Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The Short Straw Gambit – flatter him! And more post mortems

I'm about to offer a very important possible/practical strategy for the opposition. A tactic of which I've seen no sign, so far.

Before that, though, may I make a point about the chaotic and crazed ructions that have ensued from the Keystone Kops shutdown of refugees and normal travelers from several Muslim countries? While millions march against the injustice of this awful and sweeping ban -- and some criticize its incompetent execution, with even the Homeland Security Department taken by surprise -- I must point out something else.  That it shows a dullard inability to distinguish between actions of calm policy and those made in an emergency.

Elsewhere I show how the first Iraq War - expelling Saddam's forces from Kuwait and rescuing the Saudis - might have been an intervention of urgency. But the second one could never be justified that way. I show how - even if Saddam had WMDs, there was no imminent excuse to call up (and ruin) the US Army reserves in an intervention of policy.

This distinction relates to the Muslim ban quite directly. The rushed, ill-considered and ill-planned nature of this executive order might have been justified if radical islamic terror cells were slaughtering Americans by the tens of thousands. But given the complete lack of any sign of imminent threat - plus the fact that ZERO refugees from any of the countries included in the travel ban have ever killed anyone in organized terror attacks on US soil... the sheer rush to implement a clumsy ban reflects poorly on the skill set of those who made it. The betrayal of US friends in Iraq and Iran - by failing to craft calm exceptions - is just more evidence for stunning unprofessionalism.

This distinction - between actions based on emergency vs policy is one that may escape average voters.  But we have professionals who should grasp the difference and strive to make it clear. (It is only part of the stunningly clear difference between Democratic or Republican styles of waging war.)

Woe unto us, if those pros are being ignored by keystone amateurs.

== What tools do the opposition need? ==

The Democratic Party is soliciting ideas on the future of the party on their website.  And sure, go ahead, offer your input. But seriously, they ignored the advice of George Lakoff. So what are the chances they’ll listen now? My initial suggestion? Fire the dunces who ignored George Lakoff. (More on him, in a coming posting.) 

This time, I want to focus on what may be the most critical lack in our arsenal.

Clever manipulators.

== All the varied autopsies ==

Probably the most-telling difference in reactions to the election that I have seen, between red and blue media and politicians and even voters, has been the countless liberal and moderate hand-wringing evaluations, as to why so many less-educated whites, especially males, seem so filled with rage.

One could hope for similar introspection on the other side, over the fact that their presidential and Congressional victories over-ruled large majorities of fellow citizens, including nearly every member of the fact-using professions, in all but one of the last eight elections. Elsewhere, I describe ways that Trump and Ryan might have reached out to the American majority, with peace offerings. (Inaugural day platitudes don’t count.)

Indeed, that might have happened, if clever Democrats had reached out to stroke Donald’s easily provoked ego. A notion that need explanation.

Look we are in a fight for civilization. And in a battle against immaturity, we cannot afford the kind of self-indulgences that so many marching liberals display. For starters, we need to know the word that best describes our president is not ‘immature,’ or ‘egotistical,’ or ‘right-wing,’ or ‘oligarchic,’ or ‘solipsistic.’ As pertinent as those may be, they pale in comparison to ‘reactive.’ 

Peter Wehner, a longtime conservative stalwart and senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, served in the previous three Republican administrations. His dissections of the President’s personality are especially caustic. “Donald Trump is a transgressive personality. He thrives on creating disorder, in violating rules, in provoking outrage. He is a shock jock. This might be a tolerable (if culturally coarsening) trait in a reality television star; it is a dangerous one in a commander in chief. He is unlikely to be contained by norms and customs, or even by laws and the Constitution. For Mr. Trump, nothing is sacred. The truth is malleable, instrumental, subjective. It is all about him. It is always about him.”

== The core truth about Donald Trump ==

History shows that if you make yourself seem to be his enemy, he will attack. If you seem pleasant toward him – even just for an instant – he will make nice. And the switch can be almost instantaneous. Hence, after his one transition meeting with President Obama, Trump kvelled about what a “nice man” and a “leader” Obama was.  All of this has been transparent for a long time. And I can see in the eyes of Paul Ryan and his pals on Fox their delight that Democrats cannot act on this, seizing the opportunity it presents.

The blatantly obvious strategy for Democratic politicians and leaders would be to hold a meeting and draw straws… whereupon the short straw folks would have to make nice-nice with Donald Trump.   

Sure, limit this to public figures who have perfectly safe seats, and strong stomachs! Adults who are capable of immense self-control and savvy word-use. But from then on, those volunteers will reach out to “P45,” with compliments and gestures of friendliness.

Not knuckling in on policy matters! “I disagree with that policy” is just fine.  Trump does not internalize policy as a reason to hate; but he boils toward those who dislike him.

Moreover, it can be plain to all, what these folks are doing. With a nod or wink, or with some pundit calling them the ‘short straw sacrifices.’ Hell, it will be plain to Bannon, Conway and company what’s going on. They will rail about it to Trump… and that won’t make any difference!  We now know that if you are nice to him, it doesn’t matter what’s beneath. He will react. He will answer expressions of dislike with nuclear hate. And if you compliment him over anything, he will gush appreciation.

“I disagree with almost everything he says… but boy is our president good-looking for a man his age. Perhaps one of the most-handsome presidents in history.”

Or even better?  "I'll vote against the bad things that racists and the Kochs and Saudis are forcing on President Trump; but he's a very savvy fellow and I'll bet he's just giving them plenty of rope, biding his time, and he will come around."

As transparent as this might seem, if it is delivered with manifestations of sincerity – not sarcasm – you will likely get lunch at the White House, and thereupon have a chance to slip in slivers of wisdom about policy.

Will liberals attack the flatterers? Sure. But word can spread, along with the openly known code-word -- "Short Straw." They will survive, and some of us will know they are heroes.

Given this obvious fact about P45, there is only one explanation for the democrats’ complete inability to exploit it.  Stupidity.

*Late Note: At least our previous President seems to be smart enough to know how to handle Donald Trump. Here's an ABC news video of President Trump gushing over the (traditional) letter that President Obama left him on his last day in office. The Lesson? You can give in to the seductive-addictive poisons of indignation... or you can focus on how to win for your side... or you can dial in, with fierce practicality on what might accomplish the most good, overall..

== What might have happened ==

Nothing could possibly have proved my case more than Trump’s transition to the White House, appointing by far the most right wing and confederate cabinet in U.S. history. This does not actually benefit him, in any practical way. This excessive and extreme reaching out to pick the most unpalatable folks possible can only be explained by the reactive syndrome I discussed above. There is only one motivation at work here – to gall those who dislike him.

Elsewhere, in “Honoring the Losing Majority” -- I spoke to what a decent person would do, if you were the one taking office so disliked by a large minority – in this case majority – of the American people.

As a businessman, he might have accepted the notion of consulting over mainstream cabinet appointments, or my idea of letting democrats control his meeting agenda, once a month. But that proved emotionally impossible. Again. Flatter him and he can be your friend, in an instant. Confront him, and he’ll do the opposite of what you want, to spite you. So far, it’s entirely the latter.

Yes, someone as smart as Al Franken may learn the trick of using reverse psychology. But it won’t come easy to American liberals or moderates. I’d wager they’ll never get it.

To be clear, I am not saying don’t fight! Indeed, I fizz with ideas how Americans should switch from sumo – which the confeds want – over to judo. Indeed, in What Went Wrong with the Democratic PartySean McElwee attributes the Democrats’ debacle to one big failure - a continuing delusional tendency to reach out to opponents, in expectation they’ll be willing to negotiate. That this isn’t – pure and simple – war.

Alas, though, political war calls for a wide variety of tactics. Moreover, if you cannot see the difference – and compatibility – of having a few assigned flatterers while answering the confeds policies as they deserve well… then you aren’t thinking it through.

== Lagniappes ... ==

There are always codas. A shotgun splattering our sensibilities. For example:

Within a week of the DT administration and days after Steve Bannon takes over national security, some of our top assets in Moscow get ratted out.

Finally...Th
is will make you laugh and cry at the same time!  The Netherlands appeals to Trump to make them "second"!


172 comments:

Colleen Kelly said...

Bravo! you obviously understand the behavior of a true narcissist. Flattery will get you everywhere..even it feels fake or forced to the person giving it. It is the only thing besides attention that the patient wants...and it can neutralize the target. In this political contest though it Can only be a few Dems though cause they still need a target until he gets obsessed with another bigger one ie like China... and the rest of the Dems will have to fill that role.

I'm as interested in why this broad socio-ecomonic group of white male voters is so angry and disenfranchised??? I dont think its economic..I think they're targeting the gov't but that's not their real enemy...or nemisis...what do you think ?

MillenniumCrow said...

Regarding emergency vs. policy: I had a conservative friend tell me yesterday that the "liberal media" was being hypocritical by criticizing Trump's executive order while neglecting to mention a similar ban by the Obama administration in 2011. If you've seen or heard this going around, the Washington Post did a pretty good job of breaking down the differences.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2017/01/29/trumps-facile-claim-that-his-refugee-policy-is-similar-to-obama-in-2011/?utm_term=.d4542e29b882

The Obama administration's temporary ban was caused by specific intelligence (aka the "emergency" rationale). Furthermore, it looks like that administration tried to expedite the vetting of Iraqis and minimize second- and third-order negative consequences of the ban, whereas this one seems if anything to be deliberately maximizing them.

Ericlaw said...

"(More on him, below.) " seems to be missing?

Ilithi Dragon said...

To tac onto the "Dems are idiots at strategy" concept, something that's been irking me a lot lately:

One of the responses to the ban has been a flurry of FB imagery and posting, commenting on how few people are killed by islamic terrorists each year (you're about 5-6 times as likely to be killed by lightning, and two orders of magnitude more likely to die falling out of bed). This is all well and good, and in-and-of-itself is a good way to point out the silliness of it.

Right up until they bring up guns. Because the very end of the post or the image shows gun death statistics. And while, in the absolute sense, this is a valid concern, and gun deaths are a serious issue, it is EXACTLY THE WRONG THING TO BRING UP. Because Republicans/conservatives have been thoroughly trained/indoctrinated/disciplined to completely shut down and reject anything liberals/democrats say on gun control.

By trying to steer criticism of the ban into a dig on gun control issues, dems and liberals are GUARANTEEING that reps/conservatives will shut down and ignore anything and everything they just said.

But my left/liberal-leaning friends keep throwing this around FB, because the freaking idiots don't know how to talk to conservatives, and don't know how to convince them of anything.

Ilithi Dragon said...

Hmmm... At least our previous President seems to be smart enough to know how to handle President Trump. Here's an ABC news video of President Trump gushing over the (traditional) letter that President Obama left him on his last day in office:

https://www.facebook.com/ABCNews/videos/10155313617123812/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED

TCB said...

There's a Twitter account which purports to be White House insiders anonymously dropping gossip. RoguePOTUSStaff do seem knowledgeable and correctly predicted Gorsuch as the SCOTUS pick a couple of days in advance.

They tweeted this a couple of days ago:

Rogue POTUS Staff ‏@RoguePOTUSStaff Jan 28

POTUS, Bannon want GOP to back #Calexit

California secession organizers say they've opened an embassy -- in Moscow

Rogue POTUS Staff ‏@RoguePOTUSStaff Jan 28

POTUS wants GOP to give $$ to #Calexit . Bannon urges to openly endorse as state's rights issue, but privately to shift elect. college red.


What the hell. Sounds crazy, but is it too crazy for these times? And could Calexit be Russian psy-op?

Alfred Differ said...

@TCB: Okay, first off: I disagree on where the burden of proof ought to lie!

Heh. You weren’t the one I thought would jump on that first. I expected Larry to chew me out and I had a Hamilton quote all ready to go. 8)

However… I still think the burden of proof lies with us. I’m not trying to foist it on you and avoid the work since I really wouldn’t mind showing that some of the local GOP types are cheaters too. I have a different reason, but I’d still help. So… No. You don’t get to dodge the work. No whining about how hard it is either. If you really feel the election was illegitimate, roll up your sleeves and help prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

This is important. It is not enough to feel that the case is good enough as is. If we try to push things as they are now, the military will split too evenly (or even against us) if push comes to shove. If the case is made beyond a reasonable doubt, the split will be much different if it should ever come to such an ugly outcome. Odds are it wouldn’t be that ugly as some other event would occur to prevent bloodshed.

Don’t accept that the ballots cannot be counted. Obviously it is too late to count them to prevent the crisis, but if they exist, we can push to get them counted. Lawyer up.

It takes two teams to play hardball properly.

TCB said...

Oh, and there's this.

Did Vladimir Putin try to bribe Donald Trump to lift sanctions on Russia with an $11 billion stake in Rosneft, the largely state-controlled Russian oil company giant?

Quote:

The “Steele Dossier,” compiled by Christopher Steele — a former British intelligence agent who now acts as a private research consultant — made headlines primarily for the allegation that Trump had hired Russian prostitutes to perform a “golden shower” show for him in a Moscow hotel.

But while the vivid imagery of Trump enjoying the scene as women urinated on each other grabbed the national imagination, the Steele Dossier contained a far more important and potentially explosive allegation: that a secretive former top Trump confidant, Carter Page, received an offer from Rosneft CEO Igor Sachin to broker a sale of 19 percent of the massive oil firm, according to a report by Business Insider last week.


And now we find that unidentified persons (hiding behind Cayman Islands corporate laws) have bought almost exactly that much of Rosneft:

“The reason this is so interesting is that the dossier said this in July, and the sale didn’t happen until early December,” wrote political analyst Yonatan Zunger in a Medium.com posting on Sunday. “And 19.5 percent sounds an awful lot like “19% plus a brokerage commission.”

This sort of thing makes me think Trump may never choose to leave office peacefully: somebody once compared a dictator to a man riding a tiger: all fear him, but he dare not get off the beast or it will devour him too. Because if Trump is the true recipient of this stake in Rosneft, and a future government not friendly to him ever finds out he is the owner...

