Saturday, February 15, 2020

The 'sane right' makes some tepid moves... International concerns - and historical parallels


The Lincoln Project aims to encourage a rising-up by American conservatives who are embarrassed by Putin-Trumpism and who are determined not to let their movement sink into treason and turpitude, without a fight. The most-famous founders are Gov. John Kasich and George Conway – yes, he of the bizarrely fascinating marriage to Trump factotum Kellyanne. They are exemplars of those whom I call RASRs – Residually Adult-Sane Republicans. Although punctuated by a strange and only marginally relevant anecdote about Civil War General Dan Sickles, their manifesto is worth a glance, especially in light of the same week’s editorial in Christianity Today denouncing evangelicals’ slavish devotion to Trump.

Of course these gestures matter little – nor do the imprecations of George F. Will and all the 1990s neocons against the Munich Putsch that’s taken over the U.S. right. I expect another front to open up when Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan see their chance to make a play. 

 I have long opined that top Democrats should also reach out to the citizens of Utah, whose version of American Conservatism quaintly disapproves of drunkenness, lying, bribery, gambling, cheating, blackmail, treason and every other modern Fox-Republican attribute.

All of them, of course, are reaping the bitter fruit that German conservatives choked upon, in the 1930s, when the Prussian "Junkers" elites thought they could 'control' a populist fascism to suppress the left, without conseuences. In our case, cheat-gerrymandering meant that nearly all GOP politicians had more to fear from primaries than general elections, ensuring they’d be terrorized by the most radical brownshirt-types, who today threaten extinction (political and real) to any Republican with spine or a glimmer of patriotism. 


They should have seen this coming when Dennis “friend to boys” Hastert became head of their party. (Look him up, and make sure your cousins confront what he means.) 

Now? Very likely, it is too late for residually-sane "Schindler" Republicans to do anything more that beg the ghost of Barry Goldwater for help against monsters of their own creation. And pray that seeds for something better - a phoenix version of fact and science-loving, lie-hating, non-cheating and not-run-by-the-KGB conservatism can arise from these ashes. Maybe in Utah.


== Is there an International Conspiracy? ==

Of course there is, though some are imaginary, like 99% of the howls about an American cabal of scientists, teachers and journalists plus a million dedicated civil servants in the FBI, law, intel, foreign and military officer corps who saved us from Hitler, Stalin and bin Laden, but who fools now dismiss as “deep state” traitors, without one scintilla of real evidence.

As you know, I see something else with a lot more backing and proof – an arrangement among “ex” KGB agents, Saudi princes, gambling moguls, inheritance brats, monopolists and finance parasites, every one of whom benefits from destroying transparency and competitive accountability, the foundations of the Western Enlightenment.

I make much of that case in Polemical Judo. But there are other collections of evidence, more thorough than mine. 


Take for example Seth Abramson's “Proof of Conspiracy: How Trump's International Collusion Is Threatening American Democracy.” It’s a followup to his earlier “Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America.” Both of which can provide plenty of ammo when you demand wagers from your redder friends and cousins.


== Eerie parallels ==


Stunningly consistent parallels between Trump and Kaiser Wilhelm II, who led one of history’s great nations into utter calamity while ranting and raving all the way. 

In The New Yorker, Miranda Carter writes, Trump’s tweets were what first reminded me of the Kaiser. Wilhelm was a compulsive speechmaker who constantly strayed off script. Even his staff couldn’t stop him, though it tried, distributing copies of speeches to the German press before he’d actually given them. Unfortunately, the Austrian press printed the speeches as they were delivered, and the gaffes and insults soon circulated around Europe. 

“There is only one person who is master in this empire and I am not going to tolerate any other,” Wilhelm liked to say, even though Germany had a democratic assembly and political parties. (“I’m the only one that matters,” Trump has said.) The Kaiser reserved particular abuse for political parties that voted against his policies. “I regard every Social Democrat as an enemy of the Fatherland,” he said, and he denounced the German Socialist party as a “gang of traitors.” The Kaiser’s entourage compiled press cuttings for him, mostly about himself, which he read as obsessively as Trump watches television. A critical story would send him into paroxysms of fury.

“More sinisterly, Wilhelm’s patronage of the aggressive, nationalistic right left him surrounded by ministers who held a collective conviction that a European war was inevitable and even desirable. ”

At the opposite end of intelligence, but illustrating the very same calamitous human tendency and flaw… In Foreign Affairs, Fareed Zakaria offers another of his lengthy and mostly-wise missives, this one urging the U.S. to exercise more thoughtful patience with China. There’s much to ponder. Recommended. 

Yet, despite that, I find some desperately important matters missing. Foremost: the reasons why PRC leaders chose to repress the life-liberalizations we expected to see accompany economic advancement. That leadership clade is very smart — for example, they deem an MBA to be nothing more than frosting on the engineering degree that actually trains you for useful things, a lesson that Boeing managers and all of Wall Street long ago forgot. 

Still, the Beijing Politburo fellows are also trapped by some classic imperatives of human nature.

Across 6000 years, nearly all leader castes prioritized their own position atop a pyramid of command and authority, then hired priesthoods to justify that arrangement. Step back and you see that Xi & co. are following an ancient pattern that did humanity no good across those sixty+ centuries. I describe and analyze these rationalizations here, including why they claim only a central command communist bureaucracy can ever control malignant AI!  


== Superpower comparisons ==

An important article in The New York Times makes clear that it’s been a very good decade for China and especially the ruling caste. In part by dint of their own efforts … but also because of the comparative plummet of their chief rival the U.S. 

Incomeswealth and life expectancy in the United States have stagnated for much of the population, contributing to an angry national mood and exacerbating political divisions. The result is a semi-dysfunctional government that is eroding many of the country’s largest advantages over China. The United States is skimping on the investments like education, science and infrastructure that helped make it the world’s great power. It is also forfeiting the soft power that has been a core part of American pre-eminence.”

That soft power resides not only in our system of alliances – which was due to augment under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but has instead been systematically demolished by Republican rule – but also by destruction the biggest American advantage across the last 75 years… the appearance of the high moral ground.

The author also points out how relentless promises to invest in U.S. infrastructure have all been hot air, even though it is the one thing we could do that would benefit us in all ways, from present to future, from the jobless to well-off, and certainly transform our cities.

One more reason the US military officer corps is not following the Fox-Putin Party down a rabbit hole of treason? “China, Russia and Iran to hold joint naval drills.” 

Of course there’s also… everything else. Every blessed thing, from the Fox-led war on science and every fact-using profession to skyrocketing deficits to gerrymandering and other cheats, to Putin and his fellow “ex” communists giggling over how easy it was to suborn the U.S. right, by changing a few symbols. To the cowardly refusal of nearly all current republicans to actually put money-stakes down on wagers. But worst of all? The inability of stupid democrats to leverage on any of this. I wrote Polemical Judo in vain hope that some general on the “union” side in this phase of civil war might actually try some new tactics. But we seem stuck in 1862, waiting for our Grant.

== More danger signs ==

See an important article and associated maps in the New York Times showing where today's military recruits come from. "More and more, new recruits come from the same small number of counties and are the children of old recruits. ... The men and women who sign up overwhelmingly come from counties in the South and a scattering of communities at the gates of military bases like Colorado Springs, which sits next to Fort Carson and several Air Force installations, and where the tradition of military service is deeply ingrained."

== Alternatives to consider ==

Help Amy McGrath defeat Mitch McConnell and his backers-blackmailers in the KGB. And astronaut Mark Kelly in Arizona. And in South Carolina a  new poll shows Democrat Jaime Harrison ONLY DOWN 2% against Republican Senator Lindsey Graham.

160 comments:

TCB said...

Just found out about Cal Cunningham, one of the Democrats vying to take on NC GOP Senator Thom Tillis. Cunningham is a major in the Army Reserve and Tillis is one of Trumpigula's more slavish minions. I saw a Cunningham flyer which led with his oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, strongly implying the corrupt incumbents. I like the cut of Cunningham's jib, and he is just the sort of candidate Dr. Brin is looking for to beat the fascists.

David Brin said...

Thanks TCB just posted on FB about that.

Daniel Duffy said...

I'm more concerned about Trump's followers. What are we to make of the fact that no matter what he does hos ignorant racists followers stick with him.

40% of our fellow Americans are worse than deplorable.

That thought keeps me up at night.

Donald Gisselbeck said...

RASR really should mean "Residually Almost Sane Republicans".

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

40% of our fellow Americans are worse than deplorable.

That thought keeps me up at night.


That was the most surprising and scariest thing about the 2016 election. Not that Trump was elected as a protest against Hillary or a middle finger to the establishment, but how many of my fellow citizens knew what Trump really was and liked what they saw.

The regular people and elected officials who now push the "Article II says the president can do whatever he wants" meme wouldn't assert that about any other president. They mean that Trump can do whatever he wants. It's at the point where they really would rather follow Trump than Jesus.

David Brin said...

There's a weird faux-logic they use. "Sure he is repulsinve in dozens of ways. But those MUST be the surface blemishes the cover the truly worthwhile stuff." For the oligarchs, those are judges and taxes. For the fundies, "he's the flawed but chosen instrument of heaven." What they cannot bear to face is that "you see what you have and the stench goes all the way through to those judges, those taxes, and the hell that spawned that rotten soul."

Anti Ascaris said...

Polemical Judo?

There is only ONE way to win an argument! Through the Truth.

Like for example one I use against hypocritical religiots.

"You say that Bible is only Truth? That that genuine words of God?
Here:
Luke 17.6 And the Lord answered, If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it will obey you."

:)))))))

Lloyd Flack said...

I noticed the parallels with Wilhelm II when I was reading The War that Ended Peace by Margaret Macmillan, a book about the outbreak of World War I. I later read of a discussion between her and another historian, Max Hastings, in which they both noticed and were concerned by those similarities.

TCB said...

Watching a great video. It's an hour long so I'll give a synopsis. But worth a watch so you get this guy's line of reasoning in full.

The Cardboard Box Reform - Nixon's Ghost Bill & A Crucial Flaw in Democracy

James D'Angelo (Winner 2014 MIT Climate CoLab, ex-NASA scientist) uncovers a crucial flaw in American democracy. Incredibly, the solution – which lays at the heart of all current social concerns (inequality, the recession, political division, government disapproval, Citizens United, civil rights and corruption) – costs under 5 dollars.

The video begins with a list of things that have all gone wrong in America since the 1970's. He says it's wildly unlikely inequality, polarization, etc. all have different causes. He goes looking for his 'lionfish': the invasive species, metaphorically speaking, that must have been introduced then. And he found something: an obscure 1970 law, Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970.

So, James D'Angelo is, like Dr. Brin, a great fan of transparency. But in one place transparency is deadly: elections. The secret ballot, known since Aristotle (but not instituted widely until the last century) prevents intimidation and vote buying. BUT... Congress has never had secret ballots, and the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 makes ALL their votes public. So you get everyone knowing how every representative votes, and in theory everyone is now pressuring and bribing their representatives to vote this way or that way.

But in practice, the only people who can ACTUALLY pressure the representatives are the economic elites. And the rest of us just watch. So we get the famous Martin Gilens flatline graph showing elite influence and hoi polloi impotence.

So James D'Angelo advocates secret votes on everything, $5 cardboard boxes in Congress, just like the kids use in school when learning about the secret ballot (he remarks, "I couldn't believe I had to relearn this!")

Lloyd Flack said...

What I hear about Trump from the right is "He's a fighter. He'll crush the left. We won't be safe till that happens." I hear this from those who enjoy the thrill of the conflict. They make all sorts of excuses for him, refusing to recognize him for the bully that he is. They are paranoid enough to want a strongman. And I hear this from people who label themselves as libertarians. including ones who are not Christian.

TCB said...

James D'Angelo also argues that committees should be closed, because lobbyists get to sit there and direct the wording of the bills to be voted on. No voice votes, no recorded votes, secret ballots, only the total result known. And that would free legislators to vote their conscience (and it would even free them from making fundraising calls all day long).

Deuxglass said...

I have had enough. When I see the Democrat leadership bending over for Bloomberg's money and looking to him to save the party somehow I just get sick. I m old enough to remember what the Democrats once stood for and this is not it, not by a long shot. If the Dem party leaders expect me to vote for a man who is further to the right than Trump then they have another thing coming. This party is brain-dead.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

For the oligarchs, the faux-logic makes sense. All they care about really is tax breaks and deregulation. If Trump gives them those, they don't give a rat's ass how he gets there. They sleep very well at night (on satin sheets with many beautiful ladies), not because of any rationalizations, but because they are sociopaths with no conscience.

The religious folks are another matter. I can understand the idea of a flawed instrument of God, but in this case, what exactly is he supposed to be providing as that instrument? Do evangelical Christians really detest immigrants? Do they despise clean air and water? Think that Constitutional democracy as a form of government is an abomination in the eyes of the Lord?

No, in the case of religious Christians for Trump, what you say goes even further than you went. It's not just that their benefits are tainted by the poisonous means by which they are achieved. Rather, the very essence of their faith is laid bare as coming down to:

* Love of money
* Control of women's bodies
* Freedom to bully those deemed outside the club

That's it. That is what they mean when they refer to "Christianity". And at least for some, I suspect they will follow Trump off of a cliff rather than risk the bit of perspective which would cause them to realize what they have wrought.
*

Tim H. said...

In the case of the "Fundagelicals", God isn't their only loyalty and Trump doesn't contradict their commitment to Mammon.

Ahcuah said...

I don't see how the proposal from James D'Angelo, as presented by TCB, about closing committee hearings accomplishes what they think it will, because it has an incomplete understanding about what lobbyists do.

I did lobbying at the Ohio Statehouse for about 20 years. Sometimes it was doing the lobbying myself; mostly it was dealing with a hired lobbyist. I was never paid, and it was for a small (but nationwide) organization that could barely afford hiring a lobbyist.

Committee meetings do way more than just vote. Bills are introduced that are just crap, and all of the legislators are too ignorant to know that, or to think about the broad implications of the language of the bills. They have no idea how (often horribly broad) language will affect small groups of people in detrimental, and completely unintended for the purpose of the bill, ways. When lobbying works, it educates the legislators and makes useful changes in the bills. I've testified before various committees many times (even in front of Jim Jordan while he was still at the Ohio Statehouse) and have managed to get changes that minimized fallout on non-targets. (Part of the Ohio Revised Code contains language that I actually wrote.)

Yes, the monied-interests are the source of many bills. But also, just as often from what I saw, it is some individual constituent complaining to the representative about a situation, and the representative deciding he/she has to "do something" to avoid bad press. In Ohio, they'd then go to the Legislative Services Commission to write the bill, but again, the LSC was awful in thinking about side implications or how a county sheriff might implement it and screw people who were not a target of the bill.

