Saturday, February 01, 2020

Apocalyptic fears: coronavirus, economics... and could he nuke the world?

As the coronavirus roils world markets and rattles our sci-fi nerves with dire possibilities, it does make sense to look at the death rates from this ailment... at least the rates that have been released by the PRC masters.  So far, they appear to be flu-like, not anywhere near plague or movie-pandemic levels. Indeed, it is only because of advanced science that we know it is not just another somewhat harsh flu.

 Indeed, it is not the reported lethality rate but the rapidity that it went to rapid human-to-human transmission that both perplexes and worries me. That plus the potential economic and other side effects. We'll get to some economic factors down below.

Meanwhile, as the Red Senate serves up a Red Ending to the impeachment saga, we all know this was not the final shoe to drop. What will be next? The Epstein Files that he was killed to conceal? The contents of David Pecker's safe? Som brave Putin defector with the KGB's grand file of blackmailed Western politicians? Or the Deutsche Bank money laundering story, already in so many hands that you've got to wonder on the shared reasons and timing for this delay?

In Polemical Judo I have a chapter on "Exit Strategies" that predicted much of what we've seen and forecasts other chess moves. Shouldn't it have been reviewed, even once, by now? 

== Could he nuke the world? ==

Nathan Gardels, editor of the World Post, offers an excellent missive and warning about what Donald Trump is legally capable of doing, were he to enter a Final Meltdown. “That’s the issue raised by Joe Cirincione, who recalls that during the Watergate investigation leading to Richard Nixon’s impeachment some 45 years ago, the increasingly erratic president told visiting lawmakers: “I can go into my office and pick up the telephone and in 25 minutes, 70 million people will be dead.” And, indeed, Nixon did to go Defcon 3, the highest alert status since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

“As Cirincione points out, whatever you might think of then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Defense Secretary James Schlesinger, their steady heads provided much-needed restraint as Nixon descended into a bout of drink and depression that only fortified his instinct to strike out. Today, the ranks of the responsible have been decimated by successive purges. Little stands between the Donald and the bomb.”

Before you enter full-tilt depression, preparing for the apocalyptic world shared by The Postman and Death-Stranding, do consider some real factors protecting us from a Trumpian spasm-war.

1) Part of the arms control treaties of the 90s required taking pre-loaded targeting out of a majority of our missiles. Yes, it would take only minutes to re-load target programs. But commanding our forces to do so would be complicated without full cooperation from command officers and probably beyond Donald Trump’s intellectual capacity.

If he did order such re-targetings, that leaked fact might get him “25th.” (See the chapter on "The 25th Amendment" in my book.)

2) Of course most of our missiles that do have targets are aimed at sites within Russia. Is it likely Putin would allow such a command? Two Scoops would have to truly be out-of-control.

3) Lacking a Kissinger or Schlesinger, we have an amazing corps of senior officers who are among the smartest, most responsible and best-educated humans in our species history. They (and senior civil servants) have been the most vexing obstacles confronting the Putinist putsch. You can be sure that if Republicans regain obligate power, they will keep their open promise to gut all institutional protections for those mature castes.

4) In Polemical Judo I discuss a small provision that Congress could slip into almost any bill, appointing national sages… former presidents, retired justices etc. to serve on the “other body” described in the 25th Amendment. That body would make an ideal council for senior officers to alert, on almost instant notice in the event of such a melt-down. Even without VP cooperation, there’s a lot they could do, to slow things down.

The original Cirincione article from The Washington Post.
== The Great Experiment ==

Some of you asked about my apocalyptic failure nightmare for our Great Experiment. Is it one filled with tech-savvy refugees, hunting down every Fox-Putin-mafiosi to their Patagonian and sub-sea and Kiwi hideaways? (The fact-castes now persecuted by ignoramus oligarchs will do that, if put against the edge.)

No it is the much subtler conversion that Orson Scott Card pushes in every novel, but especially EMPIRE, modeled after the end of the Roman Republic, in which an American Caesar (a typical Cardian superman) manipulates us into ending our absurd "experiment" in mass rights, elections, democracy, reciprocal accountability and other Periclean nonsense, handing all power instead to the deserving and great-souled emperor.  And if that can't be O.S. Card, then let it be his hero, the opposite-to-Jesus-in-every-way Donald Trump.

That we have let this malignant propagandist push his America-undermining ethos through every Junior High School in America is a sad commentary on the intellect of our educational establishment and (ironically) evidence that he may have a point.

Those defending our Great Experiment include humans of stunning quality. This short article about Dwight Eisenhower shows how George Marshall and FDR depended on him and saw his qualities… and how we need Republicans like him, again.

But of course the towering figure in all this is Marshall, whose portrait hangs not just in the State Department today, and the Pentagon, but a dozen other places where folks in-the-know realize who showed the American Pax how to be the greatest time in human history. Here’s my essay about asking TIME to name him Person of the 20th Century.

== Political Roundup ==

What general line of work provides more donors (names confidential) to various candidates? Prepare to be amazed. Soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines have donated a total of $185,625 to Bernie Sanders’ 2020 campaign. By comparison, they have given $113,012 to Trump, $80,250 to Pete Buttigieg, $64,604 to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and a relatively paltry $33,045 to former Vice President Joe Biden. 

 Interesting followup: "Most of the people who have donated to former Vice President Biden’s campaign work at a law firm or a bank. Ten of the 20 employers on Sen. Warren’s list are elite universities. Buttigieg, a former naval intelligence officer, has received more from State Department employees than any other contender, and is the preferred candidate of those employed by agencies classified only as “U.S. Government.”" All of this is grist for consideration and in my opinion actually boosts Pete, since those are the folks who can best see what's going on.

Still, remember this. The one last chance of Putin/Murdoch/MBS and the other puppetmasters is for our blue-Union coalition to get broken up by angry "splitters." If we schism, we are toast and so is the future.

You - yes, you - must find a way to quench that sanctimonious treason-to-reason whenever it comes up. Ask your enraged splitter if she or he can answer even one of these five Challenges to Splitters. Even one. We'll win this together.

 == More items ==


Meanwhile, the professionals in the Justice Department appear to be in almost-full rebellion against Wm. Barr and their appointed politician masters. There is no more important issue in the US 2020 election than the Civil Service, which the GOP will attack with hammers and tongs and volcanic fury, if they retain power.

The Digital Intelligence Lab at Institute for the Future  (IFTF) analyzed discussion on Twitter surrounding both the October and September Democratic debates. The results are surprising and a must-read for anyone who wants to help defend democracy from coordinated, sophisticated disinformation attacks.

== Economics today ==

Insiders sell stock during buyback programs, making profits when prices jump. It’s legal.” It didn’t used to be. Our parents in the Greatest (FDR) Generation banned this and dozens of other oligarchy cheats that became the very soul and purpose of the Republican Party. Moreover, these stock buybacks were instead of the investment in R&D and capital productive capacity that Goppers promised with every “Supply Side” tax gift to the rich. 

The first wave of Supply Side "reforms" at least had a plausible-sounding argument behind them... that proved absolutely and diametrically opposite to all resulting outcomes. All subsequent ones were knowing and deliberate lies.

Air travel shows what happens when we give companies ruinous power over us.” True?

Sorry, wrong target. The real enemy is public subsidies of charter and corporate jet travel, letting the rich and mighty bypass our deteriorating airports and airlines. Would we suffer so, if elites had to share our misery? They should be – (with torches yet, but I’ll settle for taxes) – chased out of those private terminals, back into First Class where they belong!  

A devastating article reveals how Boeing went from being one of the greatest engineering companies of all time to one driven into the ground by MBAs. One proposal I've long made - only half tongue in cheek -- is to ship 2/3 of our MBAs to developing nations. Our third would learn quickly to focus on product. Half of those sent over there would help develop real enterprises. And the remainder would make good farm labor. A version - naturally - of the GolgaFrincham B-Ark.

== So much for Supply Side 'stimulating' enterprise ==

Entrepreneurship is still allive in the hated California and coast. But for the most part it has gone DOWN with every so-called Supply Side "reform," as wealth disparities skyrocket and we head toward French Revolution levels of injustice. How'd that one go, by the way?




Finally, I have touted the wisdom in some old movies. Like the very end of BLAST FROM THE PAST. Now I recommend you watch an old 1954 film, Executive Suite with Barbara Stanwyck and William Holden. They knew these tricks very well, then.



144 comments:

TCB said...

Re: Boeing's Cultural Revolution and the 737 Max fiasco: the renowned Captain Sullenberger recently said “We’ve all seen this movie before, in places like Enron."

Don Gisselbeck said...

To repeat, serially electing the lesser of two evils eventually produces tolerably decent leaders. Since it is impossible for the thin-skinned doofus to be the lesser evil, I will hold my nose and bote for whatever Democrat is nominated. (The expectation that we could have a saintly politician would be laughable if it weren't so pernicious.)

Niriha said...

So glad I found you on FB just as I was contemplating closing my FB account. I have started ordering your books starting with Polemical Judo. Find much to contemplate in your Blog posts. Thank you!

Bart Massey said...

That chart of startups stops in 2012, shortly after the 2008 depression. Would be curious to know how it looks over the next eight years.

In any case, the loss in startups in this timeframe mostly represents the end of an enormous boom in software startups. The software industry is rapidly entering "maturing" status: one natural consequence is the erection of barriers (some real, some artificial) by incumbents to new entries into the marketplace. It has happened in every maturing industry ever, and is perhaps not a cause for alarm.

I expect the number of startups will start to grow again as biotech, machine learning, quantum computing and other infant techs start to hit their natural growth rate. Assuming America gets that far, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Zepp Jamieson said...
They are also worried about an ascendant Russia, and a declining US

You are speaking as russian bot yourself.
Because it is only in their fantasies Russia ascending anywhere other then into their usual Historical Russia's Hell. ;)

Please, do a little excercise -- and give us an answer -- what is sources of information you used that made you think that "Russia ascending", "USA declining"?

Can it be it Russia Today, or some pro-russian american experts, or some stuff from your social network?

Anonymous said...

Treebeard said...
And it looks like our Ukrainian friend is back with his particular brand of crankery. So I’m leaning toward the idea that this blog is the domain of a lot of highly educated and intelligent cranks.

Tnx for a kind words. :)
Foe of my foe is (kinda) my friend, situation.
But, I am sure, you will not fight, or even rise a words like "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" in my regard...
that is just NOT a policy of your kin. ;P

duncan cairncross said...

George MacDonald Fraser !!

It's not just his Flashman books that are worth reading - his tales of army life are superb

Thanks for the reminder - looks like some more books for my Kindle

Daniel Duffy said...

If you want your daily dose of the apocalypse, try https://www.reddit.com/r/collapse/

It's potentially addictive in the same way that everyone slows down to look at a car accident.

Daniel Duffy said...

From futurist Douglas Rushkoff in the Guardian:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/23/tech-industry-wealth-futurism-transhumanism-singularity

How tech's richest plan to save themselves after the apocalypse

After I arrived, I was ushered into what I thought was the green room. But instead of being wired with a microphone or taken to a stage, I just sat there at a plain round table as my audience was brought to me: five super-wealthy guys – yes, all men – from the upper echelon of the hedge fund world. After a bit of small talk, I realized they had no interest in the information I had prepared about the future of technology. They had come with questions of their own.

They started out innocuously enough. Ethereum or bitcoin? Is quantum computing a real thing? Slowly but surely, however, they edged into their real topics of concern.

Which region will be less affected by the coming climate crisis: New Zealand or Alaska? Is Google really building Ray Kurzweil a home for his brain, and will his consciousness live through the transition, or will it die and be reborn as a whole new one? Finally, the CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked: “How do I maintain authority over my security force after the Event?”

The Event. That was their euphemism for the environmental collapse, social unrest, nuclear explosion, unstoppable virus, or Mr Robot hack that takes everything down.

