Saturday, November 30, 2019

The "culture war" underlying civil war

== A Growing Gap ==

The gap between the richest and the poorest U.S. households is now the largest it's been in the past 50 years.  The income gap grew wider in nine states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Texas and Virginia. “When asked why the rising economic tide has raised some boats more than others, Rodgers lists several factors, including the decline of organized labor and competition for jobs from abroad. He also cites tax policies that favor businesses and higher-income families.” But there are types of inequality. The middle class in California is not in the same collapse seen in many other states. Rather, the disparity rises there because poor folks come to California, and at the other end many people get rich developing actual goods and services that raise up ‘boats.” I wish these statistics parsed out that kind of wealth disparity (which also needs solving!) vs. the gap between parasite professions, inherited wealth, organized crime and cheaters on the one hand and working class folks. That is the much worse disparity that matters and will lead to revolution.

Why do evangelicals support Trump, a man who has bragged about sexual assault, lies perpetually and once admitted he never asks God for forgiveness? Recall the scene where Clintons and Obamas and Bidens and Sunday School teachers Jimmy & Rosalyn Carter all recite the Apostles' Creed largely by memory while the Trumps stand, bored and silent, then leave early. While rich televangelists preach a prosperity/Dominionist gospel that's opposite to Jesus's teachings, they blasphemously extol as "God's Chosen One" a tool of communist and salafist dictators who is the most opposite-to-Jesus human you can find.

“Trump's lack of knowledge of the Bible is also well-known. Nevertheless, many evangelical Christians believe that Trump was chosen by God to usher in a new era, a part of history called the "end times." Read this, if you don’t already know about this monstrously hypocritical and viciously hate-drenched cult, which eagerly supports Israel so that a final war can then ensue in which most Jews will suffer horrible death and eternal damnation… fanatics who pray daily for an end to all democracy, all science, curiosity, human ambition and accomplishment, praying also for events that would end the United States of America. Plus an end to the birth or joy of any new human children. Yes, all of that, explicitly… and Mike Pence avows openly to praying for all of that, daily.  

But back to the question: ‘Why do evangelicals support Trump?” Most fundamentally, it is because he enrages the people they hate most — smartypants, university modernist fact-people plus atheist/agnostics… but  above all those sincere religious folks and Christians who believe in a loving God who is not a viciously sadistic lunatic.

Now let me demur a bit. “Evangelical” is too broad a term and it lumps sincere “red Letter Christians” — those who like Jimmy Carter emphasize  the words of Jesus as printed in red, in many New Testaments, conflating them with the dominionist horrors who emphasize the brutally sadistic Book of Revelation, which is opposite to Jesus’s teachings in every conceivable way. “Fundamentalist works. But the dominionists who want our “stuff” are the true loonies.

== Will resistance turn into rebellion? ==

The 'Reasonable Rebels" by Eve Fairbanks, in The Washington Post, asserts that all of those who claim there is a moderate reasonable right are cloning, almost verbatim, the vernacular of Southern antebellum intellectuals, those proslavery rhetoricians “who talked little of slavery itself. Instead, they anointed themselves the defenders of “reason,” free speech and “civility.” The prevalent line of argument in the antebellum South rested on the supposition that Southerners were simultaneously the keepers of an ancient faith and renegades — made martyrs by their dedication to facts, reason and civil discourse.

“Josiah Nott, a surgeon who laid out the purported science behind black inferiority, held that questions like slavery “should be left open to fair and honest investigation, and made to stand or fall according to the facts.” They claimed that they were the ones who truly had black people’s best interests at heart, thanks to their more realistic understanding of human biology. “No one would be willing to do more for the Negro race than I,” John Wilkes Booth wrote shortly before he assassinated Lincoln.”

“The most important thing to know about them, they held, was that they were not the oppressors. They were the oppressed. They were driven to feelings of isolation and shame purely on the basis of freely held ideas, the right of every thinking man. Rep. Alexander Sims (D-S.C.) claimed that America’s real problem was the way Southerners were made to suffer under “the sneers and fanatic ebullitions of ignorant and wicked pretenders to philanthropy.””  Fairbanks captures the whining tone of persecution that pervaded nearly all Southern writings of the time… and meanwhile she commits a dishonesty of her own, by spreading the tar of that hypocrisy over to sentiments she dislikes, in the modern discourse.

Her parallels with the “reasonable right,” raise interesting questions and I have no problem with poking away at those folks who — nowadays — claim liberals are persecuting them. The problem is that we cannot afford to drive away potential allies in the current fight, even those who have been slow and tepid and unhelpful, till now.

I agree with her far more than I disagree! “One reason slavery was not abolished in America through the political process, as it was in Britain, is that abolitionists were rhetorically straitjacketed by the proposition that they were the hard-liners who sought to curtail freedom. When the Charleston Mercury wrote that it was the “duty” of Northerners to “prove” that they were willing to defend Southerners against “fanatics,” Northern newspapers reprinted the editorial. Northerners, not Southerners, had to watch what they said and strain to compromise so they didn’t confirm the dictatorial notion Southern rhetoricians had implanted in the public mind.”

But today I see what Lincoln feared. Nearly daily, I read some new figure appealing to antebellum reasoning. Joining the 'reasonable right' seems to render these figures desirable contributors to center-left media outlets. That’s because, psychologically, the claim to victimhood can function as a veiled threat. It tricks the listener into entering a world where the speaker is the needy one, fragile, requiring the listener to constantly adjust his behavior to cater to the imperiled person.

== Justifications for repressing us “mud-sill” members of the mob ==

Interesting recent research shed light on both ubiquitous surveillance and some mythologies about basic human behavior, like the “bystander effect,” the notion that neighbors or strangers won’t help, during situations of danger or conflict. A 2019 study in Holland showed that bystanders by and large do step in or engage, in order to resolve problems erupting nearby. at a more heroic level,  Rebecca Solnit, in A Paradise Built in Hell, shows that time and again our fellow citizens show pluck and guts in any crisis, as happened on 9/11, when 80 average folks rose up against hijackers aboard flight UA93. 
I tried to apply this notion of active citizenship in my novel The Postman, a theme that Kevin Costner successfully conveyed in his film adaptation. For all its many faults, Costner’s film kept true to my core message: that civilization’s miracle will never be preserved – or restored after any breakdown – by some lone hero. Its only chance will be a collective and widespread revival of faith in ourselves.

All of this runs counter to the dangerously toxic mythology spread among the dumber members of today’s elite aristocracies, who are encouraged by sycophants to view themselves as inherently superior to the mob of mere citizens out here, a rationalization for cheating power grabs that boringly goes back thousands of years of failed feudalism.

For years, I’ve described how our ‘culture war’ is not about “left-right’ or religion or any other surface issue. Racism is a major part, plus very different attitudes toward symbolism and feudalism. But the real struggle goes back to 1778 and we are in Phase Eight. I’ve also touted novels that starkly depict our current “civil war” going hot. First Sean Smith’s novel, Tears of Abraham and more recently Craig DiLouie’s Our WarSince the latter novel came out, an impeachment inquiry was launched, and right-wing media and militias have labeled it a soft coup by the Deep State, threatening civil war, while even the president himself indirectly threatened he’d refuse to recognize the results if removed from office. This all mirrors the setup of Di Louie’s novel. Beyond that prescience, Our War  portrays a tragic added factor, use by both sides of child soldiers.

