Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Hey Joe! You can shatter all their plots with one tool. One offer, in one speech. (The Blackmail and Henchmen chapter.)

Sorry, I've fallen behind my twice weekly schedule to post these chapters of POLEMICAL JUDO.... tied up in meetings of NASA's Innovative and Advanced Concepts program (NIAC), and re-issuing both my Out Of Time series of YA novels and Colony High!  But I haven't forgotten the crisis we are in. 

First though, if you are actually a person who reads... This cogent article details at least two dozen ways the coming election might be messed-with by those who are desperate for democracy to fail.

As it happens, today's posting of Chapter Eight is all about the only possible solution. One that either Joe Biden or some democracy-loving zillionaire could implement in ten minutes, just by issuing a statement!  Alas, it is 2020 and people don't read anymore. (Did you intend to read this chapter in its entirety? Of course not.)  Hence, I'll summarize the gist right now:

Joe might say: "None of the plots against American democracy can succeed if enough light shines upon them. So I call upon the henchmen... the helpers or hirelings, or those who have been blackmailed, coerced or bribed! This is your moment to step up and be heroes! Collect evidence and spill it now, while there's time for it to get independently confirmed. And if your information makes a real difference, I promise you this --

"When I am president, I will appoint a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that will look into

every credible story or accusation... yes, those made against Democrats too, including me! Eminent Republicans will be asked to serve and retired senior judges and military officers and respected scholars and clergy. And -- solely upon their recommendation -- I will consider clemency - full or partial - for those who do more good with light, than they ever did harm in shadows.

"I offer this especially to those who live in fear of blackmail coercion or who are restrained by NDAs. This may be your chance to escape those traps and gain fresh esteem as a hero! You can find details at my website. But in fact, shouldn't your greatest reward be to do the right thing? Do it now! Gather evidence. Expose crooks and traitors. Our nation has always been the one - across all the annals of history - that did best in sunlight."

To which some patriotic zillionaire might add:  "Without consulting the Biden campaign or any other, I will now add a further incentive! A million dollar prize - plus protection for a year by a top bodyguard service - to those five whistleblowers, or former henchmen, or blackmail victims who step up with solid evidence and proof of the worst current plot against American democracy."

Why is this obvious step so counter-intuitive? Shouldn't it be obvious? 

Okay, let's get on to Chapter 8 of Polemical Judo, Where you'll see how long I've recommended this very thing! But for those who stick with it to the end... I'll offer a final recommendation that would help Joe Biden crush it, at the coming debates!

==================================================================

 This Chapter began in 2008 as a posted danger-warning[1] to congressfolk who were newly elected that year, but it grew in scope and universal relevance. In fact, I’ve felt guilty for not pushing the alert harder. It is my chief reason for putting together a collection and book. And yes, it segues directly off the previous chapter on conspiracies.

We all think we have the world sussed, seeing things that others don’t. As an author of techno-thrillers I’m pretty well-informed about dangers looming ahead. But our biggest threat may be as old as civilization itself. 

 

  

Chapter 8 of Polemical Judo

 

Poison and Antidote – 

Blackmailers, Henchmen and Whistleblowers


 

A LITTLE BACKGROUND

 

All of you enthusiastic neophytes to national power – this may be the very moment for a little protective paranoia. Always remember that some powerful people will see you as a threat to their interests. Some of the more unscrupulous may seek to neutralize that threat, using classic methods, known across history. One of the most basic ancient techniques – going back to biblical times – has been entrapment and blackmail.

 

Remember the U.S. Marine guards at our embassy in Moscow, some decades back? It all started when a few boys – lonely and far from home – were invited to party with some local “students.” A little alcohol, then sex with local hookers... were followed by a drug high or two... and a few lewd pictures... then some incriminating ones...

 

At any point, early on, those young men could have saved their own lives and served their country, simply by turning themselves in. The first to do so might even have saved his career. Others could have escaped with minor punishments. Instead, alas, they let themselves be blackmailed, by gradual stages, into doing the KGB “just a couple of harmless favors”...

 

... relatively harmless, at first. Xeroxing a few embassy visitor lists. Penny-ante stuff. Only then, the Soviets had real dirt on the poor fellows. Proof of espionage that could produce real prison time. And meanwhile the girls and drugs kept coming. Plus flattery. ("You are special, James Bond types – above normal loyalties and laws." Very similar patterns of ego-milking helped to suborn the Walkers and that dismal FBI agent, Hanssen.) Soon, those marines were trapped. Fully in the pockets of their nation's enemies, they were betraying really harmful secrets.

 

DO YOU DOUBT IT STILL GOES ON?

 

Security experts and intelligence agents know all about this process, which has been used by kingdoms, empires, syndicates and unscrupulous groups since time immemorial. Indeed, all through World War Two and the Cold War, it was a key job of counter-intelligence professionals to watch carefully for hints of subornation. They collected and correlated patterns of travel, or unaccountable wealth, or crony-favoritism, keeping a wary eye open for anything consistent enough to merit closer scrutiny.

 

So now? Does it really matter that our roster of “enemies” has changed a bit? The KGB is “gone.” But there are others – some of them heirs of past enemies, employing the very same agents and methods – who do not want our civilization to thrive. Or who would influence our top decision-makers in order to be better parasites. Anyone who thought this classic danger ended with the Cold War has to be titanically naive.

 

Moreover, consider this: Bribery is actually far less efficient and reliable than blackmail!

 

If you bribe an official or legislator or bureaucrat, they may demand more next time. Or else say “I helped you enough this year.” But blackmail puts them in your pocket for good. It transforms the relationship, making him or her less a business associate and more the blackmailer’s personal servant.

 

Has this scenario already been in play, among members of the present ruling caste?

 

Of course, the imagination can run wild – colored by your degree of paranoia and your personal politics. (How else would you explain some decision patterns, in recent years, that seem relentlessly to benefit just a few hostile interest groups, over and over again, at great cost to the general commonwealth? Always start by listing the big winners.) [3]

 

No, I won't go into detail here as to who I think may be orchestrating present day attempts at subornation. Nor does that matter, since no one can point to a single era of history when it did not happen.

 

We are better off assuming the tradition goes on. And that some enemies of our republic, our civilization, and the Western Enlightenment are doing it right now.

 

 

THE WARNING APPLIES TO YOU

 

Oh, especially you incoming Democratic lawmakers and staffers, don't be fooled by the fact that most of the known American traitors, across the last 40 years, were Republicans![4] (e.g. the Walkers, Hanssen, Manafort[5] etc.) Democrats are fallible, corruptible and human, too! Indeed, there may be forces at work in DC, right now, who aim to test this methodology on the newest players in that wild and ethically-challenged town.

 

Even veteran Democratic representatives may need to heed this warning, because only now have they become more interesting targets for subornation.

 

Moreover, while the main topic of this open letter (and the book) is political subornation, can anyone doubt that even greater efforts have gone into the commercial kind? Rivals and predatory arbitrageurs – both domestic and foreign – have a long history of targeting human weakness in the executive suites and research labs of competitors. It ranks among the top methods for intellectual property theft

 

Even if I am exaggerating the current extent of suborned betrayal within the many branches and agencies, corporations and media that make up the American Establishment, this warning stands, because it will always be a danger. A peril that can turn almost any friend of our civilization into a snake, dwelling in its heart.[6]

 

Hence, let me offer a little advice to all loyal Americans – whether Republican or Democrat or independent entrepreneur – who may be embarking upon careers along avenues of power.

 

 

TAKE SIMPLE PRECAUTIONS

 

Consign yourself to live a super-clean life. Become a personal prude. Back away from temptations, even if they take place in the apparently secure confines of (say) a billionaire’s yacht or on a private estate,[7] or a royal palace in some foreign land.

 

Especially in those environs! Because those may be the very people who would like to “own” a representative or bureaucrat. The more flattering and friendly and ego-stroking they may seem – assuring you of secure and private pleasures – the stronger the possibility that the very walls may have cameras. Aimed in order to guarantee that you will remain a valued friend.

 

Hire a good professional paranoid for your staff. Someone who knows all about these nasty tricks and who can spot bait-lures on the horizon. Likewise, have a truly wise confidant – someone not on your payroll – to whom you can turn when temptation comes your way. And don't entirely trust either of them.

 

Have a scenario-plan worked out, for when you are approached with either a potential entrapment or a follow-up blackmail threat. Those first instants of surprise and confusion could be critical. If you are prepared (especially technologically), you may be the one to turn the tables on your persecutors... and thus do your nation a service out of all proportion to any “goods” that the bad guys have on you.

 

Indeed, talking this over among yourselves, you may also be well served to look into whether agencies like the FBI may offer pre-training services and even some technology, empowering you and others like you to act decisively and confidently, when and if such a time comes. (And if they don't offer such services, ask why not.) 

 

Indeed, if you make it openly clear that you are wary, it may keep such plotters away.

 

Contemplate the algebra of forgiveness. Some of you reading this may have already tumbled over the edge. It may have happened to you – some moment of weakness or falling into temptation. Perhaps even blackmail based upon faked photos or videos, or something you never did! (A modern problem that I discussed way back in the last century, in both Earth and The Transparent Society.)

 

Maybe you’ve been on a hellish spiral for years, hating yourself...

 

...or else rationalizing that you’re now serving a superior side. That's what human beings often do. Even the worst traitors seldom view themselves that way. Blackmailers are often supremely good flatterers.

 

However it has come down, consider this: It's never too late to do the right thing. 

 

Consider the following… then ponder it again. Then contemplate. 

 

If the subornation process that I describe has been going on in a systematic and pervasive way, polluting our institutions and corrupting our trusted public servants, how do you think history will view the first of you to show some guts? The first to stand and fight back?

 

If you do it with savvy and skill, somehow turning the tables on your blackmailers – as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos arguably did[8] - can you even doubt that your nation will value that service, far higher than it disdains your original, disreputable deeds? 

 

I know I will! I’ll fight for you, and so will millions of others.

 

Help foster a civilization that rewards openness and forgiveness. This is a long term goal. But if we keep making progress toward a civilization that has a sense of proportion about lesser human failings, then we may neutralize many situations that were, or remain, “blackmailable.” 

