Saturday, October 17, 2020

More: What Would Adults Do? Or what MUST Democrats do, if they get power? Chapter 13 (part 2) of Polemical Judo

 Last time we covered the minimum things that are desperately needed, in order to save the Republic and our narrow, fantastic Enlightenment Experiment. 

I listed 31 things that have been mentioned or invoked by Biden, Pelosi, Harris, AOC, Bernie and many decent Republicans as tremendous areas of common ground, allowing us all to end the cheating, restore our alliances, bring back accountability, resume respect for facts/science, end capricious abuses of presidential power, and so on. 

Alas, you will find such a trim, straightforward list nowhere else, not even from Speaker Pelosi.

This time I will complete the chapter with proposals of my own!  Some will look familiar to many of you... for example I have been shouting for two decades that all of the inspectors general of the US Government should report to a neutral officer - the Inspector General of the United States - who is insulated by law from the kinds of outrageous pressures we've recently seen applied, by those evading accountability.

IGUS may be familiar to you. But do you recall my proposed way to make it impossible for a majority to trample a Congressional minority's power of oversight, ever again? 

This chapter assumes we'll win this phase of the Civil War and discusses what to do with that victory. It's important that somebody do this.

But first... as usual... a few news items.

== Hot blips from this week ==

Trump is clearly lying with statistics when he said the economy before COVID was only due to him. Most of the improvement happened under the Obama administration. And yet, my own chart is even better!

In the early days of the pandemic, President Trump downplayed the virus, while his economic advisers were telling wealthy donors otherwise, enabling them to shift investments and profit from a crisis that hurt the rest of us. No wonder the Adelsons are using Chinese Communist Party cash - laundered in their Macao casinos - to funnel a staggering $75 million into a Trump-backing super PAC.

A different Pac - or pack of capering MAGA faux-intellects concocted this meme image to mock my ongoing challenge for any Fox-quoters to step up with large, escrowed stakes for manly wagers over any of their faux memes, from QAnon spells to Clinton incantations, all the way to ocean acidification and “deep state” allegations. 

They always flee when you demand cash money on the line - escrowed, because they can't be trusted to pay - in bets over provable/falsifiable assertions, to be judged by panels of senior, retired military officers.
It always works! Well, not to make money… the chickens always, always run away… sometimes squawking “I posted a jpeg-link and won!” Then, when the coast seems clear, as soon as the dust of their cowardice settles, they resume their traitor-fanatic war on all fact-using professions.


And now back to Polemical Judo... as if anyone pays attention to ideas anymore...

Second half -- What we could accomplish, if the way ahead opened…

 

 

Chapter 13 of Polemical Judo

 

Can We Make A Deal? “What would adults do?”

 

(Second half)

 

 

4.  True Judo. Do the unexpected.  

 

All right, those lists (that we posted here last time, from part 1 of Chapter 13) concentrated on measures that might be taken right away, even as committees and conferences begin pondering more complex issues, like long-term health care. Prominent Democrats should offer such lists, reminding splitters how briefly they held real power, in 1993 and 2009.

 

Now I want to do something that keeps faith with the title of this book. In section 4, below, we’ll offer judo moves that would make Newt Gingrich – at his most agile – seem a clunking doofus. We’re about to propose…

 

- 4.1  How the majority can both establish new precedents and gain huge public cred, by doing the unexpected… by honoring losing side.[1]

 

- 4.2 A sudden and unexpected judo move: give every House member one subpoena per termPlus modest suggestions about floor votes and filibusters!

 

- 4.3 We’ll know we’re emerging from this childish era – that Robert Heinlein predicted as the “crazy years” – when candidates agree to stipulation![2]

 

- 4.4 Here’s a choice one that’ll stick in their craws. Judo enact the ‘good parts” of Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America!” This would convey a sense of maturity and willingness to take ideas from all directions. Plus it pokes the GOP, revealing that all pretense at reform was just another lie. But we’ll make it good. And it collapses the meme that Joe & Kamala are radicals.

 

- 4.5 And I’ll say more about one reform I think could make the most difference. Establishing the office and independent agency of the Inspector General of the United States.   

 

Let’s begin with one of my older (lightly updated) political posts. And yes, it seems naïve in an era I now call civil war. But gestures like the following could help lure millions of citizens back to civilized argument.

 

4.1 Honoring tens of millions of American “losers.” [3]

 

As we launch into another Presidential campaign, get ready for the same tiresome metaphors relating politics to sports, to war and even to revenge. The front-runner will fight to maintain his or her lead over the underdog in key battleground states where crucial clumps of electors are awarded by winner-takes-all. Those on the victorious side will gather every marble, leaving citizens on the losing side bitterly muttering about getting even next time.

 

Are we really on opposing armies, bent on total victory over our neighbors? Yes, elections and majority rule constitute a vast improvement over coercive aristocracies of the past. Still, majority rule isn't perfect. A nation that treats the losing minority with contempt is asking for trouble.  (And yes, this includes those lonely “flyover states who feel so neglected – whether it’s true or not.)

 

In fact, majority rule is already tempered in American political life. Congress seldom passes a law supported by just 51% of the people, while vigorously opposed by nearly half. Minority objections are eased by negotiation and tradeoffs. Small but intensely passionate lobbies may effectively veto measures that are desired only tepidly by much greater majorities. This dance of factions can be frustrating when popular measures get sidetracked by vigorous advocacy groups like, say, the National Rifle Association. And yes, that is still a far cry from consensus – especially in recent years.

 

Things are different in the Executive Branch. Consider Ronald Reagan's "landslide" victory over Walter Mondale in 1984, or Lyndon Johnson's over Barry Goldwater in 1964. If your candidate wins by a 60/40 vote margin, you can legitimately call it a ringing victory, but it still means four in ten voting citizens did not want your guy in office. To that forty percent, the word "mandate" translates as – drop dead! All the more so after a close election, or – as we all saw in 2000 (and 2016) – when odd-suspicious electoral quirks put in office the man with fewer popular votes. Even if Al Gore had come out ahead in the Florida recounts – or Hillary visited Wisconsin – eking Electoral College victory to accompany their popular vote win, would that razor-thin endorsement entitle them to claim a clear cut mantle of history?

 

Can 50.1 percent legitimately ignore the wishes of 49.9 percent who disagreed?

 

The European model of coalition parliamentary government offers little to America. We've seen benefits to letting a president appoint loyal officers, governing without undue interference from within. Still, George Washington understood the temptations of human nature, which can transform well-meaning leaders into lonely monarchs, broody, isolated, and paranoid. It is disturbing to witness our top elected official insulate himself (as has happened often in living memory) with all access to the inner sanctum barred by an ideologically driven staff, justified by a sense of entitlement, cultural mandate and narrow-minded mission. [4]

 

An inquiring press can help to moderate this trend, as do Constitutional checks and balances. Yet, more is needed, like some way to honor the millions of Americans who lose each election – whether by squeaker or landslide –ensuring that their concerns will at least be heard.

 

There is precedent. Originally, the Constitution awarded a prize for second place – the Vice Presidency. After near-disaster in 1804 the system was amended, making the VP more a deputy, chosen by the winning party. Still, it’s clear the Founders intended for the losing side to get something.[5]

 

So, might there be some way to acknowledge the losing minority – or even a losing majority – without grinding their face in humiliation, making them determined to do likewise, when their turn comes around? First, here's an idea that may seem a bit silly. Imagine how it might have mollified millions of Democrats, and created a more collegial atmosphere after the bitter election of 2000, if just one of George W. Bush's electors had switched sides when it came to the vote for Vice President. By helping install a Democrat as VP, they could have made a gesture toward government by negotiation, consensus and respect, while still handing the reins of actual power to their chosen man. All right, that suggestion is far-fetched (if thought provoking.)

 

But here’s another one that's plausible, requiring no miracles or kludges, no meddling in the Constitution or legitimate powers of the chief executive. Yet, it’s so reasonable that only a churl could possibly refuse. Imagine a candidate or new President-Elect making the following pledge:

 

“If I win, I promise to ask my honorable opponent to pick a panel of Americans who will have control over my appointment calendar one afternoon per month. And I expect my opponent to serve on that panel. On that afternoon, I shall meet with – and listen to – any individuals or delegations that panel may choose. Millions of Americans will then know that I do not live in a tower of ideological isolation. I will answer questions and hear dissenting points of view.”

 

Such a pledge would cost a candidate and president little to make or to fulfill. There is no obligation to act on what the delegations say, only to be accessible, listening occasionally to more than one ideology. More than one brain trust of cloned advisors. Indeed, the legitimacy of any administration will be enhanced if we see the president receive articulate, passionate emissaries, representing diverse opinions and walks of life.

 

During the first era of our republic, private citizens used to knock on the door of the White House and ask to see their nation's leader. As recently as the time of Harry Truman, there was a slim chance of seeing the president somewhere in public, buying socks for real, not as a publicity stunt. There is genuine peril in losing this connection between power and everyday life. So, if today's president cannot safely venture among us, representatives of sundry outlooks should have a route to him or her. Not just public figures, but individuals from the ranks of the poor and dispossessed might win a chance to plead their case before the highest official in the land. Even if such meetings don't benefit multitudes, at least a few worthy petitioners might get hearings, and possibly some justice.

 

Moreover, this would give those tens of millions who lost the election something. A token – or perhaps more. A vow to listen. If a nominee's goal is to live as a potentate, insulated from his or her countrymen, this is one pledge to avoid. But if the aim is to be president of all Americans, then what harm could such a promise do?

 

4.2 The Subpoena Individuation

 

This idea’s simple. Spread the power of subpoena – and include the minority party! 

 

Why should Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her committee chairs do this, when that minority party is Republican? 


Seriously Congressional Democrats; remember, a day will come when you'll be back on the outs. (The lesson of 1994 and 2010!) Now is the time to set permanent precedents and rules that ensure you'll still have a little power to poke after truth. Establish processes now so that even a congressional minority can hold some future Bush-like or Trump-like administration somewhat accountable!

 

One way: give today's GOP minority what they never had the maturity to give you – the general power to summon witnesses and demand some answers, even when their party is out of power.

 

Better yet, give every individual member of the House one subpoena per term, that can compel testimony from any person before one of that member's sub-committees for three hours. Or if that’s too much, allow any three representatives to jointly issue one subpoena per year beyond those voted by committees – and provide a venue with some staff support. That should cause some backroom wrangling! One for every three members – that’s 140 member-chosen testimonies... maybe sixty a year – or per term – from the minority party. A large enough number to make sure that pokes-at-truth will keep going on, even during eras when a single party machine dominates every branch of government. And yet, it's small enough not to disrupt House business overmuch.

 

Think about it. Pelosi and Schumer can afford that. It wouldn’t block legislation. Would some mad-rightists use their subpoenas to annoy? BFD! Just imagine how valuable that would have been for minority Democrats, during the first two years of the Trump Era.

