Sunday, March 01, 2020

A way to bypass the Roberts Court and get every document. Turn their evasion tricks to our advantage.

Will any Democratic politician or leader ever see outside the box? Today's topic is the core constitutional crisis - far more urgent than Impeachment - in which Republican-appointed judges are canceling the very notion of Congressional oversight and Presidential accountability.

"A three-judge panel of the federal appeals court for the District of Columbia ruled at the end of February that it lacked the power to order former White House counsel Donald McGahn to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.... The majority, made up of two Republican appointees, ruled that this was not the sort of dispute that federal courts were authorized to resolve: Congress and the White House should negotiate." It appears that centuries of precedent count for less than GOP fears that hearings might reveal an ocean of turpitude.

Standard methods for dealing with executive misbehavior — e.g. Congressional investigations — have been stymied by unprecedented stonewalling. Traditional, Constitutionally explicit oversight prerogatives that go back two centuries are now flouted as the White House moons every check or balance. Moreover, we’ve learned it’s futile to sue the Trump Administration in GOP-suborned courts.

Only what’s fascinating — opening a huge window of opportunity — is how the Roberts Court has rationalized abetting this executive putsch. There’s a potentially powerful silver lining, one that’s amazing.

First, I am not the only one suggesting that House Democrats bypass the courts. In this articleJosh Chafetz, a professor of law at Cornell Law School, asserts that Congress already has tools and powers. And he is right that, in theory: 

"For one thing, it can arrest people who refuse to testify and hold them until their contempt is purged (that is, until they comply with the subpoena). Although neither house of Congress has used this power in decades, it used to frequently, and there’s no reason that it could not be revived, given the political will. For another thing, it can use its power of the purse and prohibit the expenditure of funds on, say, the White House Counsel’s Office, until McGahn comes around. Of course, the Senate might refuse to go along with such an appropriations rider, or the president might threaten to veto the appropriations bill containing it."

While I respect Professor Chafetz - and he is aiming in positive directions - alas, he just doesn't get it. Schiff & Nadler do not have to send Capitol Police out to do gun battles with the Secret Service or William Barr's praetorian guards on the streets of Washington. There is a better way, and it will work - simply work - without the slightest drama.

== Can you follow this logic? ==


Okay, now pay attention.

In order to evade going on record regarding the merits of any case, or openly declaring void 250 years of Congressional oversight power, Chief Justice John Roberts and his Republican majority have instead repeatedly ruled against plaintiffs on the narrow basis of “standing,” nitpicking some technicality that renders - say - House Democrats ‘unqualified’ to file concerning subpoena enforcement, or emoluments or demands for documents.

 Or else - and now we get to the really creative part - they declare these issues “non-justiciable” matters that courts inherently cannot act upon, because doing so would infringe upon “the prerogatives of another independent branch.” (It's how they managed to leave in place cheats like gerrymandering, despite rising citizen abhorrence of the crime.) This consistent squirm excuse is accompanied with chiding admonitions for Congress and the Executive to “settle it among yourselves...” 

...with the convenient outcome that this always benefits Trumpian faits accompli.

== Turning their trick into a trap! ==

Now think about that… as not a single Democratic politician, or independent scholar, consultant or pundit seems to have done.

In fact, Roberts and his co-conspirators have painted themselves into a corner! One in which the advantage would veer to Congressional oversight committees. Further, having stepped away, Roberts will be unable to step back in, to interfere when that stone wall collapses.

Both here and in Polemical Judo I have made clear there is a way to accomplish that. For Congressional Democrats to sidestep suborned courts altogether! The method is bold, but totally justified under the Roberts Doctrine, a judo flip that would work.

In fact, there is no conceivable way it would *not* work!

And if any of you knows anyone who might know someone who can get the ear of Chairmen Schiff or Nadler… I could explain it in two minutes.

Oh, don’t ask me to explain it here. While the method does not depend utterly on surprise, an element of surprise could make its first use especially effective. So I’ll not blab except to someone with access.

Yes, sure, it’s already in my book. But there are so many notions there… more than 100 under-used or never-used tactics that could help in this fight… that I’m not worried about losing that first surprise. Anyone who reads Polemical Judo looking for it will find something else to get excited about, before chapter four.



73 comments:

David Brin said...

Max Tegmark offered an interesting riff: "A disturbing thought: Since COVID-19 kills 10.5% of people with cardiovascular disease which a whopping 48% of Americans have (7x more than in China), does this mean that the COVID-19 mortality in the US will be closer to 5% than the 2% estimated in China?"
https://lnkd.in/eZWzKat
https://lnkd.in/e5wXdqy

TCB said...

Max Tegmark can do the math, so say we all.

Meanwhile, at the hospital...

 Ashley said...

Max Tegmark means well, but I think the factors that have led to the crisis in China are more likely to be the result of cultural norms that raises the risk of disease transmission; social norms around handwashing and toilets for one are less than optimal.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I read this morning that the Chinese are engaging in a new fad of foot tapping as a way of greeting one another, which requires no physical contact or even proximity. Handshakes will go out of style for a while.
I'm watching to see what effect the outbreak has on voter turnout here tomorrow. And how will candidates "press the flesh" going forward from here?

the hanged man said...

In China, COVID-19 has been more lethal for men than women. One reason, most likely, is that 52% of the male population are smokers, while only 2% of women smoke cigarettes.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/20/health/coronavirus-men-women.html

Unknown said...

