Saturday, February 08, 2020

Threats to democracy: oligarchy, feudalism, dictatorship


Fascinating and important to consider, since it is probably one of the reasons why the world aristocracy is pulling its all-out putsch right now… “Trillions will be inherited over the coming decades, further widening the wealth gap,” reports the Los Angeles Times.  The beneficiaries aren’t all that young themselves. From 1989 to 2016, U.S. households inherited more than $8.5 trillion. Over that time, the average age of recipients rose by a decade to 51. More than a quarter of bequests now go to adults 61 or older.

Fascinating and more evidence that stupidity is inherited. Because the rich should be the first to advocate FDR methods to prevent revolution, which the smartest aristos of the 1930s, like Joe Kennedy, all knew to be in their own interest. Instead, today's oligarchs appear to be doing everything in their power to bring tumbrels rolling. (And imagining that their hideaways in Patagonia, Siberia, New Zealand and under the sea will somehow provide safety from that inevitable rage.)

Matt Stoller explains how the fight against the recurring human curse of feudal oligarchy was fought in the 1930s, just in time for America to lead in resolving the crises of the 40s & 50s. (See “The Man in The High Castle” for where we were headed, without Greatest Generation heroes like FDR.) This seriously good video is highly informative and shows that other generations solved their own oligarchic putsches. We can solve ours.

I've seen one of the latest alt-right bullshittisms going around. They know they lose every wager based on facts and they now know everyone sapient can see climate disasters rising all around, directly caused by their cult. So one meme is "it was never gonna last, anyway!" Either fundie revelationism or else good old playground cynicism. "Soon all that will be left is jellyfish, so what matters?"

As you might guess I have an unusual answer. Do you know the Fermi Paradox? The question of why we see none of the great works out there among the stars, that we hope our own descendants may build?

Among my top five Fermi Paradox theories is one that I've seen no one else mention... feudalism as an attractor state that extinguishes curiosity and exploration and inventiveness, even if a sapient species survives. The fact that rule by inheritance-lord bullies and theocrats took hold in 99% of human societies says a lot. And while most historic versions of feudalism may be specifically human, the darwinistic reproductive advantage of lords/kings/priests grabbing harems is seen all across the animal kingdom. Hence its driving force likely transcends species, genus and planetary system.

So, what happens if such a society lasts millennia? The lie that "lords are superior" would become true by simple breeding and you'll wind up with castes, as in Brave New World, or in bees and ants. And when that happens - when we become specialists like ants - that's it for curiosity or outward endeavor.

Some of you know the Heinlein quote about specialization. As we'll see below, he was a man of the American enlightenment, and would have despised the putsch.

== The alternative? ==

Indeed, it may be especially human and rare that we found an alternative to stupid-ass, predictable and self-destructive feudalism. An alternative that - in the rare few times and places it's been tried - proved so vastly more creative and productive of every human good that we are using a few of the benefits right now, to converse across space and time... and AI minds may already be reading this, pondering which system got around to engendering them. (Hint: it wasn't the 99% of nations and centuries when and where feudalism reigned.)

If it's true that we stumbled into a rare, viable alternative, it means far more than our own miserable species and planet may be at stake. We may be the Milky Way's one chance to go out and save others from the Trap, bringing light.

And now the capper. I have watched these guys since they were a small band of cranks orbiting D&D and SCA. Among them are the top "incel" misogynist ravers (involuntarily celibate? Try acting like a mensch!) and neo-monarchists who no longer pretend that the "right" stands for for competition, or enterprise, or markets, certainly not democracy, equality, accountability or rights. They are unabashed admirers of Putin and the New Czars, and when shown that it's all just a bunch of "ex" commies and commissars-turned mafia bosses, they just grin and shrug.

Not long ago I cited Robert Heinlein’s incredibly prescient passages predicting that the US right would (alas) ally itself with religious fundamentalism who together: “–promise a material heaven here on earth, add a dash of anti-Semitism, anti-Catholicism, anti-Negroism, and a good large dose of anti-‘furriners’ in general and anti-intellectuals here at home…

What one of you pointed out was that in Heinlein’s prescriptive utopia novel… the generously good-natured, socialist-libertarian Beyond This Horizon… the villains and would-be tyrants turn out to be male loser-types jibbering about white power and putting women back in their place. Reading those passages, you realize Heinlein was also predicting today’s pathetic-though-dangerously-insane incels.

They jack off to fantasies of being "top dogs" when they are, at all levels, kibble. Still, they might prove to be a lethal fifth-column, helping pull us all down with them and making humanity... typical.

== Reclaim Adam Smith! as a weapon against oligarchy! ==

It seemed at least a decade that I felt alone, demanding that liberals rediscover Adam Smith as the founder of their movement and a core leader in the Revolution against privileged aristocracy, the toxic poison that ruined 99% of nations, across 6000 years. (The enemy fought by the American Founders and the real Tea Party.) Gradually, folks have rediscovered how graciously balanced and ‘liberal’ Smith was, and how dedicated to equality, which is the true engine of flat-fair-creative competition.

Of late, this cause has been taken up by the best critical economics site, “Evonomics” featuring cogent rediscoveries of a radical notion… that creative markets must maximize the number of skilled, confident, knowing competitors! You start by raising up all children. But above all we must also prevent cheating from the top. In Evonomics, Lindsey McGoey makes this point recently, as she put it:

“The establishment of perfect justice, of perfect liberty, and of perfect equality,” Adam Smith writes in Wealth of Nations, “is the very simple secret which most effectively secures the highest degree of prosperity to all the three classes.”

She goes on: “But with 1% of the world’s population now owning half its wealth, that belief is being forcefully called into question. There are growing calls to abolish billionaires and their privileges, including preferential tax treatment, handouts to corporations, and grossly inflated executive salaries that are often subsidized by taxpayers. If he was alive today, what would Adam Smith make of Jeff Bezos’s lobbying for ever-more government subsidies, or about government bailouts in the Great Recession that saved America’s rich while millions lost their homes, or about one top mogul's admission that “Monopolists lie to protect themselves”? I think Smith would say: I told you so.

“Smith was scathingly critical of the wealthy’s disproportionate power over government policymaking. He complained about the tendency of the rich to shirk tax obligations, unfairly passing tax burdens on to poor workers. He heaped scorn on government bailouts of the East India Company. He thought dirty money in politics was akin to bribery, and that it undermined the duty to govern impartiality. He wasn’t alone.”

And yes, I speak of all this... about shoes and ships and Adam Smith, and oligarchs and memes.... In a book that perhaps someone, someday, might review. Or better yet, actually use one of the 100+ ideas. 

156 comments:

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin

Damage to America as a Nation
You may well be correct that the Orange one has mortally injured some of your institutions
From the outside it looks more like the final straw than the mortal wound

Long term it may actually HELP by revealing just how fragile they were

Damage to Americans as individuals
Nixon takes first prize - his "War on Drugs" has killed literally MILLIONS of Americans

Bush 2 - directly killed tens of thousands

https://qz.com/645990/nixon-advisor-we-created-the-war-on-drugs-to-criminalize-black-people-and-the-anti-war-left/

“You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

I have watched these guys since they were a small band of cranks orbiting D&D and SCA. Among them are the top "incel" misogynist ravers (involuntarily celibate? Try acting like a mensch!)


Today's youth apparently expect way too much. I was involuntarily celibate until I was thirty, and there were times I could have become as embittered as locumranch, but I never thought the condition would remain permanent. Sure enough, the "incel" phase of my life is about to be relegated to the smaller portion, and that includes prepubescence.

Now we've got the likes of that guy in San Bernadino who killed women because they hadn't given him the sex they (apparently) owed him by the time he was...twenty-two? And they complain about others demanding unearned entitlements?

David Brin said...

Both of you. Fine stuff.

And yes, the number of weaknesses Trump has shown in our system is myriad.

Don Gisselbeck said...

If you are a self made man (made all of your wealth with no help from anyone else), you are entitled to everything you made. The number of self made men is precisely zero. Since the larger society made it possible for the members of the predator class to become obscenely wealthy, the larger society has the right to that wealth (perhaps not as Ben Franklin said, "to the last farthing").
These inheritances make it possible for people to violate what should be the first rule, "Everybody works". For defenders of the predator class that rule only applies to everyone else.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

the number of weaknesses Trump has shown in our system is myriad.


The founders rightfully built in protections against presidential tyranny, but did not conceive of a congress which saw advantage in getting on board with a tyrannical president.

Senate Republicans at the SOTU:

"Four more years! Four more years!"

Tim Wolter said...

Good to see the Regulars at their customary seats at the bar. I envision Duncan sitting next to the bartender's station so he can explain the makings of curious concoctions involving dollops of Marmite. Larry is over on the corner occupying (or is it Occupying these days?) the "Norm" seat. Seems as if business is a bit slow. Must be having CNN on the telly instead of sports.

I've been busy with more productive pastimes but feeling vaguely as if the duties of citizenship require me to weigh in on the matters of the day. Now that the votes for the 2020 nominations are being counted. Er......

The heat of invective these days has also kept me away. When I ditched the old Tacitus personna and went "decloaked" I anticipated a civil discussion forum. CB has not always been so.

Perhaps I should revert to the old format. Sometimes you guys get a bit rude and while TW might take offense T2 was able to shrug it off better.

Or if this has become one of those bars where "others" are met with cold suspicious stares - and we've all stepped in the door of a few of these! - I can just peek in the window from time to time.

T. Wolter

Anonymous said...

...insane waste of shipping goods across oceans. But the factories will be automated.

fact-check

Cheapest sea freight -- $0.80 per nautical miles for 20 ft container (with around 20 tons in each).
A per container railway transportation cost of $2.50 per mile in USA.
Air freight rates generally range from $1.50–$4.50 per kilogram.

Well, before *that* factory ever start working. Robots for it need to be hauled somehow to the place. And then raw materials. And then spare parts and etc.

Conclusion: That robo-factories need to be able to produce something as cheaply as 1$ per kg for at least. To remove that "insane waste".

Larry Hart said...

@Tim Wolter,

Always good to see you when you drop "by". I continue to be mystified by your perception (and to be fair, not just yours) that this list constitutes a liberal bubble in which no conflicting views are tolerated. Maybe it's because, for once, I'm part of the group perceived as the insiders, but I see a diversity of opinion within the so-called in-group, with many respected voices unafraid even to challenge Our Host. Heck, even jim, locumranch, and Treebeard have their say. If their say isn't accepted at face value by the group at large, isn't that how civil discourse and democracy work?

Or are you of that opinion that the purpose of civil discourse and democracy is to ultimately push conservative viewpoints, and that when they fail to do so, it indicates a system failure of sorts requiring corrective measures?

As you haven't weighed in for awhile, I'd be genuinely curious as to your opinion on the recent impeachment and subsequent "trial" in the "Senate". Not the politics of it, but the actual merits of the charges and of the acquittal. I'm not looking for mere confirmation of my own biases, but for the reasons that a respected voice would see things so differently.

Past experience warns me that you'll probably insist that we're not going to listen to you, so you'll beg off on offering an observation. Which is your right, but if you honestly find my air-quotes above to be more offensive than the actual proceedings were, I feel you're giving support to the observation that conservatives are the real snowflakes, and that the strategy of "Be so horrible that the act of describing what we're actually is beyond the pale" is working.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Here's my essay on how Sanders fits in the Democratic mainstream, and why people have to keep running from the "S" word. https://zeppscommentaries.online/?p=811

BTW, Doctor, I reviewed your Polemical Judo book, and while I'm not a big noise on the internet, I do average 10,000 unique visits a month.

locumranch said...


“The establishment of perfect justice, of perfect liberty, and of perfect equality" is a logical absurdity because (1) the term 'perfect' describes an arbitrary & unobtainable ideal, (2) the term 'justice' describes a state of being subject to specific moral & legal restrictions, (3) the term 'liberty' describes a state of being exempt from specific moral & legal restrictions and (4) the term 'equality' (when defined in a social context) describes a state of identical quality, quantity, degree, rank, ability or value between non-identical individuals.

Those who attempt to codify 'perfect equality' are quick to add absurdity to absurdity. They rationalise discrimination by adopting endless exemptions to said 'perfect equality', especially in the case of the disadvantaged, young, old, weak, feminine, infirm or incapable. This, they call 'non-discrimination'.

Then, these 'perfect equalists' attempt to reconcile the two mutually incompatible concepts of Merit & Equality, even though the term 'merit' is defined as an exceptional, uncommon, extraordinary and praise-worthy quality, quantity, degree, rank, ability or value whose very existence they term 'discrimination'.

They give lip-service to Merit by demanding that "Everybody works", except in the case of Equality's many exemptions (mentioned above), but they actively despise those successful & meritorious individuals who accumulate wealth for themselves & their dependents. But why?

Because, according to the logical absurdity that is 'perfect equality', unearned inherited wealth is immoral & really bad UNLESS those people who are inheriting unearned wealth are the disadvantaged, young, old, weak, feminine, infirm or incapable.

Then, free unearned shit is a basic human right that they term 'Social Justice'.


Best

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: GOP chants usually sound better in the original German: Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!

TCB said...

@ Tim Wolter, if it makes you feel any better, I am something near to a Jacobin and sometimes find everyone else here to be distressingly middle-of-the-road. To prove how leftist I am (at least by current American standards), I will now post a picture of an anti-fascist punching a politician in the face.

P.S. That's me in the bottom right of the picture.

TCB said...

Pace Locum, "free unearned shit is a basic corporate right that they term 'fiduciary duty to stockholders'.

Adam Smith tells us that any such behavior is called rent-seeking. Locum hews to the party line that only the oligarchical ruling class is morally permitted to do this.

David Brin said...

Tim you are always welcome here. Perhaps the Tacitus2 persona may be a good idea, though, as this place may call for that fellow’s slightly thicker skin. We love you! But c’mon man. we’re siblings and hence can relax into mild spats. Big deal.

In contrast, I let through one “anon” posting that I suspect was from Mr. Fecal, because it had no blatant odor and made an interesting point. Generally I am flushing most anonymous postings. The ratio of raving, insane shit-spews is - alas - pretty high. Apparently, flushing diarrhea is equivalent to “censorship.”

In contrast, merely offensively strawmanning raving comes from locum: “Those who attempt to codify 'perfect equality' are quick to add absurdity to absurdity.”

As are those who hallucinate that this is what liberals want or are doing. “Perfect Equalism” is all in your deluded head, goombah. WE are the ones defending fair competition as called for by Adam Smith. You are a servant of the great enemy of competition and enterprise.

TCB heh! You may be less alone here than you think. Where else do you hear the word “tumbrels”?

Between TCB and locum, do you see some room for you, Tim?

Zepp, got a url for that review? Thanks.

-

Zepp Jamieson said...

TCB: Is it my imagination, or would the Hitler in the image you posted, minus moustache and with blondish (sorta) hair, greatly resemble a certain American president of our era?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Locoraunch: "Then, free unearned shit is a basic human right that they term 'Social Justice'."

And nothing says 'social justice' like the Walton family.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Doctor, here you go: review of Polemical Judo:
https://www.zeppjamiesonfiction.com/cobra-kindness-a-review-of-polemical-judo/

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

TCB heh! You may be less alone here than you think. Where else do you hear the word “tumbrels”?


Or "guillotine futures".

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

GOP chants usually sound better in the original German: Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer!


The blood-and-soil types don't even pretend not to mean that any more. This is their land, and how dare those other kinds of Americans act as if they are equal citizens! And the law only exists to preserve their tribal supremacy. And then we get "residually sane conservative" voices admonishing us to understand how they feel threatened by equality and justice for all.

