Saturday, August 22, 2020

A prediction for the RNC... and Chapter One of the book that might've helped.

 A prediction that I made in 2016, as soon as Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, was that he would not abide by any more than minimal attention paid to anyone else. And that those who opposed him at all were to be snubbed or humiliated. And sure enough, no mention was made, at that convention, of any Previous GOP president or leader, other than the party's deity, Ronald Reagan. 

There were two small exceptions - having obsequiously groveled, Newt Gingrich got a small speaking slot... and Speaker of the House - then titular head of the party - Paul Ryan got a nod. As for other Republican Presidents or Speakers or noteworthy senators or governors? Not one. Bushes - senior and junior - were totally snubbed.

At the time, I suggested the Clinton campaign demand "What kind of party flees from any mention of its past records at governance, but demands to be given another chance?"

A potentially devastating meme! Especially given the utter failures of every Supply Side experiment and the horrifically ill-conceived and mis-managed middle eastern wars. But yeah, right. Like anyone listens to me. 

This year is the same... and the same opportunity will be dropped. Everyone in DC knows that Paul Ryan is laying low, as the designated "adult prince" successor, should Trumpism totally immolate. With the surviving George Bush hinting disrespect and Romney and McCain's widow and Liz Cheney openly dissing Trump, the speaker lists we've seen range from My Pillow and gun-brandishers to Jared, Ivanka and DonJr.  There will be 'burnish' opportunities for Kevin McCarthy (not Jenny or Joe) and for Pence's understudy, Nikki Haley, and for Moscow Mitch. (My own question is about Gingrich, whom I've always found fascinating, as you'll see below! Has he groveled and abased and shamed his once-substantial mind enough to get a minute onstage?)

Again, Dems could make plenty of hay off this writhing, panic-ridden evasion of any look at the past Republican record at governance. But enough of that...

...and instead let me offer you something different. CHAPTER ONE OF POLEMICAL JUDO.  Yes, it has been available online since November. Back when I hurried out a book filled with 100+ proposed tactics that might evade the trench warfare that the Foxite-Putinist-GOP is so good at. 

Alas, The book sank into instant obscurity and not one of those tactics has been tried by even one Democratic or liberal pol or pundit. Not one.

So I'll just post every chapter here and have done with it. Like the rest of you, I must get over any chance I can make a difference except at the bottom, retail level. (Today my wife and I marched outside our local post office! We're 'hosting' a zoom gathering for our brilliant Congress-guy Mike Levin next Thursday.) 

Alas, neither Joe nor anyone around him has a glimmer of imagination. But I'll settle for their vaunted patriotism and decency. Those will go a long way. Boy, I'll settle for those.

 

Chapter 1

 

 

Introduction – The Need for Judo Polemic

 

 

It was a brilliant political maneuver - and no Democrat seemed willing to learn from it. In 1994, Newt Gingrich's innovative “Contract With America” made the Republican Party appear serious, pragmatic, reformist. No matter that every decent promise in the Contract later wound up neutered or betrayed. The electoral triumph that Gingrich wrought with this bait-and-switch was a historic phase change, demolishing what remained of the Roosevelt-era social and political compact. 

 

The aftermath was even more tectonic. Even under Ronald Reagan, legislators assumed that their mission was to stake bargaining positions, then negotiate and ultimately legislate, adjusting our laws for changing times and needs. Gingrich retained that tradition for one more year – the anno mirabilis 1995 – making deals with Bill Clinton to get budget surpluses and welfare reform. Foreign policy was a collaborative neutral zone.

 

Revolutions often eat their own. Soon Newt was toppled by Dennis Hastert, whose eponymous “Rule” threatened political extinction for any Republican who dared to discuss tradeoffs or common ground with any Democrat, ever. Across America, “Tea Party” movements enforced the Hastert Rule on representatives with fervent passion. As a result, every following congress - except for the brief, Pelosi-led 111th (2009-2011) - would be among the most rigidly partisan in U.S. history. Also the laziest, holding among the fewest days in session, or bills passed, or hearings (except those spent unproductively pursuing Clintons), but setting all-time records at fund-raising.

 

Oh, about the central architect of this era that bears his name – Dennis Hastert, chosen by his party to be Speaker of the House and top Republican in the nation? Hastert later served time in federal prison for lying about decades of grotesque, serial child predation.

 

Why do I begin with all of that, in a book about “Judo Politics”?

 

Because the key feature from that entire era was not Republican canniness, or laziness or turpitude; it was Democrats’ obstinate inability to learn and adapt.[1] What Newt Gingrich’s “Contract” and the “Hastert Rule” illuminate is how liberals, moderates and Democratic politicians keep getting outmaneuvered, time and again, refusing ever to understand their mistakes – like Barack Obama attempting for eight years to negotiate across party lines with opponents who had literally and explicitly banished that phrase from their caucus. Yes, it was wise and mature to keep trying. And yet there are reasons why Obama failed.

 

Consider the Democrats’ two lonely triumphs, across the last 30 years. In both 1992 and 2008, frustration with Republican misrule boiled over. Massive outpourings of activism led to registration and get-out-the-vote campaigns, bringing millions to the polls who formerly sat out elections. In each case, the Democratic-controlled legislative and executive branches got busy, trying to steer the ship of state… only to lose control of Congress just two years later, in 1994 and 2010, when those new voters stayed home. Is history repeating, yet again? Are the chess-masters already planning for 2022? 

 

Repeatedly, Democrats and their allies are lured onto battlegrounds of the enemy’s choosing, as Donald Trump tweet-controls every news cycle. Sure, talk show hosts mine each day’s outrage for humor, indignation and ratings. But it’s rare to find even a single pundit (other than cognitive linguist George Lakoff) asking: “Hey, what actually happened, just now?”

 

What’s happened? We’ve entered a crucial phase – so far, not hot – of America’s 250-year-old civil war, a battle for survival of the Enlightenment Experiment. Moreover, we’ve been tricked into fighting chest-to-chest, grunting and shoving, in the polemical equivalent of trench warfare. Or else Sumo wrestling. 

 

David Axelrod put it well, citing how we respond to every Trumpian or Fox News provocation with righteous indignation: [2]

 

“My advice to the Democratic nominee next year is: Donʼt play. … Wrestling is Mr. Trump’s preferred form of combat. But beating him will require jiu-jitsu, a different style of battle typically defined as the art of manipulating an opponent’s force against himself….”

 

Absolutely. Moreover, it must begin with un-learning our most comforting – and futile – reflexes.

 

TICKING CLOCKS AND URGENCY[3]

 

It may surprise you that the author of Earth and Startide Rising, a lifetime member of environmental NGOs and a caring father who lives by pondering the near and far future, will write so little in this book about some of the critical crises facing our nations, citizens, and biosphere – like global heating, deforestation, water scarcity, mass species extinction, and the spread of populist fascism. I will get to them all! But they aren’t our main focus here.

