Sunday, November 25, 2018

What should the House do? Part 1: Veto-proof actions... then aim for a thousand vetoes



Okay so the Democrats got one half of one-third of the U.S. government. Can they actually do anything, opposed by a GOP-controlled Senate and a White House ruled by a vindictive toddler? In fact there are many possibilities -- some of them (see below) likely to shock and surprise, with judo-like effectiveness -- if only someone gave the new House leadership brain-boost pills. 

That snark is only partly deserved. Nancy Pelosi and her team have already crafted a top priority bill for the 116thCongress. “HR1” will push for many of the electoral reforms I’ll discuss below. Mark Pocan (D-Wi) said that HB1 will reestablish voting rights for all, specifically outlawing the interstate cross check system and removing barriers to being able to cast a vote. 

(HR1 for the 115th Congress was the treasonous Tax Bill that stole from our kids, sent debt skyrocketing, raped the middle class and gifted more than half a trillion dollars to top 0.001% elites, who were supposed to spend it all expanding “supply” through investments in R&D and industrial productive capacity. As with all “Supply Side” promises, this one was instantly broken - most of the largesse went to stock buy-backs, a practice that the Greatest Generation wisely made illegal.)

And yes, oh you lefty purists out there, electoral reform and other process issues are more urgent than futile railings about health care or immigration! You will get nowhere with your agendas unless first we eliminate the cosmic levels of cheating that now warp U.S. elections, especially in every Red State. Everyone in our loose, broad coalition-to-save-America agrees on that. So that has to come first.

Oh, but go ahead and announce your priorities! Like...

== A new “Contract With America”? ==

Senator Bernie Sanders, the sage uncle of the Democratic Party’s left wing (and so much like my own Dad that hearing his voice makes me plotz!) has come out for his party to declare a Progressive version of Newt Gingrich’s brilliant 1994 manifesto – the “Contract With America,” laying down in detail what the party and movement will aim to achieve. 

(I called for something similar in both 2006 and 2017. About 1/3 of Newt’s “contract reforms" were, in fact, reasonable! And hence were dropped the instant Gingrich was replaced by Dennis “friend to boys” Hastert. Most of the rest was pro-feudal service to oligarchs. But polemically the Contract was golden.) 

Benie’s list is about 50% things that all decent and modern/sapient citizens would want! The other 50% are rather socialistic and only feasible if we first get our fiscal house in order. Moreover, we must grit our teeth in expectation that Foxheads will shriek “the Commies want to bankrupt us!” How ironic when, in fact, our headlong dive into fiscal insolvency is entirely the GOP’s doing.

Sanders isn’t the only one with an agenda  for the Democratic House. According to the KL Gates (financial industry) Newsletter, Democratic priorities will include: reforms to ease financing of low income housing… "plus a focus on cybersecurity and FinTech, as well as a coordinated effort to stem President Trump’s regulatory relief plans, particularly with respect to the rulemaking and enforcement activities of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.”

Alas, there is a core problem with all of these ambitious aims… that even controlling the U.S. House of representatives, the Democrats cannot actually enact any of these things. Not even one of them, given an obstinately GOP-controlled Senate and a veto-wielding sillyperson in the White House.

So, let’s get practical, hm? 
What can be accomplished just by the House all by itself? 
Actions that it can do alone, that would have direct and immediate effects? 
Or at least score real political points?

== What the House can do, even by itself ==

Number one, of course, is investigations. No longer controlled by oligarchy-shills like California GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, House committees will go on a tear, issuing subpoenas, grilling witnesses and demanding answers. The whole nation is dialed in on this one. My chief concern is protecting the lives and independence of these men and women, who will be endangering everything Vladimir Putin worked for.

That much is obvious. But I'll talk more about subpoenas, soon, with a surprising proposal that would shake Washington to its roots.

Number two, revoke the 2001 War Powers Resolution. To the best of my knowledge, the votes that gave George W. Bush carte blanche, just after the 9/11 attacks, were not bills or "law." The House and Senate separately declared that it was the sense of the majority of the members not to oppose the president applying his powers as Commander in Chief, sending troops into violent action overseas.

This means that each chamber may withdraw its own resolution at any time! The House does not need Senate approval to declare that it is re-asserting the constitutional power of Congress over declarations of war.

It wouldn’t be easy for President Trump to oppose this in the originalist-oriented Supreme Court that he worked hard to create. Here is what James Madison, the central designer of the U.S. Constitution, said about having Congress, not President, make any decision to go to war: 

“War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement. In war, a physical force is to be created; and it is the executive will, which is to direct it. In war, the public treasures are to be unlocked; and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them. In war, the honours and emoluments of office are to be multiplied; and it is the executive patronage under which they are to be enjoyed. It is in war, finally, that laurels are to be gathered; and it is the executive brow they are to encircle. The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast: ambition, avarice, vanity, the honourable or venial love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace.” (Helvidius no. 4) 
So much for "Founders' Intent"!
    
Nor will you likely see much demurral from senior members of the U.S. military officer corps, who are both devoutly constitutionalist and deeply skeptical of being ordered into impulsive quagmires, as happened under both Bushes. (You liberals out there desperately need to revise your stereotypes about the brave and highly intellectual men and women officers who are our bulwark, the third best-educated clade in modern American life. Indeed, their meticulous attention is probably what has -- till now -- prevented a contrived "event" from triggering the Stupidwar-with-Iran that Putin, the Saudis and Rupert Murdoch all fervently want.) 

The House of Representative could do this on the very first day of the 166th Congress. They should do it. They must.

Number three, restore the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment. Newt banished the highly respected OTA for the same reason Donald Trump refused (for the first time in 70 years) to appoint a White House Science Advisor -- because the neutral and non-partisan experts in OTA kept saying "that's not really true" to propaganda assertions pushed by an increasingly insane Republican political caste.  Hence, no action would more clearly demonstrate Democrats' fealty to fact-centered professions - from science to journalism to the Intelligence Community and Officer Corps -- than re-establishing the office. And I believe it can be done without Senate cooperation.

The new OTA should incorporate some of the design parameters I included in my FACT Act, using diversity and competitiveness to neutralize inevitable claims by Fox n' pals that it is a "ministry of truth," or even a biased arm of the Democratic Party. One element: invite every Congress member to appoint a scientist/statistician from his or her home district, to be both a personal aide and a co-supervisor of the new OTA. There are ways to scotch the spew from all the svengalis who thrive on lies. It can begin with OTA.

Number 4, get back to work. The last four Republican-led Congresses drastically reduced the amount of working days, times in session, committee hearings and every other aspect of working for citizens. And that's even including all the frippery-futile Clinton-Benghazi "investigations." 

The ratio of hours spent "fund-raising" or serving special interests vs. actual hours worked has skyrocketed. In fact, since 1997, GOP-run Congresses have been the laziest since before the Great Depression, except when it comes to passing "supply side" tax gifts to the aristocracy.

Democrats can and must make this clear to voters while dramatically changing House rules that allowed such travesty.

(The excuse: "I'm going home to spend time with my constituents" should only work if the representative actually puts in an 8-hour day meeting with folks at home from all parties and walks of life. And ever heard of Skype?)

Now we get to the most original suggestion -- a judo move that the new Democratic Majority in the House could do right away, without interference from the Senate or President, that could shock the nation and zap us partway out of partisan funk. 
But it would take guts and a truly long view.

Number 5, permanently empower individual members and the minority party. 

We all saw how Rep. Devin Nunes toadied to Donald Trump by refusing every request by Democratic members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence to question pertinent witnesses. Way back in the first nine decades of the 20th Century, minority members of committees used to be treated with some respect and chairmen sometimes let them have investigatory powers. But not since Hastert. Not in this century. And sure, the GOP is girding itself to whine and moan - hypocritically - about being treated the same way they treated the dems... 

...unless, DP majority learns to perform political judo! Think! Someday, you'll be in the minority again! In fact, history suggests the DP will have this power only briefly. So, is there a reform Nancy Pelosi and the leadership might institute, that would change all this permanently? I know a way. 

Give each member of the House one subpoena per session, that she or he can impose on anyone, compelling two or more hours of testimony before a chosen committee! And give these member subpoenas priority over those issued by chairmen. 

Yes, this means Republicans would get almost two hundred subpoenas to use across the next two years. That's 400 hours of inconvenience, if they choose to use it that way (spread across many subcommittees). But will they? Or will each member jealously guard her subpoena, hoping to apply it in some way that looks effective to the folks back home? 

(If that's too many to be wieldy? Fine, let any three representatives combine (once) to issue a subpoena -- kind of like quarks. Surely 140 hours of testimony, spread across all the House committees, will be bearable, in order to ensure that the minority will never, ever-again, be prevented from focusing a spotlight where needed.)

Think about how Democrats would have loved to have this during their last 8 years in the wilderness! And how they may need it once again. Think about how this would push back against partisanship, by vesting power back in the members themselves, only some of whom are party attack dogs. Others? Well, encouraging individualism ain't such a bad thing. And setting the precedent means we'd never have congressional committees utterly whitewash, as we saw done by traitors like Nunes.

What's to stop the Republicans from abusing this power as minority party... then ending it when they regain majority? Again think it through:

It will look great that Democrats confidently and fairly ceded this sensible reform to the nation... and it would look bloody horrible if the republicans first USE it and then yank it back when they're in charge.

Would that necessarily stop them? Not by itself. But this is a long game we're in. And making dogmatic-horror partisan shills look bad is gonna be job #1 for the democrats, this term. Get used to that! Live with it. Use it. 

A combination: grant the subpoena privilege only to those House members with good attendance - office hours, committees and floor votes! Two birds, one stone. 


Number 6, draw lots for a DP "flattery squad." It is as distatseful as hell, but hear me out. We have a mentally unbalanced person in the White House, who reacts almost entirely out of reflex and not sapient thought. He must be opposed and neutralized. But for all our sakes, some adults need also to soothe this cranky toddler. I've suggested this elsewhere... and I'll explain in a coda, below.


That's it for things the House can do all alone. (You are welcome to suggest others below, in comments.)  And so, we come to actual proposed legislation. Bills that probably won't get by the Senate and Trump, but are guaranteed - nonetheless - to make them look truly awful


== These bills won't become law? Then draw in those vetoes! ==

We've just discussed actions Democrats in the House can perform without needing cooperation from the GOP-controlled Senate or the kindergarten White House. Next, they should offer up bill after bill, each offering some narrow, distinct and blatantly reasonable step toward sanity. 

Forget giant acts of legislation that will never get past the Senate and that give Foxites ammo, reinforcing confederate will to "resist wild socialism." Try those social engineering things first in California, Oregon and New York, etc. Your job in the 116th is narrower, so focus.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, you should concentrate on very basic justice. Trot out bill after bill that makes so much sense that some GOP senators might have to vote for some, or risk political suicide. And when Trump vetoes them, he will die by a thousand cuts! Here are examples:

- Limit expenditures on Presidential trips and Secret Service to just twice the annual rate spent on President Obama. And family members only get protection at home, not on personal business trips. If Trump squeals over that, follow by asking why?

- Quadruple the charges for use of Air Force One on political ventures.

- Require that presidential meetings with foreign leaders be recorded and include at least one interpreter vetted/approved by the FBI, CIA and the Council for Foreign Affairs. Require that the Secret Service detail include speakers of languages that might be used with the President.

- If a person claims that an IRS audit is in progress, allow the IRS to state publicly whether or not it’s true and whether full disclosure is likely to do harm. Allow the IRS to  narrow the scope of any investigation so that non-pertinent portions of a tax return may be released by the taxpayer without harm.

- Restore the Special Prosecutor Act.

- Make the job of White House Science Advisor one of several that will be filled automatically in a non-partisan way, offering the President a choice of a dozen proposed by the National Academy, and choosing one at random, if he fails to do so. Require two hours a month of face-to-face advising.

- Whistleblower protections! Especially a system to reward “henchmen” who tattle on truly terrible things. 

- Declare that any state enacting Voter ID or registration-limiting rules must appropriate funds to effectively help the poor, minorities, the young and elderly to get the needed ID, to comply with the new restrictions.  Instead of inveighing against voter ID laws in principle – a trap which makes it look as if Democrats want voter fraud, make it about compliance assistance - always demanded by businesses, when they face new regulations. Voter ID states must open more centers to help the poor, instead of maliciously closing DMV offices. It must be adequate to ensure voter participation by any group does not decline, or else that state is in violation of the 14th Amendment. 

- Pass a narrow DACA bill that puts any decent GOP Senator in a moral bind, forcing some of them to go along. But yes, draw that Trumpian veto.

- Transparency in political donations by elites. 

- End gerrymandering in the last few blue states - Illinois and Maryland - then pass an anti-gerrymandering bill in the House and dare vulnerable GOP senators to oppose it. When they do, change "GOP" to "POC" - Party of Cheaters.

- Actually "drain the swamp." Offer up reforms that limit revolving doors and K Street graft etc. Then dare the Senate not to go along.

- My FACT Act... Seriously. There's not one more important thing. Well, I do keep trying.

Each of these proposals is narrowly targeted to seem so fair and obvious that it ought to be non-partisan. Polemically, this was the root power of Gingrich's "Contract." Picture putting Republican senators in a position of opposing such things! And then justifying it.

== The "list" has only just begun! ==

I'll soon offer part 2 of this list of suggestions to the new House of Representatives. Next time we'll dive into pragmatic measures that might reform the Electoral College without an amendment!  Or spread the practice of rank choice voting, which would let those of you purists out there vote for your true love without screwing the nation, as you did in 2000 and 2016. And much more.

Some of you likely recall that I've done this before! And not one of the proposals I made in 2008 got even the slightest leverage, alas. (They are still good suggestions! We'd be better off now, if only...)

Today, I concentrated on things that even just one chamber might accomplish, as we bide our time till the real transformative election -- our Gettysburg in the foresight year, 2020. Meanwhile counting on our skilled officers and civil servants and a myriad decent citizens and allies to keep Western Civilization alive till then, against attacks -- covert and open -- by its enemies.

Till then, dear Congresswoman and Congressman, get used to the fact that the next two years will be frustrating. If your goal is to pass major bills on Health Care or Universal College or other major items on Bernie's "contract," good luck. Go ahead and shift that Overton "Expectations Window."

But meanwhile, today's list offers some highly targeted things that just might have real, pragmatic effects!

We are counting on you not just to be moral and right and decent and genuinely patriotic.  Please also be smart.

-

-


======= Coda re: the "Flattery Squad" ===

I've said it before. A dozen top level Democrats who are electorally safe and who have strong stomachs should announce that they are going to draw lots and/or pick straws. Never tell the press or public what it's for! But within days, two of the dems start making nice toward Donald Trump!

Not in any political way! It can be "I oppose the president's policy regarding "X"... but he is truly one handsome mofo." 

Or "Stop teasing his hair and his kids! Both are really good looking."


Hey, can it hurt? As an experiment? Especially since the whole nation will know what's going on? Fox will yammer about how obvious a ploy it is. Trump may even grin and say: "I know it's a ploy!" But then he'll add "At last a Democrat is saying the truth about me!" 

And he'll invite the flatterer to lunch. He won't be able to help it. A junkie is a junkie and this is his fix.

This would have been a great job for Al Franken, if far-liberals hadn't thoughtlessly and recklessly shot us in the face. Alas.

148 comments:

Robert said...

The problem, Dr. Brin, is that the Republican Party is insane and doesn't care what the people think... and their diehard supporters are blind to the hypocrisy of their party.

So Republicans in minority power would abuse the subpoena power they'd be given... and the instant they get into power again they'd strip it away by declaring it a waste of money and time and "it's in the best interest of the country for this to be eliminated."

Republican voters would nod like bobble-headed car ornaments and not see a single problem with that. Independents would shrug and not see the problem. Democratic voters would say "our leaders were idiots to offer this power to Republicans, we need to get rid of them and put in new people instead" - or at least they'd listen to plants out there who post such bullshit.

Democrats are playing checkers while Republicans are playing tiddlywinks, while cheating at playing their game.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...

Larry Hart:

"Don't cats spread some sort of brain toxin which causes mice to run toward the cat instead of away from it--and incidentally which makes human beings love cats? I'm pretty sure I have that disease. And knowing it's there doesn't change the symptom."

