Monday, June 11, 2018

Predicting the Korea "deal." Kim gets everything he wants.

Alas, the news just won't leave us be. Especially after our alliances were demolished at the G-7 summit... and we're about to be betrayed at the Trump-Kim meeting in Singapore.

And hence, I will do the adult thing and couch my predictions as a wager. A bet. I have a reputation for foresight. But I never say what will happen.  But I reckon the following scenario has better than two-to-one odds. (At the end of this piece, see some alternatives with lesser-odds.)


== It's the Conventional Forces, Stupid ==

Let's start by questioning an assumption shared across the political spectrum, that the central issue is Kim Jong Un's access to nuclear weaponry. Oh, sure, that's important, but it is also a potemkin issue, a mask for deeper purposes.

First, despite achieving H-bombs and ICBMs at remarkable -- even implausible -- speeds, Kim's danger to the U.S. remains far from imminent. He knows that any attempt to harm others with those bombs would be personal suicide for him. And he already had the capability, with thousands of dug-in artillery tubes, to flatten Seoul in a matter of minutes. Nevertheless:

If Kim Jong Un verifiably surrenders all his nukes, I will eat a bug.

Sure, there will be superficial concessions: a supervised elimination of nuclear R&D, along with demolition of nuclear production and testing sites. Big deal. These are no longer needed by the NK regime. Indeed, it is my private belief that they were always just for show; he got his nukes elsewhere. In any event, none of those concessions matter. Those facilities are now expenses he'd rather eliminate from his ledger.

Knowing that he holds all the cards, Kim will demand and get a residuum of perhaps five or six nuclear weapons... as a "deterrent."  He will also insist on guarantees against any attempted regime change, plus an end to sanctions, plus a massive aid package and -- above all -- a draw-down of conventional arms and armies on both sides.

Who could object to that, you ask? Isn't peace the direction we want to go?
Oh, but do try to see things as the professionals in our studious, thoughtful, but maligned "deep state" services and agencies already do. Especially this simple fact:

Conventional armed forces are incredibly expensive. 

The biggest threat to the Pyongyang leadership caste is their vast, bulky, and expensive conventional army. Not only is it bankrupting the nation, but at any moment, an uprising at one base could rapidly spread, turning Kim's military into an instant, deadly danger to the regime. While others point to historical examples like Libya and Iraq, the best parallel is the brutal Romanian-communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu, who was overthrown in an almost instantaneous popular revolt, spearheaded by countless junior officers.

For reasons of both economic and personal survival, Kim desperately needs a smaller army.

In contrast, nuclear weapons - once you have them - are cheap to hold, to hide and to maintain.

Kim's current dilemma has only one solution, then. Keep enough nukes to deter any adventurous notions  on our side... and hold onto those artillery tubes threatening Seoul... then entice both South Koreans and Americans to shout hosannahs over a "deal" to slash their own forces below the DMZ. Forces they can easily afford and that pose them zero risk.

Let's be clear: any conventional draw-down is Kim's chief aim, his win-win.

But oh, why not also get the South and the U.S. to pay for it all, ending sanctions and with massive aid, welcoming Kim to the club of international leaders? Add more wins.

Look, I'm no war-monger. Elsewhere I've railed against what seems to be powerful momentum toward a U.S.-Iran conflict that can only have one possible outcome. (We would lose.) Hence, I do not oppose genuine deal-making that could lead to actual peace on the Korean peninsula.

On the other hand, we need to learn from the author of "The Art of the Deal." Especially when Donald Trump is clearly falling -- either emotionally or deliberately -- for every sucker-trap that he described in that prophetic book. Desperate to save his presidency he cares only about symbolism.

Sure, it's a shout into the wind, as Nobel-level praise will foam across all ends of the political spectrum. But the "deal" that appears to be taking shape is one that benefits a mad and brutal dictator at every level. It is one in which we lose-lose-lose.



== Addendum: lesser odds ==

It is possible that Donald Trump will do something else. He might look Kim in the eye, then swivel and leave.


Think about it.  What else could add to his cred so simply? Implying that he truly is a savvy "gut" genius?


It would throw all critics off balance, and that would serve the purposes of Beijing and Moscow, too.  


Lesser odds. One in five, I'd say.  But again, theater, not substance. The real enemy is every professional and "deep state" smartypants. They - and we - lose-lose-lose
.

128 comments:

Daniel Packman said...

It seems that Kim's primary if only aim is to continue his regime. His ouster of Chinese aligned generals shows he doesn't want a regime change imposed by the US or China. So any deal that he would agree to (not necessarily hew to) would be in service of this central goal. And if any agreement would retain and strengthen Kim's position, is there any room here for something you would consider of value to the US?

I presume that some of our goals other than regime change would include: denuclearization, decreased arms/personnel on the border, decreased threat of war, better access across the border for split families, improved economic conditions for the North Korean citizens, and improved human rights for same. We might see something positive in all of these but the last since they might not conflict with Kim's prime directive.

So I see a deal where Kim gets everything he wants and we get some.

donzelion said...

My projections: Trump and Kim will endorse the status quo, call it a win. FoxNews will represent Trump's 'twitter diplomacy' as an incredible illustration of his successful leadership. In a few months, Republicans will start claiming that at least Trump got them to talk (changing the definition of strength entirely, and overlooking that Obama doing much the same - but with added security controls - was the butt of their jokes for years).

But any military draw down in NK is tricky: rather than disarm the military, Kim will probably 'reclassify' more units as 'civilian police/security' forces (they already exist, but saying that he is complying with new terms of an agreement will give him cover). Long precedent for that exists in NK, paramilitaries/irregulars are cheaper than actual military, and even the 'actual military' often performs more menial labor than martial service (but not all units...).

One threat to Kim's rule is that reclassified paramilitary forces revolt - a threat that could be increased with foreign support (e.g., SK or Americans blocking NK propaganda organs or empowering communications capabilities in support of a revolt). Kim's conventional armament deters that threat - his nuclear arsenal will persist, deterring more aggressive support for a coup.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

But the "deal" that appears to be taking shape is one that benefits a mad and brutal dictator at every level.


And it's a good deal for Kim Jung-Un as well. :)

donzelion said...

Daniel: "So I see a deal where Kim gets everything he wants and we get some."

I am more skeptical about our actually getting anything beyond symbolism.

Denuclearization? We will not get concessions against NK comparable to what we got and discarded against Iran.

Decreased arms/personnel on the border? More police, less 'military' - same guys, new uniforms (more likely, new badges on old uniforms).

Decreased threat of war? Trump doesn't even need to talk to Kim to reduce that - he just needs to stop tweating threats of war. However, simply doing so, then stopping doing so, does change things, esp. through a friendly media prism.

Better access across the border for split families? Maybe...Kim probably wants to send his own defectors out of the country, rather than have to pay to monitor them, then pay to monitor the monitors...but when was that ever something America wanted?

Improved economic conditions for the North Korean citizens? Odd: that was an American concern in the '90s, but hasn't been for a while.

Improved human rights for same? LOL, hardly a strong American concern, except in the vaguest possible conception.

I agree that the Kim regime's continuation is their crucial consideration - but Trump also wants to ensure his regime's continuation - and as with all demogagues, recognizes that other demagogues are easier sources for shoring up domestic support than actually building or changing anything.

pvl said...

Pardon my disagreement. I'm no Trumper (polar opposite, actually), BUT I see the scenario you lay out as something other than "lose-lose-lose":

"Sure, it's a shout into the wind, as Nobel-level praise will foam across all ends of the political spectrum. But the "deal" that appears to be taking shape is one that benefits a mad and brutal dictator at every level. It is one in which we lose-lose-lose."

The deal you describe is a total loser ONLY if the primary goal is Regine change in N. korea.

As reprehensible as the crazy dictator (the one in Korea) is, I reject forced regime change as a legit targeted outcome.

IF Trump comes out of this with a dismantled nuclear program, and drawn down troops on bith sides, and at least some nods towards improved conditions for the N. Korean people (which with some world-funding would be likely since Kim has to do something to shore up his political hold), and greatly reduced tensions all around: thatst a win-win-win in my book. And I don't hate to say it - even thiugt I despise Trump and choke on the thought of his getting anything that looks like a win prior to mid-terms - because what was described is so far better than what we got in Iraq or Afghanistan, and what we'll likely get in Iran. Better both in real economic terms as well as better morally.

We need to electorally kick Trump's ass in November. If he gets this "win" we must just suck it up and get our win despite his having a success to brag about.

Anonymous said...

Alfred Differ:

Then, the book "The Errors of Socialism" is an apocryphal book. All right. It is better not to read a book if it is false. (And it's the last one I got from him)
Since you did not mention Noam Chomsky; I must assume that maybe you consider him a phony. (I do not know, because I have not read Chomsky's book, but some Spaniards who see conspiracies everywhere are very attracted to the ideas of that author) And since I am a little paranoid, I suppose that is the cause of I'm interested in Chomsky's ideas. (Ecologists feed the soul of ecology, poets feed the soul of poems and paranoids feed the soul with paranoid ideas).
But as a certain American official said some time ago: Are we being paranoid enough? (That is to say, that, in the high commands of the army, they consider the paranoia a necessity not to fall in the traps of the enemy). Of course, there is a limit to healthy paranoia. But as technology advances, there are more and more things to worry about. Then, the limit between the reasonable and the insane is erased. (Hoo, that could be a theme for a science fiction novel.)
So, I must read first: "Road to servitude" by Hayek

Winter7

locumranch said...


There are inherent inconsistencies in David's positions, yet it is hard to fault him personally for what appears to be typical progressive catechism & doublethink:

He talks endlessly about 'Pax Americana' then insists that those G7 nations who benefit from unilateral US military protection & patronage are our Allies & Equals, even though our 'Equals' would NOT require either our patronage or protection.

David also argues that allowing 'Kim (to get) everything he wants' & maintain a nuclear deterrent would amount to a North Korean 'win' & an international 'betrayal', while arguing (in this & other posts) that an Iran treaty which allows Iran 'to get everything (it) wants & maintain a nuclear deterrent' was somehow 'win-win' for everybody.

"Along with the inevitability of Enlightenment is the coming AI singularity. Look at the entire history of life on earth. Despite every setback there has been an unstoppable trench toward greater complexity and increased intelligence. A transcendent AI is the next step.

Gerold's words (above) reveal that the typical prog belongs to a koolaid-drinking Messianic Cult like 'Heaven's Gate', identical in every way to the religious fundies that the prog mocks at every opportunity, the only difference being that the progs await the arrival of a mechanical 'AI' saviour of their own construction rather than the first or second coming of biblical prophecy.

To disguise this rather pathetic truth, the prog indulges in linguistic relativism, exemplified by the claim that words have no definitive meaning beyond what the user pretends, which allows the deceitful to pervert representative language to their own Orwellian ends.

The typical language speaker uses words in a representational fashion insomuch as conventional word use reflects, communicates & represents objective reality, but the dissimulator reverses & abuses this representational linguistic convention in order to conjure the desired reality out of thin air.

AKA 'Logos', this is the incantational magic behind the magical thinking of 'if we say it then it must be true' -- or, so the credulous assume: Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength; War is Peace; EU Dependence equals an Alliance of Equals; Illegal immigration equals 'Undocumented' immigration; Abstract thoughts are REAL; and 'There are no good republicans'.

Blah blah blah blah is all I hear when some insist that words mean what ever they want them to mean.

Some call it 'Spin', but I call it 'Lies'; our Culture declines because we have become bewitched & englamoured by the false words of our own device; and, as the words we use no longer represent actual reality in any shape or form, we are left deluded, powerless & incapacitated by our false beliefs.


Best
___

In actuality, the North Korean nuclear question is a non-issue because it is a 'win' in the unlikely event of NK denuclearisation & a 'win' if NK refuses to give up its nuclear weapons.

The REAL issue is US complicity in maintaining an artificial Korean Peninsula status quo, and this problem would resolve immediately if the US withdraws after 'gifting' the South Korean government a nuclear warhead, a solution that would result in MAD, neutralise any (conventional) military advantage on either side & eliminate any attendant conflict between the major powers via proxy.

Anonymous said...

I remember that Robert de Niro helped Al Pacino get out of the drug trap. Evidently De Niro is a decent man.
In addition, his most recent actions confirm that he is one of the bravest American patriots.