This single question occupied us for the rest of the hour. They knew armed guards would be required to protect their compounds from the angry mobs. But how would they pay the guards once money was worthless? What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival. Or maybe building robots to serve as guards and workers – if that technology could be developed in time.

Daniel Duffy said...

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;"

As the rich build their luxury doomsday bunkers and ordinary rednecks stockpile bags of rice and beans and fill out their bug out bags, there is a third concurrent trend:

Dropping out of society, financial Independence retire early (FIRE), living off the grid, homesteading - call them "neo-hippies".

https://www.salon.com/2019/12/23/critic-curtis-white-capitalism-needs-workers-who-are-stupid-smart/

As a child I was inspired by the utopian faith in science and creativity that had been instilled in my family by the Hippies. Yet as I grew up, it became harder to see the Hippie movement as anything other than a failure, particularly in its ability to actually foment social change. Indeed, many of the cultural byproducts of the 1960s counterculture, however distorted by capital, seemed to have made the world a worse place. Notably, Silicon Valley — its corporate culture thoroughly infused with a degree of techno-utopianism learned from the Hippies — was viewed, until recently, as innately good. Hence, for far too long, the public and politicians gave the tech industry carte blanche to algorithmically destroy journalistic institutions and manipulate human thought on a mass scale with social media. All this in the name of a false utopian “progress,” as though technology and progress were synonymous — something that, as I’ve written before, Silicon Valley's Hippie progenitors believed.

After reading Curtis White’s just-released book, “Living in a World That Can’t Be Fixed: Reimagining Counterculture Today,” I’ve started to wonder if my lack of faith in the Hippies was misplaced. White — a novelist, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at Illinois State and Salon contributor — argues convincingly that the only way to save Earth, and to halt capitalism's relentless scourge on life and the planet, is through a reinvigoration of the counterculture. His book made me think perhaps my idea of what the counterculture movement even was was slightly wrong, by virtue of never having lived it. As he writes in the book's coda, being a part of the counterculture means "[setting] [our]selves counter to things that demand our loyalty: the nation, perhaps our own families . . . " Maybe hearing stories from my family wasn’t enough for me to actually understand the era, and what it was like to live through it; particularly, understanding the connection between counterculture and the Romantics, something that White threads together quite nicely.

Daniel Duffy said...

Dr. Brin, I understand why you had to use comment moderation, but I want to go on record as saying I don't like it, not one little bit. It's hard to have any kind of conversation when you have to wait a day for your comment to be published.

Anonymous said...

“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government […] Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security”
~Declaration of Independence

Larry Hart said...

Nirihi:

So glad I found you on FB just as I was contemplating closing my FB account.


Despite that happy accident, I would still recommend closing your FB account.

Just one man's opinion.

Catfish 'n Cod said...

Finishing up business from last thread:

* No one gave the reference for "Blaine the Pain", but I recognized the source: Stephen King's The Dark Tower.

* Flashman -- I'd skipped it before as being too unrealistic, but with that endorsement, I'll have to give it a try!

* Trump voters aren't suffering from false consciousness or voting against interests at all -- they are suffering from short horizons, both in space and time.

** Preserving privilege for pillars of the town -- the wealthy, the elderly whites, the Christian churches -- sounds good if you neither know nor care about things further away than the capital of your state.

** If you're incurious about the broad sweep of history -- preferring to concentrate on personal genealogy and local notables -- you'll not notice when the Founders are edited into caricatures supporting forms of theology and oligarchy they deeply detested.

** If you wish for things to remain simple, safe, secure, and similar to your childhood memories -- if you find comfort in the idea of an unchanging tradition passed on through the ages -- then severe immigration restrictions and bans on scary-sounding people seems proper.

** If you are a suspicious sort that distrusts what they do not understand, of course you want plain-speaking folk who use simple arguments. It doesn't matter how wrong they are, you can trust them because you understand them!

** If you know that the rich live in cities, you'll see the cities as your oppressors. Never mind that the cities predominantly are composed of poor people, too, or that they are also working against your oppressors -- while the rich control the very party promising to free you from their rule!

National media used to counteract this trend, but with the rise of the right-wing media (and the demise of the Fairness Doctrine), the atomization of newspapers and the climate of distrust, there's nothing to stop this insulation from exterior reality -- and the natural suspicion of outsiders, bred from our hunter-gatherer days, reinforces the hermetic seals.

David Brin said...

You'll notice a let a couple of the anon spews through, because their actual content was inoffensive and slightly interesting. For every one of those, there were 5-10 fecals that were easy to dump, costing me less than 2 seconds, each.

Still I guess I should poll the blogmunity on our options. In addition to continuing moderation, we can:

0) continue for a while on moderated

1) limit comments to folks with a Google account

2) limit to actual members only

3) finally bite the bullet and shift over to WordPress, where everything is just better than Blogger.

I invite feedback on these options.

David Brin said...

Thanks for the Rushkoff article. I was amused because I, too, was approached -- less formally -- about the questions he faced from rich fools. And mind you, I am a person held in some reverence (despite myself!) among some small-scattered groups of neo Holnists!

So, how DO you keep your security forces loyal, after the "event"? There is one method, just one, that actually has a track record and would actually work. It does not involve radio-controlled bomb-collars. (How I hope they'll try that, in any post-apocalypse world! It brings me some solace knowing what will happen to their gene pools.)

I know the one method might work at retaining staff loyalty for some kinds of New Lords (not others)...

... and I have refused to blog about it, or to tell it, when asked by some very irritated-looking would-be struldbrugs.

I learned about the "gratitude" of zillionaire survivalists, when I critiqued the incredibly stupid plans for "seasteading" ocean enclaves for the rich... earning petty hatred for my efforts, rather than the gratitude I'd earned for pointing out fatal flaws. (In the years since, it seems that group has adopted every single modification I suggested -- thus ripping me off.) So what do I owe the jerks?

Let's be clear. The world will never resemble Mad Max or The Postman. There will remain millions - at least - of smart men and women from the knowledge castes who are right now being warred upon by ludicrously stupid neo-oligarchs who assume those bright men and women will have no memories of elites who yearned for romantic apocalypse and helped to make it happen. Those fact-profession men and women - who know genetics, biology, cyber stuff and nuclear - will know exactly where every Patagonian, Kiwi, Alaskan or Siberian or sub-ocean hideaway is. You think they don't, already?

In that future, it won't matter whether your security staff are "loyal" or not. The smart security guys will be cutting deals and then bugging out of the target zone.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

0) continue for a while on moderated

1) limit comments to folks with a Google account

2) limit to actual members only

3) finally bite the bullet and shift over to WordPress, where everything is just better than Blogger.

I invite feedback on these options.


I'm ok for now with 0 or 1, although both have their downsides. Instant commenting vs filtering. And, of course, porohobot does have a Google account, as might many trolls.

If you go with 2) or 3), I again implore you to let us know what to do in advance. A few months or years back, your blog was in "Members only" mode for a while, and I had no idea what would make me a member, and still don't.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Those fact-profession men and women - who know genetics, biology, cyber stuff and nuclear - will know exactly where every Patagonian, Kiwi, Alaskan or Siberian or sub-ocean hideaway is. You think they don't, already?


Do these ubermenchen expect their favorite websites to keep going in the post-apocalypse dystopian world?

Zepp Jamieson said...


Anonymous asked, "Please, do a little excercise -- and give us an answer -- what is sources of information you used that made you think that "Russia ascending", "USA declining"?"

I don't read RT, for starters. I read books, for starters--Schwitzer, Krugman, Maddow, Monbiot, Klein, Marshall. I'm familiar with the fall of the USSR, the gang rape of western corporations and indigenous corruption that killed one in ten Russians, the rise of Putin and the reestablishment of Soviet-style autocracy, the remilitarization, and the expansion of espionage and other clandestine agressions against the rest, including overt military action against the Ukraine.
As for America declining, I invite you to compare just about any metric available today and compare it with 1978. Or just look at the Senate this past week.

Larry Hart said...

...as to those slave collars, at the moment that they threaten to terminate one or more of their armed guards, why wouldn't the armed guards exact preemptive revenge? As the occupant of the white house says, what would they have to lose?

David Brin said...

Zepp, while I am picking the 10% less-swill missives from his spew, please don't bother answering, except perhaps if you are triggered with a powerful point of your own.

Again, It's not RUSSIA that's ascendant in any way. It is the world mafia that is led foremost by a gangster mob of former commisars using KGB skills to suborn the US right and backed by the declining Russian state's residual military might.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Again, It's not RUSSIA that's ascendant in any way. It is the world mafia that is led foremost by a gangster mob of former commisars using KGB skills to suborn the US right and backed by the declining Russian state's residual military might."

I would call that a distinction without a difference. You are, of course, correct.

Anonymous said...

In terms of moderation/membership, I would prefer something that doesn't require a Google account because I won't have one. (Not that I comment a lot anyway.)

Moderation works for me, in part because of the delay — I've noticed that slowing down responses tends to make them more considered.


Robert

David Brin said...

Zepp, the difference is that "Russia" as a viable nation is not benefitting from Putin's rule, nor are the Russian people. They serve as sheep to be shorn by the mafia dons.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Well, sure, the culture and geography are pretty much the same and will be no matter what the government and economic setup is. But nations rise and decline, especially those that have been distinct units for millennia, such as Russia, China, England, or India. When I said Russia was ascendant, I was viewing it from a geopolitical perspective. Putin will die, hopefully sooner rather than later, and Russia will endure.

Anonymous said...

Putin's rule, nor are the Russian people. They serve as sheep to be shorn by the mafia dons.

Not exactly true.
Some of them have benefits directly from Putin's regime. Big ones.
Some other, much less, but they just do not know any other way of living.
Like pensioners, 60+ people, whose life started in USSR.
Other... well, they like majority of people in any country -- conservative and think only about "safety and stability".

David Brin said...

Experimenting to see if the fecal spew is over.

Zepp, you would like my story "The Logs" which revolves around Russian endurance.

gregory byshenk said...

In relation to Russia, I found this piece interesting and actually thoughtful, though I don't have the knowledge to usefully evaluate Milanovic's argument.

https://www.socialeurope.eu/russias-path-toward-a-better-political-capitalism

Zepp Jamieson said...

Didn't recognise the title, and the story description online didn't jog my memory. So I d/led the podcast for later. Always nice to find something undiscovered in the works of an author I like!

TCB said...

Re: moderation, I guess I broadly agree with everything Larry Hart said up thread. I don't have a strong opinion on the options; moderation does slow conversations down, and that is a pity, BUT: lacking moderation, notice how many threads have degenerated into the Ent and Locum Show.

David Brin said...

"degenerated," you have no idea. I've become adept at less-than-2-seconds per spamming. Poor sputterer could've written a novel.

scidata said...

The sheer volume and persistence of some 'contributors' hints at AI (or hybrid anthro/AI at least). Brevity seems to be inversely proportional to automation. And zombies are forever groaning and growling, to little effect. IMHO, Andrew Yang says more in 1 minute than most Dem windbags say in a week.

Deuxglass said...

If we look at the increases in productivity of 250% over the last 30 years and put that against the fact that 70% of Americans' take home pay has hardly increased during the same period, I would have to conclude that the Russian people aren't the only ones being treated as sheep to be sheared. Our own oligarchs and the facilitator class under their orders are doing exactly the same thing.

We have the unfortunate opportunity to see how advanced civilization can handle an extreme disruption to its economy, population and its political systems with the still unfolding events caused by the cronovirus.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) told Bloomberg News that if Joe Biden is elected president, he can expect to be impeached for working on corruption in Ukraine as vice president, yet not going after Burisma, where his son was on the board.
...
One little detail that Ernst missed is that for Biden to be impeached, we would have to have a situation in which Biden won the White House but the Republicans recaptured the House of Representatives.


Yes, the threat is that because Democrats had the nerve to impeach Saint Donald, any subsequent Democratic president will be impeached (if the Repubs somehow control the House).