Yes, there are also big-time issues with big-time money and organizations behind them. Yes, that is horribly corrupting and a big-time concern. Yes, lobbyists from big-money have a huge influence. But sometimes the little guys can get changes through their own small-time lobbying.

In the end, I caution against these nuclear types of fixes. How do we educate the legislators? If we get rid of lobbyists and the legislative work is done in secret, what replaces it (and will it be even less transparent)?

Larry Hart said...

I suppose that 5000 years ago in biblical times, it was possible for one tribe to go to war with another and wipe it off the map entirely. To me, that doesn't seem possible in today's world. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians can reasonably hope that their enemy will disappear from the face of the earth forever after. It's the same thing with liberals and conservatives. There is no actual sceneario in which, having destroyed each and every liberal, conservatives would be free of liberal ideology forever after from their own children and grandchildren.

Yet that is exactly the type of war the fundamentalists seem to be trying to win. One last battle to destroy once and for all the forces who would destroy them once and for all.

Alan Moore had it correct at the end of "Watchmen" when one character asks if he did the right thing in the end, and is answered, "It never ends."

Larry Hart said...

Deuxglass:

I have had enough. ... If the Dem party leaders expect me to vote for a man who is further to the right than Trump then they have another thing coming.


I have also had enough...of people whose voices I otherwise respect declaring their intention to let Trump win a second term if they don't get their own way. I've had enough of the People's Front of Judea fighting the Judean People's Front, while the Romans look on amused.

I hereby declare what has been obvious anyway, that if the Democratic nominee is anyone who actually has a chance of being the Democratic nominee, I will vote for that person. Bernie, Warren, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, or yes, even Bloomberg, I'm willing to fight over which Democrat to run in the primary, and I'm willing to try to move the party in my direction after they've won, but at general election time, the point isn't whether I'm in love with the Democrat, or even whether the Democratic Party deserves the win, but keeping power away from the treasonous Republican Party at all costs.

You say Bloomberg is to the right of Trump, but I doubt Bloomberg would claim "Article II says I can do whatever I want." Bloomberg had racist policing strategies as mayor of New York, but I see no indication he would continue or advocate for such strategies as a national leader. Trump does so every day. Bloomberg would not be sending a torrent of right-wing judges for Moscow Mitch to inflict upon us for the rest of our natural lifespans.

The November election is not about which candidate deserves to be personally rewarded. It's about who will do the most good or the least damage. To that end, I will Vote Blue, No Matter Who.

Deuxglass said...

LarryHart,

I can't respect people who would vote for a dog out of principle as long as it had Democrat written on its side. Giving absolute loyalty to a party no matter what is the best way to keep it from reforming itself. Bloomberg is a Republican in mind, spirit and actions. As president he would install typical Republican policies. Why in the Hell do you think he came into the race? He came in because he and his golf buddies see this a fantastic opportunity to take over the Democrat Party. It's a classic leveraged buyout. Take this from someone who worked 25 years in investment banking. They will take over the party, suck out its assets and then throw it away. They are counting on people with your type of thinking to make that happen. They hang a sign on Bloomberg saying "Democrat" and all the fools bow down. Pathetic.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry, the problem is that is if everyone obediently lines up and says, "we'll support whoever the DLC wants" then we'll end up with whatever the DLC wants, and it may not be anyone leftists will want to support. I don't want to simply replace one corrupt plutocrat with another, and we already have "centrists" triangulating important policies out of existance: Biden says he'll consider a Republican running mate. Buttigieg has abandoned medicare-for-all and tuition-free public college. Klobacher wants to attract "pro-life" people to the party, and there's only one way to do that.
People will have to follow their consciences after the convention. But they are more likely to get a more palatable candidate if they voice their consciences BEFORE the convention, and during the primaries.

TCB said...

We simply have to expose Bloomberg before he can win any primaries. Here's what I wrote elsewhere this morning (wording slightly cleaned up) and I think it's all a sensible Dem voter needs to hear:

I replied to a Bloomberg texter that Bloomberg put Democrats in cages during the 2004 Republican convention in New York. He did it the previous year to war protesters. He did it some more during Occupy Wall Street. Hell, he even threatens little kids:

The police even made a show of force at rallies for school funding. As The Times noted on Sunday, "at no point during this vigorous protest season has the presence of white-shirted police lieutenants seemed more absurd than at a gathering where a young child carried a sign reading 'Don’t take away my music class.'"

If you have to support one of them centrist Democrats, maybe don’t follow the one who arrests the people he now wants to vote for him.

TCB said...

@ Ahcuah, who writes "I don't see how the proposal from James D'Angelo, as presented by TCB, about closing committee hearings accomplishes what they think it will, because it has an incomplete understanding about what lobbyists do. [...] How do we educate the legislators? If we get rid of lobbyists and the legislative work is done in secret, what replaces it (and will it be even less transparent)?"

See the comment before that too. Close committee meetings AND USE SECRET BALLOT FOR EVERY VOTE, large or small.

One of D'Angelo's symptoms of legislative sclerosis is that bills have gotten ridiculously longer. Of course legislators need to be educated on what they're voting on, but most worthy legislation shouldn't be hundreds of pages long in the first place. Much of that is bound to be favors and loopholes put there by, you guessed it, lobbyists. Not all lobbyists are evil, I assume Ahcuah is an upstanding citizen, but that's beside the point. Lawmakers somehow managed to do good work before the 1970's, when the process was more secret (but even then they were doing hand votes and D'Angelo says the founding fathers simply dropped the ball on this, because they were largely mimicking how legislating was done then in England and France.) D'Angelo notes that many of the most notorious lobbying groups, like the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Heritage Foundation, were founded circa 1973. As an example of bloated legislation, he offers Cap and Trade legislation for greenhouse gases, and it would be hard to think of a nobler-sounding yet less effective idea than that.

In sum, D'Angelo argues that we have made our process transparent in the very spot it should not be. Bribing or threatening your legislator doesn't work and has no value if he can simply lie and say "I really really tried but your bill doesn't have enough support."

Mitch NcConnell and Donald Trump cannot threaten fellow Republican senators to vote to protect the dictator as they are told if there is no way to prove how the individual senator voted.

And ALEC can't simply hand pre-written bills to legislators and expect them to pass unchanged if ALEC's guy is not allowed in the committee room.

Larry Hart said...

Deuxglass:

Giving absolute loyalty to a party no matter what is the best way to keep it from reforming itself.


And I do take that point. What I'm saying is that, like Star Trek's Edith Keeler, you are right at the wrong time. America won't survive another term of Trump and a complicit Republican Senate. My loyalty is not to the Democratic Party as an entity so much as it is against the Republican Party. And I will not facilitate four more years of Trumpsim in order to punish the DLC.


They are counting on people with your type of thinking to make that happen. They hang a sign on Bloomberg saying "Democrat" and all the fools bow down. Pathetic.


You seem to think I'm supporting Bloomberg against the other Democrats, and that it's a given that he'll be the Democratic nominee. You missed the part where I also said I'd vote for Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren? There have been people here on this list and commentators in the New York Times who claim to despise Trump but couldn't ever bring themselves to vote for Warren or Sanders. So if you can manage to get a progressive nominated, your candidate will have my vote but not those others'. People who say that probably would vote for Bloomberg against Trump. So if one of the progressives loses to Trump, you can blame those folks and not me.

Deuxglass said...

There is a beautiful irony to the Bloomberg endeavor. If he becomes the candidate then all the Democrat campaign-workers will be using their energy and talents to elect a Republican. Hat's off to Bloomberg and his friends. I hate what they are doing but I have to admit that it is sheer genius.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Larry, the problem is that is if everyone obediently lines up and says, "we'll support whoever the DLC wants" then we'll end up with whatever the DLC wants, and it may not be anyone leftists will want to support.
...
People will have to follow their consciences after the convention. But they are more likely to get a more palatable candidate if they voice their consciences BEFORE the convention, and during the primaries.


Again, point taken. The problem I have is with the attempt at blackmail, "If the Democrats don't nominate my preferred candidate, I'll punish them by allowing Trump to win." If it was only one candidate whose followers felt that way, then it might make sense for the Democratic Party to pragmatically give in. When everyone is doing it, though--"I'll only vote Democrat if they nominate a centrist!", "I'll only vote Democrat if they nominate a socialist!", "I'll only vote Democrat if they nominate a woman!", "I'll only vote Democrat if they nominate a black candidate!"--then who is the party supposed to give in to and thereby alienate everyone else?

We Democratic-leaning folks can get at least something we want--removal of Republican rule--if we band together to do so. But if we each consider other Democrats to be as bad as Trump and therefore not worth supporting against Trump, then we're going to get Trump, and none of us will be happy.

To me, the way to force the Dems to become more progressive is to demonstrate that progressivism is actually popular with voters (and donors). It's already worked in the sense that Democratic support for gay marriage and the ACA, once sure winning issues for Republicans, have become mainstream positions. If we show that progressivism is a winning electoral strategy, we'll never lose again. But insisting that the Democratic Party run a McGovern or Mondale -style losing candidacy so we won't throw a temper tantrum doesn't seem to me like a convincing argument.

TCB said...

My overall position on the Democratic presidential primaries can be summed up with a single meme, some of you may have seen it:

For every major policy mistake the United States has made in the last 30 years, there is video of Bernie Sanders trying to stop it.

As far as I can tell, that's true. Against the endless wars. Against the Patriot Act. Against financial deregulation. Said Citizens United was a disaster.

And he's been for all the right things just as long. He got arrested protesting segregation in 1963, and that wasn't his first protest against racism. He supported gay rights as mayor of Burlington, VT in 1983, which was ahead of the curve.

There just isn't another presidential candidate in either party who has been on the right side of every major issue for that long. Almost all the others have at least one stance from their past that looks terrible now. Biden was tight with Strom Thurmond and is partly responsible for forfeiture laws that let police rob citizens. Pete Buttigieg's time at McKinsey has forced him to deny any link with a Canadian bread price fixing scandal, and his team studied privatizing the Postal Service (if they took more than five minutes to say Hell No, that's disqualifying). Elizabeth Warren was a Republican conservative back in the 1980's (but at least she learns and grows! Good on ya!) Bloomberg was giving millions to the GOP just two years ago. Gabbard is just horrible.

Klobuchar seems okay but, I'll say it again, Bernie was getting arrested working for civil rights when she was three. Yang is cool but he's dropped out. Steyer answers the question, "What if Bloomberg but not evil?" Like the others not yet mentioned, however, he's not polling high enough to matter. He can support other candidates, as Bloomberg would do if he were not, you know, evil.

So, yeah. Bernie. He's always done the right thing. Give him power to do more of it. With anyone else, you cannot be sure they will do the right thing, and with some of them, you can be sure they won't.

Larry Hart said...

Six minutes into this Bill Maher Overtime video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqfqZCZxIOo

You've got someone who thinks Trump is an existential threat to the country, nevertheless unable to bring himself to support Bernie Sanders were he to be the nominee. The way he puts it is like the Meat Loaf song, "I would do anything for love, but I won't do that." His point is that he doesn't want the Democratic Party to force the voters into that sort of choice.

And that, as part of the big picture, is what bothers me--not that Deuxglass wouldn't support candidate Bloomberg in particular, but that there are narrower and narrower factions that the Democratic Party must choose to placate and thereby lose the others. I don't see a path to victory in November using that strategy.

Jon S. said...

Buttigieg hasn't "abandoned" M4A or tuition-free college; he never supported those in the first place. He's pretty much what the Republican Party used to be before they lost their freaking minds.

That said, yes, I'll vote for the Dem nominee, and not out of some misguided "party loyalty". I'll vote for the Dem because in the situation we have, which is the only one within which we can work just now, that is the only effective way to vote against Trump. Nobody cares about third-party or write-in votes; they're a way to let you feel good about yourself without actually committing to a plan of action. And in most elections, that's fine, you can sit back and let the adults drive for a while.

This time, however, is too important. Observing just the moves the Don has made since failing of conviction in the Senate, it seems increasingly clear that this could well be our last free election - he clearly desires to be not President, but King, establishing his own dynasty over the former United States of America (probably to be renamed Trumplandia, in honor of his enormous ego), and ruling for the rest of his life before appointing one of his children as his successor. We don't have space for somebody's hurt feelings about how their favored candidate was treated, not until the current crisis has been avoided. Once we're back on course we can go back to the good ol' circular firing squad so beloved of American politics - but not until we've restored American politics. Not until we're no longer under the alleged "leadership" of a man who admires the political stylings of Erdogan and Duarte, whose only actually-read book (so far as we know) is a collection of Hitler's speeches, who at least acts like a wholly-owned subsidiary of Putin Inc.

Keeping on with our old style of politics right now seems to be rather akin to the Titanic plowing at full speed through the ice fields. And frankly, I don't even know how to play a musical instrument, much less what the tune is to "Nearer My God To Thee", so I'm not ready for that re-enactment just at the moment.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry, the problem isn't with your strategy; it's with your timing. Come the convention and an official nominee, that's when you exhort people to come together and support the party. But for now, let them fight it out in order to assure the best nominee we can hope for. Yeah, it's messy, but that's democracy.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry wrote: "Again, point taken. The problem I have is with the attempt at blackmail,"

It's not blackmail; it's bargaining. Do you tell the salesman when you walk in, "I'll buy anything you want to offer at the price you select", or do you say, "convince me you have the best product out there."?

David Brin said...

Avid discussion!

Good link TCB --- The secret ballot is a huge exception to my general support for transparency, absolutely necessary in order to prevent voter intimidation and bribery. The exception, locked into law under Nixon, is Congress, where all votes are public. We are talked into this because, well, Senators and Representatives can be viewed as the servant/delegates of their districts and states, and there are points in favor… but this video shows that the costs have been immense. Because now lobbyists and blackmailers and fanatical partisans are far better at using these open voting records to enforce their will.

We all saw this recently, in the Trump Impeachment Trial, as many leaked stories emerged bout Republican Senators - perhaps the twenty needed for conviction - would have voted to remove this embarrassing president, but for political or other threats. Oh, it speaks ill of them and their entire movement that they lacked the spine to stand up when they were needed! Still, the Secret Ballot option is one I discussed in my “exit strategies” chapter, in Polemical Judo.

Anyway this video makes a strong case for Senators and Representatives to have a secret ballot option. Perhaps not in every vote - the counter argument of accountability to voters still has merit - but perhaps a certain number of times per year? Or else when a minority demands a secret ballot vote over WHETHER to hold a secret ballot vote?

Left out of this is how congressional committees now utterly depend on lobbyists as a source of expertise. Because under Gingrich, then Hastert, the institutions within Congress offering analysis, like the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) were demolished precisely in order to achieve that effect.


It’s a conversation worth having.

The Cardboard Box Reform - Nixon's Ghost Bill & A Crucial Flaw in Democracy

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gEz__sMVaY&t=716s

David Brin said...

