Saturday, October 13, 2018

Spreading disinformation - we can fight it with wagers

Alas, the "Union" side in this already-ignited civil war appears to have no generals. At least none with any sense of where the battlefield really is.  

It is all about the notion of "fact" or objective reality.  The top-foremost aim of the other side -- the mafiosi who have taken Washington and who are sweeping the globe -- has been to undermine every profession that deals in evidence, proof and the testing of assertions. From science to journalism to "deep state" law and intelligence agencies and the U.S. military officer corps -- all are denounced at every rally and Fox show.

No other issue matters like this one, because almost all other matters would swing their needle hard toward sensible negotiation and resolution, if factual reality itself weren't Enemy Number One. 

Efforts to counter this calamitously clever assault do exist. The Annenberg Public Policy Center set up and we all know about Snopes. There are dozens of worthy efforts and you can find many more below, under comments. But these earnest endeavors all suffer from a fatal flaw. As soon as each one starts operation, its tally of lies and misleading statements will point overwhelmingly at right wing pols and media. 

This, in turn leds to denunciation of the fact site as a "clearly biased" liberal mouthpiece, or an attempt to impose a "Ministry of Truth."

My own 12-part proposed Fact Act would get around this, by emphasizing fact-adjudicating methods that are inherently competitive. For example one provision would re-introduce five minutes of rebuttal per every five hours of one-sided opinion on any channel or station that takes advertising. You know who would oppose this! But the proposal does sound fair, and that is the first step to winning the war of polemic.

But we needn't wait. I have found one thing rocks our mad uncles out of their trances. One thing halts the spew of canned fox-incantations about Clintons and climate change hoaxes. One tactic always works! It is the one area where a good-old-boy still admits that facts matter. I've said it till I was blue in the face.

Wagers. Offer to find a neutral bartender or lawyer or scientist to first hold the stakes, then demand: "Put money on it!"  Watch.  Most of them will flee, of course. But a certain fraction... the ones we need, to tip the balance, will blink and start backpeddling, and at minimum you'll get some amusement.

"You are so sure that climate change is a hoax (or supply side tax cuts work, or there's massive voter fraud, or Republicans are better for market enterprise...) that you're willing to stake our children's future on it? But you aren't sure enough to make a bet and take my money? 

"Then the issue here isn't facts. It is cowardice and hypocrisy. It's weaseling and hot air!"

Here I detail six surefire-killer wagers that are NAME ONE EXCEPTION challenges. For example, name one fact-centered profession, from science to the FBI, that's not under direct assault by Fox. Or: name a single factor that won us the Cold War that’s not been dismantled by the Trump-Fox-GOP. Our mighty alliances like NATO? Our peerless and admired American science? Strong and confident intelligence agencies, or a public that’s united against Kremlin scheming, or IRS auditors tracking KGB cash flows? Protection of Russian defectors, or an American tradition of adult negotiation based on evidence. Oh and climate change has given Russia twelve new seaports along a valuable, ice-free Arctic they now control.

Oh, sure, your mad uncle won’t wind up taking an actual fact-centered bet. But use that fact! The macho may never recover. 

I've discussed this elsewhere, earlier this year and other years, yet not one other public figure-centrist I know of has tried this simple gambit. It was tried, briefly, against Rick Perry by Mitt Romney, who blew it, letting it be portrayed as bullying by a rich man... one of many wriggling excuses they'll use, and that incident may have deterred others from trying. But there are a million ways around such squirms: "Let's bet 5% of your wealth (or income) against 5% of mine," or "one day of your income vs. one day of mine," or "let's pick any random five people off the street and let them choose the stakes!"

Oh, the squirming that ensues. The specific terms of the bet, who holds the stakes... and none of that is the point!  The point is to let the public see who is doing the squirming!  And if it is just you vs. your uncle?  If he is an honest person, deep inside, then he will be the one to notice that.

I'll finish this time with a recommendation for his wife... your aunt... or any other American female who feels repelled by the current madness, but helpless in the face of political mania by the man she loves.

== More ammo for wagers ==

Elsewhere I list some great wagers, like demanding your Mad Uncle (MU) go with you to the beach to personally measure ocean acidification. (Watch him squirm!) Now on to some fresh items from the news.

A recent NY Times exposé on Trump family finances is just the tip of the spear in our guts. In his new book "House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia," veteran investigative journalist Craig Unger presents a detailed and exhaustively researched account of how Donald Trump has for decades laundered billions of dollars for Russian organized crime figures and other oligarchs. This fits a larger pattern in which Trump and his inner circle have shown a great comfort with financial crimes and other forms of unethical or illegal behavior to personally enrich themselves at the expense of the American people.

The bet? That the tally of Donald Trump's foreign 'friends' is nearly all mafia states, while those he rails at the most are traditional allies and democracies. The folks standing in Putin's way.

 Study patterns! In 1930 the German Junker aristocracy and the industrial moguls threw money behind a populist-nationalist movement that they thought would prove an effective way to destroy the Social Democrats... who were the only force keeping the communists out of power. It worked. Both communists and social democrats were slaughtered by the Nazis en masse. Then - too slowly - came the "what have we done?" realization that the rabid beast the aristos had released was no longer saddled. At which point they could only hold on for dear life... and many lost their lives and everything else.

Now we see something similar, in eerily ironic ways as Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson is pumping tens of millions of dollars more into Republican Party coffers in an 11th-hour push to save their congressional majorities. Confront your mad uncle (MU) with this! How conservatives reversed from hating gambling as a sin/vice to the GOP being owned and operated by casino moguls like Adelson, Wynn and Trump - the one profession on Earth that absolutely requires daily mob ties.  BTW, Adelson’s most  uncannily profitable casinos are in Macau — almost certainly laundering and channeling PRC money straight into our elections.

The bet? Find a core element of morality that the confederacy hasn't reversed, from gambling to accepting the vastly higher divorce rate among GOP politicians than democrats, to acceptance of dozens of sexual predators and child molesters as high officials, including one who spent ten years as Speaker of the House and the nation's top Republican. Dare him to bet on that! Or on relative rates of teen sex, teen pregnancy, STDs and so on, in Red America vs. Blue.  Oh, you'd win the bet! But watch, he will flee, rather than put up honest stakes

Is this more "fake news"? Concocted by the "deep state"? The same U.S. intelligence agencies that your Mad Uncle used to root for, when they struggled against the very same Kremlin foes, back when they wore hammer-and-sickle pins? Again, ask your MU to explain how the GOP swung from hating gambling to being owned by Casino moguls, slumlords and Cayman bankers. And who on Earth is more likely to have mob ties?

== As for your aunt? ==

Married Women May Be Moving Away From The GOP. That’s fine. Loving him doesn’t mean you have to adopt his loony politics, especially when you are alone in the booth. But you can do more. 

