Sunday, July 29, 2018

The True Founder of our Revolution - Summing up.

If I seem repetitive, it's because some crucial points keep not being made, in the fight over where to steer civilization. 

Sure, moral issues -- like a narcissistic toddler who steals thousands of children -- belong front and center. But they cannot be the only battle front. Because confederates have been schooled to shrug aside moral arguments.

"While sappy-socialist liberals preach, we are the pragmatic competitors who innovate and invest and make America rich!"  By styling themselves as defenders of enterprise and creative markets, oligarchs offer a rhetoric that attracts populist fervor from hardworking farmers and auto mechanics, who know that life is -- and at some level should be -- highly competitive. 

By ceding this ground to the New Lords, liberals make their worst mistake. Because liberalism is justifiable in practical terms! In the health of creative markets. In terms of measurable outcomes. In the general, rising good of all. And especially in keeping faith with the Great Experiment of Freedom...

... and one of its principal founders: Adam Smith.

== A Great Rediscovery ==

The Financial Times (U.K.) is so vastly better than any of its largely lobotomized (or else oligarchy-suborned) U.S. equivalents. A recently published essay - How Adam Smith would fix capitalism - summons what I’ve pushed for years — a rediscovery of this co-founder — along with Franklin and those Americans — of our great, Periclean experiment. Writer Jesse Norman (a British Member of Parliament) gets Smith, showing that the author of The Theory of Moral Sentiments was a deeply caring man, who wanted a balanced use of market forces to benefit everyone, truly raising all boats. 

Yes, Smith extolled the unmatched creative power of competition. But the author of The Wealth of Nations, gazed across 6000 years of wretched history and drew a clear conclusion — that humans who gain undue power tend to use it to cheat. To warp markets until they no longer function. 

We forget that the actual Boston Tea Party, and the American Revolution, were against a king and his crony oligarchs who commanded that all commerce pass through their docks, paying extortion to lordly monopolists on everything from paper to porcelain, rents that they never earned. The very cheating Adam Smith denounced… and the very opposite lesson of today’s raving “tea-party” confederates.

Those betraying Smith are the ones who most-often claim to extol him, yet do everything in their power to enhance cheating by today’s oligarchs. Says Jesse Norman: 

“…what matters is not the largely empty rhetoric of “free markets”, but the reality of effective competition. And effective competition requires mechanisms that force companies to internalise their own costs and not push them on to others, that bear down on crony capitalism, rent extraction, “insider” vs “outsider” asymmetries of information and power, and political lobbying.”

To Norman’s list, I would add two more vital ways that liberal “market meddling” is highly justifiable in Smithian terms:

1. Adjusting market forces to incorporate “externalities” like the good of our posterity, our grandchildren and the ecosystem they’ll depend upon. Adam Smith wrote repeatedly that a society’s values can legitimately be emphasized, so long as the resulting strictures (e.g. tobacco or carbon taxes) are simple, fair, consistent and not another excuse for cheating. 

2. Stop wasting talent. A nation that chooses to maximize the feedstock of confident, skilled, joyfully ready competitors is one that will maximize the effectiveness of markets. And hence it is a society that invests in children, in education and health and civil rights, maximizing opportunity without meddling overmuch in equalizing outcomes.  Even the doyen of conservative (not-fascist) economics -- Friedrich Hayek -- conceded this point.

Norman makes clear that this is a matter of survival for any system that seeks the immense benefits of flat-fair-open market accountability: 
     “This is a complex and nuanced message, as befits our ever more complex world. It is threatening enough to current orthodoxies that many on all sides, libertarian and socialist, will resist it. Properly understood, however, these Smithian ideas remain absolutely fundamental to any attempt to defend, reform or renew the market system.”

Now, for a shocker that should not surprise. Jesse Norman is the Conservative Party MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire, and the author of a biography of Edmund Burke: The First Conservative.  And clearly, the word “conservative” has an older, better meaning, over there. He has a new book out in September: Adam Smith: Father of Economics.

== The rediscovery continues ==

Evonomics is back on high octane. Jonathan Haidt begins a series called 'Darwin's business' that starts by appraising the CEO of Sears, whose management approach - modeled on Ayn Rand - has taken an American giant and corporate icon to the verge of utter collapse. Also, Peter Turchin asks whether morality can apply to capitalism. 