A few days ago, I mentioned that when Air America began broadcasting, it was a breath of fresh air, not because it was a lefty echo chamber, but because it was the only place on the radio to hear political talk that wasn't right-wing echo chamber. I feel similarly about this blog. And I suppose that makes those inside their bubble feel unwelcome here, because the lack of acceptance of their premises makes this place feel alien to them.

I can live with that.

David Brin said...

Thanks Zepp. Some deep thoughts there and moving... though I also thought I was pretty harsh in demanding we view this very moment as crucial civil war, recommending 100+ tactics for Union generals.

Onward together...

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

...the Hitler in the image you posted...


That issue was published in early 1941, before the United States had officially entered the war. And from what I've read, there was pushback from the deplorables of that day about how dare they disrespect der Fueher in such a juvenile manner. And of course, the usual death threats to Simon and Kirby.

Plus ca change, plus la meme chose

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Locoraunch: "Then, free unearned shit is a basic human right that they term 'Social Justice'."


Really? He thinks that equal treatment under the law is a perk that has to be "earned"...by what? Being born white and raised Christian?

Maybe he's the one who doesn't belong in this country, as he apparently has no idea what being an American is about. And no, it has nothing to do with giving people free stuff that belongs to someone else.

The friggin' Declaration of Independence:

...

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, 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, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
...

Tim Wolter said...

Larry

An interesting challenge. Impeachment is essentially a political act with some legal features. I think some people view it as the opposite. I'll try to not dwell on the politics but it can't be entirely removed.

The two articles of impeachment were for:

1. Obstruction of Congress and
2. Abuse of Power.

The first one is not compelling. The process was more partisan than past impeachments and was run out of the intelligence committee instead of the Judiciary. Anonymous accusers who May Not Be Named rankle. And the actual obstruction seems to me to have been not handing over information that Congress did not feel like pursuing through the courts. Not impressed.

Abuse of power is another matter. Trump certainly encouraged the Ukraine to look into the Bidens. Was this 100% for his electoral benefit? Or was this a legitimate instance of investigating foreign influence in American politics? I have to admit, Joe Biden's boastful joshing about getting the Prosecutor fired is a tough lump to digest.

Let's say the motives were mixed. The question then becomes how often do Presidents say/do/imply things that they perceive as the right thing to do for the country....and it just happens to benefit them as well? Given the high percentage of narcisscists in politics I'd say this is pretty common. The pols themselves perhaps can't tell the difference.

I suspect, but have no real proof, that this sort of exchange is common in international politics but that Trump is clumsy and enough of a narcissicist that he can't see anything wrong with it. If you propose to remove Trump for this then the same standard applied retroactively would likely have resulted in the removal of many past presidents. And can be stretched to cover much in the future.

On the whole the impeachment was handled in such a botched fashion that it is hard to see that it served any purpose other than to destroy the candidacy of Joe Biden. Ironically the very outcome Trump is said to have sought...

T Wolter

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry wrote: "... the only place on the radio to hear political talk that wasn't right-wing echo chamber."

Right wingers had an amazing sense of entitlement to control and dominate any and all discourse on the web. When liberal discussion groups arose in the BBSes and on Usenet, they would quickly invade, flooding the groups with propaganda, graduating to harrassment and invective. There was one private internet called OneNet, where Sysops gleefully and openly bragged of eliminating all "leftist" posts. When Al Franken wrote "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Liar", local righties tried to get the town council to shut down the bookstore for carrying it. When we formed the Lying Socialist Weasels in 1997, word got out and we had endless complaints about having a group that "excluded real Americans" and hundreds of applications from personas claiming to be liberal but intent on disruption. Mind you, this was a private group.
So we've come a long way since then. Although outfits like Facebook seem intent on restoring the near-monopoly of the right from 25 years ago.

Don Gisselbeck said...

I'll repeat a quote from a while back for the benefit of Locumramch: "Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect." Frank Wilhoit
I am not favoring equality of outcomes, only proportionality of outcomes. There are no members of the predator class as skilled and hardworking as the average Montana rancher, therefore none of them should be as wealthy.

Larry Hart said...

@Tim Wolter,

Thanks for responding. I've got counterarguments for most of your points, and I intend to make them. I hope you don't perceive that as a sign that you're not welcome here or not being heard. In fact, I find back-and-forth dialectic to be instructive.


An interesting challenge. Impeachment is essentially a political act with some legal features. I think some people view it as the opposite.


As intended, anyway, I see it as a political act with legal justification.


I'll try to not dwell on the politics but it can't be entirely removed.


There are always politics involved in that congress is more likely to act to remove a president of the party opposite than of their own. However, Madison and Hamilton surely believed that an egregious enough transgression would force even the president's partisans to sit up and take notice. My own take is that they expected congress to guard their own power against that of a runaway executive, and never quite conceived of a congress who would see benefit in empowering a dictator.


1. Obstruction of Congress and
2. Abuse of Power.

The first one is not compelling. The process was more partisan than past impeachments ...


Tim, I will take your word for it that you felt Clinton's impeachment was not a purely partisan move, but I am very skeptical. I suspect that in 1998, you were on about the sanctity of testimony before congress, and that no one, not even the president is above the law. Since I didn't actually know you back then, this is just a guess on my part, for what it's worth.

Dershowitz and Ken Starr arguing that a president cannot be impeached for abuse of power or for obstruction congress, well that's just bizarre to the point of absurdity.

I already know this will go over the character limit, so, to be continued...

Unknown said...

T Wolter,

Like most of the Republican senators, you have found enough cover to sound almost reasonable.

Why should the congress have to go to court to get even minimal cooperation from the Executive?

And what exactly is it about Obama's foreign policy in Ukraine that needs to be investigated? If you don't have a good answer, it was all about benefit to Trump.

It would be nice to hear from a Republican who was not an apologist. This was not it.

Kal Kallevig

Zepp Jamieson said...

Just because we all could use a little bit of cheering up:

https://www.inverse.com/science/nasa-brings-voyager-2-fully-back-online-11.5-billion-miles-from-earth?utm_campaign=inverse&utm_content=1581096657&utm_medium=owned&utm_source=facebook

In an incredible feat of remote engineering, NASA has fixed one of the most intrepid explorers in human history. Voyager 2, currently some 11.5 billion miles from Earth, is back online and resuming its mission to collect scientific data on the solar system and the interstellar space beyond.

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH: 1941, before the United States had officially entered the war.

I don't imagine the Bundies got very far with their efforts to prevent defamation of dear Adolph. After all, he was already at war with three of America's closest allies, and attacking American shipping in the north Atlantic.

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter (continued)...

And the actual obstruction seems to me to have been not handing over information that Congress did not feel like pursuing through the courts. Not impressed.


Several things. Did you know that an impeachment proceeding must be completed by the same (two year) Congress which began it?


Abuse of power is another matter. Trump certainly encouraged the Ukraine to look into the Bidens. Was this 100% for his electoral benefit? Or was this a legitimate instance of investigating foreign influence in American politics? I have to admit, Joe Biden's boastful joshing about getting the Prosecutor fired is a tough lump to digest.


Biden, as an agent of actual US policy at the time, pressured Ukraine to remove a prosecutor that the US and most of Europe knew was corrupt and doing Putin's bidding. He didn't act as a rogue element on his own just to protect Hunter. I may be wrong about this, but I suspect Hunter Biden's improprieties would have been less threatened under the old prosecutor if they were playing ball together.

The very idea that Trump "cares about corruption" other than making sure he gets his cut is ridiculous. His favorite world leaders are Putin, Kim Jung Un, and they guys in Turkey and the Phillipines. Corruption is Trump's entire business model, and always has been, since long before he was a politician. So where was the concern over corruption when similar aid was released to Ukraine in 2017 and 2018? Suddenly, there's a national security reason to withhold aid--and to keep congress in the dark--because the Bidens are involved?

Sorry, dude, it doesn't pass the smell test.


The question then becomes how often do Presidents say/do/imply things that they perceive as the right thing to do for the country....and it just happens to benefit them as well? Given the high percentage of narcisscists in politics I'd say this is pretty common.

The point isn't whether a legitimate act happened to also benefit him personally. The point is that the way he withheld the aid wasn't a legitimate act. You really think there's nothing untoward going on when he's got Rudy frickin' Giuliani end-running the deal around the actual State Department?


On the whole the impeachment was handled in such a botched fashion ...


I'd say the impeachment was handled very professionally, whereas the defense was a clown show, although one which knew going in that a clown show was all they needed. Even Republicans admit that Trump did what he's accused of. It's just that they either like him doing so, or they claim that doing so doesn't rise to the level of impeachable. What they seem to mean is that it is impolite to sully Trump's reputation by daring to mention how egregiously he has treated the office of the presidency. So once again, the offense isn't as bad as mentioning it is.

Would you have been ok with impeachment for violating the emoluments clause from day 1, conducting foreign policy on the basis of what's good for his personal businesses and charging the taxpayer for his retinue to travel with him to his own golf resorts? The fact is that there are so many legitimate reasons to impeach this president that the very volume works against us, forcing us to pick and choose. But consider this--what do you think the Constitutional Convention had in mind when they inserted impeachment into the document? If this president doesn't merit impeachment, can you even imagine one who does? What exactly would that look like?

David Brin said...

Tim, seriously, those are your rationalizations?

1. the Foxites have never once actually named a crime that Hunter Biden is asserted to have broken. SHOULD his position with Burisma be illegal? Well, Dad was retired at the time. But yes, All politicians and elites should have to reveal not only all their own financial entanglements but also those of relatives?

You'd have a problem with that? If it were law, with a grace period, scores of democratic pols and associates would have to resign or fess up and a few go to jail. And almost every Republican at any level. And yes, your ahrugging off the tax returns and Deutsche Bank and emuluments and Trump sons and all of that is deeply disturbing.

2. As LH said: EVERYONE knew - from EU to Interpol to Transparency International etc - that the previous prosecutor was Putin's last hand into Ukrainian power, preventing waves of corruption investigations that then flowed rapidly, as soon as he was fired. Now I'll be you actually knew that, so why didin't is color your position?

3. 25 years and half a billion dollars of Clinton "investigations" in which nearly all documents were handed over and every fifth assistant grilled and probed, finding absolutely nothing... and then you turn and call it "not obstruction" for the Putin-ites - sorry Trumpists - to thwart every single congressional subpoena investigating vastly worse things?

Your rationalization is - let the courts decide. Whaaaa? 240 years of regular obedience to Congressional oversight, thwarted overnight into a universal principle of F.U. by the executive branch and you DON'T call that obstruction? Forbidding any look at why Deutsche Bank followed a one BILLION dollar deposit from a Putin Pal with instantly lending Trump out of his 6th bankruptcy... and you respond with a shrug.

Obstruction is the one that's proved, top to bottom. The Zelensky threat thing was horrific and impeachable... but I could see lickspittle GOP senators finding an excuse there. Obstruction is the name of the game daily.

Tim Wolter said...

As it happens Kal I am not a Republican. I'm and independent and have cast votes for both parties. If you want to be specific and a bit nosy, no, I did not vote for Trump. The interaction of the three co-equal branches of government is an important feature of our system. They don't always see things the same way. I actually agree that the executive branch has too much power at the moment, but that does not give Congress carte blanche.

Larry

My attitude towards the Clinton impeachment was that it was a foolish thing to do. But once the process was launched I said...well, that's the system we have, do your jobs. Votes were taken. President was not removed. The nation went on. Although quite a few of those foolishly pushing for impeachment found themselves voted out of office.

James Buchanan should have been impeached. You are certainly free to suggest others.

And a question for you. Do you advocate impeaching Trump again?

TW

David Brin said...

Tim do you notice what you do? You focus on Trump's loathsome personality and imply: "See? I am aware of his faults and thus I have credibility, as I now proceed to ignore all the real crimes."

I just finished arguing with an old friend who insists that tribalism overcomes all reason and even smart people will NOT heed any mountain of evidence that their tribe has gone bad. I assert that it is possible for evidence to cross a red line, whereupon a decent and patriotic citizen will say: "Enough!"

Tim, what I'd really love is to get your reaction to POLEMICAL JUDO. Especially Chapter 6, but also #2 and several others.

Is there even remotely conceivably a red line for you.

duncan cairncross said...

Amendment 2A

A Thieving Oligarchy, being necessary to the security of the very rich, the right of the people to keep secret their Tax Returns, shall not be infringed."

David Brin said...

"Do you advocate impeaching Trump again?"

I advocate protecting the civil service and officer corps who have protected us for three years from truly horrific consequences of having a commander in chief who is (and I mean literally) an agent of several foreign powers.

No, you do not favor co-equal branches of government, Tim. You are aiding and abetting the gelding, castrating and neutering of Congress's oversight abilities, which never before had to go begging to court, especially a Court that has proved repeatedly it is now suborned.

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

And a question for you. Do you advocate impeaching Trump again?


On the merits, yes. Every day, a new article. Over and over again. Don't give the Senate time to confirm more judges. And make the point that the charges are not just frivolous things to pester Trump with, but that there really are that many reasons to impeach him.

But I suspect that as a real-world tactic, it would fail miserably and increase support for the "beleaguered" president.

Now, I have a question for you. All the speeches and rallies and tweets in which Trump has to advertise to us that he's our "favorite president" and that Democrats are "horrible" and that in general he has to tell the audience who to cheer and boo for because they won't know the correct answers otherwise...that doesn't bother you? This is how an American president is supposed to comport himself? This is ok with a conservative?

As a line from Sundiver once had it, "This sophont is dangerous!". For that reason alone, I'd invoke an old rule of yours applied to John Bohner and say that congress should do anything that's Constitutionally allowed to protect us from the clear and present danger in the White House.

TCB said...

Mention of echo chambers, and how right wingers own some areas of media almost completely, and yet complain of fearing for their free speech, leads me to remind the assembled of one more thing:

Remember that time when conservatives in Congress and media, led by Joe McCarthy (assisted by Roy Cohn, later attorney to future president Trump), blacklisted liberals and political leftists in the entertainment and media industry? The argument was that people like Dalton Trumbo, Paul Robeson and the late Orson Bean might use their influence to help the Communists undermine the security of the United States. Some careers survived, some did not.

But god forbid that Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh might suffer some similar fate. I mean, what did they ever do that might undermine the United States?

Larry Hart said...

Hey, I believe someone here recently mentioned a new book by Robert Harris called The Second Sleep. I happened to come across it at the library, and only five chapters in, I already second the recommendation. In a medieval setting, it evokes Asimov's Foundation to an extent which must be intentional. To say any more would be a major spoiler.

TCB said...

I wish I could find a copy of my old essay A Systems View of Eternal Vigilance. It was on an old local blog (things on the internet do NOT last forever, that's a myth.)

In it, I described how I reacted to one of the Dialogues in Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter. If you don't know this book, it's hard to describe. I'll just quote the wiki:

"By exploring common themes in the lives and works of logician Kurt Gödel, artist M. C. Escher, and composer Johann Sebastian Bach, the book expounds concepts fundamental to mathematics, symmetry, and intelligence. Through illustration and analysis, the book discusses how, through self-reference and formal rules, systems can acquire meaning despite being made of "meaningless" elements. It also discusses what it means to communicate, how knowledge can be represented and stored, the methods and limitations of symbolic representation, and even the fundamental notion of "meaning" itself."

Anyway. Holy shit, someone independently referenced the same dialog in basically the same context. In the dialog, a prankster brings a record to his friend's house which is designed to demolish the poor fellow's perfect record player.