Just a moment. I must feign lameness; voice with tone of annoyance, and borrow the attic cane ... It's already:

The problem is not a toxin. It is a parasite: Toxoplasma gondii. I recommend the use of Pyrimethamine and Sulfonamides, the first acts on the synthesis of folic acid and the second on the synthesis of para-aminobenzoic acid (on tachyzoites, not on cysts).
Of course, you must first undergo medical tests, to check if you have the parasite in your blood and to be prescribed the appropriate dose according to the severity of the problem.
You will heal with the normal dose, but the followers of Donald Trump will need like a kilo of medicine to heal. I think we have found Donad Trump's secret weapon; which undoubtedly was used generously in the water of the cities. Luckily, most Americans have enormous willpower and courageously resisted.

Winter7

Larry Hart said...

@Winter7,

I've postulated for a while now that Donald Trump has powers like The Mule from Asimov's Foundation trilogy. But maybe your explanation that he changes minds via the same method that cats do is more plausible.

As Dave Sim would put it, "Like any good story, it explains a lot."

David Brin said...

Rob H sorry, you don't understand war. The Republican-confederate coalition is barely hanging on via relentless cheating. If we can get just one million marginally sapient neighbors to get mad at the liars... it will collapse.

Yes, I've been saying it for years. And marginally it is happening. We mustn't relent. It is the only way to win.

Anonymous said...

Larry Hart:

If Facebook is part of the powers of "The Mule", then it would be convenient that the democrats speak with Mark Zuckerberg, to convince him to modify Facebook before and during the elections. So that on Facebook only direct communications between relatives and friends are possible, totally blocking any attempt to make a message viral. If the Facebook AIs detect that a message is repeated more than three times, the message should be blocked completely, unless the message is only in the circle of relatives of a person. (Verified family members). This is feasible. I know there are AI programs capable of detecting viral fear and hate messages on the internet. If there is a solution, it would be convenient for that solution to be used. Unless someone from the Republican party has overtaken us.

Winter7

Admin said...

Russia Is Planning To ‘Check’ If Americans Actually Landed On The Moon
Happy Rath Yatra Wishes

yana said...

First thing a new House does is to elect leadership. The second thing it does is to set its schedule. Under recent POC rule, the number of working days has been drastically reduced. Want to regain the trust and confidence of American voters? Get to work. Eliminate the hem/haw of the past 4 Do Nothing Congresses, which created their own excuses for inaction: "We just didn't have time to get to that other stuff."

Because they ensured that there would not be time. Because it's safer politically to do nothing. Remove the excuse, and let the people see who wants to get to work and who complains loudly about being forced to actually do their job. If members of past majorities are sadly unable to break their current leisurely habits, then they will miss debates, votes, and committee sessions.

Want to lean the Libertarians to your side, veer the Tea Party, or just make the reasonable middle nod in agreement? Then make it very clear who wants more vacation days and who wants to get to work.

David Brin said...

Useful Yana. I have spoken of that before but forget this time! Corrected!

AlexK said...

Actually,while I agree the dems in Congress won't truly be able to pass any of the proposed measures in Bernie's contract with the current presidency, putting these motions forwards does actually have a couple of points:
- First, it rallies the voting base and keeps them motivated by giving them a preview of what the democrats could accomplish if they win further elections. This is especially important in view of preparing for the presidential election in two years time. After all, one of the reasons that sorry excuse for a human being became the president of your country is because the democrat party did a very poor job of keeping its base motivated.
- Secondly, it places the other side on the back foot by shifting the Overton Window and forcing the debate on subjects they might want not want to see brought up. For example, back on my side of the Pond, for all his failures on the matter of Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn has managed to place the Conservative Party on the defensive, rhetorically speaking, making them even trying to disavow the austerity they were so happy to push forwards before. (now they just try and do it by stealth)

So if you look strategically for 2020, it makes a lot more sense.

yana said...


Failing to restore the HoR's schedule to the workload before the POC (thanks for that great term) took over in 2011, makes the Speaker-apparent's advanced age once more a topic for minority barbs.

But on the flipside, re-expanding the schedule gives the new majority something to hang over the oppo's heads. You surely know, the oppo will cry like piglets over every tiny thing, but on this one, the majority can simply say "Hey porkpie, look, if an 80-year old lady can do it, what's your excuse?"

Grant limited subpoena power to the minority, good idea for winning the heart/mind of the reasonable middle, but why not tie that power to a good attendance record? Miss 2 floor votes, then whups there goes your writ.

And always remember that the orange guy suffers from a brain cloud. If a new House looks like it has its schnit together, and is churning out commonsense policy that a broad swathe of people support, he will begin to manufacture one distracting crisis after another.

So yeah, reclaiming Article I Section 8 paragraph 11, the Congress's sole power to declare War, should be very high on the to-do list.

David Brin said...

yana's on a roll! I just revised the main article again. Clever linking the subpoena power to good attendance!

Catfish N. Cod said...

0) The Contract with America was the last Republican party platform I supported. The tragedy of Newt Gingrich is that he did not then, nor does he now, realize that his tactical choice to blow up comity and amity led to the failure of his strategic aims. There was no way bomb-throwing was ever going to result in goo-goo reforms.

The problem with a "Contract" is that the left-wing will demand stuffing in the Big Idea programs... things that should only be brought up for 2020 and beyond, with the chance of actually enacting it. Right now the goal is to display sanity.

So instead, a "Bill of Citizens' Rights" would be a better fit IMHO. The right to "know if their President is a crook". The right to have their Voter ID without hindrance. The right to an auditable election! The right to have their voice, not foreign hacking or bribery, in control. The right to choose their representatives, rather than the other way around. The right to evidence-based policy. And so on!

2) How is this going to work, Dr. Brin? Say the House revokes the 2001 AUMF and declares that authorization is rescinded. Individual-1 will say they're crazy; Majority Leader Yurtle will scoff. What power will the Speaker, or the Democratic Party, have to say otherwise?

Two mechanisms I can think of. One is the Senate parliamentarian. Under the 1973 WPR, the Senate cannot indefinitely delay a response to the House; it must respond. The only way to avoid that is to declare the WPR void -- and a test vote on that question is certain to lose even in a 53-47 Senate. A Democratic Senator can continue to demand points of order and parliamentary inquiry until the pro tempore relents... and WPR votes require the yeas and nays. They'll have no choice but to put themselves on record as supporting endless war -- or to rewrite the AUMF.

You allude to the second, which is a lawsuit before the Supreme Court. But for that to work, it must be a legislative-on-executive suit that does not turn on a political question. Before the originalists get a chance to write, the Court must accept the case; and Roberts will be very hesitant, as every CJ-SCOTUS before him, to insert the Court into the war powers. And as long as the question can be characterized as Senate vs. House, the Court will definitely refuse to rule -- they will not speak as to internal workings of Congress.

(Also, I don't want to wait until the 166th Congress! That's a century hence! :P

awbryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Catfish N. Cod said...

3) Won't a House-only OTA have to work for free until the Senate agrees to cough up funds?

4) Doug Jones has a "Donuts with Doug" event each Tuesday morning during sessions, meeting with Alabamians visiting the capital. Staying in touch with your district and being in your district are two different things.

5) An additional benefit of this once-only power is to reveal who is interested in serving their district -- they'll use that free subpoena to investigate something bothering their constituents' interest, like the USDA or BLM (for rural districts) or DOT or HUD (for urban ones). Whereas the pure partisan hacks will use it for the good of the party, not the nation or the district -- wasting it grandstanding about the IRS, or State Department, or the UN, or asking the USAF about UFOs.

The way to make this work is to start a fresh new norm: your free subpoena choice defines who you are. And it is certain to be brought up at the next election. So choose with care....

@Robert: Of course they're insane. The strategy is to show they're insane. We achieved a 13-point shift in white women -- ALL white women, including the working-class women who still support Individual-1 by a fair margin -- in this election, and that's what blew through the cheating and gerrymandering defenses to achieve a House majority, parity in governorships, and recapturing several statehouses. More of that will fell additional statehouses and pad the House majority -- and is very likely to deliver the Presidency as well. (The Senate... more of an open question, but still quite possible.)

27% of this nation can only rule the rest if everything goes perfectly. So the goal is to make sure it doesn't go perfectly.

A.F. Rey said...

One comment on the "Flattery Squad."

I have come to suspect that Trump, like most politicians, but more so for him, wants to please whomever is talking to him. So when talking to Democrats, he will agree to whatever they want. When talking to Republicans, he will agree to whatever they want. It is only afterward, when he has forgotten what he has said, that he will make his final decision. This is why Al Gore, Chuck Schumer, et al., can speak with him and come out saying how good and productive the meetings were, only to find out later that he didn't do any of the things he promised.

So while flattery will work in the short term, I don't think it will last long enough to have a real effect on policy or his attitude toward Democrats. He will quickly forget the flattery and go back to his prejudices and beliefs formed from Fox News. I fear he does not retain the good feelings long enough for flattery to matter.

Of course, this is about flattery and not insults, for which he has the memory of an elephant. :)

Mark Gast said...

If Nancy Pelosi wants to be Speaker of the House she should also be part of the DT BJ committee so she can do penance for being someone that can not let go of power.

matthew said...

BTW, it was not the "far left" that moved quickly to remove Al Franken. It was party leadership. Tom Perez pushed a lot of it.

Your re-writing history to give power to a mythical "far left" does you no justice, sir. The far left has had no political power for many years, a point that you make repeatedly. Changing your tune now is dishonest.

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/12/democrats-al-franken-resignation-senate

I *strongly* urge you, Doc, to rethink your attacks on your allies to the left. I *strongly* urge you to stop with these meaningless appeals to "centrists" that don't exist.

Quit lying to your readers. We are smart enough to catch it and contrary enough to call you out on it.

locumranch said...


The very accusation that the Red States endorse, perpetuate or commit "cosmic levels of cheating that now warp U.S. elections" indicates that a 'new' Contract with America is a virtual impossibility, simply because cheaters & liars are thought (by 'God Bless Us, Everyone') incapable of negotiating in good faith, rendering every subsequent proposition preposterous.

The Democratic Party may control the US House of Representatives come January 2019, but nothing else (besides Democrat whinging) is certain as a Democrat-controlled House lacks the capability to enforce any of its unilateral declarations, actions, investigations, revocations or resolutions upon the greater US Federal Government (POTUS, SCOTUS & the Senate) without the implicit assistance of the venerable Republican opposition, up to & including Nancy Pelosi's 'iffy' confirmation as House Speaker.

And, irony of ironies, the more the Democrat-controlled House whinges & obstructs, the quicker we proceed down the primrose path towards nullification, as President Trump (supported by SCOTUS & the Senate) invokes his legitimate 'War Powers' powers to protect US borders against those accommodating invaders who have 'engaged' beleaguered US military forces as recent as this am, the alternative being 'unthinkable'.

This 'unthinkable' alternative? It's called Civil War, precipitated by a Blue State refusal to enforce or respect existing law, icluding the 'War Powers' Act, as interpreted by a partisan SCOTUS & a hopeless deadlocked Congress.


Best

David Brin said...

matthew, look at exactly your verbiage in your posting. It is bilious, rage-drenched and sanctimoniously incapable of grasping my point. In other words, it is zero-sum, which is the plague of dogmatists.

I have a perfect right to complain about those exact traits. Doing so does not cancel my alliance with the far-left. I want many, many of the same things. It does put them on notice.

We have worked hard to create the Big Tent that can defeat the Oligarchic-mafia putsch. Defeating those enemies of the Enlightenment Experiment is all that matters and anything that reduces the breadth of that tent (all right, no nazis) is counterproductive.

What stunning bull about Franken. Those pushing Franken out were placating a fringe. A fringe that refuses to hold some frekin’ CONFERENCES and actually deliberate the sliding scales we need, in order to adjudicate cases like Franken’s. Sliding scales of TIME, SEVERITY, REPENTANCE, and VICTIMHOOD. And in not one of those categories was Franken so terrible. He should have been allowed to crawl over broken glass and be put back to work.

We banished the one guy with instant wit who could have torched any opponent. Rupert Murdoch could not believe his luck.

David Brin said...

Catfish I utterly agree with points #0 and #1 which are the same (you skipped an integer).

#3 - The Houses usually give each other leeway when it comes to their own budgets, and you’ll likely pick up some GOP Senators when it comes to OTA.

“your free subpoena choice defines who you are.” I love it.

AFR: I agree that flattery must counter short attention span. But it moves the needle. And it establishes a sense that he’s not completely under seige. We do not want the latter.

Mark G: DT BJ Committee? You are a devil, sir.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Dr. Brin: No, the numbers were meant to correspond to your to-do list -- and I had nothing to say to #1 (investigations).

My worry is different than AFR's. It's not the danger of it being ineffective. It's the danger of backlash when he finds that his flatterers still won't bend to his whimsical will. If this happens to people who make flattery their 24/7 job -- and it does -- what good will it do Democratic dabblers in the craft?

That said, keeping him from deciding to go for broke is a worthy goal.

--------------------

whing v. (whings, whinging, whinged)

1. To move with great force or speed.

--------------------

@Larry: If Individual-1 is "The Mule", and the oligarchs are the "Second Foundation", then I say bring on Galaxia.

Larry Hart said...

@Catfish N. Cod,

It might be funny to whisper in Benedict Donald's ear about how The Mule took over the galaxy with his awesome super powers and get Trump himself to start referring to himself as The Mule. Then, and only then, someone at CNN (if not Bill Maher or whatever-happened-to-Keith Olberman) could snicker out loud about why The Mule actually called himself that.

Alfred Differ said...

Anyone notice that one of the Mars images sent back today came from a cubesat?
...and they relayed data during the landing?

In other words, inexpensive devices just did something useful at interplanetary distances.

Get out your pom-poms. Do some cheering for this civilization. 8)

locumranch said...


Displaying an incredible degree of cognitive dissonance, our fine host & his adherents cite the "Big Tent" of Diversity (wherein all are welcome) while simultaneously demanding the defeat & expulsion of all "those enemies of the Enlightenment Experiment" from said Big Tent (wherein only a select few are apparently welcome).

"Begone Diversity," they exclaim in no uncertain terms as they (1) expel those deniers who would dare disparage official narrative, (2) replace those regressive resisters who would resist replacement, (3) reject those patriarchal males who would empower women, and (4) purge those Christian Whites who would (and did) create & sustain the Big Tent of the Enlightenment.

It's insanity.

Who will protect you once you've cast out your protectors??


Best
___

whinge (verb)
1. complain persistently and in a peevish or irritating way.
(3rd person present: whinges; past tense: whinged; past participle: whinged; gerund or present participle: whingeing; gerund or present participle: whinging)

whinge (noun)
1. an act of complaining.

____

Break out your pom-poms, as Alfred says, to celebrate the Mars images and the great interplanetary accomplishments of Wernher von Braun & other Nazis.

Alfred Differ said...

I imagine you are a blast at parties when you break out your pom-pom and piss on the host's living room rug.

Anonymous said...

Locumranch's moving loyalty to Donald Trump is an indication that we should try to understand the powerful link between Republicans and Donald Trump.
But to achieve understanding. It is necessary to carry out experiments.
We have all heard of Schrödinger's cat. I propose a similar experiment: The locumranch box.
Imagine a hypothetical box formed by a cube with walls of five by five meters. In that box; We put locumranch and Donald Trump with enough water and food for one person to survive precariously for a month. Then we close the box and wait a month. Who will live out of the box? Donald Trump? Locumranch? ... Will locumranch be sacrificed so that his beloved leader can survive?
Of course, we can not open the box, because the laws of quantum physics indicate that, if we try to observe, the experiment will have a different result than what would have happened. In other words, we would have to leave the box closed and wait for an automatic system to open the box. (after one month and four more days, to be sure that the experiment works correctly)
My theory is that Donald Trump would be the only one who would come out of the box alive.
We could repeat the experiment with all the republicans and the result would always be the same: Donald Trump would come out alive from the box; the fanatical republican follower would have died from the first day.

They are the laws of physics.

