Saturday, March 16, 2019

Can Democratic Proposals Win Popular Support?

First, a literary note. A little late, I lift a glass (join me) to Janet Asimov, gifted healer and writer and fierce guardian of Isaac's legacy. Janet and Robin commissioned the Killer Bees (Bear, Benford & Brin) to write the Second Foundation Trilogy and I found her light but firm guidance invaluable in sorting through Isaac's loose plot threads. She kindly expressed happiness with that final result. A treasure, whose 91 years were filled with contributions to the species and the future.
== Another shooter who should be renamed ==
After every mass shooting folks ask again about my 1999 proposal on Salon to remove one of the killers' top incentives ... fame. Or infamy. In this case it was blatant. See my call for the "Erastratos Solution," seizing the perp's most-valued possession - his name - replacing it with "Doofus25" or "tinyprick17." There's no freedom of speech issue, since reference works and Wikipedia will still have footnotes. But any use of the original name in larger than 5pt type would be trademarked by a fund for victims. Let's try it; see if the scum howls! In comments below, offer and argue over your own proposed re-names for the New Zealand monsters. Let's vote. Then let's agree to spread the word.
== Can the democrats pull together a plan? ==

While Kremlin trolls and homegrown idiots try to incite strife within the Democratic Coalition (the "Union" side in this phase of the American Civil War), others are sensibly pointing to reasons why disagreements between left and center should be put off for a while, at least till they run out of areas of vigorous agreement!

It's not that they lack ideas. Moreover, since  both progress and flat-fair-competitive markets do vastly better during Democratic administrations, it is hilarious to watch their opponents -- a party of Kremlin shills -- hurl accusations of "communism!" By every factually supported metric, citizens should be taking torches to the shambling, undead shell of the party of Lincoln. And  yet, for all their vastly-better record at honesty, sincerity and policy smarts, DP pols seem utterly lobotomized when it comes to the art of judo-polemic.

And their priorities suck.  Nothing will be accomplished till politics return to negotiation over facts.

For example, while moderate old curmudgeons like Diane Feinstein demand "how you gonna pay for your Green New Deal?" they miss the point. Such proposals -- e.g. Medicare-For-All, or  Free College -- might rise or fall based on their factual merits, if facts themselves regained their importance at the negotiating table. The Putinist-GOP has made it their central goal to make American politics be about incantations and cheating. We've seen that the monsters and traitors won't lose power till those tricks are defeated. 

Hence top priority should go to:

1 - measures that restore Americans' ability to perceive and compare facts.

2 - measures to eliminate electoral cheating, e.g. as pushed by Lawrence Lessig.

3 - measures to resume the fight against climate change. Yes, former WA Governor Jay Inslee has cleverly focused his campaign on this, but it is still putting the cart before the horse.

Liberals, think. Not a single thing you want will happen without those coming first. And if those come first, you will get a lot of what you want.

Here's why. Because most of the public wants reform! Yet such numbers make no difference on the current playing field: 

"About 75 percent of Americans favor higher taxes for the ultra-wealthy. The idea of a federal law that would guarantee paid maternity leave attracts 67 percent support. Eighty-three percent favor strong net neutrality rules for broadband, and more than 60 percent want stronger privacy laws. Seventy-one percent think we should be able to buy drugs imported from Canada, and 92 percent want Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. The list goes on."

Read that important article by Tim Wu in the NYT. But there's more he doesn't mention. Large majorities favor the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They favor allowing student debt to be refinanced, just like mortgages. They favor ending gerrymandering (and blue state voters have been doing that, already, as it is blues who have been ending the $%%$$! Drug War, you libertarians take note.) 

And if you remind voters of other things the Greatest Generation instituted, like ant-trust laws and vigorous federal R&D, they tend to want those to. Oh, and again, ending the damned Drug War.

Prioritize, dammit! Jay Inslee has made #3 the centerpiece of his campaign for the Democratic nomination. But I am hoping and praying that at some point, someone seeking to stand out from the pack will realize the power of #1 and #2... the pair that are absolutely needed, before anything else can get done.  If you want help crafting #2, talk to Lawrence Lessig and let's all get behind bill HR1...  which won't stand a chance till we tackle issue #1.

There are ways to do that. Some 2nd tier DP candidate should talk to me. 

== The opposition: “socialist” tax rates? ==

Dialing in, polls show that 59 percent of U.S. voters agree with the just-elected 29-year-old Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (AOC) proposal for a 70 percent marginal tax rate on whatever the richest earn above $10 million. 

(Hey, moguls, you won’t have to pay it, if you actually invest in R&D or productive capacity or high velocity industry, the things you claimed Supply Side cuts would get you to do. Just finally do what you said you would, and there's no 70% marginal rate for you. Just as the fairest tax - the Inheritance Tax - is the tax that no one with a soul actually has to pay.)

Meanwhile, Senator Elizabeth Warren is talking about a wealth tax

And I have been demanding that Democrats restore the iconic status of the “Greatest Generation” and their wisdom seeking a flat-fair-open-competitive market, under leadership of their favorite living human, Franklin Roosevelt.  (And to her credit, AOC has tepidly begun this process, referring to FDR obliquely with her "Green New Deal." See below.)

But are the proposals on the table sensible? How can any program of re-uplifting the working poor and middle class accomplish anything when world mafias launder trillions of wealth through secret international back channels? 

== The ultimate weapon against mafias, worldwide ==

It won't surprise you that my own top proposal -- for the plant, not just the U.S. -- emphasizes transparency ... universal clarity of ownership.

See: Given the agility of money-movement, this would only work if an angry world citizenry demanded it as a worldwide treaty. (And in EARTH I portrayed a radicalized world citizenry demanding it.)

Essentially, it comes down to one sentence: "If you own something, say so." 

All right, a second sentence. All property that goes without claimants who are living humans or foundations must revert to public domain. 

Sure, there are complexities of proof and a myriad details. For one thing, it should be phased in, starting at the top, so poor farmers have time to get their paperwork in order, helped by reforms like Peru instituted so successfully, planned by Hernando de Soto Polar. (The perfect overlap of liberalism and sane libertarianism.) And yes, it will be a golden age for lawyers. So? The number of lawsuits will employ a quarter of the human population, solving AI driven unemployment! ;-)

Read about the implications, especially how it would immediately benefit you.

But the core point is this: none of the proposals on the table, like high marginal income tax rates or wealth taxes or universal income or capital, can possibly work without this. And then we get to the irony… that those measures will be largely unnecessary if we get transparency of ownership! Why? Because –

 -- there'd be so much abandoned property – dropped by cheaters like kleptocrats and drug lords and mafiosi -- that most government debt would likely be wiped out! Resulting in lower rates for honest taxpayers. No confiscatory wealth taxes needed.  

Find another proposal that promises that win-win. In essentially two sentences.


David Brin said...

See this:

My response: You jest? A few - e.g. Billy Graham and Barry Goldwater - grew up enough to admit "I was wrong about a lot of things." A few more, like this enabler-of-treason, avow "I've changed my mind about this." What you never see is admission of the long, full list of relentless wrongness. Cars don't cause smog! Tobacco is harmless! Reefer madness! It's GOOD that rivers catch fire! Lead paint is harmless and we NEED lead in gasoline! We can't replace the chloroflourocarbons killing the ozone! Labor unions are commie. Negroes can't learn to read and women can't do sports or lead a company or say 'no' and mean it. Oh, and supply side tax cuts will get the rich to invest in R&D and new factories and deficits will go down!

From racism/sexism/homophobia to climate change denialism and the recent open warfare against science and every fact profession, the chain of frenetic wrongness is appalling, as are men like this, who think that admitting one mistake erases them all.

The sad thing is that there IS a real case to be made for a flat-fair-open-competitive version of capitalism! A competitive-creative market is top enemy is cheater-oligarchy. Fair-competitive enterprise does better under democrats, and the economy boomed best under the Rooseveltean tax structure and social contract. These guys betray the very thing they claim to extoll.

Today bald eagles soar again, because we limited DDT. Folks fish along sweet riverbanks in downtown Pittsburgh, and every species of whale still exists, and the ozone has stabilized… all because we acted on warnings… and no communist hell descended. Dare we repeat it? No… communist… hell… descended. Though there was a plague of amnesia, as our rightist neighbors forget they were wrong about every single one of those things.

Oh, the "left" has its problems. You know I point them out!

But John Boehner and his neocon ilk paved the way for the Trumpist treason sellout to a Kremlin-led world mafia, which truly is advancing commie-hell upon us. And no, you don't get off by suddenly saying pot is okay. If you say so, I'll ponder abstinence.

progressbot said...

>> David Brin said...
\\Deuxglass please do not use sarcasm on a non-English-speaking native. Progressbot has been trying hard to do better.

You know damn well that I do not need such protection. Because I am from hardened in brawls with vatniks ukrainians, not from (removed to not harm anyone) ams. And anyway, there is that russian saying "from disputes Truth have birth".

And it seems he trying not only emanate some cheap sarcasm, but also have some thoughts behind it, some POV he trying to flare. Which behaviour appreciate much. ;) And would like to know more about it.

>> Deuxglass said...
Well... you throwed in your hook first -- your words "I say things to provoke discussion and exchange of ideas and yes, to have fun"?

\\Please let me apologize to you for my weak and feeble mind...

Why apologizing? It's problem for you, not for me. (or not a problem at all, if you are from kin of willfully ignorant... which are prevailing sub-specie among humans) Except if you trying hard to become stronger... with your mind. By keeping it inquiring.

\\...flaw in my example I propose that you furnish a better example and we can discuss that.

First of all... it's hard for me. What "example" you are talking? Among tons of pseudo-theological comments tossed back and forth, I just goodwillingly skimmed.

So. I'm ready to discuss, but what?

\\you would need to have a solid understanding of molecular biology

Well... it would be good incentive as for me, as for you... to train your ability to explain sci topics to a layman. ;)

\\I would had had to dumb it down too much so I went with the quantum example

It is not good idea. To try to explain with terms one isn't good with.

\\Could you elaborate on this statement please?

It was empty blabbering. And not wise though for sure. :) So, there is nothing to elaborate.

>> Bob Neinast said...
\\Because the particle traversed all paths. And all those paths added up in a special way, interfering with each other to create the probability distribution of the outcome.

It is "as if" it traversed all paths... because it only how we visualizing physical reality for better/simpler undertanding, not "as it is".

\\I'd say that if you cannot calculate it, you don't really understand it.

Here logical contradiction to you. How you can *understand* that your calculation is correct? ;) (is it enough, or need more elaborate explanation)

>> Mike Will said...
\\I'm always happy to encounter a fellow Leibnizian. Calculemus!

False positive, Mike, it's false positive. (sad)

\\I once had a good discussion about how something like Feynman diagrams might be applicable to psychohistory and the Prime Radiant.

Now they would use CT(category theory) for it. And all in vain.

>> CP said...

Great analysis!

Tony Fisk said...

It seems a prevalent meme on twitter not to name the perpetrators of the Christchurch massacre. Some noted that the Australian made an obscene gesture during his committal. Given his hand's location at the time, I have dubbed him "the White Wanker".

