Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Clutching Electoral College straws? I rank the (complicated) odds.

Seriously? You have hopes? Oh, for certain there are plenty of sci fi-ish scenarios to ponder, before the Electoral College votes are tallied on December 19.  Scroll down to get my odds-handicapping of all the EC gambits! But first, much-needed context:

Okay, so a lawsuit filed by two Colorado presidential electors aimed to free them from penalties for defecting. A federal judge then ruled that Colorado's electors "must" vote for Hillary Clinton
     But "must"... or else what? Face a tiny fine? 
     Backed up by both the Constitution and the Founders own words -- and precedent, with past defectors going unpunished -- nothing prevents electors doing whatever they like. Which is both heartening and scary. And (as we'll see) likely irrelevant.

The Electors Trust is publicly offering both discreet legal advice and to pay any legal costs incurred by such defectors… who I'm sure are enduring terrible denunciations and threats, as well.
      Now a bipartisan collection of over twenty Electors (and growing) request security clearance so they can see the evidence that Russia meddled in the 2016 election to get Trump elected. 

(GOP Electors! At least hint you're wavering. Demand an "assurance call" from Trump himself. You'll get one! Plus maybe dinner: do you like frog's legs?)

To all of you blinking in astonishment, over an obscure constitutional relic that has only caused trouble - till now - but might have value after all, well, Alexander Hamilton, in the Federalist Papers, said one purpose of the EC is to keep foreign powers from capturing the presidency
       Another passage extolls the EC to deal with dogmatist candidates who are outrageously unqualified
      Wow. What prescient Founders.

== The Siberian Candidate ==

OK. Just a bit more context before getting the the odds.

Declaring last week that "I'm, like, a smart person" and refusing security briefings, DT exacerbated all the drama with remarkable lack of self-control. He had only to lay low and say peaceful things, for all 'electoral college gambits' to be moot. Think. If he cannot keep it lidded now, how about when all leashes have slipped?
Heck, is a CIA report necessary? Could the Kremlin have picked a more favorable U.S. cabinet than Trump has, e.g. Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, who received lavish honors - and billions in favored contracts - directly from the Putin regime and who hangs with Russian klepto-oligarchs? Paul Manafort was a longtime consultant to Viktor Yanukovich, the Russian-backed Ukrainian president who was overthrown in 2014, when Ukraine swung westward, the event for which Putin swore revenge on the Democratic leaders Obama and Clinton. The list is so extensive, we need no "CIA report."

Would any 20th Century sci fi author - even on LSD - have foreseen the bootlicking devotion of today's right wing to Moscow? 

The Siberian Candidate, indeed. 

Ah, but all of that is prelude and scene setting.  Today's topic is wagering the odds.   We have a betting pool over how many elector-defectors there will be. And given all we've seen, it ought to be a tsunami. But, although I do expect some, even a large number won't matter as much as folks hope

== All the possible scenarios - barring an asteroid strike ==

Asteroids*. Yeah. At this point, something biblical almost sounds merciful. But all right, since many have asked… here’s my forecast:

1- What are the odds that 37+ Republican electors will demonstrate awesome maturity, sanity and patriotism by switching to Hillary Clinton on the 19th? (She might cleverly increase the odds by offering olive branches - as I described in my previous posting - and perhaps even promising to resign, after a year.)

But sorry. There's no chance of this, whatsoever.

2- What are the odds that 37+ Republican electors might demonstrate some maturity, sanity and patriotism - and ad-hoc organization - by choosing another Republican? Perhaps elevating John Kasich or Paul Ryan for top-three consideration by the House? I give that a generous 15%! Then subtract 5% because of my own “jinx factor,” whenever I want something. 

3- That 37+ Republican electors will demonstrate at least a little maturity, sanity and patriotism by independently and separately or impulsively abstaining or defecting to some random protest person – disorganized but still throwing it to the House? This one I give 20% (minus 10% jinx.)

4- Okay, now it gets interesting. If #2 happens: say Ohio’s delegation goes en masse for Kasich, or Utah’s republican electors find they can’t vote Trump without alcohol, or a cabal goes for Ryan, will the House then actually replace Trump?  

Alas, I give this almost no chance. 

Oh, Ryan could deliver one fantastic and historic speech, if he had the patriotism and guts. And if he read my Contrary Brin posting before this one.

But he knows the very next day Trump would unleash a veritable tsunami of Timothy McVeighs, across the land. We'd cope! With historic courage and triumph over treason. We are made of the same stuff as the Greatest Generation. But I doubt that GOP reps in the House - the laziest and most cowardly in the history of the republic - will have the cojones.

Give it 10% (of the already low 10% in case #2).

5- And if the House decides, based on #3? Just take my answer to #4 and cut it in half. (That's 10% of 10%, again, for those keeping score.)

6- Far more likely, if either #2 or #3 were to happen, and Trump falls below 270, is that the GOP-controlled House of Representatives will admonish Donald Trump, then make him president anyway. Perhaps extracting from him some changes in his cabinet or a promise not to make enemies lists. (Like asking a shark not to bite.) None of those promises or changes would affect the interests of Koch-Murdoch-Goldman puppeteers, though the Moscow strings might be made less blatant. This I deem plausible… though remember it starts with the low probability events in #2 & #3. 

7- Side bet. If #2 or #3 happen, maybe one or two defectors will proclaim the truth -- that the GOP has gone crazy. But most of the defecting electors will still vote in Mike Pence as VP, to prove their party loyalty. 

But even if we suppose Pence also fell below 270, he would still likely be chosen as Vice President by the Senate. Unless three GOP moderate senators were to actually show some courage. We'll never know, because it won't come to that.

Only... might some electors flip ballots? Voting Pence for President and Trump for VP? The perfect way to both do your duty and deflect angry fanatics! Just tell the screamers: "But I did vote for them!"  

It's the closest thing to a possible win-win for conscience-wracked GOP electors... and hence it will never occur to them.**

There are even more far-out sci fi scenarios. I got a million of em. But I won't offer that list of weird possibilities here. They belong in the genre of fantasy. As does all of 2016.

8- Now let’s speculate! Suppose major proof of cheating emerges, not just Russian meddling but also voting machine fraud. (Billionaires: it's still not too late to offer my Henchman's Prize! Ten million dollars for a Diebold defector could save American democracy.) 

Now further imagine that John Roberts and Samuel Alito might - conceivably – remember to be more Americans than Republicans. Then we could see something unprecedented. Not the fantasy nursed by some – installing Hillary Clinton - but maybe an election do-over.  In which case, I would urge Clinton to bow out. Get the DNC to nominate Biden and Bernie. Or the nation goes up in flames. Odds of any of this happening? Almost zero.  

Face it. Roberts and Alito aren’t ready yet to face their duty. Oh, but they will. A time may come when those two become (choke) the bulwark (alas) of everything we hold dear.

== And it all boils down to... ==

After all this, what are our chances of avoiding misery, in 40 days? 

Forget about it. Gird yourselves for a fully fulminating, multi-year phase of the U.S. Civil War, in which all the Americans who actually know stuff and believe there are "facts" will have to wake up, grit their teeth, and win-or-die. 

Literally, because we – the scientists, teachers, doctors, statisticians, engineers, meteorologists, journalists, professors, economists, civil servants, intelligence officers, tech entrepreneurs, law professionals, skilled labor and all the others declared to be enemies by Fox -- could yet find ourselves up against walls. 

I exaggerate? Look up Steve Bannon’s open and repeated admiration of Lenin, Stalin -- and Darth Vader.)

Still, the question we will face, on Inauguration day, after all the clutched straws float away, is this: are we a nation that will put up with thin-skin screeching, enemies lists, abuse of office, foreign control, vengeance vendettas and Delirium Tremens outbursts for a complete 4 years? I am about to wager… no. Which brings us to:

9- Might Paul Ryan and the House – as well as Alito and Roberts -- come around, well before the 2018 midterms? Facing a looming train wreck, I’ve already bet that they will reach their limit of DT outrages and begin a process of removal. 

But cleverly, Ryan will first say to the Democrats “you put forward articles of impeachment and we’ll provide just enough Republican votes for it to pass.” Thus, they will aim for a win-win-win.  A fresh face for the midterms, a presidential puppet obedient to Murdoch and the Kochs (though perhaps less-so to Russia)… ensuring that DT’s enraged followers will blame the democrats for his ouster. As I said, a perfect win-win-win for Ryan and the GOP oligarchy. Of all our straw-clutching scenarios, this one actually seems plausible. (Unless DT has blackmail on Pence.) 

I give it 30%+

And hence my final forecast:

10- The Democrats… will their political lobotomization be over by then? Will they fall for that trap? 

Or will they have the guts to say: “Do your own dirty work, Paul. We will provide a few votes, if you need them to clean up your own mess. But this is all on you.”

What odds do I give that the Dems will ever be that smart?

Practically zero.




* Asteroids. Republicans hate em. You can expect all asteroid-related NASA missions to be canceled, in favor of joining Russia, China, India and Europe scooting back to repeating Apollo-style landings on the almost-useless Moon.  Another topic, alas. 

** Heck DT’d find being VP way more fun than the Oval Office.


Catfish N. Cod said...

I had not thought of the idea that Ryan could blame Democrats for Trump's fall -- but mainly because it will still take two-thirds of the Senate -- i.e., fifteen Republican senators -- to actually remove him.

So Ryan can blame House Democrats for helping to let the impeachment articles through and possibly save his own skin as Speaker, but he can't use it to completely blame the Democrats. Trump's impeachment trial result will be bipartisan because the Constitution only allows partisan impeachment convictions with a large supermajority.

Now, if the Republicans chicken and only *censure* Trump then he can blame Democrats 100%. But then Republicans have to take the blame for any further screwups Trump commits. If Trump is bad enough to get the impeachment articles past Ryan it will probably be too late to just censure him.

So the two Houses of Congress will have different incentives, as the Founders intended they would.

Russell Osterlund said...

