Wednesday, October 14, 2020

What might we do, if adults actually negotiated for good of America and the world? Another chapter!

  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…



Chapter 13


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


First half 

Our main focus till now[1] 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![2]


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,

·      DACA,

·       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.[3]

·      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.”[4])

--  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.)[5]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.[6] 



[1] Other than my own unqualified ruminations on philosophy, history and economics. Other than those.

[2] 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!

[3] Written long before the Whistleblower Affair of October 2019.

[4]  “Exit strategies Part II: Surprising aspects of the 25th Amendment.” Extensively updated to be part of Chapter 16 in this volume.

[5] All the times Trump has asserted he can do anything he wants.

[6] 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.



Acacia H. said...

Doctor Brin said this (in the previous thread):
One of the sickest/stupidest cult chants of the left is to howl that whatever gender choice you made was hard-wired. Sure that's an element. But it's source was convenience, telling parent: "it's not up for discussion." Yes, a large part appears to be inbuilt, I don't denay that! But future generations will surely deem that notion of genetic compulsion weirdly at-odds with notions of self-determination.

Okay. I think I'm possibly the most appropriate person to respond to this, being a transwoman (and what's more, someone who lived over 40 years thinking she was a man). My answer is that I have always been a woman, and without evidence of the soul's existence, it is most likely there is a genetic component to my being transgender.

I was born over 50 years ago. Sex education for me was basic education about the male and female reproductive systems, a video showing childbirth that honestly turned me off of sex for a decade, and a couple books my parents had lying around the house including "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sex (But Were Afraid to Ask). I first learned about "crossdressing" from one of those "about sex" books, and it fascinated me. Until that point? No idea at all! Almost getting caught trying on my mom's clothes as a teenager quickly dissuaded me of the whole dressing as I honestly preferred. And my exposure about transgender people was around three paragraphs. In short, there was nothing out there to educate me and this was back in the days of Darpanet and Listserves.

One thing that should have been a warning sign but for the fact I knew nothing about transgender issues was that I'd daydream of waking up in a female friend's body (akin to the "Freaky Friday" switching bodies story). I was always curious as to what it would be like to be a girl. And most of the protagonists in stories I wrote and my preferred gender in computer games and tabletop roleplaying was female. 20/20 hindsight shows all the signs were there but for the fact that at first I knew nothing, and then later I knew too little and was scared due to my ignorance.

For decades I basically didn't date. I was attracted to women, but never connected to women in a romantic fashion - to the point that I can count my romantic partners on one hand. That said, I did have this very odd tendency to have women confide all sorts of things to me that absolutely baffled me... because something about me said "she can be trusted." I was one of the girls. I just had a male body.

Probably a decade ago I started thinking of myself as "gender fluid" which, honestly, I think is trans-speak for "questioning your gender before admitting you're either transgender or nonbinary." It was always the same. "I wish I could just wave a magic wand and become a girl so I could walk in her footsteps for a day." The silent addition was "and if I preferred being a girl? Stay one."

(continued) Acacia

Acacia H. said...

(Part 2)

It was the conscious realization that I'm actually a girl that resulted in me going down the path I am in. I started therapy to confirm being transgender (and honestly surprised the therapist because I was (and still am) absolutely sure I am a girl. I started hormones and am still on them and plan on having surgery.

There is not a single sociological reason for me to "decide" to be transgender. I was raised to be a straight boy, and thought of myself as one for the longest time. (Compulsory Heterosexuality and Heteronormativity.) For some time the thought of being transgender was scary to me. Surgery is permanent. If you change your mind, you're stuck that way. But upon realizing who I am? I realize all the signs were there, for decades. I just didn't realize it.

You don't, under most circumstances, "choose" your sexual "preference" - it's chosen for you by society, or it's a genetic (and theoretically spiritual) aspect of you. Without evidence of the soul and spirituality? Well, what else could it be?

I am an asexual lesbian transwoman. I am attracted to women, but sex honestly weirds me out. I also want to physically be what my mind realizes I am - a woman. And so I'm on hormones to make this so, and will have surgery. I didn't choose any of this. I just rolled the genetic dice or had a mutation or something that altered some aspect of me to be who I am.

Personally, I also think there's a spiritual aspect to it. But if there is such an aspect, then once more... this has nothing to do with choice. It has to do with who and what you are.

Could I live as a male? No. That would not be living. It would be existing. I existed for over 30 years, once puberty hit. Likewise, a lesbian could be married to a man and have sex with him, a gay man could be married to a woman and have sex with her... but they would inherently feel something was wrong. They would be existing in that life.


TCB said...

Re: "Marshall Plan for Central America, to reduce refugees the right way. Hold their gangs and corrupt elites accountable."

In no small degree, this goes directly against the wishes of Wall Street and US conservatives, including a goodly chunk of our defense establishment and foreign policy makers. The US is probably at least 1/3 to blame for why gangs and corrupt elites are such an intractable feature of life in almost all Latin American countries. The School of the Americas (now called WHINSEC, or Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) at Fort Benning is little more than a finishing school for Latin American fascists, torturers, and juntas. Other training units at Fort Benning have produced tactically savvy and savage members of Mexican drug cartels.

Fort Benning should be razed and salted, I tell you. The fascism we're now seeing in the US is the same brand we've exported south of the border since Smedley Butler was a young Marine officer, and good luck convincing more than a tenth of Congress to pull the plug on that.

(Am I asserting that, left to themselves, the various nations of Central and South America would all turn into lovely little mixed-economy Swedens and peaceful, polite Canadas? Not necessarily. What I do assert is that we Americans have never given them the help they would need to find out, and on the contrary we tend to smash any Latin American social experiment that might cost US corporations money.)

In sum, I am totally in favor of "Marshall Plan for Central America, to reduce refugees the right way. Hold their gangs and corrupt elites accountable." But let's not kid ourselves: it would gore a lot of the most powerful (and vindictive) oxen in modern US politics. Probably can't be done without tumbrels.

David Brin said...

Acacia very moving and enlightening. And I am glad we are expanding our horizons of inclusion! But yes, each case may be simple or complicated. And that's my point.

Acacia H. said...

I don't see that as the case. I may not be grasping what you are trying to say.

The reason there are more LGBTQ+ people out today is that society is not trying to kill them as actively. Thus we are coming out of the woodwork. We already were there. There were men who married women but were gay and carried on gay relationships while married. There were women who were lesbians married to men and were miserable (or carried on lesbian relationships while married). There are bisexuals who are bisexual whether they date the same or opposite gender. There are asexual women who never enjoy sex and just... live miserable married lives because they are forced in a role they are not happy with. And in all likelihood, this is genetic. Or at least until we have proof of the soul, we have no reason to think it is not.