Ironies abound. For example, Sears earlier (1992) abandoned its 140 year old mail order business at the very moment the first online stores set up on the Web. Can you believe that coincidence? Sears had been poised to own it all... to be Amazon-squared... and threw it all away! 

But the deeper irony in these two articles is simpler. It is only on a liberal site like Evonomics that you find bright folks talking seriously about Adam Smith, and whether it might be possible to rescue market competitive enterprise from its worst enemies across 6000 years...

...not 'socialists,' but cheaters and shortsighted fools.

Alas, liberals are supposed to be the smart ones, on this side of the Atlantic. But you’ll not find one in a hundred who know that their entire movement had a few fathers other than ol’ Ben Franklin and that crew.  And number one on that list was Adam Smith. Reclaim him.

== The roots of the Confederate Counter-Attack ==

I’ve somewhat famously - or infamously - called our present predicament “Phase 8” of an American Civil war that has recurred since 1778, when General Cornwallis knew he would find more romantics loyal to King and Lords, down south. Later, the plantation/slave-owning caste filled the top niche that all-too easily plunges into cheating, while crushing fair competition - the same corrupt modality that Adam Smith denounced.

What about the “Greatest Generation” (GG) that overcame the First Depression, smashed Hitler, contained communism, built American science, got us to the moon, and crafted the greatest middle class in history? Is that “when America was great?" (Ask that question incessantly!)

You mean back then the GG's favorite living human was FDR? In that era of strong unions and spectacular economic growth — when the great push to reform our racial and gender and other blindnesses began? When we achieved a social structure (for white males at first, but then others) flatter than any ever known.  Markets were regulated to keep competition flat, and the results were inarguable.

Except there were a few arguing for a return older ways. Based upon a core germ of truth — that government regulation can sometimes become cloying or stifling -- they began a cult that grew to declare evil any and all regulation to keep competition flat or fair…  a cult filled with incantations of loathing against the Greatest Generation’s methods for controlling cheating.

I’ve spoken of Milton Friedman, whose incantations led to the shrinking of corporate ROI (Return on Investment) horizons from ten years to today’s ten weeks. But in a truly scary article, Lynn Parramore describes historian Nancy MacLean’s book - Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America - about Nobel laureate James Buchanan, “who is the intellectual linchpin of the Koch-funded attack on democratic institutions.” 

In works like Property as a Guarantor of Liberty (1993).  Buchanan saw society as a cutthroat realm of makers (entrepreneurs) constantly under siege by takers (everybody else) His own language was often more stark, warning the alleged “prey” of “parasites” and “predators” out to fleece them.

Never mind that feudalism -- (rule by the owner caste) -- had 6000 years to prove its case, and exactly zero examples of good governance. What Buchanan illustrates is the way that aristocrats and their paid priests have suborned our natural, libertarian instincts, so that today hardly any libertarians ever even mention Smith’s core notion of flat-fair competition -- the "C-Word" -- anymore, parroting instead Buchanan’s (and Pharaoh’s) worship of the word, “property.”

Adam Smith saw human beings as self-interested and hungry for personal power and material comfort, but he also acknowledged social instincts like compassion and fairness. Buchanan, in contrast, insisted that people were primarily driven by venal self-interest.”

If you have time, look at this essay and realize how long we have been complacent about this counter-attack by the old enemy of human freedom and creativity and happiness, a cabal of zero-sum fools who will win nothing, if they succeed in this oligarchic putsch.

Nothing but a ride in tumbrels.

 == Aaaaand... more about... Adam Smith...

I wrote a lot about this fellow, who liberals should rediscover and embrace, in order to free him from the right wingers and libertarians who always, always misquote and betray him.  Well, since OpenSalon dumped my work, let me offer a few quotations here, and a link to 
Blogging Adam Smith. Or actually read Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, a book that any politically-minded person should know, top to bottom. (See where I tie in Adam Smith with Hari Seldon and Isaac Asimov!) 

Start with what could be a slogan for liberalism.

No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable.” 

The whole tenor of this next passage would, or should, outrage any Ayn Rand cultist. Smith certainly didn’t take the view that the important agents of capitalism were CEOs or even inventors.

“Observe the accommodation of the most common artificer or day-labourer in a civilized and thriving country, and you will perceive that the number of people whose industry a part, though a small part, has been employed in procuring him this accommodation, exceeds all computation.”