And yes, those chapters on Civil War are in POLEMICAL JUDO. Order now.

== And finally ==

As talk spreads of a new American Civil War, you should compare these modern justification to the “mudsill theory” spread by pre-confederate slave holders.  That there must be, and always has been, a lower class for the upper classes to rest upon. 

The term derives from a mudsill, the lowest threshold that supports the foundation for a building. The theory was first used by South Carolina Senator/Governor James Henry Hammond, a wealthy southern plantation owner, in a Senate speech on March 4, 1858, to justify what he saw as the willingness of the lower classes and the duty of non-whites to perform menial work which enabled the higher classes to move civilization forward. "In all social systems there must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life. ... It constitutes the very mudsill of society." Efforts to reduce class or racial inequality, under this theory, inevitably run counter to civilization itself. Northern soldiers fighting in the Western Theater of the Civil War turned this derogatory term into one of self pride, as in "Western Mudsill".

Of course very few of the tech billionaires ascribe to this idiocy. As beneficiaries of Enlightenment Civilization, many of them are too busy, working side by side with middle class engineers, to listen to drivel from flatterers. So it's important that we make a distinction between those who got rich helping creators to deliver goods and services and those who are various forms of parasite, from gambling moguls and mafiosi to petro princes and oil-boyars to Wall Street lampreys and inheritance brats and KGB shills. I'll give this to that Steyer guy. An egomaniac? Maybe. But he is fervent on our side.


Richard09 said...

I have at least one friend who is a reasonable Republican (and detests Trump). I mentioned to her that Pence is a Dominionist, and she had never heard that before. What's a good source to refer to, for details?

David Brin said...

Latest example of the Bysteander Effect... a Londoner who ripped a Narwhal tusk off a wall and used it to face down a knife-wielding murderer-terrorist on London Bridge,

Zepp Jamieson said...

Richard09: This is a fairly good place to start:

Don Gisselbeck said...

Frank Wilhoit; "Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit:
There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect." (via the Slactivist)

Larry Hart said...

Don GisselbeckL

Frank Wilhoit; "Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit:
There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect."

There in a nutshell is the Republican attitude toward themselves.

Larry Hart said...

Kiln People:


Dr. Brin, somehow you manage to produce true catharsis at even the most incongruous of moments. Thank you.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry, Kiln People had enough puns in it to get the Doctor the death penalty a dozen times over. It's why it's my favourite of his books.

David Brin said...

LH & Zepp thanks. Alas, not a single publisher wanted my outright comedy THE ANCIENT ONES, that I feel is even funnier! We'll be self-publishing fairly soon. All we need is an appropriate cove.

Frank Wilhoit; "Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit:
There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect."

Well, there are versions that aren't like that. But it is the chief effect... and it has been the way in all societies - most of them feudal - for 6000 years. The operative emotion is fear. As some of you'll recall from my Horizon Theory, fear levels largely control the radii of your circles of inclusion and otherness and opportunity. Liberals favor larger radii because they are less afraid.

well, it's more complicated...

George Carty said...

Surely the main difference between American slavers and British ones was geographic? American slavers were based in a continental territory more than three times the size of France (which they believed was defensible against abolitionist forces) while British slavers were based on small Caribbean islands (and thus succumbed without a fight because they knew that they were utterly helpless against the Royal Navy).

Laurence said...

Have you read the book "have a nice doomsday" by Nicholas Guyatt? It's been a while since I read it but I remember he made a distinction between Dominionists - who basically want to create a real-life version of Giliead - and rapture enthusiasts who downplay any long-term political goals, seeing them as a distraction from preparing for the second coming.

matthew said...

The Polish man who ripped the narwhal tusk down to fight the knife-wielding terrorist deserves a knighthood. Too bad the British Tories want to send him back to the EU. Cheap Polish labor is one of the rote memes used to drive Brexit.
Oh, the guy that used the fire extinguisher to help out the Polish "unicorn" was a convicted murderer who had been released after rehabilitation.

The Lion and the Unicorn indeed.

(I bet the narwhal dude changes public support for Brexit by several percentage points as a result)

David Brin said...

What's weird is that fire extinguisher convict guy and the perp knew each other. I think they were at a released-con meeting of some sort, in that part of town. You can bet Scotland Yard is investigating any links.

Andre Lieven said...

"The modern Conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith

scidata said...

I have two reasons to praise John Kenneth Galbraith. First, he was Canadian. Second, he was admired by Isaac Asimov.

Alfred Differ said...


My libertarian friend has stalled for Dec 6 any commitment to a wager. 8)
That says something about the difference between what he wants as his beliefs and what they actually are.
That date is far enough into the first week when the House Judiciary Committee takes up impeachment that I think he wants to see the result before he makes the bet. [I'll be saying as much the first time he posts about the hearings by re-posting some BS from a non-news site.]

He has not used the "poison tree" defense.
He has not used the "Don't look" defense.
He simply argues that the Democrats are worse... and from an anarchist-type libertarian perspective... they are. They do things when he'd rather it all kinda evaporated.

What he's doing that I want to address with him is delude himself into believing the Dems do not believe in what they are saying they'll do. There is no attempt to say "His guy is great", so I can't use that particular delusion in a wager. So... I'm aiming for a 50/50 bet that I think is more like 90/10.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred, your friend sounds pragmatic enough that he's probably factored in two major political blows (both self-inflict) Trump suffered over the weekend. First, there was that disastrous pardoning of that war criminal SEAL, followed by the noisy firing of the Navy Sec'y. Then there was the demand that he or his attorney's be at the Impeachment hearings this week, and when the Democrats gleefully accepted, he had to slink away from that bluff. Both will impact his base, I believe.

Alfred Differ said...


I'm not worried about the 'throw away' aspect of the bet. He'd be loosing to ME and that carries with it a sting larger than the dollar value of the loss. I know because I've been on the other side of a 'wager' that involved only my reputation. He and his cadre were right about one of my business partners. I was not. 8)


I get what you are aiming at with wagers. It's the trap involving a realization of cowardice or the sting of loss. My ONLY problem with some of your wager ideas is I was taught they have to be measurable and finite. In a nutshell, a disinterested third party must be able to state who wins by a particular deadline and both interested parties agree the accounting is reasonable. It's not enough to use a third party escrow agent. Belief in the validity of the outcome is necessary.

1) The "Don't look at anything" defense isn't measurably winnable. There is too much room to wriggle out. Too many directions to point the finger of blame.

2) As for "They have a right to do that", that too is fuzzy. Courts don't grant rights. WE do. Government merely chooses to avoid conflicting with us… when they do. Even a Court deciding it the other way doesn't invalidate our claim that the right exists. Their decisions says they choose not to respect our claim.

3) Money laundering? Taking foreign donations? Conspiracy? Pfft. They all do it. (Think like a cynic like he is and it makes sense. Circular logic of course, but of no use to us in a wager.)

So… the wager has to deal with all that or be about something more concrete and finite.

