Sunday, October 11, 2020

More on why OUTCOMES show Republican "economics" betrays markets, fiscal sense and the future: Chapter 11's second part.

  Last time we did part one of Chapter 11 of Polemical Judo, showing many of the hypocrisies of Republican claims to be the defenders of enterprise and markets and a functionally positive, growing economy. Democrats harp on the unfairness of skyrocketing wealth and power disparities as they should!   But this chapter shows that the GOP commits treason against their own declared values!  And that is definitely a powerful point.

Now comes part two... though I am already resigned that not a single member of the Democratic political caste or the punditry will pay the slightest heed to this arsenal of facts and spears to skewer hypocrisy. 

 

Chapter 11

 

 Economics –

No, you don’t get Adam Smith… and Other Rationalizations

 

Part Two  NOSTRA CULPA


In May 2018 a petition[1] was sent to the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs by 36 eminent retired general and field officers in the U. S. Armed Forces, along with retired civilian leaders from the National Security Council; the Departments of State, Treasury, Defense, Justice, Commerce and so on. Were these sage protectors concerned about foreign despots? Terrorists? White and blue collar criminals? Drug lords?

 

As it happens, all of the above are empowered and enabled by secret-anonymous shell corporations. And surprise, the leading nexus of these dark dens is not Switzerland, or the Cayman Islands. It is the state of Delaware. Followed by many others of these not-so-United States. From that petition:

 

“The U.S. remains the easiest place in the world to set up an anonymous shell company according to an academic study from the University of Texas and Brigham Young University….  These companies have put Americans at risk and worse – criminals enjoy the benefits of strong investment returns and total secrecy here in the U.S. Drug cartels and human trafficking operations have long understood the benefits of corporate secrecy to launder money from criminal enterprises. More recently, anonymous companies are implicated in terror financing, fraudulent contracting with our military, and even sanctions evasion.”

 

These eminent leaders added: “As we ratchet up sanctions against hostile nations, it is telling to note that the Iranian Government previously skirted our sanctions for years by utilizing a web of shell companies, including some registered in the United States, to buy a skyscraper on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.”

 

Read the letter here, and spread the word.[2] No, this Congress won’t do anything to benefit the nation, humanity or the future.  But tracks and seeds can be laid.[3]

 

We will return again and again in this book to my principal theme, conveyed back in 1997’s The Transparent Society.  There is no ingredient to our Enlightenment more absolutely necessary than light.

 

“Most ‘Wealth’ Isn’t the Result of Hard Work. It Has Been Accumulated by Being Idle and Unproductive. It’s time to call the housing crisis what it really is: the largest transfer of wealth in living memory.”  [4]

 

 

OUTCOMES?

LET’S COMPARE ACTUAL OUTCOMES

 

Should economics be treated like any other science, with confident theories tested by experimental evidence? Comparing predictions with outcomes?[5]  Lenin thrashed till his death over contradictions between Marxist theory and actual events. Mao dealt with inconsistencies by killing them. Orwell showed us how tyrants adjust “truth” to match theory. From Goebbels to Murdoch to Trump, the notion has been “repeat something truthy-sounding incessantly and get rallies chanting it. Sheer will can triumph over mere data.” (You can see why the fact professions are inconvenient.)

 

Earlier in this chapter we dealt with one major modern falsehood – Supply Side so-called “economics,” which has the startling 0% successful forecast rate. But here it’s time to reveal a different a calumny… and a calamity. The calumny – an outright lie that Americans are all taught to believe for all their adult lives - is the Republican claim that they are pragmatic and frugal, while Democrats are wastrels

 

Our calamity is the absolute refusal of any Democratic politician or liberal or moderate pundit to hammer that lie, then pound it again, and again until it shatters. 

 

Want that hammer? Okay, buckle up. Here it is:[6] The crucial second derivative of debt[7]is the pace at which the rate-of-change of the federal debt is itself changing… either accelerating toward fiscal disaster or braking away from it. That measure was positive (toward accelerating debt) during almost every year of every Republican administration since Eisenhower.

 

In stark contrast – that crucial metric is always negative (deceleration) every year of every Democratic administration. Let that sink in, because it is diametrically opposite to rhetoric that’s become “truthy” in our minds. 

 

Why is the second derivative of debt more valid than - say - looking at just the size of this year’s budget deficit? Because our fiscal situation carries momentum from actions taken three to five years ago, even a decade. Stepping on the brakes does not instantly stop your hurtling car – it decelerates your rush toward that cliff. Hence, the second derivative tells you - almost instantly - whether an administration is at least trying to be fiscally responsible.

 

 Examine the second derivative of debt in this 2015 chart of the U.S. federal deficit as a fraction of U.S. GDP. Wherever the curve is seen turning, go ahead and guesstimate a rough center to that stretch of curve. Of course there are bumps, so a little subjective smoothing is called for. But if, across any three to five year span, the center point of your curve lies above, then the arc is swinging toward up-vertical and debt is on a worsening track

 

If the center of a curve is below, there's an improving trend. Decelerating deficits curve back down, even toward surplus. Think convex versus concave.

 

Recall: GOP administrations began in 1969, 1981, 1989, 2001 and 2017. Democratic ones in 1977, 1993 and 2009. Now draw your curves. It truly is amazing! Here’s a marked-up version of that chart, as I posted it in 2015.

 


 The illustration above was revealing when I published it, late during the Obama Administration. Let me reiterate. The rate of change of the rate of change of debt was positive (toward reckless deficits) during almost every year of every Republican administration (post Eisenhower). It was negative (building momentum toward prudence) in every year of every democratic administration (post Johnson). Now add in this bald-faced fact – that Bush Administration accounting tricks kept costs of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars “off the books” for half a decade, letting them slam the formal deficit just when economic mismanagement sent the economy into hell, leaving behind a mess that included hyper-velocity debt. In other words, the 2006-2007 “dip” is a lie.

 

Okay, for a later Kindle update, I just had to insert this stolen cartoon from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, one of the greatest of all web comix:



Here is another way to look at the same fundamental data – the ratio of national debt to GDP – spread over a much longer range showing how it was consensus policy across the Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson administrations (initials HST, DDE, JFK and LBJ) to ask the rich to help pay down debt left over from WWII. That pay-down continued even into the Vietnam quagmire. But this bipartisan consensus ended with the arrival of “Laffer Theory” – the basic juju underlying Supply Side incantations. Starting slowly under Nixon and Ford (RMN, GRF), the cult incantation was “give the already-rich all the money, and they’ll invest it wisely, stimulating an economy that’s spectacular for all.”

 

Of course that’s being charitable. While there certainly were sincere lafferites, the core catechism became “give the already-rich all the money.” Period.

 



 

Take away their claim of ‘economic pragmatism”

 

One concocted excuse for why we had budget surpluses under Bill Clinton is that “Congress controls the purse strings.” Okay then, let’s dissect it. 

