Friday, January 17, 2020

At the heart of the matter... Ukraine, Rapture, and Walken's dazzling prophecy

And the drama continues. Let's set aside the news that Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz will be Trump's defenders, nailing the coffin of those asserting that the Clinton impeachment "Starr Chamber" was anything but utterly biased... the sole whine that Republicans now hurl at any investigation of them. No, let's dial even deeper.

 At the heart of the impeachment imbroglio seems to be...“Trump’s animosity toward Ukraine.” 

One theme that runs through almost all of the accounts from witnesses who testified before House lawmakers is President Trump’s unyielding loathing of the former Soviet republic, which dates to his earliest days in the White House. “He just hated Ukraine,” one former White House official said.  Why? You might ask.  Well, for starters, Trump campaign manager - and now imprisoned felon - Paul Manafort was a mafia fixer for Viktor Yanukovich, Putin’s puppet Ukraine president, who was ousted by a popular revolution that – yes – got some support from Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and George Soros. 

To Vladimir Putin, this was a body blow, almost as bad as the fall of the USSR itself (which VP bemoans as the 'greatest tragedy of the 20th Century.') Don't take my word; actually read Putin's speeches on the matter. The 'stealing' of Ukraine from Russia's sphere of influence was an unforgivable act of war by the West, despite the Ukrainian people's will on the matter. It had to be avenged, first in the 2016 U.S. election, but then...

Of the countless services to his master that Trump pursued, one of the foremost was helping Vlad with this grudge.

== The Treason is Getting Utterly Explicit ==

Russia has reinvented itself as a bastion of Christian values in a world beset by relativism and godlessness. As a result, conservative Christians gathering at the World Congress of Families are looking to Putin to protect Christianity from the West.”  

Yep. After 70 years spent futilely trying to suborn the U.S. left, which generally saw through all the faux-egalitarian Leninist crap, Putin and his fellow commissars and KGB agents just dropped all the hammer-sickle stuff and re-branded themselves as billionaire-Christian mafia-oligarchs. And that was all it took, in order to hypnotize the entire U.S. right. What a contrast.

"In western Europe, many people believe that the West is collapsing and all civilisation is threatened by Islam, by demography, and by democracy…What they try to pretend is that there is only one country where Western civilisation is well and alive and thriving, and that's Russia." … Once dismissed as fringe extremists by the political elite, the WCF now counts friends amongst the leaders and politicians swept to power by the populist wave in Europe and the U.S.

“Vice President Mike Pence and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson were originally scheduled to address the conference, but their names were removed from a list of speakers without explanation.”… "Among the members of the WCF is the Family Research Council, an anti-LGBT group with longstanding ties to Pence. 
"It is a geopolitical and ideological battleground," said Kreko, and remarked that the event was a message from "pro-Russian forces in Moldova that the U.S. conservative right and Russia together can save the world from this plague of liberalism and tolerance." reports Newsweek

Then there's Mike Pompeo, openly saying that he's biding time till the Rapture, when 99% of Americans will be consigned to living torment, then eternal damnation, followed by a permanent end to all democracy, diversity, ambition, discovery, curiosity, freedom... an end to all new generations of children... and an end to the United States of America. And yes, although that's not a direct quote, it is exactly what he means.

== It's fragging obvious ==

I doubt any pundit anywhere will take this interpretation. But I believe one reason that Trump intends to pardon - and even promote - soldiers convicted in military courts of war crimes is to drive a wedge between the U.S. military officer corps (USMOC) and the non-commissioned ranks. Putin-Murdoch-etc. know that the USMOC is the 3rd best-educated clade in American life. Moreover, the officers — while conservative in demeanor and behavior — remain deeply committed to science, fact-using and the rule of law, all of which are being warred-upon by the New Oligarchy. 

(Retired officers provide the largest group of new Democratic candidates who have been taking territory in purple and red districts.)

Indeed, the thing I fear most about a second Trump term is that interference in the promotion process will start to have major effects, as these deeply non-political men and women - devoted to the Constitution - are chivvied and harried beyond forbearance. But the scariest angle is how they will also have to start watching their own backs, if Trumpism sinks talons deeply into the non-commissioned ranks.

Doubt this? I know officers who report that the TVs in the noncom ready rooms are always… always… tuned to Fox News. Ponder that.

== Is Civil War pending? ==

I cannot urge you too strongly to read the linked article from The Atlantic's special issue on "Civil War." Here's a blip from How America Ends, by Yoni Appelbaum, who shows why the right is so desperate to cheat and grip power, in the face of demographic collapse:

 “A conservatism defined by ideas can hold its own against progressivism, winning converts to its principles and evolving with each generation. A conservatism defined by identity reduces the complex calculus of politics to a simple arithmetic question—and at some point, the numbers no longer add up.”

And: “When a group that has traditionally exercised power comes to believe that its eclipse is inevitable, and that the destruction of all it holds dear will follow, it will fight to preserve what it has—whatever the cost.

Before you gloat over the apparent intention of the Republican Party to self-destruct at a gibbet of fanaticism, consider a sobering historical correlation and danger sign. The Fox/Putin systematic destruction of moderate conservatism has implications, as Appelbaum points out:

“In his recent study of the emergence of democracy in Western Europe, the political scientist Daniel Ziblatt zeroes in on a decisive factor distinguishing the states that achieved democratic stability from those that fell prey to authoritarian impulses.

“The key variable was not the strength or character of the political left, or of the forces pushing for greater democratization, so much as the viability of the center-right. A strong center-right party could wall off more extreme right-wing movements, shutting out the radicals who attacked the political system itself….  

“If groups that traditionally have enjoyed privileged positions see a future for themselves in a more democratic society, Ziblatt finds, they will accede to it. But if “conservative forces believe that electoral politics will permanently exclude them from government, they are more likely to reject democracy outright.””

This is just another reason to be ready with an olive branch to offer any and all ‘RASRs’ who are willing to renounce their movement’s fealty to mafia-oligarchy, and who will help re-establish the primacy of facts and fact professions. 

(And I have mentioned especially Utah Republicans. They will never be liberal Democrats, so don't ask it. But like Sen. Mike Lee and others, they are realizing that the version of conservatism offered by Putin, Fox and the MAGA inciters is not compatible with theirs. Most Red States and GOP pols and pundits have terrible record score vastly worse than blue ones. Will Utahns form the nucleus of a clean, honest, and fact-friendly conservatism? One can dream.)

Facts matter. And the talons of foreign despots must be taken off our institutions. All else is negotiable! But without those two things, we are forced to accept a bitter truth. That sane conservatives have turned a blind eye to their duty, to country, civilization and even conservatism. At which point, we’ll just have to save all of those things, ourselves.

And yes, Appelbaum covers a few of the points I make in POLEMICAL JUDO. How nice to be a wee bit less lonely.

== Looking back ==

Of all Christopher Walken schticks, it wasn't the infamous SNL "Cow Bells" scene that most rang true. It was playing the fervently anti-communist dad in Blast from the Past who, emerging from 30 years in a bomb shelter, asks his son (Brendan Fraser): "So we're supposed to believe that one day the Moscow Politburo guys just threw up their hands and said 'We surrender'?"

"That's about it, Dad."

Walken shakes his head and sighs: "You've got to hand it to them."

At the time, I (like everyone) thought this a cute little joke on dad's paranoia. Who knew it would turn out to be a terrifying prophecy! That many of the same conspiratorial commissars who schemed against us during the cold war would smoothly convert themselves (with help from Bushes) into billionaire "oligarchs" still using a virtually unchanged KGB, still seeking to destroy the West.

All of the Russoligarchs who Fox/Murdoch/Kochs now adore grew up reciting Leninist slogans and their leader called the fall of the USSR "history's greatest tragedy," yet we're to believe they all became freedom-lovers? Yes the leopard changed its spots, but its claws? Before, it was a criminal gang under a guise of elevating workers. Now, it's a gang - largely the same gang - openly bragging mafia-aristocratic rule. Big diff?

It is! Reiterating the point until some of you start spreading it: for seventy years, they tried using Marxist incantations to suborn the American Left, and almost entirely failed. But as soon as they dropped the hammer and sickle symbols and egalitarian slogans in favor of billionaire-mafia stuff, the U.S. Right falls all over itself, throwing themselves on their knees to betray America and cater to every Putin whim.