Also, there is no such thing as a sure bet. My belief that the Democrats will impeach before the CA primary could go up in smoke if kompromat is held on Pelosi by the right person. Similarly for conviction if kompromat held on Graham is exposed.

My friend likely isn't the kind of person you've suggested wagers for, but I think there is a way to extend your idea to reach him. He IS the kind of guy who has wagered on these things before, though. Since he would be doing it openly (in front of others who read him), THAT has me interested. 8)

Alfred Differ said...


What got me was him re-posting some Breitb*rt crap and arguing someone not supporting Trump is a RINO. It wasn't clear to me exactly how broad his accusation was… so I asked. That one guy mentioned in the article? All the folks Trump needs to avoid conviction in the Senate? His comeback was that half the country was delusional and all we disagreed on was which half. Hmpf! I kept is short and asserted Trump was going to be impeached. THAT lead to the talk of a wager. Most of this was on 11/29 and the decision to push was on 11/30… before Trump's legal team said much about next week.

A lone cynic probably isn't worth much of my attention, but this guy helps get funding to space-related start-up companies. He's pretty good at spotting things that can go horribly wrong that destroy the chances investors need when they risk their money. His politics can be wacky (even for me), but you have to learn to deal with people like that in our line of interest. There just aren't that many options open in our niche. So… people know him. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

The definition for 'conservatism' I was taught is close.

There are traditions protected by law (hence the group practicing those traditions) and out-behaviors that the law binds (hence out-groups bound behaviorally).

It's really about the traditions. Marriage, faith practices, contract formation, social voice, etc. All cultures have them and codify the ones that intend to protect against outside behaviors. So conservatives are... traditionalists.

Alfred Differ said...

oooh. Papadopoulos is trying to run for CA-25.

The gifts keep coming. 8)

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred Differ,

From the Stephanie Miller radio show a few years back:

Oh, I want a Papadopoulos for Christmas.
Only a Papadopoulos will do.
No Manafort, no cheesey Michael Flynn —
I want a Papadopoulos to put Trump in the pen.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

There are traditions protected by law (hence the group practicing those traditions) and out-behaviors that the law binds (hence out-groups bound behaviorally).

It's really about the traditions. Marriage, faith practices, contract formation, social voice, etc. All cultures have them and codify the ones that intend to protect against outside behaviors. So conservatives are... traditionalists.

You make it sound so wholesomely American. :) Conservatism in law protects traditions, no matter who practices them.

Except in practice when it generally protects clades of people instead. Look at Benedict Donald. He not only violates every tradition of the religion he claims membership in, but every norm of American civility. And yet, self-styled "conservatives" support him, because he protects white, Christian supremacy and male dominance.

I'm sorry, but you can't make that sound good.

Yes, most countries were founded on protection of a particular ethnic or tribal group against outsiders. America qua America is supposed to be a different thing, in fact the opposite thing. I can accept the notion of law protecting socio-political institutions, as long as they protect them for all participants equally and bind all violators equally. But the notion that the law protects certain individuals or individual groups, whether or not they violate those norms while binding others whether or not they adhere to them--that's as un-American as it gets. It should be as un-Conservative as it gets too. But that's Trumpism in a nutshell.

Jon S. said...

The problem there is, "conservatism" as a political term no longer indicates someone whose attitudes (or politics) are conservative as English defines the term, but in fact reactionary - striving to "return" to a Golden Age that never was, and radically altering the political and legal landscape in whatever ways might be necessary to achieve this.

Larry Hart said...

An Economist/YouGov poll just released shows that 53% of Republicans believe that Donald Trump is a better president than Abraham Lincoln.

Ok, it's seriously time to revisit the "I'd rather follow Trump than Jesus" t-shirt.

Interestingly, 10% of black voters think Trump is better [than Lincoln].

Words fail me.

David Smelser said...

LH/Alfred: Here is "I Want A Papadopoulos For Christmas" put to music.

Larry Hart said...

@David Smelser,

Yes, that's by Rocky Mountain Mike, who has plenty of other good political song parodies which do a very good job of incorporating the original music. Just look for Rocky Mountain Mike on YouTube, and there's a slew of them.

This was the most poignant to me, though. Stephanie Miller played it on the very morning of January 20, 2017, during the final hours where President Obama was still President Obama. and we all knew what was about to follow. Imagine the lyrics at that particular moment in history:

Obama, stay,
Just a little bit longer.
Why don't you stay
Just a little bit more?

Now if the voters don't mind,
And Meryl Steep, she don't mind,
It's like we all lost our minds,
Can't we take a little time,
And give him one more day?


David Brin said...

Alfred, I have found moderately effective with SOME libertarians, these points that you’ve already heard ad nauseam:

- any libertarian who is not about flat-fair-open COMPETITION is a hypocrite.

- shouting “FREEDOM!” lets you be ambiguous and vague and define it in whatever way suits your kind of ‘freedom’. But flat-fair-open COMPETITION relies so heavily on freedom that you can anchor “freedom” onto that key word.

- across 6000 years, feudal lords, cheating to give their sons ownership of peasants deliberately crushed, were the main enemies of freedom and flat-fair-open COMPETITION, especially if you recognize that leninists were just feudal lords under masks. Compare those 6000 years of oppression and stagnation by owner lords to the “oppression” by bureaucrats that gave us space, medicine, comforts, the Internet, justice and vastly more flat-fair-open COMPETITION than ever before.

- Measures that increase flat-fair-open COMPETITION are justifiable in libertarian terms. That’s at least half of all LIBERAL endeavors in education, public health, infrastructure and civil rights enforcement, which all increase the total number of competitors who are knowing and confidently empowered to compete. Compare that to the track record of feudal lords and zillionaire oligarchs.

- Much of today’s libertarian hatred of lib’ruls is propelled by relentless propaganda vis Cato, Heritage and other shills subsidized by hundreds of millions paid for by guess who? zillionaire oligarchs. Funny how memes about THEM - and those 6000 years — never show up.

- The Drug War. Where has it retracted? Almost solely in Blue States.

- Liberals want freedom of the bedroom and Goppers want freedom of the boardroom? Yes? True! But the latter is not flat-fair-open COMPETITION! Boardrooms are rife with the looter cheaters Rand railed about. Look at Sears and Boeing, Who wants freedom of flat-fair-open COMPETITION?

The stats are clear. Democrats, all the way.

As for wagers, that’s why I concocted the NAME AN EXCEPTION challenge. If they cannot name an excecption… e.g. a fact profession not under assault by the putinists… then it really corners them. See chapter 15 for 6 of them.

My definition of conservatism has to do with Horizon Theory. “I prefer my closer boundaries and stop nagging me to expand them beyond my comfort zone!”

Leftists are loyal ONLY to the forward edge of horizon expansion and spit on those clinging to older loyalties. Liberals are positive sum, approve of horizon expansion, and see no reason to abandon earlier loyalties.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

My definition of conservatism has to do with Horizon Theory. “I prefer my closer boundaries and stop nagging me to expand them beyond my comfort zone!”

My with-all-due-respect rejoinder to that is to invoke Captain America: "It's not a question of letting, mister!" You (the conservative) are welcome to keep your personal associations close, but it is not up to you whether "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights."