Ashley, have you been in a public restroom lately and notice just how many people don't bother washing their hands after using the toilet, no matter what they do in there? Many others say they wash their hands when all they do is run water over them. Far too many in America are not nearly as hygienic as could be hoped.

the hanged man said...

Dr. Brin, you can set up a meeting with Adam Schiff here in California:

https://schiff.house.gov/contact

Back in 2018, before my partner retired, he was working for a company (one of three in California) that printed voting materials (ballots, pamphlets, etc.) and also set up voting booths and counted ballots. A suspicious issue came up involving a registrar’s entire office in a red county here in California. I emailed Kamala Harris to alert her of this situation, and it disappeared shortly thereafter. I don’t know if she intervened, but she did respond by email to thank me, and she also sent me a Christmas card this last year, so I do believe our democratic representatives and senators are very open and responsive to our input.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin:
Something puzzles me. You are well-known and highly-respected- you have "the ear of many".
I'd think among these "ears" would be a fair number of local, state, and/or federal politicos (elected and otherwise) who'd be able to get you a meeting or a strong recommendation for your proposals. Are you working on multiple fronts simultaneously and looking for additional people to reach out to?

Keith "Not Always 'Puzzled'- Sometimes Totally Confused" Halperin

Jim Lund said...

Cultural norms in the US also spread disease. Want to get paid? Want to keep your job? Go to work, sick or not.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Fearless leader assures us: "Your elections are secure, coronoavirus will be gone by May, and you have nothing to fear, Earthlings."

Larry Hart said...

@Tim Wolter,

Are you still maintaining that the House committee should have waited for the courts to decide whether a subpoena has to be obeyed? Because it looks like the court is deciding that it has no business deciding the issue. Just sayin'

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/02/opinion/don-mcgahn-subpoena-decision.html

...
On Friday, the three-judge panel came to a confounding — and for many people, deeply troubling — decision: The court had no jurisdiction to consider the question. The case concerned the former White House counsel Don McGahn and the House Judiciary Committee. Mr. McGahn had been subpoenaed by the House on April 22, 2019, to testify about his role in potential obstruction of justice by the president in connection with the Mueller investigation.

In November, a lower court ruled in favor of the House committee: It said that there was no such thing as “absolute testimonial immunity” — the Justice Department’s argument — and that Mr. McGahn must appear.

But the appellate court decided that courts have no jurisdiction to settle the case. Mr. McGahn is free to continue to ignore the House’s subpoena.
...

David Brin said...

Keith and HangedMan - yeah… I operate at a level where you discover how MANY levels there are, between an average person and power. I have probably “given up” trying to reach top levels - or getting say an op -ed - more readily than the average person, because my position just at the fringes of influence can be so frustrating.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Fearless leader assures us...


Yeah, my colleague the Trump-loving Iranian expatriate is going on and on about how coronavirus was a hoax because the stock market is recovering.

"They have eyes, but they cannot see. Nor can Superman see through lead."

scidata said...

Re: bringing the "boffins to heel"

Apparently the president is extremely frustrated that he can't just order a mid-summer (ie. pre-November) vaccine and have it happen. Not everything is transactionally griftable.

Zepp Jamieson said...

The government is charging people to have tests for coronavirus!

https://www.rawstory.com/2020/03/why-are-we-being-charged-surprise-bills-from-coronavirus-testing-spark-calls-for-government-to-cover-all-costs/?utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=3851&recip_id=19569&list_id=1

Think about that for a moment.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin:
I know somebody who MIGHT have some connections.
He was a member of Former Gov. Grey Davis's cabinet and has pictures of being with Sen. Feinstein, Grey Davis, Al Gore(?), etc. all over his living room.
(I joked that "he doesn't know God, but is about 2-3 phone calls from Him."
Don't know if his high-level connections are still current, though. )
He's also a high-level attorney and is frequently published in Forbes.
Very nice man- a "mensch".
Let me know if you're interested, and if you are I'll give you more info (off-line) and connect you with him....

Keith "Likes to Connect People" Halperin

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: Looks like your Iranian buddy has as good a grasp of market dynamics as he does everything else. I bet he doesn't know that 1929 saw three of the biggest rallies (by percentage of value) the market ever experienced.

Larry Hart said...

From the rawstory article Zepp Jamieson links above:

In the case of the Wucinskis, Kliff reported that “the ambulance company that transported [them] charged the family $2,598 for taking them to the hospital.”

“An additional $90 in charges came from radiologists who read the patients’ X-ray scans and do not work for the hospital,” Kliff noted.


I know even the $90 surprise bill would be a hardship for some, but I would gladly pay that one in the situation.

The ambulance, on the other hand, that story is more evidence for what I've believed for some time now--that if at all possible, one should drive oneself to the ER or walk there, even in a blizzard or across broken glass rather than allow a private ambulance to get ahold of your billing information. For any reason. God save you if you require a helicopter.

Acacia H. said...

BTW, Dr. Brin, the ostrich Republican that I know went off the deep end after the green-eyed monster whispered in his ear and he's no longer talking to me. (I may have scolded him for treating his wife like his property rather than a person in her own right.) I do know another friend who recently admitted to being Republican but he also absolutely doesn't trust Trump at the least and is a Massachusetts Republican which as everyone knows is a liberal democrat in every other state of the Union, including California.

