Thursday, June 08, 2017

Discerning the Real vs the Unreal

Before weighing back into the political morass, let me link to this article on why we seem to be eating – instead of investing in – our innovation seed corn.  Combine with failure of management with foreign theft of intellectual property from the Inventing Nations… plus the War on Science (and every other fact-using clade in American life), and you get an assault upon the wellspring of all our successes as a nation and as a civilization.

Take the 58% cut of the Fossil Energy Office which is not a den of evil, folks. FEO research enabled scores of small players to do the slant drilling that had been limited to Big Boys, like Exxon. The resulting plummet in natural gas price is what made coal virtually extinct in the U.S. and brought us (under Obama) so close to energy independence we could (and did) shrug off threats from petro sheiks and Russian oil mafiosi. Til they bought themselves a White House.

How bad can it get, when the new Trump Budget – in order to fund yet another insane Supply Side tax gift to oligarchs – is slashing research at every level, from cancer and biomedicine to canceling California’s $10 million earthquake warning system. And if that sounds like a petty child taking revenge on a state that did not vote for him, sift through the budget and find scads of other examples. For example, arm-twisting Boeing and Lockheed to move production from Washington and California to (in order to to prop up) failing Kansas, or else lose out on Saudi contracts.

Let’s be clear, this is not “politics.” Under Democratic administrations, gushers of net tax money have always flowed from blue states to red states. Because we are one nation and our brethren have needed help. Oh, but you know brothers. Some are smart and generous. Others….

Only note the latest news. Over-riding a veto by their insane Gov. Sam Brownback, the chastened Kansas legislature has rescinded most of the Supply Side tax cuts for the rich that Brownback pushed for almost a decade. Like every single other Supply Side experiment, it delivered only deficits and pain and red-ink and bankruptcy and pain for everyone except those oligarchs. But prepping for another round at the federal level is the number two reason for Trump's slashing attack on R&D and other federal investments in our future. The number one, of course, is just hate.

== Impeachment redux - and the Great Despotic Axis! ==

There was a lot of commentary and feedback from my earlier posting: Don't Impeach! Plus why is Trump really in Saudi Arabia?

Regarding the first of those two topics, a Constitutional scholar weighs in with perspectives on why, if possible, we should approach any talk of impeachment with cautious and grownup deliberation.  (And please re-read that posting of mine! Every reason I gave just doubles, every week. Leave Trump right where he is. Seriously.)

Regarding the second topic from that post, some of you offered hope that Rouhani's landslide re-election in Iran might put the kibosh on Saudi-centered drums, beating a call fro the U.S. to attack the Persian Republic. The hate-Iran screeches are growing frantic! Some are railing that Iran will attack and conquer the entire Sunni world any minute now... despite being vastly outnumbered, out-gunned and their nearest Sunni neighbor having stacks and stacks of nuclear weapons!

Oh, but then the connivers can always try a Tonkin Gulf or Gleiwitz Incident, alongside their terrorist Reichstag Fire. And they might get complicit help from the Iranian mullahs, who can see their grip on power gradually slipping away. A nice little war would suit them, too, reinforcing their grip. And Putin would love seeing stupid U.S. attacks drive Iran into his orbit. Winners all around - that is among despots.

Along similar lines, note the cozying of Trump with Ankara... and here’s a basic IQ test. Why is Philippines President Duterte jumping like a lapdog for Vladimir Putin in Moscow? Putin's anti-western axis now stretches from Ankara and (he hopes soon) the mullahs of Iran, all the way past partial ally Beijing to Manilla and... yes... Washington D.C. And if none of you can put the pieces together, I hope and pray our Intel Community has.


== Can we set up a fact-checking service immune to "partisan" charges? ==

The portion of that blog getting the most attention was a small suggestion I made, toward the end, that strong bipartisan efforts be made to develop something the nation and civilization desperately needs – a fact-checking service that is above all conceivable dogma-based reproach. 

Our counter-intelligence professionals are deeply worried about new kinds of attacks upon America by foreign powers that are vastly more sophisticated than the ones that meddled in our 2016 elections. They are struggling to  understand the battlescape of this new information war. “As Americans tweet and like and upvote their way through social media, they generate a vast trove of data on what they think and how they respond to ideas and arguments--literally thousands of expressions of belief every second on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and Google. All of those digitized convictions are collected and stored, and much of that data is available commercially to anyone with sufficient computing power to take advantage of it," writes Massimo Calabresi in Time.

This  excellent journalistic exposé takes you through the scary path that this underground campaign of social sabotage has taken — following patterns that Fred Pohl eerily predicted in The Cool War — revealing how our own technologies have been turned against us, and why we are so vulnerable.

What the story leaves out is the central, core fact that ties it all together. For you see, most of these failure modes rely on subjectivity — the ability to sway people with appeals to emotion, group loyalty, crowd momentum and rumor mongering. 

All of these approaches fail when people are calmly willing to weigh facts. So the agenda relies utterly upon demolishing two things… both calm and facts.

In my recent blog posting, I propose four reforms that could be enacted if just thirty mature-adult Republicans joined with Democrats in Congress. But the most important would be to appoint a commission to find some way that all Americans could verify clear facts or refute blatant falsehoods. Clearly, if facts do not start gaining advantage over lies and rumors, we are doomed.

 == Is a truly trustworthy fact checking service even possible? --

Here is how I answered one noted journalist.

I suppose my main point has to do with the much-better alternative to impeachment that might solve so many more things. That would be the Great Adult Republican Defection (GARD), that so many of us have been hoping for, across the last 25 years. Sure, it never happened, despite the ever-deepening spiral into madness on the American right, for a number of reasons.

1. Brain scans show that conservatives have much stronger reflexes for both disgust and loyalty. Hence, millions of them, who wince and admit "Yes, my side has gone crazy" will also grimace at anecdotes about screaming Berkeley protesters, and growl: "But liberals are worse." That is the essential Fox line, nowadays. At the high end, it is the mantra smoothly conveyed by the Worst American -- George F. Will.

2. Republican politicians have been terrorized into tight discipline, first by the Hastert Rule, then by the Tea Party and Fox, and now by the ferocity of Trump supporters.

3. Some, like John McCain and Susan Collins and David Brooks, may now just be waiting for the right time and for the right excuse-narrative.

It's vital that we offer the remnant community of adult conservatives a way to step up that both saves face and will not seem - at surface - to be a betrayal.  I think they might be persuaded to view the deliberate Demolition of Facts - and the accompanying war upon all fact-using professions - as an existential threat to the republic, one that is orthogonal to the left-right spectrum.  Moreover we now know that foreign foes have weaponized lie-based propaganda, making this a matter of national security. See: Inside Russia's Social Media War on America.

At present, both Facebook and Google are struggling to come up with systems to identify rumors and refutable lies, but it's not easy.  

Long ago I saw this coming and proposed a method that would truly solve this, over the long run. But we need something quicker.  (My concept was lead article in the American Bar Association's Journal on Dispute Resolution (Ohio State University), v.15, N.3, pp 597-618, Aug. 2000, "Disputation Arenas: Harnessing Conflict and Competition."  Available on Amazon.  

