Saturday, November 17, 2018

Political scandals and more

So, the U.S. midterms proved that the republic isn't dead yet, and has some gumption still. The most important elections many have been at the state level, where voters may have seized  back enough power to end many electoral cheats, like gerrymandering. Not in deep red states, of course, where citizens are fine with every kind of cheating. But democrats are realizing what Obama has preached -- that it's best to reform where possible, then let it dawn on every sane, reasonable and patriotic American that these are all Republican crimes.

It mustn't stop there. Over a few weeks, I’ll be offering my own proposals for how the transformed U.S. House of Representatives might act in important and effective ways, even without bills passing in the Senate or surviving presidential vetoes. 

One such endeavor – holding investigative hearings – is the talk of the nation. The prospect apparently has Donald Trump so depressed that he may go back to his one, reliable drug high, sanctimony rallies! (Why wouldn’t he? The taxpayer carries much of the expense.)

== Do this one the instant you are all sworn in ==

What is the number one priority I urge upon the new House of Representatives? 

Repeal the 2001 War Powers Resolution.

Passed in the panicky aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, separate resolutions in the House and Senate effectively abrogated the Congressional power over declaring war, giving the presidency carte blanche -- without even a time limit -- to order troops and attacks anywhere he chooses. 

By a simple majority in the House alone, that blank check can be canceled, with a coda stating clearly that Congress retains its Constitutional authority over declared and undeclared war. 

Moreover, given current circumstances in a dizzy-unstable White House, it would be irresponsible not to do this the very first day the new Congress opens session.

== States rights means letting some of them act sane ==

There are a number of hot-button topics on which states and the federal government don’t see eye to eye. Immigration, climate change, marijuana legalization, and health insurance are just a few. It’s no wonder that a July 2018 Gallup poll found that a record-high 77% of Americans believe the nation is divided. Even more shocking… a June 2018 Rasmussen poll showed 31% of Americans think a civil war will break out in the United States within the next five years.  

Given that Washington has been taken by dark forces, many states want more autonomy from the federal government. 

Now still just at the rumor stage, but: “Behind the scenes, 13 states are pushing through laws designed to undermine the federal government’s monopoly on issuing money…  Before President Lincoln banned the practice in 1863, states had issued more than 8,000 different types of money.  "The new currency would be digital, blockchain-based and grounded upon municipal bonds that offer real collateral. In other words, more secure than federal greenbacks."

== Killing one more advantage of the West ==

Elsewhere I pointed at one thing that helped the west to win the Cold War. Our adversaries had the advantages of a closed society, hampering information-gathering by our operatives, while theirs could roam the West openly. KGB spycraft was (and remains) often better than ours; we’ve learned the hard way how skilled they are. 

(I believe blackmail is the top method currently being used to suborn many of our leaders. There are dozens of reasons.)

One thing equalized intelligence gathering across the Cold War. Defectors. Frequently, we’d get spontaneous offers from highly placed adversary factotums, who supplied sudden waves of revelation, helping us survive. 

In return all we had to do was provide three things 
(1) safety, 
(2) decent prospects, and 
(3) the moral high ground.

Look at that list and see how all three have been targeted by Vladimir Putin’s New KGB, now in service not to an idealistic-if-mad socialism, but to a mafia oligarchy coated with a veneer of rabid-nationalism. 

Above all, VP wants it known that defectors to the west will be hunted down. The thuggish “we don’t care if you know we're doing it” blatancy of recent assassinations has been deliberate. 

“We will find you!” is the message.  

As for the moral high ground?  Well, Putin has one well-placed agent who is demolishing U.S. stature, almost single handed.

== Political scandals and more ==

Crum, has anyone tabulated sex scandals of politicians by political party? 

Start with divorce rates, that should be easy to do just from Wikipedia entries. Divorce used to be anathema among conservatives. Now, my back-of-the-envelope tracking suggests the rate is at least double among GOP politicians than Democratic ones. And an infinitely larger (literally) ratio between GOP vs DP presidents or presidential nominees. If this can be shown, it might sway some (alas, not most) “values voters.”

(Ah, irony. The party that once thought gambling to be immoral now is owned by casino moguls, and shrugs off signs of gambling addiction in its supreme court nominee. And there are many other reversals.)

Okay, to be fair let's now throw in regular, adult-consensual infidelity and things briefly seem a bit more even… certainly Bill Clinton was no role model, nor was Eliot Spitzer, or Mark Sanford, Gary Hart etc… though I’ll still bet on a GOP edge, since that much-higher divorce rate probably had cause. 

Indeed, a modifying factor ought to be whether the wife stays with him for a decade or more afterwards – isn’t she the best judge of redemption, after all? 

Further along the scale is kinky weirdostuff like Anthony Weiner -- obviously kinda sick  -- but that arguably didn’t damage anyone. Dems are probably competitive there! But hey, which party gets rid of its non-harmful weirdos?  Maybe too eagerly and stupidly, as in the case of Al Franken.

But where thing gets overwhelming is at the far end of the spectrum – the noxious, horrible pervert-predator end. There, the Grand Old Party appears to have a near monopoly, from Dennis Friend-to-Boys Hastert, a boy-buggerer who they made top Republican and Speaker of the House, whose “Hastert Rule” deliberately destroyed negotiation as an American political process, to Roy Moore and – well, you all know recent examples.

Only now –the very same day‼ -- there’s this fine fellow  

… and this one. Yipe! I’ve never seen anything like it. (To be clear, this one is not about sexual deviancy, that we know of. But… criminy. I mean click on this political ad!) Where is Ronan Farrow when we need him? He could get an assistant to tabulate this in a day and a half.

== Beware of the worst clich├ęs ==

Check out Peter Singer’s upcoming book  LikeWar: The Weaponization of Social Media -- how social media has changed politics and war.

From Evonomics, another proved case where oligarchic assertions are diametrically opposite to true: “They Go Together: Freedom, Prosperity, and Big Government.” 

Demonstrablly and absolutely provably. Countries with larger government sectors tend to have more personal freedom. 

Yes, it is a religious principle among our rightist and libertarian friends that “government” civil servants are the proper and only target for their Suspicion of Authority reflexes. But in fact, Adam Smith – who is studied and admired more at the liberal Evonomics site than anywhere else – recommended civil servants and regulatory laws to even the playing field that was always – always – spoiled in the past by feudal lords and other cheating oligarchs.  It is no accident that the Greatest Generation of Americans set up many regs and services… and as a direct result, flat-fair-open entrepreneurial capitalism became more healthy than at any time in the history of our species.

== Finally, be wary of "splitters and our own loonies ==

You think the Putin-Fox-mafia war against the Western Enlightenment only aims to rile up the anti-fact mad-right? Intel-analyses show that at least 20% of Moscow originating troll incitements are aimed at sparking dogmatic rage on the left, and that is sure to rise now. 

A good share of the "splitter" memes surging across the web, pouring hate at "DLC sellouts" and "Republican-lite Clinton-moderates" is coming from Kremlin basements. THINK before you give in to these sanctimony highs. Are we the pragmatic, fact-loving reformers? Or what?

The aim of all this is to get us to repeat the mistakes of 93-94 and 2009-2010, when two years of frenzied concentration on healthcare led to 14 years and then 8 years in the wilderness, helpless to do anything about the mad-treasonous GOP's central agenda: cheating. The only way they could hold onto power. 

Think. What are the "moderates" asking for? For example, in Nancy Pelosi's top priority bill, HR1? To ignore health care and immigration reform and all that? Or simply to stop the cheating, first! The voter-suppression, the gerrymandering and dirty tricks and secret PAC money and incredible open war against every fact profession. If we get rid of those, won't it be easier for you to then move on to your other priorities? Seriously!

Which makes sense? Use our current big coalition to fight the Kremlin-Fox war against fact and reason from destroying U.S. democracy? Or immediately split the coalition, drive millions back into the GOP and repeat the utter failures of 1993-4 and 2009-10? Kremlin trolls want that! Again, at least 20% of the unattributed memes that you see, demanding leftist purity, come right out of a Moscow basement.

Look, I want many of the things you want! I want expanded Medicare moving toward single payer! I want DACA kids fully and swiftly citizened. I want consumer protections etc. But reform comes first! Because if we end the cheating the mad-right will collapse. End the gerrymandering and secret-money PACs and take measures to restore American respect for the fact-professions and actual facts! If we deliver that, then you will get many of the things you want via a forgotten thing called "politics."

Don’t let yourself be bullied by such loons. Adult calm and willingness to negotiate only exists in one party, now. Don’t let it be wrecked here, too. Which leads us to: The Perfect Rant about PC


donzelion said...

"Ah, irony. The party that once thought gambling to be immoral now is owned by casino moguls"

And one dead pimp. I am thinking the evangelical wing that votes for (unrepentant) dead pimps is a junior player reading from a strange gospel.

donzelion said...

As for this - "End the gerrymandering and secret-money PACs and take measures to restore American respect for the fact-professions and actual facts!" - it always bothers me that liberals don't see the role Charles Munger Jr (a Republican scientist and heir of Warren Buffett's partner) and Arnie played in reducing the grip of gerrymandering in CA.

Republicans nationally look at the Munger/Schwarzenegger effort as an example of what NOT to do and will fight every further effort at transparency in districting. One wonders how many Bloombergs and other right/centrist/libertarian billionaires will be pushed out of central America needed feudal France to win our Revolution, we will need their help. As with France, it is hard to calculate the precise consequences of that help...

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin at the end of the previous main post:
(emphasis mine)

But the mother lode is in Russia, ...

Was that a pun?

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in this main post:

The prospect apparently has Donald Trump so depressed ...

My only source for this is Hal Sparks's radio show, but today they were talking about Trump driving his aides crazy by asking at every opportunity for an opinion on whether Mike Pence was reliably loyal.

They made it sound as if the issue was whether Pence might run for the presidency himself in 2020, or I suppose whether Pence might silently encourage impeachment so that he (Pence) himself could be president. But I don't think that's what Trump is asking on the subject of loyalty. I think he's really asking if--when Trump might find himself defeated at election, impeached, or forced to resign--Pence can be counted on to deliver a presidential pardon. And he seems to be awfully nervous about the notion that Pence might not.

David Brin said...

The Munger-Arnie move to end CA gerrymandering was opposed by DP politicians and the goppers thought CA voters were fools, letting idealism and a sense of justice lure them into impractical political suicide. It turned into the opposite. Under an HONEST system, yes, many DP pols had to work a little harder in more balanced seats, but the result was HIGHER democratic party success.