Being LGBTQ+ is not a choice. The choice? The choice is hiding who you are, being in the closet. Right now, I'm in the closet to much of my family because my parents insisted while stating my being transgender is shameful. I'm lucky, I live in a part of the country (and world) that is more tolerant to transgender people and to the LGBTQ+ community. Other people hide who they are because they would be rendered homeless or threatened with violence or death if the truth came out. The choice again is hiding who we are, not in WHAT we are.

So when Leftists and Liberals state gender is hard-wired? It is in all likelihood hard-wired. It is genetic. It is a part of who we are. And when it comes to people who "change their mind" it is because society and family is forcing them, not because they are not who they are. I've heard of cases where children "changed their minds" up until they are able to move out and away from their parents and then when not being browbeaten by "concerned parents" they once again embrace who they are.


Der Oger said...

Acacia H. has already said the most important parts, so I will only add some thoughts.

1) "Sexual Preference" is a term that not only implies that you can choose to be LGBT+ or not, but also, that is sexual and carnal in nature only. It completely omits romantic feelings and falling in love with someone. This is why "Gender Identity" is used.
2) Don't Ask, Don't Tell might have been helpful, but it was only a step - like, it was stop hanging and burning people for falling in love with each other. There are more steps to go to reach overall acceptance.
3) To get LGBTQ+-People back into the closet is the goal of the far right and sexual chauvinists. They need them to be less visible to build up all that myths and lies to divide the society further.
4) There is a high percentage of LGBT+ youths committing suicide each year, as victims of bullying and punishment. There is a higher overall number of addictions and mental afflictions that in no doubt results from the inner turmoils that afflict people who have to suppress what they really are.
5) Consider the loss of talent with each kid gone! I don't find the study, but at times, intelligence agencies have had grave difficulties finding foreign language translators and rejected a large portion of gay men.
6) LGBTQ+ to go in forced hiding leave a fertile soil for blackmail. And blackmailing people with their sexual identity was a practice used by many secret services (not only the KGB). Go, ask Lindsay Graham.
7)The same people who are shunning LGBTQ+ people are usually the same ones persecuting immigrants, other religions, unions and political opponents. I deem it necessary to work together, overcoming differences between groups, networking/forming bonds to resist divisiveness. In a way, use the reverse of the "First, they came for the communists"-poem.

An CNN article I just found:

Der Oger said...


One would think an "originalist"/"textualist" wouldn't have a hard time on this one:

or in other words:

Lloyd Flack said...

Accacia, there is also the possibility that sexual orientation and sexual identity are at least partially determined by the hormonal environment that they were exposed to in utero. In fact this might be more important than genetics. And of course it is no more a matter of choice than one's genetic makeup.

Tim H. said...

Acacia, as the parent of a grown child I find the presumption implicit in "Being browbeaten by concerned parents" breathtaking. The role of a parent must change as a child develops their own personality because speech is such a limited view into another person's headspace. May your choices diminish unhappiness, Tim H.

Tim H. said...

Given the theme of this chapter, I think it's a good time to recall that "The New Deal" was very much a compromise involving southern Democrats* and Republicans, hardly the steamroller it's depicted as, IMNSHO, the descendants of early twentieth century plutocrats conflate the damage of the New Deal with the self-inflicted harms of an unregulated market run amok.

*With predictably tragic results.

Also not a bad time to think about those who saw Fascists up close:

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the previous comments:

The more innocent explanation for the fake boxes is that the churches hosting them want to make sure all their parishoners HAVE voted. It's still nasty.

I get the first sentence. I still don't understand what's nasty about it. And I'm someone willing to believe the worst of Republicans at the drop of a hat, but I'm confused about what evil is being accomplished in this particular case.

Larry Hart said...


Does anything you are asserting call into question my sense that "sexual preference" simply means the gender of sexual partner that one really does prefer? That it really isn't saying that one prefers to be that way?

And I hope this doesn't come across as snarky, because it's not meant that way. For decades, I've gotten a giggle out of the Woody Allen line, "I'm a lesbian trapped in a man's body." Guess I have to re-think that one.

Darrell E said...

Regarding choice and gender, there is no reasonable doubt that the norm is that individuals are predisposed to a certain gender. We don't know all the minute details and there is a large range of variation, but there is no doubt that the norm is that some combination of genes and environment result in a gender identity that choice had no part in. There are lots of other inputs in the mix of course. Cultural pressures, peer pressure, indoctrination and much more can all affect how a predisposition for a certain gender identity actually instantiates.

But, I'm not so sure that arguing with anti-LGBTQ+ people about whether or not being so is a choice is a good tactic. For one, it's the argument they want to have. But mostly, I don't think it should matter one fucking bit whether it's a choice or not. I think that is simply misdirection. How people act, dress and what kind of sexual activities they want to engage in and with whom, is nobody else's business, especially the state's (All reasonable caveats regarding consent, minors and not causing undo impact, let alone harm, to others.).

It shouldn't matter whether it's a choice or not and I don't think it's a good idea to let anti-LGBTQ+ folks get away with framing it that way, even though they are factually wrong about it. If I were to choose to dress and act like a woman, and to have sex with another man, I don't think anyone, particularly the state, has any more right to persecute me in any way compared to if I were compelled to do those things by my nature.

We don't make this sort of distinction for rights in general, but you know where we do make this distinction? In cases of criminal behavior, when deciding whether or not a criminal was of sound enough mind to have been competent to choose whether or not to commit the criminal act. Ceding to the opposition that the argument hinges on "choice" seems to me to be accepting the trappings of criminal behavior. And that's pure bullshit.

Larry Hart said...

On court-packing...

Although Republicans are universally warning how undemocratic it would be for Democrats to expand the U.S. Supreme Court next year, at the state level they are wildly enthusiastic about the idea. Strange. Oddly, their views on court packing seem to correlate rather strongly with who is doing the packing.

[List of states in which Republican Legislatures increased or decreased the size of the state supreme court in whichever way favored them politically]

In nearly all the cases above, increasing or decreasing the size of the state Supreme Court would have helped the Republicans. Often the ideological balance of the Court was at stake. Clearly at the state level, the Republicans have been playing ideological hardball with the courts and sometimes succeeding. It would be hypocritical in the extreme if they condemned Democrats in a potential Biden administration for doing at the federal level what they have been actively trying to do at the state level for years. Needless to say, they will say that packing the state Supreme Courts with Republicans is completely different from packing the U.S. Supreme Court with Democrats. But it follows the same hallowed principle: It is legal and we have the power to do it so we will do it.

jim said...