No, what we need right now is a means to grade fact-checking services and protect them from the standard-reflex dismissal that they are "partisan." This can happen in a number of ways, but they all boil down to seeing the top, venerable sages of grownup conservatism step up to bolster the effort with their reputations.  In addition to McCain, Collins, Brooks, Rubin and so on... envision Sandra Day O'Conner, Warren Buffett and -- yes -- George W. Bush... all backing a temporary bipartisan commission (non-governmental) to come up with trustworthy ways people can refute what's false.

Why would these Republicans do this, joining with eminent Democrats and others? Well, for one thing, it would combat the madness without explicitly betraying their party. They could even say it's for the long term good of American conservatism. (It is.) 

Of course, one can foresee screams of outrage from the Murdochians, calling this an attempt to form a "Ministry of Truth." Hence a counter-narrative must be ready -- e.g. that the commission aims to help design a framework for competitive fact-checking, distributed among rivals and with citizen level involvement. But the framework must have at-top a supervising layer of the most reputable Americans - especially adult conservatives - who can say "these fact-checkers are mostly non-partisan. We vouch for them."

In essence, this restores the old rebuttal rules that Fox fought against, decades ago. Indeed, if I had my way, the GARD would include restoration of those fairness doctrines. But the key point here is that this issue would give the long-awaited (and till-now cowardly) Adult Conservatives a platform to act in ways that are ostensibly not a betrayal of party. An act that could do more for the republic than any other.

My other proposals from that blog posting -- e.g. giving the joint chiefs authority, if unanimous, to passively delay rash presidential orders, or opening the president's appointments calendar, or for moderate senators to vet his appointees together -- all are emergency measures that might ease the panic and pressure, if impeachment talk starts to boil. Those three would demand more guts from McCain & co... more desperation.

But the fact-checking suggestion is different. It is urgently needed, whatever the state of the "I-word." And it could happen in ways that save some face.

60 comments:

Treebeard said...

The technocratic meddler's solution to every problem: more technocratic meddling. Kinda like Mayan priests calling for more and more extravagant human sacrifices to stop the crop failures, I suppose.

LOL @ John McCain. Things must be getting pretty desperate if a guy that deranged and senile is your idea of an savior.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Treebeard, how would you propose countering people who not only believe in "UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full trance mediums, the Loch Ness monster and the theory of Atlantis", but are willing to actively screech that anyone who doesn't believe as they do is Un'Murican?

Zepp Jamieson said...

I note that Canada and the UK, while they can generate a fair share of lunacy and ignorance, are nowhere near as bad as the United States is now. I attribute this to the existence of a national-wide not-for-profit news corporation that has a charter calling for open and unbiased coverage. CBC and BBC have their flaws, and sometimes fall short of their mission, but are the reason citizens of both countries and saner and more knowledgeable than many Americans. If you ignore the howls of fury from the gun nuts and watch "Bowling for Columbine" with an ear to what Michael Moore was actually trying to say, you would learn that guns, by themselves, aren't the problem. The percentage of Canadians who own guns very nearly matches that of America. Nonetheless, Canadians in large cities such as Toronto tend not to lock their doors, at least during the day time. The difference: the news Canadians get from the CBC is responsible, sober, and not based on a business model that mandates terrifying the viewing audience in order to attract ratings and attention. Brin's nailed it: America desperately needs something like the Beeb to help restore sanity and enough wisdom for Americans to run their own country in a responsible manner.

Alfred Differ said...

@Zepp Jamieson | Heh. I doubt a nation-wide, not-for-profit news corporation would save us from being the nuts we are at times. It would be a cool thing to have a fact checking entity, but we LIKE to be nutty about this stuff. We'd probably incorporate the new entity into more conspiracy theories. 8)

We have access to the Beeb. I have a couple of cable stations memorized. Does my family watch it, though? Nah. Too calm. Too much decorum.

It's us.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Naw, it's SOME of us. BBC America is weak tea, and NPR/PBS have been pretty much eviscerated and under for-profit corporate control. Americans really don't have much choice outside of the web. (The Guardian is the second-most read news-site in America now, which shows what happens when they do have a choice.)

LarryHart said...

Treebeard:

Kinda like Mayan priests calling for more and more extravagant human sacrifices to stop the crop failures, I suppose.


The way I learned it in seventh grade, Mayans didn't do human sacrifices. Aztecs and Incas, sure, but Mayans?


LarryHart said...

From The New York Times...

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/08/world/europe/theresa-may-britain-election-conservatives-parliament.html


LONDON — After a tumultuous, unpredictable election, Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain appeared in danger of losing her parliamentary majority on Thursday, throwing her government into uncertainty less than two weeks before it is scheduled to begin negotiations over withdrawing from the European Union.

Mrs. May, the Conservative leader, called the snap election three years early, expecting to cruise to a smashing victory that would win her a mandate to see Britain through the long and difficult negotiations with European leaders over the terms of leaving the union.

But according to initial results reported early Friday morning, the extraordinary gamble Mrs. May made in calling the election was at risk of backfiring — raising the possibility that Britain could end up with a hung Parliament, in which no party has a majority.


You would think that risking one's existing majority in order to gain an expected bigger majority under the theory that "What could possibly go wrong?" would have been discredited after Brexit. It would be like Donald Trump calling for a special election to prove that he'd really win the popular vote this time.

In fact...can someone maybe suggest that to Trump?

David Brin said...

Har! Treebeard dares to talk to us about “deranged and senile”? Oh. Oh…. my side. it hurts. Deranged and senile white boomers like him didn’t think McCain was deranged and senile enough! They’ll keep doubling down on the crazy till the millennials get sick of their future being trashed and put the boomers all in homes.

Till then, God Bless the Officer Corps. The grownups. This is why I say don’t impeach! The confederate brand is going up in flames.

Zepp Jamieson said...

UK gets Hung Parliament: For the benefit of American readers, a "Hung Parliament" is known more sedately in Canada was "a Minority government" and means the same thing: the biggest party has less than half the seats, and will need help from other parties in order to pass anything. So if you're looking at the phrase "hung Parliament" and looking hopefully in the direction of Congress, then no, it doesn't work that way. Not since about 1600, anyway

Laurence said...

Ugh, I'm dreading the next five years having to put up with that sheep-faced anti-semitic loon clinging on to the Labour leadership; thinking he "accomplished" something when Labour's (very minor) gain was purely due to the ineptness of Theresa May. Corbyn might be a rather different person to Trump, but Corbynism is looking more and more like the British answer to Trumpism every day. And take a look at the man's team:

Tom Watson - Wayward deputy who spends half his time defending Corbyn, the other half distancing himself from him.

Diane Abbott - Token black member, appears to be recovering from some form of self-inflicted brain trauma.

Seamus Milne - Sinster advisor with clear totalitarian tendencies, close links to Russia and an agenda even mre extreme than the leader himself.

