Saturday, September 21, 2019

Updates from space - and beyond

As I head off to Nashville and Huntsville for NASA (NIAC) symposia, let's all remember how cool it is that our species and civilization is exploring, even as we thrash out other matters of deep concern. And so...
Here's a nice video on the bio experiments being carried by Dragon to the ISS. I am involved (at a minor but honorable level) in the last one, having contributed a concept or two.
Saddened by the loss of communication with India's Vikram moon lander - but their lunar orbiter has spotted the lander on the lunar surface. It may be in one piece after a 'hard landing.'
NASA is inviting students to help name the next rover to Mars: Mars 2020.
== and beyond ==

Teegarden’s star is a relatively quiet, ultra-cool star, only 12 light-years away and 10% the mass of the sun; it’s the 24th closest star to the Sun. Scientists have discovered a pair of temperate, Earth-sized exoplanet candidates in orbit and one of its planets may be similar  to Earth. Discovered via the Doppler method which lets us find planets that aren’t fortuitously in ecliptic planes perfectly aligned toward us. Remember that these red dwarf stars have problems of their own.

Really cool animation of a black hole only 9x the mass of our sun, gradually devouring a red giant companion while whirling fast enough to drag spacetime and with magnetic fields that shoot pulsing jets. What a time to live.

And buckeyballs (C60 Buckminsterfullerene) detected in deep space.

Stellar streams are lines of stars moving together across galaxies, often remnants of a "globular cluster" that plunged into the Milky Way - stretched out in a long line across our sky. One of them appears to show a gap where something immense may have passed through the stream disrupting it. Failing to find any candidate, an astronomer suggests maybe it was a dense clump of dark matter.

TMO interviews my associate Andrew Friedman about how science fiction inspired him as a youth to become a cosmologist. They then get into some cool topics of cosmology: using Type Ia supernovae to measure the rate of expansion of the universe, why infrared observations of those stars are helpful, whether quantum entanglement suggests a substrate on which spacetime resides, the multiverse, and the implications of the Planck length and Higgs field for our very existence.

Visit the ESA Hubble site to access high resolution versions of the image and get lost in the sheer number of galaxies on display in the Hubble Legacy Field, a swathe of sky as bit as the moon that has been probed at depth with 7500 exposures, letting you see 265,000 galaxies reaching back across 13.3 billion years. Speaking of Hubble images… NGC2903 is a very photogenic spiral galaxy.

A supernova about 123 light-years away from Earth about 2.6 million years ago, about the dawn of the Pleistocene epoch, may have so ionized our atmosphere that lightning burned forests in eastern Africa into grasslands, spurring human ancestors to rise onto two legs. Well. An idea. Though in fact the first evidence for bipedalism in ancient humans dates to approximately 7 million years ago, and the transition to full bipedalism was well underway by around 4.4 million years ago. Still, mapping our past supernova encounters is a valuable quest.

new evaluation of data from the exoplanet-hunting Kepler Space Telescope and the Gaia mission indicates that many of the known planets may contain as much as 50% water. This is much more than the Earth's 0.02% (by weight) water content.”…. “Scientists have found that many of the 4000 confirmed or candidate exoplanets discovered so far fall into two size categories: those with the planetary radius averaging around 1.5 that of the Earth, and those averaging around 2.5 times the radius of the Earth.”

Now a new model indicates that those exoplanets which have a radius of around x1.5 Earth radius tend to be rocky planets (of typically x5 the mass of the Earth), “while those with a radius of x2.5 Earth radius (with a mass around x10 that of the Earth) are probably water worlds…” …but with very hot, steamy atmospheres. It’s unclear whether organic chemistry would work well in such steamy hothouses. (Oh, without continents, it might be hard to strike a Gaia-style temperature balance. And with only small continents you'll not get fire-using sapients. My water-world hypothesis for the Fermi Paradox.)

== Weirdness abounds ==

We’re beginning to get used to bizarre notions from quantum mechanics, even if we don’t understand them. So, how do entangled particles transcend the space-time gulf separating them? Perhaps the answer is they don’t have to — because entanglement doesn’t happen in space-time. Entanglement creates space-time.


For the latest updates on the supreme oddities of space-time entanglement, see Sean Carroll's new book: Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has spotted an unusual symbol on the surface of Mars — the iconic "Star Trek" Starfleet logo.

MRO also spotted a recent/fresh impact crater that exposed a bluish – possibly icy – surface under all the red dust

The latest data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft suggests that methane lakes on Titan may result from explosions of warming nitrogen on the moon's crust.

== But I can get weirder ==

I’ve touted the visionary speculative-science videos of Isaac Arthur several times. He’ll take you on tours of super-tech concepts from beanstalk elevators and orbital rings to living at the edges of a black hole… or (here’s a link) using black holes as weapons. Mind-blowing sci fi stuff. And in the most recent posting, he gets around – at the end – to citing my novel EARTH, as both his recommended reading of the month and for – well – doing a lot of SFnal speculating about various kinds of Weaponized black holes.

Alas, while folks have often commented on the way I initially use black holes as metaphors for an Earth in peril, I’ve seen hardly anyone remark on what I deem one of the most creative elements in the book (setting aside showing web pages before the web and proliferation of cheap digicams and privacy issues and global warming and all those other things). 

That’s the concept of the gravity laser or gazer. It’s based on the simple fact that if you have two mirrors on both sides of an energized medium that can radiate, well, the particular ray traced exactly between the mirrors can self-reinforce and become an amplified beam; the essence of a laser.

 I extrapolated that a micro black hole might resonantly act as a kind of mirror for gravity radiation. And hence two of them, arrayed on either side of the Earth’s hot and vibrating core… 

...well, I’d say ‘you get the picture,’ and you will, when you read the novel. Alas, except for rubbing their chins and saying “interesting,” I’ve seen no commitment from the best physicists, yea or nay! Even though it is at least conceivably a gravity amplification/manipulation method within reach of a mere Kardashev Type I civilization.

And weirdly beautiful… Hubble’s latest ultraviolet images of the exploded binary star Eta Carinae is stunning, amazing and enlightening.

163 comments:

scidata said...

Re: GASERs

I hesitate to bring up SETI again, but I keep banging away on this point: it is simply way, way, too early to decide the question one way or the other. 'The Great Silence' is maybe just 'The Great Ignorance'. I use that term in the nice scientific sense, not a derogatory one:
"Thoroughly conscious ignorance is the prelude to every real advance in science."
- James Clerk Maxwell

In the long view of things, we first glimpsed past superstition last week. We gained a good understanding of electromagnetism an hour ago. We detected the first gravitational waves two seconds ago. Maybe advanced civilizations use GW lasers (GWASERs? GASERs?) to communicate. Maybe Ansibles. What's the frustrated, frantic rush to conclusions?

Also, In GW detectors, could the mirrors be made from 'plasma mirrors'? (Also known as 'trampoline mirrors'). If so, this might allow a few more round trips for the laser beam, increasing sensitivity of the instrument. I've never visited such a facility, but perhaps our host has.
https://arstechnica.com/science/2019/09/trampoline-mirror-may-push-laser-pulse-through-fabric-of-the-universe/

David Brin said...

And Earth was prime real estat... Oxygen atmosphere but just microbes for two... billion... years. That is a huge snapshot of time without colonists or even visitors who tossed 1 coke bottle.

Tell me again how we only see a tiny bit of the Big Picture.

roderikk said...

David, perhaps there's a lot more real estate than we're currently expecting to find. And our location just puts us way out of the way of the more interesting parts of the universe?

scidata said...

I kept aquariums as a kid. The last thing I'd do with a beautiful, balanced, thriving ecosystem was to throw a coke bottle into it. Apart from the anthropocentric desecration, it would have deprived me of one of my favorite storybooks. The robots in "Foundation" progressed from dishwashers to near-gods in just millennia. Yet, they still revered humans.

Also, even after two billion years, those microbes have just barely evolved to the point where they could recognize a coke bottle as evidence of ETI. Again, the Great Fermi Frustration seems awfully premature.

Also, the Cheeto refers to 1984 hell-scapes as 'prime real estate'. He needs more skule.

TCB said...

I posted this a couple threads back, and I don't think it was noticed, so here it is again.


Maybe the Moon IS a good place to put something! A space elevator to be exact.

The idea is, space elevator concepts have been foundering on the lack of a strong enough cable material from an Earth based anchor. But one dangling from the Moon to Earth geosynchronous orbit need not be that strong. Present day tech can do it. So you'd still need rockets to get to geosynchronous, but then you can dock with the elevator and go cheaply to the lunar surface, to Earth-Moon L1, and elsewhere.

Noteworthy is that there's a small area of prime real estate for the elevator base in the middle of the near side, just south of Mare Vaporum.

Thoughts?

Jon S. said...

Doesn't Luna have a bit of a wobble as she orbits Earth? And while that might be just barely enough to get a minor Earthrise on a few spots on the Moon, that could translate to a lot of motion at the end of a quarter-million miles of cable...

Scidata, if anyone had visited Earth for the first billion or two years, their own microbes would have slaughtered anything primitive Earth had to offer. On the other tentacle, it's looking like worlds very much like Earth are quite rare - perhaps from the perspective of the rest of the galaxy, our planet is far too dry and cold to be of any interest.

NoOne said...

If you're looking for something to counteract the bombast from Sean Carroll, Peter Woit has a nice review of "Something Deeply Hidden." Basically, he cuts through Carroll's many worlds woo.

scidata said...

Jon S. if anyone had visited Earth for the first billion or two years, their own microbes would have slaughtered anything primitive Earth had to offer

It's difficult for me to argue with rampant anthropomorphization. ETIs would have slaughtered, tossed coke bottles, bent entire planets to their will, spread like a virus throughout the cosmos, etc, etc. Who's the von Daniken here?

Darwin visited the Galapagos. He didn't survey the Milky Way. If you insist on wild extrapolation from a single case, at least be Bayesian about it. Make your assumptions explicit and uncertain as heck.

Zepp Jamieson said...

TCB: "Maybe the Moon IS a good place to put something! A space elevator to be exact."

With 1/6th gravity and no atmosphere, a space elevator would indisputably be easier to construct on the Moon. But the problem is we need to find a way to move objects out of Earth's gravity well. Therefore we need a space elevator here, not there. Perhaps in the distant future when the Moon has large colonies that are self-sustaining, there will be a reason for a lunar elevator, but for now, it's kinda pointless.

There are, however, a lot of things that could be built on the Moon: observatories, solar arrays, industries where manufacturing is easier in vacuum and/or low gravity, and so on.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@scidata
That window of noticability may be even smaller than you suggest. We began 'broadcasting' in the late 19th century, and it's entirely possible that we will have stopped doing so by the mid 21st century, hopefully because we have a narrow-cast FTL communication technology and haven't just eliminated our ability to broadcast. And as Brin and others have suggested, we may encounter evidence that it's in our best interest to shut up and Not Be Noticed by somebody out there who might see us as delicious with ketchup and have the military power to make it so. Again, not my preferred option, but a distinct possibility which much be considered.

scidata said...

@Zepp Jamieson

SETI is at worst a waste of time. METI is at worst, extinction. Also, by what right do transmitters speak on behalf of all mankind?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Exactly. At worst, it's a waste of time. As is about 90% of all research. I doubt anyone on this blog would argue that because most research turns out to be unproductive, we shouldn't do it.
As for speaking on behalf of all mankind, there hasn't been an utterance or action in the history of humanity that spoke for all.
If we believe that we should suspend SETI and METI on the grounds that someone may notice us, then we need to stop all human activities that emit electromagnetic signals into space. If there is someone out there to notice us, they almost certainly will in due course. We've already carved out a globe over 100 light years radius just with our radio babble. From that we can surmise that any interstellar civilisation capable of hearing us would have, and had time to reply, that lay within 50 light years of us.
That, at least, is in our favour. It elongates the span between First Contact and "Holy Smokes, we need to defend ourselves from this menace!" in a worst-case scenario.

duncan cairncross said...