 

The GOP controlled Congress from 1995 to 2007. That’s for six years before Bill Clinton left office and for 6 years after he departed. Notice that the 2nd Derivative of debt was negative during those first six, then swung sharply positive the very instant that a Republican president replaced him, when Clinton could no longer veto the annual Supply Side Voodoo Economics Bill, opening our arteries to the (non) "job-creator caste." Just one political factor changed, allowing the lightbulb switch from black to red ink.  Oh no, credit for those surpluses does not go to the right.

 

As for Obama, he inherited the mess of Bush’s 2007 economic calamity, so deficits started out huge, not only because of those Bush Supply Side tax cuts, but also as the feds rightfully stepped in with stimulation to prevent a depression. But notice the second derivative… the rate by which the rate of change of deficit changed… is negative. The center of curvature is way below the chart-line during Obama’s terms. Even amid an inherited super-recession, with a GOP Congress refusing to tax the rich, the rate of bleeding was tipping downward again… until…

 

… till the 2016 election prompted a number of wagers over what would happen when a Republican was back in the White House with a GOP Congress, vowing grandly to get debt under control. Let’s have a look: 

 




Indeed, deficits under Donald Trump skyrocketed past a trillion dollars per year. (Note this chapter was prepared BEFORE CORONAVIRUS! Making it seem quaint.)


Naturally, GOP pundits rave that no fault should go to the one major thing they changed, post-Obama – the latest arterial gusher of largesse flowing to the top 0.001%, under the 2019 Tax Cuts. Supply Side voodoo that never made a single successful forecast. Even once, ever.

 

Again, the trend is absolute. Pure. A fact that you can set your watch by. We always see fiscal responsibility and debt deceleration across the span of Democratic administrations. There are always wastrel deficit skyrocketings across GOP presidential terms. Absolutely always. 

 

You have been told a “truthy” lie all your lives – one that Democratic politicians and liberal/moderate pundits have stupidly ceded. Snap out of it!  

 

And forget judo. Use this as a bludgeon.


 

 

Footnotes

[1] A petition was sent… https://thefactcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/20180531-National-Security-BOT-Support-Letter-Senate-Final.pdf

 

[2] https://thefactcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/20180531-National-Security-BOT-Support-Letter-Senate-Final.pdf

 

[3] This is reminiscent of the “Helvetian War” that I described in my 1989 novel EARTH. Only I never expected “Helvetia” to stand for America.

 

[4] Evonomics: https://evonomics.com/unproductive-rent-housing-macfarlane/

 

[5] The following is from a 2012 blog, linking to other, earlier comparisons of outcomes: http://redgreenandblue.org/2012/09/19/david-brin-the-gop-wont-run-on-their-record-they-run-from-it/  “Since 1960, Republicans have controlled the White House 28 years, and the Democrats 24. And in those years, Democratic administrations have created 42 million jobs, and Republican ones 24 million jobs. This, according to a Bloomberg analysis of BLS data, is a devastating set of numbers – and by the way, the stock market has performed better during Democratic tenures as well, as another Bloomberg analysis showed that returns on investment under Democrats have done about nine times better than under Republicans.

        “But let’s assume you folks are members of that dying race, wonk-citizens who are moved by facts.  Try this explication of economic growth vs. debt under the two parties.  Do you still believe (against all evidence) that the GOP is the way to fight the deficit? Or unemployment? In modern times every Democratic presidential administration left office with a lower unemployment rate than when they took office.  But only one Republican Administration has managed this accomplishment.  That fact is basic.  Devastating.  Absolutely verified and true. Ask your adamant-ostrich friends to name one unambiguous statistical metric of national health that went up as a direct result of Republican rule. They cannot. So, what is the GOP sales pitch? It amounts to ” Okay we’re terrible! Insane and corrupt. But Democrats are worse! So hire us again, no matter how awful we were!”

 

[6] Updated from “Do Outcomes Matter More Than Rhetoric?” http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2014/06/so-do-outcomes-matter-more-than-rhetoric.html

 

[7] In calculus lingo, the first derivative of national debt is the total deficit. The second derivative is how that deficit changes, year to year. 

 


58 comments:

Alfred Differ said...

Larry, [From last thread]

I think you confuse grants with claims.

You live in a Common Law nation. What isn't expressly forbidden, yada, yada. Such nations don't grant squat to free natural persons. This is old-school liberalism that modern liberals tend to neglect.

1. You CLAIM something
2. Government chooses to…
a. recognize your claim,
b. ignore your claim,
c. intervene against your claim.

Most things you do in your day-to-day life produce result 2b. That's a big part of what we mean by Liberty.

We elect legislators who…
A. Write laws requiring government recognition of claims,
B. Write laws requiring government intervention against claims,
C. Cause government to act in ways that ignore claims.

If you ever find yourself before a judge, you are either trying to prevent 2c if it harms you or cause 2c if it involves someone else doing harm. What is allowed to Judge and Prosecutor is determined by A-C and the case law that supports precedent for interpretations involving A-C avoiding arbitrariness.

This is a long-winded way of saying you are NOT granted limited liability. Your right to such is recognized because someone wrote A and a court case might produce result 2a if you haven't behaved in a way that causes C. (For example, 'piercing the veil' in a limited liability corp can happen if you co-mingle funds.)

'Grants' are for juridical persons. You are not one.

Russ Abbott said...

I've often asked that same question. Democratic administrations are far more fiscally responsible than Republican administrations. Why don't we say more about that? I don't know.

Trump has had a strong economy his entire presidency. Yet he has run deficits ranging from $600 billion to about $1 trillion. (https://bipartisanpolicy.org/report/deficit-tracker/) Why did we never hear a Democrat call them out about it? Instead, Democrats kept their mouths shut and allowed the "tax-and-spend" label to continue to stick. Why?

I absolutely agree with you. It's crazy.

the hanged man said...

TCB (from last thread),

You spoke of being worried about the safety of absentee ballots, and how right you are to be worried. The following article from the Orange County Register details a number of incidents of fake ballot drop boxes in California. I am afraid these will be popping up all over states that provide drop boxes.

https://www.ocregister.com/2020/10/11/unofficial-ballot-drop-boxes-popping-up-throughout-the-state-worry-elections-officials/amp

duncan cairncross said...

From the previous discussion

Alfred for some weird reason appears to believe that all of the laws and standards that we use to create a society were somehow delivered from heaven or are "Basic Laws of Nature" - rather than being LAWS that we the society have designed

We can and SHOULD change those rules to ensure that the resultant society is closer to an "optimum"

Arguing about the optimum is sensible

Arguing that somehow todays laws are either "natural" or already optimum is much much LESS sensible

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Grants' are for juridical persons. You are not one.