Sound familiar?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Lawrence
"Sheep Faced?" - I accuse you of being beardist and challenge you a duel - Black puddings at 10 paces

As far as "Anti-Semitic" this whole accusation appears to be because
(1) He has supported actually speaking to the various sides on the Israel question
(2) He did not support banning a Labour party member when he made an entirely truthful statement that Hitler supported the Zionist movement to get Jews out of Germany

Much like a lot of very racist whites supported the Liberia movement

Corbyn supports the very middle of the road policies that all UK parties supported until Mad Maggie managed to start a war with Argentina and move the Overton window

It's difficult to actually know how good or how bad his team is as so far we have just seen through the window of the right wing owned media

None of them are anything like the Orange Orangutan's motley crew (except Mattis - he would fit right in)

Laurence said...

I have a beard too, so I'm not beardist.

He spoke to various sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he justified speaking to Hamas and Hezbollah on the basis that "we need to engage with all sides". This would have been defensible, except he refused to speak to the Israelis. In other words, he believes Hamas, a group whose founding charter is basically a reprint of Protocols of the Elders of Zion is more respectable the the government of the middle east's only democracy.

Ken Livingstone's remark was "Hitler supported Zionism, until he went mad and killed six million Jews." In other word Livingstone was suggesting Hitler was sort of respectable at one point, the went a bit far. Livingstone also said it was Okay to hate Jews, so long as they're Israeli. Replace Jew with "Muslim" or "black" and then tell me those sentiments aren't racist.

Anyone who criticizes Corbyn is denounced by his followers as a "Zionist". This even extended to a journalist on woman's hour, who had the temerity to ask Corbyn how much his childcare policies would cost when he couldn't remember. I witnessed the attitude of some Corbynistas first hand, my ex was a big fan of Corbyn, when my dad bought me a biography of Benjamin Disraeli her charming remark was "trust you to want to rean about a Jewish politician" she also believed Corbyn's poor poll performance was due to Mossad controlling the BBC. I know at least one former Labour activist who is now frightened of going to party meetings, as he might get beaten up for being a Blairite. Other activists have told me that Corbynistas will earnestly suggest prosecuting everyone who supported the Iraq war. One only needs to glance at the comments secton of the guardian to realize that Corbyinism is a movement that treats honest disagreement as heresy and sabotage. Stalinism operated on much the same principle.

You can get a taste of Milne's opinions in this article: https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/06/seumas-milne-stasi/

and here: http://standpointmag.co.uk/node/5641/full

Then there's this lovely quote:

"Communism in the Soviet Union, eastern Europe and elsewhere delivered rapid industrialisation, mass education, job security and huge advances in social and gender equality. It encompassed genuine idealism and commitment... Its existence helped to drive up welfare standards in the west, boosted the anticolonial movement and provided a powerful counterweight to western global domination"

Sounds like the left's answer to Bannon to me!

locumranch said...


I feel like the villain from Galaxy Quest, asking Captain Taggart to explain things to you as if you where child:

There is no Central Authority to which to appeal. There is no such thing as a non-partisan fact-checking authority, especially since the demise of the Fourth Estate, the centralised media narrative & the EU. There are no 'parents' who can force Putin, Erdogan & Duterte to 'play fair'; there is no one left who can discipline Qatar, Saudi Arabia & Iran without consequence; and there are no adults left in Washington DC, regardless of party affiliation, who remain capable of coordinated action.

The hierarchy has been disrupted, allowing the decentralised semiautonomous bureaucracies (aka 'The Deep State') to seize initiative without directive or oversight. Low-level federal courts over-rule congressional & executive authority 'in loco parentis'; the federal intelligence agencies override, defy & bear witness against their designated Commander-in-Chief; and 'central authority' has been arrogated by the periphery.

Over the last few decades, from 'W' to Obama to Trump, bipartisan fools have invalidated the executive authority that the US Officer Corps is sworn to obey. The US Officer Corps exists only to OBEY central commands, NOT the other way around, being ill-suited to issue commandments, lest these noble & well-educated public servants become our masters and the public becomes subject to junta-style dictatorship & military rule.

Since 'the center cannot hold', peaceful balkanisation remains our best & only bloodless option, assuming there are any adults at the state & local levels who remain capable of reasoned discourse. Otherwise, hotshot "Civil War: Part Deux", starring a manic-depressive Charlie Sheen as the voice of reason.

And NATO & the UN? They are anachronisms that rise & fall with US fortune.


Best
_____

Pakistan: A military dictatorship, teetering on the edge of civil war, will not intervene when Iran walks through the Middle East with thousand league boots, as long as Iran promises to leave a pragmatic Pakistan alone, much in the same way that Pakistan gave shelter & succor to Osama Bin Ladin when he was NATO's 'Most Wanted'.

"UK gets Hung Parliament" means those Brits may finally have the bollocks to solve their terrorist problem with a Trumpian travel ban & an improved Hadrian's Wall.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Laurence
Once more you are hitting on an actual FACT

"Communism in the Soviet Union, eastern Europe and elsewhere delivered rapid industrialisation, mass education, job security and huge advances in social and gender equality..............

Communism did all of those things - very fast - It's like the Hitler remark - sounds horrible but is 100% accurate

You have got to remember that under the Czar Russia was about 100 years behind places like Germany so "communism" did a LOT in a very short period of time

As far as the rest is concerned DAMN RIGHT - how much progress would we have made in those fields without the specter of communism keeping our plutocrats under control
Just look at what happened to the power of the working man after the USSR fell

Like all of the rest of your comments - you are either complaining because somebody said something accurate or blaming Corbyn for his most unhinged followers

On the other hand you have newspapers and the bloody Parliamentary Labour Party saying that Corbyn is some sort of communist for espousing what was a center of the road policy until Thatcher

As far as Israel is concerned - in some ways they are their own worst enemy - by stopping any discussion of the bloody silly path that the current government has taken with loud cries of "Antisemitism" they are stopping any progress towards a stable state

Iraqi war
If the Iraqi war was illegal (as some very senior law people have said) then prosecuting the people who led the UK into an illegal war makes perfect sense to me - maybe if a few of them go to jail the next lot will be a bit slower to resort to an illegal war
If it turns out to have been "legal" then those people who are prosecuted will be exonerated



Paul451 said...

From the main article:

"beating a call for the U.S. to attach the Persian Republic."

" It is urgently needed, whatever the state the "I-word." "

--

Re: Bipartisan fact-checker checkers.

It can't involve people who are actively in the political spotlight. McCain, for example, even if you think he has high integrity, is an active politician, he is always going to be in a situation where he makes "political lies", over vote swapping deals and "gotcha" questions about party loyalty. That means he's subject to fact-checking, and to negative finding by fact-checkers. Which means he's in a position to have to officially approve a fact-checker who just called him a liar. And it would mean that the fact-checking organisations would know that their official approval depend on the opinions of the people they are assessing, resulting in a potential "chilling effect".

I'm not outright rejecting the idea. But it cannot come from or involve active politicians, in any way. Not even indirectly by getting McCain-et-al to nominate trusted, but non-partisan, "wise elders" to the approval committee.

