Friday, November 13, 2020

Be Afraid Mitch. Be very afraid....

I'll conclude this posting with a reassurance about the U.S. Military (relax, will ya?) plus an attempt at humor -- what if a pathetic, shambling squatter refuses to leave the White House?  But first, far more important political matters about our current fix, starting with this interesting article


"Just two men will decide when the election challenge farce has gone on long enough. Rupert Murdoch and Sheldon Adelson, because are the only two Donald Trump needs to listen to. Sheldon’s campaign money and Fox’s stranglehold on Republican opinion are the mechanisms that made this entire experiment possible. They’re why sitting Republican politicians and the right’s politically ambitious stay in line."

True but incomplete! First, I have no proof that the Beijing politburo is the source of Adelson's many hundreds of millions donated to warping today's GOP into a tool for treason -- almost a billion dollars laundered through his preposterously profitable Macao casinos. But truly, is any other explanation remotely possible? Putin may own Trump's half a billion in older debt, coming due in 2021 and Trump's reason to scam working class donors a bit longer. But that Russian debt is another matter. The core point here is that anyone funded by Adelson is very likely a "Macao-ian Candidate."

Second: while this article sheds valuable insights, it misses the third leg on which foreign control of today's GOP rests. Blackmail. No amount of money can explain the perfect obedience of 75% of the top Republican political caste - the 3/4 who not only vote in disciplined lockstep with Moscow Mitch, or turn their states into cheatocracies, but slavishly toady to Trump to degrees that leave them without even a figleaf of dignity. Mere money and power are insufficient to explain that. Both are satiable - at least a bit. But blackmail is total. You are owned by the blackmail masters of the KGB.


Which leads again (and again!) to the one thing Joe Biden could do that'd make a transforming, seismic difference. The one and only thing. I've said it before and will repeat it till maybe someone passes the idea up the line, at least to Indianapolis's best son, Ron Klain. 



 == The deepest of McConnell's fears ==


Moscow Mitch has to hope that today's Union generals - leading Democrats - remain what they have always been... mere well-meaning betas, unable to see agile tactics. Because McConnell is so-toast if they wake up. For example, it's been suggested that Chuck Schumer approach half a dozen GOP senators - the non-blackmailed ones - with a deal: "We'll throw 49 Democratic votes behind a new Republican Majority Leader, so long as it's anyone but Moscow Mitch. Or Graham or Cruz or Rubio, since they are clearly blackmailed Russian stooges, too. But pick someone sapient and reasonable and we'll do this!"


Would it work? Maybe not. But Mitch fears it.


What he fears far more is about to happen... Their vaunted Senate and Court majorities will do nothing to prevent Joe's appointment of 10,000 skilled grownups to replace 10,000 corrupt lunatics and blackmailed Putin Shills — especially a sane and vigorous and honest Attorney General. 


Consider history. When GW Bush entered office in January 2001, he shifted many agents of the state to opening every Clinton Administration file in search of 'smoking guns' and indictable crimes. In fact, they found (effectively) nothing whatsoever to impugn what was (til Obama) the most honest administration in the history of the Republic. 


To the point: it can be agued that Bush's shift in agency emphasis away from terrorism to a wild goose chase, seeking Clinton dirt, contributed to our blindness before the 9/11 attacks... and hence was at minimum dereliction, or even treason.


In sharp contrast, what do you expect this time, even if Justice and other departments simply become "normal" again? Not even engaging in vendetta. (Though that's what Foxites will howl - and counter-memes must be ready!)


Simply by getting out of the way of stymied FBI, counter-intelligence, grand jury and state prosecutor investigations, such a new Justice Department will unleash a dike-breaking of massive proportions. Just the Deutsche Bank records alone will send scores to jail. 


== An even greater fear ==


Mitch has openly stated that he will never confirm any Biden judgeships or even (yes, he said it) cabinet posts! And yes, this is reason why anyone not helping Democrats take the two remaining Senate seats in Georgia, January 6, is in effect aiding and abetting treason.


Of course odds are Mitch will stay as majority leader of the most tightly disciplined political machine ever, in US history. He no doubt expects Biden to use the technique Trump used, to stymie and effectively kill Congressional Advice & Consent -- "acting" appointments... thus weakening another fundamental of US democracy. 

But there is a way around this, even if Moscow Mitch keeps his caucus blackmailed and terrified and in line.


Next time, as I begin my formal list of suggestions for the Biden transition and first 100 days, I'll go into more detail on what I think is a great idea by a blogger named "Daddy Batholemew." In brief: Biden should put forward two slates. First agency and department heads he wants to see confirmed - consisting of a broadly diverse array of highly competent, honest, decent (hence non-Trumpian) folks, including some best-elements from sane American conservatism (e.g. NASA Administrator Bridenstine). 

The second, separate slate would consist of acting officers, all of them similarly honest and competent… but chosen to be offensive to deep-red mania! 


For instance, I suspect Al Gore would be willing to be Acting Director of the EPA for awhile. I see Robert Mueller as Acting Attorney General? Might Hillary Clinton be Acting Secretary of State? Barrack Obama as Acting Director of National Intelligence? I kind of like Diane Ravitch as Acting Secretary of Education, Paul Krugman as Acting Secretary of Treasury, Anthony Fauci as Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services (although he is probably critically needed in the current Covid battles), Alexander Vindeman as Acting Secretary of Defense…”


Joe can make it explicit: 

"If you go back to traditional Advice & Consent, including judgeships, you can replace these acting heads. I don't want to use the Trump method, nor do any sane Americans. But if you force me to... then take this fait accompli."


== And greater fear, striking past Mitch at Rupert... ==


It is suggested that Biden might restore the old Fairness Doctrine - requiring widely-viewed channels to offer dissenting opinions - and he might do it without legislation, by reversing an executive order issued by Ronald Reagan! Expect the Foxites to howl! But it can be done right. Visibly win-win.


 Now consider if a new president actually created an empowered, Truth and Reconciliation Commission that included all sane interests, with some powers of clemency for testimony, backed by whistle blower rewards offered officially... or by some friendly billionaire… as I suggested in Polemical Judo? Giving the blackmailed a way to retire without jail, if they fess-up? Giving *henchmen* a chance to tattle profitably against some of the electoral cheats we've long (and recently) seen?


Are there Democrats who would have reason to fear light, as well? Sure. And giving such folks a gentle path out of DC would also seem a good idea, though in ways that were proportional and reciprocally fair, not the self-inflicted suicides we saw with Al Franken etc.


Above all, one and only one thing will make the greatest difference. Restoration of belief in the existence and utility of facts. 


Yes that takes priority! Because every other wanted reform - like eliminating racism and fixing wealth disparities and ending treason will all proceed faster after that. Because facts have a liberal bias. See: The Fact Act.


And yes, soon we'll talk about the panicky flight to "Parler."

== Are you worried about a coup? ==

Calm down about the 'coup' thing, already! The US senior military officer corps is the 3rd most educated clade in American life, after University professors and medical doctors. To become a general or admiral you must have at least a PhD or three masters degrees. They are fact oriented and deeply upset over the strategic threat of climate change. There are a few crazy, Dr. Strangelove types, but most are desperately eager to return to respect-worthy civilian rule - it is a religion to them. They dread ever having to engage in politics... until they retire, and even then it is uncomfortable. 

As for the pathetic Trumpian effort to stuff the DoD with shills and traitors? Well, the Officer Corps would not raise arms against legal authority. But they will "work to rule," following procedures with such meticulous slowness that it will drive Trump insane. (They have been doing this vs. his worst orders for 4 years.)

Suppose the mad right summons 'militias' to Washington? Bah. The police will be adequate to deal with those. If necessary, Maryland and Virginia will call up National Guard and we must hope the governors of those states have appointed good commanders. If so, that should be plenty.


Oh, I'm no polyanna, shrugging off all danger! Especially I do not preclude McVeigh type bombings and such. Against those we have to hope the FBI has deep undercover guys and that will at-best be hit or miss! We're still in 2020.

== Finally -- what about a Trump 'squatter'? ==

Okay, now for that "humor" about something pathetic, that I promised you. One unlikely but bathos-plausible path this might all take is not to a coup but to satire, with Trump refusing to go. 


