Saturday, April 20, 2019

Mueller Fundamentals

There’s so much Mueller analysis out there. (A searchable/if redacted version.) But you know I offer angles you'll not get elsewhere. Here are digest-fundamentals that shine through Attorney General William Barr's sycophant spin. 

1. The importance of specific intent. Our rule of law is rightfully biased against prosecution, especially near the borders of free expression. Hence, in each instance of collusion or obstruction, there must be simultaneous actions and specified types of intent.

2. The Report details many acts that were clear obstruction, but Barr several times said illegal intent was missing because D. Trump was enraged and unaware of implications, while uninterested in cogent legal advice. This defense doesn’t work for assault or murder, but several times Barr leaned explicitly into this Rage and Stupidity Defense*.

3. Other acts of blatant obstruction DT did knowingly order, in order to obstruct. But he gets off some of those because underlings refused to carry them out! So, we had intent, but without the fully-completed act. See: “Don McGahn may have single-handedly saved Donald Trump's presidency.”

4. As for Collusion, Mueller does not exonerate. He only says “not decisively-proved” regarding specifically 2016 Trump campaign conspiracy with the Russians. 

Nothing to do with Putin-conniving after Trump became presidentEvents in 2017 and 2018 are still on our doorstep, including major counter-intelligence investigations, and the paper bag is aflame.

As for 2016 collusion, Mueller reports that the Trumpists:

(a) both openly and privately encouraged crimes and acts of war against us by hostile foreign powers. (Mueller separately indicted 16 Russian nationals, many of them oligarchs with blatant-smelly ties to Trump.)

(b) openly expressed gladness to benefit from those crimes and acts of war, and

(c) maintained highly suspicious contacts both during and after, and

You or I would call that a closed loop of treason. But Mueller's team - guided by prim U.S. definitions - needed a fact (e) that clearly was there, but they could not prove.

See it explained in an appraisal from Lawfare
    "This report shows that the Trump campaign was reasonably aware of the Russian efforts, at least on the hacking side. They were aware the Russians sought to help them win. They welcomed that assistance. Instead of warning the American public, they devised a public relations and campaign strategy that sought to capitalize on Russia’s illicit assistance. In other words, the Russians and the Trump campaign shared a common goal, and each side worked to achieve that goal with basic knowledge of the other side’s intention. They just didn’t (provably) agree to work toward that goal together."

Wow, isn’t western jurisprudence… well… prudent? You or I would call all that a huge pile of smoking guns. But our rule of law – gleefully used by enemies against us – requires rock solid proof of coordination during 2016

Hey, while we all know that coordination happened, this is not Russia, and hence what “we all know” doesn’t convict. The state must prove things beyond doubt. (Again, coordination with the Kremlin after 2016 is the treason that’s absolutely blatant in front of everyone’s eyes. It has been passed to other investigations. But the most blatant treason of all is the way that Fox and every single Fox watcher makes writhing excuses for all this.)

5. Can a sitting president be indicted? Mueller cites the infamous Justice Dept. Office of Legal Counsel's (OLC) opinion paper – not a law, regulation, ruling or precedent, just an opinion -- that indictment would unduly constrain a president's ability to govern, and hence can’t be allowed.

This is insane. It gives any president who has a McConnell in the Senate carte blanche to proclaim himself above the law. Sure, frivolous court actions could harass a constitutional chief executive – it’s what Trump tried doing to Obama with ‘birther’ lawsuits. 

In fact, the same protection could be afforded by "slow indictments" that are constrained so that -- audited by a court -- the president only spends say a maximum of ten hours a week on legal defense. Oh, sure, that too could be abused in stall tactics. But at least the principle is defensible. Depositions and due process could grind forward. And stalling can be fought. A never-indict precedent can’t be.

(Applying the OLC opinion to a president who spends almost no time governing is amazing.)

6. The Mueller report left clear that this is not over. There are at least a dozen ongoing federal investigations. Moreover, New York State will – Madison willing -- ensure that justice still prevails over many of Trump’s eventual pardons.

7. The power of removal. Mueller also added a searing paragraph making clear that Congress can constitutionally correct this travesty… though elsewhere I’ve given many reasons why I oppose impeachment. For now. Hey, I like Elizabeth Warren and the dems should have attack dogs shaking this bone. But McConnell.   

(An aside: See below in notes how Barr's Rage and Stupidity Defense reopens discussion of the 25th Amendment.)

8. Poison fruit. The top rationalization pouring out of Fox and Kremlin basements,  repeated by ol' Two Scoops? The original Steele Dossier - plus a few FBI agents - were biased against Trump!!  Hence the long scroll of subsequent investigations, FISA warrants, revelations, indictments, convictions and lies should be tossed. 

It's a bastard version of the “fruit of a tainted tree” doctrine that prevents cops from ignoring our fourth and fifth amendment rights. Evidence derived from a blatantly illegal search is “tainted fruit.” We’ve all seen this in cop shows, though legal folks are starting to realize there are now better ways to curb bad police behavior than letting felons go free on a technicality.

First irony: Republicans have long howled against the tainted fruit doctrine! 

Second: there is no doctrine against police evaluating biased tips that come through no outright illegality of their own. Nor are cops forbidden to have opinions, or to open investigations based on hunches. (They are forbidden from lazy-ass prejudice and profiling.) 

Note this well: it is juries and judges and courts who need to eliminate all bias. In our adversarial justice system, prosecutors and law officers are allowed to say: “I think this jerk is guilty and I will follow where the evidence leads.”

Third: The harpy screech of Hannity, Pirro and ilk is "stop looking!" Stop Mueller, stop SDNY and New York. Stop Congressional hearings! Despite their own Clinton-Obama investigations costing
 half a billion dollars of our money, that across 25 years total found less criminality than we're finding in the GOP daily

Stop looking? What do innocent people say, vs criminals, when investigation looms? The Clintons, despite their tediously dramatic eye-rolling - never cried "stop looking." 

I could go on with this thread for pages. But suffice it to say, you need to have an answer, when your confederate uncle trots out this Putin-Fox talking point about FISA warrants and Steele Dossiers and biased FBI agents. It's all Kremlin basement stuff and they should be ashamed.  

9. The likely reason why so many are betraying their country and our future. Okay, it’s my job to point at aspects that you’ll see nowhere else. Is it because I think outside the box? Because I am mad? 

Either way, to me the most striking-bizarre aspect of this whole frenzied “Mueller Month” has been the behavior of Attorney General William Barr.

Oh, Barr was a partisan attack dog going back many decades, and a hypocrite, applying opposite standards to Democrats vs. Republicans. Still, he always seemed to stand on just this side of law, honor and prudence. But that’s not what we’ve been seeing lately. Indeed, stop and think. There’s no way that Donald Trump -- after his experience with Sessions, Rosenstein, McGanh etc. -- would appoint anyone without a very taut leash. 

Now admit it… what we just saw from William Barr is a fellow who is very well at-heel.

This is not the only case of someone displaying bizarre obedience to those who are stage managing our national calamity. Am I the only one to smell something funny in the abrupt resignation of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy? 

I've hollered for twenty years about what I deem to be the greatest weapon used by our enemies against us, a beloved tool of the KGB all the way back to the czarist Okrahna.

And all it would take is one true hero – just one - to bring it crashing down.  If you haven’t read this, you need to.

MUELLER CONCLUSIONS (for now): I am in no position to dissect the Report in detail. There are skilled men and women out there doing their jobs. Moreover, the newly liberated and assertively constitutionalist House of Representatives is back at work on our behalf. (Oh, the advantages of a parliamentary system!) 

But what’s already clear is that the answer must eventually be political.

== Trump’s best defense: polarization and civil war ==

What hope have we for resolution, if the Law is so prim that herds of Trump’s hapless aides get nailed, but never him? When his own microcephalic obduracy and rage is his best defense?

And our own stupid  inability to use the weapons he gives us? Take the fact that he’s been “betrayed” by more appointees than all other presidents combined! It shows at-minimum that he’s a terrible judge of character – no Foxism can evade that polemical knife.

Alas, Robert Mueller, consummate professional has appropriately punted this to us. As posited above, the way to punish all this is politically.

But as investment guru Russ Daggatt recently put it: the biggest development over the past two years was Trump’s success in rallying his party behind him and making the investigation, led by a lifelong Republican who was probably the most highly respected law enforcement official in the country, yet another matter of partisan polarization.

“Trump spent two years attacking Mueller and his team, seeking to discredit the investigation, calling it a “Witch Hunt” over 170 times. Just today, he called the investigation an “Illegally Started Hoax that never should have happened”  (see point #8), with the “Crazy Mueller Report ... written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters” containing “total bullshit”.  Sadly, it worked. By the time the (redacted) Report was made public yesterday, Republicans were fully invested in defending him from anything it might contain. Leading that defense is Attorney General Barr.” (See point #9.)

Daggatt refers back to March 22, 2017, when Mueller was appointed special counsel to oversee an investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“Mueller’s (redacted) Report quotes Trump saying at that time, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”  (Needless to say, not the reaction of an innocent person.)… Trump had repeatedly insisted there had been no contacts between Russia and his campaign. He had told the American people he had no business dealings in Russia. Trump even refused to acknowledge that Russia interfered in the election to benefit his campaign (“It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, ok?”). That was the starting point of Mueller’s investigation, which initially had strong bipartisan support.”

He continues: “Two years later, there is no doubt whatsoever of the role Russia played in the campaign. As Mueller states, “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” And there has been documented over 140 contacts between Trump and at least 18 of his associates with Russian nationals and WikiLeaks, or their intermediaries, during the 2016 campaign and presidential transition. Their scope is staggering.” 

Daggatt asserts that across the last two years, while the Republican voter base has shrunk, what remains has rallied every-more volcanically behind Trump, till almost no Republican will dare say a word amid a giant Nuremberg rally of outthrust salutes. (My metaphor, not Russ’s.)

== Stark jibbering… ==
Red-Fox America’s reflexive excuse-making for this tsunami of treason – along with all-out war against every fact-using profession -- can only end at the ballot box, and that repudiation must be overwhelming, or Putin and Murdoch will then turn to their last resort: spurring a more violent phase of civil war.

Each of us knows RASRs – Residually Adult-Sane Republicans – who are writhing unhappily, wallowing in “whatabout” rationalizations and “I know my side’s gone nuts, but democrats are just as bad” incantations. If just half a million of these at-core-decent neighbors get cornered, forced to face the full monstrosity of it all, and peeled away from the Putin-Fox coalition, then a Big Tent can welcome them. A tent of national and world salvation that’s broad enough to offer safety and a voice to Eisenhower… and yes, even Reagan… conservatives. If only they will help.

But first they must be hammered. Grabbed by the lapel. Read-to aloud. As with this article: “Here's the 1 thing the Mueller report proves beyond a shadow of a doubt.” Its most telling excerpt is about
 White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who, in May 2017, said this in the wake of the firing of FBI Director Comey:

"The President, over the last several months, lost confidence in Director Comey. The DOJ [Department of Justice] lost confidence in Director Comey. Bipartisan members of Congress made it clear that they had lost confidence in Director Comey. And most importantly, the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director."

Pressed by reporters on that that last comment -- about the "rank and file" losing confidence in Comey -- suggesting that the rank and file were supportive of Comey, Sanders responded this way: "We've heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things."

Ah, but here's what Mueller wrote about the episode: "Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from 'countless members of the FBI' was a 'slip of the tongue.' She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made 'in the heat of the moment' that was not founded on anything."

When your RASR shrugs over things like this, counter with WODI: “What If Obama Did It?”

(Someone out there! Take a dozen damning Mueller Report passages and change the names from Trump etc. to Obama/Clinton, with appropriate-minima tweaks. Offer it to us: Benghazi! We can show to our RASRs so they’ll be enraged at that a democratic president did such things! Then spring the trap: “Oops, that wasn’t Obama, after all. Why weren’t you enraged that a GOP president actually did this?”  All right, that’s too-clever, by half. So then stick with facts… and wagers (they always run.)

You need to be part of this.  Yes, you.

