Thursday, November 03, 2016

The Worst American Keeps At It. (It's not Donald Trump!)

In a bit, I'll get to my nominee for the Worst American. But first, a bit more about (did you guess?) the election before us. Things might have been much tighter - indeed, Donald Trump might have won, given the 'third-term curse' - but for one factor that tipped him over the edge, preventing him from reaching out to the middle of America.

It's those rallies, those insanely-addictive festivals of emotion and hate, where a feral svengali with weak self-control has spent the last 9 months or so tossing red-meat memes to fervid followers, who reward him with the jizz-high of cheering adulation for the next outrageous thing.  

As I've said, this is the core element of the election!  It is how Trump won the primaries against all his GOP opponents. It is also why he never did any predicted "veer to the center," giving moderates who disliked Hillary Clinton some excuse to come home.

He couldn't do it. Instead, he tried using at the debates the same red-meat memes that rouse roars at those rallies, but on that national stage he got no reward! No wonder he looked so glum, after half an hour into each debate!  No addict's high.

Oh, I had such hopes for the center-veer!  Sure, it could have made the race more close and tense. But a clever and strategic Donald Trump might have torched several - perhaps many - standard Foxite catechisms, like climate denialism and supply side insanity

He hinted early on that such veers might be in the works!  But he just couldn't do it.  The rally-addiction is too strong, and we are about to see a truly magma level withdrawal.

As a result?

== The coalition is shattering ==

The coalition is shattering, and one reason is climate change denialism; “only 31% of conservative millennials trust the Republican party more than Democrats to do the right thing when it comes to climate change.”  In the first debate, Donald Trump denied that he had ever called Climate Change a “hoax spread by China,” but this article has the goods on him.

As for Trump’s revised tax plan, it doubles down on the never-once-right Supply Side incantation, making the tax code even less progressive, giving most benefits to the rich . (Rejoice republicans: he’s now ‘mainstream’ GOP!) The right-leaning Tax Foundation released an analysis. Trump's campaign would shrink federal revenues by as much as $5.9 trillion over 10 years.  

To explain yet again: Supply Side posits that the rich would invest their sudden gusher of tax breaks in productive factories, whereupon the resulting economic activity - taxed at lower rates - would erase deficits! Only that never happened. Ever. Even once in 30 years of promises. Ever. At all.  The fundamental core of modern republicanism.  And it never came true once.

Even the Tax Foundation does not swallow it anymore, saying Trump’s plan will send debt skyrocketing. And yes, DT earlier hinted he would abandon Supply Side!. But he couldn't, for the reason cited above. Even though it might have helped him win.

Side note: This screams for reform.  Not only do we taxpayers foot the bill for surrounding the candidates with Secret Service protection. But since this protection is mandatory, it’s common practice for the Service to reimburse campaigns for travel expenses. That’s weird. But it gets weirder. It looks like the $1.6 million the Service recently paid the Trump campaign went right back to Trump’s business interests. So, a billionaire is personally sucking cash from the guys who protect him. Oh, but keep protecting him, guys. We do not need a martyr. Our current phase of the Civil War would go red hot. 

In fact, I feel some compassion and pity for the fellow. An addict who appears (as verified by the co-author of his autobiography) to have very little impulse control, concentration or even sapience.  And then there is the stunningly plausible (there are no known counter examples) theory broached by Samantha Bee (hilariously) that Trump doesn't use a teleprompter because he is illiterate.  Because Trump can't read.

No, while dangerous, DT is far, far from the worst man in America! Indeed, he is no worse than those sexual predator perverts, Roger Ailes and Dennis Hastert, who were the top Republicans in America for many years.  Nor philandering divorce masters Giuliani or Gingrich. Their sicknesses strangely mean that they cannot qualify for my pick as Worst Man in America.

No, I save that slot for someone who calmly knows exactly what he is doing. Who knows how he could have helped uplift us back toward maturity, but who chose meticulously to do his nation relentlessly repeated harm.

== Failure of the Will ==

All right, I saved my biggest rant till the end.  By now most of you know that I cannot actually hate Donald Trump or his followers. DT is himself barely sapient.  He operates - as he himself has avowed - on gut and reflex. Likewise his confederate followers.

No, the worst man in America – the stunning traitor George F. Will – is at it again, shrugging off any possibility that the Trump phenomenon might be a symptom of the sickness that he himself (George Will) deliberately helped to inject into American conservatism for decades.  No, he rails that Trump is the entirety of the disease, separate from a movement that was already sick and dying. 

Will cherrypicks a couple of remarks about Social Security, and thereupon tries the insane catechism that Trump is a “liberal” who has reversed all conservative values, ignoring how DT’s fervid followers and chanted slogans map exactly onto the Fox Nation that Rupert Murdoch and a corrupt, rentier oligarchy deliberately designed, along with rationalizer Svengali-shills like Mr. Will.

They also map pretty well upon the Confederacy, a latent fever in our American psyche that wracks the republic with regularity - and has, ever since 1778 - whenever dogmatists, oligarchs and cynical manipulators re-light the fuse of our recurring Civil War.

Never mind that Mr. Will and I share a wish for Trump to be defeated. We even agree that the heat of that immolation is the only hope for a renewed American conservatism.

Pessimism need not breed fatalism or passivity. It can define an agenda of regeneration, but only by being clear-eyed about the extent of degeneration, which a charlatan’s successful selling of his fabulousness exemplifies. Conservatism’s recovery from his piratical capture of the conservative party will require facing unflattering facts about a country that currently is indifferent to its founding.”

