Friday, September 06, 2019

Science fiction: Predictions, passages & policy


Is it important to have a literature that contemplates change? Changing values. Changing social classes. Changing technology or gender roles or relationships? In a talk presented at the Hannah Arendt Center of Bard College, I argued the merits, e.g. whether or not science fiction best represents the  human condition, a condition that is always in flux as we remake ourselves… and then our children do the same thing… by doing everything differently.

I am often asked about real world applications of science fiction. Here’s a list of items, having to do with science, society and speculative culture. I’ve mentioned many of them before. A few are of such value that you might be a real asset!  Yes, you.

1) UCSD's Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination, where the sciences and arts come together to explore humanity's most unique gift.

2) The Clarke Center has a project. The TASAT site - for “There’s A Story About That” - offers a way to connect serious contemporary dilemmas with science fictional tales that just might be pertinent, from across the last 75 years. There are plausible ways that this project might someday save us all! See my explanation of the endeavor

3) The new Journal of Science & Popular Culture, issue #1, features an essay of mine. It fills a niche that could interest a few of you.

4) A project in which I played no part.  Scifi Policy, based in the Washington, DC, area, is a small, volunteer team, that “thinks big things can come from the intersection of policy and visions of what tomorrow may bring, aiming to create a field of ‘Science Fiction Policy Studies.’” See their explanation: Tools for Inserting Science Fiction into Policy.

5) This data dump wouldn’t be complete without mentioning ventures in using science fiction gedankenexperiment/scenarios for ‘commercial purposes’:


- The Scout Project is run by my friends the Andersons who put out the Strategic News Service newsletter and the FiRe Conferences.  

- Kaspersky Labs in Moscow is trying to do something similar-- vivid if also a bit weird -- on their site Earth 2050.  See my predictions there describing An Underwater City and The Future of Morocco, among others.

6) My own consultations include being on the advisory council of NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts program (NIAC).   

Regarding AI: This Reuters interview conveys – in a very brief space -- important concepts ignored by most AI researchers. 

7) Largely defunct, SIGMA was an effort to create an organized consulting group of science fiction authors for US defense purposes: 


== SF’nal News ==

This video on “What will the monkeys do?" is a must see, channeling from several sources of wisdom, including Rudyard Kipling’s great poem “If.” It’s a great caution, and an inspiring call.


New by Patrick Coleman – program director at UCSD's Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination – just released novel, The Churchgoer, “a haunting debut literary noir about a former pastor’s search to find a missing woman in the toxic, contradictory underbelly of southern California."

Deserving mention under both “science” and “scifi”: New research in biomechanics suggests that young people are developing hornlike spikes at the back of their skulls — bone spurs that are caused (we’re told) by the forward tilt of the head, which shifts weight from the spine to the muscles at the back of the head, causing bone growth in the connecting tendons and ligaments. The weight transfer that causes the buildup can be compared to the way the skin thickens into a callus as a response to pressure or abrasion. But… but do we see this in the skulls of medieval scribes, bent over their copying desks? Many kinds of factory-assembly workers? Alternate theories - an antenna for control by AI or aliens? A port for plug-in augmentations? Or is it a sign of humans being replaced, as in my story “Detritus Affected”?

Moses was said to have had “horns” – though better translated as “lamps” – on his brows. From over-use of the prefrontal lobes? It’s got me palpating both places

Followup, see Jiayang Fan’s fascinating article on Remembrance of Earth’s Past, Liu Cixin’s epic trilogy and on the future and the rise of science fiction in China – and across the world.  


And these Science fiction adaptations are in development: We're going to see "Sirens of Titan", "Foundation", "Consider Phlebas", and "Ringworld" TV series shortly. It will be interesting to see what effect real SF will have on pop culture. It's like swapping out the bubble gum for caviar. Sirens of Titan? Wow.  Alas, that the Foundation guys never consulted me. I'm the expert! ;-(  At least according to the wonderful and recently-dearly departed Janet Asimov. Well, well. YOU can see how the saga eventually comes full circle, in Foundation’sTriumph. And by the way, I am only 5% grouchy about this. Classics of hard SF rock!

The folks working hard to make a retro fun TV series Space Command have just posted an updated first hour of the pilot.... and urge you to consider their Kickstarter campaign.

Speaking of things I predicted in (EARTH 1989) -- but in the hands of people, and less-so agents of the state: Here’s a commercial for China Mobile's new 5G glasses for police on his personal Sina Weibo account on Tuesday. In the video, a plain-clothed police officer quickly identifies and locks in on a wanted suspect in a crowded square through the 5G glasses' facial recognition function.  The policeman also uses the glasses' data services to see through the suspect's disguise, track him and map out capture routes by connecting the glasses to the city surveillance camera system. He even activates a 5G-enabling roadblock on the suspect's escape route.

Whole bunches of five star ratings for HEART OF THE COMET! One of the best (and most science-based) deep space adventure novels. More relevant than ever, as harvesting comets/asteroids enters the news. Time to plan this expedition?


J.Neil Schulman died August 10. We tussled often, but with respect, over matters like his fierce focus on a Rothbardist (quasi-Randian) interpretation of libertarianism. Still, he was a vividly passionate writer of interestingly off-axis fiction that always had a humorous and self-critical edge to it. I didn't know of his illness. We weren't close. But even though we clashed often, I feel my world is diminished. I'll miss the tussles, in fact. And if there's something left of him out there that's continuing onward, well. I can promise you it's right now very, very surprised! But I wish it well.

While remembering Neil Schulman... here's an article about the dangerous apocalyptic obsessions of many of our nerdy libertarian friends. Some of them rich enough to actually imagine they can escape sharing our fate by building colonies at sea or in high redoubts of Patagonia. I know several. They do not like hearing "Yes, but did you ever think of..." Come With Us If You Want to Live Among the apocalyptic libertarians of Silicon Valley By Sam Frank.

And Neil's fellow libertarian SF writer Brad Linaweaver. Omigosh. An Atheist-Randian rapture?

Also down memory lane:

Available for free download: Overview: Stories in the Stratosphere, a collection of near-future stories collected ASU: Center for Science and Imagination, edited by Ed Finn – with tales by Karl Schroeder, Brenda Cooper, plus one I collaborated on with Tobias Buckell. “Each story presents a snapshot of a possible future where the stratosphere is a key space for solving problems, exploring opportunities or playing out conflicts unfolding on the Earth’s surface.” It was sponsored by one of the new strato-balloon companies - World View - founded by Pluto pioneer Alan Stern. 

Let's finish with one minute of inspiring joy. Remember the cool Jetsons – reimagining by Arconic, two years ago?

208 comments:

1 – 200 of 208   Newer›   Newest»
Jon S. said...

I'm paywalled from seeing the WaPo article about those "horns", but if it's the same Australian article I saw a couple months back, they surveyed a population of around 300 young people, found two with those bony projections, then checked them for a certain genetic mutation known to cause such growths and didn't find it. On that rather flimsy basis, the researchers concluded that cell-phone usage was causing a Lamarckian change in teenagers.

So yeah, I wouldn't put a lot of stock in that one.

Rick Ellrod said...

As long as you've mentioned Foundation's Triumph -- as a Foundation reader since childhood, when I got to the end and saw how the perfect solution to the Gaia problem relied on a callback to something that had been present from the very beginning of the series, I thought that was a brilliant move, just utterly brilliant. :)

Rick

sociotard said...

Cop shooting at person filming from window
https://www.reddit.com/r/PublicFreakout/comments/d0flg5/cop_shoots_at_the_person_in_window_filming/

Zepp Jamieson said...

This just in: the Trump administration is investigating Volkswagen, Ford, Honda and BMW for antitrust because they have announced that they will continue to comply with California gasoline emission standards. Also, Trump somehow coerced a rear admiral into falsely claiming NOAA maps showed Dorian hitting Alabama. Dan Sobien, the president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, tweeted this in response: “Let me assure you the hard working employees of the NWS had nothing to do with the utterly disgusting and disingenuous tweet sent out by NOAA management tonight.” Monica Mednia, the former head of the NOAA, tweeted this: “I can say two things with certainty. No NOAA Administrator I worked for would have done this. And I would have quit if I had been directed to agree to let this BS go out.”
Robert Muwgabe might be dead, but his spirit lives on in the White House.

TCB said...

I've accepted that the reason Moses the Lawgiver has horns is something I will just never quite understand. I mean, horns are supposed to be bad, right? The devil has them. Saints have aureoles and halos. Just that one weird exception in the atrium of your local courthouse. I heard that they symbolize 'power', but again, nobody else has them. And does Charlton Heston have them in the Ten Commandments? No, but the Michelangelo does. Forget it, it's just one of those mysterious little cultural artifacts. The culprit is probably some scribe who lived 2500 years ago.

scidata said...

I too loved the ending of "Foundation's Triumph".

Grand and vast polities' fear of little chaos-humanity experiments is entirely justified. Which will absorb which is not written in stone.

scidata said...

Non-humans' longing for, and even love of, humanity is a powerful and ancient tale. Asimov's creation of, and Brin's expansion on, R. Daneel Olivaw, Star Trek TNG's Data and TOS's Spock, Clarke's Hal 9000, Asimov's Robbie, Collodi's Pinocchio, Shelley's monster, Prometheus, etc, probably reach all the way back into prehistory. On the surface it's often SF, but it's really the mirror of anthropology. An introspective, critical, and non-hubristic humanism is quite a lovely thing.

My lifelong fascination with computers results from those precious moments, sometimes months or even years apart, when I sense a brief flash of humanity behind the screens and solder smoke.

Larry Hart said...

TCB:

I heard that they symbolize 'power', but again, nobody else has them. And does Charlton Heston have them in the Ten Commandments?


No, but remember the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indy and the scholars are looking at an old drawing of Moses bringing down the ark, and Indy asks what those beams of light are emanating from his head? And the scholar answered something like "Lightning, fire, power of God..."?

I've heard that the idea that Moses had horns came from a misinterpretation of that sort of thing.

mollytherealdeal said...

Brad Linaweaver dead? After Trump's election, I am noticing so many people that I respected are dying. I love his novel "Moon of Ice", it was an alternative history of Germany wins World War 2 featuring Joseph Goebbels's rebellious daughter, Hilda. She was an interesting protagonist, probably much nicer person than the real one. In the end, she becomes a libertarian, just like the author. One message of the novel is to have hope for the future even after catastrophe, even when the bullies believe they have won.

locumranch said...


All of the secondary real world applications of science fiction pale in comparison to its primary purpose: To promote certain unpopular & subversive truths that contradict the prevalent societal narrative.

As mentioned in DB's Science & Popular Culture essay, the catastrophic social change of the late 1960s was made palatable by Star_Trek's first televised interracial kiss, Heinlein's 'Stranger in a Strange Land' tale of sexual utopianism and Delany's flamboyantly homoerotic 'Dhalgren'.

Other more cautionary tales were intended to serve as self-preventing prophecies, as in the case of the film 'Dr. Strangelove' and Harlan Ellison's 'Repent, Harlequin!', their over-riding theme being that the prevalent societal narrative is irredeemably flawed.

Unfortunately, this cautionary lesson now seems to be lost on our thoughtlessly progressive host, as his essays & fictions embrace and double-down on the prevalent societal narrative, especially in regards to his nonsensical affections for ubiquitous surveillance, otherwise known as 'How I learned to to stop worrying and love the surveillance state'.

I have railed against this mistaken idea of progress quite often and, until now, my words have fallen on deaf & rather partisan ears. I therefore offer you someone else's words, most specifically the words of the ambassador from Murray Leinster's 'The Pirates of Ersatz', published 1959:

"It is one of the most-avoided facts of life," said the ambassador.

"Government, in the local or planetary sense of the word, is an organization for the suppression of adventure".

"Taxes are, in part, the insurance premiums one pays for protection against the unpredictable".

"Do you realize that the whole purpose of civilization is to take the surprises out of life, so one can be bored to death? "

"That a culture in which nothing unexpected ever happens is in what is called its Golden Age?"

"(And) a Golden Age in any civilization is always followed by collapse".



Best

David Brin said...

Rick thanks. Few SF scholars and critics have even bothered to read FT, alas.

Sociotard, that’s why we need to film more!

TCB “horns” mistranslated “Lamps” which I have always taken to mean the prefrontal lobes.


Every now and then I grumble: "Okay THAT attack on Trump isn't completely fair." Does that shock you? Well I deem the reflex to always respond with the same volume of outrage and ridicule lessens our cred and agility! This "Sharpie-Gate" is an example. Clearly the original "might touch Alabama" tweet wasn't that awful, allowing for him being 48 hours late in looking at a fast-developing situation. Had his sharpie drawn a big ARROW following the course projected ten days ago, people would have seen his point. Dumb, because projections had shifted even by the tweet. But kinda understandable for a slow-witted grampa. Of course his behavior since has been that of a mentally ravaged and ever-angry, shouting maniacal grampa with nukes. But all the more reason to show indulgence when it might do a little good. Give this one a rest eh?

BTW any of you ever watch OUR CARTOON PRESIDENT? I love the scenes where he dives after the "football" briefcase with the nuclear codes, and the young officer clutches it, backing away with an expression of mortified horror. It sums up what every democrat should absorb, revising decades of never-apropos but not totally obsolete anti-military reflexes. We have been saved - literally - for 3 years by the dedication and care of our civil servants, law professionals, intel agencies and the US military officer corps. And it is veterans like Amy McGrath who offer our real chance to invade Red Districts and turn them. Get over your *$#! prejudices, you splitter bigots. These are our sons and daughters and protectors. And they are leaking away from their traditional crewcut conservative ties, so pounce on them with a love-offensive. Welcome them.

https://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2019/09/05/trump-sharpie-gate-mockery-jeanne-moos-vpx.cnn

Somespidey sense told me that this locum missive would somehow, after 3 months of insane spew, be worth reading. Oh it’s overall message is still a mutant funhouse mirror and noxiously wrong in almost every way. But it was cogently parsed and actually interesting, in its warped context. Yay vitamins! Welcome back. (Sort of.)

Jon S. said...

Dr. Brin, we'd all love to give the Sharpie thing a rest.

It's Donnie who's been driving it into the ground, apparently unable to tolerate anyone disagreeing with him over anything at any point. (See also today's revelation of a policy discouraging NOAA from issuing any statements that disagree with a Trump tweet in any way, said policy dating from Sept 1.)

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Few SF scholars and critics have even bothered to read FT, alas.


That's probably the consequence of the series being continued by anyone other than the creator. In the general case, such sequels seem to be irrelevant to the author's vision, and in more cases than not, that assumption seems accurate.


TCB “horns” mistranslated “Lamps” which I have always taken to mean the prefrontal lobes.