Biden and Bernie - this is the best you can offer? Ignoring the best qualified candidate ever? Let's turn the 2016 election into a total farce!

Anonymous said...

The GOP, with the exception of a few Tea Party loons is rubbing their collective hands together with glee, knowing that there is virtually no way that the Democrats won't almost certainly bring impeachment charges against Drumpf within weeks of his inauguration. They'll be rid of Drumpf, Pence, who's one of their darlings will be President and they'll be able to blame everything that goes wrong after that on the Dems.

TCB said...

But fuckin' wait, it gets even better!

Trump is inheriting the right to Breitbartize Voice of America, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.

How: " a Republican amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act will give the President the power to appoint a chief executive who'll be able to exercise total control over America's broadcasters.

This presidential appointee replaces an arms-length (and, lately, ineffectual) Board of Governors. The Obama administration backed this change, seemingly in anticipation of these powers being given to Hillary Clinton."


My hate-conservatives gland is plumb wore out, and my hate-centrist-wallstreet-democrats gland is looks like swiss cheese. My brains can't. I have elephant spleen.

Did ya ever notice that in most fields, time equals progress? and people learn lessons and do things better over time?

But did ya ever notice that this does not seem to apply in religion OR politics?


Tony Fisk said...

I agree that it's a big ask for a rubber stamp to change its mark. Still, the obvious question is: if not now, then when?

The 'bipartisan' group seeking security clearance has one Republican who somehow missed out on the Hastert briefing. On the other hand, Larry Lessig claims to know of 20+ Republican electors who are considering breaking with Trump. Of such things are dreams made...

On a lighter note, hang on to those asteroids: Gov. Gerry Brown just said of Earth sats that if the new order won't let NASA launch them, then Ca. will launch their own, dammit!

Also note that the Dept of Energy 'respectfully declined' to provide the new order with names of climate scientists in its ranks.

David Smelser said...

Hey Anonymous (you really should sign your posts), are you willing to put up money on that prediction? I'll wager $25 that the Democrats will NOT bring impeachment charges against President Trump in the first 90 days.

Alfred Differ said...

I doubt Democrats will bring impeachment charges in the first year. They'll try a number of other things, but not that. My $100 says so.

As for CA launching it's own, I'm all for it. How can I help? It will be fun to fly them over those red states farther to the east, but I'll be sure to discourage trajectories over IL and NY and so on. 8)

LarryHart said...

How can Democrats bring impeachment charges? Don't Ryan and McConnell control the entire agenda of their respective houses? And even if Republicans let it happen, this is one time where losing the congressional elections has its perks. Democrats can neither impeach nor convict on their own. It will require more than a handful of Republicans to go along.

Alfred Differ said...


I was hoping for an easy $100.
My old plans for becoming filthy rich all fell through. 8)

Catfish N. Cod said...

A Democrat can file impeachment charges but they go nowhere until the House Committee on the Judiciary holds hearings. That would be under the control of the Hon. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-VA (Roanoke-Shenandoah). To my knowledge he has yet to speak on the matter, but it would be premature before the Obama and McCain-Graham investigations yield fruit, or actual violations of the Emoluments Clause occur, or some other serious breach of the duties of the Presidency occurs.

Then it has to be brought before the full House, which either requires the acquiescence of Speaker Ryan, or a discharge petition with 218 names. Such a discharge petition obviously has the votes to pass, barring shady shenanigans, but requires at least twenty-four Republican House members in addition to every Democrat. A discharge petition cannot be brought until a bill has been cooling its heels in committee for a minimum period of time, which is why the Judiciary Committee has to move first.

THEN it has to pass the House, which obviously would be far easier if the House leadership acquiesced. There are various scenarios in which this could happen, a prominent one being that Ryan has to make a deal with the Democrats to preserve his Speakership against a Tea Party / Freedom Caucus revolt.

And that's just to get to the trial, which do not forget requires sixty-seven votes to convict... at least nineteen of which must be Republican. McConnell has no say about such things; once impeachment charges pass the House, the Senate has no choice but to take up the matter. McConnell's only move would be to squash hearings and investigations, which he cannot do without appearing (and possibly actually being) part of a coverup.

All of which is why I find trying to pin problems on the Democrats after a Trump impeachment to be problematical. The RNC would have to purge sizable portions of the party to make such a charge stick, and the Congressional leadership will have a hard time fighting it once it reaches a certain point.

I don't want things to have to reach that point, but I think it likely that they will. I put the chance of impeachment occurring before the midterms significantly higher than Dr. Brin does, because His Orangeness seems to be so intent on providing so *many* possible charges...

LarryHart said...

@Catfish N. Cod,

I do hope that Trump gets himself impeached (I mean that terminology to invoke "she got herself pregnant"). I'm not even concerned any longer that Pence is worse on social conservative issues, because Trump is doing all of the far-right social conservative things anyway, whether he personally cares or not. It comes down to the fact that I don't think Pence or any other Republican (Cruz, Rubio, even Christie) would go so far as to sabotage America's underlying institutions and standing in the world community. Yes, it's reached the point where I'm thinking "If all they do is outlaw abortion, make Christianity the official religion, and steal a few trillions from the treasury, we'll collectively sigh and say 'It could have been worse.'"

My only point was that I don't see any means by which Trump can be impeached and it can appear that the Republican Party was opposed to doing so.

Tom Crowl said...

Slightly off topic... but as I watch the news about Aleppo... I keep thinking back to the end of the Cold War... and all that talk about a 'unipolar world' and Fukuyama's "END of HISTORY" (and the bugles blare!)

I laughed then.

I wish I could laugh now.

LarryHart said...

@Tom Crowl,

I wish it was 1977 again. Just because that was one of the best years of my life prior to marriage. I'd even take the heavy snow and 72 straight hours below zero F as fair compensation for the other things that happened that year.

And politics was of the very least concern.

I laughed a lot then too.

LarryHart said...

It's really scary that my usually-rational brain is going toward cartoon fantasy solutions.

If anyone is familiar with the "Phineas and Ferb" Christmas special, I'm planning to lie down on a mattress somewhere, pretend to just wake up, and go "Oh! So, it was all a dream." And hope that fixes everything.

Or channeling Neil Gaiman's Sandman story "A Dream of a Thousand Cats", thinking that if as few as a thousand Democrats dream about it, we can recreate the world such that Democrats have been in charge all along. Of course, getting a thousand Democrats to do anything at the same time wouldn't be any easier than it was with cats.

David Brin said...

So long as they can make it seem a MAJORITY of the impeachers and convicters are democrats, they can maintain the blame-the-dems narrative while getting the Pence they want.

A friend pointed out something I hadn't thought of - DEMOCRATIC ELECTORS DEFECTING TO TRUMP!

Why.... for the oldest reason. BRIBERY.

Not exchange of money, but promises of a lavish job, in a year, when the dust settles.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the previous comments:

A secState who hates all diplomats. Interior who hates all envioro science... every billionaire DT appoints is a bonding moment! Because while these guys are FUNCTIONALLY the enemies of middle class whites, they are SYMBOLICALLY pals and allies against all the damned smartypants.

Y'know, after decades of couching their bullying and corporatist leanings in rhetoric that at least paid lip service to patriotism, Donald Trump seems to have given his followers permission to admit they hate America!

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

A friend pointed out something I hadn't thought of - DEMOCRATIC ELECTORS DEFECTING TO TRUMP!

Why.... for the oldest reason. BRIBERY.

Not exchange of money, but promises of a lavish job, in a year, when the dust settles.

Why? I mean why would Trump give them anything? Would their defection help him in any way?
He hasn't even rewarded Chris Christie or Rudy Giuliani, and they actually did him some good.

LarryHart said...

I said:

Y'know, after decades of couching their bullying and corporatist leanings in rhetoric that at least paid lip service to patriotism, Donald Trump seems to have given his followers permission to admit they hate America!

Like Judge Doom in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", or like the gangster villains in "Atlas Shrugged" (one of the few images Ayn Rand got correct), they take over governments not to profit from that stewardship, but to dismantle them.

It should be no surprise that someone who flies the Confederate flag, or that Alaska independence movement ("I won't be buried under their damned flag!"), or those who take up arms against federal agents do in fact hate America. What's surprising is that they've gotten away with pretending something else for so long.

Tom Crowl said...

This could go weirder than it already is.

Expectations for a Trump first 100 days are unrealistically high among his followers... and I believe unrealistically low by his opponents.

One expecting heaven and the other hell.

If we see neither... which is more likely... he could end up losing support from a portion of his fans... and gain some from his opponents.

He's very canny... and he knows how to play with expectations.

P.S. RE his State Department nominations... my recommendation and or prediction for the Democrats... is that they won't be able to stop Tillerman... but they could cause some turmoil. If they're smart they should use that as a negotiating chip to force them to abandon Bolton (who's really crazy and dangerous).

David Brin said...

PS... Tacitus... please look at this and tell me how Hillary was worse. When in fact this is worse:

Anonymous said...

@LarryHart 5:28 PM
Like the ones Stonekettle Station is describing so eloquently!

TCB said...

Now the Three Letter Agencies are saying Putin personally directed the DNC hacks.

At what point do people start admitting that we are in a genuine crisis?

Oh look, the football game is on! Sure hope whatsisname is healthy to play tonight! Sure be a shame if Corporate-Owned City Team lost to Other Corporate-Owned City Team. That would really hurt my fantasy team. Don't you hate it when people obsess over some politician? They're all the same, right?

LarryHart said...

@Anonymous linking to Stonekettle Station,

I'm reminded of a parody version of this Lee Greenwood song:

And, I'm proud to be an American
Who gets just five MPG.
I live alone, but the car I own
Can seat a hundred three,
And I'll gladly park right next to you,
So when you look out, you can't see.
Oh, I'll never trade my Escalade.
God bless my SUV!

LarryHart said...

It would take too long to even excerpt parts of the 2011 "Stonekettle Station" post linked to a few items above here.

Definitely worth the read, though.

So maybe it was obvious even five years ago that they hate America.

Slim Moldie said...

