Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Boycotts and other weapons for the Union Side

Tactics and strategy.  

The Confederacy has taken Washington and -- as usual -- America (the Union) is slow responding to an all-out war against every logical or fact-using profession, against the Constitution and against common sense or decency.  Aware that they must act, leaders of the Democratic Party have announced a Better Deal, hoping to leverage in middle Americans a dim memory of the love that their parents -- The Greatest Generation -- had for FDR and his New Deal...

...and as usual, the Dems seem to be clueless.  None of this is about the economy. Nor will it be, until the Trump Recession begins. 

It is about memes. And psychology. And hate. And money. But most of all a deep, simmering confederate hate of all things urban, or scientific, or professional, or expert, or associated with despised universities... or the future.  In the face of such mindless, fevered hate, attempting to offer policy anodynes is just reinforcement of the nerd-wonky image that these folks already have, or democrats.

No, this will require adoption of a whole range of new tactics that directly deal with the psychology and money and the underlying hate.

Indeed some tactics should be blatantly obvious!  Like how to deal right now with a fragile-ego, prickly, mercurial, and flighty president. Earlier I proposed the "Short Straw Gambit"... how DP leaders should draw lots and the losers use flattery to end Donald Trump's dangerous isolation.  The flattery can be sardonic! It can be couched in ways that betray no principles and that are even obvious to Trump's cabal: Bannon & company! They'll scream: it's a trick! It won't matter. Even something as blatantly manipulative as this...

“I disagree with almost everything he says… but boy is our president good-looking for a man his age. Perhaps one of the most-handsome presidents in history.”
... will work! Even knowing he's being manipulated won't matter. Donald Trump likes people who flatter him. Period.  He will invite them to lunch, to golf. And those channels would then make a real difference. We are betrayed by those who refuse to use this! It could save all our lives.
== Ethics and Oversight ==

Who was (or is) on your side? The fiduciary rule, finalized by the Obama Labor Department in 2016, requires certain financial advisers to disclose potential conflicts of interest to clients. It also expands the types of advisers who are mandated by a “fiduciary” standard to act in their clients’ best interests, not their own. 

Read that twice. Until then, your “financial adviser” could legally steer you to investments benefiting her, not you, and not tell you. Democrats failed for decades to overcome Republican support for that system, by legislation, so Obama finally found a way to change it administratively, through the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. (Which Trump is trying to kill.)  Now the civil servants in Trump’s Labor Department appear to have prevailed in preventing DT’s people from rescinding that rule. An example of how we are being served, still, by a “United States Government.” Just not the Confederate preeners in Congress and the White House.  

For decades, POGO — the Project on Governmental Oversight — has worked with government insiders to expose wrongdoing that affects the public. I have long pushed for reliable, graduated and careful, but effective whistle-blower laws. 

You might think the independent Office of Government Ethics (OGE) would have authority to deal with this matter. But, it turns out, OGE not only lacks the proper authority to investigate ethics complaints, it also lacks the ability to discipline people for violations. POGO - the Project on Government Oversight - is urging Congress — specifically Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) — the respective Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — to expand the law so OGE has independent authority to investigate ethics complaints and issue corrective disciplinary actions for noncriminal violations. Here’s how you can help.

At his confirmation hearing, President Trump’s pick for deputy secretary of Interior told a Senate panel that the president’s political positions will be prioritized over the science when deciding agency policy -- such as drilling offshore or on public lands. 

For 6000 years, autocrats and oligarchs ruled badly because (being human) they suppressed facts. Their reign of error and terror ended when we found a better way, actually arguing and negotiating based on evidence. But the oligarchs are swarming back, financing a War on Science and every other fact-based profession.

This is life-or-death people. Look at the endless chain of horrors called "history," run by self--indulgent, cranky asshole-babies called "kings" and "lords" and owner aristocrats. Do you want that era back, but armed with atom bombs and genetic engineering?

The War on science is waged by enemies of your children. Stand up. Add your name to call out Trump's anti-science nominees on 314 Action.

== Boycotting madness and treason ==

Speaking of economics, many are riled enough to start using America’s inherent economic power against this era’s plantation lords. The economic weapon with potential immediate impact?  Boycotts.  Oh, but boycotting whom?

It seems easy to target Trump properties.  But all that will do is make the family sell hotel rooms to foreign governments and lobbyists even more unctuously than before -- and foreign purchases of U.S. hotel chains has been found to be directly related to industrial espionage, the stealing of trade secrets, and honeypot blackmail traps. (Be careful who you bring to your room, the walls have eyes and ears! And never let your electronics out of your sight.)  Still, have a look at the new "Boycott Trump App"  as well as the #GrabYourWallet list. And if he's your bette noir, then fine. 

But I am unimpressed with DT as a heroically evil figure. Far more hapless and now rather neutralized.

No, skip the symptom and go for the disease. It remains up to the nation to find some way to make the Fox News hypnosis model less profitable. Sure the boycott of Fox News advertisers is much, much harder for an average citizen than saying: “I won’t buy any Ivanka shoes or stay in a Trump Hotel!” Keeping track of a long list of Fox advertisers – and favoring their competitors – is far more taxing of time and inconvenience. 

Moreover, there’ll be times when you just have no other good choice. Or picking the alternative will make a real price difference. Or when it would mean dropping your gym or AARP membership. So?  Perfection and purity aren’t the aim!  What matters is overall movement.  