But no. Oh no you don’t, you horrid, horrid little traitor. The “country” is not to blame here. It is your version of conservatism, one that wages war on science, teaching, medicine, journalism, economics, civil servants, entrepreneurs and every knowledge profession in American life. 

One whose spurning of all pretense of civility long predates the Trump calamity. One that is so ashamed of every single GOP leader between Reagan and Ryan that it mentioned none of them at the recent RNC. Well, they mentioned one. The rest were blatant failures, screechers… with a large dollop of sexual predators mixed in… and you dare hurl stones, sir?

A GOP whose average education levels have plummeted – after driving away all the smartypants who actually know stuff – until I have to ask who do you think is reading these flouncing-polysyllabic screeds of yours anymore, George?

A GOP whose actual accomplishments and outcomes for America have been almost universally negative, in every category from economics to military readiness and so on, diametrically opposite to the Democratic administrations' outcome records. A Republican Party that, for 20 of the last 22 years, turned the world's greatest deliberative body into the nastiest, most-disciplined-partisan and most slothful in the history of the republic.

You did this, sir. 

Sure, American conservatism will come back, emerging different from the coming pyre.  (May it burn out the monsters whom the GOP call representatives and senators, in the laziest snakepit Congress we have seen in at least 150 years.)  Perhaps the new version of conservatism will even be a movement that negotiates like adults, that benefits small businesses instead of ruining them, and that remembers the American revolution was against oligarchy, not a putsch aimed at installing feudalism. 

A revived conservatism of intellect and maturity that’s more like post-68 Barry Goldwater and Dwight Eisenhower or even Ronald Reagan than Rupert Murdoch, Breitbart and alt-right.

Ideally one that snorts derisive dismissal at the mewlings of the worst man in America.


Deuxglass said...

Dr. Brin,

I have been following John Mauldin for around 15 years now and I read his writings closely. I see how his positions have evolved over the years and in some cases we have seen eye to eye while in others we have been opposed but sometimes economic conditions change so much as to become unrecognizable and what was evident and logic before no longer can provide roadmap. In essence one becomes lost and the future darkens. Earlier this week he wrote something that I think is very important. He wrote:

I am horrified by the fact that I am even entertaining the possibility that William Gibson might be right. Gibson was the first true cyberpunk sci-fi writer (back in the ’90s with the writing of Neuromancer). He foresaw a dystopian world where the divide between those with assets and privilege and those without was shocking. Think Blade Runner. Something must be done to avoid such a truly obscene outcome, and all of the solutions I am coming to require me to rethink my core beliefs about economic and social reality. The basic issue is that those of us who are in the Protected class are going to have to figure out how to more equally distribute the benefits of our position in the future. And do not ask me how, because right now I do not know. And therein lies my angst."

What struck me was the phrase "to rethink my core beliefs about economic and social reality" because I feel the same way. It is the sudden realization that things are out of control. A Bladerunner world can happen. It is no longer science-fiction but a definite possibility that is becoming more and more probable. Whomever wins the election will not and cannot change the direction and I think many people would agree. There are strong impersonal forces at work pushing us in that direction and what we have is a laissez-faire attitude with the beatific belief that it will work out well in the end. That reminds me of the slave that keeps on living because he hopes things will get better but they never do. There is much of the dystopian world in Existence.

As for our political situation all I have to say is reread Thucydides 3.82

JD Paradise said...

It has been evident to me ever since I understood anything of the way money moves that putting money at the top and expecting benefit to the people at the bottom simply does not work. Decades of real-world observation have proven that to be true.

It mystifies me how anyone ever thought supply-side economics was a workable idea; the rich know better, and the poor and middle-class should. The middle class didn't expand to include significant numbers of Americans until unions forced capital out of the hands of the upper class and into the hands of the middle class. As capital has increasingly migrated upward, a middle class existence has become increasingly tenuous, requiring (in two parent families) both parents to work in order to hope to achieve some measure of financial success, and (because of debt, among other reasons) leaving most families one accident, sickness, or unanticipated job loss away from the street and the brutal cycle of failure that usually results. (This need has not-coincidentally reduced birth rates among two-working-parent families, which, among other causes, is already wrecking Social Security, and will reduce our ability to compete, thrive and possibly even survive in the 2050s and beyond.)

On the other hand, putting significant amounts of capital in the hands of lower- and lower-middle-class individuals *always* results in that money being spent. Initially it's spent to pay off debt; then it's spent to shore up savings; then it makes its way into the marketplace.

This shouldn't be news to anyone with eyes to see.

It doesn't mean that socialism is the answer; it's probably not. But we don't need socialism to create the strong safety net that America has as a baseline need. It probably also means that, if the environment won't allow the government to impose wealth-redistributing tax policy, we're going to need renewed focus on unionization, even in white-collar workplaces, if we're to avoid the Blade Runner future.

Alfred Differ said...

Trump's piratical attack is the first to succeed, but the GOP got attacked by Ron Paul last time and they've quietly tried to bury that. Trump isn't the disease. He's just the pirate that managed to seize the ship this time.

Look up the 2012 election and study how Ron Paul worked the delegate game during the primary season. Primary elections would 'assign' delegates to certain candidates, but in some states the delegate had some wiggle room. A savvy player could insert his own people in the process and get convention votes that weren't reflective of the primary results. Look up this trick for 2016 and you'll see some GOP members at state levels trying to do this to Trump instead.

The GOP ship is foundering when a trick like this can almost undo primary results. That it is a close thing at all shows Trump can't be the disease.

David Brin said...

