Saturday, March 16, 2019

Can Democratic Proposals Win Popular Support?

First, a literary note. A little late, I lift a glass (join me) to Janet Asimov, gifted healer and writer and fierce guardian of Isaac's legacy. Janet and Robin commissioned the Killer Bees (Bear, Benford & Brin) to write the Second Foundation Trilogy and I found her light but firm guidance invaluable in sorting through Isaac's loose plot threads. She kindly expressed happiness with that final result. A treasure, whose 91 years were filled with contributions to the species and the future.
== Another shooter who should be renamed ==
After every mass shooting folks ask again about my 1999 proposal on Salon to remove one of the killers' top incentives ... fame. Or infamy. In this case it was blatant. See my call for the "Erastratos Solution," seizing the perp's most-valued possession - his name - replacing it with "Doofus25" or "tinyprick17." There's no freedom of speech issue, since reference works and Wikipedia will still have footnotes. But any use of the original name in larger than 5pt type would be trademarked by a fund for victims. Let's try it; see if the scum howls! In comments below, offer and argue over your own proposed re-names for the New Zealand monsters. Let's vote. Then let's agree to spread the word.
== Can the democrats pull together a plan? ==

While Kremlin trolls and homegrown idiots try to incite strife within the Democratic Coalition (the "Union" side in this phase of the American Civil War), others are sensibly pointing to reasons why disagreements between left and center should be put off for a while, at least till they run out of areas of vigorous agreement!

It's not that they lack ideas. Moreover, since  both progress and flat-fair-competitive markets do vastly better during Democratic administrations, it is hilarious to watch their opponents -- a party of Kremlin shills -- hurl accusations of "communism!" By every factually supported metric, citizens should be taking torches to the shambling, undead shell of the party of Lincoln. And  yet, for all their vastly-better record at honesty, sincerity and policy smarts, DP pols seem utterly lobotomized when it comes to the art of judo-polemic.

And their priorities suck.  Nothing will be accomplished till politics return to negotiation over facts.

For example, while moderate old curmudgeons like Diane Feinstein demand "how you gonna pay for your Green New Deal?" they miss the point. Such proposals -- e.g. Medicare-For-All, or  Free College -- might rise or fall based on their factual merits, if facts themselves regained their importance at the negotiating table. The Putinist-GOP has made it their central goal to make American politics be about incantations and cheating. We've seen that the monsters and traitors won't lose power till those tricks are defeated. 

Hence top priority should go to:


1 - measures that restore Americans' ability to perceive and compare facts.


2 - measures to eliminate electoral cheating, e.g. as pushed by Lawrence Lessig.


3 - measures to resume the fight against climate change. Yes, former WA Governor Jay Inslee has cleverly focused his campaign on this, but it is still putting the cart before the horse.


Liberals, think. Not a single thing you want will happen without those coming first. And if those come first, you will get a lot of what you want.


Here's why. Because most of the public wants reform! Yet such numbers make no difference on the current playing field: 


"About 75 percent of Americans favor higher taxes for the ultra-wealthy. The idea of a federal law that would guarantee paid maternity leave attracts 67 percent support. Eighty-three percent favor strong net neutrality rules for broadband, and more than 60 percent want stronger privacy laws. Seventy-one percent think we should be able to buy drugs imported from Canada, and 92 percent want Medicare to negotiate for lower drug prices. The list goes on."

Read that important article by Tim Wu in the NYT. But there's more he doesn't mention. Large majorities favor the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. They favor allowing student debt to be refinanced, just like mortgages. They favor ending gerrymandering (and blue state voters have been doing that, already, as it is blues who have been ending the $%%$$! Drug War, you libertarians take note.) 


And if you remind voters of other things the Greatest Generation instituted, like ant-trust laws and vigorous federal R&D, they tend to want those to. Oh, and again, ending the damned Drug War.

