Saturday, June 20, 2020

A nasty little boy.

While tuning in to see the preening and posturing and howling in Tulsa, ask yourself: "What am I actually looking at?

Tom Nichols - author of The Death of Expertise (what I call the War on all Fact-Professions) - now zeroes in on the achilles heel of the entire Foxite cult: “Why do working-class white men—the most reliable component of Donald Trump’s base—support someone who is, by their own standards, the least masculine man ever to hold the modern presidency?”  … 

Nichols: “The question is not whether Trump fails to meet some archaic ideal of masculinity - say Marcus Aurelius or Omar Bradley. Rather, working-class white male voters don’t hold Trump to their own standards of masculinity - supporting a man who behaves more like a little boy.”

This article is devastatingly on-target, recalling the working class men Nichols grew up with, among whom “courage, honesty, respect, an economy of words, a bit of modesty, and a willingness to take responsibility are all virtues prized by… the stand-up guys, among whom I was raised. Yet, many of these same men expect none of those characteristics from Trump, who is a vain, cowardly, lying, vulgar, jabbering blowhard. …He wears bronzer, loves gold and gossip, is obsessed with his physical appearance, whines constantly, can't control his emotions, watches daytime television, enjoys parades and interior decorating, and used to sell perfume.”

“Put another way, as a question I have asked many of the men I know: Is Trump a man your father and grandfather would have respected?” 

(Nichols leaves out a manly trait that may be slightly less noble, but I call just as fundamental - a willingness to back up bold assertions with wager stakes - or at least to let factual refutation have consequences. Indeed, a desperate fear of specific refutation - e.g. via wagers - spans the entire Foxite cult.)

Nichols reaches a conclusion similar to mine. “Trump’s lack of masculinity is about maturity. He is not manly because he is not a man. He is a boy.” 

Nichols asserts that MAGAs are indulgent with him, as “working-class America’s dysfunctional son, and his supporters, male and female alike, have become the worried parent explaining what a good boy he is to terrorized teachers even while he continues to set fires in the hallway right outside.”

Do read the Nichols piece! Every paragraph is a knife into the gut of this madness and you should read enough times to memorize and use these weapons. Use them.

Mind you, it’s time to compare this to the other most-cogent diagnosis, offered by linguistic sociologist George Lakoff (author of Don't Think of An Elephant!), who gave us an underlying difference between how conservatives and liberals view government and leaders, in general. Liberals are said to seek a “nurturing parent” who will soothe the sick, uplift the oppressed and open doors of opportunity with encouragement. Conservatives seek a “Strong Father” who applies the back of his hand to enforce order, discipline and tradition. 

History shows the latter taking power nearly all the time, especially when there's an ambient level of fear... which was most of human history. Significantly, it explains why Strong Father worshippers don’t expect kindness, rationality, equality or even justice. They do admire blustering displays of macho.

At first Nichols and Lakoff seem opposite theories — whiney-vulnerable boy vs. Strong Father — in explaining the same displays of rude-crude-viciously self-centered rage. So let me offer a third metaphor that bridges them both, showing that both Lakoff and Nichols had it mostly right, just barely missing a core point.

By now you’ve all noticed it is futile to argue normally with members of the Foxite cult. MAGAs expect you to try facts and appeals to reason and logic and fairness… and every time you do that, you are feeding their contempt. You are supporting the real reason they like Trump.

In the face of every blaring sign that he is the very opposite of Lincoln or Jesus, they adore him because he enrages the people they hate most. Meaning you and me. And the war he wages - supported by Putin’s KGB, Saudi royals, Rupert Murdoch and inheritance brats - against every fact-using profession - is their lifelong campaign against nerds.

The overlap between Nichols and Lakoff is this. Donald Trump is a playground bully. The way his most-fervent supporters were, back in Junior High.  

Moreover, that points to the cure! We must do the one thing that worked back then. That thing should be obvious to many of you once-bullied nerds, and the rest of you can figure it out.

Just watch how they’ll turn on him, the very month that we stop farting around and decide to actually do that one thing. Showing how bullies lose.

== The Russians are coming... ==

Russian oligarchs have been ramping up their already generous donations to Republicans. “An example is Len Blavatnik, a dual U.S.-U.K. citizen now living in Russia again. With $20 billions he’s one of the largest donors to GOP political action committees in the 2015-16 election cycle… pumping $6.35 million into GOP political action committees, with millions of dollars going to top Republican leaders including Sens. Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham.”

Two weeks after the Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a joint statement in October 2016 that the Russian government had directed the effort to interfere in our electoral process, McConnell's PAC accepted a $1 million donation from Blavatnik's AI-Altep Holdings. The PAC took another $1 million from Blavatnik's AI-Altep Holdings on March 30, 2017, just 10 days after former FBI Director James Comey publicly testified before the House Intelligence Committee about Russia's interference in the election.”

The Cold War never ended. Putin simply dropped all the Marxist surface rhetoric and communist symbols that had failed to sucker in the U.S. Rooseveltean left. Whereupon he spun on a dime, switching surface incantations to Czarist-orthodox ‘traditionalism’ and mafia oligarchy… and voila! The American right fell all over themselves to prostrate at Vlad’s feet.

Honestly, I cannot believe this is just about money or class or other whoredoms. Too many in the GOP and periphery have committed too many outright treasons for the explanation to be anything other than … blackmail. It’s the favorite KGB tactic, going back to its predecessor, the czarist Okrahna, and continuing into the neo-czarist FSB and IRA. And it’s easily envisioned when you consider what high fraction of high Republicans have been exposed as grotesque sexual predators and child molesters.

There’s a lot more to be found in another best-seller about a mobbed-up Russian asset linked to a kleptocracy and all of these dark and horrifying people–Trump and Mogilevich and Epstein and Kushner. The whole gang is in Hiding in Plain Sightby Sarah Kendzior .  Here’s an audio interview (and transcript) in which she lays out how blatant are the Russian mob connections, not just with Trump but today’s entire GOP.

And yes, the foxite media claim to have similar mountains of evidence against the Clintons, Obama and Biden and many Democrats. There is only one difference between the two evidence piles.  

Almost every datum about Republican/Trumpist links to Putin and mobs and turpitude is true and overwhelmingly verifiable. After 25 years of “Clinton investigations” costing taxpayers half a billion dollars, we’ve learned that almost nothing on that pile is true, not even remotely. 

Sure that’s easy to claim! And so, we return to the one tactic that works… and it always works!  Demanding cash wagers over explicitly testable or falsifiable assertions. 

They always writhe and wriggle and squirm and divert! And when you push past all the smoke and demand they put-up and back their hot air with real, manly stakes?  They always… always… flee.

See how to do it in Polemical Judo.

== And finally more ammo ==

Trump golf visits and the $130 million they cost us, vs Obama’s golfings were mostly at Camp David or in DC, costing 1% as much. See Trump Golf Count. And yes, amid a pandemic. 

Evangelical reverend admits he paid 'Jane Roe' (the original ‘Roe v.Wade plaintiff) $450,000 - including handfuls of $100 bills - because she was a 'symbol anti-abortion movement could not afford to lose'. 

Okay, I am going to tune in to the rally, where Trump's desperate preening addiction flies against Putin's and Murdoch's desperately devious pragmatism. If things go very covid-badly, they may decide to find an exit strategy well before an election wrecks their tool against us, the Republican Party. And God bless the United States Secret Service.


Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

While tuning in to see the preening and posturing and howling in Tulsa, ask yourself: "What am I actually looking at?

I wouldn't tune into the speech itself, but I did watch Hal Sparks do a "Mystery Science Theater 3000" number on it. Is it really a good, strong look for a president to spend half an hour telling rambling old-man stories which purport to explain why he had trouble walking down a ramp or lifting a glass of water at West Point.

Unknown said...

Regarding the discussion Alfred and Duncan have been having in the previous thread:
Can the World Get Along Without Natural Resources?

Property, Nitzan and Bichler observe, is an act of exclusion. If I own something, that means that I have the right to exclude others from using it. It’s this exclusionary power that defines private property.

Maybe the evil bandit exists because we were measuring the wrong thing in the first place!

Chris Heinz said...

