« Cyber warfare article on NPR | Main | Constitutional Calvinball »

October 05, 2019

Comments

Clearly, this is the overwhelming question. And, as a necessary corollary, how do you/we fix that when the population is divided into (at least) two distinct groups, neither of which recognises the factual world (not just the concept of the government) understood by the other? I have been looking for example at Trump's own Twitter feed. Leaving aside his own self-exculpatory reasons for spreading disinformation, the fact remains that a huge part of the population believes (or at least is receptive to) the version of reality he spews. As you say, those people remain when he goes or dies, and their version of reality and facts is almost diametrically opposite to that of what I will have to call the empirically verifiable world.

"...what the hell was Hunter Biden doing on the board of Burisma?"

I think you'd be very surprised how many people sit on boards who have no knowledge, much less expertise, of the industries on whose boards they sit. That is not why they are offered the position on a board of directors. They are offered the positions because of the gold gilt edge they bring to the company letterhead, they only get the offer because of their names and prestige. Most boards of directors have a few of these gilded lilies in their arrangements, the real work is done by the greenery.

I think you'd be very surprised how many people sit on boards who have no knowledge, much less expertise, of the industries on whose boards they sit.

No, I would be completely unsurprised. And, from point of view of the board and the organization it represents, I'm sure there is value in having a number of "gold gilt-edged" personas on hand.

Which may or may not be less than ideal, from point of view both of corporate governance and of ethics, but in and of itself that doesn't bother me all that much. Not my circus, not my monkeys, as they say.

What does bother me is when the "gold gilt edge" consists of familial proximity to someone in a position of public responsibility. Or, not familial proximity, but when those are one and the same person. Because it undermines confidence in public institutions.

This is another case of Rump almost identifying a real problem about which he’ll either do nothing or make worse. It’s like the border crisis, which is a humanitarian problem his policies only exacerbate, that he misidentifies as a national-security and crime problem.

A very large number of Americans don’t have high levels of trust and respect for the government, and they’re generally OK with Trump being the junkyard dog who digs it all out.

It seems that Trump has accomplished one thing. Now, in addition to his fans having a low level of trust and respect for the government, Trump has drastically reduced the trust and respect that the rest of us have. At least for the political parts of his administration. .

Agreed about all this, but it is difficult to see the US government as having become more corrupt--relative to some, it always has been. Francis Fukuyama argues that the US was a place that, unfortunately, developed demoncracy before bureaucracy (with a professional class of civil servants). Looking at past exaamples of adult children of sitting presidents, there is no shortage of people who did better just because of their father's name.

The UK developed bureaucracy first, right? So are Oxbridge admissions more merit based than Ivy League "legacy" admissions? (Note that something like 40% of those Ivy Leaguers wouldn't get in on merit.)

So not sure our lack of preexisting bureaucracy is a convincing cause for corruption.

So are Oxbridge admissions more merit based than Ivy League "legacy" admissions

On the whole, while the system is heavily gamed by those with the benefit of an expensive private education, I’d say they are.

DCA: "demoncracy" is an unintentionally brilliant description of what got you Trump

it is difficult to see the US government as having become more corrupt

Really? When is the last time a president's children got security clearances over the objection of the people who assess people's fitness for clearances? When is the last time a president profited in his private businesses by using his influence to lure people to spend money there? Obviously, the Ukraine and China quid pro quo for dirt on political opponents is new.

there is no shortage of people who did better just because of their father's name.

This isn't government corruption. It's sleazy private behavior (and, yes, we all know plenty of people who do the functional equivalent of using their contacts and happenstance to make money). It may be annoying, but it doesn't add up to government corruption until our government is actually involved, either by helping someone profit by a relationship (Ivanka is an example), or the US government does someone a favor as a result of it (lifting sanctions, etc.) The corruption part has happened countless times (constantly) under Trump, and you have to dig to find it elsewhere.

Novak (author of the CNBC piece) says people aren't bothered by Trump pissing on the shoes of our national institutions every day, because they see those institutions as already corrupted.

Trump supporters are not anti-government because of Biden's behavior.
They're anti-government because they hate paying taxes or being told to take any responsibility for the society they live in. It's really not helpful to conflate the everyday practice of glomming off your family's prestige with government corruption. Those are two separate things (even though I agree that the former practice is unsightly).

Also, although I realize that russell wasn't purposely creating an equivalence between the Biden thing and Trump, could we please focus?

Please read this tweet, and the responses: https://twitter.com/brianbeutler/status/1180822695556071424

When we get rid of these monsters, then we can nitpick.

Thanks.

Can we discuss music, food, sports, ancient history, programming languages, poetry, or movies without derailing the impeachment?

Pretty sure we can talk about whatever we want...

Used to be that it was safest to stick to "everybody's health, and the weather" in making polite conversation.

I forget whether that was Henry Higgins advising Eliza Doolittle or Jane Austen advising some charming young hopeful.

Never mind. The point is that with Health Care and Climate Change being major political issues, that advice may be out of date.

--TP

Novak (author of the CNBC piece) says people aren't bothered by Trump pissing on the shoes of our national institutions every day, because they see those institutions as already corrupted.

This is a corruption of convenience. In the days of yore, if you wanted a federal job, you simply participated in the winning political party or bought it.

What is different this time is certain folks are determined, contrary to all available evidence, that they are somehow being left off the gravy train, and there is a political movement and a certain television network that issues forth nonstop propaganda to reinforce this view.

They are not so much against corruption as a moral principle, as they are determined to get their rightful piece "back".

We may discuss all of those subjects except programming languages, a subject which derails any remaining attention span left to me.