On election day, vote early, with friends - maybe dragging along some young people? Then bring home a case of his favorite beer. Put on a good game. Nag him to go vote half an hour before the polls close, but dress in a way that makes him want to stay. Think of Lysistrata. Save the world for your children.

== And if you know one of the masters of this treason? ==

The notion that shortsighted plutocrats are actually smart is one cultivated by their sycophant flunkies and it proved catastrophic in every past oligarchy, feudal or royal or theocratic or leninist. In EXISTENCE I tried to portray what some trillionaires might do, if they truly want to stay on top, while riding a healthy civilization upward. A civilization never angry enough to turn and look closely at the aristocracy. It was a pretty good scene, if I do say so... and I see no signs that any of today's oligarchs are smart enough to know how badly they need this.

Instead, we have (1) a war on all fact-using professions... how will that go, when you've angered all the folks who know nuclear, bio, nano and every other technology? and...

(2) A riled up, know-nothing, mass-populist movement that will either swing hard to the left, when folks remember their parents' devotion to FDR... or much worse...

... that the rabid populism stirred up by Fox-Jones-Breitbart will stay fascist and turn on the oligarchy with ferocity. We are seeing the latter now, and Charles Koch would do well to prove he truly is smarter than the average billionaire. If he and a few others don't waken, they had better learn the word "tumbrels."


Winter7 said...

I've heard rumors that some Republican leaders have joined a Nazi named Steve Bannon. That is a serious mistake that many Republicans do not understand. I know there are honorable Republicans, who are brave and want the best for their country. But there are some Republicans who need to throw some cold water at them to react.
Forgetting the past; is one of the worst mistakes that big nations have made. The grandparents of the Americans, those who fought in the great war, they do remember and they are very clear about what is right. My family fought in the great war; in the Korean War, and in all damn wars that happened in Mexico.
I think it's time to remind some spoiled children of the Republican party, the values that the grandparents who fought in the great war defended:
If you want to read the full speech:

Winter7 said...

It seems that this thief named Donald Trump has managed to steal the lost treasure of the Union Army:

Winter7 said...

Donald Trump and some Republican leaders know they are guilty of high treason. Because of that, they are taking some precautions, in case the democrats manage to take them to trial and condemn them for high treason:

Treason laws in the United States:

Tim H. said...

Something The President's supporters should keep in mind:
World trade wasn't always primarily in dollars, if dealing with the United States becomes painful enough, there are other currencies.

Don Gisselbeck said...

I just got my union kepi (from,probably better quality than Walmart). I put a Peace Corps pin in it and will be trolling for neo-confederates until at least election day.

john fremont said...

And the assault on Expertise continues, Trump claims to know more about the strategic value of NATO than James Mattis, AKA the Warrior Monk. Mattis led his officers with the maxim to study history, "...because of that I've never been caught flat footed in any situation." Trump knows how to cut the best deals though.

yana said...

As vitriol bubbles up, a backstep for consideration, a quote:

"[b]The Ideal[/b]: A nation in which those elected truly represent the will of those who elected them - for the good of all.

"[b]The Real[/b]: Our election laws and traditions reflect the country as it was decades ago. The time has come to ask some basic questions."

"How long should elected officials serve?
Is there still a need for the electoral college?
Should taxpayers foot the bill for election campaigns?
Does our present system truly provide one vote for each person?
Is our political structure so big that officials are too far from those who elect them?"

The quote is from a magazine advertisement by the Atlantic Richfield oil Company in 1974. Shared here, because i just find four layers of irony in there, with hindsight. Surely, someone here sees a fifth.

raito said...

Dr. Brin,

I don't think wagers will work because the parties to the bet won't be able to agree on terms. What is a fact-centered profession? What is 'direct assault'? If you can't agree on those, you won't get far at all. And I get that part of the idea is to make them think about the terms even if they won't take the bet.

I happened to catch some Al Gore interviews this weekend. And he's going to have the same problems. He keep referring to scientists and facts, and that's not what's driving things currently. So I imagine that to those other guys, he just looks like a looney who talks about discredited things studied by discredited people.

Taylor Swift, of all people, did say something worth saying with her statement that since our current regime was put in place, we've had a couple years of new voters crossing the 18 year old threshold (can't find a reference easily, -- it was a bit on NPR)(this is different from her Instagram post getting the most attention now). And we know how those votes break down historically.

Anonymous said...

Trump knows how to cut the best deals though.


Looking at the number of people he's stiffed of the years, he seems to rely on either (a) always finding fresh suckers, or (b) exploiting those who don't have a choice*.

*Kinda like mafia 'fire insurance' — it's better than having your shop burned down, but that doesn't make it a "great deal".

Larry Hart said...

So, who knew that when Benedict Donald crowed that he could shoot a man on Fifth Avenue and not lose any support, he lowballing the rhetoric? Now that he's apparently an accessory before and after the fact to torture and murder of a journalist, shooting a man seems almost humane.

Donald Trump undoubtedly wishes everyone would just forget about Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi-born journalist and American resident who appears to have been murdered while visiting the Saudi embassy in Istanbul. Mohammed bin Salman, the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, who appears to have ordered the killing, probably wishes the same. Unfortunately for both of them, the situation isn't going away.


Trump either does not understand quite how irritated the members of Congress are, or else he doesn't care. However, members across the spectrum—from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)—were on the Sunday morning talk shows to express their outrage over the situation, and Trump's lack of action. There's even talk that this may be the straw that breaks the camel's back, and could be the incident that causes Congress to re-discover its backbone, and to re-assert its Constitutional right (and duty) to oversee foreign policy, thus wresting power away from Trump. It's possible, but since we've heard this exact same thing half a dozen times before, and since at least 51 senators always back down when push comes to shove, don't count on it

Larry Hart said...


"Trump knows how to cut the best deals though."


No, your sarcasm meter needs tuning. :)

more weight said...

It looks more and more as if the Left/Right split itself is the problem. It seems that the split is a software bug: the consequence of the strength of human tribal instincts plus the evolutionary novelty of billions-of-people-interacting-through-communications-technology. I don't see us surviving if we can't stop this madness. I even wonder if this might actually be the Great Filter.

more weight said...

Political orientation in the modern world is heritable, but this need not prove the L/R split to be something meaningful. All it would have to mean is that, having been born into this tribal conflict, genes influence the choice of which side to join. Genes influence most things after all.

more weight said...

Am I right in thinking that the L/R split is only as old as the modern democracies? As a tribal phenomenon; the variation in genes, brains, preferences etc. must have always been there but did anyone identify with it before the French Revolution?

Larry Hart said...

more weight:

...but did anyone identify with it before the French Revolution?

Not by the words "Left" and "Right". But isn't this the difference between Hobbes and Locke? Whether people are basically evil and need constraining by strong authorities, or basically good and need to be protected from harm but otherwise left to their own devices?

Jon S. said...

Not sure the wagers will work after all.