David Brin said...
The more innocent explanation for the fake boxes is that the churches hosting them want to make sure all their parishoners HAVE voted. It's still nasty.

OH man, now a simple strait forward get out the vote campaign is a sign that your political opponents are NASTY. I mean how dare the nasty registered voters actually vote!! They may not be voting my preferred candidate, I bet those church goers are a bunch of nasty, stupid, racists. That is the only reason I can imagine why someone would not want vote for Joe Biden.

Pappenheimer said...

Dr. Brin,

You might want to move "restore the OTA" from your footnotes to be a part of your main body. Our government needs unbiased technical assessment. Unfortunately, for a large number of the Replicants - sorry, Republicans - I have met (particularly in the military) facts have a liberal bias and they need to be free to choose their own. Which is why the OTA was ditched to begin with, I guess.


The OTA has been gone so long that it doesn't show up in Google searches.

Larry Hart said...

Stonekettle (on Twitter) absolutely nails what should be obvious even to the most obtuse by now:

To Trump supporters, ratfucking is feature, not a bug. They honestly don't give a shit about anything, the future, their own lives, the lives of their children, so long as they can stick it to the libs. It's road rage as a political ideology and nothing more

jim said...

In reading your post I was struck by how you repeated mention of spatiality and soul only to back away and use genetics as an explanation for your experience. It seems to me that your lived experience may be leading you to a more spiritual understanding of your human condition.

I would like to encourage you to give a spiritual understanding of your life a try.
You may find that a belief in reincarnation may open up a way not just to find personal acceptance for your trans identity but a way to find real peace and joy in a life so filled with challenges I can barely even imagine. Go ahead and believe that you really do have a soul, a divine spark that carries over from one lifetime to the next. That in your past lives you have been both a man and a woman and in this life for some reason your soul needs you to live as a trans person.

And hey Acacia, you are doing it, you are finding a way to become yourself -not what society tells you, you have to be nor what the genitalia you were born with indicated either. You have found a way to Will Acacia into existence -- that is quite a spiritual and personal accomplishment.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"OH man, now a simple strait forward get out the vote campaign is a sign that your political opponents are NASTY."
Given the complete lack of trustworthiness of today's GOP, 'nasty' is an entirely appropriate word for when they try to circumvent official voting channels.
It's not just nasty--it's illegal, a direct violation of California election law, and they are defiant about orders to remove their illegal and nasty boxes.
Between the Barrett nomination and this, you have a perfect example of how religion and politics thoroughly corrupt one another.

scidata said...

Re: road rage as a political ideology

I played board games as a teen. One fellow would invariable lose, despite having a high IQ and better grades than any of the rest of us. Every time the game would turn against him, even temporarily, he'd flip the board and storm out. Tragic. What a waste. Asimov was right to focus so much attention on psychology. It is indeed the entire ballgame. The most dangerous and effective enemy any of us have is in the mirror.

Cari Burstein said...

I can see two possible interpretations of Brin's using the term nasty to describe the more innocent explanation:

1) That the churches are actually pressuring parishoners to vote more actively than just giving them ballot boxes (imagine if your boss was threatening to dock your pay if you didn't vote, and had a ballot box outside the office to make sure you were doing it). I'm not sure this is significantly different than churches doing other activities to encourage voting, such as driving people to the polls, but it I guess depends on what kind of pressure they're exerting and whether people feel free to make their own decisions on whether to vote and who to vote for.

2) That regardless of if the explanation is innocent, they are still clearly breaking the law, and should know as much, so doing it is nasty regardless of whether they're just trying to do it to encourage voting.

I think really what it boils down to for me is that this is a clear violation of the law that they know is a violation of the law, and they seem to be doing it more to muddy the waters, make a stink about the designated voter implementation (perhaps to make it not allowed in the future).

I hope they don't actually intend to perpetrate additional illegal acts such as actually messing with which ballots are delivered, but I can't say it's not a possibility given that they are going out of their way to do something illegal in a very public fashion, and it's hard to see a lot of good justifications for it. If their concern was a lack of good locations for ballot dropboxes, they could have fought for that some far more appropriate way, so I highly doubt that's their objective. If they really wanted to improve turnout in areas like the churches, they could have just announced a program to provide designated ballot return there, with the appropriate signatures affixed and all. The point can't be just to improve turnout- it is more likely it's to mess with public opinion on how the election is run. So that I do think is rather nasty.

David Brin said...

Cari is right. The MOST innocent explanation is an attempts to coerce their mostly rightist parishioners to actually vote, by checking names on the outside of the envelope.

Next level, tossing the ballots of "that famnily of token liberals in our congregation."

Next level, encouraging neighborhood folks to use the "official" drop-box and doing same. And any use of "official" is simply fraud.

Sorry not to be fully engaged. Swamped. But carry on folks.

matthew said...

I suspect that the California ballot box scam by the GOP is to set the table for declaring that *all* vote by mail / dropbox is fraud, so they have cover for invalidating giant swaths of ballots on Nov. 4th.

Trump admits that winning by court decree is his re-election plan. Why doubt him? He likes to telegraph his moves to his base / judges via public pronouncement.

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

1) "Sexual Preference" is a term that not only implies that you can choose to be LGBT+ or not, but also, that is sexual and carnal in nature only. It completely omits romantic feelings and falling in love with someone. This is why "Gender Identity"

That might be the current left/liberal thinking on the matter, but I think that's self-defeating. If you mean that "sexual preference" shouldn't be used as a synonym for "gender identity", then I agree with you. But if you mean that "sexual preference" is not a meaningful term distinct from "gender identity", then I disagree.

For one thing, sexual preference is about the carnal aspect--who one is physically attracted to. Ok, it's more than just carnal, but it is about sexual attraction. It seems ridiculous to me to deny that, in the same way that I argued in a college course that it was ridiculous to define "sexual harassment" in a way that has nothing to do with sex.

For another thing, Acacia has already made the point with her own personal story that "sexual preference" is a different thing from "gender identity". That the two are more orthogonal to each other than I would have suspected.

Now, I think the point you were trying to make is that the two things are indeed different, and I agree with that. But you said it as if that means one of the two is not a subject worth mentioning, and on that I disagree. There is no way for Acacia to describe being a self-identified female who is attracted to females without mentioning the two things separately. One can't possibly be derived from the other.

Acacia H. said...

Jim, I am a witch. I believe in the Goddess and I thank her on a regular basis for caring for me and loving me unconditionally. I don't think she controls things (outside of on a mischievous level as she does love her occasional odd coincidences), but she observes and I've experienced her love and presence.

The spiritual is very much an aspect of who and what I am.