I notice Rubio, for one, countering impeachment questions with piercing questions of his own, such as "How 'bout them Yankees, hunh?", and for another, Joni Ernst, babbling into the earnest faces of her constituents petitioning immediate attention to the incipient destruction of all governance in bullshit America about her recipe for down-home potato salad dressed with a sizable dollop side of "Who me?"

By the way, Ernst, who has spent her entire waking career draining the taxpayer titty in one role or another, is the mealy-mouthed conservative pig c*nt (I mean this with all sincerity in the precise way any number of conservative vermin, male and female, in this country have referred to Hillary in the same loving, politically correct terms) who in her campaign for federal office threatened federal employees who might impose healthcare "solutions" in her soon-to-be-liquidated state of shithead-filled Iowa with the use of her weapon, which she always carries.

I don't petition filth like that to remove corrupt filthy monsters from office with moving emotional words, I petition with equally deadly firepower.

She shouldn't be asked politely and respectfully, she should be given a 24-hour deadline to meet those demands, or be included in the executions that are coming one or another.

I had an amazing beet salad in LA the other week.

And, how 'bout them Yankees?

Here's a take on corruption we should all seriously consider.

Uh, oh. Thullen is back!

And, how 'bout them Yankees?

How 'bout them indeed? Do you make predictions, JDT? I confess to not really following baseball at this point except to keep track of the standings, but a good friend of mine (like me, a lifelong Yankee fan, but constitutionally incapable of being optimistic about anything, ever) says they're not going to get out of the AL East because of Houston being so loaded. What do you think?

*****

As to the OP: I thought about it all day yesterday, but it's hard to even know where to start in answering the question at the end.

One observation: greed (for money/resources, for power over others, for status) is an eternal human trait, so this problem will never be finally solved. The best we can do is try to design systems that work reasonably well, and then keep on top of them....

Another thing -- and once again Michael Cain might chime in because he has direct experience in a legislative context -- is that this era adds a dimension in that so much of our culture is based on such huge, complex systems. I think someone told me oh, about 30 years ago, that Maine's work comp law was 1000 pages long. And even if that's an exaggeration, multiply it by 50, plus the feds, plus all the other areas of our shared world (telecom, medicine, energy, etc. etc.), and -- well, you sure can't deal with it just with amateurs.

well, you sure can't deal with it just with amateurs.

The normalization of complexity may well be our undoing.

The normalization of complexity may well be our undoing.

In that case, we've been undone since the beginning of human civilization. For that matter, we humans aren't alone in that.

We all (I say in self-justification) have our hobby-horses, the bees in our personal bonnets. At the risk of boring you all rigid, yet again, I repeat: the problem is far wider than, to quote russell's opening post above, the reality of a government that does not inspire trust. And later he says Novak (author of the CNBC piece) says people aren't bothered by Trump pissing on the shoes of our national institutions every day, because they see those institutions as already corrupted.

So, I repeat myself not because I believe I can go on hammering the same message out until you all agree, but only because I fear I have not explained myself adequately. The problem is not just a widespread perception, justified or not, that national institutions (including "government") are corrupt, or inefficient, or unnecessary. The problem is the foundation beneath such perceptions in the culture: a lack of common understanding of the world and the reality of facts associated with it.

In a current article in the NYT about the anti-vaccination movement, the following paragraph appears:

“Science has become just another voice in the room,” said Dr. Paul A. Offit, an infectious disease expert at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “It has lost its platform. Now, you simply declare your own truth.”

This is also the mechanism behind climate change denial, of course. But the fact that now, you simply declare your own truth, means that no version of "reality" has weight over any other. So any statement, whether about the purpose or trustworthiness of government or anything else, seems equally valid depending not on its empirical basis but on the prejudices of its hearer.

It may be that to solve this underlying problem misperceptions about government are worse than others, because perhaps you need "government" to begin to change the discourse, in education or otherwise. But the underlying problem, I do firmly believe (you can't have guessed!) is the lack of agreed upon bases of confirming reality.

The NRA this morning called for the confiscation by armed federal jackbooted conservatives of all whistles how held in the hands of the American citizenry and their public servants.

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/whistleblower-lawyer-representing-second-whistleblower

Their fascist corrupt spokesperson, and all of their bribed, blackmailed, and willing confederates in organized criminal politics, cribbing from Lauren Bacall, told decent Americans to just put your lips together and blow all conservatives and Republicans.

I'm back, but only momentarily.

These two comments are mere warm-up exercises for what will be my final post, when I cobble it together, at the esteemed Obsidian Wings, as I just can't do this anymore, and neither will you want me to, with maybe provision for the occasional visit to ruminate on books, music, food, and movies.

Houston's Verlander and Cole will be the Yankees' undoing, but who knows? I don't make baseball or stock market predictions. It's a mug's game.

I love the Cardinals, but I wish Houston was still in the National League so that we could could have a Houston/Yankees World Series in these the latter day's of the Republic for which traitors can't and won't stand.

My feral apostrophes will leave with me.

At day's end (and at every other time) it is clear, ObWi wouldn't be the same without you. Please never stay away too long.

Please never stay away too long.

Seconding this.

Per GftNC's 11:36: people having separate realities isn't unique to this era, although the megaphones of mass communication might make it more obvious, and louder, and maybe we are in fact in one of the more acute phases of the illness.

There has always been some level of resistance to compulsory vaccionation, as for that matter to compulsory schooling. As a home/unschooling parent, I was part of the latter. I do agree that education would help with this problem, if only we could agree on the curriculum, which only shoves the problem back a step.

I'm not happy with the current cacophony of truths, but I doubt I'd be happy back in the days of the One True Church either.

The problem is the foundation beneath such perceptions in the culture: a lack of common understanding of the world and the reality of facts associated with it.

Could be. But there is also this.