Note, though, that she's asserting that President Biden would be impeached for something he did prior to becoming president. Wasn't that specifically ruled out in Trump's case, like he couldn't be impeached for Trump University or for colluding with Russia during the election because those were not acts he committed as president? If Joni isn't careful, she could be opening the door for more articles of impeachment against formerly-private-citizen Trump.


If a blue wave is strong enough to carry Biden into the White House, it will certainly be strong enough for Democrats to keep the House, and possibly strong enough to send Ernst back to the farm to castrate some more pigs.


She'd have more opportunities to do that in Congress. :)

Larry Hart said...

...aaaaaand that wasn't actually Dr Brin. That's what I get for multitasking around multiple websites.

The article I quoted from about Joni Ernst is really from this link:

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2020/Pres/Maps/Feb03.html#item-9


TCB said...

@ scidata, not every voluminous writer need be silicon. Hypergraphia is a thing. I daresay I wish I had more of it.

@ Daniel Duffy, I read the article you linked on Curtis White and counterculture, and I am all for that. It's easy to make fun of the hippies and dirtbag socialists, Romantics and Deadheads and slackers. But how many nights have we lost sleep worrying that the counterculture granola grazers would blow up the world? None. It's the Respectable Citizens who hoard nuclear weapons, steal elections, build concentration camps, burn the Amazon, drill for oil in the Arctic, operate propaganda networks, start illegal wars, hoard more nuclear weapons...

It's been true all my life: it's the Squares (specifically the greedy ones) who will get us all killed.

@ Catfish ' Cod: what you wrote is so good I will just reprint it in full.

Finishing up business from last thread:

* No one gave the reference for "Blaine the Pain", but I recognized the source: Stephen King's The Dark Tower.

* Flashman -- I'd skipped it before as being too unrealistic, but with that endorsement, I'll have to give it a try!

* Trump voters aren't suffering from false consciousness or voting against interests at all -- they are suffering from short horizons, both in space and time.

** Preserving privilege for pillars of the town -- the wealthy, the elderly whites, the Christian churches -- sounds good if you neither know nor care about things further away than the capital of your state.

** If you're incurious about the broad sweep of history -- preferring to concentrate on personal genealogy and local notables -- you'll not notice when the Founders are edited into caricatures supporting forms of theology and oligarchy they deeply detested.

** If you wish for things to remain simple, safe, secure, and similar to your childhood memories -- if you find comfort in the idea of an unchanging tradition passed on through the ages -- then severe immigration restrictions and bans on scary-sounding people seems proper.

** If you are a suspicious sort that distrusts what they do not understand, of course you want plain-speaking folk who use simple arguments. It doesn't matter how wrong they are, you can trust them because you understand them!

** If you know that the rich live in cities, you'll see the cities as your oppressors. Never mind that the cities predominantly are composed of poor people, too, or that they are also working against your oppressors -- while the rich control the very party promising to free you from their rule!

National media used to counteract this trend, but with the rise of the right-wing media (and the demise of the Fairness Doctrine), the atomization of newspapers and the climate of distrust, there's nothing to stop this insulation from exterior reality -- and the natural suspicion of outsiders, bred from our hunter-gatherer days, reinforces the hermetic seals.

(End Catfish 'n Cod quote)

Andy said...

A few others have inquired (including myself) - is it possible to have a handful of trusted members in various time zones assist in moderation, following whatever criteria you set out and/or their best judgement?

A.F. Rey said...

And if that can't be O.S. Card, then let it be his hero, the opposite-to-Jesus-in-every-way Donald Trump.

As a slight correction, I wouldn't characterize Trump as OSC's "hero."

I haven't read his essays lately (since he stopped his weekly column in The Rhino Times and I haven't found another source), but previously he has mentioned great reservations about Trump and his character. Before the election, he was definitely anti-Trump. As he said in a 2016 essay:

Trump stands for nothing except for Trump. He only does what he thinks is good for Trump. You only like him because, so far, you haven't gotten in his way.

Trump supporters: It's time to shudder, shake off this fad, and regard your Trump bumper stickers the way people regard pet rocks and Beanie Babies -- "yeah, I actually fell for that for a while."
(Emphasis in original.)

Even in a 2018 essay on the midterms, he said, "I am as embarrassed and disgusted by Trump as ever." He went on to argue that one should vote for Republicans in spite of Trump being President because they would restrain his worst impulses--and the Democrats would be far, far worse. (Hey, I'm not defending his position...)

(I look forward to finding out if he has modified his stance on Congress "restraining" Trump since then--but I don't have high hopes.) :(

So while he believes that Democrats are part of an evil empire, and Republicans are the last vestige of moderation (ahem), the last I heard he was still not a Trump fan.

OTOH, the reviews I read of Empire pretty much soured me to his latest books.

Larry Hart said...

"There you go again"...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/02/opinion/iowa-new-hampshire-primary.html

...
The problem with Iowa and New Hampshire, as David Leonhardt laid out in detail in The Times, is that they are horribly unrepresentative of a party that is now, according to the 2017 Pew Typology Survey, 54 percent white, 19 percent each African-American and Latino, and 9 percent other. Iowa is 85 percent white non-Hispanic, and New Hampshire is 90 percent.

So what the Democratic National Committee needs to do is choose two other, more representative states. I would suggest Florida and Michigan.
...


The problem with Iowa and New Hampshire isn't that they jump ahead in line and are unrepresentative of the party. The problem is that, because they are first in line, everyone treats them as if they are representative of the party--that a candidate who only comes in third in Iowa and New Hampshire must not have what it takes to win in Florida or Michigan.

If the assumption is false, then the solution is to just stop making that assumption. If you're not likely to win those states, keep your money-powder dry and campaign in the states you can win. The problem isn't which states go first--the problem is the accepted wisdom that the early states matter because they're early.

Darrell E said...

Of course the Republicans will attempt to impeach all future Democratic presidents. They started doing that back in the Clinton era. Now that Trump has shown them how stupid and or deplorable their base really is the Republican Party has cast aside all, rather than just most, pretense of rule of law and fear of being called on Big Lie tactics. If there should ever again be a situation in which they hold both the House and Senate while a Democrat is president, that president will be impeached.

Of course that pre-supposes that the Republican Party more or less as it is now continues to exist. One way or another I think it is doomed to die sometime in the next 1/2 to 6 years. I really hope that wishful thinking isn't biasing my view on that.

Keith Halperin said...

@ C'n'C:
Thank you for clarifying the "Blaine the Pain" reference.

@ Darrell E:
I hope you are correct, and wonder what may replace it.
Do you and our other participants (incl. OGH) have any thoughts about what will replace the former "Party of Lincoln"?
ISTM that there are very few so-called "honest" conservatives left who are anti-Trump; the great majority of conservatives have sided with Trump and (IMHO) are therefore "tainted".

Keith H

David Smelser said...

Keith Halperin,

My prediction for what happens after the demise of the GOP is:
- A small core of reactionary trumpist will remain in a far right party. These will be small in number.
- The non-reactionary/non-racist pro-business conservatives will join with the pro-business democrats and form a party.
- The progressive democrats/democratic socialists will form a party.

I'm not sure how the democratic socialist/centrist democratic split will occur.
I think it will depend on whether Sander's wins the nomination and whether he wins the presidency. If he wins, the democratic socialists take the democratic party name and centrists and classic conservatives form a new party. If not, then I think we see democratic socialists split from the democratic party.

My timeline for this is twice Darrell's prediction on the death of the GOP (so 6-12 years.).

Jon S. said...

My vote on moderation (for what it's worth):

I think that our current moderation system has worked well at filtering out the bovine excrement; I fear, however, that it may be costing our host valuable writing time. That part I resent, as I enjoy reading his writing.

Not too sure about the "Google accounts only" idea, as it doesn't seem to filter much at all. And I'm unfamiliar with the differences between Blogger and WordPress. I do, on the other tentacle, feel that it really does help when there's moderation, especially since Sergei and Ivan seem to be putting in triple shifts at the Leningrad Troll Factory in every other social medium.

Keith Halperin said...

@ David Smelser: That seems plausible-it sounds a bit like a hybrid of the 1968 (Center: Humphrey, Center-Right: Nixon, Right: Wallace) and 1972 Presidential Elections (Center-Left: McGovern, Center-Right: Nixon).
However, I wonder how much traction/credibility there would be between Corporate Wing/Neo-liberal Democrats (do those policies work for the majority of Americans now and going forward) and Non-reactionary/non-racist pro-business Republicans who've been tainted by going along with Trump (they've "danced with the Devil, got burned, and now stink of brimstone").

Cheers,
Keith

David Brin said...

While The Left vs Centrist split could go a number of ways, it needs to happen AFTER the coalition gets all 31 items on the Wish List. After which the Republic is restored, debates revolve around factual evidence and negotiation is rediscovered as a venerable art worthy of practice.

After experienceing betrayed hopes with the Panama Papers, I expect it will take a long time to strip the masks off of the world mafia-oligarchy and till then Murdoch will play mouthpiece for KGB/Saudi/gambling/Druglord kingpins. It could be a long slog and they will try to split our coalition every step of the way...

... recalling that liberal turnout-driven victories in 92 and 2008 were followed by lazy stay-home betrayal by slugs in 94 and 2010.

scidata said...

The American Dream
https://www.businessinsider.com/sanna-marin-finland-nordic-model-does-american-dream-better-wapo-2020-2

One of many stories about how the Rational West is moving ahead on its own. Russia-China-USA is not the entirety of the human race.

Larry Hart said...

A.F. Rey speaks of Orson Scott Card:

Even in a 2018 essay on the midterms, he said, "I am as embarrassed and disgusted by Trump as ever." He went on to argue that one should vote for Republicans in spite of Trump being President because they would restrain his worst impulses--and the Democrats would be far, far worse. (Hey, I'm not defending his position...)

(I look forward to finding out if he has modified his stance on Congress "restraining" Trump since then--but I don't have high hopes.) :(

So while he believes that Democrats are part of an evil empire, and Republicans are the last vestige of moderation (ahem), the last I heard he was still not a Trump fan.


I hate to be the one to tell you, but that sounds as if he is a Trump fan who is simply embarrassed to acknowledge the fact.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Senate Republicans did a bang-up job of restraining "his worst impulses", didn't they?

David Brin said...

How does one even begin to explain those like Card, who shrug aside the right's all-out war on every fact-using profession and overwhelming proof of global warming?

Who claims to be a patriot when his party does whatever serves unmodified KGB agents, Saudi petro princes and gambling moguls, while spewing hate and threats upon the dedicated men and women who defeated Hitler, Stalin, bin Laden and who now stand between us and chaos?

Who offers no statistical evidence that Republicans anywhere - except Utah - govern better... or even half as well - as Democrats and would run, squealing from any offer of a wager, shouting anecdotes over his shoulder as he flees?

Whose party is proved to be vastly worse at every metric of moral turpitude, including rampant child molestation?

You know I could go on... and on with statistically proven facts... but it's all irrelevant. Because OSC represents the dark side of Moromonism. The better side is one rare branch of US conservatism that actually puts into practice a belief in clean-living and truth-telling... one of just a few branches that might -- if they disowned the Murdochian-Putinist-Salafist treason-madness -- ensure the survival of some form of US conservatism worthy of respect and negotiation. But that's not Scott's side.

His dark side is frenzied belief in Nietzschean unbermenschism, that most of humanity is sub-humanity, that much of destiny is pre-ordained in genes, and that the Elect -- destined for godhood -- can and should rule, forcefully-though-earnestly, for our own good and the good of all. He believes in uplift! That he will be uplifted to mighty power and that he can then be the vehicle and instrument and architect of the betterment of lesser beings. And this driving imperative can be found in maybe 90% of his writings, in one form or another.

Oh, he's no Sauron. Rather, he is like Galadriel, if she gave into temptation and took the One Ring. Righteous beauty and right-ness! Chastisement of sinners! Grace and uniformity of compassionate love. The dangerous tools of technology and democracy taken out of our immature hands. Until we are ready.