I'm very confused as to what we're arguing about. :)

My "Second Law of Corporatics" was based on the notion that the state does grant privileges to a corporation--a judicial person--and that they do so with the expectation that the societal cost of granting those perks is compensated by the value that that corporation provides to society. And that therefore, it is reasonable to expect the corporation to stick to its end of the bargain, especially since it will move heaven and earth in court to make sure the state sticks to its end.

I said nothing about actual human beings being granted rights or privileges. And as far as I can tell, you've been arguing that a corporation has a right to exist in whatever form it chooses including a bait-and-switch fraud perpetrated upon society. Not in those words exactly. :)

It's as if corporations are protected but not bound by the law.

Der Oger said...

Austerity Politics: If the Democrats reduced national debt, and Republicans increased it, it could be interesting to see where all those trillions went to. I have a distinct intuition it wasn't spent on education, infrastructure, healthcare and other projects that benefit the common good.

Also, the need to invest in these areas might very well be necessary, only to bring America back on par with other industrial nations, so massive loans AND higher taxation might be needed.

Plus, strict austerity politics aren't always a good thing, politically. BrĂ¼ning failed*, and during the last few years, France, Italy and Greece seemed to fall into the arms of political extremists (and they may still do.)

One last thought: One "Judo"-Idea would be to propose an amendment to the constitution installing an upper limit to the debts you may make during your tenure. While the Democrats would support it (at least that is what I get from the charts presented), the Republicans would either have to support the idea, or having to openly drop it.

*This was one of his mistakes, the other being governing by presidential emergency orders when he lacked parliamentary support. Though not the same, US presidential executive orders are at least related, in my opinion. It helped to turn away voters from democracy, hollowing it out. But this might be a debate for another day.

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

One "Judo"-Idea would be to propose an amendment to the constitution installing an upper limit to the debts you may make during your tenure.


Bad idea, actually. Republicans have been running on the idea of a "balanced budget Amendment" since Reagan. What they hope to accomplish is to force draconian cuts to social programs. Such a thing would have made fiscal stimulus during the recessions of 2008 and now impossible.

A Democratic president (Clinton) and a Republican congress did work together to turn the deficit into a surplus and start paying down the national debt. As soon as a Republican president took over, that surplus was turned back into a deficit again by way of tax cuts and then the endless War On Terror. I think (hope) that Democrats have learned from that experience that there's no point in reining in our spending because that just gives Republicans more funds to spend on their priorities.

Also, no one seems to remember this now, but back before 9/11, Alan Greenspan was terrified at the thought of the national debt being wiped out. He and W did everything they could to make sure that didn't happen.

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

Though not the same, US presidential executive orders are at least related, in my opinion. It helped to turn away voters from democracy, hollowing it out.


Republicans screamed bloody murder over President Obama's executive orders, but now that Trump is the one giving them, the same Republicans claim that "God and the Founding Fathers gave us executive orders to overcome congressional gridlock." I don't exaggerate.

Acacia H. said...

The problem is, Republicans chant "tax-and-spend" and it is quick and easy on the tongue.

What Republicans do is "cut taxes and spend!" - in short, they cut taxes and still spend all that money. But when you mention cutting taxes? People are for that. So you can't exactly use political judo on it. And if you say "charge-and-spend!" well, people don't quite grasp what is going on here.

So you have a quick and easy line for Republicans to chant... or actual information which takes longer to express and isn't as easy to understand. There is a reason why Republicans keep winning on this argument.

Acacia

Larry Hart said...

Acacia H:

So you can't exactly use political judo on it. And if you say "charge-and-spend!" well, people don't quite grasp what is going on here.


"Borrow and spend".

If you are ok using a few more words, just repeat the Republican mantra of "leaving the costs to your grandchildren." Which is what they accuse us of doing.

Der Oger said...

"Republicans screamed bloody murder over President Obama's executive orders, but now that Trump is the one giving them, the same Republicans claim that "God and the Founding Fathers gave us executive orders to overcome congressional gridlock." I don't exaggerate."

This one isn't about partisanship. It is about separation of powers, and the alienation of voters. If they loose faith in the system and realize for themselves that their votes don't matter, they either stay at home on voting day, or opt for radicals who promise them to overthrow the current political system. Or form armed militias to "protect the constitution", as in "Let's abduct a state governor we hate and bring her to trial and execute her in public."

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

If they loose faith in the system and realize for themselves that their votes don't matter, they either stay at home on voting day, or opt for radicals who promise them to overthrow the current political system. Or form armed militias to "protect the constitution", as in "Let's abduct a state governor we hate and bring her to trial and execute her in public."


I think liberals and minorities have a more valid claim on "los[ing] faith in the system and realiz[ing] that [our] votes don't matter."

The ones who form militias and act as Brownshirts claim they are being unfairly left out, but it seems to me that what's happening is that their outsized influence is being diluted just a tiny bit by the vocal presence of others, and they find being outvoted to be sufficiently intolerable that "When in the course of human events..." applies.

Alfred Differ said...

duncan,

somehow delivered from heaven

Pfft. Don't know where you get that idea. The 'Basic Laws' thing is also crap.

What I believe is that the 'laws' we use in society emerge. We write some of them down when we have to, but mostly they are unwritten.

Arguing about the optimum is sensible

Ah. This again.

No. It is not (globally) sensible.
It IS locally sensible. Basically, among people who can agree on goals, it makes sense.
Not so between groups, though.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

We aren't arguing this time anymore than we usually do. 8)

I understand that your 2nd law was based on the notion that the state grants privileges to corporations/juridical persons. The reason I was going off in that other direction was related to your beef with Hobby Lobby. Your beef is about a disconnect between what you think the state should recognize and what the Hobby Lobby owners think it should recognize. In their frame of mind, they have NOT abandoned certain rights to their corporation, thus when a State fails to recognize THEIR rights as natural persons (acting through the corporation) they feel they are personally impacted.

It is not an invalid argument on their part. State recognition of 'rights' of corporations depends on what we encode in law. In a Common Law nation, a failure to encode something means some of us can argue it is allowed while others can argue it is not allowed. Thus... conflict.

I quibble slightly on states granting privileges to corporations too. Mostly they are recognizing claims made by private individuals organized as juridical persons. The mechanism of recognition, though, sure LOOKS like a grant. So… I won't argue much more than I would argue that a marriage license used to be an actual license… but isn't much more than a recognition nowadays.
________
And as far as I can tell, you've been arguing that a corporation has a right to exist in whatever form it chooses including a bait-and-switch fraud perpetrated upon society.

Heh. Well… The founders can certainly try to get away with that. I know of 501(c)3's that had to be dismantled because they really WERE bait and switch frauds. But no. Juridical persons do not have a right to exist… unless natural persons demand it and can achieve a significant consensus in our communities to get legislation written ensuring government recognizes that right. As one of those community members, I argue they have a right to… persist… if they aren't engaging in behavior that would be criminal for a natural person.