If so, he can't leave the White House to attend the Inaugural, because they'll just lock him out. So... supposing he tries to squat inside... want a fun scenario? Dig it. The Secret Service and White House Police have as TOP priority the sitting President; ex-presidents are secondary. On January 20 at 12:01pm, Biden gets the most and the top agents, while Trump gets a few of those on punishment detail. 


So if Trump tries to squat, Biden marches in and personally frog-marches Trump out! If he does it right - grabbing the back of the collar and belt, then it's a matter of strength and skill, with the USSS guys peering like wrestling umpires to see to it no one is physically injured. And if Trump tries to wail on Joe - even a pathetic attempted punch - then priority sets in. Suddenly, he's a physical threat to the President and must be taken down and sat on, then hauled away. Oh, for that footage!

Of course Joe won't do that! No, instead he and Jill would go bunk with Kamala and Doug at the Naval Observatory while movers and FBI guys sift and then haul away anything Trump, including beds and the horrible curtains, from any room Trump happens not to be in at the moment. While he shambles about screaming, the new staff assembles to get to work in the Eisenhower Building, just fifty feet from the West Wing ... the fumigators move in! Then, one minute before the flea bombs are set off, Trump's USSS detail steps in to protect his life by hauling him away... their job. 

Is that it? Well, no. Strictly speaking, they have to let him go in the driveway, where the fumigation gases don't threaten him with harm. But at that point the Marine guards don't let him back in... so he wanders about outside, screaming. Ivanka and Jared can't drag him away because their fingernails might harm an ex-president, so there he stays, fed and given blankets...

...til Biden has the extra fences taken down from around the People' House and tours resume, with a new feature, the shabby, homeless, wandering ghost. Till he is hemmed in by fenced areas of lawn being fertilized by fresh manure in stages that drive him ever closer to the exit.... which point he is promised a nice airplane ride. And Wendys.


David Brin said...

Larryhart do research and summarize this with links? "Republicans on Diebold machines: "No paper trail, and the software is proprietary, so what are you gonna do? Trust the count." Republicans on Dominion machines: "We need to open up the software and make sure it's working correctly."

I was going to comment on how touch screen cheats had declined with the return of paper ballots. But if there were many Diebolds in Texas, Ohio and Florida, then maybe pollsters weren't far off!

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

I'll see what I can find, but really it was in the 2004 election and maybe 2008 when Diebold machines without paper trails--where "recounts" just meant press the button and get the seme result back again--were a big deal. I was comparing comments they made when Democrats complained about Diebold machines back then to what they're saying about Dominion machines now.

Larry Hart said...

Is this what the link to the "interesting article" is supposed to be?

Larry Hart said...

@Dr Brin,

Looks like you posted a link to this post on Stonekettle's Twitter? In any case, it got at least one positive response:

I don't know where @Stonekettle has been hiding @DavidBrin , but this is damned brilliant.
Excuse me while I go click in-blog links to read some more.

David Brin said...

Thksfor correction LH. I often link to Stonekettle but he seldom reciprocates, alas. Did he do so thins time?

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Thksfor correction LH.

I don't know if it's you or me, but none of the links in this main post take me where they're supposed to. They take me to a blogger/google login screen.

I often link to Stonekettle but he seldom reciprocates, alas. Did he do so thins time?

I have to explain that I'm not on Twitter (or Facebook). I've found that I can see the feed of someone whose handle I'm aware of, but they don't show up in order, so it's hard to follow conversations.

All I saw was someone--not Stonekettle himself--who responded very favorably to your message which linked to this blog post. Any publicity is good.

David Brin said...

Stupid blogger messed up nearly all links. Awful system.

Jon S. said...

Stupid blogger messed up nearly all links. Awful system.

It's a free site. And frequently, worth every penny.

gerold said...

I think it's likely we get those Georgia Senate seats. Ossoff lost to Perdue by 2%. This time Perdue won't have Trump at the top of the ticket though. Trump-luvin' Repubs won't see his name. They won't have that trumpy pheromone pulling them in.

Turnout is always lower in a special election, but I think Repub turnout will drop more than usual this time. Not only because the Golden Goose is suddenly a Loser, but this whole act with the sulking, pouting and whining is a turn-off. the Cult was promised some election fraud. It's like holding out a lollipop to a baby and snatching it away when they reach for it. Gets on your last nerve.

Dems have to maintain the Georgia coalition of black voters, young people and progressive whites, and the combination of Warnock and Ossoff checks all the boxes. Every Dem is going to vote for both. Meanwhile Perdue and Loeffler have only whiteness going for them. During the primary Loeffler and Collins fought to show who was the trumpiest. Seemed like a winner for the primary, but now it's going to be an albatross.

I'm not saying Repubs can't win those seats, but looks like they've got a mountain to climb.

gerold said...

john fremont: thanks for the link to the 95 Bob Black Ghost Dance article. He was ahead of his time. %^)

The Constitutionalist fetish so exciting to conservatives is pretty weak sauce as ghost dances go. They're usually more suicidal.

During the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists were told European bullets would turn to water when they encountered the chi of the Boxers. It almost worked too. Wave attacks could overwhelm Western forces if everything went just right. It was suicidal for the individuals who threw themselves into battle, but nearly succeeded in slaughtering the foreigners.

In the more familiar cases of the Xhosa and Native Americans they didn't have the numerical advantages of the Boxers so it was a one-way Banzai to oblivion.

TCB said...

Youtube video: Why the military wouldn't help Trump seize power and why it would fail if they tried.

Larry Hart said...


During the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, the Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists were told European bullets would turn to water when they encountered the chi of the Boxers. It almost worked too. Wave attacks could overwhelm Western forces if everything went just right. It was suicidal for the individuals who threw themselves into battle, but nearly succeeded in slaughtering the foreigners.

During the end of the cold war, when Russia and China seemed more like mutual enemies than friends, I used to wonder if a successful Chinese strategy might be, "Everyone walk toward Moscow and kill whoever is shooting at you." My reasoning, very primitively formed, was along the lines of, "Maybe the first 100,000,000 or so would be killed, but the other billion would probably make it intact."

Tacitus said...

OK, time for a reality check folks.

I think it's fair to say that most conservatives are to a greater degree at peace than most progressives these days. Odd....I thought you guys "won". But here's a conservative take on the situation*.

The polls were right....and wrong. If you look at the popular vote and compare it to Trump's approval ratings they mirror quite well. This does not factor in the people who did not, even under the most immense pressure in their life time, get out and vote. But hey, biggest turnout since 1900 we have to all feel good about that. Swing state polling was cooked about 3% to favor the D side. Intentional? Incompetent? Weird mail in covid election? Some combination.

A rejection of Trump is not a rejection of conservative values. The most sensitive barometer of electoral mood is the House, where Republicans unexpectedly picked up a significant number of seats. And became more diverse. There is considerable upside for the 2022 mid terms too. A shift of seats away from NY and CA towards sunbelt states. A much improved percentage of the Hispanic vote going R. And of course the tendency of Administrations that over reach to get spanked at the mid terms.

So overall - and again this is my perspective - America opted for divided government. And I'm OK with it. Joe Manchin saying he won't support expanded SC and more states by itself puts paid to fears of a radical remake of America. And it seems unlikely to me that the Dems with run the board in Georgia. More on that as the situation no doubt gets more intense.

Biden (I never call my employees by first names) can do some things by Executive Orders...that's been too easy a route for several admins. But he has encouragingly named a Chief of staff that is well respected across the aisle and I'm guessing the House leadership had a serious come to (Jesus/Allah/Gaia) moment and are telling the Exec branch to cool their jets. Just as the R establishment fairly openly disdained Trump so I suspect the D establishment quietly holds the far left of their party in a sort of horrified contempt.

Will Trump lose his various legal challenges? Yes. There are not enough close EVs to sway. Should he complain? About WI, Is there a chronic rot in the PA election system? Yes. A harsh look at it might have the same beneficial effects that the aftermath of Bush/Gore seem to have had in Florida.