Acacia

TCB said...

Incidentally, Mythbusters showed that the "Dracula" is the best way to keep your sneeze or cough from spraying all over the room.

Learn the Dracula Cough - Rocky Moun tain Hospital for Children explains it for the kids.

Alfred Differ said...

What price should the government pay for covid19 tests?

We will all pay for them eventually in taxes, so this is not an idle question. There is a trick to it though.

David Brin said...

Dracula cough.adn't heard that name!

Keith. Why not have your friend read the chapters of Polemical judo offered free at http://davidbrin.com/polemicaljudo.html

If he likes them, have him contact me and I'll send a free PDF. And if he generates any enthusiasm, I'll explain the court-bypass idea.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred: thanks to the genius of Republican free-market ideology, the government is not permitted to negotiate the prices of coronavirus tests, or treatment if and when.
Vietnam never was any sort of threat to America, and 55,000 Americans died despite that, and the country spent trillions in 2020 dollars. So if we're willing to spend that sort of money and lives one people who weren't doing anything to us, how much would be a reasonable amount to help counter the coronavirus?

 Ashley said...

Unknown said... "Ashley, have you been in a public restroom lately and notice just how many people don't bother washing their hands after using the toilet, no matter what they do in there? Many others say they wash their hands when all they do is run water over them. Far too many in America are not nearly as hygienic as could be hoped."

Of course I know about this, nurses have a term for it. It's called social washing. My advice is learn how to wash your hands like a professional; nurse or doctor. I did during my student nurse training, you can too.

Tim Wolter said...

I've been trying to parse out particulars of the US cases of corona virus. It seems to be popping up here and there, and unlike most of the cases in Europe and Iran there seems to be no clear travel links to for instance, the nursing home hotspot in Washington state. This is interesting and not something I expected.

A few thoughts, based of course on incomplete data. But not on total ignorance. I was once our hospitals chief of infection control and for many years my community practice was part of the influenza sentinal program. We'd collect lots of swabs of people with respiratory disease even "out of season" to try and track the onset of various influenza strains. If that program is still running, and the samples are preserved....there could be the key.

There is speculation that the virus actually arrived in the US six to eight weeks ago and has been quietly "getting around". Bad news perhaps.....quarantine will no longer be useful. (Medical trivia of the day. The word comes from quarentra the Italian word for 40. That's how many days they'd maroon sick people on an island near Venice. After that you'd be considered non infectious. One way or the other).

If look back sampling shows we've had this around for most of the winter then we've probably seen the worst. Wall Street thinks this is so. It will hit the vulnerable just as influenza does. The case numbers will rise....but only because of increased and more accurate testing finds a big batch of mild and subclinical cases. And of course the explanation for a smaller batch of perplexing deaths.

I hope I'm right on this. I'm old enough to have been wrong pretty often but my batting average is not bad.

T. Wolter

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Larry: Looks like your Iranian buddy has as good a grasp of market dynamics as he does everything else.


Well, there's always this bit of snarky (but true) analysis:

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2020/Pres/Maps/Mar03.html#item-5

So, what comes next for this roller coaster of a stock market? Well, the experts agree that there is definitely a possibility that the Dow Jones might just go up or down, or it may stay steady, but it is absolutely certain that either something good or something bad is about to happen unless, of course, nothing much happens at all. You can take that to the bank.

locumranch said...


It does my black dead heart good to see a 'Law & Order' anti-populist constitutional elitist propose a widespread strategy of federal nullification in order to save the US federal government from those 'bad' constitutional processes that he arbitrarily defines as undesirable.

As a self-admitted idealist, he seems to have contracted a terminal case of 'the should have, ought to & supposed tos'.

Like the DNC party nominees & the guests on this week's 'Real Time', the typical self-deluding progressive keeps repeating that it is the federal government's job is 'to keep us safe', even though the US federal courts have ruled time & time again that that "government agencies have no constitutional duty to protect those who are not in custody."

Neither the Constitution, nor state law, impose a general duty upon police officers or other governmental officials to protect individual persons from harm — even when they know the harm will occur,” said Darren L. Hutchinson, a professor and associate dean at the University of Florida School of Law. “Police can watch someone attack you, refuse to intervene and not violate the Constitution.”

This sad state of legal affairs has not gone unnoticed by US establishmentarians and EU authoritarians everywhere who have proposed a rather elegant solution to this perplexing dilemma:

They propose nothing less placing the entire population of the West in PROTECTIVE CUSTODY in order to protect everyone from the dangers of cigarettes, viral upper respiratory infections, right-wing extremism, supersized soft drinks and majority rule democracy.

Finally, you all should, ought and are SUPPOSED TO be very very concerned about the COVID-19 boogeyman, so much so that you are to immediately surrender the remainder of you constitutional protections to a Nanny State that has no constitutional duty to protect you.


Best

+++++

In regard to COVID-19, it's astonishing that so many of you accept the fact-free swill that both the government & media are feeding you, especially in regard this miraculous test that purports to demonstrate the prevalence & spread of COVID-19.

Specifically, what is the sensitivity & specificity of said test?

What is the prevalence of False Negatives & False Positives?

But, most importantly, 'Why test at all?', when all the medical establishment has to offer is supportive care AND those test results will NOT affect subsequent medical therapies or treatments?

jim said...