Link:

https://www.theguardian.com/film/video/2018/jun/11/robert-de-niros-fuck-trump-speech-at-tony-awards-video


Winter7

Laurence said...

Kim is unlikely to want to roll back the military, as it's just about the only organ of the North Korean state which still functions. He's more likely to reassign soldiers to such roles as gatherng harvests, running de-facto private enerprises and of course the main role of the army in any totalitarian state - keeping his own people from escaping!

Anonymous said...

Actually, apart from the fact that North Korea will receive a lot of money, I do not see how the situation will change. ¿How could Americans know if North Korea does not hide dozens of hydrogen bombs and missiles in deep mines? ¿As? (And they will probably hide more than that)
By the time inspectors arrive to verify the agreements, the North Koreans will show 50% of their obsolete arsenal as "the total of their weapons".
Do US laws give eternal immunity to former presidents? Is it not possible to judge them for acts of treason and corruption?

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

winter7 | I don't think the 'Fatal Conceit' book is false. It is consistent with Hayek's other writings in terms of content even if it does sound like someone else's voice. Besides, it is probably the most readable thing with Hayek's name on it, so it is worth reading.

I don't know much about Chomsky, so I'm not saying much. I'm aware of his reputation, but not whether he deserves it. I have one book of his regarding language and that's it. I'll let someone else speak for or against his work.

Regarding 'Road to Serfdom' I recommend reading a chapter and then stopping long enough to write down your thoughts and objections to what you've read so far. Actually write them down as if you were responding to him as if he had posted a chapter here. I did that in order to form clear rebuttals to what he claimed. It turns out he addressed those rebuttals in the next chapter each time, so that helped me prepare myself to comprehend the course he took through the book. I also wrote them out because at the time I was certain I was going to strongly disagree with him. Being able to keep your position in mind while reading an argument offered by another author is a balancing act. I found reading his book to be a frustrating experience because he kept poking big holes in my rebuttals as if he had been sitting in front of me patiently educating an ignorant student. I've been through that experience with other professors, so I knew how it felt. It's challenging to put it mildly. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | There are some interesting tricks regarding nuclear physics that one can use to observe what the other side has and compare that to their claims. Remember that the fuels tend to be radioactive and then think about how far away we can be and still eavesdrop on their warheads.

Former Presidents are not immune. Tradition has encouraged us to let them be, but there are no immunity laws. They would have to argue that they were exercising a valid power of the President eventually if we choose to break our tradition.

David Brin said...

Daniel P. and Donzelion, thanks, but you utterly ignored every single thing that I said here. If a bright guy like you cannot read and grasp anything that parts from appearances, I hold little hope that any but the professionals can see what’s going on.

“pvl” is better. He/she actually/actually read what I wrote here. And objects to my wanting to retain some possibility that the NK people might have a rising voice in their lives. Let me be clear about where you and I part company. Every murder or rape committed by the Kim regime is an act of war against humanity. The central goal of the puppeteers of both Kim and Trump is to end all “color revolutions” that might turn them into Khaddafis or Ceaucescus! They know that threat won’t go away till they bring the West low.

No Winter7, we are not being paranoid enough. Goldfinger’s rule. Anyone denying we are already at war is a polyanna fool.

locum is still taking vitamins! And still claiming “logic” where there is none, refuses to supply evidence for any assertion, and never ever ever puts on the table his own solutions. Oh, and runs screeching from wagers.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

The REAL issue is...


Issues are real, but ideas are not. Got it.

sociotard said...

Any outcome other than a first strike, starting a war with China, North Korea, and any of our allies dragged weeping in . . .

that's an outcome I can find peace with.

But I'd only give that nightmare a 1 in 100. DT is impulsive, but he isn't that impulsive. I hope.

locumranch said...


Right-o. Here are my wagers:

(1) Trump will attend the Korean Conference and threaten US withdraw from the Korean Peninsula unless North & South Korea kiss & make up. North Korea & China will assume that they have 'won'. South Korea will panic, rebuke Trump for poor diplomacy, and then grovel & apologise to its US protector. Trump will offer South Korea its own nuclear deterrent. China, North Korea & possibly Japan will panic. North & South Korea will kiss & make up.

(2) Following the recent G7 rudeness and escalating tensions between Turkey & Germany, Trump will make overtures to EU outliers like Hungary while suggesting that NATO has outlived its usefulness. The EU outliers & Russia will assume that they have won. The EU will panic, rebuke Trump for poor diplomacy, and then grovel & apologise to its US protector in a display that will embolden the pro-Trump European Right. Trump will then express renewed interest in the NATO alliance.

(3) On the North America continent, Trudeau will channel Robert DeNiro & rebuke Trump for poor diplomacy. Trump will reinstate tariffs. Canadian business interests will panic. Trudeau won't have time to grovel & apologise as he will be forced to step down by spurious #MeToo allegations. Trump will suspend tariffs, allowing Doug Ford to run for Canadian Prime Minister.

(4) Mexico may or may not rebuke Trump, but it will not matter because no one really cares about or believes in Mexico, not even the Mexicans.


Best
______

@Larry_H: Materially observable things, actions & interactions are 'real' and, assuming material observability, any-THING (including 'issues') may be considered 'real'. An object like a chair is 'real', assuming that one can interact with it & sit on it, but the IDEA of an object like a chair is 'unreal' if one cannot sit on it or interact with it. The act of ascribing 'thing-ness' to an abstract idea is called a 'literary conceit' (metaphor; analogy), like the conceit called Mercy in Terry Pratchett's 'Hogfather'.

Alfred Differ said...

To be decent wagers, they need an element of time in them.
WHEN does X happen? By date Y.

They also need to be verifiable by a disinterested party. (4) fails in this regard because no one can really be sure that no one actually cares except in the negation when someone obviously does. The trouble is in knowing the outcome.

NATO HAS outlived its original purpose, but not its usefulness, but that isn't really the point of that particular wager idea. Trump can say anything he wants and even contradict himself and that part of the wager would appear to be satisfied. This shows that a decent wager also needs to be specific in what will happen. Exactly what is X again?

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

@Larry_H: Materially observable things, actions & interactions are 'real' and, assuming material observability, any-THING (including 'issues') may be considered 'real'.


The point being, you scold Alfred for sloppy language or however you put it, as if there's some rule he could learn to follow that would make his use of language acceptable to you and avoid ridicule. Instead, you're making it clear that the "rule" is whatever bugaboo you're thinking about at the moment. 2 + 2 is whatever the Party says it is.

Trying to placate you is a pointless mug's game, so why should anyone play?

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donzelion said...

Locum: While Dr. Brin assumes I neither read nor understood him (I did, and responded directly, calling attention to appearances he's inattentive towards), you've offered something that is actually new and interesting -

"The REAL issue is US complicity in maintaining an artificial Korean Peninsula status quo,"
Every status quo is artificial, as is every nation-state, so that's no new or interesting. Rather, this -

"this problem would resolve immediately if the US withdraws after 'gifting' the South Korean government a nuclear warhead, a solution that would result in MAD, neutralise any (conventional) military advantage on either side & eliminate any attendant conflict between the major powers via proxy."

It's an intriguing gambit: SK can defend itself conventionally, and now, unconventionally as well. The risk is that SK, with nukes, would invite Japan to similarly develop an arsenal, and that brinksmanship among any of the players would follow. In the past, those sorts of rivalries routinely manifested in war - friends could become enemies (and vice versa) - so a gift of such a weapon seems based on assuming SK will remain our friends, never use our weapons against us (or our other allies), and never use them against their enemies 'except when absolutely forced to' - all balanced against a possibility of a much larger nuclear exchange should the powers intervene (as America and China almost certainly would, and Russia as well).

Seems like a lot of risks for the simple sake of washing hands and heading home, and that's not even a purpose worth serving (we get a LOT from our relationship with SK, and not just Trump's personal tweeting devices).

donzelion said...

Laurence: "Kim is unlikely to want to roll back the military, as it's just about the only organ of the North Korean state which still functions."

On the contrary, he's likely to alter the military, and even 'agree' to demilitarize significantly, if in doing so, that means he can stop maintaining creaky trucks, tanks, and artillery systems that are no longer cost effective. He can even blow up a large chunk of nonservicable gear and claim that doing so constitutes 'disarmament.'

"He's more likely to reassign soldiers to such roles as gatherng harvests, running de-facto private enerprises and of course the main role of the army in any totalitarian state - keeping his own people from escaping!"
They already do, but I concur, and expect he'll do so even more (this was my snide comment about changing badges but keeping the old uniforms). But bear in mind that he has armies within the army policing the army (and police policing his police). So long as any coup attempt comes from those units who have to walk to Pyongyang for want of any vehicles...he probably thinks he's as secure as he can be.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Yah. In this case he is essentially arguing over what is materially observable.

My 19 yr old son is autistic and mostly capable of verbalizing. The notions come out odd now and then, but he can get them out. Give him a new question, though, and one can see the idea working its way through his mind. It's written on his face very clearly, so I don't need the fMRI device. I just need a reasonably decent model of him as a mind which I happen to have. 8)

He's occasionally amusing when he pulls out the dictionary and quotes at us. It's his substitute Bible in a sense. Don't question Scripture! It still needs interpreting for the ignorant, though, and he's an obvious choice for an expert. Har! 8)

I've learned to love languages more as I've faced the challenges my son presents. Languages are beautifully emergent ensuring the only experts are the ones we choose to accept. What they do for us is barely understood, I think, but they are the most potent tools humanity has EVER built.

Alfred Differ said...

If Two Scoops gifts a nuke to SK, I'd argue we need the opposite of that peace prize for him.

Anonymous said...

Alfred Differ:
It is certainly possible to use seismometers to detect nuclear tests. But I doubt that it is possible to detect radiation from a nuclear warhead hidden in a mine three kilometers deep.
In fact, I suspect that, in some Cuba mines, there could still be some twelve Soviet missiles hidden. Well. If before the U2 plane took photos of the missiles, the Americans did not know that the Russians already had missiles in Cuba. Consequently, how to know if several missiles were already stored in mines at the time that the Americans took the aerial photos? Of course, if I were Nikita Khrushchev, and I already had missiles hidden in Cuba, I would affirm that the missiles visible in the photos were the only ones I had on the island. Why give up tactical advantages at a time when staying cold is crucial?
Unless you're talking about using a certain device available in the Large Hadron Collider, in Europe, which is multipurpose and global in scope. (We should not talk about that device, I think locumranch is listening to us).

Winter7

David Brin said...

Yipe! Yay vitamins! locumranch got specific! Be still my heart! Of course the predictions are jibbering nonsense, reflecting his hates more than any understanding of the players. But wow.

As for giving SK a counterbalance nuke, cripes, what dopiness. The Southrons worry about casualties. Kim couldn’t give a darn. In a nuclear exchange, he’d send his armies through radioactive dust, if he thought he could command statues to his reunification.

No donzel. Consider that you recited standard nostrums to every original thought in my Korea missive.

Alfred, oh my. God bless you and all you love.

David Brin said...

David Ronfeldt is the best international security analyst alive. I cannot count the number I have spoken to, who cannot squint and see the Big Picture. Goldfinger's Rule. If something happens three or more times, act on the assumption it was "enemy action." We now have hundreds of "coincidental" actions, all of which revolve around one direction... dismantling every western strength that won us the Cold War. -- See Ronfeldt's comment on my predictions about Korea:

"First, Trump withdrew our country from the Paris Agreement on climate change, then from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on trade and investment. Yesterday, he rejected the Iran nuclear deal. In a few months, this time to acclaim, he will agree to a peace agreement for the Korean peninsula.

These moves all have two points in common:

(1) They serve the interests of Moscow and Beijing — I’d posit more than the interests of the United States. If there is a Korean peace agreement, it will be more because of Beijing and Moscow than Washington.

(2) Those four moves all serve to undermine the “global commons” — the spaces located outside national jurisdictions and open to all, like the high seas, upper atmosphere, outer space, and cyberspace (plus other stuff depending on who is doing the defining). For decades, this concept, though it almost never makes the news, has been critically important to future-oriented environmental scientists and civil-society activists, as well as to U.S. military planners and strategists (and to NATO).