Zepp

There is a difference between a quiet radio background that the largest radio telescopes that we have could not detect 50 light years away and a directed tight beam message that those same radio telescopes could detect in the next galaxy

David Brin said...


Scidata’s “ooh I am so much more morally evolved than you barbarians!” sneers aside, his entire premise is based upon a Zoo Hypothesis: Nursery World Protection Sub-variant that is spectacularly enforced and controlling. The Benevolent Galactic Empire would have to fiercely prevent ANY colonization of our solar system across 2 and possibly 4 billion years. No asteroids appear to be in “tamed” orbits. Evidence still must be gathered but preliminary surveys show no signs of asteroids having been harvested or modified. Coke bottles are a metaphor for ANY intrusion of advanced multicellular forms which would be visible in our rocks as a sudden transition. We’d have found any cities, even limited ecotopias.

If there are aliens all over, yet that vast expanse of time and space was kept empty, then they obey a Galactic eco empire of harsh and utter ferocity that allows not even visitors to nursery systems like ours. I am not saying that theory is wrong! But it’s a daunting image and not exactly touchy-feely, even if it allowed for us to eventually evolve.

What’s clear is that the “It’s Big and we’ve only started sampling!” reason to dismiss Fermi speculation is the dumbest excuse of all.

TCB said...

If I had to push my chips in on a Fermi paradox explanation, it would be more rare-tech than rare-Earth. Primitive life is probably not so rare. Complex life, rarer because it needs time and stability to evolve. There are probably plenty of worlds (like Mars) that were rather nice, but not for long enough. Where complex creatures exist, intelligence can evolve. Right here on Earth we have Homo Sapiens, but also a few other creatures who are not much less smart, at least on paper. However, the cetaceans and octopodes live under water. Tech can't be made there. You can't build a fire at the sea floor, so no metals, no fancy chemistry, and so on. Even planets with smart two-leggers running about might be lacking in useful technological resources. What does our industrial revolution look like if the Carboniferous never happened and thus coal and petroleum were rare?

So I submit that sentient species that could make technology, but live in a place that prevents it, are probably far more common, maybe even by a factor of a hundred. Not testable, I know, soon or maybe ever.

And the ones that do get technology, well... we don't yet know if that party ever goes on for long.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi TCB
I'm going for the "Wet Earth" problem making most potential Earths simply too wet

With a kilometers deep ocean there is far too little life at the "hot smokers" to ever develop "complex life" - it took Earth with 20% ?? of the surface covered with life 2 Billion years

With 1/10th of the life that would be 20 Billion years - longer than the Universe has existed and a "wet earth" would have not 1/10th but 1/1,000,000th the life

The impact with Thetis that created the moon drove off most of our water - how common would that be?

Alfred Differ said...

Carroll is bombastic? I've only listed to a handful of his podcasts so far, but I didn't get that impression. Am I missing something?

Many things can be said about the Many Worlds interpretation, but it IS rather handy to have it explained by someone who is a fan of the idea. I'm NOT a big fan of it, but if I poke at it I want to do so in a legitimate manner.


I'm been looking through my own professors research notes (I inherited them) and I'm coming to the realization that he had issues with quantum foundations too. He had a different approach, but met with about as much enthusiasm from the community for it as all the others. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

Luna precesses, nutates, has a noticeable eccentricity and inclination, and isn't exactly symmetric. Any elevator idea for Luna that doesn't contemplate low frequency perturbations from all those inputs won't get any attention from me. Any remaining ideas that don't ponder more perturbations coming from a 50+ Earth radius length tape whipping through the Sun's upper atmosphere (that's were we actually are) and the magnetic field and particle flux associated with this get labelled as a likely debris maker by me.

Cis-lunar space is far from empty and a lot of what's up there moves at high speed.

How about we just get ourselves out there with simpler engineering projects and then LEARN what works and what doesn't by directly trying it... out there.

scidata said...

Dr. Brin: Coke bottles are a metaphor

Thanks. My morally evolved brain couldn't fathom that one.

I have no opinions or even theories* about what is or isn't out there. I'm not one of those enthusiasts who rush up to you at conferences with yet another ill-thought-out premise (you once mentioned how tiresome they are). My only point is that it's an important question to actually answer. You've collected dozens of hypotheses such as the Zoo. The few I've seen remind me of arguments last seen during the Spanish Inquisition. I just find the rampant anthropomorphic speculation to be over the top. As I said, we only detected our first gravitational waves two seconds ago (yes, the irony/impudence of my arguing using GASERs is noted).

Don't you want to get out there? If "we've only started sampling" is dumb, then why even bother? Save the money for chicken wings and beer. Or maybe it's purely resource gathering and empire building that NASA craves these days. There's such a thing as too much Asimov. Sprinkle in a little Le Guin:
"People who deny the existence of dragons are often eaten by dragons. From within."
(yes, the irony/impudence of my quoting Le Guin to you is noted)


*Actually, I do have one. It's of the what's not out there variety. Darwinians (like myself) must ask themselves this. How far would a species get without characteristics such as trust, environmentalism, and curiosity? Of all of Star Trek's implausible inventions, the Klingons are the most ridiculous. Savages who can barely press the console buttons in their starships due to the ponderous armor they wear. I'm talking evolution here, not morality. Trust is a powerful selection advantage, when combined with objective skepticism.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi scidata

An interesting book for you

https://peterturchin.com/ultrasociety/

How 10,000 years of warfare made humans the greatest cooperators on earth

Darrell E said...

Sean Carroll is more or less the exact opposite of bombastic. Characterizing Carroll's views on MW as woo is very ignorant. He may be on the wrong track or the right one, but one thing is for sure. No one (heh) has any good reason to be sure of any interpretation of QM and the large majority of experts will be the first ones to explain that. And Carroll is a bona fide expert.

Jon S. said...

Scidata, biological contamination has nothing whatsoever to do with "anthropomorphization". I never said these putative early-arriving aliens would deliberately scatter their seed, as it were; it's a simple byproduct of biological existence, which can no more be helped than the need to consume matter in one form or another as fuel.

We didn't deliberately set out to scatter tardigrades on the Moon, or put terrestrial microbes into the ISS - it just happened, because we're living beings. And any extraterrestrials who landed on primitive Earth would have had similar biological castoffs, not because they're careless or trying to infect new worlds or anything, but because they're alive.

Let's face it, we're stuck with one of four possibilities:
1) Technologically-advanced life is vanishingly rare;
2) There is no other technologically-advanced life;
3) Interstellar travel is prohibitively difficult; or
4) Earth just isn't interesting enough to bother with.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Duncan: Agreed, the difference is huge. I support SETI because we need to know what's out there (not to mention WANT to know!) but active signalling...well, we should know something about the recipients first, I agree.

Catfish 'n Cod said...

Let's see here, so much to respond to!

(1) On lunar space elevators: yes, it's technically possible. There *are* issues with nutation, elliptical orbits, effects of the Sun and other planets, so forth and so on -- but they are solvable if we wanted to do it. The question is: why *would* we go to the trouble?

The only real answer I can come up with is: to learn how to do it for Earth. Which there's little point for until we can weave buckytube elevator cable at the required tolerances.

I have said before and I will say again: when we can use buckytube cable to build bridges, we are ready to build the space elevator. (Not we do *do* use buckytube; the economics may not be there. But when the engineers are satisfied of the safety margins, we're ready.)

=============

(2) I'm not as certain as Dr. Brin that any (biologically based) explorers would have contaminated the ecosystem of a primitive Earth, because I'm not convinced they would have wanted to land themselves -- or even send probes their grummy hands had touched. And I don't need a stringent Zoo Hypothesis to justify this; I can make an economic argument. To wit:

The potential diversity of life is far beyond what nearly everyone realizes. Anecdote: consider a typical length (Terran) protein, one hundred monomeric units. Each unit has (in the standard genetic code) twenty possible side chains, with a variety of chemical properties. The number of possible such proteins is a simple exercise in combinatorics: 20^100.

Now for the mind-blowing statement. There is not enough matter in the entire observable universe to assemble even one copy of each and every one of those proteins.

And that's just for one length protein, using one arbitrary set of components in one biological context.

Disturbing Earth's ecosystem would be an insane waste of a precious economic resource: the natural search engine that is a living planet's evolutionary trajectory. I don't just mean individual species as in our host's Uplift saga. Microbes alone represent an incredible treasure trove of possibility and a natural reactor to produce bounty.

Now that does not completely refute Dr. Brin's point, because it only applies to Earth and anything that could have a reasonable chance of contaminating its ecosystem -- plus any other living worlds in Sol System, as Mars might well have been and possibly Venus as well.

But if I put myself in the shoes of a civilization advanced enough to send probes on a galactic survey, I'd push selected comets and asteroids into a highly eccentric orbit synchronized with Jupiter, similar to Pluto's synch with Neptune (similar to Gateway in the Heechee sequence, but further out); use the comets for CHON and asteroids for nonvolatiles; and use waldoes to build my sample probes. And I'd pick planets with *no* surviving life forms to terraform (or xenoform, I suppose) and colonize. It's a point made by Aldrin and Barnes in Encounter with Tiber -- which posits "cokebottles" discovered on Mars showing an attempt to do so. The reverse is pointed out by Niven and Pournelle in their tales of the colonies of Avalon and Destiny -- in both cases, the plot is driven by the difficulties of integrating Terran ecology with the colonial environment.

And given enough time, chaos theory predicts that the orbits of any moved asteroids would be completely scrambled, so there's a limit to how far you can push the cokebottle argument off Earth's surface. I can't credit the cokebottle argument on Mars yet; there's too little yet explored.

Of course, another way to hide your tracks / prevent contamination would be to deliberately *wreck* a colony world. Remind me again why Venus became such a hellish environment? ^_^

NoOne said...

I respectfully disagree with both Alfred Dilfer and Darrell E. For those of us who care about the foundations of QM, Carroll does come across as bombastic. Here's what was said on the PBS Newshour:

"The “many worlds” theory in quantum mechanics suggests that with every decision you make, a new universe springs into existence containing what amounts to a new version of you. Bestselling author and theoretical physicist Sean Carroll discusses the concept and his new book, “Something Deeply Hidden,” with NewsHour Weekend’s Tom Casciato."

This multiverse woo is bombastic and Sean Carroll should know better. In case you want to attribute this to PBS and not to Carroll, the fact that he doesn't debunk this type of lazy thinking is dangerous.

Darrell E said...

So you are basing your criticism on an advertisement blurb? One not even written by the person you are criticizing? And you really think a preemptive admonishment not to point that out makes your criticism something that should be accepted uncritically? What effort have you put into verifying whether or not Carroll supports that kind of lazy thinking? Have you read the book? Have you read anything he's written on QM, QCD or the various interpretations of it? Have you read any of his published papers on these subjects? Do you know anything about him other than that he is a physicist who writes books for a popular audience?

Larry Hart said...

There have actually been two new posts on Stonekettle Station since the last one I read--the 9/11 one.

http://www.stonekettle.com/

...

You can literally see it happening.

Those who could change this, stop it, won’t.

Those who can see the danger, they shout warning! But it’s futile. Because those alarms fall on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world gleefully shovels more fuel on to the fire, deliberately making things worse, deliberately stoking fear, inflaming hate, pushing for conflict and destruction. Why? Because it’s profitable. Or because they think it’s funny and that they will never have to suffer the consequences. Or just because they’re obsessed with some silly, irrelevant thing and can’t break out of that loop long enough to see it all going to hell.