Dr. Brin

On bribes. My premise as usual is absurd. I hope. What if Trump, not really wanting presidency sells it to the highest GOP bidder (via electoral bribery) in exchange for overtly favorable legislation to his businesses AND the opportunity to supersede POTUS by becoming the alt right's new Jesus Christ Super Star. As JCSS, DT could continue all his favorite behaviors like tweeting and flying around holding rallies--at first as a peacemaker--holding the leash of the hordes ready to kill for him. Moreover, as an unimpeached martyr he has no conflicts of interest and can still run again in 4 years...

LarryHart said...

Slim Moldie:

My premise as usual is absurd. I hope. What if Trump, not really wanting presidency sells it to the highest GOP bidder (via electoral bribery) in exchange for overtly favorable legislation to his businesses AND the opportunity to supersede POTUS by becoming the alt right's new Jesus Christ Super Star. As JCSS, DT could continue all his favorite behaviors like tweeting and flying around holding rallies--at first as a peacemaker--holding the leash of the hordes ready to kill for him.

Oh, God, one can only hope. And remember how that story ends.

LarryHart said...

...and now I've got Mary Magdalene's soliloquy in Melania Trump's voice stuck in my head.

Thanks for that (not!).


David Brin said...


Jim Wright’s latest “Stonekettle Station” posting dives into the triumph of subjective reality – how for many Americans, “evidence” now consists of internet ravings and “proof” comes when those ravings are accompanied by a link and a jpeg. He uses as a chief example the recent #Pizzagate tizzy. That notorious, made-up paranoia-drivel storm is believed by perhaps millions of gullibles for one simple reason. Because otherwise they would have to face a hard truth. That nothing actually scandalous has ever been revealed about Hillary Clinton, even after 24 years of relentless “investigations” costing us all half a billion dollars, pursued avidly by professionals, congressional hearings, Foxzoids and internet lynch mobs. After all of that, to be reduced to howling over a dumb-but-no-harm mistake in email procedure? No, Hillary Clinton has to have been running a child-porn and murder ring. Ah, that’s the ticket!

Oh but read some of the crap Wright wades through, having deliberately incited mania from ilks that frankly frighten me and that fortunately look at the long paragraphs here and wander away, seeking someplace more spasmodic to troll.

Paul SB said...

TCB said,
"Did ya ever notice that in most fields, time equals progress? and people learn lessons and do things better over time?

But did ya ever notice that this does not seem to apply in religion OR politics?"
- There's a reason for that correlation. The two institutions, which have only been separated for a couple centuries and not at all universally, have always been two sides of the same coin - the currency of control.

Paul SB said...

Alfred, I think you missed my main point. Few people who become filthy rich are content to just be that. Wealth becomes a growing addiction, and not just a shopping addiction as Veblen described. Once a person is filthy rich, their attitudes change. They become convinced of their own godhood, look down their noses at the rest of humanity as nothing but things to be used (Donald Grope is a good example), and their actions reflect their attitudes. They corrupt the very systems that allowed them to become filthy rich, and ultimately destroy them. They become the new aristocracy that crushes any innovations that do not profit them directly. The system is self defeating.

I do look at things in the long term, and it is true that 40 years is a tiny blip in the grand scheme of things, but a tiny blip can be deadly if the right combination of events happen. How long did it take for Walter Alvarez's rock to do in the dinosaurs? Splash into the Gulf, clouds blot out the sun all over the world, and in weeks to months the plants start to die in droves, then the herbivores, and after awhile the carnivores run out of carcasses to scavenge. The only survivors are little furry, feathery or scaly critters that don't eat much and/or could hibernate awhile. Next year, when the clouds have cleared and the seeds begun to germinate, the little survivors began the 10 million-year long road to recovery.

Today we have unprecedented hoards of humans, the vast majority of whom are completely dependent on a social system that is complex and vulnerable to disruptions. The more complex, the more likely one serious disruption can turn into a cluster fuck, where system after system collapses because they are all so interdependent.

I might not be able to get back here for awhile. I just found out this morning that I was volunteered to serve on another committee on Monday, and one that demands a frog pile more work than the other two I'm on. Christmas Vacation is coming, so I will probably have some time to participate then, but for the next couple weeks I might be going poit (sorry, aardvark joke - ask Larry. I'm going to bed.)

donzelion said...

LarryHart (continuing a titillating exchange on Veblen):

I wrote: re terms of a physiological analogy, I believe he would have looked a the "business" side as the "fat," and the "industry" side as brain and muscle...

You responded: "No, what I was trying to illustrate was the relationship between the business and industry sides of an enterprise."

Understood. I believe you are significantly more charitable toward the 'business' side of a firm than Veblen himself was. Indeed, Veblen's disdain towards all the 'helpers' (ranging from accountants to ad marketing) may be one of the reasons why his contribution toward economics remained 'fringe' (although Dr. Brin's Evonomics site has several people reconsidering his more anthropological/evolutionary institutionalist approach).

For you, "Bringing in revenue is "business". Operations are "industry"."
For him, "Bringing in revenue" might be connected with 'business,' but I do not believe he operated from a framework that considered it as such.

That said, "Reagan flipped that around, so that the raison d'etre of any organization became "to make money", or maybe more accurately "to extract as much money out of the system as possible."

That actually goes back to the original purposes of a (Western European protestant) corporation - they were formed to make money. Sometimes, they were formed to make money through a specific means (e.g., building a toll bridge). Usually, they were formed to make money through any lawful means (e.g., a merchant vessel could make money by buying and selling any cargo that would turn a profit, in any port - a toll bridge could make money by selling extra iron/steel or engineering expertise on other projects). In time, the latter became the only real purpose for corporations, until in the late 18th century, the 'ultra vires' doctrine was already regarded as 'ancient' and no longer standard.

Reagan didn't really tweak that - it's been a norm for a very long time. What did tweak matters was the leveraged-buyout processes that gained tax advantages under Reagan: companies that engaged in broad public works for any reason other than profits painted a target on their backs for financiers. These sorts of costs (as well as 'labor overhead') made it easy to make a case for a ruthless acquisition battle.

"So making an analogy to a human being...That's what I was getting at."
I get it. You're not nearly as dismissive as Veblen was, so you're approaching things from a more tolerant perspective than he did. For me, I haven't taken a position at all, just tried to pull back for some perspective and invite thoughts about an approach that is very different from what is typical today (a world in which Keynes v. Friedman remains the norm - and outliers like Veblen, Marx, or others are shrugged aside).

Unknown said...

I have heard tales of some D electors who are willing to "pair votes" and abstain from voting for Clinton, in exchange for their R opposite numbers voting for another candidate altogether (Ryan is the name most frequently mentioned in this connection).

I have to say, for all I detest everything Ryan stands for, I think I could deal with him for a term - he is, at base, a politician, and thus amenable to deals. Donnie seems to hold as his most sincere belief whatever the last person to speak with him said.

As for a deal with Congressional Dems to take the fall for impeachment - Dem leadership has already announced that if the Republicans want to dump the ACA and replace it with something else, they get to own that one. The Dems aren't willing to "negotiate" in a situation where that means a guarantee that they won't get anything except the dirty end of the stick. One can only hope the same would happen in this case - "No, you guys wanted him so bad, you can have him. You want to get rid of him, you've got enough votes to do it. We're sitting this one out."

donzelion said...

Alfred (continuing re 'filthy rich' goals of innovators):

"Most innovators I’ve known are motivated to make something better, but the reward for doing so matters."
Certainly. The question is whether they would do the same thing as well regardless as to whether they received $1 billion or $10 million for their work. I believe they would. I definitely do NOT believe that they would do it 100x better for the extra digits in return.

"Innovations that fail to receive investments fail the market fitness test,"
Not sure I agree. A 'market fitness test' does not merely respond to the innovation per se, but often to many other factors extraneous to any specific innovation. Did the innovation in question become a default standard? Were pieces of it blocked by rivals? Was the market saturated? Did the investors refuse to back the product because they lacked faith in the innovator, rather than in the innovation?

I would include investors who 'trawl these waters' as innovators ONLY IF they contribute something other than capital to the process. Otherwise, they're no more 'innovative' than the feudal lords who were always co-investors but most often tried to retard innovation itself (unless they profited handsomely from it). (By the way, a shockingly large number of the Saudi royals whom Dr. Brin disdains so much would be innovators every bit as accomplished as Jobs, Page & Brin, Zuckerman, Elon Musk, etc. under your definition - I don't know if you'd have a problem with that, but he probably would. He fixates on Murdoch/Prince Waleed - but disregards their capital contributions to nearly everything else in Silicon Valley.)

donzelion said...

And finally, to our host.
Dr. Brin writes: "Gird yourselves for a fully fulminating, multi-year phase of the U.S. Civil War, in which all the Americans who actually know stuff and believe there are "facts" will have to wake up, grit their teeth, and win-or-die."

This misses the very real point. The fulminating and screeching has always been a sideshow. Trump & Friends are about the money. The big money.

- They will offer decoys to arouse rage, while exploring how to raid the social security piggy bank.

- They will offer ploys for infrastructure as a tool to shift major funds and govt guarantees for projects in rural areas, while neglecting cities (leaving cities to self-finance major projects). The right infrastructure investment can/will multiply the value of assets acquired on the cheap b (e.g., numerous oil projects). The LACK of infrastructure investments can starve locations that require them to remain viable.

- The same applies for defense. By compelling contractors to relocate to Red States (from California, New England, WA, and other 'blue states'), Trump can drive the same hollowing out in those fields that Bush did, but since he's signalled that he doesn't care what anyone else thinks, he can do it faster and larger. There are reasons why the Navy trains its pilots in Arizona rather than California, and reasons why Kansas, Missouri and Alabama got certain contracts even though they were never natural hubs for skilled talent, experience, or security needs.

The Democrats failed to make the claim stick that Republicans - collectively - caused the financial crisis. They were too busy cleaning up the mess, and led by a president too busy trying to govern rather than keeping score. The only folks who 'kept score' were comedians (Jon Stewart et. al.) - converting actual theft they'd perpetrated into a subject of laughter, rather than an error that actually hurt real people and requires reversal.