A) An object released at a certain height will fall.
B) An object shot horizontally, will continue advancing, until the gravity and the friction of the air knock it down.
C) Donald Trump will never sacrifice himself for another living being.

Winter7

locumranch said...


I prefer to think of it in terms of taking the piss-out-of rather than pissing on, lol.

As in the case of the vast contributions made to the space program by the Nazi scientists of Operation Paperclip, the presence or absence of a priori moral goodness has little or nothing to do with the achievement of a posteriori moral greatness, despite the PC progressive fallacy that only the good can become great while the bad can never be.

As in the case of those execrable low-EQ human beings who make excellent surgeons.

As in the case of Henry Kissinger who said that ‘A country that demands moral perfection in its foreign policy will achieve neither perfection nor security.’

And, thus, even selfish & morally objectionable sociopaths like the Trumpenfuhrer may achieve greatness & a nobility of purpose if & when their evil is redirected against another kind of evil which deserves our worst instead of our best.


Best

Anonymous said...

What has been said: Donald Trump has the total and absolutely innocent loyalty of useful naive republicans. (Obviously I modified a well-known phrase for consideration of future armistices between Republicans and Democrats).
It's funny how those who are used by Donald, feel that Donald is not going to betray them. I've seen that in the sects. An unreflective loyalty; full of sacrifice and love. I have also seen how charismatic leaders always end up destroying the future and lives of those who live for them.

Winter7

“Neither the fanatics nor the faint-hearted are needed. And our duty as a Party is not to our Party alone, but to the nation, and, indeed, to all mankind. Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power but the preservation of peace and freedom.

So let us not be petty when our cause is so great. Let us not quarrel amongst ourselves when our Nation's future is at stake.

Let us stand together with renewed confidence in our cause -- united in our heritage of the past and our hopes for the future -- and determined that this land we love shall lead all mankind into new frontiers of peace and abundance.”

John F. Kennedy

David Brin said...

I am learning the art of wasting no more than 2 seconds on quick skims. Since locum refuses ever to grapple with a single one of our requests... e.g. for fact adjudication. Or wagers. It all boils down to a frantic-scared person who sees a frantic-scared face in the mirror, filled with hate and will-to-do-harm... and assumes that other people think that way.

No, we don't. None of your paranoid fantasies about our motives, goals or activities is remotely related to the real world. The way you would treat us, if you had power, is NOT how we'll treat you, when we prevent your intended holocaust.

Anonymous said...

Russia opens fire on Ukrainian gunboats. Three Ukrainian ships were captured by the Russians.

Winter7

Tim Wolter said...

After the mid terms most people are a bit less wired for politics. Overall that is probably a good thing.

Looking over the list I actually like about half of them. And of the rest most are benign enough. I assume subsequent postings will address matters of more substance. In order and abbreviated:

1. Investigations. Sure. We've become at once jaded and polarized so of the folks paying close attention many will dismiss investigations by the "other" side as partisan witch hunts. Admit it, you've collectively been dismissive of looking into matters that agitate your conservative fellow citizens. But if nothing else everyone investigating everyone else should serve to keep all concerned a little honest. Maybe. Don't prejudge the outcome of the investigations though...
2. Revoking War Powers Resolution. Yep. I'm on board. Make Congress declare war when it is necessary to do so.
3. OTA. I'm in favor of an office or individual tasked with giving high quality scientific advice. It has to be more than a climate change pulpit though. Think big here.
4. and 5. More work, less fund raising and a meaningful role for the minority party other than grandstanding. Yep. I actually hope that putting the D into some positions of power might temper what I regarded as recent desperate excesses. Powerless people know few limits. And on the flip side, people with a modicum of power might be careful not to screw up and lose it.
6. Flattering Trump. A tough assignment. The current D party is not kind to heretics.

Hey, I guess I actually like or can tolerate all of these.

Now, come up with a plausible plan to mitigate the tax cut nonsense. Honest projections of where we will be in 5, 10, 20 years. How will we pay for things and what things get priority. If tax increases, how much and for whom. If spending increases, same question. If benefit cuts, well, you get the idea. Incorporate the political realities as they exist or as you can change them. Craft a plan for the current robust economy. Craft another for the inevitable economic downturn, because they are just that, inevitable.

T.Wolter/Tacitus

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

Flattering Trump. A tough assignment. The current D party is not kind to heretics.


Then it's a good thing the Republican party is.

Homer Simpson: "In case you couldn't tell, I was being sarcastic."


Admit it, you've collectively been dismissive of looking into matters that agitate your conservative fellow citizens.


I'm not sure what specifics you have in mind.

Hillary's e-mails and Benghazi? They've been investigated to death, and not even Trey Gowdy could come up with anything that stuck. I believe the lawyers, or at least lawyers on tv, would say, "Asked and answered." It it a failing for liberals to groan at them being investigated again?

Pizzagate and its like? The correct response to such accusations is to refuse to give them the dignity of a reaction. That does not imply that conservatives are similarly justified in brushing off accusations against Trump involving things that he's doing in plain sight. Reality is not symmetrical here--it has a liberal bias. There is no liberal equivalent of Pizzagate.

I do credit you with enough integrity to have something more substantive in mind that conservatives want investigated and liberals fear to tread there, but I can't immediately think of such examples.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

draw lots for a DP "flattery squad."


In this, I agree with some others here that it's a bad idea.

With Donald Trump, flattery is not a means to an end, but an end in itself, in a manner similar to the way Orwell's 1984 described power being an end in itself. If we lived in Orwell's Oceania, I would not expect that "draw lots for willing volunteers to be torture victims" would be a winning strategy. Likewise a Trump flattery squad. Giving the sociopaths what they want doesn't make them more pliable.

Tim Wolter said...

Larry

Pizzagate and such are way out in tinfoil land. Benghazi was garden variety incompetence in both the initial event and in the following spin. Neither is worth any more energy.

The interaction between H.Clinton Sec of State and the financial doings of the Clinton Foundation(s) are complicated and fair game, and I understand are still being looked at. With that amount of money and power on the line it would take very deft administration to keep everything out of "pay to play" status. Given the demonstrated incompetence of some of those around her (Carlos Danger and that elderly Podesta fellow who got scammed for his emails) I don't know if they stayed clean.

I am still very skeptical of the whole situation with Fusion GPS, the DNC, the FBI and the various interactions betwixt them. There is still a lot of redacted stuff out there and the questions of exactly how this all unfolded remain opaque. But if you, to make my previous point, start with the assumption that Trump is a scoundrel of the worst sort and therefore must be guilty, then little details like Nellie Ohr working on the Trump Dossier while her hubby is high up in the Justice Dept, or McCabe's role while his wife runs for office significantly funded by a Clinton ally are of no consequence.

Regards the D vs R treatment of heretics, look at the poor fellow who said something positive about Winston Churchill recently! Would a person of conservative leanings be forced to apologize for saying something nice about Gandhi?

Anyway, not trying to stir anything up. Life is too busy and in all ways more worthwhile than political excoriations.

TW/Tacitus

Larry Hart said...

Paul Krugman tells us what we already know (bolded emphasis is my own)...

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/26/opinion/climate-change-denial-republican.html

...

If important players opposed climate action out of good-faith disagreement with the science, that would be a shame but not a sin, calling for better efforts at persuasion. As it is, however, climate denial is rooted in greed, opportunism, and ego. And opposing action for those reasons is a sin.

Indeed, it’s depravity, on a scale that makes cancer denial seem trivial. Smoking kills people, and tobacco companies that tried to confuse the public about that reality were being evil. But climate change isn’t just killing people; it may well kill civilization. Trying to confuse the public about that is evil on a whole different level. Don’t some of these people have children?

And let’s be clear: While Donald Trump is a prime example of the depravity of climate denial, this is an issue on which his whole party went over to the dark side years ago. Republicans don’t just have bad ideas; at this point, they are, necessarily, bad people.

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

I am still very skeptical of the whole situation with Fusion GPS, the DNC, the FBI and the various interactions betwixt them. There is still a lot of redacted stuff out there and the questions of exactly how this all unfolded remain opaque.


Fair enough. It's worth looking into whether the opposition research on Trump skewed its results, or if it actually found bad things that he did. To that, I point out that the fact that the research was done with an eye toward discrediting Trump was not a partisan issue. "Both sides did it" in the sense that the Democrats continued what Trump's Republican primary opponents began once they became his opponent. I'll also point out that just because someone wants to find guilt doesn't mean the facts don't back them up. Every criminal prosecution in the country is conducted by someone "biased against criminals."


Regards the D vs R treatment of heretics, look at the poor fellow who said something positive about Winston Churchill recently! Would a person of conservative leanings be forced to apologize for saying something nice about Gandhi?


I don't know if I'm being too much like Treebeard here, but I don't follow the daily kerfluffles that take place on social media, and thus I'm not all that concerned about the incessant shaming attacks on Twitter and such. It seems to me that that's just part of the landscape--you say something and critics will immediately start crucifying you. I heard briefly about that guy with the Churchill thing, and my only thought was, "The secret is not minding." If he suffered any actual career/financial harm for his comments, maybe you have more of a point. To malign a Batman quote that probably means nothing to anyone but me and my old buddy Chris, "I don't keep track of these things. Someone has to."

To make my long answer short, I don't equate shrill critics on social media with any sort of liberal zeitgeist or power structure. Such critics don't represent me. Feel free to point out the ways in which they do, but until you convince me, I'm not convinced.

And in a comparison between parties and their various inevitable reactions on social media, I'll see your liberal shaming and raise you right-wing death threats.

Larry Hart said...

@Tim Wolter,

Coincidentally, this article I'm reading at this minute might explain the gap between what you and I perceive about shrill liberals. For the record, I'm not quite 60, but can see it approaching on the horizon.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/26/opinion/millennial-activists-generation-gap.html

When I meet someone who runs an organization in a blue state, I often ask: Do you have a generation gap where you work? The answer — whether the person leads a college, a nonprofit, a tech company, an entertainment company or a publication — is generally the same: Yes, and it’s massive.

The managers at these places, who are generally 35 and above, are liberals. They vote Democratic and cheer on all the proper causes of the left. But some of the people under 35 are not liberals, but rather are militant progressives. The older people in the organization often have nicknames for the younger set: the Resistance, Al Jazeera, the revolutionaries. The young militants are the ones who stage the protests if someone does something deemed wrong.

If a company fires an employee for writing an inappropriate memo or uttering an inappropriate phrase, it’s usually because there’s been a youth revolt. If a speaker is disinvited from a festival or from campus, it’s often because of a youth revolt. If a writer is fired for a tweet, or an editor has to resign from a literary review because of an unacceptable article, it’s often because of a youth revolt.

...

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Winter7: And the Ukrainian President, behind in the polls, declares a limited martial law. Not that this helps Putin much; both the incumbent and the leader (Tymoshenko) are fiercely anti-Russian -- in fact Tymoshenko is more Europhilic than Poroshenko.

This is more of Putin's slowburn approach to reconquering Ukraine; inch by inch, slow enough to keep Europe dozing. He reads history, and knows Hitler moved too fast; also, he only has so much in the way of hard-power resources. However, Europe is also rearming, and his tactical victory of installing a manipulable coward in the White House has an expiration date. I don't know what his go-for-broke point is, but I know he has one.

@Tim: I'm very skeptical that you can find anything prosecutable in the Clinton Foundation affairs. I'm also very skeptical that anything untoward actually happened; however, I would totally believe that *innocence* isn't provable either. The Clintons have a long track record of keeping their own hands out of mudpies but working with people who track mud in. Then their enemies cry: "See? Mud!" and you can't say they're wrong.

Which is why I will toast the day when their influence on the Democratic Party is no longer relevant. It's time for a new generation.

As for your doubts of how L'affaire Russe came to be: one of the things that should be looked at, when we have faith in our Republic's investigation and reform abilities again, should be the operations of law enforcement with regard to campaigns and sitting politicians. That said, I do not "start" with the "assumption" Trump is a scoundrel. I simply note that the evidence in favor of such is far in advance of the evidence of any counter-conspiracy against him -- and was well before I had ever heard of Fusion GPS, or Nellie Ohr, or any of that bunch. The bizarre series of national security and foreign policy actions and personnel selections made by Individual-1 and his campaign in early 2016 is enough for me to call for investigations regardless of anything else.

I have sympathy for your concerns, but if we don't want to make more of a mess, we'll have to untangle the knots as we can have leverage over them.

And yes, Churchill was a great man for his place and time, and contributed mightily to having a better world. He also had many flaws, and had a worldview and associated opinions we have grown beyond. We need to teach more thoroughly that you don't have to be a pure demigod to be a great person, and that all humans have flaws. An apology for mentioning Churchill is not merited. An apology for taking up a retrograde Churchillian position might be merited. There's a difference. And I say that having no idea what specific incident you are referring to.

You are not obligated to respond to hecklers merely by their act of heckling; a lesson Alexander Hamilton never learned.

Larry Hart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

Which is why I will toast the day when their [the Clintons'] influence on the Democratic Party is no longer relevant. It's time for a new generation.


Aren't we there yet?

Larry Hart said...

@Catfish N. Cod,

I get the point of your referring to "Individual-1" so as not to give Benedict Donald more notoriety than necessary.

However, I put it to you that for that particular guy, even including the number 1 in his nym might be too gratifying. He'd probably just appropriate "Individual-1" for himself as if it's a compliment. You might try individual-616* instead.

(* That's another Marvel Comics inside joke that I don't expect anyone here to get)

Larry Hart said...

A businessman-president was a good idea, why? ...

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Nov27.html#item-2

When Donald Trump signed the GOP tax bill and later started a trade war with China, he promised Americans that these actions would create jobs. Not all companies got the memo, apparently, as General Motors announced yesterday that it is closing plants in America and Canada and will lay off 14,000 workers. That wasn't in the script.

Donald Trump was not happy that GM's CEO, Mary Barra, was undercutting his plan to bring more jobs to America. He did help out though, by giving her some friendly advice: "They say the Chevy Cruze is not selling well. I say well, then, get a car that is selling well and put it back in." If Barra hadn't thought about focusing on cars that are selling well and dropping those that are not, now she knows what to do. Oh, wait. The plant closures Barra announced were the ones that made the cars that weren't selling well, including the Cruze, the Volt, and the Impala. So much for a businessman-president.

Part of the problem is the tariff on imported steel that Trump levied earlier this year. He did it to help the workers in the companies that make steel, but forgot completely about the much larger number of companies that use steel, like GM. Now that decision is coming back to bite him.
...

Larry Hart said...

Yay! Sanity from a Democrat on impeachment. Bolded emphasis is my own:

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2018/Senate/Maps/Nov27.html#item-4

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) warned the Democrats that impeaching Donald Trump was not a done deal, saying: "You don't want half the country to say to the other half for the next 30 years, 'We won the election. You stole it from us.'" He didn't take impeachment off the table, but said that for an impeachment to be legitimate, it would have to pass a three-part test:

1. The offense must be grave

2. The evidence must be so clear that Republicans also agree impeachment is warranted

3. The offense has to be so severe that it is worth putting the country through the trauma of an impeachment

However, he noted that it is entirely possible that special counsel Robert Mueller will deliver a report of an extremely grave offense and proof that Trump was guilty of it. He also noted that not all crimes are impeachable offenses and not all reasons for impeachment are technically felonies.

Catfish N. Cod said...

A problem for the one-subpoena proposal: A number of other supposedly goo-goo reforms are being pushed at Pelosi by a oligarchy front. Her Nibs is not amused.

Larry Hart said...

@Catfish N. Cod,

That Pelosi link isn't working. It seems to think the address is a subfolder of blogger.com.

This should work instead:
https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/11/nancy-pelosi-no-labels-problem-solvers-house-speaker.html

David Brin said...


Tim strawmans! “Admit it, you've collectively been dismissive of looking into matters that agitate your conservative fellow citizens.”

I will admit absolutely no such hallucinatory-rationalizing thing, Tim.
25 years and half a BILLION dollars of our money were spent “investigating” so-called Clintonian Crimes. The Kochs and Fox offered whistleblower rewards in the tens of millions! Every tool of the federal government, including the IRS were focused by GW Bush for 8 years and then 8 years of recent Congresses.