 

That’s because I am both hyper-optimistic and super-pessimistic, at the same time.

 

Just in my own lifetime, I’ve witnessed so many examples of humanity’s genius at innovating spectacular solutions to daunting problems. I know how far that record goes back in time and where it might take us, if truly fed and empowered. For reasons that I won’t go into, here, I think it’s likely that humans are rare across the cosmos – unusually creative, for a naturally evolved intelligent species. But that creativity only burgeoned to full strength and vigor recently, in a new kind of society. One that innovated creative ways to practice an art we’re taught to despise: Politics.

 

Politics is a competitive process – often cutthroat – but also cooperative when we use it to negotiate. It is politically that we define policy, which can either hinder or unleash the fecundity of science, amateurism, volunteerism and philanthropy, as well as markets that address new needs through enlightened self-interest. Using many tools and a broad stance, we know how to do those things! We used to do it more.

 

In a later chapter – “Can We make a Deal?” – I’ll go through many ways that adults mightseek win-win solutions to our myriad problems. But I doubt that can happen right now, because our process of negotiation – politics itself – has been almost destroyed. And that happened deliberately.

 

Hence my combination of optimism and deep worry. I have many friends in science, engineering, activism and so on who are frenetically busy trying to save the world. We could do so much more, so much faster, except that – alas – all of our immune systems against error and our political mechanisms for problem-solving are presently clogged. They must be unclogged! 

 

In order to do that, we’ll have to combat monsters.

 

 

ZOMBIES AND VAMPIRES AND WERE-ELEPHANTS

 

The death spiral of U.S. political life has yet to see bottom. While most factual indicators suggest wary optimism about humanity’s overall trajectory, our public addiction to dudgeon and fury intensifies daily. Words like “negotiation,” “deliberation,” and “discourse” sink into quaint anachronism alongside “phlogiston.”

 

For those who complain of “incivility” and preach “let’s find common ground,” Chapter 2 of this volume explores deep, underlying currents that we – especially Americans – all share, deep roots that are seldom discussed and healthy reflexes that have been turned against us. I’d like nothing better than to apply those common values, resurrecting politics as an arena where – amid much fervent wrangling and dickering – positive-sum compromises rise to the top. Moreover, I’m known as a militantly-moderate person, a liberal-minded pragmatist reformer who sees much wisdom in Adam Smith and who willingly criticizes a sometimes obdurate far-left. My blog is called Contrary Brin because I’ll argue with any faction, always with an eye to finding that path where all can win.[4]

 

But I’m now convinced the never-negotiate radicalism of today’s mad right – promoted avidly on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News and by memes pouring from Kremlin basements, and even institutionalized openly by many Republican leaders – leaves us no choice. It’s become a knife-fight. Any reaching out will just win us a bloody stump.

 

As Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman put it, in an August 2019 editorial: Democrats need to win elections, but all too often that won’t be sufficient, because they confront a Republican Party that at a basic level doesn’t accept their right to govern, never mind what the voters say.

 

By any factually supported metric, citizens should be taking torches to the shambling, undead shell of the party of Lincoln. Yet, over 40% of the voting public in the U.S. (and with similar waves in many other countries) has been mesmerized by bilious incantations via Internet and TV – a phenomenon referred to by uncomprehending punditry as “populism.” 

 

In fact, something similar has happened whenever some new kind of media erupted, as in the 1930s, when radios and loudspeakers seemed to amplify the human voice to godlike proportions, empowering gifted savonarolas to very nearly take over the world. Or back when printing presses poured forth hate-tracts that stoked Europe’s 17th Century religious wars. Today’s cunning Goebbels-equivalents have turned transformative internet technologies against us. Against the very civilization that fostered communications breakthroughs with curiosity and science. Oh, someday, these technologies, too, will have the promised net-positive effects, as happened to books and radio. But till then, we must survive a violent time, incited by tsunamis of malignant memes. And that will only happen by thwarting evil geniuses.

 

Hence, while this book is aimed at helping achieve outright victory for the “Union” side in this phase of the U.S. Civil War, I am not here to praise Democrats, but to berate them.

 

Getting mired in trenches while extending repeatedly a bloodied hand of negotiation is not working. Nor am I the only one demanding tougher, more agile tactics. Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke, as of July 2019 started using “foul language” to describe the Trumpists. (Gosh.) David Faris, author of It’s Time to Fight Dirty: How Democrats Can Build a Lasting Majority in American Politics, says Republicans have all but destroyed democratic norms in America, and it’s time for Dems to take on the mantle of procedural warfare. Faris’s concepts include deliberately breaking up big states like California so that blue populations can match red citizens in “Senator Power.” I have many doubts. But as Abraham Lincoln said about U.S. Grant, “I can’t spare this man, he fights.”

 

This battle can only be won with agility. With maneuver. By using the adversary’s ponderous momentum against him. By appraising the advantages and weapons of those who hijacked American Conservatism, transforming it into a shambling zombie that would appall Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley, or even Ronald Reagan. The Republican press has become a tool of foreign tyrants, casino moguls, coal barons, petro-princes, Wall Street cheaters, tabloid pimps, Mafiosi and resurgent Nazis – a cabal of forces who will end free enterprise as surely as they aim to finish off Enlightenment democracy and the impartial rule of law. Toward this goal they have refined a daunting array of effective tactics…

 

… that might yet be overcome and even turned to our advantage, with the political equivalent of judo, the art of using your opponents’ own aggressive momentum against them;

 

– By slashing the bonds (or lies) holding their coalition together. (The very thing they do to us.)

 

– By confronting our neighbors not with familiar chasms, but commonalities. Things you and they both know to be true.

 

– By understanding how so many basically decent people insulate themselves against appeals to compassion.

 

– By going to the root of their own catechisms, like Make America Great Again.

 

– By making explicit what the Fox New hosts and fellow travelers never say aloud, like their open war against all fact-using professions.

 

– By using outcomes to destroy their comfy narratives – like the claim that conservatives are the practical ones – by proving Democrats are vastly better against deficits, at engendering a healthy economy and even at fostering open-creative-competitive enterprise.[5]

 

– By proving there is common ground, e.g. showing your neighbors that we were allraised by Hollywood themes like suspicion of authority and individual autonomy, even if we disagree over which authorities are trying for Big Brother.

 

– By going directly after the two traits they find so appealing about Donald Trump: first his brash bully-bravado and appearance of macho “strength”…

 

– … and second the way he enrages the same people who red-hat-wearing Americans hate most.

 

– By developing the one method that always corners them. A trick that makes a few opponents stop, think and reconsider… while sending the rest fleeing in panic and shame.