In fact, I agree, TCB and I said in The Transparent Society that the secret ballot was an exception… though ponder this. The ultimate solution to voter intimidation is STILL, ultimately, transparency that exposes the intimidators.

Deuxglass you are so incredibly fulla it. You are utterly hallucinating these "DNC" plots, or else imbibing or even sourcing Kremlin memes.

As mayor, Bloomberg echoed his time, in which tough-on-crime was popular even in the ghettos. To be clear, stop n’ frisk was bullshit and racist even then and it and his sexisms disqualify him for me. I wish he’d keep his promise and aim all his ad money at Trump, instead of puffing himself. But I don’t view him as thinking he has a chance. (When he’s in the debates, he should neutralize Trump’s taunts by carrying a box with him onto the stage!)

What I think he wants is (1) the ego-boo of some cheers and (2) enough delegates for a seat at the table. What? you don’t think democratic voters can see what you see? Stop hallucinating that the “DNC” is more powerful in this selection than the Dem voters are! It makes you look shrill and foolish.

I expect (and hope) MB will keep his promise and spend half a billion dollars helping the democratic nominee.

“For every major policy mistake the United States has made in the last 30 years, there is video of Bernie Sanders trying to stop it.”

Terrific. Then elect him to be National Conscience. We need a president. And that means someone who can dicker and bargain and negotiate and chair meetings and NOT have utter rigidity, despite having huge principles and goals. Putin will assess anyone who is rigidly predictable and plan around that. Warren went UP in my estimation when she started modifying her plans - while retaining the core ambitions - though that sank her with the purists.

Deuxglass said...

Dr. Brin,

You are thinking like a scientist and writer. I am thinking like an investment banker as does Bloomberg. He is very comfortable in the world as it is because he and his kind are wining. By setting himself up as a white knight for the Democrats in a brokered convention he effectively cuts out the possibility of a white knight arising from within the party. It's a win-win situation for him and for the Republicans. Some people will be perfectly comfortable with Bloomberg as president. It would allow them to feel good about themselves even if they are voting for a New York billionaire in order to vote out another New York billionaire. Where is the choice in that? There is none. They are interchangeable.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Larry, the problem isn't with your strategy; it's with your timing.


Which is exactly what I said to Deuxglass, re: Edith Keeler.


Come the convention and an official nominee, that's when you exhort people to come together and support the party. But for now, let them fight it out in order to assure the best nominee we can hope for.


I'm not arguing against that, whatever it somehow sounds as if I'm already in the bag for Bloomberg. "Vote Blue No Matter Who" refers to Warren or Sanders as well. But what I want for the selection process is to pick a candidate who can win in November, not to pick my favorite Democrat.


Yeah, it's messy, but that's democracy.


It's also democracy that the party's primary voters might select a candidate who isn't your favorite. So when someone says, "I can't support the Democrat if he is X", whether X=Bernie or X=Bloomberg, he's saying he won't accept a democratic outcome unless it goes his way. Which is exactly what Trump does.

Larry Hart said...

Deuxglass:

You are thinking like a scientist and writer. I am thinking like an investment banker as does Bloomberg.


Then isn't it possible you are as bad as he is?


Some people will be perfectly comfortable with Bloomberg as president. It would allow them to feel good about themselves even if they are voting for a New York billionaire in order to vote out another New York billionaire. Where is the choice in that? There is none. They are interchangeable.


I don't know enough about Bloomberg to say, but I'd be very surprised if he threatened Constitutional democracy the way Trump does. In Illinois last election, I cheerfully voted for billionaire JB Pritzger for governor in order to oust billionaire Bruce Rauner. Some Democrats felt exactly as you do--what's the difference between one billionaire and another? My feeling was, if it takes a billionaire to beat a billionaire, so be it. Pritzger is not out to destroy unions the way Rauner was. That's good enough for me.

I'm not saying that I want Bloomberg as nominee or as president. But I am saying that if he's what it takes to beat Trump, I'm so on board. Unless you can show me that Bloomberg will support dictators and screw our allies, encourage white nationalism, and use the Constitution for toilet paper, I'm not buying that he's no different from Trump.

duncan cairncross said...

From the outside

Bloomberg strikes me as a "Republican" - but one of the old pre-madness Republicans - a member of the GOP
Not The "Party of Trump"
And as such a HUGE improvement on the Orange One

Legislation
There are "Laws" and there are "Regulations"

Laws are the top level - THOSE are the work of the Legislature
They need to be short - one ONE subject - and should always have a "Purpose Statement"
They can only be changed by the legislature - but the Judiciary can criticize or block

Regulations are the level below - These are the work of the Bureaucrats
The Judiciary can send them back to be re-written
These can be changed by the Bureaucrats without too much hassle

A lot of the issues with the US Legislation is that Laws and Regulations are being confused

The Legislators voting on a ten page LAW can be expected to have read thought about and understood that LAW

The "Regulations" under that law may be a thousand pages -
For each regulation it should be possible to say -
"Show me how this regulation contributes to the PURPOSE of the LAW"

As far as secrecy in the process and voting I am in favor of our process where the draft legislation is on the web for us all to comment on
Somebody once said something about CITOKATE

TCB said...

Gotta say, I'm over on reddit and whatnot reading people trolling all over Bloomberg, and it's about the only enjoyable thing this campaign season.

"You realize you're the bad guys, right?" "The one candidate who can unite America - the man who literally all four corners (of the political chart) hate?" "Sure Mayor Bloomberg knows Ghislaine Maxwell, he knows a lot of people!" etc, etc.

David Brin said...

Deuxglass, I am a dogmatically anti-dogmatist. In that I am more interested in the odds than I am in grand declarations. Is Bloomie an aristocrat? Absolutely Are many aristos eager to be oligarchs, allying themselves with mafiosi, gambling moguls, drug lords, petro princes and KGB agents to return us to feudalism? Um… where on this planet have you seen ANYONE denounce that oligarchic puttsch more than I have? Or 10% as much?

Are ALL rich guys members of a cabal to wreck the enlightenment that enabled some middle class geniuses to get rich delivering fine new goods and services? Um… no? Buffet, Gates and most tech zillionaires are loyal to the engineers they work beside and don’t want a world centered on inherited wealth. Or one that trashes science and the planet. Somewhat (a little) satiable, they’d rather be very rich in a decent, rising civilization than demigods in one that’s spiraling to hell.

Whatever his faults, I’d give odds MB thinks of himself as in the latter category.

Should we then trust him? Hell no. You and I differ by degree. In that you are all black & white and I see him as a potentially useful gray… and even as president I think he’d help move us on all 31 desiderata I listed… though drag his feet with half measures on some of them.

“It would allow them to feel good about themselves even if they are voting for a New York billionaire in order to vote out another New York billionaire. Where is the choice in that? There is none. They are interchangeable.”

Three things. I do NOT want Bloomber. He WON’T be the nominee. And your paragraph is crazy beyond any reckoning.

FOr one thing, he would be vested in destroying Fox!

LH I was just thinking about Edith Keeler last night!

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry wrote: So when someone says, "I can't support the Democrat if he is X", whether X=Bernie or X=Bloomberg, he's saying he won't accept a democratic outcome unless it goes his way. Which is exactly what Trump does.

Here's the problem: I don't quite trust the Democratic leadership enough to want to give them an unconditional guarantee that they have my full support no matter what. All that does is let them go ahead and rig the game, and while I could gulp and swallow and support Biden or Klobacher, if unenthusiastically, I don't trust Buttigieg or Bloomberg. And if I don't make my reservations clear, that just increases the odds of getting a poorer choice. It goes other ways, as well; a lot of people have problems with Sanders or Warren, and the primaries will give everyone a clearer idea of who the strongest choice is available to the party.
It's a terrible mistake to let the party think you'll accept whoever they choose. That may be true in the end, but do you really want to leave yourself vulnerable to a poor choice?

scidata said...

Spock's description of the eddies and currents of Time in that TOS episode was one of the most astonishing high points of that series. Harlan Ellison et al will go down in history for that script alone.

(Spock) "First, I believe we have about a week before McCoy arrives, but we can't be certain."
(Capt. Kirk) "Arrives where? Honolulu, Boise, San Diego? Why not Outer Mongolia, for that matter?"
(Spock) "There is a theory. There could be some logic to the belief that time is fluid, like a river, with currents, eddies, backwash."
(Capt. Kirk) "And the same currents that swept McCoy to a certain time and place might sweep us there, too."
(Spock) "Unless that is true, Captain, we have no hope."

Larry Hart said...

scidata:

(Capt. Kirk) "Arrives where? Honolulu, Boise, San Diego? Why not Outer Mongolia, for that matter?"


I used to ask that question about Mr. Peabody and Sherman. What happens when they set the way-back machine to (say) 1492 and end up in that year but in Japan or Australia?

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Here's the problem: I don't quite trust the Democratic leadership enough to want to give them an unconditional guarantee that they have my full support no matter what. All that does is let them go ahead and rig the game


I do understand the point that both you and Deuxglass are making. You're speaking as if you are across the table from the Democratic Party leadership telling them what you would like them to do in order to earn your support, whereas I am speaking as if I'm talking to the voters who fear and loathe another term of Trump and exhorting them to do what it takes to prevent such a fate. Those are two very different conversations.

One thing though. I think that even for what you're trying to do, you're negotiating at a disadvantage. For every "I can't bring myself to vote for Bloomberg" there are plenty of vocal "I can't bring myself to vote for Sanders/Warren" making the equal and opposite threat...I mean negotiation. I've tried to document that here in order to show that it's not just me making that up.

Assuming that the Democratic leadership believes they need to get progressives and moderates on board in order to defeat Trump, they know that your threat to withdraw support amounts to "I'm willing to harm myself and those I care about in order to force the issue." Whereas the threat of centrists and RASRs to support Trump over them carries more weight, as those folks probably aren't upset about making that choice. It might even benefit them personally. The rational move is to give some concessions to voters who might swing your way and hope the others in your camp understand.

No, you can't make the Democrats go more progressive by threatening to withhold support otherwise unless you can convince them that going more progressive can be a net winning strategy, despite losing the never-Bernie and never-Warren voters. It's not enough to convince them that appealing to centrists is a losing strategy if they also think that appealing to progressives is a losing strategy. What good does another 1972 or 1984 election do any of us?

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

It's a terrible mistake to let the party think you'll accept whoever they choose. That may be true in the end, but do you really want to leave yourself vulnerable to a poor choice?


That ship has sailed. I don't have enough of a poker face to credibly threaten at this point to do anything that would help Trump or Republicans to win.

If you and Deuxglass are going, "Shhhhhh! We'll be there with you in November, but don't tell them that!" then Godspeed. All I can say is, please negotiate for a candidate who can win in November, not one you'd rather lose with than the others.

There were plenty of never-Trump Republicans who didn't think they could "vote Red no matter who" if their candidate was Trump. To a one, they all came around because they had no other credible option (from their POV). Now, they're having Hitler rallies in the Senate chanting "Four More Years!!!" So what's so wrong about winning? It beats the alternative.

Tim H. said...

What if Peabody & Sherman arrived in the western hemisphere in 1492 with cowpox?

Tim H. said...

Just a guess, the Democratic party looks like Bloomberg's only path to candidacy this year, only death will prevent Trump's re-nomination because of inertia & intimidation and the "Southern fried" GOP won't trust anyone who fails to fully grasp the pick handle. On the other hand, Bloomberg would be an improvement compared to the current denizen of 1600 Pennsylvania, even if a disappointment compared to Warren & Sanders.

David Brin said...

“No, you can't make the Democrats go more progressive by threatening to withhold support otherwise unless you can convince them that going more progressive can be a net winning strategy…”

The thing here is a basic IQ test. Are leftists able to actually, actually look at what has worked for them? Or is the urge to sanctimoniously masturbate too strong?

Fact: the party has drifted a bit leftward thanks to fresh voices like AOC. How did they rise up? By using a Republican method - challenging old-line DP representatives in primaries. While the effects are not comparable… Tea Party confederate assholes used that method to take over the GOP and intimidate nearly all moderates into toeing the line of Trumpism… Dem leftists certainly have intimidated their own moderates to move leftward.

What has absolutely, definitely and 100% not happened is the masturbatory fantasy that running leftists in purple and red-industrial districts will achieve promised results. It has NOT happened. It was tried many times. I HELPED in several such campaigns and it was always a joke. It has never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, never, and never worked.

What took TERRITORY from the confeds and made Pelosi Speaker were hairbun and crewcut veterans who favor all 31 of the Desiderata - in some cases not all the way leftward - while being able to talk to middle americans.

Now I like Bernie and agree with much he says and he is a clone of my dad. But many of his supporters are thinking along the same old lines, and using his candidacy as an excuse for auto-erotic, ecstatic self-whacking while screaming “DNC! Yes! It’s DNC!!! Oh! The baaaaaaaad DNC!!!!!”

Like all porno, the plot line is lame and the fantasy has no basis in plausible reality.

But knock yerself out. Keep it up at that pace, though, and you may go blind.

David Brin said...

And one of those hairbun gals may knock out Moscow Mitch and Kelly may trash Sinema. Are you remotely capable of thinking strategically, about how to use a broad coalition? Or are you Robspierre? Because that went really well.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: centrists are in the position of saying "You must vote blue no matter who" while simultaneously saying it's understandible if Sanders can't be elected because he scares centrists. They're playing us.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: do you know of any significant political shift that occurred because dissidents asked nicely whilst assuring those in power they would support them if they said 'no'?

David Brin said...

Aaaaand nothing I say gets through. You guys keep making up fantasy reasons to think "centrists" and moderates are abusing you. It is all -- or 99% -- smoke and sanctimonious fantasy... augmented by Kremlin poisons.

By the way. People ruminating that X might be better at beating Trump than Y is not "sabotage'! It's called argument.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Doctor, you're not the problem. Nobody's doubting your sincerity, and not only is there a decent chance you're right, but most of us want you to be right. Unfortunately, the party leadership haven't done a very good job of assuring the left that we will be included. Your opinion may be valid, but you can't make guarantees on their behalf. You're not the one who is mistrusted.

David Brin said...

Sorry Zepp, I just don't think reassuring you is possible. No efforts have I seen to thwart insurgent leftists in blue distruicts like the Squad and AOC from going directly after established DP pols. If ANYTHING should be provoking such behavior, it is at that level, yet that is exactly how the party is drifting left. All I see in 'thwarting the left" is some mumbles and totally free speech by folks saying they sincerely believe a middle approach will work better. You are trying to stifle that, by screaming PERSECUTION!

It's the left aggressively using a GOP Tea Party tactic to take over blue districts, and guys like me saying "earn it, then more power to ya." Then the left howls at the other half, the crewcuts and Hairbuns actually TAKING TERRITORY from the confeds. Incapable of facing the proved, proved proved fact that such candidates take GOP territory and leftists ... do... not.