Shatter our alliances and sciences? Sure! Attack all the intel, FBI and military officers who fought the Cold War, dissing 500,000 of our finest as "deep state"? Whatever you say boss! Wreck any sense of fact or accountability and devastate our rule of law while making a mockery of U.S. justice by appointing pre-blackmailed shills as judges? Sure, anything the politburo commissars... I mean Godfather Putin... says.

Reminder. Watch this scene again, as Putin greets his co-owner of Fox News, MBS. And notice the puppet entering the room in the background. Then watch the grin as he greets his master, while other western leaders know what they are looking at. The winner of the new cold war, destroyer of NATO and puppetmaster for the American fall.

Oh, Christopher Walken had it right.

You've got to hand it to them.

== A roundup of worthwhile articles. ==

3) Russians have been quietly seeding political scandals in the West for decades. But their methods started working much better when they dropped the marxist surfaces and found different western allies. Read about how simple the method is, from Slate.

4) Professional trolls understand how to harness our biases (and hashtags) for their own purposes and how best to drive us to distrust our neighbors. This article shows how they often start by building rust with 'adorable' viral postings that have nothing to do with politics, from Rolling Stone.

What an era. "End of history" my shiny metal....


Carolyn Meinel said...

Well done and thank you. I'm a Christian and have studied the book of Revelations. I believe that Martin Luther, who launched the Reformation, was correct in opposing inclusion of it in the Bible.

David Brin said...

Well said. Interestingly, Calvin also disliked it. The ideal place to send someone who is curious and ignorant about this horrific sadistic and opposite to Jesus in every way raving is

But I have a simple rebuttal to the appropriately acronym'd BoR.

In one word, that answer is "Jonah," referring to one of the best and most-moving and important books in the Bible. Some will get instantly the lesson tauhgt:

"God can change his mind. In a snit, He might make threats, then relent when enough folks repent."

The apoc-fans and dominionists HATE THAT! Because anyone looking at the boR knows it was forecast for very soon after John of Patmos had his acid trip. Even if it was true revelation - unlikely - in no other place does the deity hold a grudge for more than a year or two or three. 2000 years? Naw. He changed his mind. Moved on. As we should, to make Him (Her etc) proud.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with the analysis of recent Russian history. Putin is - he defines himself as - a "Russian", not a Communist/Stalinist/whatever. He deserves some real credit for lifting Russia out of the sewer of the Yeltsin years. We - USA - look silly griping about Russia interfering in our elections, after we funded Yeltsin's elections, paving the way for the Oligarchs theft of the state assets of the USSR (google Aluminium Wars). Also, please don't pretend that the US (CIA, etc?) wasn't a big force behind the revolution/coup in Ukraine (google Victoria Nuland).

Hey, look, I'm a fan of Pussy Riot, not Putin. But treating Russia as an Enemy is just stupid. Before the end of this century, we will need each others' help to balance the rise of China (Russia has lotsa empty land, China has too many people...). And face it: the US Empire is in decline, and we'd better plan for a smooth transition to a multi-polar phase. Uh, Or Else.


yana said...

Milk And Honey And Rockstar


Put the lie to the light, and it shrivels. A conspicuous one this century is that "America was founded as a Christian Nation." No. That's a lie. A convenient lie for those nutjobbers who want to float racist 'identity' in a rickety canoe of religion. Rather, the first few English colonies were founded as christian refuges, notably by heretics of the day.

But "America" was founded 160 years years later as an explicitly non religious nation. Part of the genius of the enlightened scions (of what some here accept as beneficiaries of cultural robbery and genocide), aside from what is obvious crime today, the founding of the USA was a step forward for all humanity. Looks like a baby step from today's 20/20 hindsight, how lucky are we to have a political system survive so long to have even a shred of it to stand upon, to look back?

We have to keep repeating it until everyone knows it by reflex: the USA is not a christian nation. By original design, it is not a Christian Identity Nation. It was On Purpose that the US was not founded as a christian nation.

Reagan's unholy reach-around with the evangelicals is finally bearing mis-shapen fruit which is unable to propagate itself without depleting the soil it grew up in. Most political movements only need simple manure, but this one now requires outright cheating to survive.

So it will pass. Trouble is, that the nebulous feelgoods of the left are not going to succeed as a replacement. Have argued here before that colonizing space will only work if we incorporate the gung-ho conflict-loving part of the populace. If we only send botanists and geologists, we risk a higher proportion of hotheads remaining on Earth, rooting for each new war with a "cheeseburger on the end of my d*ck."

So it is, for religious hotheads in today's America. Leave the web of beliefs intact but incrementally marginalize it, if you want it to blow up into extremism. This happened last century: petrol multinats used dictators to marginalize islam, and it blew up into a festoon of jackassery. Here and today, there must be a new chord of christianity to accompany the fading of the previous note.

yana said...

Milk And Honey And Rockstar


A more productive way, the forward thinking way, would be to cobble together a perfectly reasonable flavor of christianity via synods of perfectly reasonable widely respected church leaders. This is the perfect way to fail utterly. Making a new religion by consulting experts is exactly the right way to make it fall flat on its face, and waste a buttload of money meanwhile.

No, the next religions have to rise organically. And they will. The brightest billboard from the last two communication revolutions, glaring now in our 20/20 rearview mirror, is the profound changes they brought to religion. Writing collapsed polytheism in to mono-, printing dropped the god --> community relationship down to god <--> me.

Nobody can stop the new religions, not even a vestigial communist party which can force both Hollywood and the NBA to drop balls. Certainly not a vestigial communist party which has no qualms averse whacking a rival don at mass. Chicago had a Ness, the Big Apple had a Giuliani (wince), so one prelate in St Petersburg with the balls of Thomas Beckett could change that nation more, and faster, than Gorbachev. If only he'd have the balls to die for it... but isn't that kinda what christianity is all about in the first place?

Replacements are coming, for christianity, for islam, for hinduism, for buddhism, and for liberalism and for conservatism too. There will be dozens of them. Hundreds. But, if history is a teacher, only a handful of them will survive to grow. I predict that none of those will preach: "it's OK to poison your political rivals and their daughters with polonium." That strain of evil thought will persist in the dark dreary NrChans of the future, but it's going to be wiped out from the global mainstream.

How can we be sure? Because the new religions are going to be "new". Thus all the converts will be new converts. And we all know what that means: zealots. New belief is always the strongest. Born Again might last a lifetime, but newborn life is the most fervent.

Can't tell you where the new religions will rise from, the new communication regime makes Zaire just as likely as Zurich or Zanzibar. Can't say which blends of god/person/science will make it past their first year. No idea what role sex will play in the final handful, nor how that topic will mutate between the prophetic phase and the pontifical phase. Only thing we can see for sure now, is that there will be a lot of them to begin with and we'll get a spate of miniature crusades while the field winnows itself down. Pity that, but we are just monkeys after all. Messy critters who find inexplicable mirth in flinging poo.

DP said...

The events in the Book of Revelation have already happened, It's description of current events written in code that only Christian believers would understand.

The Beast is the evil Emperor Nero (whose full name adds up to 666 using letter numerology common at the time).

The Four Horsemen are the consequences of ancient warfare starting with an invasion of Parthian horse archers (1st rider with a bow), general warfare (2nd rider with a sword), famine as the armies devastate the countryside (3rd rider with the scales) and then plague in a population weakened by starvation (4th rider). There is actually a 5th rider "Hades" that follows after the 4th rider "Death".

Forcing the world to worship the Beast is just the Roman institution of Emperor worship required of all of its subjects.

The two Witnesses are Peter and Paul, both martyred.

One of the most interesting and overlooked parts of Revelations describes the kings that precede the Beast:

9 “This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. 10 They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while. 11 The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.

This is a description of the Julio-Claudian and Flavian dynasties.

"Five have fallen":

1. Augustus
2. Tiberius
3. Caligula
4. Claudius
5. Nero

Ignoring the year of the four emperors as rivals fought for the throne and reigned for only a few months, what follows is the Flavian dynasty:

6. Vespasian ("one is") John's imprisonment on Patmos began during the reign of Vespasian

7. Titus ("the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for only a little while"), a just and good man who only reigned 2 years

8. Domitian ("The beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction"), Titus evil deranged brother who persecuted the early Christians, like Nero did, and so they considered him to be a resurrection of Nero ("the beast who once was").