However, the Trump Admin and its fellow strategists seem deliberately disinterested in the global commons. It is also a concept that Beijing and Moscow do not accept, for it hinders their respective grand strategies.

In sum, the four Trump moves I mentioned up front, in different ways and to varying degrees, will serve to damage the global commons, as a concept and reality, to the benefit of Moscow and Beijing.

donzelion said...

"No donzel. Consider that you recited standard nostrums to every original thought in my Korea missive."

Think I missed the original thoughts there. "Sure, there will be superficial concessions"? (three commentators on NPR said precisely that weeks ago, as have most others they've brought back - I can probably find you a dozen others without much Googling). De-nuclearization? Not likely. Some disarmament? Quite likely. "Desperate to save his presidency [Trump] cares only about symbolism"? A claim nearly every Dem-aligned pundit has echoed (as have a few Reps). Those are the nostrums, Dr. Brin.

"Indeed, it is my private belief that [NK's nukes] were always just for show; he got his nukes elsewhere."
Now that is an original thought, but also one refuted by the "the professionals in our studious, thoughtful, but maligned "deep state" services and agencies." You do not KNOW better than they - you just think differently (and their thinking has the benefit of evidence neither of us has, though that tends to be a small piece of the puzzle).

"Conventional armed forces are incredibly expensive."
My treatment of your point actually advances your own argument credibly. Kim doubtless would wish to invoke the 'spirit of international agreement' to justify certain disarmament he intends to do anyway, but which could be politically delicate (as in, people would start to question why their tanks n trucks just weren't working at all, better to blow them up in a 'sign of strength' than to have them sit in a warehouse waiting for spare parts that will never come). THAT is a good point. Most of the rest? Regurge.

Get the US to pay for it? Unlikely...but then again, why not? All sorts of intel possibilities emerge simply by dropping off cash and watching what happens (not that we collect intel that way...any more...to my knowledge...).

pvl said...

David - If you have a link to the David Ronfeldt comments, that would be interesting.

As for this comment:

"Let me be clear about where you and I part company. Every murder or rape committed by the Kim regime is an act of war against humanity. The central goal of the puppeteers of both Kim and Trump is to end all “color revolutions” that might turn them into Khaddafis or Ceaucescus! They know that threat won’t go away till they bring the West low."

First - yes, I agree. There are monstrous things being done by that evil little prick. But - at the heart of "the wests" oh-so-heartfelt moral crisis about it, is the sordid history of our own abuses past and present, and the history of our ineffective interventions that more often than not worsen the situation. And the arrogance. And even more: we humans MUST get beyond violence as our answer to everything. It has not, does not, will not (cannot, ultimately) work.

Just as there are better ways than fist fighting to take care of bullies on playground, there are better ways for governments to deal with other governments and cultures. No - not pollyanna time - but finding real coordinated world-wide ways to pressure, isolate, encourage and limit.

We can and SHOULD be finding ways to strengthen our alliances, so that the world as a whole can most effectively bring a strategy that deals with this situation. I think of the tragedy of our invasion of Iraq - the 911 attack drew the world to us, and was an opportunity to find allys and support for containing the militant Islamic threat. But - instead, that goodwill was squandered by an invasion against the wrong target for the wrong reasons, and it only dug our hole deeper.

Dammit - we have to find a way a time and a method for growing up - our human politics are pathetic and childish, and ineffective. Trump is just the black tip of the blackhead, the puss below is the war industry and the carnal appetites of those who profit from both war and oil and exploitation.

When do we stop the madness?

We

Anonymous said...


Alfred Differ:

It seems that luteolin improves autistic people:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5545641/
And oregano contains a lot of luteolin and is powerful in antioxidants:
https://mastcellblog.wordpress.com/tag/luteolin-rich-foods/
And I doubt that oregano tea is toxic because in fact, it protects the liver against toxic substances. (anyway it's better not to exaggerate)
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/13880209.2014.908399
I'm not sure, but it seems that in California there are free care centers for people with autism:
http://vistacba.com/california-regional-center-autism-support-services/
I have always thought that having goals is better therapy than using a psychologist.
If you teach your child to do rough jobs: Use of tools; pipe repair; repair of keys, how to paint, how to work with wood, how to use mathematics in buying and selling. How to make basic electricity repairs, etc.
All this is vital. And if you teach him a trade that will help him make a profit, that would be good.
I have always thought that business selling snacks is good business. (Popcorn, elotes decked in glass with chili and mayonnaise, tortilla chips with yellow cheese, etc.
In any case, it is important to make the person as self-sufficient as possible. (Going camping could be a great educational experience).
In my family, each time we treated older adults who could no longer care for themselves, we learned that it is vital to prevent constipation. Because constipation can lead to severe tamponade and hospitalization. I prevent it with papaya or pineapple smoothies. And if the constipation does not stop, it is necessary to boil about five pods of unshelled tamarind in about two cups of water. Once boiled in a pot the tamarind, use a crusher of beans to crush the pulp and stir it with water. Stir the tamarind to another pot and in the colander you finish crushing the remaining tamarind without force on the pot. Throw the seeds and the fiber that did not break down. That tamarind water is excellent for disinfecting the stomach and getting everything out of the intestine easily.
Daily hydration is something easy to forget. Dehydration is common in people who are a little sick and can not take good care of themselves.
A balanced diet is vital (fruits and vegetables and meat)

And remember that the B vitamins cause neurogenesis, just like the guavas; the exercise; consume Bacopa monnieri; dance; read; etc.

Winter7

David Brin said...

Alone with Kim and two trusted translators... a perfect time for DT's debriefing and new instructions.

David Brin said...

donzel I was just inside those agencies doing consults. I think I know them better than you do.

"pvl" I call bull. We have failed and been thugs only by OUR standards. Compared to all other pax powers... every single other nation tempted with great power... we have been paragons, paladins, shining beacons of at least 50% rectitude and generosity and effectiveness.

Criticism benefits us (we are the 1st to incorporate it.) But we need BOTH contexts. And your harping on just one misses the entire picture.

Tell the people of Eastern Europe how America should not have maintained a 70 year struggle to set them free.

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | I think you would be surprised what we can know about someone's nukes from a distance. Remember that the US is a space-capable nation and space isn't all that far away. We can get pretty close to essentially anywhere on Earth.

As for my son, I've learned it is all about how people learn new skills. Those of us who aren't autistic don't realize how much brain-power we apply to social skills and how relatively easy our biology makes it for us to do so. Autism (whatever it is) appears to injure the easy ways to learn those skills (and a number of other things) and there are life-long impacts with no cures likely. Whatever the injury, though, a parent's job is to find some other way for the kid to learn. Any way, every way. Patience is required, though, because social skills are monstrously complex. The rest of us REALLY have no idea just how complicated it all is. 8)

Anyway, I got on this because I've learned thoughts are actions. I might have agreed with locumranch many years ago that they aren't by splitting a fine hair, but I've had to learn. Actually I had to unlearn first. A 'self' accretes in the brain of a child through experience and imitation. Injury to imitation skills appears to be at the heart of autism, so a 'self' takes longer, comes out different, and uses a brain's extra horsepower normally devoted to social skills for something else if given half a chance. Thoughts are real things in very measurable ways.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "I was just inside those agencies doing consults. I think I know them better than you do."

I'm sure you do think so. Sometimes, our beliefs are accurate. But without evidence, they remain nothing but beliefs.

As for this post's claim, my argument actually reinforces your own view of how Kim intends to 'win' through any sort of agreement: disbanding certain divisions at home becomes a show of strength, harmonious intention, and compliance with understandings...doing what he already intended, but looking entirely different as he does it.

As for Ronfeldt, he deserves credit for talking about 'cyberocracy' long before anyone realized how important this stuff would become (40 years ago). Sort of glad that particular term didn't stick though.

donzelion said...

Winter7: to chime along with Alfred's point, we often don't even need to see into a bunker 3 miles deep to know that it's interesting...and worth blocking.

And in this sort of war...well, Japan and SK would each survive one nuke, but possibly not 4 or 5 (the population wouldn't be destroyed even then, but the government could well be wrecked). Best avoided. No matter what we think we know, we cannot know how the future unfolds.

donzelion said...

Pvl- "Dammit - we have to find a way a time and a method for growing up - our human politics are pathetic and childish, and ineffective."

Agreed. But our human politics can also be sort of beautiful at times, in a way. In China, one man stood in front of a tank one time, became an icon of Tiananmen Square, man resisting the state's mighty jackboot with nothing but courage. In America, people do that every day, and so often that it's not even newsworthy.

The pus behind Trump is a bit more cancerous than just the war industry, the oil industry, or any other single actor. It's ultimately the old enemy trying to break through a structure we designed to limit feudalism. It may succeed for a time. But folks remember courage, and if today's elders have forgotten and seek comfort by relying on a bully con artist, tomorrow's will remember provided good stories remind them of what can be.

LarryHart said...

Paul Krugman tells us what we already know. #ThereAreNoGoodRepublicans

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/11/opinion/trump-quisling-enablers.html

...
As I said, however, this isn’t a column about Trump. It is, instead, about the people who are enabling his betrayal of America: the inner circle of officials and media personalities who are willing to back him up whatever he says or does, and the wider set of politicians — basically the entire Republican delegation in Congress — who have the power and constitutional obligation to stop what he’s doing, but won’t lift a finger in America’s defense.
...
Remember when people used to imagine that Trump would be restrained by officials who would put some check on his worst impulses? Maybe that happened for a few months, but at this point he’s entirely surrounded by sycophants who will tell him whatever he wants to hear.
...
On one side, tax cuts for the rich have become the overriding priority for the modern G.O.P., and Trump is giving them that, so they’re willing to let everything else slide.

On the other side, the party’s base really does love Trump, not for his policies, but for the performative cruelty he exhibits toward racial minorities and the way he sticks his thumb in the eyes of “elites.” So any Republican politician who takes a stand on behalf of what we used to think were fundamental American values is at high risk of losing his or her next primary. And as far as we can tell, there is not a single elected Republican willing to take that risk, no matter what Trump does.

What all this tells us is that the problem facing America runs much deeper than Trump’s personal awfulness. One of our two major parties appears to be hopelessly, irredeemably corrupt. And unless that party not only loses this year’s election but begins losing on a regular basis, America as we know it is finished.

LarryHart said...

It really takes a lot of work to piss off Canada:

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Jun12.html#item-2

The Globe and Mail (Canada): "Relations between two of the world's closest allies are now at a perilous low. The fault rests entirely with Mr. Trump and his advisers. Our government has been patient with the President and his protectionist agenda. So too have Canadians, but this is getting tiresome. We are a polite people, but the President will learn that, when roused, we don't roll over at the request of an insulting bully, no matter how big."

locumranch said...


David's & Donzelion's objection to the nuclear-armed South Korea gambit is depressingly familiar, similar to the panic that ensued following the collapse of the old Soviet Union when western diplomats opined that soviet disunification increased the relative risk of nuclear armageddon by effectively MIRV-ing the number of potentially hostile iron curtain nuclear powers, even though this did NOT happen, and near identical to the progressive movement's irrational desire to ban all of 200 Million privately-owned US firearms every time one firearm is used in a school shooting.

But this we already know: (1) North Korea already possesses nuclear weapons with which to threaten South Korea; (2) South Korea, though officially lacking nuclear capacity, relies on a US-provided nuclear deterrent to ward off North Korean aggression; and (3) a nuclear-armed China, in the event of a nuclear exchange between the US & North Korea, stands ready to engage the US tit-for-tat.

Both intolerable & unstable, this Mexican Standoff situation cannot continue without incident, and a nuclear-armed South Korea would greatly SIMPLIFY this situation by (1) eliminating the US from this local conflict, (2) incentivising China to take a more active & self-interested role in conflict prevention, (3) limiting any potential nuclear exchange to the Korean peninsula, (4) providing South Korea with the MAD means to discourage North Korean aggression, and (5) increasing North Korean jeopardy to MAD vengeance.

In all likelihood, China will be similarly horrified by the possibility of ASEAN nuclear proliferation following a US withdrawal from the South Pacific, especially the very idea of a nuclear-armed Japan, much in the same way that the US was horrified by the unforeseen variables that followed from soviet disunification.

Finally, a quick word about 'literary conceit' & humanity's unwillingness to engage with unpleasant truths about the unreality of abstraction, morality, love, mercy & altruism.

