Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Economics and investment gurus abandoning the GOP... and John Roberts's agenda... and again with this "Fourth Turning" voodoo?

Starting with economics: How are my investment-pundit friends reacting to these insane times? Here's one denouncing a second round of ripoffs.

"$1,000,000,000,000. Or a TRILLION dollars. That's enough to give all 1,000 Billionaires in the World another Billion. Wait, we did that already. Well it's enough to give a Million Millionaires another Million. We did that too? Well it's enough to buy 3,000 masks for each American so we wouldn't need to spend Trillions propping up the economy or to accelerate money velocity by giving $600 to 30M people for a year."

"ROFL!!! Who are we kidding, this is America, we're going to give it to the rich people again!" ---

-- And that from a stock investment guru... one of those who love markets, but who get that driving average folks toward revolution may not be good for values.

"The funny thing is the rich people are pissed that they are only getting $1Tn this time (got $6.7Tn last time) ...The biggest stimulus issue will hit us on Friday, it's the end of the $600 weekly unemployment bonus and the Democrats in the House wanted to extend it through Christmas while the Scrooges in the Senate said not only do they want it dropped to $200 now but they want all unemployment capped at 70% of wages AFTER it's combined with any State Benefits people are receiving."

There's more. But you get it. The rich are swiftly dividing into two camps: the unsapient and insatiably greedy that I depicted in Existence... versus those who understand what ol' Joe Kennedy did, when that SOB mogul shocked his peers and backed Roosevelt: 

"I'd rather have half my wealth taken to foster a happy middle class than lose it all to revolution."

And again, I know a dozen ways that some sub-billionaire could make a huge difference, the next two months. And go down in history.

Meanwhile... continuing with economics...

The FCC has approved a petition from Cumulus Media to permit more than 25% foreign ownership of US media, up to and including 100%. Yep. Part of the steady effort to give puppetmasters all the strings.

The best online zine about economics in the modern context – and the top venue that discusses the deeply compassionate and moral ways that Adam Smith first broached the stunning advantages of flat-fair-open-transparent competitiveness – is the EVONOMICS site.  Highly recommended.  And yes, I have one of the channels there, talking about Smith… and why advertising can no longer carry the weight of supporting the Web. 

And see their piece on the economic effects of the pandemic.

== Roberts the "moderate" or "liberal"? ==

Again and again. The top oligarchs don't care about race or gender or abortion, except as dog whistles to rile up red-heads and confeds. John Roberts will side with the Court's liberals on those topics, in order to get balance cred. But he will never side with the people or precedent, or the Constitution, or honesty, when it comes to power. 

And now someone else is pointing at the emperor's nakedness:

"Conservatives really aren't paying good attention to [chief justice] Roberts. He knows what is important and what is not. He knows that LGBTQ rights and religion get lots of media coverage, but what really matters to him is keeping Republicans in power via gerrymandering, voter suppression etc. On the latter kind of cases, he is an unwavering supporter of the Republican Party. 

"To mask that, he votes with the four liberals from time to time in the hopes that everyone is distracted by bright shiny objects and fails to notice that what he really cares about is keeping Republicans in power. With this mix of rulings, he can claim he is just calling balls and strikes (even if baseball itself is in trouble, as described below). Conservatives seem to be unable to comprehend that he is on their side on the stuff that really matters long term."

At last. A pundit who isn't denser than lead.

== Again with this garbage? ==

One of the most-absurd pieces of pattern-seeking nonsense is "The Fourth Turning" by Strauss & Howe, a fable about American "generations" that both ignores the rest of the world and all the rest of human history... plus biology, evolution and almost any inconvenient facts... but has become a touchstone catechism for the US right, feeding into a conservative proclivity toward CYCLICAL HISTORY.

As some kind of cause-effect predictor, it is nonsense... though as a metaphor for what we are going through, the fable does have some charms. It does seem as if millennials will be forced into "hero generation" status akin to the World War II clade. Not because of some teleological 'cycles,' but because imbecile believers in such nonsense, like Steve Bannon, have circled the globe hell bent on helping the enemies of our Great Experiment to provoke such a crisis, where none had been necessary at all. Ironically, they are doing it for evil reasons that the millennials themselves utterly reject. And those millennials will hunt them down, if this gets really dark.

I go into these cycles & such in an earlier posting as well as here and here.

==  The mumbo gets more Jumbo... ==

This interesting piece surveys the notions of William Strauss and Neil Howe that led to their famous prediction of a Great Crisis around the year 2020. I am much less impressed… in fact I have a chapter in Polemical Judo about "patterns of history" - or "teleology" - dissecting how mystical-minded folks on the left view such patterns quite differently from the way folks on the right generally adore "cyclical" incantations about nations going "decadent" and "falling" in rhythmic fatal sequences. (The Nazis believed in cyclical-history crap, proving decisively that they were a phenomenon of the right.)

Ironically, Strauss and Howe... authors of Generations and The Fourth Turning were actually quite upset over how fervently their thesis -- that US history obeys prim 80 year cycles -- was embraced by the radical right. Excuse some repetition, but Howe repeatedly stressed that the asses gleefully calling for a 2020 era crisis - many of whom, like Steve Bannon, helped artificially to cause it -- are exactly the sort of boomer dogmatists whom the new, millennial "hero generation" utterly despise!

  If millennials swing any way politically, it will be to emulate the previous "hero clade," the so-called Greatest Generation who adored one living human above all others... Franklin Roosevelt.

Oh, but now comes a "paper" that takes this nonsense to the nth degree, using Sciencey-jabber and impressive looking "charts" and inapropos 'citations.' There's hardy a sentence in this scroll of dreck that isn't easily disproved babble and confabulation with tables and graphs that are outright LSD fantasies... but wow what an incantation!

Again. In this link I point out the both leftists and rightists tend to desperately seek patterns of teleological ordained history. The left often sees this as heading inexorably in a particular direction, while the right nearly always plunges into "cycles." They draw comfort from the notion that all efforts will fail.