Then there is the natural trend, described by Marx, for industries to drift into monopoly or conspiratorial duopoly, a trend that our parents and grandparents wisely fought down under both Roosevelts.

“The monopolists, by keeping the market constantly understocked... sell their commodities much above the natural price... The price of monopoly is upon every occasion the highest which can be got. The natural price, or the price of free competition, on the contrary, is the lowest which can be taken....”

And another passage skipped over by the libertarians: “We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters [cartels]; though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labour....” 

Modern context? See how Robert Reich explains the “Monopolization of America.” And be outraged that the Boomers let slide the wisdom of their parents and grandparents who adored Roosevelts for good reasons. (And why can't we find one?)

== Choose a side, libertarians ==

Finally, what all of this comes down to is a tactic for this civil war. Again and again I will remind you it is worthwhile ministering to libertarians! 

They share with you a central reflex -- Suspicion of Authority (SoA) -- though clever oligarchs have spent gushers to divert the movement away from ever casting that suspicious eye on them! 

Cozened into defending property at all cost, and forgetting the word competition, most of the libertarian movement is currently under complete control by those who bought and paid for it – Steve Forbes, the Kochs, and the lords’ wholly-owned propaganda arm, the Cato Institute.

It’s a pity! Libertarians – were they to learn from their endless failures at both election and prediction – might become a real force on the landscape of both ideas and political reform.  No one is asking them to stop questioning Big Government!  But to recognize a core historical fact:  that monopoly and feudal oligarchies have destroyed more glimmering eras of freedom and market creativity than all the government bureaucrats who ever lived.

Minister to them! They share so many of your basic, impudent, pro-freedom instincts. (See this FB group for "Cyber-Libertarian Democrats.") Tell your libertarian friends: 

"Stop letting the worst enemies of freedom bribe you into only hating on a secondary foe! The original American Revolution was not hatred of “government,” but a king and his cronies who used a gerrymandered Parliament to pass laws favoring the owner-lord aristocracy, forcing all American commerce through their ports and wharves, buying from their monopolies. Do fight to keep the hand of government regulation light! But also fight to keep the hands of oligarchy off of our republic."

Cite a fellow who no libertarian ever reads anymore, so much wiser and smarter and more effective than Ayn bloody Rand that they aren’t arguably the same species.


«Oldest   ‹Older   201 – 226 of 226
Larry Hart said...


I believe donzelion was talking about literally burning at the stake.

You have a ridiculous definition of "unsupportable ALLEGATION".

"The Crucible" was always intended as a work of contemporary non-fiction, describing the McCarthy era during which it was written using seventeenth century Salem as a metaphor.

Jon S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon S. said...

(Sorry, needed to clarify a few things.)

Donzelion, there was a certain correlation between homosexuality and mutants in the early X-Men movies, notably the bit where Warren cut his wings off to appear "normal" and the line from Bobby's mother: "Have you tried not being a mutant?"

When the X-Men were originally conceived in comics, they presented mutant powers as kind of an allegory for puberty - you hit your teens, and suddenly your body is changing in strange ways and doing weird things it never did before. In the case of mutants, it was things like growing functional wings and shooting lasers out of your eyes, but it was very similar in basic concept. Later, the civil-rights movement became modeled in the pages, with the rift between Prof. Xavier and his old friend Erik "Magneto" Lensherr portrayed in a fashion similar in concept to the division between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X.

As for the New U discussion: Yes, that was an attempt at Marvel to show a more realistic world, with a more realistic reaction to people suddenly getting superpowers. (The origin had to do with an ancient alien device called the Star Brand; its possessor is granted pretty much infinite power, although that power is still being channeled through a finite human mind so you won't literally become a god. And if you tire of it, the only way to get rid of it is to give it to another living being, as inanimate objects can't contain it. The White Event, that caused powers to come into existence, was the result of the Brand's previous owner, a 16th-century Dutch nobleman, trying to put it onto a passing asteroid. Another catch is that even after passing the Brand on, you still have 10% of the infinite power you had before. Does a number on your head, apparently.) For instance, the Star Brand once tried to lift a sinking cruise liner, and almost broke it in half when he tried it Superman-style. And most of the newly-empowered in the US found themselves being drafted into a new Army unit.