The Beast's "head wound" that was miraculously healed refers to Nero's suicide by stabbing himself in the neck.

The Fall of Babylon is a reference to the great fire of Rome during Nero's reign conflated with a hope of its complete destruction.

The battle of Armageddon is a reference to the siege and destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.

Christ's "return" and slaying of the Beast's legions with the words coming out of his mouth ("Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations") is a reference to the ultimate victory of the words of the gospel over the power of Rome.

To take revelations as as prophecy is to display a profound ignorance of scholarship and history.

scidata said...

I see that tomorrow morning's in-flight abort test of the Crew Dragon has been slightly delayed due to weather considerations. I guess failure can only be properly tested in perfect conditions.

David Brin said...

dear Elkem, thanks for coming by. But respectfully, you are wrong in every account and every level. Putin called the fall of the USSR the 20th Century's worst tragedy. He and his pals and "ex" KGB consist of nearly all the same men, doing the same things, with the same goals, as when they all grew up reciting Lenin. Russian mass media is resurrecting and glorifying Stalin.

Putin is pushing propaganda narratives that praise or excuse Soviet conquests of eastern Poland and the Baltic states before WWII. (

Putin is forceful in denouncing the west for expanding NATO to protect the Baltic states and Poland and later the Ukraine. From his perspective (utterly dismissing the wishes of the people of those countries as irrelevant) it is true that the US and the West appeared to have promised to keep NATO well away from Russia’s borders. One can understand his grievance! That is, unless you actually do consider the wishes of the people of those countries. -

The fact that he deems those wishes to be irrelevant tells you all you need to know, about what is at stake here.

Did the US meddle and assist Yeltsin? Yes, but that wasn’t the worst crime committed by the horrible evil George Bush Senior against our children. He sent over “advisors” to help Yeltsin distribute shares of Soviet state companies to the people, in ways that guaranteed the commissars (backed by secret rich westerners) would soon own all the shares. Bush Senior was by far the worst US president of the 20th Century and his fellow oligarchs helped create the mafia oligarchy now running Russia.

So? We are left right now with a Moscow regime that has openly declared war upon the very concept of Enlightenment Civilization, reciprocally accountable rule of law, freedom of speech, democracy and the regular retirement of powerful men. Look at his allies in this fight to re-establish rule by inherited feudalism.

You need to read Vladimir Sorokin’s THE DAY OF THE OPRICHNIK to see where this all leads.

David Brin said...

As for Russia has "lotsa empty land" I have gone on record predicting it will be found that by 2010 Putin had already secretly sold to China large swathes of Siberia.

yana -- in Earth I predicted by 2038 a substantial Norh American Church of Gaia... NorAChuGa.

Spencer Brasfield said...

I really like this blog and your books. What I find most troubling is how easily the Russians were able to sow discord among Americans. Does that reflect well on us?

Don Gisselbeck said...

Depending on which Christian sect we are talking about, 99% dammed is a very large understatement. A favorite joke, the Rapture already happened. All twelve righteous persons were taken. No one noticed.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Scidata -- I suspect the thinking was that they wanted good telemetry on all facets of the flight, succeed and/or fail. I'd rather know if things went pear-shaped exactly how and why, instead of assuming.

David Brin said...

Spencer hi and welcome. The failure of Russian hegemons to use marxist cant to suborn the American left was very telling. As is the fact that they succeeded with the US right, almost as soon as they switched symbolisms.

David Brin said...

Very interesting stuff from John Mauldin's column:

In 2011 Chris Goodall, an investor in electric vehicles, published research showing that the UK was now using not just relatively less ‘stuff’ every year, but absolutely less. Events have since vindicated his thesis. The quantity of all resources consumed per person in Britain (domestic extraction of biomass, metals, minerals and fossil fuels, plus imports minus exports) fell by a third between 2000 and 2017, from 12.5 tonnes to 8.5 tonnes. That’s a faster decline than the increase in the number of people, so it means fewer resources consumed overall.

If this doesn’t seem to make sense, then think about your own home. Mobile phones have the computing power of room-sized computers of the 1970s. I use mine instead of a camera, radio, torch, compass, map, calendar, watch, CD player, newspaper and pack of cards. LED light bulbs consume about a quarter as much electricity as incandescent bulbs for the same light. Modern buildings generally contain less steel and more of it is recycled. Offices are not yet paperless, but they use much less paper.

Even in cases when the use of stuff is not falling, it is rising more slowly than expected. For instance, experts in the 1970s forecast how much water the world would consume in the year 2000. In fact, the total usage that year was half as much as predicted. Not because there were fewer humans, but because human inventiveness allowed more efficient irrigation for agriculture, the biggest user of water.

Until recently, most economists assumed that these improvements were almost always in vain, because of rebound effects: if you cut the cost of something, people would just use more of it. Make lights less energy-hungry and people leave them on for longer. This is known as the Jevons paradox, after the 19th-century economist William Stanley Jevons, who first described it. But Andrew McAfee argues that the Jevons paradox doesn’t hold up. Suppose you switch from incandescent to LED bulbs in your house and save about three-quarters of your electricity bill for lighting. You might leave more lights on for longer, but surely not four times as long.

Efficiencies in agriculture mean the world is now approaching ‘peak farmland’—despite the growing number of people and their demand for more and better food, the productivity of agriculture is rising so fast that human needs can be supplied by a shrinking amount of land. In 2012, Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University and his colleagues argued that, thanks to modern technology, we use 65 per cent less land to produce a given quantity of food compared with 50 years ago. By 2050, it’s estimated that an area the size of India will have been released from the plough and the cow.

--> DB: of course this will accelerate if we can vastly reduce cattle herds and pigs.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Relative wealth and social stability also help lower consumption. In the UK, the fertility rate has been under 2.1 (the replacement rate) going back to 1950, the result of birth control and no need to have lots of kids to take care of people when they age. The same is true of nearly all developed nations--freedom from food and shelter anxiety results in a lower birth rate, and a less profligate use of resources.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Anonymous: Russia is not the enemy, never was. The Russian people mean us no hard. But Putin and his criminal cabal do mean us harm, if only to extend their hegemony. Putin was KGB, and his model of government differs from the Soviet mostly only in nomenclature. By late in Yelzsyn's rule, it was obvious Russia was a corrupt and failed kleptocracy, a mad capitalist regime so out of control that nearly a quarter of the population died. But American business, intent on sharing the wealth, praised it to the skies, even though is was as bad as it was in the Stalin years. But because Putin praised capitalism instead of damning it, the American right fell all over itself praising him as the great saviour of modern economics.The only difference is that Republicans believe Putin will share the wealth with them, no matter the human cost. They are sadly mistaken.

john fremont said...

@Zepp Jamieson
Not only praising capitalism but also as our host comments, Putin being baptized in full immersion as per Russian Orthodox ritual certainly convinced plenty of American Evangelicals that the conversion of Russia from religious persecution of the Communist era to their Christian roots. Putin was baptized the proper way, by full immersion.

Tony Fisk said...

The general consensus in Australia is that Morrison has gone full end times Pentecostal rather than face the current catastrophe. (One extreme to another: we've just been deluged with golfball sized hailstones.) No help from that quarter.

While Farley's Apocemon is an amusing romp, a more current take down of BoR would be the serialised version of "Good Omens". It contains more material than Gaiman and Prachett were able to put into the original novel, including a final scene where Crowley and Aziraphale are reflecting on events and wondering when the next round will start (Heaven and Hell vs... 'Them')

I recently had an insight into the 'joke' the Almighty was playing with all the dinosaur fossils. The "Crystal Palace" dinosaurs figure in one GO scene. They were a first attempt at depicting dinosaurs, and weren't very accurate. The most notable mistake being to place the iguanodon's thumb on its nose.

Consider the gesture...

TCB said...

How many times have I been reminded of French king Henry IV's saying: "Paris is worth a mass."

History is full of men no more godly than I am, but who knew that making a show of religion would help them get and keep power.

