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Preview: Comments on Contrary Brin: Irony #1: billionaire-subsidized "populists"

Comments on CONTRARY BRIN: Irony #1: billionaire-subsidized "populists"

Updated: 2018-04-19T11:24:57.541-07:00


On Brin's theme of "brittleness" due to lack of ex...


On Brin's theme of "brittleness" due to lack of excess capacity, here's an article on the potential impact of a flu pandemic on rail shipping.

A group in 2004 called "Billionaires for Bush" eng...


A group in 2004 called "Billionaires for Bush" engaged in the kind of politics Colbert is describing, but they raised it to an art form with "No Billionaire Left Behind." Check them out at

Shatner, Although you could in principle use the ...



Although you could in principle use the handedness of light to detect life, what you seem to miss is that most chemicals produced are mixed, not pure substances. Thus the light that bounces off them comes out looking like every other thing, making detection very difficult.

Partisan? Heck, this is what Newt Gingrich said.....



Heck, this is what Newt Gingrich said..

"There is no place for torture and arbitrary detention. There is no place for forced confessions. There is no place for intolerance of dissent." ..." "I -- and the rest of the Republican leadership -- will continue to take whatever action we, can to help move ... down the path of freedom, democracy, and liberty. As Americans, as political leaders, as free individuals, it is our obligation to do what we can to extend these basic human rights and religious liberties to the rest of the world."
-- House Speaker Newt Gingrich

Of course, he said it in 1997, and all the redacted parts are references to China.

We let the Criminals go after Watergate. We saw half of them again under Reagan, Bush, and Bush.

We let the Criminals go after Iran Contra, and the associated organization of nun-raping death squads in Central America.

We got to see them spend the last 7 years playing the same games.

"Accountability Going Forward" is a phrase Ford could of coined.

We hand out free passes again, and we will see worse come to pass in the not-to-distant future.

20 years ago, the School of the Americas was teaching foreign forces "techniques" like waterboarding, sensory deprivation, sexual humiliation,...and some stuff even CheneyBush wouldn't officialy (to our current knowledge) condone.

Of course, we were all told it was just to fight the commies, and none of OUR forces would ever do such things...

Now, 20 years later, we're told not worry our pretty little heads because, like Clinton, Obama won't endorse such acts being comitted by our forces (although he's still down with rendering suspects to Egyptian prisons where they will be forcibly dogs.)

The Taguba report included evidence that a detainee had a broken chem-light rammed into his rectum.

Do we leave the people who did it free to watch the sunrise?

It's not Obamas job to prosecute, or NOT prosecute. The AG is supposed to be an independent office.

It's Obamas job to declassify absolutely everything he can, and get the hell out of the way. He seems to be on track on part one of that equation.

Of course that doesn't mean we hang every E-3 who obeyed an illegal order to lock a detainee in a box for 12 hours. At least, as long as they are fully forthcoming.

That's my standard. Anyone not guilty of murder or rape (including rape with a foreign object) who is either Enlisted or below the Rank of Major gets a walk in return for a free and complete confession.

Every "Civilian Contractor" who did this crap for fun and profit, we throw the book at.

The CIA ought to be getting the roughest housecleaning of all.

I love Elegant and Brilliant The idea is to use th...


I love Elegant and Brilliant The idea is to use the "handedness of light" (polarization I suppose) to detect for life on other planets.

Earth life is decidedly "right handed" while the sugars are left. Don't' say that standards don't make sense fundamentally, because our solar system worked this out perhaps when it was a gas cloud.

So instead of analyzing the spectra off the planet, and looking for bands of light in this or that wavelength (using of course, something like a very expensive hair comb to band the light), you just see if the average light coming off of a planet is polarized one way or another -- because if life is prevalent, it will LIKELY, have a standard in its proteins and that means that reflected light gets polarized.

>> Cool!