In this regard, the development of the AI represents a clear & present danger to humanity's rather fragile belief systems, unless we program the AI to tell us culturally sensitive, pleasing & reassuring lies, in which case the AI becomes a false, clear & present danger to ongoing human existence, like the wishes granted by the proverbial monkey paw or the solutions to over-population offered up in the 'Lathe of Heaven'.

You want the the truth? You can't handle the the truth -- insomuch as very few of us can -- hence the recent increases in suicide, mental illness, drug abuse & all-cause mortality.


Best

_____

Do MRI & PET brain imaging techniques confirm that 'thoughts are real', or do they merely correlate specific cognitive functions with discrete intracranial structures?
Most refer to this as 'localisation of function' insomuch as damage to certain areas of the brain cause predictable & reproducible cognitive deficits, including word finding difficulties (aphasia), inability to read (alexia), inability to write (agraphia) & inability to do math (acalculia), as well as gross sensory, motor, intellectual & emotional dysfunction, leading to the conclusion that thoughts (and thinking) are structurally dependent.

Jon S. said...

And now we have the "agreement" - a vaguely-worded, one-page (stretched to two because of a very large header, a trick familiar to any schoolchild writing a "five-page essay") statement that doesn't actually commit anyone to anything, but sort of hopes that one day there won't be any nukes on the Korean peninsula. (And you know the "one day" Kim means is the one day that his troops march through Seoul.)

Of course, Donnie's trying to spin this as a "historic agreement", because he still imagines that you can be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for not starting any actual shooting wars. (I imagine the Nobel Committee wouldn't look too fondly at his penchant for starting trade wars with allies, however.) I don't think anyone's had the guts to actually remind him that US presidents can't make treaties...

A.F. Rey said...

Well, your article is already making waves (albeit small ones for now).

P.Z. Myers linked and quoted it in his most recent post at Pharyngula.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2018/06/12/played-like-a-chump/

David Brin said...


Hey! Some of you go to Jim Wright's site and tout my last two blogs!

===

Even under locum's miracle vitamins, it's still magical thinking. Making assertions is all the proof that's needed! Incantations and magic spells, never needing a scintilla of actual evidence.

Laurence said...

Exclusive footage of Trump, as he emerges form his highly sucessful meeting with Kim: http://richardpeters.typepad.com/.a/6a0120a7aae27b970b017eeb449c28970d-popup

David Brin said...

Crum! What we see of the "deal" is a tepid version of everything I predicted. Only turned down from 9 to level 3. Instead of Kim getting a WIN-WIN-WIN, he got a lower case win-win-win.

Unless there's more, which there may be, the WTF happened here?

1. It let DT live a while in his favorite place, Air Force One. Heck Mar-a-lago is probably just his excuse to use AF1. All the pomp and respect without the hated swirl of briefing papers shoved at him by "fact-people," at the prison that's the White House.

2. Public distraction.

3. Hanging around dictators. Fave guys.

4. Paranoia time: Alone with Kim and two "trusted" translators. Perfect time for debriefing of Putin's agent in the White House and to deliver new instructions.

locumranch said...



"Making assertions ... never needing a scintilla of actual evidence".[DB]

LOL, that's something we share in common when we make predictions about the yet-to-arrive future, like unsubstantiated assertions about Donald Trump being under the sway of China, North Korea AND Russia all-at-once (!!) or the effects of climate change in 80 years or so. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding which comes in the fait accompli later.

Best

Treebeard said...

People keep underestimating Trump's mentalic Force powers even as the evidence keeps piling up. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Kim put on a MAGA hat and got a blonde Trump cut. An agent of foreign dictators? You're thinking too inside-the-box. I think it's time to consider the possibility that we are in the presence of a higher order of being—some kind of reality-warping mutant who wields mental and metaphysical powers that most of us can only dream of.

donzelion said...

Locum: "Making assertions ... never needing a scintilla of actual evidence"

At least when I accuse him of that, I tend to try to offer a twist or tidbit that is based on evidence. Sounds better than blanket allegations of hypocrisy, of which all are guilty, and much better than claims of conspiracy, which thwart evidence.

And as for my evidence, if I'm right, Kim will act in the next 3-6 months to re-badge some divisions, in the "spirit of the historic June Agreement" (disregard the text). It will be a lowball blip, not a major news story.

Slim Moldie said...

Locum vs Alfred on thoughts—as action. Entertaining.

You got your brain irunning on about 12 watts. Most of it is critical autonomic background noise. And every thiught takes measurable energy. Physical. Why argue?

The more interesting question for me would be: how and why do thoughts like say coming up with the idea of the Mandelbrot set differ in the brain from thoughts like “me want cookie.”







donzelion said...

Trump's Distraction helped
(1) Jeff Sessions decide that women who are victims of rapists and murderers get deported back to the countries where they face rape and murder. What a brave leader! Way to stick it to those women!

(2) also covered up the end of net neutrality, which officially took effect yesterday. Oh, and AT&T just got greenlit for its Time Warner merge.

(3) distracted from the Ohio ruling at the Sup Ct, whereby voter roll purges were upheld. Gee, whatever could go wrong with that? Especially in states that prohibit same day provisional registration (which is most of the country), or which set up rules to make that difficult for anyone who hasn't lived at the same address for many months...

David Brin said...

PZ Myers: "Isn’t it interesting how Trump can go from snarling at Canada and alienating the democratically elected leaders of allied nations, and then scurry off and express his warm appreciation of tyrants and dictators? ... Trump was silent on human rights abuses, and even said this:

"Well, we’ve given him, I don’t wanna talk about it specifically, but we’ve given him, he’s going to be happy. His country does love him. His people, you see the fervor. They have a great fervor. They’re gonna put it together, and I think they’re going to end up with a very strong country, and a country which has people — that they’re so hard working, so industrious."

His people are slaves in a giant cage, who will be executed if they don’t show fervor. Trump has given Kim Jong Un a massive PR victory that he can use to quell any rebelliousness: America says you’re happy. America is going to stop even practicing opposition. America isn’t going to help you.

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2018/06/12/played-like-a-chump/

I know some "ostriches" - residually-sane Republicans, shoving their heads ever deeper into a dungpile of denial - who utter crap like: "I know Trump is a loathsome man, but he gives good outcomes." Insanity! Name an American strength that helped the West and democracy to win the Cold War. Every on - every single one, from alliances to science to a confidently smart-sincere corps of civil servants and officers, to free elections and politics negotiated by adults - every single strength is being systematically dismantled, while the middle class is driven to penury and disparities skyrocket to levels last seen before the French Revolution.

Did I say "residually-sane Republicans"? RSR are going extinct. Even Mitt Romney has given up fighting for the soul of American conservatism. It is civil war. May the Union save us once again.

===

See: “4 winners and 4 losers from the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore: Kim Jong Un is the big winner. South Korea is a loser.”
https://www.vox.com/2018/6/12/17450974/trump-kim-jong-un-summit-winners

David Brin said...

locum and treebeard have clearly decided to stop with the vitamins. Alack.

Anonymous said...

I hope the true patriots in the CIA are bold enough to know how to put a tracked microphone in Donald Trump's ass. (As in the movie "Austin Powers") In fact, they could give Donald a microphone and tracker the size of a fire extinguisher while he sleeps and he would not notice. With that microphone, we could find out about all those secret businesses of Trump and the Russians.

Winter7

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

locum and treebeard have clearly decided to stop with the vitamins. Alack.
...
Did I say "residually-sane Republicans"? RSR are going extinct. Even Mitt Romney has given up fighting for the soul of American conservatism. It is civil war. May the Union save us once again.


This NY Times article maybe best explains what Trump and his followers exemplify, why most of us here are viscerally repelled by it without quite identifying the reason, and why a few are so on board for the same reason:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/11/opinion/g7-trump-north-korea-kim-jong-un-foreign-policy.html

The Group of 7 is an organization built in a high-trust age. It’s based on the idea that the member nations have shared values, have shared historical accomplishments, have a carefully nurtured set of relationships and live in a community of general friendship. Canada and the U.S. are neighbors and friends.

But in the low-trust Trumpian worldview, values don’t matter; there are only interests. In the Trumpian worldview, friendship is just a con that other people try to pull on you before they screw you over. The low-trust style of politics is realism on steroids.

Whether it’s on the world stage, at home or in his own administration, Trump is trying to transform the nature of relationships. Trump takes every relationship that has historically been based on affection, loyalty, trust and reciprocity and turns it into a relationship based on competition, self-interest, suspicion and efforts to establish dominance. By destroying trust and reciprocity he creates an environment in which he can thrive.
...
The episode illustrates that the core divide in our politics is no longer the conventional left-right divide. The core issue in our politics is over how we establish relationship. You can either organize relationship at a high level — based on friendship, shared values, loyalty and affection — or you can organize relationship at a low level, based on mutual selfish interest and a brutal, ends-justify-the-means mentality
...

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

I think it's time to consider the possibility that we are in the presence of a higher order of being—some kind of reality-warping mutant who wields mental and metaphysical powers that most of us can only dream of.


Hey, I've been arguing that Trump has Mule powers since the Republican convention.

Of course I see that as a problem to overcome, not a cause to celebrate and worship.

Remember what happens as soon as you love Big Brother?

Alfred Differ said...

@Slim Moldie| Why argue?

Yah. I do it because I’m a little OCD now and then. In this case, I’m amused that he is a residual dualism believer when it is obvious that he rejects that system in most other settings. Maybe it is because the people who wrote his dictionary aren’t so residual about it.

As for ‘me want cookie’, I think it has to do with specialization within the brain. I had a surgery a little over a year ago to turn my colon into a semi-colon and got to experience the joy of waking up from general anesthesia after being carved on and stapled back up. I clearly remember being mad as hell on waking up. It was a ‘me want sleep and not breath’ moment. The post-op nurse wouldn’t let me do that and I was in no position to resist. I sure wanted to, though. What was most amazing about that was I also clearly remember another part of me waking up AFTER I was already conscious. The anger evaporated quickly when it did. It became a ‘me want to help and get past this’ moment. If I were a dualism believer, I’d probably concoct an animal/soul explanation. I’m not, but I suspect different parts of my brain came online at different times. I was practically feral without that latter part. I was a reasonably civilized human being with it.

No doubt we can get effects like this with alcohol and simpler, cheaper drugs. I’m not a big drinker, but it is clear enough to me that my math skills evaporate with each pint of stout and they don’t come back quickly afterward. Since I wasn’t born with the skills I acquired in college and alcohol degrades complex functions first, my math skills have to be heavily dependent on some areas and not others. Recalling them, though, isn’t the same as creating them either. That was HARD work even when I was young. 8)

I suspect it all comes back around to setting language concepts into a brain. That means training. What is a fractal? This… and this… and this… and you’ll be tested on this next week! My feral self doesn’t give a fig what a fractal is. The other guy does, though.

David Brin said...

Treebeard is nuts. It's not Trump. It's Rupert Murdoch and Vlad the im-putin-er. Riling up cranky, ill-educated, boomer white males started long before Trump. And yes, the inverse correlation between intelligence/education and Fox-i-tudinousness is damn near perfect. There's no pretense things are otherwise! The rationalization is pure zero-sum...

...if you know stuff and are smart, you've used up all the space where Common Sense goes. It's insane. But you can see how the idiocracy clings to it.

Anonymous said...

Treebeard said:
“People keep underestimating Trump's mentalic Force powers even as the evidence keeps piling up. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Kim put on a MAGA hat and got a blonde Trump cut. An agent of foreign dictators? You're thinking too inside-the-box. I think it's time to consider the possibility that we are in the presence of a higher order of being—some kind of reality-warping mutant who wields mental and metaphysical powers that most of us can only dream of.”
No. That is false. Donald Trump does not possess superhuman mental powers. Donald Trump is simply a thief; a trickster; a fraudster and a traitor. And every minute that the American people tolerate it, Donald Trump will take advantage of that minute to plunge the North American people with formidable efficiency.
Trump has a mission that has been entrusted to him by the Russians. That is already something doubtless. In addition, instead of the people launching the much needed and firm opposition to Trump; This clown is being given all the time and resources he needs to meet Russia's goals.
When the situation is arranged in this way, it is easy to predict that at the end of the Donald Trump administration, the United States will be something very different from what they were. And even the dumbest Republicans will not be satisfied with the outcome of Donald Trump's great betrayal.
And the American people now know how they feel about Donald Trump:

https://www.theguardian.com/film/video/2018/jun/11/robert-de-niros-fuck-trump-speech-at-tony-awards-video

Winter7

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donzelion said...

