Wednesday, June 27, 2018

It's not futile! We are making progress.


Often I am confronted with hand-wringing jeremiads, like the following: "In today's Panopticon the power equation is weighted on the side of the watchers, not the people."

My reply? Don’t give up too easily.  We already see around us the methods of transparency and reciprocal accountability.  Yes the tools of Big Brother are coalescing.  But counter-examples also abound.  Compare this event - “Florida police officer resigns after using N-word during exchange with 27-year-old man”to page 160 of my nonfiction book The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Privacy and Freedom? 

Dig it. It… is… working. More slowly that we’d like, sure. (I predicted that aspect, too.) But it is working, as cities and constabularies around the U.S. desperately seek ways to find and rid themselves of the worst apples, and train the rest of their officers better. Not out of goodness! But because the people are increasingly “armed” with the best of all weapons. Light.

In 2013 we had the best year for civil liberties in this century, so far, when both the U.S. courts (Glik v Cunniffe) and the Obama Administration declared it to be "settled law" that a citizen has the right to record his or her interactions with police in public places. No single matter could have been more important because it established the most basic right of "sousveillance" or looking-back at power, that The Transparent Society is all about. It is also fundamental to freedom, for in altercations with authority, what other recourse can a citizen turn to, than the Truth?

Recently cited in a news article was the following quotation from The Transparent Society. It encapsulates the core concept that (alas) seems so very difficult and non-intuitive, even to some of our finest and smartest paladins of freedom:

"Transparency is not about eliminating privacy. It is about giving us the power to hold accountable those who would violate it." ... (p.334)

The weird thing is that nearly all of those who have snidely derided transparency... and sometimes me, personally, for holding this view... circle back to it, when challenged for an actual solution. The Circle, by Dave Eggers, spends hundreds of pages - and the movie spends 90+minutes - portraying openness and light as bullying fetishisms. Yet, by the end, it turns out that the hypocritical-secretive manipulating moguls get their comeuppance in just one way -- when the people get to apply light upon them.

And not just cheating moguls. Recall the scene in The Circle, where voyeur bullies are aiming cell-cams at a poor, shy fellow who just wants to be left alone? Who are the persons seeking to do harm? Then why isn't the solution to show other folks, aiming cams at the bullies, commenting: "See these assholes ragging that poor fellow who just wants to be left alone? I'm sending this video to his mom!"

Naturally, that doesn't happen in the movie, which is ironic, since that's exactly the reaction the director wants to elicit from members of the audience! Fortunately, it is happening in the real world - as the worst cops are finding out - it is what a rambunctiously fair-minded public will do.

This approach can go bad! If you have a homogenizing society, whose upper clades are immune from light, then yes, the panopticon will destroy all privacy, all freedom and almost all human variability or eccentricity or diversity. Witness the rising "oppression via 'social credit' in China." I know very well the danger!

But there is only one solution that can work. The solution is a rambunctiously fair-minded public, armed with light.

== And here it is again, in action ==

The citizens of Newark gained access to watch through the cameras set up by police.  The Citizen Virtual Patrol, as the program is called, has been hailed by officials as a move toward transparency in a city where a mistrust of the police runs deep, rooted in long-running claims of aggressive enforcement and racial animosity. 

Of course this has provoked alarm among civil liberties groups and privacy advocates.  I’d be disappointed if it didn’t! Ironically, it is only if such systems are constantly dogged by fierce inspection and criticism that it could possibly have more good than bad outcomes. And yes, that, too, is a form of transparency and reciprocal accountability. The deciding factor, I’ve long maintained, is being illustrated here… it all depends on whether people take ownership… and are inclined to use sousveillance for their own community benefit… not against each other.

Moving on... Panda Security created a very informative and useful post about cyber-security. They took nine famous hacking scenes in movies and TV and determined whether they were actually possible or a case of classic Hollywood hacking. For instance Allsafe, the main company in Mr. Robot, uses two factor authentication. Worth a visit.  

How Romans published 'books' just like social media. Or as I am doing right now. Interesting.

A pretty good online article summarizing the case for preventing power-abuse via transparency and accountability, rather than trying (futilely) for concealment.

 == Again and again, trying the futile approach ==

Look, I send money to the ACLU and the Electronic FrontierFoundation. They are crucially important paladins for freedom and responsible development of the digital age.  You should join! They are among the heroes who know very well how close we are skating to an Orwellian future, in which despotic elites will be empowered by technology to impost Big Brother, forever. And yet…

And yet, I remain forever puzzled by the tendency of most such paladins – including every single “privacy advocate” in Europe I have ever met, or even heard-of – to prescribe exactly and diametrically the wrong medicine. A notion that has absolutely zero historical record of ever having worked, ever, even once, across the history of our species. 

Every single time it is tried, it always fails. Yet these sincere freedom fighters always, always double down to prescribe the same “solution,” ever-harder.

The solution of hiding from elites, blinding the mighty, screaming at them “don’t look at us!”  Instead of ever glancing at the method that actually works. The one responsible for all of our freedom. Every last bit of it.

See the latest rave against an unstoppable wave, demanding that the tide… that a tsunami … not come in. When instead we could learn to surf: 

‘Amazon Rekognition is primed for abuse’: ACLU asks Amazon to stop selling facial recognition tech to local governments.  

Um right. That's gonna work. Not.

98 comments:

Alfred Differ said...

The counter-argument for local authorities is as simple as ever. See all those drones everyone likes to fly around? Would you like us to have a chance to spot a terrorist before he flies one into your gathering with a grenade strapped to it? We have to be able to see him and check faces against our databases!

True enough. I'll support that, but I want to be able to look too. Without amateur eyes, they aren't going to see what they actually want to find. Facial recognition can't do what intelligence can. Stitch the two together and the system is much, much more capable.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | Again, RH sensitivity is NOT an allergy.

Yah. I know. I wasn't going to pick on someone using Google as his translator, though.

Sometimes, the kind thing to do for people who haven't been through or seen someone elses immune system attack them is to avoid the details.

[After I was off the cyclophosphamide treatments, I stopped explaining to co-workers what Wegener's Granulomatosis actually does. They used to just go pale when I explained, but couldn't NOT ask since the chemo drug is pretty drastic in what it does. It was almost always a case of 'Crap. I wish I hadn't asked.' 8) ]

David Brin said...

Bemoaning the Supreme Court appointment, I got this response on FB from Richard Oxenberg

"The seat needs to be filled BEFORE the midterms, otherwise the midterms will be about the Supreme Court, not Trump. That will be a huge motivator for the Republican base, and Democrats will LOSE the midterms.

This is devastating news - but the sooner the seat is filled the better for the Democrats.

Huh. Thoughts?

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | But you have a wife. Men must make sure to protect our families. And you know that women live longer than men.

Heh. I do, I am, and they certainly do. The thing about my wife is she signed on to care for our son as did I. No one else owes him like we do. Our respective families will help if needed, but we plan to make that unlikely. We've both had a lot of time to prepare, so I don't think we need to draft nurses into the family at this point.


Your small supermarket idea won't really work where we live right now. I understand what you are describing, though. My brother and his wife did that on a larger scale in Guadalajara. There are probably other ideas involving a family business that might work, though. My wife and I have batted around a few of them. I've tried two start-ups. No luck so far. That's okay, though. The profession she can now work in will bring in a sizable fraction of what I make just doing full-time work for an IT boss. That will do while we figure out something else.