>> And I think if we were serious about it, we could electrify the nation in 4 years. Israel has a three year plan. I don't think the Size of the use makes it more difficult -- industry is always supposed to do better with economies of scale. If we did a water-catalysis procedure, or even just batter swapping, we can do it cheaper than Israel -- ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL, of course it could cost more, but for each person (per capita) it is cheaper.

Notions to the contrary, is just left over brainwashing from all the can't-do crap from the current Plantation Owners of our century, who want the status quo to stay the same until they can get a percentage on the Sun. We went to the moon in less tim than we have debated Global Warming. If we had started in 2001, there is absolutely no reason we couldn't all be in electric cars right now. Of course you faze them in, and the Government sets up the recharge centers at all the gas stations by mandate and pays for it. The gas stations pay back the government over time. You have to create a ubiquitous infrastructure.

The only reason we aren't is the same reason we are still in Iraq longer than it took us to win WW II.

There is no debate on this issue -- there is no left and right. Not every damn thing in this world, requires years of debate and navel gazing. The US could be off of OIl in 4 years, and the reason we don't do that, is because it makes money for a few companies with lobbyists. End of story.

On the Civil War issue: I'll be the tie-breake...


On the Civil War issue:
I'll be the tie-breaker and decide for all time the actual blame that should acrue.

The South was wrong. Not for declairing their separation, but for failing to have a good faith effort to work within the system.

Just as the Protestant Reformation reformed the Catholic church more than the actual splinter groups. So to did the North bend over for the South.

I think Brin's talk about the slave holders makes sense. It's the same damn thing throughout history. We often look at the "battle of ideas" and look at Spain vs. France. But that is the rationale. The TRUTH is, that it is always about King Phillip, and wether king Phillip thinks he is richer than the King of England -- and if that pisses him off. The Southern Slaveholders, pushed the resentments and the middle class (such as it was) bearing a bit more cost from Northern goods, and turned that into a civilization destroying conflict.

Either the North is going to let us shop at WalMart (buying chinese goods), or we go to war! The ten cent on the dollar difference that could make employees of WalMart taxpayers not on the government dole is too much to bear! You can put a lot of window dressing on that, but its fundamentally what they are getting incensed about.

The Tea-baggers, are upset that Obama is spending $1.5 Trillion, on projects that will create jobs, or at least invest in things that will allow businesses to stay open (think about the restaurant on the path of the new high speed rail,f or instance -- they can now get a loan -- this happens BEFORE the money is spent in anticipation of it, so just SAYING THE GOV will spend has a huge effect -- I know my Financial Services company thinks about it). This money, vs. the $750 Billion in Tax Cuts and the $500 Billion a year spent on the Iraq/Afghan War (and Gas Pipeline to India). OK, so they want to go to war for a difference of $250 Billion that isn't pissed away overseas.

The best we can say is these are well-meaning dupes. You could make a case to reduce government spending while our Economy is OK -- but not during a severe recession/depression.

>> Enough said. The Fake William Shatner has spoken. Send your complaints to the Gods of history, because when I grok something, it is well and truly understood.

Oh, and put some raspberry sorbet in a Margarita to take the edge off -- yum! I have to go out to the beach right now and watch my Chica play volleyball. I am seriously blessed with about 12 really hot babes who somehow find me charming. I'll try to maintain my charming condition with equal measures of tequila and sun screen. If there is some way I can embed photos -- I would, for purely educational reasons.

I suppose I get grandiose with alcohol. It quite the demons of self-recrimination and angels of non-indulgence.

Anonymous is being a jerk again. TWinBeam did not...


Anonymous is being a jerk again. TWinBeam did not deserve the nastiness and if TB gives me the slightest nod (even offline) I will trash Anon's ravings.

Even though I agree overall with Anon's view that the Confederacy was a distillation of specious rationalizations, schoolyard-romantic immaturity and outright, oath-breaking, unjustified treason --

-- I will not claim in any blanket way that the southern states had no right to secede. Prima facie, it would seem logical that they did. A marriage that had earlier been based upon free and cautious consent would seem to be disoluble on a similar basis.