Every pore and orifice and assistant and luggae handler was probed. And the Party of Cheaters found nothing. Nada. Zip.
Every last “Fusion GPS” and Clinton Foundation” “smoke” you sniff at is (1) microscopically trivial vs even one day of corruption via Trump Ic., Trump foundation, Goldman Sachs owning whole govt departments… ONE day that you can choose at random! (not weekends).

(2) All probed thoroughly by factoums deeply eager to find something indictable. Like the GOP friendly FBI office in NY who forced Comey to make the announcement that saddled us tith Trump. They… tried! All you’ve got is a few wisps.

“everyone investigating everyone else should serve to keep all concerned a little honest.”

?????????? You jest, of course. Surely. Not one Clinton-Obama “investigation” that should have exonerated (by finding nothing) ever cleared their names from the hysteria media. And no trail of Republican-Russian-NRA money laundering and lies and treasons will ever be credited as decisively pertinent by fellows like you. No tsunami of moral turpitude. No capture by KGB agents, casino moguls and mafiosi.

“OTA. I'm in favor of an office or individual tasked with giving high quality scientific advice. It has to be more than a climate change pulpit though. Think big here.”

Would you help design a fact-checking service that can say “that’s not true” - backed by mountains of evidence, and NOT be immediately dismissed as “partisan?” I tried hard in my FACT ACT, emplacing competitive systems supervised by the most renowned and reputable conservative and liberal sages in America. This has been offered! The ones refusing are always…. always… from the Party of Cheaters (POC.)

Again, who ended the Rebuttal Rule on media? It was not the “lamestream” journalists.” You know who desperately does not want their audience exposed to factual rebuttal.

“The current D party is not kind to heretics.”

Simple, unadulterated manure. A concocted feel-good incantation. Yes, there are anecdotal examples that infuriate me… Al Franken. And the rad-left rules countless university campuses, pouring hate on Science Fiction. I can count anecdotes too. But it is mostly a lie.

“Craft another for the inevitable economic downturn, because they are just that, inevitable.”

It’s called True Keynsianism, as practiced by Jerry Brown in California and the last 4 years of B Clinton. Pay down debt in good times. Show me one Republican….

Robert said...

I think I understand Tacitus's view here.

You are not a bad person because you voted Republican or voted Trump.

Everyone makes mistakes. You don't need to explain your mistake. You don't need to rationalize it. Because Democrats made some big mistakes - they decided to go for Hillary Clinton for President rather than avoiding aristocratic families - and this is a problem the Republicans did as well by electing George W. Bush... and even John Quincy Adams for a couple centuries back in American history.

Electing political families doesn't tend to work out. Instead, we need fresh blood. We need to avoid the temptation of monarchy in its varied forms - even elected monarchs.

Here is the thing about mistakes though: you don't need to explain or apologize for mistakes [b]but you still need to learn from them[/b]. And the Republican Party is currently a huge goddamn mistake. By clinging blindly to it, you are enabling people who don't have the best interests of Americans at heart. Instead, they seek to enable a cabal of the wealthy to have all the money, all the property, all the power.

We need to repudiate this. Because if we don't... eventually it'll be too late. And that time limit is coming sooner, not later.

Rob H.

Tim Wolter said...

David, you are a sly, sly dog! I thought your latest was just another boilerplate screed complete with CAPS and !!!!. But I underestimated your writing skill. Please forgive me.

After dismissing concerns that I, several of the other posters here, and a good sized chunk of your fellow citizens think of as being potentially significant - the suborning of our justice system* - you toss out as accepted fact that there is ".. Republican-Russian-NRA money laundering and lies and treasons"

A Hyperbolic Conspiracy response to conspiracy concerns.

David, you were attempting humor! (!!!) And I was too dense to get it the first time around!

Seriously though, it highlights the dangers of an climate of Inquisition. Things get pretty fermented pretty quickly.

Cheers!!!

Tacitus!!!

* a corrupt justice system is the equivalent of an autoimmune disorder in medicine. Damned hard to diagnose...

David Brin said...

Bah, when evidence fails, fall back on criticising the meta. My failures and immaturities of style, rather than a single fact or assertion I made.

Well, one.

you toss out as accepted fact that there is ".. Republican-Russian-NRA money laundering and lies and treasons"

Okay,, it's not proven yet, because the day before we were to learn about the tsunamis of Russian cash said to be pouring into the NRA, Trump (amazing coincidence) sealed it all for national security reasons. One more day when any one GOP-POC action was more glaring than the entire, tiredly hackneyed "Fusion" and Clinton Foundation sniffs of smoke.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

Because Democrats made some big mistakes - they decided to go for Hillary Clinton for President rather than avoiding aristocratic families - and this is a problem the Republicans did as well by electing George W. Bush...


One difference--and this isn't my original thought, but I can't recall who I got it from. Electing a husband and then a wife is not a dynasty. Not in the same sense that a father and then a son is. Because once you've gone through the husband and the wife, you're done. It's not quite the same situation as handing the position down through multiple (and potentially endless) generations.


and even John Quincy Adams for a couple centuries back in American history.


Heh. But I'm not sure you can blame that one on the party of Lincoln.

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

After dismissing concerns that I, several of the other posters here, and a good sized chunk of your fellow citizens think of as being potentially significant - the suborning of our justice system* -


Pointing out which party is actually doing that before our very eyes is not dismissing the concern. In fact, the opposite thing.


you toss out as accepted fact that there is ".. Republican-Russian-NRA money laundering and lies and treasons"


I hold those truths to be self-evident.

matthew said...

I'll be interested in seeing what mental contortions our resident conservatives make to excuse the head of Trump's campaign meeting with the head of Wikipedia multiple times. "But Hillary met with Assange and WAS HIS SECRET LOVER!" or some such BS.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/nov/27/manafort-held-secret-talks-with-assange-in-ecuadorian-embassy


Mueller appears to have run a rope-a-dope on Trump by knowing Manafort was lying to the FBI as a cooperating witness, waiting for Trump to put the same lies in his written responses, and then charging Manafort with breaking the cooperation agreement. Means that Mueller can use the proceedings against Manafort to air the charges against Trump publicly without Matt Whittier at the DoJ tamping down on his final report. Since Trump and Manafort's defenses are working together, Trump is legally *assumed* to be party and cannot make so much as a motion to stop the reveal.

At least that's what i *think* is going on...

David Brin said...

"avoiding aristocratic families "

You'll recall my desperate effort to find a guerilla theater troupe to perform the REAGAN-BUS, REAGAN-BUSH, BUSH CLINTON, CLINTON, BUSH, BUSH, CLINTON?

My intent was to mock aristocracies. No good would come of it. Call the predictions registry.

Tim, as pals, let's have a handshake bet... loser emails a Dominos coupon... that the smoking guns for Mueller will not be "collusion" with skilled KGB spymasters... very hard to catch... but rather money laundering. Acres.. hectares... cubic parsecs of money laundering.

David Smelser said...

"Individual-1" is a reference to the unnamed conspirator named in Michael Cohen's plea deal. The specific quote is "In or about January 2017, COHEN left the Company and began holding himself out as the 'personal attorney' to Individual-1, who at that point had become the President of the United States."

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/08/michael-cohen-pleads-guilty-could-trump-be-mysterious-individual-1-in-court-docs.html

Catfish N. Cod said...

David Smelser has the right of it. Unlike other appellations, Individual-1 is a legal and non-arbitrary designation. And the enthusiasm of I-1 or any of his followers may he substantially diminished once they learn it translates from Legalese as Conspirator Not Yet Charged #1.

Larry, thanks. Matthew: interesting theory!

Larry Hart said...

David Smelser:

"Individual-1" is a reference to the unnamed conspirator named in Michael Cohen's plea deal


Ah, yes. I knew that at one time.

Might as well call him "David Dennison" then. :)

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

You'll recall my desperate effort to find a guerilla theater troupe to perform the REAGAN-BUS[H], REAGAN-BUSH, BUSH CLINTON, CLINTON, BUSH, BUSH, CLINTON?


I can't prove this now, but I'm pretty sure I was the one who gave you that idea back in the day...minus the initial "REAGAN-BUSH" add-ons. With Bill Clinton sandwiched between two Bushes, and Hillary champing at the bit to run next, I was already snarking that the parties should change their names to the Bush Party and the Clinton Party and be done with it. It wasn't hard to imagine Jeb running after Hillary, and by then, Chelsea and the Bush twins would be available to carry on.

But again, the important factor there is that the dynasty spans generations. W was already an example of that. Hillary was not. Unless Chelsea really looked to take up the family business (as it were), the Clinton political line would have ended with Bill and Hillary. Not so the Bushes (or now the Trumps).

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

the smoking guns for Mueller will not be "collusion" with skilled KGB spymasters... very hard to catch... but rather money laundering. Acres.. hectares... cubic parsecs of money laundering.


No one who isn't already anti-Trump will have their minds changed by charges of mere financial improprieties of the type that they'd presume all the "big boys" play. That sort of charge would be perceived as a witch hunt by Trump's political enemies rather than a reason to turn against him. In fact, if Mueller brings only different charges, Trump will keep going, "See, no collusion!" until the end of time.

The important thing to prove--even if it isn't the prosecutable crime itself--is that Benedict Donald was open to blackmail to use his office corruptly on behalf of Russia and Saudi Arabia because of his financial indiscretions. Some of those MAGAts still love America enough to choke a bit on credible evidence of treason.

locumranch said...


Larry_H says that "Republicans don’t just have bad ideas; at this point, they are, necessarily, bad people", and I don't necessarily disagree with this, except to point out the 'badness' in no way disqualifies anyone for a leadership position, as numerous scientific studies correlate 'leadership qualities' with dishonesty, pragmatism & some degree of sociopathy.

The Left imagines that the ideal leader as a combination of Dudley Do-Right, Gandhi & Lovey the Care Bear, but it deludes itself into thinking that leadership requires high levels of empathy, truth-telling, morality & wisdom when nothing is farther from the truth.

(1) A leader must make difficult decisions that impose hardship, death & suffering upon others. We call people who do this sociopaths.

(2) A leader must convince competing individuals & groups with conflicting interests that he (or she) favours incompatible goals. We call people who do this liars.

(3) A leader must be willing to abandon personal ideals & morals in order to arrive at a workable compromise. People who possess this kind of 'moral flexibility' are often called immoral (pragmatic).

It follow that bad people (sociopaths, liars & the morally flexible) make good leaders while good people (truth-tellers, humanitarians & highly principled) make bad leaders.


Best

matthew said...

Anyone that doesn't think Chelsea Clinton will run for office has never seen her Twitter feed. I suspect 2020 for a safe House district but it may be 2024.

locumranch said...


Why Deception Is Probably the Single Most Important Leadership Skill

http://fortune.com/2016/06/02/lying-leadership-skills-expectations-communication/

matthew said...

It's happening.

Trump just got named in the leaked Corsi docs. And in the Times over Manafort's lawyers talking to Trump.

matthew said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/27/us/politics/manafort-lawyer-trump-cooperation.html

Tim Wolter said...

David

Hard to have a bet when we are in substantial agreement. I don't think any evidence of KGB backing will turn up, albeit not because Boris Badanoff is so clever, but more because I think the whole thing is probably nonsense.

And I have no doubt that the finances of Donald Trump are very irregular. Money laundering? I dunno. Very effective tax lawyers? Oh, yeh. Trump's financial world is so far from mine that I doubt I would even understand his tax return if someone "threw it over the transom" to use a phrase that dates me.

He's a skunk. We agree on that.

TW/Tacitus

David Brin said...

"He's a skunk. We agree on that."

Yes, Tim. But you ignore what that has meant, across history. Skunks are spectacularly easy to lure, entrap and them blackmail. Geez, you'rw telling me the KGB/Putin would not have gone for the obvious?

As for "irregular" finances. Crikey, any one day he outdoes the Clintons' entire lives, yet you raise that as equivalence? (Not one Clintonite even indicted for malfeasance, despite 25 years of supreme efforts.)

But it's not "regular" irregularity I am talking about, but direct, wholesale tsunami scale laundering for Arab and Russian mafiosi. Bets?

As for poor locum, my 2 second scan saw the Dudley do-right... and yes, that level of goody-goody primness applied to Obama, down to his soles, and soul. But Franklin Roosevelt? LBJ? Both of them were spectacularly effective at both knife-fighting and improving things for all Americans, making us stronger and better and more powerful and stymieing every enemy.

And Eisenhower was a 2018 Democrat. All you got is imbeciles who weakened us at every stage.

Alfred Differ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alfred Differ said...

Tim Wolter,

a corrupt justice system is the equivalent of an autoimmune disorder in medicine. Damned hard to diagnose...

Yah, but sometimes you guys get it exactly right. I've alive today because my GP gave up trying to diagnose me and sent me to the ER with special notes she sent ahead of me. They came at my problem from the start by rejecting the things she already knew hadn't worked. "Antibiotics for fluid in the lungs assuming infection? Didn't work and now he's worse." My GP admitted weeks later she thought I was dying and needed fresh eyes and ideas for me. Turns out I had Wegener's disorder and was three months into it already. My kidney doctor later admitted my odds on the day I arrived at the ER had been about 50/50. 8)

What folks around you are warning you about is coming from a set of eyes and ideas that are not immediately associated with ones you hold dear. WE see a VERY serious problem. Many of us see many serious problems and a lot of damage being done. You don't have to like how we are inclined to diagnose this patient, but you should be asking yourself if your view is helping.

After being admitted to the hospital and then poked and prodded and starved some more, I don't remember much until one day I woke up with my wife on one side of the bed and three doctors all wearing those lab coats that said they were from 'Internal Medicine.' My first thought was... well... this can't be good. The lung specialist looked excited, though, and explained that he actually thought he knew what it was. They were all there to sell me on more poking, prodding, and starving for more tests. I was happy enough that someone had a guess to try, so I agreed. I even remember a little bit of them putting that camera up my nose and down my throat.

Your friends here are suggesting they know the underlying problems. I encourage you to consider the possibility that they do, but not because they are super smart or especially aware of the secrets of the universe. It might just be that they aren't starting life from the set of assumptions you have. What they propose might be less pleasant than sitting still for a kidney biopsy, but at this point their ideas might do you more good than harm.

David Brin said...

Alfred, wow, whjat a story and apropos illustrative allegory. And Post-of-the-day.

David Brin said...

Seriously, any member of the Greatest Generation, who effectively conquered the world? FDR, Ike, JFK, LBJ... powerfully potent... if yes, liberal. The GGs adored them.

Then, because of Ike's biggest life mistake, Nixon was the heir apparent at just the time when the trauma of Vietnam guaranteed a Republican, and we began our slide. But even Nixon as a matter of POLICY was a super liberal, by today's standards!

Anonymous said...

Dr. Karoline Wiesner, from the University of Bristol's school of mathematics, tries to explain the stumbling blocks of democracy using the theory of complex systems. A brilliant exhibition, but ... It is almost impossible to calculate how many chickens; I have eggs and foxes in my henhouse, if I do not know that there are foxes in the henhouse. An equation with missing values can not give perfect results. And in politics; foxes are those that modify 90% of the results, in a usually stealthy and often invisible way for those of innocent soul.
Link:

https://phys.org/news/2018-11-complex-democracy-destabilised.html

Winter7

(By the sadistic gods of Cobol ... I think I'm about to catch a migraine. It's time for a chamomile tea)


Anonymous said...

Hooooo! ¡That diabolical google translator!......

I wanted to say:"It's almost impossible to calculate how many chickens, eggs and foxes exist in my henhouse, if I do not know that there are foxes in the henhouse. An equation with missing values can not give perfect results."

Oh... ¿wouldn't it be great if I *was* crazy? Then the world would be okay. 8)

Winter7

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Larry: But I-1 self-applies “Dennison”, as well as “John Barron” and “John Miller”. He didn’t make, and can’t control, “Individual-1”.

And I’ll place a Domino’s bet myself. While the money laundering will be the trail used to get to the foreign influence, I predict it will be dealing with the Saudis or other Mideast nations, not with Putin directly, that will be the successful ostrich oeverture.