The nuking was just the city of Pittsburgh, but to a depth of some 40 miles into the crust of the Earth. The Brand's then-current possessor tried to put the power into an old barbell, and thought that flying ten miles above the city would be plenty. That was referred to in-universe as the Black Event, and anyone who already had powers but was exposed to this saw their powers change, sometimes increasing.

That wound up being fun for me because all of this came out while I was working as a software engineer at SAC HQ at Offutt AFB, working on Force Timing & Deconfliction (making sure that in the event of all-out nuclear war, our weapons would reach their targets before blowing up, and without damaging any of our other weapons - you'd be amazed at what can set a nuke off once it's been armed!). I started having nightmares where one of my programs was bugged and as a result somehow started WW3. (It wasn't really a good job for someone who could emotionally understand the meaning of the term "megadeaths".) After the Black Event, one super, whose power was that he had been rendered immaterial and was forced to witness major events, was drawn to the Pitt - where the ghosts of those who died attacked him, somehow able to do him physical damage. So that became part of the nightmare too - the people who died in the nuclear fires came after me. Fun times!

(It's okay now - my wife tells me I haven't started reciting encoded targeting data in my sleep, a precursor to that particular nightmare, since around 2003 or so. And while I do wake up sweaty sometimes, I think that's just because I like a heavy blanket.)

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

For instance, the Star Brand once tried to lift a sinking cruise liner, and almost broke it in half when he tried it Superman-style. And most of the newly-empowered in the US found themselves being drafted into a new Army unit.

Caveat emptor, not only did I never buy or read a New Universe book, I intentionally avoided them. But I was in a comics club in college and couldn't help overhearing some things that were going on.

IIRC, "Star Brand" was written by John Byrne, who had hankered to write Superman and was just about to go to DC to do just that. One of Byrne's personal bugaboos was that Superman couldn't really lift huge objects like buildings without them falling apart. When he did write Superman, he made clear that something else was going on--that Superman negated gravity on objects he was lifting or some such. So I'm sure the scene you describe was his way of saying, "This is what would really happen if someone (other than Superman) tried this."

The nuking was just the city of Pittsburgh, but to a depth of some 40 miles into the crust of the Earth.

Again, this is only second-hand knowledge, but my impression was that the original concept of the New Universe was to actually make it seem like it was taking place in the real world. So Jim Shooter dictated that nothing permanent could happen in the stories that would make it impossible to reconcile with reality. After a few months, that dictum turned out to be unworkable as far as writing superhero fiction went, and the powers that be understood that they couldn't keep up the conceit. So they decided to go the exact opposite way and have an event that shouted to the heavens, "This is NOT the real world anymore. What ever made you think it was in the first place???" Hence the obliteration of Pittsburgh.

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. Okay. You guys remember the New Universe stuff better than I do. You've got it, though. That's the story set I was mis-remembering. (It WAS a while ago and I don't have copies of those books anymore.)

Blowing a 40 mile hole into the crust of the Earth might as well nuke half the planet. The secondary damage would be profound. There should have been a rain of fire and super-heating of the upper atmosphere torching anything on the ground underneath it. The dinosaurs were killed off by an event of a roughly similar scale.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | Most 'moral law' is akin to 'traffic law'

Sounds like I’m not communicating what I mean. We don’t hang people for driving on the wrong side of the road. We hang them for killing people if they choose to drive on the wrong side of the road knowing what can happen. Well… driving on sidewalks might be closer… and we don’t’ really hang them anymore. That gets to your ‘reckless’ term which has to be interpreted by juries, right? Juries retain the power to convict in lots of these situations.

From where I sit (no legal education obviously) moral law might start as traffic law in the sense that it emerges, but our responses are different. I don’t care if someone drives on the wrong side of the road. I care if they kill people. I don’t care if someone keeps two sets of books. I care if they defraud people.

When y’all want to add behaviors to the list of ‘cheats’, this matters. I might agree with the statement ‘Behavior X is immoral’, but without a large consensus, I’m not inclined to support legislation criminalizing it. I might even avoid support of turning X into an infraction. If too many disagree with the statement, enforcing it risks becoming another Prohibition effort.

There is an example of this from Theodore Roosevelts era in NY when he enforced certain laws requiring the closing of saloons on Sunday. He actually disagreed with the law, but it was on the books and cops were being paid to look the other way. Obviously the law lacked consensus support, but the support it did have was all about morality. Did they try to impose ‘traffic law’ upon NY? Nah. They tried to impose their morals on immigrants who weren’t convinced. Didn’t work in the long run and they wound up making a mockery of The Rule of Law.