Lacking Galadriel or a ring or any sign of an Ender/Alvin super-lord in sight, he will take the next best thing. Sean Hannity. Rupert Murdoch. Vlatimir Putin. MBS. Donald Trump. Liars and schemers and cheaters and oligarchist mafiosi. "But OUR mafiosi!" is the baseline excuse.

Daniel Duffy said...

Didn't Sci-fi writers like OSC get brutally parodied by Norman Spinrad in his "Iron Dream" (aka, what if Hitler wrote science fiction)?

Larry Hart said...

scidata:

One of many stories about how the Rational West is moving ahead on its own. Russia-China-USA is not the entirety of the human race.


In my more cynical moments when I expect I will live to see the end of American democracy, I'm comforted by the ending of Camelot. America will have created something in the world that long outlasts it.


Each evening from December to December,
Before you fall asleep upon your cot,
Think back on all the days that you remember
Of Camelot.

Ask every person if he's heard the story,
And tell it loud and long if they have not,
That once there was a fleeting wisp of glory
Called Camelot.

Darrell E said...

OSC is delusional. Over the decades he has become more so. These days it seems as if his delusion overtly informs nearly everything he does in the real world.

He does, or did, have the ability to relate empathy and compassion quite well (best example off-hand would be Speaker For The Dead). But as David has pointed out more than once even then his stories were twisted by his Nietzschean unbermenschism delusions and though in the midst of them they could be quite moving by the time you finished they ultimately seemed unsavory. Nowadays there ain't no disguising the crazy.

Larry Hart said...

If only this was not plausible...

https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/rex-huppke/ct-trump-state-of-the-union-impeachment-acquitted-senate-huppke-20200203-uxummpvtvvbyrlqj7kzom7juci-story.html

Utilizing my globally respected powers of precognition, I’ve obtained an advance copy of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, which he’ll deliver Tuesday night before a joint session of Congress.
...

You think these Republican mopes over here are going to stop me? HAH! As I so brilliantly predicted, they wouldn’t stop me if I shot someone on Fifth Avenue.

In fact, I’m going to shoot someone right now.

(PULL OUT GUN AND SHOOT REPUBLICAN REP. MATT GAETZ IN THE FOOT)

See, I just shot Matt Gaetz. He’ll be OK, somebody get him out of here.

Matt’s such a dope. He usually has his lips attached to my butt, where they should be, but the other day he said Republicans should limit my ability to take military action. Can you believe that? Limit me?

No way. I alone have made our military the biggest and best military on the planet, no one else is even close, and if I want to use it to distract people from my impeachment, that’s exactly what I’ll do. Matt should’ve known better.

That’s why I definitely did not just shoot him in the foot, isn’t that right, Republicans? It’s the Democrats and their liberal allies in the Fake News media who shot him in the foot. Or maybe Crooked Hillary.

(LEAD AUDIENCE IN “LOCK HER UP!” CHANT)

I know all the Republicans in the House will confirm I never shot anyone, and all my Senators will say it’s not clear who shot who, and even if there was a shooting, you don’t impeach the greatest president in history over something so minor.

...

Larry Hart said...

Pointed to by Paul Krugman, finally someone is noticing that the right has its own "political correctness"...

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/1/31/21116689/trump-impeachment-lamar-alexander-witness-bolton

...
The second thing is that it shows the ways in which the modern right depends on its own form of “political correctness.” We’re often told that the modern left is in some ways uniquely censorious, particularly on issues relating to race, gender, and sexual orientation. “There’s no right-wing equivalent to this kind of ideological policing toward people sympathetic to right-wing causes,” as the journalist Cathy Young recently put it.

Alberta’s explanation of Alexander’s vote shows us that this is simply not true. In conservative cultural spaces, even a very long right-wing record like Alexander’s doesn’t immunize you from the consequences of violating the community’s political standards. Stalwart conservative legislators are, according to Alberta, terrified of what people in their communities think of them. Imagine the ways in which many ordinary people in red areas, who have far less financial and social capital than the Lamar Alexanders of the world, feel about expressing anti-Trump sentiment!

The fact that this kind of censorship plays out in local communities, rather than the pages of national magazines, makes it no less powerful — and arguably more so. In fact, right-wing political correctness appears to be an important reason why Trump is about to get away with a monumental attack on the integrity of our democracy.
...

Larry Hart said...

New Stonekettle Station post from Jim Wright...

http://www.stonekettle.com/

...

What do Republicans lose? It's not like if Republicans force Trump to resign they are suddenly going to have to get gay married to vegetarian Muslims, have an abortion, or stop shooting down black men in the street. If they remove Trump, rich people still won't have to pay taxes, we won't melt down all the aircraft carriers into universal healthcare, and Barack Obama still won't show up on their doorsteps to take their guns.

So, what do they lose?

Because it must be something, right?

What do Republicans lose if they own impeachment and remove Trump from office?

They lose Trump.

Trump. They lose Trump. They lose an amoral bombastic fool, a patsy, that can be easily manipulated into implementing the very worst of their agenda without getting their own hands dirty.

They know this guy is a fool.

Those with their hands on the real levers of power? In this country and beyond? You know they look down on Trump with nothing but utter contempt, you can see it in every sneer, every smirk, every roll of the eyes.

But that’s the key to it.

Because Trump is so desperate to prove himself their equal, so desperate for their attention and acceptance, that he’ll do anything to get it. Trump is so pitiful, so utterly in need of praise, that he can be openly manipulated by news broadcasters and baited by a tweet.

Hillary Clinton, love her or hate her, had that part right: A man you can bait with a tweet isn’t someone we can trust with nuclear weapons.

And that’s the thing, right there.

That’s what Republican have to lose.

Trump is the guy who makes it okay to say those things out loud. They remember when they could call a black man a nigger to his face. They remember when they could tell a gay joke and laugh at the fags in the middle of a board meeting without worrying about a visit from Human Resources. They remember when, as a teacher, hating some towelheads in front of their sixth grade classroom was considered “patriotic.” That’s what they love about Trump, he says the words out loud. They remember. And they miss those days. And when Trump says “Make America Great Again,” well, that’s what they’re expecting. Those days, when they didn’t have to be embarrassed or ashamed of their hate – not that many of them were, mind you, but now with Trump, they don’t have to hide it any more.

Trump is the guy who told them they don’t have to be ashamed of being a horrible person. If they lose Trump, then they lose an excuse for their hate, their selfishness, their racism, their misogyny, their homophobia, their horrible religion, their wars, their greed, their fear, all of it. Trump is the guy who makes it okay to stand shoulder to shoulder with Nazis, with Confederates, with the Klan, with the Proud Boys, and still pretend that you’re standing up for “The American Way of Life.”

If they lose Trump, they lose a chump to blame for it all when the bill comes due.

That's what they lose.

...

Larry Hart said...

"When this sunovabitch dies, it will be on the front page!"

https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/03/media/rush-limbaugh-cancer-diagnosis/index.html

Zepp Jamieson said...

I posted a triple image of Rush savouring a cigar, with a Pink Floyd haiku: "...boy, have a cigar..." "You know you're gonna go far..." "...know you're gonna die..."

scidata said...

Re:
That once there was a fleeting wisp of glory
Called Camelot.


It goes back past Pax Americana, past Luther/Cromwell, past the Magna Carta, past several ME and Asian Enlightenments, way back to Athens, Minoa, and even long before. A proto-humanoid once looked up at the stars and wished for a better future for his children. It's not goofy romantic glory (I'll spare you the anti-Pollyanna rant) -- it's just nature, evolution for lack of a better term. History is a zig-zag that averages out to an upward line, as Steven Pinker puts it. But yes, we owe a great debt to the US, one that shall not be forgotten.

David Brin said...

While schaedenfeude is tempting, I try to veer away from it. Wife and I agree that personal appearance jokes are our least favorite satirical bits on say Colbert or Trevor (e.g. mocking Eric T's high-gum grin). And while one is tempted to imagine Rush's illness as justice, of course that's immoral and non-sane. I'd rather gall him by restoring the Republic and everything he fought to destroy.

David Brin said...

Yes, I think future historians will be unable to avoid recognizing that Pax Americana could have acted like other empires and chose not to, leading to humanity's best era, ever. Still, nostalgia is pernicious. It leads to fatalism and the worst kinds of conservatism.

jim said...

Well, Iowa turned into a crap show to match the impeachment debacle. Weak and incompetent is not a good look for the Democrats.

I am starting to think that the only thing that will prevent Trump’s second term is a badly handled corona virus pandemic and/ or economic recession hits before the election.

A.F. Rey said...

Speaking of nostalgia, Dr. Brin, have you seen Tarantino's latest movie, Once Upon a Time...In Hollywood? Set in L.A. in 1968 and 1969, it recreates the city at the time. You see ads for KTLA and KHJ-TV. They listen to KHJ on the radio. And for a brief glimpse, my favorite horror movie host, Seymour, appears on a TV screen. (Hey, I was about 8 years old at the time, so you can't blame my taste in TV.) If you can get past the gratuitous violence in the final scenes (overall pretty tame movie for Tarantino), you might enjoy seeing L.A. as it once was.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin: Could you re-post a link to the 31 item Wish List, please?

Thank You

......

@ Everyone:
Let's be optimistic and say the Democrats win back the Presidency, the Senate, and keep the House. Let's further say that the elected Republicans and their base graciously accept defeat- they still have the courts, thanks to McConnell. How then best to proceed with restoring the legitimacy of the Republic as well as a meaningful de-trumpification campaign?

An alternative scenario:
The Democrats win and the Trumpists (supported by the Oligarchs, foreign and domestic) "do not go gently into that night (of loyal opposition)". What then?

Your thoughts...

Keith

David Brin said...

jim, all the dem candidate has to do is keep the coalition together and relentlessly sound reassuring and mature... and evoke thoughts of FDR, not Lenin... and Trump will sink Fox-world. Those are big asks. But not impossible.

AFR I was older, so 1968 was by far the most exhausting year in all memory. Any week of it was a year's worth of insanity. Anyway, Seymour didn't have Elvira's... ahem... attractions.

Treebeard said...

Don’t forget Russian hackers. Gotta stop them too. Looks like the bastards have already hit Iowa. Is there no stopping these locusts?

scidata said...

A Scottish start-up just successfully tested a 3D-printed engine for the orbital stage of its 72ft launch vehicle. It burns 'Ecosene' (made from plastic waste). They plan to launch from a Scottish spaceport. Pure dead brilliant.
https://techcrunch.com/2020/02/03/launch-startup-skyrora-successfully-tests-3d-printed-rocket-engines-powered-by-plastic-waste/

Keith Halperin said...

@ A.F. Rey: Re: Nostalgia:
My wife and I were recently in an antiques store, and we saw a LOOK magazine (my folks used to subscribe from 1971 with the cover story about "Nostalgia"...

I wonder if, as the early post-WWII optimistic futurism of the "American Century"(1945-1973) faded ("We were promised jetpacks!"), there were a greater emphasis on returning to "those thrilling days of yesteryear"....
Also, ISTM that while technology has continued to change rapidly ("Thank you, Moore's Law!"), artistically, things seem to have changed much more slowly.
Recently, my wife and I were driving and listening to a wonderful radio station in Santa Cruz which plays a wide variety of tunes (KPIG).
While KPIG is certainly not an "oldies" station, the DJ (who sounded very young) was playing a Fleetwood Mac song from 1975.
No one thinks that it is unusual to listen to popular music that old (or older), but it would have been VERY unusual for someone in 1975 to listen to popular music from 1930.
With the exception of hip-hop (which is now over 40 years old), there haven't been any major, radical new movements in Western music (AFAIK), and the same may be said of the visual arts- I'm not aware of any major, radical movements occurring over the past half-century or so.
Are we in a period of artistic as well as political stagnation?

@ Everyone: what do YOU think?


Keith "Wants Something NEW" Halperin

David Brin said...