Later, the Crab buys an even better record player which analyzes the record and reassembles itself. But Tortoise brings a record that attacks the self-assembly mechanism itself. This is a metaphor for the way Gödel proved that it was impossible to create a formal or mathematical system powerful enough to answer every question that could be asked in it. If you expand such a system, make it more and more complex, you can cover more and more such questions; but it will also create new unanswerable cases.

When I first read this circa 1980, I was appalled at the realization that it applied to biology too (the immune system can't expand to cover every possible new virus) and to government (the Constitution and laws can be changed and updated, but those who wish to subvert them will always find some avenue of attack that hasn't been covered yet).

And that is a systems view of why "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." Wendell Phillips said that at an anti-slavery meeting in 1852, but some unknown person came up with the line decades before. You cannot, as the more modern slang goes, sleep on liberty. You cannot set up a 'perfect' legal framework that will keep working if you neglect it; the enemies of freedom will sabotage your perfect system and after a while it will be a shambles.

That's what we collectively did, though. To offer but one example, it's the ridiculous rationale given by the Supreme Court when it gutted enforcement of the Voting Rights Act in the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder decision.

In the 5-4 ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts implied that the problems of systemic racism and voter discrimination were part of a bygone era: The Act’s rules, he wrote, were “based on decades-old data and eradicated practices.” See? We don't need those rules, that stuff don't happen no more!

Naturally, it's happening again.

Sayyy, I haven't seen any newspaper headlines about grave robbing or cannibalism lately. Guess we don't need those laws either!

David Brin said...

The enlightenment experiment is supposed to deal with the Godel problem TCB cites by making it all much more "ecological" and lateral. If most problems and cheats draw lateral complaint, then they remain within the system's capabilities, so long as the system is upgraded enough to keep up in the most general sense.

The only way this can work, of course, is if the ecosystem is awash in light.

Unknown said...

I see I'm not the only left libertarian out there.......

Larry Hart said...

Don Gisselbeck:

I'll repeat a quote from a while back for the benefit of Locumramch: "Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect." Frank Wilhoit


I would suspect that loc sees no irony in that quote and in fact agrees that it describes the situation which correctly exists in these United States. That the out-groups demanding equal protection under the law are asking to be given someone else's property.

Tim Wolter said...

So much to respond to....too much really, I'll miss several points. I do have to start with a minor chide. David you are doing your usual off putting thing...you are telling me what I believe with statements like "No, you do not favor co-equal branches of government" I of course do although we have differences of opinion on details. Your passion gets the better of you in discourse and as Mr. Spock once said "It will be your undoing".

Larry. My wife is very troubled by the spectacle of Trump rallies, seeing them in much the same light as you do. I, and maybe you too, should probably attend one some day just to see what it really feels like. I understand the concerns. I'd offer a parallel thought on this. Trump is a showman. He sees politics as show biz. That btw is one of the many things I don't like about him. Consider the music industry. It once rested on the foundation of record stores where you bought physical objects. Now that has vanished and there is a renewed reliance on an old form....live performances often of a spectacular nature. Trump seems to understand that the Nightly News, robo calls and land fill filling flyers on door handles no longer works in politics. He is the master of the new politics and I do understand the risk that it could be the bad old stuff.

More to say so multiple posts

TW

Tim Wolter said...

On the matter of foreign policy decisions that impact both national interest and the interests of the Presidents personal or party advantage. Do you recognize the possibility of mixed situations? If you are going Total Zoroastrian with all Democrats being the light of Ahura Mazda and all Republicans being the dark opposite Angra Mainu, then we are wasting our time discussing politics at all. I'm up for talking baseball.

I picked the Iranian metaphor for a reason.

President Obama, a man for whom I bear no pesonal animus, made a rather opaque deal with Iran. One of the side deals seems to have involved release of hostages scooped up by Iran, most likely as bargaing chips. It is acknowleged by the State Department that the final release of funds was delayed pending release of these people.

Now, is that good US policy? Sure. Did it benefit Obama's legacy, future earning power in retirement, electoral prospects of his Party?

I mention it as a recent example but many more could be considered. Who knows what selective leaking of material could/would/will show?

TW

Tim Wolter said...

OK, gotta play fair. I'm off on a busy day but won't leave you with cynical dualism as a metaphor for the state of our politics.

In addition to being a showman (also a jerk, lout, etc) Trump is a real estate developer. I see both traditional political parties as being destroyed.

The GOP looked strong from the outside but was showing age, the roof was leaking, its brand was in decline. Trump came along and essentially did a controlled implosion. One minute its there, the next.....gone. Something else will be built there.

The Democrats on the other hand, well their building still stands. But its like a place that the owners have just walked away from. The doors are open, there's continuous parties going on, various odd factions have staked out turf on assorted floors. It is being destroyed from within. It's a slower destruction, messier too. But just as sure.

The nature of our politics is undergoing a change as significant as the dawn of the television era. One or both parties will break up and reform. The oft repeated assurance that the Republicans will be wiped out in elections then recreate themselves as nice centrists that a respectable person could support can be hypothesized equally for the Democrats.

Naturally our politics have become so strange that none of this should be taken as more than musings over morning coffee.

TW

scidata said...

Re: Harris, Asimov, Gödel, Escher, Bach, and fading internet memory

I had a minor burst of creativity (more solder smoke stories) back in the 20th c.
I was really into this sort of stuff, particularly 'emergent meaning' and symbolic AI. I had thought that it was all lost (magazine ads, reviews, etc). However, I found that much did get preserved in the Internet Archive (archive.org). Oh-oh Dr. Brin, another brilliant .org non-profit in peril. Future totalitarian regimes that seek to expunge all history will be up against: a once diverse population in the billions (even if hence savagely curtailed), the internet archive and many more like it, and blockchain records, which are virtually unerasable by design (vast replication). Someone should write an SF tale about a desperate and noble attempt to preserve Humanity's literary memory. That would be hot.

TCB you might look for your essay a bit deeper, it may not be lost. You may need to get creative, using terms like Jefferson and use double quotes to avoid Google's maddening factoring of search terms. There is such a thing as Artificial Idiocy it seems. If you do find it, please let us know - I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd like to read it.

locumranch said...


Let's talk about the so-called 'predators' that live amongst us:

The term 'predator' is variously defined as either (1) "An organism that lives by preying on other organisms" or (2) "A person or group that robs, victimizes, or exploits others for gain".

Whereas progressives like Don_G currently identify the job-providing 'Oligarchy' as the predator class worthy of extermination, the Marxists of yesteryear also targeted the predatory Bourgeoisie (aka 'Merchant & Middle Classes') for the very same type of exterminative social justice, whilst erstwhile conservatives like Hillary Clinton have chattered on about the SUPER-predators endemic in the low, welfare-receiving & criminal classes.

And the take-away message of this little digression?

First, that the term 'predator' has very little utility in contemporary politics and, second, that the so-called enlightened progressives best not judge others lest they be judged for a fate identical to other predatory 'deplorables'.


Best

jim said...

I could see where Tim would have that reaction to the comments in the last post.

I said that the ~45% of Americans who support Trump are not all a bunch of racist deplorables. Most of them are good decent people who actually have good reasons to vote for Trump. And the response from the folks here was – jim is a lying lair who lies, he hates democracy the enlightenment and everything good and decent, don’t believe him! your fellow Americans who support Trump are monsters!!!!

Now a normal person might get offended, but I understand the folks around here are in the early stages of grief and they are bouncing between denial and anger. I understand that they are starting to grieve for their vision of the future. It is becoming increasing difficult to believe in their star trek future (denial is the first stage of grief) and it is turning into anger, at those who are perceived to stand in the way and absolute hatred for those who reject the star trek future as unobtainable and want a different future.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2020/Pres/Maps/Feb10.html#item-7

Thirty or forty years ago, many voters were proud to announce that they voted for the best candidate, regardless of party. Almost no one does that now.


In fairness, I'd argue that the playing field has changed such that the R or D in front of the candidate's name really is the most important characteristic. All exceptions duly noted, a Republican Senator is a vote for Mitch McConnell's and Trump's agenda, no matter what that Senator's personal issues are. And a socially-liberal Republican congressman who agrees with me on abortion or social tolerance would have been a vote for a Speaker who would not have subpoenaed witnesses in an impeachment proceeding.

Larry Hart said...

jim:

And the response from the folks here was – jim is a lying lair who lies, he hates democracy the enlightenment and everything good and decent, don’t believe him!


Not everyone did. I even used your anecdote as an example of why we can't assume that blacks and Latinos will vote against Trump.

I wouldn't say "Don't believe him." That's the very problem. I do believe you are accurately reporting people's reactions. What I don't like is that you're ok with what you're reporting--that you see an upside to it. But that's just me. You don't have to conform to what I want, but the reverse is true as well.

What I have trouble with from Tim--and I've considered him a friend for years, one who helped save my wife's life--is that he seems to be so genuinely concerned about some nebulous threat from Democrats, that they're too in bed with Wall St or too secretive with private e-mails*, that Trumpian fascism seems to be a mere uncomfortable-but-acceptable price to pay to avoid the threat of Democratic empowerment. A kind of "Well, at least Hitler fought communism" thing that I perceive you also share.

But even so, I'm willing to listen to you and him actually defend your positions. What I'm not willing to accept is vague hints followed by "But you won't listen to me anyway, so I'm outta here for a more tolerant forum."

* As Bill Maher rejoinded when Steve Bannon said the Democrats were too much in the thrall of the wealthy and corporations, "Well, God forbid they ever get their hooks into the Republican Party." Bannon just laughed a Treebeard-like smirk which said that what Maher's sarcastic implication was ridiculous instead of the obvious truth.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Jim: I believe that a significant number of Trump voters in '16 operated in good faith, and sincerely believed that Trump would be a good president for America.
Now, I find your number of 45% impossible to believe. Even with the vast propaganda bubble that surrounds a large chunk of the population, it strains credulity to think that all the misfires, incompetence, open criminality and sheer viciousness that surrounds Trump has gone entirely unnoticed.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/09/opinion/democrats-2020-election.html

...
Yes, the candidates have their differences. But they have much bigger similarities. If elected, every single Democratic presidential candidate would act to slow climate change, raise taxes on the rich, reduce gun deaths, expand voting rights, lower health care and education costs, protect abortion access, enforce civil-rights laws, appoint progressive judges, rebuild overseas alliances and stop treating the Justice Department as a personal enforcer. The moderates are running to the left of Barack Obama, and the progressives would be constrained by Congress.

The alternative, of course, is truly radical. Many Democrats know all this, yet they still get so caught up in the passions of the primary campaign that they risk helping Trump.

scidata said...

2016 was mainly a stress test of the US voting system.
2020 will mainly be a measure of the US citizenry.

It's ironic that "Democracy Dies in Darkness", yet only survives via the private voting booth.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-opinion-republicans-democracy-leonard-pitts-20200207-ha6fyo4qgbg4lgn7ma3yfxqcpm-story.html

Let’s try a thought experiment.

Suppose your friend invites you to play Monopoly. But suppose she insists on a set of special rules applicable only to her. Like when she lands on your property, she only has to pay half the required rent. And for every house she buys, she gets one free. And when she passes “Go,” she gets $500.

How legitimate would you consider that game to be? How long would it be before you quit? Might you not even overturn the board on the way out?

Who could blame you? Which of us would stay in a contest where one side felt free to make up its own rules? You can't run a game that way. You also can't run a country.

Someone should explain that to the right-wing political establishment, whose members are up in arms over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripping up a copy of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address moments after he finished delivering it. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, that tower of Jell-O that walks like a man, pronounced this “pathetic.” Rep. Lee Zeldin called it “disgusting.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy dubbed it “petty.” And so on.

Which is, of course, hypocrisy on a galactic scale. A Trump enabler has about as much business criticizing a breach of decorum as Bill Cosby does teaching sex ed. Indeed, they have zero standing to lecture the rest of us on any question of right and wrong.

...

Larry Hart said...

Same Op-Ed as above, conclusion:


...

You have three options when someone else is playing the game by different rules:

One, you can continue playing by the actual rules and appeal to them to do the same. But one gets tired of watching others “win” by cheating. One gets tired of always having to be the adult in the room.

Two, you can make up your own rules too. But that invites a race to anarchy. If, for instance, your side expands the Supreme Court to 11 members so that you can control a majority, what’s to stop the other side, once they’re in power, from expanding it to 13? Nineteen? A hundred and one?

Which brings us to Option Three: You can abandon the game.

That option is the reason those of us who fear for America's future should regard this as an ominous, albeit symbolic, turn. Nancy Pelosi has served in Congress more than 30 years. She's a committed institutionalist who has lectured her caucus more than once on the need for civility.

Yet Tuesday night, she physically ripped up Trump's manifesto of hogwash and lies. In effect, she stood up from the table.

And overturned the board.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Somebody (perhaps it was Mencken) said Democracy won't die in darkness, but with a whoop and a hollar.
I thought of that while watching the Senate Republicans celebrate their impeachment vote.

Don Gisselbeck said...

It's odd that expecting proportionality of outcomes equals wanting to exterminate rich people. I'll go back to ignoring locum. The "predator class" are those whose wealth depends on the toil of others. How is it for example that a hedge fund manager who can barely out perform a high school economics class be worth thousands of times more than the average Montana rancher?

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

I believe that a significant number of Trump voters in '16 operated in good faith, and sincerely believed that Trump would be a good president for America.


The vibe I got was more like, they believed the political class was running things so badly that we might as well at least have an entertaining president as a consolation prize. That entertainment was the only good thing a regular American could expect from government, and as for the rest of it, "What do we have to lose?"

One might have legitimately asked that last question in 2016. By now, I hope the answer is obvious.

David Brin said...

At night I sometimes switch from “moderation” setting to “google account” setting as an experiment to let some of you keep posting till I get up in the morning. Tougher now that apparently I have the flu.

Ah, the master of straw men: “Whereas progressives like Don_G currently identify the job-providing 'Oligarchy' as the predator class worthy of extermination”

Given that we all have praised those rich guys who got that way by innovating improved goods and services and who do not use their aristocratic status to wield political
Cheat power… and many of us extolling Adam Smith… and Bufett and Gates etc…. all I can say is that poor locum is sputtering and hallucinating again.

Jim is doing the same thing from the opposite end., Such bookends! Lacking any ability to argue based on facts, he makes up out of whole cloth a vendetta on our parts, against rural/red America. There are no aspects of his latest rant that aren’t jibber-jabber. I have made clear how many ways we must sympathize with our fellow citizens and have whole chapters about it in Polemical Judo. Alas, that assumes jim can read.

What we all share is a conditioned reflex to fear accumulations of power by elites. Suspicion of Authority is the core American value. What Fox has achieved is to get maybe 30% of Americans to pick one kind of elites to fret about… pointy-headed, long-haired university folks and civil servants and “fact-users” and “deep state” professionals. And hence, any use of facts to counter a Foxc-ism is some kind of liobtard trick. This Know Nothing approach worked several times in the US past and is working now.

I’d defy jim to disprove this, since railing against fact-users takes up vastly more Fox time than implicit racism. But I know it’s futile.

scidata said...
2016 was mainly a stress test of the US voting system.
2020 will mainly be a measure of the US citizenry.

Absolutely. I’ll use that.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Tougher now that apparently I have the flu.


Not the Corona Virus, I hope.


Ah, the master of straw men: “Whereas progressives like Don_G currently identify the job-providing 'Oligarchy' as the predator class worthy of extermination”


The Leonard Pitts article I excerpted above about Nancy Pelosi used the imgagery of "How long do you continue playing a game when the other side changes the rules at will?" Locum seems frustrated by the fact that even though he's on the side that's doing the cheating, he isn't personally seeing the benefit. So he blames the other side for the fact that his own side isn't cheating in a way he wishes they would.