TheMadLibrarian said...

I will see your Stonekettle Station, and raise you one Denis Leary:

Anonymous said...

@LarryHart @6:33 PM
Jim Wright from Stonekettle doesn't do short form, no! But as you said, worth the time.
The latest one, Blind Spot about perceiving reality, conspiration theories and reinforced concrete bubbles, is spot on too.
But then again, I would think so, wouldn't I? It was a link from here that pointed me to Stonekettle Station.

Ah, Dr. Brin was there before me! Well, I can at least supply the link.

@TheMadLibrarian 11:13 PM
I laughed at that one. It conveys my feelings right now perfectly. I want to drive my car through the small streets in the early hours, windows down, blasting some Bach or Bartok or Ravel at full volume, irritating the hell out of anyone who doesn't like that. Channeling my angry inner 8 years old my way.
Reality check: it's winter, and my car speakers don't have enough power (and I'm not an early riser anyway, unless I have to). Grmpf! Oh, well.
But then that song takes a darker turn. Yes, there are people who'd take assholery to a whole different level, terrifying, no longer just irritating, the country and the world. And hollering the chorus while doing so.

Twominds (and yes, it was me the first time too)

Anonymous said...

Now, nobody here have any reason to trust anything I say, and it is all circumstantial anyway, still somebody may find this interesting.

For business related reasons, I'm contact with some quite important Russian business people with direct contacts all the way to the top of Russian government: federal judges, regional governors, oil tycoons, ministries, I've seen pics of them in presence of Putin himself.

While not talking directly about anything, while under the influence of copious amounts of alcohol (some stereotypes are true) they often bragged about Trump being a personal friend.

I also know as a fact that they spent a lot of time in Washington and NY in recent months, talking with congressmen and other political figures, for undisclosed reasons related to their own business.

In passing comments in recent months they seemed quite sure Trump would have won, and anyway after his winning they spent almost a month in NY "celebrating" with all the usual trimming of this kind of celebrations (i.e. Vodka and women).

Now, as I already said at the beginning, I know nothing for sure, it may be only marginally or even not at all linked, and moreover here nobody have any reason to believe a random tale form the internet... still, I found some of the things they said quite chillingly accurate... and they are not nice persons.

David Brin said...

Thank you Anonymous visitor for your unverified but interesting input.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@LarryHart: it's reached the point where I am ready to drop debate about ANY policy until we know the Constitution is secured. Policies can be undone. (Judicial and long term appointments... possibly another matter. Delay those if possible.) But parties and policies mean nothing unless we have a Constitution with which to secure our rights. I don't like a lot of Republican policies and politicians, but... I didn't like John Ashcroft either. And when All The President's Men accosted him, in a post-surgical hospital bed, to coerce him into signing an illegal order, HE DEFENDED THE CONSTITUTION. And thus earned my respect and praise. I intend to bring up his example. Often.

@Tom Crowl: The only limited End of History I believe in is the Star Trek one, with a post-Singularity plenty, no vicious ideologies left to feed, and unlimited human creative and exploration potential.

And even then, the End of History only extends to the borders of the Federation. History on the border and beyond is still very much alive; the true End of History even in Star Trek could only happen in some unimaginable far future when all the galaxy is one gargantuan Federation and time-traveling Arisian Lensmen defend the integrity of the destiny that makes it so. Even in the Star Trek universe, where the better angels of our nature have taken completely over, it takes near-demigod powers to permit an End of History.

@Dr. Brin: when Trump loves to screw over anyone that doesn't defer sufficiently, why should anyone think a bribe would stick?.... now blackmail, that's another matter.

@LarryHart: ah, but they only hate "Unreal America". Which is apparently defined as half the population, and for some, the Constitution as well.

@Dr. Brin (again): The narrative already being prepared in right-wing blogs is that former intelligence officers, reading the "tea leaves" of weasel words in the press releases, somehow "divined" that the accusations of Russia are a lie designed to cover up a mole, probably NSA, that leaked the DNC emails a la Snowden. Why Snowden would be reviled while the entire Intelligence Community would ruin their own reputation and politicize themselves to protect a violator of the Espionage Act (Wikileaks being under foreign control) is never explained, but who cares as long as the entire population of experts can be ignored.

Also, I suspect that if the Republicans do not lose control of both Congress and the Presidency in the same future election, they may try to do what the North Carolina legislature is doing -- reassigning as many powers as possible to whichever branch they still control. Maliciously garnering as much power as they can to maintain their rule by any means even slightly legal. Using surprise means to accost the minority with these moves, so they have minimal chance to object or obstruct. Making the government more partisan (merging the elections board with the ethics board so that the legislature can appoint more members; making the Supreme Court electable and partisan; transferring control of the university system trustee board to the legislature). And then they accuse Democrats of gaming the system. Disgusting. (I think "Moral Mondays" may have to resume in Raleigh.)

Catfish N. Cod said...

@donzelion: I would be willing to permit "looting" redirection of funds from blue states to red states, if by such means redistribution was accomplished and more money actually went to the dirt-poor blue-collar workers in those states.

But I know those states, and their local power structures too well, and have no reason to believe that Trumpkins will not make common cause with them. It will be a corruption scheme to direct more funds to upper-class pockets.

Everyone! Remind people that we had a Millionaire's Cabinet before, by Warren Harding in 1921. They promised prosperity by unleashing the power of unregulated business, too, and for a few years it worked. It brought two other things as well: unending scandals like Teapot Dome, where the nation's assets were shamelessly looted... and, when the bubble burst, a bouncing baby Great Depression.

They think they're smart enough to avoid the latter. But then so did Alan Greenspan.

donzelion said...

Catfish: My, we're both up late today (or is that, early?)...

"I would be willing to permit "looting" redirection of funds from blue states to red states, if by such means redistribution was accomplished and more money actually went to the dirt-poor blue-collar workers in those states."

We'll have to disagree. Two main reasons occur to me.

(1) Looting, and the fear thereof, is one of the great reasons why feudal structures stagnate for millennia. Any lord who knows the king may shift his lands to some other lord will focus on extracting as much from the peasants while building as little infrastructure as possible. The expectation of looting creates a framework for short-term exploitation at the expense of long-term possibility. Confronted with similar incentives, I doubt modern 'would-be' lords would act any differently.

(2) Looting inevitably hurts one group of poor, even if it offers temporary, marginal benefits to another group of poor. The rich tend to figure out ways to insure against the worst of it; the poor cannot.

Say Trump threatened to block any further grants to JPL unless they relocate from La Canada/Flintridge to W. Virginia. Sure, there'd be a building boom in W. Virginia, new shops, schools, and expansion. Some of that would inevitably benefit 'poor' in W. Virginia. And temporarily, you wouldn't see a sudden group of closures in La Canada/Flintridge-Pasadena region - if it happened at all, it would happen gradually.

Compare how San Diego and San Bernardino responded to the Bushes relocating aerospace/military from California to Red States. San Diego recovered. San Bernardino did not, and is now as poor as anywhere in Appalachia.

That said, San Diego repaid that sort of ill-treatment by Republicans by shifting from stalwart red to purple/blue. Republicans (outside California) don't really care: they are in the process of gerrymandering the country as a whole, and screwing one 'blue state' to help the poor in other states is all part of the plan.

Tom Crowl said...

RE Anti-Intellectualism

First... that it's a real phenomenon and has been growing is TRUE. (and is being exploited mostly but not only by Republicans but that's not my point here).

And I saw a pretty good example of it last night on PBS... a story about the conflict between scientists seeking to build a large telescope on an extinct volcano (we hope) in Hawaii... and locals fighting it because its a 'sacred' site... (which is accompanying a sort of cultural re-surgence by native Hawiians 're-claiming' their heritage).

I confess... I'm on the scientist's side... and the native Hawaiian talking about how the ancestors would be angry and they needed the worship site to be closer to the "Gods" or whatever... was hard to buy.

Frankly, she may well have been serious but she was also clearly trying to exploit an anti-intellectual argument with her fellow native Hawiians and those supporting "kumbayaism" generally.

BUT... here's the thing. I bet most of not only her fellow Hawaiian's... but her non-Hawaiian supporters as well... aren't really either anti-science or anti experts.

Rather that there's a lingering sense among many (but not all) native Hawaiians that they have not been respected and in colonization were suppressed. And there's a lingering desire to strike back in some way.

This then becomes an exploitable characteristic. To say that its irrational is true but irrelevant. The venting needs an outlet. The trick is to accommodate that w/o letting intellectualism become the target.

Its analogous to Iran and our part in the installation of the Shah. It left an exploitable legacy which eventually came home to roost and is still in play. We never found a way... or apparently never felt a need to address the grievance.

In the long run of history its literally accidental that Europe was the first culture to embrace science (the willingness to "not know" and want to find out the truth via evidence and tests)...

I suspect that if any other culture had been first it would have followed a similar pattern.... successful exploitation based on technological edge and a sense of cultural superiority with all that leads to.

In many ways we're still paying for this.

Trump understood how this phenomenon of a need for a vent... though he was exploiting different grievances.

Addressing anti-intellectualism involves addressing the populism that drives it. Once again this is where the Democratic Party needs to focus.

This is what an FDR understood.

Please consider this:

Hillary's Loss Makes Perfect Sense After Hearing This Man Speak

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

didn't like John Ashcroft either. And when All The President's Men accosted him, in a post-surgical hospital bed, to coerce him into signing an illegal order, HE DEFENDED THE CONSTITUTION. And thus earned my respect and praise. I intend to bring up his example. Often.

As did James Comey. Which makes me wonder what happened?

@LarryHart: ah, but they only hate "Unreal America". Which is apparently defined as half the population, and for some, the Constitution as well.

Jim Wright (Stonekettle Station) put it better than I can, but they hate pretty much any specific about America while claiming to love her. And as to the Constitution, they apparently believe it contains only one sentence, which begins with: "A well-regulated militia being necessary..."

raito said...