There is widespread concern among U.S. spy agencies that a months-long campaign by Russia to rattle the mechanisms of American democracy will probably continue after polls close. Alas, the Russian aspect (favoring Trump) distracts from what I think is likely to be far worse cheating… in red states that have electronic voting machines that have no paper audit trail. Almost entirely this is red states, allowing top officials (always GOP factotums) to order up any result they want, knowing it cannot be checked. This will certainly preserve their lock on those states’ power. They will also be able to run up the popular vote totals for their nominee in those states.

LarryHart said...

JD Paradise:

It has been evident to me ever since I understood anything of the way money moves that putting money at the top and expecting benefit to the people at the bottom simply does not work. Decades of real-world observation have proven that to be true

The "trickle-down" metaphor itself is flawed. It presumes that money, like water, naturally flows from top to bottom--that if one injects money into the top of the system, it will flow down like a waterfall. A more appropriate metaphor is that money is like the heat in your oven, flowing from bottom to top. The way to cook a turkey is to introduce heat underneath the meat, which performs the action of cooking the bird while rising. If you introduce the heat at the top, it doesn't work. Neither do you get electricity by introducing water at the bottom of a hydroelectric dam.

A charitable view of trickle-down theory is that it mistakes the destination for the journey. One could say that the heat will rise (or the water will fall) anyway, so therefore, the purpose of the oven (or dam) is to get to that final, stable state. So therefore, introducing the heat at the top (or water at the bottom) is an exercise in efficiency. That sounds good, until one remembers that the functioning of an oven (or a dam) depends on the energy flow. Jumping directly to the destination defeats the entire purpose of the mechanism.

It is often said as a truism that if wealth is redistributed, the rich will end up with the money again after awhile, because of their natural acumen. Often, the speaker means that there's no point in redistribution, because inequality will re-assert itself. The point being missed there is that the re-asserting itself is where work is done in the system. Here, stability is another word for heat-death. If all of the heat, or all of the water, or all of the money, is already where it is going to end up, then nothing happens because there is no flow. Once one player wins in "Monopoly", the game is over. That may be the object of a game, but it doesn't work as the object of a social system.

Jumper said...

I guess pure communism is metaphor for microwave ovens...

Dwight Williams said...

Should we expect Canadian federal elections to be similarly targeted in 2019? Possible motives for such interference discussed in this article:

Paul SB said...


While your analogy for trickle-down economics seems pretty sound and makes its point well, I may have a better analogy. I suspect a lot of people would not be happy with the idea that the ultimate destination of money is at the top, sequestered in the hands of a tiny few. That seems to be exactly what is going on, and most see this as a failure mode, not a feature.

Try visualizing money as an electrical circuit. As long as the circuit is open, electrons flow and the device works. Electrons don't get deposited into off-shore electron bank accounts. A battery could be an analogy for those banks and/or mattresses, but as long as the batteries are not in use, nothing is happening, the device is not running. If the ├╝ber wealthy are storing all the electrons in batteries, then the economy comes to a crashing halt. Of course, a limitation of this analogy is that when you store all the electricity, the diodes don't starve to death, jump the border fence, or turn into criminals parasitizing the machine.

donzelion said...

Hmmmm...intriguing sort of a claim.

George HW Bush is the 'worst president' because he did less good than he could have done.
George F. Will is the 'worst American' because he also failed to do as much good as he could have done.
Yoda is the 'most evil character in the history of storytelling' because he also failed to do as much good as he should have done, and very bad things happened as a result.

This is a strange concept of evil. I think I preferred 'parasites' as a focus.

jonathan said...

"It is often said as a truism that if wealth is redistributed, the rich will end up with the money again after awhile, because of their natural acumen.It is often said as a truism that if wealth is redistributed, the rich will end up with the money again after awhile, because of their natural acumen." Actually, if wealth is evenly redistributed, a (different) set of rich will end up with the money again after awhile, because of the natural flows of randomness, and (essentially) the gravitational pull of money itself. It's been modeled.

Jumper said...

LarryHart said...

PaulSB and jonathan,

I don't think any of us are arguing against each other so much as refining the same argument.

@jonathan, the point is that money flows "naturally" from low concentration to high concentration, not the other way around. It's more like gravity than like molecular dispersion. Therefore, "trickle-down" is exactly the wrong image. Money flows from poor to rich, not from rich to poor.

@Paul, electricity works as a different model. In that model, I think "trickle-down" would refer to removing all of the resistors and capacitors in between the poles of the battery. You'd maximize current flow that way, but at the cost of not actually doing anything with the power (except frying the wires).

donzelion said...

Picking up from yesterday

Deuxglass: "I have respect for and fear of sharp New York lawyers."
Since I've been one of those NY lawyers (licensed and educated the same way they are, minted at the same prestige university, and handling 'projects' for the biggest in NY, London, Switzerland while based in Riyadh/Dubai), I know exactly what you're talking about.

There were times that I likened my job to that of Marlowe/Willard in 'Heart of Darkness'/'Apocalypse Now,' called upon to bring down Kurtz by any (legal) means, dispatched to corners of the world 'nobody' wants to go. I hated it, but also sort of loved sticking it to arrogant folks who believed themselves untouchable. There is strange pleasure in a cat'n'mouse game, esp. when the other side mistakes who is the cat and who the mouse.

Raito: "I've seen poor managers sacked. But never because they drove away good employees."
Not 'because they drove away good employees' but because they 'exposed the company to risks/costs.' One of the main reasons managers drive away 'good' people is to surround themselves with 'bad' people - the better to work their mischief from the inside.

Companies are reluctant to intervene, in part because those lawyers Deuxglass referred start at $500/hr - and will often spend an incredible number of hours making a headache go away.