No, my man, folks like you are acting like spoiled brats, unable to take Yes! for an answer and making up persecution stories to jerk off to. Show me any major proof of a substantial and organized "DNC plot." Till you do, it's just whining make believe and splitterist slander.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

centrists are in the position of saying "You must vote blue no matter who" while simultaneously saying it's understandible if Sanders can't be elected because he scares centrists.


It's not centrists saying "Vote Blue No Matter Who". Many of them see a choice between Trump and a centrist Democrat to be a coin flip, and would rather have Trump than a leftist. My concern over Sanders is that Trump wants to run against him. Convince me that he's just pretending that and I'll be happier with Sanders as a candidate. But in any case, if he is the candidate, I'll support him in November.

It's telling of something that you guys seem to think "Vote Blue No Matter Who" is a centrist position, despite hearing actual human beings insist that while they despise Trump, they couldn't possibly bring themselves to vote for Sanders or Warren. It's telling of something as well that never-Bernie Democratic voters seem to be afraid that he'd pull a McGovern and lose in November, whereas never-Bloomberg Democrats are terrified that he'd win.


Larry: do you know of any significant political shift that occurred because dissidents asked nicely whilst assuring those in power they would support them if they said 'no'?


The analogy is flawed. The Republicans are the ones "in power" in any meaningful way. The significant political shift leftward that you want is happening as we speak, just not fast enough for your taste. Meanwhile, we have to hold onto Constitutional democracy for it to have any meaning. As corrupt as you might think they are, the Democratic Party is in favor of Constitutional democracy. The Republican Party is actively destroying it. You seem to find it a tactical mistake to telegraph which side of that fight I'm on.

Do you know of any significant political shift that occurred because revolutionaries threatened to kill themselves if those in power didn't give in to their demands? There's a reason the audience groans when the People's Front of Judea's "crack suicide squad" falls to their death going "That'll show them!" Or laughs when Clevon Little points a gun at his own head and goes, "Make one move and the n****r gets it!"

Remember the scene in Foundation and Empire where Seldon predicted the wrong crisis--a rift between the tired old Terminus government and the Independent Traders--which would have happened except that they had joined forces under the threat posed by The Mule? That's kind of where we are now in history. Absent The Mule, we could argue about overthrowing the tired old Democratic Party leadership, but none of that matters under the coming Republican dictatorship.

Larry Hart said...

Jim Wright (Stonekettle Station) revisits the Declaration of Independence:

http://www.stonekettle.com/

...
Two and half centuries ago, our forefathers sent that Declaration to the King of England and said of themselves in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

Today, the very Americans who quote the Preamble of the Declaration as justification for their unwavering support of Donald Trump are utterly and completely ignorant of the rest of that document and the actual reasons our forefathers rose up in rebellion against tyranny.

The Republicans of today fancy themselves patriots and champions of freedom, but they would not be those Minutemen who answered the call of liberty and pledged their sacred honor to each other. No, those who support this government are the same sorry sons of bitches who two centuries ago would have cheerfully knuckled under to a King solely in order to own the liberals.

They tell themselves they would gladly hang, together or separately, but that is a lie.

Instead, they are the ones pulling the rope.

Smurphs said...

Ahcuah and I might disagree on the Impeachment, but I am with him 100% on this:

"James D'Angelo also argues that committees should be closed, because lobbyists get to sit there and direct the wording of the bills to be voted on. No voice votes, no recorded votes, secret ballots, only the total result known. And that would free legislators to vote their conscience (and it would even free them from making fundraising calls all day long). "

Yes, totally transparent, open voting does have it's problems, but I want to know what is done in my name. If I elect someone to represent me, I want to make sure they are actually doing it and not something else.

"Free to vote their conscience" can also mean, free to vote how they were paid (by lobbyist or whomever), and then lie to me. How would I know?

"Free to vote their conscience" reminds me of my Libertarian friends who say if we got rid of theft taxes and onerous regulations, we would all just get along. Sounds good, but it ignores all of recorded history.

Like the Doc said, "It’s a conversation worth having." D'Angelo makes some good points, but his examples seem too cherry-picked to me. I am firmly on the side of knowing what is done in my name. At least I know when and who is screwing me.

Checks and Balances.
Trust, but verify. (Hated Reagan, but that is a great line.)

Smurphs said...

I am immensely enjoying the debates here about the Primaries and various candidates, and even learning new things. thanks to all!

For the record, I am giving my time and money Elizabeth Warren right now, but since I don't get a primary vote until the end of April, it seems likely she'll be gone by then. At which point, whoever is the Democratic nominee will get my time and money. Even if it is a dog with DNC painted on the side.

TCB, interesting link to Cal Cunningham, but the article you linked too was mostly about his opponent. Was that an editorial comment, or just the first article you found?

Larry Hart said...

If Bernie Sanders is a clone of Dr Brin's father, then Amy Klobuchar might be my mom--the family member whom no one really has a problem with...

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2020/Pres/Maps/Feb17.html#item-6

Amy Klobuchar is just starting to come into her own, and the timing may be perfect. Democrats are desperate for a candidate who can beat Donald Trump and all the other main contenders have one or more serious flaws:

* Joe Biden: Too old
* Bernie Sanders: Too old, too angry, and too far left
* Pete Buttigieg: Too young and inexperienced, for some voters gay may not be OK
* Elizabeth Warren: Too far left and too much like an old schoolmarm
* Michael Bloomberg: A billionaire in a party that hates billionaires, and may be a racist/sexist
* Tom Steyer: See Bloomberg, except sans the racism/sexism
* Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI): Too much like a Republican

Klobuchar is probably the only Democrat in the mix that nobody really dislikes and that doesn't have any serious liabilities. The news story from 2019 that she is tough on her staff is something she can use as a talking point, as in "When dealing with nasty people like Putin, you have to be tough." As a consequence of her strong debate performance in New Hampshire and third-place finish there, Democrats are starting to take a good look at her. They are also throwing money her way. She has raised $12 million since the New Hampshire debate, which is more than she raised in the entire 4th quarter of 2019. Of that amount, $2.5 million came in on the day after the New Hampshire primary. Peaking just as the voting is getting underway is every politician's dream.

Another thing that Klobuchar has going for her is that she will be tough for Trump to mock. She doesn't have any obvious characteristics that lend themselves to that, other than her being tough, which could easily backfire if she hits him for licking Putin's boots. If she wants to hit him hard, she could say: "My goal is to serve the American people, not build a big tower in Moscow." Trump might not even be able to come up with a pejorative nickname for her that sticks.

Also going for her is her track record of winning in red counties by getting Republicans to vote for her. For those Democrats whose top priority is beating Trump, that could be a selling point.
...

Darrell E said...

It might make for some fun times, or at least interesting in the Chinese proverb sense, if the RP loses its majority in the Senate leaving the DP with a majority in both houses, and Trump gets reelected.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Oh, I can take "yes" for an answer, but I do reserve the right to determine for myself when that "yes" is adequate. And it's not so much a plot as it is a proclivity; most centrists are financed by Wall Street, and it shows in their stances. Biden says he would consider a Republican running mate. Klobacher wants to attract "pro-life" voters, and there's only one way she could get the votes from those religious fruitcakes. She apparently also supports the settlements. Buttigieg named a Goldman-Sachs VP to be in charge of the policy arm of his campaign. He also has backed off on universal health care and tuition-free public colleges.
Now you can say they're all preferable to Trump, and I won't argue with that. But the DLC doesn't mind exploiting the situation to give the country and good hard shove to the corporate right,and that's not anti-Trump as much as it's Trumpism in slow motion.

reformed tourist said...

Dr. Brin -- Though I remain a faithful reader, I haven't posted here in sometime. While slightly o/t I was struck by the following and am moved to offer the following due its combined political and (tortured) sci fi aspect.

My initial reaction to viewing this https://twitter.com/VOANews/status/1228754841360621568

was that there was a disturbingly prescient antecedent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDAaTzccCik

With regard to the main topic, even with, actually enhanced by Bloomberg's emergence, is the increasing possibility (see both "538" and "Princeton" posts for data) that we are likely to see a brokered Democratic convention. As a former semi-pro political type, I don't see this as a negative outcome. The need to unify the D party and energize the Voter Turnout effort IS the real key to defeating tRump.

The punditocracies' continued reliance on the sports metaphor (you pick - horse racing, football, pro wrestling) to drive the narrative will not result in fully shaping an evident "winner" prior to the convention. The major motivations of the democratic primary voter is relatively well documented (NH is not as representative as some with varied agendas might like due the "independent" crossover option and the urging by some to have those supporting tRump vote in the D primary to advance who they'd like tRump to face in the general election. This last element makes the narrowness of Sanders' win... interesting.

Warren finally playing the Unity card is her wisest, if tardy, move. I remain in support of her, both with an eye to winning the nomination, and failing that, to be in a position (by staying in past Super Tuesday) to be able to play kingmaker re both the nominee(s) and party platform.

It all remains, as I stated above, interesting.

Zepp Jamieson said...

The Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund issued their report card on the environmental record of leading Democratic candidates, including detailed explanations of how they scored each candidate on each of four major concerns: wildlife protection, public lands, environmental justice, and climate. The list did not include Bloomberg, but did include Yang, who dropped out last week. Overall, Sanders and Warren got "A"s, Steyer a "B", and all the rest "C"s except Klobacher, who got a "D" overall and an "F" on wildlife protection. She's also an advocate for the fantasy known as "clean coal". https://centeractionfund.org/environmental-report-card/?emci=eba0abad-363e-ea11-a1cc-2818784d084f&emdi=9e53de71-3441-ea11-a1cc-2818784d084f&ceid=278853 for details.

Smurphs said...

Zepp said:
" Klobacher wants to attract "pro-life" voters, and there's only one way she could get the votes from those religious fruitcakes."

The fruitcakes, yes. But there are many people who are uneasy with the ethical/moral implications of abortion and therefore, are antiabortion. There are many people who are uneasy with the ethical/moral implications of abortion, so they support the right to choose.

They point being, reaching out and discussing the issue may not be entirely futile.

And, anecdotally, Klobacher's recent performance is making at least this one person give her a second look. Not convinced, but keeping an open mind.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: Even Trump has enough brights to understand the B'rer Patch story, so his purported "preference for Sanders" may be nothing more than misdirection. Until recently, his biggest fear was Biden, and we all know the steps he took in order to get ammo to use against Biden.
Nobody with any brains considers Trump to be politically astute; quite the opposite. But like most of his ilk, Trump can identify people he thinks he can bully and demean, and like most bullies, eventually underestimates his targets. He may think Sanders is an easy target that he can brand a commie, a Jew, and even an atheist, but he has to know he won't be able to make Sanders afraid of him.
I suspect Trump's biggest fear right now is Bloomburg, simply because Bloomburg is more like him than any of the other candidates. Whether he means to help Democrats or not, Bloomberg is providing a vital distraction at a critical time.

TCB said...

@ Smurphs, if I could, I would have posted the Cal Cunningham flyer I saw. Failing that I posted more or less the first somewhat-relevant article I could find, indeed.

The front of the flyer has his photo and the text of (the first half of) the oath he took as a service member: I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

It also says he will obey the orders of the President, but when that President and his allies and their corruption ARE the enemy... which Cunningham strongly implies in the same flyer when he says he will stand up to Trump and McConnell, and he's running against Thom Tillis.... well, say no more.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Larry: Even Trump has enough brights to understand the B'rer Patch story, so his purported "preference for Sanders" may be nothing more than misdirection. Until recently, his biggest fear was Biden, and we all know the steps he took in order to get ammo to use against Biden.


I've got enough of an open mind to consider the Bre'r Rabbit strategy, but that's not what it feels like to me. And your second sentence underscores my point. When Trump was most afraid of Biden, he didn't pretend the opposite so that Democrats would think Biden was a bad candidate and choose someone else. No, he's not that much of a tactitian. He went after Biden and tried (maybe successfully) to bring him down. If he was really afraid of Bernie, I suspect he'd do the same thing. He's doing (in fact) the opposite thing.

If Trump was really afraid of Bernie, would his supporters be rat-f***ing the primaries in order to nominate Bernie?

Trump is afraid of Bloomberg and thinks he can mop the floor with Bernie. He might be mistaken, but that does seem to be the perception of not only the man himself, but his surrogates and grass-roots supporters. To me, it's worth investigating whether they have good reason to think that way rather than simply dismissing the idea out of hand.

TCB said...

This just in: it looks like Republicans are spending money on Cunningham's primary opponent to get a weaker challenger for Tillis.

David Brin said...

Zepp, you think you are reaching out and trying to sound reasonable... and all you do is double down on sanctimonious purity testing. So you'd banish people who earnestly and sincerely thing a 5 month old fetus is a person? Or who want to reduce abortion rates and are willing to negotiate how to do it? You'd refuse their alliance in eliminating insanity, corruption and treason? Thought police.

If someone like Bill Weld could join a ticket and genuinely heal our divides and send the Putin-Fox treason into smoking ruin, you'd call even thinking that thought to be something that disqualifies? Mind you, I'd hate that and I disagree that it is remotely possible. But Purity Testing single-symbolic reasons to flounce around screaming "DNC!!!" is dismal claptrap and does Putin's work.

Your list indicts you far more than any of them.

Anonymous said...

A topic worth pursuing is voter suppression. See Greg Palast's efforts for some of the details, eg

https://www.gregpalast.com/election-crimes-bulletin-iowa-milwaukee-wisconsin-plus-huge-news-from-georgia/

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry: I'll note that Trump's moves against Biden in the Ukraine were meant to be surreptitious. I heard about the RF thing in South Carolina, but would point out that the brains hehind it might simply be advertising that in order to deprecated a Sanders win there. (This sort of stuff is the fun bit in politics, which are otherwise quite dreary.)

Doctor: I'm not engaging in "sanctimonious purity testing": I'm pressing for the best possible candidate in my opinion. And if we can't do that now, two weeks before super Tuesday, then when? And I've listed some of the stances the centrist candidates espouse, some of which betray the core values you say "every Democrat possesses." If you want to convince me I'm wrote, start with that.

Smurphs: Yes, people can have reasonable secular doubts about abortion. But to reach the stage where you want to ban women from having abortions because it's "murder" requires a religious foundation. Scratch any rabid anti-abortionist, and you'll find weird ideas about God in there soon enough.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Oh, one good point the Doctor made that I meant to address: Weld. Yes, he's a good man, one of the best amongst all Republicans. And yes, I could see my way to supporting him. And I didn't miss that he got 10% of the vote from Republicans in New Hampshire.

But he's 85 years old.

TCB said...

I lived in Massachusetts under Bill Weld and I voted for him. He is literally the only Republican I would lend my car to.

On the other hand, some pretty crazy shit would have to go down at the convention for him to win.