It recently occurred to me why right-wingers are in favor of billionaires and oligarchs, even when they themselves will never have that money or power. Billionaires and oligarchs serve as a value-sink in the same way that 1984 explained military spending does. The masses must be kept poor so they don't get too uppity for their place as voiceless drudges. If there was too much of value lying around in the commons, people wouldn't be hungry, cold, and desperate enough to be meekly subservient. What billionaires and oligarchs do is suck up all of that excess value and wall it off from the common people.

jim said...

Zepp,
Unfortunately, I think the opposite is true. Lots of people were very nervous about voting for Trump the first time (they really hated Clinton).

Now this will shock some people here but, many are less nervous about voting for him now because of what he has done in office.

The economy is really good.
The unemployment rate is awesome.
Some got a significant tax cut.
Lots of people LOVE the trade war with China.
Illegal immigration is way down. (it was done in a very cruel way)
Lots of conservative judges
He has not gotten us into new wars.

Now of course many of his supporters will agree that he is corrupt, but they think all the politicians are corrupt. They note how the Banksters have stopped paying Hilary bribes (excuse me, speaking fees) now that she can’t do them any favors. And it seems they are taking the advice that Larry once gave me …. If the parties are the same on some issue you care about judge them on the issues they differ

Unknown said...


Dr. Brin, yes, all of your 31 points are great and probably shared by all of the Democratic candidates, although they would likely differ with some details and verbiage. It's a great list. I just wish I could hear it directly from the candidates explicitly, shouted from the rooftops. Not just infer it from other things they say.

And why is not every candidate screaming from the top of their lungs every day "DEFICIT! DEFICIT! DEFICIT!"?

It's a matter of tactics I disagree with, not substance.

I had dinner last night with a big group of old friends and relatives, liberals all, some of whom were working Get Out The Vote for Humphrey after the Summer of Love. So, we've been around a long time. Disgust for Trump was there. Love for Bernie or Liz, no others, oddly. But as the discussion moved around the table, I watched an weird thing happen. One after another, I'd hear "but Bernie can't beat Trump because X", or "Warren can't beat Trump because Y." Slowly the consensus emerged that BLOOMBERG was our only hope. I was aghast, and said so.

My point is not that Bloomberg is our only hope, or that Bernie/Liz/whoever is un-electable. My point is that even the faithful are falling for the "conventional wisdom." These memes are pervasive and run deep. Something needs to happen to break the collective group-think gripping America right now.

I wish I knew what it was. (And I pray it does not include body counts.)

I was amused by something else. Anyone who thinks Mitt Romney is going to be the savior of the Republican Party need their head examined. Or their meds adjusted.

Larry Hart said...

jim,

I also suspect that those voters like about Trump in office:

Liberals are really upset
Food safety is no longer a concern
Water and air quality are no longer a concern
Liberals are really upset
LEGAL immigration is way down
Lots of people love the state enforcing their religious beliefs on others
Liberals are really upset
Fuck the spotted owl!
Being mean to others is fun
Did I mention liberals are really upset?

locumranch said...


Although Jim & I are from opposite ends of political spectrum, it appears that we are both to be dismissed for 'incoherent hallucinations', possibly because & despite our unified condemnation of our host's hopelessly bourgeois middle class merchant sensibilities.

I grant you that it must extremely disturbing -- even 'inconceivable' -- for those of us who are so invested in the middle class merchant mentality to acknowledge that other humans & sentient life forms may not value 'trade' to the same extent as the calculating middle class does but, even so, consider this:

As of 2018, the Pew Research Center estimates that less than 2% of the US population is Upper Class, less than 50% of the US population is Middle Class (down from from 61% in 1971) and up to 48% of the US population is Lower Class.

And, assuming these trends continue -- as Andrew Yang assures us it will -- it's reasonable to expect the Lower Classes to outnumber the declining Middle Class in short order and, with this demographic change, one can only expect a devastating realignment in US foreign & domestic political priorities.

It's quite ironic, actually, because one can argue that the very Star_Trek future desired by our host has already arrived, the problem being one of class, as it is the Lower Class workers (in their identical pajamas) who represent the Federation & it is the Middle Class professions of today who represent an evil FERENGI empire targeted for destruction.


Best

Unknown said...

Tim, welcome back.

Well, you were right, you certain received a lot of immediate and vocal pushback from the regulars. I do hope you noticed that everyone was at least trying to be polite and welcoming. If they succeeded or not was in the eye of the beholder (you, in this case).

I'm not going to jump on you, I'm actually going to agree with you about your views on the Impeachment. To paraphrase, you said Article One - Obstruction was not valid because the House did not subpoena anybody, therefore they lacked evidence. And Article Two - Abuse of Power is indeterminate. It might have been just use of power, abuse of power, or just Trump being "clumsy and (..) a narcissicist".

(Any particular reason you reverse the order of the Articles?)

My take on the Impeachment was diametrically opposite yours, yet we both reached the same place. (Note: I wrote most of this a few weeks ago, but never posted it.)

ME, from January 23rd-

"ARTICLE ONE - Abuse of Power

Certainly, but so what? This is not a crime. No way does it fall under "treason, bribery, high crimes or misdemeanors." Lacking actual criminal statues, the use/abuse of power is defined politically. Therefore the Republicans are perfectly correct when they call this a political hack job and an attempt to subvert the 2016 election results.

ARTICLE TWO - Obstruction of Congress

Yep, it's right there in the Constitution and Trump is definitely guilty. However, by moving this out of the House/Courts, the Democrats have abandoned any hope of conviction. What they should have done, IMHO, is declared anyone who did not respond to a Congressional subpoena to be in Contempt of Congress and prosecuted. Likely AG Barr would have refused to do his job. In which case, declare him in Contempt as well. Eventually, it all would have ended up in the Supreme Court either way. We can all spin scenarios for what the SC would have done, but we'll never know now."


TIM (Back in the present): On the whole the impeachment was handled in such a botched fashion that it is hard to see that it served any purpose other than to destroy the candidacy of Joe Biden. Ironically the very outcome Trump is said to have sought...

I agree with you one hundred percent on the outcome, if not how we got there.

I, too, think "the whole the impeachment was handled in such a botched fashion." I think the House Democrats screwed up both strategically and tactically, from top to bottom. Furthermore, more than anyone else I believe it is Nancy Pelosi's fault.

Doc, I know you hate criticism of the Speaker, but who else is to blame? She's been leading the House Democrats since 2003, so 17 years (6,200 days), and only 72 good ones.I know that she has a next-to-impossible job, but except for those 72 days, she has not gotten the job done. That's less than one percent! Time for a change.

Unknown said...

jim said:

The economy is really good.

Except for those pesky deficits. I notice you don't mention them.

Two things that Trump has definitely done better than Obama, raise the deficit and take vacation. (profitable vacations too!)

Darrell E said...

Larry Hart said...
"https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/commentary/ct-opinion-republicans-democracy-leonard-pitts-20200207-ha6fyo4qgbg4lgn7ma3yfxqcpm-story.html

Let’s try a thought experiment.

Suppose your friend invites you to play Monopoly. But suppose she insists on a set of special rules applicable only to her. Like when she lands on your property, she only has to pay half the required rent. And for every house she buys, she gets one free. And when she passes “Go,” she gets $500.

How legitimate would you consider that game to be? How long would it be before you quit? Might you not even overturn the board on the way out?

Who could blame you? Which of us would stay in a contest where one side felt free to make up its own rules? You can't run a game that way. You also can't run a country.

Someone should explain that to the right-wing political establishment, whose members are up in arms over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripping up a copy of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address moments after he finished delivering it. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, that tower of Jell-O that walks like a man, pronounced this “pathetic.” Rep. Lee Zeldin called it “disgusting.” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy dubbed it “petty.” And so on.
"

All well and good, except for one thing. The author of this article is arguing from a point of view that grants that the Republicans are sincere in their exclamations of offense. In my opinion this kind of bullshit has to stop. It's part of the problem. It's one of the habits that the RP has learned to use against us to their advantage. It is granting a legitimacy to the Republicans that is inaccurate. This in turn gives their constituents, and others including many liberals and folks like jim, more warrant to think that the Republicans' behavior is within norms and no better or worse than the DPs.

What I'd like to see more in articles like this is calling it like it actually is. All of these offended responses are completely insincere. They are lies. They are pure propaganda. It's all bullshit. It's all a distraction. Responding to it as if it is in any way, even slightly, genuine is playing the game by the rules the RP wants their opponents to play by.

Larry Hart said...

Unknown:

"ARTICLE ONE - Abuse of Power

Certainly, but so what? This is not a crime. No way does it fall under "treason, bribery, high crimes or misdemeanors." Lacking actual criminal statues, the use/abuse of power is defined politically. Therefore the Republicans are perfectly correct when they call this a political hack job and an attempt to subvert the 2016 election results


Words fail me.

If a president can't be investigated or charged criminally while in office and can't be impeached for abusing his power, then he is a king and a dictator. Are you seriously arguing that Alexander Hamilton and the boys intended this?

Larry Hart said...

Darrell E:

The author of this article is arguing from a point of view that grants that the Republicans are sincere in their exclamations of offense.


Do you think so? I got the sense that he meant the Republicans couldn't possibly be sincere in their complaints about Nancy Pelosi because the offensiveness of her actions paled in comparison to that of their own.

Alfred Differ said...

jim,

I said that the ~45% of Americans who support Trump are not all a bunch of racist deplorables. Most of them are good decent people who actually have good reasons to vote for Trump.

Actually, I can accept this. The percentage of real deplorables is smaller than his actual base of support. The problem with the 'deplorable' label is that too many in his base self-identify as such. Clinton intended it for a smaller subset of uncaring bastards and this was clear to practically everyone else.

I can also accept that they thought they had good reasons to vote for him in 2016, but I'll challenge them and be inclined to label them 'stupid' if they think those apply to 2020. The dude is obviously a con man requiring his remaining non-deplorable supporters to be real suckers to cling to him in 2020. No doubt many will, though. Many continued to believe in his business operations like his university and commercial properties even after mounting evidence and complaints from people for whom the glamour was dispelled.

They can still vote for him in 2020 and demonstrate their faith in him, though. Many will and I won't call them deplorable. I SHALL call them gullible.

David Smelser said...

unknown@ 12:49 on why Bloomberg might win where Sanders/Warren may not.

I'd like to think that this election will be a referendum on Trump & rule of law, but if one of the more progressive democrats becomes the nominee, the election will get framed as a referendum on socialism/democratic socialism. I personally know individuals who don't like Trump and are afraid of socialism and I suspect that they fear socialism/democratic socialism more.

--------------------

The constitution says that impeachment/removal is solely responsibility of the House & Senate, so they can't really defer to the Judicial branch. Moreover, putting the power of ultimately decide impeachment in the hands of the Judicial branch, put the power into the branch that is least accountable to the people.

Unknown said...

From Smurphs:

The Anonymous post to TIM @ 1:35 and jim @ 1:38 were both from me. I don't know why they showed up as Anonymous instead of Smurphs. I suspect it has something to do with the change to moderated comments, and the fact that I only used nomme-de-guerre "Smurphs" here might have confused Google.

LH: "Are you seriously arguing that Alexander Hamilton and the boys intended this?" Absolutely not. However, I think they were wrong to assume the meaning "high crimes and misdemeanors" was self evident. Obviously they are not self-evident. For proof, I submit the last 3 years of America politics.

Smurphs

Alfred Differ said...

Tim,

I hope you aren’t too serious about the ‘heat of invective’. It’s true that some of us are quite pissed off right now, but there isn’t a monolithic viewpoint here for or against yours. If you feel that some glare at you when you walk through the door, consider the possibility that we’ve been glaring at each other at little before you arrived. In other words, it’s not really you that is provoking responses. It’s just that some of us are upset. 8)

Now on to your acceptance of Larry’s challenge. First up, I would actually favor impeaching our President again and again and again, but not for the same charges regarding the same material. For example, if Two Scoops decides to solicit and accept foreign aid in the 2020 election from another country besides Ukraine, I’d favor impeaching is ass for it. Each and Every Time. Whether conviction is likely or not. Impeachable conduct deserves a clear, unequivocating response from the House.

Also, I don’t believe for a second that his motives were mixed. Not even a millisecond. Arguing that they could be was the task of his defense lawyers and they were spectacularly unconvincing at it. They had to use a Hobbesian approach equating King with Country in order to justify Two Scoops’ argument that he was pursing corruption as a national security goal. Utter garbage on the Hobbes level and the notion that our national security interests were served by propagating Russian propaganda. He ain’t King and we know damn well what the Russians did. (Dershowitz should be ashamed of himself.)

Finally, the House should not be required to go begging of the Judiciary to settle disputes between it and the Executive Branch. Nothing in the Constitution requires it. There is CUSTOM for it in matters where urgency is not paramount, but not REQUIREMENT for it. To argue otherwise is to amend the Constitution in a way that weakens Congress permanently. If the House gets too uppity, that’s what the Senate is for… which is what has actually happened… right? That’s what the framers had in mind. In this case I think the Senators were mistaken, but I accept the legitimacy of their choice to smack the House.

I suspect, but have no real proof, that this sort of exchange is common in international politics…

It better not be. Impeach them all if so. This is WAY over the line of tolerable behavior and should not ever be normalized.

Now… having said that… I hope you have a fine day and find enjoyment in whatever robotics projects the kids have underway. I assume you are still doing all that and feel that America is more about that kind of thing than it is about our politics. We can make a mess of things on the political stage (and often do), but what really matters is what we do off that stage. 8)

Ahcuah said...

When I see someone (Unknown) say "Lacking actual criminal statues, the use/abuse of power is defined politically," I can tell that they are just parroting what others have said, and haven't tried to find out for themself what the term "High Crimes and Misdemeanors" meant. Let me parrot somebody else: there were no federal crimes at the time the Constitution was written, so how could anybody commit a crime to be impeached? (Hint: back then, an awful lot of crime was what is called "common law" crime. A crime did not have to be codified to be a crime; codification of crimes didn't get really popular until the late 19th century or so.)

But my real issue is that, you know, there is this thing called "history". You can actually look up the issue and find out what it meant and how it was used. Let me recommend this Atlantic article:

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/10/what-does-high-crimes-and-misdemeanors-actually-mean/600343/

Let me quote (sources removed) one small piece:

Suffice it to say that Parliament has impeached high officials for military mismanagement, neglect of duty or sheer ineptitude, and giving the sovereign bad advice, especially about foreign affairs.

Parliament has also impeached a good many officers for abuse of power, sometimes criminal, but oftentimes not. When the Constitutional Convention convened in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787, the English-speaking world was riveted by the commencement of impeachment proceedings against Warren Hastings, governor general of Bengal, on just such grounds. Few if any of the charges against Hastings were indictable crimes, but that was immaterial to Edmund Burke, the principal parliamentary prosecutor of Hastings.


Oh, and I've heard a lot of people say that a "high" crime meant a particularly grievous crime. No, the "high" there meant mal-actions by those in high office.

Also, don't make the mistake that thinking that phrases are defined merely by their components, any more than words are defined by their etymologies.

Ahcuah said...

Also from the Unknown Smurph: However, I think they were wrong to assume the meaning "high crimes and misdemeanors" was self evident. Obviously they are not self-evident. For proof, I submit the last 3 years of America politics.

Ha. That cigarettes kill you was self-evident, if you just looked. That climate change is happening is self-evident, if you just look. Just because somebody won't do the research does not mean that something is not self-evident.