LarryHart: David Brooks is ill taught if he can't recognize the contradiction between this claim,

"The low-trust style of politics is realism on steroids."

and this claim

"By destroying trust and reciprocity he creates an environment in which he can thrive."

No realist believes in an environment of trust or reciprocity per se (when they think of reciprocity, they mean action/reaction - as in physics). No realist thinks in terms of personally 'thriving' (by definition, and that's every species of 'Realism' and 'Neo-Realism'). These are of course reasons why Realism was laughably unrealistic. In terms of policy, it's proven far worse than Supply Side Economics (which at its worse raised the deficit - very few people died as a result of that voodoo, a claim that cannot be said about the 'Realists'). But it's rife with ever so useful access to grants...

Don't trust David Brooks. There is criticism intended to direct others towards rectifying error (e.g., my criticism of our host, with whom I generally agree on much but not all), and criticism designed to actually worsen error by fixating upon the wrong flaw.

As for our silly president, the biggest flaw is the 100 million cameras wasting their time on him, overlooking the other agencies and departments where the real work is done.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

No realist believes in an environment of trust or reciprocity per se (when they think of reciprocity, they mean action/reaction - as in physics). No realist thinks in terms of personally 'thriving' (by definition, and that's every species of 'Realism' and 'Neo-Realism')


I'm not sure why you see that as a contradiction. Since he doesn't truck with trust or reciprocity, he's out to undermine those things, and he does better (or believes he does) in an environment without them.

Or do you mean a realist doesn't "believe in" trust and reciprocity to the extent that he wouldn't even bother undermining them? If that's your meaning, then you might be taking the word "realist" too specifically, the way locumranch does with "Utopia". I took the article's "realism on steroids" to be talking about realpolitik, where every relationship and policy is a tactical one based upon national or corporate interest. My grandmother used to have a rhetorical question she would ask about anything you could mention, say that the Cubs swept the Astros in four games. She'd ask, "Is that good or bad for the Jews?" That's what I thought he meant by "realism on steroids".

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Treebeard is nuts. It's not Trump. It's Rupert Murdoch and Vlad the im-putin-er. Riling up cranky, ill-educated, boomer white males started long before Trump.


Murdoch and/or Putin may be controlling or manipulating Trump, but he's the one exhibiting the Mule powers, turning loyal opposition and defenders of American integrity into obsequious toadies overnight.

The fiercely anti-communist Republicans can justify their Putin-love with the excuse that Russia is no longer communist but authoritarian fascist, and white Christian to boot. But how the heck do those red-baiting Republicans justify, even using doublethink, their fawning love-fest over Kim Jung-Un? How do they sleep at night?

( I know, "On satin sheets with many beautiful ladies." )

LarryHart said...

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Jun13.html#item-1


It is amazing that Kim has gone from years of being one of the most hated, vilified world leaders to political superstar in less than six months


Maybe Kim Jung-Un is the one with Mule powers?

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Darrell E said...

I think the NYT article LarryHart posted gives Trump too much credit. Trump has never given any indication that he is capable of analyzing and then formulating tactics to further a long term strategy as the article implies. He plays by feel as he goes. His only goals are satisfying immediate urges and being seen as a winner. Or perhaps not being seen as a loser is more accurate. My worst nightmares regarding world affairs these days are what Trump might do to avoid being seen, in his mind, as a loser. He's just a rather stupid, brutish thug with a certain degree of low cunning and 0 ethical impediments.

The worst thing about the Trump Administration isn't Trump. By far the worst thing is that our society elected him to POTUS. Yeah, he didn't win the popular vote and there is much plausible evidence of tampering of various sorts in Trump's favor. But in this context that's a non sequitur. Those things fall right under "our society elected him." Besides, it's scant comfort that only 45% rather than 46% of voters voted for Trump. What Trump being elected says about our society really fucking sucks.

I have this fantasy I try to keep at bay that all of this is just a backs-up-against-the-wall, backed-into-a-corner, fight or flight type response of the deplorables in our society as they feel the ultimately fatal squeeze of progress inexorably changing their status from respectable norm to unsavory or worse. And that we will soon push past this and complete a distinctive step towards that better society we all hope for (some sarcasm intended there). But I don't believe it. We are in such bad shape after decades of depredations by the Republican Party and its manipulators that it would take a blue wave of truly historic proportions in order to make such a step in the short term.

LarryHart said...

Darrell E:

The worst thing about the Trump Administration isn't Trump. By far the worst thing is that our society elected him to POTUS.
...
Besides, it's scant comfort that only 45% rather than 46% of voters voted for Trump. What Trump being elected says about our society really fucking sucks.


I have to agree. Trump as an outlier who happened to squeak into office unnoticed would be a kind of comical threat that we could contain and deal with. What depresses me is that the entire Republican Party has decided to go along with Trump, flaws and all, in order to secure...what exactly? Tax cuts and deregulation? Maybe. But their reasons for failing to stand up to Trump and to actually cover for him seems to stem more from the fact that at least 30% and maybe over 40% of the voting public would be roused to levels of anger making the Tea Party look civil should any politician or candidate fail to kiss their boy's ass.

The fact that so many of my fellow Americans are deplorables who see meanness and bullying as features, not bugs and that they are strong enough to control the agenda is what had depressed me ever since November 9, 2016. It's why I use the line mangling a Michelle Obama quote: "I have never been less proud of my country than I am today."

donzelion said...

LarryHart: as Brooks was discussing international relations, I interpreted him to be making a claim about realism in that context. The measure of national interest in that school of thought rejects reference to 'personal gain' (it's irrelevant) and concepts of 'trust' among nations simply can not exist (there's no need to undermine them - even talking about them is inherently 'unrealistic').

It's a methodology contradiction, akin to the evolutionary biologist criticizing Noah's Ark.

Brooks sees 'realism on steroids,' but the points of evidence, intention he cites can only be 'realism on hallucinogens' (or simply not realism at all).

The distinction between 'realism,' 'liberalism,' and 'institutionalism' is not that one favors the national interest and others do not (though realists have always claimed the other schools failed to respect national interest enough). Rather, it's how the national interest is measured and assessed. Realism fixated upon relative (or absolute) balance of power - it's claim to being realistic was in dispensing with distracting metaphysical beliefs about intangibles (such as everything else Brooks posits in the other paras). One can never be a realist by jousting with intangibles.

David Brin said...

Seriously. This is lunacy. Show this to your mad uncle. This timeshare sales pitch is how Donald Trump "prepared" while pushing away briefing books and advisors.

https://slate.com/culture/2018/06/the-white-house-made-a-fake-trailer-for-the-trump-kim-jong-un-summit-video.html

Your uncle will answer that "gut" matters more than knowledge or brains. You'll answer. "What happens when knowledge and brains finally get fed up and fight back?" Uncle will say "Bring it on, brain-boy!"

Hears the key: Your aunt is listening, from the next room. She's the one who matters... who can tip the scales.

occam's comic said...

On Trump and the American voter.

I think the archdruid has a good point about Trump being the stereotypical American.

He is loud
He is fat
He is proudly ignorant
He is arrogant
He is selfish
He doesn't really care or know much about the rest of the world

and worst of all
he is wealthy and successful

I think that is the reason he is both loved and hated in the US and around the world.


David Brin said...

Yes, Occam, but you conflate two words: "american" with "Confederate." We have been welded at the hip with these nasty louts from the beginning and every generation or so they start punching the smartypants twin in the face while we try to reason with them, seeming weak, and finally have to wrestle them down in a hammerlock till they settle downand reluctantly accept that stuff changes.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: I watched that video earlier this morning, dumbfounded.

Any journalist in attendance has access to resources to produce a dramatically more professional 4 minutes of video footage in the space of a few minutes than this production (the youtubers and print journalists would probably need a little more time) - so I am guessing the proper interpretation of the video is as a one-finger salute to the reporters in attendance, as well as to critics and others.

I don't need to see Trump flipping me off; whether one camera does so, or a million, or hundreds of millions, our cameras turned on him this way do us no good whatsoever. I want to see ways to turn a camera on him that can shut him down. Still looking.

locumranch said...


David Brooks makes some excellent points about Trump & our low trust society, his one mistake being his reversal of causality, for it is not the Trump Monster who is the cause of our sad state of low social trust, but it is our sad state of low social trust that has created the Trump Monster.

It has been said that 'People get the government they deserve', and the election of President Trump proves this saying in a conclusive fashion.

Slowly but surely, the Enlightened West has become an over-legislated shithole that punishes men for marriage & reproduction, the labourer for labouring, the majority in favour of the minority & the hyper-responsible to the benefit of the parasitic layabout.

The social contract is long defunct; an over-emphasis on feelings has replaced western reason; and reciprocity is a thing of the past.

"Stuff changes", as our host says, and Trump is just one of the many ringing changes that the so-called progressive will soon be forced to accept, both within the US & abroad.

For, without definitive & far-reaching change, our society deserves to perish, and perish it will, if it fails to address the interests of the increasingly disenfranchised deplorable.

Said Frank Herbert: "The people who can destroy a thing, they control it.”


Best

David Brin said...

God bless the State of New York, the anchor of Antietam and rock at Gettysburg. And now, the reason why Michael Cohen has folded and turned, knowing his master cannot protect him with a pardon.

https://abcnews.go.com/US/trump-lawyer-michael-cohen-cooperate-attorneys-leave-case/story?id=55861988

LarryHart said...


It has been said that 'People get the government they deserve', and the election of President Trump proves this saying in a conclusive fashion.


For someone who hates sloppy use of language...just what does his election prove in a conclusive fashion? It would have been more accurate to assert that it proves conclusively that America is deplorable enough to deserve Trump, which I think is what you meant but not what you said.


Slowly but surely, the Enlightened West has become an over-legislated shithole that punishes men for marriage & reproduction, the labourer for labouring, the majority in favour of the minority & the hyper-responsible to the benefit of the parasitic layabout.


You're not taking this personally enough. The law doesn't punish me for marriage, reproduction, or laboring.

The social contract is long defunct; an over-emphasis on feelings has replaced western reason; and reciprocity is a thing of the past.
...
For, without definitive & far-reaching change, our society deserves to perish, and perish it will, if it fails to address the interests of the increasingly disenfranchised deplorable.


The deplorable is totally enfranchised. It's everyone else who is suffering.

You really think progressive liberals are winning? I wish you'd let slip the coordinates of your universe, because I'd love to move there. Maybe we can switch places?

Darrell E said...

The deplorables are but a fraction of the increasingly disenfranchised. You get a little bit, the obvious bit, correct but the rest is a fantasy.

Darrell E said...

Please note that my prior should have been addressed to Locum's latest.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Michael Cohen has folded and turned, knowing his master cannot protect him with a pardon.


If there is a God, the State of New York or Virginia also has something on Paul Manafort. And Jared Kushner. And the Trump kids. And Donald Corleone himself.

David Brin said...

Back on vitamins! Wow! Again, except for the cockeyed, rage-drenched, zero-sum conclusion, locumranch is again offering cogent bricks. It's just the resulting house that he built with them, that's jibbering loony.

"The social contract is long defunct; an over-emphasis on feelings has replaced western reason; and reciprocity is a thing of the past." Yes, and it is your confederate treason and its plantation lord and foreign masters who done it.

'Slowly but surely, the Enlightened West has become an over-legislated shithole that punishes men for marriage & reproduction, the labourer for labouring, the majority in favour of the minority & the hyper-responsible to the benefit of the parasitic layabout.'

Underneath your spittle-roar of personal pain, there is an element of 1% truth here. But we are primitives and the lesson remains... "choose better!"

ESPECIALLY: "It has been said that 'People get the government they deserve', and the election of President Trump proves this saying in a conclusive fashion."

A majority of american voters rejected him! GOP only won the popular vote in one of the last six presidential and two of the last 12 congressional elections. Do not blame the victims of your cult's relentless cheating, funded by foreign oligarchs and domestic inheritance brats.

David Brin said...