Larry Hart said...

reformed tourist:

My initial reaction to viewing this https://twitter.com/VOANews/status/1228754841360621568

was that there was a disturbingly prescient antecedent


It reminds me of nothing more than Circe (or however they spell it) in Game of Thrones. What I wouldn't pay to see the next scene being the High Sparrow informing Ivanka of disturbing allegations against her.

Treebeard said...

To be a leftist Democrat in America you have to be some kind of extreme masochist. You are continually told to sit down and shut up, vote for the Party and stop being a splitter and a foreign agent, while the neoliberals who own the Party proceed to sabotage anything that would actually reign in the hyper-capitalist corporate war machine and offer only superficial virtue-signalling in return. Always issues of class division and militarism are deprecated in favor of divide-and-rule identity politics that distract from more substantive issues. The mainstream media, wholly owned and operated by the neoliberal elite, does everything it can to shut you out of the conversation or vilify you for not toeing the neoliberal line. The tricks of this crowd are well known and understood by now, but maybe this time Sanders has found a way to defeat them from the left.

I like Sanders not because I think he would be easy for Trump to defeat (he wouldn’t), but because he’s challenging this nasty, mendacious and manipulative neoliberal status quo, despised by Trump deplorables and Sander supporters alike. Aversion to this status quo was the message of ‘16, which Democrats have largely ignored, focusing instead on calling Trump and his supporters an endless variety of juvenile names and blaming phantom Russkies, while looking for a way to screw Sanders again. The historically indicated and richly deserved thing is for Sanders to do to the Democratic establishment in ‘20 what Trump did to the GOP in ‘16. I mean, when the two leading contenders for your party’s nomination are an Independent and a Bush Republican, what does that tell you about your party’s popularity? Sometimes the only way to advance your cause is to defeat the saboteurs in your own ranks, which in this case aren’t the pro-Putin splitters of the neoliberals’ hallucinations, but the neolibs themselves, who took over the Party on behalf of the ruling class a long time ago. At some point you have to have some dignity, stop being used like a cheap whore and take a stand. This looks like as good a time as any. Anyway, that’s my best attempt at giving leftists some friendly advice, for what it’s worth. Fight. You have little to lose, and you may even win.

Larry Hart said...

The link TCB posted above:
https://www.politico.com/news/2020/02/17/north-carolina-democrats-fear-republican-sabotage-senate-race-115345


What seems like a generic campaign ad pitching Erica Smith, a North Carolina state senator, as “the only proven progressive” in the state’s high-profile Senate race is actually part of a multimillion dollar investment from a mysterious super PAC — the innocuously named "Faith and Power PAC" — with apparent ties to Republicans.


It's hard to tell the purity testing progessives from the rat-f***ing Republicans, isn't it?


“It’s so brazen and obvious. … They recognize that Cunningham is a strong candidate, and they’re worried about holding onto that seat,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). “When Republicans are weighing in for somebody, they’ve made the judgment that they’re worried about Cal, and they’re not worried about her.”


Exactly. When Republicans support a Democratic candidate, it's not because they find him/her acceptable. It's because they think he/she is weak enough to beat. Or they think she/he is a planted mole. I'm looking at you, Tulsi Gabbard. And yes, it is disturbing in the same way that Trump pretends to sympathy for Bernie Sanders.

The situation above is the best argument against open primaries and for smoke-filled rooms of party officials. Why should North Carolina Democrats, who know who their best candidate is, have to worry about getting him through a primary over the votes of crossover Republicans. Do employees of Coca Cola get to vote on business decisions of the Pepsi corporation? What possible argument for preventing non-citizens from voting doesn't also apply to letting the opposition party have a say in the party's nominations?

Larry Hart said...

Treebeard:

To be a leftist Democrat in America you have to be some kind of extreme masochist. You are continually told to sit down and shut up, vote for the Party and stop being a splitter and a foreign agent,...


It's a good thing then that it's so much easier to be a fiscal conservative who believes in Constitutional democracy and the rule of law. At least your party doesn't tell you what to think--like that it's not enough to acquit Benedict Donald of wrongdoing, but you have to agree that his phone call was "perfect". Oh, wait....

scidata said...

The Fearless Leader's rapidly worsening speaking ability is proving helpful to one Canadian company and their charity efforts - Sock Rocket

https://curiocity.com/vancouver/uncategorized/sales-skyrocket-for-canadian-sock-company-after-trump-fudges-a-speech

locumranch said...


(T)op Democrats should also reach out to the citizens of Utah, whose version of American Conservatism quaintly disapproves of drunkenness, lying, bribery, gambling, cheating, blackmail, treason and every other modern Fox-Republican attribute.

To those in the know, the above quote is rich in unintentional hilarity, even more so than Buttigieg's recent invocation of queer "family values" morality.

David mourns the loss of an extinct species, the gallant conservative who was so bound to an outdated moral & chivalric code that he preferred to LOSE WITH HONOUR, rather than defy the established sociopolitical rule set -- and, lose, this conservative did -- persistently, consistently & without regret.

A casualty of moral relativism, the gentlemanly conservative of yesteryear is now extinct, leaving in his stead the ersatz conservative of David's worst nightmares, the Conservative-In-Name-Only (CINO) who has nothing left to either conserve or lose.

Old Rules no longer apply to the CINO because "Freedom's just another word for nothin' left to lose (and) Nothin', don't mean nothin', if it ain't free".

Conservatism-In-Name-Only is an unrestrained reaction against everything that David values:

It cannot negotiate with the political left because it has nothing left with which to negotiate; it cannot appease the political left because it has nothing left with which to appease; it cannot surrender to the political left because it has nothing left with which to surrender; and, now liberated from this archaic rule set, the conservatism that remains can only destroy every progressive thing that the progressive values.

Role reversal is a bitch.


Best

David Brin said...

Zepp it just doesn’t work. You did not express those objections as demerits contributing or subtracting from an overall score… “gee that is a fractional blemish and it moves this otherwise acceptable democrat down two notches while still on my list of acceptable champions against the madness. If he/she is elected, we'll try to get the shred items done asap and then... in that better nation... I guess I'll have some tussles with him/her over other things.”

No, you expressed those mere statements and asides as on-off utter disqualifiers for support, even if a majority of fellow democrats choose them. That's the behavior of a dogmatist and putin-sucker.

As for the ent, well, I give 30% he’s actually sincere, if utterly crazy. Because Bernie rails at AN establishment, that makes him a folksy commonfolk hero. Even thoughTrump’s jeremiads at Wall Street and the Swamp were utter lies, as he bent the nation over to be reamed by both.

Bernie would end the lobbyist revolving door and free Congress from dependence on lobbyists and would get most of the cash out of politics… but so would every other democrat. Bernie would ban Goldman-Sachs executives and so would Warren. The others would likely go halfway, but that’s a helluva lot farther than the GOP whorehouse.

The elites Trump HAS eviscerated but that Bernie would not are the ones Treebeard himself hates most… scientists, teachers, civil servants… and since that war on all fact people is the central goal of the new Know Nothings, egged on by Kremlin propaganda, one truly has to doubt Treebeard’s sincerity.

The rest of his yammer is just paranoid gibberish, alas.

TCB said...

Fun fact: I read somewhere that, around 1975, the post-Watergate Republican Party was so flat on its ass and hard up for money that it offered to sell its headquarters building to the Democrats.

Not sure what the lesson here is.

David Brin said...

Did I say the phrase "paranoid gibberish"? Next thing I looked, I have invoked locumranch. Sigh and alack. Sorry son, it won't wash. Today's loco rebubs are not extreme versions of older conservatives. They are diametric opposites. Kremlin stooges who sabotage the US military officer corps, they have demolished all Western alliances, eage war on science, encourage gambling, divorce and domestic violence and are 100% worse than democrats when it comes to fiscal responsibility, deficits and all of that. That's 100% worse. Lying and cheating used to be no-nos. Bullying bluster was not mistaken for strength, especially when accompanied by cowardly fleeing from all manly wagers.

Those are not traits of old-decent conservatism, driven to exaggeration by the loony left. Those are traits of corrupt, insane traitors wallowing in turpitude. For all of his many hypocrisies, George F. Will is the old-kind. He helped bring this transformation into bizarro-fecal-satanic betrayal, has seen the horror and is now fighting against it.

Alas, he cannot bring himself to utter the phrase that begins salvation.

"OMG, what have I wrought?"

scidata said...

George F. Will.
Preach.
There's all that good-good baseball history too.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I'm happy for Sock Rocket, but one headline on that link caught my eye: "The first new Canadian dinosaur in 50 years was just discovered in Alberta." And here I thought they were extinct. Dinosaurs, I mean. Lots of Canadians around and new ones being minted every day.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"No, you expressed those mere statements and asides as on-off utter disqualifiers for support, even if a majority of fellow democrats choose them. "

No, I did nothing of the sort. In fact the environmental factors WERE in the form of a scorecard, one in which only one Democrat got a failing grade on any of the four areas investigated. (Trump would have gotten solid "F"s, needless to say.)

I'm telling Democrats that if they repeat the mistakes of the past and go for a tepid and inoffensive middle-of-the-roader, it will cost them in terms of voter turnout. It did in 2016, and in 2004.

David Brin said...

Argh. I keep asking for historical perspective and keep getting none.

Dig it, the parallel here is not 2016. It is 92 and 2008, when highly motivated campaigns against hated GOP monsters got the Dem base off their butts... till they immediately lapsed back into torpor, in 94 and 2010 leaving Clinton and Obama castrated.

Let's be clear. If a tsunami wave does happen this year, the oligarchy will count on John Roberts to stymie the dems until the left sinks back into torpor again, in 2022.

Let's be doubly clear... you lefties are in NO position to lecture us! Not with that history of frippy posing and summer soldiering. Your inability to ONCE respond to my missives about how we TOOK TERRITORY in 2018 and made Pelosi speaker indicates that you will keep finding excuses to do splitting, rather than exhibiting generalship... saying "we'll deply our leftist troops here WHILE deploying our moderate there!"

Your attitude is inherently splitter-loser and far more focused on hating your allies than on winning the war.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Doctor, let me see if I'm following your reasoning here. The Dems won in 1992 and 2008 because they ran charismatic and competent moderates where were able to attract the left. Two years later, in the congressional elections, leftists stayed home, and the Democrats lost their majorities. Quite aside from the fact that turnout is ALWAYS lower in off-year elections, there is the fact that in both instances, voters were frustrated at the lack of progress, and hit by huge waves of right wing propaganda, about health care in particular. So you propose to solve this by not attracting leftist voters in the first place. Granted, that will help you to avoid disappointment in 2022, so there's that.

TCB said...

@ Zepp, who writes "Quite aside from the fact that turnout is ALWAYS lower in off-year elections"

Norman Goldman, before his radio show went belly up, repeatedly insisted that we were foolishly using the wrong word (shades of Polemical Judo!) Norman said we need to call them Congressional elections, and stop thinking of them as "off year" "mid-term" or any other sort of sideshow.

Hell, I had to tell my own wife "They're ALL important elections!"

I have voted every time they'd let me near the booth since 1980.

locumranch said...


I agree with everything David just said, except what he said I said, because what I said was that the so-called conservatives of today are NOT conservatives at all but reactionaries who exist only to oppose each & every progressive reform, as stated by Newton's Third Law of Motion.

These reactionaries -- and all things Trump -- are the non-superimposable mirror image counterparts of Saul Alinsky's prototypical reformist radicals, and all of Alinsky's 'Rules' still apply.

Alinsky's Rules for Reactionaries & Radicals are as follows:

1. "Power is not only what you have but what the enemy thinks you have."
2. "Never go outside the expertise of your people."
3. "Whenever possible go outside the expertise of the enemy."
4. "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules."
5. "Ridicule is man's most potent weapon."
6. "A good tactic is one your people enjoy."
7. "A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag."
8. "Keep the pressure on."
9. "The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself."
10. "The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition."
11. "If you push a negative hard and deep enough it will break through into its counterside."
12. "The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative."
13. "Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."

Ain't role reversal a bitch?


Best

Ahcuah said...

Dr. Brin has more than once expressed his suspicions about the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Well, he (and others) will be interested in a new book coming out tomorrow, "Dark Towers: Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump and an Epic Trail of Destruction", by David Enrich. Anthony Kennedy's son, Justin Kennedy, was an investment banker at Deutsche Bank from 1998 to 2009, and was courted heavily by the Trumps. The book also says that (as we all suspected) the reason Deutsche Bank could afford to loan Trump all that money was because it was being funneled straight from Russia.

Anyways, Trump and family worked Justice Kennedy pretty hard to get him to retire. It's not clear (to me at least), how much of the reason Kennedy retired was to protect his son.

Here's an article in The Guardian with a flavor, but I suspect many of us will want to read the book: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/04/trump-family-anthony-kennedy-brett-kavanaugh-dark-towers

David Brin said...

Blogger trashed my angry response to Zepp's lying deceitful trash-dung of "So you propose to solve this by not attracting leftist voters in the first place." WHich is whining self-pity lie-spewing belied by every single thing I've said even in this comment thread.

His coward-lazy ass won't answer even one of my five challenges
https://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2019/08/five-devastating-rebuttals-to-use-with.html

If 'off-year' elections normally have low turnout, how come confeds and moderate dems DO come out and it is you rationalizing torpor snarlers who betrayed us in 94 and 2010?

I bet my HOUSE against yours, right now, that the "the lack of progress" you whine about from the 11th is entirely in your head and in fact tons got done in the 72 DAYS that Pelosi and Obama could override filibusters. How about it Zepp? Got a house you'll bet, to back up the sanctimony hot air? They were ONE senate vote away from accomplishing much more. A sane movement would have mobilized at that point instead of slinking into torpor.

You ignore everything I said about AOC and her ilk being welcome to push left-tilt in blue districts. In fact, given that you ignore everything inconvenient, I am done with you.

David Brin said...

That's the 111th Congress, not the 11th...

Zepp Jamieson said...

@TCB. Goldman makes a good point, but since the quadrennial presidential elections are ALSO Congressional election, that may create a second sort of confusion. Or am I overthinking that?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Celestial events that make you go 'hummmm':
https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiecartereurope/2020/02/14/will-betelgeuse-explode-after-unprecedented-dimming-the-giant-star-is-now-changing-shape/#1d4a2814624c

Will Betelgeuse Explode? After ‘Unprecedented’ Dimming The Giant Star Is Now Changing Shape

Zepp Jamieson said...

No Doctor, it's just that what you propose doesn't make much sense to me.
Off-year (or Congressional) elections do have lower turnouts. That's simple math. The nature of the turnout varies, depending on the issues and which party is in power, but it's pretty consistant. Only about half of Americans even know who their congressional rep is, or their district number. So it's not surprising less vote.
You'll have to refresh my memory about "lack of progress" on the 11th. The only post I see in my email queue for that date is one mocking Trump for managing to lost the Republican vote in Dixville Notch. It doesn't seem the sort of statement any sane person would want to go betting their house on.

scidata said...