Why? Because unlike Putin, who has all the tricks and personnel of the KGB and its spinoffs at his command, the Middle East is less good at the long-distance, long-term supersneakiness. (They’re quite good at knife-fight range, but overspecialized.) The Saudis in particular are terrible; assuming that money is the solution to all problems, they tend to be sloppy, or leave key details to undertrained minions. Putin would never have such poor message control on an assassination.

It matters what *kind* of sociopath a leader is. One with merely a mild mania but an intact moral compass can be a tremendously successful leader, aiming for the greatest good and untroubled by the eggs cracked in the process of omelet-making. On the other hand, one with dependent, narcissistic, and paranoid elements can be crippling.

Leaders may not be neurotypical but that doesn’t mean they’re all the same.... which does lead to the question of analyzing leadership along psychological lines, as the ancients did but with a more systematic approach. Can we better define the sets of mental traits that make for the types of leadership desirable in our Republic?

Tim Wolter said...

Alfred

I'm going to be totally serious this time around. I tweak our Esteemed Host occasionally when he gets a bit too dogmatic. He appears to appreciate it so long as it it infrequent.

Wegener's is a rare bird. I was Back in The Day a pretty good diagnostician and saw one or two cases of this. BTW it was first described by a lowly med student and had the unfortunate, if then correct, moniker of Lethal Midline Granulomatosis. Wegener was a pathologist who organized the data on this better and had it named for him. And then un-named when details of his Nazi era participation in unethical research came to light...

Tough sleddin'. I better understand your occasionally pugnacious attitude and tip my cap in your general direction.

I've been a family doctor. Later I was an ER doc, and the ER is where everything the medical system screwed up comes to get "fixed". So I see both sides of the diagnostic quagmire. Commonly I'd be faced with patients who insisted they needed an antibiotic and were very unhappy when any other course of action was suggested. Oh the crazy things I have diagnosed when people were insistent that it HAS to be Lyme disease. (and less commonly but germane to the the immune system issue, the times when crazy stuff that looked non infections actually WAS Lyme or something akin to it).

You really must approach diagnosis with an open mind. A little humility helps because nobody really is Dr. House level smart every damned time.

Regards the political world I do try. How many folks of a conservative bent keep coming here for years on end to read and ponder? Sure the people who show up with print outs of WebMD articles and an unshakable fixed idea of what is wrong with them are usually wrong....but not always. And sure, the things you see at the entry level of the medical system are almost always boring and common. It's not a good plan in general to go chasing the rare birds the first time you lay eyes on a (non critically ill) patient. But Back in the Day I did net a few. I remember my first week out of residency looking at a kid with a rash and figuring out he had Tuberous Sclerosis.

But I was younger and smarter then.....

Or maybe I was just younger.

Tim Wolter/Tacitus

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred Differ and @Tim Wolter,

Alfred, I'm glad your story has a (so far) happy ending. Scary stuff.

Your conversation hits way close to home, especially Tim's mention of Lyme disease and antibiotics. You may recall that my wife was deathly ill a few years back with some undiagnosable malady. We suspected Lyme or some other-but-similar tick-borne infection, but it didn't pass any of the tests for...well, for anything. She saw many different specialists, including a neurologist and an infectious disease specialist, and each one gave us the "good news" that there was nothing in their realm of expertise that was wrong with her as she continued to suffer more pain and get weaker.

Thank goodness we live in a major metropolitan area with many immigrant physicians who bring diverse points of view to their treatment philosophies. After seven months of this, she found a doctor in Chicago proper who was willing to treat to the symptoms--if it walks like a tick-borne illness, let's treat it like one and see what happens--who was able to get her functional again. I don't think she'll ever be 100% "cured" because whatever is inside of her seems to have taken up residence in the central nervous system, but with whatever regular treatments she's getting, she's alive and functional and only has occasional bad days instead of bad months.


But I was younger and smarter then.....

Or maybe I was just younger.


Reminds me of a lyric from a song by "They May Be Giants" :

But I was young and foolish then.
I feel old and foolish now.

Larry Hart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

While the money laundering will be the trail used to get to the foreign influence, I predict it will be dealing with the Saudis or other Mideast nations, not with Putin directly, that will be the successful ostrich oeverture.

Why? Because unlike Putin, who has all the tricks and personnel of the KGB and its spinoffs at his command, the Middle East is less good at the long-distance, long-term supersneakiness. (They’re quite good at knife-fight range, but overspecialized.) The Saudis in particular are terrible; assuming that money is the solution to all problems, they tend to be sloppy, or leave key details to undertrained minions. Putin would never have such poor message control on an assassination.


I think you're right. Today's right-wingers seem infatuated with Putin, but much as they love petro-dollars, they really hate Arabs. Trump as Putin's puppet is probably a feature not a bug to them, but his sucking up to Arabs for personal gain might just stick in their craw.

As to nyms for Trump, I've been on the bandwagon for such as Twitler and Cheetolini. My current favorite--crediting Norman Goldman--is Benedict Donald. But I won't try to talk you out of Individual-1 if that does it for you. As Dave Sim is fond of saying, "You to your religion, and me to mine."

Or as Batman once put it, "'To each, his own,' the woman said as she kissed her cow."

Larry Hart said...

This guy from the American Enterprise Institute reminds me of locumranch. He correctly states the problem--judges should be as apolitical as possible rather than acting as "Obama judges" or "Trump judges"--but every detailed example he gives is diametrically opposed to reality. In fact, every line I've bolded below is either the opposite of truth or an assertion that Republicans don't do what he disdains Democrats for.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-judges-obama-trump-supreme-court-roberts-20181128-story.html

...

Roberts is correct that we should not have “Trump judges” or “Obama judges.” It would be better for the country if every judge, regardless of which president nominated him or her, strictly interpreted our laws and the Constitution. But the reality is that not all do. While — follow our laws as written — liberal presidents tend to nominate judicial activists who legislate from the bench and shape the law to reach their preferred outcomes. The left believes in a “living Constitution,” which can be interpreted to mean whatever they want it to mean without being formally amended.

Democratic presidents have been much more successful than Republicans in nominating judges who hew to their judicial philosophy. Over the past three decades, nearly half of all Republican Supreme Court nominees have either become “swing votes” (Sandra Day O’Connor, Kennedy) or defected to the court’s liberal bloc entirely (David Souter). Even Roberts has joined the court’s liberal bloc at key times, abandoning his judicial philosophy that judges should not legislate from the bench to provide the swing vote to uphold Obamacare. By contrast, not one liberal justice during the past three decades has defected to the conservative bloc or turned into a regular swing vote.

What is true of the Supreme Court applies even more to the appellate courts. Trump is right: the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit is a disgrace. This is the court that ruled that the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional, that the Second Amendment doesn’t recognize an individual right to bear concealed arms and that bans on assisted suicide are unconstitutional.

...


The phrase "under God" is Unconstitutional. The Second Amendment doesn't recognize the individual right to bear concealed arms. And by the way, though he doesn't mention it, "all persons" does not mean either eligible voters, registered voters, or white Christians. Attempts by right-wing judges to find otherwise are no more originalist or textualist than anything the Warren court decided.

And the fact that right-wing appointees tend to skew more toward the center while no liberal appointees become more conservative--he thinks that shows how biased liberals are, whereas I contend it demonstrated the opposite thing, that only biased partisans can hew to the right-wing line. It shows that reality has a liberal bias, and while liberals cite that as a defense of liberalism, right-wingers view it as a condemnation of reality.

locumranch said...

"Seriously, any member of the Greatest Generation, who effectively conquered the world? FDR, Ike, JFK, LBJ... powerfully potent... if yes, liberal[DB]".

As demonstrated above, the term "effective" has become a common euphemism for "great" and "greatness", but let's not forget that Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler & many of history's great villains have also been extremely "effective".

Indeed, "effectiveness" seems to be a common characteristic shared by many sociopaths -- possibly because they don't allow pesky rules & legalisms to stand in the way of their desires -- in much the same way that the application of 'good' & 'bad' (in relation to sociopathy) appears to be a matter of moral relativism & subjective preference.

Because of a self-admitted "liberal" bias, David terms FDR 'good' but Mussolini 'bad' despite their near identical sociopolitical policies which included (but were not limited to) Nationalism, Deficit Spending, Militarism, Socialism, Racism & Anti-Semitism.

Likewise, Larry_H self-identifies as a godless moral relativist with a liberal bias when he declares that (1) the 'phrase "under God" is Unconstitutional', (2) the 'Second Amendment doesn't recognize the individual right to bear concealed arms', and (3) the reality (of which he approves) has a 'liberal bias'.

It's all bias & blather, this moral relativism of theirs, as scientific observation reveals that 'Life, the Universe and Everything' doesn't give a shit about their personal preferences, prejudices or biases, nor does it give a shit about yours & mine.

Larry_H is technically correct**, btw, when he says that the 'Second Amendment doesn't recognize the individual right to bear concealed arms'. This is true, in much the same way that the First Amendment doesn't specifically protect audible Free Speech. But, knowing this, what do we know?

Absolutely nothing, as Larry_H is fond of saying.


Best
_____

**Technically Correct is "The Best Kind of Correct", according to yet another know-nothing & head bureaucrat from Futurama.

Darrell E said...

You're doing it wrong.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/28/opinion/trump-the-monster-who-feeds-on-fear.html

The other strategy is the one thing that Mr. Trump appears to fear most, for it is the one thing that all his riches and power have apparently never brought him. And that thing is a sense of humor.


This jibes with a WWII-era George Orwell essay I remember reading in which he asserted that only in authoritarian regimes is the goosestep possible--that if (say) the British Army were to try it, they'd be laughed off the streets of London. I was reminded of that essay a few months ago watching video of the North Korean army making themselves look ridiculous in public.


In J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” stories, one of the most terrible creatures our young heroes can face is the boggart — a creature that feeds on fear. A boggart takes the form of whatever it is you fear the most. Harry sees a wraithlike creature called a Dementor; Ron Weasley sees a giant spider; Neville Longbottom sees the cruel and mysterious Professor Snape.

These apparitions are not dispelled through violence, or cruelty, or by building a giant wall. In the genius of Ms. Rowling’s imagination, they are vanquished with a charm called “Riddikulus,” which turns the boggart into an object of derision. In the wake of this charm, Ron’s spider winds up on roller skates; Neville’s Snape finds itself in his grandmother’s pajamas.

It’s no coincidence that this president is famous for having no sense of humor. It is comedy, above all, that peels the masks off liars and reveals the truth — the virtue that Roosevelt deemed most necessary to convert retreat into advance.

Want to conquer fear? Tell better jokes — and not the easy kind, salted with cruelty and malice, but the more complex, generous and fundamentally American variety, as pioneered by Mark Twain, or Richard Pryor, or Lily Tomlin.

Let the rule of law, the power of truth and the subversion of humor vanquish this boggart for good. In so doing we shall assert our firm belief: The only thing we have to fear is Trump himself.

David Brin said...

Not even worth skimming Bizarro.

In contrast, Tim/Tacitus... who ever asked you to be "infrequent"? I don't recall asking that from you, ever.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

I think he's infrequent because he gets fed up with the rest of us.

Darrell E said...

He may have meant specifically "tweaking" Dr. Brin, not merely making comments here.

A.F. Rey said...

A piece of good news: Max Boot, conservative columnist, admits that he was wrong, that climate change is real, and that "It is a tragedy for the entire planet that the United States’ governing party is impervious to science and reason."

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/i-was-wrong-on-climate-change-why-cant-other-conservatives-admit-it-too/2018/11/26/11d2b778-f1a1-11e8-bc79-68604ed88993_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.23a867012003

There is some hope.

Larry Hart said...

@A.F. Rey,

That sounds a bit like Glenn Beck going, "Too bad so many viewers believed what I told them. Too bad they caused so much trouble." I mean, one reason the Republican Party is impervious to science and reason is because of the echo chamber that he's been a willing part of.

Ok, it's nice that he's getting out of the way, but the "If only the troublemakers were as observant as I am" bit sounds disingenuous to my ear. Like he's trying to claim credit for wanting to solve a problem he helped create in the first place.

Alfred Differ said...

Time Wolter,

I got to learn a lot from that event. I always knew intellectually that you all learn a statistical ‘game’ and collect evidence to weed out possibilities. Starting from likely options HAD to be the way to do it even if we did all our online research and brought in the scariest, unlikeliest options. In hindsight, I can see exactly what my GP was doing. The IM doctors explained later that if I had showed up a week earlier, I might not have been expressing enough symptoms. No evidence… different diagnosis. A week later and they had a better chance. Turns out I arrived right in a sweet spot. Lots of visible symptoms, no actual infection.

No one is Dr. House. Can’t be done, but collectively you all come close. It’s amazing and inspiring for those of us who manage to survive. It’s still fairly amazing when you guys get it right, but don’t have a viable therapy. My sister’s scleroderma is slow and they slowed it as much as they could, but at least we understand. We know where to donate for research too.

The point I’m trying to make is this same collective technique applies in politics and governance. No one is Dr. House. It is easy to miss a piece of evidence. It is easier not to know all the possibilities that might apply. Collectively, though, we are damn good at seeing what can be seen and knowing our options. This time it might be a few annoying progressives who understand the issue and how to grapple it. What they propose might sound toxic, but it might be better than doing nothing. Next time it might be a few social conservatives who understand the issue while liberals and progressives howl at a proposal for sticking to an old social tradition.

We don’t have to know who is actually right. Can’t be done anyway until after the patient has improved or is dead. What we can do is try to recognize when our ideas aren’t working so we can step back and let someone else have a go at it. Stepping back isn’t surrender, it only feels like it.

At one appointment with my kidney doctor I informed him I had read up on what cyclophosphamide did, how it worked, and how it was metabolized. I could see him struggle to maintain composure. He was clearly worried that I was another self-diagnosing patient. It took me a few minutes to explain it was so he didn’t have to avoid using big words and then more appointments to convince him, but I did. The chemo-drug wasn’t his focus area, of course, but the cocktail of stuff I was on for secondary risks had to be watched for kidney implications. That mattered, so I learned.

What you’ve got here on our host’s blog is a collection of rather well educated people. I’ve occasionally made poor assumptions about what they know and been slapped for it, so I know. The extra eyes and ideas they bring aren’t like those of a self-diagnosing patient who has read just enough stuff online to scare themselves silly. Individually, some of them come close at times, but collectively they don’t. Fortunately, politics isn’t as complicated and doesn’t require as much training as medicine, so we CAN have more people involved in producing collected perspectives and suggestions. They might not know how high doses of Prednisone just kill you slower than the inflammation being targeted, but they just might correctly spot a con artist and his crimes. They might recognize a toady for what he is. They might stumble and prefer trapping them and setting fire to the building instead of surgically removing them, but these are things that can be moderated by compromise.

[I do occasionally remember the formal name for what I had, but Wegener’s name is the one that sticks in memory. Just mention his name in a group and the people who know the disorder first hand or had a close relative suffer it turn white as a sheet. Some of them know the much older name for it that described the patient’s breath. None of them would wish it on the evilest person in the world, whoever that is.]

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | I’m a little over five years past the diagnosis date and doing pretty good. I don’t think my later colon cancer can be counted as a side effect, but maybe my more pronounced deafness can. Who knows? I don’t much care at this point because I’m alive and in good spirits. You might notice I don’t use full colons in my punctuation anymore. That’s my attempt at day to day humor to remind me it is good to be alive. [When I went in for surgery, I left a note on my cubicle at work. It was " : -> ; ".

There is a reason Hope is on the list of modern Virtues.
People how have it keep the rest of us alive through hard times. 8)

It was my auto-immune disorder battle that taught me I’m shockingly conservative. I had two therapy options. One was ugly, but tested. The second was new, believed to be good, had FDA approval, but didn’t have a long track record. I opted for the ugly one and survived it. Wouldn’t need to do that if diagnosed today because the new method has a better, proven track record now. In a pinch, though, I chose the conservative path. I never would have thought I would until I did. 8)

Nowadays, when we discuss what 'illegitimate' means and the dangers of using the term, I can actually hear the conservatism in my voice. Couldn't do that before.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I left a note on my cubicle at work. It was " : -> ; ".