Alfred Differ said...

@Paul451: The Civil War didn't eliminate cultural differences between the Union and Confederacy. And it didn't kill off enough of the southern population to prevent them from raising a new army.

It didn't end either. See?


Much of European history of the last few centuries can be cast as a civil war raging between many groups across the whole continent. It is a big stretch of the analogy and some reject the attempt, but casting it as such has some useful things to say about their future. NO ONE has had the power to commit genocide on a large enough scale to end their wars, though many have tried. The ONLY way out for them is intermarriage. (That doesn't mean love has to win out, though.)

They changed course after WWII except for the Russians.
Will it be enough? I sincerely hope so.
Do they need our help? I rather doubt it, though we can be useful at times.

Dual identity babies learn to deal with dissonance.
They might even merge the identities their parents couldn't manage.

Alfred Differ said...

@Jonathan Sills: Alfred, I hold that Donnie is illegitimate as President not because... (oath violations)

That doesn't make him illegitimate.
That makes him impeachable.
If Congress refuses to impeach him, that is a different matter.

dennisd said...

@Ericlaw
Brin might be referring to George Lakoff's advice for how to avoid promoting Trump's ideas when reporting/thinking/talking about Trump and his tweets.
WNYC's Brooke Gladstone interviews Lakoff.
www.wnyc.org/story/george-lakoff
'A Taxonomy of Trump Tweets'


MillenniumCrow said...

@Ilithi Dragon,
Agreed on the stupidity of mentioning anything even slightly related to gun control to a conservative. I've seen the same thing. The same is true of some of their other hot-button issues, unfortunately. Abortion comes to mind, as does their excessive veneration of the military. That second one bothers me on a personal level. There is very little that makes me angrier than a "thank you for your service" coming from someone who's only using that statement to signal how patriotic the speaker is. When I try to talk to conservatives, if any of these topics come up it's pretty much a lost cause. What little success I've had mostly comes from pointing out how conservative policies negatively impact national security, but this only works on people who have both some knowledge of national security matters and who consider such issues to be a priority. Outside of the military, those people tend to be rare. Have you had very many "persuasive" conversations with conservatives, and if so what have you noticed that's worked for you?

LarryHart said...

Ilithi Dragon:

But my left/liberal-leaning friends keep throwing this around FB, because the freaking idiots don't know how to talk to conservatives, and don't know how to convince them of anything.


I wish I knew what "FB" was referring to. :)

In any case, did you see Jim Wright's rant (Stonekettle Station) asking Trump supporters why they're cheering an American president threatening to send federal troops into an American city to take people's guns away?

LarryHart said...

Ericlaw:

"(More on him, below.) " seems to be missing?


He said more "in a coming posting".

donzelion said...

"History shows that if you make yourself seem to be his enemy, he will attack. If you seem pleasant toward him – even just for an instant – he will make nice."

Trump's hamfisted mendacity is ultimately governed by 'what's best for Trump, and those special friends who can make headaches for him.' Obama was not such a friend - hence 'making nice' for one photo op lasted barely a month.

Of those special friends, they are not all 'rich' people. Trump had no problem snubbing Saudis, esp. Prince Waleed bin Talal, even though they helped bail him out in the '90s.

Saudi Arabia was excluded from this round of the travel ban not because of deep ties of friendship between Trump and certain Saudi 'friends' - but by the simple fact that a lot of U.S. properties could be forced onto the market if owners and their agents cannot visit. A sudden sale of prestige properties (in districts where price isn't public, but 'never goes down') would sink a fair number of tycoons. There aren't enough Russian oligarchs to make up the difference...

Flypusher said...

I can see the merit of the flattery approach, but it would take far more acting chops than I possess- I really loathe that blustering petty fool that deeply. Fortunately I am not a politician, so I don't have to. I'll wish good luck to any short-straw Dems, and remind the pissed off far left to prioritize the battles wisely. You can't fight tooth and nail on everything-the numbers in Congress aren't there. The state and local levels can provide some better battlefields for the next two years.

Dagobert said...

http://www.fox2detroit.com/news/local-news/232856168-story?fb_comment_id=1219540084832830_1219653284821510&amp%3Bcomment_id=1219653284821510


This is how we treat people who help us.

"
In the 2000s, he returned to Iraq where he worked as a contractor for the United States Special forces between 2003 and 2008 as an interpreter and cultural advisor. He even survived being shot in the back while serving."

Tony Fisk said...

@milleniumcrow, @ilithidragon Socrates characterised oratory as appeals to logic, emotion, and belief (there are modern variants, but those three remain the basic toolkit). The problem with talking to Conservatives is that they have hedged themselves in with so many immutable faith-based arguments, like "need my guns!", that reason has ceased to have any use on them. (indeed, I regard logic as having little use in pressing an argument, although it's invaluable as backup).

You have to identify the bedrock of their faith, and modify your arguments in such a way that the bedrock is not threatened. The problem being that the bedrock has come to dominate the Conservative landscape.

As to the idea of using flattery as a diversionary tactic... Hmmm. I'm not convinced it would achieve anything. Trump isn't just a narcissist. He has a history of eventually devouring all those sucking up to him. Maybe he regards them as broken enemies, to be relished at leisure? Rubio. Giuliana. I can't imagine he'd treat any Democrats differently. The only example of this tactic working that I know of comes from "I, Claudius". Claudius was able to amuse the Emperor Caligula pretty well as an uncle, and as the court fool. Even then, the main aim was survival. The short straw's aim would need to be more than that, or it's a futile exercise.
As someone who was never in direct competition, Obama *might* be able to swing it, but I think he has other things planned (plus, he'd deserve canonising after!!)

Catfish N. Cod said...

The problem with the "Short-Straw" plan is that P45 (nice one) will require CONSTANT flattery/redirecting in order to keep his attention on nonnegative actions/concepts/ideas. Since he forgets a previous policy position the instant it's socially advantageous, this is an unsolvable problem.

In the meantime, as soon as a "Short-Straw" starts the gambit, all the other President's Men will see it for the gambit it is and use it to destroy the Short-Straw. They're rather good at culling-from-the-herd, given a target. Sure, the Short-Straw can deflect any complaints they make to P45, and clear signaling elsewhere ("I am drawing the Short-Straw to talk to him") can secure him/her against direct calls of betrayal.

But on the one hand, Ds will be watching to see if the Short-Straw sells out, and on the other, the Short-Straw has invited the entire right-wing spin complex to attack them as the threat to conservative control of the P45's brain that they are. At which point, the Short-Straw becomes the subject of Fox News debate, and they get the Hillary treatment; and eventually that will both erode the Short-Straw's funding and support base, and wear down P45's positive glow from being flattered.

So no, I don't think they are crazy to leave the flattering part to P44. Though if he can bring himself to do it, I can think of one more person that could pull it off. Someone with the acting skills, the schmooze skills, the motivation, and the utterly untouchable nature -- someone who would drive the Republicans up the wall yet who could not be shrugged off no matter what. And someone who is ultimately expendable as past their sell-by date.

Ladies and gentlemen, hand the short straw to P42.

Catfish N. Cod said...

Case in point:

Trump Ignored All of Obama’s Advice—and Now He’s in a World of Trouble

Alfred Differ said...

That would be funny to watch.
Yah. P42.

Tony Fisk said...

P42... P45, OK. Now I've got Pink Floyd going off in my head:

Come on in here boy. Have a cigar. You're gonna go far!

Bad! Ba-ad hippocampus!

Jeff Rutherford said...

I liked your reference to judo. I'm very curious and would love to read a list of judo moves that you think people (not politicians) could do right now to hamper Trump's agenda.

FloydKnowles said...

It seems you're advising a strategy of praising the Emperor's rainment ?
I think I favor mockery, ridicule, and satire as my weapons. These seem effective, particularly as he reacts so inappropriately that his allies are too frightened to stand near.

Tim H. said...

FloydKnowles, there's an old saying, "Never get in a pissing contest with a skunk.".

Carl M. said...

Good one!

I argued for something similar to conservatives when Bill Clinton was in office. (He responded to flattery, too.) Instead, the stupid Republicans complained about Bill "stealing their ideas."

And as I keep reminding you, much of Trump's agenda pre McGovern Democrat. You could work with this -- instead of complaining about Republican inconsistency. YOU keep talking about how great the 1950s were. Bringing back the 1950s is Trump's stated ambition.

You can focus on this bad attributes -- of which there are many. Or recognize that you have a Mad Moderate on your hands that you could work with.

Flypusher said...

"So no, I don't think they are crazy to leave the flattering part to P44. Though if he can bring himself to do it, I can think of one more person that could pull it off. Someone with the acting skills, the schmooze skills, the motivation, and the utterly untouchable nature -- someone who would drive the Republicans up the wall yet who could not be shrugged off no matter what. And someone who is ultimately expendable as past their sell-by date.

Ladies and gentlemen, hand the short straw to P42."

Right now Bannon is the main schmoozer-flatterer with Boss Tweet's ear. It would be highly amusing, as well as good for the world, if Bill managed to displace him. Clinton certainly has much more charisma than Bannon.

Dwight Williams said...

The consequences for those around him, published by The Walrus:

https://thewalrus.ca/narcissistic-personality-disorder-comes-to-washington/

LarryHart said...

Carl M:

And as I keep reminding you, much of Trump's agenda pre McGovern Democrat. You could work with this -- instead of complaining about Republican inconsistency. YOU keep talking about how great the 1950s were. Bringing back the 1950s is Trump's stated ambition.


Republicans are intent on bringing back the 1850s.

You can focus on this bad attributes -- of which there are many. Or recognize that you have a Mad Moderate on your hands that you could work with


Every cabinet pick, every judicial nominee, every executive order is a gift to oligarchs or the alt-right. Yes, there were some things Candidate Trump indicated which Democrats could work with (for example, not killing Medicare), but as president--even as the Republican nominee for president--he's shown little indication in that direction.

It's also difficult to deal with someone who lies shamelessly, and who demands loyalty but doesn't give any. Ok, I'm focusing on his bad qualities, but to not acknowledge them and pretend otherwise would be to attempt to live a fantasy.

During the campaign, I liked to paraphrase this bit from "Hamilton", which is still appropriate (though would be more poignant had Hillary won) :

The people are asking to hear my voice,
And the country is facing a difficult choice.
So if you were to ask me who I'd promote
...
Hillary gets my vote!

I have never agreed with Hillary once.
We have fought on like seventy-five different fronts.
But when all is said, and all is done,
Hillary has beliefs. Trump has none.

LarryHart said...

Flypusher:

Right now Bannon is the main schmoozer-flatterer with Boss Tweet's ear. It would be highly amusing, as well as good for the world, if Bill managed to displace him. Clinton certainly has much more charisma than Bannon.


:)

On one of this season's first SNL shows, they did a "Family Feud" riff with the Hillary campaign vs the Trump campaign. At one point, the game's host looks up and sees that "Bill Clinton" has left his seat and gone over to the opposite table where he is chatting up "Ivanka". Something like that in real life is not beyond plausibility.

Flypusher said...

"It's also difficult to deal with someone who lies shamelessly, and who demands loyalty but doesn't give any. Ok, I'm focusing on his bad qualities, but to not acknowledge them ."

Vox had an interesting article on why people like Spicer are spinning such obvious lies- that's the loyalty test. Prove your commitment to team Trump by tossing aside your integrity to defend this blatant falsehood. The failure to give loyalty in return is a major Achilles heel here. Once some of these abused subordinates reach their breaking points, there's useful intelligence to be had.

I have to wonder how long Spicer will last. It is obvious that he is miserable, and for all his soul-selling effort he gets Trump's catty comments about his clothes. Conway OTOH was already an intellectual prostitute, so she's perfectly comfortable in her role as BS spreader.

LarryHart said...

Flypusher:

Vox had an interesting article on why people like Spicer are spinning such obvious lies- that's the loyalty test. Prove your commitment to team Trump by tossing aside your integrity to defend this blatant falsehood.


Yes, it's what someone here once described as "Calling a donkey a horse." One demonstrates that one is more loyal to the authority figure than to personal integrity or reality.

I can even envision a rational argument for the disaffected workers who make up much of Trump's support to do so. Reality and Integrity have failed them--failed to produce a positive outcome in their lives. The hope is that the leader will do better by them if they grovel.


The failure to give loyalty in return is a major Achilles heel here.


Yup.

Carl M. said...

Let us remember this picture:
http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2015/jul/21/carlos-curbelo/clintons-really-did-attend-donald-trumps-2005-wedd/

Carl M. said...

And this:
http://www.politico.com/story/2015/06/donald-trump-donations-democrats-hillary-clinton-119071

Robert said...

Speaking of short-straw flattery:
"O Smaug, the Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities!"
And, unfortunately, Wormtongue is now senior to the Secretary of Defense and the Director of Intelligence.

My best friends are Dutch and French, so guess hat I sent them? And most of my email correspondents.

Also, look up "Trumpus" graphics.


Bob Pfeiffer.

Flypusher said...

Revolt of the civil servants:

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/2/1/14470198/state-department-dissent-memo-trump-immigration-ban

Not a personal insult to Trump, but that's how he'll take it. The big question is, will Congress start to dismantle the civil service protections? Obviously a very bad idea, but the GOP has been swallowing lots of bad ideas in recent years.

Peter said...

Another prediction from 'Existence'. Trillionaires:

http://www.businessinsider.com/bill-gates-could-be-the-worlds-first-trillionaire-by-2042-2017-1?r=US&IR=T

Jonathan Sills said...

Unfortunately, Donnie's history seems to indicate that flattery itself will only get his attention. To calm him down, you also have to agree with everything he says and go along with his every idiot notion, no matter how destructive. How else do you think he managed to run so many businesses into the ground so quickly? (Even an Atlantic City casino, in the pre-Indian-casino days - a veritable license to print money, and he managed to go broke!)