The tricky thing, though, is that I think natural persons DO have a right to create juridical persons in many ways that fall short of turning natural persons into juridical persons. Participation must be euvoluntary.

It's as if corporations are protected but not bound by the law.
That's out of left field and very far from what I believe is true, let alone what must be defended.

Alfred Differ said...

Personally, I think the GOP stance on public debt makes most sense when one considers the needs of their donors. Wealthy rentiers do NOT have their money stashed in the stock markets. Those markets are way too small… and risky. The bond markets are much larger.

Public debt = supply in a bond market
Stored wealth seeking rents = demand in a bond market

Too much supply drives prices down. For bonds that maps to driving interest rates up which can harm portfolio values when you hold earlier, lower rate bonds.
Too much demand drives prices up. For bonds that maps to low interest rates. Maybe even negative rates. We've seen this recently.

Read Piketty on this. He nails it. If interest on bonds cannot beat economic growth from other sources, bond traders lose ground relative to the 'unwashed' masses. That growth can come from intrinsic growth like productivity or from more babies. The result is about the same. (My beef with Piketty lies elsewhere. He didn't account for the primary source of wealth for the Bourgeoisie.)

So… if you are a member of the haute-bourgeoisie and don't want a lot of social mobility, you will use your money to achieve sufficient supply of low risk bonds to provide for your rents being large enough to beat economic growth. Not too much. Not too little. Not too much risk as well, for that would be like playing in the stock market.

What happened at the end of Clinton's two terms was a bond market that literally feared that the supply of Treasuries would dry up. The economy was doing well and federal revenues were coming in fast enough that we weren't re-financing maturing bonds all the time… let alone at a juicy price. They FEARED this. [I remember it clearly in the news and financial papers.]

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

What happened at the end of Clinton's two terms was a bond market that literally feared that the supply of Treasuries would dry up. The economy was doing well and federal revenues were coming in fast enough that we weren't re-financing maturing bonds all the time… let alone at a juicy price. They FEARED this. [I remember it clearly in the news and financial papers.]


That's what I was remembering also--that Alan Greenspan was in a panic over the fact that the national debt might go negative. And I understand the underlying reasons, or at least I can understand that such conditions might exist. But that should be a lesson. If our economy depends on a certain level of national debt in order to function optimally, then those same people who require a national debt should shut up about the deficit being the greatest threat to our economy.

Not holding my breath, though.


Larry,
...
I understand that your 2nd law was based on the notion that the state grants privileges to corporations/juridical persons.


That's the legal rationalization for my thinking, but essentially, it's an analogue Asimov's Second Law, because my Three Laws of Corporatics were designed as Asimov's Laws were to make corporations (or robots) useful tools as opposed to Frankenstein monsters.

You reject the idea that the corporation is a tool designed for a purpose, which I find strange, but you know more about the nuts and bolts of corporate functioning, so I'll defer a bit. However, the analogy between corporations and robots might still be applicable as Asimov's robots also morphed from mere tools to autonomous beings as time went by.


The reason I was going off in that other direction was related to your beef with Hobby Lobby. Your beef is about a disconnect between what you think the state should recognize and what the Hobby Lobby owners think it should recognize. In their frame of mind, they have NOT abandoned certain rights to their corporation, thus when a State fails to recognize THEIR rights as natural persons (acting through the corporation) they feel they are personally impacted.


Ok, I think you're saying that religious individuals are able to form a corporation which shares their religious values. It just blows my mind that for decades, we've been lectured to that we can't expect corporations to act as good citizens as far as the health and well-being of their employees or their surrounding communities go. Because the corporation is an amoral money-making engine which by law may only act in service of maximizing profit. It absolutely blows my mind that Republicans have finally decided that corporations can have moral values after all--that they can't be expected to pay a decent wage or to remediate pollution, but by gosh they can oppose contraception!


"It's as if corporations are protected but not bound by the law."

That's out of left field and very far from what I believe is true, let alone what must be defended.


Ok, that wasn't what you were arguing, but it was what decisions like "Citizens United" seem to be heading for. Corporations apparently have all the rights and protections of the Bill of Rights with none of the corresponding responsibilities to be good citizens.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

If our economy depends on a certain level of national debt in order to function optimally…

That's the key. I don't think it does depend on a certain level of national debt. Our political Overlords DO, but our markets DO NOT.

Think on it. If we could magically wave the wand and make national debt disappear (pay it off… not default) what exactly would happen? Rentiers make a whole lot of money in a market that would be deprived of a product that can be most easily manipulated by the political caste. That's what! Now what? Those Overlords still have a lever to pull with the politicians, but what does it win them in return?

My general wish goes like this…

Y'all want to raise taxes on them to even the field.
I want to deprive them of a product that draws their interest in manipulating the political caste.
Raise taxes if you think it helps, but for goodness sakes… stop supplying them with the very bonds and notes Piketty points to when he describes how they finance their rape of us.

____________

you reject the idea that the corporation is a tool designed for a purpose…

Close. It's not a tool. It's a juridical person through which natural persons amplify the impacts of certain behaviors. I think the robot analogy is apt. They weren't really tools either, right?

we've been lectured to that we can't expect corporations to act as good citizens

Yah. Proponents of utility maximization have been at that for decades. Turns out they are mistaken. Friedman pointed out part of the flaw even though he still advocated for Mr. Max U.

We must not let it stand. The corporation is no more amoral than we are. The proof is simple. WE compose our corporations and partnerships. If we won't tolerate amoral behavior from each other, we must not tolerate it from business organizations. However, we should not treat them as natural persons. They can't be, thus we need to define the ethics system we expect of them.

See? Your Three Laws are a decent cut at this problem. If you studied Virtue Ethics, though, you might recognize the 'robots' you are attempting to describe. You'll probably need seven laws… not three.

Der Oger said...

"I think liberals and minorities have a more valid claim on "los[ing] faith in the system and realiz[ing] that [our] votes don't matter."

The ones who form militias and act as Brownshirts claim they are being unfairly left out, but it seems to me that what's happening is that their outsized influence is being diluted just a tiny bit by the vocal presence of others, and they find being outvoted to be sufficiently intolerable that "When in the course of human events..." applies."

I don't contradict, and I don't see a contradiction in "Staying at home" and "Supporting Extremists". In my opinion, these are to sides of the same coin: Losing trust in democracy and the state of law. If even in secure blue states an authoritarian proto-dictator like Trump gains 30%+ of the vote, something worse is underway.

I always have been taught that voting is not only your right, it is your duty. If you don't vote for something you like, someone else will vote for something you don't like. By withholding your vote, you strengthen the extremists.

ADD: Brownshirts: It might be helpful to remind them what happened to the SA in '34 and afterwards when the NS Party leadership decided they wouldn't be of use anymore. The same goes for their conservative enablers.

