Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Appointing good people... and surviving the bad. And Judo tactics!

 I won't join the maelstrom of noise surrounding the Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination, since we have other business in this posting. But I will offer three quick points:

1. If there's danger of "ruining his life," then yes, burden of proof falls on the accusers. But that's an absurd standard. This is not a trial that might lead to prison. It is a job interview for a promotion, and we prospective employers have a perfect right to consider even unproved accusations. And to demand that nominees have no shadows, even unproved ones. And so...

2. ...send us someone else! It's simple. Go to the GOP bullpen and send another candidate. Are you saying you don't have a deep bench of qualified, grownup conservatives? Even someone who hasn't been "groomed" by the oligarchy for decades?

3. What's with those suddenly-canceled Kavanaugh personal debts, which are asserted to be from illegal gambling? Even if that turns out to be calumny, don't we deserve to be sure this isn't blackmailable?

Enough. Everyone is chattering about this. Let's move on to things you'll find nowhere else.

== Science advice, at last? ==

In the 42 year history of the post of Presidential Science Adviser, some of the smartest humans have been appointed to help U.S. presidents grasp how scientific matters — confirmed facts and gray-unknowns — might bear upon policy decisions. Never was the position unoccupied anywhere near as long as Donald Trump has left it. We’ve been left to guess why… though your guess is probably right.

Elsewhere I commented when it seemed that the job might go to David Gelernter, a Unabomber victim and former tech-progressive who has veered down far-right paths… but who undoubtedly told Mr. Trump “I’ll still tell you if something is clearly untrue.” Oops, mistake. Poof, there went his chances.

All this time, “the highest-ranking science official in the White House has been a 31-year-old poli-sci grad who is a deputy assistant at the (eviscerated) Office of Science and Technology Policy.” (Not even ‘in’ the White House; OSTP (what’s left of it) is next door, in the Executive Office Building.)

Now, in a shock — possibly as a sop to the RASRs (Residually Adult-Sane Republicans) who still teeter inside the GOP tent — meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier, an expert on extreme weather, has been nominated to the position. 

Extreme weather would seem to be a highly pertinent topic, nowadays, and Droegemeier’s former colleagues say his views on climate change align with those of most scientists. And… “There are other scientific policy concerns that would benefit from a fully staffed OSTP, like the ongoing opioid epidemic.”

Clearly, something happened behind the scenes. May we all live to learn what it was. Because this is not in character for the Donald Trump who railed that “glaciers are advancing as never before!”  (Um they’re not and you should get big bar bets from your mad uncles about that.) In any event, there is no law that says the President has to ever meet with his Science Adviser.

That would change, under my proposed FACT ACT!

== Judo Tactics to flip Congress! ==

It was a brilliant political judo move - and no democrat will learn from it. In '94, Newt Gingrich's "Contract With America" made the GOP look serious, pragmatic, reformist, and their resulting transformation of Congress lasted to this day, rendering all but 2 years of the Clinton & Obama administrations legislatively neutered. Look at it! Half of the provisions were actual reforms... that (natch) the GOP later backed away from. The other half were rationalizations for a program of national rape that continues today. But look at how well-expressed and politically potent the Contract was!

Dems could do this. Even one prominent dem could do it -- offering a to-do list of tasks to be done -- in time to affect the mid-terms. Promises that would draw attention, shake things up, Here's one example:

"Along with others, on both sides of the aisle I promise to help end the vile way that the minority party has been treated, rendering half of all Americans without any influence or voice. 

"When Democrats are in the majority, we intend to push for a reform that will give every member of Congress - majority or minority - one blank subpoena per year, that she or he can use to demand testimony from any person, for two hours, before a committee of choice. This will empower member independence and make chairmen dependent on members, instead of the other way around.

"In this way, the minority party will never again be deprived of their right and duty to investigate, even when they are outvoted. Republicans used their majority power to neuter investigations and crush the voice of half the country. We will not act that way, when we regain majority! We will not stifle our honest, adult republican neighbors. And to prove it, we'll give up the power to do so!

"We will act like the Congress you want and deserve."

Sound persuasive? I can offer up nine more proposed "contract" items that would leave the foxites gaping like stranded fish. Why not use the most effective Congressional election strategy ever concocted for the benefit of the People, and not liars?

Alas, while the confederate side is corrupt and destructive, they have feral instincts at polemic. And no democrat has even a clue how to do polemical judo.

== Stop pinning your hopes on “collusion” ==

Stop using the fussy-sounding word “collusion.” Two Scoops has made it his own. So be agile. Try “cahoots.” It is down-earthy and gets right to the point. For example, when members of the cult try to veer into calling mafia-run Russia a model Christian friend, point them to the Russia-Iran alliance and watch them stammer…

…and remind them that the Kremlin and KGB remain the same, with the same goal, to undermine the western experiment in open-fair-accountable rule of democratic law. This enlightening article compares Moscow's current cozy support of the US radical right to their 1930s subversion via the American far-left. There are no essential differences. Indeed, some of the very same men are using some of the very same methods against us, as they did back when they wore hammer-and-sickle pins and sang the Internationale. As Paul Krugman points out: “Not long ago, Republicans insisted that Russia was our greatest threat, and that Barack Obama was betraying America by not confronting Vladimir Putin more forcefully; now Putin is one of the good guys, and the base has gone along with the change. We have always been at war with East Asia.”

See this cogent analysis of how the 1930s Soviet Union used exactly the same methods to inveigle their way into control over the American far-left (and were thwarted my our moderate labor movement) as the same agencies in the same building are using to take over our entire mad-right. Only without members of the moderate-sane – but cowardly - US right doing a damned thing about it.

“Cahoots,” indeed. Only in fact I do not expect Mueller to nail Two Scoops for it. Everyone should see how plainly blatant the treason is, across the entire Fox-maddened GOP. But it is hard to prove perfectly in a court of law. So, I'm betting it will all be brought down by accountants, as happened with Capone.

Watch. It'll be money laundering.

== Are you worried yet? ==

No, no. Nothing to see here. Look away. It’s all made-up lib’rul war-mongering. Look away as -- “Russia Prepares 300,000 Troops For Its Largest War Games In 4 Decades.” It  will involve more than 1,000 aircraft and the help of Chinese soldiers. The Kremlin says it has not mustered drills on such a scale since 1981.

No, no. These ex-KGB guys can be trusted, now that they have switched from hammer-sickle pins to mafia oligarchy. Watch the orange ball and listen to the fox. Trust the Kremlin. They… are… your… friends…

Meanwhile, as he and his fellow oligarchs get massive infusions and tax cuts that send US deficits skyrocketing,Trump says civilian government employees won't receive raises in 2019, citing budget strain.” Of course the motive is blatant.   Demolishing civil service protections that go back 140 years has been a top GOP priority. But if they can’t fire-em, then squeeze a lot of them out, financially. Part of the war on all fact-using “elites.”