Re: OpenAI (GPT-2)

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/615181/ai-openai-moonshot-elon-musk-sam-altman-greg-brockman-messy-secretive-reality/
*Sigh* whither transparency?

Transparency is a deucedly difficult virtue to maintain. Commercial success has a thousand parents, but transparency is an orphan. We can only hope that AGI is nobler.

David Brin said...

I should not answer him It does no good. He pays no attention to any points whatsoever. But again that's the 111th Congress and yes, you ignore absolutely everything at https://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2019/08/five-devastating-rebuttals-to-use-with.html

And no, the nature of the turnout does not vary. You guys flounced away sanctimoniously while Republcans kept coming to the polls.

Alfred Differ said...

Zepp,

Guys like me turn out at every election.
Every single one.

Progressive voters who don’t have no room to complain when shit happens. Voters like me do.

duncan cairncross said...

From the outside IMHO a big part of the problem is your presidential system with an elected President

The popularity competition for the top spot sucks the oxygen out of the rest of the democracy

In a Parliamentary Democracy the Executive is part of the legislature - we all vote for our MP's (your congresscritters)

I tend to think that without the presidential vote there is more attention paid to the actual MP's

David Brin said...

Duncan I lived in Britain in the 80s. Sorry my friend but I call malarkey.

Back then, I was proud that our legislators were so independent minded, arguing and negotiating more as individuals and only secondarily as disciplined party members. The notion that your parties can de-select an MP who shows some brass is stunningly awful.

Our system began collapsing with Gingrich and then Hastert applying cheats and punishments to get utter party discipline in service of dismantling the FDR social contract and the rule of law.

Ahcuah said...

Discussing D'Angelo's proposal with TCB . . .

"See the comment before that too. Close committee meetings AND USE SECRET BALLOT FOR EVERY VOTE, large or small."

and

"And ALEC can't simply hand pre-written bills to legislators and expect them to pass unchanged if ALEC's guy is not allowed in the committee room."

I'll admit, my experience was only in the Statehouse (that is, at the State level). Maybe things are sufficiently different at the Federal level. I totally agree that the money is corrupting, but I don't see how the little guy has any say in what is being proposed--when I did lobbying, the little guy could get a voice.

I remember one bill, about mid-wifing (or this that "mid-wiving"?) where a bunch of Amish were able to get provisions changed, just because a huge number showed up to a committee meeting. How does that work if committee meetings are closed? Besides, at least in Ohio, a huge amount of the "work" happens outside of committee meetings, in offices, at restaurants--is that different in Congress? If ALEC isn't allowed in the committee room, is it still allowed in the Congressional office?

The other concern I still have with the idea of closed committee meetings preventing the people with the money from buying the congresscritters: if the secret vote goes the wrong way, can't those with the money use the same tactic of the teacher who punishes everybody when they don't know who shot the spitwad?

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Dr Brin

My comment was about the presidential election sucking the oxygen out of the election

NOT about the power of the parties over their MP's - which is a different conversation


And the Party cannot remove an MP from office -
All they can do is not support him/her when it comes to re-election

Which is exactly like your system! - if a congressman offends the party then he or she can be "Primaried" - just as in the UK!

The actual "Primary Process" is not as open as the USA - the local party members are the ones that decide who to support in the election - and if Party Central interferes in that process there is usually some kickback

I don't like the "backroom selection" - but then I don't like your "Primaries" either

Anonymous said...

Every election I tell my students they need to get involved. Most are too young to vote, but that doesn't mean they can't help in other (and possibly more influential) ways. And if they can vote I tell them they should do so, even if they spoil the ballot because they can't stand any of the candidates in their riding* — and if they can't be bothered even to do that, then they don't get to complain about the new government.

What's been interesting is listening to my right-wing colleagues complain about government cutbacks that affect them personally. Somehow the connection between "reduce spending on education by xx billion" and "teacher salaries are the largest expensive in education" didn't get made — because when the new right-wing government announced policies that would eliminate their (teaching) jobs they were surprised and upset.

FWIW, I'm pretty left-wing by American standards: Sanders sounds like a Red Tory to me.


*And if that's the case**, then they need to get involved now for the next election, finding a party/candidate they can support and working to help them.

**We also discuss strategic voting, because in a multi-party first-past-the-post system it's very much a thing.

Larry Hart said...

Ok, now I don't know who to root for.

Everything I've been seeing until recently has indicated that Trump wants to run against Bernie Sanders, figuring that he's the next McGovern or Mondale, and that the Democratic leadership's aversion for Bernie comes from fear of same. Now, this morning, I'm hearing that Russian 'bots are trying to turn Democrats against Bernie.

And I have to believe that Russian 'bots are more strategically smart than Trump is.

To be clear, which I'm not sure I was in earlier arguments, I'm not against Bernie as a candidate. I voted for him in the 2016 primaries. I listened to him religiously for years when he was a regular guest on Thom Hartmann's show. My concern about Bernie is over whether he can beat Trump in November. Convince me that he can, and I'll be just as for him as any of you. And if he's the nominee, I'm voting for him anyway.

All I was saying before was that the same is true for Bloomberg or Biden or anyone else who is the anti-Trump candidate. Because the only issue I care about this year is ousting Republicans. Not because I don't care about health care or climate change or immigration or international alliances, but because with Republicans in control, nothing on those fronts will ever be accomplished.

And because I really don't believe that the choice of president--progressive or moderate or corporatist--will matter all that much in terms of those issues. What matters most is a congress which will do the right thing and a president who will sign those bills into law.

On the way into work today, I heard a story about nurses going on strike. It made me think of the untenable position that nurses or firemen or teachers are in if they really care about the people they are serving, and yet their leverage in contract negotiations is the threat to withhold services. It must be almost like pointing a gun at one's own head and going, "Don't make a move or the n****r gets it!". And that's the position it seems to me that liberal Democrats are in when threatening to withhold support for a Democratic nominee. A lose-lose, or at least the real chance of one.

locumranch said...


For many years, it was the conservative forces who stood in formation, out-in-the-open, exposed, marching to the tattoo of drums, while progressive forces employed the non-traditional tactics of Saul Alinsky's rules, crouched behind the cover of stone walls & sniping from a safe distance, but times have changed, and it is now the progressives who stand in formation, like so many gentlemanly nine pins, resplendent in their finery & rules, falling easy prey to their own guerrilla tactics.

Our fine host does not realise this, but all his condemnations of the new non-conservative CINOs have been voiced before & better by old time-y conservatives in response to the 1960-era progressive hippie rebellion, especially accusations of being "Kremlin stooges", demolishing Western alliances, waging war on science, encouraging gambling, divorce, drug use, domestic violence & sexual immorality, and "are 100% worse than the" conservatives "when it comes to fiscal responsibility, deficits and all of that", along with commentary on "Lying and cheating", "Bullying bluster" and "cowardly fleeing from all manly wagers".

Too bad, so sad, that your conservative opponents will no longer "fight like men" because they have learned better & more effective tactics from the younger progressive YOU.


Best

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred, your math is lacking. Progressives and leftists make up about 30% of the population. Libertarians only make up 2-3%. In 2016, roughly 60% of the population turned out to vote. In most non-presidential years, it's closer to 40%. So you're in a position of complaining about election results you don't like by blaming people whose votes you don't want for not voting.

Zepp Jamieson said...

And yet, Doctor, you bitterly attack your allies for supposedly not supporting your candidates. You can't have it both ways. If I saw posts like yours on, say, Facebook, I would conclude that you were a Republican operative.

jim said...

It is pretty clear that Bloomberg is in the race to stop Sanders.

Bloomberg is the candidate of the oligarchs, the globalist, the banksters, the multinational corporations and their well-paid managers / servants.

If he is able to buy the nomination of the democratic party, it will be very clear evidence that we live in an oligarchy that pretends to be a democratic republic.

David Brin said...

Duncan, our primaries were a huge reform from backroom coercive deal making. What makes the primaries awful is gerrymandering, which renders the general election moot. Hence our politicians are vulnerable only to their own party radicals in the primary, when turnout is already low and democrats can’t vote (in a republican contest, say.)

This has exacerbated radicalism in US politics, where blue-red was already district divided due to rural-urban. BTW it is happening a bit in blue districts too, explaining AOC’s success, with others, at primarying old line dems and thus swaying the party a bit leftward. It’s a much milder version of the Tea Party phenomenon, because while two of AOC’s “squad” comrades are loony jerks, even they aren’t 1% as bad as Nunes! And AOC herself is kinda (tentatively) a treasure!

The solutions:

1) my method, for all dems in gop districts to simply register Republican. Alas, no public figure has pushed it and it’s not happening.

2) California solved it with Open Primaries. simple!


locum is drinking koolaid re Saul Alinsky, utterly forgotten by Democrats and never influential, but a cult bete noir set up by Putin/Fox. Idiots.

“If he is able to buy the nomination of the democratic party, it will be very clear evidence that we live in an oligarchy that pretends to be a democratic republic.”

Fine, jim. How about if we DON’T nominate him you admit you are a flaming, subjective-bias fanatic?

Alfred Differ said...

Zepp,

You’re looking at one tree in the forest. My current affiliation is with the libertarians, but I was registered Dem until 2012. I’m a classical liberal so Dems called me a Blue Dog.

I’ll still vote Democrat when needed, but not out of allegiance to Progressive ideals. I can agree with progressives on many things, so I’m one of the easy voters for y’all to persuade. Ignore us in an off term election at your peril because we WILL still vote.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

1) my method, for all dems in gop districts to simply register Republican. Alas, no public figure has pushed it and it’s not happening.


It's a solution to a bad situation, but I have to think that it violates the spirit of what it's supposed to mean for a party to select its champion. The fact that primaries are often open to anyone who feels like voting in one--not specifically to those with the party's best interests at heart--leaves it open to the kind of rat-f***ing we are indeed seeing in North Carolina and elsewhere. What else would one expect if we allowed, say, the board of directors for Pepsico to vote on business decisions that the Coca Cola company makes? Or if the Chicago Bears were allowed to pick the starting quarterback for Green Bay. Or if non-citizens were allowed to vote in US elections.

I get that smoke-filled rooms have their own problems, but I'm not at all convinced that opening up a party decision to the public at large didn't simply trade one set of problems for another.


2) California solved it with Open Primaries. simple!


What you are describing is not what the term "Open Primary" usually means. You're talking about the so-called "Jungle Primary" in which all candidates run in one election rather than one set running as Democrats and one set running as Republicans. And while that has its own problems (7 Democrats might split the votes such that 2 Republicans end up running in the general), it is probably a step in the right direction.

I still like my own solution, though. No one else seems to agree, but I'll push it anyway: Among several candidates, if no one has 50% of the votes, the candidates themselves get to horse trade their votes among each other until one of them does hit that mark. It could work in a party primary or a general election, and it sort of does work already in a caucus setting, though not exactly.

locumranch said...


As the 'Law & Order' progressive democrat identity construct is something of an inherent contradiction, it's quite understandable that Law & Order Progressives like David have chosen to "utterly" forget everything about Saul Alinsky & their rather sordid rise to political power, since the cognitive dissonance & hypocrisy of such a memory would be otherwise overwhelming.

Luckily for David & progressives everywhere, there are many other individuals (including myself) who remember the ever so progressive and tumultuous 1970s all too well, up to & including the many acts of civil disobedience, sit-ins, protests, riots, robberies, hijackings, murders, bombings and outright acts of terror perpetrated by a law-disobedient political left.

Read all about the 'Days of Rage' and the Progressive 1970s at the website of your choosing, some links provided below:

https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/remembering-left-wing-terrorism-1970s/

https://www.cnn.com/2015/07/28/opinions/bergen-1970s-terrorism/index.html

https://www.start.umd.edu/pubs/START_IdeologicalMotivationsOfTerrorismInUS_Nov2017.pdf


That said, one would have to induce voluntary dementia to forget the essential dirty rotten LAWLESSNESS that became the very foundation of the modern progressive movement and the Left's Long March through western sociopolitical institutions in both the US & the EU, yet the residual right & the few surviving conservatives remember these years all too well.

In fact, erstwhile conservatives everywhere remember these years so well that many have us have chosen to adopt these quite successful tactics for our own -- in the pursuit of our own right-leaning agendas, of course -- and, we declare ourselves to be the TRUE RESISTANCE, even as we commence our own slouching march towards Bethlehem to be born.

Those who so utterly forget history are doomed to repeat it.


Best

A.F. Rey said...

The solutions:

1) my method, for all dems in gop districts to simply register Republican. Alas, no public figure has pushed it and it’s not happening.


Hmm. Advocating that members join the Republican party, in order to push the agenda, but in the process weakening the local Democratic party because it has fewer members. Gee, I wonder why that isn't more popular with the leadership? ;)

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred: Fair enough. I acknowledge your multifoliate and deciduous nature. [grin]

Anonymous said...

Among several candidates, if no one has 50% of the votes, the candidates themselves get to horse trade their votes among each other until one of them does hit that mark.

If you're going that route, why not go ranked ballot? You vote for the candidate(s) you support, in order of preference if more than one, with no obligation to vote for everyone running. If no one candidate has 50% of the vote, the one with the lowest number of votes is dropped and the votes recounted ignoring any votes for them. Rinse and repeat until one candidate has >50% of all still-counted ballots*.

This allows the voters to decide who they want to support of their preferred candidate doesn't win, rather than candidates trading favours. (Or, like in Alberta, running as spoiler candidates**.)


*So if you voted for Dr. Brin and one one else, if he was dropped your vote would no longer count.

**Alberta is Canada's most American province in so many ways — including that even Tea-Party Republicans don't seem that out-of-place there.

David Brin said...

"Hmm. Advocating that members join the Republican party, in order to push the agenda, but in the process weakening the local Democratic party because it has fewer members."

AFR you simply don't get it.

The sole purpose is NOT "agenda". It is to give a voter access to the only election that matters in that district and to get some say in which member of the dominant party she chooses to represent her. Think it over and come back.

I gave a try reading locum and do get insights about Bizarro World. But I think I'll give it a rest for a while.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Everyone:
IMHO, those who will not "hold their nose" and vote for whomever they consider the "lesser of two evils" (in a swing district/election) are responsible for the "greater of two evils" to be elected.(OTOH, in a very one-sided contest, your vote doesn't really matter very much.)

Our American form of government can be improved in a great number of ways, but the most we are likely to get (with much resistance) in the near future is to have states award all their electoral votes to whichever presidential candidate wins the overall popular vote in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, perhaps some means of making voting more convenient (nationwide mail-in ballot, same-day voter registration, etc.), and maybe eventually a Presidential instant-runoff.

I find it curious that we here offer suggestions for political improvement (mainly "who's good" and "who's bad"), but *I've seen little reference to papers discussing actual studies of what tends to **work/not work.

Your thoughts...

Keith "Don't Get Me Started on Major Political Reforms" Halperin



*Perhaps discussed/cited before my time here?