 

Oh, the list goes on and on. In this compendium, I’ll shine light on not one, or ten, but as many as a hundred memes and counter-memes, tactics and stratagems, polemical riffs and/or smart missiles that have nearly all been ignored by our ‘generals’ – the candidates and consultants and commentators who we count on to confront this madness. I’ll suggest ways to counter effective cult catechisms like “fake news” and “deep state” and the blatant, all-out war against every fact-using profession. 

 

If even one of these tools or tricks winds up being used well by some effective public figure, then this effort will be worthwhile. 

 

 

THE NERVE OF THIS GUY!

 

Who am I to lecture experienced politicians, analysts and activists, chiding them to adopt new weaponry in this fight for civilization? Well, I do have some cred. As a scientist, I serve on NASA commissions and consult[6] for many corporations/agencies about both “the future” and processes of change. My best-selling novels[7] (translated into 25 languages) include The Postman (filmed in 1997), Earth, and Existence. My nonfiction book about the information age - The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?[8] - won the Freedom of Speech Award. TimeMagazine listed Earth as one of “Eight books that eerily predicted the future.”[9]

 

Sure, none of that qualifies me to yammer chidings and advice at experienced journalists or savvy politicos, or accomplished NGO leaders. Go ahead and be skeptical toward the importance or originality of these ideas! In fact, I’ll avow that cognitive linguist George Lakoff has appraised the psychological-manipulating methods of our present Oligarchic Putsch far better than I can.[10] So I’ll avoid much overlap with that sage. 

 

Like many of you, I’ve spent the last quarter of a century yelling at the TV or Internet: “You fools! Don’t you see that you could shoot down that BS with…” eliciting sighs from my ever-patient life partner. 

 

I’ve gone beyond shouting at the TV. Many of the ideas presented here appeared on my middling-popular Contrary Brin site, along with guest editorials, columns, interviews and podcasts. 

 

Still, folks kept chiding: “Books are what you’re known for, Brin. Compile your best postings. Get it out there!”

 

 

WHAT LIES WITHIN

 

Well okay, my regular publishers would be too slow for this election cycle, so it seemed best to release a quick e-book touching on many topics. We’ll spin from the war on science and fact (Chapter 5) to racism and immigration.

 

·      From electoral cheating and gerrymandering (Chapters 4 & 8) to the economy (Chapter 11), to forging a big-tent coalition.

 

·      From saving the planet to the right’s obsession with symbolism, to gun control.

 

·      From international relations and China and Russia (Chapters 9 & 18) to anti-government fetishism (Chapter 10) and our ongoing national family feud (Chapter 16).

 

·      From “exit strategies” – Impeachment, Indictment, the 25th Amendment and all that (skip to Chapter 16, if that’s all you care about) to overcoming “splitterism” (Chapter 12).

 

·      From conspiracies (Chapter 7) … to the poison used to suborn so many of our leaders… to the antidote that might save them and us (Chapter 8).

 

·      From ways we might all negotiate solutions off the hoary “left-right axis” (Chapter 13)… to resilience and readiness in case that fails.

 

·      and tactics, tactics, tactics that might - or might not - work. But shouldn’t someone at least try some of them?

 

 

  CAVEATS

 

As I said, this tome largely gathers - with updates and edits - separate postings from Contrary Brin, so do expect both gaps and repetitions. Likely a lot of the latter. Apologies for that –

 

– and for my inevitable failures at the ever-changing linguistic exigencies of our ongoing campaign for diversity, uplifting a crude civilization toward greater awareness, acceptance and tolerance. (See below.) I’ll commit errors of terminology, especially re: this year’s gender-and-category identification rules. Still, while this codger firmly rejects extrema of PC-bullying, let me avow to being an enthusiastic, lifelong fellow traveler in our unprecedented drive toward the kind of just and better future sometimes portrayed in science fiction. I mean well.

 

Why is so much of the ‘good stuff’ packed later in the book, like “impeachment” and other fierce tactics? Because I’m a pedantic twit and there’s a lot of stuff about history, science and even philosophy I want to get to first. I control the order of the table of contents. You control what you choose to read.

 

Finally yes, while most of the issues and points raised here are pertinent to any human society, especially those upholding enlightenment values, this volume is decidedly USA-centric. In a followup, I hope to show how these themes and crimes and counter-tactics have redolence around the globe. But in Volume 1, these chapters focus on a pivotal fight for the soul of the “American Experiment.” 

 

Friends out there, root for us – we still have a flawed-if-useful role to play. But carry on, if we fail.

 

Oh, for those readers who like to skim (I can get wordy and garrulous), go to later “pause” interludes where I try to distill down to zingers and one-liners. Above all, these political judo maneuvers aim to use the stratagems and momentum of today’s mad-right against them, helping us defend and revive the vital revolution that gave humanity its brightest hope. May some of our politician-paladins find weapons of practical value. 

 

The first of those pause riffs between chapters will focus on fundamentals that seldom get mentioned in our insipid “Left-vs.-Right” grunting and sumo-shoving matches. Some are traits that you and I share with a vast majority of our fellow citizens, even many on the other side… qualities that we might use to bridge the volcanic wrath now gaping between us. 

 

A wrath that all-too many of them have foolishly fallen for… but yes, in some cases so have I. And so have you.

 

As lusciously pleasurable as it can be, we cannot afford wrath. There’s too much at stake.  


==============
Addendum: TIME called EARTH one of eight best predictive novels of all time. Most of The Transparent Society has come true in incredible detail, from revenge porn to cop cams and cop-accountability to face recog to election interference. EVERY damn prediction in Polemical Judo is coming true and now everyone is crediting Kevin-freaking-Costner with "nailing" the role of postmen in our decisive choice versus prepper-traitor-solipsists.

Helkl, it's not as if I'm even asking for much. Just... maybe... listen a bit.  Even a little bit? Don't even give me credit! (Costner didn't!) Just... maybe give a guy some cred.


[1]  “Should Democrats Issue Their Own 'Contract with America'?” http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/contract.html  An aside: A few dems thought they were clever, calling Gingrich’s ploy a “Contract ON America.” Heh. A pathetically useless snark, it was diametrically opposite to ‘judo.’

 

[2] New York Times op-ed by David Axelrod, who was senior strategist for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign: “Let Trump Destroy Trump: The Democratic nominee, whoever it turns out to be, should use the president’s contortions and carrying-on against him.” https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/11/opinion/trump-2020.html

 

[3] Speaking of urgency, some of you desperately want to envision a quick way out of this torment. Chapter 16 talks about impeachment and all that. Of course much or he speculation may seem quaint, by the time you read these lines.

 

[4] Contrary Brin blog: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/

 

[5] https://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2016/11/07/trump-is-right-about-one-thing-the-economy-does-better-under-the-democrats/#5c12cf586786

 

[9] Time Magazine, re futurist books. http://time.com/5380613/books-predict-future/

 

[10] George Lakoff: https://georgelakoff.com/

 

69 comments:

Pachydermis2 said...