The trick to all this is not to panic OR punt. Also, it's best not to try to solve big problems alone. Marriages are unions, so we work at it together.

Alfred Differ said...

I disagree about the midterms. Voter turnout in NY for the young lady who displaced Crowley was abysmal. I think the Dems need more motivation.

Tony Fisk said...

Hmm. Oxenberg may have a point. Why did hizzonah decide to retire *now*?

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Alfred Differ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...

Rachel laid out a pretty good argument to fight in a particular way. Basically stick to McConnell's rule and get one GOP senator to do the same. Focus on the precedent set in 2016 and use it instead of making this about the SCOTUS.

Obviously it is, of course. Obviously it is in the same way it was in 2016. The trick is to set a date on when hearings start. January after the new Congress is seated. Win or Lose.

Anonymous said...

David Brin:
(Following the topic of the previous conversation) :
“Alfred & Winter7, there are strategically no more important US goals than a peacefully prosperous and middle class Mexico. Look at a freaking map. Mexico's border with Guatemala is a lot shorter than the US has to "defend" against Mexico. And if we also uplift Guatemala and Honduras? Then it gets shorter still”

Thanks for suggesting that Doctor Brin. I hope that when the Democrats regain control of the white house, they can be encouraged to invade Mexico. Mexicans who are not involved with the mafias of power will not move a single finger to stop US troops. (Yes, the mafias of Mexican politicians have real legions of perverse thugs, but those thugs of corrupt politicians are not adversaries for the professional American army.)
Nevertheless. Remember something important: The only way that Americans can control Mexico is if they understand that they must arrest all the politicians in Mexico, because all politicians in Mexico are murderers and corrupt.
If they choose to let current politicians govern on behalf of the US government, then nothing will change and Mexican politicians will cheat like children the US Regents appointed to Mexico.

Winter7

donzelion said...

"The solution of hiding from elites, blinding the mighty, screaming at them “don’t look at us!” Instead of ever glancing at the method that actually works. The one responsible for all of our freedom."

It's never precisely "hiding from elites" - it's that forcing them to disclose how they pry into the public creates new opportunities to sousveil them in turn.

Privacy advocates, ultimately, know that they're fighting one 'losing battle' as part of a broader war. What they achieve is more 'forcing them to disclose where they peek' - to give us better opportunities to catch them doing it. You cannot plug up all the keyholes they might peek through, cover up every window, build walls around every house that hides every possible place of looking in: but if you ban peeking through keyholes, more folks who watch will be likely to realize when something looks like someone is peeking. Same with 'privacy.'

And of course, if you catch a peeping tom, you can start a process of further interrogation that peeks much more rigorously into their own secrets...and those of the folks who put them up to it.

Tim H. said...

Alfred, it sounds like you suspect the lash of a few stupid decisions by a packed court may encourage voter turnout? But will it be enough to overcome the DNC's to run on the immediate left of the GOP?

donzelion said...

re Supreme Court: RBG is 85. Breyer turns 80 in August.

Whether the seat gets filled before or after the midterms, this is just Round 2, and more rounds are yet to come. Everyone knows it. Whether the focus is on Trump or the Court or whatever makes no difference. The street matters: I cannot say who will turn out in 2018, any more than I could in 2016. Only I'm in the fight in a way I wasn't back then, and I hope everyone here is in the trenches too.

Tim H. said...

I meant the DNC's tendency to run on the GOP's immediate left.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

"The seat needs to be filled BEFORE the midterms, otherwise the midterms will be about the Supreme Court, not Trump. That will be a huge motivator for the Republican base, and Democrats will LOSE the midterms.

This is devastating news - but the sooner the seat is filled the better for the Democrats.

Huh. Thoughts?


I actually do agree. If we're thinking about ways to delay and forestall the appointment of a deplorable, then that comment is counter-intuitive. But if we accept the nomination as inevitable and think about the longer term, your friend is absolutely right. McConnell will almost certainly go the "safe" route and confirm a nominee before the election, but that will remove the nomination as a campaign issue. At the moment, Democratic motivation to vote is much higher than Republican motivation, and anything that keeps it so is probably a good thing. Relatively speaking, that is.

Alfred Differ said...

@ Tim H | If Trump picks someone and the Senate confirms quickly, there won't be enough time between that and the election to produce that lash. What SHOULD be lashing them right now are the decisions coming out NOW before this next round.

We are at a point in history where it is the voters who have to say what they want. It is we who should be lashing our neighbors who aren't doing their duty.

Lorraine said...

I'm willing to stipulate that 2013 was the best civil liberties year of the 21st century so far. I still think 1974 was the best civil liberties year in human history so far. That year saw the passage of the Privacy Act of 1974 and the Freedom of Information Act of 1974. Maybe the Church Commission went down in that year too, I don't remember, I was a mere child. I believe that natural conditions (including natural market conditions) favor confidentiality for business/government (secrecy) and disfavor confidentiality for individuals (privacy). To me the very definition of civil liberties is the conscious (and not really paradoxical) combination of being assertively both pro-privacy and anti-secrecy.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

I disagree about the midterms. Voter turnout in NY for the young lady who displaced Crowley was abysmal. I think the Dems need more motivation.


Like Norman Goldman, I'm out of the prediction business after 2016. But I've always thought it's a mistake to take enthusiasm in the primaries as indicative of enthusiasm for the general election. For example, back in 2012, when Obama's re-nomination was a sure thing, there would have no reason for high turnout in the Democratic primary. That doesn't mean those Democrats aren't enthusiastic about re-electing Obama in November.

A different but similar pet peeve of mine is when pundits use the primaries to make predictions about the upcoming general election, presuming for example that states Obama lost to Hillary would also go for McCain.

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | invade Mexico

Yowza. That ain't gonna happen. There are way too many of you, we trade with you, we are intermarried with you, and we already decided not to do that way back in 1848.

If you want your local mafia out of power, you are going to have to do it yourselves. It's a battle we fight with our own thugs often, but in every win, you get something far more important than kicking out a thug. You get to know you CAN.

We don't want to control you. We want to trade with you. Well... lots of us do.
Control would make us RESPONSIBLE for what is happening and we wouldn't want that, right?
[Yah. I know we are already. We like our illusion that we aren't.]

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ (again) :

I think the Dems need more motivation.


Anthony Kennedy might just have provided some.

Tony Fisk:

Hmm. Oxenberg may have a point. Why did hizzonah decide to retire *now*?


I'm not sure what your conclusion is about Kennedy's motivation.

Norman Goldman asserts that Kennedy made sure his replacement would be a Republican--that he was not doing us any favors.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | I certainly hope you are right. I suppose I'm just in a dark mood right now. I wanna smack someone.

[On a lighter note, things are going well at work.]

Now back to the TV so I can throw more popcorn at the screen. 8)

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Basically stick to McConnell's rule and get one GOP senator to do the same. Focus on the precedent set in 2016 and use it instead of making this about the SCOTUS.

Obviously it is, of course. Obviously it is in the same way it was in 2016.