Oh, by the way... Did you know that private banks have police - and can arrest you? Without any Congressional hearings on the matter, the USA Patriot Act in 2001 bestowed on the 12 regional Federal Reserve banks domestic policing powers. While the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. is deemed an “independent federal agency,” with its Chair and Governors appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, the 12 regional Fed banks are private corporations owned by the member banks in their region. … The Fed’s police officers are technically known as FRLEO, short for Federal Reserve Law Enforcement Officer. The system has its own police academies for training, their own patch and badges, uniforms, pistols, rifles, police cars and the power to arrest coast to coast without a warrant.”

And finally...

See this: The most surprising revelations from Mary Trump's just-released tell-all book about the president: Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man - which joins the shelves along with Bolton's The Room Where it Happened.

Inside the luxury nuclear bunker protecting the mega-rich from the apocalypse. “While humanity is still dealing with an ongoing pandemic of disastrous proportions, some Americans are preparing for a very different doomsday scenario: waiting out a nuclear winter inside a condo complex of luxurious underground bunkers.” 

First, these jerks think they are so modernist and even science fictional, and they haven’t a hair’s breadth of logic or imagination among them… like remembering that we nerds know where every single one of these hidey holes are, including those in Patagonia, the Urals and under the sea. And in the event of a calamity, if we feel betrayed or even just abandoned by oligarchs whose actions or negligence contributed to that fall, then we who know nuclear physics, cyber, bio and genetics will seek out those holes, pry out the soft nuts and turn them into peasants in the new order that they made.


Larry Hart said...

jim in the previous comments:

That is the kind of real leadership that appeals to suburban republican security moms and never Trump Republicans.

It's not Joe Biden's or the Democats' fault that one needs white suburban voters in certain swing states in order to win an election.

It might help some if liberals were more reliable voters, more interested in getting their candidates into office than punishing them for not having enough support from voters. But even if progressive liberals were the dominant Democratic voting bloc, there's still the Electoral College and Senate to contend with. It's not enough to get more votes--we need to win in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania and such. You don't do that by being a revolutionary in a Che Guevera t-shirt (or by honeymooning in Moscow).

Corporate Democrats are much more effective at hippy punching and keeping black folks in their place than Republicans.

This proves you are every bit the splitter that Dr Brin accuses you of. Apparently, you actually prefer Republicans to the current incarnation of the Democratic Party because you actually think Republicans do less harm to the country. I wish I lived on your planet, because on this one, Republican not only suck, but they run everything, including the mechanisms for keeping themselves in power indefinitely. How much more effective are Democrats at that in your dimension?

matthew said...

I once looked into buying one of the Atlas silos in the middle of the desert in NM. It was surprisingly cheap in 1995. I did take a tour through it.

I was thinking of mushroom farming, though.

I guess not far off the apocalypse bunker, now that I think of it. Keep a bunch of pale "living" things in the dark and feed them shit and water...

Ahcuah said...

And it looks like Kavanaugh has joined into the Roberts worldview of non-judiciable issues. At CNN, How Brett Kavanaugh tried to sidestep abortion and Trump financial docs cases, reporter Joan Biskupic says that, for the Trump subpoena case, Kavanaugh was trying to convince the rest of the Justices to pass on the case:

The same would have been true in the fight between Trump and the US House of Representatives. Kavanaugh's idea -- presented to the justices in an internal memo and conversations, sources said -- would have had the high court avoid the subpoena fight over Trump financial documents, based on the judicial principle that courts should stay out of cases involving fundamentally political questions.


Kavanaugh raised a theory known as the "political question" doctrine, which holds that certain disputes are more properly worked out between the political branches rather than by judges. He theorized that the case might be left to the usual back-and-forth of the White House and Congress to figure things out.


During one of the justices' private teleconferences, according to three sources, Kavanaugh convinced his colleagues to ask for supplemental filings on whether the political-question doctrine applied or there was any other reason the justices could not decide the case.

David Brin said...

jim has never engaged the facts offered here:

Nor does it disturb him at all that "they're all the same" is exactly the same message pouring from Kremlin agitprop.

He never comments on which of the 31 agenda items SHARED by moderate dems and leftists he disagrees with or deems unimportant.

In other words. sanctimony is all that matters. Enjoy - only know that it was you guys who betrayed Clinton in 94 and Obama in 2010, giving us this entire mess.

Lucas M said...

Nah. You wouldn't want to use the rich idiots as peasants. They wouldn't know how to do anything. Just bulldoze the doors shut and keep them shut.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Nor does it disturb him at all that "they're all the same" is exactly the same message pouring from Kremlin agitprop.

It's not even "They're all the same". He's saying "Democrats are worse" because they're supposed to be better on all things, and they fall short on some.

Me, I wish Democrats could win elections with an incredibly progressive platform. As it turns out, though, winning requires us to court some of the non-deplorable conservatives as well as progressive and centrist liberals. Compromise wasn't always a swear word in our democracy, and winning a broad coalition is more important (to me) than making conservatives feel bad.

Rob said...

A propos of nothing, here's a look at the current state of sousveillance:

tldr: its happening, but US police departments are VERY entrenched & protected

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

The Nazis believed in cyclical-history crap, proving decisively that they were a phenomenon of the right.

They also lost the war, disproving just about everything they believed in.

But for those who think "National Socialism" is leftist, why do they think the first line of that poem goes:
"First they came for the communists, and I said nothing because I was not a communist"

Who do they think the "they" is in that poem?

Larry Hart said...

@Rob on sousveillance,

Sure, it would be nice if the brutal police got their comeuppance, but even if they continue to do what they've always done, the images have an effect on popular perception. Before rampant cell video, it was more widely accepted that those who "pushed" the cops to beat them brought it on themselves, and police assertions like "He pulled a gun" or "Shot while trying to escape" were accepted at face value. Those days would seem to be gone.

Larry Hart said...

Lucas M:

Just bulldoze the doors shut and keep them shut.

Guillotine futures rose sharply in late day trading. :)

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

“While humanity is still dealing with an ongoing pandemic of disastrous proportions, some Americans are preparing for a very different doomsday scenario: waiting out a nuclear winter inside a condo complex of luxurious underground bunkers.”

