Saturday, September 22, 2018

Impeachment is a dream. Get over it and fight effectively.


Before diving in, let me point to where my scratch essay, making six points about the "anonymous hero op-ed write," has been revised and published on MEDIUM, pointing out that even the most fervent Trump supporter must admit one blatant fact, that Trump has been a crappy judge of character... given how many times he howls "betrayed!" (This is the one point you can make to a Mad Uncle and he'll have no response, no fox-ism, nothing.)

Key point: our response to the op-ed "hero" has to be -- "thanks... but look at who appointed you, and try some humility. You are blatantly not qualified to pick and choose which GOP positions to support."

From the somewhat ridiculous to the generally sublime... Rebecca Solnit, one of America’s best journalist-historians, is almost always on-target, offering well-supported news and surprises… even though, in this case, she and I reach different conclusions. She starts by pointing out how the daily storm of Trump tweets deliberately distracts from an avalanche of related depredations that get masked, such as this under-reported gem:

“...the legal counsel at the Department of Transportation, Andrew Kloster, formerly of the Heritage Foundation, tweeting on August 22nd that a Hollywood actress was a succubus melding together satanism and the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah in one loopy tweet, a perfect marriage of antisemitism and misogyny.” 

"Or that “climate change research proposals in the Department of the Interior were being reviewed by a character named Steve Howke, who’s sole qualification (seems to be) being an old high-school football buddy of Secretary Zinke’s from Whitefish, Montana.”

(The day after Ms. Solnit posted that, a policy analyst working for the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security resigned after emails showed that analyst Ian M. Smith had been in regular contact with known white nationalists, including Alt-Right leader Richard Spencer, and Jared Taylor.)

Seriously, dial in to this and other Solniticisms and see someone who “out-rachels” MSNBC’s Maddow. Solnit’s long list of rightwing ethical and criminal atrocities, many of them barely noted by news media, will convince any sane American that we’re in the hands of a mafia. An international organized crime syndicate.

But that’s kinda the point. The blatancy of it all is so thuggish, boorish and ultimately stupid, that I’m reminded of Hannah Arendt’s appraisal of the Nazis’ evil banality. They achieved power through bullying and cheating and complicity by cynical oligarchs, but also because all the smart folks and modern people were complacent. When that complacency wore off, the modern world ponderously gathered itself, converged and smashed the Nazi thuggery to dust.

Ms. Solnit would respond: “Great. Then stop being complacent and smash! Impeach now!” But I disagree, at least in part. Thanks to the Trumpian grotesquery, no modern-thinking American is complacent, anymore. But it’s wrongheaded to demand a spasmodic, Verdun-style frontal assault on Donald Trump, himself. That is mistaking a symptom for the disease – a common error that could cost us dearly, especially if – in lancing an excruciating boil -- we then lapse into relieved celebration, ignoring a far worse cancer below.

Look, it’s plain that Donald Trump represents an existential problem… every action that he takes either serves a cynically rapacious world oligarchy (including gambling tycoons and the Russian Mafia) or else feeds fuel to a dangerous eighth phase of the recurring American CivilWar. Only here’s the deal. Everyone can see this. The members of every fact-using profession… including the intelligence communities, law enforcement and the FBI, civil servants, scientists, and the U.S. military officer corps. Yes, that includes the crewcut men and women who are now – in their millions – condemned by the mad-right as a conspiratorial “deep state.”

They can see it all, and these skilled, decent people are doing what they can. No president in history has ever been so hemmed-in, isolated, cauterized and, indeed, rendered rather powerless.

Oh, Trump’s appointments – especially judicial – will be daunting cancers for decades. (You expect any different from Pence?) His deliberate destruction of every strength that won us the Cold War and gave the world its greatest era of (flawed) peace and progress, should make any patriotic mind shiver… as our ancestors quailed after setbacks like Bull Run, Fredericksburg, Pearl Harbor, Kasserine, Selma, or Kent State. But those ancestors gritted-teeth and bore down for the long haul, knowing there’d be no quick fixes.

As I point out elsewhere, impeachment is not just a long-shot fantasy. Even if successful, it would likely do far more harm than good, putting Two Scoops Trump into a reality show mode that he’d enjoy vastly more than his daily torment in the Oval Office. You don’t think he’d milk that martyrdom, helping turn this phase of civil war red-hot? (Indeed, my biggest dread is that the Putin-Mercer-Adelson-Murdoch oligarchy, tired of the harm he’s doing to their political apparatus, might order a “Howard Beale” hit, igniting the whole nation in flames. God bless the U.S. Secret Service.)

Impeachment and removal would rob much of our growing coalition. Many of those crewcut “deep state” public servants would let themselves be soothed into relief and renewed complacency by a crooning President Mike Pence, promising comity and renewed respect for professional castes. This might even please some leftists, who are now equivocal over all the retired officers and short-haired ‘blue dogs’ now crowding into the Democrats’ big tent. 

But screw anyone who favors ideology ahead of victory over confederate treason.

Above all, the boil we see in front of us is blocking something far worse that would replace it. The Trumpian White House leaks like mad, rendering it largely impotent! Only the very deepest mafia stuff goes un-revealed, so far. But a Pence administration would be tightly disciplined, filled with dedicated dominionists who are focused on shared goals, much of it revolving around their firm belief and relish in two sacred tomes: The Fourth Turning, by Strauss & Howe (beloved of Steve Bannon), and the Book of Revelation’s gory, hand-rubbing anticipation of an end to all human endeavor, all freedom and argument and striving, an end to all new children, and an end to the United States of America. And either way, we are so fucked.

I recommend “Mike Pence's plan to outlast Trump.” Seriously. Also the NYT’s 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.)

And again, see my reasons why impeachment should be kept in reserve. A last resort, either for emergency or else once the nation reaches a post Civil War consensus.

Looking back to the recommendations of Hannah Arendt, who studied deeply how to oppose Nazi-like mafias and thuggeries, I’d distill this wisdom.

(1) Wake up; this is serious, worth your time, your effort and risk.
(2) Wake others. Form coalitions that welcome refugees from the madness.
(3) Don’t be stupid.
(4) This could be a long haul.

I respect the heck out of Rebecca Solnit and I urge you all to read her, possibly in preference over me!  Still, when we get to specifics, “impeach now” is dumb. It’s impatient. It ignores the coalition-building and grinding envelopment that Churchill and FDR and Marshall used, to achieve victory over monsters.

And it’s a dream.  Wake up.


==  Suspicion toward every elite… except the most dangerous one  ==

The trick of the Scottish-American Enlightenment -- though not the Franco-German wing - was suspicion of all authority, or SoA. It was essential because we are human and whenever any group gets solitary power... even idealistic technocrats like many of the engineers who became managers and then politburo mavens in Beijing... you will fall for every temptation of authoritarian delusion. It's how we're made. Oh, some lords are better than others. But the meaning of the American Revolution was "we should do without lords."

Hence, our SoA propaganda - in every Hollywood film - created a reflex that's kept us free, though we often disagree over which "elite" is striving to seize too much power. 

Leftists assume it's aristocrats and faceless corporations.  Rightists assume it is snooty academics and faceless government bureaucrats. (You see both tyrannical modes portrayed in diverse films.) Libertarians should aim their SoA at both and all directions! But most of them have, alas, been suborned into being tunnel-visioned, rightist tools.

Now, it's perfectly reasonable to sniff suspiciously when any elite says "leave it to us!" And Technocracy - rule by those with smarts and knowledge and credentials - is certainly one hypothetical dictatorship by a snooty elite.  

Except for China though (and Beijing may be exactly that, under a communist/mercantilist veneer), when has technocracy ever been a substantial authoritarian-oppressive mode? There are no plausible scenarios by which it could happen in the West. 

Is it okay to sniff suspiciously at "fact-people?" Sure. As it was okay to sniff at excesses by labor unions. But when unions have been plummeting for forty years, the intensity of screeching against them becomes highly suspicious.  Especially when the billionaires financing this hysteria have been getting more powerful and benefiting outrageously for those same 40 years. 

What kind of Suspicion of Authority instinct is it, that cannot notice: "Hey, I am marching with fervor for the only elite in society whose power, wealth and influence have been skyrocketing to atmospheric levels for decades, and is now approaching levels not seen since 1789 in France."

Face it.  Suspicion of Authority has been healthy for us.  It kept us free. But traitors have discovered how to metastacize it into a cancer that attacks every elite except the very one that took power and crushed hopes in every other human civilization. The same one that cheated, stymied all progress, cheated, murdered, cheated, stole and cheated across 6000 years. The very same one the American Founders rebelled against, who Adam Smith denounced as market destroyers, and who got a million poor southern whites to fight and die for slavery.