 

Little sexual lapses should matter less than graft and treason, for example.[9] (But remember, once you are blackmailed for the one, you may then be pushed to commit the latter, and be blackmailed for that!)

 

In any event, we all need to help foster trends toward a nation and a world where people will feel safe to own up to their faults, rather than feeling terrified that their smaller slips and faults will doom their hopes. We should not be led by folks who are afraid of light.

 

 

WHISTLEBLOWERS, HENCHMEN, 

AND OUR ULTIMATE VICTORY CONDITION

 

Pausing here in this chapter’s “open letter to a politician” motif, I’ve repeatedly hectored many of our top defenders to step back and consider what might be the long-range victory condition for our kind of civilization. Not just the USA, but for any species that aims for justice, integrity, progress, accountability… and the stars.

 

It’s easy to see that victory condition if you recognize one simple truth. All of our deadly foes, who wish us harm, are lethally allergic to light.[10]

 

Bearing that universal in mind, it is clear that the long range victory condition for our kind of civilization is a future world that’s filled with open-fair competition, calm negotiation, but above all… light.

 

Of course this relates to our current topic – blackmail and other kinds of secretive coercion. I have already spoken of whistleblower protection and rewards, in Chapter 5’s section on “The Fact Act” and in Chapter 7’s riff on conspiracies. We’ll return to the topic again and again, because no form of light can be more effective than revelations from dark corners. That’s why I have long urged a Henchman’s Law to help protect those who do this.[11]

 

Moreover, some private, patriotic zillionaire might get it all rolling by offering a set of prizes – perhaps $5 million – for some employee of, say, a corrupt voting machine manufacturer who comes forth with proof. And if proof doesn't appear, you don't pay! (But instill fear in those bastards.) If you do wind up paying, you become a hero for saving the nation.[12]

 

As we go back to my “open letter,” just keep in mind – light is the one cleanser that every kind of filth – in and out of our society fears most.

 

 

PICK THE ULTIMATE WINNER: CIVILIZATION

 

The crux? Consider again: blackmailers love to give their victims a sense of helpless isolation. But the sickness may be far more pervasive than you imagine! And spreading. For it is the nature of evil men that they are insatiable. They will keep trying whatever has worked in the past, casting their nets wider and wider, under an illusion that the good times can go on forever...

 

... until, at last, they try these tricks on people with the courage, wit and patriotism to fight back. At which point, the whole vile deck of cards may come tumbling down.

 

Where will you be, when that happens?

 

According to the algebra of redemption, only the first to blow the whistle will be heroes, forgiven all, rewarded with everything. After them will come the most agile rats, abandoning a sinking ship, tattling and pointing fingers in exchange for clemency...

 

...and the last to come out will be hung.

 

Again, if you are already caught in this mesh, they want you to think you are alone. But there are likely hundreds, even thousands of others, any one of whom may suddenly erupt with conscience, patriotism and courage. History shows that this kind of thing is never stable. Either it will result in democracy being thoroughly corrupted and destroyed... as happened many times...

 

... or else such schemes will collapse, as American and Enlightenment civilization continues its inexorable progress toward an open and transparent and accountable society. In the first of these two eventualities, you may thrive, having sided with the new masters. But you will know (deep inside) that you helped to end the Great Experiment. May it gnaw your guts.

 

But suppose what happens is the second outcome. (I have reason to believe it.) Then cowards who let themselves be blackmailed or cozened or suborned or bribed or flattered into treason will eventually be brought to light. And they’ll be sorry.

 

Either way, you can see what’s at stake. So be careful. Take precautions. Cut through the rationalizations. Keep your eyes open.

 

- Oh, one final point: If you seek the people's trust and are granted political power, that makes you a soldier: Live with it. 

 

We are a civilization that’s at war for its very survival. Moreover, “terrorists” are among the most pallid and laughable of our enemies.[13] There are worse threats to the continuation of our Great Experiment in open civilization, in science and democracy, in social mobility, in truly free-creative markets and a joyfully open mix of competition and cooperation.

 

None of those great things can work well in darkness, manipulated by cheaters.

 

Stand up. Know what the enemy can do. And deny them the power.



======================================================================

Lagniappe concerning the coming 2020 presidential debates:  Of all my scores of suggestions, someone get this one to Biden! 

At the debates, when Trump assails Joe's supposed physical or mental problems or being "drugged," Biden should say: 

"Mr. President we both have Secret Service details waiting just outside. Both details have qualified doctors, EMTs and nurses. Let's invite them into this auditorium RIGHT NOW to take blood samples, witnessed on live TV, and have the samples submitted to three different labs for a full workup. My tests won't be perfect, but I am happy to clear the facts for the American people. I am rolling up my sleeve, right now. Have you the guts to do the same?"
Even if Trump is NOT medically shaky (and of course he is) he would likely be terrified of needles. Bets?

If you see a common thread in all of this. Yes. It is light. We are the side of light. They stand for darkness in every conceivable way. I stand ready to take wagers on that.

======================================================================


[1] “Political Blackmail: The Hidden Danger to Public Servants.” http://www.davidbrin.com/nonfiction/blackmail.html

 

[2] Note that government officials are far from the only people available as targets! Anyone in command of critical infrastructure is on the list. Power plant operators. Commercial IT providers. Website gurus. News organizations. Indeed one of the most chilling predictive novels of science fiction – The Cool War, by Frederik Pohl, foresaw an attrition campaign of reciprocal sabotage that could – short of nuclear conflict – grind all sides down to poverty. Highly recommended. The book, not the war.

 

[3] How innocent this 2007 posting seems, posing this question as theoretical! That we are seeing this program implemented on a massive scale, in 2019, seems beyond any question or doubt.

 

[4] And nearly all of the major-predator sexual perverts, from Dennis Hastert to Roy Moore and so many of those with squelched National Enquirer articles in David Pecker’s safe. That safe – plus the blackmail files of Jeffrey Epstein and his madam – constitute troves that – if leaked – might inconvenience many top players, but also offer America and the world a cleansing.

 

[5] Inserted during revision for the book version: convicted traitor Paul Manafort stands in here for what appear to be scores of suborned or complicit or blackmailed Republican leaders or factotums, including (likely) a famously retired jurist.

 

[6] Oh, the connections I have made with my own ‘chart of yarn’! I’ll not publish any of that here, for many reasons, including the insurance policy of my own reveal-on-my-death cache. And because disproved libels could (rightfully!) ruin a fellow who is so rash as to to point fingers at individuals. Anyway, this book is filled with more than enough stuff to act upon, already.

 

[7] Was this 2007 paragraph prophetic, in light of the Jeffrey Epstein case? No. It was obvious.

 

[8] The best recent example, though hard to emulate, was billionaire Jeff Bezos, who defied his would-be extortionists and turned the tables on them. And yes, he’s the world’s richest man, so it was fairly risk free. Still, it’s behooved on folks like that to point out the way. There are many tales of French officials who – shown photos of their infidelity in Moscow, have snarled. “You call zees photography? Let’s try again.”

 

[9] For a century, prejudice against homosexuals was justified by declaring they were vulnerable to blackmail. How many decades and ruined lives passed, before the answer to that circular “logic” became obvious?

 

[10] I do not include as “foes” regular business or cultural rivals. May they compete and prosper in positive-sum ways, alongside us.

 

[11] https://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2012/10/attention-henchmen-voting-machines-and.html?fbclid=IwAR0BWXJYHp_Cr6w_0fpIVskBuwQL0kkBcXqCmsj-_Afo_EmfoUCPUrugzp8

 

[12] Something like it was tried, briefly and without much fanfare – or enough money – in the wake of the November 2016 election. http://www.protectourelections.org/2016/11/17/one-hundred-thousand-dollar-reward-offered-for-evidence-of-election-fraud/

 

[13] Comments Republican Pat Scannell, on critiquing this project: “I’ve always been amazed at our outsized quest for security.  We won’t spend $100M in civilization building efforts, but we’ll spend $1 trillion in response to 19 guys with box cutters.  We struggle to pay $3K/years in pre k per student, but we have no problems spending $60K/year to incarcerate them later.  We lock down our schools, thinking it has made them safe from school shooters, but those efforts, like TSA, are more theater for our concerns – the generation of an artificial narcotic (and fake) sense of security, to quiet the cognitive discontent we have that we are insecure.  Better, as Alan Watts says, to have the wisdom of insecurity, and an accurate view of balanced risks, which in the end, are far cheaper bets than the costs of trying to secure ourselves against all risks.”

 

96 comments:

Acacia H. said...

I'm not sure if offering Whistleblower incentives will change the path things are taking right now. Dr. Brin. I mean, Donald Trump stated outright that there would be no transition of power and that he wanted to ignore the ballots. If the Conspirator-in-Chief outright admits malfeasance and remains protected by the Republican Party... then having people come forward at this point will change nothing.

It's obvious that blackmailers have suborned just about every Republican Senator. If Putin himself came forward and said "we bought Donald Trump and he is our lackey, right Donald?" and Trump immediately followed up with "Yes, Putin bought me, I'm working for him" you would not see many of his supporters turn away... and the Republican Party will remain by his side.

At this point I honestly believe there is going to be significant bloodshed in the streets during and after the election, with a lot of the police turning against the Democrats and relying on Republicans for legal protection while ensuring Trump's coup be successful. The military itself has stated it will not step in. So it's going to be the next part of the American Civil War... with widescale death occurring in a number of cities and most likely boiling over with rural people waging their own war on their neighbors.

I hope I'm wrong. But the police have shown time and time and time again that peaceful demonstrations will be met by violence... even if you have white mothers and grandmothers on the front lines.

Acacia

David Brin said...

Crickey, Acacia. We have already peeled away enough folks from the confederacy that only cheating will save them from a blood bath. Peeling away works! One more half-million and all efforts at cheating will be as useful as an empty codpiece. And that last half million CAN be swayed by a wave of new proof and light. Why else would the goppers be so desperate to prevent exactly that?

Oh, we seem to have had a drive by under a previous posting after "onward." Was it the last one? Anyone care to practice your "wager demand" chops on the guy?