If “all Heaven rejoices over a repentant sinner,” then all of America, civilization and all future generations depend on the RASRs we peel off. Them… plus the non-voters, who are actually worse in their smug, dullard-cynicism.




If Rage and Stupidity are now the dfense points held by the US AG, then why aren't we talking again about the 15th Amendment. The House + a critical mass of GOP senators need to slip into a bill some kind of "commission of national sages" for some advisory matter... then add "The Vice President may appeal to this council as an "other body" established by Congress for purposes of the 25th Amendment."


Treebeard said...

You are a hilariously paranoid dude. But these matters are small potatoes compared to the real Enemy, which has declared war upon us, our children, the United States of America, the human species, and all life on earth. Yes, I'm talking about the vast cosmic conspiracy called the Universe, which is out to kill us all, and if we don't do something soon, like become god and fight back, we, our children, our nation, our species everything else we hold dear are doomed.

Deuxglass said...


Dude, you mean (gasp!) that birth leads to death and that Universe and ourselves will eventually end and that you personally aim to obtain godhood in order to escape this dastardly Fate? Good luck to that!

Mike Will said...

I now mostly understand the civil war metaphor-history-analysis. And of course, this is an almost entirely American discussion forum, so have at it. While the civil war rages, however, Pax Americana has been rapidly dissolving. The world is moving on. Putin may have succeeded, but what's being assembled (esp in 'Charlemagne' Europe and much of the 'other' Americas) is a new dawn of democracy and rationalism that oligarchs will detest and fear much more. I'm too busy/lazy to properly make the case, but one anecdote illustrates it well. In Mexico, scientists are moving a forest 1,000 feet up a mountain to save the Monarch butterfly. They're spending on biodiversity instead of a wall. When the true cost of the Cheeto's xenophobia and trade wars are finally tallied, it'll be all over but the crying. As is often the case, the huckster's supporters will pay the heaviest cost.

David Brin said...

Mike Will, you jest? Eastern Europe is a flame with populist Nazi wannabes. Brexit roils the West along with yellow vests. China is crowing that they'll lead a world domination by confucian-Maoism. This is our 1942... if we're lucky.

Poor Treebeard. He doesn't know. If we do well in this simulation, the game will be copied and sold a bazillion times in the world one-layer-up. Put that in your nihilism pipe n' smoke it.

Mike Will said...

@Dr. Brin
I said Charlemagne Europe (Germany, France, lowlands, etc). And definitely not China.

Creigh Gordon said...

People keep talking about proof beyond reasonable doubt. But that standard applies to proceedings which may result in "deprivation of life, liberty, or property." Impeachment is not that kind of proceeding, and proof beyond reasonable doubt is not the appropriate standard.

TCB said...

All I can say is, the Rosenbergs hurt the country less than the Trumps have, and they got the hot squat.

Aaaaaaaaand there must be a literal million people in US prisons who were convicted with less evidence than Mueller found.

Bill Oliver said...

What I don't understand is that everyone is completely absorbed by whether or not #45 and his minions are or are not guilty of treason, obstruction, etc, but ignoring the greatest conclusion of the Mueller report. Russia actively and with purpose, meddled in our election! That's an act of war! It's a shot across the bow, and everyone is claiming it's just thunder!

TCB said...

"Russia actively and with purpose, meddled in our election! That's an act of war!"

Yes, and in our country the Commander in Chief is the very guy the enemy helped install.

So WTF do YOU, Bill Oliver, recommend we do now?

David Brin said...

Bill Oliver... "everyone"? Crank it down from 11, son.

The GOP must stand up for every kind of cheating because they are in demographic collapse. Russian electoral meddling was an act of war and merits a formal declaration and an economic blockade. But Gerrymandering is more important.

Donald Trump is not the most important American, nor Mueller. That man is John Roberts.

If he decides to be an American first, we might be saved. If not, then this will likely go to a hot civil war. Revolution and tumbrels. A few, in the aristocracy, are realizing it.

duncan cairncross said...

Dr Brin
While Gerrymandering IS a major problem in the USA - and I like some form of proportional representation to fix it -
I would say your biggest problem is voter registration
The US voting rates look terrible - but if you look at the percentage of REGISTERED voters they are not as bad (not good but not terrible)

The problem comes in the registration process
If I was "in charge" (a horrific idea) I would use your Social Security Number as a unique identifier - the whole thing not just part of it on PUBLIC voter databases - it would then be trivial to remove duplicates and you could have a target of registering ALL citizens before they reach voting age

Ckosanovich said...

"a sitting President cannot be indicted" This statement has always worried me because, and since we are talking Donald Trump here it's not alarmist since we know he TRIED to do this, it in effect allows the POTUS to write the following note “It is by my order and for the good of the state that the bearer of this has done what he has done."

TCB said...

“It is by my order and for the good of the state that the bearer of this has done what he has done."

Hahhahahah That line is from Richard Lester's movie The Four Musketeers, is it not?

Larry Hart said...


You're right about the Musketeers movie reference. I actually quoted that one a few weeks back, although I don't remember the context now.

That was a period in which Michael York was in every movie, from the Musketeers duology to Caberet to Logan's Run. I actually imagined him "playing" Gordon when I first read The Postman.

Jon S. said...

In fact, Dr. Brin, one need not succeed in obstructing justice in order to be charged. Indeed, were that required, it would be almost impossible to obtain a conviction, as when one is successful at obstructing an investigation it cannot logically find one guilty.

You can be charged and convicted of suborning perjury for offering a bribe to a witness in a criminal case, even if the witness in question declines the bribe. Similarly, you can be charged and convicted of obstruction of justice when the only reason it failed was because an underling quietly refused to carry out your orders.

Larry Hart said...

@Jon S,

All you say applies to a normal citizen. The thing is, though, a sitting president can't be charged with obstruction of justice because a sitting president can't be charged with anything. Because the agency responsible for the charging--the US Department of Justice--has a policy against indicting a sitting president, who also happens to be their boss.

Furthermore, William Barr argues that a president can't obstruct justice because he's the boss of the agency that administers justice. The closest analogy I can think of is an argument that an umpire can't make a bad call because whatever call he makes becomes the actual ruling on the play, and is therefore accurate.

Or maybe King Louis XIV declaring "L'etat? C'est moi!" A king can't commit treason because treason by definition is a betrayal of the king.

Our government was specifically set up not to treat the president as a king, but 40-some percent of Americans apparently can't conceive of such a state of affairs.

David Brin said...

Duncan a number of states have instituted "motor-voter" where you automatically register to vote when gettin a driver's license, unless you assertively ask to opt out. It's resulted in a big uptick in registration (with some initial glitches.) Mostly blue states, of course. But Georgia did it. If FLA does, plus restored felon rights, then the FL nightmare might ease.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin
That would have caught us when we are growing up but a lot of my son's friends simply don't get driver's licenses
He is only now going through his 18 months as a restricted driver and he is 24

But every step helps

Slim Moldie said...

Thank you, Creigh Gordon!..."people keep talking about proof beyond reasonable doubt... and proof beyond reasonable doubt is not the appropriate standard."

And when PBS gives you headline that says: "Barr says Mueller found no ‘collusion’ between Trump campaign and Russia" do we understand that legally speaking it means nothing? Except that both sides can blame the "enemy of the people."

Check out former FBI agent Asha Rangappa's piece in the NYT, how the word "Collusion" was used in a “uniquely Russian technique of psychological manipulation through disinformation."


Putin understands David's Judo.

Maybe we could use Judo on the states that don't allow a paper trail with their voting systems?

locumranch said...

Mueller asks us to believe that the act of 'encouraging', 'expressing gladness', having 'suspicious associations', and 'doing nothing' to prevent an unspecified other from committing a potential crime is the same as committing, aiding or abetting said crime.

Mueller also argues that failing to self-incriminate and/or bear enthusiastic witness against oneself equals 'obstruction' (a crime) because 5th Amendment protections do not apply to 'Acts of War' (which he defines, in this case, as attempted foreign influence in domestic elections).

He is wrong on all counts:

(1) Encouraging (whatever that means), experiencing shameful joy, associating suspiciously, or doing nothing to prevent a crime is NOT a crime according to US statute; and

(2) Just calling something an 'Act of War' or 'Obstruction', as Mueller has done in this particular case, does NOT automatically convict one of a crime, nullify the US Constitution, or strip Trump of his constitutional protections.

It's also incredibly laughable for Mueller to assert that it is either a 'crime' or an 'act of war' to attempt to influence foreign elections without conceding that the US Government is a vast criminal organisation due to it's incessant attempts to influence foreign elections, as evidenced by the NYT article listed below:

Senator Joseph McCarthy could learn a lot from this ongoing Mueller Investigation, most assuredly.

Like many on the left, our fine host seems to be 'encouraging', 'expressing gladness', associating suspiciously and 'doing nothing' to prevent others from committing vile treason against the duly elected US Chief Executive.

This means that our fine host & all of his 'fellow travellers' have committed a capital crime, at least according to Mueller's argument, which is reason enough to dismiss this rather specious argument out-of-hand.

Unless they want to pay-the-piper, too.


David Brin said...

Please go away, sir. I have asked you nicely. This is not a community where you are appreciated. Please.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Am I the only one to smell something funny in the abrupt resignation of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy?

Not at all. A caller to Thom Hartmann's radio show--last Thursday, I believe--insisted that Barr is auditioning for the next seat on the US supreme court. Like any good story, it explains a lot.

Mike Will said...

A terminology is emerging to describe the fake news phenomenon. The word 'kvaksalvere' (Danish? Estonian?) translates to 'quack seller'. I've always considered lack of bubbly enthusiasm for one's own theories to be a strong indicator of correctness. Planck and Darwin are examples. Kepler invited sincere criticism. Dialectic only works when both sides listen, otherwise you get an 'ekkokammer'. I always liked Asimov because he spent so much time arguing with himself.

Anonymous said...

David Brin said...
Please go away, sir. I have asked you nicely. This is not a community where you are appreciated. Please.

After you called my mention of Golodomor of ukrainians "victimization"...
Of course, you would not dare to teach jew how to talk about Holocaust.But who cares about some stupid ukrs, isn't it?

You are not in position to demand or to say what to do to me. I see no moral obligations toward such (a)moral freak and Putin's useful idiot.
Do as vatniks do -- analnoe ogorajivanie.(you like russian words) :P

Anonymous said...

...lack of bubbly enthusiasm for one's own theories to be a strong indicator of correctness. Planck and Darwin are examples. Kepler invited sincere criticism. Dialectic only works when both sides listen, otherwise you get an 'ekkokammer'...

Mike, thank you, for describing our with mr.Brin conversations... ^)

Anonymous said...

To TiBi...

Do you have a plan? Of how to become God? ;) Because if no, or just plan to use modern medicine alone -- you are busted.

Ask me... how to become one. ;)

To Loco...

you are just plebeian, with your readiness to mob under and on behalf of wealthy and powerful... ;P

Non-honored mr.brin (bin? %)), thank you for this possibility to rephrase myself. :P

duncan cairncross said...

Ayup Dr Brin
Can you just block "anonymous" completely - please

Anonymous said...

Yep-yep Duncan! Let's make your information bubble into complete echo-chamber... where only voice of mr.brin and his loyal servant/echo locum would be. :))) Pretty Please. %)

Anonymous said...

Larry Hart said...


Dr Brin probably doesn't even want me to say this, but just this one time, I'll give the advice that Dave Sim gave to me which made me a fan even though we were mortal enemies politically.

If you're truly interested in being accepted as a contributing member, lurk for a while. Don't talk; just listen. Get to understand the cultural dynamic of the place first. Then, cautiously, offer an opinion or two and judge the reaction. Adjust as necessary. In short, "Learn your place".

I don't want anyone banned, and if I did, you wouldn't be my first choice, but it's not my blog or my rules. No one is calling for you to go away because of your political views. It's all about behavior, spoiling the well, making the comments impossible to read for anyone else. And doubling down on insisting that no, you are behaving correctly and everyone else is wrong--that only digs the hole deeper.