After all, so, so many have said that democracy requires an educated populace. This is the sort of thing that the educated populace of the time would be well-aware of.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Everybody: re:
"I said that the ~45% of Americans who support Trump are not all a bunch of racist deplorables. Most of them are good decent people who actually have good reasons to vote for Trump."

Isn't someone who votes for and/or supports a racist (for whatever reasons) as bad as someone who actually is one?

David Brin said...

1. the recent “locumranch” poster is either a pretender hijacking our mad pal or else he took a megadose of vitamins. All still wrong, but expressed almost… sanely.

2. Jim utterly ignores the fact that employment figures extrapolate EAXCTLY along slopes established for SIX years under Obama, taken 3 years further. You can’t point to a single GOP policy that had any effect on that curve plus or minus, though infrastructure would have made those jobs vastly better. And pay has only INCREASED in blue states that raised the minimum wage.

3.Those calling the impeachment “botched” are imbeciles. The exercise accomplished its purpose of exposing the entire GOP as a wholly-owned pack of cowards – likely all blackmailed – and putin lackeys.

4. The courts have been helping the GOP by declaring “this tiff isn’t about us. It is ‘unjusticiable.” The House should take them at their word and issue 1000 subpoenas hand delivered to lower level civil servants and say: “Are you loyal to 240 years of due process and Congressional oversight?” I bet 800 would fall all over themselves to hand over documents and testify.

5. Tim Please revert to Tacitus2 if it will thicken the skin and enable you to shrug off our rough ways! We love you as a brother, man!

Indeed, you are an archetype we badly need around here… a SANE dissenter whose position – that Democrats are almost as bad – is THE party line we have to find ways to communicate across. WE WANT YOU HERE! BRO.

Don Gisselbeck said...

George Orwell:
But it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction -- indeed, in some sense was the destruction -- of a hierarchical society. In a world in which everyone worked short hours, had enough to eat, lived in a house with a bathroom and a refrigerator, and possessed a motor-car or even an aeroplane, the most obvious and perhaps the most important form of inequality would already have disappeared. If it once became general, wealth would confer no distinction. It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.

TCB said...

Harkening back to some previous posts, where the question was asked: whither new music, and is it possible to be original?

Every Melody Has Been Copyrighted (and they're all on this hard drive), in which two guys used a laptop to brute-force every possible combination of notes up to twelve notes in length, copyrighted the many billions of combinations on said hard drive, and dumped it all into the public domain. Their theory is that a songwriter will inevitably use something in their data set, and if some other songwriter's lawyers sue that songwriter, the plaintiffs will need to prove the songwriter did NOT have access to this dataset.

Yaaaaaayyyyyyyy!

Alfred Differ said...

Smurphs,

...I think they were wrong to assume the meaning "high crimes and misdemeanors" was self evident.

This is really, really weak. Taken seriously, it demolishes practically everything we've codified into law and the Constitution itself. Taken seriously, it suggests I should be able to function as a lawyer just by browsing the law books and working out the self-evident meanings of their contents. Pfft!

Maybe in the early days of the first human civilization before we had written laws we could do this? Nah. Probably not even then. We've had concepts of Justice since our species began. Several of them I'm sure. None of them are self-evident since unwritten Justice is discovered as Common Law. Our Courts are about both interpreting written law and mining the common law and what they've accumulated over the centuries in this country alone is massive.

Unrelated to Impeachment Example | What is the Lemon Test? When is it applied? Should we really have to do it? Isn't the underlying 'law' self-evident enough?

Anyone arguing for self-evident meaning doesn't get the story telling role lawyers have in courts. Schiff and the other House managers wove their version of the story for us in their time at the microphone. Cipillone and the Defense team wove theirs. Insisting on self-evident undermines these roles, thus harms the power balance between prosecution and defense. Doing so is also an attack on one of the fact-using clades of our civilization, thus aiding and abetting the enemy oligarchs.

No part of the law is self-evident except when applied personally to one's own actions. In those cases it all seems so obvious. CITOKATE, though. We can be wrong and those who would make the case that we are have to weave their arguments as stories we can understand. It isn't easy.

Anonymous said...

it strains credulity to think that all the misfires, incompetence, open criminality and sheer viciousness that surrounds Trump has gone entirely unnoticed.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz found some interesting positive correlations between regions that voted for Trump and searched Google for "nigger jokes"*. I read it in his excellent book Everybody Lies but here are some articles you might find interesting/disheartening (delete whichever is inapplicable):

https://www.vox.com/conversations/2017/6/13/15768622/facebook-google-racism-social-media-seth-everybody-lies
https://campaignstops.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/06/09/how-racist-are-we-ask-google/
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/06/can-google-predict-the-impact-of-racism-on-a-presidential-election/258322/

He said one possible hypothesis was that Trump said out loud what voters were thinking but didn't admit (because it was socially unacceptable), but as of the book his research hadn't established more than the correlation.

A general collection of his articles:
http://sethsd.com/research


*Dr. Brin/moderator: please change this to your preferred euphemism if you deem it too offensive. Stephens-Davidowitz pointed out in the book that the offensive nature of the term/subject was why Google was a good research tool, because people ask Google things they don't otherwise reveal. (He also pointed out that "nigga" is almost exclusively used to search for rap lyrics, so the "-er" ending is critical to the correlation.)



Robert

Anonymous said...

How is it for example that a hedge fund manager who can barely out perform a high school economics class be worth thousands of times more than the average Montana rancher?

We have let the hedge fund managers (and their golfing buddies) decide what is valuable and what isn't. The result shouldn't be a surprise…

David Brin said...

Robert you are welcome here. But if you post anonymously you risk being reflexively jettisoned. I am glad this time I spent more than 1.5 seconds and actually looked closer. I couldn't tell it was you. But this anon seemed sane... (you'll be glad to know)

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry, I figure anyone who supports Trump now is either a fool or a crook, and waste absolutely no time on trying to change their minds. Target the 75% of Americans who aren't deplorable.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

1. the recent “locumranch” poster is either a pretender hijacking our mad pal or else he took a megadose of vitamins. All still wrong, but expressed almost… sanely.


Nice try, but you're not tricking me into reading him again. Fool me seventeen or so times, shame on me. :)


2. Jim utterly ignores the fact that employment figures extrapolate EAXCTLY along slopes established for SIX years under Obama, taken 3 years further. You can’t point to a single GOP policy that had any effect on that curve plus or minus, though infrastructure would have made those jobs vastly better.


I work with someone just like that. He crows about how well the stock market is doing under Trump. When I point out how well it did under Obama, then he switches to "It's not really the president's doing either way". But he still thinks Trump deserves credit for the current piece.


3.Those calling the impeachment “botched” are imbeciles. The exercise accomplished its purpose of exposing the entire GOP as a wholly-owned pack of cowards – likely all blackmailed – and putin lackeys.


There was never any chance the Senate would convict. The impeachment proceedings demonstrated to the watching world the difference between the professionals on the House Democratic side and the clown car performance on the Senate Republican side.

For those with kids young enough to have watched Phineas and Ferb...


"I thought you said that would be funny."

"It was funny. You looked stupid!"


Zepp Jamieson said...

The economy is really good.
No, it really isn't. Economic growth has gradually slowed since Trump took office and now is at about 2.1%. In the meantime, annual deficits are now over a trillion dollars, double what it was in the wake of the 2008 meltdown.

The unemployment rate is awesome.
It's only .2% better than it was the day Trump took office.

Some got a significant tax cut.
Millions got a tax increase, and there are those trillion-dollar deficits caused by the tax scam.

Lots of people LOVE the trade war with China.
Lots of people can't count to 11 without taking off a shoe. The trade war is a tax on Americans.

Illegal immigration is way down. (it was done in a very cruel way)
Yeah, and instances of Jewish jaywalking in Germany dropped sharply in the late 30s. So how much of your humanity are you willing to sacrifice in order to feed your bigotry over a 'problem' that actually benefits America?



Lots of conservative judges
Reactionaries who put corporations and churches ahead of the rights of Americans.

He has not gotten us into new wars.
Drone attacks in the middle east are well above those of the Obama years. Just because the President is too cowardly to declare a war doesn't mean he isn't waging it. Ask the Kurds or the Ukrainians how that's working out.

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH: Not the Corona Virus, I hope.

Some strains of flu are far deadlier than coronovirus. Either way, I wish Brin a speedy recovery.

David Brin said...

The link to my own 3-D political 'map' is now back up and running. Note that unlike almost any other such expanded chart, the axes are orthogonal... they lay down traits that have absolutely nothing to do with each other, making clear which axes say Stalin and Hitler share... but also which they differ diametrically across. The difference between anarchists and libertarians becomes stark. Also the link to Part II now works. I must sift to find and re-post parts 3&4. This will be part of a coming book on political theory... after our current crisis is resolved...

...ideally with help from some of the practical tactics I offer in Polemical Judo.

http://tinyurl.com/polimodels

Part 2 is at: http://web.archive.org/web/20101101114516/http://reformthelp.org/reformthelp/rights/moderation/goal.php

Tim Wolter said...

Alfred

Kind of you to remember the robotics work. Yes, it is ongoing and consumes enormous energy. In several ways we are doing the job the conventional school system can't/won't do....with all volunteer help and support from industries that are desparate for the skills FIRST robotics provides. It has been years since my small store of technical knowledge was useful, so now I am a combined supply clerk, janitor and I run the "minor league farm system" at the middle school that feeds the high school team. We have kids who, while still in high school, are doing CAD work, programming and mechanical design at levels that would do engineering grads proud. Not all of them, not every day of course. They are still kids, squirrely at times and with all the issues kids will have.

But egads and kitty cats, the sheer, frightening audacity of their design this year. It's not something I would have attempted, and it will fight them to the last ounce of weight allotment and the last minute of build time.

For those who find such things to be of more than casual interest...

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNy2X1HK1BeIjjnVO1oF9YA

So much more enjoyable than politics.

I suppose I'll keep posting albeit infrequently, under my current name. If I ever start saying things I'd be ashamed to admit to in my real persona then it's time to shut up.

TW

David Brin said...

I know Dean Kamen. One of those fellows who does as much for progress as Elon, without any of the hype.

TWENTY THOUSAND high schools around the world have robotics programs now. And he does water filtration and lots else.

Thank you Tim for your service!

Though politics matters. As does finding some way to find a path of salvation for a sane version of American conservatism.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

"The economy is really good."

No, it really isn't. Economic growth has gradually slowed since Trump took office and now is at about 2.1%...


jim is describing real comments by actual people. The fact that they're mistaken doesn't mean they don't feel that way. They will vote for Trump because they like his story.

Remember, Trump's essential nature is that he's a con man. And the essence of a good con man is that the mark is a willing victim--he is persuaded to want to go along with it. I never thought Trump was a good con man, but apparently he's good enough.

The mass of Trump's non-deplorable support is from people he has conned, and who now probably have to continue to believe in the con or else admit to being taken.

Some of the examples jim gave as to Trump support look a lot like this. Others really do look deplorable.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Tim, is there a main page for your robotics team that explains what this year's project goal was? I feel like I was dropped into the middle of the project without knowing where it came from or its ultimate objective. Thanks!

Alfred Differ said...

Tim,

In several ways we are doing the job the conventional school system can't/won't do....with all volunteer help and support from industries that are desperate for the skills FIRST robotics provides.

Heh. How (classically) liberal of you. 8)

Seriously, though, I've thought about that can't/won't distinction regarding conventional schools a lot. I think it is better described as 'shouldn't'.

When I grew up, the schools taught many academic things and a few social things. I learned mathematics and how to get the snot beat out of me by bullies teaching about social hierarchy. My teachers didn't really have time to teach character except to discourage maladaptive behaviors. This was mostly late 60's and all through the 70's in schools on USAF bases and nearby towns. Many different states and mostly minimal budgets. Real property values near military bases tend not to contribute much to local school budgets.

Character was taught, but elsewhere. For me, it was mostly from home, with friends, or in various Scout groups. No church education for me (you'd have to understand my mother to know why) but Scout groups tend to cover many of the same topics. 'Demonstrate character by example' was the general rule. What little religion-curiosity I did have came from there, but evolved over the years into a sensitive hypocrisy detector and an 'Inner Boy Scout' as my moral judge.

I'm currently of the opinion that most of character SHOULD be taught outside the school environment. Yes… it requires a lot of parental support through volunteer time. We have to get off our lazy, uneducated butts and actually raise our children. Improving ourselves along the way might be necessary, but that demonstrates important character traits by example, right? I learned about amateur radio starting with Scouts, but the old guy who taught me some basic rules of electricity, morse code, and the rest of what I needed for a novice license had to learn how to teach me.


It takes a village to raise a child.

not

It takes a school to raise a child.


Sounds to me like you are doing your part in raising them.
(That's supposed to be accompanied by the sound of applause.)

gregory byshenk said...

Regarding the economy, this piece is interesting:
http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2020/02/the-zombie-lie-of-economic-anxiety

According to Gallup’s polls, Trump’s election led to a remarkable 80-point jump in economic confidence among Republicans and a 37-point fall among Democrats. The economy since Trump took office has mostly shown the same trends from the final years of Obama—job growth, in fact, has been slightly slower—but his coalition’s confidence continued to soar, even as they lived under much the same economy that so depressed them in 2016. Indeed, new data collected by Tesler shows that the most racially resentful are now the most economically optimistic

TCB said...

Dr. Brin, I will insist until my dying breath that the third political axis (and maybe the most important one) would be Open/Closed.

At a glance it tells you what societies a sane person would want to live in. Open societies have sunlight and personal freedom. Closed societies have coercion, censorship, and an overall lack of personal liberty. There's a good quote that applies to this: “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” ― Leo Tolstoy , Anna Karenina. What Tolstoy said can be said of societies: All open societies are open in the same basic ways. Closed societies can be closed in many different ways.

The US, not so long ago, was the archetype of the modern open society; Hitler's Germany is an archetypal far-right closed society (you have Marcos in that slot based on propertarianism), while the regimes of Stalin and Mao Zedong are what we can call far-left closed societies. The horseshoe theory makes sense now! These closed societies plot as opposites on the old left-right axis but nearly the same on the open/closed axis. Theocracies and cults tend to be closed and hierarchical, but they can occupy different areas in the other axes depending on their philosophies about property and governance.

In that sort of 3D political grid, we could imagine both open and closed anarchism (the closed variety, I suppose, takes the form of mob coercion and illiberal attitudes without central direction; one is tempted to say places like Somalia show this tendency) and open and closed libertarianism (the closed variety is what you get when you have rule by corporate aristocrats and the only real government is their goon squads). The closed society is almost always going to be diamond shaped, the open one a diamond or even an oval.

TCB said...

Incidentally, you cannot have an open society at either extreme of the property axis. On the left, the state owns the very shirt on your back. At the extreme right, a few oligarchs own everything, stolen from the commons. This lovely passage from Illuninatus! unpacks it perfectly.

When libertarian property idolatry runs amuck, we can find such social evils as corporate monopolies, rent-seeking, tractors and computers you paid for but cannot repair, and even slavery. A property idolator sees no problem with fracking and running an oil pipeline across other people's land; his profits come before the earth, water, and air we breathe. Rand Paul, in his way, is as extreme as any Maoist.

Larry Hart said...

@jim,

I have a question concerning the self-identifying "deplorable" Trump supporters in your lunchroom. Now that he's on record as bragging that he'll cut Social Security and Medicare after he's reelected, I wonder if those lunchbox types will feel betrayed by such a move, or whether that is in fact one of the "promises made, promises kept" that they cheer him on for.

Serious question. Because the third option--that such a statement would turn them against Trump--never crosses my mind.

Tim Wolter said...