So, is Fox saying we should apply fierce, hate-drenched SoA toward all other 'elites' - science, teaching, journalism, civil servants, every fact using profession... including now the "deep state" FBI and officer corps... all elites except one? The only one that is actually, actually rising to obligate and near total power? 

What a coincidence! Those other 'elites' are the only forces in society who could possibly stymie that total coup, and they just happen - all of them -- to be eeeeevil!  All of the folks who know stuff, in their diverse tens of millions, yes, all of them.

Welcome to the essence of the confederacy, folks. Plantation lords and the populist-numbskulls who march and die to protect the lords' privileges. It is the same, recurring national fever, our perennial curse. And we must gird ourselves to do as we've done before. 

Stop it. Politically. With malice toward none. With charity for all and binding the national wounds. Knowing that if the sickness wins this round, that is not how we'll be treated.

87 comments:

Alfred Differ said...

I get that impeachment now is a pipe dream. That's not what I want. I want it about one year from now after the Dems take back the house and broil all involved with committee investigations. I want pain first, impeachment second. I want Pence remembered as part of the Trump administration who has to deal with this because he is the one who could have pulled the plug on it.

It makes sense that the GOP would not check Trump. He's weak which leaves Congress to do as it wishes. It's not that they should be checking his power. He should be checking theirs and he's too weak to do it. To ignorant too. When it doesn't matter if a judicial nominee is accused of attempted rape, the Senate is essentially unchecked.

donzelion said...

Impeach Trump, replace him with Pence...and will this be fixed?

http://www.governing.com/topics/transportation-infrastructure/gov-trump-transportation-funding-delays.html

"Transit advocates are becoming increasingly alarmed that the Trump administration may be intentionally slowing down the process for local agencies to get the money they need to build new projects, like light rail, streetcars and bus rapid transit....The U.S. Department of Transportation is sitting on nearly $1.8 billion for projects that are ready or nearly ready for final federal approval..."

A lousy president has some powerful incentives to defer major infrastructure: if more people can move about, then political controls built around districting expectations start to break down. More importantly, the power to delay is the power to profit (for certain billionaires).

"In explaining the president’s infrastructure package in February, the White House said an “unhealthy dynamic” had developed in which local governments delayed projects to try to get more federal support for them. Then, the administration opted not to request any money from Congress to fund the transit-building programs in next year’s budget."

The statement has a modicum of truth; the budget request speaks more honestly.

But why? Billionaire-developers often have a parasitic dependency on infrastructure plans, esp. the ability to sabotage/delay/defer them. Indeed, domination over infrastructure is a key marker of feudalism v. capitalism: feudal lords have always been perennial skeptics about any new infrastructure plans (compare that stance with confederates in America later on).

donzelion said...

Alfred: "It makes sense that the GOP would not check Trump. He's weak which leaves Congress to do as it wishes."

Not exactly. Congress can allocate funding, but if a weak president won't spend that money, Congress can't actually do as it wishes, or much of anything else, except talk about what they wish someone might do, but for a weak president.

Dwight Williams said...

Many of us need that dream - aimed squarely at the ambitions of DT-45 and the Theocrat in Waiting alike, meant to burn those ambitions to the ground and leave scorched dust behind - in order to stay sane.

Do not demand that we "wake up" from it, I beg you.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

It makes sense that the GOP would not check Trump. He's weak which leaves Congress to do as it wishes. It's not that they should be checking his power. He should be checking theirs and he's too weak to do it.


Is that what it looks like to you? I've seen a congress to cowed to deny Trump anything. Because they've alienated all of the voters except Trump's Brownshirts. The voters he commands are all they've got left.


When it doesn't matter if a judicial nominee is accused of attempted rape, the Senate is essentially unchecked.


That's not the Senate unchecked, it's Trump. The Republicans in general would be fine with any nominee off of the Heritage Foundation's list. But who specifically wants the one who thinks presidents can't be criminally charged, or even investigated?

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | You think he won't spend it? You think he's strong enough to stand up to them? He needs his base, but he needs the Congressional GOP too. He's gone in a heartbeat if they turn on him.

@Larry | I've been thinking about the Senate power-play we've been watching the last few days involving Kavanaugh. They are getting what they want and piloting the boat. This isn't Trump's boat to direct. It's theirs.

Conservative GOP Senate leaders are getting what they WANT.
This is about power and it ain't Trump's power. He's do damn ignorant to know it too.

Winter7 said...

Turning to another issue: ¿Should not Democrats help the woman who accuses Kavanaugh? That woman needs the support of detectives who investigate the necessary data in the school files, in interviews with classmates; (and the employees of the location where the incident occurred) to gather as quickly as possible the necessary data to bring down Kavanaugh.

Winter7 said...

All right. If you do not want to depose ... "Two Scoops"; As you decide, it's fine…. So ... ¿How about some asymmetric judo? If they fear that "Two Scoops" will be replaced by Mike Pence ...
Dr. Brin has told us that the best weapon we have is the truth. Why have not they used the truth to neutralize Mike Pence? There is something that the democrats should show to the American people, with precision and with titanic advertising amplification:
The family of Mike Pence owns the Kiel Bros. Oil Co., which is bankrupt and has been sued for polluting water tables with solvents that cause cancer.
To pay the demands, Mike Pence diverted 5 million dollars. (Yes, it's true, I attach the link).
I understand that in the United States citizens have been sent to prison for stealing much less than that. Is a public official a being with divine powers to such an extent that he is untouchable? (In Mexico that story is something of every day and nobody cares, but I thought that in the United States the law was respected.
¿Maybe it is because almost nobody found out about it, and if so, would it be convenient for the Democrats Will they amplify the issue in the media at seismic levels at the right time?

Link:

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pence-familys-failed-gas-stations-cost-taxpayers-20-million/

Winter7 said...

For some time now I have recommended to the democrats to leave innocence behind and start playing dirty. Nothing better than the story to learn the dirty game of politics:

Link:

https://listverse.com/2014/01/18/10-worst-dirty-tricks-in-american-politics/

https://www.kickassfacts.com/history-of-political-dirty-tricks/

Winter7 said...


¿Shock of planets or the death star in action? (old news)
Link:
https://phys.org/news/2009-08-planet-smash-up-vaporized-hot-lava.html

Winter7 said...

¡By the gods of Cobol! The mother of all the icebergs has appeared. And when that iceberg slides towards the sea; It will melt faster than “Two Scoops” reputation.

Link:

https://phys.org/news/2018-09-propping-glaciers-cataclysmic-sea.html

Acacia H. said...

So. Tacitus, it's a new thread and a non-science-thread at that.

Your answer to the question on the K-meister? :)

Personally I'm wondering if Trump is going to try and resign claiming "Mission Successful!" the moment the Democrats claim the House and Senate, stating he got everything but the Wall and "drained the swamp as promised" and expect "President" Pence to pardon him.

Rob H.

Pachydermis2 said...

Robert

A new day and a new thread it is. I've a fine house full of company just now but will ponder this for later.

I'd like to suggest a framework for discussion, as the internet too often devolves into people talking past each other.

I propose three points on which anyone entering this discussion will agree. Feel free to propose changes in wording and/or additional ones. These can be points of reference for our discussions. Once these parameters are set, back tracking on them will be frowned upon.

1. The Supreme Court is extremely important in our current political environment.
2. Allegations of sexual assault have often been suppressed, and must always be taken seriously.
3. That being said, allegations - like protestations of innocence - are not always true.

Tacitus
(you may have noted a tendency to revert to my prior nom de guerre when the politics heats up!)

reason said...

All three are true statements and besides the point of the current argument, which is obviously not really understood. The problem is not that there are just these allegations. The problem is how they are being dealt with and how evidence of other concerns is being suppressed. It seems there are two standards when it comes to transparency.

reason said...

P.S. Nobody at this stage is talking about a criminal prosecution, the question is whether the candidate is a suitable candidate for the position in question. There are plenty of reasons in his past behavior (not least changing positions of principal according to political convenience) to think not.

reason said...

Regarding Tim Wolter's point 1:
1. The Supreme Court is extremely important in our current political environment.

I don't think it is so important because of the political environment, it is so important because the US system of government (I'm don't live in the US, and I'm not from the US) is so dysfunctional. In other countries the government mostly makes the law and if the law or the constitution comes into conflict either the law or the constitution gets changed. But in the US both those solutions are often impossible, precisely because of the "checks and balances" (i.e. deliberate sabotage that were built into the system by people who didn't trust democracy) that Americans of often so proud of. You should let people govern, but hold them accountable.