By the way, off topic, but a key witness in the Amber Guyger trial was shot dead in Dallas last night.

“The problem is the foundation beneath such perceptions in the culture: a lack of common understanding of the world and the reality of facts associated with it.”

This is true, but I would make a distinction between people attacking the scientific consensus on various issues because it offends their political prejudices ( lefties can do this too, but it’s more common on the right) and people who, for example, think the mainstream press is wrong or biased or both. In the latter case there are cases where the press is clearly biased and wrong, cases where the critics are biased and wrong and gray areas where it is difficult to tell or where possibly both sides are partly right and partly wrong. I have examples in mind of all of the above, but in my current conflict averse frame of mind I don’t want to spend a few days arguing about them.

But there are examples from the past where we didn’t know the truth for years or longer. Gulf of Tonkin, for instance, or the CIA role in the mid 60’s Indonesian massacres. The NYT helped cover up the latter. Someone just wrote a book about the CIA’s LSD experiments. Forgot the name. I haven’t read the book. We still might not know everything there. Anytime you have to depend on intelligence agencies or the government to tell you the truth about some nefarious deed you should be a bit skeptical and no, this isn’t a defense of Trump. I am thinking more about accusations about what some foreign enemy or ally might or might not have done. The nice thing about Trump is he is so openly corrupt it isn’t necessary to trust intelligence agencies.

“I am thinking more about accusations about what some foreign enemy or ally might or might not have done.”

To be perfectly clear, I am referring to real or alleged war crimes committed by friends, ourselves, or enemies. I am not referring to Russiagate. If you have to rely on our government’s word on war crimes, you might as well flip a coin in some cases.

Yeah, to paraphrase Casey Stengel regarding a certain Yankees third basemen during the 1950s, p is so bad that he's ruined corruption for everyone.

Stengel also said, of a pitcher, "I don't know if he throws a spitball but he sure spits on the ball", which could apply as well.

I doubt I'd be happy back in the days of the One True Church either.

Me too. But this is what I meant about not expressing myself adequately. I don't mean that the opposite of a cocophany of "truths" (the quote marks are necessary) is One True anything. I mean that to gingerly establish whether a hypothesis is true, one needs to prove it, by verifiable evidence which is available to impartial testers or witnesses. And if the evidence is found to be faulty, or the proof breaks down, you need to be able to alter the hypothesis. You can prove the earth is round, not flat, by various methods, so it should not be possible, or acceptable, to say that the "truth" that it is flat is of equal validity. You cannot prove the existence or otherwise of God, so subjecting it to the same kind of scrutiny is inappropriate (although personally I like Christopher Hitchens's formulation That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence). My point is that the concept of empirical evidence needs to come back into common mainstream understanding and acceptance, not that "the great God Science" should become the arbiter of what is true or not.

I pulled some of my map-making software out the other day and ran the county-level 2016 presidential election numbers through it.

http://mcain6925.com/obsidian/counties_2016.png

The upper map shows counties in the contiguous 48 states colored by Clinton/Trump results: light blue for Clinton >50%, dark blue for Clinton >55%, light and dark red for the same values for Trump. State outlines in yellow.

The lower map shows counties resized to reflect total votes cast. While I was expecting the blue bubble effect, I was surprised by how few pink/red bubbles are left.

My pessimistic answer to russell's last question is we can't. The two parts have decided that they want different things from the institutions. My wife and I are visiting rural-ish Kansas in a couple of weeks for her high school class reunion. I suspect I may have to bite my tongue off at some point.

It's really not helpful to conflate the everyday practice of glomming off your family's prestige with government corruption.

This is a really fair point, and I would put the Great Hunter Biden episode under the former rather than the latter.

That said, there is also the general issue of corruption, in the sense of self-dealing at levels major and minor, being epidemic in national government. It does undermine confidence in, and respect for, government, and that is harmful. IMO.

By the way, off topic, but a key witness in the Amber Guyger trial was shot dead in Dallas last night.

The Washington Post has a video of his testimony. Brave guy. No words.

Michael Cain: my eyes may be deceiving me, but is the ratio of the area of dark red to light red noticeably higher than ratio of the area of dark blue to light blue?

I guess if so this would just be a reflection of the way the R's have moved in lockstep to the hard right in the post Newt tea party era. During the Reagan era one of my favorite folk groups had a joke they'd tell between songs: "We don't belong to an organized political party." Pause. "We're Democrats."

For better and worse.

PS to Michael -- the maps are great. I'm bookmarking them for future reference and study.

No words.

That was my feeling when I posted the comment, and it still holds as to any attempt to express how I feel about this. And I'm a white person, from far away.

But on a practical level, a comment and a question:

1. If I had been one of the other witnesses, I'd now be asking for protection.

2. For the lawyers: is it possible to call in the FBI (let's say) to be the entity that investigates this crime, instead of the Dallas PD?

The two parts have decided that they want different things from the institutions.

Hard to argue with this. So i won't.

Also - Michael, as always, thank you for the maps. They are really well done, and very helpful in understanding what's going on.

As has been noted, many times, here and elsewhere, if we look at people, rather than acres, this is not a 'center right' country. Let alone a particularly conservative or right-wing country.

The unique nature of some of our institutions - the electoral college, the Senate - give rural states and communities greater weight in national representation than their numbers alone would merit. That has some value, in mitigating the possible downsides of a purely democratic polity. And is tolerable, up to a point, to folks whose representation is thereby diluted.

Up to a point.

And beyond that point, won't be and really can't be.

It's out of balance. Nature abhors the out-of-balance state. All systems seek equilibrium.

bobbyp, that link (at 12:01) is interesting. But jury nullification isn't the only way refusal to accept evident facts can go. I was on a jury a couple of years back with a guy (a fireman) who took the position that "I have worked with policemen, and if the defendant was arrested, at all, he must be guilty of something." Even though the evidence was substantially otherwise. And the police had arrived some time after the incident in question.