Larry Hart said...

It's not just me noticing...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/12/opinion/republicans-supreme-court-barrett.html

...

In October 2016, Senator Ted Cruz suggested that the Senate, which had refused to even consider Barack Obama’s nominee to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat, wouldn’t move on a Clinton nominee either, essentially reducing the court to eight judges. “There is certainly long historical precedent for a Supreme Court with fewer justices,” he said.
...

Now, facing another presidential election that they expect to lose, Republicans are caterwauling about Democratic calls to expand the court. As they prepare to jam through Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, Republicans are shocked — shocked! — that Democrats would contemplate playing constitutional hardball just as Republicans do. If Democrats jettison the Senate filibuster and add judges to the Supreme Court, Senator Ben Sasse said on “Fox News Sunday,” they’d be “suicide bombing” American institutions.

Say this for Republicans: They are very good at umbrage. It might even be sincere; from Reconstruction to the New Deal to the civil rights revolution, conservatives have long felt genuinely victimized by the prospect of equality. That doesn’t mean, however, that bad-faith right-wing arguments about the courts merit a respectful hearing.
...

Darrell E said...

Larry Hart said...

"quoting Alfred Differ:

"What happened at the end of Clinton's two terms was a bond market that literally feared that the supply of Treasuries would dry up. The economy was doing well and federal revenues were coming in fast enough that we weren't re-financing maturing bonds all the time… let alone at a juicy price. They FEARED this. [I remember it clearly in the news and financial papers.]"



That's what I was remembering also--that Alan Greenspan was in a panic over the fact that the national debt might go negative. And I understand the underlying reasons, or at least I can understand that such conditions might exist. But that should be a lesson. If our economy depends on a certain level of national debt in order to function optimally, then those same people who require a national debt should shut up about the deficit being the greatest threat to our economy.

Not holding my breath, though.
"

I'd add that if our economy depends on a certain level of national debt in order to function optimally then we sure as heck should be leery of the juicy incentive this is for the giant LC&S of the financial world capable of taking advantage of it. This is a classic example of why, when & where regulation of markets is necessary.

Larry Hart said...

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/13/opinion/barrett-biden-mcconnell.html

...
This view — that if it’s allowed, it’s allowed — has been the dominant ethos of Republicans and their conservative allies going back at least as far as President Obama’s second term. It’s how they justified their blockade of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, filibustering Obama’s nominees and denouncing as “court packing” — a familiar refrain — his attempt to fill the vacancies. It’s also how they justified the subsequent obstruction of Merrick Garland’s path to the Supreme Court, arguing outright that the Senate’s constitutional power to “advise and consent” also included the right to deny a hearing altogether.


Obviously, I totally agree, but the writer doesn't go far enough into understanding the Republican position. He presumes that it it blatant hypocrisy to scream about a Democratic president's actions and then take the same actions themselves with no hint of shame. And for those Senators actually pulling the strings of power, it surely is.

But for Republican voters, I think there's a subtler dynamic at work that even they themselves might not consciously perceive. They believe that conservatives are the true claimants to positions of power and authority, and that elections are simply the means to elevate those conservatives to their rightful positions. Thus, even legal attempts by a Democratic president to fill seats with liberals is "court packing", while extremism in the defense of filling those same seats with conservatives is simply the way things are meant to be. Obama is doing something sinister--using his power to do bad things--while Trump and Senate Republicans are doing good. They perceive Obama as The Joker and Trump as Batman, trading punches and both trying to beat the other into submission, but "punching Batman" is a bad thing, while "punching The Joker" is not.

There's no shame because in their own minds, there's no hypocrisy. I doubt they even know what someone like me is accusing them of.


Of course, what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. Once you reject the constraints imposed by norms in favor of an instrumentalism bound only by the text of the Constitution — an “originalist” politics, perhaps — you cannot then turn to those norms to protest an escalatory response or reprisal. Or rather you can, but no one has to take you seriously when you do.
...


On that last point, I can't argue. Republicans will do and say what Republicans will do and say. If Democrats regain power, they must ignore the nonsense and govern without trying to play by their rules.

And just to re-iterate for those who say that Biden and Harris are planning to pack the court (even those who agree with the strategy). It's not up to the president to do so. It's up to Congress.

Larry Hart said...

How activist conservative judges either perceive themselves or market themselves as "originalists", "textualists", or "Constitutionalists" is beyond my understanding.

From Stonekettle's Twitter feed:


@JillFilipovic
"They are not expressed" in the Constitution, Barrett says about the rights to contraception and abortion. She also says she's an Originalist who believes that rights not explicitly stated in the Constitution are not protected. So take that for what you will.

@Stonekettle reply
Ninth Amendment : “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”

The Constitution SPECIFICALLY protects rights NOT enumerated in the Constitution.

You'd think a fucking judge would know that

David Brin said...

The two final GOP matras are:
"Because we can"
and
"Democracy and freedom are no longer compatible."

The former needs to be hurled in their faces when they whine over what's to come.

The latter is spectacular treason that originated with Peter Thiel last year. Fear and loathing of "the mob" - citing anecdotes from history to justify peeling the ignorant masses' hands of the tiller of state... for their own good, of course. This is the mantra of an oligarchy and their own MAGA mob that know they cannot win fairly at the ballot box and has spent the last 30 years desperately cheating... and profiting from the fact that they've had vast power, despite losing thepopular vote all but once, across all that time.

Of course it's racist, too. To MAGA minds, "the mob" is colored. But it also includes most college educated Americans. And the more that people know, the more likely they are to want a revolution of reform to stop the cheating that keeps oligarchs and foreign meddling-despots' filthy hands off the tiller.

Given what we achieved after the last time oligarchy was swatted down... the 1930s and 40s by the Greatest Generation... I think history's testimony is hugely on our side.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

I want to deprive them of a product that draws their interest in manipulating the political caste.


I'm not arguing with your sentiment, but that's almost what happened toward the end of Clinton's term. And rather than be deprived, they moved heaven and earth to make sure the surplus turned back into a deficit. And then they financed operations like the Tea Party to make sure we'd never run a surplus again, and resurrected Supply Side economics (which should have died in 2008) so that their voters could feel like they were against deficits while actually insisting on policies which would grow them.

So it seems as if actually depriving them of that asset will be about as easy as passing a Constitutional Amendment to get rid of the Electoral College.

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

I don't contradict, and I don't see a contradiction in "Staying at home" and "Supporting Extremists". In my opinion, these are to sides of the same coin: Losing trust in democracy and the state of law. If even in secure blue states an authoritarian proto-dictator like Trump gains 30%+ of the vote, something worse is underway.


In case it wasn't clear, I wasn't arguing against you--just adding my point of view to what you were talking about.


