Sunday, March 08, 2020

Want to get past the Roberts Court and restore Congressional oversight? First try looking outside the box

What will it take to find a Democratic politician or leader who can see outside the box? Nothing could be more important than restoring Congressional powers of oversight and investigation. Yet, suing the Trump Administration in the thoroughly GOP-suborned courts is futile. Traditional and Constitutional Congressional oversight prerogatives that go back two centuries are now flouted in repeated White House moonings of every check or balance. 

But what’s fascinating — opening a gaping window of opportunity — is how the courts have rationalized all this. This may get a little dry. But it is of paramount importance.

In order to evade going on record re: the merits of any case, or openly declaring void 250 years of Congressional oversight power, John Roberts and his comrades have abetted this executive putsch by narrowly ruling against plaintiffs (like House Democrats) on the basis of “standing.” Or else they declare these issues “non-justiciable” — matters that courts inherently cannot act upon because that would infringe upon “the prerogatives of another independent branch.”
Now think about that… as not a single Democratic politician, or independent scholar, consultant or pundit seems to have done. Roberts and his co-conspirators have in fact painted themselves into a corner! One that could be exploited in a spectacular judo-move, leading to demolition of their entire attempted putsch.

Both here and in Polemical Judo I have made clear there is a way for Congressional Democrats to SIDESTEP the courts! This method is bold, but totally justified under the Roberts Doctrine, a judo flip that would totally work. There is no conceivable way it would not work! And if any of you know anyone who might know someone… I could explain it it two minutes.

== What's that secret sauce solution, Brin? ==

Yeah, I know, I'm being mysterious. One of you wrote in that I must be talking about how Congress has always had - though seldom used - the right to send Capitol Police or US Marshals or the Sergeant at Arms to demand documents and appearance at hearings. They can even arrest and jail those who refuse Congressional subpoenas.  And yes, that is the answer offered in almost every discussion...

... immediately eliciting images of William Barr's appointed Praetorians pulling pistolas, with gun battles subsequently raging across Washington DC, to the tune of Vladmiric laughter echoing across the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. 

So let's be clear. That absurdly garish scenario is NOT what I am talking about! Not at all. Not even remotely. 

Reiterating: there is no guarantee that sending out armed marshals will work... and that's certainly why Pelosi, Schiff and Nadler have not tried it, yet. But I guarantee my method will work. It's relatively risk free and - again, I repeat - It ... will... work. Because it cannot not work.

So why don't I lay it out, right now? 

Well, although secrecy isn't essential, the method would benefit - first time - from some element of surprise. So I'll not detail it here... though it's right there in POLEMICAL JUDO, nested among a hundred other potentially useful suggestions. And hence I am confident that no one on the other side will ever read closely enough to find it.


== Abandon clichés and embrace the officers defending us ==

Military leaders believe climate change seriously threatens U.S. national security. They contend it is stirring up chaos and conflict abroad, endangering coastal bases and stressing soldiers and equipment, which undermines military readiness. But rather than debating the causes of climate change or assigning blame, they focus on how warming undermines security, and on practical steps to slow its advance and minimize damage. The Navy is concerned about twelve(!) new Russian bases ringing the Arctic… as well as the generally anti-scientific and delusional attitudes that propel denialism.

All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon's Perspective on Climate Change, by Michael T. Klare explores in depth this added reason why the maligned “deep state” US military Officer Corps is fast realizing that one of our parties has been suborned.

== Bern-ing bridges? ==


Two additional opinions on Bernie, both sympathetic but from opposite perspectives. In The New York Times, David Leonhardt writesFaced with the potential of either large gains or historic losses, progressives would be wise to stop believing only what they want to believe. Don’t cherry-pick polls to claim that most Americans actually favor a ban on private insurance. Don’t imagine that millions of heretofore silent progressive supporters will materialize on Election Day. In the 2018 midterms, Sanders-style candidates lost swing districts, while candidates demonstrating respect to swing voters won again and again….Beating Trump in November will be even harder. And uncomfortable compromises will make it more likely.

And again and again, confront your splitter friends with these challenges!


Now we know why Lisa Murkowski voted to acquit Donald Trump – and it’s not pretty.

Remember my suggestion to call the Donald "Two Scoops?" Well, the Trumpsters may already have owned it. Unless, of course, that is actually satire. But would the Trumpsters actually know it was?

== My recommended method... used effectively 70 years ago ==

This brief, formally-polite letter from a State Department functionary to the raving-maniac Senator Joe McCarthy is stunningly pertinent glance into the past reveals how to nail liars with demands for specific evidence. This is what I call demand-a-wager. It doesn’t have to be about money, per se. But it must shame the liar publicly, for refusing to step up.

Washington, February 11, 1950—2 p.m.
“In view of your statement carried by the press that there are “57 card-carrying Communists” in the State Department,2 I respectfully request that you make these names public or submit them to the Department of State. It would seem to me that if you have this information, as a loyal American you owe it to your country to inform the officials responsible for any such characters existing in the government. As you know our employees have been checked and are being checked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation under the President’s loyalty program and if you have proof that there are card-carrying members of the Communist Party in this Department I assure you that they will not remain in this agency. I assume that you have given your information to the FBI. Therefore we will communicate with that agency immediately. Needless [Page 1380]to say, the thousands of loyal employees of this Department must not be placed under a cloud of suspicion and I should appreciate it if you will promptly publish the names of the departmental employees whom you say are members of the Communist Party.”

== And finally... theologically ==

What? His 4th Chief of Staff?  Fifth?


Luke 17.6 And the Lord answered: "If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you."


Funny how the "Chosen One" of Heaven can't even get a staff of competent people to obey him. So much for his faith.

108 comments:

Rud Merriam said...

I believe you refer to the inherent ability of Congress to issue subpoenas, find contempt, etc. The Courts have backed this by saying they cannot interfere because that capability exists.

Presumably the Sargent of Arms of the Congress would be the enforcing agent. However I don't think this is clear. Who could Congress get to enforce their actions?

Would the US Marshals provide enforcement as they do for the Courts?

David Brin said...

Yes, Rud Merriam, that is the answer offered in almost every discussion... that Congress has always had - though seldom used - the right to send Capitol Police or US Marshals or the Sergeant at Arms to demand documents and appearance at hearings. They can even arrest and jail those who refuse Congressional subpoenas. And yes, this immediately elicits images of William Barr's appointed Praetorians pulling pistolas, with gun battles subsequently raging across Washington DC, to the tune of Vladmiric laughter echoing across the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

So let's be clear. That absurdly garish scenario is NOT what I am talking about! Not at all. Not even remotely. Reiterating: there is no guarantee that sending out marshals will work... no doubt the reason why Pelosi, Schiff and Nadler have not tried it, yet. But I guarantee my method will work. It's relatively risk free and - again, I repeat - It would work, simply because it cannot not work.

So why don't I lay it out, right now? Well, although secrecy isn't essential, the method would benefit - first time - from some element of surprise. So I'll not detail it here, though it's right there in POLEMICAL JUDO, nested among a hundred other potentially useful suggestions. And hence I am confident no one on the other side will ever read closely enough to find it.

scidata said...

Quick Foundation question.
I just read that the Belgian astronomer Adolphe Quételet (1796-1874) was the inspiration for Hari Seldon. Instead of psychohistory, he called it social physics. Before I pursue this trail, any feedback/caveats from the Asimov masters here?

locumranch said...


There's a fascinating circularity of thought at work here wherein those who dismiss morality & divinity as outmoded irrelevant superstitions are the very same people who (1) expect the ongoing protections once provided by such outdated & irrelevant concepts, (2) insist that science possesses an intrinsic-yet-superior morality, and (3) believe themselves to be the most deserving & most capable of achieving divinity.

Unfortunately, things just don't work that way:

You can't consume your cake and have it, too;
You can't expel the divine and enjoy its continued blessings;
You can't shred the social contract and then enforce it upon others; and
You can't dismantle a moral code and expect its permanent protection.

Then sweetly she mocked his scruples, and softly she him beguiled:
"You, who are verily man among men, speak with the tongue of a child.
We have outlived the old standards; we have burst, like an over-tight thong,
The ancient, outworn, Puritanic traditions of Right and Wrong."



Best

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/08/opinion/trump-coronavirus.html

...
Furthermore, when asked last week if he [Trump] would consider canceling some of his large political rallies to avoid the risk of spreading the virus, Trump responded, “It doesn’t bother me and it doesn’t bother them at all.”

Trump could be making his most ardent supporters a petri dish of disease
...


I see that as a win-win.

"Bad liberal!" Smack!


...
Whereas his supporters can be lied to and gaslighted, a virus cannot. A virus is going to do what a virus does. Viruses are not thinking and aware. Technically, they’re not even living things. They are like an army of androids, multiplying as they attack and infect living things.

So none of the tricks that Trump has learned and deployed will work against this virus. Only science, honesty, prudence and genuine concern for public safety will work now.

And precisely for those reasons, this virus exposes Trump’s enormous weaknesses as the chief executive officer of this country.

The public needs to be assured that we have a real leader at the helm, but we are being shown that just the opposite is true. The fact that he wants to spin media coverage of the virus as politically motivated, the fact that he keeps lowballing the number of people infected, and the fact that he has said that the virus may miraculously disappear, all show that Trump is as much a public health threat as the virus itself.


True 'dat.

Larry Hart said...

An argument I've been making. A perfect progressive who loses doesn't help anything. A Democrat who has flaws, but wins at the very least displaces an evil Republican, which is in itself a step in the right direction. And it doesn't matter whether a progressive can win by tens of millions of votes on the west coast if he/she can't win by thousands in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, or Florida.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/08/opinion/sanders-democratic-primary.html

...
The thing is, progressive activists are right about public opinion on some of these issues. Most Americans do favor higher taxes on the rich, marijuana legalization and additional gun control. But too many progressives aren’t doing an honest analysis of the politics. They are instead committing what the journalist Matthew Yglesias has called “the pundit fallacy.” They are conflating their own opinions with smart political advice. They are choosing to believe what they want to believe.

They often do so by pointing to polls with favorably worded, intricate questions — and by ignoring evidence to the contrary. Affirmative action, for example, typically loses ballot initiatives. Polls show that most Americans favor some abortion restrictions and oppose the elimination of private health insurance.

By designing campaign strategies for the America they want, rather than the one that exists, progressives have done a favor to their political opponents. They have refused to make tactical retreats, which is why they keep losing.

...

I think Warren may have been the person most damaged by this dynamic in 2020. (And, yes, she was also hurt by sexism.) She could have positioned herself as the candidate who excited much of the left but was more acceptable to the center-left than Sanders. Instead, she mimicked Sanders, making many Democratic voters who were rooting for her worried that, like him, she couldn’t win a general election.