Here again is my standard dare:

STANDARD PASTE-IN RE WAGER TERMS: Again, here’s my challenge of bets and wagers that reveal the utter cowardice of the fact-free MAGA right blowhards. Have your lawyer write to me confirmation that you’ve escrowed $10,000 for wagers on things like ocean acidification or party differences in budget deficits or moral turpitude in red vs. blue states or outcomes for capitalism. Or ratios of half-truths and lies versus verifiable assertions on Fox vs. Say CNN. Once the stakes are escrowed then -- and only then -- will I deem it worth my time to deal with the squirming and writhing to evade clear wager metrics and to evade setting up a panel of retired senior military officers to adjudicate.

Till I receive that missive from a reputable attorney, the record is clear. I offered manly wagers of actual facts... like the clear fact that Ocean Acidification is just one of countless metrics proving climate change is a deadly threat to our ecosystem and to our children, but OA is something we can measure ourselves and has no squirm allowance since it CAN only have come from human carbon emissions, including methane vented illegally at the compliance of the Republican Party, thus directly threatening the lives of our descendants. BET ME ON THAT! Or which party puts the brakes on wild government deficits vs. stomping the accelerator. Or actual measurable economic outcomes. http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html

How about the “deep state”? I’ll bet you have ZERO credible evidence for a vast conspiracy across the quarter of a million skilled, professional men and women in the intel agencies, FBI and military officer corps – that defeated Hitler, stymied Stalin, thwarted Mao and got bin Laden! But suddenly they are a dark conspiracy because they say your cult is laying down for a slightly relabeled KGB and Vlad “I loved the USSR!” Putin.

Let’s sample some fact’s I’ll assemble: The job growth (measured for non-farm payrolls) under the Reagan administration averaged 168,000 per month, versus 216,000 for Carter, 55,000 for H.W. Bush, and 239,000 for Clinton. Measuring the number of jobs created per month is limited for longer time periods as the population grows. To address this, we can measure annual job growth percentages, comparing the beginning and ending number of jobs during their time in office to determine an annual growth rate. Jobs grew by 2.0% annually under Reagan, versus 3.1% under Carter, 0.6% under H.W. Bush, and 2.4% under Clinton. Yes, that sort of thing. Or let’s compare deficits, or red vs blue state rates of entrepreneurship, STDs, domestic violence, teen pregnancy, gambling and yes … abortion. Abortion goes DOWN under Democrats, you stunning-lying fool-hypocrites!

Wanna go all QAnon on us? Let’s wager over which party has a higher rate of horrific pedophile monsters in its elected political caste! I’ll pay if it’s LESS than 2:1 Republican.

Let’s randomly pick ANY TEN Trumpian lies from his registered list of 30,000.

They caper and shriek and howl and writhe and jiggle about and curse and yowl... but they never stand still and stand up to settle it like men. Because they are teeny-balled Putin-servicers. Haters of every fact-centered profession. Oh, and traitors. That too.

Alfred Differ said...

duncan, (from the last thread)

Bit like the investigation for gaining security clearance

Heh. Sounds like a neat idea... until you get to know how those investigations actually work. I had to write out all my relatively close contacts going back N years so they could go meet them and ask questions. The minimum for N is 5 years for a Secret clearance. Good luck with that when it comes to politicians.

I have NO IDEA how they manage to clear the folks in Congress who get to screen intelligence briefs, but some of them shouldn't be trusted with a burnt match.

There is currently a huge backlog with investigations. It takes an army to keep our civil service properly staffed. I'm not kidding.

Then there is the not-so-tiny issue of information security. If you aggregate it for an investigation, it WILL leak. My particulars are known to every Chinese and Russian agent who cares to know because OPM got breached. VERY annoying. If I had legislative powers, I'D DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Heh. What I'd do would scare the piss out of people though. Partially because I agree with our host. Best learn to cope with it being public, but I'd rather our government didn't facilitate identity fraud and blackmail projects while we learn.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Well, you vote for the party you have, not the party you wish you had.

Heh. Not all of us. Some of us leave.
Sometimes on friendly terms. Sometimes not.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Oh, and traitors. That too.


Well, if they are actual Russian trolls, then technically they are not traitors. To their own country, I mean.

Larry Hart said...

There's a reason I wanted to re-read A Tale of Two Cities in these times. The escalation in number of protest events and the escalating aggressiveness of such events reminds me of the book's depiction of the time leading up to the French Revolution.

I know many here are concerned--with good reason, and a concern I share--that police and military forces would act on the side of a Republican coup. But I wonder if we might also reach a tipping point as in the book wherein the rank and file become part of the movement, and the commanding officers either get on board or risk outright mutiny. As in the scene in which an armored garrison is asked for help saving a burning chateau, and the commander intones (with an eye on his men), "It must burn."

I'm also reminded of a scene in, of all things, Ayn Rand's We The Living depicting the era of the Russian Revolution in which a communist activist jumps into the trench with Royalist soldiers and immediately preaches at them to join their comrades in throwing off their chains. One officer attempts to order the soldiers to shoot the guy, at which point the other officer shoots his fellow dead so as not to risk the wrath of those under their command.

Robert said...

I wonder if we might also reach a tipping point as in the book wherein the rank and file become part of the movement

Ah, but which movement? I have the impression that the rank-and-file of both your military and your police are rightward of their leadership. (And you seem to have paramilitary units that are basically operating without much oversight —ICE, DHS, etc — against what passes for the left in America.)

Who was it who said that the TVs of military non-com ready rooms are tuned to Fox?

Howard Brazee said...

I've never believed the movies like The Rock, and Die Hard 2, where big groups of "good" people are instantly willing to kill lots of innocent people.

The trick to corruption is to start small. For instance, when an accused rapist gets off with what some people call a technicality, a mobster can tell a cop to stay away from a block. When that accused person gets beat up at that block, the corruption has started.

It's not hard at all to start our corruption.

scidata said...

My wife has forbidden me from watching any more American news, so I'm even more ignorant on these matters than usual :)

So, on to the SF front.
The last page of the September issue of "Communications of the ACM" has a very short story that manages to encompass SETI, Turing, tiny snippets of entangled data/code (the hallmark of FORTH), and epic change. I wrote a much longer story with some of the same ideas last year, of course never publishing or even posting it. It's now on a computer I took apart and stored in the basement. My grampa (the machinist who worked his fingers to the bone against the Luftwaffe) used to advise: If you have something to say, say it. Tomorrow may be too late.

Larry Hart said...

...And to those who say I've got it backwards--that it's the white supremacists and Christianists who will suborn the police and who the commanders will have to defer to, yes, I understand it could happen that way too. Probably not where I live, but more likely where my brother lives.

I can only say that if that is the case, then nothing we're debating here matters anyway. Because then, it's not a matter of what happens if Trump wins or if Trump loses. We're going to have to be prepared to have that fight in either case.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

"Well, you vote for the party you have, not the party you wish you had."

Heh. Not all of us. Some of us leave.


Heh. Ok, point taken.

But the party you wish you had doesn't win elections. And in our current system, that vote does more harm than good vis a vis your desired outcome. I don't mean "you" you, but as a general statement. A third party vote instead of a vote for the lesser of two evils helps the greater of two evils.

I guess it comes down to just how much greater the greater of two evils actually is. In 2000, I voted for Gore, but when Bush was crowned, it was more of an "Oh well" to me. That would change later, but at the time I felt like Bush was only somewhat worse than Gore. This time (and last time) it's different. A Trump victory is existentially evil. The lesser of two evils seems angelic next to that.

Alfred Differ said...

Well... choosing the lesser of TWO evils doesn’t help the greater evil. Choosing the lesser of N evils can when N>2.

Yah. Nit picky math guy here. I get what you intended though. I like ranked choice voting ideas. However I will forgive third party choosers when they see two roughly equal evils. We don’t get to tell them how to judge. We just have to try to persuade them.

David Brin said...

Sure, Alfred. Except for Florida and Wisconsin etc. If the Greens don't openly bow out in swing states and endorse Biden just there, then they are traitor asses who deserve not even a scintilla of respect and may even be on Moscow's payroll. Or blackmailed by the KGB. No less.

Acacia H. said...

And that ignores one other thing: Joe Biden is not evil!

He has changed his views over the decades. That is called growth. I mean, when I was a teenager I was homophobic! I was raised during a time when it was STATED "liberals want to force your sons to play with barbies and turn them gay" and when you don't hear a reasonable response to that? You internalize it.

And then one day I became friends with someone over the Internet, learned afterward he was gay, and went "maybe I'm wrong about my views on gay people!" Now look at me? I'm an asexual lesbian transwoman. I was internalizing a lot of stuff, but fortunately outgrew it and am happy with who I am now.

If you judge me on my past then you'd have someone who was anti-gay. You'd have someone who espoused Libertarian viewpoints. You would have every reason not to trust me. But who I am today is not who I was when I was in my early 20s. Hating Joe Biden because of things back a couple decades ago? That ignores all the good the man can do today. It also ignores all the damage Adolf Trumpler is inflicting on the country, all because a unicorn wasn't selected as the Democratic Candidate.

Anyone insisting that Biden is as bad as Trump and thus they should vote third party or not vote? They need to grow the fuck up and realize that refusing to vote for Biden and vote for the Democrats to force Republicans out of every single office they can... is in fact a vote for the Republican Party and stating they approve of what the Republicans are for. Because at this point, we need to destroy the Republican Party, salt the earth it stood in, and use them as a Cautionary Tale for the future.

Acacia who sure isn't a Democrat, but sees that the Republican Party needs to be cast down

Der Oger said...

Dr. Brin,

then, if Biden would prefer this, he or his team should contact them and negotiate a political deal. Talks on eye-level. Making concessions. Offering seats in the cabinet after the election, or offering a safe blue seat in the Senate or House (California will do, I assume) by endorsing a green candidate there. Or at least let them have their say in environmental law-making.

If they are THAT important, perhaps the sane option would be talking with them, not treating them as traitors and fringe lunatics.

(In case I do Team Blue injustice and they already tried this, I apologize.)

matthew said...