"But I've found that my experiences aren't off the norm."
I know, and I'm not disputing your experiences. How could I?

What I am disputing is the notion that focusing on the managers will fix the problem: it won't, any more than replacing the "bad feudal lords" with "good feudal lords" improves the plight of the peasants. The solution is to revisit feudalism itself. This is harder than one thinks: unless one is very systemic, the 'new system' will wind up reflecting all the ugliness in the 'old' (or worse).

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "trickle-down" is exactly the wrong image. Money flows from poor to rich, not from rich to poor."

'Trickle-down' applied to anything but urine is inaccurate, but the real problem is that money flows mainly from 'rich to rich' - with poor people standing outside the bulk of the equation yet contributing to its expansion, albeit mostly indirectly. Not sure what the best metaphor might be.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "the Russian aspect...distracts from what I think is likely to be far worse cheating… in red states that have electronic voting machines that have no paper audit trail."

The machines aren't as easy to crack as one might think: yes, any system can be attacked and hacked, but hackers depend on the fact that nobody is watching as they make their hack for the bulk of their effectiveness. The more likely target is precisely what the DoJ is investigating, and relies on much easier, softer targets:

(1) DoJ is investigating allegations that voter rolls are being systematically purged to eliminate certain voters in N. Carolina. All that would be needed would be a bulk mailing to a large enough set of people with return requested to discover invalid addresses - followed by a follow up challenge letter, and then purge from the database. You could remove tens of thousands of people with such a measure without their even knowing they'd been purged.

(2) Ballot harvesting for mail-in ballots, and with people who never intended to get a mail-in being signed up as "mail-in only".

Both of those kinds of voters can challenge the registry and submit a provisional ballot, but those don't get counted unless they'll make a statistical difference. If it takes too long to complete the count or recount, then one can swing the results.

The problem with paper trails, as with mechanical levers, is that the ability to create a fraudulent record increases with every set of records, and the probability that there will be mismatches between alleged counts and recorded counts increases dramatically.

Hence, close scrutiny is called for at the lowest levels, down to the nuts'n'bolts - that space where nobody cares is the most likely to be targeted.

Jumper said...

Should I say "Wake up, sheeple?"

LarryHart said...


"Money flows from poor to rich, not from rich to poor." flows mainly from 'rich to rich' - with poor people standing outside the bulk of the equation yet contributing to its expansion, albeit mostly indirectly. Not sure what the best metaphor might be

Maybe Paul's electricity model fits what you're saying. Money flows from one pole on the battery (or generator) inevitably back to the other pole in a circuit. "Workers" then are the resistors and other such components making up the circuit. Each component drops some of the voltage and does work with then energy, but any current which passes into a component ultimately passes back out as well.

Getting away from physics models, though, Supply Side says that if you give wealthy people/organizations money without their having to work for it, they will put that money to work. The defenders of Supply Side would almost inevitably insist that the opposite is true of welfare recipients--that if you give them money without their having to work for it, they will be lazy and dependent.

Tim H. said...

I offer an analogy, think of the financial resources of the 99% as plankton and the 1% as basking sharks, more disposable income in the 99% means more nutrition with less effort for the 1%. This suggests something about some members of the 1%...

Deuxglass said...

Hi Duncan,

Full employment would give bargaining power to lower and middle classes which is something they haven't had for the last 30 years. For those in management it is a different market with fewer places nevertheless they would benefit from a booming economy. Picking up and moving is always difficult and takes a lot of money as you well know. If you have a job waiting for you then that's no big problem but if you don't you could end up homeless. I think it is riskier now than before so you put up with bad managers.

Deuxglass said...

A.F. Rey,

You mean you can't read classical Greek??? What do they teach in school these days??

Jumper said...

Has spacesuit. Will travel.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Uh huh. Except one could easily point out that The South was in favor of free trade (cotton to the British) and that it was actually Northern Oligarchs who cynically manipulated the system such that that cotton instead flowed to their factories (as they worked the town's white trash to death). But why let historical facts spoil this fanstasy you've invented whole cloth?

A.F. Rey said...

What can I say, Deuxglass? I went to a public school, Pomona High, where they only taught Latin. :o

occam's comic said...

Dangerous climate change in northern hemisphere and global sea level rise of about 20 meters is now unavoidable.

The geologic features of the northern hemisphere make climate change in the northern hemisphere far more likely than in the southern hemisphere. In the northern hemisphere the land mass makes up about 40% of the surface area, in the southern hemisphere the land mass only makes up about 20% of the surface area. This is important because land masses can heat up and cool down quickly but the oceans can only change slowly. The second major difference is that in the northern hemisphere the ice cap at the north pole sits above the arctic sea, in the southern hemisphere the south pole sits on top of the land mass of Antarctica. The land mass of Antarctica insulates the very thick ice cap from the warmer liquid water. In the northern hemisphere the ice cap floats on the sea and is very thin, and in contact with a slowly warming sea.

What i mean by dangerous climate change is a breakdown of the three atmospheric cells per hemisphere system we have now. The climate system in each hemisphere is powered by the temperature difference between the equator and the pole.surface In the southern hemisphere that temperature difference averages about 70 degrees C. In the northern hemisphere the average temperature difference is bout 40 degrees C and falling fast.

Unfortunately the north pole turns out to be the most sensitive place on the earth to greenhouse as warming. There is a strong positive feedback loop from a change in albedo (surface darkness) as the bright ice melts and the dark seas or dark ground gets exposed. This is a strong and growing effect right now. There is also a truly immense amount of carbon locked up in the permafrost and in methane hydrates in the arctic sea. This feedback loop is happening but it currently not having a big impact on temperatures. I fear that this source of carbon dioxide and methane will more than wipe out any reductions is green house gases from human sources (if we actually get around to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions.)