Keith, here's my general page of 5 challenges to would-be splitters:
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2019/08/five-devastating-rebuttals-to-use-with.html

They should be able to answer all five! But most splitters stammer and flee from answering even one of them.

There, you'll find a link to 29 CONSENSUS GOALS of ALL democrats... and yes you guys helped expand it to the 31 in POLEMICAL JUDO.
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2019/07/debate-special-shall-we-let-them-divide.html

AS FOR THE COURTS, it's not yet too bad. What'd make a difference is if the blackmail plague that I (and so far, only I) posit going on were to be pierced meaningfully, then there'd be a lot of Anthony Kennedy style retirements.

Treeberd though he was being sarcastic, when it was the truest thing I have ever seen him type.

Keith, I remember 1971 when there was a surge of interest in Bluegrass and music of the common people.

David Crosby: "We're gonna get back to the land, gonna make our souls free."

A.F. Rey said...

Anyway, Seymour didn't have Elvira's... ahem... attractions.

Like I said, I was 8 years old at the time... :)

jim said...

Treebeard,
Did you know that the problematic “app” was developed by a group called Shadow, made up of former Clinton activists and members of Sneaky Pete’s presidential campaign?

So rather than the headline “Sanders wins Iowa!” we have “Democrats are too incompetent/ corrupt to even count votes”.

At 5 today the democratic party of Iowa will release some of the totals, we will see if it matches up against the tallies that the Sanders campaign kept. If it doesn’t match up, expect problems.

Larry Hart said...

Keith Halperin:

No one thinks that it is unusual to listen to popular music that old (or older), but it would have been VERY unusual for someone in 1975 to listen to popular music from 1930.
With the exception of hip-hop (which is now over 40 years old), there haven't been any major, radical new movements in Western music (AFAIK), and the same may be said of the visual arts- I'm not aware of any major, radical movements occurring over the past half-century or so.
Are we in a period of artistic as well as political stagnation?


I have no idea if you ever read the Watchmen graphic novel, but back in 1985, that story had a character who took notice of the very nostalgia trend you are observing. Said character hoped to help transition the world past its stumbling block and into a more optimistic, future-looking stage, around which transition he was arranging his portfolio to capitalize on the new trend.

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:
Don’t forget Russian hackers. Gotta stop them too. Looks like the bastards have already hit Iowa. Is there no stopping these locusts?


It doesn't help your snark when the position you make fun of us for is one that no one has actually asserted, and at the same time is not ridiculous to consider.

Also, as a professed Putin-lover, you come across like the Russians going, "There's no global warmning" when they really mean "We can't wait for that ice-free arctic." You sound like you don't believe the Russians will take us down, when what you really mean is you're salivating for them to do just that, and you don't want anyone catching on ahead of time.

#SAD

Larry Hart said...

A.F. Rey:

"Anyway, Seymour didn't have Elvira's... ahem... attractions."

Like I said, I was 8 years old at the time... :)


I was...aware of Julie Newmar (Catwoman) and Diana Rigg (Mrs. Peel) at about that age.

Just sayin' :)

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin: Thanks, again. All of these are good goals, no "buts".
Have any of the candidates or members of the DNC, DSC, or the DCC signed on to these?
It seems that they should leap at doing that...

Re: the courts: IMHO it's VERY bad- not just the SCOTUS, but the appellate and district appointments of large numbers of young, reactionary, and UNQUALIFIED judges with lifetime tenure.
I strongly believe that unless something constructive is done ("packing the courts" based on a strong Democratic majority, SCOTUS/other federal judge *term limits[**although], etc.), many of the 31 proposals could be stopped or delayed for years (and we don't have many years left to fix some of these things).

Please provide me with some encouraging facts which show I'm WRONG...

-KH


* https://fixthecourt.com/fix/term-limits/, https://www.vox.com/2016/2/16/11024096/life-tenure-judges, https://www.law.com/nationallawjournal/2019/10/04/why-history-supports-us-supreme-court-term-limits/?slreturn=20200104170618, https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/11/supreme-court-term-limits-have-bipartisan-support/
** https://www.scotusblog.com/2019/04/academic-highlight-the-risks-of-supreme-court-term-limits/ (I think the disadvantages of lifetime appointment out-way the advantages of "doctrinal stability", if in fact that is desirable...)

David Brin said...

Keith, last I saw, stats showed they've only packed in 20% of judges yet. That will change if he gets another term. And if Congress passes a Disclosure of family interests Act... demanding financials on all public officials' families, then many of those will resign.

As for the 31 desiderata, it is insane that these beta plus candidates... most of them fine folks... seem to be utterly clueless how a Big Picture would help them. Biden or Buttigieg or Yang or Warren could say: "We ALL want ALL of these things and will bust our buns to get them, whichever of us chairs the meeting. Go ahead and argue and pick one of us for that. But don't you dare let Putin divide us or that list goes away!"

It would be a winning line... and book nor blog has enabled me to get through to anybody.

A.F. Rey said...

I was...aware of Julie Newmar (Catwoman) and Diana Rigg (Mrs. Peel) at about that age.

Oh, yeah...Diana Rigg...Mrs. Peel...that was one formidable woman in every sense of the word! :)

Still quite formidable, as Game of Thrones showed. :D

Keith Halperin said...

@ Larry Hart:
Thanks. Haven't read the g-n, but plan to watch the movie and the series on my televisor screen...
Wonder what they'll come up with next?
Hope it's something better than book-films: I keep misplacing the spools and those readers are hard on my eyes.

Keith

TCB said...

@ Keith, I am a music guy and your questions about modern music are in my wheelhouse, insofar as I have a wheelhouse. I'm not going to offer THE answer because I don't think there is one. Instead I will offer some overlapping observations about modern music. To some degree these are fungible to other arts.

We do not live in a time of musical stagnation; we live in a time of eclecticism. The old coexists with the new. Genre-bending and blending is no longer considered a problem. Old-hat stuff lingers where older and newer fans desire it. Nostalgia is a thing, of course: we imprint what we hear when we reach sexual maturity, over all else; but you can still learn to like new musical genres, once you understand why they work as they do.

Rap can be considered a genuinely new musical development; the Beatles, I've read, have more in common with Bach than with rap, because the Beatles and Bach both use chordal and melodic forms. Rap can use samples, noises, anything really; it can also include and use older chordal and melodic forms. A rap track may be based on a deadly dull 4/4 beat but the rapper, if they're any good, will lay complex rhythms over that. Think of the rapper as a talking drum. Top modern guitarists like St. Vincent model their guitar solos on rap vocals.

Advancing tech has democratized the music creation process. You can do on a laptop what the Beatles did at Abbey Road. Billie Eilish made an album in a bedroom with her brother and ruled this year's Grammys. If you can imagine a masterpiece, you can create it without a big studio. Remember, the laptop can't imagine it for you.

The catch is, it's hella hard to make a living at it. A hundred years ago you could play a horn all day and earn enough to eat.

You'll hear people complain that "nobody makes great music any more." Not true. You have to go find it, though. The Beatles owed their incredible success and influence, to some degree, to being the top band at the very moment when culture went global and immediate. No longer did acts tend to be known only as far as they could drive for a tour; the Beatles debuted All You Need Is Love in the first satellite TV broadcast. But there's still probably someone almost as good playing tonight, in a city near you, for fifteen people, who may or may not know how lucky they are to be in that place in the universe at that moment.

Per Dr. Brin, bluegrass is probably bigger now than it was in 1971.

P.S. there's a really bad trend in the courtrooms, where ignorant juries award damages to plaintiffs for a new song that "feels" too much like an old one. Musical copyright in the past has sensibly covered melody and lyrics only, and commercial composers could avoid breach by changing these things to some degree. But now millions are getting awarded when a new song uses the same chord sequence (there are SCADS of songs with the same three or four chords) or a similar but not identical cadence (when both of them are near copies of something Beethoven did) or similarities of arrangement (which really just means you're in the same genre using the same basic instruments!) Under these rules, the whole British Invasion might have been a mere footnote.

In sum, however, if you're looking for monolithic cultural touchstones in music, like Elvis or Sinatra or Louis Armstrong, you probably won't find them any more. The fans are all off finding their bliss in a hundred different directions. And if you want to know what the Really New Thing is? It probably sounds like noise to you.

Tony Fisk said...

@Larry Speaking of the nostalgic wisps of glory that was Camelot, here's another ending in a telemovie about Merlin (w. Sam Neill). Far more applicable to the current resident's personality type ("We forget you, Queen Mab. Go join your sister in the lake, and be forgotten...")

1968... for me was spent in seclusion in a small country town south of Adelaide. We didn't have a TV so I didn't really have much awareness of world affairs (was consistently late home from clandestine viewings of 'Lost in Space'). However, a 9yo recent pommy immigrant was having to grapple with other stressful concepts like redback spiders and outdoor toilets.
We had 'Deadly Ernest'.

I suspect that "IOWA!" is going to enter the urban dictionary as a primordial scream of frustration. Nobody's seriously suggesting it was hackers in this case (if they did get in, they may have taken one look around at the app, cackled, and broken the popcorn out), but the scenario of preliminary results that don't match the official ones (see Australia 2019) does act to undermine confidence in the whole process.

David Brin said...

Rap is rooted in something long expected... the complete exhaustion of all pleasing melodic forms that could be applied to contemporary song. They're all used up. Creativity fled elsewhere.

Larry Hart said...

Kieth Halpburn:

An alternative scenario:
The Democrats win and the Trumpists (supported by the Oligarchs, foreign and domestic) "do not go gently into that night (of loyal opposition)". What then?

Your thoughts...


Hang the traitors.

If it's us or them, I vote "us".

TCB said...

Oh and by the way, Dr. Brin is probably well aware of the prescient vision of melodic music's future in the Hugo winning Spider Robinson 1982 short story Melancholy Elephants.

Nevertheless, we haven't run out of tricks just yet. For example, weird time signatures other than the old standby 4/4 and 3/4 offer a lot of unexplored territory (math rock), as do divisions of the scale into numbers other than 12 (microtonal music). The human brain loves to impose pattern on chaos and find beauty in shapes that seemed bizarre and repellent not so long ago.

Frankie Newton and his Uptown Serenaders did one of the wildest and funniest proto-rap songs I ever heard. This is from 1937.

TCB said...

@ Tony Fisk, that Sam Neill Merlin miniseries is really great. One of the actors (I think it was Isabella Rosselini) said in an interview that she was unhappy with the more ridiculous plot points, and went back to read the original Morte D'Arthur to see how it was supposed to go, and use as ammunition on the producers. She discovered all that crazy stuff WAS in the original story.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Schadenfreude wasn't motivating factor, Doctor: it was anger that he spent so much time and energy promoting smoking, cigars in particular, just so he could 'stick it to the libs.'

TCB said...

Dr. Brin may be glad of this development: Financial Transactions Taxes Are No Longer a “Fringe” Idea. Bernie has been on the vanguard with the idea, it's one of his planks; but now some Clinton/Obama administration alums including Robert Rubin are talking it up as well.

Lloyd Flack said...

In 2019 a lot of people in Australia changed their mind at the last moment. This is what made the polls misleading. Did the same thing happen in Iowa?

David Brin said...

Phew. Iowan liberals are very liberal - hence Bernie. And they are elderly and old folks adore Pete. Biden shoulda said it in advance. Pete will now get more press... and let's all remember I deemed him the smartest of the lot. And the most likely to (perhaps, soon, I hope) actually dial into that list of 31 needs.

That Onyx song was fun! Not exactly a 13/23 microtone scale. But fun.

Tony Fisk said...

@TCB I liked that example because it *isn't* pure unthinking nostalgia, and shows how to deal with a narcissist. I particularly liked the bit just after the scene I showed where old Merlin, passing the hat around the audience, is delighted to find the goblin, Frick, in it. Frick compliments him on the story delivery, but notes he glossed over details about the...
"Oh, I don't think modern audiences want to know about all *that*!" Merlin peevishly responds.