 

There’s another aspect to this. Many Republicans would feel motivated to break party discipline and hoard their subpoenas for use in some way that impresses the home district. And thus, it could help shatter their caucus cohesion, encouraging individual autonomy![6]

 

The public relations benefits are clear, demolishing forever any accusations that “Democrats run roughshod over minority party rights.” 


And if Republicans later reneged? That would also be a black eye before the American public. (And individual GOP reps might rebel.)

 

When I first offered this proposal it was 2007 and Democrats in the House seemed to be riding high. I added: “There is no way that Speaker Pelosi and the leadership will want to do this, now that the GOP is reduced to an irksome nuisance. Still, please think about it. Just giving them the right to grill a few people won't let them do much mischief to an open and honest and competent Obama Administration. Meanwhile, such a precedent could guarantee we'll never again have an era as dark as the Bush years, without the other side getting to light some candles.” 

 

Was I naïve? Or would we have been better off right now, if this precedent had been set back then?

 

Here are a couple more judo procedural moves that could maybe dilute leader power, a little, but inspire citizens to know which party’s on their side:

 

In both House and Senate, let any 45% minority bring up to five votes per month to the chamber floor. 

 

- First replace the idiotic tacit filibuster (60 votes needed to advance a bill) with the old-style talk-filibuster. But even more effective a partial reform – try treating filibusters like sports timeouts. Your party starts each session with a fixed number. When they’re gone, they’re gone. 

 

 

4.3 Why Candidates Should Stipulate

 

The previous two proposals for cross-party outreach don’t require that both sides be mature. They show how the winners of an election might gain favor with voters by both appearing – and truly being – the better and more grownup party, establishing precedents that could serve us all well.

 

The next one truly does require that both sides be capable of rising above the fray, with some sincerity and wisdom. [7] Yeah, yeah, I’m a scifi-fantasy author. But as Garth said in Wayne’s World, “Hey, it could happen!”

 

Let’s start with a flawed example that stands out, instructive even in its failure. In 2008, Nancy Pelosi – then Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives – sat with former Speaker Newt Gingrich on a small couch in front of the Capitol, to film a brief joint statement.[8] They began with a charming – some might say artless – admission that they had few areas of agreement. But the pair then went on to urge action on the pressing matter of climate change. No specific methods came up, whether government or incentives for industry. Both did avow faith in our ability to develop clean, efficient energy systems, if we make it a priority.

 

Alas, what followed was emblematic of this (so far) benighted century. Fox and the GOP establishment raged at Gingrich, eviscerating his betrayal of the Hastert Rule against seeking common ground with the enemy. [9] So volcanic was the response, especially from Republican donors, that Newt unctuously swerved back into line.[10] And yes, I’m beginning this section on “stipulation” with an abject failure – but a colorful one, that’s still a bit inspiring.

 

It’s been said that a politician gets to be perfectly honest just once in a long career – at its end. Refreshing candor sometimes pours after an old pol has faced the last campaign. No more fund raisers, or need to flatter voters. One final chance, before the cameras, to tell the truth.

 

Not all retiring officials spill their hearts, but when they do it can be colorful. Take the day in 1991 when both Republican Senator Warren Rudman and Democrat Paul Tsongas withdrew from public life. They made headlines by jointly suggesting that everyone was at fault for the country's condition at the time, from then-President Bush to the then Democrat-controlled Congress, all the way to the American people. The pair castigated politicians of all parties for not telling citizens that burgeoning budget deficits threatened our economic well-being. Responsible economists agreed. A few even credit Rudman and Tsongas for spurring reforms that helped lead to the Clinton era surpluses.

 

A more recent example of post-retirement candor came with ex-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill’s revelations about the second Bush Administration. It resulted in a fire storm of attacks from his own party. O’Neill’s explanation for this candor? That he was “old and rich” and unafraid to speak his mind.

 

However one feels about those specific examples, we can all agree they are rare. One of the chief flaws of our electoral system is that real candor is punished. Both sides may rail against each other, but they'll never aim bad news at us. Even if both nominees believe in their hearts that the public needs to face some hard truth, neither will dare be first to say it, lest the other side take advantage. Think about it. Throughout the coming election we will learn how the candidates disagree on a myriad issues, plus platitudes that voters want to hear. But logically, there’s a third category – areas where these well-informed professionals agree with each other, but are afraid to speak out. We’ll never hear whatever topics or beliefs occupy that logical box, because neither candidate will dare speak first.

 

Now consider: there’s no political cost to telling voters what you really believe... if your opponent says the same thing.[11]

 

Yeah, that statement sounds absurdly simpleminded. The metaphor for an election “give ‘em hell” combat. But wait. What's wrong with two leaders finding a patch of consensus amid a sea of discord? We cheer when heads of state overcome differences between nations, finding common ground. Why not between candidates?

 

It’s called stipulation... as when the attorneys representing opposite sides in a trial agree to agree about a set of points, helping move the trial forward by focusing thereafter on areas where they disagree. So will you bear with me for a "what-if" thought experiment? A weird, but possible scenario? [12]

 

Sure, it's absurd to even imagine this happening with Donald Trump. But suppose, amidst the 2008 campaign, Republican candidate John McCain and his Democratic opponent Barack Obama were to suspend mutual attacks to meet for an afternoon. First, they and their staffs would cover issues such as scheduling debates, and how to prevent spirals of mudslinging. The people would applaud any agreement on fair campaigning principles. Heck, just seeing them talk to each other like adults might be refreshing. Think how the image might affect the rancorous mood we see in politics today, independent of policy disagreements.

 

So far, so good. Only then suppose the two nominees do something unprecedented. They go for a walk, unpressured by cameras and media flacks, seeking just a few points of consensus.

 

Don’t dismiss this too readily! For all his faults, McCain did this sort of thing before. So have Democrats like Bill or Hillary Clinton and Obama. Oh, neither candidate will change the other's mind concerning major divisions. But here we have two knowledgeable public persons, concerned about America's future. Surely there would be some areas of overlap? Things that both of them feel we, as a nation, should do.

 

Now imagine that this overlap results in a joint statement. Though reiterating a myriad points of disagreement, they go on to make public, simultaneously, their shared belief that America should, for its own good, pass law “X”, or repeal restriction “Y” or reform a particular flaw. Further, they agree that neither will attack the other for taking this stand.

 

No longer pandered to, a lot of folks might say – “Gosh, if both of them agree that the country needs this strong medicine, let's give it some thought.”

 

This would not free candidates from the stifling effects of mass-politics. But it could let them display something we've seen rarely... leadership. Even statesmanship. Setting aside self-interest in favor of hard truth, telling the people what they need to hear, whether they like it or not.

 

Unprecedented? Well, actually, it happened before, during the Presidential campaign of 1940. When Franklin Roosevelt was running for a third term, he approached the Republican candidate, Wendell Wilkie, to negotiate just such a stipulated agreement in the area of foreign policy. Britain badly needed escort vessels for the North Atlantic and the U.S. had over-age destroyers to spare. But Roosevelt feared political repercussions during a campaign in which he was already under attack for breaking neutrality. Wilkie agreed to FDR’s request, and declared that lend-lease would be his policy too, if he were elected.

 

Everyone benefited – Wilkie rose in stature. FDR got his policy implemented, and the world was better off because political advantage got briefly put aside for the common good. On other issues, Roosevelt and Wilkie battled as fiercely as ever. Yet, that historical act of stipulation shines as in memory.

 

How might today's politics differ if two adults – each the standard bearer of a major party – agreed to let it be known how, in a few ways, they agree? Might they take on some of our most politically impossible subjects? Perhaps a cow as sacred as the Social Security retirement age, a compromise on gun control, some campaign finance reform, or perhaps shifting strategy in the endless, brain-dead War on Drugs? That would still leave plenty for us to fight over, don't worry.

 

Is this quixotic proposal too much to ask of today's opportunistic brand of politician?[13] Perhaps. Still, American politics can evolve. Only during the most recent generation has the tradition of Presidential debates become so entrenched that no front-runner can now duck them. Ancient hurdles of age, race, and gender are falling. So why not barriers against candor?

 

Might the Candidates’ Post-Convention Stipulation Summit become traditional, like doldrums in July and mudslinging in October? Someday, the whole nation may look forward to the occasion, once every four years, with a sort of delicious, nervous anticipation – awaiting the one day when two eminent politicians will say not what is politically wise, but what is simply wise.

 

Now let’s put that dreamy fantasy aside, and get back to metaphors of war.

 

 

4.4 Judo enact the ‘good parts” of Newt Gingrich’s “Contract With America!” 

 

All right, I am beating this drum pretty hard. But the best way to learn judo is by defeating it! Remember, too, that the “good parts”[14] truly did attract millions to believe (*cough*) that Gingrich’s party wanted reform:

 

Among the better “contract” ideas that were betrayed:

 

- requiring all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
 

- arranging for regular comprehensive audits of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
 

- limiting the terms of all committee chairs and party leadership posts;
 

- banning the casting of proxy votes in committee and law-writing by lobbyists;
 

- requiring committee meetings to be open to the public;
 

- guaranteeing an honest accounting of our Federal Budget.

 

Elsewhere I point to ways that this good promise – and subsequent hypocritical betrayal – could launch into genuine Congressional reforms, starting with restoring independent advisory agencies for science, technology other areas of skilled analysis, to counsel Congress without bias or dogma-driven pressure. [15]  This might ensure that technical reports may not be re-written by politicians - or worse, lobbyists -changing their meaning at the last minute.

 

As I’ve said repeatedly it would convey a sense of maturity, plus really dig at the GOP, saying clearly that they had been liars. And yet still, we’ll cull the bad and enact the stuff the people really wanted, turning lies into truth.

 

 

4.5 Create the office of Inspector General of the United States…[16]

 

…or IGUS, who will head a uniformed agency akin to the Public Health Service, charged with protecting the ethical health of government. It’s something I’ve long pushed – (it’s in the FACT Act) - that could make more of a difference than any other proposal. 

 

And yes, I saved this one – likely the most important suggestion of all – till the very end of the chapter. 

 

Currently, the inspectors – or IGs – in all government agencies experience some conflict of interest, having to investigate people who appointed them and to whom they are beholden. That will change when IGs are appointed out of a dedicated and disciplined service, reporting directly to IGUS. 

 

The Inspector General of the United States will advise the President and Congress concerning potential breaches of the law and will have authority, independent of the Justice Department, to summon grand juries. IGUS will create a corps of trusted observers, cleared to go anywhere and assure the American people that the government is still theirs, to own and control.[17]


And yes, I am dreaming to even imagine that politicians - even the good guys - will be at all interested in fresh strategic... or even tactical... ideas. Alack.