Above all, a lessening of radical partisanship. The Democratic Party that has super-majorities in CA is not in any way radical. Pragmatism... spiced with idealism... is king.

Twominds said...

"FIRST, end the cheating."

Should be easy to turn into a meme, shouldn't it?

duncan cairncross said...

Re - Pence delivering a Presidential Pardon

Surely that is irrelevant as NYS and other States can (and will) charge him with state crimes

David Brin said...

And his packed court will rull against state sovereignty.

Rud Merriam said...

Some states taken over by the Dems in the election could start eliminating the gerrymandering in 2019. That would create a more level playing field for the 2020 elections.

DP said...

Don't forget that Demographics are destiny. By 2040, two things will happen:

1. America will no longer by a white majority country. This will be achieved through purely legal immigration and birthrates. It's already baked in demographically and is inevitable.

2. 1/3 of Americans will be represented by 2/3 of the senators. As blue coastal states continue to grow and flourish and red interior states wither and depopulate, population will be clustered in cities and coastal regions. Virginia and Arizona have already turned blue. Florida, Georgia and Texas (!) almost turned blue this election cycle.

When these processes are complete America will have finished a process of Meiosis Cell Division (each new cell contains a unique set of genetic information). Two Americas will be created , each with its own unique cultural information.

Blue America will be urban, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic/racial, high-tech based economy, tolerant/liberal.

Red America will be rural, fundamentalist Christian, white, resource/agricultural based economy, intolerant/conservative.

Blue America will control the House and Electoral College - and with that, the presidency. Once Florida and Texas go blue the GOP has not possible way of winning the White House.

Red America will control the Senate and have a veto on judicial and Supreme court appointments.

The blue trump card is the House's power of the purse. If Wyoming wants a new freeway bypass, or a county in Arkansas wants a new post office, they will have to play ball on judicial appointments.

And that is our country going forward for the rest of my life at least.

john fremont said...

I agree with the repeal of the War Powers Resolution of 2001. I have read within the last few days that Trump does not visit the troops in theater because it would legitimate the policy they are fighting for.

...But unlike past Republican presidents, Mr. Trump has seen little value in the long American deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and other conflicts. He considers them a waste of money and lives, and has told advisers that the people in the countries where troops are stationed are not really friends of the United States.

One reason he has not visited troops in war zones, according to his aides, is that he does not really want American troops there in the first place. To visit, they said, would validate missions he does not truly believe in."

I agree that the Congress after voting on the Voting Civil Rights Act should bring this up. Congress should force the Administration's hand. All of the troop deployments and operations are conducted under the authority of the President as Commander-in-Chief. If Trump doesn't believe in these missions he has the Constitutional authority to redirect the armed forces. If Trump is not going to assert his authority then Congress needs to step up. Plus, the reforming of War Powers policy may be able to reach the "sane" conservative remnant as allies on this issue. For Andrew Bacevich and some of the writers at sites like The American Conservative , the militarization of US foriegn policy and the abrogation of Congressional duties to the executive branch have been subjects they have written about for almost 20 years now.

john fremont said...

@Larry Hart

...But I don't think that's what Trump is asking on the subject of loyalty. I think he's really asking if--when Trump might find himself defeated at election, impeached, or forced to resign--Pence can be counted on to deliver a presidential pardon. And he seems to be awfully nervous about the notion that Pence might not.

Yes, it makes me wonder about how shrewd of a political operator Mike Pence may be. Pence constantly praises Trump in public to the point where it gets nothing but derision from liberals. But I think Pence is playing Trump like a fiddle telling him what he likes to hear.To borrow a phrase from our host, Pence took it upon himself to pick the short straw to get into Trump's good graces a few years ago. Pence's political career was faltering as a governor so this was the gamble he took joining up with Trump's campaign. But now with the events that have taken place in the last several months it may be finally sinking in with Trump that Pence rolled him.

Brad Delong had an intriguing post last year regarding his thoughts on Pence.

Artemisia: I am now on Team Bannon!

Atossa: Why are you now on Team Bannon?

Artemisia: Because Steve Bannon warned Donald Trump that firing James Comey would be big trouble. Also Reince Priebus did so.

Atossa: But Trump listens to the last people he talked to. Why did he fire Comey then?

Artemisia: Because Jared Kushner and Mike Pence told him it would be no problem.

Atossa: And they got to him later.

Artemisia: But why would Jared Kushner say firing Comey wouldn't be a big problem?

Atossa: Because it was what Trump clearly wanted to hear. And Jared Kushner hasn't spent any time in Washington—he doesn't know much about how politics works.

Artemisia: But Mike Pence knows a lot about how politics works!

Atossa: Yup!

Artemisia: Mike Pence knew it would be big trouble!

Atossa: Yup!

Artemisia: Why would Mike Pence do something like that?

Atossa: What happens if Trump falls?

Artemisia: You mean?

Atossa: Yup! Snatch the pebble from my hand, grasshopper.

Anyway, just my two cents. And a Kung Fu refernce. ;)

locumranch said...

Everything you once knew is wrong:

Family values are dead; organised religion is near death; socialists control the US House of Representatives; Putin & the Russian Federation are unrepentant capitalists; conservatives don't conserve; liberals don't liberate; black is white; up is down; victims are strong; privilege is bad; guilt is assumed before innocence; "Democracy failed in Georgia" says Democrat Stacey Abrams; and a kepi-wearing David is now a staunch supporter of confederate "state sovereignty".

There is less & less to save with every passing day.

And it's too late, baby now, it's too late
Though we really did try to make it
Somethin' inside has died, and I can't hide
And I just can't fake it, oh, no, no.

Good luck with that because #NotMyProblem.


David Brin said...


David Brin said...

Interesting metaphor.

Alfred Differ said...

...I have to admit that I CAN imagine one person I would not be protecting with our very lives.

When someone says 'not my problem' in a believable way, I am willing to accept their non-participation and deny them most of my attention. I make an exception for a late possibility where they fall to their knees at my feet and beg forgiveness.

It's part of my libertarian core. If someone REALLY wants to be let alone, I'm inclined to do it even if I know it will kill them. It's not easy, but I already know I can do it.

Alfred Differ said...

The history of humanity is a sequence of escape rooms if we pursue that metaphor.

Bottlenecks of various types and shapes.
We've ALREADY experienced radical climate changes. Plural.
We've been killed off in big numbers by asteroid strikes (possibly? for Younger Dryas event) and super volcano eruptions
We've had to learn to live in our own filth in order to spend many generations to domesticate plants and animals to survive the melting ice.
We've had to learn to cope with hostile neighbors who learned how to be much more lethal because... well... humans are smart like that.
We even figured out how to get out of the feudal attractor! Staying out might be a problem, but we have a sketch of the solution.

Interesting metaphor, but awful pessimistic I think. OF COURSE we go from escape room to escape room. Humans are a frickin global extinction event spread across a few millennia. That's what happens when positive feedback loops run wild. It's natural, though. We aren't the first such event, but we might be the only smart one within a few light years.

Anonymous said...

I see that the CIA accused the Saudi prince, Mohammed bin Salman, of ordering the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It is clear that someone at the CIA decided to publish real data, even though that data could enrage Donald Trump. That confirms Dr. Brin's claim that there are still decent professionals in American institutions and that those professionals will defend the American people.


Anonymous said...

Lightning and thunder! I was wrong and I published two opinions in the previous thread. Here they go again:


“Good luck with that because #NotMyProblem”

That explains why you like the movie "THX 1138". Because the hero of that movie is a selfish insensitive, who escaped and saved his own skin, leaving the bride at the mercy of the depravity of the insane insane government.
I never liked that movie If that is the future with which Donald Trump's followers dream, that should not be surprising; but surely, do not expect that imposing such fascism will be easy. There will always be heroes who fight against evil.


Anonymous said...

And continuing with the previous thread; The best movie scene is when Casey Newton takes the pin after being released from prison and for a moment she can see Tomorrowland. The scene is powerful; in my opinion.



yana said...

The moral high ground can only follow its nose. As the current goofiness progresses, seems only one side wants poor people to die faster. One bloc wants its adherents to be angry and another prefers its people be happy. One turkey wing seeks more say over personal morals, another turkey wing thinks an even gameboard is the best way to induce citizens to favor good personal decisions.

The nu-blu House has only one year to make their case for high ground. Five or six bills, maybe one also passes the Senate, the rest devoured by Yertle McConnell's obfuscation machine, never even getting a vote. That's OK. Passing them to the Senate where they die makes it painfully obvious, which of the bicams has the best interest of the whole system closer to heart. 20 red seats in the upper chamber are in play for 2020.

War powers repeal perhaps Jan 03, but on January 2nd the House should start at the root, with ideas for a more perfect union. Nothing crazy, things we the people pretty much agree on, but all at once five things which Protect The Promise of democracy:

* Re-propose the Equal Rights Ammendment on January 2nd, 2019. There's a better chance of getting 38 states on board now, 40+ years later. The naysay mantra 40 years ago is the same today: "I don't want my daughter being drafted into the Army." Well, there's a balanced check for that, in the next paragraph...

* Propose an Ammendment: In any year when Congress has not declared "War" and there exists a national debt, then the next year's budget outlay may not exceed the past fiscal year's revenues. If we don't do this now, then new currencies will overtake the dollar in relevance and we will never dig ourselves out of the hole. Shouldn't have to reference 1930's Germany but there it is. But if we get to work on the debt now, the dollar will remain the dominant currency for decades, even after there are no metal chits or paper scrips.

* Propose an Ammendment to limit Representatives to 9 terms and Senators to 3 terms. If you want to limit the power of lobbyists while protecting freedom of speech and freedom of association, you simply dilute the pool of former Congresspersons. In a generation, we'd have thousands of former Congresspeople running around in business and the self-help lecture circuit, and that is nothing but good, for every facet of society.

* Propose an Ammendment limiting the right to make political donations to those citizens who are registered to vote, then limit the amount to 10,000 times the national minimum wage, and donations become public record. Thus corporations may legally be people, my friend, but if they can't vote then they can't donate.

And now the kicker...

* Propose an Ammendment prohibiting Congress from lowering any taxes, fees or tariffs while "War" is declared.

See how those cogs mesh with each other? Dilutes the power of individual lobbyists, while splitting donations from the wealthy more clearly into pro-war and anti-war positions. Want lower taxes? Then lobby Congress to end wars, and as a bonus, decrease the national debt. The essence of the fabled "fiscal conservative" who elected Reagan and GW.

One turkey wing might decide that it's more politically advantageous to maintain deficit spending via a state of continuously declared "War" but... is that an electorally supportable position? Heh, this is America after all.

yana said...