@Lloyd a lot of money was spent by a certain Clive Palmer over the preceding twelve months. (Looking at *you*, Mr. Bloomberg)

While preferential voting is far superior to first past the post (and has led to at least one case where the No. 3 candidate was the victor), I wonder how many voters just follow the #1 ticket. If they do, things become much easier to game, if you chat up the minor parties. Palmer did this with those less than sharpest knives in the block, One Nation.

matthew said...

Dr. Brin is laughably wrong about his statement about all the 'complete exhaustion of all pleasing melodic forms that could be applied to contemporary song."
OK, Boomer.

Like sex, there are infinite variations to be enjoyed. Also, 'pleasing melodic forms' are in the eye of the beholder.

Dood, it's just getting started. TCB is correct.

We live in an age of wonders. If you're not constantly blown away, then your search algorithm is to blame.

I'll make you a bet, Doc. Send me a list of 10 seed songs that you consider golden and great to set your taste. I'll send you 20 back that, at least, will have a couple that will cause you to pause and say "hm." Maybe a new favorite in the 20. Or ask TCB. I suspect that they would do at least as well as I could.


David Brin said...

I have a research request from the hive mind! I pored through this source re: US military deaths by year. Alas, it stops this table by 2010.

https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL32492.pdf

Active Duty Military Deaths due to “Enemy Action“ or “Terrorist Attack” Since 1981

Under Ronald Reagan 1981-1988 295 37/yr average
Under George H.W. Bush 1989-1992 189 47/yr average
Under Bill Clinton 1993-2000** 75 9/yr avg
Under George W. Bush 2001-2008 3,830 479/yr avg
Under Barack Obama 2009-2016*** ? 390/yr avg in 2009&2010 the only years listed.
Under Donald Trump

* Note Reagan and Bush Sr had flashy/easy wars.
** Source (CRS) lists only 1 combat death under BC in 8 yrs, the rest are listed as terrorist attacks. Would be far lower, but for one bad day in Somalia.)
*** All Obama's casualties from inherited, Bush-obliged wars.

To make the point well, we should access the whole period since 2009. Anyone care to help me research this? But so far, it is a killer list.

David Brin said...

Oh I'm "laughably wrong"? Well, let me just gather all my steam for a ferociously angry... um response? Wel... not? I do hope UR right dood! Alas, then there must be another explanation for the number of truly original melodies I hear per year being down around one or maybe two.

Okay, one theory is... Okay boomer!

---Previous comment by me... Damn blogger takes out all the extra spoaces, making comparison hard! But Clinton's 9 per year... all but one of the 75 being terror and not combat... makes it clear who spends troops like toys and who doesn't.

David Brin said...

The Obama Trump year totals can be gleaned (or guessed) from a chart at https://fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/IF10899.pdf

Under Obama the rates steeply declined from 300+/yr in 2010 to low double digits by 2014, a rate maintained by Trump.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I'll never forget the time I saw Elvira out of costume and makeup. She looked for all the world like Sandy Duncan.

TCB said...

Here's a very fresh Casualty Status PDF dated only two days ago.

Of course, it'd take a little slice and dice to extract the relevant figures... notably, also, many military service fatalities happen later on, in hospitals or back stateside, from wounds inflicted by enemy action. Also: accidents and disease in theater often outnumber combat deaths considerably (though disease is not the giant fact it was in days of yore). Additionally, 'terrorism' is irregular warfare and so there's a gray area/continuum running from bandit gangs to terror groups to organized recognized state militaries...

TCB said...

...actually, in the PDF I just linked, I suppose all the truck accidents etc. can be grouped under Non-Hostile Casualties, and they're somewhat lower than I'd have thought. The US armed forces must be doing something right, safety-wise.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Quoth the doctor: " the complete exhaustion of all pleasing melodic forms that could be applied to contemporary song. They're all used up. Creativity fled elsewhere."

Did you ever happen to read Spider Robinson's "Melancholy Elephants"? Same theme provided a convincing argument on why copyright laws have gotten out of hand.

Rap is one genre of music (and not totally bereft of pleasing and melodic moments.) But there is a wealth of music out there that is rich, original, and outside the corporate taste bubble. Agnes Obel and Lorenna McKinnett spring to mind. Joe Bonnamassa. Iron & Wine. The Waterboys. I could go on....

Zepp Jamieson said...

Lloyd, I suspect that in a couple of weeks, when the media is no longer paying any attention, we'll learn that someone other than Buttigeig won in Iowa. I won't go into conspiracy theories (and they already abound) but the caucuses, which were absurd to begin with, are now utterly ridiculous.

TCB said...

...since I am nattering, let me add that in matters of artistic taste, it's part of the game to accuse each other of being "laughably wrong" about matters of pure opinion!

As for why you might not hear a lot of truly original melodies, I'd say that part of the problem is that much of what you hear in 'pop' music, which I will define broadly as anything that makes it onto the charts now, is drearily modular and repetetetetetive. This happens for reasons more business-related than strictly musical, I suspect. But it's a simple mathematical combination sort of dealy: if Arugula Fettucini's latest single is a honking gutbucket built around a repeating two measure riff of just eight notes, it will wear a groove in your brain and feel utterly predictable. But compare that to a composition based on longer phrases: there are simply more ways to combine a greater number of objects. Black MIDI takes this to an unhealthy extreme. Hahahahha! But let's find something new and also interesting...

Here's something so new I only found it a few minutes ago: Thundercat - 'Black Qualls (feat. Steve Lacy & Steve Arrington) This Thundercat fellow is disgustingly brilliant, and also funny, a fit successor to Frankie Newton.

David Brin said...

I never said there is not great experimentation in rhythm, verse, mixing and scads of other frontiers. Melody is a particular thing. And yes, Spider saw the desert coming. So did I.

David Brin said...

TCB look at both of my cited sources which are more finely parsed, letting me get average combat death rates per administration.

TCB said...

I don't see any raw figures for more recent US deaths yet, but it does appear that the period 2010 to 2014 shows a smooth decline to roughly pre-9/11 levels, remaining in the same vicinity after. This does not mean less mayhem: Islamic State begins its period of major activity about 2014. But US forces are less involved.

Daniel Duffy said...

Matthew: "OK boomer...there are infinite variations to be enjoyed"

Technically true, but the vast majority of possible melodic compositions would totally suck.

The point is not that ALL possible melodies have been tried, but all of the GOOD ones have already been taken. Taken by my generation.

Boomer music is so good even my kids think it is cool. That would be like me as a teenager listening to my Dad's Perry Como records. Yeech!

So let me know when your generation produces artists of the same caliber as the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Who, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Elvis, Jimmi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen, Frankie Vallie and the Four Seasons, the Everly Brothers, Simon and Garfunkel, Janis Joplin, the Pretenders, Blondie, any New Wave artist (my college music of choice) and any of our one hit wonders.

That music still makes me feel you mg.

So in a sense, I really do "hope I die before I get old!".

TCB said...

Okay, this site has a table at bottom with much more granular numbers for fatalities in Iraq and Afghanistan to the current year, with links to details for every single US service member listed as killed in each conflict.

It does not sort between hostile and non-hostile deaths. It also includes support areas in theater. The most recent are two USAF fliers lost in a Jan. 27 crash in Afghanistan and an Army specialist who rolled his truck on Jan. 24 in Syria. They're counting deaths almost anywhere in the Fertile Crescent as Iraq casualties. However: the first Afghanistan casualty listed is an accident victim in Qatar on 10/10/2001.

One presumes that if a unit was in the Middle East or Southern Asia anywhere, the fatality would be listed to whichever conflict that unit was there for. We can imagine two US soldiers from different units sharing a taxi in Qatar, dying when it crashed, and yet being listed as one Iraq and one Afghanistan fatality because of what their units were doing.

But, overlooking all these ambiguities, the numbers for Iraq do show a real drop after 2008-2009. Surprisingly no US Iraq deaths are listed at all for 2013! The down trend has been more gradual in Afghanistan (Obama's numbers there in the early years are pretty bad) but is very clear after 2013-2014. I haven't crunched any averages, that'll take a while, but the data are all there.

gregory byshenk said...

A note about the reference to the Panama Papers earlier.

It is not quite true that nothing is happening / has happened.

Here are a couple of bits:

https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/three_years_after_the_panama_papers_progress_on_horizon
https://www.icij.org/investigations/panama-papers/what-happened-after-the-panama-papers/

scidata said...

Isaac Asimov: centenary of the great explainer
https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-00176-4

Includes some poignant stuff on the need for humanity to grow up and play nice, as well as a link to Ursula K Le Guin. Whither their kind? Dr. Brin, you're carrying a heavy burden.

Darrell E said...

Trump Job Approval at Personal Best 49%

Read and weep. Not just the headline. Read the whole article. Note not just Trump's approval numbers but the Republican Party's numbers.

I suggest no one get their hopes up. We all need to fight the good fight regardless, but Trump will likely be re-elected. There are too many people that are deluded or feel that no matter how thuggish and un-American Trump and the Republican Party are any Democrat would be worse.

It really is ludicrous. On the one hand you've got a person who makes fun of an invalided person like a 4 year old, on mike, on camera while addressing their constituents and on the other hand you've got someone who wants to institute some sort of government mandated universal health care. And somehow you weigh these evidences of character and you choose the former to lead your nation. Fuck, Me.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Schadenfreude wasn't motivating factor, Doctor: it was anger that he spent so much time and energy promoting smoking, cigars in particular, just so he could 'stick it to the libs.'


Agreed, especially in light of Benedict Donald awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom last night, thereby tarnishing that award for all time.

For me, it's not specifically the smoking thing, but the fact that Limbaugh is somewhat personally responsible for the decline and fall of America, and that fact was a feature, not a bug, in his business model. Like Arya Stark from Game of Thrones, I have a short list of traitors who deserve no pity or sympathy when their fortunes turn. Jerry Fallwell and David Koch were on the list, and I was glad to see them depart this mortal plane, although way too late to undo the damage they willfully wrought. Limbaugh is on the list too, as is Moscow Mitch McConnell. My only sorrow when they are finally gone is that it took too long.

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

So let me know when your generation produces artists of the same caliber as the Beatles,...


I'm one of you, but in fairness to my daughter's generation,
Lin-Manuel Miranda.

I never thought rap/hip-hop had any value until I saw what he could do with it.

Larry Hart said...

Darrell E:

It really is ludicrous. On the one hand you've got a person who makes fun of an invalided person like a 4 year old, on mike, on camera while addressing their constituents and on the other hand you've got someone who wants to institute some sort of government mandated universal health care. And somehow you weigh these evidences of character and you choose the former to lead your nation. Fuck, Me.


It really is getting to the point where the Republican Party and their Red State voters are tyrants on the order of King George III. It's looking more and more like "When in the course of human events..." has to be dusted off and rolled out again.

David Brin said...

Leftists have got to settle for one of their own - Bernie or Liz - being veep and Policy Czar. Krugman on Seth Meyers said use of the term "socialist" is absolutely unnecessary. And I agree. Say "Rooseveltean" and dare the redders to attack the Greatest Generation.

scidata said...

Despite my hopes (some beloved American relatives) I expect a massive implosion in the next few years. You can't burn, rape, and pillage forever without beckoning a reckoning (tm). Pity the fool who's in office to preside over that.

David Brin said...

Expect floods of Saudi cash to float the stock market and economy till the election, then jump ship in ways tuned to do max harm, if the winner is a dem.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Say "Rooseveltean" and dare the redders to attack the Greatest Generation.


I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the righties are already plenty comfortable demonizing FDR. There was a Limbaugh clip that Norman Goldman used to replay on his show fairly often that went (from memory) :

"Roosevelt is DEAD! His policies live on, but we're in the process of doing something about that!"


Remember, "We've always been at war with Eurasia" is now replacing cognitive dissonance as a reality. With a straight face, they're now calling John Bolton a liberal.

TCB said...

