Thursday, October 03, 2019

A Big-Bold Book of Best-of-Brin Blogs... about Political Judo! 100+ tactics we should be using.

By popular demand, I am creating a quick e-book that merges many of my political postings under the following title:

A Brazen Guide for Sane Americans to Charge Past
 Trench Warfare in Our Life or Death Struggle for Civilization

Sound interesting? See the table of contents, below! Then offer comments/suggestions if you feel so moved. But first a few samples -- examples of how to do "judo" against the treason.

(1) Let's assume Chief Justice John Roberts will use the Court's right wing majority to uphold his clever Roberts Doctrine, of "non-interference between the legislative and executive," allowing GOP henchmen to refuse House subpoenas on lame and unprecedented excuses. They think their passive fait accompli resistance will stymie all investigation and oversight. But there's a judo move that Schiff and Nadler can try. It means appealing to the Fourth Branch of government. It would work. (You might guess what it is from clues... or read it in  the book.)

(2) Here's another judo move that could help empower Congressional committees, now stymied by Trumpist defiance of legal subpoenas. To unleash a tsunami of revelations, announce that your committee will offer immunity for testimony by anyone who has an NDA - or Non-Disclosure Agreement - with Donald Trump. He's bragged about his Great Wall of punitive-protective NDAs. Shatter it and let the revelations spill. (Michael Cohen will tell you who to approach.)

(3) Will anyone ever stand up to the "Fake News" meme, at long last? Lists of "pinnocchio lies" and "fact-checkers" don't work; foxites just call them biased. That tactic can be neutralized in three ways

- At an elevated level, demand - repeatedly - that Trump or Fox etc. name five eminent and widely respected conservative sages to sit on a commission to vet fact-checking services for impartiality, alongside eminent liberals and neutrals. They won't dare offer five names, of course, because 'eminent conservatives' betray the party line with upsetting regularity. But their evasions will hurt them!  Squirming to evade this reasonable demand -- if it's repeated in a pounding refrain -- will start looking cowardly. And that is how you undermine the base.

- Defy rightists to name even one fact-centered profession they aren't waging open war against, from science and journalism to teaching and medicine, all the way to a purported "deep state" of ten million civil servants, FBI and Intel and military officers, all supposedly in cahoots. (While of course Putin, MBS, Murdoch  and Goldman-Sach would never collude.) Hammer them with "Why do your top enemies always happen to be professions that use facts?"

- At a lower level, reporters who get 'fake news!' hurled at them need to respond: "Sir, that is a direct attack on my integrity and I demand your staff support the assertion factually by tomorrow morning. Now getting back to my question..." Again one sentence. Used just once or twice, it accomplishes nothing. Hammered every time? It will devastate his illusion of macho strength.

(4) All right. This one is really immature... almost Trumpian! But it shows the wide range of judo moves that I describe in Polemical Judo - more than a hundred that you've never seen a Democratic politician or neutral pundit apply against this madness. Want it anyway? Okay then, at the bottom... even trolling... end of things, here's a ploy that might garner instant national attention, huge press and infuriate ol' Two Scoops more than anything that ever happened in his life.

Picture one mid level Democratic politician holding a news conference to denounce fellow Democrats for their unsympathetic pestering of an addled old man who clearly qualifies for extra care and kindness under the Americans with Disabilities Act...

I mean it. Close your eyes and imagine that satirical taunt being drawn out, again and again, with an almost straight face. Even those who don't 'get it' at first will catch on, when Trump responds with hysterical, volcanic fury, ironically proving it's true! What a tweet-storm that dig would rouse from Two Scoops! 

Remember, Trump's support base rests entirely upon a delusion that he's strong! The toughness of a Junior High School bully. Repeated expressions of pity would more than gall him into hysterics. It will undermine the fellow’s one pillar of support – the superficial appearance of macho “strength.”

Risky? Sure. But oh, so tasty. And that shows you the range of contents in Polemical Judo, which will offer up (I promise) scores of tactics and maneuvers -- from high-end to low -- that you've not seen (alas!) anywhere other than the pages of Contrary Brin.

== Scan the contents! ==

Below, in the table of contents, many of you long time netizens of Contrary Brin will recognize some of the component blogs chosen for this volume.  Speak up if you have a favorite that appears to have been skipped.

Missing from this TOC are many riffs between chapters that dive into familiar themes like Blackmail, Emergency Readiness, Adam Smith and Heinlein. But all of those will be there in the full book, as well.  

In this TOC, you'll find links to many of the earlier blog postings and magazine articles I've revised and spliced together into (I hope) a cohesive manual for agile politics.

Avidly vigorous pre-readers are already at work. The ebook is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

POLEMICAL JUDO -- Table of contents

Chapter 1           Intro – Americans (left, center
                           and saner right) must learn Judo Polemic 

Chapter 2           Beliefs we share, like suspicion of authority

Chapter 3           Profiles In Judo - IThe Greatest Generation, Adam Smith,  Jonas Salk, Lincoln and… AOC


Chapter 4           End the Cheating First 

Chapter 5           The War on All Fact People  


Chapter 6           Credibility? How Often the Right Has Just Been Wrong

Chapter 7           Oh, the Conspiracies!

Chapter 8           Poison and Antidote - Blackmailers, Henchmen and Whistleblowers

Chapter 9         America’s place in the world. Part 1: Pax Americana and the Rise of China

                        ISSUES THAT MATTER TO FACTIONS 

Chapter 10       Government is the problem?   
                                    Plus… Emergency Readiness and Resilience
Chapter 11       Economics – No, you don’t get Adam Smith… and Other Rationalizations 

Chapter 12       Unreliable Allies: Overcoming Splitterism    
                    Plus… Not just Adam Smith. Goldwater, Hayek and Heinlein… steal their icons!

Chapter 13       Can We make a Deal? “What Would Adults Do?”

Chapter 14       America’s place in the world Part 2:
                                Russia and the need for allies and high moral ground

Chapter 15       Hammer the macho with Wagers! The Name an Exception Challenge 

                        CIVIL WAR

Chapter 16       Our 250 year Family Feud – “Phase 8 of the Civil War?”   

Chapter 17       Exit Strategies – Impeachment, Indictment, the 25thAmendment and all that.  


Richard said...


Where do I place my preorder?

mythusmage said...

When will it be available, for how much, and will it be POD?

kiwi said...


Lloyd Flack said...

The thing is, I actually do pity Trump. He is so out of his depth that he is pathetic. Yes, I scorn and dislike him as well.

Larry Hart said...

From Krugman's lips to God's ear (emphasis mine) ...


The scary thing is that around 35 percent of Americans will probably believe whatever excuses Trump comes up with. But that won’t be enough to save him.

scidata said...

And I suspect that a good chunk of that 35% will not be enthusiastic orange voters. The 'all politicians are crooks' narrative now encompasses everyone.

Larry Hart said...


I think that's what Dr Brin was lamenting. The meme to push isn't that Trump is a crook (like all the other crooks). But rather that he puts his own personal interests ahead of those of the United States, therby damaging the honor, credibility, etc of the country (unlike any other president ever).

scidata said...

Dr. Brin is a darned good SF writer. That's where my hope lies.

David Brin said...

Okay. I have three e-books I plan to post before the end of the year.

1. Pretty much ready is THE ANCIENT ONES, my sci fi comedy. I'll be posting the e-book for maybe $3.99 to rouse some chuckles, out there. And yes, humor is hard!

