Propaganda 104 Supplemental: The Sound of Silence

by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

“Silence is argument carried out by other means.” – Che Guevara

“Hello darkness, my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
Because a vision softly creeping,
Left its seeds while I was sleeping,
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence.”
– “The Sound of Silence”, by Simon & Garfunkel, lyrics by Paul Simon

“Darkness isn’t the opposite of light, it is simply its absence.” – Terry Pratchett

“In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood.” – Henry David Thoreau

Just as darkness is the absence of light, silence is an absence. We’ve considered the word and the image as propaganda up to this point, so let us pause to consider their antithesis as a form of propaganda. The phrase “[t]he only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” is often attributed to 18th Century Irish born English statesman and philosopher Edmund Burke, although what he actually wrote in Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents was that “when bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.” Regardless of the apocryphal attribution, the quote goes right to the heart of the issue of silence being a form of propaganda. Like most tactics of propaganda, silence has multiple forms and uses.  Let us examine some of these variations on a theme.

What is “silence”? According to Webster’s it is:

silence \ˈsī-lən(t)s\, n.,

1: forbearance from speech or noise : muteness —often used interjectionally

2: absence of sound or noise : stillness

These are the common meanings of silence that automatically leap to mind when one reads the word, but more to the point in discussing propaganda, we need to consider the full definition of the word and even enhance it a little bit.  Consider the third meaning of the word “silence” . . .

3: absence of mention: a : oblivion, obscurity b : secrecy

With this fuller definition, it becomes clear that silence is more than the absence of sound or stillness.  For discussion of propaganda, let us use an expanded specialized definition to have silence mean not just the absence of sound, but rather the absence of information. All propaganda is aimed at shaping the flow and content of information. With this expanded definition, we can see the broader scope of silence as a propaganda tactic. As you will see, this can lead to an interesting contradiction.

The first use of silence as a tactic is what you’d expect and the traditional definition of silence: the “No Comment” maneuver. You see this all the time coming from Hollywood and the entertainment industry as well as in the political arena. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t and this is dependent upon a variety of factors.  The public’s perception of the speaker, the relative severity and the public or private nature of the topic not being discussed, any associated value loading that can go with a scandal, how amenable to obscuration or obviation is the topic in general and are there any related topics currently drawing the public’s attention that may either attract or detract attention are some of the mitigating factors that influence how well playing the “No Comment” card will work out. Let us consider a couple of examples from both the entertainment and political realms and why or why not they succeeded.

Movie stars are well known (or not) for their scandals (real or imagined) popping up from time to time in the tabloid press. Very often, attempts to mitigate the damage of an embarrassing disclosure do more harm than good. An example of this is the current Kristen Stewart/Robert Pattinson/Rupert Sanders story. After photos of Stewart and Sanders (a married man with children) surfaced, naturally her relationship with her Twilight co-star Pattinson became somewhat complicated. In an effort to mitigate the damage, Stewart made a very public apology to Pattinson. This effort backfired as she caught criticism for everything ranging from the public nature of what most would consider a private message to the content for not being apologetic enough concerning the impact on Sander’s marriage and children to the impact the negative press would have on the forthcoming installment of the Twilight series. This in turn led to speculation that the studio might be reconsidering her for future roles as well as much distress among the Twilight fans. To complete this study in contrasts, consider the recent development in this story where Stewart (possibly after taking advice from her former co-star and actress/director well acquainted with the silence strategy, Jodie Foster) is now refusing to answer questions about her and Pattinson’s relationship.

In the political arena, silence is playing a larger part than usual in the Presidential campaign. The Romney campaign is trying silence as a tactic on his business dealings, his tax returns and the more extremist views of his choice in Vice Presidential running mate Paul Ryan. So far this application of the tactic has generally backfired miserably. For his business dealings, silence makes him look like a liar and a fraud considering it is his past business dealings that make up the bulk of his alleged experience and skill set to lead a nation.  With his taxes, silence simply makes him look like he has something to hide in addition to the arrogance he has displayed on the issue showing him to be massively out of touch with the American people and an elitist with remarks about “you people” and “trust me”. With silence about the points of view of his running mate, Paul Ryan? It is early in the use of that strategy to see how well it will work, but early indications are it is going to only serve to highlight Ryan’s extremist views as the media and the public start asking questions. Another spectacular backfire as Ryan’s stance come under greater scrutiny including his budget proposals (even attacked by Conservative King of Trickle Down Economics – David Stockman), the privatization of Social Security, replacing Medicare with a voucher system (also a form of privatization), cutting funding and participation in Medicaid, his dubious and manifestly politically expedient disavowal of his nearly life long love for Ayn Rand and all things Randian, his hypocritical support for economic stimulus when Bush was for it but attacks on it when it is Obama for economic stimulus, and reports of general dissatisfaction among voters of all persuasions about his selection.

There is a second variation on silence as a tactic and that limited silence or partial disclosure.  A fine example of this is the career of Michael J. Fox in its post-Parkinson’s phase. Since his diagnosis, he was careful with the media but remained largely silent. After announcing his condition, he carefully controlled his media presence until the scope and effect of his condition and the effectiveness of his treatment could be assessed.  What started with silence became partial disclosure of his progress, using his celebrity to draw attention to the condition and support for research, and eventually a slow and partial reintroduction into promoting active acting projects. This illustrates that in the process of information management, what you don’t say and when you don’t say it can be as important to image management as what you do say and when you say it, and that balance in tactics can be crucial.

The third use of silence is a close variant to the “no comment” form of silence and that is the tactic of externally enforced silence. Oddly enough, this tactic can arise from tactical missteps as well as situational elements and there is a perfect example of this going on in the current Presidential campaign.  Consider Mitt Romney’s camp and their inability to mention one of his (few) great successes in political leadership without having it blow up in their face and that is the so-called Romneycare he shepherded to life while Governor of Massachusetts. Their silence on this issue is externally enforced because of the similarities to Obama’s ACA plan. Romney cannot attack Obama for actions incredibly similar to actions he took as governor and then tout his actions as governor without tactically shooting himself in the foot with his target audience.

The fourth use of silence is where silence as the absence of information comes to the forefront as well as the previously mentioned interesting contradiction.  Sometimes silence can be noisy. Another way to create silence in the sense of an absence of information are the strategies of obfuscation and distraction (which can employ many tactics from white noise to straw men to simple misdirection). In this regard, when evaluating information it is just as critical to ask “what does this speaker not want me to think about or discuss” as it is to look at the explicit content of what they are saying.

Consider in a broader media sense the contrast between the television news coverage of World War II, Vietnam, the first Gulf War, and Iraq/Afghanistan. The media kept silent about a great many details of World War II and in those days of analog media dominance, it was possible to maintain such silence. To the credit of those in government who controlled the flow of information during World War II, the bulk of what was kept silent was validly done so in the name of operational security and once Allied troops were out of danger fuller disclosure was usually forthcoming.  Contrast this with the media coverage of Vietnam and the then relatively new medium of television. The collapse of public support at the end of the Vietnam war was due in part to the inability of the government to exert control over television. Once the images of what was really going on over there and the cost it was taking on our citizen draft military with daily visions of caskets being broadcast into a majority of American homes, it was only a matter of time before any public support for that war evaporated.

Fast forward to the first Gulf War. The war mongers in government had learned their lesson from Vietnam and the Draft was not a concern with a volunteer force – removing some of the direct impact into American homes from a war abroad. True, many civilians were against conscription, but getting rid of it came with a hidden cost to civic duty and a hidden opportunity for the unscrupulous to make war easier because of less public challenge. Add to this a high level of embedded journalists, a whole new bag of technology that made showing night actions possible and a theater conducive to night actions and relatively low casualties and you get the first war sold to the American public as essentially a video game. This war as an exercise in modern media control can only be termed a success from the point of view of policy hawks. Silence was kept where needed to keep public support flowing and the flow of information out was carefully controlled. The effectiveness of pro-war propaganda was back to WWII levels.

Now comes the invasion of Iraq. America was reeling in the aftermath of 9/11, but anyone who focuses on intelligence in looking at foreign policy issues knew that Iraq didn’t have a damn thing to do with those heinous terrorist attacks. The general public was in a state of fear and the Bush Administration seizing upon that opportunity forced through Congress the purposefully vague Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) as well as the arguably prime facie unconstitutional Patriot Act. Using their media savvy sharpened by the Gulf War, little if any media mention was made of the pure irrationality of attacking Iraq was mentioned during the lead up to that action and once again the television was ablaze with video game warfare images. However, that silence about the cost and irrationality of this invasion had to deal with a change in technology analogous to what transpired in Vietnam with television: the Internet. Although it had technically been around for a while, the World Wide Web hadn’t reached maturity until roughly the same time the war in Iraq started. Due to the very nature of the medium, government found it difficult to control the message and enforce silence, but also due to the massively increased number of media outlets, the impact of negative reporting of the true costs of invading Iraq were somewhat diluted compared to the impact of television on Vietnam. Combined with the lack of impact created by a conscription military, a situation ensued where dissent against the invasion slowly built though the alternative information channels the World Wide Web provided, but instead of ending the war in 13 years (1962-1975) in Vietnam, the pressure to end the invasion of Iraq took 8 years (2003-2011)  to “officially” end – seemingly an improvement.  But is it?  We still have troop presence there so anyone paying attention knows that it is not over. A lesson learned in Vietnam is the euphemistic language of calling a war something other than what it really is, like “police action”, “liberation”, and “nation building”.

This is not to mention that we are still in Afghanistan, a country well known to military history buffs both professional and amateur to be a place practically impossible to occupy due to both terrain and a fractured culture in part created by that terrain. So here we are, still involved in two wars, one an invasion of questionable legality and unquestionably bad tactics (unless you’re in the oil business) and the other an attempt at occupation against a legitimate target but a target that historically has been shown highly resistant to occupation strategies. Unlike Vietnam though, the propaganda masters in government rapidly adapted to the World Wide Web. If you look only at MSM Web sources for news, you might be minimally aware of some sanitized facts of what is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you only watch television, you might be hard pressed to even realize there are two wars going on at all. In either case, you can hear the media’s politically driven drumbeat starting already for war with Iran.

The propaganda masters have learned their lessons and put them into application. Where they could not directly silence, they sowed confusion. Where they could not sow confusion, they manufactured false support with tactics like hiring propaganda trolls and astroturfing. Where they could not manufacture support, they outright lied. And when their lies where exposed by whistle blowers like Bradley Manning and Wikileaks, they resorted to that old standby of fascists and totalitarian regimes to enforce silence about their misdeeds and malfeasance in representing the best interests of the general citizenry: threats and intimidation.

In being or seeking to become a critical thinker and a responsible citizen in the age of modern media and propaganda techniques, silence as an absence of information is your enemy. It can be overcome by diligent research, practiced evaluation, supporting whistle blowers who bring the public evidence of institutional and personal wrong doings by government, industry and its members and to practice through and proper analysis (in context) of as many sources of information as your mind can handle. But is it enough to overcome the silence of information to make your decisions about such matters? As George Orwell so famously noted, “Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act.” Is it enough to find the truth behind the silence? Or is it your civic duty to speak truth to power?

I think the answer is quite clear if you are following the sage advice of Marcus Aurelius and “seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed.”

What do you think?

________________

Source(s): E!, The Daily Beast, Times Live, Huffington Post (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), Politico, New York Times, League of Women Voters, CNN (1, 2), Slate, Vanity Fair, The Raw Story

~submitted by Gene Howington, Guest Blogger

The Propaganda Series;

Propaganda 105: How to Spot a Liar

Propaganda 104 Supplemental: The Streisand Effect and the Political Question

Propaganda 104: Magica Verba Est Scientia Et Ars Es

Propaganda 103: The Word Changes, The Word Remains The Same

Propaganda 102 Supplemental: Holly Would “Zero Dark Thirty”

Propaganda 102: Holly Would and the Power of Images

Propaganda 101 Supplemental: Child’s Play

Propaganda 101 Supplemental: Build It And They Will Come (Around)

Propaganda 101: What You Need to Know and Why or . . .

Related articles of interest;

Mythology and the New Feudalism by Mike Spindell

How about Some Government Propaganda for the People Paid for by the People Being Propagandized? by Elaine Magliaro

 

537 thoughts on “Propaganda 104 Supplemental: The Sound of Silence

  1. Good points.

    Silence can be powerful.

    Toastmasters will remember that it is a desired technique in public speaking as well (a pause of silence as an interlude within a public speech can work wonders).

    Currently there is a lot of silence in the media concerning some disturbing events in the Arctic (see
    Bill McKibben: The Arctic Ice Crisis and The Arctic Ice Crisis). These point out current, ongoing silences of various sorts.

    One of them is classic silence of the 4 aspects Gene H mentions in this post, plus the partial silence phenomenon.

    This is the one where they underestimate the catastrophe that is approaching.

    They are silent as to the actual damage that will be done, underestimating it grossly, sometimes negligently, and sometimes on purpose.

    That kind of silence does damage too, because people can not prepare for what is coming because of the use of silent propaganda.

  2. raff,

    Thanks! Yeah, I couldn’t believe my good luck when I decided to do an installment on silence as a tactic that Mitt would be so kind as to give me some examples. That’s why I didn’t post this last weekend – I wanted to see how it played out a bit. Little could I guess that Mitt’s camp would pay off in spades on this tactic issue over this last week. Truly an embarrassment of riches. For him anyway. I’m giggling like a school girl. :mrgreen:

  3. it’s appropriate you would start your bias propaganda rant with a quote from a despicable murdering communist.
    Thats called a “tell” in poker, and your called a “useful idiot” by those same despicable murdering communist.

  4. I have noticed silence is used by the more powerful party to a transaction in ways that it cannot be used by the less powerful party to that same transaction. This is a delightful issue for me because in a novel I am writing, the alleged protagonist says NOTHING throughout. Not one word. (Many people are wishing this were my autobiography!)

  5. bop,

    How appropriate you’d start your trolling by trying to create guilt by association to attempt to distract from the content. Thanks for illustrating how you’d like to silence the discussion of propaganda tactics by creating a diversion. That’s exactly the reaction I was looking for when I selected the Che quote. Your (predictable) response in this matter is greatly appreciated as a teaching tool.

    P.S. If it presents a problem for you that the Romney camp’s recent use of tactics fit this particular topic in the discussion of propaganda methodology to a “T”? I suggest you take it up with them. Had the Obama camp been using such good examples of silence as a propaganda tactic, I’d have used them in addition to or instead of.

    Thanks for playing.

  6. Man….. Then again….. Creating drama and then playing victim….. Is an effective way of gaining grounds in getting your ideas across…… The pac’s superpac’s have a way of getting information out, without accounting for who is paying for the message…..

  7. AY,

    Yeah, to a certain degree, but when Oz started telling people to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, what was the result? When your standard reply seems to be “I don’t want to talk about it”, the more you say it, the more people are going to want to talk about what you don’t want to talk about. It’s human nature.

  8. Gene,

    I think they are confusing “there’s No place like home” to “there’s a Blackman in the whitehouse”…..

  9. The Romney campaign doesn’t have to say much because Ann Romney has already informed us Americans that “you people” have been given all you need to know.

    So…”you people” out there, listen for the silence. Evidently, you won’t be hearing anything more about the Romney’s tax returns. Got that?

  10. Gene,

    Bop2112 seems to believe that the author of an argument is more important than its merits. This is a logical fallacy—since you dealt with that in your previous installment and given your comment I have to ask you: why are you using outdated teaching tools? :-P

    I’m not praising this article as a homage to the propaganda technique that it discusses—let’s see Blouise top that! ;-)

  11. Elaine,
    As on of “those” people who want to see the tax returns to make sure he isn’t a felon and where he is hiding in millions and just how did he get a 100 million dollar IRA?!

  12. I have been a news junkie… and political junkie for a while… reading EVERY paper I can find etc…
    However, I have NEVER been much of a blog reader….
    This Blog has changed my mind….

    Not only are the articles VERY well written..

    It is refreshing to see INTELLIGENT debate on these subjects…
    MOST of the people here seem to be well informed….

    I now visit this blog every day….

    Thank you for giving me something I can read everyday, that does
    not raise my blood pressure….

    Cheers…

    JAG

    Just a Gurl

  13. rafflaw,

    By mistake, I left the following comment for you on another thread. I’ll post it again here for you.

    *****

    “You people” don’t get to take a $77,000 tax deduction for a dancing horse like the Romneys.

    Romney Took $77,000 Tax Deduction For His Dancing Horse
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/06/18/1100947/-Romney-Took-77-000-Tax-Deduction-For-His-Dancing-Horse

    Romney Horse Wins Spot on Olympic Dressage Team
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/us/politics/horse-co-owned-by-ann-romney-earns-a-spot-on-the-olympic-dressage-team.html?_r=3&smid=tw-nytimespolitics&seid=auto

    Excerpt:
    As the wife of the presumed Republican presidential nominee, Mrs. Romney, through her involvement as a deep-pocketed patron, has brought dressage more attention than it has ever received in the United States, despite celebrating its 100th year in the Olympics. The comedian Stephen Colbert was the latest to focus on it, with a skit on his Comedy Central show last week that ribbed the sport’s fussy, elitist image.

    “Folks,” Mr. Colbert said, “the image of Romney as a privileged princeling ends today, because now Mitt is just your average blue-collar fan of dressage.”

    To show it can take a joke, the United States Equestrian Federation distributed 500 foam No. 1 fingers here, a cheeky reference to a prop Mr. Colbert used in his skit as he clutched a beer bottle in his other hand and cheered, “Woo!”

    The equestrian federation even recorded spectators waggling the red foam fingers for a YouTube video it planned to offer as a “rebuttal” to Mr. Colbert. Mrs. Romney, too, put one on.

    “I think having someone like Mrs. Romney so interested in horses is certainly helpful for our sport, and we’re all very happy,” Mr. Ebeling said. “Bring it on.”

    But as Mr. Colbert’s satire suggested, the scrutiny may not be entirely a blessing for Mr. Romney’s image as a man in touch with the concerns of average Americans. As millions tune in to the Olympics in prime time this summer, just before Mr. Romney will be reintroducing himself to the nation at the Republican convention, viewers are likely to see “up close and personal” segments on NBC about the Romneys and dressage, a sport of six-figure horses and $1,000 saddles. The Romneys declared a loss of $77,000 on their 2010 tax returns for the share in the care and feeding of Rafalca, which Mrs. Romney owns with Mr. Ebeling’s wife, Amy, and a family friend, Beth Meyers.

  14. It really amazes me that somebody in this day and age of the 24 hour news cycle would not just take the damn bandaid off, and release the tax returns for 5-10 years ….. if he released them… it would be news for a FEW days…. until…..
    HOWEVER….. I would have to think that there must be something in those taxes that is SO DAMNING, that taking this kind of heat for months from his party… and from every other party… seems like a better idea than just getting it over with….

    fact is… if Obama did this… HOLY cow, would there be people screaming from roof tops about how Obama is hiding something…

    I just don’t get HOW so many people are allowing him to get away with this…

  15. just a girl,
    I think the reason Mitt won’t release the returns is because he may have had to pay penalties and take advantage of tax amnesty to avoid prosecution during that time span. He also doesn’t want the common people to see just how he got $100 million into an IRA.

  16. It really amazes me that somebody in this day and age of the 24 hour news cycle would not just take the damn bandaid off, and release the tax returns for 5-10 years …..~gurl
    ——————————————-
    it mayt be a tourniquet…..

  17. Rafflaw..

    I think you are absolutely RIGHT on the button there….

    on another note….

    what I find just insane is that he KNEW he was going to run for POTUS….
    and not only did he not have these documents ready, so he could show them… (knowing his father released his)

    he took a write off for a dancing horse for $77,000
    that is MORE than 60% of the American people make in a year…
    and MORE than 30% of the people make in 2 years….

    with the kind of money he has…. he could have just left that out….. and would not have even noticed it….
    it is tacky in this day, with so many people out of work, and the economy that way it is…
    I just think that somebody running for POTUS should show some kind of sacrifice…..

    here is an interesting article that kind of breaks it down…

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/08/07/michael-tomasky-how-mitt-s-tax-return-show-his-character-defect.html

    and just so nobody reads into this any kind of envy….
    I am in the 1%….
    I just believe in community and society….. rather than just thinking of myself…. BUT, that is a whole different topic for another day…. :-)

    Cheers,

    JAG

    Just a Gurl

  18. I believe Mittens when he says he has paid every penny that he legally should have paid to the IRS for income taxes. But, I do find him to the be one of the three most unethical humans of our time.

    It was actually Darren and professor Turley that got me to thinking that
    whatever is in his returns that he doesn’t want us to see is purely coincidental and not necessarily a legal problem.

    I have nothing to substantiate this but to me it makes sense.

    Five wives/sister wives.

    If maybe there were a few legal dependents there to be seen.

    Could be a huge embarrassment… I’m not saying it’s so, but a possibility… No?

  19. More on Mittster Romney:

    Mitt Romney’s Pork Barrel Olympics
    The GOP candidate pried $1.5 billion out of the federal government to bankroll his Olympic turnaround. Millions went to questionable projects that benefited well-connected Utahns.
    By Tim Murphy
    Thu Jul. 26, 2012
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/mitt-romney-expensive-olympics-federal-funding

    GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is in London for the opening ceremonies of the 2012 summer games—part of a three-country world tour designed to build his foreign policy resume and shake down overseas donors. The Romney campaign will run television ads during the games touting the candidate’s experience as CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, where he was widely credited with turning around the scandal-plagued organizing effort.

    What Romney doesn’t talk about is how he succeeded in Utah with government help—lots of it—and how millions in assistance that he pried out of the feds ended up bankrolling subsidies, sweetheart deals, and giveaways for land developers and other well-connected Utahns.

    As Romney chastises the president for pointing out that successful business ventures benefit from a larger social compact and accuses critics of pining for “free stuff,” Romney is simultaneously touting an Olympic effort that, more than any other in American history, succeeded thanks to public investment—some of it sunk into questionable projects of marginal value to the Salt Lake games. “The $1.5 billion in taxpayer dollars that Congress is pouring into Utah is 1.5 times the amount spent by lawmakers to support all seven Olympic Games held in the U.S. since 1904—combined,” Donald Barlett and James Steele reported for Sports Illustrated in 2001. Those numbers were adjusted for inflation.

    How the Salt Lake Games came to receive more money than any games in American history isn’t much of a mystery. The organizers, including Romney, asked for it. In his 2004 book, Turnaround, Romney acknowledges the central role of the federal government in making the Olympics possible. “No matter how well we did cutting costs and raising revenue, we couldn’t have Games without the support of the federal government,” he wrote.

    Romney emphasized cost-cutting at every step of the process, moving the Salt Lake Organizing Committee’s DC office from a swank building next door to the White House, to a cheaper, comparatively Spartan flat next to a burrito shop. But the flow of federal cash continued unabated.

    In 2000, with the opening ceremonies still more than a year away, Arizona Sen. John McCain called the Salt Lake price tag “a disgrace,” and partnered with Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) to demand a Government Accountability Office investigation into how the games could cost so much. Romney’s response was muted. As he explained in a letter to the GAO: “Recognizing that our government spends billions of dollars to maintain wartime capability, it is entirely appropriate to invest several hundred millions to promote peace.”

    In Turnaround, Romney explained that the Salt Lake Olympics would cost more in large part because winter Olympics tend to cost more, by virtue of the fact that they mostly take place on mountains. “We had to construct access roads, widen highways and overpasses, and build a network of massive park-and-ride lots,” he wrote. Besides, he explained, Atlanta had already upgraded its infrastructure prior to receiving the Olympic bid; Salt Lake City, on the other hand, was still in the process of improving its roads and transit.

    But even some of the more maligned projects, like a new light rail system to be built in Salt Lake City, received Romney’s endorsement. Although Romney spends several pages in Turnaround blasting the $326 million project as unnecessary and an example of wasteful “truth stretching” from local governing bodies, he eventually signed on to the Mayor of Salt Lake City’s letter to Congress asking for money to build it.

    The most damning aspect of the Salt Lake tab wasn’t the final amount, but how it was being spent. In their exhaustively researched Sports Illustrated accounting, Barlett and Steele explain how many Olympics projects amounted to little more than slush funds for wealthy donors to the games. Wealthy Utahns used the games as an excuse to receive exemptions for projects that would otherwise never meet environmental standards, or to receive generous subsidies for improvements of questionable value to the games—but with serious value to future real estate developments. In one example, a wealthy developer received $3 million to build a three-mile stretch of road through his resort. Where’d he get the money? Federal funds that had been deposited in the Utah Permanent Community Impact Fund.

    The U.S. Treasury collects royalties from mining and petroleum companies that prospect and drill on federal lands, and from individuals and businesses that buy and sell the related leases. The Treasury returns half the payments to the states where the lands are located. States generally distribute the money as grants or loans to those communities that have been socially or economically affected by prospecting or drilling. In Utah this money traditionally has gone to struggling counties to help with public needs, like purchasing a fire truck.

    Now the state was going to give $2 million in federal royalties to Summit County—by far the state’s richest county, and one in which a majority of the mines closed years ago—and the money would be in the form of an outright grant rather than a loan, even though the fund’s rules state that grants can be made “only when the other financing mechanisms cannot be utilized, where no reasonable method of repayment can be identified, or in emergency situations regarding public health and/or safety.” On top of that the grant was earmarked for construction of a road that would benefit a private developer.

    The $3 million resort road wasn’t unique. Snowbasin, the site of the downhill skiing championships in 2002, was one of the more notorious examples of a well-connected Utahn getting a sweetheart deal in the name of the Olympics. Earl Holding, a billionaire oil baron, pressured the Forest Service into giving him title to valuable land in Park Valley in exchange for land of “approximate equal value” elsewhere in the state. But Holding drove a hard bargain; he got Congress to foot the bill for a new—and arguably unnecessary—access road (cost: $15 million), and received more than 10 times the 100 acres that were necessary for the Games. That would allow him to turn what was once protected federal land into a massive, and lucrative, mountain resort.

    The government was so instrumental in making the Olympic games happen that Romney created a special award, the “Order of Excellence,” to honor public servants who had helped them pull it off. Among the recipients: John Hoagland, the US Forest Service official responsible for the land transfer of the Snowbasin downhill skiing site.

    The government largesse, however, has done little to deter Romney from using the 2002 Olympics as an example of cost-cutting purity. “While I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting to save the Bridge to Nowhere,” Romney told Rick Santorum at a debate in February.

    Maybe they weren’t so different after all.

  20. Elaine M, that’s hilarious — Rich kids for Romney — that’s hilarious — STOPIT STOPIT I HAVE TO BREATHE!!

  21. Getting back to Gene’s thesis what ee see today goes with definition 3, absence of mention. We are less tha three months away from a presidential election and nothing of substance is being discussed in the media, nor does the media request any substantive information. Yes there is the issues of Romney’s tax returns, Ryan’s budget, Obama’s economy, but it is all revealed by the major media on the most superficial level. The debates will be fluff judging by the moderator’s and we are left with the “horse race”. More so if the public wants more substance we’ll never know
    because the media doesn’t ask them the questions. Gene aptly mentions the lessons learned from Viet Nam by our “warrior class” and the main one was the lessons of silence, or absence of mention. Our soldiers and foreign innocents die and they are briefly mentioned and promptly ignored. Silence is indeed an effective propaganda tool.

  22. The recent development of ’embedding’ mentioned above

    (“Add to this a high level of embedded journalists, a whole new bag of technology that made showing night actions possible and a theater conducive to night actions and relatively low casualties and you get the first war sold to the American public as essentially a video game.”)

    is in itself a new form of enforced silence or at least a form of journalistic control that is indistinguishable therefrom. Previously, war correspondents had a relatively free ride with access to government transportation on the ground and the ability to establish their itinerary on the fly. Embedded journalists do not, they have a specific assignment to a particular group of fighters and no effective guarantee of official access to others.

    Embedded reporters tend to write more supportive stories than freelancers. This new practice is a method to silence to a great extent, a broad or unflattering view of war by journalists on the ground during the conflict.

    Freelancers are discouraged and often not allowed to speak with the military while the written DOD rules state otherwise. ‘Unilateral reporters’ as the are called face harassment including physical duress at the hands of the military. The treatment of the unilaterals, which is no secret, is an incentive for reporters to embed.

    This is an article that goes back to 2003 and the roll-out of the embedding program:
    http://cpj.org/2004/03/attacks-on-the-press-2003-iraq.php

    Attempts at enforced silence don’t have to be subtle. Again, the treatment of news agencies that might not be supportive of the US mission can be impaired with a heavy hand and few, if any, repercussions:

    from the above link:

    “The bloodiest day of the war for journalists was April 8, when two separate attacks by U.S. forces killed three journalists and injured several others. In the first attack, a U.S. warplane struck an electricity generator outside the Baghdad bureau of the Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera, killing reporter Tareq Ayyoub. The attack occurred in an area of heavy fighting, although Al-Jazeera noted that it had provided the Pentagon with the coordinates of its offices weeks before the incident. The nearby office of Abu Dhabi TV also came under U.S. fire at the time. In October, a U.S. military spokesman acknowledged to CPJ that no investigation into the incident was ever launched.

    In the second incident later that day, a U.S. tank fired a shell at the Palestine Hotel, which housed most foreign correspondents in Baghdad, killing cameramen Taras Protsyuk of Reuters and José Couso of Spanish television channel Telecinco. U.S. troops claimed that they were responding to hostile fire emanating from the hotel. A CPJ investigative report published in May concluded that the shelling of the hotel, while not deliberate, was avoidable since U.S. commanders knew that journalists were in the hotel but failed to relay this information to soldiers on the ground.”

    ______
    Copy of the agreement (contract) signed by embedded reporters:

    http://www.isaf.nato.int/images/stories/File/Media-Visit-Docs/ISAF%20Media%20Ground%20Rules%20and%20Hold%20Harmless%20Agreements.pdf
    ______
    Excellent article Gene, thanks!

  23. Interesting court case filed by a reporter Wayne Anderson after having his embed status revoked and being removed from Afghanistan. He allegedly failed follow the terms of his agreement which allows stories to be embargoed with a higher level review process. His position is that he did not fail to follow the agreement but that his story was embarrassing and that when he refused to not file it he was removed from his embedded position.

    http://www.theandersonreport.com/theandersonreport/Columns/Entries/2012/8/4_Historic_Case__Embed_Journalist_Sues_Military.html

    The reporters Op-Ed regarding his appeal to NATO and the NATO decision is here:

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/feb/8/nato-tramples-americans-rights/?page=all

  24. The only thing I can think of left out of this is the “selective silence” or perhaps I should call it “engineered silence.” Lottakatz touches on this in his post above.

    It is what I think is being employed by our government with journalists. One manifestation of that is “embedded” journalists; another is the White House beat, another manifestation is the Talk Show circuit.

    The politicians know there is money to be made for journalists through interviews and access, and although the politicians cannot sell their valued presence directly, instead they sell it for something else, which amounts to silence on the part of the journalists in return for access.

    By “silence” I mean no hard questions, no calling them on logic or facts, no accusing them of falsehoods or inaccuracy or duplicity or incompetence.

    I think this is what happened with embedded reporters in the invasion of Iraq; it sounded like unprecedented access, it was, but it came at a stiff price: They were there to report on American heroes, not on mistakes, or missteps, or the accidental killing of innocents. As Lottakatz notes, they were subjugated and essentially had to agree to be censored.

    I believe there was a one-sided “silence” of embedded reporters engineered specifically to aid in the propaganda effort selling the “success” of the war to the American public.

    Just as I believe the “awarding” of White House Briefing seats, and a threat of removal, is used to engineer the silence of criticism by mainstream media on embarrassing or controversial topics, along with the granting of television appearances. Withholding access has become a form of financial reward and punishment; it is basically gaining selective journalistic silence through bribery and blackmail.

  25. I’m still learning the pathology..err protocol here. I see the echo chamber is even louder on weekends when the inmates run the asylum.

  26. sometimes silence is used when you cannot win because of the ignorance of people and the viciousness of people who would use what you say against you no matter how legal or benign it might be. Or they might just say because you say nothing you must have done something really horrible. Anyway you slice it, you lose and that is what is counted on.

    Che would have been a proponent of using silence against someone in that manner. So would Stalin.

  27. “it’s appropriate you would start your bias propaganda rant with a quote from a despicable murdering communist.”

    You leave Paul Simon alone!

  28. Bron,

    Why do conservatives seem so hung up on tactics? The war on “terror”, “Alinsky” tactics, etc… If you focused more on the merits of the argument and less on the messenger it is likely that you wouldn’t have as many problems with fallacious reasoning. The validity of the quote (or lack thereof) has nothing to do Che, but rather with its ability to communicate and spark ideas. Would Christianity have become a false religion if Hitler had said, “Jesus Christ is my lord and savior”? Your reasoning seems to suggest that this would have been the case.

  29. Also, for what it’s worth the Che quote is a pretty obvious allusion to the von Clausewitz quote “War is the continuation of Politik by other means.”

  30. Gyges,

    Well, we certainly can’t trust what someone with a name like “von Clausewitz” has to say… sounds like a furrinner to me.

  31. Slarti:

    OK, so a person like Che and Stalin would not accuse someone of something which is false? And wouldnt enjoy watching them twist and turn as they tried to figure out how to address/defend a false comment? And wouldnt enjoy watching public opinion turn against that person?

    I actually have read one of Alinsky’s books and found it to be a very good method for effecting societal change. So I am not sure what you are talking about. I actually thought the book was brilliant and the picture of a bunch of people doing a bathroom sit-in at O’Hare was priceless.

    Che was a butcher, but it doesnt mean everything he said was bad. Although a mind like Che’s or Stalin’s is suspect.

    I am also not saying that Che or Stalin would be the only people who would do something like that.

    I think maybe your logic is faulty.

  32. Bron,

    I took your comment as implying that the quote Gene lead with wasn’t valid because it came from Che—if I was mistaken in that, I apologize, but it is a common failing on the right (and not unknown on the left as well—too many of us fell for the “War on Terror” bullshit). You’re right about Alinsky’s book—it’s a good set of tactics for changing society. It’s not about what sort of changes should be effected, but about how to get the job done. Yet this doesn’t stop conservatives from trying to demonize the left by making this false connection, nor does this straw man stop conservatives from using these tactics when they are convenient.

  33. Slarti:

    Actually I think conservatives are using Alinsky’s tactics to effect change. I have talked with a member of a large conservative organization who says all of Alinky’s books are required reading for their staff.

    Conservatives, for the most part, have abdicated the world of ideas to the left. We are slowly trying to rectify that failing. We have spent too much time raising our children and tending to our business’s and our work and not enough time in the realm of ideas.

  34. Bron,

    It is not enough to simply have ideas. They must be good ideas that can withstand critical scrutiny on their own merits. But you are too generous to the left, Bron. Truly good ideas are not partisan until people choose to make them that way. The same cannot be said of truly bad ideas. Many are partisan in origin, but a bad idea is a bad idea no matter who backs it. That the left appears not to have abandoned ideas compared to the right has more to do with the right adopting bad ideas for ideological and theological reasons over rational logical evidence based reasons. Not all ideas are created equal in the diagnostic light of reason. If you didn’t have that flaw in your reasoning Tony pointed to explicitly here and that I (and others) have pointed to in many different ways, many different times, maybe it would be easier for you to see that your logic is often backwards.

    And by backwards I don’t mean retrograde – if I thought you were simply inherently stupid I wouldn’t waste my time – but rather literally backwards. Theory informing observation. Ideology coloring fact. Appeals to authority substituting for critical reasoning. You need to break free from the chains your ideology impose upon your reason. Look at problems not like an engineer with a stress tolerance equation and working to that number, but like a child does – which strangely enough is how a really good practitioner of the scientific method looks at a problem. With new eyes and no preconceptions, prejudices or ideological baggage. Let the problem define itself and let that definition inform the solution and if the problem doesn’t lend itself to absolutes in solution learn to work to optimal solutions with variable and/or fuzzy parameters.

    Ask of every problem what is it in itself? What needs to change about a particular situation to make people’s lives better? Let the evidence inform your theory and then planning a practical solution to get from A to B becomes both easier and more likely to yield the desired result. When you let ideology drive you, and this is very often the problem with the solutions to certain kinds of problems that you offer, you become more concerned about forcing people to believe as you believe instead focusing on actually fixing a problem.