The fact that it also makes a sort-of-smiley emoticon adds to the effect, but I'm not sure if that makes people stop looking for the other meaning or adds a bit of synchronicity to the situation.


It was my auto-immune disorder battle that taught me I’m shockingly conservative. I had two therapy options. One was ugly, but tested. The second was new, believed to be good, had FDA approval, but didn’t have a long track record. I opted for the ugly one and survived it. Wouldn’t need to do that if diagnosed today because the new method has a better, proven track record now. In a pinch, though, I chose the conservative path. I never would have thought I would until I did. 8)


I have no problems with conservatives who are cautious about change. I do have a problem when, even after the new thing has a proven track record, still dismiss it as newfangled lib'rul notions. At some point, "conservative" lapses into "fossilized".

Alfred Differ said...

The left believes in a “living Constitution,” which can be interpreted to mean whatever they want it to mean without being formally amended.

Well... yah. That’s because one of the Framer’s said so. The Constitution is short and ‘unfinished’ because there was no way for them to anticipate what future generations would need or how they would need to change what was once the correct way to do things. We are supposed to re-interpret sections willy-nilly, but we are SUPPOSED to adapt as the generations go by WITHOUT having to amend it. The obvious example is in Amendment #8. What constitutes cruel and unusual punishment then and now are rather different.

It’s possible to go overboard and change interpretations too much of two fast. It’s also possible to remain too rigid and treat the Constitution as if it was a Sacred Document. We risk that every time we capitalize the word ‘constitution’. The best argument for having a mixed Court is to avoid both errors, but that only works if they all talk to each other and persuade.

There is also the simple fact that enough generations have gone by for the Court to LEARN from their errors. Dread Scott v Sandford? Plessy v Ferguson? Korematsu v United States? My favorite, though, is Lemon v Kurtzman where the Court had to nail down some of its attempts to correct from the realization that passive support of entanglement between Church and State was sufficient to lead to de facto entanglement. From Everson v Board of Education (1947) to the present, we’ve had to face up to how passive support of religion IS enough to dismantle separation and the Court learned from history. The Lemon Test and later examples show in detail how The Constitution cannot be treated as Sacred. As with the Bible, our understanding shifts with the generations, but nothing in the Constitution says we have to accept it as God Given. We get into all sorts of trouble by failing to recognize that as WE change, WE learn, and WE improve ourselves.

The point to make against willy-nilly re-interpretation is simple. Don’t change anything unless you’ve learned something. Think you have? Persuade us.

The point to make against treating past documents as sacred is simple. Read what the Framer’s said. It’s incredibly obvious they didn’t want us doing that.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Nowadays, when we discuss what 'illegitimate' means and the dangers of using the term, I can actually hear the conservatism in my voice. Couldn't do that before.


As of today, we've learned that Paul Manafort pretended to cooperate with the Mueller investigation in order to function as a spy, passing information about the investigation back to Trump. With that, Manafort forfeited his plea deal and should spend the rest of his life in prison.

The only explanation for this behavior that makes sense is that he's expecting to be pardoned.

If a sitting occupant of the White House actually promises and issues pardons for someone whose crime is obstructing an investigation into the crimes of that same official, I'd say he had lapsed from merely illegitimacy into cartoon supervillainy. And surely those conservatives who pride themselves on "originalism" would have to admit that we're talking about flavors nature never intended, as it were.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | not sure if that makes people stop looking for the other meaning

For people who weren't up on what was going on, they didn't catch on. They didn't even see the note usually. That was okay with me since I learned most co-workers don't really want to know all the dark details. No one likes contemplating that stuff.

For people who were up on events, I intended it as a double edged statement. The smiley was for showing I was upbeat. Some of them got the second piece, though, and groaned the way people do at puns. THEY could see I was upbeat and inclined to use a bit of dark humor. They saw me do that earlier when I used to wonder aloud which relative of mine had given me the genetic flaws necessary for the auto-immune disorder to work. I'd grumble about wanting to go piss on their grave, pause, and then wink. Obviously... if they had not passed on those genetics, I wouldn't be here. After a dark smile, I got to tell them that it probably had nothing to do with genetics. Immune systems respond to live environments. They learn the darnedest things and go after them vigorously. In my case, I might have been exposed to something while cleaning up after my crazy cat lady mother. The timing was awful suspicious. I'll never know, though, and I accept that.

Humor, hope, and some humility help get us through. You already know that I'm sure. 8)

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

The left believes in a “living Constitution,” which can be interpreted to mean whatever they want it to mean without being formally amended.

Well... yah. That’s because one of the Framer’s said so. ...


All that is true, but that wasn't even my point. I was taking issue with the columnist's claim that "the left" interprets the constitution broadly, but that conservative judges simply hew to the letter of the law. I can smash that argument with yet another example I didn't mention before--the supreme court carving out sections of the Voting Rights Act--an actual law passed by congress and signed by a president--because the court declared that the rationale for the law was outdated.

First of all, the voter suppression measures which immediately went into place proved them wrong. But that's not even the point. The point is that the Republican judges substituted their judgement for that of the duly elected legislators whose constitutional job it is to actually make law. This is precisely what the right accuses "the left" of doing, while willfully ignoring the beam in their own eye. It would be no different from a Democrat declaring that because a well-trained militia is no longer necessary to the maintenance of a free state, the Second Amendment is null and void.

His thesis seemed to be "Thank God for conservative judges" because they follow the law and liberal judges ignore it. I think it's more accurate to say that conservative judges believe that people exist to serve the economy whereas liberal judges believe that the economy exists to serve people. All of their rulings will be informed by those beliefs. And if the judiciary becomes a means of suppressing democracy in service to the rich and powerful, then we're going to have to party like it's 1789.

I'm sorry--what were we talking about? :)

Alfred Differ said...

Manafort appears to be quite a bastard. So does Trump.
I'm all for locking both of them up, but I want a trial and all the rules to be followed.
I seriously want a trial AND the rules. I want us to prove the system is stronger than a pea-brained fascist.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I'm all for locking both of them up, but I want a trial and all the rules to be followed.


Well, the rules allow for a pardon of Manafort, possibly for a self-pardon for Benedict Donald, and certainly for a pardon from a sufficiently-loyal VP finding himself in the big chair.

I think the most we can hope for in Trump's case is that his brand is ruined--that once he no longer has power worth sucking up to, no one will have any reason to pay him or his deplorable family any more money.


Humor, hope, and some humility help get us through. You already know that I'm sure. 8)


I've been a Chicago Cubs fan since 1969. I knew that stuff before you did. :)

I'm kidding on the square. I really was a frustrated young male who thought that nothing ever went my way. Yet I lived long enough to find I'm enjoying life in my 50s more than I ever did at younger ages. After years as an incel (way before that was a term), I've been married to the woman I adore for 22 years. Our daughter is more of a blessing than I ever expected children to be as an abstract concept. After decades of the only thing worse than having a job was not having a job, I've finally got one I enjoy driving to every morning with co-workers I'm comfortable being social with for the first time ever. So yeah, things can get better.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Re - your constitution

The first bit - the MOST IMPORTANT BIT - the "Preamble"
Is too often ignored

IMHO EVERY time you go to interpret a part of your constitution you should look at it through the eyes of it's "Purpose Statement

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

ALL interpretation of the constitution should bear this in mind

Order to
form a more perfect Union,
establish Justice,
insure domestic Tranquility,
provide for the common defence,
promote the general Welfare,
and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

Those are the PRIMARY and all important parts

But that is NOT NOT NOT how the constitution is interpreted

Alfred Differ said...

I suspect those conservative judges that stuck down parts of the Voting Rights Act would argue that the original pieces were unconstitutional, but tolerated because of the times. The Court doesn't feel those times apply anymore, so they are correcting an error. I'm not sure, though, because I haven't actually read the majority opinion on the case.

They ARE entitled to strike down laws duly enacted and not be called 'activists.' Doesn't matter which side they take as long as they are a) using original wording, later precedents, or useful case law or b) learning from past mistakes. WE can argue that carving out parts of the VRA was a bad idea, but I'd much rather we used a power reserved to The People and get uppity about it. The VRA wasn't just civil rights legislation. It also dealt with a social situation that was heading for violence in the streets. People were getting uppity. Time to consider that option again since our franchise is fundamental to our freedom.

I'm not actually opposing you, though. I'm offering an extra argument I think conservatives should be able to hear and interpret accurately. Instead of the one we aim at locumranch when he looks in the mirror and thinks he understands us, we should have a number of arguments in our holster.

Alfred Differ said...

There is also the not-so-small thing that it is The People ordaining the Constitution.

How sacred can it be, hmm? 8)

Alfred Differ said...

The rules do NOT allow for a self-pardon.
A pardon with criminal intent can be challenged. That power is not absolute.
If Pence is stupid enough to pardon Trump, let him, but I really wouldn't mind if the trial occurred AFTER the 2020 election. We could sell it as our apology to the world.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:


The rules do NOT allow for a self-pardon.
A pardon with criminal intent can be challenged. That power is not absolute.


He can't pardon his way out of impeachment, but other than that, it does look pretty darned absolute, including (at least not excluding) self-pardon. To wit:

he [the president] shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.


And I don't see how a pardon could be challenged after the fact. It would be double-jeapordy.


but I really wouldn't mind if the trial occurred AFTER the 2020 election.


If he can pardon himself, he'll do so pre-emptively on his way out the door.

Larry Hart said...

I'd even go so far as to say that "except in cases of impeachment" implies that he can self-pardon for anything other than impeachment. Since a pardon in a case of impeachment would be a self-pardon, why carve out a separate exception? Why not just say, "except he can't pardon himself" which would contain the impeachment case within it.

The phrase seems to me to be an "exception that proves the rule" in the British legal sense--the fact that an exception to a rule is stated proves that there is a rule, even if the rule itself is never stated. In Caddyshack, the sign which says that counselors are allowed to use the pool between 1:00 and 1:15 proves that they are not allowed to use it otherwise. In our present case, the fact that a president is specifically forbidden from pardoning himself for an impeachment proves (at least implies) that he can do so in the general case.

Robert said...

Larry, you are forgetting something.

Impeachment can be brought up against people who are not the President. Representatives, Senators, even Judges (going up to and including Supreme Court Justices) can be impeached.

The President cannot pardon the impeachment of, say, whatshisname on the Supreme Court, and the head of the Supreme Court made noises about wanting to get him kicked off the bench. Representatives have been impeached before. If they are Impeached, the President is not able to just Pardon them and ensure they remain in office.

Finally, the general consensus even among quite a few Republicans is that the President cannot self-pardon.

BTW, I have a simple sniff test for Conservatives.

If you would scream bloody murder because Barack Obama or Bill Clinton (or Hillary Clinton) did something but don't have any fucks to give because Donald Trump and his cohorts do the same things (sometimes the same EXACT thing) then you don't actually have the nation's best interests at heart and are a fascist at heart.

Rob H.

Anonymous said...


Alfred Differ:

Just a moment. I must go again for the cane that a relative left here. Now I must feign lameness again ... That's it.
Mr. Differ... You mention that your sister has an autoimmune disease. I'm sorry to hear that. But not everything is bad in that situation. I have reason to believe that an altered immune system could increase the defenses against cancer. But I understand that the important thing is to look for some alternatives.
As I told you before; I have taken metformin because I found out that it produces neurogenesis, and I have an obsession with neurogenesis. Whatever. It happens that metformin does not only serve to cause neurogenesis and block the metabolization of sugar. I learned that metformin is being used as a treatment against lupus, which is an autoimmune disorder.
Link:

https://www.healthline.com/health-news/scientists-cure-lupus-in-mice-021115#1

Of course, as almost everyone knows, inflammation is the main problem with autoimmune disorders. Hence, I recommend the use of chamomile tea.
And giving an unexpected twist to the subject, I suppose you will remember the method used by the cobras tamers in India. Those tamers, usually inject small doses of cobra venom, which then gradually increase, until they get a great tolerance to the poison of cobras. They do that to avoid death when they are bitten by cobras who are not in the mood to play with humans. In a similar way, some scientists discovered that it is possible to improve the health of patients with autoimmune disorders. When certain proteins are detected by the silly T-cells and these unleash the immune response, thereby causing inflammation ... In this unusual treatment, the proteins that irritate the sleeper T cells, are administered in doses that are gradually increased, until finally , the allergic reaction is deactivated.
I must warn you that it is an experimental treatment, and, therefore, it will be necessary to be careful. It may be necessary to experiment with some "volunteers" first.
Link:

https://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/scientists-discover-effective-strategy-switch-autoimmunity/


All right. It is time to sleep.

Winter7

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | In your darkest brooding over the damage he is doing, I think you are overstating what more damage he can do.

You watch. The authority to pardon will not be recognized when it is used for criminal intent. Ford's pardon of Nixon was mostly about ending things, though some DID wonder about a quid pro quo, thus a criminal possibility. Nixon himself did not try what you are suggesting is possible, even though he had a similarly large pile of evidence against him.

There was a ray of hope for you today and I encourage you to ponder it. Look at the Senate vote tally on the Yemen issue. What's the ratio?

In his fear he is lashing out. He is doing the very thing that has to happen if an impeachment is ever going to work.

Alfred Differ said...

@winter7,

My sister is even more of a fighter than I am, so hope is not gone. She's tried a lot of things, though, including stuff that doctors would consider for lupus. She bought time that way for the doctors to keep up the research. What she has tried either doesn't work or is real nasty when it slows things down. She even tried the stuff I was on. I think she drew the line at infecting herself with a parasite to give her immune system something else to do, but I'm not real certain of that. Some people ARE trying that.

We walk a fine line between our immune systems killing us and our repair systems growing out of control. It's amazing any of this works at all. Experiments are necessary, but most of the time they do nothing or they do a bit of harm. The effort to learn involves hard work... and a lot of money.

This is life, though. There is no graceful way for it to end, but there are a number of ways to do our best to face it. One of those involves keeping up hope because the researchers really ARE hard at work on this one.

yana said...


Still, the only job of the next House is to make Americans think that Dems are the only party with ideas which they're willing to act upon.

Six and a half years, Tea Partiers and Libertarians were strung along. The Repubs promised up and down that they had a repeal/replace plan for medicals, all rar'ing to go if we ever just gave 'em a chance.

Wow, what a stunning lie, now so perfectly exploded in every facet. "Who knew?" yep that's the crystal of a tale of deceit, easy to follow the plot, but telling the story over and over won't make the American middle squirm.

Sad that 'pre-existings' was the most cohesive argument the Dems could make, after the deficit is up 18% and trade war jitters are starting to ramp up inflation. Dems could win the fringe right and the middle too, in one swoop, with a deeper plan to make a more perfect union.

A trio of Ammendments, which surely won't pass but hell to pay in 2020 for any Rightwhiteguy opposing them:

1. Next fiscal year's outlays may not exceed previous year's revenue unless War is declared.

2. Limit Sens to 3 terms, Representatives to 9 terms.

3. Only a citizen with the right to vote can make political donations, thus the "personhood" of a corporation does not convey that particular right of free speech.

Opposing these, simply because they come out of the left aisle, would be political suicide for even the rightest Reps of the reddest districts. Not sure if it was Sun Tsu or Machiavelli, but somebody said that if your opponent has a fetish for something, then let him have his fill.

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

Larry, you are forgetting something.

Impeachment can be brought up against people who are not the President. Representatives, Senators, even Judges (going up to and including Supreme Court Justices) can be impeached.


You're right; I've been thinking of "impeachment" as something that happens to a president. And the text of the constitutional wording is clearly meant to cover all impeachments, not just presidential ones.

Good catch.


Finally, the general consensus even among quite a few Republicans is that the President cannot self-pardon.


I'd like to see that norm followed, but "can't" seems to be wishful thinking. What would stop him? Where in the laws does it say that he can't?

Given the fact that norms are no constraint on this #SoCalledPresident, I don't see what would prevent him from issuing such a pardon, or what mechanism would prevent it from taking effect.


BTW, I have a simple sniff test for Conservatives.