Obviously, it is also the case that Republicans don't give a f### about precedent or decorum.

And the precedent is inexact. The Senate was and is Republican in both cases. The precedent set in 2016 wasn't "Too close to an election to confirm a nominee," but "The majority in the Senate can do whatever it feels like."

The Republicans have locked in control of all three branches of government, with each branch cheating to prevent the others from giving up that control. It's getting to where the only way to win is not to play. And by that, I don't mean not to vote, but rather not to accept the rules they expect us to play by while they themselves do whatever they want. Embarrassing Sarah Huckleberry Saddlebags was a good start.

Above all, for God's sake, don't let yourself love Big Brother.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

I suppose I'm just in a dark mood right now. I wanna smack someone.


Oh, I am too. In case it isn't obvious, I have just given up on the federal government. I'm focusing now on how to best survive and persevere with the federal government as a hostile power.

David Brin said...

Lorraine see the movie "AllThe Way" about LBJ in the year 1964. That year - spanning into 1965 -- was when the work of the 1860s Civil War was finally "completed" in the strictly legal sense. And LBJ was so hurt that the response was not love, but flames. Because of a quirk in human psychology. A release of a century of pent-up rage.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Space...is greasy. Be sure to have good windshield wipers and plenty of window wash formula for those jaunts to Acturus.
https://academic.oup.com/mnras/advance-article/doi/10.1093/mnras/sty1582/5039660

Zepp Jamieson said...

Another bit of not-grim news from the Guardian:

"Blasts of ocean spray that erupt from a moon of Saturn contain complex organic molecules, making it the only place beyond Earth known to harbour crucial constituents for life as we know it.

"Astronomers detected the compounds in plumes of water and ice that shoot from huge fractures in the south pole of Enceladus, a 300-mile-wide ice ball that orbits Saturn along with 52 other moons. Enceladus stands out among the planet’s natural satellites because it hosts a global water ocean beneath its frozen crust.

"German and US scientists found tell-tale signs of organic molecules far more complex than amino acids and 10 times heavier than methane in data gathered by Nasa’s Cassini probe as it flew over the fractures on Enceladus. Known as “tiger stripes”, the fissures reach several miles down into the ice and are largely filled with ocean water that percolates up from the ocean."

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/jun/27/ocean-spray-on-saturn-moon-contains-crucial-constituents-for-life

Lorraine said...

Well, certainly civil rights is more important than civil liberties, and both those causes need each other urgently, so I stand corrected. 1964-65 was the best civil liberties year yet. Sometimes it's easy to forget that LBJ, who was the worst foreign policy president in all of American history, was also the best domestic policy president.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson in the previous comments:

Also, there is pressure to apply the "McConnell Rule"; no SC nominations during an election season.


Good luck with that, though. McConnell's "reasoning" will certainly be that the American people elected a Republican Senate to oppose Obama's nominations and to approve Trump's. Thus, no contradiction. Even if one doesn't buy that distinction, Republicans don't care. They're guiding star is "Power is meant to be used."

There's one thing that just might save us. Two Republican Senators are retiring anyway, and don't have to face a Tea-Party primary opponent. If they can be convinced to consistently apply the McConnell Rule and not approve any appointments before the election, we might just at least delay the damage.

Keep in mind, though, that there will be enormous pressure--both bribery and threats--for Republicans not to pass up this chance. We'd be asking them to go down in history as the traitors to the Republican Party who prevented them from achieving a 40-year goal. They'd have to really despise what their party has become for that to happen. Consistency with a "rule" won't be enough motivation.

Also, because of the happenstance of the map this year, it's going to be very hard for Democrats to take control of the Senate, even in a Blue Wave. There are just too few Republican seats up for election at all. So in January, we might be in the position that the crew of "The Galileo Seven" could have been in after lifting off from the monster-infested planet, only to be forced to land again for lack of fuel. I guess it depends whether we've got a Spock handy.

LarryHart said...

Charles Blow tells us what we should have already known:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/27/opinion/anthony-kennedy-supreme-court.html

...

Elections have consequences. Not voting has consequences. Falling for Russian propaganda has consequences. Voter suppression has consequences. Taking the absolutely ridiculous position that there would be little difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump has consequences.

...

Trump’s imprint on the courts will help the conservatives preserve more of that power for a longer period of time.

This is one of the reasons that Trump’s base will never abandon him. He is their orange life raft in the middle of a blue ocean.

He is reassurance that although progress and enlightenment may feel like an uncontainable, unstoppable human yearning, it can be delayed and occasionally derailed.

Whoever Trump appoints to the Supreme Court will most likely be there for the rest of my life. I will live the rest of my days with Trump’s legacy. That’s a hell of a thought.

Over that time, the court will operate with his undeniable imprint. In this way, a man whose candidacy was a joke, whose election was a fluke tainted by fraud, and whose presidency is a bane will get the chance to remake the American bench.

This is an abomination and this moment of revulsion must burn itself into the psyche of the American electorate. This is how a country’s progress can be crippled. It’s happening right now in large part because too many people thought that it could not.

LarryHart said...

A more optimistic lifeline?

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Jun28.html#item-2

We should note, first of all, that Kennedy—despite his reputation—has been drifting rightward recently, and hasn't been much of a swing vote. To put a finer point on it, there have been 19 decisions this term decided by a 5-4 vote, and Kennedy sided with the liberals on exactly zero of them. He also made a point of retiring while a Republican was in the White House, and the Republicans controlled the Senate, which makes it clear that it was important to him to be replaced by a conservative. What it boils down to is that Kennedy was not some sort of centrist or independent; he was a fairly reliable conservative who was occasionally maverick-y. He was, in essence, the Supreme Court's answer to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

The new swing justice—that is to say, the person who has four people to his right and four people to his left, politically—is Chief Justice John Roberts. Roberts, like Kennedy, has also been a conservative who occasionally goes maverick, most obviously in his vote to sustain Obamacare. As this analysis from FiveThirtyEight shows, the Chief Justice has been drifting slightly leftward, such that his votes are actually not all that distinguishable from Kennedy's in terms of their political slant. To put this another way, the current Supreme Court is made up of four reliable liberal votes, three reliable conservatives, and two conservatives who rebel on occasion. Kennedy's replacement is going to take that from 4/3/2 to 4/4/1, which is not actually all that big a change.

However, there is a pressure operating on Roberts as Chief Justice that did not particularly affect Kennedy. To explain, consider this comment, one among many such comments readers offered in response to the Washington Post story about Kennedy's retirement:

It's bad enough that the Court has become so partisan. But to represent a minority that seeks to tyrannize the rest of us—that's appalling.

Since Bush v. Gore, the Court has overseen not only two "elections" of minority Presidents it has made so many terrible decisions—Citizens United, gutting the Voting Rights Act, approving of racist gerrymandering, approving of bigotry against gay people, approving of Trump's Islamophobia, threatening women's rights in favor of the religious rights of extremists—again— a bad misreading of the First Amendment...

Somehow the very idea of democracy is being rolled. The many are being terrorized by the few. And to be doing this with TWO tainted elections followed by the theft of a SCOTUS seat—This is just nuts.