Every day, you can see the critical go/no-go points, the places where we could avoid this fate, where we could divert onto another, better path -- but every time we choose the worst possible course. Every time.

As I said, it’s damned depressing sometimes.

...

scidata said...

Or just because they’re obsessed with some silly, irrelevant thing

The Canadian federal election has been all about blackface pics for over a week. I don't know Justin Trudeau, and I've never met or voted for him. He and I are both canoe enthusiasts, but that's all. He talks a good game about quantum computing, AI, and scientific literacy. If I ever get an audience with him, we'll see if he's got real game. His father, Pierre Trudeau, was the Prime Minister who presided over (eminent domain) expropriations for a second major airport for Toronto in the early 1970s.

That epic land grab virtually destroyed my family along with many others. I personally never recovered from having all my friends, life plans, and (modest) family wealth stripped away in my teens. The airport was never built. The land was never returned to us. To this day, I can't bear to drive through that now-affluent area for fear of breaking down in tears. Whittier: The saddest words are these, 'It might have been'.

Western democracy is more gossamer than most people ever imagine. Americans are now (re-)learning that hard lesson. Socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor as MLK put it. My heart goes out to southern ranchers. I'm sure they never expected to get fleeced by a real estate grifter from the Apple (that many of them probably voted for).

Zepp Jamieson said...

I had heard stories about the Toronto land grab, and it sounds at least as shameful as the stories about Dodger Stadium, or the stadium in Arlington. PET was indisputably a giant figure in Canadian history, but he didn't exactly make his mark by respecting the rights of the citizenry. So I'm not a big fan.
I'm reading that the party polls haven't made any significant changes over the past week. So either a) Canadians aren't fased by the blackface thing, or b) they aren't out to punish the party for it or c) they are suffering from the same sort of moral paralysis that has afflicted America for the past few years.
Me? I'm NDP. The Liberals always mean well but always disappoint.

NoOne said...

Darrell E, said "So you are basing your criticism on an advertisement blurb?"

No.

He also asked "What effort have you put into verifying whether or not Carroll supports that kind of lazy thinking? Have you read the book?"

Quite a bit actually. I've read the book and have thought about interpretations of QM for about 29 years now. I have academic published work on quantum probability. Peter Woit's ("Not Even Wrong") criticisms happen to be the most convenient vehicle for those of us who think that Carroll is indulging in multiverse woo.

TCB said...

Multiverse theory is a tradeoff. Critics complain that multiverse advocates are creating an infinity of universes just to explain this one; it's "too complicated". Advocates say, no, it's algorithmically simpler to assume a simple process creates the whole array of possible configurations, and we simply find ourselves in one which allows us to exist. (I am in the advocate camp). The tradeoff is: the simpler algorithm leaves universal constants unexplained; in a multiverse, all possible values exist, but observers only exist in that small survivable subset.

I agree it's unsatisfactory if we can never explain some or all of our own goldilocks constants; and we should keep trying to explain them. I think it unlikely, however, that we will ever erase all doubt. Like stick men on a chalkboard, we can explore the chalkboard thoroughly but never find out where chalk comes from...

Alfred Differ said...

NoOne,

I wasn't that concerned about your opinion of multi-world QM. I was wondering about your apparent ad hominem attack on Carroll. Specifically, I was wondering if you knew something about him as a person that we did not. I don't expect fellow physicists to be ideal specimens of character (I may have met one over the years, but I'm not sure), so I was digging for gossip.

Opinions about multi-world QM are a different matter. Yes. It does feel a bit like woo to me. So does the old Copenhagen interpretation which if you try to pin people down on it comes out sounding like one version per person. Seriously. The magical Born rule that produces predictions with ad hoc probability collapses is just that. Magical. If not for the fact that it works (fantastically) well, we'd have dismissed this mess long ago as 'not doing physics'. Quantum Mechanics is a recipe... not a theory... and that bugs the cr&p out of many of us.

Carroll admits the Everettian approach is not popular and evokes ire from many in our community. From what I've seen, he's actually pretty mild in his defense of what he thinks is a subject area that should be considered because of its value to physics. It's pretty simple, really. What would a QM recipe look like without Born's rule? The answer is somewhere along an Everettian path. Very weird, but not really woo... unless someone tries to create an untestable theory. Is he? Not from what I've seen so far.

The real woo comes from the fans who barely know physics. Quantum mechanics practically invites the mystics to speak as if they know a thing or two about the universe. They don't... at least in the physics sense. Bunch of nonsense. Actually... bunch of cr&p. It is a serious mistake to label Everettian physicists as mystics, though... unless they are... in which case... show your work.

[My prof had serious issues with QM foundations too. I don't think he would have considered multi-world ideas as anything useful, but that's a different matter. The woo isn't found in what you look at. It's HOW you look at it.]

Alfred Differ said...

The main issue with multi-world (MW) theories is they divorce past from present. Physics is supposed to be the study of matter in motion. In MW theories, I can't take 'the present' and say much of anything about 'the past' because I don't know about the many other branches not taken to get where I am in that present. In an MW theory, therefore, what exactly are we doing as physicists?

The main issue with Copenhagen recipes is there aren't any good definitions for what constitutes 'an observer', thus we don't really know when to apply the Born rule. When we and our instruments are involved, we can do it fantastically well, but shouldn't it work well when matter interacts in some distant galaxy and we aren't there to notice? This is the 'measurement problem', but the underlying issue is the lack of an ontology that would make the recipe an actual theory of physics.

The main issue with Bohmian type theories is... well... making them work in space-time. Nicely statable ontology, but we need a relativistic version or three.

The main issue (as I see it) with the 'loop' quantum gravity ideas is they don't address the other forces. They DO have an ontology, though, thus they are legit contenders AS THEORIES.

The main issue (as I see it) with string theories is they don't really quantize gravity. They assume the underlying manifold. At least they have an ontology, though. LEGIT though they irritate many of us.

TCB said...

Stepping over to the political side of things for a moment: I commented before that Speaker Pelosi's seeming cowardice on impeaching Trump could simply be a waiting game, timed to deal maximum damage to the entire GOP before the 2020 election, and that the impeachment train would start rolling for real around November. Say, within about 8 weeks from now (late September 2019).

But I just want to add: if that eight weeks were to pass, and certainly if the new year were to arrive, with no real motion from the House Democrats, then we will begin to know that there is no such strategy coming from the Democrats, Pelosi truly is a coward, and the republic is all but lost.

Stay tuned.

Jon S. said...

OTOH, if what I heard yesterday was correct, and the House Democrats are holding a caucus meeting this afternoon to discuss whether impeachment hearings are necessary, that would indicate that Pelosi isn't that clever. Instead, she'd come across more like a prosecuting attorney who refuses to file charges against a criminal until after polling the jury and ensuring they'll vote guilty at the trial.

TCB said...

Yes, just read about caucus meeting. If they start now, that's fine with me. If they decide against, and say the votes are still not there, that's a BAD sign because for all we know, they could still be saying that in six months.

Time for phone calls and cards.

Larry Hart said...

TCB:

if the new year were to arrive, with no real motion from the House Democrats, then we will begin to know that there is no such strategy coming from the Democrats, Pelosi truly is a coward, and the republic is all but lost.


I don't see Pelosi as a coward. But certainly a pragmatist, or someone who thinks she's being pragmatic. The question is whether she's correctly identifying what's pragmatic. Remember, conviction and removal is almost impossible with Republicans in charge of the Senate. The goal of an impeachment proceeding would have to be weakening Trump in the 2020 election, which is the only realistic way of getting him out of office. That's not just a partisan goal, btw. Conservatives who nonetheless detest Trump also have to see that his losing the next election is the only way we'll be done with him.

Democratic leadership thinking so far seems to be that the American public won't be behind impeachment, and so doing so will only strengthen Trump and the Republicans in 2020. If that's actually the case, then impeachment is counterproductive (it produces the exact opposite result of its purpose).

There's an opposing view which holds that the American public is sick and tired of caution and polling. This view holds that refusal to impeach, or at least to open proceedings, vindicates Trump and demonstrates that Democrats are too spineless to constrain him. If this is actually the case, then failure to impeach, far from being pragmatic, is actually the opposite thing.

One would hope that the point of a House caucus is not just to fight over whose pre-existing worldview prevails, but to determine what the actually pragmatic course of action is, and then do that thing.

Larry Hart said...

Paul Krugman agrees with me...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/23/opinion/democrats-republicans.html

...

Which brings me to the political question of the moment: Should Democrats begin an impeachment inquiry? Such an inquiry almost certainly wouldn’t remove Trump from office, because Republicans in the Senate wouldn’t vote to convict. But that misses the point.

What an impeachment process would do now is get the truth about who really cares about defending America and its values — and who doesn’t — out into the open. By forcing Republicans to explicitly condone behavior they would have called treason if a Democrat did it, Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues can finally put an end to the G.O.P.’s long pretense of being more patriotic than its opponents.

Darrell E said...

Good comments Alfred.

gregory byshenk said...

I may be mistaken, as I've not been following this aspect of US politics very closely, but aren't there a collection of different investigatory processes going on in Congress?

If so, is it not a reasonable interpretation that the House (leadership?) is waiting to gather credible evidence of some impeachable offense before beginning impeachment proceedings?

This seems to me to be a reasonable course of action. What might happen if an impeachment process is started is difficult to say, as it depends on many yet-unknown factors. But certainly a process without strong evidence would be a bad idea, and such a process with strong evidence would be much more effective (both procedurally and politically), whether nor not it succeeded in removing someone from office.

Unless I'm mistaken, a prosecutor will normally go to trial when she has evidence sufficient to convict - not when she hopes that something will turn up during the trial.

Darrell E said...

Larry Hart,

I'm not sure I agree with Krugman. We've been through a plethora of episodes of the Republican Party and Trump doing things that previously would have earned them serious repercussions, and if anything they've benefited from them. This trend started well before Trump became POTUS. They've escalated progressively until we've got McConnell straightforwardly telling us that he won't allow any legislation to protect our election processes from foreign meddling to the floor because it would disadvantage the Republican Party. Meanwhile Trump badgers a foreign leader to dig up some dirt on his political opponent if he wants to see any aid $$ from the US. And those are not the worst things. If the Mueller investigation hasn't put and end to the G.O.P's long pretense of being more patriotic than its opponents, and it hasn't at all, then I see no good reason to be confident that impeachment hearings would either.

However, I think the House should proceed with impeachment hearings. Political forecasting has never seemed any more accurate than economic forecasting to me. Who knows what changes impeachment hearings might instigate along the way? Political pragmatism is fine but doing the right thing also is, or should be, an important factor in the calculus. I seriously doubt the Republicans in the Senate would vote to impeach. It isn't a matter of convincing them that impeachment is merited. They very likely know better than us how unfit Trump is for POTUS. It's a matter of them, the Republican Party leadership, deciding that protecting Trump is no longer the least worst course of action to protect their access to power and wealth.

But who knows? Maybe impeachment hearings and then the vote in the Senate would be what finally shatters the Republican Party and enough R Senators will break ranks and vote to impeach. Seems doubtful to me, but remotely possible. Regardless I think the attempt should be made.

David Brin said...

Jon S sorry but there are other possibilities.
Maybe close to a hundred.

“Don't you want to get out there? If "we've only started sampling" is dumb, then why even bother? “

Um duh? Someone has to get the ball rolling. If race after race fails, out there, then someone has to come along and light up the galaxy and help everyone else.