Trump says he believes the Supreme Court will decide the election.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2020/sep/23/donald-trump-says-he-expects-us-election-to-end-up-at-supreme-court-video

Some might think that Trump is making a mistake by making his plan clear - that he intends a partisan SCOTUS to give him a second term. I contend that this statement was not a mistake, but rather a way to telegraph his moves to his supporters. He will need the GOP to lay the groundwork for his coup, and this in perfectly in character with Trump's past moves. "Trump did it all in public, so it cannot be a crime" is a statement I first heard in conjunction with his "Russia, if you're listening..." comment.

Doc, thanks for the Atlantic article. I had somehow missed that one.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Well... choosing the lesser of TWO evils doesn’t help the greater evil. Choosing the lesser of N evils can when N>2.

Yah. Nit picky math guy here.


Yeah, but I'm still right. I presume you don't consider the Libertarian candidate you vote for to be one of the evils. In 2016, Hillary was unacceptable to many and Biden is today for the same reason, "I'm not going to vote for the lesser of two evils." And the cumulative result is that evil won. No one who truly felt that way can be happy with the result we've been living through.

David Brin said...

Acacia, movingly told. But I don't think the preeners are talking very loudly this year about "they're all the same" or 'Democrats don't matter." They may grumbgle it among their preening, pompous selves, but saying it in public risks a smashing by the nearest black or woman or scientist or American with a soul.

Der Oger, the Greens DO have their say in places like California, where the Democratic Party include any sane ones and it shows in legislation. I am fine with offering commission positions to some self-declared Greens with real accomplishment creds! But after what Nader and Stein did to us all, I want to see the top party leaders submit to full FBI background checks for links to Moscow.

No, I owe them nothing.

Alfred Differ said...

David,

Yes… and No. In states like ours, we can both argue people are free to vote any which way they like for any candidate who want to run. In Florida and Wisconsin or anywhere else it is close, YOU can argue that third party candidates should bow out, but I'm not with you on that.

Where it is close, the Democrats should swallow their righteous anger and co-opt third party positions and people. In the days of party bosses, they would have already done so. Those smoke-filled back rooms would have seen people shuffling in and out to resolve all this.

I don't have to preach at you on this, though. You already know it. What I'll point out is that the third party candidate isn't the one to buy off nowadays. It is the third party state and county level officials. These folks coordinate campaigns. They are the only way third party candidates get any exposure at all since they are almost all impoverished… if measured by major party fundraising standards. The time to buy off the candidate is when they are a splitter candidate formerly of one of the major parties. (e.g. TR during one of his comeback attempts.) That's not the case today. Third party candidates today are all zealots. No direct compromise possible.

Being upset at voters as many are (not so much you) is a non-starter for me. Candidates must persuade. The rest of us may do so on their behalf. No cudgels allowed, though.


For the record, I am currently undecided. I'm free to do as I choose since my choice won't result in the 'greater evil', but I'm mad as hell and want Two Scoops out in a landslide. I'm likely to contribute my choice to that effort.

Also for the record, I think third parties make more sense in the bigger states where power resides in House representation. I'd probably not bother if I lived in a thinly populated state.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

I presume you don't consider the Libertarian candidate you vote for to be one of the evils.

I don't, but… well… now is not the time to argue for libertarian positions.
Defending the Union IS defense of liberty and I'll settle for that this time around.

There are a lot of reforms the Democrats want right now that a Libertarian would find generally acceptable. As long as they don't try to pay for it all in a foolish manner, there shouldn't be an issue with many of our host's 31 points mentioned elsewhere. As long as they don't force those reforms on communities where the majority is ACTUALLY opposed, there shouldn't be an issue. As long as they can find tolerance in their hearts, a lot of us would accept the gesture and delay the arguments a while.

BTW… My sample ballot arrived today.
"Are you guys ready? Okay. Let's roll!" - Todd Beamer

Larry Hart said...

Acacia H:

That ignores all the good the man can do today. It also ignores all the damage Adolf Trumpler is inflicting on the country, all because a unicorn wasn't selected as the Democratic Candidate.


Liberals who think the Democrats are anti-liberal because they nominate centrists are not seeing the picture. A leftist radical can't win. There aren't enough leftist radicals to vote for her and too many Americans will be afraid of her.

We don't nominate a Joe Biden because we missed the memo. It's to have a chance of winning Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and the like.

Leftists and progressives and even liberals blame the Democratic Party for courting the straight white midwestern vote, but as long as they keep saying, "I'd rather lose with a pure candidate than win with a compromised one", they they're just as weak as the party they complain about. Because losing elections is just as weak a position as not doing stuff when you are in office.


Anyone insisting that Biden is as bad as Trump and thus they should vote third party or not vote? They need to grow the fuck up and realize that refusing to vote for Biden and vote for the Democrats to force Republicans out of every single office they can... is in fact a vote for the Republican Party and stating they approve of what the Republicans are for.


And some people here seem to be saying exactly that. "Trump's a bad guy, but at least he's against the war." That sort of thing. They really do think Trump is a preferable option to a centrist Democrat.


Because at this point, we need to destroy the Republican Party, salt the earth it stood in, and use them as a Cautionary Tale for the future.

Acacia who sure isn't a Democrat, but sees that the Republican Party needs to be cast down


You go, girl!

That might be a more effective rant than mine about how the Republican Party needs to have its head chopped off and the body parts buried at separate crossroads.

Alfred Differ said...

matthew,

I think you are correct about Two Scoops stating what he intends to do.

I also think he has grossly overestimated the support he will receive from the political caste.

He will be crushed electorally.
He will be crushed emotionally.

His children will slink home to lick their wounds and prepare for more coming.

Larry Hart said...

@Alfred,

I think we're talking past each other on a trivial point. I didn't say that voting for the lesser of two evils helps the greater evil. I said that refusing to vote for the lesser of two evils helps the greater evil.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Candidates must persuade. The rest of us may do so on their behalf. No cudgels allowed, though.


Here, I will take issue with you. We don't persuade our fellows to vote the way we'd like on the candidate's behalf. We do so because we believe in certain ideals and think or hope that our preferred candidate's election is the best path to realizing those ideals. Or we think a candidate is so harmful that we try to persuade fellow voters to vote against him.

Our independent act of persuasion may benefit (or harm) a candidate, but we're not doing it for him. We're doing it for us.

That's why it was ridiculous to claim that Jill Stein had no standing to contest the Wisconsin election because she had no chance of winning. It wasn't about her. Any resident of Wisconsin should be considered to have standing to contest an incongruity in an election. I might even go further in the case of a presidential election and say that any US citizen has that standing.

Acacia H. said...

You just don't know where to look. I've found them on Tumblr and on Twitter. They insist that Biden is the worst and that we can't trust him, that he's anti-trans, anti-gay, anti-environment, that electing him is going to destroy democracy, and on down the line. And they truly hate it when I tell them "if you're not voting for Biden, you are openly endorsing Trump and his views." They get really frosty over that.

Acacia

scidata said...

Well I can still watch Canadian news. Toronto Raptors and others are helping to register the 650,000 Americans living in Canada.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdyYuOyGQ2Q

Alfred Differ said...

Acacia,

Yah. Joe Biden is not evil. He's just a human being.

I don't use 'evil' as a descriptor of politicians very often. It's an attempt to dehumanize an opponent. It's what we do when we go to war and have to shoot that other human. Most of us would really rather not kill, but we make it easier by dehumanizing them.

I make an exception for Trump. Cheney too. And McConnell.
I make many more exceptions for political operatives machinating in the smoke-filled back rooms. Rove. Bannon. It's a long list.


Joe Biden isn't evil. By comparison he's a f#$@ing Saint, but that is also a dehumanizing step. Best we stick to thinking of him as 'just human.'

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

"Are you guys ready? Okay. Let's roll!" - Todd Beamer


I like that as a motto.

And if the worst case arrives with Nazi thugs coming for us at night, I'll add this line of internal narration from an old issue of "Savage Sword of Conan":

"Better to die facing one's foe than showing him your backside."

"And, however hopeless it be--better to die fighting your foe --"

"--than either!"

duncan cairncross said...

Voting!

We are going to vote next month
With our different voting system I thought I would "think aloud" about my own plans

I live in the Southlands constituency - very rural and a National Party (our main stream Conservative party) stronghold

At the last election Southland was 59% National - Labour 29% + all the other parties

My "Constituency Vote" will go to Labour - they do have a chance but it's slim

Then comes my "Party Vote"

This is where it gets interesting - a major problem is the 5% threshold - if a party does not reach 5% and does not win a constituency seat then it does not get any seats
(This is IMHO a FAULT with our system)

Possibilities

The Opportunity Party - a party that promises "data based policies" and wants a UBI
They are unlikely to reach the 5%

Green Party - looks like they will reach the 5%

NZ First - a strange party that is based around Winston Peters - right wing - BUT he decided to go with Labour after the last election - which enabled Labour to put together a Government - acted as a brake during parliament

I'm going to go with one of them - probably TOP - although if it look like Green are going to have difficulty reaching the 5% I may support them

This all assumes that Labour is far enough ahead to become the next government - which looks likely as they have shown competence with the three big issues this term

There are about 25 other parties standing!!

Different electoral system - requiring different thought patterns




David Brin said...

Bernie!

We need to urge folks to use EARLY DROP-OFF VOTING. It is the safest way. The votes will be counted first, not last, It's harder to find excuses to invalidate. No polling place covid or intimidation and no mail problems.

Acacia, while I urge folks to demand wager stakes, if you are willing to spend a little time and effort posting such, the simplest answer to such obvious Kremlin agitprop is to type "Okay Ivan."

Larry Hart said...

Acacia:

And they truly hate it when I tell them "if you're not voting for Biden, you are openly endorsing Trump and his views." They get really frosty over that.


The reason they get frosty is because you're saying truth out loud. They don't want to acknowledge or admit that they endorse Trump and his views, but they do.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I make an exception for Trump. Cheney too. And McConnell.
I make many more exceptions for political operatives machinating in the smoke-filled back rooms. Rove. Bannon. It's a long list.


"Neidermeier! Dead!"

Heh.

But seriously, yes, it is quite a long list. Limbaugh. Hannity. Fallwell. Koch. Graham. Cruz. Adelson. Miller. ...