Paul SB,

It's not even just the filthy rich whose attitudes change that way. Far too often, people are hypocritical as to the reasons for their success. I've known far too many (and worked for some) who believe in their own superiority when in reality, they were just lucky. Usually, lucky enough to know someone who handed them a pile of money because they could make some thing or other. But hundreds of other people could have done the same and made the same thing. They just didn't know the guy with the money. It also reminds me ob a business class I took a couple years ago (there was a piece of information I didn't seem to be able to find). It was supposed to encourage people to start their own business. At the beginning the instructor gave examples of successful startups. The only problem was that every one of her examples was an accident. Not one of there encouraging examples involved someone wanting to start a business.

Germane to the 'boss you can fire' discussion, nearly everyone in that class was there because they didn't like having a boss. I brought up that when you're in business, every customer is your boss. The teacher ran with that for a bit, then I countered with reasons why one might like to have dozens or hundreds of bosses (hint: it's easier to fire one).

Catfish N. Cod,

Merging ethics and elections? We should be so lucky in WI, where not only was the current board dissolved in favor of a partisan board, but the dissolved board was given the task of voter ID law education.

A shift in topic to the ACA...

I happened to read Steve Forbes article on it form last month. Not something I'd ordinarily read, but you read what you can while waiting for the doctor. Once I got past the 'socialism is immoral' stuff, I found I agreed with a fair number of his points. Relevant to this place, many of his points called for transparency. Transparency in pricing, for example. Nearly impossible these days to know how much a procedure costs, and completely impossible to compare between providers. I agree that it's not the patients that are the customers of health care, the insurance companies are (thus my being uncomfortable with the idea of attempting to regulate an industry by regulating the middlemen). I agree that I don't like either the idea or reasoning that says I >must< pay money to the third-party for anything.


Except that most don't seem to ever read the bit about either militia, nor well-regulated.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@donzelion: Any lord who knows the king may shift his lands to some other lord will focus on extracting as much from the peasants while building as little infrastructure as possible... Confronted with similar incentives, I doubt modern 'would-be' lords would act any differently.

They don't. You just described how corporations shift jobs from state to state and country to country.

The only -- only! -- reason this makes long-term sense is that by doing such things, if done with long-term incentives, creates new centers of wisdom and wealth. Madison County, Alabama, was once the "Watercress Capital of the World", a sleepy place that was thoroughly Deep South and backward as any in the region. Then the Army moved in; and then NASA; and the Air Force; and engineering firms... and now Huntsville is a wealthy, productive, science-oriented, and Blue place; ten percent of the state and a larger chunk of its economy. All by deliberate intervention and design; mostly the vision of Senator John C. Stennis (D-MS), a segregationist but also a Bourbon Democrat who really did want to help all of his (white) people.

That's the sort of "looting" I would have supported. But that takes long term investment and vision, which is precisely what I do not expect.

@LarryHart: I'd forgotten that Comey was the Deputy AG in that context. Which makes it all the more imperative that the FBI be investigated. His behavior is completely aberrant. Was the Director of the FBI subjected to blackmail, even if only office-politics blackmail? The behavior of the New York FBI office is even more suspect; and the FBI has been corrupted before. (Don't get me started on the Boston office, f'r instance.)

As for the Second Amendment, I was discussing with a friend that the Democrats should perhaps execute some jujitsu and start championing an individual right to firearms... and begin the push by championing responsible, well regulated, citizen-oriented African-American firearm rights. And then gays'. Muslims'. Legal immigrants'. You know, all the people who suddenly feel threatened in their persons... and for whom law enforcement doesn't seem well intentioned...

Not only does this make the needed gun control measures more palatable, it breaks the NRA siren song by exposing the basest hypocrisy of the current gun culture: that law enforcement should defer to middle class white gun ownership and shoot to kill when confronted with lower class black gun ownership. Either the Second Amendment applies to everyone or it is a cruel and oppressive joke; either everyone has equal rights of self-defense or no one does.

Deuxglass said...


What you say is interesting but without names, dates and places it means nothing and above all it is worthless. If real then provide us with the details and if you cannot then perhaps you should ask yourself why you believe it and why you expect us to believe it.

Dr. Brin,

I read through the four page report that the Washington Po furnished and I think you cannot establish equivalency. The report said that there was no evidence of misconduct and that there was “a keen attention to mission accomplishment in a coalition combat environment” and that there was “mitigating and extenuating circumstances” concerning the incidents. The report continued by confirming that the DOD fully supports his appointment to lieutenant general.

Apparently Flynn had to make some difficult decisions in order to get revelent information into the hands of combat soldiers without having the time to go through official time-consuming channels and the official DOD report, after an inquiry, supported and confirmed his action. He showed initiative in an extreme situation which is what we want military officers to do. This has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton’s email server in any way.

Stefan Jones said...

I found this article interesting and helpful:

A Cure for Post-Election Malaise: Civic participation offers a way out of the 2016 doldrums

"For anyone still in a post-election stupor, unsure what to do or how to repair our ailing democracy, here are three words of advice:

Start a club.

I don’t mean that sarcastically, as in, “Oh, you got a beef with Trump or the rest of them in Washington? Well, join the club!” I mean it literally. Make a group. Invite people. Create rules and rituals. Establish goals. Meet regularly. In short: Start a club.

This is the great democratic self-cure sitting right before our eyes. I was reminded of this immediately after the election, when so many people I knew were in states of shock or despondence. At Citizen University, the nonprofit I run, my colleagues and I decided that doing something was better than doing nothing. We accelerated plans for a project called Civic Saturday, which we’d been intending to launch in the new year but instead launched four days after Donald Trump was elected president."

This suggests a cure for something that has been bothering me the last few years: The sheer civic laziness of Americans. This, and the intellectual laziness that leads us to be swayed by fake news and cable news blather, is imperiling civil society and democracy. Being an involved citizen has to be more than voting every two years.

David Brin said...

Native Hawaiian hostility to astronomical telescopes is not universal. Many of them are capable of overcoming sanctimony-rage, actually looking at the theology and logic of the situation.

Assuming the Volcano Goddess - Pele - truly is a mighty and sacred being, then what is the most special thing she has done? What is the strongest evidence for her power and her works? Sure, the lava, but that is far from Mauna Kea, having nothing at all to do with that holy mountain. What is special about the mountain?

It offers the clearest view of the sky - of the universe - on this planet. That is how it's special. And if Pele is responsible for any miracle, that's the one we should be paying attention to. Instead of rejecting astronomy. any sensible and reverent Pele-follower should take a hint from her and embrace it!

Demand offerings and rituals? Fine. USE this fact to promote Hawaiian culture? Fine! But opposing astronomy isn't just self-righteously and self-indulgently illogical. It ignores the goddess's blatant intent, spurns her clear-sky gift, and slaps her face.

raito said...

Dr. Brin,

You may want to check those assumptions. Pele isn't associated particularly with Mauna Kea. And part of that myth explains exactly why the lava isn't near. Though there is one of those myth oddities that says she created the islands (many mythologies have some spirit/angle/demon/god creating land, then somehow not reigning over it).

And I doubt that goddesses of rain and snow would bee seen as contributing to clear views of the sky.

TheMadLibrarian said...

The people who were demanding the mountain be left alone are the ones who seem to have their hands out for bribes. It's the TEA party in microcosm; groups who stood to benefit by blackmailing the scientific community into paying extra for access to the mountaintop riled up the disenfranchised Hawaiian activists, then were unable (or disinclined) to calm them down once they had been paid off. "You sowed the wind, now you reap the whirlwind." Meanwhile, some of the most respected Hawaiian kupuna and rejuvenators of traditional Hawaiian skills support the telescope because it will give Hawaiian youth an educated alternative to service industry jobs and actually ties in with ancient Hawaiian skills and beliefs.

OTOH, I would like to know which of the protesters have been denied their religious practices at the summit and when. I'd be willing to wager none of them have recently gone there for any purpose other than blocking access.

Anonymous said...

I suspect that if Ryan offered a deal to the Democrats to both get rid of trump and throw in making President and VP to anyone the Dems choose, plus publicly decreeing the Dems are right on everything, the whole Republican party will retire, and place the Democrats in every seat of government, and offer free pizza, I think they'd still turn it down. I tend to think the Democrats are that determined to keep losing.

Tacitus said...

I know that I am only your Beat Reporter for Wisconsin recount news but some interesting things are coming out of the abortive Michigan recount. Wayne County, a very blue enclave, appears to have had multiple precincts where the optical scanners tallied more votes than the paper ballots could have generated. The suggestion is that somebody ran ballots through more than once.

Like all electoral irregularities it should be scrutinized closely.


LarryHart said...


I suspect that if Ryan offered a deal to the Democrats to both get rid of trump and throw in making President and VP to anyone the Dems choose, plus publicly decreeing the Dems are right on everything, the whole Republican party will retire, and place the Democrats in every seat of government, and offer free pizza, I think they'd still turn it down.

Heh. I get your point, but if Ryan somehow did make a deal like that, there would have to be a catch.

I tend to think the Democrats are that determined to keep losing

They're like the Cubs that way. Now that we know that, what do we know?

Tony Fisk said...

As you say, Tacitus, it's all worth reporting, although why someone would do this in a very blue enclave is puzzling. Camouflage?

Having a 59% machine failure in Detroit, another very blue enclave, is more understandable to students of paranoia.

LarryHart said...


Wayne County, a very blue enclave, appears to have had multiple precincts where the optical scanners tallied more votes than the paper ballots could have generated. The suggestion is that somebody ran ballots through more than once.

It's been a long time since I didn't do early voting, and in Illinois, early voting is only by video screen. But back when I used to vote by paper ballot, I'm pretty sure the last thing I did was to load the ballot into the optical scanner myself. And it would tell me if I under-voted or over-voted any of the races and gave me a chance to say (essentially) "Yes, this is my final answer" before registering my vote.