Heh. Don't you think "bolts of lightning" makes more sense in context, though? Or is that just the superhero comics reader in me?

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Give this one [Sharpie-ghazi] a rest eh?


Well, I have said all I had to say about it. I only chime back in when someone asserts that the outrage was his original tweet mentioning Alabama, whereas I see the outrage as the insulting way we're supposed to look at that black circle and go, "Oh, it was always there. I must have missed it the first time."

However, one thing to note--Benedict Donald shares a trait with others including Dave Sim (apologies for the comparison) that he simply cannot take what he dishes out on regular basis. Can you imagine what he'd be--don't get me started on his favored communication mode--tweeting, or for how long he'd be doing it, if Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren had done something similar? That alone contributes to the desire to dish right back, to make him and his followers notice the blatant hypocrisy. Of course, he'd just respond the way Homer Simpson did, or my daughter when she was about three years old: "I liked it better when it wasn't me they were making fun of."

scidata said...

Dr. Brin: Few SF scholars and critics have even bothered to read FT, alas.


Larry Hart: That's probably the consequence of the series being continued by anyone other than the creator. In the general case, such sequels seem to be irrelevant to the author's vision, and in more cases than not, that assumption seems accurate.

I never read anything beyond Asimov, although I have read the original trilogy many times, over many years. The last few times as more of a systems designer than as a literary fan or critic. Asimov was no Shakespeare, but "there are some ideas in those that'll set your f@cking hair on fire" as Jonathan Nolan put it. So I didn't want to read a non-Asimovian prequel, sequel, or sidestory that might dilute those ideas.

Dr. Brin came onto my radar some years ago, I think for some quotes about Asimov and SF. Strangely "Why Johnny Can't Code" was very influential on me yet I never made the connection!

I'm not a Brin sycophant. He's a 1984 type and I'm a BNW type. He and I see SETI quite differently. The whole Civil War theme is difficult and a bit troubling for me (I've come to the unsettling realization that some of my dearest relatives are confederates). But Dr. Brin is an Asimovian (skeptical optimist). There is no higher compliment in my book. I promote and discuss FT at every opportunity.

David Brin said...

Scidata UR cool!

Oh... har. Sharpie-ghazi! Let's have hearings!
Worth noting, NOAA is a uniformed service like the Coast Guard. Following orders may be a harder habit to break than at the Weather Service.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Give this one [Sharpie-ghazi] a rest eh?"

No. I know that on the surface, it seems like silly-season stuff, journalistic fluff, frivolous. But it's not. The Trump administration put out a directive to NOAA and NWS not to contradict the President on this or any other weather-related claims he's made or will make. What happens if next time Trump decides it's politically disadventageous to have a hurricane hit NOLA right now, and puts out a proclamation that the city has nothing to fear from the next Katrina, presently 300 miles out in the Gulf? And yes, he's capable of doing something like that. Meanwhile, the DNC tried to prevent candidates from focussing in global heating in any of their debates.
Don't forget the GOP is busily trying to erase all mention of climate change from the national scientific database. It makes it easier for Trump, backed by Big Oil, to threaten to sue automakers who state they will continue to meet California air quality and emissions standards, even though Trump's pet SC has ruled that they don't have to. Miss the second-stage smog alerts of the 70s, Doctor?
As a political scandal, it's very nearly perfect: the issues are simple, easy for anyone to understand, and the humour writes itself. Trump keeps scoring own goals--he's dragged out a 24 hour minor story into a week-long event simply because he is incapable of letting it go. I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "The tyrant fears ridicule more than the assassin's bullet." Trump, utterly humourless, cannot abide being mocked. So he's reacting with forced error after forced error.
Finally, your approach underscores why I have problems with centrist Democrats. Yes, you stand for all the right things. I saw your list of things ALL Democrats running for President believe, and among the significant candidates, I saw no areas of disagreement. And yes, when Democrats can win, they will fight for those things.
But when it doesn't look like they can win, they often won't fire a shot. Look how many Republican policies have gone into effect since 1980, and in a lot of cases, Democrats not only didn't put up a loud fight, but meekly went along. 19 out of 20 dollars in the deficit stem from GOP policies--tax cuts for the rich, military misadventures--but the GOP sucessfully blame Dems for the deficit simply because Dems didn't fight when they needed to. They still can't: Trump is obviously unfit and a danger to the country, and most of the DNC leadership are still shying away from any significant challenge to his rule.
The Democrats need to learn to stop fighting just when they can, and begin fighting because they must.

TCB said...

The NOAA/Sharpiegate kerfuffle reminds me, has anybody seen this video?

The Alt-Right Playbook: The Card Says Moops, referencing George Costanza on Seinfeld pedantically quoting a misprinted Trivial Pursuit answer card. In context, the answer is whatever helps the alt-right win the argument. If the facts are inconvenient, he makes up his own!

Any normal human would have said, "Sorry, that was an early possible storm track, never mind." A dictator, however, tells government employees "Whatever El Jefe Maximo says is your new truth!"

Going offtopic a bit, Garrett Epps writes, in The Atlantic, a better sourced version of the same basic historical take on the electoral college that I had commented here before.

The Electoral College Was Terrible From the Start:
It’s doubtful even Alexander Hamilton believed what he was selling in “Federalist No. 68.”

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Oh... har. Sharpie-ghazi! Let's have hearings!


I have to credit former radio host Norman Goldman for trying to get everyone to use -ghazi instead of -gate as a generic term to describe a scandal.

David Brin said...

Zepp you are full of it. I call for a degree of tactical judo in our polemic and you insist that anything but cranking histrionics to 11 100% of the time is betrayal. You are in no position to judge me. I fight this madness and treason far harder and more effectively any day than you have, across the last entire year.

Across the last 25 years, the dems were able to push through actual legislation over GOP fillibusters for 72 days, and yet those moderates you despise did plenty. Can you list it all, befor dismissing it as "nothing"?

---
Oh on FB I was idssed for misspelling "pus" as "puss." Puss... Pus... well ex-squeeeeeze me!

Zepp Jamieson said...

Wasn't judging you; was just disagreeing with you.
Have you ever asked why Democrats only got 72 days out of 25 years to accomplish anything at all?

David Brin said...

Aw baloney, Zepp. You blame corporatist compromiser-weasel democrats who don't stand for anything for being uninspiring. I blame pompous-preening splitterist whiners for flouncing about demanding nonexistent purity from mostly sincer DP pols who work hard, if the voters show up.

There is absolutely zero evidence for the splitterist position. EVERY seat that we took away from the GOP in 2018 was done by a crewcut or hairbun military vet who was able to talk to voters in those districts instead of yammering socialism at them, while remaining true to science, justice and dedication to government that actually works, instead of supply side rape.

That's every single seat that gave us control of the 6 committees ripping veils off Putinist treason. If we're united, with a big tent... letting AOC types primary control over deep blue districts while giving full support to McGrath types in swing area, we might get those 31 BASIC things done. And tell me, please, how the items on that shared consensus list is unimportant or just a gesture.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Well, yes, I do "blame corporatist compromiser-weasel democrats who don't stand for anything for being uninspiring." I admit I'm puzzled that you would want to wrap yourself up in such a description so you could take umbrage at it.
Since you are unable to debate the here-and-now issue of "Sharpie-ghazi" (nice one, LH!) let me point out that the 72 days of glory that the Dems take such pride in are a pale shadow of what the rest of the western world was able to accomplish over the past time frame. America has lost four paces for every pace gained over that time. And in a country where the electorate widely embraces the liberal positions you seem to consider too risky to fight for, you're puzzled that Democrats fail to lead and inspire?

David Brin said...

Zepp that rant was locumranch level sputum. There's not a sentence that's not contrived, disingenuous or outright lying.

I am not "wrapping myself" in a disparagement that spews from splitterist imbeciles.

Those 72 days show that dems frantically did a lot in the short time they weren't stymied by the greatest American treason since the 1860s. WHILE being hapmpered by 'allies' like you.

I would naturally pick apart all the sentences and phrases you used that are utter hogwash. But because it is utterly universal, there's no point in my wasting further time. I have work to do, and yes, any five minutes I do more against the madness than you do in a month, maybe a year.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"I would naturally pick apart all the sentences and phrases you used that are utter hogwash." And I naturally wish you would. Wild polemics are amusing, but not especially constructive.
I should point out that allies are not servants. I'm not a Democrat, haven't been for 15 years, and I should point out that preferring Democrats to fascists does not obligate me to embrace whatever it is you believe is the one and only position permitted by your "allies". Yes, my own opinions are closer to AOC's than to yours; she's a remarkable young woman who had persevered amazingly well in the face of GOP calumny and viciousness. You shouldn't take that personally, though.

David Brin said...

Blah blah de blah blah. I don't view AOC as an enemy but as a bright young captain or major in the Union Army and I wish her well. If her type wants to push more socialist approaches and primary old dems in safe districts, fine. My sole complaint is she believes her press and thinks she's already a general. But she will be one.

YOU are the one tearing apart the one alliance that might save the republic. You have utterly ignored every cogent point of FACT I raised, from the 31 shared goals to the 72 days those old dems got huge amounts done, to the harm done to us by Nader&Stein...

...all the way to writhing and evading facing the fact that it's crewcut democrats who are actually TAKING TERRITORY from the redders. Nor do you even try to deny how vastly vastly (and ten more) more productive and useful to the cause I am than you are.

So don't you try to suddenly pretend -- "where's the hostility coming from?" YOU are continuing it with shit... absolutely pure shit like the following:
"I should point out that allies are not servants."

You go get bent, you ... you... I need to go take a walk.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I trust you had pleasant weather for your walk. Autumn usually is SoCal's best season, I've always thought.
Now, you can blame Nader and Stein all that you want for your electoral disappointments, but I'll note that Gore couldn't even win his home state, and lost Florida on an improper decision by the SC led by justices that he himself voted for. Stein was and is an utter irrelevancy a meaningless sideshow who cost Clinton nothing. You might consider stopping trying to blame your losses on fringe candidates. It's a bit like saying your baseball team lost the Series because of that one loudmouth in the bleachers.
I note that the House is considerably more liberal than it was just six years ago, let alone in 2008. Younger, too. The crewcut codgers have seen their day. You have some Democrats in the Confederate south, and that's fine and good, and can often be counted on for party votes. But most will betray their party when it comes to the fights that need to be fought.

David Brin said...

Someone intervene with this jerk and warn him that his relentless evasions of the simplet challenge, in order to pour outrageous lies, are on the verge of getting him a time out.

"You might consider stopping trying to blame your losses on fringe candidates."

Cherrypicking from a long list in order to lie, lie, lie and lie.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Guys
I am 18 years out of full contact with America - so probably a bit out of date

But back at Bush 2's first election a LOT of people were basically saying "Both Parties are the same"
People like my boss - a smart guy with overall ideas and ideals like mine
Voted Bush because both were the same and Bush was going to be better for trail riders (a low priority but the only difference he saw)

Even at the time I thought he was mad - and he agreed a bit later

But even after Bush and now Trump the "Both parties are the same" meme is still alive

I think this is what Zepp wants to kill -

Both Parties are the same - is the BIGGEST and most effective GOP lie

Zepp Jamieson said...

Good heavens. Are you seriously looking for a sychophant to make your threats for you? How positively Trumpian of you!

I am curious: Could you point to anything I said that was an actual lie, as opposed to an opinion you didn't like?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Duncan: True dat. I'll be the first to say the two parties are nothing alike. The claim that they're 'just the same' still gets currency. About the only commonality is that they are both riven, although in different ways. I suspect the next major party will be an amalgamation of the never-Trumpers in the GOP, and the Codgers in the Democratic party.

Catfish 'n Cod said...

Deep breaths, everybody. In and out. We're on the same side here, even when it doesn't feel like it.

Zepp, I have friends of the same opinion as your last post, and I'm starting to believe it myself. NeverTrumpers + independents + moderate-corporate Democrats would be a viable and fairly ideologically coherent party, equivalent to "The Economist" Liberal-Democrats plus residually sane Tories in the UK. The GOP in this scenario would become a rump party akin to their forebears, the Dixiecrats. The Democratic Party would either split, with the left wing becoming the Democratic Socialists, or else the Democrats would move left and the new party would be the New Whigs or something of the sort.

By the by -- anyone want to comment or discuss the last week in British politics? BoJo and his Stephen Miller analogue, one Dominic Cummings, are trying to run the Trumpian playbook. It may be working temporarily in the polls, but the Tories are not taking lightly the hostile takeover of their party lying down the way US Republicans have. I've even heard speculation that their example just might jar a few RASRs here in the States.

-----

Also also -- on our host's original topic -- this New Golden Age of Television is incredible. Which series do you think will be done right, and which wrong? (A perennial dinner table topic of fans everywhere, I have found.)

Zepp Jamieson said...

Catfish 'n Cod: First off, I really like your avatar/sigal. Captures your nym perfectly!
As you suggest, the Dems have a division of their own, although when the time comes, I doubt it will have the violence and rage that I expect following the Trump implosion. Despite the strum and drang here this afternoon, I have no expectation that Democratic moderates and the left will become mortal enemies any time soon. The GOP, however, have some very ugly people in both the confederate and the libertarian camps.

I'm just writing a piece right now on this past fortnight in the old country: Here's how it begins.

"It is time that the United Kingdom and the United States re-merged into a single political entity. None of this master/colony business. This new Untied States of Clusterfuckistan would be all tail and no dog. No leaders, no followers; just large, mutually loathing loud packs of howling nuts.
The main difference between the two nations right now is that in the UK, there is a single voice of sanity, Commons Speaker John Bercow. His cries for “Orrrrrddeeerrrrr!” comes as close to logic and reason as is to be found. There are, of course, sane people in both Parliament and Congress, but it’s about as hard to make them out of the general din as it is to identify individual snowflakes in a howling blizzard.
The British Conservative Party recently made Boris Johnson their Prime Minister. Blojo, as he is colourfully known, is a Brexit hardliner who has been pushing for a ‘no-deal’ exit from the European Union, a move that would be catastrophic for the English economy and would, in fairly short order, lead to Scotland and Wales leaving the UK in order to rejoin the EU. As a result, the Tories have been exploding at the seams. Fourteen members, including the grandson of Winston Churchill, were thrown out of the party for not supporting a no-deal exit, and dozens more are leaving, defecting, and just generally going. Blojo’s brother was one of them.
One of the big sticking points is Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland is in the EU, and as long as the UK was also in the EU, the hated border between Ireland and Northern Ireland became an empty formality. There’s a rumour that Blojo is going to go to Dublin and propose reunification, which is a bit like hearing that Korea wants to become a duchy of China. I can’t imagine Blojo coming up with anything that would attract support of 10% of the population on either side of the border.
The UK is petitioning for yet another delay in Brexit while they continue to try to get themselves off the meat hook they seem to have sat themselves upon, but the French are threatening to stick to the Halloween deadline because they are fed up with the games Parliament is playing.
Britain has a long history, but it’s never been longer than it is right now. Nor is it likely to be much longer after right now."