    You have intimated that you are not wed to ideology, but your logic and arguments indicate that if you are not wed, you certainly are *something* whipped by your ideology that is the equivalent of “thoroughly conditioned”.

    If you want to start having good ideas? To promote as a partisan, bi-partisan or non-partisan (my personal favorite) platform or proposed solution? You need to get rid of those blinders Objectivism and the Austrian School have placed upon your eyes and hobbles it has placed upon your mind. To mix a metaphor, you can ride this bike without the training wheels if you try.

    I’m going to tell you something that will probably surprise you. Politically speaking I was once much further to the right than I am now. When I was a teen I could have best been described as a center right moderate. What changed? I learned more and more about the world but I always did it with the scientific method, logic, reason and a desire for best evidence driving how I learned. And as I learned more about the world, I started to see commonalities to the problems we as a species face. One of those lessons was that many times the root of suffering is either desire (driven by ego) or need (as opposed to want). While eliminating desire is very often a proposition that entails changing people’s minds, eliminating need can be addresses as an exercise in practical problem solving. Since one of those is far easier to accomplish than the other, taking a clue from nature, the path of least resistance to removing or mitigating suffering in the world becomes self-evident. I’m not liberal by proclivity other than my proclivity for learning and having been taught to do so properly. I’m liberal because the evidence of the problems of the world lead me to solutions that – because they seek to help people regardless of ideology – are humanitarian in nature. That humanitarianism is perceived as a leftist ideal is purely coincidence.

    There is a saying, a joke really, that reality has a liberal bias. If you could just take off those training wheels? You may find, like I did, that reality does pull somewhat to the left. But in the end, that is irrelevant to getting the bike from A to B. Ideology should be a consequence, not a causation.

    Take off those trainers.

    Go for a ride.

    You might be surprised where it takes you.

  35. Tony C. You’re correct about the self censorship, silence-lite of the pundits and Washington journalists. The manipulation is ubiquitous and you are right that it is a quid pro quo for the status and money a close association with the political elite brings.

  36. Bron: “Conservatives, for the most part, have abdicated the world of ideas to the left. We are slowly trying to rectify that failing. We have spent too much time raising our children and tending to our business’s and our work and not enough time in the realm of ideas.”
    ————

    LOL, yea, those lazy, non-productive leftists just sat on their butts for 3 decades ‘thinking’, but the (you?) didn’t have time because they (you) was doing ‘real’ things, ghod- fearing American things probably.

    I would just stay up late to finish my reading, made some time on the weekends too. I did ‘real’ things and had thoughts and ideas too. :-)

  37. lottakatz:

    I never said the left didnt do the same things, all I said was that conservatives spent too much time doing other things.

    I was not insulting the left but criticizing the right. Although I certainly understand how you would take it as a criticism.

  38. @Bron: Conservatives, for the most part, have abdicated the world of ideas to the left.

    That is because conservatives, for the most part, are incapable of generating their own workable ideas, they are bound to the ideas of the past. That is what being a “conservative” means, really, it is inherently not innovative, inherently adverse to taking risks that might cost money or cause disruption, and inherently traditionalist in nature and threatened by change.

    Why are conservatives opposed to gay marriage? Because it is non-traditional. You see it in their every argument, “preserve marriage,” “defend marriage,” etc. Why? No reason, really, they are just threatened by change.

    Why are conservatives pro-military? No reason, really. It isn’t a rational conclusion of how much defense we need, since clearly many other free countries get by on far less. It is just tradition and fear.

    Why are conservatives anti-tax? It is an irrational hatred, really. I am reminded of Maria Bamford’s skit on crazy ordering in a restuarant; “I want a bowl of boiling water — boiling — with ice cubes in it, and I don’t want the ice cubes to get all tiny. Okay?”

    Or more recently from the Tea Party; “Keep your government hands off my Medicare!”

    American conservatives do not have any new ideas because their ideas are always the same; return to the post-WWII era; 1950 or so, A time of prosperity and plentiful jobs with high pay, and for some, a time of white Christian male dominance and unquestioned privilege. For some, it was also a golden era when racism could be practiced openly, women could be treated like second-class citizens and “sexual harassment” was all in good fun, not a crime.

    I could go on, but “conservatives” have no ideas for going forward because all they really want is to go backward and once again enjoy the spoils of war and enjoy the monotone patriarchal cultural dominance of their fathers or grandfathers.

  39. Gene H; Slarti; Tony C:

    What is your take on this? This is in response to a letter to the editor.

    “We were taught as undergraduates to beware of either-or as a logical fallacy. It is no different this time. XXXXXXX uses Ayn Rand to buttress his argument, but fails to admit a third alternative.

    Anthropologist Rene Girard calls autonomous individuality the Big Lie. He demonstrates that we are creatures of imitation (mimetic) which tie our identities forever with the “other.” Mimesis is to human life as gravity is to Newtonian physics. His findings are confirmed by developmental psychology (Meltzofff) in finding that this imitation begins within hours of birth. Further evidence is provided by neuroscience in the discovery of mirror neurons (Rizzolatti) throughout the brain, which take in this information but, because they are motor neurons, experience the data in the first person.

    Our natural state is neither individualism nor collectivism. Rather, we become fully human when we live in cooperation with one another.
    This knowledge was offered by the sages of the ancient world, especially Yeshua, long before Ayn Rand, and Nietzche before her, trashed Christianity’s emphasis on carrying our neighbors’ burdens. Individualism is contemporary cultural code for greed.”

  40. Bron,

    It is written by someone who doesn’t understand how mirror neurons work. It is also an exercise in outcome determinism. This conclusion was reached because it is the conclusion they wanted to reach, but it is not based on the evidence science provides regarding the function of motor neurons which points to their proper functioning being involved in empathy and their malfunction being linked to autism. That humans experience (or don’t) empathy as a subjective experience is immaterial to the function of motor neurons in that process. The science indicates the opposite of the conclusion reached above: our natural (healthy) state is one of empathy. You should read about the Shared Manifold hypothesis. http://www2.unipr.it/~gallese/Gallese%202001.pdf As empathy leads to cooperation and cooperation leads to collective action, the statement is both factually false and erroneous in its logic.

  41. gENE h:

    I read the abstract and will read the article later. If I understand what he is saying, people are able to judge the emotional state of others. That seems reasonable for most people to be able to do, especially under harsh conditions say an abusive parent or an abusive guard in a prison. It would be a survival mechanism.

    I

  42. Oh please Tony C…do go on. So, all of the evolution of our world is done in spite of conservatives? No, we progress because of the balance between conservatives, moderates and liberals. You must be from Narcissus!

  43. nick,

    We progress because of liberals (or progressives as they are also known) as by definition conservatives don’t want change (unless they become reactionaries and want to change back to some idealized “golden age”) and progressives do. In truth, it isn’t this clean cut as individuals tend to be at different places on the progressive-conservative continuum on different issues (i.e. fiscally conservative, socially liberal, etc.). It is not narcissistic to recognize the dynamics that are clearly at play—I wonder if your problem is not really with Tony C, but rather that you don’t like what his comment implies about yourself…

  44. This is one of the best explanations of mirror neuronal activity I have seen. Dr. Vilayanur Ramachandran explains mirror neurons as a function of empathy and learning by watching. Problems with mirror neurons may explain some neurocognitive disorders such as autism. This is about a ten minute TEDTalks video, and well worth the time.

  45. @Bron: I agree with Gene; re mirror neurons.

    The author is simply wrong about our “natural state,” if you want to see that look to the tribes of people in South America, Africa, and Australia that have been studied living in their “natural state,” untouched by the modern world.

    The natural state of people is individual members of a tribe, with a combination of self-reliance and responsibility, and reliance on the group for collective action and shared sacrifice of their time and effort.

    It is not true that we become “fully human” when we live in cooperation with each other, cooperation is not always possible. We are equally fully human when we fight to the death against those that would enslave us or drive us from our land or steal our resources and leave us to starve.

    What is true is that humans are naturally social animals, and on their own are unhappy and relatively unproductive, and often find life meaningless. Extended solitary confinement, in fact, is considered a form of torture. We crave interaction, conversation, and just plain company. We get lonely. Other people are important to us, and not for their utility or ability to work, their emotions and reactions are important to us and give meaning to our lives. (It is why stand-up comics always film acts in front of a live audience, despite the much greater expense).

    People are not “less human” for being selfish or greedy, denying such emotions exist is just silly, they are a part of our humanity, and have survival value. When taken to an extreme such people are just less happy, because persistent selfishness and greediness isolates them from other humans and robs their lives of meaning.

    There are people with broken circuitry that are incapable of empathy, sympathy, or feeling connected to others. They are less than human, emotionally speaking, because they are denied the full human experience, including the experiences of love for any person but themselves. So they engage in the experiences that are left to them like hedonistic indulgence and greed and dominance in battle (or competition) for its own sake. I think such people are unfortunate victims of developmental complexity gone awry; leaving them with tragically empty and lonely lives.

    The vast majority of us, however, form tribes and societies because other people really matter to us and our contributions to our various tribes are much of what makes us feel our lives have meaning, and is not just a pointless exercise of surviving until we die. I think a life has meaning when it has made a positive difference in other lives.

  46. @Nick: So, all of the evolution of our world is done in spite of conservatives?

    Yes, absolutely. Your subsequent statements are false, we never make progress BECAUSE of conservatives, at best we do not take risks we otherwise would have taken. The only new ideas conservatives have are new ways to return to the past or new tricks to prevent change. Period.

  47. Tony C said:

    “I think a life has meaning when it has made a positive difference in other lives.”

    I just thought that that needed to be repeated and emphasized… well said.

  48. I wonder if all of the GOP are taking the cue to not talk when reporters are in the room…. Only if Dan Quayle were here we’d all understand…..or maybe Akins’….. They don’t want to run the risk of heard…..

  49. Romney just wants to unveil it all at once . . . after he’s elected because he knows there is no way in Hell he’ll survive the scrutiny if he talks now.

  50. Bron,

    I’m willing to sell you my interest in the Brooklyn Bridge…..for say $150,00.00…… You could possibly turn it into a toll bridge with the right legislation……. I accept cash only…. Non sequentially numbers one hundred dollar bills…..there would be a discount for thousand dollar bills in the amount of 5 per cent……

  51. @Nick: Henry Ford famously paid his workers twice the going rate, on the theory that anybody that built cars should be able to own one.

    Henry Ford also broke two traditions in inventing the modern engine. First, all cars prior to Ford were complicated masses of pistons fitted into tubes that were bolted together by bracing. In the combustion process, there was so much energy to contain that everything rattled violently no matter how tight the bolts were. Stuff came loose, parts bent and cracked, and maintenance was required every few dozen miles.

    Ford built early engines that way, but he broke with that tradition and wiped almost all of the problems away with a stroke, with the invention of the engine block. With it came reliability.

    Henry Ford also broke with a centuries old tradition of craftsmanship, the one he was raised with, where individual craftsmen worked on a device from start to finish. He did not invent the assembly line, but his adoption of a relatively unproven foreign innovation (at the time) was considered a radical move and a big risk by his peers.

    Conservatives “conserve,” they follow tradition and they do not believe in sharing the wealth when they are not forced to do it. For his time and culture, Henry Ford ran a liberal company, and he made his fortune by discarding tradition and creating a new standard; both the engine block and the assembly line are central features of modern industry.

    The definition of a “conservative” is “A person who favors maintenance of the status quo or reversion to some earlier status.”

    A synonym is a “traditionalist.”

    Neither the definition or “traditionalist” describe Henry Ford in his day, and anybody they do define is, by definition, not going to be a cultural innovator, as he was.

  52. Bron,

    It’s sad that you seem to equate “liberal” with “communist” (or was I mistaken regarding the meaning of your “red” comment?). There certainly isn’t any doubt that Henry Ford was extremely liberal—as Tony C pointed out.

    Tony C,

    Again, well said. Enabling the rise of the middle class doesn’t seem like a conservative thing to do, either…

  53. Bron
    1, August 20, 2012 at 6:13 pm
    sometimes silence is used when you cannot win because of the ignorance of people and the viciousness of people who would use what you say against you no matter how legal or benign it might be. Or they might just say because you say nothing you must have done something really horrible. Anyway you slice it, you lose and that is what is counted on.

    Che would have been a proponent of using silence against someone in that manner. So would Stalin.

    ——————————————————————————————–

    This post brought back 2004 John Kerry and the HORRIFIC Swiftboating….

    at least this time around the Democrats are trying to fight back….
    Tho, in my opinion, they will NEVER be as mean and just outright NASTY as the Right can be…..

    I sure wish they were tho….

  54. Somebody above mentions Alinsky….

    That is one that just baffles me to NO END….

    I have been accused by many on the right of using Alinsky Rules…
    many other liberals I have known have also been accused of this, funny thing being, most of the time when this is leveled at one of the liberals on a form like this or Huffington Post…. they have NEVER heard of Alinsky… and usually have no idea what that right winger is talking about….

  55. As the king of anti-Semitism during the 1920s, Henry Ford was a big fan of the forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. He published it in his newspaper and then published the newspaper articles as a book, “The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem”. Ford blamed the Jews for pornography, alcoholism, and communism. His book was popular in Germany during the 30’s earning Ford a medal presented by Hitler and the distinction of being the only American mentioned in “Mein Kampf”.

    Ford was also a pacifist during WWI and a strong supporter of the League of Nations.

    His company’s “profit sharing” plan revolutionized the relationship between management and workers and the Ford Social Department was incredibly powerful within the corporation.

    Ford was a liberal, a conservative, a pacifist, and a bigot … in other words, the man defies labeling.

  56. Tony… You really have the most AMAZING way with words….
    You wrote……
    People are not “less human” for being selfish or greedy, denying such emotions exist is just silly, they are a part of our humanity, and have survival value. When taken to an extreme such people are just less happy, because persistent selfishness and greediness isolates them from other humans and robs their lives of meaning.

    ————————————————

    Right away this made me think of the annual world happiness polls they do….

    Scandinavia usually has a country at the top of these lists, as Happiest Country in the world….

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/the-happiest-countries-in-the-world.html?page=all

    Honestly, I think there is a LOT to be said about living in a country that takes care of it’s people…. YES… we pay a LOT in taxes… my husband and I pay 55%…. that does NOT include the 25% VAT…. YES… it is a LOT!!!!

    However, not only do we have WORLD CLASS health care… we just have a totally different outlook….
    People here are NOT miserable because the government helps others who may not be working for various reasons…

    there is just a much different liberal mind set here…
    people are less selfish…. they do care more about community, than being overly concerned with their “individual rights”….

    85% of the people here do not have religion in their lives…
    85% also believe in the Theory of Evolution…
    85% and above also know what the difference between a Scientific Theory and a theory in discussion…. :-)

    people here get 5 weeks paid vacation….
    and very few live below the poverty line….

    Personally… there is a major paradox in the USA, that being that many Americans are VERY generous…. HOWEVER, so many people on about taxes…. and the way they describe “taxes being taken at gun point”….
    It makes them appear very selfish…. and they seem to be very pissed off and miserable…. they seem to have a skewed sense of community….

    I personally do not understand the mind set of the “hate taxes” crowd..

    Had they lived in The Congo… or Mexico, they would NOT have had the success they have by living in the USA… Location has MUCH to do with success… and sometimes you have to pay for use of the economy that allowed you to gain that success…. taxes are how that is done….

    anyway…. I’m tired and have not slept yet… :-)
    So… I am just going on and on….

  57. Gene,

    Very interesting (and thanks for raising the question, Bron). I never thought much about the scientific basis for empathy before—I look forward to carefully reading the article you linked (and share your hope that OS will give us his $0.02…, or, failing that, he will have posted a TED talk that gives considerably more than $0.02 worth before I post this comment… ;-) )

    On topic, I’ve been thinking about this particular propaganda technique (and propaganda in general) in terms of information theory—here are some random* thoughts that I had…

    If we define communication as the accurate exchange of information, then propaganda can be seen as attempting to introduce specific errors into communication.

    In the case of the technique of silence, the desired error is just that—silence. Of course, in the case of a high-fidelity, high-bandwidth medium like the internet, you can’t actually silence anyone else, but the same effect is achieved if the information you are interested in gets lost in the noise (noise, in this case, being any information besides that which you are trying to silence). In interpreting the success or failure of this method, you must also consider the intended audience for your propaganda.

    Let’s focus on a specific example: Rmoney’$ tax returns. Except in the case of “dog bites man” stories, engagement by one of the principals tends to raise the “amplitude” of a story—lifting it out of the noise of the daily news cycle. Denied this source of fuel, a story will die out unless there are others keeping it afloat. On the surface, it would seem that the ploy of silence isn’t very effective here since President Obama and everyone who wants to see him win will do their best to keep this story from dying out. However, I have a theory that, based on how this tactic effects different groups, might imply otherwise.

    First, let’s assume that whatever Mittens is hiding would make President Obama a prohibitive favorite for reelection (which seems reasonable—there must be some reason for incurring the political cost of non-disclosure). Rmoney’$ campaign would have realized that the Democrats will do their best to keep the issue alive, so it wouldn’t be likely to go away (at least in the so-called “liberal media”). We can divide the electorate into 3 groups according to how they will vote (if they vote at all): Those who will definitely vote Rmoney; those who will definitely vote Obama; and those who are undecided or could still be persuaded either way.

    First off, Rmoney’$ campaign can ignore the Obama voters (who are not likely to be influenced by their propaganda in any case)—this leaves those who could be persuaded and those who will vote for Rmoney if they vote at all (the party base). To win, Rmoney must either convince enough of the fence-sitters or turn out more of his base than President Obama does.

    The silence strategy certainly hurts with some of the middle group, but, if the Rmoney$ play the victim card (like I saw his senior** wife saying on Fox), this will have the effect of firing up the base (and could additionally sway low-information moderates as well). This also blunts attempts to keep the issue in the news cycle—to some extent balancing the moderates lost by turning out more from the base.

    Of course, this is all just speculation on my part, although, if I’m correct, I would expect to see other indications that Rmoney was courting the base and spurning independents—like, I don’t know… naming a far-right ideologue as his vice presidential candidate. You know, someone like the whackjob who wants to end Medicare as we know it—Paul Ry… oh crap.

    People are free to keep thinking that putting an extremist like Ryan on the ticket was a death knell for the Rmoney$, but I see it as a choice which, in combination with the significant monetary advantage due to the Citizen’s United era, gives Rmoney a puncher’s chance at winning. Remember that while Mittens is many despicable things (bully, outsourcer, hypocrite…), he’s not stupid and maybe his use of silent propaganda isn’t really the failure that Gene suggests…

    This is one of those times I would really like to be wrong—can anyone talk me down?

    * To anyone who gets it: the pun was intended ;-)

    ** I’ve never seen any proof that Mittens has only one wife… ;-)

  58. @Gurl: and the way they describe “taxes being taken at gun point”….

    The vast majority of laws are enforced without any gun ever being pointed, because they are enforced by costume, props and context: Wear the right uniform, show up in the right car with the right lights and emblems, wear a badge, gun, and ID.

    However, when people committing crimes are intent upon escalating their resistance to the point of violence, then the guns do come out. That is true for every police force in the world. It has to be, laws would mean nothing if they could be trumped by sufficient criminal violence.

    Fines and taxes are never taken at gunpoint; that would imply that once they are paid you are free to go. Isn’t that the implied promise of the mugger? Give me your money and you are free to go.

    But by the time the government points guns, they are no longer simply enforcing a fine or tax that one can pay and walk away. They are protecting themselves against violence and/or putting down a rebellion against the rule of law itself. The money is no longer the point, it is typically less money than the government will spend to collect it.

    Profit or loss is immaterial, the guns are out to preserve the rule of law. What they are neutralizing at gunpoint, at high cost and the risk of lives on both sides, is a criminal’s defiant attempt to put themselves above the rule of law.

  59. “If we define communication as the accurate exchange of information, then propaganda can be seen as attempting to introduce specific errors into communication.” (Slarti)

    Excellent base from which to develop your position … a position with which I agree.

    Your use of the subliminal must make the all knowing one green with envy.

  60. @Slart: maybe [Romney’s] use of silent propaganda isn’t really the failure that Gene suggests…

    I am not sure how we could logically determine that. We will have only one sample, the outcome of the election with a winner by some margin, but so many strategic variables it will be difficult to claim they were all good ideas or all bad ideas. All we really know is the summation of the influences were positive or negative for Romney.

    I agree with you, however, that the silent treatment can work. It certainly worked for Bush Jr. in regard to allegations of his drug use in college, drunk driving, etc. He dismissed such questions out of hand.

    In Romney’s case, I think he is fighting the perception that he is a coddled rich jerk out of touch with the people. Obama demands Romney release tax returns for good reason, and I have no doubt Obama knows precisely what is in those returns.

    That is one reason I believe the numbers must be particularly damning, and so Romney has to just hope it blows over. He doesn’t want the election to be about a rich man buying the Presidency to put into place policies that will make his taxes far lower than they already are, no matter how true that is.

    Since I think Romney is destined to lose, after the election this strategy will probably be spun as a losing strategy, but I think that is a false conclusion. It could be a positive number in a negative sum: Revealing his income taxes might have made him lose by an even larger margin.

    Here would be my marketing strategy for the Obama campaign: Find volunteers among the middle class, school teachers, cops, soldiers, firefighters, secretaries, accountants, professors, researchers, janitors, etc. make a commercial for each:

    “My name is Jane Smith, and I am teaching your children to read. I have released the last ten years of my tax returns; you can see them on the website below. I pay 28% of my income in taxes. Mitt pays 13%.”

    “My name is Tom Blank, I put out fires and save lives. I have released the last ten years of my tax returns; you can see them on the website below. I pay 34% of my income in taxes. Mitt pays 13%.”

    “My name is Charles Pride, I am serving my third tour in Iraq. I have released ten years of my tax returns; you can see them on the website below. I pay 29% of my income in taxes. Mitt pays 13%.”

    And so on. Finish with the static shot: “What is Mitt Romney hiding?”

    Oh, evil marketing would be so much fun…

  61. Blouise, Thank you. Ford encapsulated the point I was trying to make to Tony, that it’s the ying yang that creates harmony and progress, individually and collectively..

    What about Jackie Robinson. He was a Republican that campaigned for Nixon. Jackie saw JFK as a limo liberals who could cared less for black people. Jackie urged black voters to not go “all in” w/ either party. Something Hispanic voters get intuitively.

    Someone just needs to call off Tony, the liberal Luca Brasi, from making statements that are ludicrous on their face, that being ONLY progressives lead to progress. Some whacky uncles are better left in the den just watching tv and eating cookies. There are plenty more names of conservatives who have lead innovation which the sane folk here know.

  62. “No, we progress because of the balance between conservatives, moderates and liberals.”

    Do you even know what the word “balance” means?

    The word “balance” as you used it can refer to either heterogeneous composition or homeostasis within a system. Heterogeneous (consisting of dissimilar or diverse ingredients or constituents) and homeostasis (a relatively stable state of equilibrium or a tendency toward such a state between the different but interdependent elements or groups of elements of an organism, population, or group) are not the same thing as progress (a forward or onward movement (as to an objective or to a goal) or advance toward gradual betterment). In the sense that civilization is a dynamic cyclical system, heterogeneous composition is required to create cyclical fluctuations ergo conservatism’s retrograde offset is required to make progressive forward movement overcome social inertia. That, however, is as far as conservatism is required or beneficial to forward movement. By definition, conservatism seeks social stability through adhering to a/the status quo. In contrast, extremist conservatism (be it neoconservatism or some other form of right wing demagoguery) seeks to actively move society backwards to an imaginary “Golden Age”. This can be seen in the effort to strip women (and others) of their civil rights by the far right elements of the GOP and some of the platform planks of the Libertarians (who talk a good game about liberty and individual rights that simply doesn’t hold up under critical analysis – they tend to found their ideas on manifestly incorrect definitions and poorly thought out ideology like Objectivism).

    Because human populations are heterogeneous, civilization is not a linear progression. Civilization as evidenced by history is a cyclical progression that sees advancement or retrograde motion when some element of society gains dominance over the other. An example of a period of advancement in civilization is the Age of Reason. An example of a period of retrograde motion in civilization is the Dark Ages. That the former is a reflection of progressive thought and the later is a reflection of conservative thought is simply the facts of the matter. In order for society to reach the next level of homeostasis either enough progress must be made so that retrograde motion is over compensated for. Conversely, in order for society to regress (as it did in the Dark Ages) to a lower level of homeostasis, the retrograde motion must be strong enough to over compensate for any previous progress.

    Society has never moved forward due to conservative thought. At best? Conservative thought has preserved data (progress) that might have otherwise been lost during periods of instability (for example the preservation of scientific knowledge in the East during the Dark Ages was aided by the conservative nature of Islam and its dominance over the culture). The only time society truly advances is when progressive thought overcomes the inertia of society to move them so far beyond the retrograde motion of conservatism so that a pendulum swing backwards becomes extremely difficult or practically impossible. This is not to say every conservative solution to a problem is wrong. It is dependent upon each set of circumstances, however, in regard to forward advancement of civilization (forward meaning increasing the maximum benefit for all in seeking eudaimoniacal civilization), progressivism is the forward swing of the societal pendulum.

    As far as moderates go? While sometimes a syncretic solution is best, this is determined on a case by case basis. To argue that the moderate solution is always a the best solution is the logical fallacy of argument to moderation (assuming that the compromise between two positions is always correct). The moderate solution to a problem is not always the best solution.

    Contrast, such as that provided by heterogeneous content, is required for civilization to progress, but to say that “we progress because of the balance between conservatives, moderates and liberals” simply shows a lack of understanding of both balance and dynamic cyclical systems and their interrelation. Civilizations don’t progress because of conservatives and moderates, but rather in spite of them. This doesn’t make them inherently evil or lacking utility, but it does place them properly in their roles for understanding the dynamic cyclical nature of civilizations.

    What makes many ultra-conservatives (including some Libertarians although technically speaking they adopt a syncretic ideology) wince when people reject their ideas is that they are extremists. Extremists from either end of the political spectrum are inherently a bad influence on society as they seek to derail the cyclical nature of society instead of accepting it as simply a mathematical fact of our existence. This imbalance on the part of ultra-conservatives is not unintentional but rather engineered to consolidate power from the many (as is proper in a democracy) into the hands of the few (as is the desired outcome for a variety of oligarchical systems). By contrast, the ideology of many ultra-liberals would simply lead to anarchy by eliminating any controls over society.

    Because of the nature of the systems involved, the only rational position that is most likely to promote positive forward movement in civilization is a centrist progressive ideology, i.e. seeking as much positive change as possible without destabilizing society. This does not mean holding to a status quo that benefits oligarchical systems already in place if you are a true supporter of democracy, however. It is this holding on to and moving back toward oligarchy that is destroying our political systems, our economic systems and our ecology.

    Everything that has a beginning has an end. What goes up, must come down. The greater the heights, the further the fall.

    This includes the empires of consolidated power in men.

    But we will never reach the heights we are capable of as a species with the petty desires of individuals being allowed to determine by fiat the fate of others. United we stand or divided we will surely fall. It was true when Aesop illustrated the principle in “The Bundle of Sticks”, it was true when our Founders adopted it as a rallying call against the British, it is true today. Because (as noted by Edward Thorndike), “Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall, but wise words endure.” And here are some other wise words that are often quoted in the forum: “Ask of each and every thing what is it in itself.” – Marcus Aurelius. Conservatism may be many things, but beyond providing a counter-balance against anarchy, it is most certainly not responsible for the advancement of civilization any more than a brake is responsible for the advancement of a car.

  63. @Nick: Only non-conservatives make progress, based on the definition of conservative. It is ludicrous to argue otherwise. Voting for a Republican does not make one a conservative, they are not synonymous. Jackie Robinson was not a “traditionalist” that wanted to preserve the “status quo” or return society to a previous era! He was working for the exact opposite, wasn’t he?

    Even if Robinson believed as you claim, he was mistaken; it was JFKs advocacy for black civil rights that eventually caused it to be passed, and Nixon was revealed as a racist by his own words. Had Robinson been prescient and not misled into false assumptions by JFKs wealth and upbringing, by your own claim the person he should have supported was the liberal, what he wanted was the candidate that would use their power to help his downtrodden brethren.

  64. @Gene: Good post, thanks. I think conservatism gains the upper hand when progressivism fails (and new ideas are bound to fail on occasion) or by mistaken correlation, propaganda or subterfuge, progressivism is unfairly held to account for economic failure or other disasters it did not produce.

  65. Jackie made his assessment of JFK after a meeting. He met w/ both JFK and Nixon You see Tony, black folk understand white folk much better than vice versa. And Jackie REALLY knew white people. He saw BOTH politicians for who they were. Jackie just knew to put all your eggs in the hands of one party would create a dependency, a beholding. Few would argue that he was correct.

    Maybe there are some folks w/ the moral authority to critique Jackie Robinson on civil rights. Tony, you are not one of them, nor am I.

  66. @Nick: What a load of crap, I have all the moral authority I need to criticize anybody on anything, it is called “Freedom of Speech.” Jackie Robinson was a man like any other, not some paragon of virtue and infallibility. Like any other man, he was capable of error, and he WAS in error. Physical prowess, athleticism, fame, wealth or even overcoming adversity does not make one an automatic philosopher or genius, it does not give one the magical ability to read the minds of others. Robinson was in error.

    If you wish to kneel and bow your head before the rich and famous, feel free, but do not think you can force me to join you. I acknowledge no person, living, dead or yet to be born, as having the authority to decree what I will believe or accept as truth.

    As for your claim that “black folk” understand “white folk” much better than vice versa, you only reveal yourself as a racist.

  67. Jackie was a pioneer, moved race relations forward @ the risk of his own life, and he was a conservative. You need to stop making these whacky unequivocal statements. Jackie was not “rich”, but he was a famous conservative indeed.

    Charles Lindbergh

  68. A hero for generations
    By Larry Schwartz
    Special to ESPN.com
    http://espn.go.com/sportscentury/features/00107091.html

    Excerpt:
    In 1960, Robinson was criticized for supporting Richard Nixon for president over the Democrats’ liberal candidate, John Kennedy. After Nixon’s defeat, the candidate sent Robinson an engraved plaque in appreciation. Robinson, a VP at Chock Full o’ Nuts, sent Nixon 24 pounds of his firm’s coffee. Robinson’s relationship with Nixon later soured and Jackie campaigned for Hubert Humphrey against Nixon in 1968.

  69. Jackie Robinson and His Political Activism
    April 15, 2012
    http://negroleaguebaseball.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/jackie-robinson-and-his-political-activism/

    Excerpt:
    What few people seem to remember is Richard Nixon during his first run for President in 1960 it was that back in 1957 as Vice President he helped push through passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. While the passage of the act would lead up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and would cause our country to make a sizable shift in how we treat and respect each other, it really opened up a not so hidden secret that conservatives where voting republican to reflect their views. But back to Jackie and Nixon. After talking to both Kennedy and Nixon on the campaign trail he thought that his best chances of getting more civil rights legislation passed would be with Nixon.

    Jackie did go out and campaign for Nixon, to the confusion and later disappointment of blacks all over the country. He gave up his bi-weekly column with the New York Post and took leave of his job to campaign for Nixon. 2 incidents made Jackie think he was on the wrong side for the 1960 election. The 1st was Nixon’s running mate, Henry Cabot Lodge, announced that if he and Nixon were elected, they would put a black man in the cabinet. The press hounded Nixon about Lodge’s statement til he released a tepid statement that said Lodge spoke for himself and Nixon wouldn’t be held to that promise. The 2nd incident was when Martin Luther King was sent to prison over a traffic violation and Jackie asked Nixon to ask for MLK’s release, he balked stating that he didn’t want to rock the racial boat. John F. Kennedy and his brother Bobby ran with the opportunity to demand asking for MLK’s release, which made them very popular in the black community. Also Nixon never campaigned in Harlem, but Kennedy did. Jackie wanted to leave Nixon’s campaign but was too far committed in his mind to change.

  70. Rockefeller was a LIBERAL Republican.

    *****

    Jackie Robinson’s debut changed the game — and the nation
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/richard_rothschild/04/13/jackie.robinson/index.html

    Robinson recognized baseball was not ready to appoint a black manager, general manager or even third-base coach and he pursued other interests. He became the first black vice president at a major U.S. company (Chock full o’Nuts) and was active in politics and civil rights. He supported liberal Republicans such as New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller before switching to Democrat Hubert Humphrey when the GOP turned more conservative on racial issues. He assisted voter registration drives in the South.

  71. People & Events: Nelson A. Rockefeller, 1908-1979
    PBS/American Experience
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/rockefellers/peopleevents/p_rock_n.html

    Excerpt:
    Rockefeller wasted no time making the most of his new political prominence. As governor, he took it upon himself to change the physical face of New York State through an array of sweeping public works projects. He built low-income housing, schools, hospitals, roads, and monuments — among them, the grandiose Albany Mall, a marble complex which is now the seat of the State government. He also established a strong and ambitious state university system (SUNY) and a modern highway network, spending liberally with the help of complicated financing schemes. But as he dove into his own brand of gubernatorial activism, Rockefeller never lost sight of his ultimate goal.

    In 1960, barely two years into his first term as governor, he sought the Republican presidential nomination, but lost to Richard Nixon. Four years later, he would come much closer, ultimately yielding to Barry Goldwater and the fallout from a controversial second marriage. But Rockefeller’s timing was flawed. His liberal views in social issues and domestic policy (including civil rights) were out of step with the shift to the right in the Republican Party since the late 1950s. In 1968, the year of his third and last try, the so-called “Rockefeller Republican” — a liberal in domestic policy and a hawk when it came to foreign affairs — was facing extinction.

  72. Elaine, John D Rockefeller[patriarch], John D Rockefeller, Jr.[son], Nelson Rockefeller is the grandson…geez!!

  73. George Orwell

    I’m steering clear of politicians, in case you didn’t pick up on that Gene. You seem to be a one trick pony.

  74. “Jackie was not “rich”, but he was a famous conservative indeed.”

    Oddly enough, no mention that he was exceptional because he wasn’t a pol, only mention that he was “a famous conservative”.

    Sorry! You were sticking to famous conservatives. You don’t get to change the rules mid-game because someone called you on your bullshit tactic, nick.

    Well, you can, but much hilarity will ensue.

  75. Nick,

    I was trying to point out that not all Republicans were conservative–at least not on a number of issues. Back in the day, there were Republicans who were more liberal than some Democrats. Unfortunately, what used to be a party that included many reasonable people who were not ideologues has shifted far far to the right. In the past, I voted for some Republicans. I’d find that hard to do in this day and age.

  76. “Revealing his income taxes might have made him lose by an even larger margin.” (Tony C)

    Part and parcel of the whole. Republicans do not want to experience the embarrassment the Democrats endured when Carter lost.

    Any strategy Romney employs is going to lead to loss and thus be a losing strategy but how big the loss is the real concern … and coattails, of course for other republicans running for national, state, and local offices.

    One can see it quite clearly on this board/blog. Strip away the emotionalism and the tactics are simple and similar in nature from one troll to the next.

  77. Roger Ailes

    Bill O’Reilly

    Samuel Alito

    Sarah Palin

    John Ashcroft

    Edwin Feulner

    Newt Gingrich

    Rudy Giuliani

    Alberto Gonzales

    Sean Hannity

    George W. Bush

    George H.W. Bush

    Prescott Bush

    Jeb Bush

    William Rehnquist

    Ralph Reed

    David Duke

    Condoleezza Rice

    Mike Huckabee

    John Roberts

    Wallace Jefferson

    Rick Perry

    Mitt Romney

    Henry A. Kissinger

    Karl Rove

    Richard “Dick” B. Cheney

    Alan Keyes

    Donald Rumsfeld

    Antonin Scalia

    Ann Coulter

    Rush Limbaugh

    Michael Steele

    Michelle Malkin

    Clarence Thomas

    Strom Thurmond

    Matt Drudge

    Andrew Brietbart

    Dick Morris

    and Oliver North

    All famous. All conservative. And the other thing they have in common is they all suck. Both for being generally bad people and retrograde social influences.

