Thursday, August 30, 2018

The alternative to Trump is scarier! The "Cyrus Effect." And what you can do.

Obsessed with the midterms? Planning to help register folks and then join a Get Out The Vote effort, on election day? Maybe volunteer for a local candidate? Good for you. Then you aren’t an all-talk-no-action lazy bones. What Tom Paine called a “summer soldier.” 

Only dig it, Congress is not the most important show. Your excuse: “how will anything I do matter?” might apply at that level. But the real action is in statehouses, where corrupt GOP secretaries of state deliver the goods with cheat after cheat, while Republican-controlled legislatures gerrymander and close DMV offices, so women and young people can’t get ID.

Look at this map. In green and blue states, the future of America will be decided. Volunteers who help flip a state assembly seat will meet and work closely with the candidate! She’ll know your name. You’ll feel your efforts affecting the balance, day by day. 

A $50 contribution at that level can make a real difference. And you’d learn a lot. Maybe get a friend in high places. Especially Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania… but yes, also Texas, Colorado, Florida. 

If you’re not living near any of the colored states on this map, do you know someone who does? If you do live in those states, how far from a swing assembly district where you could make a difference?

== Don't trade acne for cancer ==

I've repeatedly asserted there are far worse things than Donald Trump. For one thing, almost every member of the “deep state” — or faithful/intelligent civil servants, FBI, Intelligence agencies and military officers — see plainly how dangerous an infantile narcissist controlled by foreign despots can be. They have cauterized around this fellow pretty carefully and Two Scoops currently has less practically-executable power (except the damned judicial appointments) than any president in modern history. But all of that might go away, in the outpouring of national relief, if our current, foul-mouthed schoolyard bully gets replaced by the smoother, more soothing-voiced Mike Pence. Smooth, but in fact vastly more dangerous.

Here’s an op-ed from The New York Times - Mike Pence, Holy Terror -  that lays this down in some terrifying detail. Frank Bruni points out that Pence "adds two ingredients that Trump doesn't genuinely possess: the conviction that he's on a mission from God and a determination to mold the entire nation in the shape of his own faith, a regressive, repressive version of Christianity. Trade Trump for Pence and you go from kleptocracy to theocracy." (Not scared by that? Read Robert Heinlein's prophetic novel Revolt in 2100.)

Mr. Bruni raises the possibility “that Pence could end up in the White House sooner than you think. In addition to the prospect of Trump’s impeachment, there’s the chance that Trump just decides that he has had enough.”

Consider how amplified Trump will be, in such a political martyrdom.  How freed and empowered. The only thing worse could be a Donald Trump who was actually, physically martyred. If that happened - and thousands of fools celebrated in the streets — then we would pass into a time of searing flames.  I pray for his health. Yes - and for several more reasons - I sincerely do.

(Mind you there are lesser versions of the same trap. Say, if Trump gets his “Big Parade,” and a few hundred lefty imbeciles gather along the route to spit on soldiers and vets, the resulting, edited images could drive millions of crewcut fact-people back into a mad GOP they’ve recently been fleeing, in droves.)

But the core element in this article… and in my own missives for a year… has been Mike Pence. He would transform today’s scatterbrained, demoralized, raving-leaky White House into one that is utterly disciplined, close-lipped, and stuffed with Dominionist fanatics eager to use the nuclear button to bring an apocalypse they already pray-for, daily. And I do not exaggerate, even slightly. They do. Pray for an end to human civilization. An end to democracy. An end to all human curiosity, striving, excellence, improvement or ambition. Damnation for 99% of their neighbors. An end to all further generations of children! And an end to the United States of America. Explicitly. They pray for exactly that.  And Mike Pence will be their Nehemiah Scudder, their deliverer on some or all of those promises.

== A Closer Look at Pence ==

A more detailed look at Pence can be found in the soon-to-be-released biography: The Shadow President: The Truth About Mike Pence, by investigative journalists Michael D'Antonio and Peter Eisner, who warn that Pence has become "perhaps the most powerful Christian supremacist America has ever seen."

Even the person I call the “worst American,” for having helped to forge today’s cynical confederate cabal, the conservative columnist George Will, has said that Pence had dethroned Trump as “America’s most repulsive public figure.”

So for all of you on the Union side in this phase of the civil war, I have one piece of advice — patience.  Bide your time. I mean, how long can the oligarchs maintain a universal and open war against every single fact-using profession? How long before some democratic politician stumbles into the polemical power of invoking the Greatest Generation and Franklin Roosevelt? 