**Such as what system of representation is most proportional.
(HINT: it's NOT "first-past-the-post in a single-member district", as we have here at most higher-levels (federal, state) of American government.)

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

My current affiliation is with the libertarians, but I was registered Dem until 2012. I’m a classical liberal so Dems called me a Blue Dog.


Given your unusual perspective, I'd be interested to know what you think about the Bloomberg candidacy, the Bernie Sanders candidacy, and also my notion that the choice of Democrat for president may not be nearly as important as is filling the office with a non-Republican who can sign or veto legislation as appropriate.

Alfred Differ said...

Joining the major party to vote them saner in a primary doesn’t stop one from voting against them in the the general election. The minority party won’t like that because it under reports their strength, but give them a little money and they won’t feel so bad.

Alfred Differ said...

Zepp,

Heh. Fruity deciduous or nutty evergreen, I prefer a slow growth approach that doesn’t involve burning the place down for the next generation to grow.🖖🏼

Thank goodness for the progressives who make unreasonable demands though. The occasional landslide is fine by me.

Alfred Differ said...

I don’t want to have to vote for Sanders if I can help it. I especially don’t want to vote for Bloomberg if I can help it.

For the California primary, though, I will choose the libertarian ballot and write someone in. California Democrats don’t need me this time. Libertarians do.

David Brin said...

I actually overlap with Alfred, though for quirky-obsolete reasons I was too lazy to change, I'll be the one who gets to vote for Bill Weld and against Donald J. Trump.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Just remember to rake frequently. Remember, only you can prevent forest fuhrers.

David Brin said...

Zepp.... heh.

Tim H. said...

Something to think about, a Sanders platform exposed to Congress can be expected to look more like Buttigieg's when they're done with it, but should be sufficient to constrain some of the more stupidly counterproductive aspects of class war. Buttigieg's platform, after Congress has their way with it should look a lot like the status quo with self consistency and rule of law, I see it as a choice between good and better.
P.S., David, I realize I'm two time zones away and work the "Anne Rice" shift, I'm okay with waiting for moderation.

Tim H. said...

Paul Krugman, unsurprisingly, says it better than I do:
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/17/opinion/bloomberg-buttigieg-economy.html
In fairness, their unfortunate "Meme diseases" are nothing new, and they can be expected to govern consistently, which IS a step in the right direction.

TCB said...

Prediction: America may survive Trump, but if so, the presidential power to pardon does not.

TCB said...

...actually, maybe 2/3 vote of both houses of Congress should decide whether to pardon someone. Not too easy, but not impossible in cases of obvious injustice.

...if Blagojevich deserves a pardon, Don Siegelman deserves a pardon, a parade, and a statue on the National Mall.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I don’t want to have to vote for Sanders if I can help it. I especially don’t want to vote for Bloomberg if I can help it.


Assuming that you really don't want to vote for Trump if you can help it, I'm afraid that those are the most likely possibilities.

You also seemed resistant to Kloubachar. I'm afraid I'm falling prey to her charm. :)

Larry Hart said...

The snark just keeps on coming:

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2020/Pres/Maps/Feb19.html#item-1

...
The latest news on this front came Tuesday, when the administration announced that pardons or clemency had been granted to nearly a dozen white-collar criminals. The list included former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who was busted for abusing the powers of his office, former NYC police chief Bernard Kerik, who was busted for cheating on his taxes, and former "junk bond king" Michael Milken, who was busted for illegal business practices. It is unknown why Trump might have sympathized with folks who abused the powers of their elective office, cheated on their taxes, and/or engaged in unethical business practices. Perhaps some historian in the distant future will figure it out.
...


And just so y'all know, even though Blagojevich was a Democratic governor, Illinois Democrats are not enthused about this commutation. Republicans on the other hand seem to be ecstatic. Now that we know that, what do we know?

A.F. Rey said...

The sole purpose is NOT "agenda". It is to give a voter access to the only election that matters in that district and to get some say in which member of the dominant party she chooses to represent her. Think it over and come back.

Don't worry, Dr., I get it. It makes a great deal of sense.

What I was attempting to point out was that there is a reason no public figure would push it, at least no Democratic public figure. Because it basically takes people away from the party and adds it to the opposition.

While the plan would moderate Republican candidates in a district, it would also deplete the registered Democrats that district. An even smaller number of Democrats means that the Democratic leadership in the district has even less power than they did before. It means they have less clout and less prestige, not to mention what it does to their ego. :)

So no public figure will advocate to make Democrats even less powerful in a district.

Now, if the district is so lop-sided that the Democrats will never win, it makes a lot of sense to cross over for the primaries. But remember that nothing is permanent in politics. In the CA 50th district, Ammar Campa-Najjar came within 4 points of beating Duncan Hunter in the 2018 election, in a district where Hunter previously won by 27 points. Would another candidate than Ammar have come as close? Should that choice be left to only the most hard-core Democrats who don't vote in the Republican primary, which may be the most far-left members?

There is also the question of how much influence such cross-over voters would have on the Republican party. If the district is so lop-sided that the Democrat never has a chance of winning, how many Democrats would there be to cross-over?

Take the 50th district again. If 63.5 percent are Republicans and 36.5 percent are Democrats (the results of the 2016 election for the House seat), how much change would half of the Democrats have if they voted in the Republican primary? They would still be outnumbered 3.5 to 1. It would definitely move the bar, but by less than a quarter. And that's assuming there is actually an opponent in the primary to vote for. It all depends on how monolithic the Republicans are in the district.

Crossing-over does moderate the other party, but at a cost of making the Democrats in the district less powerful. And it may not make that much of a difference. And when the Democrats really need to pull together because of political opportunity (like a corrupt Republican candidate), how will the party know who to contact for support? There are some disadvantages.

And the bottom line is that the local Democratic leaders want as many followers as possible, if only to show how popular they are. After all, the Donald isn't the only egotist out there. :)

Larry Hart said...

TCB:

if Blagojevich deserves a pardon, Don Siegelman deserves a pardon, a parade, and a statue on the National Mall.


A huge Obama fan since his keynote speech in 2004, I was nevertheless incredibly disappointed that he wouldn't touch a pardon for Siegleman. His situation seemed to be what the pardon power was invented for.

It's doubly painful knowing that the only reason for not pardoning Siegleman would have been to head off the inevitable Republican criticism of partisanship. A working time machine would be useful for demonstrating to Democrats in 2009 what Republicans would do anyway, and encourage them not to try reaching across the aisle except to smack them down.

Larry Hart said...

Speaking as I just was of President Obama, I did indeed get swept away by his 2004 keynote speech and immediately think, "Wow! THIS should be our presidential candidate." Actually what I thought was more like "Too bad this guy is black, because otherwise he should be our presidential candidate." By the time he was a candidate in 2008, I was all in for Obama until he actually became the nominee, at which point I suddenly went, "Ohmigod! We nominated a black guy to run against John McCain? What were we thinking!"

My point being, I'm not the greatest judge of electability. So when I say I'm worried about Bernie being the next McGovern or Bloomberg discouraging liberals from voting, I simply mean that the negative possibilities occur to me as something to keep in mind. It doesn't mean I know for a fact that those things will be the case.

When I say I will Vote Blue No Matter Who, I'm not speaking to the DNC in particular. I'm talking to you more politically sophisticated folks and by extension to the Democratic voters in general. "I don't know enough to decide, but whoever you pick, you've got my vote."

jim said...

On a totally different topic,
Given the response to the corona virus, I am wondering why countries like Iran haven’t been pursuing bioweapons for deterrence.

Biotech tools are cheep and rapidly improving and don’t need the specialized materials like nuclear weapons do.

Why doesn’t Iran come out and say something like “if the US invades Iran we will respond with a dozen different plague weapons that will be released in the US.”

Bioweapons seem able to give small countries the ability to threaten to play, Samson in the Temple in their relationships to more powerful countries. In other words, if you push us too hard, we will bring the whole system down.

David Brin said...

Not one person has come up with a flaw in my own health care transition plan. Which is to immediately... within one month of a new Congress... instituting MEDICARE FOR ALL CHILDREN. Up to age 25, treat them the same as the other dependent and vulnerable population, those over 65.

Think. No one's "Medicare for all" plan or "Medicare for all who want it" will pass in 2021 without a godawful fight and months, even years of dickering, and complex comparisons and screams not just from insurance companies, doctors, hospitals but also from the 1.8 MILLION men and women employed by those insurance companies. Want a comparison? The wrangling over Obamacare was huge and cost the Democrats plenty of leverage, displacing every other agenda item, and that was nothing compared to the 1993 battles over Hillary Clinton's health care plan, which failed to pass and destroyed the Democratic coalition, leading to the Gingrich takeover of Congress in 94.

MEDICARE FOR ALL CHILDREN has NO disadvantages. No one will fight it! Anyone who does will face ire from all of America's parents and from employers. Children are clearly a similar category to old people, and once they are in, we'll have a National Health System except for 26-to64 folks, who can get jealous and say so.

Huge advantage #1: The bill could be written on a single piece of paper and passed before the end of February 2021.

Now add a rider to that bill. Something that will change the balance for all future negotiations: **The upper limit for Youth Medicare goes UP by two years for every year that passes without a new Health Care Law covering everyone. The lower limit for Elderly Medicare goes DOWN by two years, every year.**

In 2023 those left out are ages 28-62... then 30-60... it would mean that TIME IS ON OUR SIDE for a change. Opponents will be the ones having to hurry and make offers and adapt and compromise.

But again, the greatest advantage is speed and efficiency. MEDICARE FOR ALL CHILDREN WOULD PASS BY VOICE VOTE, by consensus, within one month of the new Congress. Moscow Mitch would not dare put up a fight. And thereupon that gives time to do all those studies and for the insurance industry to see the writing on the wall and get busy doing serious negotiations.

Seriously, can you name even one drawback to this plan? Think of the millions of young people who would get coverage in February 2021 instead of maybe - possibly - a year later in some megillah bill that expends and wastes all the Democrats' political capital?

This would let the dems get to work in March 2021 on other items from the list I give at
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2019/07/debate-special-shall-we-let-them-divide.html

And yes, if one of the dem candidates were only to utter that list aloud, she or he would leap to the top.

David Brin said...

LH, Obama was a special kind of black candidate. No, not because he was half-white and raised by WWII midwest veterans... to his credit he seldom went to that well. He wore his black heritage proudly and well.

But (1) he did not have an angry bone in his body. That made him an electable black man, because 90% of US white racists are of the lazy kind. Give them an excuse and they re-categorize. If he'd shown anger, he'd have lost...

...and it's the same trit that made him ineffective at waging memic civil war.

(2) Michele. Period.

Mayor Pete is doing pretty good at #1, He's making millions recategorize: "Oh, well, he's not one of THOSE gay guys. He's more -- well -- a guy... with a quirky side trait.

Alas, I just don't see it working that well with #2, this time. No beef with his mister. And I could be wrong. But I think Pete's young and a high cabinet post will give us a little more time.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Medicare for all Children is a good idea, but yes, some people WILL fight it. Remember these are the people who fight school lunch programmes and COLAs for retirees.

David Brin said...

The publish moderation system seems to have flaws. I pressed publish for jim's latest, but it seems to have vanished. Try again jim?

Zeppschool lunches don't go directly to every parent in America. This wouldOpposing MFAC would be political suicide.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Jim wrote: "I am wondering why countries like Iran haven’t been pursuing bioweapons for deterrence."

I can think of two reasons off the top of my head. First, the Mullahs declared bioweaponry fatwa, forbidden, an abomination. Religious edicts do carry weight there (usually for worse) but it is why, despite Netanyahu's proclamations every fortnight since 1983 that Iran is about to make a nuclear bomb, it never seems to happen. Those are fatwa, too.

Second, bioweapons are as dangerous to those making them as they are to their intended victims. Nearly every disease outbreak that comes along has a coterie of conspiracy theories about how it "got loose" from some "testing lab" but since bioweapons can't be modified to attack only specific nationalities, religions, or races, the creators "lost control." It takes a special combination of viciousness, arrogance and disregard for possible consequences to create bio-weapons in the first place.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Political suicide no longer seems to be a consideration any more. Did you see the list of people Trump pardoned and/or commuted yesterday? Some of the vilest, most hated scum in America.
So assume that Republicans who don't have children or who are rich and don't have to worry about feeding their kids would oppose MFAC for the same reason they oppose school lunches--they got theirs, jack.
As I said, it's a good idea. But if you are unprepared for determined and irrational opposition, you'll get stymied.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Dr. Brin:
https://www.vox.com/2019/4/29/18516408/medicare-for-kids
"Data for Progress, a progressive policy and opinion research outfit, found strong backing for the idea.

Asked “would you (support or oppose/oppose or support) extending universal health care to all American children by giving all Americans under the age of eighteen coverage in a government health plan modeled off of Medicare, known as ‘Medicare for Kids?’” a solid 54 percent of the public said they supported the idea, with just 27 percent opposed. Fifty-three percent of whites like the idea, and it’s overwhelmingly popular with African Americans, who support it 66 to 17."

https://www.dataforprogress.org/blog/2019/4/29/the-american-people-want-medicare-for-kids

Zepp Jamieson said...

PS: Jim's post did show up in my email, so it partially went through.

Deuxglass said...

The voter's dilemma.

https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/radical

A.F. Rey said...

And to be especially contrary today...

Remember your suggestion to call the Donald "Two Scoops?" Well, the Trumpsters may already have owned it.

https://www.etsy.com/listing/620400618/donald-trump-2020-two-scoops-two-terms

Unless, of course, that is actually satire. But would the Trumpsters actually know it was?

Deuxglass said...

jim,

Making bio-weapons isn't that easy. You need not only high-level researchers but additionally you would need a biosafety level lab. Without that you would most likely end up infecting yourself and those around you with a pathogen that kills you but sucks as a bio-weapon because it is missing necessary characteristics.

Deuxglass said...

P.S.

You might want to read the fine print on your health insurance contract. Does it cover costs due to a declared pandemic? I bet it doesn't. Even a modest pandemic would bankrupt them so they probably have an loophole somewhere.

Darrell E said...

An interesting interview of James Carville at Vox. I find myself in agreement with much of what he says.

“We’re losing our damn minds”: James Carville unloads on the Democratic Party

On DP candidates getting distracted.

"We have candidates on the debate stage talking about open borders and decriminalizing illegal immigration. They’re talking about doing away with nuclear energy and fracking. You’ve got Bernie Sanders talking about letting criminals and terrorists vote from jail cells. It doesn’t matter what you think about any of that, or if there are good arguments — talking about that is not how you win a national election. It’s not how you become a majoritarian party.

For fuck’s sake, we’ve got Trump at Davos talking about cutting Medicare and no one in the party has the sense to plaster a picture of him up there sucking up to the global elites, talking about cutting taxes for them while he’s talking about cutting Medicare back home. Jesus, this is so obvious and so easy and I don’t see any of the candidates taking advantage of it."