David Brin thought:

"his packed court will rull against state sovereignty."

And then rule against women's rights summer next year. Maybe even rule against gay rights. But taking over state court systems at the same time would peel 31% of the electorate off from the Republican Party, that same 31% who expect an immanent widespread civil disturbance.

A renewed push for the Equal Rights Ammendment, plus rights setbacks, plus those 20 red Senate seats in 2020? Oh boy, forces greater than us are already milling away.

Alfred Differ said...

Can we find a way to invite the caravan asylum seekers in to 'rake' our CA forests?

Heh. Might take a while. Might result in a few babies. 8)

Jon S. said...

Why would anyone be concerned about their daughters being drafted in the US?

We haven't even drafted their sons since 1973.

Howard Brazee said...

The various Right Wings around the world tend to have strong beliefs that they are automatically Right, and the other guys are automatically Wrong. Calvinism kind of codifies that.

When you're automatically Right, then self-analysis and control aren't important. After all, God is on your side. (If bad things happen, it's Satan's fault or Liberals' fault)

So it's not surprising there are so many people on the right who act unethically and immorally.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

When someone says 'not my problem' in a believable way, I am willing to accept their non-participation and deny them most of my attention. I make an exception for a late possibility where they fall to their knees at my feet and beg forgiveness.

The thing is, the guy you're talking about believes the roles are reversed--that we're about to fall to our knees and beg for his help. And he does not make the same exception. The whole point of the ant-and-grasshopper references is that we deserve the fate we made for ourselves. If you take his posts at face value, he looks forward to that moment. It's what makes life worthwhile.

And I'm with you--we're rubber; they're glue.

Larry Hart said...


It is clear that someone at the CIA decided to publish real data, even though that data could enrage Donald Trump. That confirms Dr. Brin's claim that there are still decent professionals in American institutions and that those professionals will defend the American people

Trump thinks of that as a bad thing.

Did you hear Pat ("How am I still alive?") Robertson speaking immediately after the Khashoggi murder became known. This self-appointed arbiter of Christian moral values was on right-wing talk radio cautioning that billions of dollars in arms sales must not be undermined because of just one man's death.

He might as well have been auditioning for the part of that king in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" :

"This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let's not bicker over who killed who."

Larry Hart said...

"That doesn't even make sense!"

I can't reproduce the image here, but there's a picture of a Trump supporter rally in the article, and one of the men is wearing a t-shirt that reads:

Make 45
46 Again

I presume that is a call for Trump's re-election, which even if it were to happen, would only make him "45 again", not 46. George Washington is not our first and second president. I don't get it.

To the woman in the background wearing the "Adorable Deplorable" shirt, I can only quote from Hill St. Blues: "If you answer to your name, then it must be plain." Locumranch to the contrary, we didn't call you deplorable because you voted for Trump. We said that a subset of Trump supporters were deplorable, and you saw yourself in that subset. I'm therefore tempted to believe your self-evaluation.

dimonic said...

@yana your second proposal will have the unfortunate effect of encouraging the government to declare war (in order to have an unbalanced budget).

If one must have balanced budget legislation, then would prefer to see a different formula for this: the government may not pass a deficit budget in any year that is the second year or more of economic growth (positive GDP).

This would permit deficit spending during recessionary years. It would make no allowance for wars - if the US cannot (somehow) fight a war with a budget that more than doubles any other nation, then new legislation would have to be passed, or perhaps the war should not be entered in to.

Larry Hart said...

I'm not the only one suggesting Robert Mueller as Speaker:

In your writeup of potential House Speakers, you overlooked: Robert Mueller, Beto O'Rourke, Marcia Fudge, and Barbara Lee. Why?


(Z) primarily wrote that item, and decided at the start to do only one person for each "type" of candidate that might challenge Pelosi. So, for example, one centrist Midwesterner (Cheri Bustos), one moderate black woman (Karen Bass), one old-school white liberal male (Richard Neal), one outspoken California liberal (Adam Schiff), one newly-elected member (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez), one non-member of Congress (Stacey Abrams), and so forth. Each of those folks has a distinctive pro/con profile, but one that would be duplicated if similar candidates were also included. Plus, the list would have grown to 14 or 16 people, and we felt that we were pushing it at nine.

Originally, (Z) intended to include a line after each of the nine candidates entitled "other candidates of this type," but struck that because it was not particularly illuminating. Anyhow, O'Rourke was considered, but Abrams seemed better for that "slot," particularly given the Washington Post op-ed we linked to. Same thing with Fudge (very similar to Bass), and Lee (very similar to Schiff).

We must admit, however, that we did not think of Robert Mueller. If we had, we might have included him as the curve ball of curve balls. He's obviously very well respected, and a Washington veteran, and has an impressive resume, from his military service to his current work as special counsel. That said, it would be a pretty provocative move, and the Democrats would surely prefer he finish up his current job, rather than giving him a brand-new job.

David Brin said...

* Balanced budget amendments are floated all the time by Republicans, who then turn and slam their feet on the debt accelerator. Democrats always put on the brakes.(live with facts: ) Keynsians like Jerry Brown put away savings in good times (instead of handing it over to the rentier caste) so that targeted deficits in a recession can help pull us out. Hence Dominic Amann’s proposal: “If one must have balanced budget legislation, then demand the government may not pass a deficit budget in any year that is the second year or more of economic growth (positive GDP).”

Modification: During GDP growth the government must de-leverage. That means you can continue to run deficits (not doing sudden, disruptive jerks), but always taking us toward lower indebtedness and debt-to-gdp rations. (By the way, Democrats do this when in power. Republicans never have, even once.)

Anonymous said...

The fires in California have been devastating. There are many dead. I still wonder if those fires have been caused by the followers of Donald Trump.
The location of the fires seems to be too unusual. The state of California should continuously monitor the activities of the most perverse followers of Donald Trump.


Anonymous said...

And on the same issue of the problem with fires.
There should be a law in California that indicates that the budget spent on public sculptures; Murals and purchase of plants for public gardens should be a money reassigned to efforts to prevent fires.
It would also be good to assign a "fire-fighting tax" which would consist of a tax of two dollars a month to each eighteen-wheeler (or more) cargo truck. (Companies that prove they are having low profits could be considered exempt from having to pay that tax.
Yes; Two dollars is almost nothing. But if they count all the trucks in the state, they can understand that enough money would be raised to hire a lot of staff to continually clean the tree leaves on the floor and create long artificial lakes, which serve as firebreaks or as sources of water to turn off the fires.


Anonymous said...

Or, the state could return tax deductible donations to the firefighting force. That sounds better.


Anonymous said...

Jon S:
“Why would anyone be concerned about their daughters being drafted in the US? We haven't even drafted their sons since 1973”

As I have seen the advance of technology. Most likely, in the far future, the last great war will erase all borders and the survivors will unite into one nation. All ethnic groups; races and religions of the planet, united temporarily in a single town. (which is always a temporary state, of course). But yes. Most likely, all survivors will migrate to the least contaminated place with radiation and pests. Patagonia? New Zealand? Australia? .. Yes. Australia seems to be the most obvious place... But as time goes by, the factions will emerge again and some will build the Mad Max Vehicles, of course. 8)


Alfred Differ said...


I don't think it likely that Trump's followers are responsible.

1) The drought killed a LOT of trees over the last few years. Over 100 million.
2) Our living spaces have encroached on our forests over the last couple of decades.
3) It's been hot and dry lately.

What likely did it was our forests colliding with our electrical utilities. The big fire in my county last year was probably sparked by dead trees hitting power equipment when the wind blew fast enough from just the right direction.

People-caused fires look different if you examine them and their ignition locations. Most of them are started near highways and involve tobacco products tossed out the window while still burning. The other big fire I've seen in my county was probably one of those because it started right on the margin of US 101.

Larry Hart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

Re - Pence delivering a Presidential Pardon

Surely that is irrelevant as NYS and other States can (and will) charge him with state crimes

Dr Brin replies:

And his packed court will rull against state sovereignty.

That's a worry of mine as well, but it only applies in some situations, not all of them.

If Paul Manafort (for example) is pardoned for conspiring with Russian agents to affect an election, then Brett Kavanaugh may rule that a state cannot prosecute him for the same activity.

But if the New York State attorney general charges Trump with violating state laws concerning disposition of charitable funds, I don't think the federal government has any way of separately disposing of the charges. Likewise, anyone in Trump's family or circle who finds himself charged with violations of New York state tax laws (or Virginia tax laws).

Anonymous said...

The Fort MacMurray fire in Canada was likely caused by a smoker walking along a trail. No clear evidence now (after chunks of the city burned down) but the weather was clear when it started, there were no nearby cables, but there was a trail through a wooded area that was used by residents as a shortcut.

locumranch said...

I am a YUGE supporter of the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) as I support gender equality in all things, especially in male-dominated victim categories like war & workplace fatalities (97% male), incarceration (89% male), homelessness (84% male), suicide (80% male) and homicide (70% male).

Yet, for some unfathomable reason, women tend to refuse true gender equality, preferring to remain the primary beneficiaries of a benevolent (but illegal) sexism which gifts the female gender with somewheres between 66% and 80% of all US governmental social service expenditures.

Of course, I believe that we can do so much BETTER than the ERA by abolishing each & every gender-specific program that currently exists because GENDER is an outdated, inherently sexist & non-biological category that has become a matter of personal & subjective CHOICE, according to progressive dogma.

I also encourage men everywhere to self-identify as female so they can qualify for gender-specific social services, student aid, Medicaid & Medical, subsidised housing, lighter criminal sentences (67% more lenient) and the additional legal protections granted by the VAWA, #MeToo and #BelieveHer.

The future is indeed female and, if social current trends continue, then so am I: Gimmie, gimmie, gimmie.



Shame on you, Alfred: California Governor Jerry Brown has laid the blame for the recent Californian fires on "climate deniers', as he has specifically held that (1) State, County & Local governments are NOT culpable, (2) the local utility PG&E is likewise not culpable even though it admitted (more or less) responsibility, and (3) NOTHING could have prevented these unforeseeable (but somehow inevitable) fires from starting.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Doktor Brin sagt: What is the number one priority I urge upon the new House of Representatives? Repeal the 2001 War Powers Resolution.

No. That's number two. Number one has to be H.R. 1, the Voting Rights Restoration Act -- because even repealing the War Powers Resolution only has moral force if the House is the best representative of the national will and is seen to desire wanting to be an even better representative. If the War Powers Repeal is to have any hope of passing the Senate, it must have moral force; for it requires Republican Senators to stand for Congress rather than faction.