Prioritize, dammit! Jay Inslee has made #3 the centerpiece of his campaign for the Democratic nomination. But I am hoping and praying that at some point, someone seeking to stand out from the pack will realize the power of #1 and #2... the pair that are absolutely needed, before anything else can get done.  If you want help crafting #2, talk to Lawrence Lessig and let's all get behind bill HR1...  which won't stand a chance till we tackle issue #1.


There are ways to do that. Some 2nd tier DP candidate should talk to me. 

== The opposition: “socialist” tax rates? ==

Dialing in, polls show that 59 percent of U.S. voters agree with the just-elected 29-year-old Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (AOC) proposal for a 70 percent marginal tax rate on whatever the richest earn above $10 million. 

(Hey, moguls, you won’t have to pay it, if you actually invest in R&D or productive capacity or high velocity industry, the things you claimed Supply Side cuts would get you to do. Just finally do what you said you would, and there's no 70% marginal rate for you. Just as the fairest tax - the Inheritance Tax - is the tax that no one with a soul actually has to pay.)

Meanwhile, Senator Elizabeth Warren is talking about a wealth tax

And I have been demanding that Democrats restore the iconic status of the “Greatest Generation” and their wisdom seeking a flat-fair-open-competitive market, under leadership of their favorite living human, Franklin Roosevelt.  (And to her credit, AOC has tepidly begun this process, referring to FDR obliquely with her "Green New Deal." See below.)

But are the proposals on the table sensible? How can any program of re-uplifting the working poor and middle class accomplish anything when world mafias launder trillions of wealth through secret international back channels? 

== The ultimate weapon against mafias, worldwide ==

It won't surprise you that my own top proposal -- for the plant, not just the U.S. -- emphasizes transparency ... universal clarity of ownership.

See: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-chief-threat-to-our-great.html Given the agility of money-movement, this would only work if an angry world citizenry demanded it as a worldwide treaty. (And in EARTH I portrayed a radicalized world citizenry demanding it.)

Essentially, it comes down to one sentence: "If you own something, say so." 

All right, a second sentence. All property that goes without claimants who are living humans or foundations must revert to public domain. 

Sure, there are complexities of proof and a myriad details. For one thing, it should be phased in, starting at the top, so poor farmers have time to get their paperwork in order, helped by reforms like Peru instituted so successfully, planned by Hernando de Soto Polar. (The perfect overlap of liberalism and sane libertarianism.) And yes, it will be a golden age for lawyers. So? The number of lawsuits will employ a quarter of the human population, solving AI driven unemployment! ;-)

Read about the implications, especially how it would immediately benefit you.

But the core point is this: none of the proposals on the table, like high marginal income tax rates or wealth taxes or universal income or capital, can possibly work without this. And then we get to the irony… that those measures will be largely unnecessary if we get transparency of ownership! Why? Because –

 -- there'd be so much abandoned property – dropped by cheaters like kleptocrats and drug lords and mafiosi -- that most government debt would likely be wiped out! Resulting in lower rates for honest taxpayers. No confiscatory wealth taxes needed.  

Find another proposal that promises that win-win. In essentially two sentences.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Peering ahead - human evolution. Living in a simulation? And some interesting sci fi.

With Facebook in a state of collapse (long predicted) I could use your help publicizing this here Contrary Brin blog!  Just look at the cool and interesting featured items, below!

== Human evolution ==

I take pride that this blogmunity - weblog community - is one of the oldest and most erudite on the Web. One of you wrote in comments: 

I'm not sure this qualifies for the Predictions Registry, but this article in today's Chicago Tribune addresses a subject that you weighed in on a while back. Humans have managed to separate sex from reproduction, and while this is most often thought of in the context of getting to have sex without worrying about the consequences, there are those going in the opposite direction as well--people who want children without the bother of romance. And as the second group passes on their genes while the first group does not, will "industrial reproduction" become more the norm over time?”