"The United States trade deficit widened in June and is on track to be the biggest in a decade despite President Trump’s efforts to slash it. For the first half of 2018, the trade deficit in goods and services hit $291.2 billion, the federal government reported." Keep this in mind as we consider…
== The stunning justification for an expected betrayal ==

“New in GOP logic: Antipoverty programs worked so well, we must get rid of them.” A report released last month from the White House’s Council of Economic Advisors takes an amazing tactic to support new restrictions on the safety net. The right’s brain trust now assures us that comprehensive antipoverty programs are no longer necessary because 50 years of such interventions — yes, those same ones long hated, and their effectiveness belittled, by the GOP — have succeeded so spectacularly that poverty is largely a thing of the past.

Mind you, we all expected this phase two of the plan by Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and the oligarchy to first give huge tax gifts to the rich and then use the resulting supernova deficits as an excuse to undercut help for the poor. 

For the record, serious/sober Entitlements Reforms were fully negotiated back in the early 1990s, under Bill Clinton, between moderate Democrats and sane Republican politicians… when such existed. Among the many crimes of Dennis “Friend to boys” Hastert was driving a stake through the heart of reasonable, negotiated entitlements reform.

But consider the stunning declaration that “there’s almost no poverty in the U.S. because Great Society programs mostly worked.” This op-ed takes on the stunning calumny of that disingenuous position, by showing how the problem has not gone away, and any person of conscience should demand we improve our methods – or find new ones – to erase poverty’s curse. (Though if you compare today to 1960s images of gap-tooth hillbillies and illiterate sharecroppers and coldwater tenements, certainly the nature of poverty has changed.)

But I take another tack. “So now you are admitting that the endeavor that was started by the WWII Greatest Generation (who adored FDR) and carried forward by Lyndon Johnson, pushed by labor unions but resisted by generations of Republicans…actually worked well? 

Um, then, who, across our political spectrum, has credibility, right now?

Let me surprise you by saying “not far-lefties.” If the entire right has gone bonkers-corrupt-treasonous-loco, there certainly are some at the opposite extreme who have a peculiar and deeply harmful mania… absolutely never to admit that any reform ever did any good at all. In a puritan fetish that would make Miles Standish proud, they insist that nothing good has come of 70 years of liberal efforts to reduce race and gender prejudice or poverty or to protect the environment. Faced with voluminous evidence — e.g. from Steven Pinker and Peter Diamandis — that our liberal society has  achieved great things — for example reducing the fraction of world children who are hungry to the lowest rate in human history and ensuring 90% of kids go to school — their response is volcanic rage. 

Their reason?  A loopy notion that - were we ever to admit how far we’ve come - good people would feel less incentive to work at the rest of the effort needed, to save the world. It is a patronizingly offensive reflex and a deeply harmful one, when bragging about the effectiveness of liberal reform is exactly how to sell more of it.

And so we have truly entered Bizarro World, where right-wing think tanks extoll the effectiveness of the measures pushed by FDR, Johnson and ML King - hoping thus to end those programs. Meanwhile, far-lefties pour venom at anyone who points to progress achieved by those reformers. 

Hence I have to ask… who writes this crap?

And what happened to a nation of rational minds, committed to pragmatic, ongoing progress?


Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

"We will act like the Congress you want and deserve."

Sound persuasive? I can offer up nine more proposed "contract" items that would leave the foxites gaping like stranded fish. Why not use the most effective Congressional election strategy ever concocted for the benefit of the People, and not liars?

We already tried that and it did somewhat work--the speech by State Senator Obama at the 2004 Democratic convention. It convinced me right then and there that I wish that guy was white so that he might be our next president.

Unfortunately, I think you underestimate the national bias toward Republicans as those most worthy to be leaders. The Contract For America (cynically, Contract On America) persuaded voters that Republicans were serious because all they needed was some sophistry to latch onto supporting that very specific proposition. The same thing doesn't work for Democrats. Voters would assume they're lying if they considered the subject at all. More likely, they'd tune out and just hear "Democratic babbling", and then turn on FOX News to hear what they're supposed to think about the whole thing.

Oh, your suggestion would work on a subset of voters--myself for example--but we're not the ones who need to be convinced. At this point in time, I can't imagine anything that would make hard-core Republican voters change their votes. Their tribal loyalty is more important than any issue.

donzelion said...

"But look at how well-expressed and politically potent the Contract was!"

Rather, look at where the Contract was expressed: Limbaugh/Fox were surging in popularity before the Contract came out, and rode the news story almost exclusively, forcing CNN and mainstream news to take not. Gingrich had been doing his midnight speeches for a few years - but it wasn't until the '90s that he found an audience. The Contract 'happened' largely because entire media networks had formed to disseminate it. That would not happen again.

"Dems could do this."
And have done it, printing just as many solid commitments as Gingrich penned, but never obtaining blanket free advertising or promotion for their agenda. Mainstream media would never give Dems carte blanche positive coverage (at least, not without charging them to air commercials). FoxNews coverage is mainly dedicated to doing the Hillary treatment to Nancy Pelosi, who is widely despised by the right, even if most have no idea why (Goldstein? Feinstein? yep...)

"Why not use the most effective Congressional election strategy ever concocted for the benefit of the People, and not liars?"
As soon as they own a media/propaganda outlet capable of implementing that strategy...

"And no democrat has even a clue how to do polemical judo."
Again, you'd be surprised. However, no democrat has deep enough pockets to advertise their judo (and the lead contender as potentially richest Dem in Congress happens to be a candidate I'm working for...and has an odd habit of giving his money away to help kids afford college - a very kindly behavior, but one that receives precious little air time).

" Putin is one of the good guys, and the base has gone along with the change. We have always been at war with East Asia.”
Again: this reflects the power of rightwing media - cultivated as the perfect market segment, the most susceptible audience ever imagined.

"Everyone should see how plainly blatant the treason is, across the entire Fox-maddened GOP. But it is hard to prove perfectly in a court of law. So, I'm betting it will all be brought down by accountants, as happened with Capone."
If meteorologists and scientists are easily offset by the media machinery, accountants are even easier (and more likely to work for the folks who put this together).

"Hence I have to ask… who writes this crap?"
An army of ghostwriters mostly, working for whatever paycheck they can glean, hoping they may, a la Steve Bannon, find a wealthy benefactor who will give them a personal platform. The operating structure is vaguely analogous to Hollywood - where starving actors and actresses make do waiting tables and chasing gigs - ever mindful of the need to demonstrate loyalty and suitability as a henchling.

Alfred Differ said...

US GDP should take a hit tomorrow. 8)

Normally I make popcorn to watch the political news.
I don't think it is appropriate this time.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Alfred

"US GDP should take a hit tomorrow"


yana said...