This could be your most powerful tool as an individual American – after voting and political activism and helping to keep your own state and locality above the sinking U.S. average. Especially if you form a little boycott club among Facebook friends and share lists and help each other to stick to a diet.

This could also extend to the gambling dens of Sheldon Adelson, who funneled $5 million to the Trump Inauguration, a fund that took in over a hundred million dollars in blatant bribes from oligarchs. Did this bother and of those who screamed about Clinton speaker fees, that were a thousand times smaller?

== A Great Hero? Not. But possible an American ==

Senator John McCain faces an especially aggressive and nasty form of cancer that's generally a death sentence. And this indeed, saddens me.

For all his many faults, John McCain is an adult and an American and not totally allergic to facts. In other words - not a confederate cultist deliberately helping to hijack U.S. conservatism. Oh, he has helped it happen, over and over. But at least he has rationalized reasons to believe he was doing the right thing. And on occasion, he has even spoken out against the madness, earning him plenty of ire.

Recall how Donald Trump mocked McCain with: “I like people who don’t get captured.” That’s just the tip. This Koch-ist shill decries John McCain for saying that Vladimir Putin is more dangerous than ISIS. But let’s be clear: Vladimir Putin - who I do admit and avow to be a genius — is organizing an "axis" of like-minded autocrats that stretches from Ankara, Damascus, Minsk and Tehran through its pivot in Moscow through the Altaic region to include now Manilla, with much friendly cooperation by Beijing.  

The shared narrative across this axis - that democracy is decadent and useless and dangerous and that the Western Enlightenment must be brought down - is now the core and driving philosophy promoted by the right-wing oligarchy in America, as well.  Given that this campaign has achieved a principal goal of discrediting -- in the eyes of 1/3 of Americans -- every single profession that deals in facts, from, science and journalism to the U.S. military Officer Corps...then yes, this foe is vastly, vastly more dangerous than ISIS.

Still, it comes down to this.  With little time left to accomplish anything, might John McCain gather together the 6 or 7 GOP senators who still view themselves as sapient and loyal Americans, and admit that their party is now pure treason?  If that core started a new, Adult American Responsible Conservative Party, millions would flock to their banners and McCain would go down in history as a great man.

I began this missive with a suggestion for some brave Democrats, to carefully and cleverly reach out to a flighty and terrified Donald Trump.  I finish with a desperate wish that a few Republicans - led by a man who should live up to his "hero" rep - to turn their backs upon that madness.


Zepp Jamieson said...

I should point out that there is an absolutely horrifying bill before the Senate, one that has 45 co-signers (including, shamefully, 13 Democrats) that criminalizes the action of calling for a boycott. This bill, S.720, if enacted, would made supporting such a boycott a violation of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 USC 1701) It's called the Israel Boycott Act, and it provides for fines ranging from $250,000 up to a million, and up to 20 years in federal prison for engaging in or advocating a boycott of Israeli exports.
And yes, I did go to the Congressional site itself ( https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/720/text ) to verify this, since paranoid loopy stories like this circulate endlessly around the web.

Kalon said...

In light of what's been happening with the ACA, what's happened with the Paris Accord, what's happened with the news that Trump is likely going to cancel the Iran deal, and some of the stories on Sessions and Mueller being fired - how sure are you now that the government has been child-proofed?

Don Hodges said...

Where could one find a list of say the Top 20 Fox advertisers?

Tony Fisk said...

McCain made it into the Senate chamber to vote *for* the motion to proceed with discussion of the ACA repeal.

Given that the only thing I can think of to describe the effects of the repeal is a coined word: 'demogracide' (democide?), I think the 'hero' label has worn off.

matthew said...

McCain has never deserved any of the credit he gets for being a "Maverick." He votes with his party 87% of the time. He thought Sarah Palin would be a good Vice President. He supported and voted for Trump, in the end. And now, he votes to kill tens of thousands of Americans.

He's an evil, evil man.

bruce said...

You can also choose to boycott any product made by Koch Industries (privately owned by the brothers Koch). The most obvious consumer products are made by Georgia-Pacific (Brawny paper towels and Angel Soft toilet paper and many more.) The full list is too extensive to put into this comment, and changes with time. Google is your friend for this kind of research.

Unknown said...

Ok. A friend of mine reads this blog and even comments. Based on his recommend, I gave it a legit try. This is my 3rd time reading it. I've gotta tell ya, it's no different than cnnmsnbcnytwapohp... and any number of other so-called "news" or opinion sites. That is to say, it's endless whining and clever but absurd connecting of dots.

Feel free to criticize this comment but realize that your response will be consumed by others but not by me because (dramatic pause here)...

I'm out.

David Brin said...

Oh! So impressed with A loony fact-hater's drive by neener!
Oh! Roll a save!

Don Hodges said...

Don't feed the troll, Dr. Brin.

LarryHart said...

Who wants to take odds that he'll be back, if only to go "No, really, this time I'm outta here!"?

LarryHart said...

Tony Fisk:

McCain made it into the Senate chamber to vote *for* the motion to proceed with discussion of the ACA repeal.

But he pinky-swears that he won't actually vote for a bill without "many changes". How much do you want to bet that he will if Mitch McConnell so orders?