Trump should wrap up his objections by the same date that Gore folded the tent. I think that was December 13. Let's face it, this was a messy election with the increased mail in vote and the disruption of a pandemic. Be patient, the third consecutive Unlikely President will take office on schedule.

Final predictions. There will be no Truth and Reconciliation Committee. Various private retributions inside the Beltway will go on as usual. There will also be few if any convictions for political violence during the campaign. The Michigan plotters will turn out to be Huttaree redux, dimwits egged on by FBI informants who probably outnumber them. The many cases of Black Bloc types who traveled from state to state with unclear funding and bail out systems will be, have been in fact, forgotten. The Boogaloos were always mostly Bug Bears.

And so it goes. There's no Mandate. You can look at EVs and popular vote and correctly conclude that a smallish majority made their wishes for a change known. You can also look at the map of House results and notice that you'd have to drive for days to get out of Red America...minus of course a pit stop in Larry's part of the world.

Our system works. We are charged with making it work better and should do so. But there will be no Year Zero event.

Vituperate as you wish, you are entitled to your own opinions even if they are outside of the mainstream.


* Conservative of course does not equal Trumpista or Republican.

Ahcuah said...

Regarding replacing Mitch McConnell with Republican help:

Mitch --> Mitt?

Dems wouldn't even need to approach half a dozen GOP Senators (as long as they have 49). Just talk to Mitt Romney. He's the only one left that's shown an ounce of integrity. He could make the deal on his own and vote with the 49 (and add Kamala) and become the Senate Majority Leader. And then enforce bipartisanship by threatening to pull in the 49 as needed.


Regarding "Acting" officers, the Vacancies Act does put restrictions on who can be an acting officer. But here's a way I've seen to do it: Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution. When the House and Senate disagree on when to adjourn, the President can tell them when to adjourn, and when to come back: "in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper." And then he can use the Recess Appointments clause to make temporary appointments. Of course, with Pelosi's help, the House and Senate could disagree about when to adjourn. See How Biden Can Staff the Executive Branch in the Face of Republican Obstruction.

Note that I'm not sure what the difference is between a "recess" and an "adjournment" and whether that might affect this idea.


Finally, quoting myself from an October 17 comment: "I am concerned about the Democrats winning the Senate. Oh, yes, it is desirable and necessary. However, given Diane Feinstein's hug of Lindsay Graham for such a nice hearing, and folks like Joe Manchin, what I fear is that just enough Democratic Senators will go soft when the Supreme Court dismantles any progressivism and environmentalism, and they will refuse to push back with what is necessary. The only thing worse than not taking over the Senate would be to do so and still let 'decorum' prevent them from doing what is necessary to seize back the government from the current corruption."

It looks like Joe Manchin (D - W.V.) is already saying how he will screw things up, even if the Dems do manage to control the Senate. He'll refuse to provide the vote to kill the filibuster (or to increase the size of the Supreme Court).
See Joe Manchin kills dreams of expanding Supreme Court, eliminating the filibuster. So expect to see Biden hobbled much the way Obama was.

Bob Neinast

DP said...

Excellent insight from author Max Brooks on how to defeat the Trump insurgency.

Die hard Nazis, called Werewolves, fled to the hills after the Reich fell. How did we defeat them? We rebuilt Germany. After a while these isolated fanatics were brought back into the fold with the promise of good paying jobs.

If you read the US Army's anti-insurgency manual and strip out its purely tactical elements, it's basically a handbook for good governance and material prosperity.

So its obvious that we need a Marshall Plan for Red State America.

Brooks also makes the point that globalization ripped out half the heart of this country and automation is now ripping out the other half.

Simply pit, if your job is threatened by robots you voted for Trump.

Andrew Yang is the only politician of either party who is seriously examining the effects of automation on jobs and living standards.

Yang 2024!

DP said...

Gerold - you are right. Without Trump at the top of the ticket how many republicans will turn out to vote.

And in special run-off elections, turn-out is everything.

Larry Hart said...


* Conservative of course does not equal Trumpista or Republican.

But in practice, conservatives have been enabling Trumpistas, apparently because they are so reliant on the deplorable vote. Much has been made of how Trump actually increased his margin with blacks, Latinos, and women. Does that mean that Republicans no longer need to court the Nazi vote (which would be a good thing)? Or that more blacks, Latinos, and women now prefer a Nazi to a Democrat (which would be a very bad thing)?

Here, Bill Maher explains (very well, I think) why Democrats are so anathema to much of the voting public that they'd prefer Trump as a bulwark against Democrats rather than the other way around.

* * *


Note that I'm not sure what the difference is between a "recess" and an "adjournment" and whether that might affect this idea.

Unfortunately, I believe an adjournment just means they're done for the day, but they're still in session. And McConnell has successfully used the fact that the Senate never goes into recess to thwart recess appointments since the Obama years. I don't see how that would change now.

David Brin said...

Pachydermis, nice railing against vituperation, but your premise is flawed. You seem to be under the impression that politics exists in the USA. Except for local and state matters and this one stab at a national election, it is dead. As a process for negotiated solutions worked out among stake-holding groups, the Republican Party has killed it, dead. Over time, even if Biden can administer well, that is a death sentence.

I hope you are right about the Boogaloo types being outnumbered by their FBI infiltrators and by all-talk blowhards. Alas, no way you are right… but I hope you are.

BTW if you look at where polls were defied most… FLA, TX, OH etc… THAT is where I predicted there’d be electoral cheating and it sure seems like that’s exactly what happened, preserving GOP grip on power in those swing states.

OTOH, I don’t think they’ll need to cheat, in order to retain those Senate seats. Adelson & Fox will do everything possible and spend whatever it takes to get out the MAGAs in Georgia.

BTW at this moment the use-map on this blog shows a majority of viewers in the region of Moscow.

David Brin said...

People look at Manchin all wrong. Wait. The DEMOCRATS have a Senator from West Virginia? That's pure profit, babe. The majority of times he votes WITH us are the significance, not the times when he preens his "independecne" to the folks back home.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

The DEMOCRATS have a Senator from West Virginia?

You'd think that a state which actually seceded from the Confederacy would be the last place to be a Confederate stronghold. Then again, it does make sense that they'd disdain the Democratic Party--if they haven't been paying attention since the late 1960s.

Smurphs said...

Pachydermis, I am not going to be vituperative, you make several good points. But I do question a couple of things:

"Is there a chronic rot in the PA election system? Yes"
As a native citizen and election worker, I can tell you, there is no rot. The delays, and irregularities, and questionable ballots were DELIBERATELY built into the system by the GOP State Senate and local County officials. They had an OPENLY STATED aim to muck-up the election and hope it would be called early for Trump. The fact it did not work is not evidence of "rot". Quite the opposite.

" Just as the R establishment fairly openly disdained Trump"
Establishment? Who exactly? A few high profile Republicans said they weren't voting for Trump. The rest (90%-95%?) are still calling the election rigged, or full of questionable conclusions, all while the cases are being tossed out of court left and right. I will agree that many GOP senators and Congressmen seem to have been keeping a lower profile as the results became fully undeniable, but that is hardly "openly disdained".

And, not at you, but at the world in general, I find all the calls for Biden to reach across the aisle sadly humorous. How many times do the Democrats need to have their hands chopped off before they stop trying?

Finally, in an effort to keep this to one post...
I've been checking the news on today's MAGA march in Washington. Liberal media is calling the crowd at "a few thousand", Fox is calling it "tens of thousands".

Regardless, how long before Trump (who went golfing) calls it the "biggest crowd ever!!!"

Oops, sorry, "BIGGEST CROWD EVER!!!"

duncan cairncross said...

Daniel Duffy said
"Brooks also makes the point that globalization ripped out half the heart of this country and automation is now ripping out the other half."

It was not "globalization" or "Automation" that ripped out "half the heart of this country"

It was the 0.01% the 5000 CEO's who were simply trying to destroy the power of organized labour in order to steal all of the benefits from our hard work

Robert said...

During the end of the cold war, when Russia and China seemed more like mutual enemies than friends

That animosity stretches back further than the end of the Cold War. After the Korean War Mao realized that China needed to be able to stand up to the USSR or it would be just another satellite. China's nuclear arsenal was a deterrent against the USSR as well as the USA.