Super Tuesday questions for the democratic party ---

Will the establishment strike back, effectively crush the socialist insurgency ?

Will the rebels be successful in fighting for new democratic party and finally start to put an end to the rule of the corporate democrats?

Are we headed into the convention without a clear winner and the two sides of the democratic party at war with each other?

How many votes does +400 million dollars buy an oligarch?

Alfred Differ said...

Zepp,

That’s not just a Republican ideology. There are real problems that happen in markets when government behaves like any other competitor/customer. The biggest being they can regulate or just threaten to regulate. The next biggest is their buyers/sellers rarely think of money the same way you and I do when we economize our resources. Different motives lead to different behaviors that alter behaviors of others in the market.

One of the issues progressives have with sellers dealing with government buyers is sellers will always adjust prices to what the market can support. Buyers who don’t think of it as ‘their’ money don’t ‘demand’ prices the way the rest of us do. So sellers ask for what they can get up to the point they look like they are gouging us and regulation is threatened again.

I don’t know a good solution to all this, but I do know that negotiating with the government is VERY different from negotiating with insurers and VERY different again from negotiating with individual consumers. Very different kinds of market behaviors result in each scenario.

Ultimately, though, prices are needed in some form. What they signal is important to those of us deciding how to assign our resources to meet demand.

Alfred Differ said...

Tim,

Your narrative is plausible and I sincerely hope you are right on this one. It wouldn’t be the first time we noticed the barn door open long after the horse left. Time will tell.

I think it will also be important to educate people on how well tests can distinguish various corona virus strains. A small percentage of false positives can make a huge difference to what we think is going on and be dramatically amplified when people adjust behaviors that impact supply chains.

Alfred Differ said...

Locumranch,

Specifically, what is the sensitivity & specificity of said test?
What is the prevalence of False Negatives & False Positives?

Why test at all?


A few years ago, I would have responded with snark to these questions, but I got educated after my own close experiences with medical realities. So… no snark this time. Why test? Because the illusion of knowledge will impact economic behaviors whether it does any medical good or not.

Alfred Differ said...

Jim,

Will the establishment strike back…?

One hopes so. One also hopes that progressives will note that they are winning the long game within the Democratic Party. They can rightly demand a share of power no matter who wins. Only fools would deny them.

Are we headed into the convention without a clear winner and the two sides of the democratic party at war with each other?

One hopes not. The struggle is important to have out in the open because it gives each power bloc an understanding of their actual strengths. After the convention, though, they need to team up and defeat their ACTUAL opponent.

How many votes does +400 million dollars buy an oligarch?

I suspect he will get a few delegates, but not enough to mean much of anything. His entry into the race was likely motivated by the Sanders surge, but the other center-inclined candidates appear to have created their own solution that will lock out the billionaires. We shall see tonight or tomorrow morning.

TCB said...

ALfred Differ sez: "Only fools would deny them."

Only fools would do a LOT of things, but we seem to have more than enough fools to do every foolish thing under the Sun.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Well, there's always this bit of snarky (but true) analysis:"

Reminds me of Doctor George's immortal weather forecast: "Rain unless it doesn't."

I'm sure you hear the market bombed today despite the rate cut. Traders clearly see the real threat behind the panic.

There isn't a lot of wriggle room outside of more QE. Rates have been artificially low ever since land speculators drove the economy into a ditch in 2007. Lowering interest rates acts like a squirt of nitro into the carb, but when you find yourself doing that all the time just to keep the engine running, it suggests the engine's getting ready to blow.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Tim wrote: "I've been trying to parse out particulars of the US cases of corona virus. It seems to be popping up here and there, and unlike most of the cases in Europe and Iran there seems to be no clear travel links to for instance, the nursing home hotspot in Washington state. This is interesting and not something I expected"

I think part of it is that 14 day latency period during which people are asymptomatic but nevertheless contagious. That, and a large majority of cases--perhaps as high as 85%--to unnoticed and undiagnosed even as the people walk around unaware they are even infected. I suspect it's actually in all fifty states by now, and the exposure range is up in the millions.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred: the rule change forbiddings government from negotiating drug prices is very specifically a Republican thing, passed on a party-line vote under Bush the lesser in his second term. And when it comes to medical costs and standards, the government MUST be able to regulate, or we go straight back to the days of Upton Sinclair.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred: Hillary's biggest mistake in 2016 was that she didn't keep her word on the agreement she made with Sanders to whole-heartedly embrace some of his worker-related programs. A lot of the 10% of Sanders supporters who wound up voting for Trump were workers, who quickly noticed Hillary was just giving the usual weak-tea lip service to them, whereas TRUMP was posing as the working-class hero. The vital states she lost were ones she either lost or barely beat Bernie in in the primaries. Like Biden, she concentrated on states where she did well in the primaries, but which Democrats haven't won in years.
So should Biden be the nominee, we can only hope he noticed and learned from this mistake.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

I'm sure you hear the market bombed today despite the rate cut. Traders clearly see the real threat behind the panic.


Even my Trump-loving Iranian colleague said he thought dropping interest rates was a bad idea. First of all, because it won't encourage demand among people afraid to go to restaurants or movie theaters or sporting events. And also because it doesn't calm the markets, but signals panic instead.

Still, he said we shouldn't get too enthused about the market hurting Trump's re-election, because "Who are you going to get instead? Bernie Sanders?" He seemed genuinely surprised that Sanders' name didn't have me running in terror.