It'd be kind of ironic if the bunkers were infected with COVID-19. Or if the trillionaires were denied entrance because of a temperature scan and a COVID test. Either way is funny.

A.F. Rey said...

I think the oligarch's are counting on us not being able to get to their hidey-holes in case of apocalypse. Hard to take vengeance on the rich when you're a french-fried potato by-and-by... :)

Larry Hart said...


A propos of nothing, here's a look...

Rob should get "post of the day" for using the term a propos correctly. Not many do.


David Brin said...

AFR the stupidity of believing that we could not reach them, if there's still an atomosphere, is proof of utter stupidity.

A German Nurse said...

@Postapokalyptic retreats:
Just wondering: If I could afford such a thing, I would like to have it near my permanent residence. Perhaps integrate it into my own mansion, with secret escape routes and such. Nuclear attacks seem to have a pretty short warning time, and you probably won't make it to rural Kansas in time. Other forms of armageddon might provide more time to prepare, yet it might get still become difficult to get there.

A second thought: I'd probably not choose an old missile launch facility or military installation for my hideout. They might or might not be known to others by decades, and perhaps a nuke is still trained at the site, just to make sure.

August said...

You seem to be arguing about the ends justify the means. That concept is bankrupt. It is the first step on the slippery slope to making deals with the devil. It is based on the erroneous perception that there are “ends“ but the game is never over, every so-called “end“ is simply the context of whatever comes next.

Lorraine said...

Wasn't The Day After set in Kansas?

Larry Hart said...

Religious a-hole convention crashes the suburb I used to live in...

DES PLAINES, Ill. (CBS) — A traveling tent revival has the City of Des Plaines taking action amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reported, the City of Des Plaines walks gingerly around the freedom to worship while also maintaining public health in a pandemic.
The man behind it all is charismatic faith leader Torben S√łndergaard from the traveling organization, The Last Reformation. Since last weekend, he has been chronicling the revivals – daily events on his YouTube channel.
We reached out to S√łndergaard for a comment. He did not respond, but on Facebook, he said Chicago and Des Plains [sic] are trying to shut down the revival and asked for prayers.

He wrote in part: “We have sent a letter to The President of The United States to ask for his help. I’m asking all Americans to pray now for a supernatural intervening to stop this socialist agenda before we become like China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela or Iran.”

Words fail me.

And didn't he get the memo? He's not going to curry Trump's favor by badmouthing Russia.

Larry Hart said...

If you can't say anything good...

Larry Hart said...

Malcolm Nance:

Around 5:25 on the video:

"He's [Trump] not only malicious; he's evil! And dangerous.
And we need to start saying that out loud."

Larry Hart said...

So concerns about the maintenance or destruction of constitutional law are partisan, "among Democrats"? How about "among all Americans not in Trump's cult"?

Is it ok to use the T- word yet? At least watered down to "Attempted treason"?

Mr. Trump has attacked the legitimacy of American elections before, including the one in 2016 that made him president. Even after winning the Electoral College that year, Mr. Trump cast doubt on the popular vote and postulated baselessly that Hillary Clinton’s substantial lead in that metric had been tainted by illegal voting.

With that as precedent, there has never been much doubt — certainly among his opponents — that Mr. Trump would attempt to undercut the election if it appeared likely he would lose it. While Mr. Trump does not have the power to shift the date of the election, there is ample concern among Democrats that his appointees in Washington or his allies in state governments could make a large-scale effort to snarl the process of voting.

David Brin said...

“Trump is still ours.” The Russian nomeklatura, FSB/KGB and media are "giddy" over the series of recent Trumpian measures benefiting the Kremlin, accelerating a 4 year campaign of goodies. "The troop withdrawal is just the latest piece of good news for Russia in its relations with the Trump administration. When news broke of Russian bounties placed on the heads of American soldiers, followed by revelations that Russia and China have been hacking Western coronavirus research, it seemed that the die was cast and the sanctions against the Kremlin were all but inevitable. A chorus of experts on Russian state TV unanimously warned the audiences: there will be new sanctions.

"But so far, the sanctions for the hacking of the coronavirus vaccine have been imposed solely on China. Other Russian pundits and experts accurately predicted that—unlike the Democrats—Trump and the GOP would single out not Russia, but China as America’s top adversary. Therefore, instead of a stern rebuke, Russian President Vladimir Putin enjoyed a friendly phone conversation with Trump. During their phone call, Trump didn’t raise the issue of Russian bounties on American armed forces in Afghanistan, nor did he admonish Putin for Russia’s hacking of the coronavirus vaccine research. Likewise, Trump didn’t question the Russian president about his country’s ongoing interference in U.S. elections and domestic affairs."

“Trump is ours” is a familiar refrain in Russian state media. Its aim is twofold: mocking the inquiry into the Kremlin’s involvement in the U.S. elections, while simultaneously emphasizing the inexplicable hold Putin seems to possess over his American counterpart."

"Discussing the United States on Russia’s state TV program 60 Minutes last week, Alexei Kondratiev, member of the Federation Council on the Russian Federation’s Defense and Security Committee, emphasized: “They are our enemies, 100 percent.” During the same show, expert Alexey Naumov claimed that the world is witnessing the U.S. “in its death throes,” as America’s greatness and its global standing is in steep decline. “America is dying...”

We'll see about that...

Slim Moldie said...

Seth Abramson lays out a disturbing hypothetical this morning via his twitter feed worth mulling over.

"(THREAD) Today Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo unveiled the real nightmare scenario for the 2020 election—and the question of what Trump has legal authority to do has nothing to do with it."

Slim Moldie said...

If this is a double, please disregard, having trouble with blogger.

This scenario via Seth Abramson's twitter feed is worth mulling over. "(THREAD) Today Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo unveiled the real nightmare scenario for the 2020 election—and the question of what Trump has legal authority to do has nothing to do with it..."

scidata said...