Zepp Jamieson said...
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donzelion said...

Biblical books like Daniel and Esther offer illustrative guidance on handling narcissistic figures: flatter them ("Oh King, may you live forever") however you please, you'll still be tossed into the lion's den (by them or their jealous followers) - or forced into their beds in order to save your people.

The real solution to mendacious narcissists: bypass them.

Find whatever mechanism works to avoid their attention. The Biblical solution to the problem of exile was to move back to Israel to get out from under the Persian royal court's thumb. For Claudius, it meant playing the fool.

Professionally, lawyers on the whole deal with narcissists in society more than any other profession. All those lousy, narcissistic kiddos in school who abuse their classmates? They wind up hiring us: the smart/elite ones will have a larger pool of lawyers than anyone else, the less elite will wind up running afoul of the law, or abusing their spouse or other partners - and will hire a lawyer to help get away with it (and sometimes, the other side will hire a lawyer to try to make them stop). This is our raison d'etre, our bread and butter.

The first lesson to learn is that you cannot control their behavior. Every time you erroneously think you are manipulating them, you will discover just how minimal your influence ever was - and be disposed of.

You can guard against certain threats, you can structure arrangements and limit the harm. You can flatter them in one instance to set them off balance temporarily, but ultimately, your only solution, as with the Biblical one, is avoid, bypass, and limit the harm they do to you.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Carl M: "And as I keep reminding you, much of Trump's agenda pre McGovern Democrat."

The problem is that you have have to take his 'common man populism' at face value, and there isn't a shred of evidence to support that notion. A quick glance at his cabinet nominees will disabuse you of that notion; a Labor secretary who wants to get rid of the minimum wage, an EPA nominee who is a creature of the oil industry, and a dodgy pseudo-religious MLM 'capitalist' to run the schools.

Doctor Brin: manipulation through positive feedback works to an extent with narcissists, and makes them somewhat controllable. But remember this particular narcissist has nearly unlimited power, so avoid praise such as "Oh, Donald, you could send the army over and wipe China off the map in two weeks thanks to your strategic skills" or "A man of your stature should not have to put up with insults from those tacky demonstrators."

donzelion said...

Zepp: "manipulation through positive feedback works to an extent with narcissists, and makes them somewhat controllable."

Not so. "Positive feedback" is far more likely to reward and expand the narcissist's frame of influence and capabilities. It 'deflects' their attentions away from you, but by definition, they are not controlled by outside influences, so much as seeking opportunities to exploit them.

One can never achieve anything enduring by inflating the ego of someone driven by delusions of grandiosity, one who is utterly uninterested in social norms and values. One will only inflate that ego even more, and then suffer anguish at the discovery of how little they cared about anything you ever did for them - they will cast you aside, shrug as the lions devour you, and turn back to whatever the next game that attracts their attention.

As a temporary deflection? Certainly, a tactic worth considering, within a broader tactical playbook and when the alternatives give you nothing left to lose. Sheep have a vast array of strategies to protect themselves from wolves - herds, shepherds, rams, sheepdogs - but playing nicely with the wolves will not endear you to them.

David Brin said...

I haven’t a clue what’s gone wrong with Carl M. I suspect that his account and ID have been hacked by someone with 50 pts lower IQ and zero access to history or logic. I may dig our my old emails and warn Carl what’s happened.

“YOU keep talking about how great the 1950s were. Bringing back the 1950s is Trump's stated ambition.”

No sir, YOU keep ignoring every single thing that I have said about the 1950s.
1- That we have made spectacular progress, since those primitive and frightening and dismal days:
http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2011/10/was-1957-america-better-than-today.html

2- The Greatest Generation that made most of that progress believed in science, in professionalism, in high taxes on the rich, in strong Unions and the vastly successful social contract forged by their favorite living human, FDR.

If you are going to try a fatuous argument, try making it NOT one that is diametrically and spectacularly opposite to fact, at every level and in every way.

In fact, Trumpists do mean to return to 1950’s BAD aspects while utterly reversing every single policy that the GGs held and that led to our success.

Oh the images! So some DP pols kissed up to a billionaire at his wedding. Big Freaking Deal. You are desperate, sir, clutching at images and nostrums and incantations to avoid facing the fact that the right has gone stark jibberinge insane and liberals simple… have… not.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Carl M: "And as I keep reminding you, much of Trump's agenda pre McGovern Democrat."

The problem is that you have have to take his 'common man populism' at face value, and there isn't a shred of evidence to support that notion. A quick glance at his cabinet nominees will disabuse you of that notion; a Labor secretary who wants to get rid of the minimum wage, an EPA nominee who is a creature of the oil industry, and a dodgy pseudo-religious MLM 'capitalist' to run the schools.


Carl is a libertarian. He might see all of those as good things. Or at least, only 10% as Hillary.


Doctor Brin: manipulation through positive feedback works to an extent with narcissists, and makes them somewhat controllable. But remember this particular narcissist has nearly unlimited power, so avoid praise such as "Oh, Donald, you could send the army over and wipe China off the map in two weeks thanks to your strategic skills" or "A man of your stature should not have to put up with insults from those tacky demonstrators."


In "Schindler's List", Schindler has to work with a sadistic commandant of a concentration camp. For awhile, he convinces the guy that exerting the power of life over death--pardoning someone instead of shooting him--makes him into more of a god in the prisoners' eyes. The ploy works for awhile, but then the commandant gets bored and starts randomly shooting prisoners again. As if to say, "Ok, enough of that."

Flypusher said...

For any one trying to convince themselves that Trump's populism is a thing, the title alone makes the counterpoint:

http://rudepundit.blogspot.com/2017/01/donald-trump-is-liar-and-youre-chump-if.html?m=1

(NSFW language as the Rude Pundit is as advertised).

I have to wonder how many Trump supporters would chose to do business with another person who had his type of business history, or be warning any female friends/relatives who were dating a man with his personal history.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Donzelion wrote: "Not so. "Positive feedback" is far more likely to reward and expand the narcissist's frame of influence and capabilities. It 'deflects' their attentions away from you, but by definition, they are not controlled by outside influences, so much as seeking opportunities to exploit them."

Fair point. But you know, there's always the story of King Canute (or Knut or one of several other varients). There's two versions that I'm aware of. In the first, the one we learned in primary form, Canute was a vain and foolish king who was persuaded that he had the power to turn back the tide, and got his feet wet as a result. He may have even drowned, although tides in that part of England aren't normally that extreme.

The second version had the same sequence of events, only in a fury, he had his syncophants and flatterers all executed. This in turn breaks down into two different versions, centered around Canute's motivations. In one, he was convinced he could do it, and was furious that he was lied to. In the other, he staged the beach show in order to have just cause (by the standards of the day) to get rid of irksome flatterers and syncophants.

Then, of course, there's the most likely but least interesting theory: that nothing of the sort ever happened.

The various stories are all worth considering when considering how to manipulate the Donald. My take on him is that he's crafty, but not particularly intelligent. He will know how to use you, but he might not be so quick to tell when he himself is being used. And if he catches on, then you're going to get your feet wet because you're caught midstream in a canute with no paddle. (OK, sorry. It just slipped out.)

The lesson is clear enough, though: manipulate at your own risk. Narcissists are dangerous to begin with, and as I said, this one has extraordinary power.

donzelion said...

“YOU keep talking about how great the 1950s were. Bringing back the 1950s is Trump's stated ambition.”

Was I sleeping as the Republicans passed a plan to restore a 70% personal income tax rate (as high as 91%, though the highest effect rate was probably 70%)?

Oh no, they want to bring back that 'other' 1950s -
-the pre-Brown v. Board of Education, pre-Evolution, pre-Roe v. Wade era of sunshine and happiness
-the era when Trump's daddy made an 'honest' $100 million through exploiting federal public assistance to provide housing (while avoiding said 70% income tax rate)
-the era when wife-beating or spousal rape were 'discouraged' - but seldom illegal
-when children learned about the world through nuclear duck'n'cover drills
-when immigration flows (from Europe) were barely regulated, and any Muslim who wanted could enter America (so long as they didn't join a union on arrival) (bear in mind, Muslims were 'preferred' in that era, as they had the lowest propensity for socialist sympathies of any immigrant group)

Trump has no interest in the 1950s. He has no interest in any era except the 'Trump Age.'

donzelion said...

Zepp: "...then you're going to get your feet wet because you're caught midstream in a canute with no paddle. (OK, sorry. It just slipped out.)"

LOL, I hadn't heard this story put that way...but have always heard the expression as "up sh!t creek without a paddle." One does well to avoid sh!t creek.

If one must cross it, seek bridges, not canoes (or Canutes).

Trump is more of a "sh!t storm": ideally, one does not get caught out in one. But we are where we are. Let's make sure our umbrella ain't full of holes.

"Narcissists are dangerous to begin with, and as I said, this one has extraordinary power."
The best strategy to avoiding dangerous power is to set up a rival - and strengthen it. Acquiescing, flattering, or accommodating power can only work as a temporary measure when there are no alternatives - a ploy to escape peril. Deluding ourselves into believing that our accommodations 'weaken' or 'use' that power will expose us to much greater threat.

Wolves harassing? Find stronger rams. A lone ram loses a fight with a wolf, but a dozen rams can easily handle a wolf (and there will always be many more rams than wolves). As an alternative, align with the humans - those scientific tricks enable them to wipe out all the wolves. Often turns out that the more they fleece you, the less they eat you.

Robert said...

There are two things to realize. First, Trump cannot accept dissent and ridicule. Second, Trump suffers from mental illness - narcissistic personality disorder. So we need to push him. Constantly. We need to constantly push him until finally he snaps. Because the moment he snaps, Republicans will remove him from office. They can deal with the manchild, but if he starts lashing out at everything, they will go with Pence. And I very much doubt Pence will accept the current neo-Fascists that have surrounded Trump.

That said? I want the Republicans to overreach. I want them to repeal the EPA, eliminate the minimum wage, to slash-and-burn all of the protections in place. I want them to go so far that no minority is ever going to vote for them again. That they will come out in droves to push the Republicans back in two years.

And then we can see new legislation put in place. Maybe something done with a little more care. Something that is more efficient. Starting clean.

Republicans are going to break the machine. I would much rather start fresh with a brand new EPA and a brand new Department of Education and a new Medicare/Medicaid, than try to build around the wreckage of a barely-functioning structure of regulation that Republicans left in place but otherwise shattered.

More, I am willing to bet that if Republicans do eliminate national parks and force old people to buy their own insurance and fuck things up as badly as I expect them to do... that the Republican Party is going to never regain power.

First we need to get Trump out. And that means pushing him. Demonstrations. Keeping him from going on vacations. Being in his face constantly and shouting that he is despised.

Rob H.

Jeff B. said...

Donzelion,

The first lesson to learn is that you cannot control their behavior. Every time you erroneously think you are manipulating them, you will discover just how minimal your influence ever was - and be disposed of

I tend to agree with you, but what to make of Bannon's influence? He, the dark Machiavellian Rasputin-behind-the-throne liberal boogeyman? He does seem to be exerting quite a bit of influence now (witness the inauguration address and the Holocaust pronouncement). He might not be quite at risk if he isn't just pushing his own ideas, but merely pushing buttons that are already there in the Donald's makeup?

And his children- if Narcissistic Personality Disorder is really a thing in this president, they would be as at risk as any other, but they seem to be well-ensconced and stably seated beside the seat of power. Melania's distance, and apparent removal from the White House, could be evidence that this could happen.

His son-in-law could be a test, perhaps- Jared Kushner's brother was photographed at the Women's March in DC, so that could be interpreted as a sign of disloyalty vs. Kushner...

(And yes, Bannon is every bit the white nationalist abomination as he seems to be. I just cannot see him as hyperintelligent and hypercompetent at manipulating everyone and every event as many in the liberal circles seem to fear. This is a man, and a White House, of incompetence of epic proportions.)

Jeff B. said...

Rob H.,

That said? I want the Republicans to overreach. I want them to repeal the EPA, eliminate the minimum wage, to slash-and-burn all of the protections in place. I want them to go so far that no minority is ever going to vote for them again. That they will come out in droves to push the Republicans back in two years.

I would say amen to all of this, but confronted with the stark reality of gerrymandering, the ubiquity of Republicans in the midlands, and the incompetence of Democrats in the same areas, and the right-wing propaganda machine, I can't see it happening. If every single one of these catastrophes happened next week, I don't see anything affecting the midterms, although, perhaps, the Dems might pull out victory in four years. These structural issues make any collapse less likely.

matthew said...

Flattery is only an option when all other types of rebellion have failed. It is a strategic move and should be only used as such when dealing with a tyrant.

Regarding gun control - the memo has not gotten out to some Democrats yet, but gun control is dead, dead, dead, at least for a full generation. Why? Because of all the liberals and minorities rushing out to buy guns to save themselves from the new Reich. I've always thought the "we need guns to topple a tyrannic government" meme was a fatuous masturbatory argument, but here we are with a government that is not representing liberal values. And what is happening? Even liberals that don't like guns are considering the need for them. Even as a safety blanket. "At least I'll take a few Nazis with me when they come for me."

I was worried about my company having too much reliance on gun sales in our portfolio - I figured that once the threat of gun regulation was off the table, our gun hoarders that make up 95% of sales would cool down the buying spree. Instead, we are still seeing gun sales increase as new customers (liberals and minorities) buy themselves a little bit of push-back. And as the Nazis get ready for the Krystalnacht.

I do appreciate the irony that I will have a non-zero chance at meeting the business end of one of my guns, or missiles, or tanks, or bombs dropped from one of the planes I helped build.

LarryHart said...

@Zepp Jamieson,

The version I remember is that Canute knew he couldn't control the tides, but he commanded them to stop to make a point to those sycophants. "See, nothing happened. What did you expect?"

The moral is almost the opposite of the one you describe. He's jumping on the bandwagon to demonstrate that the wheels have fallen off.