Footnotes

[1]   Honoring the losing side. http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/losingmajority.html

 

[2]  Candidates might show their maturity through… stipulation! http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/candidatestipulation.html

 

[3] Originally posted: http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/losingmajority.html

 

[4] Yes, I wrote this long before Donald Trump got installed by elements wishing us harm.

 

[5] President Lincoln famously appointed former Whigs and Democrats to his Republican Cabinet. The Team of Rivals. https://www.amazon.com/Team-Rivals-Political-Abraham-Lincoln

 

[6] Again, if gopper reps used theirs, while in minority, then it could establish a firm precedent for when – not if – Democrats slump back into exile! Think how valuable that would have been, during the 22 out of 26 years the GOP owned the House. Especially 2017-2019, when that rule could have peeled away at Trumpian travesties.

 

[7] http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/candidatestipulation.html

 

[8] Pelosi-Gingrich “couch commercial” jointly urging climate action. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qi6n_-wB154

 

[9] https://www.foxnews.com/politics/gingrich-feels-the-heat-for-appearing-in-global-warming-ad-with-pelosi

 

[10] So furious was the reaction from the right that Gingrich made abject pilgrimages of abasement before the Koch Brothers and other GOP powers, banishing forever-more his science-loving-statesman side and doubling down on the ‘loyal-gladiator.’ His reward for vociferously supporting Donald Trump was to be the only major GOP leader between Reagan and Ryan honored – or even mentioned - at the 2016 Republican National Convention. Pelosi, too, took some flack from her left – which she easily shrugged off, as a large majority of Democrats approved. The lesson? Courage and enlightenment ain’t easy. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/gingrich-feels-the-heat-for-appearing-in-global-warming-ad-with-pelosi

 

[11] But… but Newt on the couch! Okay, I wrote this in a slightly more hopeful time. But such times may come again.

 

[12] Again, this book is a mélange of edited and update essays, articles and postings I’ve written over the years. That explains much of the irksome repetition! And also some of these time travel artifacts that I’ve decided to leave in place.

 

[13] Reminder, except for some light updating, this essay is from mid 2008. And yes, I know how absurd it looks, slipping Donald Trump or Mike Pence into this scenario. But, times can and must change.

 

[14] “Should Democrats Issue Their Own 'Contract with America'?” http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/contract.html

 

[15] http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/advisoryagencies.html

 

[16] http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/inspectorgeneral.html

 

[17] IGUS will be appointed by a commission consisting of all past presidents and retired justices of the US Supreme Court, with advice and consent of Congress. Note a historical item. When Sun Yatsen crafted the 1911 constitution of the Republic of China, he established the Inspectorate as a separate branch of government, independent of the Executive and even the Judiciary.

 

91 comments:

Larry Hart said...


“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.”


Translation: I already voted. :)

Ahcuah said...

A couple of items:

First, early on in this piece, you talk about "my own chart". The link there seems to be borked. When I tried to find it, I wasn't sure what you were pointing to. Was it this one? So Do Outcomes Matter More than Rhetoric?, from 2014.

Next, I am less than optimistic about the Office of Inspectors General. As long as it is under the Executive Branch, it is subject to being corrupted, as we have seen with Trump's firings of any Inspector General who crosses him. Also, given the (soon-to-be) composition of the Supreme Court, and the Federalist Society's conception of the "Unitary Executive" (essentially a "King"), I would expect them to consistently say that the President could fire any Inspector General at will, regardless of how they are performing. What I suspect we really need (while acknowledging the difficulty of making the change) is a Constitutional Attorney General. Many States have Attorneys General who are not appointed by the Governor, but separately elected. It would require a Constitutional Amendment, so that's a hard change (so let's start working on the idea NOW!). But have a separate Attorney General NOT under the President, not fireable by the President, and stagger their years in office: elected every 4 years, but in the even-numbered years off Presidential elections.

And then make sure that the Inspectors General are part of THAT office, and can only be fired with the concurrence of both the (independently-elected) Attorney General and President. (Should probably also get concurrence in appointments from both.)

Finally, and I'm afraid I'm echoing jim a bit here, I am concerned about the Democrats winning the Senate. Oh, yes, it is desirable and necessary. However, given Diane Feinstein's hug of Lindsay Graham for such a nice hearing, and folks like Joe Manchin, what I fear is that just enough Democratic Senators will go soft when the Supreme Court dismantles any progressivism and environmentalism, and they will refuse to push back with what is necessary. The only thing worse than not taking over the Senate would be to do so and still let "decorum" prevent them from doing what is necessary to seize back the government from the current corruption.

David Brin said...

Achuah.... link fixed.

The Inspector GENERAL would be head of a quasi military org with very different processes and appointed to 6 year terms by a commission. There are precedents.

Der Oger said...

Dr. Brin:
"The European model of coalition parliamentary government offers little to America."

Why?

Larry Hart said...

Slim Moldie in the previous comments:

So she (the friend) I think is won over by statements like "in a Democracy you have the right to not have things change."


While I'm notoriously hesitant to post my birthdate on the internet, I will admit that by the end of this year, 60 years old will no longer be in the front windshield.

I wish I had known when I was 29 or so about the "Right not to have things change."

The more I think about it, the more that is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.

Alfred Differ said...

Der Oger,

I winced at the 'cages' response last thread, but I recognize it as a legitimate point.

I've mentioned at other times that we are barbarians. I never mean that in the blood-thirsty, murderous sense, but in the self-righteous sense. Those cages were set up and operated by people who believe they are doing the right thing. So... it's not unfair to point out our barbarity.

That will end soon, though. The question will then become whether we have the courage to prosecute the people ultimately responsible for it. If so, I'd like to see prosecutions at lower levels too in order to deal with people 'Who just followed orders.'

Alfred Differ said...

"...you have the right to not have things change."

Yah. A LOT of people believe that. That is why I think a better descriptor is 'traditionalist' rather than 'conservative'. They have a fair point too. Many of the things they would not have changed are hard-won lessons that solved some problem we've long forgotten existed.

Traditions are often the answers we look up in the back of the textbook rather than noodle through the problem to comprehend it. They are often like why we ate heavily spiced and salted food in the era before refrigeration. Or like why we learned to ferment grains and fruits even though alcohol is a poison.

Sometimes, however, they ARE the problem to be solved because the original conditions have changed. Must your grapes be fermented when you live in a city with electricity and refrigeration? Must your minorities be suppressed in a community wealthy enough to educate them and involve them in the markets?

What modern problems are being solved by either of those? Well... one way to find out is to challenge the traditions. Not all of them at once, though. Please. I'll recognize someone's DESIRE to have things not change without recognizing it as a right IFF they tolerate us challenging some of the ones that appear most ludicrous.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I think a better descriptor is 'traditionalist' rather than 'conservative'. They have a fair point too. Many of the things they would not have changed are hard-won lessons that solved some problem we've long forgotten existed.


I understand and even applaud the strain of conservatism that doesn't want to upset a system that has been meticulously constructed over time and works reasonably well. That's not what I thought SM's friend was talking about concerning the "right not to have things change." I was imagining more along the lines of...well I'll cite a "Simpsons" example. Remember when oil was discovered on the school property, so the school district was suddenly filthy rich, and they were planning all sorts of expensive luxuries? And then Mr Burns "slant mined" all of the oil, so the school was broke again? And at a meeting to discuss the turn of events, Groundskeepr Willie asks, "Can we still have all that expensive stuff we were talking about?" That's the sort of thing I expect was meant by "The right not to have things change" (no matter the surrounding circumstances).

It really isn't all that much different from insisting on "The right not to grow old."

Larry Hart said...

Stonekettle points out the obvious:

How come it's only TRUMP staff and cronies who are being indicted?

All these alleged "crimes," and Barr can't find enough evidence to indict a single member of the Obama Administration. Not one.

Not. One.

Pachydermis2 said...

Regards Change...

We are charged with seeking "...a more perfect union." Several things are implicit in this. Perfection will never truly be attained, but we are nevertheless to strive towards it. And imperfection being what it is, when we miss the mark and bungle stupidly we have to acknowledge this and try something else. Changing things back to something that worked is also change.

Much of my grumbling about Progressives is not that they want things to change but that some feel that change, any change really, is a good in and of itself. That is not so.

Pachydermis

Russ Abbott said...

Excellent ideas! I loved them all -- or at least most of them. And some could be implemented quite easily, which is a very important feature.

I kept thinking, "if only," If only,"

Why can't we do this?

As you point out, we can do much of it.

I hope Biden, Harris, Pelosi, Schumer, or someone else with the reach and leverage to do good listens to you. Is that too much to ask?

Alfred Differ said...

Pachydermis2,

You sound more like an old-school liberal than a modern conservative. Close at least.

I don't feel I'm charged with seeking/perfecting anything, but it makes ethical sense to improve the union. However we come to that intention is good enough by me.

Personally, I don't know many Progressives who think change is a good thing simply because it is change. They have particular changes in mind. To me, their error is believing they can design/engineer solutions to community problems in the sense that we engineer tools. Doesn't work like that, though. We tend to stumble into solutions and copy/imitate people who adopt them and prove successful.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Finding oil on school grounds WAS a change. Burns taking it restored things. 8)

in a Democracy you have the right to not have things change.

Meh. Parse this statement logically and it turns into cotton candy. Empty sweetness meant to lure you into liking it. (I never did like cotton candy. Couldn't understand why anyone did.)

In a Democracy, we VOTE on what government does...
and Outcomes determine Actions.

There is no way to prevent change without fixing a vote...
which isn't Democracy.

So that phrase has nothing to do with Democracy. The lure is designed to trick one into thinking they have such a right. Do they? They can certainly claim it, but we tend to vote on such things. Heh. Okay. A few of them we aren't allowed to vote away, but we still manage that too occasionally.

gregory byshenk said...

Der Oger said...
Dr. Brin:
"The European model of coalition parliamentary government offers little to America."

Why?


I think I would want to ask the same thing.

The rest of the paragraph that follows this sentence doesn't really provide any justification that I can see.

Whether or not coalitions are involved (and this usually has more to do with election processes - single district, proportional representation, and so forth), the great advantage of parliamentary stystems is that the governing body (be it coalition or otherwise) is responsible for governing. Under the US system, on the other hand, no one is really responsible: everyone involved can blame others.

duncan cairncross said...

Alfred

To me, their error is believing they can design/engineer solutions to community problems in the sense that we engineer tools

In the world of computers you MAY "engineer tools" that just work

In my world of mechanical things we take steps forwards with one hand on the brake - making improvements is ALWAYS an iterative process

A good "theory" is a great tool to try and predict the results but the rubber has to hit the road sometimes

IMHO I can try and do almost anything - as long as I except from the start that I may have to do it more than once

duncan cairncross said...