Declare that Democrats stand for constitutional democracy, and thereby reveal those Republicans lost to anti-constitutional oligarchy. Then close the open war-purse, and declare the independence of Congress.

@Twominds: Should be easy to turn into a meme, shouldn't it?
How about: Every Valid Vote. Alliteration helps! And it makes a good five-beat chant. You can even mix in lots of culture references: V for Victory (and the WWII iconography); V for Vendetta (Alan Moore and Hugo Weaving and Guy Fawkes); the Saturn V; V for Veterans; Brown v. Board of Education (and innumerable other images); V for Vespucci (you know, Amerigo); on and on and on.

@Daniel Duffy: That's why the NatPop plan is ultimately to revoke the citizenship of however many immigrants it takes to maintain dominance -- in their minds, all immigration policy since 1965 is illegitimate and ideally would be undone.

I am seriously not sure about what will happen with the Senate past 2030. Migration has already made VA blue, NC purple, and TX starting to shade magenta -- and that is mostly internal migration. I can only count 38 seats that the shrunken GOP can reliably count upon past 2022 to defend the Red-revanchist-regressive agenda. They may be able to compete in the Senate, but I would not take it as gospel that they could control it. And I think it not at all implausible that more Southern states could be tipped to purple by migration -- South Carolina and Tennessee could easily host the next Austin.

@yana: The Equal Rights Amendment, maybe; it fits with the return of Year-of-the-Woman and #MeToo and such. The rest? Not as practical.

Alfred Differ said...

Catfish N Cod | I think repealing the war powers resolution should be #1 simply because that makes it possible for lawsuits intended to curtail the President to be handled different in the courts by Strict Constitutionalists. Congress has the power to declare war, so a statement by Congress (even just the House) declaring its intent matters to strict readers. That might be enough to affect suits brought by States against the President.

Voting Rights Restoration would require Senate support and veto-proofing. Good luck with that. Voting rights get restored after the 2020 census if everyone stays focused on turning out the kids in 2020.

Alfred Differ said...

locumranch | I don't really care what you think of Gov Brown. I get what he is doing, but have my own opinion.

I do take note that your poor understanding of the ERA leaves you interpreting it as a desire for equal outcomes. Weak and cowardly of you.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Alfred: I am under no illusions as to the VRRA’s fate as long as Mitch “Yurtle the Turtle” McConnell and “Individual-1” are in control of the Senate and the Chief Executive respectively. If they want to just pass them the first day, they can; if they don’t, they go to different committees, so no huhu.

David Brin said...

A civilization that does not invest in the next generation is stupid. One that does not maximize the benefits of talent is stupid. All nations who so-invest have benefited spectacularly. Woman do most of the tending to that project, setting aside careers. Those women who have NOT so invested - and/or set aside career for the sake of just the husband... I am willing to listen and argue over whether alimony laws need tweaking. Not all of these male rage complaints are 100% invalid...

...just nearly all of them.

locumranch said...

Alfred self-declares as a privileged cis-gendered transphobic misogynist by calling the poor little old gender non-binary me 'weak and cowardly', and xem xyr his hate speech equals 'assault'. Help, help, I'm being oppressed!

The tide turns as (first) Harvard, (second) the University of California and (third) all public agencies are going down for illegally 'considering race, sex, ethnicity or national origin when evaluating applicants'.



Equality & the progressive fair-level-egalitarian playing field can only be achieved when the US courts reaffirm that justice must be deaf, dumb and incredibly stupid as well as blind.

ERA does the same thing, my clueless friends, as it prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex or gender, so much so that the light that you see at the end of the Affirmative Action tunnel is an oncoming train called 'Radical Equality'.

Toot, toot, crunch, squish.


Alfred Differ said...

Catfish N Cod | Okay. I'd still rather the resolution first up. I'd rather that because I don't want their first act to be purely symbolic. It would sound too much like previous futile attempts to repeal the ACA by the former management.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Catfish N Cod said...

Every Valid Vote...

I like it! It sounds catchy, and as you said, many meme iconography it could be fitted to.

Now, if the Dems were smart, and wanted to really make a big push, they'd start pushing memes and adds using that or a similar catch phrase, throwing out as many different example stories of people whose legitimate votes were disenfranchised by restrictive voter ID laws/limited poll locations/hours/etc.

If the Dems were smart, and they actually wanted to get a big push to rescind the war powers, they'd start spamming ads and memes quoting the Constitution, and other documents regarding the authority of declaring war residing with Congress.

If I had more time, and wasn't limited in the kind of political involvement I'm permitted to have (or wasn't paranoid about overstepping those bounds), I'd probably start making memes for both myself.

Dems have a fairly young, active, tech- and pop-culture savvy demographic. They should utilize that a lot more than they have been. I'm 100% certain that they have many more people who are much better at making memes (both in technical photoshop skill and in skill of the art) than I am.

On a separate, unrelated note, I usually don't talk about work too much, nor do I normally like to brag or boast, but today is a bit of a special exception.

For context, US military enlisted ranks start at E1, and end at E9. E1-E3 are junior enlisted, E4-E6 are generally Non-Commissioned Officers, or NCOs (some branches vary on including E4 there, but not the Navy), and E7-E9 are Senior NCOs. E1-E3 is an automatic promotion after time and good conduct. E4-E7 requires an exam, and E7 and up requires a board of review.

For my rate, Torpedoman (officially "Machinist Mate Weapons", but we're unofficially called Torpedomen because the name change of our rate is still a sore spot even 20 years later), the average time-in-service to advance to E6, or Petty Officer 1st Class (TM1/MMW1 when including the rate), is 8.9 years.

The nominal time-in-service to E6, if you make everything first time up (most people don't), with no EP or "Early Promote" evals, is 5.5 years.

Today, the results for the fall advancement cycle came out. I did it in 4.5 years.
} : = 8 D

David Brin said...

The War Powers retraction would take effect instantly, without any need for Senate consent. Everyone in the chain of command and government would know that an order to attack somewhere in the world one, will not AUTOMATICALLY be legal and valid, just because it comes from the White House. Without the 2001 War Powers resolution, someone courageous could seek an injunction, if an order seems more spasmodic than rational.

And yes, it would say: "We will find ways to act, even if legislation is blocked." I'll be saying more about that.

In contrast, the revival of the ERA is dumb. Sorry. judge after judge has said it will make no difference except to make all 18 year old girls send in that postcard, alongside the guys. Meanwhile, it continues the insane practice of allowing cumulative ratification across many decades, which could lead to reckless endangerment. All amendments should have a time limit, after which, sorry, you must come back to the well.

David Brin said...

Hey, let's hear it for Ilithi Dragon! Here's to a fact-centered profession of dedication and service and courage -- that has no time to waste on anything but merit and accomplishment.

Hurrah! You go, guy!

(There's a bunch of parallel universes in which I was one of Rickover's boys... it came close. It's interesting to guess whether I'd have reached flag rank... or else we'd have one fewer nuclear submarine. But here we are, in this one. )

matthew said...

Regarding "Every Valid Vote" - too complex an idea. The hostile listener immediately starts looking for the exception. Bad approach.

Instead use a meme already firmly lodged in the conservative, patriotic mindset.
Try "Taxation Without Representation."
The unequal representation from gerrymandering represents taxation without (equal) representation. Our Founding Fathers fought against TWR.
Blue States' tax burden and recent tax law changes are TWR. The Electoral College and the Senate are TWR.

Etc, etc.

Complex opening thought will trigger immediate retrenchment. No dice librul.
Simple opening thought along hard-wired thought processes, leading to cognitive dissonance? Win.

matthew said...

High Five Mr. Dragon!

Larry Hart said...

Not all of these male rage complaints are 100% invalid...

Well, I don't know how much national play the story is getting, but here in Chicago, there's been another mass-shooting at a hospital--fortunately (for purely selfish reasons) not the one I work for. The initial target was a female ER doctor who was the first killed. The shooter, who is purposely not being named on television, is her frustrated ex-fiancee.

Don't ask me to feel sorry for enraged males tonight. I could go on, but I'd only get myself into trouble.

Larry Hart said...

@Ilithi Dragon,

Sorry to inadvertently shit on your big day. Just an accident of bad timing.

Congratulations on your accomplishment.

God save the United States of America.

David Brin said...

And the US Navy...

...and folks near a different kind of front lines, like LarryHart. Yeah, it's on the news out here, too. If God wants us to do Star Trek stuff out there, he had better help the United States of America. We may be the Galaxy's best chance out of the Fermi trap.

Anonymous said...

Some idiots created a game in which players beat feminists:


Catfish N. Cod said...

@Alfred, Dr. Brin: How can something passed by only one House take effect immediately? This is not how I understand how the War Powers Resolution works.

What it does do is force the Senate immediately to address the question. Sections 6 and 7 of the 1973 WPR establish strict time limits on consideration of a bill, joint resolution, or concurrent resolution once passed by one or the other House. Avoiding these time limits requires a recorded vote. In other words, having the House pass a repeal of the 2001 AUMF forces the Senate to go on record as approving or disapproving of abdicating the Congress' authority with respect to war-making.

Which is useful -- and we might yet have enough Republicans willing to stand for the Senate rather than Yurtle's powermongering prostration before Individual-1 -- but it may well be as symbolic as the VRRA. It also might trigger litigation regarding the WPR's authority, which is another ball of wax I don't really want us getting into. We have enough of a constitutional crisis as it is.

@Illithi: You're getting it. And congratulations on swift promotion! (Go Navy! Beat Army!) Also also thank you for your service -- for sanity as much as for putting yourself on the line.

@matthew: The goal here is to be more reasonable in the view of the undecided, not in the view of the hostile. The hostile's desirable state of mind is not to agree, but to make unreasonable arguments (which may lead to a revelation of reductio ad absurdum, but that's a positive side-effect and not a goal).

When the hostile tries to raise exceptions, the slogan provides a succinct response to address or deflect as appropriate. Watch:

Hostile: "Democrats stuff ballot boxes with help from illegals!"
Democrat: "No. We want Every Valid Vote. We don't need to cheat to win."

Hostile: "Democrats are getting felons to vote!"
Democrat: "In accordance with law. Every Valid Vote."

Hostile: "Voter ID is necessary to prevent fraud!"
Democrat: "Only as long as Every Valid Vote can be counted."

Hostile: "Elections must be locally controlled!"
Democrat: "With whatever assistance is needed to ensure Every Valid Vote counts."

Any accusations of cheating are deflected by Valid and any attempts at voter suppression are challenged by Every. Meanwhile hostiles have to throw out all sorts of (increasingly unfair and bizarre) arguments, while the Democrat can Keep. Repeating. The. Meme.