If you would scream bloody murder because Barack Obama or Bill Clinton (or Hillary Clinton) did something but don't have any fucks to give because Donald Trump and his cohorts do the same things (sometimes the same EXACT thing) then you don't actually have the nation's best interests at heart


They would argue that they do--that Barack Obama or either Clinton are such self-evident dangers to the country (what with their socialism and support for terrorism and wars on Christianity and all) that constraining them is a patriotic duty, whereas we must let Trump be Trump because he's MingAGA.


and are a fascist at heart.


Most are smart enough not to use the word in public, but modern right-wingers would privately be ok with that label. Some, like Steve Bannon even wear it loudly and proudly.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

@Larry | In your darkest brooding over the damage he is doing, I think you are overstating what more damage he can do.


I hope you are right. The part of my brain that hopes so hasn't yet convinced the other part that your argument amounts to anything more than "It would be unprecedented." And we've been in unprecedented territory since the 2016 primaries.


You watch. The authority to pardon will not be recognized when it is used for criminal intent.


It will be recognized by his brownshirt supporters, some of whom work in law enforcement. I guess Manafort will be a test case. What are you suggesting would occur in the wake of a pardon? That the warden would refuse to unlock his cell?


Nixon himself did not try what you are suggesting is possible, even though he had a similarly large pile of evidence against him.


True, but there are several differences. Nixon was about to be impeached, for which he most certainly couldn't pardon himself. He probably knew that removal from office would be considered sufficient punishment, and that the country probably wouldn't pursue further charges against a disgraced ex-president. And if it did come to that, he was probably assured of a pardon from his successor before he resigned.

Then there's the fact that Nixon is a different animal from Trump. Nixon cared about his place in history, and was probably self-constrained by violating the norms and decorum of the office--the ones that Benedict Donald violates routinely.


There was a ray of hope for you today and I encourage you to ponder it. Look at the Senate vote tally on the Yemen issue.


Yeah, but the bi-partisan bill to protect the Mueller investigation went nowhere. They might as well come out and admit that their position is, "If the president does it, then it is not illegal."


In his fear he is lashing out. He is doing the very thing that has to happen if an impeachment is ever going to work.


Yeah, I'll agree with that. Maybe a cause for long-term optimism along the lines of "The Foundation survived the Mule". But also a cause to be nervous about the short term.

Sooner or later, it seems as if we will have a constitutional crisis. Nothing within the normal system will constrain Trump from going more and more off the rails.

And at this point, I'm not sure I want to see him impeached. I want to see him lose the next election by the greatest landslide in history!

But if he is impeached, I stand by my assertion that Republicans have to be the ones to do it. If he's impeached by his political enemies, it will be interpreted as a back-door method of trying to un-do an election, and his supporters will be completely aboard the "witch hunt" train. Plus, he'll never be convicted in the Senate that way, so it will be an empty gesture. The only way for impeachment to be viable is for Republicans to decide he's bad for them as well.

Larry Hart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

ALL interpretation of the constitution should bear this in mind

Order to
form a more perfect Union,
establish Justice,
insure domestic Tranquility,
provide for the common defence,
promote the general Welfare,
and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity

Those are the PRIMARY and all important parts


I wanted to stand up and cheer after reading your post! Of course, there's nothing particularly sacred, or even moving, about the details like how many people get a congressman or how often they're elected, or what the order of succession is when a president dies.

The part that inspires and endures is the "What this is all for." Everything else is in service to the goals set out in the preamble.


But that is NOT NOT NOT how the constitution is interpreted


Republicans seem to think "provide for the common defense" is the whole of it.

Catfish N. Cod said...

yana: Dems could win the fringe right and the middle too, in one swoop, with a deeper plan to make a more perfect union.

Easier said than done, though I think we can agree it would be worth the effort. The social contract needs to be rewritten.

Of your “solutions”: for the first, I think our host’s modifications - that the *deficit must fall* (or surplus rise) if the nation is not in recession and no war is declared - is a better proposal; and for the last, an overturn of Citizens United is broadly agreed upon, but your proposal would end most benign non-individual political activity, not just corporations’. What will the cutoff be? For instance, can a partnership exercise rights of speech?

On term limits: I am leery of throwing out babes with bathwater.

@Larry: What would stop him? Where in the laws does it say that he can't?

The courts. SCOTUS must uphold plain constitutional language; and while they can twist logic into knots they can’t break it. If the President can self-pardon, he can unbind himself from the wills of Congress and the courts. Even if the Senate remains paralyzed — and that might well shock them into acting — SCOTUS cannot tolerate the idea that criminal acts before or during a President’s term can be negated simply by achieving the chief magistracy; that would be a moral hazard the size of the Moon. I do not trust Kavanaugh as far as I could throw him, but I judge that neither Roberts nor Gorsuch could abide such behavior.

Ultimately, though, it is a choice that indidivual officers of the Federal Goverent must make themselves: to stand for the Constitution’s spirit, or to be a King’s Man and only obey its narrow letter.

On impeachment: it is symbolic, political, and somewhat frivolous as long as it is partisan; the Republicans of the Senate must *choose* to openly oppose Individual-1, and that can only happen when he is shown to have acted in a manner that either GOP primary voters or the swing voters of their states recognize to be against their best interests. Legal, diplomatic, and personal finance questions will all support this conclusion, but ultimately, the most reliable mover of public opinion is economic. The GM cuts are the most dramatic consequence to date of the trade war; there will be more, even if it doesn’t contribute to a recession in the next 18 months.

Dave Werth said...

One nym for Trump I heard recently that caught my fancy is the Traitor-Tot.

Larry Hart said...

Dave Werth:


Traitor-Tot


Heh. That one doesn't work in writing--I had to speak it out loud to get the pun.

It reminds me of my old buddy Chris complaining about how terrible it was that liberals were referring to Joe Lieberman as "Traitor Joe". The guy lived in Nebraska, and I guess he had never heard of the grocery store chain Trader Joe's.

Larry Hart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

SCOTUS must uphold plain constitutional language; and while they can twist logic into knots they can’t break it. If the President can self-pardon, he can unbind himself from the wills of Congress and the courts. Even if the Senate remains paralyzed — and that might well shock them into acting — SCOTUS cannot tolerate the idea that criminal acts before or during a President’s term can be negated simply by achieving the chief magistracy; that would be a moral hazard the size of the Moon.


Your topic sentence is negated by the rest of the paragraph, which describes a chain of reasoning supposedly forcing SCOTUS to come to a conclusion which--sensible as the argument is--simply does not exist in the plain constitutional language.

The way things are now, without controversy--criminal acts before or during a president's term by anyone close to him (DT Jr, for example, or Jared) can be negated. Sheriff Joe Arpaio got to defy a federal judge without consequence via a pardon. So the moral hazard exists already. The fact that it might also apply to one additional person doesn't seem to be a qualitative difference.

I agree with you that there is something dangerously unprecedented about a self-pardon, but Benedict Donald has been taking unprecedented actions since 2016. The problem is that his supporters will tolerate anything he does, regardless of potential pitfalls. Some of those supporters would be the law enforcement officials asked to enforce court rulings.


I do not trust Kavanaugh as far as I could throw him, but I judge that neither Roberts nor Gorsuch could abide such behavior.


Agreed, but we'd better do some heavy duty praying for Ruth Bader Ginsburg's health.


Ultimately, though, it is a choice that indidivual officers of the Federal Goverent must make themselves: to stand for the Constitution’s spirit, or to be a King’s Man and only obey its narrow letter.


The entire Republican congressional caucus are complicit kings-men, no matter what they speak in words. Yes, I know, they voted to bring an anti-war resolution to the floor, but I'd bet significant money that they won't pass the thing. As long as they think Trump is useful for getting their tax cuts, deregulation, and Federalist Society-approved judges, he might be an idiot, but he's their idiot.


The GM cuts are the most dramatic consequence to date of the trade war; there will be more, even if it doesn’t contribute to a recession in the next 18 months.


His railings against GM plant closings and job losses would be funny if they weren't so dangerous to the socio-economic fabric of our country. GM is less competitive because they're paying more for steel than they used to. Higher steel prices aren't simply an unfortunate side effect of Trump's trade war--they're the whole friggin' point. Even congressional Republicans, while they became complicit in the trade wars, weren't pushing for them. Those are Trump layoffs, start to finish.

matthew said...

Slate weighs in on the backlash against Sen. Gillibrand for publicly pushing for Sen. Franken to resign.

https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2018/11/kirsten-gillibrand-al-franken-2020-election.html

My read is that Dem leadership (Tom Perez) wanted to be able to keep using Trump's "Grab her by the pussy" and other actions as a cudgel against the GOP and needed to show that the Dems would clean their own house. Dave thinks the mythically powerful "far left" engineered the whole deal.

Gillibrand is being punished now by major donors, according to Slate, for attacking Franklin to improve her own 2020 Presidential credentials.

Darrell E said...

With Mitch Fucking McConnell, aka the worst person in modern US political history, helming the Senate attempting impeachment will be a nearly futile effort no matter the provocation. MFC has well demonstrated that he has precisely zero scruples and zero inclination to do what the RP's constituents want, let alone what is good for them. The only limit on his pursuit of whatever his goals are is his assessment of what he can get away with.

And he has amply demonstrated that whatever his goals are mortal damage to our institutions and the general moral zeitgeist of our society are not of concern to him in his pursuit of them. He is not compelled by an honest sense of what is best for our society while differing somewhat from Democrats / liberals / whatevers on what that means or entails. He is compelled by selfish greed and he is thoroughly craven.

The only way to get the Republican Party behind getting rid of Trump is by maneuvering McConnell into a position where he thinks it is in his own selfish best interests, and that may not be possible. His back is up against the wall. And the wall's been getting steadily closer. No doubt that he knows it despite what the RP propaganda machine churns out for its supporters. He may not concede under any circumstances. I wonder what his GOTH plan is and at what point he might be compelled to execute it. Or has he already embarked on it?

One thing I don't get. Perhaps I've missed it but I haven't seen a single one of the RP politicians, pundits or major supporters that have come out against Trump also come out against McConnell. Or that asshole Paul Ryan. Or Lindsey Graham. It leaves me unconvinced that they are reliable allies.

David Brin said...

The Grand Jury can continue, whatever happens to Mueller.

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-neuborne-mueller-grand-juries-20181129-story.html

Jon S. said...

Other names I've seen:

Twitler
Tweetler
Screamy Orange Grandpa (credit K. B. Spangler)

I just give him all the respect I feel he's due, and call him Donnie.

And yes, making fun of him does seem to be one of the more effective ways of driving him into error, along with the Mueller probe. In the words of Martin Luther, “The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.”

Tony Fisk said...

I just take the 'P' and call him the resident.

he cannot bear scorn. Corollary: sycophants are not inclined to jeer and flout

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

And yes, making fun of him does seem to be one of the more effective ways of driving him into error,


We learned from 1984, they can't eliminate you until after you love Big Brother.

Dave Werth said...

@Larry Hart Heh. That one doesn't work in writing--I had to speak it out loud to get the pun.

Living in the PNW and having a farming family that grew potatoes tater-tot just kind of rolls off my tongue. The idea that Trump is a traitor who operates at the emotional level of a toddler works for me.

matthew said...

Hey Doc, I seem to remember a scene you wrote that kinda matches this. And, "undercover agents?" Methinks you may have been busy in your own backyard...
https://www.npr.org/2018/11/29/671869408/san-diego-gallery-charged-with-trafficking-over-1-3-million-worth-of-ivory-items

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | I’m not overly concerned about his brownshirt supporters. There aren’t enough of them. As long as we follow the Rule of Law, we will win over the center and those bullies will be charged and convicted if they do stupid stuff.

Nixon was about to be impeached

So is Trump.

He [Nixon] probably knew that removal from office would be considered sufficient punishment, and that the country probably wouldn't pursue further charges against a disgraced ex-president.

I don’t think so. My mother wanted his head on a platter. She wasn’t alone. I don’t think it was clear at all what would happen to Nixon unless Nixon and Ford had a pre-arrangement.

I don’t think Nixon was all that self-constrained either. He WAS smarter and wanted the decorum of the office in a way Trump doesn’t. Still… what Nixon did to get there and then hold onto it were easily ‘unprecedented’. Nixon could easily be called a traitor for prolonging the Vietnam War. What Trump is doing is uncannily familiar.

As for McConnell’s rejection of the protection measure, I think McConnell is just protecting the person who is feeding him conservatives judges to the Judiciary. McConnell benefits from avoiding the appearance of opposing Trump, but I sincerely doubt he believes what Trump is doing is okay. He’s being an opportunist.

The constitutional crisis is already here. Remember that op-ed by someone on the inside who said they were working against Trump? The crisis is here. We have someone behaving as a President who wasn’t elected President. The crisis has been here for a while according to them, but don’t worry they say. They have your best interests at heart. Hmpf.

I get why some don’t want to see him impeached. I disagree. I want him impeached so we can make McConnell assume the position. Choose! I’d bet he will throw Trump under the bus because Pence will hand him conservative judges too. Either way, though, it will be the GOP who decides whether to convict or not and the impeachment would still be on the books. Impeachment without conviction is NOT an empty gesture. It establishes the necessary precedent informing late Presidents what happens when they think they can get away with crap. The trial that occurs after 2020 will cement that precedent.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

As for McConnell’s rejection of the protection measure, I think McConnell is just protecting the person who is feeding him conservatives judges to the Judiciary. McConnell benefits from avoiding the appearance of opposing Trump, but I sincerely doubt he believes what Trump is doing is okay. He’s being an opportunist.


He doesn't care whether what Trump is doing is ok or not. We're in total agreement on this point.


The constitutional crisis is already here. Remember that op-ed by someone on the inside who said they were working against Trump? The crisis is here. We have someone behaving as a President who wasn’t elected President.


Which is precipitated by having a #SoCalledPresident who technically was elected president, but isn't qualified to perform the job any more than a blind man is qualified to be an Uber driver. The crisis you describe is nature abhoring the vacuum created by the de-facto vacancy at the top.


I get why some don’t want to see him impeached. I disagree. I want him impeached so we can make McConnell assume the position. Choose! I’d bet he will throw Trump under the bus because Pence will hand him conservative judges too.


You might not be afraid of the brownshirts, but the Republican politicians are. They know that Trump's rabid supporters are all they've got left. They're not going to risk losing the deplorable vote.


Either way, though, it will be the GOP who decides whether to convict or not and the impeachment would still be on the books. Impeachment without conviction is NOT an empty gesture.


"Empty" might be the wrong word, but it would be a counterproductive gesture--one that rallies his supporters to circle the wagons while not doing what the opposition wants, which is his removal from office. I'm concerned that a partisan impeachment effort would have a similar effect on the public that Bill Clinton's impeachment did--it didn't "kill" him and it made him stronger.

David Brin said...

" I think McConnell is just protecting the person who is feeding him conservatives judges to the Judiciary. "
Dang. Efficiently expressed. It is the life-raft that many RASRs cling to. "I know my party has gone insane, but at least we're getting judges!" And they never connect the dots.

The fruit of an utterly poisonous tree is ... poison.

Alfred Differ said...

@Larry | The GOP politicians SHOULD be afraid of the brownshirts. Not just because they need those folks for defense, but because those defenders won't take weakness among their 'leadership' well. It's an understood part of the road to serfdom. If the strongman isn't strong enough, get another that is stronger. Each stronger one has to blame at least a few among the brownshirts for being wrong about supporting the predecessor and they start a negative growth cycle. Eventually the group fails to choose one strong man and winds up with a couple of them of approximately equal strength. Splintering occurs next.

The only way some GOP politicians control this is to denounce Trump at an opportune time. When the bus finally arrives, he's thrown under it. That bus will take the form of impeachment charges arriving in the Senate. Their next strongman will be Pence. They will tell a beautiful story about the value of loyalty, the risks of being blinded by it, and the pain they feel when the truth is revealed. Many will fall for it because they ARE right wing authoritarian followers. It's practically wired into them.

No doubt this is the future our host warns against. Unfortunately, I think that is a safer future than what we'd have with a mortally wounded President remaining in office. Trump is obviously compromised.

When Mueller's charges arrive in the House, they should make VERY short work of them and debate ONLY whether they justify removal from office. Don't drag it out. Pass it to McConnell and force him to choose WHILE the House resumes investigating all the other things that have been neglected for a couple years. Force the bus to arrive at the station with such bad optics that people can't help but tie them all together, but can't help notice the impeachment is already done.