I doubt that's the case with Trump, though.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

More, I am willing to bet that if Republicans do eliminate national parks and force old people to buy their own insurance and fuck things up as badly as I expect them to do... that the Republican Party is going to never regain power.


Ok, but at that point, why would we care? That's almost the textbook definition of a Pyrrhic victory.

And that's not even taking into account the short attention span of the American electorate. They should have "never regained power" after 2006, but here we are.

LarryHart said...

Jeff B:

(And yes, Bannon is every bit the white nationalist abomination as he seems to be. I just cannot see him as hyperintelligent and hypercompetent at manipulating everyone and every event as many in the liberal circles seem to fear. This is a man, and a White House, of incompetence of epic proportions.)


I don't fear Bannon as hypercompetent, but the fact is that he has the president's ear, and the congressional Republicans are fine with him as long as Trump signs their laws. So they're free to exercise their incompetence on the rest of us.

Bannon will push for white supremacist policies the way other Republicans push Supply Side policies. Eventually, they will be disasters, but they'll cause a lot of damage before they lose their power base.

Duncan Cairncross said...

What is happening in Russia?
Is it a coincidence that just after the Trump team get access to the US information three CIA assets in Russia are arrested?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry Hart wrote: "The moral is almost the opposite of the one you describe."

Actually, I described both. Just for the record.

Katy Williams said...

Chaos and violence and hatred are EXACTLY what the "Muslim Ban" were engineered to create. It was not a mistake, it is a glowing success so far as Bannon and Putin are concerned. T-Rump is just a crazy person who wants to be admired every second of the day. But Bannon is right next to him, feeding his parched ego with monstrous lies; how can some Dem politician uttering idiotic praise affect the man, except to shore up his conceit that he's behaving brilliantly?

LarryHart said...

@Zepp Jamieson,

Ok, I read this as somehow different from my version:


he staged the beach show in order to have just cause (by the standards of the day) to get rid of irksome flatterers and syncophants.


By "get rid of", I was thinking "execute", as if he had set the situation up an an excuse to purge his government. If you meant "get rid of" as "get them to stop doing that", then yes, that's the same as the one I heard.

Kalon said...

I'm simply sad that the alliteration (short-straw strategy) wasn't seen early enough.

LarryHart said...

@Katy Williams,

There was a moment right after the Republican convention when it seemed Trump was more angry at the Republicans who hadn't supported him than he was at Democrats. I wonder if there was a missed opportunity there for Democratic flatterers to convince him to get back at those guys by protecting Medicare, or by appointing (say) Barack Obama to the Supreme Court.

But of course, no one expected him to actually win. Not even His Illegitimacy himself.

LarryHart said...

Kalon:

I'm simply sad that the alliteration (short-straw strategy) wasn't seen early enough.


I dunno. I can't even say that one time fast.

:)

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Katy: the purpose of *every* action since noon on the 20th has been pleasing the base. Sowing chaos on topics dear to Blue hearts is merely a tool to do so, since the Red media (of which Bannon is also a baron of!) can be counted upon to reliably portray *any* protest as sedition by a counterrevolutionary minority.

Forget fifty state capitals. I am increasingly of the opinion that the Democrats need a plan, as they had during civil rights, to deploy personnel (most of them doing Hillary-style "listening tours") to every single *county seat* in America. Most of which are in Red counties where they never actually see a public action by honest-to-God liberals from an honest-to-God blue state; and they certainly don't see them acting calm and respectful.

(Obviously a lot of training in nonviolence and calm, rational discourse would be needed. But the Civil Rights Movement did that, too. If it was done in the 1960s it can be done again.)

Meanwhile, look at the graph here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/02/01/the-supreme-court-under-roberts-is-tilting-to-the-left-would-neil-gorsuch-change-that/"

This is how you can tell that the Red Team act like neo-Confederates. They have had a Supreme Court tilted in their favor for most of the last eighty years. The grand majority of the time, even.

But that's not enough for them. Their credo of "never judicial activism" demands that they have PERMANENT control of the Supreme Court. Even a truly independent court that rules in both liberal and conservative directions is unacceptable. Either rule our way, or face our wrath; that's the Confederate rule. As it was in the 1840's and 50's. (Meanwhile liberals are happy to get any victories they can, and mostly play defense on the few they have.)

Carl M. said...

David: the 1950s were an era of limited foreign competition and extremely restrictive immigration policies. This created a captive market for union made goods.

There is a word for domestic corporations which pay good union wages and compete against China: bankrupt.

Europe keeps more of their good union jobs at home via good old fashioned protectionism. Look up VAT. (If I worked for a think tank, I'd dig deep to see how much the European VATs make their medical expenses look relatively small. Medicine, college, and legal services are disproportionately expensive in this country because the stuff at Walmart is so cheap, because we finance our central government via income and payroll taxes.)

---

As for Donald Trump's energy policy, it's pretty much Jimmy Carter's energy policy! Jimmy Carter was all about exploiting oil shale so we could be independent of Arab oil.

As for Trump's corruption: look up Jim Trafficant.

------

I repeat for the hard of hearing: I did not vote for Trump. I am nose-tweaking here because Trump is closer to what you have been demanding from the Republicans than you want to admit.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

Their credo of "never judicial activism" demands that they have PERMANENT control of the Supreme Court.


Which is laughable, since the Republican justices make activist rulings which make "Roe vs Wade" look like strict textualism. Citizens United, "money is speech"? The first clause of the Second Amendment doesn't count? And just before the Rapture of Scalia, they were about to somehow find that "Whole number of persons" meant something like "number of likely-Republican voters".

Just because they refer to these judges as "constitutionalist" doesn't make it so.

LarryHart said...

Carl M:

I repeat for the hard of hearing: I did not vote for Trump. I am nose-tweaking here because Trump is closer to what you have been demanding from the Republicans than you want to admit.


Except he's not. He might have been at various times in the past, but the "real" Trump is a nebulous concept, and Trump in office is reigning as a corporatist and a social conservative.

BTW, Mr. "Only 10% as bad as Hillary" seems to be ramping us up toward war with Iran. As Iran is an ally of Russia, how is this better than what Hillary would have done to us?

LarryHart said...

I could cry when I think what the Democratic congress could have accomplished during Obama's first term if they had "suspended the rules" every time Republicans behaved in an obstructionist manner.

"But when you're the minority, you won't want them to be able to do that," we were constantly admonished.

How's that working out for us?

@Alfred Differ, are you willing to accept that the Senate is now illegitimate? And that much of the cabinet are fruits of the poisonous tree?

donzelion said...

Jeff B: "what to make of Bannon's influence [on Trump]?"

Bannon is a disposable asset. He is not pushing Trump's buttons. The target is the benefactors behind Bannon: Mercer, possibly Adelson, and a dozen or so others in the fold. Murdoch? Who can say. Calling Bannon an anti-Semitic bigot is intended to dampen his value to the other billionaires who might back him - discourage the Adelsons and Murdochs of the fold from embracing him as "their" tool (and preempt 'his people' from hitching their ships to 'their' vessels).

"...Bannon is every bit the white nationalist abomination as he seems to be."

Bannon is a hired mouthpiece. The folks behind him are the threat. Look at the billionaires (and their millionaire middle-men). The gambit is to issue so much smoke and mirrors that nobody notices tiny little permits, transfers, and other 'small' facts that make some billionaires richer (and others disappear).

"I just cannot see him as hyperintelligent and hypercompetent"
Narcissists don't have to be intelligent or competent: they need to be good at finding ways to blame others. Crafty, not skilled. A token intellect suffices to make half-plausible claims that others are to blame. The fact one is not manipulable does not render them 'smart' - it only means they do not value anything objective or outside themselves. Social norms hold no leverage over them.

Law is the sole knowledge profession tasked with mitigating the harms of narcissists. The reason for the ill-regard of the field tends to be (a) lawyers are mercenaries, more likely to serve the narcissists than to oppose them, (b) some people actually like the show put on by charming monsters and do not want it to stop, and most of all, (c) many people who confront them actually become what they once opposed. But be that as it may, there is no other field of knowledge so inundated with the requirement to deal with 'bad men' and their manifold ploys.

That said, the best strategy for addressing them is hardly novel:
(1) cultivate/develop alternate sources of power (arise, ye rams, for the wolf is come!)
(2) show no weakness, lest you invite attack
(3) snipe at targets of opportunity when they present themselves (but only after tending to (1) and (2))

Neither judo nor sumo is an appropriate metaphor for how to deal with an adversary who scoffs at the rules. The best way to engage such a person? Never at all. Next best? With a large crowd of your own people behind you (lest he subvert the crowd with his own). Next best? Run/avoid. Flatter if you must to extricate yourself from a very bad situation - but any senator who deigns to do so will be weakened, and any opponent who submits once will find it even harder to resist in 6 months time.

donzelion said...

Carl M: "the 1950s were an era of limited foreign competition and extremely restrictive immigration policies."

Agree with the first part, the second is problematic. Until the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, US immigration policies applied strict national quotas, favoring immigrants fleeing communist governments (e.g., Ayn Rand). Total numbers of immigrants plummeted from the 1930s - 1945, what with a fairly major Depression and global war - and extremely restrictive plans persisted to bar Soviet agents. Americans in the 1930s rejected 'European refugees' (aka 'Jews,' largely) by about the same numbers that they reject Muslims today.

American businesses in the 1950s tended to refrain from extensive 'subcontracting' arrangements exploiting 'illegal immigrants,' except in agriculture and domestic staff. Why bother? Plenty of minorities to screw, and unions would scream about it. As unions died, those arrangements flourished like weeds.

"As for Donald Trump's energy policy, it's pretty much Jimmy Carter's energy policy!"

You've read maybe one line of comparison, and said "it's all pretty much the same." Sloppy.

Carter's policy started with a tax on mileage for inefficient autos - has Trump raised such a plan? A wellhead tax? A price ceiling mechanisms? Strict environmental controls (from a new head of EPA who is most famous for suing and fighting that entity)? Curbs on strip mining (which Trump promises to remove)? Compulsory load sharing mechanics for utilities? Requirements for installing insulation in homes?

The analogy that "Trump is like Carter" is as plausible as saying "Trump is like Hitler" - because they both had noses and belly buttons. It's just silly. Yes, Carter contemplated fracking (but made policies to substitute coal/nuclear/solar for oil if/when necessary). No, Carter never conceived of it as a viable alternative (because it wasn't - using 1970s tech...).

donzelion said...

Duncan: "Is it a coincidence that just after the Trump team get access to the US information three CIA assets in Russia are arrested?"

I'm most offended by the arrest of Ruslan Stoyanov of Kaspersky Lab's investigation unit last December, an item that stayed off most news networks.

Who can say if Team Trump ratted out the other individuals? More likely they were exposed when the CIA presented its report on Trump (and/or the Steele report). Since most of Team Trump is using the private email servers that they demonized Clinton for using, we'll probably never know.

Robert said...

Larry, a Pyrrhic victory would be saving the remnants of the EPA, keeping a minimum wage of some sort, and some regulations in place that are a hodgepodge and unworkable, while the Republican Party remains a part of consequence.

What I am referring to is the same as when a big fire passes through, burning all the structures to the ground. You rebuild in that situation. Well, what we have right now is a situation where non-Republicans cannot win. There is no way we will retain our liberties. We will see Roe v. Wade overturned. We will see the EPA abolished. We will see the FDA castrated. We will see banking regulations overturned. And we will see the economy come crashing down.

The more damage Republicans cause, the more they cut their own throats. Then we rebuild without their threat as those conservative and moderate voters who are salvageable turn away in disgust and refuse to have anything to do with Republicans again.

Of course, the Democrats are going to fall apart in this situation. They are already showing significant signs of stress. So with hope we'll have Republicans become a minority party that will never again achieve power, the Democrats which will remain as they are now - a center-right party. And then we'll see a new party arise.

Mind you, Libertarians are going to be left out in the cold. Because the only way Libertarian works is if everyone starts on an even footing. Taking an existing government with existing power structures and eliminating the government just results in the rich gaining all the resources and making it impossible to compete. In short, Randian Libertarianism is impossible. And the Randians are already calling for purity tests to cast out the "left Libertarians" as an abomination. After deregulation causes a recession and Republican Austerity measures cause a Depression, Libertarianism will be considered a lost cause for all but the "faithful" who much like the Austerity and Trickle-Down people feel "one more time" will prove it.

Rob H. +

LarryHart said...

Robert H:

What I am referring to is the same as when a big fire passes through, burning all the structures to the ground. You rebuild in that situation.


I get that. I'm concerned that it's more like when a big fire passes through buring you to a cinder. Someone else eventually rebuilds, but not you.


Well, what we have right now is a situation where non-Republicans cannot win. There is no way we will retain our liberties. We will see Roe v. Wade overturned. We will see the EPA abolished. We will see the FDA castrated. We will see banking regulations overturned. And we will see the economy come crashing down.

The more damage Republicans cause, the more they cut their own throats.


If there's anything left to rebuild with.

Note, I'm on your side here, in the same way that I cheer for Katniss in "The Hunger Games", but that doesn't mean I want to actually live in Panem.


Then we rebuild without their threat as those conservative and moderate voters who are salvageable turn away in disgust and refuse to have anything to do with Republicans again.


Our best hope is for the Rapture to occur soon and take all of the Christianist Republicans up. That would give us your scenario without the damage first. I know that's a ridiculous hope, but fantasy solutions is what I'm reduced to now.


Phineas (lifting head off pillow) : "So it was all a dream!"

Isabella: "Phineas! No matter how many times you do that, it's not going to work."

LarryHart said...

Robert (again) :

And we will see the economy come crashing down.

The more damage Republicans cause, the more they cut their own throats. Then we rebuild without their threat as those conservative and moderate voters who are salvageable turn away in disgust and refuse to have anything to do with Republicans again.


