Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Debate #2? Do better! ... and today's chapter is about 'hating government"

Let's resume posting chapters from Polemical Judo. The last one dealt with what I deem the most important 'political' issue of all - whether there might be hundreds in Washington - and other centers of power - who could (if properly encouraged) blow the whistle and expose terrible things... including the very blackmail used to control them. 

I still call it the under-appreciated threat of our time -- and the greatest opportunity for dramatic counter moves.

This time? Well, we're going to SKIP Chapter 9 of the book. It deals with international relations, especially China. If you want it (and some insights you'll find nowhere else), then maybe buy the book? (Cheap!)

This time, Chapter Ten goes to the heart of a central catechism of the right... that government is the the foremost threat to freedom and prosperity. 

Reagan said "The ten scariest words in English are 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help!"  Cute. Folksy and ironic, it got laughter and applause... from millions of hypocrite-ingrates, happy to betray everything the Greatest Generation had done for them...

But hold. Before diving in though, how about pausing for some topical stuff?

== Who won that first debate? ==

Did Ol' Joe do a solid job conveying the choice between a good-natured, wise, calm and pragmatic grandpa vs. a raving, jibbering-lying lunatic? Sure he did. He also made clear that he is a solid beta-plus, surrounded by beta-plusses, who would govern reasonably well... but who would not know a political judo tactic if it grabbed them by the scruff. ... (Hear me Ron Klain? You can do better than this!) ... Oh, sure, it's easy to Monday-quarterback: "he shoulda reacted like THIS!" Like leaping on Trump's "Stand down and stand ready" command to his brown-shirts....

...but other judo moves could have been ready! Like calling on *henchmen* in any planned GOP October Surprise to step forward now! With strong evidence, in confidence that the new administration will protect them. (ONE such defection could torpedo the whole GOP, or at-minimum make them fretful about their henchmen.) Just making the offer would plant in voters' minds the notion to be wary.

... or demanding that the Trump campaign help recruit 50 random Americans to join retired judges, scientists and military officers on a panel to actually tell us which outlets are "fake news!" DT's ensuing refusal to trust random Americans and so-called "deep state" defenders would not sit well! (And yes, studies show that *average* Republicans who aren't fanatics always drift toward center when given such tasks.)

... or to pick at random any ten of Trump's 40,000 registered lies to see if that list is valid. Or demand a small nonpartisan panel to actually look - confidentially - at Trump's Tax returns and verify he 'paid millions' ... independent of the NY Times.

Or else... here's a suggestion I really like from one of you. "Biden should challenge them to almost any such bet... and who better to adjudicate the bet than Trump's own Supreme Court nominee Amy Barratt? She can't rule for him on any specific lie without being exposed as a partisan hack. He can't say she's unqualified to judge. it's perfect."

Oh there are so many judo tactics I laid out in my till-now futile book. But one I just posted a short time ago would be ideal. "Don you've yammered about demanding a 'drug test." But you've been faking tests all your life and you know how to trick a urine sample. But we both have Secret Service teams here, with nurses and EMTs. Let's call them in and draw blood right now! And do full workups for the People to see and know." 

And Joe starts rolling up his sleeve. Even if Biden is taking Adderall (I don't care!) he can be confident Trump will refuse. On the remote chance he accepts, DT would cringe from the needle in ways that lose him a million votes from his macho crowd.

Heck, just the image of working class Joe having an excuse to take his jacket off and roll up his sleeve would be priceless!

And now...

== Back to the book ==

This is a long one so I'll split it in two parts. Hence onward to POLEMICAL JUDO.

Let’s hear this incantation the next time you dial 911… 

  

 

Chapter 10

 Government is the problem?[1]

 

 

In January 2017, Donald Trump’s newly appointed director of the Office of Management and Budget, Rep. Mick Mulvaney (who as of September 2019 was also acting White House Chief of Staff) posted an essay that asked an amazing question:[2]

 

“Do we really need government-funded research at all?”

 

It won’t surprise you that much of a chapter on the right’s hatred of “government” will focus on this stunning sub-topic: that anyone – even a jibbering dogmatist – could pose such a question about tax-supported R&D with a straight face. Yep, who needs the one thing that vastly multiplied all U.S. productivity since World War II. Heck, that enabled us to win World War II.[3]  

 

But let’s put that particular insanity in larger context. Because, as we saw in “The War on All Fact People” (Chapter 5), there’s a much larger agenda at foot.

 

 

GOVERNMENT “HELPERS”?

 

The hypnotic incantation that all-government-is-evil-all-the-time would have bemused and appalled our parents in the Greatest Generation – those who persevered to overcome the Depression and Hitler, then contained Stalinism, went to the moon, developed successful companies, built a mighty middle class and began a grinding journey toward improved justice, all in an era of powerful unions and high tax rates. The mixed society that they built emphasized a wide stance, pragmatically stirring private enterprise with targeted collective actions, funded by a consensus negotiation process called politics. The resulting civilization was more successful – by orders of magnitude – than any other. Than any combination of others.

 

So why do we hear endlessly repeated nostrums – pushed by right-wing media and some on the left – that this wide-stance, mixed approach is all wrong? In fact, a recent Pew Poll showed distrust of government among Americans at an all-time high.[4] Ronald Reagan, the most avid and effective promulgator of this meme, famously repeated: 

 

“The scariest words in the English language are – I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

 

Of course folks who clapped and cheered at that snark are among the first to demand that help, at any excuse.[5] Indeed, this general, abstract loathing collapses when citizens are asked which specific parts of government they’d shut down. It turns out that most of them like specific things their taxes pay for.

 

“Declining trust in government has spread across nearly all advanced industrial democracies since the 1960s/1970s,” writes political scientist Russell Dalton: “Regardless of political history, electoral system, or style of government, most contemporary publics are less trustful of government than they were in the era of their grandparents.” This despite the fact that we are richer and better off by almost any measure you can name.[6]

We all know that Congress polls as the least trusted institution in American life – yet, in each district, we keep re-electing our own crook.
[7] (Though churches have also taken a steep hit, and are now trusted by much less than half.[8])

 

In a sense, this isn’t new. For a century and a half, followers of Karl Marx demanded that we amputate society’s right arm of market-competitive enterprise and rely only on socialist (left-handed) guided-allocation for economic control. [9] (See Chapter 9’s section on central planning.) 


Meanwhile, Ayn Rand’s ilk proclaim we must lop off our left arm – forswearing any coordinated projects that look beyond the typical five year (nowadays shrunken to just quarterly) commercial investment horizon. [10]

 

Any sensible person would respond: “Hey I need both arms! Let’s keep examining what each arm does well, revising and calibrating our knowledge of what each shouldn’t do.”

 

Does that sound too practical and moderate for this era? Our parents thought they had dealt with all this, proving decisively that calm negotiation, compromise and pragmatic mixed-solutions work best, though preferably with a lean toward letting individuals, small groups and markets solve whatever they can. The Greatest Generation would be stunned to see that fanatical would-be amputators are back in force, ranting nonsense.

 

 

WHY NO ONE ANSWERED THE “TEA PARTY” SCAM

 

It still seethes, and I mentioned in several of the postings that comprise this volume – the insipid lunacy of letting crypto-confederates in the so-called “Tea Party Rebellion” get away with hijacking the American Revolution.

 

This wasn’t just stupidity of course, Many liberals shy away from looking at the “Founders,” for fear of being tarred with their admitted faults. Huge ones like the fact that some – Washington and Jefferson – owned slaves. Though others, like Adams and Franklin, were fiery in condemnation, setting alight the abolitionist movement.[11]

 

In Chapter 14, I talk about how the 1770s Revolution might be viewed as Phase One of our ever-recurring U.S. Civil War. But more important is to utterly demolish the propaganda that it was an uprising against taxation per se, or against “government bureaucracy.” First, the complaint was “No taxation without representation,” and you have only to read contemporary accounts to know how furious Americans were that some of the Empire’s biggest and most industrious cities and regions had no one to speak for them in Parliament. Ben Franklin was sent to Britain by Pennsylvania primarily to persuade the Penn family to allow themselves to be taxed.  They owned 70% of the land and refused.  Other colonies were similarly bollixed.  And by the way, this obstinacy on the part of the top 1% of 1% was similar in France, in 1789, when the First Estate utterly refused to help... and thereupon lost their heads.