2. My big book of Brin blogs on politics... POLEMICAL JUDO... is moving almong, partly thanks to pre-readers like Alfred and Catfish. It now seems likely to come out in two parts, hoping for Part 1 before the end of the year, so that maybe -- (small odds) some pundit or politician actually decides to try something different for a change. 100+ agile tactics till-now ignord by all our 'generals' in this phase of civil war.

3. VIVID TOMORROWS is my compilation of essays about sci fi and Hollywood, spanning everything from Tolkien to The Matrix, from Star Wars to Stargate to GATTACA. Still getting lively feedback from pre-readers on that one.

In fact, I'll still make adjustments based on feedback from way-cogent pre-readers for each.

A.F. Rey said...

In case you missed it--Campfire Songs of the New Civil War:

(I suspect this will be expanded upon in the near future.) :)

awbryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mythusmage said...

David, thank you for your advice.

That's where you can find the post in question.

David Brin said...

Heh cute mythusmage.

mythusmage said...

And it's your fault.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I like it. "I come not to praise Cesaer..."

David Brin said...

In my book I say: "I have not come to praise Democrats, but to berate them."

It's 1862 and time to find Grant and Sherman and Thomas.

duncan cairncross said...

Dr Brin

Back to your book

The "Both sides are the same" Lie

That is one of the GOP's most powerful memes - maybe a bit more emphasis about not believing it???

I like mythusmage's piece - it had me growling for a couple of minutes until it kicked it

mythusmage said...


Aint waking up a bitch?

locumranch said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Brin said...

locum knows we are skimming past his ravings, so he's gone screeching bold. I will not abide such rudeness.

mythusmage said...

Actually, Dave, I don't think he's gone far enough. For a real impact how would you make it worse? I mean, so bloody obvious even for the obtuse it's bloody obvious.

Catfish 'n Cod said...

I have a new coinage to share, to describe what is now an important development in political science:

etymology: from ancient Greek kassiteros, tin, via Greek kapelo kassiterou, tinfoil hat

1. Rule by those who subscribe to conspiracy theories; notionally, those who wear tinfoil hats.
2. A system of government based on the advocacy for and support of theories and beliefs in direct contradiction of known fact, thus intrinsically opposed to the assertion of and search for facts and truth.

See also: kakistocracy

scidata said...

I'd like to see scientific literacy described more often in terms of bravery vs cowardice. Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins were always quite good at this. Let's see some real individualism and free thought.

"If you are squeamish don't prod the beach rubble."
- Sappho

locumranch said...

Heh. I apologise for my 'modest proposal' sales pitch about how our host could double or treble his market share by fear-mongering to his opposition, the point being that (1) the political views he thinks palatable are tantamount to poison to his political opposition and (2) an ebook sale is an ebook sale.

Disagreements & controversy are to be expected by someone who self-identifies as a contraryist, n'est pas? Or, does contraryism now connote an allergy to contradiction & a preference for safe-spaces?


David Brin said...

Cassitocracy... kewl. Was already using Kakistocracy...

David Brin said...

Because it wasn't a screech in bold, I skimmed the faux-"apology." Back to vitamin-free, counterfactual strawmanning. We are wa-a-a-a-ay over here fellah. But have fun with your imaginary tar babies. I am back to ignoring.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"The "Both sides are the same" Lie"

False equivalency is the modus operandi of the GOP. If your guy is accused of serial murder, point out that the other guy got a parking ticket, over and over until the inattentive public shrugs and decides they're both criminals. If Trumps and his spawn have hundreds of massive scandals, belabor Hunter Biden and his somewhat sleazy connexions in the Ukraine. The sad thing is that it works more often than not. Compared to Trump, Biden is Sir Lancelot, but in the eyes of the public, they're both just the same.

TCB said...

The Trump Gang's attempts to get other nations (Ukraine, Australia, China, and anyone else they could recruit) to investigate political rivals, and their corruption of the Justice Department under Barr, may seem like some sort of half-assed amateur hour hijinks. But make no mistake... what they're trying to do has worked very well in other countries, and it has worked on occasion in this country too.

In Brazil, Glenn Greenwald et al blew the lid off Operation Car Wash, the vaunted and massive "anti-corruption" investigation that led to the impeachment and removal of President Dilma Rousseff and the imprisonment of former President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva, hugely popular left-leaning shoo-in to win the next presidential election. Lula is basically the Bernie Sanders of Brazil. Noam Chomsky said this of him:

So, what they did with Lula da Silva, who was ahead in the polls, [was to put him] in jail for twenty-five years, in solitary confinement. Not permitted to read anything and not permitted to make a statement. My wife, Valeria, and I visited him in jail. Twenty-five years of solitary, that’s a death sentence essentially. But, crucially, he was not permitted to make a statement — unlike murderers on death row, who are allowed to talk. His favorite grandson just died and after a lot of negotiations they permitted him to leave to attend the funeral for one hour, but not to say anything …. If he survives, it’ll be amazing. He’s easily the most important political prisoner in the world.

And this left the door open for the fascist Bolsonaro to win election. Next up: murder the Indians, bulldoze the Amazon, sell all the resources, get filthy rich.

So what was Lula's BIG CRIME? and what of Rousseff? Wel. Welll well wellllll...

Greenwald's team at Intercept was leaked a trove of documents proving that Judge Sérgio Moro, who ran the investigation, was not impartial at all, but actually running a far-right coup masquerading as crime busting, boosting Bolsonaro, coaching prosecutors, crafting press attacks, and pressuring Supreme Court judges. Moro is now Bolsonaro's 'super justice minister'.

Former President Rousseff describes her impeachment as an illegal coup. And it appears Lula is as innocent as Andy Dufresne.


Now, as to such railroading happening here in the United States, I refer you to the case of Don Siegelman, former Democratic Governor of Alabama, who had the 2002 re-election stolen from him and was railroaded to federal prison by minions of Karl Rove on bullshit bribery charges.

The linked article is a 2015 plea to President Obama to pardon Siegelman, but presidential pardons are apparently only for people like Joe Arpaio. Obama, for mysterious (but probably stupid) reasons, couldn't be arsed.

reason said...

Shame about the sources of that information. Is there a better source? Yes those particular prosecutions in Brazil did stink.

Unknown said...

's funny that the crime I really want the future ex-president prosecuted for is altering a NWS hurricane forecast. It incensed me that that the NWS published anything critical of the AL NWS forecaster's statement that AL was no longer in any danger from Dorian. Canute may have ordered the tide to stay out and gotten his feet wet as an object lesson to his courtier, but attempting to degrade public trust in the NWS just to save face is not only dangerous - it shows a disregard for objective truth.
This is my wheelhouse, and my ox has been gored.


Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

False equivalency is the modus operandi of the GOP. If your guy is accused of serial murder, point out that the other guy got a parking ticket, over and over until the inattentive public shrugs and decides they're both criminals.

Even simpler than that--what they do is poison the well. By the time you accuse them of their actually-egregious behavior, it just sounds like both sides shouting "So's your old man!" The public doesn't have to think our guy is a crook too--they simply have to tune out the noise of all of the accusations.

Over the weekend, my local Chicago news channel ran a story from Cobb County Georgia, formerly Newt Gingrich's district. It was a meeting of Cobb County Republicans, and the thrust of their message was that they're "tired of hearing about impeachment". Obvious from the context, they're not tired of hearing Trump's endless tweeting. No, they're tired of hearing about the evidence that Trump abuses his office. They're willing to let the offense slide because they're sick of hearing about it. How do we fight that?

Zepp Jamieson said...

LH: " How do we fight that?"

Offend and embarrass them. Ask them if "they're tired of" meeting their responsibilities as citizens. Ask them when they got tired of hearing about Benghazi. Ask them if they're tired of Rush Limbaugh or Tucker Carlson yet. Tell them WE'RE tired of THEM.

