Last time we finished Chapter 11 of Polemical Judo, on economics, showing many of the hypocrisies of Republican claims to be the defenders of enterprise and markets and a functionally positive, growing economy. (Capsule summary: they aren't.)
Normally we'd then proceed to Chapter 12: Six Rebuttals To Use With Those Who Would "Split" Our Coalition, where I show some evenhandedness by appraising the (almost) utterly fact-free jabber by many leftists that Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are no better than "Republicans Lite." I have never met one of these yammerers who could describe what happened in the busy and productive 111th Congress, or how busy Democrats have been in California and other blue states, where coalitions of progressives and moderates work just fine, let alone prove a single damned "DNC sellout" assertion.
It is a vital topic! But I've already posted that chapter -- and I am told a lot of folks have used it to good effect! And so should you, if you know any of those preening, impractical purists. Anyway, the coalition is holding so far, but mark my words. They are sure to turn on Biden in 2022, as they let down Clinton in 1994 and Obama in 2010. So assure them their time will come.
Instead, let's plunge ahead to Chapter 13: Can We Make A Deal? "What Would Adults Do?
Of course that's a guffaw. There is no classic, sincere deal-making in Washington DC. That's called "negotiated politics" and it was killed, dead, around 1997 when Republicans replaced Newt Gingrich as Speaker and party head with Dennis "friend to boys" Hastert, whose eponymous "Hastert Rule" explicitly threatened political death on any GOP member who ever again negotiated with a Democrat for the national good. They bragged openly about that!
As we see the spectacle of an utterly disciplined Republican Senate majority breaking every vow in order to cram a Supreme Court Justice down the throats and an angry citizenry, just 2 weeks before the People get to speak, we know the top (corrupt) ranks of that party must be electorally torched, if the nation -- and yes, a sane/decent version of conservatism -- are to rise from the ashes.
But what if ... just imagine... this phase of the American Civil War were to end, and decent conservatives snap out of the spell and sit down with us at the table again.
Not to jinx it, but Chapter 13 assumes -- with almost hysterical optimism -- that's exactly what might occur. So, what pragmatic deals might ensure this kind of mess doesn't happen again?
== First a couple of news items! ==
-- In August of 1934 federal authorities revealed an elaborate failed plot by a right-wing para-military group called the Silver Shirts to capture San Diego city hall to avert a Communist takeover. The Silver Shirts of America, modeled after the Nazi Brown Shirt militiass, were founded by William Dudley Pelley in 1933, with HQ in Asheville, North Carolina. They had been “drilling in secluded spots near San Diego with stolen government rifles and with the avowed purpose of changing the government of the United States,” Said the August 7, 1934 issue of the San Diego Union. Pelley intended to “deport the Jews” whether born here or not. Others were to be ‘liquidated.’ Worrisome echoes of the present? Well, yeah, but our parents and grandparents got past all that. So can we.
-- An interesting article describing how a new Congress -- with total Constitutional authority to do so -- might alter the makeup of the now-utterly-discredited Supreme Court, by applying the McConnell/Graham/Cruz/Grassley Doctrine: "because we can." Four methods have been proposed by scholars, two of which might lessen the influence of partisanship, overall.
-- It is a fine American reflex to say "no religious opinions are politically relevant." But I say that stops when a politician or judge has declared openly and proudly that she prays daily for there to ensue the events laid down in this book, which would result in the agonized slaughter of 98%+ of her fellow citizens, an end to all individuality, to democracy, to all new generations of children... and an end to the United States of America.
That kind of religious belief is politically pertinent.
== And now Chapter 13... the first part ==
What we could accomplish, if the way ahead opened…
Our main focus till now has been to explore overlooked meme weapons that might help us break past political trench warfare, like the overlooked power of wagers (Chapter 15). And examples of adversary brilliance, e.g. Newt Gingrich’s brilliant/deceitful polemical judo twist, the ‘Contract With America.’ Only here let’s consider what to do with political victory, if we achieve it.
What positive things should we offer the American people?
What will we actually do, if and when we win!
It won’t surprise you that I’m critical of the approach chosen by the 20 Democratic candidates for president (as of when this is written, August 2019). In apparent contempt for voters’ limited attention span, each tended to narrow things down, concentrating on a couple of issues that appear to poll best. Moreover, they fall for the media’s need for fireworks, emphasizing differences between specific “plans.”
What if a candidate said this:
“Look at all the talent you’ve seen on these debate stages! Less than two years from now, most of us here will be seated at a Cabinet table, along with other highly-qualified, mature and dedicated public servants, comparing ambitious reforms aimed at getting America moving again. If we’re wise, those gatherings will include representatives from all major interests, including the very finest men and women from mature and patriotic U.S. conservatism.
“And yes, one of us standing here will be president, skillfully drawing out great ideas that the best of us have to contribute. I think that president… the one presiding at that ongoing working group… should be me. In fact the traits you should be looking for are maturity, balance, and the likelihood that I will – that any of us will – get the most out of that vigorous and diverse team of rivals… so refreshingly different from anything we’ve seen, during this or any Republican administration.