    By way of contrast: Dwight Eisenhower.

    “Famous” and “conservative” don’t mean “good” or “correct” or socially beneficial.

    What? No flip smartass insult because you can’t address complex systems in any more a cogent manner than you’ve demonstrated on any other topic? Or do you wish to continue an exercise in futility and list making.

  78. @Nick: I recognize this one-sided work game; you type a name in three seconds and then expect us to write a half hour thesis refuting each of your persistently idiotic claims. Forget it; I have already shown why you are full of crap, now it is up to you to prove you are not. So do your own homework; show us an unequivocally “conservative” idea that cannot be mistaken for a liberal idea but still constitutes “progress.”

    You cannot, of course, so continue in your pointless belief system. Conservatism is not progressive, by definition. All you can do at this point is start redefining words and speaking in Aynish; but we do not buy that here.

  79. Blouise sez: ” Strip away the emotionalism and the tactics are simple and similar in nature from one troll to the next.”

    And Leslie sez:

  80. Elaine,

    That is exactly what I was attempting with H. Ford but nick’s job is spin so expect him to miss the point entirely.

  81. Elaine/Blouise,

    I’d vote for Eisenhower tomorrow if I could. That whole being dead thing though is really cramping his style on the campaign trail. I don’t expect him to win.

  82. slarti:

    “t’s sad that you seem to equate “liberal” with “communist” (or was I mistaken regarding the meaning of your “red” comment?).”

    I was just joking around, I have no idea what Ford’s politics were.

  83. Gene H:

    why does the left always seem to take the past and use it to interpret the present qua victim hood? Why do they think everyone is out to subjugate someone else?

    Freedom requires cooperation among people and encourages it. In fact it makes it necessary to cooperate with other people. Statism makes cooperation non-essential because you can turn to government.

  84. Gene,

    You have thus far failed to comment on Slarti’s post which will only drive him into more overt territory. Do you want that on your conscience?

  85. @Bron: Gene can answer for himself; but I for one do not think “everyone” is out to subjugate someone else. I think roughly 5% or 10% of people are out to subjugate as many as they can, to exploit them, to control them, and to use them for their own selfish ends without any regard for their welfare.

    Statism is what protects us from becoming the victims of such people; in my view the first job of government is to protect the weak from being coerced by the strong, both in the physical sense and in the financial sense.

  86. Bron,

    Why does the right insist on characterizing anything said about improving society as being about victimhood instead of what it is really about: a higher average standard of living.

    Also, next time you want to whine about collective action? I’m going to throw this – “Freedom requires cooperation among people and encourages it. In fact it makes it necessary to cooperate with other people.” – right back in your face. A democratic form of government requires cooperation, Bron. Democracy doesn’t work properly without it. And guess what cooperation is? Collective action. By definition.

    Really, the cognitive dissonance in your head must be a deafening roar.

  87. “I for one do not think “everyone” is out to subjugate someone else.”

    Speaking for me in that instance is perfectly acceptable, Tony. Contrary to what the band Tears for Fears might think, not everybody wants to rule the world. Some of us realize that influence is the best possible outcome but that control is an illusion ergo we seek to influence positive outcomes by providing conditions amenable to their greatest probability of occurring.

    “Statism is what protects us from becoming the victims of such people; in my view the first job of government is to protect the weak from being coerced by the strong, both in the physical sense and in the financial sense.”

    It certainly is in an egalitarian democracy. Statism is a tool. How it is used is critical. The first rule of using a tool properly is knowing its constraints. When to use it is as critical as how to use it.

  88. Elaine, I can tell you on the souls of my dearly, departed parents I have been looking for something on which we could agree. I may have found it. BOTH parties have been radicalized which is why independents are now the majority. You chose Dems like everyone else here. I’m still going w/ Jackie’s plan of not being enslaved to one party. Keep using Google, I have stock in that liberal[?] company. However, grabbing your ankles for the Chinese certainly taints their liberal street cred.

    Tony, You set the debate and painted yourself into a corner by stating ALL progress was the result of liberals.

    Charles Lindbergh

    William Faulkner

  89. Elaine,

    Yes, I saw that.

    He took my post on H Ford and spun it into something it wasn’t.

    He’s not at all interested in the points being made just how he can spin them and hopefully toss in an insult or two to irritate the posters so that the subject matter becomes lost in the rhetoric.

    He’s new to this and probably doesn’t realize or care that we’ve been dealing with his buds-in-print for years.

    I preferred the prison/mercenary/fundi-polyigamist group to poor, lonely, me-against-the-world nick.

    Ah well, quality trolling has suffered from the loss of Breitbart.

  90. Most people simply want to control their own lives. Control freaks want to control others. And, control freaks run the political spectrum.

  91. Gene H:

    voluntary cooperation is not collective action. Cooperation is between individuals. There is no collective action, there are only individuals involved in trade or mutually beneficial exchanges of ideas or products, etc.

    The cognitive dissonance is yours.

    You say you want freedom and I think you mean that but your policies will always lead to force by government and the eventual subjugation of the people. You cannot have a free society with political freedom alone. If you do not have economic freedom you really dont have political freedom.

    I would think the examples of the 20th century would have shown you that.

    The only way to raise the standard of living is to increase wealth, the only way to increase wealth is through capitalism. And not some mixture/3rd way.

  92. Totally OT but interesting none the less,

    From the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/health/fathers-age-is-linked-to-risk-of-autism-and-schizophrenia.html?_r=1&emc=na

    “Father’s Age Is Linked to Risk of Autism and Schizophrenia”

    “Older men are more likely than young ones to father a child who develops autism or schizophrenia, because of random mutations that become more numerous with advancing paternal age, scientists reported on Wednesday, in the first study to quantify the effect as it builds each year. The age of mothers had no bearing on the risk for these disorders, the study found.”

    Bad news for trophy wives.

  93. And Gene you are a one trick pony., Everyone your list [and my oh my, I have list envy..that’s a very long one] is in the politiucal spectrum. We are not going to agree on political figures. Politics is just a part of a culture, although it is your entire world. That’s why I have listed non liberals and conservatives outside the myopic world of politics. You seconded Tony’s ludicrous theory, added a polemic and a looong 12 incher list, and now are not responsive. I’ve given names of people who are not liberal and/or conservative who have advanced our civilization. You’re doubling down on 13 dude! However, you are Johnny Wad!

  94. Real classy Blouise, are you making fun of my ethnicity, or just calling me a arsonist. Quite progressive!!

  95. Sometimes that mirror swats you in the face without you even realizing. It is funny when you see it happen to someone that’s detested by most if not all.

  96. Well Freedom, Aren’t we vague and cowardly. Detested by “all”, or “all” here. The fair statement would be “detested by most here”. Scorn that I wear as a badge of honor. Grow a pair, Freedom. I use my real name. I give identifying info about myself. As much as I dislike Elaine and Johhny Wad, @ least they have the stones to be identified. In the words of The Who, “Who the f#ck are you?”

  97. Elaine,

    True … our kids just have grandma and grandpa ;)

    It’s an interesting study and, of course, “there are other contributing biological factors”.

    Gotta go and start reassembling Playmobil structures which had been disassemble for house cleaning. The four year old returns tomorrow.

    I’ll email you a pic of our little open-heart surgery survivor at her 4th birthday party.

    BTW … SwM has been sending some positively gorgeous pics from Ireland … I’ll include a couple.

  98. To whom was it directed, Mr/Mrs Freedom? And I can be a prick. Let he who is w/o prickdom in them cast the first stone.

  99. I’m guessing you women aren’t trophy wives? My daughter is a nanny for a couple of professionals. Mom is a pediatrician and dad is an enviromental engineer. They were both big Paul Wellstone supporters As I said yesterday, you so called progressives are really judgemental. My blue collar Dem mom would often say, “To each their own.”

  100. Mating call or matching wits, with the witless? That’s your choice. Do not forget! Nevertheless, you’ll be reminded and put in your place by one of the most inane ones here.

  101. “voluntary cooperation is not collective action.”

    There you go making up definitions again, Bron.

    If more than one person is doing it with another person and their goal is improvement of their lives?

    It is collective action by definition, i.e. any action aiming to improve the group’s conditions (such as status or power), which is enacted by a representative of the group.

    As for cognitive dissonance? I’m not the one who has to go into gyrations defending the irrationality of my stances as they relate to one another on a regular basis. You can project that all you like if it makes you feel better about yourself. It doesn’t make it true as an evidentiary matter.

    “You say you want freedom and I think you mean that but your policies will always lead to force by government and the eventual subjugation of the people.”

    That’s what you get for thinking poorly. Straw men. Stopping others from abusing others by force of government isn’t subjugation in the sense you use the word. It is justice.

    “You cannot have a free society with political freedom alone.”

    Duh. A straw man again. Because I am against the ability of others to use their disproportionate economic advantage to exploit others does not mean I am against economic freedom.

    “If you do not have economic freedom you really dont have political freedom.”

    If you have absolute political freedom, you have anarchy that exists in the state of nature. If you have absolute economic freedom, you have the tyranny of the strong over the weak. Your absolutist views are in the end your ultimate Achilles’ heel.

    “I would think the examples of the 20th century would have shown you that.”

    The mid projection fallacy at work, Bron. Your examples always fail because again you let your theories inform your evidence instead of letting evidence inform your theories. You fail to properly understand the essential objective reality of many situations because they are filtered through your prejudices gained from your dogmatic ideology – which also happens to be an irrational ideology contrary to the evidence of sociology, neurology, psychology and ethics.

    “The only way to raise the standard of living is to increase wealth, the only way to increase wealth is through capitalism. And not some mixture/3rd way.”

    An ideological statement not in line with the facts displayed by successful applications of socialism in varying degrees by other countries and it begs the question that socialism and capitalism are mutually exclusive when – as the successful examples illustrate almost to a one being examples of blended economies – they are not.

    *************

    nick,

    You’re truly low grade propaganda troll trying to change the rules so his weak ass tactic won’t be exposed. You cannot discuss conservatism without discussing political ideology. You point to Robinson’s conservatism but yet refuse to take examples of others sharing his conservatism. I don’t think so.

    “That’s why I have listed non liberals and conservatives outside the myopic world of politics.” 1) The political spectrum is polar in nature. One is either liberal or conservative in general (it is possible to be more than one thing on depending upon the given subject) and one is either toward the center or the extremes, but one is going to fall on one side of the or the others. 2) You wish to discuss politics but not in the context of politics? My, how very unproductive. Kind of like dancing about architecture. Whether the people listed are from the world of politics or not is irrelevant to their having the same ideology you wish to promote. That you were not smart enough to try to contain your parameters for discussion before hand, not that it would have worked, is your problem.

    Also, some times I’m non-responsive because I have other things to do than smack down trolls and/or deal with the foibles of the functionally illiterate and ignorant.

    ***************

    Blouise,

    Actually I find provoking Slarti to be both fun and entertaining as well as educational even if that provocation is by silence. :mrgreen: I think his thinking on the matter reflects what the GOP strategists advising Romney/Ryan probably think. I also think they are wrong and underestimate how badly they are overplaying their hand by being dependent on a tactically one note strategy. If all you throw are right crosses, you are open to uppercuts. Any attack leaves an opening for an opponent, but even more so with repetitive tactics.

    And as much as I hate to say it? “Ah well, quality trolling has suffered from the loss of Breitbart.”? Is a true statement.

  102. Freedom,

    Anonymously despised by yours and you is not the equivalent of despised by all. “It is funny when you see it happen to someone that’s detested by most if not all.” This is a statement dependent upon the assumption that I would equally care what others think when I admittedly and specifically do not hold the opinions about me held by others in equal esteem or value. Just as one has to earn my appreciation of their opinions about me, once earned, they can equally earn their way right out of that group. You should know that. Just to be fair. Then again, some people have trouble learning.

    Now unless you have something to add to the substantive conversation, “Freedom”? I invite you to put a sock in it. Or take a sock out of it. I’m perfectly indifferent to what you think of me, but I do invite you participate in meaningful manner if that is possible.

  103. Nick,

    Do you know what a trophy wife is? Is that pediatrician mom a trophy wife? Did she marry a much older man than she because he was so wealthy? Does she work hard for a living?

    You think you know who I am. You have no clue. You make judgments about people like me with no evidence of who we really are. I am not the child of a middle class family. I come from a working class background.
    Both of my parents were blue collar workers. My father who was an immigrant–as were all four of my grandparents–worked in leather factories…as did all four of my grandparents. My father also had a second job. He worked part-time in a package store for many years. My mother was a garment worker. I grew up in a five-room apartment–with four people sharing one closet. I attended a public college in a nearby city because I couldn’t afford to go to a private school or to a public college where I’d have to board. I was a commuter student. I worked while in college to help pay for my tuition and books.

    Who is the judgmental one? I’d say it’s you!

  104. Blouise,

    I recall you saying you were watching “Newsroom”. I just caught up on it last weekend. What do you think about the “intentional trolling” sub-plot?

  105. Nick the Prick,

    I’d say someone has your number. It’s in between -1 and +1, you must be a real spunk meister.

  106. @Nick: I did not paint myself in a corner, I said all progress is the result of non-conservatives, and I stand by that; it is in the definition to which you refuse to adhere.

    There is a large difference between mere success and progress. Conservatives can be successful, there are many traditionalists that earn millions. Also many liberals or progressives. Monetary success is not “progress.”

    Success or fame does not in itself mean one has done anything new to help humanity or increase fairness or opportunity or potential.

  107. I merely asked a question. Who is the petulant one now? With an Italian name and New Englander, like myself, I assumed you were blue collar. Funny how we have different world views. To each their own.

  108. Charles Lindbergh

    John D Rockefeller

    Howard Hughes

    As I’ve said previously, I have many. Elaine…just Google John D, not his son or grandson. But keep using Google, I have stock.

  109. Gene,

    Yea! … I can’t wait to see how that particular sub-plot is resolved!

    I’m also very interested in the whistle blower sub-plot … will it or will it not impact badly on the son thus forcing Fonda to back-off.

    Good stuff.

  110. Tony, for the most part I deleted sections I agreed with for brevity (which I failed utterly at anyway… as usual :-P ).

    Tony C said:

    @Slart: maybe [Romney’s] use of silent propaganda isn’t really the failure that Gene suggests…

    I am not sure how we could logically determine that.

    I am. If you replace “logically” with “empirically”, I was doing a hand-wavy version of describing the math that could put a metric on the success or failure of propaganda techniques. I think it would be a dissertation-level research project, but I am confident that I could come up with a way to mathematically define (and practically estimate) the effectiveness of propaganda. I could try to outline this if you like, but I fear it would get technical quickly…

    We will have only one sample, the outcome of the election with a winner by some margin, but so many strategic variables it will be difficult to claim they were all good ideas or all bad ideas. All we really know is the summation of the influences were positive or negative for Romney.

    That doesn’t stop Nate Silver—I notice that President Obama’s chances have dropped nearly 4%…

    In Romney’s case, I think he is fighting the perception that he is a coddled rich jerk out of touch with the people. Obama demands Romney release tax returns for good reason, and I have no doubt Obama knows precisely what is in those returns.

    I don’t think President Obama knows exactly what is there—I just think he can do the political calculus to estimate the magnitude of what is being concealed. If the Obama campaign knew, I would guess that they would be leaking it through surrogates as it would be a powerful weapon that Rmoney couldn’t counter. On the other hand, we can assume that John McCain knows, since I believe he saw 23 years of Rmoney’$ returns…

    That is one reason I believe the numbers must be particularly damning, and so Romney has to just hope it blows over.

    But he’s not hoping it blows over—I believe that he’s using the most effective counter strategy available to him (fire up the base, play the victim card, spend, spend, spend, and suppress the vote in swing states) and I’m afraid it might work…

    He doesn’t want the election to be about a rich man buying the Presidency to put into place policies that will make his taxes far lower than they already are, no matter how true that is.

    That just means that he is a Republican… :-P

    Since I think Romney is destined to lose, after the election this strategy will probably be spun as a losing strategy, but I think that is a false conclusion. It could be a positive number in a negative sum: Revealing his income taxes might have made him lose by an even larger margin.

    Unfortunately, we will never be able to answer the “what ifs” (by the way, where is the progressive backlash that you suggested would follow the Republican success in the midterms? Did I miss it?), but I certainly believe that this strategy is more likely to be successful (and, at the very least, lessens the size of President Obama’s victory—which could have down ticket implications) that full disclosure would have been.

    Here would be my marketing strategy for the Obama campaign

    A strategy that would play well with the middle group of voters (and help fire up President Obama’s base)—likely with the side effect of firing up Rmoney’$ base, too.

    Oh, evil marketing would be so much fun…

    I just wish that I believed that your idea would be effective—it seems to me that it would be playing into Rmoney’$ hand in this case…

    It’s too bad that we can’t pay for the kind of polling that could shed light on the effects of Rmoney’$ strategy—I’d love to have the time and money to make my theory rigorous and collect the data necessary to confirm or falsify it. Barring that, I suggest that considering the actions of Rmoney’$ campaign (are they wooing moderates or firing up the base) will at least show if Rmoney believes my theory…

    Blouise said:

    Gene,

    You have thus far failed to comment on Slarti’s post which will only drive him into more overt territory. Do you want that on your conscience?

    Not only that—I posted my exegesis last night thinking it would would engender some interesting discussion (like the above from Tony C—sorry I had to disagree, Tony ;-) ), and wake up this morning to find that Gene had put up a dueling exegesis and then led the trolls on a merry romp (for him, anyway—it didn’t look so fun for the trolls…). *harumph*

    If this keeps up, I might be forced into something raff will regret, like equations… (if that happens, I hope I can count on you to get the door so he doesn’t hurt himself as he runs from the thread screaming ;-) ). On the other hand, the one thing my exegesis (I really love that word…) wasn’t was “timely”, so Gene probably deserves more time…

    —————-

    D’oh—I just saw Gene’s latest post. The stinker is using the methods he described in this post on me… *angry muttering*

    Gene,

    You are not supposed to use your powers for evil—or against me! :-P

    I agree that Rmoney’$ play was a hail mary (or, as I said, a puncher’s chance—defined thusly by the Urban Dictionary:
    term used in boxing to describe something that has a slight chance of happening), but you never know when your quarterback is going to turn out to be Doug Flutie… I believe this was the best chance Rmoney had since standard strategies generally lead to standard results—according to 538 President Obama’s chances of reelection have declined 3.7% to 67.0% in the past week (too soon to say whether this is a true change in the race or a delayed Ryan bounce—and it’s about to be obscured by the conventions in any case…). I was really hoping that you (or anyone) could do a better job of convincing me that I’m just talking out of my ass…

  111. Sorry nick … I know how you like to play the victim role but the “boys” was a direct quote from the mercenary group who were always threatening to send their boys to get us and use flame-throwers on our “hovels”.

    If you want to assume victimization through insult you need to spin “boys” to “guys” then claim I was attacking your ethnicity … you really aren’t any good at this.

  112. ” … anyone) could do a better job of convincing me that I’m just talking out of my ass”

    Well, I can’t because you’re not.

  113. However Slarti, I think that the initial bump is going to be repaid as a game of diminishing returns over time. The more the Romney camp invokes silence, the negative feedback loop is going to only grow stronger if the Obama camp feeds it properly. Time is only on “their side” with silence if that silence is maintained. Also, being that Team Obama ran on transparency last time (and although some of think their delivery on their promises sucked), it is quite easily to link up pounding at Romney silence as a form of lack of transparency and revive one channel of Obama’s old campaign rhetoric in such a way that Romney can’t really slam them over without looking further like a hypocrite himself. Silence as a tactic really works best when it works quickly. Too much of it at once increases the amount of time it takes to reach maximum effectiveness. Unlike some tactics, silence does not lend itself to overuse and for the very reason noted above: it can be turned against the party using it quite easily under the right circumstances. These are, I think, the right circumstances.

  114. Blouise, You were apparently involved in an inside “joke” for which I had no context, being a newcomer. And you’re projecting vis a vis victimhood. I am a rugged individualist and comments I’ve made here, loathing pc and victimhood, bear that out. You’ve explained, and as far as I’m concerned it’s over.

  115. “Can be” and “are” are not equivalent, Blouise. :D

    (I know, I know, now I’m just be ornery. That’s what too much coffee will get ya.)

  116. Slarti, here is a math fail for you. And an exemplary lesson in why you should be very, very careful about the text from which your tattooist is working. The sad thing is, the people who can read this are the ones who will catch it immediately.

    Raff, trigger warning. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT click the link.

  117. Blouise,

    Yeah, it’s pretty good. Tried to find another I saw some years back but no luck. Gotta get back to work.

  118. N ic k ,

    Are you really A paid troll trying to sell your wares here? Maybe that representative has an entry level position for you.

  119. Nick,

    There you go assuming that I’m a member of a particular ethnic group when I’m not. That’s par for the course–because you assume a lot of things that aren’t based in fact. I took my husband’s name when I got married.

    I wasn’t being petulant–just merely informing you about my background–since you make a lot of assumptions and snap judgments about people.

    BTW, did you answer the questions that I posed to you about trophy wives?

  120. Blouise,

    That’s okay—just ask yourself where Gene will be when my plans for world domination come to fruition…

    Since you asked (and because Tony C probably deserves more than my naked appeal to my own authority), I’ll try and get a post up before I go to bed tonight outlining the mathematical basis for what I’m trying to say. Please make sure that raff is sedated and has a comfortable padded room with a huggy-huggy jacket he can use if he needs it.

    gbk,

    I love that cartoon—although I prefer proof by decree (it’s true because I say it’s true :-P ).

    OS,

    Maybe I’m looking too hard, but I don’t get it… (I know I’m just setting myself up to feel stupid when you tell me, but I guess humility [or humiliation] is good for the soul :-( ).

    raff,

    Before you try to read what I post next, you need to go to your happy place…

  121. First line is an operator while the second two are numeric valued. Terms in the first line should be acting on some field (like the Psi in the third line.)

    Second row, as a whole: indexes i and alpha are doubly used, once as a sum index, and once as an absolute index. The indices should be distinct. (They fixed that on the third line, but it can’t be repaired on the second.)

    Second row, second term, denominator: there is a missing minus sign.

    Units are inconsistent (the terms in the first line go 1/distance^2, 1/(mass*distance^2), charge/distance, 1/distance, charge^2/distance)—it may be that they chose some “everything=1” system of units so we can let that slide.

    Slarti, I must confess that it went by me too, but got some free help from a physicist friend.

  122. what I would like to know… WHY is it when Regans, policy adviser has ADMITTED that low taxes do not spur job growth…. and we have tried the low taxes and all it has done is screw things up… why is it that the Right wing wants to keep trying this failed and proven failure, over and over again????

    some of the strongest economies in the world have higher taxes, and do quite well… these same economies also have a bit of socialism, and this has proved OVER and OVER to be a winning equation….

    WHY does the right wing not accept this?????

    conservative economist Bruce Bartlett, who wrote “the bible” for the Reagan Revolution, worked on domestic policy for the Reagan White House, and served as a top treasury official under the first President Bush. Now he’s a heretic in the conservative circles where he once was a star.

    Bartlett argues that right-wing tax policies — pushed in part by Grover Norquist and Tea Party activists — are destroying the country’s economic foundation. When he called George W. Bush out as “a pretend conservative” in his book Impostor: Why George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy, Bartlett was fired from his position as a senior fellow at a conservative think tank. His new book is The Benefit and the Burden: Tax Reform — Why We Need It and What It Will Take.
    http://billmoyers.com/segment/bruce-bartlett-on-where-the-right-went-wrong/

  123. You never answered my question about what you have done to help rape victims after condescendingly pontificating. I have an aunt who taught 2nd grade for 40 years. Once in awhile she’ll start speaking like she’s talking to second graders. Of course, I’ll call her on it and she’ll laugh and say, “Professional hazard.” I have no expectation you could ever see this in yourself..but it’s there. I apologize for thinking you’re a paisan, too bad you’re not. I didn’t think feminist took “slave names” as I’ve heard them call it.

    So, ElaineM who is not an Italian, answer my question that you have avoided like the plaque[truth can be a mofo!] and I’ll answer your silly one.

  124. David Stockman on the Folly of Anti-Tax Crusades
    February 10, 2012
    In this web clip, exclusively on BillMoyers.com, David Stockman, former Budget Director under President Ronald Reagan and chief architect of Reagan’s supply-side, or “trickle-down,” economic policies, says today’s Republicans have taken their anti-tax campaign too far.

    “Taxes are the price we pay for civilization,” Stockman says, borrowing a quotation from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes. “What they’re saying today is foolish, it’s irresponsible. How can anyone believe with the kind of deficit that we have — a trillion dollars, year after year after year — that we can keep taxes as low as they are?”

    Watch Bill’s full interview with Stockman.

    http://billmoyers.com/content/david-stockman-on-the-folly-of-anti-tax-crusades/

  125. OS,

    Thanks.

    I can’t quite make out the name of the operator (left hand side of the first line), but if it is a definition that was used in the second or third line it would be okay. The doubling of indexes is bad—and fixing it in the third line just makes things more confusing… The missing minus sign is minor (and can be fixed by any tattoo artist) and since this looks to be quantum mechanics (yuck!), we can assume that c=h-bar=pi=1 is in effect*. All around, you’re right, it’s pretty sloppy—just what mathematicians have come to expect from physicists ;-)

    * this is an old physics joke—not quite as bad as the math joke about the integral of d(cabin)/(cabin)…

    justagurlinseattle,

    The reason the right wing wont admit it is because their stated position is just a fig leaf to cover their naked greed. That’s what I think, anyway…

  126. Slarti, you can just mention 137 to my friend and she breaks into peals of laughter. The constant that isn’t. Physicists are strange creatures by and large. I only had a minor, so was not completely contaminated.

  127. Nick,

    I never worked with rape victims. I was an elementary school teacher–remember? I am also a mother. I was busy teaching and tending to my family responsibilities–including helping out with elderly grandparents. I never worked as a private investigator like you. I did work with children who were neglected, had severe special needs, who came from troubled homes. I tried to make sure that my classroom was a warm and safe and encouraging environment for them.

    What does my not having worked with rape victims got to do with my position in support of choice for women and the belief that women should have the right to control what happens to their bodies?

    There…I answered your question–now you answer mine.

  128. @Slarti: I still believe the progressive backlash is coming, certainly since Romney has over-stepped. I try to read Nate Silver pretty regularly, btw. It is one of the reasons I think Obama will win; both Intrade and Nate put Obama as about a 2:1 favorite. Congress has a 78% disapproval rating.

    My unsupported take is that Paul Ryan was picked for funding purposes, not winning purposes; and they are not the same thing at all. As a result, I think Paul Ryan will have negative coat-tails; he will drive progressives to the polls (and independents to Democrats) in order to protect the social safety net, and that will not only elect Obama, but Democrats in the House and Senate.

    As always, I could be wrong, I am stating what I think. If I am wrong, then much of the social safety net will be effectively destroyed. The pain (and death and desperation) that is going to cause will be the just desserts of the complacent, and perhaps that will wake up the 76% of voters that oppose ANY cuts in Social Security or Medicare, for 2014 or 2016. If it hasn’t happened by then, well, I was wrong, and the majority says they want the safety net but is lying, they cannot break themselves away from the TV long enough to vote. I think I would have to accept that, and try for social justice by organizational means other than politics.

    Still, I think it happens now, in 2012. We are immersed in the information age. I imagine Romney/Ryan will get their standard 30% to 40% of die hard ideologues, but I am betting that the 76% that want SS / Medicare kept intact as-is will realize the threat posed by RR with a possibly Republican Congress and Senate, and come out to vote for Democrats.

    We shall soon see, I suppose.

  129. justagurl…

    I would have replied sooner, but was cleaning up the coffee spew on my screen.

    I am going to have to share that with my friend. :mrgreen:

  130. I sure hope you are right…..

    if not…. there will be a news clip from Sweden….

    “Outside of the American Embassy in Stockholm, there is a strange woman, who looks to be burning her passport..”

  131. OOOppss…. this was directed at Tony C….

    I sure hope you are right…..

    if not…. there will be a news clip from Sweden….

    “Outside of the American Embassy in Stockholm, there is a strange woman, who looks to be burning her passport..”

  132. Elaine, If you go back to your thread you’ll see where you got on your soapbox preaching to me about rape victims. Karma was involved because I had given a specific rape case I worked on as a PUBLIC investigator for the Jackson County Prosecutors Office just a short time PRIOR to your polemic-lite. I worked numerous cases of rape, that was just one You have a difficult time coming out of your box. But, at least try to think how you would feel being lectured to by someone who has no experince, when you have vast experience. Again, like my example of grammar school teachers having the professional hazard of talking down, I expect no self awareness from you..

    The mother of my daughter’s nanny kids is not a trophy wife. I thought by stating she was a Paul Wellstone supporter would be sufficient to give her cred in your world. I guess not. To varying degrees we all dislike trophy wives. You seem to have a personal issue w/ them.

  133. Tony C said: ” As always, I could be wrong, I am stating what I think. If I am wrong, then much of the social safety net will be effectively destroyed.”

    Which is why I pray to god (the FSM—may her noodlely appendage protect us all) that you are right, but remember: a 67% chance of reelection means a one in three chance of President Rmoney. I don’t think this is over yet and I don’t think that there is a flaw in my reasoning (and, in any case, the system is complex enough that it would be foolish to think that one understood all of the significant dynamics at play here). We’re juggling Faberge eggs in variable gravity here—I’m worried that we’re going to have more than a couple “yolks” to clean up…

  134. raff,

    I didn’t mean to—it just happened (either that or it was Blouise’s fault* :-P ).

    Remember your happy thought!

    * or it might be Gene’s fault—after all, he’s the one that numbered his propaganda series like college classes… It’s not my fault if non-math classes were a statistically insignificant part of my college experience.

    justagurlinseattle,

    First off, I’m confused as to how you can be just a gurl in Seattle and in Stockholm at the same time, but more importantly, if Rmoney gets elected, I’ll be trying to join you as quickly as I can (in Sweden, not the Pacific Northwest).

  135. Nick,

    You perceived what I wrote to you as preaching. If that woman you spoke of was not a trophy wife, why bring her into the discussion? Blouise and I were not talking about women like her–and you know it. Why do you think a woman like her wouldn’t have “cred” in my world? I was a working mother too. Once again, you inferred something in what I wrote that was incorrect–just as you were incorrect when you thought I was talking down to you. Since early on, you’ve assumed that you know what I think, who I am, and how I’ll respond to comments. You twist people’s comments and try to pretend that some of us have said things that we haven’t.

  136. Slartibartfast

    YOu are so right to be worried…

    The right wing has been on a serious Propaganda binge for quite some time….

    Birth Certificate…
    Collage Transcripts….
    Fast and Furious…
    Obama care…
    Obama stealing money from Medicare….
    Obama raising taxes on the middle class… even tho he lowered them..

    Obama blocking Military Voters in Ohio…
    Obama removing work requirement from Welfare….

    Voter Fraud… tho, The Republican Lawyers Association admits there has been NO Voter Fraud….

    OOOOhhhhh they have been BUSY!!!!!

    and then there is this guy…..

  137. justagurl,

    Well, if the worst happens, I’ll buy you a beer when I get to Sweden and we can commiserate…

  138. “Well, if the worst happens, I’ll buy you a beer when I get to Sweden and we can commiserate…”

    You know, I don’t think I’ve ever had a Swedish beer… Unless you count Redhook.

  139. “Is that a Seattle Ballard beer????”

    Yup.

    “American beer is like having sex in a canoe….
    It is f*cking close to water…. :-D”

    You’re drinking the wrong American beer.

  140. Elaine, I say this w/ all seriousness, do you have a problem w/ dyslexia? READ MY WORDS! I spoke about you “preaching to me about RAPE VICTIMS.” My God! There is no ambiquity, it’s quite clear. The next paragraph speaks about the nanny mom and has not a word about preaching. This is getting pretty freakn’ weird and more than tedious. Either you’re playing dumb, or….? And this trophy mom fixation is more than a little curious. Just sayn’.

  141. We had a saying about Canadians and Europeans when I bartended. They’re like good canoes..they don’t tip!

  142. there is a reason they don’t tip…

    The companies here are NOT so cheap as to expect the customers to pay the employees wages….

    They make a VERY GOOD living wage here…. so tipping is not common here….

    I was a cocktail waitress in the USA…. and I have to say, it is just difference in culture….

    I used to think that people who did not smoke or drink were terrible tippers…. and women…. :-)

  143. Nick,

    There you go again–attempting to insult me. That tactic is getting boring because of its overuse. Many, many dyslexics are highly intelligent people. They are not dumb. It’s too bad that you don’t understand more about dyslexia–or you would have known that.

  144. Nick,

    FYI:

    What is Dyslexia?
    http://www.focusonlearning.com.au/dyslexia.html

    Excerpt:

    Dyslexics are extremely good at conceptualising and so make very strong business leaders, as they can strategise so well. They can have a natural social ability, that can help them to be extremely intuitive among people. Many entrepreneurs are dyslexic, Richard Branson being a primary example. Also Dyslexics have a natural ability to perceive things from many perspectives, meaning they can have enhanced talents and skills in areas such as creativity, design, acting, engineering and sport.

    Famous Dyslexics

    Many reports about dyslexia feature famous people who have achieved great things despite their dyslexia. At Davis we believe that they succeeded BECAUSE of their dyslexia, not in spite of it. Dyslexics highly visual-spatial thinking, allows for fantastic imagination, outside-the-box thinking, and intuitive problem-solving. Many, many actors and singers are dyslexic. It is said that Albert Einstein, one of the world’s best-known dyslexics, developed his theory of relativity as a result of imagining himself riding on a beam of light. Picture thinking is very fast and dyslexics aren’t always aware of it. Images can go through their brain at 32 pictures per second, much faster than word thinking, which can only manage 4-5 words per second.

  145. “In 1796, Rep. William Giles of Virginia condemned a relief measure for fire victims, saying that Congress didn’t have a right to ‘attend to what generosity and humanity require, but to what the Constitution and their duty require.’ A couple of years earlier, James Madison, the father of our constitution, irate over a $15,000 congressional appropriation to assist some French refugees, said, ‘I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.’”

    and there are plenty more where that came from.

  146. Did Leonardo da Vinci’s dyslexia help him to be a master painter?
    By Fiona Macrae
    11/17/2010
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1328965/Did-Leonardo-da-Vincis-dyslexia-help-master-painter.html

    Excerpt;
    The secret of Leonardo Da Vinci’s talent and Pablo Picasso’s success may have been their dyslexia.

    The two men both suffered from the ‘word blindness’ that affects as many as one in 12 children – but it seems it can also bring the keen spatial awareness that makes the difference between a jobbing painter and a master of art.

    The finding, from Middlesex University psychologists, could help explain the brilliance of some of the greatest artists of all time and the timelessness of works such as the Mona Lisa.

  147. Nick,

    Did you ever work with dyslexic students? If so, did you help them in school? Were you patient with them? Did you try to avail them of all the services that could help them achieve academically?

  148. I still believe the progressive backlash is coming, certainly since Romney has over-stepped. I try to read Nate Silver pretty regularly, btw. It is one of the reasons I think Obama will win; both Intrade and Nate put Obama as about a 2:1 favorite. Congress has a 78% disapproval rating.” (Tony C)

    When did you say that?! How could I have missed it?! I would have been all over that as I have been saying it for months and I believe the right knows it which is why they threw in the towel way before their primary circus and just ran the show to raise some money using fools like Bachmann etc knowing full well the nomination would be handed to Rmoney to lose in November.

    Tony, if you look back over the threads from last summer onwards, I just kept repeating the nomination will be Rmoney’$.

    This is not wishful thinking on my part for I believe it’s all part of the pendulum swing.

    I can’t believe I missed your “progressive backlash is coming”!

    Wait a minute … weren’t you pushing Ron Paul then?

  149. For anyone who could not see the tattoo text, hold the Ctrl button down and use the scroll wheel to zoom in on the photo. It should enlarge nicely.

    There will be a quiz on Friday.

  150. Ealine:

    I imagine painting isnt the only area where a “defect” causes superior achievement. It is probably what has pushed the human race along. Newton probably had Aspergers.

  151. raff,

    I am sorry … I did encourage Slarti and then gbk and OS stepped in and now I know he’s going to run amuck. I apologize.