When The US Government pardoned Jefferson Davis, after the Civil War, it ran against a massive current of popular sentiment, but with a practical aim. Davis had planned to use his trial as a soapbox in which to establish that secession had been legal. The victorious Union wanted the de facto rejection of that principle to be accepted as a perpetual assumption, trampling the notion of state supremacy under the boots of half a million parading victors.

Parallels to this era? Walking a tightrope, President Obama trying to find ways to permanently reject the horrific moral lapses of the Bush Administration and to shine cleansing light upon them, without going to court trials that would further divide the nation and give rant-platforms to neocons, letting them bask in their favored drug of self-righteous indignation at public expense.

Back to secession, I often ask a thought experiment. If Puerto Ricans voted tomorrow, by 60%, to become a state, it is unlikely anyone would stand in their way. Only then, suppose 20 years later they voted by 55% to secede.... would anyone dare try to stop them?

That is why I am unalterably opposed to admitting PR unless they ask by 90% or more to be let in, and that their ballot proposition contain language making it clear that they are committing their children to a solemn and permanent marriage.

I don't know who TwinBeam is, but the contortions ...


I don't know who TwinBeam is, but the contortions of his twisted reasoning revealed in his failed effort to justify the South's secession on a legalistic basis qualify him as a veritable human corkscrew. Seldom have I witnessed such a craven example of self-serving rationalization in the defense of indefensible greed, depravity, and retrogression.Let's take TwinBeam's points one at a time, shall we?First, TwinBeam claims While the South was morally wrong, they were *legally* in the right about states rights, including the right to secede.Where is your legal basis for making that claim? Are you a lawyer? What legal precedents have you cited to bolster that vacuous claim?I see none. As far as I can tell, you have no precedents. That forces us to fall back on legal reasoning eo ipso.As David Brin points out, the South constantly referred to the Declaration of Independence in an attempt to legally justify their secession, but if you examine the text itself, such justification is entirely unclear:When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bonds which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. The declaration speaks of one people, not "some people" or "a few random guys" or "a collection of bystanders." It is by no means clear from a legal viewpoint that "one people" refers to a collection of disparate states. On the contrary, the most straightforward reading of the declaration would appear to entirely rule out any such interpretation.Moreover, we must consider the effects of the ninth and tenth amendments of the constitution on the legality of secession. It is quite true that the ninth amendment states "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."And, at first glance, this would superficially appear to provide some legalistic justification for secession. But, in fact, a simple reading of the preamble to the constitution makes it pellucidly clear that secession flagrantly conflicts with the stated purpose of the constitution of the united states:We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.Clearly, secession would destroy "a more perfect union," it would disrupt "domestic tranquility," and it would damage "the general welfare." Note well the legalistic chicanery the South tried with this thinly veiled ploy: by using amendment nine of the bill of rights (which merely states that by enumerating one explicit right the constitution cannot abolish another tacit right) the Southerners tried to claim that they could use one part of the constitution to abolish another part of the constitution. No, that doesn't fly. You can't re-interpret or misread or twist the words of one part of the constitution to delete other parts. If you want to delete or change part of the constitution, you must amend it. If the South had been serious about legally justifying their effort to secede, they would have mounted an effort to amend the constitution to allow secession. Of course, the South never did that, because they knew quite well that they wouldn't have succeeded. Amending the constitution requires a supermajority of state legislatures, and the South never had a chance of getting that kind of plurality for secession.Next, the South tried to use the tenth amendment as a ploy to legally justif[...]

"Obama DOJ seeks to restrict defendents' right to ...


"Obama DOJ seeks to restrict defendents' right to a lawyer during questioning"

The Justice Department is asking the Supreme Court to overrule Michigan v. Jackson, the 1986 Supreme Court decision that held that police may not interrogate a defendant after the right to counsel has attached, if the defendant has a lawyer or has requested a lawyer.