Larry Hart said...

@Zepp Jamieson,

Personally, I'm on board with all you just said.

But the rejoinder I keep getting to that--not just from right-wingers, but from thoughtful columnists and people here on this list, is that the reason these people vote for Trump is because Democrats won't sympathize with their concerns. Essentially, we make them feel bad.

So if offending and embarrassing them just drives them into Trumpland, I repeat, "How do we fight that?"

scidata said...

Larry Hart: I repeat, "How do we fight that?"

The Cheeto embezzles paltry millions while strutting in the spotlight with pompous delusion. His puppetmasters steal trillions, indeed entire countries and our posterity's happiness, as they push soma and go virtually unnoticed. Jefferson really nailed it. It all comes down to the vigilance of the citizenry. The fault is not in our stars, or legislation, or one sociopathic clown. The fault is in ourselves: culture, education, and collective/individual character.

A republic, if you can keep it.

The solution is a literate and engaged citizenry. I'm all-in on citizen science for that reason. As a bonus, it will also get us to the stars sooner.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Well, that lot are already in Trumpland, aren't they? Core Newt Gingrich Republicans, impervious to facts and they think honesty and fairness are flaws. Don't hesitate to insult THEM. Now, the remaining mainstream Republicans, most independents, and a large majority of Democrats DO feel that the party doesn't address their wants and desires. This is particularly true in the rust belt and the working poor. Caving to Trump and his propaganda machine won't improve that one little bit. (And I'm not suggesting you were saying anything like that, Larry). Democrats are going to have to get in their faces and stand for strong, positive things. Warren and Sanders both excel at this.

Jon S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon S. said...

Offending and embarrassing them doesn't "drive them into Trumpland" - they're already there. There's an outside chance you might get some of them to leave Trumpland, but that would require them to examine why they're where they are in the first place, and in my experience most folks are disinclined to do so (in the words of Robert Heinlein, "Mankind is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal").

I mean, it's worth a shot to see if maybe you can shake their worldview and induce an "Are we the baddies?" moment. Like I said, you can't drive them any more firmly into the arms of Daddy Donnie, because that's where they live now. Just don't feel too disappointed when they pretend you've done exactly that when you asked them to consider their own biases.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Are we the baddies?"
Nice shout-out to Mitchell and Webb.
The GOP are more of a cult than a political movement these days, and one of the prime inculcations of a cult is that all outsiders lie about the cult and its leader.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Well, that lot are already in Trumpland, aren't they? Core Newt Gingrich Republicans, impervious to facts and they think honesty and fairness are flaws. Don't hesitate to insult THEM. Now, the remaining mainstream Republicans, most independents, and a large majority of Democrats DO feel that the party doesn't address their wants and desires. This is particularly true in the rust belt and the working poor.

Yes, I wasn't talking about the true Trump Believers. I meant the Republican voters who are wary or ashamed of Trump, and yet will vote for him because they think a Bernie Sanders or an Elizabeth Warren is too terrible to contemplate, even if the alternative is Trump, because he at least sounds like he's on their side.

To some extent, yes, Democrats should pay attention to and address the needs of the rust belt and the working poor. But what about when the needs and concerns they want addressed are the maintenance of their White Christian privilege? How can we stand for equal rights and justice for all when a significant segment of the voting population cares more about codifying their socio-political dominance? For the third time, how do we fight that?

Zepp Jamieson said...

"How can we stand for equal rights and justice for all when a significant segment of the voting population cares more about codifying their socio-political dominance? For the third time, how do we fight that?"

We can't. What's more, we shouldn't. There's nothing to be gained from pandering to dominionists and supremacists. Call them out for what they are, and otherwise don't bother with them. Hopefully, most voters don't align with them. If most voters do, the country is lost.

yana said...

Zepp Jamieson thought:

"Call them out for what they are, and otherwise don't bother with them. Hopefully, most voters don't align with them. If most voters do, the country is lost."

Luckily, they are lately eager to self-identify. Obviously they're not "most voters", because a Republican has not won the majority vote for President since 2004, and only that one time since 1988, like 31 years ago. Was worried that the social stigma of displaying the stars-n-bars would make it harder for the normals to spot the supremacists, but they are right out in front, in the social camsphere nowadays.

Last gasp, is my guess. In their eyes, the orange guy is their last hope. If they can't build up\with his "movement" then their nemesis du jour will have won, be it the socialists last month, career intel officers this month, and that itsy Swedish girl next.

The real trick, a few years from now, will be telling their videographed polemics apart from actual journalism. You can make any video'd face say anything you want. You know that, right? That's our world now, and vexingly, it arrived before Brin's wish of transparency. Total reality awareness is kinda useless if reality is so easily manufactured. Next? On ward?

Alfred Differ said...

I don't think Larry wants us 'fighting that' in a way that surrenders principles. His question (I think) is more along the lines of asking for a successful strategy for getting what 'we' want.

My first thought is that 'fighting that' misses the point. They are playing the victim card. Oh boo hoo. I'm losing my white, christian privileges. I'm willing to burn the house down now because it's not worth living in. Woe is me.

My second thought aligns with how cults defend themselves. You open your mouth to say something negative about the leader and you lie... by definition. When caught in that situation, keep your mouth closed and work at depriving them of their leader.

My third thought derives from Altemeyer. Right Wing Authoritarian Followers (RWAF) are quite numerous but mostly gelded when power is divided. Right Wing Authoritarians (RWA) can't do much more than rant and annoy without activated followers. Convincing followers not to follow is asking them to go against human nature (theirs), so the only realistic option is to deprive them of leaders who can do much of anything.

Lastly, voting your own leaders in to displace theirs only works for a short time. You'll lose an election some day and they will be back OR you'll fall in love with YOUR leader and become RWAF. ('Right' doesn't mean 'political right' to Altemeyer.) Your leaders can lose or be just as dangerous if you become RWAF.

The solution is one that is difficult for Progressives to digest. [I think it is the only fight worth fighting with respect to governance.] DIVIDED GOVERNMENT WITH LIMITED SCOPE. We all might be better off not empowering government to do a good thing than setting a precedent our opponents can use when they gain power to do a 'good' thing. They do eventually, right? Gain power? Y'all aren't invincible.

George Carty said...

Larry Hart: To some extent, yes, Democrats should pay attention to and address the needs of the rust belt and the working poor. But what about when the needs and concerns they want addressed are the maintenance of their White Christian privilege?

How much did Trump owe his election victory to US internal migration, in the sense of young liberals fleeing the rust belt for non-competitive states (New York, the Pacific States and Texas) leaving behind an electorate made up disproportionately of old bigots, while wealthy (and thus conservative) boomers from those states in turn moved to Florida for their retirement?

Larry Hart said...

Imagine if it were the other way around, if, as in some 1980s political dystopia, most of the US had been taken over by stereotypical black power, feminazi nanny-staters, and white Christians had fled to a few strongholds in (say) Idaho and Kansas and Oklahoma. Now, imagine that the lefties pressed their electoral and Senate advantage to force their will on those enclaves.

There would be such a cry upon the land that surely we would let the people go.

In my summer daydream, the same dynamic works the other way around. But then it's not summer any more, and as Game of Thrones keeps telling me, winter is coming.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@yana: Yes, "deep fakes" are here. We all saw the Key-to-Obama a couple of years back, and the technology is such that we could see an "Alex Jones does Elizabeth Warren" now. How well they will work in terms of disinformation remains to be seen--we heard similar concerns with the rise of "trick photography", CGI, and Photoshop, and the fakes get spotted pretty readily.
I'm watching the ongoing implosion of the Trump regime this morning--Guiliani found to have done exactly what they are accusing Hunter Biden of, the abandonment of Syrian Kurds, and the court order to release Trump's tax returns, and figure that attacking Greta is about the only diversion Trump has left. His following will then be pretty much reduced to the toxic incels who are furious that Greta won't bang them because she's out of their league.