Does Michigan do it differently, such that poll workers run the ballots through the machine en masse at the end of the day? Sounds like a recipe for accidental (if not intentional) irregularities.

I really don't understand the mechanics of the Michigan law that says the precinct can't be recounted if the number of stored ballots is off from the number initially recorded. Isn't that exactly the sort of thing a recount would be attempting to remediate? I suppose the rationale is that if the stored ballots have been tampered with, you don't want to conduct a recount with tainted evidence. But the reason to ask for a recount in the first place is that the initial count itself might have been tampered with. To me, this law says "If you get away with tampering with the ballots, then your rigged total is final."

And sorry, but I do find it suspicious that a state which Trump won unexpectedly won't allow a recount, but is investigating an irregularity in the one Democratic enclave in the state.

But notwithstanding partisan coloration to our respective views here, aren't the counting processes monitored by representatives of both parties? I mean, if it's that easy for poll workers to cheat in the counting, how have we ever had real elections at all?

Stefan Jones said...

This is something I've been waiting for: A practical guide to dealing with the Trump administration. It is based on the bare-knuckle tactics employed by the Tea Part to oppose Obama's agenda:

Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda
Former congressional staffers reveal best practices for making Congress listen

"Donald Trump is the biggest popular vote loser in history to ever to call himself President-Elect. In spite of the fact that he has no mandate, he will attempt to use his congressional majority to reshape America in his own racist, authoritarian, and corrupt image. If progressives are going to stop this, we must stand indivisibly opposed to Trump and the members of Congress who would do his bidding. Together, we have the power to resist - and we have the power to win."

It is a LONG, detailed document, but you should at least check out the summary on page two:

LarryHart said...

Leaving politics aside for weather...

Tacitus2, raito, and whoever else might be in Wisconsin, the latest on the new winter storm (third in three weekends) looks like it's directly targeting your state. I'm going to get some of it in Chicago, but you guys will get the brunt.

This month is starting to remind me of the comic series "American Flagg!" and the "Blizzard of '32" storyline (the comic was set in a dystopian future). The blizzard in question--20 inches every other day for over a month--was caused by the accidental triggering of an old, dormant Soviet "weather satellite" which had been originally designed to influence American voting patterns.

If I were inclined to see patterns in everything...oh wait, I am.

Anonymous said...

@ Catfish N. Cod 10:13 AM
As for the Second Amendment, I was discussing with a friend that the Democrats should perhaps execute some jujitsu and start championing an individual right to firearms...

I'm starting to feel like a plugger for Stonekettle Station, but again I'm reminded forcefully of a blog he wrote. Bang-bang sanity, one of several he wrote about gun violence and control. Core argument is to use the NRA guidelines themselves to create responsible gun ownership in a way that the NRA as it is now, doesn't want, but can't object against.
IIRC the comment section has some lively debates too.

@LarryHart 1:16 PM:
They're like the Cubs that way. Now that we know that, what do we know?

Shortly after the Cubs won, we got Trump. So if the bad follows the good in a Democratic win, at the same scale, we can expect a dinosaur-ending-size asteroid smashing down, probably on Washington DC.


LarryHart said...


First of all, assuming you see the same interface that I do when you post, you can click the "Name/URL" option and enter whatever name you want in the field provided instead of clicking on "Anonymous". That way, your post will begin with "Twominds says..." .

Shortly after the Cubs won, we got Trump.

Every time the Cubs won the World Series in an election year since 1900, a Republican won the subsequent presidential election. Every time! All two of them.

LarryHart said...


So if the bad follows the good in a Democratic win, at the same scale, we can expect a dinosaur-ending-size asteroid smashing down, probably on Washington DC.

Well, the Rapture would be better all around, but an asteroid might be a good fallback option.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

Either the Second Amendment applies to everyone or it is a cruel and oppressive joke; either everyone has equal rights of self-defense or no one does.

"Stand your ground" laws, allow individuals to use deadly force when they feel threatened, even if the reason they feel threatened is that they threatened the other guy and he might fight back. Essentially, such laws mean that once a situation escalates, whoever kills the other guy first wins. In what universe can a right to self-defense co-exist with a law that says your attacker is free to kill you because he's afraid you're going to defend yourself against him?

In practice, have such laws ever been invoked to exonerate a black man who felt threatened by a white man? Ever?

Robert said...

Larry, you might want to look at the comic-book version of the Revelation to John that David links to periodically, before you decide the Rapture's better than the Asteroid. It makes me think of the last Indian chief left in Cuba, who was burned at the stake by the Spanish. They offer to strangle him quickly if he converts. He asks if there are any Spanish in Heaven. There are. So, "In that case, I'd rather go to Hell."

And thanks, everyone, for pointing me to Stonekettle Station. It's just about perfect. This article, especially, reminded me of Contrary Brin at every turn:

My own guess is that the Trump impeachment will originate with a group of equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats, at least one of each on the Judiciary Committee. Speculating further, it'll probably include at least one serious breach of the Emoluments Clause.

Bob Pfeiffer
Pendleton, Oregon.
Ruddock '76

Tom Crowl said...

RE Hawaii and telescopes... etc.

Here's what I'm trying to look at:

Take a planet... developing early intelligent life... many different early cultures... animist, monotheistic, matriarchies, authoritarian... whatever....

But then one of the manages to edge out the others... and its culture becomes dominant... but its very messy along the way... with a lot of injustices... intended and otherwise...

Around the world... its style of dress dominates... its media dominates... its money and finance dominates... everywhere.

This leave a legacy that leaves some sense of grievance (we can argue about how there's some illogic to this... and how even the poorest around the world may be better off... and that the poorest here have cell phones and flat screen tv's) which can and has been exploited for both legitimate and illegitimate purposes...

By interests of all sides and with interests both local and global...(are the Persians still hoping to make up for ancient defeats, newer ones or both?)

As a GENERAL proposition... how should a dominant culture address this inevitable clash when moving toward a hopefully viable global civilization with at least some coherent and shared social/cultural mythology? (e.g. Adam Smith, Enlightenment ideals).

What level of wealth gap is culturally tolerable? What sort of ideological gap?

I don't think "Star Trek Culture" is going to happen inevitably at all.

Anonymous said...

@ LarryHart 2:31 and 2:34 PM
I do see the same interface. It's not clear to me how to use the name/URL option, do I need a web address for that? I don't mind doing it this way, but I have the feeling that it's irritating some people here a bit, assuming that more people think what you say. AtomicZeppelinMan does it the same way, but I've become a bit more of a regular here than he.

I thought the Rapture would take all devout christians to heaven, leaving us here to life out our live. Can I subscribe to that please?
I was thinking, when I wrote about the asteroid, humanity might survive that. If the impact will blow only so much dust in the atmosphere as will fall out again in one year, some farmers might be able to keep alive enough of their animals and plants (and save the seed in the lost year) to survive the next years. So even with widespread famine, and the fighting caused by it, humanity could handle that at least in the short term, decades. The longer term would be very dependent on how bad ecological systems would have been hit. A speculative thought of mine was that you might see a changed and simpler ecology with new species derived from domesticated ones (and our followers like crows and rats) that filled empty niches.
I don't think civilisation would weather that, it would be a hard reset.


Anonymous said...

@Robert 3:02 PM
If you're going to spend time on Stonekettle, check out this one too: Everybody’s So Different, I Haven’t Changed about how the political landscape changed so much around the author that he went from conservative to liberal without change in himself.
And see his Popular Essays, they concentrate his ideas in, well, not a nutshell. His site is a rabbit hole to dive in. It's that I'm between jobs now, otherwise I couldn't have spent so much time there.


LarryHart said...


No, you don't need a URL. If you click that option, you can just type "Twominds" in the name field and leave the URL field blank. That's what I do.

I thought the Rapture would take all devout christians to heaven, leaving us here to life out our live. Can I subscribe to that please?

I've been singing that song for a long time. Imagine waking up one morning to a Democratic majority in both houses of congress and a 4-0 majority on the Supreme Court. And I'm not wishing those Christianist Republicans ill. They get what they want, and we get what we want. A win-win.

Twominds said...

@LarryHart 3:28 PM
I'd lose one friend, and I'd miss him, but I'd be happy for him that he'd have a place in heaven. Which I wouldn't get to, because I don't believe in it.
And that leads to another idle speculation: what if everyone would get the afterlife they believed in? A nasty thought! I very much don't want islamistic suicide terrorists to reach the paradise they think they'll get to. I have less 'nearby' experience with fundamentalist christians who do similar horrible things, so I don't have a ready example of that, but I guess you can fill that in.

LarryHart said...


Larry, you might want to look at the comic-book version of the Revelation to John that David links to periodically, before you decide the Rapture's better than the Asteroid.

The Rapture would be better than the asteroid at ridding us of right-wing politicians.

I didn't say I wanted to live out the rest of the story as forecast.

LarryHart said...


And that leads to another idle speculation: what if everyone would get the afterlife they believed in?

My idle speculation goes toward the notion that everyone has the same afterlife in which you know yourself without illusions. Those who have made themselves into someone they can't stand to be for eternity feel it to be Hell.

Lady Lithia said...

As a public high school math teacher, should I be making plans to look for a new job? Not that the curriculum I'm now teaching is remotely worthwhile (CPM).

LarryHart said...

Lady Lithia:

should I be making plans to look for a new job?

In complete seriousness, I'm not sure there is much point making any long-term plans at the moment. I wouldn't even advise starting to read any continued stories.

Alfred Differ said...

Nonsense. There are lots of good books to read. 8)

Two high school math teachers moved me to become the person I am today. They never knew, though. One high school computer teacher did because I could find him periodically.

Don't worry about the curriculum details too much. Some of us self-motivate and do things our teachers never hear about later.

Tim H. said...

LarryHart, The rapture happened years ago, all 27 of them are very happy and the congregations they used to attend are relieved those troublesome folk disappeared. ;) .

David Brin said...

Here is Patrick Farley's delightfully/scary, Pokemon style primer on the Book of Revelation.