Pachydermis2 said...

reason

I picked those three statements not just because I think anyone worth conversing with would agree with them, but because they are germane to the situation at hand. If you consider them irrelevant I fear you've taken yourself out of this discussion.

Perhaps you'd like to comment on another situation where a man is being considered for a post very important for the interpretation of laws. A man with political connections in high places. Also a last minute allegation of abuse, but in this case backed up with medical records, multiple accusers, social media posts that have not been entirely scrubbed.

I'll pose a question for you....is this rather more defined situation different and if so, why?

https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2018/09/drip-keith-drip-ellison-drip-drip.php

The site is admittedly on the conservative side of the spectrum but it is also local to this area and has been admirably on top of developments.

Cheers

Tacitus

David Brin said...

All protests that accusers should "prove it" re Kavanaugh are absurdly based on the notion that he is unique and rare. He won't be harmed if he reverts to being a mere Federal appeals court judge. And we have a very very deep bench of other qualified candidates. This is a level where besmirchment should either lead to time for investigation or calling someone else up, from the bench.

Pachydermis2 said...

Aww, David.

Don't tell me that you too are weaseling out? I've already spoken of a potential future where no appointments are ever possible because there will always be an 11th hour accusation that will by the standards of this case always be grounds for disqualification. That way lies lunacy, the perpetual reign of Interim Directors and a Supreme Court that whittles down by attrition to literally being The Roberts Court.

Whatever is going on here exists somewhere on a spectrum in which one pole is a hidden monster and the other a political hit that taken to logical extremes will damage the very functioning of our nation. (I'll address the possibility of something in the middle if and when I find someone willing to take up the challenge on the playing field I've laid out.)

I sense doubt among you.

Tacitus

And I'll say again, because it remains important, I take all such allegations seriously and am on at least some level sympathetic to Ford, if less so towards those around her.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Also the NYT’s 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."


I understand your argument, but I still think Trump poses the greater danger to the country for (at least) two reasons. First, Trump commands an army of Brownshirts which completely cows the Republican Party from defying him in any meaningful way. Some of these might transfer their loyalty to Pence, but nothing like 40% of the voting public. Second, the big money donors who dominate Republican policy would not necessarily be on board with the Dominionists the way they are with the kleptocrats. I can't see Sheldon Adelson (for example) wanting to enable the BoR scenario.

Pence may want worse outcomes than Trump does, but he wouldn't have the resources at his command that Trump has to destroy democracy.


Not scared by that? Read Robert Heinlein's prophetic novel Revolt in 2100.


I also recommend the Foundation trilogy. A post-Trump America would be similar to the post-Mule Foundation. For a while, we might continue to be besieged by Pence as the Converted Captain Han Pritcher, but in the end, the Mule's empire couldn't last beyond his personal traits, and the Foundation will rise again. Not so while the Mule is still in place using his powers.


And again, see my reasons why impeachment should be kept in reserve. A last resort, either for emergency or else once the nation reaches a post Civil War consensus.


Here, I agree, although not for the same reasons as you. If impeachment and removal were politically possible, I'd want it now, but it's not politically possible, even after a blue wave, to have 67 Senators vote for Trump's removal. Absent that possibility, impeachment would be akin to "shooting at the king and missing." Impeachment is not something Democrats can do alone, and I'd go further to say that's a good thing. If Trump were removed by a pure partisan vote, Republicans would never accept it, and every president from here forward would be impeached by the opposite party. Impeachment would become the new normal as surely as "You need 60 votes in the Senate" has become for legislation.

Impeachment and removal is only going to be possible and feasible if Trump becomes toxic enough that Republicans decide they need to excise him from themselves. That's kind of what happened with Nixon, and it's the only way it will happen with Trump.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Leftists assume it's aristocrats and faceless corporations. Rightists assume it is snooty academics and faceless government bureaucrats. (You see both tyrannical modes portrayed in diverse films.) Libertarians should aim their SoA at both and all directions! But most of them have, alas, been suborned into being tunnel-visioned, rightist tools.


On Bill Maher's show this weekend, guest Thom Hartmann put it thusly. "When liberals talk about 'elites', they mean rich people. When conservatives talk about 'elites', they mean smart people."

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

Is it okay to sniff suspiciously at "fact-people?" Sure. As it was okay to sniff at excesses by labor unions.


In the supposed Libertarian Bible, Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand portrays the thuggish president offering special deals and privileges to Hank Rearden's "gang" of industrialists, but the author's POV was clearly that the thugs totally misread the room--that the industrialists' motives were pure and they would not be influenced by such bribery or threats.

Present-day Libertarians and libertarian-leaning Republicans (Paul Ryan) claim to worship Ayn Rand, but she doesn't always mean what they think she does.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

With malice toward none. With charity for all and binding the national wounds. Knowing that if the sickness wins this round, that is not how we'll be treated.


On that same Bill Maher segment, Michael Moore said something like this too. I can't quote directly, but essentially (paraphrasing) to conservatives, "Not only do we not want to kill you, but when we save Medicare, or stablilize health care premiums, or stop putting lead in the drinking water, you'll get that benefit too. We won't say, 'You voted for Trump? You don't get any.'"

David Brin said...

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/09/22/rowdy-school-years-resonated-with-judge/

donzelion said...

Alfred: "You think he won't spend it [funds allocated for infrastructure]?"

Oh, I'm sure he'll spend it. It's the old line in infrastructure development: block the project until your cronies take their positions, THEN green light work once your cronies are guaranteed handsome profits with minimal risk. To hell with the public interest...

"You think he's strong enough to stand up to them?"
Republicans in Congress? Plenty of vegetables could stand up to them. When they can't overtly do what they've pledged to do, pretended to do repeatedly dozens of times, but must rely on secretive, complex behind-the-scenes gambits to obscure what they're actually doing, they have no power.

"He needs his base, but he needs the Congressional GOP too. He's gone in a heartbeat if they turn on him."
Gone in a heartbeat? If he falls, he takes enough of them with him that they, being the cowardly lot they are, would rather endure his ineffectiveness rather than take a stand.

"This is about power and it ain't Trump's power. He's do damn ignorant to know it too."
Every CEO knows it's the company, not his own wit, wisdom, or leadership, that creates value - but he gets his outsized share of the reward not because of his skills or power, but because of his power to betray. Shareholders embrace wretched CEOs not because they mistake the quality of the leadership, but because in general, an angry CEO can steal their fortunes faster than they can protect them.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "Impeachment and removal is only going to be possible and feasible if Trump becomes toxic enough that Republicans decide they need to excise him from themselves. That's kind of what happened with Nixon, and it's the only way it will happen with Trump."

Had FoxNews existed in 1972, Nixon might never have resigned: the entirety of WP, NYT, and TV chipping away at Nixon through the Pentagon papers and beyond put no dents in his 1972 landslide win (and the investors knew that).

We should expect them to abandon Trump late 2022 (immediately after the 2020 midterms), at which point, he may be impeached if they so desire (more likely, he'll just be ignored). The banality of feudalism operates on the repetition of old ploys that worked well-enough.

Larry Hart said...

donzelion:

(immediately after the 2020 midterms)


I take it you meant "2022 midterms"? Because the elections that come up in 2020 are a different thing, in fact the opposite thing.

:)

Jon S. said...

Tim, Dr. Blasey Ford agrees with you. That's why she wants the entire matter to be investigated by official organizations - under the circumstances, the FBI seems to be the appropriate police body to do so.

Meanwhile, what's the rush to get Kavanaugh appointed right this second? The Republic managed just fine for almost a year with an open Supreme Court seat under Obama. And in fact the case for delay is much more clear now - we want to ensure the man receiving a lifetime appointment to the nation's highest court is not in fact a violent felon who escaped punishment only because of a misguided "boys will be boys" policy. I think a delay of a couple of months while a proper inquiry is conducted is the correct course of action.

And a Congressional hearing is not a proper inquiry.

donzelion said...

Tim/Tacitus: "there will always be an 11th hour accusation that will by the standards of this case always be grounds for disqualification."

For a certain type of American, a parade of 'Interim Directors' is a virtue, not a defect.