Larry Hart said...

Apropos nothing directly, but I just overheard something at work that verifies something I was trying very hard not to know.


Real life is messy.

David Brin said...

GC, Dubois pointed out that moving just a hundred thousand blacks to wellchosen sites in Mississippi, from Alabama, would transform both. I cannot understand why some millionaire hasn't quietly been fostering this.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

What makes you so sure that Republicans haven't been doing something like that, making sure that liberals are self-gerrymandered into California, Illinois, and New York?

Larry Hart said...

This is what I'm afraid of...


I returned to Van Buren County [Arkansas] at the end of 2017 after 20 years living on the East Coast, most recently in the Washington area, because I’m writing a book about Clinton, Van Buren’s county seat. My partner and I knew it would be a challenge: The county is very remote, very religious and full of Trump voters, and we suspected we’d stand out because of our political beliefs.

Since coming back, I’ve realized that it is true that people here think life here has taken a turn for the worse. What’s also true, though, is that many here seem determined to get rid of the last institutions trying to help them, to keep people with educations out, and to retreat from community life and concentrate on taking care of themselves and their own families. It’s an attitude that is against taxes, immigrants and government, but also against helping your neighbor.

Most Americans live in cities, but our political system gives rural areas like Van Buren outsize voting power. My time here makes me believe that the impeachment scandal will not hurt Mr. Trump — and that Democrats who promise to make the lives of people like my neighbors better might actually help him.


Alfred Differ said...

The people trying to help them are stealing their children.

Catfish 'n Cod said...

By the by -- I missed that yesterday was our host's birthday. Many happy returns, Dr. Brin.

And what are you referring to re: MS and AL? I'm not sure what Dubois you are referring to. As matters stand, the Trumpists here hallucinate that voters are being bused across county and state lines to cheat in elections; I don't want to think about what they'd do if they learned of a deliberate effort to shift the electorate.

Nonetheless, Mississippi and Alabama are on different trajectories anyway. Alabama has two successful cities, Birmingham and Huntsville, with not only major population growth but (critically) inbound migration of educated and creative talent. It might take a while longer than it has in Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and Texas; but Alabama may yet eventually become a purple state (to the consternation of many here, no doubt).

Mississippi has no such magnetism. There is only one major conurbation, Jackson; and it has very little character other than being the administrative center of the state. Most other conurbations of any stature are satellites of larger cities outside the state -- Memphis, New Orleans, Mobile. However, Mississippi does reattract African-American families whose roots go deep there, and having sought better fortunes in the Great Migration of the 20th century, see no reason to remain in the Rust Belt when cost of living is so much cheaper "back down South".

If Mississippi flips one day, it will likely be a black-dominated Democratic Party that emerges. Alabama, in contrast, would be an educated progressive / black alliance with dashes of Hispanic for seasoning.

@Larry: that describes several counties near the place I grew up. Not my actual hometown, which managed a partial turnaround through massive efforts at self-improvement and self-promotion, and is relatively prosperous compared to its surroundings as a result. We talk of 'depressed' areas, but these are 'despaired' areas. And they are the hard core of Trumpism as a result, as the essence of Trumpism is despair that the American political system is redeemable.

Fortunately, those are not the places that are the deciding, tipping-point locations.

These places are, and the news from there is better.

Catfish 'n Cod said...

@Alfred: That's what they tell themselves so they don't have to face the reality: that they are driving their best children away. Breaks their hearts, many of them, to know that their home doesn't want them unless they give up who they are and live a lie.

Alfred Differ said...

What they tell themselves is the key to how they vote and what they fight. We say ‘Can I at least help your kids?’ They see indoctrination. Whether it comes from Cookie Monster or a modern version of Wonder Woman the message penetrates.

Change happens. Surviving it requires cooperation and adaptation.

David Brin said...

Catfish, okay I am converted - especially after recent sojourn in Huntsville. Find some way to buy up some poor Alabama towns that are located just right to stymie gerrymandering. Then encourage Mississippi blacks to move there with promise of jobs etc. Then develop and sell the places they moved from in MS. If done right, it might break even. Yes, GA and SC are likely too expensive. Once it's fully underway and visible, tout it openly as a land/homes swap So the reddest Bamians choose to participate in hope of helping make a truly deep red Mississippi.

So deep-red it could draw in all the McVeighs and let them have their paradise.

David Brin said...

I sent a note to Kim Wright at Stonekettle, asking if he'd look at my political judo book, which mentions him. Never a response. Guess I'm too much of a small fry...

Larry Hart said...

Maybe he didn't appreciate being called Kim? :)

Zepp Jamieson said...

@Dr. Brin

Perhaps if you hinted that your first name is Sergei...?

David Brin said...

This Vox article on “9 scenarios for how the Trump-Ukraine impeachment process could end” is a pretty interesting conversation starter. But it leaves out at least half a dozen more. Such as party leaders talking Trump into taking a leave of absence, or several different weird scenarios under the 25th amendment. And the scariest of all… the one that makes Bond-villain logic for Putin and McConnell, giving them a win win win scenario, eliminating the liability while riling up his supporters to a rabid frenzy… martyrdom.

Um, I mean Jim Wright....

TCB said...

@ Larry Hart, there is indeed a good Republican. His name is Bill Weld.

If there is another good Republican, though, I can not name them.

TCB said...

From 2014: The Kurds: America's Greatest Ally in the Middle East.

October 2019: Donald Trump throws these heroic people to the wolves, apparently for the sake of his Istanbul hotel property.

Will THIS finally anger enough Republicans to end his misrule? If not, they are ALL traitors. (Bill Weld, the evergreen exception. He okay in my book.)

Alfred Differ said...

Jim Wright spends a lot of time active on Twitter responding to bits and pieces of what comes out of the fire hose from trolls and politicians alike. Getting his help would probably require an intervention first to get his attention on the request.

Heh. If he DID help, you'd probably get an occasional comment for lacing in a bit more profanity. 8)

Instead of judo, I suspect he'd rather just smack them.

Larry Hart said...


The "good Republican" I mentioned is a fantastic co-worker (as well as a hot babe, but I'm not allowed to notice that) who is going to make my career take off if I play my cards right. I've suspected for a long time that she leans Republican and I've tried my best to "la-la-la-I'm-not-listening" refuse to know that for sure, but now I do. I have said often, truthfully, that I would risk my life to save hers in an active shooter situation. Strange planet.

As to the Kurds thing, I was going to post about that myself, having just heard Malcolm Nance talk about it on WCPT radio this afternoon. Benedict Donald is not only screwing over our allies, but making it clear to one and all that there is no percentage in being an ally of the United States. This will do permanent damage that can't be repaired by impeachment or elections.

To the "Pence is worse" faction...consider me a serious doubter of that proposition?

Alfred Differ said...

Y'all should be careful about siding with the Kurds too much. What Trump appears to be doing is obviously wrong, but the situation is actually quite complex.

1. The Kurds don't actually get along with each other all that well. There are at least two distinct factions and probably a third. Given a chance to unite against a single opponent, they probably wouldn't.

2. The Kurds fighting ISIS are mostly of one faction, but they are hostile to the Turks... with good reason. They've been helpful to the US, but so has Turkey over many years. US best interests are actually to have the Kurds remain a thorn in the Turkish side, but not so big as to be more than a regional nuisance.