I had some respect for the guy in 2000 and he got some of that back with his concession speech in 2008, but at this point, the most charitable interpretation is that he's a doddering old Alzheimer's patient who doesn't really know what he's doing. And at this point, "charitable" is not a feeling I have for any Republicans.

Jumper said...

For the record, someone should tell Trump that McCain is not considered a hero for getting shot down - he was known as a hotdog, after all - but because of his behavior and example to his men while he and they underwent torture in detainment. That Trump character is a real stupid toad.

Don't even get me started on Trump's disrespect for the Scout Law.

LarryHart said...

The real Thomas Jefferson--not the one in "Hamilton"--said something to the effect that a people cannot long remain both ignorant and free.

We are in the process of testing that hypothesis.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Still, it comes down to this. With little time left to accomplish anything, might John McCain gather together the 6 or 7 GOP senators who still view themselves as sapient and loyal Americans, and admit that their party is now pure treason? If that core started a new, Adult American Responsible Conservative Party, millions would flock to their banners and McCain would go down in history as a great man.

That might have been possible back this morning when you probably wrote the piece. I even considered ending my "summer daydream" post with "And then McCain could run as a Democrat and win by a landslide in 2020."

No longer. McCain in particular and Republicans in general have shown their colors this afternoon with the health care vote. They'll do whatever their leadership tells them to do. Nothing is more important than tax breaks and deregulation, with the possible exception of being mean to non-whites and liberals.

They will not bolt the party. They want Trump's voters and right-wing donor money. Nothing else matters. Nothing. My late uncle once complained about the movie "Schindler's List" because, as he put it, "There were no good Nazis." Today has demonstrated that there are no good Republicans.

Kalon said...

Note that as of this writing McCain has already voted yes on the bill that he said he could not vote for...6 hours ago.

So no, McCain might not do that.

Tony Fisk said...

Where could one find a list of say the Top 20 Fox advertisers?

I did a quick search and found the pickings rather meagre. There was one fairly comprehensive list, but it didn't indicate degree of patronage and, worse, was about 5 years old!

LarryHart said...

Tony Fisk:

"Where could one find a list of say the Top 20 Fox advertisers?"

I did a quick search and found the pickings rather meagre.

I was under the impression that it was all pitches for owning gold and those drug ads that tell you to "Ask your doctor if xxxx is right for you" without mentioning why you would want to do that.

Unknown said...

Dr. Brin, I believe you misunderstand Don's particular mania.

He doesn't just want to be flattered - he wants personal fealty. And if he doesn't get it, it doesn't matter how much you flatter him, he'll still throw you out the window.

Just ask Sessions.

Dominic said...

Sorry David, but John McCain will do what he's always done, say he's "deeply concerned" about what ever horrific deed, act or bill that is in front of him, and then like a good party member, do nothing or worse, vote for whatever is put in front of him. The "maverick" has been a loyal apparatchik since he 2008, if not before then.

Anonymous said...

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George Carty said...

Isn't talk radio an even more potent weapon in the right-wing propaganda arsenal than Fox News? Combating it will be difficult as the gullibility of its listeners makes it very profitable.

Commenter "njorl" on the Lawyers, Guns and Money blog (the original comment has been invisible since they switched to Disqus for comments) noted that while the ads on radio stations devoted to music or tend to be for "normal" stuff like cars, booze, music and local businesses, the ads on right-wing talk radio are for gold, supplements, reverse mortgages, for-profit colleges, and other scams.

Robert said...

I'm glad McCain called for making any new health care bill go through normal Congressional processes (open committee hearings, consideration of amendments, negotiations all round, involvement of Democrats, etc), and I hope that was his primary motive for voting to release the bill to the floor. At the same time, I'd keep an eye on his future votes; frankly, I expect to be unimpressed. And only a break of the level David proposed could atone for Sarah Palin; I don't expect it. What I do respect in him is his consistent stand against torture; it's the one issue he's held firm on, and if it's personal, all the better.

The defections by moderates and genuine conservatives have not been all that infrequent, especially among intellectuals with no institutional ties, but they haven't been organized. Prominent examples include Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Buckley, David Brooks, and (maybe) David Frum. Obscure examples include me, most of my family, and probably a couple of million others. Among politicians, a few governors, sitting and former, at least speak out fairly freely; John Kasich and last year's LP ticket come to mind.

As an example of what genuine conservatism is about, and why it has nothing to do with neo-Confederate radicalism, check out http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/the-triumph-of-obamas-long-game.html . To go in depth, try Rationalism in Politics and On Being Conservative by Michael Oakeshott.

Consider a couple of syllogisms:
A1. Conservatives value social stability.
A2. Extreme inequality undermines social stability.
A3. Therefore....
B1. Conservatives almost always abhor revolution.
B2. Increasing inequality leads to revolution.
B3. Therefore....
You get the idea.

Bob Pfeiffer.

Berial said...

When it comes to McCain I've notice this.

[] <--Imagine a set of 'WORDS' over there.
Now Imagine a set of 'ACTIONS' over here. --> []

That's how I view McCain. Those sets don't even overlap on a Venn Diagram. He occasionally says things I like, but almost always DOES (IE: Votes) in ways I don't.

Also do any of you actually listen to Scott Adams? I'll link his latest below. It's like listening to someone talk about another reality but still frightening in it's own way because some of what he say's actually comes true despite being totally bonkers.


Catfish N. Cod said...