If you look at the location of PLAAF air defence bases, they are protecting against attack from the USSR as well as from the USA. (Or were, back when a Soviet invasion looked possible.)

TCB said...

@ Pachydermis and anybody else, much of what the "far left" radical Bernie, AOC, and Squad types want to do is GASP pretty much what Franklin Delano Roosevelt was planning to do after the war, had he lived a couple more years. His Second Bill of Rights speech of 1944 lays it out. Many countries got universal heath care soon after the war, and it is probably only Roosevelt's death that prevented it here.

So what we hear is the "conservative American mainstream" view on a lot of subjects is really "the corporate-owned American media mainstream" view, most Americans knowing little or nothing of what their ancestors may have considered mainstream.


It occurred to me today that Dr. Brin probably made a mistake calling his book Polemical Judo. Why? Because: If I say Political Judo to 100 random Americans, none of them are likely to need me to tell them what Political means. If I say Polemical to the same 100 random Americans, I suspect at least 30 or 40 will either ask what that word means, or simply not ask and not bother to find out... it's a little too much of a ten dollar word for the hoi polloi (a twenty dollar phrase, that!)


I have a LOT of opinions about GOP election fraud. The GOP has enjoyed far too many "wild" "unexpected" victories over the last couple of decades. If I had that much CrAzY LUcK at a Las Vegas casino, every camera would be pointed at me. is a largely defunct but once-valuable website covering the topic of untrustworthy voting machines and tabulators. "Black box" implies that you can't see what's happening inside it; so why should you trust the people telling you it is accurate? Especially when they have money and power riding on the result, as Brian Kemp did in 2018 when he was the Republican secretary of state running the Georgia governor's election in which he was a candidate!

Even if the voting machine is counting paper ballots, the result will then be tabulated on another machine, itself a black box. Just what WAS on those servers Kemp erased right after he "won" the 2018 governor's race?

Most of these known vulnerabilities are still there: hackable machines made by GOP friendly corporations, unsupervised partisan election officers, opaque tabulation systems, and more. (What good is it having paper ballots, but the tabulator which aggregates all the state's scanning machines is a black box, and the paper ballots themselves don't actually get audited?)


I've used this analogy before: the GOP doesn't steal whole loaves of bread, instead it uses multiple methods to steal a slice out of many loaves, just enough to (usually) create the result they need without it being (totally) blatant. Then they use their friendly media to make anyone who gets suspicious to seem like a crank.

A 2018 Scientific American article on hackable voting machines examines just one dimension of the problem.

Georgia, for example, is entirely paperless. And they are also using voting machines with software that hasn’t [had a security patch] since 2005.

Yep, that's the system Kemp elected himself with.

Acacia H. said...

Pachydermis - The problem with your views is that it discounts the impact of Gerrymandering. It is a known fact that more people vote Democrat than Republican in North Carolina... but that Republicans win the majority of House seats. This is also true for Pennsylvania. And it doesn't matter if you have a million more votes for the Democrats than Republicans if all the Democratic votes are located in cities that are gerrymandered to stick all Democrats together while Republicans cherry-pick locations.

Let's say we altered the system. Rather than voting for a specific candidate, the State as a whole votes for a party. Then the percentage of people elected show the percentage of that party's people get into office. In that case, you would see a majority of Democrats in the House.

Let's change things then. Let's say for the Primary, you vote for which party you want to get into office. Then let's say you have 5% Libertarian, 5% Green, 5% Socialist, 40% Republican, and 45% Democrat. The General Election will then have 100 people running for those positions. 5 elected would be Libertarian, and they compete against other Libertarians. 40 would be Republican and they compete against other Republicans. And on down the line. This would ensure proper representation in government and allow for minority parties to have actual representation. More, you would have people voting to have the best Republicans in office, and the best Democrats, and on down the line.

You're no longer voting for your local face. You're voting for representation in government and because you can have Libertarian politicians winning or Socialist politicians winning you would end up with diversity in government.


David Brin said...

I see pictures of Georgia vote counters going through paper ballots. How do you do a 5 million voter hand count without them?

scidata said...

Re: West Virginia
Sat thru a webinar talk from the Astronomy editor of Nature last night. His disparagement of Green Bank's radio telescope software was one of many funny parts. The locals asked one of the top scientists there "Where's your man?" Life is old there, older than the trees.

TCB said...

Yep, Georgia is obviously not using the same untrustworthy touch screen system they had two years ago, as Dr. Brin has noted these are being phased out in many places, thank all the gods. I do not know whether the tabulators the used are the same or not. Here's a 2004 report on the Diebold GEMS tabulator, it was a real mess back then, and I'd want plenty of proof to trust newer ones.

The deadline is short on the Georgia hand recount and I'll be watching to see if they can actually finish them all. For a minute there, I wondered if Kemp's plan was to half-ass the hand recount, save Atlanta for last, stop while Trump was ahead, and then call that the 'real' result...

Actually, I won't be sure that isn't the plan that until after.

Alfred Differ said...


"Maybe the first 100,000,000 or so would be killed, but the other billion would probably make it intact."

Not unreasonable. That's essentially what they did to us in Korea.

Storming attacks are an old technique that caused advancements in fortifications. Machine guns in defensible positions made such attacks incredibly expensive in WWI, but we didn't have defensive positions as our forces approached the Chinese border.

They even gave us fair warning that they'd do it.

Nowadays, with even more advanced weaponry and automation, such an approach can be made vastly more lethal and the fortification is usually part of the weapon system.

gerold said...

pachydermis hopes there will be no prosecutions for the Crime Administration, but I'm afraid his hopes will be dashed. Traditionally we've issued a Stay-out-of-jail-free card to former presidents, but we've never had an out-and-out conman criminal in the office before. This dog will get his days in court. Rule of law is more important than the niceties.

Trump and Jared are both looking at serious charges. Jared might be covered by a presidential pardon for his use of government powers to get a bailout for 666 5th Avenue, but the Con is facing so many charges in state and civil court that pardons won't cover it. The Con will pay.

Fear of prosecution is one of the reasons African dictators like to die in office. It's the only way to protect what you've stolen. And a custom of political retribution for ex-presidents is a terrible custom. There are good reasons for avoiding it. But this criminal is too big not to prosecute.

gerold said...

Wave attacks in Korea cost the Chinese something like 800,000 casualties.

Compare to 34,000 US deaths. Human wave is a bad idea.

Alfred Differ said...

Sen Manchin may have made it possible for Democrats to win a GA Senate seat. Taking court packing off the table will disappoint many Democrats but will remove some of the fear GOP voters have too.

I doubt Democrats will win either seat, but we shall see. Abrams is amazing.

Sojka's Call said...

I am concerned that Trump could get enough Pub controlled states to refuse to certify their elections even though they do not have just cause. And, then the election gets thrown to the House where under the 12th amendment each state gets one vote for President. And, since 37 states are Pub controlled he could legally steal the election that way. The idea is being floated around right-wing blogs as the end-game for Trump and other Pubs like Mitch, Graham, Cruz, etc continuing to promote the election fraud theory so they can use mere rhetoric to discount the results in enough states to prevent Biden the 270 electoral votes.

Makes me feel sick they will stoop to any level.

Alfred Differ said...

Took the family out on an adventure yesterday. Our county folks asked (nicely) for more people to get tested for Covid-19, so we did. Lot's of people did... and of course no bathroom options while waiting in our cars in line.

My nose still itches. 8)

Nah. I have no reason to believe my family has it. Our county folks want to make the argument that the uptick seen in local tests isn't as bad as it sounds. They want to demonstrate that most of us are behaving reasonably well and that requires statistics. They also want to point out that the businesses aren't where we are catching it and that requires tracking/tracing. So... they DID ask nicely. 8)

Der Oger said...

Just a question:
If these allegations of cheating turn up again and again, just why the Democrats don't capitalize on it? Why do they leave it to the Republicans?

Der Oger said...

Just watched this one on YouTube:

What if ... an AI took over the voting machines and installed itself as the next Pres of the US? Makes up for an interesting SciFi story.

Larry Hart said...


For a minute there, I wondered if Kemp's plan was to half-ass the hand recount, save Atlanta for last, stop while Trump was ahead, and then call that the 'real' result...

