutely every single thing they say and do is aimed at undermining both.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

How conservatives have sunk. They used to say they stood for both competitive marketplaces and morality. Now absolutely every single thing they say and do is aimed at undermining both.


As locumranch demonstrates, they were probably lying all along when they said that.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "See, I never thought the evangelicals believed Trump embodied their values."
Nor did I; but I do think non-evangelicals misconstrue how evangelicals think. They assumed the same folks who hounded Bill Clinton would go after Trump (and thus Cruz, Bush, or Rubio would prevail). Major error.

For them, 'porny Stormy is just another desperate trick by Dems, just like the lying women who attacked that other guy in Alabama, what's-his-name." For them, it's an article of faith that "we're under attack, and Satan owns the scientists, the businesses, the whole world! Every day, he's fighting to get into your house, your head, your heart - to seduce and destroy you. Hold the line!"

They neither know nor care causes Trump supports - they care that he's attacked by the 'same' forces attacking them. Telling them, "Hey you guys are a bunch of hypocrites!" has no more effect upon what they do (or do not do - which is govern well) than decades of Jon Stewart and so many other gifted clowns who made a living calling out hypocrisy.

Instead of "see, Trump is a liar about this too!" - the way to argue this is, "Look, this is what repentance means in the Bible...do you see this?" No Democrat plausibly makes that argument: few ever could, and most of those who might would be deemed too high a risk for going 'off message.' They really do have no interest in this theology, which many regard as divisive at best. But unless they engage it, they'll abandon the field.

john fremont said...

@Larry Hart

I agree with your take here.
I recall that during the campaign, some Evangelicals were comparing Trump to the biblical King Cyrus of Persia. King Cyrus, a Persian and probably a Zoroastrian, who ended the Babylonian Exile and allowed the Israelites to return to their homeland. So whether Trump is really among the elect or not is moot. After all, despite their differences, Evangelicals turned out to vote for Romney. Some predicted that a Mormon would never win that vote but they still voted for him.

tcguru said...

locum:
Just earned an F in physics by producing a pseudofact: "Technically speaking, Newton was a liar as his First Law of Inertia assumes that an object can exist & remain at a perfect state of rest, even though this statement is false according to Einstein's relativism."

Newton's First Law of Motion states that a body in motion will remain in that motion unless acted upon by an external force. Einstein's general relativity does not contradict it; it simply modifies if for bodies moving at very high speeds such as near the speed of light.

This, I think, demonstrates the need for a non-partisan body to referee arguments about facts vs, pseudofacts. That was the purpose of the Office of Technology assessment: to examine the status of certain scientific activities, discern the facts about them, examine the potential consequences of them, and report to Congress about them. It is up to Congress to make decisions about policy concerning those facts and consequences.

Yes, everybody lies at some point or other. So? The question is whether those lies about facts are the result of ignorance or malevolence. The purpose of the Fact Act is to whittle down the malevolent lies and eliminate the ignorance on the part of Congress people and their respective flocks.

The purpose of the other elements of the Fact Act is basically to keep everybody honest. At least where there are consequences of dishonesty. That is, to point out the lies that con hurt us individually or collectively.

So are we discussing who has done what and to whom or what can do we do next in practice to reduce the growing size of the global falsehood index?

Paul451 said...

David,

Re: Shadow congress of experts.

Given the number of members of Congress, 538 if we're including the Senate, there's no reason to given them more than one appointment. Likewise, no reason to especially limit the qualified fields they draw from. Science, engineering, maths/stats, education, economics, medicine, etc. Amongst 538 appointees, there should be plenty of every sort.

While I can see the reason you want to limit the appointee to the member's district, I don't think it's a practical idea. Too easy to get around the requirement, and too wasteful to try to prevent such tricks. Better to just drop the requirement and allow them to appoint from anywhere. I would, however, explicitly allow an appointment of people who already serve in government (typically explicitly excluded in such positions, so it would get drafted into such a bill by habit.)

Re: Dept. of Inspectors General mit Uniform

I can see the reason for giving IGs their own career path and management, independent of the management of the dept/agency they are reporting on, but I strongly disagree with the uniformed part. They are not military-analogue, they are closer to police-analogue. But even amongst police and FBI, only the enforcement arm is uniformed, never the investigative arm, and IGs are an investigative profession. The Dept. of IG might have a small armed and uniformed enforcement unit, for internal security and for seizures of information from uncooperative bodies, but making the entire department a uniformed agency smells too much like the Nazi's making every government position uniformed. IMO, it serves little purpose, and stinks to high heaven; so drop it before it poisons the rest of the proposal. You want it to symbolise professionalism, but that's not the symbol anyone else will see.

Paul451 said...

Donzelion,
Re: Incels and local creepers,
"Nazis, KKK, and similar groups are different: they see themselves as 'courageously' making the 'tough personal sacrifices' to stand against some 'threat.' That narrative empowers them to unite: every time one is brought down, some may regard the fallen as a martyr"

And that description fits the Incels' culture and self-image perfectly.

When Loco talks of himself or them "not owing anything", he is regurgitating his group's mantra. But remember that he's saying that to defend/explain the killing by those Incel "martyrs". When he then says that rape is a "natural" consequence of women denying him/them sex (also an Incel mantra), he thinks he is merely giving a more specific example of the first statement. To Loco and other Incels, the reciprocal of being denied something is to take it. If you want to understand Loco, you need to remember that, every time he talks about reciprocity and of not "owing" anything.

[Which is why I laugh when Alfred says that, in spite of his whining, Loco will "have our backs" when things go wrong. You so utterly misunderstand these creeps.]

--

Larry,
"I know [Donzelion] recently chided us for not picking up on your warning about the incel movement until lately."
"Oh. Well, it was someone here who that applied to. I just remembered the wrong someone."

{waves}

I also made the point, long ago and ignored, that the Incels are the group that the rapey "Player" movement found creepy and the angry/violent "Men's Rights" movement thought dangerous.

reformed tourist said...

LarryHart

Thanks for the sympathy/sorry for the empathy. 4 surgeries and dozens (literally) of epidurals since just after 9/11 all to keep pushing metal around the sky till this year - disability plan provides essentially full pay for a year and I've got just over that to normal retirement - I did the math.

Not all that new here, but while always attentive to our host, haven't previously gone too far down the twisty dark comments' path (cf my previous post a topic or 2 ago re newly unbound status). Locum...self identified incels...young arab men consigned to repressed sexuality...suicide bomber candidate pool...(3 sighs and an uh oh).

Re the Trump effect has to do with "perceived authenticity" dating back to Bush/Dukakis (Whoodja wannna have a beer wit') continues with Clinton/Bush (It's the Economy, Stupid), and is now manifest in an even more baroque way (MAGA).

Check out http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/04/18/1718155115

Short form: It's the Stature, Stupid (that encompasses Economy/racism/classism and the fears du jour, handily).

For evangelicals, that translates into making and keeping a deal with the devil and for others more secular, well, I've already bored our host with my development of a "Sitcom Theory of Presentation" that I've employed to brief members of Congress, so I shan't here).

Ah Buntz - a very well drawn character. I might well have devised a Bochko Theory, but his narrative arcs all take an hour and I never had more than 30 minutes.

Which brings us back to the doable - tcguru asks a fair point: "So are we discussing who has done what and to whom or what can do we do next in practice to reduce the growing size of the global falsehood index?"

LarryHart said...

Paul451:

"Oh. Well, it was someone here who that applied to. I just remembered the wrong someone."

{waves}


Sorry I remembered the wrong name.


To Loco and other Incels, the reciprocal of being denied something is to take it.


I know I'm getting old, but when did sex without responsibility become something that one could understandably feel one was "owed"? I mean, when I was in my teens and twenties, I certainly wanted unencumbered sex, but it never crossed my mind that I would get it, let alone that I was being abused because of that fact.

When my parents' generation went away to college, they were told not to engage in pre-marital or extra-marital sex. Some did anyway, of course, but that would have been done secretly. In my time, my parents literally told me they didn't know what advice to give me because times were changing. "Be careful and responsible about pregnancy" was the best they could do. Still, I never was under the impression that the girls/women at school would willingly engage in one-night stands with anyone who approached them.

When did that change? When did we enter a world where that guy in San Bernardino felt justified in killing attractive women because he was all of (gasp!) 22 and still a virgin? When did "no marriage, no relationship, give me sex" become the expected norm of entitlement? To conservatives for Chrissake!

Could it possibly be that the Staceys* distance themselves from you because they intuit correctly that you actively desire to harm them?

* Anyone who knows me from the old "Cerebus" board gets the irony that I have personal reasons for despising their usurpation of the name Stacey.

gerold said...

donzelion: "My fear? Dems actually do ride a wave to victory in 2018, at least in the House, and in 2019, the economy tanks, and enough well-paid objects in front of cameras say, "this is the Democrats fault' - bringing a Republican wave back again in 2020, and Trump a 2nd term. So long as the damage only hits the House, it can't do much in 2 years with a Rep Senate, Executive, and Sup Court."


a Democratic Senate would be great, since it could block loony judicial nominations, but the math is very unfavorable. But even if it's just the House, it still provides an excellent springboard for 2020.

Democrat-majority House gives us committee chairs and majorities in all those committees. That means all the findings of the Mueller investigation can and will be used to uncover the high crimes and misdemeanors used by Trump to steal the presidency.

All it takes to initiate impeachment is a House majority. I'm assuming that there will be sufficient evidence to justify it, because Trump, but to get conviction you need a supermajority in the Senate. (60%? 2/3? I'm not even sure what it is, but we can count on the Repubs to block it.)

How will that look in 2020? If the Repug Senate refuses to convict Boss Monkey, despite all the evidence, the 2020 election will be even more of a wipe-out.

I'm a little concerned that there isn't a clear candidate in sight for POTUS 46, but take heart from the 2008 analogy. No one saw Obama coming then. Here's hoping that there is a candidate in the wings of a similar quality to fix this mess starting 2021.

Jon S. said...

"All it takes to initiate impeachment is a House majority. I'm assuming that there will be sufficient evidence to justify it, because Trump, but to get conviction you need a supermajority in the Senate. (60%? 2/3? I'm not even sure what it is, but we can count on the Repubs to block it.)"

US Constitution, Article II, Section 3, Paragraph 6:

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

So it depends on how many Senators actually show up.

LarryHart said...

@gerold,

The problem with impeachment is that there is mathematically no possibility of the 67 Democrats in the Senate to convict. Impeachment without conviction will anger Trump's base without any benefit to the rest of us. Republicans are already using impeachment as an election issue, "Vote for us to prevent impeachment!" If Democrats do impeach in 2019, that might become more of a rallying point for Republicans in 2020. It might be worth it if conviction was a possibility, but it just isn't.

gerold said...

LarryHart: "The problem with impeachment is that there is mathematically no possibility of the 67 Democrats in the Senate to convict. Impeachment without conviction will anger Trump's base without any benefit to the rest of us."

The 67-Democrat issue will be a non-problem, but I think the lack of conviction will work to our advantage. The Repub Senators that voted Not Guilty will pay a price at the polls.

You can see the direction of the Repub "legal strategy" - it's all about prepping Trumpcult to reject the facts after they come out. They're being prepped to call it fake news, witch hunt, deep state conspiracy, biased media, liberal elite smear campaign etc. And while that will keep his core supporters in line, it leaves the rest of the country with a foul taste of corrupt insanity. That's not the basis of a winning campaign.

In the 2020 election, I expect a massive turnout to reject Repub Senators who aided the cover-up, and a wholesale repudiation of the Stupid Party.

reformed tourist said...

I'm afraid you're all missing part of the political calculus (my other field).

First, there are as many as 5 - 10 Republican senators who would, given appropriate circumstances, vote for conviction... possibly more given point 2 in a moment. The fact is that the Senate is far antsier about Trump's antics than the House and far more protective of their prerogatives. Some of them can't count, but they have staff to do that for them.

2nd, and mot important, the leadership of the Republican caucus, most of the Senate Republicans, and a significant majority of those in the House, plus the RNC itself would much rather have a President Pence going into 2020. The base would rally as easily, if not more so, around an incumbent Pence as well as sticking it to the Dems for the crime of impeaching Trump (which many would gladly see for divers purposes and agendas).

reformed tourist said...

yet another sigh -

more, not mot

and, I suppose the olde english spelling won't do, so diverse, not divers

... I blame the drugs I'm currently on...

locumranch said...


A breath-taking level of hypocrisy it is to feign shock, surprise & dismay to discovery that our elected officials are ACTORS at best & liars at worst, even though actors & professional liars have always been one & the same, a mere walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. [Macbeth, act 5, scene 5, published 1623].

That said, it's nice to see Larry_H & Paul451 acknowledge the unpleasant fact that 'Freedom of Speech implies the freedom to LIE', as well as recognise that the 'Fact Police' precedent stinks to high heaven of the SS, the German Stasi & the Spanish Inquisition, just as I recognise that the purpose of Free Speech is to encourage FREEDOM of belief & opinion rather than (cough) "create an open and free (honest) market place".

Finally, to reciprocity, the french revolutionary precedent & the suggestion that those who lack bread should 'eat cake'.

Screw you and the horse you rode in on: "Failure to find a sexual partner is now a DISABILITY says World Health Organisation".

Are so prejudiced & hate-filled that you would mock those who are impoverished, deprived & DISABLED ??

Bloody intolerant progressive hypocrites!!!


Best

donzelion said...

Paul451: Perhaps LarryHart was referring to your comments about incels...I'm pretty sure today is the first time I've used the term.

I'd distinguish them from KKK and Nazis, largely based on how group cohesion works. The symptoms of group cohesion I mean, the 'sacrifices' I'm concerned with, are taking stances that actually directly hurt a person - e.g., a conspiracy of silence among gang or mob members, where one individual takes a 10 year jail sentence to protect another. Similar sorts of sacrifices - stashing weapons, donating funds, providing tangible support - not chiming along on forums, but physical actions. Doxing someone? That straddles the border. Swatting someone? Crosses it entirely. Can we say for certain the doxer is a swatter? Or the doxer intended someone else to be a swatter?

I think I'm the guy who claims Loco will 'have our backs' when things go wrong (Alfred may have said it as well, can't recall). Think about it this way: were he really an incel, he'd have walked away from the serial abuse heaped upon him here, day in, day out. Among the incels, he'd probably be the dog with the biggest cranium, and find folks who worshiped him: instead, he comes HERE of all places for some reason. You could say the same about me: I'm looking for intelligent discussion, and finding precious few to partake in it with among the closer options.

gerold said...

reformed tourist: " the RNC itself would much rather have a President Pence going into 2020"

There is a certain logic to that position. But voting patterns don't really correspond to logic. Think back on the 1976 election, when Gerald Ford was roundly repudiated for his pardon of Nixon. Republican voters didn't get mad, nor did they get even. They stayed home. Their testosterone levels were depressed. They couldn't get up for the election. Same thing would happen here, only more so.

A big part of the appeal for Trump voters is the feeling that they are behind the biggest, baddest Boss Monkey out there. For people with Authoritarian Personality Disorder, that aura of Hugeness is essential. When their Idol is toppled, they shrivel up and blow away. If Trump is impeached or quits, that kills the magic. They take to watching re-runs of Duck Dynasty, maybe some professional wrestling.

I don't think this will energize the GOP in 2020. Just the opposite.

David Brin said...

This is why I cried out: "Don't Impeach! It's a trap - don't fall for it."

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2017/05/dont-impeach-plus-appraising-gop.html

gerold said...

David - just read your "don't impeach" - gotta disagree with caveat.

If a legislative plurality were to agree on impeachment terms for purely tactical reasons, that would indeed be a disaster. We can't impeach Trump because he's personally reprehensible, or from the Repub perspective, tactically expedient. But if the Mueller investigation uncovers proof that he colluded with Russia to steal the election, then he must be impeached. If he engaged in other criminal behavior, not associated with the presidency, that may not be sufficient grounds for impeachment, but he should be prosecuted after leaving office. The American people need to know the facts.

It all depends on the facts. Any objective observer should be able to agree already that the man has criminal tendencies, and has almost certainly engaged in criminal behavior for many years. His whole career. But if he cooperated with Putin to steal the election, that is grounds for impeachment. Even Republicans should be able to agree with that. And if they don't, then they should be removed from office by the voters.

Trump and his team at Fox have been pushing the narrative that Dems, the media and swampy elites are attempting to subvert the election using a pseudo-legal coup. Rational observers recognize that agitprop as bullshit, but plenty of hillbilly Repubs, neoconfederates and hellfire fundies are eager to swallow it. We definitely don't want to go that route. But if Mueller finds hard evidence of collusion with Russia, then we'll just have to put up with the awkward squawks and ugly screeches. Criminal presidents are distasteful; traitorous ones are intolerable. A pathological liar as president is dangerous. A Conman-in-Chief is risky. But if it can be proven that he stole the office using the help of Czar Vladimir, then the Constitution provides an explicit remedy. Impeach the bastard.

Sure, Pence is repulsively reptilian. But Trumpcult will not accept him. He doesn't fluff their libido. Pulling out the trump-prop will bring the whole rotten edifice crashing down. GOP needs a complete tear-down and rebuild. Impeach the bastard ASAP.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi gerold

The Dems never ever hold GOP politicians responsible after they leave office!

Nixon - before he was elected - sabotaged the Vietnam peace talks to get elected
That killed US service people and was Treason

Reagan - before he was elected - conspired with the Mullahs to keep the US hostages - that was Treason

Bush Junior Lied to congress as did Chaney

But the Dems never ever go for these people - they are just left to retire in peace - to avoid "Looking Political"

As long as the Dems are stuck on trying to be the adults then the GOP politicians will know that there is no downside - no matter what they do the Dems will just let them retire with their ill gotten gains

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

"Failure to find a sexual partner is now a DISABILITY says World Health Organisation".


Why should we believe that?