You need to rethink your strident "cash wagers" rhetoric. I've tried it a couple of times in the last few years. It doesn't work, because - who adjudicates the results of the wager? I'd say, Wikipedia, NYT, WashPost; RW idiot says, Faux News, Breitbart, Rush Blowhard. It's a good idea, but I can't make it work in the real world. If you have ever made it work, I, and I am sure others, would surely like to know the details of how.

Kal Kallevig said...

Sorry about that un claimed post regarding economics. Another quote:

Unfortunately, the real world doesn’t work like that. Income doesn’t tell us about the importance of resource flows. It never has and it never will. As long as we think that it does, we’re headed down a dangerous path. Let’s not let the delusions of neoclassical economics seal our fate. The planet deserves better.

David Brin said...

In fairness it is at least 4 years ago. Still...

David Brin said...

Chris Heinz have you ever actually read my missives on the wager approach? Because I never said you'd win the best, only have the satisfaction of seeing them flee and destroying their most precious thing - the delusion of macho. Do it in front of others and you have accomplished something, which is more than ANY other approach does.

You ask who adjudicates? Jesus man, try reading.

I have said repeatedly, to offer to make a panel of retired military officers. Your MAGA and you each pick one -- someone who is not currently a warrior in our contemporary political fanaticisms. MAGA can choose a fellow who is conservative. The two of them choose a third, with the proviso that caring about facts and evidence is paramount.

"If you're so sure, you should want MY money and eagerly escrow your stakes with a reputable attorney."

Make sure you make the bet about a list of fact-falsifiable statements. Like "the oceans are dangerously turning acidic because of human-generated carbon emissions." Or "Democrats are demonstrably better at fiscal responsibility."

Refusing to bet, when all weasel excuses are eliminated, proves playground cowardice.

David Brin said...

Criminy Chris. Tell us what else works?

Nebris said...

It's very simple. They support him because of his overt racism.

john fremont said...

That's what I found, either outright contempt or indifference

Larry Hart said...


It's very simple. They support him because of his overt racism.

Almost, but not quite that simple. He's their champion of "white grievance". Although a subset of his supporters are indeed racists and proud of it, the breadth of his support is not about hating black people, or even about thinking that blacks are inferior. It's about the fact that they know that, as white people, they currently have an unearned advantage in society, and they are desperately afraid of losing that advantage.

In extreme cases, they worry that some other subgroup will gain ascendancy and that whites will end up being treated the way blacks or American Indians are treated now, and that drives them crazy, which probably explains Obama Derangement and the associated increase in gun sales during his term. But even equal justice and equality for all threatens their exalted status, which they perceive as an assault on their identity group. Note that "white power" groups portray themselves as the same thing as the NAACP of the JDL but for white people, but there's always a crucial difference. They don't advocate for equality for their subgroup, but for setting in stone a superior legal status for themselves.

White Grievance, Christian Grievance, Male Grievance--all basically reactionary movements by privileged classes against the thing that threatens that privilege most: a serious application of the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. So as long as Trump remains a champion against equality and tolerance, they will forgive him anything else.

Zepp Jamieson said...

The Repulsa in Tulsa restored some of my faith in humanity, and left me thinking that perhaps America wasn't completely finished just yet. The Trump campaign, caught with their ludicrous prediction of one million who wanted to attend, first tried blaming it on kids on Tik-Tok and in the J-Pop community, and when they realised how ludicrous that sounded, blamed AntiFascism, BLM, and George Soros. But the damage was done. There's a photo this morning of an utterly defeated and dejected Trump walking from his chopper to the WH that pretty much tells the tale.
On a somewhat related note, the story broke today of why the head of the manned space program at NASA abruptly quit days before the first manned SpaceX launch. ( ) Turns out it wasn't because of any looming fatal flaws or the like: Loverro just got caught engaging in corrupt bidding practices with Boeing. These days, that's actually sort of a relief.

David Brin said...

If rally attendees come down with covid... did the demonstrators and KPop TikTok scammers SAVE a thousand lives? You're welcome!

But "Slow Down Testing" should be used to pry another few thousand borderline-rational conservatives out of MAGA to the Lincoln Project. Cripes.

Two Scoops is on a downward spiral. Stop assuming he's what we'll be dealing with, rather than puppetmasters Putin/Murdoch/Mercer.
Again. Watch the last 15 minutes of the movie NETWORK. We may be heading down that end game. In my "Exit Strategies" chapter I cover a lot of scenarios.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Horowitz had a header yesterday, reading "Coronavirus disappointed at low rally turnout." Given that the spread could have been exponential to the size of the crowd, an estimate of a thousand lives saved seems entirely reasonable.
There are signs the right is getting desperate. Yesterday, the Nashville Tennesseean actually ran a full page ad from some anonymous party claiming that "Islam" was going to detonate a nuclear device in Nashville sometime in July. Now, there's no shortage of crackpots who are capable of conjuring up (and paying for) such an ad, but it's a sign of the times that the right-wing paper actually RAN the ad.

David Brin said...

I've seen no comment on the change in STAGING at the rally. He always had ranks and admirers right behind him, cheering loudly. Now? No one withing spitting/coughing/aerosol distance.

scidata said...

He's not playing 3D Chess, or 2D Chess, or Checkers, or even Tic-Tac-Toe. He's sitting in the mud, in a soiled diaper, angrily banging sticks and rocks in a puddle. If depravity and sloth (6'4 & 239 lbs in his dreams maybe) have any limits, we won't see them in him.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

But "Slow Down Testing" should be used to pry another few thousand borderline-rational conservatives out of MAGA to the Lincoln Project. Cripes.

That was but one of many times he's seemed to be completely tone-deaf to the way a policy statement is going to sound when spoken out loud. A few weeks ago, it was his claiming credit for getting Russia and Saudi Arabia to get gas prices back up.

He also blamed ineffectual "Democrat" governors for not steamrolling the George Floyd protesters by inviting the listener to imagine the response if the rioters had been white. Well, we had a real-life example in Nevada just a few years back of white men actually pointing guns at law-enforcement officials, and the real-life response (as opposed to Trump's mirror-universe daydream of anti-white hysteria) was that the FBI stood down rather than risk escalating a conflict with armed white men. So what's he talking about?

I'm still amazed that he took close to a half hour telling a rambling old-man story explaining why he was too tired to walk down a ramp or lift a glass of water, and he thinks that it somehow makes him look strong.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Two Scoops is on a downward spiral. Stop assuming he's what we'll be dealing with, rather than puppetmasters Putin/Murdoch/Mercer.

At this point, we're in "stanch the bleeding" mode. We'll worry about setting the bone and curing the infections once the patient isn't in imminent danger of bleeding out.

A replacement Republican demagogue might eventually be more efficient at committing evil than Trump, but he won't immediately possess the loyalty of Trump's reality-show fans. The fact that a thoroughly disgraced and discredited Republican Party is still in danger of eking out a presidential win is mostly due to the man himself. I think it's less of an exaggeration than most of us would think to assert that Trump has Mule powers that a replacement would lack.

David Brin said...

Just remember, when you are at a baseball game, to glance at the bullpen and see if relief pitchers are warming up. Or else, if they've given up on the top race, watch for funding to flow from him to holding the senate. And to grooming for 2022.

Alfred Differ said...


It's about the fact that they know that, as white people, they currently have an unearned advantage in society, and they are desperately afraid of losing that advantage.

I almost agree, but I think you are putting too much emphasis on them thinking they have an advantage.

What I think they are thinking is actually simpler. It goes like this.

America is White.
To change that is to take something away from us.

America isn't necessarily white in the racial sense, but more in the cultural sense. By threatening to change that, we are stealing something from them. Naturally, they object.

The 'whiteness' of America isn't really a perceived advantage. It is an identity to which they are faithful. When the rest of us see America as something else, we are disloyal in their eyes... not to them, not to their advantage, but to America.

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred Differ,

I think we are "arguing" only in the sense that Asimov describes such arguments over whether the earth is spherical, oblate, or asymmetrically oblate. They're all approximations on the way to the truth.