When the 2000 Florida recount was cut short, allowing the earlier result to stand, it was bad enough (Dayenu!). If the 2020 counting had been halted as Brett Kavanaugh suggested, treating partial results in Pennsylvania and Michigan to be official, it would have been bad enough (Dayenu!).

But it would take real balls to assert that an incomplete recount supersedes and therefore reverses the initial count of all the ballots.

That doesn't mean he won't do it, but then again, we're not dependent on Georgia right now anyway.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Machine guns in defensible positions made such attacks incredibly expensive in WWI,...
Nowadays, with even more advanced weaponry and automation, ...

My musings were very specific to China, and to China as I was aware of it in the late 70s. It occurred to me that the combination of a population of 1.2 billion or so and the fact that the leadership probably considered most of that population expendable might have made the expense worthwhile. Would machine guns even have enough ammo available to stop such a horde if it had kept advancing over the bodies of the dead?

TCB said...

Huffpost article: Public Pressure And Lawsuits Kept USPS From Handing Trump The Election. Here’s How.

“I think, in the end, the post office did a good job,” said Allison Zieve, the director of litigation for Public Citizen, one of several watchdog groups suing the post office to make sure every ballot is delivered.

What made the difference, experts say, was enormous public pressure, multiple lawsuits, scrutiny from the courts, urgent efforts to urge voters to mail their ballots as early as possible, and extraordinary measures taken by the agency itself and its legions of dedicated postal workers.

Nice. But we can't sleep on this and somehow DeJoy has got to go.

David Brin said...

DeJoy has to be prosecuted. He is a very easy target and would make a great example without triggering death cult hysteria by top republicans.

der oger... Kamala should demand hand recounts in Texas, Florida and Ohio.

Larry Hart said...

Der Oger:

If these allegations of cheating turn up again and again, just why the Democrats don't capitalize on it? Why do they leave it to the Republicans?

Maybe a language barrier problem, but I'm not sure exactly what you're asking.

If you meant "Why don't the Democrats cheat too?", they used to. 50 or so years ago, my city of Chicago was known for the snide slogan, "Vote early and often". Now, I'd say that in most locations, they don't hold the levers of power to do so, and where they do hold those levers, they don't need to cheat. I'd also say, quoting the 1960s Adam West Batman, "I'd prefer to believe it's because...our hearts are pure." But that's just me. :)

If you meant "Why don't the Democrats make more of a public outcry over Republican cheating?", well, they do, but again, most geographical areas of the country are dominated by Republicans, and it doesn't bother them if their side cheats as long as the cheating works. There seems to be an unspoken but largely accepted mindset in this country that Republicans are the rightful rulers, and that democracy exists to validate that rightful rule. So if Democrats win, they've transgressed by definition, and the situation must be rectified. Thus the claim that the election is rigged if they lose doesn't sound to them like sore losing. They truly believe it.

Robert said...

Would machine guns even have enough ammo available to stop such a horde if it had kept advancing over the bodies of the dead?

They'd have starved on the steppes trying to march on Moscow. Or died of thirst and exposure.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Interrupting the flow of politics, on the bright side, SpaceX just had a successful manned launch to the Space Station. Aside from having to bump from Saturday because weather delayed the barge, the rescheduled launch went buttery smooth.

Larry Hart said...


Huffpost article: Public Pressure And Lawsuits Kept USPS From Handing Trump The Election. Here’s How.

As with Dr Brin's post, your link is taking me back to this blogger comment page, not to the article.

I think this is the one you meant:

scidata said...

Those who can, do.
Those who can't, criticize.
- mangled GB Shaw

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare.
It is because we do not dare that things are difficult.
- Seneca

It's easier to try than to prove it can't be done.
- Moody Blues

Hold my beer...
- Elon Musk

Alfred Differ said...

Hold my beer...

Yah. There are a lot of unknown names both within his company and outside who trail-blazed. We may not know them all, but they know themselves.

They can all say "Hold my beer".

Alfred Differ said...

Larry & Der Oger,

they used to

They still do, but are in a different class. They aren't so inclined to piss on you and claim it is raining.

Why do they leave it to the Republicans?

They don't, but many of them recognize (correctly) the toxicity of the substance. Careful handling is required among those who intend to survive touching any of it, but isn't necessary among those who intend to bring you down with them.

Alfred Differ said...

They'd have starved on the steppes trying to march on Moscow. Or died of thirst and exposure.

Probably. They were doing that well enough at home a little earlier. No travel needed.

The advantage they had in Korea was the much shorter walk.

Would machine guns even have enough ammo...

Yes. A lot depends on the material used for the bullets. 50 cal guns on WWII fighter planes were meant to cut open airplanes and penetrate engine blocks. They were overkill for dealing with the crew.

You can still find some of the bullets on the dry lake beds of NV where new WWII crews practiced. Steel missiles untarnished by the years. They'd kill several people each in a storm attack.

But it is really logistics that wins modern wars. People have to be ABLE to fight.

A.F. Rey said...

My fantasy is that, at 12 noon on January 20, a secret service agent comes up to Donald.

"Hello, sir. I'm one of your secret service agents. I'm sure you don't remember my name, but I swore to protect you, as President, with my life. I'm also one of those who accompanied you on your limo trip from Walter Reed hospital to wave to your supporters, while coughing Covid germs on me.
"Well, sir, you are no longer President and I no longer have any obligation to protect your person. So I'm here to escort you out of the White House for trespassing. And not to the limo waiting to whisk you away, but to the front gate, where a large group of Americans are waiting for you.
"I just wanted, one last time, to show you the same respect for your health that you showed for mine."

Ah, sweet justice. :)

TCB said...

@ Larry Hart, I do not know how that link confusion happened. I must have copypasted the wrong tab...

Dennis M Davidson said...


Chronic rot in our election systems.

For this issue, for New York City, a Democratic party stronghold, you are correct. As a former NYC resident, I can attest that NYC’s elections are a bumbling bureaucratic mess. It’s a relic from an era when most any city service in Gotham was corrupted.

Are NYC elections thrown or votes changed? Most likely not. Are all votes counted—correctly and on-time? Hard to tell. Do the ‘liberal’ citizens of NYC care about this? Of course they do! Do our politicians care about this? Some do. Just two weeks ago Congresswoman AOC held a press conference to highlight the chronic incompetency in NYC’s elections. She didn’t brag about a ‘big, beautiful, perfect’ election that defeated Donald Trump. No. She called it as it is—a national scandal and called for work to be done to fix the problems.

And that’s the difference between Democrats and the Trump Republicans. We don’t lie about reality. We don’t say everything is going to be okay when our democracy is being undermined by our sitting president, GOP senators and millions of our fellow citizens. We are not perfect and most certainly we don’t have all the answers. But we recognize the truth of the crisis we face.

Der Oger said...

@Larry Hart: "If you meant "Why don't the Democrats make more of a public outcry over Republican cheating?", well, they do, but again, most geographical areas of the country are dominated by Republicans, and it doesn't bother them if their side cheats as long as the cheating works."

For clarification, I meant this one.

Der Oger said...

RE: 9/11 and contributing factors: I also remember the John P. O'Neill story. Not Al Quaida defeated the American security agencies ... they defeated themselves. (We had a similar failure with the 2016 Berlin Truck attack.)

scidata said...

Re: Elon Musk

I'm not a Musk (or anyone else) sycophant. Having toiled way in the background on a few major projects, I am well-aware of the vast array of talent, mostly unknown, it takes to make them work. However, being able to inspire others both to join the project and then to give it their all is not a common skill. That is what I admire him for. Musk did his first two college years at Queen's University here in Ontario. Not my alma mater, but a place I have some experience with. There's something in the water there. They 'dare' everyday, especially the physics types.

Jon S. said...

What if ... an AI took over the voting machines and installed itself as the next Pres of the US? Makes up for an interesting SciFi story.

You mean like John Henry Eden, President of the United States in Fallout 3?