Salutations. Been gone a while....

Eventually the obligations of citizenship will require me to re-engage with politics but I hope you'll understand that it causes most of us a bit of indigestion. No, put this in the category of Old Business.

The aircraft carrier naming story.

One of my small pleasures is a great youtube site called Drachinifel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4mftUX7apmV1vsVXZh7RTw He's a Brit and covers naval history from the trireme onward with of course a particular fascination for WW I and WW II. Recently he ran a bit on Midway Class carriers and it actually helped explain the squirrely inconsistency in carrier names.

At first of course the names were not even "for" carriers.

Like most nations that are an amalgamation of stubborn minded states, it was common in earlier eras to name certain classes of ships after, say, States (battleships) and cities (cruisers). Remember that other than the Royal Navy (mostly) navies had to beg and plead for funding in peacetime. Good PR to get specific communities behind you. Often times there were fund raising drives and such.

As the Dreadnaught era came into thunderous being a new type of ship was created...the battlecruiser. So a new naming system was needed. Revolutionary War battles seemed a good idea, hence Saratoga, and Lexington were laid down. But the lessons of The Great War and the limits of subsequent treaties meant that aircraft carriers were more in demand, so Lex and Saratoga hulls were converted. But kept their names.

Oh, there was a bit of inconsistency. Langley was named after an aviation pioneer, but after all it was a converted collier. Ranger, Wasp, Hornet and Enterprise were all re-uses of past illustrious ship names, and there were others of note. But in general the Famous Battles theme carried right on through to 1945.

Then Franklin Roosevelt died. It was Harry Truman who started the tradition of naming carriers after Presidents with Naval backgrounds. (FDR famously being asst Sec of the Navy and having effectively run the outfit earlier in his career). The Franklin Roosevelt was supposed to be called the Coral Sea but that name got bumped to the next in the class.

One wartime exception to the Battles/famous earlier ships convention was the USS Shangri-la. When the Doolittle Raiders appeared out of nowhere to bomb Tokyo FDR was asked about the raid. He puckishly said they must have come from Shangri-la. It would probably have been better to have been honest, as the Japanese went on to massacre 250,000 Chinese civilians who were thought to have possibly assisted in the raid.

Well, enough history lesson for today.

Pac2

David Brin said...

The tradition of naming arriers for victorious battles got shifted to big marine assault ships like the Peleliu and Tarawa.

TCB said...

To be pedantic, those marine assault ships are named after big Marine Corps battles.

Which randomly reminds be of a great book about the USS Constitution which I once read, called A Most Fortunate Ship.

https://www.usni.org/press/books/most-fortunate-ship

The USS Constitution was involved in some CRAZY stuff during its early active career. For a time it had, as its figurehead, a bust of Andrew Jackson. Yea, really. The ship was based in Boston and he was not popular there. Somebody rowed out to Old Ironsides' mooring one night and sawed off Jackson's head. The head was the centerpiece at some very private dinners around Boston before being returned.

Before that, during the fights with Barbary pirates in and around Tripoli, a dozen men, Marines and sailors, were to row a boat full of gunpowder to blow up some shore fortification. A thirteenth man volunteered to go along for the ride. The launch left the ship, and almost as soon as it disappeared in the fog, blew up prematurely with all hands lost.

David Brin said...

I've watched a farir number of drachinifels. Have you watched Mark Felton's videos? The History Guy?

Tony Fisk said...

One of my small pleasures at one time was watching the Halo cutscenes. What impressed me were the poetic names used for space cruisers. Titles like 'Pillar of Autumn' and 'In Amber Clad' wouldn't be out of place in Star Trek. These seemed to come from the earlier games. The later ones went a bit more pompous for some reason with names like 'Infinity'.

Oh, I hear that US postal workers in Washington State are reinstalling sorting machines. Good.

On that note, I'll leave your Saturday evening with a juicy, and surprisingly honest, ad from (not) the 'US Postal Service'.

PS. I hope you're not getting too kippered over there. Australians know all too well what it's like!

Pachydermis2 said...

David

Yes, I have History Guy among my handful of Followed YouTube channels. But I find his delivery a bit off putting. I know he is trying to appeal to a digital generation but he's too frenetic at times.

I have an entire list of ship names - mostly recycled Royal Navy ones - ready should I in some future life be tasked with naming the ships of Star Fleet or its equivalent. I know we are supposed to be dyspeptically arguing about politics but perhaps people would like to suggest their names for our first 12 starships!

Pac2

Larry Hart said...

Jim Wright (Stonekettle) going under the knife. Seriously.

http://www.stonekettle.com/

...
It taken the doctors a while to figure it out. I've been scanned, X-rayed, probed, and had my blood tested in a dozen way.

Yesterday I finally got a definitive diagnosis.

The good news that it's fixable.

The bad news is that it's something that needs to be done right away, or it won't be fixable.

So, in a few days I'm going in for surgery. Should be fairly quick. Recovery should be relatively short, a day or two, and I'll be out of the hospital and back to work. Hopefully back to writing long form here in addition to my usual copious social media output.

That said, on the same day I'm scheduled for surgery, there are two hurricanes hitting the Gulf Coast because, of course, there are.
...

Larry Hart said...

It's about time to revive the scene from Miracle on 34th Street concerning the "Post Office Department".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOl19-30dPg

Trump is against Santa Claus!

Lorraine said...

What is it about the Pacific northwest? As I recall, The Postman was set in Oregon (southwest Oregon, but Oregon nonetheless), a state whose claim to fame today unfortunately seems to be a "Patriot" "Prayer" infestation.

Zepp Jamieson said...

The RNC Convention promises to be a complete turd fountain, but the Libertarians managed to make themselves even more ridiculous. The presidential candidate managed to end up in bed with the Boogaloos, a step above the National Man/Boy Love Association. As for Spike Cohen, the vice presidential candidate, "Cohen's platform, on which he ran, is perverse. It includes pleas to legalize recreational plutonium, construct a Waffle House on every corner, impeach the entirety of the Supreme Court's bench and replace the robed justices with a bib-overalled janitor, and go back in time to kill baby Woodrow Wilson." (American Thinker) Spike probably wrote for the Goon Show in a previous life.

It's frustrating that the Greens, who ran with a dim-witted dingbat named Jill Stein who managed to get tangled up with Vladimir Putin, has a solid candidate this time in the form of Howie Hawkins. Just about any other year I would be enthusiastically supporting him over Biden, but I can't this year. The stakes are just too high.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Lorraine: Yeah, the PNW (including Idaho, Montana and even BC) have more than its share of survivalists, Holmists, and other extreme right types. The Sovereign Citizen movement is big and a problem for law enforcements, including sheriffs who they regard as the only legitimate authority in America. Our own sheriff is aligned with them, and likes to preach about individual rights even as he fiercely enforces any law that limits marijuana cultivation and use. But even here, they are a small minority.