(Fun fact.  Around 60% of military chaplains are Baptists. Oh, they are in it for the win, long term.)
Stephen Colbert (bless him) and Rebecca Solnit (deep respects) are absolutely wrong about one thing.  Donald Trump is not the disease. He is a symptom. The disease is a cynical oligarchy waging open war upon the American/Western Experiment.  The disease is every single advertiser on Fox. The disease is you, if you buy anything from any advertiser on Fox! And the disease is Kremlin-promoted division in the Union’s great big, wide blue tent.

There are times when you need to buck up and stop whining about symptoms and unite over the long haul to cure the disease.

== The Cyrus Effect redux ==

Polls show that most Republicans are fully aware that their nominee and president is a deeply immoral person. So how do they rationalize continuing to avidly support him? Of course to the oligarchy "It's taxes and sweetheart contracts, stupid." To GOP pols "It's the courts, stupid," hoping to stymie any future reform of election laws or getting money out of politics. Okay, I can understand those evil, but rational motives.

But the rank and file are problematic. "For decades, Republicans, and especially conservative Republicans, insisted that character counted in public life," says Peter Wehner, who served in three previous Republican administrations. "They were particularly vocal about this during the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal, arguing against “compartmentalization” — by which they meant overlooking moral turpitude in the Oval Office because you agree with the president’s policy agenda or because the economy is strong. Senator Lindsey Graham, then in the House, went so far as to argue that “impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.”

But all that - like suspicion toward Kremlin despots - lies in the past. "A party that once spoke with urgency and apparent conviction about the importance of ethical leadership — fidelity, honesty, honor, decency, good manners, setting a good example — has hitched its wagon to the most thoroughly and comprehensively corrupt individual who has ever been elected president."

One rationalization offered among evangelical Christians is the "Cyrus Effect." The King of Persia who freed the Jews from Babylonian captivity was clearly a pagan, yet also "the instrument of God."  Likewise, the spectacularly un-Christian and dissolute-immoral Donald Trump delights heaven and believers every time he galls all the people they hate, especially city or university or fact-profession elites.

Of course there's a theological answer in the form of a question: "Is Cyrus in heaven?" If he is, for being a sacred instrument, then it means that you can get there without performing the rituals and incantations that fundies claim to be the only route to salvation. If not, then Two Scoops ain't going, either.

==The perfect hypocrisy storm ==

Those claiming that the president's acknowledged immaturity, narcissism and moral turpitude are "irrelevant" should read these op-eds by Mike Pence, back during the MonicaGate Scandal (so charmingly limited in scope.) Pence wrote:

"If you and I fall into bad moral habits, we can harm our families, our employers and our friends. The President of the United States can incinerate the planet. Seriously, the very idea that we ought to have at or less than the same moral demands placed on the Chief Executive that we place on our next door neighbor is ludicrous and dangerous. Throughout our history, we have seen the presidency as the repository of all of our highest hopes and ideals and values. To demand less is to do an injustice to the blood that bought our freedoms."

You can bet that when ... not if... Pence replaces his boss, he will claim there's no hypocrisy! That he had been merely biding his time. And sing hosannas that a decent man is in office! And fools will rush to proclaim relief, unaware that our danger will then multiply a thousand fold.  (See where I urge you all - don't be in such a rush to impeach!)

From The Atlantic: "In 2011 and again just ahead of the 2016 election, PRRI asked Americans whether a political leader who committed an immoral act in his or her private life could nonetheless behave ethically and fulfill their duties in their public life. In 2011, consistent with the “values voter” brand and the traditional evangelical emphasis on the importance of personal character, only 30 percent of white evangelical Protestants agreed with this statement. But with Trump at the top of the Republican ticket in 2016, 72 percent of white evangelicals said they believed a candidate could build a kind of moral dike between his private and public life." 
In a head-spinning reversal, white evangelicals went from being the least likely to the most likely group to agree that a candidate’s personal immorality has no bearing on his performance in public office.

"Fears about the present and a desire for a lost past, bound together with partisan attachments, ultimately overwhelmed values voters’ convictions. Rather than standing on principle and letting the chips fall where they may, white evangelicals fully embraced a consequentialist ethics that works backward from predetermined political ends, bending or even discarding core principles as needed to achieve a predetermined outcome," writes Robert P. Jones in The Atlantic.

What this cogent article never says is that the predetermined outcome openly and eagerly desired by a large minority of these folks is the fulfillment of prophecy in the gore-drenched Book of Revelation, including death and torture for 99% of their neighbors, an end to all human curiosity or achievement or democracy, no further children born into the world, and an end to the United States of America. 

Truly, you never parsed it that way before? Is there any other way to parse it?


Larry Hart said...

Reposted frpm the previous post, and somewhat relevant...

"A superstitious, cowardly lot"...