Please don't throw me in that there briar patch.

(Also -- "Taxation w/o Representation" is already taken as the DC Statehood slogan. "Consent of the governed" might work. "Believe in America", too -- voter suppression means you don't believe in some of your fellow citizens.)

matthew said...

The average Tea Party type knows only about ten facts about our nations founding. "Taxation Without Representation" is one of those ten. It's a short circuit to the argument. Cognitive Dissonance.

BTW, there are NO undecided. Every person in America over 5 has made up their mind about Trump. Polls show almost no one is changing their mind.

A.F. Rey said...

The average Tea Party type knows only about ten facts about our nations founding. "Taxation Without Representation" is one of those ten. It's a short circuit to the argument. Cognitive Dissonance.

Of course, the average Tea Party type will not be swayed by anything any Democrat says, since they are convinced that all Democrats spread "fake news" and want to destroy our country. So I wouldn't worry much about that demographic. :)

Catfish N. Cod said...

First, what A.F. Rey said is relevant. I’m *not* going to convince many Tea Party types, and I am not going to shape rhetoric to please them: that’s a mug’s game at the moment.

Second, you are also right that practically everyone has made a decision on supporting or opposing Individual-1. That’s not the goal here either.

What we are addressing is what Sun Tzu called “The Moral Law”. We wish those who may privately cheer on opposition, but stay on the sidelines, to mobilize. The opposition has a far larger bench than the supporters, who are already close to maxing out just to maintain what they have; it’s why they are increasingly resorting to dishonest “rules” to either maintain dominance or interfere in areas where they are forced to withdraw.

Demographics predict that with no change in ideology, and a fair and open set of rules honestly applied, the opposition will decisively win sometime in the foreseeable future. The supporters are aware of this; in fact, it’s one of their primary motivations. They have already rejected altering ideology to fit circumstances. Ergo: if they wish to win, they have no choice but to break more and more rules.

It’s not about just principles; it’s about whether the situation requires action. A lot more people think that than did two years ago, but even more are required to re-implement a free and fair Republic.

Even a couple of years ago I was quite despondent about the chances of getting meaningful nationwide action on voting reform. The Russians may ultimately regret pointing out that the failure modes of our ramshackle election system are an existential threat to the Republic.

Larry Hart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

What we are addressing is what Sun Tzu called “The Moral Law”. We wish those who may privately cheer on opposition, but stay on the sidelines, to mobilize

It worked for the humans against the Gubru at the climax of The Uplift War.

locumranch said...

Congrats to Ilithi_D for achieving Torpedo-person Grade E6, and many thanks to him for sacrificing his self-interest to protect his culture's Big Macs, toasters & single mothers.

Likewise, I empathise when he musters out & realises that his culture cares more about their Big Macs, toasters & single mothers than they do about his oft-neglected interests, leaving him a choice between either self-rejection or cultural repudiation.

The disillusioned veteran has changed more governments on his return than organised warfare ever has or ever will, and it would behoove you to remember this when your pussy-hatted culture fails to reciprocate come St. Crispin's Day.


donzelion said...

Catfish: "How can something passed by only one House take effect immediately?"

It really depends on whether the 'War Powers Resolution' is a resolution, or law. Jurists are still debating that, long after it issued. If it's merely a resolution, then either house can revoke it. If it's law, then neither can revoke it alone. That said, whether it's law or a resolution, the history of its having been enforced to terminate military action by the president is...pretty uneven. So far as I recall, there are no instances in which it was invoked to actually abrogate a military action by denying funding to the military for an operation (though it has come up frequently in court, they've punted it back to Congress to wait for them to issue a binding legal action).

"a repeal of the 2001 AUMF forces the Senate to go on record as approving or disapproving of abdicating the Congress' authority with respect to war-making."
If the Democrats had majorities in both houses, and a fact pattern like Ollie North's Iran Contra Scandal recurred in Central America, would they fail to act (like they did in the '80s)?

In any event, inaction by the Legislature as a whole punts discretion back to the President - it does not induce either side to do anything. But it still may be worthwhile symbolism.

As for this -

Hostile: "Voter ID is necessary to prevent fraud!"
Democrat: "Only as long as Every Valid Vote can be counted."

-the problem is that Voter ID reduces the pool of 'valid votes' more than most people realize. A lot of folks can't obtain valid ID for a variety of reasons (traffic tickets cost you your license? moved to a new address, but can't prove residency there because you're subleasing and don't have any bank account, utility bill, or other proof?).

Shucks, having spent a few weeks counting, you'd be shocked how a simple signature requirement may reduce the pool of valid votes (esp. among immigrants from Asian countries which use a non-Latin based alphabet, folks who've had strokes, or folks who can barely sign their own name - not to mention the % of 'forgetful' people who omit their signatures based on ordinary oversights).

That said, I agree with your approach in all other contexts. 'Every valid vote' is indeed the law.

David Brin said...


Hostile: "Voter ID is necessary to prevent fraud!"
Democrat: "Only as long as Every Valid Vote can be counted." AND poor people, the young, elderly, etc get COMPLIANCE ASSISTANCE to actually GET the ID that would help their lives and enable them to vote. Otherwise, Voter ID laws are just blatant cheats.

"realises that his culture cares more about their Big Macs, toasters & single mothers"

Bull, compared to the treasonous confed culture that only cares about masturbatory rage and hatred of whatever modernity his feudal masters tell him - daily - to hate.

BTW... RED America is the land of Big Macs and single mothers. Ask Sarah Palin. Also drug abuse, alcohol, domestic violence, gambling, prostitution, etc. It's so cute when he tries to be self-righteous, given what he's defending.

Alfred Differ said...

locumranch | ... leaving him a choice between either self-rejection or cultural repudiation.

Bull shit. Some of us specialize in hiring guys like him. Self-motivated, curious people with a strong sense of integrity are not common. The kind of work I do needs them. Without them, whether during their active duty or afterward, your sorry butt would be a lot worse off.

Alfred Differ said...


My customer (USN) employs about 275,000 civilians. Contractors add up to roughly the same head count as a first approximation and my employer is responsible for roughly one hundred of them. It is VERY common for contractors to hire vets. It is VERY common for the civilian folks to hire vets. Oftentimes, we compete with each other to do it as people with security clearances are valuable 'assets'.

The current labor market is pretty damn near to 'full employment' like Keynesian's love, so I'll just add one more thing. If any of you know any vets who have decent IT experience or are willing to learn, my employer would be interested. I'd get a bonus if I brought them in and we hired them. Send them my way and make my wife happy when I spend it on something sparkly for her. There are holidays for that spread all through the year. 8)

Ilithi Dragon said...

First, an important CDC Alert:

There is a major E. Coli outbreak.

Throw out all Romaine lettuce. ALL types of Romaine lettuce, in any form. If you're not sure if your mixed salad contains Romaine lettuce, throw it out.

Even if some of it has been eaten and nobody's gotten sick yet, throw it out.

Sanitize any containers, drawers, shelves, etc. that have come in contact with it afterward.

Ilithi Dragon said...

As for Locum...

I joined late, so there were a number of Big Life Lessons that I'd already figured out before I came in, and that's helped me and my career (little time wasted figuring out how to adult and all), but one of the biggest things that I have learned since joining (partly helped by my experiences prior to the Navy), is what is real life, and what isn't real life.

For context, a lot of people in the military who never experienced adult life outside of the military, often refer to the civilian world as "the real world," and often complain about the various bits of BS we have to deal with as compared to "the real world."

The problem with that, and what Locum and "cynics" like him don't understand, is that the civilian world, the world I enjoyed before I enlisted, the world most of you enjoy now, is absolutely, 100% NOT the real world. It is an artificial construct, something that we have manufactured. The civilian world, while not perfect, strives for fairness and justice, consistency, law and order, peace and prosperity, cooperation, etc.

This is not the Real World.

The Real World is not fair. The Real World gives no fucks about any of us, and will casually and uncaringly crush any of our hopes and dreams and desires. The real world will see everything you have strived and struggled for turned to naught on less than a whim. There is no law. There is no justice. Peace is fleeting and temporary. There is no right and wrong in the real world. There is no hate in the Real World, because the Real World is utterly ambivalent.

The Real World is shitty, and it sucks, and most of us wouldn't survive in it, let alone accomplish anything in it.

But that's why we created civilization. The Real World is a shitty place, full of death and pointlessness, and we decided we didn't like that, so we made a better world. An artificial construct within which we could all live, not just surviving, but thriving, and accomplishing meaningful things.

But the Real World still exists. It still needs to be beaten back. The foundations of our construct still need to be maintained. And there are many people who, having never experienced the Real World, think that civilization would be better dismantled or disrupted, or who would undermine the foundations of our civilization and risk collapsing back into the Real World for personal advantage.

That's why I serve. There are a thousand and one reasons why I enlisted, but the core of why I enlisted, why I re-enlisted, is because civilization needs men and women to stand at the edge of our construct and shield it from the Real World, so that our civilization might continue to exist. So that the people in it can survive, and thrive, and flourish, protected from the Real World and all its horror and disfunction.

The whole POINT of civilization is so that we don't all have to deal with the Real World every day just to survive. To give more people a chance to survive, and give those survivors a chance to do more than merely subsist. That people can live their lives not knowing how far removed they are from the real world, not knowing the sacrifices that are made on their behalf, IS THE WHOLE GODDAMN POINT! There is no internet in the Real World. No powered flight. No medicine. No trips to the moon. No future. We make civilization to protect people from the Real World so that they have time and energy and freedom to worry about other things, to build and create and make this shitty universe worth living in.

Protecting that is the job that I signed up for, because it's a job that needs done, not because I want praise and accolade. Thanks and recognition, from you, or anyone, while appreciated, is neither desired nor required.

David Brin said...

Danf. This is why I armtwisted him to come back here.

locumranch said...

"The Real World is not fair. The Real World gives no fucks about any of us, and will casually and uncaringly crush any of our hopes and dreams and desires. The real world will see everything you have strived and struggled for turned to naught on less than a whim. There is no law. There is no justice. Peace is fleeting and temporary. There is no right and wrong in the real world. There is no hate in the Real World, because the Real World is utterly ambivalent" [ID].

Bingo. And, now that you've told us of your desire to protect others from this shitty reality of yours, riddle me this:

Why do you cripple, handicap & infantilise them so?

Do you coddle that which you would make strong?

Do you condemn others to utter dependency out of spite or because of your pathological need to be needed?

Quite inadvertently, you've become the authoritarian that you've always hated when you conclude that those others must be nursery-bound toddlers simply because you fancy yourself as a rare adult.