Are so prejudiced & hate-filled that you would mock those who are impoverished, deprived & DISABLED ??


No, we mock those who think they are ENTITLED!!! because of their (your) impoverishment, deprivation, or disability. Y'know, like you conservatives usually do? Pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps. I got mine, so screw you.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

Among the incels, he'd probably be the dog with the biggest cranium,


As M*A*S*H's Charles Emerson Winchester so eloquently put it, "That's like being the best hockey player in all of Ecuador."

gre said...

Tim Wolters wrote:
As we become a more complex nation it has gotten rather difficult to pass Big, Important Laws. So we resort to the flimsy edifice of Executive Orders, to administrative "Dear Colleague" letters, and to trotting off to a friendly judge somewhere to put a temporary stay on any government policy we find objectionable. Mind you, I am not specifically addressing the merits or demerits of any specific policy but I will note that this is a fairly common practice when it is deemed "necessary" to enact a policy that does not share widespread support, or to derail one that does.

This may be true, but it seems to me to be at best a partial truth. One must also ask: what is it that has made it "difficult" to pass important laws? After all, up until about 1970 or so, it seems it was possible to pass them. It seems to me an instance of false equivalence to fail to point out that, more or less since then, one particular party has made it a point -- sometimes explicitly -- to not pass important legislation, and to block it when others do attempt it. What's the old joke: "We think government doesn't work - and if you elect us, then we'll prove it!"

Yet, at the same time, people will object to executive orders and the like, ignoring the fact that things do need to get done, even if one party is attempting to ensure that they are not done via legislation. Rather like those who object to legislation, yet also complain about "judges legislating from the bench" -- blithely ignoring the fact that judges must still decide cases, even in the absence of specific legislation.

reformed tourist said...

Seriously guys - go check out Mutz's paper just released by the National Academy of Sciences last month: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/04/18/1718155115

Here's the lead -


"Support for Donald J. Trump in the 2016 election was widely attributed to citizens who were “left behind” economically. These claims were based on the strong cross-sectional relationship between Trump support and lacking a college education. Using a representative panel from 2012 to 2016, I find that change in financial wellbeing had little impact on candidate preference. Instead, changing preferences were related to changes in the party’s positions on issues related to American global dominance and the rise of a majority–minority America: issues that threaten white Americans’ sense of dominant group status. Results highlight the importance of looking beyond theories emphasizing changes in issue salience to better understand the meaning of election outcomes when public preferences and candidates’ positions are changing."

Voting patterns are cyclical to a degree which makes GOTV efforts critical. Demographic waves are based on enthusiasm; hence framing and messaging are similarly critical (I may have to provide my "Sitcom Theory..." after all later in this string - sorry, David).

That is why demographics, and to a certain level, the ideology of the party leadership is less important: the prime directive for them is to maintain power. The GOP is better than the Dems in this regard, though demonstrably worse at governing (there are several reasons for that).

Many predicted that demographics alone would shift the electorate such that by 2018-2020, people of color and economic shifts in the sunbelt states would make a Dem governing majority inevitable. That is precisely why the the OOP has adopted the strategy of vote suppression and backed various other legislation - not as policy for the country, but as political maneuvering to maintain dominance for the future.

And that is why Trump is similarly expendable.

As another reference, you might check out https://democraticredistricting.com/
The Dems came very late to the party having failed to appreciate the problem fully, much like the reliance on a "big data" approach the DCCC uses for determining their favorites - I'll save that little problem for another post.

I attended the very first high-roller NDRC dinner (not that I'm a high-roller, my "employer" sent me) presided over by General Holder. The other select invitees were... interesting. NOT just the usual crowd of big donors to the party, but also the very well-off Tech crowd - the pitch was not for money (that occurred well before the dinner - not all the invitees were donors!), but assistance...tech assistance, idea assistance...

reformed tourist said...

Addendum -

BTW, I should clarify that the employer who delegated me as their rep at the NDRC dinner last fall was my union.

Interestingly, I was the only one from Labor in the room.

And the dinner was given at the Shirley's house - Holder's opening remarks were that Obama told him that he would enjoy their hospitality.

For those who don't immediately recognize the name, one word: Microsoft.

locumranch said...


Larry_H defends the progressive engagement in the Odd Man Out game by claiming to to "mock those who think they are ENTITLED", as evidenced by the dehumanising slurs enlightened progressives target against those 'evil' male deplorable, mentally ill & possibly retarded incels, a tactic that progressives like just fine when used against their designated Out Group, but claim is indefensible when it was predominantly against their designated In Group.

My only response to Larry_H's preference for the polarising Odd Man Out game is "Please Continue", elsewise conservative "evil male deplorable, mentally ill & possibly retarded" right-wingers everywhere couldn't have galvanised themselves into a rousing DEFEAT of the progressive anti-male pro-freak agenda.

Congrats, Morons!! Name-calling progressive Odd Man Out players like Larry_H elected President Trump in the USA & the Ultra-Nationalists in Europe. "O Please Briar Progressive Fox, Please Don't Throw Little Old Deplorable Me in the Briar Patch".

It is to laugh.

And here's a link to the HuffPo establishing that the WHO now considers the inability to find a sexual partner a DISABILITY:
https://www.huffingtonpost.in/2016/10/26/if-you-are-unable-to-find-a-suitable-sexual-partner-who-may-c_a_21592138/


Best
____

Congrats to the pro-union reformed_tourist for his Microsoft supper because it must have been a real treat to dine with all those H1B visas that Microsoft imports to disadvantage its non-union employees. It must have been delicious.

LarryHart said...

Like my wife's former-roommate's cat, locumranch doesn't recognize when a mirror is being held to his face, and so continues to his and growl at the face he sees without recognizing it as his own.


And here's a link to...


You really can't cause me to give a good goddamn enough to bother.

See how that works?

sociotard said...

In the movie "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri", there's this scene:
Willoughby: I'd do anything to catch the guy who did it, Mrs. Hayes, but when the DNA don't match no one who's ever been arrested, and when the DNA don't match any other crime nationwide, and there wasn't a single eyewitness from the time she left your house to the time we found her, well... right now there ain't too much more we could do.
Mildred Hayes: You could pull blood from every man and boy in this town over the age of 8.
Willoughby: There's civil rights laws prevents that, Mrs. Hayes, and what if he was just passing through town?
Mildred Hayes: Pull blood from every man in the country.
Willoughby: And what if he was just passing through the country?
Mildred Hayes: If it was me, I'd start up a database, every male baby was born, stick 'em on it, and as soon as he done something wrong, cross reference it, make 100% certain it was a correct match, then kill him.
Willoughby: Yeah well, there's definitely civil rights laws that prevents that.

Which brings me to a good article from Vox: The Golden State Killer case shows how swiftly we’re losing genetic privacy

So, our hosts standard recommendation in these cases is reciprocal transparency, something like the "Eye of Sauron Alert" facebook employees get when higher-access users access their account. I'm just not sure how that could apply here. Stop genetic testing companies revealing possible relatives unless they notify the relatives they've been revealed? and the relatives of the relatives who've been revealed?

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "As M*A*S*H's Charles Emerson Winchester so eloquently put it, "That's like being the best hockey player in all of Ecuador."

Ah....David Ogden Stiers (the actor who played Winchester) was an incredible talent, a kind man who read Christmas stories for the kids and the childlike adults every year in Newport, Oregon, until last year. Seems he passed away two months ago. RIP.

As for the statement: Locum comes here for a reason, posts frequently for a reason, attracts attention that routinely smashes his arguments, yet comes back for more. None of that fits with a profile of what I'd expect from an incel - they seek caves where they can sing trolly kumbaya about their Staceys or what have you: a true incel would be infuriated by constantly being hammered by better arguments. I leap to my conclusions about his personality based on that practice. I may have erred; but I still believe that if they really were lining folks up against a wall (literally, not metaphorically), he'd find a place to protect us as best he could: he'd be an incorrigible cuss about the whole thing and really make you feel bad for needing him, but he'd come through in the end.

locumranch said...


Larry_H really can't cause me to give a good goddamn enough to bother about his progressive causes. See how that works?

It's called reciprocity.


Best

donzelion said...

reformed tourist: "Support for Donald J. Trump in the 2016 election was widely attributed to citizens who were “left behind” economically."

After the election, after slamming my head against the wall a few times, it dawned on me: Republicans have majorities in the House, Senate, 33 state governorships, and most state legislatures: how could anyone assume this was irrelevant?

"And that is why Trump is similarly expendable."
Absolutely. His entire fortune is a creature of leverage applied through similar measures to other billionaires (many of whom own far more tangible assets than he: one billionaire is not equal in power to another, even if the Forbes listing suggests otherwise). But he was on television far more than any other billionaire, long before he announced his campaign. He's 'expendable' in that so long as he doesn't obviously betray party doctrine explicitly, any sock puppet can fill the role and benefit from the machine - but any rich man with similar television exposure would have built up a powerful 'base' to operate that machine.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

I may have erred; but I still believe that if they really were lining folks up against a wall (literally, not metaphorically), he'd find a place to protect us as best he could:


In so believing, you are overlooking his direct statements of the opposite. Then again, given his status as an out-and-proud liar, you may have a point.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Larry_H really can't cause me to give a good goddamn enough to bother about his progressive causes.


Water off a duck's back. I never thought I could in the first place.


It's called reciprocity.


A: "Anything I say is likely to be a lie."

B: "Thanks for the warning. Now, I won't believe anything you say."

A: "Oh yeah?! Well, just for that, I won't believe anything you say either!"

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

Ah....David Ogden Stiers (the actor who played Winchester) was an incredible talent,


I was still in my teens, or barely out of them, but the first time I saw him in a different role without the Boston accent, it blew my mind.

locumranch said...


Kudos to Donzelion, btw, who understands the importance of reciprocal back-scratching & 'The Art of the Deal'.

I would have his back (and, the back of anyone who had my back) in a New York minute, even though this mutual act of contractual cooperation has now been ruled unnecessary & even 'evil' by PC cry-bullies who prefer to rely on a depreciating shame & blame game in order to dominate a much villainised Out Group.

From healthcare to climate change, it boggles the mind how these self-righteously priggish progs think that they can build consensus, make friends & influence other people by treating the other BADLY.

These are the same people who feign shock & surprise when they condemn the majority as 'deplorable' only to receive Trump in return, proving once & for all that there's no cure for stupid.

Call someone a monster long enough & they will oblige you by becoming one.


Best

donzelion said...

Duncan: "The Dems never ever hold GOP politicians responsible after they leave office!"
Quite a few GOP politicians went to jail (especially the sex offenders) - only a handful revived their reputations. It's a simple cost/benefit analysis: the benefit of kicking a retired thug in the balls is minimal (a little satisfaction of seeing a man who is already down and out writhe). The cost of trying to do so can be extreme: those with means to defend themselves tend to do quite well in courts of law and of public opinion.

Whatever Nixon did in 1968, Robert Kennedy's assassination + the Tet and other N. Vietnamese offensives + POWs made peace talks tenuous to say the least. It was hard enough just to get the Pentagon Papers out, and they showed more lies by Johnson than Nixon.

The evidence of Reagan's "October surprise"/hostages theory is...inconclusive. Lyndon LaRouche was convinced; others weighing evidence found insufficient documents or recordings. Reagan's lackeys learned a lot from what happened to Nixon. Nobody but Iranians had much control over Iran. They wanted the Shah returned; Carter refused, and Reagan refused, and they released the hostages when Reagan took office in an initial attempt to steer America - one that failed spectacularly (and culminated in a lot of dead marines). Correlation? Absolutely. Causation? Inconclusive.

"Bush Junior Lied to congress as did Chaney"
Bush/Cheney lied about a lot of things, but if the 'big lie' was Iraq, the main fault was in selling 'raw intelligence' (reports by a few screwball sources, including one codenamed 'Screwball') - the intelligence community generally believed the conclusions about WMD.
A few officers (Valerie Plame, etc.) criticized specific bits of evidence of a new buildup, but the general consensus stood, and raw intelligence trumped it...for a reason.

That reason was never about taking Iraq's oil, nor was it about billions spent on Halliburton no-bid contracts: Halliburton did little better than breaking even on its Iraq operations. Their immense profits came later, and from American and other services contracts outside Iraq - the value of which skyrocketed once it became abundantly clear Iraqi oil would not go onstream in any meaningful amount for at least 10 years.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: my claim: "I may have erred; but I still believe that if they really were lining folks up against a wall (literally, not metaphorically), he'd find a place to protect us as best he could:"

"In so believing, you are overlooking his direct statements of the opposite. Then again, given his status as an out-and-proud liar, you may have a point."

Oh, he'd protest every step of the way and still do the right thing, the decent thing. I take his statements as meaning one thing, and the fact that he's making them HERE as meaning a very different thing - and try to thread the needle.

Locum: "From healthcare to climate change, it boggles the mind how these self-righteously priggish progs think that they can build consensus, make friends & influence other people by treating the other BADLY."
Not that I would delude myself into thinking I could change or influence your mind, but people often vent on forums such as these (I do myself) - and those who seem determined to treat others badly may themselves seek comfort and shared thought (which you certainly prick with pleasure).

In 'real' life, as opposed to anonymous blogging life, I expect you'd find the 'priggish progs' a far more supporting crowd...but a frustrated one.

donzelion said...

reformed tourist: "Many predicted that demographics alone would shift the electorate such that by 2018-2020, people of color and economic shifts in the sunbelt states would make a Dem governing majority inevitable."

The demographic expectations were affected by two factors:

(1) Millennial voters. However, these voters grew up exposed to repeated tropes featuring 'blonde evil witch' villains in new media properties developed especially for their consumption - imagery that couldn't help but fixate upon Hillary and support a vestigial distrust. Hunger Games (Alma Coin, a thug just as brutal as President Snow even if she seemed to be 'from the good guys'), Lion/Witch/Wardrobe (White Witch), Maze Runner (Ava Paige), Divergent (Jeanine Matthews)...show me a 'new property' developed into film imagery, I'll show you a 'smart blonde female vixen' leading evildoers.

1-2 cases? Coincidence. 3-8 cases? Hmmm...what accounts for the emergence of this new sort of creature in so many distinct properties? Older properties tend to display cliched 'dark lord' images (Star Wars, Harry Potter, LOTR) - a reference point that didn't really touch Trump (he's no President Snow, an elegant sophisticate...). Suspicion is a trained human response: we are suspicious of those we've told to be suspicious of, not others who 'appear innocent.' Perhaps Trump is retraining us...

(2) Latino and other voters of color. What had Hillary ever done for them as a politician? She took a few modest stances, but every time 'super predators' came up, and it came up often, their suspicions were raised anew. She 'used' Alicia Machado to make an argument, but when had Hillary stuck out her head or hand for such women, except to make a political point? Minority voters are sensitive to being tokenized - just like everybody else is.

(3) Women. Again, as with people of color, the mere fact that "she's a she" is insufficiently impressive to most women so as to secure their loyalty.

Even so, the pollsters were right on the numbers - she did 'win' the popular vote. Just not where it counted. I suspect the reason why she didn't get Penn, Michigan, Florida, Ohio, etc. had a lot to do with these sorts of factors - matters too vacuous to be easily measured, but nonetheless, important in shaping perceptions.

reformed tourist said...

donzelion -

Actually, the pollsters, including the high priced ones that have sole-source contracts with the parties and campaigns did get it wrong.

The Clinton guys, specifically, erred on sample size, frequency and location - particularly in Michigan and Pennsylvania. As a result, the campaign did not hit Michigan in the later stages and that was assuredly the tippng point.

donzelion said...

reformed tourist: "Actually, the pollsters, including the high priced ones that have sole-source contracts with the parties and campaigns did get it wrong."

They sure as hell got it wrong about PA, MI, and many other 'safe' states. But they got the national numbers pretty close. I cannot say what might have happened with better targeting, beyond the fact that hindsight is more accurate than foresight, and she had very smart people crunching her numbers. I'd credit a data flaw, rather than oversight - and one possible source of that would be overlooked 'nuances' circulating and clouding judgments...like memes.

Fox & Friends KNOW that they don't have many youngsters watching, hooked on their feeds. So perhaps they reached out to them indirectly, putting a couple million dollars into a LOT of wretched movies, possibly with a little suggestion here and there, e.g., "Don't you think she'll look so much more EVIL if she was blond?" "You're RIGHT! Great idea! Hey, redo her hair...") Note that analysis only applies to franchises with a 'smart secret hand' operating spiderlike behind the scenes...imagery can generate intense, subtle power (ask Nixon v. Kennedy - the televised debate had a totally different outcome unrelated to what either one said).

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | …the best of the brightest here must surely see that 'Freedom of Speech' implies the freedom to LIE, deviate from the truth, or offer up unsubstantiated opinion as truth.

No. For a dictionary hide-bound guy like you to stretch ‘Lie’ in this manner is just weird. If you speak an untruth with intent to mislead from what you know is the truth, that ‘lie’ is not protected by your freedom of speech. If I am ever on a jury of yours, I’d slap you down for this AND wonder what the implications were regarding your other statements if you can’t understand what lying is.

Newton did not intend to misspeak when he offered up his first law, so he was not lying. He was describing a formalism he built to describe mechanics, so the first law isn’t even an untruth. All it is guilty of is not being applicable to the world AS an explanation. It still works as part of a decent model, though.

reformed tourist said...

In part, the problem is representative of the Big Data obsession that so many institutions suffer from - these include government, industry etc.

In essence it manifests itself when large database is collected and inaccuracies,o/ utliers are incorrectly classified. By analogy, one gets different conclusions from the same data depending on one inspects it solely with either a telescope or a microscope.

It is time consuming and takes knowledge of nuance to do proper analysis, and so there is a tendency to seek shortcuts. The DCCC is a fine example. Their shortcut is to generally assume that a candidate in a contested primary who has raised the most money by a fairly early date certain is the one to back. They do so with a fine disregard for intel they receive from other (local) sources.