Feel free to note any errors or omissions.

David Brin said...

That does it. Locum taught me how to do this. Nothing posted by that person will be read by me for a month or till he grows up a bit. I'll try not to skim. The rest of you are invited - not required - to do likewise but certainly to remind me if my good nature and aging memory let me slip. I hope he gets some vitamins, Because he was truly insane.

David Brin said...

Oh, can't help it. It's the "You want me to be your slave!" shrill whining that had me guffawing. What a snowflake tactic. Done.

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncross:

Even at the time I thought he was mad - and he agreed a bit later

But even after Bush and now Trump the "Both parties are the same" meme is still alive


Yes, it is still very much alive, although common sense and 16 years experience should have shown us otherwise. Same with "The government can't do anything competently."

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

I hate to get in the middle of a personal argument. Let me just for the record say I don't see what is making your gorge rise with Zepp.

I'm not the boss of you, and I certainly can't tell you how to conduct your own blog. For the record, though, I just don't see it.

I'm seriously getting a vibe like that very old "Simpsons" episode where baseball player Steve Sax gets pulled over by the police and every innocuous thing he says becomes reason for the cops to escalate. "You just don't know when to keep your mouth shut, do you, Saxie-boy?"

jim said...

Brad De Long was a member of the Obama administration and here is what he has to say about the strategy of the Obama administration ---

“Barack Obama rolls into office with Mitt Romney’s health care policy, with John McCain’s climate policy, with Bill Clinton’s tax policy, and George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy,”
And then these jack wagons wonder why the people who voted for hope and change did not show up to vote for a continuation of the republican status quo two years later.

Brad is an economist and he noted that the size of the recovery package was set by political expediency not by the need of the economy. It would have needed to be about 500 billion dollars higher, with a large chunk of the money going to the states to cover the short fall in state taxes.

And don’t forget that 51 senators could have changed the rules on the filibuster at any time, they chose to empower McConnell’s obstruction.

Larry Hart said...

jim:

“Barack Obama rolls into office with Mitt Romney’s health care policy, with John McCain’s climate policy, with Bill Clinton’s tax policy, and George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy,”
And then these jack wagons wonder why the people who voted for hope and change did not show up to vote for a continuation of the republican status quo two years later.


Like Clinton in the 90s, the thinking seemed to be that there is an unspoken acceptance of the Republican messaging about self-reliance and small government and "tightening our belt" to lower the deficit. Right or wrong, the thinking was that you couldn't disagree with those things too much without losing all but the most revolutionary progressives.

And the Tea Party was making its wrath known at the time.


Brad is an economist and he noted that the size of the recovery package was set by political expediency not by the need of the economy. It would have needed to be about 500 billion dollars higher, with a large chunk of the money going to the states to cover the short fall in state taxes.


Paul Krugman noted the exact same thing at the time, but understood that nothing more would get through Congress. Beside the Senate filibuster, there were also conserva-Dems who wouldn't vote for more of a stimulus. The whole "debasing the currency" thing.


And don’t forget that 51 senators could have changed the rules on the filibuster at any time, they chose to empower McConnell’s obstruction.


Back when the earth was still cooling in 2009, there was still respect for Senate rules and decorum. Neither party wanted to be painted as the one who broke those things. Only after it's been driven home that Republicans will break the Senate without a second thought if it helps them politically does it make sense to say Democrats might as well have done so when they had the chance. In 20-20 hindsight, there was nothing to lose, but I wouldn't have advised that course of action myself at the time.

Darrell E said...

Regarding the argument, from this outsider's perspective it looks like a classic male revenge feedback loop to me. Started with a perceived offense, which garnered an offense in return, and so on back and forth. I think Dr. Brin that you were too quick to take offense and that got the ball rolling.

Dr. Brin, I know you've admitted on numerous occasions to having a large ego, which is impressive to be able to do. I say this because I respect you, not to disparage. When you forcefully and frequently respond to criticism with "I do 'X' more than you ever do," it doesn't look good. Off-putting, uncomfortable, juvenile and uncharitable are words that come to mind. Having said that I also freely admit that you are often much more tolerant than I.

Darrell E said...

jim & Larry,

Not quite on topic but regarding the Great Recession and the government stimulus in response, it has always seemed to me that what really killed the economy, especially certain sectors, was the unwillingness of lenders to continue lending money. I owned a small business that was growing and profitable just before the crash. Unfortunately I was in a sector that was about the hardest hit. In 2007 I was on track to an early retirement by 2014 - 2018. By 2011 I was struggling to hold onto our house, which was the last thing of value we had left.

Like most businesses in any sector my business depended on regular loans. Lines of credit that were extended and paid back in a regular monthly cycle. Suddenly banks that we had been dealing with for years froze lines of credit that we had used for years. Not because of anything happening on our end, but because they decided to stop lending, because the lenders above them had, and the lenders of them had, and so on. So the people who hire the kind of businesses that contract with businesses like mine couldn't borrow money, and so on down the line. By 2009 our volume was .8% of what it was in 2007. That's not a typo. Point eight percent. Wouldn't have mattered if we'd had more volume anyway because we couldn't borrow the money necessary to do it.

The stimulus package did fuck-all for small and medium businesses like mine. The big financial corporations got their stimulus money but they didn't start lending like they were supposed to. Nothing trickled down. The gears didn't get greased. The day to day lending that makes all the gears go round, when that stops that's what brings the economy down and that's what needs to be stimulated in order for the economy to recover.

Zepp Jamieson said...

On the off change the Doctor is reading this:
"You want me to be your slave!" is a complete reworking of what I said, that leftists are your allies, not your servants.
I will say, and with no malice, that such a falsification is extraordinarily close to the tactics we see from locumranch, and I put the question: is that a place you really want to put your self?

Catfish 'n Cod said...

@Zepp: Twenty-one Tories were pitched out on their ears by BoJo for decrying his kamikaze trajectory. Among them were the grandson of Winston Churchill, the longest-serving MP (forty-nine years of loyalty rewarded with contempt), and people who mere weeks ago were Cabinet officers.

BoJo is reaping a small harvest in that he's halted the bleeding of loons into the Brexit Party by such tactics, but at the cost of fatally wounding the current incarnation of the Tories and resurrecting the LibDems after their own collapse from compromising with Cameron. Hence the intention by much of the Opposition to force the election to be after October 31: with the Brexit promise broken, the Brexit Party would resurge and the Tories complete their breakup. Of course, that assumes the EU grants another extension, and they are really tired of all the shenanigans.

jim is still operating in the world as it was before this decade. Not only does he ignore the effects of how Mitch (for the Senate), 45* (for the Presidency), Hastert and Ryan (for the House) and Hofeller (for everyone else) have destroyed even the hope of negotiated bipartisanship; he ignores how the effects of all these matters have massively rallied the youth vote and the Left to the point where even Beltway strategists are capable of noticing. He's winning and can't see it.

The paradigm from Bill Clinton through Hillary Clinton, from 1992 to 2016, was of coopting the center-right ideas from the Republicans and making them work in a center-left context. That engine is through: there are no center-right Republican ideas remaining to co-opt; they now kill their own idea-babies rather than risk them being stolen by Democratic sidhe. Leftism is now electorally viable once again, and is set to become more so as the Millennial generation reaches middle age and the iGeneration (aka GenZ) achieves majority. Both these generations will be as loyal to the left and center-left as the Greatest Generation was.

We just have to get through the next decade with government of the people, by the people, for the people still intact. If America is still America in 2032, the oligarchs are sunk... and some of them even know that.

@Darrell: By my observation, it simply isn't practical to target small businesses with any kind of government action: the paperwork burden inherently favors the resource-deep no matter how one tries. The correct action in my view is rather to target large businesses with breakups, penalties, taxes, restrictions, et cetera. There will be much howling at this, of course, and it's dangerous as it could be coopted... but laissez-faire is coopted much more easily.

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH: that very old "Simpsons" episode where baseball player Steve Sax gets pulled over by the police and every innocuous thing he says becomes reason for the cops to escalate. "You just don't know when to keep your mouth shut, do you, Saxie-boy?"

Wow! I -remember- that episode. Hilarious!

Sax did get a bit of a boot from life about midway through his career. He was a part of that vaunted Ddodger infield (and is you know who Sax is, I don't even have to name the other three) that are considered legends now.
But one summer, Sax hit a fielding slump. Most were mental errors-throwing to the wrong base, taking a second to watch a lead runner and missing an opportunity for a double play, that sort of thing. And some of his throws wound up in the dugouts, or even the outfield. One of the Dodger broadcasters started calling him "Second to None" and even though the slump ended and he reverted to his gold glove level of play, the nickname stuck.

Darrell E said...

Catfish 'n Cod said...

"@Darrell: By my observation, it simply isn't practical to target small businesses with any kind of government action: the paperwork burden inherently favors the resource-deep no matter how one tries."

Yes, I entirely agree. It is completely impractical. It wouldn't do any good either. Unless the problems upstream were fixed at the same time. What the small and medium businesses need to survive is simply to be able to borrow money on a day to day, month to month basis as they do in normal times. They don't need tax breaks (damn near worthless) and they don't need grants, which won't have any real benefit unless the blood flow is also restored.

What might actually help though is if the big financial guns, and each level below them, could actually be made to continue lending money as usual when they accept billions of dollars of taxpayer money. From what I understand in this recent "downturn" that was one of several conditions of accepting stimulus money. I don't think a single one of them honored that commitment, or most of the other conditions either.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Good analysis. The purge was inevitable once Phillips crossed the aisle to the Lib-Dems and Blojo lost his majority. I'm wondering how many of the purged will run for their seats, but not as Tories. Or how many of the seats will remain Conservative? The party has to be dreading the next election.

I think we'll have a clearer idea of the future of America by December 2020 and shan't have to wait until 2032. If Trump keeps office, we're done as a liberal western democracy.

Who's Jim? The fellow who posts here?

Larry Hart said...

Darrell E:

The stimulus package did fuck-all for small and medium businesses like mine. The big financial corporations got their stimulus money but they didn't start lending like they were supposed to. Nothing trickled down. The gears didn't get greased.


That's exactly the problem. The bailouts were designed to make sure the rich and powerful didn't take a hit, not to undergird the economy as a whole.

For example, when mortgages were defaulting right and left because banks had lent to people who couldn't possibly pay, stimulus money could have been used to pay off or pay down those loans. But we couldn't have that, so instead the stimulus money went to the lenders themselves to offset their losses. Which left millions of properties in default, requiring evictions and leaving the banks with properties on their books which were difficult to re-sell. It was classic trickle-down, Supply Side thinking that said take care of those at the top, and all else will follow. In fact, all else would have followed if we took care of those at the bottom. When you take care of those at the top, then they don't care what else happens.

jim said...

Catfish
There is a good chance the democrats will take over the federal government in 2020.
WE will see what the democrats actually do. My guess is that we will get something that rhymes of 2009 and 2010 .

Just look at what a wonderful job the Democrats in the house are doing investigating Trump.
From the rhetoric they spout: he is the most dangerous threat to the country.
From the actions the democrats are taking, Trump looks like a typical republican.
I mean seriously, everyone who has ever investigated Trump has found tons of illegal stuff. The fact is that the Democrats in the House have done a truly pathetic job on the investigations.

And in the Senate, old Chucky Schumer is doing his best to make sure that no new progressives win primaries to face off against republican senators.

I hope I am wrong but I think that the democratic party is still very much controlled by its corporate wing and if they get back in power the most you can hope for is a return to the status quo of the Obama years. Then after 4 years we will get a more competent American Caesar and an unofficial end of the republic.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/05/opinion/trump-economy.html

...

To be fair, however, some kinds of business do thrive under Trumpism — namely, businesses that aren’t in it for the long run, operations whose strategy is to take the money and run. These are good times for mining companies that rush in to extract whatever they can, leaving a poisoned landscape behind; for real estate speculators sponsoring dubious ventures that take advantage of newly created tax loopholes; for for-profit colleges that leave their students with worthless degrees and crippling debt.

In other words, under Trump it’s springtime for grifters.

But to say the obvious, these smash-and-grab operations aren’t the kinds of business we want to thrive. Put it this way: Remaking the U.S. economy in the image of Trump University isn’t exactly making America great again.

jim said...

Zepp
I am a member of the People’s Front of Judea – you know the ones really fighting against Roman oppression. Unlike those Roman appeasers in the Judean’s Peoples Front

Catfish 'n Cod said...

@jim: Thank you for describing the game plan for the enemies of the Republic. Now do you have a plan to avert it? Or are you going to sit back and let it happen?

There are clearly non-corporatist Democrats in the running. Even if they don't win the nomination they can extract concessions from the one who does. That is how an actual party operates, as opposed to a shambling mind-controlled horde. Make the deals that will get us through.

We don't have to make everything happen at once, just enough to make plain where the security and prosperity lie. Remember, most of the things FDR tried in the thirties *failed*. But he failed fast enough to find the right ones and succeed. That's what we have to empower the winner in 2020 to do:

(a) show the power of the rising electorate in the primaries;
(b) make a grand bargain at or before the Democratic Convention in 2020;
(c) defend that bargain against all subversive attempts to destroy it -- and both domestic and foreign actors WILL attempt that, 100% certainty;
(d) elect the nominee -- otherwise this is all pointless; and
(e) empower them to get as much done as possible with as friendly a Congress as possible -- including folks that represent ALL wings of the party; and then
(f) make sure they stick to the most important things -- of which the TOP ONES must be electoral reform to stop the cheating, followed by acting dramatically against inequality. A few simple actions that are WELL within the left's comfort zone will make a HUGE difference to zones falling out of favor with Trumpism. Trust-bust Big Agriculture. Act against foreign buy-up of farming. Prosecute people conspiring to break labor laws. A new TVA effort to bring broadband to dying towns, so they can become mini-tech hubs. Some components of the Green New Deal.

It's not rocket science and it's not impossible. Democratic politicians are not so fundamentally wedded to capitalist ideology; when they are bought it is with the means to secure elections. Provide them a way to get elected *without* that money and most of them will take it.

But you don't get there by being a splitter.

Larry Hart said...

Another reason the progressive strategy might work better than the "peel off angry white men" strategy:

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2019/Pres/Maps/Sep09.html#item-7

...