  152. Thank you Slarti…

    It is official…. I am a DUMB ASS!!! :-)

    there are somethings in Mathematics I understand…

    Computer math… Electronics math…. Technical math… I get…

    That tattoo…. TOTALLY over my head…. :-D

    Think I need a beer… and a shot of tequila….

  153. Who said anything about his being hypocritical? Stick to making stuff up with Gene and leave me alone.

    You showed me exactly who you were months ago when you used a sock-puppet and tried to escalate the trouble between SwM and AY. I remember Jo caught you at it and told the entire blog. I haven’t bothered with you since, not because of your political positions because I think you are dishonorable and kind of creepy.

  154. Elaine, Yes I did. However, while I was patient[you couldn’t do surveillance like I did for decades w/o a lot of patience] w/ them, I am less tolerant of people who purport to be superior to me and for whom I need to constantly repeat myself. Your excuses in the past has been your “busy day”. Well…you seem to be here all day, every day. In the private sector, where I spent the bulk of my career, there are no excuses. Either you produce or find another job. You obviously had another life experience. And all the info about dyslexia you just wrote doesn’t answer why you couldn’t read what I said!! If you are dyslexic just say it, and tell me what I can do to help communicate w/ you. Otherwise, stop wasting my time. This is the real world..not grammar school. Sink or swim.

  155. Bron,

    I think we know so little about how the human brain works. Unfortunately, schools are now being pressured to prep kids for standardized tests–to have children think in one way. We should be teaching children how to explore, to be creative, to look at things in different ways. I believe that schools can do that and still provide students with basic skills and knowledge.

    One of the most brilliant people I know has dyslexia. He is an in-law who is a most talented engineer.

  156. Biily Bob Thornton is dyslexic. Kinky Freidman wrote his bio for him.Thornton makes no excuses and he’s done quite well for himself. It’s a good read if you like Billy Bob and/or Kinky. I have nothing but respect for people who overcome disabilities. However, “Life is tough, wear a freakn’ helmet.” [Dennis Leary]

  157. Tony C only wanted Ron Paul because he did not like Obama. He is not being hypocritical.

    Tony C.

    Is this true????

    what would make you like Ron Paul over Obama?????

    I think Ron Paul looks great on the surface….. until you get into the CRAZY!!!!
    and he is really good at CRAZY!!!!

    I think I have agreed with Ron Paul TWICE in my life….

    once was the war…. war should not have been the answer in Iraq….

    and drugs…. if I remember correct, he thinks drugs should be legal….

    and that is far as my agreeing goes with Ron Paul….

  158. When I had to point out to you, on 2 or more occassions, things I said on your school voucher thread. You can look it up. I’m tired of carrying you.

  159. Ron Paul is going to get a lot of votes from the medical cannabis folks in California. They’re fed up w/ Holder and Obama for lying and closing down dispensaries. It won’t mean squat since Obama will win Ca., but they’re really pissed out there.

  160. Slarti,

    Put the results of your equations into chart/graph form … Pie or Bar or probably both.

    Raff is a lawyer … he’s bound to like Pie charts and Bar graphs.

    What’s that old joke? “This is a pie chart describing my favorite bars. And this is a bar graph describing my favorite pies.

  161. Bron,

    Mutation is mutation. Some are beneficial, most are not, but environment and survivability sort that out. On the autism spectrum though, for the high functioning like many of those with Asperger’s, it can be a gift but even then it comes with a cost. At the other end of the spectrum, there is nothing gift like about autism at all. It’s a horrific inability to connect to and understand the world around them that is frustrating, can create uncontrollable sometimes violent emotional states that can include self-harming behaviors. It’s pure curse.

    What interests me though are instances where there is a beneficial mutation going on and we are not quite sure what it is. Like in the case of Einstein. Some have thought he might have had Asperger’s too, but more than likely he was simply distracted and off in his own world. I don’t know if any research was done into his mirror neurons specifically postmortem and I don’t think you can (it’s a function that requires are living brain and something like an fMRI to image I’m fairly certain – I don’t think mirror neurons are physiologically distinct, only functionally distinct, but I could be wrong on that specific). However, I have read that Einstein had a higher than average neural density as shown by postmortem examination of his brain.

    I’d also like to know what effect(s) absence of information can have on mirror neurons.

    MRIs and fMRIs are amazing technology. They could and should be making breakthroughs linking neurophysiology, neurochemistry and psychology over the next 20 years that ought to revolutionize our understanding of the brain, therapeutic psychology, psychopharmacology, and the origin of consciousness. Exciting times.

  162. Elaine, my youngest has severe dyscalculia. Most people, even a lot of her teachers in school, had never heard of it. She had sixteen courses of chemotherapy before she was two years old. A real witch’s brew of Bleomycin, 5-FU, VP-16 and Cisplatin; all of which are known to cause learning disabilities when given to very young children. She displayed learning disabilities when she was little, so we had her tested by a top child psychologist at the age of six. He was very thorough, and after two days of testing told us she would probably learn to read to about the third grade and hit a brick wall. We saw to it she got the best tutoring and enrolled her in a private school that specialized in children with learning disabilities.

    When she got to the sixth grade, she started public school. She graduated high school with a regular, not special education, diploma. She now types 104 WPM, can fly an airplane, plays the bagpipes and is an expert marksman with a pistol. However, she has trouble counting change and doing even the simplest math. With her calculator, she is a whiz, but has trouble making change for a dollar with mixed denomination coins. She knew she could not do retail sales, so majored in Medical Office Management with a minor in Criminal Justice. The kid who was not supposed to learn to read just completed her Associate’s Degree on a full scholarship and plans to go on to the Bachelor’s Degree. She is a correctional officer and wants to be a patrol officer. If she sticks with it, I can see her eventually making Detective. No math required.

  163. nick,

    If you have such respect for dyslexics, why did you attempt to insult my intelligence by implying that I might be dyslexic?

    You don’t seem to have much respect for teaching or teachers. It’s a tough job. Not everyone can hack it.

    You seem to be a petty man–not happy unless you can denigrate or insult other people.

    Why do you so often try to steer our discussions away from a subject of real import?

  164. WOW!!!! That is fantastic…. YOU must be soooo PROUD….

    in reality… learning disabilities don’t have to hold you back…. which is exactly what your youngest proves…. :-)

    Seriously….. YOUR daughter is a FORCE!!!!

  165. Gyges
    1, August 22, 2012 at 8:05 pm
    ” I lost a shoe drinking tequila once…. ”

    That nothing, once I lost tequila drinking from a shoe.

    Perhaps you should try a shot glass next time…. :-)

  166. Otteray,

    That’s a terrific and uplifting story!

    I once had a little girl with Down’s syndrome who was a “take-charge” kind of kid. She didn’t let anybody push her around. She had a lot of self-confidence–thanks to her family. She had an amazing mother. The girl was quite a swimmer who competed in swim meets.

    The daughter of two of our good friends had a malignant brain tumor removed when she was two years old. The aftereffects of her treatments left her bald and learning disabled. Fortunately, she has a wonderful and supportive family and lots of caring friends.

  167. “when you used a sock-puppet and tried to escalate the trouble between SwM and AY”

    Think what you like but I wasnt trying to escalate the trouble.

  168. Romney’s Explanation for Everything, Explained
    By Charles P. Pierce
    8/22/12
    http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/mitt-romney-energy-plan-11944351

    On selected occasions, Willard Romney condescends to sum up his entire campaign for president in one pithy moment:

    During a Houston fundraiser, Romney told a room of about 125 donors that he planned to unveil his comprehensive energy plan this week. He said his proposal will specifically relate to fossil-based fuels. But then, he said no more. “I know that we have members of the media here right now, so I’m not going to go through that in great detail,” Romney said, according to a pool report from the event.

    Shhhh, dear, not in front of The Help.

  169. Elaine/raff,

    It may simply be avocation instead of vocation. Just because he’s a pathetic lil’ troll who wants to earn his bones by causing disruption doesn’t mean someone would pay him for it. As Blouise and several others have noted, he’s not very good at it, but the pattern is there. His motive being pay or simply maladaptive psychology is really irrelevant to what he is in his action. What he is in action is I think manifest: someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

  170. Elaine, I’m wiping the tears from laughing. I like that unlike historians, in blogs it’s all immediate and often real truths appear, there is no revisionism. Please read your first sentence “If you have…” Now, I seriously asked if you were dyslexic. I know dyslexia is not about intelligence, it’s about processing images. I spoke about Billy Bob Thornton and how much he’s achieved. Now read your sentence, in a Freudian way you show how YOU equate “insulting your intelligence by implying you’re dyslexic.”. Actually, I speak about dyslexia being a communication problem and if there was something I could do to help if you are dyslexic. Wow!!

  171. JAG,

    Stick around. It’s an interesting place that always has room for those interested in good conversation. Since you seem to fit that description, welcome.

  172. Gene,

    We’ve had some like him before–and we’ll have more in the future…I have no doubt Do you think his eyeballs spin in their sockets when he’s writing his comments?

  173. nick,

    At least be honest with yourself, nick. Your initial statement to Elaine:

    “Elaine, I say this w/ all seriousness, do you have a problem w/ dyslexia? READ MY WORDS!”

    doesn’t read like you were asking if you could do something to help.

  174. Elaine,

    I’m not sure about their eyes, but I think most of them in his weight class must use waterproof keyboards. Pardon my imprecision! I meant drool resistant keyboards.

  175. rafflaw,

    Tell Nick I haven’t been so busy these past few days because I have a vacation from my nanny granny duties this week. Do that for me, will ya? When I write comments to him, I can almost feel his spittle coming through the computer at me.

    ;)

  176. @Blouise & Gurl (&Bron): I am not a fan of Obama; I think he will win. I voted for Obama in our primary and general, but I became opposed to Obama when he turned out to be just as much a shredder of the Constitution as Bush was before him, and in many ways worse. Obama has proven to be a liar and a fraud; he did not build the most transparent administration ever (as he promised) he has built the most secretive, he did not close Guantanamo, he expanded the secret black bases instead, he laid out an entirely new code of law for trying “terrorists” that ensures they always lose and the government always wins. He has had American citizens put to death without trial or charges, he told us on camera he would not sign a health care bill without a public option, and immediately upon entering office held secret meetings with lobbyists for insurance companies and pharmaceuticals and promised them it would never happen, then sent Rahm Emanuel in person to recruit Joe Liebermann (he with the health-care industry lobbyist for a wife) to make damn sure the public option never passed the Senate. Speaking of lobbyists, he promised us no lobbyist would be on his staff, and immediately proceeded to surround himself with them. I have never seen any President, Democrat or Republican, not only break so many campaign promises, but do the exact opposite of their campaign promises.

    I do not care HOW crazy Ron Paul is, or how misogynistic, or how racist, I believe based on his actions that Ron Paul is a true Constitutionalist, and although any negatives he could accomplish would be tempered by a Congress in opposition to him, the good he could do as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive was the last hope of America to return to the rule of law, roll back the wars and corporate war profiteering, and end the drug wars. Any damage done to the social safety net would have been temporary, those are just laws that can be restored.

    Romney is no better than Obama, they belong to the same party: The lying corporatist shill party. I will not vote for either of them, I will vote for the Libertarian candidate as a protest vote. If Obama loses, then the silver lining will be that four years from now, Democrats, liberals and progressives will be awake again. Either way, whether Romney or Obama, 2016 may be too late to save us.

    I am sorry if the disillusions anybody, I am a pro-socialism, pro-capitalist liberal, but once the Constitution is wasted and the imperial dictatorial presidency is in place, the entire game is over. I thought Ron Paul could and would walk it back. I now think it is inevitable over the next four years, no matter who wins.

  177. O T … SwM is sending some fantastic pictures from Ireland … wish I could figure out how to post some of them for I’m sure you’all would love ’em.

  178. “I believe based on his actions that Ron Paul is a true Constitutionalist”

    Except for that pesky General Welfare Clause and the Establishment Clause and the 14th Amendment. Ron Paul is for parts of the Constitution and parts of it that sorrily need defense at the moment, however, he is not for all it. In fact, I think he would really damage some parts of it. The Constitution isn’t a buffet. You take the whole meal or you don’t.

    But we’ve had that discussion before, Tony.

  179. @Gene: Like in the case of Einstein. Some have thought he might have had Asperger’s too, but more than likely he was simply distracted and off in his own world.

    Like many autistics, Einstein did not start talking until he was four. Einstein’s brain was donated to science and examined immediately post-mortem and widely reported to be unremarkable; but that was an incompetent exam or propagandist report. A re-examination a decade later shows either a mutation or developmental anomaly in Einstein’s brain; specifically he is missing a particular fold in the brain that normally separates a visualization module from another module heavily used in typical people for the formulation of speech. It is speculated that at least some of Einstein’s ability may have been due to his visualization cortex appropriating more real-estate than is typical, at the expense of his speech acquisition.

    I will write a little about autism after dinner…

  180. Tony C.,

    Doesn’t disillusion me at all. I always knew your reasons for supporting Ron Paul and respect your opinion.

    In spite of that creepy Bron’s spin, my real surprise was with your comment “I still believe the progressive backlash is coming” which I didn’t know was an opinion you held. I try to read everything you write so if you have expressed that opinion before, I missed it.

    At any rate, I agree, which was all I was trying to say.

  181. Interesting, Tony. I had not read that, only about his neural density. That kind of mutation would go a long way to explaining why he was so adept at theoretical physics: he could better visualize thought experiments.

  182. Gene, we have had some interesting trolls, but I think Brent Waller was in a class all by himself. I wonder if he ever got a visit from a couple of unsmiling gentlemen in dark suits? He was headed in that direction when he bailed on us.

  183. OS,

    I would not be surprised at all if Mr. Waller did get that visit. Given his general disposition, I can imagine that conversation going rather poorly for Ol’ Brent. Some people just don’t know when to stop.

  184. “Perhaps you should try a shot glass next time…. :-)”

    If it’s one thing I’ve learned from the German’s it’s by the time someone suggests drinking from footwear, the party’s too far gone for things like shot glasses.

    Echoing Gene, hope you stick around.

    Gene, Elaine, etc.

    I notice the absence of one particular malcontent who preferred to remain nameless. Did our newest angry friend show up to fill those particular rage filled shoes at about the same time?

  185. I have a VERY FUNNY story regarding drinking from footwear….

    My brother in law is in TV here in Sweden…
    Of being in TV, they get to meet some rather colorful people…

    Anyway… my brother in laws name is Andre…

    he was invited to a Counts Birthday party…
    so as a gift…. he bought him a pair of shoes…
    the story goes that it was a pair of shoes that Elvis once owned….
    Tho, I can’t confirm that as of right now…

    anyway… the party get’s going and the Count removes his shoe and pours
    Champagne into the rather new handmade shoe and offers it to my brother in law….

    Andre procedes to remove his shoe…. a Doc Martin boot…. :-)

    Fills it with Champagne and hands it to the Count and offers a rather drunken Toast….. :-)

    YES… this is a TRUE story….

    Tho, Andre is much better at telling it, than I am….

  186. Gyges….

    I have to agree, Germans do know how to party….
    So do Swedes for that matter….

    Heck… Europeans in General are fun to party with….

    they tend to let lose a bit more than Americans….

  187. Elaine, Whether you’re bright enough to pick it up, people are seeing you’re inabilty to simply read and respond is a real problem. They may not like me, some despise me, but they’re puzzled by your lack of lucid response and basic 4th grade reading comprehension. Only Emporer Gene is trying to cover for you. I’ve hurled no insults @ you tonight and you overcompensate by hurling comments like “spittle on his computer.” I’m telling you woman, folks are wondering about you..they may dislike me, but they’re wondering about you. What about trophy wives, I’ve asked a couple times; I’m really sensing something very personal about that issue?

  188. Now that was rather uncalled for….

    It is ONE thing for you to go on about what you think Nick…

    BUT, to drag others into your BS is just…. CHILDISH…

    I see no such person wondering about Elaine…

    IN fact, quite the opposite…..

  189. justagurl…
    He is one of those…what do you call it when you stick your finger with a pin? One of those.

  190. ONE thing I learned a LONG time ago….

    YOU can’t argue with CRAZY….

    there is a saying….

    “never wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

    George Bernard Shaw

  191. @Gene: What I wanted to say about Autism is related to the recent epidemic of it; cases of autism are growing at a compound rate for several years now. It is currently being diagnosed for 1 in 54 boys; and 1 in 252 girls, and the growth rate is unrelated to any greater awareness or willingness to diagnose the disease.

    Genetically born diseases do not grow exponentially year-by-year or even decade by decade; if they grow at all it is on a generational time scale (20-25 years). Which means that if it is a problem with the development with mirror neurons (and it isn’t for most cases) it is not a genetic inheritance problem, but an environmental exacerbation problem, that is growing. In two studies, the incidence of autism has been linked to the concentrations of atmospheric heavy metals due to industrialization. In another study, the hair of about half of autistic children has been shown to contain far LESS lead and mercury than that of their parents or non-autistic siblings.

    Since the hair is one of the “waste dumps” of the immune system for heavy metals (the others being fecal, urinary, ear wax, tears and sweat), this suggests that at least one of the causes of autism is a deranged mineral transport system, which also happens to be one of the weakest immune sub-systems. There is a production system for molecules with an attachment site for heavy metals, but the production system is fragile during development, and if it gets screwed up the attachment sites can be malformed and perform poorly or not at all.

    Thus one of the hypothesis that fits the facts known for the rising incidence of autism is that the children are increasingly ending up with malformed immune systems due to an unidentified environmental pollutant the mothers are absorbing during pregnancy, this leaves them with a deranged mineral transport system that cannot eliminate heavy metals, and so these just accumulate in their brain and tissues, and cause developmental disorders due to lead and mercury poisoning.

    Whether that interferes with the development of mirror neurons, and thus interferes with their development of a theory of mind, is an open question; but the rising epidemic is almost certainly due to an environmental culprit, not genetics. It is virtually certain that genetics DO play a role in other forms of autism or mental developmental disorder, but we would expect that to remain a constant proportion of the population; or perhaps be correlated with the ages of parents, but statistically that does not explain the exponential increase in the incidence of autism, its correlation with heavy metal pollutants, or the missing heavy metals in the hair of half of our autistics.

  192. Tony,
    To expand on your thesis. Mirror neurons are found mostly in the prefrontal lobes of the brain. In brain development, the frontal area and the tertiary areas on the sides of the parietal areas of the brain are last to develop. The brain in a normal person is not fully formed until sometime in the twenties. That accounts for the fact that many people often do not fully mature until as late as their late twenties, although in most people it is a few years earlier. We know from research that in autistics and psychopaths, these areas are underdeveloped, if they develop at all. What do psychopaths and autistic people have in common? Lack of ability to feel empathy–the ability to “get inside” another person’s feelings. We are in the early stages of mirror neuron research, but what has been found so far is promising. It is within the realm of reason that once the problem is identified, we can begin working on treatments. Stem cells come to mind first off, but that is way off in the future, so we will have to wait and see.

    The bad news is that tertiary brain cells are among the most fragile and easily damaged. The example I give when testifying before juries is they follow the principle of, “Last hired, first fired.” They are the most easily injured due to disease or closed head injury.

  193. Tony,

    One of my best friends has a son with Asperger’s and is a psychiatric social worker so she’s fairly well read on the subject of autism. She and I were discussing the increasing incidence in the general population one night and of course the topic of environmental toxicity came up. She’s not a sci-fi reader or watcher, so I told her about Nerve Attenuation Syndrome (NAS) or “the Black Shakes”, a fictional disease (not in the original William Gibson short story) created for the (really bad) film Johnny Mnemonic. In the film, famously wooden Keanu Reeves plays Johnny and an underground doctor named Spider is played by indie rocker (and surprisingly good poet) Henry Rollins. They have the following exchange:

    Johnny Mnemonic: Yeah, the Black Shakes. What causes it?
    Spider: What causes it?
    [points to various pieces of equipment throughout the room]
    Spider: This causes it! This causes it! This causes it! Information overload! All the electronics around you poisoning the airwaves. Technological f*cking civilization. But we still have all this shit, because we can’t live without it. Let me do my work.

    Her conclusion was (and mine is) much like yours regarding autism and Spider’s regarding NAS. In the end, the cause is likely to be a genetic predisposition made worse by a wide variety of environmental factors traceable to technological civilization. It’s a troubling trend that promises to have severe consequences for society if left unchecked.

  194. Tony/Slarti/OS,

    OT: We’ve talked about cosmology and the Big Bang before so I thought I’d share this when I stumbled across it. A very interesting idea. Instead of a Big Bang where an infinitely dense point of energy expanded outward, consider the Big Bang as a phase change where spacetime “crystallized” from a liquid. They say the math works out, but it is an interesting enough idea that I’m going to see what else is out there on this theory.

  195. @Gene: I am also quite familiar with the literature, scams, and misinterpretations.

    I do not think electronic technology has much to do with it at all, but I do think biological technology and a lack of regulatory oversight (or incompetent oversight, or corrupt oversight) has everything to do with it.

    Autism diagnosis was up 78% from 2002 to 2008, six years, a compound rate of 10% growth per year. It is up ten-fold in the last 40 years, a compound rate of 5.9% per year. The ratio of those numbers suggest an accelerating rate.

    My suspicion is that we (in America) are putting hormones and toxins and medicines and pesticides into our food (both animals and plants, to protect them from infection, disease, and predation), into our water, into our air, into products that we inadvertently ingest or absorb through our skin.

    How about the antibiotics and penicillin and growth hormones found in about 90% of cheeses sold in grocery stores? How about the traces of fifty kinds of medications found in tap water? How about the molecular traces of “non-stick” surfaces we incorporate into our food every time we fry a burger or an egg?

    The statistics we use to test for toxicity are statistically invalid. For one, they can really only test things in isolation; not combination. Combination testing is just impractical. Second, people vary and widely, there can be a tenfold change in sensitivity between two people, and everybody has varied immune system exposures, failures, and antibodies. We do not have that many animal models to test against; all of the tests are for “typical” people within a few standard deviations. For the mathematically minded, most of the tests even assume the wrong statistical distribution for the target population, they assume a normal distribution when the actual most prevalent distributions in biology and medicine are fat-tailed distributions; so they wildly overestimate the safety. In short, we are flying blind, and one of the ways we are seeing those fat-tails in distribution is that what was supposed to be something like a 0.1% adverse reaction rate is looking like a 1% or 2% adverse reaction rate: 1 in 54 boys, 1 in 252 girls.

    Electromagnetics can cause cancer, but to me are a low probability target as the source of autism. The prevalence and association with airborne pollution in industrialized cities suggests to me two things:

    1) If you are finding molecular lead and mercury in the air, there are a thousand other things in the air being inhaled, mixed, and circulating in the blood stream.

    2) If you are finding high levels of molecular lead and mercury in the air, WTF? Why are we letting that continue? That suggests to me incompetence and corruption of regulation. Or at least complacency in the face of disaster, much like George Bush’s response to Katrina. (Helluva job, Brownie.)

    So I agree it is a result of living in a modernized society, but I think the cause is basically being drowned by a constant assault of biologically active pollutants, medicines, preservatives and chemicals that cumulatively can have an effect on fetal development. 98% of us are robust enough to handle it, and 2% are not and end up permanently damaged because of it.

    To me, it is yet another case of the government failing to protect the weakest members of society from the strongest.

  196. Tony,

    I wasn’t making the argument for electronics directly, merely showing the analogy used in another discussion to illustrate technological society has bearing on the issue of causes of autism.

  197. @Gene: An interesting approach with the phase change big bang; I suppose we will wait and see if it is capable of explaining anything new.

    I guess I would have to wonder exactly what it means for a “change” to occur if time itself is product of that change. Imagination fails me, if time is an effect or result of a cause, what does it mean for the effect to “precede” the cause without the existence of time? What is causality in the absence of time? What does it mean for something to “change” in the absence of time?

    Of course this is the problem with all origin theories; my imagination fails me when trying to process states that lack time or space.

  198. Tony,

    For the purposes of the phase change model, might I suggest the following:

    Before the phase change, time behaves like a liquid. Its structure is amorphous and non-linear. Entropy does not exist. Everything happens at once. Because of the infinite density, everything is happening at the same place.

    After the phase change, when “crystallization” occurs, time has structure (space) and direction that is tied to its growth (entropy). Things no longer happen all at once in the same place. The phase change itself is integrally tied to the introduction of entropy. Time is no longer amorphous and space, no longer bound to a point, becomes relativistic.

    I think the idea has a certain intriguing elegance to it. It also implies that another end may await other than the heat death of the universe. Once entropy plays out, contraction would not be contingent upon gravity but rather upon time undergoing a phase change again to “become liquid”. When time is amorphous and everything is happening at once again, making it happen in the same place becomes a considerably different proposition than relying upon gravity to do the trick. This is, of course, supposition at this point with me not having time to look into the details of the idea. It just seems like the natural consequences of such a model, but I could be wrong. If I’m not, then the cyclical model may have considerable new life in it by this proposal.

  199. Some quickies… (I’m still working on the math…)

    Gene,

    Thanks for trying to talk me down. I will note that the Huffpo article doesn’t necessarily invalidate my theory as it doesn’t address the aspect of motivating the Republican base. Also there is the question of the audience of both articles and who these information (or propaganda? Is all information dissemination propaganda or just most of it?) channels are reaching with what effect. I still think this is a hail Mary—it doesn’t work very often, but occasionally one comes through…

    Regarding cosmology: I’ll take a look at the article later and probably have something (hopefully not too stupid… ;-) ) to say about it.

    Regarding NAS (I’ll always have a soft spot for Keanu for his role as Ted “Theodore” Logan… intellectually I can admit that the movie was bad [I’ve never read Johnny Mnemonic or I’m sure I would hate it unconditionally…], emotionally I kind of liked it): I think Tony is a little off base looking at “biological” toxins—the overwhelmingly largest source of new toxins, in my opinion*, is chemical, not biological.

    * Having spent 5 years as a postdoc in a lab studying environmental toxins, I actually have some small expertise on this issue… and it scares the hell out of me.

  200. Slarti,

    ” I will note that the Huffpo article doesn’t necessarily invalidate my theory as it doesn’t address the aspect of motivating the Republican base.”

    Good. It wasn’t meant to invalidate but inform and as you note, it’s not just a matter of information control but motivation. As to information versus propaganda, the distinction is whether the information is tailored to be more (or less) persuasive than data in a raw or minimally processed form. Information is cloth, but propaganda is in the tailoring. ;)

  201. Gene,

    Just a thought: Is propaganda defined by intention or effect (or both)? I’ve had some experiences where I told extraordinarily effective lies by telling the truth in a way that wouldn’t be believed (emulating an experiment by my role model, Richard Feynman). What about when someone is trying to convey information accurately, but the target is getting a corrupted version due to their own internal biases?

  202. Slarti,

    “Is propaganda defined by intention or effect (or both)?”

    I think you have to stick with intention. 1) That’s where the manipulation comes in and 2) effect can really only be used as a metric inseparably tied to outcomes as a measure of success or failure at manipulation.

    “What about when someone is trying to convey information accurately, but the target is getting a corrupted version due to their own internal biases?”

    This is a matter of tailoring a message to suit an audience. A certain amount of noise is going to get into communication since it is done through the abstraction of thought that is language in combination with visuals or raw/minimally interpreted data of some sort. A speaker can only compensate so much for an audience’s inherent biases. For example, I hate Nazis and fascists. There is no amount of spin you could give to put them in a positive light with me as an audience. However, if accuracy is your primary driver, your only true option without putting spin on it, is to present the data 1) as accurately as possible and as neurally as possible while 2) attempting to cover accurately, neutrally and dispassionately any objections someone with the biases of the audience might have. Any attempt at spin might be detected and play into the bias, aggravating the problem. Consider the Nazi/fascist example. If I detect apologetics or attempts to directly lie about their nature designed to get me to have a positive reaction toward them from a speaker, it not only inflames my bias against the subject – Nazis and fascists – but activates a negative bias directly against the speaker thus creating a double hurdle to my acceptance of Nazis and fascists in a positive light.

    Does that answer your question(s)?

  203. Gene said: “Does that answer your question(s)?”

    I’m just getting started…

    BWA-ha-ha-HA-ha!!!!!

    p.s. to Blouise: You were right—I really do need to speak about this in the language of math (and Gene’s comment made me realize why—you can’t propagandize* in the language of mathematics, making it an objective medium for such a discussion).

  204. Slarti,

    You are correct in your observation about mathematics and propaganda with the exception of statistics which can be (and are) manipulated and are somewhat malleable by how the sampling is set up. Good statistical analysis is invaluable. Bad statistical analysis is worse than useless, it’s damaging.

  205. and the crazy just keeps coming…..

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/22/tom-head-texas-obama_n_1822003.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular

    This is Propaganda at its best….

    According to Head, the president is seeking to sign a variety of United Nations treaties that will effectively take precedent over domestic law.

    “He’s going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N., and what is going to happen when that happens?” Head asked. “I’m thinking the worst. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. And we’re not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations, we’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy.”

    Head continued, delving deeper into his hypothesis and claiming that he was prepared to join the hypothetical resistance.

    “Now what’s going to happen if we do that, if the public decides to do that? He’s going to send in U.N. troops. I don’t want ’em in Lubbock County. OK. So I’m going to stand in front of their armored personnel carrier and say, ‘You’re not coming in here,'” the judge said. “And the sheriff, I’ve already asked him, I said, ‘You gonna back me?’ He said, ‘Yeah, I’ll back you.’ Well, I don’t want a bunch of rookies back there. I want trained, equipped, seasoned veteran officers to back me.”

  206. @Slart: I do not think I said “biological toxins,” I said “biologically active pollutants, medicines, preservatives and chemicals.”

    So I think we are on the same page. Overall I am talking about the increased level of non-living pollution we are exposed to, with more thought I would have added pesticides, detergents, sealants, repellents, lubricants, aerosols, etc. But I think you get the idea; there are so many already, and still increasing, that Murphy’s Law (If anything can go wrong it will) is becoming increasingly true in fetal and infant development.

  207. @Gurl: First, it isn’t going to happen, and second, if it did happen, then as Al Capone noted, 99% of men like to talk big before they back down. In other words, I wonder what the good judge and sheriff would do when that hypothetical armored personnel carrier drives forward anyway, and returns fire.

  208. I’m way behind on this blog so sorry for skipping back to an earlier point…

    Bron,

    I’m interested in your remark that conservatives have not been doing enough thinking. That strikes me as a very odd thing to say as it seems to me the most successful and effective think tanks are conservative and very conservative: Cato, Heritage and AEI.

    Do liberals have similar institutions that I don’t know about?

  209. Curious:

    The rank and file, we dont spend enough time with ideas.

    I think so, the Brooking Inst., the Manhattan Inst., those are the ones which come to mind.

    But Cato is libertarian and I think most of what you would call conservative think tanks have a more libertarian bent.

    Libertarian per se is not anarchy, the anarchy wing of libertarianism got started sometime in the 70’s under Murray Rothbard. At least that is my understanding.

    The word libertarian was, I believe, used to differentiate between the classical liberals, which libertarians are, from the neo-liberals who are more properly called progressives.

  210. Tony,

    Waaay beyond my pay grade here but intuitively I question your idea that we only advance through progressive ideas. That just seems much too simplistic and rote to me.

    What if it turns out that democracy is really a lousey way to govern and one day, some country finds themselves a terrific philospher king and they get rid of democracy and live happily ever after – or for two hundred years or so?

    It strikes me that I am losing faith in democracy. Every day this damn blog is telling me about corrupt, ignorant, greedy, selfish authoritarian citizens at every level of our society. I am just about convinced that we are going to have a very bad outcome in November. And it will be bcause a MAJORITY of our citizens want it that way! Malisha just about destroyed me with her story of a rapist gaining custody of his child. Now we have judges wanting us to be armed against the UN. Is this Progressive?

    I’ve probably just jumped the shark, but what about my starting point? Is conservatisim always bad? Is liberality always good?

  211. Bron,

    Brookings and Manhattan aren’t Nearly as effective as Heritage and AEI. And I’m not so certain that I would call Brookings terribly ‘liberal’ and don’t know enough about Manhattan to judge. But my point is – conservatives have been doing heck of a lot of thinking and damned effective thinking – from Heritage to people who now populate school boards – they’re thinking and they are winning the arguments.

  212. Curious:

    we dont have a pure democracy, we have representative democracy.

    But in any event I think you need a moral population for representative government to work. People need a proper philosophy for life.

    We had philosopher kings in this country once; Washington, Madison, Adams, Jefferson, et al. But they were brought up in a different time with a much different educational system. They learned the classics in the original languages or at least Latin. And that was the norm.

    How many people do you know personally who can read Cicero’s On Verres in the Latin? How many people do you know personally who even know who Cicero is let alone Verres? I am talking college educated people.

    I know one for sure, Mespo [here in this blog] but other than maybe Gene H and I doubt he knows Latin, I dont think there are any at least who you would call a regular [on this blog and these are some educated people].

    So I dont think there are very many people anymore who would qualify for your philosopher king. What we have are technical managers who apparently arent all that bright.

  213. @Curious: Is conservatisim always bad? Is liberality always good?

    No to the first, and No to the second.

    I am arguing based on the definition of the word, “conservative.” Conservatives wish to preserve the status quo or return to an earlier status quo. Conservatives are traditionalists.

    What is your definition of “progress,” in a societal sense, that also means keeping things the same or reverting to more traditional practices?

    Progress, in the societal sense, involves making changes that give people greater freedom or power than they currently have. One example would be permitting gay marriage, another would be legalizing marijuana. (Note marijuana used to be entirely legal, but we would not characterize that legal status as “traditional” in any sense.)

    A person that identifies himself as a “conservative” is not BEING conservative if they advocate for social policy that is untraditional or is not the current status quo, such as legalizing marijuana.

    A person that identifies themselves as “progressive” is not BEING progressive if they advocate for social policy that is traditional; for example by arguing against gay marriage.

    As Gene said, conservatism has its place as a braking mechanism. Progressivism promotes new ideas, but not all new ideas are great ideas, even if they appear to be on the surface, they can have unintended consequences. Which means, sometimes the conservatives are right. Further I do not want to imply they are blindly right; sometimes conservatives make valid arguments for negative consequences, which progressives ignore or rationalize away, but the conservatives are right and the negative consequences DO come to pass. In such a case, the conservative wishing to undo the new status quo and return to the pre-decision past is also right.

    Nevertheless, social progress is a result of doing something new that works and it is the progressives that, by definition, supply those ideas.

    The only “new” ideas that conservatives supply are ideas to help return society to a traditionalist state, like giving their religion the power of the state to compel respect or criminalize blasphemy, or inventing voter ID to disenfranchise the poor and elderly. Their “new” ideas remove power and rights from people, and this is because the traditionalist view is an authoritarian, patriarchal view.

    Progressives are not always right, nobody is infallible or prescient. But social progress is made on those occasions when they ARE right.

  214. Curious:

    you might be right. But I think you have to make a distinction between religious conservatives and non-religious or keep religion out of politics conservatives.

    Personally I think the religious conservatives are not a good thing, the evangelicals, the Family Research types. They are totalitarian in nature and believe in a definite hierarchy. They are not egalitarian in the sense that all men have equal worth. I think they have tendencies toward narcissism. The Tony Robbins Christians or Joel Osteen Christians. The Jesus will make you rich Christians.

    They are a bad bunch. They are the ones who tried to pass that vaginal probe law in Virginia.

  215. Thanks, Blouise, what Tony said and my Latin is stumblingly passable but hardly fluent, Bron (a work in progress – with reference I can read texts but if I had to talk my way out of trouble with a Centurion, I might be in trouble).

  216. @Curious: Democracy IS a lousy way to govern, it is just less lousy than other ways.

    The problem with kings, philosophers or otherwise, is that nobody lives forever and thus they are replaced, and the person that replaces them is most likely to be of average intelligence and average morality with an average level of resistance to impulse or temptation. Over generations, we will stray into the tail of an extreme value distribution (EVD), running across kings that are well below average in intelligence, morality, or their resistance to temptation.

    We need a form of government that will withstand the tests of extreme stupidity, extreme selfishness and extreme disregard for the pain or suffering of others. It is logically impossible to do that if all of the power rests in the hands of a single person; sooner or later the new king is a psychopath with an army behind him (or her).