The point is that the current Court is developing a (well-deserved) reputation for being hyper-partisan. And part of the Chief Justice's job is to be an institutionalist—to serve as caretaker of the Court's reputation. Because SCOTUS has no enforcement apparatus of its own, it very much depends on its moral authority and on people's sense that it has integrity. On those occasions where it seemed to have become a bastion of partisan hacks—most obviously in the years following Dred Scott v. Sandford in 1856, but also on other occasions—the Court's power was severely diminished. Roberts surely realizes that it's happening again, and he's likely to think much longer and harder about some of those future 5-4 decisions, now that he knows for sure that he's the swing vote. Heck, if he sides with the liberals on just one 5-4 decision next term, that will be one more than Kennedy swung this term.

Berial said...

"otherwise the midterms will be about the Supreme Court, not Trump."

My point of view is 'So?'.
When is the Republican 'base' NOT motivated to get out and make life better for the oligarchs? It's what they do, year in, year out. The problem isn't with Republican turnout. (Does it even change very much from election to election?)

No, the 'problem' is with Democrat leaning voter turnout. It seems to me that Democratic voters being unmotivated in these hyper-partisan days, demonstrates that the Democratic party is not actually 'selling' what the voters want. How else can the low turn out be explained? How can a 'lefty' NOT be motivated by a supreme court pick while a 'righty' can?

I guess one other explanation might simply be all the 'pro-apathy' propaganda out there. 'Everything sucks, so why bother?', but that form of propaganda should hit 'both sides' if it's not targeted, right? If it is targeted then again, we're back to all of us being manipulated to the status quo oligarch's benefit. I don't really see a 'good end' to this story if the voting public's actual needs aren't being met by it's political class. (And some of what I've seen from 538, I think, indicates that both sides focus on what their big money supporters want and very VERY little on what the public actually wants.)

David Smelser said...

The question of whether a sitting President can be forced to testify with a subpoena, and whether a sitting President can be indicted, are two cases that are likely to come before the court before the next election.

You can't pick your own judge!

LarryHart said...

David Smelser:

You can't pick your own judge!


I think Trump would quote President Obama back at you:
"Yes, we CAN!"

LarryHart said...

Berial:

I guess one other explanation might simply be all the 'pro-apathy' propaganda out there. 'Everything sucks, so why bother?', but that form of propaganda should hit 'both sides' if it's not targeted, right?


Well, I'm not sure it needs targeting by the propagandists. Rather, Democratic constituencies are made up more of people who don't think about politics or government so much in their day to day lives, and so are more susceptible to "The all suck, so what's the point?" message. Republican constituencies understand that politics matters a great deal to their bottom line. In 2016, there were plenty of Republican voters who wished that Donald Trump wasn't their standard bearer, but still you never heard from them that "There's essentially no difference between Trump and Hillary." Only Democratic voters could be convinced that an establishment Democrat and a Republican would produce similar results.


I don't really see a 'good end' to this story if the voting public's actual needs aren't being met by it's political class. (And some of what I've seen from 538, I think, indicates that both sides focus on what their big money supporters want and very VERY little on what the public actually wants.)


That was obvious during the Obamacare and Tax Plan fights in congress. Republicans' own voters didn't want their health care removed, nor did they want to explode the deficit to give billionaires a gift. But their donors insisted. Which is why congressional Republicans had to pass bills before getting feedback from their constituents.

The problem is that politics requires spending lots of money, and I don't know that campaign finance law can fix that without running athwart free speech issues. What I don't understand is why money has such an outsized influence. I know it buys tv ads, but do tv ads really convince people to change their vote? The Koch brothers could spend a billion dollars on ads, but they wouldn't convince me to vote for any Republican whatsoever.

These days, public opinion seems to be swayed more by social media, which doesn't require money to use. So how is the money influencing the outcome?

Russell Osterlund said...

The 2018 mid-terms viewed through the lenses of a unObama vs. SCOTUS choice is, in my opinion, missing the point. Anything less than the complete and utter destruction of the GOP in its current incarnation should be judged a defeat. While this is an unrealistic goal for now, the objective should be hamstringing the most vile and evil person in the U.S. government today, Mitch McConnell, by winning the Senate and gaining a majority in the House of Representatives. Otherwise, the focus on the above choice is repeat of the 2016 election where much the same decisions were in play.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"You can't pick your own judge!"

Normally, an appointee of a particular president would recuse himself (herself) In The Event Of. But Trumpian morality obviates such niceties.

Berial said...

While social media doesn't have a cost to use for an individual, there is a cost to get enough 'bots' or actual agents involved to push agendas. I expect that the bots are relatively cheap but the agents could be quite expensive. Of course, the more 'true believers' you have for your cause the more free agents you have access to, though little control over them. Most are just trolls, but even a small number seem to have nothing else to do other than 24/7 push their trolling onto selected websites.

Darrell E said...

Russell Osterlund said...
"While this is an unrealistic goal for now, the objective should be hamstringing the most vile and evil person in the U.S. government today, Mitch McConnell, by winning the Senate and gaining a majority in the House of Representatives."

I agree completely with your characterization of Mitch McConnell. Shoulder to shoulder with him is Paul Ryan. I can't figure out what to think about Ryan leaving Congress.

LarryHart said...

Darrell E:

I can't figure out what to think about Ryan leaving Congress.


It won't hurt him personally--he'll get some 7 figure job with a right-wing think tank or FOX News.

But it might make it even harder than it already is for House Republicans to agree on their own agenda.

Anonymous said...

So, now, all of you have already realized that the Confederates managed to gain control through dirty play ... Now they can do what they want. Any evil, and even get always a thunderous applause acambio each act of evil:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DgxZr6LLS34

Winter7

Anonymous said...


And for those who did not see the news: Donald Trump orders the creation of a space division. (The first galactic empire). (Yes, no kidding) :


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uI2bjO8XsAc

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

Winter7

SapphireHarp said...

The response of the women I know to the Supreme Court situation has been extremely energetic. Their perception of this is on the level of a direct personal threat. If the nomination is delayed until the mid-terms, it may motivate the Democratic community even more than the religious right having a chance at realizing their fetish. It's very hard to gauge the intensity of populations, though.

LarryHart said...

Mitch McConnell says what we already knew:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/28/us/politics/trump-supreme-court-kennedy.html

...

Mr. McConnell defended his decision to move forward with filling the vacancy this year, in contrast to his handling of the nomination of Judge Garland.

“This is not 2016,” Mr. McConnell said Thursday on the Senate floor. “There aren’t the final months of a second-term constitutionally lame duck presidency with a presidential election fast approaching. We’re right in the middle of this president’s very first term.”

Mr. McConnell pointed to the Supreme Court confirmations of Justices Elena Kagan in 2010, Stephen G. Breyer in 1994 and David H. Souter in 1990 — all midterm election years in a president’s first term.

“To my knowledge, nobody on either side has ever suggested before yesterday that the Senate should only process Supreme Court nominations in odd-numbered years,” Mr. McConnell said.

LarryHart said...

Most of my colleagues at work don't pay attention to news or politics, and they're relatively content with their lives.

Is that the equivalent of the glavers' path to redemption? Stop paying attention and forget about Washington altogether. As Luke Skywalker once said, "It's not that I like the Empire. I hate it! But there's nothing I can do about it. It's such a long way from here."