===

Re Pelosi, of course she is being strategic; why assume anythings else? What matters now is NOT going for formal impeachment, followed by a failed Senate vote. What matters is that formal impeachment hearings might corner Roberts into ruling in favor of Congressional subpoenas, since that is a process specifically described in the the Constitution.

Darrell E said...

gregory byshenk,

It is certainly possible that congress has not moved on impeachment because they are still building their case. However, the Mueller report by itself gives clear evidence of impeachable offenses. Though no doubt the more time spent digging into Trump's history the more unsavory and illegal actions you'll find. That's the person he is. But, impeachment is a political rather than judicial process and so perception is damn near everything. As we have seen quite clearly numerous times, facts don't mean a thing when it comes to the Republican Party and Trump. Fake News.

Much of the public doesn't agree that anything Trump has done are impeachable offenses. Some because the don't know the facts, some because to one degree or another they believe the Republican spin of events, some because they are ethically challenged themselves and some because no matter what Trump has done he's their man because he's against Democrats / liberals / leftists. I think their assessment of public perception is what has been holding the Democrats back from proceeding with impeachment hearings.

jim said...

Gravity Lasers

It is my understanding that you need two things to make something like a laser.
You need a cavity in which the waves can bounce back and forth and you need a gain medium (an amplifying element) who’s spectrum profile is matched the cavity.

I do not see how two microscopic spherical mirrors hundreds to thousands of kilometers apart and constantly changing cavity length will constitute a useful cavity for waves to bounce back and forth in. Will not spherical mirrors will disperse the waves? Having a cavity that is constantly changing is length has got to be a major problem. Then there is the other problem of a gain medium, Would normal matter act a gain medium for gravitational waves?

So to recap
Your mirrors are the wrong shape to be useful.
The cavity does not have a defined length.
You don’t have a proven gain medium.

Now I don’t have a phd in physics but those seem to be basic, obvious problems.

David Smelser said...

We get one and only one shot at this. We need to complete all the major investigations before writing up articles of impeachment. Mueller has completed the 2016 Russian election tampering investigation and that discovered multiple possible crimes [campaign finance violations associated with paying women to keep quiet, Trump tower in Moscow & social media influence campaigns in exchange for Russian sanction relief/Ukraine policy changes in the GOP platform] and has discovered in multiple impeachable obstruction offenses. The house is trying to get access to the unredacted report and the grand jury information.

The house is working on emolument investigations (foreign and domestic).

The house is working on financial fraud investigations (tax fraud, insurance fraud, money laundering).

The house may be working on multiple national security related investigations (the selling of foreign policy that is against US interests, sharing of means and methods to foreign government).

I expect that the house will probably be opening national security/election tapering investigations associated with the whistleblower scandal.

Remember the Mueller report said that evidence of 14 other potential crimes were referred to others for investigation.

I suspect that there will be additional impeachable obstruction offenses in all these other investigations.

All these will probably need to pushed to conclusion before articles of impeachment are written up.

David Brin said...

I am a fan of AOC and I am glad the DP "Roosevelt wing" is very active. Still, it is vital to avoid splitterism and falling for tricks to harm our enlightenment-patriotic coalition against the Putinist Cabal. Especially, all this piling onto Nancy Pelosi is both unfair and intemperate/shortsighted -- an example of 'sumo' politics that always, always falls into Republican traps. The Judo approach requires timing. Those who question Pelosi's courage or determination bear a steep burden of proof. Under what scenario do they even imagine she is shy over combat? Of course she is being strategic! Why assume anythings else? What matters now is NOT going for formal impeachment, followed by a failed Senate vote. What matters is:

1- that formal impeachment hearings might corner Chief Justice John Roberts into ruling in favor of Congressional subpoenas, since that is a process specifically described in the the Constitution. This is paramount! Nothing else matters as much, because once the subpoenas and hearings are unleashed, the Trumpists face evisceration. (And we must be prepared with a plan in case Roberts betrays us.)

2- that the impeachment process must NOT wind up being seen as just "revenge for Clinton," allowing the Red Base to rally around their martyr. If you think it will be enough just to defeat the GOP in 2020, you have ZERO memory of 2010 and 1994 when they came roaring back. They must be crushed for all this criminality and treason, and removing Trump a couple of months early is less urgent.

3- If you want a huge symbolic victory, then TIME impeachment so that the senate trial is held in the NEW Senate that takes hold a couple of weeks before inauguration in 2020. Think about that.

4- tune the meaning. A tsunami of corruption revelations during 2020 will win us defections from the confederacy, while a Senate trial that happens BEFORE those defections will win us an earthquake of Timothy McVeighs. Above all, our audience is the so called "deep state" - a fictitious, slanderous term for the brave and devoted men and women who have been preserving the republic by adhering to the law, during a lawless regime. If they see us dotting the i’s while revealing crimes, we keep them loyal.

5- Pence. OMG have folks any concept of reality at all? Trump is largely cauterized by his own blithering moronic behavior. Pence gets in and ALL THE DAMAGE TO THE REPUBLICAN BRAND goes away as he smoothly croons about peace and reconciliation, winning large numbers of relieved officers back into the GOP fold... the leaky Trump White House gets replaced by one packed by Pence with devout Book of Revelations Dominionists, utterly disciplined and dedicated to the end of the world. Literally. Absolutely and literally.

Pace yourselves. Radicalize! Fight! By getting your neighbors ready with tumbrels and torches.

Catfish 'n Cod said...

@jim: It's all spitballing, but:

1) Why are you assuming a "spherical" mirror? Any black holes small enough for us to manipulate will be exceedingly tiny. A Schwarzchild black hole with mass of 1 million metric tons would have an event horizon radius of 1.48 e-18 meters -- less than 1% the radius of a proton. We are so far down into the quantum realm that any worries about the "mirror shape" are almost certainly irrelevant.

2) Constantly changing cavity length -- that IS a challenge, but it's one of engineering, not physics. The LIGO gravity interferometer project faced this same challenge -- and solved it, at least to the fidelity required for the interference effect.

3) That right there is where my own physics knowledge breaks down. What *is* a gravitationally excited medium, and how much excitation do you need for a lasing effect? IDK, but it made for a ripping good yarn!

==========================

There's a Democratic caucus meeting at 4pm today to see what the new impeachment whip count is, and to plan the impeachment inquiry. I think the probability of an inquiry is now 90%+; the only way for the White House to stop it would be to release everything, and their track record implies they will not. Their deadline will be Thursday, when the Acting DNI is due to testify. He coughs up the goods or trouble will start.

Monday afternoon, a WaPo columnist used a breakdown from Third Way to design a measurement for impeachment support. Within hours, it became relevant as seven freshman Dems with national security experience -- three of them on the list of 19 "most vulnerable" Dems -- called for impeachment inquiry. Over a dozen Democrats have switched positions in the last 24 hours. Minutes ago, Biden demanded impeachment investigations if disclosure is not immediate.

So yeah, it's moving.

=======================

Things are also moving in Westminster, as the UK Supreme Court overturned BoJo's bogus Parliament prorogation (implying but not stating that he misled H.M. in doing so). The House of Commons will sit at 1130 BST tomorrow, and BoJo is now taking the red-eye back. The spoor is about to be radially distributed.

jim said...

Catfish

It is my understanding that to make a useful resonance cavity at a minimum you need a flat mirror and a slightly concave mirror to get the waves bouncing back an forth in cavity. I don't see how black holes give you either.

David asked for some criticism of the idea and sense no one else responded I thought I should point out what seems to be some obvious problems.

Jon S. said...

Dr. Brin, Mike Pence has been in this up to his eyeballs, including going in person to Ukraine to deliver more threats about withholding assistance until Donnie gets some dirt. And the VP is just as subject to impeachment as POTUS - they'll both go at the same time, whether via elections or the Senate.

(Note that I don't have the least bit of confidence that the Senate would convict, at least in the current political climate - but waiting until the election process is under way to even start the impeachment process makes the whole thing smell very much like a solely political maneuver, and that's exactly how the GOP would spin it. "If it was so bad, why did Pelosi wait until this late to even start anything? She's just trying to make us look bad!" Meanwhile, if the process begins sooner, and the current Senate has to vote, that means that 23 Republicans who are up for re-election will have to justify their Trump support to the voters. Once everything Donnie's been doing gets dragged out into the light and testified to under oath, how long are those voters going to be okay with just slavishly following the Corrupter-in-Chief?)

TCB said...

This just in, Speaker Pelosi OK's impeachment probe. It's on.

scidata said...

The current DC drama encouraged me to take up my studies again. But, here's an example of why studying Civil War history makes my head spin:
BOTH sides had an 'Army of the Potomac' !!

I'm close to giving up.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Trump is toast.

https://www.theguardian.com/us
Senate unanimously passes resolution calling on White House to release whistleblower complaint

Meanwhile, over in the other chamber of Congress, the Senate has unanimously agreed to pass Chuck Schumer’s resolution calling for the whistleblower complaint on the Ukraine controversy to be shared with the intelligence committees.

Some expected Mitch McConnell to object to the resolution, but the Senate majority leader did not end up doing so.

Larry Hart said...

Emphasis mine, no further comment...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/24/us/politics/democrats-impeachment-trump.html

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “It’s a witch hunt. I’m leading in the polls. They have no idea how they stop me. The only way they can try is through impeachment. This has never happened to a president before.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Alas, except for rubbing their chins and saying “interesting,” I’ve seen no commitment from the best physicists, yea or nay!


Well, I'm reminded of Steve Martin's instructions on how to get a million dollars and not pay any taxes. "Step 1: Get a million dollars", as if that's the easy part that hardly needs elaboration.

"Create and position black holes" might be a similarly trivial step. :)

scidata said...

Larry Hart: "Create and position black holes" might be a similarly trivial step. :)

Keep in mind that the mirrors don't have to be persistent. They only need to exist at the exact moment of GW reflection. Still not trivial, but easier.

David Brin said...

Proof we're in a satirical alien sponsored TV show:
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Mr. Trump told reporters. “It’s a witch hunt. I’m leading in the polls. They have no idea how they stop me. The only way they can try is through impeachment. This has never happened to a president before.”

Alfred Differ said...

I'm not prepared to be calmly political just yet. I'd start ranting and have a hard time stopping. Like eating those potato chips.

So… gravity lasers… 8)

1) Science Fiction authors are allowed to bend two natural laws in a story before we begin to make fun of them… or call them fantasy authors.

2) Laser cavity lengths don't have to be fixed or even closed. The mirrors are for bouncing the stimulating radiation around a few times to get more photons, but one pass through the medium is good enough to get some.

3) 'Reflectors' don't have to be flat. The Martian atmosphere has a mild 'maser' effect going on… I think… last time I checked the science papers.

4) The event horizon itself might not reflect anything, but near misses could back-scatter through the medium again.

5) Our favorite author actually DID talk about the medium if I recall right. Whether that would work or not could be one of the bent laws allowed to him for the novel.

6) The 'laser' in Kiln People is much more fun to ponder. 8)

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

The 'laser' in Kiln People is much more fun to ponder.


I was about to re-read Kiln People this summer, but opted for Existence instead. Now, I don't remember where a laser was involved. So I guess I have to re-read it after all.

:)

Larry Hart said...

Gotta love the snark:

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2019/Pres/Maps/Sep25.html#item-1

...
Reportedly, the whistleblower wants to testify before the House. If that comes to pass, the audience that tunes in to watch the greatest day of political drama in the last 50 years will be so big it will make the audience for Brett Kavanaugh look like a Trump inaugural crowd.


David Brin said...

Yeah, lasers have always fascinated me in every way, at all levels and their conceivable extended implications. A couple of mirrors and an excited/ energetic medium in between? OMG what a concept that has no perceived limits.