Change you can believe in!

"Obama DOJ seeks 5-year federal prison term for CA medical pot dispenser Charles Lynch"

Mr. Lynch, who ran a small dispensary in the surfing hamlet of Morro Bay, has become a symbol for the medical marijuana movement since his shop was raided in 2007. A registered business owner, Mr. Lynch has the support of the city’s mayor, city attorney, and the local chamber of commerce. Medical marijuana advocates see the case as a test of the Obama administration’s policy of non-interference on state marijuana laws. California is one of 13 states that allow the cultivation and sale of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Change you can believe in!!

…on Thursday President Obama will be giving the keynote speech at the 2009 National Holocaust Remembrance Commemoration at the US Capitol. The event is sponsored by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the theme of the event is “Never Again: What You Do Matters.” Here’s where the speechwriter’s problem comes in. As the museum’s press release says, `The notion that the Holocaust was the result of the actions of one man or a handful of leaders is false,’ says Museum Director Sara J. Bloomfield. `The ability to carry out the genocide depended upon the participation of tens of thousands and the acquiescence of millions. This year, as we remember the victims of Nazi Germany and its collaborators, let us reflect on our own responsibilities in a world of rising antisemitism and continuing genocide.' So, one week after the DOJ releases memos that made torture the legal policy of the United States of America, and shortly after Obama announced that those who carried out this policy would not face prosecution, the speechwriter has to craft a speech for a Holocaust remembrance event. Good luck with that, WH Speechwriter.

Change you can believe in!!!

Where I live, we could easily absorb a couple hund...


Where I live, we could easily absorb a couple hundred unskilled laborers picking up trash, removing pest plants, policing beaches, parks and campgrounds, or any of half a dozen other jobs that require minimal skills. Make a requirement of a minimum of two hours training every day in one of a dozen different employable skill sets, and you're on! You could even hire an unemployed teacher or two to do the training, while you're at it.

I still find a number of WPA projects tagged around where I work, including a rock wall with an inset concrete plaque. Remarkably they have survived over the last 75 years quite well.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It's... a flying...


Is it a bird?
Is it a plane?

No! It's... a flying robot penguin!!?

Which makes Jester's last remark look ... interesting! (Think 'March of..')

The only people who believe such gibberish are the...


The only people who believe such gibberish are the 1/3rd fringe extremists of a Party which only claims 1/3rd of Americans as members.

Basically, you don't push back. You just mock them once in a while.

I'd be all for a new CCC. I'm trying to think of h...


I'd be all for a new CCC. I'm trying to think of how it would be sold . . . and defended against cranks who weave stories about concentration camps or indoctrination camps. ("They're teaching them ghetto kids how to use an axe. It's a fascist martial art they'll use to raise our taxes!")

I hiked through an old CCC camp a few weekends ago. Really just the foundations were left, but they had a map of the camp and lots of pictures.

@ Jester: I figured it would be an easy sell. But ...


@ Jester: I figured it would be an easy sell. But that's what's curious about this. It should be a VERY easy sell, and it makes good, solid sense, so why don't we have this already?

Tea Party protests started before the Fox News cov...


Tea Party protests started before the Fox News coverage. Early coverage was by Pajamas TV and Instapundit and other bloggers. But it was not initiated without Fox News involvement for many months

Dragon - A new CCC is something that could be pas...


Dragon -

A new CCC is something that could be passed with little obstruction.

Obama already added a couple hundred thousand Americorps postitions recently, and got a couple dozen Republican votes in the Senate for it.

You put young people to hard honest work, pay them a living wage, give them some discipline and schooling...Americans eat it up with a spoon and ask for more.

Americorps, though, cannot do what the Civilian Conservation Corps did. Having served in the California Conservation Corps, I talked to a lot of original CCC old-timers and had similar experiences myself.