There is already good evidence that boundary between the polar cell and the mid latitude cell in the northern hemisphere is breaking down. i firmly believe that we are entering a period of massive climate disruption in the northern hemisphere. Climate change is happening to us not just our kids and grandkids.

Treebeard said...

Like you said, almost no one actually cares about George Will's opinions at this point, so don't give the guy a status he doesn't deserve. It's easy for intellectuals to overestimate the importance of bow-tied Ivy League dweebs, but politics is primitive, visceral primate stuff, upon which the theories and abstractions of Will's kind barely make a dent.

LarryHart said...

A shot of the Chicago River dyed Cubs blue:

And a video of the Chicago cast of "Hamilton" singing about the Cubs:

Paul SB said...


If I understand the circulation patterns right, losing the boundary between the Northern Polar Cell and the Northern Ferrel Cell would have a huge effect on precipitation patterns. The huge moisture that normally gets dumped on the Northwest coast would effectively disappear, while the Northeast would get a whole lot more cold precipitation, and quite a bit further south (depending on how far the Hadley Cell shifts northward). West coasts of northern hemisphere continents would dry out and east coasts would get colder and wetter. This would be a disaster of one kind for Europe and a different kind for East Asia.

locumranch said...

David sounds like those Cold War fossils pining for the bygone days of the USSR's 'Evil Empire'. He forgets that George Will's relevance disappeared with a defunct GOP, rendered obsolete by the sad fact that the so-called conservative party wasn't able to conserve much of anything worth conserving, including a reciprocal social contract, family values or even unholy matrimony.

What-Comes-After Trump is one of two things:

(1) Ouden, the 'End of History,' a term that literally connotes 'nothingness' & its continuation; or
(2) That which our elites fear most, a resurgent democracy leading to the 'Beginning of History'.

In the US & abroad, our increasingly desperate elites have attempted to outlaw democratic resurgence:

(1) The Brexit plebiscite has been over-ruled by the fiat of the UK's High Court;
(2) France insists on ongoing EU membership despite poll results that favour Frexit by a 70% majority;
(3) Austria has over-turned its election of an 'undesired' Far Right Nationalist President not once but THREE times; and
(4) An dictatorial media continues to inform US voters that democracy means 'doing & voting as you're told to do'.

Progress, it seems, means that the Democratic 'We' no longer have any say in popular matters, and we are compelled to advance, moving forward, ever forward, to march & die, never questioning the who, how, what, where, when & why.

This Beau Geste is No Jest: It's so funny I forgot to laugh.


David Brin said...

By "resurgent democracy" locum means before women or minorities or Jews could vote.

Treebeard's assertion is bizarre. He seems to brag that the IQ and education levels of the Republican Party have plummeted. But clearly he has not read Vonnegut's MOTHER NIGHT, about a shill-propagandist who - while spying for the allies - spouted Nazi propaganda on radio, and thus - he's later told - kept hundreds of top level intellectuals from deserting Hitler or working against the madness.

GF Will does this. I know several gopper's of high IQ & education who cling to every rationalization Will spews, like they are life preservers.

LarryHart said...


Will's relevance disappeared with a defunct GOP, rendered obsolete by the sad fact that the so-called conservative party wasn't able to conserve much of anything worth conserving,

The Republican Party is so obsolete that it owns congress and the Supreme Court until God saved us from Scalia, and could possibly eke out the presidency again (and with it, the Supreme Court) with help from the FBI. Also, it owns a majority of governorships and state houses.

If that is what "obsolete" means, I should be so obsolete.

This Beau Geste is No Jest: It's so funny I forgot to laugh.

Like most of your posts, you mean?

Alfred Differ said...

It's good to see so many attempted analogies for 'money', so I'm going to add some data to trim bad ones and suggest others.

Unlike heat (energy flow), money isn't conserved. It can vanish in a heartbeat and not because someone burned the currency. It can also appear out of nowhere. 19th century economists tried to work around this by tying it to 'stuff with intrinsic value', but that effort has largely failed.

If one does use a heat model, don't ignore one or more of the categories just because one has a political point to make. Conduction, Convection, and Radiation are the three flow categories.

If one uses a water model, don't neglect the fact that water's density can change. Fresh water sits on top of salt water and then one has to play with diffusion models to figure out what happens next.

Personally, I find both water and heat models to be deeply flawed due to the fact that money isn't a conserved quantity in markets. If it were, we would be facing an inherently zero-sum game. We aren't. I create money each time I accept a co-worker paying for my lunch and then I destroy it when I pay next time. Money is a form of debt that we trade. Why people collect the stuff should be obvious. Why we shouldn't have our government doing too much using the stuff should be equally obvious.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch: Since David was there for a very dangerous phase of the Cold War, I sincerely doubt he pines for those bygone days. Any of us who were there would have to slip into idiocy to want that back. When the kids younger than me fail to get that, I just smile and point out that forensic researchers studying my bones at a hypothetical murder scene can figure out exactly what my birth year was by the amount of radioactive isotopes embedded in my teeth. Easy peasy.

Regarding your other nonsense, it is useful to remember that the UK, US, and France aren't really democracies. They are republics. Majorities choose representatives who are supposed to listen AND protect us from our ignorance. If you feel your representatives are elitists, by all means replace them. You don't get to dictate who the rest of us choose, though.