Donnie was recorded at a public appearance last June stating that if Elizabeth Warren could demonstrate any Native American ancestry, he'd give one million dollars to the charity of her choice.

So, she had her DNA tested. Turns out her claims are accurate. This morning, Donnie said that he never made any such offer. And so far, I haven't heard from any of the "mad uncles" who are supposed to disapprove of welching on bets...

more weight said...

Oh sure, all kinds variation in thinking/feeling/understanding the world must have always existed. But did Hobbes and Locke *identify* as members of one-of-two political tribes, expecting the human race to be, as a matter of course, divided in half? Did they choose their friends, mates, professions and pastimes according to tribal affiliation? If they did, was that widespread?

donzelion said...

Matthew: Apologies for delayed response; I'm a little shaken up by what happened to Jamal Kashoggi. He is not the only one banned from twitter, and though I barely knew him, others are at risk who were closer friends.

"if you are able to comment on the ramifications"
I'll comment on the ramifications as I see them, since that doesn't involve any sources inside the Kingdom. As background, the Crown Prince has been orchestrating a series of exceptionally harsh measures against the agents and operatives of certain other royals - Kashoggi wasn't one of them, but was close to a couple powerful princes. They've put huge sums of what he seems to regard as 'the Kingdom's (his) money' into foreign real estate and securities (look up his uncle, Adnan Kashoggi, whose yacht briefly made its way into Donald Trump's ownership - and from there back to Waleed bin Talal, who helped bail Trump out of one bankruptcy - if you watched 'Never Say Never Again' you know the yacht).

Obama had exceptional people working with the previous king's people for almost a decade to put the big arms deal together; the previous Saudi deal of the century (roughly in 2006) went to the UK, not because their weapons systems were great, but to send a statement of annoyance toward Bush (many folks assumed the Saudis and Bush Jr were best buddies, based on a few misleading, self-serving reports...). In 2012 or so, the Kingdom committed to buying about $50 bn in antiquated American F-15s (the bulk of the $115 bn was for very modern missiles systems). The structure of the deal creates tens of thousands of jobs, mostly in Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and does so for the long haul. When the new king took power, his son's people saw the deal as scandalously lopsided.

The Saudis are testing Trump, but ultimately, some among them are looking for an excuse to back out of that deal. I cannot say where the crown prince stands, so this could be a matter of internal feudal rivalries at work (royals hoping to pit Trump v. the Crown Prince), but either way, the overall framework is one where a surprising number of much-beloved techno-leaders in Silicon Valley are likely to find an unexpected shortage of capital (our host used to believe the Saudis were in league with Murdoch, and may still believe that - but they've invested far more into companies our host thinks very highly of, as well as a large number of other pursuits nobody in this community thinks much about, like HSBC and Citibank).

Qatar, Iran, and Russia are also factors, and a whole wing of royals who were closer to Turkey than to the Saudi ruling family is experiencing fast deteriorating fortunes.

"My take is that MBS got pissed at Khashoggi and decided that Trump wouldn't retaliate if MBS was blatant."
A very high probability that this is accurate - but there are other possibilities relating to moving parts all over the region. There are massive elements in Turkey, Iran, Qatar, Syria, Iraq, Russia, and elsewhere with a powerful interest in driving a wedge between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. There are even factions in Turkey who are looking to breach US/Turkey relations (hence the nearly immediate release of a certain pastor to try to smooth that over). But I lack evidence to pin down probabilities.

David Brin said...

The simplest left-right determiner is attitude toward inherited wealth. Many on the right would say it's friendliness to market enterprise, but the record shows that it does vastly better under democrats and that today's "conservatives" and libertarians never read Adam Smith and undermine fair competition whenever they can.

Lately I have seen a completely different definition of left-center-right which I laid down in one of my "classics."

matthew said...

Thanks for your take DZL - I deeply appreciate your expertise on these matters.

Interesting that you point out that some in the Saudi royals would like to back out of the remainder of the 2012 arms deal. This is a point I had not heard before. I've been hearing how badly they need the US to continue arms shipments given their adventure in Yemen.

Larry Hart said...

Thom Hartmann said something on Bill Maher's show a few weeks back that seems relevant to the left/right divide. This isn't exactly what he was talking about, but to slightly interpret his comment*, the Left is suspicious of power/control conferred by money, while the Right is suspicious of those who know how things work, and can accurately predict undesirable results.

* Thom's actual comment was, "When liberals talk about 'elites', they mean rich people. When conservatives talk about 'elites', they mean smart people."

more weight said...

Dr. Brin,

Yes, but isn't it strange that we have to live in two tribes at all? Neither tribe is *better* and we actually all know this, since they were both tested during the twentieth century, at incomprehensible human cost. Why are we still doing this/how do we stop?

Alfred Differ said...

Tribal identity goes back at least as long as we've been human in the modern sense. Us and Everyone Else is the simplest split. Only traders really have to deal with the fact that Everyone Else isn't a tribal identity at all. They aren't monolithic. Under stress, though, treating them as a monolithic group is a decent first guess much of the time.

In more modern times, I agree with David's perspective that it is about how one perceives the rights of those with inherited wealth. One one side are the royalists/tories/conservatives and the other side are the reactionaries/labor/liberals. Liberals aren't a simple group, though. As an 'everyone else' tribe they are composed of many groups that often disagree on details except the one that thinks the people with inherited wealth are abusing others. Progressives, greens, classical liberals, libertarians, and lots of other groupings exist. Some can be so annoyed with the others that they occasionally side with the 'royalists' out of spite. (I see that with some libertarians who are so upset at pseudo-socialists that they'll behave like confederates thinking they are better off with that evil instead. They are mistaken, but that's the idea.)

sociotard said...

Speaking of wagers, remember Donald Trump's million-dollar-to-charity offer for Elizabeth Warren to take a DNA test to check her Native American ancestry claims?

Anyone want to wager he'll actually pay? $5 says he won't.

more weight said...

Alfred Differ

OK, but if people *disagree about the rights of those with inherited wealth*, it's not obvious to me that this has to lead to a (roughly) 50/50 split in society, with two cultures that dictate a whole suite of separate beliefs, customs, mythologies, sacred symbols, abominations, people choosing their friends, their spouses (not everyone marries within tribe but most people do)...

I do not identify as left or right, so I know that it is possible to live outside the dichotomy. For a long time I thought, Well, the L/R split isn't real, but it seems to provide balance in society, hating half the population is actually better than hating a minority group, they will push against each other and remain deadlocked. If it seems to work, fair enough. I'm not sanguine anymore.

more weight said...

Of course, I have tribal affiliations myself! I didn't mean to imply otherwise lol. I'm no doubt as blinded as anyone, just in different ways.

David Brin said...

One thing I learned, she grew up in Norman Oklahoma. Cripes! ANYONE who grew up there would just assume she was X% Cherokee. It would be bizarre not to be! Though, indeed, many tribes call the Cherokee "white." See where I discuss them in SUNDIVER.