I always have been taught that voting is not only your right, it is your duty. If you don't vote for something you like, someone else will vote for something you don't like. By withholding your vote, you strengthen the extremists.


Exactly what I mean when I come down on lefties for refusing to vote for what they consider "The lesser of two evils", thereby helping the greater of two evils win. And not just the slightly-greater evil either. By refusing to support what they consider an imperfect liberal, they get someone who actively subverts the entire Enlightenment system.


ADD: Brownshirts: It might be helpful to remind them what happened to the SA in '34 and afterwards when the NS Party leadership decided they wouldn't be of use anymore. The same goes for their conservative enablers.


Exactly why I keep quoting the line from the film Cabaret immediately following the song "Tomorrow Belongs To Me."

"Still think you can control them?"

One would think that lesson has already been learned.

matthew said...

ACB refuses to admit that POTUS does not have the power to delay a presidential election.

https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/520800-barrett-declines-to-say-if-trump-can-unilaterally-delay-election

I'll say it again, POTUS' emergency powers are exactly what a 5-4, now 6-3 SCOTUS says they are.

And I'll ask again, what are your (individually, not just our host) plans when this happens? Mass strike? A sternly-voiced letter to your Congressman? Complain about how the GOP cheats but then say "He was dully elected though..."

When is the obvious cheating going to be enough to declare that the process is not working? The fake ballot drop boxes in California? The 12 hour waits to vote in Georgia?

ACB's nomination is part of a plan for a coup. We are seeing it in motion everyday. Get out the vote is all fine and dandy, but how about the illegitimacy that makes it necessary for Democrats to win huge before we win at all?

Larry Hart said...

matthew:

I'll say it again, POTUS' emergency powers are exactly what a 5-4, now 6-3 SCOTUS says they are.


Not exactly. POTUS's emergency powers are exactly what the states and the citizens accept that they are. Yes, there is a large inertia toward accepting the technically legal rather than risk chaos. But there's a level of blatant cheating at which, say, Illinois will act as a sovereign nation and go, "Fuck the king!"

BTW, in your linked article, this is what she says:

"Well, senator, if that question ever came before me, I would need to hear arguments from the litigants and read the briefs and consult with my law clerks and talk to my colleagues and go through the opinion writing process," Barrett said.


The argument against is, "Read the Constitution". For her to rule otherwise would be to give up the claim of "originalism" or "textualism". Might almost be worth the trade.

scidata said...

Re: Cabaret

Along those lines, I forget where, but I recently saw that bizarre Covita short renamed "Triumph of the Ill".

Acacia H. said...

Concerning the National Debt, I have a sneaky little solution.

Let's pass a law eliminating a number of corporate and millionaire/billionaire loopholes, but then open up a new loophole. That loophole is: you can write off U.S. Government Bonds from your taxes (which must be a minimum of 4 years old) if you turn in the Bond to the government - ie, you "spend" the Bond to pay for the taxes. Ownership of the Government bonds shifts to the U.S. Government which can then "forgive" its own debt. Rentiers using Government Securities to make and shield money lose that source of income while trying to avoid paying taxes, and the National Debt ends up paid down.

That's a bare-bones view of it. I'm sure we can think of a way to make it so the rich don't just buy Securities to avoid paying taxes all the time, though part of that may end up being the *amount* of Securities available for purchase.

Acacia

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

So it seems as if actually depriving them of that asset will be about as easy as passing a Constitutional Amendment to get rid of the Electoral College.

Heh. I respectfully disagree. It all comes down to how much all of you WANT to deprive them of their income. Increasing taxes is a little easier to swallow than limiting spending for some, right? (For others it is the reverse.) Raising taxes has a punitive flavor to it that satisfies our desire for Justice too. Doesn't really work, though. Feels good, but doesn't remove the supply.

With the current state of the public debt our choices are as follows

1. Increase revenue collection rates,
2. Grow out of it at steady collection rates,
3. Inflate the currency,
4. Reduce Spending,
5. Default.

We chose inflation to cope with WWII debt. Default leads to a very ugly future us, but France accepted it to wipe out war debt. UK chose inflation. Over the decades, though, it was growth that really did it for all of us. Not just productivity growth. Babies count too. Our population absolutely boomed during the recovery decades.

[It's hard to sift it all in US numbers because we got involved in other wars over the period. Most importantly, though, we didn't have much to 'recover' except the debt.]

________
How much can you tolerate lowering spending?
Treasuries don't have to be refinanced if you don't support spending.

It's a judo thing. Point at spending programs that you can live without (while grinding your teeth no doubt) and tie that elimination to eliminating some other type of spending that they want to preserve. Let them rename a few Navy ships while you defund one of the old carrier groups AND a social program.

Don't want to defund a social program? Can't find one to sacrifice?
Then you don't really want to win at this. 8)

Pachydermis2 said...

I suppose it is inevitable, what with the politics heating up. When I drop in for a read in recent weeks/months it seems as if ConBrin commentary is the same six or seven commentators and variations on the same two or three themes. That's OK, there are small corners of the internet devoted to all sorts of things. Keeping a conversation community vibrant and diverse is hard work, and in some ways CB - or shall I say DB - has not made the effort. Few stick around for the hefty helpin's of abuse that come from being actually Contrary!

But whatevs. I have a few thoughts I will toss out to provide a different perspective. For those not familiar with my long term status here I've been providing conservative - not Republican - counterpoint for at least 15 years.

In no particular order

1. I don't know how the election will turn out. I don't in fact know if the degree of early voting in swing states means that it has already been decided.

2. There will be, and I'd say should be, concerns and voices raised about the integrity of the vote. The franchise is dear to us all, and voter suppression and voter fraud are but two sides of the coin. That being said I expect and certainly hope for an outcome that is clean enough that we don't get bogged down in the courts.

3. Regards the debates. Biden exceeded my low expectations. He just had to not look visibly senile. Trump looked awful. As an independent voter in a swing state this did nudge the decision needle to the left a bit. I actually think Biden is an awful person but if he just had to look like a plausible figurehead, well OK. I also thought Harris looked like someone who should not be President.

4. The Democrats are running an effective campaign. This is not to comment on its morality, if such a thing exists in politics. But they play the cards they hold and are doing well with candidates that I think we can agree are not ideal.

Perhaps enough for now. I think the next four years are going to be difficult and disappointing. And that's true with either outcome.

Oh, I also think Barrett looks like an excellent SC candidate from what I've seen so far. Shame that political polarization keeps such folks far away from elected office. It's sure turned me off on it.

Pachydermis2

scidata said...

Just getting the odd snippet of the Senate hearing up here. I love the way Lindsey keeps apologizing to Amy for the inconvenience they're putting her through. Treason is such a hassle.

Jon S. said...

Pachy, Barrett has refused to say that upholding the law is a good thing. She also doesn't appear to think it's necessary for a president to commit to a peaceful transition of power when voted out of office. How does that make her an "excellent" candidate for a lifetime SCOTUS appointment?