David Brin said...

I am SO hoping the ID of the whistleblower stays secret. We have to protect the whistleblower PROCESS! Any leaks - say by some eager beaver congressman - could HURT this hard-won process.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Yeah, lasers have always fascinated me in every way,


I could kinda tell that from Sundiver.

Zepp Jamieson said...



"Transcript" covered 11 minutes of 30 minute call
Lisa Desjardins ✔ @LisaDNews

Memorandum of Phone Conversation: call was 9:03 - 9:33

Estimated time it would take to say all of the words released in the memo: 11 minutes.

Checked by the great @mike_melia in our broadcast software (time of spoken words matters a lot on TV) from @NewsHour
1,473
10:07 AM - Sep 25, 2019
Twitter Ads info and privacy

842 people are talking about this

David Brin said...

John Scalzi is cogent here: https://whatever.scalzi.com/2019/09/24/well-its-been-a-day-hasnt-it/

Zepp Jamieson said...

Scalzi is always good.
I think that events are a bit ahead of him right now. The number of Dems in the House supporting impeachment has jumped from 140 to 205 over the past 18 hours, and even some Republican congressionals are starting to waver.
Meanwhile, Pelosi is in the catbird seat--if, as Scalzi says, they don't fuck it up. She STARTS with prima facie proof that Trump has committed impeachable offences. But rather than rush a vote (which as of today she would still lose) she has SIX major committees conducting formal impeachment inquiries, which translates to a steady stream of damning evidence coming out each and every day, in a form the media can't ignore. I estimate that Congress could win a vote on impeachment before the winter break, and the Senate furiously pressing Trump to resign so they don't have to go on the record for him.

A.F. Rey said...

In A Civil Action, one of the lawyers says, "...never ask a witness "Why?" if you don't know in advance the answer."

I hope Pelosi is taking that advice and knows what is in that whistle blower complaint.

Because if this is another "nothing burger" (in public perception) and we don't have a smoking gun in Trump's words, we may have lost the best tool to demonstrate the corruption of this Administration. Because who is going to listen to any further accusations if this one turns out to be a dud?

scidata said...

Zepp Jamieson: the Senate furiously pressing Trump to resign so they don't have to go on the record for him.

Of course, there's no guarantee that Moscow Mitch won't scuttle the whole idea of a Senate trial.

Darrell E said...

"In public perception" is the sticking point isn't it? By any reasonable assessment The Mueller Report by itself is a collection of smoking guns. Heck, by any reasonable assessment Trump's history before he was elected was a long string of smoking guns. Some people respect thuggish bullies. Facts don't matter. How do you change public perception so that facts count for something?

Larry Hart said...

scidata:

Of course, there's no guarantee that Moscow Mitch won't scuttle the whole idea of a Senate trial.


I'm pretty sure the Senate must take a vote once the House actually impeaches. Whether or not they call witnesses or deliberate or whatever, they still have to go on record as to how they vote on impeachment. McConnell can't refuse to bring it to the floor.

scidata said...

@Larry Hart

I hope you're right. That scuttle idea wasn't mine, I saw it on US TV (forget where).

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Of course, there's no guarantee that Moscow Mitch won't scuttle the whole idea of a Senate trial."
He doesn't get a say on that. If the house impeaches, the Senate MUST hold a trial.
Trump just assured the Ukrainian president that Nancy Pelosi is no longer Speaker of the House. No, that's not a joke: he actually said that. It's impossible to put any kind of good interpretation on that one.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/25/us/politics/trump-ukraine-president.html

Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Wednesday that the president did not need to explicitly threaten aid to make his point as he asked for a favor.

“There was only one message that that president of Ukraine got from that call and that was: ‘This is what I need, I know what you need,’” Mr. Schiff said. “Like any mafia boss, the president didn’t need to say, ‘That’s a nice country you’ve have — it would be a shame if something happened to it.’”

Catfish 'n Cod said...

@Zepp: The Senate must hold a trial. Do they have to hold a fair trial? The Chief Justice will preside by Constitutional order, fortunately, but it's still the Senate. They can restrict debate, give the House no time to present, and vote it down as quick as possible. And the propaganda machine will applaud furiously at every show of bad faith and every miscarriage of justice.

@Darrell: The Mueller Report is 440+ pages of dense legalese. The public perception of the Report is whatever interlocutor translates the legalese. Mueller himself wrote his preferred interpretation, but Barr rejected that reality and substituted his own. At that point, 90% of the electorate was persuaded of the impact by their preferred media, which is to say, their partisan alignment. It's much harder to obfuscate this scenario; it's a pretty straightforward mob boss move.

@AF Rey: Wouldn't that make Pelosi's job easier? Unfortunately, since the official word up to yesterday was 100% stonewall, she can only rely on leaks and backchannels. You don't get to see all the cards when you place your bets. And the White House is controlling what is released and in what order, which is a major advantage. They can't hide what happened, but they can manipulate perception by manipulating the order of release -- just as they did with the Mueller Report.

@Dr. Brin: That Scalzi post was excellent. Pelosi didn't want to have to stick her neck out this far, but needs must when the devil drives. We have to hope that both the Whistleblower and the ICIG are straight shooters -- which, in the ICIG's case, we can verify; Deep Whistle is, perforce, an unknown, but I'm fairly sure the "clear partisanship" call is clear bunkum.

Larry Hart said...

Other parts of that statement are bizarre as well. Remember when Nancy Pelosi was synonymous with the "radical left"?

https://theweek.com/speedreads/867766/trump-says-pelosi-no-longer-speaker-house

Pelosi and Trump had a call Tuesday that was supposed to be about gun control, but a reporter asked if Trump asked Pelosi to "find a way out of impeachment." "Not at all," Trump responded before hurling attacks at Pelosi. "She has lost her way. She has been taken over my the radical left," he said. "Nancy Pelosi, as far as I'm concerned, unfortunately, she's no longer the Speaker of the House."

Larry Hart said...

Catfish 'n Cod:

The Senate must hold a trial. Do they have to hold a fair trial? ...


I don't think anyone believes for a moment that the Republican Senate will vote to convict. The hope is that their refusal to do so is damaging politically--that it puts a glaring light on their hypocrisy and lack of actual patriotism. If the vote were held today, it probably wouldn't be so, but maybe as more facts come out, it will become so.

David Brin said...

"I estimate that Congress could win a vote on impeachment before the winter break, and the Senate furiously pressing Trump to resign so they don't have to go on the record for him."

That's what scares me! I would much rather he lasted well into 2020 so Pence can't get traction.

If he's pressured to resign, DT will use he base to punish goppers, unless they've made a deal. Which means that Romney/Putin/Murdoch will seek an exit strategy that uses him as a MARTYR, either living or not.

1) a scripted martyr who enrages his base against democrats but not the goppers who betrayed him, in exchange for a pardon and other bribe-incentives. Would he keep the bargain?

2) an unscripted martyr who might go after anyone who did not support him and possibly goes to making a populist party.

3) An actual martyr. Most useful to them. So God bless the US Secret Service.

I would put money on #4) He takes a leave of absence. Lets Murdoch spin it as DT having been driven into a temporary nervous breakdown by Dem persexution while Pence hones his image and woos the officer corps back in line.

DT's

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

While I assume "persexution" is a typo, it's a kind of funny, appropriate one.

:)

Larry Hart said...

https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/editorials/ct-editorial-trump-transcript-impeachment-ukraine-20190925-rd4bnrpnjjg47ibzwz2awrroze-story.html

Pelosi took that historic action against the president before evidence against Trump had been disclosed.


I see this is going to be the narrative--that Pelosi should have waited until the evidence was in before announcing an impeachment inquiry. The reality that that view ignores is that the evidence wasn't ever going to see the light of day without an announcement of an impeachment inquiry.

A.F. Rey said...

Wouldn't that make Pelosi's job easier? Unfortunately, since the official word up to yesterday was 100% stonewall, she can only rely on leaks and backchannels. You don't get to see all the cards when you place your bets. And the White House is controlling what is released and in what order, which is a major advantage. They can't hide what happened, but they can manipulate perception by manipulating the order of release -- just as they did with the Mueller Report.

Fortunately, there are back channels to get information in Washington, especially in an Administration as leaky as Trump's. I hope she spoke to the whistle blower or got an "unofficial" copy of the complaint before agreeing to start impeachment based on this, if only to counteract the inevitable perception-spin that you mention. Because if Trump is holding pocket aces, we all may be scr--eh, in trouble. ;)

Zepp Jamieson said...

@C'nC: No, the Senate isn't obliged to hold a fair trial. ANY system breaks down if there are enough bad-faith actors in it, and no real accountability.
But I strongly suspect that when the committees report out, there will be enough damning evidence there that McConnell will face the choices of protecting Trump, or risking seeing the GOP utterly destroyed by a wrathful public.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@Doctor: " #4) He takes a leave of absence."

I'm not sure he can once the House impeaches. (Politically, I mean. Legally, who knows?) While Presidents have taken leave of absences before (Eisenhower, Reagan, and the clandestine leave Wilson took after his stroke) I don't think he can during a formal impeachment process. For one thing, if we have reached the point where the House has a mountain of evidence and is ready to move forward with an impeachment vote, a sudden "leave of absence" might give a panicked GOP an 'out'--if he can't do the job, then apply the 25th amendment. I'm not sure how much public sympathy that would gain Trump, but it would give the GOP an out, and maybe short-circuit the rest of the investigations that threaten to include other GOP leaders, including Pence and McConnell.

TCB said...

In tonight's episode of Stupid Watergate:

The White House accidentally emailed its Ukraine talking points to Nancy Pelosi.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@TCB: And then plaintitively asked for the emails BACK so they could 'recall' them.

Alfred Differ said...

I'm hearing the whistle blower actually wants to testify.

David Brin said...

In all the reporting on the Ukraine imbroglio, we've heard wbout DT whining for dirt on Biden... and withholding hundreds of millions in aid as an implicit threat. What finishes the circle is; (1) pointing out that he had already stolen vast amounts from efforts to bolster Ukrained and eastern Europe against Russian bullying, (grabbed for his wall), and (2) that every single thing about this -- no matter how it falls out -- is a win-win for Vladimir Putin. Yes, even Trump's impeachment. Because if this end game is handled right, he'll be a martyr to 30% of the US who will unleash waves of McVeighs

Alfred Differ said...

I'd rather face a number of McVeighs than have a President actually listen to Putin whisper in his ear.

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred,

Yes, I'm getting kind of weary at the notion that Democrats and liberals must tread lightly and avoid antagonizing Trump's supporters--even by mentioning actual facts that he doesn't like--because the wrath of the Brownshirts will descend. There's no upside to allowing their lawlessness in the hopes that it will placate them enough to forestall more lawlessness. If that's their argument, then let's just have it out and be done with it.

Jon S. said...

At this point I figure that if the Tree of Liberty needs to be refreshed, well, hell, I've had a good run. I can't just sit here and try to be polite to the Traitor-in-Chief because I'm afraid of what his cultists might do.

scidata said...

@Larry Hart

Agreed that they cannot be placated. But they are humans. They could be turned. Because Germany & Japan. Scientific literacy is a mighty tide. And as I've said many times, we'll need all hands on deck to reach the stars.

Larry Hart said...

@scidata,

I'm not disagreeing. Just saying we have to do the right thing without regard to whether the McVeighs will be content with the outcome. If they resort to violence, that's on them. It's not something we caused by acknowledging facts that happen to be inconvenient to them.

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

I can't just sit here and try to be polite to the Traitor-in-Chief because I'm afraid of what his cultists might do.