Seriously. Please choose who you want to represent you. If you want to represent yourself, though, I suggest you run for office. You'll see how it works then. Seriously.

Alfred Differ said...

@occam's comic: Dangerous climate change in northern hemisphere and global sea level rise of about 20 meters is now unavoidable.

No. I get that you fear this, but your words that follow this don't support your fear.

Those 3 cells are a Coriolis effect that results from what would be the winds of one cell on a non-rotating planet being diverted sideways on a rotating planet. Look at Jupiter for an example where the forces are larger and the bands more numerous.

What SHOULD happen is there will be less energy in the northern patterns compared to the southern patterns as the climate warms and the north pole temperatures close the gap with the equator. The equator will warm too, though, and evaporate much more water making for much more 'interesting' weather systems. Once you count all the side effects, we wind up with a picture that is more complex than your simple portrayal.

You have a realistic fear about the carbon trapped in the tundra, though. I'm not all that scared, though. I suspect we will do a Manhattan or Apollo style project to remove carbon from the atmosphere if the pain rises to a high enough level. The question isn't whether we will or won't. It is how much damage will be done to the oceans before we do

Paul SB said...

Dr. Brin,

In criticizing our wayward int, you missed an important parallel between him and his choice of presidential candidate. In the main post you dismissed Donald Grope as the worst American because, as you said, he is hardly even sapient. As a person who claims to "think with his (quite large) gut" he is claiming to not use the very anatomy that makes humans different from the rest of the Animal Kingdom - those big and busy frontal lobes. Certainly not all humans use these faculties as well as others. Most do little more than use them to make excuses for their dumb, emotion-driven choices, which is exactly what both Trump and Will are doing.

Compare these sage words from Treebeard: "...politics is primitive, visceral primate stuff..." As a member of the Vegetable Kingdom you wouldn't think he would get such excitement from this idea, but you can see some of the appeal. People who fall for Trump's brand of bull are likely to be the kind who "trust their instincts" and let emotions rule their lives. These are people who themselves barely qualify. To someone who has little self control, little of the qualities that make humans human, politics is primitive, visceral stuff. These are exactly the people who are easily swayed by charisma wielded by charlatans. Dupes every one of them, and this is not unique to this country.

You don't have to be a total egghead to get that political choices need to weighed carefully rather than impulsively, nor does it take a whole lot to see that a person who has centered his entire life around salesmanship is not a person worthy of trust until they can prove that their dealings have been consistently honest. Salesmen have a built-in motivation to be dishonest.

Paul SB said...


If there is less energy in the northern hemisphere, it would be possible for the Polar and Ferrel Cells to merge. I'm not an expert here, but look at the Jupiter example you gave. Higher energy results in more bands, lower energy in less. The Ferrel Cells are the weakest of the 6, and they are also responsible for the Westerlies that bring oceanic moisture to the west coasts of northern continents. I can't say I'm sure that losing the Ferrel Cell is likely, but the consequences would be pretty serious. Human habitations are built around the climate patterns of past centuries. If they change too much, too quickly, huge cities may end up being abandoned and tens or hundreds of millions of people displaced.

Global warming is not something that is likely to destroy the human race, but it will have some very serious and expensive consequences.

Alfred Differ said...

As I understand it, the band structure is mostly a matter of rotation speed and not the energy in the system coming from the sun or trapped by the green house. Driving the whole system IS the heat imbalance, but the cells are still going to split due to planetary rotation.

What does make sense to me, though, is a highly chaotic boundary between the polar and mid-latitude cells. We already see this with seasonal variations. The Ferrel cell is a discontinuous eddy between the other two, but the Hadley cell (equatorial) is where the real action is.

I'm not saying change won't happen. I'm arguing against unsupported fear. The Earth's rotation rate isn't going to change anytime soon, so the Coriolis force that creates the Ferrel eddies will remain. Show me the science (instead of the fear) that this part of the model will change and I'll consider it. That is the argument to be made against fear no matter who posts it. Stay Calm. Show us the Science. 8)

Serious and expensive? Maybe. I might even say Probably. However, the world is becoming wealthier at quite a clip. Expensive relative to world GDP? Maybe not.

locumranch said...

By "resurgent democracy", I meant in the Pre-Indoctrination Era when people were allowed to vote their own consciences, choice, prejudices, voice & preferences, no matter how 'unenlightened' those opinions may have appeared to the self-appointed guardians of all that is said to be wise, just, holy & scientific.

And, by "a defunct GOP", I was referring only to the core US Republican establishment, not to the conservative movement entire. Conservatives (aka 'those who resist change') have been & will always be with us in one form or another, for time immemorial, much like those who wax nostalgic for the the bad old cold war days when allegiance for & against democracy was a matter of visible military uniform.

The modern progressive has become its opposite: It has switched sides; it has become illiberal; and, it spends the bulk of its energies eliminating individual choice, conscience, prejudice, voice & preference in favour of its own monstrous Identity Politic and AGW-based fear tactics . And, ironically, it is only the remnants of the failed conservative movement that still supports the individual right to liberty, bad decisions, free speech & regression.

Finally, it is important to realise that the progressive solution to wealth inequality is absurd. As Alfred notes above, "money isn't conserved". This means that simple wealth redistribution, in the form of further quantitative easing, taking from the rich, giving to the poor & radically increasing the minimum wage, will cause the same type of supply-dependent hyperinflation that decimated Venezuela.

If not for financial hoarding by the top 10%, this type of supply-side monetary catastrophe would have already happened following the Obama decision to increase the US monetary supply by 350% using quantitative easing. For all its good intents, such attempts at wealth redistribution would be analogous to dumping, and the sudden increase in circulating US currency would destroy USD value precipitously.