However, when talking to people who believe facts are an important aspect of what makes things so, you cannot use spectral evidence. What physical evidence do I have of the Goddess? None. What proof do I have of spirituality and the soul? None. Thus this is not evidence that can be used in a discussion where facts are important.

Thus my leaving out "spiritual" and "soul" in my argument.


Tim H., parents can and often do insist their children (even adult children) do what they want. How many parents have asked their adult children "when are you giving us grandkids?" and the like? How many disapprove of an adult child's choices for family? How many disapprove of an adult child who comes out LGBTQ+? There are a multitude of times when parents try to control their children. And yes, being "browbeaten" is something that can and will happen to both juvenile and adult children of parents who are "concerned" with their life choices.


Lloyd, you are correct about your statement. That said, genetics very likely has a far greater role in both gender and sexuality than the hormones we basked in in the womb. After all, the male and female brains are essentially identical, and our environment outside the womb does not alter sexuality or gender. You can be in the most hostile or most loving of environments and yet still be transgender or gay/lesbian. This suggests there is something more than just nurture involved... and the fact that you can be born to rich parents and still LGBTQ, or from a very poor family and yet be LGBTQ really suggests the stresses and hormones of a mother may nudge things a little but ultimately do not alter the bar more than a little.

Interestingly enough, those family genetic tests have me with almost half of my father's chromosomes... but it never truly matched my Y chromosome with my father's. Obviously mine came from him, but seeing 23andMe and Ancestry didn't declare it a direct match leaves me curious if there was some discrepancy in my genetics... or if the companies just don't bother sharing the Y chromosome despite sharing information on the X. ;)


Alfred Differ said...

My suspicions regarding the fake ballot boxes are multi-level. No doubt there are local motivations for people who host the boxes on their property. What's got my attention is a likely motivation at the CA GOP leadership level.

I'd bet they want a court fight so they appear to be more vigorous and feisty than they really are. CA Republicans aren't extinct here yet, but they've been "diminishing to the West" at best. The danger to them is that their voters will give up upon realizing their votes won't matter. If that happens, CA GOP election losses will look less like being overwhelmed by a landslide and more like rats leaving a sinking ship. So… Fight!

This particular fight is intended to make the CA Dems look like they are doing something illegal, illegitimate, and fraudulent. A ballot delivery assistance law is being cast as 'ballot harvesting' and offers them a handle to bring a publicly visible lawsuit. There ARE ways to abuse the law as it is written, but what CA GOP leadership is doing isn't one of them. Doesn't matter, though. They want the legal action NOW even if they are destined to lose it a couple years from now once the public has forgotten the cause.

Alfred Differ said...


OH man, now a simple strait forward get out the vote campaign is a sign that your political opponents are NASTY.

That's one of the most idiotic things I've seen you write here.
You rationalize their violation of the rule of law.

If I see one of those ballot boxes near where I live, I'll return with spray paint to deal with it.

Larry Hart said...


OH man, now a simple strait forward get out the vote campaign is a sign that your political opponents are NASTY. I mean how dare the nasty registered voters actually vote!!

Keeping in mind that I started this by asking (really asking) what the California Republicans were doing that was wrong...

Come on, jim. You and I both know that if (say) Democratic-leaning institutions in Travis County, Texas start creating unauthorized drop boxes so that voters aren't limited to the one box per county in that state, the Republicans will sue in their packed court to have that practice overturned. They've already done so in Pennsylvania.

And therein is the basis of my question--what principle is being violated by Democrats in Pennsylvania that is not also being violated by Republicans in California? Or to turn it around, why shouldn't Democrats in Pennsylvania just say "fuck you" to the court orders the way Republicans are in California?

Anonymous said...

Walk the talk. So Facebook and Twitter where 70% of people get their news censored the New York post article about hunter Biden’s laptop. Which hunter abandoned at a computer store. Twitter also blocked New York post from tweeting and blocked White House press secretary. So do they need to go back and block access to the hacked trump tax returns? Should they block all Snowden material. Is this not an issue because it happened to the other side? Do you trust that this power will only be used for good? Was this used for good in this case? Why not just leave the article access open and write counter investigations. Note Biden has not denied the laptop is hunter’s. They have not denied the email as real. They only say the meeting was not on the official calendar. Is this action not tearing out transparency at its roots? How is this unaccountable to this point censorship justified. At this point it seems like trying to squash it will backfire. There are other means to get the word out. This brazen action makes it look worse for Biden. And it is Twitter and Facebook begging for antitrust and other regulation.

David Brin said...

jim. It's "straight."

duncan cairncross said...

The problem is that if you act as an unofficial ballot "handler" - taking peoples ballots in for them
You NEED to have a signed for chain of custody
That is the LAW

So I can do that but I need to sign for each ballot

An unofficial ballot box does not cannot do that - and the chain of custody is broken

Atomsmith said...

I can think of one reason that defeating the "people choose to be LGBTQ+" argument may be worthwhile: the immutability of that characteristic satisfies one of the criteria for applying "strict scrutiny" to a law in its review for unconstitutional discrimination. This is obviously a technical point, as opposed to a moral one, and, as the saying goes, "I am not a lawyer."

Alternatively, a quip I use: "Why would I choose to go through Real Life in NIGHTMARE!-mode?"

Jon S. said...

Re: sexuality and preferences:

I'm a cishet male. It's not that I "prefer" women, it's that I'm not sexually attracted to men at all. I have a preference for certain types of women, but only women.

The genetic aspect seems like something that might be investigated, if one could devise a survey that doesn't incorporate its own researchers' biases; for example, my eldest brother's first wife was closeted until sometime after the birth of their daughter (and they were divorced after he caught her with the girlfriend she'd never told him about). My niece, OTOH, never even tried to pretend she could be straight; she's happily married to a really funny woman (we haven't met in person yet, but I like her online at least). For her, men aren't an option - again, it's not a "preference" any more than someone with severe lactose intolerance might "prefer" not to consume an extra-large milkshake.

And on the third hand, my wife is bisexual, but likes being female (well, about 3/4 of the time), and has a preference for men. That's the only situation, I think, in which "preference" can apply to either romantic or sexual attraction - when it's within the realm of possibility for the individual to make a different choice of their own will.

So my orientation is heterosexual, my niece's orientation is lesbian (possibly genetic in origin, taking after her mother), and my wife's preference is hetero. Not sure why it's such a big deal for people to adapt to that language, but there you go.

Lorraine said...

Hi Acacia, I hope I'm not throwing a grenade into the room, but is your very consistent practice of spelling trans woman as one word 100% of the time part of a message discipline (as is my adherence to the opposite practice)?