There was actually one person on the old "Cerebus" list who had to be banned for similar reasons--the only one ever to be so. He actually learned his lesson and came back a year later as a productive member. I hope for a similar outcome here. But as I say, not my blog, not my rules.


NoOne said...

Even though this was not probably David's intent, the article gives the impression that the Steele dossier was "tainted fruit." I have to disagree. An enormous amount of the Steele dossier was borne out by indictments etc. Furthermore, Mueller's report says nothing about Trump's finances. The Steele dossier has a lot of information on Trump's finances and the importance of Deutsche Bank in potential money laundering from Russia. My worry is that since SDNY is actually under Barr. it can be quashed. However, the New York AG is independent and has opened civil investigations into Trump's finances. This is the greatest threat to Trump.

Smurphs said...

From the last post, Dr Brin said:

"Smurphs, you are answering him? Dang, I could drink enough coffee..."

I don't know what it was, I usually skip him, but yes, I was answering Loco directly. Actually not him directly, but what he said. I abhor the stupid rationalizations I here today, "Both sides do it", "They're all the same", etc.

Both sides are NOT the same, this has been proven demonstrably, legally, indict-ably (I know, not a real word, but it fits).

On a separate issue from the last post, I am embarrassed that I responded to Tim W. about his "ABSENCE of solid evidence" remark. Tim has shown himself to be a smart and reasonable man, who does his research before he speaks. He was obviously just lightly trolling us (in fun), and I misread it.

Tim, I apologize.

Anonymous said...

Wow, a bunch of stuff from pbot/Anonymous that I expect will disappear as soon as Dr. Brin wakes up, or gets home from church, or whatever he does on Easter morning.

Don't worry Doc, it was not worth reading. He's getting worse.

Happy Easter to all!

Phaedrusnailfile said...

Bill Oliver and Slim, I humbly ask one question; If we put our democracy up for sale then why are we surprised that those who are our enemies decide to buy themselves a piece? Citizens United was a travesty, the true lesson of all of this is that until we listen to Lawerence Lessig and tackle the issue of money in politics this kind of thing will continue to happen. Most people and foriegn powers just wont be so blatantly obvious about what they are doing.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike Will said...

Re: Peter Turchin
A vastly superior intellect to mine (which isn't saying much).

Here's all I'll say. Computational psychohistory can be implemented in Forth. As can general biological systems models (and even 'uplift'). It's not that I'm a genius or possess some deep secret - far from it. I'm quite stupid actually, especially since my stroke. It's just that I know how to build computational models from first principles - quite literally. No libraries, no frameworks, no APIs into vast black boxes. I do smell of solder, but not of doctrine or pathological mathematical abstraction.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike Will said...

When I say 'Forth', I don't mean a 256-byte stack ticking away on a 1 MHz 1978 microprocessor. I'm poor (mostly unemployed), but even I own tens of billions of transistors, and I just trash anything that won't pull at least 2 GHz. Even a simple buggy is quick transport if you upgrade the horse to a warp drive.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Brin said...

Mike Will, I ask you to ignore all anonymous postings for a while. They are clearly fetish bombs being hurled by a person who is too rude, hitting us with pesterings where he is unwelcome.

Mike Will said...

Of course. Will do.

David Brin said...

Here is a peace offering. PBot go make your own blog! You may come here once a week and ioffer a summary of your topics and invite people to go over to comment on your postings.

You are taking advantage of my open door policy, forcing me to ban anonymous postings or even go to a closed comments section.

You are an unpleasant person and your reflexive rage is not welcome here. I ask that you go away. This is our place. Go make your own.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

\\David Brin said...
Here is a peace offering. PBot go make your own blog! You may come here once a week and ioffer a summary of your topics and invite people to go over to comment on your postings.

Give me a reason. Why should I continue to talk with person, who tryed to belittle suffering of My Nation...
without good reason, just because you thought that it sounds too good to not be said
and just in the SAME terms and phrasing as direct and bloody enemy of my people???

Do you really think that is decent behavior?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Larry Hart said...

I see. He doesn't even want to talk to us. Except that's all he does, all day long.

All I'm reminded of is a poem my father used to like:

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today.
I wish, I wish he’d go away!

David Brin said...

I did glance and see this line "Give me a reason. Why should I continue to talk with person..."

No reason! Go away! Do NOT continue to talk to me! Please! Just stop!

"... person, who tryed to belittle suffering of My Nation..."

You lie, that's why! That never happened. It never happened at all. It never happened even remotely. You hallucinate. Everyone else here knows that you hallucinate and make up reasons for rage. That is why I want you to leave.

Frankly, your hallucinations for rage frighten me. No one else here wants you around. We derive no pleasure and gain no knowledge from you.
But I confirm my offer. START YOUR OWN BLOG. You can come here once a month (not week) and tell everyone to come over. Maybe some will visit you.

""Give me a reason. Why should I continue to talk with person..."

NO REASON! Don't talk to me! Don't talk to us. It's a big world. Don't be obsessed with our little corner. Let us have it in peace. Go, in peace.

Larry Hart said...

I can't find a link to the original Chicago Tribune story, but re-typing from paper:

Report exposes all the president's liars

The redacted 448-page Mueller report released Thursday exposed in voluminous detail how the Trump White House is comfortable not only spinning the truth, but outright demolishing it.

Sometimes the president did the lying himself. Sometimes he had others tell lies for him. And sometimes people just lied because they thought it was required of them.


This is why the current administration has no credibility. There's not even any doubt remaining to give the benefit of. Rudy Giuliani is mistaken when he says in his "Truth isn't truth" screed that if Trump says one thing and James Comey says another, there's no way to tell which is correct. The presumption should be that Trump is lying. That Comey would be lying and Trump telling the truth is not credible. That Trump is lying is not only plausible, but the most likely Occam's Razor scenario.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Hey, guys!

The current subject contains waters too perilous for me to navigate, so I can't comment, but I did want to check in and let you all know that I'm still alive. Busy with work, but I'm still able to lurk now and then.

I also wanted to share a writing exercise I did this weekend. It's not part of the story universe I had previously shared, just hammering out a few pages on a fun idea I had while walking home from work the other day, but I used it as a writing exercise, to practice some of the techniques/tips Dr. Brin suggested a few threads back.

The community I posted this in tends to be pretty receptive to the flashy, balls-to-the-wall action stuff, but even considering that tendency, based on the reception I've gotten so far, I think I did good.

I would be interested in hearing any feedback you guys have, though, particularly on the technical aspects.

Anyway, here's my one-off story (which probably isn't going to be a one-off anymore), "Retreat, Hell":

David Brin said...

Ilithi write to me separately by the email you have. There's a contest I am judging right now that I should have told you about! Short mil-SF tales for a DoD program. Tech heavy and action. I'll send stuff to you so you can keep an eye open for next time.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Dr. Brin,

Done. Sounds like a fun contest!

David Brin said...

Again and again. The Trumpists and Putin-Murdoch-Saudi mafias see one way to save their plunging prospects. War. Ideally US-Iran, which would help every bad group in the world, with only one possible end-outcome. Iran becoming a Russian protectorate. You need to shake every Republican friend and get them to know the terms "Tonkin Gulf Incident" and "Gleiwitz Incident" and "Reichstag Fire" and when they say you are being paranoid say "Fine! If it doesn't happen, I owe you dinner. If it does, that's a red line for you and you cross lines to rejoin the Union."

Oh, even if this doesn't lead to war, it is one more example of these guys demolishing our alliances, at Putin request.

locumranch said...

A certain nameless poster seems quite smitten with the 'Superior Virtue of the Oppressed' fallacy, as evidenced by his increasing demands to receive validation for the individual & collective victimisation that his Ukrainian ethnicity, tribe & nation may have experienced in the past.

Of course, pretty much every ethnicity, tribe or nation can and does make this rather pathetic claim, believing that this 'victim identity' somehow (1) confers additional rank, rights, privileges & reparations upon the victim and (2) justifies the ongoing bad behaviour of said victim.

Competition can become quite fierce in this type of 'Oppression Olympics', often meddling seamlessly into the 'Cry-Bully' game wherein the self-identified victim then uses their special status to attack, bludgeon & shame their opponents into sociopolitical submission.

The post-WW1 Germans did it, the Bolsheviks did it, the IRA did it, Pol Pot did it, the Palestinians did it, and women, minorities & the shameless political left continue to do it, believing that this 'victimology' can somehow excuse their inexcusable actions.

Well, this Cry-Bullying Game ends now.

The Natural Order of 'Might Makes Right' reasserts itself, and no longer will the young & strong allow themselves to be bullied by the weak & decrepit.

Only the fantasists imagine that this means the return of Conan's Age of Blood & Iron. It will not. It will happen gradually with a hardening of hearts. First, society will eliminate 'need' as social criteria; and, second, society will confer favour on those who succeed instead of those who fail.

Sure, you may desire social justice, a Trump collusion connection, private transportation or a new hip -- you may even 'need' these things to function & survive -- but you will not receive all-of-the-above unless you are strong enough to earn it.

So dawn goes down to day and nothing gold can stay.


Anonymous said...

>> locumranch said...
\\A certain nameless poster seems quite smitten with the 'Superior Virtue of the Oppressed' fallacy

Sorry Loco, but you as always... it's not about fallacy, it's about respect to dead people, which in a step is respect to alive one
and is basiest rule of humanism and Christianity values. Its what make us (well, not all of us, it seems) human -- respect to the dead.

Well, people... state it clear -- how much of you people here, is on the same train with Loco?

Anonymous said...

>> Larry Hart said...
\\I see. He doesn't even want to talk to us. Except that's all he does, all day long.

Yes Larry. Because I may not respect your views. But I still see you as a people.
The same as with russian vatniks, that have countless crimes against my people in the history, and trying to kill and subdue us now.

You really want me to change this my views? Thinking it's not Ok?
Well, feel free to state what would be better thing to do...

Anonymous said...

>> David Brin said...
\\You lie, that's why! That never happened. It never happened at all.

Well, of course. You keep deleting my comments with direct quotations of YOUR words. So it would look like you are right. :) As any first russian vatnik do.

Another word, doing Just The Same as Putin's Regime trying hard to introduce on their state level -- law to delete any unwanted info from Internet (and then it could be adopted all around the World too... Trump would be glad).

How Larry said it? Godspeed.

Jon S. said...

One day I met upon the stair
A little man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today -
I think he's with the CIA.

- courtesy of MAD Magazine

Anonymous said...

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

dav said...

If David had his way he would have started ww3 by now.
"Grandpa, why are we living in radioactive ruins?
Some Russian in a tracksuit posted a Pepe meme about Hillary, and we had no choice but to launch the missiles. It was her turn, goddammit."

David Brin said...

Did he just say "Godspeed"? Does that mean... he's gone? Crickets? Wheeee. What a relief.

And now we have a "dav" troll, Different voice. Similar level of lunacy. Yeah, sure commie-Kremlin surrenderist traitor. I have put out standard wager offers. You haven't the guts.

Anonymous said...

S.Res.435 - A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate that the 85th anniversary of the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933, known as the Holodomor, should serve as a reminder of repressive Soviet policies against the people of Ukraine.

Anonymous said...

Are US Senate is trolls TOO (non)honored mr.brin?

Are the people of USA's "deep state" and "fact-users" you like to praise so much is trolls TOO?

Or maybe 'Harvest of Sorrow' | by Robert Conquest it's mere trolling? Mere fantasy?

Just into what deeps of indecency you are ready to dive... just to not admit your mistake(s), mr.brin?

Can anyone snap you out of it... or you already beyond redemption?

duncan cairncross said...

So you are saying that our host - who is NOT a Senator should get the blame for something that the Senate did that irritated you?
The logic escapes me

Anonymous said...

I. Was blamed here. By mr.brin. For that alone. That I was so shameless to mention here about My People murdered by Stalin. David said that it is "bragging about victims" -- what you can see in his comments to last posts.

But it seems, YOUR, US Sanate TOO count it as important thing. To remember and commemorate.

Sorry... I don't know American too well. It seems. So it escapes from my understanding -- how my words here can be understood in such twisted way -- that I blame US Senate, when I do exactly opposite -- praise them, and trying to use it as supporting my claim evidence.