There's a funeral home in my town that handled the funeral service for Billy Graham just under two years ago. It must be a massive feather in their cap; the main rear entry hall now has a wall of photos from that event, showing the handmade rude pine coffin, shots of people along the highway as the remains were driven to Washington, and notables in the Rotunda where he lay in state, with two Marine guards. Here's Donald Trump, his hand hovering reverently over the coffin; in the crowd I can easily spot Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell. I think Trent Lott is in there too. No Jimmy Carter, no Obamas, no Clintons.

Billy Graham is regarded in Western North Carolina, by a majority anyway, as our local homegrown saint.

But would you just look at who his friends in politics were. Only the worst of the worst in American politics.

Paris is worth a mass.

scidata said...

"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful."
- Seneca

Larry Hart said...


Billy Graham is regarded in Western North Carolina, by a majority anyway, as our local homegrown saint.

But would you just look at who his friends in politics were. Only the worst of the worst in American politics.

I'm reminded of his contemporary, Pat Robertson, preaching on the radio immediately after the Khashoiggi murder about how we (America) can't simply queer a deal for hundreds of millions of dollars in arms sales over one person's death. He might as well have quoted directly from Monty Python:

"This is supposed to be a happy occasion!

Let's not quibble over who killed who."

As far as I was concerned, religion lost even the veneer of piety that day. A bit from Katniss Everdeen in the third Hunger Games movie seems appropriate:

"I'm in District 8 where the Capital just bombed a hospital full of unarmed men, women, and children. And there will be no survivors.

"If you think...for one second...that the Capital will ever treat us fairly, you are lying to yousrelves. Because we know who they are and what they do. THIS is what they do! And we must fight back.

"I have a message for President Snow. You can torture us, and bomb us, and burn our districts to the ground. But do you see that? Fire is catching. And if we burn with us!"

David Brin said...

Billy Graham did repent much of the awful stuff, late in life. I found Good Omens disappointing.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Billy Graham did repent much of the awful stuff, late in life.

So, apparently did Glenn Beck. So apparently does the Republican congressman (not the singer) Joe Walsh who is now running against Trump in the primaries. He gave me the creeps on Bill Maher's show this weekend, talking as if he can't understand why anyone would support Trump, while the host kept reminding him, "Three years ago, that was you. You said that if Trump lost the election, you'd be out there the next day with your musket."

But at least Walsh is trying to actually undo some of the damage he did, whereas some of the other "What have I wrought?" Republicans seem to simply hope to escape blame for the harm they willingly helped bring about.

locumranch said...

Following their 50 years of political dominance, the communist-progressive alliance has apparently gone stark raving "Blue Scare" mad, as they now see conservative-oligarchic enemies everywhere, much in the same way that the dominant conservative-oligarchic alliance of 1950s saw communist-progressive enemies everywhere, as in the case of McCarthyism's "Red Scare", even though nothing much has changed since then, including the cast of characters.

Everything that Yoni (literally 'a stylized representation of the female genitalia') Applebaum has said appears true:

When a group that has traditionally exercised power comes to believe that its eclipse is inevitable, and that the destruction of all it holds dear will follow, it will fight to preserve what it has—whatever the cost.”

And, now, with the once powerful communist-progressive alliance in decline, history repeats itself with (1) a suspension of the 'Assumption of Innocence' doctrine, (2) the creation of an extrajudicial star chamber and (3) the ever-present allegations of Russian Collusion.

Welcome to McCarthyism 2.0. AKA 'The Revenge of the Communist-Progressives'.


David Brin said...

While raving-hallucinating nonsense, L's missive was calibrated to pass my very generous bar to get in. Though his racist/nasty side riff on an Israeli name proved what we all know, that these guys are barely closeted anti-semites.

But though hilarious, it merited a quick scan. The simple matter is that his cult wages open war on all fact professions and these kremlin blowhards NEVER accept manly wagers. Hence, it is blatant which is the cult.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

what we all know, that these guys are barely closeted anti-semites.

Not even all that closeted, which is why I can't understand any of the prominent American Jews who support Trump. Haven't we seen this movie before? Don't we know where it leads?

"Do you still think you can control them?"

My sole satisfaction if the White Christian Nation folks get their way is that they will inevitably turn on the Judeo-locumranch alliance whose last words will undoubtedly be "Who would have guessed?" Or better still, the world rises up against them and treats them the way everyone else treated Holnists in the backstory to The Postman. Either way would be fitting.

Lorraine said...

America is a nation without an official religion. That’s precisely why it’s home to the (unfortunately, in my opinion) least secular society in the free world. The absence of an official religion is why America became a magnet for those members of European sects that actually believed in their theology, as well as becoming a laboratory for new extra-strength forms of (and perhaps variants on) Christian theology, such as Assemblies of God, Church of LDS, Missouri Synod Lutheranism, KJV-only Christians, etc.

It’s about in-group vs. out-group, and it’s also a numbers game. Today, to come up with a Christian majority, you have to include a lot of people who would have been classified as non-Christian in previous generations, including a whole lotta Cafeteria Catholics, Mainline Protestants, etc. But the people most loudly proclaiming the Christian majority are the ones who in the pulpits of their own places of worship most narrowly define what it means to be a true believer (and therefore saved, according to their beliefs).

locumranch said...

Indubitably, David & Larry will be shocked & dismayed to discover that Google & most reputable English dictionaries are most likely "closeted anti-semites", too, as they also define the term "Yoni" in terms of the vulva and/or "female genitalia".

Even in the Hebrew, the term "Yoni" is defined as a diminutive of the term "Jonathan" which euphemistically signifies either a penis or something that 'God gives', the diminution or absence of which would also indicate a vulva or female genitalia.

One must conclude that language literacy has recently been redefined as a "hate crime", much in the same way that scientific literacy on the topic of gender has also been redefined as a "hate crime", at least in the eyes of the PC Gestapo.

Isn't that right, Lorraine?


DP said...

I agree with Lorraine completely.

Let me refer you to an article entitled "Oh, Gods" by Toby Lester in the 2002 February Atlantic Monthly. The article deals with religious demographics and especially New Religious Movements (NRMs) and the introduction sums up the article's main theme nicely:

"Religion didn't begin to wither away during the twentieth century, as some academic experts had prophesied. Far from it. And the new century will probably see religion explode-in both intensity and variety. New religions are springing up everywhere. Old ones are mutating with Darwinian restlessness. And the big "problem religion" of the twenty-first century may not be the one you think."

And from the article:

"The essence of the idea is this: People act rationally in choosing their religion. If they are believers, they make a constant cost-benefit analysis, consciously or unconsciously, about what form of religion to practice.

This is a rather interesting idea: that religious belief should be categorized like any other consumer market. Believers make rational "purchases" of religious "products and services" which meet their current emotional and psychic "needs and wants". This implies that the traditional state supported religions (e.g. the Church of England) are essentially no different than the old state run economies of the former Warsaw Pact — and just as lacking in choices and products to meet consumer needs. Perhaps this explains why Western Europe (especially compared to the US) is spiritually moribund. Apparently Westminister and Chartres are as bad at meeting the spiritual needs of their "consumers" as the old GUM department store in Moscow. Like the former East Block, Western Europe also has its religious equivalent of the black market — newly arrived religious movements like Mormonism and Islam or locally derived non-Abrahamic religions like neo-paganism and druidism.

Assuming that state supported religion is (ironically) the last bastion of old style socialism (with all of its gray stagnation and lack of creativity), what would be the effect on the religious and spiritual "market" of Western Europe if state support for religion were completely discredited and ended? I believe it provides a neat explanation for the apparent paradox that America, while being more religious in belief than secular Europe, has no state support for its religion.

It's hard for Europeans to get spiritually interested in what is essentially just another government department.

Larry Hart said...


Today, to come up with a Christian majority, you have to include a lot of people who would have been classified as non-Christian in previous generations, including a whole lotta Cafeteria Catholics, ...

Or even devout Catholics. It was within my own lifetime that Catholics were perceived as idolators, "agents of the Pope", and dirty ragamuffins from the undesirable parts of Europe. The country club set of the 1960s would have plotzed at the notion of a Catholic majority on the US supreme court. Somehow, Catholics are now part of the club that they would have been prohibited from joining not all that long ago. Jews too.

jim said...

There really isn’t any good evidence that there is absolute decoupling of the economy from the environment. There is plenty of evidence of countries of wealthy countries pushing the more energy intensive activities to poorer countries.