And not involving active politicians, especially conservatives, defeats the purpose you've propose it for, getting "trusted" conservative politicians to publicly support the idea and value of facts and objective reality.

Further:
Who is the intended audience? Who would care about external validation of a fact-checker's credentials? A small number of people who already believe in objective facts, but are having trouble keeping up with the avalanche of manufactured bullshit. How many of those people make even the most basic check before passing on links and repeating lies?

Everyone else either already trusts their favourite fact-checkers, or doesn't care about facts.

Paul451 said...

That said:

It would be interesting if a couple of billionaires, or group of hecta-millionaires, created a "pledge" along the lines of Norquist's no-tax pledge. Sign and abide by the pledge to name a bipartisan fact-checking group and receive a large amount of soft-money funding.

Paul451 said...

Not sure why the second one flaked,

From the main article:
"beating a call for the U.S. to attach the Persian Republic."

" It is urgently needed, whatever the state if the "I-word." "

Jumper said...

Re.: fact checkers, the perfect is enemy of the good. The best are still the University system libraries and the US federal government. But they are imperfect, and so will remain untrusted by cherry-pickers whose card houses remind me of turtle skyscrapers reconstructed by mad Sisyphean followers of the usual idiots du jour.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

This is why I say don’t impeach! The confederate brand is going up in flames.


I so want to believe that, but the Republican brand has been predicted to be in demographic tatters for maybe 20 years now, and in ideological tatters since Katrina in 2005. And still they keep gaining seats of power.

I worry when my side gets too complacent. I was not on board the "hope Trump gets the nomination, because he'll lose in all 50 states" bandwagon, and I find it hard to get on this one as well.

I hope you're right, but it's way too early to celebrate.

LarryHart said...

Laurence:

Ken Livingstone's remark was "Hitler supported Zionism, until he went mad and killed six million Jews." In other word Livingstone was suggesting Hitler was sort of respectable at one point, the went a bit far.


I am certainly not up on the specific references to British politics and politicians.

To me, I can imagine that Hitler didn't immediately start with the idea of actually killing the Jews, but just "getting rid of" them in some other fashion that involved moving or putting them somewhere else, and that only after that was taking too long coming around to the idea of "Let's just use industrial murder and be done with it." Saying that he started small and worked up over time to a more heinous crime doesn't mean finding Hitler to be a good guy.

LarryHart said...

From today's www.electoral-vote.com :


When British Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to call a Snap election has officially backfired.
...
At very least, May won't have the leverage she was trying to acquire by calling this election.


This reminds me so much of 1998 when the congressional Republicans held back on the Clinton impeachment trial in the Senate until after the congressional elections, expecting to pick up seats in the meantime. Gingrich actually ran on "Give us more Republicans, the better to impeach the president with." Instead, it was one of only two times in recent memory in which the opposition to the president's party lost seats in an off-year election. (The other time was when 9/11 was still visible in the rear-view mirror)

Come to think of it, a slogan for the Republican Party which would be ironically appropriate in at least two different senses would be "What could possibly go wrong?"

donzelion said...

re Corbyn: The allegedly 'anti-Semitic' statement he made was: “Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organizations.”

I suppose if he'd said something about 'our Catholic friends' in the '80s, when the IRA was bombing London, that he'd be anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic? And anti-friend, too?

Laurence: "In other words, he believes Hamas, a group whose founding charter is basically a reprint of Protocols of the Elders of Zion is more respectable the the government of the middle east's only democracy."
You are factually inaccurate. Hamas' founding charter is available here. Their new charter is not fully endorsed. Neither draws from European anti-Semitism.

Surprisingly, a number of Christian bookstores used to sell the Protocols in the West Bank (clandestinely, but I could find copies when I looked for them). In some cases, booksellers trafficking in it were (probably) deemed by Palestinians to be Israeli intelligence agents who monitored persons of interest. Note that the Saudis despised Hamas from the beginning (identifying it - correctly - as a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot and hence antithetical to their regime...this is a sticking point between Doha and Riyadh with very recent repercussions...)

I must concur with Duncan on this point: "As far as Israel is concerned - in some ways they are their own worst enemy - by stopping any discussion of the bloody silly path that the current government has taken with loud cries of "Antisemitism" they are stopping any progress towards a stable state"

'Uber-semitism' (deeming any non-Israeli who criticizes Israel an anti-Semite) is very useful to prevent criticism, and prolong Netanyahu as the 'only safe option in a hostile world.' The days when Bill Clinton could simply hint that Likud wasn't being 'helpful' - and thereby influence Israelis to actually take brave steps towards peace - are long gone...but in the hopelessness that has followed, reactionary politicians have profited immensely by the ease with which they can blame anyone other than Israel (it's all the Arab's fault! always, all the time, everywhere!). Obama is an anti-Semite! Jimmy Carter (the U.S. president who did more to protect Israel than any other) is an anti- Semite!

Until one can see both sides clearly, both their failures and successes, one will be adrift in this region - perpetually driven by propaganda from one side or another, rather than responding to fact. Meanwhile, some are adjusting those facts, inch by inch, acre by acre, to their own benefit, in ways that harm a broader community (of Israelis, Palestinians, Arabs, and many others) - but serve the interests of a handful (Dominionists, feudalists).

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "For example, arm-twisting Boeing and Lockheed to move production from Washington and California to (in order to to prop up) failing Kansas, or else lose out on Saudi contracts."
This is barely starting. It will grow. The military will support it (Indiana is CRUCIAL to naval cranes...California, less so...), or they will lose out on the benefits. Tough place for the top brass to be in - and ultimately, a threat to their military readiness as local politicos siphon funds that ought to go to the troops in exchange for loyalty.

Again, it's the Carl Schmitt playbook, not Strauss, not the wacky Revelations...but I hope many will take note and draw lines.

"But prepping for another round at the federal level is the number two reason for Trump's slashing attack on R&D and other federal investments in our future. The number one, of course, is just hate."
For the knowledge professions, it is a sort of 'hate,' but a very specific kind of hate - that of a master for his slaves, and for the freed men who used to be slaves. Starving government funds from research is about commandeering research, monopolizing the gains from science into as few hands as possible. Trump & Friends want to restore the 'patron' system of science, where scientists knew their place (and if they questioned it, they could be dismissed from the household): they want monkey grinder scientists to give them toys, which they can sell at a profit.

Once the specific type of hatred is identified, opposing it becomes easier. One finds friends among those who yearn to know, to collaborate in mastering knowledge, and to cooperatively discover and explore.

David Brin said...

Paul, politicians can be involved to the extent that they make policy and “it’s time again to base policy on facts.”

I had spaghetti once, in Ken Livingstone’s home. Very smart and very smug and addicted to wrath. But a true lover of great science fiction! And his end goal is positive,

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

a very specific kind of hate - that of a master for his slaves, and for the freed men who used to be slaves.