Pachydermis2 said...

Jon

She's doing what every SC nominee has done in recent memory...saying she needs to actually hear a case to have an opinion. And the Senators are all doing what they do, trying to set her up either for a no vote or for a demand for recusal later. The latter being especially apt with cases known or likely to appear before her as an Associate Justice.

This is at least, so far, not the tawdry debauch that was the Kavanaugh hearing.

Pachy

Acacia H. said...

Pachydermis2, how is Barrett a better candidate for a Supreme Court justice than Merrick Garland, a man who the Republican Party refused to allow to even be considered for the position?

I kind of remember how Republicans stated that Obama should only get two Supreme Court picks. This is despite the fact that the position that Merrick Garland would have filled was void for three quarters of a year. Well, Trump has had two picks. Why should he get a third? We're talking about a man who is a national security risk, is deep in debt, has instigated racial conflict, refuses to disown white supremacy, and has refused to state he will step down if the elections don't go in his favor which is contrary to the will of the Founding Fathers and has been against the view of a peaceful succession of power for the entirety of every President of the United States... and I count Lincoln becoming President. (That a bunch of States then seceded is on those state governments, not on the peaceful succession of power between heads of state.)

Trump is an illegitimate President. To be honest? I consider his Supreme Court picks to be suspect. And for the Republican Party to act the way it has been is downright treasonous. They are spitting on the Constitution and on this country. They no longer believe in Democracy. They intend on becoming the new Aristocracy under a dictatorship run by the Republicans, and their actions make this increasingly clear.

If Republicans refuse to acknowledge the 2020 elections if they lose the Senate and Presidency, how will you respond? Will you say "the Democrats are as bad" and "the elections are corrupt and can't be trusted!" or will you say "these men have to stand down and accept the results of this election" much as Democrats reluctantly accepted the results of the 2016 election.

Acacia

Pachydermis2 said...

The "job of a judge is to apply the law," she said. "And so it's not the heart that compels conclusions in cases. It's the law. The judge applies the law to the facts before that judge."

P2

Larry Hart said...

So today was a rare day off. I don't take many. But I had a doctor's appointment in the morning and figured I'd early-vote later in the day, so I took the whole day off.

Made the mistake of checking my work e-mails. Out of the blue, the woman I've been probably more appreciative of than a married man should be was "separated" from the company last night. Of course, there are no details forthcoming.

I post this here as a living metaphor, because between COVID and the upcoming election battle, I increasingly have the feeling that doors to "life as I know it" are closing in quick succession. This is just one more example.

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

How does that make her an "excellent" candidate for a lifetime SCOTUS appointment?


Strangely enough for someone as partisan as myself, I think I understand where Pachy2 is coming from. Oh, I know intellectually that Barrett must be a partisan hack, or else the Federalist Society would never have recommended her. But she's saying the right things at the hearings. She didn't say she'd let Trump not peacefully transfer power--just she'd have to hear the arguments in a case before her before rendering a verdict.

I guess what I'm saying is that I know it's bull semen, but it's great bull semen.

David Brin said...

Pachy2... how can we tell? She's only been ANY kind of judge for what? 3 years? Youth, health andcompliance were clearly as important as political fanaticism and (to Trump) physical appearance.

David Brin said...

Don't get too excited by the titles: "Room-temperature superconductivity in a carbonaceous sulfur hydride." Of course it's a version of the grail we've sought. But it only happens at incredible pressures.
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-2801-z

Acacia H. said...

Dr. Brin, how many years was Elena Kagan a judge?

There is a specific reason why I'm not using that argument. It is most likely the reason why the Democrats are not using that argument.

Acacia

Pachydermis2 said...

David

She's been a judge for far longer than Justice Kagan ( 0 days on the bench )! And one assumes Law Professors learn something along the way. Seems to me a recent President you rather approved of had that on his resume somewheres.....

Pachy2

Larry Hart said...

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2020/Pres/Maps/Oct14.html#item-2

She stepped in it a bit when she responded to a question about LGBTQ rights by referring to "sexual preference," a phrase that implies that being LGBTQ is a choice. Barrett apologized for that wording later in the day.


Is it something in the water, or how do I become the chivalrous defender of Amy Coney Barrett? And yet I think this particular sort of "criticism" does my side more harm than good. "You didn't use the correct PC phrase of the day" isn't going to win any support to the good team, and will more likely confirm the right's caricatures of us.

When I hear "sexual preference", it doesn't sound (to me) as if the person is choosing the condition of gayness or whatever. It means that he has a preference for sexual partners of a particular gender. It that incorrect, let alone offensive?

matthew said...

To respond about the Nature article on high temp superconductivity - Incredible pressures are something that can be engineered. Not impossible. This could have real-world engineering applications.

Also, what does this say about the electrical transmission deep in the heart of gas giants? I seem to remember that they are believed to have pressures on the order of magnitude of this effect. 3M barr is an estimate I've seen for interior pressures in Jupiter, which would be right in the range for this superconducting effect. Methane and H2S are possible in that environment as well. Hm, gas giants as giant computational machines...

matthew said...

Also, Pachy, it is important to remember that the Kavenaugh hearing was a total morass because of the past behavior of the nominee.

Don't like contentious hearings? Then don't nominate someone that has attempted rape and shows no remorse. Don't nominate someone who had millions of dollars of debt paid off by unknown parties. Don't nominate a drunken frat boy to SCOTUS.

Der Oger said...

Just a question:

Can the Republican Party as a whole be held responsible for the various actions committed by their members (like, fake ballot boxes etc.)? Can they be persecuted, like a criminal organization, if widespread misbehaviour can be proven?

Disclaimer: I am totally clear that any of the above-mentioned scenarios won't likely happen, or that they should happen. I am just wondering if it is legally/technically possible.

jim said...

Well it looks like things are shaping up for the Democrats this election.

It seems like old corporate Joe will win and have a democratic house and very slight majority in the senate (51 or so).

We will get to see if the Democratic party does anything worth supporting.

If a total crap sack like Trump could fight the oligarchs push for globalization maybe the democrats could inadvertently do something useful to deal with horrible predicament of ecological overshoot that we face. (not hopeful but stranger things have happened).

David Brin said...

Sory I've been not ansering much. So swamped. But I did chuckle in wry amusement at jim's hysterical (in both senses) iability to draw the obvious conclusion. That Trump did exactly what his masters want, top to bottom. So wrecking our alliances and the trade networks that lifted 2 billion kids out of poverty was an exception to that uniform campaign. Huh.

Larry Hart said...

Early voting---check. Even if I drop from COVID tomorrow, my vote is cast.