I've sensed for some time now that support for Trump comes from grievance--not from an oppressed minority, but from an advantaged class who feels threatened at having that advantage questioned. It's too simple to say it's just racism or sexism, but it's also too inaccurate to deny that racism or sexism or religionism is not involved.

America is White.
To change that is to take something away from us
The 'whiteness' of America isn't really a perceived advantage. It is an identity to which they are faithful.

I think we're both describing the same thing from different perspectives. Or at least close to the same thing. "America is white" suggests that white people are justified in considering the country their "home", whereas others are guests and employees who live here at their sufferance. And that paradigm does confer an advantage on the ones who are considered to belong here. You might have a point that there's a certain amount of simple revulsion at the thought of "others" having equal rights in one's own "home" to oneself. But I think that along with that is a perception that "If my kind isn't sole master of the house, then I might have to work for a living like my servants do."

Some of all this might be at the gut level rather than that of conscious rational thought.

David Brin said...

And I disagree a bit. I think easily 60% of Trumpism has nothing to do with race or "whiteness" or any of that. Look at who Fox etc ACTUALLY rail against. Count how often they actually demean races etc. Compare that to attacks on fact-professions, from science and journalism to law, medicine and the Deep State.

They love DT because he enrages the university nerds they hate most.

matthew said...

My counter to our host saying that nerds are hated the most - who do the cops kill with impunity?

Not white university nerds. White university nerds may know lawyers or politicians or business leaders. They are not gunned down or choked out with the frequency that we see elsewhere.
University nerds that are a different skin pigment? Yes. Having a degree and dark skin is very little protection.
People who are not university nerds that have a different skin pigment? Yes. They are considered a threat at all times.

It's racism.

90% of the GOP / libertarian / conservative support for law and order is racism. It is not supporting the big leader or maintaining the status quo or defeating socialism. It is racism.

The last 20 years are proof of that.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I think that grievance is more of a motivating factor than anti-intellectualism. A demagogue has to convince their audience that intellectuals are part of some sort of 'elite' in order to whip up resentment. And a lot of computer and smart phone-owning 'anti-intellectuals' do it just because it annoys liberals, who are also considered 'elite.'It's an approach most effective with semi-literate morons, but you can find people who grumble about the "climate science hoax" who are engineers, authors, and even in other branches of science.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

They love DT because he enrages the university nerds they hate most.

And that's not entirely unrelated. One way that he enrages the libs is by empowering Confederates and Nazis while tormenting the powerless. So is voter suppression (for example) popular with Republicans because it enrages nerds, or because it disempowers minorities who vote Democratic? I'd say both things could be at work and reinforcing each other.

Acacia H. said...

If I were to wager odds, I'd say the Republican Party is trying desperately to ride Trump's coattails into a Presidency in 2020 and then will IMMEDIATELY declare Trump "incompetent" and put Pence into office while Trump ends up in an asylum, where he will be kept alive for at least two years. Four years later President Pence will run on his own merits. If he wins (through hook or crook), they will try to get Pence reelected in 2028 claiming he was only "acting President" in 2020 to 2022 or 2023, and thus get 12 years of Pence.

That's not to say it will work (it's a pipe-dream for the Republicans at best), but that's probably what they're hoping for.


David Brin said...

matthew we are talking past each other. Yes, minorities, LGBTQ and immigrants and genders SUFFER MORE! TGhey suffer more because they are used as pawns in culture war and are POWERLESS.

But you miss the point. While low level confederates are often racists and can be steered with such dog whistles THE POWERFUL DO NOT FEAR THE POWERLESS. Jeeez man, what could be more obvious? WHO stands in the way of the oligarchy taking full control? The ones who Fox rails against far more than blowing dog whistles.

We were ALL raised by memes of Suspicion of Authority. By diverting MAGAS' attention to hatred of nerds, the oligarchs both hobble their main adversary and fivert that attention from the age-old enemy of freedom. Oligarchy.

But what's significant here is YOUR reflex that this multilayered problem is zero-sum. That if I point out the Foxite open war against all fact professions, I am taking AWAY from the BLM movement etc. That zero sum reflex is the biggest problem of all.

David Brin said...

Acacia, when that plan seems hopeless and Trump is a liability?

Will they dare try to dump him, when millions think he is the 2nd coming?

He must be dumped in a way that blames his martyrdom on lib'ruls

scidata said...

In my experience, intelligence, culture, and even family/peer/tribe pressure are secondary. The primary determining factor of one's eventual identity is whether or not they read/watched science fiction during their formative years.

Alfred Differ said...


It is obviously prolate and I'll die defending that hill if necessary.
Heh. Okay. Got that out of my system.

I'm thinking mostly of the powerless as our host refers to them when describing the identity politics perspective for them. I have relatives in that clade. It's pretty clear they don't feel personally responsible for the harm done to minorities 'in the past' and won't tolerate changes now 'that we don't do that anymore.' It's really about changing what they perceive America to be.

Ah well. My outright racist relatives died off with my parent's generation. The current crop of cousins is a bit more nuanced. A bit. Used to drive my brother up the wall.


As for the powerful… yah. This isn't 'white' privilege. It's their privilege. We are both 'in the way' and 'actively tearing it down.'

The part of the Intelligencia enabling them is committing treason.


Yes. I used 'treason' intentionally.

On this field of battle, character assassination is an appropriate minimum punishment.

Alfred Differ said...


They are not gunned down or choked out with the frequency that we see elsewhere.

That doesn't support your argument much. Yes. Those white students may be powerful enough to get back at the police. That doesn't mean they aren't hated.

In our human hierarchies, stressed people punch down.

Those white students aren't below the police until they appear on the street throwing rocks or something. The black students are. Right? That's how they are perceived. That's what we want to change when we say their lives matter.

Who gets punched shows the SES gradient most of the time… not who is most hated.

Alfred Differ said...

He must be dumped in a way that blames his martyrdom on lib'ruls.

All he has to do at this point is keel over from a heart attack.
They'll blame us for stressing him to death.

Why any older guy wants to be President escapes me. The stress of the job (even for well liked Presidents) shaves years off their lives.

reason said...

In Nashville? Most potential islamic terrorists would have to look it in Wikipedia.

Darrell E said...

The RP lost control when Trump's campaign caught fire and started burning its way through all the other RP candidates. I think the RP leaders, by now, think Trump is about the worst thing that has ever happened to them. In trying to ride the continuously conflagrant
clown car that is the Trump administration they've played all their cards to the hilt, right out in the open and exposing themselves like never before.

I think they are desperate by now. They likely can see that there is very little chance for their RP, their personal positions, to survive this Trump era. They are desperate, and desperate people are dangerous. Especially when those desperate people have no moral qualms, let alone any commitment to the US Constitution, when it comes to maintaining their hold on power. That desperation has put the US in deadly serious danger.

Big change is coming soon. Either we survive this and quickly make many big changes while rebuilding our institutions, while the RP is gutted, perhaps destroyed, almost certainly drastically changed. Either that or the RP, using more dirty tricks than ever before, and with gleeful assistance from certain foreign powers, manages to maintain control of the federal government and we quickly devolve into a banana republic run by batshit insane ideologues and mafia like crime bosses.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

But what's significant here is YOUR reflex that this multilayered problem is zero-sum. That if I point out the Foxite open war against all fact professions, I am taking AWAY from the BLM movement etc. That zero sum reflex is the biggest problem of all.

Blacks and Jews were allies in the '60s before the right-wingers managed to drive a wedge between us. If we ever reunite as an alliance, their day is done.

Darrell E said...

I'm not sure there is much to argue about between Larry, Alfred, Dr. Brin and Matthew. All of the dynamics you've each argued for are in play, IMO. Which is more foundational compared to the others, I'm not even sure that's something that can be answered or whether it's even a reasonable question.

I think another dynamic in play here is that the harder peoples' lives are the more likely they are to believe. Whether it's religion, conspiracy theories, political propaganda or reasons for hating others. What we are seeing right now in the US is merely the latest example in human history of how susceptible populations are to Big Lie tactics over time. Steal from the people, make their lives harder and get them to believe that it's the other that is the cause of their woes. Get them to believe it so thoroughly that they actually become the base of your power even as you steal more and more from them and take away more and more of their rights. And the harder you make life for them the more susceptible they are to believing the Big Lies.