So yeah, the pollsters did pretty well on the large aggregate conclusion, but the didn't just miss the boat - they forgot (or worse) ignored which lake the boat was in regarding presidential electoral politics. Many red faces.

Alfred Differ said...

@David | I like paragraph three, especially the part where each member must be local to the congress critter, but the fourth one triggers my libertarian concerns about Congress abdicating its responsibilities by delegating them. They already do it too much when they hand over regulatory authority to other agencies. The argument for it is they aren’t knowledgeable enough about subject X to properly regulate it, so delegation occurs. Your Fact Congress looks to me like the more of a delegation of their duty to discover the facts during investigations.

If you want to argue that they are already abdicating this duty, I’m inclined to agree. If you want to argue they are politicizing it, I’d agree with that too. The first bothers me more than the second, though, and I’m still pretty upset about the politicization that is going on.

This might all boil down to a name, though. ‘Fact Congress’ seems to imply they are doing the job Congress should do. I know paragraph four says they are not to usurp Congressional authority, but I don’t see how they won’t. Overseeing the restored OTA and OSTP would be a Congressional responsibility as well, so the moment there is conflict between the two congressess, authority is challenged.

I’m thinking Rachel Maddow would probably welcome a rebutter willing to face her in real-time. Of course, it would take some spine to do so. I think THAT is what is lacking in her opponents, so I think paragraph five is lopsided. No doubt that is the point, though, so I have no issue with it. 8)

Berial said...

@LarryHart

"When did that change? When did we enter a world where that guy in San Bernardino felt justified in killing attractive women because he was all of (gasp!) 22 and still a virgin? When did "no marriage, no relationship, give me sex" become the expected norm of entitlement? To conservatives for Chrissake!"

At a guess, I'd say about the time porn became so freaking easy to find on the internet that you basically CAN'T avoid it.

I'm serious. These guys can't get with a woman, so they take out their urges by watching porn. After a while just watching two attractive people have sex isn't 'good enough' anymore, so they start watching the real violent/weird shit. It just kind of takes off in their heads from there. They start thinking that what they are watching is 'real'. It becomes 'normal' to them, and yet THEY aren't living that way. They get angry and never even understand how crazy they've really become.

It doesn't help that they most likely are talking to others online. The get that whole 'bubble' thing going and again start thinking it's not THEM it's everyone else that's wrong, their buddies on that internet site say so!

Just my personal opinion, of course.

donzelion said...

reformed tourist: "In part, the problem is representative of the Big Data obsession that so many institutions suffer from - these include government, industry etc."

The 'Big Data obsession' has a simple justification: advertisers test it repeatedly, hundreds/thousands of times per year when selling products/services. We know ads + marketing systems influence behavior - but we also know that not one person whose behavior is influenced will ever acknowledge, "Oh, I just liked the ads for product/service X more than Y, so that's why I made that choice..."

When we think of 'political products' (with candidate=product), ads yield unreliable expectations: those products are 'bought' once per year, subject to far fewer tests, and never bought in a vacuum, but always affected cumulatively by a weight of experiences, including some utterly disconnected from the candidates.

I would have advocated a different methodology: assume incumbency drives outcomes more than any other factor, and thus require a heavier burden of proof to justify belief that a district is 'safe.' A poll showing 55/45 lead in PA or MI should be re-weighted in view of existing political balance of power in both states.

"It is time consuming and takes knowledge of nuance to do proper analysis,"
My "white witch meme" is one of those wrinkles that infuriates analysts: cute theory, how do I propose to measure it? My answer: we cannot use the same skills that work for countless ads with geckos selling insurance or toads selling beer, but we can assume that images are powerful and have unpredictable effects. We should assume images seen repeatedly have a cumulative effect: we should broaden our consideration to include LOTS of images that otherwise aren't taken into account when trying to identify preferences

I have yet to see anyone anywhere suggest this is an 'interesting' phenomenon, though this article comes close.

"The DCCC is a fine example. Their shortcut is to generally assume that a candidate in a contested primary who has raised the most money by a fairly early date certain is the one to back."
Perhaps...but again, generally, a candidate obtained that money through (1) inheritance, (2) marriage, (3) business successes, or (4) donors. Aside from inheritance, each of the others requires someone to do some amount of vetting...there are certain obvious costs incurred necessarily in every successful race: there are also needs to vet, and to do so quickly, which also costs time and money, both in high demand and short supply. Folks rely on a hope that others did sufficient vetting before climbing onto a bandwagon. Reasonable, predictable, and occasionally, subject to backfiring.

I'm cautious about blaming the DCCC: they fought a battle, didn't win, and haven't won much in a long time. That could mean they're corrupt and incompetent. It could also mean that the folks they contend against are far smarter, more fact sensitive (to revert to our host's meme) than we realize, and able to exploit intangibles more effectively than we give them credit for. These are not mutually exclusive premises, but it's worth our time to take the second seriously because they've freakin dominated most of the government for 22 of the last 24 years.

reformed tourist said...

donzelion -

Allow me to split hairs with both scalpel and axe.

In the retail world, the loss of a few tenths of a percent of sales is simply no biggie given the margins.

In my recently former (ouch) world, loss of life and significant property damage is at risk. A zero-tolerance policy toward accidents is the appropriate norm - what makes it work is a certain elasticity in that the last line of defense is the captain saying in real time, "NFW, it doesn't matter that the last 10,000 operations on this route yielded a statistical average of an 80,000 lb fuel burn with a 12,000 lb reserve -the current conditions IMO demand another 4,000 lbs or this a/c ain't turning a wheel." Having skin in the game MATTERS (h/t to Locum) to achieve the most desirable outcome even if the profit margin decrease somewhat.

In the world of electoral politics, the margins are similarly critical given the detachment of the electorate leading to the focus on GOTV, even though the packaging of the product (candidate) more closely resembles the retail environment. There are some salient differences, however.

Which (witch?) brings us to the case of the DCCC and the divergence from retail marketing, But first another divergence: If only this was the United States of Wicca things might be so different...

back to the DCCC. I'd argue that you've provided an "asked and answered"in your last 2 paragraphs. Part of the reason we are in the fix we are in is because of the Rahm Emmanuel school of thought and the enduring last gasps of Bill Clinton's Triangulation philosophy. It may have been appropriate to the times, but failed to evolve to fit changing circumstances. It also contributed to the gerrymandering problem.

The focus on money gave prominence to efforts like EMILY's List - bear in mind that EMILY is an acronym. What it doesn't provide for is the fact that a candidate A may enter a race earlier than candidate B who, I don't know, might not be able to due to things like the Hatch Act. Candidate A gets quite the headstart on fundraising despite being an inferior candidate. DCCC looking primarily at how much money has been raised/pledged at a relatively early date certain makes the wrong decision and starts putting its thumb on the scales which negatively impacts candidate B's ability to gain traction.

This is where the "microscope" of local knowledge, boots on the ground, intel is critical and is ignored or given too little weight.

Also, knowing the nature of how DCCC and other inside-the-beltway groups operate, there is a ever greater urge to "play the refs" and nationalize primaries as an ever earlier strategy. This leads to less than optimum candidates and less than optimum results (cf the last 20 or so years electoral history; more recently consider the TX-07 cl*st*rf*ck - as it happens I'm somewhat involved in one right now in the WA-08; check out Dr. Brin's recent facebok posting: https://www.facebook.com/thedavidbrin/posts/827083006896 ).

I'll cut it short there, but finish with the fact that the other guy has been smarter means not only that you have to try harder, but also a little self-examination is in order to determine if you are approaching and executing effectively.

The absolute final work is Yes, all politics is retail, but electoral politics is local retail - kinda brings us back to "skin in the game."

David Brin said...

Alfred, the Fact Congress does no legislating. It only argues and submits findings.

Sociotard asks an important Question: “So, our hosts standard recommendation in these cases is reciprocal transparency, something like the "Eye of Sauron Alert" facebook employees get when higher-access users access their account. I'm just not sure how that could apply here. Stop genetic testing companies revealing possible relatives unless they notify the relatives they've been revealed? and the relatives of the relatives who've been revealed?”

LEVEL ONE is to protect freedom and prevent relapse into the horrific hierarchies of whim rule and cruel suppression of creativity that dominated almost all human societies, illustrated in the novel 1984. Universal transparency and Sousveillance is the only way to do that.

LEVEL TWO: Supposing we do use sousveillance to prevent Big Brother… will society then by tyrannized by a homogenizing and completely legal/open rule by a nasty-judgmental 51% majority? “Social credit” as portrayed in fiction in that Black Mirror episode (‘nosedive’?) Or certain big nations are developing today? Transparency can cure this, too, but only if the majority shares a value system that extols tolerance, diversity, eccentricity and MYOB (Mind Your Own Business.) That value system would mean that the bullies aiming cell cams at the shy person, in THE CIRCLE, would get cameras aimed at them, and get called out as bullies, and told by their moms to back off.

It is possible for transparency to enhance privacy and leaving each other alone, if voyeurs fear being caught and judged for that.

LEVEL Three: Suppose we dodge the 1st two bullets. There’s still the GATTACA problem. That movie was brilliant. It portrayed a society that has actually struggled with the issue of predictive health genetics and tried hard to pass anti-discrimination acts… and still… people are free and have easy access to information about anyone, and you cannot police subtle discrimination. Hence the movie’s plot.

I don’t have an answer. But if we are sensible enough to evade the first two bullets, maybe we’ll grow up enough to dodge the less important third. Less important, because the first two might LIMIT OUR ABILITY TO RE-EVALUATE.

But if we’re free and believe in MYOB, then each generation can correct its parents’ mistakes.

David Brin said...


Carter made two mistakes, though one was the right thing to do - unleashing Paul Volcker to cure inflation with tough love… and letting the Iranian diplomate in the US fly home, under the assumption the mullahs would reciprocate under international law. He should have put them all in a luxury beach hotel and let the contrast stay on the news till the mullahs offered to trade.

===
“when they condemn the majority as 'deplorable' “

Liar. Sure, HClinton’s remark was a stupid thing to say. But she said “half of Trump’s supporters seem to come from a “basket of deplorables.” While a stupid statement, you should still give the whole thing.

“Call someone a monster long enough & they will oblige you by becoming one.”

No, that’s what YOU do. Confeds have been calling city folk and university people and all of us immoral monsters every day of my life…

…. while LBJ and onward we poured trillions into transforming “hillbilly” gap-tooth Deliverance counties into now decent places to live. Endless, endless lectures about “real America” and decent “not-city” folks, despite EVERY metric of actual morality… other than “street manners”… being better in Blue America. Yet, we took it and did NOT become “monsters” but remained rational and always willing to negotiate.

Yes, there were many things we blues did that stung. Giving red kids university scholarships (“stealing your kids”) was certainly the most traumatic. And yes, comics and movies sometimes abused with stereotypes. But none of that was systematically deliberate as the absolutely uniform and endless shouts that university/city folks are fakes and immoral persons.

Endless. Endless. And on and on and on and on forever and diametrically opposite of what statistics actually show.

Liar. But at least this time you told a truth… about yourself. Because we have taken that stuff for 80 years and are still willing (eager) to negotiate. Monsters don’t. Nor do republicans.

——
There is another truth buried in locum’s rant. Lefties who believe finger-wagging guilt is the only way forward are idiots.

locumranch said...


The 64-Dollar Question is "Who watches David's Unelected Watchers?" The Super-Duper Truth Police??

Alfred speaks out of his 'L Hole' when he claims that lying with "intent to mislead" is NOT protected First Amendment speech, mostly because human authority lacks the psychic intent-reading powers of the Grey Lensman. Except in court while under oath, of course, where lying would be illegal if & only if the anti-perjury laws were actually enforced on the mostly rich, powerful & female witnesses who are allowed to lie & perjure themselves with impunity.

Lying with the intent to mislead is the bread & butter of every major religion including Humanism. Until David's All Powerful Truth Police seize power, expunge all of those non-factual, figurative and metaphor-loving heretics & unbelievers, and apply their all-knowing 'Boot of Truth' to the face of deplorable humanity forever & forever, that is.

And, poor Berial, over-thinking the 'Incel Problem' and the UNFATHOMABLE reason why a mocked, abused & despised minority may harbour ill-will toward their perceived abusers. Let's educate poor virginal Berial by discussing the clear & present danger that HIS anti-social identity group represents to mainstream society for a while & see how he likes it.

Plus the so-called 'San Bernardino' shooter that Berial refers to (above) was a towel-headed Muslim Fundamentalist rather than an Incel, but placing the blame on the actual identity group responsible would represent unacceptable 'hate speech'. The recent incel-related crime occurred in Toronto & involved a minivan rather than a gun -- a properly LICENSED & legally acquired van, I might add -- leaving us with an urgent need to ban the sale & purchase of minivans ASAP if we are to prevent another tragedy.

Now is the time to come together -- we can and we will change the world -- by BANNING the Minivans of Death.


Best

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Call someone a monster long enough & they will oblige you by becoming one.


The reverse holds as well. Act like a monster long enough and someone will eventually notice and even mention that fact.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

These are the same people who feign shock & surprise when they condemn the majority as 'deplorable' ...


Hillary said "Half of Trump supporters belong to a basket of deplorables...". Forget even that the rest of her statement was about reaching those who aren't deplorable, which acknowledges that many of them aren't deplorable. By the definition of "half", she didn't condemn a majority. Not even a majority of Trump supporters.

reformed tourist said...

Locum -

Ah, Quis Custodiet ipsos Custodes!

If you first encountered that in Heinlein's Space Cadet as I did at a very tender age, then the answer is contained in that very book.

It was the intrinsic code of the Patrol. Did you miss the object lessons of those whose names were called at muster despite their not being able to be present in corporeal form? That those in attendance answered for them "HERE."

The FACT ACT includes, albeit in germinal form, exactly the safeguards you fear are lacking. The FACT Congress does NOT legislate, it reports findings. The IGs do not break down doors, the ensure that integrity is adhered to. And so on.

Again, what on earth or in space is disturbing about bringing OTA and OTP back into the process and enshrining them with protections?

I won't address your other notions as I fear we can find no common ground there as it appears that in those discussions we share neither common vocabulary or grammar.

But if you want to talk Heinlein, I'm all ears

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

but we also know that not one person whose behavior is influenced will ever acknowledge, "Oh, I just liked the ads for product/service X more than Y, so that's why I made that choice..."


I consider myself fairly immune to advertising. Ads may call my attention to something I had never heard of otherwise, but they don't seem to wear me down over time and cause me to buy something just because of the ads. Strangely enough, there are two exceptions to that, and both are cat food. Meow Mix and 9-Lives. I bought both of those because the commercials said my cat would love them. Also strangely enough, those ads didn't lie.


I'm cautious about blaming the DCCC: they fought a battle, didn't win, and haven't won much in a long time. That could mean they're corrupt and incompetent. It could also mean that the folks they contend against are far smarter, more fact sensitive (to revert to our host's meme) than we realize, and able to exploit intangibles more effectively than we give them credit for.


It's worth noting that the Republican and Democratic Parties are essentially playing different games. Republican donors are after a return on their investment. As long as they can expect their politicians to give them back more value in legislation than they're paying in campaign donations, they can donate virtually infinite funds. The same is not true of Democratic donors. They are typically advocating for causes that won't give them a financial return--in fact will probably cost money. So the amount they can donate is limited to what they have, not what they will "make" from the election.

It's analogous to that Star Trek episode, power vs "the lives of my crew."

donzelion said...

reformed tourist: Splitting hairs with those who care to see and think is a rare pleasure in this life, but not so rare here.

"In the retail world, the loss of a few tenths of a percent of sales is simply no biggie given the margins."
Indeed, and that's another reason why powerful tools in one context can prove inappropriate in another - but sometimes, we use our tools the best we can, fall short, and then learn to do better.

"Part of the reason we are in the fix we are in is because of the Rahm Emmanuel school of thought and the enduring last gasps of Bill Clinton's Triangulation philosophy."
I found Perot's role in '92 more important than the brilliant 'insider upstarts' in Clinton's camp. Many interesting possibilities - like the 'white witches' meme in Hollywood - will be shrugged aside: nobody's talking about it so it can't be important, nobody gets paid to think about such data...

But money is one thing everyone agrees is important. In my neighborhood, EMILY's list endorsed Tran (pediatrician, CA's 39th) and Porter (lawyer, CA 45th) - the DCCC took notice, but didn't jump on the bandwagon for either race so far, and indeed, in the 39th, backed Cisneros over Tran. Some Berniecrat activists are in a tizzy (do they really hate the DCCC so much? or is it that they were never really Berniecrats either, and just prefer to lose while guarding their turf? or are in someone else's pay?)

"the fact that the other guy has been smarter means not only that you have to try harder, but also a little self-examination is in order to determine if you are approaching and executing effectively."
Indeed, but also, a little humility while self-flagellating to avoid falling into depression. Our side is smart, competent, and very motivated. So is theirs. We should not assume that a person portraying a buffoon is in fact stupid (or fact-averse). If we do, we will keep walking into traps and getting our butts kicked.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

It is possible for transparency to enhance privacy and leaving each other alone, if voyeurs fear being caught and judged for that.


Yeah...er......ahem....

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "I consider myself fairly immune to advertising."
That's the most interesting aspect of advertising: most people also believe themselves immune. ;-) Whether that immunity is more or less true in your case, most of us actually are not. They don't work by injecting a message - but a feeling, a difficult to pin down experience with no logical basis, but which nevertheless causes slight tweak of a visceral reaction, and then, a behavior.