I am FOR undermining cheating methods, but I think we need a decent process for deciding what IS a cheat and a way to measure how much support each statement has. Whether we legislate should depend on the magnitude of that support.

David Brin said...

Sociotard: “That's four and four.”

Jeez, you actually did that… you actually actually did that? With a straight face? Seriously? And you see nothing wrong. Oh gawd. In at least half a dozen ways. Crum.

It is similar to - though blissfully shorter than the following strawman inanity: “It follows that we now must assume that ALL men are GUILTY because their ancestors devalued the "testimony of women for millennia", meaning that the accused have ZERO legal rights under our new & improved women-friendly legal system (but only if they're men).”

Uh, drooooooooool on.


LH, That's why I cite the Old Testament against them. Jonah and several other places show that God can throw a snit, make a threat... and change... His... mind! In which case, the Book of Revelation... 2000 years after the snit... is clearly completely irrelevant.

donzelion said...

locum: "Donzelion says that he'll "start worrying about overcompensation (only when) they start burning rich men at the stake". ... As evidenced by #MeToo, the time for Donzelion to start worrying about overcompensation has come & gone."

Really? I must have missed the roasting. Perhaps that item followed "new Bowling Green" massacre on me feeds.

Oh dear! They're coming with nasty tweets! I'm so terrified, maybe they'll tweet in ALL CAPS AND THEN I'M REALLY IN TROUBLE!

"These are all men of ASSUMED wealth & privilege whose lives have been destroyed on unsupportable ALLEGATION alone."
Ah, Cosby. I understand your point better: for you, 'a trial with a conviction' is the same as an 'allegation.' I suggest revisiting planet Earth, where these things are not the same at all. How is anyone to take anything else you say seriously, Locum?

Larry Hart said...

Ok, a geeky movie question...

In "Civil War", Tony Stark and Pepper are not together, and something unnamed has clearly come between them.

In "Spider-Man: Homecoming", which takes place after "Civil War" (Spider-Man refers to having taken Cap's shield), Tony and Pepper are back together, or at least easily working together.

So what happened in between? Or was her absence from "Civil War" simply a matter of Gwenneth Paltrow not being available for the shooting?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

LH, That's why I cite the Old Testament against them.

Sure, that's a good tactical move. But still, isn't so-called Christians' silence on the part of the bible that has Jesus in it deafeningly noticeable? If you listen to the hypo-Christians, you'd think the entire New Testament consisted of JOHN 3:16 (with a goof in clown makeup pointing at the sign).

Larry Hart said...


Ah, Cosby. I understand your point better: for you, 'a trial with a conviction' is the same as an 'allegation.' I suggest revisiting planet Earth, where these things are not the same at all.

One might say: "In fact, the opposite thing."

How is anyone to take anything else you say seriously, Locum?

As Alfred alluded to, I think loc is trying sarcasm. He's not asserting a truth, but rather trying to point out that the things we assert "are as ridiculous as this thing I'm saying." When we point out his (obvious) nonsense, it's supposed to reveal our nonsense.

He just does it so badly that we've never noticed (except for Alfred).

So try prefacing every sentence of his with "This is you!..." and see if that makes any more sense.

David Smelser said...


Searching for a list of "US politicians accused of sexual misconduct" is a good google search phrase. First result is

Here are the names for 2010-2018, sorted by party:
Eric Massa, Representative (D-NY)
Anthony Weiner, Representative (D-NY)
David Wu, Representative (D-OR)
Al Franken Senator (D-MN)
John Conyers Jr. US Congressman(D-MI)

Mark Souder, Representative (R-IN)
Chris Lee, Representative (R-NY)
Scott DesJarlais, Representative (R-TN)
Herman Cain (R)
Vance McAllister, Representative (R-LA)
Matthew P. Pennell (R)
Blake Farenthold, US Representative (R-TX)
Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (R-IL)
Donald Trump (R)
Tim Murphy, Representative (R-PA)
Roy Moore U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama (R)
Joe Barton (R-TX) US Representative
Pat Meehan (R-PA) US Representative
Clint Reed, CoS for US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
David Sorensen (R) White House Speechwriter

So five democrats and fifteen republicans.