Yes, exactly.

David Brin said...

Just to be clear, LH you aren't implying that I am 'placating' just because I am warning about McVeighs? Positive sum. Wide front. We must win elections and court cases and disempower their confederate treason WHILE wooing with love and logic and evidence those who can be reached WHILE reminding most Red Americans that we mean them no harm... WHILE making clear that McVeighs can and will be found and neutralized... WHILE making clear to the oligarchists that accountability will follow them anywhere on Earth...

...while turning our gaze back to wonderful projects that will make our petty squabbles look minuscule and dumb and as shruggable as the petty squabbles of the playground.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Just to be clear, LH you aren't implying that I am 'placating' just because I am warning about McVeighs?


Not at all. Warning of possible consequences to prepare for is always a good thing.

My point is not to let the threat of possible lawlessness be cause to let Trump's abuses slide in the vain hope of avoiding conflict. Rather, "Damn the torpedoes! Full steam ahead!"

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

...WHILE making clear that McVeighs can and will be found and neutralized...


I suspect many of them to talk a better game of threats and implications thereof than they're willing to actually perform. Ted Nugent being Exhibit A.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Looks like Pissmop is calling for those "waves of McVeighs" right now. In response to the release of the letter (nine pages, lightly redacted, utterly damning) he just now tweeted, "THE DEMOCRATS ARE TRYING TO DESTROY THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND ALL THAT IT STANDS FOR. STICK TOGETHER, PLAY THEIR GAME, AND FIGHT HARD REPUBLICANS. OUR COUNTRY IS AT STAKE!"
I'm not as worried as the Doctor. While I don't dispute the existence of the violent nuts, I don't think they have the social skein needed to form any sort of viable resistance. I'm also mindful of the fears, following the fall of Germany in 1945, that the allies would have to cope with endless attacks from a Nazi underground of Hitler loyalists. Nothing substantial ever materialized. There weren't enough Germans left who believed Hitler was the Answer to support such an underground. Similarly, Republican and right wing support of Trump will collapse.

Larry Hart said...

Some clarification on McConnell's leeway, both good and bad...

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2019/Pres/Maps/Sep26.html#item-4

Despite all the comments from these and other senators, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) can't just announce there won't be a trial. He is required to hold a trial, which would be presided over by Chief Justice John Roberts. However, McConnell has broad power to set the rules and the schedule. For example, McConnell could block any witness or evidence that he doesn't like. The full Senate could overrule him, but that would take four Republicans to break with the party line. He could also set the schedule with day 1 for the House managers to present their case, day 2 for the defense to rebut the evidence, and day 3 for voting. In other words, if McConnell wants to run a kangaroo court, there is not a lot Roberts can do to stop him.

Larry Hart said...

@Zepp Jamieson,

Note the implication in the all-caps tweet that the country belongs to them--to the Republican Party. That the voting public and its representatives might "stand for" something different from them is seen as an outrageous attack rather than just the way democracy works.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@LH. Yeah. In more normal times, that tweet by itself might be considered grounds for impeachment.

scidata said...

Re: all caps tweet

Pelosi served some serious judo with that brief Ben Franklin exchange from 1787 that stated "Republic" twice.

jim said...

Given that the democrats in Washington have become the Washington Generals of American politics I have a morbid curiosity of how they will end up failing at impeachment.

My guess is that there will be a split between the genuinely anti-corruption democrats and party loyalty democrats. The anti-corruption democrats will be ok with corrupt democrats facing the backlash from republicans and the party loyalty democrats will want to protect their corrupt members.

And we end up with Trump not being impeached and Hunter Biden not in jail. The kind of win -win positive sum outcome for the American elites that ordinary Americans can only hope for.

David Brin said...

Another wheeeee made up story about a bestiary of imaghinary beasts. jim is such a fantasy author. I could offer some publishers. Refine your art on fan-fic.

Darrell E said...

Back to "Updates from space - and beyond" for a moment.

Looks like it might be game over for us "ugly bags of mostly water" sooner than I expected. But seriously, this is very impressive compared to even just a few years ago.

Don Gisselbeck said...

I'll get worried when I see one skiing breakable crust or suncups. So far skiing robots are laughably bad.

jim said...

We will see what the Washington Generals do over the coming weeks and months.

They have been in control of the house for nearly 9 months and still don’t even have Trumps Tax returns -ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!

What happens when one of the other presidential contestants start to slam Biden for his corruption? Do the other democrats rally around corrupt Biden or do they condemn both Biden and Trumps corruption? Biden will be out there trying to convince people that his style of corruption is not actually illegal but Trumps style of corruption is illegal. And anyone who accuses Biden of corruption is actually a paid Russian troll.

Darrell E said...

Trump seems to be losing his shit at a higher rate. Makes you think the pressure is increasing. He recently said, indirectly of course, that the Whistleblower's sources should be shot, or otherwise treated like spies and traitors back in the good old days when it was done right. His base will believe just that. He's calling on the McVeighs to fulfill their destinies.

Trump's an idiot that has no idea how government functions and has zero curiosity about it. He's a wanna-be thuggish dictator that, simply by his nature rather than by premeditated plan, is gradually changing our government to suit his character.

Larry Hart said...

Darrell E:

He recently said, indirectly of course, that the Whistleblower's sources should be shot, or otherwise treated like spies and traitors back in the good old days when it was done right.


As to treatment of traitors, he might want to be careful what he asks for.

David Brin said...

There are times when imbecillic armchair generals tip over into utter uselessness and effectively abettors of evil. "jim" has never answered challenges to show what he feels would actually shoulda been done during the 72 days out of the last 24 years when his eeeeevil corporate democrats had a filibuster proof majority -- and in fact got a huge frenzy of things done. The coward hypocrite has evaded my dare to look at blue states like CA, OR, WA where dems do have power and legislate like mad. Facts are such inconveniences! Oh no! Far better to nurse those masturbatory fantasies.

Paraphrasing. "Yes yes, the mad right is evil-crazy-lazy and treasonous! But if I admit that our side is overwhelmingly better, then I might be expected/aked to sign up, wear blue, show some courage and loyalty and even party discipline. NEVER! How to avoid that? Got it! My side is almost as bad!! That way I get to curl my lip and ignore tsunamis of evidence I am fulla shit... and do nothing."

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp Jamieson,

I think the more worrisome model is Reconstruction Era USA and not post-WWII Germany. The North won the war between states and lost the war of reconstruction... because there were a number of people willing to fight the lost cause... using terrorism. Our host's McVeigh concerns are legit, but I don't think they are as bad as having a President who listens to (and apparently believes) Vladimir Putin.


I'd rather "Pence and McVeighs" for the short run and a progressive Democrat in the WH with McVeighs blowing up stuff for the long run. It will be a bloody mess if it happens that way, but I believe our institutions will be strong enough to cope.

The violence of the 60's didn't last forever.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry,

Nah. He's not a Traitor. He is a Betrayer.

We don't need capital punishment for either one. We need sunshine.

Alfred Differ said...

jim,

They have been in control of the house for nearly 9 months and still don’t even have Trumps Tax returns -ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!

This is unicorn thinking. OUR LEADERS ARE MAGICAL! They must be. We chose them!

Pfft. This is how divided government works. It is supposed to be difficult. BY DESIGN!

As for corruption... please take note of what the Europeans were doing at about the same time as VP Biden. It matters.

jim said...

Ha ha ha
The Washington Generals could have changed the rules on the filibuster and passed lots of good stuff, but that is not the role they play in American politics.

But how did those evil republicans get president Obama to “look forward not backward”?
He chose not to prosecute the tortures, the war mongers, nor the corrupt bankers, as a matter of fact he did everything possible to protect them.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Jim: Why don't they have Trump's tax returns? Remember, he did promise to release them during the campaign. Don't broken promises matter to Republicans any more?
You may also have noticed that none of the Democrats are attacking Biden over the Ukraine thing. There's a simple reason for that: they know there is no scandal involving Biden and the Ukraine, and they don't resort to cheap politically-motivated conspiracy theories like the Republicans.
You're lucky Obama couldn't prosecute the torturers, the war mongers, or the corrupt bankers. Half your fucking party would be in jail now if he had. I wish he had.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@Alfred. Reconstruction is a better parallel, particularly since it's part of a cold civil war that has groaned on since 1865 and shows no signs of ending any time soon. But even in the deep south, there's little appetite for a resistance/terror movement and the McVeighs remain a small and isolated minority.

David Brin said...

McVeighs who are empowered with smuggled Russian weapons (including bio) can make life hell and heat up Frederik Pohl.s THE COOL WAR.

TCB said...

@Alfred Differ: If someone betrayed this nation more destructively than the Rosenbergs, then I wouldn't shed a tear if that person was convicted as they were, sentenced to death as they were, and sent to the electric chair as they were. Even if he had once been president. Pour encourager les autres, as they say. Americans do not suffer kings, do we?

duncan cairncross said...

My tuppence worth
The angry McVeigh's and most Trump supporters are my generation and some of GenX - we are getting a bit long in the tooth for the actual physical fight
(The lead poisoned generations)

It's like BREXIT - there are a small number of National Front types but most of the young people
The 25 year olds who will physically riot and break things are NOT BREXITERS

And NOT Trumpists

Zepp Jamieson said...

Could you imagine the public reaction if one of those idiots got hold of and triggered a WMD? Anyone with an "88" tatoo would be hanging from a lamp post within a week.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Nah. He's not a Traitor. He is a Betrayer.

We don't need capital punishment for either one


That was not my point. Trump was calling for a whistleblower to be treated as a traitor. I only suggested that going down that road might not be in his best interest.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Anyone with an "88" tatoo would be hanging from a lamp post within a week.


Like the Holnists in some book I read once.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@LH. Yeah! Just like!

Alfred Differ said...

TCB,

Heh. Don't get me wrong. I don't mind beheading kings... especially wanna-be kings. I'll bring the axe. However, I'd rather the government didn't do the killing for the same reason I'd rather they don't do the convicting. Some tasks should be reserved to The People.

I just wouldn't consider it 'treason'. I prefer 'betrayal' because I think it cuts closer to the real harm done. Think about the set of close concepts. {Treason, Betrayal, Heresy, Blasphemy, ...} I want one that suggests the intentional acts of a confidence trickster.



There is also the angle that I don't want anyone in government able to use 'treason' in a loose sense. We put its meaning in the Constitution for a reason.

Alfred Differ said...

David,

I'm still more willing to deal with those armed McVeighs.

If you have a copy of Stratfor's Friedman's 100 year projection book around, it's worth taking a moment to read what he projected for Russia's next war with us. It doesn't get us the stars, but it does get us cis-Lunar space. It's the only plausible future story I've read that has space solar power stations within my lifetime. It's... interesting.

Tony Fisk said...

If you think things are crazy and bad at the moment, just remember it's Stanislav Petrov Day.

Celebrate, because you can.

the hanged man said...

The republicans are nothing if not devious,
And Trump is a millstone around their necks, taking the whole party down with him.

What if they have decided to dump trump? They would have to discredit him in a huge way to preserve their base.

What if their whistleblower is John Bolton? Wouldn’t he have access to these servers?

The republicans would have their hero of the day, and their candidate for 2020.

The democrats would be left behind wondering how they hard been played so badly.

Alfred Differ said...

THAT would certainly be a twist to the story, but I currently have to label it 'fantasy'.

I don't think they'd be able to coordinate the people needed to keep it all a secret for long enough.

duncan cairncross said...