 

Moreover, it was maritime commercial cities like Boston, New York, and Philadelphia that expressed fury at the king-crony monopolists, whose mafia protection racket forced all colonial trade to pass through their ports and docks, extorting bribes every step of the way. An oligarchy of absentee lords who owned two-thirds of all the land in the colonies and refused – under feudal privilege – to let it be taxed, as did the lords in 1789 France and our own oligarchs today.

 

There were other grievances in the Declaration of Independence, such as Parliament’s insistence that colonies stop issuing their own money, which had kept economic activity so vigorous that there were no slums or unemployed, until the new restrictions caused a depression. And yes, there was grumbling over the law forbidding migration over the Appalachians. What you won’t find in the Declaration is much of anything that at all resembles the list of grudges issued by today’s so-called Tea Party, subsidized by the Koch brothers and other kingly aristocrats.

 

Why did no one answer the “tea party” scam to hijack the American Revolution? As I’ve said repeatedly: our generals in this fight – at least till recently – seem… deficient.

 

 

It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.

 – Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations, Chapter II, Part II [12]

 

 

COMPETITION’S CONTRADICTIONS… AND A SOLUTION

 

For a supposed liberal polemicist, I hang around libertarians a fair amount. And why not? Some are among the liveliest minds I know. Anyway, I’ll give them this – they invite me to berate and argue with them. That’s a hopeful sign. Alas, as we’ll discuss in a chapter devoted to that movement, libertarians have allowed paid shills to sway them into a bizarre conversion. So I start by demanding: Isn’t libertarianism fundamentally an appreciation of competition?[13]

 

I openly avow – as did that founder of liberalism, Adam Smith – that competition is the greatest creative force in the universe. Competition produced all of nature's evolutionary marvels, including us. By far the most successful human enterprise – science – is inherently adversarial as scientists go at each other relentlessly. Moreover the arts, supposedly our "highest" endeavors, are often ferociously competitive, even when they lecture us about cooperation! The core enlightenment processes – entrepreneurial markets, science, democracy and justice – all produce the modern miracle of positive-sum outcomes that way, as companies, laboratories, politicians, attorneys and folks like you all strive to do better than your rivals, creating (however imperfectly, so far) the famous rising tide that lifts all boats. Nor is this book you are reading anything other than deeply competitive.


Yes, there are also many cooperative or consensus or even moral aspects... read Adam Smith’s The Theory of Moral Sentiments, to see that "competition" does not mean "cut-throat" or the brutal image of social darwinism. Not when it’s healthy. We’ll get to that, further down.

 

Alas, competition – in nature and primitive human societies (like ours) – contains an inherent contradiction. A runaway process of self-destruction that historically led – nearly always - to a particular kind of calamity...

...to the winner turning around and cheating! Adam Smith saw what had happened to markets and societies for millennia. Winners are never satisfied with success in the latest market battle, with a cool product or financial or political achievement. As humans, we use any recent advantage to ensure that competitors will fail in future struggles. To bias the next competition. To absorb their companies. Squat on patents. Craft monopolies or cartels to divvy-up the souk or bazaar. Spy on competitors, but keep them - and consumers - in the dark. Capture regulators and politicians. Make sure the laws favor us.

 

The proposal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be listened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted till after having been long and carefully examined, not only with the most scrupulous, but with the most suspicious attention. It comes from an order of men, whose interest is never exactly the same with that of the public, who have generally an interest to deceive and even to oppress the public, and who accordingly have, upon many occasions, both deceived and oppressed it.

– Adam Smith The Wealth of Nations, Chapter XI, Part III

 

Victory on the battlefield may have made you great, but you don’t want to return there again and again for an endless series of even matches! Yet, Smith showed that’s exactly what’s needed! Flat-fair-open-creative competition must go on and on, maximizing innovation while minimizing blood on the floor. 

 

There is a clear example of how we can and have tamed that old contradiction, transforming from reciprocal destruction into endlessly vigorous, positive sum competition. That example is the system of ritualized combat called sports, where returning weekly for relatively even matches became the core idea and keeping competition credibly fair became the ruling obsession.[14]

 

Smith saw how cheating by owner-oligarchs wrecked the creative effectiveness of markets – the same cheating that frustrated the American founders and propelled them to Revolution. And so - in the seminal year 1776 - Smith called for something new. A way to get the best, most creative-competitive juices flowing in the largest possible variety of human beings, while preventing many old failure modes. As in sports, competition in economics and politics and civil life can only be self-sustaining – continuing to deliver positive-sum outcomes – if it happens amid a network of transparent, fine-tuned, relentlessly scrutinized and universally enforced rules.[15]

 

 

==  A “Clock” Showing What We Got  ==

 

One of the best bits of political polemic has been the “National Debt Clock,” spinning up the rapid pace at which deficits pile burdens on our children. And yes, despite Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) – the liberal attempt to out-voodoo Supply Side – debt does matter. Only note that when we had surpluses and black ink under Bill Clinton, how conveniently the Debt Clock went “out of order,” rather than honestly run backward. So much for honest polemic.

 

Oh, how’s this for an easy-quick and devastating answer to the “hate-all-government” hypnosis! I’d love to see a second “National Debt Clock” showing where the U.S. deficit would be now – likely running surpluses – if we taxpayers had charged just a 5% royalty on the fruits of U.S. federal research!

 

Oh there were solid policy reasons to choose otherwise. And those reasons may be obsolete. Anyway, in an era of jibbering dogmatists, how effective such a “clock” would be. We deserve such a tasty piece of counter propaganda. (See: Eight Causes of the Deficit Fiscal Cliff.[16])


Next time... Part two of "Government is the problem?"




FOOTNOTES

[1] This chapter comes largely from an essay in Evonomics circa 2016. https://evonomics.com/david-brin-ultimate-answer-government-useless/

 

[2] “Do we really need government-funded research at all?” https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2016/12/21/14012552/trump-budget-director-research-science-mulvaney   Indeed, ponder who would benefit from a plummet in U.S. scientific pre-eminence, and see if it overlaps with Mulvaney’s and Trump’s purported masters. There is no contradiction.

 

[3] A BBC article lists how government research enabled all of the advances that led to the iPhone. http://www.bbc.com/news/business-38320198

 

[4] Pew poll on mistrust of government. http://www.people-press.org/2015/11/23/beyond-distrust-how-americans-view-their-government/

 

[5] Red states are on-average and total far higher recipients of federally mediated transfers of wealth, contracts and assistance.

 

[6] Russell Dalton. https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/03/03/americans-have-lost-faith-in-institutions-thats-not-because-of-trump-or-fake-news/?hpid=hp_hp-cards_hp-posteverything%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.e086ffb2ad3a

 

[7] 2019 note: The “AOC uprising” – toppling old-line liberal reps in primaries – echoes the “Tea Party” rebellion of 20 years ago.

 

[8]  Over 700 charges – as of mid 2019 - of sexual abuse hitting just now slamming the Southern Baptist Convention.  https://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/investigations/article/Southern-Baptist-sexual-abuse-spreads-as-leaders-13588038.php

 

[9] Guided allocation: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2006/06/allocation-vs-markets-ancient-struggle.html

 

[10] My own acerbic dissection of Rand’s arguments and fiction is at: http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/aynrand.html

 

[11] “The musical Hamilton brilliantly allows us to own and digest, rather than just assail, the Founders and their faults. A tragic hero brought down by a sex scandal... when one of his opponents (Jefferson) had his own affair to hide. Unsavory business dealings and shady characters lurking about... accusations of double-dealing... even potentially treasonous discussions with foreign powers? All there. And all still topical. There's a smart progressive way to engage with the Founders and we need more people to wake up and use it.” – Dr. Allen Bryan.

 

[12] A good source for all things adamsmithian - http://adamsmithslostlegacy.blogspot.com/search/label/Vile%20Maxim

 

[13] As we’ll see later, the “C-word” – competition – is seldom mentioned at libertarian gatherings anymore. It has been replaced – after decades of subsidized propaganda aimed at that community – by another sacred touchstone: “P” for Property. Sure, property is necessary to some degree, in order to incentivize market activity and there’s nothing wrong with fair rewards fostering success. But like all good things – water, oxygen, food, sex – excess concentration becomes toxic. When confronted directly about this wholesale abandonment of the C-word, in favor of propertarian oligarchy, many libertarians instantly get it and blush with embarrassment.