Decoupling energy use and economic growth: Counter evidence from structural effects and embodied energy in trade

And there is this article from Foreign Policy

“But the promise of green growth turns out to have been based more on wishful thinking than on evidence. In the years since the Rio conference, three major empirical studies have arrived at the same rather troubling conclusion: Even under the best conditions, absolute decoupling of GDP from resource use is not possible on a global scale.”

David Brin said...

"There really isn’t any good evidence that there is absolute decoupling of the economy from the environment." Do I smell a strawman... and a stinky one? Who - here especially - ever asserted that?

Moreover, reducing carbon output by say 50% is likely reachable and that will certainly suffice, especially if we reduce agricultural/herd weaste and add plant and ocean carbon sinks and densify cities.

Locum you are a fool. But wonderfully, you reflect the utter immaturity of your cult. Any of us remembers Jr. High School, where the bullies would routinely make a crude, linguistic warp, especially on your name. Locum = Yokum, hey Lil' Abner!

I know darn well what a "Yoni " is. It is your desperate playground need to do such a snark that reveals so much, not just the immaturity, but doing such things over and over and over when anyone sane would see they just don't work anymore.

jim said...

There is no straw man (let alone a stinky strawman).

Anytime you say that we can have economic growth without more environmental destruction you are implicitly making the argument that we can decouple the economy from the environment. And that is a very bold claim that does not have real world evidence to back it up.

David Brin said...

Blah blah grand strawman declarations, false dichotomies and incantations. Sometimes jim is worth arguing with. In this case it's so offensively stupid I have better things to do.

He does relentlessly illustrate - especially this time - the fact that zero-sum thinking is not only the regime of the mad right. He has never, even at his best, displayed the slightest comprehension of what positive sum means, not to mention awareness how he has benefited from the first such society on the planet.

duncan cairncross said...


If you look up energy usage per person you will find
(1) This has leveled off
(2) European countries have a better standard of life than America on half the energy usage

That is total energy
So we don't need more energy for the developed countries and can almost certainly get by on a lot less

The other aspect is that renewables are making up a much larger proportion of the total - about 30% in the UK

Those two together mean that we already HAVE decoupled the economy from the environment !

Now we need to do more of the same

More efficiency
Less waste

TCB said...

Interesting. Veddy interesting. I just read that, although it takes a 2/3 vote for the Senate to remove Donald Trump from the Presidency, the Senate has the discretion of disqualifying him to run again on a simple majority vote. Probably that won't happen either... but in theory it can.

David Brin said...

TCB thanks. Interesting... Fascinating addendum. It appears that by precedent the Senate has established that while removal from office after impeachment requires a 2/3 vote, a simple majority can disqualify the impeached person from running or serving further in federal office. This, of course opens a can of writhing implications, hingeing upon one things — might the Senate pass a rule allowing secret ballot voting on this matter?

The odds seem way-long against that happening. But if it did, then I would lay odds that Trump would be disqualified without removal. To Republican masters, it might be an agile attempt at a win-win, allowing them to avoid alienating Trump supporters completely, by letting him complete his term… but opening the GOP convention to nominate someone else. I assure you this has at least been considered by the Romney-Ryan axis, which is lurking, biding its time.

And thanks to Nancy Pelosi, they don’t have a lot of it.

jim said...

Ok maybe try and look at the situation from the opposite direction.
If you look at a chart of fossil fuel use you can see that it has been almost constant increases year after year. But there was a noticeable deviation from the relentless climb in the 21st century. The reduction in fossil fuel use for a short time was significant, if it continued for 20 years we would stop being the main drives of climate change.

What caused that reduction in fossil fuel use? Why did it not continue?

The great recession was the cause of the short downturn in fossil fuel use.
It ended because almost every government in the world engaged in a truly heroic attempt to reverse the economic downturn - or in other words almost every government in the world acted to increase the use of fossil fuels knowing it will cause long term problems, in order to “get the economy back on track”.

To handle short term problems we chose to make the long term problems worse

A.F. Rey said...

Fascinating addendum. It appears that by precedent the Senate has established that while removal from office after impeachment requires a 2/3 vote, a simple majority can disqualify the impeached person from running or serving further in federal office. This, of course opens a can of writhing implications, hingeing upon one things — might the Senate pass a rule allowing secret ballot voting on this matter?

No way. The Iowa caucuses are just 13 days away, and the GOP in several states have already decided they don't need a primary this season and cancelled them. Taking Trump off the ballot at this point would be handing the Presidency to the Democrats on a silver platter, and cause the Republican voters to seriously consider second-amendment solutions for someone taking away their choice. Anything that could convince even four Republicans senators to do that would also convince them to remove Trump immediately.

But it's a nice dream... :)

jim said...

I noticed that Hillary Clinton is a no good splitter.

Who would have thought that a war mongering, corrupt, corporate democrat like Clinton would back stab progressives?

David Brin said...

Bearing in mind a tendency for press reports to leap at the lurid, I'll answer "So?" How is HClinton's opinion pertinent?

Zepp Jamieson said...

She just managed to split the Democratic Party right in half. What in the hell was she thinking? Does she have any loyalty to anything other than Citizens United? There's no good time for crap like hers, but she just made a huge distraction from the impeachment trial. Does she WANT a second Trump term?

jim said...

Other than the hypocrisy of criticizing progressives as splitters but not doing the same for corporate democrats, not much of a point.

Although if Sanders uses Clinton’s hate for him in his outreach to independent and republican voters it should go over well. Enemy of my enemy kind of thing.

David Brin said...

I waste no sleep on Hillary Clinton.

Jon S. said...

Who the hell cares what Clinton thinks? She's not in charge of anything, she's not running for anything, and her opinion on matters political is at this point about as important as her husband's, which is to say not in the least.

Of course, those devoted to claiming some sort of "party split" in order to boost their own side of this "split" (or to try to defeat the Democratic party by encouraging it to defeat itself) will want to call a great deal of attention to this, no matter how trivial it actually is.

Smurphs said...

Can't believe I am doing this, I've gotta backup jim on this one. You have ragged on him mercilessly for being a Splitter. It is deserved, he is one.

But you give Hillary a pass?

No longer relevant or not, who is going to effect more people? This is what Splitters do, give cover for every "Never Bernie" or "Never Warren" idiot out there.

I don't care if Hillary thinks she is being even-handed or getting revenge or whatever stupid reason she believes.

Millions of people still look up to her.

This only helps Trump.

You should lose sleep over this.

duncan cairncross said...

In a documentary series that is yet to air
Hillary Clinton "reportedly" says that - Nobody likes Bernie

So we don't know if she actually said this

We don't know WHEN she said it (if she did)

We don't know the context

Hillary "may" be a "splitter" but we don't know that yet

Keith Halperin said...

Per: request for follow-up from last post:

"Keith Halperin said...
@ Dr. Brin: ~1/2 current US levels, or the lowest usage for a country that has an HDI of 0.9 or above: Ireland, Germany, South Korea....

4:04 PM
David Brin said...
I'd be very surprised if Japan and Holland don't have a ratio that's even better."


If we were to go by ecological footprint:


I interpret that based on the ecological footprint of Italy 4.61 Globalha (the lowest footprint with an ~0.9 HDI in Western Europe, taking Spain as an outlier) and a WW biocapacity of 12.6 Globalha, the world can sustainably support ~2.7 G at an Italian standard of living.

Going back to energy consumption, if Jacobson is *right and we can do approximately 11.8 TWe of renewable energy, then the world can sustainably support ~3 G at a Western European standard of living.

Putting all these together, I conclude we should work toward stabilizing and then reducing world population to the 1950's level (or lower) over the next ~2-3 centuries without increasing the death date and avoiding compulsory methods (, while raising the WW HDI to 0.9+.

I am not a scientist or statistician- my premises/analysis may be faulty or my math may be in error. I welcome your comments- "It's the Enlightenment way!"



TCB said...

I just saw a quote from Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail (1972) where he bemoaned that he'd not had a presidential candidate he could feel good voting for since 1960. and how long can one go on fighting depressing rear-guard actions? I know that feeling, I call it the "downward ratchet of lesser evils". Eventually, even the lesser evil is foul indeed. This is the spur that bloodies the flanks of the splitters.