The freed ex-slaves, I'll give you, but does a master really hate his slaves. It seems to me that the slaves are more likely to (justifiably) hate the master. The attitude of the master toward the slave is more like contempt if not indifference.

That doesn't argue against your larger point, because the relationship of empowered citizens to the oligarchs is more like that of freed slaves anyway.

David Brin said...

What an loon. Not a single thing that locum just said is even slightly correlated with objective reality. Notice he doesn’t even glance at how he illustrates the fact-hatred dogma. Any attempt to disprove or prove anything, anything at all is hopeless, so don’t oppress me with your vile “facts!” It is identical to the cant of the postmodernist farleft.

He claims that our problem has been ‘bipartisanship” when the demolition of conversation, grownup argument and negotiation has been the one, consistent and over-riding priority of his mad cult, for 25 years. A priority he still expresses, even though it is directly responsible for the destruction of adult governance in our country and has harmed us, top to bottom.

. Pakistan has ten x Iran’s army and has nukes. It has no fear of Iran whatsoever. Only one thing would hold Pakistan back from pan-Sunni solidarity and that’s India, which has zero reason to support Iran, whatsoever. SHOW US the comparison of actual military strength of Iran vs the combo of Egypt, Saudi, Jordan, Kuwait. Even without US air cover demolishing their obsolete tanks the instant they crossed a border. Even without the blatant fact that Pakistan and Israel would intervene. You are a loony. Arm-waved paranoid ravings, whose sole purpose is to justify an illegal and unjustifiable 'pre-emptive' strike at the only Middle Eastern state – other than Israel – that actually has a civil society, elections and citizenship for women.

Ah, that’s what he hates about Iran.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | but does a master really hate his slaves

Depends on the form of slavery, I suppose. If the master knows his slaves hate him, of course he is going to hate them back. In such a system, security is a large cost in protecting one's 'property' and is a big part of what undermined slavery as the industrial revolution ramped up. Machines don't hate their masters.

Alfred Differ said...

I can't imagine the US military supporting a patronage system for scientists anymore. WWII demonstrated the value of a triple alliance involving corporations, universities, and government. The Cold War did again and HUGE way through Arpanet.

Arguing for a patronage system today takes a special kind of stupidity that I doubt is common in our officer corp. They get trained on how this alliance works. Some of the naval officers I've met ACTIVELY engage it by acquiring multiple graduate degrees while cultivating corporate talent. Their promotions depend upon it.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

If the master knows his slaves hate him, of course he is going to hate them back


Maybe.

The pet peeve I'm getting at is that "hate crime" is a misnomer, and the use of that term seems like deliberate obfuscation to me, even though I'm generally sympathetic to the notion that such crimes are more like terrorist acts than simple individual violations.

I always maintain that in an abusive relationship between an aggressor and a victim, it is the victim who is more likely to hate the aggressor than the other way around. Which is why I don't like the term "hate crime". It tries to put extra blame on the one who hates, which means that if a husband indifferently slaps his wife around just because he thinks he can, and she finally has enough and hits back, she is guilty of a worse crime because she hates him (for being abusive in the first place).

The aspect of that kind of assault--threatening or killing someone because of his race or religion or sexual orientation or whatever--is not that the offender hates blacks or Jews or Muslims or etc, but that he dehumanizes the target group. He treats them as someone he can bully without consequence, as they are not deserving of the dignity society grants to fellow human beings. The dehumanization, not the emotion of hate, is what distinguishes a so-called hate crime from normal crime.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "The attitude of the master toward the slave is more like contempt if not indifference."
A fair point. I suppose when one regards a human being as a tool to be used, even if one regards that tool with fondness, I'd still include that within the broader spectrum of hatred.

"the relationship of empowered citizens to the oligarchs is more like that of freed slaves anyway."
Exactly, though at various points in time, perhaps it is 'more' like freed slaves than others. We enjoy considerable freedom today; let's defend it fiercely.

My point is to suggest a limit to our host's earlier proposal of 'flattery' as a tactic, while endorsing the one in this post instead: time spent making friends of those who are befriendable is time well-spent, as is time revisiting the list of enemies one keeps to assess which, if any, may play a different role than one expects. A slave may clown about to amuse a master and deflect a blow - but a free man's energies are better spent uniting with other free men to oppose a would-be oppressor. That applies whether the oppressor wants the fruit of our labor, our labor itself, or our loyalty for his own vainglorious edification.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "Which is why I don't like the term "hate crime...It tries to put extra blame on the one who hates, which means that if a husband indifferently slaps his wife around just because he thinks he can, and she finally has enough and hits back, she is guilty of a worse crime because she hates him (for being abusive in the first place)."

The quintessential law school textbook case comes down like this:
Under traditional common law, if Husband sees Wife in bed with another man, shoots them both, then he is (probably) guilty of manslaughter, not murder, because he acted without mens rea necessary to commit murder (in the 'heat of passion'). But if Wife sees Husband in bed with another woman, poisons them both, then she is guilty of murder, not manslaughter, because she formed the requisite criminal intent. Objectively, she gets a stricter sentence for the same act of murder. Yet she committed a different crime entirely by acting with 'malice aforethought.' That 'malice' is a certain kind of mens rea that we've determined is abhorrent.

"The dehumanization, not the emotion of hate, is what distinguishes a so-called hate crime from normal crime."
That is one factor, but following from the above, the issue is certain types of 'malice aforethought' are treated differently. Typically, a 'hate crime' modifier increases a sentence for an underlying offense because (1) a 'hate' criminal is regarded as more likely to repeat the offense, (2) a 'hate' criminal is regarded as more likely to inspire others to copy the offense (e.g., one dehumanization may result in others similarly responding), and (3) a 'hate' criminal is regarded as more likely to invite criminal retaliation than other sorts of criminals. Rape is a similar dehumanization, and is prosecuted vigorously even in those states that don't too care all that much for protecting (or even recognizing) women's other rights for very similar mixed reasons.

White activists do claim (absurdly, inaccurately, and repeatedly) that 'hate crimes' are an effort to oppress the white majority - but once they sit on a jury, they're quite likely to convict anyone who isn't wearing a police uniform even if they are otherwise uninterested in minorities.

donzelion said...

Alfred: "I can't imagine the US military supporting a patronage system for scientists anymore."

I can imagine them acquiescing begrudgingly, rather than embracing.

"Arguing for a patronage system today takes a special kind of stupidity that I doubt is common in our officer corp."
Nobody argues 'for' patronage; rather, they argue AGAINST systems that prevent patronage. That argument goes like this: "This science stuff is too expensive right now..." It's a pretty powerful (perhaps even dominant) argument.

Our military is wonderfully, tragically human-driven: how many will put their own advancement over the service by signing off on patronage projects, particularly when (a) the risk of going to war with a serious national adversary - China - is remote, (b) going along to get along offers significant career advantages, and (c) the costs, if any, will probably be borne by others. One great advantage our military has is the extent to which they're fully aware of these risks, try to rein them in, and listen to criticism.

locumranch said...