"If there is a God, the State of New York or Virginia also has something on Paul Manafort. And Jared Kushner. And the Trump kids. And Donald Corleone himself."

Please, dear Lord. Pence first.

Anonymous said...

Murdoch is making moves. I do not know if this means anything:

https://phys.org/news/2018-06-murdoch-empire.html

Winter7

locumranch said...


David says of Donald Trump: "A majority of american voters rejected him!"

I, for one, will not tolerate MINORITY BASHING, nor will I tolerate unbridled 'Shame Speech' & unchecked 'Literate Privilege'.

Yokels, Hicks, Hillbillies, Deplorables & Cranks are people too! Too long have we languished in pens of darkness, marginalised & mocked by suave, sophisticated & well-heeled urbanites:

Puerile Power! Blanched Lives Matter! Red Rights! Yokels Younite!


Best

donzelion said...

Winter7: Murdoch makes his moves, but there's bigger fish in this sea...

The Disney bid for 21st Century Fox is old news; I've alluded to it many times here. The Comcast bid for 21st Century Fox is the 'other' story in that story - Comcast made a larger bid than Disney, but Fox doubted Trump's Justice Department would approve such a deal.

Yesterday's AT&T/Turner merger got approved by a court - that means AT&T can now own HBO, CNN, etc. - and it also means the Justice Dept. probably can't block a Comcast/21st Century Fox deal. Comcast can afford to pay much more for 21st Century Fox than Disney, and Comcast probably needs 21st Century Fox content more than Disney does.

It would not shock me if Comcast bought 21 Century Fox in 2018/19, then bought the rest of FoxNews in 2021/22. Not the easiest deal to do: Comcast would spinoff NBC (essentially putting it up for auction, maybe Amazon would buy it), sell off Xmen + Avatar to Disney (Hugh Jackman is probably retired as Wolverine, and the movies in that franchise are hit-or-miss)...and probably have to sell its chunk of Hulu as well.

Comcast is an easy target of vitriol for any science fiction fan - as owners of SyFy Network, they occasionally land a good show (Battlestar Galactica, The Expanse) - but the majority of what they churn out recycles tired ideas tediously. That said...things could be worse (we might see Uplift War shows produced by MTV, sort of like the ghastly Shannara monstrosity).

David Brin said...

Gyrating vitamins, alack: "David says of Donald Trump: "A majority of american voters rejected him!"

I, for one, will not tolerate MINORITY BASHING..."

Cripes. You just said "Americans chose Two Scoops!" I only said they didn't! YOURS is the cult that proclaims the right to trample on anyone who voted against you. Persecuting a minority. Bull! But your cult persecutes the majority.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | Blithering Blancos Matter!

I, for one, will not tolerate MINORITY BASHING, nor will I tolerate unbridled 'Shame Speech' & unchecked 'Literate Privilege'.

Big whoop de-doo. All of us are in a minority of some type.
[If you are going to fight back, try poking at one of them that gets your message across.]

Most of our minority interest groups are fairly benign.
Your's isn't.
It is trying to demolish one of the best things that has ever happened to us.

LarryHart said...

Geez, Dr Brin, you used to be the one warning me off of arguing with loc at face value. Yes, he changes the argument from sentence to sentence. Also, the sun rises in the morning and water is wet. If you're locumranch, it's what you do.

In fact, this whole conversation reminds me of an argument I had on the old Cerebus list with a fan of the Star Wars prequels. I finally got tired of it and laid out in variable form the way our conversations always ended up. As such:

him: Lucas should do A.

me: I *said* he should do A. What I'm complaining about is that is he's doing B instead of A.

him: Which he has every right to do.

me: Then why did you say he should do A?

him: Dave Sim would do A. Only a faggy chick would do B.

me: But Lucas *is* doing B. And you're defending him.

him: Who are you to tell him not to do B, you kike?

etc, etc, etc.

This is exactly what an argument with locumranch is like.

I'm sure he thinks he's "got" us with his defense of deplorables as a minority group, but I've already countered that one more times than I can count. If Nazis were petitioning for the same rights as everybody else, they'd be within their rights and the ACLU would defend them. When they insist (whether on the grounds of minority identity-group status or on the grounds of Blood and Soil) that they deserve superior rights to everyone else, then that's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

LarryHart said...

And for the masochistically curious, here's part of the conversation that preceded that summary above (though there were several iterations before this one) :


him: So filmakers should provide multiple version of their stories out of deference to you? Who died and made you queen ;-)?

me: You're mistaken. I'm the one who wants *one* version. Multiple versions is Lucas's idea.

him: So he should compromise on his life's work in service to your childhood memories!? Now who's being a chick?

me: Will you make up your mind what you're defending?

locumranch said...


Now that my despicable & deplorable "cult" (whatever this means) has been identified as a "minority" by David, my fellow cultists & I plan to invoke the progressive dictum that holds minorities as blameless, powerless & lacking in privilege, so we may receive the special protections & reparations necessary to guarantee competition on a fair-open-equal-level political playing field instead of on one unfairly dominated by a progressive majority.

Census data indicates that > 80% of the US population (the clear majority) lives in cities which means that rural residents represent an oppressed minority in fact who also deserve special protections & reparations because FAIRNESS. To add insult to injury, various urban bigots subject rural residents to unjust stereotyping & name calling, often referring to these rurals as ignorant slack-jawed bible-thumping yokels, racial slurs which qualify as criminal hate speech under current law.

Even so, the rural minority will RESIST. We will defend our rural culture; we will continue to limit our genders to two; we will define marriage as we see fit; we will cling to our guns & bibles; we will institute tariffs to protect our industry; we will defend our borders; we will favour citizen rights over those arrogated by interlopers; and we will STAND for our national anthem though the majority 'takes a knee' in an effort to insult us. We will overcome.

If "All of us are in a minority of some type" as Alfred says, then the yokel contingent DEMANDS the same bennies, advantages, preferential quotas & respect afforded to any other minority group. Gimme Gimme Gimme.


Best
____

And, btw, terms like conservative, nationalist, yokel, hillbilly & cracker constitute racial slurs which we can use -- as we belong to the oppressed identity group in question -- but you cannot, and we reserve the right to riot, murder & loot if any of YOUR group attempts to appropriate our culture in any way, shape or form.

David Brin said...

Yadda yadda. Vitamin phase is over. Screeching, howling victimization. Only skimmed. Nice while it lasted.

donzelion said...

LOL, folks are angry all over the place tonight. Perhaps this works:

"Now that my despicable & deplorable "cult" (whatever this means) has been identified as a "minority"...I plan to...receive the special protections & reparations necessary..."

Congratulations Locum! You win! Bells ringing, etc. Practice your trade in peace, knowing you have all the same rights as the progressive majority, and you can enjoy all the benefits any minority gets too, shucks we even give those benefits to our criminals most of the time...welcome back to the America that so many thought was a sh1thole, but is actually pretty awesome (even though it has no shortage of problems that the serious adults are trying to fix).

"racial slurs which qualify as criminal hate speech under current law."
Go call the police. There's a three digit code you can even call. See how far you get.

"we will institute tariffs to protect our industry;"
You do have a president prone to do that. For now. If folks need a reminder for how this game works, you'll get one.

"we demand the same bennies, advantages, preferential quotas & respect afforded to any other minority group. Gimme Gimme Gimme."
Done. Bask in your respect. Now try acting respectable and see whether you can increase that or not.

Tim H. said...

An interesting speculation on Trump's aficionados:
http://crookedtimber.org/2018/06/13/epistemic-sunk-costs-and-the-extraordinary-populist-delusions-of-crowds/

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Even so, the rural minority will RESIST. We will defend our rural culture


What do you mean "we", white man?

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

...so we may receive the special protections & reparations necessary to guarantee competition on a fair-open-equal-level political playing field instead of on one unfairly dominated by a progressive majority.


"Unfairly dominated" by a party which controls zero branches of the federal government and only a handful of states? A coward dies a thousand deaths and all, but you're taking that to extremes.


we will cling to our guns & bibles;


Yeah, that's what President Obama said you do.


we will institute tariffs to protect our industry;


Do you even listen to your own self? Your #SoCalledPresident is doing that even as you speak, and how happy are you going to be when you're shut out of overseas markets? Sometimes you can get what you want and still not be very happy.

and we will STAND for our national anthem though the majority 'takes a knee' in an effort to insult us.


Wrong in so many ways.

A majority does not take a knee during the national anthem, even at NFL games.

Taking a knee is not to insult you. It's a distress signal, and a respectful one at that--a sign of supplication and petitioning for redress, such as one kneels in prayer. It's only insulting to you if you define yourself as the oppressor and insist on your rights to kill unarmed black people, which I realize you do, but then have the strength of character to admit that's what you're whining about.

Finally, why are you so adamant about respecting the National Anthem when you've just spent paragraphs ranting about why you hate America? Why not go back to Russia?


then the yokel contingent DEMANDS the same bennies, advantages, preferential quotas & respect afforded to any other minority group. Gimme Gimme Gimme.


You'll know you've achieved racial parity when the cops shoot as many of you on sight as they do black people. I'll celebrate along with you when that occurs.


we reserve the right to riot, murder & loot if any of YOUR group attempts to appropriate our culture in any way, shape or form.


Aw, and appropriating Nazi culture was on my bucket list. Another dream denied.

Howard Brazee said...

Kim's not stupid, and he can see Trump backing out of the deal we have to get Iran to give up its nuclear capability. As a nuclear power, North Korea gets respect.

locumranch said...



And, there we have it:

The 'howling vicitimization' bit is petty, doltish & tiresome when ANY minority, majority, religious, ethnic or political identity group indulges in it, plus it encourages social division, strife & antagonism.

In other words, Identity Politics leads to conflict, death & undesirable outcome, even when the empowered progressive and laudable feminist does it, because this is the very nature of this ravenous beast:

AKA 'virtue signalling', it causes social division, antagonism & strife.

Remember this when you choose to engage in your PC 'two minutes of hate' by taking a knee or going full retard like Robert De Niro.


Best
___
Larry_H has 'bad feelz' at being denied his 'final solution' against an identity group that once attempted a 'final solution' against his identity group: I therefore judge his appropriation of Nazi culture to be a complete success.

LarryHart said...

Heh. It's funny because it's true. Emphasis mine:

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Jun14.html#item-5

Replacing her [Sarah Huckleberry Saddlebags] may not be so easy. As the Trump White House's version of Baghdad Bob, it is her job to go out and tell baldfaced lies, and to do so with conviction. For those who are interested, she does it through what scholars call self-deception; she's persuaded herself that her cause is so just that the lies aren't really lies. In any case, while Sanders isn't a great liar—everyone sees right through her, in part because she lies so often—she is considerably better at it than Sean Spicer was. Finding someone else willing to go out there before the highly-unforgiving White House Press Corps and to propagandize so shamelessly will be a tall task. Any competence over and above that of Spicer will just be a bonus.

LarryHart said...

locumranch:

Larry_H has 'bad feelz' at being denied his 'final solution' against an identity group that once attempted a 'final solution' against his identity group: I therefore judge his appropriation of Nazi culture to be a complete success.


Them's fighting words. I'd watch the slander if I were you, although I thank God I am not.

I'll spell it out in words even you can understand--being glad when you die is not the same thing as killing you.

raito said...

Dr. Brin,

"Riling up cranky, ill-educated, boomer white males started long before Trump."

Shoot, it started before the boom. How's about 1915 in Stone Mountain, GA?

donzelion,

"As for our silly president, the biggest flaw is the 100 million cameras wasting their time on him, overlooking the other agencies and departments where the real work is done."

Duh. Exactly Cohn's prescription for McCarthy. What is the Twitter account but the modern version of Tailgunner Joe's physical 'tics'?

And Shannara was ghastly even when in its original book form.

Darrell E,

I've seen Trump as a loser since the 70's when he first started getting publicity. We already know that he's not a great businessman (that Forbes article showng that he's underperformed even the index funds, for exmnaple).

As for 'we elected him', the US has been pinballing for a couple decades now. Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr., Obama, Trump? Geez. I think that part of the problem there is just how many times a Bush or Clinton has been on the final ballot in the last could decades. I'm not even fond of John Adams and John Quincy Adams, as far as dynasties go.