And it's not all the fault of impatient lefty agitators, it's just not. There are forces in the establishment that actively dread a successful progressive movement, and do all they can to smother it. I don't refer to the Democratic establishment here. I refer to the corporate establishment.

At the last Dem debate on CNN, the moderator stooped to a tactic that Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi termed "villainous and shameful" in trying to use Elizabeth Warren to destroy Bernie Sanders. Moderators, we'll recall, are supposed to be neutral. From the linked article:

“CNN reported yesterday — and Senator Sanders, Senator Warren confirmed in a statement — that, in 2018, you told her you did not believe that a woman could win the election. Why did you say that?”

Not “did you say that,” but “why did you say that?”

Sanders denied it, then listed the many reasons the story makes no sense: He urged Warren herself to run in 2016, campaigned for a female candidate who won the popular vote by 3 million votes, and has been saying the opposite in public for decades. “There’s a video of me 30 years ago talking about how a woman could become president of the United States,” he said.

Phillip asked him to clarify: He never said it? “That is correct,” Sanders said. Phillip turned to Warren and deadpanned: “Senator Warren, what did you think when Senator Sanders told you a woman could not win the election?”

Now is when I mention that even the "centrist" CNN is owned by Comcast, and the "liberal" MSNBC is owned by ATT. Any candidate who threatens the corporations which own the vast majority of the media must somehow reach potential supporters in an environment where the discussion is largely controlled by those same media corporations. Two of Sander's less well-known planks are of interest here:

One, Sanders proposes a tax on Wall Street transactions, as Dr. Brin has recommended. Two, Sanders plans to repeal the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which removed ownership caps on TV and radio stations, among other things; TCA 96 is why you can hear Rush Limbaugh at the bottom of your AM radio dial in any inhabited area of the nation.

So. CNN and other major corporate media would like to use Elizabeth Warren to torpedo Bernie Sanders. I'd expect, if that works, they'd then turn their attention to scuppering Warren as well. The media execs would rather watch the Earth fall into the Sun than see corporate power humbled and pre-Reagan tax levels resurrected.

I'm a policy guy; all I care about is what the candidate will do, not whether they look or sound good, not whether I'd like to have a beer with them. Policy. On that criterion, Bernie is right about almost everything. Warren comes in well behind him, but I could live with her if I must. No other remaining candidate is even worth mentioning. Biden can't beat Trump or Romney, and if he somehow did, would preside over a Weimar interregnum without instituting any of the reforms needed to keep the next far right demagogue from rising.

Alfred Differ said...


The great recession was the cause of the short downturn in fossil fuel use.

Urgh. Too simplistic. Too prone to confirmation bias. Lots of things trended downward during the recession/financial panic. Economic output DID drop which can fairly be used to explain the drop in fossil fuel usage, the drop in copper prices, and many other things. What can’t fairly be done with this evidence, though, is argue that there is any necessity to this.

Reduction in economic output occurred BECAUSE demand for economic output products was reduced. That sounds reasonable, no? It isn’t, though. Not quite. Producers can play with prices if they have sufficient margin. During the recession, many of us had smaller incomes (or none or just savings), so our inclination to PAY for our demand was reduced. If suppliers could have matched us, output would have been propped up. On some products, this occurred. On some it did not. Aggregate production shrank as a result, thus the drop in fossil carbon usage.

Know what else imitates this? Artificial price floors on fossil carbon fuels above what producers might wish. Consumers see this as a carbon tax and adjust their purchasing behaviors according to substitutions they consider viable. Such a tax WOULD impact production of some things, but probably not like the recession did unless we do it stupidly.

To handle short term problems we chose to make the long term problems worse

No. This is just silly. We CAN be this stupid, but we aren’t. Recognize the role prices play in getting us to consider substitutions and we can avoid dumb zero-sum attitudes.

Alfred Differ said...

Hillary doesn't like Bernie.
News at 11:00.

I don't see how this splits Democrats. Maybe some of you Democrats do, but as far as I remember, this was already known. Wasn't it? If there is a split, isn't this an old one?

I know quite a few people who still like Hillary and still dislike Bernie. So?
Bernie's the one in the race today. They are allowed to 'still' dislike him.

Were there ever 31 Democrats in the race? We could have opened an ice cream store. 8)

matthew said...

Looks like Adam Schiff was a fantastic choice for the main thrust of the Union spear on impeachment. His committee was, by far, the most consequential in the House to hear evidence. His opening statement today was nothing short of historic. His words will be studied. Good stuff in a hard time.

David Brin said...

Smurphs, just because I shrug that HClinton's opinion is meaningless and ineffective doesn't mean I give her a 'pass." She probably hallucinates Bernie betrayed her in 2016, when he campaigned for her and against splitterism. I just find it very hard to believe anyone believes that centrist dems will vote for Trump. Seriously? That's a fear?

TCB said...

House Speaker Pelosi's statement on McConnell Cover-Up Resolution, reprinted in full.

Pelosi Statement on McConnell Cover-Up Resolution
Washington, D.C. – Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued this statement on Leader McConnell’s resolution on rules for the impeachment trial of the President, which will operate on a greatly compressed schedule and rejects the need for witnesses and documents:

“Leader McConnell’s plan for a dark of night impeachment trial confirms what the American people have seen since Day One: the Senate GOP Leader has chosen a cover-up for the President, rather than honor his oath to the Constitution. Shamefully, this sham proposal does not even allow for admitting the House record into evidence at the trial.

“Leader McConnell’s process is deliberately designed to hide the truth from the Senate and from the American people, because he knows that the President’s wrongdoing is indefensible and demands removal. No jury would be asked to operate on McConnell’s absurdly compressed schedule, and it is obvious that no Senator who votes for it is intending to truly weigh the damning evidence of the President’s attacks on our Constitution.

“The public now knows why Leader McConnell has been hiding his resolution: the Clinton comparison was a lie. Clearly and sadly, Leader McConnell has misled the American people. For weeks, he has insisted that he will adhere to the rules used during the Clinton impeachment trial and that ‘fair is fair’ – but his proposal rejects the need for witnesses and documents during the trial itself. In contrast, for the Clinton trial, witnesses were deposed and the President provided more than 90,000 documents.

“President Trump undermined our national security, jeopardized the integrity of our elections and violated the Constitution all for his own personal, political gain. He has repeatedly said that he would do so again. Duty, honor and country are at stake. Every Senator who supports this sham process must be held accountable to the American people.”

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

I just find it very hard to believe anyone believes that centrist dems will vote for Trump. Seriously? That's a fear?

Well, there are a few right here on this list who insist that they absolutely will not vote for Sanders or Warren, even if Trump is the alternative.

Alfred Differ said...

I agree that Schiff has been impressive. He’s thinking on his feet... and showing what a House member is supposed to be able to do. Oratory.

David Brin said...

Whether or not MBS directly hacked Jeff Bezos's phone, one fact remains. JB was the one prominent person who did what I've been recommending for four years, in the face of threatened blackmail... he told his blackmailers "Go ahead and expose me. Do your worst. I won't give you any satisfaction." And yes, he paid a price - a marriage that he had betrayed but still wanted to hold onto. And yes, the richest man in the world can afford to be brave about exposure of a non-criminal (and stupid-but-private) scandal. Still it set an example...

... that no one else has yet to follow. Alas. Because I have long held that the behavior of many public figures cannot be explained easily by any other hypothesis than blackmail. And it is the nature of blackmail - the oldest KGB trick, going back to the czarist Okrahna - that blackmailers encourage their victims to think they are so alone. When in fact, the first few to turn the tables on their oppressors are likely to become major heroes, with their peccadilloes (or family members, as in the case of a fellow named AK) counting much less than their patriotic display of courage.

So I argue in TWO chapters of Polemical Judo... a book that's worthwhile... though you can see an earlier version of one of those blackmail chapters here.

BTW has anyone else noticed how VA Gov. Northam waited out his own scandal? Because outrage over SYMBOLIC errors can blaze hot, among liberals, but burns out, without any real criminality or victims, when the doofus has worked hard to be and do better. (In contrast, symbloism is all that conservatives care about; watch Fox sometime.)

Now if only Al Franken had realized this. We'd have a paladin of humor and devastating wit in the Senate floor right now, today, eviscerating Lindsey Graham and the other hypocrites, sternum to crotch.