Meanwhile, in a development that is surely not a coincidence, evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr., announced that Sessions has lost evangelicals' support. "He really is not on the president's team, never was," said Falwell. Thus we have evangelical Christians turning on, and denouncing, an actual evangelical Christian in favor of a man who does not appear to embrace a single tenet of Christianity. Never doubt that the leaders of evangelical Christianity are basically Republican political lobbyists who cloak themselves in a thin veneer of religiosity. Similarly, don't doubt that the GOP is now 100% the party of Trump.

Jon S. said...

Pence, however, would take office politically crippled, and without what little mystique Donnie has from his previous careers - Pence was a state governor who became tremendously unpopular in his state. The only way he'd ever get backing from anyone but evangelicals would be if Donnie died in office and became a martyr, which is why I daily pray for the continued health of both him and his Secret Service guardians. Pence certainly wouldn't be able to get the GOP to unite in terror behind him, the way Donnie has managed.

David Brin said...

Alas, Jon S. I wish it were so. It's not. At least million sane-adult republicans who have fled the madness would slink back, because "courtesy has returned" and in loathing of whatever scarecrow image Fox presents of leading demoncrats.

matthew said...

Remember that Manafort picked Pence as VP.

Also remember that Pence was in charge of the transition team when felonies were committed by secretly negotiating with the Russians.

He'll be impeached too. The question is who would Pence pick as his VP after Trump got impeached.

*Note - I'd like to believe that the "serious adults" have hemmed in Trump's ability to do damage while president, but all facts run counter to this narrative. Just exactly who are the "serious adults" and just how are they constraining Trump. Be specific in your examples, please. I've seen little evidence of this phenomenon.

Acacia H. said...

Doctor Brin, you forget in one way a Trump Presidency is worse than a Pence one.

What if Donald Trump is a Russian sleeper agent who has gotten into the White House?

If Russia launches a cyberattack shutting down our communication, water, and power infrastructure and destroys our GPS and Communications satellites, Trump may refuse to act. He may insist "this is an Iranian attack" and go after Iran instead, even as the military and intelligence agencies insist "this was Russia." And as people start dying from starvation and thirst and other issues, Trump may sit on his hands, directing efforts to Red States and drawing resources from Blue States to kill off as many non-Trump supporters as possible. When rioting inevitably starts then he has hired mercenary teams kill off the rioters which would not be "good Republicans" but rather minorities in the cities.

The end result is the destruction of the United States and the world in a Russian influence chain because Russia will still have an economic structure and internet separate from the U.S.-dominated system that the Russian hackers would have completely fucked up - and there are no backup systems that aren't also at risk. And given Trump has completely alienated NATO, there isn't even a guarantee that NATO would risk confronting Russia over their attack on the United States.

Also, isn't it curious that Trump was insisting on having a massive military parade in September... while Russia and China are planning on large-scale military games starting on September 11? You would have had Trump, Pence, and almost all of the higher-level administration in one location, most of the Federal government, all in Washington D.C. for a military parade. It would take just one nuclear device to decapitate the nation. Fortunately, events managed to kill Trump's efforts for a military parade.

Rob H.

Sue Bursztynski said...

It’s particularly scary from outside the US, where there is absolutely nothing we can do about Trump - or Pence. And we will be affected too, because the President of the US is the most powerful person in the world. You guys will have to do what you can.

I’ve wandered over to the iBooks store and bought Stranger In A Strange Land, which I last read in my teens, with a friend, reading aloud during summer on the beach in Melbourne, and Revolt in 2100, which I’ll be interested to read.

I remember being irritated by Heinlein as a teen, but somehow finding myself sucked into reading yet another one and maybe just one more, a very influential writer! Poul Anderson was also a libertarian but mostly doesn’t show it. I did throw down The Boat Of A Million Years in annoyance, but would happily reread many of his other books.

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

Pence certainly wouldn't be able to get the GOP to unite in terror behind him, the way Donnie has managed.

That's my take as well. Pence may want to do worse things for the country, but he won't have the entire Republican Party cowed by the thought that if they incur his disfavor, they'll face the wrath of a Brownshirt army.

Post-Trump America will look like post-Mule Foundation. We'll still be under siege for awhile, but the process of breaking the blockade will have begun.

David Brin said...

Spreading the blather around, my Wordpress blog "To the Brink" - and not "Contrary Brin" now carries my riff about the *Animated Storyboard,* a concept that – if done properly – (no one has, yet), could unleash a wave of cinematic creativity like none yet seen, liberating small, writer-led teams to create vivid dramas, whether as first drafts or as final works of popular art. Some recent offerings suggest this day may be about to dawn.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Pence is a vile little theocrat, no doubt about that. But there is one thing that may allow the US to survive him: he's a coward. When he gets pushback, he backs down.
There's also the fact that he is fairly clearly a part of the conspiracy with Trump and Russia to stage a coup against the US. If Mueller has enough to bring Trump down, he is likely to have enough to bring Pence down.