1) The "Better Deal" is necessary but not sufficient. Yes, the Democrats have to make the case that they can deliver goods better than the Republicans. The propaganda that the Democrats stand only for elite interests is strong and must be countered, and Hillary did not sufficiently make that case (she had all the goods, but couldn't deliver them). But economics is not enough. It's not even close to enough.

2) I don't think the "Short Straw" gambit will work anymore. If it can't get Jeff Sessions any love, what hope has it for anyone else?

3) Those "bureaucrats" that are being maligned? One of the last bulwarks against pure autocracy. And ironically one of them is Jeff Sessions himself! A through-and-through law-and-order-at-any-cost good-ol'-boy, who was willing to expand the thoroughly detestable civil forfeiture procedure and permit literal highway robbery as long as he could crack some drug-dealer heads with it. And yet he recused himself... and is now Presidential Enemy #1 for having even such a thin shred of honor as that.

4) At this point I am ready to take OGE, the Congressional Ethics offices, the Inspectorate General, special/independent counsels, and FBI internal investigations, and create a semi-independent Department of Ethics. Or even go the same whole hog that the Taiwanese did and create a fourth branch of government. Something drastic is now necessary to restore public confidence.

5) I was inspired by McCain's speech yesterday... only to realize it was all empty words as he voted against everything he just spoke out for, five minutes before the speech. He could have forced the regular order he championed, but chose to let McConnell proceed instead. Maybe he thinks he's giving McConnell the rope to hang himself; it's the only alternative to brain damage or fecklessness I can come up with. Members of the GOP are still more loyal to themselves than to the forms of the Republic, and I fear more and more that they intend to replace both democracy and meritocracy (as flawed as they are) with a GOPocracy: a one-party state sustained by corruption, electoral manipulation, media control and nativism.

If it comes to that, I'm voting with my feet. I want to live in a state that still believes in the Enlightenment and knows that cronyism like this was exactly why we rebelled in the first place. Dr. Brin, I think you know which one I mean.

6) I keep listening to both sides... and I am more afraid than ever. Both sides are completely convinced that they are the one and only bearers of the true Spirit of '76. I know what happened the last time this was the case. I was in my hometown graveyard on Monday; and I saw the consequences.

Thousands of them. Row on row.

Be prepared.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Berial, could you be so kind as to summarize for those who can't see that video?

Berial said...


Basically you can get the gist from the title; "I tell you why president trump is on the verge of total victory"

Summery of Adams:
If you watch the news, Trump is on the verge of impeachment, no healthcare, doesn't seem to understand the difference between health and life insurance, his staff is in disarray etc. One problem after another.

But he (Adams) is predicting 'the turn', as summer winds down. The news will go from "He's incompetent! To "Well he's pretty effective", to "Complete Trump Victory".

He's predicting that the Republicans will get rid of Obamacare and then put up a "We're going to open up public debate about health insurance." or "We're setting up a website for the best ideas and we'll use those to make a market driven solution". This will (somehow) produce a total victory because in Adams words, "Something happened". The healthcare issue will 'go away' because they'll offer a solution "even if you don't like it".

After the 'healthcare' problem is 'solved' the Republicans will move on to Tax reform, which will be GREAT because that legislation will give us a Trump economic boom. They'll then cut down illegal immigration and everything will be GREAT!

Oh and likely to see the end of ISIS soon.

By the end of the year: Total Victory. Total proof they were 'right all along!'.

LarryHart said...


Also do any of you actually listen to Scott Adams? ... It's like listening to someone talk about another reality but still frightening in it's own way because some of what he say's actually comes true despite being totally bonkers.

I lost my cool with Scott Adams when he opined on the refugee issue that the decision to be made was if we are willing to accept 10 terrorists for every 10,000 Muslim refugees we let into the country (assuming that 0.1% of Muslims are terrorists). He was making the point that we could solve the terrorism problem by barring Muslims, that the choice not to do so is a moral one, and that that moral choice demands we accept a certain percentage of terrorism.

I'm not arguing with his math, but with the notion that the math applies only to Muslims. That we're not making a similar moral choice when (for example) we don't solve the daily mass-shooting problem by taking guns away from all white Christians.

Jumper said...

I'd argue with the math as well.

donzelion said...

Marino: (from yesterday) "my library is in fact a merger of three different formerly autonomous libraries with their own staff...The one I run personally is devoted to library and book sciences, archival science and palaeography."

Amazing! My mother earned her college degree in library science (as a student, she figured librarians ought to be among the safest jobs imaginable...but she always loved books). But it fits my fear about the plight of 'expertise' raised in that post: libraries with narrow offerings appeal to experts who know their value, while a general public grows increasingly disdainful, first abusing generalized 'community libraries' as 'child care facilities' - a service they're poorly designed to deliver...but I still hope students and experts may interact and form bonds through such a network.

As for your post on the imminent elections, thinking on the international stage, Italy's Berlusconi is to me perhaps the best precedent for Trump. The intriguing distinction to me is that you separate the LePenist reactionaries from the Berlusconites - there has been no unification between those blocs in Italy (as there has been in America)?

Phaedrusnailfile said...

Not to be contrarian, as I am genuinely curious, but can you be specific as to mass shootings carried out by white Christians. Of the top of my head I could only think of the incident in Norway a couple years back.

Phaedrusnailfile said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
locumranch said...