Americorp postions rarely include housing, and pay little more than minimum wage. Obviously, not a solution for young people without a support network.

Jobs that don't pay the rent aren't measurably better than no jobs.

Now, we do have hundreds of thousands of young people who do have a support network, and who benefit from Americorp. It's a great program, or rather, set of programs.

What it can't do is take a Homeless 18 year old kid with little verifiable job experience, minor leauge drug issues, and no diploma, and plop him out in the woods miles from nowhere with three hots, a cot, and health care for two years.

A CCC program can. I know. I was that kid. I was in that situation during the worst of the First Bush Recession, which hit San Diego County like a ton of bricks.

Jerry Brown is, literally, the reason I didn't wind up dead or in prison.

The original CCC was the most popular government program in the history of the country. More popular than Social Security, believe it or not.

It was the only New Deal program to get support from a majority of Republicans.

You ask any Republican if they would rather see a Hundred Billion go to Bailouts, or to paying millions of young men and women to plant trees, clear streams, build parks, fight fires, provide disaster relief, ect. while improving their education and learning job skills in a disciplined work enviornment.

It's officially a no brainer.

Hello ! a better cup of tea in economics (and some...


Hello !
a better cup of tea in economics (and some inspiration to broad your insights) might be the lecture of Simon Johnson´s daily essays published in The Atlantic.
See you in Cardiff by the Sea, maybe..
Viviana Martinez Tosar
Berlin, Germany

Jester: Yes, it's a suicide pact - but not partic...


Jester: Yes, it's a suicide pact - but not particularly relevant.
Hawker - I agree - secession was about slavery. For the South, the war was about half preserving slavery (and the economic and ego benefits associated with it), half battle for independence. The North had much more mixed reasons, but that certainly included abolition.

Interestingly, Georgia's statement points to rent-seeking northern businessmen glomming onto abolition as a political tool, to regain power and privilege. Remind you of anything you've heard around here?

Two sides to every story, even if one side is clearly more egregiously wrong when examined from a distant perspective. No purely evil demons - just humans, with all the good and bad that implies.

Hmmm... I was thinking yesterday about how the CCC...


Hmmm... I was thinking yesterday about how the CCC and WPA were crucial factors in pulling America out of the last Great Depression, and how they would never be accepted today, because they're too 'socialist' and all, even though they're really what we need, especially with rising unemployment.

And I was thinking, if only there were a way for something like the WPA to be accepted today, and not shot down by Republican/Conservative anti-socialists on a field day. It occurred to me that we already have people 'on the dole' through Unemployment Compensation. The government is already paying people wages, they're just not working. That could be the selling point. The government is already paying people who are laid off and not working, so instead of just paying them to not work, since we're already paying them anyway, why don't we just find something constructive to do for their wage? Increase the UC benefits to minimum wage, or a little above minimum wage (high enough to live off of, but low enough for people to seek other, better-paying jobs), and extend them indefinitely, but assign people work. Much of it would be make-work projects, a lot of little things, just so we get something constructive in return for the tax money invested in their wage, but with unemployment the way it is, there would probably be enough people together to do some not-so-little things. Stress the importance of doing a good, quality job, whether or not it goes fast. Even today, there are plenty of make-work projects that people could do, even real lazy people who can't hold down a regular job, both little stuff, and not-so-little stuff, and I'm sure we can even find the present-day equivalent of building outhouses.

The budget for UC would have to be scaled up, and some new departments and positions added (which adds jobs), so there would be more money spent, but the increase in return would be much, much greater. Instead of just paying people to not work, we'd be paying them a little more (plus added costs of infrastructure, equipment and supplies), to actually do work, produce goods and services.

What do you guys think? I'm sure it could use some polishing and refinement, but it makes good sense, and it should be an easy sell.

For interesting reading about the reasons the Conf...