2000-2009 more republicans than democrats.
1990-1999 more republicans than democrats.
1980-1989 more republicans than democrats.
1970-1979 more democrats (zero listed republicans for that decade).

So I see a general trend since the 1980s.

Does anyone have a good source for voting records on sexual assault legislation?
I don't know the results, but would agree that would be a fair measure.

donzelion said...

Jon S.: "there was a certain correlation between homosexuality and mutants in the early X-Men movies"

Add in the real-life Ian McKellen's very public sexuality...and a fair component of Hollywood generally.

I'm not really a fan of the genre, so as an outsider, my vantage is a little less concerned with whatever happens to whatever MacGuffin or power-fantasy. Rather, I'm deeply curious what happens socially in response to these images. I assume that sometimes, a direct causal link is probable - "Birth of a Nation" revives a flagging KKK, a cadence of Irish, Italian, and Jewish celebrities rebuff entrenched hostility toward each group...yet I am struggling to find other sets of images from 2004 (when gaybashing was an easy ticket to reelection and Republican majorities) to 2012 (when gaybashing became socially/politically unacceptable).

I suspect the links aren't so much inside the films, or the books, but socialized in other ways. We witness superheroes fight with supervillains - we witness a group of people abuse another group - we intervene (ever so slightly), perhaps from an adjusted version of Adam Smith's proposal of 'sympathy.' We're not demigods, but then again, neither are the folks who harass other mere mortals...

donzelion said...

Alfred: "I am FOR undermining cheating methods, but I think we need a decent process for deciding what IS a cheat and a way to measure how much support each statement has. Whether we legislate should depend on the magnitude of that support."

I don't think it works that way normally. We might legislate a rule, "thou shalt not kill," but when we do, we set a series of assumptions and default provisions into place, which are in turn influenced by other rules and default assumptions: we do not ask killers what rule they think is appropriate, as we expect they'll tweak things to serve their own intentions - "hey, I just killed the guy who slept with my wife! that's perfectly legit, not 'killing' at all, it's self-defense!"

So it has to go with 'cheaters' as well. They will define whatever they've done as non-cheating, whatever their rivals do as 'cheating,' and select from definitions whatever serves their interest (indeed, that's a very reasonable libertarian critique of capture by the regulatory state). Instead, we start with target behaviors, identify ideal conditions, then derive definitions based on principles, rather than consensus: sometimes we err, and the principles override our theories.

"They tried to impose their morals on immigrants who weren’t convinced."
Sometimes, sometimes not. They did impose rules about traffic, which were resisted at least as much as rules about liquor...The difference is that for traffic, incentives coalesced in favor of enforcement - everyone benefits from having safer roads - whereas for liquor, the incentives never coalesced: one side sought to ban, the other to indulge. I think that's how it generally works - we 'legislate' and we respond to pressure, then legislate in turn. We err, we correct. Moral systems tend to fail to offer clarity once put to close enough scrutiny - but moralizing - and law - continues even so.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | I want to be careful and not give him an opening to use the favorite comeback of bullies caught by someone who won’t back down. It was a joke! In this case, though, I don’t think he is doing that.

I, for one, wish to extend this assumption of hereditary guilt to each & everyone, including the rich for their sin of wealth, the successful for their crimes of merit, those evil Brits for banishing those Australians, those South Pacific islanders for their history of cannibalism, those Homo Sapiens for their crimes against the Neanderthals, those who have been blamed for killing Christ & those children of Cain for their crimes against Abel.

Let's kill 'em all & settle the score.

I think he is using ‘reductio ad absurdum’ which relies on a healthy dose of sarcasm.

As for One might say: "In fact, the opposite thing."

I don’t think some of us will say that anymore. That’s your trademark. We’d be infringing. 8)

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

It was a joke! In this case, though, I don’t think he is doing that.

I don't think he's joking in the sense of saying something for the bit without meaning it. But I can't believe he means "Bill Cosby was convicted based on UNSUPPORTED ALLEGATIONS!" What I think is intended is "This is what you guys sound like to me. When you point out the ridiculousness of my assertion, you betray the fact that your own assertions are just as ridiculous."

I don’t think some of us will say that anymore. That’s your trademark. We’d be infringing. 8)

Naaaaah, George Orwell had it nailed way before I was born. I'm satisfied with making it relevant to modern discussions. I don't think many readers of 1984 would remember that particular line of expository dialogue, but for some reason it stuck in my head from way back in 1977 when I first read the book.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | I don't think it works that way normally.