A gentleman, hereafter referred to as "Senator Egging" (this is why) reacted by blaming the violence on people emigrating. He claims his seat on the basis of 19 primary votes. He was third person on Pauline Hanson's One Nation ticket and got the job after Malcolm "climate change is a NASA plot and all that evidence Brian Cox is showing me is rigged" Roberts got booted for not being a One Citizen candidate. Possibly because this implies Roberts was a closet immigrant, Sen. Egging promptly declared his independence and is now trying to create a new conservative party. I wish him the very worst of luck.

Cortez is showing what a congress critter can do in committee when they're not spending all their time schmoozing for funding, and do their homework.

Tim Wolter said...

As the topic heading is whether Democratic proposals can win popular support I can weigh in. But perhaps the first question to ask is whether by popular support you mean D primary voters or general election voters. The latter category is where I am more likely to be found (a few open primary votes notwithstanding). I consider myself independent, conservative leaning.

A debate on which proposals will survive the primary process and be presented as a nation wide platform is better left to others.

Regards your three proposals I'd give a qualified yes, they are things I and others could support. The Devil of course resides at his usual PO box, the Details.

1. America's ability to perceive and compare facts. An uphill climb. Why just one line up from this point you are speaking of the Putinist GOP as if it is an accepted fact that Russian collusion is proven. I'm still very concerned about the FBI-DOJ involvement in our electoral process where "insurance policies" and assorted side channel contacts are not vaporous theory but pretty well documented. We are staring at different things. I turn my glance to your Shiny Object more often than the reciprocal action.

2. Electoral cheating. So long as you stay in the established framework - stop trying to eliminate the Electoral College for instance - then making sure everyone who is eligible to vote is able to seems fair. All Eligible Voters. Not a bad slogan.

3. Climate change. Start with the well named TWOTDA and build from that. Celebrate the fracking that has given us better burning fuels like natural gas. Be at least neutral to nukes long term. Admit that getting other major polluters around the world to comply will be difficult. Call the Green New Deal aspirational rather than practical.

I don't think Congressperson Cortez has done that great a job on her homework unless you think the premature release of a comical draft of the GND was a nifty strategic move. If so, kudos. Like all political neophytes, especially those a bit tipsy on media adulation, she makes rookie mistakes.



Daniel Duffy said...

You all must remember that even though the majority of Americans (including a majority of Trump supporters) are in favor of these economic reforms, Trumps voters were never motivated by economic concerns. They were motivated by social, gender and racial fears and resentments as America becomes more brown, more secular and more gay friendly:

After the 2016 election, one explanation regularly emerged — support for Trump was a reflection of economic anxiety among voters. Never mind that Clinton won overwhelmingly among poor and working voters of color, or that post-election autopsies have found that cultural displacement and resentment were driving factors in support for Trump — the theme of economic dislocation took on a life of its own.

According to a new study published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” this myth has once again been deflated.

The study’s lead researcher, Dr. Diana Mutz, looked at survey data from 2012 and 2016 and found what motivated white, Christian, and male voters to support a dishonest, racist, misogynistic demagogue had little to do with economic concerns. The far bigger factor was “loss of status.”

That loss was felt at both a domestic and foreign policy level. “White Americans’ declining numerical dominance in the United States, together with the rising status of African-Americans and American insecurity about whether the United States is still the dominant global economic superpower,” writes Mutz, “combined to prompt a classic defensive reaction among members of dominant groups.”

According to Mutz, white Americans felt “under siege by these engines of change.”

Mutz found little to no evidence that a decline in income, loss of a job, or concerns over a worsening “personal financial situation” drove voter preference. Rising unemployment or a drop in manufacturing jobs in the area where someone lived wasn’t much of a factor either. In fact, “living in an area with a high median income” was a far more important predictor of a vote for Trump. This is precisely the opposite of what one might expect for an election allegedly decided by “economic anxiety.”

Daniel Duffy said...


People motivated by such fears don't care about facts, reality or crossing the aisle in compromise. They will stay with Trump - who expressed their fears and made it OK to be openly bigoted - until they die.

Ironically, the average Trump supporter tend to be much older. The average age of a Trump voter was about 10 or 11 years older than the average Clinton voter. The Republican base (older, whiter, more religious, higher % married) is shrinking as its population ages, while the Democratic base (non-white, younger, more religiously unaffiliated) is growing.

It really is only a matter of time before the republican party nationally goes the way of the GOP in California - becoming smaller and more extreme with each election cycle as their numbers dwindle leaving a diamond hard core base.

What does that mean for the future of American politics?

Demographics will ensure a Democratic lock on the electoral college and the presidency (even without the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact which effectively neuters the Electoral Collage), with even Texas turning blue by 2024.

However, there are more empty and economically dying Red rural states than affluent, urban and cosmopolitan Blue states. And whether its Wyoming or California every state gets 2 senators. And while certain mountain states like Nevada and Colorado are now blue, it will be a long time before the majority of states are no longer Red.

That gives the GOP control of the senate and potential veto of judicial appointments. And it also explains why McConnell is pushing through a massive number of judges without proper vetting. He knows what is coming, and wants a right-wing judiciary that will last generation or two even as the GOP declines further.

However, the Democratically controlled House can use the power of the purse to pressure the Senate ("You want that freeway bypass outside Boise Senator? The you will vote for the president's SC nominee.").

Given how dirty the GOP has been playing the game, a fully expect the Democrats to retaliate using the GOP's own tactics against them. How about packing the Supreme Court with another 13 liberal members? Or declaring National Emergencies concerning drug prices, global warming, gun control, etc.

And as they feel more powerless, as they watch the country that used to be theirs become more brown and less traditionally Christian, many Trump voters will turn violent - with dozens acting like Timothy McVeigh or the NZ shooter.

Daniel Duffy said...

But why is this racially driven divide happening now? What was the trigger? Not economics. The average Trump voter was middle class. So what is fueling political extremism on the right?

It's climate change.

"One of these other factors was drought. In fact, the drought in that region — it started in 2006 — has been described as the "worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilization began in the Fertile Crescent many millennia ago." Because of this drought, many rural Syrians could no longer support themselves. Between 2006 and 2009, an estimated 1.5 million Syrians — many of them agricultural workers and farmers — moved into the country's major cities. With this sudden mixing of different social groups in a country where classes and religious sects were already at odds with one another, tensions rose, and the increased economic instability encouraged chaos. Again, the drought didn't cause the civil war — but it sure as hell helped it along."

"The ensuing flood of refugees to Europe is already a well-known story. The immigration crisis was used as a talking point in the Brexit movement to encourage Britain to leave the EU. Authoritarian or extreme-right governments and political parties have sprung up in France, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Slovenia, and other European countries, all of which have capitalized on fears of the immigration crisis."

And this is just a taste of what is to come. 1 million refugees went from Syria to Europe in 2013 and started the domino effect described above. If global warming hits 4 degrees C, the world may see 100 million climate refugees heading to Europe and North America.

Those Guatemalans heading north in those 'caravans" would be just a start.

“The main reason people are moving is because they don’t have anything to eat. This has a strong link to climate change – we are seeing tremendous climate instability that is radically changing food security in the region.” Migrants don’t often specifically mention “climate change” as a motivating factor for leaving because the concept is so abstract and long-term, Albro said. But people in the region who depend on small farms are painfully aware of changes to weather patterns that can ruin crops and decimate incomes...Since around 2012, coffee plants across Central America have been ravaged by an epidemic called leaf rust, which according to some estimates has affected 70% of farms. Normally, the fungus dies when temperatures drop in the evening but warmer nights are allowing it to thrive, said Sam Dupre, a researcher at the University of Maryland Baltimore County."

Treebeard said...

I love people who spin grand theories to explain everything, including the arc of history going backward and forward. We've been hearing this kind of thing for centuries, and it's never right. News flash: psychohistory is pure fantasy. The world will forever surprise us. Humans are not spheroids obeying simple physical laws; they have something called minds that science has zero understanding of, and they interact in highly nonlinear ways that no one can model. So the great challenge for enlightenment cult scientists is to develop some humility when dealing with human beings, as individuals and collectives. Or you can just try to replace us all with robots so the world will better conform to your models. Some people say the irrational, romantic mind is the great danger to humanity, but I think it' the instrumental reasoning mind that is the much greater danger, for reasons I just alluded to.

Daniel Duffy said...
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Daniel Duffy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daniel Duffy said...

Human nature never changes, and it ain't that hard to understand. History does repeat itself and demographics really are destiny.

The European reaction to Syrian refugees fleeing the drought and civil war was no different than the Roman reaction to Gothic refugees fleeing the Huns.

It did not end well for the Romans who deserved their crushing defeat at Adrianople as just punishment for their cruel mistreatment of the Goths instead of welcoming them as citizens and allies (feoderati).

Treebeard, you and your kind will go down like the Romans unless you:

a. Prevent the mass migration from the lower latitudes by stopping global warming, or
b. Welcome them with decency as fellow human beings

Treebeard said...

Yeah I see you posting these grand proclamations about how things will inevitably be, and I just laugh. We are not helpless victims of history, and there are never only two choices. I confess I haven't read Foundation (I got about 15 pages in and got bored), but from what I gather, the Mule is the hero of the story, in that he brought an element of unpredictability, free will and chaos into the orderly galactic empire and disrupted the tidy models of the arrogant psychohistorians. Sounds like a parable of our times to me.

George Carty said...

Daniel Duffy: The European reaction to Syrian refugees fleeing the drought and civil war was no different than the Roman reaction to Gothic refugees fleeing the Huns.

The parallels are even closer given that the root cause of the westward "barbarian" migrations that toppled the Roman Empire was (natural) climate change: specifically the drying of the climate of Central Asia.

Treebeard said...

Daniel, I imagine some highly educated, rational experts in Rome and Persia thought they had the future of their empires all mapped out too. Then Jesus and Muhammad showed up...

Tim Wolter said...

Of course the late Roman Empire was torn apart by civil wars. This era of history is fairly tough slogging even for we Roman History buffs but more or less it comes down to a lack of respect for the established means of succession (the Tetrarchy sure broke down quickly) and flat out nepotism by the incompetent. By the time the assorted offspring of Constantine had killed each other off the Empire lay in ruins.

Strong arguments for respecting institutions and shunning dynasties. Oh, the Antonines were pretty good but only up until Marcus Aurelius insisted on putting his nasty son in the line of succession.


David Brin said...

Treebeard has retreated into nihilism. Nothing matters or can be proved, or is objective... all is subjective! And while his recent postings are much improved in syntax and clarity, and even say some true things, they boil down to "I know my side has nuthin' and is a pack of raging-nostalgia junkies who do harm with every spasm... but... but you fact folks are crazy to believe in "facts"! And you in't gonna save the world."

Well, not till we get past you sobbing, ankle-grabbing nihilists.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Further evidence that Dr Brin is correct about the amount of wealth that is "secret" and almost certainly illegitimate

yana said...

(previously) CP thought:

"What matters is standing crop, not the amount of carbon extracted on a year-to-year basis."

I agree with everything you said. We are taking carbon out of the ground, at the same time we're roping it into a faster tilt-a-whirl carbon cycle, to feed our burgeoning selves. More trees is the answer to so many of the dumb things we've been doing before we knew better. Things are getting better. Much less of forestry today, is the clear-cut which incensed ecofolks last century.