“So let’s start down that road, reminding voters that this isn’t so much about left orright, or details of Medicare for All. It’s about replacing Rule-By-Cranky-Rich-Toddlers, bringing maturity and grownup process back to the government we all own and share.”
A prioritized list of things to get done…
…immediately, ASAP and in due time.
Oh, sure we must make plans and prioritize. But I propose that priority order should be based on time. First, what clear, urgent and obvious reforms can be accomplished almost immediately, fixing potential lethalities while paving the way for more progress? These things can be done while committees start their hearings and legislative markups for the sort of changes that require a year or more of hard legislative work.
Bear in mind the price we all paid in 1993-4, when Hillary Clinton concentrated only on the latter, shooting for a comprehensive health care system all in one swell foop… and wound up accomplishing nothing. Remember that enemies of the Republic are canny and backed by infinite resources. Even if America wins victories in 2020, the Confederacy may come roaring back, as we saw in 1994 and 2010.
In the preceding chapter on “Splitterism,” I offered 31 flavors – or action items – that have broad Democratic support, that can and should get action in the new Congress’s first 90 days, some of them even the first week! And yes, many would be “incremental” down payments. But just expanding Medicare to include all children and youths up to age 25 might pass almost instantly, because every parent in America would punish any obstructers!
So let’s start this chapter on things to do by looking again at a swarm of quick bills that each contain incentives for the opposition to negotiate.
We’ll also look at reforms we never knew to be necessary, till a weirdly unbalanced, narcissist chief executive made us ponder them.
Then come reforms that will surprise the foe! And the public! Judo moves in keeping with the title of this book.
Finally – because I’m also a science fiction author – we’ll throw in some “crackpot” proposals that seem… well… so crazy that some of them just might work.
Prioritize these immediately.
Again, your time in power may be brief! So Democrats and Americans who want reform – and even any wakened/woke conservatives – ought to jump at these … even just as down payments for more.
1. Those 31 basic consensus goals shared by almost all Democratic Party candidates, representatives and pundits, are repeated here from Chapter 12:
· Electoral reform: end gerrymandering, rigged voting machines, voter suppression and other cheats,
· Election money transparency and big steps toward reducing the political dominance of cash,
· Restore our alliances and fair trade,
· Deter acts of war (cyber/electoral/trade etc.) against our nation/institutions,
· End "supply side" vampirism by the aristocracy we rebelled against in 1776,
· Infrastructure (fixing the nation while filling worker pockets and upping money velocity), paid for by ending supply side voodoo,
· Children out of cages, refugees given safe places to live and process,
· Whistleblower protections and rewards for those revealing corruption and blackmail; plus a five year limit on non-disclosure agreements,
· Attack international banking secrecy, shell company games, hidden ownership, money laundering (Delaware Joe may only go halfway on this... but half beats none!)
· A Marshall Plan for Central America, to reduce refugees the right way. Hold their gangs and corrupt elites accountable,
· Medicare for all children (a start, so popular that the GOP can’t dare refuse),
· Climate action – vigorous first steps,
· Restore science, R&D and technological leadership as national strengths,
· Protect women’s autonomy, credibility, voices and command over their own bodies,
· Consumer protection, empower the Consumer Financial Protection Board.
· At least allow student debt refinancing. Analyze and start doing much more.
· Restore the postal savings bank for the un-banked,
· Basic, efficient, universal background checks,
· Basic-level Net Neutrality for consumers,
· A revised-throttled War Powers Act and limit presidential emergency powers,
· Civil Service protection,
· Reject racism, gender-phobia, Nazism etc. as evils while calming all sanctimonies,
· Restore respect for things called facts. Support professions that use them. Help set up competing but respect-worthy fact-checking services.
· Restore rebuttal rules on “news” channels,
· Emoluments supervision. Audit the cheating, money-laundering oligarchy,
· Ease out of the damned drug war (at least don’t impede states),
· Anti-trust breakup of monopoly/duopolies,
· Allow pharma renegotiation and stop the tricks that stymie generics,
· Restore some of the social contract set up by the FDR-loving "Greatest Generation" (GG).
…and finally number thirty-one…
· Win. Rip every branch and tool of power away from what has mutated into an international cabal of gangsters, carbon kings, casino moguls, slumlords, Wall Street parasites, petro-boyars, inheritance brats, drug kingpins, communist tyrants, “ex”-communist KGB agents and Nazis. Overwhelmingly and decisively defeat that monstrous consortium and save civilization.
2. Double emphasis on quickly enacting these specifics. (Admittedly my own top priorities.)
· Whistleblower protection and forgiveness as a lure to end blackmail or corruption of public servants.
· Under the 13th Amendment, require all states with voter ID laws to devote enough compliance assistance to cut the number of citizens with ID problems in half, each year.