One of the flukes of human nature that might explain the Fermi Paradox is that we are polar opposites to the 'Moties,' in The Mote In God’s Eye. They are ultimate creatures of Malthus, doomed always to overpopulate as quickly as possible. We appear to have been saved – or at least have a chance – because human women are satiable, whenever they feel their children are truly safe and healthy, and seem to prefer having an average of about two. Yes, this happened in part because we can adaptably switch from High-R to High-K reproductive psychology, swiftly emphasizing care of high investment offspring, rather than pushing out numbers. But another factor is the separation of the thing nature evolved us to seek desperately – sex – from actual reproduction. Both of these drivers resulted in a species that appears capable of giving the finger to old Malthus.

For now. I’ve long said we have a narrow window… perhaps three generations… before those who zealously want to have lots of kids start filling our gene pool with that compulsive trait, replacing sex as the nexus of avidity and making us more Malthusian... more like Moties.  We can deal with this either by spreading to the stars, as a plague, or becoming super-High-K and far-seeing-wise.  Anything other than those two will lead to the Motie catastrophe, and Malthus getting the last laugh.

Noteworthy, today's worldwide attempted mafia-oligarch putsch would re-establish dumbass feudalism and knock out either of those survival possibilities.

== A simulation? ==

Talin offers a fascinating argument for why we are not living in a simulation – essentially that it would take at least 1000 atoms in a big computer to calculate the details of a single atom in the simulation. Well, well. There’s an answer or two. At the high end, you can try to explore the arcane calculations of computability contained within Frank Tipler’s brilliant book The Physics of Immortality, which asserts that our godlike descendants will have infinite (actually infinite) computational power available to them at the end of time, when the Big Crunch brings all the matter of the universe back together again. Okay, okay, it now appears that there will be no Big Crunch. Still, TPOI is essential reading for any truly deep discussion of computability of simulations. (And Roger Penrose appears to have offered at least a tentative way we might have a cyclical universe even under conditions of endless expansion.)

At the other end is the science fictional answer from The Universe Makers or The World of Tiersor several novels by Greg Egan, or the movie The 13th Floor… that the simulation is only high fidelity near the “protagonist” and just probabilistic farther away or where he/she (actually, you) aren’t looking. Which does sound eerily like Quantum Observer stuff.

Still, this is a pretty good counter argument to the standard “we have to be in a simulation!” nostrum.  Have fun.



== Some recent novels! ==

For bold galaxy-spanning science fiction, try Alex White, whose titles are terrific! “A Big Ship at the Edge of the Universe,” has been followed by “A Bad Deal for the Whole Galaxy.” But then there’s Mira Grant’s “Kingdom of Needle and Bone.”  Oooooh.

Mary Branscombe’s way-fun new novel is “The Vampires of Silicon Valley.” The hook? You're a thousand-year-old vampire who has to save the world just to have somewhere to live, but you happen to look like a teenage girl. What else can you do except go to silicon valley and take a bite at VC funding?

J. Neil Schulman is a very different kind of libertarian (quasi-Randian) than my liberal-Smithian variety. I poke hard at the naïveté of believing civil servants are more of a threat to liberty than the feudal lords who oppressed 99% of our ancestors and who are right now striving to bring a return to dismal-horrid mafia-oligarch rule. The branch of libertarianism that worships property and government-hatred over competition, which only thrives when regulated to prevent cheating, is kinda jibbering loony.

Still, Neil can write. And while his new novel — The Fractal Man — has some tendentious and self-indulgent qualities, it does offer up some finely-meshed fun with parallel and alternate worlds, kind of like Heinlein’s Job: A Comedy of Justice.

Not related is Matt Ginsberg’s recent novel The Factor Man, about a fellow who develops an algorithm that can factor any multiple of prime numbers, and hence break most of the world’s encryption. A bit light on the implications of such a discovery, it is still a compelling thriller, well-written and thought-provoking.

Sundiver is still available on Audible. We'll be releasing a new e-version soon.

Okay, everybody’s a sucker for top ten lists.  I’ve got plenty.  Here’s this one approach to “30 best sci-fi films that explore the fluidity of time.”

Another 2018 Best SF Novels list. Some amazing stuff - with new titles from Mary Robinette Kowal, Cixin Liu, Becky Chambers, the terrific Emily Devenport (Medusa Uploaded) and much more!