But the political calculus is more complicated than that. As we have harped on before and will harp on again, control of the Senate is exceedingly important, almost as important as winning the White House. If you are a Democrat, having Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) keep his job and tell President Biden that he [McConnell] alone is going to choose the entire cabinet, all judges, and all Supreme Court justices, is not a pleasant thought. If you are a Republican, the idea that President Sanders can actually carry out his entire program based on a series of 51-49 votes in the Senate is scarier than Halloween, even with the added attraction of Brexit this year (maybe).

For better or worse, the two issues, rust belt vs. sun belt and control of the Senate, are related. Most of the competitive Senate races are in the sun belt, including Arizona, North Carolina, Georgia, and (arguably) Colorado. Colorado isn't exactly sunbelty but like the sun belt states, has a diverse population and very few decrepit, rusty, mothballed factories like Ohio, Michigan, and surrounding states. Maine is also a key race, but it is in neither belt. Having a candidate who motivates millennials and minorities to vote (the sun belt strategy) helps in Senate races much more than having one who grudgingly gets the votes of the blue-collar workers in the Midwest.

Arizona and Colorado are the Democrats' best Senate pickup opportunities. Appointed senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) was rejected by the voters last year and the Democrats now have a stronger candidate than then-representative now-senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) in the person of astronaut Mark Kelly. McSally is no doubt sweating bullets. In Colorado, popular former two-term governor John Hickenlooper has the edge over Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO). With the upcoming resignation of Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), the GOP may be fielding a newbie senator who hasn't run statewide and who may face a primary. This race will be hard-fought, as will the other Georgia seat, in which Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) is going for a second term. In North Carolina, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) is underwater in the polls. None of these competitive races are in the rust belt. This means that a presidential candidate whose primary appeal is to the older white men in the rust belt doesn't help much with the Senate but one whose appeal is to the more diverse voters of the sun belt definitely helps with the Senate.

...

Larry Hart said...

But apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public 'ealth, what have the Democrats ever done for us?

jim said...

Catfish
I will be shocked if the democrats get public financing of elections and reduce inequality.

To get public financing of elections you must beat back entire Washington lobbing industry. Public financing of elections is a direct blow to their power and influence. The bankers, Hollywood and the Israel lobbies will make sure democrats don't empower those deplorable, racist, sexist, MAGA hat idiots just because they are American voters. And the NRA, the Chamber of Commerce, the oil industry and defense industries will make that republicans don't empower blacks, feminists, and socialists.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Jim: "I am a member of the People’s Front of Judea"

-I- am a member of the Judea's People Front! Thou art a blasphemer!

David Brin said...

jim: "I hope I am wrong " No you don't. You wallow in your fantasy santimony and would utterly refuse any amount of evidencve that you are both unfair and a detriment to the cause you claim to espouse.. I have already provided that evidence, in a tsunami and all you can do is weasel, like a confederate faced with an actual fact wagher.

If you were sincere, you'd get behind making those 31 BASIC CONSENSUS GOALS both a unifier for 2020 and a death sentence for anyone who impeded them, in 2022. THAT would make sense for a left-demo. A sincere winner for the left would see that ALL of the gains made in 2018 were made by the blue dogs, so WHILE you primary old dems in b,ue districts you would ALSO support the same type invading enemy territoty.

But you aren't just insincere. you are dumb. And no help at all.

David Brin said...

et tu LH? Crap either-or splitter bullshit like: "Another reason the progressive strategy might work better than the "peel off angry white men" strategy:"

We need a wide front offensive across the board. While being bitten and harried by ankle biter puritans.

David Brin said...

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2019/Pres/Maps/Sep09.html#item-7 is one long series of magical incantations and just so stories. You want to get rid of that traitor putin-bitch Moscow Mitch. Look up Amy McGrath. And show me one Santa Monica leftist who would either do better or be better than her.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: E-V is right in that control of the Senate is essential. Current polling (and 13 months ahead of the election, is not reliable) shows Dems picking up 3-4 seats, which would give them a slim majority in the Senate.
One race that, handled properly (and won, of course) would be Kentucky. McConnell usually wins by about a 15 point margin, thinner than you might expect for a ranking member of the Senate. Right now the leading Democratic contender seems to be Amy McGrath. If she wins the primary in May, the Dems have to pour everything they can into that race, making it clear that the nation cannot survive another six years of McConnell's fascistic, hypocritical obstructionist tactics. Defeat him (and it's doable) and not only is it an extra seat in the Senate, but other Republicans might think twice about the take-no-prisoners approach to GOP governance.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

et tu LH? Crap either-or splitter bullshit like: "Another reason the progressive strategy might work better than the "peel off angry white men" strategy:"


Well, I'd like to do both. As opposed to only going after angry white men.

Larry Hart said...

And I am sending Amy McGrath money.

I also sent money to Allison Lundergan Grimes the last time McConnell's seat was in play. IIRC, she kinda blew it by running away from anything good President Obama did. Which might well have seemed like good strategy in Kentucky at the time, but didn't turn out to be.

What lesson do we take from that? (NOT a rhetorical question, btw)

David Brin said...

WHERE did I ever call for that? I know how lost most RASRs are, down pits of rationalization and fox incantations. But each ONE of them we yank back to reality (and I have done many) comes with a huge MULTIPLIER in money, influence and volcanic fury at the Putinists.

Moreover, for every ten obstinate white male redders, there are fiv wives, sisters etc who remain officially goppers but who are listening and seething.

Meanwhile, exactly is the lafty scenario? "Ooh! If we tell white working class folks whose parents loved FDR that they are racists! And should drop all old symbols and loyalties in favor of full tilt socialism (yippee!) that is gonna work great!

Except show me an example. One. Example. Of. That. Ever. Having. Actually worked. In. This. World.

David Brin said...

Typin in an airport departure lounge brings out my wrathful side, okay.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"What lesson do we take from that? (NOT a rhetorical question, btw)"

Democrats cannot win in conservative regions by trying to be Republican-lite. They may also lose running as Dems, but why vote for a "me-too" candidate when you can vote for the real thing?
Poll after poll shows that things like universal health access, minimum wage increases, and better working conditions are popular.

jim said...

So David what did those blue dog democrats do once they got into office this year?

House oversight is a sick joke.

So they spend their days dialing for dollars. in other words looking to do favors for the wealthy and powerful so they can get more money for their reelection campaign.

jim said...

If Amy McGrath had the sense God gave kittens she would be down in Harlan with the coal miners who have had their wages stolen by coal company. The miners have taken direct action and are blocking a coal train from leaving.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

WHERE did I ever call for that? I


I can only guess that "that" is "only going after angry white men". If so, I didn't mean that you were calling for that. I meant that Democratic strategists seem to think that that's all they have to do to win.

The electoral-vote.com piece was meant to argue that even if one thinks it's an either-all thing, either angry white men or progressive lefties, that progressive lefties might be the better strategy. Me personally, I'd like to target both groups (and others) depending on the local district or state.

Please, I beg you not to turn into Dave Sim, who railed against feminism by claiming that it ostracizes anyone who doesn't capitulate to its demands 100%, all the while himself ostracizing anyone who didn't capitulate to his demands 100%. I could almost have believed it was an intentional joke. "Here", I expect more room for dialectic. Heck, I might even end up changing my mind.

matthew said...

Dr. Brin, I strongly suggest you re- read your last few comments and then take your own advice about taking a time out.
I disagree strongly with your adopt-a-RASR strategy, that's no secret to anyone that's been here for years. But, while I think it's wasted on the altar of tribalism, I don't think you're stupid or treasonous or trying to split a coalition. Please give the same respect I give your ideas- attack the idea, not the person that voices it.
Your attacks on your allies are becoming a problem. Not your allies *ideas*. Attacks on your allies.

Take a breather, man, and then come back and show why your ideas are better. Not why *you* are better. See the difference?

A.F. Rey said...

Sounds like the 31 BASIC CONSENSUS GOALS should be another "Contract with America:" priorities for the party, with whatever socialist improvements the particular Democratic candidate brings with him (or her) as the stretch goals. I could see that selling well on the purple plains. :)

matthew said...

Oh, and I give Amy McGrath money too, LH. Big tent and all.

To my progressive allies, look at where the mainstream of the Democratic Party is right now compared to four years ago. Don't split apart our coalition when *we're winning the argument*! Dr. Brin is correct that now is not the time for purity tests. Strategy, people! Blue dog- types, same goes for you. DON'T SPLIT THE COALITION!

Remember that the #1 goal of Russian electoral interference is not to support Trump. It is to break alliances, both national and political. Don't be a useful idiot to the damn Russians just for the sake of an indignation high!

Larry Hart said...

@matthew,

I wish more Democrats would treat the primaries as a method of selecting a winning candidate in November, rather than a method of sticking the party with their preferred candidate for a perfect world where that candidate didn't have to win another election.

At this point, I can't think of any way that any Democrat would be "no different from Trump". Even if a Democrat is completely stymied by the Senate, that's still better than Trump enabled by the Senate. And that's the absolute worst case.

My cat would make a better president than Trump. And he's eligible too. None of the usual restrictions apply to him, just to persons. Look it up.

duncan cairncross said...

About the Stimulus
Economists all know that Tax Cuts are the LEAST effective way of doing a stimulus - you get much more bang for the buck simply giving money to the poor - or even just giving money to every American citizen

Larry Hart said...

One problem that explains the seeming contradiction that the electorate favors progressive plans, but the politicians seem to be stuck on corporatist ones. Politicians are often more concerned with the demands of their donors more than those of their voters. The two constituencies have very different agendas.

This was especially evident with the 2017 tax fiasco. No one in the general public, including Trump's Brownshirts were pushing for it, but the Koch Brothers and other megadonors warned the Republican politicians that if they didn't get tax breaks done, there would be no more money spigot. That's a sad state of affairs, but it didn't surprise me. What really did surprise me was that the Republican congresspeople seemed to believe their own propaganda and thought that the tax bill was something popular that they could run on in 2018. And they were caught by surprise that it wasn't a winning campaign issue.

Maybe 2018 taught them that pleasing their donors doesn't necessarily get them elected. Maybe.

Bob Neinast said...

Our host has extolled the virtues of the crew cut and hairbun candidates. How about ex-CIA? (For a New Mexico House district.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICW-dGD1M18

Zepp Jamieson said...

Jim: Turns out she's smarter than the average kitten, at least. She's there.
https://www.wymt.com/content/news/Sleeping-on-train-tracks-unemployed-miners-enter-one-month-without-pay--513471881.html

Zepp Jamieson said...

Your cat is 35 years old? Day-um. None of mine ever made it past 24.

duncan cairncross said...

Talking about lobbyists and donors remember this

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/perspectives-on-politics/article/testing-theories-of-american-politics-elites-interest-groups-and-average-citizens/62327F513959D0A304D4893B382B992B

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.

And that was data from BEFORE "Citizens United"

TCB said...

Valerie Plame is running for Congress and her campaign ad is EPIC.

TCB said...

Ooops, someone just posted that one.

duncan cairncross said...

Great campaign add - all it would have needed to make it perfect would have been to have used a Tesla instead of a Chevy

David Brin said...

Does this moron even listen to himself? "So David what did those blue dog democrats do once they got into office this year?"

THEY HAVE ISSUED SUBPOENAS FOR EVERYTHING. And for the 1st time in the history of the republic an administration has completely stonewalled. And John Roberts is now deciding whether to fling us toward violent civil war.

You seen to think just because you can prren some putzy "I'm so pure I don't need allies prissiness that makes you MORE RADICAL OR DETERMINED TO FIGHT than me, despite the fact that I have fought this increasing madness vastly harder and more ffecively -- you moderate coalition builder me -0 in any week than yoiu have across any year. Or your life.

I know men and women who you'd sneer at who have saved the nation for you. And if this goes to civil war, they will be the ones who save it.

Matthew I appreciate that you want to sound wise and calm. And bullshut. These guys have deliberately and repeatedly tried to cram beliefs into my mouth that they kniow I would find lowthesome. It's not that they are splitters. It's that they absolutely refuse to even look at the incredible mountain of evidence that their hate is illfounded and very likely to cost us terribly. But again, it is the absolute evil lying about what *I believe* that shows what vileness lurks in their nasty heats.


Alfred Differ said...

Zepp Jamieson,

Democrats cannot win in conservative regions by trying to be Republican-lite. They may also lose running as Dems, but why vote for a "me-too" candidate when you can vote for the real thing?

Maybe. Depends on how dejected the local Democrats are. In many districts they can't win either way.

Poll after poll shows that things like universal health access, minimum wage increases, and better working conditions are popular.

Popular... until we get into the details concerning 1) how to pay for it and 2) how rationing is to occur since there is never enough tax money to be taken to pay for it all.

Popular... yes. Popular enough to create a majority that can govern and collect all the money to pay for it all? No. Not a chance anywhere except deeply blue, progressive districts... which are in the minority.



You guys really don't have enough people to form a governing majority.
Seriously. You need allies to form a majority and that means people who aren't as enamored with some of the suggestions for universal health access, minimum wage increases, and better working conditions let alone UBI and single payer health care systems.

Alfred Differ said...

I'll remind you guys that our host is in the middle of writing a book about polemics. If you aren't helping out by reading and commenting it, you are missing out on a show. I don't think his cantankerousness is just from those small airport chairs and over-crowded boarding areas. What you see here is probably spill-over from being in his writing groove.

He will need a pulpit he can smash to tiny bits when he speaks. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

Darrell E,

This here hopeless romantic used to work in the financial industry, so you might think I would have lost that inclination by now. I've seen the Mexican Peso burp, the Russia Ruble collapse, SE Asia panic, and then the big monster that chewed us up in 2008. One consistent lesson I learned from all of them is people don't realize how interconnected finance is. Mistakes in that industry can do more damage than a nuclear reactor meltdown. Really. Measure the dollar impacts. Much more damage.

The primary thing that they share in common is bond buyers go home. Since they are the primary acceptors of debt... no new debt is created and old debt becomes illiquid. That creates a frickin' disaster. Illiquid assets have unknown values, hence unknown risks are involved. Kaboom! More people take what money they have left and go home to their fall-out shelters.

This is very easy to predict in the 'it will happen' sense, but not in the 'when it will happen' sense. Bond buyers make a little bit of money when things go well and risk losing it all when things go pear shaped. They SHOULD be paranoid, but occasionally they get stupid, misjudge their risks, find out later, and then over-react. For the 2008 debacle, they did not correctly understand the risks behind certain mortgage derivatives partly because the rating agencies had a conflict of interest that led to rosy risk reviews.

Stock investors correct for stupid evaluations too, but they are more used to it. Their corrections involve 5% to 20% hits typically. Bond buyers just go home and take the ball with them and we have to find a way to coax them back into the game.

(It's not enough to get big companies lending money. It's really about the bond markets.)

gregory byshenk said...