· Limit non-disclosure agreements with amnesty for exposing those revealing crimes.
· A national Election Day (or perhaps even better a half-day) holiday, for those who actually vote.
· In every “red” state where the GOP grasp on power (legislature and governor) loosens even for just one term, quickly institute a referendum process allowing citizens to bypass the legislature by petitioning ballot measures, as proved effective already in half of the states. Let the GOP try to rescind that power later, if they get back in. Let them just try.
· A world ownership treaty. Okay, I’ll leave that one mysterious, for later. But Liz’s wealth tax idea will be futile without it.
3. Weaknesses in our system that were exposed by Donald Trump, that must be corrected. Congress needs to remedy a number of potentially calamitous holes in current law, or even the Constitution, exposed by this raving... phenomenon. And if Courts say we can’t constrain him, then constrain his resources. Several of these are already included in the list of 31 consensus goals. But Trump has made them urgent. Explanations here are brief, but with some links.
-- No foreign meetings without multiple trustworthy U.S. witnesses. (Needs no explanation.)
-- War powers. Adjustments, long needed, are especially urgent in time of Trump. This must be done carefully, so as not to play into adversary hands. But it must be done. Along with revised rules for when the chief executive may declare an “emergency.”
-- Carefully revive the special prosecutor law. Democrats were tricked into letting it go, in exhaustion after the insanely absurd and fruitless “Clinton investigations.” There must be a way to sunset witch hunts – say if they fail to get grand jury indictments during any three month period – while empowering those that do.)
-- Strengthen the 25th amendment. It was originally intended to deal with non-hostile transfers of power due to incapacity. A president with a fanatically loyal cabinet and/or VP is immune. One incremental step: establish the amendment’s “other body” out of the nation’s most august retired judges, scientists and presidents. (See Chapter 16 or “Exit strategies: Surprising aspects of the 25th Amendment.”)
-- Establish by law a role for professional organizations (e.g. the Bar Association) in the vetting of presidential appointment nominees.
-- Make physical and mental examination by external experts annually routine for all senior office holders including President, Vice President, and leaders of Congress.
-- Enact limitations on “acting” officials. Cabinet offices left empty past a certain interval get assigned to senior civil servants.
-- Charge the new Inspector General of the United States (IGUS - see below) to investigate and report on emoluments and other constitutional matters.
-- Set in place rules for slow indictment. We must overcome by law that vague “guidance letter” issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Council (OLC), that declares no one may indict a sitting president. (Donald Trump’s attorneys have even asserted one cannot be distracted by investigations.)Preventing that monstrous assertion from becoming established precedent is critical. One alternative is slow indictment. “A president cannot be burdened with more than ten hours a week spent on all personal legal defenses.” Yes, that would still allow the Oval Office to slow things down. It might frustrate us all. But slowing accountability is not the same thing as murdering it, which Trump’s lawyers seek to do. Justice could at least be seen grinding forward, without conceding an insane principle that presidents are above the law.
-- Does a President have the power to declassify anything? Everything? Fix this, while strengthening time limits on classification.
-- Compulsory briefings – for example, the Science Adviser shall have uninterrupted access to the President for at least two one-hour sessions per month. (See below in this chapter: “honoring the losing side.”)
-- Severely tighten whim and vacation expenses reimbursement rules.
-- By law establish a civil service position distinct from Chief of Staff... that of White House Manager, whose function is to supervise all non-political functions and staff. This would include building maintenance for the Executive Mansion and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, but also the switchboard, the Travel Office and … and the Secret Service protection detail (!), since there are no justifications for the President or political staff to have any command authority over such apolitical employees.
-- Assign to the Government Accountability Office a new task – a bureau that will answer any Congressional member’s request to score on fact versus lies. Taking into account many kinds of ambiguity, we still need something to replace today’s chaos of “Sez you!” Until we get the FACT Act.
 Other than my own unqualified ruminations on philosophy, history and economics. Other than those.
 Want to ensure further increments? Just include an escalator clause ramping up that youth cutoff yearly, to 26, then 27… and bringing the Senior Citizen end downward from 65. With those clocks ticking, just watch as the insurance companies rush to negotiate!
 Written long before the Whistleblower Affair of October 2019.
 “Exit strategies Part II: Surprising aspects of the 25th Amendment.” http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2017/08/exit-strategies-part-ii-surprising.html Extensively updated to be part of Chapter 16 in this volume.
 All the times Trump has asserted he can do anything he wants. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sl_gO3uOds8
 Newt Gingrich’s 2018 assault on the Congressional Budget Office as “partisan” is nothing new. In 95, Newt led in demolishing the Office of Technology Assessment or OTA, science & tech advisors who had been hired by earlier (mostly Republican) Congresses to render neutral advice on what’s pragmatic under physical law. This advice proved irksome to dogmatists. Instead of correcting any “bias” by adding some conservative techies to OTA, they burned out the bureau, letting GOP reps declare anything they liked to be “true” without quibbles from boffins.