Oh but yes, I do believe every one of those Democrats - honest but unimaginative - would do far better if they mined this trove:

David Brin said...

LH I have no clear memory of anyone on this list making that vow.

For brains and incoruptibility, I'd love a Warren-PeteB ticket. I do fret about her ability to administer, which he has done a bit and she not at all. The next prez must be CHAIRMAN of that deep bench we've seen onstage, able to hold it together and focused.

Bernie... I love him and he's a clone of my dad. But I try hard to squint and see him chairing a meeting... hundreds and hundreds of tedious, wonkish meetings... and I doubt any of you can squint that hard. Go on, admit it.

Klobuchar can, in theory, but the swirl of stories about her temper....

Chairing meetings and administering and gladhanding teams of rivals is exactly what Biden is spectacularly good at. Though yes, I share with the rest of you my worries about his barely-adequate reformist passion, his gaffes and the potential for more family black eyes.

With seasoning, Pete has great potential. I'd surely rather Bloomberg and Steyer spent their money loosening GOP NDAs.

And so full circle. I can live with Warren-Buttigieg. (Heck, I can live with ANY of them, so long as they carry a landslide and the Senate.) If I had my fantasy, I suppose it would be 3 years of Biden followed by nine of Warren-AOC...

Then 8 of Pete+AI-Pericles...

There, does that sound sell-out corporatist to you?

TCB said...

The Duke of Wellington was a flawed man, to be sure; but he had his wits about him. When an old flame tried blackmail via releasing her memoir along with his old letters, he simply said "Publish and be damned."

scidata said...

AI-Pericles, perfecto. Goes along well with Voltaire and St. Joan. Gosh I hope the Enlightenment gets past a couple more Seldon crises. Great things are near at hand.

Re: disqualification

I'm in the 'deny the rats any way off the sinking ship' camp. They're bolted on to the Cheeto. I liked the final scene of "Murphy's War" (1971) where Peter O'Toole becomes the victim of his own obsessive brutality.

TCB said...

I bear no personal animus toward Joe Biden, but he is a product of Delaware politics, and that is disqualifying in a Democratic candidate. It would take a thousand years to convince him corporate control over the government is a bad thing.

Delaware: where it costs 8 dollars to drive the 11 mile Delaware Turnpike and cross the bridge to New Jersey, or $89 to incorporate your own company.

David Brin said...

To be clear. I want the Delaware (and Nevada and others) thing fixed, so we can push a world treaty. My instinct is that this is a Nixon-to-China thing and Biden might be beneficial here. But if we ONLY got the 31 shared goals I've listen elsewhere, then we can start from a saved civilization and take on the corps aftern that.

matthew said...

Adam Schiff again with the late night baller move- an amendment that would have allowed the Chief Justice to rule that a witness or evidence is relevant. Basically, saying he would trust the head of the conservative court to be neutral. It was a trap of course, since Hunter Biden (or Joe) cannot be relevant to the crimes by the POTUS. Psychological warfare, and a not-so-subtle nod to Roberts. I'm deeply impressed.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

LH I have no clear memory of anyone on this list making that vow [not to vote for Warren or Sanders] .

I hesitate to malign anyone unfairly, so understand this is from memory alone, but I could swear that Ilithi Dragon made just that comment. If I'm wrong, it is a misremembering on my part rather than deliberate slander a la some people I know.

I remember wryly noting that if the person who said that is sincere, then either we've already lost his vote or that of at least two others who insist on voting third party if Biden or Bloomberg gets the nomination.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

I have long held that the behavior of many public figures cannot be explained easily by any other hypothesis than blackmail.

And for the sake of his soul, I hope the blackmail that they've got on Lindsey Graham is more than just exposure of his sexual orientation. Because if that's all they got, well, this line from a comic book sums it up:

"...and this spell requires a secret that you haven't told anyone."

"I'm not as tall as I tell people I am."

"Do I really have to explain what a secret is?"

jim said...

You know, sometimes you really crack me up.
I say – a smaller economy uses less energy than a bigger one.

In other news –
Do you trust the Trump administration to competently deal with a pandemic?

Don’t worry he will have a “Perfect” response. (laughing because I don’t want to cry)

Darrell E said...

As far as I can make out Hillary did not say she wouldn't back Bernie. The Salon article headline and first few sentences are highly misleading. They plainly state that Hillary will not support Bernie. If you read the article and the quotes from Clinton you find that she did not state that she would not support Bernie. What she did was decline to answer. She said, "I'm not going to go there yet. We're still in a very vigorous primary season."

Actually having read the Salon article, I think Hillary makes some accurate points about Bernie. She may have a grudge, but she isn't raving, she isn't making shit up and being that we are in the primaries I think it's perfectly appropriate for her to have said these things. Too bad the reporting was intentionally misleading though.

Hillary haters are gonna hate I guess.

Then there's this. Hillary Clinton clarifies that she will support the Democratic nominee -- even if it's Bernie Sanders

Well, how about that?

Alfred Differ said...


You are making the case for causality as far as I can tell. That would be a mistake. Big economies could use less energy than small ones.

David Brin said...

CA passed a law that all newly built homes must have solar. One of scores of "blue laws" that pass in a steady tide, the the dem gov's top job to sensible send some of them back for calmer re-thinking. Splitters who ignor this aren't just infantile and crazy. Thos are mere traits. They are ignorant, which is correctable, and hence lazey, which is unforgivable.

jim said...

You don't disappoint ;-)

What would be a big mistake is assuming we live in some theoretical universe were we can grow the economy though energy efficiency rather than the one we actually live in.

sure in theory it could happen for a little while but I have not seen any evidence of it happening in real world global data.

jim said...

And Alfred,
of course there is a causal connection.
Every single economic act requires an expenditure of energy.

Zepp Jamieson said...

DB wrote: " I just find it very hard to believe anyone believes that centrist dems will vote for Trump. Seriously? That's a fear?"

No, but the problem is one you've mentioned in the event Bernie or Warren get the nod: supporters of Biden or whoever might not vote at all in the presidential race. That equates to a vote for the Orange Traitor.

The only problem is the timing: now is when Dems contest the ideas, in the primaries. After March, when it's (presumably) settled, do Democrats work out a general platform that will enthuse the most voters.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Jim wrote: "Do you trust the Trump administration to competently deal with a pandemic?"

My worst nightmare, and we're reminded by the coronavirus that broke out in China last month and reached the US the other day. In the hands of a competent government, it's no worse than a nasty strain of the flu. In the hands of an incompetent and uncaring government, it could kills millions.

David Brin said...

Crum. Earth is wonderfully resilient. If we pound her just half as hard as we are doing, we should make it to better times. If we reduce that burden by 75% those time will come swiftly. Notice how jim argues with some cogency. But repeatedly displays that he simply cannot think except in zero sum terms.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

After March, when it's (presumably) settled,

I'm not so sure. Unlike the Republican side, most Democratic state primaries are proportional. The candidate who gets 45% of the vote ends up with almost as many delegates from that state as the one who gets 55%. In 2008, a big deal was always made about whether Obama or Hillary "won" each state, but for the most part, they were staying even in terms of delegate count.

It might not be over until June, if then.

Keith Halperin said...

@Dr. Brin:
"...pound her...If we reduce that burden by 75% those time will come swiftly."
Could you elaborate on what you mean by "pounding,""reducing the burden," and how soon is "swiftly"?
We COULD do that by 4G-6G WW deaths or eliminating much of the developed nations' population, but that wouldn't be very nice...
From your understanding, have there been notable instances of societies effectively dealing with slow-moving crises like our current one(s)? if so, how dis THEY do it?
I wonder if some of the current negative environmental practices could (under certain conditions) end relatively quickly after reaching a tipping point, like foot-binding in early Twen Cen China.



Larry Hart said...

All the Republican state AGs, supported by the Trump administration, are trying to kill Obamacare through the use of a loophole, of sorts. The law requires that people who don't have insurance pay a special tax. In the tax bill that gave a trillion bucks to corporations and rich people, the GOP set the Obamacare tax to zero. The argument is that now that the tax is zero, the law is invalid.

For as long as I live, I will never understand this "reasoning". The ACA law was already upheld by the Roberts court. If a change like "setting the tax to 0" really does cause a new conflict with the Constitution, then that change is unconstitutional and should be struck down. The change doesn't suddenly make the rest of the law which hasn't changed unconstitutional.