 

[14]   “The United States, by contrast, holds a reputation in large parts of Europe as the epitome of winner-takes-all capitalism, yet it operates variants of a proto-socialist model for all of its major sports. Success is hailed, yet curtailed, and failure rewarded: The worst-placed teams get the first pick in the following season’s draft of new players, allowing them to restock on talent, a form of redistribution rejected elsewhere in the American economy…. American sports are not so because they like socialism–they are simply taking the best path to making money.” From Sports: America’s Wildly Successful Socialist Experiment. The Atlantic 2019. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/09/us-europe-soccer-football/598012/

 

[15] Fair competition isn’t just a matter of morality. It is also the way to maximize competitive output, by ensuring that bright people and teams get second, third chances and so on. And creating ever-flowing opportunities for new competitors to keep arising from the population of savvy, educated and empowered folk. That kind of fairness requires rules and careful tending to ensure new competitors can and will always arise to challenge last year's winners. And that earlier winners can't cheat. Because... we've seen... they will.

 

[16] Fiscal cliff. http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2012/10/eight-causes-of-deficit-fiscal-cliff.html

 






85 comments:

Larry Hart said...

A Tweet of Donald Trump's that I saw on Stonekettle's feed. I swear I am not making up the spelling:

Chris had a tough night. Two on one was not surprising, butt fun.
...

Lorraine said...

Someone "translated" the Declaration of Independence to "plain English."

https://www.jwz.org/blog/2020/09/a-new-american-manifesto/

'Ironically, Most people don't recognize it. But many feel it "speaks to them".'

Der Oger said...

Currently, companies that cheat, corrupt and spy are punished if caught - so they get better at it, hiding their attempts or shielding themselves from punishment by buying the lawmakers they need.

Wouldn't it be better to reward those companies that actually show a behavior beneficial to the society they live in?

Think of a social credit system - not for citizens, but for companies. Those companies who don't want to comply are not punished (at least not, in addition) for having a low score ... instead, reward those corporations actively supporting values set forth by the society, engage in honest deals, pay fair wages, behave environmentally responsible and abstain from corruption with government contracts, tax reductions, and even extra cash?

Wonder if an extra benefit would be that all resources formerly spent on industrial espionage and cheating would be flowing to the companies' attempts to uncover the bad apples in their ranks - thus, perhaps, installing a system of self-control in the oligarch caste.

Of course, the prize must be high enough to be of actual value ... and the mechanism of evaluating a company's behavior must be free from corruption.

TCB said...

Possibly whoever supplied the Hew York Times with a tranche of Trump's tax information deserves at least an honorary Henchman's Prize. I expect it will be years until we find out who that person is. Or maybe never.

Darrell E said...

TCB said...
"Here's an article that says a mouthful.

". . . .
Why? The GOP represents a minority of voters and the most economically unproductive parts of the country, making Republican bullying beyond egregious — and Democrats’ timidity too absurd to comprehend."
"

I can think of another reason why that is quite sensible, in addition to Larry's point. DP politicians and DP voters are on average considerably more decent than RP politicians and about 1/2 of RP voters. Behaving similarly to the RP politicians is not something they normally do. Behaving like the RP may indeed be the right thing to do to counter them, but there is a cost to that sort of thing. You risk helping to impede progress towards that better society that most decent people want to live in. You risk helping to maintain the less decent society we live in right now, the one that the RP and its moneyed supporters have been working so hard to create.

It's a hard question. Similar to things like torture or capital punishment. What are the benefits and detriments of the state killing citizens convicted of certain crimes? Doing so does protect the public from any further damage by the criminal, and that's a relatively concrete benefit. But it also normalizes killing. I'd argue it also damages the people tasked with judging, sentencing and carrying out the sentence. It makes them personally a participant in the killing. That's pretty concrete there too, but I'd argue that the normalization of killing, while being less tangible, is the most significant effect. And a negative one. Most decent people don't want to live in a society in which killing is normal.

But, it is easy to think of circumstances in which killing would be the right thing to do. The hard part is were to draw lines. How to draw lines.

In our current circumstances I do tend to agree with the article, though I am not nearly as cavalier about it. But it does seem to me that we are at, or near, fight or die time.

Larry Hart said...

Ya think?

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/30/us/politics/trump-debate-white-supremacy.html

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, one of two Black Republicans in Congress, suggested that perhaps Mr. Trump “misspoke” and urged him to fix his error. But Mr. Scott also allowed, “If he doesn’t correct it, I guess he didn’t misspeak.”

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/30/us/politics/trump-debate-white-supremacy.html

...
Alluding to Mr. Trump’s remarks about the Proud Boys, Mr. Racicot [former Republican governor of Montana] said the president offered comfort to racists that betrayed the moral leadership responsibilities of his office.

He said he knew he could not support Mr. Trump but had recently decided to vote for Mr. Biden.

“It gnawed at my conscience,” Mr. Racicot said, adding of the president: “I’ve concluded that he’s dangerous to the existence of the republic as we know it.”

Larry Hart said...

Fascists do end up having to eat their own, don't they?

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/30/business/media/drudge-report-trump-coverage.html

The Fox News prime-time host Tucker Carlson echoed the sentiment in a July episode of his show, saying that Drudge Report “has changed dramatically, 180 degrees” and calling Mr. Drudge “a man of the progressive left.”

jim said...

“just the image of working class Joe having an excuse to take his jacket off and roll up his sleeve would be priceless”

Thanks so much for that belly laugh.
When one wealthy liberal professional calls another wealthy professional liberal working class I find it so funny.

The idea that corporate Joe is anything other than a fluffer for the oligarchs is Trumpian in its disconnect from reality. He has already promised his wealthy donors that nothing fundamental will change if he gets elected.

David Brin said...


LH: Tim Scott has to parse his implied criticism carefully, lest it trigger release of his blackmail.

Lorraine: the revised Declaration of Independence is clever. Not direct, of course. But Trump does fit eerily into most of the 1776 document’s complaints and accusations.

Der Oger: most of your plaints re corporate misbehavior would resolve with vastly increased transparency. A universal, worldwide rule of declared, transparent ownership, eliminating most shells, for example, would let nations CUT taxes for honest people and companies.

scidata said...

Most of the Lincoln Project shorts are ok but not great. The recent one called "Decency" contrasting Biden encouraging a young stutterer with the monster mocking a disabled reporter is hard for me to watch. I was once that kid.

David Brin said...

"jim" Prove it. Prove any of it. Show even the slightest proof of any of your slander.

I'll help you with one word. "Delaware." Blatantly, I will be hard to arm twist Biden to alter corporate transparency laws... and I am a RADICAL in that area! I know I will have to fight him over that, down the road.

And I don't care for now. It is not one of the 31 desperately needed things I list, that must happen to save a republic that's been good to us all -- including Joe Biden -- and to preserve a planet his grandchildren need.

But then, you haven't read that list of 31 or shown why 'moderate" dems wouldn't want them. As usual, all you are is a yammerer.

jim said...

https://www.salon.com/2019/06/19/joe-biden-to-rich-donors-nothing-would-fundamentally-change-if-hes-elected/

and it is not slander to point out that someone with a law degree and who was a congressional representative, a senator and a vice president is absolutely not working class.

I am glad you realize that old corporate joe will not be helping get greater public transparency for his donors. It is one of a long list of stuff he will not be helping with. (and corporate joe will have a lot of support from other corporate dems like congressional leader Dick Neal who killed a bill ending surprise emergency room billing earlier this year -during a pandemic.)

Atomsmith said...

Not really sousveillance, but at least omniveillance?

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-09-30/license-plate-scanners-for-police-are-becoming-cheaper-more-available

David Brin said...

Cherrypicked crap, jim. I've seen that context-free thing.

Your lack of faith in AOC and the Democratic/liberal left is stunning. You clearly believe that - after electoral cheating is vanquished, most money is taken out of politics, rebuttal rules let all sides be heard in media, young people and minorities are more empowered and all get incrementally better health care and science is again respected and secret mafgias lose their grip on power...