Larry Hart said...

An apolitical interlude...over last weekend, my wife and I drove up from Chicago to Minneapolis for her high school reunion. So we're in a room full of people who don't know me from Adam, as I grew up in Chicago. I've heard stories of a handful of the people, but I've never met any of them except one, and she's not the one I'm talking about here.

So this woman who is actually pretty nice looking (and if I were single, this story would go differently) catches my eye across the room, walks over, and tells me she thinks she remembers me from high school. Since my wife is right there next to me, I just explain that I'm not from those parts, and we all have a laugh. But thanks to someone on this list who (sadly) I don't recall, I was able to deadpan just loud enough so that only my wife can hear, "It wasn't me. It must have been some blackfeller who looked like me."

David Brin said...

Sure, she was less than 100% pure on college applications. I'll weigh that when comparing her to Joe Biden. Tell you what. I'll excuse that if you'll let Al Franken crawl across glass and be forgiven. We need him back, you know. We were tricked into tossing him and Paul Ryan laughed with glee.

sociotard said...

If we let Franken back, the Right will laugh and say we were never serious about the Kavanaugh allegations.

If you hold to an ideal, you must hold to it ten times greater than you expect your enemies to, or be destroyed in the rhetoric battle.

Larry Hart said...


So instead, it's Kavanaugh 1, Franken 0. Not sure what we gain from that.

David Brin said...

Bah, sociotard. Can you, right now, parse for us Franken's crimes? Can you honestly tell us that there's not a desperate need for a grand conference of feminists to give us some sliding scales to use on this stuff?

Alfred Differ said...

@more weight | I don't think it IS a 50/50 split. What I see is closer to 33/33/33 with a block in the middle who tries to avoid being asked about their anger level. If they successfully avoid, it only looks like 50/50.

That the royalists have a lot of support is not surprising. They always have. That the forces who oppose them are as numerous as they are is the historically surprising fact. It is much more common for the peasantry to support royals/aristocrats as long as the noblemen don't cause local wars that cause famines. All that theft and other forms of shenanigans rarely involves the peasants. It's the bourgeoisie who get squeezed and historically they are just a sliver of the population. Not so anymore because they consumed the peasantry.

The bourgeoisie can be imagined (fairly) in three distinct groups. The haute bourgeois are the aristocrat wanna-bee's. The petite bourgeois are the working class stiffs who get by, but their savings are dismal. The layer in the middle contains the rest of us including most fo the so-called intelligencia (=clade of 'smart people' who make a living applying their educations). It's not unusual for the intelligencia to be working for aristocrats and their wanna-bee's, so that's part of how we get an apparent even split.

The bottom of the social ladder is rapidly uplifting itself all across the world. That is a HUGE deal if you are a would be aristocrat or derive an income from them. In the mid-70's, for the first time in human history, more than half of all humans lived above the abject poverty line. Things have continued to improve as just recently we can now claim half of humanity has managed to climb into the 'middle class'. Basically, peasantry as a life style is rapidly going extinct. What are all these people going to do next? They are getting educations and beginning to care about politics. THAT's what is driving social changes. Looking at Left/Right identities misses the point. Look at where someone's grandparents were on the social ladder compared to them instead. Ask what new interests these new members of the bourgeoisie have.

sociotard said...

Yes, it isn't hard Al Franken had eight accusers, whose accusations mostly amounted to tongue kisses when stage kisses would do, and over-the-clothes groping. So, not Cosby or Weinstein level rape. I'll stipulate that.

So, now lets compare and contrast with Kavanaugh. He also wasn't Cosby or Weinstein level rape. He had fewer accusers than Franken. Kavanaugh was accused of over-the-clothes groping, with the primary difference that he was physically on top of Ford at the time and he put her hand over her mouth. He also had far fewer accusers, and none were very recent. I'm not sure if Kavanaugh being drunk and Franken being sober makes one better or worse.

Again, Ford was afraid it would end in a rape, but while Kavanaugh absolutely deserves shame for making her afraid it is not clear he would have followed through.

So instead, it's Kavanaugh 1, Franken 0. Not sure what we gain from that.
The war sir, not the battle. Didn't you glance at the OP, with the possibility that married women are going blue? If the left can stick to the movement, purging all the gropers, casting out their Bill Clintons, then the left can be merciless to the right.

Alfred Differ said...

@sociotard | purging all the gropers

I get it, but be careful. You also purge the people who don't think the act rises to the level of a crime. It winds up looking like a purity test to some and that pisses them off. Basically, to get this purge, you risk pissing off people who don't like 'holier-than-thou' attitudes. They might not vote red, but not voting or voting 3rd party gets about the same result.

I get it because this kind of purging is what I see among libertarians. We are damn good at whittling ourselves down to less than 1% of the population in order to ensure purity.

Inviting the conversation as David suggests is a way to avoid our trap.

donzelion said...

Matthew: "Interesting that you point out that some in the Saudi royals would like to back out of the remainder of the 2012 arms deal."

I don't actually know about Saudi royals on that deal; never heard one say their feelings.
Missiles? Absolutely needed. F-15s? Not so much. But really, the threat from Yemen's Shi'a minority is less pressing than Iranian or other Arab groups creating instability. There is a country that built its entire military around enforcing internal stability + area denial priorities...and it's not us.

Whatever turns up from Turkey, I suspect the bigger picture for them remains how much they can trust America. They hear Trump talk down NATO and draw some conclusions about the reliability of friends and foes.

Andy said...

So I've been listening to some Joe Rogan podcasts lately.

One where he interviewed Elon Musk, and discussed simulation theory and Tesla and tunnels under LA and artificial intelligence.

One where he interviewed Ben Shapiro, and discussed identity politics, liberals versus leftists, limited government, and the effectiveness of California.

And then it clicked.

He's in California. You're in California.

You're both interested in similar topics, including science fiction type stuff and politics.


Dr Brin, this would VASTLY increase your audience and the reach of your message and memes.

This needs to happen!

more weight said...

Alfred Differ

Very interesting comment, thank you!

I've got guests coming, but just quickly: if 36% of Americans are moderates, why do they seem to exert no pressure on American politics? If moderate means *just not interested* they don't effectively matter.

Most people don't mind about the social class of their grandparents. (I had great-grandparents who owned a castle, and great-grandparents who went to school without shoes in the Irish winter. These are only anecdotes to me now). Working class Trump voters, like working class Bush and Reagan voters, do not identify with left-wing working class people, but with rich-or-poor conservatives. They don't hate the Bourgeoisie, they hate liberals. They don't categorize people that way, they roll their eyes.

Heritability of political attitudes:

Larry Hart said...

more weight:

if 36% of Americans are moderates, why do they seem to exert no pressure on American politics? If moderate means *just not interested* they don't effectively matter.

Maybe "just not interested" is too harsh, but probably more like "have other concerns and don't think about politics all the time."