Or look back at the 2018 midterms. In competitive districts, candidates backed by progressive groups like Justice Democrats and Our Revolution were shut out. They lost in either the primaries or the general election. There isn’t a single Sanders-like member of Congress from a purple or red district. There are dozens of moderates.

Remember: The policy positions of Sanders, Warren and other progressives — on Medicare for all, for instance — are often closer to the views of most Democratic voters than the moderate position is. Yet many Democrats spurn the progressive candidate. These voters care more about winning than about perfect policy agreement, and they support the candidate whom they (correctly) see as more in tune with the full electorate.
...


David Brin said...


Trump tweets meme of him fiddling with "what, Me Worry" parallel calling to mind Nero. Oh, who could write this. I have RASR republican friend who actually accuse us of "exaggerating" and suffering from "TDS."
OMG the power of denial.

Putin isn't even trying to hide it, anymore. At this point, he's just bragging.

https://news.google.com/articles/CAIiEEkAf89H4EPwQPWOxF6VkcgqGAgEKg8IACoHCAowjtSUCjC30XQwzqe5AQ?hl=en-US&gl=US&ceid=US%3Aen

--
Again, Locum show he doesn't comprehend positive sum even well enough to disagree with it. I have never seen such a blind-spot hole in consciousness. He truly is a flatlander screaming "I DO know what "up" is! It's really, really far NORTH!"

---
A moderate dem is not just a placeholder to end Trumpist depredations (though that would be reason enough.) Demonstrably, Biden would preside over passing at least half - I think most and tepidly all) of the 31 goals I list elsewhere. And FROM there the nation would be politically ready to negotiate every leftist wish on a basis of comparison of facts. The demographic collapse of confederatism would be a done deal, without the myriad cheats they've relied upon.

SO, what's your complaint again, bros?

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Again, Locum show he doesn't comprehend positive sum even well enough to disagree with it.


He doesn't understand the difference between religion and morality, and seems to believe the two are one and the same. In 1776, he'd be arguing that we can't expect to maintain a society based upon rule of law after rejecting the divine right of kings.

For the record, secularists who don't believe in the supernatural don't expect continued protection from the supernatural.

But furthermore, if the religious view of the divine is actually correct, then that is the case whether we believe it or not. Gravity doesn't only work if you believe in it and accept it as true--why should the protection of God be any different? What loc's rant boils down to is that religious morality only works if enough people act to enforce customs that make it look as if the supernatural is intervening. Which may be a true assertion, but is not one that designates "belief" in any meaningful way. I'd even go so far as to say "the opposite thing."

A.F. Rey said...

Off topic, P.Z. Myers has a chart correlating the top eight Presidential candidates to Game of Thrones characters.

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=8587336&postID=3545827679455057678

One guess as to which one Trump is. ;)

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

A moderate dem is not just a placeholder to end Trumpist depredations (though that would be reason enough.)


Your parenthetical is my point. To day that Biden is no better than Trump because he once supported cutting Social Security or a crime bill is absurd. Even if nothing else, he would displace a Republican. (Dayenu!) The rest is gravy.

jim said...

David said
“Biden would preside over passing at least half … of the 31 goals”

Ba ha ha ha

I thought ALL democrats agreed to ALL 31 consensus goals?

Now you are down to maybe half of the already water down the goals?

Soon you will be telling me – they didn’t have enough time to do any of them, or mean mitch would not let them .

But with Biden in charge, democrats and republicans will be able to expand the military budget and get new “trade” agreements for the oligarchs and massive subsides to corporation just like under Obama. And progressives will get excuses and blame for things not being better.

Larry Hart said...

@A.F. Rey,

Your link just points back to this blog's comments page. Do you have the real link for the Game of Thrones thing?

Larry Hart said...

jim:

But with Biden in charge, democrats and republicans will be able to expand the military budget and get new “trade” agreements for the oligarchs and massive subsides to corporation just like under Obama. And progressives will get excuses and blame for things not being better.


You say that as if it's a bad thing. Sure, we'd like better than that, but we're not going to get anything if Trump and Republicans remain in control. Your pessimistic scenario above looks positively Utopian compared to what we have going on right now.

Anonymous said...

Robert here,

Scidata, if you haven't read it yet you might enjoy Michael Flynn's Country of the Blind — an interesting take on psychohistory. (When published as a serial in Analog there was also a fact article that went with it — can't remember if that's included as an appendix in the novel or not.

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH wrote: "Trump could be making his most ardent supporters a petri dish of disease"

Well, you know, Niven and Pournelle had a phrase for that: "Evolution in action." Made easier when your followers reject the notion of evolution and depend on the divine guidance of their Leader and some invisible sky sock-puppet.

David Brin said...

Loada crap, jim. I said even if it were half, everything would be spectacularly better, even for you lefties! Since the confeds would be shattered and cheating end and money reduced in politics and all children health covered and facts restored... and don't you believe you'd then start winning more victories based on facts?

But in fact, I do believe we can get all 31 (five of them maybe halfway, like medicare for all up to age 25). So don't try to twist my statement deceitfully.

YOU tell us which of those 31 you think Biden opposes. Made-up malarkey.

If you want to see pragmatic progress, agitate for all leftists and moderates to AGREE OPENLY on those 31 goals. So it will be harder to back out.

Zepp Jamieson said...

You guys do realize the Republicans are going to use the coronavirus as an excuse to declare martial law and cancel the elections, right? I see it happening before summer.

jim said...

Larry said
“You say that as if it's a bad thing. Sure, we'd like better than that, but we're not going to get anything if Trump and Republicans remain in control. Your pessimistic scenario above looks positively Utopian compared to what we have going on right now.”

Oh man that is so funny to anyone not suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. Because it is exactly what has been happening sense the Democrats took control of the House.
Expand the military including a new and dangerous space force - check
A new NAFTA – check
Giant subsidies to corporate farmers – check
Progressives get blamed for not wanting another crap sack as the nominee - check

Larry - Trump is giving you the Utopia you want -

David my point about your 31 consensus goals is that I see no evidence that they are consensus goals nor any evidence that they are the official goals that all elected democrats agree to.

Thin Spirit said...

But something happened to Franklin in his late teens that changed all that. Give up debate he did not; rather, he stumbled upon a method of argumentation which enabled him to strengthen his own arguments while casting doubt on those of others. Here are three ways in which he did this:

1. He Studied the Socratic Method
While in his late teens, Ben Franklin began reading an English grammar which introduced him to the elements of the Socratic method of argument. After learning these principles, Franklin read The Memorable Thoughts of Socrates by Xenophon, which gave him practical examples of how Socrates conducted his arguments. By following these examples, Franklin noted that he “grew very artful and expert in drawing people, even of superior knowledge, into concessions, the consequences of which they did not foresee, entangling them in difficulties out of which they could not extricate themselves, and so obtaining victories that neither myself nor my cause always deserved.”

2. He Practiced Humility
Rather than practice a “my way or the highway” attitude while in debate, Franklin instead used a gentle tone which never assumed complete certainty of an idea. By avoiding words such as “certainly” and “undoubtedly,” Franklin avoided coming across as arrogant and thus was able to better win the other side to his way of thinking.

3. He Sought to Learn
According to Franklin, “the chief ends of conversation are to inform or to be informed, to please or to persuade.” By taking the form of an inquiring individual whose desire was to learn rather than force people to accept his viewpoint, Franklin disarmed his listener and enabled his own knowledge and understanding to grow.


https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/ben-franklins-3-tips-people-actually-interested-rational-debate

scidata said...

@Robert
Thanks for the recommendation. Purchased ebook. Babbage is a minor hobby of mine (and Ada Lovelace). Funny how things all dovetail seemingly at once.

I had seen stuff on Quetelet before (anthropometry, body mass index), but this was the first time I've seen an explicit lineage with Hari Seldon. It seems that Asimov took the Picasso/Jobs line to heart: good artists borrow, great artists steal.

We may even judge of the degree of perfection to which a science has arrived by the facility with which it may be submitted to calculation.
- Adolphe Quetelet


Calculemus!

Larry Hart said...

@Zepp Jamieson,

I hope you are kidding. There is no Constitutional provision for cancelling elections. It's not a question of what Trump might want to do or not want to do--there's no way to do that.

Anonymous said...

Robert here again,

Zepp, rather than cancel they could go with absentee/mail ballots. Which apparently remain uncounted in what to an outsider looks like suspiciously large numbers…

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/dec/12/absentee-ballot-fraud-north-carolina-racism

And many more links…

locumranch said...


Roberts and his co-conspirators have in fact painted themselves into a corner (by declaring that there are) matters that courts inherently cannot act upon because that would infringe upon “the prerogatives of another independent branch".

Our host proposes the Maxwell Smart of all 'Judo Chops' by declaring that SCOTUS cannot act in matters that would directly 'infringe upon the prerogatives of another independent branch' (ie. Congress) -- which, in theory, would deny a conservative SCOTUS the same type of political activism that a progressive SCOTUS exploited during the 1960s & 1970s -- then any such declaration would directly infringe upon the prerogatives of SCOTUS as 'another independent branch', leading to a ruling of unconstitutionality. This is a circular argument (in essence).

So none of the tricks that Trump has learned and deployed will work against this virus. Only science, honesty, prudence and genuine concern for public safety will work now. And precisely for those reasons, this virus exposes Trump’s enormous weaknesses as the chief executive officer of this country.

Celebrated by Larry_H, the 'Judo Chop' above is yet another circular logical fallacy which implies FALSELY that some other POTUS -- along with 'science, honesty, prudence and genuine concern for public' -- will work against this virus, the truth being that 'none-of-the-above' will work against this virus at this time.

The reality is that such abstractions -- executive power, science, honesty, prudence and genuine concern for public -- will not effect the spread of this viral contagion one whit, the only feasible & immediate option being a 'Masque of the Red Death' type isolation even though this approach appears to have already failed.

Of course, science will most likely offer some eventual medical treatment strategies -- give or take 12 to 18 months -- but NOT in any immediate 'Abracadabra' way. Even so, it's nonsensical statements like these that make me glad of my retirement from the medical profession, effective February 2, 2020.

What loc's rant boils down to is that religious morality only works if enough people act to enforce customs that make it look as if the supernatural is intervening. Which may be a true assertion, but is not one that designates "belief" in any meaningful way.

Actually, no. What silly progs like Larry_H don't understand is that religious morality legitimises jurisprudence, in the sense that legal precept rests upon certain foundational religious principles of 'shared belief', and that progressive attempts to 'cut away' foundational religious precepts have resulted in an arbitrary rule-of-words (aka 'lawfare') instead of an actual rule-of-law.