AGW & the Trump Nation: "They're coming to get you, Barbara", so be very very afraid, DO what your masters tell you to do, or the climate change zombies will eat your ignorant brains.

@Alfred: Reciprocity dictates that you don't get to dictate who the rest of us choose when we don't get to dictate our choices to you.

LarryHart said...


I meant in the Pre-Indoctrination Era when people were allowed to vote their own consciences, choice, prejudices, voice & preferences, no matter how 'unenlightened' those opinions may have appeared to the self-appointed guardians of all that is said to be wise, just, holy & scientific.

What is stopping you from doing just that on Tuesday? Are you truly contending that other people's disapproval, expressed in typy-words on a screen, amounts to voter suppression? Or that social pressure to vote a certain way is a recent phenomenon, rather than something that has existed since at least the Jefferson/Burr election of 1800?

Seriously, and without sarcasm, what exactly are you complaining about here?

And, ironically, it is only the remnants of the failed conservative movement that still supports the individual right to liberty, bad decisions, free speech & regression.

No, you support your own personal right to those things, and claim absolute power to curtail the liberty, decisions, or speech of anyone whose freedom inconveniences yours. To quote Orwell again, "That's a different thing; in fact the opposite thing," from supporting liberty.

This means that simple wealth redistribution, in the form of further quantitative easing, taking from the rich, giving to the poor & radically increasing the minimum wage, will cause the same type of supply-dependent hyperinflation that decimated Venezuela.

I used to think that too, but hyperinflation hasn't happened for 15 years now. Paul Krugman spends a lot of time explaining why.

If not for financial hoarding by the top 10%, this type of supply-side monetary catastrophe would have already happened

You're reversing cause and effect. Financial hoarding doesn't just make Quantitative Easing possible, it is what made it necessary. It was a way to get that money moving without resorting to French Revolution remedies--or Second Amendment remedies, as you would refer to them.

LarryHart said...


Not to beat a dead horse, but I didn't intend either water or heat to completely model an economy. The metaphors were simply meant to illustrate that Supply Side "trickle down" only seems appropriate if money tends to disperse from high concentrations to low concentrations, when in fact, it tends more the opposite direction.

"Trickle-down" suggests that results are best achieved by introducing money in exactly the wrong place in the model. I meant nothing more sophisticated than that.

David Brin said...

ooooh! Because smartypants types use "evidence" and "facts" to prod folks toward choosing "smarter" or better" "outcomes"... that means those smartypants types are "forcing" good old regular folks to vote in certain ways! Such bullies! I mean "bullies."

Jumper said...

George Will may indeed be rapidly moving to irrelevance, but his history is indeed repugnant. Years of cherry picking, distortion and innuendo in service to the Republicans. His most galling to me has been the greenhouse denial. That's going to cost a lot.

Paul SB said...

The clarion call for evidence hasn't turned up much, so I'll concede the point. While the relationship between rotational speed and the number of cells produced by the Coriolis Effect is well established, the fact that the borders between cells shift (and not just with season, a simple result of the Earth's tilted axis changing where solar insolation is most concentrated) made it seem possible that the Polar and Hadley cells could move closer together, squeezing out the Ferrel, much like an occluded front on a global scale. Maybe Occam can point us to some evidence that this is a possibility.

As far as paying for it goes, even if the average per capita income of the world is going up, the amount of displacement this would cause would be enormous. How costly this would be in both money and human life would depend on how quickly a change like that happens. Whole societies have disappeared as a result of fairly show climate change. I grew up not far from the Four Corners region and used to love scrambling around in Anasazi ruins. They hit a huge drought and went poof, abandoning the region. That can't have been a whole lot of fun, some exciting adventure for them.

But speculations are not good for much if they don't have good evidence to back them.

Paul SB said...


Should you see this before 11:00, I am dressed in brown, with my caffeine formula t-shirt.

LarryHart said...

This really concerns, and I wonder what the more knowledgeable members of our community think:

On Thursday, the authority asked for assurances from the union that it would suspend its walkout on Election Day if no contract agreement is reached by then. Pennsylvania is a battleground state, and the vote in overwhelmingly Democratic Philadelphia is critically important to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as she battles Republican Donald Trump.

Union attorney Ralph Teti said he doesn't think the strike would cause an issue on Election Day, suggesting the campaigns are up to the task of getting supporters to the polls.

The statement that the transit strike probably won't cause an issue on Election Day reeks of John Roberts's assertion that unlimited money in politics would probably not unleash corruption. It's like Mike Pence laughing off as absurd the idea that Trump said things that Trump actually said. It's pure sophistry meant to pretend one does not have an agenda.

It troubles me greatly that, no matter how much he dresses it up in "probably won't matter" language, a union boss seems to be defending a job action which will benefit Republicans. If he doesn't realize that a President Trump (with Republican Congress and therefore Supreme Court) would be more harmful to his membership than the contract talks ever could, then he's a freakin' idiot. And if, as seems more likely, he's acting as a stooge for Trump, then the question is what sort of union is in favor of Trump? I know this sounds like insane speculation, but I have to wonder why Donald Trump has been saying all along that he can win Pennsylvania, even though the polls have said otherwise for months.

If minorities in Philadelphia can't get to the polls, Pennsylvania could fall, and if Pennsylvania goes to Trump, it is just barely conceivable that he could pull out a win. Could a union actually want that outcome enough to make it happen?

donzelion said...
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David S. said...