Larry Hart said...
I wish more Democrats would treat the primaries as a method of selecting a winning candidate in November, rather than a method of sticking the party with their preferred candidate for a perfect world where that candidate didn't have to win another election.

The problem with this arguemnt is that, particularly in the current climate, it is not at all obvious which is the "winning candidate in November".

Conventional wisdom is that one should choose a safe, middle-of-the-road candidate. But the last few elections have demonstrated, I think, that the conventional wisdom is not necessarily to be relied upon, and so following may result in a losing candidate. Of course, not following the conventional wisdom is no guarantee of success, either. But, as noted several times in comments above, there are multiple possible routes to a "winning candidate".

duncan cairncross said...

Whoo
I have just read Dr Brin's draft - I don't have MS word and I don't consider myself skilled enough to make actual changes so I will put my impressions here

First - most important a chapter on "Positive Sums" -
Explaining how deals, trades and everything can be "positive sum" - I believe that most things can be positive sum but I don't know how to concisely explain that - and I do know that a LOT of people are stuck firmly in the "Zero Sum" mindset

The chapter on "Splitters" needs to be nearer the front

The "do nothing" congress - can you get a chart of subpoenas to use as a measure of how much/little work was done

I think that the bit on your solution to Gerrymandering was too long

Liberals as "Nags"
I used to work on manufacturing improvement - there was one disheartening issue - we never felt like we got much done
What I found was that once we had fixed something it became "we did that AGES ago"
We did a "celebration" we tied balloons to every machine and station that we had made improvements to that year
It was VERY impressive - a sea of balloons

You need to done something similar to achievements that have been made - maybe along with the "Splitters" chapter

That's all I can think of so far

I will read it again and think a bit more - and I'm really looking forward to buying and reading the E-Book

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Your cat is 35 years old? Day-um. None of mine ever made it past 24.


No, he's 3.

See, the Constitution never specifies a universal set from which presidents must be chosen. All of the conditions are stated in the negative--who is not allowed to be president. And all of them quite specifically state which persons are not allowed to be president. Not being a person, my cat is not ineligible, and is therefore eligible.

Article II, Section 1 (emphasis mine) :

...
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
...

Larry Hart said...

The first No Person should also have been bolded. How'd that happen?

Larry Hart said...

@TCB, re Valerie Plame.

OMG! She's got my vote, even though I don't live in New Mexico. I've always wanted to see Taos. Maybe when my daughter goes to college, I'll move there and vote for her.

Larry Hart said...

gregory byshenk:

The problem with this arguemnt is that, particularly in the current climate, it is not at all obvious which is the "winning candidate in November".


That's why I said I wish the primary process was used to just that purpose, debates and media interviews and such during which time the party figures out who is most likely to win. That might have been the original intent of the primary system, but it doesn't work that way now. It works (or "works") more like my old dorm floor who voted on the slogan for our floor t-shirt: "We're Allen 2 North -- So Fuck Off!". And then no one actually wanted to buy the t-shirt when that time came.

Maybe some years, it's obvious from the start that a Democrat (or a Republican) will be the next president, and all the party has to decide is which of them gets the honor. Or maybe which of them is so terrible a candidate that she's capable of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and so should not be the candidate. But in close years like this one, the choice of candidate really will make the difference between winning and losing. What good is a "perfect", pure candidate who can't win the office? 2016 should be a wake up call. We (Democrats) need to be figuring out who we can live with who can actually win. And I don't think we're doing that.

And the same applies at the congressional and state-level races.

Larry Hart said...

Sharpie-related memes:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/jonmichaelpoff/trump-hurricane-dorian-map-sharpie-meme

jim said...

Positive Sums

Are you going to propose a methodological process for determining if a set of activities is actually positive sum or not? Because there seems to be a whole lot of very difficult problems that need to be solved. Here are just a few from the top of my head:

How do you ensure that all of the costs and benefits are included?

How do you handle the accounting when the benefits go to one person but the cost go to another?

What do you do when there is a large short-term gain but a small cumulative negative impact?

Over what time scales do you do the evaluation?

How do you handle the fact that different people value things differently?

Do you squash things that are incommensurate into a unidimensional scale? (example how much money or how many kilowatts of electricity is your mother’s love worth?)

Or are you just going to use the term “positive sum” as a rhetorical club to beat those who disagree with you?

gregory byshenk said...

Larry Hart
We (Democrats) need to be figuring out who we can live with who can actually win. And I don't think we're doing that.

The problem I see is not that there is something wrong with the primaries (though I have an argument that there is something wrong), but that "figuring out [...] who can actually win" may well not be possible, at least if that involves choosing one such candidate.

Lots of people thought Obama couldn't win, and that Trump couldn't win.

The problem is that the social (media?) and political landscape is so fragmented, and there are so many "unknown unknowns" that such predictions may not be justifiable (any one of a number of minor changes - many of then not under the control of the candidate or party - could have resulted in the election of Hilary Clinton in 2016 rather than Donald Trump). Add to this the fact that there are multiple paths to victory (among the obvious poles: appealing to the RASRs or getting out the vote among younger voters) - and choosing "who is likely to win" may well end up a fool's errand.

Even worse: choosing the "safe" and "likely to win" candidate may end up mean choosing someone more likely to lose.

Larry Hart said...

@gregory byshenk,

I take your point, and maybe where I'm going is more like this--I wish the nominating process worked more than it does to produce consensus among the party voters. When the nomination is complete, we should be at the point where we are saying, "Ok, whether or not this is my preferred choice, he/she is the candidate my party has chosen to represent us, and I can get on board with that."

Instead of "My candidate was robbed! Why should I vote for the one who robbed him?"

Larry Hart said...

Paul Krugman is paying attention:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/09/opinion/trump-democracy.html

...
Why is this frightening? Because it shows that even the leadership of NOAA, which should be the most technical and apolitical of agencies, is now so subservient to Trump that it’s willing not just to overrule its own experts but to lie, simply to avoid a bit of presidential embarrassment.

Think about it: If even weather forecasters are expected to be apologists for Dear Leader, the corruption of our institutions is truly complete.

Which brings me to a much more important case, the Justice Department’s decision to investigate automakers for the crime of trying to act responsibly.

...

The point is that this is how the slide to autocracy happens. Modern de facto dictatorships don’t usually murder their opponents (although Trump has been fulsome in his praise for regimes that do, in fact, rely on brute force). What they do, instead, is use their control over the machinery of government to make life difficult for anyone considered disloyal, until effective opposition withers away.

And it’s happening here as we speak. If you aren’t worried about the future of American democracy, you aren’t paying attention.

Jon S. said...

Doctor, I understand perfectly your frustration - it's why I shrouded locoranch and the ent long ago, and jim more recently. Some folks want to "discuss" things half to death, while giving every indication that they have no intention of arguing in good faith.

However, you're letting yourself become a little vitriolic lately - unnecessarily so, in my opinion. Perhaps you need to step back, take a breath, maybe let a day or so go by before looking back in here? It's certainly not doing your blood pressure any favors, and we need to keep guys like you around for a while.

Zepp, you used to be more reasonable. But you're edging close to the level of candidate purity tests that jim insists on. Please think your position through, and be sure that's where you mean to be. Perhaps you are becoming That Guy, or perhaps your (completely justified) concerns over the upcoming election cycle are beginning to interfere with your ability to express yourself clearly. (If the latter, I can definitely empathize - just thinking about the Orange Skull can reduce me to muttering epithets at times, which is why I try to laugh at things like Sharpieghazi and #PresidentPussyAssBitch as much as I can.)

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

I try to laugh at things like Sharpieghazi and #PresidentPussyAssBitch as much as I can


If you haven't already done so, check out the link about 5 or 6 comments up about Sharpie memes.

scidata said...

In the video "What will the monkeys do?", at 6:08 is a clip of Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto with the line: "if you can think as a collective without losing individuality". That is the spot where I sat and read much of "Foundation's Triumph" earlier this year.

I've recently complained about what a slow reader I am. There is, however, one saving grace in this. At certain points, time slows down almost to the speed of that butterly scene in "Star Trek: Insurrection" where Anij reveals the true nature of reality to Picard. In those precious moments, the book becomes as real as the pavement under your feet. Indeed, at some of those moments, the science fiction world seems more real than this one, at least less fleeting. Unlike MAGA, which is about a cowardly reversing of time and even lying about it, SF is about savouring time, and embracing change as natural, beautiful, and brave.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"In many districts they can't win either way."

Yeah, I know. I live in one of those districts: California second. The Dems keep running me-too candidates, and often as not the local Democrats don't know who the hell they are. The one time they ran a guy who actually vociferously ran on a Democratic ticket, he finished five points behind, instead of the usual 15, but the Dems didn't take the hint.
They keep going for the "safe" candidate, with the result that it's a safe district--for Republicans.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Zepp, you used to be more reasonable. But you're edging close to the level of candidate purity tests that jim insists on."

Hmm. If I'm issuing "purity tests" perhaps you could tell me what those tests are. I just got done arguing yesterday that Dems needed to go all in for Amy McGarth in Kentucky, and yes, she is a centrist. I liked the Valerie Plame video so much I passed it along to my own readers' list, and she's CIA; think she's a boutique liberal?

However, and this is a big however, Dems have to stand for something. I'm not interested in wasting my time on surrender monkeys who will give away the store the first time a Republican fascist looks crosseyed at them. I will never support any Democrat who thinks its OK that Trump is actively destroying America's scientific community, throwing children in concentration camps, or pissing away American middle class values because it's not strategically viable to do so.

I would say that if you think standing for these basic rights and values is some sort of "purity test" then I suggest that you have lost your way. Have you?

David Brin said...

“Poll after poll shows that things like universal health access, minimum wage increases, and better working conditions are popular.”

Poll schmoll. Show me the ELECTIONS WON by finger-wagging socialists shouting “you’re all racists!” at the white-worker voters who control the nation’s fate. Show me the territory taken from the Red Treason by those screeching at “DINOs!”

Those polls have meaning and they reflect in my list of 31 consensus goals and in the vigorous activity of your hated DINOS in DC during those 72 days… and in WA, CA, OR right now… right… now… states that aren’t playing according to your fantasy but actual actual liberal-pragmatic politics. But no. Never look at what actually works.

“Conventional wisdom is that one should choose a safe, middle-of-the-road candidate. But the last few elections have demonstrated, I think, that the conventional wisdom is not necessarily to be relied upon, and so following may result in a losing candidate.”

More magical incantations. Again LOOK AT WHERE WE TOOK TERRITORY! We took it with fierce, vigorous, inspiring and determined “middle-of-the-road candidates.” Will you please can the theory and look at actual actual actual ervents in this actual actual world?

“Or are you just going to use the term “positive sum” as a rhetorical club to beat those who disagree with you?


It’s what you perceive because it’s what you do.
While some of your questions are worthwhile in themselves… it is you whom I deep not worth my time, a deeply dishonest person, who evades the core comparison: I fight vastly harder and more effectively. You are just a lazy-whiner.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"See, the Constitution never specifies a universal set from which presidents must be chosen."

Yeah, I was being tongue in cheek. No disrespect to your cat intended.

I joked during the 2016 campaign that Ted Cruz, who was born in Alberta, qualified for president because while Canadian, he was not a person.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

"See, the Constitution never specifies a universal set from which presidents must be chosen."

Yeah, I was being tongue in cheek. No disrespect to your cat intended.


Actually, as a good liberal, I have to admit when I am wrong.

Article II of the Constitution doesn't specify who is eligible to run for president (only which persons are not eligible to run), but a little further up, it does indeed specify that the Electors have to vote for persons.


The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each;


So my cat couldn't receive any electoral votes, and therefore couldn't win the election, despite being eligible to run.

The Twelfth Amendment, which tweaks the rules a bit, is no help, although I at first thought it might be:

The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President,
...


The first clause seems to eliminate the "person" requirement and allow the Electors to vote for my cat after all. However, the lists of votes for President and for Vice-President can only contain persons. So curses, foiled again! My cat can run for president and even receive electoral votes, but those votes don't make up the totals sent to Congress.

I might have a work-around, though, which I'll post next.



jim said...

Hardy har har
So you can’t answer the questions so,
You attack the questioner.

David Smelser said...

Larry,

I think DEMs would do better at consensus building if the focus was on values, priorities, and policy instead of personalities.

gregory byshenk said...

David Brin said...
“Poll after poll shows that things like universal health access, minimum wage increases, and better working conditions are popular.”

Poll schmoll. Show me the ELECTIONS WON by finger-wagging socialists shouting “you’re all racists!” at the white-worker voters who control the nation’s fate. Show me the territory taken from the Red Treason by those screeching at “DINOs!”


Show us the Democratic nominees 'shouting "you're all racists!' or 'screeching at "DINOs!"'

As you yourself have pointed out, there is a small minority of loony leftists attached to the Democratic Party. But they are not nominated as candidates in any major election, and indeed rarely are found even in those primaries. I submit that you are battling a straw man here.


“Conventional wisdom is that one should choose a safe, middle-of-the-road candidate. But the last few elections have demonstrated, I think, that the conventional wisdom is not necessarily to be relied upon, and so following may result in a losing candidate.”

More magical incantations. Again LOOK AT WHERE WE TOOK TERRITORY! We took it with fierce, vigorous, inspiring and determined “middle-of-the-road candidates.” Will you please can the theory and look at actual actual actual ervents in this actual actual world?


I am happy to do so, but I think you are overstating your case here. I haven't followed specific US elections much in recent years, but a quick scan through the list of Democrats who defeated Republicans in 2018 at least suggests that they were not all "safe, middle-of-the-road candidates". No, they were not screeching lunatics, but that can hardly be any reasonable standard of 'safe' (since it applies to everyone, including the most "extreme" leftist/progressive candidates nominated by the Democratic party).

Larry Hart said...

Ok, here's my work-around.

Article I, section 2 specifies:

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.


Now while I believe this to mean "choose from among their members", every pundit I've heard in the past several years insists that the Speaker doesn't have to be an actual member of the House or Representatives. That the House could make anyone at all the Speaker. Since there is no other mention of qualifications to be Speaker, the House could in theory elect my cat to the post.

Just in case I'm right and everyone on tv is wrong, let's see if my cat could be in the House of Representatives:

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.


Once again, not being a person, my cat is not forbidden to be a Representative. So whether or not the Speaker must be a House member, it's possible for my cat to be Speaker.

Then the President and Vice-President both get taken up by Jesus in the Rapture. The Speaker is now President of the United States.

You say that the Speaker would not be allowed to take office if he doesn't meet the qualifications, such as 35 years old? Ok, but remember, only persons are ineligible for the office for any reasons. It's only on a technicality that a non-person can't have electoral votes for them sent to Congress. But this succession bypasses the electoral college altogether.