Zepp Jamieson said...

Scientific and engineering expertice doesn't always translate to political acumen, and with engineers in particular, Radnroidism and authoritarianism are common. I think part of it is you need to be a bit OCD to be an engineer and try to control the variables. Even SF writers can manifest it: I remember one very famous pair who collaborated on a book about 1990 that not only pooh-poohed the entire notion of global warming, but postulated a new ice age in the near future.

scidata said...

Re: The Postman

It's easy now to find stories, eg google "Costner Death Stranding". Even one from the WaPo.

I'm interested to see if Costner has had anything to say about it. I keep reading that in the game, the postman turns evil and steals the mail.

jim said...

Phase 8 of an endless civil war??
History viewed as alternating phases of a grand war, sounds like cyclical history to me. Sort of like Strauss and Howe’s The Forth Turning only twice as fast?

David Brin said...

jim! Terrific and insightful question. Now THAT'S inquisitive-adversarial accountability, not only targeted at me (and not a strawman) but also expressed as a question, almost as if you were genuinely curious. Good going.

Answer: I do not oppose or denounce all cyclical patterns -- when there is a clear driving force to keep the engine turning. In the case of the recurring US Civil War, there is such a force... the most prevalent and powerful human social-attractor state... feudalism. A pyramidal structure of power that's driven by the darwinian reproductive rewards won in the past by thugs who bully and cheat their way into power, then use romantic spells to convince the oppressed that it is a GOOD thing for the lords' wastrel-useless sons to inherit ownership of other peoples' sons and daughters.

That attractor state is so persistent, across 99% of 6000 years, that it is THE salient point about human societies and possibly a vast majority of alien ones, too. In which case we have one of my Top Five Explanations For The Fermi Paradox. Because such societies quash the destabilizing effects of science. Exactly as Hitler and Stalin did, and Fox and Trump today.

You don't get cycles from one high entropy condition, alone. Cycles imply countervailing forces. The ones offered by Strauss and Howe are silly, armwaved psycho-cultural drivel, without any solid evidence to back any of it up. In fact, today we are being saved from Bannon's much-sought "crisis" mostly by Boomers in the officer corps and senior civil service, holding the line like any "hero generation." How would S&H explain that?

But our recurring phases of Civil War DO have such a major counter-force, resisting the feudal condition -- it's the Enlightenment. A recurring Periclean experiment in the fecundity of competition under fair rules that prevent cheating and excess lordly accumulation of power. These brief interludes are totally compatible with science and creative production and reification of talent. Hence enlightenment periods are so vastly more creative than feudal ones that there's no comparison. The Periclean Athenians terrified the entire Mediterranean for two generations, till the oligarchies united against them to crush democracy and flat-fair-accountable enlightenment for 2000 years. As they did to Florence... and are trying to do to us... and have tried each generation since the American Experiment began.

We aren't talking some tepid-imaginary generational personality leanings, here, but the two primary attractor conditions of all human societies -- the dominant one, feudalism, vs. its greatest rival and the one thing that might win us the stars.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

- shouting “FREEDOM!” lets you be ambiguous and vague and define it in whatever way suits your kind of ‘freedom’.

You can be in favor of freedom from bullying thugs, or freedom for bullying thugs. I don't see how one can be for both, though.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Here's why I'm a socialist: 'Eye-Popping': Analysis Shows Top 1% Gained $21 Trillion in Wealth Since 1989 While Bottom Half Lost $900 Billion

"The top one percent owns nearly $30 trillion of assets while the bottom half owns less than nothing."
Jake Johnson, staff writer

CEO and founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos participates in a discussion during a Milestone Celebration dinner September 13, 2018 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Adding to the mountain of statistical evidence showing the severity of U.S. inequality, an analysis published Friday found that the top one percent of Americans gained $21 trillion in wealth since 1989 while the bottom 50 percent lost $900 billion.

"We have the worst inequality in this country since the 1920s."
—Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)

Matt Bruenig, founder of the left-wing think tank People's Policy Project, broke down the Federal Reserve's newly released "Distributive Financial Accounts" data series and found that, overall, "the top one percent owns nearly $30 trillion of assets while the bottom half owns less than nothing, meaning they have more debts than they have assets."

The growth of wealth inequality over the past 30 years, Bruenig found, is "eye-popping."

"Between 1989 and 2018, the top one percent increased its total net worth by $21 trillion," Bruenig wrote. "The bottom 50 percent actually saw its net worth decrease by $900 billion over the same period."

"Enormous crisis," Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) tweeted in response to Bruenig's analysis.

"We have the worst inequality in this country since the 1920s," wrote Jayapal, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "Three wealthiest people in America have as much wealth as the bottom 50 percent."
Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

The gross wealth of the top !% increased from $8.4 trillion to $29.5 trillion, whereas the gross wealth of the bottom 50% decreased from 0.7 to MINUS 0.2 trillion--in other words, forced in to debt servitdue.

David Brin said...

"We have the worst inequality in this country since the 1920s."

And we shouldn't look at how that was solved, the middle class grown and all indicators went upward while inequality plummeted?

Ask the FDR generation. They managed it while ENHANCING competitive enterprise, not quashing it. By using "socialist" interventions that raised up children to be joyfully empowered market competitors.

Do not nistake rape-oligarchy for market enterprise. It is the diametric opposite.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Of topic, but there is an article that sounds, I don't know...plausible.
This reputable physicist, GĂ©rard Mourou, says that he believes that high-intensity attosecond pulses of coherent light can be used to transmute atoms, rendering nuclear waste inert.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Middle class grew and idicators went upward between 1933 and 1980. Then Reagan happened, and we've been losing ground since.
I've no problem at all with competitive enterprize. But when rape-oligarchy is CLAIMING to be market enterprize, there is a problem.

duncan cairncross said...

The transition from the "everybody gets some" to the 0.1% gets the lot happened in the mid 70's

The graph on this site makes it very clear
So much as it pains me I cannot blame Reagan

That also means that in this case it wasn't us horrible baby boomers that were to blame as we did NOT have our hands on the levers of power back then
It was our fathers!
They may have fought in WW2 but they were not the ones that delivered "The New Deal" - that was THEIR fathers!
And they were the ones who scuppered the New Deal in the 70's

Alfred Differ said...


Conservatism in law protects traditions, no matter who practices them.

Almost. It doesn't protect all traditions. Just some. The ones most important to the 'keepers of civilization' as they see themselves. Things like marriage, court procedures, faith practices, how to raise children, etc. This is important too. We'd be toast without them.

Traditions are usually solutions to social problems we've long forgotten about and probably can't even recall how the tradition came to be. Try to imagine how a bunch of brainless cells could stumble upon a technique for getting along well enough to not kill each other. Look around and you'll realize they did, but they have no idea how. They can't even imagine how what they do accomplishes the goal. Only thinking critters like us can ponder 'purpose'… which is kinda silly in this case since the brainless cells had no 'intent', thus no purpose. We do it anyway, though.