Mad Librarian, and others with an interest. The long winded version of the game explanation is here, Disney/Star Wars sponsorship and all.

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

Our team has put most of their energy into the end game. Not only to grab that hanging beam but to translate along it to bring it level. And they now have an autolevel function. Push the button it levels the bar.

https://detritusofempire.blogspot.com/2020/02/first-robotics-2020-balancing-act.html

There's also a lot of collecting and launching of those yellow foam balls. We should be OK at that. Targeting is also semiautomated, locks onto the reflective target and keeps it registered even if a defender hits us. And there will be a beam break sensor the detect a ball coming into our conveyor system to keep them spaced out.

For their amusement, and to make my life difficult, in a competition where the robots are on average about 80% aluminum....they CAD designed, laser cut, bent and welded the entire thing out of sheet metal. The official name is tbd but I call it Ferrous Bueller.

I can ignore politics in this world. We have coaches and probably students all across the political spectrum. Everyone recognizes the value of teaching kids ( and we even have a few middle schoolers on board) to do such marvels.

Thanks for the interest. This is what I do in retirement.

TW

Larry Hart said...

The opposing view to "Sanders is the one who can beat Trump". The never-Trumpers are terrified that Bernie will be the nominee and lose to Trump, while the Trumpers are trying to make sure Bernie gets the nomination and then loses to Trump. They might all be wrong, but how confident are we of that?

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2020/Pres/Maps/Feb11.html#item-2

Let us remind you, once again, that the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin is a moderate Republican who loathes Donald Trump. That means that when she weighs in on the Democratic race, she is governed entirely by her assessment of which candidate has the best chance of knocking off the Donald, and not by her own personal predilections (since she doesn't have warm feelings about any of the Democrats, either). Yesterday, she wrote an op-ed warning the Democrats that Bernie Sanders is not the cure for what ails them. Her conclusion: "Democrats are right to be worried that Sanders might get the nomination and then hand up four more years of Trump. They should intensify their efforts do something about it before it is too late."

As it turns out, Rubin is not the only Republican who feels that way. Bill Kristol, founder and former publisher of the National Review is in complete agreement. He is exceedingly worried that Sanders will be the nominee, and that will pave the way for four more years of the Donald. And so, Kristol has spearheaded an effort to call as many independent voters in New Hampshire as is possible. By the terms of state law, those folks are allowed to vote in either party's primary (but only one of them). Kristol's pitch is that right-leaning independents should not waste their vote on the Republican side of the primary, where the result is foreordained, and instead should request a Democratic ballot so they can vote for "not Bernie Sanders."

And then there is South Carolina Republican operative Nate Leupp. He shares Rubin's and Kristol's views that Sanders is the most beatable candidate. Where Leupp differs, however, is that he very much wants to see Trump reelected. And to that end, he has launched a pressure campaign of his own. The Palmetto State allows any voter to cast a ballot in any primary that they wish. Given that the Republicans aren't even holding a primary, Leupp is encouraging GOP voters to show up and cast a vote for Sanders, "the most socialistic, liberal candidate running" and, by implication, the easiest opponent for the President to defeat. Part of this is also about getting South Carolina Democrats to agree to a closed primary in the future, but part of it is about boosting Sanders, so it's something of a two-for-the-price-of-one situation.

As Republicans, Rubin, Kristol, and Leupp are probably not the best people to judge which Democrat is likely to excite the Democratic electorate. However, what they presumably can judge is the mindset of the Republican electorate—well, at least the never-Trump Republican electorate. One of the arguments for Sanders is that he might be uniquely able to peel off some of Trump's base (specifically, working class, younger, white, noncollege men). It would seem that three Republicans think that's not the case.

Darrell E said...

Zepp Jamieson said...

""Illegal immigration is way down. (it was done in a very cruel way)[jim from above]"

Yeah, and instances of Jewish jaywalking in Germany dropped sharply in the late 30s. So how much of your humanity are you willing to sacrifice in order to feed your bigotry over a 'problem' that actually benefits America?


An excellent point. Also, illegal immigration had been trending down for some time before Trump and had been at a record low prior to him taking office. Then the Trump administration created an illegal immigration crisis from scratch. They took various actions to increase illegal immigration numbers, some simply by rendering people that had been legal illegal. All of it was a maskirovka to fluff Trump's base. Anyone who believes the Trumpian immigration crisis narrative is an idiot.

LarryHart,

I'm not so sure that jim is merely repeating what he has heard others say. Certainly possible as it is hard to gauge his pessimism.

Anonymous said...

What’s more, the digital companies operate in secret. It is in secret, inside the black box algorithms, that Americans are sorted into tribes. After the sorting, the software algorithms then secretly determine what message is to be delivered to each group.

The internet was supposed to be the great gift to democracy because everyone would be free to express themselves without the interference of editors or other filters.

After seeing how Hitler manipulated the German public using the media, and with the rising fear of Communism, in 1949 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) imposed a Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters to require the airing of all sides of a controversial issue.

The Fairness Doctrine was repealed by the Reagan FCC in 1987. The result was conservative talk radio. That Rush Limbaugh could stand and receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom during the State of the Union is testimony to the effect of eliminating the requirement for radio stations to present all sides of an issue.

Truth cannot be allowed to become a casualty of technology. The search for democratic Unum cannot be allowed to become a casualty of technology. It is no wonder cynicism abounds when untruth and tribalism are the result of our principal communications tool. Historically, society has stepped up to the challenges of new technology. Now is our historic moment.

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/techtank/2020/02/07/technology-tribalism-and-truth/

PS Just to be sure that our venerable host doctor Brin ARE against Fairness Doctrine too. And VERY MUCH so. With his practic of "denial of facts and logical arguments" pre-moderation. ;P
Practicing Digital Authoritarianism ;P in his blog.
Bona fide conservative ;P And not like much of residualy sane to boot.
https://warontherocks.com/2020/02/digital-authoritarianism-finding-our-way-out-of-the-darkness/

Larry Hart said...

Darrell E:

I'm not so sure that jim is merely repeating what he has heard others say.


Whether he is or not is immaterial. I personally work with people who say similar things. I know there are voters who like Trump because their 401ks or market portfolios are doing so well. The fact that the same was true under President Obama doesn't faze them.

It's the same with immigration. They like Trump because he's doing something about illegal immigrants, who have been getting away with too much until now. It doesn't matter whether immigration wasn't really a problem or that Trump himself exacerbated it--they buy into the narrative. It doesn't matter whether we're actually building a wall, or whether a wall actually does anything useful.

If your point is to demonstrate that voter support for Trump isn't there because the reasons for that support don't make sense, I'm here to tell you that the one has precious little to do with the other.

Larry Hart said...

Talk about your sore winners.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/10/opinion/trump-rally-new-hampshire.html

“In my next life I want to come back as the son of a Democrat because you can do anything you want. If I did what Hunter did, I would be in jail right now,” Donald Trump Jr. said.

Anonymous said...

How does one post here using their google account? Whenever I try the posts just vanish, with no attempt to log in or otherwise link my profile.

-Interested Observer

Larry Hart said...

If you need examples of voters who enthusiastically accept Trump's narrative, just take a look at the rest of this article. I'm not excerpting any more of it, because I already need a drink and a shower.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/10/opinion/trump-rally-new-hampshire.html

Larry Hart said...

"Interested Observer":

How does one post here using their google account? Whenever I try the posts just vanish, with no attempt to log in or otherwise link my profile.


Sounds like a glitch between comment moderation and the Google sign-in. Back before the blog was moderated, it would send you to a Google login screen.

If your browser is already logged into a Google account, then the option does work.

David Brin said...

Re anon postings, start with your monicker please, like "This is Robert:"

Generally, I can navigate - and spam-click - the fecal-spews much quicker (about 1 second each) than the poor obsessive spent typing his diatribes. But I do try to keep my eye open for postings by fellows like Robert and Interested Observer.

I did spend 3 seconds on a couple of the spewer's posts that actually looked ... somewhat interesting with comments on Athens and Thucydides and the inevitability of power abuse. You'll recall this fellow was actually welcomed here for a while, as a cogent observer, till his temper and poopoo scatology took hold.

But no I am of no frame of mind to let anything through at all. He has stolen from me, actively stolen time and lifespan that I will never get back and I will not forgive that easily. Go... away... your nastiness is not welcome here. ANd I'll not waste time fishing an occasional good item out of a sewer.

Unknown said...

From Smurphs

Wow. Nobody likes me today. That’s OK, I can take it.

Let me try and take these in order, although there will be some overlap.

Ahcuah and Alfred called out my ignorance of the history of Impeachment. While not a lawyer, I read a lot of history and do have a good grasp of the 230+ years of United States precedent and the 300+ years of British Common Law that it was developed from. I know what Hamilton et. al. . meant by “high crimes and misdemeanors” But here’s the thing, NO ONE CARES. This Impeachment trial was a forgone conclusion (we will get back to this below). There was never any chance Republicans would break ranks. So it was all political theater. And as theater it failed miserably. If there were more than a thousand people whose minds were changed, I’d be surprised.

To those who say “we had to fight the good fight, stand for the rule of law, and die on that hill if necessary”, I say, “First, I don’t think we fought the good fight. IMO, the strategy was fatally flawed”, and second “Yep, we fought the good fight, and we died.” We accomplished virtually nothing. There was never any chance these Articles Of Impeachment could have worked.

I would rather win.

Unknown said...


Smurphs (Cont’d):

Dr.Brin said:

3.Those calling the impeachment “botched” are imbeciles. The exercise accomplished its purpose of exposing the entire GOP as a wholly-owned pack of cowards – likely all blackmailed – and Putin lackeys.
4. The courts have been helping the GOP by declaring “this tiff isn’t about us. It is ‘unjusticiable.” The House should take them at their word and issue 1000 subpoenas hand delivered to lower level civil servants and say: “Are you loyal to 240 years of due process and Congressional oversight?” I bet 800 would fall all over themselves to hand over documents and testify.


Doc, I respect you a lot, being called an “imbecile” really hurts. I’ll get over it.

If the purpose was to expose the GOP as a pack of cowards. Why? Everyone knows this already. The GOP will excuse anything Trump does, up to and including emasculating themselves and the entire Legislative Branch of Government. But again, we knew this already. Impeachment changed nothing.

As I said in my original post, Article One would never work because Abuse of Power was defined politically. You like to point out Impeachment is not a trial, it’s more like a job performance review from the Board of Directors (us). Since it is not a trial, the legal meaning of “high crimes and misdemeanors” is effectively not relevant, only the political meaning matters. Again, political theater. And the GOP has been setting the terms of debate in America for decades. For a host of reasons, the Democrats have been unable to seize control of the American narrative. It’s one of my biggest frustrations in being a Democrat. (And I know you, personally, have done more than most in trying to change this, but it hasn’t worked yet.)

Article Two did not stand chance because the House folded. Other than the Ukraine call, no evidence was presented. Now, I hate Trump as much as anyone here, I am sure if they keep digging, much Obstruction and Corruption could have been proved. But they gave up. The Administration refused to honor House subpoena, so they stopped. The House surrendered the initiative to the Senate GOP where they expected what? Decorum? Fair Play? Loyalty and Patriotism? And you call me an imbecile. The Constitution grants strong powers to Congress to subpoena pretty much anything they want. Over the years, Supreme Court has narrowed this slightly to say Congress must have some focus, but still fairly broad. So, why didn’t they do it? ” The House should take them at their word and issue 1000 subpoenas hand delivered to lower level civil servants and say: “Are you loyal to 240 years of due process and Congressional oversight?” I wish they had.

As far as the Courts having no say in Congressional Power and that moving the decision into the Courts would abrogate that power, that may be technical true, but how is just giving up a better option? Congress has broad powers to subpoena but effectively no mechanism for enforcement. Enforcement customarily falls to the DOJ. As I said, AG Barr probably would have refused, at which point, there is no other remedy except the Courts. (Well, maybe one of those Second Amendment solutions, but that would not be my choice)

Three other thoughts: First, I believe the Democrats folded on subpoenas because they thought they would lose in the Courts. Either that, or they are victims of blackmail. (Hey, why should they be immune.) Second, picking a “he said/she said” fight, where the crux of the matter was all about intent, was bad tactics. I personally have no doubt of Trump’s intent, but I can honestly see well-meaning people disagreeing. Third, If you don’t think this is exactly the kind of sh*t that FDR, Truman, JFK or LBJ would do, then I have a bridge to sell you. All of them were master politicians from back when politics was a lot rougher than today. In fact, of all the Presidents since FDR, I think only Eisenhower and Carter might be above suspicion for this, and I not sure about them either. Being President is hard.

Unknown said...


Smurphs (Cont’d):

Dr.Brin said:

3.Those calling the impeachment “botched” are imbeciles. The exercise accomplished its purpose of exposing the entire GOP as a wholly-owned pack of cowards – likely all blackmailed – and Putin lackeys.
4. The courts have been helping the GOP by declaring “this tiff isn’t about us. It is ‘unjusticiable.” The House should take them at their word and issue 1000 subpoenas hand delivered to lower level civil servants and say: “Are you loyal to 240 years of due process and Congressional oversight?” I bet 800 would fall all over themselves to hand over documents and testify.


Doc, I respect you a lot, being called an “imbecile” really hurts. I’ll get over it.

If the purpose was to expose the GOP as a pack of cowards. Why? Everyone knows this already. The GOP will excuse anything Trump does, up to and including emasculating themselves and the entire Legislative Branch of Government. But again, we knew this already. Impeachment changed nothing.

As I said in my original post, Article One would never work because Abuse of Power was defined politically. You like to point out Impeachment is not a trial, it’s more like a job performance review from the Board of Directors (us). Since it is not a trial, the legal meaning of “high crimes and misdemeanors” is effectively not relevant, only the political meaning matters. Again, political theater. And the GOP has been setting the terms of debate in America for decades. For a host of reasons, the Democrats have been unable to seize control of the American narrative. It’s one of my biggest frustrations in being a Democrat. (And I know you, personally, have done more than most in trying to change this, but it hasn’t worked yet.)

Article Two did not stand chance because the House folded. Other than the Ukraine call, no evidence was presented. Now, I hate Trump as much as anyone here, I am sure if they keep digging, much Obstruction and Corruption could have been proved. But they gave up. The Administration refused to honor House subpoena, so they stopped. The House surrendered the initiative to the Senate GOP where they expected what? Decorum? Fair Play? Loyalty and Patriotism? And you call me an imbecile. The Constitution grants strong powers to Congress to subpoena pretty much anything they want. Over the years, Supreme Court has narrowed this slightly to say Congress must have some focus, but still fairly broad. So, why didn’t they do it? ” The House should take them at their word and issue 1000 subpoenas hand delivered to lower level civil servants and say: “Are you loyal to 240 years of due process and Congressional oversight?” I wish they had.

As far as the Courts having no say in Congressional Power and that moving the decision into the Courts would abrogate that power, that may be technical true, but how is just giving up a better option? Congress has broad powers to subpoena but effectively no mechanism for enforcement. Enforcement customarily falls to the DOJ. As I said, AG Barr probably would have refused, at which point, there is no other remedy except the Courts. (Well, maybe one of those Second Amendment solutions, but that would not be my choice)

Three other thoughts: First, I believe the Democrats folded on subpoenas because they thought they would lose in the Courts. Either that, or they are victims of blackmail. (Hey, why should they be immune.) Second, picking a “he said/she said” fight, where the crux of the matter was all about intent, was bad tactics. I personally have no doubt of Trump’s intent, but I can honestly see well-meaning people disagreeing. Third, If you don’t think this is exactly the kind of sh*t that FDR, Truman, JFK or LBJ would do, then I have a bridge to sell you. All of them were master politicians from back when politics was a lot rougher than today. In fact, of all the Presidents since FDR, I think only Eisenhower and Carter might be above suspicion for this, and I not sure about them either. Being President is hard.