Maybe willful ignorance is the only way to live now.

Anonymous said...

At least, there is already a planet where we can hide a rebel base: Kepler-186f

Link:

https://phys.org/news/2018-06-clues-earth-like-exoplanets.html

Winter7

john fremont said...

Harlan Ellison has died. RIP.

https://techcrunch.com/2018/06/28/science-fiction-writer-harlan-ellison-is-dead/

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

At least, there is already a planet where we can hide a rebel base: Kepler-186f


I was thinking more like California, but whatever works.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I have no mouth.
And I must scream.

LarryHart said...

http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/

...

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

...

Zepp Jamieson said...

@Larry Hart
A medium-sized demonstration, a peaceful one, resulted in 600 arrests today.
When dissent is forbidden, revolution becomes inevitable.

Duncan Cairncross said...

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Only it wasn't "A Prince" who was denying them!
Old George was actually in favor of granting representation in Parliament - but he was just a figurehead - Since Charlie lost his head British Monarchs have only been figureheads

Lord North who was the Prime Minister did not want extra representatives as he thought his party would lose power

LarryHart said...

Coincidentally enough, I was just recently listening to an old Harry Chapin lyric which he sung during the Reagan years, but is sadly appropriate today.

It's a series of verses of which he sings one line and then the chorus answers him back. The song begins innocuously enough about music, but it sets the tone for how the whole thing goes:


I used to play the trumpet once, but now I play guitar.
Somebody told you it's more mellow.

Well I've played a lot of music since but I really haven't grown that far.
Somebody said you're just ... yellow.


After a while, he slips this in:

And I used to have a country once, but where it's gone I do not know.
Where do you think you might have lost it?

And, I used to raise the flag at dawn, but that was very long ago.
Maybe you can find it where you tossed it.


I feel his pain.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "Maybe willful ignorance is the only way to live now."

On the contrary, willful engagement that rejects depression! I have my soundtrack I pull out when despairing, starting with Peter Gabriel's 'Biko.' When the song was released, in 1980, the thought that protesting, activism, attention, engagement would mean anything whatsoever in South Africa was laughable. They killed protesters there! Lots of 'em!

And yet...

"I was thinking more like California, but whatever works."
Come on by whenever you please. If you do swing by the happiest place on Earth, drop me a line: I'm only a few miles from there.

donzelion said...

Berial: "the Democratic party is not actually 'selling' what the voters want."

And the problem is voters have been convinced, since all the rest of the ads they receive ARE trying to sell them something, that by opting out and choosing 'none of the above,' they are making a choice. Thing is, the choice they make, while within their rights, is totally different from Apple v. Android. You do NOT get to choose the air you breath, and seldom the water you drink, and only very rarely, the laws you live under. "Opting out" is a choice to let others rule you. If the guy who intends to rule you promises not to do much, that comforts a lot of folks who are willing to be ruled simply because 'it's too complicated to bother with.'

"How else can the low turn out be explained?"
I think I've just explained it. There's no other context in which advertisements drive people NOT to participate. It could be advertisements are ineffective and do not mobilize human behavior - but anyone who believes that would have a tough time accounting for the existence of the majority of our 'great IT companies.'

locumranch said...


It's getting to where the only way to win is not to play. And by that, I don't mean not to vote, but rather not to accept the rules they expect us to play by while they themselves do whatever they want[LH].

For the left-leaning moralist who stood for Law, Order & Rule Obedience just a few short years ago when his political cronies ruled the roost, it's quite enlightening how quickly one disregards the federal rule-of-law & due process when it tramples upon his partisan personal interests. Welcome to the Confederacy, my new friend. Never surrender, Resist, Always Resist, Viva La Revolution, et toujours de l'audace.

Embarrassing Sarah Huckleberry Saddlebags was a good start[LH].

Although it's criminal to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender & disability, it's apparently A-OK to discriminate on the basis of political philosophy & deny them despicable conservatives service in progressive-run establishments, the inevitable work-around being 'partisan only' drinking fountains, 'progressive only' restaurants & the denial of service to those 'undesirable' individuals based on the colour of their (ahem) 'politics'.

The above examples reveal yet another flaw in David's Transparency arguments as corrupt individuals will always use information (aka 'the purifying power of LIGHT') to pursue their own personal agendas, as in the case of Maxine Waters who tells her progressive cohort to harass & discriminate against them conservative third-class citizens.

And the progressive denunciation of targeted harassment against their red-coloured political opponents? Crickets.

All we hear is crickets.


Best
_____

For ever & always, every US citizen (once incarcerated) is routinely separated from their minor children for the purposes of incarceration while the innocent children of those incarcerated parents are placed & inadvertently brutalised by state-appointed 'Child Protective Services'. For ever & always. So why the OUTRAGE about this well-documented legal procedure right now?? L'audace, political theatre, partisan politics & bald-faced hypocrisy. Civil War Part Deux.

Alfred Differ said...

The outrage is due largely to the fact that we don't need to incarcerate for small shit.

Yah. I get that we do at times. It is barbaric. It is a mutilation of the Rule of Law into Rule BY Law.
Some forget that laws are made legitimate not by legislative acts. In a Common Law nation, they rely heavily upon observed rules in the nation. Murder isn't illegal because of the laws on the books. Those laws are on the books because WE feel that it should be illegal.

Tyrants use legislation/rules not properly validated by The People.
The outrage is a demonstration of the fact that The People don't feel the rules as applied are legitimate.
Some people anyway. Enough to undermine legitimacy.

Heating up this Civil War won't happen over immigration.
It WILL happen over attempts to pack the Court.
Even FDR ran into trouble with his voters over that.

yana said...


Really have to get around to reading the host's Transparent Society one of these days, it's in The Queue, and judging from the number of posts here alluding to it, it's his proudest kid. The slow-burn book now is Star Wars On Trial, started in May and should finish it in July, but right now am really reading The Disappearing Spoon.

But once Transparent Society is under the belt, there won't be any more Brin to read, except one piece called an Uplift Novella, forget the title, it's in the other room, but which i've been saving for my decennial re-read of that series. By the way, does anyone know that novella? Not looking for spoilers, just wonder in which order in the hexalogy that novella should be read?

Friends ask what's going on lately, that's what friends do, and for a couple months now, salted the convivial account with "and yeah, and been arguing about schitt on some guy's blog."

"What guy?"

"Oh, my favorite author, a guy called David Brin, science fiction stuff. He's got this one about dolphins and chimps banding together with people to fight aliens, it's wild stuff, gets hilarious."

"Sounds it, I'll check it out. Hey, did you see Solo yet?"

But here and now, admit to living a lie. In fact, Harlan Ellison is my favorite writer.

Oddly enough, he infected my brain through a comic book called The Chocolate Alphabet. Dad always said comic books would rot your brain, i only bought that one because the cover didn't look like a superhero saccharine serial, but a comic book led to another book, and if Harlan Ellison rotted my brain, then i don't want to be pure.

Duncan Cairncross said...

If you have run out of Brin to read try Donald Kingsbury -

yana said...


Duncan Cairncross:

If you have run out of Brin to read try Donald Kingsbury

Thanks, The Queue is deep but never set in stone.

yana said...