David jumps to conclusions:

I never said 'I hate Iran'. I am quite sympathetic to Persian Culture actually, having matriculated with one of the Shah's likably distant cousins, meaning that I much prefer the Persian to their irrational, low class, inbred & suicide-bombing Arab neighbours.

Nor did I claim that Pakistan could NOT beat Iran on a level military playing field if they so chose. I merely postulated that Pakistan would CHOOSE not to clash with Iran, preferring instead to loosely affiliate themselves with Iranian Muslims against their pagan Hindi cow-worshipping foe, much in the same way that Pakistan chose to aid & abet Osama Bin Laden against their putative US allies.

And what I can say about the Saudi Arabian Military? It may possess the most modern, deadly & expensive killing equipment know to man, but it is composed of well-educated, rich & entitled royals who look quite spiffy in military regalia but will run away from armed conflict even faster than Kuwait Armed Forces fled from Saddam Hussain in 1990 (without firing a shot, I recall) with the full expectation that the lip-kissing Pax American Bush Dynasty will rush to their defence.

Those poor Persian Iranians must be quaking in their boots as they imagine "the combo of Egypt, Saudi, Jordan, Kuwait" shrieking 'Run Away! Run Away!' as they drop their weapons, abandon their posts, soil their artfully tailored knickers & retreat to their upscale residences in Paris & Londonistan.

And, speaking of the Bush Dynasty:

Remember when our kind host mercilessly MOCKED President 'W', accused him of being the 'worst ever' President (Can he still make that claim, I wonder?) & attempted to invalidate his executive authority at every opportunity, only to have the US Republicans return this bipartisan favour when Obama took office?

This is of which I speak when I mention "bipartisan fools (who) have invalidated the executive authority" over the last few decades, leading to us to where we are now, to a time when both conservative & progressive pray for an Ender Wigginesque Demigod, Messiah or ill-defined Central Authority to come aid them in their time of need.

The conservatives turns to their Obama-disparaged 'God & Guns' for succor, while the progressives pray to "The Officer Corps. The grownups" for salvation, hoping against hope that some selfless, impeccably trained and/or 'chosen from birth' Hero of Fiction will RISE & rescue them from their own pediatric bipartisan devices.


Best

David Brin said...

Jeez what sick perversity makes me skim his screeds? I suppose a healthy attraction to criticism, since such a vastly larger majority seem to either feel I’m mostly right… or else flee confrontation with me to hide in cult echo chambers. Either way…

Oh no you don’t. The Iranians probably aren’t afraid of invasion by Saudi-Egypt alone. But the insane-drooling war-with-Iran cult in the White House (and beyond) probably DOES scare them, with good reason. The vast numbers of moderates there do not want the mullahs to be strengthened and driven into alliance with Putin… which is what Trumpists would accomplish.

India contains TEO HUNDRED MILLION Sunni muslims. The idea that Modi would risk civil war in order to side with Iran is dizzying stupidity. Especially since he could probably extort concessions from Pakistan, to let them pounce, if Iran attacked Kuwait.

Yes, Bush Jr was the worst president of the 21st Century (his daddy was the worst of the 20th). So? Locum’s zero sum mind is incapable of grasping that I… can… redefine… as… new… fact… come in. So, I now state that the last three GOP presidents were three out of the four worst in American history.

“attempted to invalidate his executive authority at every opportunity, only to have the US Republicans return this bipartisan favour when Obama took office?”

Bullshit. You strawman attribute to me the treasonous behavior of you and of your side. I sought to use light to hold him accountable. When the goppers tried using light against Clinton, Obama, and Clinton, that light found nothing.

Light on Republicans reveals lying fact-evading, cheaters many of whom are boy-buggerers.

Antonym said...

Saudi Arabia invades Qatar. Turkey and Iran counter attack to defend. Even if Pakistan stays out, Saudi Arabia's secret ally Israel has nukes ready for Iranian cities.
Then , allah-forbid, USA and Russia go from proxy war to real war. WW3 ladies and gentlemen.

Honestly, I would rather go toe to toe with Russia than invade a single inch of Iran. They may not have the strength to conquer neighbors, but they do have strong defensive capabilities.

-AtomicZeppelinMan

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

"The dehumanization, not the emotion of hate, is what distinguishes a so-called hate crime from normal crime."
That is one factor, but following from the above, the issue is certain types of 'malice aforethought' are treated differently.


Yes, and I muddied the waters by using the battered wife example. Neither the husband nor the wife in that scenario is engaged in what I would call a "hate crime". The only point there is that the (battered) wife is much more likely to be the one who hates the (battering) husband, not the other way around.


Under traditional common law, if Husband sees Wife in bed with another man, shoots them both, then he is (probably) guilty of manslaughter, not murder, because he acted without mens rea necessary to commit murder (in the 'heat of passion'). But if Wife sees Husband in bed with another woman, poisons them both, then she is guilty of murder, not manslaughter, because she formed the requisite criminal intent


In one sense, it is perfectly reasonable to be harsher on a premeditated, cold-blooded act of murder than for a heat-of-the-moment emotional act of violence. But we do have to be careful about the ethical nature of cracking down harder on "ways women tend to do things" than on "ways men tend to do the same things." Or harshly penalizing use of drugs that poor black people tend toward while looking the other way at drugs rich white people tend to use. Or kicking men and women alike off of voting rolls if their surname is different from the one on their birth certificate.


Typically, a 'hate crime' modifier increases a sentence for an underlying offense because (1) a 'hate' criminal is regarded as more likely to repeat the offense, (2) a 'hate' criminal is regarded as more likely to inspire others to copy the offense (e.g., one dehumanization may result in others similarly responding), and (3) a 'hate' criminal is regarded as more likely to invite criminal retaliation than other sorts of criminals.


I'd add that a dehumanizing so-called "hate crime" is also magnified by the fact that it's not just an isolated attack on the one victim at that moment. It's meant as a declaration that anyone else of the victim's particular "type" may be similarly attacked in the future. That's why I equate that sort of crime with terrorist attacks.

Rape is a similar dehumanization, and is prosecuted vigorously even in those states that don't too care all that much for protecting (or even recognizing) women's other rights for very similar mixed reasons.


It's taken most of my lifetime for rape to be recognized as dehumanizing to the female victim. When I was a young adult, it seemed that rape was considered ungentlemanly and a bad thing for a man to have on his record, but that what happened in private was the girl's fault (for letting it happen) and "Really, what else do you expect a young man to do?" Of course, long before that, "rape" was a property crime against the woman's husband or her family if she was as yet unmarried. The crime was that the rapist was taking something that belonged to another man.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Russia is aligned with Iran, but might stab their ally in the back if they have a chance to avail themselves of a Qatar that is isolated and facing attack, not just from Iran, but countries Russia does NOT like, such as Saudi Arabia. Dr. Brin is right: India is not going to get involved. It's unlikely Pakistan will either, other than surreptitiously.
In fact, nearly every scenario going forward strongly strengthens Russian influence in the region of the Gulf--which may be why Trump did what he did.

Obs said...