Jon S. said...

We're not all that proud of Oregon up here. The state started as a white-supremacist haven back in the 1880s, and frankly hasn't improved all that much since (despite Portland's rep for hippies - as you might surmise, from the fact that even today they're still called "hippies").

I don't think the Dems should do much about the RNC this particular year, at least not until after - current forecasts call for Tropical Storms Marco and Laura, possibly both strengthened to hurricane status by then, to hit the Gulf Coast with a one-two punch, Marco striking Texas on Wednesday and Laura following up in Louisiana on Thursday. Enough headlines will be taken from the Trump Self-Congratulation Tour 2020, although I'd wager the money I don't in fact have that Donnie won't be able to stop pontificating about himself long enough to actually help any of the affected (probably try to claim the whole thing is a Democratic hoax to steal his spotlight). Crowing on Donnie while all that is happening would seem, well, too opportunistic, I think.

Now afterward, when cleanup is in motion and the utter ineptitude of Trump's FEMA is on full display...

Alfred Differ said...

Oregon has its complexities much like California does. Fewer people, but built up through colonizing waves. Different attitudes arrived in different waves.

None of the western States are simple no matter how predictable they are in Presidential politics.

Larry Hart said...

Oh, and for any who aren't already intimately familiar with it, this is the scene which sets up that courtroom scene from Miracle on 34th Street posted above:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeqOkYDqNw8

Alfred Differ said...

Zepp,

Our Libertarian candidate is a fourth-ballot candidate. She and her people had to do a lot of fancy dancing and 'getting in bed with' to pull that off. She won no primaries until after the convention, not that we hold many. That means there were issues with each of our candidates and we had to choose one the old fashioned way at a convention.

When you attention a convention, you can't spit without hitting our gun fans. The Boogaloos are just some of them. I think of them as Confederates, though, and think the rest of us should just stick to that name. And yes... they are a faction. One of many.

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

current forecasts call for Tropical Storms Marco and Laura, possibly both strengthened to hurricane status by then,


We should call them Tropical Storm Laura Ingraham and Tropical Storm Marco Rubio, respectively (but not respectfully).

TCB said...

Honest US Postal Service Ad.

A German Nurse said...

@Pachydermis 2: "I know we are supposed to be dyspeptically arguing about politics but perhaps people would like to suggest their names for our first 12 starships!"

Some ideas: USS/ISS ...
...Kepler
...Bacon
...Galileo
...Armstrong
...Gagarin
...Curie
...Heisenberg
...Tombaugh
...Piazzi
...Cassini
...Einstein
...Hawking

David Brin said...

Bacon? Jim Gaffigan would sign on. Bacon!

David Brin said...

Sun Yatsen
ibn Battuta
Hiawatha
Amaterasu
Liberty
Sacagawea
Liliukaolani
Kamehameha! (You can't say his name without an exclamation point! Klingons would instantly surrender to a starship with that name.)
Aotearoa
Turing
Bolivar
Wangari Maathai

scidata said...

NOAA is struggling with only satellites, supercomputers, and science to model the impact of the Gulf hurricanes. Hopefully The Great One will apply his huge brain and sharpie skills to aid them in their efforts. We can only hope that Nebraska and Maine can escape the worst of it.

Larry Hart said...

Enterprise
Constitution
Discovery
Excelsior
Hamilton
LaFayette
Obama
Asimov
Bradbury
Cincinattus *
Streaker *
Progenitor *

* so sue me for pandering :)

Pachydermis2 said...

Enterprise (of course)
Endurance
McCauliff (lets celebrate the person not the tragedy)
And assuming French is still the official "language of diplomacy"
Libertas
Equitas
Fraternitas
Sororitas
Audacity
Pathfinder (as Pioneer has acquired some negatives)
Its hard to make the Russians happy but lets give them Rodina
Zeng He, after the famous Chinese admiral and diplomat. We'll ignore that court eunuch part of his bio.

With a few exceptions I'm more inclined towards "Personifications" than individuals. But just for fun I'll name one Brin and let Sergei, David and Benedetto (see submarine same name) duke it out for bragging rights.

Pac2

Daniel Duffy said...

From ST TOS

Constitution class starships

Constellation NCC-1017
Constitution NCC-1700
Endeavour NCC-1895
Enterprise NCC-1701
Essex NCC-1697
Excalibur NCC-1664
Exeter NCC-1706
Farragut NCC-1647
Hood NCC-1703
Hornet NCC-1868
Intrepid NCC-1631
Kongo NCC-1710
Lexington NCC-1709
Potemkin NCC-1657
Republic NCC-1371
Valiant NCC-1623
Yorktown NCC-1717
Eagle NCC-956
Defiant NCC-1764

Daniel Duffy said...

Someday in the far future one of mankind's starships has to be named "Thunder Child".

If only to scare the Martians.

TCB said...

We can't name a starship Heisenberg until there's a colony to smuggle blue meth to.
Others to consider:
Eratosthenes
Enheduanna
Hero of Alexandria
Stapledon
Tipu Sultan
Emperor Norton
Zheng He
and of course
Kon Tiki

David Brin said...

Apparently Kamala chose "Pioneer" as her SService monicker!

Pachydermis2 said...

Plus, the navigator of the TSS Heisenberg would never give you a straight answer about the ship's location.

Pac2

Larry Hart said...

I didn't know you could choose your Secret Service code name.

Do we know what Trump's is? Or Pence?

Larry Hart said...

Oh, and I should probably replace "Streaker" with "Tabernacle" in my list of starship names.

Jon S. said...

USS Thunderchild was an Akira-class escort in the 24th century; she was destroyed in the Second Battle of Chin'toka during the Dominion War.

In the timeline of Star Trek Online, she was honored as the namesake of the Thunderchild-class, an upgraded version of the old Akira with a fighter bay.

And yes, the damage capacity and survivability of a Thunderchild gave even the Klingons and the Jem'hadar pause. (Not that the Dominion was at war with the Federation at the time, and since that's a Tier 4 ship, most characters have gotten past the end of the latest Klingon conflict before taking command of one.)

USS Zheng He was an Inquiry-class cruiser, and led a fleet of Inquiry-class ships at the end of the Season 1 finale of Star Trek: Picard under the command of Capt. William Riker. (When Starfleet Command got Picard's distress signal, Riker pulled some strings to get his commission reactivated and get command of the rescue fleet. Riker was able to convince the Romulan Tal'Shiar fleet that was trying to destroy the world Picard was on to back away without firing a shot - by demonstrating that if he wanted to, he could eliminate them all with only minor casualties.)

The next ship I'll be acquiring in the game is awarded from the Summer Event, which takes place on Risa and grants a ship designed and built by Risians. The new ship is based on their weather-control fleet. I think I'll steal the name Emperor Norton from that list. :)

Larry Hart said...