David Brin:

"... no democrat has even a clue how to do polemical judo."

Have written about this elsewhere, proposed the Dems need a huckster. But in the good way, the sly but gregarious homepsun kind of huckster, not one who'd cheat you out of your mortgage, but one who would share a cola while he or she explained just how they scammed you, and end up with you laughing about it too.

It was stunning how inept Hillary's messaging was, as if her writers felt contracted by the expected delivery and the oratory style fed back on her conservatory of writers. Like she believed the scripts were focus-grouped to appeal, when the scripts were actually compacted by what the speechwriters could envision her saying, discarding what they couldn't imagine coming out of her mouth. So many times in 2016, guttered at a screen: "hey, why didn't you follow that meaty line with "such and such because simple truth"?"

Her writers didn't get more than skindeep into basic political theory, even after they had a Bernscare in the primaries. Even after the Obamascare which turned out to be real in 2008, her core advisors maintained soft positions on middle-ground issues, playing the perennial politician game of fence until fire.

The Dems need a huckster. Slings 'em as she gets 'em, calls 'em as he sees 'em, in cahoots with nobody but everybody, but always in some cahoot or other. 25 months out, but it looks like prez-elect Booker. Unheard of, for someone to get to the national level via New Jersey politics and stay clean. No really, it's a remarkable accomplishment. But then again, in 1998 i predicted President Daschle, so what do i know?

David Brin:

"technology is not technocracy ... a concept of meritocratic status and not standard bio inheritance, though the tendency will always be toward nepotism, which is my point! Try to get the point."

I got those points, took it a step farther because you said:

"There are no plausible scenarios by which it could happen in the West."

Not saying it could happen here, but there is a plausible scenario in 'the West'. Whatever -ocracy you have, it seeks to perpetuate itself by slowly absorbing candidates from two junior varsity pools: the merchant princes and the priesthood. In today's West we call them 'CEOs' and 'Tech Gurus'.

When any Western citizen starts an online session, patterns of website views, app use, and even idle mouse movement can identify that person with damn-near 100% accuracy. That's now, today. Soon, it'll be good enough to make secure online voting possible. Just a hop and a skip, for a tech priesthood to outweigh old money on the political scales. Perhaps more possible in other Western nations than the US, think Iceland or Finland, highly netmeshed places.

Altruistic absence of nepotism will not prevent any -ocracy from trying to perpetuate itself. As human conflict progresses from warfare to policing to pure politics, the arbiters of information become more powerful. That sounds a lot like the precursor to the rise of a technocracy.

Not predicting, just saying that it's one of a few "plausible scenarios," and any fantastic magical -ocracy which manages to lift 90% of its people up, still rationalizes the repression of 10% of the plebes, to perpetuate itself.

I get the point, you're working towards dropping that bedrock political principle from 10% to zero. Me too. But technocracy is not immune to infighting and backbiting and frontstabbing, forget nepotism, there's plenty of opportunity for repression in academe.

David Brin said...

A "positive huckster" example would be Lincoln. Or FDR. Heck even Truman.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Movies from an asteroid:

Zepp Jamieson said...

Reports are that Trump is in an utter fury at this time over how credible and solid Dr. Ford's testimony has been.
Kavanaugh is toast, I think.

Arizsun Ahola said...

This comment at the end of the OP plays exactly to those far left worries:

"And so we have truly entered Bizarro World, where right-wing think tanks extoll the effectiveness of the measures pushed by FDR, Johnson and ML King - hoping thus to end those programs. Meanwhile, far-lefties pour venom at anyone who points to progress achieved by those reformers."

Fear of this kind of rationalization is exactly what leads the far left to not admit progress. Because they know that if progress is admitted that the right will then say "OK then, you all agree the programs worked, so now their job is done and we can stop working on that stuff."

The short sited aspect is that the right is going to take any statement from the far left as a reason to end such efforts. If the far left says no progress has been made, the right will say the programs are a failure and should be canceled for that reason. If the far left says some progress has been made, but more remains to be done, the right will say the programs were well intentioned, but ultimately very inefficient and should be canceled in favor of more efficient, free market solutions. If the far left says the programs were a success then the right will say, as here, that the programs have done their jobs and should now be canceled.

The lesson is to ignore what the right says or might say, since their answer to any domestic situation is always the same "Give tax cuts to the ultra wealthy!", and carry on trying to solve real problems. In a free society you will never get lock step agreement on tactics, so some people will always use ineffective tactics.

David Brin said...

Arizsun you describe the different domains of illogical quandary very well. But you reach a completely wrong conclusion. The middle ground declaration is best:

"General interventionist-reformist liberalism has worked magnificently better than all previous efforts at world-improvement, combined. It has uplifted most of the world's children and provided humanity's greatest era of peace and development and advancement. So much so, that we have traversed perhaps half of the danger zone.

"Of course, if we don't go the rest of the way, then at-best freedom and enlightenment will collapse-- and at worst we all will die. Investing more could decide between heaven and hell."

Are you telling us that argument won't work on hard-right confederate jerks? Sure.

Are you telling us that argument is FUTILE? Then bullshit. There are tens of millions who are NOT hard-right confederate jerks, who will be converted by such a clear, pragmatic argument.

Your perceptive logical array was respect-worthy. Your 'logic' in reaching your surrenderist conclusion was deeply flawed.

Arizsun Ahola said...

Dr Brin,

No, that is what I meant by "and carry on trying to solve real problems." In other words, don't worry about what extremists on either end will say about things, point out successes and how far we've come, but keep working on making things even better. Spending effort on what the far left or right wing reactionaries say is wasted effort. Working with the pragmatic middle is where things get done.

Right now the right wing in the US has declared anything slightly to their left as commies and traitors. Until they want to rejoin us in reality I don't know that much is to be gained from seeking out conversations with them. The far left is, as you have pointed out, mainly used as a boogeyman by the right to tar all left and centrist people, but given freedom of speech the far left will far left and again I am skeptical of the value of engaging with them.

David Brin said...

I agree with every word, except the futility of stating our very best logical and pragmatic and compassionate case for a vigorously liberal society. Yes the FAR 5% of the left is unreachably insane. And yes, all but 5% of today's right is unreachably insane.

But that sane 5% of the right matters like no one else! Peel them off of the confed coalition and it will collapse. It is already teetering on the verge. There will be some level of defection by RASRs that will wound Rupert's lie machine deeply. And this is the core argument, above all others.

matthew said...

It is an idiotic argument to say that any conservatives can still be reached. Our own resident "sane conservative" Tacitus / Tim has shown he will not be swayed by any evidence. You've run this experiment, Doc. It's time to quit appealing to a non-existent middle.

There is good and there is evil.

Anyone still willing to support the GOP for dogcatcher is *evil*.
Anyone that could be reached has already left the GOP.

donzelion said...