To summarise:

If Science is intrinsically moral (as David argues) AND morality is an outdated & irrelevant concept, then the idea of 'science as intrinsically moral' must also be an outdated & irrelevant concept. And the same holds true for the Law. For, without morality, whatever remains must be IMMORAL by definition.

And, around & around it goes.


Best

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

What silly progs like Larry_H don't understand is that religious morality legitimises jurisprudence, in the sense that legal precept rests upon certain foundational religious principles of 'shared belief', and that progressive attempts to 'cut away' foundational religious precepts have resulted in an arbitrary rule-of-words (aka 'lawfare') instead of an actual rule-of-law.


What mystics like locumranch don't understand is that "shared belief" isn't limited to religious belief--belief that gravity works is shared belief too.

Your way prefers forced conformity of belief, regardless of the thing being believed in. If custom was developed around the shared belief that the earth is flat, then you'd insist that any attempt to demonstrate the curvature of the earth invalidates all civil law, and that the authority of that law rests upon the shared belief in flatness, whether or not the earth is really flat. "I reject your truth, Magus!"


To summarise:

If Science is intrinsically moral (as David argues)...


I suspect that he argues something that is more the opposite thing.

Acacia H. said...

So. The stock market has suffered the largest sell-off of the 21st century. And it's all on Trump's shoulders. I'm glad I sold all of my stocks in late December last year as I've been predicting a stock market crash and now I'm laughing all the way to the bank. ;) (Hey, we girls can be just as smart as guys when it comes to investments and sensing patterns.) My one regret is I filled my gas tank on my van a couple days ago... while gas was under $2 a gallon when I got it, now I'm suspecting I could have gotten it even cheaper. Alas! :)

It is going to be fascinating watching Trump's polling numbers as the Corona virus continues to spread through the States. Because he's proven himself absolutely inept and all of the conservatives who voted for him (including my estranged formerly-ostrich and now loyal Trumpist Republican "friend" who has two immune-compromised parents) get to eat mud cake and mumble about how delicious it is.

----------

Dr. Brin, I hate to say this but your constant teasing about your "secret" that if only a high-ranking Democrat were to listen to you... well, it doesn't make you sound very good. To put it bluntly? Tell us or just give up on it and move on. You're not going to get the ear of a senior politician anytime soon without evidence and it doesn't matter if knowledge of your little idea leaves Republicans forewarned if it's still effective.

----------

I've seen more and more yelling by the Bernie Bros and his supporters desperate to turn the tide against Biden winning. I just have one serious question in return.

When Biden wins the nomination as seems increasingly likely, will you fully support Biden in his bid to oust Donald Trump from a Presidency he never should have held?

If not, if you refuse to support Biden, then we know you are in fact a Trump supporter. No ifs. No ands. No buts. You are advocating for Donald Trump's policies.

Acacia H., who has every reason in the world to not want Trump in power for four more years as she's transgender and Trump is actively anti-trans.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Remember my suggestion to call the Donald "Two Scoops?" Well, the Trumpsters may already have owned it. Unless, of course, that is actually satire. But would the Trumpsters actually know it was?

https://www.etsy.com/listing/620400618/donald-trump-2020-two-scoops-two-terms


Those images look mocking, but in a way that Trump supporters probably won't pick up on (or will make their own). The site seems geared to sell both to Trumpians and anti-Trumpians. They'd probably do very well with both groups adding an "I'd rather follow Trump than Jesus!" t-shirt.

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

"Roberts and his co-conspirators have in fact painted themselves into a corner (by declaring that there are) matters that courts inherently cannot act upon because that would infringe upon 'the prerogatives of another independent branch'."

Our host proposes the Maxwell Smart of all 'Judo Chops' by declaring that SCOTUS cannot act in matters that would directly 'infringe upon the prerogatives of another independent branch' (ie. Congress)


You don't even read your own posts. Dr Brin is mentioning what the supreme court itself has said about non-judiciality. He's not saying he's in favor of that interpretation, but that now that the court has set the rules, we can use them.

If you want to make fun of a naive worldview, make fun of the notion that rules meant to constrain Democrats would ever have the same power to constrain Republicans.


Celebrated by Larry_H, the 'Judo Chop' above is yet another circular logical fallacy which implies FALSELY that some other POTUS -- along with 'science, honesty, prudence and genuine concern for public' -- will work against this virus, the truth being that 'none-of-the-above' will work against this virus at this time.


Not at all. No president would have the power to immediately stop the virus in its tracks. But as knowledge of how to best handle the situation progresses, a different present could exercise leadership, informing people of necessary steps or hard choices to be made, and engender some confidence among the population that the information we're receiving is based in fact and that the actions we're asked to take are meant to alleviate the problem. By virtue of his words and actions the past three years, Trump has made such confidence impossible. He's saying and doing what's best for his re-election chances, not what's best for the health and viability of the country.

The pandemic is the kind of situation which requires competent, trustworthy leadership, and instead we've got Trump.

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

Even so, it's nonsensical statements like these that make me glad of my retirement from the medical profession, effective February 2, 2020.


I'm sure the medical profession is just as glad as you are.

Tim Wolter said...

In the last thread David was a bit worked up and asking me about Red Lines, things that would presumably cause me to view the Republican party in the same lurid light that he does. This is a fair question and deserves an answer. But it will have to be multipart and spread out a bit.

I'll start with what I think is the less fair, frankly creepy part. Honestly David, I worry about you when you trot out stuff like this regularly...

"Is there some number of Republicans proved to be abuser-perverts that you'd accept as systematic? Some multiple of the number of democrats? Twenty times? Forty times? SIXTY times as many?'

As Fact Using people lets have a look. It is not an entirely straightforward question. Do you look at politicians all the way down to Dog Catcher? How do you handle the many instances of "Name that Party" where a pol is in the news without clear party ID? How far back do you go? Clearly more was covered up in times past. Arguably some recent dust ups like Franken were for things that would not have been much of a deal back in the Wilbur Mills era! Should you differentiate between abuse of male/female individuals. If so, why?

With that background I commend this site:

https://www.govtrack.us/misconduct

This is a Congressional Misconduct Database. It seems honest. I've looked at all "misconduct" in the past ten years. I've also looked at all misconduct in the category of sexual abuse/harrassment since 1983. Some cases are more heinous than others. We've got allegations of rape of a Peace Corps worker, of possesion of child pornography. In many instances substance abuse is a factor.

A few of the non sex related citations might actually be minor badges of pride. Getting busted for protests and such.

OK, ponder momentarily. What is the partisan split on these two categories........

Total misconduct claims past ten years. D 58 R 51
misconduct including elements of sexual abuse/harrassement since 1983 D 18 R 12

Recent Congresscritters who either resigned or decided not to run again in the face of sexual abuse allegations are about evenly split, 4D 3R. At least the ones we know about are.

Those are the numbers. Spin them as you deem comforting.

T. Wolter

Jon S. said...

"if you refuse to support Biden, then we know you are in fact a Trump supporter. No ifs. No ands. No buts. You are advocating for Donald Trump's policies."

Or, as I like to say so often, I'll support whichever old white guy gets the nomination, because either one would be a vast improvement over the old orange guy we've got now.

(I feel your pain on the policies - my entire family is disabled one way or another, and most days it seems like the Trump administration actively wants us dead.)

TCB said...

@ A. F. Rey and Larry Hart, Here's that Game of Thrones link.

It's not totally accurate... we all know Sanders is really the High Sparrow.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Acacia:
Hear, hear!

@ Everyone:
ISTM that the conditions for rational debate and attempts to persuade exist under at least some of the following (and perhaps many more) conditions:
Both/all parties are
1) willing to consider the possibility that they are wrong, or at the very least, are willing to change their minds. (A way of testing this is to ask them to tell you about an instance when they have changed their mind on a significant topic, through persuasion or updated information).
2) accept certain ground rules for the discussion, debate.
3) approximately equal in perceived/actual power. (If you can compel me to accept your viewpoint with little consequence to yourself, it isn't a fair debate).

IMHO, one of the worst effects of the past 25 or so years (since Gingrich, et al.) has been the loss of these conditions on the national political stage. I hope and will work to help "Our Side" have a victory similar to the Allies over the Nazis in WWII, but I fear it may be more like the Union over the Confederacy following Reconstruction, or possibly the current situation in Afghanistan where the Taliban will likely be part of the national government and have the authority to resume its oppression (in some manner and some places). Our struggle against those to whom "freedom" means "freedom TO discriminate, oppress, and bully" as opposed to "freedom FROM discrimination, oppression, and bullying" may never end.
This may be true:
"Eternal paranoia is the price of liberty: vigilance is not enough."

-Len Deighton.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Robert: That would be sensible, assuming you were dealing with a government that is acting in good faith. That's far from evident.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: There's no legal provision, but the motto of the GOP is "never let a crisis go to waste." Trump could order the elections cancelled and Congress, having abandoned its role in curbing presidential misbehaviour, it would go to the courts, fought over for several months, and then upheld by a suborned Supreme Court.
Republicans are no longer Americans.

Larry Hart said...

jim:

Oh man that is so funny to anyone not suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome.


Yes, I keep forgetting that you actually see an upside to the Trump administration--something which would be worse under some of the possible Democratic nominees. I would literally prefer my cat to be president over Trump, and every one of the possible Democratic candidates including Tulsi Gabbard would be better than my cat.


Because it is exactly what has been happening sense the Democrats took control of the House.
Expand the military including a new and dangerous space force - check
A new NAFTA – check
Giant subsidies to corporate farmers – check


Those are all Trump initiatives. What are you blaming Democrats for? The only thing on your list which they also did was expand the military (but not including Space Force), and no one wins elections by not expanding the military.

So what you're saying is, Biden will expand the military, and so will Trump, whereas Trump will also continue to shred the Constitution, pack the courts, encourage white nationalism, make the world hate us, and skate for any crimes he committed due to the statute of limitations--so there's no difference between electing the two?


Progressives get blamed for not wanting another crap sack as the nominee - check


I'm not presuming that Biden should be your preference. I'm agreeing with whoever it was above who says that if it's a choice between Biden and Trump, and you're ok with Trump winning, then yes, you are a Trump supporter as much as Mike Pence or Stephen Miller. You pride yourself on your progressiveness and yet you're willing to sacrifice any progressive gains in order to snub Joe Biden.

Y'know, I voted for Bernie in the 2016 primaries, but his supporters are making me glad he's losing. His Howard Beale imitation is getting as old as he is.