Now ponder the marriage tradition. Why all the rigor? Why variations between cultures while the core components are the same? Why the witness component? Why the controlled mayhem after a ceremony? WHY? Who knows. That tradition (set of them really) dates far back before history was recorded. No doubt it solved some problem. No doubt it changed as culture did. What problem? Which changes are tolerated? Who knows. We sure don't. It's easy enough to test bits of it by threatening to change it, though. Maybe we'll stumble on the old problem again when we've undone enough of the tradition that acted as an evolved cure? Probably. This time, though, we have writing and billions of us capable of testing parts and surviving screw ups.

Traditionalists defend old solutions and likely rationalize why. That's fine most of the time. Push them and they become reactionaries. That's fine too. We'd loose the old solutions without them and have to re-invent them with all the ensuing trauma we'd suffer.

Liberals threaten change. That's fine too. We'd calcify without them and wind up in some feudal rathole again. And again. And again. Sometimes they screw up, though. Let us hope to make small errors we can survive when we give traditionalists a chance at a brighter future. 8)

Traditions are old solutions.
Evolution finds new solutions.

Alfred Differ said...

Here's why I'm not a socialist... I lay at the feet of Socialism the deaths of about 80-100 million people in the 20th century.

This political thing that is 'democratic-socialism' isn't that thing. At worst, it tempts people mentally to drift into the kill zone. Mostly, though, it's just inefficiently stupid at allocating resources and insulting to the dignity of a very large number of people who already struggle with dignity deficiency syndrome.

duncan cairncross said...


it's just inefficiently stupid at allocating resources and insulting to the dignity of a very large number of people who already struggle with dignity deficiency syndrome

You mean like the Scandinavian Countries and like Germany
The USA is so much more efficient than they are?????

Capitalism works SUPERBLY

When it is actually “capitalism” and it is applied where it belongs

Capitalism does need to be looked after - if it is “Left alone” it degenerates into “Crony Capitalism” and hence into an Oligarchy

Crony Capitalism is only good for the cronies and should be sorted out

We have 6000 years of history that shows us that Capitalism is unstable and short lived

Capitalism always leads to wealth concentration and then to the wealthy “buying the levels of power” and turning it into Feudalism

If we want to retain capitalism we MUST regulate

Today US Capitalism is well into “Crony Capitalism” and is approaching an Oligarchy

Back in the 50,s and 60,s the USA had Capitalism and a level of regulation that maintained a fair and competitive economy

This means ;

High top Tax Rates (90+%)

Trust Busting

Financial Regulation (for instance Stock Buybacks were illegal)

And then all of that was reversed in the 70’s - and American Capitalism began it’s slide into Crony Capitalism

Capitalism is one of the most important tools in any societies toolbox - but it needs to be looked after

Crony Capitalism as is common or even prevalent in the USA today is NOT a “useful tool”

Strange as it seems the best places today to look at Capitalism operating the way it should are the Scandinavian countries

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

I've no problem at all with competitive enterprize. But when rape-oligarchy is CLAIMING to be market enterprize, there is a problem.

Likewise, when any attempt at common humanity gets labeled as "socialism" with the implication that it is the same thing as Stalinism. Thomas Paine had it right all those years back when he said that citizens deserved a stipend of sorts, not as charity but as a dividend.

Ayn Rand is especially bad about this, but most cheerleading for capitalism and free enterprise tout the need to reward the innovators. Which is true, but they go too far. Innovation must be allowed to pay off for the one who produces useful value. But some of that useful value must also accrue to society in general. Otherwise, what's the point of celebrating the innovation?

Reduced to a very banal example, if a CEO orders some action that saves the company a billion dollars, and as a reward for that, takes a billion dollar bonus, then he hasn't actually saved the company anything. He's simply transferred company assets into his own pocket. It's the same with all enterprise. If John Galt's boat is the only one lifted by the invention of his engine, then he has produced no net value to society at all. Why should he reap any reward other than the exclusive private use of his invention?

Larry Hart said...


Since, under the Constitution, federal courts may hear only actual “cases” and “controversies,” a dispute in which the government gives the suing party what he or she seeks is considered moot. At best, deciding the case would be no more than issuing an advisory opinion, which the Supreme Court frowns on. At worst, addressing the merits would be a judicial power grab.

Neither Mr. Clement nor the Trump administration, which joined the case in May to support the challenger, voiced any qualms about asking the Supreme Court to skirt its own rules and precedents.

"Conservatives"? Bah!

gregory byshenk said...

duncan cairncross said...
The transition from the "everybody gets some" to the 0.1% gets the lot happened in the mid 70's

The graph on this site makes it very clear
So much as it pains me I cannot blame Reagan.

Not so fast.

If you look at the graph, it shows a dip in both productivity and wages from about 1973-1980. No doubt there are multiple factors involved, but the Oil Crisis of 1973 is pretty clearly the most important.

Yes, wages and productivity diverge starting in 1973, but note that wages are already rising again within a few years. So that divergence would be nothing but a blip were it not for (among other things - again, there are multiple factors involved) the 'Reagan Revolution', that led to continuing declining wages from 1980-1995, even as productivity again began to grow at almost the previous rate.

Larry Hart said...

Radio host Thom Hartmann regularly points out that newspapers used to feature both BUSINESS sections and LABOR sections. By the 80s, LABOR as a represented point of view had disappeared. Rising wages were once seen as a good thing for the economy, but with the media perspective going strictly over to the BUSINESS perspective, wages were perceived as a cost, not a benefit to the economy.

Around the same time, IIRC, CEOs began to receive much of their compensation as stock options rather than cash. Which meant they were much more invested in the immediate stock price than in any other consideration. And again, if the stock price is your main concern, then wages are a bad thing.

Larry Hart said...


Obviously, Trump's defenders in the Party don't mind engaging in a little (or a lot) of conspiratorial thinking, nor saying things that do not align with mountains of existing evidence. They also don't mind making assertions that are internally inconsistent, like saying that Trump did not withhold aid in order to get an investigation out of Ukraininan President Volodymyr Zelensky, and then turning around and saying it was perfectly justifiable to withhold aid in order to get an investigation out of Volodymyr Zelensky.

Which reminds me of the pro-Terrorist folks after 9/11 who simultaneously held that the terrorist acts had secretly been orchestrated by Israel (4000 Jews stayed home), and that Osama Bin Laden was an Islamic hero for the same attacks.


In fact, some people think that the pro-Trump faction overplayed their hand and oversold their case; something along the lines of "he doth protest too much, methinks." Put another way, if a person is on trial for murder, their defense attorney isn't going to argue, "My client definitely did not kill the victim, and even if he did, it was in self-defense." And so, while the base will take all 123 pages as gospel, fence-sitters may be pushed in the other direction. That's not likely to matter much in the impeachment trial, but it could matter in next year's elections.

Meanwhile, making all of this a little extra icky is the news that came out on Monday that Congressional Republicans know full well that Ukraine had nothing to do with the 2016 elections. They know that because they themselves investigated the matter, with the Senate Intelligence Committee conducting an exhaustive assessment before concluding that there was no smoke there, much less any fire. It's probably about time for another update to the old legal adage: "If the law is on your side, pound the law. If the facts are on your side, pound the facts. If neither is on your side, then just make something up out of whole cloth."