"And yes, all but 5% of today's right is unreachably insane."

I'd put it more at 10-15% (the portion that still votes Republican, but does not support Trump). That's the approx % experts regard as 'opportunistic voters' - folks who back the winning side. Partisans don't recognize their existence, but they're quite well-documented, esp. in 1st gen immigrant communities (nothing else accounts for the much larger % of Latinos who vote Republican than Jewish/African-Americans who do - similar splits occur in Korean communities, which lean Dem in Dem areas and Rep in Rep areas).

"Peel them off of the confed coalition and it will collapse."
'Opportunistic' voters are hard to peel off. To convince Republican-aligned voters of the Republican change took hundreds of repeated mentions of the 'Contract on America' - which is why it became daily grist on Rep aligned news channels (and even so-called 'Dem' channels, though the fact that every such channel is itself corporate owned/corporate fed should have made folks dubious about Fox's branding coup...).

Replicating that will require hundreds of thousands of hours of professional, popular, widely viewed Dem television (even MSNBC is not a 'Dem outlet' - though Trevor Noah came closer).

Opportunism is sticky: voters tend to commit to 'the local winning team' save during extreme crises (e.g., an American city is effectively destroyed, as in '06, or the entire economy in meltdown, as in '08).

So what to do? If any 'Blue Wave' occurs, it's best expressed through the unprecedented hundreds of volunteers turning out to try to push it forward. Reps could go to evangelical churches and turn out vols by the hundreds for decades, but no one has seen this many vols come through on the Dems. No one can say if it'll work, only that there's no better strategy available.

donzelion said...

All that said...these adorable lil hopping bots are, for me, as comforting as puppy shots on a hard day.

New photos (even a 'video') seem to be posted every few days...

donzelion said...

And another tidbit: anyone wonder whether cultured meat (meat grown from tissues, rather than taken from slaughtered animals) is kosher?

For some reason, this debate evokes memories of 'Canticle for Liebowitz' for me (more so than the Hyperion)...

Treebeard said...

When you start calling a large chunk of the population insane, it may be time to rethink your definition of insanity. Sanity being a social construct (like progress, legality, evil, etc.), this is of course ludicrous. People who are in the business of continually redefining normality would probably be considered rather crazy by most of humanity across the world and throughout history. Again, what I hear are people within the asylum called the WEIRDo bubble accusing people outside their bubble of being crazy (or even “evil”), and it’s hilarious.

Alfred Differ said...

@Treebeard | Might work except for the fact that the collective does occasionally go insane. Nazi Germany is an obvious example.

Unfortunately when this happens it is often followed by a period of blood letting.

donzelion said...

Still meditating on 'cultured meat' - I stumbled across this tidbit:

They're still working on the science of the product, and already the laws are coming on stream to ban the terms! According to the complaint, Missouri issued a 2018 statute which criminalizes “misrepresenting” a product as “meat” if that product is “not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” Note the meaning of 'harvested' excludes cell-based/clean-meat as well as 'tofu turkey' and other 'meat replacements' derived from plants.

The tactic by the Missouri Cattlemen isn't 'insane': it's intended as a variation on the 'Defense of Marriage' definitional efforts of a decade or so ago. The Republicans control 71% of the seats on the Missouri Senate; this is their handiwork. It's not even 'anti-science' or anti-fact per se: the Republicans may be concerned about Missouri shoppers who believe that 'tofu turkey' came from the 'tofu bird.' Such a shopper isn't exactly 'insane' - just...well...they need a little help, and the Republicans are there to give it to them. (Really: the effort is to sabotage moves by the manufacturers of vegetarian meat substitutes...few of whom are based in Missouri...'Memphis Meats,' for example, is a San Francisco based company...)

David Brin said...

A fair question from treebeard. Answer is inflexible inability to accept even the possibility that a mountain of evidence might prove you wrong. It's one thing to doubt that such evidence exists and too demand very high standards before you change your mind. It is another to be unable to change your mind even knowing evidence is overwhelming against your stance.

The biggest liberal stupidity of the last 50 years... desegregation through forced school bussing ... did the movement spectacular harm. Many liberals were obstinate. But eventually they gave way to clear proof it was stupid.

In fairness, most rebs now admit tobacco is harmful and cars cause smog and rivers shouldn't catch fire and minorities shouldn't be lynched... a vastly, vastly longer list. But there will never, ever be any excuse for today's all out, open war against facts IN PRINCIPLE! It is the very definition of insanity.

Don Gisselbeck said...

As one of your near loony lefties, regularly talking about guillotines and Eisenhower tax rates, I am acutely aware of how good I have it and how much progress we have made. I am "but a mechanic" worrying about how to find practice time for various village bands and whether I will get enough training in to ski the Stanton Glacier next month. What terrifies and enrages me is that it really looks like the Republican Party and the many soi disant libertarians infesting our society cannot stand us untermenschen living such a good life. They are trying hard to destroy the government which is the only thing capable of protecting us from the predator class. Leaving us to the tender mercies of the Free Market (bless its holy name), I remind you would, leave most of us starving in the streets or working 90 hours a week for bad room and board and an ever increasing debt to the company store.

yana said...

What could be the answer then? Can't force people to smarten up, and can't prevent them from voting... 'intelligence tests' were a horrendous tool of repression, no matter how good they suddenly sound today!

Keep recalling the immortal words of Nicol Williamson in Excalibur: "It is the doom of men that they forget." Lindsay Graham was there and salivating when Mr. Bill was impeached, but today's frothy tirade was an unveiled threat to "your nominees" in the future.

So Graham speckled his microphone in a wail about if the Dems win back power, then we might be forced to run the federal gov't without people who've been accused of rape?

Uhhh, Lin... just not seeing the downside there. He might see a drawback with a date-rape-less goverment, but even the low-info among us commoners, we think that sounds pretty sane.

On the paler hand, it is the doom of men that they forget. The left doesn't, the right doesn't, but the larger middle does. It could be, that too many people have forgotten why Roe/Wade happened in the first place. Botched surgeries in dingy flophouse rooms left women bleeding out or jailed, and 45 years ago, suddenly a lot of the victims were nice white girls.

Maybe it's time to let Roe/Wade go? Let Brett in, let him and 4 other men clamp down on women (he already knows how). Take a step backward, so a fresh generation gets a painfully blatant example of why legislating morality is a dumb idea. Throw it back to the Various States.

I know, i know, but consider this: the immorality of the right can only run above water with the complicity of the religious, and abortion is the only reason this unholy matrimony still exists. Remove the issue from national politics, and you unshackle the conscience of christians to pursue the rest of their agenda, which is largely aligned with liberal social positions.