(Warning: spoilers for a twelve-year-old game)

Zepp Jamieson said...

scidata: Musk is very much a mixed bag of genius and idiocy. He made Tesla and SpaceX possible, major important technological advances. His hyperloop project may or may not pan out, I suspect that combined with maglev technology, it may revolutionise society. OTOH, there's his Boring project, which can drill a tunnel eight times as fast because it's eight times smaller. There was his run-in on the cave kids in Thailand. And the flame-throwers...
Queens on its worst day is better than Carleton university.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Doctor, did you hear about Lindsey Graham approaching his state Secretary of State and asking him to find a rationale for tossing tens of thousands of legally-cast ballots?

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Zepp

The boring company believes it is eight times cheaper for the same size tunnel!!

The run in with the cave kids
The problem was the cave was flooded - and the water was too cold for the kids to survive the rescue - the old cube square problem
Musk's merry men developed a small pod to take the kids out without freezing them
Luckily the weather gods changed their minds and they were able to get the kids out in the dry without the pod
So far so good - and that pod could come in handy in the future

Then some arsehole (who had been helping) proceeded to insult and swear at Musk - who reciprocated
IMHO that was just normal discussions at that level

Then the arsehole took Musk to court - which is where it became stupid

The final judgement from the court was that they were both arseholes and should not bother the court with their swearing at each other

The Flame throwers and the Tequila are simple marketing - he got millions of dollars worth of free advertising with those two
And BILLIONS worth with the Roadster to mars

Ford and GM have "Advertising" Departments
Tesla has a "Marketing" Department

Alfred Differ said...

XKCD always has a relevant one.
In this case it is for AI's taking over the voting machines.

Of course, it's the natural intelligences that are of more concern right now, hmm?

I love the current one. Worth a few tears for the ones who made it and a few more for the ones who did not.

Der Oger said...

@Jon S: "You mean like John Henry Eden, President of the United States in Fallout 3?"

Yes, and I just remembered John of Us, an android presidential candidate from "QualityLand".

Acacia H. said...

Back to science news.

There is another aspect to planetary habitability that could preclude a lot of planets from being able to sustain life - or at least complex forms of life. Radiogenic heating is important for the establishment of planetary magnetic fields. If there's too much? The magnetic field never forms. Too little? The planet is dead geologically. And we may even be seeing this in our own solar system... look at Mars which is not geologically active, and Venus which lacks a planetary magnetic field.

It may very well be that planets like the Earth are rare gems. You can have basic life evolve anywhere, but in order for you to have complex life... you need to have some means by which life can evolve, move onto dry land, and not be killed by the star that planet orbits. Thus you need a planetary magnetic field. You need a geologically active planet. You need a planet that isn't too close to larger stars that could go supernova, but not so far away from neutron stars and the like that it doesn't collect the necessary ingredients for a planet to be "just right" for life... and that planet needs to be the right distance away from the star it orbits, not constantly bombarded by large asteroids, not knocked out of orbit by migrating gas giants...

In short, it may be that there are plenty of worlds out there that COULD be habitable... but only a handful of worlds where the conditions are ripe enough that complex intelligent life will arise. And even then that life must avoid destroying itself and its planet.

Perhaps in ten thousand years we'll see a dozen or two dozen intelligent species in the Galaxy, spreading out, some allying with each other, others waging war, and all speaking of their own mythical homeworld. A small blue gem of a planet named Earth.


Pappenheimer said...

Re: Korea and the Chinese Army

If you read SLA Marshall on this, the Chinese only used 'human wave' tactics when there was no other option. Chinese small unit tactics emphasized infiltration and surrounding. (this is from the Wiki) "A typical Chinese short attack was carried out at night by small fireteams on a narrow front against the weakest point in enemy defenses.[26] The PVA assault team would crawl undetected within grenade range, then launch surprise attacks against the defenders in order to breach the defenses by relying on maximum shock and confusion". It's just that the Chinese had LOTS of small units.

This sounds more like the German Stosstruppen tactics used in late WWI.

If you are attacking with no air support, very little heavy artillery, and easily interdicted supply lines (see the no air support bit), this is about the best you'll be able to do.


Jon S. said...

Musk did not "found" Tesla. Musk purchased Tesla, then maneuvered the two founders into signing documents promising that they would not publicly discuss the fact that he had nothing to do with the development of their technology. I think it was during this past year that he sued one of them for speaking openly on the topic. (So much has gone on this past year, it's easy to lose track of exactly when things happened...)

Jon S. said...

Oh, and that "small pod" to "rescue" the kids in Thailand? It wasn't "small", it wouldn't have worked, and the cave-diving expert just said so out loud. Musk responded by insinuating, if not outright stating, that said cave-diver was only in Thailand as a sex tourist to exploit underage prostitutes.

Oh, and the tunnels he bores? They are in fact more expensive than tunnels bored using existing technology. Also, they don't work for the purpose he claimed for them.

Elon Musk is a good rocket engineer. Beyond that, he would appear to be little more than yet another spoiled rich boy (his family was already hugely wealthy due to their mines in Africa) who insists that everything has to go his way.

Zepp Jamieson said...

I liked the roadster launch. That showed a certain panache.
The Boring borer only does 1/8 the volume per lf as a conventional borer. It's not going anywhere. Certainly it doesn't have any serious applications in regards to mass transit.
In Thailand, he screwed up, and it took many expensive lawyers to get him off the hook.
As for marketing, that informed Donald Trump's entire life. Isn't it time we stopped admiring people for being outrageous for profit?

Darrell E said...

I get skepticism, it's essential. But I just don't get the Musk "hate," especially from so many in science and technology. Not to mention from the "let the invisible hand sort things out" types. Musk is a human. It's hard to say if he is a genius. But he sure could be. He's definitely way beyond average smart. He's also obsessively driven. He's also got flaws, like we all do. I've not seen a thing about him that would lead me to conclude that he is any worse of a human being than you or I.

Jon S. said . . .

"Musk did not "found" Tesla. Musk purchased Tesla, then maneuvered the two founders into signing documents promising that they would not publicly discuss the fact that he had nothing to do with the development of their technology."

Come on. That is nearly complete bullshit. And it would only take an hour or so of research on the internet to pretty convincingly demonstrate that. Sure, Musk was the 4th of 5 cofounders of Tesla. He joined the original 2 about seven months after they started the company. The original 2 didn't bring any Roadster technology with them when they started. The only thing they brought was an agreement with AC Propulsion to commercialize their car, the tzero. And the idea to take the electrics out of the tzero and stuff them into a Lotus Elise.

Musk purchased Tesla? No, he invested his own money in Tesla. Something like $6.5 million when he first joined the company. It wasn't until a few years later, with the company failing, that Musk invested more. And it wasn't until a couple more years later, when again the company was facing insolvency, that Musk invested even more of his money and became CEO, the 4th Tesla had had at that point.

And he had plenty to do with development of the Tesla Roadster. On the technical side, the business side and the fund raising side. Musk had as much or more to do with the design and development of the Roadster as any of the 5 co-founders. It is also safe to say that barring some other figure coming into the picture to save their bacon, Tesla would have failed in both their product, the Roadster, and, no doubt at all, financially.

duncan cairncross said...

Jon S
You are talking out of your behind
Tesla was going the way of all of the other EV startups - like AC Propulsion the company that developed the technology used on the Roadster
Because they wanted to START with an ecobox

It was Musk who wanted to start with a sports car and then work his way downmarket
Which is the way that WORKS!!!

The pod was designed with the support and input from the actual cave experts the ones in charge of the rescue
It was the plan 'B" and was not needed - if the weather had not changed those kids would have been rescued by the Thai Navy using the pod or would have died

The British caver who was assisting was extremely rude and suggested where Musk should put his pod
Musk responded in kind - and then the poor wee caver got all upset and took him to court

The Judge did not award ANY damages

Marketing - just because the Orange Cockwomble does a lot of marketing does not mean its wrong - he also breathes - are you going to stop breathing??

Alfred Differ said...

Musk responded in kind

Okay. That makes more sense given what else I've seen him say and do. 8)

Larry Hart said...

Whoever it was who posted that the Republicans are making a last ditch "Ghost Dance" is right on the money. Compare what they're feeling and doing now to a Kurt Vonnegut character's spiel in Player Piano:

"Toward the end of the nineteenth century," said Lasher, "a new religious movement swept the Indians in this country, Doctor."