The idea which is emerging, is that forestland which is regularly culled is more active biologically at ground level, and less prone to fire! Managed forest grabs more than twice the CO2 as old growth, and sequesters just the same. Young trees and faster-growing plants inbetween, as someone else here said: we only have to sequester a finite amount of CO2 today, and only for a century, to avoid the real serious ramifications of our early energy choices.

Flip the idea over to agriculture, and cropland is optimal for us and our biowhat when it is sprinkled with trees. You get birds dropping phosphorus all over the place, grab more CO2 out of the air than forest alone, and make more jobs because machine harvesting is not as efficient in a mixed-use landscape. Megafarm Corps really need a homogenized landscape to maximize stockholder value.

Not saying that the cycle is vicious or happy, but when faced with higher winds due to more weight in the air via burning stuff, land optimized for mechanical harvest will lose more topsoil. Which ends up in the sea, which spurs phytoplankton and leads to 2 results: more seafood production and more phosphorus in the ocean.

As we creep up towards 10 billion, processing seawater will become more desirable. Seawater is 1 part per 10 million phosphorus already, and we've barely started putting more in there. Eventually, someone in a desert country will invent a way to divert phosphorus during desalinization, and then we can get up to the earth's true carrying capacity, 18 billion people.

yana said...

(previously) Deuxglass thought:

"Could you elaborate on this statement please? I would appreciate it if you could.
“Pascal's Wager is a false duality. It's not either-or, but a pole with a certainty on one end and a binary possibility on the other.”
Thanks again.

Even in Pascal's original logic, it was never a duality. It sounds like one,

A - god exists, or

B - god does not exist

The premise, however, is not a quest for sophic truth, but the potential for punishment. At first glance, there is one pole with a certainty (god does not exist) and another pole with a binary (god does exist and you choose the right one, or god does exist and you choose the wrong one). There's the recursion, which at first glance would collapse the punishment of the original wager back down to a duality.

But, and it's a big but, the poles are reversed. The certainty and the binary are actually on the other ends of the pole. On the 'does exist' end, we find not the binary, but the certainty. For convenience, call it faith. On the other end, there is not the certainty that god does not exist, but an utter logical acceptance that a god or gods could wink into existence at any moment. Just as likely, any currently existing god or gods have a non-zero chance of winking out of existence, at any time, for seemingly no reason.

Yet still, there's the recursion again, making a three-node system look like a duality, which we know can not exist in a universe with 3 physical dimensions. Pascal's Wager loses the lustre of cozy fuzzy comforting duality, because any current non-existence of god does not eliminate the possibility of a future god. Science to the rescue, again.

Larry Hart said...

Arguments in favor of Pascal's Wager seem to ignore the effects of one's choices in the actual life here on earth, which is ironic given that the probabilities of suffering or satisfaction in actual life is much less theoretical than those of a possible afterlife about which we have zero evidence except for stories.

Larry Hart said...

@Treebeard on the Mule,

You don't help your case by trying to spin details of a novel you haven't read. The Mule does to free will what Hitler did to Poland.

yana said...

(previously) David Brin thought:

"In roughly 100 million years the inner edge of Earth’s Goldilocks Zone will expand to a point where any CO2 at all will commence a wet greenhouse runaway. Sorry."

Plants of all stripes seem to really like that CO2 stuff, so we'd better try to atmoform ousrselves some allowance there.

But 100 million years away? We are losing the Moon by an inch every year. 100,000,000 inches seems like tidal forces decrease quite a bit between now and then, and that makes lots of life untenable.

We have to get off this rock, as soon as possible because we're in a cosmic shooting gallery. If we don't do it, in a hundred million years, then the motionless boiling oceans should at least produce some of the galaxy's finest poetry.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Yana that is about 1500 miles - Or 0.7 % further away
NOT going to change the tidal effect much

yana said...

Duncan Cairncross thought:

"0.7 % ... NOT going to change the tidal effect much"

People used to say that +0.7ยบ C would not change the climate much, and now look at the ridiculously powerful stoms running over Mozambique and Alabama.

yana said...

David Brin thought:

"those measures will be largely unnecessary if we get transparency of ownership"

That's a cutely Solomonic solution, love it. But enforcement would rapidly bifurcate the world, we'd readily know who are the mafia enforcers, and who are the vast underworld of complicity. I may have understated, by using the small word 'vast'.

Your aim is true, but publishing the owner "of record" as a partner of a law firm would be perfectly legal today, the internal arrangements would be protected confidentialities, and let's just say that moral issues are subordinate to legal issues in the practice of law, universally across the world.

I like your proposal, but it cuts across everything that lawyers stand for: the freedom to hire someone to handle your biz for you. Godspeed to ya, but moving this idea forward requires a sudden moral awakening among lawyers, who are the farm team for legislators. Yep, godspeed.

Alfred Differ said...

Well... Don't forget that the Sun causes tides too. That bright thing in the sky isn't going away any time soon. 8)

Alfred Differ said...


The Mule does to free will what Hitler did to Poland.

There is free will in that storyline? It seemed so in the beginning. Near the end I wasn't so sure. 8)

Anyway... he's just trolling us. He remembers how we make use of the Mule character for political purposes. His words make more sense from that context that from the novels.

Alfred Differ said...

Sorry I missed out on the QM discussion from last time. Woulda been fun. 8)

The main thing is to avoid stating as a possible truth something you cannot know because you do not measure. For example, there are no preferred paths. There are no actual paths. Even the notion of 'path' implies things you will not measure... so just avoid it. How could you possible test it anyway?

Stick to what you know from observations and avoid theorizing about what isn't observed. Tricky, so if you add that stuff to your theories, remember that YOU added it. YOU may have created hidden variables which the universe does not use.

What do you actually know in a double slit experiment run many times? One slit open = diffraction pattern. Two slits open = interference pattern imposed on two diffraction patterns? Try it. Two slits widely separated and two slits narrowly separated. There is nothing like seeing it yourself. The waves are the stuff added in, though, no matter what is described by the wave.

yana said...

But it'll incinerate us, so what's a geophile to do? The popmedia keep pointing to a slice of future billions of years hence, when the sun actually sets the earth on fire, as the date for "the end". We should know better.

Long before tendrils of the sun lick our boots, before the lost Moon quiets the waters and riles up the sky, our home is going to be smacked real hard by a big rock traveling at rocket speeds.

We have to get off the earth. The Moon is easy, let's go there first and fnuckall whether there's any traffickable resources there or not, We have to get off this rock, before anything else in scii dreams becomes possible.

Alfred Differ said...

We got out of Africa, Asia, and a number of small islands the same way we will get off the Earth. I don't mean walking or building boats or any particular tech. We will do it by being the humans we already are. The tools for building the tools already exist.

It's not about marketable resources. It's about being human communities from here, there, and everywhere else. We trade with each other, so that WILL happen, but we usually don't just run off somewhere with no intent of returning. We traffic ourselves as much as anything else, so our markets must go too.

We will likely find the rocks out there and map them. We will probably learn to shade the Earth a bit too. We will want those powers long before the sun warms up too much more.

progressbot said...

>> Tim Wolter said...

I can answer your questions, about "Russian collusion is proven", can I?

It's not about plausible deniability or presumption of innocence,
it's more about how do you like your country become more "RFia's wild capitalism" style?

With default (Putin came to power after wave of after-1998), with crowd hungry for "strong hand" (after civil-war-like Chechnia War), with rise in power of the Media which become aware of its grip on minds of the masses, which rising oil prices and oil and gas companies become hard stones in the pavement of petrocracy.

Which lead to rising pseudo-nazi-fascists political ideology, rediculing of liberals, "short winning wars", et cetera, et cetera.

You think it is not and will not be about *your* country?
So you can indulge in rights support all you want? Well, it can be a trap.

And you know what is the worse here? Placing too much support into lefts... is as much as harmfull, if not more, indeed. :(

>> Treebeard said...
\\News flash: psychohistory is pure fantasy.

Big news to you, people here know it themselves. (well, I hope it so)

\\The world will forever surprise us. Humans are not spheroids obeying simple physical laws;

If you'd know physics yourself, you'd know that being spheroid is the best first call to being unpredictable. Look at billiard. ;)

\\they have something called minds that science has zero understanding of

Don't brag about *your* ignorance *so* proudly, can you?

\\and they interact in highly nonlinear ways that no one can model.

Sigh. At least you know words like "nonlinear". :)

//So the great challenge for enlightenment cult scientists is to develop some humility when dealing with human beings, as individuals and collectives. Or you can just try to replace us all with robots so the world will better conform to your models. Some people say the irrational, romantic mind is the great danger to humanity, but I think it' the instrumental reasoning mind that is the much greater danger, for reasons I just alluded to.

So what? How you propose to deal with that "da-a-anger"? :P

>> yana said...
\\The Moon is easy... We have to get off this rock, before anything else in scii dreams becomes possible.

Yana, do you understand, that it's road available only to handfull of people, or even bunch of embrios in cryo? So *why* other 8 billions should bother about your and your kin problems?
You wanna Moon -- Ok, collect money and send anything you want to it. :)

Well, and yeah... thank you for showing your twisted way of thinking so shamlessly blunt/blatant. It explains a lot.

It's not easy to except -- but you are exact example of that "great danger" TiBi talking about.

"Cauliflower is nothing but cabbadge... with colledge education" (c) Samuel Clemens

>> Larry Hart said...
\\Mule does to free will what Hitler did to Poland.

Conquered it with tanks? Is it some joke? Or some hi grade ams-like metaphora?

>> Alfred Differ said...

Here is The Problem. What you said, sounds arcane and could be understood only by that of others who already know about what you are talking about.
That who prefer to describe QM with own free metaphoras, will not listen for you, and surly will stay that way.

It's the same as with politics.

And about your pro-Moon speach... there is saying "that who born crawling, will not fly".

>> Daniel Duffy said...

Kudos for you. For your information.

Alfred Differ said...


I don't mind if people want to make up their own erroneous metaphors for QM. The world will get along well enough. If one wants to learn something, though, it is important to pay attention to the philosophy underlying QM. It's not a difficult philosophy even if the mathematics is beyond many people. It really boils down to this. Don't insert unknowables in your theory upon which your models rely unless you have a good way to remove them from testable results predictions.

For example, the notion of a wave function for an electron in a hydrogen atom is usually interpreted as a probability density. It works very well, but the interpretation has a built-in unknowable. If I try to detect the electron in the atom (through a collision that likely breaks the bond) I really only detect where the electron was in a small volume and I do it once. How exactly are we supposed to build a probability density from that? It's made worse when we aren't certain what energy state the electron was in because there are different wave functions for each. What we actually CAN know is way less than the model assumes in order to enable our calculation.

I make similar points when people argue politics except I don't expect an underlying requirement for non-determinism. Maybe it's there too, but I don't know and have no intuitive feel for it. What I DO expect is for the problems of interest to have a huge number of dimensions to them if we try to account for all the variable switches, knobs, and dials available to people mixed up in the problems. My suspicion is the solution spaces might be fractal too, but I'm not sure how we would actually know. That suggests to me that everyone who thinks they really know more than the local solution space 'ball' near them is deluded, but I'll listen anyway in case people find useful heuristics. Sometimes we do... I think.