Faith, Love, Charity. If you forget where that trilog comes from, if you just read it for the first time, you would assume that it's a list of leftward party planks.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: We've gone over the school busing story before. School busing was certainly cruel, inflicting immense hardship on the kids and families that underwent it. But blaming 'liberal stupidity' mangles causality about as much as blaming FDR for Hitler's rise to power, or blaming the civil war on 'states rights' violations rather than slavery.

Try starting with a good book on how and where segregation worked - Rothstein's "The Color of Law" is a fine choice (his emphasis is housing, but schooling has always been tightly connected).

Essentially, no 'liberal' ever supported 'school busing' per se. However, when segregationists realized they'd never win through KKK-styled 'public defiance,' they adopted tricks that worked well elsewhere, esp. tricks from California (Nixon was quite familiar with how California implemented segregation...several of folks from Republican teams did the initial outreach to Dixiecrats like Jesse Helms). If one draws district lines, shuts schools down, and tweaks budgets, then zones for certain sized houses (to control the tax base), no judge can force a city to open new schools and pay new teachers. A judge CAN declare district lines invalid, even merge two districts, but unless there are spaces in the schools, the kids will stay right where they were before - absent extraordinary measures.

Republicans captured the entire Dixiecrat wing largely by coaching them on how to 'defy' without breaking the law. Again, these tricks were many decades old in California - we'd been 'segregating' with a slightly different legal structure than Jim Crow since statehood (we did start focusing on higher ed to cure the harms inflicted by the K-12 system, but that came a little later, and had its own complex set of drivers), intended to harm a completely different minority.

The other side effect of the Republican investment into school districting was building a knowledge depth that would later serve interests of gerrymandering...but that came much later (not until 1990, really). Gerrymandering may be a 'dirty trick,' but there's a depth of factual expertise needed to pull it off, knowledge that surpasses "folks who look like this live over here" and reaches into zoning ordinances and city council agendas.

donzelion said...

Yana: Ah, Excalibur introduced the West to Liam Neeson, Patrick Stewart, Gabriel Byrne, Hellen Mirren, and quite a few others. My favorite line: "When a man lies, he murders a place in the world." No treatment of Arthur has surpassed it.

And yet...I must quibble here:

"the immorality of the right can only run above water with the complicity of the religious, and abortion is the only reason this unholy matrimony still exists."

You're right up until the italicized portion: abortion is just a tool, not the glue itself. Look to the financiers of every evangelical church - rich widows and others may donate crazy sums occasionally, but really, the day-to-day finance flows from a tiny handful of members, business owners. The one paying the piper calls the tune.

To some extent, the Trump Republican demographic is a 'post-church' evangelical - folks who show up rarely, who don't care all that much about doctrine, but just seek tribal affiliation somewhere. Since they never financed the church, their absence isn't missed much. But there's a co-dependency dynamic between church and politics - the 'glue' holding that together is is Rupert Mordred.

duncan cairncross said...

School segregation

The way to fix that is to SEPARATE the Schools funding from the local property taxes

You could even go the way NZ went and give MORE funding specifically to schools in areas where the parents are poorer

As long as you fund schools from local property taxes you will NOT be able to fix the problem

yana said...


"No treatment of Arthur has surpassed it."

Darn, had been looking forward to catching the three Arthur movies which came out in '17 in a single popcorn binge some Sunday soon.

Otherthing, perhaps you overcredit the stability of evangelical churches. Watch early AM tv on outlier channels. There, the megachurch Big Show is on an equal footing with the Feldicks and Campings, not because of finances, but because you find one thing in religion which you do not find in business or politics: an honest hope for authenticity.

When typing out "abortion is the only reason this unholy matrimony still exists," a later readthru struck out the subsequent clause: "on a national level." Should've kept that in. If we reduce the fight over abortion to smaller local squabbles, it will be much harder for a church of any size to organize crusades of any kind. The flock will be on to other things, the next Good News to bring to America.

Luckily, there are thousands of pastoral ideas about what they should tackle next, and each one has to argue with a handful of deacons. One of this country's genius innovations over monarchy was to combine freedom of religion with a free press. Fncking genius, it ensures fragmentation of religion.

Unless you can unite it around one pawthorn. Which Roe/Wade has done. Remove the thorn, unleash the diversity of the evangs, and about half will refocus on personal beliefs. Up next are Love, Faith and Charity. The post-RvW churches separate into camps, and it'll be plain as day for any believer to see where the authenticity goes.

Acacia H. said...

While I must admit I get irked seeing Dr. Brin constantly shilling his novels while writing these blogs (it sometimes gets old seeing 99% of us know about his novels and have ready several of them at the very least), one thing that draws me back is how he does have some truly good ideas, both that he comes up with and stuff drawn up by the groupthink mechanism of this blog. But... I do have a question.

Dr. Brin, you had an excellent idea on creating a "term limit" for Supreme Court Justices. It is a good idea and well worth implementing. But there is one small problem we need to consider: how do we implement it?

There are three Justices who have served over 6,574 days: Ginsburg, Thomas, and Breyer. Roberts and Alito have served not-quite-13 years. So how would we go about and set up a system where each Presidential Term gets two Justices to replace?

For that matter, if we're going to put in term limits for Supreme Court Justices... why not do the same for Senators and Representatives? We might consider altering how long people serve before elections as well - the current system doesn't even give people a chance to govern, as the moment someone is elected they have to start fundraising to fend off opponents in two years. So why not alter the Representatives so they serve four-year terms with a limit of 12 years as a Representative... and Senators can either remain with six-year terms with a limit of 12 years as a Senator or one eight-year term (with every four years alternating Senators for each State). Presidents could have their Terms increased to two six-year terms to create added stability of government and allow a President to actually be chief executive for four years before they have to start worrying about reelection.

Rob H. who knows the latter will never happen as no politician wants to accept term limits are a good thing as they want to remain in office forever.

David Smelser said...

How to implement SCOTUS term limits: Every x years appoint a new justice who replaces the justice who has the longest tenure on the supreme court. If there is a premature vacancy, an immediate appointment occurs and this takes the place of the scheduled appointment. (This reduces the likelihood of a single president packing the court).

If you want to allow existing justices to keep their lifetime appointments, then you still allow new justices to be appoint every x years and expand the court. When lifetime justices retire/die, they are not replaced -- this decreases the the size of the court. Eventually you'll get to the current nine.

Tacitus said...

In what might be a mild surprise, I am not going to rehash

The question of life time terms for SC justices is an interesting one.

I wonder how much of the Constitution was based on the reality of the late 18th century. If a person had lived long enough to have some decent SC credentials they were likely at least 40. The average life expectancy in that era was somewhere in the late 40s. (Many variables, geographic and socio-ec, but even the wealthy still got m.tuberculum coughed in their general direction every day). If you look at terms of service, in the Top 40 there is exactly one who was appointed before 1800. And that was 1799 to boot.

The concept of long serving SC Justices was probably not fully considered. With age comes wisdom. But also, so often, physical and mental frailty.