As usual, David resorts to the false dichotomy, arguing that any 'War on' (or dispute with) the 'fact-using professions' equals a 'War on Fact', even though fact-users & facts are non-equivalent concepts.

He would have you believe than any attack on any appropriately credentialed 'scientific' caste is an attack on Science itself -- which only goes to show what a disingenuous hypocrite he is -- as his ceaseless attacks on a democratically elected (but Republican dominated) US legislative & executive branch 'equals' an attack on US Democracy itself by his own illogic.

Yet, he persists in this divisive error, arguing that the scientific caste EQUALS science, much in the same way that the most mendacious medieval priest argued that the will of the priestly caste EQUALS the will of God, to much the same inevitable result, the eventual repudiation & destruction of both the medieval/religious & the modern/scientific priestly castes.

In both the EU & US, this equivocation between the scientist/priest & Science itself is a fatal mistake because the common people, no matter how ignorant, uneducated & subject to flattery you believe them to be, have heard all this faecal discharge before, and we will not stand for it.

Those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it, and David forgets that the feudal aristocrats he so despises once argued in much the same manner that David argues today:

They also claimed that they WERE the higher authority they represented.


David S said...

Shane, while not a shooting, how about the Oklahoma City bombing?

Here is a list of white extremist murders since 1995 in the US.


donzelion said...

Carl M: (from previous post) "The idea that a corporation has as its purpose to maximize financial gain for its shareholders was first articulated in Dodge v. Ford Motor Company in 1919."

As that post was on the death of expertise - and one of the major causes of that death is improper and imprecise usage of terms that experts know and use a certain way, I must quibble with you.

First, Dodge v. FMC (1919) stands for the proposition that when a company's executives make a business judgment about what is 'best' for the business, minority shareholders cannot override that judgment through the court IF the business judgment serves the financial interests of the company (in that case, Dodge brothers, who wanted to compete with Ford, sought to use their minority stake to induce Ford to raise prices on vehicles - claiming that they wanted to earn more dividends as a shareholder, but probably also wanting to make it easier to sell their own vehicles).

The idea of corporations to maximize gain for shareholders goes back at least as far as the Silk Road, where the concepts of corporation first evolved through caravan trade (from the Silk Road, then to the Mediterranean flows - then to the Catholic Church - and thence to Anglo/Dutch protestant alternatives).

"Over time, through both law and custom, the concept of “shareholder primacy” has come to be widely accepted."
True, but may not mean quite what you think it does.

"This point was recently reaffirmed by the case eBay Domestic Holdings, Inc. v. Craig Newmark, et al., 3705-CC, 61 (Del. Ch. 2010). , in which the Delaware Chancery Court stated that a non-financial mission that “seeks not to maximize the economic value of a for-profit Delaware corporation for the benefit of its stockholders” is inconsistent with directors’ fiduciary duties."
This is a more complex case than you are letting on, too complex to review here. But lets go back to your original premise and see if that reference point actually connects:

"As for those rascally MBAs, how much is due to laws that demand that management maximize profits?"

Very little, probably. Laws don't 'demand' management maximize profits, rather when a company treats a minority shareholder a certain way - then that company could be in a tough position to demonstrate it did so for legitimate 'business' reasons (rather than 'oppression') unless it can claim that doing so maximized profits or otherwise served the business.

These are not precisely the same thing. For comparison, a law that authorizes 'standing your ground' (or rescinds a normal 'duty to retreat') is NOT an instruction to go out and shoot anyone who seems threatening.

Phaedrusnailfile said...

David S. Thank you. I also thought about the Oklahoma City bombing as well as a couple of attacks on abortion doctors and providers in Kansas and Colorado.

Phaedrusnailfile said...

Most egregiously I forgot about the attack on the church in South Carolina.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: While I appreciate the sardonic concept of the 'Short Man Straw' gambit, I vehemently disagree with this - "We are betrayed by those who refuse to use this! It could save all our lives."

When dealing with a tyrant that has amassed overwhelming power of life and death, there is a time and place for such efforts: one does what one must because there is no choice. But there is a price for such gambits: when a person publicly shows himself to flatter a narcissist powermonger, many of those who would otherwise unite behind that person will now look elsewhere for someone 'stronger' to resist. A resistance is only as strong as it appears to be among those who are at the margins of actually joining it - so long as that strength is growing, resistance grows with it.

Boycotting Fox News advertisers is a much, much better choice. One angle that you might consider with your boycott club: have you never been in a restaurant, a store, or other outlet where FoxNews was blaring from the TV screen? If a store is blaring it, either the owner or an employee wants to see it as 'background noise' - OR they are trying to appeal to FoxNews watchers, who need their hourly fix to maintain a persistent rage quota. In some cases (e.g., nation-wide franchise restaurants), it's actually contractually arranged. If so, asking the place, 'hey, why is that garbage on TV?' - and then leaving if it's not changed will do more direct harm to the Fox effort than opting out of the next Mercedes Benz.

LarryHart said...

Shane Mallatt:

Not to be contrarian, as I am genuinely curious, but can you be specific as to mass shootings carried out by white Christians. Of the top of my head I could only think of the incident in Norway a couple years back.

You're not in the US, are you? :)

Just off the top of my head...

The school shooting at Newtown, Connecticut.

The guy who shot up a Planned Parenthood in Colorado shouting "Save the babies!"