Anonymous said...

Yet one time. To eliminate misunderstandings.

I DO PRAISE US Senate... for their resolution to commemorate Holodomor -- Genocide of Ukrainians.

And condemn Putin's Poisonous Propaganda, which trying to belittle and to placate crimes of Stalin.

Anonymous said...

Way back in the days before the internet, there was a BBS who's operator set everything up and then assumed that the online community could run smoothly without interference. Sadly it didn't work, because a very small subset of the users decided it was fun to disrupt things, so the operators had to retake control to avoid destruction of the community. It might have been The Well, but my memory is getting unreliable.

What stuck in my mind was their comment that no working adult has as much time to fix things as a teenaged boy has to break them.

Applicability to the current situation should be obvious.

Jon S. said...

P-bot, dude - you misunderstood something said during a discussion of political theory, taking it as a personal attack. Rather than reacting as a reasonable person, asking "Did you mean this statement in this way?", you chose to react with "retaliatory" insults. And you've done nothing but escalate since.

The grownups are trying to have a conversation here. Please, for the love of Cthulhu, go take your whining to your own blog. Anyone here who thinks you have a point can then go read your stuff there, and we can converse in peace here. I promise, if you do this, I won't go bother you there.

And this "dav" - the process of creating fake accounts in order to bolster your own ideas is called "sockpuppetry". It's generally frowned upon in most Internet circles.

Tacitus said...

After a glorious weekend with family at home I make no apologies for not having read the Mueller report in all its glory. I suppose the duties of citizenship require me to do so in the days ahead.

A brief survey of the conversational debris field above should generate a measure of sympathy for those who must redact....

I have glanced at a few parts that help answer questions I have had. In particular how Podesta basically handed the campaign's secrets over. It is instructive.

Narratives, either true or contrived, only work when they reinforce actual concerns. As someone who has no general animus towards a political party or philosophy, but often has specific issues with some candidates or campaign themes, this influences my perceptions. Rank partisans probably can't be influenced by anything short of hard radiation that penetrates ten miles into bedrock.

Hillary Clinton ran an inept campaign. In this context evidence of additional ineptitude - and ineptitude sans consequences - made me worry that her administration would be more o' the same. Podesta fell for the sort of spearphishing scam that my spamcatcher account identifies and quarantines daily. The IT staff had been warned twice by the FBI prior to this event and decided no big deal. The specific IT staffer that was queried on the matter sent a muddled, ambiguous message that he claims had a simple typo. And Podesta clicks the link....

So who gets fired? Nobody. John Podesta gets a gig with the Washington Post. The PR group he founded with his brother Tony seems to have ducked for cover...not surprising given the remarkable amount of business they did with Ukraine, Russia and Azerbaijan. (They even worked with Manfort! Now to be fair John had officially left years ago but it is plausible that the association with the presumptive incoming Clinton admin was still golden).

And the actual guy who seems to have "misled" regards the nature of the link? In this interview:

he says he kept on working for the campaign to the end and actually seemed surprised that anyone would assume otherwise.

Trump represents many things I decry. But he does fire people who need firing. Also some who don't deserve it.

A job in government, or in the shadow government that a campaign represents, should never be a sinecure. Do well and prosper. Screw up and get fired.

I won't go into the extent to which H.Clinton was "mendacious". There is a continuum from campaign trail fatigue, through spin, and out into frank lying. I did have concerns regards her physical fitness for the Presidency. Widely condemned as Fake News of course, but when she collapsed on the way out of the 9/11 memorial and almost smacked her anticoagulated self to the pavement I first began to think she might find a way to do the unthinkable....lose to Donald Trump.

Note for those who are firing up the Indignation Engines, I did not vote for Trump. Could I have done more for H.Clinton had she been honest with how close the polls were in WI? Oh yes. Did she know or was she spinning? Take your pick here of incompetent campaign staff or ill chosen mendacity..


Anonymous said...

>> Jon S. said...
\\P-bot, dude - you misunderstood something said during a discussion of political theory, taking it as a personal attack.

Gaslighting again.
Here is my words, from second post before this, where it started: "its my people, my relatives, was slaughtered during that marxists historical experiments..." -- its MY people history, MY people suffering and loses... what's the problem can be to anyone to understand that simple truth???

And quick and angry response.

\\David Brin said...
\\Do not lecture me about relatives lost in European wars. I have no 3rd, 4th or 5th cousins. I wonder why?

What? How? Can you explain to me -- what I did wrong? what my dead folk did to mr.brin to deserve it? what I said wrong? How it related?

Why? History of my people and their suffering cannot be painfully important for me? What, it's to mr.brin to decide true it or not?

I'm totally confused.

\\Rather than reacting as a reasonable person, asking "Did you mean this statement in this way?", you chose to react with "retaliatory" insults.

Well. Guilty. And I see no problem to admit it. Only... it is not I who started to gaslight and to apply ad hominem.
And in any case -- it's not I who started to use neo-nazi-like excuse about "victim bragging". THE SAME, as Putin Propaganda uses on my people.

And I was ready, and still ready to reconcile our misunderstanding and/or differences in views. But it takes two to tango.

Anonymous said...

>> Jon S. said...

And... here is much more grave issue -- is it Ok to you, that mr.brin repeating Putin's Propaganda Missive?
That Ukrainians talking about Holodomor -- its just "victim bragging" or trying to claim some reparations?
Where and how he catched that virus? And why and how he can be so adamant in following that outrageous lie?

That is how Russian Poisonous Propaganda using Filter Bubbles.

Mike Will said...

Here's someone who explains my "The world is moving on" point from earlier in the discussion better than I can and from an American perspective. FWIW I've never watched David Pakman, and I know nothing about that show (I visit YouTube for robotics news and programming tutorials). I refer to this to only to clarify, not to bolster. The body language of the four leaders in the pic pretty much sums things up anyway.

New Alliance Doesn't Include USA

Deuxglass said...

When Twitter eliminated those millions of fake accounts I wondered where those poor orphan bots would go. Now I know.

David Brin said...

Well, our hopes were dashed. This is a sick, sick liar. He has lied top to bottom about everything having to do with my statements and my beliefs. I have always sympathized with Ukrainian independence and have always noted stalin's crimes. His supposed 'proof" of my hostility to Ukraine only proves that he is insane.

I have asked him politely to go away. He compulsively returns to where he is not wanted, hurling feces at our house, thinking his own house is safe. After this, all postings by him will be trashed, and none remain. If I must, we will have to ban anonymous postings. Any that slip through will be ignored.

Perhaps it will help if each of you speaks up and asks him to please go away. But I doubt it.

Deuxglass said...

Mike Will,

I watched the clip and he underwhelms me. It was a lot of cherry-picked blah-blah and it is clear, at least to me, that he knows little of European politics, the nature of treaties or how alliance are made. Nevertheless he said it in a reasoned manner and wears the popular four-day beard so I bet that he does have a following.

Deuxglass said...


Please answer. Are you a bot or not? If yes then please go away. If no then go away anyway.

Larry Hart said...

Good news (for us) on Pence:

Speaking of vice presidents who might just be out of step with the times, we give you Mike Pence. There's no question that he's a devout evangelical Christian. In fact, he might be the most prominent evangelical Christian in the nation, now that Billy Graham is dead. Consequently, Pence gets a lot of invitations to speak at religious schools, particularly during graduation ceremonies. And he doesn't always receive a warm reception; students at a number of these schools have either walked out on Pence, or have tried to persuade university leaders to disinvite him.

Given that he is seen as future presidential timber or, at very least, a shining example of fundamentalist Christian belief, many conservative leaders are "alarmed" at the response to Pence. And they should be, because this is the latest sign of the declining political power of evangelicals, who will not have the numbers to dominate the Republican Party for much longer.

This demographic change actually has two elements to it. The first is that religiosity, in general, is in decline in the United States. Gallup's latest poll on the matter, released last week, reveals that the percentage of Americans who report belonging to a church, synagogue or mosque (50%) is at an all-time low. That continues a recent trend that has seen church membership drop by 20% in less than 20 years, and that will likely mean that 2020 will be the first year on record that more Americans are non-churchgoing than are churchgoing

The second element is that many of those young people who have decided to stick with their church are nonetheless unhappy with the politics of the evangelical movement. They don't like the anti-gay stuff, the anti-immigrant stuff, and they struggle to understand the embrace of Donald Trump. These are the folks who are walking out on Mike Pence.

There's no clear solution here. In the 1960s, the Catholic Church decided that maybe some of the things that were turning young people off (like, say, Latin services) were not so essential, and so made some changes (like, say, services in the local language). Evangelicals could conclude that maybe being anti-gay, etc. is not essential (after all, Jesus' message was about love, not hate), but that has been the core of their politcal identity for half a century now. Further, backing off on some of the political stuff won't change the overall drift away from religion. The point is that anyone who thinks that Mike Pence is the face of the Republican Party of the 20s needs to realize that is only true if we're talking about the 1920s. Or, to be entirely precise, the 1720s.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

I'm even more hesitant to proffer advice in your direction--after all, it is your blog and your rules. Nevertheless, I feel I must try.

You've made your point with p-bot. To all third-party observers, the respective merits of each side are pretty clear by now. If I were you, I would not try any further to argue about the specifics of his disagreements with you. Doing so comes across as "both sides do it".

Delete his posts if you must. Aside from that, I'd ignore him the way I ignore locumranch.

Larry Hart said...

And now, Bad bad news for us (albeit delivered with a bit of snark)...

For the first time, the United States has made a list that (presumably) no country wants to make: the five most dangerous countries in the world for journalists to ply their trade. Joining the U.S. on the list are Mexico, India, Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen (there are six entries because the U.S. and India tied for fifth place).

What is the cause of this newfound status, which is based on the number of journalists who are killed, detained, kidnapped, or who disappear? Quite often, it is the outbreak of a war, but there is no war going on in the United States right now. Another possible cause would be if someone in a position of power was constantly declaring the press and/or journalists to be an enemy, a threat, dishonest, evil, etc., thus encouraging violent action against them. Our staff researchers are looking into whether there is any such person who said (or tweeted) such things in, say, the last year or two.

Mike Will said...


Yes, I wasn't using David Pakman as a supporting argument, only as a simple 3rd party utterance of the emerging Germany-France-Canada-etc alliance that is a real thing. I know this from my Ethical AI readings, not from any deep understanding of European politics. In France, one tends to get the impression that only the French do or ever will understand geopolitics :) In Canada (La Nouvelle France), the perspective is a bit different because we never took the 1789 off-ramp.

Deuxglass said...

Mike Will,

The French understand everything better than anyone else. It just comes with that indescribable quality of being French. Living here has taught me that.

This alliance is more a consultation to support certain international institutions rather than an actual alliance. In the Cold War Era and early Post-Cold war Era the relationship was top down rather than a relationship of equals which is why everyone looked to the US as "leader". If you believe that we are in a multi-polar world now then you should expect that the top down relationship no longer holds. The world is no longer "black and white" but grey because countries now have more choice about whom they can have military, cultural and economic ties. It is not surprising that countries do explore other options these days. They shop and discretely sleep around to see if they can get a better deal.

The French-German axis has been around since the War basically but just as in Charlemagne's time it is inherently instable. It didn't last for long after his death and now that the Cold War is dead, the same centrifugal forces are doing their work.

Larry Hart said...

@Mike Will,

You bring up a point I had never considered before, but now I'm curious. What was the sensibility of Canada--specifically French Canada--with regard to the French Revolution?

Mike Will said...

Re: La Nouvelle France

Summer festivals in Quebec have a sweet 'Hail to the far-off and never-seen king' vibe. It's quite lovely. Les Québécois are a very proud and independent people, not colonials or provincials at all in mindset. Their provincial government is called 'The National Assembly'. In the decades before the French Revolution, pre-Canada was deeply torn (Plains of Abraham and Expulsion of the Acadians). The fact that we survived as a nation is one of the great astonishments of world history. Perhaps it was mutual hatred of the English (I'm from Scottish stock) :)

Also, goose-stepping parades and 'trillion bullet' talk wouldn't work here. Just too distant from hockey talk. Time for another pull of tree sauce.