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

So my orientation is heterosexual, my niece's orientation is lesbian (possibly genetic in origin, taking after her mother), and my wife's preference is hetero. Not sure why it's such a big deal for people to adapt to that language, but there you go.

It might be useful to think of the less-inflammatory subject of handedness. Using terms analogous to yours, most people's orientation is right-handed. Some are left-handed instead. A few are ambidextrous and can use either hand equally well.

As to preference, it used to be that left-handed people had to "pass" for right-handed, so many learned as best they could to use their non-dominant hand as if it were their dominant one. In that context, you might say "No one chooses to be left-handed," because it's more trouble than it's worth. But when I was a youngster, I used to pretend that I was left-handed because I had a morbid fascination with the subject. And my dad told me that the first time I picked up a bat and stepped to the plate, I used the lefty stance. That wasn't a political statement--it just felt like the right way to bat (even though I can't bat that way now).

Speaking of baseball, that's where your bi choice comes in. Many batters are ambidextrous--can bat either way--but choose to bat lefty because it's an advantage over right-handed pitchers, and because they stand closer to first base that way. Some righties even learn to switch-hit for those very reasons.

As Dave Sim would say, "What's the significance to you?"

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

I'm a cishet male.'s that I'm not sexually attracted to men at all. I have a preference for certain types of women, but only women.

I'm one of those too. Used to be called "normal", but in college, I suspected that I was a freak for being too heterosexual. Like everyone else was just pretending to only like girls, but they could really go both ways very easily, and because I was only interested in girls, I was somehow deficient.

It's not that I "prefer" women,

Here I will disagree. While I understand your point, I think you're being too narrow in your interpretation of the language. I don't see much if any daylight between "I'm only attracted to women," and "My preference is for women."

Stretching an analogy, though, even though I am only romantically attracted to women (and I use "romantically" as a nod to Der Oger's point that we're not just discussing carnality), I am not inherently monogamous. My preference would actually be to be romantically involved with several women. Not instead of my dearly beloved wife, but along with her. Not just in the abstract either--three very specific women. Knowing what it would do to my wife, my daughter, and my marriage to go down that rabbit hole, I choose to remain completely faithful instead. So you might say my orientation is polygamous, but my chosen lifestyle is monogamous. I'm honestly not sure which you would call my preference in that context.

Likewise, some people whose orientation is solidly gay might choose to live with an opposite-sex partner, not merely as a "beard", but in order to have and raise children. A choice of lifestyle not related to orientation, but in pursuit of a different goal that they deem more important.

Again, "What's the significance to you?"

Larry Hart said...

To the anonymous poro-troll and others including Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass who think there's anything to the New York Post story about Hillary's--I mean Hunter's--emails, read this and then shut the fuck up and crawl back into your hole in shame at your side's incompetence.

Note the sharp edge on the right-hand end of the Gmail logo inside the red oval (ours, not theirs). The real Gmail logo is perfectly round. This clearly indicates that some amateur extracted the logo from another file badly and then pasted it onto the email alleged to be to Hunter Biden about some nefarious activities. In addition, the resolution of the icon is very different from the text of the email, indicating that they came from different sources. In other words, some rank amateur Photoshopper constructed the email images and did a really sloppy job about it.

The email is supposedly from Vadim Pozharskyi, an "adviser" to the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian energy company on whose Board Hunter Biden once sat. It is irrelevant what the email said precisely since it was made up. Suffice it to say that Hunter Biden is not so stupid as to bring a laptop full of incriminating information (including a blurry sex tape) to some random repair shop.

What is interesting is that the FBI is now investigating the matter. The Bureau got a subpoena and seized the laptop so its own experts could scrutinize it. The FBI is concerned that this whole incident could be part of a foreign intelligence operation intended to smear Joe Biden. If so, apparently the GRU is having trouble hiring top tech talent these days. It also indicates the desperation of the Trump campaign, if this is the supposed October surprise. If this kind of story is your cup of (polonium-flavored?) tea, Vanity Fair has a story on it, as does Business Insider and Vice, among many other media outlets.

Larry Hart said...

Ok, here's a better explanation of the California illegal-ballot-box thing. I see that there is a possible motive to conveniently "lose" likely-Dem ballots placed in their boxes, but I wonder how many Democrats are willingly trusting their vote to boxes in churches and gun shops that they have probably already been told are not official receptacles.

My response to the bolded portion below remains, "Why shouldn't the Pennsylvania Democrats do likewise?"

The California GOP's scheme to collect ballots via official-looking, but actually unofficial, deposit boxes remains a big story in the Golden State. It turns out, first of all, that there are far more drop boxes than originally reported. Further, the Republicans have made clear they will not abide by the cease-and-desist letter they received from State Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D).

The precise goal of the California Republican Party here is not entirely clear. The most charitable explanation is that they believe they are engaging in legitimate electioneering in hopes of clawing back some of the House seats they lost in 2018. The less charitable explanation is that they are deliberately bending the rules in order to force an unfriendly-to-Democrats change in state election law, or to generate some unfriendly-to-Democrats PR, or both. The least charitable explanation is that they plan to go through the ballots, cross reference the external signature to voter rolls, and "lose" the ones that appear to be Democratic. Whatever is going on, at least one prominent California Republican is not impressed. Former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the last Republican to win a governor's election in the state, said on Thursday night that the California GOP has gone "off the rails."

In any case, the ball is now in Becerra's court. His certain-to-be-ignored deadline for removing the boxes is Sunday, so we will presumably learn what he will do sometime early next week

Tacitus said...

The Hunter Biden bombshell does not at this time pass the smell test. My nose is pretty sensitive and non partisan.

If the FBI has the original source drive they would do a great public service by expediting their analysis of it and making the results known. I'm critical of much that the FBI has been up to in recent years but they have the tech expertise to do this. And darn it, ultimately they work for us, not the current or past administration.

I have lots more to say on the matter of the coercive branches of government (law enforcement and others) but it can wait.


Acacia H. said...

@Lorraine: I'm not quite sure what grenade you think you're throwing. I write transwomen as one word because that's how I've predominantly seen it spelled. I can also write it trans women and you know something? Spellcheck doesn't flag either version. I do know it's easier to type transwomen than trans women as the space creates a specific "stop" for the word. In a etymological perspective, the phrase transwomen might mentally create the sense of differentiation, while trans women is more akin to Black women, Hispanic women, or Asian women - it becomes an adjective.

That said, we don't say "lesbian women" because lesbians are women. We do say bisexual women or asexual women because you can be bisexual or asexual and a different gender. Thus the use of transwomen instead of trans women could be because transwomen are women, just as lesbians are women.