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

In regard to COVID-19, it's astonishing that so many of you accept the fact-free swill that both the government & media are feeding you, especially in regard this miraculous test that purports to demonstrate the prevalence & spread of COVID-19.


What on earth makes you think any of us here are so credulous of the media, let alone the government aka the Trump administration. I'm not freaking out even though two patients have the virus in my suburb at the hospital my daughter was born at. The concern here seems to be more about the secondary economic effects on manufacturing and tourism, more in other countries than here at home.

For someone who reads enough of our words to echo them back like a dark, horrible mirror, you sure seem to confuse us with cartoon caricatures of liberals. Another characteristic you share with Dave Sim.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Alfred: the rule change forbiddings government from negotiating drug prices is very specifically a Republican thing, passed on a party-line vote under Bush the lesser in his second term.


Yes, while I take Alfred's point that the government shouldn't be given too much leeway to negotiate coercively, it's equally ridiculous to mandate that the buyer of millions of units must pay full retail prices.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

So should Biden be the nominee, we can only hope he noticed and learned from this mistake.


I suspect Bernie would bring some enthusiastic voters to the polls on the liberal side, but he would also bring out the opposition the way Hillary did. And he'd lose those "I would do anything for love, but I won't do that" never-Trumpers for whom Sanders is a bridge too far.

Biden's strength is that he could peel off conservative voters who are sick of Trump, but he wouldn't excite the liberal base, so the question is whether the one offsets the other, and (more importantly) in which states.

I'd happily vote for either one in November, but I have my misgivings about both, which really means I have misgivings that the Democratic Party in general has the chops to beat the white-supremacist/Christianist axis vote.

David Brin said...

ALfred I hope Jim will liten to you, though I don't expect it. The left of the DP has gained strength, has formidable leaders and voices of a new generation and the "DNC" types would be idiots not to heed this. They show every sign they have.

Alas, sanctimony reign supreme. Without EVER the slightest proof, these folks spin dizzying paranoid fantasy about "corporatists" and instead of uniting as full partners with increased strength, I am afraid we are in for major whining attacks and likely devastating splitterism.

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH: Well, your Iranian friend was right about the rate cut. If I had to hazard a guess, he fled Iran (or his parents did) following the rise of the Ayatollahs. I wonder if he realizes that Trump, effective head of the American Taliban, greatly resembles the Mullahs.

Zepp Jamieson said...

So Doctor, I take it you've never heard of "Citizens United"? All but one of the Democratic candidates succumbed to the need for superpacs, dark money, and corporate support. Do you believe those nice, friendly little businesses did so with no self-interest or expectations of favored treatment?

David Brin said...

Zepp, show me ANY proof of these fantasies. Just watch if dems get full power, as your "corporatists" take decisive action to reduce the power of money in politics. Will they vary in the details? sure. But I'd love to see your answer to my five splitter challenges, especially about the 111th congress. And back then there was still SOME reason to believe (as Obama did ) that making compromises would win counter flexibility from some republicans.

Democrats know better, now.

David Brin said...

Oh yeah, MONEY is soooo powerful in Democratic politics. Cough - Steyer! Cough- Bloomberg!

What's pitiful is folks who refuse to take YES for an answer.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

LH: Well, your Iranian friend was right about the rate cut.


Yeah, that was my point too. That even a die-hard Trumpist sees the flaw in this plan.

My Iranian colleague is more interested in the stock market than in Trump. His Trump-love is based on the "fact" that Trump is so good for the market. So when the two things diverge, he's going to be critical of the falling market, even when Trump is the cause.


If I had to hazard a guess, he fled Iran (or his parents did) following the rise of the Ayatollahs.


I don't know all the details, but I think that's pretty much correct.


I wonder if he realizes that Trump, effective head of the American Taliban, greatly resembles the Mullahs.


I doubt he'd care. That seems typical of fanatics of all kinds, like the hypo-Christians who are so revolted by the thought of Sharia Law, but their problem isn't that it's theocratical, but that it's the wrong theocracy. They're perfectly happy with using the law to enforce their religious preferences.

George W Bush was kidding on the square when he said that dictatorship was easier, "as long as I'm the dictator." They don't have a problem with authoritarian government per se--they only have a problem when they're not the ones in charge.

Zepp Jamieson said...

" They don't have a problem with authoritarian government per se--they only have a problem when they're not the ones in charge."

I think you pretty much nailed it. "Freedom of religon" thus translates to "licence for MY religious" and "free market" means "no controls on those who own the markets." Then with groups or causes they don't like, they accuse them of wanting "special rights" when in fact they're usually just demanding the same rights they already have.

jim said...

Well the Establishment stuck back last night and seems to have effectively eliminated the possibility of the rebels winning a majority of the delegates, and likely insuring that the Establishment will get at a minimum the plurality of the delegates and potentially the majority of the delegates at the convention.

From my perspective this a big loss. It looks like Biden will be the nominee, and the Democratic party will be the party that wants to returns to the pre 2016 status quo and the Republicans will be the party trying to change the country. I don’t think Biden will be a good candidate nor a good president (if he were to get in)

The big question is how does the corona virus pandemic play out this year? There seems to be a good chance it will trigger a financial meltdown, the question is how does Trump respond to the pandemic and it economic after effects? Does he go for a big fiscal stimulus? (lots of infrastructure projects?) A helicopter drop – send checks to all tax payers to counter the economic slow down? A partial Debt jubilee ? (interest rate cuts will not do the job) Free medical care for people who come down with the illness?