The concept of term limits generally would find favor among a wide spectrum of American politics. And more to the point, an even wider spectrum of the real world.


Larry Hart said...

@Tim Wolter,

I'm not disagreeing with your assessment that "lifetime appointments" would be shorter back then, but adding something to that.

The idealistic Founders probably thought that Supreme Court justices would strive to be impartial and as objective as possible. Appointments would be geared toward finding the finest legal minds, not toward picking someone who agreed with a particular political philosophy. I doubt the credited the concept of a single president or party packing the court with those who would cheat in a particular way.

Tacitus said...


I don't know. You'd think for a conservative I would view the past with reverence and fondness. But there were rough and tumble politics back then. People had armed uprisings over whisky. Duels were fought. And of course the very concept of political parties had not - to our probable misfortune - yet been invented.


CP said...

Since the topic of supreme court reform has come up, here're a few suggestions for generally "re-balancing" power in Washington. I suspect it would improve the situation considerably if it was "all done at once." Of course, I also have no expectation that it will happen.

Give the president the line item veto. Allow congress to override vetoes either "by item" or by "all vetoes in a bill" with a 2/3 majority of both houses. Require a veto to be issued within 60 days of passage and and an override to be passed within 60 days of a veto.

Require a timely vote on all appointees. Committees should not be able to kill appointments. Rather, they should be limited to sending appointees to the whole body for a vote with a recommendation to confirm, a recommendation to reject or no recommendation. If the committee does not rule in a timely fashion (90 days after submission during the first year of an administration, 60 days after submission during subsequent years) the appointee would automatically go to a vote with "no recommendation".

Require concurrence by a simple majority of the senate for dismissal of any executive branch employee who requires confirmation. In other words, the president should not be able to fire them unilaterally but only petition the senate for their dismissal. The senate should be required to act within 30 days.

Allow congress to void any executive action (orders, pardons, revocations of security clearance, military deployments...) with a 2/3 vote of both houses taken within 60 days. Prohibit the president from reinstating a voided action for at least 30 days after a successful vote.

In addition to the current procedure for impeachment, allow congress to remove a president "without cause" with a 2/3 vote in the house and a 3/4 vote in the senate.

Abolish the filibuster and individual holds as currently used in the senate. But, establish a requirement of 60 votes for confirmation of any official who serves for a fixed term rather than "at the pleasure of the president." Also, adopt Senator Harkin's suggestion of successive votes with declining requirements for passage(first vote--60, 2nd vote 55, 3rd vote 50) in order to permit reasonable delay so things can't be "rammed through in the middle of the night". But, apply it only to legislation, not appointees, and not to amendments. Also, use it in both the house and senate.

Establish an 18 year, fixed term for the supreme court with one justice being replaced every two years. Assure independence by automatically paying former justices the difference between their gross incomes and their inflation-adjusted salaries for life.

Abolish the discrete "chief justice" office. The duties of the chief justice should be automatically exercised by the senior justice for the final two years of his term.

Allow congress to void a 5-4 supreme court decision with a 2/3 vote of both houses taken within 60 days of the ruling. Allow congress to void a 6-3 decision with a 3/4 vote of both houses taken within 60 days of the ruling. Rulings by 7-2, 8-1 and 9-0 majorities could not be voided. "Void" means making it as if the case had never been taken by the court--the lower court ruling would govern in its jurisdiction: no precedent would be set: the supreme court would be free to revisit the issue in future cases.

By the way, suggested periods for actions aren't intended as "definitive"--just one possibility under the requirement that they be "timely."

Just to broaden the discussion a bit...

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

But there were rough and tumble politics back then. People had armed uprisings over whisky.

I get that. But remember, judicial review wasn't even invented until the Jefferson administration. I don't think people back then thought of the Supreme Court as a way of imposing a particular political will over the other two branches of government.

Duels were fought.

The Hamilton fan in me knows all about that. :)

And of course the very concept of political parties had not - to our probable misfortune - yet been invented.

Wasn't George Washington always a Federalist?

David Brin said...

yana you are right that a reversal of Roe/Wade could nail shut the GOP’s coffin, as their attack on the ACA reversed it from unpopular to popular. Dems are stupidly ignoring the power that could be gained from bragging: “look at which states are backing out of the goddam drug war!” What an incredible polemic to use with marginal, small-L” libertarians!

DG: I agree with most of what you said, with one criticism. Do NOT fall for the notion that today’s right represents fair-competitive market economics.. They are enemies(!) of Adam Smith and fair-flat-open enterprise! They are oligarch-lord-cheaters and everything Adam Smith hated! It is time for liberals to declare that WE are the true defenders of REGULATED markets that are to only kind in 6000 years that were ever creative, productive and fair. Our ancestors in the Greatest Generation knew this.

Seriously, visit the EVONOMICS site where liberal economists and historians are (finally!) rediscovering Adam Smith and how - today - he’d be a democrat.

David Brin said...

donzelion I am cold to your argument. Forced school bussing had zero positive traits, achieved zero positive effects, wrought spectacular harm to liberalism at all levels, and has been desperately forgotten by liberals in a mania of amnesia, the same as rightists forget tobacco, ozone, smog, racism and rivers on fire. Stop trying to rationalize. Prove you are sane by admitting… “Oops, that’s one time we were really really wrong.”

BTW... buy my books! ;0)

sociotard said...

Elon Musk is now being sued over his recent tweets about taking full control and being all funded up. Article claims the government will seek to remove him from serving as CEO of anything ever again.

they insist that nothing good has come of 70 years of liberal efforts to reduce race . . . prejudice . . . Their reason? A loopy notion that - were we ever to admit how far we’ve come - good people would feel less incentive to work at the rest of the effort needed, to save the world.

70 years? since 1948? Certainly since then there has been improvements. But . . .

You are falling victim to the reverse of the problem where Conservatives say there has been no warming in 15 years; the statement is true but looking at different time ranges is revealing. What if, instead of looking back to the time when the armed forces were just barely getting integrated, you looked back to when you wrote "Earth"? Has anything good come of racial integration efforts since then?

Meta-analysis of field experiments shows no change in racial discrimination in hiring over time [since 1989]

Don't let the Perfect be the enemy of the Good
Don't let the Good be the enemy of the Improvable
Don't let the Improvable be the enemy of Hope

Ahcuah said...

Larry Hart:

I get that. But remember, judicial review wasn't even invented until the Jefferson administration.

If you read Madison's Notes on the Convention, when discussing the Supreme Court they specifically mention, with approval, judicial review regarding constitutionality that had already happened in some states.

Ahcuah said...

Regarding Evonomics, it bugs me that none of the articles are dated.

On the other hand, following them on facebook pretty much achieves the same end. And even if they re-highlight an older article on facebook, it is well worth it.