As for the Moon, I'm not really a pro-Moon guy. Some of my friends are, but they are generally for letting market forces determine who is right or wrong. That means I don't have to worry about them being right or wrong. Our markets will figure it out far better and faster than I can. So... I'm a pro-market guy when it comes to Earth life moving off-world. Markets are evolutionary when does freely and Mother Earth can do that rather easily with a little help from a brainy primate.

progressbot said...

>> Alfred Differ said...
\\Don't insert unknowables in your theory upon which your models rely unless you have a good way to remove them from testable results predictions.

Actually, it's Newtonean "Hypotheses non fingo". And even older, as that Razor. ;)

\\ is important to pay attention to the philosophy underlying QM.

There is only one "philosophy underlying QM" -- that there *no* philosophy underlying QM. It's just Relity as it is.
Any pretense of being one -- it's plain old crankery. :))

\\If I try to detect the electron in the atom (through a collision that likely breaks the bond) I really only detect where the electron was in a small volume and I do it once.

Can you give referance to some papers on that?
Because, I (strongly, I emphase it) do not want to pretend that my competence is bigger than it is, but I doubt it very much that such experiment have any meaning.
Even in LHC (or excactly in LHC).

\\What I DO expect is for the problems of interest to have a huge number of dimensions

Well... it's just non-linear. By obvious reason.

Imagine people playing a game. Chess... or poker, rulet, etc.
As far as all people start and play with the same premises... it's one state of the situation.
But people like to win, and so, someone would try to devise some (all)winning stratagy. Let's assume he really found one. And start to have win after win (that's what our host keep calling "cheating"). That another situation. Situation S' as like to write it mathematicians. ;)
But other people would not like to lose and lose. So, they either adapt that winning stratagy... or just kill that nasty winner. And that'll made it situation S''.
Someone like to talk that S and S'' are just the same. But I think you are smart enough to see it yourself, that its differ. ;)

That is the "game of politics" fer u.

\\Our markets will figure it out far better and faster than I can. So... I'm a pro-market guy...

So it was marketing decision? Of that Kennedy of Kennedies. To out-fly soviets in race to the Moon? ;)

Larry Hart said...


>> Larry Hart said...
\\Mule does to free will what Hitler did to Poland.

Conquered it with tanks? Is it some joke? Or some hi grade ams-like metaphora?

Well, "conquered it" alone does pretty much cover what I meant.

The exact wording of my statement was an oblique reference to a line from a Mel Brooks movie, To Be Or Not To Be in which a Brook's playwright character is disguised as a dead Nazi spy. Another Nazi officer, not knowing of the deception, says to the disguised Brooks, talking about the playwright himself, "What he does to Shakespeare, we did to Poland."

I didn't actually expect anyone (possibly locumranch) to pick up on the reference, but I thought the meaning was clear anyway.

Howard Brazee said...

I don't think those are sufficient. There were sufficient numbers of people who voted for Trump because they believe Washington has been bought and paid for by Big Money. Trump said he was to rich to be bought off, and they wanted to believe his lie.

The system requires lots and lots of money and what the voters call bribes is corrupting.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

"The Mule does to free will what Hitler did to Poland."

There is free will in that storyline? It seemed so in the beginning. Near the end I wasn't so sure. 8)

First of all, I had no idea that comment would be so popular or controversial.

Second, when you say "near the end", do you mean of the original trilogy, or of the extended series of novels that came 30-40 years later? Assuming you mean the original trilogy, sure there was free will. The fact that psychohistory can predict outcomes doesn't change that fact, unless you'd like to revive arguments about whether God saying "I knew you were going to do that" after everything invalidates free will.

If you mean that the Second Foundation manipulated outcomes behind the scenes, well their goal was to make the First Foundation confident enough to act on their own rather than complacently expecting the Second Foundation to always rescue them. So to the extent that they were manipulated, they were manipulated to exercise free will rather than not to.

Anyway... he's just trolling us. He remembers how we make use of the Mule character for political purposes. His words make more sense from that context that from the novels.

I know that. That was the point of my response. It doesn't make for a clever response when the interpretation of a character is so diametrically opposite of the actual story. I mean, I can see The Mule as having acted on his own free will, but by virtue of his powers, he eliminates free will from everyone else.

BTW, that's exactly why I think of The Mule in relation to Benedict Donald. When everyone in his own party who opposes him--Ted Cruz, Lindsay Graham, Jeff Flake, etc--turns into a fawning sycophant with little outward explanation for the change, it reminds me of the Warlord of Kalgan and Captain Han Pritcher.

Larry Hart said...

Howard Brazee:

There were sufficient numbers of people who voted for Trump because they believe Washington has been bought and paid for by Big Money. Trump said he was to rich to be bought off, and they wanted to believe his lie.

And yet, it's been painfully obvious for two years that Trump is more corrupt than anyone. If those voters who claimed to support him for the reason you state were leaving him in disgust, I would agree with you. The fact that his base remains his base demonstrates that there's a different reason they actually support him.

Andy said...

David, I'll again mention presidential candidate Andrew Yang, running as a Democrat. Several of his proposals are identical to ones you've been pushing on this blog for years, making me wonder if he reads this! One of his policies is a News and Information Ombudsman to combat fake news and agree on a shared set of facts. He also supports Lessig's idea for public campaign financing - $100 per year in "Democracy Dollars" that citizens can donate to candidates, to counterbalance all the Super PAC money.

He's a 44 year old Asian American entrepreneur. For the past 7 years he's been CEO of Venture for America, a nonprofit that helps people start businesses in cities around the country. One day he realized that the thousands of jobs he's helped create was like pouring water into a bathtub with a giant hole in the bottom. This is because millions of jobs had already been lost and were going to be lost in the future because of technology, automation, and AI.

He contends that Trump won as a direct result of job losses due to automation in Midwest swing states. These have led to feelings of desperation and depression as the unemployed cast about for help. Suicide and drug overdoses are at record highs. Andrew is married with 2 kids, and wants a brighter future for them than this.

Accordingly, his main plank is a $1k/month UBI that he calls the "Freedom Dividend", as our share of being part of the richest/most advanced nation on Earth. Yang proposes this as a first step to combating these job losses the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness they generate. He points out this will foster an attitude of abundance, rather than scarcity. It will give people breathing room to go to university or a trade school, pay off debts, switch to a better job, get those car repairs done. It will also create a "trickle up" economy, as the vast majority will immediately spend that money and stimulate the economy. A UBI was recommended by Thomas Paine, as well as by Milton Friedman and MLK Jr. Conservatives should like it because it gives the decision of what to spend money on to individual people, not the government. Alaska has had a UBI for decades from a tax on oil. Yang argues that the "oil" of the 21st century is technology, automation, and AI, and proposes a value added tax on tech companies to pay for the Freedom Dividend.

Yang is very numbers and data driven. He's calm, logical, personable, young but not too young. Most importantly he understands technology and the huge changes it will cause. He talks a lot about the 2.5 million trucking jobs that will be automated away in 6-10 years. These are things I've been reading and thinking about for a long time, so it is refreshing to hear a candidate address them head on. I was a little worried about his ability to inspire passion, as I had only heard interviews, where he was focused on logic and reason. But I found a speech he gave in Iowa, and while he's no Obama, I was mostly reassured.

He has over 75 fairly detailed policy proposals on his website, and some made me think he reads this blog! David, here are some I've seen you repeatedly promote:
-A News and Information Ombudsman to combat fake news and agree on a shared set of facts
-Provide basic banking services through the post office
-A 0.1% financial transaction tax to combat rampant speculation
-Bounties for traders who report illegal algorithmic manipulation of the market and fraud
-Lawrence Lessig's proposal of $100 per citizen to donate to political campaigns
-Green cards for foreign students who graduate here so that they stick around

Andy said...

Artificial Intelligence and other new technologies have the potential to change our economy and society in unpredictable ways. Even techies don’t know what’s going to happen. We need to have government hand-in-hand with technologists to make sure that we fully understand the impact of AI and other innovations before they’re widely adopted in different settings—which means recruiting some of the smartest technologists to work in government and having government actively consulting with innovators.

As President, I will…

// Create a new executive department – the Department of Technology – to work with private industry and Congressional leaders to monitor technological developments, assess risks, and create new guidance. The new Department would be based in Silicon Valley and would initially be focused on Artificial Intelligence.

// Create a new Cabinet-level position of Secretary of Technology who will be tasked with leading the new Department.

// Create a public-private partnership between leading tech firms and experts within government to identify emerging threats and suggest ways to mitigate those threats while maximizing the benefit of technological innovation to society.

sociotard said...

Evidently December brought us another asteroid hit, over the Bering Sea. It was smaller than the Chelyabinsk one, but still huge in equivalent TNT. It just struck me again how huge the world is; We had a nuke-scale explosion, and barely noticed.

Darrell E said...

Quite huge on a human scale, quite tiny on a cosmic catastrophe scale.

David Brin said...

Andy thanks for the info on Yang. Saw him on The Daily Show. We need a preferential ballot for the DP primaries.

yana: “I like your proposal, but it cuts across everything that lawyers stand fo”

You miss the point. Requiring “I own that!” would keep lawyers employed on competing claims for 30 years.

Re free will in the Asimov cosmology, Isaac granted it to the court eunuchs (robots) in his Chinese style (not Roman) empire. The locus of “agency” kept shifting from statistical mechanics of quadrillions of gas molecule people to a Second Foundation of mentallic elites (which spawned the Mule), to robots. And I had to explain why humanity was never self- aware about any of these processes. Hence “chaos.” Which logically brought the narrative around full circle in Foundation’s Triumph.

Progressbot, I have asked you to please limit your huge postings. You are behaving better, but the missives are so long that I am back to skimming. Some of your comments are interesting! But you do not need to comment on everything.

David Brin said...

Tim W. Direct 'collusion' is very very hard to prove, when little is needed more than a narrow comms channel (see below). Such a double standard. When has “proof beyond all doubt” ever been applied to the Clintons by right wing screechers? A little connecting yarn on someone’s paranoia wall was always enough, despite 25 years and half a billion dollars of “investigations that nailed no one for anything at all.

In contrast, the umbra of collusion surrounding the GOP-Putin cabal is a tsunami. Countless PROVED cases of obstruction of justice. A dozen secret-private meetings with communist or “ex” communist dictators without a single US official present. Proved Russian meddling in nearly all western elections from Brexit and the US to Hungary and Poland. Relentless actions to crash the American social contract, send disparities skyrocketing, destroy US science and undermine all fact professions.

Oh, and utter determination to prevent us from looking at Trump’s and McConnell’s finances that might prove collusion.

What… do… you… need? Okay, okay I admit it -- someone MIGHT have painted orange balls on Brazilian fighter bombers and attacked Pearl Harbor, framing the poor Japanese. There’s no proof!

David Brin said...

And it gets specific, in the open. “Rep. Steve King posts meme warning that red states have ‘8 trillion bullets’ in event of civil war.”
They better strike hard and fast, because smart people who actually know stuff have the advantage over time.

Andy said...

What if it was more of a country vs urban war instead of north vs south? How long would cities last as far as supplies?

David Brin said...