Not quite surprising, but significant. Emphasis mine...

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2020/Pres/Maps/Aug24.html#item-1

...
he Republican Party has truly become the Trump Party.

To make that clear to everyone, the Republican Party has now formally decided not to have a platform this year. You know, the document where the Party states its principles and what it stands for. Not needed anymore. In the past the Republican platform has made clear it stands for the rule of law, free markets, fair and simple taxes, religious freedom, home ownership, entrepreneurship, the Second Amendment, banning abortion, fair elections, and much more. Here is the 2016 GOP platform. This time the Party simply said that it agrees with everything Donald Trump has said and will say. Who needs principles when you have Donald Trump?

Jon S. said...

There's an old story about Steven Seagal that's been making the Twitter rounds again recently, of the time he tried to claim that his mastery of aikido meant that he was immune to being choked out - and offered to let one of the stuntmen on the film he was working at the time, an MMA fighter, try. (Spoiler: aikido does not make one immune to strangling.)

We really need Biden's advisors to read Polemical Judo right now, because the RNC is doing their imitation of Seagal, literally inviting the Dems to choke them out and embarrass them publicly, and I'm not convinced the Dems have the toolset to take advantage of that opportunity yet.

jim said...

There is only one real starship and it is the Starship of the Imagination. It is likely the only way humans will ever go to other star systems. The great thing is you can give it as many names as you want.

(seriously, having humans travel to another solar system is almost impossible.)

A.F. Rey said...

And more concerning, Trump has declared that the only way he can lose is because the election was rigged.

https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/512424-trump-the-only-way-we-are-going-to-lose-this-election-is-if-the

“We have to win the election. We can’t play games. Go out and vote. Do those beautiful absentee ballots, or just make sure your vote gets counted. Make sure because the only way we're going to lose this election is if the election is rigged,” Trump told the group of supporters at the outdoor campaign event. “Remember that. It’s the only way we’re going to lose this election, so we have to be very careful.”

Anonymous said...


'The Postman' is ancient history, overdue for a re-write.

It was published in 1985, back when the US Postal Service was one of the last few respectable US governmental institutions and most mail carriers were male veterans.

The same year, AOL launched it's dial-up email, offering an instantaneous delivery service that no post office or postal employee could ever hope to match.

35 years later, the USPS has become an inefficient laughing stock, as out-dated as a gendered Mr. Zip, a telephone landline and the brick & mortar shopping center.

The postman is unloved, the USPS is near death, and only a geriatric few will mourn their passing.

matthew said...

A little observation from the USPS protest I attended in Beaverton, Oregon (a Portland suburb best known for the Nike campus, for those that are not up on west coast cities). We were on a very busy road around lunchtime and probably were seen by 5k or so people while I was there. Only a couple death threats this time, so that was an improvement over other protests.

But the real big difference was from construction-type work vehicles - at prior demonstrations like the ones around Trump's impeachment, construction-types were overwhelmingly pro-Trump (and the source of some of the shouted threats). But our save the USPS protest was met with lots of smiles, honks, and yells of support from them. Not one construction, or work type truck so much as grimaced at us. For hours.

Construction-worker types get a lot of their money via mailed paper checks, you see...

They are *pissed* about what is being done to the post office. Really, really pissed.

A.F. Rey said...

The postman is unloved, the USPS is near death, and only a geriatric few will mourn their passing.

Considering how many geriatrics rely on the USPS to deliver their medicines, we may end up morning them, too. :p

David Brin said...

jim, you would adore KS Robinson's novel AURORA.

Hey anonymous coward! You blame ME for the fact that we did not destroy our civilization in the 1980s and successfully went on to wonderful things? Like I DID predict accurately, in EARTH?

What a Schmuck. First for utterly missing the point of the story was about connectivity and courageous citizenship and second because the mail is EXACTLY how we'd begin rebuilding because we would NOT have the fancy stuff, at first.

Also there's a pasage in the book about exactly this. But you can diss, though can't read.

Finally, the USPS is adapting pretty well, givien its artificial constraints. Anti-government fanatics are as bizarro crazy as pro-government fanatics. We have plenty of evidence what government does well and what should be left to markets. And only imbeciles believe that question can be answered with a nostrum.

===

matthew, as the military noncoms, who had seemed a real danger to the mostly-loyal officer corps... would seem likely to have been dismayed by the Russian Bounty thing.

TCB said...

Addendum: the first spacecraft that can do twice light speed must be christened the Jonathan Swift, on account of Dublin its Travels.

TCB said...

Upthread, Anonymouse says: The same year, AOL launched it's dial-up email, offering an instantaneous delivery service that no post office or postal employee could ever hope to match.

I can tell you, as a letter carrier of a certain age, that I used to deliver incredible numbers of AOL installation disks. There's even a joke about them in a first-season Futurama episode about Earth being menaced by a garbage asteroid, along with Beanie Babies and Bart Simpson dolls. And, even today, it's often faster to send hard drives via freight than it would be to send that data over the cable. xkcd says: the bottom line is that for raw bandwidth, the internet will probably never beat SneakerNet.

David Brin said...

TCB absolutely not! Dublin the speed of light makes you a Dubliner so the ship's name should give you Joyce.

TCB said...

Hahahhah fair enuf but Swift was a Dubliner too, hence the joke.

The James Joyce would be the first craft that could circumambulate the cosmos in a day and a night.

Larry Hart said...

Don't know how much play the latest police shooting of a black man is getting nationally, but it's dispiriting how banal that activity is becoming. It's almost as if they are trying to enrage people into rioting so that Donald Trump can run on being the only ones who can save us from the protesters. A bizarre version of "stand your ground" in which we're expected to defend the perpetrators of violence out of fear of those roused to anger by that violence.

While this particular shooting was in Wisconsin, the victim was a native of my old home town of Evanston, Illinois.


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/24/us/kenosha-police-shooting.html

KENOSHA, Wis. — When Annie Hurst stepped outside her house on Sunday night, she saw something that made her scream.

Across the street, a police officer was aiming his gun at Jacob Blake, her neighbor, as he tried to get into his car with three of his children in the back seat. The officer grabbed him by his shirt and fired several times, shooting him in the back.

Within hours, graphic video of the shooting was racing across social media, and Kenosha erupted into protest, looting and fires downtown.
...

Jon S. said...

The USPS is in fact amazingly efficient; look how well it was able to perform even after the GOP insisted on prefunding the pensions for 75 years.

(Or ask our northern neighbors if they'd prefer their own mail system, or ours.)

Larry Hart said...

The one bit I wanted to see from the Republican Convention--the St Louis gun couple:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gK8P0vUQ4lg

...
"It seems as if the Democrats no longer view the government's job as protecting honest citizens from criminals, but rather protecting criminals from honest citizens."
...