... that when all those and more CONSENSUS desires they share with ol' Joe are accomplished, they will then be unable to make their case and broaden their coalition and force Biden to accept further progress in directions you want. YOUR LACK OF FAITH IN THEM AND IN YOUR CAUSE IS TRULY SELF-DAMNING.

Getting 70% of what you want is obviously WORSE - to you - than having 70% of what you cherish deliberately destroyed by those mafias and racists and monsters.

Yeah, yeah. I've known guys like you all my life. You are the reason Clinton in 94 and Obama in 2010 were betrayed by prissy lefties and denied any ability to get anything further done. You point your supposed goals in roughly the same direction as I do. But that doesn't make you any less batshit crazy than a MAGA.

jim said...

See the thing is David
that I don't believe that the democrats will vanish electoral cheating, take money out of politics, change how the media operates or anything that actually empowers anyone but the professional managerial class and the wealthy people who employ them.

Do you really expect the wealthy democratic donors to allow their elected servants to eliminate their power over them?

As I see it the lefties keep thinking that corporate dems would work with them to stay in power but the corporate dems always turn around and stab the lefties in the font or back because they know they have more in common with the republicans than the left.

A.F. Rey said...

I think it was Don Lemon on CNN who put it best.

Elections are like riding a bus. Usually, it won't take you exactly where you want to go. So you have to take the bus that comes closest to your destination.

In this upcoming election, jim, which bus will take you closest to your destination? The Biden Bus, that will stop far short? Or the Trump Bus, that will head in the opposite direction and most likely drive off a cliff? :)

Of course, you could just stay where you are and never get to, or near, your destination. But what good will that do you? ;)

Take the bus that going in your direction, then work on changing the route so it gets closer.

David Brin said...

Ah I love it. We've zeroed inon a wager jim. You may not move the goalposts.

If AOC and Bernie work with the moderates and we get HALF of the money out of politics and HALF of the remaining folks medically covered and gerrymandering chiseled down and many more blue and purple states with automatic or nearly-so voter registration... and maybe expanding voting days... and most red state forced to back away from many of their cheats. And if Bernie himself says 'These are big steps down the road and we're going to fight for lots more but this helps." Then where will you run to re-erect your damned false equivalence totem?

Larry Hart said...

jim:

As I see it the lefties keep thinking that corporate dems would work with them to stay in power but the corporate dems always turn around and stab the lefties in the font or back because they know they have more in common with the republicans than the left.


To the extent that the dems turn around and betray the left, it's because the left isn't enough to win them elections. They need working white voters in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and such in order to be in a position to do anything. If you want a lefty party to be able to actually win elections, that's the obstacle that needs to be surmounted.

Until then, all I hear you saying is you'd rather lose elections with a lefty standard bearer than win them with a corporate Democrat.

Norman Goldman was correct in 2016 when he pointed out that the Bernie wing of the Democratic Party was gaining ground over time, but wasn't far enough along yet. He said that about 55% of the party favored Hillary, while 45% favored Bernie. Eventually, the Bernie side would take over, but it was foolish to expect that 45% beats 55% at the moment. By your side's assertion that the nominating process was rigged against Bernie unless it is rigged for Bernie, I'm afraid you are the one who has "more in common with the republicans".

duncan cairncross said...

Dr Brin
"jim" is merely displaying and promoting the GOP's greatest and most effective LIE

The "Lie" than "both parties are the same" - this is the lie that gave you Bush2 and the Tea Party

When I was in the USA my boss an otherwise very sensible and smart guy mused about voting for Bush rather than Gore because

"They are both the same and Bush was more likely to be supportive of trail riding"

TCB said...

Darrell E upthread hath said,

Similar to things like torture or capital punishment. What are the benefits and detriments of the state killing citizens convicted of certain crimes? Doing so does protect the public from any further damage by the criminal, and that's a relatively concrete benefit. But it also normalizes killing. I'd argue it also damages the people tasked with judging, sentencing and carrying out the sentence. It makes them personally a participant in the killing. That's pretty concrete there too, but I'd argue that the normalization of killing, while being less tangible, is the most significant effect. And a negative one. Most decent people don't want to live in a society in which killing is normal.

When the state executed John Wayne Gacy or Ted Bundy, almost all of us thought "Whew, it's nice not to have that animal stealing any more oxygen! The world is .00000001% better for it." HOWEVER. To my thinking the best argument against he death penalty is a selfish one. In a place like China, they could legally execute me (and harvest my organs) simply for being a pro-democracy loudmouth. Meanwhile, in a place like Norway, the fascist terrorist Anders Breivik murdered 77 good people, many quite young, and yet there is no death penalty there. In theory he could be freed in two more years, although in practice he is likely never to be paroled. Although this is galling, facts are facts: a government that can't execute Breivik for terror and murder won't execute somebody like me for merely speaking out of turn. China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia: places like this would do both.

As for the efficacy of torture, we've been systematically lied to, by 24, by Zero Dark Thirty, by Republican propagandists and Hollywood alike. The truth is, as experienced interrogators know, under torture a prisoner does not tell the truth; the prisoner says whatever they think will stop the torture. Torture is not very good at extracting true and useful information in a hurry; torture is good at terrorizing civilians. That's all. But for fascists like Donald Trump and Joe Arpaio, that's not a bug. It's a feature.

matthew said...

Amy Coney Barrett left her involvement in an anti-abortion and anti-IVF ad off her required reporting for both her potential SCOTUS seat and her Circuit Judgeship seat.

https://amp.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/01/amy-coney-barrett-supported-group-fertilization

While this seems like small potatoes, the paperwork before someone can become a Federal Judge is extremely lengthy and in-depth. It often takes months to prepare, and an omission like this one has been considered grounds for removal or dismissal of a candidate in the past. Omitting political ties on this paperwork is similar to lying on a security clearance application. It is a big deal.

Oh, and being anti-IVF is considered radical even by anti-abortion mainstream groups.

Watch this space.
I suspect that the GOP will simply not care about the omission.
But, it may be used to later impeach her for lying.

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncross:

The "Lie" than "both parties are the same" - this is the lie that gave you Bush2 and the Tea Party


I think Spock's assessment of Edith Keeler--the anti-war activist who would have enabled Hitler's take over of the world--is instructive in this situation.

"She was right, but at the wrong time."

It's the wrong time to insist on a more personally-palatable Democratic Party as the price for not opposing the Republican Party.


Larry Hart said...

TCB:

Torture is not very good at extracting true and useful information in a hurry; torture is good at terrorizing civilians.


You leave out something important. Torture is indeed not good at extracting true information, but it is good at extracting false confessions and false accusations against others. And that is a feature, not a bug.

duncan cairncross said...

The Trumps have been tested positive for the Coronavirus

https://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2020/oct/02/coronavirus-live-news-paris-faces-being-placed-on-maximum-alert-as-india-nears-100000-deaths

This is potentially very very serious
If the Orange Cockwomble DIES then the GOP could well retain power and Pence will probably be WORSE than the Orange preschooler

(He is 74 - but the seven is silent)

Acacia H. said...

Donald Trump has been tested positive for Covid-19. So has his wife. And his close aide, Hope Hicks, is already feeling symptoms and it's sounding like she got one of the less pleasant strains. She's young. Trump is an old overweight man. What's more, he's an utter idiot who insisted people in the White House not wear masks... meaning he very likely has contaminated Vice President Mike Pence.

If the President and Vice President are incapacitated, then power shifts to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi. We could very well end up with President Nancy Pelosi if things go truly dire for Trump and Pence. Because this thing kills.

Acacia

Der Oger said...

@ TCB: "Although this is galling, facts are facts: a government that can't execute Breivik for terror and murder won't execute somebody like me for merely speaking out of turn."

I'd like to add something: The possibility of a miscarriage of justice. Even today, people are convicted of crimes they did not commit, or have their crimes unjustly upgraded into the worse category. There is also the issue of racial bias.

Finally, it does nothing to deter crimes associated with that penalty, as evidence shows. The same goes for high incarceration rates, in general.

Instead, I see it as a part of a successful political strategy: The prosecutor or career politician who can prove to the public that he or she is tough on crime can count on being re-elected. Actual methods that CAN reduce crime rates (again, with scientific evidence backing it!) are dismissed as sissy, weak, naive, and socialist.

And to be honest, Biden/Harris have profited from this strategy in the past. Even Obamua'dib was a supporter of the death penalty.