Deuxglass said...

Their relationship with France is complicated. The fact that in the Treaty of Paris 1763, France traded away Canada to the British for the return of Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean must hurt. Here in France they hardly ever talk about Quebec unless Céline Dion is in town. The Québécois know that France abandoned them.

TCB said...

>The fact that in the Treaty of Paris 1763, France traded away Canada to the British for the return of Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean must hurt.


Caribbean islands are fine places, but they stopped being strategically critical assets as soon as seagoing ships started moving under their own steam.


David Brin said...

Nope TCB. It was about Sugar.

Alfred Differ said...

Even with steam, small islands were useful if one could support fuel depots. Look at the islands the British acquired in war-ending treaties and the strategy is obvious. For them, the fuel was coal. For the US, the fuel has been oil. The depot has to be defendable, though.

Trading away Quebec made sense because they still had Louisiana. Let’s face it. The Mississippi basin is more valuable than the St Lawrence system. Keeping Caribbean islands kept them in future fights for the real money making regions, though, and that really WAS about sugar. The Mississippi system didn’t dwarf that income for some time and that income did not accrue to the British.

Those islands stopped being strategically critical assets when the British turned their focus of empire to the other side of the world.

Regarding p-bot, I’d be willing to drop by occasionally and read and comment on his blog, but not if he continues to fight here. At this point it doesn’t matter who is right or wrong. The fight is needless. Worse, it does harm to the opinions some of us might share in common with him.

Alfred Differ said...

I don’t think the ‘Rage and Stupidity’ Defense will stand up well. I was taught very young the simple catch phrase ‘Ignorance is no defense’ and then learned a few of the exceptions people make to that. For example, children can’t be held accountable fi the adults responsible for educating them fail to do so. An immigrant might not escape conviction regarding laws unknown to them, but a competent defense lawyer will still try to get a hung jury or get their client a decent plea deal. There are a few other blurry areas where the catch phrase is moderated, but they don’t include stupidity and tend to reject rage.

Acceptance of rage as a defense would be a lot like accepting ‘I was drunk’ as a defense regarding crimes committed while under the influence. We’ve done that in the past, but the trend has been working against it recently.
“I didn’t rape her because I was too drunk to be responsible for myself.”
“I didn’t commit vehicular manslaughter because I was too drunk when I drove into them.”
Think on those and compare…
“I didn’t murder my wife when I caught her in the act because I was too enraged to be responsible for myself.”
“I didn’t murder my child when I lost custody in the divorce settlement because I was too angry to have intent.”

Acceptance of stupidity as a defense CAN be more easily accomplished, but it raises Amendment 25 options. If our President really wants to claim he is stupid, I’m inclined to let him. If he does so publicly and sincerely and resigns, I’d actually be inclined to let him off the hook regarding collusion and obstruction. I wouldn’t try to stop the States or DoJ pursuing other charges, though. 8)

Not going to happen, of course.

Alfred Differ said...

It is possible to coordinate actions between parties without passing messages between parties. The messages are necessary for ‘conspiracy’ crimes, but no required for other ethical breeches. There are other, less political examples we can use for comparison.

If I short a stock and then help start rumors that drive down its price, I might be able to do it well enough to make a tidy profit when I cover my short position later. Doing so is generally viewed as unethical, but it can be hard to catch. The most influential people and companies can be watched as they are more likely to succeed in this strategy, but nothing is perfect. Using this strategy is unnecessary, though, if one knows enough about human behavior in equity markets.
1. I might short the stock after hearing about news that is not publicly known and trust that it soon will be and further trust my judgement of the way the market will move. Unethical? Not really. See any messages for a conspiracy charge? There is a message, but it won’t be enough for conviction because it is too general.
2. I might short the stock and let others know I had done so. My friends might start the rumors with no direction from me on a belief that I’ll do the same for them some day when they stand to benefit. Unethical? I think so. See a conspiracy qualified message? Heh. Good luck getting a conviction. You’d have to watch every investment club big and small to defend against this.
3. I might short the stock in a BIG way causing the market to notice and make up its own beliefs about the mystery seller. Unethical? Not really. I’m speculating on their response more than I am on the stock I short.

From what we know so far, it appears Trump had a Russian ‘friend’ in that the Russian government, in its own foreign policy interests, preferred him over Clinton in the 2016 election. It’s also obvious the original policy interest was “Anyone but Clinton” since their Op started before Trump became a candidate. It’s not hard for ‘friends’ to coordinate what they do without any messaging if they understand each other’s objectives. In this case, that could make conspiracy difficult to prove. However, it raises the much more interesting charge that can only be levelled at Trump in the House. If Trump’s people knew the objectives of their ‘friend’, they can be charged with aiding that ‘friend’ who just so happened to be a hostile foreign government living under active sanctions.
The House should pursue impeachment on two charges so far. The first is aiding a hostile foreign power in achieving its foreign policy goals while that power was sanctioned. The second is obstructing justice with intent to hide the aforementioned aid and other incidental crimes uncovered along the way by various prosecutorial teams.

Initiation of formal impeachment hearings can reasonable wait for hearings involving Mueller, Rosenstein, and Barr. Unless Mueller states openly to Congress it was not his intent for his report to be used as a road map for impeachment and/or later indictments, though, it is NOT reasonable for the House to avoid their duty to formalize impeachment charges. High Crimes and Misdemeanors do appear in the record of evidence so far and more seem likely to be found in the near future as financial matters are examined. The House would abdicate an important power assigned in in the Constitution if it failed to execute its duty.

Mike Will said...

Dr. Brin: Nope TCB. It was about Sugar.

Ironic indeed to give up such a vast tracts of Maple trees for cane plantations on a few tiny islands. Time for another pull of tree sauce.

Re: Mueller
Rage and stupidity defense: WTF? I thought you people had lots of actual lawyers down there. Who is this Barr guy and what have you done with the real AG?

Mike Will said...

And somebody please tell Rudy to stop slouching and going bug-eyed and crazy-faced. He looks like Quasimodo having a stroke.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

If our President really wants to claim he is stupid, I’m inclined to let him.

His base likes him because he's stupid. He's "one of them" who made good, despite complete lack of qualifications for the position.

The base will never desert Trump, and the Republican Party will never stop courting the base, since that's really all they've got left. The only hope is for the rest of us Real Americans to get our act together and beat them at the ballot box.

David Brin said...

That and cheating. Which is why the fate of the Republic may hinge on one man. John Roberts always mattered far more than Mueller.

duncan cairncross said...

Interesting article about US voting machines

The more I know the more I LIKE paper ballots - sorted into piles by humans

Larry Hart said...

Paul Krugman agrees with Alfred Differ:

Never mind attempts to spin this story as somehow not meeting some definitions of collusion or obstruction of justice. The fact is that the occupant of the White House betrayed his country.

Paul Krugman agrees with me:

As I said, the modern G.O.P. is perfectly willing to sell out America if that’s what it takes to get tax cuts for the wealthy.

Once you accept this reality, two conclusions follow.

First, anyone expecting bipartisanship in dealing with the aftermath of the Mueller report — in particular, anyone suggesting that Democrats should wait for G.O.P. support before proceeding with investigations that might lead to impeachment — is being deluded. Trump is giving the Republican establishment what it wants, and it will stick with him no matter what.

Paul Krugman fears the worst:

Second, it’s later than you think for American democracy. Before 2016 you could have wondered whether Republicans would, in extremis, be willing to take a stand in defense of freedom and rule of law. At this point, however, they’ve already taken that test, and failed with flying colors.

The simple fact is that one of our two major parties — the one that likes to wrap itself in the flag — no longer believes in American values. And it’s very much up in the air whether America as we know it will survive.

Larry Hart said...

It's impossible to parody Trump's nominees:

Meanwhile, past media appearances and op-eds by Stephen Moore, Trump's other nominee, are the gift that just keeps giving (at least, for the reporters who work for CNN's KFile). The latest dirt they've dug up is a series of op-eds in which Moore blasted women's participation in sports. He was particularly aggrieved at the notion of female basketball referees, wondering if there's any place left "where men can take vacation from women." He suggested that the annual March Madness men's basketball tournament would be better with "No more women refs, no women announcers, no women beer vendors, no women anything."

David Smelser said...

Trump declared his candidacy in 2015.
The Russian's started their operation in 2014.

How long before a candidate officially declares his candidacy does the candidate make the decision?

In 1999, Trump formed an exploratory committee for his nomination of the Reform Party and hired Roger Stone as director of the exploratory committee.

"Witnesses who have appeared before Mueller’s investigators have contradicted Trump’s timeline. They say Trump had flirted with running for president as far back as 2011 and began to consider running seriously after GOP nominee Mitt Romney lost to President Obama in 2012, people with knowledge of the matter said." -fox business article.

In 2013, Trump hosts the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow. Read:
For all the Russian-Trump links created from that event.

These same contacts were the source of the 2016 Trump Tower meeting re: damaging information about Hillary Clinton and Don Jr.'s "“If it’s what you say I love it.” email.

The Russians didn't just want "anyone but Clinton", they wanted someone who would remove sanctions (worth at least a trillion dollars). Russia's interactions with Trump started before the cyber intelligence operation.

Darrell E said...

Larry Hart said...

"Paul Krugman agrees with Alfred Differ:"

"Never mind attempts to spin this story as somehow not meeting some definitions of collusion or obstruction of justice. The fact is that the occupant of the White House betrayed his country."

Yeah. I think that has been clear beyond a reasonable doubt for quite some time too. I am intrigued (among other things) that otherwise seemingly reasonable people, our own Tim / Tacitus for one example, are still trying to spin this to themselves and others, still trying to portray this as comparable to or not as bad as Democrat shenanigans, still trying to portray their position as reasonable, still trying to deflect with *Hillary* and or *Obama*. To them I say, you are delusional in this. You are being completely unreasonable. You are culpable in the severe damage being perpetrated on our foundational institutions by lending tacit support to the serious scumbags wielding the wrecking bars. Intentional or not you are hurting your country and the ideals it is supposed to hold dear, and that you claim to hold in high regard. Wake the Fuck Up.

"Paul Krugman agrees with me:"

"As I said, the modern G.O.P. is perfectly willing to sell out America if that’s what it takes to get tax cuts for the wealthy."

Yeah, I'm with you on this too. Been pointing this out for years. At least since Obama it has been clearly evident to anyone not overcome by bias or the fire-hose of big-lie-propaganda continuously sprayed by the Republican machine since at least Rove. And I say that as a life-long registered Republican. (Damn, I have got to get around to changing that, though it really makes no difference.)

"Once you accept this reality, two conclusions follow.

First, anyone expecting bipartisanship in dealing with the aftermath of the Mueller report — in particular, anyone suggesting that Democrats should wait for G.O.P. support before proceeding with investigations that might lead to impeachment — is being deluded. Trump is giving the Republican establishment what it wants, and it will stick with him no matter what."

Yes indeed.

matthew said...

The Senate is at least as important next election as the presidency. One of the benefits of impeachment is to hang Republican Senators with their vote during the "judicial" portion of impeachment proceedings. Ads with Mitch McConnell saying Clinton must be impeached for obstruction / Trump must be acquitted for worse obstruction. Repeat ad in Kentucky X 10000.
Impeachment is political. Dems have the public support. They must use it or have their mandate revoked in 2020.

Mike Will said...

As an Asimovian, I'm always thinking about the long term. I wonder what future parents will tell their children who study these years.

Barbaric tribalism. Brutal misogyny. Mocking the disabled. Cruel scapegoating of exhausted, frightened refugees. Caging of children. Bullying and threatening of steadfast allies who faught heroically against tyranny and for individual rights. Warm embrace of Hitlerian sociopaths. Vilification of noble institutions of justice, the environment, and the free press. Lamentable, shocking, dangerous ignorance of history. Theft of public treasure on a scale that would make pirates blush. Open and prideful ridicule of science.

"The talk" pales in comparison. Good luck.

Deuxglass said...