You must allow those toddling others to see the harsh reality that you see, to experience the implacable nature of cause & effect, and to suffer the consequences of their own beliefs & actions if you wish them to mature & grow into capable adults.

Let my people grow.


David Brin said...

Ironies never cease. "Let wild dogs roam and bite!" screams the coddled kibble.

donzelion said...

Winter: I neglected to respond to this, as I have to be rather delicate about dealing with matters in Saudi Arabia now.

"I see that the CIA accused the Saudi prince, Mohammed bin Salman, of ordering the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi."

Bloomberg's treatment of the CIA handling is pretty solid reasoning that seems to me to reflect someone actually speaking intelligently with intelligence officers:

(Mind you, Bloomberg's ordinary journalists are among the best connected in the world, as well as among the best compensated in the profession...I was rather closely connected with them, once upon a certain fields, high pay signifies high professional qualifications, though most of Bloomberg's press writes stories that are read primarily by AI trading platforms, which process trades minutes/hours before NYT or WSJ publish - that stuff isn't made public, but costs $5k - $10k/mo per terminal to subscribe)

It is clear that someone at the CIA decided to publish real data
That is absolutely NOT clear. Most of the time, if they publish something, it's to protect something even more important. In this case, when they are making statements about cellphone recordings, they are most likely protecting someone (or something) else.

So...when the CIA directly refutes the President, they are doing so because there's something they've determined is a higher national security priority than the President's good name and reputation (which even for Trump, is considerably important) - something they will risk their jobs to guard. They don't do this lightly.

Remember when this story aired, and within days, I'd suggested this could well be the work of an internal faction within Saudi? The Saudis themselves floated the rogue agents story weeks later, but the best evidence (and the CIA probably wouldn't lie about the basic claims about control - only their sources and methods) now appears to say otherwise. I haven't reviewed that evidence, but the folks who do review this are probably the best in the world at doing so.

"there are still decent professionals in American institutions and that those professionals will defend the American people"
There are many. Trump is too busy hiring and firing his senior lieutenants to purge them as thoroughly as Bush Jr did during his 8 years...

David Brin said...

" to purge them as thoroughly as Bush Jr did during his 8 years..."

Do you know that any of the purged were "rehabilitated" under Obama?

The fashion of nostalgia for either Bush leaves me stunned.

Ilithi Dragon said...


Your premise is that sheltering most of civilization from the shittiness of the non-civilized real world, produces ennui and infantilism, etc.

Except that this is not true. The most successful civilizations, that have risen the furthest above the base functions of survival in the real world, have accomplished the greatest things.

The further we get above the base functions of survival in the real world, the more art, literature, super structure construction, fantastic achievements like putting men on the moon, SUV robots on Mars, sending probes past the edge of our solar system, and so many other daily wonders that we have achieved.

This has not produced ennui, it has allowed each generation to achieve more and greater things.

Because creating a civilization frees more people from the base level of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. That's the whole point of civilization. It frees people from the basic struggles of survival to pursue their lives as they would see fit, and to make of themselves what they will.

Furthermore, your premise is fundamentally flawed in that you claim that people are forced into a sheltered box. Again, fundamentally false. Nobody is kept from the edge. I volunteered to be here on the edge (twice, in fact), and everyone else in our civilization is free to come here and stand beside me.

But not everyone can do that. Not everyone can do this job. I've seen plenty of people who tried and failed, some who never should have tried in the first place. And not everyone NEEDS to do that. That's why we created civilization, so that not all of us HAVE TO do that. So that those who can't survive in the Real World CAN survive in Civilization. So that those who don't want to struggle in the Real World DON'T HAVE TO.

If anyone wants to, they are free to do so, or free to try, but they are not required.

And by freeing those people up to focus on other things, flourish in other ways, they can collectively drive us to greater things and a greater life.

People don't need to be beaten up and run over by the ambivalent steamroller that is the Real World to become great and successful people. Some people will find themselves there, and they are free to do so (though if they're going to stand beside me and breath my air, eat my food, and take up my rack space, they damned well better be able to pull their own weight), but there are so many other ways to make something of yourself, to find value and meaning in life, and not everyone is suited to your sense of machoism.

Which is the ultimate point of civilization.

Anonymous said...


And really, the situation in Washington is insane. Seeing a clown in the presidential chair of the most powerful nation in the world is like being in the realm of the red queen and the mad hatter.
When I realized the magnitude of the disaster, I thought that a tide of patriotic Americans would besiege the white house to get the big clown out of there. But that did not happen.
Donald Trump is like a rodent inside a delicate and very expensive machine. If the rodent is not removed from the inside of the machine, then the mouse will take everything it finds and will ruin the delicate mechanisms, until the gears stop spinning and the cables catch fire, damaging the machine in an irremediable way. When a rodent is detected, it must be captured in a cage quickly, before it causes further damage.
Legislators must create a law that states that when a president is deposed, the successor must be someone without political ties, but with a history of being a great fighter for civil rights; and at the same time, someone with the necessary knowledge to be able to lead the nation.


David Brin said...

Ilithi rights on! But let me add a couple of notes --

-- this "lazy" civilization of supposed lotus eaters is tested every generation by zero-sum fools who think "Americans are fat, rich, spoiled and must have traded something vital for it all... manhood, soul, cojones... and every single generation proved them wrong. The men at Antietem and Normandy and the completely random average civilians on flight UA93...

-- this "lazy" civilization of supposed lotus eaters is out there running and jumping and doing martial arts and inventing new x sports and re-discovering every ancient craft from basketry and floor looms to blacksmithing. The Age of Amateurs leaves nothing interesting neglected.

-- Feudalism had its chance. And it accomplished nothing of significance. In any day or week we outdo all of their accomplishments, including pyramids and cathedrals. This is not to disparage them! They were scratching their way up from the caves, the best of them trying so hard to find a way for their children to stand on their shoulders. We do not honor them by imitating the cruel, wretched and stunningly inefficient (talent-wasting) patterns under which they lived. If we restore that horror - out of some delusional, fact-free, zero-sum romanticism - we betray them and everything they strove for!

-- But that's the essence of our civil war, which has always been about zero-sum romanticism vs a weird innovation, positive-sum and pragmatic zeitgest of incremental and iterative reform, in which no one moment's certainty can or should last, but the 99% fact-verified models of the world keep improving. Romantics understand not a single word or aspect of this new approach, which has accomplished more than all their wretched kingdoms, combined. They fear and hate it, as if we were alien invaders from another world, instead of the one hope for all humans to rise out of history's despair.

Oh, the irony, that most zero-sum feudal societies still prached for generosity and kindness... and so do "progressives!" But the great justification for this better world of investment in all children and in justice and protection from the "real world" is actually pragmatic. It is the only system and approach that ever actually delivered on the promises of civilization.

Anonymous said...

I think there's a way to ruin the sale of weapons to Donald:
Give unprecedented dissemination to the images of the war between Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Show the children and women who died in the bombings and then, let's see what happens.
According to the rules of the strategy, a ruler can not win without the support of the people.


donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "The fashion of nostalgia for either Bush leaves me stunned."

Nostalgia? Hardly. While you and I disagree fairly vehemently on Bush I (I find pros and cons, but ultimately, believe he acted in what he interpreted as the best interests of the country), I think we see eye-to-eye in disdain/contempt for Bush II.

That said, the depths of your fear/hatred towards Pence makes me pause: policywise, Trump is really Bush III, and Pence would probably be IV. It's not like they have many people concocting actual policies on their side, or testing new ideas (at least, not beyond how to undermine what's left of the rickety New Deal and revert to 1920...or better still, 1872 - the era before income taxes were feasible and when trusts enabled the vastest oligarchy America ever experienced).

David Brin said...

I demur and disagree. Oh, all of them are thieves... the main purpose of both Iraq wars was to feel Cheney family logistics companies, since they inarguably were the only real beneficiaries. Supply Side tax cuts for the rentier caste are common themes.

But the Neocons who made excuses for the Iraq wars were dropped like feces into a toilet, once their purpose was done, because they were at-root idealists (if insane) and starting to notice the uses to which they were pu. Most are anti-trumpists today.

No, while the Bush family is a cadet branch of the Saudi Royal House, the Trumps are mafiosi. But Pence would be far worse. I think he is sincere. And the dominionists he'll pack into the White House genuinely want the end of the world.

The hanged man said...

Winter, I have been thinking along the same lines. People in this country become outraged over the mistreatment of animals of all kinds. TPTB figured out (after Vietnam) that people will remain complacent as long as they they are not confronted with images of the poor tattered remains of women and children, and the young American sons and brothers (and daughters and sisters). And so, with the lessons of Vietnam, the media no longer shows the wooden boxes coming home to their poor, bereaved families, nor the poor mangled bodies of the children, thousands upon thousands of them.

If someone in the media were to show these images and tell their stories, lines would be drawn and painful truths about our country and our American values must be examined and re-addressed. I believe there would be an outcry and a lash back, as our fractured society struggles to define who we are and who we are not.

The hanged man said...

As for our fake president, I do believe he should be treated and referred to as something utterly lacking in substance and, whenever he appears to be saying anything, I think the Peanuts sounds for adults talking should be sufficient for conveying any nonsense he is spewing in the manner of actual speech.

I, for one, would find his ramblings so much less objectionable.

Anonymous said...

* Propose an Amendment limiting the right to make political donations to those citizens who are registered to vote, then limit the amount to 10,000 times the national minimum wage, and donations become public record. Thus corporations may legally be people, my friend, but if they can't vote then they can't donate.

And for good measure add a clause that says that political donations to candidates you cannot vote for are illegal. That way the candidate's campaign will only be finance by his current or future constituents.

No more Koch money from Kansas influencing political campaigns in Wisconsin or other States.

Larry Hart said...


It's not like they have many people concocting actual policies on their side, or testing new ideas (at least, not beyond how to undermine what's left of the rickety New Deal and revert to 1920...or better still, 1872

It would be interesting to ask the individual MAGAts just when it is they want to return to when America was "great". The most common perception is that they want to go back to the Leave It To Beaver era circa 1953, but it seems many long more for the antebellum era of 1853, while some seem to yearn for the Puritan colonial age closer to 1653.

Another of those things that is apparently Ok When Republicans Do It--they have nothing but scorn for liberals who are insufficiently jingoistic or who blame American for any policy shortfall, but they get to rally around a slogan which implicitly asserts that America is not (currently) great. That's why I've been countering with a distorted MAGA hat: AWGA. "America Was Great Already."

Twominds said...