I expect it will take quite a while for us to get back to a generally shared reality. The first step will be to get back to an agreement that an objective reality exists. I think we lost that, in no small part, on the heels of liberal insistance that everybody's views were just as good as anybody else's. Even when they were about which way is north from here.

we still have the reality of a government that is characterized by systematic self-dealing and corruption, petty and otherwise

true of every government at every point in human history.

How do we fix that?

we elect new people. that's exactly what democracy is for.

a lot of people don't know that. we should address that problem.

I think we lost that, in no small part, on the heels of liberal insistance that everybody's views were just as good as anybody else's.

That's one way of looking at it, although speaking as a liberal I personally don't remember any such insistence. I think you (the US) may have started to lose that when the organs reporting the news were enabled to become organs of partisan propaganda, i.e. when the Reagan administration abolished the Fairness Doctrine, on the basis that it curtailed free speech, thereby letting slip the dogs of war - I mean confirmation bias.

I think we lost that, in no small part, on the heels of liberal insistance that everybody's views were just as good as anybody else's.

That's one way of looking at it, although speaking as a liberal I personally don't remember any such insistence. I think you (the US) may have started to lose that when the organs reporting the news were enabled to become organs of partisan propaganda, i.e. when the Reagan administration abolished the Fairness Doctrine, on the basis that it curtailed free speech, thereby letting slip the dogs of war - I mean confirmation bias.

I think we lost that, in no small part, on the heels of liberal insistance that everybody's views were just as good as anybody else's.

That's one way of looking at it, although speaking as a liberal I personally don't remember any such insistence. I think you (the US) may have started to lose that when the organs reporting the news were enabled to become organs of partisan propaganda, i.e. when the Reagan administration abolished the Fairness Doctrine, on the basis that it curtailed free speech, thereby letting slip the dogs of war - I mean confirmation bias.

Well back as early as the 1960s, the liberal position was that very opinion was as good, as deserving, as every other. Unfortunately it didn't stop at "deserving to be heard." It ran to inventing "your own reality" -- with or without the help of psychedelics. It may have been meant metaphorically, but it look like it didn't get taken that way in a lot of places.

I expect it will take quite a while for us to get back to a generally shared reality.

but when did it ever exist?

"Facts all come with points of view", the great David Byrne once rapped, in 1980.

any argument worth the name is going to be between two people who see the same situation differently.

Well back as early as the 1960s, the liberal position was that very opinion was as good, as deserving, as every other.

As a liberal with strong opinions who was around (and liberal, and among liberal people) in the '60's, I don't remember that. In fact, I seem to remember fairly strong objections to the opinion that the Vietnam war was justified, and that racism and poverty were acceptable in our society.

back in the 1860s, the US fought a big war against itself because one set of people thought slavery was God's will (or were cool with it because money is nice), and another set didn't think that.

same situation: slavery. two radically different viewpoints.

post-modern theory didn't have anything to do with that.

Well back as early as the 1960s, the liberal position was that very opinion was as good, as deserving, as every other.

That is simply a canard. I was there. I was a lunatic radical (still am, I guess). I have no recollection believing that widely held arguments in favor of mindless anti-communism, religious bigotry, oligarchic corporatism, and racial superiority were "as good" as just about any fucking thing that I might believe. I kinda' thought they were, um, bullshit. Still do. Now I did hold that my (admittedly minority) opinions should be given a fair hearing. That is not the same thing that you are asserting.

GftNC: ..., i.e. when the Reagan administration abolished the Fairness Doctrine, on the basis that it curtailed free speech, ...

It did curtail free speech in the form of "pay up or shut up." For example, any radio station that couldn't afford the air time and expense to cover all sides of an issue, couldn't cover any side of the issue.

I think we lost that, in no small part, on the heels of liberal insistance that everybody's views were just as good as anybody else's.

I would argue that the breakdown of the New Deal consensus in the 60's and 70's emboldened a well funded and powerful revanchist conservatism that consciously aligned itself with the deep religious bigotry typified by the "evangelical movement" and the white racial backlash generated by the civil rights movement. This has led to a rearrangement of the political chairs into two more deeply opposed and ideologically coherent political parties. These differences are rather heated right now, and despite some fundamental underlying similarities (belief is free markets, belief in US hegemony), are getting close to the tipping point of irreconcilable disagreement, as one of them is veering off into ethnonationalist authoritarianism.

And it is not the Democratic Party that is doing so. That is why the GOP has to be destroyed as a political force.

Can we discuss music, food, sports, ancient history, programming languages, poetry, or movies without derailing the impeachment?

Hard to know. But if you are seeking relief, check this out.

Well back as early as the 1960s, the liberal position was that very opinion was as good, as deserving, as every other.

bobby, sapient, no doubt I suffer from my own environment. (See Michael's electoral maps.) I was in Berkeley. Everybody was liberal, and fighting over what was "true" liberalism and whether to care.

Being pro-war wasn't an option available for division in the environment. Heck, on one occasion an anti-war activists showed up at our AFROTC class. He started with "The War is stupid and insane!" And was more than a little startled when we all nodded and said, "Yes, it certainly is. We should have departed long since, if we ever got involved at all."

It wasn't that we would have refused to go if ordered. But we could see that what was going on was daft. And we were what passed for dissident opinions at that time and place. So, as I say, my perspective of liberal positions at the time may well be skewed.

despite some fundamental underlying similarities (belief is free markets, belief in US hegemony)

Neither of these things are shared beliefs. Democrats believe in regulated markets. Republicans are isolationist/authoritarians. Republicans no longer believe that the United States has a role in supporting democracy throughout the world - they're fine with allowing authoritarian governments take the lead in policy in exchange for electoral assistance.