And an anthology of 17 short stories by Israeli science fiction authors has been gathered in a new collection titled “Zion’s Fiction” along with an introduction by Robert Silverberg.  Or Zi-Fi.  

An interesting premise for the eco-driven but scientifically grounded (and western-like) Melt Trilogy by K. E. Lanning “After catastrophic global warming melts the ice caps, humans desperate for land colonize a de-iced Antarctica.



== The “Self-Published” World Contains some (Rough) Gems!

Amid interesting transitions in art, you have the world of self-published fiction (SPF).

My colleague in the SETI/METI community – retired senior U.S. diplomat Michael Michaud – has published a short novel, EASTERN WIND, about discovery of an ancient shipwreck suggesting early contact between Asia and North America. “Behind this story lie the growing power of China, climate change and a rising world ocean, and the political assault on science.If you have inflexible standards about the nuts and gears of polished fiction writing, then you deny yourself the world of self-published stories that sometimes offer compensation with romance and big ideas.

Gary Dejean, PhD has an SPF all about our transformation into cyborgs and possibly a “plussed” version of humanity, in H+ INCORPORATED. An orphaned child getting slowly used to his full-body prosthetic befriends a young journalist who herself hopes to one day be fitted with similar implants. Meanwhile, a secretive military contractor tests combat exoskeletons for a corrupt government. Hard-science anticipation with a strong dose of cyberpunk.”

== For the Predictions Registry ==

For two decades some fans have kept a Wiki tracking my predictions, especially from EARTH. Already listed is my 1989 forseeing of a worldwide wave of Chinese tourism, illustrated in several scenes set in New Zealand. Well, what could be more specific than this news item:

The boom is only expected to continue. In February, New Zealand will introduce a yearlong Chinese tourism initiative; China is the country’s second-largest source of tourists after Australia, and the fastest growing… But Mr. Milne, the tourism professor, said not enough had been done to prepare New Zealand communities for an expected doubling in the number of Chinese visitors. He added that New Zealand had a history of overlooking local residents’ concerns as it sought to aggressively increase tourism.”


== Finding Solutions ==

It’s important to reinforce that most modernists are not dogmatists and are capable of diversity of opinion and even changing our minds when strong evidence demands it. One example is nuclear power. Yes it is problematic! So. Give every Nevadan who voted a $500 rebate and open the damn Yucca Mountain repository, already, to get the waste away from our cities! And research better designs that would ease the huge costs of regulatory management for safety.  

Still, a swathe of “liberal” leaders, like Stewart Brand – the world’s top “techno-hippie” – have long said we need to look again at nuclear’s carbon free benefits. James Lovelock, founder of the Gaia Hypothesis, if 100% correct: nuclear power is the only green solution.

As Daniel Duffy puts it: “Opposition to nuclear energy is based on irrational fear fed by Hollywood-style fiction, the Green lobbies and the media. (And pushed hard by propaganda subsidized by oil and coal interests.) These fears are unjustified, and nuclear energy from its start in 1952 has proved to be the safest of all energy sources. We must stop fretting over the minute statistical risks of cancer from chemicals or radiation. Nearly one third of us will die of cancer anyway, mainly because we breathe air laden with that all pervasive carcinogen, oxygen. If we fail to concentrate our minds on the real danger, which is global warming, we may die even sooner, as did more than 20,000 unfortunates from overheating in Europe last summer.”

I don't go that far. But I have the advantage of having seen some of the new designs that cannot melt down and that offer a nightmare scenario primarily to carbon lords, coal kings, petro-sheiks and their ringleader in the Kremlin




Sunday, March 10, 2019

Looking ahead... Science news, predictions and more... including lasers!


NBC News has web-featured "19 bold predictions for science and technology in 2019": Here's what thought leaders in innovation expect to see in the coming year." Nearly all the sages and experts made interesting but short-term forecasts about their own fields... with one or two exceptions. I took a risk... but then, I can afford to.