Mike Will,

You are on a run! Take another pull of tree sauce. I have talked to some Canadians I know and they never use "tree sauce" Is it a local usage for "sirop 'érable" or something different? Please tell me. I am intrigued.

David Brin said...

As the world's democracies struggle vs. orchestrated waves of mafia cheating and incited populist fascism, there are victories. I've proposed unusual tools for reformer presidents to eviscerate endemic corruption, and especially to shatter chains of blackmail that spies have used to suborn nations, going back to the czarist Okrahna. Here's a link to my "Open Letter" - most recently to the new president of El Salvador. But I'm hoping that someone out there will share the idea with _Ukraine's newly landslide-elected president Volodymyr Zelensky_ and the new president of Slovakia.

Somewhere, some time, there will be a reformer with the guts and vision to try this approach. Talk to me. There's more.

Mike Will said...


It comes from a recent TV commercial about identity theft. An American fraudster sits on a moose, holding a jug of maple syrup, a hockey stick, and the identity he stole, while waving the Canadian flag. He salutes 'tree sauce', 'skatey punchy', the noble 'antler cow', and the Red-White-and-Leaf. They should do one about the French - it would be even funnier.

Deuxglass said...

Mike Will,

Please give me the link! That is something I want to see. I love parodies.

Mike Will said...


Couldn't find it on YouTube (was there a couple of months ago). Perhaps it backfired on the original company and they withdrew it. C'est dommage.

Deuxglass said...

Mike Will,

It must have made a deep impression on you because you used the term several times. I will pass by Montreal the next time I visit one of my daughters. My honeymoon was in the Belle Province and I love going back there.

Mike Will said...

Found it on Vimeo.

Deuxglass said...

Mike Will,

Got it, saw it, loved it. The Canada goose in the background is great!

A.F. Rey said...

Just in case any fans missed it:

Vonda McIntyre passed away on April 2.

And Gene Wolfe passed away on April 16.

This has been a bad month. :(

Anonymous said...

This has been a bad month. :(

Yep. Three funerals and a case of terminal cancer — and that's just among friends and relatives.

locumranch said...

Never mind attempts to spin this story as somehow not meeting some definitions of collusion, obstruction or treason. The fact is that the occupant of the White House betrayed your country.

Not my country, not his country, but your country...

A dystopian shithole of reality denial, gender fluidity, sub-replacement birth rates, reparative racism, moral relativism, male marginalisation, historical revisionism, the enslavement of the strong in the service of the weak, and the vilification of justice, free speech & personal autonomy in the service of collective social nicety.

Instead, know that some desire a world of critical thinking, harsh reality, genetic certainty & brutal freedom insomuch as abject misery is preferable to your candy-coated future of padded cells, programmed pleasantries & velvet prisons.

In misery & squalor, at least, there is a type of quiet dignity born from self-sufficient & sacrificial poverty, whereas in your progressive utopia, it seems, exists only repression & conformity.

We therefore repudiate your new world order, your comfy manifesto, your filthy beggar's banquet, and your progressive circle-jerk, for ADULTS prefer to hunger on their feet rather than feast prone upon their bellies, so save your pig slop for infantile progs.


The golden planet of Astrobe, made in the image of Utopia, now faced a crisis which could destroy it forever; and yet, no one could understand it: In a world where wealth & comfort were free to everyone, why did so many desert the golden cities for the slums of Cathead and the Barrio? Why did they turn away from the Astrobe dream and seek lives of bone-crushing work, squalor and disease?

The answer to these questions & more, is available in PAST MASTER, by R. A. Lafferty, published in 1968.

David Brin said...

Ingrate howls from a cosseted beneficiary of a myriad inventions by the more-talented, mass-produced by the more-entrepreneurial, enjoyed under the protection of defenders who are far more-brave, made free by the social innovations of vastly more-enlightened thinkers and statesmen, shown (by visionaries) futures we can demolish or save brilliantly by dint of both shared and individual strivings of devoted citizenship by average people with the will to fight for a better future....

...and of no use except as a hobble around our ankles, screaming despair that is perhaps 1% rooted in true problems, 9% from some lamentable real life exigencies... and 90% from some chemical imbalance that he might do something about, even now, were not OTHER chemicals -- those released by resentment -- so much more addictive.

Too bad, there's something of a light, under all that darkness. Though that's only a guess. Because I never read his howls. Only skim.

Tim H. said...

Larry Hart, I read that Paul Krugman* column, and I heard the late John Candy in my head "Face it, we're not doing it for the money, we're doing it for a shitload of money!". I really don't quite get the hold white supremacy has on some people when folks of any variation seem to have the same range of possibilities as anyone else, whatever Charles Murray might think.
* I don't subscribe to the New York Times, but I use the paltry 5 free articles a month on Paul Krugman.

Mike Will said...

"the late John Candy"

Are you folks trying to make me take another pull of tree sauce? What a lovely soul he was. Quiet, dignified, generous - the walking definition of kindness.

Death of SF writers: loss upon loss. I've only met a few, usually at book fairs or talks, whenever I get a chance, I just say, "please keep writing".

"The science fiction world has a lot of people doing seriously imaginative thinking
- Paul Krugman

"Nineteen Eighty-Four wasn't a failure because the future it predicted failed to come to pass. Rather, it was a resounding success because it helped us prevent that future."
- Robert J. Sawyer

locumranch said...

Consider the term 'ingrate': It means 'not-grateful', 'not-pleasant', 'not-acceptable', not showing, feeling or demonstrating sufficient gratitude.

Now, consider the implications of the term 'grateful': It means beholden, obligated, bound, owing, in debt, servile, constrained, coerced, compelled and enslaved.

This is the terrible lesson that the intelligensia, aristocracy and our self-identified betters most be taught over & over with tumbrels and guillotines:

We OWE you nothing, not even your very lives, because we are NOT your servants, slaves or inferiors.


Mike Will said...

"This is the terrible lesson that the intelligensia, aristocracy and our self-identified betters most be taught over & over"

Sounds like a time-loop hell. As Gandhi put it, I know a way out of hell.

Widespread scientific literacy. Not indoctrination, not servitude or coercion. Certainly not bowing to aristocracy. Embrace knowledge. It's really the only birthright any of us have.

Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.
- Isaac Asimov

Phaedrusnailfile said...

"The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of the mountain, or in the petals of a flower. To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha-which is to demean oneself."-Robert M. Pirsig

David Brin said...

Except that his definition of ingrate is absolutely a lie, diametrically opposite to the truth. It's not an evader of legal debts - there are words for that. It is a nastiness that simply indicates a very poor upbringing.

But sure. At behest of your class oppressors who robbed freedom and dignity from 99% of people for 99% of history, attack THEIR obstacles - all the smart people who know stuff and invented and built what you wallow in. Threaten tumbrels for we who never oppressed you and gave you everything you depend on.

It doesn't work that way, oh rage junkie and chemical addict. The guillotines we are ordered to build, with our skills, will rise up and hear our voices.

Ooh. Bad choice of enemies.

jim said...

100 days into the Democrats control of the house of representatives, and boy oh boy do they seem to be nearly useless.

If the French resistance fighters in WWII were led by these timid, weak, hot house flowers, Hitler would never have lost France.

If the Democrats actually retake the senate and white house (seemingly less likely, given how lame they are) we should all expect that the democrats will not actually deliver on Medicare for All or a Green new Deal. It is far more likely that we will get mandatory shitty for profit insurance, and some meaningless symbolic action like rejoining the Paris accords.

Mike Will said...

Dr. Brin: Threaten tumbrels for we who never oppressed you and gave you everything you depend on.

An example is Steve King's disgusting bragging about red states having 8 trillion bullets. That's the 8 trillion bullets that were invented and manufactured by an open and scientific society? What a clown. In any case, 8 trillion bullets are no match for 8 quadrillion transistors.

Deuxglass said...

Mike Will,

Apples and Oranges.

David Brin said...

Hey jim. How about getting specific about what you'd have the House actually do? Seven committees are pushing investigations hard. They have that power. Do they have the power to legislate, faced with a McConnell-dominated Senate?

Well, in fact, I have alist of things Pelosi et al should be doing. And I'm ticked off they aren't. But where's your list?

Other than impeachment, which is simply dumb to rush into, accomplishing nothing other than a trump-martyr frenzy.

My list:

- Divide the dems' legislative wish list into tiny, motherhood/apple-pie lumps and pass these, daring the Senate to refuse them, at their political cost.

- Judo moves, like giving the House minority some subpoenas - I favor one per House member or one per three - both shocking them and proving Dems' honesty to the People,,, but also setting a precedent for next time dems are a minority.

- retore the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) within the House (they can do that) and use it to help start restoration of fact as an option in American life.

Deuxglass said...

First of all drop the impeachment bullshit because it won't go nowhere. It's lost. You are not going to get him on the economy. Even if a recession comes in 2020 he will not be blamed. The only thing to do is to come up with something believable on healthcare. The ones to target are the independents and that has been true for decades. Preaching to the already converted is worse than stupid. It is a mistake. Downplay the race and sexual cards. They will always vote Democrat in any case. Same with slavery reparations. The independents are reasonable people even if to the party card-carriers may contest that. You have to give them something that has meat in it and not fluff. Another thing I will say. No one from California will ever win over the South, Midwest and the Northeast. It's a sectional thing.

Tacitus said...

Duexglass speaks Wisdom.

My previous comments regards the Clinton campaign (ineptitude sans consequences) seem to have been lost in the debris field that resulted from a necessary tidy up of the house.

Rather than expecting me to persuade many of you - who by and large are not independent voters in critical swing states - it might be more productive to have you try to persuade me.

At the moment I'm a bit of a Klobucher fan, and also have nothing against the Mayor of South Bend other than I'm not sure how to pronounce a name with "Butt" in it without potentially giving offense. (Levity aside he does have atypical and appealing credentials).

I'm open to new information and hope you all are as well. The DOJ Inspector General's report next month could be very interesting. Or shall we now Chain Up the Inspector Generals?


jim said...

From where I sit the oversight has been very timid.
The Democrats promised a subpoena cannon if they got control of the house.
Subpoena everything the Trump organization has done sense he has been in office, he refused to put his wealth into a bind trust, that means everything the Trump organization has done in the last couple of years is open to congressional oversight. That goes double for Jered and Ivonca's businesses. Also subpoena all the business that have been doing business with the Trumps.

Outside of investigations pass a resolution naming MBS as murdering, torture using, war mongering piece of human filth. Pick a big freaking fight with Saudi Arabia and make Trump explain why Jered has been giving them nuclear secrets.

Pass marijuana legalization on the federal level. It may go through the senate it may not but it is popular.

Larry Hart said...


Downplay the race and sexual cards. They will always vote Democrat in any case.

They didn't in 2016. At least not when it mattered. Trump got as much of the Hispanic vote as Romney had in 2012, even with his xenophobic platform. Black men were apparently convinced not to vote for Hillary because she once said "super predators". Black women weren't so easily misled.

Point being, yes, it's a good idea to appeal to swing voters, but you also can't take the base for granted. Not if you're a Democrat, anyway.

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

At the moment I'm a bit of a Klobucher fan, and also have nothing against the Mayor of South Bend other than I'm not sure how to pronounce a name...

Heh. Well, Bill Maher had him on as a guest recently, and they used the mnemonic device, "Boot-edge-edge". Works for me.

Deuxglass said...

Larry Hart,

The Democrats have been taking their base for granted for years now and that is the big problem now. The base was the middle class but the Democrat leadership not only threw them away but demonized them as well. Replacing that electorate with a coalition of very narrow interest groups just doesn't make it as the Democrat leadership (if such a creature actually exists anymore) is now discovering.

The good thing is that this time democrats will finally have a decent choice of candidates unlike the last time where it was all decided for us beforehand.

Jon S. said...

The House has issued subpoenas. The President has announced that he has no intention of honoring those subpoenas. (Literally: "I see no reason why we should.")

Until Contempt of Congress charges are placed and people start getting arrested, this is going to continue, because Donnie and his cronies actually do exhibit contempt for Congress. Subpoenas only matter when they're enforced, and so far that hasn't happened.