"Republican donors are after a return on their investment...The same is not true of Democratic donors. They are typically advocating for causes that won't give them a financial return..."
I think both Dem and Rep donors are looking for ROI, but the risk factors are different. If a Rep candidate is 50% likely to deliver a benefit, say a tax discount, then any reasonable Rep would donate up to $500k to acquire it. If Dems are only 10% likely to give them the same bonus, they'll donate $100k. Same applies to every other regulation that affects their business. That's one reason why you'll see corps donating to both sides - but substantially more to one side than the other. For those like Buffett who seem to be advocating for a tax increase on 'the rich' - he's still looking for ROI, just hoping to find it through good governance spreading wealth broadly (with him benefiting even more).

"It's analogous to that Star Trek episode, power vs "the lives of my crew."
Which one was that? It's been a while...

Jacob said...

~Who watches the watchers?~

Non-government watchdog groups which have security clearance to watch the watchers. The government agencies should be dealing with anonamized representations of people's data. They only lose their right to watch the watchers when they fail at MYOB. That is the thing they are trying to ensure government does as well excepting those very rare instances where criminal activity is happening.

donzelion said...

Locum/Alfred: "Alfred speaks out of his 'L Hole' when he claims that lying with "intent to mislead" is NOT protected First Amendment speech,"
Umm, if Alfred was referring to fraud, then he's right. Fraud has never been a protected form of speech. There are a lot of other types of fraud that are also unprotected speech (same goes for defamation).

"Lying with the intent to mislead is the bread & butter of every major religion including Humanism."
Their adherents, when they have a good faith belief, are still seldom guilty of fraud merely for invoking the authority of their religion. Also protected by the 1st. One of the tenets of our 1st Amendment is that we do not question 'good faith beliefs' too closely. That said, many a Quaker should have questioned the authenticity of Nixon's proclaimed adherence to Quaker ideals upon his enlistment, and thus, shouldn't have been surprised later on...

"Until David's All Powerful Truth Police seize power,"
Imagine a coup led by the People's Liberation Front of Judea in Life of Brian; put professorial robes upon them, and then panic. "How dare you deny my right to have children?" The problem of appointing a philosopher-council 'king' is that they'll most likely refrain from wielding power to pursue intriguing questions unrelated to power.

That said, so far, no one has rebutted my first and most obvious flaw in our host's proposal: what do we do when Liberty University mints 435 new 'doctors of creation science' and dispatches them to every congressional district?

Alfred Differ said...

@David | If oversight of OTA and OTSP doesn't involve hearings and subpoena power, that would sound better.

Hearings are what I'm looking at here. Not the act of legislating.

I get the need for a cruise missile name like 'Fact Congress', but I think it will cause you more trouble in the long run than the obvious concern with 'Ministry of Truth.' 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | Thank you. I didn't want to respond to an L-hole baited hook. I WAS thinking about fraud and locumranch has done the same thing many times. It's flat-out weird that he would bend a definition for 'lie' and 'lying' to defuse the damage fraud does in order to defend his political stance.

Okay. Altemeyer said they do this, so I'm just seeing another example I suppose. I'm not a big fan of strict adherence to dictionary definitions myself (because each entry is an iceberg tip), but I thought he was. I thought that would be one thing he wouldn't abandon.

David Brin said...

"Who watches David's Unelected Watchers?" The Super-Duper Truth Police??

Try actually reading the actual posting. Reciprocal and competitive process is what every single article is about. What's your solution to the tsunamis of lies? Oh. Yeah. Not a bug, but a feature.

In fact, traditional societies called lies among the worst sins.

Jon S. said...

That's why I gave up even trying to read anything loco writes, Alfred. There's nothing he won't abandon in defense of his prejudices.

Berial, I've been known to view pornographic materials from time to time - a bit more often since my wife's increasing degree of fibromyalgia has cause us to be literally "incel". And I've found that the same old stuff still suffices to get my interest; if both parties (or all parties, in some cases) aren't pretty clearly engaging in their activities by mutual agreement, and enjoying it thoroughly, I'm not watching it. (I'm not shaming those who feel the need for more, just debating this idea that watching porn will inevitably lead to the "need" for more and more outrageous stimulation.)

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

First of all, I was going to respond earlier, but someone's cat decided to take on a skunk, and lost.


If Dems are only 10% likely to give them the same bonus, they'll donate $100k. Same applies to every other regulation that affects their business. That's one reason why you'll see corps donating to both sides - but substantially more to one side than the other. For those like Buffett who seem to be advocating for a tax increase on 'the rich' - he's still looking for ROI, just hoping to find it through good governance spreading wealth broadly (with him benefiting even more).


I get what you're saying, and maybe the delineation is not specifically between the parties as I stated. But the point was that oligarchs or corporations who support an agenda that increases their bottom line get to treat political support as a profitable investment. Those who support social justice, equality for the powerless, and that sort are more limited in the support they can give, because there's no monetary payoff after they win.


"It's analogous to that Star Trek episode, power vs "the lives of my crew."
Which one was that? It's been a while...


Sorry, I thought I had beat that one to death recently. The episode in which an alien sets Kirk, Spock, Abraham Lincoln, and Surak of Vulcan against Ghengis Khan and some other villains. The alien wanted to understand the difference between good and evil, and at the end of the episode, he complained to Kirk that he saw no difference in the way the "good" side and the "bad" side fought. Kirk asked what the alien had offered the villains had they won, and the alien said it was what they wanted most--power. Kirk retorted by means of explanation, "You offered me the lives of my crew."

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | Liberty University mints 435 new 'doctors of creation science'

That might actually help get some incumbents booted, so I'm all for it. Politics is local so a local embarrassment should have political consequences.

I'm pretty sure that is why David used 25% as a cut-off for getting action on certain things. Even if many of those 'scholars' get chosen, it isn't likely more than 75% will be seated. If that ever happens, we have much bigger problems.

Alfred Differ said...

@Jon S | Yah. He also said he wanted to engage in scientific debate, but that hasn't gone anywhere either.

I have to wonder if he enjoys being beaten up verbally. Gets off on it. Ya know?

Where is Rorschach when we need him?

gerold said...

Duncan: "The Dems never ever hold GOP politicians responsible after they leave office!"

Yeah it's kind of annoying. There is this exaggerated respect for high-prestige, high-power positions and the individuals who fill them. So in a sense, it makes sense not to go after presidents for their crimes/blunders. A lot of Americans wouldn't support that sort of Monday-morning quarterbacking.

For me, Cheney and Bush should be spending the rest of their lives in a cage after what they did in Iraq. They killed untold thousands of innocent people, and destabilized the middle east. It seems pretty clear to me why they did it too; just look at how the price of oil was affected by the Iraq invasion. Before it was about $20/barrel; the invasion pushed it to $150. Look at the profits of the oil companies during the Bush term.

But most people don't see it that way. Maybe they believe there was sincere belief in WMD's. Or W was trying to get revenge because "Saddam tried to kill his daddy." Maybe they just can't stand the idea that an American President would fuck up the country, kill untold thousands, and destroy the balance of power in a highly sensitive part of the world just to funnel money to his cronies in the oil biz. For whatever reason, going after a president seems to be a non-starter here.

Note also that in your typical tin horn dictatorship the tyrant will cling to power til he dies. He knows his successor will come after him. That's a problem too. There are good reasons to chalk it up to experience when a president fucks up. But Trump may change that calculation. This moron needs to be held to account.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

I have to wonder if he enjoys being beaten up verbally. Gets off on it. Ya know?

Where is Rorschach when we need him?


Heh. But the irony is that loc fashions himself as Rorschach. His bit about refusing to help when it is inevitably asked/demanded of him is straight out of Rorschach's musings on the very first page of "Watchmen".

LarryHart said...

Leonard Pitts tells us what we already know, or at least what I've been saying here for some time. It's a good response to certain posters here who insult, misrepresent, and slander us, and when we react as one might expect, use that as an excuse for their own misanthropy.

Bold emphasis is my own...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-pitts-trump-supporters-understanding-0508-20180506-story.html


This is for Rose.

She is a nice lady who wrote me a nice email in which she spoke about the need to try to understand Donald Trump’s supporters. As Rose put it, “We need to not close ourselves off to how the other side thinks.”

It’s a sentiment I hear a lot from progressives, and it bespeaks a great generosity of spirit.

But I couldn’t disagree more.
...
So while it is admirable to think “understanding” can fix this country, it is also naive. Progressives should ask themselves: When’s the last time you heard any Trump supporters talking about the need to understand you? You haven’t — and that ought to tell you something.

Here’s the thing: The rest of us have the moral high ground here. We see the same demographic writing on the wall that Trump followers see, but where it makes them angry and fearful, it leaves us energized.

Many of us are excited to see the nation that will arise from this cauldron of change.

That’s because the idea of change doesn’t threaten us. It will challenge us, yes, but we’re ready for that. We know that this is a big country, big enough for many different kinds of people, many different ways of life. We know what it means to live and let live. And we know that welcoming the stranger, caring for the stranger, is simply what you do as a human being.

I submit that those are core American virtues. And that now would be an excellent time for progressives to exhibit a little courage in their defense. Trump followers see a nation in demographic peril, so they seek a nation where those who frighten them can be regulated into irrelevance. There’s no big mystery about that. There never has been.

So no, they don’t really need to be understood.

What they need to be is defeated.

LarryHart said...

Spit take of the day. Presented without further comment:

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/May07.html#item-7

Donald Trump may not win a Nobel Prize anytime soon, but he is nonetheless set to be commemorated with a Mount Rushmore-style monument. A group in Finland is raising $500,000 in order to carve a 115-foot likeness of the Donald they call "Mount Trumpmore." By way of comparison, the faces on Rushmore are about 60 feet tall, so Trumpmore will be twice as bigly as the monument to those sad losers Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Jefferson.

That is the good news for the President. Now, the bad news. The carving will be made on the side of a glacier in the Arctic. The Finns who are organizing the project expect, with good reason, that Trump's face will melt quickly. This, in turn, is meant to draw attention to global warming and to the President's anti-science stance. So, it's unlikely that any of the $500,000 will come from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. On the other hand, given all the backbiting and leaking in the White House, maybe they'll get quite a few donations from that address.

locumranch said...


David says that "In fact, traditional societies called lies among the worst sins."

He's a TRADITIONALIST now? Talk about being hoisted on his on progressive petard.

So quick to discard the outdated rule of morality,, so quick to call out the conservative as the hypocrite when they fail to adhere to their much mocked & outmoded moral code, so quick to believe himself incapable of hypocrisy when he expects others to adhere to a morality that he has designated for the rubbish heap.

Everything is permitted when there are no rules, even the stuff that you designate as yucky.


Best
_____

Trump is a monster because he lies, but other liars aren't monsters if their lies are 'positive', so the act of lying does not make one a monster, but Trump is a monster because he lies, and around & around we go.

Berial said...

@Jon S.

I also never read Locum anymore. I've seen no evidence it's worth my time.

As for the porn view, I'm not against porn, and I don't think it inevitably leads to anything. I just see that there is a 'path' in there, that some guys get lost on. I mean I don't like the stuff personally but SOMEONE is watching all that violent/degradation porn and I can't see how massive doses of that stuff can be good for them. (Everything in moderation ya know.)

locumranch said...



Or, how about this bit of circular hilarity adapted from Larry_H's Chicago Tribune opinion:

Progressives are moral free-thinkers because we like change. We have the moral high ground because we have the courage to change the rules. Conservatives are those who resist change, are required to abide by the rules & are immoral because they resist change. The rule is that the immoral conservative must abide by rules and the moral progressive must not. Change is courageous for the progressive but cowardly for the conservative. This rule must never change, except it has.

We are all progressives now.


Best
____

Berial sums this up when he says "I like porn, there's nothing wrong with porn, except when other people watch it, then porn is bad, but only for other people, because rules that apply to other people do not apply to special people like me." Forever clueless, he has literally no idea about what's coming.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "So while it is admirable to think “understanding” can fix this country, it is also naive."

I have to disagree with the pundit you've cited: understanding is the key to defeating an adversary, an ancient theory, arising from Sun Tzu, through to Stephen Covey's 'seek first to understand, then to be understood' - premised not upon a goal of being kind, but of attaining power.

"Progressives should ask themselves: When’s the last time you heard any Trump supporters talking about the need to understand you? You haven’t — and that ought to tell you something."
It does: it tells me that in certain cases, we can prevail against them as they will never see us coming, and never understand what came at them or how. If we are strong when they think us weak, they will be ill prepared.

"And we know that welcoming the stranger, caring for the stranger, is simply what you do as a human being."
There are a lot of reasons to care for the stranger: benevolence may be compelling to some, but as has been pointed out earlier in discussion about public donations etc., the more compelling reason has long been 'self-interest.' Caring for the stranger, and for certain strangers more than others, is a means of growing power immensely. We do so, not looking for gratitude or loyalty, offended by strangers who fail to comply and scratch our backs later on, but with a very reasonable expectation that the stranger that makes themselves strong will be more likely to support and protect us than to seek to oppress us.

That is the crux of a very solid line of reasoning about AI, and ought to be the crux of our reasoning about Trump's people. Not because of kindness, but out of confidence in what works, and why.

donzelion said...

Alfred: "That might actually help get some incumbents booted, so I'm all for it. Politics is local so a local embarrassment should have political consequences."

Problem is, once they appoint Dr. 'God made Man' to a federal position on a congressional committee, he'll use that position to attack biology in his local high schools, and when he does, he'll do so with an added element of power as a result of his position. He'll do this even if he otherwise claims to 'hate' the government.

Others inside and outside his district may conceive him as an embarrassment, a 'fake scientist.' But a high school teacher challenging his claims about biology will do so with far lesser means at his disposal.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: Ah, the "Savage Curtain." I flit in and out, depending on workload, and had missed your earlier invocation of that episode's message. There are quite a few different cases in Star Trek where similar choices have been presented.

"First of all, I was going to respond earlier, but someone's cat decided to take on a skunk, and lost."
Hope that's not your cat. Poor kitty...

"the point was that oligarchs or corporations who support an agenda that increases their bottom line get to treat political support as a profitable investment. Those who support social justice, equality for the powerless, and that sort are more limited in the support they can give, because there's no monetary payoff after they win."
And it is a good point, one I've also made. The possible of payoff in the latter seems to be more remote, unpredictable, indirect: yet when a union donates, they may have hopes of ultimately helping the union - far more immediate, predictable, and direct benefits they hope to see, as well as longer-term benefits. Every 'issues based' donor has some agenda behind their donations: most assert some 'intangible greater good' benefit, but such assertions may be taken with a degree of salt.

I'd lean on "reformed tourist's" experience there, if he cares to put it forward. I do not see any side as 'wrong' - but only, it is very predictable that one side will derive the greater benefits from a particular sort of donor, and the other would do well to learn what that means and handle the outcome. Until we do, we'll keep getting beaten by them.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

LarryHart: "So while it is admirable to think “understanding” can fix this country, it is also naive."

I have to disagree with the pundit you've cited: understanding is the key to defeating an adversary, an ancient theory, arising from Sun Tzu, through to Stephen Covey's 'seek first to understand, then to be understood' - premised not upon a goal of being kind, but of attaining power.


There are two meanings of "understanding" at play here, or at least two connotations.

I totally agree with you when we're talking about "comprehending what motivates them to do as they do." I agree with Leonard Pitts when we're talking about "feeling compassion and sympathy toward what motivates them to do as they do."

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

"First of all, I was going to respond earlier, but someone's cat decided to take on a skunk, and lost."
Hope that's not your cat. Poor kitty...


Yeah, that was my cat. He had three shampoos with various household chemicals before we'd let him loose in the house. Hopefully, he learned the lesson to stay away from skunks, not "I'm gonna find that skunk and show him what for!"


"the point was that oligarchs or corporations who support an agenda that increases their bottom line get to treat political support as a profitable investment. Those who support social justice, equality for the powerless, and that sort are more limited in the support they can give, because there's no monetary payoff after they win."
And it is a good point, one I've also made. The possible of payoff in the latter seems to be more remote, unpredictable, indirect: yet when a union donates, they may have hopes of ultimately helping the union -..
...
I do not see any side as 'wrong' - but only, it is very predictable that one side will derive the greater benefits from a particular sort of donor, and the other would do well to learn what that means and handle the outcome. Until we do, we'll keep getting beaten by them.


We're mostly in agreement and arguing over fine-tuning, but I still feel the need to clarify my point.

I also wasn't saying one side is wrong*, just that it's understandable why one side has more access to financial resources than the other.

And yes, liberals also expect a benefit for their political support, but it's not so immediate or monetizable that they can give large amounts of cash and expect to quickly more-than-recoup it. The financial investment that they (we) make in politics has to be more of a long-term one, which means I can't give my mortgage money or my daughter's college fund to Bernie Sanders.

* One side is wrong, but I wasn't saying that. :)

reformed tourist said...

donzelion & LarryHart -

First, it's nice to be asked to weigh in. 2nd, it seems odd that I keep having the same conversations in different venues...perhaps that says more about me: in a rut, single-minded, one-trick pony, obsessed - need to get a life?

In any event, Corporations doing something that supports social justice are still mindful of a profit motive, no matter what. They have to be if they are publicly held. A closely-held one can do as it pleases, though I doubt the profit motive is very far from the minds of the owners (there are exceptions, I recall a moderate size business owner who paid his employees out of his own pocket getting some press during a recession some years back).

The case of oligarchs et al acquiring political support/power is self-evident, though not always to everybody. Back to my favorite unfortunately not-dead horse, the Gulf States air lines (I just happen to know that case history too well).

The basic facts are they do not operate on any rational short, medium, or long term model. They are (and must be) subsidized through a variety of hidden means. They are wholly owned by the heads of states of their respective countries (though there are "companies" involved, it all devolves to the ruling families. The airline sector is one of several very diverse massive investments that the Gulf States have made in the past 20 years. The payoff on these investments using a financial metric is in the range of 10 - 30 years+ to achieve nominal returns.

Why and what does this have to do with the political question?