Cari Burstein said...

Regarding term limits- I remember discussing them once with an older relative of mine. To me they seemed like a fine idea, but she pointed out that the current structure of congress is very seniority driven, so if they are implemented only in some states, you end up with a situation where those states are at a disadvantage for key committees and such. So it would need to be implemented uniformly and with a restructuring of how the seniority system works.

In addition, one could argue that it is kind of a profession that must be learned to some extent. There are many arcane rules and processes that are involved in being in congress. So term limits could have some negative consequences as you'd have less people who understand the system. That being said, the current system where the same people stay forever and there's very little fresh blood or competitive seats has its own issues, and I think we've seen that competence at working the congressional rules doesn't necessarily lead to good governing, so I do believe it could benefit from reform.

To me though, the problems in congress are a symptom of a much larger problem of voter malaise, too much money in politics, and a broken system of how we even manage elections and districting. Too many decisions that should be made in a non-partisan way are dominated by politics. We don't have much in the way of national standards for how elections and districting should work. I don't know how we get there though.

Larry Hart said...

Has anyone else heard of the case before the supreme court that I just heard about on Stephanie Miller's show, "Gamble vs The United States"? Apparently, the gist of the case is for the court to rule that states may not prosecute crimes that have already gone through the federal courts.

This is what the Republicans are so hot to have Kavanaugh rule on.

Illegitimate yet???

David Brin said...

Good point LH

Sociotard, 1948 was spectacular and shame on you for not realizing. The year Orwell’s book came out. The year the US desegregated the military, making then end result inevitable. Establishment of several important international institutions and full momentum for the Marshall Plan. Gimme a break.

“Conservatives say there has been no warming in 15 years; the statement is true but looking at different time ranges is revealing…” It was true in no ways, but slimy-lie-able only in a certain blatantly-lying sense.

“What if, instead of looking back to the time when the armed forces were just barely getting integrated, you looked back to when you wrote "Earth"? Has anything good come of racial integration efforts since then?”

Jesus. Fellah doesn’t notice President Barack Obama. Criminy, have you seen the fraction of TV commercials featuring interracial couples? It is not my job to cure your obdurate blindness. It is dogma driven and I will get nowhere.

sociotard said...

I'd say that the ability to get a job is more important than optics in TV ads. Stagnation in the one is easily more important than the other.

donzelion said...

Yana: "No treatment of Arthur has surpassed it."
Well, maybe Monty Python, but that's more of a dissecting/displacing than surpassing.

"perhaps you overcredit the stability of evangelical churches."
I hope I didn't give that impression. Finances drive a great deal behind the scenes, and drive furthest when most desperate. But I take your point and agree - 'an honest hope for authenticity' is exceptionally powerful (and I'm familiar with more than one kingdom built thereby).

"abortion is the only reason this unholy matrimony still exists," a later readthru struck out the subsequent clause: "on a national level."
Ah. In that case, I think you're probably right. Abortion is a 'signalling' tool, used to indicate allegiance. Historically, the churches did in fact segment and schism over other struggles - American history is rife with such divisions and subdivisions (as is Protestant history generally, and most religious history over the long-term).

That said, we've never had a 'free press' that operated precisely the way it does now. Limitations of media made post offices the primary purveyor of news for many generations, and as news transmitted through post to bars/pulpits, it took on local hues that supported local cleavage. Yet the old mechanisms no longer apply: it's hard to see what new patterns will manifest.

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: “Oops, that’s one time we were really really wrong.”
Oops, that's one time we were really wrong.

20 years after Brown v. Board, when it was illegal to segregate schools, we should have just realized there's nothing that can be done, leave things alone, stop trying new tactics to break up the structure that imposed it...shrug aside the law and Constitution and those publicly, deliberately defying it - proudly - and moved on to other subjects of greater importance...


"Stop trying to rationalize."
Segregation is bad. Forcible school busing is bad. If the only choice is between those two, which does one choose? Of course, it should never come down to choosing the lesser of two evils...but sometimes in life, it actually does. We embrace Stalin because Hitler is worse, and the Japanese sank our fleet. We embrace Communist China because the USSER is worse. We may not like it, but misunderstanding why we've done, or when, is self-defeating.

The big errors with school busing were
(1) Hoping that the hardship would be temporary...'surely' schools would open up spaces in their classrooms for neighboring kids, rather than forcing them to drive 2+ hours away...after all, they promised to do that repeatedly...
(2) Overlooking the fact that defiance to a law can be extremely lucrative, both politically and economically. Once defiance becomes lucrative, it generates its own set of processes for growing and developing further.
(3) Overlooking that fact that the liberal/progressive states had developed segregation tricks significantly more sophisticated than Jim Crow, and had implemented them widely. (Palo Alto? San Francisco? Oh yes...) Liberals didn't grasp how many liberal policies they'd enacted were racially charged - or downplayed that aspect (just as FDR tried to sidestep such issues to maintain a Democratic majority).

Each of which amounts to underestimating the adversary. Massively. It seldom dawns on liberals that conservatives are often just as smart as they are, but have found that playing dumb is a powerful trick. That's not how the science game is played (no scientist ever benefits from being habitually underestimated by peers) - but it is how politics, diplomacy, war, and many other fact-using professions have always worked.

duncan cairncross said...

Re Political Parties in the early days
Your founding fathers knew ALL about political parties - they had hundreds of years of experience of political parties in Parliament to look at

I have been thinking about the political process and the legislation that is produced

Here (NZ) one of the key features of legislation is the "Purpose Statement" - our legislation is all a LOT shorter than yours

The idea is that Parliament (or your congress) LEADS - it should produce the TOP document - the specifications

Underneath that civil service - the "Bureaucrats" produce the detailed drawings

To me it seems that is confused in the USA - Congress is trying to produce the detail documents with thousand page documents AND as a result it is NOT doing it's OWN job of producing clear leadership documents that the civil service can turn into the the actual blueprints

donzelion said...

LarryHart: re Gamble v US - "This is what the Republicans are so hot to have Kavanaugh rule on."

One of many issues, but mostly, they'd want to avoid a 4-4 split. It's not the sort of 'gun rights' claim that they strongly get behind, more of a libertarian claim. While the analysis linking this to Trump isn't disingenuous, it overstates the link: the double jeopardy element doesn't really link to the Mueller investigation - it's more like 'analysis clickbait' than actually dealing with the implications of dual sovereignty (another product of the illustrious Warren Court, IIRC).

donzelion said...

Duncan: Congress will produce a 1000+ page document, consisting of hundreds of 1-20 page documents, and then the executive branch will produce the 20,000+ page regulations to interpret and apply the law. The process of turning the tiny 1-20 page little laws into one big piece of legislation regularly creates internal conflicts, making it hard to apply an engineering metaphor: how does one build to a spec that contains internal contradictions (when seeking clarification is no option, and one must act)...