(Oh, just incidentally, that was the third of the three charges under which Nixon's impeachment proceedings started - his refusal to cooperate with House investigations.)

jim said...

Yes Jon
Start charging people with contempt of congress.
They can actually arrest people, hold them over for trial, and issue punishments without any help from either the executive or judicial branches.

It is time to do it.

Deuxglass said...


Procedure vs substance. Yes that is really going to fly. Shouldn't one be looking for meaningful issues instead of just lawyer tricks?

Jon S. said...

Contempt of Congress isn't "just lawyer tricks", nor are subpoenas. A subpoena is a document requiring the subject to appear in court (or before a congressional committee) to testify under oath regarding the topic mentioned in the subpoena. And Contempt of Congress is a felony, not a "trick" - people have gone to prison for it.

It's quite clear that until legal consequences are faced, Don the Don is going to continue trying to run the White House like a Mafia organization. In fact, he's been reminding me quite a lot lately of a classic Mafia novel - no, not that one, but Jimmy Breslin's The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight.

locumranch said...

The 'Contempt of Congress' gambit only works if one assumes that pretty much each & everyone owes Congress respect.

How much respect do Jonny & Jimbo (above) feel they owe House Republicans McCarthy, Scalise, Nune & Cheney, do you suppose?

And how much respect do they yield to Senate Republicans McConnell, Blunt, Cruz, Graham & Romney?

And how much fealty do they pledge to Red State deplorables?

Jonny, Jimbo & all self-identified victims are cut from the same cloth as our little Ukrainian pal as they all demand to share in the protections, privileges, reparations & respect that they feel others owe the dead, the greatest generation or the great god of science.

Well, nuts to that!!

The only respect you reap is the respect you sow because respect & allegiance, my fine fellows, is a non-transferable & non-inheritable commodity.


Deuxglass said...


Why not just try voting him out of office? Coming up with procedures that have no chance of winning will just convince more independents that the Dems are shysters. By all means double down on a losing strategy.

David Brin said...

Deuxglass there’s a way to blame him if there’s a 2020 recession, by pointing out the CURVES.

Tim, your Clinton comments aren’t ignored, they are simply tiresome. After 25 years of relentless “investigations” that cost us $500 million +, can you at last show us anything beyond a husband fibbing about some 3rd base infidelity. THAT got him "impeached." If even that is your low bar, then fine. We have a nice selection of women candidates and a gay guy who’s an Afghanistan vet with a 200 IQ and is cleaner than a newborn babe.

You know my position on the Inspectors General.

Right now, many of them are biased and beholden to their appointers. But if my bill ever passed...

jim everything you demand is on the agenda. And yes, MJ legalization is one of those simple things Pelosi should send over and dare McConnell to act. It's guaranteed to shake up maybe 80,000 libertarians and every little bit...

LH I disagree. 2020 is not 2016. If the Democratic base is not already riled, I don’t know what will and I am moving.

Everything you all said is insightful, but it still all comes down to one man who can save or betray America.

John Roberts.

DP said...

Duexglass, there is impeachment and then there is impeachment.

It's all in the timing.

If the Dems are smart, they will begin slow methodical impeachment proceedings early next year and extend them to election day 2020.

Each day will bring anew reevaluation, a new charge, a new scandal, a new arrest.

In short, the Dems should use impeachment proceedings to dominate the news cycle, making what they do in the House impeachment hearings the lead story each day until the election is over.

By doing so they suck all of the oxygen out of Trump's media coverage. They make him react to them instead of the other way around. They put Trump always on the defensive.

He's no good playing defense.

Deuxglass said...

Daniel Duffy,

So it is not really impeachment you are after. It is just a ploy to suck media coverage from him. You really are taking voters for fools. Still trying to convert those who are already converted.

matthew said...

Oh bullshit. Democratic voters were promised oversight in 2018. Impeachment is very clearly called for given Trump's entire tenure. To not impeach is to show cowardice and Americans don't care for cowards. You want to have a Republican wave in 2020, then don't impeach out of cowardice.

Impeachment lets the House issue subpoenas that are harder to ignore. Impeachment allows for making the arguement that its not just Trump but the GOP that need to go.

Cowardice will end America as we know it. The civil war has started, fools. It's time to fight.

David Brin said...

Matthew, bah! You are like the French generals of WWI who shouted "Audace! Toujours l'audace!" And sent waves of frontal assaults instead of using actual generalship. Actual strategy. Actual tactics. You think Pence will be any different where it counts?

-subverting regulatory agencies and the protector castes
- demolishing facts as useful tools

He'll just be smoooother. Fool a lot of fled goppers into sighing with relief that their nightmare is over, leaping to proclaim hossanahs that everything is RESET for 11/2020 and coming home! Yippee! Meanwhile, whether he is impeached or resigns or was poisoned by Putin, Trump becomes a martyr and cities burn. Oh, and Pence plots to end the world.

What? You think McConnell will let the Senate convict, anyway?

Feh! Trump is a SYMPTOM, not the disease.

Tim H. said...

I believe Charles Stross has useful insights on the nature of the disease:
The serious money believes socialism, or anything that vaguely resembles it is a greater threat than fascism, I suppose that'll make this the time history repeats in jest...

Slim Moldie said...

We get it! Pence shouldn't be wearing the pants. But to get rid of the disease the first thing you do is open the window and air things out.

Which is why I still mostly agree with Daniel Duffy and Matthew. Dems should be holding and dragging out impeachment *hearings* in the name of transparency to uphold the rule of law. And yes again they should be conducting these hearings knowing full-well the Senate won't convict. Moreover, the *process* of illuminating should be the goal, not Pence wearing the pants.

That said, Mel Brooks is still alive. And there's C-Span. And I'm sure there's some house reps who can sing and dance.

The Im-Peachment, let's begin
The Im-Peachment, look out sin
We have a mission to convert the (G ja G ja ja G O P)
We're gonna teach them wrong from right
We're gonna help them see the light
Issue subpoena....uphold democracy

Confess (confess, confess)
Don't be boring
Say yes (say yes, say yes)
Don't be dull
A fact you're ignoring
It's better to lose your party than your soul
Oy oy gevalt

DP said...

Duexglass, dominate the news cycle and win the election. Trump's main weapons are his outrageous lies and vile statements that garnish him millions of dollars in free publicity. Impeachment proceeding generating headlines each day, keeping Trump on the defensive always responding and never having time to attack during the election takes this weapon away fro him.

Tacitus said...


I think you have taken to merely skimming all posts that disagree with you. I said nothing about any investigation into either Clinton.

My point was about ineptitude and lack of consequences for same.


Arizsun Ahola said...

A couple quick thoughts:

1) The House MUST impeach. This isn't a matter of strategy, it is a matter of right vs wrong and if Trump's actions do not reach the level to justify impeaching, there will never be valid grounds for impeachment in the future. If this does not justify impeachment then the impeachment clause functionally doesn't exist when it comes to Republican Presidents.

2) The investigation did not start because of the Steele dossier. It starter because Papadopoulos said very alarming things to an Australian diplomat in London who then alerted the US governement.

Larry Hart said...


The Democrats have been taking their base for granted for years now and that is the big problem now. The base was the middle class but the Democrat leadership not only threw them away but demonized them as well. Replacing that electorate with a coalition of very narrow interest groups just doesn't make it as the Democrat leadership (if such a creature actually exists anymore) is now discovering.

It seems to me that the intent was a big tent of interest groups who had in common the grievance that the business and political establishment weren't responsive to their needs. It went wrong when we stopped thinking of ourselves as a big tent of "the little people" and went more with the intra-party fighting over which narrow interest group was more deserving than others.

The choice between the modern parties should be simple. If you like being helpful and useful to other people--at least to those not harming you and yours--then vote Democratic. If you like stamping with a mailed boot on the upturned face of humanity, then vote Republican. Unfortunately, about 40% of my fellow citizens are such monsters.

The good thing is that this time democrats will finally have a decent choice of candidates unlike the last time where it was all decided for us beforehand.

I'm not sure whether the party hacks or the general public are worse at actually choosing a champion for the general election. In primaries, people vote for the candidate they personally like most, whether or not that candidate can prevail in November. In back rooms, party establishment tends to vote for the candidate who best fulfills the needs of the party bureaucracy itself. Neither seems to get that the point of a nomination is not a beauty contest--an end in itself--but a choice of who can take the party standard into battle and win decisively.

If only they'd just let me be dictator and be done with it.:)

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

LH I disagree. 2020 is not 2016. If the Democratic base is not already riled, I don’t know what will and I am moving.

You're probably all right in California.

I'm not expecting a repetition of 2016 complacency, but I was cautioning against the idea that a candidate can appeal to the center and know that he'll also keep the base because "Who else are they going to vote for?" If they show their voters enough contempt, the voters will "punish" them by letting the other guy win, even if that other guy is their worst nightmare. I don't wish 'twere so, but it seems to be human nature. Or at least in a "There are two kinds of people in the world" sort of way.

A psychohistory axiom, perhaps?

Everything you all said is insightful, but it still all comes down to one man who can save or betray America.

John Roberts.

While I know what you mean when you say that, and I agree that Roberts can choose to either resuscitate or foreclose on the prestige of the US supreme court...

I think we're long past the notion that any single hero is coming along to save us. It makes for good campfire fantasy, like the guys in The Postman imagining a rescue by an Air Force squadron. But at the end of the day, I think what this century is making clear is that "There is no justice. There's just us." We have to be the change we can believe in.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

What? You think McConnell will let the Senate convict, anyway?

I've softened a bit on impeachment. I used to say there was no point without the possibility of conviction. I'm starting to see the wisdom in forcing the Republicans to be obvious in their cowardly obedience to a con-man and thug.

The prerequisite is not a guarantee of conviction, but a demonstration of enough smoking gun as to get the American public to understand that "This sophont is dangerous", and to view his defenders rather than his opponents as the partisan hacks they are. Then, instead of Democrats worrying about impeachment alienating voters, Republicans can worry about support for Trump alienating voters.

duncan cairncross said...

Larry H

Republicans can worry about support for Trump alienating voters.

When Trump gets to be that bad you need to WELD him to the GOP

Do not let them "scapegoat" him and claim that they have got rid of the problem and are now back to being the "Natural part of government"

Too many people want to believe that - give them the slightest excuse and they WILL believe that and vote the monsters back in

Mike Will said...

This drama reminds me of "Forbidden Planet". Too late, they (Morbius/Krell) realize that their plastic plaything, their useful idiot, has become the instrument of their destruction.

It may simply be impossible to 'un-weld' The Cheeto from the party, even by physically removing him. It's not a person, it's a boiling mass pathology. The id is the most powerful and invincible of monsters.

David Brin said...

“we stopped thinking of ourselves as a big tent of "the little people" and went more with the intra-party fighting over which narrow interest group was more deserving than others.”

Marx described how the lumpen proletariate - insufficiently educated and skilled and aware - can be persuaded into marching and dying for its class oppressors, especially when given someone else to hate. In the case of US redders, that is the elite poor locum rails against. People who know stuff. Smart people.

I’ve explained repeatedly how these folks can be talked into such an absurd and self-defeating reflex. Their biggest grievance is the way we steal their smarter children. That’s an archetype trauma. Moreover, they envision us sneering down our noses, or patronizing or laughing at them. Even if it were true… and 99% of the time it simply isn’t; we have better things to do and are generally decent people, all fifty million of us… even if it were true… so?

For THAT you’d wreck the nation and planet and hand everything to plantation lords who will take us back to lordly oppression?

The currently planned hearing in SIX House committees should do fine, for now. They don’t need to be called “impeachment” hearings and unleash the tsunami of McVeighs early. With one exception.

If the Roberts court… meaning Roberts… declares the committees can’t have the financial records, then the hearings MUST become “impeachment hearings.” And Congress must declare “this is our business now, not the Court’s. And we are deputizing anyone and everyone in the IRS to bring us anything and everything.”

And yes, I can see a time when I’d push for impeachment, even given McConnell. But there was this guy at the gym today. I could see McVeigh in his eyes.