Larry - Trump is giving you the Utopia you want -


I don't even know what your sarcastic reference is supposed to mean there.

TCB said...

It occurred to me today that labor unions are not heavily discussed on this forum. I'd much like to know what people here think of them.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi TCB
Labour Unions
Here (NZ) and the UK these are very very "democratic" - we vote for our leadership
The "leadership" is distorted by the fact that very very few people want to do those jobs
I spent two years as "Corresponding Member" for my union before I could get somebody else to do the job

The average working man/woman is actually quite "conservative" (small c) -
Getting them to support any form of industrial action is DIFFICULT - they want to work - and they do not like the short term pain

The only reason that we do get industrial action is that our management's main skill is in pissing off the workers

That is what it looks like if you are actually in the companies concerned

However from the outside and reading the newspapers you get an entirely different picture

If those are your sources of information then you see a powerful union dominating business

I was an engineer when the Unions were at their peak before Thatcher managed to gut them

For every hour we lost to the unions we lost a couple of weeks to management incompetence

I have now worked in: The UK, NZ, America, Germany, China

The first three all had incompetent management
The management in Germany was a ton better
Not sure about China - senior management had a bee in it's bonnet about maintenance - they seemed to believe that maintenance was some sort of western boondoggle - that completely clouded the issue of their competence as far as I was concerned

David Brin said...

Acacia, you follow stock market bragging with chiding _me over my subpoena method tease? So… you are SO much more mature? Hey, I’m glad to respect your market acumen! I did somewhat similar in my trades though not all the way, alas.

So how about you respect my approach to enforcing subpoenas… appealing for the community to sift for contacts who might USE my method, while preserving its element of surprise?

Seriously, you don’t get that? Or is you sense of miffed curiosity more important than any possble positive outcome my idea might have?

Well, if you are curious, the method is in Polemical judo.

David Brin said...

Congrats on retirement, Locumranch. Though those who were meant to be doctors tend to find some way to keep their hand in some kind of healing or care, using those skills in a more relaxed way, as long as they can. But good luck and may you find what you seek.

Still…

Locum offered one cogently argued falsehood followed by a set of goddam lies.

“Actually, no. What silly progs like Larry_H don't understand is that religious morality legitimises jurisprudence, in the sense that legal precept rests upon certain foundational religious principles of 'shared belief', and that progressive attempts to 'cut away' foundational religious precepts have resulted in an arbitrary rule-of-words (aka 'lawfare') instead of an actual rule-of-law.”

Yes, shared assumptions of morality underly jurisprudence. The notion that those shared values have to be based on ravings by sunstroked goat herders 3500 years ago, though…

As LH points out, one can base morality on things that work well across most societies independent of specific ravings - like honesty and accountability and fair dealing and alms. And flat-fair-creative competition… as recommended by the sage prophet most betrayed by the right - betrayed even more than they betray that bearded-beaded socialist Nazarene… Adam Smith. All things that conservatives used to stand for, and absolutely reject, today.

And as LH adds: morality that has a track record of consistency with observed fact - instead of railing against facts - has a stronger claim to allegiance. As in the pure fact that traditionalist feudal-theocratic hierarchies ALWAYS RULED BADLY. Execrably badly. Horrifically badly, meriting no further respect, whatsoever.

A morality that supports investment in the widest possible variety of children and youths, removing obstacles (like prejudice and poverty, is not only fair and pragmatic, fostering the most flat-fair-creative competition… but it’s also compatible with what everyone deems the best aspects of traditional religion. e.g. the Sermon on the Mount.

To summarise:

“If Science is intrinsically moral (as David argues) AND morality is an outdated & irrelevant concept, then the idea of 'science as intrinsically moral' must also be an outdated & irrelevant concept. And the same holds true for the Law. For, without morality, whatever remains must be IMMORAL by definition.”

You are either outright lying or else truly clinically delusional. If you love those strawmen so much, why don’t you marry them?

David Brin said...

Congrats on retirement, Locumranch. Though those who were meant to be doctors tend to find some way to keep their hand in some kind of healing or care, using those skills in a more relaxed way, as long as they can. But good luck and may you find what you seek.

Still…

Locum offered one cogently argued falsehood followed by a set of goddam lies.

“Actually, no. What silly progs like Larry_H don't understand is that religious morality legitimises jurisprudence, in the sense that legal precept rests upon certain foundational religious principles of 'shared belief', and that progressive attempts to 'cut away' foundational religious precepts have resulted in an arbitrary rule-of-words (aka 'lawfare') instead of an actual rule-of-law.”

Yes, shared assumptions of morality underly jurisprudence. The notion that those shared values have to be based on ravings by sunstroked goat herders 3500 years ago, though…

As LH points out, one can base morality on things that work well across most societies independent of specific ravings - like honesty and accountability and fair dealing and alms. And flat-fair-creative competition… as recommended by the sage prophet most betrayed by the right - betrayed even more than they betray that bearded-beaded socialist Nazarene… Adam Smith. All things that conservatives used to stand for, and absolutely reject, today.

And as LH adds: morality that has a track record of consistency with observed fact - instead of railing against facts - has a stronger claim to allegiance. As in the pure fact that traditionalist feudal-theocratic hierarchies ALWAYS RULED BADLY. Execrably badly. Horrifically badly, meriting no further respect, whatsoever.

A morality that supports investment in the widest possible variety of children and youths, removing obstacles (like prejudice and poverty, is not only fair and pragmatic, fostering the most flat-fair-creative competition… but it’s also compatible with what everyone deems the best aspects of traditional religion. e.g. the Sermon on the Mount.

To summarise:

“If Science is intrinsically moral (as David argues) AND morality is an outdated & irrelevant concept, then the idea of 'science as intrinsically moral' must also be an outdated & irrelevant concept. And the same holds true for the Law. For, without morality, whatever remains must be IMMORAL by definition.”

You are either outright lying or else truly clinically delusional. If you love those strawmen so much, why don’t you marry them?

David Brin said...

Mark Anderson in his Strategic News Service offers some insights. I’ll pluck a few here. But he emphasizes we have far more questions than answers.

- Clearly China botched the outbreak by trying to squelch embarrassing information. The US administration’s botches span three years of CDC cuts, forced retirements, cancellation of detection systems, political interference and denial.

- One aspect that scares me: “Amid rumors of reinfection, for example, the CDC has offered its opinion that reinfection is unlikely. But it is clear that some patients one of whose tests twice showed the patient to be virus-free later tested positive and needed to be again hospitalized. There is no explanation for this to date.”

- The incubation period appears to be in the five- to eight-day range, but as a sign of how little we (or the CDC) know, its website uses SARS figures, almost certainly different.

- The virus can exist on flat surfaces for wildly varying times measured thus far: a few hours on stainless steel, longer on surfaces such as plastic or cardboard. One German study has it at almost 24 days.
DB: silver lining? The technology of rapid development of test kits… and a more-rapid if still glacial approach to vaccine development… should get a real boost out of this episode, if we look back on it as just an “episode.”
- Incompetence in both China and the US led to absurdly small numbers (Trump said “we’ll be down to five cases within days.”) Which sapped urgency and rewarded wishful thinking.
- We don’t yet need massive surge capacity in US medical systems, but Italy is showing us that having such capacity is likely to be existentially important, someday. (Have YOU taken CERT training or done anything to become capable of acting for your community, in some way? Think about it.)

Alfred Differ said...

locumranch,

There's a fascinating circularity of thought at work here linking morality & divinity. I could go on about chickens, eggs, and which came first, but the link is just too stupid to be worth it. Besides, I like what others have said better. Sunstroked goat herders. Heh. Starved and lonely too. (No yodeling allowed)

What a GREAT model to use as the foundation of a planetary scale civilization's ethics.


Larry,

secularists who don't believe in the supernatural don't expect continued protection from the supernatural

Yah. It's kinda weird how believers expect us to respond as if something is missing in our hearts. I know many of them are taught that about us, but they can't see us for what we are. Just as adjusted to living our lives as one would expect of them. (We need our own letter to add to the LGBTQ etc list.)

They are taught to have a blindspot I suspect.
Us vs Them necessity.

Alfred Differ said...

TCB, (regarding labor unions)

Okay. You asked nicely. 8)

The primary reason I don't talk about them here is I don't want to fight with you all about them. They aren't relevant to most discussions here, so bringing them in would be me itching for a fight.

1) They have two basic functions as far as I'm concerned. One is to enable aggregation of negotiating power with respect to labor prices. The second is to arrange training programs to increase their store of human capital.

2) They have two distinct drawbacks in a democracy. One is that their members are also voters who can sway market rules just as dangerously as rich business owners can. The second is that their members can (and do) punch down in the socio-economic status sense barring some others from entry and doing actual physical harm. When these are combined, they can produce forces hostile to our civilization.

I've been on the receiving end of a punch-down that union members did not see as such. They had a closed shop contract with the employer I approached. It was made clear to me that I could not work there at the price I offered. They were required to pay me according to my recently acquired (at the time) PhD, but could not afford to do so. I wasn't asking for any less than the others were making with their MS degrees, but management was bound. So… for that reason (and a few others that are probably just as important to me), I left academia for a while. I never went back. I'm damn good at what I do and I trained a damn long time to do it, but the reality wasn't close to the dream I envisioned. Union life was part of that dissonance.

I've never felt a need for help with negotiating a wage or in acquiring useful training for the work I do, so I tend to see the downside risks as outweighing the upside. I rarely mention it, though, because I understand not everyone is like me. It's not enough for me to shout at the world and say "You can do it!". I DO believe you can, but you've got to be willing to walk away from what you think you need because it's probably just 'what you want.'

Acacia H. said...

To tell the truth, Dr. Brin, unless I developed a precognitive gift then my issue is that you basically repeated yourself in urging people to somehow contact the higher ups in the Democratic Party to contact you on your idea. Now, if I am wrong and you didn't repeat yourself, then I apologize and I sometimes have an odd sense of deja vu over stuff that was a first time post or the like. But I honestly believe you mentioned it previously and are just repeating yourself... and that's where it feels a tad churlish.

My own comments on stock prices and the crash was just an amused commentary. I'd mentioned previously on several occasions my belief the stock market was heading toward a big crash. And the kicker is, I actually got back into the stock market when a friend strongly suggested a couple medical stocks including ATP, and I gave my friend several hundred dollars to invest in it and he made decent money on that stock. (Another friend bought in after it was going up more, and is now holding until the value goes above what he paid so he's not suffering a loss.)