Possibly the most important thing I wrote or said in 2018 is this interview for Thomson-Reuters on the topic of Artificial Intelligence. Expertly edited by Paul Thies, it manages to convey – in a very brief space -- some important concepts currently ignored by AI researchers, societies and citizens.

In the science-related political news: As we celebrate amazing discoveries… and NASA recovers from the shut-down… there’s this. The U.S. Senate confirmed extreme-weather specialist Kelvin Droegemeier as President Donald Trump's top science and technology adviser, after a two year vacancy, the longest ever. His office (OSTP) has plummeted to just 35 staffers. What’s unclear is what it all means. He’s a meteorologist and expert on weather disruptions and not a denialist cultist. So what gives? Did someone apply leverage? 

Maybe a younger/smarter Koch who doesn't want to be rich in a world that is driven into radical revolution?

Here's an interesting survey-essay by Nobelist Charles Townes.  His 1997 perspectives on the big issues -- where the universe (and we) came from and where life (and we) may be going -- make for fascinating reading, especially from twenty years later. Among the things that have changed since then -- from pocket supercomputers to AIDS semi-cures to genomics and the stunning plummet in electorate-IQ -- few discoveries change the essence. But one of the biggest is our picture of the origin of life on Earth. Back then, Townes thought that up to a billion years passed between the Earth's formation and the first known evidence of living systems. We now know that life appears in the fossil record (or at least probable signs of it) within only a couple of hundred million years after the planet was molten and probably earlier. This puts a much higher supposition that life will emerge almost automatically, as soon as conditions are right. This, in turn, has huge implications for our mental image of Life in The Universe and questions like the Fermi Paradox. 

But overall a fascinating read. We need big perspectives, from time to time. (Some of us try to provide ;-)

== Intelligence Wonders ==

This Clever AI Hid Data From Its Creators To Cheat At Its Appointed Task.  Using tricks akin to steganography, a Machine Learning program embedded into images subtle color cues that it could later use to cheat at an image processing task.  In fact, the computer is so good at slipping these details into the street maps that it had learned to encode any aerial map into any street map. It doesn’t even have to pay attention to the “real” street map’ — all the data needed for reconstructing the aerial photo can be superimposed harmlessly on a completely different street map.  “A machine learning agent might even find ways to transmit information to itself, imperceptible to the human eye, in the interest of solving a problem more easily and efficiently. This doesn’t mean AIs are outmaneuvering us per se, but rather that AI scientists need robust measures to validate AI output at each stage of a program's process. Only then can we ensure that neural networks solve problems in the ways we intend them to do so.”

And now- Deep Squeak - computer visualization-learning systems  are being used to “translate” high-pitch vocalizations of lab mice. Perhaps helping ask the ultimate question of Life, The Universe, and Everything.

Researchers at the MIT-IBM Watson Lab are using General Adversarial Networks, or GANs, to help explain how artificial intelligence systems “think.” GANs are a form of AI that pits two neural networks against each other to achieve a larger goal, such as creating new pictures of dogs, human faces or swapping heads in photos. And this approach to using adversarial sub-intelligences to make the macros intelligence smarter is exactly what I talk about in “Disputation Arenas,” and in my novel EARTH.

== Defense… zappers? ==

We’ve entered the era of hypersonic missiles – Putin claims to have them and the U.S. almost certainly does. Is this the end of “strategic defense”? Well, there is a twist to SDI that no one mentions, except it hearkens back to 1967. But I won’t go there. Not here. Suffice it to say that I do not deem that money to be totally wasted. Still…

Some of you may want to get up to date on lasers and beams and such. They have been “the future” for so long that – for many of you – they may have faded into the background. Correct that with "Lasers,Death Rays, and the Long, Strange Quest for the Ultimate Weapon," by my old Caltech classmate Jeff Hecht.  You'll get up to date on what's NOT top secret... and that will help you have perspective about what's still under wraps. (I suspect - and there had better be - a lot.)