There are really two kinds of unions. Unions for jobs that can be moved overseas/affected by globalization (think automotive factory workers) and unions for jobs that can't (think hotel workers). These two groups can have different goals. I can see auto worker unions being attracted to Trump's "bring jobs back to America" claims. But I don't really see transit unions falling into that bucket.

More likely he is timing the strike threat at this time because it will get the most attention

donzelion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LarryHart said...

@David S

If you are correct, then the management may well want Trump to win, or at least is indifferent to the possibility. They may not negotiate in good faith because dragging the strike out to Tuesday is a win-win for them. Even if management doesn't particularly support Trump, they may also hold out expecting that a judge will order the strike to halt for Election Day.

I'm thinking that if they do help Trump win, even if that's not their intent--if all they are doing is separating the immediate goal of the strike from any ancillary effects--if Trump becomes president,they will(in the words of Dave Sim) "get what they want, but not be very happy about it."

donzelion said...

Well, looks like I missed you somehow Paul. Shucks, thought we said 11 at berries (they open at 11). Maybe I marked that down wrong...

donzelion said...

Well, Paul, looks like we missed each other somehow maybe you missed me for that other guy reading one of our host's books? Hmmm, well, need to head off to pasadena but let's try again next week after I'm back full time in glendora (having my flat fixed, so staying in Orange county lately).

donzelion said...

David S: a very fair distinction between types of unions. I can't see Trump's calls to "bring back the jobs" convincing many with a college education - you can't build a wall and tell them "if you leave, you pay special taxes." BUT the thing with trump is that his supporters don't care about logic, don't care about hypocrisy, don't care about crime, don't care about faith, and don't care about reality - at least, any reality other than 'he's not Hillary.'

LarryHart said...


Supporters of Cruz or Rubio or even Jeb Bush were more "not Hillary" voters. Trump supporters seem to be Trump supporters first and everything else a distant second. Trump supporters hate Hillary only because she's a threat to Trump.

And what they like about him is everything that normal people would find immediately disqualifying. They like that he's mean to other people and gets away with it. They like that he gets what he wants through intimidation. Most of all, as exemplified by locumranch, they like him because normal people find him unqualified--"You can't tell them who not to vote for!"

LarryHart said...


maybe you missed me for that other guy reading one of our host's books?

Wouldn't that other guy have been Paul?

Paul SB said...


I think that must have been my fault. I thought you said the San Dimas Yogurtland on Lone Hill. I sat there for about 45 minutes reading, and assuming something must have come up. Turns out I was just a few blocks down the road.

Paul SB said...


If Trump supporters organize a transit strike on election day specifically to disenfranchise voters who they expect to vote for their opponent, then who is trying to rig the election? This is totally typical high-t whiner behavior, accusing other people of doing exactly what they are doing (then no doubt rationalizing afterwards that "everyone does it" much like our buddies Straw Ranch & The Ent).

BTW: I was reading one of my daughter's comics.

occam's comic said...

Ok let me review what i am saying,

There are two main climatic states appear in the geological record.
An icehouse - one with polar ice caps
and a greenhouse - one without polar ice caps.

The northern and southern hemispheres are semi-independent climatic systems.
You can have the whole earth be in the icehouse state, you can have the whole world in a greenhouse state, and you can have the earth split with one hemisphere in the icehouse state and the other in the greenhouse state. (the pliocene climate optimum about 3.5 million years ago is a good example of this.)

What determines which climate state you are in, is the temperature difference between the equator and the pole.

The north pole is undergoing the feared process of polar amplification.
The albedo effect is already a strong and increasing effect that you can see with the large reduction in arctic sea ice and you can see it in the temperature measurements of the arctic.

It is my understanding that there is at least twice as much carbon in the permafrost and methane hydrates in the arctic as there is carbon in the atmosphere. Far more carbon than the human race has so far emitted. Don't forget when the permafrost starts to warm up and the organic matter starts to decay, the decay process is exothermic. So as the permafrost gets wet and heats up in the summer, the exothermic decay process can become self-sustaining through out much of the winter. (this is already happening.)

The arctic sea ice cap has been preventing the winds from stirring up the arctic seas, but with large loss of sea ice in the last decade we have seen arctic cyclones happening when large stretches of open water melt out. These cyclones will be stirring up the water column in the arctic seas, and that cant be a good thing for the methane hydrates.

Those arctic cyclones will also be sending a lot of warmth and wetness to Greenland vastly accelerating the melting of the ice in Greenland.

LarryHart said...

Paul SB:

If Trump supporters organize a transit strike on election day specifically to disenfranchise voters who they expect to vote for their opponent...

I'm not (yet) that paranoid to think the entire strike is for Trump's benefit. However, I do wonder if the strike organizers know or care that they might throw the election to Trump, and also if Trump is negotiating behind the scenes with one side or the other to drag the strike out past Tuesday. As crazy as that sounds, it gives one plausible reason why Trump thinks he can win Pennsylvania when all the polls have had that state consistently out of reach for months.

I wouldn't suspect the union to be the party making things happen to help Trump, but that statement that "Union attorney Ralph Teti said he doesn't think the strike would cause an issue on Election Day" concerns me, as he is obviously lying, and one has to wonder in what pursuit he is doing so.

occam's comic said...

As far as paying to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, lets keep in mind a few things,

On a global level we have vastly expanded our debt sense the great recession and we have only gotten very modest growth.
we globally added 57 trillion in debt from 2008-2015 but the economy only grew by 10.3 trillion.

When enough people realize that climate change is happening and sea level rise is unavoidable, the value of the at risk properties will plummet. For example when people realize that their property in southern Florida will have a good chance of being under water within 20 years how are they going to sell their property?

David Brin said...