Grief aside, to consider this blog post and the supreme amount of political tooth-gnashing, who sees a forest? It's not the orange guy whose nutty methods will provoke the Rise of the Normals, it's the insistent creeping forward of christian sharia laws at the Cabinet level.

A bargain is now being settled, a holy handshake about 40 years ago. Once the tally is complete, it will be abundantly clear what each side of the Reagan-Falwell Compact hoped to gain. Just thank goodness it's finally reached fullness, since now even those fringe of fringey identities, who couch hate as christian, will have to drop the c-word in order to comfortably gnash teeth at webspiracies.

It's the reaction to christian sharia laws, which will shove a good lump of humanity up one rung. Later, you'll be glad you were here to see it.

Zepp Jamieson said...

" it's apparently A-OK to discriminate on the basis of political philosophy & deny them despicable conservatives service"

I don't feel any obligation to be nice to Nazis just because they are off the clock.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

LarryHart: "Maybe willful ignorance is the only way to live now."

On the contrary, willful engagement that rejects depression!


I know. I was despairing when I wrote that, and dropping from imagining fanciful solutions (like pretending to wake up and going, "So, it was all a dream!") to actually considering the redemptive value of tuning out the news and living as if politics is distant and unimportant--my version of the glavers' devolutionary path. Kurt Vonnegut actually suggests such a thing in Galapagos, a million years in the future where mankind has become a seal-like sea animal which evolution had to streamline by losing the 3 kg brain.

It doesn't last, though. I sometimes wish it would, because I know so many people who just don't care about politics. Even when they complain, it's about corruption or about the banality of political ads rather than about policy itself. And they seem much more content in their lives than I do.


Then again, we could be foolish, not to quit while we're ahead.
I can see me many miles away, inactive.

Sipping cocktails from a terrace. Eating breakfast in bed.
Resting easy doing crosswords. It's attractive.


It doesn't last, though. Righteous indignation triumphs over ennui. Dave Sim is correct that once a thing is seen, it can't be un-seen.



I have my soundtrack I pull out when despairing,


I've got Hamilton, which Trump has actually managed to stain with the cynical thought, "So what was the point? Look what became of the country." But I try not to think about it that way, and focus instead on the triumph of a rag-tag but determined underdog turning the world upside down.


"I was thinking more like California, but whatever works."
Come on by whenever you please. If you do swing by the happiest place on Earth, drop me a line: I'm only a few miles from there.


I've visited California many times, but my wife has an irrational aversion to moving there. If things get too bad, we might end up regretting that, because I can imagine it being like trying to get out of Austria in 1939 instead of leaving in 1933.


Berial: "the Democratic party is not actually 'selling' what the voters want."

And the problem is voters have been convinced, since all the rest of the ads they receive ARE trying to sell them something, ...


There's a fundamental flaw in the fact that voters leave it up to the political opposition party to sell them on the fact that the ruling party is a clear and present danger. We should be able to evaluate our political priorities independent of the warring parties' inevitably-biased advertisements.


"How else can the low turn out be explained?"
I think I've just explained it. There's no other context in which advertisements drive people NOT to participate.


I've mentioned before that my father-in-law who does vote Democratic and had no love for either W or Trump nevertheless thinks that internet jokes whose underlying premise is "The government is comically clueless and incompetent" are hilariously funny. That meme has been around longer than the word "meme" has, and it's difficult to overcome its power.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

For the left-leaning moralist who stood for Law, Order & Rule Obedience just a few short years ago


You're thinking of right-leaning moralists.


when his political cronies ruled the roost,


??? We had the presidency, which was obstructed entirely by congress and the supreme court, even when all congress could do was filibuster.


it's quite enlightening how quickly one disregards the federal rule-of-law & due process when it tramples upon his partisan personal interests.


That's your party's way of flipping the truth, so that objecting to corruption and obstruction of justice is a partisan issue, while the corruption and obstruction itself is "rule of law and due process."

What's enlightening is how quickly your party of law-and-order vilifies the FBI and the Justice Department when findings of actual fact trample upon their partisan political interests. Maybe, like Joe McCarthy, you'll take on the armed forces next? That could prove interesting.


Welcome to the Confederacy, my new friend. Never surrender, Resist, Always Resist, Viva La Revolution, et toujours de l'audace.


Except for the part that the Confederacy is what we're resisting--ok.


Hamilton:
Is there anything you wouldn't do?

Burr:
No, I'm chasing what I want.
And you know what?...I learned that from you.


* * *


Embarrassing Sarah Huckleberry Saddlebags was a good start[LH].

Although it's criminal to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, gender & disability, it's apparently A-OK to discriminate on the basis of political philosophy & deny them despicable conservatives service in progressive-run establishments,


You willfully misunderstand. It's already decided by the supreme court that discrimination is acceptable if it is required in order to uphold one's deeply held beliefs. Given that, I'm fine with playing by those rules and seeing how quickly you snowflakes fold when you have to take what you dish out. I'd rather the rules were different, but the only way to make that happen is for your side to be made to see why it would be better for all concerned.


And the progressive denunciation of targeted harassment against their red-coloured political opponents? Crickets.

All we hear is crickets.


Actually, Democrats are already shunning Maxine Waters for her incivility. The crickets you're hearing is the response from congress to a foreign agent in the White House.

LarryHart said...

yana:

By the way, does anyone know that novella? Not looking for spoilers, just wonder in which order in the hexalogy that novella should be read?


IIRC, that novella follows the adventures of the dolphin Peopoe (spelling?) after the Streaker crew is forced to abandon her on Jijo. It could therefore be read any time after the ship takes off near the end of the second book of the second trilogy, but it's probably best read as an epilogue to the entire trilogy.

And this is just my personal taste, but the novella explains a mystery left over from the trilogy which, IMHO, worked better as a mystery than as a revelation. Your mileage may vary.

occam's comic said...

It seems that George Monbiot form the Guardian has a response to Dave's cherry picked "be happy, we haven't killed all of the whales" yet factiod.

"I have lived long enough to witness the vanishing of wild mammals, butterflies, mayflies, songbirds and fish that I once feared my grandchildren would not experience: it has all happened faster than even the pessimists predicted. Walking in the countryside or snorkelling in the sea is now as painful to me as an art lover would find visits to a gallery, if on every occasion another old master had been cut from its frame.

The cause of this acceleration is no mystery. The United Nations reports that our use of natural resources has tripled in 40 years. The great expansion of mining, logging, meat production and industrial fishing is cleansing the planet of its wild places and natural wonders. What economists proclaim as progress, ecologists recognise as ruin.

This is what has driven the quadrupling of oceanic dead zones since 1950; the “biological annihilation” represented by the astonishing collapse of vertebrate populations; the rush to carve up the last intact forests; the vanishing of coral reefs, glaciers and sea ice; the shrinkage of lakes, the drainage of wetlands. The living world is dying of consumption."

LarryHart said...

@occam's comic,

I'm just wondering, have you considered replacing the "comic" in your nym with something more depressing?

locumranch said...


Alfred says "The outrage is due largely to the fact that we don't need to incarcerate for small shit" and then, without even pausing for breath, Alfred admits that we do exactly that: We punish and incarcerate specific identity groups for "shit" that has become increasingly small, only to become 'outraged' when those who we incarcerate & punish return the favour.