Democrats disagree about the extent to which the US has a military role, but we're on the side of democracy (except with regard to our historic alliances based on Middle East politics). Republicans no longer are.

check this out.

More and more, I'm thinking that humans are birds without wings.

Well back as early as the 1960s, the liberal position was that very opinion was as good, as deserving, as every other. Unfortunately it didn't stop at "deserving to be heard." It ran to inventing "your own reality" -- with or without the help of psychedelics. It may have been meant metaphorically, but it look like it didn't get taken that way in a lot of places.

I'm totally with sapient and bobbyp, this is unrecognisable as any part of the zeitgeist that I was involved in or witnessed. wj, you are not normally one to set up absurd straw men supposedly typical of lefty or progressive opinion, as say McKinney sometimes is, but this seems a very strange tack to be taking. What are you thinking of? People were encouraged to follow their bliss, be here now, make love not war etc, and certainly it was considered a bad thing to be too "judgemental" - perhaps this is what you are thinking of? - which I frequently was when arguing against what is now called New Age thinking (but then had no name so we called it "Atlantis Rising" as the most absurd expression of it we could imagine *pauses for extended reverie into the past*).

There were many naive and wrongheaded ideas around in the 60s, and as it turns out many good ones (environmentalism etc), but I am pretty damn sure that the consideration of all points of view as equally valid was not one of them, unless you can provide any convincing contemporary evidence to the contrary.

Everybody was liberal, and fighting over what was "true" liberalism and whether to care.

My extended reverie meant I missed your Berkeley reminiscense, wj, but surely this contradicts your own point?

But as to what you are basing your argument on, I wonder if you are thinking of the current incarnation of the wilder developments of New Age Atlantis Rising type thinking? Certainly, asserting any kind of equivalence (let alone superiority) of homeopathy, reiki, reflexology or the Gerson method over say chemotherapy is as mad as mad can be, but plenty of us were robustly making that argument then as now.

bobbyp: ... deeply opposed and ideologically coherent political parties ...

Hmmmm. What's "ideologically coherent" about a party that is:

"Pro-life" and pro-gun?
Pro-gun and anti-"death tax"?
Anti-"death tax" and Christianist?
Christianist and racist?
Racist and "pro-business"?
Pro-business and anti-science?

Not saying that's one of our two parties. Nope. Not at all.

--TP

It did curtail free speech in the form of "pay up or shut up." For example, any radio station that couldn't afford the air time and expense to cover all sides of an issue, couldn't cover any side of the issue.

This, while possibly true, seems a small price to pay for the now starkly apparent benefits of the Fairness Doctrine. I can believe that for people like you this may fall under the law of unintended consequences, but I imagine that many of the people who lobbied for the repeal knew exactly what they were doing, and who would benefit.

I imagine that many of the people who lobbied for the repeal knew exactly what they were doing, and who would benefit.

I was in law school at the time, and took a class in FCC law, taught by a Reagan apparatchik. You are correct, GftNC, and they weren't afraid to say so.

Hmmmm. What's "ideologically coherent" about a party that is...

At heart, all those "opinions" share a common foundation in a fundamental adherence to a concept of a more or less stepped social hierarchy, that some are better than others, and they they deserve to be "on top" (sic) and run things. This is not to say they are incapable of tearing each others' throats out at times (it's what we do), or that they can be otherwise incoherent.

The elemental reaction is the the common strain that holds them together.

There were many naive and wrongheaded ideas around in the 60s

LOL....indeed there were! But when you look over human history, you will be amazed to find that not at all uncommon.

Take today, for instance. :)

Even in the 1960s, I had principles.

If people didn't like those, I had others.

So, if my kid dies of complications from measles, and I can trace it back to some deliberately non-vaccinated offspring of a mother with the body of some armed, freedom-loving, libertarian/conservative p devotee and the head of a new-age, tie-dyed social worker, what is my course of action in this politely armed world of anti-government, anti-regulatory conservative judges?

My extended reverie meant I missed your Berkeley reminiscense, wj, but surely this contradicts your own point?

Ah, I was worried there for a minute, GftNC. My memory may be imperfect, but I don't think I was hallucinating then. (*I* didn't do psychedelics! ;-)

I don't think it does contradict my point. Just clarifies the environment I was looking at. The point was that the glorification of opinion, any opinion, at the expense of objective reality was what I was seeing. It may not have been universal, but it sure was pervasive where I was.

And that glorification of any and every opinion, with no acceptable way to judge between them or how they correspond to reality, leads pretty directly (philosophically, if perhaps not directly) to the place where people think their opinion on whether/how vaccines work is just as good as anybody else's. Manifestly, it ain't.

At heart, all those "opinions" share a common foundation in a fundamental adherence to a concept of a more or less stepped social hierarchy, that some are better than others, and they they deserve to be "on top" (sic)

On the other hand, some of us have the view that our views should be "on top", not because we are inherently higher in the appropriate social hierarchy. But just because, when tested against objective reality, ours result in fewer bloody noses from refusing to acknowledge that reality. And people get those bloody noses whether they agree with the "opinion" that it's how the world actually works.

In short, it is NOT (ala what I tend to see as a common liberal mindset) simply a matter of opinion. As noted, I may be misjudging the pervasiveness of that view on the left. All I can say is that I've seen a lot of it.

Note also that I'm not saying that I don't have my share of opinions rooted in my position in society as well. Just that there are some points for which my social hierarchy (or anyone else's) is irrelevant.

GftNC: I can believe that for people like you this may fall under the law of unintended consequences, ...