Agreed. We typically legislate on the political activity of a vocal minority and then find out if it will work. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t and winds up making a mockery of The Rule of Law. Imagine my interest in this question. Can we do better?

we do not ask killers what rule they think is appropriate

Disagreed. You have no idea if a jury contains an undetected killer. You might try to prevent it, of course, but you can be pretty sure the jury pool from which they might be drawn contains a number of sociopaths. On a Monday morning when I report to possibly be selected by my county folks, there are a couple hundred called. What are the odds there aren’t some, hmm? The moment I walk into that room I KNOW there is at least one person there who knows what ‘nullification’ means. 8)

You can safely ask the broader public about these things as long as one has a way to act when the cheaters destroy unanimity. If we seek broad consensus, that is actually enough to support legislation that enacts ‘moral law’. You might miss the occasional bad guy who gets on a jury, but they might not be interested in exposing themselves as being too similar to the cheater being prosecuted.

What you can’t do is ask the broader public about something they don’t understand yet. You’ll get garbage, but probably mixed garbage. You might get a majority opinion, but probably not a strong consensus. If the public doesn’t understand how behavior X is immoral, is it really immoral? We certainly might think so, but I’d argue the first task in front of us is education and NOT legislation.

The best argument I know against my own position is the public really won’t want to get involved. That’s why they elect representatives, right? Okay. So be it. Shouldn’t we require a super majority of them, though, before legislating morals? Heh. The cynics among us will point out that would ensure NO morals being legislated, but I might not have much of an issue with that. DEMONSTRATE the cheating behavior X well enough to get the consensus and legislation will be relatively easy to get.

You do this to some degree here when you describe cost shifting during bankruptcies. You are describing a cheating behavior. How much support do we have for that behavior X in the general public? Heh. They are mostly ignorant, right? They can’t even tell the difference between family finances and national finances. What to do? Is it worth it?

Back to the first point, though, I admit that throwing the spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks might be the only method we can make work. If so, I’ll accept that, but only after we’ve thrashed around a bit thinking about ways we might make incremental improvements. Risking The Rule of Law to Prohibition experiments strikes me as doing harm to our civilization. Do it too much and the public can lose confidence in the enlightenment. Want another Drug War? I sure don’t. We’ve done a lot of damage with that one.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | There is one angle where you can take locumranch literally and seriously and he'd be correct. Cosby's life was destroyed BEFORE the conviction. Many of us accepted his guilt before a jury did.

I think it is obvious locumranch has been on the receiving end of similar allegations. He's way too sensitive about these things for it to be otherwise. Life destroyed too? Probably. The Court of Public Opinion can be merciless. He might even be on a pedophile list if things went badly enough. I'd rather not know. I have a libertarian-style issue with punishments that never end.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Cosby's life was destroyed BEFORE the conviction. Many of us accepted his guilt before a jury did.

Maybe before the conviction, but not based only on unsupported allegations. The conviction validates the conclusion we had already jumped to, as opposed to (say) the OJ case in which he's been legally exonerated of guilt even though it's obvious that he did the deed.

Cosby is also in a different league from Al Franken or Donald Trump, both of whom behaved boorishly but in ways expected of them as tv celebrities and are now being judged as politicians. Cosby didn't commit acts which were ok back then but considered bad now because norms have changed. He drugged women unconscious so he could rape them. He's lucky that cruel and unusual punishment is forbidden by the Constitution.

Life destroyed too? Probably.

We're mixing metaphor with literal here, so be careful. Cosby's life might be ruined enough to be considered "destroyed", but I'm cautious about using that term because of an argument about feminism destroying men's lives back on the "Cerebus" list. The Dave Sim supporters kept saying that feminists had destroyed Larry Summers's life when he was fired from a Harvard professorship for hurting a girl's feelings. I argued back that Summers's life had hardly been destroyed, as he was then currently the treasury secretary in the Obama administration.

But in any case, damn! You've got me feeling sympathy for the jerk.

locumranch said...

Bill Cosby was convicted on verbal allegations alone in the absence of even the smallest iota of physical evidence. That's ZERO material evidence -- no lab tests, no DNA, no stains on a blue dress & not even a timely written police report -- just a preponderance of ancient #MeToo memories involving consensual drug & alcohol use.