So it would take a circuitous route and fortunate circumstances to make it happen, but there is a path by which my cat could become President.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"I might have a work-around, though, which I'll post next."

Here's a suggestion: change the definition of what a "person" is. After all, some of the confederate states have declared embryos to be persons, and a cat is certainly more alert, conscious, and motile than any embryo, no matter how religious that embryo might be.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Doctor wroth: "Poll schmoll. Show me the ELECTIONS WON by finger-wagging socialists shouting “you’re all racists!”

No such polls exist outside of maybe Faux News.

However, I would be happy to cite elections won by Democrats espousing universal health care, minimum wage increases, and better working conditions.

David Brin said...

Who the hell used the word "safe"? Um let's ee. It was you. The reason I am stopping paying attenmtion to these "questions" is the locum-style strawmanning, cramming into my mouth "beliefs" that turds know damned well I find noxious. Utter refusal to address palpable things like the actual records of accomplishments in CA, OR, WA and so on... SO inconvenient to their narratives of "sellout corporatist moderates."

You aren't just wrong. You know you are wrong at every level. But the incantations are sacred. And yes, show me what you yammerers have done across any year. Actually done. Feh.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Well, I used the word "safe". I don't recall saying anyone else used it. In politics, "safe" often translates to "uninspiring".

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Here's a suggestion: change the definition of what a "person" is.


No, that works against me, not for me.

If my cat is a person, then he couldn't run until he's 35, and he'd have to be a natural born US citizen. It's only by not being a person that he avoids those constraints.


After all, some of the confederate states have declared embryos to be persons,


They may be "persons", but they haven't been born in the United States (or anywhere) yet, so they can't be citizens unless they have been naturalized. Or maybe they exist in some Schroedinger-like state of being citizens and non-citizens at the same time until birth collapses their waveform.

One more thing in common with cats. :)

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Or maybe they exist in some Schroedinger-like state of being citizens and non-citizens at the same time until birth collapses their waveform."

I have considerable fun pointing out to anti-choicers that "born" is the delimiting factor in determining basic humanity in the Constitution. Nobody has an status determined by date of conception.

OK, I'll wait for your legal brief regarding your cat. I have several of those things floating around here right now, and they are all eager to learn what you come up with.

Larry Hart said...

@Zepp Jamieson,

See above. You might have missed it, but my cat could still be president if he ascends there from Speaker of the House.

David Brin said...

Sorry, but I skimmed and caught this drivel: "I would be happy to cite elections won by Democrats espousing universal health care, minimum wage increases, and better working conditions."

Oh... you mean ALL of them? Fool. Worse, Doing Putin's work for him

Alfred Differ said...

Ah. District #2. Beautiful part of the state. Practically every vacation picture from one of my sisters is from one spot or another along that coast.

Yah. It's pretty red up there, but not quite the same red as some spots back east. Your area makes me think of the previous version of our state where we voted mostly Republican. Demographic changes swept the urban areas and some of our coastal pockets didn't get the memo. 8)

Honestly, though, I think Dems have to run crew-cut people in those pocket areas to have any chance at all. I'm not talking about GOP wanna-bees and look-a-likes. I mean blue dogs, small business owners, entrepreneurs, vets, and gun owners. There are people who view the world that way that recognize elements of a progressive wish list as 'best of intentions' goals. They worst they do is puzzle over how to pay for things and push back against promises that can't be kept.

I'm in #26. We have some of those deeply blue areas that changed and pockets that did not. Our rep has to balance herself carefully to avoid loosing half the county and does it through attention to crew-cut issues. You won't find her out front of the impeachment effort or UBI or lots of other things. You will find her advocating for vets, our ports (air and sea) and education. I'm okay with that and I vote for her though I'm sure she annoys some of my libertarian friends who take a purist stance. 8)

Zepp Jamieson said...

I know the 26th pretty well (and it has more than its share of lovely areas too). It's kinda famous for being a "swing area", capable of electing Sam Yorty in one election and one of FDR's kids in the next.
My area features two areas that are blue (mine, which is union blue, and Mount Shasta, which is kind of a zone all to itself) surrounded by deep red--ranchers, loggers and towns dominated by timber interests. It's changing rapidly as the GOP decompensates, but until quite recently, no pro-environmental candidate stood a chance. That was the main delimiting factor.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"I would be happy to cite elections won by Democrats espousing universal health care, minimum wage increases, and better working conditions."

Hmm. Yes, you seemed upset when I pointed out that these poll well (the crewcut codgers have only recently notice that and embraced it). So now saying that people like universal health care, minimum wage increases, and better working conditions is "doing Putin's work for him"?
Doctor, are you well?

Darrell E said...

Spent some time in Fort Bragg early this summer. The region is a version of paradise.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Darrell: I just happened to finish reading this site when your post popped up in my email:
https://www.onlyinyourstate.com/northern-california/beautiful-hike-nor-cal/
Yes, in many ways, this is paradise.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Oh, lawd, now he's going after astronauts!
https://www.rawstory.com/2019/09/trump-discourages-black-college-students-from-becoming-astronauts-in-bizarre-anti-science-rant/

Maybe someone pointed out the expression Buzz Aldrin was wearing at that goofy Mars conference Trump held.

Larry Hart said...

"This sophont is dangerous!"

Alfred Differ said...

Zepp,

It's only swing nowadays if you consider 'center' to be the other side of the pendulum arc. 8)

The richer areas on the east side of the county are inclined to vote red, but only one of those pockets is inclined to vote stupidly red. High property values and mixed educations leads red-leaning but currently mixed election results.

There is nothing wrong with universal health care... until we ask about organizational and financial details. Even then, it's not the 'health care' component that is the problem. For me, it is the 'promise likely to fail' thing that is the problem.

jim said...

Zepp,
come on now, fess up!
Is Putin paying you in
gold
oil
or
Russian brides
to be a splitter?
and to work for a higher minimum wage with health care for all???

Zepp Jamieson said...

Oh, bloody hell. Vladimir blabbed, didn't he?
Bloody KGB. They're all alike. Name droppers. "Oh, I know Donald Trump!" "Oh, I know Boris Johnson!" "Oh, I know Zepp!"
Well, enough's enough. I shall have to REMONSTRATE with the man!

Larry Hart said...

Y'know, I get that it's entirely off topic, not to mention whimsical, but I thought my lawyerly arguments about how my cat could actually be president would inspire at least as much response as...I dunno, zero-gravity sex did.

SAD

Sociotard said...

Vox claims that Bolton left because he couldn't goad the President into starting a war. I still think that the President's foreign policy is bad, but I will give praise where praise is due: he didn't attack when Bolton told him to. Thank you Mr. President.
https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/9/10/20859357/john-bolton-trump-war-north-korea-iran

scidata said...

What was wrong with McMaster? He seemed fairly even-keeled.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Being 'even-keeled' around Trump is considered a personal failing, I think.
He was subject to an ongoing series of personal attacks from Bannon and Alex Jones and other members for the neo-Nazi right during his tenure, but what really did for him was a public statement saying there was incontrovertibe evidence Russia interfered in the 2016 elections. I don't even think he said the interference worked to Trump's benefit, but then, I don't suppose he needed to.

A.F. Rey said...

Y'know, I get that it's entirely off topic, not to mention whimsical, but I thought my lawyerly arguments about how my cat could actually be president would inspire at least as much response as...I dunno, zero-gravity sex did.

If your cat is anything like mine, I suspect there was little discussion due to the sheer terror of the idea of a cat running the U.S. One dares not imagine the utter chaos and havoc that could result if President Kitty's aides were late in filling his cat food bowl! O_O

On the other hand, Donald Trump is in the White House, so it may not be that unimaginable...

Bob Neinast said...

Back to Valerie Plame, she's running against a bunch of other Democrats in a district that is heavily Democratic. So, aside from cool ads, it won't change much.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Back to Valerie Plame"...
That is a shame. She would be a lot more effective running in a red district as one of those "crewcut Democrats" Brin likes to talk up. Instead, she's likely to just split the Democratic vote and possible result in a Republican taking the seat.

Larry Hart said...

A.F. Rey:

One dares not imagine the utter chaos and havoc that could result if President Kitty's aides were late in filling his cat food bowl! O_O

On the other hand, Donald Trump is in the White House, so it may not be that unimaginable...


That was the whole point. Trump is so bad at being president that a cat would be an improvement.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Instead, she's likely to just split the Democratic vote and possible result in a Republican taking the seat.


I would hope she's running for the nomination as a Democrat, not running as a third-party candidate in a general election.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"I would hope she's running for the nomination as a Democrat..."
She is, in fact, and I withdraw my objection since she's certainly doing no harm in that. First cuppa coffee posting, you know.

Larry Hart said...

Well, in any case, this should invoke a bit of righteous indignation:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/us/politics/trump-alabama-noaa.html

WASHINGTON — The White House was directly involved in pressing a federal scientific agency to repudiate the weather forecasters who contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian would probably strike Alabama, according to several people familiar with the events.

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publicly disavow the forecasters’ position that Alabama was not at risk. NOAA, which is part of the Commerce Department, issued an unsigned statement last Friday in response, saying that the Birmingham, Ala., office was wrong to dispute the president’s warning.

In pressing NOAA’s acting administrator to take action, Mr. Ross warned that top employees at the agency could be fired if the situation was not addressed, The New York Times previously reported. Mr. Ross’s spokesman has denied that he threatened to fire anyone, and a senior administration official on Wednesday said Mr. Mulvaney did not tell the commerce secretary to make such a threat.

The release of the NOAA statement provoked complaints that the Trump administration was improperly intervening in the professional weather forecasting system to justify the president’s mistaken assertion. The Commerce Department’s inspector general is investigating how that statement came to be issued, saying it could call into question scientific independence.

...

Larry Hart said...

Remember when "debasing the currency" was a bad thing?

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/business/economy/bonehead-trump-jay-powell.html

...

In a series of tweets, Mr. Trump said that “The Federal Reserve should get our interest rates down to ZERO, or less, and we should then start to refinance our debt,” adding that “the USA should always be paying the the lowest rate.”

...

jim said...

Negative interest rates are a very powerful confirmation of the Surplus Energy Economics point of view.

From the SEE point of view we have reached peak prosperity (because of the increasing energy cost of energy) and are entering a period of economic “de-growth” or to put it less euphemistically the economy is going to get smaller and smaller going forward.

Positive interest rates mean the economy is growing.
Negative interest rates mean the economy is shrinking. (a.k.a. we are getting poorer)

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

I didn’t catch whether your cat is male or female. I won’t vote for it if is male. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

Jim,

I mean this respectfully, but in the mental state you are in you’ll see confirmation of your pet idea pretty much everywhere.

Alfred Differ said...

Everyone else,

As I understand it, negative interest rates simply mean people are willing to pay to much for bonds. They’ll do that when their other options are more scary, but they’ll calm down later.

jim said...

Alfred
we will see who is correct, with time.

But I would like to point out that people have been scared before but it is only within the last 5 years that we have seen negative interest rates. (more than 17 trillion of debt with negative interest rates, as of last month)

jim said...

I would also like to point out that this (negative interest rates) have not started happening in a recession/ depression , an economic crisis in which the central bankers are trying to do anything possible to stimulate the economy. No the negative interest rate have appeared in what seems to be economic good times.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I didn’t catch whether your cat is male or female. I won’t vote for it if is male. 8


You won't vote for Hamilton?

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

As I understand it, negative interest rates simply mean people are willing to pay to much for bonds. They’ll do that when their other options are more scary, but they’ll calm down later.


I'm going by what I've learned from Paul Krugman here.

Negative interest means you're paying for the privilege of having your money stored in a safe equity. Instead of increasing in value over time, those bonds decrease in value, but (apparently) the alternatives are worse, and investors are willing to pay for the security.

Europe has had negative interest rates, and so reality proves that the concept can work. However, it seems to me that only in an extraordinary circumstance would that make sense. Like when other indicators point to a negative number as the optimum rate, we once would have said, "But actual interest rates can't go below 0", and now they can, at least a little bit.

What galls me is not the mere concept of negative rates, but the fact that Trump acts like the Fed should just do that because it will make his economy look better, as if it's just one of many choices to be enacted at the whim of the boss.

The closest analogy I can think of is a morbid one--cannibalism. The Donner Party and such have proven that, in the short term in extraordinary circumstances, humans can survive by eating their dead. Trump's demand would be analogous to his advising the inner city poor to simply eat the bodies of all the people who keep getting shot.

Catfish 'n Cod said...

Plame could pledge to support any Democrat that beat her in the primary. I mean, that's the standard thing to do... or it used to be.

Bob Neinast said...

Looks like I may beat Larry with this, but Jim Wright over at <a href="http://www.stonekettle.com/2019/09/scabs.html>Stonekettle Station</a> has his own take on remembering 9-11. Fuck the Fake Patriots.

Bob Neinast said...

Geez, just how DO links work here?

http://www.stonekettle.com/2019/09/scabs.html

TCB said...

Bob, you just needed a second doublequote mark after the URL. Like this:

Stonekettle Station on Scabs

A.F. Rey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TCB said...

This probably won't ever happen again, but:

LET ME SAY SOMETHING NICE ABOUT DONALD TRUMP.

He fired John Bolton and didn't let Bolton start a major war. Hahahahhahahahah! Sure, Benedict Donald is all about the stealy-stealy-stealy, but apparently he thought bombing Iran would be unprofitable or something? (Maybe he saw the video of Quark explaining why war is bad for business.)

Allegedly Trump asked Bolton if Ireland was "One of those countries you want to invade?" HA HA HA FRICKEN HAH that is actually a boffo line.

Okay, I am done. Most likely I will never speak well of Trump again.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred wrote: "I didn’t catch whether your cat is male or female. I won’t vote for it if is male"

Oh, come on! You can't condemn an entire species based on just Bill Clinton!

Bob Neinast said...

Re: TCB and doublequotes.

Yeah, I only saw that after my exasperated comment. That's the effect of a glass of whine (pun, and both meanings, fully intended).

Larry Hart said...

TCB:

Allegedly Trump asked Bolton if Ireland was "One of those countries you want to invade?" HA HA HA FRICKEN HAH that is actually a boffo line.


A stopped clock is right twice a day.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Trump also moved to ban kiddie-flavoured vapes.
Twice in one day he did something I didn't hate. I should go buy a lotto ticket.

scidata said...

Re: missing terminating double quotes
Information Technology will graduate from infant to toddler once the fatuous requirement of 100.000% syntax correctness is gone. IMHO and counter-intuitively, this will not come from more and more bloatware (it has barely progressed over the last 40 years). It will come from the emergent, Internet-of-Things ability of machines to learn how to develop and implement 'human APIs' on their own, analogously to the way 'puppy eyes' evolved. Inductive AI for lack of a better term.