You're echoing the position of Dr Brin's Dena character in The Postman that the many men who are neither heroes or villains don't move the needle enough to matter. It's hard to argue that you're mistaken.

Larry Hart said...

This article speaks to what "more weight" was talking about:


Roughly two-thirds of Americans, across four political types, fall into what the authors call “the exhausted majority.” Sixty-one percent say people they agree with need to listen and compromise more. Eighty percent say political correctness is a problem, and 82 percent say the same about hate speech.

Unfortunately, people in the exhausted majority have no narrative. They have no coherent philosophic worldview to organize their thinking and compel action. When they get one I suspect it will look totally unlike the two dominant narratives today. These narratives are threat narratives. But the people who make positive change usually focus on gifts, not deficits. They tell stories about the assets we have and how we can use them together.

I don’t know what the next political paradigm will look like, but I bet it will be based on abundance, not deficits; gifts, not fear; hope, not hatred.

Larry Hart said...

The problem with the betting gambit...they don't care. :


Trump, of course, has not rushed to drop a check in the mail, despite the fact that Warren has helpfully already identified the charity of her choice. In fact, when he was told of the news, the President said, "Who cares?" and insisted that he never offered the $1 million. Since, after all, there were only 10,000 live witnesses or so, not to mention the hundreds of thousands more watching on TV.

Undoubtedly, Warren knew there would be no payment. She also knows that Trump's base doesn't care if he welshes out on his financial obligations, since he's been doing it for decades.

matthew said...

I've tried the betting gambit a few times. It has not worked.

Idea sounds good on paper but doesn't work in real life.


Anyone else notice the lack of mentions of Saudi money to Trump corp. when discussing the Khashoggi murder? American press seems remarkably resistant to mention Trump's financial ties to the Saudis in relation to his refusal to hold them to account for murder of a US resident. Remarkable.

Unknown said...

"Alas, the "Union" side in this already-ignited civil war appears to have no generals. At least none with any sense of where the battlefield really is."

The Union doesn't appear to even recognize that war has been declared and is being actively waged. I wonder if the Confederates think to themselves ... who knew the unraveling of a liberal democracy could be so easy.

DVGill said...

As an ancestral Welshman, the best outcome that I can possibly see coming out of the Elizabeth Warren bet is if we can retire the ancient stereotype 'welsh/welch' in favor of 'trumped'.

"That no-good crazy uncle trumped on our bet! He owes me pizza!"

David Brin said...

More-weight hi. The American mythos says you're not supposed to care about ancestry. And social mobility has much improved, especially if you can join the fact-using-exploring castes. Still, there are depressing studies shouwing that in most of the world, your parentage determines your future more than anything else.

LarryHart: , let's admit this is a case where the preponderance of evidence is actually... actually... in Donald Trump's favor. IF IT WERE IMPORTANT and a matter of fraud whether E. Warren had appreciable Amerind DNA, then this test does NOT support her. And the video clip of DT offering the million dollars was "if it turns out she's an Indian." She's not, so stop trying to make him pay. But in fact it doesn't matter. This whole thing is idiotic. She was from Okla and hence was PROUD to imagine the family stories were true. THAT is the only reflection on her character and it is positive. Meanwhile Two Scoops taunted her in racist and thuggish ways, and THAT is the only pertinent truth about him.

Matthew the wager thing only works if you are persistent enough to show THAT they are the ones wriggling and squirming and evading… and then it only works to skiim the few non-hypocrites away. But that's where it matters.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

And the video clip of DT offering the million dollars was "if it turns out she's an Indian." She's not, so stop trying to make him pay.

But she never said she was "an Indian". She said she had Indian blood, and she does. That weasel phrase is completely irrelevant.

Meanwhile Two Scoops taunted her in racist and thuggish ways, and THAT is the only pertinent truth about him.

Unfortunately, his supporters like his racist and thuggish ways.

matthew said...

This is where I part ways with David - I don't think there are *any* non-hypocrites left in the GOP. You have to be a hypocrite in order to spout nonsense about supply-side, and taxes for the rich, and "religious freedom" and yadda yadda yadda.

Name one member of the GOP who is not an utter hypocrite. My new challenge.

Tacitus said...

Larry, Dude, ya went right past Taciturium without stopping in for a visit! You wound me, sirrah.

Regards E. Warren, I don't think many people actually care what the DNA test showed, although if you want to get all fact based, it didn't show much.

But if she furthered her career by claiming to be Native American on the basis of her zip code, her fondness for the culture and an ancestor 6 to 10 generations back....well that does not redound to her credit. Although she is held by some to be a rather unpleasant person she is quite clearly smart enough to succeed in life without this cultural equivalent of Stolen Valor identification. If, and this is a fair point for debate, if she got ahead by claiming to be Cherokee, whose admission/job/advancement did she take away by so doing?


Larry Hart said...

Tim W:

Larry, Dude, ya went right past Taciturium without stopping in for a visit! You wound me, sirrah.

I actually thought of asking you if we'd be anywhere near your neck of the woods.

But an 8 hour drive each direction in two days was brutal enough.

If we ever go back with more free time, I'll let you know.

Larry Hart said...


Name one member of the GOP who is not an utter hypocrite. My new challenge.

I think Dr Brin is referring to voters rather than officeholders.

Alfred Differ said...

@more weight | I it's somewhere between 'just not interested' and 'exhausted' and 'not my business.'

In a liberal democracy like ours, most of what you do day-to-day isn't impacted by government decision makes. It isn't SUPPOSED to be impacted. We live (supposedly) in a nation where "what isn't expressly forbidden is allowed", so most things you do shouldn't even be noticed by government.

Take a good look at the middle. I think you'll find most of them trying to go about their lives as if they shouldn't have to pay much attention to government. When they DO pay attention, it is exhausting and they go back to what is more normal for their lives.

Of all the things our President is doing wrong with the power given to him, I think the biggest is that he is making us HAVE to pay attention to government minutia and decisions. The more we get used to that, the less liberal we are in the old sense. The more we expect certain behaviors of government to matter, the less room we leave ourselves to live that life where all is allowed unless expressly forbidden. We risk getting used to looking at the federal government too much.

That's my beef with a lot of progressives too. It's good to have good intentions for helping people, but it's bad to rely too much on government to do it all. People get used to that and then the wrong sorts of people are drawn to the power they help create. Social conservatives can be just as bad when they want social rules enforced. Seriously. Should I give a damn who marries whom? Mostly, I'd say I should not. Not my business. Not my place to meddle. Both sides risk getting government too involved in our lives, though, and then the middle HAS to pay attention.

It's not really the middle, though, is it? It's the old-school liberals.

Russell Osterlund said...