Ultimately, the weaker the bench becomes, the stronger the hand of the 'asset rich' vis-a-vis those who are either trying to create new assets, or at risk of losing what they have. Those who profit from pollution do not want an effective director at the EPA; those who MIGHT profit from shifting to less polluting measures, however, require regulations and efforts that incentivize change. The Courts worked well for the asset-rich from 1866 - 1932; there is a large faction of America seeking to recreate that era, who recognize precisely what sort of profits are possible provided the federal government is tamed, and the state governments, captured.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "I take it you meant "2022 midterms"?

Indeed. ;-)

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

And in fact the case for delay is much more clear now - we want to ensure the man receiving a lifetime appointment to the nation's highest court is not in fact a violent felon who escaped punishment only because of a misguided "boys will be boys" policy. I think a delay of a couple of months while a proper inquiry is conducted is the correct course of action.


The sex thing isn't even the most pressing reason to slow down on Kavanaugh--just the one most likely to influence congress. His gambling debts (and who he's beholden to for having them paid off) present a more troubling question. If the sexual predation accusations slow down the process enough to allow all pertinent questions to be investigated, that's a good thing, but it's not the only reason the process should be slowed down.

Don Gisselbeck said...

I have a little fantasy, the drunken prep boy ends up on the Supreme Court. Then in late October a couple of dozen women come forward with fully credible assault claims against him and many of the Republican leaders.

Alfred Differ said...

@donzelion | I'm not fully convinced, but I'll tone down the arm-waiving and alarm calls. 8)

I'm looking at this from a multi-year perspective right now. I'm thinking about how Harry Reid had to deal with the filibuster of judicial nominations. I'm thinking this is a long-range plan to use Senate tools as needed to ensure conservatives get their judges and no one else gets into the Judiciary.

This feels like 'packing the Court' in the broader sense, so I see it as a power play in the Senate.

Alfred Differ said...

@Tacitus | I can agree with your three points.

I think you are being silly about 11th hour accusations, though. Sexual assault victims really don't like to talk about it. When they do, we have professionals who can look into things.

The only reason this particular situation appears to be 11th hour is the GOP leadership is rushing things. They want a 5th vote on the bench for the October session.

The traditional, deliberative approach used by previous generations of Senators appears to be dead. GOP leadership has been playing hardball for a while now using their tools to ensure their folks get in and the others don't. It smells like power, hmm? If so, the Democrats are not obliged to hold to the old standard. In this case, that would mean the accuser could have a legitimate, non-political point to investigate AND the Democrats could cash it in for political gain.

Larry Hart said...

www.electoral-vote.com tells us what we already know:

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Sep24.html#item-1

And there, of course, is the rub. At this point, there is a great deal of evidence of problematic behavior on Brett Kavanaugh's part, including (now) multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, a curious financial history that involves hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt disappearing, possible perjury in front of Congress, and as many as half a dozen other red flags. If the man has nothing to hide, and all of this is just much ado about nothing, then nobody should object to uncovering all the facts and making sure Kavanaugh's name is cleared. If the FBI makes it a priority, it should be doable well before the midterms. But, of course, the GOP muckety-mucks know that at least some of it is likely true, and that the more time that goes by, the more troublesome information that will come to light, and the higher the price will be of ramming him through anyhow. So, the general response to the Ramirez story among Republican leadership was to put their collective feet on the gas pedal. They would very much like to ignore the new allegations, give Ford her day in court (see below), try to make it as much as possible a kabuki play meant to communicate "Hey, we men on the Judiciary Committee are very fair and really care about these issues," and then have the nomination voted on before the calendar turns to October.

Pachydermis2 said...

Alfred

I agree that the GOP is trying to speed the process up for the same reason that the Dems are trying to slow it down. Political advantage.

I had intended to discuss the Ford allegations in some detail but things are swirling fast now, I think to some extent it is yesterday's news.

I am usually pretty even tempered but must confess to getting a bit angry over this. From vague but plausible events as a 17 year old the attacks - and I think the latest merit that word - suggest he drugged women for gang rape.

This has the potential to become a battle from which neither side can retreat. If the allegations are proven to be bogus the ire of the electorate might be loudly expressed in November. Is Michael Avanti to be the new face of the Democratic Party? But if Kavanaugh is defeated then this will become SOP for all nominees. For both parties. Ad infinitum. Alcohol and drug use, sexual histories, all the way back to puberty. "Did you ever look at pornography? Did you ever see images of__________?" This would hold sway for both conventional genders and whatever novel ones might turn up down the road.

Kavanaugh will not withdraw, to do so would be seen as an admission of monstrous behaviour. No proud individual would surrender to this.

Well, its a nice day outside, I'm going to work in the garden.

Tacitus

Jon S. said...

You know, Tim, I'm really not afraid of a slippery slope (heh) here. Feel free to have someone pry into my sexual history all the way back to conception, if that's what floats your boat - I'm clean. Never forced anyone to do anything, never undertook any activity if consent wasn't clear, never got drunk and waved my personal space in anyone's face. And somehow I can't see myself as some kind of isolated icon of purity - I have a sneaking suspicion that this is true of the vast majority of men.

So, when charges of rape, attempted rape, and drugging women come up, a proper investigation should be welcomed by all parties. And again, this isn't "last-minute" or "11th hour" - there's actually no deadline on the consideration of a Supreme Court justice, except that artificially imposed by someone desperate to cover up something. (What are they covering up? I dunno, we'd need an investigation to find that out, and for some reason the GOP doesn't want one.)

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

I am usually pretty even tempered but must confess to getting a bit angry over this. From vague but plausible events as a 17 year old the attacks - and I think the latest merit that word - suggest he drugged women for gang rape.


So you're not incensed about the fact that he might have been a sexual predator, but about the fact that Democrats are impolite enough to make an issue of that?

Are you ready to forgive Bill Clinton his consensual sex yet? I know, he wasn't impeached for sex, but for perjury. Kavanaugh checks that box as well. And Clinton was gone in 2001 anyway, wheras Kavanaugh will be influencing the nation after you and I are dead. But questions about his character, integrity, and lawbreaking don't matter because...?

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

Alcohol and drug use, sexual histories, all the way back to puberty. "Did you ever look at pornography? Did you ever see images of__________?" This would hold sway for both conventional genders and whatever novel ones might turn up down the road.


This demonstrates why true consensus-building is important in a democracy, and why We The People ignore it at our peril. Back when the earth was cooling and Senate decorum and the filibuster were intact, a nominee had to be acceptable to a much wider swath of Senators (and their constituents), so the focus was on nominating someone with the character and resume to indicate that he would conduct the court's business well. Among the pool of such applicants, the president would pick someone more amenable to his thinking than to the opposition, but there was only so much leeway there among confirmable candidates.

Republicans are shredding tradition in order to fill the courts with judges who will cheat in their favor. They don't care about qualifications or character except how those will play in the service of that cheating. And they know these choices aren't popular, so they need to ram them through before the voters can weigh in. They rule by the slimmest of majorities in key states, and represent less than a majority of voters, but they hope that their judges will help cement their hold on power despite the will of the people. What they don't seem to be planning for is the day people no longer take the supreme court seriously, just as the presidency no longer is taken as "the leader of the free world" any longer. John Roberts may go down in history as presiding over the decline of the influence of the USSC.

matthew said...

Tim gets angry over accusations of rape and attempted rape leveled on a rushed-SCOTUS nominee? Too fucking bad.

I have absolutely no remorse that Tim is being made to feel uncomfortable by the accusations leveled at the nominee.

Here's a way to prevent nominees being "ambushed" by accusations during their rush to confirm before the voters can have their say - don't nominate anyone with a record of awful behavior toward women. Also, have the FBI actually look into credible allegations BEFORE the confirmation fight.

McConnell suggested to Trump that another nominee be put forward before the confirmation hearings because Kavenaugh had a paper trail. The Majority Leader knew then that Kavenaugh would not stand up to scrutiny. Trump went forward with Kavenaugh because Kavenaugh is the only person on Trump's list of Federalist Society -approved judges that believes that a sitting president cannot commit a crime.

The haste is in order to protect a criminal POTUS from being subpoenaed.

Tim feels that now all nominees will have last -minute accusations leveled at them. Perhaps, or perhaps just the ones that are being rushed through in order to protect a criminal enterprise.

matthew said...

David's main post leaves out two important facts:
1) Pence was in charge of the transition team that had frequent contacts with Russia, breaking the Logan Act. Unless Pence was *very* careful to not get his fingerprints on the meetings that his team set up with Russia he is in legal jeopardy as well as the rest of the Trump Traitors.
2) If the midterms go against the Republicans in a Blue Wave, there may not be 33 Senators willing to go down with team Trump / Pence in an impeachment vote. Trump maintains the GOP party discipline via his support with the red base. If the red base fails to deliver victories for the GOP then the Trump coalition is over.