Andy, it's not so simple. California feeds 1/4 of the nation. And it could force a 50 year transition to urban farming down to just three.

But that's not the divide. If the military officer corps stays loyal, what about the noncoms, who have a tendency to be southern? The Air Force has been targeted for subornation by radical fundamentalist groups while the Navy is volcanically loyal. Whence the Army/Marines and National Guard? The latter may be especially iffy.

See TEARS OF ABRAHAM by Sean Smith. A good novel about this.

David Brin said...

More than £100bn of property in England and Wales is secretly owned, new analysis suggests. More than 87,000 properties are owned by anonymous companies registered in tax havens. “It’s increasingly clear that UK property is one of the favourite tools of the criminal and corrupt for stashing and laundering stolen cash,” said Ava Lee, senior anti-corruption campaigner at Global Witness. Criminals and corrupt politicians use the UK property market to hide or clean dirty cash, and to secure safe havens for themselves and their families.

Where did you first see this complaint? Possibly in EARTH (1990)?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Jacinda Ardern has said she will render the person accused over the Christchurch terrorist attack “nameless” and urged the public to speak the victims’ names instead.

Another Hit for Dr Brin

Tony Fisk said...

Duncan got to it before me, as is fitting.

wrt Egging, over a million have signed a petition asking the Australian Parliament to remove him from office. In fact, Parliament doesn't have much power beyond a reprimand, which Egging has likened to Morrison whacking him with a lace handkerchief. He's clearly still happy to gaslight muslim immigrants as being a focus for all this hate.

That said, twitter has upheld several reports (including mine) and Egging hasn't posted anything since last Friday. I suspect he's been locked down until he deletes the offending items.

Tim Wolter said...

Uh, David. Can you see why talking about things like umbras makes the discussion of facts vs fakes a little challenging?

I'm quite willing to have a discussion that stipulates that Putin is a nasty piece of work. That Russian foreign policy is thuggish. That Donald Trump as a real estate developer, reality TV star, multiply divorced guy is in many ways contemptible albeit with some political skills that his early D boosters probably wish now they'd picked up on.

Somewhere in the umbras and penumbras you are connecting the dots and crying treason. And no, I can't prove it is not so. But that is not the point. T

This will not win supporters beyond the current True Believers. I think that is the topic of the posting.


David Smelser said...

I think this is a good list of potential crimes committed by Trump & associates.

Here is a good summary of the evidence from court documents, with links to those actual documents.

Alfred Differ said...


There is only one "philosophy underlying QM" -- that there *no* philosophy underlying QM. It's just Relity as it is. Any pretense of being one -- it's plain old crankery. :))

Heh. That’s actually a pretty good imitation of a common American attitude. I assure you there are a number of philosophical approaches, but it’s common practice for Americans to dismiss most of philosophy whether it involves QM or politics or anything really. 8)

I usually don’t quote papers when it comes to physics. I’m a physicist by training, so I tend to point to textbooks. Which ones depends on where I think a student’s level of understanding is. Most of the time I don’t even do that because most people want to talk about it without putting the effort in to learn it. In your case, I’m not sure what your interest is, but I will point out that all of my books are in English and there are some damn fine textbooks in Russian that are probably more reachable to you. For philosophy starters, though, take a look at the distinctions we make between various QM interpretations. Copenhagen vs qbism, vs etc. We’ve struggled for decades to give meaning to the matrix calculations and some concepts are better developed than others.

\\What I DO expect is for the problems of interest to have a huge number of dimensions

Well... it's just non-linear. By obvious reason.

Large numbers of dimensions and non-linearity aren’t the same thing. Both ARE an issue with politics, economics, and pretty much all human organization endeavors. There are huge numbers of variables, feedback loops both positive and negative, and just plain old foggy comprehension. Treating this all with game theory is a start, but we often don’t know the rules either. Sometimes there are games involving the rules (politics!) on top of the actual games. It’s a lovely human mess. 8)

So it was marketing decision? Of that Kennedy of Kennedies. To out-fly soviets in race to the Moon?

Well… sort of. Politics occurs within a kind of market too, but that’s not what I was pointing out. Most economic activity isn’t decided by politics. The ‘game’ occurs within the commercial market. We will colonize space when people recognize that and realize that it is the way we colonized most of the Earth. Our ‘commerce’ market has changed a lot in 100K years, but even a barter system was enough to spread across most continents. Nowadays we have many other tools from the physical to the mental to the organizational. It doesn’t matter what a modern day JFK says about space. We go en masse when we make it make economic sense to go. When we do that, no one will be able to stop it.

Tim H. said...

Read an essay on the economy under Dwight Eisenhower:
In it's own way, it would be more conservative fiscally than contemporary conservative thought*, but it would take years to smooth out the economic distortions wrought by the attempt to deliver the "Big Rock Candy Mountain" to the .01%.
*I view the wealthy as an important part of the economy, but they live off the greater economy, and are not separable from it in this world.

Alfred Differ said...

Tim Wolter,

As I understand David’s umbras and penumbras, they map to the various shades of doubt we have concerning a ‘fact’. Reasonable/unreasonable. Shadow/Beyond a shadow. Etc.

What I think David is asking you to consider is that your reluctance to accept as fact the evidence describing GOP / Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election has become unreasonable. Any particular piece of evidence doesn’t stand alone, e.g. a meeting without a single US official present (other than Trump) could be out in the penumbra, but when combined with all the other events, the position is… not reasonable.

I’m of the opinion that one very clear fact is present at the center of the umbra. Trump did not expect to win and campaigned as a way to improve his ratings to make money later. The possibility that he COULD win should have been considered by him more heavily since we scrutinize all our Presidents. However, the second fact that I think is in the umbra is that Trump isn’t very smart. I don’t think he thought much beyond his immediate future. As a result, he’s probably going to be bankrupted and jailed and his kids are going down with him.

My opinions won’t win new supporters from the true believers, though, right? Yah. I get that. My job, however, is to peel off people who think an accusation still exists in the penumbra when in fact it is much, much darker there. Those people aren’t true believers. They are people who can look in the mirror and ask their reflection if their belief is still ‘reasonable.’

David Brin said...

Tim, this is silly. Give me one even conceivable alternate explanation for Trump holding a dozen private debriefings with communist and "ex" communist dictators and murdering Saudi princes without a single US official present, despite being repeatedly begged not to do so. Give me an alternative to his relentless insulting and driving away of all allies. Or relentless disparagement and hamstringing of the so-called "deep state" men and women who protect us.

When a theory is not "proved" but has NO even remotely plausible competitors, it makes sense to at least give that theory primacy of place and to take moderate steps, in case the "blatantly obvious" transforms into the "proved."

You may claim "I can shrug until you prove something." But there comes a point where shrugging becomes clinically symptomatic of hysterical denial.

You think he hides his taxes, all business records and even school scores for no reason? The distrust this sows among half of the populace is treason in its own right.

Rules of evidence for a court are extreme for a reason, but at present neither Trump's freedom nor life are at risk. WE are the ones at-risk. And if you defend capitalism, then you defend the right of customers to notice when it is LIKELY that the fellow they are dealing with has defrauded them.

Paraphrasing you: "So he's a jerk and all his associates are jerks and/or criminals and/or foreign murderer/despot/enemies... and there's choking billows of smoke stinging our eyes and sure, there's no other consistent theory except flaming treason... but ... but that's still not absolute proof theres a FIRE under all that!"

Seriously, at this point, your ability to shrug is truly bizarre.

Tim Wolter said...

Alfred, and David. I do consider your theories. I just have not seen proof for what sounds like fairly "out there" fiction. I agree that he did not actually plan on winning and that likely contributed to an assortment of amateurish mistakes.

Paying off women who have dirt to dish needs to be done via multiple layers of high priced legal talent. At least I assume this is how it is customarily done.

My original comments on this mentioned that I had significant concerns about the politicization of the DOJ and FBI, and the assorted back channel links between them and potentially the Clinton campaign.

When Nellie Ohr draws a paycheck from Fusion GPS it does not say DNC on it. What she discusses with her husband who works for the DOJ can't be known. Who he spoke with, other than the non disclosed leaks to journalists that got him demoted, can't be known.

Ohr seems like a nice guy and there are those who speak loudly in his defense. But he should have Recused himself six ways to Wednesday.

I know this is all umbras and penumbras. I still feel I give your's more thought than the reciprocal direction although early on David did express some qualms about the hinted at "insurance policy".

Time will tell. I think there is still a DOJ IG report on this over the horizon.


Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

Ohr seems like a nice guy and there are those who speak loudly in his defense. But he should have Recused himself six ways to Wednesday.

He should have recused himself? No such admonition for the newly-appointed Attorney General, put into place by the subject of a major investigation? No such admonition for the newly-appointed Supreme Court members who will decide the extent of the powers of the man who appointed them to their seats?

The blatant self-dealing of the Republican Party does less to raise your hackles than does the fact that opposition research on Trump was commissioned by Trump's opponents? You're coming close to sounding like, "The police should recuse themselves from investigating crimes, because they're biased against criminals."

A.F. Rey said...

Hey, Andy: in case you missed it, here's FiveThirtyEight's take on Andrew Yang's chances to win the Democratic primary.

Larry Hart said...

Though it's not the point he's trying to make, Paul Krugman points out that rural America actively votes against attempts at helping them:


Some of the consequences have been tragic. Not that long ago we used to think of social collapse as an inner-city problem. Nowadays phenomena like the prevalence of jobless men in their prime working years, or worse yet, the surge in “deaths of despair” by drugs, alcohol or suicide are concentrated in declining rural areas.

And politically, rural America is increasingly a world apart. For example, overall U.S. public opinion is increasingly positive toward immigrants. But rural Americans — many of whom rarely encounter immigrants in their daily lives — have a vastly more negative view.

Not surprisingly, rural America is also pretty much the only place where Donald Trump remains popular; despite the damage his trade wars have done to the farm economy, his net approval is vastly higher in rural areas than it is in the rest of the country.

So what can be done to help rural America? We can and should make sure that all Americans have good health care, access to good education, and so on wherever they live. We can try to promote economic development in lagging regions with public investment, employment subsidies and, possibly, job guarantees.


And yet, any politician who is for those things is resoundingly defeated in rural America.

Andy said...

A.F. Rey,

I did see that article earlier today. Pretty good analysis. I'm a bit discouraged Yang's numbers are underwater in Iowa. Hopefully he can turn that around soon.


Yeah, preferential voting would be great! We must organize and make it happen!

Smurphs said...

Tim Wolter said:

"I had significant concerns about the politicization of the DOJ and FBI"

You're really reaching for straws here, Tim. That any American can look at the last two centuries of American history and proclaim that Law Enforcement (FBI, DOJ, etc.) are bastions of Progressive, Liberal thought and controlled by the Democrats is positively Orwellian. Can you find some isolated examples, sure, people are complicated. To proclaim the institutions have a liberal bias is insane.

But, sure, stick you head in the sand until the next report comes out. How many more reports do you need? Dr. Brin's point about 20 years and half a billion dollars of rabid Republican investigation finding nothing should give you a clue that you will be waiting a long time.

You remind me of the favorite tactic of Limbaugh, Beck and O'Rielly. "We have damning proof of X, we are just getting it ready to publish, tune in next Monday." When next Monday comes, crickets. And then they are off onto the next big expose.