The way my friend sees it, companies that specialize in medical equipment and supplies used to protect people from viruses and the like are going to continue to see growth even as the stock market goes through its crashes while Trump fiddles. My hope is that smaller investors don't panic and lose everything as if they hold, they will likely see their stocks regain value in another year or two, especially if the Cheeto in Chief loses the 2020 Presidential election.

Acacia

Anonymous said...

Robert here,

TCB: It occurred to me today that labor unions are not heavily discussed on this forum. I'd much like to know what people here think of them.

Strong supporter. I've worked both union and non-union. In my experience…

In non-union workplaces each worker is isolated against a unified management, which is perfectly free to lie because it controls all the information. Recompense is frequently based on negotiating ability not productivity. Corporate violations (of safety or labour laws) must be dealt with by the individual (who is vulnerable to pressure/threats).

In a union workplace there is more fairness. Workers have a professional negotiator to go against management's professional negotiator. Health and safety violations tend to be dealt with faster (as the union is the one filing the case rather than an individual, they are less vulnerable to pressure).

In my current union the leadership is elected at every level. A big problem is that not many members are interested in doing union work — they like the benefits of a union workplace, but view their dues as paying for a service rather than covering the expenses of their organization. And they don't realize that the working conditions they take for granted were fought for by the union.

Last week I was on strike* picketing downtown. I saw the historical plaque for the Printers' Strike, when workers went on an illegal strike for a nine-hour workday. People don't realize that management didn't reduce working hours to 40/week with a 2-day weekend out of the goodness of their hearts — organized labour fought those limits, as well as a whole slew of other working and safety regulations.


*Not about wages, although that's what the government and right-wing media is claiming. Personally I'm striking because I believe that the changes the government wants to make to the public education system will ruin it, and I want my grandkids to enjoy the same benefits I had growing up. I'm losing money I'll never earn back, but their education is worth far more than money.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Trump could order the elections cancelled and Congress, having abandoned its role in curbing presidential misbehaviour, it would go to the courts, fought over for several months, and then upheld by a suborned Supreme Court.


There's an episode of "West Wing" in which President Bartlett's daughter has been kidnapped, and the administration is concerned about his ability to function under that sort of duress. One character suggests that (chief of staff) Leo should order the treasury department to do some sort of thing, and one of the characters emphatically insists, "The President must order the treasury department! There is no provision--none--for presidential recusal."

Likewise, there is no provision for cancelling or even rescheduling a congressional/presidential election.

You are correct that Trump could announce such a thing, and that Republican politicians and voters would go along. Maybe the "tough people" would even riot in the streets. But there is nothing he could do to insist that California, Illinois, or New York State (for example) recognize his authority after January 20, 2021. He would become de jure the illegitimate president that he already is de facto.



Republicans are no longer Americans.v

Anonymous said...

Robert here again,

Zepp (and others), you would probably find Deborah Blum's book The Poison Squad interesting. It's a history of the establishment of the FDA. Oddly, manufacturers didn't see the need for food safety regulations, as personal consumer choice would act to keep food as safe as needed. :-/

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/312067/the-poison-squad-by-deborah-blum/

La plus ca change…

Larry Hart said...

@TCB re: Game of Thrones link...

https://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2020/03/07/too-accurate/

It's cute, but not especially spot on. Bloomburg isn't evil or vengeful enough to be Cersei, and there's no way she would have dropped out of the race.

Tulsi Gabbard as Melisandra is interesting, though.

I'm surprised they didn't included Peter Beylish (sp?) in the list. Or Varys. Seems to me that someone should be them in real life.

Trump as Joffrey (sp?) is good, but I wonder if he's more Ramsey Bolton. Or the guy who killed his brother to take over the Iron Islands. Which then might make Mitt Romney into Theon Greyjoy.

Smurphs said...

Dear Tim W:

I, too, cringe when the good Doctor trots out his "Republicans proved to be abuser-perverts" argument. Thanks for the stats.

However, I think you are intentionally cherry-picking when you limit your list to the Legislative Branch. Here are some related stats for the Executive Branch:

CONVICTIONS OF EXECUTIVE BRANCH PERSONNEL:

Trump 8 so far, we still have 1/5 years to go
Obama 0
Bush II 16
Clinton 1
Bush I 1
Reagan 16
Carter 0
Ford 1
(I'll skip Nixon, just to be nice)

GOP 42 Democrat 1


Now, this is not the Doctor's pervert list, it is merely a list of criminal malfeasance while in office. So, I guess you made your point. Perverts are everywhere.

Criminals however, ...

I look forward to your post about actual red lines you will not cross. Last March we asked you about this, and your answer was (to paraphrase), "Ha, just wait until the IG report comes out about FBI actions in favor of the Democrats" How did that work out for you?



A.F. Rey said...

A. F. Rey and Larry Hart, Here's that Game of Thrones link.

Thanks, TCB.

*grumble* *grumble* stupid Mondays...

Larry Hart said...

A.F. Rey / TCB:

Game of Thrones link...


Some of the comments underneath are actually a bit more entertaining than the GoT analogies. This one, while provocative, echoes what I've been feeling lately:

*This is the first and hopefully the last time I use that term ["Bernie Bros"], so please BE LESS STUPID. I support Sanders, but you lot make that damn embarrassing.

David Smelser said...

On Unions,

I'm the IT manager for non-union general contractor located in north San Diego county. We do commercial construction, self performing carpenter and cement trades and subcontract out other trades. We do work that requires compliance with prevailing wage regulations. During the '08 recession this was the majority of our work, but now it is a significant minority of the work.

Our laborers genuine enjoy the higher pay of prevailing wage jobs, and there some grumbling over the addition work to maintain compliance (but management grumbles about all regulation). It slightly complicates time card record keeping (we need to keep track of task in addition to hours) and we've had to hire a one full time staff person to keep track of compliance (both our compliance and the compliance of every sub contractor on the job).

From what I can tell, we can be equally profitable doing prevailing wage and non-prevailing wage work, so I don't get what management complaint is.


Tim Wolter said...

Smurphs

Thank you for the response. I admit it is disheartening to put effort into making a point and having it be ignored. I used to think that it might be because I had made it with such incontrovertable, pristine clarity that nothing more could be said. But...I'll go out on a limb and assume that our Esteemed Host will continue to trot out his unsavory, and it appears inaccurate, characterization of Republicans as Perverts.

To take up the broader point.

Our political system is not perfect. But I think it is about the best one out there right now and as a conservative I respect the institutions that comprise it. I anticipate flawed humans making mistakes, the sort of mistakes we correct with....elections. So just thinking while typing here's a few Red Lines that that we can't allow flawed humans to cross.

- dissolving legislatures. Sure, Cromwell did it. I think there were some suspended during our Civil War. But this is taking the inevitable tension between Exec and Leg branches and just putting down a mailed fist. So...no.

-obviously, cancelling elections.

- Ignoring Federal Law once the Supreme Court has definitively ruled. This is tougher because law has many nuances. And some laws such as the Fugitive Slave Act proved to be wrong. So lets call this one not a Red Line but a flashing red warning light. California can't start running its own foreign policy.

- Prosecuting former leaders and current candidates. This is another tough one....politicians as a class are hardly paragons. It rankles when they get a free pass for doing things that we'd be jailed for. But I feel as if putting Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump on trial (excluding impeachment natch, that's very System) would do more damage to our body politic than it would be worth. I suspect others will feel differently.

I want the system to work as designed. Elect officials. They make laws. Executives sign them or veto them. Legistatures go back to the drawing board or over ride. The courts rule on cases under their jurisdiction. Repeat.

I don't approve of end runs. Dear Colleague Letters that tell universities how they should behave...with the implicit threat of losing federal funding. FBI officials having "insurance policies" against an incoming adminstration. Climate change agreements that would impact every aspect of our lives but are not submitted for congressional vote.

Many of these will be unpopular ideas on this forum but I feel strongly that they are mainstream concepts in the electorate as a whole.

Putting on my asbestos body suit and hitting send.

T. Wolter
------
As an addendum I would say that sometimes the electorate weighs in with surprises. Larry H seemed in the previous thread to regard the election of Scott Brown specifically to scupper Obamacare as an anomaly. No, it was saying something. Something that was ignored. The election of Donald Trump is also saying something. To blow it off as Putin tricks or rigged voting machines or crypto fascist/racists slithering out of their compounds and lairs is again ignoring things that should be studied rather than denied.

David Brin said...

“But I honestly believe you mentioned it previously and are just repeating yourself... and that's where it feels a tad churlish.”

Um… on MY blog? I’m not allowed to repeat something that I earnestly (if perhaps egotistically) believe could be vital to support an existential struggle for civilization? Um. How odd.

The stock mutual fund I retained the largest vestment in is “biomedical.” Less specific than yours, but I expect it not to lose much.

The discussion of unions ought to step back and see the third factor, beyond group negotiation and guild protection… the power of pension funds.

I find it bizarre that I seem to be the only one who recalls what every economist was hand-wringing about, back in the 70s… the apparent inevitability that pension funds - because they were required to grow - would someday “own the means of production”… Marx’s proletarian dream, occurring without any of his methods or teleological struggle. I couldn’t understand why pundits and economists were all in a fuss over that logically inevitable outcome.

Worse yet, the Labor Unions themselves fretted! Perhaps because it would cloud their simpler, adversarial relationships with Owners. Indeed, I suspect that many labor leaders collaborated in avoiding that outcome.

Almost unseen, among other aspects of the Reagan Revolution, were deliberate moves to undercut required contributions to pension funds. Most saw this as miserly penny pinching by governments and managements. But I suspect it as having been much more urgently propelled by a “need” to preserve company-ownership as a privilege of a caste completely separate from labor.

I do know that many rules were tweaked to keep the number of employee owned firms down to the level of flukes, exceptions and ‘experiments.”

David Brin said...

“I admit it is disheartening to put effort into making a point and having it be ignored. I used to think that it might be because I had made it with such incontrovertable, pristine clarity that nothing more could be said. But...I'll go out on a limb and assume that our Esteemed Host will continue to trot out his unsavory, and it appears inaccurate, characterization of Republicans as Perverts.”

Tim, please close your eyes and envision, voluptuously, how offensively dishonest you envision my “lurid” verbal exaggerations and political unfairness. Now multiply that by ten and add scatology. THAT’s my response to that insipid nonsense you just spewed.

You imply I call all Republicans perverts. You know you are lying. I have oft said that on crude-average, a Republican may make a better neighbor. I have many and that seems borne out. But it has become a cult of DENIAL. And it extends beyond abetting an all-out war on science that might kill us all… or pollution-friendliness that may kill our children.

It is perfectly legit to also list moral hypocrisy, with all red states but Utah scoring worse on almost every turpitude… and mass republican refusal to ever admit that Dennis Hastert existed and was meaningful is truly pathological.