In one of the recent postings somebody said that the Biden laptop story was silly as the model concerned was not made when it went in for repair

Does anybody have any references on this?

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Personally, I don't know many Progressives who think change is a good thing simply because it is change. They have particular changes in mind.


You and Pachy are both right--to some extent. There are times when liberals say things like "Any change would be good." The mistake is in perceiving that as a general philosophy. Usually, I've heard that sentiment expressed in a situation where the status quo is so egregiously bad that eliminating the problem is more important than deciding what comes next. The current election comes to mind. I express this sentiment when I assert (seriously) that even my cat would be a better president than the one we're stuck with now.

That hardly means I would feel that way about any president.


"in a Democracy you have the right to not have things change."

Meh. Parse this statement logically and it turns into cotton candy. Empty sweetness meant to lure you into liking it.


I'm pretty sure we're both on the same side here. I just happened to find the assertion itself--and the fact that someone would be convinced by it--even more outrageously offensive than you did.

Ahcuah said...

duncan was wondering: "In one of the recent postings somebody said that the Biden laptop story was silly as the model concerned was not made when it went in for repair" and wanted references.

This story from Security Boulevard,

https://securityboulevard.com/2020/10/no-thats-not-how-warrantee-expiration-works/ ,

says that the claim is mistaken. The supposed "date of manufacture" was taken from the date given for the warranty to expire and then subtracting the length of the warranty (3 years). However, manufacturers regularly pad those dates (because of the time it takes for the product to be sold.

A.F. Rey said...

I express this sentiment when I assert (seriously) that even my cat would be a better president than the one we're stuck with now.

I think your meme is starting to spread. I was watching the Oct 14 episode of "The Daily (Social Distancing) Show," and Roy Wood was interviewing a panel. One of the women said, "I would vote a cat over Trump." :)

See 22:56 of this: http://www.cc.com/episodes/zgfsag/the-daily-show-with-trevor-noah-october-14--2020---wilmer-valderrama-season-26-ep-26010

Just tell her the cat's name is Hamilton, and I bet you'd have another vote! :D

David Brin said...

Sorry. Been busy.

But The role of govt and democracy in fostering change depends on a tradeoff of majority rule vs. minority veto.

Minority veto was an improvement on simple majority rule, which can be tyrannical. Int means that a majority that wants change must overcome not just the number of those opposing it, but their intensity.

49% who shrug and say "it's not my preference, but whatever" should not block the 51%

But 25% who scream "Oh HELL no! and we're taking to the streets!" should stymie a measure till the majority modifies it enough so that intensity quells down to a muttering simmer.

Our problem today is that a large minority of Americans are talked intop a psychosis that says EVERYTHING proposed to move us forward, or end cheating, or increase the fraction of children healthy and educated enough to compete, or that responds to scientific policy advice... every single thing... is to be opposed with the same vehement fury that cannot be mollidied or negotiated with.

Larry Hart said...

Ahcuah:

duncan was wondering: "In one of the recent postings somebody said that the Biden laptop story was silly as the model concerned was not made when it went in for repair" and wanted references.

This story from Security Boulevard,
says that the claim is mistaken...


Even asserting (or debunking) the notion that that model of laptop couldn't have been repaired at that time gives the story too much credit. One doesn't need to prove technically that the story itself is complete crap. It deserves no more attention than the Comet Ping-Ping pizzagate story did.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

Throughout my entire life, the conservative response to liberal appeals to conscience is to decide that the liberals will never stop complaining no matter what, so it's best to ignore them and do whatever they were going to do anyway.

It's way past time we learned that lesson too.

matthew said...

I understand that parts of this chapter were written before the Trump era, but I still cringe when I see talk about using precedent, tradition, or a sense of fair play to shame the GOP into acting in a certain manner. Even in 2008 it was very obvious that the GOP would only honor agreements if they were in their own favor. Bush v. Gore made short work of any such illusion to me.

If the minority subpoena idea is to ever work, it must be set into law, not subject to the whims of a party that sees power as the only justification that ever matters.

Der Oger said...

@Alfred Differ: "I never mean that in the blood-thirsty, murderous sense, but in the self-righteous sense."

I always interpreted your "barbarian"-expression as the archetype of American-style fantasy in the vein of Howard (Conan) and Leiber (Fafhrd) ... a guy driven by "pure" masculine energy taking on decadent and tyrannical, yet "weak" civilizations.

Yet, you are not alone with these instincts of self-righteousness ... I guess, all nations have it, and channel/harness it differently. We (as Europeans/Germans) are not inherently better, we just put up different mechanisms and limitations to deal with it. But if you look closely, these instincts are still there.

Slim Moldie said...

It IS psychosis...

The conservatives noticed Trump attacks taboos (the more uncouth and insidious attacks they mostly ignore.) But multiculturalism and political correctness? They see he gets away with it. And they see who it pleases. Noted is that his attack does not even need to use reasoning, argument or fact-based evidence.

So if you're a get off my lawn conservative and wish to assert your right (to wish) to not have things change, you attack every individual and institution that teaches, uses or harbors reasoning, argument or evidence...or at least the ones that don't agree with you about keeping everyone off your damn lawn.

Warning. Anecdote. (I'm venting.) We have a friend whose non-religious mother, a former...Joan Baez listening, skinny dipping, pot-smoking, college graduate--just refused to divert a portion of the money she was already going to give her grandchildren for birthday and Christmas into a 529 they set up...because she doesn't believe in what they are teaching them in college these days. WTF!

Russ Abbott said...

David Brin wrote: Our problem today is that a large minority of Americans are talked into a psychosis that says EVERYTHING proposed to move us forward, or end cheating, or increase the fraction of children healthy and educated enough to compete, or that responds to scientific policy advice... every single thing... is to be opposed with the same vehement fury that cannot be mollified or negotiated with.

Yes, and No. They don't really oppose the ideas. They are willing to oppose anything the "evil libs" suggest, no matter what it is. How do we get past that?

David Brin said...

Matthew & Russ, this fight is multi-layered. The Subpoena individuation has several advantages:

1- It costs the new Dem majority very little to implement. So the minority goppers will get a hundred hours of witness testimony in sub-committees? Either they'll shed light on things that need light (yay a healthy republic!) or they'll do some grandstanding they were gonna do anyway. BFD.

2- Meanwhile, you've established a public impression of reform that'd be more indelible than Gingrich's 'contract." And if the GOP tries to rescind when they are on top, it will hammer their rep among the 10% of their voters who have any sense of honor. And they won't get back on top without at least fooling that 10%.

3- The subpoena thing gives INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS right and privilege they'll be loathe to give up again. A chance to stand out from their party for the folks back home. Dems are already like that. Encouraging such thinking among gopper reps is insidious, sneaky and could undermine their disciplined caucus.

4.- Done IN PARALLEL with other reforms, like eliminating gerrymandering, it could lessen the inherent drives toward fanaticism.

Larry Hart said...

Russ Abbott:

Yes, and No. They don't really oppose the ideas. They are willing to oppose anything the "evil libs" suggest, no matter what it is. How do we get past that?


Maybe the "Please don't throw me in the briar patch!" gambit? Have Kamala Harris come out against Obamacare so the Republicans will enshrine it into a Constitutional Amendment.

I know it probably wouldn't work in so obvious a case as that, but there might be more subtle ways of actually pulling that off. Remember when Republicans were so down on Obama for not interfering in Libya? And then he did go in, and suddenly those same Republicans (I'm looking at you, John McCain) were shocked...shocked at his abuse of executive war-making power? Or when the Black Panthers first armed themselves in the 60s, and then, Governor Ronald Reagan signed gun control legislation in California? There are precedents.

David Brin said...

It's clear Joe was right to pick Kamala. I doubt we'd have seen QUITE the tsunami of black voters come out otherwise... and she's a solid fighter. Disappointed me 11 times in her debate. But I've given up ever expecting to see an alpha wit in Politics. Well, Clinton and Obama we up there. Maybe alpha minus.
Hey Beta plusses will save us! If they are sane and sic experts on each other.

Tim H. said...

Not strictly political, though it has implications thereof:

https://insidestory.org.au/too-cheap-to-meter/

The TL/DR, at current interest rates, investing in renewable energy projects is a no brainer.
I suspect there could be an impediment, such projects may insufficiently fulfill the dreams of avarice.

matthew said...

Don't get me wrong. I *like* the subpoena idea a whole lot. I just want it to be a law to make it a little more robust and not requiring tradition or honor to preserve. Make em vote to take it away. Give the POTUS a veto over taking it away again.

David Brin said...

Good point Matthew.

Larry Hart said...

A.F. Rey:

I was watching the Oct 14 episode of "The Daily (Social Distancing) Show," and Roy Wood was interviewing a panel. One of the women said, "I would vote a cat over Trump." :)


Heh.

When I was five or so, I was convinced that I had personally invented the practice of calling it an "underdog" when you pushed someone on a swing by running completely underneath them. And now everybody calls it that.

This could be something similar.

Pachydermis2 said...

It might be necessary to start thinking of the much maligned Hunter Biden laptop info as being of at least accurate provenance. That's not to say there is no possibility of some of the info being disinformation, but the Biden campaign is not specifically denying the ownership of the laptop, the signature on the work order looks legit and there has been no word from the FBI, who have had this for many months, that it is not authentic.

You can love Joe Biden, or more realistically, hate Donald Trump, but still find room in your world view for a troubled child with substance abuse and money problems actually doing lots of skeezy things.

It's a strong argument against hereditary monarchy.

I think we need to see a bit more on this.....and the question of Facebook/Twitter trying to smother it is troubling on a different level.

Still skeptical, but not dismissing yet.

Pachydermis2

David Brin said...

I never claimed the laptop thing was fak. And if there's child-porn on it, well, expect it to be released two days before the election.

Never mind that any one weekday of Donnie Jr. carries more sleaze than Hunter's whole life. What's telling is that HB's earlier job - running the World Food Program - saved tens of millions of lives and won WFP the Nobel Prize. If he's a black sheep, he's at least done some compensatory good.

john fremont said...

@Larry Hart

The one that was incredible was the flip on Sgt Bergdahl. Right wingers had a Facebook page of how many days Obama had neglected Army POW Bowie Bergdahl in the hands of the Taliban. Then as soon as the Obama had brought him Stateside, they amplified every bad story about Bergdahl's service and how Obama let terrorists get away in a POW exchange. Bergdahl should've been left over there since he dishonored his fellow soldiers. Not a suprise really to see Trump slamming McCain a few years later.

Alfred Differ said...

Der Oger,

I'm thinking less about individual barbarians who would topple decadent civilization and more about barbarian cultures who would topple the Old World. We are more the latter.

In another century we will BE the Old World in need of toppling. Some individual barbarians think we are already there, but our internal fight is still mostly about 'Ways that aren't ours.'