Howard Brazee said...

Trump pretends to be manly as he pretends to be a Christian.

Larry Hart said...


[Islamic terrorism] In Nashville? Most potential islamic terrorists would have to look it in Wikipedia.

That reminds me of all the 9/11 Homeland Security money that went to protect things like grain silos in Nebraska as opposed to tall buildings in Chicago or New York.

Gator said...
Another way of explaining Trump that also brings in Putin. How can "patriots" support interference from our historical enemy, and Putin specifically who is basically as anti freedom and democracy as you can get? Authoritarianism.

BTW, how did Trump allow himself to walk off to the Whitehouse looking so absolutely defeated after the rally?

jim said...

Hey Kal
Your link to the Economics from the top Down blog
is really good. The whole blog is interesting. David Brin from the year 2000 would likely have found it challenging and useful. David Brin 2020 seems to be interested in helping democrats get elected not grappling with our predicament. But others might find it interesting.

Tim Morgan over at the Surplus Energy Economics site has a good new post that is basically Surplus Energy Economics 101.
the predicament that we now find ourselves in is:
“Essentially, once trend ECoEs rise above a certain point, the average person starts getting poorer – a trend which no amount of financial tinkering can alter.” And we have passed that point for the whole world now.

Jon S. said...

Minorities, religious groups, "intelligentsia" -

If you want to boil it down to one thing, I'd use "xenophobia". The cry that unites the right seems to translate approximately as, "They ain't like us! They ain't real Americans!" Whether They are black, brown, Islamic, Jewish, highly-educated, Spanish-speaking, some combination of the above, or yet another factor I've failed to account for, They aren't like the "real Americans" - They're different. And to a xenophobe, different is bad, prima facie.

I have no simple, bumper-sticker-worthy solution to offer, sadly.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"In Nashville? Most potential islamic terrorists would have to look it in Wikipedia."

I dunno. Maybe someone told them the Mullahs declared Elvis fatwa or something...

jim said...

Let me shock David a bit by completely agreeing that much of Trump’s appeal comes from the people who hate him.

But I don’t think it is so much a hatred of nerds, smarty pants and fact using professions as it is hatred of the professional managerial class (the Karen’s managing the world). You know the jerks who pushed globalization and offshored the economic prospects for non-collage educated majority of the country. The ones who have been pushing them to work longer and harder for the same pay and fewer benefits.
(and they are also the ones managing the destruction of the living world and the declining prospects for their children.)

Obama came along in 2008 and they hoped he would change things so the wealth would be shared, they did not get that at all. So in 2016 they thought – well hell they won’t share the goods with us, let’s just share the pain with them - and they elected Trump as a giant F-You to the professional managerial class.

Hate is becoming the New Sex – the Victorians’ sexually repression ended with a sexual revolution in the 1920’s. Our current society has been very strongly repressing hatred, but it now looks like we are having our own “hatred revolution” in the 2020’s. Hate is a very powerful motivator and the taboo about using it in American politics has been broken. This is a very dangerous time.

Alfred Differ said...

money that went to protect things like grain silos

Yah. That's classic "waking up from a tuned-out state".

We get trained on the states of situational awareness every so often. The typical one for Americans is 'tuned out' because we have our attention on personal matters. The next state up with a relatively calm 'noticing the world' that doesn't involve the expectation of threats. Maybe they are out there, but probably not today. If a threat arrives and you are tuned-out, you overshoot the stage above it in your startle reaction.

Happens when people commute to work all the time. Driving is boring, so our minds wander. Oh Damn! Someone screeched to a halt in front of me. Now I make a really bad decision which causes other tuned-out drivers to chain react. Critical mass is reached and the best outcome is everyone slows to a crawl. I might escape the mess, but the people behind me might have to call a tow truck.

We are taught to think of situational awareness states in a block of five.

Tuned Out
Gentle Outward Attention
General Concern
Threat Identified

The extremes are problematic for different reasons, but we can train ourselves to deal with them somewhat.

David Brin said...

“David Brin from the year 2000 would likely have found it challenging and useful. David Brin 2020 …” I put an onus on jim to show me one topic from that era that I have betrayed. But yes, we have to crush the direct enemies trying to end our Enlightenment experiment and bring on another dark age. I’ll happily discuss theory once that is won.

Yes Jon S. Fear is the prime factor controlling the width and distance of your ‘horizons” or inclusion, of exogamy, of distrust and danger. The most fearful draw inward and can no longer include their different neighbors as fellow citizens.

It is why I wrote The Postman.

jim, you fabulate “But I don’t think it is so much a hatred of nerds, smarty pants and fact using professions as it is hatred of the professional managerial class”

BACK IT UP! On Fox and Sinclair Radio etc, it is scientists, journalists, doctors, teachers, law professionals and civil servants who are screamed at. The managerial caste is UTTERLY spared. Indeed, defended vigorously by the Foxites.

I have to wonder. Is there even one logical bone in your body, sir?

scidata said...

SpaceX has started using Boston Dynamics dogbots at Boca Chica. Looks like security, hazardous locations monitoring, and maybe even some high-risk launch operations. Woof-beep.

David Brin said...

But okay, let's look back at earlier "Brin classics." Every now and then I offer another look at some of my less-known works that some feel had value. This one explores why FEAR is the great driver of political hostility, going back to pre-industrial tribes. Fear levels affect how far we extend our 'horizons' - those we'll include within our definition of tribe, those we exclude, how far distant in geography or time or space we are willing to cast our minds, whether toward dangers or hopeful possibilities.

It has some pretty clear illustrations, too. And boy is it pertinent today.

jim said...

While it is probably true that Fox and Sinclair does not focus on the managerial class (I don’t know I don’t consume their product) you are being classist in assuming that working class folks can’t make up there own minds and form their own opinions. The lived experience of most working class folks is quite enough for them to develop hatred for the professional managerial class.

Now because you are an author you may have had limited experience with the professional managerial class. But let me assure you that almost every working class person has had to deal with a complete and total a-hole for a manager.

matthew said...

It's not "zero-sum" to point out racism as the main motivating factor in the GOP / conservative / libertarian embrace of authoritarianism. It's our reality.

Those same RASRs that our host is always praising are *also* very interested in authoritarian governance. Law and Order Republicans *are not* friends to minorities. We've seen this over and over. Seeing it played out again right now.

Those same lily-white libertarians that the Doc likes to pretend are "reachable" do NOT support a decrease in authoritarian behavior - they just want it to be privatized and not governmental. Exceptions made for the libertarian anarchists, who would abandon the legal protections that PoC have fought generations to enshrine in law. Having known many anarchists, I can guarantee that they make lousy neighbors and even worse allies.

It's not zero-sum to say that xenophobia and racism are at the root of most right-of-American-center groups. It's just a fair reading of the root of the rightwing psyche.

How to manage to teach our hostile neighbors to *not* be racist is certainly not a "zero-sum" argument. How to teach our non-minority allies how to not be racist is not a "zero-sum" argument. I would say that it's the exact opposite of zero-sum. Multicultural acceptance outperforms hostile racism. It is a win-win culturally.

You cannot solve a problem that you cannot identify.

David Brin said...

You are both jibbering-lying monsters and I have little reason to waste time making obvious refutations.

scidata said...

The "Foundation" TV series trailers have started dropping. I don't have any thoughtful opinions yet, but Jared Harris (The Expanse, son of Richard Harris (Cromwell) ) looks really good as Hari Seldon.

Larry Hart said...


David Brin 2020 seems to be interested in helping democrats get elected not grappling with our predicament

Not so much "helping democrats get elected" as "Making sure Republicans don't get elected." In most national races, the only way to achieve the latter is to do the former. If it were possible to elect my cat to public office, I'd rather do that than let a Republican have the seat.

Make no mistake, keeping Republicans out of power is grappling with our predicament. Or more accurately, it's a prerequisite grappling with out predicament. I can see how you'd think Democratic victories are not a sufficient condition, but they are a necessary condition.

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

The cry that unites the right seems to translate approximately as, "They ain't like us! They ain't real Americans!" Whether They are black, brown, Islamic, Jewish,...