Around one fifth of Pakistan is Shia, Dr. Brin. Outright confrontation with Iran is something sensible people there want to avoid.

Two recent cases:

1. Pakistan refused to join Saudi Arabia's campaign in Yemen because the Saudis wanted only Sunni troops. Pakistan's army can't tolerate that kind of sectarianism in it's ranks.

2. The recent Iranian attack on Pakistani villages from across the border was initially denied then downplayed by the government which rushed to patch things up with Tehran.

Antonym,

Saudis sometimes refer to their "offshore" nuclear arsenal. It's Pakistan's they're referring to.

Obs said...

Although I agree that Locum's scenario of Iran rampaging through the Middle East in a campaign of conquest is absurd in the extreme. Reminds me of the Bushite Neocons.

The Mullahs aren't that stupid.

Obs said...

Re: India civil war

India has fought multiple wars with Muslim Pakistan without risking a civil war.

I also think we're ignoring a key factor. Pakistan has three key (If highly troubled) alliances: Saudi Arabia, America...and China.

The Chinese are currently investing very heavily in Pakistan as part of their Silk Road project. They are far from an uninterested party in any future India/Pakistan conflict.

David Brin said...

The key notion is that these psychopaths are basing their determination to attack Iran on hallucinations. Since long before 9/11, it has been Sunni extremism that killed westerners and Americans, not Shiite-extremism,. (Except some bombings inside Iraq itself, during the troubles.)

Some Iranian Guard boats zipped toward some US ships guarding the straits. The solution? Stop guarding the straits! We don't need the oil there, anymore! Because the US gained effective energy independence under Obama. The dream of FORTY YEARS! Achieved, and so the insane right must ignore it, lest Obama get any credit.

The Iranian military is not equipped for nor trained for nor prepared to launch aggressive foreign adventures. SUre the Guards are assholes. But they are gradually losing power to the vast, educated young middle class who want to join the world.

There are only three reasons to attack Iran. The Saudis want it. Putin wants it so they will cower under his protection. And US imbeciles want it.

locumranch said...



Despite the 'three reasons to attack Iran' listed above, there are no viable reasons to attack Iran & many reasons for Iran to expand.

The Middle East is like the vomit of a greedy dog, being both indigestible & irreconcilable, but an Iranian Annexation of the Saudi Peninsula (in conjunction with the liberation of Southern Iraq, Oman, Qatar & Yemen) would greatly simplify the local political arena & could lead to 'Peace in the Middle East' in our lifetime.

Imagine a lasting peace between Israel & New Persia, brokered by an isolationist USA & an emerging Russian Federation, involving Palestinian Repatriation to Sunni-controlled territories, with Shia Muslims controlling the North & Sunni Muslims controlling the South, separated, secured & maintained by a nuclear Masada Option of Israeli design.

Detente Achieved! Everybody is happy -- especially the Dominionists -- and Family Trump receives a Nobel Peace Prize & a long-overdue missile parade in celebration of the SALT III treaty.

The human population collapses due to global reorganisation & fossil fuel usage is reduced by half; AGW reveals itself as a self-preventing prophecy; the EU reorients under the auspices of the Irish Hegemony; the Russian Federation fails to regain the glories of the Old Soviet; the Chinese tentacle monster penetrates & seizes the South Chinese Sea, including Japan; the US Confederacy withdrawals to the North American continent to argue the finer points of gun ownership for aborted fetuses.

Headlines from 2050 read 'Atheists raptured by Giant Spaghetti Monster, Bill Cosby implicated, Civil Suit pending'.


Best

Jumper said...

The combination of horizontal drilling and fracking was the real game changer.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidblackmon/2013/01/28/horizontal-drilling-a-technological-marvel-ignored/#769f82f6f112

A man named George Mitchell took it to shale. Previously it was in conventional oil zones such as the Austin chalk, and tight sands, I believe.
https://web.archive.org/web/20081120170935/http://geology.com/research/barnett-shale-father.shtml

My own brainstorm has been to ask what benefits accrue when using these techniques with geothermal storage and production of heat.

LarryHart said...

Off topic, but...

RIP Adam West.

I don't care what anyone else says, the 1960s "Batman" tv show was awesome.

Obs said...

Hi Locum,

Why do you favour an Iranian hegemon over that region instead of a Turkish one?

The partition of the region into little nation states was the work of European powers. Do you believe it was misguided and should be reversed?

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "I'd add that a dehumanizing so-called "hate crime" is also magnified by the fact that it's not just an isolated attack on the one victim at that moment."

Indeed. America has actually been something of a laggard in this area - and there's yet another unusual, and rather strange reason too for adding 'hate crimes.' Crimes against Native Americans, foreigners, and African Americans tended not to be prosecuted as vigorously as crimes against white people. Most prosecutors get judged based on the length of the sentences they obtain against 'bad actors,' but when the 'bad actors' were white, for decades they tended to be seen as 'justified' (e.g., perhaps Goetz really was terrified of the black boys on the subway when he blew them away, so that wasn't cold-blooded murder...).

Adding a 'hate' element that increases a sentence encourages prosecutors to go after 'hate' criminals to get brownie points for the longer conviction. Similar reasoning applied to crack cocaine (as opposed to 'normal' cocaine).

Not saying it's fair, or a good thing. Just how it works.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "The key notion is that these psychopaths are basing their determination to attack Iran on hallucinations. Since long before 9/11, it has been Sunni extremism that killed westerners and Americans, not Shiite-extremism.

Let's see: Lebanon attacks, kidnappings, and rockets into Israel (Hezbollah was long an Iranian orbital player), Hamas (cut off entirely by the Saudis, who despised the Muslim Brotherhood, they turned to Qatar and Iran), several branches of the PLO (but not the Abu Nidal stream, which was distinctively ugly) - Iran has had a great deal to do with a great deal of death. Inside Iraq, Moqtada Al-Sadr and his band were a serious threat. Iran has hardly been a good actor.

The consensus of the 1980s (Sunnis = 'good Muslims,' Shi'a = 'bad Muslims') was idiotic and shallow, and reflected a general ignorance about the region in which a lot of Americans took pride. The consensus of later decades (understanding Sunnis v. Shi'as explains everything) is equally shallow and idiotic, as if, say, one could understand the IRA fighting in N. Ireland by reading Henry VIII's prayer books and assessing Anne Boleyn's role.

"We don't need the oil there, anymore! Because the US gained effective energy independence under Obama."
You know better than that how interconnected markets operate. Price is seldom strongly correlated with 'need.' And we owe what energy independence we have primarily to red states - I trust Arab sheikhs more than quite a few of the red state politicos (mainly because I know who owns the former, but the latter is significantly more unpredictable).

"The Iranian military is not equipped for nor trained for nor prepared to launch aggressive foreign adventures."
Their equipment for launching invasions isn't very impressive, but there are a lot of ways to lead foreign adventures, and they've focused almost exclusively for 25 years on asymmetric tactics, because trying to match America was a fool's errand. Nobody knows for sure how effective they would be. At fighting tanks in the field? Laughably. But at ultimately controlling territory? Harder to say. They've done quite well in Iraq.