Since by "criminals" he means those who exercise their First Amendment right to protest injustice, it would be more accurate to point out that it seems as if the Republicans no longer view the public's job as protecting innocent victims from injustice, but rather protecting the unjust from being called out by the public. Except that the "seems as if" is way too polite.

Also, don't miss the too-cute self-depreciating humor around 0:20 seconds in. The reason so many people offer her free advice on how to use a gun is that she obviously didn't have a clue and would have broken her wrist had she fired it. "Yay Second Amendment! Right to bear deadly arms without understanding them!"

#ThereAreNoGoodRepublicans

Larry Hart said...

On the lighter side...

Dr Brin:

Dublin the speed of light makes you a Dubliner so the ship's name should give you Joyce.


"Ich Bin Ein Dubliner"?

Larry Hart said...

Please explain to me again how "You have to be for something, not just against something." Running against the dystopia sure to be ushered in by Democrats seems to be enough, with the ironic twist that that dystopia we're supposed to fear if Democrats get control looks very much like Donald Trump's (and Mitch McConnell's) America does today. Their message seems to be "Four More Years, or else you'll get more of the same!"

https://www.chicagotribune.com/election-2020/ct-nw-rnc-night-1-takeaways-20200825-emjrels6qzg3pikjgqesphumz4-story.html

Trump complained last week that Democrats “held the darkest and angriest and gloomiest convention in American history.” But on opening night of their convention, Republicans are doing their share, spreading fear of a Biden victory on Nov. 3.

“Make no mistake: No matter where you live, your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America,” Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the St. Louis couple who pointed firearms at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their house in June, were to say.

Conservative activist Charlie Kirk warned the convention that a Trump victory was imperative to “ensure that our kids are raised to love America, not taught to hate our beautiful country.”

Trump, he added, “is the bodyguard of Western civilization.”

Tanya Weinreis, a small business owner, warned of “the terrifying prospect of Joe Biden.”

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott was to argue Democrats are campaigning on a “cultural revolution” for a “fundamentally different America.”
...

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/25/opinion/rnc-best-worst-night-1.html

There are three notable themes that emerged. One is that on the first day of the R.N.C. we witnessed a cult of personality that at times rivaled Jonestown, minus (thankfully) the mass suicide. The second was how fully the R.N.C. has embraced Trump’s inversion of reality. The bolder the deception, the better. Third, a relentless effort to portray Democrats not just as radical but malevolent, committed to destroying America and to relish doing so. The G.O.P. came across as one pissed-off party.


I know that political correctness (the Republican kind) requires the insertion of the parenthetical "(thankfully)" above, but I would have used "(if only!)" instead.

Tony Fisk said...

Looking through a compilation of RNC speakers, I got the impression of fear mongers warning about rampant drug abuse... dealers on every corner... parks overflowing with needles... marijuana...!

... then in floated Don Jr!

jim said...

Sorry Jon, but the legislative hit job on the post office was bipartisan.

Now the bill was sponsored by a Republican, but it passed in a lame duck session of congress in Dec of 2006 by voice vote. With a voice vote no one’s vote gets recorded. Any congress person could have requested “a division of the assembly” (a rising vote where each side rise in turn to be counted.) and if 20% of the members wish so they can demand a recorded voted. The democrats did not do either, they were fine with the new law. ( I would not be surprised if Biden voted for it.)

And by the time Obama was president the problem with the post office was well known and they could have easily fixed it if they had wanted to. Now David may whine that I am being unfair to the democrats but that is his soft bigoty of low expectations that allows him to excuse both the actions and inactions taken by Obama and the congressional democrats. It is kind of like how Obama had illegal immigrant children locked in cages and help start the disastrous civil war in Libya.

In other news it is becoming clear to a lot of people that neither side will accept the results of the election in November if they don’t win. We are trying to figure out what to do about our first non-peaceful transfer of power. I guess that now that we have left the Age of Abundance and entered the Time of Troubles these types of lose - lose situations are going to be much more common.

Larry Hart said...

Like Robin the Boy Wonder in the Batman tv movie, I thought I could just take a tiny peek at the RNC every so often, just to see when the gun couple might make an appearance. I couldn't keep watching, even for a few minutes. It made me physically ill.

I'm becoming convinced that we should let the Confederacy secede this time and just live with the fact that there are two Americas. Because there's no room for reasonable compromise or common ground with people who (maybe sincerely) believe that Democrats are in favor of crime and terrorism. Or that liberals hate America. Or that Donald Trump is capable of ignoring the comments that others make about him while valiantly forging ahead to do the right thing.

The whole idea of democracy depends on persuasion and consensus, not on opposing forces strategically eking out just enough individual votes in the right locations to be able to run roughshod over their opponents.

I feel that we're watching democracy die to thunderous applause.

Larry Hart said...

Stonekettle's medical misfortunes remind me of Alfred, and of the fact that he seems to have dropped off the radar. Hope that doesn't bide ill for him.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gK8P0vUQ4lg

around 3:40


...
But more than that, Trump's vision for America is one in which you have an opportunity to work hard,...and express your beliefs without retribution!


Like the opportunity that Colin Kaepernick has, you mean?

#ThereAreNoGoodRepublicans

Larry Hart said...

jim:

In other news it is becoming clear to a lot of people that neither side will accept the results of the election in November if they don’t win.


Nice attempt at bothsiderism. One side won't accept the result if it comes by obvious cheating. The other won't accept it if they're not permitted to cheat. Those are not equivalent positions.


We are trying to figure out what to do about our first non-peaceful transfer of power.


Considering that there is no "transfer" if Trump wins, that's the most optimistic thing I've ever heard you say. :)


I guess that now that we have left the Age of Abundance and entered the Time of Troubles these types of lose - lose situations are going to be much more common.


Today was one of my worst days of pessimism, when I was almost going to post the line from Commissioner Gordon when Mr Freeze had convinced everyone that Batman was on the take--"I never thought I'd say this, but like so many others, I'm afraid I've...lost faith in the dynamic duo." Luckily for me, jim always comes along to urge me by example how not to be like. Thanks.

TCB said...

@ Jon S., the prefunding requirement was taking a LOT Longer to kill the USPS than the Republicans expected and intended. In fact it was taking longer than ANYONE expected...

Truth told, I didn't know the postcard rate was .35 either; it's not printed on there, and I never needed to know. I take the Albert Einstein defense that "I do not clutter my brain with things I can easily look up."

Tennessee Dem congressman Jim Cooper asking the Postmaster General at Monday's hearing: "Mr. DeJoy, is your backup plan to be pardoned like Roger Stone?" Harhar, yes, if all else fails, but DeJoy doesn't admit that.

David Brin said...