Anonymous, your comment is wrong. The reason is that the e-mails from Biden are faked and have been determined to be faked due to the pixelation of where the e-mail is from. The VP logo on the e-mails are evidence of the e-mails being faked and the article goes into depth showing how you can confirm that these e-mails are in fact false.


Alfred Differ said...

In honor of the partial Germanic heritage of the English language…

…henceforth I shall spell 'trans woman' as 'transwoman',
…henceforth I shall spell 'gay man/men' as 'gayman/men',
…and other similar concatenations no matter what my spellchecker says.

The point being to shift from using an adjective modifying a noun to a new noun.
We can do that in English. Add new words. We do it all the time.

We also make a mess of some of them. 'Prefer' is a good example.

I prefer to wake up whenever I wake up naturally without an alarm clock.
I prefer a full breakfast to a continental breakfast.
I prefer to be rich instead of poor.
I prefer to live in a house than be homeless.
I prefer to have a willing sexual partner rather than an unwilling one.
I prefer to live free than serve as a slave.
I prefer to eat rather than starve.
I prefer to live rather than die.

Same English verb, right? Pfft. Only at a lexical level.

'Sexual Preference' discussions run into trouble when we mis-apply additional meanings. They run into further trouble when they fail to recognize that our genomes are non-deterministic.

A former regular around here (PSB) got me to read Sapolsky's book "Behave". I regret (somewhat) the loss of my over-simplistic explanations for why people do stupid things, but I cherish the multi-layered model one must adopt to have a remote chance of comprehending behavioral causation. We still live in a world rarely reducible to problems with few dimensions solvable by algorithms, so feature-rich models[*] are to be treasured.

* [Yah. Them too.]

Der Oger said...

"Former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the last Republican to win a governor's election in the state, said on Thursday night that the California GOP has gone "off the rails.""

Does anyone except me see the irony of an Austrian immigrant speaking out against a far right party?

Larry Hart said...


And darn it, ultimately they [the FBI] work for us, not the current or past administration.

In theory they work for us.

In practice, their boss's boss is Bill Barr, and their boss's boss's boss is Donald Trump.

In theory, Bill Barr and Donald Trump work for us, but in in practice, they are self-serving criminals.

The way to get the FBI to work for us again is to take over the presidency and the AGship.

Larry Hart said...

Acacia H:

Anonymous, your comment is wrong.

He (or maybe it) doesn't care. Four years ago, he (or maybe it) or someone indistinguishable from him (or maybe it) was torqued off because no one on this blog was discussing the pedophile ring being run by Democrats out of the secret basement tunnels in Comet Pizza. Just as Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass was assuring us at the time that we must not ignore the tenth Benghazi hearings out of fatigue, because this time would reveal something important. These people (or Russian bots) have nothing to add to the conversation, not even reasonable opposition.

The best response is mockery followed by not listening.

David Smelser said...

What the CA GOP is doing appears to be in response to DEM efforts in 2018 to go door to door on election day to collect mail in ballots to drop them off.

"...In the past, California allowed only relatives or people living in the same household to drop off mail ballots for another voter. The new law allowed anyone, even a paid political campaign worker, to collect and return ballots — “harvesting” them, in political slang.

In Orange County alone, where every House seat went Democratic, 'the number of Election Day vote-by-mail dropoffs was unprecedented — over 250,000'

"In one Orange County household, for example, both the husband and wife were longtime Republicans, said Dale Neugebauer, a veteran Republican consultant. Democratic volunteers came by the house four times, each time asking to speak only with their 18-year-old daughter, a no-party-preference voter, and asking if she wanted them to pick up her signed and completed ballot."

Larry Hart said...

Ya think?

President Donald Trump is trailing significantly in the polls at the moment, and some current White House officials are already worried that they will have a tough time finding work should he crash and burn in the 2020 presidential election.

The Washington Post reports that many Trump staffers and GOP operatives are worried that their reputations have been at least temporarily ruined by their decision to work for the president, who at the moment appears likely to lose the election in less than three weeks.

Gee, who would have guessed that giving up your integrity to kiss a narcissistic sociopath's ring would have a downside?

Der Oger said...

@Pachydemis:"And darn it, ultimately they work for us, not the current or past administration."

I'd say organizations and bureaucracies like the FBI work for themselves, primarily, though there may be secondary and tertiary priorities. That might sound cynical, but also could be seen as a firewall against being abused/misused/corrupted by politicians.

scidata said...

Gee, who would have guessed that giving up your integrity and selling out your countrymen to kiss a narcissistic sociopath's ring would have a downside?

Alfred Differ said...

Der Oger,

The irony is amusing on a couple levels.

That particular immigrant is pretty straight forward in his defense of liberty. I didn't vote for him, but not out of disrespect. He is usually pretty direct about what he means to say. Refreshing.

He's also a decent example of why we need immigrants. Some Americans are simply born on the wrong side the border. I suspect there are a billion more out there who would do well here if we had the courage to accept them and their other differences. Rather than make them all come here, though, I'd be willing to annex them. Culturally at least. 8)

Anonymous said...

Walk the talk. Not asking you to believe the emails or the laptop. However, I would note that David Brin and presumably people who like his work claim to be champions of transparency. Claim that you will suooort whistle blowing from the other side. So your interpretation of fairness and transparency is to not mention or complain about twitter and Facebook censorship. The Russian collusion had three years of investigation and came back with no chargable crimes. Your side complained about less than $2 million of Russian social media efforts. But ignore suppression by Twitter and Facebook of the New York post. If your evidence is so good then you should have no fear in showing it side by side. I don’t fear your data or arguments. I am willing to listen to them. I want to see the investigation. But clearly there will tons of emails. Video and pictures coming from what is clearly hunters laptop. Your side will have to explain the wire transfers and plenty of other evidence beyond the one email. It will be many emails. But the main things are you saw major censorship from big tech and have said nothing. IF your guy gets in you can expect 3 years of a special investigation. You are delusional if you think “this phase of the civil war ends with any result in this election”. Your side won’t surrender. The other side won’t surrender. Trump will have rallies, a trump cable channel and his own version of Twitter. Russia and China and every other country will keep playing and supporting both sides. Both sides will have their own facts. You can ignore this too. But when the civil war continues and gets louder and more violent for years you can remember that it should not be a surprise. Also. Don’t be surprised if the electoral college goes against you again. We will see in a few weeks

David Brin said...

I have a short trigger to ban anonymous yowlers, these days. But sure, I'll answer this one., You stunning hypocrite! Accusing me of hypocrisy for shrugging at the yawnworthy Hunter Biden "revelations that no one, not you or anyone else, actually cites a criminal code that applies to any inctable degree. Take it to a damned grand jury, will you? You nut-jobs have had every level of government, an utterly politicized top Justice Department, and all three branches of government. The Senate can still subpoena, so DO IT!