A problem with all of the criticism leveled against Sen. Warren and her DNA video is that nobody is offering constructive and effective alternatives for combating a bully, gas-bag. Sure, this tactic will never convince Unobama idiots and bring them over to her side. But suggesting this was a "swing and a miss" (sports jargon suggesting women do not know how to play the game) - - is the same type of yellow-journalism that branded Clinton and stuck her with all of her "baggage" in 2016. Doing nothing and allowing this Native Indian issue to fester will create the same problem Clinton faced with her e-mails, allowing the mud to stick. I think the move shows strength and a willingness to call out a coward. Perhaps, Warren should match every "Pocahontas" reference with one of her own, e.g., "Little Hands."

duncan cairncross said...

"But if she furthered her career by claiming to be Native American on the basis of her zip code, her fondness for the culture and an ancestor 6 to 10 generations back....well that does not redound to her credit."

But She DID Not

As far as I can make out she was already working when she was asked if she had Indian Blood - which she admitted
The only person who "benefited" by that was the person trying to show that the operation was diverse

Alfred Differ said...

Getting the wagers to work requires hard work. It's not as simple as challenging people and finding a trusted third party to hold the money/obligation papers. Making the wager actually measurable can be quite a challenge.

For example, David speaks to how federal spending tends to shrink under Democratic Presidents and increases under GOP ones. He then quantifies the test when he speaks of the second derivative of the debt or the curvature of the function with those 'close fit' tangent circles. One can argue whether the second derivative test is a good one (I won't. I recognize the F=ma built into it.), but the quantified version is testable, thus a wager can be designed for it.

The feds produce all sorts of statistics if one goes looking for them. All provide good fodder for advanced forms of bar-room bets. For example, one could ask whether real incomes have risen, stayed level, or gone down for US residents in the last two generations. Should be testable, right? We'd have to be careful to define 'real income' in an agreed upon manner and then use BEA as an oracle.

One of the neat things to emerge in recent years is the notion of a 'smart contract' using blockchain db's as a way to code agreements and automate asset transfers in a way that can be made relatively immune to human interpretation and trusted party enforcement shenanigans. If I wanted to make a $100 bet with someone about something measurable that can be oracle-ized, I could stash $100 worth of some cryptocurrency in the contract, get the other guy to do the same, and then let the dapp detect the winner and pay the bet to the winner. The world is changing fast. 8)

David Brin said...

“She said she had Indian blood, and she does.”

Bah, a harmless super-inflation on her part… but still a super inflation.

Tacitus, show us evidence it was used for actual self-advancement, other than preening-political.

If she politically bragged about having a few drops, well, look how far we’ve come.

Alfred, the deficit chart I present makes it pretty easy to show the dems use the brakes and gopper shove on the gas:

Special attention to the above from Tim/Tac! Your ideal party is the fiscally conservative side of the DP.

Tacitus said...

Fair enough. But let me say again, I don't care what people self identify as, don't have anything against Senator Warren personally and have nothing but respect for Native Americans. I have worked with a lot of them.

The case for her advancing on the basis of claimed minority status requires two elements, advancement and a claim of minority status....and a link between these elements.

From the mid 80's to the mid 90's Warren was a law teacher successively at University of Texas, University of PA, and eventually Harvard. I think we can agree that the latter is a status job, one that could lead even further. Not that I am denigrating Texas or Pennsylvania mind you. But....Harvard.

From 1986 to 1994 she was listed in the directory of the American Association of Law Schools as a minority. Did the process of recruiting and screening candidates at U Pa and Harvard include a peek at this directory? Unknown.

Several people on the interview committee have come forward saying that the minority thing was news to them. So there's that.

The final word from Politifact....

"Typically, Warren would have filled out forms for tracking faculty diversity. The Boston Globe found that Harvard reported one Native American teacher when Warren was there as a visiting professor, then again when she joined the permanent faculty. The University of Pennsylvania had similar reports.

Neither the schools nor Warren have opened up the personnel files that might add more details."

I said this was a matter open to debate. To me it seems plausible but unproven that her minority status as reported may have gotten her a foot in the door. Or, perhaps the AALS directory is like those Who's Who books that nobody ever really reads.

I doubt we will learn much more about it. It's not as if Harvard is going to open up the personnel files or anything.


Larry Hart said...


You really see something far-reaching and sinister in Elizabeth Warren maybe implying that the Indian blood she does in fact possess is more significant than it actually is?

This while you're willing to take Brett Kavanaugh at his word, and if not a fan of Trump, you're willing to overlook his excesses because at least thank God it's not Hillary in the White House? Their evasiveness and lies and perjury aren't enough to trigger you, but Warren's exaggeration-if-that is?

I'm sorry, but words fail me.

Elizabeth Warren never condoned or abetted torture and murder. Some perspective?

next door Laura said...

No Larry, just no.

If Ms. Warren used a minimal to non existent Native American heritage to get ahead in life that's wrong. And an affront to actual minorities I should think. But I strive for consistency. The people who sat on the admissions committee said this never came up. They might or might not be telling the truth.

But this is not far reaching or sinister. Call it a character flaw.

I am choosing to take the word of the members of the admissions committee. Barring a release of personnel records we have nothing more to go on. And that seems a bit extreme.

I do not believe I have or am currently overlooking any of the President's manifest character flaws.

I have often said that the Cardinal Sin in American politics is hypocrisy. It is not in short supply. A Republican espousing Family Values and the cavorting with other than his/her spouse is hypocrisy. Touting a pro minority platform while gaming the affirmative action system would be as well.


donzelion said...

Tim: Warren's research on bankruptcy started in the '80s - and shocked a whole wing of the bar. By the time she got her visiting professorship at Harvard, she was already widely respected for shaking empirical research from being finance driven to family driven.

I'd suggest reading a few articles, and seeing what you think. You might even be surprised a bit; the use of strategic bankruptcy by the very rich is one of the big mechanisms of growing wealth and shedding debt without major loss - it's how they can take risks most others cannot, shifting the cost of losses onto others while remaining rich, while pocketing the gains from the winners.

After you've read one, I'd be happy to evaluate whether her Native American heritage played a role, or whether it was simply some excellent work product. Until then, while it's possible, to believe that she got special treatment, youd first need to denigrate the work itself (and all those who read it and found it riveting).

donzelion said...

All that said, it is fascinating that a group of folks would try to evaluate Elizabeth Warren's heritage without looking at any number of publicly available bits of research: the precise malady afflicting a whole swathe of America, flagrantly displayed. Judge first then reject facts when they interfere with ones judgments (then deny having made a pre-judgment, and feign irritation at being personally attacked for offering ones honest opinion).

We can be better than that.

Alfred Differ said...

One should also take into account that her claims date well back before cheap DNA testing. She could reasonably expect the DNA results to show more than they did, so claims that she falsified anything are pretty weak.

It is only in recent years that we can check some of these old claims. Imagine the fun to be had when a daughter discovers her father isn't her father at all. How many American southern whites have recent African DNA fragments? Hmpf. My own DNA suggests some ancient mingling with Neanderthals. That used to be offered as an insult. Now it's a yawner.