Alfred Differ said...

1) I don't think Pence can enforce party unity the way Trump can. Voters may slink back (likely) after a Trump impeachment, but to a split Congress (no way impeachment occurs without House being in Democrats hands) at worst. Pence will get what he wants regarding the Judiciary. THAT is the concern.

2) Pence doesn't get impeached unless Mueller can tie him in completely. Since Pence isn't likely to be guilty of all the prior mob-like behaviors, his fate might take a different path in a GOP Senate.

3) Pence WILL be crippled by a Trump impeachment, but the 2020 election is far in the future. The crystal ball is murky about what happens in the year before the election.

I'm not scared of Pence as our President in his role as President. What concerns me is the judiciary he would appoint.

David Brin said...

"If Mueller has enough to bring Trump down, he is likely to have enough to bring Pence down." And make Pelosi president? There would be 100,000 deaths within 24 hours. Carefully. Move carefully.

But I stand by my stance. Pence would draw half of the Gopper refugees back. And he'd runn an utterly tight ship. Aimed at apocalypse.

Tony Fisk said...

What if Pence is impeached first?

David Brin said...

Fine. Though you'd need a lot. And DT would pounce to appoint another. The dems need the senate.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I'm not scared of Pence as our President in his role as President. What concerns me is the judiciary he would appoint.

That's a point. But how is that any worse than the ones Trump appoints? Trump doesn't know jack about any of them--he takes his marching orders from right-wing think tanks. Pence probably already has some influence over those choices.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

The dems need the senate.

The map hates us. Even if Democrats (improbably) win every Senate seat up for election this year, they'd only have a majority of something like 58. Nowhere near the 67 it would take to convict in the Senate.

The only way Trump (let alone Pence) can be successfully removed via impeachment is if Republicans feel political pressure to convict.

Winter7 said...

Doctor Brin:
The theme you chose today on your other website: "To the Brink", is a very useful topic. You show an option for writers to become film producers with surprising software. (I never knew about that software before to create animation stories with ease) It means a lot of work, but a group of three people could create movies with all that software. Thank you.

Winter7 said...

Certainly, I realized that Mike Pence was evil from the moment I noticed that the vice president looks like Palpatine:

Winter7 said...

Can not you see the detail? It is there. Outside the Box. (So ​​it is said in psychological terms, "think outside the box:) There, next to the box with the dead and alive cat at the same time:
Quite simply, that of the president appointing his successor in case of emergency is a trap for democracy. It is evident that a president always appointed an evil henchman as his successor. Therefore, it is evident that all vice presidents should not be appointed by the president. They must be elected by vote, and they must be from any other party. Another option is that the vice president should not have the power to start a war or to appoint personnel from the institutions. And that the vice president could not be appointed president, since they would have to hold new presidential elections in a short time. Why; What good is it to shoot down a tyrant, if the vice president is also a tyrant? They see him! There's the dead republican cat! And it stinks terribly! That is the flaw, the trick with which they take us away from any possibility of changing something.

Winter7 said...

Alfred. Since you lived on air bases during your childhood ... ¿Did you ever notice that the officers had mistreated female soldiers or women in the office staff?... ¿Maybe you saw some woman leaving the offices of some commander, crying and with her clothes torn?.. ¿Rumors of cover-ups? Rumors of parties that got out of control?.

Winter7 said...

Hummm According to what you say, then, I think there is another option: Achieve the dismissal of Donald Trump and Mike Pence at the same time. (and at the same time, send to prison any other republican successor of Donald Trump.
Of course. All that seems to be an act of magic almost impossible to perform. But it is a viable option if the Democrats manage to find the necessary evidence to send to prison, the entire Donald Trump team. (Hoooo, ¡that would be glorious!)

Winter7 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Winter7 said...

Republicans! I suggest you leave the Republican Party and join the ranks of the Democratic Party. The Republican party is a very bad option. Because as the saying goes, "He who approaches a bad tree; the birds urinate him. " (I doubt that the translator correctly translates the famous phrase, but anyway)

¡By the gods of Xibalbá! What a strange day ... So many things happened ... ¡It's 1:39 am! Time to dinner! (Better late than never)

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7 | I was a kid in the 70's. The rules guys had to obey were different back then, but certainly changing.

As a kid, I didn't pay attention to any of this stuff and my father didn't bring home issues from work. The only time I noticed he had difficulty was when we were in Iceland. The winters are dark and cold. Suicide rates go up and someone under my father obviously had difficulty which caused him to stress. [Nowadays, we'd put the person in front of bright lights for a while each day. That would help them and vastly improve the moral of the rest of the team too.]