(don’t assume that Trump will be done in by the pandemic – he could turn it into an asset. He can claim that his trade war with China, the anti globalization policy in general and crack down on illegal immigration all help pre-prepare the US for this pandemic. And if we keep with these policies it will put the US in a much better situation when future pandemics occur. The pandemic might not be Trumps Katrina but rather his 911.)

Zepp Jamieson said...

Doctor, the 111th Congress was back before Citizens United. You get defensive about Dems taking superpac money, but the reality is they are as victimised by that horrible ruling as the rest of us--perhaps more. Republicans were already in thrall to a deeply authoritarian and facist philosophy in which they do not govern--they RULE, and they control who gets to vote and who gets to enact laws and who the laws should pertain to and who is above those laws. Search your heart--you know that's the truth.
Democrats have been made the potemkin opposition, the Washington Generals whose task it is to maintain the appearance of democracy and freedom. If we have elections this fall--and at this point I think there is only a 50% chance we will because we have several crises devoloping at once and Republicans aren't ones to let a good crisis go to waste--if we have elections and the results aren't so skewed that Democrats actually win the Congress and the White House, don't expect much. expect much: these Dems who are children of Citizens United will be compelled to dance with them whut brung them (to quote Molly Ivins) and you'll see them voting for workers rights but leaving fire-at-will laws intact, making those rights meaningless, and bowing to pressure from the right to cut social programs of all sort to protect the deficit crisis that suddenly appeared in January, 2021.
I see Bloomberg dropped out and endorsed Biden today. Do you really believe he did that because he believed Biden would faithfully serve the people and not his class?

Deuxglass said...

I am glad that the voters weren't impressed by Bloomberg's money-drenched campaign. He hired the best talent in the election business and gave them unprecedented means and yet he lost so badly that he folded his hand. It gives me faith in the Democrat voters. They know a scam when they see one.

Anonymous said...

Robert here,

Semi-off-topic question:

Does anyone have an opinion of the historian/author Gerald Horne? I saw his book The Counter-Revolution of 1776 and was wondering if it was worth reading.


And a bit more on-topic:

Dr. Brin, please consider having an ePub version of your book for sale from a non-Amazon source. I haven't picked it up because I'm not willing to give Amazon control over my iPad, and I'm no tech-savvy enough to buy it, download it, and crack-and-convert it.

Deuxglass said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deuxglass said...

A study came out yesterday from Chinese scientists that say that there are two versions of the virus, the aggressive version is a mutation of the more "gentle" one. According to them the aggressive version became prevalent in the early stages in Wuhan but as time goes by the less aggressive version is gaining ground.

Fascinating reading!

Abstract with link to full study:

https://academic.oup.com/nsr/advance-article/doi/10.1093/nsr/nwaa036/5775463?searchresult=1

Deuxglass said...

Jim,

I think it was around September when something the Fed chairman said to Congress caught my eye. He said that the Fed was looking at ways to send cash directly into people's bank accounts to jump-start the economy if need be.

I remember it when Hong Kong decided on new measures involve providing a cash gift of $1,800 (HKD 10,000) to every resident 18 and above. They also factored in free rent for indigents, tax breaks and subsidies for SMEs, rebates on property taxes, and further payouts to poorer families.

If people have to stay inside then they can't work and so no money coming in.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Then with groups or causes they don't like, they accuse them of wanting "special rights" when in fact they're usually just demanding the same rights they already have.


One of us is becoming redundant. :)

Yes, I've said here till I'm blue in the face that when locumranch equates White Christians' identity politics with that of powerless minority groups, he's willfully ignoring the fact that the other groups are asking to be treated equally whereas the dominant groups are asserting their superior rights over everyone else as part of their "cultural identity".

It's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

I see Bloomberg dropped out and endorsed Biden today. Do you really believe he did that because he believed Biden would faithfully serve the people and not his class?


I believe he did so because he thinks Biden is the best candidate to beat Bernie Sanders. I hope that has something to do with his believing that Sanders would lose to Trump, although it might be because he was afraid Sanders would beat Trump.

Tim Wolter said...

jim and others. I agree that Biden is not a compelling candidate. As a conservative leaning Indie I've always respected Sanders, while finding his policies to be outside my comfort zone. And the moderate, reasonable sounding D candidates that could make a plausible case for my vote in Swing State Wisconsin? All gone now. Hope whatever IOUs Klobuchar got are worth something.

Sure, Biden is an establishment candidate. But recall that I have no affection for the Democratic Establishment. No, it looks as if they have decided that the Best they have is an older individual with nostalgic ties to a prior administration, some (debatable, and will be debated) ethical issues in the closet and a history of neurologic injury.

Again.

C'mon, I'm not a partisan hack, although I suppose I'll be called one. But the same guy you were all "meh" about when Obama tapped him 12 years ago?

Next up we'll see the roll out of the Best VP Ever who will gradually learn the ropes and take over from The Grand Old Man. Were I a partisan hack I could write that text now and slot in the name in a few months. Maybe sooner, I imagine the B.V.P.E. will be announced well ahead of the convention.

Sigh.

T.Wolter

Alfred Differ said...