While democrats scurry to identify themselves with past democrats and proudly tout their achievements, only Reagan is ever mentioned by Republicans and then only in misty abstract, knowing he’d be appalled by the current madness.

Can you name any other past republican who is mentioned proudly by the party? Either Bush? Cheney? Any accomplishments? Proud policies? And given the GOP’s TOTAL abandonment of any track record, we should trust them with power?

You refuse to answer any questions about red lines, knowing full well you’d be with us, now, if you had put down such lines in 2017.

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

Larry H seemed in the previous thread to regard the election of Scott Brown specifically to scupper Obamacare as an anomaly. No, it was saying something. Something that was ignored.


I don't think we're really disagreeing here. My point was specifically that Democratic voters excoriate our politicians for not getting enough (progressive) things done when in power, but as a whole, we're the ones who don't support those politicians enough to allow them to accomplish such goals. Mainstream Dem pols compromise with the center-right because we can't stay in office without their support, or at least without their active opposition.


The election of Donald Trump is also saying something. To blow it off as Putin tricks or rigged voting machines or crypto fascist/racists slithering out of their compounds and lairs is again ignoring things that should be studied rather than denied.


I think your point is that there is a frustrated citizenry who doesn't feel invested in the status quo enough to care whether it all goes away, and to that extent I agree. However, I'll also turn it around and say it is just as much a mistake to ignore or discount the reality that Trump's election had something to do with a reactionary desire of a particular subgroup of Americans to hold onto their unearned privilege over the rest of us. Both things can be true.

David Smelser said...

@Tim Wolter

On dissolving legislatures, must this be a literal dissolving or does failing to comply with subpoenas, failing to hold confirmation hearing on democratic presidential appointments, and failing to vote of legislation that has passed the house (https://www.newsweek.com/mitch-mcconnell-grim-reaper-395-house-bills-senate-wont-pass-1487401) sufficient?

On prosecuting former leaders and current candidates, must this be literal prosecutions or calls on foreign governments to announce investigations, chants of "lock her up" at re-election rallies, and holding announcements of the intent to hold hearings into current candidates sufficient?

You say that you don't like end runs. Would ends runs that get around your red lines count as cross those red lines?

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

Our political system is not perfect. But I think it is about the best one out there right now and as a conservative I respect the institutions that comprise it.


As a liberal, I don't find much to argue against there.


I anticipate flawed humans making mistakes, the sort of mistakes we correct with....elections.


So it goes without saying that a red line to illegitimacy is that the incumbent power can't be allowed to interfere with the election process. Gerrymandering and voter suppression are egregious precisely because they can't be remedied by voting against them. Likewise, the cancelling of elections, which you already agreed with.

I want to agree in principle with many of your later points, but I have to say I sense that you are against these things when Democrats do them, but don't notice so much when Republicans do. I don't mean to level an accusation as much as to plead, "Check your biases."


- Ignoring Federal Law once the Supreme Court has definitively ruled. This is tougher because law has many nuances. And some laws such as the Fugitive Slave Act proved to be wrong. So lets call this one not a Red Line but a flashing red warning light. California can't start running its own foreign policy.


Would you then also say "Arizona can't start running its own immigration policy"?


- Prosecuting former leaders and current candidates. This is another tough one....politicians as a class are hardly paragons. It rankles when they get a free pass for doing things that we'd be jailed for. But I feel as if putting Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump on trial (excluding impeachment natch, that's very System) would do more damage to our body politic than it would be worth. I suspect others will feel differently.


This is a tough one for me. In practice, I agree that going down the road of criminally prosecuting political opponents can't end well, so letting crooked politicians walk after they're out of office might be the price we pay for civil society.

It does seem to me that this attitude lets Republicans off the hook, because the threat against Democrats like Hillary seem (to me) to be mostly trumped up charges. So what we're saying is that to protect Democrats from partisan persecution, we have to agree to protect Republicans from paying for actual crimes. (I realize you see things differently)


I want the system to work as designed. Elect officials. They make laws. Executives sign them or veto them. Legistatures go back to the drawing board or over ride. The courts rule on cases under their jurisdiction. Repeat.


Then as above, filibustering everything or sitting on cabinet and judicial nominations for years is cheating. Even when Republicans do it.


I don't approve of end runs. Dear Colleague Letters that tell universities how they should behave...with the implicit threat of losing federal funding. FBI officials having "insurance policies" against an incoming adminstration. Climate change agreements that would impact every aspect of our lives but are not submitted for congressional vote.


Pulling out of climate change agreements or nuclear agreements also affects our lives. Likewise retroactively declaring Obamacare to be unconstitutional. Throwing obstacles in the way of legal abortion and legal immigration. Those too, right?

Smurphs said...

Dr. Brin said:
"Almost unseen, among other aspects of the Reagan Revolution, were deliberate moves to undercut required contributions to pension funds. Most saw this as miserly penny pinching by governments and managements. But I suspect it as having been much more urgently propelled by a “need” to preserve company-ownership as a privilege of a caste completely separate from labor."

Not disagreeing Doc, but think of this as 3A.: "Almost unseen, among other aspects of the Reagan Revolution, were deliberate moves to undercut required contributions to pension funds."

Clearly seen at the time, but unstoppable, the legal theft of pension funds, forced to rollover into defined-contribution (a.k.a. 401K's) at pennies on the dollar. Millions, yes, millions of people lost most of what they were promised as pensions, the balance stolen by the CEO's and Board members.

Smurphs said...

Doc, you are too hard on poor Tim. It's not that he is defending the Republicans, he is defending the conservatives.

Unfortunately, he seems Locum-level blind to the fact that there are no conservatives in power right now. They are reactionary fascists, who call themselves conservatives. He thinks he can disapprove

Tim, I mean this literally. Look up the textbook definition of Reactionary and Fascist. How are the current so-called "conservatives" different?

Tim Wolter said...

Um..to the community that posts/reads here on a regular basis. Do you think Dr. Brin is responding fairly to my comments?

We disagree on matters political but I strive for a reasonable discourse.

It's a steep hill to climb.

T. Wolter

Smurphs said...

Oh, and Tim, I realize I am being rude by injecting myself into your discussion with our host, but really? You provided him with well researched facts about R vs D perverts, and then closed with:

"Those are the numbers. Spin them as you deem comforting.

I provided you with well researched facts about criminal behavior, 42 to 1, and you responded with:

" I anticipate flawed humans making mistakes"

Really? 42 to 1 and you respond with some weak-ass, both sides do it argument.

Fuck you.

Spin that as you deem comfortable.

David Brin said...

Tim, I am sorry if you feel hurt. I felt that the paragraph of yours that I quoted was deeply insulting, as is your ongoing protestation of persecution by me.

All right, I can get gruff and cranky. We need thick skins here. Look how I put up with strawmanning vile caricatures from Locum. And it took truly relentless fecal hosings from tat P-bot guy to get him banned.

What I never see is any acknowledgment of your own slipperiness. You always go to the "meta" of how I exaggerated this, or was aggressive or impolite (by your standards) there. You do not address the core issue, that we assert here we have desperate and imminent reasons to be worried and to need your help against a truly "lurid" existential threat to all that we -- and you -- hold dear.

Red lines. Please. What if money-laundering gets a smoking gun? Much closer Putin ties? Collapse of the Ross Ice Shelf?

Smurphs said...

Sorry, bad edit in one of my previous posts to Tim:

" He thinks he can disapprove"

should have read:

He thinks he can disapprove of them and still stay just a little bit pregnant.


Tim Wolter said...

Hey Smurphs! Your languege was uncalled for and a bit unoriginal. I actually took a look at your numbers and started doing a bit more research based on them. I reached my limits on available time and on how much dealing with politicians I could manage in one day. Please, continue my work. Start here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_American_state_and_local_politicians_convicted_of_crimes

This takes a wider view and includes polticians elected to both legislative and executive branches in all 50 states. Run the numbers if they interest you. Why, there's even a Green Party member in there!

I'll admit that my final line was flippant. Apologies. It was meant specifically to address the matter of Republican politicians being guilty of sexual offenses at some higher multiple of their Dem counterparts.

David I was not so much hurt as disappointed. I respect the principles of progressive politics. They are a necessary element of American life. I don't think you are being an effective advocate for them.

I did give a series of Red Lines and Red Warning lights. LarryH has responded thoughtfully.

I don't mind taking a bit of heat from time to time. If I have a role here it is to point out the perspective of an independent voter in a critical swing state. It is I think one that would be worth considering.

Anyway, I had no intention to offend, but there are limitations to electronic communications. When ya gonna be in the midwest for a beer?

T.Wolter

Deuxglass said...

I would like to change the subject to more pressing matters. I live in France and the virulent virus from Italy has hit us rather suddenly today. The hospitals at least in my area in the Paris region are now overwhelmed. This is not rumor, it has been announced. Furthermore on nation mainstream TV there are discussions of what is known in medical terms as "triage" which means that in an extreme situation with limited resources doctors have to decide who will get those resources and who will be denied them. Those who have the best chance of survival will be treated. Those who have less chance will be left to die. This is a virus that attacks the respiratory system and when it does the victim often has to resort to artificial respiration since their lungs have been destroyed. Unfortunately there is a limited number of these machines as well as a limited number of nurses trained to use them. Hence some hard choices have to be made. In Italy and in France now the criteria is age. The one who has the lower age gets the respirator. Those above do not. You would think that we are talking about people above 80 years old or so. That is not the case. If you are 60 and a 45 year old needs it, the younger will get it and since there is a lot of younger ones getting the virus that leaves us older ones basically on our own unless you have a wing of the hospital named after you.

I am not complaining. I prefer that the young survive but it does underline the fact that us boomers have to take care of ourselves now because resources have to go to those who will carry on after we are gone. My wife of 42 years has a serious medical condition. Today we talked to her doctor at the hospital and she said above all don't come to the hospital. She described it as chaos. A wave of sick has come in and the doctors and nurses don't have enough equipment to protect themselves let alone the patients. If you are a certain age, stay home and hope you don't get it because this time truly you are on your own.

TCB said...

@ Larry Hart, who said: This is a tough one for me. In practice, I agree that going down the road of criminally prosecuting political opponents can't end well, so letting crooked politicians walk after they're out of office might be the price we pay for civil society. It does seem to me that this attitude lets Republicans off the hook, because the threat against Democrats like Hillary seem (to me) to be mostly trumped up charges. So what we're saying is that to protect Democrats from partisan persecution, we have to agree to protect Republicans from paying for actual crimes.

I would like to reply to you, with the following one hundred words.