Keep waiting, your proof that this all a big liberal conspiracy will be out next Monday. Stay tuned.

Larry Hart said...


In the 1930s, Hitler was able to marginalize and isolate Jews while simultaneously maintaining that Jews secretly controlled the world. I see a similar view of liberals being pushed in today's America. "Democrats can't win shit, and even when they do win, they can't pass any meaningful legislation, but their grip on power is so powerful that it is justifiable to cheat against them."

Duncan Cairncross said...

Rural America
And Rural/Provincial NZ

IMHO Cities are the answer - and the problem

Today the drivers that make cities grow are too strong - the result is that instead of a dozen medium sized cities each one making it's area grow and prosper we end up with one LARGE city

The large city grows at the expense of the smaller cities

I would argue that a city like any organisation has benefits of size in terms of driving industry and improving lifestyle - but that these go up rapidly and then tail off as the city becomes big enough

The drivers for growth are NOT the same as the drivers for "benefits" - similar to large companies there is an optimum size and it is in the public benefit to break up "too large" companies

IMHO we need something similar to restrict the growth of "Too Large" cities both because excessive size gives problems for the inhabitants of the "Too Large" cities and because they drain the "growth" from the smaller cities

The solution to the "Rural" areas is to get their local "towns" large enough to help their surrounding areas by diverting growth from the "too Large" cities

David Brin said...

Good lord, I give up. We cite blatant acts of treason and demolition of all American strengths, from our alliances and sciences to world prestige (now at all-time lows) and collaboration in murder… And literally HUNDREDS of other crimes and malfeasances many of them already leading to felony convictions by juries of your peers…

… and countless more that you know would be revealed if we had access to huge troves of records Trump and the GOP keep desperately secret - Like two BILLION lent to Trump by the Kremlin's money laundering service, Deutsches Bank -- Yet they now scream "stop investigating!" hypocritically after spending 3 decades probing every file and crevice and low-level Clinton Assistant, finding nothing.

But what does Tim give us? The latest magical Clinton incantation! Fusion GPS might have been biased in its initial glance at Trump, and hence we should ignore ALL of the Vesuvius level crimes subsequently revealed! Never mind that EVERY SINGLE SUCH CLINTON INCANTATION LATER PROVED FALSE.

Each of these obsessions (Oooh! Hillary used the same improper email system as Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, both Bushes, Ivanka etc.) Serves one purpose, to give guys like Tim a life preserver.

Is it remotely possible you think the “fusion Ohr thing” actually indicts the HUNDRED THOUSAND men and women at senior levels of the “deep state” who saved us from Hitler and Stalin and bin Laden? Have you a clue how sick that sounds?

David Brin said...

LH: “In the 1930s, Hitler was able to marginalize and isolate Jews while simultaneously maintaining that Jews secretly controlled the world.”

It backfired in one place. In Shanghai the Japanese refused to abuse or kill any of the thousands of Jews who had fled there, fearing Jewish power as asserted by Nazi propaganda!

TCB said...

Let me weigh in on the Electoral College. On paper, it is meant to be a conclave of wiser heads who step in and prevent the American voters from their occasional bad decisions.

There have been 58 presidential elections in the United States. In just five of them did the Electoral College pick a winner who got fewer popular votes. When the EC ratifies the same choice the popular vote did, it is as if the EC had done nothing at all. It may as well be a rubber stamp. It is in those rarer cases, only five in our nation's history, where the greater number of voters choose one candidate, and the EC the other, where the rubber hits the road. In these, the EC has done something! But what has it done?

Of those five cases, two (the 1824 decision for John Quincy Adams over Andrew Jackson and the 1888 decision for Benjamin Harrison over Grover Cleveland) do not seem, to me, very important in their effects. In both, the loser would go on to win the office later, and the nation's course not be critically affected for better or worse.

In 1876, the EC would choose Rutherford B. Hayes over Samuel Tilden, as a compromise which included the end of Military Reconstruction and the beginning of the Jim Crow era. This stands as an historic disaster America is still paying for.

The EC didn't overturn another popular vote until recent times, the 2000 and 2016 elections. The 2000 result gave us George W. Bush over Al Gore, plus 9/11 and an ongoing Middle East quagmire plus no action on climate change, the USA Patriot Act, waterboarding, far-right Supreme Court judges, the 2008 economic debacle, and whatever else Pandora's Box had to offer at that moment. The 2016 result, as we know, gave us Donald Trump, a sogheaded, parasitic ponzi charlatan and racist psychopath in the pocket of a hostile foreign spy agency.

In the 2016 case especially, the winner was precisely the sort of obviously unfit president the 'wiser heads' of the EC were supposed to spit out like a mouthful of gristle. The EC delegates had the power to vote 'faithlessly' if they chose. Instead, (with the exception of a tiny handful of faithless Clinton electors) they dutifully followed party over country and voted Trump into the White House.

So, to recap: of the five occasions when the Electoral College chose differently than the popular vote, two were (as far as I can tell) a wash, and three were unmitigated disasters for the nation. The Electoral College has a demonstrably worse track record for choosing presidents than the popular vote. It is as useful as a goiter.

David Brin said...

In November 2016 I wrote to a few millionaires suggesting they do something historic. Simply rent a luxury resort hotel somewhere and announce "For one week only Electors will be allowed to enter (other than staff). They will get all meals and amenities on the house. There are no conditions. They are not required to deliberate or talk to each other. But if a quorum shows up, it is within their power to call it a "college" and discuss whatever they like."

Oh, the howls it would have raised! Would a quorum have shown up? I bet it would, but we'll never know.

Larry Hart said...


There have been 58 presidential elections in the United States. In just five of them did the Electoral College pick a winner who got fewer popular votes. When the EC ratifies the same choice the popular vote did, it is as if the EC had done nothing at all. It may as well be a rubber stamp.

As you point out later, the electoral and popular vote winners never differed in the 20th century. When I was coming of age in the 70s, if I paid attention to the electoral college at all, it seemed like a procedural formality--an additional step that the winner had to go through to claim legitimacy, but more formality than anything else. The one function it seemed to have was that the number of electoral votes was manageable enough that there would be no need for recounts, no missing ballots, or anything of that sort. You knew exactly who the winner was. It was a stamp of validation on the popular vote.

I would hazard a guess that most Americans didn't pay much attention to the fact that there was a separate electoral vote back then, and that had the electoral vote reversed the outcome of the popular vote, it would have seemed like an outrage. It might have even led to a Constitutional amendment to make sure it didn't happen again. But that was before the electoral college became another way for the Republican Party to hold onto power it can't claim legitimately by democratic principles. From now on, it's a tribal thing, with Republicans in favor and Democrats against for partisan reasons. Just as "insuring citizens can more easily vote" is now a partisan issue, with Republicans openly against it because it helps Democrats.

There's a cute 1960s Disney movie called The One And Only Genuine Original Family Band whose backdrop is the 1888 election. In the movie (with time compressed for dramatic license), two factions of townspeople are following the election results via telegraph, and a cheer goes up when Cleveland wins, only to be hushed again by the news that Benjamin Harrison actually won the electoral vote. Now that I'm thinking of it, I'm pretty sure that movie was where I first heard of the electoral college. It was where I first heard of Democrats and Republicans for that matter.

Alfred Differ said...

Tim Wolter,

I just have not seen proof for what sounds like fairly "out there" fiction.

Yah. It IS out there. The problem is it isn’t a stray piece of shot nicking off the inside of the gun barrel and then going where the rest of the shot doesn’t go. In this case, most of the shot is going way out there too. That leads us to strongly suspect the gun is actually pointing out there.

Consider, for example, payments of hush money. Besides the fact that such things are felony violations of campaign finance law, one could understand the motivation to make the payments right before an election. One could also understand the cover-up involved in the related tax and accounting felonies one commits when cooking the books to hide the reality. It’s not unusual for one crime to be immediately connected to a few others, so a jury member would do well to think of it all as one event.

The problem, though, is this one event is related to one man and his ‘organization’ who has a consistent track record of fraud. His so-called non-profit organization is being dismantled because he can’t distinguish between his money and the organization’s money. His university has been sued for fraud and lost. He’s been sued by creditors for contract breaches. Most banks won’t touch him. I lived in Nevada for a while and understand why the Nevada Gaming Commission wouldn’t let him license a casino. [My brother worked in that industry for years and explained it too.]

Then there is the obvious incompetence and not just at the job of being President. When everyone with any brains knows you are a persistent fraud, you’ve @#$’ed up. There is the issue of being caught (which happens) and the much more troubling issue of not learning from the fact of being caught. My little old granny was at least a thief when she was young, but I clearly remember her in her older years putting in the brain sweat to ensure her behaviors weren’t blatantly obvious to authority. She managed her partners and slapped them around when they did stupid stuff. In Trump’s case, though, it’s as if he expected to control the story by controlling a tabloid. It worked pretty well… until he ran for President. How stupid does one have to be NOT to realize that every President gets his pores examined by millions of citizens with microscopes? It’s as much the American pastime as baseball! We LOVE making stuff up, but that leads others to LOOK.

What a @#%’ing genius he is OR how #%@%’ing blind his supporters are. Don’t look at the charges they say. They can’t possibly be right… or correlated… or even reasonably supported. They are all flawed by initial errors. They can’t be right because no criminal is stupid enough to commit his crimes in the open. They can’t possibly be reasonably supported by evidence because we reject all evidence by anyone who isn’t enthralled by the glamour.

It’s not a stray piece of shot going awry.
It’s round after round pointing at our vital social institutions.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Don’t look at the charges they say. They can’t possibly be right… or correlated… or even reasonably supported. They are all flawed by initial errors. They can’t be right because no criminal is stupid enough to commit his crimes in the open.

A variation on the related strategy of "What we're doing in plain sight is so egregious that speaking the truth about us is an unforgivable breach of decorum. How dare you use words like 'treason' to describe my treason! How dare you have the effrontery to accuse me of the horrific crimes I am committing!"

David Brin said...

TCB I plan to quote your historical riff, either on blog or on Facebook.

progressbot said...

>> Larry Hart said...
"The Mule does to free will what Hitler did to Poland."

Well, it's more like Munich Collusion to me. What Hitler did to Europa higer-ups (and what Putin trying to copycat), well, can be described as "lost will", but have more prosaic reasons, IMHO, democracy. But yueah, I see how it could be seen as "what we did to Poland" by ams.

>> Alfred Differ said...
I assure you there are a number of philosophical approaches I'm sure there is. But, not all what call itself philosophy, is one.

common practice for Americans to dismiss most of philosophy whether it involves QM or politics or anything really. 8) Why you so sure that it's only about ams? Ignorance, it's our common trait.

\\I’m a physicist by training, so I tend to point to textbooks.

That's exactly why I'm trying to ask you seemingly simple question -- why you think that position (and/or speed) of electron *in atom* can be seen? Isn't it countre-physical? What about Heisenberg uncertainity?
I'm not trying to corner you here. I just not that much an expert. But I never heard such idea before. And from basics I seemingly know, it looks fishy. That's all.

Copenhagen vs qbism, vs etc. We was studied what number of angels are on the pin head, for centuries.

\\Well... it's just non-linear. By obvious reason.