Unknown said...


Smurphs (Cont’d):

Ok, I just spent a long time explaining why I think the entire Impeachment was bungled. Now I will really put my ass on the line and describe what I would have done.

I have no problem with Article One, except I think it was a weak pole to hang your hat on.

I have no problem with Article Two, except the House needed to actually enforce those subpoenas (and issue 1000 more, like the Doc says). This fight is the core issue. We are battling for the soul of the Constitution and the co-equality of the Three Branches of Government. Framed that way, we would have changed the minds of at least some of those Sane Republicans I am told still exist.

ATRICLE THREE _ BRIBERY

This is battle that could have been won. Between the Emoluments Clause and the fact the Bribery is specifically called out as an impeachable offence, here is a hill to climb and die on. Trump is lining his pockets every day. How much does it cost US for him to golf at Mar-a-Lago every weekend? Is there even a government rate? How many Administration officials are directing their employees to stay at Trump properties while traveling? How many Saudi princes or Russian oligarchs have bought out suites or even floors at Trump properties?

We could have found out. And the Supreme Court has already ruled financial details are subpoena-able by Congress if directly related to the charges. This would have found any number of smoking guns that could not be ignored.

Of course, the GOP would have ignored it anyway and voted to acquit, if it got that far. But I think it might have had a greater chance of success. And changed more minds, even in failure.

(In my fantasy back-brain, once the supremacy of House subpoenas of financial records was established, Trump would have resigned and received a blanket pardon from Pence, just to keep his secrets. If he did this during the investigative stage, before an actual impeachment vote, it probably would have been legal. I don’t like Pence either, but I don’t think he can blow up the world that quickly.)

And, finally, this was it. We will NOT get another at-bat. Trump is now effectively fire-proof, no matter what comes to light. At least for the next year or two. Which is all the time that matters.

OK everybody, have at me.

Unknown said...

From Smurphs, sorry if you received some duplicate posts. Google burped.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin:
Is there a way to partially automate blog moderation- some sort of a
"3 Billy Goats Gruff Blog Software:'We Kick Out the *Trolls!'"?

Keith "Not Quite Yet an Old Goat" Halperin




*I'm not surprised there are so many Russian trolls; there were many when I was a kid, too.
We knew they were Russian by their names: "Wishnik".....

Darrell E said...

LarryHart,

Forgive me, I didn't make myself clear. I didn't mean to say that I think jim isn't relating what he has heard other people say in the lunchroom, as if he were making it up or such views weren't common. No, what I meant was that he sounds like he buys into the narrative himself. He's not just repeating it. To one extent or another, for one reason or another. He sometimes sounds like he is so upset with human society that he'd rather just watch it all burn, starting with the US. I'm not sure which is worse, perpetually fatalistic people like jim or MAGAs.

David Brin said...

“As far as the Courts having no say in Congressional Power and that moving the decision into the Courts would abrogate that power, that may be technical true, but how is just giving up a better option? Congress has broad powers to subpoena but effectively no mechanism for enforcement. Enforcement customarily falls to the DOJ. As I said, AG Barr probably would have refused…”

And hence you miss my point entirely. I say Congress should say “Screw the courts! They say this is none of their business… so it’s not! We are issuing 1000 subpoenas to lower civil servants, counting on their citizenship to comply.”

Also, FDR, LBJ and the lot NEVER made a case that Congress had no oversight rights.

Darrell E said...

LarryHart said,

"If your point is to demonstrate that voter support for Trump isn't there because the reasons for that support don't make sense, I'm here to tell you that the one has precious little to do with the other."

I know I don't comment much but, dang, I'd of thought you knew me well enough by now to know that doesn't fit me. I'll leave it at that.

jim said...

Darrell
Let me try to explain my position.
I don’t want to see the world burn.
But unfortunately, I see the world is already on fire, the fires are starting to burn out of control and our actions are feeding the fire.

I see humanity is deep in ecological overshoot, with an economic system that is fundamentally unsustainable. We have reached the point where the crisis of the limits to growth is upon us and almost all of the good options for dealing with the crisis are now gone. Yet every government, bank and corporation in the world is trying to grow their economies or business and that makes the crisis worse. The kind of fundamental change that needs to happen does not look like it will happen by choice it will only happen when forced by a situation out of our control.

I see industrial civilization as living out the classic Greek tragedy where our hero’s own actions (his hubris) actually creates his own nemesis, and that causes to our hero’s demise.

Larry Hart said...

Darrell E:

I'd of thought you knew me well enough by now to know that doesn't fit me.


No offense intended. I was responding to this:

"Anyone who believes the Trumpian immigration crisis narrative is an idiot."

Which I agree with, but which doesn't negate the fact that enough such people do exist and do vote to make a difference.


No, what I meant was that he sounds like he buys into the narrative himself. He's not just repeating it. To one extent or another, for one reason or another. He sometimes sounds like he is so upset with human society that he'd rather just watch it all burn, starting with the US.


I'll agree there, at least with the "sounds like". I think he's upset with human society for destroying ourselves. But in practice, the distinction makes very little difference.


I'm not sure which is worse, perpetually fatalistic people like jim or MAGAs.


I suspect there is much overlap between the two.

Larry Hart said...

jim:

I see industrial civilization as living out the classic Greek tragedy where our hero’s own actions (his hubris) actually creates his own nemesis, and that causes to our hero’s demise.


Ok, understood.

Still, what is the alternative. Without their hubris, most heroes of story would be dead by now anyway, of old age if nothing else. And if our civilization never advanced technologically and just lived sustainably off the earth for millions of years? What then when the meteor or the supernova or the natural climate change that wipes us out anyway?

Survival is always a goal, but there are other metrics to satisfaction as well. If our society does indeed flame out, I'm still grateful that I've lived in a time of plentiful food and warm houses and yes, easy travel. Likewise, I'm grateful to have lived in a time and place in which rule of law was (more or less) respected over rule of thugs and bullies. And I'm not at all on the side that finds satisfaction in thugs and bullies as society's punishment for hubris.

Larry Hart said...

sorry, for the third time:
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/10/opinion/trump-rally-new-hampshire.html

"I love his message. I love what he has done,” Ms. Aubin said. “He’s for the people. He’s for all of us. He doesn’t brainwash me. I get freedom of thought. I get to choose.”


This about a man who insists that "He did what they say but that's not impeachable" isn't loyal enough--that you must agree that his phone call was perfect.

The woman who is being quoted most likely doesn't know whether to cheer or boo for John Bolton unless Trump tells her what to think.

Darrell E is correct that "Anyone who believes the Trumpian immigration crisis narrative is an idiot."

Darrell E said...

jim,

It may surprise you to hear me say that I agree with much of that. I long ago (20 years or more) noticed that idolizing growth as the primary metric of success for businesses and economies can't be sustained indefinitely if resources are limited. I'm pretty sure that most other commenters here also agree with much of what you said above.

Unknown said...

Smurphs said:

Doc, I think we are talking past each other here. YES, Congress should have said screw the courts and issued those 1000 subpoenas. And when all of those civil servants were fired, and no longer had access to any documentation to back up their testimony, I think we still would of ended up in the courts.

But YES, I wish they had done that. I don't think it would have worked out the way you seem to think, but we both wanted done. Too late now.

And, NO, I wasn't claiming FDR, et. al. denied Congressional oversight, I'm claiming any of them were quite capable of pulling the same Ukraine arm-twisting that Trump did. Note, I am saying capable, not that I have proof they did at my fingertips. (But I bet if I were to go back thru the books I have read on FDR and Truman, at least, I'm sure I could find some hints. I am a great admirer of both men, but they did know how to play dirty.)

David Brin said...

No, jim does not 'want to see the world burn." What he wants is to have his cynical shrugs go unchallenged and no one to ask him to lift a finger to fight the fires.

By proclaiming "all is already lost!" and "I am smarter than every one of the pointy-headed fools asking for my help!" he gets to sit on a chaise with popcorn and watch all the flames while tsking "See? I told you so!"

Pehrps a supportable position, were there no good news (there's vast amounts) or effective action happeniong (ditto) or were he not an ingrate happily wallowing in advances, tools and pleasures he never earned, that he might apply to action, paying his debt forward.

David Brin said...

"And when all of those civil servants were fired, and no longer had access to any documentation to back up their testimony, I think we still would of ended up in the courts."

Not until the GOP gets to changing the Civil Service laws. There are no current parts of that code allowing firing for compliance with Congressional subpoenas, handing over whole file cabinets. By work-to-rule, those civil servants can just keep showing up to work while other civil servants ignore orders to stop paying them.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Jim 12:55 PM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFTLKWw542g

@Everybody: We're getting as gloomy as Dr. Brin's "pal" John Michael Greer!
RESOLVED: Trump is bad, so let's see what we can do about replacing him.
RESOLVED: The world is in big eco-trouble, so let's see what WE can do to avoid gigadeaths and civilizational collapse if possible, and minimize the suffering and damage if (there's strong, clear evidence) that's NOT possible.

Meanwhile, let's think of that Zen story about the guy who was chased by the tiger and went over the cliff, and while the tiger was trying to eat him and the cliff plants were giving way, he noticed some ripe wild strawberries and said something like "Nice, yummy strawberries..." (We can skip the part where, as he reached for the strawberries, the tiger incredibly painfully bit off his hand and he then tumbled to his death....)

A final thought (for now):
Maybe Gaea is actually a grumpy old man, and he's saying to the human race:
"Hey you kids! Get offa my lawn!"

Cheers,
Keith

Larry Hart said...

Is Reality losing?

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/12/opinion/trump-campaign-2020.html

There are three crucial developments working in Donald Trump’s favor in the 2020 presidential campaign.

These include what a group of Harvard economists — Alberto Alesina, Stefanie Stantcheva and Armando Miano — describe in a recent paper as “The Polarization of Reality.”

They write:

Evidence is growing that Americans are polarized not only in their views on policy issues and attitudes toward government and society, but also in their perceptions of the same, factual reality accompanying it.

As a result, “Republicans and Democrats (as well as Trump and non-Trump voters since 2016) view the same reality through a different lens.” In fact, the differences in perception of reality between Trump and non-Trump voters “are wider than between Democrats and Republicans overall.”

...

Darrell E said...

LarryHart said,

"No offense intended. I was responding to this:

"Anyone who believes the Trumpian immigration crisis narrative is an idiot.""


LOL. I never would have thought of your interpretation of that sentence. I was simply calling such people idiots, not questioning their existence. Uncharitable of me, yes, and rude. But it seems to be accurate.

Larry Hart said...

All he cares about may be corruption, but not the way that is meant to sound...

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2020/Pres/Maps/Feb12.html#item-3

Firing former AG Jeff Sessions and replacing him with Bill Barr may have benefited Donald Trump more than any other decision he's made. Barr, of course, helped wave away the Mueller report, and also assisted in facilitating the Ukraine scheme and then overcoming the impeachment trial. Three recent news stories further speak to fact that the Dept. of Justice, like the GOP, has become a fully owned subsidiary of the Trump Organization.

To start, the story that made far and away the most headlines involved Trump crony and convicted felon Roger Stone. On Monday afternoon, federal prosecutors asked that Stone be sent to the hoosegow for 7-9 years. On Monday evening, the President took to Twitter to whine about how unfair it was to sentence a felon to prison just because he committed a few crimes. On Tuesday morning, "high-ranking Justice Department officials" (translation: Barr) sent a message to the judge in the case asking for a much more lenient sentence, and saying that the original request was made in error. On Tuesday afternoon, the four federal prosecutors who made the original request withdrew from the case, and one resigned, all of them understandably upset at being cut off at the knees by their own department. The wheels of justice aren't just turning slowly these days; they appear to have fallen off the carriage.

The second story also involves string pulling that would make even Alberto Gonzales blush. At the start of the month, Barr named Timothy Shea, one of his closest friends and allies, as U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C. In that capacity, Shea has authority over, among other things, former NSA Michael Flynn's criminal case and plea deal. On Monday, Flynn filed a motion to withdraw his plea deal. You can probably see where this appears to be heading. It's not proof, per se, but the chain of events is obvious enough that even right-wing publications smell a rat.

And finally, the DOJ has a budget each year for grants given to organizations that fight sex trafficking. Two recent grants, which were revealed on Monday due to a FOIA request, went to rather...questionable recipients. One of those was an organization called "Hookers for Jesus," which will help women escape sex trafficking, but only if they commit to becoming Christians. One might argue that violates the separation of church and state. A second has an impressive name, the Lincoln Tubman Foundation. However, Lincoln Tubman has absolutely no track record, and is currently being run out of the mansion owned by the parents of founder Brooke Burris. Burris, by the way, has a law degree and a BA in political science and no background in social work, psychology, human sexuality, or any other relevant discipline.

None of this, of course, is the least bit surprising. As Slate's Dahlia Lithwick points out, the President has literally made a career of abusing the legal system and subverting the law. "The law is for suckers" is the general idea. And he has a real gift for finding toadies who will carry out his will, and take the fall for him should it come to that. Barr has now developed enough a reputation for corruption that Nigerian scam-style e-mails are being sent out by the bushel in his name "I am William Pelham Barr The Attorney General of United States of America. On my assumption of office, I met your file of payment worth of Fifteen Million Five Hundred Thousand United States Dollars submitted by my predecessor Jeff B. Sessions and after going through the file of payment, I was able to find out that all the necessary approval has been submitted and you have the right to claim this funds," they read. One can only imagine what will happen if Trump is reelected, and the last real constraint on his and Barr's behavior (we need votes in November 2020!) is removed

Unknown said...

From Smurphs:

Doc, do you realize you have made my point for me?

I think the House should have issued more subpoenas and kept digging. I think releasing the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate without more and stronger Articles was bad strategy.

You think the House should have issued 1000 more subpoenas and kept digging. This implies the House should not have released the Impeachment to the Senate as well.

We differ on what might have happened next, but not on my core point.

So, why am I an imbecile? ;)

Larry Hart said...

Agreeing with Malcolm Nance on this morning's Stephanie Miller show. Benedict Donald's subversion of the justice department (Nance suggests referring to it as the "Injustice Department" now) is the most obvious step toward dictatorship. American Democracy is on the ballot this November, and anyone who doesn't vote for whoever the heck the Democrat is and thereby abets a Trump victory is an enemy of America.

jim said...

With 50% of the greenhouse gases being generated by the activities of the richest 10% of the world, I am doing the only thing that counts, reducing my resource use. There is no sustainable world possible if the riches 10% (that includes everyone here) doesn’t radically change their unsustainable lifestyle.

Now I know you will respond with “jim is a zero sum thinker” but you’re your “positive sum thinking” is just an excuse to continue the actions you know are unsustainable in the hope that someone else will come along and magically make your activities sustainable and repair the damage you have done. It is just a lazy excuse for an unsustainable lifestyle.

Let me try your “lets make a bet” technique to see if it will work.

Any one want to be that the global use of fossil fuels will decline on average at least 2% per year for the next decade ? Added bonus if anyone would take that bet with the added stipulation that it happened without a massive economic downturn? Now for you positive sum thinkers 2% per year should not be too difficult, right? That would be ~35 years to cut total fossil fuel usage in half.

Ahcuah said...

Let me address the Unknown Smurph (hope you don't mind this name; I just find it an amusing juxtaposition) a bit more.