The ones I really don't get are the Jews who support Trump, thinking they're be part of his base's in-crowd. Many, like Sheldon Adelson, are older than I am, and so should remember how precarious a position Jews are in an autocracy. Democracy, equality, and justice for all are the only things that keep us safe.

Larry Hart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

In Nashville? Most potential islamic terrorists would have to look it in Wikipedia."

I dunno. Maybe someone told them the Mullahs declared Elvis fatwa or something...

If so, then the idiot terrorists would be looking in the wrong Tennessee city.

Larry Hart said...


But I don’t think it is so much a hatred of nerds, smarty pants and fact using professions as it is hatred of the professional managerial class (the Karen’s managing the world). You know the jerks who pushed globalization and offshored the economic prospects for non-collage educated majority of the country. The ones who have been pushing them to work longer and harder for the same pay and fewer benefits.

You're talking about the Republicans who those non-college educated majority routinely vote for. If they want a change, then Bubba, heal thyself!

Larry Hart said...


you are being classist in assuming that working class folks can’t make up there own minds and form their own opinions

No, actually, when I do that, I'm drawing conclusions from observed facts, and not letting political correctness cloud my judgement. When people tell you up front who and what they are, believe them.

matthew said...

Dr. Brin, (or anyone else), point to the lie in my statements. Point to any lie. I'll wait.

Seriously, you call me a liar, you don't get to make that statement and then say you're too busy to refute. "Monster" is in the eye of the beholder, but "liar" is a specific charge that demands evidence.

You don't like my point regarding racism being the heart of American conservatism. OK.
That does not make me a "gibbering, lying monster."

It makes me someone that you disagree with on a observable, political level.
I see racism as the heart of the conservative experience. I believe you have said "fear" was the heart of the conservative experience. Honestly, where is the big difference between the two? Fear begets racism, and racism begets fear.

David Brin said...

"You cannot solve a problem that you cannot identify."

You fucking bastard. You do not get to hurl your zero-sum garbage at me, cramming words and meanings down my throat. It never, ever occurs to you that maybe, just maybe, when you are called "zero sum" you might actually look and see if it is true? Your assumption that I must be racist because I deem the powerful men behind the oligarchic putsch to have other enemies they worry more about that the poowerless is a psychological artifact of your own, sick mind, that has absolutely no pertinence to my own.

My dad marched with MLK. I went to an all black high school. I have done more for justice in any month than you will look back upon having done across a long, useless-lazy zero-sum existence.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Your assumption that I must be racist...

If someone said that, or even implied it, I can't find it here.

matthew said...

When the fuck did I ever call you racist?
I called the heart of American Right-wing politics racist. When did you take on that mantle?!

I told no lie, I certainly *never* called you racist. You're fighting shadows of your own mind here that have no bearing on my words.

David Brin said...

And yes, count the number of minutes in any day that Fox heads inveigh against minorities and races vs. the number of minutes they demean jounralism, science, teaching, medicine, law and civil servants. Come on matthew, ante up for a wager!

Larry Hart said...

It's not just me...

The people protesting want justice and equality, an end to racism and a dawning of a new egalitarianism. For a white supremacist, that is heretical. Trump and his supporters see the protests as a crisis, a form of chaos that threatens the order.

Trump said in the Rose Garden, “Americans want law and order, they demand law and order. They may not say it, they may not be talking about it, but that’s what they want. Some of them don’t even know that’s what they want but that’s what they want.”

That America he is talking to is white America, his portion of it, and he is signaling that “law and order” is the only way to ensure the continuity of their control.

David Brin said...

"You cannot solve a problem that you cannot identify. " Oh but you are so woke as to proclaim I cannot identify racism. Dig it. You are a poster-boy for zero sum. Your implications were deliberately offensive and I don't give a damn about your protestations of innocence. And I'll not answer you again, unless you put up cash money for wagers on which clades get attacked more by Fox.

Tony Fisk said...

Here's something light for the discussion on allies and horizons, in case you haven't already seen <a href="" title="Imagine Batman coming to the aid of Marvel Superheroes!!??> this good thing</a>

Alfred Differ said...


When someone explodes like that, it is often the very last thing you said that (of course) makes perfect sense to you in the context you imagine you communicated just above it. Doesn't always work though. In your case, it is probably the use of the dangerous second person pronoun.

Imagine the difference between...

"You cannot solve a problem that you cannot identify."


"One cannot solve a problem that one cannot identify."


On top of that, you are coming off sounding like you know better what racism is than the rest of us. Is that intentional? If so, I'll just smirk.

Tony Fisk said...

Another little snippet. I was surprised, and delighted, to hear that Lightsail-2 is still operational after a year in orbit. Planetary Society have just announced an extended mission.

LS2 will eventually burn up but, for now, it has been able to generate just enough thrust to counter atmospheric drag for at least part of its orbit.

Jon S. said...

When talking about alliances in this environment, I think Howard Tayler hit it on the head in "Schlock Mercenary", with Maxim 29:

The enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy. No more, no less.

So long as they share the goal of destroying our common foe, they don't have to be our friends, they don't have to be anything like us - they just have to be better than the alternative.

Quit sweating over the "no good Republicans" thing, whose accuracy is unimportant for the moment - let the ones who want to get rid of Trump join us in taking him down. We can take them to task for their own shortcomings later.

Joe Walsh (the politician and pundit, not the guitarist) is certainly no friend of mine - but he's come to realize that for the good of the Republic, Trumpism must be ended. I'll work alongside him toward that goal, at no time forgetting that the moment the job is done, we're back on opposite sides.

Tony Fisk said...

Hmm, that's interesting. Blogger usually catches syntactical html bloopers.

The link is fairly obvious but, OK, take 2:

Here's something light for the discussion on allies and horizons, in case you haven't already seen this good thing

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

Quit sweating over the "no good Republicans" thing, whose accuracy is unimportant for the moment

Well, when I use that phrase, it's an exasperated, cynical one reeking of my own despair that the ones who seem to know good from bad end up defacto supporting Trump anyway, even if holding their nose to do so.

As an analogy, think of the NFL which vilified and blacklisted Colin Kaeprenick for a peaceful protest, and now three years later says they're ok with their players peacefully protesting, but still blacklists the guy. That's how I tend to view those Republicans who express disgust or dismay with Trump but do nothing to stop him or to make clear that opposition to Trump is more than just left-wing propoganda.

Joe Walsh does go a little further than that, but I perceive him in the same category as Glenn Beck--"I'm sorry about the damage to the body politic that I helped cause. Who could have known people would take my wild rantings seriously?".

The only prominent Republican I see actually trying to oppose Trumpism and who (as far as I know) didn't help it come into being in the first place) is George Conway.

Tacitus said...

What an unpleasant conversational thread. Darn near unreadable. Do I need to come in and say some vaguely conservative things so you can all pounce on me and leave matthew alone?

Honestly, matthew and I agree on very little politically but he is sincere and does not deserve this kind of abuse.

I think conservatives are better at getting along with each other than progressives are. Something about the need for continual progress just makes tossing those Mensheviks into the Dust Pan of History seem so necessary.


David Brin said...

Interesting perspective Pac2 and worth contemplating.

But then, you weren't accused of shrugging off or ignoring racism, as I was when I pointed out the the masters of the powerful rightist putsch have other enemies they worry about more than the suffering powerless. (And I offered fair wagers over measurable metrics on Fox News.) We are capable (there's that positive sum thinking again) of maintaining in our minds the thought that maybe the enemy is fighting us on two or more fronts.

Your chiding is understood. And it, too, is myopic. matthew will go off elsewhere and report to other communities about David Brin's borderline racism, or his belittling of the vital importance of the fight against racism. You doubt he'll do that? Seriously? Those nasty, backbiting stabbings spread and spread.

GOSSIP is one of the great evils of our (or any) era, that has not yet had its Stonewall moment. And I have been victimized by vicious, backbiting, lying-gossip so often that I must STOMP on such slander whenever I see it.

Acacia H. said...

Sincerity is never an excuse for actions and statements that denigrate others. After all, racists are often quite sincere in their beliefs and views. In fact, they are openly honest about these views. Does that make a racist a good person who is worth listening to just because they are sincere?