George Carty said...

Damn.

What would give the GOP a better chance of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat, than for Trump to suffer martyrdom at the hands of the "China virus"?

Daniel Duffy said...

Trump does NOT have Covid-19. It's a lie.

What he has is a very convenient excuse to avoid the next two debates because quarantine restrictions and lingering after affects of the "virus" - the debates with the new rules that prevent him from being an a-hole on stage and making any hope of victory for him impossible.

But most importantly, Trump has a reason to resign the presidency and drop out of the race for "health reasons", thus avoiding a humiliating defeat in November (post debate polls show Biden actually leading now in Texas and South freaking Carolina!!!).

In return for actually being president for a few months, Pence grants Trump a blanket presidential immunity for all federal crimes.

Trump can now claim he was never defeated (and would have won anyways) and all he has to worry about is the state AG of NY. His lawyers can delay the NY legal proceeding for years, long enough to make sure that he doesn't die in prison. And he gets to walk away with all of those fat campaign contributions (that he hasn't been spending) and use them to pay off debts and legal expenses - thus avoiding bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, back at the election, Biden crushes Pence in a 40+ state sweep. Pence may be one of their own, but he doesn't inspire evangelicals or any other Trump supporters. Without the celebrity they worship at the head of the ticket, Trump supporters stay home.

All the down ticket republicans therefor suffer as well, leading to an historic landslide blow out victory for the Dems across the board.

Trump of course doesn't care because he got his, and is making off scot free. The GOP in effect becomes just another subcontractor that Trump has stiffed.

Still terrified of his racist followers, GOP officials won't be able to voice any criticisms of Trump - who may still be playing GOP kingmaker from the sidelines for the foreseeable future via his new right wing radio/tv network.

P.S. However, Pence may decide as a loving Christian to force Jesus to return by launching a few nukes at Xmas time.

TCB said...

Larry Hart said: You leave out something important. Torture is indeed not good at extracting true information, but it is good at extracting false confessions and false accusations against others. And that is a feature, not a bug.

True that! Thanks for repairing my shoddy workmanship!

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

Just found out Trump and Melania and god knows who else in the White House have tested positive. I am really starting to believe in karma... kinda already did, but wow.

ozajh said...

Apropos of Dr Brin's remarks about Jim, I've just listened to a truly astounding commentary from a Republican spokesperson on a Good Morning Britain segment. (This is UK ITV News, so NOT a Murdoch channel AFAIK.)

According to this gentleman, President Trump has been 'ahead of the curve' every step of the way in providing the US with a world-beating response to COVID-19 despite being deliberately obstructed by every member of the Democrat (sic) Party and/or the deep state. Who are now, of course, unable to restrain their joy at his infirmity.

This is where IMHO Dr Brin's polemical judo solutions won't work on Trump's base, because they will never acknowledge any validity in the arguments. They just won't.

Don Gisselbeck said...

Since we have not executed Henry Kissinger or the executives of the W R Grace Corporation, there is no justification for executing anyone else.

Larry Hart said...

The punch line from a 1930s-era joke:

"When the sonuvabitch I'm looking for dies, it'll be on the front page."

Acacia H. said...

It's interesting watching the gambit of emotions run across people concerning Trump and Covid. Now some people are stating Trump is faking it in order to downplay how serious it is. He'll pop up in two weeks saying "I'm all better!" and say the disease isn't a big deal, according to the naysayers. But they aren't thinking well enough.

Trump hates losing. And he's losing the 2020 election. It would be extremely hard for him to pull off another upset like in 2016. And given all the shit going on, he may not WANT to be reelected. He might just want to throw his hands up and probably shortly before "handing over power" resign, put Pence in (so Pence can be President for a day) and get Pardoned so he can go back to being a failed billionaire. But losing? Oh, that rankles.

And these last four weeks before the election are VITAL. He's not going to be able to do debates now. He's not going to be able to do rallies, or a lot of things he needs to pump up his base. But if he's SICK... with a virus that's killed over a million people around the globe?

Then he has something to blame. HE didn't lose. It was Covid's fault. If he could have postponed the election and he tried! Oh, he tried! Then he'd have won! But he got sick at the last moment and it was baaad. So he had to stay home so OTHERS wouldn't catch it. He did the "right thing" to "protect the people" and he didn't lose. Biden just took advantage of his being sick.

Trump always wants an out, a scapegoat. Blaming a worldwide pandemic works far better than claiming "voter fraud" - his voters couldn't vote him in, they were all sick! And he couldn't campaign and get the vote out because HE was sick! It's not him. No, it's never him.

Having had Covid? I'm a 50-year-old transwoman who's 50 lbs. heavier than she should be. It hit me hard. For a week and a half I was... not doing well. Hell, I probably should have been hospitalized, though I also suspect if I had been, I'd not have made it. I still have lingering effects with my lungs and deteriorating eyesight. I hope Trump's case of Covid is at least as bad as mine was. And given he's a couple decades older than me and definitely more overweight than I am... it's not going to be kind to him.

Acacia

P.S. - To those who say "we shouldn't wish ill on Trump, we're better than that" - Trump does not think I deserve rights. His followers would gleefully murder me for being in their eyes an abomination and fake woman. Fuck that. I'm going to wish him ill and I'll wish his supporters ill as well because all the high road gets you these days is derision and dismissal.

Larry Hart said...

Acacia H:

If the President and Vice President are incapacitated, then power shifts to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.


Well, so far I haven't heard that Pence has tested positive.

Remember when God told Mike Pence he'd be president? Possibly, He meant "for a few weeks".

Larry Hart said...

George Carty:

What would give the GOP a better chance of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat, than for Trump to suffer martyrdom at the hands of the "China virus"?


Why do people think this helps Trump? It puts the lie to his "strategy" of ignoring the dangers of contagion. It disproves the "Democratic hoax" thing. It makes him look weak ("I like presidents who don't get COVID.") Anyone who would support Trump out of misguided sympathy was probably already inclined to vote for him.

It seems to me that a worse outcome for the good team would be if he gave it to Biden during the debate. If Biden suffers incapacitation, I could see a chaotic election as a result. And if either candidate dies, the Electors will probably have more freedom than ever to do whatever they want.

Larry Hart said...

Acacia H:

To those who say "we shouldn't wish ill on Trump, we're better than that"


I would have said that, before Trump and the Republican Party foreclosed any possibility of loyal opposition or peaceful resistance.

My wife will have the shit-eating grin on her face all day after hearing the news this morning. Me, my natural pessimism went right to "I hope he didn't give it to Biden at the debates."

David Brin said...

"(He is 74 - but the seven is silent)" I hadn't heard that one. Cute.

Much will depend on HOW sick DT gets and how sick he presents. Would it give him an "excuse" for various things like ducking a debate? Or depress him because no more rallies? Or will he "Carry on like a man" at rallies because he's addicted? We just don't know.

This may be the excuse they wanted under my last chapter "Exit Strategies," to either martyr him or else get him out of the way for a more soothing, low-voiced version of a maniac.

DD: very interesting scenario. Assuming goppers don't rush to the polls to support Pence.

Acacia well put. But I just want him to get laryngitis and to turn beet red at rallies, coughing at supporters who cringe visibly on camera.


Larry Hart said...

@Daniel Duffy,

Dang, you had me smiling all the way through until that Dead Zone re-enactment in your concluding sentence.

jim said...

Well Larry
I see things differently, as you all know I am firmly convinced that modern fossil fuel powered civilization is deep into ecological overshoot and in near total denial about how much civilization would need to change in order for that not to end in disaster for the vast majority of people alive today.

Interacting with you guys has convinced me that we will not voluntarily change the way we live our lives to any where near the degree we need to.

That leaves involuntary change as the only option for now (if there ever comes a time when events have convinced enough people that we really are in ecological overshoot there could be a chance for voluntary constructive change).

If you can put down your knee jerk reaction to hate Trump and see him as a bringer of involuntary change some of his actions actually move us in the right direction. (of course many of his actions are personally corrupt.)

For example, his attack on globalization is absolutely the right thing to do for the vast majority of people in the world. Local supply chains meeting local needs is a critical change that needs to happen in a world with limits to growth.
The dispute with our allies seems to be an attempt to cut some of the entangling ties and get our allies to depend on themselves for their own defense. Again, this is a critical positive change for our allies and helps end the American empire (that we can no longer afford).