It might be easier to list all of the Republicans who aren't in on the plot to ruin America.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

the simplest answer to such obvious Kremlin agitprop is to type "Okay Ivan."


Or as Stonekettle puts it, "Ok, Sergei."

Zepp Jamieson said...

Acacia H wrote: "they truly hate it when I tell them "if you're not voting for Biden, you are openly endorsing Trump and his views." They get really frosty over that."

I'm sympathetic to my fellow lefties, especially since the Greens have the best ticket they've run in years, but our situation is similar to that Londoners faced in 1940. Defeat Hitler, and argue over what colour the fire hydrants ought to be later. There actually was a debate about hydrants at that time, but it was set aside and presumably resolved along about 1946 or so.

While there are hold-outs, I notice that more and more of us are coming around to agree that Trump must go. Biden is showing some spine and spark, and the crisis won't end in January: lefties will have a lot of opportunities to influence how the country deals with the twin health and economic crises that will be even worse by then.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Sanders gave a great speech today. Still my hero!

TCB said...

My wife and I already did early absentee drop-off, last week. At the county election board. Wherever you are, you are probably not far from your county office. I can pretty much guarantee there will not be a 5 hour wait if you do this.

The post office I work at also has a dedicated bucket for ballots, going straight to P.O. Box 2468, so they will get these within 24 hours no matter what DeJoy does to our sorting machines.

Also, I want to relay a personal message from a guy I really look up to.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, it’s your old friend Honest Abe and I’ve flew right out of my grave
Because my coffin’s in a spin from all the treason and the sin
And I just can’t rest my bones in this apocalyptic din
So raise your heads and break your chains and stomp the devil’s ugly brains
And take the tools that set you free

UnAmerican traitors always seem to have their price
They sold the Constitution for a Twitter Antichrist
And so much less impressive than the Beast the book foretold
The Calf of the idolaters is merely painted gold

(Chorus)
Right wing lies make the baby Jesus cry
I was a good Republican but I just don’t know these guys
Right wing lies and God’s Creation dies
They want to rule a world where only slavery can survive
So raise your heads and break your chains and stomp the devil’s ugly brains
And take the tools that set you free

And Benedict Donald is president for life?
If I still ran this union I would hang that little spy
I was a good Republican but I just don’t know these guys
They buzz around that orange turd like a cloud of hungry flies

The pee tapes, we know those are real, the logic proves it all revealed
On the putting green, it’s ill-concealed, the pee tapes keep his diaper sealed
Devil dung and sin desirous, Pharaoh comes to try and fire us
Nothing true in his papyrus Dripping with his Cronyvirus

(Chorus)
Right wing lies make the baby Jesus cry
I was a good Republican but I just don’t know these guys
Right wing lies and God’s Creation dies
They want to rule a world where only slavery can survive
So raise your heads and break your chains and stomp the devil’s ugly brains
And take the tools that set you free

We didn’t keep this house together just to watch it all fall down
No we did not bleed our brothers just to watch it all fall down
Perfect love casteth out fear and we shall never give our ground
Now get up Franklin, wake up Teddy, Roosevelts, we need you ready
Adamses, both pere and fils, I know, you earned a restful peace
Sitting Bull and Geronimo and John Brown too, you so-and-so
Ms. Tubman says, and not in fun, she brought a gun for every one
But Doctor King says slow your roll, and let us win this at the polls

So every true American and everyone you meet
Uncle Abe is telling you, you must control the streets
You have a sacred duty now, to snuff tomorrow’s traitors out
Smite the slavers, never waver, don’t give in to doubt!

David Brin said...

Oops Bernie!
https://www.npr.org/2020/09/24/916549946/bernie-sanders-says-americans-must-prepare-to-stand-up-for-democracy

David Brin said...

Lefties need to be shown AOC and her squad, who are building a leftie caucus by primarying old line dem libs... WHILE crewcut/hairbun veterans are the ones TAKING TERRITORY away from MAGA monsters. We can do both at once and California - and the 111th Congress - show that Dems can argue and find ways to move ahead.

If this is a tsunami, then the resulting repairs will leave lefties with a better, less-cheating platform from which to give their case to voters.

Acacia H. said...

I do think that one thing that Biden could do is, if it looks likely he'll win in November, quietly tell Trump "I'm going to do the gentlemanly thing. If you promise to transfer power peacefully, I will let you get off without any charges, along the lines of President Ford and Nixon. Deal?"

And then the first thing he does after being sworn in as President is state "I made a deal with Trump to get him out of office. To show I am a man of my word, I hereby resign as President of the United States. President Harris never made the promise I did, and she will hold Trump accountable."

But then, I'm evil.

Acacia

Acacia H. said...

On an unrelated note... It seems even light pollution is more prevalent in minority neighborhoods, even among rural minorities, with white people suffering less from light pollution. Or in other words, areas with blacks, hispanics, asians, and other minorities will have more street lights in the area, which makes it more difficult to get decent sleep because you don't have the day/night patterns in those neighborhoods. All in the name of "public safety" - you know, expecting minorities to be more lawless.

Acacia

Peter said...

Back to the Henchman Law :-).
You realise this means a change in attitude to Assange/Manning and Snowden - especially the latter who did almost exactly what you are asking. The institutional knee-jerk and they way they were/are treated is likely to deter a lot of whistle-blowers regardless of the prize.
Given your attitude to transparency I would assume you are firmly on their side, but there was a major backlash, no reward and they are STILL being chased by the FBI.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

I said that refusing to vote for the lesser of two evils helps the greater evil.

Sure. Now all we have to do is agree on who is in second place. Right? For a third party willing voter like me, you might be surprised by my ranking. Well… maybe not mine. Probably some of my friends, though.

We don't persuade our fellows to vote the way we'd like on the candidate's behalf.
You are very welcome to believe that. Might even be true. I'm not so convinced. We go collectively batty around election periods. There might be more than one Mule.

Jill Stein had standing to contest it, but I could understand a court dismissing her claim quickly. She'd have to be harmed by there not being a recount to get past the next hurdle. For example, if her party stood a chance of having their ballot access improved in the next cycle and her tally was close to some threshold, she would pass that next test. There might even be a matching funds kind of argument. Just demanding a recount to get one should be heard briefly and then tossed. It was really Clinton's claim to make and Stein can't be her proxy.

If Joe Citizen made a claim, I suspect that would be tossed quickly too. Evidence of malfeasance by a local election official would be needed. Strong evidence. A close count shouldn't trigger it unless that trigger is already baked into the rules earlier.

We elect our election officials here in CA. I'm pretty sure most places do. Maybe not in Louisiana, but y'all should make sure you know your down-ballot people. Those races are sneaky/dangerous if you let the authoritarians in.

Alfred Differ said...

Acacia,

Just block them on Twitter. You'll be doing yourself and everyone who knows you a favor by cutting the networking paths coming through you.

You can unblock them later. If they aren't Sergei, they'll still be around and probably none the wiser.

Sergei is trying to instill fear.
We shorten our horizons when we are scared.
We are still an empire in that state of mind, but we become a stupid empire. Senseless, uncoordinated actions result. Sergei accomplishes Goal #5 when we do that.

Der Oger said...

@duncan cairnross:"Different electoral system - requiring different thought patterns"

Yes, the same here. During Federal and State elections you usually get two votes each - one for a direct candidate, and one indirect party mandate. Federal and State elections have a 5% hurdle. Usually, tactical voting is a thing - you give your direct vote to the party you want to see leading the government, and your indirect vote to the minor party you want to be the coalition partner. Community and EU Elections work somewhat differently.

We have federal elections next year. As it is now, the most likely coalition will be Black (CDU, conservatives)- Green. But with Merkel's successor being unclear, it might change considerably. "Going into the Conclave as a pope, and coming out as a bishop" and "The comparative forms of Enemy are: Enemy, Arch-Enemy, Party Friend." are the usual sayings attributed to this process.

Personally I grow fond of the Volt Europe movement - while still very minor, it proposes policies I endorse. A better European Union, smart government, green, blue and circular economies, more participation and civil rights. Hope they keep growing and don't vanish over the next few years.

Larry Hart said...

A bit of comfort to everyone (myself included) who finds the "Atlantic" article terrifying. The bit is way too long to post even most of it here, and I recommend reading the whole thing, followed up by a relaxing drink.

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2020/Pres/Maps/Sep25.html#item-2

...
And now, let us point out two giant problems with the "two slates of electors" notion, one at either end of the process. The first problem is that in all 50 states and D.C., current law dictates that electoral votes be awarded based on the vote of the citizens. Even if one of the four GOP legislatures on this list wanted to award the state's EVs by fiat, they couldn't do it without changing the law. And that would require a gubernatorial signature (or a veto override, and there are no states on the list above where Republicans have a veto-proof state Senate majority).

The second problem, on the other end of the process, is that while there was once a time where multiple slates of electors were possible (e.g., 1876), that time has passed. Federal law, specifically 3 U.S. Code 6, makes very clear that:

It shall be the duty of the executive of each State, as soon as practicable after the conclusion of the appointment of the electors in such State by the final ascertainment, under and in pursuance of the laws of such State providing for such ascertainment, to communicate by registered mail under the seal of the State to the Archivist of the United States a certificate of such ascertainment of the electors appointed, setting forth the names of such electors...

In other words, a valid certificate of ascertainment, and a valid slate of electors, can only come from the governor of a state.

We've pointed out before that existing case law suggests that once a legislature has delegated the right of choosing electors to the people, it cannot take it back unless it formally repeals the election law. There is also existing case law that says the rules of an election cannot be changed after an election has taken place. But even if everyone (state legislatures, courts, etc.) is conveniently willing to overlook these things, the two issues we outline above mean there is simply no way for a state legislature to award that state's electoral votes without buy-in from the governor. You will notice that only one state on the chart above has the Republican legislature-Republican governor pairing needed to do that, namely Arizona. There are other states that are not on the chart where it's also possible, of course, like Texas and Ohio. But the point is that if Biden wins the states he's currently expected to win (even if North Carolina slips away), then he's still got 279 EVs protected by a Democratic legislature, or a Democratic governor, or both.
...