David Brin said...

Look, I have never been her biggest fan. And claiming to be a minority was... well... a character flaw even if she felt sincere. It is so very far from criminally fraudulent though that I remain free to base my opinions almost entirely on her articulate expression of powerful views, which are a bit left of my center but mostly things we desperately need. Like wonkish actual attention to actual facts and objective reality.

Alfred Differ said...

The statistical chart I like to show off is harder to construct and offers interesting betting opportunities.

One charts the doubling rate of the national GDP (instantaneous 'tangent exponential') relative to the doubling rate of national CO2 production (another tangent exponential) generated by useful economic activity. For climate change reasons, we want to see decent CO2 halving rates (just a negative coefficient in the exponential) and we want to see decent GDP doubling rates so the costs of climate change mitigation in the future aren't as troubling as they would be if we spent money now. It's a present value problem that admits some CO2 production now might be helpful if made up for later by higher real incomes.

I haven't updated my charts in a few years, but one could definitely see the race underway last time I did. It's useful against zealots of all stripes in the climate conflict underway.

yana said...

OK here goes, it's a convoluted story, but in 2016 i stopped claiming Cherokee ancestry. Whenever someone asked about my descent, for years i'd rattle off the stock we "knew" about. Felt fairly comfortable about including Cherokee, since another branch has a good body of genealogical work... earliest nameable ancestor was born 499 years ago. Probably should organize a big reunion next year, but that sounds like a bigger project than i can tackle.

So why did i drop a claimed Cherokee nationality? Because Elizabeth Warren. Not her personally, but her backstory. The tale she tells of Cherokee infusion into her bloodline is the same exact story in my family. As handed down to me, the tale is that my parent is eligible to join the Cherokee Nation, but i am not. Because the threshhold (back then, anyways) was 1/32 Cherokee blood, so i'd be 1/64th... if the story were true.

So i looked, to see if there was a common ancestor between Senator Warren and myself. There is not, at least as far as i can tell. But then something else happened in 2016, while researching this. I came across another folkloric account, unrelated to both Senator Warren's family and mine, published in the 1980's. It was the same story!

Funny, huh? I dropped the Cherokee claim, because the backstory looked more and more like an "urban legend" the more i looked. The Senator being from Oklahoma, it'd be odd if she didn't have 1st Nations heritage somwhere, she may even be at the 1/32nd level (5 generations), but i doubt the family "history" she claims as handed down because, bless Occam, there is a simpler solution.

My hunches are pretty good, and this one says that there was an article in a 'women's magazine' about 1905, which suggested to ladies that they might "exoticize" themselves by incorporating the charming and utterly romantic story which survived, as intact tradition, now in three known cases. Cases which appear to be unrelated genealogically.

Why circa 1905? Earlier than that, cultural animosity toward First Peoples ran higher. Later than that, and the diffusion of oral tradition would be heavier in 21st century society than we see today. Plus, about 1905 much of America was raptly enamored by "indian culture". The heyday of traveling Wild West shows, Buffalo Bill's was only one of many, crisscrossing the country.

I can't find genealogical evidence for why Sen. Warren's story would uncannily match mine and another family's. This does not mean the link does not exist, for a common oral tradition to survive for 250 years. Just means that i could not find it.

Senator Warren can do as she pleases, but for me, the evidence points toward myth stronger than towards romance. So i don't tell people i'm part Cherokee anymore. But if she can shame a million$ for charity out of a nutty narcissist, then that's nothing but a social good.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi yana
I have a problem with the Cherokee requirements for blood relationships
They strike me as being racist - if a baby is brought up in a British household then he/she is brought up as being British
If a baby was brought up in a Cherokee household then they would NOT be Cherokee??

To me all of this is mutable - If you know the language and the culture but do not share an ancestry then you are more part of that culture than somebody who does share the ancestry but does not know the language and culture

yana said...

Duncan thought:

"I have a problem with the Cherokee requirements for blood relationships They strike me as being racist"

The relationship with your own First People, the Maori, is intrinsically different than the relationship in the US, with our First Nations.

"language ... culture ... ancestry"

That's three of the tongues that people speak, continually moderating our tone and content depending on the group we're addressing. Every human speaks at least 5 languages, without even knowing it. A sixth one is being shaped now. Who cares about politics, when a new language will obviously spawn a handful of new religions?

Kinda look on this blog as a WLRS as in the host's book, but folks get so caught up in the combteeth of instant politics sometimes.

Tacitus said...

Seems like a rare bit of consensus. All seem happy to judge Elizabeth Warren on her work but agree that claiming Native American heritage was a bit of, at best, vanity. Or at worst a minor career leg up. Less say than being an Ivy Legacy admit.

As character flaws in our political class go it would be a misdemeanor. She'll continue to get some grief over it.

Donzelion I'd read her papers but honestly it sounds over my head.


Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

A Republican espousing Family Values and the cavorting with other than his/her spouse is hypocrisy. Touting a pro minority platform while gaming the affirmative action system would be as well.

I get that. I just never got the sense that she gamed the system to get ahead of anyone else. My sense of the issue was that the school needed to show some minority participation and put the question at large, "Does anyone on the faculty count as a minority?", and Warren, consistent with her family lore, offered, "Well, I'm part Cherokee", so they ran with that. As someone here previously noted, it was the school who benefited from the silliness more than her.'

Trump's continual refrain of "Pocahantas" is more bad behavior than was the claim that she's part Indian, which seems now to be at least technically true.

Larry Hart said...


Senator Warren can do as she pleases, but for me, the evidence points toward myth stronger than towards romance.

That's a compelling story. It also doesn't indicate that she was lying--just that she had never questioned her family lore. If that's a crime, then billions of people are also complicit for believing in the religious their families taught them.

What if, instead of claiming to be part Cherokee, she had said something like, "By the grace of my Lord Jesus Christ, I am forgiven my sins." Would Benedict Donald demand scientific proof?

Jon S. said...

Alfred, everyone with significant European ancestry is carrying Neanderthal genes. Denisovan genes seem to be more prevalent among those of Asian ancestry. And contrary to what all those ever-so-proud boys want to believe as they march along, the only "pure humans" are those whose ancestors never left Africa nor bred with anyone who had.

Looks like our H. sapiens sapiens ancestors didn't so much defeat or kill off their competition, as assimilated them. And resistance would appear to have been futile. :-)

Darrell E said...

Jon S.,

There probably hasn't been any pure blooded humans for tens of thousands of years, if the concept makes sense at all. If I recall correctly even the most pristine African genomes contain traces of Neanderthal DNA, just significantly less than the 1% - 3% found in most other modern human groups' genomes.

Ahcuah said...

My family had a similar story to Warren's, that we had an ancestor who was Native American. However, no tribal association was ever claimed. I just think this is something that is carried down in family lore as being interesting.