"I don't want islamistic suicide terrorists to reach the paradise they think they'll get to."

Patrick had another online comic satirizing the 72 virgins thing. Very biting. It can no longer be found, for obvious reasons.

Anonymous said...

@ Deuxglass
Heh, I know it's worthless from any real point of view. Even if I gave more details, it would still be only the word of an anonymous internet commenter. Make of it what you want... I only wanted to share what I could without any pretense.

I don't need to ask myself why I believe what I believe, because I believe nothing, at best I have hints of a suspect.
I know dates and names and even with them it could be simply coincidences (they *are* doing deals and so on, they consider corruption like a fish consider water, but they may be doing other unrelated deals... for sure they like to brag and exaggerate when they are drunk, and even then they never go into details).

Simply, I observed some things that combined with my character judgment on these people led to some unsubstantiated suspect that I wanted to vent.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Patrick had another online comic satirizing the 72 virgins thing.

Does it have anything to do with the virgins remaining virgins throughout eternity?

Jumper said...

I believe the "72 virgins" thing is poorly understood, and not just by Westerners now. I think it should be interpreted as many do the proscription on wine. The book says in heaven you can drink wine. That means imperfect Earth throws up entanglements and pitfalls involving something that looks enticing. In other words, just leave it alone here on Earth; leave it for heaven.
The more philosophical wings likely interpret these otherwise pointless verses in the same humane sense.

Paul SB said...

Quick note for our Anonymous guest:

I doubt Donzelion was trying to be offensive. He has been a lawyer for a long time, and the career you do on a daily basis shapes the way you think. My mother was a legal secretary for most of her adult life, so when I was a larva I encountered a lot of lawyers. They tended to have little patience with unsubstantiated claims, which shouldn't be a surprise, given what they do at work every day.

Venting is perfectly acceptable and quite mentally healthy (though not in extremis).

Also, this forum doesn't get nearly the troll traffic that a lot of blogs do, which is probably why a lot of people come here. But we do see a few, and people can lose patience with those who post as "Anonymous." In future, please post under a name. It doesn't have to be a real name, a pseudonym is fine, as long as it's consistent so participants can begin to acquaint themselves with you and your ways of thinking.

Slim Moldie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
matthew said...

Slate on the shenanigans of the North Carolina legislature, which gave the executive branch many powers relating to elections when there was a Republican Governor and now are erasing the same powers faced with a Democratic one. Notable also for saying the Republicans are acting like "Confederates."

Slim Moldie said...

RE Anonymity and Media Transparency

Insightful bit today on NPR's Morning Edition: "Why The Media Use Anonymous Sources"

LarryHart said...

Whoever suggested the graphic novel "Saga", thanks.

I picked up the first volume from my library a few days ago, and after a few chapters, I went back for volumes 2 thru 5.

Deuxglass said...


Even if you are anonymous on a blog if you have dates, places and names of the parties involved, a researcher worth his salt could cross-check the data to confirm what you say and could eventually lead to the parties having to explain themselves in public or before a jury. When you think of it, many important investigations of wrong-doings started because someone had these facts and decided to tell them. If I read correctly your source told you these things when he was drunk. If you know him well enough to judge him as a serious person and that he effectively would be in a position to know, then his info just might be good. I myself have learned a surprisingly sum of information from people who when a bit drunk spill the beans because it was bothering him or perhaps just to boast how important he is. You never know until you check it.

I am not a lawyer but we do have a very good lawyer here in donzelion. You should ask him.

Slim Moldie said...

One thing legitimate journalists might do to distinguish themselves from the language-destroying poseurs would be to hyperlink terms of contention like "anonymous sources" and cite their process and credentials. For visual media you could run a QR code on the screen linking to the same footnotes which might prompt a few to stop and think.

Unknown said...

My favorite take on the "72 virgins" thing came from a limited-run comic series called Wormwood (basically, the son of Satan has been sent to Earth to kickstart the Apocalyse, but decides he doesn't want to; he teams up with the Second Coming of Christ on a road trip through Heaven and Hell to talk God and Satan out of the whole thing). As the cosmic buddies are leaving Heaven, they run across a remote area with a large house; inside, they find one of the Islamic bombers. He's in Heaven because he thought he was doing the right thing; he's on the outskirts because he was wrong. And he has his reward - 72 baby girls, all under one year old, and all of whom will remain the same age for all of eternity. He has to take care of them. (And yes, they do require feedings, and diaper changes...)

Deuxglass said...

Jonathan Sills;

so God has a sense of humor. I am afraid to think what He has in store for me.

LarryHart said...


so God has a sense of humor. I am afraid to think what He has in store for me.

We might be living it out for the next four or eight years.

donzelion said...

Paul SB: Some anonymous person disliked my comments? Missed that. Curious why.

Sometimes, it's interesting to critique a lightweight public figure in a semi-public forum like this. They occasionally put 'PR/brand managers' on retainer, and those PR hacks feel compelled to publish attacks on any voices they dislike in order to prove to whoever hired them that they're getting their money's worth. (Years ago, Michelle Malkin's band of idiots routinely hounded me on multiple forums when I used my real name; I moved on and so did they).

Deuxglass: Thank you for the sentiment. I suppose I'm no longer a "very good lawyer," just trying to be a good man who knows law - and a few other things.

donzelion said...

Oh, Paul SB, was that the poster discussing Russian contacts discussing Trump at a bar? I hadn't realized that I'd criticized him or his points. I take gossip for what it's worth.

"They tended to have little patience with unsubstantiated claims, which shouldn't be a surprise, given what they do at work every day."

I am not bothered by that anonymous poster's comments in the slightest. If there's ever anything concrete upon which action could be taken, I have some thoughts about how.

Bullshit frustrates me though - e.g., in the previous comment chain, Anonymous @ 8:47 AM tried to pass off a Youtube video from "The Christian Truther" - claiming his video (viewed by 128k people) linked the Clinton Foundation to a Norwegian pedophile ring. That particular anonymous poster was probably a new 'bot, targeting Blogger feeds that consistently generated 100+ comments - more interested in whether his 'bot posted its garbage on 10,000 different blogs before Blogger blocked it. The 400-lb hackers Trump mocked need something to do now that their candidate won.

Ladeewolf said...

I love the odds you gave, you pretty much nailed it, adding in a few variables of my own.
I would love nothing more than for the Electoral College to make a wise decision, but you know, it's politics and most politicians don't have a lot of sense. I keep hoping, but I'll do that until it's over.
I do think that Trump will be impeached within six months to a year, he is not, the one the Republicans wanted, they wanted Pence. They ran Pence in the primaries hoping he would get elected and he couldn't. Now, if they impeach Trump, in say six months, they've got what they wanted. That is if Putin allows it.
I was telling some people the other day that Putin was choosing the members of Trumps cabinet, (They laughed at me!)the first pick was Trump's and the one who got the actual appointment was Putin's. Got to have a smokescreen you know.
What shocks me most is the willingness of so many Americans to embrace possible and likely interference by Russia in our election, like it was a good thing as long as they won. What is the matter with them?
I also have my doubts about Ryan's agenda actually making it through the congress, even with so much of a majority. His constituents aren't going to like it when they get sick and have to pay, or have to pay outrageous prices for insurance or healthcare. They aren't going to like it when their food stamps and aid is cut either. There are just too many perks they gained during the Obama administration and they won't want to give them up. Ryan may have a little bit of trouble with his own. I'm sure in that event they will just blame the Democrats for what has happened.
I would also like to advise those conservatives that most liberals are armed, we just don't talk about it. We don't talk about what weapons we own, we don't get into loving conversations about how many rounds per minute we can fire, that sort of thing is kind of silly. Just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents.
I've been a fan your writing for years, Mr. Brin. My favorite has always been the Practice affect and the second is Sundiver. I re-read them about once a year.

donzelion said...

re Trump impeachment: Catfish gets it right in terms of process, but folks looking for impeachment are playing straight into Trump & Friend's actual gambit. It's all about the money, often, the big money.

As in the fed, so in the states. The game goes like this:

North Carolina Republicans (in the gambit Matthew called attention to) want to control government appointments. They'll target about 1000 positions which the governor used to be able to appoint, and reclassify them to require legislative consent. A fight ensues. They'll cave on a few appointments, but hold onto the ones linked to the big money (like the UNC trustees).

The UNC trustees can't publicly rob the students: they'll be caught. However, they can announce 'non-controversial' plans (e.g., 'needs-based' expansion, or 'merit-based' payment) and appoint 'non-controversial' financial managers to implement portions of those plans through 'local investment' in the grant-writing/awarding processes. Ultimately, the bulk of the money winds up in the hands of 'private developers' and landlord rentiers who have super-seniority (their loans get paid BEFORE university operations budgets get fixed) - and thus, universities find persistent 'shortfalls' compelling them to raise rates on the 225,000+ students in the system (they don't vote anyway, so who cares?). Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. The cycle might end after tuition crosses some threshold, but so far, there's no limit to how far it can go.

This is how the 'looting' Catfish and I were discussing earlier works. Trump helps by routing funds away from enforcing complex and arcane laws to mitigate this sort of scam (which is widespread), either by curbing 'government waste' or focusing on prosecuting nonsense (e.g., chasing undocumented workers who try to enroll in these schools).

LarryHart said...


but folks looking for impeachment are playing straight into Trump & Friend's actual gambit. It's all about the money, often, the big money.

Maybe I'm dense, but I don't see how the rest of what you said about looting has anything to do with impeachment.

Alfred Differ said...

If anyone is going to pop my optimism bubble, it is donzelion. 8/

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Tom Crowl: Look, Roddenberry didn't have it happen naturally either. The Star Trek timeline (starting in the 1960's) has two horrible wars, the Eugenics Wars and a nuclear World War III, before some drunk genius fool in Montana launches his pie-in-the-sky FTL ship and brings back benevolent aliens, who go "Good Surak, we can't let a species with FTL be this unstable" and bring a post-scarcity economy to the planet, which suddenly makes all human-on-human conflict vanish.