Alfred Differ said...

Martha's cat wasn't named Hamilton. Fake News! 8)

I've been around cats all my life. In the first few years (< 6 years), my mother did not get our Tom neutered. He'd come home all beaten up occasionally and she didn't explain why in any detail. In later years when I had a (fixed) female cat I could see it from the other side. Tom's are so hormone drenched they make human male rapists look like gentlemen. [Ducks are worse.]

What I really wanted to say is I don't want another rapist in the WH. That's getting kinda dark, though. I like cats most of the time and don't expect them to behave like humans. Still... it would be nice to have a President that didn't think with his nether-brain all the time.

Alfred Differ said...

Jim,

Dude. Pull money out of your account, put it under the mattress, and you've just invested in a negative yielding safety bond. Inflation eats at the value of the stashed cash. Some people buy gold and put it under the mattress. That's the same kind of bond with a different value measure. Maybe inflation won't eat it up?

My strongest reaction was to your grossly simplistic "positive rates mean this... negative rates mean that". You are welcome to interpret events using any model you wish and then risk your future accordingly, but communicating a simplistic model has the potential to impact MY investments. To that I must react.

Larry's paraphrasing of Krugman works well enough for me. There is more to it than fits in a paragraph, but I don't think many people here care much about bond markets. That's fine.

Trump's desire for negative rates is pretty stupid, though. Bond buyers float our debt. When progressives want some spiffy new program and don't have the ready cash, the government borrows from rich people to finance it. Their desire turns into reliable cash flow for the rich. Very low velocity money. I'm not sure why progressives would want to do that often since Piketty DID accurately point out a big issue with that, but I can't imagine why rich people would participate at a cost to themselves either... unless they are running a little scared but not so scared that mattress bonds look like a good idea.

Alfred Differ said...

Zepp,

Twice in one day he did something I didn't hate. I should go buy a lotto ticket.

You like his authoritarian impulse? Really?

Wanting to protect people is good, but we have many options that don't involve authoritarian responses. 8)

Zepp Jamieson said...

I don't see that incontroverting merchants of death is authoritarian.

David Brin said...

>>jim said...
Alfred
we will see who is correct, with time."

No we won't. Grumpy-stylish cynicism... as an excuse to sit around grousing instead of actively helping... is insatiable.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Martha's cat wasn't named Hamilton. Fake News! 8)


Well, mine is. Hamilton, and his litter-mate Lafayette.



I've been around cats all my life. ...Tom's are so hormone drenched they make human male rapists look like gentlemen.

What I really wanted to say is I don't want another rapist in the WH.


I don't know if "rapist" quite applies with cats. The females seem awfully consenting. And it's not like they're supposed to wait until marriage or anything.


That's getting kinda dark, though.


Well, as someone who compared a call for negative interest rates to cannibalism, I can't exactly call you on it.

duncan cairncross said...

Re the Stonekettle post

9/11 was a horrible horrible attack - and the whole world supported the USA

And then to our absolute horror the USA proceeded to do everything that Bin Laden wanted you to do

The real horror of 9/11 was not the attack - but the US response, TSA, Border Security - and “The Department of Homeland Security”

It even sounds like something out of 1984

Then the “Patriot Act” a “War of Choice” against a third party - and Torture

Everything Bin Laden wanted you to do!!!

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Pull money out of your account, put it under the mattress, and you've just invested in a negative yielding safety bond. Inflation eats at the value of the stashed cash.


I know what you're saying, but it's not the same thing. Negative interest means you actually lose dollars. If those dollars themselves lose value over time, that's an additional loss, but you'd still have more value from the bills in the mattress than you will with the negative-interest equities.

That's why it used to be accepted wisdom that interest rates couldn't go below 0. Why would anyone invest in such a vehicle? According to Krugman, well, it turns out there's a cost associated with storage and maintenance of wealth, and if the negative interest isn't too negative, investors still see some value worth paying for.

There are a few caveats, though.

1) There's a risk in hoarding dollar bills in the mattress. They might get stolen or damaged. I can understand accepting negative interest in exchange for some security, but I don't accept that hoarded dollar bills lose value the same way that dollars earning negative interest do, or the implication that the negative interest is a better investment. Those dollars earning negative interest lose additional value to inflation.

2) Negative interest rates only make sense when economic indicators point to a negative number as the optimum rate for the state of the economy. Obviously, if the bank next door is offering 4%, you're not going to buy bonds "paying" -2%.

3) There's a limit to how negative rates can go before dollar bills in the mattress start to look better.

4) Whether positive or negative, lowering interest rates is something the Fed does to fend off a recession or deflation. It's not something to do just because Donald Trump wants to hide the effects of his disastrous policies.

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncross:

And then to our absolute horror the USA proceeded to do everything that Bin Laden wanted you to do


Some of us had that horror too.


The real horror of 9/11 was not the attack - but the US response


While I know what you're getting at, the attack was the horror too.

Larry Hart said...

I can't argue with anything Jim Wright said.

I want my country back. And when I said that back around the 2008 election, my old conservative buddy on the Cerebus list came down on me for calling it my country. What makes it mine more than anyone else's? I'm sure he was ok with the Tea Party using that phrase, though. Or the white supremacists. Because, the problem, apparently isn't the phrase, but the fact that a liberal was using it. It's not supposed to be my country. It is supposed to be theirs.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Female feline consent. Yah. Sometimes. 8)

Okay. Run your cats as libertarians. They'd probably fit right in.

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

As for negative returns on bonds vs inflation, I'm not quite up on my theory. I'd have to hit the books again to get what the various schools say correct. The Austrians make it easiest, though. If investors are buying negative yield bonds instead of pulling out of the market... it makes sense to them and it falls to us to figure out what they are thinking. None of that "It isn't rational nonsense."

As for losing 'actual' dollars, that never made much sense to me. Today-dollars always turn into tomorrow-dollars. The point of buying an asset relative to storing cash is a belief that their values (relative to some other basket of whats-its) will diverge in your favor. Dollar bills are actually bits of paper representing debt instruments, so that are always valued in terms of those whats-its and not in terms of themselves. So... I think your reasoning sounds circular to me. Are you paraphrasing an economist? I can go read the original if so rather than carry us into economic arcana (again).

Alfred Differ said...

we will see who is correct, with time

I was going to say something about how confirmation bias is damn near impossible to avoid, but that leads to "CITOKATE" which has been mentioned here only a billion times... which can't be heard by people deep into confirmation bias. Didn't seem to be worth the effort. 8)

There is also goal-post moving, but I think that is a second order effect in this case.

Alfred Differ said...

Zepp,

He'll intervene to halt the death of a few kids vaping, but strip immigrants kids from their parents at the border and house them in concentration camps? This isn't about protecting kids. This is about "Me, me, me!"

Authoritarians craving attention are damned dangerous.
"Give Me Power" and I'll protect your (white) kids!

I'm not poking at you (much), though. It's just that I think insurers will deal with this pretty quick when wrongful death lawsuits start arriving in court. Back that up with state-level AG's investigating deaths and I don't see any need for us to give the WH Reality Clown any credit for good behavior. He hasn't earned it and he sure as hell doesn't deserve it.

Even with firing Bolton, I feel that way. He @#$t on the carpet, brought in a new dog, blamed it and then kicked it out, and then we are supposed to feel good about it all? Sure. It's good that Bolton is out of there, but the carpet is still fouled.

Jon S. said...

And it's not even kids dying in these vaping things. Every single death from vaping has been due to unregulated, illegal vape cartridges filled with THC and vitamin E, along with whatever else the illicit producer had handy.

This rule will do nothing, except to make life more difficult for people who use vapes to quit smoking. It doesn't even touch nicotine vapes, provided they're unflavored (menthol is affected), and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the far more lethal cigarettes. (And let's not even mention the fact that the total death toll from vaping is six - less than the number of people killed in the Odessa shooting alone - yet nobody besides a few Democratic presidential candidates wants to so much as hint at passing regulations to control AR-15s.)

David Brin said...

Didn't expect this for a couple of years. Water vapor detected in the atmosphere of a super-Earth in a red dwarf's goldilocks zone.

We are amazing. And we should be capable of wresting back the revolution that led to all these wonders.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/11/world/water-atmosphere-exoplanet-scn/index.html

Zepp Jamieson said...

Thrilling news indeed, but this isn't our next home: mass eight times Earth, double the diameter, so a surface G of...what, 3.6?

Estimates on the water vapour content were amazing: 0.1% to 50.0%. Earth's is 0.2 to 0.4%.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred: Your point about Trump is well taken, but I understand that Melania is behind this. Mind you, I don't expect this to go anywhere.

TCB said...

I saw a Twitter thread a couple of days ago where some guy said Pelosi and the House Democrats actually do have a Trump impeachment strategy, and that it's probably the best possible. Hope he's right. It went a little like this:

The Democratic House majority, he said, will likely spool up a serious formal impeachment process around November. They will hold months of hearings, all through the winter into 2020, and they will cover all your favorite hits: the domestic and foreign emolument clauses, campaign violations, collusion...

...but he predicts the centerpiece will be exposing American citizens to the full story of Trump's decades of criminal money laundering. The necessary evidence, from Deutsche Bank and elsewhere, is being lined up now. This goes on until about March...

...and the Democratic House majority votes to impeach the president (and, let me add, if they're smart they'll discredit and hamstring Pence as much as possible while they're at it). They toss the red-hot impeachment potato into the laps of the Senate, half a year before the 2020 elections...

...forcing the Republican majority to go on record voting to defend the indefensible crook in the White House. If Trump is convicted and removed, he goes to prison and Pence is weakened, or also impeached. If Trump is acquitted by the Senate GOP, Democrats run against that for a total housecleaning, up and down the ticket.

A lot can go wrong in a year, but this looks like a strong chess-fork strategy.

Alfred Differ said...

Zepp | Okay. I don’t mind giving her some credit for good behavior.8)

duncan cairncross said...

Hi TCB
Sorry but that sounds like a LOSING strategy

The GOP will turn Trump into a scapegoat - they will blame EVERYTHING on Trump and present themselves as the
"Newly cleansed and now perfectly nice" - Republican Party

And millions of people who have seen enough to know that Trump is bad will sigh in relief and go straight back to voting the straight GOP ticket

Pelosi must hold all of the hearings - get all that out there -

But NOT NOT NOT allow the GOP to do the scapegoat action

She must weld the Orange Cockwomble around the neck of the Republicans - he must be their albatros not their scapegoat

Impeachment will simply play into their hands - unless she can ensure that it FAILS in the Senate

The 2/3rds majority
Is it 2/3rds of the Senate - 66 votes
Or 2/3rds of the Senate Members who vote?

If it is 2/3rds of the whole Senate then Pelosi can simply get the Democratic senators to abstain

The way that Corbyn foiled BoJo's attempt to shut down Parliament for an election

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

As for losing 'actual' dollars, that never made much sense to me. Today-dollars always turn into tomorrow-dollars. The point of buying an asset relative to storing cash is a belief that their values (relative to some other basket of whats-its) will diverge in your favor. Dollar bills are actually bits of paper representing debt instruments, so that are always valued in terms of those whats-its and not in terms of themselves. So... I think your reasoning sounds circular to me


I don't think so, but we may be having two different conversations. I thought what I was saying was pretty close to tautological.

I've read plenty of op-eds which say this, not just you--is that money in the mattress is not as "safe" as it seems just because you can't lose dollars. Because your dollars themselves tend to lose value over time to inflation. The only way to keep up with, let alone surpass, inflation is to invest in something with a chance of earning more dollars. So far, I think we're all in agreement.

What I'm pushing back against is that then, they go on to say that even an investment which loses money (dollars)--whether it's negative interest bonds or just a regular equity which happens to drop in value--is better than money in the mattress, because the money in the mattress is losing value to inflation. That's what I don't get. It's as if they don't think the negative-interest bond money is also losing value to inflation.

Bottom line--and maybe this is too simple to sound like it's my point--if I have $100,000 in my mattress which is worth only $80,000 in 20 years, that's still worth more than the $100,000 that you invested in negative interest bonds which pay $90,000 in 20 years. Because that $90,000 is only worth $72,000 in today's dollars, while my mattress money is worth $80,000 in today's dollars. If the bonds are safer for other reasons, that's fine, but it's not what I was talking about.

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncross:

The GOP will turn Trump into a scapegoat - they will blame EVERYTHING on Trump and present themselves as the "Newly cleansed and now perfectly nice" - Republican Party


If they actually vote to convict/remove him, yes, but I don't see that happening. And if they do, Trump's base will be furious at the party. And remember, Trump's base is really all they've got left. The MAGA crowd will become the Republicans' Bernie Bros, considering a "Newly cleansed and now perfectly nice Republican Party" as "no different from Elizabeth Warren".

Larry Hart said...

David Axelrod channels our host (emphasis mine) :

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/opinion/trump-2020.html

...

Mr. Trump’s serial assaults on the decency and the decorum upon which civil society depends are enraging — and meant to be. It is only natural to respond to his every provocation with righteous indignation.

My advice to the Democratic nominee next year is: Donʼt play.

Wrestling is Mr. Trump’s preferred form of combat. But beating him will require jiu-jitsu, a different style of battle typically defined as the art of manipulating an opponent’s force against himself rather than confronting it with one’s own force.

...

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncross:

The 2/3rds majority
Is it 2/3rds of the Senate - 66 votes
Or 2/3rds of the Senate Members who vote?


The Senate rules as found on senate.gov (you have to poke around a bit) seem to make clear that conviction requires a 2/3 vote of those members present, and that a quorum to do any business is a simple majority of Senators (currently 51).

Also, a minor correction--assuming full participation by 100 Senators, a 2/3 majority requires 67 votes, not 66. 66 is only 66.0% and 66.666666666...% is the required threshold.


Article I, section 5 of the Constitution requires that a quorum (51 senators) be present for the Senate to conduct business. Often, fewer than 51 senators are present on the floor, but the Senate presumes a quorum unless a roll call vote or quorum call suggests otherwise.

...


The United States Constitution provides that the House of Representatives "shall have the sole Power of Impeachment" (Article I, section 2) and that "the Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments .... [but] no person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two-thirds of the Members present" (Article I, section 3). The president, vice president, and all civil officers of the United States are subject to impeachment.

jim said...

Alfred, I am quite aware of confirmation bias, it doesn’t just affect me we are all subject to it.

With negative interest rates people are willing to “invest” to get a guaranteed loss because they believe the other “investment” opportunities will probably loose more than the guaranteed loss. Now this might be because they think a short term recession is on the way. Or it might be because some think our fossil fuel powered civilization is facing a crisis. Or maybe a million other things, but a growing number of investors are pessimistic about the future (at least in the near term). I see negative interest rates as an attempt to have controlled “degrowth” rather than a run away crash.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Duncan wrote: "The GOP will turn Trump into a scapegoat..."