LarryHart said...

raito:

I think that part of the problem there is just how many times a Bush or Clinton has been on the final ballot


Were you here back around...I want to say the time leading from the 2006 midterms to the 2008 election? We were imagining an endless procession of Bushes and Clintons occupying the White House, starting with Poppy, then Bill, then W, then (presumably) Hillary, and then possibly Jeb followed by Chelsea and any of W's daughters.

Someone even thought to add the Reagan-Bush years with Poppy as vice president, so we could imagine a chorus chanting until they looked around at each other as if to say "How long does this keep going on?"


REAGAN-BUSH
REAGAN-BUSH

BUSH
CLINTON
CLINTON
BUSH

BUSH
CLINTON
CLINTON
BUSH

BUSH
CLINTON
CLINTON
BUSH

...

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

"If there is a God, the State of New York or Virginia also has something on Paul Manafort. And Jared Kushner. And the Trump kids. And Donald Corleone himself."

Please, dear Lord. Pence first.


I used to be there with you, but I've changed my mind.

I agree that Democrats shouldn't fall into the trap of a failed impeachment, but I no longer feel that Pence would be more of a danger to the nation than Trump is. If Pence had Trump's Mule powers and could whip up 40% of the voting public to anger, then maybe that would be the case, but he can't. Pence would be constrained by custom and decorum in a way that Trump is not. Pence also would not go out of his way to alienate allies and embolden enemies.

Every day Trump is in office undermines the Republic. That Pence would have some worse items on his bucket list is no longer my primary concern.

locumranch said...


Yes, the 'Shannara' books were poorly written Tolkien knock-offs, but their conclusions (especially that of the 'Sword') did successfully illustrate how the human ego thrives on self-deceit, lies & hypocrisy.

If my forty year old memory serves me right, the 'Sword of Shannara' concludes something like this (and I paraphrase):

'I now understand why the sword is so feared by all because it forces people to acknowledge & accept the truth... that we are all petty, self-aggrandising, hateful, lying hypocrites who only deserve failure & death ... and I am no better, no more deserving & no more heroic than my disgusting evil enemy, although I pretend that I am virtuous by wielding this sword of truth'.

And, so the lying human identity rationalises all manner of hate & evil against the random other with howls of victimisation:

"Waa", the widdle baby whinges, 'Trump is EVIL, life is unfair, MY identity group anly creates good, so let's demand a fair-equal-level-open playing field, marginalise all those we deem deplorable & destroy the evil non-progressive because MY fact-using, religious, ethnic & racial identity group is so terribly OPPRESSED'.

(End scene)


Best

LarryHart said...

See, this is what I meant about Pence:

http://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Jun14.html#item-8

The Southern Baptists had their annual convention in Dallas this week, and one of the featured speakers was Vice President Mike Pence. Quite a few attendees did not want him to appear at all, for fear that he would politicize the event, and thus distract from their religious message. They were right to think that way, because after a few religiously-themed remarks about Bible study and Jesus, he veered into a lengthy accounting of "500 days of promises made and promises kept" by the Trump administration. Many attendees were furious, and the denomination's newly elected president, J.D. Greear, felt the need to apologize.

This story is primarily interesting because it reminds us that Pence, regardless of what he might think, is not a serious presidential candidate whenever Trump's time in office is up. Trump won because he was able to unify several different GOP constituencies—the pro-business Republicans, (some of) the libertarians, the social conservatives, and (to everyone's surprise) the evangelicals. Pence has only one constituency, the evangelicals, and even they are lukewarm about him. No doubt they would hold their noses and vote Pence over a Democrat, but the VP would have a serious enthusiasm problem, and serious difficulty making inroads into any of the other constituencies that drove Trump to (a narrow) victory.

LarryHart said...

When I was unemployed, I always listened to Stephanie Miller's morning radio show, especially on Wednesdays when she usually has Malcolm Nance calling in. Now that I work days again, I have to get my fix off of YouTube.

This one is especially poignant, as Malcolm Nance discusses how blatantly Trump wants to abandon the G-7 in favor of what he calls the A-3 for "Autocrats", meaning Russia, China, and now the USA. He asserts that the 2018 elections are the fight for the life of the Republic. And right before the end, he even uses the phrase, "History has its eyes on [us]," which is of course a line from "Hamilton".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nvch8i1o6ek

Robert said...

I've been on vacation in NH and Maine for the last week, so here's something from two posts back.

We know for a fact that the Eater of Souls, together with a large supply of shoggoths, is in Iraq. http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/colderwar.htm Cthulhu fhtagn! Meanwhile, #NoLivesMatter is gaining in strength - https://cthulhuforamerica.com/ So why not stargates? Though I think the location in Stross's story is a lot cooler (no pun intended, at least not originally).

Meanwhile, in Korea... Could the Adorable Leader be attempting a patron switch? One thing I do know is that exercises with the SK army are off - an automatic dealbreaker if I had any say in the matter.


Bob Pfeiffer

donzelion said...

Raito: "And Shannara was ghastly even when in its original book form."

It was cool...for a 4th grader. Derivative? Sure. That's not always unforgivable, esp. not for YA lit.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: for me, the effect of Trump, Pence, or any other Rep is that even if someone somehow purges Pruitt, his replacement at EPA will be just as bad. Purge Tillerson? What did that get us? Purge Sessions? No real benefit. De Vos? Carson? Can most of us even name 6 senior cabinet members without invoking Google?

I think the best fight is not against any personality, but in favor of an actual vision. It's not sufficient to decry the fat slobs who want to launch golf balls into orbit from Luna - we have to have a sense of what is lost, delayed, missed out on entirely by letting them play on our dime. What precisely are we giving up?

donzelion said...

Bob: "Meanwhile, in Korea... Could the Adorable Leader be attempting a patron switch?"

To America? Highly unlikely. But it is fascinating that Putin has no meaningful role in NK, at least none anyone is calling attention to, while China has a powerful one. That was not always the case...

"One thing I do know is that exercises with the SK army are off - an automatic dealbreaker if I had any say in the matter."

The very definition of a bad deal: we give up something important in exchange for a possibility of getting something...but in this case, skipping one year's worth of exercises shouldn't present a huge problem if they commence once more in 2020. Indeed, assessing effects of refraining in exercises for one year one battlefield prep tells us a great deal about our allies...and the costs we are both bearing. If their performance in 2020 is undiminished, or is dramatically diminished, we know a lot more either way, and can spend more wisely.

And in this case, by most appearances, Trump's intent may be to signal his generals about who is in command. That is also intriguing...some of then might look at Trump's inner circle and detect a dependency. It could well be that announcing a unilateral decision and imposing it is a testament of rivalry between Bolton v. Mattis v. Kelly. I do not know, only that other presidents would have consulted their own people before announcing something big (even if it proves not to be THAT big).

Jon S. said...

"One thing I do know is that exercises with the SK army are off..."

Except not so much. No orders have apparently been given, and US Indo-Pacific Command has indicated that until specific orders come through the chain of command, all previously-organized maneuvers are still scheduled.

donzelion said...

Jon S: "No orders have apparently been given, and US Indo-Pacific Command has indicated that until specific orders come through the chain of command, all previously-organized maneuvers are still scheduled."

It's exceptionally odd to me that Mattis denies that he was surprised and asserts that he was consulted - https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-usa-military/u-s-military-in-korea-says-no-guidance-on-cancelling-war-games-idUSKBN1J812W

That's typically assumed, rather than even being a subject that needed to be denied.

Which again makes me wonder at the Kelly/Mattis/Bolton/Pompeo roles and 'who knew what, when?' If Mattis was consulted 'hours in advance' - that implies Mattis was not contributing much to the policy Trump had already formulated...interesting.

The latest - from Japan, indicates a statement that no drawdown is required. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180615_05/

The last sentence in that story is important: "Mattis reportedly said the US is discussing with South Korea the possible suspension of joint military exercises in line with Trump's suggestion."

First, it's 'reportedly said' - instead of any explicit statement (that could just be a time to publication/translation issue). Second, note the word 'suggestion.' Crucially important (if accurate). Third, more consultations are underway (which we all assumed anyway). There's an impressive amount of preparatory work that goes into a simple order like 'move fleet X to Y and do Z.'

Anonymous said...

It is strange how the simplest details of life make us realize how difficult it is to get a government to create laws and programs for the benefit of the people. Thousands of people over the years worked tirelessly to put the laws and benefits that are the foundations of the freedom and happiness of the American people. Thousands of hours of hard work, bequeathed by thousands of patriots from all over the country to a nation that inspired them to give their best for the benefit of all. A titanic effort of thousands; that was never made to build a pyramid for an egomaniac pharaoh. A titanic effort, given to all those families who seek freedom. So many hours of effort and sacrifice of thousands; erased in a few moments by the caprice of an egotistical usurper, sitting in the presidential chair.

Winter7

David Brin said...

Re Pence. I don't care that he is politically ineffective. He would fill the White House and Pentagon with apocalypse fanatics. The place would stop leaking with utter discipline as the nation sighs with relief... while the worse monster look for a way to send a Best slithering to Meggido.

Robert said...

You have to wonder if Pence is quietly encouraging Trump at being his Trumpiest. After all, Pence wants to be President but knows he can't legitimately be elected as such. And after the outcry about the use of the Constitution to remove Trump without Impeachment caught Trump's eyes and that of his supporters, Republicans aren't able to pull the other method of getting rid of Trump. So really, they're left at wit's end especially as Trump starts trade wars with American allies.

Eventually Trump will say or do something that will be so horrific that we have to get rid of him. That is when Pence will step in and "do the honorable thing" by becoming President Pence - with "sadness and reluctance." But once the cameras are off him and he knows he's not being recorded, he'll have the biggest shit-eating grin around because all of the humiliation and bile was worth it, and he can bring about God's Plan - death by fire for humanity and the world.

Rob H. who agrees with Dr. Brin that Pence has to be removed before Trump is gone - or at the same time.

David Brin said...

Eep! I need to edit. Better version

Re Pence. I don't care that he is politically ineffective. He would fill the White House and Pentagon with apocalypse fanatics. The place would stop leaking - with utter discipline - as the nation sighs with relief... while the worse monsters look for a way to send a Beast slithering to Meggido.

Anonymous said...

Comment before going to sleep:
If the Republican leaders are a flock of apocalyptic fanatics; That could have certain advantages that can be exploited by someone like Elon Musk. But it would be something, in the style of "Mission impossible" ... but it could work, a trick.
I think you know what I mean. ¿True?

Winter7

yana said...

LarryHart:

"If there is a God, the State of New York or Virginia also has something on Paul Manafort. And Jared Kushner. And the Trump kids. And Donald Corleone himself."

Ask -> receive.

https://apnews.com/50aaffc1cfbb448f98380be789f5d127/Trump-accused-in-lawsuit-of-misusing-charitable-foundation

Likely, the recently-ex NYAG had been brewing this under the rosebushes, as his catapult to NY Gov eventually, once the incredibly ambitious Cuomo II finally moves upstairs somewhere. But then the ex-AG got outed for liking his women extra submissive.

Almost anything else goes today, sexually, in politics. But you can't hit a girl, thank goodness we're keeping that one. And of course, the hooker still has to be actually dead and it has to be an actual boy. So NY got a new AG, and she had a staff meeting to ask all the underlings "What is your office working on?"

Surprise, surprise. Politics there are quite filthy, like banana republic filthy. Both the NY House Speaker and Senate Prez got arrested, and that's only this decade. But if there are two things filthier than NY politics, they are NYC waste management firms and NY/NJ real estate development. Pretty light rocks to turn over, if someone went looking for snail juice. No crowbar needed, just a skilled couple of fingers.

So here's the first one, the low fruit, the orange guy's "charity" which didn't set off loud alarms during the campaign, but it's still a real story. Now mix in the possibility that NY's capital could go super-majority blue on New Years Day next... now THAT'S what we call a constitutional crisis.

Lacking pardon power in state cases, the federal executive could have members of the administration unable to travel to NY state, being under warrant for arrest, perhaps even immediately remanded via conviction in absentia. How would the USSC delineate "states rights" at that point?

Obviously it won't come to that. And you'd better hope it doesn't. This country needs the full four years of orange guy, to fully digest what happens when we let Brin's "cranky, ill-educated, boomer white males" run the farm.