@Cadfish N. Cod

Every Valid Vote, with the situations you describe should be a meme, not in the place of but along side FIRST End the Cheating.

I see that over a picture of an extremely gerrymandered district, or over the picture of a ballot with the common small differences in signatures, or over a picture of a signpost "Voting booth 10 miles outside town" (like Dodge in Kansas).
There must be many more situations where it applies, that I don't know of. Many of the situations where it was made harder to vote for specific groups.

I've little skill with photoshop, or I could make some for you. OTOH, would that be too much influence in your politics from a foreigner?

Twominds said...

About outside influence, I had a nice little fantasy when you held your midterms.

How would the world look like if citizens of country A could vote in country B according to the influence B had on A? That would help taking the interests of the powerless at heart! (Not only the US, we here would need a lot of quick education on our effect elsewhere.)

Just a flight of thought.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@donzelion:It really depends on whether the 'War Powers Resolution' is a resolution, or law.

I'm going to disagree here, but only because the War Powers Resolution itself spells out procedures for revoking an AUMF. The AUMF of 2001 rests its authority squarely on the War Powers Resolution, and so revoking it outside the WPR context makes no sense unless you are replacing the WPR itself.

@donzelion + Dr. Brin: Your add-ons are exactly what I want them to say next -- because if Voter ID blocks a Valid Voter, then Every Valid Vote is not being tallied. You must not fatigue or shortchange or tax either metaphorically or physically any Valid Voter. This extends even to the outrageous and capricious felon-reinstatement process that Florida just did away with -- the point was to make it too hard for due process to be a realistic option. Every Jim Crow trick ever devised was a way to deny a Valid Voter. And far from a digression, getting to pound that idea in at every opportunity -- while repeating the meme, repeating the meme, repeating the meme -- is exactly what we want in the discourse.

Several @Illithi:
1) On E. coli -- seconded and re-seconded. This is no joke, people.
2) On "The Real World" -- Bravo! Bravissimo! Encore!

The notion that those who confront the Real World are somehow better is ancient and pervasive. A Few Good Men is one of the best modern renderings on this question, where Jack Nicholson's Col. Jessup despises anyone who doesn't face the Real World, and believes his position at the borders of the Real World justifies immunity from criticism. Contrast to the Marines on trial, who realize at the end that they truly are guilty of conduct unbecoming because they didn't defend those who couldn't defend themselves.

Does that mean the defenseless are "dependent"? In one sense, yes. In another, if they contribute as much to civilization as even the least productive warrior, they are nothing of the sort -- they are symbiotic, mutually supporting, instead of the dragging boat anchor they are so frequently portrayed as.

As much as I admire Heinlein, the attitude that "Specialization is for insects" is neither proper nor accurate. Some people are polymaths and really can be jacks-of-all-trades, and the idiot savant that really can only do one thing exists as well. But most of us have good skills and bad skills; and by combining our efforts to each other's strengths -- rather than wasting talent as Feudalism, Communism, Fascism, and Bananaism all do -- we can achieve more than we ever could apart. Such a civilization outperforms one based solely on individual achievement; this has been demonstrated numerous times in history.

Even in Star Trek, outside the borders of the Federation lies the Real World; Starfleet is all about exploring and sometimes fighting so that the rest of the Federation can keep pushing back the Real World. That's what final frontier actually means.

Catfish N. Cod said...

On Bush II: I am somewhere between donzelion and Dr. Brin. I do think he sincerely tried to do his best... as he understood it. It's just that he was far enough inside the r'oil bubble of privilege that he didn't get the context needed to realize his family was part of the problem. (Remember, it took him three years and the actions of both Ashcroft and Comey for him to realize that Cheney was snookering him on interrogations.) In the end, he just wasn't sufficient to the tasks handed to him.

That's no excuse. And Pence is the same problem, cubed. He brings the environs of his evangelical milieu with him, the notion that the White House chaplain should be guiding policy decisions through Bible study. In this he brings the American executive closer than ever before to the regime of the Ayatollahs. I don't know if Dr. Brin is right about Pence actively seeking to bring about Armageddon; but I do know, right down to my toes, that he would saturate the government with theocracy and feel divinely justified in destroying every religious protection the Constitution provides.

@Twominds: Sadly that would count as a donation of labor.

locumranch said...

Even though David & Ilithi_D would never openly endorse oligarthic, aristocratic or minority-based authoritarian rule, both are anti-populists who self-describe as minority-partisan authoritarians.

David endorses authoritarian rule by what he calls the 'fact-using caste', a caste that represents <5% of the total US population, because he believes that this minority deserves to rule because 'expertism'.

Ilithi_D endorses authoritarian rule by a military (protector) caste, a caste that also represents <5% of the total US population, also because 'expertism', even though both he & David would laugh at the idea of authoritarian rule by the vanishingly small but equally expert agricultural or medical castes.

It therefore follows that "creating a civilization (that) frees more people from the base level of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs" is NOT enough.

As initially conceived, the US was created as a participatory democracy (a republic, actually) wherein only property-owning producers who had 'skin-in-the-game' were allowed to engage in collective rule.

Once-was, PARTICIPATION was our 'expertism' (which, btw, is why & wherefore of both the Second Amendment & the constitutional PROHIBITION against the 'expertism' of a standing military & a deep state bureaucratic caste).

Too bad, so bad, those times are long gone, and now both the US & EU are ruled by a minority-partisan expert class which claims to act in (and derive their supreme authority from) the 'best interests of' an infantilised, non-expert & non-participatory majority.

Yet, this too shall pass, as the top-down authoritarian structures endorsed by David & Ilithi_D rely upon the ongoing participation & consent of the increasingly spoiled, entitled & infantilised masses who (quite soon) will refuse to follow expert direction.


Alfred Differ said...

Something some of you might want to consider is the distinction between 'valid' and 'legitimate'. Should we be asking for every valid vote or every legitimate vote? Every valid voter or every legitimate voter?

Votes are validated by a legal process we are supposed to agree upon before the contest.
Voters are legitimized by a different process and upon being legitimized should be able to cast votes that can be successfully validated.

These distinctions are important. Legitimizing a voter is the purpose of a registration process. Validating a vote is the purpose of an ID law. What we should be demanding on moral grounds is a broad approach to legitimizing voters and a fair and rigorous process for validating their votes.

David Brin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dimonic said...

@locumranch you seem to be operating under some assumption about the meaning of some details of the language that I don't share.

Are you suggesting that land ownership is equal to participation?

David Brin said...

Given that he clearly does not care to read or understand what we say, nor ask questions, nor offer factual evidence, nor address our refutations... I am back in ignoring mode.

Larry Hart said...

Dominic Amann

@locumranch you seem to be operating under some assumption about the meaning of some details of the language that I don't share.

Loc uses words in his own thing, often adhering to a strict dictionary definition that no one else is using, other times to mean the exact opposite of what they mean.

Caveat emptor.

Alfred Differ said...

@Locumranch | I didn’t want to get in the way of Ilithi Dragon ‘splainin’ things to you. Far better to have someone doing the actual defending explain why they do it than to have the rest of us try to explain why they do. You brought up a point, though, that deserves a serious beat-down because it demonstrates a belief system that is less than human.

Why do you cripple, handicap & infantilise them so?

I get the argument against coddling people. Hover over a child too much and they fail to launch as an adult. I get it. However, if you don’t hover enough, they get eaten by wolves or fail to learn the social skills they need to launch as an adult. There is a middle ground where caring human beings help but avoid hindering.

Do you condemn others to utter dependency out of spite or because of your pathological need to be needed?

Human beings are social animals. We DO depend on each other for advantages, but not so much that our day-to-day lives depend on our neighbors. When someone successfully launches as an adult, they are able to care and feed themselves… most of the time. They want to care and feed themselves... most of the time. Still… they probably pair up and start families. Many of us do, though not all. We are both individuals AND members of a social organism… at the same time. Multiple levels of social organism can be found as well. Family, community, and nation. Hobby groups, employment groups, and identity groups.

Let my people grow.

Yes. Please. Get out of the way and let people be what they are. If you want to be more of an individual than a group member, go for it. Don’t piss on the people who want to go the other way, though. Most humans are social and go nuts without those close to them. Build your hermitorium and bark madly about how the rest of us are @#$%’d. Please stop all political activity, though. That’s for us. Hermits have no need of it.

Jerry Emanuelson said...

Catfish N. Cod said: As much as I admire Heinlein, the attitude that "Specialization is for insects" is neither proper nor accurate.

Wrong. Wrong. WRONG. This is a severe misreading of Heinlein.

Heinlein was specifically referring to a "competent man" and not an idiot savant. A society can have a preponderance of competent humans. That doesn't mean that they should not specialize in their everyday work.

Of course, specialization is the primary thing that makes mutually-profitable exchanges possible; and mutually-profitable exchanges are what makes positive-sum societies possible.

The most competent societies are those with lots and lots of individuals who are competent at a great many things. Without this generalized level of competence by most people, it is impossible for people to evaluate whether one has made a mutually-profitable exchange or simply exchanged your labor or wealth for the shoddy workmanship by another. This seems to be an extremely difficult, but vitally important, concept for most people to grasp.

Alfred Differ said...

Dominic Amann,

Land owners are people who have skin in the game in the sense Taleb described. If you own land, you are going to care a great deal about what nearby land owners do and say, thus you will participate. If you fail to participate, you are an absentee land owner which was a big deal back then. Still is today to some extent.

Land ownership is a proxy, though. If you have kids in a community, you are probably going to care about the local school system and be inclined to participate. If you have a job in a community or industry, you’ll probably care about what your ‘neighbors’ are doing even if they are somewhat abstracted and be inclined to participate.

What counts AS skin in the game matters a great deal when it comes to voting. A CEO with a juicy contract that pays handsomely when the company does well and modestly when the company fails will be motivated to have the company succeed, but they won’t have skin in the game unless they can actually lose something precious when that failure occurs. Losing a bonus isn’t the same as losing your personal wealth. In the case of voting, what perturbs some of us is the option for some to ‘vote themselves cake.’ It doesn’t matter if it is rich people voting for tax breaks or poor people voting for tax increases. The question to ask about the underlying ethics is what skin in the game each voter has.

David Brin said...

Of course it is possible to coddle or spoil kids. Ours elicit such grumbles from this old fart dad, from time to time. Still, with three black belts and two eagle scout badges, engineering abilities and trimly fit, I'd happily compare them to the output of the romantics' beloved feudalisms, which produced either broken serf-drudges or else lordlings who were the genuine article, spoiled, overprivileged brats. It is the confederacy that coddles plantation (and casino and carbon and inheritance) lords, while sucking down Big Macs.