3. If the Kurdish faction in the Turkish sphere of influence wanes, the Kurdish faction in the Persian sphere of influence gains. Turkey won't want that, so they have historically self-restrained. Look at the history and you'll find the Kurds used as pawns by Ottomans and Persians to fight in the border region that is today called Iraq.

4. Some Kurds have oil and gas on their lands, but they rely on pipelines going through neighboring countries to sell it. The so-called nations in which they reside claim those reserves, but are better positioned to controls flows through the pipes. Never forget this as it controls who can afford to do what.

5. This is a region of the world where genocide is NOT a dirty word. It is a fact of life. There are reasons they don't get along that are unlikely to make sense to most Americans who live a very protected life.

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred Differ,

To me, it's not about liking the Kurds. It's about betraying allies. It's the fact that he is making America's word and friendship meaningless. Why would anyone ever risk anything in our service again?

And that this move is apparently not even for any kind of realpolitik national interest, but for Trump's personal profit from a hotel makes it even more egregious. Unless Republican war-hawks think we can continue fighting the wars they love without allies, I wonder how they'll excuse him this time around. Lindsey Graham must not know who to root for.

TCB said...

In the Heart of Syria's Darkness, a Democratic, Egalitarian and Feminist Society Emerges

I am a Rojava fan and I don't give a hot fart who has a problem with that. The fledgling United States wasn't all roses and chocolates, either. This planet would be a better places if democracies helped democracies survive in all cases and times, and not just during Roosevelt and Truman administrations.

David Brin said...

That article from 2014 doesn't begin to tell the whole story. In subsequent years, the Kurds proved decisive against ISIS. Their varied factions disagree on many things, but all hold to a dream of western modernism, as evidenced by their stalwart, strong-willed and assertive women, who have played major roles on the battlefield. (We could have had all of this too from the southern Shiite Arabs, had not George HW Bush betrayed them to Saddam in 91, the worst US president of the 20th Century.) Now Trump aims to betray them. Know about this crime. Raise it up toward the top of the list. This is how Putin, through his puppet, is rewarding Erdogan for joining the axis that runs through Crimea, Lataika, Damascus, Baghdad to Tehran.

TCB said...

I just read that Trump's and Erdogan's action (the Turks appear to be bombing the Kurds already, after the latter agreed to remove border fortifications) may literally be a war crime under the Geneva Convention.

It's called perfidy.

"In the context of war, perfidy is a form of deception in which one side promises to act in good faith (such as by raising a flag of truce) with the intention of breaking that promise once the unsuspecting enemy is exposed (such as by coming out of cover to attack the enemy coming to take the "surrendering" prisoners into custody). Perfidy constitutes a breach of the laws of war and so is a war crime, as it degrades the protections and mutual restraints developed in the interest of all parties, combatants and civilians. [...] Perfidy is specifically prohibited under the 1977 Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949"

Catfish 'n Cod said...

@Dr. Brin: Your scheme as described runs too much risk of a challenge under the Fair Housing Act. And trying to turn Mississippi ruby is a *harder* lift -- the population is nearly 40% black as is!

Besides which, you're not thinking nearly big enough.

First plan out where to put new company towns in MS and AL. Then buy up cheap abandoned/depressed areas in Northern cities -- Detroit, Chicago, Rochester -- in states blue enough that migration won't tip them. Recoup some of the expenditure by selling them (with incentives for skills and educational partnerships!) much nicer and larger homes in the company towns. You'll have to overpay for the lots up North, but those can be turned to profits by then redeveloping *those* areas. Heck, you can answer "gentrifying" concerns by even offering to transfer people to keep neighborhoods together! Similar street names and so forth.

If done carefully enough, this doesn't involve anyone in your employ doing any discrimination at all -- the discrimination's already been done for you, by the redliners of the last century and the mismanaging elite of the South that left opportunities lying about. Southern leadership will tie itself into knots for Big Business to bring in jobs; spread the wealth just a bit and you'll get local buy-in easily -- except, of course, for those for whom prejudice overrides even narrow self-interest.

At which point you turn around and offer them a deal on their own lovely retirement community... in the state that has always, from the Revolution on, held the banner as the bantustan of oligarchy and white privilege... South Carolina.

Do this right and you'll even get Wall Street investment, and everyone on every corner makes a profit... which shields you from the right... while also reversing the Great Migration and uplifting African-Americans into the middle class... which shields you from the left... and reversing the historical race-based wealth transfer bias... which gets you MASSIVE alliance with POC... and none of it depends on ideology, yours or theirs; it is simply exploiting the massive arbitrage created by the history of American racial discrimination!

Talk about positive sum.

Larry Hart said...


If Republicans are willing to challenge Trump on his foreign policy, including the disposition of American troops abroad, then the difference when it comes to Ukraine — as well as other scandals, like the president’s continued corruption and self-dealing — may just be that they don’t see a problem. You can read Senator Marco Rubio’s willingness to downplay Trump’s open call to intervene in the 2020 election as a craven surrender, or you can take it at face value: Maybe Rubio just doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal.

None of this would be out of character for congressional Republicans. These are the lawmakers who refused to fix the Voting Rights Act after the Supreme Court killed a key provision of the law in 2013. They said nothing when Trump tried to launch a crusade against imaginary “voter fraud.” They are at best indifferent to the restrictive laws and voter purges that keep millions of Americans from the polls.

Sometimes, the simplest answer is the correct one. Why are most Republicans silent in the face of the president’s attempt to cheat his way to re-election? Perhaps it’s because they don’t think it’s wrong — or because they don’t care if it is.

scidata said...

One of the sad things about the current state of DC is the Gong Show that announcing the discovery of life on Mars would be. It would be like a spiritual holiday feast where the gross uncle chunders in the soup tureen.

Tony Fisk said...

Talk about getting Mississippi to flip reminds me that Montgomery, Alabama just elected a black mayor.

(Not quite sure of the significance of this in the overall scheme of things US.)

Darrell E said...

The Republican Party's major tactics have been The Big Lie, poisoning the well / false equivalency, historical revisionism, and very specifically to demonize and redefine the terms / concepts "socialism" and "liberal." All of these tactics have the purpose of creating a false reality and convincing enough people to believe enough of it to support them in two ways. To vote for them and to side with them or at least give them a pass on any of the unsavory, unethical and even illegal activities they engage in.

Another major factor in how we've gotten to where we are now, and the RP and it's supporters have had a hand in this too, has been the press. They've largely abdicated their responsibilities to safeguard our democracy by keeping the public accurately informed.

Lately some news outlets have been trying to correct this, but they always seem to get it wrong. For example, lately I've been watching a news channel called "Newsy" (?). Their mission statement is to give factual unbiased information to the public. However, what it amounts to is they simply report what people have said. For example, they state what Trump or a Trump-minion has said and they state what someone on another side of the issue has said. But they say nothing, not a thing, about the factual accuracy of what has been said by either party. This format does nothing to better inform the public. I'm sure the reason they avoid doing so is because they think that offering any analysis of what has been said would be showing bias. Obviously, checking what people have said for factual accuracy and reporting any results is not bias, even if it makes one party look like a criminal scumbag. Yes, reality, especially these days, has a pretty severe liberal bias, but those are the facts.

David Brin said...

One of the most important chapters in my judo political book is about how to restore the power of facts.

matthew said...

Any of our resident conservatives want to try and defend Trump's actions regarding the Kurds? Anyone? Loco, ent,tacitus?
How about our libertarians? Any takers?
Anyone changing their mind about the wisdom of impeachment after this betrayal of our allies?

scidata said...