For interesting reading about the reasons the Confederacy declared independence, one could peruse the Declaration of Independence of South Carolina at

It's quite clear: the reason for the declaration was that The Northern States have united to elect a Man Hostile to The Institution of Slavery. Not about taxes. Or property (outside of slaves). Not because of anything he did in office (indeed, he hadn't assumed office yet!). Signed and approved on the 24th of December of 1860, not even two months after the election, and a full three before he assumed the office.

The other state's declarations are also interesting, if not so blatant.

Jester refers to the notions that "we must all han...


Jester refers to the notions that "we must all hang together" and "to this we (unanimously) pledge our lives and sacred honor."

Jester was pointing out that it was a GOOD suicide pact! ;-)

Huh. I don't see anything about suicide in there:...


Huh. I don't see anything about suicide in there:

What's upsetting you, Jester? "That all men are created equal?"The recent election is bringing all sorts of crazies out of their shotgun shacks. How did Stewart put it? "They equate losing an election with tyranny?"

"The Constitution is not a Suicide Pact" The Decl...


"The Constitution is not a Suicide Pact"

The Decleration of Independence IS, and is explicitly so.

There is a reason Lincoln referenced it so often.

2009-04-22T11:27:00.000-07:00 TwinBeam. It does not fly. ALL civilizations hold that oaths are important. some supplement or replace oath-keeping with accountability to law and you show this bias, most modern Americans do. But most earlier societies considered the oath to be far, far more important.Indeed, the critical moment in the history of Germany was when the Army's general staff allowed Hitler to make all the soldiers swear an oath to him, as an individual, ejecting their previous oaths to the constitution. As for the 1861 secession movement? You have not read the Southern press of that time, which BTW excluded all comments, entreaties etc from Northern sources. The few papers that tried printing them were burned. The foremost issue was "Can we break our sworn oaths?" The prevailing argument revolved around the Jeffersonian texts in the Declaration of Independence, especially the preamble "When, in the course of human events,,,"Read it! Jefferson lays down the limitations and excuses permissible, that allow the breaking of an oath of loyalty, e.g. when the sovereign has thoroughly betrayed its end of the bargain, and when all recourses have been tried, to no avail. This preamble was cited endlessly, through 1860 and 1861......but few voices raised a timid hand, as in Monty Python, to ask "um... er... what betrayal?" Or "What recourses have we tried?" WHat negotiations? WHat offers? What discussions?This is not so much a matter of states' rights... since states-rights are just as artificial a construct as any other level of structure. Almost half of the COUNTIES of the south voted AGAINST secession, some of them vehemently, and they should have also had a right not to be dragged into foolishness or war against their countrymen. You can take the legalistic route to justify secession only if you also excuse repression of other rights. (Some southern counties rebelled from the rebellion and kept the Confederacy out, flying the starts and stripes till 1865.) If Lincoln's right to suppress secession had iffy legal grounds, so did the process of secession itself, and far more so.No, that's bullshit. The issues are oath-breaking - underwhich by their OWN standards the secessionists were outright, flagrant and utterly despicable, pure-and-simple traitors......or else it was about slavery... and anyone who says it wasn't is a fool. Even Ted Turner's south-loving series of movies admitted that... ...or else it was about class warfare, the frantic effort of a new baronial caste to maintain their rural/feudal/romantic/Sirfrancisscottish social order, by distracting hundreds of thousands of eager, poor whites and sending them to die, defending the privileges of the few (can you say "culture war"?)......or else (and this is the big one) it was something more fundamental. An outrageous betrayal of the pragmatic potential that a new, continental nation, based upon general Enlightenment principles, and that would generally TRY to create government by, of and for people, might break some of the old habits and patterns, and actually make a crucial difference in the development of humankind. The potential was there. Bright people saw it. They were talking about it, endlessly. It is the core thing discusses in the Gettysburg Address. A potential that many felt they OWED to future generations.For all its flaws, the fact that Amer[...]