Does history work that way, though? Who did Germany turn to in the 1930s after their economy was wrecked? Cold, hungry, scared populations don't turn to Democratic Socialism, but to a strong authoritarian leader who promises to make them great again.*


* In fairly short order, I recently re-read the 1982 graphic novel "V for Vendetta" which had the expression "Make Britain great again," as well as a 1963(?) novel "Ship of Fools" which takes place on a German ship in late 1931 and employs the phrase "Make Germany great again." This us not exactly a new slogan.

donzelion said...

RobH: "The more damage Republicans cause, the more they cut their own throats."

That is a possibility. However, quite often, the more damage a lousy government does, the STRONGER its dominant faction becomes. Those who would have opposed injurious governance get weaker, coopted, coerced, or exiled. Those who are causing the problem get promoted ('flattered' - as it were - with the hope they'll stop making things worse).

In all the history of democracy, the dominant theme has been that the experiment failed once a faction grew too strong to be controlled through social/political compromise, requiring alternative measures to rein in their excesses (usually the faction that gained such strength had feudal links to longstanding, well-organized insiders). Therein is the process of collapse. In Trump, we walk that path, as so many once-great nations have before us.

Jonathan Sills said...

For what it's worth, Daesh may be celebrating their "propaganda victory" from Donnie's executive memoranda too soon.

Reports from overseas are that people in Middle Eastern nations are learning of the edict - and then seeing the massive demonstrations that have been raised in protest of it. They are heartened by the fact that large segments of our country disagree with those hateful and exclusionary policies; this may be amplified by the fact that many of those viewing are used to regimes under which such demonstrations would be violently quelled, so they may be taking the marchers as being even braver than they really are.

So while Daesh wants to bill this as "The West is at war with Islam!", the man in the street is seeing it as "The United States repudiates Trump, and embraces us!"

LarryHart said...

This from Robert Harris's novel "Imperium" about the life of Cicero in ancient Rome. The action is taking place around 70 BC, but the narrator is speaking 50 or so years later, remembering events of his youth. Here, he describes the ritual of voting for consul:


This was the old republic in action, the men all voting in their allotted centuries, just as they had in ancient times, when as soldiers, they elected their commander. Now that the ritual has become meaningless, it is hard to convey how moving a spectacle it was, even for a slave such as I, who didn't have the franchise. It embodied something marvelous--some impulse of the human spirit that had sparked into life half a millennium before among that indomitable race who dwelled amid the hard rocks and soft marshes of the Seven Hills: some impulse toward the light of dignity and freedom, and away from the darkness of brute subservience. This is what we have lost. Not that it was a pure, Aristotelean democracy, by any means. ... Still, it was freedom, as it had been practiced for hundreds of years, and no man on the Field of Mars that day would have dreamed that he might live to see it taken away.


Are we there yet?

Zepp Jamieson said...

Jonathan Sills wrote "For what it's worth, Daesh may be celebrating their "propaganda victory" from Donnie's executive memoranda too soon."

Canada is getting a lot of favourable attention in the middle east both for their reaction to the terror attack on that Mosque in QC the other day and the offer to give at least temporary shelter to refugees turned away by the Americans.

Republicans can't seem to figure out that the people they are hurting are the biggest enemies ISIS has. They've let mindless bigotry and xenophobia to overrule any vestige of common sense.

David Brin said...

Zepp, as LH put it, the accounts I hear have Canute joking and commanding the tide in order to put his flatterers down. Evidence: history shows he was a well above average king. I doubt he executed any sycophants.

Donzel: The thriller author in me wonders how Trump could appoint Pence without “having something on him.”

Robert, humans protecting goats from wolves… led to deforestation and spreading deserts long before technology.

Matthew there is no reason not to try many tactics, on many fronts. Find just five dems with gumption to do the flattery… and always over non-political stuff like how handsome he is! The whole world can know what they are doing. He will still respond.

Seriously, gun sales have risen? Liberals? Wow.

“There was a moment right after the Republican convention when it seemed Trump was more angry at the Republicans who hadn't supported him than he was at Democrats.”

One of many of my “name one exception” challenges for goppers is “name one GOP leader between Reagan And Ryan – other than Newt – who was even mentioned at the RNC? Why should we buy from a company that is so ashamed of its past products?

Catfish: “I am increasingly of the opinion that the Democrats need a plan, as they had during civil rights, to deploy personnel (most of them doing Hillary-style "listening tours") to every single *county seat* in America.”

That is the genesis of my “colonels plan.” The dems need to requite every sane retired colonel they can find and unleash him into every safe GOP district – including state assembly – in the nation.

David Brin said...


Carl M, good point about 1950s lack of competition. Or at least is it plausible enough to be debated and not an outrageous sophomoricism. Glad to have you back, after several months away. Did you know that a moron has been using your monicker here, lately, drooling some of the most insipid nonsense imaginable? Anyway, glad to have you back.

Sure, you can concoct all sorts of rationalizations to suggest that the prodigious productivity of the 40s, 50s, and 60s had NOTHING to do with ALL the attributes of contemporary American society, at the time. How inconvenient that all that happened with the rich heavily taxed, with strong unions, with major public spending and adoration of FDR! And productivity and profits and all other metrics of growth declined directly as all of those traits declined.

Yes, I can see a desperate need to sever the blatantly strong correlation!

Only… but sorry, foreign competition doesn’t work. Yes, we started our “decline” (actually a slowing of a skyrocketing rise) when Japan started cleaning our clock in manufacturing. That was ALSO when unions declined and huge tax cuts were given to the rich. SO which correlation held?

Simple, US automakers broke their bad habits and came roaring back. But supply side remained the controlling religion of economics. And the general growth rates kept declining in lockstep with every move away from the rooseveltean compact. So it wasn’t a lack of foreign competition that explains the 1950s. Wrong-o. But a much better try than that other bull.

David Brin said...

Oops! I guess it must have been you, all along, because you also said this towering pile of doggie poo.

“As for Donald Trump's energy policy, it's pretty much Jimmy Carter's energy policy! Jimmy Carter was all about exploiting oil shale so we could be independent of Arab oil.”

Stop pretending you are Carl Milsted! Carl would never say such outrageous horse shit. Only lobotomized confeds use “fox logic” like that. Because two things have a glancing overlap in their venn diagrams, they are identical!

Carter, Clinton and Obama fought for us to be energy independent. Over the long term that means sustainables. Zero carbon like solar that are taking off, after being thwarted by republican obstacles, thanks to help pushed by democrats.

Sure, short term energy independence means getting more domestic oil and especially cleaner than coal natural gas. And getting us free of needing the Saudis is a DP policy, thwarted by the GOP! Only a very silly person sees these short and long term policies as inconsistent.

Seriously? You are able to look yourself in the mirror and say aloud that the GOP’s Saudi-loving, solar destroying, R&D wrecking, Coal defending, Tillerson-appointing, Russia-fellating energy policy is “democrat?”

Sir you have gone off the deep end.

Oh, Carl? Jimmy Carter had FEWER scandals per year than the average administration. But counting counts of actual malfeasance of office? Clinton and Obama were the first and second in US history to have none. Zero. Nada, Zip. The cleanest regimes in not just American but all of human history. And the fact that you are squirming right now speaks not to logic, but something awful inside.

Anonymous said...

Here's something for you idiots to ponder:

Dark Ages America by John Micheal Greer:

Part I: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaPnu9LciuI&t=324s

Part II: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXTwHCEBLyc&t=324s

Anonymous said...

Just Google: Dark Ages America / John Micheal Greer / Youtube

Links are not going anywhere...

locumranch said...


You progressives don't have a clue:

You're incapable of negotiating with your opposition because you are utterly incapable of giving anything up. Which of your sacred cows are you willing to sacrifice in order to make peace with the conservatives? Gay marriage? Federalism? Roe vs Wade? Economic equality? Racial preferences? Clean air & water? Food stamps?

Absolutely not! That would be anti-progress! And the conservatives have learned this lesson well, and they won't negotiate away their advantages to you anymore. Instead, they'll push you into easily anticipated moral corners & use your outrage against you. That's the Trump formula in a nutcase. He wants you to offend you so you will over-react,

All it will take is an executive order or signing statement that requires state, county & local public agencies to enforce existing federal law, the more unpopular the law the better, so that the inevitable display of moral outrage & public disobedience requires the invocation of the Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2).

Yes, California. Please declare yourself a Sanctuary State. You have been warned.


Best

Slim Moldie said...

Ah ha. "He wants you to offend so you will over-react," says clever brer rabbit.
And so came The Tea Party’s inevitable afterbirth. Democrats United. Silent But Deadly. Maybe they could stagger around and drool like cornered possums, too...eh

Anyway, I’ve come up with some spin-off gambits, games and sure fire disasters.

“Adopt an Elephant.” In this gambit. Each democratic member of the house is randomly assigned the constituents of one of their republican colleagues. Each foster parent gives these constituents the same love and attention as they would their own. Mail. Phone calls. Commercials. Advocacy. And lots of face time visits to their adopted territory. Just act like you're the real congressman and be a better parent to your foster children than their real “parents.” What’s nice about this is that it isn’t necessarily a joke. The power of empathy forces compromises.

In a variation of the short straw. “Sell the Trump.” And sell it hard with come to Jesus enthusiasm. Chosen Democrats shamelessly promote all business and enterprises associated with the boss and his buddies. Wear the clothes—even the ironic off brand stuff made in China. Stay in his hotels, especially oversees. Hold up bottles of success by Trump. Spray it on reporters. Buy it and ship samples to unemployed workers. Spend tax payer’s dollars at his golf courses and casinos. Fly in sentient jets, on tax payer money. Buy failed trump products on ebay with tax payer money and mail it to your constituents. Do product placement.

This is basically throwing in the towel. We’ll call it “The House Sessions” a live musical that will “Make C-Span 2 great again” using behind the scenes NY and Hollywood talent (A-list writers and composers.) Bring the boom box to work. Rehearse your lines and conduct the next session of Congress in song. Opera. Flash mob. Have fun. Cool and funny always beats mean and boring except this wouldn't...alas.

The nuclear option. Play “I am the Trump.” Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, right? In this game, all Democratic members of the house take on the language, mannerisms, and habits of the big chief and awards are won for who stays in character the longest...


Maybe I haven't read enough, but I haven't seen any mention of Moses Seixas and Geroge Washington in regard to the immigration executive order. Abraham had more than one son. Seems like an easy connection.



Alfred Differ said...

@Duncan: It is more likely the Russian intelligence folks tracked the leaks telling us what they knew of Trump's blackmail material backward to our assets through theirs. They did make some arrests among their own people who might have known and talked. Apply power of thumbscrew and they might have reached our people.

No one is going to confirm any of this, of course, but there was some evidence of a high level disappearing act over there.

Alfred Differ said...

@locumranch:You have been warned.

Odd for a conservative to want to set aside Federalism.

You have been warned too.

LarryHart said...

Ultimate Irony Man:

You progressives don't have a clue:

You're incapable of negotiating with your opposition because you are utterly incapable of giving anything up.
...
And the conservatives have learned this lesson well, and they won't negotiate away their advantages to you anymore.


So it's bad that progressives won't negotiate (even though they do, all the time) , but good when conservatives won't (which they haven't done since Reagan)?


Which of your sacred cows are you willing to sacrifice in order to make peace with the conservatives? ... Clean air & water?...


Why the fuck are rural red-staters so against clean air and water? That'sone of the things we should "give up" in order to negotiate with you?

Because it's such an ideological thing to want not to be poisoned?

That's the Trump formula in a nutcase. He wants you to offend you so you will over-react

You give Cheetolini too much credit for having a formula.

All it will take is an executive order or signing statement that requires state, county & local public agencies to enforce existing federal law, the more unpopular the law the better, so that the inevitable display of moral outrage & public disobedience requires the invocation of the Supremacy Clause (Article VI, Clause 2).


I take it you're a fan of what went down at Ruby Ridge and Waco, rather than a frothing-at-the-mouth opponent of the federal government using force against white terrorists. Oh wait, no I don't.


Yes, California. Please declare yourself a Sanctuary State. You have been warned.


"There are some parts of New York (and Chicago, and California) that I'd advise you not to try to invade."

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

Odd for a conservative to want to set aside Federalism.


Locumranch doesn't even know what he's arguing for any more. If his rural red-staters have any more victories (perhaps the Supreme Court), his head may explode.

LarryHart said...

As today is Groundhog Day, would it be too much to ask whether the president could re-live the day over and over again until he learns to be a good person?

Marino said...

Which of your sacred cows are you willing to sacrifice in order to make peace with the conservatives? Gay marriage? Federalism? Roe vs Wade? Economic equality? Racial preferences? Clean air & water? Food stamps?

the horror of this list is that behind those "sacred cows" there are real people, to be thrown under the bus to appease fascists .

Let's translate: abolish gay marriage and make sodomy a crime, again? What next, hanging by crane, Teheran-style?

Roe vs Wade: women with punctured uterus dying in backstreet coathanger abortions?

Economic equality? So basically all the rethoric about the common man by P45 is a scam? Nothing new...

Food stamps? so let's people starve. While agricultural surplus being destroyed, like in Grapes of Wrath.

Fascists are like the Danes in the line about Danegeld, you give them a finger and they'll rip you a whole limb.

raito said...

LarryHart,

"Why the fuck are rural red-staters so against clean air and water?"

Because they hold to a false dichotomy. There is either a good economy or there is clean air and water. For whatever reason, they believe that clean air and water standards make them poorer. And since this has a grain of truth, it's hard to get rid of. Most resource extraction seems to take place in rural areas. Clean standards make it more expensive to extract resources. Therefore, fewer resources will be extracted, and they'll be unemployed. Stop the fracking and sand mines? You're takin' muh JOB!!! False, but that's the way the reasoning goes.

For some reason, no one ever brings up the new industries that spring into existence helping companies adhere to those new standards. For example, it's not like the money used to buy C02 scrubbers just disappears. Some other company made those scrubbers. Seems to me like the velocity of money might increase in that situation, and that does seem to affect the economy positively.