I don't know that we're very good at resolving that, but suspect we're as good as any other country, but have a lot more players injecting the 1-20 page little laws into the big laws to try to create as many hurdles for interpretation as possible (knowing that the law itself won't actually be challenged any time soon most of the time).

duncan cairncross said...

Re the Tesla court case

Musk twitted "I am considering"

Now I'm not American but in the "English Language" "considering" means I'm thinking about it and everything AFTER that word is just "possible"

In my language that is NOT a promise of action "I'm considering climbing Mount Everest" until I remember that I hate the cold and have difficulty climbing the garden fence

I think that this is another one of the American politically appointed legal people doing as their "sponsor" asks

The main effect will be that if Musk cannot be on the board of a public concern IN THE USA then his next project will be somewhere else

Zepp Jamieson said...

Duncan: Political parties in England were still pretty new-fangled in 1789, having been around only since the Exclusion Crisis (a failed effort to exclude Roman Catholics from the throne) in 1679-81. The American founders while aware of the drawbacks of a party system, created a set up that made it inevitable. Their main takeaway from the battle over Exclusion was to include language in the constitution barring Test Acts, which barred people from office or positions of public responsibility based on religious belief.

duncan cairncross said...

You have 535 lawmakers - 435 in Congress and 100 in the second house (senate) - the UK has over 600 in the Commons

NZ is a lot less

But that should NOT be a barrier to producing short acts - the UK seems to produce a lot of about 4 pages in length

donzelion said...

Zepp: "The American founders while aware of the drawbacks of a party system, created a set up that made it inevitable." Well, they THOUGHT they were preventing it...and really, it wouldn't be until Andrew Jackson that the 'party' system truly gained depth in America, since the Federalist/Anti-Federalist (Hamilton/Jackson) factions were a rather fluid arrangement.

Duncan: Don't get me wrong; a lot of brief laws are passed each year, and a few of them are more complex than "rename this post office." So far as I'm aware, most commonwealth countries are unitary, rather than federal, so you don't have quite the same instance of local state laws setting major terms, which the federal laws interact with. Sometimes, the federal laws are drafted to avoid contradicting state laws, but quite often, they're written intentionally to contradict and alter state laws (e.g., federal law renders marijuana illegal everywhere in America, but several states have opted to decriminalize it- creating a tricky set of issues that bedevil every would be pot seller). It's that sort of contradiction/complexity that results in longer acts (not further specifying what must be done, but injecting new complexity to prevent anything from being done most of the time).

DP said...

Putin's Russia is a Potemkin Village - it is weak and slowly dying:

Russia has canceled its 5th generation fighter the Su57 (aka T50). They will build in some stealth into older planes. Russia is not able to buy large numbers of its new Armata tanks at $4 million each. They will upgrade older T72 tanks. Russia used to be the world leader in space launches. China has most of their older space rocket designs. Russia has recognized that they cannot compete with SpaceX and China in space launches.

Russia cut back its military buildup and has flat military procurement budgets for the next ten years.

Russia has had slow GDP growth or negative GDP growth since 2008.

If the US economy grows at 4% per year then the US adds more than entire Russian economy ($1.7 trillion) in less than 2 years.

Russia is weak and getting weaker relative to the US, India, Europe and the USA.

Russia’s population is shrinking again

In 2017, 1.69 million children were born in Russia which was down by 203,000 compared to 2016 and equal to the number of births in Russia in 2007. It is the third consecutive year that Rosstat has registered a decline in Russia’s birthrate.

In 2016, Russia had 1,893,237 births and 1,887,907 deaths, for a natural population increase of just 5,330 people, not counting immigration. There were about 1,824,340 (12.4/1,000) deaths in 2017. Russia’s population reduced about 131,000 in 2017 from more deaths than births. Russia did have some immigration, Russia population did grow in 2016 by 257,700 people, while in 2017, population growth amounted to only 77,400.

Russia has 782,000 births in the first half of 2018. This is tracking to about 1.55 million births for 2018. Assuming deaths stay level to 2017, then this would be a reduction of about 260,000 people in 2018.

DP said...

Russia's only economic asset its oil, it's only military strength is cyber-warfare (and even here despite their successful meddling in the US election American cyber resources are vaster and far more sophisticated.

And yet, it is important not to exaggerate his power. In fact, his economy remains a basket case, largely on account of his own incompetence. And we have a few hundred years of geopolitical history to teach us that political and military power is ultimately based on economic power — and since Putin doesn’t have much of the latter, he will have less and less of the former with every year that passes.

We knew Russia's weakness two decades ago. Russia is basically Zaire with permafrost, a third world country with nukes, a corrupt mafia state:

Enter the mafiya. It has been estimated that 80 percent of Russian businesses pay dan' ("tribute,"or protection money) to a krysha ("roof," or racket), but the real number is probably higher; one may assume that any business operating openly has a krysha. (Entrepreneurs providing clandestine services are less likely to run into trouble.) Mafiozy approach businesses directly, visiting in groups of three or four; one of them speaks in a friendly manner, warning directors that they must pay dan'—15 to 20 percent of their company's gross earnings—or suffer violence at the hands of unnamed gangs. If the mafiozy operate under the guise of a security agency, they may insist that the director sign a contract—a ruse that has deceived some businesses into relinquishing control of their bank accounts. Once a business has acquired a krysha, it must resist the advances of rival gangs or risk falling prey to razborki—a settling of scores over territory. If businesses refuse to pay, which is rare now, the thugs mount an escalating campaign of pressure, starting with verbal threats, moving on to beating and kidnapping, and ending with well-placed bullets or the torture of loved ones or a bomb placed by the door of the businessman's apartment.

Read the rest.

Larry Hart said...

Reality has a liberal bias:

Fox News (sic) is angry that so much of the coverage has portrayed Ford as calm, and Kavanaugh as angry. "These photos are the perfect liberal narrative. You see the calm, law-abiding, liberal accuser and the angry conservative defendant," they write, directing particular ire toward the front page of the New York Times.

Larry Hart said...

Presented without further comment except the bolding of the concluding sentence...

What goes around comes around," said [Brett Kavanaugh] the author of
The Starr Report, implicitly threatening Democrats with future retribution for daring to hold hearings about multiple accusations of sexual assault against him. The most chilling remark he made all day was when he told Democrats, "You sowed the wind for decades to come. I fear that the whole country will reap the whirlwind." This man belongs nowhere near the nation's highest court.

Howard Brazee said...

Let's say the Democrats get the house and maybe the Senate - then the recession comes while Republicans have the presidency.

Who do the voters blame?

Tuna Hunter said...

Reminds me of some retail doublespeak which annoys incessantly!~ Paper towel packages loudly proclaim 6=12!! Toilet paper... 12=18!!! Ridiculous!!!