Old-school liberalism is barbaric in this sense.
Liberating people and their minds topples royal dynasties, churches, and so on.

Alfred Differ said...

Duncan,

I respect your honestly held faith in the existence of a good theory useful as a framework for social engineering. If I believed in such a theory, I'd join you in your good effort to improve the world. I don't believe, though. We have many theories and I think most of them are Ptolemaic at best. "Rules of Thumb" as the saying goes including the negative connotation regarding how thick the stick can be when used to beat our wives.

Practical Knowledge is the way forward and we've acquired a lot. I don't think we've acquired enough for me to feel non-queasy when using it to model our communities. History is too full of hubris for me to think otherwise. What idiocies do we accept today that will be seen for what they are two generations from now?

However, we still move forward whether we have a theory or not. Liberalism has plenty of room for that since we can evolve whether or not we understand ourselves. Complex life existed on Earth with little knowledge of how it got here, though non-humble humans believed for ages that they DID know. Did we? Do we now? Each generation can legitimately claim improvements, but on what model? Do they count if the underlying model is analogous to a Ptolemaic cosmos?

I have a firm faith in Science and the place it must have in the world around us if we are to ensure we avoid slipping back into feudalism. What I don't believe is that we have a good social theory useful as a framework for design. That's okay, though. We can still evolve our way forward while we try to work it out.

Alfred Differ said...

Pachydermis2,

Sorry. I don't need anymore nonsense about Hunter Biden. I don't really care whether or not he is as he is portrayed by any side.

What I DO care about right now is playing into a Russian Intel Op.

No. I shall not participate.
I don't care how lurid the details are.
I shall not be played by them.

They are jerking our chains again and I'm angry as all FQ#$ about it.

scidata said...

@Alfred Differ

Computational psychohistory, based largely on the principles of evolution, but with human and artificial intelligence/rationality, along with some Bayesian ideas, is a pretty good social theory. We're getting there. This is what really scares troglodytes - that there may indeed be a path to the stars, and that all their nihilistic caterwauling may come to naught.

Acacia H. said...

The Feds have stated (paraphrasing here) "we have no evidence it's the Russians" but they also stated "we have no evidence it's NOT the Russians."

Meanwhile, 50 former intel folk who are not bound by fear of their jobs being eliminated have stated "it's a Russian op."

Add in the obviously faked e-mail header that shows all the signs of photoshop? The e-mail is faked. And I'd be willing to bet $100 on that, Pachydermis2. Mind you, I'm not rich and $100 is a lot of money for me. Would you be willing to put up $100 stating it's NOT faked?

Acacia

Larry Hart said...

Pachydermis2:

Still skeptical, but not dismissing yet.


I'm sorry, but consider the source. And the history. You sound like someone who "hasn't yet made up my mind" about whether Hillary Clinton runs a pedophile ring out of secret tunnels in a Washington pizza parlor.

This is "James Comey, Part II".

They are utterly without credibility. They've forfeited their right to even have their bleatings considered. The chances that I am "missing something" by not paying attention is less than zero.

Larry Hart said...

john fremont:

...Bergdahl should've been left over there since he dishonored his fellow soldiers.


My mom has a cousin who is a right-wing gun nut. He used to forward every conspiracy post to the entire family until my brother told him to cut it out because we're just not reading anything that comes from him any more.

At a dinner together back then, he went off about what a disgrace Bergdahl was and how Obama shouldn't have left him over there. This guy (the cousin) had been a friggin' marine, and the one time I think I ever got through to him was during that conversation, when I asked if he really didn't believe in the concept of leaving no man behind. That took him aback, and he quietly mumbled some admission about "No, we don't do that."

David Brin said...

Okay folks: BETS AND GUESSES what the October surprise will be, next week?

And has the tsunami of early voting messed up the plan (whatever it is)?

Der Oger said...

Re: Parliamentary Systems and Americans: I will give the good doctor some more time to ponder on the answer. I'd even admit that there are no ideal, perfect systems and that there are a multitude of possibilities how these systems can be designed, each with it's own flaws and weaknesses. But ... still. Why does it have little to offer for Americans?



Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Okay folks: BETS AND GUESSES what the October surprise will be, next week?


I thought the Hunter Biden laptop thing was it. You mean there's more? :)

If pressed, I'd say it's something about Israel. Either that or a "foiled" assassination attempt. I know, I'm giving up my right to claim the prize by throwing out multiple guesses.

But I really think the Hunter Biden laptop thing was it. Note how hard they're still trying to get us to consider the possibility that there's some there there.


And has the tsunami of early voting messed up the plan (whatever it is)?


I think so. Not all thy tears can wash out a word of my vote already.

Der Oger said...

"Okay folks: BETS AND GUESSES what the October surprise will be, next week?"

Ooooh, a funny game!

How about ...

"Evidence that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris secretly command a shadow army of Antifa cells and Mara Salvatruchas, plotting to take over after election day, installing socialism, burning down suburbs and taking the 2nd Amendment away?"

"And has the tsunami of early voting messed up the plan (whatever it is)?"

I assume the "Plan" is to denounce the elections as rigged, planning to assault the ballots in swing states, using the supreme court or the congress to declare the president,inciting right-wing militias to create civil unrest, tweeting day and night, stealing what money they can grab, and to get out of the country before January 20th, if all else fails.

Acacia H. said...

October 31, 2020, Donald Trump's health takes a sudden turn for the worse and Vice President Pence takes control of the Presidency under the 25th Amendment.

Mother Nature seems to be having some odd twists this time around and it was on the 1st when Trump was found to be Covid-positive.

Acacia

matthew said...

SCOTUS came within one vote yesterday of hearing a case in Pennsylvania that would upend 230+ years of Federal acquiescence to states' running their own elections in their own ways. This is why ACB is being rushed through - to be the 5th vote on SCOTUS to shift the election to Trump. Given her very limited judicial record, she is a sure thing for them.

Any GOP-types upset about this usurpation of state's rights? No, not a damn one.

This is about power for conservatism in America and they do not bother to hide it.

We are going to see a judicial coup in the next six weeks. As I have repeated ad nauseum, the emergency powers of the POTUS are exactly what a partisan SCOTUS will allow him. We are about to see this in action.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/oct/20/us-supreme-court-denies-republican-bid-to-limit-pennsylvania-mail-in-voting

jim said...

You guys are just so bloody funny thinking that the Russians have a more pernicious influence on American politics than say Israel or Saudi Arabia. I mean come on, Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly bragged about how Israel owns the American Congress. And from watching what congress does for Israel, it sure looks like they do. The Saudi’s have bought into the military industrial complex and gone into business with American Political elites, and from a post 911 standpoint it looks like they got lot for their money. And the Russians did what? Ads on facebook? A bunch of tweets on twitter? Dirt on the man-whore son of a vice president? It is pretty small potatoes.

scidata said...

Re: October surprise

il Duce has been saying "We will win", not "I will win" of late. There's also talk of him wanting to get back into civilian-level grifting, but he needs a pardon for that.
My guess: Sudden resignation.

David Brin said...

jim first. Hey fellah. While I think you exaggerate for many reasons, I'll confess Israel has major US influence, as do the Saudis. The difference is in GOALS to use that influence toward.

Israel needs a strong, wealthy, dynamic and confident America, that happenes to adore and benefit and back Israel.

The Saudis need The US as a strong-enough bulward to protect them while being discreetly sucked dry.

China needs an America that's never enraged enough to resume its creative power and gets sucked dry fairly rapidly to be replaced.

Putin needs us to die-die-die. The collapse and fail in all ways. At this point he needs it as a matter of personal survival.

Even if the 'amount of influence" was in that order (it's not) I would worry about Putin first.

Pachydermis2 said...

LarryHart

You I always answer specifically. The whole Pizzagate thing was ooky nonsense. If I did not comment on it at the time it was because I did not deem it worthy of notice.

The Hunter Biden laptop is a stranger thing, and to dismiss it outright seems, frankly, rather closeminded of y'all.

Is there precedent for self assured creeps to have things on their laptop that they should not? I present Mr. A. Wiener as exhibit A.

Is it possible that this is elaborate foreign misinformation? Yes, but let's study the time line. It is helpful, I'm told, to look at actual evidence when trying to understand something.

The laptop was brought in for repair in April 2019. At that point you'd have to call Joe Biden a long shot candidate. Would an elaborate plot be launched against a guy who had, iirc, never won a primary?

In November of 2019 the FBI, having been contacted, made a copy of the hard drive. On December 9th they came back to confiscate the actual hardware. Seems a lot of effort if it was obvious drivel. If this was an elaborate foreign, or domestic, plot they've had over 10 months to study and report on it. Given that Trump has few friends there I suspect they would have done so.

Now, the timing is suspect. The various characters involved are all of dubious veracity..we are talking political operatives here. And I'm not commenting on the specific info on the laptop or what it means. Just that I am having a hard time explaining away the provenance of this story.

Hunter Biden is a troubled man. That's not uncommon with the children of prominent men. Or women I suppose. I suspect the laptop has all sorts of private tragedy on it and I don't find any of that worthy of my time. But, if it does indicate improper business dealings as a way to, presumably, influence the Obama-Biden administration....shouldn't we know that?

Again, we need the FBI to release their analysis of the information. If it is professional or amateurish disinformation, I want to know that. If it is a guy rambling along, talking big but nothing really happened, I want to know that. If there is supporting evidence of improper actions, well at least I want to know that.

I don't really come here to get you riled up. But it is my self appointed job to bring an alternative view over here on occasion. And I try to do so respectfully.

Pachydermis2

David Smelser said...

Didn't we impeach Trump for offering a quid pro quo about opening an investigation into Biden activity in Ukraine? Wasn't Giuliani mentioned as a participant in that scheme?

David Smelser said...

On parliamentary system, I see two issues:
a) Having a legislature who demographics more closely match the population. If 10% of the population vote for "party X", then 10% of the representatives should be from party X.

b) The head executive (prime minister) comes from the dominate party/dominate coalition so that you don't have the log jam when one party controls the legislature and the opposition controls the executive.

I'm all in favor of (a) and have seen proposals that use multi member house districts to come closer to achieving this.

As for (b), I'm a little hesitant to fix considering all the things that the GOP tried to push through during the first 2 years of the current administration vs the things the democratic house stopped in the last 2 years. I feel that changing (b) will result in larger policy swings.



David Brin said...

der oger you surprise me. In the Parliamentary system, party is everything. It is embedded so deeply there is no possible escape.But until the late Reagan years, US Senators and reps were known more for their personal characteristics than for their loyalty to party. It is POSSIBLE in our system for reps to be quirky mixes and party 'discipline' was not huge till Hastert.

David Brin said...

October surprises. One possibilitiy raised in my "Exit Strategies" chapter of Polemical Judo is that Trump flares and burns out. Either as a deliberate ploy, or because he's ordered to get out of the way, or he truly collapses... or a Howard Beale scenario. All four are possible.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Trump flares and burns out. ...