Another good Star Trek TOS was the doomsday machine that wiped out its creators before invading our space. Monsters gonna monst.

Fascinated by M87. Especially whenever I see a comment on it by our host.

Larry Hart said...

Gotta love the snark:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), even wants to host Giuliani before his committee, so as to give Trump's lawyer/fixer a high-profile platform in order to peddle his version of events. Given how openly, and how brazenly, Graham plies his trade, he really ought to be arrested and charged with solicitation.

Alfred Differ said...

Someone’s got something on him for sure.🥃

Alfred Differ said...

(Snark switch on)

No problem is so complex that it can't be dismissed with a single line, reflexive, libertarian quotation from a Founding Father, divorced from all context.

Extra points if real people are dying needlessly while knees are jerked!

(Paraphrased slightly from a friend of mine who most would argue is libertarian even if he does not.)

I have another libertarian friend who speaks of lightning rods. I’ll try to paraphrase him next.

Alfred Differ said...


From an anarchist-type libertarian friend of mine, the paraphrased response he gave me when I pointed out that he sounded like a cult follower...

"I like how Trump tends to be a lightning rod. A LOT of folks in the public sphere have been showing their true colors because of him, Dems and RINOS alike. This libertarian finds that very refreshing. That genie will never go back in the bottle."

I like the guy and chose not to respond. If I had I would have pointed out that the cheeto is more like the ifrit than the d'jinn. Stuff he touches tends to catch fire.

Not quite on point for his comment, though. He's liking how everyone else is having to drop their facades. He's deeply cynical about the real motivations people have for what they are doing. Remember the arguments for war against Iraq the first time? Save Kuwait? It's about oil! He would have sneered and said "Of course it is about the oil." So imagine putting up your best of intentions argument for some other activity you think is a good thing to do and he'd find your 'ulterior motive' or that your your master puppeteer. (Yah. I still like him. He's useful as a fun-house mirror for when I get all starry-eyed about some new project. He also means well even if he DOES have an escape plan if this next election goes as I've predicted for him.)

David Brin said...

Alas, Alfred, your pal is the worst kind of parasite. Aloof, smugly superior and contemptuous of all the hypocrites... while hypocritically wallowing in the riches, comforts, protections and rights vested to him by the most creative, just and decent (and indulgent) civilization of all time and by the sacrifices of heroes.

The civil service and "deep state" have been protecting us for 3 years, unsung and un celebrated, cauterizing and neutralizing most of the treason and insanity. But he controls promotions and many of them are fed up and demoralized. They can't hols out 5 more years. They are counting on us to rescue them. As citizen volunteers did in every other American war.

No one is asking your pal to be a democrat, whose first reflex to solved problems is to try government. What we can demand is that he admit the problems exist and come to the negotiating table with market incentives that would engender non-governmental solutions. To recall that "competition" should be the keyword for libertarians and not "property" since that is the weapon used by 99% of the oppressors of freedom and destroyers of competition, across 6000 years.

Jon S. said...

He's also pretty much wrong - if we had gone to war in Iraq for the oil, don't you think we'd have the oil by now?

No, we went to war in Iraq for a stupid geopolitical idea and Dubya's bruised ego.

Alfred Differ said...

Aloof, smugly superior and contemptuous of all the hypocrites... while hypocritically wallowing in the riches, comforts, protections and rights vested to him by the most creative, just and decent (and indulgent) civilization of all time and by the sacrifices of heroes.

Well… not really.

Aloof? Sorta, but in the sense that he doesn't suffer people who sit around and whine. He's active in the business sense and advocates for what he believes. He's one of the space nuts I know and his cynicism is handy when dealing with the rest of us who imagine ourselves brilliant in business.

Wallowing in riches? Yah. We all are. However, he wants those riches expanded as we move our civilization off-world with us. He genuinely wants an open frontier and helps make that happen... and not just for the golf buddy clade.

Rights vested in him…? Hah. That would certainly get a frown and a libertarian sermon would commence. Rights are Claimed Then Recognized! No grant occurs that carries any real meaning! (Should be in ALL CAPS.) I get what you are suggesting, but he'd swat it aside as so much faith in the illusion of liberty… and then point to cases where the illusion is exposed. He argues we are all deeply hypocritical… much the same way that progressives argue that we are all deeply guilty for past sins.

Just and Decent Civilization? Heh. That would start another sermon or he'd walk away. Like the progressives, he tends not to recognize recent partial progress. Very libertarian that way. 'Just and Decent' doesn't have anyone with a gun willing to point it at you for any reason involving governance… which basically means anarchy. Did I mention he is from that wing of thought? He's married too, so they aren't all single. 8)

What we can demand is that he admit the problems exist and come to the negotiating table with market incentives that would engender non-governmental solutions.

That he will do. He's been willing to do that for decades… and has through the space community. He's supported competitions among us and helped us learn the art that is an entrepreneurial life. In that setting, we just try to avoid talk of politics. In that setting, many of us space business people would not get along if we DID talk politics… so we don't… much. It's a rare thing to get libertarians (especially anarchists) to cooperate on a civilization-level vision with progressives and reactionaries, but it does happen now and then. He's among them, so I defend him.

Lately, though, it's hard not to talk politics. Too much at stake for simplistic crap and an inclination to set fire to the neighborhood. Lightening rods are supposed to protect our homes, not burn them to the ground.

Alfred Differ said...

Jon S,

You are thinking of the second war in Iraq involving junior.
Think about the first war with Poppa at the helm.

The argument "It's about oil" wasn't really about taking the stuff. It was about ensuring certain people didn't have too much of it and certain other people had what they used to have... because that benefited certain other people in the industry... who had existing relations with people wouldn't be able to deliver on them if certain other people managed to hold Kuwait.

Sigh. I didn't think much of the oil argument back then. I'm much more inclined to accept it today because Poppa was initially reluctant to intervene. He changed his mind after a visit by the UK Prime Minister who was soon not Prime Minister. I've little doubt he was told a story of 'economic and geopolitical ripples' that all stemmed from Saddam having 25% of the oil being brought to market.

jim said...

800,000 customers without electrical power in wealthiest state in the union ……… Nothing to worry about, everything is fine. It is totally not a sign of the ragged decent our country.

And remember what Ellen Digeneres says be kind to her war mongering, torture loving, war criminal in chief, and buddy George Bush.

Hate is for our current corrupt, rapey, creepy President. You know the one has so far refused to start a new war and declared an end to the Carter Doctrine. Got to impeach that guy.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Jim, it isn't the country, or the state that is responsible for the PG&E power lines fiasco. It's PG&E. State regulations mandated that PG&E engage in clearance of brush and trees along the power lines, But the state didn't have the will or the resources to ensure the PG&E spend the funds allocated on line clearance and maintenance for that. And PG&E decided it would be nicer to give the money to boardpersons and shareholders.
So PG&E ripped us off for 40 years, and now that it's caught up to them, they want us to pay for their crimes.

David Brin said...

The power outages in some of the richest counties are likely to propel a humungous rise in solar and grid independence.

Zepp Jamieson said...

That's what I'm hoping, Doctor. We're not in the PG&E area (PacPower) but we plan to go solar in the spring, along with a heat pump to heat/cool the house. I'm getting a bit old to be wrangling wood and want to reduce my carbon footprint.

jim said...

If those wealthy gated communities actually go off grid with solar, political support for existing grid will decline rapidly as will its reliability. That might force everyone else to try and get by on solar.

But I doubt the wealthy will go off grid – going off grid usually means looking at your energy expenditures and finding ways to reduce your need for energy as the first step. And then you need to change your habits so that you maximize your energy use when the sun is shining and reduce your usage when its not shinning. This kind of behavioral change is inconvenient to the wealthy so they are unlikely to do it.