The answer is that it is all about political power and relevance. Internally, these oligarchs ARE the political power, but in order to maintain their status, to remain players on the world's stage, they must look externally. With petrodollar related revenue curtailed (they never had that much oil - most of the wealth came from industry support activities) and the fact that historically, these states have always been the trades of the region, they are following their tradition and expanded their horizons.

In the case of the airlines, they have bought, cajoled, and bribed (let's just call that last a term of art, for now, rather than a criminal accusation) their way into countries, knowing that they would be losing money at market prices on the services they offer. They have bought up so many widebody production slots from Boeing and Airbus such that they directly influence the other carriers' acquisition plans. In short (?), they are trying to control the entire sector though a variety of channels. That makes them relevant. It also has a profound effect on both the short and long term interests of the US in particular, specifically economic impact and national security interest. Curiously, both have been downplayed greatly due to the GWOT as a beard, for the most part, and the extraordinary amount of money they dispense to buy good will: a hospital here, a playground there, a junket for a major city's officials to attend a DC lunch, or a visit to the mystic Arabian Gulf, contributions to various "trade" associations and the odd 501c3, etc etc. Nothing out of the ordinary except the scale.

And then there's this: https://tinyurl.com/y8e3s9s9

And this: https://tinyurl.com/yaodhkmd

The Gulf states (the UAE in particular) is intent on playing a long game, though current events and exposure are creating both opportunities (Trump) and stumbling blocks (exposure). It took the commissioning by several other airlines of a private international forensic accounting/intelligence effort to document exactly what was going on among the conclusions was that the the ME3 as they are called were being provided subsidies well in excess of $50B/yr - probably closer to $70B and perhaps more - the results were provided to Obama's WH, though Langley either already knew or should have known.

-see next-

reformed tourist said...

-continuing-

There's more to the story, but the deal is these guys are already RICH. They're Oligarchs. They want to keep on being Oligarchs. Some of them and their sons went to LSE, Harvard, Wharton where they made really smart friends who now work in Geneva, London, Hong Kong, New York, etc. and helped determine what the path should be through the 21st century. Money and Politics, Politics and Money. Same Same from their POV.

As a link to Labor, let me just mention that the loss of every major international long-haul route (US carrier unable to compete against subsidized fare), kills off and/or negatively impacts roughly 1500 US jobs - mid to high income jobs...

Trade Unions are different - some are sophisticated in their approach to public policy and some not so much. Donzelion is dead on in his reply to LarryH. Part of the problem is most union's membership is focused on the issues of the present and holding grudges of sins visited upon them in the past. The institution has the obligation to take a longer view, but then you have the problem that such institutions tend to become self-protective and yet they are democratically structured governance bodies. The latter means that the leadership has to constantly consider how to maintain internal political power while still properly allocating efforts toward public policy.

Complicating the issue for union leadership is the same trumpian phenomenon in some of their membership (and among some of the leaders!) e.g. people holding diametrically opposed opinions on union function and government function.

Rather than prolong this, I'll sum up by saying that it really comes down to accountability systems as much as anything else. Companies and Oligarchs are inherently different than governments and unions QED their approach to acquiring and wielding political power is significantly less restrained in virtually every way (as long as they don't get caught or revenues drop dramatically causing a cash flow problem).

reformed tourist said...

apologies for the perhaps over-long post...

David Brin said...

Reformed tourist you are very informative.

====

He's a TRADITIONALIST now? “

Poor illogical unable-even-to-read. I said that even traditionalists like you should deem lying… and gambling, infidelity, domestic violence, STDs and all the things led by Red America, to be undesirable. You are the one yowling that “everything is permitted.” You are the one offering no solution to the tsunami of lies. Because they are your food and comfort.

Defending gambling, adultery, child-molesters, and lying... gawd what hypocrites.

“Trump is a monster because he lies, but other liars aren't monsters if their lies are 'positive', so the act of lying does not make one a monster, but Trump is a monster because he lies, and around & around we go.”

His lies are disproved the instant he speaks. The ones you point out have mostly (mostly) never been proved, because you have no people left who know how facts and proof work. Benghazi!!!!!—

locumranch said...


The unifying theme here is that human beings, politicians, preachers, unions & oligarchs are all motivated by secondary gain: We want to win, dominate the industry, achieve our goals & frustrate our opposition and, at least according to Sun Tzu, our tools to this end include the promulgation of lies, falsehoods & misdirection.

All competition is war and all war is based on deception.

Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.

If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him.

If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant.

If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them.

Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.


Ergo, we must assume that David's aversion to lying liars is false and his proposed 'Fact Police' solution represents deception.

Like most humans, he desires secondary gain: He wants to flee the tyranny of Earth; he wants to journey freely among the Stars; he wants humanity to become as Gods; and he is quite willing to lie, deceive & dissimulate in order to achieve these goals. As am I. On this we can all agree.


Best

reformed tourist said...

Thank you, Dr. Brin.

I'll work on pith.

tRump. Well, one can hope that the level of revulsion and outrage causes the Resistance to overcome and surpass, achieving a Re-enlightenment more wondrous than the first.

In the meantime, in the dark of night, strangely apparent at high noon today in the wake of tRump's...er, remarks, I find Puck's closing lines in Midsummer Night's Dreams somewhat comforting.

So, does the invasion come first or the DC parade?

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Heh. Lots of dweebs think of themselves as Rorschach. Most would never have the stomach for that life, let alone be able to survive it for long.

Rorschach wouldn't argue with us. He would know he is right, we are lost, and wouldn't bother talking sooooo damn much. 8)

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

LarryHart: "I consider myself fairly immune to advertising."
That's the most interesting aspect of advertising: most people also believe themselves immune. ;-)


Oh, that's just a load of rich, creamery butter!

:)

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | When Dr ‘Man made God’ is appointed, wouldn’t something similar happen in reverse? My experience with local teachers is they are a mixed lot when it comes to their politics and world views. Appoint me to such a position, and I might have a thing or two to say about textbooks and what qualifies AS science. Whether that was part of my official duties or not, I might try to push a rather secular view of things arguing for a divorce between church and state.

It is also my experience with K-12 science teachers that they are more about being educators than they are about being scientists. Some of them are pretty weak when it comes to understanding what science is probably because they are taught to be educators first. I’ve had to help some early college students unlearn some crap fed to them in HS. This is a big enough and wide enough problem that I seriously considered turning my attention (years ago) to physics education in order to do battle with pure educators. I held back from taking up the cause, but one of my textbooks IS partially written. What that means is I’m only partially inclined to defend them from religious nuts. They have their own brand of zealotry (as do I), so I’m not drawn to their cause.

Of course, if a reasonable HS science teacher actually ASKED for a defense from the local nut, I think they’d get it from many of us. I don’t see how that changes whether David’s Fact Congress exists or not.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | I consider myself fairly immune to advertising.

Ha!

One of the oddities of modern times is some believe they are fairly immune and others believe we basically can't help but be persuaded. I suspect the truth is in the middle somewhere and varies depending on what the argument being pushed is.

The right woman with appropriate curves and a silky voice can persuade a lot of guys to do something they might not otherwise do.

An image of the right 'Them' sporting an angry expression can provoke your amygdala in 50 ms flat.

They question isn't whether you'll respond. It is whether you will extinguish your initial response.

reformed tourist said...

All right - slow day, so

Advertising, presentations, briefings etc. all meant to persuade an audience.

TV and radio, you got 60 second slots, tech/ed video: max 20 minutes, closer to 7 minutes preferable; internet.. whatever.

In person (my thing as a lobbyist, union rep/chair, instructor/check captain), you got your elevator pitch - 45 to 90 seconds; or by appointment/assignment you got effectively 30 minutes minus commercial breaks (distractions) leaving the need to structure around 19 minutes of rapt attention - though in the work environment (like a simulator pre-brief) you can effectively double that as people's jobs may be on the line... And the elevator pitch is meant to get the 30 minutes at the earliest opportunity.

So, here is Reformed Tourist's Sitcom/Soap Opera Theory of Presentation, satisfactorily tested on members of the Senate and House and their staffs, regulatory agencies, trade and union councils, union members, and company management and so on - never did the WH as that's normally reserved for the President or CEO of the union or company.

Fundamental - lead off devoting as much as 90% of the available time convincing the audience that you share their biases; that you are just like them, that you appreciate and despise the same things, you feel their pain and delight in their joy.

Yeah, that time is well spent even though it leaves about 3 minutes tops to introduce the new material/meme, whatever you want to get across. You may not cover everything in detail directly, but that's why you brought the dec to leave with them (helps if it follows the Alice's Restaurant recipe with circles and arrows on the graphics - lots of graphics). Oh and email them a .pdf/.ppt copy on the follow-up thank you.

Just like a sitcom/soap - the point is to get the viewer to tune in again and get hooked on the story arc. If you do it right, they'll call you back by phone, or better yet back in person to clarify/expand - then the ratio gets reversed if you're lucky, otherwise you have to incrementally reinforce the impression that you're on their side before getting into it.

Doesn't matter if you're dealing with Phds, JDs, XYZs, bottle washers - effectively everybody alive has been conditioned to these time frames and concentration factors.

When you do the elevator pitch you do about 2/3 appeal to bias and 1/3 "hey, we should talk about this - can we set up some time."

It's always about getting the foot in the door, the camel's nose under the tent, getting the customer into the brick&mortar retail store to look for something that ISN"T at eye level on the rack.

On the other hand, sex and envy always sells... (is this gonna get Locum going again?)

Alfred Differ said...

@reformed tourist | I used to lead (for a short time) a 501(c)3 that had a few people who wanted to get political. They created a sister 501(c)4 organization and would lobby congress critters. The coaching material they developed for new zealots sounds a lot like what you describe. Whether it was 90/10 or some other mix on the first visit depended on whether they were simply educating or pitching a particular bill or vote, but the front end of a visit was always about demonstrating knowledge of what their constituents cared about, dovetailing into what THEY cared about, and then getting to how we wanted to help them look good, smart, and all that. Education pitches were mostly about defending what their constituents had that they might not know. Vote pitches were always about what they might have. If we could get one of their constituents in the room giving the pitch, even better.

Lots of pitches were intentionally aimed at staffers who kept the lists of who they could tap when they needed to know something. Not talking to the actual congress critter was perfectly fine (and expected) on the first few attempts. The plan was always similar to ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.’ Staffers consume the bulk of what goes into the office. You know the pitch is working when it comes back at you in a distilled form from someone higher up in the office.

I stayed on the 501(c)3 side and avoided DC, but I did try similar work in Sacramento through a different organization. It was fun watching staffers try to digest our opening line. “We aren’t here to get you to put money into X or vote for Y. You need to know Z and I’m one of your constituents who will tell you.” Like all ads, one simply MUST have an opener that invites participation. 8)

Steven Hammond said...

Locum Ranch said:

"The unifying theme here is that human beings, politicians, preachers, unions & oligarchs are all motivated by secondary gain: We want to win, dominate the industry, achieve our goals & frustrate our opposition and, at least according to Sun Tzu, our tools to this end include the promulgation of lies, falsehoods & misdirection."

and....

"All competition is war and all war is based on deception.

Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near.

Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.

If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. "


Ergo, we must assume that David's aversion to lying liars is false and his proposed 'Fact Police' solution represents deception.


Hmmm...this seems to be a magnificent example of Game Theory and I find that others already recognize this as inherent in Sun Tzu as well. (quick Google search) Sun Tzu presents ONE strategy. I think Dr Brin has another and given his emphasis on transparency, I think it's pretty much out there. (Dr. Brin Stategy: I present the truth the best I can based on scientific evidence if possible and weaker evidence if need be. I have definite biases that I admit to and you can see in my writing. I hide nothing)

Ohhhh, he may be a "vewwy racally wabbit" and you may be right about a hidden agenda but let's not go down that conspiracy theory type "rabbit-hole" for now. (Ha ha. I can't help but laugh at my own jokes)

Anyone have any other thoughts on game theory and the whatever game we're trying to win? Is it the second American Civil War? Might be a useful way to think about this conflict and some expert on Game Theory could (perhaps) identify various strategies various groups are using and which are most productive. (Re-reading Dawkins's The Selfish Gene just brought this all to mind--shoutout to Gerold E. if I remember correctly)

David Brin said...

First, "no collusion!" distracts from the blatant fact that hostile foreign powers wanted Donald to be president, burst veins with joy when he won, and celebrate as daily he dismantles every institution we used to win the Cold War. That matters! The celebrations are open, but confeds don't care, since Fox kvells that Putin is a great guy.

Second, not a single accusation against the Clintons, across 25 years and half a billion $ in investigations, ever reached the levels of proof that we get re Two Scoops... DAILY! No Clinton or Obama high official was ever convicted or even indicted for malfeasance, while Goppers are dropping like flies daily. Yes, daily.

Third. Cripes. What kinds of smoking gun do you need? See this news, below. Confeds would wave away a bullet in their own belly, if they saw Trump shoot them face to face.

Are there any Eisenhower or even Reagan Republicans left in America? Sure. Maybe 10%, Like McCain. But are there any with actual guts? Those left the sinking ship long ago.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/08/us/politics/michael-cohen-shell-company-payments.html

David Brin said...

reformed tourist... interesting.

I prefer the nickname "Two Scoops." First, it's not rude on the 1st layer, Second it makes people pause and think.

And the image is a spoiled brat who bragged about only serving his guests one scoop of ice cream. It paints a picture that is less partisan/mean than sad over a pathetic narcissist.

Tony Fisk said...

Insofar as the name game has any merit, I use the term "resident": it remains an accurate description, while taking the pee out on him.

Alfred Differ said...

@Steven Hammond | Which game it is depends a lot on whether one expects to play once or repeatedly. In a repeating game, sound strategies can radically change depending on how often one plays and how much learning carries from one iteration to another.

When I see people quoting Sun Tzu for American politics, I start from the position that they might not understand what the Liberal experiment actually is. It is a repeating game where we grant each other some basics like dignity and freedom and strip them only if someone demonstrates an unwillingness to play the game. The game started a few centuries ago and underpins our Enlightenment civilization. It isn’t a war game because it is typically positive sum when played properly. War is negative sum even if violence doesn’t break out.

At a minimum, locumranch doesn’t understand the game. I think it more likely that he understands part of it and sneers at it. Maybe he used to play it, but now he is unwilling. Someone damaged him and his trust in the game we play is gone.

Game theory is a neat area of study, but when one applies it in economics and interesting thing happens. One gets to see how VERY many dimensions there are to the problems being studied. One also gets to see how chaotic the solutions are. Small changes in seemingly tiny directions can make huge differences in what qualifies as a sound strategy. It’s a wonderful tool to explore what is possible, but I don’t see much value in it for fashioning predictions beyond the simplest, highly reduced/compressed problems.

Steven Hammond said...

Alfred Dlifer said:

When I see people quoting Sun Tzu for American politics, I start from the position that they might not understand what the Liberal experiment actually is. It is a repeating game where we grant each other some basics like dignity and freedom and strip them only if someone demonstrates an unwillingness to play the game. The game started a few centuries ago and underpins our Enlightenment civilization. It isn’t a war game because it is typically positive sum when played properly. War is negative sum even if violence doesn’t break out.

Thanks Alfred! That's an excellent start. I would say, however, that "unwillingness to play the game"--assuming that there is a game being played--is a "strategy" in itself. you are quite right in pointing out the differences between one off games and repetitive games in the effectiveness of various strategies as John Maynard Smith (popularized by Dawkins) pointed out in regards to evolution.

The "game" we're currently "playing" may or may not be simple (it probably isn't) but a simplified version using Game Theory may actually be helpful in working out political strategy in the current American political scene on the national level at least. I tend to lean against reductionism, but it's worth at least modeling this current conflict and seeing what comes out of the model.

I do think there may be some value in modeling this conflict in the form of a game with various strategies. You could look at identity politics from right and left perspectives as one strategy, Misinformation/lying from oligarchs as another, transparency/truth as another, acquiesce/"not playing the game" as another.Other strategies are present and feel free to add to them.

If we do view this through the lens of game theory, we have to decide what "winning" means. Is it a biological thing--more offspring of one group or another? is it political-Victories in elections by one group or the other. Is it intellectual--acceptance of ideas by a majority? I would propose that real victory would be a cultural one.

Changes in culture are not easily dislodged. Cultural are ingrained. These changes would make us scowl at any feudalist or oligarch lord in a movie, make us see people as individuals and judge them accordingly (and seek to see underlying factors that mitigate that judgement as well. We do need to get out of the business of moral judgement of individuals (at least) IMO. I know this bit is difficult and moral judgement is the bread and butter of any polemical argument Hitler etc, etc) but.. well give me good arguments about what moral weakness means and where it comes from and I'm happy to listen.

reformed tourist said...

Steven H * Alfred D -

Agree that game theory absolutely applies with no disrespect intended to Sun Tzu, or Mao, for that matter. Unfortunately, and not wanting to seem elitist, I find it depressing that so few appreciate the difference between positive and zero-sum outcomes.

Beyond that, the complexity that rapidly becomes evident in modeling - think it was Alfred up thread who mentioned the apparent chaotic expressions that rapidly appear in economic cases - overwhelms many.

Back to personal experience, I've been struck by the reflexive thinking I've seen displayed by former Gentlemen-by-Act-of-Congress dealing with non-military matters (think contract negotiations). It's like they forgot or slept through the classes I know were part of the curriculum at the National War College that they proudly state they attended. Guess it depends on the context...

MIni-Max solution sets seem to be difficult for a lot of people to grasp - the Traveling Salesman Problem becomes confusing very quickly.

About the easiest concept is the Spanish Prisoner as just about everybody has watched enough cop shows to grasp that one.

Interesting, though, that despite the near universal familiarity of that basic game theory expression, it still seems to work in real world criminal justice proceedings... One suspects that Michael Cohen Esq. is making the calculation even as we scribble on this comments string.

Alfred Differ said...