Once again, I am forecasting that Trump cannot allow a free and fair vote in the midterms. Expect every type of cheating known to the GOP and Russia to take place. As we get closer to the election and polling continues to show large Dem pickups, expect the actions and rhetoric on the Russian Right to escalate.

reason said...

Tim I think you have lost a lot of credibility on this. You should pick your fights better. Are you suggesting their is any credible reason to believe that kavenaugh didn't keep questionable company as a teenager and young adult, and didn't engage in at least drunken and respected behavioral. There is simply too much evidence pointing in to maintain such a position. Exactly what the details are is not easily discerned after so long, but it sure doesn't help that he is a hypocrite and that he hadn't apologised.

Pachydermis2 said...

Matthew, I don't believe I'm going to answer you today.

Reason, I was and am prepared to discuss the initial accusations. The more recent stuff has so little substantiation and comes from such a disreputable source that it is debatable how much credence it warrants.

I suspect Kavanaugh drank alcohol in high school and that he was involved in the sort of stupid behaviour that many if not most young people engage in. Being from an affluent community probably exaggerated this. I also think it entirely plausible that something happened to Dr. Ford that approximates what she said happened. I'm told these events are not rare although not the sort of thing I'd get involved in back then.

Those two dots might or might not connect. The lack of a specific time and place makes it very hard for anyone to defend against "it could have happened". There is always the chance of mistaken identity or of a therapist suggesting details. At the time these matters were first discussed in therapy Kavanaugh was already on the radar screen for advancement and Mr. Judge's book was I believe already out there.

With nobody else corroborating the story, and with a number of people saying it never happened, that should have been pretty much all there was. I wonder in fact if Dr. Ford ever intended to testify, that business about wanting to speak last goes counter to basic justice.....the defense always has a fair chance to respond to accusations.

Perhaps we'll learn more on Thursday.

The Achilles heel of the accusations is the apparent life of probity that the nominee has lived subsequently. So corroborating accusations were necessary, and frankly have been expected. Again, vague memories at best and with others who were there saying "no way".

I will say that Ronan Farrow's involvement lends just a bit of credence...he has not been afraid to take on the powerful and has not to date had a partisan axe to grind.

I can't predict the future. But I will stick to my prediction that this level of j'acccuse will become standard. For all the reasonable criticism you level at the Republicans I will say, Progressives: you own this.

Kavanaugh apologize? He might be innocent and instead of contrition would be well justified in suing various parties (but I think not Dr. Ford) for slander and libel.

Tacitus

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

For all the reasonable criticism you level at the Republicans I will say, Progressives: you own this.


Even if Kavanaugh really did what his accusers say he did?


Kavanaugh apologize? He might be innocent and instead of contrition would be well justified in suing various parties (but I think not Dr. Ford) for slander and libel.


If he doesn't sue anyone for slander or libel, does that tell us something?

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donzelion said...

Alfred: If I convinced you that the country will survive a Roberts Court (of one justice only), that shouldn't affect the warning bells: ring them loudly if you think that will motivate anyone to act. Reverting to an 1871 reality (institutionally) would be far worse than most people realize. I do not think of the Gilded Age as an example to emulate, so much as a sequence of horror stories for all but a privileged few.

"this is a long-range plan to use Senate tools as needed to ensure conservatives get their judges and no one else gets into the Judiciary."
Probably correct. But the effect of 'conservative court packing' has been seen before: the court was never so monolithic as during the Republican Reconstruction post-Civil War, nor were its effects ever quite so clear for the country. Determined not to repeat the errors of Dred Scott style activism, they moved to quietism that left intact the powerful, enabling them to master tricks to shift costs onto the less powerful while reaping outsized rewards. After Brandeis, a large portion of that process was laid bare, but it would take another generation before effective controls were erected to rein this in.

One can say that the entire genius of the 1932+ period amounted to reducing the power of cost-shifting arrangements to induce those who profited to disgorge certain benefits, while raising a possibility that even the most privileged might be called to account (or taxed, if all else failed). Yet the investments in public infrastructure have already paid their dividends; many are crumbling, and just preserving what we have will grow more expensive, requiring leadership we just don't see in Congress. When the floodworks are neglected, floods may not instantly follow - but the outcome shouldn't surprise anyone.

A.F. Rey said...

But I will stick to my prediction that this level of j'acccuse will become standard.

Hey, Tim. How much you want to be that this precise same criticism was heard during the Anita Hill hearings? ;)

donzelion said...

Matthew: I think I'll answer on Tim's behalf, as he has declined to do so, though my answer probably won't be in Tim's preferred terms.

"Tim gets angry over accusations of rape and attempted rape leveled on a rushed-SCOTUS nominee? Too fucking bad."

I actually do feel remorse about this. Tim is a mature, seasoned thinker, and watching this unfurl is horrific. The events in question, if they in fact occurred, are also horrific. I am angry about the accusations, because whether true or not, the experience of being accused is terrible, and if true, then the episode in question was terrible. How else should we feel other than terrible about this?

Is it really proper to judge an adult's suitability for office based on their adolescent indiscretions and abuses? For Clarence Thomas, the allegations related to a job he held as a responsible adult; 17 year olds should not be treated as such (and that includes Kavanaugh attempting to bar a woman who sought an abortion, and it includes trying children as adults for purposes of capital punishment). Of all the insane elements in play here, the fact that Kavanaugh refuses to raise the 'errors of youth' defense is most fascinating - because if raised by him here, in this stance, it will echo every time he upholds the death penalty for other 17-year-olds.

"Don't nominate anyone with a record of awful behavior toward women."
The problem is that a record of awful behavior toward women is more easily manufactured in an era of fake news than nearly any other. One might restrict nominations to purely, demonstrably asexual people, but even that simply won't prevail in a world where reality can be readily warped by those with the money to do so.

"Also, have the FBI actually look into credible allegations BEFORE the confirmation fight."
Assessing credibility is seldom as straightforward as one would like. The FBI is pretty good at what they do; they err constantly (look through the history of 'hair fiber analysis' or other 'science-based' forensics...which is significantly less rife with error than forensic accounting, let alone the even slicker fields).

"McConnell suggested to Trump that another nominee be put forward before the confirmation hearings because Kavenaugh had a paper trail."
This is not the same as 'would not stand up to scrutiny.' McConnell recognized Kavanaugh had Robert Bork's 'weakness': his opponents knew precisely what they would dislike about him and why.

"Tim feels that now all nominees will have last -minute accusations leveled at them."
The problem with Tim's feeling, and perhaps your own, is that in reality, ALL NOMINEES FOR EVERY OFFICE already confront last-minute accusations, some of which may in fact be quite true. In that sort of a world, the side with the larger, more gullible force that can be more easily convinced for less money through knowable channels of influence will, more often than not, prevail.

I feel terrible about the Kavanaugh accusations, both out of sympathy for the accused & the alleged victim, but more importantly, because ultimately this sort of power play will empower folks with little regard for the truth above all, and simple understanding of the power of expediency.

donzelion said...

Tim: "I wonder in fact if Dr. Ford ever intended to testify, that business about wanting to speak last goes counter to basic justice.....the defense always has a fair chance to respond to accusations."

Were Kavanaugh on trial for his life or liberty, you would be perfectly correct. However, in this context, the question is whether he merits the highest promotion available in his field: why apply concepts of justice for criminal defendants the same way we do for folks who are expected to be so far 'beyond reproach' as to merit extremely special privileges? The interests of justice require the devil have an advocate - whether that advocate speak first, or last is not a matter of justice, but only that they speak their full.

"But I will stick to my prediction that this level of j'acccuse will become standard."
It was always bog standard. It's just that it's only when a powerful national figure is targeted that people realize how it works (briefly, and then they forget in the next cycle). Then they finance the folks who do precisely the same thing somewhere else, to someone else, whenever expedient.

"Kavanaugh apologize? He might be innocent and instead of contrition would be well justified in suing various parties (but I think not Dr. Ford) for slander and libel."
We will surely here him say that he has no recollection of the events Dr. Ford describes, deny having conducted them, and an expectation that the discussion will move on to a straight up or down vote.

For a few weeks, the question will be, "does he get to make that decision about when/how we move on? Does McConnell? Who decides?" That's an interesting question. Courts exist in part to answer it, by asserting that the interests of the 'little folks' get treated, in some sense, with the same import as those of the 'big elites.' It's built that way for a reason: Congress responds to naked, immediate power, but courts are supposed to answer to a different sort of power.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Tim

"a curious financial history that involves hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt disappearing"

This is to me far more worrying - it would be worrying for any political appointment

But for a JUDGE! to have that history is not "worrying" - it is downright disastrous!