Large numbers of dimensions and non-linearity aren’t the same thing. ... It’s a lovely human mess. 8)

All that you described... would not be a problem... if there was no non-linearity.
But it is "not a chance" situation. Because Life itself is sinergetic, non-linear phenomena.

Most economic activity isn’t decided by politics. Well, yeah, because it's business/economics pulling the strings of political puppets(and it is not (only) in derogatory meaning)... most of the time.

We will colonize space when people recognize that and realize that it is the way we colonized most of the Earth. There is subtle differences. e.g. you would not need oxigen tank to conquer America.

\\It doesn’t matter what a modern day JFK says about space.

Well, it can play out other way too. Into "There noting valuable in space". And JFK would not be able to change that outcome.
For example, to make my claims more subtle, recurrent schema... we pay hard money (to build house, to pay doctors, etc) -- then someone have bright idea and propose credit/insurance -- prices grow high, people go into debts and financial bubbles rise.

And now we have "virtual" money in games, and "monetization"... and only a step (maybe half-step)before someone would propose "let's credit those people so they would play games to their heart content"...

dr.Brin... I know what you'd say, that it's again messy and lengthy. But Alfred comment was so packed with meaning, so I feel that there'd be unwanted missunderstandings if I'd did it without heavy quoting.

Well, It can be that I just not smart enough to phraze it better, too. Then I be very glad to hear some advice.

>> Tim Wolter said...

You sounds like advocates of our flead presidente Yanucovich... that it is *not* him, who bare all responsibilities for anti-state crimes and massacres on Independence Square... but some elusive and never ever seen "nazis" who besieged him, chased out of Ukraine (on RFia's helicopters, yeah), tried to kill. Do you want to wait till that time when Trump will start such whining... from exile... from Moscow? (or Phenian, dunno) :)))
Well, some people here still whining about "it was better... under Yanik".(sic!)

PS I just listened for Russian Radio and there was exactly that story about your previous president -- Hoover. How he was fraudster rised money on NGOs "for helping Russia", and then called to be president by rich ones.
Well, if there is at least 10% of truth in that words, it seems Trump not *the first* such presidente in your history.

Tim H. said...

progressbot, I see Trump as more like Warren Harding... Hoover claimed that the Russia issue was due to party apparatchiks screwing up the works, which might be true... Better dirt on Hoover would be his involvement with a Chinese coal mine, that the Chinese no longer owned afterwards.

Tim H. said...

LH, on rural America, I think part of what's going on is that the few who succeed there command their neighbor's respect and those who would do better with a newer deal vote for the same reactionaries. BTW, not blaming the few successful operations, mainly, Big Ag wants corn, beans, wheat, chickens and hogs for the lowest price possible and doesn't care what that does to the farm economy. Farmers must get big, or get out, sometimes all the way out and the land is run by managers working for absentee owners. Never mind that it looks like collectivization, mkII, Big Ag is making money. A future where the investment community tempers their appetites and tries to limit collateral damage seems possible for now, if Wall $treet continues fighting reform, not so much.

Greg Byshenk said...

Duncan Cairncross said...
IMHO Cities are the answer - and the problem
IMHO we need something similar to restrict the growth of "Too Large" cities both because excessive size gives problems for the inhabitants of the "Too Large" cities and because they drain the "growth" from the smaller cities.

For this, what is required is good transport and communication links between the 'not too large' cities, and a way to prevent them from growing together into a single 'too large' city.

Here in the Netherlands, we have the 'Randstad', with an overall population of over 8M, made up of a ring of 'small' cities, none of which have a population of over 1M. But from Leiden, using the train, I can get to den Haag in ten minutes, to Amsterdam in thirty, to Rotterdam in forty-five, and Utrecht in under an hour. And yet the cities remain separate: there is farmland even between Leiden and den Haag.

Unfortunately, in the USA (I can't speak to NZ), most of the populace seems resolutely opposed to having any transport links other than highways (which clog up very quickly with any sort of growth - and lead to filling in the spaces between urban areas), and also to any limitation on new development (which leads to growing urban areas sprawling into each other and creating 'too large' cities.

And, for what it's worth, I think the problems of many US rural areas are not solvable even in this way. Even the smaller 'cities' in these areas cannot realistically be saved, as they no longer serve any real purpose, and the existing population (including any population that might want to relocate there) is insufficient to support them. Even here in the Netherlands, which is very densely populated, "rural"/peripheral areas are losing population, because not many people want to live in remote isolation.

yana said...

progressbot thought:

""Cauliflower is nothing but cabbadge... with colledge education" (c) Samuel Clemens"

Andy thought:

"What if it was more of a country vs urban war"

Or, what if there is no war at all? Odd, humans are cohesive at the edges, at the tailends of the bell curve of success. Nothing attracts supporters as well as a knot of wealth, nor as fast as a tragedy. It's in the middle, where things are going neither heavenly nor hellish, that we find spare time to rip each other to shreds.

Reminds of a Mark Twain rehash, about travel being the best antidote to bigotry and ignorance. Still just as true, and only people who travel the furthest are alert enough to think about falling off the edge of the world.

Alfred Differ thought:

"As for the Moon, I'm not really a pro-Moon guy."

It's like moving to the desert on purpose, and not a living desert like Sonora, but moving squat into the middle of the Empty Quarter, the Rub-Al-something. It will never be economical, besides what wealth it draws off the earth. But here's where we disagree:

"It doesn’t matter what a modern day JFK says about space. We go en masse when we make it make economic sense to go."

Instead, perhaps it is the very reason for government to exist, to do the things which do not make pure economic sense, yet for the general welfare. You know how much ancillary science came from both Manhattan and Apollo, yet we the government never got back a dime in a million from the primary products.

It's time again, more proof,

sociotard thought:

"another asteroid hit, over the Bering Sea... We had a nuke-scale explosion, and barely noticed."

It's going to happen again, and next time it might not be a medium-sized city in a depressed country. Getting to the moon in a cadre large enough to support each other doubles our species chances of survival. Lessons learned there, are what will make Mars and the Belt possible.

But you and Dr. Brin are correct, there's no good economic reason to go there. That's why we need a push, from all of us, and that's what government is really for. Forget about the ancillary sciences, ignore the inspiration and goodwill worldwide. Disregard the global increase in productivity from city to hamlet, and the decrease in wars as the ablest young choose to fight for the species not the tribe.

Forget all that, just consider it a gift. From the richest nation ever, to the whole of humankind.

post title:

"Can Democratic Proposals Win Popular Support?"

Only if they inspire. Too long, history is the anecdote about people who inspire other people to fight for them. I tell ya, another way is coming, and it's already here in small doses. The cost to communicate around the world is asymptotically nearer zero, and it turns out we're all the same species after all. So much prejudice is going to melt away soon, that the zeitgeist will stand naked for the first time in history.

What are we going to want? To survive. Going to the moon to stay doubles our chance of survival. Plus, every year the moon gets an inch closer to Mars!

Anonymous said...

Tim Wolter,

Just wondering. What would you consider as 'the facts'? You. Personally. In connection with this political topic, of course.

a) Hardcore physical testimony? Like persecuted criminal being electrocuted till his death. Is it fact or not?

b) Or just the complete judgment of a jury? Is it enough to be considered 'the fact'?

c) Or evidences provided under 'beyond reasonable doubts' in court? Are they 'facts' suiting to your liking and understanding of 'factuality'?

d) Or some subtle facts of behavior and consequences?

('plausible deniability' must be somewhere in between here, I presume, or you'd place it higher? yet higher?)

e) Or just some plausible or 'plausible' facts/'facts' in media? In your social information bubble?

As it's easy to see... there is way too long for that time, when facts of type a,b,c could be available. And then it'll be not much of importance in having them, politically. As it'll be basically post-mortem truth.

So, we are staying witg d and e facts for the time being. So, what's your opinion on this matters are?

Larry Hart said...

On collusion, presented without further comment:


Given the breadth and the length of the investigation into [Trump's Attorney, Michael] Cohen, the fact that warrants related to the investigation were renewed several times (implying that substantive material was being produced), and that Trump and Cohen had a long and shady relationship, it is inconceivable that Team Mueller did not turn up some dirt on Trump himself. Maybe a lot of dirt. That is certainly the opinion of former Justice Dept. official Chuck Rosenberg, who appeared on MSNBC on Tuesday, and said that Mueller has "oodles" of evidence against the President, who "ought to be scared." In fact, it's well within the realm of possibility that Trump has already been indicted, to be unsealed once he's no longer in office, and so no longer protected by Justice Dept. guidelines against indicting a sitting president. If so, and if Trump is aware of it, it might explain his behavior during weekends like the one that just passed, where he seems to be particularly unhinged without any obvious cause

Bryan Price said...

I think a better question is:

"Can [Ll]ibertarian Proposals Win Popular Support?"

Tim H. said...

Depends on how one defines "Libertarian", the minding one's own business variety, that might actually work for "Little people", not so much. The freedom for money variety seems to be doing well.
LH, a "Particularly unhinged" Trump is alarming.

Alfred Differ said...


How dare you use words like 'treason' to describe my treason!

Heh. Yah. I see your point.

One small detail, though. I’m as careful in the use of ‘treason’ as I am with ‘illegitimate’. Treason is a very specific crime and Trump isn’t guilty of it. Confidence tricksters betray. Trump is guilty from head to toe of betrayals.

Practice the word in front of a mirror and you’ll find ‘betray’ is just as emotionally charged as ‘treason’. Betrayals that go far enough are quite sufficient to justify removing him from office and jailing him as well.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

One small detail, though. I’m as careful in the use of ‘treason’ as I am with ‘illegitimate’.

Well, you came over on one, so maybe you will on the other too? :)

That was an example. The point I was making generally is that the current Republicans hide behind the sheer audaciousness of their effronteries. What they do is so heinous that the act of calling them on it is itself "fighting words" that makes us the bad guys.

And I didn't just mean Trump. I was describing a strategy being used by the entire Republican Party.

Treason is a very specific crime and Trump isn’t guilty of it.

Doesn't that depend on what exactly he's shared with foreign dictators at those meetings without any American witnesses present?

Confidence tricksters betray. Trump is guilty from head to toe of betrayals.

Betrayal of one's country is treason, isn't it?

David Brin said...

Greg Byshenk, Leiden and Amsterdam feature in my story “A Professor At Harvard.” In fact, a lot of Democrat politicians are pushing for urban infilling. In San Diego, new buildings within .5 miles of mass transit can forego the old rules about supplying parking and can now go taller, providing there are “affordable” set-asides.

yana: “. Getting to the moon in a cadre large enough to support each other doubles our species chances of survival. Lessons learned there, are what will make Mars and the Belt possible.” Well-well. Yes, govt helps stimulate things beyond the corporate ROI return on investment horizon - which used to be ten years but has malignantly declined to quarterly or even weekly parasitism.

But it can be complicated. Governments built highways and airports and gave mail contracts which in turn subsidized a massive private wave of investment in air in the 1920s. I see a very similar era dawning.

Anonymous, please sign your missives, even with a monicker, especially when personally addressing another member of the community.