From the last article (and yes, we've move onward, I'm a little behind) someone made the comment that if the US went to anarchy, all the rich people would have all the resources anyway, so there's little point in anarchy.

I'm not sure what to think of that. On the one hand, even contorted reasoning leading to the idea of the rule of law is good, right? And it might even be that it's the teachings of a modern society that lets him believe that the rich will stay rich, which might be OK? And that same society has led him to have absolutely no clue what anarchy actually is could be considered an accomplishment (though very much along the lines of 'let them eat cake').

Except that anarchy doesn't behave that way. The rich wouldn't have resources because in an anarchy, money is worthless, and imaginary money doubly so. The rich in the US mostly has imaginary money, by which I mean it's just numbers in a journal. It's not cash, mostly. And it's certainly not goods.

Dr. Brin,

I think I know the colonel for you in Idaho. Though he's not a colonel as he specifically asked to not be promoted before he mustered out (silly by my thinking, as his retirement pay would have been more, which he could use). A couple of masters' degrees, including one in health physics (though oriented more towards disaster response than applications for health care). And an old-style conservative. Show him it's good for the country, and he'd run.

LarryHart said...

raito:

Because they hold to a false dichotomy. There is either a good economy or there is clean air and water. For whatever reason, they believe that clean air and water standards make them poorer. And since this has a grain of truth, it's hard to get rid of. Most resource extraction seems to take place in rural areas. Clean standards make it more expensive to extract resources. Therefore, fewer resources will be extracted, and they'll be unemployed. Stop the fracking and sand mines? You're takin' muh JOB!!! False, but that's the way the reasoning goes.


I've reached the point where I don't care about their environment. I want to make sure mine is livable. But I can't keep fighting against people who want their own selves poisoned, and as Khan put it, "I no longer care to try." There's a line from a movie that Dave Sim liked to quote: "There's no cure for willful stupidity."

Doubtless, locumranch will use this an an example of how heartless and cruel I am, because I won't "compromise" by giving into demands of a terrorist holding a gun to his own head going, "Give me everything I demand or I shoot myself!"

LarryHart said...

raito:

Except that anarchy doesn't behave that way. The rich wouldn't have resources because in an anarchy, money is worthless, and imaginary money doubly so. The rich in the US mostly has imaginary money, by which I mean it's just numbers in a journal. It's not cash, mostly. And it's certainly not goods.


The more I think about this, the more it seems to me that what the wealthy possess which provides them power after a revolution is access to strengthened bunkers with food, water, and firearms for lasting out an extended period of lawlessness.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Dr. Brin wrote: "...the accounts I hear have Canute joking and commanding the tide in order to put his flatterers down. Evidence: history shows he was a well above average king. I doubt he executed any sycophants."

Given that there are no contemporary accounts, and many historians view the story as being legend rather than factual, it's sort of moot. You're right though; contemporary accounts depict him as wise and totally unimpressed with the power of kings, so even if the tide story did happen, it seems unlikely his response would be so vicious.

Right. Let's fire Trump and make Canute president!

Zepp Jamieson said...

"You're incapable of negotiating with your opposition because you are utterly incapable of giving anything up."
Everything on your list except federalism is a basic human right. We have no right to "give any of them up" to fascists. They are non-negotiable.

Catfish N. Cod said...

@LarryHart: "Just because they refer to these judges as "constitutionalist" doesn't make it so."

'Constitutionalist', 'textualist', and 'strict constructionist' are not the same thing, and none of them actually mean 'conservative' or 'loyal to Republican ideals'. Failure to understand this is why the judges they nominate to the Court keep "betraying" them.... along with the fact that life tenure means the Justices really can do whatever they want.

The only way to get completely reliable votes on the Court is to have ideological dullards like Thomas who never ask questions and write their opinions robotically... but if you nominate someone like that, the liberals and moderates will run rings around you. Remember, Justice Roberts found in favor of the individual mandate, and Kennedy is the swing vote; and they were Republican nominees.

Right now I would rather have someone on the Court who will vote down executive overreach than someone who will save my ideal social policies. I need a Constitution worse than any individual policy victory.

@donzelion: That's what the businessmen thought every time they brought an Axis type to power. You're assuming the money will stay in control; but the revolutionaries have money too.

@Jonathan Stills: I have seen these reports and they give me much hope. The world knows that America is not of one mind on this question.

@Dr. Brin: On energy --

* In the short term, coal is American-sourced and does contribute to energy independence -- I hate to say it, but it's true. But coal is being done in, not by regulations or foreign competition, but DOMESTIC competition from natural gas. I'm outraged about permitting pollution to save jobs for five extra years, but it would take explicit and massive subsidies for coal to win -- and natural gas would scream about the jobs being cut in the Dakotas to save dirtier legacy industries in Appalachia and Montana. It's a no-win even by Trumpian rules.

* Likewise it would take not only ending subsidies, but explicitly onerous regulations to stop solar at this point -- and again, the not-so-mythical 'green jobs' can then be invoked. Solar would be slowed if federal subsidies disappeared, but blue state subsidies will not disappear. Heck, the argument could be made for opening more rare-earth mines to guarantee in-country production, since the Chinese blatantly manipulated the market to corner the world market on rare earths.

* Texas loves wind power. Seriously. Push that.

* And finally, the Trumpians can be encouraged on better pebble-bed nuclear reactors; "thumbing their nose at environmentalists" while producing medium-term low-carbon power. Oil/gas/nuke/wind/solar is still a better mix than coal/oil/gas/nuke, and I will take any move away from coal and foreign oil -- and always would have.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Evidence: history shows he was a well above average king. I doubt he executed any sycophants."

...

Right. Let's fire Trump and make Canute president!


Would that His Illegitimacy turns on his sycophants like that!

I've been fantasizing about what the world would look like if the Rapture really did take up all of the Republicans who think they are the good ones. But my wife suggested that if Pence, Cruz, Clarence Thomas, etc were taken up, Trump would probably be Left Behind. That would be even funnier.

Catfish N. Cod said...

On the "colonels plan": It's good but it's not enough. There just aren't enough available colonels. The 314 plan is good too but also not enough: the scientists are not in enough red areas. And finally, the point is not just to have candidates.

It's to have exposure: to get to people who literally never run into a liberal in a non-confrontational manner, who have red-bubble epistemic closure, and find the ones who can believe that we don't wear horns and we aren't agents of shadowy foreign powers and we don't actually want to cheat at elections.

I'm thinking of places like Natrona County, Wyoming, or Cullman County, Alabama, or Leslie County, Kentucky -- places where the few Democrats are silenced in public discourse by being a superminority, where the vast majority of the population only sees Democratic actions through the lens of one side's media and thinks of Democrats virtually as foreigners -- foreigners who ignore them at best and think of them as mud-people at worst. The idea is much like the "meet-a-Muslim" booths you sometimes see on college campuses.

The people manning these efforts are walking into the lions' den, and need to be prepped accordingly. There will be people who will attack them, verbally and possibly physically, for being who they are. But these are also places that respect courage, tenacity, resilience, endurance, steadfastness -- and are convinced that Democrats lack those virtues.

This is a project for long-term impact. It will not help win the 2018 election, or 2020 either. But it can bring closer the day when we are not living in fear of losing our freedoms when we lose an election.

matthew said...

The threat to invade Mexico from last night shows there will be no 2020 election. Or at least, no voting by Mexican-Americans in it.

Remember the first rule of dealing with authoritarians - believe their words.

If Trump invades Mexico, then the 11 million illegal immigrants in the US can be rounded up using military resources which will treat them as unlawful enemy combatants. Mexican-Americans would then be treated similarly to Japanese-Americans in WWII. Elections can be suspended because the nation is at war. Or, voter disenfranchisement can be used to get rid of the Hispanic vote. If Trump feels a judge of Mexican decent is not suited to rule on his case, imagine what he will say when we are at war with Mexico.

Carl M. said...

Jimmy Carter and shale oil:
http://www.csmonitor.com/1980/0701/070114.html

$25 billion dollars wasn't chump change back then.

I did follow the issue closely back in high school, as it was the national high school debate topic.

Alternative Fact = real fact that doesn't fit your narrative.

LarryHart said...

Catfish N. Cod:

It will not help win the 2018 election, or 2020 either. But it can bring closer the day when we are not living in fear of losing our freedoms when we lose an election.


Unfortunately, I'm afraid of losing our freedoms because we lost this one election, and the Republicans are not throwing away [their] shot!

LarryHart said...

@Robert and @matthew,

I have to give you props for correctly calling Cheetolini's win, but some of your projections now seem too paranoid for even me to credit, and I'm pretty paranoid myself.

I guess there's no point speculating, as we'll know who is correct pretty soon.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Larry Hart wrote: "Would that His Illegitimacy turns on his sycophants like that!"

I fully expect to see at least one "Night of the Long Knives" in the first six months of his administration, assuming the syncophants don't destroy him first.
He may be a dictator, but he's also functionally insane. Not a good combination.

Zepp Jamieson said...

"Jimmy Carter and shale oil"
I note, with wry amusement, that Republicans killed the project in 1985, effectively squandering that $25 billion.

matthew said...

Regarding paranoia - I sure hope so. I'd LOVE to be wrong.

In predicting what the American Right will do, I have a consistent pattern of not thinking the threat is as bad as it really is. Analyzing 6 years of predictions showed me that I did not take the threat seriously enough. I'm self-correcting for the bias toward optimism and my personal preference against fascism.

My best guess pegs the rise of Trump as about 30% We Shall Overcome, 30% bloody Civil War, 40% permanent fascism / theocracy. Note that I do not expect Trump, personally, to be the inheritor of the chaos he is creating. I think he is a catalyst that will be dissolved in the wash of the history he is making. It is his political heirs that may be granted the panopticon and the ability to stop any further resistance.



Carl M. said...

Zepp, you are reinforcing my point: Trump did not run as a Reagan style Republican. There is an old-school Democrat side to Trump that ya'll could tap into if you could control your knee jerks.

(Then again, maybe I should enjoy your apoplexy and hope Trump goes full-on Koch... While some of what Trump is doing horrifies me, some of his appointments are most pleasing.)

raito said...

LarryHart,

I don't think the rich could subsidize enough bunkers to be able to take over once they emerge. I might be wrong, though. I certainly don't think they could if they emerge after society has re-established itself.

And as far as the rapture goes...

Yes, please, if the ones to go are the ones who >think< they're good.

If the ones go who actually >are< good, it would be pretty tragic for those of us left behind.

Except we'd get an awfully good laugh at those left behind.

matthew said...

Good article from Foreign Policy magazine on citizen resistance as the last bulwark against a strongman. I am very heartened by the resistance we are seeing from the bureaucracy but as the article points out, bureaucratic resistance can only go so far. What is needed is huge numbers of people visibly resisting.

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/01/18/we-are-the-last-defense-against-trump-institutions/

David Brin said...

Feh CarlM… you aren’t even paying attention anymore, so desperately in denial. I said that one small Venn Diagram overlap does not make two things the same. Shale oil a democrat initiative? Damn straight! Do you even know what you are saying? Shales oil and gas have been vital to reaching the point where we no longer have to keep carriers in the Persian Gulf and can ignore the Saudi meddlers and Koch shills who were sabotaging sustainables.

I am not responsible for your inability to parse the obvious

David Brin said...

‪LarryHart‬ said... As today is Groundhog Day, would it be too much to ask whether the president could re-live the day over and over again until he learns to be a good person?

At this point I prefer the movie “Dave”

Raito, we need to start in on the colonels (or majors) yesterday.

Catfish the brilliant thing about “colonels” is that there like ARE enough of them. And when a colonel knocks on a redder door they cannot slam it in his face. They will hear him out, with respect. Moreover, they can run in wide variety. From crewcut-liberal to Eisenhower conservative to even Reagan conservative! So long as they are willing to sign a very general statement of not-crazy principles, they can be Big Tent Democrats and run in districts that are currently GOP-safe. Indeed, such districts should be represented by conservative-minded people! Though ones who are sane.

Hence, the basic principles should be:

Running as a democrat, I accept and avow that:

- Facts matter. We should find ways to refute lies, from all sides.
- Science is real. Public policy should pay attention to – even if it doesn’t always follow – the advice of folks who know the facts.
- Our children deserve a healthy planet to live in. We can invest in both a clean environment and energy independence.
- No child should have his or her future harshly limited by race, gender or class.
- Schools should be held accountable to high standards of performance, and have the resources to give us an educated generation.
- It’s okay for there to be “winners” in the economy, but not by cheating.
- “Supply Side” experiments in huge tax breaks for the rich have universally failed.
- Government must be open and accountable. Elections must be clear, verifiable and in fair districts.
- Our military must be strong and capable and used responsibly, in carefully considered and adult ways.

(Suggestions welcome for this list.)

Running as a democrat, I feel free to differ with other democrats, and to express my own position on:

- Gun rights. While I do feel there are reasonable ways to reduce gun access by irresponsible people, I fully support gun ownership by American citizens.
- Abortion: people of conscience can disagree over when life begins. But we can all strive to find ways to help women avoid ever facing that decision.
- Nuclear power: many “tech-liberals” are parting company with the standard position against this clean and helpful power source.
- Globalization: we need careful analysis how to keep the benefits of world trade, while ensuring that good jobs stay in America.

If some of these positions make me “conservative” in the older sense of Eisenhower and Reagan, so be it. I am still running as a democrat. Because, to paraphrase president Reagan… “I did not leave the Republican Party… the Republican Party left me.

David Brin said...

Locum’s dizzy assertions keep (fascinating) demonstrating the human capability to believe diametric opposites to fact.