In the last thread, I quoted federal US immigration law which mandates "up to 6 months" incarceration for first offence & "up to 2 years" for subsequent offence. That's the Law. It's a bad law to be sure. I acknowledge that it's a bad law, one that does NOT affect me directly as a law-abiding US citizen, and I'm even willing to repeal this "bad law" on one condition.

I am affected by a VAST number of "bad laws", too -- bad laws supported by political progressives that threaten to punish & incarcerate my identity group for an ever increasing amount of "small shit" -- and I want those "bad laws" repealed immediately, too. That's the rub.

Either the Law applies to every one OR the Law applies to no one: NO exemptions and NO exceptions.

The shoe is on the other foot now, and All Your Outrage Are Belong To Us.


Best
_____

The selective application of green laws is driving poor Occam_C to distraction, especially the self-exemptions invoked by our most zealous Climate Change activists, and even Larry_H recognises the non-sustainablity of selective legal application , elsewise he wouldn't be quoting 'Evita' about finding job satisfaction & exile in Paraguay.

occam's comic said...

Hrmmmm

Cassandra's Child - would fit but it is a bit obvious.

Nietzche's Reflection - sounds cool but isn't quite right

Odin's Eye - you know the one he lost in order to find out about the coming of Ragnorock might just work.

Do you have any other suggestions Larry?

LarryHart said...

occam's comic:

Do you have any other suggestions Larry?


No offense intended. Your pessimism is often justified, but there's nothing "comic" about it.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

We punish and incarcerate specific identity groups for "shit" that has become increasingly small, only to become 'outraged' when those who we incarcerate & punish return the favour.


Are you even listening to yourself?

Let's try this:

We punish and incarcerate specific identity groups for "shit" that has become increasingly small, only to become 'outraged' when those who we incarcerate & punish peacefully take a knee in protest.


* * *


and even Larry_H recognises the non-sustainablity of selective legal application , elsewise he wouldn't be quoting 'Evita' about finding job satisfaction & exile in Paraguay.


Well, I've been advocating a consistent set of rules for everyone since forever. My complaint is that rules, civility, and decorum are apparently not meant to constrain Republicans. You consider it hypocrisy when I relent and play by the rules you create. But sometimes, jumping on the bandwagon is the best way to demonstrate that the wheels have fallen off.

And the Juan Peron line I invoked was meant to demonstrate the seductiveness of leaving it all behind and taking the glavers' path to redemption.

LarryHart said...

The New York times tells us what we already knew--that locumranch's "crickets" complaint is full of crap:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/29/opinion/civility-protest-civil-rights.html

...

This misunderstanding is widespread. Democratic leaders have lashed out at an epidemic of uncivil behavior in their own ranks. In a tweet, the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, denounced both “Trump’s daily lack of civility” and angry liberal responses “that are predictable but unacceptable.” Senator Charles Schumer described the “harassment of political opponents” as “not American.” His alternative: polite debate. “If you disagree with someone or something, stand up, make your voice heard, explain why you think they’re wrong, and why you’re right.” Democrat Cory A. Booker joined the chorus. “We’ve got to get to a point in our country where we can talk to each other, where we are all seeking a more beloved community. And some of those tactics that people are advocating for, to me, don’t reflect that spirit.”

...

A.F. Rey said...

There's one small piece of good news I noticed. Trump is fighting with Harley-Davidson about building their motorcycles overseas.

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/06/28/donald-trump-harley-davidson-dont-get-cute-682317

Think about it. Trump creates a tariff, which causes Europe to respond with their own tariff on Harley-Davidson. In order to maintain sales and profits, Harley decides to move manufacturing overseas (not an easy decision, considering Harley has arguably the most valuable trademark in history--how many other companies can brag that people tattoo their brand on their bodies?) :)

But now Trump is saying to them, no, you can't have your markets and profits, don't move overseas.

How do you think the business community will respond to Trump telling them how to run their businesses? Especially when it hurts the bottom line? De-regulation was the reason they supported him in the first place.

When corporations start working against him, how long before the hoi-poloi follow?

odin's eye said...

Larry,
Is it pessimism when the weatherman tells you a hurricane is on the way?
Is it pessimism when a doctor tells you, you have cancer?
Is it pessimistic to accept that anyone who ever lives is going to die?

Recognizing a dangerous /problematic reality is the only way to even begin to deal with the problem.

But you are right, I haven't made a "comic" post in a long time, I will start using a new name.

Jon S. said...

Occam, Odin sacrificed his eye not to foresee Ragnarok, but rather for wisdom to see the world, so he would no longer have to venture forth from Valhalla's halls to observe the world (there was only so much his ravens could tell him, after all).

So clearly that's not an appropriate name...

LarryHart said...

A.F. Rey:

But now Trump is saying to them, no, you can't have your markets and profits, don't move overseas.


Paul Krugman writes about that today.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/28/opinion/trump-harley-davidson-trade-war-tariffs.html

So Harley’s move is exactly what you’d expect to see given Trump policies and the foreign response.

But while it’s what you’d expect to see, and what I’d expect to see, it’s apparently not what Trump expected to see. His view seems to be that since he schmoozed with the company’s executives and gave its stockholders a big tax cut, Harley owes him personal fealty and shouldn’t respond to the incentives his policies have created. And he also appears to believe that he has the right to deal out personal punishment to companies that displease him. Rule of law? What’s that?


LarryHart said...

odin's eye (formerly occam's comic) :

But you are right, I haven't made a "comic" post in a long time, I will start using a new name.


I think you're taking my comment as more of a complaint than it was meant to be. But your last sentence there is what I was getting at.

Don't take "pessimistic" as something that should always be avoided. Yes, a doctor telling you that you're going to die painfully is pessimistic, but also realistic. Giving you happy "fake news" wouldn't help all that much in the situation.

I'll misquote a line from American Flagg! #20 or maybe it was #21:

I didn't say it wasn't good.

It's just not pizza.


I didn't say you were wrong.

It's just not comic.

odin's eye said...

When I read the story (many years ago) about how Odin looses his eye in was in the context of the wider story of Ragnorok. Odin gouges his eye out in order to get a drink from Mimir's well in order to gain wisdom.

LarryHart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/29/opinion/civility-protest-civil-rights.html

...

[Martin Luther] King aimed some of his harshest words toward advocates of civility, whose concerns aligned with the hand-wringing of many of today’s politicians and pundits. From his Birmingham jail cell, King wrote: “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action’.” King knew that whites’ insistence on civility usually stymied civil rights.

...

LarryHart said...

So here's the argument in favor of the glavers' path of redemption...

The other day, I mentioned the cute waitress who was feeling depressed because she broke up with her violent boyfriend. I don't know if this is exactly true, but it felt like I was talking her out of committing suicide.

So I saw her again today, and something good must have happened, because she was all bubbly and cheerful. More than that, she was openly grateful for the things I had said to her last week, and when I left the restaurant, she pushed a take-home box of pizza and cookies that I didn't even ask for into my hands, practically in tears of joy.

So I'm sorry, but even knowing that the American experiment may fail and humanity may be falling into a 30,000 year interregnum, I'm having a good day.

Treebeard said...