Darrell E said...

"History shows that there is nothing so easy to enslave and nothing so hard to emancipate as ignorance, hence it becomes the double enemy of civilization. By its servility it is the prey of tyranny, and by its credulity it is the foe of enlightenment."

[Lemuel K. Washburn, Is The Bible Worth Reading And Other Essays]

This is what the DP has ruthlessly taken advantage of, was wildly successful at doing so, then lost control of and what then gave rise to where we are now, the Trump era.

Darrell E said...

"It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime."

[Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, 1794]

What's happening in the US now, and how it happens, has been known for a long time. We humans keep fucking it up.

Darrell E said...

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

[Theodore Roosevelt.]

Ole Teddy wouldn't be happy about what has become of his party and its constituents.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Lefties taking seats in primaries from centrist fossils isn't cheating; it's evolution.

Larry Hart said...

What we already knew...

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2020/Pres/Maps/Sep25.html#item-6

...
s it turns out, Trump was right to warn that there's been a significant uptick in organized, violent groups recently. He just had the wrong ones. According to a new report from The Guardian (UK), there was a significant effort by white, pro-Trump supporters to organize and arm themselves so that they raise hell in Portland, OR, perhaps even assassinating a few Democratic political leaders.

Meanwhile, a couple of thousand miles away, four plaintiffs filed suit in Wisconsin on Thursday due to harm done them by white, pro-Trump supporters. Their claim targets Kyle Rittenhouse, who killed two people, militia groups like the "Kenosha Guard" and "Boogaloo Bois," and Facebook for facilitating these individuals' violent activities.

We do not know if these sorts of news stories will reach the "suburban housewives" that Trump is trying to frighten and win over to his side. We do know that suburbanites, and in particular suburban women, do not appear to be buying his fearmongering. They may not feel a need to be protected, or they may know that Trump is no more able to deliver on this promise than on his promise of building a border wall, or they may recognize that he foments more violence than he prevents (and by a large margin, it appears).

David Brin said...

"Lefties taking seats in primaries from centrist fossils isn't cheating;"

Um, who said it was? It is a clear example of how the DP is a proper home for reformers. It utterly refutes the raving-drooling "DNC plotters" nonsense. And it demands: "While you build you left-caucus, will you also help moderates seize red & purple territory?"

Zepp Jamieson said...

Odd use of the term there.
But I think my past few posts make it clear I'm helping moderates because we must defeat Trump. We'll worry about the fire hydrants later.

Larry Hart said...

Lost in the rhetoric about whether or not Republicans are hypocritical for not following their own "McConnell Rule" concerning supreme court confirmations before an election, this comment of Ted Cruz's leaves no room for doubt of its hypocricy:


“We cannot have Election Day come and go with a 4-4 court,” Cruz told Sean Hannity. "Imagine a Bush v. Gore scenario with a 4-4 court."


But it was just fine to do exactly that in 2016? When the court really was split 4-4 rather than the 5-3 split it enjoys now?

reason said...

I want to point out again that in many ways the real enemy of American democracy is the two party system. It there were multiple parties with a variety of policy platforms then:
1. You could easily set up independent institutions which would have an interest in protecting fairness instead of an interest in cheating against their opponents.
2. More people would feel that the political system represented them
3. There would be more chance to approach a consensus about reality.

Moving to a preferential voting system and then having institutions that are supposed to fair (the judiciary, the public service, the electoral board) with equal representation of all parties with a sufficient membership would be enough. Unfortunately it is too late.

David Brin said...

I haven't in weeks seen such a well-meaning but utterly delusional pile of unsupported drivel as "reason" just asserted. Not one of the assertions is backed up by anything other than supposition. All of it in service of the nihilistic last line - a shrug of surrender to inevitability rather than stand up and fight for the spectacularly huge, real world difference between the parties.

If dems win big, you WILL se a removal of money from maybe half of politics and maybe 80%+ of the cheating... likely 90%+.

Momentum toward preferential balloting will build and most of the 31 things on this list will pass:
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2019/08/five-devastating-rebuttals-to-use-with.html

Not everything you want. But the resulting representative democracy will be one from which you can then try more plausibly for further reforms. And when the DP inevitably splits, you may have the party you want.

We are in GAREEMENT about what needs doing - preferential balloting - but your justifications are absurd.

Cari Burstein said...

Part of the issue with the 2 party system is that it creates an incentive system to entrench the 2 parties. Since they have disproportionate power, the last thing they generally want is to dilute that power with preferential balloting.

I am a registered Democrat, and in general lean towards Democratic party priorities on many things, but I am under no illusion that they're significantly more in favor of preferential balloting than the Republican party. In fact our CA state governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill which was in support of allowing more use of ranked choice voting, which leads me to hope he has a strong Democratic challenger in the future that I can vote for instead (probably a vain hope).

If we want preferential balloting, that push is going to have to come strongly from people outside of the party system, in large enough numbers to create pressure on the major parties to work in that direction. It probably has to start with a lot more use of it in smaller elections so people can get used to how it works.

It would certainly be a much better system for large contested primaries than what we currently use and I wish we'd have used it for the last 2 presidential primaries.

The Democrats definitely seem far more on board with other electoral reforms, but preferential voting is a different animal.

matthew said...

TCB - I stole your ode (anthem) and reposted it, giving you attribution. Good stuff.

Alfred, I hope that you are correct about Two Scoops overestimating his support in the political caste.
I also have hope for the dying breed of honest journalist to give one last bit of truth, but I won't hold my breath for it.

WizWom said...

Which party gets 100% party line votes?
That's where the blackmail is.

David Brin said...

Haven't a clue what Wiz meant.
Carl, you are right that sometimes Dem voters must overrule dem pols, as when CA banned gerrymandering a decade ago...

... and to everyone's surprise, Dem dominance went UP.

Larry Hart said...

WizWom:

Which party gets 100% party line votes?
That's where the blackmail is.

Dr Brin:

Haven't a clue what Wiz meant.


Allow me to play translator droid.

The Republicans are obviously being blackmailed (or at least somehow threatened or bribed) since they somehow always manage to vote as a solid block on every issue. That such a record represents their individual beliefs or preferences every time stretches credulity, like flipping a coin and coming up heads a thousand times in a row.

TCB said...

Thanks, Matthew! It's actually a rockabilly thing, I need to get some people to record it with me. It's built on a guitar riff I have had in my back pocket for YEARS. But the lyric was very hard to write (which of a hundred scandals can you cram into under 500 words? And make it rhyme? And make it scan? Etc. etc.) I made no progress until I hit on the conceit of having Abraham Lincoln singing a diss track in front of a band (preferably the Muppets).

TCB said...

Anti-Politics And The "Nanny State", a Youtube video on how corporations use Suspicion Of Authority to undermine your trust in government, demonizing government as control-hungry tyranny, while disguising corporate tyranny and hunger for control.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Just came across a 'holy shit' type of story told by a survivor of the People of Praise cult. Amy Coney Barrett, Trump's likely nominee to the Supreme Court, is a member of this cult.
https://www.alternet.org/2020/09/people-of-praise-former-member-of-group-tied-to-scotus-front-runner-calls-it-a-cult/

Alfred Differ said...

David,

Lefties taking seats in primaries from centrist fossils isn't cheating; it's evolution.

My read of this from Zepp is that he intended to agree with you.
The debate point is unchallenged.


Matthew,

I hope that...

Hope should be on everyone's list of 'Virtues'.
Life is so much more pleasant when it is defended & cultivated. 8)


Darrel E,

prostituted the chastity of his mind

... which points out the other virtue many are lacking lately. It is 'faith' in the lower case sense. Loyalty to. It starts with loyalty to self because much of what we are is composed of higher ideals.

“Take the universe and grind it down to the finest powder and sieve it through the finest sieve and then show me one atom of justice, one molecule of mercy. and yet... and yet you act as if there is some ideal order in the world, as if there is some... some rightness in the universe by which it may be judged.” - Pratchett

It ain't in the powder on the ground.

Ole Teddy wouldn't be happy about what has become of his party and its constituents.

He would have recognized them as Confederates & Corruption. Those aren't in the powder on the ground either.

Alfred Differ said...

Unfortunately it is too late.

This one deserves a very special response.

PFFT! {Coffee through the nose type of strong reaction}

Learned helplessness?! Here?!

Courage is yet another virtue. A Classic.
Show some spine and put on the blue kepi.

Der Oger said...

TCB: Nice video!

I still think it is no coincidence, that, globally spoken, the current power level oligarchs and multinational corporations enjoy started rising shortly after the Warsaw bloc collapsed. Not that I want it back, but with the threat of communist invasions over and the economies of socialist states in shambles, there was no threat of a rising worker class anymore.

The irony is, from all what I perceive over here, that the nation that spearheaded that fight against authoritarian socialism now shows the same symptoms: A crumbling infrastructure, internal militarization and the security apparatus turned against their own population, corruption and a protected elite etc.

If I equate the US and western-styled democracies (and Russia!) with authoritarian capitalism, then the problem might not be the right vs. left thing. It might be authoritarianism in itself (and with it self-perpetuating oligarchies, kleptocracies and cronyism) that proves to be the destructive element.

reason said...

David, I think you missed the point of my comment. Not only does the two party system give parties a strong incentive to try co-opt referee institutions, it also gives them the means, since if a institution had two factions the larger will dominate. Not so when there are many factions. And so the second bwst for all factions is to ensure the independence of the referees and punish infractions as corruption.

Daniel Duffy said...

Amidst all of the current sound and fury, you all might take comfort in the fact that the Good guys are actually winning and the Bad Oligarchs are losing.

Start with oil, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan "the focus of evil in the modern world". Oil is a form of "hydraulic despotism". See what SF writer Frank Herbert of "Dune" wrote about "hydraulic despotism" - a form of tyranny as old as ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and China and the control of their local river's levees, irrigation channels and canals by the resident God-King. His true power wasn't in a priesthood building temples and pyramids, or nobles leading armies of chariot warriors. His power lay in control of a vital source of life itself - water for consumption and irrigation.