== Solar Wonders ==

First see this wonderful innovation.  Refugee tents that can collect rainwater & store solar power

As Russ Daggatt aptly put it: "China's development of its solar industry - both panels and power - may be "unfair" and violate free market fundamentalism. But it's the right thing to do for China - and the global environment. I wish our government was acting with comparable vigor. (Instead, we're promoting coal.)" The one swallowing a "hoax" is a puppet employed in the White House. The puppeteer is perfectly happy with melting tundra and an ice-free arctic.

Fascinating counterpoints! Says Venture pundit Mark Anderson: "China got its monopoly by dumping and thereby destroying the global leaders in the U.S. and Germany."  

To which Asia expert Scott Foster replied: "When I was sustainability analyst at BNP Paribas, our Chinese economist put it to me this way: 'It takes a lot of energy to make solar panels, which only reach energy break-even after one or two years of operation. In China, most of that energy comes from coal, which pollutes the air, which in turn makes solar panels less efficient. China produces more and more solar panels, driving down prices and profit margins. It floods the world market, of course, but you Americans get very cheap solar panels and make higher margins installing them. America gets cheap clean energy and clean service jobs. China gets low paid manual labor and pollution. And you Americans are complaining about it.'

Interesting way of viewing it. Donald Trump thinks solar panel imports should be taxed and solar subsidies cut so that this dynamic can be reversed. What a deal.

Wow, complicated. The crux? Yay, panel prices plummet! Boo to unfair trade practices and IP theft, Solution, let's make an allowance "for development" and then play fair.




Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Oligarchy and aristocracy and power


Much discussion is erupting across the West about a rising demand to do something about wealth disparities and skyrocketing debt. At Davos (we are told) it's all they talked about, including “the likelihood that a 70 percent (high end marginal) tax rate becomes policy." Ray Dalio, one of the wealthiest investors in the world, also sees such ideas gaining serious tractionMohamed El-Erian, the long-time oracle of bond markets, writes in The World Post this week that what is most required to avoid a “synchronized” global slowdown “is a broad-based effort to bolster growth and address deep resentment about the inequality of income, wealth and, most importantly, opportunity.”

Essentially, we are seeing a split among billionaires over IQ and long range self-interest. Those who are smart enough to read up on past revolutions -- like Gates, Bezos and Buffett -- are saying "raise my taxes!"  Many others. Mark Cuban, Nick Hanauer, who warns "Beware, fellow plutocrats, the pitchforks are coming." 

Some are actually loyal to an enlightenment civilization that's been very good to them, and to the hundreds of engineers whose company they enjoy more than spoiled inheritance brats. Others are simply pragmatic, like old Joe Kennedy supporting FDR: "I'd rather lose half my wealth supporting reform than all of it and my head to revolution."

Evonomics has once again featured my assessment of Why Adam Smith and even Friedrich Hayek would be democrats today, given the almost 100% record of better outcomes for markets and competitive enterprise, versus the monopolistic and oligarchy-serving policies of the Republican Party.  Even conservatives now admit that conservatism has changed.  Take the Ronald Reagan who Republican activists idolize in abstract; in real life he raised taxes, increased regulations, signed environmental laws, and (worst of all) negotiated countless compromise give-and-take, pragmatic measures in tandem with a Congress run by the other party. As did Barry Goldwater and William F. Buckley, giants who argued with genteel courtesy and who revered both knowledge and intellect, especially science.  Even the most fervid Tea Party aficionado would avow that today’s GOP has little room for such thingsas Goldwater and Buckley themselves proclaimed, to their dismay, before they died.”

(See a more recent appraisal of the economist Hayek - who made major contributions - vs. the polemical Hayek whose "Road to Serfdom" has proved diametrically opposite to correct in every prediction, down to the last detail.)

Highly correlated: “They Don’t Just Hide Their Money. Economist Says Most of Billionaire Wealth is Unearned: The concentration of wealth from rent-seeking.” by Didier Jacobs in Evonomics. 

And this clear revelation that concentrated wealth and inequality crush economic growth... as Adam Smith and anyone in the Greatest Generation would have told you.