If the wealthy do go off gird their grid will be backed up by conventional gas / oil generators running much of the time.

David Brin said...

Independence of grid doesn't mean off-grid. It means making your home a net generator that's able to cut off, at need. And there's a sweet spot where ten million islands make a healthy archipelago. But that takes smart collective-cooperative design.

We must not let the rich go their own way, as they did in air travel. We must take torches to the private jetports and chase them back into First Class where they belong and will share our pain. The pain will go down!

Zepp Jamieson said...

Nation-wide, some four million households will be solar by the end of next year. California has a strong incentive program that means for my home, costs should be wholly recouped within 18 months of installation. And yes, that includes home batteries for those amusing little "winter events" where it might take a day or two to dig out the panels. The state also has a $1,500 rebate on a heat pump, which has an efficiency rating 3.5 times better than any induction coil electric system, and five times that of a natural gas ducted furnace system. About one third the cost of same, as well.
We're also replacing our wood stove, a relic from a century ago. More efficient, and something we can cook on, because even with solar panels, only a fool depends solely on electric for heating and cooking.
We've had our power knocked out for up to ten days at a time by our winter weather, which can be fierce, and that wood stove, along with gravity fed water, saved our butts. Our biggest complaint was lack of internet. Even our phones and tablets have solar USB chargers.

jim said...

What if the wealthy go their own way?

You get the gated communities with a solar/ fossil fuel micro grid. (the electrical grid - optional)
Robo quadra copter limos for travel to and from the community. (the road system - optional)
Water wells or direct water capture from the air. (the water infrastructure – optional)
Satellite phones/ internet. (phone system - optional)
Septic tanks / biodigesters for organic waste. (sewer system - optional)
Amazon’s Airship Warehouse delivery system. (road, train, ports, store fronts – optional)
Local private security – (police – optional)

Public infrastructure becomes optional to the wealthy, so its quality and quantity will diminish rapidly.

Maybe this is the most likely way for us to collectively reduce our ecological footprint. Let a small portion of the population live in the lap of luxury while the rest of us get on with the difficult business of actually adapting our behavior to limits to growth.

David Brin said...

We must regulate. The rich must remail connected.

matthew said...

Screw the rich. I plan on hitting them with a 70% wealth tax and taking their ill- gotten and unearned gains away. They'll still be (comparatively) wealthy but not oligarchs. And when they try to flee to tax havens, we'll go after them there too. Our host has a story about that.
Taxation as theft? Well then I'm a fucking Robin Hood. Just a reminder that 90% of our current world problems are a direct result of a bunch of billionaire asshole libertarians that infected conservatism with their bullshit ideas about how they didn't owe the world around them their loyalty. About how regulation is against their gold-plated rights.
If the world dies, the scourge that is libertarianism is the #1 culprit.

David Brin said...

While we differ over polemic and degree, I have been foremost in declaring that the smart rich want merely to be rich is an ever-richer middle class civilization. But the will-to-oligarchy boils that wrote the horrors of human history leads the dumber oligarchs to surround themselves with sycophants and flatterers who tell them how inherently superior they are... exactly the route to stupidity that snared kings & lords and theocrats.

john fremont said...

@David Brin

We must not let the rich go their own way, as they did in air travel. We must take torches to the private jetports and chase them back into First Class where they belong and will share our pain. The pain will go down!

That may come to be as qualified pilots retire and newer ones are not training in the numbers they used to. Same goes for mechanics and avionics techs that keep them flying. Just like with auto mechanics, the amount of software needed to troubleshoot aircraft systems has required much more education to train up an aircraft mechanic than it used to. Just having a Pilot's or an Airframe and Powerplant mechanics license still may not keep a private Gulfstream or Learjet in the air on a cost effective basis.
Also, a lot of pilots and mechanics I know have left to go work for the airlines because they've gotten tired of working for private charters due to long hours, changing schedules on the owner's whim, being on call etc. The airlines offer regular schedules and for the most part when you punch the clock you're back on your time. Yes, the airlines will have the new pilots fly lousy routes or new mechanics work graveyard shifts but eventually they move in to better job situations with an airline.

Helicopter pilot training is even more expensive so the shortage of pilots for business rotorcraft is even more acute.

jim said...

I am all for vastly increasing the taxes on the wealthy, but they seem to be pretty opposed to it. And in our political system the wealthy have vastly more power so I am not too optimistic that we will be able to raise taxes on them to the extent needed.

It is more likely that we will end up subsidizing the independent eco communities for the wealthy, the techno benefits will trickle down to the rest of us. (yeah that’s it, that is the ticket, techno trickle down)

It a greenish new deal our corporate masters could really support:
subsidies for the wealthy to transition to less unsustainable communities,
and the steady decay of public infrastructure for the rest us. A real positive sum outcome for the wealthy.

David Brin said...

Well, economies of scale mean early adoption by the rich does often lead to more availability of tech to the middle. But those benefits are maximized if regualted as incentivized policy.

scidata said...

There may not be much time for new treason in the coming months. His 9-5 job will be signing and issuing pardons. Just wow.

Alfred Differ said...

maximized if regualted as incentivized policy


Depends on whether or not the regulators are trying to pick winners. When they do that, they are ripe for capture by people who want to be those winners. Job offers are a touch more subtle than outright bribes.

If the picking is done more broadly (say... for an industry) then that industry is likely to form a trade group with a purpose to capture the regulators. Revolving door employment opportunities are a common approach that can start with the best of intentions. [Seen it first hand.]

I'm not suggesting no regulation is possible.
I'm suggesting that 'picking winners' should be a scary horror movie phrase.

Alfred Differ said...


I plan on hitting them with a 70% wealth tax and taking their ill- gotten and unearned gains away.

You think you'll have a governing majority to pull this off? I don't.
A few candidates... yes.
A plurality in Congress... yes.
A majority in Congress and a President to sign the bills... no.
A filibuster-proof Senate? Hah.

David Brin said...

Alfred it depends on how explicit the war becomes.

matthew said...

I don't expect there to be 100 senators soon.
I don't expect there to be a filibuster soon.
I don't expect there will in a GOP in America soon.
But I do expect there will be a GOP in the Confederacy eventually.

Alfred Differ said...

Mmm... tumbrels and all they imply. I get that, but I don't want that. A modern version of the Reign of Terror will be MUCH more horrific. Modern weapons and all they imply.

If it comes to that kind of war, I'll be on Matthew's side of the field providing cover fire while he tries to kill the modern plantation owners.

If he actually tries to make that war happen, I'll be on the other side of the field with a spotting scope to get people too high on their own indignation.

Screw the rich?! Nah. Give me names, the crimes committed, and lets see how far we can chase the evidence for an old fashioned, rule of law indictment. Do it that way, and I'll be back on the right side of the field helping to bring down cheaters.

Alfred Differ said...


Yah. I already have my blue kepi, but you and your friends better work damn hard to avoid that kind of split or me and my friends will be very upset. Putin would be laughing his ass off if the future you describe unfolds.

Sobering thoughts I always keep in mind when I ponder my kepi.

1. Both sides vastly underestimated what it would take to win.
2. Both sides vastly underestimated what traumas they'd have to inflict on the other TO win.
3. Both sides vastly underestimated the secondary traumas to non-combatants.
4. Both sides were motivated to develop modern weaponry vastly improving their kill rates.

What could happen today?

1. A hot civil war in the US could kill everyone on the planet. Modern weaponry WOULD get used in a nation of angry barbarians... which is what we are. How? V. Vinge wrote about a few ways, but so have many others. TASAT.