While the Republican noise Generator is currently operating at full blast on behalf of Donald Trump, however, let's not pretend that he's the one who built it. The lies about Ukraine come from the exact same place as the stories about pizza parlor pedophile rings, falsified presidential birth certificates, uranium allegedly being sold to Russia, and Seth Rich murder conspiracies. Those who expect a once-dignified party to return to normalcy once the Donald exits stage right should prepare to be disappointed.



(rolls right off the tongue, huh?)

Zepp Jamieson said...

You can go ahead and blame Reagan. The gap between wages and productivity opened up in the Carter years, the result of stagflation. But your chart shows it narrowing back toward the mean. Then Reagan's tax policies took effect, and the gap exploded to the obscene levels we see today.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"I lay at the feet of Socialism the deaths of about 80-100 million people in the 20th century."

Sigh. Alfred, Socialism is not communism. Not even close. Nor is it Nazism, although I think you have enough sense to know Hitler wasn't a socialist no matter what his party name said.

When you think of socialism, think of Social Security. Think of Medicare. Think of public schools and public universities. Think of the social safety net.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Duncan, I would add that Democratic Socialism addresses the deficiencies of Capitalism. Yes, capitalism makes better cars, provides nicer restaurants, and more varied and efficient grocery stores than the public sector ever could. But where it falls down is on items that should not be run on a for-profit basis. Health care. Education. Infrastructure investment.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

I think you have enough sense to know Hitler wasn't a socialist no matter what his party name said.

"The word you are thinking of is socialism. But that is not socialism. National Socialism, perhaps, but that's a different thing, in fact the opposite thing."

Sorry, couldn't resist.

When you think of socialism, think of Social Security. Think of Medicare. Think of public schools and public universities. Think of the social safety net.

The fire department. Police. Roads.

"Well yes obviously the roads... the roads go without saying. But apart from the aqueduct, the sanitation and the roads..."

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Sorry, couldn't resist."

Still appropriate.

I could point out to Alfred that fascism is a malignant relative of capitalism, just as communism is a malignant relative of socialism. They stem from a different opinion on where power should reside in a society--at the top, or evenly spread.

Darrell E said...

Blogger Zepp Jamieson said...
""I lay at the feet of Socialism the deaths of about 80-100 million people in the 20th century."

Sigh. Alfred, Socialism is not communism. Not even close. Nor is it Nazism, although I think you have enough sense to know Hitler wasn't a socialist no matter what his party name said.

I too am a bit surprised to see Alfred write that. I know he self-identifies as libertarian and does indeed express socio-political-economic ideas with elements that read libertarian to me. But I wouldn't have expected to hear that claim, to me erroneous and slanderous, from him. And no, I'm not a champion of socialism.

scidata said...

Those deaths are properly laid at the feet of despotism and lawlessness.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred's "lay at the feet" response, however we may disagree, does reflect the sentiment of enough American voters as to make problems for the campaign of a self-avowed "socialist" candidate. While those voters might be an aging minority, they are situated in enough crucial states to matter.

The t-shirts that read "I'd rather be RUSSIAN than a Democrat!" aren't fake news, nor the surveys that indicate Americans specifically prefer electing a sociopath over a socialist.

duncan cairncross said...

Thanks to Gregory and Zepp for pointing out about the Oil shock and the details of how the curves diverge

That does make sense the oil shock was serious - and I can go back to blaming Reagan

However even putting it back to 1980 still means that it wasn't the boomers - we were adults then but not yet in positions of power - at least at the start
We are guilty of continuing the policies

Zepp Jamieson said...

Unfortunately, the brainwashed Trumpkins will pick a sociopath over anything else. They've become a cult against sanity itself.
Duncan: Yes, we boomers have much to answer for. Timidity on the left, aggressive ideology morphing into political psychosis on the right, and a bland refusal to admit things were falling apart. We didn't cause Reagan, but enough of us voted for him to create his watershed presidency.

Don Gisselbeck said...

In any human endeavor that can be measured results fall well within an order of magnitude (a non handicapped adult will score over 160 on the SAT, be able to have a chess rating over 290, climb L'Alpe D'Huez in less than 390 minutes, run 100 m in less than 90 seconds, etc.) It follows that remuneration should fall within an order of magnitude. The hypothetical John Galt did not invent his magical engine entirely on his own. Nearly all of the knowledge and effort that produced it came from the larger society over millennia.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Don Gisselbeck

100% correct - If I invent something I am contributing a thin (very thin) veneer on top of the existing knowledge to actually make and use that device

David Brin said...

duncan: "Capitalism always leads to wealth concentration and then to the wealthy “buying the levels of power” and turning it into Feudalism..."

So said Marx, who would have been stunned by the aberration of Roosevelteanism reform that brought workers into the bourgeoisie. And after 40 years of Reaganism-reversal, copies of Marx are flying off the shelves.

Yes those 100 million deaths happened. I do not see either Stalinism/Maoism or fascism as anything but mass paranoid religious fevers that used a set of paranoid-virtue incantations to get masses to support a shift from one set of ruling oligarchs to another.

Alfred Differ said...

Hrmm… Where to start…

1) ‘Crony capitalism’ isn’t really capitalism. It’s the vulgar label applied to a vulgar behavior that has nothing to do with free, fair, flat markets. I’m all for punishing the related cheaters, but I object to the vulgar label. ‘Crony capitalism’ is just another feudal variety.

2) Socialism has its roots in the failed revolutions of 1848-49 through much of Europe. Many in the intellectual clade abandoned liberalism and revived a failed concept that brings us back toward the feudal attractor. I consider the people who did this as traitors to liberalism… the only known system that actually lifts the boats of people at the bottom of the socio-economic scale. (Yes, it lifts others disproportionally, but it LIFTS!)

3) Try this as an exercise. List all the wars of the 20th century. Some involve the US. Many don’t. Look at the factions who started them. Name the ones who were advocating liberalism as political and economic cornerstones for their vision for a wonderful future for humanity. Take those off the list. Now add up all the people killed by the factions remaining on your list. Include internal wars like Stalin’s genocides, Mao’s starvation of his people, and Pol Pot’s insanity. How many people died? It’s a @#$#ing staggering number.

I’m not accusing anyone here who self identifies as socialist for those deaths. My own mother considered herself a socialist, so I won’t do that. What I WILL point out is that Hayek understood where that road leads. That doesn’t mean you all will walk that road, but setting our feet upon it enables us to walk it because it is the easier path.

So… slander? Nah. Just an inconvenient truth about 20th century social ideas. Pretty much every economist was a socialist to some degree back then, including the folks who thought they were not. Marx’s ideas MAKE SENSE at an intuitive level. Unfortunately, many of them are dead wrong and we’ve proven this with a stack of dead bodies. Countless millions have died that might not have had the intellectual clade in the mid-19th not committed treason.

I’m not going to win friends when I say things like ‘inefficiently stupid’, but what I REALLY want to say is ‘immoral’ and that will cause even more fireworks. Go ahead, though. Steal from people who would not otherwise participate voluntarily. You know you are right(eous) in your belief and we owe ‘dues’ to participate in our communities. This is still enough of a republic that we vote on such things and my clade is in a tiny minority. I won’t resist, but neither will I condone.