Larry Hart said...

Duncan Cairncross,

I've been saying for days now that the gambling debts and "Who paid them off?" is more concerning than the sex. But since the people he's beholden to are likely aligned with Republican interests, the Republicans won't disqualify him for that. They might be forced to do so because of sex scandals.

Acacia H. said...

And now a second woman has come forward and also says "let the FBI investigate my accusation and that of Ford's."

This one in college. But hey, boys will be boys. Nevermind the fact that a lot of boys keep it in their fucking pants and don't go around molesting or assaulting women, be they drunk or sober. And of course you have people saying "he was drunk, he didn't know what he was doing!" but if he were SOBER and SHE were drunk, it would be "she was drunk, she was asking for it" and "did you see her hemline?" and various other claims that she was "promiscuous" and the like... and if it turns out she was a virgin who'd never even kissed another person in her life then "she's a prude, she needs to loosen up."

Oh, and Tacitus is wrong about one thing. If every Senate hearing for the Supreme Court refuses to accept a judge, then the President will just issue Executive Orders putting in temporary Supreme Court Justices which means every four to eight years we'd have new Supreme Court justices circulating around Roberts and risking to overthrow everything the previous administration worked for. But we'd still have Justices.

Rob H.

David Brin said...

Tim I have been re-doing my garden beds, as well, replacing boards and adding manure…

…which is what we are getting in the defense of Kavanaugh. Excuse me? This is not a matter of he-said she said. It is about a lifetime appointment and “better safe than sorry” is entirely legitimate! What, his life is ruined by staying an appeals court justice? What, the GOP might have to go to their bench for a replacement who does not have half a million dollars of mysteriously replaced gambling debts?

What a stunning admission, to implicitly accept that “We have no deep bench of replacement candidates.” What a travesty! REPLACE HIM! SEND US SOMEONE WITHOUT SUCH STAINS!

Go … to… the… bullpen. But oh, it might not be someone so scrupulously “groomed” by the oligarchy. Oh no!

Dig it my friend, we have a perfect right to demand that the GOP send us someone above reproach. If they cannot… then what are they?

matthew: “If the red base fails to deliver victories for the GOP then the Trump coalition is over.”

Alas, in most red districts and states the pols are more afraid of the primary than the general election. It means they all have doubled down on Trumpiness which the dems SHOULD benefit from in the general. But even so, where will a gopper pol go? Switch parties? no chance.

David Smelser said...

It seems to me that the concerns about accusation slinging is only going to get worse. The events that these accusations are based upon occurred in the 1980s. It will only be a few short years and these accusations will be of events that will be documented in student's social media accounts. So instead of debates about the meaning comments in a student year book, we'll be poring over Facebook photos, Instagram pictures, and YouTube videos of every indiscretion.

This isn't an unforeseen concern. Our host here has been writing about these transparency issues for years. We as a society need to determine what we are going to do about this.

I personally have given up the hope of finding candidates without sin. Instead, I'm focusing on what happens after the wrong doing. Was there admission of wrong doing? Expressions of contrition/remorse? Was restitution made? Did the wrong doings end?

Alfred Differ said...

@Tacitus | It seems we are all getting a 'bit angry' over this. This is resulting in interesting conversations between me and one of my cousins and his friends. We can agree on the need to have upstanding citizens fill the judiciary, but this event has moved way past that now.

I get that some guys do really stupid stuff before they grow up. If they own up to their stupidity and move on to lead a decent life, I'm not inclined to jail them. I'm leery of having them on the Court, but I'll hear them out. If they don't own up, though, I'd rather they went about their lives doing something else. There are so many other ways to live a good life.

I also get that some guys don't do really stupid things before they grow up. Quite a few don't. Some of them even went to the same school as Kavanaugh I'll bet. Maybe one of them is on the high court right now. 8)

As for SOP for all nominees, you should listen to the standard list of questions from the senator from Hawaii. She asks them of all nominees. The SOP already exists, but it will probably get widened. This should not be an issue, though, because judicial nominees are supposed to have their background checked out. The FBI has their SOP as well. No surprise.

As for Avenatti, you are underestimating him. Dismiss him if you like, but you are making a mistake. That guy is a crusader and he's found a cause. He's defending women of all stripes and professions and they've noticed he likes to fight. Maybe one day he will wind up in an arena where the dogs are bigger than him, but that isn't today.

There will be three accusers by late Wednesday. At least two will be pointing to people as corroborating witnesses and all will be inviting FBI scrutiny. Surely GOP leadership can do better than this. Surely we should expect it of them.

Larry Hart said...

David Smelser:

I personally have given up the hope of finding candidates without sin. Instead, I'm focusing on what happens after the wrong doing. Was there admission of wrong doing? Expressions of contrition/remorse? Was restitution made? Did the wrong doings end?


Exactly. This is where Republicans are at their most hypocritical. Trump gets a "mulligan" because everyone sins and the important thing is that one repent, ask forgiveness, and aspire to be better. Trump does none of that. But since he's their a-hole, they're fine with his personal reprobation.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

What, his life is ruined by staying an appeals court justice?


Way back in the early Obama years, conservatives on the old "Cerebus" list vilified feminism for "ruining" the life of Larry Summers when he was fired from Harvard after hurting a student's feelings. I used to lament that my life should be so ruined as he was head of Obama's National Economic Council at the time. The response to that was that feminists tried to ruin his life, despite the fact that they failed to succeed. My re-rebuttal was that if they can try and fail to succeed, then what are you so afraid of?

Point being, conservatives have a pretty high sense of entitlement, and any denial of that entitlement is considered "ruining".


Alas, in most red districts and states the pols are more afraid of the primary than the general election. It means they all have doubled down on Trumpiness which the dems SHOULD benefit from in the general. But even so, where will a gopper pol go? Switch parties? no chance.


I'm beginning to wonder if the Democratic Party should simply change its name to something else. Maybe the America Party (or America! Party, with the exclamation point in the name). Who could vote against "Joe Senator-A!" ? Maybe the Patriot Party? Get all those New England fans to vote reflexively? The Jobs Party?

I mean, if voters are going to be frivolous and stupid, maybe it's time to take that fact into account as part of strategy.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Sep25.html#item-1 (emphasis mine)

if the Democrats win the House, they could simply hire Mueller and his whole team as lawyers for the House Government Oversight Committee. The likely chairman of that committee in the event of a Democratic takeover of the House, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), an outspoken Trump critic, would have subpoena power and would wield it vigorously


A bit of a tangent, but this right here is a big part of the problem with our current state of US politics. Whether or not a Senator has subpoena power depends upon the whims of his party.

We like to think it's better to vote for the individual rather than the party, or that if our own partisan is too tainted (Al Franken?) or not progressive enough (Hillary) we show our disdain by letting the other guys win. But haven't we long reached the point where the -D or -R after a candidates name is really the only important characteristic.

An individual Republican may be personally palatable, and even agree with me on particular issues, but none of that matters when his presence in the Senate is a vote for Mitch McConnell and all that McConnell wants to ram through or obstruct in the Senate. Republicans figured this out long ago, and Democrats don't want to believe it to be the case, but isn't that just wistful remembrances of things past?

Darrell E said...

David Smelser,

I think you bring up some excellent points, some of which I was thinking about myself while reading through the comments.

As you pointed out we are moving into an era where nearly everything people have done is recorded somewhere in the internet of all things. And that we will have to figure out how to deal with this. I think what must happen is that more people have to grow up. They have to be more in touch with reality. In particular the realities of human behavior. We are all multitudes. We all do good things. We all do bad things. But degrees matter. And patterns of behavior matter. Probably the first thing we should do when faced with some tawdry tweets put forward as evidence of alleged unfitness for something or other is ask ourselves, "have I ever done anything like that before?" More often than not the answer is probably going to be "yes."

I think that after some indeterminate period of adjustment to this new age of transparency the majority of people will get bored with gossiping about all the dirty little secrets of their fellow citizens that are actually fairly normal, not necessarily problematic, human behaviors. I already am.

Larry Hart said...

@David Smelser and @Darrell E,

I brought up a similar issue a few years back on a different forum. Basically, as the technology advances to where snooping on your neighbors is possible almost anywhere, who is at fault when someone does something in private, but is observed by their neighbors who are subsequently offended?

How incumbent is it upon me not to offend you when you're the one snooping on me?