In other words, a deus ex machina. Doubly so in a later version of the timeline, as that first flight has to be assisted by future time-travelers trying to ensure their own existence.

I love the Star Trek timeline but I don't see us reaching the future depicted without a lot more trouble. A sustainable post-scarcity economy is only the start of undoing this planet's problems; hand many cultures a nanotech cornucopia machine, and they'd use it to build a weapons program (up to and including nuclear) to wipe out Those People Over There before They Do It To Us First.

That would leave the meek to inherit the Earth, but the Earth would be pretty torn up in the process.

@matthew: Time to call this what it is: Second Jim Crow.

@Johnathan Sills: I really like that, may reuse it.

@Linda: not only are many liberals armed, but thanks to the crisis, they may now organize.

@donzelion, @LarryHart: I believe donzelion is implying that Trump can bribe Republican-controlled states into accepting him even if the need for impeachment becomes obvious, by means of graft. These states' party apparatus then twist their Congresscritters' arms into opposing impeachment in order to make sure the gravy train does not derail.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: You're not dense; I just cut out a portion where I tried to explain the link.

What I'm describing isn't 'corruption' per se, it's business as normal. However, at the edges, there's often someone cutting corners, so aggressive prosecution of the financiers is needed. Yet in the face of impeachment efforts, that sort of aggressive prosecution will be extremely rare, because'

(a) Law enforcement tends not to act in a white collar matter unless (1) someone gift wraps an 'easy' prosecution, and (2) a strong executive backs the prosecution. Murderers & drug thugs are 'easy' targets - but someone with strong political connections will stymie a prosecutor unless a strong executive backs the effort. (This is another reason Reagan's DoJ got so many convictions against white collar fraudsters in the '80s, but the Bushes, Clinton, and Obama did not.)

(b) Legal reforms that alter the budgeting process to actually limit this sort of insiderism are painfully complex and never urgent. If the executive is under attack, the lack of urgency always means inaction - or unenforced efforts on even those important enforcement actions that are available.

Think in terms of Enron/Sarbanes-Oxley. Than underlying problem is that a few thousand people benefited from Enron stealing $50-80 billion from Californians. However, by prosecuting a handful of 'rogue' execs, and tweaking some accounting rules, much broader abuses were tolerated. Sarbanes/Oxley might still have helped rein in some of those abuses, but after 2006, Bush Jr's capacity to enforce those actions dwindled immensely. By the time Obama took office in 2009, statutes of limitations had run on many of the initial low-tier offenses (which mostly took place in 2005-2007) that might otherwise have been used to obtain/compel testimony by the small fish so that the big fish could be held responsible for the financial crisis.

Had every voice in the 'impeach Bush/Cheney' effort (one that I actually endorsed at the time) actually focused on enforcing existing law, there's a good chance we'd have caught many of the people who raided our national treasure.

donzelion said...

Alfred: If anyone is going to pop my optimism bubble, it is donzelion. 8/

Actually, my intent was to prick one of the pessimism-bubbles (drawing attention back to the price of launching an impeachment crusade); if I hit elsewhere, it was wholly unintended.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Guys
I read an interesting book today
With Liberty and Dividends for All: How to Save Our Middle Class When Jobs Don't Pay Enough
By Peter Barnes

It was $11.53 for the Kindle version - that nearly prevented me from buying it but I wrestled my inner Scotsman into submission

Very interesting read

donzelion said...

Catfish: I just tried to explain what I meant in my response to LarryHart just now. Trump doesn't need to do anything except discourage the law enforcement systems that we have from chasing after the people orchestrating these sorts of scams (or use them to politically target folks he doesn't care for). He doesn't need to bribe anyone - just discourage them from exercising the courage and discipline needed to achieve results.

If I was worried about actual graft by Trump, then an impeachment effort might help.

But I'm worried about business-as-usual graft by tens of thousands of legislators/staffers and hundreds of thousands of insiders - the stuff that might be ameliorated by a President. In this case, the President-Elect profited from these schemes for decades, so I'm not optimistic the rules would be aggressively enforced. More importantly, even if he tried to enforce these laws aggressively, his own party would defect - perhaps even supporting Dems in an impeachment crusade. The louder the impeachment drums, the less likely he would be to offend 'his own' party by enforcing these laws.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion: It is the scam scenarios you describe so well and so often. They leave me wondering why I didn't follow some of my recent ancestors into a life of crime. 8)

(I know why, of course, but most of them proved the point that crime can pay if you are smart enough.)

LarryHart said...


If I was worried about actual graft by Trump, then an impeachment effort might help.

I'm actually more worried about Trump's destructive bull-in-china-shop potential damage to our country's institutions. It's become bad enough that I would consider normal Republican economic corruption and social intolerance as a tolerable alternative after impeachment.

Actually, my intent was to prick one of the pessimism-bubbles (drawing attention back to the price of launching an impeachment crusade)

Thanks for trying to explain, but I'm still confused. Are you saying impeachment would be a good idea or a bad idea? Or maybe a separate question: In what manner are you disputing a pessimistic outlook?

LarryHart said...

@Alfred Differ and other Californians,

If "Cascadia" does break off on its own, how open would it be to refugees from a midwestern blue state?

Acacia H. said...

Tacitus, you have been defending the Republican Party for a while.

I am curious as to your views as to North Carolina and the secret sessions the current Republican administration there is having to eliminate all executive power possible to ensure the incoming Democratic governor is completely ineffective.

Rob H.

Alfred Differ said...

The more the merrier as far as I'm concerned.

Don't wait for Cascadia, though. Get your foot in the door with any kind of job and then seek better employment as you can.

Alfred Differ said...

Pink diamond radio receivers

I think I shall have a little fun with my co-workers and post this article too see if they begin to wonder if jewelry will have to be left outside the sipr enclaves. 8)

My locker is getting overstuffed with all the blue-tooth enabled toys I have. I'd love to have my hearing aide so enabled, but I kinda need it. 8)

rewinn said...

Just wanna say that impeaching for graft depends on a majority of the House not being in on the grift ( 2/3rds of the Senate.)

As long as the Trumpkins keep House Republicans afraid of being primaried, they doesn't actually have to pay any of them off, but one assumes they'll get a few treats tossed their way.

Tacitus said...


It appears to be legal. But sleezy. When a party does things like that it usually regrets it in a few election cycles when the tables are turned. Other examples could be quoted.


Tony Fisk said...

Why Trump? Why Putin? Why now? Alex Steffen has an interesting article that links it together. In a nutshell, preserving the carbon bubble for as long... as... possible.

David Brin said...

Robert, the only way that Tacitus does not, with great agility, normalize the intolerable is if you get him to specify that something would be intolerable, in advance. Example. If we had asked him: "Tacitus, would it finally be over the line if it were shown that Russia meddled effectively on behalf of the winner-on-technicalities, opposed by THREE MILLION more Americans, a winner who thereupon appoints best friends of Russia to every security post?" He would have declared that intolerable but dismissed it as hypothetical...

.. but when it came true, he is an honest man and he would keep his word, and find it intolerable.

Problem is that even I cannot pose as explicitly detailed hypotheticals accurate predictions of the future. Had I described the behavior of the N Carolina Republican Party IN ADVANCE, he'd now be as incensed as the rest of us. But, as a conservative (albeit one of the few remaining decent ones), he is able to normalize what the mighty do, with spectacular speed.

This behavior is criminal, treasonous cheating and stunning bad sportsmanship and a slap at the majority who elected a new governor, despite every cheating obstacle. But our objections are post-hoc. And hence, he will shrug.

This is why we cannot expect ANY conservatives to stand up. I thought we would get millions. Among the very few to show the slightest spine?

Glenn ... freaking... Beck

David Brin said...

"When a party does things like that it usually regrets it in a few election cycles when the tables are turned. Other examples could be quoted."

See what I mean? The DP never, ever does this and the GOP ALWAYS does it. And they have rigged things so they cannot be ejected from power. Yet Tacitus actually managed to type that sentence.

This is why I am realizing, at last, that there will be no rising of decent conservatives. Nothing is beyond their ability to normalize and rationalize: "well, that's regrettable, but politics is filthy and all sides do bad things."

My illusions are vanishing and I am better understanding history, now.

LarryHart said...

@Dr Brin,

In all fairness, I believe the Massachusetts legislature took the power to appoint in interim Senator away from Governor Romney, and then regretted it later when Scott Brown replaced Ted Kennedy. So it does happen.

That said, the rigging things so that they cannot be ejected from power does seem to be a Republican thing, as that it the tactic of the privileged and powerful who think that privilege and power justly belongs to them, and that rules are there to validate and enforce their status. Of course, when the non-ejectable ruling class becomes intolerable, we get the French Revolution.

My illusions are vanishing and I am better understanding history, now.

I hope that doesn't mean you're about to start writing literature that flatters the oilogarchs and white supremacists. I say "I hope not" for the sake of the rest of us, because if it came down to that, you'd probably make a good living for yourself.

Tony Fisk said...

@Larry, not sure if that's what he means, but David has mentioned Machiavelli's predicament before.

It's a good moment to point to Sarah Kendzior's advice on warding against 'normalization'. Basically, the process is swifter and more insiduous than you probably realise. Make a list of the things you would not accept/approve of in yourself, or in others. Do it now. Hold yourself to it.

Here's a start:
- villification of minorities
- registry of muslims
- use of deadly force to break up protests like Standing Rock
- suppression of reason based arguments
- no more press conferences
- compulsory investment of taxes/superannuation funds in selected infrastructure projects

A bit melodramatic? Well, yes, that's the point. These are actually low hanging fruit: outrageous authoritarian displays that are clearly out of line.

So how about these:
- greater policing powers to stem the increasing crime rates
- adjusting standards to accommodate inexperience
- selective staff lay-offs
- institutional silence
- presenting a balanced set of views

The point here is that it's hard to recognise activities which have become normalised. My examples are off the top of my head, and so a bit vague. Feel free to add items of your own.

David Brin said...