It takes courage to be a classical liberal of the kind that did not commit treason. There is no comfortable intuitive answer to what should be done to ensure the children are educated, the water we drink is clean, and all those other obvious things. We are just as human as everyone else and can feel the lure to economize, but we know that requires shared goals on the same scale as the group doing the economizing and those goals simply do not exist absent coercion. There is no easy, well-trodden path into a better future, and we know the easy paths that are known didn’t lead there. How many thousands of years does it take to convince people not to walk them?

If this makes me sound dark and gloomy in time for the holidays, understand that I am not. I’m pretty upbeat right now. Many of us are NOT walking the inefficiently stupid paths and don’t even realize it. SOA is hammered into us as children, so we aren’t inclined to follow orders from just anyone. It’s okay. Our civilization WILL work this out even if many people don’t believe in the liberalism that got us where we are.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred: "(Yes, it lifts others disproportionally, but it LIFTS!)"

The irony here is that it's in response to a report showing that 50% of Americans LOST GROUND since 1993.

Crony capitalism is just the inevitable result of unregulated capitalism that permits corruption. And in this age of Trump, it's pretty hard to argue that there is no crony capitalism.

Liberalism seeks to give people a place at the table. Capitalism seeks to take it away: any capitalist wants a captive pool of consumers and a docile and cowed workforce. That the aims are mutually exclusive don't seem to matter. The ongoing "answer" in America is to maximize the availability of debt.

I will note that capitalism itself has a rather large death toll. Presently, you have the drug war deaths in Mexico, and the seemingly endless parade of corporate sponsored fascist regimes throughout south and central America over the past 150 years. Most of America's recent wars have been pushed for by economic rather than strategic interests. (Not that Vietnam was "better" than Iraq).

I'll note that capitalism is the main force seeking to subvert the United States. Trump isn't an aberration: he is a necessary step toward a feudal state.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Speaking of 'Star Trek future' -- D. C. Fontana: 1939 -2019

duncan cairncross said...

Steal from people who would not otherwise participate voluntarily. You know you are right(eous) in your belief and we owe ‘dues’ to participate in our communities.

We are NOT NOT NOT "Stealing" anything that is theirs - we are at most taking a small part of the property of the society as a whole back from the people who are "squatting" on that property

The "Owners" did NOT and never have "Created" that wealth - they have simply squatted on that wealth and claimed it as their property

TCB said...

I feel it's incumbent on me to keep banging on about the Bernie Blackout, i.e. the media's studious avoidance of covering Bernie Sanders as a credible Democratic candidate. They either don't mention him, or, often, do mention him in dismissive terms. I'm not only talking about the corporate media but also public broadcasting.

'He's Just...Erased': PBS 2020 Segment Finds Time for Klobuchar, Sestak, and Bullock—But Completely Ignores Bernie Sanders

Quoted from the article:

The NewsHour segment came just weeks after a detailed analysis of MSNBC's coverage of Sanders by In These Times found that the Vermont senator received both the least frequent and most negative coverage of the top 2020 Democratic presidential contenders.

"The corporate media's war against Bernie Sanders is very real," Jacobin's Luke Savage wrote last month.

"MSNBC, of course, is hardly the only culprit," Savage noted. "As Katie Halper documented a few months ago, the New York Times reporter assigned to cover his campaign 'consistently paints a negative picture of Sanders' temperament, history, policies, and political prospects.' The Washington Post once famously ran sixteen negative stories about Sanders in the same number of hours."

Sanders' lack of corporate media coverage compared to his 2020 rivals does not appear to have dampened his campaign's momentum. Last week, Sanders regained the number two spot behind Biden in RealClearPolitics' national polling average and came out on top in an Emerson New Hampshire poll.

I wouldn't be beefing about this so much, if not for the fact that, at this time in US and world history, Bernie is the closest thing we have or can soon get to a clone of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And polling tends to indicate that he's the strongest Dem contender against Trump. On anything like a level playing field, Bernie would murda the bum.

And for god's sake, Barack Obama is now saying he'd wade into the primaries to prevent a Sanders nomination?!? Because 1950's level taxes on the oligarchs are bad and stuff??? Oy. A bland, careful centrist nominee such as Joe Biden would almost certainly lose to Trump next year. Kill me now, I can't take it much longer.

David Brin said...

And everyone else feels blacked out, too. Geez I am still in shock over Kamala. Not my favorite human being or candidate, but a damn formidable person and well deserving of heading into the primaries as a top-five! WTheHeck?

And why is Castro not in there? A truly impressive person.

David Brin said...

Colbert says Bernie Sanders is melting his heart in Best of Late Night

Zepp Jamieson said...

You realize that with the potential conflict-of-interest element removed of her seeking the job of the man she will be helping to prosecute in the Senate, Harris will now be far more effective in her role on the SJC?

matthew said...

Alfred demonstrates his utter insanity by crediting the deaths caused by Pol Pot, an authoritarian communist, to socialists.

Then Alfred goes back to his "taxation is theft" nostrum again.

Alfred, explain to me how taxation, passed by a representative democracy, is theft. Theft means an unlawful taking of possessions. Taxation is, by definition, lawful.

Libertarianism, on the other hand, appears to be on the verge of *actually* causing our planet to be uninhabitable, via the paid whoredom of the Kochs, the Heritage Institute, and Reason Magazine. That's more than the 100 million you lay on the feet of Scandinavian socialism.

matthew said...

"Heritage Foundation" obviously.

Note that Adam Smith and classical liberalism most emphatically *do not* consider taxation to be theft. Randian Propertarianism is responsible for the concept that democratically elected representatives cannot set the price we all must pay to contribute to a just society. Alfred always claims to be a classical liberal until it comes time to pay for the common good.

Libertarianism is the cult of captured regulation and ignored costs.

the hanged man said...

Has anyone seen this story?

Curiouser and curiouser.

yana said...

David Brin thought:

"an end to the birth or joy of any new human children... Mike Pence avows openly to praying for all of that, daily."

Uhh, extremism in support of the truth is no vice, but... is that a truth above? Does Mike Pence really do what you claim? A lie in defense of the truth is a destroyer of truth, i heard that said too.

Please don't let that nut be President even for a few months if the Senate caves, but perhaps in barbing too hard you might engender sympathy for the guy? Which would be worse for us in the long run, 4 months of Pres Pence or 20 years of a talk show with a guile master whose enemies are documented saying that he prays against babies?

No tub plug can stay unplugged, why risk your baby going down with the water? Not saying you should drift to the middle for appeal, but saying that the nut in question advocates for the "end to the birth or joy of any new human children" could tarnish the other valid points you make.

"For all its many faults, Costner’s film kept true to my core message: that civilization’s miracle will never be preserved – or restored after any breakdown – by some lone hero. Its only chance will be a collective and widespread revival of faith in ourselves."

What the film cut out, or inexcusably downplayed, was the way the women rose to the defense of civilization in 100% the measure of man. Took Hollywood 25 years to catch up to you, but they did too. Remains the reason why i don't fear the next election, the coming faux war, nor the nutty jackweasles who think god makes their penis feel bigger.