In the US, many in active duty know better than to trigger attention on themselves for sexual misbehavior. The more pernicious problem now is dealing with preventable behaviors that increase suicide risks.

Darrell E said...

From the NYT article about the new Pence Biography . . .

"According to D’Antonio’s book, Pence sees himself and fellow Christian warriors as a blessed but oppressed group, and his “hope for the future resided in his faith that, as chosen people, conservative evangelicals would eventually be served by a leader whom God would enable to defeat their enemies and create a Christian nation.”"

Same as it ever was. The more one moves towards the radical end of the Christian spectrum the more common it is that the Christian whines about being oppressed. Even though they are, collectively, the very large majority and are accorded an ingrained respect in our culture that no other group has. But the kicker is, what are they being denied that makes them believe they are oppressed? They are being denied the freedom to impose their ethical standards and traditions on everyone by rule of law backed up by government force.

And regarding explanations for how or why Christian extremists find it so easy to flop from demanding high moral standards to adulating a leader with abysmally low moral standards, I think that article might be thinking too hard about it. This ability is a defining characteristic of Christianity. The reasons are pretty straightforward. To start with, Christian ethical standards are low to begin with. After all, they are rather ancient and they resist change. Then there's the "lying for Jesus" aspect that is actually a more general phenomenon better stated as, ethical standards don't apply when it comes to how we treat outsiders especially when it is in service to our religion / religious leaders. And this is empowered by the fact that religions are one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, tools for generating, insularity, othering, obedience to authority and justification for low behavior.

Sure, neither religions generally nor Christianity specifically are unique in any of these respects. Your local pottery club probably exhibits some of these characteristics to some extent. But religions are very powerful in these respects and have a very long history of generating and leveraging these kinds of behaviors.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"There would be 100,000 deaths within 24 hours. Carefully. Move carefully."

Are you talking about a revolt amongst the Trumperdoos? Not gonna happen. Oh, there will be a few scattered riots, a couple of morons will try to shoot politicans and/or cops, several dozen will get shot and several hundred arrested, and the Trump movement will vanish like Nazism in Germany in 1945.

Larry Hart said...

Off topic, but with a holiday weekend coming up here in America, I want to wish every one of my non-deplorable fellow countrymen a fun Labor Day weekend and a happy (though rueful) unofficial end of summer.

When we return to work, of course, we'll be into the six consecutive months with seven or more letters in their (English language) names. By the time the six consecutive months with less than seven letters return once again, I hope we'll have begun to save ourselves from madness.

George Carty said...

I doubt white supremacy will die that easily (it didn't die in 1865 either even though the Confederacy was reduced to ruins).

What made 1945 different was that the Germans were forced to cosy up to Uncle Sam because the only alternative was Uncle Joe. The American Civil War equivalent would have been if there had been a Haitian Empire ruling the entire Caribbean, that it had been a Union ally during the war (and borne the brunt of the fighting and the dying) and the Confederacy had been partitioned (perhaps along a line from Charleston to New Orleans).

In that scenario Radical Reconstruction in the Northern-occupied South would have worked just fine, as fear of being abandoned to Haitian occupation would have kept the Southerners in line. As it was though the Southerners in 1865 were more like the Germans in 1918 rather than 1945.

David Brin said...

GC interesting metaphor. Call Harry Turtledove!

locumranch said...

He would transform today’s scatterbrained, demoralized, raving-leaky White House into one that is utterly disciplined, close-lipped, and stuffed with Dominionist fanatics eager to use the nuclear button to bring an apocalypse they already pray-for, daily. And I do not exaggerate, even slightly. They do. Pray for an end to human civilization. An end to democracy. An end to all human curiosity, striving, excellence, improvement or ambition. Damnation for 99% of their neighbors. An end to all further generations of children! And an end to the United States of America. Explicitly. They pray for exactly that [DB].

Kudos to our fine host & the DNC for accomplishing the one thing that a legion of hate groups like the KKK & Nazis have always failed to accomplish:

Making the US political process all about religion & race.

Funny how it's perfectly acceptable to accuse one religious, ethnic or racial identity group of 'deplorability' and of hating democracy, civilisation, apple pie, justice & America but not any other.

This a category error which will most likely end badly, this tendency to confuse Christian tolerance with Amish pacifism.

US Population by self-identified race: Caucasian 73%; Black 13%; 9% Other; and Asian 5%. (1)(2)

US Population by self-identified religion: Christianity 74%; 23% Other; Judaism 2%; and Islam 1%. (1)

As I accept & return Larry_H's ill-wishes for this holiday, I think maybe I will take a break from posting for a while.