Giddiness is a symptom of delusion. A better state of mind is skeptical optimism. Mars 2020 is safely away. SN5 Static fire successful.

jim said...

I have answered you silly 5 challenges to splitters several times but what the heck lets do it again.
1) David starts off crying that the democrats only had about 2 years in the last 25 when they had the presidency, the senate and the house. And look what they did with it:
The surge in troops for Afghanistan rather than ending the war.
A stimulus package that they knew was too small by at least a third. A stimulus plan that screwed the states and cities out of need aid.
A republican health plan for mandatory shitty for profit insurance with large deductibles and copays.
A promise not to hold the war criminals to account for their torture, killings and destruction they caused.
And to the banksters, Obama made sure they will not be prosecuted, will get to keep their huge pay and bonuses and receive massive trillion dollar subsidies.
Then David goes on to blame the splitters for democratic loses in 2010, I mean the nerve of those splitters Obama went to all that trouble to carry water for the republicans and those pesky splitters would not support his grand compromise.

2) Then David goes on to tout the achievements of state democratic governance. He points to auto mileage regulation as a win. And it was sort of. But the regulation of electrical utilities in California and the Public Pensions are a giant mess with much criminal corruption. And then there is the giant debacle of the high speed train in California.

3) Then David pull out his 29 no 31 consensus goals all democrats agree to and will implement if given a chance. Ha ha ha ha ha ha . these goals have not been approved by the democratic party, they are not in the party platform or part of any campaign it is just a list of stuff David thinks is good.

4) David makes a plug for ranked choice voting. I am all for it.

5) Then David claims you can’t appeal to disaffected and downtrodden with the promise of vigorous governmental action to help them deal with the real problems in their lives. I am not sure about this. Maybe it is true that people don’t believe that the Democrats will do anything good for them. But Obama and the democrats did sweep into office on a platform of HOPE AND CHANGE. They did not deliver on that campaign promise, but the people did vote for it.

Larry Hart said...

@Slim Moldie,

While I hate to sound other than the pessimist here, if the scenario you link to has any chance of happening, then whether or not the election is delayed is trivial. It means the Republican Party has the means to grab and hold power despite any elections.

Which means it's time to cash in those guillotine futures.

Now, if only we had a Democratic majority in both houses, I'd want Congress to immediately change Election Day--to tomorrow! Then we'd see what we'd see. The worst that could happen is we'd get to see Republicans screaming, "You can't do that!", tacitly admitting that they can't do that either.

David Brin said...

What a maroon! He claims to have read and answered my list of accomplishments of the 111th Congress... and proceeds to utterly ignore every one, then yowl vague things he cannot even remotely prove.

In retrospect, do we realize that Obama tried to hard to lure Republicans with "compromises" and trdes, when they had no intention of giving anything in return? Sure. Duh. I am not at all ashamed of having tried (fool my three times) to be the mature party, before finally admitting the other side has no sincerity left at all..

Pelosi won't make that mistake this time.

As for Afghanistan, Obama plummted the death rates but did stay in, yes. Arguable. But I keep mentioning ten million women and girls and jim always runs from glancing at that pure fact.

3) The high speed rail mess in California is some kind of magical incantation to cancel out all the accomplishments of the Bluest stae. It is illogical and deeply dishonest. And ignore the fact that someday we WILL have HSR, because of this learning curve investment. You... make... zero... sense.

4) I guess we'll just have to see if those 31 things actually happen. But again, he weasels out of the dare! NAME the ones you disagree with, or that AREN't desired by most dems, left or center. And if most do get passed, even in partial increments, would that shift your lazy-cynical ass? Not a chance in hell.

#5 is an outright despicable and deliberate lie. But I will say this. For the VERY first time I believe jim actually, actually went to the page and at least skimmed it. Wow.

Larry Hart said...

The logical conclusion of Trump's and his sycophants' "reasoning" on testing:

"If only Herman Cain hadn't been tested for COVID-19, he'd be alive today."

Anyone who finds this offensive must acknowledge that it is not a factual statement.

matthew said...

Slim Moldie's post of Seth Abramson's twitter thread is similar to what I have been arguing here for months - Trump's use of emergency powers to effect the election is constrained by a SCOTUS that has shown that they will vote 5-4 in favor of *anything* that lets the GOP stay in power.

David admits that Roberts will do whatever is necessary to keep GOP power, but he has also said that Roberts cares more for his legacy and would not discredit SCOTUS.
This is where David and I part ways.
I do not see a vote to give Trump whatever emergency powers Trump wants as different than gutting the Civil Rights Act, upholding gerrymandering, or crushing the right to protest, all actions that the Roberts court has taken in 5-4 decisions.
If Trump insists that he needs to stay in power because we are in an emergency, the Roberts court will show him deference.

At the very least we need to be talking publicly about what we will be doing *if* Roberts and the arch-GOP operatives on SCOTUS give Trump the powers he is so desperate to have.
Right now, the DoJ is asserting that Barr has the power to decide if the election will be delayed. The most criminal AG in US history, and the DoJ is insisting that *he* gets to decide if Trump can postpone elections.

The pushback against this must be huge and preemptive.
If Roberts thinks he can keep a GOP presidency by crapping on our rule of law, he will do it. All evidence points in that direction. Point to a time Roberts has voted against GOP power grabs. Just one.

Ahcuah said...

The jimbo knows not of what he speaks (surprise!). While the Democrats did control both Houses of Congress for 2 years, they did not have a filibuster-proof majority except for a short time: between when Al Franken's victory was decided at the end of June, 2009 and Ted Kennedy died in February, 2010. The stimulus package, passed in February, 2009, (not filibuster-proof!) had to be negotiated with the Republicans, and Obama was thereby limited in the size of what he could get.

Larry Hart said...

I can't imagine the mindset in which one is diagnosed with a potentially crippling or killing disease, and his first thought is: "How do I react to this and stay on Donald Trump's good side?"