Couldn't agree more. The candidates are going after a smaller demographic of voters at the expense of a couple of larger demographics. And they keep ignoring the low hanging fruit. I think part of the problem is allowing the press to run the show. The debate formats suck and the journalists asking the questions seem to be more interested in shaping news stories to fit a script than anything else.

Interviewer
"A lot of threads there. First, a lot of people don’t trust the Democratic Party, don’t believe in the party, for reasons you’ve already mentioned, and so they just don’t care about that. They want change. And I guess the other thing I’d say is, 2016 scrambled our understanding of what’s possible in American politics.

Are we really sure Sanders can’t win?"


James Carville
"Who the hell knows? But here’s what I do know: Sanders might get 280 electoral votes and win the presidency and maybe we keep the House. But there’s no chance in hell we’ll ever win the Senate with Sanders at the top of the party defining it for the public. Eighteen percent of the country elects more than half of our senators. That’s the deal, fair or not.

So long as [Mitch] McConnell runs the Senate, it’s game over. There’s no chance we’ll change the courts, and nothing will happen, and he’ll just be sitting up there screaming in the microphone about the revolution.

The purpose of a political party is to acquire power. All right? Without power, nothing matters."


How the presidential candidate may affect Senate races is not something I've heard much talk about, but it is something I've considered and I tend to agree with Carville here. It seems plausible that a Sanders or Warren DP presidential nominee could indeed adversely affect a number of Senate races that might otherwise go to the DPs favor.

Darrell E said...

more from Carville . . .

Regarding the DP tacking too far left.

“The real argument here is that some people think there’s a real yearning for a left-wing revolution in this country, and if we just appeal to the people who feel that, we’ll grow and excite them and we’ll win. But there’s a word a lot of people hate that I love: politics. It means building coalitions to win elections. It means sometimes having to sit back and listen to what people think and framing your message accordingly.

That’s all I care about. Right now the most important thing is getting this career criminal who’s stealing everything that isn’t nailed down out of the White House. We can’t do anything for anyone if we don’t start there and then acquire more power.”


I agree. Building coalitions seems to be on the decline even in the DP at the moment. It isn't necessarily what the candidates like Sanders and Warren would like to do. It's how they speak of it in ways that are only attractive to a modest part of the broad coalition they need to earn votes from.

Regarding Buttigieg.

“Mayor Pete has to demonstrate over the course of a campaign that he can excite and motivate arguably the most important constituents in the Democratic Party: African Americans. These voters are a hell of a lot more important than a bunch of 25-year-olds shouting everyone down on Twitter.

. . . Falling into despair won’t help anyone, though. I mean, you can curse the darkness or you can light a candle. I’m getting a fucking welding torch. Okay?


On the first bold, completely agree. This is one of many things that I think the press is doing us a grave disservice on. They are largely the ones pushing this emphasis on pandering to the “ 25-year-olds shouting everyone down on Twitter,” apparently because it sells views, likes, clicks and what nots. Of course social media is the primary problem, but journalism has become completely enthralled to the social media universe.

On that 2nd bold . . ., love it. I'm headed over to Home Depot right after work to get me a freakin blow torch.

Larry Hart said...

Darrell E:

I tend to agree with Carville here. It seems plausible that a Sanders or Warren DP presidential nominee could indeed adversely affect a number of Senate races that might otherwise go to the DPs favor.


Also, an actual Warren or Sanders win would make one less Democratic Senator. And that might end up being more important than the presidency.

Larry Hart said...

I haven't always been a fan of James Carville, but he knows his politics, and I have to agree with everything you've posted above. Why the eff aren't we hearing more about Trump promising to cut Social Security and Medicare? Seems one of the few things some of his followers might balk at, because it would hurt them and their families personally.

Keith Halperin said...

@ Darrell E:
Why should we pay heed to what a political consultant (with a very spotty
and *questionable subsequent record https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Carville)
from the 1990's says?
I'd feel better if I heard him say something like:
"I don't like Sanders or Warren, but if they're the nominee I'll do my god-damnedest to help them beat that traitorous, crook in the White House."

-Keith



*Carville was retained by Palantir Technologies as a paid adviser in 2011, and was instrumental in bringing about Palantir’s collaboration with the New Orleans Police Department to quietly deploy predictive policing software in New Orleans.[36] [37]

https://slate.com/technology/2020/01/evil-list-tech-companies-dangerous-amazon-facebook-google-palantir.html
Palantir Technologies
Year founded: 2003
CEO: Alex Karp

What it is:
Co-founded by Peter Thiel, the Gawker-killing, Trump-boosting cyber-libertarian boogeyman, and named for a corrupted spying device from Lord of the Rings, Palantir collects and analyzes data for government agencies, hedge funds, and pharma giants—data, you may not be surprised to learn, that is not always used for good.

One evil thing:
Google pulled out of its Project Maven contract with the U.S. government in 2018 after workers argued that the artificial intelligence program could allow the Pentagon to better target drone strikes. Palantir—whose CEO has repeatedly stressed that “we’re proud that we’re working with the U.S. government“ and that lofty decisions about the limits of surveillance tech should be made on Capitol Hill, not in Silicon Valley—happily snapped up the job.

A.F. Rey said...

Why the eff aren't we hearing more about Trump promising to cut Social Security and Medicare?

I think it's because the Democratic contenders are more focused on beating each other than beating Trump right now. I'll bet that several of them have mentioned it once or twice already, but it hasn't been prominently reported, because the big news is what they say about each other, and who will win the nomination.

I hope that, once the nominee is chosen, we will hear about it a whole lot, lot more. At that point the nominee better be screaming it from the rooftops.

Larry Hart said...

Keith Halperin:

Why should we pay heed to what a political consultant (with a very spotty
and *questionable subsequent record https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Carville)
from the 1990's says?


The fact that you disapprove of the messenger doesn't make the message any less true or urgent. In this case, the message that Democrats should be advertising 'til they're blue in the face that Trump promises to cut Social Security and Medicare. Whether or not you like or trust Carville, he's right about that.

Darrell E said...

Well Keith Halperin, I don't know who Carville is, though I did recognize the face, so rather than evaluate whether I should bother thinking about anything he had to say I just went ahead and evaluated what he said.

Guess what he did say?

"And I’ve been clear about this: If Bernie is the nominee, I’ll vote for him. No question. I’ll take an ideological fanatic over a career criminal any day."

Whether you agree with the points he is trying to get across or not you may want to at least give him a fair read because he wants the same thing you do and he is trying to tell you what he thinks it will take to win.

Darrell E said...

A.F. Rey,

No doubt you are right. I think it would be better if all of the DP candidates were unfailingly supportive of each other, or at the worst ignored each other, and spent all of there time "attacking" the Trump administration and the Republican Party. That's the real target. And less divisiveness among the candidates, less among the voters. As that guy (Carville) we shouldn't listen to said the DP candidates should be building as broad a coalition as possible, not nurturing divisions.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

I’m not negative on Klobuchar. Quite the opposite. If y’all put her on the November ballot I’ll happily vote for her.

Daniel Duffy said...

Three different takes on the coronavirus adds up to one scary picture.

Half the population of China, 760 million are in lockdown. The streets of Shanghai are deserted. Factories and stories are closed. Supply chains for half the world are broken and financial activity in the world's second largest economy has ground to a halt.
https://www.fxstreet.com/analysis/half-the-population-of-china-760-million-now-locked-down-202002180111

Why such a harsh overreaction from the Chinese government? Because things could really get out of hand fast if they don't slam the door on this quickly.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/11/coronavirus-expert-warns-infection-could-reach-60-of-worlds-population

Daniel Duffy said...

(cont.)

"The coronavirus epidemic could spread to about two-thirds of the world’s population if it cannot be controlled, according to Hong Kong’s leading public health epidemiologist. His warning came after the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said recent cases of coronavirus patients who had never visited China could be the “tip of the iceberg”."

2/3 of the world's population is approximately 6 billion people. The coronavirus has a mortality rate of 2.5% - or 1 in 40 people who catch the disease die. Potential deaths are approximately 150 million people. And a vaccine will not be available for another year.

So what happens when the world's 2nd largest economy basically shuts down. Guggenheim associates has a very scary answer.

https://www.guggenheiminvestments.com/perspectives/global-cio-outlook/coronavirus-impact-on-the-global-economy

Then the economics analysis:

Even if there were a vaccine for coronavirus today, production would have to get to a scale to meet demand. We don’t just need the vaccines for the 60 thousand active cases already diagnosed, we would need enough for the expected exponential rise in the number of cases, which on the current trajectory soon will reach hundreds of thousands if not millions.

The already-terrible human impact of coronavirus clearly has the potential to become tragic, but the economic impact will be significant even if its progress can be impeded. Our estimate is that China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth for the first quarter could be slashed to -6 percent annualized from an already slow 6 percent in the fourth quarter. That could shave about 200 basis points off of global growth relative to its recent trend.

At the same time that China is being forced to shut down factories and quarantine workers, interruptions to the supply chain in the United States and Europe have yet to be felt. By most estimates, if the Chinese extend the lunar new year by two weeks it would not meaningfully impact the global supply chain, but if it went beyond two weeks then we would start to see problems for materials and consumer goods outside of China. Even if the virus does not turn into a pandemic, to think it isn’t going to impact what’s going on in the world is irrational.

The impact of all this on corporate profits and free cash flow will be dramatic. The effect on oil and energy prices could be even more extreme. Right now, excess oil production in the world is an estimated one million barrels per day, so as demand dries up from repercussions, oil could plunge to $25 a barrel unless OPEC or other producers decide to cut production.

Also, we cannot forget that the published numbers related to the coronavirus may be understated. Many experts are confident that as bad as the numbers are, the Chinese are underreporting.

Yet as a major economic problem looms on the horizon, the cognitive disconnect between current asset prices and reality feels like the market equivalent of “peace for our time.” The average BBB bond yields just 2.9 percent. A recent 10-year BB-rated healthcare bond came to market at 3.5 percent and subsequently was increased in size from $1 billion to $1.7 billion due to excess demand.



TLDR - assets are grossly overpriced and a the coronovirus is a true black swan event that could crash the whole thing.

I've done extremely well in stocks these past years but a switch to bonds is looking smart by this summer, certainly by election day.

Then after that are cash investments.

And then after that it's South Africa kruggerands

Daniel Duffy said...

Some more anecdotes:

Today's infection count, 69,261; an increase of 3.2% from yesterday. Source: https://gisanddata.maps.arcgis.com/apps/opsdashboard/index.html#/bda7594740fd40299423467b48e9ecf6.

China's Central Bank has announced it will begin treating and quarantining used bank notes in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. In the case of the worst hit provinces it'll be for two weeks, in lesser hit provinces one week.https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/news/articles/2020-02-15/china-quarantines-cash-to-sanitize-old-bank-notes-from-virus. This raises interesting logistics questions about how you would identify them to pull them out of general circulation and then how to ensure the security of them in storage. If anyone else knows, do say, I'm curious.

The owner of an American medical mask manufacturer: “What I’ve been saying since 2007 is, 'guys, I’m warning you, here’s what is going to happen, let’s prepare, because if you call me after it starts, I can’t help everybody.”. The Washington Post has run an I told you so story (https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/02/15/coronavirus-mask-shortage-texas-manufacturing/) highlighting that demand for masks is running at 10,000% and prices are 2,000% higher than normal. It also adds that Chinese manufactures are diverting some production to service domestic needs first (which is fair enough). Meanwhile, this manufacturer is getting calls and emails from governments around the world every day desperately looking for more masks.

“Thirty to 40 days after the shutdown is when you will see the shortages hit,” - industryweek.com has interviewed an expert in the automotive industry who reckons the covid-19 disruption is yet to peak. In the article (https://www.industryweek.com/supply-chain/article/21123065/coronavirus-components-troubles-have-just-begun) he says that even the factories that have reopened are not operating at 100% capacity. Apparently brakes and wire harnesses are the crucial components that may run out. Moving wire harnesses to other suppliers is easy, brakes is much harder to swap to alternative suppliers. It also reviews sales briefly - BMW and Daimler have 30% of their global sales in China, for VW it's a whopping 40%.

Zenni optical are based in California and last year made 6m eye-glasses; they even ran a superbowl ad. Now though their factory of 1,000 employees is at a standstill. So too is Tortuga backpacks' factory but the owner of it sought to diversify his supply chain due to the US China trade spats and expects an arrival from Vietnam soon. It pays to not put all your eggs in one basket people:https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/amp/From-eyeglasses-to-backpacks-Bay-Area-firms-15039696.php?__twitter_impression=true

Someone asked me yesterday what about the risks to the electronic supply chain. This economist magazine article (requires subscription, 5 free articles per month: https://amp.economist.com/international/2020/02/13/the-new-coronavirus-could-have-a-lasting-impact-on-global-supply-chains) says that having confidence in perpetual JIT is dangerous and exposes the company to unnecessary risks. Halfway through the article it talks about Wuhan being at the heart of China's "optics valley", suggesting as much as a quarter of the world's fibre optic cables and devices are made there plus one of China's most advanced chip manufacturers is there too. The economist thinks smartphone manufacturing alone will be down as much as 10% this year.

David Smelser said...

A.F. Rey & CA-50,

David Brin's advice to switch parties doesn't apply to CA-50 election because party affiliation only matters in presidential primaries in California. All other CA races that have primaries, such as federal house seats, are jungle primaries -- top two candidates go on to general election. There are currently 2 democrats, 4 republicans, and a handful of other candidates running. In terms of advertising, it appears to be a 3 way race between Campa-Najjar, DeMio, and Issa (who was chased out of CA-49 in 2018). I'm not aware of any poll numbers.

I'm a resident of CA-49, but helped Campa-Najjar in 2018.




Keith Halperin said...

@ Darrell E:
Valid point. If he's prepared to go the distance for someone he doesn't like to defeat someone he can't bear: more power to him (and to you and to us, too.)

I agree the "red shirt" is Trump. At the same time, how is one candidate supposed to differentiate themselves from (at one point 20+) others if not through legitimate differences in policy and approach? *TTBOMK, the Democratic candidates have not descended to the level of large-scale fratricidal personal attacks. ISTM acceptable to vigorously and forcefully disagree with someone's opinion or policy as long as it's kept largely civil. (We seem to more or less manage that here.) Have the disagreements at the candidate level gone past this point?

Thanks,

Keith


* Please correct me if I'm mistaken here.

David Brin said...

You guys are having a GREAT discussion down here, though today I was too swamped to take part.

But it's time for another posting... so continue down here if you like.

Otherwise...

onward

onward

Creigh Gordon said...

I'm intrigued enough by this hopefully sane right economic organization to sign up on its email list: https://www.nationalreview.com/2020/02/the-return-of-conservative-economics/