His crack down on immigration is sending a message to places with a large young population that you will not be able to ship your “excess” population somewhere else, you will need to find a way for them to live in the country they where born in. And that is a bitter slap in the face but the sooner they realize this the better the chances that they will take their predicament seriously.

And his completely bungled response to the pandemic did more for the environment and climate change in a few months than Democrats have done in thirty years. The airline and travel industries have been drastically downscaled, and the fracking industry is going bankrupt – things that absolutely must happen in any effective response to climate change.

The space force has the potential to become the major force projection arm of the military -replacing foreign bases and aircraft carriers at potentially great savings. (of course it will likely end in the Kessler syndrome – oh well)

And the massive debt that Trump is raking up has the possibility to destroy much of the FIRE (finance, insurance real estate) sector of the economy. Again, something that has to happen in a world facing the limits to growth.

So Trump is moving us in the right direction on some things and is getting the blame for pain associated with the needed change.

Darrell E said...

TCB, Larry & Der Oger,

Yes, the points you've made about the death penalty and torture are important. In my mind they all fall under the "what kind of society do you want to live in" basket. For all the reasons you mention state sanctioned torture and the death penalty influence society in a variety of ways that all work to make it a shittier place to live.

jim said...

David said
“If AOC and Bernie work with the moderates and we get HALF of the money out of politics and HALF of the remaining folks medically covered and gerrymandering chiseled down and many more blue and purple states with automatic or nearly-so voter registration... and maybe expanding voting days... and most red state forced to back away from many of their cheats.”

First of all I got a big chuckle out of how fast you backpedaled from removing all the money from politics to removing half.

But you know, if the democrats actually did that I would be both shocked and happy.

Duncan
I never said both the republican and democratic parties are the same, they are not.
The democrats are more socially liberal and the republicans are socially conservative but they both are handmaidens to their wealthy donors. You know that almost every single congress person spends many hours every work day – dialing for dollars from rich donors (AOC is an exception). And rich folks have a lot of common class based interests.

Darrell E said...

Larry Hart said...
""Acacia H:

To those who say "we shouldn't wish ill on Trump, we're better than that""



I would have said that, before Trump and the Republican Party foreclosed any possibility of loyal opposition or peaceful resistance.
"

I wouldn't condone killing Trump and I don't hope that he dies but I also do not hope that he doesn't die. I am perfectly fine with him dying and I don't feel like I am being immoral, not even remotely. When it comes to truly despicable people like Trump I'm pretty close to Christopher Hitchens' view.

Speaking of Hitchens, I think what he so perfectly said about Jerry Falwell upon his death, live on the Hannity & Colmes show, interjecting in a brief pause between the fulsome praises of other guests, "If you gave Falwell an enema, you could have buried him in a matchbox.," is perfectly on point and appropriate for Trump too.

David Brin said...

jim you are truly psycho if you think DT acted in any way to stop “globalization.” All he did was wreck any chance of world bodies and the TPP moderating the shift to local with attention to workers and citizen needs. Now it will be entirely run by China, the greatest carbon emitter by far, whose 10,000 ship fishing fleets are stripping the ocean of all life, completely free of interference by the international bodies Trump has neutered.

Meanwhile, the worst oligarchs have been totally empowered with all restraints removed, to recreate feudalism.

The one point you made that is not psychopathically and diametrically opposite to true is about decline in airline travel. Not a scintilla of difference to climate change but it certainly is a point that’s not UNtrue, unlike nearly everything else you assert.

Seriously man, you are a real nut job.

But next was worse: “First of all I got a big chuckle out of how fast you backpedaled from removing all the money from politics to removing half.”

You stunningly dishonest twerp! I never said ALL and by saying HALF I was creating a basis for wager. I am hopeful it will be much more than half. But if it IS half, then half of that influence is gone and the AOC types will be able to act on the other half EMPOWERED by the first step. What beats all is your utter disdain for the abilities of your own supposed heroes. If cheating etc are REDUCED then shouldn’t they be better able to make their case?

I waste my time on a jibbering…

…wait… did he actually next set an actual, actual goalpost he’d be willing to live by? “But you know, if the democrats actually did that I would be both shocked and happy.”

There is a corner, hidden inside, that poked out.

Larry Hart said...

Darrell E:

I wouldn't condone killing Trump and I don't hope that he dies but I also do not hope that he doesn't die. I am perfectly fine with him dying and I don't feel like I am being immoral, not even remotely. When it comes to truly despicable people like Trump I'm pretty close to Christopher Hitchens' view.


Agreed on all counts. To the l-ranches of the world, no "hoping someone dies" or "being ok with someone dying" is not the moral equivalent of plotting to kill him.

I'll go further than you on one point. It's not just that Trump is a bad person. He's an actual threat to you, me, and the United States. And his lickspittle Republican Party are making it increasingly difficult to come to a solution to that problem. If he manages to Rapture himself, that might actually be our only hope. I'm not going to pretend not to feel the way I do about that. What end would it serve if I did?

What a stoke of luck that Democratic Senators boycotted meeting with Amy Coney Barrett. This finding has implications beyond Trump himself. "Life tenure" on the supreme court may have just gotten a bit shorter.

jim said...

assuming turn about is fair play

"You stunningly dishonest twerp!" I never said he acted in any way to stop globalization, I said he attacked globalization. (ROTFL)

I apologies for slightly misquoting you, I did not double check your actual wording, but in my mind "most" is closer to "all" than to "half". And you back pedaled to half. And I am still pretty sure the democrats wont do even that.

And by saying this "The one point you made that is not psychopathically and diametrically opposite to true is about decline in airline travel."
Are you saying we are not a fossil fuel powered civilization?
That we are not deep into ecological overshoot?
That we are not voluntarily eliminating our use of fossil fuels?
That much of the fracking industry is going bankrupt?
That the space force does not have the potential to used for force projection?
That the FIRE sector of the economy can't stand the limits to growth?




Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/01/opinion/trump-ethics-immorality.html

During Tuesday night’s debate, by contrast, people got to see, in real time, how Trump’s vicious behavior destroyed an American institution, the presidential debate. They got to see how his savagery made ordinary human conversation impossible. Debate watchers were confronted with a core truth: What Trump did to that debate Tuesday night is what he’ll do to America in a second term.


Which reminds me of a line from Mel Brook's remake of To Be Or Not To Be. A Nazi general is talking to a disguised Mel Brooks, not realizing that the actor he is describing is actually the guy he's talking to.

"What he did to Hamlet? We did to Poland."

Larry Hart said...

Stonekettle on a roll on Twitter:

If you ever wondered what you'd do if Hitler announced he'd caught a deadly disease...

...you're doing it now.

* * *

Anybody else waiting to see how this is Obama's fault?

* * *

Somewhere right now, Hillary is sipping a beer and waiting for the news that Trey Gowdy just tested positive.

Larry Hart said...

A safe prediction:

At a little after 7:00pm California time, Bill Maher will be saying to his audience, "I know why you're happy."

Larry Hart said...

Hmmm, with a train of thought initiated by a Stonekettle comment, I think I may have figured out the plot.

They've got a homeless guy who looks like Trump all COVID-ed up and ready to go. In a few days or weeks, he fakes his own death and joins Jeffrey Epstein in whatever secluded place such people end up in. (Ken Lay: "Someone else is at the door now?")

Larry Hart said...

Trivial but funny...

I just decided to put Olympus Has Fallen on my Netflix. I must have watched part of it before, because it gave me a "resume" option which I didn't take. But when the movie loaded, it flashed an image from the point I had left off at before it jumped back to the beginning.

That image was of a real-life newscaster with a graphic in back that said "White House Under Attack". For a brief second there, my brain thought the tv had gone back to showing the actual network news.

(Maybe you had to be there)

Der Oger said...

@Dr. Brin:"most of your plaints re corporate misbehavior would resolve with vastly increased transparency. A universal, worldwide rule of declared, transparent ownership, eliminating most shells, for example, would let nations CUT taxes for honest people and companies."

Almost forgot to reply ...

... I'll admit that it would help - but, this requires a level of multilateral treaties I don't deem realistic in this age. If you have an idea how this actually could work, I will be open-eared.