I feel that Dr. Brin is overreacting just a little. But Matthew hasn't pulled back from his comments either or tried to explain without being irate in response to Dr. Brin, and in fact his statements sincerely accused Dr. Brin of things, which to be sincere in return, is not the best way to carry on a civil conversation and will honestly cause anyone but a wallflower to get their hackles up in return.

I understand, Pachydermis2, you are hoping that the thread will shift in tone. But there are other ways to do that, and commenting on "sincerity" does not bode well for me because I've known of some quite sincere homophobes and transphobes who honestly believe the LGBTQ community are damned and going to hell and that only by doing everything possible to turn "those folk" cishet once more so they can "be in God's good graces."

In the meantime, here is something shiny and distracting. Foundation has a trailer. And I suspect Dr. Brin is secretly geeking out (as am I) because he's written Foundation series stories in the past and no doubt would do so again if given the chance.


Larry Hart said...


I think conservatives are better at getting along with each other than progressives are.

That's only because conservatives are more restrictive as to who counts as "each other". And they absolutely suck at getting along with anyone else. Conservatives get along with each other because of the No True Scotsman thing--anyone who doesn't get along isn't a true conservative.

Tacitus said...


With respect, that is not my experience at all.


Gator said...

Seems matthew and Dr. Brin have rediscovered intersectionality.
Yes, rich people run the republican party and are threatening to bring the country back to feudalism. This seems to be a key goal of the republican party - witness the tax cut, bailout, and deregulation activities that are aimed at making the rich richer and everyone else poorer.

But how would one go about convincing people to vote for this scheme? That's all the cultural trappings and wedge issues that republicans have adopted in place of sound policy. Racism, flag hugging, anti-abortion, pro gun, anti-ivory tower. In my opinion these are just means to an end considered from the oligarch point of view, even if they work exactly because the are core to the motivation and identity of many republican voters. Fox News can promote some of these things openly, everything but the overt racism. They can spin things though: confederate monuments are "heritage", lots of "fine people" at that nazi march. Trump can be more direct on that front: This was a remarkably overt appeal to Nazism that usually stays behind the scenes on 4chan and stormfront. But this is a milestone demonstrating that Trump is mainstreaming racism in modern America.

And this is on top of the entire American structure of racism that has existed since the founding of the country. It didn't go away after the civil war, it just institutionalized in new ways. Arguing about Fox News doesn't change that, it completely misses the point of the racist reality of America.

I don't think anyone here thinks Dr. Brin is a racist. But I don't think matthew is a "lying, gibbering monster" either. They seem to be approaching America from different sets of experience and different sides of the spectrum. Approaching the problem from different angles provides different attack surfaces for defeating the republicans. Some Americans may vote against Trump because he is incompetent; some because he promotes anti-reality, anti-intellectual positions; some because he is openly racist. There is no one America, there is no one uniform population of "voters". Shouldn't all of these approaches be part of judo as well?

David Brin said...

Gator, you say good things. But the difference is not between one person who sees confederate racism as the problem and the other who sees only oligarchs attacking the nerds who stand in their way. No, I repeatedly denounced forcing upon us that zero-sum choice! Demanding we wear blinkers and choose between zones while the enemy is attacking across a broad front.

It's an almost perfect example of a splitter meme, aimed at demolishing our coalition... and incidentally at creating a basis for gossip-slandering me.

Anti-racism is a given - a top priority to which I have devoted plenty of energy across my life. Likely more effectively in any month than the lifetime of someone implying that I'm tepid in that cause. But as a positive-sum person, I don't think it diminishes my anti-racism fervor one bit to point out that racist dog whistles that the right blows, for its ground troops, are NOT the core agenda of the powerful oligarchs who control the right and its dog whistlers. My talk about the War on Nerds and Fact People was ADDITIVE not SUBTRACTIVE.

But zero-sum minds cannot think that way. It's not even remotely ponderable. If you don't riase an outstretched hand and recite the party-line chant exactly as prescribed, you are an enemy of the People. I have already been subjected to ripple waves of gossip elsewhere that made of me a fascist for agreeing with righteous slogans but adding "Yes, AND..."

Hell yes, such folks are monsters.
Just because they are on our side doesn't make their splitter hypocrisy and utter nastiness toward allies and litmus testing any less monstrous.

Darrell E said...

Gator, I think I agree with every point you made. And said it all pretty well too. In particular I think your 2nd & 3rd paragraphs are well articulated and accurate.

Acacia H. said...

And I'm being drawn into this again.

Pachydermis2, I used to have a conservative friend. We were friends for just about 30 years. But as we both got older, I noticed a pattern in our... spirited discussions. If politics came up we inevitably were on opposing sides and he would get angry because I never altered my viewpoint and gave him the victory. In fact, I'd be quite assertive in my viewpoint. Finally his second wife laid down the law. No more talking politics.

He would still bring up (local) politics. I tried to play nice and just agree with him on most things but his wife STILL brought down the ban hammer on those conversations. But the thing is, my former friend had "grown away" from me as we got older and at the end our friendship was on inertia only. In fact, despite the fact he has no other friends that he ever told me about and he basically is a caretaker for his older parents for a job, he had decided to end our friendship but that decision went on a pause after I came out as a transwoman and he felt it would look bad. I was on double secret probation.

Finally I spoke out against him (stating that he'd humiliated his wife when forcing her to call and end her platonic friendship with my flatmate) when he tried controlling his second wife's life and her friendship with my flatmate. He demanded that I write out my viewpoint via e-mail. I agreed and did so without calling him names or anything else. He never responded. He blocked my e-mail addresses, blocked my phone, and I ceased to exist for him.

This is how conservatives work. If you disagree on something important with them, THEY LOCK YOU OUT. The Republican Party is shrinking more and more and more because if you do not fit a specific criteria then you are not a true Scotsman. This is the same Republican Party that only accepts minorities if those minorities kowtow and act properly subservient, on the second-lowest tier (the lowest tier being non-Republicans).

Eventually, without fail, Republicans will lock out people who oppose them and provide factual logical reasons behind their views. Republicans don't like reality because of its liberal bias. They hate facts because they think they were manipulated to show that Republicans are wrong. They like to pretend they're smarter than everyone else but in fact are only truly gifted in deluding themselves. And if you show me a Republican who hasn't done that, then that is a Republican who either has not yet been cast out of the party for not being a True Scotsman, or who will eventually lock out everyone else as Other.

Acacia, who is most definitely not a Democrat and isn't exactly liberal, but sure as Hades isn't a Republican or that branch of conservative

scidata said...

Darrell E: I think your 2nd & 3rd paragraphs are well articulated

Hear, hear. I'm still bummed at my grade school English teacher who scolded me about beginning sentences with 'But' or 'And'. She's not the boss of me.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

I don't think it diminishes my anti-racism fervor one bit to point out that racist dog whistles that the right blows, for its ground troops, are NOT the core agenda of the powerful oligarchs who control the right and its dog whistlers

You and I have argued about this as well, but when I say that the Republicans will accept betrayal of any of their supposed principles in the name of White Grievance, I'm talking about their voters, not necessarily about the agenda of the oligarchs.

scidata said...

A dogbot sniffs SN7 after test damage

TCB said...

Dr. Brin, was this your idea? Did you finally get some congressperson to listen? Because I have suspected for a while that your secret strategy for forcing White House compliance with subpoenas was something a lot like this.

TCB said...

By the way, on the topic of William Barr, do read this thread by Seth Abramson. Abramson begins by saying:

My book doesn't come out until later in the summer, but I'm going to tell you now one thing that you'll find in it: all of the reporting indicates that Barr is involved in the dubious funding of the Trump 2020 campaign by foreign sources. This is all a lot worse than you realize.


PS3/ Here's the very simplest way to understand it: Berman's SDNY is investigating a man who says Barr is a co-conspirator with Trump and Giuliani in laundering foreign money for the 2020 election. SDNY has the power to cut a deal with this man. Now Barr is trying to fire Berman.