Choosing not to play is Strategy Z. In a repeating, mostly positive sum game, it is the sure strategy to relative impoverishment. Lots of 20th century world leaders chose this path for their people (while opting for a different personal one) and caused them to be left in the dust to starve while the Great Enrichment occurred everywhere else.

The Liberal Game involves mostly free trade, mostly democratic approaches to governance, mostly constitutional approaches to legislating, and mostly open access to education. It is a system of partially overlapping markets (Commerce, Democracy, Justice, and Knowledge) that has issues, but mostly gets along on the desire the participants have for it to succeed. It is liberal in the classical sense in that it is a 'liberal order' that emerges from behaviors of mostly free people, but designs of no one in particular.

Many authors describe aspects of the game, but it is like the elephant to blind men. It is many things and too big to encompass. It can be written about for readers, but it is better understood by living it. Like languages, one becomes fluent.

There is value to modeling parts of it as sub-games. Several English phrases depend for meaning on these models. Prisoner's Dilemma. Ultimatum Game. Conflict of Interest. Countless more social institutions rely, even without shared languages being available, on the people involved learning the rules as they go. People manage to trade, choose and follow leaders, agree on some of what counts as bad behavior, and share what they know without knowing how to do it all in advance or even having a spoken language in common. The more they iterate, the more they build the language they need and expand their understanding of what the rules appear to be.

The Liberal Game is distinguished from the Feudal Game by how flexible, permeable, and flat social hierarchies are allowed to be. During England's Civil War, Levellers wanted to flatten society in the sense of eliminating many of the privileges of birth. We've adopted much of what they wanted later. Many dissenters wanted flexibility so they could hold their own religious opinions and form their own churches that are still around today. Barrowists would have separated Church and State establishing interleaving social hierarchies. The real 'liberal' activity of that century, though, was occurring in the Netherlands. It was im/exported to England (later Scotland) after the Glorious Revolution/Invasion. The Dutch were getting very rich and the English were getting very envious.

Winning at the individual level depends a great deal on how the gains and losses are described. How much does one count religious freedom as compared to having a viable income? How much is the avoidance if famine and plague with each generation worth in Dutch guilders of the time? What counts also depends on who gets to count what counts. As with anything larger than a family unit, it isn't likely that people will agree on what counts let alone how much. We agree on many things, but not on the value of things. If we did, there would be little incentive to trade, after all.

Winning at the civilization level is a bit easier to measure, but still depends on large scale agreement among people. Reductions in poverty, famine, disease, and war probably count for a lot for many of us. Maybe they don't for exploiters, though. If you make a living as a war lord, you are probably a fan of two of the horsemen in Revelations while the rest of us would like very much to wipe out you and and your lineage.

From where I sit, though, the population of the world has grown a little over 10x since the end of the 17th century. Abject poverty is vanishing. Famine is too. Diseases of many kinds have suffered mortal blows and one is extinct. War is becoming downright unfashionable. If the world is supposed to end in the manner described in Revelations, their horsemen might not even be able to limp onto the field of battle. Ours, however, are becoming accomplished at coordinating action. That's a win.

reformed tourist said...

Alfred Differ -

Very nicely and comprehensively put!

One quick comment - you state: "The Liberal Game is distinguished from the Feudal Game by how flexible, permeable, and flat social hierarchies are allowed to be."

I'd suggest that the primary distinguishing difference can be put somewhat more concisely in that the Liberal Game is intrinsically inclusive, while the Feudal game is explicitly exclusive.

You conclusion jibes nicely with our host's. The overall vector has been one of progress and progressive social thought and relationships, much of which can be attributed to peaceful and positive technological developments and their integration into political economy (cf hunter-gatherer to agricultural to industrial to informational...).

These transitions have concomitant perils associated with finding a new balance point, including the newly achieved capacity for self-extinction, along with the Malthusian specter of population growth beyond sustainable levels.

I tend toward the notion that any effective survival strategy has to consider physical realities coupled with the requisite political/economic factors attendant to a successful social animal as an ecological exercise (definitely game theory).

History's vector is positive which strongly suggests a "win-in-progress," we just have to keep dodging the bullets of our own devising.

The game? I think our host recently penned a book titled "Existence." That pretty much does for the species as a whole. For the individual, the urge for food, shelter, procreation, and status among the group will remain as organic elements of our psyche (unless we adopt technology to modify our primeval drives). That's the genesis of all the games mentioned above.

One might say that to re-imagine/engineer society in a more utopian image, we have to re-imagine/engineer ourselves. Do we then risk no longer being human. Does it matter? Might be a book in that - anybody know an author who could handle that premise?

Oh wait,

gerold said...

Alfred Differ: "The Liberal Game involves mostly free trade, mostly democratic approaches to governance, mostly constitutional approaches to legislating, and mostly open access to education."

Yes - though I prefer to contrast Liberal and Despotic social models as meritocracy versus privilege. Free trade, rule of law, representative government and open access to education - the Open Society model - results in a system where individuals are able to rise to the level of their ability. Despotic systems are all about stacking the deck. whether it's an hereditary aristocracy, racial stratification, or Party Membership, despotic systems give preferential treatment to the in-group.

That is a big part of the Trump appeal of course; old white people who miss being privileged on the basis of racial affiliation heard Trump as their Pied Piper. He was supposed to be their Fearless Leader, restoring the Good Old Days when a White Man could get a little respect around here.

Privilege systems are inherently unstable. The privileged group becomes corrupted, and talented individuals are pressed-down instead of being co-opted to defend the status quo. Somethings gotta blow.

This Culture War between the Authoritarian Right and Progressive Left can only end one way. See "Why Liberals Win" by Stephen Prothero for examples. If you thought the 2016 election was nasty, check out Jefferson/Adams in 1800.

gerold said...

reformed tourist: "For the individual, the urge for food, shelter, procreation, and status among the group will remain as organic elements of our psyche (unless we adopt technology to modify our primeval drives)."

I know what you mean.

But let me tweak you comment slightly; there is another factor in play, at least with regard to our status instinct.

The instinct is certainly there. See _Sociobiology_ by Wilson for an excellent survey of hierarchy in social species. It's a powerful organizing principle, and hardwired into our psyche. But anthropology teaches us that we don't need technology to modify our primeval drives. Social conditioning does that very well. Look around you. Look inside yourself. Our instinctive drives have been heavily modified already. They're still there of course, but behavioral modification is alive and well.

A lot of that modification has been very damaging to human health and sanity. Some of it is necessary. But a lot of it is obsolete, although conservatives fight to keep it. No matter how sick it makes them.

But there is a very interesting behavior mod that has been adopted willingly by the most advanced among us; advanced in terms of knowledge, integrity and ethical standards. A big part of what we call Enlightenment consists of the voluntary suppression of our status instinct. By refusing to play the status game, we improve our own life and also the quality of society.

reformed tourist said...

Might be redundant, but meant to add that the Liberal Game provides for at least a potential Positive Sum outcome, while the Feudal Game has a virtually certain Zero Sum result, barring an immortal Philosopher King, and perhaps even then.

reformed tourist said...

Gerold -

Think we're saying the same thing in slightly different ways. You are, of course, correct with regards to behavior mods and cultural conditioning. Perhaps I wasn't sufficiently clear in that regard.

What I probably should have stressed is that it is the creative conflict between innate biological imperatives and volitional restraint that provides for the possibility of both social/technological innovation, but also brings with it the danger of neurotic/psychotic behavior (discounting organic damage).

Can't make an omelet without breaking eggs, 'less you develop nano tech and build to suit.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Guys
I will give you my "Contrarian" view

Yes the Dutch/Scottish/American experiment with liberalism and trade has accompanied a huge advance in our mastery of the world and has resulted in a massive improvement in human lives

But was that mostly due to the social and "economic" changes - or were they a minor part and was the main improvement due to us reaching a critical mass in engineering (and science) knowledge

So much that we do depends on a huge amount of prior knowledge - in the 18th century suddenly engineers could access all of the tools and materials that then enabled them to actually do things
Until then they could not actually make that much difference

Was this linked to the Dutch/Scottish/American experiment with liberalism and trade? or was it actually independent of that

Alfred Differ said...

@reformed tourist | I would argue the Feudal Game is also inclusive, but with you in your Place. We've done a lot of what the Levellers called for, but the biggest is we've found a way to let people move up or down a bit. Most don't. The few who do usually don't move much. We are still strongly attached to an SES hierarchy, but we are NOT as rigid and impermeable as we used to be. Many of us don't even believe in 'a place' for ourselves, though we might still for Them.

I suspect the Feudal Game is slightly positive sum. The evidence is that our population grew at a rate higher than during our earlier existence as nomadic HG's. The growth rate was way below the fertility rate, though, so it got consumed by babies as Malthus described. That changed just before the industrial revolution, so just how positive the sum was likely jumped wherever the population exploded. Charting the early transition to higher children/mother ratios probably matches where the transition between the two games occurred.

There are a lot of stories to be told about how we've redefined ourselves and what it means to be human. We've done it a few times in the last 1,000 generations. We are in the midst of doing it again right now. Even non-transcendent stats show it. Has there ever been a time since the ice melted when a lower percentage of humans lived in its own filth? Sounds terrible when stated that way, but it is closely related to our effort to get clean drinking water to every human on the planet. It used to be relatively easy when there were less than 7.5 million of us, but now there are 7,500+ million of us. Can we do it and remain human? Pfft. People granted dignity and freedom need little more than what they already have to be motivated to find a way because they already have all the emergent orders built by 1,000 generations. Those two small grants enabled a new human game. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@gerold | I'd agree with a small quibble. We are MORE meritocratic than our ancestors, but not in a huge way. We are still very attached to our SES hierarchies. Giving up even a little bit of it, though, appears to be good enough to make a big difference. I'm all for experiments were we abandon more of our dumber ideas. 8)

and talented individuals are pressed-down instead of being co-opted to defend the status quo

On this, though, I disagree. Talented individuals have usually been co-opted by our feudal overlords. If you look at a small slice of science history right before Galileo, Mechanics was being developed by Italian noblemen who wanted to batter down the fortresses of other noblemen. The Intelligencia knew who buttered their bread and They Served. Innovation was encouraged, but IN service for the purposes defined by the Patron. Sure... there were exceptions, but not many and not for long. There is a reason innovation flourished among the Dutch and then the English and then the Scots. It has more to do with a weakened nobility and church than an unstable order ready to blow.

Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan | But was that mostly due to the social and "economic" changes - or were they a minor part and was the main improvement due to us reaching a critical mass in engineering (and science) knowledge

I'm not sure there is a good distinction to make here, but McCloskey argues for a social change occurring first (dignity and liberty) and knowledge following along quickly on its heels. I'm inclined to agree with her if only because knowledge historically hasn't caused dignity and liberty for people. Humans can be obstinate that way. Think how far back Slavery goes. 8)

Everything we do depends on prior knowledge, but what motivates ME to add more to it, hmm? Treat me like dirt and I'll turn into mud with every rain. Not much new knowledge to be created that way. Treat me decent, though, and I might be happy. Grant me dignity to try something, fail, and try again and this happy dude might invent a better mousetrap while happily playing at something else. Liberate me and I might do it all intentionally.

Happiness is a manufactured thing, but dignity and liberty are key ingredients.

reformed tourist said...

Alfred D -

Gotta take some exception to the notion that Feudalism is a slightly positive sum game, though I do smile wryly (as best I can) at the general statement re "... the Feudal Game is also inclusive, but with you in your Place."

If the only metric is the QoL has improved to the point where a higher birth rate constitutes a Positive Sum, I'd have to argue that a finer distinction has to be drawn as to what/when part of the Feudal Game's manifestation is being discussed. The Low and Mid middle ages were marked by a loss of knowledge, squabbles (a benign descriptor) over right of accession, and the stifling of innovation, either directly or through restricted migration of ideas. It's not referred to in non-academic circles as the Dark Ages for nothing.

Your citing McCloskey to Gerald re social change vs knowledge sequencing is supportive of the distinction I suggest. Though, I'd quibble a bit as I think it is a little of a 2nd order chicken vs egg argument.

Human existence, social evolution, and knowledge development all depend largely on 2 elements: 1) the ease of acquiring sustenance and shelter, which leads to 2) sufficient "leisure" time to contemplate other things than scrabbling after sustenance and shelter.

Granted, plainly the focus of (and perhaps the driving force in intellectual capability) was improving the scrabbling. The social construct that began with tribalism, transitioning naturally to feudalism (it's always about the Alpha, even now, though very difficult - strike that, let's go with impossible - for a plurality of us to accept Trump as Alpha) has as it's main attraction to the non-leader member is perceived greater safety in numbers and familiarity. The inherent imperative of leaders in a tribal/feudalistic governance model is to maintain the downward pressure on the fiefdom, The shaman/court astrologer/alchemist labored in relative isolation with limited product to show for their efforts.

Wasn't until such developments as Magna Carta and the Cromwellian upsetting the apple cart that significant advances again became more widespread (late middle ages) and the speed of advance increased proportionately to Feudalism losing its grip. As an aside, I quite love the Daniel Waterhouse character in Stevenson's Baroque Cycle - reminded me of Tuchman's use of Enguerrand de Coucy's travel diary as a focal point of A Distant Mirror.

I'd argue further that the struggle against Feudalism is central to all human history, with the exception of when a group (tribe/nation state) is gripped by confusion and fear where a strong man is sought to save them. It is this instinct that gave rise to and maintains the old standby of scapegoating (Alarm!
Alarm! The Boogeymen are coming, No!, They're Here - drop a knee to me and I will save you) to acquire and maintain power that is so favored by would-be feudalists, no matter the name they choose to call themselves.

Gerold's contrast of meritocracy vs privilege is key in this argument. Meritocracy embodies the individual struggle to "do better" which mirrors the biologic compulsion to survive in a way that potentially benefits all (potential Positive Sum). Privilege is about maintaining and enhancing status. Certainly the privileged may employ/support "meritocrats," but largely limited to (pardon the repetition) maintain and enhance the privileged's status. A much lesser goal with fewer general beneficial effects likely (potential Zero Sum).

LarryHart said...

With the completely disingenuous withdrawal from the Iran deal, the #LugenPressident makes explicit what was getting clearer all along, that the nominal conflation of the terms "President of the United States" and "Leader of the free world" no longer applies.

It was bad enough when Kim Jung Un appeared to be the more sympathetic character in a contest with the occupant of the White House. I never thought I'd live to see the day when the same would apply to Iran.

To badly misquote Michelle Obama, I've never been less proud of my country as I am today.

occam's comic said...

Larry
Wait until the senate approves the torturer and evidence destroying war criminal as the head of the CIA, with the support of at least some democrats.

donzelion said...

Alfred: I'd look further back. Prevalence of mills, well marked by the time of William the Conqueror and noted in the Domesday book, show considerable change much earlier than the late or even middle middle ages.

But I am not actually challenging your and reformed tourist's points, nor defending feudalism. Slow growth, relative to liberalism, is pretty much guaranteed. The point, rather, was to consider why feudalism endured, why it is attractive to so many even now, when liberalism is so self-evidently superior in so many ways. There are very few folks advocating the abolition of cars and asphalt for horses and cobblestones today. But feudalism itself has so many adherents looking to revive it in some form that the "liberal game" remains underway only with considerable effort.

Steven Hammond said...

donzelion said:


The point, rather, was to consider why feudalism endured, why it is attractive to so many even now, when liberalism is so self-evidently superior in so many ways. There are very few folks advocating the abolition of cars and asphalt for horses and cobblestones today. But feudalism itself has so many adherents looking to revive it in some form that the "liberal game" remains underway only with considerable effort.

That's a very interesting question. I wonder if many of the adherents of "feudalism" in the political sense are actually more "medievalists"? The attraction to medievalism is much more apparent, I think, and continues in so many ways in popular culture. Medievalism

LarryHart said...

occam's comic:

Wait until the senate approves the torturer and evidence destroying war criminal...


With all due respect, I think what Trump did yesterday was worse, and could actually end up putting us on the wrong side of World War III. In a stroke, he alienated our strongest allies and partners in world order, hurt many American businesses, insured high gas and oil prices, gave Iran an excuse to go nuclear again, made Israel less safe, and demonstrated once and for all that America's word isn't worth the paper an oral contract is written on. All in exchange for what? Ramping up for a shooting war with Iran? This is massive carnage with literally no upside.

This administration, including the Republicans that rode in with it in congress are going to continue creating real harm to this country while the news media treat politics as a sporting event on which to gather excitement over who wins and who loses. The only possible benefit to all this (and I'm not sure it will happen) is that liberals and Democrats take the lesson and once back in power, run roughshod over them as they did to us and fuck 'em if they can't take a joke! Like this, perhaps:

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/May09.html#item-6

A long-standing Senate practice has been to allow senators to veto judicial appointments in their home states. The senators of the state(s) in which a potential judge would have jurisdiction were given blue slips on which they could approve or veto the nominations. This was never a formal rule, but a very long-standing tradition. In a Senate hell-bent on confirming as many conservative judges as possible, the rule is dead as the dodo.

...

Of course, what is happening here is that Trump and his party are putting short term gain ahead of long-term pain. It is true that the conservatives Trump appoints will linger for a long time; three or four (or even five) decades in some cases (the most senior judge currently serving, Manuel Real, was appointed by LBJ in 1966). However, it is also the case that federal judges retire at the rate of about 45 per year. In recent years, Republican presidents have tended to favor fire-breathing conservatives (think: Neil Gorsuch), while Democrats have tended to favor moderate choices more likely to make it through the process (think: Merrick Garland). Not universally true, but generally true.

What this means is that the GOP doesn't have as much space to move the judiciary rightward as the Democrats have to move it leftward. And perhaps as soon as 2020, the Democrats could have the trifecta the Republicans currently enjoy. When that comes to pass, get ready for a stream of young, left-leaning judges—30 or 40 or 50 a year—so pinko that they make Lenin look like Ronald Reagan. We shall see how, for example, Alabamians feel when key judicial matters are being decided by a 35-year-old black lesbian atheist from San Francisco.


donzelion said...