Yet, forced transparency is again the "stick" approach ... wonder if there is a "carrot" method out there that does not lead to loosing hands and arms or is ineffectual at all. Positive nudges and all that stuff.

Acacia H. said...

It seems that Trump likely knew he was probably infected with COVID-19 and yet went to a fundraiser anyway. He was in close proximity with a number of Republican donators (the ones with money, not poor folk) and went anyway. We could very well see a number of people come down sick with Covid, people who regularly hand over wads of cash to the Republicans possibly dying or being stricken with long-term effects. And you have to wonder. If you ended up on oxygen for the rest of your life and worrying about strokes and the like, are you going to donate to the party that enabled this behavior and ignored the health and prosperity of their donors?

We start October on a full moon and have already seen some wonderful things as a result. Maybe we shall end on a full moon and see even more delights to come. Sure, 2020 was a shitstorm of a year but if it ends with Republican leadership wiped out? That may be a thing of beauty.

But then, I freely admit to being a horrible person. ;)

Acacia

David Brin said...

Der Oger, thoughtful question. But the 'carrot' is working so your great-grandchildren will live and not be hunted down by vengeful mobs. Most proto-feudal aristos are too stupid to view that as a carrot. And hence... sticks.

LH, the Mel Brooks version was great, tho Jack Benny's was superb.

jim, normally those would be questions worth answering with more than a shrug. But nothing I say penetrates the wall of smug sanctimony and gladness at knowing nothing. Hence I'll simply answer that the fracking industry is going bankrupt in large part because sustainables have dropped in price far faster than even the wildest optimist predicted.

Acacia H. said...

Donald Trump is being hospitalized after showing symptoms of Covid. It's "out of caution."

This is going to be truly fascinating to watch.

Acacia

Alfred Differ said...

Der Oger,

Wouldn't it be better to reward those companies that actually show a behavior beneficial to the society they live in?

I'll take a crack at this. I had a rapid-fire response ready the other day, but held off to think a bit more about it. Here it is.

A 'carrot' to offer besides the stick proposed by our host involves you and your friends and the choices you make with whom you do business. It's the small carrot you offer every day with small businesses with your choices regarding who gets your repeat business. Do you like the service at this shop more than another? How much? Enough to deal with the price difference you see between the two? Ah. Economists can now quantify your preferences, but the more important point is that you have them and make them part of the reward system experienced by the two shops.

How do you do this for larger businesses that are better at hiding the truth from you and me? You get to know some of their employees. Intentionally track them down and try to make friends. Through them you have an insider's insight on which to base future decisions.

For example... where do you bank? Know anyone who works there? Do they feel you should be a customer of their employer? The first financial industry employer of mine did sub-prime loans. I told my friends they didn't want to be one of our customers if they could help it, but that compared to some others we weren't so bad.

Companies do NOT make money if enough of us get upset, so do your part to know whether you should be upset and then share the good ones. Small carrots.

We can all do this without going negative. Carrots instead of boycotts.

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH: "Anybody else waiting to see how this is Obama's fault?"

There's already rumours that liberals painted the virus on Trump's mike or podium during the debate, and that QAnon nut running for Senate in Georgia has claimed that China somehow slipped the virus to Trump in solution. (Well, maybe if they painted it on Putin's penis...)

Goofy conspiracy theories aren't limited to the right. There's one making the rounds on our side that the whole thing is being faked, that Trump is perfectly healthy but just pretending to be sick for a sympathy vote and/or to duck out of the next debate.

No matter what happens with Trump, one very good thing will come out of this: the deniers will have to stop pretending the pandemic is a hoax, or that masks are a government plot. Oh, there will be some, because for some people crazy is a chronic condition, but their power and influence will collapse.

TCB said...

I just read the following on Reddit, re the ACB nomination and COVID, copypasted in full.
---------------------------------------------------

COVID-19 watch list of senators who attended the Rose Garden event.

Josh Hawley (Mo.)
Thom Tillis (N.C.) - positive as of Friday evening
Deb Fischer (Neb.)
Ben Sasse (Neb.)
Kelly Loeffler (Ga.)
Mike Lee (Utah) - positive as of Friday morning
Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.)
Senators who met with Amy Coney Barrett a few days ago

McConnell (KY)
Grassley (IA)
Hoven (ND)
Josh Hawley (MO)
Mike Lee (UT) - positive
Mike Crapo (ID)
If ACB [Amy Coney Barrett] ends up being the super spreader...combined with Trump's events...and the GOP's refusal to wear masks...

Updated: Tillis is now positive too...nearly 30% of GOP senators who attended ACB nomination are now covid-19 positive https://www.wbtv.com/2020/10/02/nc-senator-thom-tillis-tests-positive-covid-/

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

The GOP are now legit worried they may have too many sick senators to confirm their new fascist judge.

Acacia H. said...

And now Trump is staying overnight at Walter Reeds medical facility. This is not something that happens very often given the on-site medical facilities at the White House. In addition, Trump is undergoing an experimental and not-FDA-approved treatment. So things are definitely looking most interesting here.

Acacia

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Goofy conspiracy theories aren't limited to the right. There's one making the rounds on our side that the whole thing is being faked, that Trump is perfectly healthy but just pretending to be sick for a sympathy vote and/or to duck out of the next debate.


That's Trump's own fault. Can we really believe anything he says? Anything his spokespeople say? Anything his doctors say?

I don't see any kind of equivalence between goofy, dangerous variations on "The Democrats or a particular foreign country did this/" and goofy extrapolations of "Maybe Trump is lying," which comes close to self-evident truth.

David Brin said...

" the deniers will have to stop pretending the pandemic is a hoax,"

So? moving the goalposts is now second nature to them. Facts? What're those? And what I said yesterday ain't shit.

Amazing re the rate for GOP senators.

Again, no way he'd fake it if it meant an end to rallies, his one joy in life. My top conspiracy theory is Putin/Murdoch are taking him out as a liability. Look up "Howard Beale."

Alfred Differ said...

Thinking this will halt the SCOTUS nominee is wishful thinking. McConnell will appoint interim replacements for the committee and things will move along.

They have until inauguration day in Jan 2021 to do it. No rush.

The danger is if they die and Dem Senators don't. Some are old enough to be in danger, but a 1 in 20 chance at an advanced age probably won't get enough quickly enough. Remember Pence is the tie breaker.

David Brin said...

Another danger... Unlikely... sick bed conversions to decency. Yeah, I write sci fi.

Alfred Differ said...

Ha! Sounds more like romantic fantasy. Wish it wasn't. 8)

George Carty said...

Larry Hart,

Why do people think this helps Trump? It puts the lie to his "strategy" of ignoring the dangers of contagion. It disproves the "Democratic hoax" thing.

I wasn't thinking of the "Covid as complete hoax" fringe so much as the "Covid as an act of war by China against the West" viewpoint, specifically the claim that the West (except for Sweden) was terrified into imposing lockdowns (and destroying their own economies) by social media trolls working for the Chinese government.

I myself am highly skeptical of China's claims to have brought the virus under control by lockdowns, as two of the worst-hit countries in the entire world (Belgium and Peru) had strict lockdowns.

The real key to escaping the virus seems to be to keep foreigners out and quarantine all returning citizens: this is how Taiwan and New Zealand were so successful (and Taiwan didn't even impose a lockdown domestically!). Naturally this is only really practical for islands (or South Korea, which is a de facto island as its only land border is literally a minefield), but I could see how a xenophobic candidate like Trump could take advantage of that fact, glossing over the fact that he only sought to exclude Chinese nationals from the US, when what was actually needed was to quarantine all people entering the US from abroad, even US citizens.

Nevertheless, China is trying to keep the West in lockdown as long as possible by selling the claim that lockdowns (in China) defeated the virus, and that if lockdowns fail in the West it is because they weren't draconian enough – this is also good for China as it helps spread totalitarian values.

I expect that pool party in Wuhan (and other video footage designed to portray a China completely returned to normal) was staged propaganda: while they wouldn't have had to force people to participate in these events (as the Nazis had to in their Theresienstadt propaganda film) it wouldn't surprise me if everyone depicted in these videos was pre-selected and quarantined for two weeks prior to the filming.

Der Oger said...

Dr. Brin: "Another danger... Unlikely... sick bed conversions to decency. Yeah, I write sci fi."