    One attempt at that is democracy. My personal opinion is that our founders made a fatal mistake in establishing a unitary executive. It is simply not necessary, not in business and not in politics, and in both it provides a focal point where power will accumulate and eventually be abused. That is what has finally happened to us, I believe, we are well on the way to having an imperial presidency that is above the law.

    The smarter option, in my opinion, is a majority vote board, like our Supreme Court but without any Chief. I do not believe there are any decisions, at that level, that cannot wait for a board vote; and even if there are I believe there are ways to deal with that issue. The powers the founding fathers gave to the Presidency, such as veto, appointment, CIC, Chief Executive, etc can all be equally well executed by a board, or by an appointee of the board that remains subordinate to it (like a cabinet member or agency head). If the board is large enough, such a form guards against extremism.

    The truth is that nobody has to be in charge, nobody has to have the final decision to themselves, nobody has to be the face of the nation or the final “decider.”

    We see this work every day, in our groups of friends or siblings: At least in the groups I belong to, nobody has any authority to compel anybody to do anything, yet we continue to be a group and agree on things to do. I have been a member of a successful company (which we eventually sold) that was run the same way, by a group of equal partners, none of whom had final authority.

  217. Also, I disagree with your characterization of progressives as neoliberals. Neoliberalism is a label for economic liberalizations such as free trade, open markets, supporting privatization of state-owned enterprises, deregulation of markets, and promotion of the private sector’s role in society. Neoliberalism is a term usually applied to the Chicago School and, your favorite, the Austrian School of Economics. Libertarians, despite their claims of classical liberalism, are nothing of the sort and are neoliberals.

    Most of the self-identifying progressives I know are classical liberals with syncretic ideology geared toward functionality, regulated free markets, responsiveness in government to the needs of the people instead of the dictates of corporatism and improving the state of democracy by either holding representatives accountable (both civilly and criminally) for their actions and/or by moving more toward direct democracy, but they are not neoliberals.

  218. Ginger,

    “Every day this damn blog is telling me about corrupt, ignorant, greedy, selfish authoritarian citizens at every level of our society.”

    These foibles have existed under any model of government, philosopher kings included. It is the human condition.

  219. To the point Tony made about the “unitary executive”, I believe it was Franklin who favored a three-person presidential committee rather than a single president. He was suspicious of a strong centralized president.

    His response to the proposal to have a one-man president, “The government is likely to be well-administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism.”

  220. Tony

    Re Judge seeking funds to repel UN invasion.

    I am not comforted because we know it is not going to happen. The problem is that there are so many Americans who believe it will happen. And they VOTE.

  221. Tony,

    Thanks for adding to your discussion regarding conservatives, It’s bizarre that I should come to their defense as I can’t think of a single conservative idea with which I agree, but I’ve got Burke (unread but for a chapter or two) sitting on my shelf and it seemed careless to just toss him away.

    I don’t share your distain for Obama although I agree he has made many mistakes and fear we will wind up in a very bad place no matter who wins. And I also find myself in the same emotional place I was back in ’08 – why would anyone want this thankless job.

    Thanks Gene and everyone for a most engaging coversation. I can’t remember who, but somebody here mentioned Richard Feynman. What I wouldn’t have given for a week in Rio with him! Maybe if only I had that crazy tattoo you guys found so hilarious…

  222. Curious,

    I was the one who mentioned Feynman and spending a week in Rio with him is what I’d do if I had a TARDIS… I don’t think that you want to get the tattoo, though—he would probably see all of the mistakes right off.

  223. @Gene: My TARDIS is broken, dammit, and I am stuck in this pit until I can make parts and get back to civilization.

  224. @Blouise: I had not heard that about Franklin; I should read more. Three might do it. I was thinking to follow Dr. Turley’s suggestion for the Supreme Court: 19.

  225. @Curious: No need to throw any books away, it does a mind good to read even somebody you disagree with; you get the exercise and practice of finding flaws in their arguments and honing your own reasons for why you disagree. At least until they start getting repetitive.

    It is good practice for when you read somebody you DO agree with, because you should be able to spot the holes in THEIR arguments, too.

  226. Tony/Blouise,

    Unlike changing the Court’s composition, creating a plural Presidency would require Constitutional amendment. Art. II, Sec. 1 states “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” (emphasis added) I think the idea of plural Presidency has a lot of merit, presents some interesting possible complications and has a nearly insurmountable political problem in being passed in a time when the corrupt pols from both sides are pushing for a unitary Executive.

  227. Speaking of TARDIS, my granddaughter says one of the things on her bucket list is to knit an exact copy of the Fourth Doctor’s scarf. She loves it.

    She is only twenty and a polymath.

  228. I have been in favor of Franklin’s “committee” idea since I was a junior in high school and first learned about it in civics.

    The problem in the 1780’s was much the same as it is now; failure within the collective imagination of the governed to move beyond the father (expanded to mother in some cultures) figure as ruler/care-giver/provider/add your own description.

    Those who might have agreed with Franklin in principle felt that General Washington as sole President was necessary to bring the young nation together under this Constitutional experiment and lead it forward … a father figure who wasn’t a monarch, if you will.

    I believe the committee plan would have worked just as well as long as Washington was one of the original committee members but as far as I can tell (a Washington scholar will correct me) he, Washington, did not agree with Franklin.

    Perhaps at the end of his 2 terms he had changed his mind. ;)

    I have long considered the unitary executive and the Three-Fifths Compromise to have been the 2 greatest mistakes made by the Founders … building ultimate failure into the document.

    (Franklin’s role in the Connecticut Compromise makes interesting reading.)

  229. Tony,

    All intentional? So widely heralded Day 1 #1 Executive Order to close Guantanamo was a very clever plan between O and Mitch and OrangeMan to have it APPEAR that Congress was blocking the necessary funding to close Guantanamo while in reality O thought it would be a triumphant beginning for his administration?.

    Tony – that’s a leap too far.for me.

  230. Once again I’m odd man out. There’s support for the “committee” idea and all I can think of is Simpson-Bowles or that other failed commission that the deadful Walliston was on that blamed everything on Frannie and Freddy.

  231. @Curious: I doubt Guantanamo is an exception. I think it was just political theater, the order was given in January of 2009 and gave the military a year to close it. That should have been January of 2010. So, you think the military is disobeying a direct order from the Commander in Chief? The same Commander in Chief that has the right to summarily dismiss, or have arrested and tried for treason, any officer that disobeys his direct order?

    And pleeaaassse, do not tell me about ‘congress withholding funds,’ you would have to be a child to buy that excuse. Obama can (and has) spent billions of dollars of military money on black ops, like bribing Afghani political families and warlords, without any congressional approval at all. Guantanamo is a Military Base. He has certainly managed to open at least two OTHER black site bases without Congressional approval or funding, he just declares them SECRET and Congress dares not do anything about it. if Obama gives an order to the military it is executed, no matter what the cost, and that means Guantanamo is NOT closed by his order and because that is what he wants.

    He may have to compromise or accept defeat when it comes to public laws in Congress, but I have been in the military, and the President is firmly in control of it and everything they do, they could abandon Guantanamo in a week if he gave the order to bug out.

    This is the President that asserts the right to assassinate American citizens on American soil without charge or trial, that asserts the right to conduct wars in foreign countries without Congressional approval or vote, that asserts the right to rewrite the rules of courts so anybody he accuses of “terrorism” is sure to stay in prison for life.

    He doesn’t give a crap about the letter of the law, not even the Constitution. And on top of that, troop assignments are his Constitutional right and the funds to do that are in the general budget of the military, and are already appropriated. Obama could order everybody off that base with a phone call and a direct order to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Do you really think he would let Congress undermine his Constitutional authority to command the military?

    There is no effective difference between closing Guantanamo and abandoning it, or leaving it “open” with just a security detail in place. It remains open because Obama wants it open. Whatever political theater was going on with that executive order was just like his lying on-camera statements about “I will not sign a health care bill without a public option” when he had already thrown it under the bus.

    I do not know what political advantage that got him, I imagine he used it as leverage for some other negotiation, and made it public to raise the stakes and ensure it would not be taken as an empty threat, and what he received in return was worth the price of appearing weak. This is not “conspiracy” theory, I do not think there is any conspiracy or collusion, I think there is one man, Obama, that operates without any principles or morality whatsoever.

  232. @Curious: The question isn’t whether the committee is bulletproof, nothing is. Groups of any size can make bad decisions, or self-serving decisions, or be swept up and convinced by a charlatan like Ayn Rand.

    There is good scientific (statistical) evidence from psychology however that groups, when organized in a way that avoids individual dominance and encourages debate and sharing of information, are smarter than any of their members.

    More importantly, if all committee members are equal and are not selected and appointed by any one individual, there is a low probability of a committee being extremely one-sided.

    The committee you are talking about was selected, and was skewed to the far right by the selector, Barack Obama, presumably for more political theater to boost his profile and make people think he was trying something new, or political cover for something he wanted done, or as a political favor (national exposure and attention for the members). Perhaps all three. I have no doubt they failed by design, just as the public option failed by design: We now know that was thrown under the bus from the beginning, but drawn out as a fund-raising chimera for both sides.

    I imagine Simpson-Bowles was the same; I do not imagine it was ever supposed to do anything real, they needed 14 of 18 votes to pass anything (78%). My presumption is, since the members were chosen to focus on cutting the safety net (it was called the “cat food” commission), part of the intent was a propagandistic attempt to stir up Democratic voters in 2010. Notice they took their vote on December 3rd, after the elections were all final, and quietly left the stage without further ado.

    Democrats lost big in 2010, but did at least retain control of the Senate, so I am not sure how effective this was. But (as a poker metaphor) I’d say it was chips in the pot, maybe losses would have been worse without it.

    My real point is that any committee chosen by an individual can be skewed to any point of view the individual wants to be prominent, for his own purposes. It cannot be expected to have the robustness or integrity of a committee chosen by the public.

  233. Tony,

    I’ll hold open the possibility that I am naive but I’m not buying the Guantanamo package. The rest of the package was opening a new hold ’em forever federal prison in the states (IL) for the terrorists they couldn’t release and hold the trial for KSM in New York. Was that also part of his plan?

    And getting Congressional approval to open a black site is a whole lot different than closing Guantanamo. Hell, I could convince this Congress to open a 20 black sites! Sandra Fluke could probably get approval. We LOVE building black sites, installing rings of missile sites, building outer space missile shields. ,Opening them is no problem. Closing one 90 miles from Miami with Fox and 300 crazy congressional Republicans screaming that we all would be murdered in our beds is quite another.

    The power of the purse is Illusionary? Well I guess I can stop worrying about extended unemployment benefits , Pell grants, and food stamps. And as to the “robustness or integrity of a committee chosen by the public” , I give you the school board of Lubbuck, Texas.

    Yes, Tony, I may be naive, but I don’t yet believe in a president can fund programs with a magic wand and I don’t call political losses, wins.

  234. @Curious: Obama did not “get Congress to open a black site,” he did that without any congressional approval at all, as Commander in Chief. This seems to be a sticking point with you, you fail to understand that once the military budget is approved, Obama can do pretty much whatever the hell he wants with it. The intelligence agencies routinely lie to congress, both explicitly and by omission. When it comes to military action, YES, the power of the purse is illusory. Once they approve a military budget they are done, they do not get micro-management authority on anything.

    Curious says: I don’t call political losses, wins.

    Neither do I, but I do not believe something is a loss just because it appears to be. Like I said, if Obama the CiC wanted Guantanamo closed it would be closed. He could “fund” the closing with military pocket change. He may yet do that in the next few months to boost his approval rating, ship the Guantanamo residents to other black sites and reassign the people at Guantanamo elsewhere, even TO those other black sites.

    What do you imagine could stop him? Congress doesn’t get to approve every order of the CiC, every movement of troops OR military prisoners. Guantanamo Bay and its prisoners are Obama’s to manage as he will. Every general and Admiral in the military serves at Obama’s pleasure and can be retired upon his command. If Obama wanted GB closed, it would BE closed, and that means his claims to the contrary are just lies you have bought because you are gullible.

  235. He may have to compromise or accept defeat when it comes to public laws in Congress, but I have been in the military, and the President is firmly in control of it and everything they do, they could abandon Guantanamo in a week if he gave the order to bug out.

    ————————————————————————————

    and if he did….. it would be political suicide…. The Right wing is VERY GOOD at twisting the truth….

    fact is/….. his hands have been tied since day ONE!!!!
    this is EXACTLY what the GOP wanted….. and even was so bold as to admit this in 2010….

  236. @Curious: I give you the school board of Lubbuck, Texas.

    I believe that is Lubbock, and they are elected by a right-wing constituency (I assume, I haven’t been there), and do what I would expect of such a committee, carry out the wishes of their constituency. That is the point of having a committee, you want it to approximate the sense of its electorate.

    Of course if the electorate is composed of gullible fools raised to put biblical fantasy above reason and evidence, the committee will represent that foolishness too.

  237. @Gurl: and if he did….. it would be political suicide…

    I do not believe that is so, but even if it is true, you are just saying he puts his political career above his principles, and above his explicit promises as a Candidate of what he would do. So aren’t we saying the same thing, that he operates without principle? Or do you consider it a valid principle that anything can be sacrificed in the name of reelection?

    Closing Guantanamo or restoring the rule of law would not have gotten Obama impeached, the Congress and Senate of 2009 would never have allowed that to happen, he was their guy. Impeachment was not on the table for Obama, ever, not even after 2010. So he was ALWAYS going to serve his four years.

    There was no “political suicide” downside, at worst he would not get reelected. If you were worried about Obamacare, that was signed by Obama in March of 2010, he could have closed Guantanamo the next week.

    His hands are not tied, there is no political suicide for any act of politics, period. Political suicide is generally limited to non-political embarrassment, like frequenting hookers, gay trysts, intern banging, suspicions of bribery or cheating.

    Obama’s hands are not tied at all with respect to military matters; and Guantanamo Bay is a Naval Base and 100% a military matter.

  238. Okay, I overstated that, I said there is no political suicide for any act of politics, but I was thinking specifically of Obama’s campaign promises, not all possible acts of politics. None of his campaign promises would have been political suicide to keep, or they would have prevented him from getting elected.

    Sorry for the overstatement.

  239. OK, Tony. He doesn’t need congressional approval to open black sites. I was trying to say that the crazies don’t scream about EXPANDING the MIC, they scream about limiting the MIC.

    And I guess I will just have to accept the label of being gullible, because in governing do think public opinion matters (most especially if you want a second term), Fox propaganda matters, a united effective Republican congressional opposition matters, and when Americans are screaming about housing murdering terrorists, foreign governments may find that their citizens ALSO object to playing host. You and Michelle Bachmann may agree that this is an imperial presidency, but ‘ol gullible me just believes he made some bad political calls , his advisory bench contained no Karl Roves, and the opposition scored a lot of points. He didn’t throw the game.

    However, I will come hat in hand (or crawling if you prefer) if he closes Guantanamo before the election.

  240. And I am not so overconfident that there wouldn’t be calls of impeachment. Look at what Issa is doing to that idiot Holder. Yeah, it’s not impeachment YET, but the fat lady hasn’t yet sung!

  241. Fox propaganda matters, a united effective Republican congressional opposition matters, and when Americans are screaming about housing murdering terrorists, foreign governments may find that their citizens ALSO object to playing host.

    Curious….. I could NOT have said it better myself….
    That was VERY well put, and EXACTLY what I was thinking when I wrote my last post…..

  242. Tony,

    Political Principle Purity? Are you leaving any room for that other virtue, Compromise?.

    I’m both naive and gullible, but what universe are you occupying?

  243. Gene, Tony, (mespo if you are lurking), et al,

    The following is an admitted flight of fancy but I have always wondered what would have happened to Franklin’s committee idea if Jefferson had been physically present for the discussions.

    I realize Jefferson wasn’t much of a public speaker (historians suspect a speech impediment) but his reasoning ability was first rate and he could be most persuasive in small group settings. I wonder if he would have openly supported Franklin’s idea and actively worked to bring others to that way of thinking.

    (I do recall that upon Franklin’s death Jefferson pushed Washington to declare a day of mourning which I believe Washington refused to do. The House passed a resolution that there should be a period of mourning; the Senate refused to mark the occasion.)

    As I said … a flight of fancy on my part.

  244. Blouise,

    We have 50 state legislatures elected by the public. Many of them are not turning out such great laws (voter ID, vaginal probes, teaching Noah’s Ark). Aren’t they just bigger versions of Franklin’s committee? The image of Jefferson and Adams sitting on the same committee keeps running through my head.resulting in pain. And that was the era of the Enlightenment and they read Cicero in the original – today it is “Atlas Shrugged” and the Good News, Better Times Bible.

    Best of all worlds – who would you want to be on such a committee today?

  245. Curious,

    True that Adams didn’t much care for Franklin and was not too happy about the story going around at the time that Franklin tamed the lightening bolt that produced Washington (or something like that) … I like Adams a lot but he did tend towards the sin of envy. ;)

    As to who I would like to see on such a committee, there is so much to be determined as to how the committee would function, be appointed or elected etc., that I have no idea who amongst our present day citizenry would be properly able to serve on an Executive Committee.

    It is the pros and cons of the idea that intrigues me.

  246. @Curious: Compromise is not an absolute virtue, and there are limits.

    If you believe that half a loaf is better than none, then is a third of a loaf better than none? Is a tenth? How about a crust from a slice, is that better than nothing? if something is always better than nothing then we are led by infinite descent into accepting a penny when others keep a dollar, simply because they insist upon it.

    Compromise can be a virtue if both parties are equally better off then before the settlement. It is an evil when they are not; in such a case it is more properly called a robbery or a coercion.

    The universe I occupy, thanks for asking, is reality. I donated a lot of money to Obama’s campaign from the start, I voted for him in the primary and in the election, and I now believe he was lying and I was suckered. That is reality, he has betrayed us and the Constitution.

  247. I honestly do not understand this reverence for reading ancient philosophers in their native language, Latin, Greek, Aramaic, German, French, whatever.

    If somebody has good ideas the ideas can be translated into any language, the native language lends nothing to it, and in fact a reliable expert translation into somebody’s native language is far more likely to convey the philosophical ideas properly than having them inexpertly perform that translation for themselves, which is what they are going to do.

    If anybody tells you they read something in the original Latin, the first thought that pops into your head should be, “That probably means you misunderstood it.”

  248. p.s.

    As to the pains (in everyone’s heads) created by a younger Adams and Jefferson … age mellowed them … “Well, at least Jefferson still lives.” ;)

  249. @Blouise: Originally, the electoral college elected the President and Vice President blindly; the person with the most votes became President, and the person with the next most votes became the Vice President. (with caveats for ties and non-majorities, etc).

    I would implement something like that. Give every elector three votes, which must be cast on three different people, in order; the top vote gets 3 points, their second choice 2, their third choice 1. Those votes should be public, of course. The three candidates with the greatest point total are the three (equal) committee members. Involve a House vote, or let the electoral college have a tie-breaking vote among those tied if it is needed to whittle the winning field down to three.

  250. @Blouise: Yes, that is a rub, but hardly a risk worth becoming fluent in ancient language X. It can be ameliorated by having versions from more than one translator, and cross checking what sounds suspicious. Or spot checking the translation with a dictionary.

  251. @Blouise: One of the “cons,” I think would be finger-pointing when something goes wrong.

    Another would be decoherence, three ideas with no consensus. After 9/11, one wants to attack Iraq, one wants to attack Afghanistan, and one wants to engage in diplomacy and work toward energy independence to leave the Middle East and end the problem once and for all.

    There is always time to make such decisions but compromise is not always possible, and inaction is sometimes the most imprudent of all possible courses.

    One way around such impasses, I believe, would be a vote of Congress. If the committee does not have a majority agreeing upon a course of action (two of three in Franklin’s case), then the default course is inaction. HOWEVER, if Congress demands action by majority vote, then if the Presidential committee is at an impasse for three days (or a week) then each member is allowed to present its case to a joint session of Congress, with order chosen by lot, and after the presentations the joint session of Congress members vote for one of the plans, until there is a winner. Each committee member is given two hours to make their pitch, and Congress votes on the following day.

    (Or, more subtly, Congress could vote DOWN one of the plans, and that committee member must then choose one of the remaining two plans. Which s/he could have done all along, so there is no advantage, other than exposing their idea to the country, for forcing a vote. And remember it is up to Congress to demand something besides inaction or the status quo in the first place).

  252. Blouise,

    In re Jefferson and Franklin’s Plural Presidency Idea.

    I’ve read enough Jefferson to say he might have supported the idea but he most certainly would have been interesting in exploring it. He was very much against the idea of unitary power so I think it would have been an intrinsically interesting idea to him.

    More on this later. Busy juggling. I don’t want to risk dropping the baby, the chainsaw, the lit torches, the cats or the bowling ball to give this sidebar the attention it deserves.

  253. Talk about giving some real control back to the governed … I particularly like Tony’s thoughts on involving the Congress.

    It’s football night here. First high school game of the season and although I am not a fan, several of my friends are and are gathering here before trekking to the stadium. I must go and play hostess.

    Looking forward to more on this committee idea.

  254. Delighted you guys are still at it. It gives me the opportunity to share my brother’s response when I told him about the discussion of Franklin’s Committee…

    Oh yeah. What could possibly go wrong?

  255. Blouise

    I think you and everyone else here will have a hell of a time being able to name five people to the Committee and five more in reserve for replacements and five more when the first five won’t release their tax returns. But I won’t be obnoxious. I’ll only ask for five from anyone who is interested. I can’t think of five yet. Maybe one: Michael Sandel. I won’t hold it against him that he is friends with Tom Friedman. Maybe James Fallow. God! Charlie Pierce would be fantastic!

    Tony has removed one question – they are to be elected. He noted one problem with the cat food people was that they were appointed which corrupted the committee at the get-go.

    It is an interesting question and I’m very interested to see how you would structure the thing. I haven’t done a lot of searching but I would like to know Franklin’s arguments for preferring the Committee. A brief look also found that he proposed a single congressional house.

  256. Curious,

    Well, if we come up with a workable plan, your brother can be the first one we try to convert … a test of our ability to meet and overcome objections.

  257. Blouise

    He worked at a large company with lots of boards, lots of committees, lots of meetings. I finally had to hang up on him as he slipped into asthmatic spasms after an uncontrollable prolonged laughing jag.

  258. I will address the plural Presidency topic later today (I promise, Blouise), but in the meantime, I wanted to share how not to read a headline. Namely, don’t read them half awake in the middle of the night with a head full of antihistamines and a pain killer.

    This was the headline in the LA Times: “Water board wraps chromium 6 investigation at Walt Disney Studios”

    To which my immediately hazy response was, “Why is Mickey Mouse torturing web browsers? Did they get the information they wanted or did the Google product just tell them anything to make them stop?”

    Really.

    And then the next thought was “Duh.” followed by “That’s so loopy, I’ve got to share it with Blouise.”

    Now I’m going back to bed.

  259. @Curious: And that snarky remark of your brother is precisely what is politely called “conservativism;” a knee jerk reaction that anything new will be bad, in fact a knee jerk reaction that anything new will be worse than the obviously malfunctioning status quo of a unitary executive.

  260. talk about Propaganda….

    this movie just opened nation wide, showing in 1,090 theaters….

    Gotta LOVE that Citizens United Ruling…..

    The anti-Obama documentary based on Dinesh D’Souza’s book “The Roots of Obama’s Rage” expanded nationwide on Friday — with early first-place showings in the domestic box office rankings, Deadline Hollywood reports.

    As of late Friday afternoon, “2016: Obama’s America” had grossed $700,000 from 1,090 theaters. That compared with $300,000 for the new big-budget, Sylvester Stallone action flick “The Expendables 2,” which is playing in 3,355 theaters, Deadline Hollywood reports.

    The early showing puts Obama’s America on track to gross $1.2 million to $1.7 million on Friday alone, with as much as $3.7 million to $5 this weekend, according to Deadline Hollywood. Its afternoon ranking will likely be eclipsed by “Expendables” and several new releases, including “Ride Like Hell,” starring Michael Shannon.

    http://www.newsmax.com/US/DSouza-matinee-Obama-movie/2012/08/24/id/449727

  261. (Gene,

    I thought my Chrome browser was acting a a bit hesitant … PTSD?)

    Committee Idea Followers,

    I am fortunate enough to live within a district that is overseen by a law abiding water board run by a committee of 5 elected members (staggered terms) who answer directly to the electorate. Their authority resides in the City’s Charter and any changes to that authority must first be put to a vote of the registered voters. Such votes do take place on a fairly regular basis as the department itself continues to grown and provide services to far flung communities.

    They have been operating under this Charter arrangement for over 87 years … an elected committee answering directly to the electorate (not the Mayor or Council). I’m going to look at their history and talk to some of the old timers … see what pitfalls they have avoided or falen into and climbed out of.

  262. Tony

    Oh yeah. He’s hugely conservative. But he’s also very funny and wonderfully generous. And I am puzzled that you are so annoyed by just a funny little line. I politely suggest that his worry was not “anything new”; it was the idea of anything being run by a committee (although he does subscribe to the philosopher king form of government. He, of course, would be the king.) – your personal experience notwithstanding. Check with the man-in-the-street. I’m pretty sure he would be happy to share a story or two about the pleasure of a work day filled with committee meetings.

    But I do look forward to the discussion, though I don’t know that our problems stem from a unitary executive. I’m inclined to start with religion and a lot of misinformed sheep. But I’m happy to listen and hope that a contrary opinion will not be discouraged.

  263. @Blouise: Some other problems that may arise:

    Problem 1) Gangs: This is worst in small committees, as Dr. Turley has noted. If your elected committee is two Conservative Republicans and one Liberal, all decisions go to the Conservative Republicans. Think of a committee formed of Nixon, Bush Jr., and Jimmy Carter. (I chose three provably electable personalities, ignore the timeline).

    Of course the worst case of that is no worse than what we have with a unitary executive, and provides at least a chance that the gang of two will not agree 100% with each other. Even best friends differ on policy (including me and my best friends).

    2) Disintegration: This is the problem of the three committee members informally agreeing on divided duties (which they may make public). The general is in charge of the military and foreign policy, the economist is in charge of economic policy, the college Dean is in charge of domestic policy.

    I see this sort of thing between partners all the time; it begins as a healthy deference to training or known talent, and becomes rubber-stamp agreement. The guy that is good at math (or what two mathematician friends of mine dismissively call ‘arithmetic,’ by which they mean anything short of calculus) ends up responsible for anything involved with numbers, and naturally, in order to balance the work load, other partners pick up the things the innumerate can handle, so the arithmetic whiz ends up with a disproportionately small plate of the managerial, marketing, and strategic decision making.

    That can work in business, but often does not. Whether it is rational or not, persistent deferral to greater expertise creates resentment, because it feels like command instead of equality. And that can be mutual. What has really happened is the partnership is no longer an integrated team making decisions together; they end up competing to do what they can within their niche into complete control.

    Preventing disintegration is very difficult. Maintaining integration is much harder than permitting it; it takes less time and energy to just let it happen. Prevention is really up to the personality of the participants, there are no rules we can write that will prevent it. The individuals must work, frequently, to preserve that line in the sand between reasoned assent to smart ideas borne of greater experience, and blind faith in somebody else. That isn’t easy.

  264. I’m thinking 3-5 members, 6 year terms staggered with elections held every 2 years (somebody work out the math for me as to when to hold elections.) Initial set up: 2 – 4 -6

    A member can stand for re-election but only after being out of the office for 4 years. Special elections held within 3 months of a death, illness, resignation etc.

    The palace (White House) becomes a museum.

    Tony … I perused your post but will give it full attention when I get back later this afternoon.

  265. @Curious: I am puzzled that you are so annoyed by just a funny little line.

    That is the psychological cynic in me. Humor is often (not always) a defensive misdirect, meaning what is said in jest is often meant in earnest, especially when it takes the form of an insult. Because then, if somebody takes offense, the speaker says, “Hey, it was just a joke, man, I didn’t mean nuthin’, chill out, jeez.”

    Other than direct introduction, humor is the number one “safe” method bigots use to fish for like-minded brethren. Tell a mildly racist joke, or mildly anti-semitic joke, or mildly anti-immigrant joke or anti-gay joke, and gauge the reaction. If you get a laugh, step up to the next rung. If you don’t, you say, “Hey, it was just a joke, I’m not really that way…”

    Which is what you are doing. I am not annoyed by a “funny little line,” because I do not find the sarcastic dismissal of new ideas funny.

  266. @Blouise: If I could change the Constitution; I would demand that the only people that could run for national elective office would be people that have worked for at least 15 full time years (off-and-on is okay, but cumulatively 30,000 provable hours) as a non-elected public servant. I would include the military, police and secular school or university work, as well as city, county, state or federal work, anything paid by a recognized governmental entity.

    In short: If you really want to be a public servant, prove it.

  267. Tony

    The joke was directed at an IDEA. And I take great offense that you link racist, anti-semetic, anti-immigrant, anti-gay to me.

    You, sir, are being a JERK.

  268. Gene H.
    1, August 24, 2012 at 7:33 am
    Mitt Romney: Mormon Church Contributions Should Be Private

    PERSONALLY…. I think Church contributions should NOT be tax deductible……

    also…. it is NOT CHARITY it you can write it off and save money……

  269. Tony,

    First thing I notice is that Lincoln would not be qualified for office.

    Second thing I notice is that it would not improve the chances of women serving as president.

    Lots of cops and military, though.

  270. Tony

    Wait. I see that it is 15 years of non-elected public service before Any National office.

    Need to change “women serving as president” to women serving in national office.

    I confess I’m not going to research it, but other than Ike, are there any past presidents that could serve? Maybe Wilson – maybe Hoover.

  271. @Curious: I’m inclined to start with religion and a lot of misinformed sheep. But I’m happy to listen and hope that a contrary opinion will not be discouraged.

    Contrary opinions are not discouraged, dismissive bigotry is discouraged.

    Religion is a bad place to start because we cannot really do anything about it. Even though I think it is a purely learned and cultural phenomenon, it is so pervasive and self-sustaining it might as well be treated as unavoidable human nature. The founders had it right, even though many were agnostics and functionally atheists, what we can do now is separate religion from the state and ensure freedom of choice in religion. That tiny little innovation, freedom of choice in religion and the lack of state support or enforcement, will slowly grow to overwhelm religion, if the innovation itself can survive.

    Misinformed people is not as bad a place to start, but it isn’t a great place to start. Informing people costs money, and costs them time, and the conservatives (like your brother) are strongly resistant to learning anything new. As are some on the far left that still believe in absolutist ideas, like true communism or that all criminals can be cured, including psychopaths and sociopaths.

    For Americans at a minimum, we have more information available to more people in more venues than ever before in history, and with the advent of the Internet orders of magnitude more sources than even 25 years ago. This suggests, strongly IMO, that the misinformed are willfully misinformed, they do not WANT to know the truth and are resistant to it. They are comfortable in their cocoon and would rather nap, they will deal with the truth when it becomes unavoidable, IF that ever happens, because they really think it won’t happen. Think of it as the global warming issue writ large, willful ignorance pays off, because it lets them avoid suffering any sacrifice of any kind.

    The place to start, if there is one, is not from the top and tackling the big problems, but from the bottom. Accept that in our environment, big ideas will not be accepted and will not pass on the national stage de novo.

    IMO the only thing that will work is some sort of grass roots innovation, something that can be implemented by a single candidate or small handful in a city council election, mayoral election, state government election, or even some small Congressional district, that turns out to be successful and spreads. It might spread exponentially, but it can only spread in increments of two years or so, and that means it will necessarily have a decades long incubation period; the original players need to understand it is a generational project.

    The place to start is to run a town of 200,000 or so as we would run a national government, to prove that a new approach, Democracy 2.0, can be prosperous and sustainable and fair, even as we obey all the dictates and costs of Democracy 1.0.

    Then we convert other towns, and a state, then spread to towns in other states and convert them. (It has to start with an entity capable of levying taxes, smaller than that, like a company, will not scale).

    Whatever the new idea is, it has to work on the small-town scale just as well as the national scale. That is the place to start.

  272. Tony,

    Gotcha. (As in: I understand and I like some of these ideas.) I particulary like the last sentence because I think working in a “national scale” and all it myriad interests and conflicts is a very big hurdle.

    But that “bigot” makes me a little nervous. Do you think I am a bigot?

  273. If somebody has good ideas the ideas can be translated into any language, the native language lends nothing to it, and in fact a reliable expert translation into somebody’s native language is far more likely to convey the philosophical ideas properly than having them inexpertly perform that translation for themselves, which is what they are going to do.

    If anybody tells you they read something in the original Latin, the first thought that pops into your head should be, “That probably means you misunderstood it.”

    If I may here….

    Actually, this is NOT always the case….

    for example…. There are a LOT of words in Swedish, that do not have direct translations in English….

    In fact, you really can’t describe them in English….
    so when you translate anything, you will lose the subtle nuances
    of the actual ORIGINAL meaning…..

  274. Tony

    I think garden variety liberals are also resistant to new ideas. Who here reads Rich Lowry, Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol? Too far riight? I bet a good number no longer read Brooks or Friedman. We like people who agree with us. That’s why we get along so well. (Insert smiley face here. I have no idea of how it is done.)

  275. Gurl,

    Re: Translations

    Like any good American, I only speak one language. And often, I don’t speak that with great facility.

    But I did have the pleasure of taking a class or two of the Basic Program at the U of C. Those guys did take translations very seriously, and Mr. Anastaplo was a scholar of ancient Greek. I don’t think Tony, perhaps even Gene, wouldn’t dismiss Mr. Anastaplo. Justice Black did not dismiss him when Anastaplo brought suit against the lawyers who would not allow him membership to the bar because he would not confirm or deny he had ever been a communist . (It’s been a while since I’ve read the story in Anastaplo’s “Human Being and Citizen” so I may have some details wrong.)

    But I didn’t take it as a serious criticism about reading Cicero. There are too many people here who are perfectly aware of the years and lives spent struggling over a line or two of the Bible. There’s not a chance that they would dismiss the art of translation.

  276. I have no automatic judgment on new ideas. I am resistant to idiocy and incoherency. I HAVE heard Krauthammer and Kristol and the like pontificate, and I believe there are very obvious and glaring faults in their reasoning, and in their assertions of what is “true” about people, or economies, or business, or foreigners, or illegal immigrants, or non-Christians or whatever.

    I do not embrace a new idea unless it can withstand logical scrutiny and provide sensible responses to inquiry and still remain coherent. Experience has shown me that the likes of Krauthammer and Kristol (and conservatives as a rule) have not produced any such ideas.

    That is why I do not bother to listen to them, I so strongly discount any possibility of being rewarded with a GOOD idea that it isn’t worth any further effort on my part to consider them, or people that cite them.

    I would say the same about most on MSNBC, they are just parrots reciting dogma. I know that because when watching them they are clearly incapable of presenting the logical arguments for their leftist positions. Even though I agree with those positions, I am not going to waste time listening to somebody that cannot think for themselves (or are unwilling to do so on camera), the chances of such people producing a useful new idea is also remote.

    It is perhaps true that most people like those that agree with them and would like to live in an echo chamber. I am truly bored by rehashing the same damn thing again and again. I get no satisfaction from people agreeing with me more than the first time. It does not make me feel more correct. So to me, at least, the echo chamber is just a boring waste of time; I’d rather be doing something that affords at least a modicum of novelty, whether serious or playful, productive or not.

  277. Curious,

    How to do smilies on WordPress:

    http://codex.wordpress.org/Using_Smilies

    Always remember to leave a space before and after when inserting the text for smilies.

    For example: I want to insert the text for the green smilie. If I type the text without inserting a space this is what will post:mrgreen:

    If I insert a space this is what will post :mrgreen:

    Still running errands so very little time to write :cry:

  278. No… I don’t dismiss it… THO, you used a VERY important word, ART….

    It is an ART… and even with people who are the very best…. there is still going to be a LITTLE missing…. as it is an ART, not a science….

    and of course they take it very seriously… my point was more that there are things that can get lost in translation… pardon the phrase…:-)
    even if it is a tiny bit, it still can make a difference…
    Like I said, there are words on English, that can not translate to other languages…. and there are words, in other languages… VERY important words, that no matter how hard one tries, these words have no direct translation…

    This comes from studying Swedish and French….
    and knowing COUNTLESS people here that not only speak no less than 5 languages FLUENTLY…. But, my best friend has a PhD in Language Translation, with a Masters in Finish, tho, she is Dutch, and also speaks French, Italian, English, Swedish, and of course Finnish….