2. If it doesn't kill us all, it could end the Enlightenment. Population would crash likely under 100M. That won't happen without us taking down other stuff with us. Again, TASAT.

About the only way out of this that involves a lot of internal violence in the US is a good old fashioned 1968-style city burning riot. Maybe a few of them. It has to stop with a few executions, though.

Satiation = survival.

scidata said...

The thing that's present today that wasn't throughout history:
Transistors. Great heaps of them.
I don't know how they'll sway things -- I don't think anyone does. We haven't been here before.

Alfred Differ said...

Computation is already in heavy use for the battlefield.
ON the battlefield requires impressive levels of robustness... which we could figure out... if fully motivated.

What would shock combatants (the way high fire rate machine guns did) is modern sensors tied in with automated weapons. I don't mean automatic reloading weapons. I mean no-human-at-the-trigger weapons.

That kind of war is coming, but I'd rather it not be us against ourselves.

scidata said...

There are myriad ways in which transistors have changed the world, going right back to McLuhan's global village. But it's gone way beyond that. There's actually a third entity on the field now. Not Terminator-esque AI, but a sort of 'silicon-film' that covers the planet from the deepest valley to orbital space. It was born through human agency, but it's all growed up now (or at least teenaged). It reminds one of Asimov's phrase "at the other end of the galaxy". SETI may wind up replacing the Extra-Terrestrial with New-Terrestrial. SNTI?

I haven't yet read the Uplift books. I'm sure our host has already marked some of the trail like a modern Arne Saknussemm.

Larry Hart said...

Paul Krugman pulls no punches now...


I don’t mean that Trump is stupid; a stupid man couldn’t have managed to defraud so many people over so many years. Nor do I mean that he’s crazy, although his speeches and tweets (“my great and unmatched wisdom”; the Kurds weren’t there on D-Day) keep sounding loonier.

He is, however, lazy, utterly incurious and too insecure to listen to advice or ever admit to a mistake. And given that he is in fact what he accuses others of being — an enemy of the people — we should be thankful for his flaws.


Catfish 'n Cod said...

@Larry: I noticed that, the last few days. Then again, we are at the point where we don't have the leisure to do anything but hard truth-telling.

@scidata: I believe in the Upliftverse, that would be the Machine Order, one of the eight Orders of Life. (We are in the Oxygen Order.)

As for a wealth tax or a millionaire-bracket income tax -- it could happen, eventually, but not off the bat. First and most readily accessible thing to do is massively expand investigation of tax cheating and fraud. Since the IRS is so demonized, and since it's gone beyond a revenue issue to a national security issue, either create a new FBI office or a different office altogether -- staff it with FBI counterintel, FBI RICO experts, IRS accountants, Treasury regulators, and some spooks; turn them loose and enforce the law.

The returns both political and financial will be massive, and you'll get tremendous popular support. Heck, you might get some ostriches to raise their heads, even out in Deep Redistan -- those that recognize that elite businessmen are more elite than businessmen. And most important of all, you'll roust out the means by which this entire assault on our core civilization components has been carried out.

Little tidbit from history: despite the massive shifts in 1932 -- net, 97 House and 12 Senate seats shifted blue that year -- the peak of New Deal Democratic power didn't come until later. Both the House and Senate were nearly evenly split in 1930; the tidal wave made it 70/30 in the House and 60/40 in the Senate. But Democrats picked up nine more Senate seats in 1934 and a further six in 1936 -- the 1937 Congress had an astounding five sixths of the Senate dominated by the New Deal progressives: 74 Democrats, two Farmer-Labor, one Progressive, and one independent defecting from the Republicans -- totaling 79 of the then 96 seats. By then, the House had reached 334-88, a 75/25 split.

It was the most power any party held in Congress for all the twentieth century, and in the top most dominated Congresses ever... though exceeded by 1866, when the Confederates so elected simply were arrested on the way to the Capitol. (Tennessee waited to hold its elections until the 13th and 14th amendments were ratified, and was therefore allowed to seat its Congressmen later in the session.)

Now this is a polarized environment -- but more so than the Civil War? Or the New Deal? I doubt it. And tremendously lopsided Congresses happened then.

So I can't endorse categorical declarations that it "can't happen".

David Brin said...

Again, there are narrow paths out of this for the putin-puppets. #1 is a US vs. Iran war. It is my private theory they have been trying to provoke this for 2 years, stymied by the skill and professionalism of true patriots. But now DT has ordered 2000 US troops to Saudi Arabia. #2 is simpler. Martyrdom, riling the red base to avenge their dear leader against the liberals celebrating his demise.
You must spread word we are alert to these tricks

#1 means spreading awareness of phrases like Tonkin Gulf Incident. Gleiwitz, Reichstag. Remember the Maine. Fort Sumter.
#2 means you lefties and liberals and moderates must spread word NOT TO CELEBRATE if something happens to Trump! We must express ANGER at Putin etc for inciting, using up and disposing of a crazy old man, like Howard Beale is used up and disposed of, in NETWORK!

Zepp Jamieson said...

Dr sez: "#2 means you lefties and liberals and moderates must spread word NOT TO CELEBRATE if something happens to Trump! We must express ANGER at Putin etc for inciting, using up and disposing of a crazy old man, like Howard Beale is used up and disposed of, in NETWORK!"

Easier said than done. If something, well, extralegal happened to Trump, only an utter fool would celebrate. If he gets impeached and then convicted then that would mean most of his support was already gone, in which case a few cheers might be in order.

I'm reminded of an episode of West Wing. The Dems had just won a big victory in the House, and Josh Lyman wanted to get in front of the cameras and brag a bit. Bartlett stops him and tells hem "we don't do that." "Why not? Sir" Lyman asks.

Bartlett's answer has always stuck with me: "Because we don't strut."

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Bartlett's answer has always stuck with me: "Because we don't strut."

That's one thing that's so incongruous about Trump. I've never seen a US president who so shamelessly self-promotes and metaphorically laughs at all his own jokes. Even before this latest "great and unmatched wisdom" thing, he always has to remind everyone that "Your favorite president" is himself. To me, that projects insecurity more than the opposite.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Reminded of another quote, from the highly-quotable Iroh: " Prince Zuko, pride is not the opposite of shame, but it’s source. True humility is the only antidote to shame. "

scidata said...

In the confusing first day after 911, the relief and support effort nearest to me (Toronto suburbs) was a local fire hall collecting donations of anything. People gathered to solemnly salute the Stars and Stripes. I expect that to be a common scene if anything bad happens again, not 'strutting'.

A.F. Rey said...

If something, well, extralegal happened to Trump, only an utter fool would celebrate.

Unfortunately, there will also be utter fools, on all sides of the aisles. Which means there will be those who will celebrate, and we will all be branded because of them. :(

Will they even believe our anger? (Especially when, deep down, we will be taking at least one small sigh of relief.)

Zepp Jamieson said...

@A.F. Rey
If we get through this intact, relief is definitely in order. Buddy of mine today suggested that the administration and most of the party apparatus should be brought up on RICO charges.

David Brin said...

scidata we are watching The Handmaid's Tale. A story of hyper unlikely scenarios... but Gof Bless Canada.

Re Civil War, this disturbing assumption that the military would stand by the GOP. We have to hope this guy is wrong. My own reading of the officer corps is more optimistic

“If Trump’s Rage Brings ‘Civil War,’ Where Will the Military Stand?”




Anonymous said...

Mr. B, any updates to progress on your POLEMICAL JUDO? Now less than ten months 'til an election, it is!