The guy in South Carolina who shot up a church in order to start a race war

The neo-Nazi who killed a Northwestern basketball coach in Evanston, drove through the Jewish suburb of Skokie shooting random people, drove down to the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana shooting at interracial couples, and when finally about to be cornered by police on the highway, attempted to shoot himself in the brain, but missed.

I mean, there are several famous examples, but I do remember that by some time in December 2015, there had been 355 mass shootings in the US that year, and something like a whole two of them were done by Muslims. I'm assuming that many if not all of the rest were done by white Christians.

Now, if you're going to argue that they might have happened to be white Christians, but that has nothing to do with the object of their shooting rampages, you're arguing for my point, not against it. My beef with Scott Adams was that he acted as if letting Muslims into the country was a unique situation in which mathematical odds had to be weighed against possible outcomes. I'm saying that if you disarmed all white Christians, we'd have exponentially fewer mass-shootings. There are reasons we don't do so: The Second Amendment as well as not tarring arbitrary members of a group for special restrictions. I'm not saying we could or should disarm all white Christians. I'm saying that if we did so, it would save a lot of people from mass shootings. By the exact same reasoning Scott Adams used with respect to Muslim refugees.

Phaedrusnailfile said...

Larry Hart thanks for the clarification. I actually was just curious. When I thought about it I realized I was falling into the no true Scotsman fallacy without even being consciously aware that I was doing it.

David Brin said...

No, poor locum, your attempt to dichotomize by claiming that I dichotomize is loopy. It would have been valid, had I declared that an attack on ANY scientist is an attack on science. But in fact, scientists are extremely diverse and spend most of their time attacking and probing at each other. The behavior is that of competitive adults in the kinds of markets that conservatives used to claim to - but never did — support.

No, what I will avow is that full frontal assault against ALL practitioners of science - as a human category that’s despised because they know science - truly is an assault against science.

Moreover, his cult’s full frontal assault against ALL practitioners of ALL fact based professions truly is an assault against fact. The pattern is perfect, complete and irrefutable.

Only notice this! He and his raving cult offer no alternative approaches to fact! Nothing like: “You might be wrong and I might be wrong, so let’s find evidence based ways to find out which.”

They offer no alternatives because they know that any such path that is chosen will wind up torching almost every single thing that they rave. Hence, while screeching hate at all the current fact-checkers, they never offer a model for fact-checking that might satisfy them.

Facts are their enemies.

LarryHart said...

Dr Brin:

Facts are their enemies.

Yes, but they're winning. Facts are losing.

Berial said...


That's because:

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."

locumranch said...

As Berial mentions, it is the progressive who is full of passionate intensity rather than locum-like indifference.

And, as Larry_H & Shane_M mention, the so-called 'facts' have already lost because nobody remembers that it was mostly Leftist groups -- such as the Weather Underground, Red Dawn, Shining Path, PLO, SLA & JDL-- who were uniformly responsible for 'The Golden Age of Terrorism' during the 1970s.


Such facts are always inconvenient to our squirrel-minded progressive contingent, mostly because actual facts tend to nullify their self-righteous but historically inaccurate social narrative.

This is especially clear when our host goes 'double-down' on his factual inaccuracies by (first) refusing to deny that he equates fact-users with facts, while (second) confirming his belief that an "assault against ALL practitioners of ALL fact based professions truly is an assault against fact".

He even makes the rather ridiculous assertion that it is the scientist, rather than the much maligned conservative 'cult', that "spend(s) most of their time attacking and probing at each other" (as in the case of a '97% consensus' on climate change science?? NOT!!!), perpetuating a pattern of self-delusion that represents "perfect, complete and irrefutable" projection.


Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart | Yes, but they're winning. Facts are losing.

Nah. Not yet.

There has always been a clade that objects to facts.

I think you are seeing them engage in a desperate fight for survival because they are losing in the long run.

Steady your heart.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch | You obviously have not lived among scientists. You would know how dumb your words sound if you had.

It's not just scientists who attack and probe at each other though. I'm watching a fight among economists who intend to defend Buchanan against MacLean right now. She is being academically assaulted right now. It's an impressive display if you know where to look for it. Do you know how?

Jumper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David Brin said...

Jiminy Christmas! Trump is being told to tone it down by... Kenneth Star! The fellow who raked dead and nonexistent coals seeking even a glimmer to torch the Clintons, found nothing after half a billion dollars, and so messed our heads that Congress canceled the Special Prosecutor Law under which he had his job... leaving us almost defenseless when a Trump came along. Yes... THAT Kenneth Star. Jeez and we should listen to the likes of you. sir?


David Brin said...

locum's latest consists of "no I'm not, you are!"

Again, offer a method or approach that would set up a fact-checking service whose rulings you would accept... and no quibbling over the word "rulings." Facts refute! In markets, science, courts and in wagers. And your cult is terrified that we'll wise up and start demanding bets.

Jumper said...

I will agree but not listen.


Can we build a robot powered on whisky? Hybrid, like a diesel-electric power train, but burning a belly full of grain alcohol? Would its range be good enough? How long would it last doing chores before it needed more whisky? If a hooligan knocked it down could it easily simply get up into its normal bipedal stance? Could it transition from a somersault into a soft-shoe routine smoothly? Could we get it to speak like Sean Connery?

Jumper said...

"I will agree but not listen."
To Starr, i.e.

Jumper said...


I never realized I was channeling a damaged mind so much like locumranch's.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Jumper, we already have Bender.