Those ancient God Kings are now oil company CEOs, owners and investors. Their massive wealth has been used to suborn democracy, making it a sham. They own the government agencies nominally charge with regulating them, like the God Kings owned the priesthood. They own politicians waging war on their behalf like the nobles who led chariot armies. But their power is waning as the oil age comes to an end and with it their wealth and power.

Originally hydraulic despotism meant water.

The real power of the god-kings that ruled mankind's first civilizations wasn't chariot armies or priests performing sacrifices in temples or building pyramids. It was their control of the construction and operation of complex systems of irrigation and flood control that made life possible for large numbers of people in river valleys from the Nile, to Mesopotamia, to the Indus, to the Yangtze. The principle was applied with other engineering structures such as the qanats of Persia, the aqueducts of Rome, the floating farms (chinampas) of the Aztecs, and the terraced farms built by the Inca's to collect run-off from the slopes of the Andes.

The central government ruled by the god-kings could organize the labor (draft peasants, serfs and slaves) and assign the resources (aka tax the peasants) to make these systems possible. Living standards actually improved and populations exploded (compared to adjacent hunter-gather tribes) which increased the wealth and power of the god-kings further while making their subjects utterly dependent on their hydraulic systems to stay alive. The nobility provided military leadership and controlled financial wealth, while the priests kept the people docile and unquestioning by glorifying the god-kings.

This theocratic feudalism is mankind's natural default governmental and social state. It's basically no different than a troop of baboons led by an alpha male and his entourage. Socially we are just like any other primate, which makes real democracy very difficult for our species to establish and maintain. Democracy is unnatural and requires constant effort and vigilance to ensure its survival.

Daniel Duffy said...

(cont.)

Fast forward to the 20th century and water is replaced by oil.

Our entire civilization depends on oil like the Babylonians needed the channelized flood waters of the Tigris and Euphrates. Oil made possible the current population explosion, just like hydraulic engineering allowed the population explosion of the first civilizations. Oil oligarchs either rule directly (as in Saudi Arabia, Putin's Russia or the state of Texas) or via the mechanism of staged voting and hacked elections (2016) and controlled media (such as Fox news or the Russian media). They lead us into wars for the control of oil like some Egyptian general or pharaoh commanding his chariots (and fighting over the same terrain 3,000 years ago). Meanwhile, the new nobility has accumulated wealth to a level that would make a pre-revolutionary French aristocrat green with envy.

The totalitarians of the 20th century supposedly acted on behalf of the people, but they merely changed the names of the players. The god-king became "Dear Leader". The Nobility became "The Party". The priesthood became the "Ministry of Propaganda". But those systems become untenable due to excessive warfare and stifling of the economy. Having learned from the past, a more subtle approach is being tried by the oil oligarchs.

The subtlety can be easily seen in the function of the new priesthood. The one main difference between then and now is in the function of the modern priesthood (aka the media and to a lesser extent televangelists). Whereas the ancient priesthoods existed to exalt the god-kings, modern media-priests exist to hide their very existence from the general public. In either case it requires sleight of hand to hoodwink the populace. Elections get hacked and hijacked, becoming no different than ancient religious ceremonies originally intended to keep the people docile.

Daniel Duffy said...

(cont.)

But the age of oil is coming to and end, and with it the power and wealth of the new God-Kings. See my previously posted report from British Petroleum, and how oil demand will flatten and drop due to expanded use of renewables:

https://earther.gizmodo.com/bp-says-weve-already-reached-peak-oil-1845064372?fbclid=IwAR01wdXZcFgkpQWq6nMGsz7ox5ytxkNYVi4jvdrYqPIiEyrqHG_EsrBfIo0

And this is why distributed solar energy is so important - it breaks the power of hydraulic despotism because it gives everyone the equivalent of their own well.

Technology has a history of setting people free. Mao used to say that "power grows out of the barrel of a gun". He was half right, freedom grows out of a gun barrel as well. Prior to the invention of gunpowder, warfare was waged by highly skilled warriors who spent a lifetime training in the martial arts (Spartan hoplites, Roman legions, feudal knights, Japanese samurai).

The vast majority of people were smelly peasants/serfs/slaves who got slaughtered enmasse by small numbers of these professional solders if they ever revolted. Those with a monopoly on violent skills lorded over those who did not. But a musket gives even a smelly peasant the power to kill an expensive and highly trained knight on horseback at a safe distance (knowing this, the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan actually banned fire arms to preserve samurai primacy). Gunpowder made the American and French revolutions possible. It made modern democracy possible.

Gunpowder broke the grip of the nobility.

Similarly, until the invention of the printing press, reading and writing was the sole province of the priesthood who controlled all knowledge. The printing press made books cheap, broke the chains of the inquisition and made scientific knowledge possible, as well as constitutional law not subject to a ruler's whims. The internet has further democratized the flow and creation of knowledge (the net neutrality fight can be best seen as a reaction to the internet similar to the inquisition burning books).

The printing press broke the grip of the priesthood.

Renewable solar energy and electric vehicles will break the back of our current hydraulic despotism in the same way that gunpowder and the printing press democratized violence and knowledge. Once renewable energy takes hold energy will be democratized and our entire political power system rooted in control of oil collapses. Which is why Trump and Putin are fighting renewables tooth an nail. And the collapse has already started in Putin's Russia":

https://www.thedailybeast.com/kremlins-world-war-iii-propaganda-meltdown-shows-putin-is-cornered

Historians will look back on Covid-19 as an accelerant, something the caused the fires of change to burn hotter and faster, accelerating the very painful transition form oil to renewables. And yes, there will be a lot of strife and pain in the coming decades, but to quote a wise Jewish rabbi: "All these are the beginning of birth pains"

Something new and better will emerge.

scidata said...

Boca Chica
Parts seen for SN1.
SN1 you say? So what?
That's Super Heavy SN1

Also, fins and nosecones everywhere. The polls show whites starting to abandon GOP. Perhaps the slumbering soul of the American explorer is finally waking again.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Alfred wrote: "My read of this from Zepp is that he intended to agree with you."

Exactly so, Alfred. Thank you. I'm unequivocably supporting Democrats until we are safely past this time of crisis.

Robert said...

Der Oger:
I still think it is no coincidence, that, globally spoken, the current power level oligarchs and multinational corporations enjoy started rising shortly after the Warsaw bloc collapsed.

I think most of us are old enough to remember when being able to travel without having to constantly show your papers and defer to security agents was a sign the protagonist had escaped the Iron Curtain.

Anonymous said...

Hi David,

What is your comment about the latest FBI text messages that were released from the Flynn trial? The report where CIA chief Brennan ignored analysts who said Putin preferred predictable Hillary and had a report written by himself and a Clinton donating protege. The FISA applications did not reveal that the main sub-source for the Steele Dossier was investigated in 2009-2011 as a Russian agent.

Seems pretty clear that large elements of the CIA, FBI and DOJ were sabotaging the duly elected administration. Seems all of this the other side will not accept the results is the kettle calling the pot black. Years of attempting to cover up treasonous behavior because they hate his tweets.

The USA will have decades of legal, bureaucratic and media civil war. Riots and conflict maybe for years and maybe longer. It will be a long civil war.

If it is all one-sided whistleblowing and clearly bad actions on your side are ignored then how does it not degenerate into Stalin police state and thought police and citizens turning in the "opposition".

https://www.lawenforcementtoday.com/fbi-texts-reveal-agents-bought-liability-insurance-over-russia-investigation/

Text messages suggest that FBI agents deliberately kept the case open despite finding no evidence against Flynn.

https://www.scribd.com/document/477364140/Explosive-FBI-Texts-Show-Internal-Furor-At-Crossfire-Hurricane-Handling

https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2020/09/24/secret_report_how_cias_brennan_overruled_dissenting_analysts_who_thought_russia_favored_hillary_125315.html

Former CIA Director John Brennan personally edited a crucial section of the intelligence report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and assigned a political ally to take a lead role in writing it after career analysts disputed \
https://www.jpost.com/american-politics/primary-sub-source-behind-steele-dossier-likely-a-russian-agent-fbi-admits-643553

The primary sub-source to the Steele dossier was likely a Russian agent.
The footnote states Christopher Steele’s Primary Sub-source “was the subject of an FBI counterintelligence investigation from 2009 to 2011 that assessed his/her documented contacts with suspected Russian intelligence officers.”

https://www.nationalreview.com/news/at-least-27-phones-from-special-counsels-office-were-wiped-before-doj-inspector-general-could-review-them/
At Least 27 Phones from Special Counsel’s Office Were Wiped before DOJ Inspector General Could Review Them

Daniel Duffy said...

Hello Anonymous. How is everything in St. Petersburg?

David Brin said...

I am swamped with so many things... just off NASA meetings... But good discussion. And my auto-filters let this "anonymous" through for a number of reasons. I passed him foward because he does not act jibbering hate-drenched loony... and asks a couple of questions, despite being clearly a Kremlin shill.

Of course my standard demand for escrowed cash wager stakes applies here. I haven't time to deal with this fellow and rely upon those of you with both time and ... welll... who aren't bored to tears.

Dennis M Davidson said...

Hi Anonymous,
Which Anonymous are you? It's customary (and socially polite) among readers of this blog to identify yourself in some manner.

duncan cairncross said...

The Two Party System

This is almost inevitable with "First Past the Post" voting (winner takes all)

There is no point in attacking the "Two Party System" as long as you have "First Past the Post" voting

The only way is to attack the "First Past the Post" - winner takes all system

Personally I like our (NZ) system where we continue to use FPP for our Constituencies and use a "Party Vote" system and "List MP's" to ensure that Parliament reflects the votes of the residents

Peter; said...

Blogger Alfred Differ said...

Sergei is trying to instill fear.
We shorten our horizons when we are scared.
We are still an empire in that state of mind, but we become a stupid empire. Senseless, uncoordinated actions result. Sergei accomplishes Goal #5 when we do that.

You are Idiotic Empire, sir. ;P
And your King Davy is scared as shit... of criticism.
That's as each and every kingdom fall.

Anonymous said...

same Anonymous from Above (but new commenter)
I will take the ID: WalktheTalk

David said $5 million for whistleblowers and ask for whistleblowing on your side too.