Honestly, I could live with that. And I'm not sure how that would help them.

Larry Hart said...

I meant to say:

he went off about what a disgrace Bergdahl was and how Obama should have left him over there


That makes more sense.

duncan cairncross said...

Alfred
You are misinterpreting my stance
While a theory would be a great thing what we actually have is a lot of data that shows that for any number of things that there is a trend

I would expect from logical grounds to have an optimum point with either side of that being worse

But on a huge number of things we have a very visible trend and no data about anything past the optimum
So for those things we should be (carefully) moving in the direction of the better results

For a leading country (like Finland) we should be careful not to overshoot the optimum
For a trailing country (like the USA) we should still be careful - but as a follower its less likely that we will overshoot the optimum

What we HAVE been doing is a huge experiment pushing the WRONG way - for over 50 years - and that experiment has clearly shown that it has made things WORSE

Larry Hart said...

Pachydermis2:

The Hunter Biden laptop is a stranger thing, and to dismiss it outright seems, frankly, rather closeminded of y'all.


It's Rudy fucking Giuliani! Of course I'm closeminded. How many times can someone cry "wolf!" before you stop worrying about whether a real wolf might be coming this time?


Seems a lot of [FBI] effort if it was obvious drivel.


As I understand it, they're not investigating the Bidens. They're investigating the attempted frame.


Given that Trump has few friends there [the FBI}...


It's Rudi fucking Giuliani! Y'know, the guy who essentially forced Comey's announcement by threatening to leak the Hillary's e-mail thing with or without Comey? The FBI loves him. And they work for Bill Barr.


But, if it does indicate improper business dealings as a way to, presumably, influence the Obama-Biden administration....shouldn't we know that?


You may claim not to be a Russian agent, or a Republican (pardon the repetition), but just listen to yourself implying just enough doubt to try to make people hold off voting for Biden, and therefore helping Trump eke out a win again based on the most hysterically ridiculous of stories that wouldn't even make a good spy novel.


I don't really come here to get you riled up.


Well, the depressing days between the Comey "revelation" and Hillary's subsequent loss to a monster was one of the most nightmarish times of recent memory. What do you expect a re-run of that time to feel like?

You've already made me waste more seconds and brain cells on a subject I would prefer to ignore with the absolute disdain it deserves, but after 2016, I cannot let any attempt to depress voter enthusiasm in in a way that helps Trump stand unchallenged.

Consider the source of this story. Consider the history that Giuliani in particular and the Republican Party in general has for pushing this kind of story and how it always turns out to be a nothingburger. They have zero credibility. They have negative credibility. The fact that they push a theory implies that it is more likely than not a lie.


Again, we need the FBI to release their analysis of the information. If it is professional or amateurish disinformation, I want to know that. If it is a guy rambling along, talking big but nothing really happened, I want to know that. If there is supporting evidence of improper actions, well at least I want to know that.


You need a public investigation which throws doubt upon Trump's challenger just at this time? I mean, the FBI has supposedly been investigating for a year, but the period of uncertainty wherein suspicion about Biden is sowed before the FBI reveals that there's nothing to see here just has to happen within two weeks of the election?

Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action.

Acacia H. said...

Again, Pachydermis2. I am willing to bet $100, money I could use for other things like groceries, that this Hunter Biden thing is faked. Are you willing to pay $100 if you are wrong and this is an attempt to smear the Biden name?

There is a saying. Put up, or shut up.

Acacia

TheMadLibrarian said...

DH and I have been rewatching/bingeing the old Aaron Sorkin series "The West Wing". A lot of it is wishful thinking, but a lot of it is a gut punch about how things should be, including the concept of an 'honorable opposition', things that have been dragged out and shot by the current administration.

I've been collecting terms for Dear Leader; the latest one is 'Danger Yam'.

Jon S. said...

The Hunter Biden story rests upon the idea that a man who lives in Los Angeles will find an $85 repair price so enticing that he will literally fly to the other side of the country and drop off three Mac laptops, then completely forget he ever did any such thing. And that's ignoring the other stupid ideas involved, like the shop owner reading thousands of stored emails (despite the handicap of being legally blind!), turning them over to the FBI, deciding the FBI isn't moving fast enough, then taking the natural next step of giving them to Rudy Giuliani's attorney, as one does. [rolleyes.gif]

Oh, yeah, and then there's the part where neither the FBI nor Giuliani's attorney notices a crapload of child porn - no, that takes the eagle eye and cybernetic expertise of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Moscow).

Basically, Pachy, ol' buddy, this story holds together about as well as tales of the Hollow Earth, and I really don't think we need expeditions to the North Pole to prove there's no gateway there either.

Alfred Differ said...

scidata,

is a pretty good social theory

Sorry my friend. I used to think so when I was younger. I don't anymore. In fact, I think it is a terrible theory.

My epiphany arrived when I had a chance to study a bit of what geometry might look like in spaces with huge numbers of dimensions… and how we approached problems set in those spaces. It was rather depressing to realize that our simplifications invalidated most of what we believed about successful 'solutions.' At best, we work with heuristics.

Maybe when the Galactic Mind tackles these problems we can deal with the huge number of dimensions. Not until then, though. Not even with our best computers. Not even with quantum computers.

Doesn't bother me, though. WE are the irreducible computational model. I suspect you could live with that. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

duncan,

I would expect from logical grounds to have an optimum point with either side of that being worse

You're revealing that you imagine models with low numbers of dimensions (degrees of freedom). I don't think that is even remotely, possibly true.

We simplify away complexity using heuristics. For example, I don't need to know the kinetic energy of every molecule in my car's engine to deal with the need to keep it cool during operation. The macroscopic average is good enough, though it isn't safe to average over volumes that are too large. The force applied by every molecule in my oil against the parts they lubricate isn't necessary either. The macroscopic average and an assumption about fluids being incompressible is good enough… with the same caution taken about averaging over volumes that are too large.

We get away with this in physical systems with astonishing success… as long as we don't examine certain questions. When we do, we have to break some of those simplifications and bring in other heuristic models… that make their own simplifications barring certain questions. For example, we couldn't explain black-body radiation spectra until someone broke an earlier assumption in a particular way. Quanta were born as a result. They didn't have phase, though, thus couldn't entangle. Now they do. What's next to add? Delete?

In spaces with huge numbers of dimensions, though, some really non-intuitive stuff happens. If you cannot safely simplify, your intuition is likely to lead you astray. We grok low dimensionality far better. We understand linear extrapolation far better. Outside those two domains and most of us suck at it. For example, try reading N Taleb and his rather stern concerns about large tail probability curves. Far simpler is a neat little geometry problem. Extrapolate the volume of a sphere formula to a space with N Euclidean dimensions. Do the same for the 'volume' of a cube. Now work out the ratio of hyper-sphere to hyper-cube in N dimensions. What's the limit as N grows very large? Who cares? Well… everyone using a Monte Carlo approach to predicting complex systems.

I don't think I'm misinterpreting your stance. I think you are underestimating the dimensionality of the problem and that leads you to erroneous assumptions that I have already rejected.

Alfred Differ said...

Pachydermis2,

Would an elaborate plot be launched against a guy who had, iirc, never won a primary?

OH YES! Sure as @#!$ YES.

You aren't thinking like an intel agent. That's okay. You trained for medical methods.


Intel folks lay huge numbers of plans that mostly don't work out to much of anything because the few that do will make up for it all. Most 'assets' involve tiny investments requiring little handling and little loss if they are ever compromised.

Intel folks collect huge volumes of seemingly useless data because the holes in what they can collect partially describe the classified data they can't reach. Data aggregation is HUGELY important for finding what one didn't think existed and as context for what one has seen existence hints.


In our particular case, the Russians can't dominate us. At best they can disrupt us. That serves a very useful geopolitical purpose for them since we ARE their primary adversary. It doesn't matter whether we see ourselves that way or not. We ARE even when we are inclined to be friendly with them. We ARE the only nation on Earth that can thwart them without breaking a sweat, thus we are a threat. Period. End of Story. (Think like a Russian to see this. Don't know how? Ask them.)

Alfred Differ said...

jim,

Of course Israel and others have pernicious influence here. All states have geopolitical objectives and many of them involve us. Of course they would try for influence.

What Russia needs out of us right now is destabilization. We threaten their stability simply by being strong enough to oppose them… like we did in Ukraine without even mounting a government effort to do it. A few NGO's shrugged and destabilized Russia's perimeter forcing them into a war.

What Israel needs is importance in the objectives of a strong ally. They are still surrounded. They are at risk when we are not stable and inclined to take their side.

What the Saudi's need is protection and importance in the objectives of a strong ally that doesn't want to rule them. They are NOT historically strong. They sit between two seats of former empires and were RULED by others most of the time. One of those seats is dominated by Shia. They need what they need and it isn't a destabilized us.

What WE need is to balance forces we have no intention of ruling by force or by annexation. Israel can tolerate this. So can the Saudi's. Russia cannot. They cannot defend themselves from other adversaries close to them. We sure as heck won't intervene on their behalf. Land Wars in Asia being stupid and all that. {The US is a sea power}

Darrell E said...

Alfred,

What Duncan seems to be saying is form hypotheses about how to move something in a certain desired direction, test them against reality, discard or modify based on test results. You keep saying he has a theory. That's not a theory, it's a process.

You both seem to be saying nearly the same thing, with one difference. Duncan says shit is complicated so you have to be careful, while you are saying, no, you don't get it. Shit is really complicated.

Your constant push back against regulation is, I think, a necessary part of the "conversation." Sort of like the slave whispering in the conquering Roman leader's ear during the victory procession, "All glory is fleeting." Regulation should be undertaken only with great care, humility and the willingness to change things based on the observed results. But two things. 1) You make it sound as if we simply can not make progress towards goals except by leaving things in the hands of unguided processes because reality is just too complicated, and there is plenty of evidence that that is not true. 2) I think you are indeed misinterpreting / mischaracterizing Duncan's view and that the real difference between your two views is merely the degree of pessimism.

Pachydermis2 said...

You have all become a decidedly uncurious bunch. This is ironic given the great passion with which all manner of conspiracy theories casting negative light on Republicans, Conservatives, etc have been loudly, er, trumpeted in this forum over the last decade.

I am at this point only saying that is looks as if this is Hunter Biden's laptop. Regards the matters at hand I'm only interested in whether there is evidence suggesting that Hunter's surprisingly well paid overseas jobs had anything to do with the decision making power of Biden pere. You've all gotten past that video where the VP brags about getting the prosecutor fired before Ukraine gets aid money, I find it difficult.