"The Consitutionality of the law requires a tax, therefore with the law in place, you can't lower the tax to 0".

The new change is what gets judicially reviewed, not the existing law.

jim said...

Sense no one else has responded to your concerns, let me sketch out a potential scenario that I think is not impossible.

First, lets make a big assumption and pretend that humans on earth find the strength to live within strong limits like the Humans and other sapient races do on JiJo (in the uplift trilogy).

If we do that, the basic problem becomes how and where to live in order to minimize the energy you need and maximize your daily access to renewable energy.

I think the best place that minimizes your energy needs and maximizes your solar resource and that could support billions of people.........

would be floating ocean cities within 5 degrees of the equator.


1) No one owns this section of the earth
2) No hurricanes can form with in 5 degrees of the equator
3) The temperature is mild year round (mid 80’s) (heating and cooling are big energy users today)
4) You get lots of solar year round with minimum seasonal variation. (Handling season variation is a huge expense that gets worse the further you get from the equator.)
5) You can easily and cheaply tap into icy cold water from the ocean depths to provide refrigeration, air conditioning and most importantly fresh water extraction from the air.
6) Transportation to and from the floating city by ship – the most efficient way to move goods and people. (no roads to other cities need to be maintained another big efficiency gain.)
7) Because you are designing the city from scratch, internal transportation could by foot, elevator and electric trolly/ subway. Have the human waste products integrated into floating gardens greatly reducing or eliminating synthetic fertilizers.
8) If wood products make up a substantial portion of the mass of the city – it would store a huge amount of CO2.
9) Equatorial Floating cities are pre-adapted to climate change. Sea level rise – not a problem, massive heat wave with temperatures above 100 – not going to happen.

The big question is can we build floating ocean cities - I am not sure but I get the feeling it would be about 6 orders of magnitude easier than a Mars colony.

David Brin said...

Keith yes there are examples. The forests of the US east of Chicago were almost vanished. Now they are 50% or so back, bigtime. Urban use of coal turned cities black along with lungs and made the poisonous London fogs. Urban use of coal was banished and I was in London when they were finishing the big scrape... turning buildings from black to limestone white.

Yes, our swithc to remote coal and electricity delivered to cities could be viewed (by jim etc) as zero-sum shifting, still damaging the closed system. (See? A positive summer can envision zero sum views. The reverse is seldom possible.) But it is a criticism-friendly enlightenment system that keeps looking for the next error, as when those power plant smokestacks were nailed for producing Acid Rain and when CFCs were wrecking ozone. Those calamities were addressed quicker than earlier ones, suggesting that awareness might keep up.

I said might. The jury is still out. Jim might prove right. After all, the Fermi Paradox.

But that's not the underlying issue.... which is snarky-cynical LAZINESS. If someone is in the trenches alongside me, fighting hard for better days, then I'll shrug off his gloomy assessment of our prospects. I cannot shrug off jim's gloom, though. Because he's not given us any evidence that he's actually in the fight for any purpose other than to harrass those trying hard to save us all.

David Brin said...

In fact, I expect Roberts to 'go liberal' on half a dozen issues, maybe Obamacare, in order to preserve his cred as 'balanced.' But he will never, ever rule in favor of democracy or against the trend toward oligarchic power.

Watch. Keep score.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Jim: Thank you.

Some of these discuss the proposed Oceanix City, which aspires to create a scalable platform for the seafaring civilizations of tomorrow and the latest seasteading venture of Marc Collins, French Polynesia’s former minister of tourism and something of a floating-cities veteran. Let us hope hope that this project is more successful than others have been in the past and that Mr. Collins hasn't "*agreed to be C.E.O. of a dumpster fire pirate death ship."



*LOVE that line!

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin: Thank you. These are the sort of environmental improvements we can be proud of- we are NOT living in the environmental disasters of "1989: Population Doomsday," "LA 2017," or "Make Room, Make Room!," though I've heard it said we aren't too far from "*The Sheep Look Up".

Back to Russia:
Could we say that Russia is practicing a very crude, sloppy form of **Proto-Psychohistory?


Keith "What Would Hari Do?" Halperin

* I believe that if the banks had gone down in 2008, we would have been living in a cyberpunk novel....
** I believe a more exact term would be "Applied Sociology".

Jon S. said...

I'm starting to think that what I read on Twitter is correct - it's not that Lindsey Graham is being blackmailed, it's just that his sole drive is to seize and hold onto whatever power he can manage. And at the moment, he's become convinced that the key to power is to keep his nose so tightly wedged into Donnie's ass that his sneezes tickle the presidential prostate.

The downside to this, of course, is that it becomes politically difficult for him to cut the cord at this point; suddenly changing to a different position would mark him as an intolerable hypocrite even to his ever-shrinking base in SC. So, thanks to his earlier grab at power, now he's stuck. His only hope is that he can somehow help cover up Donnie's crime spree until the man is forced out of office another way.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: Yes, it could conceivably drag out until June. But there is a 'bandwagon' affect in the primaries where someone with a lead on Super Tuesday tends to augment that lead.
Far too early to predictions, which is why I said "presumably" without naming any particular candidate.

Alfred Differ said...


I agree with our host that you argue with some cogency, but I also agree with him that you have a blind spot. Let me see if I can poke you there one more time.

Every single economic act requires an expenditure of energy.

Indeed, but how much. Thermodynamics sets some limits, but they aren’t terribly useful most of the time because many of our processes are far from the ideals expressed in those laws.

1. Consider ammonia production for a moment. Vital to fertilization of land where there is insufficient fixed nitrogen in the soil. We produce ammonia in staggering amounts and then react with other products to get useful fertilizers. How much energy is required for this from start to finish? Well… one can work through the current industrial processes and make educated estimates and get close, right? No. That merely tells us how we are doing it right now. What other processes might we use? Are there industrial processes that make better use of catalysts? If so, energy requirements drop. What about biological processes? Microbes make use of processes we don’t even know yet. Huge catalysts found by trial and error over billions of years. That suggests we DO NOT KNOW how far we can go in squeezing out energy demands in the production process. We know how much entropy change there is at the end though, right? Nah. For reversible processes, yes. For irreversible ones, no. Where we CAN know is when we are given a process to calculate. Where we can’t know is when we try to reverse that calculation. At best, we might get some decent bounds, but we can have reasonable arguments about them.
2. Consider fresh water production, or Aluminum reduction, or Fe reduction from Fe2S3, or any other industrial chemical process. We are in the same situation as we are with ammonia. We can calculate using given processes, but we can’t say much about requirements when we reverse the question.
3. Consider CO2 production. Wouldn’t we go straight to biology for this? Skip industrial methods? In the current era, we might. In the late 18th century, probably not.
4. Consider yeast production for making beer. No sense even looking for an industrial processes since the little guys reproduce themselves. All you have to do to go industrial is find a way that scales that helps them from poisoning themselves. Oops. Industrial processes came in through the back door? Maybe, but there are options if one is imaginative.

What would be a big mistake (snip) assuming we live in some theoretical universe w[h]ere we can grow the economy though energy efficiency rather than the one we actually live in.

Not really. We’ve been doing this for millennia. I get that you can’t imagine that you live in this kind of universe, but you do. I’ve lived it as an entrepreneur and in other parts of my professional life. Innovation is often about squeezing out energy requirements because those requirements bring costs into a process. Of course what we are actually optimizing is costs, but I’ve seen it be both quite often.

You are making the same mistake made by the authors of ‘Limits to Growth’. You are failing to imagine what innovators actually do. MANY people can’t imagine this, so you aren’t alone. It helps, I suppose, to have lived a life around innovators to see up close what is involved. It removes the need for a leap of imagination and replaces it with small steps along an imaginative path.

I think you have things backwards AND confuse correlation with causation. We found a way to get rich by liberating ourselves a bit and in the process tripped across a wildly successful method for innovation that made many things cheaper through efficiency and then discovered in our new found wealth and power that we could do far more in ways that manipulated the world on a macroscale. Innovation does NOT require macro-manipulations and the corresponding energy demands. It might happen that way, but there is no good reason to support it being necessary. As energy becomes more expensive, I’m pretty certain this will be made more obvious.

David Brin said...

Nice way to finish, Alfred.