Um , can liberals sacrifice? They have met Reagan and the Bushes and everyone else halfway time and again. Have you ever heard of the Chicago School and Supply Side “economics”? It has failed every single prediction. Yet dems went along with reversing every single trait of the social contract the Greatest Generation established under their beloved FDR. Taxes on the rich? Gone. Unions? Gone. Regulation to keep banks too small to fail? Gone. Meticulous ant-monopoly rules to keep capitalist competition flat and fair? Gone.

ONCE compromise was met with compromise, when Clinton and Gingrich negotiated welfare reform. Huge changes. But are your neurons able to notice? Gone. Your side is the one with the never-negotiate Hastert Rule, promulgated by the GOP’s pervert-leader-felon role model.

Dem Congresses ALWAYS negotiate with GOP presidents and GOP Congresses always act like spoiled brats toward DP presidents. Except the miracle year of 1995.

You proclaim liberals are the intransigent ones. You lie. You lie sir, openly and diametrically and knowingly.

Note… oh, notice… how conservatism is no longer about thriftiness, or “cleanliness is next to godliness,” or “A penny saved” or love they neighbor. They reverse absolutely everything in service of one goal… licking the boots of their feudal overlords.

Gooood doggie.

David Brin said...


Slim Moldie, I like your adopt an elephant judo proposal!

Catfish N. Cod said...

@Dr. Brin: I have been saying the Reagan paraphrase for many years and would LOVE for it to become a meme.

And I would dearly love the "colonels' plan" -- but it would first take a commitment from the DP leadership, and maybe an explicit treaty. Because what we are proposing to do, from a political negotiation perspective, is resurrecting the "Blue Dog" wing of the Party on a new basis. And I think they're game for it, but the colonels will need some reassurance that support will stay when some other wing starts making nasty noises. They're sticking necks out for the good of the country, after all.

And another element of this should be the reverse Bloomberg statement: that they are not failing to be conservative, especially on "God and guns", family policy, etc.... but that they HAVE to avoid the Republican primary process, as it no longer lets them be the kind of conservative the land deserves. Make explicit, even, that they are going to balance out the Democratic Party and remind them of the broad coalition they used to be; that they will tell the DP leadership what red states are like, etc.

In other words, turn all the rhetoric about how blues just don't get the hinterland on its head.

Alfred Differ said...

@David: Whether we have carriers in the Persian Gulf depends a bit on what counts as a carrier. At present, we do have forces over there, but they don't really say whether they are in the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, or off the coast of Yemen.

Stratfor's latest US naval map says the following:

◾The USS Makin Island ARG is underway in a deployment in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR supporting maritime security operations and conducting theater security cooperation efforts.

◾The USS George H.W. Bush CSG is underway in the Atlantic Ocean for a scheduled Middle East deployment.

Carriers have quite a support system of other ships giving us presence in an area and the ability to project force, so I'm not sure one can argue that we aren't over there anymore. What you CAN safely argue is that we aren't over there in a way that shows we are pitched for war. We used to keep two carrier groups over there. One supported ops in Afghanistan and the other dealt with piracy... mostly.

A.F. Rey said...

That's the Trump formula in a nutcase.

Now that's a Freudian slip if I ever saw one. :D

Zepp Jamieson said...

Carl M wrote: "Zepp, you are reinforcing my point: Trump did not run as a Reagan style Republican. "

I thought your point was that Trump was a 1950s-style Democrat, which is absurd on the face of it. I'll agree that Trump isn't a "Reagan-style" Republican; they've largely abandoned the party, driven out by the religious loonies and fascists. Even Reagan would be horrified by Trump.

Robert said...

LarryHart, I've only one prediction right now. My prediction is for Trump to be removed from office within the first 100 days.

We already have the groundwork laid for this. We have his violation of Constitutional provisions, possible violation of his oath of office, his utter disdain for our allies and neighbors including Australia, Mexico, Germany, and in all likelihood Canada, and now getting soldiers killed in risky assaults that even Obama held off on it, and widescale demonstrations against him while he alienates even the people who voted for him.

The Republican Party will get rid of him. They will pull political Judo get get Democrats to pull the switch and the Democrats will gleefully and gladly do this because while they know this is a trap, they also realize that the nation needs to get rid of Trump before it's too late.

(Of course, if the Democrats are smart what they do is after starting up the action to Impeach Trump, as a group walk out of Congress and leave only Republicans there to act on this. All at once Republicans are forced to get half of their number to pull the trigger instead of just a couple dozen. But Democrats aren't smart enough to pull something like that.)

My comments on Republicans eliminating the EPA and the like? Suspicions and things that would be worth happening because as Republican politicians do more and more to rip down the government, the more they will overreach and finally piss off even their own voter base.

In that case, Dr. Brin, some of those colonels could run on the Republican ticket opposing the incumbents. And probably get in.

But the only thing that I am willing to put money down on is impeachment hearings starting within his 100th day of office. Sooner if it looks like he's about to cause a war.

Rob H.

LarryHart said...

Zepp Jamieson:

Trump isn't a "Reagan-style" Republican; they've largely abandoned the party, driven out by the religious loonies and fascists. Even Reagan would be horrified by Trump.


Yet, in order to praise his candidate, Mike Pence had to claim that Trump reminded him of Ronald Reagan. Which is so absurd that it's not so much a compliment to Trump as it is an example of spitting on Reagan. It emphasizes the fact that the phrase "reminds me of Reagan" is empty and meaningless. It just means "I want you Republicans to support him."

Jumper said...

Suggesting the feds can command state governments to enforce federal laws shows a lot of ignorance. Why am I not surprised?
Sandra Day O’Connor wrote for the majority in a 6-3 decision.

"As an initial matter, Congress may not simply “commandee[r] the legislative processes of the States by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program.”

She later expounded on this point.

"While Congress has substantial powers to govern the Nation directly, including in areas of intimate concern to the States, the Constitution has never been understood to confer upon Congress the ability to require the States to govern according to Congress’ instructions."

The feds can beef up the FBI or INS, and federal courts order states to NOT do certain illegal things. They can't compel states to enforce federal laws.

LarryHart said...

Robert:

The Republican Party will get rid of him. They will pull political Judo get get Democrats to pull the switch and the Democrats will gleefully and gladly do this because while they know this is a trap, they also realize that the nation needs to get rid of Trump before it's too late.


I don't think the Democrats are as foolish as you do. And even if they are, impeachment and conviction will take enough Republicans to make it obvious that they're in on it.


But the only thing that I am willing to put money down on is impeachment hearings starting within his 100th day of office. Sooner if it looks like he's about to cause a war.


Don't Republicans and Netenyahu want a war with Iran? I'm not sure why they'd stop him. That also makes me wonder...Iran is a Russian ally, so why would Putin so favor the president who wants to launch a war with Iran over the other party who wants to normalize relations? And what happens to the Trump/Putin bromance when Russia takes Iran's side in the conflict?


Flypusher said...

"(Of course, if the Democrats are smart what they do is after starting up the action to Impeach Trump, as a group walk out of Congress and leave only Republicans there to act on this. All at once Republicans are forced to get half of their number to pull the trigger instead of just a couple dozen. But Democrats aren't smart enough to pull something like that."

Not all of them, but just enough of them not to invoke any quorum rules. I don't know off the top of my head what exact rules the US House has, but legislative functioning has been halted before by a bloc of people walking out. The last notable time it happened was in the TX state Senate back in 2003. The GOP called a special session to do some out of season gerrymandering, and the Dem members fled to an undisclosed location. There were enough Dems that there abscence triggered the rule- you had less than the minimum # needed to legitimately conduct business.

So leave the minimum # of Dems to avoid invoking any quorum rule. That would still force the majority of impeachment votes to come from the GOP.

Jumper said...

Now would be a good time for Judge Merrick Garland to walk in to the Supreme Court and ask them if he should be seated. If they said "no" how would it be worse than now?

Jumper said...

A quick vote on granting certiorari. An argument that time is of the essence. A vote.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: What Putin wants is to have the US embroiled in a conflict of his choosing. A war in Iran might serve his purposes (mountain strongholds are expensive and difficult to crack), but it would be far more useful to have us conflicted with ourselves. That helps undermine foreign confidence in us. If we get our act together and Trump calms down, a foreign war of his choosing will be the next strategic act.

This is where GWB played the Russian hand by getting us into Iraq. While we devoted resources to that war, Russia was relatively free to act elsewhere. Our attention was occupied.

David Brin said...

Ah, Alfred. Amphibious assault ships are "almost" aircraft carriers and pack a lot of punch. Makin Island was supposedly involved in the FUBAR Yemen raid, which puts the ship in the Gulf of Aden, not the Persian Gulf. In addition to a SEAL, we lost an Osprey... plus too many civilian casualties.

The question: Did DT say "I want a raid of some kind ASAP!" Right now they are blaming poor Obama Admin planning. But was it launched prematurely?



TCB said...

Couple thoughts:

I mentioned to someone else that the difference between Christian GOP extremists and Islamic State extremists is that the Christian extremists expect the big final doomsday battle to happen at Armageddon (Megiddo) in northern Israel, while the ISIS crowd look for it to happen ad Dabiq, about 25 miles from Aleppo.

These locations are not much more than 300 miles apart, and a modern battle (with jet fighters, for instance) could happen in both places at once. EVERYBODY'S HAPPY!

Different thought: how's this for a general strike that doesn't involve leaving the house?

Blue State Tax Strike!

How it works: if none of these wankers are willing to remove the loony-in-chief, if they're charging protesters with felonies for blocking a road, if the militias are rampaging, if things look ugly... how bout millions of Blue State Dems (Red State ones too!) just stop withholding federal income taxes. Blue states keep red states fed! The IRS can't come after ALL of you, since the conservatives keep slashing IRS enforcement to the bare bone... they love to talk about Starving the Beast... so starve that beast!

Don't start paying again until the government isn't owned by right-wingers, crooks, corporations and churches.

TCB said...

BTW I wonder if they tried to land that Osprey too fast. Seems that it, like helicopters in general, can belly flop if descent rate is too fast and rotors lose lift (I'm not an expert on how this happens, exactly).

Tony Fisk said...

The Reuter's report on that raid suggests it was rushed, with minimal intelligence gathering beforehand. The camp had been identified as a target, but Obama decided to hold off and let the incoming administration decide what to do.

"U.S. military officials told Reuters that Trump approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations."

On the other side:

"A White House official said the operation was thoroughly vetted by the previous administration and that the previous defense secretary had signed off on it in January."

Who to believe...? You tell me.

Acton Naq said...

Have a good day
Mir Muhammad Alikhan

LarryHart said...

From today's www.electoral-vote.com :


Donald Trump apparently feels a very big debt to the evangelicals, since not only does he want to allow churches to engage in partisan politics (see above), but he also would like to permit individual Americans and organizations to opt out of federal regulations and policies that they object to on the basis of their religion.


Well, then, if (say) California decided that their religion prohibited them from enforcing federal immigration rules, they're free to do so.

I realize that His Illegitimacy means that one's right-wing religious beliefs are protected, not left-wing ones, but I'll bet the law or executive order doesn't get worded that way.

LarryHart said...

TCB:

how bout millions of Blue State Dems (Red State ones too!) just stop withholding federal income taxes


The problem is that most individuals have their taxes withheld up front, and have to file for a refund to get part of that money back. Failing to file would give the IRS more money, not less.

It's possible that the states themselves could change the rules concerning withholding for employers within their borders--I'm not quite sure how that works.

LarryHart said...

Tony fisk:

The Reuter's report on that raid suggests it was rushed, with minimal intelligence gathering beforehand.


Heh. The news last night used that "with minimal intelligence" phrase last night, and I had to smile. Doesn't Cheetolini do everything with minimal intelligence (in both senses of that word)?

Darrell E said...

LarryHart said...

"The problem is that most individuals have their taxes withheld up front, and have to file for a refund to get part of that money back. Failing to file would give the IRS more money, not less."

I'm not so sure about that. I don't know the laws in any detail but it is simplicity itself to change your withholding status to something that leaves you with virtually nothing withheld for Federal Income Tax. Once you file taxes and end up with a large tax bill the IRS will then penalize you in some way if you do it again and perhaps make you account for your taxes quarterly. But all of that takes time. You can easily get away with not having federal income tax withheld for at least a year, and I suspect a good deal longer. If you are willing to take the risk of punishment.

Marino said...

Larry Hart
Well, then, if (say) California decided that their religion prohibited them from enforcing federal immigration rules, they're free to do so.

even better: many rightwingers say that "Global Warmingism" is a religion, so fighting against climate change is a religious issue.

Jumper said...

Darrell, I believe that it became illegal to claim more exemptions than one has. I suspect it's not enforced except in the case of refusal to pay when it's time.

Darrell E said...

Regarding the raid, I'd sure like to hear from the military, but of course that isn't likely. Just because a target has been identified and a plan designed sometime in the past doesn't mean you are ready to execute right now. It takes time, from when you receive a go, to update your planning to accommodate current circumstances. Did the operators screw up or was it people higher up the chain of command?

Military personnel typically are aware of the riskiness of their profession and willing to take those risks. But they typically also desire to be valued for that. I wonder how they feel about risking their lives for Trump. Hopefully there won't be many opportunities to find out. But I worry about Trump having a cool new toy to play with.

Zepp Jamieson said...

Darrel E:
They changed that back in the Reagan years so workers can't do that. I tried declaring eight dependents which zeroed out my payroll deductions, and stuffed the money in a savings account which paid 16% interest (early 80s, inflation) and got shut down within weeks.

Darrell E said...

I guess it comes down to a matter of enforcement. I recently went 2 or 3 years having virtually nothing withheld and paying the tax bill at the end of the year. The IRS did at that point notify me that I would have to pay a penalty if I did that again. Also, I'm sure if you work for a sizable company they will know the laws better and be more likely to take care to abide by them whereas a smaller company may be somewhat ignorant and less careful.

Darrell E said...

By the way Zepp, I want to know where in the hell you found a savings account which made 16%!! Please share. Typical these days is closer to .16%.

Zepp Jamieson said...