Tony Fisk said...


[Facts are their enemies.]

Yes, but they're winning. Facts are losing.

I have long maintained that appeals to reason are your shield wall. It is the appeal to emotion that provides the long pointy things to stick people with (eg the resident's ongoing snark attacks on illegal immigrants, folk scouts, and trans-military.). Yes, the enlightenment needs to sharpen up a few emotive blades, but not abandon their defences.

That said, I was entertained by recent accounts of PhD candidates at one University having to (symbolically) defend their thesis by swordplay.

Phaedrusnailfile said...

Berial thanks for the Yeats. I have seriously lapsed in my appreciation for poetry and your quote inspired me to go back and read a few of my favorites. Cheers.

Berial said...


I'm from the government and I'm here to help.

(Seriously. Am happy anything I post actually helps anyone.)

raito said...

Looks like this is relevant here:


And the original:


The subtitle of the PEW article is:
"Republicans increasingly say colleges have negative impact on U.S."

Paul SB said...

William Butler Yeats said:

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."

- In the aftermath of the First World War, it comes as no surprise that Armageddon would come to mind for many people. It makes me think of the Jehovah's Witness prophecy that the End of Days would come when the last survivors of WW I have passed. Tough luck on that one, but religions are like people in the sense that when their beliefs become untenable they simply adapt their beliefs to maintain them, rather than questioning the validity of those beliefs (and thus it is with locum, who has become the site jester).

I don't think there is a lack of conviction on the part of the best, just a lack of power to change the backward slide. But the second part of that is certainly true. Dunning-Krueger raises its ugly head yet again.

Raito, there is a sense in which Republicans are right, but it's not the sense they think. Educators talk about something called "educational inflation" - or I should say, they talk about it when they are in college getting their licenses, but once they are at work, bringing this up is seen as tantamount to saying they don't care about their students. We want all of them to go to college and get a good education, but what happens to the value of a college education when everyone has one? Simple supply and demand. IMHO the problem is how American culture teaches us that every one of us should have absolutely anything and everything. At one time ice cream was a treat only the wealthiest could afford, a joy reserved to kings and robber barons. Now anyone can get as much cheap, low-quality ice cream as they want, and diabetes beckons, because they believe they should want it every day. I'm not saying college education is bad, like the ignorati, but like anything else, too much of a good thing ...

Alfred, in the last thread you suggested that I might be one of those golden eggs. Well, I get what you were saying, but I find that very doubtful. It's possible that, in my years of ministering the spoiled poor kids in neighborhoods filled with hate and despair, I might have influenced a few to strive and make something of their lives better than the bitter sub-mediocrity most of them aim for. Maybe some will succeed, too. But so far I doubt I have had enough impact to reach gold status - likely more patina-covered copper. It's doubtful many of us here, besides our host, have even a prayer of making golden egg status. Too much stands in our way, and we are but eggs, as it were.

Darrell E said...

Paul SB said...

"We want all of them to go to college and get a good education, but what happens to the value of a college education when everyone has one? Simple supply and demand."

"I'm not saying college education is bad, like the ignorati, but like anything else, too much of a good thing ..."

I'm not sure I understand correctly what you mean to say, but I think I disagree a bit. Generally speaking I don't think that too many people having a good college education has any downside. Sure, there are economies to consider but I mean in principle. The problem I see is that more and more of the college educations people are getting are not good ones. College education has become a major money maker for certain players and the system has been gamed. It's been gamed so that you need a college education these days just to flip burgers and universities have degree programs for everything, much of which should really be handled at a technical school level or learned on the job.

A necessity has been artificially created and lots of mostly lower quality goods are produced to take advantage of it. College has become a money making business rather than an education business.

But if everyone who wanted it had a good college education that did not leave them in serious debt, whether they really needed it for their job or not? I don't see any downside to that at all. Well, except that that is a fantasy that may never come to reality.

Berial said...

I think the leap in college cost predated the event but I'd really like to see a curve of college cost growth after 2005 when the Republicans changed the bankruptcy laws. They made it where you cannot discharge your college loans. THAT meant that the finance guys saw guaranteed $$.

If these kids can NEVER default this debt, then its one of the surest bet for interest bearing loans. And sure enough the financial system can't WAIT to give as much as these kid can borrow. If the kids are getting plenty of cash to pay for school the schools start upping their cost for all sorts of reasons both ethical and not so ethical. It becomes a huge money making scheme bilking the next generation of students and I doubt it's going to be stopped anytime soon because Wall Street pays BOTH parties to keep this grift going.

Jumper said...

I distrust many surveys for pumping up an appearance of discontent by phrasing of the questiona and allowable responses. "Do universities have bad effects?" is "yes" but "Do universities have overall bad effects?" is "hell no are you nutz?"

Jumper said...

What happened to the idea that education makes better citizens? Issues of the costs of university, and seeing too many misplaced expectations and missed opportunities while within the institution, have dulled that reason?

A.F. Rey said...

...as in the case of a '97% consensus' on climate change science?? NOT!!!...

I've always been curious, locumranch, when someone disputes the 97% claim, then what the hell do you think it is?

95%? 90%? 80%? It must be over 50%, since there are several professional organizations that affirm climate change. So what is it?

Since you are so certain that it is not 97%, you must have some idea about what percentage of climate scientists believe in it. So what is the real percentage? And how do you know?