Darrell E said...

Another thought.

I've got very little sympathy for the cries of warning that we have to be careful not to ruin poor men's lives with accusations of sexual misconduct. Let me clearly state up front that I have had, and will continue to have, all due sympathy for actual individual men that are victims of an inaccurate or false accusation. However, the degree of whining these days about how the poor men are so at risk of this in this new age where women are actually beginning to get a little bit of justice when they report abuse after getting the short end of the justice stick for pretty much all of human history does not impress me.

Are there going to be cases of wrongful accusations? No doubt about it. Just like there always has been in all other categories of crime. Will it reach crisis levels? I doubt it. Is it heading towards crisis levels right now? Fuck no, it isn't. Should we be mindful of it and take precautions? Yes, of course we should. We already do and we should continue to do so proactively, across all categories of crime.

But with respect to this Kavanaugh sexual misconduct claim issue? David has it exactly right and Tim / Tacitus is wrong.

Darrell E said...

Larry Hart,

Great way to point that out. I'll probably shamelessly steal that from you.

Pachydermis2 said...

donzelien

You actually "do" my voice pretty well. Thanks.

24 hours away from the keyboard has been refreshing. But perhaps a quick look back at something I typed spontaneously but now have had a chance to ponder.

A generation ago those looking for evidence of moral turpitude had to run around checking video stores where Clarence Thomas might have shopped. Pah!

I predict in the very near future politicians will be presented with records of their browsing history.

Imagine a politically rogue Google employee. Oops, sorry, that would be a Conservative one. OK, imagine an adept and unscrupulous one.

Straight up monetary blackmail. Or perhaps threats of exposure should they accept a nomination to higher office. Even if there is nothing there, stuff could be created. We've grown accustomed to assuming the defense "I was hacked" to mean most commonly deception or best case scenario, incompetence. But there are local and foreign political bad actors who have this capacity.

We can, should, and are having a debate on what level of young stupidity is simply that or more than that. But an allegation that a nominee spent time in the darkest corners of the internet? Bomb grade smear campaign.

I expect this in the next election cycle.

Even candidates whose most egregious browsing history might be swim suits at Lands End could already be getting messages to the effect of "Nice little browsing history you have here. Sure would be a shame if anything happened to it".

Yikes.

Tacitus

David Smelser said...

It is one thing to be offended because you are snooping on consensual sex acts performed in a place of presumed privacy. It is a different thing to complain about the exposure of non-consensual sex acts performed in a place presumed to have no witnesses.

Larry Hart said...

@David Smelser,

I'm not disagreeing with you. I was thinking along the lines of laws forbidding certain activities "in public" being exploited by snoopers claiming anything they can see is "public". I was not defending the privacy rights of those who are outed as harming others when they thought no one could see.

reason said...

Paul Krugman puts it much than I ever could, and remember Kavanaugh was part of star chamber inquisition of Bill Clinton:
"Activists in Maine opposed to the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court are trying to put pressure on Susan Collins, the state’s Republican senator. If Collins votes for Kavanaugh, they say, they will donate substantial sums to her opponent in the next election.

Whatever you think of Kavanaugh, this is surely a legitimate tactic: Donors and activists try to influence politicians’ votes all the time, often by warning of adverse electoral consequences if the politicians make what the activists consider the wrong choice. Last year, for example, major Republican donors openly threatened to withhold contributions unless the party gave them a big tax cut.

But now Collins, other Republicans and conservative activists are describing the pressure over Kavanaugh as “bribery,” “extortion” and “blackmail.” And some of those claiming that normal political activism is somehow illegitimate are the very same big donors who warned Republicans to pass tax cuts or else.

Calling this about-face hypocrisy is fair, but feels inadequate. We’re looking at something much bigger and more pervasive than mere hypocrisy: We’re talking about bad faith on an epic scale.

“Bad faith” is, by the way, a legal term, referring to “entering into an agreement without the intention or means to fulfill it, or violating basic standards of honesty.” In politics, it usually means pretending to be committed to principles you abandon the moment they become inconvenient. And bad faith in this sense pervades almost everything the modern G.O.P. says and does.

The very process that brought Kavanaugh to the brink of a lifetime Supreme Court appointment was saturated in bad faith.

Remember, Republicans wouldn’t even give President Barack Obama’s nominee a hearing, claiming that because Obama was late in his second term the process should wait, leaving a court seat vacant for more than a year, to let voters weigh in. Now they’re trying to ram Kavanaugh through in a matter of weeks, despite incomplete vetting of his legal record and major questions about his personal history. (Explosive sexual charges aside, will anyone ask about his huge personal debts?)

Why the rush? Because there’s a chance the G.O.P. will lose the Senate soon. That whole thing about letting the voters have their say was dishonest from the beginning."

matthew said...


The discussion we are really having is "Does attempted rape as a 17-year old preclude a spot on SCOTUS?" From Kavenaugh's own legal writing, he argues that a 17-year old can be tried and executed as an adult, so from my perspective, what is good for the goose is good for the gander.

As for the canard that now every Federal appointee will be accused of attempted rape, look no farther than the Gorsuch nomination. Hmm, not accused of attempted rape. Out of 68 Federal Judges already appointed by Trump, how many were accused of attempted rape? None.

I fail to see the slippery slope.

But, if you must insist, there is a way to avoid the attempted rape trap. Appoint women to the Federal Bench.

reason said...

I'm not American and I've never lived but the world has always heard what is going on in America. And I know the Republican Party was once the party of Lincoln and Ted Roosevelt. But it seems to me that now the Republican Party is the party of hypocrisy and misogyny. I don't mean those things are prevalent, I mean that is what they stand for.

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

A generation ago those looking for evidence of moral turpitude had to run around checking video stores where Clarence Thomas might have shopped.


Heh. I had forgotten all about "Long Dong Silver". I'm not sure whether I should thank you for reminding me.

Do you see, though, why conservatives are more susceptible to having their private proclivities exposed? Democrats like Al Franken are ousted when they are seen to actually harm real women, but who would care if he watches pornography on the internet? Ideally, we shouldn't care what movies Clarence Thomas prefers either, but the people who vote in his favor tend to do so because their guys are more godly and sexually uptight than those evil Democrats. Yes, it's politically harmful to them to have their hypocrisy exposed. They might have to run on the issues instead of on the fiction of being a better Christian. Is that such a bad thing?

David Brin said...

I repeat. If you truly are going to 'ruin a man's life' then rules of evidence should be legal and put burden of proof on the accuse. That is NOT what's going on, here.

What's at stake is picking a person FOR PROMOTION from a wide diversity of qualified candidates, with no practical penalties for failing to be chosen (except subjective anger-shame at being passed-over.) Promotion is still subjective in many ways. We've chosen to suppress some subjectivities like racial/gender preference. But still much is subjective and we are within our rights to subjectively say: "We'd rather choose from GOP favorites who don't come before us accompanied by a stench."

Again, the rage in defense of Kavanaugh is intrinsically a self-insult on all conservatives, proclaiming: "We don't have a deep bench."

Feh! Go... to... your... bullpen! Send us someone else.
Kavanaugh is shamed. But he'll be fine. And we are better off without a SC justice who seems likley to owe the mob.

===

Tacitus ,I hate to say it, but there's a weird way in which locumranch -- in his complete inability to grasp the notion of positive sum games -- is in the short term more realistic than you are. Because it seems impossible for you to grasp that positive sum politics are at least temporarily dead in America, deliberately murdered by one side, one cult, one party. You keep asking how we opponents of that cult mean to negotiate, when we are responding to aggression with forcefulness of our own. The answer is that we … are… at… war.  The enemy has no intention, ever again, of allowing mature negotiation or any other enlightenment process to function. We at last realize this. And you imply we are hypocritical by finally fighting back.

If we win, we will INSTANTLY try to restore pos.sum negotiation. Right now, it is dead, dead, dead. Stop demanding it of us, while we are literally fighting for our lives.

LH: “Second, the big money donors who dominate Republican policy would not necessarily be on board with the Dominionists the way they are with the kleptocrats. I can't see Sheldon Adelson (for example) wanting to enable the BoR scenario.”

Sorry. I look at Germany in the 1920s and 19030s. The Junkers lords and industrialists told themselves the populist ideology doesn’t matter, only the power to control money flows. The syndrome is the same.  Deeply stupid men who listen to sycophants telling them how smart they are.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

I look at Germany in the 1920s and 19030s. The Junkers lords and industrialists told themselves the populist ideology doesn’t matter, only the power to control money flows. The syndrome is the same. Deeply stupid men who listen to sycophants telling them how smart they are.