Speaking of unintended consequences, some examples: :)

"The last thing you'd expect to hear from anyone who's flown recently is that planes are too quiet. But that's exactly what Airbus is hearing from pilots who say the A380 super-jumbo makes so little noise they're having trouble getting to sleep.

Emirates airline pilots say the four engines propelling the long-haul jets are so quiet they can hear every crying baby, snoring passenger and flushing toilet, making it all but impossible to nod off during their breaks."
Pilots Complain the A380 Is Too Quiet for Sleeping

"This is a story-filled episode that looks at the unintended consequences of trying to control everything from traffic to rodent populations to dangerous gases."
The Cobra Effect

"Empirical results using the CPS suggest that the ADA had a negative effect on the employment of disabled men of all working ages and disabled women under age 40. The effects appear to be larger in medium-size firms, possibly because small firms were exempt from the ADA. The effects are also larger in states where there have been more ADA-related discrimination charges. Estimates of effects on hiring and firing suggest the ADA reduced hiring of the disabled but did not affect separations."
Consequences of Employment Protection?: The Case of the Americans with Disabilities Act

"This article measures the effect of the driving restrictions on air quality using high-frequency measures from monitoring stations. Across pollutants and specifications, there is no evidence that the restrictions have improved air quality. Evidence from additional sources indicates that the restrictions led to an increase in the total number of vehicles in circulation as well as a change in composition toward high-emissions vehicles."
The Effect of Driving Restrictions on Air Quality in Mexico City

"Sam found that mandatory seat belts did indeed cause more accidents. But this effect was roughly the same as the effect in the opposite direction, that accidents were less harmful. So the net number of fatalities of drivers was unaffected by the law. Sam found some evidence that the effect of the law might be to reduce driver fatalities. Unfortunately, because drivers were more reckless, there were more accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists. So their death rate due to cars increased. Total deaths were unchanged."
What Peltzman Found

All I can say is that I've seen a lot of it.

Really? Perhaps you could actually cite an actual piece of evidence, to back up your claim.

We all have opinions, ya' know. What makes you think that yours are especially tethered to "reality" as opposed to "liberals"? WTF? One would think that somebody making this claim could actually come up with some evidence.

With all due respect, fellow elder person.

I gotta say I'm as baffled by what wj is saying as everyone else, and some examples would be nice. Otherwise it sounds like so much bash the liberals BS, which as GftNC says is not characteristic of wj.

I too am old enough to remember... And I certainly remember, just for example, that part of my transition away from home in the late sixties was deciding that my own opinions about a lot of things were at least as valid as those of, say, the Fathers of the Church.

But that differs from what I take wj to be saying in at least two ways.

One: I'm talking about values, not facts.

Two: I didn't that decide all opinions were of equal value. I decided that mine were better.

For example, sex. I was taught as "fact" that we humans would burn in hell in unimaginable agony for all eternity for kissing each other in ways that the Fathers of the Church disapproved of.

I didn't decide that the opinions of the Fathers of the Church, and my opinions, were equally valid. I decided that theirs were vicious poppycock and mine were perfectly sensible.

I never knew anyone who asserted that "which way is north from here" was a matter of opinion, or anything equivalently idiotic.

Sheesh.

I certainly remember, just for example, that part of my transition away from home in the late sixties was deciding that my own opinions about a lot of things were at least as valid as those of, say, the Fathers of the Church.

But that differs from what I take wj to be saying in at least two ways.

One: I'm talking about values, not facts.

Two: I didn't that decide all opinions were of equal value. I decided that mine were better.

Actually, it is what I was saying. Making decisions limited to values of opinions/theologies/values was more common than doing the same extended to facts. But the "Overturn Authority" (to quite a common picket sign) attitude beld over for some. Not, it seemed to me, just a few -- although that might be my mindset as an engineer swelling their numbers.

I'm trying, unsuccessfully I guess, to make the point that when you move from rejecting an authority to rejecting Authority, you have started down the road to "my opinions of objective reality are just as good as anyone else's. And I don't have to do anything to va.idate them either." Which is where the anti-vaxxers (and, in my opinion, the more extreme libertarians, etc.) are at.

My apologies for not making myself clearer earlier.

P.S. Does that "Overturn Authority" sign count as requested example? ;-)

I'm beginning to think you lived through the 60s but didn't understand them, wj. "Overturn Authority" was a counter to "treat your elders with respect just because they're older", or "because I say so", whereas we were saying "Respect is only due to people who deserve respect". In other words, "Overturn undeserved, unearned Authority with a capital A". Or to put it another way, "the Authorities".

i suspect Roger Ailes wasn't rejecting authority when he came up with Fox News. rather, he was trying to make money by becoming a new authority, shared objectively reality be damned.

plus, shared objectively reality has never really been a thing. and people have been rejecting inconvenient or unjust authority since the beginning of time - usually in order to make themselves the new authority.

meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

I, too, am long enough in tooth to remember the 60's. The phrase "Well, if it's true for you..." was not uncommon.

So I think I sort of see wj's point.

That said, I'm not sure any of that has anything to do with the Fairness Doctrine, or the demise thereof.

How do we fix that?

we elect new people.

I doubt that is a sufficient remedy.

The fundamental assumption underlying the structure of our national government is that people - individuals, not "the people" but individual humans - are a sketchy proposition. Fallible, prone to putting their own interests above those of the nation as a whole, or even above those of the people they represent.

It was a very astute insight.

We can't rely on electing perfect people, or even extraordinarily good people. We have to assume that many of the people we choose to represent us will be, in many respects, ordinary. Fallible, prone to putting their own interests above those of the nation, or even above ours.