Fact-based minds want to know.

Paul SB said...


A lot of what you are saying here makes my point, so I think it's more a matter of a failure to communicate on my part than disagreement on yours. I think I have made these points here before, but probably some time ago. Needing a degree to flip burgers (there is an actual In'N'Out University - I kid you not) is exactly what the education researchers were saying 2 decades ago. That's exactly what educational inflation is about. But I see it as being as much about American culture. You mentioned trade schools, but to most people here going to a trade school is like you are falling back and punting. We see trade schools as something unworthy, and people who attend them as slackers who can't handle a real school. Contrast that with Europe, where going to Arbeitschule is honorable enough, and people get that the world needs more plumbers and electricians than it needs doctors of philosophy. Universität is for eggheads (like me) who want to make their contribution to society by adding to its bas elf knowledge. Society needs both of these kinds of people, but American culture is so hyper-competitive and so focused on prestige and individual aggrandizement that we want everyone to have a college education (with the exception of those 1%ers who want all education reserved for their own children). That's how you end up with left-wing proposals like free college education for everyone, a proposal that will both bankrupt the government and accelerate the problem of educational inflation. Berkeley is kind of ground zero for this, where you can hire people who had PhDs in Russian Literature to build a deck for your home.

Another unintended consequence here is the generation of massive resentment that leads to huge numbers of people who lack the financial resources to denigrate education entirely. Products of our inhuman public education system, which treats them like products on an assembly line instead of children, form negative identity complexes, learn to distrust all institutions of society and race to the bottom in a reversal of standard competitive emulation. This is how you end up with large enough numbers of people who are stupid enough to fall for obvious charlatans and not only buy their bullshit but elect them to office to get where we are today. In Europe people don't look down their noses at you if you went to a trade school, they look down their noses at you if you practice your trade badly.

You and Berial both point to the financial scam aspect of American higher education, and you are both absolutely right. Once again, though, I think there are aspects of cultural expectations that drive this kind of behavior.

Catfish N. Cod said...

To hell with 'consensus'. If you don't know WHY so many scientists agree, you can do like locum and start believing it's a cult or conspiracy or plot or bribery or whatever base and selfish mechanism your worst nightmares conjure.

97% is a pointless number.

What matters is WHY scientists agree. And why do they agree?

Because a SERIOUS, COMMITTED, but HONEST SKEPTIC can be presented the data, and the methods, and the refutations of the complaints and the quibbles and the caveats and the limitations...

... and they will emerge to say "I don't like to admit it. I didn't want it to be true. But there's no other way I can explain all these findings, so many different pieces of consistent evidence, such variety of methods giving the same answers."

This has been done. Several times.

But the argument I have had the most success with, time and again, has been to forget the temperature arguments entirely. THE SEAS ARE RISING. And the rise is accelerating. It's so much easier to explain, so much harder to refute. The ice is melting and the water is expanding, and the streets of Miami Beach and the beaches of Louisiana go under. Anyone can see with their eyes, and believe.

And that is enough.

Paul SB said...

A.F. Rey,

I think loco's point was not that the number isn't really 97%, but that 97% consensus represents a conspiracy - pretty conventional Limbaugh/Beck/Hannity spew. Of course a conspiracy that consists of hundreds of millions of people all over the world, of numerous religious, ethnic, national or whatever other social identities we care to name, is a wee bit unbelievable/ridiculous/paranoid in the extreme. It's part and parcel of both witless conformity and the amazing ability of people to twist logic to their whims. Start from enough false premises and you can prove that black is white and get run over at the next zebra crossing.

LarryHart said...

Darrell E:

But if everyone who wanted it had a good college education that did not leave them in serious debt, whether they really needed it for their job or not? I don't see any downside to that at all. Well, except that that is a fantasy that may never come to reality.

I think Paul was referring to economic value. Remember how the Milton Bradley board game "The Game of Life" worked? A college degree has up-front costs, but enables more wealth in the long run. More than enough to make up for the initial investment. Paul is arguing (and I don't disagree) that the economic value--the payoff--for having a college degree is becoming less through ubiquity. Instead of getting you ahead, a college degree now just keeps you from falling behind. You still need it, but it may not justify its own cost.

In the terms that you were talking about--a college degree for the sake of being educated--you and I see no downside, but remember that Republicans do. The downside is that educated people tend not to vote Republican.

David Brin said...

I offered my own decryption of the difference between an honest Skeptic of a scientific consensus... in this case climate change... and members of the denialist cult.

Here it is:

I have also put up a new posting... so...



LarryHart said...


What happened to the idea that education makes better citizens?

Same as above. Republicans have taken not that better citizens don't vote for them.

LarryHart said...



George Carty said...

What are your thoughts on the UK's Stop Funding Hate campaign, which sprung up in the aftermath of last year's Brexit vote?

While right-wing propaganda in the United States is delivered mainly by electronic media (Fox News and talk radio), in the UK it is dominated by printed newspapers, particularly the (Murdoch-owned) Sun, the Daily Mail, and the Daily Express. The aim of Stop Funding Hate is to defund these newspapers (widely blamed for Brexit's victory) by discouraging major corporations from advertising with them.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Threats against advertisers of hate merchants has some success in the States. It drove Bill O'Reilly off the air, along with Glenn Beck, and it reduced Rush Limbaugh to just some noisy crackpot on flyover AM radio.