TCB (and David to some degree)

we seem to have more than enough fools

Mmm... Maybe. It is most important to account for them when they are in positions of actual power.

Consider how Pelosi effectively defused AOC. It's not that AOC or Pelosi are foolish, but they managed to find a way to do what each does without infighting. If one weakens, I have no doubt the other would occupy the vacuum, but as things are now they actually support each others objectives.

The real fools are people who try to govern from a minority position without recognizing their weaknesses and covering them through alliance and compromise. I know these types well because many of them are libertarians with ideology purity-related fantasies.

I'm not that skeptical about the current crop of Democrats. We are getting to see how Democrats compromise with each other out in the open this time. Fight, fight, pause, Trade, Cooperate. No smoke-filled backroom secrets have to be concocted to explain what we see. They may be talking to each other behind closed doors, but it's pretty obvious what Klobuchar, Buttigieg, O'Rourke, and Steyer did. Bloomberg too.

Alfred Differ said...

Zepp,

...passed on a party-line vote under Bush the lesser in his second term.

Oh. I remember that one. I'll return the shock and agree with you. That rule change was awful scummy.

Alfred Differ said...

Zepp (and all other Sanders supporters),


So should Biden be the nominee...

Y'all are a growing force within the Democrats. So are the blocs that represent 'people of color' who aren't all that inclined to be Progressives. Many are noticeably conservative. You still need them on your side, though, instead of joining your opponents who for some historically stupid idea treat them like dirt. Absent that bias, you'd all be stuck for a while as a minority and your opponent would have a growing base instead of the shrinking one they have now.

So... take up any beefs you have with the minority blocs who know MUCH more what it is like to be oppressed. Persuade them if you can. Win over their children if you can't.

Larry Hart said...

What else is there to say? :)

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/04/opinion/bernie-biden-happy-warrior.html

...
And because we are at the mercy of Donald Trump, a man who resembles the previous 43 presidents less than he resembles a villain out of Marvel Comics. And not one of the smart ones, like, say, Thanos, but one of the dumb ones, like Emil Blonsky in “The Incredible Hulk,” who — driven by ego and vanity — transforms himself into a giant destructive blob. That villain’s name: Abomination.
...

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

C'mon, I'm not a partisan hack, although I suppose I'll be called one. But the same guy you were all "meh" about when Obama tapped him 12 years ago?


I'm no partisan hack either, although I could credibly be called an anti-partisan hack. All I care about is defeating Republicans. I'm "vote blue no matter who" because that's currently the only means to that end.

I don't need Biden to excite me. I need him to win over votes in key states, including your own. If I thought Bernie could do that, I'd be all in for him, but I'm afraid he brings more negatives than positives (from my POV) to the table. If he's the nominee, I'll vote for him and try to convince others to do so, but I'm more worried about his electibility than Biden's.

It continues to amaze me how anyone, not just you, who has eyes to see Trump's active courting of Nazis and foreign dictators, pissing on allies, and replacing competent government workers with toadies can be so afraid of Bernie's policies as to be willing to put up with four more years of Trump unchecked as an alternative. Do I have to point out again that President Sanders would not be a dictator, able to tax the rich to pay for everyone's college by fiat? Congress will not roll over for a Democratic president, let alone a democratic socialist one the way the Senate does for Trump. In fact it would take a miracle to flip the Senate in any case. So you're looking at a constrained Bernie vs an unleashed Trump and what?...thinking that you can stand the latter while the former is intolerable?

Alfred Differ said...

Tim,

From what I've heard, that neurologic injury is a stutter from childhood days. He covers it most of the time, but not always. I don't really see such things as injuries, though. My son is on the autism spectrum, so I received a whole snoot-full of education/exposure over the last 20 years regarding neurological diversity. 8)

The BVPE script has likely been written. I think something similar to it was used when Pelosi regained the Speaker's role and needed Young Gun support. Maybe. At least something that rhymes.

the hanged man said...

I am a Bernie supporter — I have been since the last election, but I will vote for whichever democrat is running in the GE, just as I did for Clinton.

But Biden, really!!! Of all the candidates (save Blumberg), he is the most risky. I like Joe as a person, but he has never been inspiring — this is his third time running for president, and does anyone really see him solving any problems, especially with the mess he will be inheriting?

Worst of all, is the mess with Burisma. While I know Trump’s claims have been disproven, it still has the stench of corruption. Who knows what evidence Giuliani may be able to manufacture between now and Election Day for a big ugly October surprise?


https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2020/3/4/21164083/super-tuesday-results-joe-biden-win-ukraine

the hanged man said...

And because we are at the mercy of Donald Trump, a man who resembles the previous 43 presidents less than he resembles a villain out of Marvel Comics. And not one of the smart ones, like, say, Thanos, but one of the dumb ones, like Emil Blonsky in “The Incredible Hulk,” who — driven by ego and vanity — transforms himself into a giant destructive blob. That villain’s name: Abomination.

Hey Larry, that is perfect! Since Trump is so consumed with his own greatness, I think we should call him The Great Abomination.

That is probably the best description of him that I have ever read.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred: You've put your thumb squarely on the biggest problem the left has--reaching out to and including minorities. Workers and Unions are historically hostile to creating opportunity which they see as competitions. And minorities, with good cause, ask, "Well, what's the left ever done for us?" Often as not the left has supported segregationist and bigoted policies.
Do me the answer is blindingly obvious, but getting my fellow leftists to see it has been problematic.