Ok, this is a weird tangent, but it's funny you mention Nazi Germany in this context. When I started to see Mike Pence on tv, it kept nagging at me that he reminded me of someone I couldn't place. Eventually, it came to me--his face and manner suggest that renegade captain from a Star Trek TOS episode who made the planet he landed on into an image of Nazi Germany.

Berial said...

@Larry Hart
Didn't that captain do that because in his opinion (one held by many in the 60s apparently) that Fascists were 'highly efficient'?

Something that just isn't so when you dig into the details.

Alfred Differ said...

Efficiency requires an agreed upon measure. Work done/Heat input from thermodynamics. Something like that.

The moment you all agree on a measure, you'll see what is NOT included, thus what gets sacrificed to maximize the measure.

Ecosystems don't have these measures except on a microscale and in competition/cooperation state.

If you have a global one, you don't have an ecosystem.

Treebeard said...

You aren't at war with conservatives, or feudal oligarchs, or whoever the villains are in your cosmology; you're at war with the universe, with the Tao. It's not going to be a long haul, it will never end. You could bring progress to a billion galaxies in a billion years, and you won't have even scratched the surface. Of course, we will go extinct long before that, so it will end eventually. So much for “positive sum”, which is a human delusion, not a law of nature.

David Brin said...

Treebeard's rationalizations are getting better. Still blithering loony though.

You are in no position to lecture me about big pictures. The Universe. Cosmic perspectives. Billions of years. You... lecture me... about big perspectives?

Oh, ho how cute.

I am fighting for a civilization in which every child, yes even those of limited faculties, like you, feel empowered to do that. It is an important near term fight. I have plenty left over for context. The two are not incompatible. Not zero sum.

But yes, cute.

duncan cairncross said...

Re Fascism and "efficiency"

If you read the "The Doctrine of Fascism" then it becomes clear that Fascism is actually a type of "Theocracy" - the "State" is "God" and the "Leader" is a cross between a Prophet and a High Priest
The implication is that all Criticism = Heresy
Which as our host has shown is a very good way to stuff up big time!

In practise this resulted in "Loyalty" being infinitely more important than "Competence" - which goes a long way to explain the decisions made by the senior Nazis

The Uniforms worn by the German soldiers are an example - they were the BEST LOOKING uniforms by far - and also about the worst to have to wear in battle - form over function

Larry Hart said...

@Duncan Cairncross,

There's a WWII-era George Orwell essay in which he points out that only in totalitarian regimes like Nazi Germany can the army get away with doing the goose-step. If, for example, the British army tried that, the people would laugh them off the street. That essay came to mind watching video of the North Korean military parades.

sociotard said...

Mantid observed catching small fish.
https://www.sciencealert.com/fishing-praying-mantis-discovered-in-scientist-s-garden-guppies-first-time

Jon S. said...

Yeah, that "standard of proof" thing has started cropping up. But, as someone pointed out on Twitter, Kavanaugh isn't on trial - he's facing a job interview.

And, it occurred to me later, you couldn't really expect to get very far in a job interview if the interviewer asked, "Have you ever stolen from a previous employer?", and your response was, "Nobody ever proved anything!"

Alfred Differ said...

@treebeard | We are supposed to believe you are more in tune with the Universe than everyone else? heh. Okay buddy.

yana said...


David Brin:
"...when has technocracy ever been a substantial authoritarian-oppressive mode? There are no plausible scenarios by which it could happen in the West."

Oops, you've a vaunted imagination, but in this case perhaps set on trot, not canter. Orwell plotted it out 70 years ago: technology to control not only media, but history, on the fly. Pushback from someone saying "but I was there, I saw what happened," well that's a prime thoughtcrime right there.

One may counter that the final apparatus of repression was physical, arrest and internment and re-educamps. But what made 1984 possible was technology. It was typewriters and pneumatic tubes, but George never had an iPhone. Today we don't need a vast cadre of flunkies retyping new history and shoving old history down the memory hole.

Now we have the goog, the app, the fb and the snapgram, redd and the pins. Even blogspot is becoming an anachronism. The GOP caught up to what Obama's team did in wresting the reins away from the Clintons. Manipulating a "news" feed has been shown to significantly affect not only the recipient's political view, but even more importantly it can affect the consumer's feelings of self worth.

Shouldn't have to point out how powerful that is. Messaging in that arena has been honed for about a century, witness the cosmetics and fashionmag industries. Where is Dove's "natural beauty" ad campaign now? It was self-affirming, and thus it did not sell. Now they tout the Dove "man care" line.

And look, it's not just women being manipulated by the same forces. Watch old Western movies. There's a point, a demarcation line in cinema, where prior to then, no ranchero nor gunslinger nor cowboy was depicted shaving. Then enter Burma Shave and Barbisol, with a new idea called 'cinema product placement' and voila! After that point, millions of men could never shave without buying a powder or creme.

When someone tipped me off to this, i didn't believe. But did the research, and holy mackeroo, it was true. Since then, don't use shaving cream, and it's true too: there's no difference between using cream and just wetting whiskers to soften 'em up. Just saying, to prove that it is already ancient knowledge, about how to use perceived self worth to drive purchases.

Just a hop and a skip, to using perceived self worth to drive voting, or much easier: to discourage voting. And where dailies and weeklies on paper charged for ads, presenting an economic barrier to message promulgation, the sosh medias are free. Former print bastions and 1st-gen internet publications still charge to advertise, and the goog charges for imprint packages, but the soshes are all free. So guess where Don Puty but his guys to work?

This is all driven by people who know how to do it, the marketing psychologists, the behavior analytics, network engineers, the design doctorates and software writers who can translate accumulated data into a combination of nuggets, completing an intimately personal stream of "new history". To distract, to engage, those twin purposes of all historical media.

Now, with technology, we can do both at the same time. I caw here sometimes about the 3rd comm revolution, but the heart of it is to synthesize distraction and engagement. People are doing it right now, and finding success.

The new middle class = bifurcation of manufacturing and media content management. Only one of those groups is being socially elevated to a de facto priesthood. We all know what happens, from history. Well, not "all," but the people here should know: in all societies which contain a priesthood, it has always served as a pool from which to elevate political leaders.

If your priesthood is technologists, it follows easily that your rulers will soon be technocrats.

yana said...


yana: "but his guys to work"

Editing is never done. Of course that should be "put" not "but". Dammit, made an oath never to rely on spellcheckers, and still they lead me to perdition.

yana said...


Treebeard thought:
"You aren't at war with conservatives, or feudal oligarchs, or whoever the villains are in your cosmology; you're at war with the universe, with the Tao. It's not going to be a long haul, it will never end. You could bring progress to a billion galaxies in a billion years, and you won't have even scratched the surface. Of course, we will go extinct long before that, so it will end eventually. So much for “positive sum”, which is a human delusion, not a law of nature."

Not blithering idiocy, that first couple sentences are a step past the majority of discourse around the web. A bit preachy, maybe a better way would've been: "Declare war against rain and you will die an old soldier."

But one thing strikes as odd. The way allows for organized matter to propagate, to fill any void left in unorganized matter. Vice versa too, yeah sure, but are entropy and disorder increasing as the universe expands? If so, the way would tend to foster organized matter, like us. Change is dictated, but extinction is not necessary for change.

Kinda seems like an expanding universe is a girder you can mount a philosophical cornice upon: it makes 'positive sum' possible at all times in every place. Thus a 'law of nature'.

David Brin said...

Yana while your concerns about technology exacerbating tyranny are entirely valid, you leave out that this has always been true. Moreover, technology is not technocracy, which is specifically about rule by an elite that bases its rule on 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.

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

You could bring progress to a billion galaxies in a billion years, and you won't have even scratched the surface. Of course, we will go extinct long before that, so it will end eventually. So much for “positive sum”, which is a human delusion, not a law of nature.


Talk about missing the point.

There's a reason why you don't gouge both your eyes out, pour gasoline all over yourself, and set it on fire, even though it will hardly matter whether you did so or not in a billion years.

David Brin said...

A terrific blog is reporting on the NIAC Symposium projects as the presentations happen here in Boston in almost real time. Have a look at these amazing, almost-scifi endeavors. Right now Lynn Rothschild’s team is presenting about how mushroom/fungi mycelium might help grow habitat structures on Mars! We also had a terrific keynote from former NASA astronaut + professor Bonnie Dunbar. You are paying (very little) for amazing possibilities.

https://www.nextbigfuture.com

David Brin said...

onward

onward