Don Siegelman went to federal prison for the crime of making a political enemy of Karl Rove, and a Democratic president failed to pardon him. Don Siegelman went to federal prison for the crime of making a political enemy of Karl Rove, and a Democratic president failed to pardon him. Don Siegelman went to federal prison for the crime of making a political enemy of Karl Rove, and a Democratic president failed to pardon him. Don Siegelman went to federal prison for the crime of making a political enemy of Karl Rove, and a Democratic president failed to pardon him.

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

Do you think Dr. Brin is responding fairly to my comments?


I don't want to pick a fight with the host on his own blog, but I will say that I'm not clear why he says you didn't address red lines when you did self-evidently address red lines.

Larry Hart said...

@Deuxglass,

Holy s***! Don't know what else to say. This is going to be a life-changer for us first-worlders.

Smurphs said...

Duexglass.

If it gets that bad in the United States, and there is no reason to think it won't, I and many of the posters here, are screwed.

Good Luck to you, and your wife, and the many wonderful people I have met there over the years.

TCB said...

Do you think Dr. Brin is responding fairly to my comments?

Hahahah Dr. Brin doesn't has to respond to nobody no how. His house, his rules.

Smurphs said...

Tim, my language may have been intemperate, but I decided to let it stand.

"those are the numbers. Spin them as you deem comforting." may have been flippant, but "I anticipate flawed humans making mistakes" is hand-wavium of the worst sort. It's the worst sort, because you're a smart man, and you know it's BS.

I don't have lots of extra time to weed through 50 states worth of statistic either, but I may wade thru Pennsylvania's if I get the chance.

Still, 42 to 1? In the highest, most powerful Executive offices in the land? You're gonna have to dig through a whole bunch of weeds to try to balance that out.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Tim W: re:
"Our political system is not perfect. But I think it is about the best one out there right now..."

By which criteria are our political system "about the best one out there right now"?

-Keith

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

If I have a role here it is to point out the perspective of an independent voter in a critical swing state. It is I think one that would be worth considering.


It certainly is worth considering, and at the same time, discouraging. Because what you seem to be pointing out is, "We independent-minded voters of Wisconsin, while uncomfortable with Trump's excesses, really do prefer his excesses to those of a Hillary Clinton or a Bernie Sanders."

I used to think better of my fellow Americans and especially my fellow midwesterners. The 2016 election brought me to despair, not because Trump won, but because so many of my fellow Americans seemed to like what they saw. In that sense, you're demonstrating my despair to be the correct reaction. "We were never the America I thought we were. Apparently, we've always been the America Treebeard thinks we are."

duncan cairncross said...

"Our political system is not perfect. But I think it is about the best one out there right now and as a conservative I respect the institutions that comprise it."

I'm sorry but the US Political System is a long ,long way from the "best"

Unless you mean "The Finest Democracy that Money can Buy"

In which case I would agree with you

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/perspectives-on-politics/article/testing-theories-of-american-politics-elites-interest-groups-and-average-citizens/62327F513959D0A304D4893B382B992B

"Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence."

This analysis was done in 2014 - and most of the actual data used was from BEFORE "Citizens United" opened the floodgates of dark money

Most advanced democracies have better "political systems" than the USA and as long as you sit there and think that "we are the best" you cannot move forwards

Acacia H. said...

True, TCB. But we don't have to stay and read. And without people reading him, he has no influence and his words are empty and aimless. Thus treating people with respect is called for, and something Dr. Brin does more often than not. Sometimes he gets the bit in his teeth and starts dismissing people's views (and there are some people who he honestly gives more credence to than they deserve) but usually Contrary Brin is a healthy site where people can safely debate and discuss their opinions even if they are contrary to his own.

That said, there are times when he's far quicker to dismiss Tacitus. Usually it's after he's had Locu raving about nonsense and lies for three or four posts.

Acacia H.

Larry Hart said...

I happen to be re-reading Kurt Vonnegut's novel Bluebeard and found this passage instructive about what revolutionary progressives might be missing. The speaker is the fictitious abstract painter character, Rabo Karabekian:


Paul Slazinger...is working on his first volume of nonfiction, to which he has given this title: The Only Way to Have a Successful Revolution in Any Field of Human Activity.

For what it is worth: Slazinger claims to have learned from history that most people cannot open their minds to new ideas unless a mind-opening team with a peculiar membership goes to work on them. Otherwise, life will go on exactly as before, no matter how painful, unrealistic, unjust, ludicrous, or downright dumb that life may be.

The team must consist of three sorts of specialists, he says. Otherwise, the revolution, whether in politics or the arts or the sciences or whatever, is sure to fail.

The rarest of these specialists, he says, is an authentic genius--a person capable of having seemingly good ideas not in general circulation. "A genius working alone," he says, "is invariably ignored as a lunatic."

The second sort of specialist is a lot easier to find: a highly intelligent citizen in good standing in his or her community, who understands and admires the fresh ideas of the genius, and who testifies that the genius is far from mad. "A person like that working alone," says Slazinger, can only yearn out loud for changes, but fail to say what their shapes should be."

The third sort of specialist is a person who can explain anything, no matter how complicated, to the satisfaction of most people, no matter how stupid or pig-headed they may be. "He will say almost anything in order to be interesting and exciting," says Slazinger. "Working alone, depending on his own shallow ideas, he would be regarded as being as full of shit as a Christmas turkey."

Slazinger, high as a kite, says that every successful revolution, including Abstract Expressionism, the one I took part in, had that cast of characters at the top--Pollack being the genius in our case, Lenin being the one in Russia's, Christ being the one Christianity's. He says that if you can't get a cast like that together, you can forget changing anything in a great big way.


[Me again: ] Progressive Democrats desperately need to get a cast like that together. Otherwise, the best we can do (which is still good, but not revolutionary) is to displace Republicans.

David Brin said...

Tim none of our tiffs have ever risen above exasperated sighs of fellows who like each other, tons. And we'll get those beers!

Alas: "I respect the principles of progressive politics. They are a necessary element of American life. I don't think you are being an effective advocate for them." This shows an utter misunderstanding of my aims. While I believe Democrats are currently vastly closer to being sane and right and patriotic than a US right that's gone mafia-confederate-insane, that does not stop me being an acolyte of Adam Smith, as you well know.

Indeed, I offer wagers I can show that EVERY desideratum of sane, smithian enterprise advocacy has been far better engendered by Democrats than any Republican in the last 70 years. Take the bet, man.

---
Deuxglass, we hope you and your wife will remain safe and hale and hearty. By coincidence, France24 TV interviewed me today in our home about sci fi inspiring tech.

---
TCB it takes a long time for liberals to admit that negotiation and reason have to be abandoned in favor of war. Obama could never, ever bring himself to admit it, and the Foxites under Rove and then Putin took advantage of that naivete. No more.

---
Smurphs 42-to-1 underrates the difference immensely. Countless turpitudinous Republicans got away with just slinking off rather than facing prosecution. Moreover, now multiply in the number of hours and millions$ spent by Republican committees in utterly futile searches for some way to balance that figure by nailing a clintonite... with utter failure.

Tim... all of that should mean something to you!

It is not our 'political system' that has kept us going, amid the confederate putsch... it is the civil service, including the FBi and intel folks and officer corps, who have managed to cauterize, isolate and neutralize a myriad attempts to sell us out to mafias and moscow. Bets?

But jim and TCB are almost as delusional as you are. Bloomberg and Steyer FAILED to sway dem voters with cash! Nearly all of the 2016 flaws you guys bitched about were FIXED this round, which you churlishly ignore. As you ignore the pure fact that a sweeping dem victory in November WILL result in staunching corruption cash into politics, end gerrymandering a dozens of other cheats, so that even if you don't get all you want, you'll have a better chance to persuade us in 2022.

None of that matters to you guys, nor my 31 shared goals or other challenges. Because sanctimony is a drug.
---

David Brin said...

KH I had never read that Vonnegut. Thanks for the excellent summary. SHall I volunteer for role #1 or #3? ;-)

Tim Wolter said...

All. I appreciate the community here. It gets a heated at times but usually does not approach incivility. I certainly do not want people to "pick sides" but reminding bickering parties to read carefully and write carefully is but fair.

I have further thoughts on where our political system is heading but think it best to allow things to cool a while.

For my part I consider a few of you (LarryH!) to be friends in that peculiar internet sort of way. David...well, we are probably one "in person" beer away from that status. Make it as far as Minneapolis some day and I promise you an evening of conversation you will not soon forget. Did you know that I am in all probability the only person in recorded history to have worked in the course of a single year as: an Emergency Room doctor, an archaeologist, a robotics instructor and a Carny. Damn that was a good year.

For Deuxglass and our other EU members, much concerned thought. For God's sake stay home. I'm not taking an excess of precautions because we have only had 2 cases in WI so far. But I've looked at my pantry and decided I need to supplement a few essentials (beer mostly) in case we need to consider quarantine. My scheduled flight to Amsterdam in six weeks is looking "iffy".

And for all of you. Take a few minutes to ponder what is really important in life. Your family, your friends, the legacy you leave behind, whatever. It is all of greater gravity than the things we squabble about.

T. Wolter

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

I had considered suggesting that you might be the genius role, and that (with all due modesty) I might be qualified for the "explain to anyone" role. But we are desperately in need of a #2.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

I had never read that Vonnegut. Thanks for the excellent summary.


It's more of an excerpt than a summary of the novel, but as I was reading that part just a few hours ago, it resonated with me as describing exactly why revolutionary progressivism fails to get traction, thereby requiring Democrats to do no more than tone down the viciousness of Republicans.

David Brin said...

Amen to much of what you said, Tim. And I STILL have never met a Minnesotan I didn’t like. Wisconsinites are another matter… ;-)

Still, sorry man, but I have extra reasons to rank Big Issues like the course of civilization fully equal to my family, even. Because my people only finally got a fair shake here, in this fantastic renaissance. This one last, best hope of humankind to transcend feudal reflexes and build a society of fairness… and possibly reach the stars. My children will have little or no hope in the world Putin & pals plan for us.

And when they take us… I have faith it will be over your active resistance and probably your dead body. That’s what I think of you… and why I want you on our side before any of that happens.

LH: I nominate Tim for Number Two! If he’ll wake up.

The perfect examples of Vonnegut’s prescription:

Thomas Huxley explained Darwin and gosh, I forget the churchman who said “that’s reasonable.”

Tony Fisk said...

Sounds like Vonnegut was describing the priesthood around a cult Messiah.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Progressive Democrats desperately need to get a cast like that together.

Oh my. Please don't.