You say you do know the history of impeachment. I was misled by this further statement from you: "Therefore the Republicans are perfectly correct when they call this a political hack job and an attempt to subvert the 2016 election results." I didn't (and don't) see how this impeachment could be considered a political hack job. The Democrats saw an historically correct (and historically unprecedented/unpresidented) abuse of power and knew that they could not let it go. This was why Nancy Pelosi did not want to do it in the first place, and only acquiesced when it became so overwhelming.

I also find it silly for you to have parroted the Republican talking point about "subverting the 2016 election result", though the Republicans usually say "reversing". If impeachments reverses/subverts the election result, does that mean that suddenly Bears Ears is a National Monument again? Does it mean that the EPA is suddenly protecting the environment again? Does it mean that we're not 3 years behind in fighting climate change? Of course not--it's just a talking point meant to inflame those who do not put an ounce of thought into it.

In reply, you also said, "NO ONE CARES. This Impeachment trial was a forgone conclusion (we will get back to this below). There was never any chance Republicans would break ranks. So it was all political theater. And as theater it failed miserably. If there were more than a thousand people whose minds were changed, I’d be surprised."

Yes, it was a foregone conclusion, though I suspect there was a bit of hope to get testimony in the Senate that would then change other Senator's minds. But I doubt Nancy Pelosi thought so. This was more about doing what was right. Sometimes your integrity is all you have left. I also think you are incorrect about it changing minds. True, there are the core Trump supporters who will not be moved. But there have to be others.

And furthermore, Pelosi had to know that this latest vindictiveness was coming, and that that would change even more minds. By going through with this quixotic-looking "political theater", it makes it obvious to everybody with a brain what lies in a future of Trump.

In your latest, "I think the House should have issued more subpoenas and kept digging. I think releasing the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate without more and stronger Articles was bad strategy." The problem with this was the timetable (that, and the fact that the subpoenas would not show us anything we already did not know--even adding the Bolton reports and Parnas tapes did nothing; how would a subpoena add to that?) There was simply no time for the Courts to do their thing in the remaining year. Courts take a long time. Trump could have (and would have, and intended to have) tied things up past the election, at which point the subpoenas would be moot (and would also expire with the Congress).

However, I will grant you this: In Dr. Brin's original scenario (if I remember correctly), he had the impeachment and trial much later. I will concede that a better strategy might have been for the House to pursue the subpoenas for longer, and only concede that they wouldn't get them sometime around the summer. At that point they could have started the trial without the subpoena testimony they were never going to get.

On the other hand, the way it was done allows the electorate to see in stark details what the choice is, as Trump continues his retribution. The only question then is whether he will be able to use that retribution to sway the election to his continuing to hold office.

David Smelser said...

The problem with "the house should just subpoena" argument is that the house has tried it and it doesn't work.

On May 21, 2019 Don McGahn defied a subpoena to testify before the house judiciary committee.
And here we are almost 9 months later and the issue is still tied up in courts.

David Smelser said...

Larry,

It has always been different lenses because we evaluate facts with values and liberals and conservatives have different value systems (see https://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_haidt_the_moral_roots_of_liberals_and_conservatives)

Anonymous said...

Robert here…

Wondering what folks think of the following books. (Not being an American, I'm often uncertain how to take various narratives on American politics).

A Very Stable Genius by Rucker & Leonnig

Great American Hypocrites by Greenwald

House of Putin, House of Trump by Unger

American Carnage by Alberta

A Warning by Anonymous

Kushner, Inc. by Ward

Commander in Cheat by Reilly

Fear by Woodward

Mr. Trump's Wild Ride by Garrett

Larry Hart said...

David Smelser:

It has always been different lenses because we evaluate facts with values and liberals and conservatives have different value systems


We have always reached different value judgements--whether a fact revealed a problem which requires solving, a problem which requires resignation, or a thing to be celebrated--but that's qualitatively different from disagreeing about what the facts are.

For example, not even the staunchest Nixonite or Reaganite (or even G.W. Bush) would have asserted that "Article II says I can do whatever I want."

Larry Hart said...

It occurs to me that the issue of alternative facts is a potential problem with Bitcoin and its ilk. Blockchain technology relies on enough of the system being honest that individuals can't cheat. But if (say) 3/4 of the machines decided that "The ledger says Donald Trump owns all of the coins", no matter what the ledger actually says, then how does the system cope?

One problem for the Trumpers is that, while you can bribe or coerce or threaten people into believing alternative facts, you can't convince Reality itself to do so. Unlike religion, gravity works whether you believe in it or not. Likewise, your city will be under water whether or not you believe climate change is real. Reality is not arbited by whether a majority of computers votes for it.

Which brings to mind yet a third digression. An article I read recently (don't remember where now) pointed out the difference between uncovering truth and determining policy. The article's point was that the former is best left to experts in the appropriate field, while the latter is best equally democratized with every individual having a equal say. What (if anything) to do about climate change, and how much to spend on it is a policy decision. Whether or not climate change is real is not. You don't get to vote on the latter.

With that in mind, the question for the Democrats of "Who can beat Trump in November?" is probably better left to the party establishment rather than subject to popular opinion and vote. Because it makes no sense to treat that as something to vote on. The fact that (say) 65% of Democrats think Sanders (or Bloomberg or whomever) can beat Trump doesn't mean that the candidate can actually beat Trump. I realize I'm not in the majority here, but I'd say the job of the Democratic Party at the moment is to pick a candidate who can win, not to demonstrate which candidate more Democrats like than the others. A candidate who agrees with me on everything but loses the election does me no good.

David Brin said...

David Smelser said: “The problem with "the house should just subpoena" argument is that the house has tried it and it doesn't work.On May 21, 2019 Don McGahn defied a subpoena to testify before the house judiciary committee.”

Alas DS, you utterly ignore my point. Would you please re-read what I wrote and open the old mind to perceive?

jim strawmans, like locumranch, and his crit is aimed at someone else, not me. Yes, we do two kinds of solar here and we do what we can… starting with eliminating all support for the cattle industry… I am quite confident that I have had effects upon the world that were, are and will continue to be highly positive. That jim thinks “I reduce my resource use” excuses his miserable cynical laziness, opting out of out fight, is simply pathetic.

Robert, I am biased. I think my own book is of more direct, pragmatic, political value than all of those.

jim said...

I noticed you ran away from the bet.

I guess your don't really believe that we will actually make real progress on climate change in the next decade.

An average of 2% less global fossil fuel use per year - should not be too tough right? (for you positive sum thinkers). Still gives you ~35 years to cut fossil fuel usage in half.

Larry Hart said...

I'm not at all convinced that Pence is worse.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/11/us/politics/trump-vindman.html

...

Witnesses like Colonel Vindman testified under subpoena compelling them to talk, but Mr. Trump blamed them for his dilemma. In the Oval Office on Tuesday, Mr. Trump complained at length about Colonel Vindman, accusing him of misleading Congress about the president’s July 25 phone call with his Ukrainian counterpart. In fact, Colonel Vindman’s version of the call closely tracked the written record released by the White House, but he did testify that he thought it was inappropriate to ask a foreign country to tarnish the president’s domestic political opponents.

“We sent him on his way to a much different location, and the military can handle him any way they want,” Mr. Trump said. “General Milley has him now,” he added, referring to Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I congratulate General Milley. He can have him. And his brother, also. We’ll find out. We will find out. But he reported very inaccurate things.”

...

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Robert, I am biased. I think my own book is of more direct, pragmatic, political value than all of those


Unfortunately, your book may have something in common with a candidate who agrees with me but loses the election. If the people who need influencing don't read it, it's not influential.

Unknown said...

From Smurphs:

So, Ahcauh, you spent close to two pages tell me my facts are wrong, my law is wrong, my logic is wrong.

And then you agree with my conclusion:

"I will concede that a better strategy might have been for the House to pursue the subpoenas for longer, and only concede that they wouldn't get them sometime around the summer."

And then there is this:
"This was more about doing what was right. Sometimes your integrity is all you have left."

F*ck this. We lost. We didn't fight the good fight, we fought a bad fight. We lost. There were other strategies to pursue, other options; This was not a do-or-die "doing what was right." That for when your back is against the wall and you have no other choice. We had other choices, they probably would have failed as well. But we'll never know now. Please stop defending failure and calling it a virtue.

As far as "parroting" Republicans, Never. I was quoting some of things they have said. What I am attempting to do is get US to learn from defeat, instead of defending it.

We are all fans of empirical evidence here, so it bears repeating: WE LOST. The Democrats strategy failed. Ergo, it was a bad strategy.

Larry Hart said...

If I possessed a working time machine, I would go back to the Obama years and show President Obama the kinds of abuses of power Republicans would engage in when they regained power, and hope that he would pre-emptively play just as dirty. Like eliminating the filibuster for Supreme Court justices instead of waiting for McConnell to do the exact same thing. And Including bashing in the doors at FOX and locking up Hannity, O'Reilly, and Ailes without habeas corpus.

And if he wouldn't do that, I'd go back a bit further and insure that President Hillary Clinton would do so.

In 2016, every single Republican candidate for president claimed on stage that, if they could, they'd go back in time and kill Hitler*. But when they had the chance to metaphorically accomplish a similar goal without time travel, they failed miserably.

* Why couldn't one moderator be agile enough to ask whether they'd have been willing to abort Hitler?

David Brin said...

Hey jim what the hell does your bet have to do with anything? It's not based on facts or anything one can corner an opponent with, which is what my wagers are about, hence you simply prove you haven't a clue what any of the wager stuff is about.

Paul Ehrlich got suckered into betting on resource use, instead of pollution effects and wound up humiliated because he ignored how markets innovate. You want me to do the same. Baloney. Will science deliver marvelous new efficient techs? Absolutely. Will policies and laws encourage their implementation anywhere near fast enough? How the hell do I know?

I do know we'll more likely move in that direction if we are vigorous than as cynical-useless-lazy whiners.

jim said...

Global warming is caused by fossil fuel use. We all know that.

You say we are making great progress in dealing with global warming , I say you are completely wrong and we are not making progress at all.

Actually reducing our use of fossil fuels is the only way to make progress on climate change.

So the bet is simple, will the use of fossil fuels decline at an average of 2% or more per year over the next decade?

(lots of climatologist are saying we really need to reduce it by 7% per year and cut our fossil fuel use by 50% in a decade,)

David Brin said...

No it is not simple. It is tendentious and ignores the entire point of the wager approach, which is based upon obgservable and verifiable facts I have zero idea whether we will succeed or not and hence I have no horse in the race you are sneering at me to bet on. The difference between us is not whether humanity will successfully meet this challenge. It is whether we should TRY.

Your lazy-cynical ass proclaims that saving ourselves is impossible, therefor "lemme alone to snark pathetically and don't ask anything of me cause we're all dooooomed."

I assert that there are enough positive trends to keep us in the race and that fighting for our future is worth some effort. Find a way to make THAT the wager, fool.

Ahcuah said...

To the Unthinking Smurph.

I did not agree with your conclusion. Read more carefully. I said that Pelosi could have been more refined in timing. That was all. But I definitely did not say that it failed.

We will not know if it failed until the election. As I said, "the way it was done allows the electorate to see in stark details what the choice is, as Trump continues his retribution."

It was not a failure; we have not lost. And for you to say so reflects a certain blindness on your part.

As for your ridiculous claim that you were not "parroting" the Republicans, but merely quoting them here I quote you directly, my emphasis: "Therefore the Republicans are perfectly correct when they call this a political hack job and an attempt to subvert the 2016 election results." You can't even keep your own story correct. You parroted their claim and called it "perfectly correct".

Once again, the strategy was to get it out there, whether under subpoena or not. All subpoenas would have added was an oath to what we already knew. What Pelosi did was allow the Republicans to show what they were made of (horse manure), and to make sure that the electorate knew that. Whether that was sufficient to reclaim the republic is not yet known. But making subpoenas before impeachment would have left the true state of the Republicans unhighlighted (and, as David Smelser pointed out, the lone subpoena that the House did issue is still awaiting Court action). How would having all those subpoenas you wanted still hanging out there change anything before the election?

[Side note: Dr. Brin came down hard on David Smelser. I suspect he mixed up 2 separate subpoena discussions. This one, and the one where the good Doc called for 1000 subpoenas to all sorts of possibly knowledgeable personnel on the (good) assumption that a decent proportion would respond to them. While that would add a lot of weight to the issue of Trump's machinations, it is not clear to me whether they would carry the sort of forcefulness that testimony by a big name like Bolton would. But the 1000 subpoenas idea should not be forgotten. After this latest round, it would be nice if the idea could get to Pelosi.]

Darrell E said...

We have made some progress though. Saying we haven't is inaccurate and weakens the impact of your arguments. Progress on many fronts has been made. One example . . .

https://www.iea.org/articles/global-co2-emissions-in-2019

"Global energy-related CO2 emissions flattened in 2019 at around 33 gigatonnes (Gt), following two years of increases. This resulted mainly from a sharp decline in CO2 emissions from the power sector in advanced economies1, thanks to the expanding role of renewable sources (mainly wind and solar PV), fuel switching from coal to natural gas, and higher nuclear power output."

Sure, that's not nearly enough, but it is moving in the right direction and it is progress.

Tim Wolter said...

Odd when I am the positive voice for the Democrats.

The primary process is messy but it is showing signs of working. People like or dislike Saunder's policies but his passion and general candor have to be admired. Klobuchar is actually electable. And Buttegig has at least going for him that he is of a new generation. Elizabeth Warren never persuaded people of her sincerity. Biden, sadly seems to be past his shelf life as a candidate and from what I've seen might be suffering the effects of his earlier brain surgeries. And as I've said, the Impeachment process did nothing more than destroy any chance Biden had of lurching along as Inevitable. Pelosi must have known this going in.

I could vote for Klobuchar. I can respect Saunders. I welcome a new generation of candidates. (recall I've also described the Obama years as decimating the D 'bench')

2020 may not be a winnable presidential election, what with the economy actually being rather good just now. But long term the important progressive half of our political spectrum will survive and prosper.

T.Wolter

David Brin said...

Tim, this is what we pay you for.

The rest of you are engaging in fun and productive argument and citokate. Good stuff. There are some "types" here I wish we had more of. But no one here posted is outrageously rude or swill.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brin, your book may be better, but I haven't found it for sale in epub format. If it is for sale in such a format, please post a link and I'll put it on my birthday list :-)

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

2020 may not be a winnable presidential election, what with the economy actually being rather good just now. But long term the important progressive half of our political spectrum will survive and prosper.


You're more optimistic for the post-2020 future than I am. I think that if we don't oust Trump this time, there won't be a recognizable America to survive and prosper in. We'll have become Turkey or Hungary or Saudi Arabia. And if the electorate is willing to go that route because the economy is doing good, well, I'm just glad I'm old enough to have lived a good and privileged life, no matter what happens.

My last words will not be "I love Big Brother." More likely from Game of Thrones, "Fuck the king!"

Zepp Jamieson said...

On a somewhat more inspiring note:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ue5F57dZMU

Not just one of the best song parodies I've ever seen, but brilliant political commentary.

David Brin said...

Zepp how cool and fun. Everyone tune in!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ue5F57dZMU

John Jay coulda been replaced by Honest Abe. Not a Founder. But fer sure.

--

Anonymous Sorry, we're swamped and never got around to an epub version. Won't a pdf do?

We're about to publish my third e book in 3 months... my SciFi comedy The Ancient Ones!

David Brin said...

Good arguments, guys. And you mostly keep it clean.

now onward

onward

Anonymous said...

we're swamped and never got around to an epub version. Won't a pdf do?

It would when I was younger — now I turn up the print size so I don't get eye strain.

Also, with iBooks I can easily highlight etc, which I can't do with a PDF.