"The Ghost Dance, Paul," said Finnerty.

"The white man had broken promise after promise to the Indians, killed off most of the game, taken most of the Indians' land, and handed the Indians bad beatings every time they offered any resistance," said Lasher.
"With the game and land and ability to defend themselves gone," said Lasher, "the Indians found out that all the things they used to take pride in doing, all the things that had made them feel important, all the things that used to gain them prestige, all the ways in which they used to justify their existence--they found that all of those things were going or gone. Great hunters had nothing to hunt. Great fighters did not come back from charging into repeating-arms fire. Great leaders could lead the people nowhere but into death in hopeless attack, or deeper into wastelands. Great religious could no longer show that the old religious beliefs were the way to victory and plenty."
"The world had changed radically for the Indians," said Lasher, "It had become a white man's world, and Indian ways in a white man's world were irrelevant. It was impossible to hold the old Indian values in the changed world. The only thing they could do in the changed world was to become second-rate white men, or wards of the white men."

"Or they could make one last fight for the old values," said Finnerty with relish.

"And the Ghost Dance religion," said Lasher, "was the last, desperate defense of the old values. ... And some of the more warlike tribes that still had a little physical fight left in them added a flourish of their own. The Ghost Shirt."
"They were going to ride into battle one last time," said Lasher, "in magic shirts that white men's bullets couldn't go through."

Jon S. said...

You really think accusations of pedophilia are an "in kind" response to a subject-matter expert telling you your device won't work, and waiting around until you finish it will get people killed anyway?

It makes sense only in light of what we've seen Musk say and do - like trying to get Tesla deemed an "essential service" when lockdowns began, then when rebuffed announcing that he was keeping the factory open at full production levels anyway and firing workers who either stayed home to avoid infection or went to the hospital with COVID. (Even contracting the disease himself doesn't seem to have softened his position.)

As for this "Internet research", are you perchance relying on Wikipedia here? Or worse, Tesla's own website, which is required to give the information they want it to? For funsies, here's a link to a CNN interactive timeline of the company; you'll notice that while he was an early investor, Musk was not a "founder". And the design of the car was contracted from Lotus Motors, not created by Musk.

I wonder if this is related to the same love of marketing that led everyone to associate Apple Computers with Steve Jobs, while completely ignoring the fact that the actual work was done by Steve Wozniak.

I just don't get this Musk worship I see so often. He's rich because he started out rich; he's thrown his money behind companies that can do good things (although Tesla's also been responsible for some of the environmental depredations underlying lithium-ion batteries, and the way he's been pushing the unfinished self-driving software for his cars is a tad suspect), but his actions have told us that he's not really a good man. (I do hope that when his kid gets older, Elon will front him the money for the legal name change, because with that name the only place the poor lad's getting hired is in his dad's company. Might as well have tattooed "KICK ME" on his while they were at it.)

Larry Hart said...

On the Ghost Dance thing posted above...

In normal circumstances, I would be sympathetic to the Ghost Dancers, for all of the reasons mentioned in the Vonnegut excerpt.

But when "all the things they used to take pride in doing, all the things that had made them feel important, all the things that used to gain them prestige, all the ways in which they used to justify their existence" depend on denying the same rights to other people, then they lose my sympathy. Those things should go the way of the dinosaur.

Darrell E said...

Sorry to not fit your fantasy, but no Jon S. No wikipedia, no Tesla.

You really don't seem to know what you are talking about and you are propagating misinformation. Looks like personal dislike has led you to swallow every negative thing you've ever heard about Musk without the need for further assessment while rejecting anything positive as Musk worship. Possibly also a committed moral or ideological view? Maybe anti-wealth? Anti-tech? Anti-big business? Anti-anyone who is too successful?

Some of what you are claiming is subjective matter of opinion stuff. I think your opinion is off, a bit simplistic, uncharitable and zealous, but oh well. If you think Musk is an ethically challenged asshole I'm not going to argue with you too much. But you are also wrong about many of your factual claims. Real wrong, bordering on Qanon wrong.

Tim H. said...

I was amused by this:

and this:

If we're really lucky, stand up comedians will have to work harder... we should be so lucky.

duncan cairncross said...

Hi Jon
Now I know what you are - and I will bear it in mind in the future and ignore everything you say
For people who are willing to change their minds being told to stuff your "pod" up your arse is normally considered enough of an insult to reply in kind
And THAT is what the judge decided
the rest of your spiel is jealous bollocks

The rest of the internet wunderkind took one idea and rode it to riches - were they smart? or lucky?

Musk has ridden three to millions/billions

That is beyond "lucky"

matthew said...

Check out the lyrics and themes behind Musk's co-parent, Grimes', music.
She is a serious scifi head.
Her latest album is basically a love song to Roko's Basilisk. Gives some insight into their relationship, IMO.
She's smarter than Elon, also. More talent than him by a mile.

Here is her last album, Miss Anthropocene. Give a listen. Lots of interesting AI art in it.

Here's one of my favorite older (heh four years, older) tunes of hers, "Kill v. Maim"

She likes to use AI to help her compose also.
Much more interesting than her rich boyfriend.

Larry Hart said...

Tim H:

If we're really lucky, stand up comedians will have to work harder... we should be so lucky.

I remember Bill Maher "complaining" when President Obama took office that there was nothing about him for comedians to lampoon. He ranted that Obama should "Black it up a little!". IIRC, he suggested that Obama display a heart-shaped bed in the West Wing, and declare, "This is where I make my babies at."

* * *

duncan cairncross:

Musk has ridden three to millions/billions

That is beyond "lucky"

Three times is enemy action. :)

Jon S. said...

You know, guys, no matter how hard you cape for Elon, he's not taking you to prom...

Larry Hart said...

Jeez, the Republican election fraud never ends.

In Michigan, two Republican election officials in the state’s largest county initially refused to certify results despite no evidence of fraud, then backtracked and voted to certify and then on Wednesday flipped again and said they “remain opposed to certification.” Some Republicans have called on the GOP statewide canvassers to so the same.

Guillotine futures rose sharply in pre-opening trading.

TheMadLibrarian said...

Well, maybe if we're lucky, he'll do for libraries what Carnegie did. I know of no library system that couldn't use a couple million cash infusion (looking dolefully at furlough threats).

Larry Hart said...

Words can't do justice to this Normal Rockwell parody image. An interesting self-portrait:

matthew said...

Note that the two Republicans in MI tried to take back their certification *after* Trump called them up.

Now the top GOP leadership in the MI House and Senate are flying to meet with Trump to discuss electors.

Trump is really going to try out his coup to see if it works.

Larry Hart said...

It's like something out of Kafka!

After failing repeatedly in court to overturn election results, President Trump is taking the extraordinary step of reaching out directly to Republican state legislators as he tries to subvert the Electoral College process, inviting Michigan lawmakers to meet with him at the White House on Friday.

Mr. Trump contacted the Republican majority leader in the Michigan State Senate to issue the invitation, according to a person briefed on the invitation. It is not clear how many Michigan lawmakers will be making the trip to Washington, nor precisely what Mr. Trump plans to say to the lawmakers.

Larry Hart said...

Wall Street exibits buyers' remorse.

"Do you still think you can control them?"

Some of the biggest corporate lobbying groups — including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers — supported President Trump in his push to cut taxes and roll back regulations while in office but are now breaking with the president as he pushes unfounded claims of fraud and wages a protracted court battle in an attempt to overturn the election results.
The National Association of Manufacturers on Wednesday called on the head of the G.S.A. to formally initiate the transition between Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden.

“It’s imperative that our nation has a President and advisors who are fully prepared to lead our nation on Inauguration Day given the magnitude of the challenges ahead and the threats to our economic and national security, and most importantly, to the public health,” wrote the manufacturing group’s leaders, including its president and chief executive, Jay Timmons, and the chief executives of the chemicals giant Dow and Trane Technologies.

“We call on the Trump administration to work cooperatively with President-elect Biden and his team,” the letter said.
And at the DealBook Online Summit on Wednesday, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, expressed dismay that the transition has not yet formally begun.