PS4/ If you knew *nothing else* beyond what I just said, you'd see that even the fact that Barr is willing to fire Berman means Barr is willing to create the appearance that he's trying to scuttle a probe that incriminates him. How desperate must Barr be to allow that appearance?

Literal criminals at the top of the legal pyramid. Did you hear that Barr wants to know what you're reading online?

"Congress is currently considering a vast expansion of the Justice Department’s power over online platforms and the people who use them. Should these measures pass, Americans’ web-searching and browsing histories could be collected by the FBI without a warrant."

Elites looking down, not wanting you to look up. And I guarantee you, three months' worth of your web history would be more than enough to put you on the list of the regime's friends... or its list of enemies to be rounded up. In Turkey after the "coup attempt" against Erdogan, 100,000 were detained and over 47,000 arrested on specific charges. (FYI I believe the coup attempt was an Erdogan false flag, a Gleiwitz. And I think Barr and Trump would use the same play.)

David Brin said...

While I am glad to see Rep. Nadler playing hardball with these traitors, no, this is not the semi-secret method that I have recommended to Congressional aides for getting all the subpoenaed documents. No, my method is entirely different and would not work on top political hatchetmen like Barr. It is directed elsewhere. And yes, it would likely win Nadler and Schiff etc every document they want, swiftly.

matthew said...

Alright, my 24 hour timeout to cool down is over.

First, Alfred has the advice I was needing - "One cannot solve a problem that one cannot identify" versus "You cannot solve a problem that you cannot identify." Thank you for the advice, Alfred. I appreciate it. I will chose words more carefully. Your wording would have helped me.

Second, I've argued that class, not racism, was the defining challenge of our time, here, in the last year. What changed to change my mind? The last two months of our lives happened. I got new (to me) evidence and it has changed my mind. That's allowed, right?

Third, I don't go gossip about stuff that goes on here. I might encourage folks to come here, but I have *never* discouraged anyone from coming here. Even when I have an issue with our host or our community, I don't go diss on either. While I'm pseudo-cloaked here by virtue of my common screen name, our host certainly knows who I am as we've communicated via email within the last two months. Dr. Brin, go check if I say shit about you before spreading your own gossip to your followers about me. Don't have time to check yourself? Find someone that you can trust with my identity and have them check me out on social media or wherever. I understand that you might be reluctant to believe my protestations, but you have the ability to check it out before you publicly accuse me of some sort of set up or vindictive behavior to your followers.

Forth, if Dr. Brin still wants a wager on hatred of nerds versus racism in mainstream conservatism, I'm down, with some caveats. Prize? Say $100 to a charity of the winners choice. Judges? Hm, that's a hard one. How about you pick a judge, I'll pick a judge and we crowdsource a third? Open for negotiation on this but finding an impartial judge(s) to listen for racist dogwhistles / nerd bashing will be difficult. Time frame? I would insist that we have a few windows where we agree to record Fox and view in the time window. We have to take the "news" of the day into consideration. If riots are the big news Fox is pushing, I would win in a landslide. If COVID were the big news, I suspect our host would win big as well. We need to sample more than just one little slice of time.

Fifth. I understand that our host and I believe that I said different things. Plenty of commenters here have responded with their interpretation of what was said. I saw no one that claimed I was lying, and no one that claims that I called you a racist.

Regarding the name-calling? I have a thick skin to being called names like "bastard" or even "gibbering monster," so those do not bother me.

But, Dr. Brin, I still object most strenuously to being called a liar. I have never called you a racist, either.

I made a clumsy comment at the bottom of a post. You did not try to re-phrase. You did not ask for clarity as to what I meant. You immediately attacked my honesty and later insinuated that I was up to some sort of gotcha moment. Whatever, indignation-junkie.

duncan cairncross said...

From an outside POV -
If Congress "zero out" Bar's Budget does that not mean that his staffers don't get paid
And all investigations stop?
Bar will be able to rely on his rich Donors to keep his personal money coming but he will have an amazing excuse for stopping any investigations

David Brin said...

Not one word about the zero-sum vs. Postive sum aspect of it all, which was the core of every single thing I said (barring the toxic angry cussing... which, with gritted teeth because I think it was deserved, I withdraw with a (teeth grinding) apology.)

While I am relieved that matthew will not gossip, his inability to even remotely come to grips with the very TOPIC of our disagreement proves the zero-sum mentality, and yes, that is the mentality underlying gossip.

And damned straight, the fact that I raise "yes, and..." remarks that the powerful are probably more interested in neutralizing other opposing powers than they are personally invested in racism, abortion and other dog whistles except to rile their confederate MAGAs has resulted in horrible gossip spread aboutg me.

And note he says nothing at all to challenge my assertion that I have fought bad things like racism VASTLY harder and more effectively than he ever has. Just change the subject fellah.

$100 doesn't remotely tempt me to waste the time. Yes, it was cogently stated -- one thing was -- that the news cycle will vary the share of Foxite agitprop that is aimed at race-baiting vrsus attacks on nerd castes. But sure. Pick ANY week, even ones where "looters and rioters" the weekly theme. I'll bet university types are still the central antagonists.

And I meant to limit myself to two sentences. Congratulations, you found buttons to press. Oh, the good it did.

David Brin said...

I don't know if I copied this FB posting of mine here:

A NYT article makes a powerfully important point, while entirely misreading its meaning! “In 2018, not a single candidate endorsed by a progressive group like Our Revolution or Justice Democrats won a swing House district. More moderate Democrats, on the other hand, flipped dozens of districts. In 2020, the more liberal presidential candidates lost the nomination to Joe Biden. ‘But the left flank of the party has had success in one kind of federal race — primaries in safely Democratic House districts —

--and there is one such high-profile election today… The incumbent this time is Eliot Engel, who is 73 and has been in Congress since 1989. The Times calls Engel “a faithful practitioner of old-school Washington politics, rising in committee ranks and bringing home perks for his diverse and overwhelmingly Democratic district… The challenger is Jamaal Bowman, 44, who grew up in public housing and became the founding principal of a Bronx middle school.’

Where this informative article collapses in dishonesty is portraying this primary tactic as BAD, in any way at all! Or in any way a "war."

We got the brilliant AOC - and her less-brilliant squadmates - by exactly this process and it is how the moderate left (and even the radical left) WILL reshape politics and rise in influence and prominence. Thing is, though, that AOC herself is smart enough to see the other half of this process. That ONLY candidates who are reassuring to swing district voters will win in those red and purple zones... 2018 ABSOLUTELY PROVED THAT. And those swing victories are the most important ones!

If you are falling for this "war" talk between left-liberals and moderate liberals then you are buying Kremlin agitprop. And you really, really need to read my challenges to splitters found here. Refute even one of the challenges. One, go ahead. Even one.

Jon S. said...

PachyTim, you state that it hasn't been your experience that conservatives engage in No True Scotsman for those who disagree with them.

Then who, my friend, coined the term RINO?

Tony Fisk said...

Speaking of AOC, I gather she's just been returned in a landslide.

Alfred Differ said...

Heh. Okay!

Since a small bet was tossed about and apparently rejected, I'll offer one point. If it involves watching Fox to find the ratio of vitriol directed at various groups, I don't want to be involved in deciding who wins. I'd have to watch to collect the evidence. My dentist would have serious concerns when I showed up with so much damage to his fine work fixing up my big molars. These crowns are expensive, so... No Thanks. 8)

As for the way gossip spreads, I'll offer one more observation. Our host's apparent PTSD regarding gossip involving him isn't unearned. It's a small world. If I had not met him directly at a conference, there still wouldn't be many degrees of separation between us. Maybe two at the most. Probably just one, though. I go out of my way to avoid the whiff of second-hand gossip... but even I've heard stuff with his name attached from people who really couldn't know it directly. It REALLY IS a small world and that stuff spreads like plague.

This is a big part of why I think it is an act of courage to use our real names here and elsewhere online.

Phaedrusnailfile said...