This is my rap about Bernie Sanders, exactly! If you pop him into a time machine and drop him into the Senate circa 1936, his social views would be shockingly avant garde (desegregation? women's equality? rights for -gasp- homosexuals?!?!) Just like most of us now.

But his overall policy views in most other matters would be very New Deal and fit right in. He's the closest thing we have to another FDR right now.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Thanks. We have to "settle" for some sinecure the corporate bosses deign to throw our way, while simultaneously taking credit for the same policies they are rejecting Sanders for, and you want our support?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Yeah, from now on, the Presidential Medal of Freedom will be a sad, Rufus T. Firefly celebration of corruption and vileness.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/us/politics/four-more-years-chant-trump.html


While Mr. Trump resisted the impulse to show up at the Senate trial to reject the charges against him over the last couple of weeks, he used his State of the Union address to present a different sort of defense without the burden of cross-examination, in effect arguing that the “great American comeback” he claimed credit for outweighed the allegations against him.


Just like Pat Robertson defending an arms deal with Saudi Arabia in the wake of the Khashoggi murder. "This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let's not bicker over who killed who."


Republicans embraced the president many of them once scorned. They welcomed him with hearty applause and even chanted, “Four more years! Four more years!” as if it were a campaign rally rather than an affair of state.


Is there any doubt remaining that Trump is using Mule powers?

Catfish 'n Cod said...

I never expected Liz to actually win, and I'm not 100% sure I'd want her to -- she's the most qualified in policy terms, but as we have seen, that's hardly the largest element in "electability". The term "socialist" is mainly an expression of anger by young leftists in response to the constant pro-capitalist indoctrination and its increasing dissonance with their lived reality.

The trouble is that too many of the elder Democrats got the same anti-socialist indoctrination as part of the First Cold War, and so they'll never be comfortable with the things their parents championed described as "socialist". That wasn't what "socialism" was in their rubric. For this reason, Bernie will not even be nominated, much less elected, and that is as it should be. The primary danger is that Berners, with their own readiness to embrace conspiracy theory, are perfect patsies for Republican and Russian ratfscking to split the vote and win. This danger needs to be addressed starting NOW. A large number of the young'uns have caught on to the attack mode, but not all; and I have no idea (or way to know) how many.

@Darrell: I'm not putting re-"election" at the same probability as you, but that is primarily because it's a race between engagement and registration by younger Americans and vote suppression by the Republican Party plus foreign interference. My current bet pool is: 60% chance of a Democratic victory (40% clear, 20% disputed), a 25% chance of a clear and honest Trump victory, and a 15% chance of (possibly foreign-provoked) chaos.

And my biggest worries center on that 15% -- what could happen to create it, and what damage could be wrought in its wake.

@David Smelser: I heard a very similar analysis from a good friend two years ago. I considered it only plausible then. I consider it probable now. Anyone unwilling to subsume themselves in a personality cult in exchange for promises of power and wealth is fleeing the party Establishment; unfortunately that leaves quite a number of people.

-- As for the PMOF, I can't do better than the Slate article on the subject: "In a strictly anthropological sense, this is appropriate. As the increasingly prominent voice of sour, sarcastic, nasty white-male contempt, Limbaugh did contribute a great deal to our changing American society."

-- I gave up on OSC quite some time ago; it was his _Pastwatch_ series, fundamentally rooted in a philosophy of despair, that destroyed my hopes of further brilliance.

(to be continued, sorry for length as I must batch my responses)

Catfish 'n Cod said...

-- I am not willing to declare our age of freedom dead, not by a long shot. But there's little doubt we are going through an eclipse of the light of liberty. And the worst is yet to come: the response of the cult when reality breaks through -- as it must -- is unpredictable, and the possibilities chilling.

(The reason reality will intrude, in brief: the only way to retain power will be to institute greater and greater authoritarian and anti-democratic controls, which merely make more stark the differences between cult behavior and reality. If they actually had an overwhelming majority, they could make their unreality stick -- and do in places where they have that overwhelming majority.

But they don't, and it's going to get worse with time for demographic reasons. They also lack nearly every human and economic resource needed for long-term authoritarian success, with the notable exceptions of the food supply, parts of the oil supply, and a truly impressive stockpile of guns -- but in most cases, not a corresponding stockpile of ammo!)

-- The complete loss of rational thought in the rump of the once-great Republican Party is best exemplified by the Senators claiming that the Toddler-in-Chief "has learned his lesson". The only lesson he learned is that they can be rolled, and so he will continue to do exactly as he pleases with even greater hubris. They are making the argument for their own removal, and I'm not sure they are able to appreciate that any longer.

They can't win. But they *can* make an ungodly mess as they go down, and indications are that a large chunk of them intend to do so.

Larry Hart said...

Catfish 'n' Cod:

They also lack nearly every human and economic resource needed for long-term authoritarian success, with the notable exceptions of the food supply,


A reminder that there is no such thing as an "urban state" (except maybe some of the tiny eastern ones). California, Illinois, and New York State produce plenty of food.


They can't win. But they *can* make an ungodly mess as they go down, and indications are that a large chunk of them intend to do so.


For many of them, I suspect that is explicitly true. Kinda like euthanasia, a mercy killing as a humane end to an intolerable living situation. "A country that doesn't privilege white Christian men isn't worth living in. Better to end it all now."

David Brin said...


Yes, the right demonizes FDR... so let's turn it into a TRAP!

1. Name a rooseveltean actual policy you despise.

2. The Greatest Generation, who you claim to have ben when "America Was Great", adored FDR. Eisenhower, the last president who united us, continued and expanded all FDR policies... as did Nixon. Explain that.

--
Catfish, the GOP is not the entity, it is one tool. Those pushing it into madness have no intention of salvaging it. Their goal is America's ruin.

" I gave up on OSC quite some time ago; it was his _Pastwatch_ series, fundamentally rooted in a philosophy of despair, that destroyed my hopes of further brilliance."

---
Problem is that he IS 'brilliant.' Making Ender/Alvin etc so-o-o-o empathic and guilt ridden was such an elegant trick to get the reader to worship them as g-o-o-o-od godlings who deserve total power over decrepit-corrupt citizens.

--- The medal of Freedom must be retired, replaced by a Hall of Fame in which entry is not by Presidential whim but a broadly based commission that then names a starter membership list that includes 2/3 of past PMOF winners who are consensus heroes, like Rosa Parks.

Treebeard said...

Larry, I wouldn’t worry too much about Russians taking anyone down. Unlike you, I’ve lived among them, and they’re not particularly scary, unless you find ballet and literature threatening (granted, Russian pop music is awful, but it's not a mortal threat to Western civilization). I would recommend watching less TV if you're really worried about Russians taking you down, because it’s a media-created menace.

Jim, yeah I read something about that. Sounds rather shady, but also like something out of a comic book. Buttigieg reeks of CIA, don’t you think? It seems that the main difference between American democracy and mafiocracy is that the latter doesn’t try to pretend it isn’t shady, corrupt, and driven entirely by money and power. Maybe people are tired of the charade.

David Brin said...

And everything -- the fate of the nation -- depends on what NY state and the Southern District of New York plus leakers will show us about Deutsche Bank. It will take much more than this article.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/04/magazine/deutsche-bank-trump.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage


But especially creepy is the very last paragraph of this article, bringing home to me how deeply we have sunk into the realm of blackmail and godfather-mafia turpitude.

David Brin said...

The ent, who found everything Russian SCARY when they wore socialist emblems, now deems them amusing and harmless comic opera costumed dancers!

A.F. Rey said...

We have to "settle" for some sinecure the corporate bosses deign to throw our way, while simultaneously taking credit for the same policies they are rejecting Sanders for, and you want our support?

Zepp, why should we worry about a fair-weather Liberal like you, who will go hide under a rock until the next Presidential election?

It's obvious you're not going to be doing anything during that time. You won't be fighting for change. I guess maybe you'll write a few things on the Internet and try to convince a person or two. But you're giving up on accomplishing anything of substance.

If the Democrat wins, we plan on trying to get the new Administration to implement reforms to make this nation a better place, even if the corporate masters still oppose us. And if Trump wins (God forbid!), we will still fight for those things, even though their biggest ally is in the White House.

But you don't seem to be worried about that. You just want to pretend that there is nothing you can do between elections. So why should we worry about which Presidential candidate you support when you really aren't enthusiastic about what that candidate stands for and cares about?

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

I would recommend watching less TV if you're really worried about Russians taking you down,


It would be very hard for me to watch less TV than I already do, and that's counting Game of Thrones. I didn't even bother to watch your Lord and Savior address the nation last night.

Andy said...

I feel there's still a decent amount of good melodies out there, waiting to be discovered. Isn't the Harry Potter theme catchy and unique? Although I suppose that is nearly 20 years old now. My, how time flies.

Talk of other divisions of musical scales reminds me of this bit from The Moon Moth by Jack Vance:

Thissell practiced another ten minutes, then put aside the zachinko. He flexed his arms, wrung his aching fingers. Every waking moment since his arrival had been given to the instruments: the hymerkin, the ganga, the zachinko, the kiv, the strapan, the gomapard. He had practiced scales in nineteen keys and four modes, chords without number, intervals never imagined on the Home Planets. Trills, arpeggios, slurs, click-stops and nasalization; damping and augmentation of overtones; vibratos and wolf-tones; concavities and convexities.

and

He lent Thissell recordings of noteworthy Sirenese conversing in various moods and to various accompaniments, so that Thissell might learn the melodic conventions currently in vogue, and perfect himself in the niceties of intonation, the various rhythms, cross-rhythms, compound rhythms, implied rhythms and suppressed rhythms. Kershaul professed to find Sirenese music a fascinating study, and Thissell admitted that it was a subject not readily exhausted. The quarter-tone tuning of the instruments admitted the use of twenty-four tonalities, which multiplied by the five modes in general use, resulted in one hundred and twenty separate scales. Kershaul, however, advised that Thissell primarily concentrate on learning each instrument in its fundamental tonality, using only two of the modes.

However... isn't there something about the physics of soundwaves and overtones that fundamentally determine the scales we use and what actually sounds pleasing?

Larry Hart said...

In response to Zepp Jamieson's

We have to "settle" for some sinecure the corporate bosses deign to throw our way, while simultaneously taking credit for the same policies they are rejecting Sanders for, and you want our support?


I offer...

https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/rex-huppke/ct-iowa-caucuses-democrats-trump-primary-huppke-20200205-3zxx3iklsrayjlc6gykjzxwfsq-story.html

...

Democrats have to match that level of unity. And they aren’t doing it — not even close.

Democratic candidates and their supporters responded to the Iowa debacle in different ways, some expressing patience, others suggesting dirty tricks, some prematurely declaring victory and trying to move on to New Hampshire.

That’s the wrong response, which isn’t surprising, because everything Democrats are doing in this primary is wrong.

One thing matters right now: defeating Donald Trump. And the only way that happens — and it’s a long shot — is if Democrats bind together every bit as tightly as Trump’s legion of gloom.

That means candidates and their supporters knock off attacks on one another. That means advertising money goes toward shining a light on the myriad things Trump has done wrong, most of which are well known to political junkies but barely known to the millions lucky enough to live outside the bubbles of Twitter and Facebook.

That means a Democratic candidate makes clear her or his policy ideas and allows primary voters to make a decision without hearing candidates tear each other down. None of these policy ideas are going to matter a lick if you don’t push out the immovable object merrily tweeting lies from the White House.

If you want to criticize anyone, criticize Trump. (Trust me, it’s easy.) And if you have to say something about a Democratic opponent, let it be praise. Or say you might disagree here and there, but would gladly back that person in the election every step of the way.

There can be no cracks. There can be no divisions.

The right Democratic response to Iowa would have been: Something went wrong here, it’s a bad mistake, but we will wait for the full results to come in, accept those results in good faith and move forward supporting each other, knowing any one of us will be a vast improvement over Donald Trump.