Steven Hammond: On the contrary, I think 'feudalism' in one of its manifestations is far more intriguing than medievalism to most of the ilk seeking to restore it.

I don't entirely share our host's view of an ongoing feudal/liberal 'civil war' in 8th/9th/10th phases, but definitely see aspects of feudalism at work in both the 'confederacy' - and outside it. By feudalism, I refer to the 'big recurrent themes' - hereditary power structures displacing competitive structures, hierarchical power systems of allegiance defining one's place in society, opacity, anti-competitive markets, etc. Today's manifestations do not really seem tethered to any 'medievalist' tradition: they are 'evolved,' but only slightly.

I acknowledge the power of such themes today, in part to avert accidentally falling into the 'progress fallacy' - the view that evolution = progress, and thus, old/out-moded ideals and ways of doing things will obviously be defeated in time as they march to extinction.

occam's comic said...

Larry
I wasn't arguing that the War Criminal nominate to lead the CIA was worse than pulling out of the Iran agreement, I see it more as a "cherry on top" -- making something horrible even worse.

For a long time I have been expecting a counter attack to the horrible stuff that the US does around the world, it seems to me that Trump is that counter attack against the US. Trump is Putin's Revenge. Trump is destroying America's soft power, we are now seen by increasing portions of the world as untrustworthy, irresponsible and dangerous. His economic tax cut policies are making sure that debt is funding ever grater parts of the government.

Putin might use the coming conflict with Iran to test the new Russian hypersonic anti ship missiles. Might we see how vulnerable air craft carriers are.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: re Trump's renunciation of the Iran deal -

WWIII is unlikely. More likely, mounting tensions between Iran & Saudi Arabia raise costs for both of them to extract oil (or rather, costs for both of them to raise capital to keep extracting oil at the same rate/cost/profit levels) - making their oil relatively more expensive compared with American or other oil (and thus, oil holdings in America substantially more valuable, as well as holdings in Russia).

Russia's position is ideal: they can denounce the end of the Iran peace deal AND reap all the profits if oil prices rise.

As for 'blue slipping' - I vehemently disagree with this claim in your link:
"What this means is that the GOP doesn't have as much space to move the judiciary rightward as the Democrats have to move it leftward."
Not so. Not so at all. If only this were true!

locumranch said...


Alfred, reformed_t & gerold's detour into game theory and the difference between repeat & one-off play has been extremely enlightening, plus it offers the means to communicate the warning that I have so far failed to communicate:

In the EU & US, conservatives and progressives are now playing different games.

While the progressive is still trying to play the repeat 'win-win' positive sum civilisation game which (as Gerold argues) can "only end one way" with progressive victory, the conservatives have changed to the one-off poison pill tactics of brinkmanship & are now playing 'conservatives win OR we all lose'.

That's exactly what happened in 2016 in both the US Republican Primary & the US Presidential Election: The conservatives BELIEVED the progressive claim that the pending demographic shift would ensure progressive victory for ever & ever, and this belief forced the conservatives to abandon the repeat game approach & embrace Trump's scorched earth 'one-off' approach in order to secure perhaps the LAST conservative victory ever.

Prior to that shift in tactics, the conservatives tried to play the confederate Secession Gambit, a variant of ultimatum game, the rough equivalent of threatening to turn over the Monopoly board unless both sides agreed to change the rules to facilitate repeat gamesmanship.

Of course, the progressives who still believe that their eventual victory is assured by the current rules refused to change to rules more favorable to conservatives, so the conservatives threw out that rule book unilaterally, hoping that progressives would respond with their own Secession Gambit as they have done most obligingly in California, which is EXACTLY the outcome that conservatives now desire.

I speak for my Red State brethren when I say that we now desire a whole NEW game with different rules wherein EVERYONE LOSES and, as David often points out so gleefully, the left-behind Red States have much LESS to lose (in terms of economic prosperity, comfort & bragging rights) than the much more successful Blues States do.

Ergo, the progressive Blue States now have few choices:

(1) They concede to demands for a Red State-favorable rule revision IF the Blue States desire an ongoing repeat civilisation game, or

(2) The repeat 'win-win' game ends & the one-off 'lose-lose' game begins, one way or another, by either mutual or unilateral rule change; or

(3) Both sides continue to raise the stakes until one or both sides blink.

Say what you want about the Trump doffus, but his team understands Minimax strategy as the placement of national guard troops on the southern US border is 'win-win' as far as conservatives are concerned:

(1) It's a conservative victory if this strategy SUCCEEDS by reducing illegal immigration;

(2) it's a conservative victory if this strategy FAILS & discredits federal authority;

(3) it's a conservative victory if some smuggler shoots at the national guard & proves the 'real & imminent' immigration threat: and

(4) it's a conservative victory if the national guard slaughters some innocents as this occurrence will also discredit federal authority.

As David has told you often, the same goes for the Impeachment Trap, as either successful OR unsuccessful impeachment will represent a conservative 'win' (and a federal 'loss') for all the reasons detailed above.

The rules of the stale old 'Progressive V Conservative' game have CHANGED, people, and the progressives have only brought a knife to what now is a gunfight.


Best

donzelion said...

LarryHart/Occam: Trump shrugged aside the CIA as "the folks who misled us about Iraq's WMD, Soviet Union's collapse, etc." - then promoted the exact people responsible for one of our most dramatic intelligence failures. He wants to promote an obviously problematic candidate for the simple fact that her problems make her dependent upon him. Mid-level corp managers often promote low-level managers with known, egregious flaws for similar reasons: those guys have to be loyal, and can be dumped at will.

I would probably object to torture even if it 'worked.' However, since it failed dramatically, ridiculously, massively, demonstrably, 'bigly' - on every measurable level (except to the extent it strengthens an enemy movement) - I don't even need to rely on mere 'principles': why reward what fails, unless the goal is to fail more, and bigger?

"it seems to me that Trump is that counter attack against the US."
Nah, the 'counterattack' was the invasion of Iraq, a ploy to turn American folks with $5 bn to oligarchs with $50bn (and more importantly politically, to convert local, rural feudal lords with $5-10m in assets into 'powerbrokers' with $50-150m; there are lots more of these folks manipulating Congress today than in 2000). With all cameras directed at Trump, we overlooked how the balance of power shifted at the grassroots.

"we are now seen by increasing portions of the world as untrustworthy, irresponsible and dangerous."
We are often untrustworthy, frequently irresponsible, and obviously 'dangerous.' Have been for 100 years now. That's not changing. What is changing is the increasing 'ineptitude.' Europe blossomed post-WWII in part because America was seen as pragmatic - occasionally clumsy, but generally, pragmatic/realistic, with self-correcting measures in place that made us unlikely to stumble in quite the idiotic way that would result in WWIII (we came close several times, but we pulled ourselves back). Bush Jr. challenged that view. Trump confirms the skepticism.

matthew said...

With the new revelations regarding Russian payments to Cohen, it is once again germane to point out that none of the Steele Dossier's allegations have, so far, been disproved. In fact, bit by bit, we are seeing evidence that they are true.

With new facts in hand, I once again ask our resident conservatives "What sort of proof of Russian Blackmail / Criminal Conspiracy would suffice for you?" Tim/Tacitus? Ent? Locumranch? Alfred (who thinks the President is still legitimate, if not innocent)?

I'm very curious to hear what level of proof would suffice to make Trump a) a traitor b) illegitimate c) a criminal?

To my very progressive eyes he has passed all three of those states. I would like to hear opinions on a,b,c from other political viewpoints than my own.

In my circle of personal acquaintance I see either none or all three (abc). Basically, no proof will ever be enough or no more proof needed.

Oh, and I'm still standing by my prediction that midterms 2018 vote will be massively disrupted or canceled if the "blue wave" appears to be happening. Right now it's looking more like a "blue ripple" if polling is to be believed.

matthew said...

And, good post Locumranch. First time I've ever said that, I believe.
I disagree with your zero-sum game, but you state it very clearly.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

WWIII is unlikely...


I hope you are right, but I can imagine Syria as the new Sarajevo--some flashpoint in which the US is drawn in on the side of Israel and Russia on the side of Iran. Even worse if Europe becomes involved, and if that happened, I don't think they'd be on the same side we'd be on.

Even without war, though, the damage to our reputation and ability to lead is so destructive that it is impossible (for me) to imagine it is not deliberate. Trump-supporting Republicans and voters have now gone beyond treason as a metaphor to the actual thing.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

I would probably object to torture even if it 'worked.' However, since it failed dramatically, ridiculously, massively, demonstrably, 'bigly' - on every measurable level (except to the extent it strengthens an enemy movement) - I don't even need to rely on mere 'principles': why reward what fails, unless the goal is to fail more, and bigger?


As mentioned previously, I just this past weekend watched a high-school play of 1984. Thus, I can restate O'Brien's explanation that the purpose of torture is torture.

Information, deterrence, retribution, those are all ostensible reasons for engaging in torture, but those are more accurately described as excuses. The impetus for engaging in torture is for a certain type of person who enjoys being as cruel as possible to others. As with Dick Cheney before them, Trump and his base clearly fit that mold.

LarryHart said...

matthew:

I'm very curious to hear what level of proof would suffice to make Trump a) a traitor b) illegitimate c) a criminal?

To my very progressive eyes he has passed all three of those states. I would like to hear opinions on a,b,c from other political viewpoints than my own.

In my circle of personal acquaintance I see either none or all three (abc). Basically, no proof will ever be enough or no more proof needed.


Well, those people most likely already know that Trump really has done all of that stuff. They just don't care. More evidence of what they already know and don't care about won't make them care more.


Oh, and I'm still standing by my prediction that midterms 2018 vote will be massively disrupted or canceled if the "blue wave" appears to be happening.


While I'll grant you much leeway in the predictions department, you having correctly predicted Trump's election while I was still sure Hillary would get 400 electoral votes, I have to be skeptical of this one. First of all, the paranoid on both sides insisted that first Bush and then Obama were sure to cancel elections. It just doesn't happen.

More importantly, there is no Constitutional mechanism for cancelling elections. So if they managed somehow to do so, it would instantly brand them as illegitimate. Rather than hold onto power, they would give (say) California and Chicago and Colorado the excuse necessary to openly defy federal control. We wouldn't even have to secede from the Union, as there'd be no more legitimate federal government to secede from.

LarryHart said...

...and to be fair (to me, I mean), you did sorta flub the "Trump will be gone in 100 days" thing. :)

donzelion said...

Reformed Tourist (and Alfred): gosh, hard to keep up with the conversation; Alfred had already made a point I thought worth making, albeit in a very different way. Still, if I may contribute to a developing theme...

"I'd argue further that the struggle against Feudalism is central to all human history,"
If you add the qualifier "all RECORDED human history," I'll concur. 'Feudalism' is merely 'institutionalized tribalism' - it's a creature of the last 6000 years or so, but non-institutional tribalism is older still and goes back far further. Institutionalizing feudalism required new tools - writing, math, agriculture, many others. These are massive 'gains' on a civilization level. Positive sum. Just not as positive as the more recent concept of 'liberalism.'

LarryHart said...

locumranch is correct when he says that conservatives will destroy us unless we give them everything they demand. I say we get them first. A single victory in 2018 or 2020 is no longer sufficient as they will certainly upset the chessboard and do anything possible to harm us should they lose power. We have to render them incapable of such.

This time, the head must be severed and buried at a separate crossroads.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "Thus, I can restate O'Brien's explanation that the purpose of torture is torture."

If and only if a world order could actually be built based on institutionalized terror, then could the 'purpose of torture be torture' - as Orwell was proposing such a world, such a conclusion fits naturally within it. In our real world, this is unlikely to persist: we have many other struggles at work, and numerous contending needs and emotions unrelated to terror. Temporarily, "torture" or "rape" might be justified by sadists for their own sake: but we do not remain in such states indefinitely.

Given that, I do see two separate impetuses (impeti?!) for torture within our system as it actually operates:
(1) a role in an internal battle for primacy among insiders to prove loyalty (I love the president/king so much I'll torture others in order to prove my loyalty),
(2) a role in an internal gambit for primacy that involves influencing external actors (torture the minorities so that they rise up, the better for us to deport/depopulate them all and take their holdings cheaply)

For military, torture is counterproductive (trace the growth of violent opposition to American control in Iraq to the Abu Ghraib incidents); for intelligence, even more so (producing woefully unreliable intelligence at best). But an American leader who actually wants an enemy killing Americans may condone torture - the loss of a few disposable troops helps that leader achieve their ends in America.

donzelion said...

"locumranch is correct when he says that conservatives will destroy us unless we give them everything they demand"

They won't. Oligarchs (who may manipulate conservatives, but probably aren't actually conservatives themselves) might try, but even they want what we offer. If they feel a need to 'defend marriage' against the the 'homosexual threat' - it's never because they fear homosexuals will actually rise up and threaten their marriages, but always because they want to divide benefits a certain way, primarily for their benefit. This is why they'll never kill off the scientists - they want subjugation, not extinction. We're immensely useful tools to them, so long as we don't threaten their designs as much as we enable them.

"This time, the head must be severed and buried at a separate crossroads."
Humph. I'd make the far less threatening claim, but more realistic one: let the multi-billionaires decline to being mere billionaires. Their designs do not help the nation, liberal or conservative. We do.

matthew said...

LarryH- I don't think that outright cancellation of the midterms is in order (unless the voters are in the streets numbering millions).

I do think that if a "blue wave" is coming, there will outright attacks on either voting infrastructure ("Delete the voter register, comrade. Delete them all!") or other critical systems ("Turn off all the power to the blue states, tosovarich!").

If I were Putin, I would meddle *heavily* in support of the Democratic wave, and do it in a clumsy manner ("Yessir, adding 25,000 more registered Garcias to the rolls in central South Dakota. I'll add in the Gonzalezes next.") to give the Locumranches of the US some excuse to find the new government illegitimate and take up arms.

And, yes, I did say 100 days. Back when I still thought there was such a thing as a good Republican. There are none.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

Given that, I do see two separate impetuses (impeti?!) for torture within our system as it actually operates:
(1) a role in an internal battle for primacy among insiders to prove loyalty (I love the president/king so much I'll torture others in order to prove my loyalty),
(2) a role in an internal gambit for primacy that involves influencing external actors (torture the minorities so that they rise up, the better for us to deport/depopulate them all and take their holdings cheaply)


I think you're ignoring option (3) demonstrating dominance by exercising naked power over inferiors. This is what Orwell was getting at, with the same passage describing torture also asserting that "power" is embodied in the image of a jackboot stamping on an upturned human face. Forever. And this is what appeals to the bullies who comprise Trump's base, including the evangelical hypo-Christians. They love being mean, and Trump makes it socially acceptable to do so.

Also, I think you're misrepresenting the motive behind your option (2). Torture of minorities is not to make them rise up, but to keep them in their place. From the KKK to the subsequent lynch mobs to the rise of Naziism, this is painfully obvious.


For military, torture is counterproductive (trace the growth of violent opposition to American control in Iraq to the Abu Ghraib incidents); for intelligence, even more so (producing woefully unreliable intelligence at best). But an American leader who actually wants an enemy killing Americans may condone torture - the loss of a few disposable troops helps that leader achieve their ends in America.


Again, I agree with the first part. Torture doesn't "work" for any of the excuses typically given for using it. It certainly "works" to make neutral observers into enemies, if you want to call that "working". But it also works to desensitise Americans and make us into something evil.

Furthermore, as pointed out on WCPT radio back in the Bush era, torture is an excellent method for producing false confessions and false intelligence which can then be used to justify doing whatever you already wanted to do. I think it was Randi Rhodes who connected the dots between CIA black site torture and the FOX-reported rumors of all sorts of terror plots involving things like model airplanes and cows back around 2004.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:
This is why they'll never kill off the scientists - they want subjugation, not extinction. We're immensely useful tools to them, so long as we don't threaten their designs as much as we enable them.


I believe German Jews thought something similar in the 1930s. I hope you're not as tragically wrong as they were.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

And, yes, I did say 100 days. Back when I still thought there was such a thing as a good Republican. There are none.


Just pointing out that your predictions aren't infallible. I hope that's as comforting to you as it is to me.

locumranch said...


Larry_H said "locumranch is correct when he says that conservatives will destroy us unless we give them everything they demand. I say we get them first".

Good!

Use your aggressive feelings, boy. Let the hate flow through you.

I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your weapon! Strike me down with all your hatred, and your journey towards the dark side will be complete!

Your hate has made you powerful.

Now, fulfill your destiny and take your father's place at my side!


How predictably ironic for them to squeal "We must destroy our town to save it" !!

You may as well save you breath, Donzelion, because these progressive piggies have already donned the farmer's clothes, transformed themselves into the oppressive authority that they once claimed to hate & recapitulated 'Animal Farm'.

So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day, Nothing gold can stay.


Best

locumranch said...


Or, these power-crazed urban progressives could demonstrate emotional maturity, engage in actual 'positive sum' compromise and offer disenfranchised US & EU rural resource providers a new deal, increased autonomy & a living wage.

Ridiculous, I know -- I tell funny -- I kid because I love.

Cue appropriate theme music, 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic', 'Onward Christian Soldiers', 'La Marseillaise', Culture Club or whatever floats your boat.

Best

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

How predictably ironic for them to squeal "We must destroy our town to save it" !!


How predictably ironic for you to confuse self-defense with aggression. You yourself said "Conservatives win or we all lose". Well, you ain't winning, so the only options less are suicide or preventing you guys from harming us. I choose the lives of my crew.


Jon S. said...

When Alfred describes Trump's presidency as "legitimate", I believe he's using the term in its legally proper context; that is, Trump was elected to office with a majority of the electoral votes, and while there appear to be some severe, ah, irregularities in regards to election-finance laws, there is no compelling evidence to believe that the vote itself was tampered with. He was freely elected, because he was able to either purchase or be given enough airtime to convince people to believe his lies.