Whatever semblance of normal business remained on Capitol Hill during the COVID-19 outbreak was upended when U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Tyler Republican, disclosed Wednesday he tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
[ Gohmert says: ]
“I can’t help but wonder if by keeping a mask on and keeping it in place, if I might have put some … of the virus on the mask and breathed it in. … But the reports of my demise are very premature,” he said. “If somebody feels strongly about everybody should wear a mask, then they shouldn’t be around people that don’t wear masks.”

Alfred Differ said...


I'm not really going to read your response to our host about you taking his challenge. You didn't. Not really. You didn't ignore it either, but you kinda brushed it aside. I remember because I DID read that back then.

So... I skipped to the bottom and caught the part about Hope and Change being a campaign promise. Bullshit. That phrase was more a slogan that gave shape to the campaign... and it largely came from his supporters. They over-hyped him. I was there and remember the cartoons of Obama in a Superman costume. His fans put him on a pedestal. I got to see this first hand when I attended a campaign function in California. They were NOT thinking logically. Quite swept up in the moment, they were.

There is no @#@$ing way Obama could have satisfied all that hype. He's mortal. He's human. People who feel let down DID IT TO THEMSELVES! And you want to blame HIM for it? Bullshit. Steaming piles of it.

Still. He got more accomplished in those early months than I expected. Democrats are like a room full of domestic cats sometimes. Sometimes they cooperate, but other times they yowl at each other. They managed to get behind an historical push to right and old wrong and began the process of considering other ones. Not bad for a bunch of cats.

I might be a touch cynical, though. I was a Democrat back in 2008 and left shortly afterward. Not out of dislike for them or their causes, but out of a feeling of irrelevance. The progressives were dominating too much and not considering their need for old-school liberals. Still... they DID get a few things done. I still prefer their room full of cats approach to how the GOP governs.

Don't blame Obama.
You are probably more at fault for believing the hype, but that shouldn't cause you to withdraw into deep cynicism. Just... beware of hype. Avoid delusion. It's not an impossible task to set for one's self.

David Brin said...

And yet the 2009 stimulus bill DID include demands for collateral for bailout loans and demanded proper prices for "toxic assets" so we resold many at a profit, and nearly the whole thing came close to breaking even and inspectors were on the job from day one... all of thet the OPPOSITE to McConnell's bill.

As everything is opposite. And I expect Schumer to declare the filibuster dead. He must say coldly: YOU made this war. You said so time and again. You will not cripple us in restoring the nation.

TCB said...

This postman just read the Seth Abramson tweet thread posted above by Slim Moldie on how Barr and friends could declare the election void, illegally but hypnotically.

(THREAD) Today Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo unveiled the real nightmare scenario for the 2020 election—and the question of what Trump has legal authority to do has nothing to do with it. I hope you'll read on and retweet—as what I'm describing here is what America is heading for.

(By the way, folks, learn how to code an html link, if I can do it so can you.)

This postman will work for free if that's what it takes to get ballots delivered.

This postman just put a down payment on an AR; I have not owned a weapon in 41 years, but I'm getting one now. That is how seriously I take the Trump treason.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I was a Democrat back in 2008 and left shortly afterward. Not out of dislike for them or their causes, but out of a feeling of irrelevance. The progressives were dominating too much and not considering their need for old-school liberals.

Really? The progressives certainly don't feel that way. Look at the Bernie Bros and such who complain that Democrats are too corporate and always betray their progressive wing. And at the time you are talking about, Rahm Emmanuel was influencing the direction of the party. I don't see where this notion of progressive domination comes from.

Unless you're talking about California Democrats, in which case...
"Well, that's very different. Nevermind."

Larry Hart said...

I've been calling Trump's incompetent occupation of the White House akin to a sit-down strike, preventing a real leader from being able to take over the job. Now, Paul Krugman says something close to that himself...

Trump is the kind of boss who can’t do the job — and won’t go away.

Slim Moldie said...

Yeah your comments about emergency powers haven't gone unheard. This is sort of like watching a multi vehicle car car collision in slow motion. People experiencing the same reality, but not noticing the details and then acting shocked.

February of 2019 Michael Cohen testifies under oath: "I fear that if he loses the election in 2020, that there will never be a peaceful transition of power. And this is why I agreed to appear before you today.”

@Larry H,
But I actually do think IF people don't act and press now that "the Republican Party has the means to grab and hold power despite any elections." I'm not trying to be the pessimist either. Nor do I think is Abramson. Your suggestion of Democrats trying to move the election forward is actually a clever idea; It's David's Judo. The Press and our representatives need to be doing it yesterday.

The continuing problem is that this Trump Presidency is ludicrous. The news is like reading a Kurt Vonnegut novel transcribed by a five year old using watercolors. The next thing to happen is guaranteed to be absurd and horrible, and more nakedly stupid than anything I predict. The problem is that the Democrats and the Backseat Driving--Oh but all politicians are corrupt--Independents are letting things happen to them instead of initiating strategic moves.

scidata said...

TCB: By the way, folks, learn how to code an html link, if I can do it so can you.

Heh. I do know how. For a short time, I did code them as clickable links. However, I prefer the option where the reader has to consciously copy & paste the link into the address bar of their browser. It seems less coercive. And fully-formed links are scraped more aggressively.

Plain text links just seem more gentlemanly to me. I seek that characteristic more and more these days.

Larry Hart said...


However, I prefer the option where the reader has to consciously copy & paste the link into the address bar of their browser

You don't even have to do that. At least in my browsers, if I highlight a complete link and then right click on it, it gives me an option to open that link in another tab.

Robert said...

Plain text links just seem more gentlemanly to me. I seek that characteristic more and more these days.

FWIW, I prefer them too.

A German Nurse said...

A thought:
If Trump indeed is blackmailed by Putin, he must have the urge to get off his leash.

The moment Trump steals the election, and permanently installs himself as a President-for-life, Putin looses his hold over him. I suppose he (Putin) wouldn't want that to happen.

David Brin said...

AGN did you ever see the film THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE? Creepy, if utterly illogical. But the Senator's wife who is the top mole conspirator for the North Koreans swears revenge on the commies, once she's in power, for what they did to her son.

A German Nurse said...