Cite a law that was broken first, will you please? Never mind comparisons of scale, with every Trump child on any random business day committing more crimes than Hunter B has across his life. (Bet me on that?)

"The Russian collusion had three years of investigation and came back with no chargable crimes."

An absolute knowing lie! Manafort is in prison now for acting as spy/agent/bagman for the Russian puppet who owned and terrorized Ukrains on Putin's behalf. Several more. But Mueller said he could not PROVE direct conspiracy according to the prim definitions and burden of proof on prosecution. He also said that the coincidences of quid pro quo stink to high heabve... AND YOU KNOW HE SAID THAT.

Many, many communications with foreign despots - SIX long ones with Putin -- in which Trump banned all reliable US witnesses. If a dem had done that, your guts would have exploded, you incredible hypocrite.

Dig this well. Half a billion dollars of mostly our money was spent — across 25 years — investigating the Clintons and Obamas, the most thoroughly probed humans in the history of our species. Every document scrutinized, nothing withheld, every file dissected, every micro assistant grilled. Half of all subpoenas issued by the last five lazy-ass GOP Congresses were part of that futile, desperate search. Half! In one repetitious, pompously posing hearing after another. But Clinton/Obama never demanded the investigations stop, the way today's scaredy-cat toddler does, daily.

The Kochs and Mercers etc. offered "whistleblower rewards" in the TENS of millions for any Clinton-connected person to reveal a smoking gun and rat out alleged "secret Clinton deals and travesties." Not $130,000 but tens of millions! And oh, they did get lots of nibbles from folks in the Clinton orbit, eagerly offering "dirt," but there was never a single thing of use. Fox offered lucrative commentator posts and other incentives... and only got hot air. Never the sort of indictable evidence that the Mueller probe is getting DAILY on trumpists and other goppers, ranging from child molesters to money launderers to Kremlin stooges.

But there's more. George Bush diverted federal investigators from anti-terror duties, before 9/11 to sift every federal filing cabinet for some smoking gun. Before... 9/11. Think about that. It should have been a huge scandal. But that extensive sifting across every filing cabinet and email found... nothing useful at all.

After all that, what did we wind up with? A husband fibbed about some third base adult-consensual infidelity... and the wife was caught using exactly the same sort of somewhat improper email system as Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, John McCain, Mike Pence, George Bush and Jared Kushner. That's... it.

Compare that to more than a hundred charges against almost ONE HUNDRED Trumpian or GOP individuals with confessions and convictions piling up. Daily we see behaviors that demand we ask: "WODI?" Secret meetings with hostile dictators, ongoing acts-of-war against our elections and infrastructure. We're finding the top GOP tiers are filled with boy-buggerers, pedophiles, playmate-bribers, casino-mafiosi, kremlin-stooges and monopolists.

Oh, the pedophiles? BET ME the number among top Goppers is les than THREE TIMES the number among top dems? (It's actually 6x and counting.

Sir, whoever your coward ass is... you are a monster.

Larry Hart said...


also @Johh Kass, @Mitch McConnell, @Rudi Giuliani, @fakeDonaldTrump, and the rest of that ilk too numerous to mention. This is all I care to say relative to you:

"I do not hear the words of traitors!"

I'm not reading, listening, or discussing anything you say, so knock yourself out.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Accusing me of hypocrisy for shrugging at the yawnworthy Hunter Biden "revelations that no one, not you or anyone else, actually cites a criminal code that applies to any inctable degree.

We've seen this movie before. The part I came in at was when there's no there there, despite being harangued about what we're about to find out if only we pay attention.

Fool me twice...we won't be fooled again!

Take it to a damned grand jury, will you? You nut-jobs have had every level of government, an utterly politicized top Justice Department, and all three branches of government.

I think you're giving Sergei too much credit for being a living human being, let alone an actual American.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

He also said that the coincidences of quid pro quo stink to high heabve...

Was that a covfefe joke?

Larry Hart said...

The supreme court has apparently agreed to hear a case brought by the Trump administration to exclude undocumented immigrants from the Census count. What there is to adjudicate is beyond me, as the Constitution clearly mentions "Whole number of persons in each state", which included women and children even when they couldn't vote ("Indians not taxed" being the explicit exception which proves the rule).

All I can say is that if the supreme court manages to rule with a straight face that "whole number of persons" means something other than whole number of persons, then they forfeit not only their legitimacy, but any credible claim to being "textualists", "originalists", or "constitutionalists".

After the memorandum was published, municipalities and activists immediately sued the administration, arguing that excluding undocumented immigrants from the counts used to assign House seats is an unconstitutional power grab. A lower court blocked Trump's memorandum last month, and the administration took its case directly to the Supreme Court.

The 14th Amendment requires districts to apportion congressional seats based on "counting the whole number of persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed."

In Trump's memorandum, he argued that the "discretion delegated to the executive branch to determine who qualifies as an 'inhabitant' includes authority to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status."


Zepp Jamieson said...

One of the more amusing aspects of the attempted hack job on Hunter Biden is that the computer was supposedly dropped dropped off at a repair store on April 12, 2019. However, the manufacturer's data for that device shows that it wasn't even manufactured until April 18, 2019. So it was dropped off six days before it was created.
Trumpkins are idiots.

Tacitus said...

This does all have a Rathergate redux vibe to it. I think both campaigns should immediately call for the FBI to release all information from their study of the original laptop. If educated internetees can pick it apart with ease then the report would/should be short and damning. If one campaign or the other stonewalls on this request it would look suspicious.


Der Oger said...

@Alfred Differ:
"He is usually pretty direct about what he means to say. Refreshing."

Austrians, especially those from Vienna, have a well-deserved reputation for being able to insult and threaten people in a way that they smile and say thank you afterwards. Christoph Waltz has this special ability and uses it to great effect. In this, Schwarzenegger is clearly an exception :-)

"He's also a decent example of why we need immigrants. Some Americans are simply born on the wrong side the border. I suspect there are a billion more out there who would do well here if we had the courage to accept them and their other differences. Rather than make them all come here, though, I'd be willing to annex them. Culturally at least. 8)"

The sarcastic answer would be: "You have them already. Cages full of them."

But then again, that would be hypocritical, because we (the Europeans) don't really treat them better. Instead of cages, we use desolate and overcrowded tent camps on islands and the Mediterranean Sea itself to solve our problem. Oh, yes, and the Dublin Accords themselves.