Progressive geniuses think we are designable. We aren't.
They think they are bright enough to know how to do it. They aren't. No one is. Ever.

If there is one thing the 20th century should have hammered into our brains it is this lesson.

Alfred Differ said...

Acacia H,

I've noticed the repeating messages here too. First time felt odd, but then I paused and tried to remember that our host isn't writing blog entries FOR us. At the comment level that is more true, but not at the blog level.

He has a job to do right now in promoting his book and the message it contains. Especially if there is to be a part II.
I expect repeats at the blog level and references to the book within comments. Book name in ALL CAPS.
That's part of the biz.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

LH: I nominate Tim for Number Two! If he’ll wake up.


Tim W is currently operating as #3 in the other direction, explaining the facts of life to us Enlightenment dreamers, no matter how stupid or pig-headed we are. Which is a useful function, but not part of the revolution.

What's needed in the Vonnegutian sense is what you've been asking for--someone who has the ear of those who actually make things happen and can vouch for you being worth their time to listen to.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

I STILL have never met a Minnesotan I didn’t like.


I like the one I married. :)

And as long as Tim is "here", I want to let him know how grateful I am for the...I probably can't legally use the word "advice", but the helpful hints he posted when my wife was threatened by an undiagnose-able tick-borne illness. We're cautiously optimistic that she received a treatment that worked in January.

Larry Hart said...

I found this an interesting part of a post-mortem on Tuesday's primary. I'm talking about the notion that some of Bernie's 2016 support was from conservatives who saw him as their preferred alternative to Hillary. Those people seem to be Trumpians now.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/opinion/sanders-trump-biden.html

...
A crucial bloc of Sanders’s 2016 voters is no longer a part of the Democratic primary electorate. The remnant of the conservative wing of the Democratic Party that in 2016 voiced its hostility to Clinton by voting for Sanders has now turned to President Trump. Many of these former Democrats — particularly men who hold right-of-center views on race, gender and immigration — cast far fewer of their ballots for Sanders and his progressive policies this time around, compared with four years ago, when they shied away from Clinton’s perceived elitism, her ties to Wall Street, her social liberalism and the fact that she is a woman.
...

Larry Hart said...

schadenfreude...

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2020/Pres/Maps/Mar11.html#item-5

This week, COVID-19 officially reached D.C. At least one person who attended the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland last week has been diagnosed, and several prominent Republicans who interacted with this person have now quarantined themselves, most notably Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and—in today's reminder that karma is apparently real—Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who just last week mocked COVID-19 by wearing a gas mask while voting for emergency disease prevention funding. Incoming White House Chief of Staff Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) is also on the quarantine list. Trump himself was at CPAC, and though he was apparently not in the vicinity of the COVID-infected individual, he did interact with Cruz, Gaetz, and Meadows. That would suggest that, just maybe, Trump oughta get himself tested. Thus, far, however, he has refused because he says he's "feeling great."

David Brin said...

"Sounds like Vonnegut was describing the priesthood around a cult Messiah."

Of course he was. Speaking about "revolutions" not enlightenment. The latter CAN be a feature of some revolutions, like Darwinism. But Marxism and other cults are also like that.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry, an estimated 10% of Sanders voters in 2016 voted for Trump. I have a variety of words I use to describe them, usually modified with "abject." I like to think that by now, most of them have looked at Trump and gone, "Holy Mother of Fuck, what were we THINKING?" But that doesn't mean they've rejoined the Democratic Party. Biden does have more cachet with workers and black voters than Hillary did, which undercut Bernie's support, and at least some of the anti-Hillary vote was just that--animus towards her. Mostly undeserved, in my opinion, but real nevertheless.

locumranch said...


As I've been describing the US healthcare system's shift to 'Just-In-Time' inventory & its imminent collapse to y'all for many many years, Deuxglass's revelations about France's FUBAR national health system comes as no surprise, even though an overly-optimistic Deuxglass still underestimates the extent of the secondary healthcare crisis coming his way.

What do I mean by 'secondary crisis' ?

The 'secondary crisis' is what happens when the pandemic impacts his elderly Boomer Generation healthcare providers (MDs. RNs, EMTs, etc) in a direct & sickening fashion, then it will be every man. woman & child for his/her self -- a SHTF scenario any which way you slice it.

Along with the other 70+ Million divorced working aged men who have been seriously screwed over by US society, I will shed no tears if & when the politically correct do-nothings fall victim to the implacable & indifferent predator that is non-consensus reality.

I think I'll just sit tight and see which way the 'cookie crumbles' -- leaving Larry_H and other similarly delusional 'gravity is a consensus hallucination' fact-users hoisted on their own petards -- as I congratulate myself on the serendipitously good timing of my recent retirement.


Best

Zepp Jamieson said...

Robert, re: Deborah Blum's book The Poison Squad I read "The Poisoners" some time back, and it was very well done. I'll look for a copy of this.

A lot of high school libraries don't have Upton Sinclair. More and more, the omission is showing in our public discourse.

Anonymous said...

Robert here,

Quick comment after reading the first chapter of The Counter-Revolution of 1776.

Interesting material, but the first time in a long time I've had to work this hard to understand a book. Horne is a very erudite author and it shows. For example, without looking it up, how many of you know what "desuetude" means? This is a book written for other historians rather than the general public.

Lots of endnotes. This isn't an author who expects you to take his word for things.

First chapter is just laying the groundwork, but it seems to be solid so far — including mentioning other factors at work in the widening gulf between the colonies and Britain. Not an expert, but his comments on indigenous relations matches what I've learned elsewhere.

Not certain it's worth buying, unless you're a professional historian, but definitely worth getting from the library.

Acacia H. said...

Locu's Legion will likely fall to COVID-19. After all, it's a known fact that the virus has an increased impact on men and those suffering from cardiovascular disease... and divorced men who no longer have women to "nag" them into eating healthier or regularly have a multitude of unhealthy habits that will raise their mortality rate even as they refuse to take intelligent actions like regularly washing their hands and the like because they "know better" than the educated liberals.

His claims that older medical personnel will fall more easily ignores one essential fact: many of these older medical personnel are going to do everything in their power to ensure they don't get infected in the first place through the use of gloves and masks to minimize the chance of the virus spreading to them.

For someone who says he was a doctor, he sure seems to be unaware of what physicians and other medical personnel do to avoid infection... or thinks that they are all idiots.

Acacia

David Brin said...

Gosh, that was enteraining and well-expressed... almost poetical(!)... jibber-jabber! It bore absolutely no overlap with anything even remotely-true... but then neither does Lord of the Rings. Locum should take up fantasy writing in retirement!

David Brin said...

Oh, our shrill fecal-spewer is still reading everything and trying frantically to slip in, every day, wasting about three seconds of my time, per 24 hours. (I've been sanitizing for YOUR protection!) Were he to have emulated Locum's or Treebeard's or jim's or TCB's or Zepp's critical approaches -- varied and in some ways offensive, but none of them fecal -- he might not have been the only voice banned in 5 years.

the hanged man said...

Locumranch,

I am curious; do you mean to say that 70+ million divorced working aged men have been screwed over by US society, but the corresponding 70+ million divorced working aged women have not?

Tim Wolter said...

I'm reminded of perhaps the most compelling case ever to study an infectious agent. A bunch of Swiss gastroenterologists were at a medical meeting in Mexico City. They knew the risks. They took every precaution. They were by God SWISS gastroenterologists. After a week they all had some degree of GI symptoms. This parallels exactly my experience traveling in Egypt. You can try to reduce your risk of infection but in an adverse environment you will not prevail. An ER is just such a place. Masks will not keep you safe and full containment suits are not available.

Most of my colleagues will take the risks involved and do their best.

Happy to be retired.

I commend Defoe's Journal of a Plague Year to those with literary inclinations. It has a great deal to say. And is a bit of a literary mystery too, but that's another tale.

T.Wolter

Not sure how to parse the question of whether we physicians are idiots. In some ways, most certainly. But often noble idiots.

David Brin said...

And yet, Tim, Ebola workers persevere in Africa vs a terribly contagious plague and they mostly prevail while keeping themselves remarkably safe with very basic and RE-USED containment suits.

A.F. Rey said...

Not to be too pedantic, but the R0 of ebola is estimated to be less than 2, while Covid-19 has an R0 of around 2.2 or so, at least according to these sites. So Covid-19 is a bit more contagious than ebola, although not even in the ballpark of the measles or polio.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4347917/

https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-myths.html

(Disclaimer: the only reason I know of the R-nought term is because we watched Contagion last weekend--a movie I do not recommend seeing at this time. Way, way too close to home, and with the vaccine being produced in unrealistic weeks instead of months to provide the "happy" ending. Will definitely edge you from "concerned" toward "panic" if you haven't already seen it.)

locumranch said...


Acacia assumes that the modern medical provider unit is an infernal machine, devoid of human failings, scrupulously dedicated, free of familial ties, immune to illness, capable of indefinite, selfless & ceaseless function in the absence of sleep, food, rest, comfort, companionship or gratitude, and infinitely replaceable.

This is an all-too-common delusion, one shared by many others when it comes to the Deep State bureaucracy, scientists, the academic elite and the protector caste.

Assumers like Acacia are morons, all of them, who have placed inordinate faith in other flawed & fallible human beings, and they are the true idiots here.


Best

Larry Hart said...

locumranch:

leaving Larry_H and other similarly delusional 'gravity is a consensus hallucination' fact-users hoisted on their own petards


"Hallucination"? No, I said a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.


-- as I congratulate myself on the serendipitously good timing of my recent retirement.


We're as happy about your retirement as you are.

Now, some of us are actually trying to work.

Acacia H. said...

Better an moron, Locu, than a heartless hack who assumes humanity is a horrible thing that would destroy itself if not for a vengeful God that threatens to punish anyone who dares have original thoughts and question the universe.

Acacia

Acacia H. said...

Here's an interesting historical chart showing two separate U.S. cities and their reaction to the 1918 flu epidemic... and the resulting mortality rate from the flu. Something for certain parties to consider....

https://twitter.com/acatherwoodnews/status/1237882385946906625

Acacia

David Brin said...

and...

onward

onward

TCB said...

Coronavirus: South Korea’s infection rate falls without citywide lockdowns like China, Italy; South Korea had 7,513 Covid-19 cases as of Monday, with daily infections falling for a fourth consecutive day; Officials attribute the decrease to mass testing, improved public communication and the use of advanced technology

I'd say the South Koreans have the best approach so far. And with their better data:

Coronavirus: South Korea’s aggressive testing gives clues to true fatality rate; With 140,000 people tested, the country’s mortality rate is just over 0.6 per cent compared to the 3.4 per cent global average reported by the WHO