In that case, the Goppers might enact the 25th amendment, since the president clearly shows mental health issues. Or they react like this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jdf5EXo6I68

:-)

TCB said...

@ Larry Hart, it is my pet theory that the vast majority of conspiratorial thinking is directly or indirectly rooted in an environment of governmental/elite/authority secrecy. If the people running things are not transparent, everybody else has a survival need to guess at what is really going on. The poorer the information environment, the the wilder the plausible possibilities get.

Our info environment is so toxic we don't trust the president's own doctor. Check this tweet for an angry Chris Wallace.

https://twitter.com/aravosis/status/1312054056869920769?s=19

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

They have until inauguration day in Jan 2021 to do it. No rush.


That's no rush to get her appointed to the court during the lame duck session.

There's a bit more of a rush to have her available to rule on Trump v Biden when he tries to claim an illegitimate victory. Ted Cruz's comment about "Imagine a 4-4 court..." indicates that they don't trust Roberts to help them cheat. ACB's presence or absence on the court may be decisive.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry, I think the fact that two dozen people in Trump's immediate circle have contracted COVID make the changes he doesn't have it and is 'faking it' vanishingly small. I also think that while he is a major manipulator, he isn't the sort to try to play off peoples' feeling of empathy and compassion since both are so alien to him.

Doctor, I know you don't want vicious displays of schadenfruede here and respect that. But I do believe the best thing that could possibly happen for the country would be if he were succumb to this disease. If he does recover (and going in, there's a 5 in six chance that he will) then he's likely to come out and say things like, "See? It's nothing! You don't need masks or social distancing! Now get back to work!" and we lose another 200,000 people. As you say, his followers will be quite happy to incorporate that, and anything short of Trump's actual death will allow them to "move the goalposts."

Yes, you write SF. But right now we're in a Joe Abercrombie novel.

scidata said...

Had a long chat recently with a mech engineer who does ship interiors and VR-AR set design for some of the current and upcoming SF TV series. She described how shows like "Foundation" and "Strange New Worlds" have a very optimistic, Asimovian vision. Thank heaven for that. If I see one more conflict-driven series about angry aliens and even angrier humans, I may turn to pulp fiction books and game shows. She said it's hard to find good futuristic (0-500 years) predictions and do basic research on hard SF. Imagining original content is serious work. I recommended Asimov, Gibson, and Brin.

Idiocracy: The 'Notorious + initials' handle does not magically turn a Stepford Wife into a Ginsburg, RNA strands cannot be grifted or bullied, and science is nobody's bitch (neither demagogues nor the Ivory Tower's).




Larry Hart said...

TCB:

Our info environment is so toxic we don't trust the president's own doctor.


I heard a news conference with Trump's medical staff at around noon Saturday. The press pointedly asked whether the president has been on oxygen during this episode, and all the doctor kept repeating was "He's not on oxygen right now." Repeatedly.

I am amused by the similarity to "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is.", but note seriously that anyone with half a brain can deduce that the absolute refusal to say anything other than "He's not on oxygen right now" implies strongly that he was a few hours ago or a day ago.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Larry, I think the fact that two dozen people in Trump's immediate circle have contracted COVID make the changes he doesn't have it and is 'faking it' vanishingly small.


Sure, now. Friday morning, that much was not known. I'm not making the claim that he's faking it, but I'm saying that (at first glance), it was a reasonable assumption, and not at all "the same thing as" accusations from the right that Biden or China managed to purposely infect Trump.

David Brin said...

Zepp I didn't say he shouldn't suffer. A week of pain and one of nausea would be nice, followed by laryngitis.

Asian countries (east) may have fewer of the Neanderthal haplotypes. South Asians appear very susceptible.

David Brin said...

The images of indoor hug sessions at the ACB ceremony at the WH should crush most "Democrats smeared Trump's microphone!" hysterias. But the head of the Secret Service should denounce that one with rage at the insult to his agents.

Larry Hart said...

scidata:

She described how shows like "Foundation" and "Strange New Worlds" have a very optimistic, Asimovian vision. Thank heaven for that. ... She said it's hard to find good futuristic (0-500 years) predictions and do basic research on hard SF.


See, I don't think Foundation (1950s version) or Star Trek (1960s version) were ever meant to be predictions. We do them a disservice when we retroactively judge them on how accurately their vision conforms or fails to conform to real life. The most they were striving for in that sense was plausibility--that a contemporary reader could comfortably feel that the story was taking place in some future time.

scidata said...

Larry Hart: The most they were striving for in that sense was plausibility

True, but if someone gives you $1million and tells you to design a ship's interior, it had better not wind up looking like some slimy Wraith abode with dragon scales on the walls. The key term is 'hard SF'. By 'optimistic', I infer 'achievable' by admittedly flawed human societies. Otherwise, you might as well get OSC to write it. [SF vs Fantasy debate].

TheMadLibrarian said...

Apropos of very little: Democrats who believe in germ theory and have been taking appropriate measures have overwhelmingly not contracted COVID. Republicans, OTOH, who have been following the Rage Mango's lead in eschewing masks, cramming into enclosed areas for rallies, and basically ignoring all reasonable anti-infection measures, have been catching the bug wholesale. This last week where so many top WH staff have been testing positive is a big data point on this. I do, however, feel sorry for the grunts who come down with it who are not dyed-in-the-wool Trump sycophants; the janitors, typing pool and errand runners who are in it mainly for a job and the prestige of saying 'I worked at the WH', regardless of who occupies the Oval Office.

Hmm. Belief (or not) in the scientific method as predictor of susceptibility.

I'm wondering if we will discover COVID Typhoid Marys, who are super spreaders yet unaffected themselves.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Doctor: I'm willing to settle for a couple of months of misery and general incapacitation in return for severe damage to the "it's fake news" conspiracy theory. Too many people still believe that it's not real, or not serious, or not immediately dangerous. The events of this week are the start of putting a large dent in that fatal misapprehension.

Gotta love Trump's doctor! "I didn't mean 72 hours! I meant three days!" Let's ... not ... ask him to measure the doses, OK?

Hard to tell what Trump's actual health status is. The GOP have made Kremlin-watchers of us all.

Scidata and Larry: SF isn't meant to be predictive. It's a look at what could be, and the best has plausible levels of science and humanity. "Magic boxes" (like the baking machines in Kiln People") are fine, but the real writing goes into how they affect society at large and the characters in particular.

David Brin said...

Three comments okayed but only one shows up here. Did some of you reply to earlier postings?

SO now Chris Christie. But I am saving my schadenfreude dor Giuliani.

Note in the exit strategies chapter I spoke of a possibility... Republican senators playing sick so they can do something right while not triggering their blackmailers. It'd be perfect for Graham to do... and he won't because he's tipped completely over into pure evil.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I see I'm the lucky one. I replied to your post and shoehorned LH and Scidata in on the reply.

Republican Senators "faking it". Yes, that one is plausible. Barrett is sheer poison and they know it. Several Senators who enjoyed comfortable leads just a month ago are now trailing in their races, including McConnell. We already have two GOP cases on the Judiciary Committee, which could (in theory) stall the confirmation for at least a month.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

It'd be perfect for Graham to do... and he won't because he's tipped completely over into pure evil.


Agreed. For a long time, it seemed as if LG was motivated by fear of blackmail, but he seems to have drunk the Polonium Kool-Aid and actually become a Trumpist. Some sort of Stockholm Syndrome going on, perhaps.

Larry Hart said...

I like this one, which I will present without further comment:

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2020/Pres/Maps/Oct04.html#item-2

To close: "I have never killed any one, but I have read some obituaries with great satisfaction." - Clarence Darrow

Larry Hart said...

The greatest political ad around, using actual Lindsay Graham footage (albeit old footage) to blast Trump. I don't know if it works better as an anti-Trump ad aimed at sensible conservatives or as an anti-Graham ad aimed at deplorables. Either way is ok with me.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5Xpwyd4aMM

Robert said...

China's claims to have brought the virus under control by lockdowns

Don't forget masks. My niece in Beijing was horrified to see pictures from Europe and America of people not wearing masks. Everyone in China was wearing them (and still are, at least where she goes).

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin: Happy Birthday, Dr. Brin!
May you live to be as old as Moses!

Keith Halperin