Even Germany is some kind of schizoid in this matter: On the one hand we desperately need skilled workers for the industrial and medical sector, and we aggressively recruit personnel from other countries, within and outside of the EU. On the other hand we have 2 Million people we deny the right to work and train for the jobs needed, and immigrants face high bureaucratic hurdles to get the jobs they are already qualified for.

And then there is the brain-drain problem. We (Northern and Western Europe) have already drained the Eastern and Southern European supply of medical personnel dry ... and now we aggressively recruit from non-EU countries. Including those we deport people to. (And don't get me started on Afghanistan.) They are starting to be large holes in countries like Poland and Hungary, and the rise of the far right in these countries exacerbates the problem. Same with Africa: It is the middle class, not the poor who can afford to pay the traffickers. Those people who started to build up a better society suddenly have the means to migrate to those countries responsible for their misery in the first place.

I think this "attraction" thing has a dark side: it hides and masks the conditions that led to the loss of skilled/educated personnel, and the need for innovation. In fact, you don't invest in their education, the country of origin does, sort of a lazy way and perhaps a modern form of colonialism.

It is better to take the children from the cages and the tents, give them a perspective, reform our school systems, and then, perhaps in a generation or two, we may reap a richer reward.

Slim Moldie said...

Went down a sad/interesting rabbit hole today. Was talking to my mother and she was upset because an old neighbor/friend about 77 years old, had emailed her saying they could still be friends despite their political differences...along with a link to a Claremont Institute video. (I was somewhat familiar with the latter, but was curious so skimmed through some of the content for 10 minutes.)

So she (the friend) I think is won over by statements like "in a Democracy you have the right to not have things change." In one of the videos the speaker laid it out I'm paraphrasing: "we can't fight this (multiculturalism/change) with facts and reasoning..."

And then the imagery. On another video. Cartoon with paper style cutouts of a white nuclear family walking through a city-scape with bright green/pink/blue mutated multicultural-individualists cutouts waving flags in the street which started virally spawning anarchists.

Fear. The right not to have things change.

What's frustrating to me is there is no opportunity for rebuttal. The only way I could reach someone like this lady, is if I could pause and edit some of the videos she's watching, and have someone like Dr. Brin (who can actually wield judo skills in real time) stop the video after every statement and fact check and offer counter points. That's the only frame I could see to even start a conversation. She's not going to listen. She won't take wagers. She's not going to watch anything you give her (from the "other side.") It make me very sad. Not sure if this analogy entirely works...but it's like watching someone on heroin. And the only way you're going to get them off is with some methadone.

David Brin said...

Alas. SM... at this point the only thing we can do is get out the vote... and undermine MAGA morale by getting them to stay home drinking and depressed.

OH, some of the comments I approve then go to OLDER posts. Be aware, all, that I seldom go back, after posting "onward" so you are best off commenting in the latest thread with a sentence or two of context.

scidata said...

Elon Musk recently talked about what might happen to a Martian colony if the ships suddenly stopped arriving from Earth (ominous). Achieving self sufficiency and self repair capacity should be early goals. Early ocean-going exploration ships carried a ship's carpenter. I worry about NASA's fixation with specialists. Every task is carefully planned and timed to the second. However, IMHO Apollo 13 was their greatest success. The Challenger controller who continued to read out downrange numbers while horrified spectators stared skyward and the stupendous undetected flaw in the Hubble mirror are examples of over-engineering. I would suggest that space exploration crews carry at least one jack-of-all-trades techno-geek. Val Kilmer's character in "Red Planet" comes to mind. Diversity is humanity's secret sauce.

Larry Hart said...

Slim Moldie:

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

I'd be interested to see where the originailist, textualist, Constitutionalist judges find that right enumerated in the Constitution.

Richard09 said...

@Larry Hart: This goes a long way up-thread to a comment about a Woody Allen line.

I remember a Jerry Springer interview where he said (paraphrasing) "all the male-to-female trans people I've met wanted to be female so that they could have a lesbian relationship". And he wasn't joking.

David Brin said...

Richard09 not in my experience. I have known M-to-F trans who wanted - and succeeded - to have orho hetero relations - as a female - with a male partner.

David Brin said...



Danny said...

'Such a pledge would cost a candidate and president
little to make or to fulfill.'

..little to fulfill? Perhaps 'it’s so reasonable
that only a churl could possibly refuse', but this being about 'control over my appointment calendar', I wonder where it starts costing more than 'little' to fulfill, such that only a churl could possibly refuse? You're talking about one afternoon per month. I guess that two afternoons per week would be a step too far. But it's a rhetorical question, I'm wondering how much nonsense is too much, for you?

'Millions of Americans will then know that I do not live in a tower of ideological isolation.'

So okay, you think you have the solution to this problem, and also, you think this is the problem to be solving.

Problem: The president, should be open-minded and receptive to conversations with jokers who are not necessarily on his/her team. Call this 'accessibility', or 'open flow of communication', and heck, maybe even 'closer working relationships'.

Solution: accelerate the meeting madness.

Is this not the stuff of Dilbert cartoons?

What, you can't put up with the strain that meetings place on their time and sanity? Clearly, the problem is that you are a churl. This is like the opposite of wanting to be a good soldier, I guess.

Sacrifice your own time and well-being for meetings, and rest assured that in my eyes, this has cost you little.

The collective toll on productivity, focus, and engagement, can be safely ignored. After all, it's not like time is zero-sum, is it? If that were the case, then every minute spent in a wasteful meeting would eat into time for actual work. Bad meetings, they are intended to improve communication and collaboration, as intended, and ergo, that is what they do. Did that staff meeting advance teamwork or set it back? Well, the president stabbed her leg with a pencil, to stop from screaming. Therefore, obviously, this country can benefit when it focuses its energy on tolerating meetings.

Danny said...

Maybe I can learn not to add to one of these threads after it's 'too late', but this is the latest thread, and also it's 'too late' for me not to post to it, because this is an addendum to my previous post. ;)

'One of the sickest/stupidest cult chants of the left is to howl that whatever gender choice you made was hard-wired.'

I think that you are focusing on the debate about why people are transgender, and it occurs to me, that saying 'let’s fight prejudice together' would be a different focus.

Neverthless, you seem fascinated by the notion of a divinely bestowed identity, or, that such a notion is arguable a misstep, if it is fluidity that we supposedly like these days. Well, I imagine that the biological basis of identity and selfhood is as complicated and rich, but we are not all scientists, and there is an allure to believing your gender identity to be an immutable quality you’re born with. Why? Because the demand that you constantly justify yourself becomes exhausing, in the face of hostility that you might consider while you are opining about what is 'sick'.