While jim is wallowing in gloom-schadenfreude and hand-rubbing glee, I will confess that I agree with the assertion that both sides will scream if they lose.. One side out of insanity and the other with cause. But yes. Neither will accept the other's legitimacy and strife could result ... EXCEPT...that one outcome - a thorough electoral defeat for the Trumpists, up and down the ticket - would give license for a majority of Republicans to drop the cult and say "Who me? I was NEVER!"

In that case, the raw NUMBER of enraged violence seekers will be small, if likely un-mollified. Hence, Jim, if you want actual peace for you to glower from, you ought to actually get up off your lazy, fatuous butt and help.

Yes dems voice voted compliance with the 2006 bill. You are doing your cherrypicking thing again, ignoring the fact that they were psychotically and delusionally still trying to mollify and lure Republicans into negotiated deals. While yes, that was delusional, it is also understandable, and ignores utterly that you have never, ever, ever grappled with the facts that I presented here:

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2019/08/five-devastating-rebuttals-to-use-with.html

Larry Hart said...

It's interesting how one gets to "know" a writer he "converses" with on a blog like this.

The first time I read Earth way back in the 1990s, I wouldn't have got the significance of this line on page 377 of my paperback edition:

Taking into account other case studies in his file, this series of "coincidences" had gone well beyond happenstance into the realm of enemy action.

Zepp Jamieson said...

@Dr. I believe I mentioned this before, but I"m mindful of the fact that in the event of an electoral blowout, Trump's rabid supporters will vanish, much the way the Nazis in Germany did after April 1945. The allies, the Russians in particular, feared an underground forming, a resistance similar to that in France and western Russia, with ambushes, sabotage, and general fomenting.

Outside of a few isolated incidents, it never happened. I think a big part of it was that the truth of Hitler's crimes was shown to the general population of Germany. Most Germans didn't know about the death camps, all of which were outside of Germany, beyond horrid suspicions, most of which were dismissed as conspiracy mongering. Also, the allies brought some of the worst to trial, in fair and open cases.

That's how we defeat Trumpism. Fair justice, and a willingness to not punish the followers.

Larry Hart said...

I don't get it. How does pardoning a convicted bank robber speak to strength on criminal justice?

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/25/us/politics/trump-jon-ponder-pardon.html

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Tuesday pardoned a man convicted of robbing a bank in Nevada who now runs a nonprofit for prisoners, shortly before the Republican National Convention entered its second night.

The White House announced the pardon of the man, Jon Ponder, in a seven-minute video in which the president called Mr. Ponder’s life “a beautiful testament to the power of redemption.”

As Mr. Trump’s bid for re-election enters its last stretch, the announcement appears to be an attempt by the president to draw voters’ attention to criminal justice, a subject that he has promoted as a signature initiative of his time in office.
...


I mean, if I didn't know better, I'd say this sounds soft on crime:

...
“We believe that each person is made by God for a purpose,” Mr. Trump said in the video. “I will continue to give all Americans, including former inmates, the best chance to build a new life and achieve their own American dream, and a great American dream it is.”

The president has highlighted Mr. Ponder’s story in recent years, showering praise on him for using his Christian faith as a pathway for getting out of prison.
...


Oh, I see. He's white and Christian. That means instead of the death penalty, he deserves a chance to turn his life around and be a valuable citizen. And vote, I presume. Silly me, forgetting all the time who is bound by the law.

David Brin said...

"That's how we defeat Trumpism. Fair justice, and a willingness to not punish the followers."

It's the Lincoln tradition of beneficent conquest... though in that case slave owners should have forfeited 3/4 of any land they owned... 1/4 (first pick) going to the freedmen, 1/4 to an association of vertans and widows, and 1/4 to the state to fund schools & universities in lieu of taxes. How vastly better a nation...

But the saving grace of Woodrow Wilson was his international policies with the UK and France stupidly over-ruled.

The Japanese were stunned to be treated benevolently.

scidata said...

Either we all get to the stars or none of us do. That's just biology. Humanity can speciate, but it can't 'self-purify'.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I sometimes wonder how much grief this country might have been spared had Lincoln not been assassinated. Thaddeus Stevens and his crowd all but ensured that Reconstruction would fail.

Alfred Differ said...

jim,

...and help start the disastrous civil war in Libya.

ha ha ha ha!

Start it? Pfft!
Horseshit.

Larry Hart said...

I see there are limits on "law and order".

https://www.yahoo.com/huffpost/portland-police-far-right-proud-boys-094500346.html?.tsrc=daily_mail&uh_test=1_02

It’s common to see far-right extremist groups like the Proud Boys exchanging blows with counterprotesters in Portland. They’ve been doing that for years, often as PPB officers watched until a riot was officially declared and then police cleared the streets using tear gas and other munitions.

But over the weekend, police took an entirely hands-off approach to the fighting, even as the demonstrations grew more violent than ever. As officers stood by on Saturday, the Proud Boys and their far-right friends attacked and intimidated anti-fascist protesters using paintball guns, mace, fireworks, aluminum bats and various firearms, according to The Washington Post.

One of them — notorious Proud Boys organizer Alan Swinney — was seen pointing a gun at protesters, his finger on the trigger. Another Proud Boy, Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, was present, per the Post, in apparent violation of his parole over an attack at a similar demonstration in 2017 (he wasn’t apprehended on Saturday, but a judge on Monday issued a warrant for his arrest).

Meanwhile, over a loudspeaker, police encouraged those present to “self-monitor for criminal activity.” In essence, the PPB had thrown up its hands.

In a statement to The Washington Post, the bureau said that officers were tired from responding to ongoing demonstrations against racism and police brutality, which have kept Portland in the national spotlight for weeks. Officers wouldn’t intervene in small skirmishes between “willing participants,” even if the clashes fit the city’s definition of a riot.
...

Robert said...

The police aren't allowed to attack the protestors, so they stand off and let them be attacked by militias? Is that what's happening?

David Brin said...

The new Blogger interface is weird. There were five comments queued including one from jim accusing me (fair enough) of falsely saying he has hand-rubbing glee over a coming collapse. Let me rephrase it. Call it sadly-resigned-wisdom-to-proclaim-the-inevitable. It is arguable tat the two can overlap in the multi-tiered minds of many people. But I suppose it was unfair for me to impute that overlap based on jim's relentless, headshaking jeremiads.

But I clicked okay to post the comment and I don't see it here. I am not censoring you, jim. Maybe it's over-reacting to the settings that have successfully dumped all feigned IDs used by some of our past trolls.

Larry Hart said...

Intentionally double-posting on both comments sections..

@Dr Brin,

You never posted an "onward" to your Chapter 1 blog, so some of us were still posting there, while others were already on Chapter 2. I think the "missing" comments from jim posted on Chapter 2's comment section.

David Brin said...



AH LH thanks Silly me. I only helped invent a lot of this stuff. But I get senior moments of cluelessness. I hope you guys have been enjoying discussion under the earlie blog. I got a gist of 1st sentences in moderating. But it's onward time again.