In college I did some geneological research (while working on my doctorate I had free access to the "stacks" at the University of Illinois). I already knew that I had Dutch roots in the founders of Schenectady, and in the stacks I thought I had possibly identified who the ancestor was (which would mean the tribe would be Mohawk, which is about as clichéd as Cherokee--why doesn't anybody ever say a tribe like Quapaw?).

A few years back I used 23andMe and found I had about as much Native American ancestry as Warren (maybe twice as much). So that was interesting and confirming. As far as I can tell, this only took off with Warren because of the way politicians and their handlers look for what they can consider "dirt". In my case, it is simply interesting (because accurate information is always interesting, in my view).

BTW, the only "surprise" was a small bit of Yakut/Japanese. Maybe it's a misidentification. Maybe it's a relic of the invasion of Europe by Genghis Khan (and I have ancestors in southern Europe). I find this equally interesting (though less susceptible to figuring out a puzzle).

donzelion said...

Tim: "Donzelion I'd read her papers but honestly it sounds over my head."
The early stuff might be, because a fair bit of that was recasting bankruptcy research and justifying a long term set of studies of folks few in law cared too much about. Lawyers cared immensely about corporate bankruptcy - clients there paid lawyer fees for 'elite' law school minted lawyers.' Warren was a major player in reconsidering that: turns out that the financial/corporate bankruptcy practices are not the only interesting part of the field, and real family outcomes from bankruptcy have meaningful effects.

By the time UPenn and Harvard were looking at Warren, some of those effects started becoming more obvious and the fruits of painstaking research were becoming clear. But it wasn't until she was at Harvard that she attracted enough money to fund bigger research projects and publish some of the bigger, serious conclusions (e.g., the extent of medical costs driving bankruptcies for families). Up until Warren & her co-researchers, 'ordinary people' were mostly reviewed anecdotally in case studies and shrugged aside - with a vast number of conventions prejudicing the law as applied. Turns out vast efforts have been made to protect the rich during bankruptcy, and minimal efforts to protect the poor, and much of that has to do with the culture of the bankruptcy bar as a whole. The myth of the 'latte a day/big screen tv' driven bankruptcy was circulating - because credit card debt was a massive cause of bankruptcy. But the findings from longitudinal studies showed that sort of 'poor choices' were mostly irrelevant to causing bankruptcy - it's always been medical costs (followed by divorce and criminal charges). As lawyers play a role in each stage of those drivers (tapping insurance companies, driving up divorce costs, and handling criminal defense), those facts once recognized, challenged aspects of how many other fields operate.

Not likely to go over your head at all with a little time. Thing is, most people prefer to shrug that aside and focus on questions of character, rather than focus on work product. Easier for the general public to reduce Bill Clinton to a blow job than to question his EPA priorities, or similar policy matters. But the folks bothered by these policies will make sure the blow job is on everyone's mind - and many otherwise smart people will chomp at that bait.

David Brin said...

"A Republican espousing Family Values and the cavorting with other than his/her spouse is hypocrisy."

We need the dimensionality of how GENERAL this shift has been, with almost the entire Republican Party, including most of its voters, migrating toward reversal - utter reversal - on matters such as:

-extra-marital affairs
-pre-marital sex ... (and a dozen other statistical Red State success stories like STDs and domestic violence)

...and Burden of Proof. We have a president who actually thinks "he denies it" is a valid argument and refutation. Most recently re: the state murder of that journalist.

Darrell E said...

Speaking of how politicians and their handlers look for what they can consider "dirt," anyone else catch the story about a deathbed confession of Lee Atwater that the Gary Hart - Donna Rice affair story that sunk Gary Hart when he was favored to win the 1988 presidential election was a fabricated hit-job orchestrated by him? All the early polls indicated Hart to be a strong favorite so Lee Atwater, chairman of the RNC and Poppy's political consultant for his presidential campaign, assassinated Hart's character by staging an elaborate trap to fuel a fake story about Hart having an affair.

Long past time that the Republican Party be put out of our misery. The miserable bastards haven't been able to win a presidential election since Reagan so instead they've been focusing all their efforts on stealing them.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

..and Burden of Proof. We have a president who actually thinks "he denies it" is a valid argument and refutation. Most recently re: the state murder of that journalist.

It's more complex (in a bad way) than that. "He denies it" constitutes evidence (if not proof) of innocence for those Trump is sucking up to (Saudi Royalty, Putin, white supremacists) or whom he finds useful (Kavanaugh, Roy Moore).

OTOH, for those he's "kicking down" to (The Central Park Five, immigrants, blacks shot by police), not only is a denial insufficient evidence of anything, but so is a not-guilty verdict with a confession by someone else.

Alfred Differ said...

The more I learn, the less I think 'pure blood' is even slightly definable. The best analogy I've seen for us (and life in general) isn't a Tree of Evolution. It is a River with currents going every which way inside malleable river banks.

Not only did we assimilate, we are a river delta. Not a big, wide river, though. Most other species belong to a genus that is much wider and speciation looks a bit like a sandbar partially segmenting the wider current. Our genus overflowed all the sandbars and narrowed as our particular species exploded across the continents. Right at the very end of our river, one might make an argument for races being different parts of the current, but the genetic support for the argument is barely there. Races only partially correlate with mitochondrial and Y-chromosome groupings.

Some of our native groups don't accept this part of science and I'm not inclined to push it on them. If they want to stick to a cultural definition for membership, I'm fine with that. However, they are mistaken (much like the rest of us through history) when they think they can stretch those definitions to support origin stories. It's pretty clear where they came from for North American peoples.

Darrell E said...

Alfred Differ,

Yeah, we are all of us, all organisms, thorough mongrels. We've got genes in our genomes that have been kicking around for hundreds of millions of years largely unchanged. Several orders of magnitude longer than our species has existed. For example, take a regulatory gene involved in limb bud development out of a skate and insert it into mice embryos in place of the allele of that gene the mice were carrying and what happens? Limb development proceeds nearly normally in those mice embryos. And the LCA of these two species is on the order of 350 - 400 million years ago. That's how long genes can last and that's how shared our genomes are. Regarding humans, monkeys are just the tip of the iceberg so to speak.

matthew said...

It's a good thing Trump is so damn dumb. His preemptive "rogue agents" hot take seems to have pissed off Erdogan, who was not-so-quietly waiting for his payoff from the Saudis. And now, drip, drip, the leaks out of Turkey are coming. I predict five days until the transcript off of Khashoggi's Apple Watch is fully released.

Hard to see MBS successfully waiting this one out. Will the King sacrifice his Crown Prince in response? My bet is No, but only just barely.

And, the biggest winner? Iran. Hands down, Iran. The mullahs have got to be laughing themselves sick. Makes the upcoming US/Saudi/Israeli war on Iran much more difficult to arrange.

David Brin said...

Which is why an Iranian war provocation is both not to be expected...and almost certain to "happen."