    This is something I NEVER thought about, until I moved to Sweden….
    Of course I took French in High School….
    BUT, just learning basic French… THO, I remember NONE of it now…. OK… I speak a little, and understand MORE….
    I just never thought of this,… as I had no need to….
    Once I was taking Swedish, it hit me….
    and I learn more of this each day…

    I do however have to admit…. I read Tony’s post rather fast… and missed part of it…. :-)
    the part I missed was that it is better to have a Translation, than to try to translate a language yourself, should you not be fluent in that language….
    and that I DO agree with….

    I jumped the gun.. as being an American myself and being monolingual, most of my life….
    Translations are not something I ever thought of, until I was studying another language, and trying to learn a cultural reference via a word that literally has NO English equal…. :-)

  279. @Curious: I did not say what the job had to be in public service. Do you not believe in women cops? Or women working at the DMV, or women in the military, or women working in the welfare office? My niece is an investigator for child care services for the state, and has been for ten years. That is a public service job. So is being a prosecutor, I would even count the service of lawyers as a public defender. I think you are being misogynistic, women are capable of any public service job, including front-line combat positions for the police or military.

    As for past presidents that could serve and meet the criteria; the fact that good people might be excluded does not mean the criteria is bad, or that the criteria would not have resulted in equally good people.

    What was not necessary for election in 1834 was not done in 1834, is that surprising to us? You do not know if Lincoln would have been excluded; he did work as a public servant before he was elected, as a captain in the Militia, a postmaster and a county surveyor. He wanted political office from early adulthood, it is entirely plausible that Lincoln would have put in the years and hours need to qualify for office.

    Even if he did not, Lincoln rose to the circumstances of his time, and I think it is folly to believe we lucked into the only man in the country that could have done that. I ascribe no super powers to Lincoln, I believe other men could have done the job equally well, or even better.

    The loss of a few good politicians would have been more than made up for by the elimination of the many bad ones, self-serving sociopaths and egomaniacs intent upon nothing but selfish ends and power. Such people, I believe, would not have the patience to put in 15 years of public service at mediocre pay, and would thus eliminate themselves from consideration. They would go into commercial enterprises where their greed and selfishness can be exercised without restraint. That is where they belong, controlled by government, not in control of it.

    Requiring a 30,000 hour internship of non-elected public service before running for public office would not be a perfect filter, but it is a filter that would do a great deal of good and strain out the worst of the bunch.

  280. Gene H: Avoid all dairy products! Plenty of clear liquids! If you’re Jewish, try chicken soup; if not, try hot herbal tea with half a cup of brandy in it, and go to sleep in a room with no air conditioning. Get well soon.

  281. Tony

    I know what you mean. I can’t stomach reading Kraut, Lowry, and Kristol. I wish I could say they bore me, but instead they brilliantly suceed in raising my blood pressure to dangerous levels. It is funny, though. I could listen to Buckley and Hitchens without difficulty. Niall Ferguson? I want to kill. Maddow eases me into a blissful state.

    But mostly, I’ve always been easy. (insert another smiley face) Present an interesting idea one day and a conflicting one the next, and I’ll still be nodding my head in agreement.

    Speaking of that…. I pushed back a little on the requirements for running for national office. It probably won’t be productive (for you), but I might profit from your reply.

    And I did look up Wilson and Hoover. They don’t qualify either.

  282. @Curious: I just stop reading (or listening) after the second or third false premise or non sequitur. What is the point? I expect professionals to argue from supportable premises and to make supportable inferences and draw valid conclusions, not over-reach or engage in word trickery or subterfuge.

    I was excited for Rachel Maddow to get a show, she was an excellent and insightful guest analyst. I stopped watching her when she became an apologist for everything on the left; I assume getting a show done every day was just too much work to keep up the high quality she had as guest. I am on the same side as Dr. Maddow philosophically, but she began engaging in blind partisanship instead of analysis, and that made it pointless (for me) to watch.

  283. Tony,

    Sorry that I’m always three or four notes behind.

    I wonder if we can clear something up. I’m sure you’re entirely unaware of it and it is just a reflection of my shortcomings that I remember these things, but you have called me: childish, gullible, naive, a bigot , linked me to racist, anti-semetic, anti-gay, and now a misogynist – all in this thread. Tony, you are taking a howitzer to destroy a mosquito. I am harmless. You have nothing to fear from me and you certainly won’t be bombarded with a bunch of new ideas or devilishly clever arguments. So lay off, will ya? You can take care of me with little effort and without embarrassing your mother by calling me names.

    So back to my query… I was thinking of what becomes the pool of possible candidates for national office. I had not overlooked the positions that you mentioned. But I didn’t think too many candidates for senator would spend 15 years at the DMV nor 15 years as an unelected prosecutor. I also can’t think of too many women generals. I know there are some, but they may have the handicap of being homosexuals. I can’t think any female cop who has risen to national prominance. Let’s stretch….Janet Reno. I can’t even think of too many male Police Chiefs. There was the guy who was a crook and a friend of Guillanni and Daryl Gates. But I will give you one mighty prejudice…..I am not at all happy of having the VAST majority of national lawmakers coming from 15 years as LEO or the military. NO WAY. That leaves the DMV, TSA, public school teachers, (Wilson was from Princeton – private school) city service employees, prosecutors, congressional staff, Washington bureaucrats, cabinet members No governors, no senators, no state legislators, none from local elected government.

    I think the pool is much too limited, the permitted career path lacks challenging experiences (mostly), the rules demand 15 years in maybe cruddy jobs before you can get started in your hoped for career, best leadership experience will come from the military, and WHERE are the women?
    ****************************************************************************

    Gurl….

    Didn’t mean to suggest we disagreed on translations. My comment was directed at an earlier commentor who was rather skeptical of the importance/difficulty of a good translation.

  284. @Curious: I also can’t think of too many women generals. I know there are some, but they may have the handicap of being homosexuals.

    And you wonder why I call you a bigot. Perhaps you are just an idiot. Either way, with an attitude like that, that a women that rises to the rank of general is likely to be a lesbian (or not a “real” woman), you are not harmless.

  285. @Curious: I think the pool is much too limited,

    The pool would be the entire population. A politician is a public servant, if you want to BE a public servant, if you are committed to that path, then 15 years of labor is not too much to ask.

    @Curious: the permitted career path lacks challenging experiences (mostly),

    And what “challenging experiences” do we require of existing politicians? None, really. The vast majority of them are millionaires, which mean they have hardly any challenges in their lives. A public servant, after 15 years, is typically a manager of other public servants. Their lives are plenty challenging, they often deal with the poor, sick and elderly, and most of them are living around the median wage and alongside the people they are supposed to serve.

    Or do you only think that millionaire’s lives are challenging and only they are qualified to rule? That is called “plutocracy,” rule by the rich. Is that your position?

    @Curious: the rules demand 15 years in maybe cruddy jobs before you can get started in your hoped for career,

    Oh, I see, you are an instant gratification kind of guy. The founding fathers disagreed with you, that is why they put age limits on the offices: 25 years, 30 years, 35 years (Rep, Sen, Pres).

    In any case, you mistake my intent: That 15 years is not a preamble to a career, it is part and parcel of the career. You do not get to be a medical doctor without putting in a similar amount of time and effort, you do not get to be a general without it, and I think you do not get to step into the role of leading public servants without having been one first.

    @Curious: best leadership experience will come from the military,

    More bigotry. Leading a country is not being in charge of an army, in fact being in charge of an army may well be a bad experience for leading the country, because the army is hierarchical from the top down, authority is unquestioned and command is complete. The country does not work that way, States do not work that way, and the world does not work that way. They demand negotiation among equals, and there is no five-star at the top that can give arbitrary orders. When we negotiate with France or Russia or Israel, we negotiate as equals.

    The military is NOT the best leadership example. I have been in the military, and I followed orders. I was “led” because it was illegal to refuse, I could be fined, stripped of rank, even jailed for refusing to follow an order. You cannot order a fellow Congressman to do anything he doesn’t want to do, the mayor cannot order the police chief to ignore the law, the governor cannot fire the (elected) Treasurer or State Supreme Court Justice.

    The best leadership will come from the ranks of public service, where managers have to deal with employees that can quit (soldiers cannot quit), and has to negotiate with other agencies and civilian suppliers as equals.

  286. @Curious: Oh, and being a lesbian would be a “handicap?” Are you so self-unaware that you can write something like that and think you are NOT a bigot?

  287. Tony, you are a most disagreeable fellow…

    My characterization of a woman general was a great mistake in dealing with a less than honest correspondent such as you. I give you Gen. Tammy Smith, you idiot. Saying someone is a homosexual is NOT akin to saying they are “unclean” unless of course they are talking to you. In this country (and to those occupying “reality” as you assure us you do) it does often serve as something of a handicap in being able to serve your phucking country. (Why I seem to remember it was just a few short months ago when one was subject to dismissal from the military if you were a homosexual before the object of your irrational rath deliberately betrayed you with an executive order.) Such a prohibition would make it rather difficult to rise in the ranks, you jerk. Sally Ride was a homosexual, Dan Savage is a homosexual, Barney Frank is a homosexual, Andrew Sullivan is a homosexual. They are outstanding, smart, wonderful, funny (possibly an unfamilar term to you) Americans in which I take great pride, you smuck. Dr. Ride may have taken issue with me, the other GENTLEMEN (in case you forgot thre are such things) would not. A homosexual is only a terrible accusation if you believe a homosexual is something less than human. But it does tend to come up if you run for office and you’re from Missouri, say.

    Oh yeah. I screwed up in carelessly using that with such a cad as you. You must be a prosecutor. One of the unpleasant ones we read about here. You are not interested in discussion, you are interested in “the opening”, the “slip”, which will allow you to demean, bully and attack and then retire to your cave, once again, the smartest guy in the room.

    To the other readers (if there are any left) I apologize for my rant. But this guy, who got all twisted when I had the timerity to offer a small little joke in response to an idea that he wanted to discuss as A Very Serious Person finally exhausted my patience. ….What could possibly go wrong? Silly me. Yeah. What could possibly go wrong, Tony?

    Tony, you’re like the guy who settles an argument about Israeli policy by calling his opponent an anti-semite. You condescending, sneering, insufferable bigot. (There. I think I have replied in kind.)

    Oh, yeah. What a surprise you’re from the military. The place where you don’t talk back (thanks for the indepth assessment of how the military works, Tone)

  288. Tony,

    Name your three candidates for the committee. Then we can discuss whether it seems reasonable that they would toil in the post office or the DMV for 15 years before attempting to rise to national office.

    Before you named some criteria, I named three. FAIL. Fallows (sorry no journalists allowed), Michael Sandel (oops, private university) and Charlie Pierce (oh dear. another journalist and worse, he indulges in sarcasm)

    There must be an appropriate poker term here. Does let’s see ’em work?

  289. Tony,

    I just found an email that I sent to a friend in 2006. It was about a senator that I heard wonderful things about that wanted to run for president. I wondered if he faced too tough a handicap….he was an African American.

    Well, there you are. I guess I am a bigot.

  290. @Curious:

    I am not from the military, I served in the military. There is a difference.

    I have no three candidates to name, I do not have one. If the system were in place, we would have candidates, that is the whole point. They name themselves as willing to run for the office.

    You seem to constantly be focused on the wrong thing, the minutia instead of the picture. Who cares who the people are in this discussion? The discussion isn’t about specific people, the discussion is about how people interact.

    In designing the system of government for the United States, the founding fathers did not design it for specific people, they did not pick candidates that would run to be the Senators or Congressmen. You should not design any system, in business or politics, with specific people in mind, you define abstract roles that somebody will play and how the people in those roles will interact, and their responsibilities.

    You ask, where are the women? That is a ridiculous question, there are millions of women working for the government, many working in jobs that require high education, business management, or people skills. Claiming that the jobs of women in government do not qualify them to be leaders is just stupidly derogatory, they do the same jobs as men. If you aren’t being derogatory to women, then the alternative is that you do not think ANY government job qualifies men or women to be leaders, which is derogatory to a all government workers.

    So what is left? Do you believe the only thing that qualifies people to be government leaders is commercial work? If you believe that then I think you have an inordinate amount of reverence for money that borders on mental illness. Government agencies should not be led like businesses, because their goals are different; government agencies are not out to make a profit by cutting corners, adding features, or even pleasing customers. They do not do the things we do in business, their job is to get as much good done as possible within the budget they have. I have run businesses, and I have consulted for government services, and we run them differently because they have very different goals.

    I am not out to get you, I am just pointing out what I read in your posts, and what I infer from the language you use. Namely, that you come across as a sexist that thinks women are weak, and if they aren’t, they must be lesbians. And that you are sneeringly dismissive of new ideas.

  291. Tony,

    Your idea about requiring public service sounds suspiciously familiar… Have you read Starship Troopers? (by Heinlein)

  292. @Slart: To my knowledge, I have read all of Heinlein. :-) (although more than three decades ago, so pardon me while I check the Wik…)

    The ideas are different. In Heinlein’s story you cannot VOTE if you have not done two years of public service. I think it is always wrong to limit voting rights to any class of people defined by anything but citizenship and legal adulthood (with perhaps an exception for the incarcerated).

    The reason I oppose such restrictions is because the law is necessarily coercive, and coercing people that cannot vote is (in my mind) slavery.

    Mine is an idea about requiring public service as a prerequisite to running for public office. I do not think that is slavery.

    To become a board certified medical doctor, one must complete medical school after a bachelor’s degree, then an internship and a residency, with more exams along the way.

    To become a PhD after a bachelor’s degree, one must pass a certain number of academic hours in specified classes, pass the qualifying exam, pass the dissertation proposal, and pass the dissertation defense. Most advisors require a certain number of publications as well.

    We require prerequisites for people that are going to care for our health or teach our kids or train our professionals, we demand accreditations, exams and inspections.

    Why should running the country (which can have enormous impact on our lives, including the lives of soldiers) have the same prerequisites as becoming a fry cook at McDonalds?

    The prerequisite I proposed is less onerous than most educational requirements to practice medicine, teach engineering or teach mathematics. It is just time in grade, at any job from janitor or garbage collector on up to managing multi-billion dollar budgets, programs and tens of thousands of people. Elected officials might have the imprimatur of being in charge, but in truth most of us know that the real full time work is done by a full time hire and career bureaucrat. In business we would call that “CEO” and “COO,” Chief Operating Officer.

    I do not think a prerequisite work period to run for office diminishes freedom any more than requiring licenses and experience for other jobs where incompetence could ruin lives. My requirement is (IMO) intellectually easier to accomplish than becoming licensed to practice medicine, get licensed to be an architect, or lawyer, or a professor in an accredited university. Heck, we demand more commitment, training and intellectual achievement for high school art teachers than we do for Congressmen or Mayors (no offense intended by that comparison, high school art teachers).

  293. There is much to overcome when considering new ideas.

    Tony’s suggestion regarding experience in public service makes sense but I found myself hesitant to fully agree so I had to consider why I would hesitate over a sensible idea.

    After going through pros and cons I discovered the hesitancy was purely cultural … we’d never had any requirements for the executive except citizenship and age. In fact the initial seekers of that office pretended not to be seekers and had to be drafted.

    I was stuck in the “but, we’ve never done that before” mode without even realizing it.

    Our government is huge and the services it provides are vast so yes, of course it makes perfect sense that those who want to seek election to the committee have years of experience working within the system in one form or another. Besides, such a requirement does, as someone mentioned earlier, make it a little more difficult to simply buy a seat. I didn’t say it makes it impossible … just a little more difficult.

    Also, if the committee is 5 members serving staggered 6 year terms with an election every two years (2 member – 2 members – 1 member), the makeup of the committee changes every two years making it that much more difficult to establish one party control while still maintaining the stability of continuallity. (I’m not sure continuallity is a word)

    I would wildly support the rule/law that all elections for membership on the committee be non-partisan! :twisted:

  294. @Slart: I would add, btw, that if one’s “dream job” is to be an Army General we do not allow that without basically a lifetime of service in the army, first. One cannot just wake up one morning and say, “I think I will be an Army General!” unless that thinking includes about a 35 year career plan.

    Just because somebody wants to run for elected office does not mean we should be obligated to allow that without any prerequisites.

    Even the founders were clearly advocates of some prerequisites, they did put age minimums on Representatives, Senators, and the Presidency (25, 30, 35). I presume to overcome the brashness, risk taking and ignorance of youth.

  295. @Blouise: I agree, I think ALL elections should be non-partisan. I do not even think that political parties should have access to public equipment for primaries. I also think all ballots should be required to list the people running for an office without any designation, and with order chosen by lot (or in modern times, randomized per ballot); the parties should be private corporations and responsible for their own marketing and informational systems to get their voters or members to know their own candidate.

    I do not even agree with partisanship within Congress, it should be prohibited. Each Congressman should have an assigned seat for their position, and sit in it, whether they are a Democrat, Republican, Independent, Communist, Socialist, whatever.

    I do not mind caucuses, that is fine, but I do not think they should be afforded any legal recognition or rights whatsoever. I disagree with all official or legal recognition of Majority Leader, Minority Leader or any other manifestation of political party in the rules of Congress or of any state.

  296. Wow, Tony C and Curious are fighting on the “Sound of Silence” Thread?

    I feel a poem coming on — I’ll check back in a few hours but now I have to go buy a rhyming dictionary. ;-)

  297. “I do not even think that political parties should have access to public equipment for primaries. … the parties should be private corporations and responsible for their own marketing and informational systems to get their voters or members to know their own candidate.” (Tony C.)

    I agree 100%. I once lived in a community that, by City Charter, mandated all elections to public office, mayor, councilman, etc. be non-partisan. It worked/works very well and has done so for decades.

    In fact, from what I understand, their last mayoral race had three candidates and since none of the three received 50%, a special election between the top 2 candidates was held. Not liking how close that final election came to the actual transfer of power, an amendment was offered to the voters this month that would change the Charter so that if more than two individuals were seeking an office, a non-partisan primary election would be held early (I want to say August but I’m not certain as to the month the primary would be held) and the top two would then advance to the November election. The electorate voted to accept the amendment by a huge percentage. (Political parties are not at all necessary to well run elections.)

    Now that’s a living City Charter … just as our Constitution should be.

  298. @Malisha: I wouldn’t call it fighting; I think I am pointing out bad logic, mythology, sexism and naive childishness of his statements and claims, and he is taking offense because he is invested in that belief system. He is upset that I took offense at his intentionally offensive, derisive, and dismissive “joke” aimed at MY proposal.

  299. @Blouise: One could generalize that same primary system to a committee election, I think. If the field of registered candidates is more than twice the number of seats, even by just one, then a non-partisan primary is used that narrows the field down to twice as many candidates as seats. That is followed by a non-partisan election where the seats are filled by those with the most votes. If there is a tie for last place, have a runoff or cast lots. (An actual solution still invoked in 2010, I have read.)

  300. Tony C, although you wouldn’t call it fighting, for a poet (who gets to use words any way at all if it “works” for the poem), that word will do for now.

    Thing is, I’m not really getting inspiration — have to get into the mood I guess.

  301. Tony,

    Here’s a summary paper submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree Doctor of Philosophy in the Department of Political Science

    You find it fairly easy to read but might want to skip approx. 2/3rds down to Democratic Theory and 5 Person Committees right before “245”.

    There is also some in-depth work done on committees in the Federalist Papers

    I’m in favor of the 5 member committee as opposed to 3 or 9 but would like to read your opinion on structuring.

    http://dlc.dlib.indiana.edu/dlc/bitstream/handle/10535/3595/Institutional_Effects_on_Committee_Behavior.pdf.txt?sequence=2

  302. @Blouise: The first thing I notice is four misspellings in the Preface: “colleptive,” “anomolie” twice, and “Indiana Univeristy.” This seems like a careless advisor and committee to me, not to mention the graduate school reviewers themselves.

    Still reading…

  303. Tony,

    Just use it as a jumping off point … I think the date of submission was 1982 so we’re talking old prep probably uploaded when all one could find on the internet was .edu domains … and military .orgs.

    By the way … there’s a blog called “The Monkey Cage” … political science research. I read it all the time. The following link is to their inaugural post which explains the purpose of the blog.

    http://themonkeycage.org/blog/2007/11/20/why_this_blog/

    The main authors are:

    John Sides (GW)
    Erik Voeten (Georgetown)
    Andrew Gelman (Columbia)
    Joshua Tucker (NYU)
    Henry Farrell (GW)

  304. @Blouise: I didn’t read much useful there, did you? He does note that requiring super-majority votes does result in a more conservative rule; i.e. it is harder to change the status quo. I expected that. Confirmation of what we’d expect is not pointless, sometimes we can be surprised, but after reading I did not gather any great insight into any preferred method for structuring a committee.

    Am I wrong, did you get something out of it?

  305. @Bron: Sowell is decrying executive orders selectively invalidating parts of laws, which Obama has apparently done again. I do not always agree with Sowell, but this time I certainly do; he is right.

  306. Tony C.,

    Useful as a jumping off point, as I said. It was the super majority resulting in a more conservative rule that I found most interesting as I did not know that result could be expected.

    I was looking for negatives and positives to determine the number of individuals that would create the most efficient committee. 3, 5, or 9.

    I’ve settled on 5 based on time delay, cost, the number of similar decisions, better signals from expertise accumulation, increase in diversity etc. Three is too small in that a power base can be established by just two, nine is too large as the time required to communicate signals can leave others feeling powerless thus apathetic, but five seems to be a workable number that thwarts an easy power grab while also avoiding a sense of apathy in that everyone must be engaged.

    All of these factors are important as we are talking about replacing one individual with a committee.

  307. Tony,

    I wasn’t implying that you were advocating the same thing as Heinlein, just that it might have been the genesis (or one of them) of your idea of requiring public service. I actually think you go too far in representing Heinlein’s society in Starship Troopers as slavery—anyone could earn citizenship via service in his world, which doesn’t seem like slavery to me. I wouldn’t go so far as to require service for franchise but, assuming there was some sort of civilian service corps (which I think would be a good idea anyway), I would definitely like to see public service being a prerequisite for the Presidency and maybe the Senate and even the House. I think 15 years is too much, but I agree with what you said to curious about the details and the people who might occupy the office not being what’s important here—after all, it’s nearly impossible to imagine the required Constitutional Amendment being passed in our current political environment…

  308. Slarti:

    why should there be public service? We do not belong to the state.

    Why does Rousseau have such sway on the left?

  309. @Slart: just that it might have been the genesis

    Well, you never know! I read all the sci fi I could up to the age of 20 or so, reading was my primary form of entertainment; not TV or music. So it is an approach or tactic I knew about, I guess. But so are prerequisites for other jobs, I think it is possible Heinlein and I came to the same conclusion from that seed of thought; important jobs require credentials.

    But his ‘important job’ was voting, mine is holding elective office.

    The reason I chose 15 years is two-fold, first I think that is the level of work experience it requires to become a managerial ninja, if one is ever going to become one, and second (and most importantly) I think it is long enough to discourage opportunists from the job. For those with the charisma and voice to win a popularity contest, that want to be politicians to get rich and famous and largely exempt from the law (which is the unfortunate truth of the situation), I would hope that 15 years of public service is just too long a con.

    It would eliminate most of the rich, and make our government far more representative of the average American. Currently 67% of the Senate and 42% of the House are millionaires, versus 0.98% of the general population. Either power begets money, or money buys power, either way it does not seem representative of who we are, in my opinion.

    So I am thinking of serving in elected office as a promotion to a position of greater responsibility within a lifetime of public service.

  310. @Slart: it’s nearly impossible to imagine the required Constitutional Amendment being passed in our current political environment…

    No, this is the kind of meme that would have to spread slowly like a contact virus; i.e. find a legal way of establishing a requirement like this in one congressional district of a susceptible state, and have that spread to other states. Even if it could be started, it would probably take dozens of 2-year election cycles before the transformation was complete.

    So really I am just idly speculating on the chance we stumble across something that could catch fire.

  311. “I think it is long enough to discourage opportunists from the job. For those with the charisma and voice to win a popularity contest, that want to be politicians to get rich and famous and largely exempt from the law (which is the unfortunate truth of the situation), I would hope that 15 years of public service is just too long a con.” (Tony C.)

    Beautiful!

    I really do like the way your mind works.

    I wish Gene weren’t under the weather for this is the kind of material on which he and I have spent hours speculating.

  312. @Bron: How does requiring experience in an important job that impacts a lot of people mean that you belong to the state? Holding elected office is a public service job, requiring an apprenticeship doing that job should be routine.

    We do not let surgeons just start cutting people open; even after medical school they only do that under the extreme movement-by-movement scrutiny of a supervising surgeon with tons of experience, and they work in that mode for years.

    Why should political office not require an apprenticeship in public administration and policy? You have said in the past you believe at least some government is a necessity. Why should it be different than being an engineer, architect, accountant, or any other job? Why shouldn’t it require training and experience in the job they will be doing, considering the impact their job will have on citizens?

  313. TONY:

    Why should it be 15 years of public service? Back in the founders time, people probably started a vocation at between 12 and 15 so by 25 they probably had 10 years of experience in a craft or trade.

    The government cant even make peanut butter right, why should we think 15 years of doing something wrong is going to work out? The problem is that most of the people in congress cannot be trusted with a 7-11. I know this for a fact as I used to work for a lobby group in DC. The problem is not the founders system, the problem is the inadequately educated people who vote for these buffoons.

  314. tony:

    the founders studied governments, they were classically trained in Latin and Greek. They or most of them were farmers and small business owners. That is where we need to draw our elected officials from, people who have created something and who have had to execute in the real world.

    As much as I disagree with you, I would vote for you over a conservative who only had been a lawyer and then right to government service after law school. The lawyer doesnt know shit about real life.

  315. The inadequately educated and the apathetic (politics and government bore me) are always going to be a factor. Blaming them is pointless and really just one more good reason for the instituting an “apprenticeship” program. See Tony’s comments on discouraging opportunists from the job.

  316. AN apprenticeship program assumes elected government service as a way of life. We dont need more politicians making a career out of elected government service, we need more doctors, engineers, architects, computer people, business owners, farmers, contractors, etc. going to Washington and spending a few years and then going back to what they did. We also dont need elected officials in DC full time.

  317. @Bron: I am not thinking of the founder’s time, I am thinking of the present. The founders also thought, in their time, that politicians would be restrained in their greed by having to return to their communities and farms and face the men there. In their time, a slight of honor or failing to keep a promise could result in a duel and death, and being shunned for cowardice if one failed to accept the challenge. The founding fathers were raised in a frontier culture and really did think politicians would be restrained by the rough justice where “manly honor” meant something.

    But their culture is gone, and good riddance to the injustices and subjugations inherent to it. The founders were concerned with governing a non-technological, agrarian nation with low technology and very little education. That was a far simpler nation, with far simpler problems on a far smaller scale than our current situation.

    I do not believe their solutions scale, and I do not believe our policy is something that should be determined by amateurs as a hobby.

  318. @Bron: the founders studied governments, they were classically trained in Latin and Greek.

    The founders studied the governments available to them, which are necessarily non-technological governments, often created by people with very little training (or self-training) in logic, with a mythological sense of human psychology. When I read the “philosophers” of their time I read one false assertion or absolutist claim about how people will act after another, it is appalling to me that we accept that drivel as a basis for action. For example Malthus is widely cited, but I have read Malthus’s work, and even allowing for language changes it sounds like it is written by a high school junior and deserves a “B”. (Good idea, flawed execution.)

    Your reverence for the past truly puzzles me, for a person in a technological profession. Do you really think we have not made any progress in the last five hundred years? The fields of psychology and economics and the study of motivations have grown enormously since the founders wrote. We understand people better than the founders did, because we have access to over 200 years of scientific investigation (and hindsight) they knew nothing about.

    The founder’s formulation of government has failed, it worked fine for a long time, even with corruption, but (IMO) it failed to survive the existential crisis of WW II. Eisenhower’s famous “military industrial complex” staged a silent coup, it has morphed into corporate rule.

    We need something new, not something old, and I think the reality is that it won’t be small or non-intrusive or free market like you want. We began there and it failed, because those freedoms were abused by sociopaths and people demanded protection from those sociopaths. They demanded government protect them because there WAS no alternative that came forth, no free market solution, no non-intrusive solution, no small government solution.

    Those ideas failed then and would fail even harder now, in this world with the threats we face, both from the sociopaths among us and the foreign sociopaths that see us as a target, or standing in their way, or a restraint on their greed or power.

  319. Let’s look at the last Presidential election for a moment from the standpoint of the material we are discussing.

    Many well educated and politically astute people fell for the Obama con and are now emotionally over-reacting in a “hell hath no fury” mode.

    On the other side of the Presidential coin, McCain fell for the Palin con and his folk are still over-reacting in a “hell hath no fury” mode.

    In short, education and political astuteness aren’t fool-proof protections against a good con because a good con relies on emotion.

    A committee as the executive with a 15 year requirement in public service doesn’t remove the threat of an emotionally good con but it dilutes the ability of the individual perpetrating the con to maintain his/her following and if he/she does manage to run the long con, he/she must then deal with 4 others who have vast experience in dealing with such public servants.

  320. @Bron: We do not accept the founding fathers views on race, on women, on religion, on medicine, on psychology, on cosmology, on business, on slavery, or on banking. We do not even accept their views on who should be allowed to vote, or their white-male-land-owner dominated view of hierarchical classed society.

    I fail to understand what makes their vision of governmental organization any more sacred than all of these other disciplines where they were wrong; especially when we look at the impasse to which it has led us. If it was working, I should think the Congressional Approval Rating would be higher than 10% (Gallup, August 2012).

  321. tony c:

    the problems of 1787, of 500 BC or 1100 AD are human problems. New technologies, etc. dont matter all they do is make life easier and communication easier.

    expanding government is not the answer, making government effective is not the answer. Limiting government is the answer. It worked in 1787 and it will work now.

    Technology has nothing to do with it.

    Limited government is what works. They had a pretty good guide, we should follow it.

    .

  322. @Bron: If limited government actually worked, people would not have demanded more and more of it, which they did, to control the sociopaths in society, which is why they kept demanding it.

    Limited government does NOT work and that is why it never survives. That is basic logic, why would something that the vast majority of people agrees is working well be overthrown by something worse?

    The phrase, “There oughta be a law…” is a timeless one. People WANT collective action to control predatory, unfair, unjust behavior, and that is why limited government is always undone if the people have any say in it, because limited government does NOT work to accomplish what people want their government to accomplish.

  323. people are controlled and manipulated by sociopaths and psychopaths who tell them government can provide all their needs. The sociopaths and psychopaths then gain power which is what they crave.

    Just like the Sirens, they call out with a pleasing voice and message but the result is nothing like what they promise.

    I dont know why sociopaths and psychopaths have a will to power but they do and they will lie, cheat and steal to obtain their hearts desire.

  324. @Bron: people are controlled and manipulated by sociopaths …

    No they aren’t, that is ludicrous. It isn’t the people offering government that are to blame, the laws are passed because people are demanding relief from the sociopaths and psychopaths that are out of control.

    Most recently, in health care, and the insurance companies earning profits by denying health care to people that thought they were insured (and that most common people would have thought were insured too). When a woman dies of untreated breast cancer because her insurance company, after 30 years of taking her premiums as profits, denied her coverage by classifying her teenage acne as an undisclosed “pre-existing medical condition” that invalidates her contract, people are enraged. It isn’t sociopaths in government, it is sociopaths in business getting away with murder (usually literally) that cause the laws, and it is the sociopaths in business that engage in corruption that cause the laws to be watered down or crippled so they can keep on operating, and the sociopaths in political office that help them.

    People that are demanding safe food, contracts they can understand, safe products, safe workplaces, safe streets, safe houses and public buildings, safe medicine, safe roads, and honest bookkeeping are not being tricked into demanding those things, it is what they really want. A stable environment where they can work and raise their children without being robbed, raped, defrauded, poisoned, or killed in a fire or explosion.

    That is human nature and people are going to demand it forever. It is not because they want something for free; they are willing to pay for it, but the only way to get it is through government and law. Nobody has ever devised a free market system that will stop a sociopath willing to lie, cheat, steal, and exploit and endanger others for profit.

    So even if you got what you wanted, human nature will make it disappear almost immediately, because 90% of people want the other 10% to stop their criminal predation and play fair, and the 90% will not tolerate a “limited government” that lets sociopaths leave a trail of lies, trickery and ruined lives behind as they accumulate personal wealth.

  325. tony c:

    “No they aren’t, that is ludicrous. It isn’t the people offering government that are to blame, the laws are passed because people are demanding relief from the sociopaths and psychopaths that are out of control.”

    I disagree, the sociopaths are telling the people what they want and need to obtain power. The people believe the bull$hit about free goodies the sociopaths tell them and so they vote for the person who is the most sociopathic/psychotic because they are the ones offering all the free stuff and not telling the truth about it.

    It is really pretty simple, the more sociopathic/psychotic the person, the more free stuff they tell the people they will give them. Look at Hitler, he promised the German people world domination.

    Sociopaths have a will to power, I wonder how people in positions of power in government would score on the sociopath/psychopath scale? Any thing those people do is suspect because you dont know whether they are doing it for the public good or their own good. My guess is that if you have that will to power you do everything for your own good.

    The public good is just a mechanism to get you into power and to keep it.

  326. @Bron: If you disagree then you live in a fantasy world. Virtually every law passed that restricts companies or people from doing something has been passed because companies or people WERE doing it and the public was outraged by it. So it got prohibited.

    Really, either way you live in a fantasy world, you advocate for a system you yourself admit cannot exist, because by your logic sociopaths would immediately corrupt it and people would be too gullible or greedy to not surrender power to them. What is the point of your advocating for a system you know will never work?

  327. tony c:

    the problem is that government does attract power hungry people. I am not saying all business people are pure as the driven snow but they dont get to hand out goodies and favors. Even John Stuart Mill agrees with me:

    “A government with all this mass of favours to give or to withhold, however free in name, wields a power of bribery scarcely surpassed by an avowed autocracy, rendering it master of the elections in almost any circumstances but those of rare and extraordinary public excitement.”

    Business has no favors on the scale of government to provide and so it is not nearly the threat government is to liberty.

    So I would say yours is the fantasy world. The only people who believe as you do are Ivy League professors or the students they teach.

    You would do well to listen to Mill, he isnt a conservative.

    I love those old dead guys, they really knew what they were talking about.

  328. @Bron: “A government with all this mass of favours to give or to withhold,… [JSMill]

    Our government does not fit that description, at least with regard to citizens, because it is not free to give or withhold benefits that discriminate between Democrats and Republicans, votes are in secret and cannot be bought or sold. The government does not have the power of individual discretion, to reward it supporters or punish its detractors.

    I would agree our government has that power with regard to corporate favors, and that is a problem in dire need of correction, but correction by eliminating the government is not the answer: The very reason the corporations are involved in government is to relieve themselves of restraints on their actions, if the government leash were removed they would become even more sociopathic than they already are (and return to a state we have seen before, in the late 1800s, when they were similarly unrestrained by labor law, product safety law, polluting standards, antitrust laws or anti-market fixing and price fixing laws).

    Business has no favors on the scale of government to provide…

    For profit health insurance companies, pharmaceuticals and hospitals literally have the power of life and death over their “consumers.” They are a huge threat to liberty, without restraint by government they will (and have been) simply demanding everything people own in order to save their life, and if even that is not enough, they have the option of just letting them die. And do, btw. If a man is uninsured and cannot afford the $100K it takes to get a bypass operation, it is not considered emergency medicine and thus a for profit hospital will not do it.

    So I would say yours is the fantasy world.

    No, that is just more of your fantasy asserting itself. The world I want is already being executed in practice, in Norway, and I know you will argue that is oil (because you are incapable of learning), but we have far more natural resources per capita in the USA than Norway has, we could manage them like they manage theirs for the long term benefit of the people.