But the recent FBI texts:

On January 10, 2017,
FBI (and CIA) analysts knew it was so bad that they all went and purchased professional liability insurance.

Texts also state the pro-clinton motivation of those pursuing Flynn etc...

You say that I am Kremlin shill?

The Democrat-pro-Clinton side in the FBI, CIA and DOJ used info from a Russian Agent as justification for a multi-year investigation. Because they did not like the result of the election of a person they did not like.

Obviously, this appears to be a "so what" for the text evidence or the old texts from lead FBI investigator and any of the other evidence. That is fine. The other side will look at your offer "we will look into whistleblowing on our team" as empty. They see that you and your media (CNN-MSNBC) ignore evidence of wrong doing on your team.

The Russians wanted Americans to get split and they hit the jackpot. But it was not the Russians, the US and the west was ready to split and come apart.

63 million voted for Trump last time. New policies or engagement to win them over? No, political trench warfare. Then leftist brats exploded from the Universities for the riots and you expect to win when the rioters are not locked up and condemned? Maybe you do win in 2020. But get ready, Political trench warfare will last for decades. Your legal war will have mostly conservative judges for decades.

Der Oger said...

@Duncan: I'd even go a step further ... FPP is the main reason why voter suppression works (among all those other methods employed). Get one vote more than your opponents, and you can ensure differing voices are not heard.

I am also fond of the Switzerland system of direct democracy, though there is always the danger of having a combination of a radical proposal and a low voter turnout. But for them, it apparently works.

BTW, I just learned that the Queen technically retains a considerable amount of power in the UK, including declaring war on any nation or person she sees fit, dissolving the parliament and installing prime ministers no matter the outcome of the election. Question: does this also extend to NZ? Could the Crown (technically, not reallistically) do the same there?

Der Oger said...

@Robert:
"I think most of us are old enough to remember when being able to travel without having to constantly show your papers and defer to security agents was a sign the protagonist had escaped the Iron Curtain."

I'd dare to say that the past methods of surveillance would not be used in technological developed countries any more. It is not effective in terms of costs and achieving your goals. Nowadays, data mining and electronic surveillance comprise the bulk of activities formerly conducted by HUMINT operatives, saving them for situations that cannot be solved by SIGINT. In other words, they do not NEED to check your papers with an army of field officers, they have your whole online history, movement patterns, web of personal relationships, behaviour patterns and other data only a few clicks away. So they can concentrate on a few active dissidents (say, leftist video-bloggers and centrist sci-fi autors)and their communities, and are fully prepared when the bag men come.

On a second note, I have made the perception that the major two groups in Germany who lived under socialist dictatorships (actual East Germans and the minority of 3-6 Million Russian Germans who came to the FRG after the Reunification and downfall of the USSR) form the base of the AfD's electorate (a far- right party, similar to, but not equaling, the US Republicans). They reject leftist authoritarianism, and embrace the right-wing version of it. And then again - I often hear opinions in the line of "Not everything was bad". Everyone had work. Free universitary education (if you were not politically active.) A better system of healthcare. Child care for everyone. The oppressive system was often ignored in these conversations.

Finally, I have more and more doubts if the Warsaw Pact states were truly socialist / communist in ideology ... while they brandished socialist symbols, and uttered marxist platitudes*, they were in essence an gerontocratic empire since at least the sixties, unwilling to reform, adapt and reinvent themselves in changing times, or passing the reign of power to the next generation.

*Which prompts me to make a comparison between those socialist gerontocrats and the religious far-right. They CLAIM to act in the interest of a pure ideology ... but in the end, tenets of that faith can be hold against them. They have become traitors to the original message.

Larry Hart said...

@duncan cairncross,

The US system is specifically designed not to formally recognize parties as such. Thus we are forced to maintain the polite fiction that voters choose individuals to represent them, while simultaneously allowing Mitch McConnell to declare that "the American People" affirmatively chose to have a Senate controlled by Republicans.

Does the New Zealand system allow the majority party to decide which issues even get a vote before the legislature? I think that more than anything else is a bug in the way the US system currently works (though that is not baked into the Constitution itself). For example, the Senate didn't vote against confirming Merrick Garland to the supreme court. They just didn't bring the vote to the floor at all. And by not doing so, they gained the same partisan benefit as a denial without having to defend a nakedly-partisan vote to their constituents.

George Carty said...

Daniel Duffy,

Chinese civilization may have become a hydraulic despotism in the 13th century AD when it adopted rice (with its exacting irrigation requirements) as its staple crop, but it was already a very old civilization when it made that step and therefore couldn't have begun as a hydraulic despotism.

And while technological advances could favor freedom, couldn't they also favor tyranny? How far would Hitler have got without radio to broadcast his message, or without automatic firearms to equip his SA and SS?

Larry Hart said...

Colbert-esque columnist Rex Hupke pulls no punches:
https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/rex-huppke/ct-trump-coup-transition-power-biden-election-supreme-court-gop-huppke-20200925-j2nso6hufrfvzhn5oyb4mddyta-story.html

...
There’s no scam. There’s only an election, one this cowardly little president is clearly frightened he’s going to lose.

So he’s telegraphing a coup, because he’s too clumsy and erratic to hide anything. He’s making it abundantly clear that a Joe Biden victory in the election cannot and will not be legitimate, and that he, the paper-tiger president of the United States, will do everything in his power to scare voters, sow distrust in the electoral system and angle to disenfranchise as many potential Biden voters as possible.

To Trump and his supporters, this is a president showing toughness. To everyone else, it’s a scared little man puffing out his chest to intimidate people and looking like the feckless, aspirational dictator that he is.

It’s pathetic, of course, but it also can’t be ignored. Because this particular feckless, aspirational dictator has every member of his political party marching in goose-step behind him, a remarkable feat given none of them have spines. Those Republicans with their limp torsos and occasionally furrowed brows are helping Trump zip a new Supreme Court justice into place weeks before an election, rendering the word “hypocrisy” meaningless and facilitating the president’s ideal outcome of an election decided by “his” judges.
...

Larry Hart said...

The Chicago Tribune has been around since 1840. In that 180 year history, the first and only Democrat they ever endorsed for president was native son Barack Obama.

Until today.

https://www.chicagotribune.com/opinion/editorials/ct-edit-chicago-tribune-biden-endorsement-20200925-lnyxsb5qvrftnjjmj3rnzj33jy-story.html

...
Why? Because he is viewed as a common sense man of decency who could beat President Donald Trump. Those are, essentially, his top selling points. And they are enough for us, too, to offer a Biden endorsement.
...

Larry Hart said...

As I've said before, this is a deliberate Republican strategy. They act in ways that are so egregious that simply stating the facts of what they are doing is seen as the outrage.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/26/opinion/sunday/trump-politics-humor.html

I’m also frustrated that some forceful criticisms of Trump sometimes come across to undecided voters as strident or over the top. People like me are accused of suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome, and our arguments are dismissed precisely because they are so fervent.


Larry Hart said...

In contrast to prevailing wisdom that it is Democrats who do exactly this...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/25/opinion/amy-coney-barrett-scotus.html

...
Republican lawmakers recognize that the party’s policy positions, what few it has left, anyway, tend to lack broad appeal. Unwilling or unable to win the battle of ideas in areas such as health care and immigration, they are content to outsource the work — and risk — to the judicial branch. As the Republican commentator Amanda Carpenter observed on “The Bulwark Podcast” this week, over the past decade, Republicans gave up on consensus building and doing “the hard work of passing laws,” and instead are aiming to “have the courts solve our problems.” Even with total control of the government, Republicans failed to repeal and replace Obamacare, which they had been promising for years. Instead, they have kicked it to the courts to dismantle.

Republicans understand that ideas matter. They also know that having apparently run out of appealing ones, they must find other ways to exert power. For them, these court fights are increasingly a matter of political life and death.

Alfred Differ said...

meh

anonymous FUD

Civilization will survive this... and adapt.

scidata said...

Re: FUD

Yes, less focus on palace intrigue, more on widespread scientific literacy. Not quick, not easy, but invincible ultimately. The only real long-term unknown is AI.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Civilization will survive this... and adapt.


The optimistic me wants to believe you.

But I'm not starting any continued stories (or binge-watchable tv series) that I can't finish before Nov 3.

Robert said...

Der Oger:
They reject leftist authoritarianism, and embrace the right-wing version of it.

Not surprising at all. "Road to Damascus" conversions, where a fanatic supporter 'flips' and becomes a fanatic opponent, are surprisingly common. Likewise really devout Catholics become Evangelical Protestants. What remains common is the intensity of belief and the level of authoritarianism.

I think it was Hofstadter that noted that the ideology isn't as important to an ideologue as the commitment to the ideology.

duncan cairncross said...

Der Oger

I believe the Queen or her representative does have those theoretical powers here - but its like a fuse - they could only be used ONCE

Which would force a re-appraisal of the actions that forced the fuse to blow

Larry Hart
In the main the governing party controls the legislation before Parliament but there are legislative "slots" that are awarded on a lottery basis so any MP will have a chance of being able to bring his/her legislation forwards

I believe our host has talked about wanting something similar for Congress

As far as Queen Elizabeth is concerned I believe that having a sovereign with no actual power that the actual person with the power has to bow to is a really good idea and has got to be good for the Prime Minister's soul (and hence for the rest of us)

That means that the UK gets the direct benefit from that state of affairs - and NZ does not

To me having a King/Queen with no actual power is a significant advantage and we should be agitating for one of our own

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

I think it was Hofstadter that noted that the ideology isn't as important to an ideologue as the commitment to the ideology.


What was the line from Life of Brian? Something about "You are the Messiah, and I should know. I've followed quite a few myself."

David Brin said...

onward

onward

David Brin said...

Duncan said: "In the main the governing party controls the legislation before Parliament but there are legislative "slots" that are awarded on a lottery basis so any MP will have a chance of being able to bring his/her legislation forwards I believe our host has talked about wanting something similar for Congress

One of my 31 Top Priority Reforms would give every Representative one SUBPOENA per session, to coerce 3 hours of testimony from anyone before a committee she or he is on.

It will only hurt the ruling majority if they have lots to hide.

NOW onward

onward