As mentioned, this was in the early 80s, when staglation was a big problem. If I knew of a bank that paid 16% APR now, I sure as hell wouldn't make the news public!

LarryHart said...

Marino:

even better: many rightwingers say that "Global Warmingism" is a religion, so fighting against climate change is a religious issue


They claim atheism is a religion too. All sorts of possibilities. Maybe the Democratic Party itself should declare itself a religion.

donzelion said...

Jumper: "Darrell, I believe that it became illegal to claim more exemptions than one has. I suspect it's not enforced except in the case of refusal to pay when it's time."

Under Bush Jr., enforcement actions targeted groups that were distrusted by the President (e.g., NYC was sued by the DoJ for failure to verify tax payments on $120/day for elections operators - that is, payments of less than $240/year - but which were paid out to a large number of city retirees - the cost for the enforcement action exceeded the amount recovered, but it gave a new excuse to crack down on the city and it's volunteers).

Under Obama, enforcement shifted back toward "biggest bang for the buck" enforcement (e.g., people earning over $250k/year) - this had been the standard IRS practice until Bush Jr (even under Reagan and Bush Sr.). Republicans cried foul, since that 'unfairly' targeted their people (many of whom had set up nonprofits and other lucrative tax evasion schemes).

What Trump does remains to be seen. I expect a reversion to Bush Jr. style "persecute your enemies" approaches to tax collection, coupled with tax holidays and amnesties for large corporations and the wealthiest people (it's a great way to claim that they helped 'bring that cash back to the U.S.').

Darrell E said...

Zepp Jamieson,

Oops. I missed that parenthetical somehow. Senility? For a moment there I could see the dollar signs. Oh well, story of my life.

donzelion said...

TCB: re "Blue State Tax Strike!"

I would go one step further: pay all the taxes into 'trust' accounts that will go to the States until Federal government releases funds for cities in those states. It's still completely illegal (and a legit state wouldn't touch those funds) - but seeing as how Red States are far more likely to pay less than they receive in benefits, it's a great vehicle for fighting "greedy/lazy" Red States dependent on welfare handouts (even as they vilify the government).

That, and a "bond deferral" by Blue State operated pension funds (buy state infrastructure bonds instead) would prompt a pretty profound shift in financing arrangements.

That said, IRS enforcement budgets would grow to prosecute Blue States if there's money to be made. Mississippi, South Carolina, and Kansas love getting their 'free checks' from the government they claim to hate (paid for from the generosity of Californians/New Yorkers).

donzelion said...

Darrell E: You'd have done even better with long-term government bonds in the 80s (bank account interest rates reset and never gain principal). But to buy them at the time, you'd need to have faith in America (and be willing to earn less than you lost in inflation - for a few years).

The proper mechanism to demonstrate loss of faith is to reallocate bond holdings away from the Fed. Much harder to do (esp. for large pension funds, which have few alternative asset classes to park their money in).

Jason said...

Actually because of methane leakage natural gas plants may produce more greenhouse gas affects than coal plants. If we can't quickly get some seriously major solar energy contributions then this sucker may be going down indeed. The shale revolution is a blood transfusion for our critical economic system that relies on the flow of energy to sustain it. Trump would be wise to invest heavily in renewable sources but must also keep the blood flowing. I think the oil giants realize the oil game is almost up so having Rex at the helm may not be a bad thing. Let hope so.

donzelion said...

LarryHart: "Don't Republicans and Netenyahu want a war with Iran?"
Republicans want a "cold" war with Iran - the looming threat of a crazy Iranian menace becomes the pretext for a number of 'necessary' investments (e.g., navy bases in Indiana, air force allots to Kansas/Oklahoma, etc.).

Republican financiers benefit from spikes in oil prices that they can trade against - it's a great way to capture billions of dollars without ever owning any long-term assets. That's Mercer & Friends - hedge fund owners.

Republican oil owners (e.g., the owners who lease their land to frackers etc.) want a "hot war." That's Koch & Friends.

Trump wants a war. There's almost no foreign policy adventure more likely than war to ensure his reelection.

Russia isn't Iran's ally, and wouldn't really mind a war all that much. If the price of oil jumps past $100/barrel, they can start paying down some of the crippling debts they're incurring (as with Saudi and other governments). Meanwhile, so long as they offer diplomatic cover to Iran (block a UN Sec Council resolution, etc.), they would acquire better positioning with the next regime there (whether it's US imposed or Iranian created).

Putin and Trump are cunning enough to know how to play these cards for their own benefit. The only cost is a few thousand dead U.S. troops (and in the drone age, maybe even that much could be mitigated - and China and Russia will want to watch how U.S. drones operate to identify weaknesses in the system for their own purposes).

donzelion said...

Dr. Brin: "The thriller author in me wonders how Trump could appoint Pence without “having something on him.”

The sad lawyer in me thinks Trump has nothing on Pence, and appointed him because he thought "Trump Pence" sounded funny. Two syllables. Strong! Fits in twitter.

Trump doesn't need anything on Pence per se. Pence, by contrast, needs a wealthy core of Republican land owners (who are net debtors facing financial disaster...unless a foreign war intervenes to salvage their assets and enable shifting them out of land that loses money if oil prices stay low for a few more years). Pence represents the 'old money' (e.g., folks who made that money in the last 15 years): they're vulnerable. The churches they finance are vulnerable. The jobs they subsidize are vulnerable.

Now if Trump actually HAS something 'on Pence' - so much the better. But all he 'needs' is financial leverage and they will play along with him (e.g., a 'cold' war isn't quite as good as a 'hot war' - but it's always better than wimpy peace talk).

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

Trump wants a war. There's almost no foreign policy adventure more likely than war to ensure his reelection.


I'm not sure that's a winning strategy, as well as it worked for W. The 2003 vote for the Iraq War (which seemed like such a political no-brainer at the time) really came back to bite Hillary this time around. Woodrow Wilson won re-election with the campaign slogan "He kept us out of war." Do you really think "He got is into war" will be a winner in 2020, especially the disaster that Republicans are likely to make of one?

LarryHart said...

donzelion:

Now if Trump actually HAS something 'on Pence' -


"Thanks for loading me up with that image."

Alfred Differ said...

This here libertarian advises against any kind of tax strike or rebellion. Even though I can see the point, I’ve seen too many try this trick or similar ones and they consistently fail. Think how strongly some of you respond to my partial belief that taxation is analogous to theft and you’ll see why. When enforcement happens, you won’t have any friends keeping you out of jail and the courts are stunningly unsympathetic. You’ll be offering what sounds like excuses and you’ll get slapped hard.

What you CAN reasonably do is adjust your dependents until you owe nothing on tax day. Whether that number matches your actual dependents doesn’t matter much. There is a reasonable argument for not giving them a free loan and another for not making them wait all year. Remember that self-employed people have to consider filing every quarter. The rest of us who file yearly do so because our employers are effectively filing for us with every paycheck.

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: a winner in 2020

Depends on when he gets us into a war. If our blood is still boiling, it is a political winner.

They claim atheism is a religion too.

We get covered enough to benefit from Amendment #1. Where groups are specifically allowed to opt-out of things for religious beliefs, they usually have to state those beliefs and name the group. Atheists have a hard time meeting this standard, so coverage for the amendment is about as far as it goes.

...which is just fine for most of us. Many of us know more about a number of faiths than their believers do and still aren't drawn to believe. About the only thing I imagine I would dodge would placing my hand on a Bible to give an Oath. I'd be lying to those listening if I made it appear my oath was any more or less binding with a Bible.

Alfred Differ said...

Even well-planned raids go awry, so without one of the active duty people involved speaking up, I’m not sure we will know.

I’m not inclined to blame Trump for the FUBAR yet. There are so, so, so many other things to blame him for and that keeps that particular desire of mine satiated.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look into it, though. I suspect our active duty people might be in need of some defense provided by The People.

Duncan Cairncross said...

From a Furriners POV - you need Dr Brin's Judo
If you are going to permit "churches" to be political then OK - BUT their tax free status goes away
It may even be worth while putting up with it for a while knowing that the next administration is going to go for their tax free status with an axe

Alfred Differ said...

If anyone is in need of an ear worm to swamp the news of the last few days, XKCD offers the opportunity.

https://xkcd.com/1794/

You have to look at the mouse-over text, though. 8)

Alfred Differ said...

I used to agree that we should strip churches of the tax-free status when they started to be something other than a church. I don't anymore because I no longer know where to draw the line. When is a church behaving LIKE a church, hmm?

When taxes are used as a form of punishment, they demonstrate the coercion being applied. The people who argue that taxes are a membership fee for civilization squirm when that fee is extracted by force, so I rather enjoy rubbing their noses in every example. Besides... most of the people who belong to a church DO pay taxes. Taxing their churches begins to look like double taxation to me and I find that even more annoying.

Jason said...

Would the Catholic Church be considered a foreign corporation? How much of a churches revenue would be categorized as charity?

David S said...

Alfred, if you don't like taxing churches because it looks like double taxation, do you feel the same way about taxing corporations?

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

I used to agree that we should strip churches of the tax-free status when they started to be something other than a church. I don't anymore because I no longer know where to draw the line. When is a church behaving LIKE a church, hmm?


They they should be taxed, just like any other corporation. The burden of proof should be on proving they deserve special status, not on proving that they don't.

When taxes are used as a form of punishment, they demonstrate the coercion being applied.


Removing tax-free status isn't meant as punishment. It's meant as keeping them from getting an unfair advantage over other organizations. Why should churches get to campaign for candidates tax-free when the Democratic Party or the ACLU have to pay taxes?

Say the Catholic Church opened their own hamburger stands. McDonalds would probably complain (rightly so) that they are now at an unfair advantage in competing with the tax-free church while providing an identical service. They'd probably argue that the church's retail outfits are not religious organizations in nature, and should be taxed just like any other hamburger stands. That's not to punish the church. It's to make the game fair.

Alfred Differ said...

@David S:

My opinion on taxation in general is decidedly libertarian, though I don't go to the extremes some of my friends do. For example, I'm not a propertarian.

Empires are costly, but when they are fed by funds extracted through coercion, they tend to crush minority opinion groups. I don't know a good way to fund Pax Americana as a whole, but I do see some value in it, so I accept that I am at a loss as to how to do it. Republics are less costly and libertarians tend to advocate an abdication of our global role to get the smaller government they prefer. Meh. I find such an approach hard to swallow. I LIKE Pax Americana.

Personally, I'd rather tax corporations than people, but that will pit the large against the small. I suspect the world isn't ready for what I'd prefer, so I restrict myself to quibbling about incremental stuff.

LarryHart said...

Alfred Differ:

If anyone is in need of an ear worm to swamp the news of the last few days, XKCD offers the opportunity.

https://xkcd.com/1794/

You have to look at the mouse-over text, though. 8)


That reminds me, we've often talked here about when the actual date catches up to dates mentioned in sci-fi futures. Wasn't there a Billy Joel song that had the navy destroying New York City in 2017? I'm remembering lines like "Before the mafia took over Mexico."

Alfred Differ said...

@LarryHart: Removing tax-free status isn't meant as punishment.

What you intend and how it is perceived are different things.

I can see the point to taxing them, but only if the argument is about avoiding arbitrary rule. I WON'T accept an argument for churches being taxed if they stray from being churches. All or Nothing. That's what it has to be.

Giving churches tax exempt status was something the Founding Fathers had to do, but it is a 'compromise' that will outlive its usefulness some day. If you all can muster the courage to strip them ALL, I will support you, but I'll oppose a piece-meal approach.

LarryHart said...

Hey, does anyone besides me remember this line of dialogue below? I'm going from memory, but I think it's pretty close to verbatim.

I internalized it long before I had reproduced, and now I think that truer words were never spoken:


There comes a time in every father's life, when he looks at his little girl's eyes and realizes...he must change the world for her.


I'm guessing plenty of people here saw the tv show in question, but I don't know if it made the same impression on anyone else.

LarryHart said...

@Alfred,

I see what you're getting at, but not sure I agree.

Churches are tax-exempt under a sort of built in assumption that they are places of worship and charitable organizations. If individual churches also run retail outlets or function as political action committees, my inclination would be to define which functions are tax-free and which are not. I would not immediately jump to "you can tax that church, but only if you tax all the others."

Me, personally, I'd be happy to tax all churches, but I think that would be unpopular enough not to fight that particular battle. But I don't think that means they should be able to branch out into the private sector with a tax-free advantage.


Jason said...

Maybe we are at the cusp of the robotic/a.i. revolution where there will be no jobs for most of a country's citizens, and all the means of production, and thus profits, are in the hands of a few mega corps. Feudalism and slavery were displaced by industrialization and thus the French and American revolutions and the US civil war. Goodbye monarchies, hello democracies. Maybe Trump is a symptom of this and major wars are inevitable. Goodbye democracy, hello ... what? Tax system will change for sure. Universal income coming. Maybe its time to let go of right vs left dichotomy.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Larry/Alfred
If a LOT of churches become very obvious and obnoxious in political activity then there is an opportunity to tax all churches

Tim H. said...

I would expect some of the more politicized churches to react badly and increase the levels of unpleasantry.

David Brin said...

onward

onward

Finn de Siecle said...

That reminds me, we've often talked here about when the actual date catches up to dates mentioned in sci-fi futures. Wasn't there a Billy Joel song that had the navy destroying New York City in 2017? I'm remembering lines like "Before the mafia took over Mexico."

"Miami 2017 (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway)" But the date in that song was the "present" time and place from which the "narrator" in the song is recalling the aftermath of New York City's fictional financial collapse in the '70s (essentially, NYC is broken up and sold off as assets a la a bankrupt company). Joel has said it was inspired by the City's mid-'70s financial crisis in which it sought federal aid but was denied, leading to the famous NY Daily News headline "Ford to New York: Drop Dead."

Carl M. said...

You keep using that term "Confederates."

I'm seeing and hearing calls for secession, assassination, and military coup from Democrats these days.

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