"Sure the Guards are assholes. But they are gradually losing power to the vast, educated young middle class who want to join the world."
This is indeed worth hoping for, BUT one has to bear in mind that the Shah had calculated that a vast, educated young middle class would back his government and help modernize the nation. Things didn't go as he planned, or as we anticipated they would.

"There are only three reasons to attack Iran. The Saudis want it. Putin wants it so they will cower under his protection. And US imbeciles want it."
The last one is the real reason, but it is not about controlling Iranian oil - so much as raising the price per barrel, so that nat gas and U.S. producers make a fortune. Most of whom are in red states, nearly all of whom are loyal to the Koch cluster.

Oh, and you left out the reason that Israel wants it. But again, it's not that important - what matters is which American feudalists owning/leasing which plots in which U.S. territories want oil to skyrocket so that fields that are losing money and being financed through junk bonds will become lucrative again and the bonds can be retired. And ultimately, games like that in the bond markets drove much of 19th century colonialism...

LarryHart said...

@donzelion,

I'm not against increased penalties for the things that are currently called "hate crimes". What I object to is the name, because I think it points attention at the wrong element. I'd really rather see them treated as terrorist incidents, but there too, the word "terrorist" seems to implicitly refer to an action by leftists and/or Muslims. The KKK or the Nazis are never referred to as terrorists. No one who prides himself on bucking political correctness or "telling it like it is" is willing to talk about Radical Christianist Terrorism. I wonder what that is.

donzelion said...

Obs: "I also think we're ignoring a key factor. Pakistan has three key (If highly troubled) alliances: Saudi Arabia, America...and China."

While it is worthy to consider allies, Saudi Arabia and America have hardly been 'key' allies for Pakistan in their fights with India. For Saudi, I don't see that changing; there are nearly as many Indians in Saudi Arabia as there are Pakistanis (and many more in the Emirates, where Saudis are dependent on financiers to liquidate and lever up their oil allowances) - none of that is an accident. The Saudis were particularly disenchanted with the Pakistani intelligence after 9/11.

And America? 20 years ago, Clinton slapped Pakistan for its nukes; our relationship has been 'delicate' ever since (not to mention coups, plots, etc.).

China, however, will increasingly be a wild card worth watching for a number of reasons.

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

China, however, will increasingly be a wild card worth watching for a number of reasons.


Ironic terminology there, as "playing the China card" was a thing as far back as the Nixon administration.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "What I object to is the name, because I think it points attention at the wrong element."
Well, a pure 'hate crime' per se has been almost never enforced since RAV v. St. Paul (1992). Unless there is an underlying criminal offense, the 'hate' itself cannot be prosecuted. Hence it's role now primarily in the context of sentencing enhancements (e.g., beating up ANYONE is a crime, but beating up a person because he is gay can result in an increased sentence).

"I'd really rather see them treated as terrorist incidents, but there too, the word "terrorist" seems to implicitly refer to an action by leftists and/or Muslims."
Folks who commit murder for rightwing purposes are most often deemed 'insane' or disavowed as rightwingers by the Right. Muslims do almost precisely the same thing, preferring to refer to suicide bombers as 'deranged' or 'perverted.'

"The KKK or the Nazis are never referred to as terrorists."
Things got delicate in the '80s, when Jewish terrorists became the #2 most prolific group perpetrating attacks (following the KKK), and IRA benefactors in Boston were excluded (so long as they did no attacks from here). Law enforcement strives to avoid terms that interfere with arresting bad guys - UNLESS there is political interference (e.g., Bush Jr. learned how useful it was to arrest 1000 suspected terrorists - even though 98% of the underlying charges amounted to immigration infractions, failure to complete and record financial transactions, traffic violations...they had a woeful record of actually finding people planning attacks).

"No one who prides himself on bucking political correctness or "telling it like it is" is willing to talk about Radical Christianist Terrorism."
Indeed...

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "Ironic terminology there, as "playing the China card" was a thing as far back as the Nixon administration."

I wonder when it will be appropriate to refer to the Chinese 'trump' card? Even deeper irony...

locumranch said...


Obs asks why I favour the probability of an Iranian hegemon over that region instead of a Turkish one, the answer being economic, political, ethnic & religious demographics.

Iran is an 'underdog'.

By virtue of being isolated these many years, Iran has had self-sufficiency forced upon it. It is a young & ambitious nation, having only existed since 1979. It has been welded into a single political, ethnic & religious unit, being more than 95% Shia by cautious estimates. Having no established place in the world, it has nothing to lose, making it a risk-taker. It is also hungry for experience.

Turkey is a 'legacy'.

At almost a hundred years old, Turkey is old & corrupt in comparison. It is economically integrated (and therefore dependent) on the global economy; it is ethnically disparate (Turk 70%, Kurd 18%, Other 12%); and it politically fractious, requiring dictatorial rule. It is backwards-looking, focused (not on the future but) on its imperial past & it feels that it has much to lose.

(1) Those who believe that they have 'much to lose' & 'little to gain' make abysmal fighters who don't take risks (as in the case of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia & other risk-averse fops};

(2) Those who believe that they have 'little to lose' & 'much to gain' make ferocious fighters & risk-takers (as in the case of Israel, the Alt-Right & the Free);

(3) Those who believe that they have 'little to lose' & 'little to gain' make depressed irrational martyrs (as in the case of Palestine, Indonesia & other quitters); and

(4) Those who believe that they have 'much to gain' & 'much to lose' dither while civilisation burns (as in the case of the EU & the political establishment).


This is also why nations (1) fall, (2) rise, (3) fail and (4) fall.


Best

David Brin said...

Insanity hates facts! Refutation? Ignore it!

“an Iranian Annexation of the Saudi Peninsula”

Again, show us a scintilla! A smidgen! A microscopic glimmer of any reason to believe that Iran wants this, is equipped for it, could conceivably achieve it EVEN if tou exclude three nuclear powers, the US and Israel and Pakistan, who would vigorously oppose it.

And no you don’t “favor an Iranian hegemony.” Rather it is a masturbatory fantasy that you then envision us righteously putting down in a lovely little war. That will distract from GOP troubles.

You only raise this out of kneejerk obedience to your mad cult. The rest of your ravings are beyond clinical.

Donzel I have admitted that Iranian Shiite radicals are (1) assholes and (2) committed atrocities inside Iraq, where they felt direct nextdoor kinship with a people we deliberately and horrifically betrayed, 12 years earlier (at Saudi orders.)

David Brin said...

onward

Jumper said...

The real reason:
https://www.maxim.com/entertainment/iranian-hulk-2016-6

David Brin said...

Jumper wow! That's why they've held back!

onward
onward

SFMama said...

Just came across this article today about the concerted efforts of Russian intelligence to propagandize and compromise the US military at all levels. What are your thoughts on this espionage technique vs. your optimism that military commanders are part of the knowledge clade and will help right the American ship of state?

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/12/how-russia-targets-the-us-military-215247

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