And that's why political obsession is stupid. It doesn't have much impact on the things that matter. The raccoons outside my house will still come around no matter who is elected. If you go looking for salvation or happiness in politics, you will be severely disappointed. The most worthwhile political ambition is to get to the point where you aren't attached to any particular form of government, ideology, nation, politician, etc., rather than to be a neurotic partisan who thinks the fate of the universe hangs in the political balance and whose mental state is shattered by the outcome of an election or the news of the day. That way lies total madness.

LarryHart said...

@Treebeard,

I never though I'd say this, but we're not disagreeing here.

locumranch said...


Behold the inherent contradiction:

First, Larry_H bemoans the loss of 'civility in public discourse' to imply that incivility equals racism; and, second, Larry_H quotes MLK to imply that an insistence on 'civility in public discourse' equals racism, too.

Either way, it sounds like Larry_H is caught in a progressive Catch-22.


Best

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Larry_H bemoans the loss of 'civility in public discourse' to imply that incivility equals racism;


Citation, please?

Or do you presume that anything a liberal columnist or activist or provocateur says agrees with me?


Either way, it sounds like Larry_H is caught in a progressive Catch-22.


I'm sure it does to the tone-deaf.

Anyway, you can't ruin my day, so as you Californians are wont to say, "Neener neener neener."

David Brin said...

Treebeard said...
And that's why political obsession is stupid. It doesn't have much impact on the things that matter."

Sorry, son. But we are wise to these tricks. You are the beneficiary of generations of men and women and brains and goodwill who reformed us out of cycles that truly were hopeless, into a tense climb out of darkness. Just because you are realizing that YOUR heroes - plantation lords and propagandists for cruel foreign dictators - are either insane or spectacularly stupid or evil - that doesn't mean that we have to symmetrically give up on today's heirs of Adam Smith, Ben Franklin, Teddy and FDR and Ike.

Yes, those heirs have proved to be incredibly stooopid, when it comes to polemic. But it took the Union 3 years to find generals, in the 1860s, too.

Treebeard said...

So in your world human existence was a giant horror until a few dudes like Smith, Franklin and the Roosevelts showed up and saved us all? For thousands of years the people here in America were living hopeless, miserable lives until their saviors showed up? There was no joy to be had in their canoes catching their fish among their people as their ancestors did? They needed old Ben and Adam to teach them about the real joys of existence? This is a good example of what I mean by political obsession leading to madness...

Zepp Jamieson said...

"So in your world human existence was a giant horror until a few dudes like Smith, Franklin and the Roosevelts showed up and saved us all?"

Yes. Life was "nasty, brutish and short." Much as people bemoan the 20th century with its world wars and emerging nations, the death rates from war and disease were far lower than any other century. Prior to the 20th century, places with life expectancies as high as 50 were rare.

Treebeard said...

I don't believe you. If I say modern life is "empty, soulless and sick", will you believe me?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Life is what you make of it.

Treebeard said...

Sounds good. So let's keep Hobbes, Franklin, Adams, FDR, Republicans and Democrats out of it.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Why should we do that?

Alfred Differ said...

locumranch | 'Up to six months' can include zero and often should.

If you want to point out any particular laws that you would offer up for repeal in exchange for something else, I'll listen. Make it interesting, though. I'm still libertarian enough to prefer removing laws to writing them.

As for me saying one thing and then the opposite, I don't think you can hear me quite right yet. You've got some odd assumption in your head that leads to misperception. When I say we don't need to incarcerate for small stuff, I say that because that is largely what I've seen. LE and prosecutors usually prefer to go after bigger issues. Usually. The ones to don't get dished up some of my anger. Enforcing every little stupid detail leads to ULE which brings civilization to and end.

So... offer up a law or three to remove as an exchange of effort for what I might want. Maybe we will get some others to agree.

Alfred Differ said...

@odin's eye | I can probably remember how to spell your new name better, so I'll stick with it.

I never really saw you as pessimistic. You strike me more as a believer in a rather gloomy perspective.

1) The hurricane may turn and strike from a more harmless angle.
2) The cancer may activate an insurance policy leaving your wife relatively well off for awhile.
3) One way to die is to turn into something else.

True. I'm a believer in a rather rosy perspective. Civilization needs all of us because we don't really know who is right even after big events seemingly happen. Sure... the hurricane hit New Orleans, but wasn't it the levee breach that did the real damage? 8)

Anyway... I appreciate your gloominess occasionally. Makes me think.

Alfred Differ said...

@treebeard | It doesn't have much impact on the things that matter. The raccoons outside my house will still come around no matter who is elected.

Hmm... I get the point about caring TOO much, but I think you err on the side of caring TOO little. Salvation and happiness aren't to be found in politics, but coordinated actions can be. Some happiness can be found there too.

1) I'm reasonably happy that me and my family haven't had to face plague or one of the many preventable diseases common to urban dwellers a few centuries ago. Small government tends to take care of most of that and when I think about it at all, I smile. [My first visit to my grandparents in England in the 70's coincided with a garbage strike in London, so this isn't just theoretical to me.]

2) You have an impressively low bar when it comes to attachments. I'd argue you should be kicked out of this civilization for your attitude of trying not to care about the form of governance. If I thought it mattered (I don't... much... as long as you aren't all that persuasive), I'd happily escort you to some deserted island and leave you there where governance REALLY wouldn't matter.

3) You are being thick about Smith and the others. It's not really about them being Great Men. They make decent exemplars, though I might not include Theodore Roosevelt so much. He was both good and bad in a way that made him damn dangerous. Still... exemplars provide us with the stories that shape our virtues. We don't have to be led, but it IS useful to have some good examples of how to live well.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | she pushed a take-home box of pizza and cookies

You cared...

... at the right moment.

I'd bet big money you were rapidly constructing a model of her mind in your head in order to comprehend her in that moment.

An Act Of Love. 8)

David Brin said...

" So let's keep Hobbes, Franklin, Adams, FDR, Republicans and Democrats out of it."

Oh, you'd like that. Oh, Acolyte of Hobbes. You'd return us to dark ages of misery in which the "soulful" message of the priests was "It's a good thing that stupid lord's sons will own your sons and daughters without ever having done a thing but grow up spoiled rotten."

No, we won't abandon the brilliant heroes who rescued us from a beastly way of life in which you whingeing ingrate would not last a minute. Kibble.

locumranch said...



So, Alfred (who self-identifies as a 'Libertarian') wishes to negotiate the adoption of new 'improved' laws in exchange for the repeal of certain malignant & outdated laws, and I am ready to comply:

How does repealing 'most of them' sound, especially those designed to IMPROVE human morality, in accordance with libertarian principle, in order to LIMIT legal & governmental intervention to property & contract enforcement?

Let's put all that 'Better Angels' rubbish to the ultimate test & give actual DEMOCRACY back to the individual, shall we?

Or, should we mince farther down the primrose path of totalitarian Taylorism as David suggests by allowing a Scientific Elite micromanages every aspect human existence in order to conform to some sort of absurd progressive optimum?

Best

David Brin said...

" as David suggests by allowing a Scientific Elite micromanages" You are a liar. You are a deliberate and knowing liar. You look in a mirror and spew at it. How come you hate yourself?

ah well. Onward

onward

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