David Brin said...

I'd be interested in what Alfred and other make of the radically different approach to property and the social contract in this fellow's book: ( It's an interesting proposal that has zero chance of implementation short of imposition by some cosmic AI.

But I may be on a panel with the authors, in February!

Alfred Differ said...

I'll have a look when I get home, but my usual response is that our current definitions have survived trial and error tests for countless generations and solved problems we aren't even aware of anymore. Replacing them wholesale with anything is likely to lead to trauma and death in the millions and I'm not trying to exaggerate.

Traditions = solutions to problems of which we might not be aware.
... and of course are the source of many more problems. Just like science answering some questions and uncovering a bazillion more.

I'll look, though.

Ilithi Dragon said...


You're strawmanning. Blatantly and painfully so.

When have I ever said anything about ruling, or who should be dominant?

Did you not note the specific language to which I referred to my job?

I serve. The men and women who stand next to me serve. It is the U.S. military service.

I specifically noted that I volunteered to be here, that others beside me all volunteered to be here, and I specifically noted that I volunteered to be here so that others would have the CHOICE to stand beside me, or do whatever else they will.

How is that authoritarian?

You, sir, are either failing to understand the simple words that I am saying...

Or you are deliberately and dishonestly misrepresenting and slandering myself (and others), which makes you a goddamn liar.

duncan cairncross said...

Radical Markets
$22 US for a Kindle book
My innate Scottishness has just rebelled - that is too much for an e-book

donzelion said...

Catfish: On Bush II: I am somewhere between donzelion and Dr. Brin. I do think he sincerely tried to do his best

IIRC, Dr. Brin thinks Bush I was the worst president of the 20th century, largely on account of his conduct in Gulf War I. I think he wasn't that bad, but vastly prefer his successor's approach to both domestic and international affairs.

I suspect the main difference between us is over the role of the Saudis in Bush I & II administrations: Dr. Brin read some reports, I fixed the problems (or tried to). There were a lot of them. Generally, the times major links become public tends to be when problems arise (e.g., Talal's stake in NewsCorp/Citibank, Sanea's stake in HSBC) - few talked about the arms sale to the Saudis until after Kashoggi (even though Obama worked hard to win that deal). When things go smoothly (as in Silicon Valley), the ties stay quiet, the money magically appears from somewhere for the next mezzanine tranche of finance - and the players stay hidden behind major investment houses.

Bear in mind that when Congress passed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 1977, a host of problems emerged for business as usual. The UK Bribery Act of 2011 passed for the same reasons. Same prince played same role in both cases (though in the FCPA story, you'll hear more about Japanese and Germans...). I cannot go much further into the details, but if you research both, you'll understand why the claims of close friendship aren't quite what they seem. Research Adnan Kashoggi while you're at it, and some of the dots will appear...but I will not connect them.

"I do think he [Bush II] sincerely tried to do his best..."
Agreed...I don't think he was intentionally vile. But he did teach Pence everything he knows about how to play religious politics.

Alfred Differ said...

Okay. I've read the chapter summaries and can offer comments. Obviously I haven't read the book or thought deep on it, but some of what the authors look at I HAVE read about and considered.

Property is Monopoly | Well... yah. That's sorta the point. Your property is yours to control and that system goes back to before we were human. Good luck altering it. That's only partially what they propose though. COST is essentially a wealth tax with a trick to discourage people from self-assessing the value of their property too low. Assess it low and one is forced to sell at that price if someone makes an offer. How this is enforced is not discussed in the summary, but my libertarian hackles came up.

The main problem with this (besides being a wealth tax) is that it flies in the face of what 'price' actually means. If I have a widget, I can assign a cash value to it, but I can't assign a price. Prices are agreed upon values between buyer and seller. Prices only exist at the moment of the exchange and come accompanied by a price range where the buyer and seller might have been willing to settle in an alt.universe. The so-called price upon which the tax is drawn isn't legitimate. That may not sound like a serious problem, but without legitimacy, we are likely to see compensatory behaviors. In other words, unintented consequences are likely to focus on the illegitimacy of the valuation system. I'm not sure what those would be (if I could, I'd invest accordingly), but I can see what the target would be. Maybe we'd enact rules about who could buy? Got citizenship papers? Maybe we'd expand zoning uses? I don't know. However, the fact that we are at least partially xenophobic would likely limit those who would be allowed to buy at the self-assessed price and that would lead to circling of wagons and a reduction of the threat of losing low assessed properties.

Interesting idea, but wealth taxes are tricky. Look at what happened in the recent financial meltdown. Wealth owners got slaughtered because property values dropped. They recovered later, but for a while, some of them lost half their wealth. That fact demonstrates what 'price' really means. It is a value that emerges when buyers and sellers are in equilibrium. If buyers go home as they do during bond market collapses, the assets become illiquid. There is NO price on such assets at that point. Even the last agreed upon price is meaningless. In the language of software developers, the price is assigned a null pointer. Ain't nothing there and that is the reality behind our markets. Want to base a tax system on something like that? Of course not. Pretending a self-assessed 'price' will work, though, is a misunderstanding of human nature. That's not a price. That is a different data type. Pretending they aren't is a type assignment error we should try to catch at compile time.

I'll comment on the other four shortly.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Duncan: then never get e-textbooks... what a racket.

@Dr. Brin: I’ll need to look more closely, but it does remind me of a throwaway idea in a different Heinlein story.

@Jerry: Sure a society with lots of highly competent people is great, but it’s also not very common. Americans come much closer than a lot of nations did, but there just is too much complexity out there now for it to be realistic. At best you can be competent at a sparse but diverse set of skills.

I love Heinlein dearly, but when he puts those words into the mouth of the most hypercompetent Marty Stu imaginable, it reads as a little less than reasonable.

@Alfred: This is a bit deeper than most memes are able to go, but you’re not wrong. I’m collapsing “legitimate voter” into “valid” for brevity, but it can be expanded again if you meet someone willing to actually have a reasonable discussion.

And @everyone: There’s no coddled and infantile group quite like an upper-class rural scion. At least in the cities they run into others of the same ilk. It’s so much easier to start thinking like a lord of the manor when you’re thinly spread out.

donzelion said...

Catfish: re War Powers - "the War Powers Resolution itself spells out procedures for revoking an AUMF."
It does - but it remains to be tested. I'm unaware of any time a court has actually balanced the WPR v. presidential action: every instance I'm aware of became nonjusticiable/unripe/moot. But that's just my bias, and I'm not really refuting or disputing you: I don't believe any law does what it claims to do until I see it tested and proven out through the ordinary legal processes. To my mind, the WPR is an interesting 'theory' - which the players in the Executive and Legislature work hard to avoid being tested. There's a pretty powerful constitutional argument that the resolution has never been good law, and a pretty right-leaning court...and of the four liberal judges on that court, Kagan is the only one whose health is consistent.

re voting: well, so long as the challenge is recognized and not left alone, I'm all for it. Orange County actually has an excellent registrar of voters (who implements many excellent California laws on this) - and automatic registration (with an opt-out option) gets us a pretty good distance toward where we'd need to be. Yet much of America looks at California as precisely what they must avoid becoming (esp. gerrymandering...California's solution of public transparency scares the bejeezus out of many of them).

locumranch said...

Are you suggesting that land ownership is equal to participation?

Alfred does a good job explaining things.

Citizenship implies ownership; ownership implies responsibilities; and responsibilities imply rights & privileges.

Property subject to shared public ownership is commonly referred to as 'The Commons'. It is subject to shared responsibilities, privileges & rights.

Privately owned property is reserved for individual use and, aside from license fees that many know as 'taxation', all responsibilities, rights & privileges that are associated with the privately owned accrue to the private owner.

The concept of participatory skin-in-the-game applies to more than just property.

Those (who do not 'own') do not risk and those (who do not risk) cannot 'own' related reward or privilege; those who do not sow cannot then reap; and those non-participants who do not have 'skin-on-the-game' cannot enrich themselves off someone else's game play.

This is the YUGE problem that brings us to where we are now, politically speaking, the unequal sharing of responsibility, risk & reward.

A Privileged Class is one that does not share public risk.

These 'privileged classes' include, but are not limited to, (1) those who attack others but are immune from retaliation, (2) the wealthy who force austerity upon the poor, (3) the poor who demand 'largesse' from private purses, (4) those non-combatants who are eager to send others to fight, bleed & die in their stead, and (5) the expert castes who insist that they 'serve others' when they compel others to do as they say.

And, finally, Ilithi_D argues that I have unfairly misrepresented his self-sacrifice & public service as authoritarianism.

I once thought this way myself. Described above as (5), this is also know as the Servant Master trope. "I serve," I said, "Those experts who stand with me also serve. We are all public servants".

Except for the small fact that we were authorities who gave commands as in "Take these pills" (said the cardiologist), "No talking" (said the librarian), "No smoking" (said the bus driver), "Pay what we say you owe" (said the IRS) and "Hands up & obey or I'll shoot" (said the police officer).

This results in the most oppressive of all authoritarian tyrannies, one sincerely exercised for the benefit of its unwilling victims.


The earnest expert says "I will serve & protect you". "No thank you & please don't," replies the civilian. "You must obey," replies the expert, "You cannot refuse because I am your Servant Master".

dimonic said...

I like the first idea the most, but they become weaker with each section. A lot of what we want would flow out of the first two ideas anyway.

Forcing antitrust is a weak solution, requiring good judgement and lack of bias.

Paying us for our data isn't going to happen, or even work. It would only stand a chance if we were willing to pay for all the digital service we suck up.

All of this is as much use as Das Capital.

Larry Hart said...

Ilithi Dragon to locumranch:

You, sir, are either failing to understand the simple words that I am saying...

Or you are deliberately and dishonestly misrepresenting and slandering myself (and others), which makes you a goddamn liar.

The two are not mutually exclusive. He can do both things.

David Brin said...

Skimming past, I noticed a lot of BOLDFACE!!!!!! Someone be our designated locum-reader and tell us if he says anything, ever, that follows the rules of sapience, honesty and basic decency I mentioned earlier... or if he tips into bona fide bannable trollery. Barring either extreme, I am sparing myself the ever-so-slight nausea, glancing down at an ankle-biter.



Howard Brazee said...

I agree with your description of Republican values about divorce and vice.

And I agree with your priority for the new Congress to:
1. Repeal the 2001 War Powers Resolution
I have this priority as well:
2. Create a new voters' Rights Bill. Voting needs to be encoded as a right - for *all* citizens.
And this priority which will not happen:
3. Have Congress have the same definitions of bribery for itself that the people have for it.