“We need a peaceful transition,” Mr. Dimon said. “We had an election. We have a new president. We should support that. Whether you like the election outcome or not, you should support the democracy because it is based on a system of faith and trust.”

A.F. Rey said...

My major worry about Trump replacing his military appointees at this last minute is if he somehow subverts enough electors to the Electoral College to stay President.

Then there will be real rioting in the streets.

And then he can instruct his recently-appointed cronies to send in the military to "quell" the violence.

That's the problem with tumbrels--their wheels are greased with blood. :(

Larry Hart said...

A.F. Rey:

That's the problem with tumbrels--their wheels are greased with blood. :(

That's the real meaning of (emphasis mine) "The tree of liberty must be watered from time to time with the blood of patriots."

Alfred Differ said...


maybe if we're lucky, he'll do for libraries what Carnegie did

Heh. That would be nice, but I think it unlikely. If you look at his approach to investing, it has a lot in common with doubling-down. It's not doubling down on a loss. It's not taking the winnings off the table.

If he continues, his most likely future involves one big bankruptcy taking down his ownership of the entire stack. The stack will survive (mostly), but the parts will be owned by several someone-else-s.

Jon S,

he's not taking you to prom

Ha! Sure he is. You just messed up the pronoun slightly.
Not "you".

No libraries from him, but civilization might get access to other planets. Personally, I have no issue with that OR with him being a trillionaire owner of the parts that make it happen... as long as civilization gets access to other planets.

TCB said...

Beau of the Fifth Column on Youtube says: if Trump used the whole US military (including those overseas, and reserves!) to maintain undemocratic control, he'd have 'just enough forces to fail'.

David Brin said...

"if Trump used the whole US military (including those overseas, and reserves!) to maintain undemocratic control, he'd have 'just enough forces to fail'."

And that assumes the armed forces uniformly obey, whereas I predict they would almost universally (except ICE and some police depts) DIS-obey. But In my Jefferson Rifle article I go farther. I doubt all 12 Army and Marine divisions could hold more than metro Washington against a fully roused citizenry, unless they used carpet bombing. In which case we are back to mutiny.

Der Oger said...

Re: Elon Musk:

It is almost as if he believed to be a living incarnation of Tony Stark, Hari Seldon, and Zefram Cochrane. But there are worse Cluster B personalities out there.

He gets some flak over here, from both the Conservatives and the unions (not totally undeserved, imho).

Larry Hart said...


"if Trump used the whole US military (including those overseas, and reserves!) to maintain undemocratic control, he'd have 'just enough forces to fail'."

This may be a naive question, but I've been wondering. What exactly would Trump use the military to force me (specifically) or the people of Illinois (generally) to do?

Larry Hart said...

Whatever happened to "We need to know the result by November 3 or it will look suspicious"?

Where is Brett Kavanaugh?

Acacia H. said...

Larry, Trump wants the November 3rd results. He wants to throw out every single mail-in ballot everywhere so he wins. So no. We don't need Brett Kavanaugh.


gerold said...

Larry: What Trump seems to be aiming for is being sworn-in on Jan. 20. One armored division strategically placed throughout DC should be enough to provide the photo-op.

He probably figures once he's sworn-in he's got immunity for another four years and after that, who knows? A lot of people are saying he'd make a great president for life.

Larry Hart said...

This seems to be an accurate assessment:

Conventional wisdom seems to be that we must not trigger people by discussing radical ideas like universal health care, civil rights for the L.G.B.T.Q. community, reckoning with police violence and the carceral system, protecting women’s bodily autonomy, and of course, student debt forgiveness. Somehow, compromise has come to mean not doing anything to upset anyone who is completely fine with ignoring the most urgent problems of our day.

Here’s the thing about anger. We only seem to prioritize one kind — anger in reaction to progress. And we never seem to acknowledge the anger rising out of oppression, marginalization, and under representation. The end of slavery and desegregation angered lots and lots of people, and so did taxation, suffrage, marriage equality. Progress angers people, but change is not the problem. The rage and resentment are.

TCB said...

Edward Norton (yes, the actor) says Trump is bluffing, just like in poker, but his cards are garbage. Call his bluff.

Norton explains that all this current chaos is really meant to secure a deal that keeps Trump out of federal and state prison. And that we should not take that deal, because if we do, Trump will be back.

David Brin said...

LH sorry that's silly. We're ALL rage addicts to some degree. Many can keep it level and lidded. And many can focus their anger on things that need it.

But yes, progress is more driven by progressive cool determination than by progressivists' rage.

Pappenheimer said...

If we are all rage addicts - I think I've had my fill in the past 4 years. It's helpful in the short run, but in the long run - well, I once (in a younger body) ran a long ways with Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries playing in my headphones. I made good time, but I was "walk only" for the next few days.

Is there a 12-step program? Can we have forced enrollment?

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

...We're ALL rage addicts to some degree.

But the op-ed I quoted (and with which I fully agree) isn't saying otherwise. What she is saying is that the political and pundit classes walk on eggshells to excuse, explain, and accommodate rage against progress, but vilify and oppose--with armed force if necessary--outrage against injustice and inequality.

Der Oger said...

@Larry Hart:

Injustice and inequality are mostly economic problems - and addressing this would lead to necessary reforms to be regarded/framed as socialism, not as acts of common sense and sober realpolitik.

The problem might be that the pundits are, more or less, all employees of media corporations. They cannot bite the hand that feeds them, demand reforms that would be necessary, but will hurt their employers.

David Brin said...

SLOTUS (sore loser of the US)...



Danny said...

I associate the notion that facts have a liberal bias, with a Paul Krugman op-ed piece in the New York Times, from 2017:

'Facts have a well-known liberal bias'. You might be happy with the association here, though Paul Krugman describes how 'the Republican Party has become an extremist institution' and so forth, it having been also 'obvious from the beginning', that Paul Ryan 'was a con man'.

Supposing that to be a bad thing, I think Paul Krugman isn't sweating the question whether he himself is biased.

Danny said...

I was wondering if you read some Krugman, though I remember the Colbert gag that reality has a liberal bias, which may be where Krugman got this line. He has used it more recently, too, but I can't swallow this from him, because of course, Paul Krugman's contention is that when you actually drill down into the real numbers of things then it turns out that the progressive idea of using more lovely government to fix things just works, and that is the liberal bias of the facts.

Is that really what it is? I worry, for example, that
Krugman's not quite right in his example of the minimum wage.

'The push for higher minimum wages, to take a not at all
arbitrary example, has been mightily helped by the
research literature showing that higher minimums don’t
cost jobs, a line of research pioneered by Alan Krueger,
one of the signatories of that open letter.'

So this is about 'intellectual integrity and openness to evidence', but also, Krueger's actual finding is, in line with pretty much all of the rest of the evidence, that modest minimum wages have modest effects. I confess that I’m little-persuaded by Card and Krueger’s research anyways, and come to think of it, just for another example, I recall when Krugman was praising Argentina as a “remarkable success story” and blaming biased economics reporting for the bad news recently associated with the country. The news having been about nationalizations, massive capital flight, cooking of official statistics,
bans on the importation of books, attacks on freedom of the press.

Rather than go into what Kirchnerism is, I ponder whether that it the way to convey my point that Lefty Paul Krugman urges more bias, as here:

'But making nebulous calls for centrism, like writing news reports that always place equal blame on both parties, is a big cop-out — a cop-out that only encourages more bad behavior. The problem with American politics right now is
Republican extremism, and if you're not willing to say that, you're helping make that problem worse.' So okay, he's denouncing the "centrist cop-out" of balance, specifically singling out the Associated Press and so forth. This, even though for example, over the last decade, the AP forbade the use of “illegal immigrant” in favor of “undocumented,” and banished “Islamist” from the vocabulary of those covering the putative threat from radical Islam, and said “terrorists” should be referred to as “militants.” Some might call this a liberal bias, although I wouldn't want to overstate it -- suppose that the AP is borderline left-center biased, more or less.

Call it what you will, I'm intrigued by this notion of a corporate-communication reference guide. It seems that the AP, with its proper sourcing and a clean fact check record, ran afoul of Krugman for what, now? For usually maintaining a neutral voice.