== What do skyrocketing trade and budget deficits mean? ==

Ol' Two Scoops brags about the "economy," but which parts? Look at economic trends -- deficits and GDP and trade -- and ask: which items would have been affected by major GOP /Trump actions? Also, which saw no affecting GOP/T actions, and therefore likely just continued Obama era trends? Um, look at the trend lines and tell me who deserves the credit?




Elsewhere I show charts revealing that the second derivative of federal deficit is always negative across democratic administrations and positive across GOP ones. Less obscurely stated: anyone calling for 'fiscal responsibility" who remains a Republican is an utter-fool hypocrite.

The only actual, actual major effective actions by the GOP/T since inauguration were (1) mammoth tax cuts for the rich and corporations, under standard voodoo (never-ever right) supply side predictions of lower deficits, (2) a chaotic, roller-coaster, uncontrolled trade war, (3) demolition of our alliances and a war against fact-using professions. None of these have directly (yet) affected US core domestic economic/commercial activity and thus all of the curves regarding unemployment etc. are simply carrying on momentum of the fantastic 2009-present recovery from the Bush super-recession.

What those listed GOP actions have directly affected are both budget and trade deficits, which have skyrocketed. And wealth disparity.

Confederate Syndrome: getting “anti-elite” prols to fight for aristocracy

We’re all raised on Suspicion of Authority (SoA) - which is  a healthy message delivered in every Hollywood film. Alas, we're also taught to murmur “I invented it! My elites can be trusted, but not the elites who my elites tell me to hate! I'll aim my SoA only at them!” The central mission of Fox News and Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer and all of that crowd has been to rile up a lumpenproletariat into raging against cities and professionals and universities and science and especially the very concept of government, all of which stand in the way of the real elites re-establishing feudalism. This is precisely the playbook used by
plantation-lords who got a million poor white southerners to fight and die for them, in the 1860s phase of our civil war. This article shows the how and why of the oligarchy’s all-out funding of anti-modernist propaganda:

When Steve Bannon - now fomenting populist revolution across Europe -called for “deconstruction of the administrative state”, he specifically targeted the systems of taxation, financial oversight, and public accountability that constrain the ultra-wealthy. The American hedge fund manager Robert Mercer, whose $60m offshore “war chest” bankrolled both Brexit and the Trump campaign, only began donating to political causes after the US Internal Revenue Service fined his firm $6.8bn for tax evasion. Arron Banks, the UK businessman with substantial offshore holdings, may have had a similar motivation: he became the largest financial backer of Brexit’s Leave.EU campaign following the imposition of costly international regulatory requirements on his insurance companies…. Populist ultra-nationalism is a project bought and paid for by global elites and their tax haven wealth.

Through the Paradise Papers we also learned that Donald Trump, who campaigned against the “corrupt globalism” of Hillary Clinton and proudly proclaims himself a “nationalist”, had surrounded himself with cabinet members whose vast fortunes are stashed in tax havens around the world. Some of these tax haven schemes link them to foreign adversaries of the United States.” writes Brooke Harrington in The Guardian

Not mentioned? The number of GOP officials and donors who have been buying up bolt-hole ranchita hideaways in Patagonia, New Zealand and so-called "seasteads." (Interesting: while Peter Thiel was enraged by this analysis of Seasteading I published, he went ahead (apparently) and followed every piece of my advice! The new plans - which I pre-illustrated in EXISTENCE - have a better chance of working... assuming the world goes to hell as much as these guys want.)

== WODI Time ==

WODI = "What if Obama Did It?" Like what if Clinton or Obama tried to force security clearances for unqualified and compromised relatives? Or coerced foreigners to buy up whole floors of hotel rooms as blatant emolument bribes? Or reported for debriefings with communist or "ex" communist dictators many times without any US professionals present? 

Or Donald Trump actually excusing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistanas having been "fighting terrorism." Seriously, or his giving Putin every single thing, always. WODI. Of course the list of hypocrisies is endless. But you may not know this one:

The Senate Leadership Fund (super PAC run by McConnell's former Chief of Staff) got $3.5m from Russian oligarch Blavatnik. "Possible conflict of interest"?? Good grief, the GOP is taking bribes from foreign agents in plain bloody sight.