There might be disinformation embedded in real material. That would be the best way to do it after all. So I'm not taking bets. If I find that this is a political hit job and that my skepticism on this point was insufficient (but hardly absent!), I'll say so here. That's worth more than $100 to some.

Probably there will be enough ambiguity to let Biden slide on this. Hunter seems like a troubled and at times desperate man. He may well have talked big with nothing to back it up.

I find few compelling reasons to support Trump, but I will say this for having Republicans in positions of power....things don't get swept under the rug. I'll take the overheated and often wrong vaporings of the anti Trump press any day over a silent and complacent Fourth Estate. They should scrutinize in a bipartisan fashion. Suppressing stories versus investigating and then confirming/disproving....as a healthy Press used to do.

Pachy

scidata said...

@Alfred Differ

Re: Computational Psychohistory

Isaac Asimov died at the dawn of supercomputing (1992). Given his deep adoration of machine minds (robots, computers, Tandy, the nascent internet), I suspect that he was about to launch into a complete revision of psychohistory, based on massive computation. He had struggled since the 1950s to put more meat on the bones of psychohistory than the sparse pickings in the "Foundation" trilogy. IMHO, he had little success. I was quite disappointed with his later explanations, and those of others who tried. Brin's "Foundation's Triumph" finally sprinkled in a few tantalizing ideas. However, Dr. Brin is a physicist, and they are notorious seekers of simplicity. That's the wrong approach.

huge numbers of dimensions… and how we approached problems set in those spaces. It was rather depressing to realize that our simplifications invalidated most of what we believed about successful 'solutions.'

Yup.

At best, we work with heuristics.

Double yup.

Christopher Hitchens wrote of an English high priest at the time of the plague. The priest was vexed by why the virtuous seemed to die at the same rate as the corrupt. He wondered why god would allow such a cruel unfairness. It was almost as if god didn't care, or even see, or... . Hitchens said that the priest came very close indeed to the correct answer. We humans have a dizzying solipsism. We anthropomorphize everything, even god and nature. I'm not knocking it, it's the reason why we conquered the planet. However, the map is not the territory. Simplicity shmimplicity.

The world (I'd use 'universe' but that seems presumptuous) is a realm of computation and evolution. We perceive it using a vastly simplified model of reality stored in a 3-lb hominid brain. This model is self-trained, using a life-long (except in troglodytes) bootstrapping process. Heuristics and models are kind of our thing. The history of philosophy is endlessly intriguing, yet utter garbage.

Psychohistory was only a quaint trellis that Asimov used to weave a story around. He did a wonderful job (although, perhaps surprisingly, he wasn't the first to explore the machinery of sociology in this way). Computational Psychohistory however, is a real start at a real social theory. It supplants formulae with algorithms. And not contrived algorithms. And not facile 'Big Data' dreck. Monte Carlo analysis may be hopeless against high dimensionality and combinatorial explosions, but Monte Carlo machinery isn't. Proof? It already happened (at least) once in nature - look around you. The secret sauce is this: it's not hammered out by us bags of mostly water. I'm not even convinced that AI will or can manifest it. Rather, I suspect that it lurks in the heaps of silicon and clouds of solder smoke I'm always on about.

But how can such a thing be reasonably called a 'theory'? That is indeed the question. This is where SETI comes in. It's why I disagree fundamentally with Brin's Great Silence arguments. I really enjoyed the way that Brin described and employed 'Tiktoks'. He came very close indeed to the correct answer. I think Benford and Bear did too, but I must admit they're both way down on my ponderous and plodding reading list.

Re: US is a sea power.
So is/was Canada (3rd largest fleet in the world at the end of WW2). Perhaps that's why other powers try so hard to drive a wedge between us (because Northwest Passage).

Larry Hart said...

Malcolm Nance on Stephanie Miller's show confirms.

The FBI is not investigating Hunter Biden child pornography. They're investigating whether Giuliani and the Trumpist repair man are actively working with Russian intelligence.

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

Oh, yeah, and then there's the part where neither the FBI nor Giuliani's attorney notices a crapload of child porn - no, that takes the eagle eye and cybernetic expertise of Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Moscow).



That might say more about Ron Johnson's proclivities than it does about the Bidens. :)

By the way, conveniently "finding child porn" on the computer belonging to a political enemy is such a cliche by now that I wouldn't believe it even if it was true in a particular case.


Basically, Pachy, ol' buddy, this story holds together about as well as tales of the Hollow Earth, and I really don't think we need expeditions to the North Pole to prove there's no gateway there either.


At this point, any suggestion that we need to evaluate more evidence on this subject falls under the classification of "sealioning", and should be treated accordingly. Any further suggestion that this is something which actually disqualifies Joe Biden as a candidate should be responded to only with "I do not hear the words of traitors!"

Larry Hart said...

On "originalism"...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/21/opinion/supreme-court-amy-coney-barrett.html

...
Also, what often is overlooked is that conservative justices ignore original meaning when it does not serve their purpose. One of the worst decisions in recent years was Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, which struck down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act that required states with a history of race discrimination in voting to obtain approval from the attorney general or a panel of judges before making significant changes in their election systems.

The court, voting 5-4, said that this violated the principle that Congress must treat all states alike. But no such requirement is found in the Constitution. Moreover, the Congress that ratified the 14th Amendment imposed Reconstruction on Southern states, showing that it did not mean to treat all states alike.
...
If Hillary Clinton had won the presidency in 2016 and replaced Justices Scalia, Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, originalism would have faded in importance. Justice Thomas would have been the only originalist on the court and the theory would have been kept alive only by some conservative law professors.

But now, with the confirmation of Judge Barrett, it will be a dominant theory on the Supreme Court. Make no mistake, it is just as much a threat to all of our rights as when Robert Bork espoused it more than 30 years ago.

Dennis M Davidson said...

OCTOBER SURPRISE: Tuesday, October 23, 2020

Attorney General Barr releases his ‘executive summary’ of the DOJ ‘Durham Investigation’ into the origins of the FBI investigation of Russia’s connections to the 2016 Trump Presidential Campaign organization.

Barr’s summary suggests that rogue FBI agents, in communication with Obama White House staff, might have speculated about Trump’s potential conflicts of interest vis-à-vis a Moscow Trump Hotel. Citing the confidentiality of an on-going investigation, Barr had nothing further to say about Trump and Russia.

Later that day at White House campaign rally, POTUS calls for the immediate arrest of Comey, Clinton, Obama and Biden. Among a long list of alleged crimes, Trump claims each has a bank account in China. Complains that their bank balances are higher than his. Calls them ‘Gang of Four’ and ‘Enemies of the People’.

Tweetstorm follows, expanding to include false charges against governors of Michigan, Virginia, California and New York. Calls for immediate arrest of mayors of Seattle, Portland, and Washington DC. Tells local police and paramilitary groups that now is the time to STEP UP! And DEFEND democracy.

Meanwhile, FBI director Christopher Wray disputes Barr’s interpretation of the Durham report; defends integrity of Comey and FBI’s rank and file. Wray says nothing about Clinton, Obama and Biden. QAnon cites Wray’s silence as evidence that the FBI is actually conspiring to protect Clinton, Obama and Biden. When no arrests are forthcoming, QAnon cites this as proof of a Deep State/FBI conspiracy to overthrown Trump, and to eventually install Hillary Clinton as President. Q does not explain exactly how this will happen. Nonetheless, QAnon followers


Trump interprets Wray’s silence on Clinton, Obama and Biden as disloyalty and fires him by tweet. Nominates Rudy Giuliani as interim FBI Director.

Trump does not bother to notify anyone in DOJ including the Attorney General who mildly scolds POTUS. Tweetstorm continues. Trump fires Barr for insolence. Nominates Richard Grenell as acting Attorney General. Complains that Grenell, despite being gay, won’t be as tough as Roy Cohn. Left, Center, and Right-Wing press goes woke/PC on POTUS (and each other)—all for different reasons.

A day later, Trump thinks better of firing Barr. Says he was joking.

Chaos continues. Status of Democracy remains unknown.

David Brin said...

Pachydermis Biden wanted the Ukrainian prosecutor fired because he was a Yanukovich Putin-shill holdover who was OBSTRUCTING investigations of corruption! The Ukrainian people knew that. There were street demonstrations demanding the prosecutor’s office go after corrupt oligarchs and that started happening after the firing.

And that is comparable to… what?

The laptop? Like I should care about the highly unlikely chance that a family black sheep (who had earlier chaired the world effort to feed tens of millions of starving people) tried to parlay an EMAIL INTRODUCTION to his dad into a business contact? Tell me what criminal code that violated please? The Fox yammerers never, ever, ever actually cite one.

That’s IF the story is true that he flew across the country to drop 3 $800 laptops at an unsecure repair shop in Atlanta then forgot about them… and… excuse my skepticism… but again, who care? Except if this causes them to get distracted from more dangerous October “surprises.”

Should Hunter’s marginal activities be MADE illegal? Sure! All relatives of politicians and judges should live transparent lives or the pol/judge should resign!

“I find few compelling reasons to support Trump, but I will say this for having Republicans in positions of power....things don't get swept under the rug.’

I stared at that assertion, then looked again unbelievingly. I blinked, swallowed, and read it again, unable to parse it and believe I was a member of the same species as anyone who could type those words in that order.

It is the most blithering-insane assertion I have seen in a year of Foxisms and Trumpisms. But we have adversarial accountability here. So please. Defend it! Better yet. PUT MONEY ON IT! I will give you odds.

Larry Hart said...

Pachydermis2:

You have all become a decidedly uncurious bunch. This is ironic given the great passion with which all manner of conspiracy theories casting negative light on Republicans, Conservatives, etc have been loudly, er, trumpeted in this forum over the last decade.


It doesn't occur to you that there's a reason for this? That maybe our bullshit detectors are functioning accurately, and they point overwhelmingly in one direction?


You've all gotten past that video where the VP brags about getting the prosecutor fired before Ukraine gets aid money, I find it difficult.


Will you stop it with the FOX talking points?

The prosecutor who Biden helped force out was the corrupt one working for Vladimir Putin. In lobbying against him with Ukraine, Biden was acting on US State Department policy and the will of not only the US government but all of our European allies. He was not on some sort of lone wolf, self-serving mission like Benedict Donald was when he, in defiance of the State Department and Congress, withheld money from Ukraine in order to blackmail their president into doing what you are doing without even the bribe.

Look, I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt that you are engaging in sealioning rather than treason. I am this close to deciding you're not worth my time any more than locumranch was. But so far, you're at least more coherent (if misguided) and only engage in name-calling rather than outright slander. So there's that.

Cari Burstein said...

I find it very hard to take anyone seriously who uses Biden bragging about getting that prosecutor fired as evidence of any wrongdoing. There's ample evidence that there were very good reasons that the US as well as other countries wanted him removed. Biden bragging about getting him removed is similar to a prosecutor bragging about getting a murderer convicted.