I think the "hanged man's" scenario is plausible but not as a "conspiracy" and not with Bolton

The Trump as a biblical scapegoat restoring the GOP to "virtue" and getting millions to return to the flock - while not actually changing anything is IMHO the most frightening possibility

I don't think the USA can survive another 8 years of GOP ascendency

And I'm not convinced it would need the sort of "conspiracy" that would need to be secret for long - and mostly secret from Trump!

Zepp Jamieson said...

Duncan: I gamed out a couple of possibilities in my piece tonight, including a quote from our host:
The Republicans are probably concluding that Trump has reached the end of his shelf life, and they are doing their own calculations. If I know my Republicans, they are thinking that if Trump abruptly resigns, there’s a good chance there will be scattered violence among what David Brin memorably called “legions of McVeighs” and a possible recession.
If general conditions did go south, wouldn’t it be ever so much better if they could play their usual game of gleefully and viciously blaming the nearest Democratic president for all the unrest and bad conditions that they themselves caused?
Additionally, Mike Pence at best would be an underwhelming president, and carry with him the stench of Trump’s criminality and cruelty. Indeed, given his complicity in many of Trump’s scandals—yes the same complicity Trump is trying to bring to our attention now—it’s quite likely that the Democrats will be having impeachment hearings for Pence, and an aroused electorate would be preparing another blue tidal wave. A year of Pelosi, they think, could work to their advantage, especially since they still have the Senate and so can keep her hands tied whilst portraying her as a do-nothing ‘caretaker’ President.

TCB said...

Pence is an evangelical death cultist. You do not want him to get the nuclear football.

TCB said...

The whistleblower is not Bolton, but a CIA officer on detail to the NSC in the White House. And his or her report got traction because it was so well sourced and corroborated.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

There is also the angle that I don't want anyone in government able to use 'treason' in a loose sense


Well, I was implicitly arguing against exactly that as pertains to the whistleblower, to whom the term applies much, MUCH less than it does to the one calling for the term to be used.

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncross:

The Trump as a biblical scapegoat restoring the GOP to "virtue" and getting millions to return to the flock - while not actually changing anything is IMHO the most frightening possibility


They would have to expect that Trump's Brownshirt supporters would be as malleable as the crowd in 1984 switching without a blink from "Eastasia is our friend" to "We've always been at war with Eastasia."

While it's not entirely impossible, I do think this would end up in the realm of "Do you still think you can control them?" Furthermore, congressional Republicans, especially Senators don't seem to be encouraging a vibe of standing up to Trump. Their statements about already having made up their mind how to vote on impeachment seem to indicate that they're still signalling their obsequiousness to the base.

Jon S. said...

Donnie's already thrown Pence under the bus, pointing out that Pence had some interesting phone calls overseas too. (Also, as I noted before, Pence is in this whole Ukraine affair up to his eyeballs anyway.) Mike's not getting the big chair; either he gets impeached alongside Donnie, or this drags on until election season and he becomes unemployed alongside Donnie. He's tied himself too tightly to this anchor to get free now.

One person on Twitter jokingly suggested what I think is a rather plausible scenario. The GOP might decide to go ahead and back impeachment, so that in 2020 they can run against President Pelosi.

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

The GOP might decide to go ahead and back impeachment, so that in 2020 they can run against President Pelosi.


There's a point there that no one is talking about--that part of Nancy Pelosi's seemingly-cowardly reluctance to impeach may have to do with avoiding the impression she'd be doing so to assume the presidency herself. There does seem to be a blatant conflict of interest in the fact that the decision to impeach the president and the vice-president is in the hands of the next person in line for the job.

Larry Hart said...

Tangentially related (and maybe good news for jim?)

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/26/opinion/climate-change-greta-thunberg.html

...

The usual tactics of the right-wing media break down in the face of this type of resolve. While outrage campaigns intended to work the refs and appeal to fears of appearing partisan may work with lawmakers or companies in Silicon Valley, the youth climate movement appears wholly unmoved. While the levers for climate progress proposed by solutions like a Green New Deal are undoubtedly political, the broader movement’s desire — an inhabitable earth for all — is far from partisan. The stakes, as the movement sees it, are too high to focus attention on the trolls. And the pressure, from conservative pundits and Breitbart contributors, doesn’t just get dismissed, it goes unnoticed.

Faced with a political enemy that pays it no attention, the right is palpably frustrated. They argue that children have become, as a headline on an essay by Commentary’s Noah Rothman put it, “Child Soldiers in the Culture wars,” are insulated against criticism because of their age and innocence. “How do you respond to statements like that?” the Fox News host Tucker Carlson said recently of Ms. Thunberg’s forthright speeches. “The truth is you can’t respond. And of course, that’s the point.”

But as the past week shows, the right is perfectly willing to attack the children. Instead, the problem is that, as Mr. Carlson seems to realize, there’s just not a very resonant counter message for a youth movement to protect the planet. Polling also suggests that there’s an increasingly shrinking pool of conservative listeners for it, with a majority of Republicans under age 45 now identifying as concerned about climate change. And so it feels increasingly likely that, when it comes to climate, the right-wing media, which is skewed toward an aging Republican audience, may simply be obsolete.

In other words, it’s not that the right can’t attack the climate kids because of their age. Rather, it’s that because of their age, the right’s attacks feel especially feeble.

scidata said...

Entire ecosystems are collapsing, and all you talk about is money

If that was put on an auto-tuned 1 hour loop, it would sell millions.

Larry Hart said...

@scidata,

Was the humorous juxtaposition there intentional?

Larry Hart said...

Don't worry...

https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/eric-zorn/ct-column-impeachment-trump-pelosi-no-risk-zorn-20190926-sdkozbhlync23j746utbi3ljc4-story.html

...

On Tuesday I found myself worrying: What if the whole phone call/whistleblower thing was an elaborate and clever ruse designed by Trump to sucker the Democrats into lunging past the point of no return on impeachment talk?

I’m embarrassed in retrospect to think Trump was playing three-dimensional political chess. He just plays political checkers, and knocks the board onto the floor when he appears to be losing.

...

scidata said...

humorous juxtaposition

I had to. Did you see that hall full of gas bags applauding as she tore them each a new one? Priceless.

Bob Neinast said...

Jon S.: "Donnie's already thrown Pence under the bus, pointing out that Pence had some interesting phone calls overseas too."

Yeah, but Pence has a really good defense: He was just following Trump's orders. :-)

Catfish 'n Cod said...

I was deeply concerned when NYTimes ran that Deep Whistle was a CIA liaison, but WaPo reported this morning that Deep Whistle ran this by the CIA General Counsel first, who then followed proper procedure -- possibly unwisely -- and called the White House and AG Barr. So they've known that much about Deep Whistle this whole time, which could be why Lord Arancia calls DW "almost a spy"... in the Deep State mindset, Deep Whistle is a spy for an "opposing" power.

Which isn't completely wrong, if you consider the U.S. Constitution an opposing power, and loyalty to it over your splendiferous self and exalted followers to be pseudo-treasonous.

In any event, Deep Whistle seems to have done all the homework they could before blowing. I suspect that they have a number of people supporting them, but I don't think it's a "draw the short straw" scenario so much as "you spoke up? Congratulations, you've volunteered for hazardous duty."

Meanwhile, Pelosi knows the consensus on impeachment only exists on Ukraine at the moment, so she has ordered a focused investigation on that. I'm thinking this is more of her Br'er Rabbit tactics at work: letting the evidence (and the flailing on Pennsylvania Avenue) make the case for more articles of impeachment than this. If the House passes articles and #MoscowMitch squashes them, there's no reason they can't investigate more, pass MORE articles, and keep the catapults going all through 2020 if need be. There are strings from this back to Manafort, and at least indirectly to Putin, as well as what OTHER diplomatic blackmail might be happening; what OTHER political calls got sent to the codeword-level server; what OTHER foreign policy moves have been happening through private agents rather than any government apparatus.

Pelosi also wants the ability to shove articles at the Senate before the primaries, which makes several kinds of sense:
(1) It allows the GOP primaries a chance to knock out Congressional incumbents for their treason -- unlikely, I know, but possible;
(2) It allows her to turn the impeachment process on and off if need be for the Democratic primaries;
(3) It gets everything out in time for Big T to be knocked off the 2020 ticket;
(4) It gives everyone plenty of time to digest "The President has betrayed the Constitution and the Republicans are defending him", which would be a Richter 9 earthquake in US politics.

The Deep Whistle issue is sufficiently simple and straightforward that I think articles (possibly just the first tranche thereof) passing soon after the first of the year is a reasonable goal. With malfeasance this blatant and incompetence this clear, I can't imagine Roberts being willing to stick his neck out for these Executive Branch doofuses, and without court backing, the fraction of people willing to face down the House Sargent-of-Arms is pretty low.

Bob Neinast said...

Regarding Pelosi as president, there's a good chance that the official line of succession is unconstitutional. According to well-known constitutional scholar Akhil Reed Amar, the Constitution says that the list must come from "Officers" of the United States. And in the rest of the Constitution, that means members of the Executive Branch. In fact, Article I, Section 6 says, "no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office." That says that being a member of Congress means you are not holding an Office, and are not an Officer.

See Is the Presidential Succession Law Constitutional?

Of course, at the time, we really don't need that extra complication.

Larry Hart said...

Catfish 'n Cod:

which could be why Lord Arancia calls DW "almost a spy"... in the Deep State mindset, Deep Whistle is a spy for an "opposing" power.


That's the part that would be comedic if the subject matter weren't so serious. The idea that exercise of the internal checks and balances within the United States government constitutes "spying" and "treason". Against whom?

Benedict Donald has made it abundantly clear that he considers himself to be President of the Republicans specifically, that the rest of us are an enemy who was vanquished in the 2016 election, and that our engagement in the political process constitutes insurrection. In other words, the latest Civil War is already on, at least in a cold phase. The man occupying the office of the presidency doesn't consider us to be participants in the United States of America.

Larry Hart said...

Bob Neinast:

Regarding Pelosi as president, there's a good chance that the official line of succession is unconstitutional.


The Speaker being third in line isn't in the Constitution itself?

I don't know why I always thought it was.

Larry Hart said...

@Bob Neinast,

That linked article about presidential succession seems to really be reaching.

The objection to the Speaker being in the line of succession seems to come from the idea that the Speaker is not an "officer", and that the successor Congress chooses is required to be an "officer" per Article II (emphasis mine) :


In case of the removal of the President from office, or of his death, resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the said office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by law provide for the case of removal, death, resignation or inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what officer shall then act as President, and such officer shall act accordingly, until the disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.


The piece's author then claims that this section from Article I makes clear that House members are not "officers", and that they are forbidden to be (emphasis mine) :

No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time: and no person holding any office under the United States, shall be a member of either House during his continuance in office.


Yet then what are we to make of this, also from Article I, which makes explicit that the Speaker is in fact an officer? :

The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers;


Fair disclosure: I have a dog (such as it is) in this fight as the Speaker ascending to the presidency is the only way my cat is eligible to be President. :)

David Brin said...

Hanged-man, of course it’s not Bolton, but you are right that Romney and Ryan and party elders — overlapping to an unknown degree with the puppet masters Murdoch, Putin, Mercer & MBS etc. — are likely desperately seeking a path that can:

1 - eliminate Trump’s biggest effect: that of narrowing the GOP constituencies, driving off all professions and ethnicities, crushing down to a rabid, confederate base…

(Of course, desideratum #1 means somehow eliminating Trump himself, since he will not modify or compromise. See below.)…

2- while somehow not enraging that base against the establishment by ‘betraying” Trump…

3- while enraging that base against lib’ruls…

4- while raising up new GOP leaders with credibility…

5- while protecting the establishment oligarchs and the pyramid of blackmailed servants…

6- while protecting the cheating methods that are their only hook into power.