But a showy trial in 2019 NY will almost certainly have the orange guy's state taxes entered into the court record... and'll give ya 1 and one-half guesses at how long those would remain under gag. And if that happens, show's over in DC.

We've got to let the full four years run its course. You know Pence would be a clusterf so don't hope for impeachment. I strongly wish for the orange guy's good health and happy he's not clumsy like Ford. Politics is a pendulum but with one difference from the physics apparatus: instead of the highest velocity at vertical, the political pendulum slows down at the middle of its arc. And it moves fastest when at the peak of a swing.

It's the Rise of the Normals, apathy still unconscionably high but that number 2,864,974 keeps gnawing at the political middle, and tweet-by-tweet they're getting ready to shove the bob pretty hard left-by-leftwest.

yana said...

Unfortunately, the driver of voter apathy is a 3-wood, the favored totem of people who have an interest in keeping as few citizens as possible, from meddling around in politics. And as we know by now, those club wielders include the core of the DNC as well as the RNC. They both want to increase the vote, but only for each's "right sort" of voters.

A couple threads back here, people talked about Elon Musk's investments. What if he or/and Bezos put $5-bln into a new political party, with only three political planks?

1. Tax purchases and probates, not wages nor savings.

2. Barebones healthcare, and K-16 education free.

3. Start getting people off this rock, for species survival.

And of course, don't kill hookers and no boys, but the main idea being that we teach anyone willing to learn, and we give easy access to health science's current opinions to everyone, and we give the ambitious among us a real serious challenge to work on.

That's your win-win-win.

Tim H. said...

Yana, that sounds good, but how devilish will the details be? For instance, Social Security might be nice to keep.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

And after the outcry about the use of the Constitution to remove Trump without Impeachment caught Trump's eyes and that of his supporters, Republicans aren't able to pull the other method of getting rid of Trump. So really, they're left at wit's end especially as Trump starts trade wars with American allies.


I don't know which Republicans you are talking about at "wit's end" here. The ones I hear are fully on board the Trump train. Not only do they not want Trump gone, but they take active measures to protect him from such threats as the rule of law and the will of voters.


Eventually Trump will say or do something that will be so horrific that we have to get rid of him.


I disagree. Trump was correct about shooting someone on Fifth Avenue (though mistaken about whose jurisdiction would prosecute him if he did that) and not losing a vote. Something like 40% of American voters are in the cult of Trump, and they will back him no matter what and smite his opposition no matter what.

The Republican Party itself has had to fall in line for fear of losing the support of--and incurring the angry wrath of--the cult of Trump. And so with psychohistorical inevitability, they are firmly tied to Trump even if they can see the downfall that will eventually lead to, because any distance from Trump only brings that downfall faster.

So congressional Republicans will never remove him from office. And without Republicans on board, conviction following impeachment is mathematically impossible.

So the question is not whether Republicans get fed up with Trump and help remove him. The only thing that will save us is when the rest of the American voters are fed up with the Party of Trump and rise up to vote those bastards out. The Republican Party can't be saved from Trump--America must be saved from the Republican Party.


But once the cameras are off him [Pence] and he knows he's not being recorded, he'll have the biggest shit-eating grin around because all of the humiliation and bile was worth it, and he can bring about God's Plan - death by fire for humanity and the world.


You think the joint chiefs and the civil service and even congress itself will just go along with that? They stopped W and they'll stop Pence too if they have to. Trump is an animal all his own, wielding an army of brownshirt enforcers and Mule powers which prevent anyone from opposing any crazy thing he wants to do. Pence, not so much.

occam's comic said...

Yana’s billionaire party would be pretty horrible.
A tax system focused on purchases would be very regressive with the poor paying the highest percentage of their income in tax.
Land value taxes, taxes on non renewable resources, taxes on wealth above a certain level (say 10 million dollars or more) and a general modest import tariff (say ~15%) would be a much better base for taxation.

Barebones healthcare would be both shitty and unpopular. Free collage might be worth wile.

And screw your space man fantasy, this “rock” is the only decent place to actually live. You come across as someone willing to destroy the living earth in order to purse a star trek fantasy. There should be a million to a billion times more energy and resources devoted to preserving the earths ecosystems than pursing space colonization

LarryHart said...

The New York Times tells us what we already know (and thank goodness someone other than me had the good sense to mention Neville Chamberlain) :

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/15/opinion/trump-kim-north-korea-dictator.html

I’ve just watched footage of Donald Trump saluting a North Korean general and it occurs to me that what’s really going on here is that the president is envious of Kim Jong-un, who has the absolute authority to execute his uncle with antiaircraft machine guns, consign tens of thousands of people to the gulag, and rule through a personality cult based on ruthless indoctrination.

This, the last hangover of Stalinist totalitarianism, must be the society for which Trump yearns as, remote control in hand, he wanders the corridors of the White House searching for Melania or a late-night burger. It’s one where prostration to the leader is the norm, critical thought is punishable with death, and the whole tedious apparatus of American constitutional democracy — checks and balances, the rule of law, a free press, an independent judiciary — has been relegated to history’s trash heap.

The real enemy, you see, is not the North Korean general Trump saluted, or Kim himself, the erstwhile “rocket man” turned “great personality” and “very smart guy.” No, it’s the forces within American society working to limit Trump’s power and so keep the Republic. As he tweeted upon his return from the summit with Kim in Singapore, “Our country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools.”

...

Dictators can make up their worlds. They can make words mean the opposite of what they were intended to mean. They can turn “fake news” into propaganda that’s impossible to contest. This is what makes Trump so envious. He wants a country where everyone succumbs to his make-believe, a nation where everyone without exception would pound the sidewalk in inconsolable grief if he had the extraordinary temerity to die.

The United States now has a president who would have told East Germans in 1961, as the Berlin Wall went up, that the Soviet and East German leaders were to be congratulated for walling them in because they were concerned about their people’s safety, happiness and wellbeing.

...

But of course history is not our esteemed leader’s strong point. Trump also tweeted that the nuclear threat from North Korea is over — abracadabra, just like that! He urged Americans, in this light, to “sleep well tonight!” This recalled nothing so much as the British prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, on his return from Munich in 1938, declaring “peace for our time” and saying, “Go home and get a nice quiet sleep.”

...

raito said...

donzelion,

The Sword of Shannara came out in 1977, which post-dates my 4th grade by quite some time. By 4th grade, I'd read most of Tolkein, Verne, ERB, Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, and Heinlein. And a pile of other stuff -- whatever the library had.

I think the only worse series I read was the Thomas Covenant stuff, which started at about the same time.

Most YA lit. is derivative. Thankfully, I never much went in for it (though I guess the Heinlein juveniles count). One of the benefits of being precocious as a reader was never having to wade though it. I recall back when I was working my way through my education, I worked with many high school students. One of them was fairly remedial in his reading ability, but he'd found a series he liked. He had the first book with him one shift, as I asked to read it during my break. He then said that he was reading the second one at home, and had almost finished it. I told him the plot, and he couldn't believe that I hadn't already read it (it was that obvious).

donzelion said...

Raito: I will not defend Shannara as literature, but helping grow the 'the Tolkein shelf' at Walden's & B. Dalton into a revolving 'rack' did open space for many other new authors to experiment. And even non-literature deserves better treatment.

That said, kudos on you and your family...I fear few of today's children will discover a bibliophile's delights.

donzelion said...

Yana: "This country needs the full four years of orange guy, to fully digest what happens when we let Brin's "cranky, ill-educated, boomer white males" run the farm."

Unfortunately, the most pernicious harms take time to manifest. One does not perceive how eroding scientific apparatuses will hurt major initiatives - an opportunity foregone is just an idea unrealized. When Larry's nightmares do not incarnate precisely as he poses them (they surely will not), that nightmare which actually does incarnate will take us all by surprise.

"we give the ambitious among us a real serious challenge to work on."
No one ever suffered from a lack of serious challenges...yet while a Musk/Bezos (+Gates/Buffett) partnership is intriguing, I look at that as akin to hoping for French feudalists to guide a fledgling America's foundation - occasionally, some offer useful insight (and even troops/ships), but this is our community to build, and building well includes defending it.

Anonymous said...

Donald Trump seems to be deactivating the investigations against him.
I do not know if the American judges are reliable.
Because in Mexico, judge assignments are sold to the highest bidder. (It was discovered that recently) (But it was clear that the judges in Mexico are tricksters, because in Mexico everything in politics is mud from pigsties)

I hope the judges do not bow to the big clown:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/15/us/politics/manafort-bail-revoked-jail.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

¿What are not the links too long lately?

Winter7

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

When Larry's nightmares do not incarnate precisely as he poses them (they surely will not), that nightmare which actually does incarnate will take us all by surprise.


What makes you think that isn't one of my nightmares?

LarryHart said...

Winter7:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/15/us/politics/manafort-bail-revoked-jail.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

¿What are not the links too long lately?


Someone on this list showed me a trick about those NYTimes links. If you just copy the part up through ".html" and ignore the rest, the link still works. For example:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/15/us/politics/manafort-bail-revoked-jail.html


I do not know if the American judges are reliable.
Because in Mexico, judge assignments are sold to the highest bidder.
...
I hope the judges do not bow to the big clown


In the US, the judiciary is still fairly independent.

Now, as time goes on, Trump himself is appointing more new judges to fill open positions (some of which are open because the Republican Senate never allowed Obama to fill them). But the existing judges are not beholden to Trump, and in fact are doing much to call him on his excess power grabs.

Catfish N. Cod said...

It is getting hard to keep up with how bad things are getting, how quickly:

* A $50B tariff package was imposed by China; promises of further retaliation are made.
* The individual currently styled as "President" praised the attentiveness of the subjects of a dictator and wished for the same from his fellow citizens.
* A senior member of the election team was sent to jail for violating bail terms and committing witness tampering, on top of previous charges.
* The personal lawyer of the "President" suggested pardoning the newly jailed man, thus committing witness tampering himself.
* A nascent compromise on immigration in the House was preemptively destroyed by the White House.
* Meanwhile, the Senate is preparing to take up a bill to stop the forced separation of families and concomitant creation of concentration camps for children of asylum seekers.
* Religious authorities across the political and dogmatic spectra have condemned said separation policy; the Justice Department blames political enemies while quoting Scripture to justify their cruelty.

That is what has happened since I awoke this morning.

David Brin said...

Catfish, welcome back.

But yes...

onward

onward

Howard Brazee said...

Kim isn't an idiot - but even if he was, he can see what Trump is doing in Iran. If he gives up his nukes, the way Iran gave up its nuclear ability, we will treat him the way Trump treats Iran.

Jim Lund said...

"Slowly but surely, the Enlightened West has become an over-legislated shithole that punishes men for marriage & reproduction, the labourer for labouring, the majority in favour of the minority & the hyper-responsible to the benefit of the parasitic layabout."

I'm curious as to what you mean to say? The big changes to marriage that I would note are that divorce is easier and women are more likely to work, making alimony smaller on average but making women less likely to stay in a poor marriage. Also, wife-beating has become illegal in fact when previously just de jure. Also, govt cash subsidies for marriage have gone up.

Reproduction? The main benefit is personal, as it has always been. It is harder for men to avoid responsibility for their children than previously. Housing and education are more expensive. For non-white parents, their kid's prospects are less limited by racism than ~50 years ago.

Labor's reward is still money, as much as you can hustle up, this is unchanged. And with the US being one of the richest countries in the world, the rewards for labor are great. A worker's chance of dying at work by poison or accident has gone down. True, while the US's wealth as a country has more than doubled (2.3X) in the past 50 years, the typically worker's paycheck has not grown at all--the owners of the country have slurped up all the gains. Families are making somewhat more due to more women working.

US tax rates have bounced up and down slightly many times--in net the individual rate has gone down, but the SS and Medicare rates have gone up. Total federal tax hasn't changed much for most people, though it is way down for the $1M+ / year folks.

I can comfort you with the news that the US's aid to the poor is still terribly stingy. Also, the US governments decided to triple the number of poor people in jail, and mostly this new govt benefit has gone to poor people from racial minorities, especially those with the strongest capitalistic spirit. Does this count as a new govt benefit or 'over-legislation'? One class of 'parasitic layabouts'--old people--have seen great increases in govt largess. The govt now spends much more on health care for the aged than in past times.