Duncan, right. The GOP was allowed to pull an insane trick in 2016, disavowing their previous two presidents! “Bush” went unmentioned along with every GOP leader between Reagan and Ryan… except brown-nosing Newt. And I am still appalled that ZERO democrats or pundits mentioned this fact.

When they try to do this with Trump, we must refuse to let them.

Treebeard said...

Yes Mike Will, Forbidden Planet is a good analogy, because the monsters you're talking about are also created by people's own minds. For the last two or three years, we've watched people flail and scream at imaginary monsters—their own Shadows, if you like, brought to life by the media Krell machine. Fortunately the monsters haven't affected me at all, because I never believed in them.

David Brin said...

Tim H. sorry, I like Charlie Stross and he is very bright. But his screed on the natural deterioration of politics into a professional caste is a pile of dokey's bollocks.

Oh, sure, I lived in Britain and recognize the phenomenon. Everything to them is about caste and class. And yes, we have our castes... the would be New Oligarchy must persuade their limpen prols in the US to wage war for them against smart people. But that's not what Charlie is talking about. He says that for all their working class pretentions, the Labor Party MPs are just as subsumed into careerism as the tories and defense of their caste is paramount to them.

And yes, you can see this in the Brexit lockjaw, their terrified refusal to use the only way out... another referendum.

SO no, he's not wrong about British politics. But he knows nothing about America, where the two parties are spectacularly different in all ways. At one angle, we have a Bipolar Disease, with the Dems being manic, feeling a need to REFORM! Do the next thing! The next! In California the governor's top job - and Brown and Newson are both democrats -- is to pull hard on the bridle just to keep the DP super majority sensible. And it has worked so far, wonderfully. But I remain fretful, every autumn, when the list of bills is visible.

Republicans are depressive. They do nothing to govern or address problems, unless under direct orders from their masters. Judges. Tax cuts. And when the predicted surpluses fail and become gushers of red ink? Slash and kill all government! From R&D to elevating poor children. Otherwise, it's torpor. The last 6 RP congresses were almost the laziest in the history of the nation, by almost all metrics.

That's one angle. Of course I alluded to the oligarchy angle, and so on.

Mind you, Charlie Stross refers to what Jerry Pournelle called the "Iron Law of Organizations." The over time, an org will become dominated by people NOT dedicated to the organization's goals, but to preserving the organization (and their positions.) This law fails when something urgent is afoot. A war or moon mission. But it does happen a lot. And there's Charlie Stross, channeling Pournelle.

There are other angles. Most (not all) democrats are positive sum about the future. Most republicans appear more zero sum and cynical and often obsessed with cyclical "patterns" of repeating history.

So no, I don't accept the 2013 Stross model. US politic doesn't work because one party is under orders to never let it work. Newt negotiated important deals with Clinton and Dennis "friend to boys" Hastert was sent in to punish Newt and end all negotiation. At all. At any level and in any way.

DP said...

Arizun - "This isn't a matter of strategy, it is a matter of right vs wrong"

After the election, Bill Maher had Trae Crowder (aka "The Liberal Redneck") on his HBO talk show. Trae was listening to a liberal woman bemoan that fact that Hillary was the best, most experienced and intelligent choice for president.

He just looked at her and said, "Lady, do you want to be right or do you want to win?"

So no, it's not a matter of right vs. wrong. It's a matter of winning vs losing. Our nation and our freedoms won't survive another 4 years of Trump and McConnell.

yana said...

David Brin thought:

"America, where the two parties are spectacularly different in all ways."

Ehrmm, perhaps you miss a facet of the political viewpoint of the American middle. The duopoly, as it goes, has its perpetuation at the fore, above the interests of the people. I'm not as sure that's true, as it appeared in the last century, but plenty of folks think the orange guy is cleaving the duopoly. We both know that's not true, but there it is and it's out there.

Tim H. said...

David, I can't agree, we and the United Kingdom have both been subjected to a half-assed creative destruction, with the destruction perfected and the creation still not ready for beta. Both Nations have been subject to long term efforts to destroy the political power of organized labor. The difference is American elites are even more phobic about any variety of socialist endeavor that can't be monetized. I say it's more true for us than the UK. Voters crave change and positive change has been demonized, until the Nation mostly works again, we're going to see more fascists, and some may be competent.

Tim H. said...

John Gruber on impeachment:

Be a damned shame if we got stuck with Pence, but Lading "Herr Drumph!" with some extra ballast could be worthwhile.

Larry Hart said...

This is the part I don't get. It's a response to a question about boycotting the census to protest the citizenship question:

You never know what might happen when people get really angry, but there are four things we can think of that would make this unlikely. The first is that it's very hard to organize widespread resistance efforts like this. The second is that it's illegal to not respond to the census, and can result in a fine of as much as $5,000. The third is that the Census Bureau is really good at getting people to respond, and will send census workers to people's houses at all hours to basically hound them. ...

See, I remember that from 1990, when just because of procrastination, I hadn't sent in my census form after two mailings. A census taker actually knocked on my apartment door, and even though I was on the phone with a girlfriend at the time, would not take "I'll do it later" for an answer. The entire bureaucracy seems geared toward making sure everyone is counted.

So if the Trumpists (probably Stephen Miller) think that including a question about citizenship will intimidate immigrants from responding and therefore being undercounted, they seem to be working against the tide of the census bureau itself.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

even if it were true… so?

For THAT you’d wreck the nation and planet and hand everything to plantation lords who will take us back to lordly oppression?

Unfortunately, yes. It's the same dynamic that makes Bernie supporters so unable to vote for Hillary that they'd allow a Trump victory instead. Vengeance upon those who you feel wronged by is a powerful drive.

I used to ponder the question, if I had a choice between helping a loved one and hurting an enemy, but couldn't do both, which would I choose. For me, it's a no-brainer that helping a loved one is the correct choice. But for half of humanity, I gather that is not the case. And Republicans, while stiffing their own constituents and laughing at them behind their backs, have convinced those constituents that we are the hated enemy. They'll spend their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor in the service of hitting us back.

A.F. Rey said...

FiveThirtyEight also examines how the citizenship question will probably cause an undercount:

Questions related to a person’s citizenship did once appear on the census, but historians say the phrasing and intent of those earlier questions were different — and, in any case, they were removed from the main head count after 1950 in a bid to improve the census’s accuracy. Meanwhile, social science methods have evolved to the point that high-quality citizenship data can be — and already is — collected via other Census Bureau surveys and administrative records. So the Trump administration is facing an important question: Why add a question to the census that could harm the quality and credibility of the data — and also may not be necessary?

I keep wondering what happens if you happen to forget to fill-in the citizenship question on the census survey. Do they send someone to talk to you to get that single piece of information? Do they do that for every single person who might forget? Depending on how careful recipients are in filling out the survey, this could be a very costly way of getting citizenship information.

locumranch said...

It's clear that the Trump/Mueller Investigation has driven the US liberal-progressive community insane:

(1) Slim_M cheerfully compares the current US liberal-progressive crusade against Trump to the Spanish Inquisition in SONG;

(2) Minority representative Larry_H declares war on Middle America by happily claiming that "about 40% of my fellow citizens are MONSTERS"; and

(3) Our fine host complains about how easily the insufficiently educated lumpen proletariate "can be persuaded into marching and dying for its class oppressors" while failing to explain why the progressively oppressive MSM class has FAILED so thoroughly in this regard.

As Tacitus has noted, the Left has become so self-involved that it can no longer to read (or even acknowledge) criticisms that appear to originate from the outside of their vanishingly small urban politically progressive minority bubble.

And, like Weimar Germany, it will most certainly end badly for their vanishingly small urban, politically progressive & scientific minority.


If our fine host really understood the Marxist legacy, then he would know that it ALWAYS ends badly for the minority community -- I mean, really really bad -- as in summarily executed Killing Fields bad.

Larry Hart said...

A.F. Rey:

I keep wondering what happens if you happen to forget to fill-in the citizenship question on the census survey. Do they send someone to talk to you to get that single piece of information?

I keep wondering what happens if a non-citizen just answers "Yes".

Ahcuah said...

Tim H. pointed us to

John Gruber on impeachment:

In it, Gruber says, "If the president has committed impeachable offenses it is Congress’s duty to impeach." Mitch McConnell had a duty to hold hearings on Merrick Garland. We saw what he thought about his duty.

Ought the Democrats do the same with their duty?

Larry Hart said...

The President did not limit his Wednesday activities to the issues actually before him, either. No, he also made threats in anticipation of a hypothetical future impeachment, warning Congressional Democrats that he would take it to the Supreme Court if they tried it. If things got to that point, one wonders if Trump's lawyers would be able to keep a straight face while explaining to Chief Justice John Roberts and his colleagues that when the Constitution says that the House can impeach the president, it doesn't actually mean that they can impeach the president.

Yeah, I want to hear Bill Barr explain that the Justice Department doesn't believe that a sitting president may be impeached.

Larry Hart said...

Bob Neinast:

Mitch McConnell had a duty to hold hearings on Merrick Garland. We saw what he thought about his duty.

Ought the Democrats do the same with their duty?

My snarky answer is "If it works as well for them as it did for McConnell, then go for it!"

My more sober answer is that Congress's duty in this instance is to protect the country from the clear and present danger in the White House. If impeachment is the means to that end, then they should proceed that way. But if it's a known fact that impeachment will only increase the likelihood of a Trump re-election and/or a Republican House, then I have to ask "To what end?" and wonder how much of the pro-impeachment drumbeat is actually coming from pro-Trump trolls.

"It's not that I like the president. I hate him. But there's nothing I can do about him right now.

(dramatic pause)

He's such a long way away from here."

locumranch said...

They are absolutely insane:

Good little progressives like Larry_H & AF Rey simultaneously condemn & endorse foreign non-citizen influence on the US Democratic process, concluding (as good little progressives do) that foreign non-citizen influence is (1) evil when it involves foreign non-citizens they dislike (aka the Russia/Trump allegation) but (2) great when it involves foreign non-citizens they like (aka 'foreign non-citizens who pervert the democratic process by lying on the US census).

Strictly for their own protection, they need to be placed on 72 hour psychiatric hold STAT.


A.F. Rey said...

Wow, locumranch. What utter, gibbering nonsense.

The Census is to count the number of people in our country. Period. It has practically nothing to do with "the US Democratic process."

Yes, it helps determine how many representatives a state gets in the House. But until the Constitution specifies that only citizens get counted, then it doesn't matter if they are citizens or not. So what are you talking about?

And, seriously, do you actually expect people who are here illegally not to lie on the form about their status (assuming they fill it out)? Or are you expecting them not to fill it out, and thus undermine the Census itself?

It's silliness like this that has made conservatives the laughingstock of our country, if not the world.

Alfred Differ said...

I used to think one of the women working for my employer was such a nice person until I learned she was a hockey fan. I had to make a few adjustments to my mental model of her after that. I still like her, but I'm a bit more cautious around her. Now I have a term that helps me explain why. "skatey-punchy" Very cool.

Early in my father's USAF career he spent some time in Alaska (before Statehood) and got to encounter the local wildlife. As a young boy, he related two stories. One involved a big brown bear where both were about equally scared of each other and backed away. The other involved the noble antler cow which wasn't a damn bit scared of anything. Pee your pants primate and then back away!

We need good neighbors to poke fun at us. I have to wonder what the Mexican equivalents are now. 8)

David Brin said...

poor locum. He knows he is jibbering loony and insists that means we must be. I skimmed, but there were no even-glancing overlaps with actual reality that could even be argued with. Every single thing was (a) opposite to true... except (b) true about what he sees in the mirror.

Pee Wee answered him best.

Alfred Differ said...

For the record, I'm on board with Clinton's approach to hearings that she described in her op-ed yesterday. I'm persuaded.

David Brin said...

TimH “I can't agree, we and the United Kingdom have both been subjected to a half-assed creative destruction, with the destruction perfected and the creation still not ready for beta. Both Nations have been subject to long term efforts to destroy the political power of organized labor.”

I wasn’t talking policy, but Stross’s diagnosis about the political caste in Britain.

David Brin said...