Dr.Brin: No, not the old version, but the newer one of 2004.

Alfred Differ said...


You got it. The California Democrats don't need me, so I can safely work with a third party group without changing any higher ranked elections. I've voted for Libertarians a few times now, but we know how much that counts, right?

I've got no moral issue with California Democrats. I'd just rather they were more careful about social engineering attempts. They don't work and just piss off a lot of us. They are still safer to have around than the endangered species called California Republicans.


I appreciate how the feds almost broke even for the bailout, but that doesn't make me happy about how they handled it. More heads should have rolled. Blood in the gutters. The damage done by that meltdown still echoes in our markets today. Much of this political mess was aggravated by their realization of 'no real consequences.' We tolerated moral hazard and now the bill must come due.

Larry Hart said...

Probably not all that significant except for the wry humor, but this is a co-founder of the friggin' Federalist Society slamming Trump.

I have voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980, including voting for Donald Trump in 2016. I wrote op-eds and a law review article protesting what I believe was an unconstitutional investigation by Robert Mueller. I also wrote an op-ed opposing President Trump’s impeachment.

But I am frankly appalled by the president’s recent tweet seeking to postpone the November election. Until recently, I had taken as political hyperbole the Democrats’ assertion that President Trump is a fascist. But this latest tweet is fascistic and is itself grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate.

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

As long as we're spoiling the movie, I'm pretty sure Ms Landsbury's character was an agent of the Russians. Korea was simply the convenient venue for kidnapping American GIs at the time.

Larry Hart said...

Another thing about "The Manchurian Candidate". I read the novel a few years ago, and I think this is a rare example where the movie actually improved on the book.

Larry Hart said...

This gets that Federalist Society condemnation about right, and also posits an interesting consequence of postponing the elections:

Even the co-founder of the Federalist Society, Steven Calabresi, who has voted for every Republican presidential candidate since 1980, called Trump's comment "fascistic," and called for his immediate impeachment and conviction. Considering that when Trump was actually impeached, Calabresi opposed his conviction, this new-found reverence for the rule of law smacks of trying to get on the right side of history while there is still time.
But what Trump clearly does not understand is the consequence of getting Congress to change the election to some time after Jan. 20, 2021. Per the 20th Amendment, his term and that of Mike Pence end at noon on Jan. 20, 2021. Period. No exceptions. And, unlike the date of the election, even Congress can't change it. If both the presidency and vice presidency were vacant at noon, the Speaker of the House automatically becomes president—if there is a speaker. Since the speaker doesn't have to be a member of the House, it is not clear if the current speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) continues in the role until a new one is chosen, or if her speakership ends on Jan. 3. If the Supreme Court were to hold that the old speaker ceases to be speaker on Jan. 3, then the president pro tem of the Senate is next in line. Currently that is Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), but if Senate elections are postponed, the remaining 65 senators not up this year could elect a new pro tem. Since 35 of them are Democrats, following tradition, they would probably elect their most senior member. Welcome, President Pat Leahy (D-VT).

Robert said...

If the Supreme Court were to hold that the old speaker ceases to be speaker on Jan. 3

And what are the odds of that happening with the current Court?

Darrell E said...

I've come to be very skeptical of any claims that "this" (whatever incident) is what will stop or end Trump. Based on the past 3+ years I don't know how anybody could confidently make such a claim. If other people don't do anything to stop him then laws don't matter. What the constitution says doesn't matter. It doesn't matter that the constitution gives congress and congress alone the authority to change the election date. It doesn't matter that the constitution says that no matter what a president's term ends on January 20th unless an election takes place and they win it. It's all just words. As long as enough people in the right places continue to empower this asshole by either helping him or by not stopping him then the constitution doesn't mean shit. It hasn't done us any good so far because it is dependent on people to make what it says manifest. So far Trump has gotten away with myriad things that at any other time in the past would have gotten a president removed from office. Numerous things that the constitution, laws, rules and precedent don't allow for or explicitly forbid.

In any reasonably decent society the bad guys always have the advantage. They have the advantage because they don't play by the rules while the good guys largely allow themselves to be constrained by the rules. We are in a situation were there are so many bad guys in so many key positions of authority that our laws and institutions are failing to protect us. Worse, the bad guys have thoroughly gamed the system over a period of decades so that even before Trump our laws and institutions were well compromised. These are momentous times for us in the US. Sudden big changes are imminent. It's getting down to fight or die time.

Larry Hart said...

Darrell E:

In any reasonably decent society the bad guys always have the advantage. They have the advantage because they don't play by the rules while the good guys largely allow themselves to be constrained by the rules. We are in a situation were there are so many bad guys in so many key positions of authority that our laws and institutions are failing to protect us.

What the bad guys don't seem to realize is that democratic norms and rule of law are bulwarks against more violent forms of revolution. When you suppress peaceful protest, you're going to get riots in their place. When you suppress voting and peaceful transition of power, you're going to get the French Revolution. When you leave your population without hope, then they are also without fear.

matthew said...

Lincoln suspended habeas corpus in the civil war using his emergency powers. Habeas corpus is enshrined in the constitution, just as the term of POTUS and VPOTUS ending on Jan 20th is enshrined in the constitution.

Emergency powers are what the SCOTUS says they are upon review of actions taken.

There are many, many ways to abuse the powers if you have a radically anti-voter majority on SCOTUS, as we do.

Talking about this beforehand can help defuse the situation and plan for the worst.

I see very little action from the Dems, or even Project Lincoln, to prepare for what we will be facing. We need preemptive calls to Congress, letters to the editor, subpoenas for GOP operatives, hearings, and more, starting yesterday.

There is every sign that Trump will try to hold on to power unlawfully, and every sign that a 5-4 majority of SCOTUS will enable it.

David Brin said...

Roberts ended 240 years of Congressional oversight and subpoena power. So... yeah. We are right now in revolution territory and we need to hammer it to everyone we know.

NOW is the last month to do much voter registration or sign up for training to be a poll worker. But far more valuable that doing that, in a blue district of state, is finding some State Assembly swing district in a purple or red state and joining their phone bank. Totally flexible hours...