Speaking of which, had any Clinton or Obama official been 1% so blatantly compromised as Steve Mnuchin - lifting sanctions on his Russian oligarch pals - there would have been riots. … yet they howl outrage over Kyrsten Sinema’s thigh-high boots. See other examples of distraction outrage. Hilarious!

Even more uproarious is this visual meme, which implies that the 'socialist-sounding' quotation came from the right's bête noirs Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, when in fact...

...the author was Adam Smith, in Wealth of Nations, Book V, Chapter I, Part II On the Expence of Justice. 

Um... gotcha.

== Your hopeless “decent” neighbors ==

There are so many moral turpitudes of today's gone-insane, treasonous right. (And most of you know I used to skewer lefty zealots too, till we needed to unite against a death cult.) But of all the go-to-hell travesties, nothing beats the maniacal Alex Jones hatred of the Parkland kids.

But set aside the mad, confederate uncles, racists and Kremlin-loving boors. They aren’t important, compared with one group that could save us all, if ostriches pulled their head out of a holed-of-denial. All of us know some RASRs (Residually Adult-Sane Republicans) – decent folks who know their party and movement have gone stark-jibbering insane, but who keep chanting “I must keep supporting this horror show, because…. Democrats!”

I know some of these guys, who must have giant shoulders by now, from hourly shrugging off the latest Fox/GOP/KGB monstrosity with "that's terrible and sure the entire leadership caste of the Republican Party is a pack of lying traitors but… but… but… here’s an anecdote about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez!."

Which brings up… “What Does Tucker Carlson Know That the Republican Party Doesn’t?" His populist "attacks on the priorities of the “ruling class” have set off a maelstrom.” Carlson’s recent rant against out of control capitalism has a lot of folks all over the spectrum scratching their heads.

Me? I think the explanation is simple. Positioning. He wants to have cred as an “independent” voice - when Trumpism collapses. More and more center-right Americans are clinging to one straw: “I know my side and my party have gone insane-evil-treasonous. But… but liberal socialists are as bad!” Carlson is only stating this aloud, with the net effect that “I can trust Tucker, when he says to vote GOP just one more time.”

Take the stunning, despot-serving moral turpitude of Roger Stone, Paul Manafort, Lee Atwater (at that same swamp-lobbying firm!) and all their clients, including Trump and other casino lords and Mafia dons. See below for details. But RASRs shrug that off.

Likewise the sexual perversion of so many of these guys. Stone famously "sold" his wife several times to other men, on the sex-swinger scene. It's a trend: from Larry Craig and Roy Moore and Dennis 'friend to boys' Hastert on down the line, to the normalization of high rates of gambling, drugs, pimpery, all the way to a divorce rate double that of Democrats. And paying off porn stars. And David Pecker. Family values. Huh.

Shrug. No, all that matters is "judges and tax cuts." Two Good(?) Fruits from a tree that’s proved 99.99% poisonous. RASRS will continue to hold their noses - ignoring the war on science and the Putin putsch, the destruction of our alliances and the ongoing assassination of our entire planet - saying it’s worthwhile, just to get those two things... 

...even though it's now proved that every single Supply Side largesse to the aristocracy had diametrically opposite-to-promised effects, pumping passive-parasitic rentier asset bubbles while dragging money velocity down to almost-zero while spurring NO added R&D or industrial investment... as Adam Smith would've warned you. As the Greatest Generation would have told you.

Any patriot would deem the Putin stuff alone – relentlessly-proved outright and open-glaring treason -- sufficient to get down into the streets with pitchforks and torches, chasing Rupert Murdoch and his shills out of the country. But not our poor RASRS, who clutch Fox sobbing, begging to suckle the latest rationalization incantation. “Tucker! Hannity! Rescue me with another anecdote about lefties!”

Careful guys. Even today’s TVs emit some radiation. Also, your desperate tears will soak into the LCD screen and give you a shock.