The idea that it's evidence of any malfeasance is ridiculous and the fact that I keep seeing this claim pop up again and again in right-wing commentary makes me wonder how many of these people are truly this ill informed, and how many just don't care about the legitimacy of their arguments.

Pachydermis, if you want people to actually think you're anything other than a shill or partisan, come up with some better argument please.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

“I find few compelling reasons to support Trump, but I will say this for having Republicans in positions of power....things don't get swept under the rug.’

I stared at that assertion, then looked again unbelievingly. I blinked, swallowed, and read it again, unable to parse it and believe I was a member of the same species as anyone who could type those words in that order.


Now, I'm in the uneviable position of defending Pachydermis2.

Because I did the same thing you did, except that on the third pass or so, I did figure out what he was saying. That when Republicans are in power, the press uncovers all of their wrongdoings, but when Dems are in power, the press sweeps their wrongdoings under the rug.

I'm not in agreement with that assessment--I think the press actually bends over backwards to prove that they are not in bed with the left, and that their going after Trump is a case of "In a fit of pique, he napalmed Chelsea. Even the police had to sit up and take notice." But at least this interpretation belongs on our planet spoken by a member of homo sapiens sapiens.

Larry Hart said...

Dennis M Davidson:

OCTOBER SURPRISE: Tuesday, October 23, 2020


I'm sorry, but in which universe is that date on a Tuesday? :)

matthew said...

Packy - This statement, "I will say this for having Republicans in positions of power....things don't get swept under the rug" is the biggest deliberate lie I've heard this month. It is a dirty, pernicious lie. Full stop.

Alfred Differ said...

Darrell,

Duncan says shit is complicated so you have to be careful, while you are saying, no, you don't get it. Shit is really complicated.

Ha ha! Well done. I love the paraphrased version of our little debate. I'm going to chuckle all day now.

The process you describe is (of course) the scientific method in one of its variations. It is a wonderful EVOLUTIONARY process. There is one big exception, though, between how Duncan and I would keep it working in our communities.

1. Typically in one of the science fields, there is a theory in play from which hypotheses are formed. Only hypotheses get tested and failure can lead us to question the theory, the way one hypothesis was formed, or both.

2. In an open-society evolutionary system, there is no theory. The hypothesis tested is always about fitness and reproduction whether the field is about biology or economics. Essentially it's the question "Does this work well enough to reproduce?"

Shit is REALLY complicated. SO complicated, we are deluding ourselves pretending our local heuristics are viable theory.

You make it sound as if we simply can not make progress towards goals except by leaving things in the hands of unguided processes because reality is just too complicated…

… but it's not THIS bad. We do guide locally and have proven successes. The evolutionary process wouldn't work at all if we didn't. That 'guiding' is a selection factor. Weeding the garden so to speak.

What I advocate for is

1) Humility to prevent our smaller scale plans from cohering into bigger ones that produce de facto coercive forces preventing others from employing their local knowledge locally, and

2) even more humility to prevent the delusional belief that we ACTUALLY understand the problem we are solving. We don't… mostly because it isn't even definable. Evolutionary systems don't progress toward a goal. They simply progress. I might believe that this civilization is the best thing ever worthy of well defined goals toward which we should all progress, but that belief ACTUALLY HINDERS our progress if too many of us fall into hubris.

Sorry about the all caps stuff, but I get on a soap box when this topic comes around in the cycle. The stars are in reach and this civilization IS a wonder. I want to live long enough to see it so bad that my teeth hurt. Grr! Grr! Hulk smash anyone in the way! Duncan is cool, though. I get him better nowadays. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

scidata,

I don't fault science fiction authors of past generations for failing to envision the world of today. As long as they are adding to our understanding by expanding our concept library of 'what can plausibly be' I'm good with them. Asimov did that far better than most AND he understood how to teach science fact. I used to eat his fact stuff up starting shortly after starting grade school. His fact articles alone were enough to expand the universe I understood and my mother eventually got me to read his fiction too. More of the same happened.

I have a special place in my heart for science fiction authors who know their science. Consider our host for a moment. When I came across his first novel (years ago now) I had no idea who he was. Without reading the book flap, though, I could tell he had physics and astrophysics experience. The description of the cooling laser was too detailed for any other option to make sense. I was mostly into hard-tech style science fiction back them, so I was riveted by that laser. When I encountered the topic of coherent stimulated emission later in one of my courses, I was mentally ready to gobble it up. May I have seconds please? THAT's the kind of expansion these authors create in the minds around them. A little later I encountered what I understood at the time his 'Uplift' concept. Seriously. Who here thinks that term has anything to do with elevators anymore? 8)

My issue with psychohistory came later when I came to understand how much of a dismal failure the field of 'theoretical history' had become. My inner boy scout realized it was a cover for social darwinism in various forms which covered for racism, eugenics, and all sorts of horrors. Asimov intended none of that, of course. Few did, right? Those few we know as monsters nowadays. THEN came more mathematics experience and the realization that such theories were likely doomed the moment we tried to build heuristics. Maybe we'd get lucky, but the odds are astronomically large against us. In other words, the problem to solve in social theories is hideously complex and likely irreducible. No matter, though, say most of us. We believe! That's enough to find our way forward to find a viable theory informing us what is ethical and what is not. Pfft!

Not Asimov's fault. In fact, I like to think he'd be proud of some of us for learning from him and others and then reacting so strongly against an inhumane impulse to dictate to others.



duncan cairncross said...

Alfred is correct

The Scientific Method is to formulate the hypothesis and test it

Th Engineering Method is similar - except if we don't have a useful hypothesis then we alter things ANYWAY to make use of the "evolutionary method"
The "Hit it with a hammer theory"

With our economic system we do not have a "Grand Unified Theory"

But we do have lots of "rules of thumb" that can be used to make things better

Thinking about it even in Physics - the mother of science - we still don't have a "Grand Unified Theory" but we can still go ahead and make computers and stuff

Der Oger said...

"der oger you surprise me. In the Parliamentary system, party is everything. It is embedded so deeply there is no possible escape.But until the late Reagan years, US Senators and reps were known more for their personal characteristics than for their loyalty to party. It is POSSIBLE in our system for reps to be quirky mixes and party 'discipline' was not huge till Hastert."

Well ... that is not how I perceive it, at least not during the past few years here in Germany. Most news center around intra-party conflicts and power struggles, not inter-party fights. Enemy < Archenemy < Party Friend. Most parties (except for the Libertarians) have 2+ competing wings ... and the ruling conservatives are divided into at least 4 wings and 2 different parties.

But I'll admit that different countries will provide different results. Great Britain would be an example for your view.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

A little later I encountered what I understood at the time his 'Uplift' concept. Seriously. Who here thinks that term has anything to do with elevators anymore? 8)


Y'know, I never put together that Jacob Demwa's backstory for Sundiver revolved so heavily around an elevator. "What's the significance to you?"


...THEN came more mathematics experience and the realization that such theories were likely doomed the moment we tried to build heuristics. Maybe we'd get lucky, but the odds are astronomically large against us.
...
Not Asimov's fault.


I bought Asimov's three pre-Foundation "universe" novels* as a paperback set in the 1980s. Each of the three books had a new forward by the author explaining that some aspect of science that the book relied upon had seemed at least plausible back when the book was written, but had become outdated by the time of this printing. He hoped the reader could forgive him and enjoy the novels for what they were. To me, that's all an author has to do in that position. Re-writing whole sections of an already-published work, or publishing new works whose purpose is to pound the old square pegs into round holes just diminishes everything.

* The Stars Like Dust, The Currents of Space, and Pebble in the Sky

scidata said...

@Alfred Differ

Agreed. On Social Darwinism, double plus agreed. The selection idea is all that evildoers ever focus on. But the key to evolutionary gradients is really diversity. Fisher explained it in mathematical terms way better than Darwin ever did. But going all-in on diversity is an awkward position for racists and the like. Humanity in not a bonsai tree. Pruning is almost never a smart idea in the long term because the environment is ever-changing. As I often say, either we all get to the stars or none of us do. Not Pollyanna-ism, just Fisher-ism.

Alfred Differ said...

duncan,

You always have an hypothesis my friend. Even when you bash it with a hammer. They take the form of if-then statements.

If I bash HERE I'll break static friction and the part will begin to roll around the axle properly on a smaller kinetic friction value. Oops. Now the part wobbles. Looks like precession and nutation. Hmm. Inertia tensor isn't diagonalized on that axis. Hmm.

Humans excel at forming complex hypotheses, but brains of any size will do the basic deed. Even worms hypothesize and learn from error.

As a grad student, I SO wanted to pursue grand unified theories. It was the most intense challenge I've faced in my life learning my way up to them. However, once I got there the glamour broke. Shattered into a zillion pieces and fell into dust.

It's not that they aren't amazing. They are. The problem is that they weren't novel. I had expected some miraculous understanding. A veil falling away from my eyes. But no. Reality is much more mundane. The best theoretical efforts are mostly more of the same in variations. There are a few basic ideas being tried a zillion ways. Astonishingly good ideas being recycled. Mostly.

The tiny miracle that remained was that any of this actually worked. It does. Reductionism really should NOT work, but it does. Sometimes. Sometimes with great power. The closer I looked at it, though, the more I realized it worked on certain problems because we walked away from the other problems where it didn't. Selection Bias in its purest form.


If our social problems turn out to be reducible, I shall stand slack-jawed for quite some time and then applaud the genius and their supporting people. I'd love to see it, but I don't think I ever will. Those problems can be attacked via evolutionary methods, but I don't think we will EVER have a viable explanatory falsifiable theory. Well… maybe if Vinge-ian Trancedants show up on our doorstep it will happen. Nothing short of that, though.

Larry Hart said...

"I am at this point only saying that is looks as if this is Rudi Giuliani's lap."

https://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/movies/rudy-giuliani-caught-compromising-position-new-borat-film-n1244187

...
The film, which is being released Friday on Amazon Prime Video, shows Giuliani reclining on a bed and then putting his hand down his pants and moving it around for what appears to be a few seconds while the actress playing Borat's teenage daughter, Maria Bakalova, 24, who is pretending to be a television reporter, stands in front of him.

NBC News obtained an advance copy of the film, which is titled "Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."

Giuliani and the woman, recorded by what seem to be hidden cameras, are eventually interrupted by Cohen, who bursts into the bedroom in his Borat persona, shouting: "She's 15. She's too old for you!"
...

Dennis M Davidson said...

Larry Hart:
+ Sorry, my sloppy editing! It should have been Tuesday, October 27, 2020.
+ Also, at the end of the 5th paragraph I forgot to delete 'Nonetheless, QAnon followers'.
+ And this evening, WaPo reports that Trump is considering firing FBI Director Christopher Wray--but not until after the election.

David Brin said...

onward

onward