As long as the kinds and amounts of private money - cash, favors, promises of future employment, lucrative seats on boards, etc etc - that currently flow into and through national government continue to do so, we will continue to see the kinds of corruption - legal and otherwise - that is now a commonplace.

I don't really care about what things were like in the 18th or 19th or 20th C. We live now, and now national government is kind of FUBAR. In spite of all the good people we elect, who are actually many.

You can put the names of all of the folks holding national office on a wall, throw a dart, and your odds are at least 50/50 that any name the dart lands on can be associated with some kind of shifty business. And I'm being generous.

Not necessarily illegal, not even all that horrible. Just... questionable, ethically.

That's not good.

There are things - large, important, consequential things - that government needs to do. Other parties simply don't have the juice to get it done, or are simply not willing and/or are not interested in doing them.

In order for government to do those things, it needs the confidence of the governed. Otherwise government's actions will - correctly - be hobbled. And I say 'correctly' because government should not be running around doing big things that nobody wants it to do, or trusts it to do.

It matters. Basic transparency and confidence in government matters.

I am liking this suggestion for Democratic reform of the SC:

https://washingtonmonthly.com/2019/10/07/dont-pack-the-supreme-court-fix-it-for-good/
that would require a constitutional amendment, but there are other positive changes that could be implemented immediately. The Judiciary Act of 1869 set the number of justices at nine. New legislation could increase that number to thirteen or fifteen. That would make each individual justice would be less influential. In addition, the Senate could raise the threshold for confirmation to 75 percent of Senate votes to ensure that every justice would need bipartisan support to get confirmed. If those two reforms were enacted together, it wouldn’t be partisan court packing; it would be a permanent safeguard against ideological extremism. At the same time, it would encourage bipartisan compromise. There might need to be an enforcement mechanism to ensure that seats were not left vacant for too long, but most Americans would likely be thrilled to see Senators working together instead...

Basic transparency and confidence in government matters.

certainly.

that people don't trust it (or fully grasp their role in making it work) is a failing of education and a product of those who profit by that ignorance. the first we can improve. maybe that will help with the second.

I never knew anyone who asserted that "which way is north from here" was a matter of opinion

I do. But only people who have spent time at South Pole Station.

In order for government to do those things, it needs the confidence of the governed.

....

It matters. Basic transparency and confidence in government matters.

Strongly agreed, as is the rest of russell's 08.17 a.m. At issue is how you get the confidence of the governed, when the governed are split into factions (fissiparously or more or less into two) none of whom understand the world or anything in it, including government, even semi-congruously. I do not have a prescription for how to do it, but this is the problem. Do you do it by education? You need the government to take a hand in education by, for example, mandating the teaching of empirical observation, but faith in government is lost. Do you do it by media? You need a Fairness Doctrine, but there is no longer a Fairness Doctrine. How do you do it when the means seem to be unavailable, by bad luck or by design?

Nigel, that WM proposal would imo not work given the polarisation of the parties. If a 3/4 majority is needed tio fill a seat, it will not be filled. And if there is a way around that to prevent seats from not getting filled, the more ruthless party will concentrate on that.

I'd rather have anonymous and mandatory votes on judicial nominations, so the standard maneuvres of the moss cow midge would fail (no procrastination and no retaliatory party discipline).

I have several ideas for a constitutional amendment concerning the nominations for courts including making their term dependent on the majority they get. If it's only a simple majority, it will not be for life (but with the option to 'up-vote' them later to permanent status with super-majority). If the fail a minimum vote, they cannot be renominated by the same president.

Nothing like that is going to happen, naturally.

My favored solution: fifteen judges, fifteen year term staggered so that we replace one a year. Judges work on three judge panels for cases, subject to review and approval by the court as a whole.

As always, thanks for kind words about maps. Just for eye candy, here's the same data presented as a prism map.

http://mcain6925.com/obsidian/counties_2016.02.png

Same color code. The volume of each prism reflects total votes, the height reflects density (votes per square mile). The heights of a few counties are truncated for presentation purposes. Prism maps have a different set of advantages/shortcomings compared to cartograms.

My favored solution: fifteen judges, fifteen year term staggered so that we replace one a year. Judges work on three judge panels for cases, subject to review and approval by the court as a whole.

that's pretty much my favorite, too.

increase the size of SCOTUS to 15 or something. then have each case be decided by a panel of three justices chosen at random from the pool. make it more like the lower courts.

the current system is too easy to game.

Three would be too few, particularly in important cases with major consequences.

The UK, for instance, has twelve SC judges. Most often, only five will sit on a case, but for those of major constitutionalists significance (as recently*), eleven out of the twelve may sit in judgment.

*11/0 against the government...

I would also approve of such a rotation system with a few refinements added for special cases (in particular justices getting off the court out of (numerical) order for whatever reasons, e.g death, early retirement, impeachment). E.g this could be done with a pool of pre-arranged deputies that would fill in temporarily or as full replacement.

I'm beginning to think you lived through the 60s but didn't understand them, wj.

Entirely possible. At the time, I wasn't trying to understand them, per se. I was just getting on with my life and my education.

And I actually do realize that picket signs necessarily over-simplify things. Still, done well at least, they are suppose to capture the essence. And if I see the same message repeated over time, I think that it probably does accurately capture the essence of their message --else they would change wording.

"In other words, "Overturn undeserved, unearned Authority with a capital A".

You might be right that this was the intended message. What I'm suggesting is that, in that case, the message received may have been different from the message sent. Even with the biggest demonstrations (at least until Hong Kong currently) there are always far more people watching than demonstrating. And mostly what they pick up is signs and chants.