Anyone out there care to do the legwork on finding out which org does that? Down at the State Assembly level? I'll then use my vast, vast fame to promote it!


Darrell E said...

Larry Hart,

That's all true, but even though the bad guys get what's coming to them when things go that far, it sucks nearly as bad for the good guys. I sure hope, I'm sure we all do, that we can manage to get rid of them before things go that far?

David Smelser said...

The impeachment proved that politics >> rule of law.

I'm afraid this election is also going to test whether politics >> rule of law or not.

TCB said...

@ Alfred Differ, I am of the view that there is no such thing as a non-engineered society; rather, there are different degrees of conscious or unconscious engineering. In our primate ancestors, it was evolution, environment and chance that favored cooperative bands and tribes; when more complex human societies, and cities, came into being, these coincided with the creation of moralistic gods and concepts of karma and sin, good and evil. The Bible is a social engineering device, as are other religious texts and legal codes from Hammurabi onward.

When modern critics decry social engineering, I infer it to mean that they do not like the new flavor of engineering being proposed, and prefer some older form which they never considered to be engineered at all, perhaps because they were not there to see the proverbial sausage getting made. (I'm reminded of Gore Vidal's novel about Julian the Apostate, which paints early Christians as a bunch of slimy, hypocritical, double-dyed bastards, not at all like such modern paragons of virtue as Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.)

This is not to say that modern scientific (or scientistic) experiments in social engineering are all vast improvements over the tried and true. B.F. Skinner is discredited, I gather, and Pol Pot definitely is. But I would ask you to cut the California social experimenters a little slack... the rest of us (barely) tolerated California's weird and Pandoric innovations of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Proposition 13.

Alfred Differ said...

Matthew has a valid point about emergency powers we should take seriously.

Also, now that Trump has floated the 'delay' notion, I'm inclined to take Larry's worries more seriously too. Whether the President's party supports him in the Senate or not remains to be seen. I don't take their vocal distancing from his trial balloon as sufficient evidence since they could grudgingly move in his direction in the future.

I'm not quite willing to make the purchase TCB is making, but that choice is making some sense now.

However, I'm not willing to make a big public fuss about this. I think the Tweeter-in-Chief would benefit from that. Overton window shift, ya know? Our response should be less pyrotechnic.

What to do? Get your voter registration checked. Get your friends and relatives to do it too. Every district. We need to detect shenanigans earlier than later. Also, find your options for delivering mail-in-ballots should the USPS be suspect by next November. Here in California, we are allowed to drop our mail-in ballots in a box where the in-person voting takes place. Find your legal options and then let your friends, relatives, and neighbors know. Advocate for them!

scidata said...

If open treason >> inked law then it has been thus since 1776. Nothing has really changed, except that now the cat's out of the bag. Jefferson was right about eternal vigilance.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Also, now that Trump has floated the 'delay' notion, I'm inclined to take Larry's worries more seriously too.

I hoped you'd eventually come around.:)

However, I'm not willing to make a big public fuss about this. I think the Tweeter-in-Chief would benefit from that. Overton window shift, ya know? Our response should be less pyrotechnic.

I think Nancy Pelosi should get the House to attempt to move the election up sooner. Make it tomorrow if possible. Then, Republicans in the Senate would have to defend the notion that messing with Election Day is a bad idea.

Also, find your options for delivering mail-in-ballots should the USPS be suspect by next November. Here in California, we are allowed to drop our mail-in ballots in a box where the in-person voting takes place.

Yeah, but we're not really worried about California, a state which makes it as easy as possible to vote. The problem is the Wisconsins and Ohios and Floridas where the local governments will throw every obstacle in the voters' way.

Robert said...

Found Juice Media ad, thought I'd share.

It's satire. Or possibly just a brutally honest description.

TCB said...

Nice article on the New Yorker profiles the Army Corps of Engineers, a government entity that actually 'gets it done', setting up emergency hospitals in time of Covid.

Alfred Differ said...


Very modern of you.

One of the dangers with modern English is our words have so many connotations, that we get muddy in the head when dealing with things that used to be pretty clear.

There is a very, very particular form of social engineering upon which I trigger. Literally… trigger. It's the type that occurs with the threat of a gun to one's head. The gun is usually present in the figurative sense, of course. Punishment for bad behavior need not result in being shot. It can range from criminal consequences to civil liabilities to simple infractions.

A simple example (admittedly not relevant in California anymore) is first cousin marriage. In some US States, it is allowed. In some it is tolerated. In a few there are criminal consequences, but I don't know how much they are enforced anymore. If it's on the books as a criminal or non-tolerated marriage, though, good luck getting a marriage license without crossing state lines. Off to Vegas, right?

I get why cousin marriage was frowned upon in the past. It still creeps people out a bit. Some of us… if we notice. The problem is that some of us take that creepy feeling and move to ensure criminal consequences for those who do not find it creepy. See the implied gun? Even if it is just a denial of a marriage license, the gun is still present though of a less dangerous caliber. If you can be told who you may not marry, how free are you? (This is where people take the position to extremes of course, but I cover that in a moment.)

There is nothing to stop us from ensuring there are social consequences for people who creep us out, but there are many ways we can do that short of using the power of the state to enforce consequences. Social engineering done with persuasion and shunning is expected. When it is done with coercion, I won't stand for it lightly.

I object to the implied gun-to-the-head for many behaviors… including many that personally creep ME out. I'll give in and tolerate them doing so* when there is 90%+** support in the community for enforcing punishments, but I might leave their political groups and join a different one.

My personal choice to leave the California Democrats wasn't this dramatic, though. It was mostly about fiscal responsibility. If we are going to promise fiscal support to a needy group, we better damn-well follow through on it. I hate empty promises. My inner Boy Scout objects. 8)

* [Failure to tolerate it breaks The Rule of Law. Pedophiles wind up being delivered by otherwise upstanding citizens as decapitated corpses to police stations.]