It’s a difficult path to thread, especially since the Party Elders and the Puppet Masters probably part company over the following:

7- the rise of would-be theocrats (e.g. Pence and dominionists) who would continue the narrowing while possibly setting in motion the deliberate end of the world…

8- unleashing of violent waves of disruptive McVeighs., tearing America apart.

David Brin said...

Continuing...


What I desperately fear is the one path that would touch all of these bases at the same time. That path is martyrdom. A martyred Trump is the way to accomplish all of them. And I have long been on-record pointing this out, horrified that no one else has even mentioned it.

Put all of this together:

A. God bless the United States Secret Service. And if they fail, YOU need to react tactically, not emotionally! It will be counterproductive if you celebrate, encouraging the meme that “lib’ruls did it!” Vastly better would be to express rage and suspicion toward those who would benefit most — the Ryan-Romney-Putin-and especially Fox interests — from such a martyrdom.

B. The other kind of martyrdom is more likely, of course — with those judo-master GOP manipulators giggling as they back pedal and let democrats clean up their mess for them, getting rid of their problem for them while feeding Red America’s paranoias by appearing like a partisan lynch mob.

Pelosi is absolutely right (!!) that a race to *rapid* impeachment is stupid. Profoundly stupid! It presents Romney/Ryan + Putin with a rash gift That would feed #1-8 while failing to deliver any satisfaction. If hurried, it will give them every thing on this list.

If done right, and timed right, impeachment *can* corner the GOP into a lose-lose. Think! Use “impeachment hearings” to overcome the Roberts Doctrine and regain full subpoena power. Go after the money-laundering for Russian mobs. Demolish Trump’s reputations as a businessman, as a judge of character, and above all as “strong.” (George Lakoff makes clear that his appearance of blustery strength is THE core-psychic root of his redder support.) Chopping away at all of that, across the 2020 campaign, would EITHER lead to an effective impeachment or else corner all Republican senators into an impossible and hopefully position.

Again and again: Trump is infuriating, but his White House leaks! He is cauterized! The civil and defense services are alerted! Things… could… be… much… worse! A Pence White House will be tightly disciplined and leakproof. He would smoothly call for comity and calm and negotiation — an utter lie that we have fallen for many times. He will soothe back into line hundreds of thousands of civil servants and officers who sigh with premature relief that the. Trump Nightmare is over. When the new president is a maniac who prays daily for an end to all freedom, ambition, curiosity and children and an end to the world and the USA.

No, no, I am not is a rush to remove the cauterized and 80% neutralized Donald Two Scoops before the timing is right. And it is right if it helps crush the GOP in the election! If nothing else, have impeachment on the docket when the NEW Senate takes over, some weeks before the 2020 inauguration. Removing Trump and dragging him out in shame and banned from the Capitol steps is a fantasy we might, if we work hard, manage to see.

FINAL scenarios! As one of you pointed out, the goppers might jettison BOTH Trump and Pence, allowing Pelosi(!) to become president, as a tactical move saddling her with (1) Trump’s martyrdom, (2) resumption that was her ambition all along, and (3) blame for the sudden recession and incumbency during a rejection-election. Problems with this scenario. Pelosi would unlock every filing cabinet every Putin scheme gets uncovered and the election cheating gets harder. Ryan might go for it. Not Murdoch or Putin.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin,

Not disagreeing, but I don't understand why you think we don't already agree


B. The other kind of martyrdom is more likely, of course — with those judo-master GOP manipulators giggling as they back pedal and let democrats clean up their mess for them, getting rid of their problem for them while feeding Red America’s paranoias by appearing like a partisan lynch mob.


Hmmmm, I don't see how Republicans could do that without themselves voting to convict in the Senate. How can they possibly remove Trump or Pence (let alone both) without taking some of the obvious blame?


Pelosi is absolutely right (!!) that a race to *rapid* impeachment is stupid. Profoundly stupid! It presents Romney/Ryan + Putin with a rash gift That would feed #1-8 while failing to deliver any satisfaction. If hurried, it will give them every thing on this list.

If done right, and timed right, impeachment *can* corner the GOP into a lose-lose. Think! Use “impeachment hearings” to overcome the Roberts Doctrine and regain full subpoena power. Go after the money-laundering for Russian mobs. Demolish Trump’s reputations as a businessman, as a judge of character, and above all as “strong.” (George Lakoff makes clear that his appearance of blustery strength is THE core-psychic root of his redder support.) Chopping away at all of that, across the 2020 campaign, would EITHER lead to an effective impeachment or else corner all Republican senators into an impossible and hopefully position.


I just don't think this is a secret. Pelosi is handling things in exactly this manner. At this point, I presume she knows what she's doing.

scidata said...

SCORE!
Picked up hardcover "Kiln People" at a used book sale. No royalty to Dr. Brin, but increased knowledge from a huge fan.

Re: Politics
Agree with the plea to suppress glee. Also, mental illness is no joke, even when it afflicts your opponents. Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Larry Hart said...

Hmmm, we've seen and been humiliated over Corey Lewendowski's refusal to answer questions at the Congressional hearing at Trump's behest, but the later exchange with the Majority Counsel is quite a different kettle of fish. The guy gets Lewendowski to tacitly admit that he lied on a tv interview, and otherwise makes Lewendowski's evasions look transparent and ridiculous.

Congressmen should step back and let the trained professionals handle this sort of thing.

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

Bob Neinast said...

Larry (re Pelosi in the line of succession),

Read Section A ("Text and Original Understanding") of the article to see how Amar addresses your comment about Officers of the House and Officers of the Senate. They provide a thorough analysis to pretty convincingly (to me) show that "Officer" in the succession section means "Officer of the United States", which does not include any member of the legislature.

Interestingly, they even point out that during drafting, the original version did say that only "Officers of the United States" were eligible, but that got removed by a committee on "style". In fact, in 1792 Madison specifically says that Congress made a mistake by including a legislator in the succession statute. (See their footnote 20.)

There is also the issue of what happens with an Acting President. Madison thought a cabinet official could keep his cabinet post while acting as Acting President. But it would really screw up the separation of powers if Pelosi could remain Speaker while being an Acting President (in the case of temporary incapacity). Anyways, read through the whole paper. Quite fascinating.

Regardless, if we somehow do get to the point of having both Trump and Pence removed at the same time (with neither having the opportunity to appoint a new VP), expect this article to suddenly become very popular with Republicans.

TCB said...

By the way, I thought Catfish's last comment was pure gold.

Larry Hart said...

Bob Neinast:

In fact, in 1792 Madison specifically says that Congress made a mistake by including a legislator in the succession statute. (See their footnote 20.)


I'll agree that it would make more sense to limit the presidential succession to the executive branch. Legislators in line for the chief executive job is weird. Then again, so is the Vice President presiding over the Senate. I'm just surprised this hasn't been addressed in the past 200 years. I suppose the supreme court doesn't rule on hypotheticals, so the President and VP would actually have to both vacate their positions before the case would come up. And that hasn't happened yet ever, except in fiction.


There is also the issue of what happens with an Acting President.


An aside, but I thought it was clear from the Constitutional language that the founders envisioned Congress selecting an Acting President should both top positions be vacated at the same time, not an actual new president. IIRC, the first time a VP ascended to the position, there was some debate over whether he was just an Acting President. But the language is a little clearer there that the office of the presidency "devolves" upon the VP.


Madison thought a cabinet official could keep his cabinet post while acting as Acting President. But it would really screw up the separation of powers if Pelosi could remain Speaker while being an Acting President (in the case of temporary incapacity).


Again, I've only seen this in fiction, but on The West Wing when the Republican Speaker assumed the presidency (via the 25th Amendment), he had to give up his Speakership, and wasn't even able to return to his House seat after President Bartlet resumed office. I don't know how accurate that is, but Sorkin was usually a reliable sticker for details.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@Bob Neinast
It occurs to me that once the Speaker became an "Officer" of the administration, she would be only required to resign her Congressional seat. But here's an oddity: there's no requirement that the Speaker of the House actually be a member of the House. In theory, she could thus be President and Speaker, although with no actual House seat.
I'll also note that while it used to be traditional for members of Congress running for President to step down, that's no longer the case, and there have even been instances where an individual was running for their incumbent seat AND president (Rand Paul did, if I recall correctly). The only real restriction on becoming an "Officer" would then be only that one immediately resign their legislative seat.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

But here's an oddity: there's no requirement that the Speaker of the House actually be a member of the House.


Everyone seems to believe that except me. I don't understand why all of a sudden, that idea is taking hold that "The House of Representatives shall choose their speaker and other officers" doesn't mean "from among their members." I mean, you might as well assert that there is no requirement that the president of General Motors be employed by General Motors.

How would a Speaker even function not being a House member?

I'm sorry, but to me this is crazy talk.

David Brin said...

UK style parliament MPs are the very ones who fill cabinetry posts.

(From Houston Airport)

Jon S. said...

While technically the rules don't require the Speaker to be a member of the House, there's another rule saying that when the House is in session only members are allowed on the floor. So unless you want a Speaker that can't attend sessions of the House, you're pretty well stuck with House members.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time: and no person holding any office under the United States, shall be a member of either House during his continuance in office.

It seems pretty plain to me, once superfluous commas are ignored, that what it's saying is that Congressfolk can't take any other government offices while remaining in Congress, and that someone holding another office has to resign before they can run for Congress. Keeps folks from double-dipping as, say, the Senate Majority Leader and, oh, just for the sake of discussion, Secretary of Transportation.

The Presidential Succession Act doesn't violate that; the Presidential Succession Act of 1947, as amended in 2006, specifies that upon the incapacity of both the President and VP the office falls upon the Speaker of the House, but that the moment the oath is taken that individual is no longer Speaker and thus becomes eligible for the office of President. (An attempt to discharge both offices at once would clearly be in violation of both the word and the spirit of the statute.)

Zepp Jamieson said...

@LH: Well, this IS a science fiction blog. If we can't blue-sky concepts here, then where?
Well, OK, Faux News maybe...

Zepp Jamieson said...

"parliament MPs are the very ones who fill cabinetry posts."

Something I heartily approve of because it makes them accountable. "Question Hour" is one of the strongest elements of Parliamentary governance.

Larry Hart said...

When I was on jury duty, the first instruction the jury is given is to select a foreman. There's no explicit rule that the foreman be one of the jurors, but really what else could be meant by that instruction? As with the House, no one but the jury is allowed in the jury room during deliberation, so if we had selected, say, Lindsay Graham as the foreman, what exactly would be expected to happen after that?

It seems blindingly obvious to me that "choose their...officers" means "choose which of their members will take on the role of officers". It doesn't make sense any other way. And the fact that "The speaker doesn't have to be a member of the House" is the new cool thing to say is becoming more of a pet peeve of mine than "irregardless". And that's saying something!

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH: Simple, direct, clear. You see, that's why you need a society that is hagridden with lawyers. How are we supposed to function if we can't agree what the meaning of "is" is?

Larry Hart said...

Actually, the "don't have to be a member" interpretation does make it easier for my cat to become Speaker, and then possibly President. I mean, to the extent that there's no requirement for the Speaker to be a member of the House, there's also no requirement that the Speaker be a person. So instead of his having to first win an election, the House could simply choose my cat as Speaker. Then, one Rapture later, he ascends to the presidency without that pesky Electoral Vote count of "persons" getting in the way.

He's not 35 years old or an American citizen, you say? Those restrictions only apply to persons. The only reason he couldn't just run for president is that the Electoral College only transmits to Congress the tally of persons they vote for. The succession path bypasses that little complication.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Felix-Americans unite! Let's show the world we aren't pussies!

David Brin said...

onward

onward