"As talk spreads of a new American Civil War"

Seems the view of a futurist might be broader. There is only one war, and it has been going on for a long time, long before America. Akin to the geological theory that there is only one earthquake which is ricocheting around the globe every second, and yes you get credit in "Earth" for that thought.

Humanity's only war is the hill people versus the valley people, and it's not simply urban vs. rural. Urbanity means rapid bifurcation between wealth and poverty, so a portion of urban unders can romanticize the translation of rural egalite to their world. Obviously that always breaks down (re: Communism) and promulgating urban ideals to the rurrs always breaks down (re: Imperialism).

We might be ready for the next ism. Writing made cities possible, printing made global empires possible. When we can all talk to anyone right now, we'll finally have it: the union of the hill and the valley. 20 years ago they called it the end of history. At last we can see what it is: the end of misery.

Larry Hart said...

It's hard to tell how much the mainstream Democrats actively fear the policies of a progressive, and how much they're simply afraid that a progressive can't win the election. The DNC's preference for a Biden seems obviously that they think he can peel off Obama-Trump white voters whereas a Bernie or a Warren or a Kamala Harris would guarantee that Trump would repeat his 2016 showing.

If that's the dynamic, then it's kind of the colloquial definition of insanity--repeating the same strategy and expecting a different result--as that was exactly how Hillary tried to run. Her selection of Tim Kaine as veep was a particularly deflating moment, exciting exactly no one but placating no one either.

Me, I'm not a good judge of what is the best strategy for Democrats to win. I see downsides no matter what. In 2008, I was all in for Obama until he actually won the nomination, and then I started going, "What have we done? Can a black man with an Arab-sounding name really stand a chance?" Thankfully, my fear was unfounded that time. So now, I don't know what basis to judge "electability" on.

Larry Hart said...

I can see where the "theft" argument comes from, as taxation is typically enacted at least at the metaphorical point of a gun. I actually prefer the way US income tax is directly withheld from the paycheck. That reflects more accurately the notion that the tax is simply the cost of maintaining a society, a fact of civil life, rather than a forcible taking of private property.

The extreme "taxation is theft" position presumes, as Ayn Rand did, that all property is privately owned. It conveniently ignores the notion of the commons. I subscribe to the view that the natural world belongs to the society who lives there, and that private property has in some sense been "stolen" from the commons. Walling off some of the commons as private property makes sense when the owner is able to improve the value of that property, and it makes sense that the one whose intellectual or physical labor adds the value gets a benefit from that added value. But society is also owed a dividend or interest payment on the piece of the commons let for that purpose.

This is a completely capitalist argument for Thomas Paine's "citizenship dividend". It's the same argument that says I owe the bank interest when I borrow their money in order to put it to better use than it is put to sitting in their vaults. No free-marketer argues that because I had a more productive use for the money than the bank did, I have a right to that money interest free. But that's exactly what propertarian libertarians argue about tax-free citizenship.

Darrell E said...


I can't speak for the others here, but let me echo matthew. Your explanation was off target. My issue is with the primary initial premise of your position, that the millions of deaths caused by totalitarian pricks like Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, Mussolini, Franco and similar was because of socialism. And that this socialism that caused or enabled these pricks to cause the millions of deaths they did is in any significant way equivalent to social policies like those in the US and Europe today. This sounds just like the daft claim by many religious believers that atheism was the cause of all those same deaths by all those same totalitarian / fascist pricks and it's just as wrong.

Jon S. said...

"Does Mike Pence really do what you claim?"

Mike Pence appears to be very supportive of fundamentalist evangelical Christianity, a school of faith that holds the Book of Revelation of St. John the Divine to be the most important book of the Bible, predicting as some claim a future rather than merely discussing the past. Said future is one in which the world is brought to an end; nonbelievers go to Hell, Earth is converted to a living Heaven, and no more progress happens because in Heaven, all you do, all day every day, is worship God. Most especially, there are no more marriages, and by implication of existing theology no more children (as "moral" people simply don't have children out of wedlock, and in Heaven, "there is no giving or receiving of the hand in marriage").

Basically, either Pence is an immoral lying hypocrite of an order even worse than Trump, or he's actively seeking a massive battle against an Antichrist that will result in the quite literal end of the world.

Further, Dominionism is a branch of the faith that requires that all secular governments be overthrown and replaced with "proper" Christian theocracies. I don't know that Pence is a Dominionist, but I do know that he certainly seems comfortable with the company of Dominionists, and publicly espouses at least some of their views.

john fremont said...

...Walling off some of the commons as private property makes sense when the owner is able to improve the value of that property, and it makes sense that the one whose intellectual or physical labor adds the value gets a benefit from that added value. But society is also owed a dividend or interest payment on the piece of the commons let for that purpose.

This is a completely capitalist argument for Thomas Paine's "citizenship dividend"...

This was also the thinking behind Henry George's land value single tax. That owning an area of land had a cost to society since no one else could use it and since land being land can't be duplicated through mass production."Location, location, location" as my realtor would say. San Francisco had enacted some of his land tax idea at the turn of the last century and this policy spurred the rebuilding of that city in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake to the point where it needed a now famous bridge built out to it in the 1930's!

Larry Hart said...


The kind of xenophobia that afflicted Denmark appeared last month, during impeachment hearings, in commentary questioning the loyalty of public servants like Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill because they are immigrants. Their contributions — including a willingness to risk death in the name of duty — don’t matter to their critics, who saw and heard only one thing: not one of us.

On top of the staggering moral failure this represents — alongside the Muslim travel ban and the horrors of caged Central American children — this is just unfathomably self-defeating. Immigrants helped Americans win World War II and put Americans on the moon; immigrants built the global tech dominance of the Silicon Valley and enabled the United States to win more Nobel Prizes than any other country.

They literally made America great. Don’t let anyone destroy that legacy for a poisoned dream of purity.

Larry Hart said...

More than a matter of disagreement or disbelief, I continue to simply not understand the theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 on behalf of Hillary Clinton by hacking the DNC e-mails and embarrassing Hillary Clinton. Am I missing something, or is this another example of doublethink on the order of "Jews perpetrated 9/11 and Osama Bin Laden is the muslim hero of 9/11"?

Seriously, can someone explain what the theory is?


On Sunday, Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, was on “Meet the Press” spreading this disinformation. “I think both Russia and Ukraine interfered,” he said. Russia may have been more aggressive and sophisticated, he allowed, but “that does not exclude the fact that President Poroshenko actively worked for Secretary Clinton.”

There is no evidence that the former Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko conspired with the Clinton campaign. American intelligence agencies unanimously agree that Russia perpetrated the hacking.

Mr. Kennedy went even further a week earlier, when he suggested on “Fox News Sunday” that, in fact, Ukraine had hacked the Democratic computer server, obtaining emails that embarrassed Hillary Clinton’s campaign. “I don’t know, nor do you, nor do any of us,” he told the host, Chris Wallace. (The next day he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo: “I was wrong. It was Russia who tried to hack the computer. I’ve seen no indication that Ukraine tried to do it.” It is unclear what changed his mind. Again.)


David Brin said...



dwibdwib said...

Re: Why do evangelicals support Trump?

Try googling "does trump go to church". The answer is "no".