** [If support later drops below 90% I'll still tolerate it until it gets below 80%. Beyond that, though, there is a serious chance supporters are on the losing side an historical tsunami.]

Alfred Differ said...


Pelosi should do no such thing. At the most, she should roll her eyes when journalists ask her about her reaction and call him and @#$&ing spoiled brat.

You are right about California, so I think it is important that we learn the rules in other states and help keep and eye on it all. For example, North Dakota is so thinly populated, they don't bother with voter registration. I lived there a while and accept the logic of it. Just show up at the polls and prove you are from where you reside. They gamed that last time to lock out tribal votes by restricting certain kinds of proof of residency, so we could reasonably wonder what they'll try this time.

I'm sure someone, somewhere needs to keep a special eye on North Carolina too. No doubt someone already is, so we should be helping even if it means something minimal like throwing them a few bucks.

So… many of us have friends from around the country and acquaintances spread even wider. Now is the time to renew those contacts and ask what they are seeing as their local ground truth. Intelligence gathering is a critical element in all these projects, but especially in counter-intel operations. That's what we have to be doing here.

How many US states do we represent here on this site, hmm?

A German Nurse said...

Dr. Brin: Ever thought of the irony that the Postmen of the pre-Apocalypse could be crucial in saving the US democracy?

Alfred Differ said...

On the topic of asset bubbles, I have to wonder about charts that place very different kinds of assets together and describe them as related bubbles.

The on on this post shows national equity markets (Thailand, Japan, China) juxtaposed with asset classes (US housing, biotech) and then puts a nebulous group called 'disruptors' at the end as if to imply a similarity.


Disruptors SHOULD look like a bubble on the front side. That's what they do. They disrupt old industries. It's the expectation that they must pop, though, that intrigues me.

Of course they might. People don't really know how to value disruptors of industries. Seriously. Is Tesla just a car company? Pfft. No. Obviously. It doesn't trade like one. It's more like a cross between a biotech and software company. Why isn't it listed with disruptors, though? Anyone with two brain cells to rub together knows that is EXACTLY what they are trying to do.

So… which of the tech companies count as disruptors? Why not count ones from other industries too? Shouldn't we have a specialty index for them? Start your own ETF too! Why not! We've even got ETF's that make trades USING disruptors… like AI's. (Well… they aren't very good yet. Best stick to standard index ETF's.)

Heh. My real issue with asset bubble discussions is a lack of ex ante predictions. The asset class that 'bubbled' is usually pretty obvious ex post facto, but much harder to define earlier.

Bitcoin bubbled when it went legit and one could buy futures contracts. Many of us expected that and even put our money in on various bets. We weren't really betting on bitcoin, though. We were betting on the human enthusiasm roller coaster.

The lesson here is that it isn't the asset that really bubbles. It's us. It's gold one year, tulip bulbs another year, and Cabbage Patch dolls in yet another. When we draw these charts with very different asset groups, they share the underlying trait of being tradable by enthusiastic participants. Trading algorithms have to expect that of us, so they must model the same 'enthusiasm' too as long as we humans are in the mix.

A German Nurse said...

"I sure hope, I'm sure we all do, that we can manage to get rid of them before things go that far?"

These tweets are dire. Each one moves the limits of what is speakable until it becomes normal to talk and even consider it. It is part of his strategy to make unspekable things sound normal, day after day.

That being said, I'd hope for the best and prepare for the worst. If Trump manages to steal the election or just refuses to leave office, things could get ugly. (Interesting dilemma for the higher ranks of the praetorians: They are sworn in and dedicated to protect the constitution ... and obey the Commander-in-Chiefs orders. If they resign, they allow their places to be filled with someone more malleable. If they resist, they might be fired or persecuted as traitors or mutineers. If they go full Stauffenberg, they give their lifes one way or another ... and might end up with either a civil war at hand or them being court-martialed before or after the deed.) Immediately, protests would start ... and secret police mercenary units deployed to crush them. In the greater universe, rival foreign leaders would certainly try to take advantage of the power vacuum suddenly evolving.

Perhaps, if I would be on upcoming proscription lists, I'd prepare anything I'd need for a rapid departure. I'd look now for a foreign country welcoming to Americans and/or political refugees, and perhaps go on extended vacation once I casted my vote. Perhaps if it even would be prudent to do so if I would live in a country that could be targeted by one of these rival foreign leaders. (I believe Russia and China might act during the time Trump and Biden duke it out in the courts or the situation might become otherwise unpleasant. Since the pandemic is far from over, economical and social stress might increase tensions rapidly.) At the moment, I'd probably choose Namibia as my country of exile.

Or I'd plan for the uprising and support of the nation's constitution. Networking, talking with people what to do if the unspeakable, unthinkable would happen, silently preparing ressources, places, people and plans. (We might not have a 2nd Amendment, but we have Article 20.4 of Basic Law: "All Germans shall have the right to resist any person seeking to abolish this constitutional order if no other remedy is available." If Trump would try to move the election in earnest, or steal it in another way, he surely would qualify.) It wouldn't need to be a violent opposition, but even creating safehouses for fugitives and resistance fighters, or building up a digital resistance (think of the White Rose and Anonymous), or infiltrating the power structure of the new regime requires forethought and planning. Again, it might be useful to prepare a G.O.O.D bag and an escape route.

But yet, I'd hope I never needed one of those plans and preparations.

duncan cairncross said...

The trouble with the "Second Amendment" is that in the vast majority of history the "Armed Citizens" have been on the side of the oppressors and Tyrants

The main hope that I have for the USA is the age distribution of the Trumpists

I can just see the line of advancing walking frames!

David Brin said...

Anonymous A German Nurse said...
Dr. Brin: Ever thought of the irony that the Postmen of the pre-Apocalypse could be crucial in saving the US democracy?

They have been, all along.

David Brin said...


P00dles said...

Neil Stephenson in “Cruptonomicon” talks about impregnable island fortresses the Japanese built. The Allies dumped thousands of gallons of bunker fuel in the elevator shafts and burned it, slowly heating the whole structure. Not sure if this is based on actual history but it got me thinking.