Reading over some of the recent comments i find my self thinking of one of Peter Fonda's later movies. He is riding with one of the bad guys in a car a thanks him for teaching him a valuable lesson. If i remember correctly he thanks the man for reminding him that there is all kinds of weakness in this world and that not all of it is evil.
I always had thought of racism to be evil and taught to children by evil people and vowed never to do so with my own child. When she was around 3 we lived in a large apartment complex that had a large population of families from Pakistan that worked in the local tech industry. I would take her to the sandbox and the pool and she would play with the other kids and everything went great. The kids would share toys laugh and play and there was never any issue. One particular weekend there was a quite a bit larger gathering with lots more parents and kids. The kids started playing a game where there was a soccer ball and the kids in mass would chase it about trying to kick it. I looked down for a moment to give some dazzling brillant wisdom to the internet on my phone only to be brought back to present circumstance by a strange noise of joy and terror from my little girl. It seems the ball had been forgotten and the group of children was chasing my child away from the game. I ran and scooped her up and brought her back to play at the sandbox.
It was only later that i realized i had just witnessed a form of racism that was not taught to the children by anyone nor were any of the participants aware they were engaging in behaviour that others might deem as racist in any way. It took time for me to register the fact that it was a sort of benign subconscious ingroup preference that i was witnessing rather than something insedious.

Ever since then i feel like i have better understood the difference between the accusations hurled at people for the accurate conscious evil manifestations of rasicm they possess. I have also better understood the defensiveness of people who find themselves attacked for having the less consciously controlled type of in group preferences that are part of our basic biological wiring. The evil variety should be scorned and eradicated while the other variety should be brought in to conscious awareness and hopefully minimized. Lastly i learned that if want to engage in accusational hurling myself i need to be accurate as to which one i am speaking about.

Larry Hart said...


It was only later that i realized i had just witnessed a form of racism that was not taught to the children by anyone nor were any of the participants aware they were engaging in behaviour that others might deem as racist in any way. It took time for me to register the fact that it was a sort of benign subconscious ingroup preference that i was witnessing rather than something insedious.

A very good point which probably gets at the heart of much misunderstanding between conservatives and liberals.

I've said often that Republicans stand only for White Grievance and will tolerate any betrayal of their other supposed-principles in its name. Maybe I need to soften that to account for those conservatives whose deciding issue is not hate or bullying, but a sense that they are not allowed to choose who they include in their personal inner circles. In the 1964 novel God Bless You, Mr. Rosewateer, Kurt Vonnegut has the conservative Senator Rosewater bemoan the philosophy of his errant son, the title character. Paraphrasing from memory: "I love my wife more than I love my garbageman. And that makes me guilty of the worst of modern crimes--discrimination."

So now that we know that, what do we know?* In deference to your observation, I can't fault people for personally preferencing "their kind" to those they consider "other". But I'd say it's still a problem when conservatives like that maneuver things so that the law preferences "their kind". To me, the essence of what America is supposed to be involves equality and equal justice before the law for all, so those who act as if America is for a particular subset, and everybody else is a second class citizen are practicing at least a metaphorical kind of treason.

A part of this is personal. I know that if I had to prove myself worth of American citizenship to a tribunal, I'd have a difficult time doing so. My security in my own rights is based upon universal security in everyone's rights.

Larry Hart said...

Presented without further comment...

The things that Donald Trump said at his rally on Tuesday would be massive news for any other president or presidential candidate, and would linger for months (if not forever). Recall all the outrage and clutching of pearls that took place when Hillary Clinton had the temerity to propose that some Trump voters (and she made clear she was referring to the racists and the bigots) were "deplorables." Meanwhile, Trump announces that every Democrat hates America and it's forgotten by noon the next day.

Acacia H. said...

That's kind of sad, Shane, to think that we have an inherent tribalism that can manifest into racism even at that young of an age. :(


On a more positive note, teenagers have started using the channel blocking software on television and the internet to block Fox News and unsubscribe parents from right-wing media and have been reclaiming their parents and getting them to become more decent once again. It seems that the hate and bile of Fox only lasts for so long... and if you stop listening to those sources of hate? You stop being poisoned by the Koolaid.

This speaks well for many of these MAGAites out there. If we can get them to stop listening to the far-right media sources then we can save them. Though people like my former friend are likely out of reach as they specifically seek out these far-right sources, there are many who are less active and just get "fed" this content.

It does speak poorly of Facebook though. Its CEO refuses to do anything significant about stopping the spread of false political advertisements and fake news on that network... so *blocking* right-wing content may be easier said than done. Though given that I don't know much about FB and haven't been on it in a couple of years (and have no intent on returning) there may very well be ways of doing this and thus stopping the flow of hate to these poor souls.


David Brin said...

I weighed in long ago about how our great project has been to extend and expand "horizons" - of inclusion primarily but also TIME and threat and opportunity.

In fact, today's retail politics boils down to whether you are tribally passionaite about that expansion/inclusion project. Thos on the 'left' think of the project itself - to expand and include more then more and more! as their nation, to get their tribal loyalty.

The confederate reflex is to defend old boundaries. The simplistic diagnosis of the difference is FEAR.


Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

The confederate reflex is to defend old boundaries. The simplistic diagnosis of the difference is FEAR.

And it's funny in a sad way how the supposedly manly, courageous Confederate types are so scared of shadows.

David Brin said...

Okay this renaming thing has proceeded to demands that NASA rename its John Stennis Center. Wow. Won’t happen right away, but we sure are moving along. While you're at it, there's an aircraft carrier - a top US capital ship - also named for Stennis. Also the Carl Vinson. Both of them segregationists. "Named after Democrats!" in order to offer “balance" while Republican Congresses rushed to label ships Reagan, Bush and… Ford? Seriously? While giving LBJ - MLK’s ally who got us the Civil Rights Acts - a destroyer and Carter a sub. See where I work it out, here.

Alas, while I agree with much of this and relish the toppling of confederate monuments to treason, I must point out that symbolism-obsession used to be a largely GOP phenomenon. It is important to a degree, after which it becomes symptomatic and counter productive. Take the rage over the equestrian statue of Teddy Roosevelt at the Natural History Museum. Sure, the native American and black man were “subservient” and are now cringeworthy. But pause and ponder WHY THEY WERE PUT THERE? They symbolized TR - who was vigorously “woke” for his time - leading them out of a painful past.

Is that now rightfully seen as extremely patronizing, at best? Demeaning and unequal? Yep! They gotta go. But TR was vastly better than his times and set in motion reforms that helped a lot. And no combination of his current day critics can claim as much. And ignoramuses who ignore context altogether are not helpful.

matthew said...

Thank you for your apology, Doctor.

I am sorry for the commotion I caused with my comments about conservatism and racism. I am sorry that my poor choice in words caused a rift. I meant to disagree about some root motives in American society, while still supporting your basic thesis. I failed at conveying my message in a coherent manner.

matthew said...

Interesting - both Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio have come out today with forceful reminders to wear a mask in public.
Romney is not surprising. Rubio is utterly shocking to me. He's been such a loyal GOP servant that hearing him contradict Trump on this matter is amazing.

Darrell E said...

Larry Hart said...

"So now that we know that, what do we know?* In deference to your observation, I can't fault people for personally preferencing "their kind" to those they consider "other". But I'd say it's still a problem when conservatives like that maneuver things so that the law preferences "their kind"."

Yes, well said. Similarly, though more pernicious, there is the problem of conservatives, or any group with the power to do so, interpreting and applying the law in ways that favor their kind. I think you may have intended your comment to include that aspect of it, but just in case I figured I'd say it out loud. How the law is applied in actual practice can be, often is, quite different than what the written law says.

Phaedrusnailfile said...

Dr. Brin for full disclosure purposes i must admit that i had read your Fear posting over on Facebook a couple of hours before posting the above.
Larry and Acacia thank you for the thoughtful responses. I would also like to add that to Dr.Brin's point my perspective might well have been quite different had my child been the only person of color in the group and had been chased away by a group of caucasian kids. I definitely think fear could very easily informed that perspective had i been a single Pakistani woman in proximity to a bunch of white male dads instead of the opposite.

David Brin said...


Did you ever watch THE PRESIDENT'S ANALYST? One of the truly wonderful and funny paranoia flicks odf the early seventies. There's a scene in the beginning that's highly redolent and pertinent to white kids chasing a black kid. It's also prescient in so many ways.

and now onward