(Note: there appears to be a manufactured controversy here over that word as well. For reference, "lies" are deliberate falsehoods that are intended to deceive observers into believing that which is not true - that is, that which contradicts observable reality.)

Thus, his presidency, while in many ways illegal (aforementioned funding violations, multiple violations of his oath of office, etc), is still technically legitimate - he was actually elected, even if under false pretenses.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "I believe German Jews thought something similar in the 1930s [that Nazis would not execute them all because they needed them]. I hope you're not as tragically wrong as they were."

Not an exception, but an illustration that fits the theory: Jewish scientists were never exactly useful to a Nazi state once Nazis defined themselves as 'not Jews.' The more they enriched a Nazi overlord, the more they discovered, competed, and contributed, the greater the threat they posed to claims of superiority.

Categorically distinct from the role of scientists among conservatives today. Their goal is far closer to the feudal intent of denying science to the public, and reserving its benefits to themselves. Plenty of feudal lords had no interest whatsoever in science and rejected them from their courts, but they did not hunt down and destroy them all, and more often, respected the 'learned men' who could read and write, particularly if doing either task was useful.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: re torture
"I think you're ignoring option (3) demonstrating dominance by exercising naked power over inferiors."

One does not feel a need demonstrate dominance if it is proven beyond any credible doubt. In a competition to attain dominance, the jackboot impresses a certain kind of person, other tactics impress other types of people: the one most impressed by the jackboot is typically the least effective soldier, intelligence officer, scientist, or other form of contributor that a power seeker needs.

"And this is what appeals to the bullies who comprise Trump's base,"
There certainly are bullies in Trump's base, and there may be a few millions of them. But most of Trump's supporters do not love being mean, do not find it socially acceptable - they just shrug aside claims that he's mean or a bully.

"Also, I think you're misrepresenting the motive behind your option (2). Torture of minorities is not to make them rise up, but to keep them in their place."
Historically, systematic torture has been more about getting them to vacate their place - not to subjugate, but to enable expulsion or elimination.

"But it also works to desensitise Americans and make us into something evil."
It can, but again, I'd look to the power balance between Powell v. Bush v. Cheney: torture was the best tool available to weaken Powell and force him to withdraw, opening the door to others. It's not because Bush or Cheney are insensitive, but because they're quite sensitive to the threat posed by credible alternatives even within their own ranks.

"Furthermore, as pointed out on WCPT radio back in the Bush era, torture is an excellent method for producing false confessions and false intelligence which can then be used to justify doing whatever you already wanted to do."
Ah...our Supreme Court reasoned similarly and came up with Miranda warnings. Never about technicalities for rapists to elude justice at all...

Treebeard said...

I haven't been reading this blog too much but someone mentioned an Ent and Trump so I decided to respond. In the last election, I voted with the largest bloc of eligible voters (the non-voters). Same story for all but the first time I was eligible to vote, when I voted for a fringe leftist candidate (it seemed cool back when I was young and dumb). In general, I consider American democratic politics to be a painfully mundane and insipid process that I don't take part in; not too interested in that circus any more. Trump is an amusing fin de siecle ringmaster, but that's about it. I'm more interested in currents that run deeper than the latest news cycle, and an individuality that is impervious to hysteria and propaganda. I see people who get caught up in the circus and they just look like clowns. Best thing for me is to turn off the clown-show because life is too short for that. All this hyper-analysis and bean-counting doesn't amount to a hill of beans at the end of the day, the end of life, or the end of the universe. Anyway, I probably won't post here much after this. Later.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

LarryHart: "I believe German Jews thought something similar in the 1930s [that Nazis would not execute them all because they needed them]. I hope you're not as tragically wrong as they were."

Not an exception, but an illustration that fits the theory: Jewish scientists were never exactly useful to a Nazi state once Nazis defined themselves as 'not Jews.'
...
Categorically distinct from the role of scientists among conservatives today. Their goal is far closer to the feudal intent of denying science to the public, and reserving its benefits to themselves. Plenty of feudal lords had no interest whatsoever in science and rejected them from their courts, but they did not hunt down and destroy them all,


I'm not saying that the new oligarchs will certainly hunt down and kill scientists. My warning is a bit more general. Don't assume you are safe just because it would make sense for them to keep you safe. They're not that rational. And smug assurance that one is safe might be cause enough for persecution.


and more often, respected the 'learned men' who could read and write, particularly if doing either task was useful.


I'm sure some did. I'm sure some also treated learned men the way that caveman in a recently-posted SNL sketch treated Steve Martin's character--pounding him to death with a rock in order to maintain the status quo.


"I think you're ignoring option (3) demonstrating dominance by exercising naked power over inferiors."

One does not feel a need demonstrate dominance if it is proven beyond any credible doubt.


The jackboot on the face is not for the purpose of demonstrating power. For that sort of person, it is the whole point of having power.


"And this is what appeals to the bullies who comprise Trump's base,"
There certainly are bullies in Trump's base, and there may be a few millions of them. But most of Trump's supporters do not love being mean, do not find it socially acceptable - they just shrug aside claims that he's mean or a bully.


I think what they're shrugging aside is that his being mean or being a bully is a bad thing.

reformed tourist said...

Too much to comment on -

I do like Steven's (I think it was he) who drew a fine line between Medievalism and Feudalism and the relative attractions. And as to why the concept endures, it's kind of like the American Dream, the notion of a Royal lineage of people born to the purple who take the job seriously so others don't have to is vastly appealing to many (who can still dream about earning a peerage some day). Niven & Pournelle's Mote in God's Eye universe is a good example: you damn well know that Lord and Lady Blaine take their roles and obligations dead serious. And they instilled that in their children, as well!

Think it was Donzelion who wanted to insert a qualifier about the struggle against Feudalism as being confined to "recorded" history. I beg to differ as I submit it applies to tribalism too. Humans are a dichotomous being - as social animals who cooperate, they yet strive individually. They accept the concept of safety in numbers, but a high percentage want to be higher on the ziggurat.

As to the rest, well, back to my issues with the DCCC (who are learning, ever so slowly, donzelion), over-reliance on Big Data, and the need to recall that all electoral politics is local retail, and that scapegoating works - I saw this little gem on CNN a few minutes ago:

https://tinyurl.com/y8le73jr

Now granted that corporate media has a vested interest in promoting the horse race (Great Flying Spaghetti Monster, I despise sports metaphors in serious matters) aspect of electoral politics, I still recoil in disgust as it appears that a disturbingly large number of Americans find “Ein tRump, Ein tReich” has a certain ring to it...

The big question is will the invasion come first or the DC parade? Decisions decisions...Framing framing...

Forget about wagging the dog we’ve gotten yuge: we wag the elephant!

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "I'm not saying that the new oligarchs will certainly hunt down and kill scientists."

The threat is not to destroy, but to enslave. That has always been the threat.

That threat is not posed by conservatives, but by oligarchs. Conservatives these days often serve oligarchs, and don't even realize it. They haven't always done so. Sometimes, conservatives are better foes of injustice than any progressive. That may come again. The strategy has to be, identify what they actually love, where possible, defend that better than the oligarchs, and expect their loyalties to shift.

We must fight Nazis one way, feudalists another. Against Naziism, no quarter may be given. But conservatives and conservativism are not our enemies. They are allies temporarily allied with oligarchs.

"The jackboot on the face is not for the purpose of demonstrating power. For that sort of person, it is the whole point of having power."
Even then, there is the boot wearer, the boot victim, and the audience watching the whole thing. The latter is the largest group: ultimately, it decides who prevails in such an encounter. The jackboot seldom prevails for very long, and if it does prevail, it does so through other means than simply jackboots (again, Huxley is better than Orwell here).

"I think what they're shrugging aside is that his being mean or being a bully is a bad thing."
I think they're resistant to seeing him as a bully at all, and discrediting sources that present him that way. Fox News presents Trump as a victim, not a bully. It can be hard to believe that conservative Fox watchers actually see Trump as the 'the little guy' and want to protect him. I suspect a far larger number of those who include themselves in his base see things that way, then those who wish to beat up minorities etc.

donzelion said...

Reformed Tourist: "Think it was Donzelion who wanted to insert a qualifier about the struggle against Feudalism as being confined to "recorded" history."

It was, and I'd assert that in a pre-recorded era, tribalism couldn't attain feudalistic institutionalism simply because marking ownership and divvying up benefits would be abstract without written measurements, mathematics, and related measures to define who owns what. I am not questioning that the struggle for primacy within a tribe arose with records - rather that the records themselves are evidence of a change in institutions which signify a transition from 'unstructured' tribal domination to 'feudal' domination.

"Humans are a dichotomous being - as social animals who cooperate, they yet strive individually. They accept the concept of safety in numbers, but a high percentage want to be higher on the ziggurat."
Absolutely. Yet the ziggurat itself emerges only because bricks are used to build dwellings - and bricks and dwellings emerge only after someone farms land long enough to make permanent settlements necessary. Feudalism doesn't exist without structure. It's an improvement on the tens of thousands of prior arrangements - itself an evolution.

It's worth bearing in mind in part because it lets us more reasonably assess the prospects of feudalism today: but-for markers of ownership, the institution couldn't operate. We do not need to reprogram human brains to defeat feudalism; only tweak the operation of institutions - still hard, but doable (and potentially an end result will reprogram human beings to some extent).

As for your link - "CNN poll: Democrats' 2018 advantage is nearly gone' - it is more fun to surf than to slog through the mud, but that slog always confronted us. Now we have work to do, wherever we are. We always did. To arms, my friend! To arms! (and so to myself, as well)

locumranch said...


I stand with Larry_H, reformed_t & Donzelion when they argue that those there Nazis were absolutely evil & irredeemable, like those sixteen hundred Nazi scientists from Operation Paperclip who made the US Space Program, the Lunar Landing & David's 'Conquest of Space' fantasy possible & even probable.

The Enlightened Progressive must NOT negotiate with terrorists & other wicked totalitarians UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE. Like Red China -- forget the 'red' part -- they are now are our most valued foreign trading partner. Like the Taliban & Al-Quaeda -- forget this one -- we funded & created these chumps to punish the Soviets during the Cold War. Like Iran -- forget this one too -- Trump is an absolute bastard for NOT negotiating with these terrorist supporting totalitarians. Like North Korean -- this one almost works -- how dare Trump initiate simultaneous escalation & negotiation with those dirty SOBs.

And, of course, those Confederate Red State bastards who dare offer Larry_H "the lives of his crew" in return for good faith negotiation & bloodless conflict resolution. How dare those confederates PRESUME to negotiate with the future well-being of Larry_H's crew when those crew lives exist to be THROWN AWAY by Larry_H in the Pyrrhic Defence of his sacred 'Never Negotiate' principles.

Like Mike Myer & Dana Carver in 'Wayne's World', I abase myself in the presence of such moral fortitude. Party On.


Best

Steven Hammond said...

Treebeard said:


I haven't been reading this blog too much but someone mentioned an Ent and Trump so I decided to respond. In the last election, I voted with the largest bloc of eligible voters (the non-voters). Same story for all but the first time I was eligible to vote, when I voted for a fringe leftist candidate (it seemed cool back when I was young and dumb). In general, I consider American democratic politics to be a painfully mundane and insipid process that I don't take part in; not too interested in that circus any more. Trump is an amusing fin de siecle ringmaster, but that's about it.

So I've been thinking about game theory in regards to American politics and reading the very interesting posts above by so many and have come to some conclusions.

There are at least TWO games worth discussing which overlap a bit but are separate games.

#1 There is one game that those in power (elected politicians, oligarchs, corporate CEOs, heads of state etc) are playing. The aims of these players in their game is not always apparent to the players of the second game, but the players of this game need those of the second in order to accomplish their ends--indeed they need the second game and need to manipulate it in order to be a "playa" in this "big game."

#2 The game the electorate is playing. This is game all the little people with a vote play whether they use that vote or not. There are numerous groups within the American electorate, all with different strategies. So much of political reporting about, say people who voted for Trump, The Five Types of Trump Voters is teasing out these groups' various strategies.

For example, Treeabeard above assigned a value of "0" to Hilary Clinton winning and "0" to Donald Trump winning. ( I suppose they could have been equal numbers such as -5 and -5 or positive such as +10 or +10, but they were equal. Also, he assigned an equal value to the harm done his perceived enemies. Someone may see no likely benefit in their own lives if one or the other candidate wins, but they MAY see value in the harm done their perceived enemies. The Ent did not see any differential in harm to enemies that one or the other candidate's victory would cause so he didn't vote. This actually upped my opinion of Treebeard, BTW. He didn't value hurting any enemies enough to vote. (On the other hand, he may just be very lazy... ;) )

A certain type of Trump voter might see a value of +1 if Trump wins, -1 if Clinton one in regards to his own prospects, but might see a value of + 5 in regards to the harm, humiliation etc of his perceived enemies if Trump wins and 0 if Clinton won thus leading him to vote for Clinton.

A black voter, say, might see a value of -1 if Clinton won in regards to his own future (compared to Obama, the President at the time) but -10 for Trump in regards to his own future and a value of 0 against his enemies if Hillary won but + 10 FOR his enemies if Trump won (-10 for this voter) . Both outcomes (Clinton victory vs Trump victory) are negative in regards to the status quo at the time, but a Trump victory is perceived as MUCH more negative.

In any event, the players of the Big Game need to manipulate the perceptions of those in the Electorate Game to keep playing their game and use everything they can (cough...FOXnews..cough) to change the various groups weighting of benefits to themselves and harm to enemies.

I suppose you could combine the score of perceived "benefit/harm to me" and "harm/benefit to enemies" for individual votes in and election into one score, but I think separating it into these two aspects might shed some light on voter behavior.

Steven Hammond said...

Correction:

I said:
A certain type of Trump voter might see a value of +1 if Trump wins, -1 if Clinton one in regards to his own prospects, but might see a value of + 5 in regards to the harm, humiliation etc of his perceived enemies if Trump wins and 0 if Clinton won thus leading him to vote for Clinton.

I should have said: "...leading him to vote for Trump."

LarryHart said...

reformed tourist:

Now granted that corporate media has a vested interest in promoting the horse race (Great Flying Spaghetti Monster, I despise sports metaphors in serious matters) aspect of electoral politics


But that's the whole problem. The news media treat politics as a sporting event and/or a reality tv show. They care less about reporting truth than they do about grabbing eyeballs. Which is why a CBS executive could say during the campaign about Trump, "He might be bad for the Republican Party and bad for the country, but he's great for CBS!" I wonder if that guy still feels the same way now that he's an "enemy of the people."

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

We must fight Nazis one way, feudalists another. Against Naziism, no quarter may be given. But conservatives and conservativism are not our enemies.


No, but they're currently Vichy France. They're not just allied with the oligarchs--they're willing lickspittles.

I'm talking about the ones who actually hold power--the Senate, the House, the Supreme Court and other federal courts. I get that there are many Republican voters who don't support oligarchy, but they're like the neither-good-nor-bad men that Dena refers to in "The Postman". They have no effect. They don't mean anything, except that by voting Republican, they give political support to the oligarchs whether or not that's their intent.


LarryHart said...

locumranch:

I stand with Larry_H, ...


Please, stand waaaaaaay over there if you must.

"I recognized your foul stench the moment I came on board."


...reformed_t & Donzelion when they argue that those there Nazis were absolutely evil & irredeemable, like those sixteen hundred Nazi scientists from Operation Paperclip who made the US Space Program...


Individual ex-Nazis may be redeemable if they see the error of their ways and renounce Nazism. Nazism itself is irredemable, and must be neutered in all of its forms. There are not "many good people" on the Nazi side, not even one.

donzelion said...

reformed tourist: just noticed a big misstatement here -

"I am not questioning that the struggle for primacy within a tribe arose with records" should have been, "I am not claiming the struggle for primacy..." The point is that writing, claims of property ownership, markings signifying ownership, etc. are indicators of a transition from non-institutinalized tribalism to institutionalized tribalism. Some groups without any written language may have similarly implemented institutional tribalism (feudalism), but the evidence they did so would remain to be seen.

Locum: Neither silly nor accurate, nor even particularly original. That said, I'd once again suggest Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius' course at the Teaching Company for a fairly interesting take on Operation Paper Clip.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

And, of course, those Confederate Red State bastards who dare offer Larry_H "the lives of his crew" in return for good faith negotiation & bloodless conflict resolution. How dare those confederates PRESUME to negotiate with the future well-being of Larry_H's crew when those crew lives exist to be THROWN AWAY by Larry_H in the Pyrrhic Defence of his sacred 'Never Negotiate' principles.


My 'Never Negotiate' principles? What the fuck are you talking about?

It's because your side won't negotiate in good faith that we're forced to neutralize you as a last resort in order to save the lives of our crew. If you would negotiate on terms other than "Give me everything I want or else I'll burn it all down," we wouldn't be having this conversation.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: If conservatives are now Vichy France, then vive la resistance! I am shocked, shocked to see that Locum is being disagreeable here!

"I'm talking about the ones who actually hold power--the Senate, the House, the Supreme Court and other federal courts."
I am not certain they are the ones who actually do hold power, so much as focal points for the powerful to work upon. Perhaps measures like the FACT Act could help identify who is who.

"I get that there are many Republican voters who don't support oligarchy, but...They have no effect. They don't mean anything,"
On the contrary, I'll affirm they do have effects, and mean a great deal. The 'liberal game' hasn't ended just yet. A day may come when it really is under threat: most of them are going to join our side if that day ever arrives (they'll want to kick our butts from behind, but then, they'll be standing with us no matter the stench...it is all our planet, after all, and we are its).

David Brin said...

Going crazy planning several trips, so I could not read the last 50 or so, alas.

But onward

onward