Let the primary system do its job, compete and advocate, but march united. Don’t let yourselves split into factions.

This isn’t a normal election year and these aren’t normal times.

So I beg you, liberal folks, act like there’s only one thing that matters.

Why? Because at this moment in our history, there’s only one thing that matters.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Proposed slogan for Deutschebank. "We helped build Auschwitz. We helped build Donald Trump. Who knows what we'll build next?"

Catfish 'n Cod said...

I'm not worried about the average Russian. I'm not even worried about the (rare) independent middle class Russian.

I'm worried about the thugs, rumormongers, hackers, ratfsckers, honeypotters, scam artists, lobbyists, fixers, landsharks, loansharks, crooked accountants, even more crooked lawyers, and general sycophants that swarm about the oligarchs, the mafia dons, the KGB/FSB and GRU, and the Kremlin -- groups among which there is huge overlap -- and their Mobintern around the world, from MBS and MBZ to Erdogan to Johnson to Trump to the guys running Hungary and Poland. It's easy to win the board if you're playing both sides, after all.

@LarryHart: Have you *been* to the rural areas of those states? How sure are you that the crypto-Southerners of the Illinois Little Egypt, or the Palouse of Washington State, happily side with their rightful state governments?

Now, the sensible Scandinavian rural folks of Minnesota and Wisconsin and Michigan, push come to shove, won't put up with silly nonsense; and California's Central Valley is so easily isolated that I have no fears for the Golden State. Utah, also, will balk at outright betrayal of the Constitution; the Mormons remember religious persecution all too well. And any state whose agriculture relies on Hispanic labor will get a rapid lesson in the laws of life.

But I saw the same signs in the Yakima Valley that I did in the deepest reds of the South; and the isolation of the Great Plains breeds contempt for urbs of any sort. I can imagine some foolish attempt to rally "The Heartland", a swath of territory from the Cascades across the Rockies and Plains to the Deep South and Appalachia, against the Coasts and the Great Lakes urban centers. It wouldn't work, any more than my damfool ancestors' secessionist dreams, but what a disastrous fubar it would make of the country!

Larry Hart said...

Catfish 'n' Cod:

Have you *been* to the rural areas of those states? How sure are you that the crypto-Southerners of the Illinois Little Egypt, or the Palouse of Washington State, happily side with their rightful state governments?


Point taken.

But it would be awfully ironic if those States-Rights folks ended up defying their state government in defense of the federal gummint. We are in the age of the unprecedented, after all, but that would still carry some humor value. In the same way that it does that then-Governor Ronald Reagan signed gun control legislation when it looked as if the Black Panther Party took the Second Amendment awfully seriously.

Keith Halperin said...

@TCB:
Thank you, too. I agree with you, there is WONDERFUL new music being created and performed here and around the world: I’ve found a radio app. Which allows you to find stations based on ~235 different WWS genres, a number of which I’ve not heard of (Champeta, Dangdut, Forro, Schlager, Vallenato) and some I’ve heard of but don’t really know what they sound like (Banda, Grupera, Kizomba). Also, I think that composition tools will help create better and better compositions as time goes on….Consider if you will: in a few decades, we may be able to say-
“Sirexa, play 20 minutes of Balkan-flavored 144 bpm dance music based on Beethoven’s piano sonatas, and incorporating gamelan and bagpipes....”Sirexa, I’d like to hear 10, slow 1950's love songs with a voice that’s 30% Nina Simone, 40% Shakira, and 30% Freya Ridngs…” "Sirexa, you can tell how I’m feeling right now. Play things which will cheer me to 20% above my emotional baseline…”
At the same time, it seems that a greater percentage of live music is from a small number of hitmakers
(https://www.wsj.com/articles/music-superstars-are-the-new-one-percenters-11556962200.)
Also, I'll try those links to the songs you mentioned.

@ Larry Hart:
I vote “yes”, too.

@ Matthew:
Can you send me those 20 songs, too?

@ Zepp Jamieson:
I love Lorena McK, too.
Have you heard Joe B with Beth Hart?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEHwO_UEp7A, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW3OrLHj0lQ

@ CnC 1:37 PM:
I don’t believe the USA could or should stand a Second Trump Administration, as the Republic will have been broken beyond repair. (The Civil War didn’t destroy the legitimacy of the government itself.) It would be time to say “Goodbye” and leave them behind: “Trexit.”
Meanwhile, what are the best things we can do as individuals to make sure this isn’t necessary- to keep on (or start) fighting the good fight?

Treebeard said...

Larry, I didn’t watch the SOTU either, but then I never do. Trump ain’t my lord and savior, but it must be said that he’s a political genius compared to his opponents. He reminds me of Bugs Bunny, who keeps popping out of his hole going “MAGA MAGA” after the Elmer Fudd opposition keeps firing their best shots at him and looking like fools. It’s pretty good as cartoon entertainment, which is how I view American politics.

David Brin said...

Again and again, we must crush the kying memes of haters who would split our coalition. Dig it folks (and bozos), the last Pelosi Congress, the 111th, accomplished vast amounts in the 72 days that they could overcome GOP filibusters. 72 days! See the link for a list of those accomplishments. Fools who yammer about "corporatists" don't know squat about that. Nor any of the accomplishments of liberal-moderate alliances in blue states, across the last ten years. Nor all the goals that Biden and Bernie SHARE in common.

I do NOT think the dems' primary process has been stupid or wrong or even divisive. I think it's been terrific! Entertaining and lively, the debates revealed a deep deep bench of talent! They gave home to a variety of types who felt they were heard. Now the message from every remaining candidate must be:

"Hey! After the election, ALL of these talented people and many of the earlier dropouts and ten times as many others will be on the committees coming up with solutions. And decent, adult Republicans will be at those negotiation tables, where 20 years of obstruction by Moscow Mitch will give way to intelligent, sensible and badly needed reforms.

"Now let's be clear: I hope to be chosen to CHAIR those meetings, as president or VP. I think you voters will get just a bit more bang for your vote if you do choose me! But don't let anyone tell you we'll split into rancor, whichever of these fine people a majority of democrats settle on. Just like the Greatest Generation and the generation of Lincoln before us, we have a nation and civilization to save, and together we can do it."

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin: Agreed- no splitting until after we win and get the 31.
"...and decent, adult Republicans will be at those negotiation tables."

Dr. Brin, at the Congressional and Gubernatorial levels:
Who ARE these "decent, adult Republicans"?
Mitt Romney may be anti-Trump, but he did a fair amount of right-wing pandering/flip-flopping in 2012.
Which other elected officials have stood nobly against the evil Trump and his minion-base?
IMHO, the other Republicans (to use a contemporary metaphor) "have been bitten by Walkers and have already turned"- there's no *saving/hope for them....

Once again, I hope I'm wrong.

-Keith


*They cannot be trusted.

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH quoted: "So I beg you, liberal folks, act like there’s only one thing that matters."

Turn it around, Larry. "So I beg you, centrists, act like there’s only one thing that matters."

You can't get unity in a party that attacks one side for espousing the same values they want to take credit for themselves. Hillary has attacked Sanders and attacked him falsely and without cause. How does that unify Democrats?

The doctor bemoans the fact that Sanders refers to himself as a "democratic socialist" (omitting 'democratic' in hopes that people will think he's just like Stalin) and ignoring the fact that it doesn't matter who the Democrats nominate: Republicans are going to howl that he or she is a socialist. A party that runs from labels like that is not going to win.

Let's see: wagers. How about this one: Name a Sanders policy proposal that would horrify FDR, or even Eisenhower. The only one they didn't openly espouse was the one most Democrats agree is the most important: universal health care.

Zepp Jamieson said...

KH asked, "Have you heard Joe B with Beth Hart?"

Yes, in fact I wrote a review of their album a couple of years back for Electric Review. I thought it was great.

Zepp Jamieson said...

AE Rey wrote: "...why should we worry about a fair-weather Liberal like you, who will go hide under a rock until the next Presidential election?"

If you dismiss anyone who steadfastly supports a liberal candidate as "a fair weather liberal" you're putting yourself in a really poor position in demanding liberal support, don't you think?
I notice that for all the blustering and strawmanning you're bringing to the discussion, you haven't addressed the fact that Democrats need support from the left, and they dismiss the left at their own peril.

Alfred Differ said...

which is how I view American politics.

Where are you from again?

I can’t quite decide if you built a mental defense to cope with what you cannot change elsewhere or if you really are an idiot.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Turn it around, Larry. "So I beg you, centrists, act like there’s only one thing that matters."


I'm not a centrist myself, but I do fear that only a centrist can win in November. That said, I don't claim precognitive powers--I wanted Obama to be the 2008 nominee until he was, and then I went, "Ohmigod! We're running a black guy against McCain? What were we thinking?" Point being, my advice is not necessarily the best to follow.

But one thing that 2016 showed us is that we can't win by popular vote alone. We have to win states, and many of those states seem to share Trumpist values, backed up by state governments which see maintaining conservative supremacy as their job.

I wouldn't mind President Sanders or President Warren or President Buttijieg if you convince me that they can win electoral votes against the Great White Hope.


You can't get unity in a party that attacks one side for espousing the same values they want to take credit for themselves. Hillary has attacked Sanders and attacked him falsely and without cause. How does that unify Democrats?


I'm not happy about Hillary doing that, although I did think she had cause to call out Tulsi Gabbard.


Let's see: wagers. How about this one: Name a Sanders policy proposal that would horrify FDR, or even Eisenhower. The only one they didn't openly espouse was the one most Democrats agree is the most important: universal health care.


I'm not disagreeing with you that Sanders would make a good president. The question at the moment is whether he makes a good presidential candidate.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Turn it around, Larry. "So I beg you, centrists, act like there’s only one thing that matters."


I'm not sure exactly how you mean that. My guess is that it's along the lines of "Why is your issue the only one that matters? What if I say mine is?"

I don't consider "beating Trump" as a centrist issue, but as something that really does stand between us and anything we want. With Trump in office, supported by Republicans, we not only lose Medicare for All or judgeships. We get repeal of clean water restrictions. We get laws outlawing protests as "terrorism". We get threatened cuts to Social Security and Medicare to pay for tax cuts for corporations. If our favorite candidate loses to Trump, we both fail to get what we want, and in fact get the opposite of what we want.

That's how I take the comment that "Only one thing matters." Because without that one thing, we get just as much nothing from a Rooseveltian candidate as we do from a corporatist one.

David Brin said...

Zepp, typically you utterly ignore what we are saying and leap to point at differences among us that do... not... exist.

My beef with Bernie is not about his policies, which are very rooseveltean, but his tactical foolishness in ignoring opportunities to rob the Foxites of optics errors. "Socialist" is simply an unnecessary word when you are talking steps toward a health system RICHARD NIXON supported.

You perceive Bernie being "attacked." Well BERNIE doesn't! He has a thick skin and knows that siblings give each other noogies.

STOP BEING A SNOWFLAKE! The punches given to each other by most dem candidates are pokes and jabs siblings give each other in the sandbox or practicing at the Karate studio. Necessary prep for the big show.

Dig it fellah. I LIKE BERNIE! And I like Liz. Both will have huge policy power whoever gets lifted from that stage. I happen to agree with LH that neither of them are great unifying candidates for November. Not because of brains or policy but because they both LACK A SENSE OF HUMOR. The most reassuring and winning trait a candidate can show.

There will come times in October debates when a quick and jovial wit will domolish Trump, turning him into jello. Hillary lacked that knack and Gillibarnd (roast in heck) robbed us of the wittiest democrat. But Buttigieg could manage it. Harris too, if she's veep.

David Brin said...

now onward

onward

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: Understood, and I hope you don't think I was taking an adversarial tack. I just wanted you to mirror-consider the situation.
I do believe Sanders is a viable candidate. He's got a reputation for straight shooting that few politicians have and enjoys a level of trust shared by few. He can counterpunch, and has done his time in the trenches of politics. I'll fight the lies of Trump with the truths of Trump.