During divorces involving child custody disputes, up to 70 percent of domestic violence allegations are deemed to be unnecessary or fabricated and unsupported allegations of verbal, emotional, physical & paediatric abuse are extremely common.

And, don't give me that baseless shit about how women are 'angels' & people (in general) never lie. Human beings lie constantly.

Up to 50% of my patients lie to my face, especially when it comes to drug dependency, alcohol use, risky behaviours & secondary gain, and most of these liars continue to lie even after being confronted by incontrovertible laboratory evidence.

In a study conducted by University of Massachusetts (2002), psychologist Robert S. Feldman found that 60 percent of people lied at least once during a 10-minute conversation and told an average of two to three lies.

But, the worst part about lying liars & the lies they tell is that opportunistic apologists like Donzelion think lying is all well & good as long as HIS profession profits & we stop short of actually "burning men at the stake" based on these lies.

Well, I can live with this limitation as suggested by Donzelion -- and I'll even agree to "no burning (people) at the stake" for now -- but tumbrels & guillotines are a 'go'.

I repeat -- Tumbrels & Guillotines are a 'Go'.


Jon S. said...

"Blowing a 40 mile hole into the crust of the Earth might as well nuke half the planet. The secondary damage would be profound. There should have been a rain of fire and super-heating of the upper atmosphere torching anything on the ground underneath it. The dinosaurs were killed off by an event of a roughly similar scale."

Well, it wasn't so much "blown into the crust" as a fifty-mile radius of matter suddenly ceased to exist. The rivers pouring into the crater, however, did raise a pretty nasty toxic steam cloud...

The idea behind the New U wasn't "it's always going to be like the real world"; it was "we start from the real world, add supers, and see what might happen." The issue they had was that they weren't supposed to invoke aliens or magic or alternate dimensions - and promptly Justice had a warrior from another universe sent here by magic, and an alien tried to take the Star Brand from Ken Connell. They wrote stories for both lines that more or less corrected those missteps (Tensen the warrior was in fact DEA Agent John Tensen, and the whole "warrior from another world" thing was the imagination of a drug kingpin he was sent after who gained the ability to make his imagination affect the world around him; the "alien" chasing Ken was in fact the Dutch count, who decided he wanted the Brand back).

The whole thing petered out after about two or three years, although some of the concepts have re-emerged in Marvel's NewUniversal titles a few years back. And of course I always thought it was pretty clear that the cartoon Captain Planet was a ripoff of Psi-Force (five teenagers with special abilities concentrate together, and summon an avatar with all of their powers combined).

Larry Hart said...

The whole cross-movie continuity of the Marvel Studios films is something special. I mean, it's one thing to have Iron Man and Captain America guest star in each other's comic books titles. It's quite another to have Robert Downey Jr. and Gwenneth Paltrow do extended cameo appearances in an episode of a different movie franchise just to demonstrate that Spider-Man and Iron Man exist in the same world.

I would not have believed they could pull that sort of thing off in the movie realm.

Lorraine said...

When I read the story of Ananias and Sapphira, I can't help but think "capital gains." That seems to be the most direct modern analogue of their "sin," failure to report capital gains.

Larry Hart said...


Human beings lie constantly.

You certainly do.

In a study conducted by University of Massachusetts (2002), psychologist Robert S. Feldman found that 60 percent of people lied at least once during a 10-minute conversation and told an average of two to three lies.

How do we know you're not lying? Or that the study isn't lying?

I repeat -- Tumbrels & Guillotines are a 'Go'.

I'm down with that.

But then I might be lying.

David Brin said...

David Smelser thanks for the compilation of sexual scandals by political party. But it still lets goppers off the hook, by failing to note the distinction between...

... marital infidelity or normal prostitution, or symbolic sexual misbehavior like Al Franken’s (one point)…

vs. never forgiven vicious behavior toward the first wife (2 points)...

vs. aggressive but sub-rape sexual assault or intimidation or refusal to cheerfully accept “no”… (four points)…

vs. pedophilia crimes and rape… (8 points).

(Naturally, these should be exponential scales! But it’s a start.) By that scoring system, the dems are left in a cloud of dust by a republican party that is rife with perverts and predators.

David Brin said...



«Oldest ‹Older   201 – 226 of 226   Newer› Newest»