Tim Wolter said...

Alfred. I actually had not known about a childhood stutter. Maybe that is part of his odd verbal patterns. If so I'm sympathetic. I know the surgeon who operated on his brain anurysms has been front and center saying there was no damage. But this kind of procedure in 1988 was not minimally invasive and an ageing brain sometimes unmasks problems that were previously not noticable. An impaired President is not a new concept or a pleasant one. Would the Peace Process in 1918 have been so botched with a functional Woodrow Wilson? Would the abuses of Reagan's second term have been fewer were he all with it? I think the guy or gal with the nuclear football has to be entirely competent. Perhaps the rigors of the campaign trail are as good a mental status test as anything the neuropsych folks could cook up.

Larry you are engaging in hyperbole. Actual Nazis are hard to find. Every admin has to deal with foreign dictators. But I get your point. President Sanders would not be able to remake the nation into Venezuala.

Hope you get my point too. Joe Biden is not the best the Dem party could have put up there. The bench has been thinned out by the Obama years and the current environment requires candidates to placate factions that are impalatable to much of the general electorate.

Well, we'll get through it. America is resilient.

T. Wolter

Larry Hart said...

the hanged man:

But Biden, really!!! Of all the candidates (save Blumberg), he is the most risky. I like Joe as a person, but he has never been inspiring — this is his third time running for president, and does anyone really see him solving any problems, especially with the mess he will be inheriting?


Are you old enough to remember Gerald Ford and the sigh of relief he gave to the country following Nixon?

Biden's strength is that he looks so normal and comfortable in comparison with Trump. He's not going to scare anyone away as Bernie does and Warren probably does too. I know that's not a ringing endorsement, but remember all I care about is beating Trump, because if we don't do that, no problems will get solved.

Also remember that it's congress, not a president, who solves problems. What we need in a president is someone who will sign or veto legislation the right way.


That is probably the best description of him that I have ever read.


I was quoting, but I did think the quote made a good point. Though if I had to come up with a Marvel Cinematic villain to compare to Trump, I think it would be The Collector or The Grand Master--beings of incredible power who use it for mean-spirited, largely pointless endeavors.

locumranch said...


Just as Alfred prefers the medical "illusion of knowledge" over whether or not COVID-19 testing "does any medical good", most progressives prefer the illusion of freedom, representation & democracy over the real thing.

That's why many progressives, other than Jim, are perfectly happy to have their votes & the votes of their power base annulled by sleazy backroom DNC autocrats who use political ringers -- Bloomberg, Buttgieg & Kloboucher to name a few -- to screw over Bernie Sander supporters yet again, just like the DNC did in 2016 with Hillary Clinton, in order to favour a demented political hack & corporate sell-out like Biden.

And why is that?

Because (1) unenlightened commoners are ill-equipped to choose their own leaders, because (2) the over-educated deep state DESERVES to rule over others due to its superior aristocratic abilities & because (3) 'splitters' who undermine the monolithic power of either the DNC or the deep state cannot be tolerated.


Best

David Brin said...

. Way too busy to post much . Home repairs and house painting and conversing with mavens. But glad you’re all having a good time. Minor responses.

to jim: Waaaaah! Democratic voters got to actually vote their preferences! Oh no! After being better informed about a wide slate of admirable and excellent candidates in the most thorough vetting in history… and proving themselves almost utterly immune to the power of big money… Dem voters - especially minorities - decided that having a beloved old fart who is a solid administrator who will reliably beat Trump and then will chair meetings where real policy endeavors get thrashed out is slightly preferable to a beloved old fart who claims to have all the answers - all of them - and who might scare a demoralized confederacy into resolve.

Disagree? Terrific. So did a couple million young Bernie bros who did NOT come out and vote!

Dig it, jim, And Zepp! The left has already won. The “establishment” does not dare ignore the “revolution.” It would be insanely stooopid. And given that money proved staggeringly ineffective, from Bloomberg and Steyer, what reason would the “DNC types have NOT to make ending Citizens United a #1 priority?

===

Robert it is on our agenda to e-pub my recent kindle books. Gotta wait 3 months.

Reprt back to us about the G Home book!

==

LH… we’ll see if Bloom & Steyer keep their word and pay half a billion into anti-Trump PACs


Tim: “Sure, Biden is an establishment candidate. But recall that I have no affection for the Democratic Establishment. No, it looks as if they have decided that the Best they have is …”

Again. Huh??? Who is “they”? Seriously weird, man.

As for Best VP Ever… malarkey!

Dem nominees ALWAYS pick a somewhat boring but profoundly qualified running mate, from LBJ to Humphrey to Mondale, Gore etc.

ALL BUT ONCE in my life the GOP candidate has chosen a monster, profoundly unqualified to be president. And the one exception… Reagan choosing a man supremely qualified on paper… that VP later became America’s worst president of the 20th Century.

It’ll happen again.



THM Burisma is easily deflected, if Joe has any brains: “Name the law you claim my son broke!” And the “Let’s pass a law making ANY financial shenanigens by a politician’s family illegal.”

David Brin said...

But the biggest thing is "I'll pardon the first hugely blackmailed figures who turn the tables on the blackmailers... and aqll NDAs in future will sunset after 5 years."

David Brin said...

Great discussions guys. But time for a science blog.

onward

onward