(1) All stats on race & religion from Wikipedia.
(2) Per Wikipedia, "The question on Hispanic or Latino origin is separate from the question on race".

matthew said...

"There would be 100,000 deaths within 24 hours."

And this is a reason to not save our country from megadeaths in the future? To effectively surrender control to oligarchs? Please.

This advice is akin to negotiating with terrorists, or saying "don't anger our King" by revolting in 1775.

We have to beat back American Nazism NOW, before it gets unfettered access to the surveillance state. Two more years of Trump is two more years of purging the civil service. Two more years of voter suppression. Two more years of big data looking for targets for asset seizure and forfeiture, as is being done right now to the undocumented among us. Two more years of denying passports to those born in the Rio Grande valley.

I disagree that impeachment would involve 100K deaths, but if it did, it would still be worth the price paid. Something, something, watering the tree of liberty etc.

This centrist, cautious approach you are selling here will end up with all of us here dead or fled (except our trolls, of course. They would be too cowardly to act and would hide under their beds, expecting rewards for being loudmouth assholes for so long.)

I'll be out there in my blue kepi with the crossed cannons on top. Metallurgists know as well as anyone whose side God fights on. Or in my case, gods.

Jon S. said...

Winter, the way it works currently in the US is that when a presidential candidate is selected, the party also selects his/her vice-presidential "running mate", often (but not always) at the behest of the candidate. Such VP-candidates are generally chosen to appeal to some segment of the electorate with whom the main candidate is weak.

In the one case of which I'm aware when a US vice-president left office during his term, the case of Spiro Agnew (who resigned rather than face impeachment, much as his boss, Richard Nixon, would do later), the selection of a new VP would then lie with Congress. (I don't know if current law jumps straight to the Speaker of the House, which is the general impression, but the Constitution just says Congress can pass a law declaring who replaces the President and VP in cases of impeachment. When Gerald Ford succeeded Spiro Agnew, he was House Minority Leader, not Speaker or even a member of the majority party.)

Treebeard said...

Wow, people here sound like they're trying to one-up each other with the comic book B-movie thriller scenarios. Did the Russians put something in the water supply that is contaminating peoples' precious mental fluids and making them concoct ever more fevered conspiracy theories? This is one theory I could almost buy into, based on some of the rhetoric coming from our purportedly calm, rational, sober, scientific friends. Fortunately I'm on a well, so the Russkies can't touch me.

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

In the one case of which I'm aware when a US vice-president left office during his term, ... the selection of a new VP would then lie with Congress. (I don't know if current law jumps straight to the Speaker of the House, which is the general impression...

No, I can tell you right now that that doesn't happen.

The Speaker is next in line if something happens to both the president and the VP before they are replaced. If Nixon had resigned without a replacement VP for Agnew (for example) then the Speaker would have ascended to the role. That's never happened yet, BTW.

Once the VP office is vacated, though, a replacement is installed, and then the Speaker goes back to being third in line. As far as I know, the ascension to the office of President is the only one that happens automatically upon a vacancy.

* * *

This just occurred to me as I typed that above. If Democrats take back the House, we'll doubtless hear Republican arguments about how Nancy Pelosi has a conflict of interest trying to impeach Trump and Pence to take the presidency for herself. I look forward to hearing why this is different from Trump appointing justices to the supreme court who will then rule on the legality of impeachment and obstruction of justice.

Larry Hart said...

The New York Times tells us what we already know.

(emphasis mine)

On Tuesday, in the course of his morning rage-tweeting, Donald Trump denounced Google for having news results “RIGGED” against him, “so that almost all stories & news is BAD.” It was part of an escalating right-wing assault on various technology platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, which conservatives are accusing, in timeworn fashion, of liberal bias.

Trump appears to have gotten his information from the Fox Business Network host Lou Dobbs, who in turn was relying on a blog post from PJ Media titled, “96 Percent of Google Search Results for ‘Trump’ News Are From Liberal Media Outlets.” The rub, here, is how the post defines “liberal.” It includes a chart in which almost every mainstream, credible news organization is on the left — not just The New York Times and The Washington Post, but Bloomberg, USA Today and The Associated Press. The chart puts Infowars, Alex Jones’s conspiracy website, closer to the center than Time magazine.

Essentially, conservatives want to create a world where objective information and right-wing disinformation are treated equally. They’re running the same playbook on tech that they ran, for decades, on media, caterwauling about bias so that defensive editors would treat them with kid gloves. Only now, these howls about viewpoint discrimination have the force of the United States government behind them.


matthew said...