I will enjoy seeing McConnell squirm. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

David Brin said...

It won't go to impeachment. Trump will resign in an outraged huff and run around the nation as a martyr... which was his intent all along when he thought Hillary would win! Murdoch will get BOTH a martyr to rile up the mob... and Pence. And DT can later be putin'd into an even bigger martyr. McConnell rides again.

Darrell E said...

The Republican Party and its masters can see that they are very likely to lose the House, Senate and executive in the near future and that their Party as it exists now may never again gain the degree of control they've enjoyed for the past 2 or 3 decades. Things are beginning to fall apart for them. Voter demographics are changing and not in their favor. Gerrymandering is being opposed and they are starting to lose there. They've pushed the dirty politics so hard that about half of voters are fed up with them.

But this is what makes this an even more particularly dangerous period. They are beginning to lose and they are pulling out all the stops in order to try and make changes that will leave them as much access to power and money, even after they lose overt political dominance, as they can arrange.

On impeachment I tend to lean towards Alfred's position. I think that Trump should be impeached. The people need to see leaders like Trump be impeached. This is bigger than just Trump. It comes down to the question of what kind of society do we want to live in and what kind of rules / system of justice impedes or promotes movement towards that better society?

I'm not sure that impeachment would be best, but that's the way I'm leaning. I do understand realpolitik, which may very well entail not pursuing impeachment, may possibly achieve over all better results, at least by some metrics.

One bright spot, at least for me. Based on his plays over the past few weeks and what they reveal about previous plays, Mueller seems to be every bit as savvy, professional and not-to-be-fucked-with as some of his colleagues have assured us. I think he's got the goods on Trump, et al. Trump and his legal team have been trying to run a scam on Mueller but it's beginning to look like he has quietly played them for fools.

Tim Wolter said...

There is a tendency to smoosh Inpeachment and Removal from Office into one thing. They certainly are not. As soon as the new House convenes there is nothing to stop the introduction of Articles of Impeachment. That's just a simple majority vote and it is possible they might have the votes. (Although not certain). Removal from office requiring 2/3 vote of the Senate is a much steeper hill to climb. I know many of you expect Mueller to deliver The Goods, and perhaps it will be so. But I need to see his results and his work sheets.

Otherwise, consider the timing of this process. The large portion of the citizenry who does not live and breath politics sees that Trump is half way through his term. They probably will weigh the disruption of an impeachment trial versus waiting 22 months and voting him out. The latter is a much gentler process.

Politically the effort to impeach, especially when it fails, could easily create additional support for Trump, see previous case of B.Clinton.

The Game here is probably one of two things. Either keep indignation stoked and expect it to pay off in 2020 - plausible; or make Trump's life so miserable he won't run again. I rate this as moderately likely.

I don't know this or any other politician well enough to say how their "real" persona differs from that which is generated "holographically" by their friends and enemies. But if you posit an enormous ego would it not be appealing for him to weigh the upside of retiring after winning the most long shot election in recent memory and presiding - so far - over an expanding economy and no new wars. Versus a Rejection on a national scale.

This path is probably best for the country. Although if I start suggesting who Trump would anoint as successor we'll be starting the acrimonious next campaign earlier than necessary.

Tacitus/TW

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Alfred: “I think McConnell is just protecting the person who is feeding him conservatives judges to the Judiciary.“

No. Shillings could do that just as well as Individual-1. As Grover Norquist observed, The ideal republican president is one just smart enough to hold a pen. No, the Turtle is protecting his Senate majority leadership. His motivation is to protect the coattails that keeps his leveraged minority in control.

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

Otherwise, consider the timing of this process. The large portion of the citizenry who does not live and breath politics sees that Trump is half way through his term. They probably will weigh the disruption of an impeachment trial versus waiting 22 months and voting him out. The latter is a much gentler process.


Agreed. The case for removal by impeachment is the damage he continues to do in those remaining 2 years--especially, but not limited to, pardons.


Politically the effort to impeach, especially when it fails, could easily create additional support for Trump, see previous case of B.Clinton.


We're in agreement here, and I've made the same argument.


The Game here is probably one of two things. Either keep indignation stoked and expect it to pay off in 2020 - plausible; or make Trump's life so miserable he won't run again. I rate this as moderately likely.


You state the case from a Democratic Party strategic perspective. Me personally, I find it unfortunate that the issue of the harm Trump is doing to the country is parsed as strictly partisan, with his "enemies" merely using his malice and ineptitude as an excuse to remove someone whose policies they disagree with.

You recognize correctly (but unfortunately) that the political ramifications of impeachment would not depend on whether the charges given for the impeachment were legitimate or (pardon the term) trumped up. The Republicans would see it all of a kind, and their response would be "We'll impeach the next Dem president in retaliation." In recognition of that reality, I've been arguing that impeachment should not happen unless/until the danger Trump presents in the office is recognized as a problem by Republicans themselves. If it were up to me, when the time came, I'd make them beg for Democratic votes to make it happen.


I don't know this or any other politician well enough to say how their "real" persona differs from that which is generated "holographically" by their friends and enemies. But if you posit an enormous ego would it not be appealing for him to weigh the upside of retiring after winning the most long shot election in recent memory and presiding - so far - over an expanding economy and no new wars. Versus a Rejection on a national scale.


I agree to the extent that I don't think Trump ever wanted to be president. He wanted to win the reality show that was the election, not thinking about what the dog does with the car after he catches it. He probably hates his life now and wishes he could go back to being a celebrity with no real responsibility.

Except for one thing--his occupation of the Oval Office is the only thing standing between him and multiple criminal indictments. He will not give that up so easily.


This path is probably best for the country. Although if I start suggesting who Trump would anoint as successor we'll be starting the acrimonious next campaign earlier than necessary.


I wouldn't worry too much about who he "annoints". That sort of fanatic following of a uniquely charismatic personality doesn't transfer well to others. Bernie told his people to vote for Hillary, but notice how well that worked out.

David Brin said...

LH no one expected Maduro to succeed after Chavez. But sometimes the baton gets passed.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

I'm not denying that Pence could win, but he'd win as any other Republican, not because he's the heir apparent to Trumpism. The racist and Nazi support wouldn't necessarily go to him. The supporters who admire Trump for his womanizing won't admire Pence for his opposite thing.

Bob Neinast said...

In lieu of impeachment, what about censure (while leaving open the option of impeachment)? If you do impeachment and the Senate refuses to go along, you've shot your wad. But with censure you can go through all the evidence and hearings and whatnot. Then you gauge the sense of the Senate to decide whether to go ahead on impeachment.

Larry Hart said...

@Tim Wolter and @raito,

Last weekend, Chicago got hammered with snow which hardly went over the border into Wisconsin at all. This weekend, it looks like your turn.

Alfred Differ said...

Tim Wolter,

But I need to see his results and his work sheets.

Yes. If we don't do that, we should not expect your support. If we do it right and give you time to consider the evidence, only then should we demand removal. That will not happen during the impeachment phase, though. If the House acts quickly upon Mueller's report, you'll have YOUR time to consider things when the Senate trial gets underway. If McConnell slow walks it, you'll have even more time.

The latter is a much gentler process.

It really isn't, but I'll take my chances with your judgement after Mueller delivers his report. It is a terrible thing to have a compromised leader.

Politically the effort to impeach... could easily create additional support for Trump...

If they don't get people like you the documentation, I agree. If they do, I disagree. Some people will support Trump anyway. Nixon still had a 25% approval rating on departure. This will NOT backfire if the case is made that Trump actually IS a criminal and that this is NOT one big giant perjury trap. The backfire with Clinton was related to a lot of us believing it was a perjury trap.

So... when that documentation arrives... I expect two things to happen among GOP voters. Some will avoid reading it. They will remain in their bubble. Others will pick it up and do their duty as citizens. I sincerely hope you will be in the latter group so we can demonstrate this is about the Rule of Law and not about overturning a single election. 8)




Alfred Differ said...

Catfish N Cod,

No, the Turtle is protecting his Senate majority leadership.

Okay. It's possible we are both right as the visible evidence would be about the same. Your are arguing for a personal power motivation and I'm arguing for his desired results of having that power.

Besides judges, I know he also wants to dismantle entitlements. He isn't going to get that, though. His legacy will be the conservative judges.

Alfred Differ said...

David,

You might be right about a resignation, but I don't see how that results in Pence winning in 2020. If he or Trump run, it's going to be ultra ugly. The riled mob won't be numerous enough, though, because the other side will be riled too.

I think the way to avoid the future you describe is to put Trump on trial after the resignation. Dare Pence to pardon him. If he does, keep going with the state level trials. Dare those governors to pardon him. Keep going until someone fits him for an orange jumpsuit.

Our social institutions must be demonstrably defended, especially when someone commits crimes in the open and behaves as if they couldn't be crimes because of that. If there are no long-lasting consequences from all this, we have much bigger problems than Pence getting some support.

Tim Wolter said...

LarryHart

Yep, got some weather coming our way. Alas I can't just hunker down. I agreed to MC a FIRST Lego League event in another community. Total Over the Top stuff for hours on end. After that I fully expect to end up in a snowy ditch somewhere trying to explain to the tow truck driver why I am wearing an antique tux with tails and a leopard skin fez.

No plausible explanations have come to me as of yet.

T.Wolter

Alfred Differ said...

The ancient snow rituals are usually for AFTER you've been snow-bound for months. 8)

David Brin said...

“ The supporters who admire Trump for his womanizing won't admire Pence for his opposite thing.”

Of course they will. Trump will have been Cyrus. John the Baptist. A flawed but necessary instrument of deliverance to the anointed one.

David Brin said...

In the news. The patriarch of a clan that has done unimaginable harm to America, and by far the worst president of the 20th Century. By getting Boris Yeltsin to hire Bush-Cheney pal-oligarchs to "advise" the conversion of Soviet state industries, Bush ensured that the conversion would not be to liberal market democracy, but instead to mafia oligarchy, turning the Kremlin into as great - or worse - danger than ever. When Gen. Schwarzkopf begged to be given 48 hours to save all the Shiites of southern Iraq, GHWB refused, on orders from the Saudis, in effect allowing Saddam to murder a million people and guaranteeing Iraqi hatred of America for a century to come. This after he personally urged those Shiites to "rise up" against Saddam, promising our aid and deliverance. The worst stain on our honor since Vietnam.

Want Irony? The one consistent trait of every GOP nominee for president is that they always choose a VP running mate who is spectacularly unqualified and dangerous. The only exception was Ronald Reagan, who appointed a man who was *on paper* extremely well-qualified! On paper, one of the most-qualified men ever to enter the White House. And the worst president of the 20th Century, who blighted all our future and all he touched.

yana said...


Lol, leave the gate open and labor is cheap enough to spam through captchas, if you're India or Bangladesh, or if you've the family perks to get a plum job from Vlad Corleone. Or both. A serpent is coiling around geopolitics, normally i'm not alarmist but the world really could use some leadership from the heart right now.

If Nancy is too nosed into the nitty gritty of incremental mini-wins, then perhaps the free world still awaits a leader. If the new House doesn't get right to core systemic fixes, then the world's leadership vacuum will be filled by mafiosi and real estate speculators. Propose Ammendments: for the budget, for term limits, for campaign donations.

2 of 3 would pass the House at 2/3, the other one would shame its Rep HoR opponents. Any of these, not passing the Senate at 2/3, with a 2020 map harsh to Repubs, yep that flips the Senate in 2020. Usually have to wait 8 years for revulsion against the dominant party to rise, but this cycle it could be only four years, given the orange guy's nuttyness.

In the meantime, Roe/Wade falls in Summer 2019. Thus the 4th Pelosi Ammendment will finally be launched: the Equal Rights Ammendment Try II.

Just not sure if the incoming majority gets it. They have to grab the hearts and minds of the politically inconsistent voter, and the left has been spotty at doing this over the past few decades. Claim and own structural fixes as planks, or be flayed open as the same old opportunist power seekers we've gotten used to on the right.

If the new House is a cynical Beltway power play, which Nancy is very good at, then it's 4 More for the orange guy. If the Dems can't stomach term limits, then they'll lose back the House in 2020. It really is time to be American or be Partisan.


Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

“ The supporters who admire Trump for his womanizing won't admire Pence for his opposite thing.”

Of course they will. Trump will have been Cyrus. John the Baptist. A flawed but necessary instrument of deliverance to the anointed one.


We can both be right. We're talking about different sets of supporters.

The religious fanatics who ignore Trump's indiscretions because he gets their desired results? You're right Pence would allow them to both have and eat their cake.

The racists, misogynists, and Nazis? Their support is for Trump the particular personality and his validation of their deplorableness. That won't transfer to any regular Republican. At most, some will keep up the cheering until they notice the crowd dwindling away and slink off themselves, as in the end of "The Rainbow Tour" from the musical Evita. The best among them might slowly wake up, as if from a weird dream, and wonder what's been going on the past two years.

Larry Hart said...

Tim Wolter:

I fully expect to end up in a snowy ditch somewhere trying to explain to the tow truck driver why I am wearing an antique tux with tails and a leopard skin fez.

No plausible explanations have come to me as of yet.


You might bring along an umbrella that sprays colored gas and "quack" a lot.


Alfred Differ:

The ancient snow rituals are usually for AFTER you've been snow-bound for months. 8)


I'm sick of winter already, and it's not even winter yet. Until today, it wasn't even December. While your state has been on fire, Chicago has had its coldest November on record, and one of the snowiest as well (all in one shot).

Which by a convoluted train of thought brings me to this tangent. Is there some way to sell climate change as a conservative issue? In the sense that actual conservatives like things to stay the way they've always been? MAGA by restoring the weather to what it was back in the Leave It To Beaver days?

Russell Osterlund said...

"Fake News" CNN - :P - has a nice tribute on the GHW Bush's letter to the new, incoming President, Bill Clinton
https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/01/politics/george-bush-bill-clinton-letter-trnd/index.html. It would be fun to speculate what the present Toddler-in-Chief will do when (if?) confronted with this tradition. Will Unobama even bother to write such a note and what could it contain? Is he even capable of writing something? Would it be kept secret (like his tax returns)?

Anonymous said...

Cancel meetings, don't attend summits. I wonder what he is good for?

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-cancels-press-conference-at-g-20-summit-out-of-respect-for-bush/

Kal Kallevig said...

To the perpetual economic optimists that inhabit this blog:

Surplus Energy Economics -- How the economy REALLY works – Tim Morgan

Infinite growth in a finite system seems unlikely to me.

David Brin said...

"Infinite growth in a finite system seems unlikely to me."

Me either. I wrote EARTH, you recall?

My regards to the rest of the -el family.

onward

onward

Tom B said...

Stating that good leaders are a subset of the set of bad people does not establish that any particular bad person would be a good leader.

Creigh Gordon said...

"the other 50% are rather socialistic and only feasible if we first get our fiscal house in order"

A point of logic: a government like ours that creates its own money out of thin air is never fiscally constrained in that currency. It can always meet any obligation, in any amount, now or in the future, as long as that obligation is payable in the money it creates.

This is not to say that such a government is never constrained. It is constrained by availability of labor, materials, and technical knowhow. But its ability to create money and spend is never constrained by past deficits or size of national debt or future payment obligation whether they be due to entitlements or interest or simply purchases of goods and services.

It's also not to say that deficits don't matter. Deficits (or surpluses) have an effect on unemployment and inflation. But unemployment and inflation are what we should worry about, not an arbitrary match of spending and taxes. And whatever condition of budget deficit or surplus that results in full employment and stable prices is the right one.

There is no law or logic of finance or accounting or economics that requires a
currency issuing government to match spending and taxes, over a fiscal period or a business cycle, or ever.

Anonymous said...

Do you really have to lower yourself to the level of Donald Trump, when referring to him?
It strikes me that you're not going to learn anything about the Game Theory Perspective he's taking on solving problems, and how it differs from Ordinary Politicians, if you don't bother to accord him any respect.

Also, GHWB was a class act. You're absolutely, totally wrong to call him a patriarch.
The Bush's had their own saying, "Barbara was the Mafia Don of the Bush Crime Family."