Michael -- fun to see both kinds of maps. In the prism map, not surprisingly I guess, there are far more tall blue counties than tall red. It would be interesting to do a study of the flat blue counties sitting inside lakes of red. Who are those people...? Why hasn't the press been doing interviews in *those* diners for the past three years? ;-)

*****

As to the OP and russell's equally thoughtful and thought-provoking 8:17 -- I'm with cleek about education being important (but hard to do anything about), and with Hartmut about the unworkability of the proposal in Nigel's linked article. My pessimism comes out of the near-despair of this moment: any system we design will ultimately be broken. Even so, we have no choice but to try to not only fix the flaws in the current system, but dream up a better one, which will work for a while....

As to education -- twenty years ago my son had a high school social studies teacher who tried his damndest to get the kids to learn how to think for themselves, to evaluate propaganda, and to see their (our) culture from the outside.

I have thought for a long time that the curriculum for kids should include conflict resolution/management studies, how to deal with bullies, etc. We could probably add self-government and collective decision-making, on top of ordinary civics, so that kids start to learn about "government" in a hands-on way.

That will be the day.

I never knew anyone who asserted that "which way is north from here" was a matter of opinion.

I have. Especially when they were supposedly trying to use a map.

Who are those people...?

College towns.

And the anomalous Floyd, VA. :)

Invoke the 25th now !

As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!)...

My pessimism comes out of the near-despair of this moment: any system we design will ultimately be broken. Even so, we have no choice but to try to not only fix the flaws in the current system, but dream up a better one, which will work for a while....

Agreed.
Though the ideas in the article I posted wouldn't be a terrible way for a newly Democratic Senate to start.

I quite like curriculum, but a course on practical skepticism would be a useful addition.

(Your) curriculum...

My favored solution: fifteen judges, fifteen year term staggered so that we replace one a year. Judges work on three judge panels for cases, subject to review and approval by the court as a whole.

The trouble I see with smaller panels is that it leaves a tendency to game this system, too. Go back early and often. You can always hope for a different panel of judges and a different decision. Even a unanimous 3 judge decision just doesn't have the clout of even a 7-2 decision of the full Court.

One of the things we need out of a Supreme Court is definitive decisions, which get applied nationwide. Going back to revisit a decision in a decade or five is one thing; going back every term or two is another.

Invoke the 25th now !

Who on earth do you think is going to invoke the 25th? The guy's cabinet officers are all his loyal flunkies, or they wouldn't be there. Not to mention how many of them are implicated in his crimes. See Rick Perry, soon to be former Secretary of Energy, and as soon as he announced that, also found to be implicated in the Ukraine mess. See William Barr, who is actively collaborating with Clickbait to thwart the House investigation.

Read the language below and show me any remotely feasible pathway to making use of it.

Section 4 of the 25th amendment:

Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President.

Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty-eight hours for that purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty-one days after receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session, within twenty-one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by two-thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers and duties of his office.

allow the full Court to decide whether it will take up a case or not, then let a smaller panel decide it.

?

Sorry, the vehemence of my 12:28 was inspired by the situation, not by Nigel, whose comment I was responding to.

I quite like your curriculum, but a course on practical skepticism would be a useful addition.

Seconded.

OT: Hartmut, if you're still around, I wonder if you could answer a question for me? The great love of my life, in my super-impressionable youth, used to tell the story of the statesman or general whose slave was tasked to wake him every morning with the words "Remember to hate the Greeks".

We all know about the slave who was tasked with whispering Remember you are mortal in the ears of victors parading through Rome, and Cato and Carthago delenda est, and I had occasion very recently to quote Timeo danaos et dona ferentes, but when I searched for any version of Remember to hate the Greeks I couldn't find it. Do you have a source or explanation for this story?!

Clickbait just tweeted this (hat tip Betty Cracker at BJ, but I went to Twitter to make sure):

As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!). They must, with Europe and others, watch over...

....the captured ISIS fighters and families. The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected, including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate. It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!

If that doesn't inspire someone to try the 25th, nothing ever will.

It's nice to know that the decline and fall of Western Civilization can now confidently be attributed to some hippie selling candles (and a bit of meth on the side) in 1968 when he uttered the infamous words, "Do your thang." Naturally "liberals" are brought into this, because as we all know, "liberals" do not believe in the TRUTH of ANYTHING, unlike conservatives who trot out Authority (capital A!!!!!), and thus have the epistemological upper hand.

Thus we are beset by 9/11 Truthers, anti-vaxers, chem trail adherents, fake moon landings, The Intercept, moonies, flat earthers, Alex Jones, and a host of others.

And don't overlook the doukhobors.

Despite all the hullabaloo and the 1968 Democratic Convention, hippies and New Age-ers were a distinct minority at the time, and their influence over the succeeding decades is just about nil.

But I'll point you to a couple of "truisms" that have done a whole lot of 'effin' damage:

Greed is Good.
I'm from the government, and I'm here to help (ha,ha,ha).
There is no society.

They were, after all, invoked with Authority. If you want to ascribe our current pathetic state to some words...well, those are them.

But whatever. I can't find my ass with both hands.

Janie, the grammar is too good (and the vocabulary too large). I bet it's one the staff created -- albeit at his (vague) direction.

The trouble I see with smaller panels is that it leaves a tendency to game this system, too. Go back early and often. You can always hope for a different panel of judges and a different decision. Even a unanimous 3 judge decision just doesn't have the clout of even a 7-2 decision of the full Court.

Three judge panel has to present its judgment to the full 15 for approval like a peer review process, and the judgment is not made final until it passes peer review.

Three judges of appropriate legal expertise. Prosecution and defense each pick one (or a small set number of acceptable judges from which to select one) and the court itself picks the third member to oversee the trial proceedings.

That's my best consociational, game theory take on the subject.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Blog powered by Typepad