Ent, I know you are trying to get folks here to forget that you have advocated for white nationalism, genocide, and violence against LBGTQ folks. Guess what? It isn't going to work.

We know you are a blowhard Nazi. Fuck off.

Treebeard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Treebeard said...

Really matthew? I don't recall doing any of that. Are you one of those who mistake words and ideas for actions? "By their fruits ye shall know them", not their words. If you take words this seriously, you are making yourself an easy target for trolls. Focus on action; be Zen; empty your mind of useless mental chatter and demons; that's a reminder to myself, but it's also advice for you and other people here with crazy memes running around in your heads, if you want it.

Acacia H. said...

Dr. Brin, 100,000 might die in rioting if Trump is removed from office.

10,000,000 might die if the Nazis seize control. Trump is already erasing the citizenship of Hispanic Americans by refusing their passports and saying "their birth certificates are suspect because they probably stole identities." He doesn't consider Native Americans to be Americans. He detests the LGBT+ population. He considers "liberals" to be race traitors.

If the Nazis get control, I'll be put in a camp as will hundreds of thousands of other people. And I doubt we'll see the United States emerge intact after Russian hackers turn off our infrastructure so that we lose access to electricity and water in the cities and towns, our transformers blow and can't be rebuilt within the U.S., and rural America starts stockpiling food and refusing to allow urban centers to get access to food.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Riiight. It’s a “war on Christmas” when we ask for the incessant clamor of cultural domination to wait until December 1st. Or Thanksgiving. Or maybe Halloween?

And when a fanatical cult declares openly that they pray daily for — and work daily for — an apocalypse that will sear 99% of humanity, end all human ambition, end all children and end the USA, WE are the oppressors and bigots for noticing it?

Hide behind the flag. When we have the nerve to notice BoR cultists are preparing to end the world, it’s an attack on all Christians! When Jimmy Carter exemplifies the Christian majority, who actually read and heed the red-lettered words of that bearded, beaded socialist hippie Nazarene.

When dominionists howl gleefully “we’re gonna get all your stuff, after you’ve been snuffed!” I think it’s safe to respond: “Okay guys, we’ve turned the cheek to your drooling-homicidal madness long enough.”

Jesus, Matthew, seriously? “This centrist, cautious approach you are selling here will end up with all of us here dead or fled…” Um, find any resister more vigorous and effective than I am. Chill dude. We’re arguing tactics here. And the left’s standard tactics are too rigid and predictable. They know judo, man.

Jon S The amazing thing no one discusses. GOP presidential candidates - INCLUDING Eisenhower, always choose a horror as their running mate. Except once. Reagan chose a man who was on paper spectacularly qualifies, and later turned into the worst president of the 20th Century. A true horror… but qualified.

Dem candidates always choose a boring person who is qualified. Often way too boring.

“Did the Russians put something in the water supply that is contaminating peoples' precious mental fluids and making them concoct ever more fevered conspiracy theories?”

Oh! Oh! The cultist lectures about conspiracy raving! I weep with ironic hilarity.

David Brin said...

One. Show us one raving spittled howl at Obama -- black UN helicopters, gun seizures, Detention camps for Christians, pedophile rings underneath pizza joints... one... that ever merged even a scintilla out of fevered bile into objective reality. One. Ever. No wonder they wage all-out war on all fact professions... and run screaming away from wagers.

Jon S. said...

One with even a scintilla? Well, let's see - there was that thing with the supposed "FEMA coffins", seen in an aerial photograph, which actually was a real photo. It was a photo of the liners which are by law required to be placed in graves in the US in order to prevent leaching of corpse fluids into the water table and surrounding environment, not "coffins", but the photo was a real thing...

(The manufacturer stores them in a nearby field because they're designed to be pretty well impervious to the elements. Bad news for zombie-apocalypse fans.)

David Brin said...

Something with a sane and 100% true explanation is not a "scintilla of support" for a mad alternative.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Guys
The 10,000 deaths would not be from impeaching old bone spurs or Pence

But I think you WOULD have problems if they were replaced with a Democrat like Pelosi

In that situation it would not just be Trump's deplorables but most "normal" Republicans who would get their knickers in a twist

I would have said that in that situation it would be essential to have somehow the likes of Pelosi stand aside until there is a Republican in the line of succession

David Brin said...

Duncan. A peace offering choosing an acceptable dem to be Speaker just before convicting Pence MIGHT work///

matthew said...

David I know we arguing tactics. That's what I was doing - arguing that our tactics need to change in relation to the scale of the threat. Yep, you do a lot to try and make the world better- that's why I'm here. I like your stories a bunch but The Transparent Society is your biggest legacy.