    I fantasize about something that can work because it already does, something that is large enough to control the sociopaths and prevent them from harming the rest of us, while leaving the rest of us free to innovate, compete, and work to get ahead.

    You fantasize about something that, by your own logic, cannot ever exist for more than a few years before sociopaths and psychopaths take it over and return you and everybody else to subjugated misery.

    Fortunately your logic is completely wrong, it does not comport with a century of experiments in psychology that map out the shape of our true human nature. If you trim away the extremes of the mentally ill, the severely mentally or physically disabled, the sociopaths and terminally lazy, what 95% of people want is to work and live in peace and safety, both physical safety and financial safety. They are not asking for handouts, they are asking for protection and insurance for which they are willing to work and pay, and there is a big difference.

  329. “Our government does not fit that description, at least with regard to citizens, because it is not free to give or withhold benefits that discriminate between Democrats and Republicans, votes are in secret and cannot be bought or sold. The government does not have the power of individual discretion, to reward it supporters or punish its detractors.”

    now I know you are living in a dream world.

  330. Oh, where to begin . . .

    Tony,

    Stop being psychologically cynical. Just as sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, a joke is sometimes just a joke. Also consider that just because an idea is new doesn’t mean it is good and/or inherently deserving of respect. Some ideas are simply bad ideas. Some ideas are good ideas. However, an attitude of “what could possible go wrong” doesn’t indicate a dismissive attitude on the part of the speaker but rather a skeptical attitude on the part of the speaker. As a trained critical thinker, you more so than most should appreciate the crucial role skepticism plays in critical analysis.

    Curious,

    Some of us do read what conservatives are saying. In the past, I’ve even agreed with some conservatives. I will stipulate that where I have historically found the most room for agreement with conservatives is observation of “phenomenas of concern”. This trend has begun to trend downward as the conservative movement becomes more and more radicalized and fanatical. While their observations may be causally and/or factually accurate, very rarely do I agree with a proposed solution. This trend has only amplified as the conservative movement has become more and more radicalized and fanatical. I’ve said this before although perhaps not phrased this way, but I am a liberal because I am a humanist and an egalitarian small “d” democrat, but foremost I’m a soft rule utilitarian. Maximized solutions that comport with a humanist and democratic ideal matter more to me than arguing strictly along partisan lines. Ideology can (and very often should if that ideology is one that aims at the greatest good for the greatest number) inform solutions, but it is not required for a solution to be maximally valid. That being said, your observation is accurate: extremist liberals are just as ideologically blind as extremist conservatives or indeed extremists of any stripe.

    I include “every stripe” because many people passing themselves off as conservatives or Republicans are nothing of the sort. Many are neoconservatives, neoliberals (they tend to manifest as Libertarians), theocrats, or outright corporatist fascists (or a combination thereof). Eisenhower would recognize many people claiming to be conservative today. Hell, William Buckely wouldn’t recognize many of the people claiming to be conservative today. There as many variations on ideology on the right side of the line as there are on the left side of the line and being on the right end of the spectrum does not mean a person is automatically a conservative in the Eisenhower sense of traditional conservatism. There are extremist views from both the right and the left that are equally dangerous, myopic and ideologically locked no matter what reason or evidence is presented to the contrary. Witness the almost religious devotion those of the neoliberal Austrian School of Economics to their political polemic disguised as economics even though the failures of their ideas is being writ large across the world economic stage as we speak. They tend to be true believers and nothing will make them waiver; no logic and no evidence. Where a lot of these ideologies fail to properly set themselves on the political spectrum is that many are not purely creatures of the left or the right, but rather they are syncretic in their base ideology. That is why left or right is ceasing to be a useful distinction in describing ideology, but becoming ever more critical in describing what an ideology is in practice. For example (and not to play the Hitler card but rather as a accurate description of both schools of thought), both Nazi fascism and neoliberals as exemplified by many Libertarians (including Ron Paul) are syncretic ideological systems that draw from both left and right, but in practice they end up being far right. The primary distinction being that Nazism’s far right practice was seen in their totalitarian policies of genocide, militarism and anti-democratic (again, small “d”) policy whereas Libertarians far right practice is seen in removing social safety nets to create a permanent underclass and corporatism (which is inherently anti-democratic).

    “Everything in moderation” was good advice when Aristotle gave it and it is doubly so since Oscar Wilde extrapolated on the idea to say “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” The political world is full of lunatics from both ends of the spectrum, but you cannot know what moderation looks like without considering both sides of the spectrum. While some fall into the confirmation bias habit of only reading those who agree with them, I have to say that the mark of a truly critical thinker is to consider all angles in your analysis. Sadly for us as a species and as we see demonstrated here frequently, critical thinking is a skill that not all possess and a skill that some are not capable of possessing.

    The only way to change that is to create one critical thinker at a time where and when possible.

    But I digress . . .

    I’ll offer some more thoughts on the whole Plural Presidency issue later, but I’ll preface (teaser) that if it were going to work, a 3/5 formulation would be necessary and that although problematic and possibly complicated the electoral process for such a body could be worked out.

    Now if you’ll pardon me, I have to play some sinus infection imposed catch up with other things today, so it may be later today or tonight before I’m able to address the issue in depth.

    Great conversation in my absence, ya’ll. Keep it up. It reminds me about what I found attractive about this forum in the first place.

  331. Tony C. and Gene,

    Here’s the last column written by Charlie Reese of the Orlando Sentinel … swan song.

    545 vs. 300,000,000 People
    -By Charlie Reese

    Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

    Have you ever wondered, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

    Have you ever wondered, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

    You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The President does.

    You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

    You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does.

    You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does.

    You and I don’t control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank does.

    One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one President, and nine Supreme Court justices equates to 545 human beings out of the 300 million are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this country.

    I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

    I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a congressman, or a President to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

    Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

    What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker, who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The President can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

    The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House?John Boehner. He is the leader of the majority party. He and fellow House members, not the President, can approve any budget they want. If the President vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to. [The House has passes a budget but the Senate has not approved a budget in over three years. The President’s proposed budgets have gotten almost unanimous rejections in the Senate in that time. ]

    It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million cannot replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

    If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair.

    If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red.

    If the Army & Marines are in Iraq and Afghanistan it’s because they want them in Iraq and Afghanistan …

    If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way.

    There are no insoluble government problems.

    Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power.
    Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like “the economy,” “inflation,” or “politics” that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

    Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible. They, and they alone, have the power.

    They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses. Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees… We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

    (Thanx, eniobob)

  332. @Bron: You would do well to listen to Mill, he isnt a conservative.

    Mill is intelligent, but I think mistaken on several counts. I do not believe in his formulation of “utilitarianism.” I do not believe it is the government’s job to “maximize” any aggregate, like happiness or income.

    Let me explain the arithmetic behind that argument, briefly: An aggregate is a sum, and therefore equivalent to an “average,” but an average ignores the distribution of wealth; it can be heavily weighted for the wealthy and against the poor. In fact if the top 1% grow money better than the bottom 99%, then government policies that take money from the 99% to put it in the more expert hands of the 1% will increase the aggregate wealth, while making the typical person poorer.

    I have said before that I believe the first function of government is to protect the weak from the strong; it is why we have a military, police force and court system, why we have a patent and copyright system, why society enforces contracts and lets people with few resources sue people with enormous resources. There are secondary functions of government (general welfare functions, like building roads or public schooling), but in regard to Mill, let us concentrate on this first function.

    Even though a minimizing function can usually be transformed into a maximizing function, this first purpose of government is best defined (meaning it produces the least confusion) as one of minimization, not maximization. The goal is to minimize crime, violence, fraud, economic catastrophe for individuals, medical catastrophe for individuals, exploitation and coercion of individuals, the latter includes effective extortion, such as demanding a person’s life savings to treat them for a life-threatening incident.

    Corporations, on the other hand, are typically engaged in maximizations, of efficiency, margins, customers served, sales, and in general the maximization of profits.

    This is a (subtle) difference between me and Mill, his conception of government is like a corporation trying to maximize a profit, but there is no limit on such profits, so the natural path of the government is to grow, to keep trying to finds ways to increase whatever has been defined as a “profit,” and that effort will come to dominate the society, and basically force everybody to adhere to whatever the government defines as “happiness.”

    I think a more useful approach is to conceive of government as a servant of the people there to prevent various kinds of harm to the people, by investigating harm and punishing those that inflict harm. Using that definition, there is a natural practical limit on how much of that harm can be prevented, especially if people collectively decide the budget for that prevention, i.e. what that prevention is worth to them. Then the government prevents and / or punishes as much harm as they can within that budget.

    I do not think these are equivalent ideas. If the government’s job is, as Mill put it, to maximize aggregate happiness, there is no good way to define that or put a ceiling on that effort. If the government’s job is, as I put it, to minimize violent crime, we can pretty clearly define that (and have), and there is a way to measure it and a way to tell when more money or bigger government (like more detectives or more officers) did or did not help.

    There is a floor on violent crime, or on any definable harm. That means there is also a natural limit on the size of government, because we can search for that “point of diminishing returns” on a minimization with far more confidence than we can on a maximization. Bigger or Smaller government is not the point, for the purpose of protecting the weak from the strong, we want government to be the size that minimizes harm, and no larger, because “larger” would just be a waste of labor and money.

  333. @Blouise: I agree with him 100%. In particular:

    When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

    I have been trying to stress that, and its implications, for years. On both sides of the aisle and for the President himself, claiming that a politician cannot exercise their constituted power because their hands are tied leads us to one conclusion: They put politics above principle. I have said it about Senators that settle for a “nay” vote instead of exercising their many rights to Holds, filibuster, or otherwise delay legislation they disagree with. I have said it about the President and Guantanamo, as the Commander In Chief he could close it in a week, it isn’t closed because he doesn’t want it closed. He could have terrorists tried in civilian courts in no time, but he puts political theater ahead of the principles of the rule of law.

    Reese is right, there are no insoluble government problems, what we have is what they want, and what they want has been corrupted by political opportunists that are not at all interested in serving the people, but serving the rich and wealthy to enjoy the luxury they will share and earn the gratuity retirement they will provide for the services rendered.

  334. Tony,

    I agree on all points.

    We have, to quote from your last post to Bron, reached, in my opinion, the “point of diminishing returns” in that this government no longer protects us from harm but rather have become the agents of same.

  335. @Bron: if 95% is true, how come around 50% are on some form of government assistance?

    A) That just isn’t true,

    B) Some of what you call “government assistance” is the deserved payoff of insurance policies the government administers; including unemployment insurance, social security, and Medicare. These work like any private insurance program in the sense that current premiums are not sequestered or kept aside, they are used to pay off claimants when claims are made. They are run by the government because unlike private insurance, the government cannot transfer the value of premiums to private parties in the form of salary and perks, and then claim corporate bankruptcy to screw their policy holders out of coverage that, due to the aging and accumulated disability of the policy holders, is coverage they cannot replace. The government is the ONLY entity that can guarantee coverage for the entire lifespan of a citizen, barring the extremely unlikely end of the country.

    Those benefits are not “government assistance” any more than insurance paying for a house fire is “assistance,” they are defined benefits paid for by taxes.

    Just like the roads, you are not supported by “government assistance” when you are transported on public roads, you are entitled to them by your various taxes, even in states far from your own.

  336. @Gene: Also consider that just because an idea is new doesn’t mean it is good and/or inherently deserving of respect.

    I analogize this to venture capital funding, which I know a little about. Even after vetting the hell out of potential companies, by the best businessmen in the country, the actual success rate of venture-capital funded businesses (meaning those that returned an annualized rate of 20% or more via the exit strategy) is around 35%. The dead-loss rate is about the same; companies that looked good enough on paper to get six and seven figure funding, and lost it all and closed their doors. And those rates are from well after the dot com era.

    Most new ideas are crap. In my academic research, I have wasted many a month on an idea I then abandoned. Like the venture capitalist, the point is to explore enough ideas that eventually something clicks and you have something useful. It could be likened to baseball batting averages; 0.267 is typical, and even then it us far more likely to be a single than a home run.

    So yes, maybe I over-reacted, but I get irritated when I am trying to FIND a new idea, and people rush to find fault, jeer at it, or dismiss it as laughable. Like most new ideas it IS probably untenable, but if we play those odds we will never find anything new worth trying.

    Besides that, the criticism in this particular case is flawed; certainly the founding fathers formed a committee that produced something most Americans agree has had enormous value. Committees are not destined to fail and should not be dismissed out of hand.

  337. @Blouise: Back to the backlash: The platform the Republicans just approved will Ban All Abortions without exception, Ban Gay Marriage Everywhere, Replace Medicare with a voucher system, repeal all aspects of Obamacare, etc.

    How is that going to play with the “Independent” voter? I think it will lose Republicans races everywhere, in the House, Senate and White House.

  338. Tony C,

    They’re appealing to the whacko base and the real base, sensible Republicans, know it. Gotta get those nutters to the polls so Romney doesn’t end up in Carter’s shoes. Anyone with any sense knows there is absolutely nothing they can do about changing the law regarding either abortion or Medicare … it’s all talk aimed at the whackos.

    The legitimate polls have been stable for months and all show Obama winning. The news media pounds on the economy but polls continue to reflect that although the economy is seen as having only weakly recovered, it has still recovered so Obama numbers aren’t affected much by the economy drumbeat.

    Partisan loyalty is also polling at stable numbers. In fact, Obama is more popular among Democrats at the end of this first term than Clinton was. Interestingly enough, he is as popular among Democrats as Reagan was among Republicans in his first term. You might not think that is so if you’re just reading the Turley Blog, but all the pollsters, political scientist and party bigwigs know it. Democrats are more loyal to Obama than they were to Clinton and just as loyal to Obama as Republicans were to Reagan. That has surprised a great many of the experts.

    In short, Republicans know the writing is on the wall and, in my opinion, they’re giving the abortion thing one last hurrah to satisfy the whackos and they’ll drop it completely come 2016. It’s had a good run for the last 3 decades but the younger voters are now getting older and going to the polls and they don’t give a da*n about the Catholic Church/Christian Right’s abortion hang-ups. Same sex marriage and equal rights for gays and lesbians may get some further mileage for Republicans … we’ll see.

    Gotta feel sorry for them … the economy thing isn’t hurting Obama and isn’t helping them and Obama got Osama so they can’t even pound him on defense.

    I think they are prepared to lose at all levels … they’ll pick up again in 2014 and push really hard at 2016.

  339. gbk,

    One of the interesting points I left out of the loyalty bit: President Kennedy’s average approval among Democrats during his term was only 4 points higher than Obama’s. Democrats are very loyal to Obama and will, more than likely, come out to vote.

    Naming Ran as VP had almost no effect on the polls which responded with very little movement.

    The election is Obama’s to lose and thus far he hasn’t taken a misstep. I suspect the convention bump will seal the deal.

    Another side-note … hurricanes and the Republican Convention … reminders of Katrina while the Republicans party … Issac is a problem in more ways than one.

  340. Blouise,

    “Another side-note … hurricanes and the Republican Convention … reminders of Katrina while the Republicans party … Issac is a problem in more ways than one.”

    Yeah, especially with “no stimulus here” Jindahl now requesting the feds pick up all the cost of all emergency protective measures:

    “We appreciate your response to our request and your approval,” Jindal wrote. “However, the state’s original request for federal assistance … included a request for reimbursement for all emergency protective measures. The federal declaration of emergency only provides for direct federal assistance.”

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57501394/la-gov-bobby-jindal-asks-president-obama-for-more-tropical-storm-isaac-aid/

    I don’t pay attention to polling data, so it’s nice to see someone’s take on them.

    Here’s a Mr. Fish cartoon you might enjoy:

    http://www.truthdig.com/cartoon/item/frost_warning_20120826/

  341. gbk,

    lol … love humor that sneaks up on you

    Here’s one of my favorite Far Side’s … nothing to do with politics but a lot to do with my original career

  342. TONY C:

    “I have said before that I believe the first function of government is to protect the weak from the strong;”

    No, it is to protect the individual rights and property of all people.

  343. @Blouise: I think they are prepared to lose at all levels …

    Which brings up the question (for me) as to what their goals actually are in running.

    I do not understand the rationale for this whole platform, I do not think “firing up the moronic base” is a rational strategy. Romney has already won the nomination, if anything he should have used this convention to turn the corner and make a bid for moderation. They cannot win anything with a 40% Bob Dole result (or even Dole’s projected 45% sans Perot).

    Romney really did run Bain Capital and make hundreds of millions of ruthlessly evil dollars, he is NOT so stupid or incompetent at negotiation and large scale management that this platform is out of his control. He knows how to be in charge and be forceful, so he let this happen, or helped this happen. The same thing with choosing Ryan and his cartoon politics.

    Unless he has had an aneurysm, Romney has to know this platform and Ryan’s politics have sealed the loss, he cannot get any significant share of independents or conservatives over 65. Even on gay marriage, 51% lean in favor, 45% lean against, and approval is on the rise.

    I do not understand what his game is. I don’t think it is coattails, a platform that loses Romney votes loses Congressmen and Senators votes too, right?

    I understood the McCain-Palin ticket. McCain thought his personality and heroism would win. Palin was in it for the money that would come with FOX fame, and she got that, it has vaulted her into the deca-millionaire category.

    Neither of those motivations apply to Romney. He had a rules lock on the nomination; Nate Silver outlined eight better VP candidates he could have tapped, and he could have used the convention to pivot to his true colors, moderate Republican. Embracing Ryan and this platform stinks of Koch Brother, Randian ideology, which is a guarantee of failure.

    I do not get what is motivating Romney to make moves that, he has to know, are ensuring a victory for Obama.

    (I am not rooting for either side, just watching the match.)

  344. I am not as optimistic about Obama’s re-election as you are, Blouise. The polls show a very close race. I am rooting for the party of Aiken, Romney and Ryan to lose badly. Only then can moderates or true conservatives take control of the republican party. Romney’s strategy is to win the midwest by appealing to the white working class with Ryan while at the same time using a little race baiting to accomplish this goal.

  345. During the Monica Lewinsky nonsense, I kept saying, “Listen to the stuff that is not being said.” I was convinced (since perjury is deliberately lying about something that is both MATERIAL and RELEVANT, and the sex with Lewinsky was NEITHER) that the whole theatrical production was being stoked by both the Republicans and the Democrats to keep our attention focused on something while the two of those groups of thugs were really doing something completely different, behind our backs. Wow, was I right.

    (By the way, I have personal knowledge of the now-T-Party Say-Anything-to-get-on-the-Radio Republican, Gilbert K. Davis, Esq. from Fairfax, Virginia, who engineered the Paula-Jones-US-Supreme-Court-Let’s-Keep-the-Morons-Busy-While-We-Hijack-the-Country production number to start with; it would be hard to find a less Christian-pontificating {can recite the 22nd Psalm in the original Aramaic, and does so if you take him to dinner} more dishonest drunk-driving-ticket-fixing self-righteous-poor-me-make-up-a-story-that-sounds-good Virginian than Gil, and HE CALLS HIMSELF MY FRIEND.)

    So now that we have theater about the rapists versus abortionists and the grandma death squads and illegal aliens filling our hospitals and the dykes, dikes, schools for slander and everyone for sale, gee,

    What do you think they’re all cooperating to hide this time? Listen really hard to the sound of silence; get that voice guy in to draw a graph of the silence, what are they really doing to us this time?

  346. Quickly (as playing catch up has been combined with storm prep):

    Bron,

    “’I have said before that I believe the first function of government is to protect the weak from the strong;’ [Tony]

    No, it is to protect the individual rights and property of all people.”

    Protecting the rights of the individual by definition includes as a primary function protecting the weak from the strong. It is literally impossible to do one without also doing the other. That’s basic logic. However, it is easy to understand how you could miss that basic fact when you filter everything through the Objectivism lens of “me, Me, ME!”.

    The government isn’t just about you, Bron.

    It’s about everyone.

    Just because you rail against anything you see that is a collective effort as being an affront to your “individualism” (read: ego) doesn’t make it either not fundamentally a collective action (like all forms of government are) or solely about individuals. It is the fundamental lack of empathy in your pseudo-philosophy and in those that adopt its tenets that prevent you from realizing this simple fact: civilization and societies are inherently cooperative collective actions by definition. No culture was every made up of one person. Ever. Anywhere.

    Like your statement to Tony, Objectivism is a failure at inception because it is built on fundamentally wrong, flawed or incomplete definitions that do not reflect reality. “Well society is made up of individuals!” Irrelevant. Collectivism comes in the verb and the plurality of the noun. When more than one person acts in concert it is by definition a collective action. Objectivism is, as Tony is want to say, a fantasy. A self indulgent wallowing in the idea that you are somehow special that keeps you from seeing that – yes – there is a world around you and it is filled with other people who are owed the same rights as you.

    Your ideas don’t fail under repeated critical scrutiny because you are the one making the argument, Bron. Your ideas fail under critical scrutiny because they suck. That you should choose to present them is beside the point. Poor logic, made up or incomplete definitions and a fundamental lack of understanding of civilization and society and how they work in reality as based upon observation due to ideological blinders that cater to self-worship.

    Seriously, man. Get rid of the Rand. She not just a joke but a poisonous joke that prevents you from achieving proper understanding of the world because her ideological lens distorts your ability to attain proper definitions.

    The proper function of the government is stated specifically in the Preamble and the Bill of Rights as applied to the Federal government directly and to the states via the 14th Amendment, and the remaining relevant Amendments.

    These functions include protecting the weak from the strong (the promotion of justice) and protecting individual rights including property rights (the enumerated rights and the retained rights as visited on a case by case basis).

    I’ll be back later to address the 3/5 split and electoral issues of plural presidency – which is by far a more interesting conversation than rehashing for the 1,000th damn time why Objectivism is inherently wrong and intrinsically anti-Constitutional.

  347. @Bron: when you pay $10 and get a $100 in benefits, you are on government assistance.

    Except that is not the case, is it? First, let me point out these are insurance programs, like unemployment. I have car insurance, I have home insurance, I have liability insurance, I have life insurance. If my home burns to the ground, I will be paid far more from my insurance than I paid in premiums. That does not mean I am on “Insurance Company Assistance.”

    Medicare is paid for by its premiums, or did you not know that? The taxes for Part A (76% of enrollees and the one everybody is entitled to have) go into a trust fund, and according to the managers of the Trust fund (in 2011) the trust fund plus anticipated tax revenue and premiums will cover 100% of Part A expenditures for at least the next 13 years (until 2024). This is an annual assessment done by the trustees, and throughout its lifetime the Fund’s average “insolvency period” has averaged about 11 years. It has never BEEN insolvent, because taxation policies get tweaked (as they were again in 2012) whenever the insolvency period drops into the single digits.

    For Social Security, the tax has historically been about 14% of wages. If somebody works from 18 to 65, that is a 47 year career (if they go to college at 18, their greater earnings will much offset the fewer working years).

    If people COULD put aside 14% of their earnings for their entire career, then under typical safe investment programs, the amount of modestly compounded earnings (5% annually), accounting for inflation, would still constitute over 20 years worth of benefits. In the USA, our life expectancy is about 78 years, which would demand only 13 years of benefits.

    (Although individual waitresses and fork-lift drivers may not be able to reliably grow their savings at 5% above inflation (3.3%); by pooling those resources we could expect that level of return over the long term for billions of dollars; it is beneath what most sovereign wealth funds would average in returns; another case of collectivism returning far more than individualism.)

    Social Security is not a 10 for 1 deal, it is a 1 for 1 deal at best.

    It is not government assistance, it and Medicare are government run insurance programs. The reason they are government run is because, as the Crash of 1929 proved, company run retirement programs and for-profit and free market insurance operations are not trustworthy on the timescale of a human lifetime.

    That is why we see so few plausible retirement programs among businesses, they were relieved of that duty by SS, their contribution and the employee contribution were defined and fixed as a tax, but they are still paid for by the employer and employee. It is not a redistribution of wealth.

    As always, you have been misled by shallow thinkers that cannot do simple arithmetic. Social Security and Medicare are not a redistribution of wealth, and they are not government assistance; they are programs administered by the government so that they can be run as non-profits, which shaves at least 15% off of premiums, and so that they can be relied upon for a lifetime, which is not true for ANY private, for-profit business operation.

    That is the failure of the free market or even the regulated capitalist solutions, Bron: Once the money is gone and the contractual promises are broken and the company has claimed bankruptcy, there are victims that will never be made right. All of Bernie Madoff’s assets will not repay the billion dollar losses of his investors; nor will his lifetime in prison make up for those losses, no matter how hard the broken contracts are shaken, no money will ever fall out.

    SS corrects that free market failure. So a company owner cannot promise there will be retirement money for 40 years and then shrug their shoulders when an economic downturn bankrupts them. The retirement program has to be run independently to prevent that problem. But no matter where it is run, if it is a private company the risk is the same: It can go under and bankrupt the retirement security of somebody that has already finished most of their career, and has no time left in their life to start over. The “independent” entity has to be something permanent, and the only permanent entities we can really count on being there fifty years from now are state and federal governments.

  348. Mitt Romney – a man whose own father built cars and nurtured communities, and was one of the old-school industrial anachronisms pushed aside by the new generation’s wealth grab – has emerged now to sell this make-nothing, take-everything, screw-everyone ethos to the world. He’s Gordon Gekko, but a new and improved version, with better PR – and a bigger goal. A takeover artist all his life, Romney is now trying to take over America itself. And if his own history is any guide, we’ll all end up paying for the acquisition.

    Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-20120829#ixzz24wWksRjd

  349. Bron,

    It’s really not that complicated. You cannot defend the rights of individuals without protecting the weak from the strong. Without that that dichotomy of power, there is no tyranny to defend against. Conversely, if you are not protecting the weak from the strong collectively you cannot protect the individual in a democratic and egalitarian society. When you selectively protect only certain individuals, you have oligarchy, not democracy. We have a Constitution that spells out an egalitarian democracy which is contrary to the tenets of Objectivism.

    Play dumb all you like. Just because you’re willing to adopt willful ignorance of the consequences of your chosen ideology? Doesn’t mean others don’t see through the dissonance and falseness of your positions as well as your, shall we say, “definitions dilemma”.

    The proper function of government is manifold. There is no “primary” function. And the proper function of government includes both protecting the weak from the tyranny of the strong and protecting individual rights (just in an equal manner).

  350. @Gene: IMO there is a primary function; the most primitive forms of government, both historically and extant, that are not despotic or dictatorships are basically forms of protection. Against murder, theft, enslavement or coercion, using military (for external threats) and police (for internal threats). I call it “primary” because (a) I think it is the first thing governments are formed to accomplish, (b) I have read of governments that do almost nothing but that, (c) I have not read of anything I would call a ‘government’ that does NOT do that.

    We can imagine small scale governments that do not tax, like Moses living off the spoils of conquest, or governmental functions supported by volunteerism (think of a posse).

    Restricting our view to non-dictatorship governments, when I try to carve away everything reasonably “optional” in such a government, even if it is a small government, what I am left with is protecting people from coercion and deprivation of life or property by force; which is what I mean when I say, “protecting the weak from the strong.” A subset of that is protecting individual rights; no individual alone can protect their own rights against a sufficiently large mob, no matter how many guns they own.

  351. Tony, et al,

    “Social Security and Medicare are not a redistribution of wealth, and they are not government assistance; they are programs administered by the government so that they can be run as non-profits, which shaves at least 15% off of premiums, and so that they can be relied upon for a lifetime, which is not true for ANY private, for-profit business operation. … managers of the Trust fund (in 2011) the trust fund plus anticipated tax revenue and premiums will cover 100% of Part A expenditures for at least the next 13 years (until 2024).”

    Here’s an interesting side-note that is messing big time with the Trustee’s predictions. People aren’t retiring. In other words, they are working and/or stating they intend to work for several years past their “official” retirement date. Thus they are still contributing to both the SS and Medicare funds. The Trustees have no way to predict how this continued flow or increase in flow into the two funds affect the future. It’s a good thing but unsettling for the forecasters.

  352. Tony,

    The key to the social compact is mutual benefit. While a substantive part of that is protection? Well, I’ll let John Cleese give you an idea of some of the “non-protective” functions of government in re shared infrastructure.

    The hangup here is the word “primary” – first in order of time or development, of first rank, importance, or value. Is protective services in the form of laws and order and mutual military defense a fundamental function of government? I would agree with that, but it is not alone or first in importance. It is rather conjunctive with the other mutually derived benefits government provides.

  353. “I do not get what is motivating Romney to make moves that, he has to know, are ensuring a victory for Obama.

    (I am not rooting for either side, just watching the match.)” Tony C

    Perhaps his job is to take down the Republican Party … or at least that arm of the party that keeps dragging them down so that they can reemerge as the “New Nixon” once again in 2014-16. He’s already proven that if he’s paid enough, he’ll do anything.

    As to Palin … she fooled ’em all … used them to her own advantage and then moved on. It was one of the best political con jobs ever done. The party of the grand con got conned by the simple, little girl from Alaska.

    Or perhaps Malisha is right … we have to look behind the sounds of silence because something truly evil is being enacted. Evil (I’m not speaking in a religious sense here, rather I am addressing the base capabilities of man) loves the dark.

  354. Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. ” (anybody who needs a cite should seriously consider moving to a different country)

    Safety AND Happiness

  355. @Blouise: The very first time I saw Sarah Palin speak on TV, I told my wife McCain just lost the election.

    As I have from the first weeks of Palin, I still maintain that Palin was in politics purely as a financial opportunist, her record in Alaskan politics supports that conclusion as well, her quick retirement as Governor to pursue FOX largess supports that. She was given a free national stage and played the rubes for all she could get.

    I think McCain, the proven philanderer and cheater, was thinkin’ with his dinkin.

  356. “I think McCain, the proven philanderer and cheater, was thinkin’ with his dinkin.” (Tony C.)

    Aha … I never looked at it from that viewpoint but hot da*n, you’re right!!!

  357. @Gene: …but it is not alone or first in importance.

    It is not alone, but it is first in importance. Without military defense or the enforcement of law and protection of rights, I think the “rest of it” is meaningless. (roads, education, clean water, sanitation, etc.)

    I think protection is not the only thing government can do, but is a prerequisite to all of the collective cooperative benefits a government can provide. (And government is not the only route to collective cooperation, there is also voluntary charity, trade, and friendship).

    A man alone can (and has) done without roads, or public education, or collective sanitation or water supply. A healthy man alone can dig a sanitation pit, tap a stream, grow his own food and livestock. He cannot defend himself for long from an invading army or gang of thugs.

  358. … now, what gets Romney’s dickin tickin?

    Greed. (code word this rime around … the debt)

    That’s why the conservatives like him. And make no mistake, conservatives always liked him … all those other losers running in the primaries were just for show as the Republicans tried to imitate the build up and suspense that the Democrats had accomplished in 2007-08. Romney had the nomination wrapped up 2 years ago because he is Mr. Greed and conservatives love money.

    Republican platform has always been, at least since Reagan switched from the Democratic Party to become a Republican …

    Sex in the closet

    Greed center stage

    Bigotry lighting

  359. Sorry … hit post before I was finished

    Happiness … it’s right there with Safety in the Declaration. The security of Happiness means something more than just the security of Safety.

  360. @Blouise: I think “the pursuit of happiness” is the freedom to do what you want to make yourself happy, including our rights like speech and association. I think government has two roles in this regard, one of which is its primary role: protecting your freedom of choice in such actions, or more specifically balancing your freedom of choice against the harm it might cause to others.

    So that leads us back to protection; the government (or at least my ideal of it) cannot tolerate others restricting your choices unless your choices are, in a fair analysis, likely to cause harm to others.

    Thus, drunk driving is not a valid “pursuit of happiness” because a fair analysis and experience suggests a likelihood of harm to others. On the other hand, “gay marriage” IS a valid pursuit of happiness because there is no fair analysis or data that suggests it can do any more harm to others than roommates living together. (And we do not define negative emotional states like outrage or disgust as ‘harm’.)

    So PART of “the pursuit of happiness” translates into the government simply protecting your right to choose a path for yourself, and that also means refraining from laws that unnecessarily restrict your path, or tax paths to which they are morally opposed. I do not believe, for example, in taxing cigarettes or alcohol to reduce smoking or drinking. I do not smoke or drink, I know the taxes are effective, but I do not believe in the philosophy of a nanny state, and I also believe such taxes oppress the poor more than the rich, and I disagree with any law that lets the wealthy buy immunity.

    Although I consider it a secondary role of government, I believe the second role of government, after protective services, is communal services. There are many things that everybody needs, like roads, health care, insurances, education, clean water, energy, elderly care, etc, and I am generally in favor of getting those done for everybody without any profit margin or anybody getting rich from it; and I think the government is really the only entity that can truly do that.

    So I believe that with such communal efforts, the government can help people pursue happiness by reducing the costs of that pursuit to the minimum. No profit margin for investors, no giant salaries, no outlandish perks, nobody gets rich. Just the cost of operations. But that minimization of costs really means the maximum “happiness” return for the true investors; the citizens.

  361. Tony C.,

    I believe I am reaching a fairly good understanding of your, for want of a better word, philosophy of government.

    Towards that end, could you address prostitution, not from any religiously moral standpoint, but from an acknowledgement of the practice within all societies and the government’s role, if any.

  362. I would have opted for “life, safety, security, and liberty” rather than “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness,” but then again, it was written by aristocrats who had plenty of help.

  363. Malisha,

    They were also a bunch of guys deeply in debt to British bankers … well not Washington so much but he had a lot of “western” land he was worried about losing. ;)

  364. @Blouise: With prostitution, my main concern is coercion, including the financial coercion of not having any alternative form of income. (that and legal adulthood, I should hasten to add.)

    I do not think prostitution is the type of work the government should be allowed to require, however. If a person refuses to engage in prostitution, I think the government should provide the minimum of food, shelter, and health care anyway.

    I do not think it is the role of government to decide who men or women may have sex with, or for what reason they do it, monetary or otherwise, as long as it really is their unforced choice.

    When I consider people meeting in a bar and leaving together to have sex, I think that is an unforced free choice. I fail to see how that does any more harm to anybody if an exchange of money is involved or not.

    What IS in the government’s wheelhouse is Rape, Slavery, Blackmail, Sexual Harassment, Threats, Assault, Battery, or in general Coerced sex. IMO voluntary sex is not in their wheelhouse.

    So I think that if a sex act is legal for a person to choose without pay, it should be legal for them to choose it for pay.

    That is not an absolute standard with me, for example I would not apply that standard to organ donation for pay. But I think sex is different than that, and can be voluntarily engaged in without affection by both genders, like a massage.

    I do not address the psychology of what it means to people to have prostituted themselves; because I do not think it is the government’s business to manage our psychological states for us, or to prevent us from doing things we might regret (or might not, if many prostitutes and porn stars are truthful about their lack of regret.)

    One role for government in prostitution, I think, might be in requiring periodic health inspections for STDs. Just like when citizens eat at a restaurant, I think they have a right to expect some minimum standards for disease control are being met.

    The hard part, I admit, is in distinguishing between prostitution out of existential desperation and prostitution as a free career choice made for high pay, low effort, and the freedom to pursue unpaid interests (like school or art). I think the solution to that is to do our best to eliminate existential desperation as a motivation for anything.

  365. Blouise said: “(anybody who needs a cite should seriously consider moving to a different country)”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Gene,

    Hope you’ve got everything battened down… good luck!

    Swarthmore mom,

    Great article—I plan on using it as reference material for an essay I’m writing on why I’m voting for President Obama (I have an aunt who has been trying to convince me that I shouldn’t be voting for Obama—I believe that she has invited me to question her choice as well… ain’t I a stinker?).

    Tony C,

    I share your goals (at least for the most part) and I respect your ideas, but I feel your analysis generally leaves a lot to be desired. Someone, I forget who, when asked what the most difficult thing in sport (i.e hit a fastball, get a hole-in-one, etc.), answered that the hardest thing was going into the locker room at halftime and convincing the team to abandon the strategy that got them to the Super Bowl because it wasn’t working.