LH, I hate this “You can’t indict a president BS. What I think should happen is a “slow indictment” with the court appointing a special master to ensure that the President is not burdened more than say ten hours a month working with lawyers on such cases. Ten hours a month would allow wheels of justice to grind forward and declare “there’s no pure immunity.”

David Brin said...

Bryan Price said...I think a better question is:"Can [Ll]ibertarian Proposals Win Popular Support?"

Um, WHICH libertarian principles? The loony-insane-ingrate stupid ones forced upon the movement by Rand-Rothbard and the billionaires who have taken it over? Declaring that ONLY “government bureaucrats” can ever possibly be threats to freedom and flat-fair-competitive markets? (Actually, Rand was better than that; her villains were almost always Old Money cheaters. It's her followers who stupidly think she most hated socialists.)

Or do you mean the version of "libertarian" that remembers Adam Smith and the US Founders fought primarily against a far worse enemy of freedom, feudal oligarchy, that wrecked liberty and markets through cheating, across 6000 years?

We need libertarian instincts to be skeptical about government over-reach! Demand a burden of proof that this or that program raises competitive opportunity and does not create dependence! But most of today’s ‘libertarians” have forsaken “competition” for “property” defending the lords who ought to be seen as the enemy.

Alfred Differ said...


I’m not claiming that government doesn’t have a place in the future especially in doing the things that don’t make practical, economic sense to the commercial market participants. What I DO claim is that these things they can do won’t get us out there en masse. Government can put forts all along the frontier as the US did with its western territories, but people moved when it made sense. Look at our history and you’ll see people moving BEFORE the forts were there. [The British knew we were going to over-run them in Oregon before Polk was in office.]

I AM Libertarian, but I’m not an anarchist. Government has a purpose that tends to be defined in the moment. If it is a government of the people, The People get to say what they want. I can live with that… mostly. If they want it to help open the frontier wider, I’m both hopeful and skeptical. It certainly could be that government helps in a way that is worth the price. It can also be that civil servants turn their help into job justifications and lose site of the objective. I’ve seen both in my years.

At this point, I see a useful partnership between government and the market in pushing the near frontier outward. A new crop of service providers is evolving to displace the dinosaur defense contractors who used to receive all DoD and NASA space flight attention. These new mammals are still receiving government money through contracts, but their customer base is much wider than the US government. You won’t see NASA logos on everything flying from a US port anymore. You might not even see NASA or DoD money. Some in the market have figured out how to make money in space related services in a broader sense. THAT is what will get us all out there. It’s the economic vision that moves populations.

Back in the mid-late 90’s I was super interested in solar sails and how they might provide a technology that would alter how humans migrated to other worlds. I found the usual books and conference slides to study and I managed to get JPL to unclassify a technical doc associated with the Halley rendezvous study. Some of the tools I needed didn’t exist, so I figured I’d help invent them and be useful that way. Along the way I had to learn some of what we already know about human migrations across the Earth and that’s when I got a real eye-opener. There was reason to believe we invented tech as we needed it, when we needed it, and altered ourselves as well. What we usually did NOT do, though, was cross difficult expanses with no intention of coming back regularly. The people who challenged difficult regions did so to achieve some reward… which they enjoyed… back home. They stayed in those difficult places if it made sense to shift ‘home’ to somewhere else. Most people, though, never ever did. In other words, the billions of people living outside Africa didn’t migrate from Africa. A few did… and they had scads of children. That meant my work on sails was premature.

We go to space and colonize other worlds when it makes sense to migrate… and we already know from history how most humans will judge such things. Most won’t go. Some will in the early days because there is reward to be had. Some will go a little later because they can get a late adopter reward if the relocate. Some more will go later because there are already people over there and they might find jobs or new opportunities. Those few will have children who will prosper… if they can trade with our original home and with each other. History shows how this works. No doubt we will remember someone as a leader of a migration, but I’d bet that will be mostly fiction. We will go when it makes sense… and we are in the middle of going right now.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Guys
Re - the dreaded IMPEACHMENT!

From a strategic POV I just don’t see any upside in impeaching Trump

It will either fail - which is probably bad

Or Trump will be so incredibly smelly that it would pass in which case leaving Trump like an albatross around the neck of the Republicans would be better than letting them kick him to the side

Slap him and all the other crims in jail AFTER he loses the next election

Alfred Differ said...


...Republicans hide behind the sheer audaciousness of their effronteries...

Yes. I see that too. It is used in combination with the usual ‘distraction’ method, though, where they paint you all as rabid socialists. That particular label is amazingly good at riling my libertarian friends. I agree with them that socialism is generally a bad idea, but there is no way you all are rabid. Some socialist ideas are relatively benign. Am I supposed to admit that, though? Nah. They expect me to see you all as an existential threat.

Doesn't that depend on what exactly he's shared with foreign dictators at those meetings without any American witnesses present?

No. Take a good look at the law. With no war declared by Congress, it is technically out of reach. Betrayal of one’s country is not out of reach.

Treason involves Betrayal. Betrayal does not necessarily imply Treason.

For a simple example, imagine if I copied a classified doc and intentionally provided it to Russia or China either to aid them or harm the US. That act would make me guilty of espionage in the formal sense. It would be a betrayal of the trust given me in my current job. It would not qualify as treason, though. I’d still be fitted for an orange jump suit and maybe even face the death penalty, but no amount of witnesses would be enough to qualify for treason right now. If I did it during a declared war, however, that would be a different matter.

Alfred Differ said...


For the sake of our host, I’d bet you can safely put longer responses aimed at me in a separate post. You could put my name at the top and something like {way off topic} as a warning flag next to it. All other readers would know they could safely roll that message up and skip it as a side-bar conversation. If you and I do it too much, though, I’ll revive my blog and we can talk over there.

Now… for the sake of other readers… I’m about to go {way off topic} 8)

There is nothing wrong with knowing position and velocity of an electron in an atom as long as one respects Heisenberg. If you make little effort to know the quantities, your precision should be terrible. If you slam a high energy photon through the system and hit the electron, you can know where it was and what it was doing by observing where it goes, but you still have to respect Heisenberg. Precision has costs.

We was studied what number of angels are on the pin head, for centuries.

Heh. True enough, but it doesn’t mean much from people who haven’t learned the relevant physics yet. We just dismiss you all and suggest you take a class or two. Big egos on our side? Definitely. However, once you’ve studied it, your opinions become useful in the effort to decide whose arguments are slightly less bad than dancing angels.

Life is both non-linear and high dimensional. It’s a wonder to me that we can make any economic statements of value at all, yet we can. We accomplish this by discussing constraints on solutions instead of the solutions themselves. Sometimes we get away with statistical statements too. Economics is just one portion of a larger theory on ‘human action’ which is a small part of ‘life’s action’, so it’s a start. There are feedback loops (non-linearity), logarithmic responses (look at how retinas respond to light) and vast numbers of ‘independent actors’. These are problems to keep us busy for hundreds of generations. Beautiful stuff.

you would not need oxigen tank to conquer America

What early humans needed was actually more complex. They had to learn whole new environments. Carrying your air isn’t easy, but it’s no harder to imagine than carrying your water. The ‘Doing’ is hard, but that’s what humans are good at if there are enough of us motivated to try. ‘Imagining’ is the creative, complex thing.

Money is one of those incredibly complex things. People underestimate just how creative we’ve been in our markets to get stuff created and transported and consumed. One of those economic theory constraints is ‘Humans Want Some Of What They Don’t Have Yet’. It’s astonishing how much we’ve created to within the bounds of that constraint. We BELIEVE humans will continue to want and as if by magic… economics happens. Amazing. Really.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Actually, [Ayn] Rand was better than that; her villains were almost always Old Money cheaters. It's her followers who stupidly think she most hated socialists.

Well, she did hate "collectivists" and "People's States", so I see where they would get that from. Basically, anything that demanded (or even suggested) that an individual should act in a group interest was considered evil.

You are correct that her villains tend to be Donald Trump Jr types--spoiled rich brats who don't understand money or business. But her fiction has to twist itself into pretzels in order to conflate that type with liberalism, i.e., having James Taggart insist on sending trains to the poor people of Mexico even though Dagny knows those trains will be nationalized and confiscated. Her heroes, the good industrialists, only care about profit, while her corporate villains insist on socializing their output. That doesn't seem to line up with real world behavior.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Treason involves Betrayal. Betrayal does not necessarily imply Treason.

Adultery involves sex. Sex does not necessarily imply adultery.
But sex with another woman while you have a wife at home does imply adultery.

Likewise, betrayal of your country is treason. That's the popular connotation of the word.

I realize your point is that the federal crime of "Treason" is defined very narrowly in the Constitution. I'm not speaking as a lawyer, though, and I'm not trying to have the guy hung by the neck until dead. At this point, my goal in using that word is to point out that rather than MAGA, he's actively destroying the institutions and customs that make America great.

And my point with "How dare you use words like treason to describe my treason!" could just as well have used a different example. "How dare you use words like racism to describe my racism!" "How dare you use words like lying to describe my lying!" Do those work better for you?

Alfred Differ said...


That's the popular connotation of the word.

Agreed. You've already noticed I'm using the tighter definition defined in the Constitution too, but I do it for a very particular reason. It's the same reason I was cautious with 'illegitimate'. We need certain people on our side and they will twinge on the difference between the words. However, they WILL recognize the betrayal.

You need the protector caste. These people know what 'integrity' means, so don't give them any reason willingly to avoid your message.

Consider Tim Wolter for example. I'd bet he knows the difference and would require a much darker umbra before he'd consider 'treason' as the crime being committed. 'Betrayal' is easier since Two Scoops tweets that out every day.

David Brin said...



Alan Kellogg said...

Just thought I'd point out that 9/11 had nothing to do with who exactly was the US President at the time.

Bryan Price said...

David says: Um, WHICH libertarian principles? The loony-insane-ingrate stupid ones forced upon the movement by Rand-Rothbard and the billionaires who have taken it over? Declaring that ONLY “government bureaucrats” can ever possibly be threats to freedom and flat-fair-competitive markets? (Actually, Rand was better than that; her villains were almost always Old Money cheaters. It's her followers who stupidly think she most hated socialists.)

You raise a fair point. It does seem that most of the [Ll]ibertarians I've had conversations with [on the Internet, I haven't had had long enough conversations face to face with real life libertarians to find out just what their thinking is] are in the loony-insane-etc. orbit. They keep thinking that somehow, if there were just some way to vote third party in a meaningful way, and vote libertarian!, we'd all be somehow more freer. They are the ones that can't really tell me a meaningful definition of what "freer" means, for everybody. They seem to come up with definitions for them, but those are completely worthless for me, and I suspect most of the rest of Americans/countrymen/whoever should care as well.

Meanwhile, I keep pointing out to them that, even as much as I dislike the situation, the two party system is firmly in place, and I don't see that changing in my lifetime (which if I last two more decades, I'll call it a good life...). And not likely in their kids', or their grandkids' lifetime. I'm prepared to accept that change if something does manage to change, I'm just not sure that I see the impetus to do so in any meaningful way, even though you are talking about it in the latest post. And I don't just tell libertarians that, I'll tell that to Green Party people and other people that think that their party can somehow overcome Dem and Rep incumbencies.

Working on government overreach is something that does need to be done and watched out for. It's not in my mind that is something that says "libertarian" to me.