But I'm sorry that you don't see the threat the same as I do. Promising impeachment is the only way for the Democrats to show their break from cautious policymaking based on poll after poll. The Dems need to rally the nation and milquetoast ain't gonna cut it. Think of the liberal stereotypes so prevalent in low information voters. Being cautious in the face of a hostile nation controlling all branches of the federal government is not going to get millions in the street when it's needed. Liberal messaging cannot be "Trust us, we're boring." There needs to be inspiration not caution.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin

I just don't see an "acceptable dem" being in the republican vocabulary - I would even worry about violence if the successor was too moderate a Republican

The deplorables would object to anybody they could call a RINO - and so would a lot of the rest

If I was in the USA I would be pushing for Democrat House and Senate majorities - investigate the hell out of ALL senior GOP party members

But don't impeach - block old bone spurs from doing anything but leave him hanging - and after 2020 THEN slap his sorry ass in jail

Larry Hart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

I would have said that in that situation it would be essential to have somehow the likes of Pelosi stand aside until there is a Republican in the line of succession.

I might agree if there was a chance in Hell that Republicans would do likewise were the roles reversed.

David Brin said...

Matthew, I get you. And you are offensively nuts with the "milquetoast." I am trying to do judo, here, not sumo, which they... are... better... at.

Right now, we need to not only crush the mid-terms, but catch the cheaters red-handed trying to prevent the crush. That's smoking-gun treason and it will be the red-line (at last) for ten million RASRs. And if THAT happens, no impeachment will be necessary. The oligarchs will scramble for salvage and DT will resign, yowling martyrdom all the way. Or they'll beale him. God forbid.

But for that to happen. We need the one million RASRs who've already defected. We need them more that anything else.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Larry

They would NOT do the same!

But the dems would not take to the streets and burn half of the USA to the ground

Don Gisselbeck said...

One of my go to quotes on religion seems more true every day. "The tritest of maxims, that religion being the best of things, its corruptions must be the worst." - Jonathan Swift

Larry Hart said...

Duncan Carincross:

But the dems would not take to the streets and burn half of the USA to the ground.

So we should give in to hostage takers?

Larry Hart said...

@Donald Gisslebeck,

While Trump outrages us daily, nothing he does is a surprise in the sense of "Who could have guessed he'd be like that?" His outrageousness was obvious to some of us from the outset.

Likewise, that of institutionalized religion.

Larry Hart said...

Duncan Cairncross (revisited) :

But the dems would not take to the streets and burn half of the USA to the ground.

My immediate thought is "maybe we should".

Of course, we're not like that. And unlike the Republicans, burning the system down doesn't achieve our ends.

But they think we would. In 2008, my formerly-sane conservative buddy Chris used to talk about the atrocities hoards of black rioters would visit upon us should Obama lose the election. And of course , 50 years ago, rioting in the streets wasn't something associated with white supremacists or Republicans (pardon the redundancy). It was long-haired leftist hippies and black people who did that. That outdated image persists to this day, just as that of the "liberal media" does, or dead people voting in Chicago (rather than Waukeshau County, Wisconsin).

These days, we liberals are more into peaceful marches, but marches nonetheless. Thousands of counter-protesters to the pathetic dozen or so "Unite The Right II" Nazis. Millions of pussy-hatted womens' marchers compared to the half-empty mall at Benedict Donald's inauguration. Maybe what we need is for them to be as afraid of what those millions might decide to do in response to an outrage rather than for us to cower in fear at the Brownshirts.

And cynically, if they really do burn down half the country, it's going to be their half. I'm long past concerning myself with saving them from their own self-inflicted harm. From now on, when they metaphorically point a gun at their own heads and make demands, I'm having my snipers take the shot.

Jon S. said...

"But the dems would not take to the streets and burn half of the USA to the ground"

Or, in the words of Bette Midler, "What are we going to do, throw our PBS tote bags at them?"

David Brin said...

"What are we going to do, throw our PBS tote bags at them?"

I've been quietly checking. Since 2001, far more liberals than you'd guess have armed themselves. Taken classes. They just don't make a big, macho deal of it, nor buy more phallic compensators than can fit in the hands.

This is one reason why almost zero liberals have even remotely hinted at the "confiscation" scenarios that Fox hotair bloats breathlessly denounce. No one, even on the far-left, is even talking about such things. Not even the Parkland Kids. But the maddest of the confed psychos are in for a surprise, if they try executing a pogrom.

David Brin said...


Victoria said...

The morning after the election I posted a blog that began with the premise that we had elected a golden calf. I also mentioned that Pence was a greater fear because he was the one monster that could not be controlled - the True Believer. I don't know where we are going in this country in the near future, but I do believe that getting deeply involved in local politics will be the only buffer - as long as we can still survive with tariff laden goods.