    The Romney campaign, faced with whatever is hiding in his income tax records, did just that—decided that appealing to independents couldn’t work and changed to a strategy of firing up their base, spamming the airwaves in battleground states using their monetary advantage, and suppressing voter turnout (preferably in demographic groups which skew Democratic). Whether or not this strategy is ultimately successful or not (and I believe it has a non-trivial chance of working—as opposed to the conventional plan that you suggest, which would, in my opinion, fit the “doing the same thing and expecting different results” definition of insanity) is beside the point. They made their decision (in my opinion the selection of Paul Ryan as running mate was the point at which they went “all-in” on this strategy) and the only reasonable thing to do now is to honor their choice and hope it works. Your advice, to continue the Super Bowl analogy, is like suggesting that, after changing tactics at the half and getting to within 5 points, with the ball to the 40 yard line and 0:01 on the clock, the quarterback should check down out of the “Hail Mary” and run the ball up the middle…

    Bron,

    I haven’t forgotten your email—I just got swamped. In the meantime, consider this: what do you think it means that you cannot refute any of the logical arguments that Gene makes regarding your philosophical position?

  366. @Blouise: I should also state, for my “philosophy of government,” that I do not think government should conscript anybody for routine jobs (I am conflicted on conscription for the military, however). I think the government should pay market rates for the majority of jobs; just as we actually do in the USA. The wage should be high enough to fill the slots with qualified individuals, be they janitors or surgeons, and no higher.

    I am much less comfortable with the volunteer military, however (even though I volunteered). If people are going to risk their lives in battle, I think all strata of society should be equally at risk; rich or poor. Statistically the volunteer military over-represents the poorest segments of society, and I think the lack of risk for the rich and influential bias us toward war. I do not wish the loss of a son on anyone; I have lost two cousins to war. But whatever deaths there are in war should be proportionately distributed, chicken hawks squawk for war too quickly when all the funerals are going to be outside their gated community.

  367. Tony….

    You said something here that caught my eye….

    About the volunteer army… I TOTALLY agree….

    what you may NOT have thought about as far as a Conscripted Army… is that in the case such as Switzerland….
    Because they have a conscripted army…. they have FAR less violence over all, tho, they have as many if not more guns…. Of course Economic equality may have something to do with that as well….
    BUT, you can’t discount, that if EVERYBODY is equal in a Conscripted Army… meaning EVERYBODY is required…. then there tends to be a feel of MORE community…..
    People feel like they are all in this together…..

    Sorry…. I’m really ill… so I may not have written this very well…
    I hope you are able to get the jest of what I am trying to convey….

  368. @Slart: Our opinions differ, perhaps because I am far more incensed by Obama’s wholesale destruction of civil liberties and Constitutional rights, and I know others that (like me) voted for him that will not vote for him again, no matter what the consequences in the election. I won’t vote for Romney either, but even if he wins I won’t regret my decision; because I would rather Democrats have somebody to oppose (Romney) than continue strengthening the Imperial Presidency agenda.

    Because I know I am not alone in my opinion, I think Romney had a chance if he had run as a moderate Republican. I think 40% of the voters vote Republican no matter what, I think there are apathetic and former Obama supporters (I do not know about your university, but at mine enthusiasm for Obama among the students is nowhere NEAR what it was in 2008), and as a moderate I thought Romney might swing enough of the Independents to win, 50.5 to 49.5.

    I do not believe that anymore, so we may never know.

    The football analogy is pretty much lost on me. The only sports I watch are Olympic sports, every two years, and the occasional clip of an unbelievable catch or individual act. I have never had any team spirit or identification, apparently. I was a stickball, baseball kid. I have actually played football exactly three times. My nephew-brother is crazy about all sports, though, I imagine he can quote the free throw percentage of every quarterback in the league. ;-)

  369. Tony,

    The question becomes what are you protecting? If you are merely ensuring survival against physical threat then government with a primate function of protection is nothing more than a protection racket. You are not ideally just protecting physicality, but a way of life created by a civilization – a way of life that is in many ways defined by the collective work of that society. The collective goals of that society are those items which you would relegate to secondary importance. Our Constitution (in the areas already stated) along with the spirit of the DOI state what kind of civilization our Founders sought to create and many of us seek to proliferate and recreate every day in the faces of those who would tear it down for the satisfaction of their personal greed or some other agenda, but a society that is defined by “defense” instead of “living” is a society warped and twisted by fear and no longer driven by an aspiration to do better and to be more. If you want to think protection is the primate function? That is your opinion and you’re entitled to it, but I say that you miss the best part of what our Founders tried to create if you want to relegate the rest of the social compact of our country to secondary status. It’s not just enough to fight to protect the food and the women. That’s what bands of animals do. You must be fighting for something more. Ad astra per aspera. Through hardship to the stars. That more is (or was supposed to be by our Founders vision) a civilization that uplifts all who participate in it. E pluribus unum. From many, one.

    This is what we are losing.

    What we are getting in return is a state of perpetual warfare where our military spending outstrips the next global competitor five to one, the needs of the many are sold to the greed of the Koch Brothers and their fascist ilk, and the general welfare of our citizens rightfully due to all is the cost of co-opting the Constitutional duties of a corrupted government that no longer considers what is good for their constituents over what is good for their personal pocketbooks, services their maladaptive egos and serves the agendas of oligarchs.

    It’s not enough to protect. You must protect something worth protecting. The aspirations of our Founders for (as mespo has called it in the past) something bigger, brighter and better is worth fighting for. What we have now? A slow descent into stratified oligarchy where the Kings and Queens of a New Guilded Age party on behind their walled encampments while the rest of civilizations burns is not only not what our Founders envisioned and enshrined in the Constitution and DOI, but I say that is the very thing they sought to fight against as defined by what they choose as their “secondary considerations”.

  370. Gene,

    Glad to see you still have electricity.

    Thinking of you at all times and imploring the storm god to keep y’all safe.

    Slarti,

    I believe Tony was more right than wrong when he opined that Romney stood a better chance of attracting independents and moderate conservatives before the all in approach.

    Ain’t it nice living up here around the Great Lakes rather than the Gulf?!

  371. Tony C.

    Gene makes a very good point. Do you think, perhaps, that the time for government to inspire has faded … is now behind us?

    I’m with you on the prostitution thing on all points and as equally flummoxed about how to handle the military. We need to step way outside the box on that one.

  372. Blouise,

    I think you misunderstood my point—I agree Romney has damaged his chances with independents and moderates, I just think that he wrote them off when he picked Ryan and that he did so because the strategy to rally the base, suppress the vote, and outspend, outspend, outspend gives him the best chance of winning. Furthermore, having pretty much burned his bridges with the center (unless he releases his taxes which I can’t imagine him doing…), he doesn’t really have the option of changing horses in midstream anymore. I would also point out that I think Tony is implicitly assuming a well-informed electorate which is clearly not the case in the US…

    And yes, I’m happy that by the time Isaac gets here it will be a rainstorm rather than a deluge…

  373. Slarti,

    I’m sorry … I got your points all jumbled in my mind. Talking about Republican strategies does that to me.

  374. @Gene: Let me consider this from a different point of view; that of the founders. What is encoded in the Constitution as Amendments? In my view, other than organizational points, it is protections. The DOI may well give a nod to happiness, but in the primary document of the country, what has the most armor against being changed by the whims of any particular Congress are the rights of citizens which are protections. (They can still be changed essentially by vote, but a super-majority of votes).

    Unlike Social Security or Medicare or Medicaid, all of which can go down in a conservative storm, because they are mere laws.

    When I say something has primacy, I do not mean the government should be composed of that alone. Our funding of our military is ludicrously overdone to the point of danger, we are involved in our foreign adventures primarily because of that five-fold overfunding, I think. Our military would be perfectly capable of defending us from invasion on 20% of its current budget, with far fewer soldiers. The same goes for our 3000 intelligence departments, and 200 foreign bases.

    When I say it has primacy, I mean that is what needs to be funded first, that is what gets done right, but that is not what the government is about 100%. I believe in the Norway model and 50% socialism, 50% capitalism. To me that is the fair and intuitive split between partners, which is how the Norwegians consider it and how I think we should.

    That said, I also think that spending money on parks or monuments to 9/11 or an off-ramp for the new Walmart when the inner city has zero police protection and is awash in crime is just misguided. Protect first. Let Walmart fund its own off-ramp. When we have the murder rate at the floor of preventability, when our firemen have the equipment they need, when our soldiers have bullet-proof vests, then we will still have tax money left for parks.

    What I am talking about is the priorities of minimizing crime and predation. I do not think that takes an infinite amount of money; there is plenty left over for collective projects.

  375. Tony,

    Then the disagreement if over function versus priority. There is no primary singular function of government. It is an inherently multifunctional tool. However, if you wish to assign priority and are using primacy in that manner of speaking, I have no issue with it other than from the technical standpoint about function. Function and priority are not the same thing. It is a fine but important distinction especially when some people (and agendas) want to “simply” the role of government to attack and/or attempt to dismantle it (such as simplifying it to a protection racket where taxes are theft ala Rothbard). Government is a more complex and subtle structure than any of those appeals to the fallacy of oversimplification.

  376. Blouise, This is an interesting article on the importance of race in this election; it is paramount. It explains why the party is willing to give the white, ultra-conservative base anything it wants and rely on disenfranchising groups that will not support the party without major changes in the party. They have completely lost the African American, youth and (most of the) Latino vote. Whatever they want as a party, whatever goals were set that required a 30 year plan for re-positioning, comes to fruition this year or will have to wait for a retooling of the the party to cultivate a much more broad constituency.

    “Team Romney White-Vote Push: ‘This Is the Last Time Anyone Will Try to Do This’”

    “A Republican strategist said something interesting and revealing on Friday, though it largely escaped attention in the howling gusts of punditry … The Republican strategist told Brownstein, “This is the last time anyone will try to do this” — “this” being a near total reliance on white votes to win a presidential election.”

    http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/08/2012-or-never-for-gops-white-base.html

    Like SWM I am not confident that the race is going to be a shoe-in for the President. The 10 million vote majority that Obama had in 2008 was an anomaly in terms of voter turnout. I think that this will be a more normal election year in that regard. The numbers would be much closer without the voter suppression efforts which will further skew the results.

  377. lotta,

    I agree that the vote will be closer than before but I still think this is Obama’s to lose. Saying it’s Obama’s to lose is not implying a shoe-in; it’s recognizing that he could lose if he takes a misstep but if he doesn’t, “white-man rule” will not carry the Republicans … the South never did and never will rise again.

  378. Tony,

    “The same goes for our 3000 intelligence departments, and 200 foreign bases.”

    I have no idea of whether your 3,000 intelligence departments statement is true or not, though I suspect it’s close to that. However, your assessment of 200 foreign bases is far short of the mark — given known data.

    Granted, quantifying the number of US military installations in the world is not an easy task, by design, I’m sure. The first stumbling block is that the US military does not officially refer to any of their installations as a “base,” with one exception (see below).

    The US military has specific definitions of nomenclature predicated on the utility of the “installation,” and the most reliable source I have found in helping delineate what most everyone else in the world would call a base is from the pay-site globalsecurity dot org.

    Globalsecurity lists fourteen delineations of “bases” of which only one is referred to as a base, (I apologize for the huge cut and paste to follow, but it is what it is):

    ————————————————————————-
    Installation Complex — A combination of land and facilities comprised of a main installation and its noncontiguous properties (ranges, auxiliary air fields, annexes and/or missile fields) which provide direct support to or are supported by that installation. Installation complexes may comprise two or more properties, e.g., a major installation, a minor installation, or a support site, each with its associated annex(es) or support property(ies). See also major installation, minor installation, support site.
    Major Installation — A self-supporting center of operations for actions of importance to Air Force combat, combat support, or training. A Main Operating Bases (MOB) is operated by an active, Reserve, or Guard unit of group size or larger with all land, facilities and organizational support needed to accomplish the unit mission. It must have real property accountability through ownership, lease, permit, or other written agreement for all real estate and facilities. Agreements with foreign governments which give the Air Force jurisdiction over real property meet this requirement. Shared use agreements (as opposed to joint use agreements where the Air Force owns the runway) do not meet the criteria for a major installation. This category includes Air Force bases, air bases, Air Reserve bases, and Air Guard bases. Any Active Army installation which has 5000 or more US service members, US DoD civilian employees, and/or other tenants authorized as reported in the Army Stationing and Installation Plan (ASIP). Homeport locations of the operating forces with a minimum assigned strength (or equivalent) of a battlegroup, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON), Submarine Squadron (SUBRON), Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON), or six or more fleet air or land-based squadrons, and activities that provide depot-level maintenance to the operating forces.
    Minor Installation — A facility operated by an active, Reserve, or Guard unit of at least squadron size that does not otherwise satisfy all the criteria for a major installation. This category includes Air Force stations, air stations, Air Reserve stations, and Air Guard stations. Examples of minor installations are active, Reserve and Guard flying operations that are located at civilian-owned airports. Any Active Army installation not categorized as Major which has between 1000 and 5000 US service members, US DoD civilian employees, and/or other tenants* as reported in the ASIP; or 300 or more US DoD civilian employees authorized as reported in the ASIP. RDT&E activities, training activities, hospitals, and homeport locations of the operating forces with a lesser assigned strength than that of a major activity.
    Support Site — A facility operated by active, Reserve, or Guard unit that provides general support to the Air Force mission and does not satisfy the criteria for a major or minor installation. Examples of support sites are missile tracking sites, radar bomb scoring sites, Air Force-owned, contractor-operated plants, radio relay sites, etc. Annexes, minimally manned/unmanned installation/site with little or no real property, and leased office space. Examples are: units that are located on installations belonging to other Services, Maxwell Gunter Annex, radio relay sites, radio beacon sites, remote tracking sites, radar sites, and NAVAID sites.
    Colocated Operating Base (COB): A host nation base containing US owned facilities. These facilities are used and/or maintained by host nation personnel as stipulated by contract.
    Geographically Separated Unit (GSU): A location where permanently assigned US Air Forces in Europe personnel are not collocated with a US Air Forces in Europe Main Operating Base. Does not include contingency locations.
    A Main Operating Base (MOB) is an enduring strategic asset established in friendly territory with permanently stationed combat forces, command and control structures, and family support facilities. MOBs serve as the anchor points for throughput, training, engagement, and US commitment to NATO. MOBs have: robust infrastructure; strategic access; established Command and Control; Forward Operating Sites and Cooperative Security Location support capability; and enduring family support facilities. These are already in existence.
    A Forward Operating Site (FOS) is an expandable host-nation “warm site” with a limited U.S. military support presence and possibly prepositioned equipment. It can host rotational forces and be a focus for bilateral and regional training. These sites will be tailored to meet anticipated requirements and can be used for an extended time period. Backup support by a MOB may be required.
    A Forward Support Location (FSL) is a support facility outside of CONUS but not (necessarily) in a crisis area. FSLs can be depots for US war reserve materiel (WRM) storage, for repair of selected avionics or engines, a transportation hub, or a combination thereof. An FSL could be manned permanently by U.S. military or host-nation nationals, or simply be a warehouse operation until activated. The exact capability of an FSL will be deter-mined by the forces it will potentially support and by the risks and costs of positioning specific capabilities at its location.
    A Forward Support Location (FSL) Option consists of a theater where multiple squadrons at various locations are supported by a single Consolidated Support (or Queen Bee) activity called a Forward Support Location (FSL). The model computes stock both at the aircraft locations (called Forward Operating Locations-FOLs) and at the FSL.This option properly aggregates the demand at the FSL and estimates the total spares requirements based upon the NSN’s [National Stock Number’s] commonality. There may be significant benefits, namely savings in cost and airlift requirement, that could be achieved through the implementation of the “pipeline on the fly” technique. In fact, the unique adaptation of the FSL Option created during this research pointed to the possibility that the Air Force could save over 80 percent in both spares cost and cargo movement needs when the “pipeline on the fly” approach. No component repair is performed at the FOLs; all parts are immediately retrograded back to the FSL where they are either repaired or declared Not Repairable This Station (NRTS) and sent back to the Depot. Only LRUs are repaired at the FSL; all SRUs are sent to the depot for repair (100% NRTS).
    A Cooperative Security Location (CSL) is a host-nation facility with little or no permanent U.S. presence. CSLs will require periodic service, contractor and/or host nation support. CSLs provide contingency access and are a focal point for security cooperation activities. They may contain propositioned equipment. CSLs are: rapidly scalable and located for tactical use, expandable to become a FOS, forward and expeditionary. They will have no family support system.
    A Preposition Site (PS), by definition, is a secure site containing prepositioned war reserve materiel (Combat, Combat Support, Combat Service Support), tailored and strategically positioned to enable rotational and expeditionary forces. They may be collocated with a MOB or FOS. PSs are usually maintained by contractor support and may be sea based. They are an important component to our transformation efforts.
    En Route Infrastructure (ERI), is a strategically located, enduring asset with infrastructure that provides the ability to rapidly expand, project and sustain military power during times of crises and contingencies. ERI bases serve as anchor points for throughput, training, engagement and U.S. commitment. They may also be a MOB or FOS.
    Aerial Port of Debarkation (APOD) operations, by their very nature, cross inter-Service boundaries. The arrival and departure data for all unit equipment, personnel, and sustainment cargo moving to and from the APOD must be captured in AISs. There are three primary organizations operating at the APOD that may possess AIT enabling tools; Air Mobility Command’s Tanker Airlift Control Element (TALCE), the Army Port Movement Control Team (also referred to as an Air Terminal Movement Control Team, [ATMCT]), and the Army Arrival Airfield Control Group (AACG). Passengers arriving at an APOD may immediately board ground transportation for movement to the theater staging base, or they may process through a holding area before moving into the theater. Unit equipment moving inland from the APOD flows through a holding area and a marshaling area (if established) before movement to theater staging bases. The equipment holding area is usually located in close proximity to the aircraft unloading location. The holding area may be separated into several distinct physical locations (e.g., helicopter assembly area, equipment-holding location, pallet holding/reconfiguration area).
    ———————————————————-

    There have been many attempts to quantify the number of US military “overseas” installations. It’s quite possible that Senator John Tester’s preamble on his site in referencing his letter dated May 19, 2011 to former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates reveals some facts:

    “The U.S. currently operates more than 1,000 military installations on foreign soil, including 268 in Germany, 124 in Japan and 87 in South Korea. Approximately 370,000 U.S. military forces are currently deployed in more than 150 countries around the world.”

    http://www.tester.senate.gov/Newsroom/pr_051911_overseasbases.cfm

    If what Senator Tester states is true, or even close to true, your number of 200 US bases is inadequate.

    I don’t mean to disrupt the enlightening discussion on this thread, (a sincere statement), but when one presents numbers in passing of their argument the numbers should at least be in the ballpark.

  379. I hate how double spaces and sometimes cr/lf are stripped out of comments. Here, again, is the cut/paste from Globalsecurity, hopefully with cr/lf in between the “installation” definitions.

    Installation Complex — A combination of land and facilities comprised of a main installation and its noncontiguous properties (ranges, auxiliary air fields, annexes and/or missile fields) which provide direct support to or are supported by that installation. Installation complexes may comprise two or more properties, e.g., a major installation, a minor installation, or a support site, each with its associated annex(es) or support property(ies). See also major installation, minor installation, support site.

    Major Installation — A self-supporting center of operations for actions of importance to Air Force combat, combat support, or training. A Main Operating Bases (MOB) is operated by an active, Reserve, or Guard unit of group size or larger with all land, facilities and organizational support needed to accomplish the unit mission. It must have real property accountability through ownership, lease, permit, or other written agreement for all real estate and facilities. Agreements with foreign governments which give the Air Force jurisdiction over real property meet this requirement. Shared use agreements (as opposed to joint use agreements where the Air Force owns the runway) do not meet the criteria for a major installation. This category includes Air Force bases, air bases, Air Reserve bases, and Air Guard bases. Any Active Army installation which has 5000 or more US service members, US DoD civilian employees, and/or other tenants authorized as reported in the Army Stationing and Installation Plan (ASIP). Homeport locations of the operating forces with a minimum assigned strength (or equivalent) of a battlegroup, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON), Submarine Squadron (SUBRON), Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON), or six or more fleet air or land-based squadrons, and activities that provide depot-level maintenance to the operating forces.

    Minor Installation — A facility operated by an active, Reserve, or Guard unit of at least squadron size that does not otherwise satisfy all the criteria for a major installation. This category includes Air Force stations, air stations, Air Reserve stations, and Air Guard stations. Examples of minor installations are active, Reserve and Guard flying operations that are located at civilian-owned airports. Any Active Army installation not categorized as Major which has between 1000 and 5000 US service members, US DoD civilian employees, and/or other tenants* as reported in the ASIP; or 300 or more US DoD civilian employees authorized as reported in the ASIP. RDT&E activities, training activities, hospitals, and homeport locations of the operating forces with a lesser assigned strength than that of a major activity.

    Support Site — A facility operated by active, Reserve, or Guard unit that provides general support to the Air Force mission and does not satisfy the criteria for a major or minor installation. Examples of support sites are missile tracking sites, radar bomb scoring sites, Air Force-owned, contractor-operated plants, radio relay sites, etc. Annexes, minimally manned/unmanned installation/site with little or no real property, and leased office space. Examples are: units that are located on installations belonging to other Services, Maxwell Gunter Annex, radio relay sites, radio beacon sites, remote tracking sites, radar sites, and NAVAID sites.

    Colocated Operating Base (COB): A host nation base containing US owned facilities. These facilities are used and/or maintained by host nation personnel as stipulated by contract.

    Geographically Separated Unit (GSU): A location where permanently assigned US Air Forces in Europe personnel are not collocated with a US Air Forces in Europe Main Operating Base. Does not include contingency locations.

    A Main Operating Base (MOB) is an enduring strategic asset established in friendly territory with permanently stationed combat forces, command and control structures, and family support facilities. MOBs serve as the anchor points for throughput, training, engagement, and US commitment to NATO. MOBs have: robust infrastructure; strategic access; established Command and Control; Forward Operating Sites and Cooperative Security Location support capability; and enduring family support facilities. These are already in existence.

    A Forward Operating Site (FOS) is an expandable host-nation “warm site” with a limited U.S. military support presence and possibly prepositioned equipment. It can host rotational forces and be a focus for bilateral and regional training. These sites will be tailored to meet anticipated requirements and can be used for an extended time period. Backup support by a MOB may be required.

    A Forward Support Location (FSL) is a support facility outside of CONUS but not (necessarily) in a crisis area. FSLs can be depots for US war reserve materiel (WRM) storage, for repair of selected avionics or engines, a transportation hub, or a combination thereof. An FSL could be manned permanently by U.S. military or host-nation nationals, or simply be a warehouse operation until activated. The exact capability of an FSL will be deter-mined by the forces it will potentially support and by the risks and costs of positioning specific capabilities at its location.

    A Forward Support Location (FSL) Option consists of a theater where multiple squadrons at various locations are supported by a single Consolidated Support (or Queen Bee) activity called a Forward Support Location (FSL). The model computes stock both at the aircraft locations (called Forward Operating Locations-FOLs) and at the FSL.This option properly aggregates the demand at the FSL and estimates the total spares requirements based upon the NSN’s [National Stock Number’s] commonality. There may be significant benefits, namely savings in cost and airlift requirement, that could be achieved through the implementation of the “pipeline on the fly” technique. In fact, the unique adaptation of the FSL Option created during this research pointed to the possibility that the Air Force could save over 80 percent in both spares cost and cargo movement needs when the “pipeline on the fly” approach. No component repair is performed at the FOLs; all parts are immediately retrograded back to the FSL where they are either repaired or declared Not Repairable This Station (NRTS) and sent back to the Depot. Only LRUs are repaired at the FSL; all SRUs are sent to the depot for repair (100% NRTS).

    A Cooperative Security Location (CSL) is a host-nation facility with little or no permanent U.S. presence. CSLs will require periodic service, contractor and/or host nation support. CSLs provide contingency access and are a focal point for security cooperation activities. They may contain propositioned equipment. CSLs are: rapidly scalable and located for tactical use, expandable to become a FOS, forward and expeditionary. They will have no family support system.

    A Preposition Site (PS), by definition, is a secure site containing prepositioned war reserve materiel (Combat, Combat Support, Combat Service Support), tailored and strategically positioned to enable rotational and expeditionary forces. They may be collocated with a MOB or FOS. PSs are usually maintained by contractor support and may be sea based. They are an important component to our transformation efforts.

    En Route Infrastructure (ERI), is a strategically located, enduring asset with infrastructure that provides the ability to rapidly expand, project and sustain military power during times of crises and contingencies. ERI bases serve as anchor points for throughput, training, engagement and U.S. commitment. They may also be a MOB or FOS.

    Aerial Port of Debarkation (APOD) operations, by their very nature, cross inter-Service boundaries. The arrival and departure data for all unit equipment, personnel, and sustainment cargo moving to and from the APOD must be captured in AISs. There are three primary organizations operating at the APOD that may possess AIT enabling tools; Air Mobility Command’s Tanker Airlift Control Element (TALCE), the Army Port Movement Control Team (also referred to as an Air Terminal Movement Control Team, [ATMCT]), and the Army Arrival Airfield Control Group (AACG). Passengers arriving at an APOD may immediately board ground transportation for movement to the theater staging base, or they may process through a holding area before moving into the theater. Unit equipment moving inland from the APOD flows through a holding area and a marshaling area (if established) before movement to theater staging bases. The equipment holding area is usually located in close proximity to the aircraft unloading location. The holding area may be separated into several distinct physical locations (e.g., helicopter assembly area, equipment-holding location, pallet holding/reconfiguration area).

    Orwell is alive and well.

  380. @Lotta: I read that article, I see no way Romney gets 61% of the white vote; I do not think whites are that polarized against minorities. Racism is still out there, but there is also a great deal of mixing and disgust with racism. Part of that is proven by the election of Obama in the first place, clearly the majority are sincerely over it even in the permanent secrecy of the ballot box.

    What Romney forgets, or perhaps fails to comprehend, if that really is his strategy, is that we have an empathic community; hurting minorities hurts the friends and peers of minorities, and there is enough “mixing” going on in businesses, universities, the military and in particular public services of various kinds, the middle class of America and lower, that a large percentage of whites feel connected to minorities. They eat together, joke together, work together and rely on each other, it is an integrated work place.

    You don’t betray your friends in the ballot box, secret or not. I think too many whites feel that way for Romney to win on the white vote alone.

  381. @GBK: Here is a link to the Department of Defense definitions and a list of sites.

    What the DoD defines as an installation is basically anything they operate; they have 412 sf sites, smaller than my living room, that are basically a leased office inside a building which they call an “installation.”

    The DoD report I linked to shows 716 installations overseas, but are they all “bases,” or just a warehouse the German government is letting them lease for off-site storage and backup?

    200 is a number I heard by word of mouth some years ago, so it may be wrong, but for illustrative purposes I will stick with it, because I would not be surprised if 70% of those “installations” are not actually “bases” in the sense of their own land, security fence, etc.

  382. lotta,

    Tony’s points regarding polarization of the white vote are valid.

    I know people like to dismiss polls but I think that is because they are so use to the dramatization the news media coughs up using polls as the basis for gobbledygook.

    I prefer to read the analysis of polls from political scientists and I have mentioned the Monkey Cage blog site as an excellent place to read sane analysis. For instance, they have a posting regarding Ryan’s popularity:

    ” Since he was picked, Ryan has become somewhat less popular. As more Americans have developed an opinion about him, those with unfavorable opinions have increased faster than those with favorable opinions. Gallup’s data show that opinions are slightly more favorable than the YouGov data in the linked post, but they also show that those with unfavorable opinions have increased faster in the past few weeks—up 19 points—than have favorable opinions (up 13 points).” (John Sides, professor of political science, George Washington University)

    The point was also made in another article that “winning,” is indicated by showing change over time. Thus polling showing that attitudes toward Paul Ryan have grown less favorable over time do not support that he was a “winning” choice.

    Polls are useful if one does not approach them from a partisan angle and if one is willing to believe straight forward analysis.

    The polls regarding Obama must be read with the same sort of detachment.

    After both parties receive their “convention bump” which is predicted as small for Romney but even smaller for Obama, we shall see how things settle in.

    As far as numbers go right now, and keeping partisan hype out of the mix, it is still Obama’s to lose.

  383. The blog’s name is taken fro this quote: Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage. (H. L. Mencken)

    These people have a sense of humor

  384. @Blouise: One of my favorite humorous quotes is about economics, but could be equally applied to political prognostication: “The art of explaining tomorrow why the predictions you made yesterday did not come true today.”

  385. @Gene: However, if you wish to assign priority and are using primacy in that manner of speaking,

    I am using it in that sense.

    However, the management aphorism “Prioritization is an indirect way of deciding what will not be done” has some logic behind it; if there is enough time, money and personnel to do everything we would like to do, we can proceed on all fronts.

    Prioritization focuses limited resources on a subset of goals, so that when the time runs out or the money runs out we have accomplished our most important goals and ditched the least important.

  386. “One of my favorite humorous quotes is about economics, but could be equally applied to political prognostication: ‘The art of explaining tomorrow why the predictions you made yesterday did not come true today.’ ” (Tony C.)

    Also applies to religious end-timers ;)

  387. Gene,

    When the storm clears know that I am eagerly waiting for your opinions on the 3/5, Plural Presidency motion that is before this distinguished body of thinkers.

    (So help me, Slarti, if you change thinkers to stinkers I will send in my one man flying machine!)

  388. This has been a good discussion that has ranged widely, but quite informatively. I’d like to return though to the original subject of Gene’s excellent continuing series on propaganda. I the “Sound of Silence” Gene explores how sometimes propaganda can be effective in the absence of information and discussion about a issue. We see this with Paul Ryan, as limned by the mainstream media. There is an acceptance in the MSM that the Ryan narrative that he weaves is factual, when in truth it is not. He is a child of privilege, whose entire career has been spent in politics and elective office. His “budget plan” rather than representing an intellectual’s attempt to reduce the deficit, is actually a poorly conceived attempt to substitute political rhetoric, for economic sense. He has an extreme right wing theocratic view of social issues that is far out of the mainstream of the America public’s belief, yet the MSM fails to report it. Yet through its silent complicity and with its bald acceptance of the false Ryan narrative, the corporate media through its silence, spreads the propaganda of this false hagiography.

    This lack of information and acceptance of the campaign narrative by the MSM, is also true of Mitt Romney’s supposed business acumen and successful accomplishments with the Salt Lake City Olympics. This was perfectly proven in Mike Taibbi’s excellent article posted by SwM above: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-20120829#ixzz24wWksRjd

    A story this week even had Mitt’s sister stating to the press that despite a platform plank that would outlaw ALL abortions, women needn’t worry about it because Mitt would never move to implement it. We have heard similar things about Social Security and Medicare, two programs revered by most of the public, even though the Republican efforts/rhetoric for many years have been aimed at destroying them.

    Here is the dilemma that the MSM’s “silence” has caused. This country may well elect these two men and also a Republican controlled Congress, that will destroy these two programs, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans approve of them. Others here, who I respect greatly, have long disagreed with me on whether or not to vote for Obama. I am not comforted by some of their beliefs that Obama will get elected despite all and that even if he doesn’t get elected, these drastic changes will not occur. While we can be grateful that there are still great investigative journalists like Mike Taibbi and Russ Baker, ignoring the facts by the MSM has in fact produced effective propaganda through silence.

  389. @Blouise: Do you think, perhaps, that the time for government to inspire has faded … is now behind us?

    I guess I am not sure what “inspire” is supposed to mean here. As an academic, I am inspired by government on an almost daily basis; most new scientific results we see were funded by the NSF, DoD, or other government agencies (or foreign governments funding their universities). The vast majority of our graduate students are being funded by government, in one way or another, including state government and federal research grants that pay their salaries.

    If you are talking about interplanetary exploration by NASA, like the Mars rovers or space telescopes, I find that inspiring and exciting too. If you are talking about sub-atomic exploration by the LHC, or the thousands upon thousands of genetic explorations going on in our universities, I find all that inspiring.

    On the other hand, I do not expect to be inspired by routine administrative tasks, like health or structure inspections, tax preparation, or the DMV. I expect to find lines and long waits in nondescript and often out of the way accommodations, just because that is the most cost efficient way to provide administrative services to citizens. When there is a line, the servers remain constantly busy, and facilities are cheaper when they are not ostentatious or proudly occupying prime commercial real estate. Inconveniences are signs of health in public services, it means the management is minimizing costs, maximizing productivity, and providing the most help it can within their space and salary budget.

    I am not sure I would call that inspiring, but it is comforting.

  390. Mike S.,

    My stance has always been and will continue to be, especially in light of this “all-in” Republican platform, I will vote for Obama.

    I am a privileged white, protestant, female who, at close to 67 years of age will not see any changes to either SS or Medicare that will impact on me.

    I did not support Obama’s nomination and am not at all shocked by his actions or inactions as President because I did not fall for the “hope” propaganda in the first place. I’m somewhat disappointed that he didn’t “grow” into the office but not at all surprised.

    If it was only me I thought of then, in all honesty, Romney is no threat. But I have brothers and sisters out there who are African Americans, Native Americans, Latino Americans, Muslim Americans, Jewish Americans, Young and Middle-aged Female Americans, Poor Americans, etc., and I refuse to do to them what the Germans did to their country when out of fear and a false sense of me-ism they put Hitler in charge of their democracy.

    I do not consider that statement to be over the top and I do not consider it to be a false comparison. I know my history and I know how Hitler crept into power.

    I will vote for Obama because 10 years from now I don’t want to be one of those people who looks into the camera and says, “What gas chamber? I didn’t know that’s what they were doing next door.”

  391. Tony C.,

    I was still trying to understand your philosophy of government when I asked about inspiration. You fully explained some of that in your posts to Gene.

    And yes, I was talking about things like interplanetary exploration by NASA and especially the thousands upon thousands of genetic explorations going on in our universities. I am always willing to have tax dollars spent on inspiration.

  392. “My stance has always been and will continue to be, especially in light of this “all-in” Republican platform, I will vote for Obama.”

    Blouise,

    Of course I agree with this and with the possible results for the future that might be portended by Romney winning the White House. Obama has been a disappointment to me, but then so was every other Democratic President since JFK and he hardly had a chance to disappoint me. since I believe that we live in a coporatocracy controlled by the military/industrial/corporate complex, voting for me has always represented the electorate informing our
    “Masters” just how far they can go in oppressing us. The plutocracy is smart enough to know that too much oppression might lead to bad consequences for them, so this is measured by the electoral process. As far as I’m concerned one votes as a “holding action” until those of us who want real change, as opposed to rhetoric, can figure out a way to gain control that doesn’t involve violence, which to me is always self-defeating. The change needed is not one of “Isms”, but of understanding that politics has always been about lust for power and the need for the vast majority of us to turn politics into the real pursuit of the common good by rejecting the sociopaths who common lead all human society’s.

  393. Mike S.,

    It is not “Romney winning the White House” … it is what Romney represents.

    See the latest thread on this blog concerning the truth about this election as expressed by Senator Lindsey Graham in a statement he freely gave to the Washington Post: “The demographics race we’re losing badly. We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.”

    They are out of the closet and speaking truthfully. That is the Republican party and that is what Romney represents. ANGRY WHITE GUYS

  394. Blouise and Mike,

    President Obama is getting my vote as well both because, graded on the scale set by President Bush he still scores well (and scores better that I believe Romney will) and because I hope that we will get more out of him in a second term when he no longer needs to run for reelection. In addition, I completely agree with Mike regarding a “holding action” and I don’t think that voting for Romney is compatible with my values (or the espoused values of most Americans). I may have to hold my nose to do it this time, but I am no less committed to helping the president win than I was the last time around (in some ways, Ryan is scarier than Palin…).

  395. Blouise/Tony/JAG/Slarti,

    I haven’t forgotten about this line of conversation. I just had an unusual weekend and really couldn’t get into the spirit of things. I’ll get back to this though Rocky Raccoon style: “I’ll be better doctor as soon as I am able.”

  396. No worries Gene. I’ll just read this bible I found in my room while I wait (it’s Jefferson’s not Gideon’s, but it’s the spirit of the thing…)

    Also, I haven’t forgotten that I promised a comment on the math of propaganda (and to warn raff ahead of time… ;-) ), either, but I’ve kicked it down the road to your next propaganda post so as not to un-threadjack this very interesting discussion and because it was taking me longer than I thought it would.

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