Meanwhile, to amplify what I was saying earlier, this is what life leading up to November 3 is feeling like. From the end of Book 2 and the beginning of Book 3, A Tale of Two Cities:


The unseen force was drawing him fast to itself, now, and all the tides and winds were setting straight and strong for it. He left his two letters with a trusty porter, to be delivered half an hour before midnight, and no sooner; took horse for Dover; and began his journey. "For the love of Heaven, of justice, of generosity, of the honour of your noble name!" was the poor petitioner's cry with which he strengthened his sinking heart, as he left all that was dear on earth behind him, and floated away for the Loadstone Rock."

...

A very few French leagues of his journey were accomplished, when Charles Darnay began to perceive that for him along these country roads there was no hope of return until he should have been declared a good citizen at Paris. Whatever might befal now, he must on to his journey's end. Not a mean village closed upon him, not a common barrier dropped upon a road behind him, but he knew it to be another iron door in the series that was barred between him and England. The universal watchfulness so encompassed him, that if he had been taken in a net, or were being forwarded to his destination in a cage, he could not have felt his freedom more completely gone.


Or maybe for this crowd, this line from Captain Picard is more to the point:

"We may yet prevail. That's a... a conceit. But... it's a healthy one. I wonder if the Emperor Honorius watching the Visigoths coming over the seventh hill truly realized that the Roman Empire was about to fall. This is just another page in history, isn't it? Will this be the end of *our* civilization? Turn the page."

David Brin said...

I am not sympathetic to woke-enforcers pouncing on "sexual preference." That is moving the goalposts of pulling a Lucy on Charlie Brown. It's like refusing to note that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was actually a major step forward and served its function as a transition that ended 90% of the worst persecutions.

Larry Hart said...

jim:

It seems like old corporate Joe will win and have a democratic house and very slight majority in the senate (51 or so).


You say that like it's a bad thing.


If a total crap sack like Trump could fight the oligarchs push for globalization ...


Careful. You know what happens the minute you love Big Brother.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

I am not sympathetic to woke-enforcers pouncing on "sexual preference." That is moving the goalposts of pulling a Lucy on Charlie Brown. I


It bothers me on mere syntactical grounds. They're trying to make it sound as if she implied that people make a conscious choice to be gay or straight or bi or whatever--that the preference is for the lifestyle. The preference in "sexual preference" is for which gender(s) one prefers sexual relationships with. To identify as a gay man, for example, is to admit a preference for male sexual partners. I fail to see what is either incorrect or offensive about saying that out loud.

Alfred Differ said...

Regarding SCOTUS nomination process, I'm not going to get emotional about this one. I'll just point out the political fix.

After the Dems win the Senate this time (likely now, but not by a lot)

1. Abolish the Filibuster. Hold a solemn funeral for it. Seriously. Arm bands and all that.
2. Immediately appoint two more SCOTUS nominees. (Do NOT nominate four judges.)
3. Follow a normal investigation process with committee hearings and all that.
4. Point at McConnell and say he politically stole two nominations. This is just political tit-for-tat. Reap What Ye Sow.
5. Point at McConnell and describe the other judicial appointment thefts down in lower courts. Promise that they are next. Reap What Ye Sow.
6. Follow through on lower courts, but RESPECT their ideological balance for their regions of coverage. For example, don't pack a southern district with California progressives.

Alfred Differ said...

Der Oger,

The CA GOP claimed ownership of at least some of the fake ballot boxes. I would be quite surprised if our AG wasn't looking into what charges can be filed against their leadership.

Proof will be the tricky part. Defendants can claim that the original claim was a political stunt and that they did not IN FACT place any of the fake ballot boxes out there. If the AG can't be fairly sure of a conviction, I doubt indictments will surface. Still, I expect a Grand Jury will be convened at some point.

These things take time. Usually way more than the public's attention span.

Meanwhile, they got noticed and reported.
That is something all of us in the US can do.
Take pictures and geotag them.
Then lookup the official list and see if your bird-watching discovers an intruder.

In a Transparent world, they won't get far.
We'd just keep cameras pointing at the suspected fakes and see who comes for them.

Pachydermis2 said...

Acacia

My apologies, in the delayed posting shuffle I did not see your post. It does have a worthwhile question in it.

The nomination and confirmation of Supreme Court nominees is an inherently political process. To pretend otherwise is silly.

Very indirectly, and imperfectly I guess, the process does reflect popular opinion. We elect a President who nominates. And Senators who confirm. Heck, even the House of Representatives could get in on the action as I suppose they have the responsibility to impeach.

A President you probably think better of than the current one famously said "Elections have Consequences". Indeed they do. I do not personally like Donald Trump. Or Joe Biden although that's beside the point. But Trump ran in 2016 saying "The Supreme Court is at issue here...and here's my list of people I will consider". This is a commendable level of transparency. Biden has been challenged to produce a similar list. He has refused to do so. His cowardice in this regard cedes considerable moral high ground.

As to Merrick Garland by what I've read he's a decent guy. It was appropriate to nominate him whether 3 years or 3 days before an election. With our electoral circus running constantly now, does it really matter? The Senate majority at that time opted not to proceed with the nomination. Direct your ire thence, it is a legitimate reason to vote D vs R in Senate races. My only minor quibble with his nomination is that we really should have diversity in the high court. Not everyone has to be Harvard/Yale. And a mother of a large batch of children, some with special needs....might be a worthwhile perspective?

Larry, Picard totally screwed up that message. Honorius would not have been looking over the seventh hill of Rome for several reasons.

1. He was hiding out in Ravenna behind effective fortifications.
2. One and a half of the seven hills were pretty well wiped out when the Domus Aurea was built by Nero as history's greatest Party House. Look it up, it's impressive. I've been inside.
3. Honorius was an idiot with little capacity for deep thought. Allegedly he spend much of his time raising pigeons. I think of him as being Bert from Sesame Street wearing a toga.

Pachydermis2

David Brin said...

One of the sickest/stupidest cult chants of the left is to howl that whatever gender choice you made was hard-wired. Sure that's an element. But it's source was convenience, telling parent: "it's not up for discussion." Yes, a large part appears to be inbuilt, I don't denay that! But future generations will surely deem that notion of genetic compulsion weirdly at-odds with notions of self-determination.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

The CA GOP claimed ownership of at least some of the fake ballot boxes


Will someone from California please explain what the GOP is accomplishing with fake ballot boxes? I mean, I could understand if the point was to trick likely-Democrats into putting their ballots in a fake box so those ballots would never see the light of day. But that's not what it sounds like. From all I've heard, they're placing fake boxes in places like churches or gun shops in order to collect their own voters' ballots.

So what's the end game? I'm not just pretending to misunderstand in order to make a larger point. I really don't understand what they're (allegedly) doing.

David Brin said...

The more innocent explanation for the fake boxes is that the churches hosting them want to make sure all their parishoners HAVE voted. It's still nasty.

Now...

onward

onward