Long way from here to there, Duncan. ProPublica is reporting today that the RNC is hiding "voter scores"--highly detailed and accurate surveys on a local level of what voters are thinking--from candidates running for office on the local level as Republicans. The reason given is Trump is polling very badly, even among his base, and the Trump campaign cannot tolerate GOP candidates distancing themselves from this highly toxic president.

That's not to say the GOP won't turn on Trump at some point, and when they do, it's going to be very bloody.

scidata said...

We had this discussion before (the orange scapegoat scenario). I have the feeling that the GOP really doesn't grasp what a monster they've created/unleashed. They think they are in control. So did other optimates such as Pompey.

Red dwarf transit and atmospheric discoveries: notice that the real innovation is not in optics, but in computation and algorithmics. Calculemus!

Darrell E said...

Larry Hart said...
"David Axelrod channels our host (emphasis mine) :

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/opinion/trump-2020.html

...

"Wrestling is Mr. Trump’s preferred form of combat. But beating him will require jiu-jitsu, a different style of battle typically defined as the art of manipulating an opponent’s force against himself rather than confronting it with one’s own force."
"

I'm not sure Axelrod's analogy is the best fit. A better fit is probably shit slinging. Trump is a shit slinger. Trump would never go for a straight up fight like wrestling because he know's he'd get his ass kicked and he is a coward. Slinging shit is pretty much his only play. It comes naturally to him, like an autonomic response. Because it's so vulgar most of his targets don't respond in kind. Who wants to play with shit? Spectators that are vulgar themselves cheer-lead when Trump slings shit because they get a vicarious thrill watching him do what they fantasize about. Other spectators wrinkle their noses in disgust.

A certain type of jiu jitsu does sound like the best response. I mean, what reasonably civilized person wants to sling shit after all? Gracefully side step the incoming shit and make Trump look like the loser he is. People should take a look at how Mayor Pete has done this on the few occasions Trump has flung shit his way. He's pretty good at it.

Larry Hart said...

scidata:

I have the feeling that the GOP really doesn't grasp what a monster they've created/unleashed. They think they are in control. So did other optimates such as Pompey.


From Cabaret, just after the song "Tomorrow Belongs To Me":

"Do you still think you can control them?"

Alfred Differ said...

jim,

I see negative interest rates as an attempt to have controlled “degrowth” rather than a run away crash.

Okay. That actually makes sense. However, that 'degrowth' element is the explanatory layer of your prediction model. An investor buying negative yield bonds in order to avoid the full impact of a crash in equities and the mattress impact of inflation is still controlling for 'degrowth' of their portfolio. The investor's job is to out-perform other options no matter what the explanatory layer of their model says about why it works.

I fully admit to a risk of confirmation bias, but I'm actually putting my money out there taking the risk of being wrong. That makes we really wary. That makes me want to play in the options market and not just the ones for equities and bonds. Options players can bet on downturns and make money if they are correct, so I don't mess with negative yield bonds. That market can't handle trillion dollar bets, though, so I don't think your explanatory layer is complex enough to represent reality. Bet on it if you like, though. Put your money into it and learn how to play all the opportunities available to you. Unless you are one of the big sharks, you should play cautiously, but you SHOULD play the game. It hones your predictive models.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

The investor's job is to out-perform other options no matter what the explanatory layer of their model says about why it works


Heh. I'm reminded of the rude shock 401k-holders had after suffering losses for the first time around the turn of the century. Turns out that your mutual fund can "outperform the Dow" and still lose 15%, while the Dow is dropping by 20%.

jim said...

Alfred
From my perspective we are at the inflection point for industrial civilization. We have had a long raggedly upward movement in prosperity, and I expect a long raggedly decline in prosperity, hopefully stabilizing with an ecotechnic civilization powered at a much lower level by renewable energy but with a higher quality of life than in an agricultural civilization.

The problem I see with traditional investments right now is that we are heading into a major crisis (within 10 years, although this fall and next fall look potentially troubling) and I don’t know how governments and big business will respond.
So I am out of debt, made investments to reduce my expenditures, staying healthy, forming good relationships with local farmers and I am out of the stock market. Invested in some local businesses, silver, some bonds, but still pretty liquid.
Once I see how the big players are responding to the crisis I will have a better idea on what I need to do.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

I think you are confusing apples for oranges... but it is REAL easy to do. Work through things with tokens (cut out pieces of paper) and you might find the circular loops.

1) Write one token for a Danish bond earning -0.5% at $100K USD maturing in 20 years. (Not that simple really as I doubt the Danes denominate their bonds in USD.)

2) Write another token for a mattress bond earning -2.0% at $100K USD for 20 years. (Stash your cash and leave it there 20 years.)

3) Write another token for your $100K USD house equity where you can't be sure of the rate of return because you can't know the value of your house 20 years from now. Could be negative. Could be positive.

All tokens should have two dollar values and a payment date on them. How much went in. How much will be paid and when.

All these tokens mature in 20 years and deliver what they deliver. At that point they are what they are and what they were is utterly irrelevant. Sunk costs. [You'll feel bad about losses, but slightly better if you took a path that minimized them.]

Now ask yourself which token would have accepted $72K (instead of $100K) and produced $90K. You won’t find a fixed rate one on the table because that would be a positive return. No surprise since we wouldn’t expect it. We are try to compare tokens.

Now ask yourself which one produces the best outcome for a $72K input. You’ll find it is the same one that produces the best output for $100K input. Why? Because one should not compare $80K tomorrow-dollars to $72K today-dollars unless there is an investment token that can connect them through time. There isn’t one except for the unknown unknowables bond associated with your home equity.

Today-dollars are the apples. Tomorrow-dollars are the oranges. We want to think of them as comparable because they are ‘dollars’, but great care is needed. We run into the same issue in futures and options markets. Consider a defensive commodity like gold. Contracts for gold-today are not the same as ones for gold-tomorrow. Time has value. Maybe positive like with non-callable contracts. Maybe negative for some callable ones. Dollars, Yen, gold, copper, oil, and all those other commodities are just things we trade, but time matters in the prices.

A fun homework question for students is to ask what the price of copper is in terms of gold. How many ounces of gold does it take to buy a ton of copper? That ratio removes currency as an intermediary and tells an interesting historical tale through the phases of a business cycle.


PS.

I gave up on the Dow. I tend to use the S&P 500, but there are other measures to use depending on what you think is going on. You are right about that 401K shock, but we are supposed to have been warned. [The employer match ratio helps mitigate it... a bit.] 8)

Alfred Differ said...

jim,

Okay. Fair enough. Yours is a defensive posture and you are not alone in adopting it. I think you are mistaken, but that is a different matter our postures will reward or punish us for.

Ten years is a long horizon, though, for comparative speculations. Individually, we will know whether our portfolios outperform certain measures in 10 years, but we probably won't know how we compare with each other. Too far in the future unless we make plans to meet somewhere. 8)

I'm actually betting that you are partially correct about us feeling the squeeze when it comes to value extracted per KWhr. I think we are getting more from less, though, and that it will be reflected in the valuations of companies that contribute to our tech infrastructure and the software needed to run it all. I'm speculatively long on semi-conductors even as that industry is becoming more and more commoditized. I'm still debating what position to take with respect to electricity generation, but I avoid fossil fuels... mostly. One has a future. The other doesn't. However, I think you are dead wrong in your expectation of a decline in prosperity and I'm 'all in' against that outcome. We will get that higher quality of life and prosperity too and discover along the way less wasteful ways to get it all.

[When I first learned electrical circuits I was taught in terms of vacuum tubes which demanded high voltages and dealt with currents measured in Amps. Power consumption involves the product of both. Today, similar circuits accomplish more with 3.3 volts and a few milli-amps. I used to have a 250W light bulb over my desk. I used it when I wanted to paint tiny lead figures... or heat the room. That illumination now costs me a few watts and I have to wear a sweater. I am VERY okay with these trends because those KWhrs I don't need can be used by others... or not be generated at all.]

David Brin said...

Darrell E thanks for linking me to Axelrod’s cogent op-ed on jiu jitsu politics… which is in fact the title of my book that’s taking shape, and I’ll find a p[lace for Axelrod’s extract in the first couple of pages.

Only maybe 4 of you have stepped up to help me with this project, so far. I need someone who might help me updates some of the charts and graphs. Especially those at http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html

Duncan sorry but TCB is right. Pelosi knows exactly what she’s doing and timing is everything.

Alfred the econ metric that no one looks at is Money Velocity. MV is crucial as a dollar that changes hands 5x might be taxed 5x and spur growth, but Adam Smith himself said that added dollars that go to the already uber rich just sit there.

Yeah yeah, jim, we know your ‘perspective” that oil explains everything. Yadd… I am too bored to even finish that word… zzzz…

David Brin said...

There are three things the GOP masters can do about their Trump Problem:

1) Throw him under the bus. It's what Romney is conniving to do behind the scens but stymied by DT's popularity with MAGAs...

2) Embrace him and go all-in that Dems are all uniformly traitors... while counting on Vlad to meme spur splitters on the blue side...

3) Martyrdom. It's what the topmost lords will think about and might try. It gives them the advantage of getting rid of him, allowing RASRs to run to Pence... WHILE riling up the base to McVeigh levels of hate-drenched intensity.

God bless the US Secret Service.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

1) Write one token for a Danish bond earning -0.5% at $100K USD maturing in 20 years. (Not that simple really as I doubt the Danes denominate their bonds in USD.)

2) Write another token for a mattress bond earning -2.0% at $100K USD for 20 years. (Stash your cash and leave it there 20 years.)


Not being an expert at finance, I might be missing something, but it sounds to me like you're the one comparing apples to oranges. Your math presumes that the Danish bond pays out in oranges (today dollars minus the negative interest) while the mattress pays out in apples (today dollars adjusted for inflation).

If we just think of how much I pay to get in vs how much is paid out, then the mattress pays out $100K for my initial $100K whereas the negative-interest bond pays...well, I'm not going to do the math now, but something less than $100K for my initial $100K. You and everybody else in the world says, "But your mattress $100K loses value to inflation", to which I say, "So does the bond payout of $90K or whatever. That amount is also devalued by inflation, and it's fewer dollars as well."

Unless you're saying that the Danish bond would be structured to pay out at -0.5% adjusted for inflation. But I've never heard of bonds structured that way. Otherwise, I don't get how 100K tomorrow-dollars is worth less than $90K tomorrow-dollars just because the former stayed in its original form of cash.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

1) Throw him under the bus. It's what Romney is conniving to do behind the scens but stymied by DT's popularity with MAGAs...


It seems to me that the Republicans are more stymied by their own unpopularity with anyone but MAGAs. They've played to his base in ways that disgust everybody else, and now that base is all they've got.

TCB said...

[Saaaayyyyy maybe the Moon IS a good place to put something! A space elevator to be exact.](https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614276/a-space-elevator-is-possible-with-todays-technology-researchers-say-we-just-need-to-dangle/)

TCB said...

Oooops I used Reddit link formatting. Let's do this right:

Saaaayyyyy maybe the Moon IS a good place to put something! A space elevator to be exact.

From MIT Technology Review, a proposal to build a space elevator from the Moon, dangling ALMOST to Earth... using 2019 technology?!??!?!

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Guys

I most sincerely hope that you are right and that the Orange one is now welded to the GOP - I just can't help worrying about how fast they came back after Bush 2

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Ah. I see where you are coming from now. It’s the ‘adjusted for inflation’ thing. 8)

Any bond earning interest below the inflation rate is effectively a negative rate bond, right? If there is no adjustment for inflation in the rate, the difference is negative. So, any bond that doesn’t adjust should under-perform the mattress.

Yet, people still buy them… and they aren’t dumb people.

The paper tokens in my earlier description are intended to imitate those coupon books banks used to use when we borrowed money from them. A bond is just one of those coupon with a set duration and payout. I could write one up promising the pay the bearer $10K on 03 Mar 2021 and wave it around in a crowded room seeking bids for it. What I’m offered, what I have to pay, and the duration of the bond go into a formula and we calculate the effective interest rate. Once sold, I’m locked in to that rate and expected to deliver tomorrow-dollars in 2021.

The buyer isn’t locked in, though. They can offer it in the crowded room later and ask a different price than they bid to me. You can be certain negative rate bond buyers are doing exactly this as it likely makes no sense to hold them to maturation for exactly the reasons you understand. If the contract represented by the token doesn’t have a rule that causes adjustment for inflation, they get hit by both negative contributions at maturity. If they can sell them to someone else before that, they might escape with less of a haircut.

Why would anyone buy them, though? Because they might have a different expectation for inflation and think the calculation comes out slightly positive? Because they need to book a loss for tax purposes and one loss is undone by a greater gain elsewhere? Because they are engaged in money laundering and a small haircut is better than their authoritarian government taking their money from them? [I’m not joking with his last one. It explains a lot of bitcoin purchases from China.] There ARE reasons people might buy these things.

Some bonds ARE inflation adjusted. You have to read the fine print.

And that thing about authoritarian governments? It’s a serious issue when they can find your mattress.

Bond markets are global and have been for ages. Finance of Europe’s wars back in the days before national armies relied heavily on these debt instruments and rich buyers... like certain Jews. Think about “Buy Savings Bonds” posters the US used to finance the world wars. Same thing... bigger purchase base. Would you buy a negative yield bond to finance a just war? Hmm. Prudence isn’t the only motivation we have. 8)

Larry Hart said...

duncan cairncross:

I most sincerely hope that you are right and that the Orange one is now welded to the GOP - I just can't help worrying about how fast they came back after Bush 2


But that wasn't because they distanced themselves from W. It was because they were able to leverage Obama-hate.

Remember, shortly after President Obama took office, there were billboards displaying W's face saying, "Miss me now?" The implication being that President Obama sucks so badly that even W is starting to look good now? And I'd think, "Heck no! What makes you think I ever would miss you?" Except that I'd sure like to see some of those billboards now. They'd make more sense.

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred Differ,

I think you're reading too much into my arguments. I'm not trying to say that negative interest bonds are irrational or place any sort of value judgments on them. I understand the alternative reasons why it might be safer to pay to store wealth than to do so yourself. Paul Krugman makes that clear even if I couldn't figure it out myself.

I was simply taking issue with the notion that the money in my mattress loses value over time, whereas the money in an investment only loses (or gains) the amount taken (or paid out) as interest/dividends/whatever. Maybe you weren't making a point like that, but a lot of op-ed writers do.

In my comment above, I used "adjusted for inflation" in two different, in fact opposite ways, so I hope that didn't confuse things further. It sounds like it didn't, though.

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